A Global Covenant

“Our global situation today is not unlike the condition of European nations during the great wars of religion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the wake of the Reformation… How can people of violently conflicting beliefs live peaceably together? Out of that crisis came the idea – variously framed by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau – of a social contract by which individuals agree to cede certain private powers to a central authority charged with the maintenance of order and pursuit of the common good.”

“We are not in sight of a global contract whereby nation states agree to sacrifice part of their sovereignty to create a form of world governance. There is, however, an alternative, namely a global covenant…”

“Covenants are beginnings, acts of moral engagement. They are couched in broad terms whose precise meaning is the subject of ongoing debate but which stand as touchstones, ideals, reference points against which policies and practices are judged. What we need now is not a contract bringing into being a global political structure, but rather a covenant framing our shared vision for the future of humanity.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 176