2048: Humanity's Agreement to Live Together

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9781605093307: 2048: Humanity's Agreement to Live Together
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2048 is the story of the most important international social movement in the 21st century: the drafting and implementation of an International Bill of Rights that will be enforceable in the courts of every country on Earth.
Written documents have always played a key part in the evolution of human rights—the Code of Hammurabi, the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence. In 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but its provisions are not enforceable so its promise remains unfulfilled. It’s time to take the next step. 2048 shows how we can create an agreement that will truly guarantee global human rights and the rule of law and have it in place by the 100th anniversary of the Universal Declaration—a visionary, audacious, but eminently achievable goal. J. Kirk Boyd outlines the freedoms this new document would protect and describes successful international agreements already in place that can serve as models.

But the 2048 Project needs you. “What you do with what you read,” Boyd writes, “is as important as what this book says.” He explains how people in all countries can help shape the document through the 2048 Project website (www.2048.berkeley.edu)—hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law—and offers practical advice for reaching out and building support step by step so that the International Bill of Rights will become the foundation of an irresistible grassroots movement.


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About the Author:

J. Kirk Boyd is a lawyer, a professor, and the executive dDirector of the 2048 Project. He teaches international human rights, civil rights, free speech, and constitutional law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. breaking chains by linking arms

Breaking Our Chains

The tightest chains that bind us are those that we place upon ourselves. We have bound ourselves with war and poverty by accepting the claims of those who tell us that “war and poverty are inevitable,” that they are “part of human nature.”1 But that’s changing. We are in the midst of a turning point for humanity — a span of 100 years when we are casting off the chains of this narrow-minded view and turning toward peace and prosperity. This turn is not wishful thinking: it is a social movement at a historical time when humanity has an unprecedented opportunity to prevent future wars, eliminate poverty, and create the conditions necessary for a sustainable existence on our planet. These ends can be achieved through a written agreement to live together that is enforceable in the courts of all countries. 2048 is a plan to make this happen.

This movement began with the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a set of fundamental human rights for all people, which was adopted unanimously in 1948 by all countries in the United Nations. (The Universal Declaration is attached as Resource A.) My aim with this book is to tell how this movement can be completed in two steps by the year 2048, the 100th anniversary of the Universal Declaration: first, by educating all people, including students, in all countries about the human rights they all share through the circulation of this book and other materials; and second, by drafting a document, an International Bill of Rights, which embodies humanity’s agreement to live together and which is enforceable in the courts of all countries.2 This document is called an International Convention on Human Rights because a convention is a treaty that can be agreed to by all countries. (The draft of the International Convention on Human Rights is attached as Resource B). Throughout this book the terms “International Convention on Human Rights” and “International Bill of Rights” will be used interchangeably.

These two steps, to educate people in all countries while working together to draft an International Convention, are complementary and interrelated. They are good news. The worn-out story that war and poverty are just the way things are so we should keep spending trillions of dollars perpetuating them is giving way to a new story, a new narrative that says peace and prosperity are attainable if we have a plan (which is outlined in this book) and we are willing to challenge those who keep propagating the same old myths.

These may seem like bold claims, and they are, but these changes do not have to happen overnight. 2048 is a gradual process that leads to deep-rooted social change. A gradual process is superior to the limited success of sudden violent revolutions. Often violent revolutions only lead to new equally bad rulers with little long-lasting social improvement.3 Some who are impatient or unable to look beyond their own lifetimes may think planning for enforceable rights by the year 2048 will take too long — but history shows us that truly historic transformations do not happen in leaps, but in turns.4 That is why 2048 is worth your time.

As you read through this book there are three things to keep in mind:

First, the 2048 movement has been underway for sixty years and is now coming to fruition. As you will see from the introduction and the first two chapters, we are not starting from scratch. The horrors of World War II were the turning point, and many individuals, nongovernmental organizations, universities, businesses (both for-profit and nonprofit), governments, and philanthropic foundations have collaborated to build this movement.

As a result of this work, there is an effective transnational model to follow that is working today for 47 countries in Europe that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Convention was the next document to follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was created in 1950, and works remarkably well for countries as diverse as Russia, the United Kingdom, Romania, France, Turkey, and the Netherlands. Based on this document, and the European Court of Human Rights that enforces it, European countries now live in greater peace and prosperity than they have in centuries. The success of the European Convention demonstrates to the rest of the world the potential for a new social order based on the rule of law rather than the rule of force. What works for 47 countries in Europe will work for the 192 countries on this planet. Just as the threat of war has been drastically reduced in Europe, it can be reduced internationally.

Second, 2048 includes every single person, village, town, city, state, and nation. It discards the myth that “me” and “we” are incompatible. When someone lights their candle from yours, they gain light while taking none. Reaching an agreement to live together makes each of our lives better, while also improving the lives of others throughout our international community. With the encouragement of my publisher, I tell parts of my own story in this book as a back story, but that’s all it is — a back story, and it’s not unique to me. There are many people with similar stories all over the world.

The real story is a collective one; it is about our shared humanity. Despite all the forces pitting us against one another and chalking it up to human nature, the truth is that humanity wants to live as a family and is working to that end. Today there are over one million nonprofits internationally working on social justice issues.5 The issue is not whether there is enough energy and funding; it is whether we can direct our energy and money into working on something together.

Does widespread participation in 2048 mean that everyone will be happy all the time without any disagreements? Of course not. Show me a family like that and it’s probably on television, not in real life. But just as families learn to work things out, so can our human family. To this end, Chapters 3 through 8 lay out the essence of humanity’s agreement to live together: “Five Freedoms,” to which all people are entitled. By recognizing these rights for all people, they are preserved for each of us.

Third, when you read this book and participate in the 2048 process, it will change your life, and the lives of your children and their children. This is not an overstatement. The enforceable International Bill of Rights that is achieved through the 2048 process affects every major decision and every moment of our lives — including what we can say about a corrupt politician to root out dishonesty, whether we can have a medical operation we need, how we can practice religion, and whether there is a place for us and our children at the university — as well as many other things. The reason 2048 provides a genuine direct impact on each of our lives is that the end result of 2048 not only creates our agreement to live together, but puts that agreement into the hands of judges with strong, impartial courts and institutions to ensure that our agreement is enforced. The 2048 plan is grounded in a strong international tradition of entrusting decision making to neutral, respected persons, whether they are tribal mediators or Supreme Court justices.

A strong international judicial structure to enforce humanity’s agreement cannot be achieved without deep and broad thinking. Chapters 9 through 15 lay out a concrete process, supported by the infrastructure of the Internet and the affiliation of many universities, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and philanthropies, for the realization of fundamental human rights on every corner, hillside, plain, and island around the globe. 2048 is a plan.

One of the main reasons I participate in 2048 is that, like so many others, I’m tired of hearing laments from people complaining about circumstances but having no plan to have a significant impact on the scheme of things. 2048 redirects lament into a document that is an enforceable agreement. This agreement is our social contract, an understanding about how we will treat and respect one another as well as an understanding with the representatives of government about how they will govern in exchange for our giving them the power to govern. And if elected officials fail to follow our agreement, they will be forced to do so through court orders issued by judges.

By discarding the propaganda and myths of others — most of whom are becoming wealthy or want to preserve their political power — we can break free from the war, poverty, and environmental ruin we are living with daily by maintaining a flawed international social order. Our international community is ready not just to rattle our chains, but to burst them. Through 2048 we can restructure our society to ensure peace, prosperity and a healthy environment; however, we must have the strength to break the chains that bind us.

Fortunately, the Internet makes it easier for us to break our chains by writing humanity’s agreement to live together. The 2048 Project at the University of California, Berkeley Law School has been organized to facilitate this international collaboration. Berkeley Law is not the leader of the 2048 Project, it is a facilitator. The 2048 Project is an affiliation of universities, human rights centers and institutes, and businesses, both for-profit and nonprofit, which are working together without any hierarchy to further a dialogue about enforceable human rights. The question before us is, can humanity reach an agreement to live together? All participants in 2048 have equal voices in offering answers. We are all in this together.

As discussed in detail in Chapter 14, “Write Together,” through its website, www.2048.berkeley.edu, the 2048 Project provides the means for everyone to participate in writing this agreement regardless of political party, race, wealth, education, sex, religion, or any other background that may have been used to divide us from one another in the past. Everyone from every nation and from every walk of life is welcome at the 2048 drafting table. The website is designed so that it is easy for people in all countries to comment about what they think should be included within an International Convention. If someone cannot log on to the Internet, then he or she can write a letter to the 2048 Project at the law school and their comments will be posted on the website.

As we think together about what we can do together (other than to lament), please remember that it’s not just a declaration that we are after. The goal is to have a written agreement that is enforceable in the courts of all countries by the year 2048, not merely to start then. Please see the timeline at the beginning of the book, and feel free to refer to it as you proceed through the chapters. The timeline gives us tangible goals and benchmarks. It will take widespread participation to achieve the benchmarks in the timeline. We all bring our thoughts to the marketplace of ideas by making comments on the 2048 website. By making a comment you spark others to do so; we are brainstorming together. This book is short, 50,000 words, so it is easy to read and to share with others, including book groups and on radio or television shows, and it can be easily translated. Please write to me with any suggestions or leads for appearances to help spread the word about the 2048 movement. In addition, the book is a way to raise funds for the website, translation, and other expenses. All proceeds from this book go to the 2048 Project.

Chapters 11 through 15 tell you what actions you can take; what you do with what you read about 2048 is as important as what’s written in this book. The success of the plan for peace and prosperity outlined here depends on our willingness to act. As Einstein explained, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.6 Because what you say to others about the book and how you participate in 2048 is important, the last four chapters explain how we can focus, think, write, and decide together to implement the 2048 plan. Using 2048 we can help one another to remove our chains. We are making sure that we are free universally, and not just within a particular country.

Thomas Jefferson, influenced by his experience in France during the French Revolution, understood the universal nature of rights. Fifty years after he wrote the Declaration of Independence, near the end of his life, he wrote that the Declaration was intended to cast off chains for everyone, everywhere: “May it be to the world[emphasis added] what I believe it will be to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all, the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves . . .”7 “Some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all” — this is the heart of the 2048 Project. The time has come for human rights to apply to all, regardless of the country in which they live. As U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of Allied forces in World War II, stated, “The people want peace so badly that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.”8 Today is that day.

The 2048 Project enables us to work together from a single website to restructure our social order in an unprecedented way. Today we can put our computers, cell phones, and anything else that connects us to the Internet on our kitchen tables, and send a comment. As Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web, which runs on the Internet, recently explained, this new type of international brainstorming is enabling humanity to solve problems such as disease in ways never done before.9 In particular, our young people today are ready to cross cultures and political divides to solve problems with our social order, but for them to do so effectively they must be taught about the evolution of human rights. 2048 gives students at the high school and university levels the knowledge they need and the means to act.10

Today there are many “leaders” in the world and most of them are not in political positions, nor are they only in castles or in large government buildings. Our leaders can be found internationally, in homes, offices, bookstores, construction sites, classrooms, and cafes. And when we turn our collective power to reaching an agreement to live together, we will succeed. There is nothing more powerful than 6.7 billion people thinking, speaking, and writing together. We can turn our social order away from war and poverty and toward peace and prosperity. As President John F. Kennedy said, “Our problems are man-made; therefore they can be solved by man.”11

Thank you for participating in 2048 by reading this book, telling others about it, commenting on our website, and any other contribution you can make. As you can see, 2048 is an ongoing dialogue. This book is written in a similar vein. Just as there are evolving new versions of the International Bill of Rights being drafted as part of the 2048 process, so too there will be a new edition of this book in response to new insights from readers. If you write to me, I will surely write you back.

Dr. John Kirk Boyd, Esq.
Executive Director, 2048 Project

University of California, Berkeley Law School
2850 Telegraph Ave., Suite 500
Berkeley, CA 94705-7220
kboyd@law.berkeley.edu
www.2048.berkeley.edu

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