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The Push For a Transformed United Nations
Most of humanity’s catastrophic risks are not from anyone trying to destroy humanity. Rather, accidents and unintended consequences are piling up because we don’t have the tools to address them. Our world interconnectivity has grown dramatically over the last several decades, but our international governance and public policy has lagged far behind. Humanity has been trying to deal with global issues at just the national level, and it is clearly not working.
Our meager solutions are thoroughly mismatched to the scale of the problems. But even if we had perfect solutions to our threats, we do not have the means to enact them. We are facing truly global threats that no one country alone can solve, but we do not have suitable global systems to get things done. Even if we had agreement among the world’s 197 countries, there are not sufficient tools for them to act in unison.
The United Nations is the natural hub for these global systems, but it is currently inadequate. Compared to the world’s needs, the UN is underfunded, understaffed - and most critically - not given the necessary authority to make things happen. Power is still held by nations, and they have not granted the UN the power to manage our world affairs. So, in this global anarchy, countries jostle for influence and fail to cooperate on the shared work of avoiding catastrophe.
The Human Survival Project will build a global grassroots movement calling for a Charter Convention to fundamentally transform the United Nations, to make it capable of addressing catastrophic threats to humanity. The “Charter” is the guiding document upon which the UN operates - the equivalent of a government’s constitution. At this Charter Convention, nations of the world will gather in negotiation to keep the best aspects of the current United Nations, while essentially restructuring it. The success of that Convention will be judged by whether the new UN is capable of preventing a global collapse of civilization.
We at The Human Survival Project are not alone in desiring a transformed United Nations. In fact, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Ever since the UN was imperfectly designed in 1945, smart people have put forward countless good ideas for improving it. A long list of think tanks, academics and policymakers have pushed for a stronger UN for decades. But the missing piece has been cultivating public will.
There is not yet a robust citizen-facing grassroots campaign to push countries around the world to support a transformed United Nations. Citizens around the world need support and coordination in pushing their national governments to support UN transformation. The Human Survival Project will start that campaign.
The campaign will offer three main types of assistance to the world:
Increase public understanding of the catastrophic threats humanity faces, and the need for a transformed United Nations. We will push solid information and promising solutions into the public realm, through educational materials, podcasts and appearances in a wide range of media outlets. This communication will be in multiple languages, free of jargon, in a way that average people can understand.
Coordinated advocacy that unifies many issue areas behind transforming the UN. Each catastrophic threat - climate change, destruction of nature, pandemics, advanced warfare, technology, etc. - has a collection of organizations, academics, policymakers and concerned citizens grappling with it. But too often, people are expecting solutions from governments and other systems that are ill-equipped to deal with those problems. We will build a network that helps people across many issue areas to cooperate on creating governance systems that are capable of addressing the various problems we face.
On-the-ground capacity for activism in many countries. No amount of conferences and policy papers will get this done. Citizens communicating with their government officials will. The campaign will support people in many countries to build political will to transform the UN. This will be a combination of tried-and-true advocacy methods, as well as cutting-edge methods that will attract attention due to their novelty.
We are very early in this process. We are currently crafting a detailed strategic plan, and are seeking funding to hire staff and grow the campaign. This website will offer occasional updates as news emerges.
We understand that our goals are extraordinarily ambitious. But the threats we face are extraordinarily dangerous, and without a stronger United Nations, humanity will fail. As far as we know, no one has yet tried to do what we are attempting. We are not yet positive this will work. Many people will consider us naïve for suggesting such an enormous change to how the world operates. But we believe that the status quo is naïve. It is naïve to think humanity can continue the course it’s on without catastrophic outcomes. We believe that if people around the world come to clearly understand the collective risks we face, they will be ready for big policy changes.
If you’re excited about the possibilities here and you want to donate your time or money to the effort, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us.