International Solidarity is Required to Face the Challenges

  • 7 August 2008

The latest Millennium Project Report by the World Federation of the United Nations Association, entitled "2008 State of the Future," contains a clear and dangerous message that the whole world will suffer dire consequences if it does not cooperate in facing the challenges confronting it. The report listed 15 such challenges that could expose the world to conflict and instability caused primarily by rising food and energy prices, water shortages, climate change, organized crime, desertification, and the like. It also pointed out, inter alia, that 46 countries are increasingly exposed to armed conflict, 56 others are unstable, 700 million people face water shortages around the world, and that "a long-lasting international social conflict will become inevitable" in the absence of serious global policies to address the food crisis.

The challenges the report identifies highlight three particularly important issue. First, the challenges are global in the sense that rich and poor countries from around the globe, and not in individual or regional clusters, cannot escape their effects. Second, they are so severe and dangerous that not one state, whatever its specific abilities and capabilities, can face them alone. Third, that they are existential challenges to humanity and to life on earth, especially in regards to water shortages, climate change, and paucity of food.

These three issues lead to a single and basic conclusion: that the only option the world has to save itself from destructive security, climatic, social, and political crises is cooperation and unity. This is made especially salient since globalization has transformed it to a global village with interdependent constituent parts that cannot be isolated or protected by natural or military barriers.

And yet despite the increasing realization of the necessary unity in the face of global challenges, and the noticeable increase in calls for international cooperation at all levels, what is happening on the ground between states and governments remains below expectations. What we hear are theorists of cultural, civilizational, and religious clashes or those who call for new cold wars that exacerbate global conflict and pit the different world powers against each other. Instead, what we need is international cooperation that the above indicators make indispensable before it is too late.