The Quest to Civilise Globalisation

The Club of Athens Global Governance Group

Overview November 1, 2001

This document is Part 1 of the General Proposal for the Club of Athens. It was prepared by a team under the direction of K. Valaskakis, project coordinator, on behalf of the Executive Committee. Inputs and suggestions have been made by Yvan Allaire, Suzanne Pinet, Paris Arnopoulos, Daniel Seni, Robert Viau of the Montreal Unit and Jean-Claude Paye, Claude Nigoul and Dimitris Germides from the European Unit. The final editing was performed by Desiree Mc.Graw. This Overview and the larger General Proposal supersede all earlier drafts and reflect the state of the Project as of November 1, 2001.

The General Proposal is available separately and incorporates both this overview and a detailed proposal with a work plan and time table. A third document, also available upon request includes a business plan and budgetary projections for 2002-2005.

Please address all correspondence to either of the addresses below:

Club of Athens (Headquarters)
1784 Dunkirk Avenue
Town of Mount Royal,
Montreal H3R 3K5,
Quebec, Canada
Tel 514-737-3972

Club d'Athenes
Academie de la Paix
10 Avenue des Fleurs
Nice 06000
Tel 33-4-93-97-93-77

Founding Members of the Global Governance Group

(List of people who are supporting the Club of Athens / Global Governance Group and who have indicated their intention to participate in this project. The list is incomplete and will be subject to updating as this proposal is disseminated. Names marked with an asterisk indicate that the extent of participation of the persons involved is subject to final confirmation.

Executive Committee
(Core Group of Principal Initiators of the Project)

Kimon Valaskakis
Chairman of Executive Committee President,Club of Athens / GGG
Former Canadian Ambassador to the OECD, President of the Gamma Institute and Professor of Economics U. of Montreal

Jean-Claude Paye
Chairman International Steering Group Club of Athens / GGG
Member of the French Conseil d'État and executive, French Foreign Affairs Ministry

Yvan Allaire
Chairman, GGG - Canada Unit
Professor-emeritus Université du Quebec. Co-founder SECOR Consultants

Claude Nigoul
Secretary-General GGG - Nice Unit
Secretary-General, Academie de la Paix and Institut des Hautes Etudes Europeenes, Nice, France

Dimitri Germides
Chairman GGG - Athens Unit
Former Governor-General, National Bank of Greece and former Greek Ambassador to OECD

Suzanne Pinet
Secretary-General GGG - Athens Unit
Strategic Planner, on leave Canadian Space Agency and former senior executive Can. Int. Dev. Agency

Executive Summary

The Globalisation Challenge

Is globalisation the best thing that has happened to humankind or a major threat to society? Why is the anti-globalisation movement growing both in density and intensity? Is the contemporary system of international governance up to the challenge of globalisation, or do we face an imminent meltdown of authority structures?

The very tragic events of September 11th 2001 which involved the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington are, in some senses, a sad manifestation of the duality of globalisation. As a symbol of economic globalisation, the World Trade Centre (indeed, the world's trade centre) was the target; yet the presumed perpetrators used global networks and advanced telecommunications to co-ordinate their concerted attacks. September 11th underscored the limits to the power of the nation-state. Even a superpower like the United States was unable to prevent such attacks; the country has responded first and foremost with a call for concerted international action. More than any single event in recent world history, September 11th is powerful proof that isolationism and unilateralism are inadequate and outdated modes of state behaviour. Indeed, national authority structures must act together to ensure the respect for peace, order and good governance - both within and beyond their own borders. If threats such as terrorism are now global in nature, then so too must be their solutions. The globalisation of telecommunications, trade, and now terror must be met with the globalisation of democratic institutions.

Globalisation has the potential to bring both enormous benefits and significant threats to human society. Broadly defined as the migration of human activities from the confines of the nation-state to the larger theatre of Planet Earth itself, globalisation is above all a long-term historical process. In its contemporary form, it has been driven largely by technology and economics with social, cultural and political institutions lagging far behind. This uneven progression has generated asymmetric shocks, thereby creating big winners and big losers. It has also fostered (largely unwanted) global interdependence, wherein no nation or region can be an island isolated from world trends. As one author put it, we are becoming "one world whether ready or not." Left unmanaged, the World System is vulnerable to serious crises which - if they were to occur simultaneously - could lead to cumulative chaos and system breakdown.

The Governance Challenge

One of the most important impacts of globalisation has been its effect on governance. There is a danger that the borderless world which is emerging may also become a ruleless one, as present authority structures become ill-equipped to effectively address the new challenges engendered by globalisation itself. Contemporary governance is based on the juxtaposition of some 200 national sovereignties (the approximate number of countries in the world today). Known to legal and political scholars as the Westphalian Order, it finds its origins in the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 which ended the Thirty Years War. The historical significance of that treaty was that it established nation-state "sovereignty" as the highest legal power on earth against which there is no possible appeal. An act of sovereignty is by definition absolute and unchallengeable; and it serves as the central organising principle of the present world order.

One of the by-products of Globalisation has been to severely weaken this State Sovereignty System by demolishing its supporting pillars. While sovereignty itself is exercised over geographical territory, contemporary challenges are not limited by the political borders of nation-states. As a result, there is a disconnect between the domain of sovereignty (territory) and the challenges it is supposed to meet, most of which transcend national territory. For instance, the Internet, climate change, the AIDS pandemic, mad cow disease, global trade and finance, international crime and terrorism, present pressing challenges which cannot be met by purely national legislation. These global problems have rendered current governance structures inadequate, ineffective and, ultimately, obsolete.

A second key pillar of the State Sovereignty System is the assumption that national governments are the world's most powerful players. While this was true in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it is becoming less so today, as non-state actors ascend on the world stage. Multinational corporations rival many governments in economic power and exercise - inadvertently or not - some governance functions. Other non-state actors such as religious movements, sects, civil society organisations (CSOs) also exert greater influence in world affairs. Less visible but very powerful are criminal entities such as mafias and terrorist groups which have globalised their operations - some more successfully than many legitimate governments or corporations.

Against this explosion of potent non-state actors and the breakdown of nation-state authority, dozens of inter-governmental organisations (or "IGOs" such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation) have been created since the end of World War II. However they themselves now suffer from crises of effectiveness and legitimacy. Most IGOs do not have significant enforcement capabilities, and must ultimately bow to the nominal supremacy of national sovereignty. In addition the accountability, transparency and representativity of these world bodies - even when they are composed of democratically-elected governments - are now publicly, and sometimes violently, challenged by the anti-globalisation movement. A number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) now purport to better represent ordinary citizens, or "Civil Society." Whether this claim is valid or not, the perceived lack of legitimacy of IGOs - particularly those which address international trade and finance issues - has fuelled the rapid growth of an anti-globalisation movement which has succeeded in disrupting official summits from Seattle in 1999 to Genoa in 2001.

The Triple-G Concept

The Global Governance Group (or "Triple-G") is an international initiative which aims to address the challenges of globalisation through innovative approaches to global governance. Its "Triple-G" approach applies not only to its title, but also to its three-pronged purpose as well as its tripartite structure.

The Global Governance Group has three key goals:

  • to promote a better understanding of the products and processes of globalisation as well as the linkages among them;
  • to provide a forum for meaningful and constructive dialogue among proponents and opponents of globalisation;
  • to propose and promote solutions which are both desirable and feasible in the medium-run

To achieve these objectives, the Triple-G adopts an organisational structure which may be visualised as a triangle (see figure below). At its apex is a Global Governance Institute which will provide innovative and interdisciplinary analysis regarding globalisation and governance issues, it will also propose sound strategies for effectively addressing them. The intellectual products of the Institute will then be transmitted to the two other entities of the triangle the Club of Athens proper and the Democratic Agora for their consideration. Leading actors and citizens will also help shape the Institute's work program and research agenda.

The Club of Athens is an assembly of world leaders from both the government and non-governmental sectors. It will include present and former heads of state, government and inter-governmental organisations, visionary CEOs of multinational corporations and representatives of the media and Civil Society as well as other non-state actors. While the Institute will be more a of a thinkers' forum, the Club will assemble actors with a strong executive track record. Building on the moral authority of its members, the Club of Athens' mission will be to evaluate the work of the Institute and communicate it through their target audiences. Those members who hold active executive offices will be invited not only to reflect on - but also act upon - the Institute's findings as well as their own recommendations. This proactive approach aims to avoid an unfortunate pattern among all too many international meetings: global talk-fests which are long on lofty rhetoric, but short on concrete follow-up action. As such, many leaders' summits - at least as they are currently conducted - have become part of the problem rather than a source of real solutions for our planetary predicaments.

The Democratic Agora is a portal designed to involve the common citizen who is not necessarily neither a leading thinker nor a leading actor in the decision-making process. Through open and ongoing public consultations, its main function will be to provide both accountability and legitimacy to the work of the Institute and the Club - thus meeting the transparency requirements so lacking in current official summit processes. The Agora will provide a dynamic and decentralised forum for mutual exchange. Some activity will occur at the global level (mainly through electronic discussion/action groups); other initiatives will occur at the local "grassroots" level (for example, through "town hall" and other public meetings). Of course, consultations may also occur at the national and regional levels, depending on the level of interest and organisation at the those levels.

A key objective of the Global Governance Group is to provide a forum for real problem-solving regarding the twin issues of globalisation and governance. In order to ensure aproductive and balanced exchange of views, the Group will seek to assemble a plurality of perspectives and stakeholders, such as:

  • pro- and anti-globalisation schools of thought
  • thinkers, executives and activists
  • state and non-state actors

The use of Greek metaphors (such as Club of Athens and Agora) is based on the recognition that we are moving not so much toward a "global village," as Marshall McLuhan famously noted, but more accurately towards a "global city-state." In this context, political globalisation - or global governance - must complement the economic and technological globalisation already well-underway. We emphasize the etymological origin of "political" as it comes from the organisation of the "polis," or city-state. The Global Governance Group therefore aims at the eventual construction of a "Global Athens" with strong democratic roots. To employ another historical metaphor, the initiative envisions a Westphalia II - an update of the sovereignty system to 21st century realities.

Mission Statement of Core Values and Objectives

The Club of Athens is designed as a democratic forum for the intelligent and informed debate on key issues related to globalisation and global governance. The Club will accommodate rival and even opposing philosophies, but it must not be seen as a political movement advocating a specific ideology beyond the adherence four basic objectives:

  • A Political Objective: Updating sovereignty and reinforcing democracy, particularly at global levels of decision-making
  • An Economic Objective: Spreading the prosperity generated by Globalisation in a win-win fashion
  • An Ethical Objective: Building a global code of conduct through a common set of universally-agreed principles as the basis for enforceable international law and action
  • A Socio-Cultural Objective: Making global governance more legitimate, effective and equitable while preserving plurality and diversity in an interdependent world

Beyond these basics, the diversity of ideas and the fertility of dialectical debate are encouraged.

The Initial Work Plan

The Triple-G is seen by its proponents as a permanent structure, which would nevertheless be preceded by an initial pilot phase with clear deliverables. Consequently, a work plan has been devised according to three phases.

Phase I will focus on network-building through the identification and engagement of strategic partners. Although many groups presently address some of the issues discussed above, no single organisation assembles a diversity of actors in order to build on the linkages and interdependencies among them. The Triple-G proposes to function as such an umbrella unit. In its initial work plan, it will not attempt to conduct completely original research; rather it will consolidate the considerable wealth of existing data in order to build an international network of ideas, individuals and institutions.

Phase II will focus on a comprehensive diagnostic analysis of emerging governance challenges and the solutions presently envisioned to meet them. Integrating papers will be produced in at least six areas in terms of their relationship with globalisation and governance. These are (1) Economics, Trade & Finance (2) Science & Technology (3) Environment and Sustainable Development (4) Peace and Security (5) Social and Cultural Identity (6) Corporate Governance and Corporate Citizenship. A seventh area of activity, Education, Communication & Training in Governance, will be an instrument for disseminating the information and sensitising decision-makers and ordinary citizens to the complexity of the problems involved.

Phase III will concentrate on medium-term scenarios and action plans to bring them about. On the basis of the overall diagnostic analysis of Phase II, medium-term scenarios will be constructed with 2010 and 2020 time horizons. These scenarios will be ranked according to both desirability and feasibility. Based on an initial projection of the status quo into the future, action plans and research requirements will be identified. These in turn will form the basis of the Triple-G continuing work program after 2005.

The Triple-G will be an international endeavour. With its Global Governance Institute headquartered in Montreal, Canada and with regional units initially located in Nice/Monaco, France and Athens, Greece, there will be an appropriate division of labour between the three locations. Eventually, the Triple-G will become truly global with affiliates and partners world-wide, including in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Although the three founding cities are all in the Western world, the project will strive to maintain a good balance between countries at different stages of economic development and from different regions of the world.

In order to keep the Triple-G activities relevant and visible throughout the initial work period, three major plenary sessions of the Club of Athens are planned.

The inaugural plenary will take place in Montreal, Canada in Spring 2002, so that its results may be transmitted to the G-8 meeting in Canada that year.

The 2003 Plenary will be held in Nice, France and its products will be transmitted to the G-8 meeting in France that year.

In 2004, the crowning plenary of the Initial Work Plan will take place in Athens as part of the Olympic celebrations and will symbolically mark the creation of the permanent Club of Athens in that city.

In addition the Triple-G will communicate its objectives and outcomes to - as well as interact with - other important international meetings such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002.

Funding Scenarios

The permanent funding scenario for the Triple-G after 2005 will involve the creation of an international foundation with a fixed endowment. During the first four years of its operation, however, it is envisioned that the lead in funding will be taken by the three founding countries - Canada, France and Greece, with Canada assuming a primary role given the projected Montreal headquarters for both the Governance Institute and Triple-G Secretariat. Complementing this lead funding will be contributions from other national governments, international foundations, multinational corporations, NGOs and IGOs. (see separate document : Business Plan and Budget)

The Potential Value-Added of the Club of Athens

In an environment where sensitisation to globalisation problems is increasing and where dozens of disparate initiatives are being undertaken to address them, the Triple-G will perform a much needed integration function in the following four ways:

First, it will look at interdisciplinary linkages between problems which are presently addressed on a purely sectoral basis. While individual studies of global finance projects, environmental endeavours, Internet initiatives and security matters abound, there is little in the way integrating work.

Second, the Triple-G will provide a multi-stakeholder forum in which meaningful dialogue between state and non-state actors can occur. Civil Society will be fully represented as will market actors such as corporations and consumers. The project will bring the pro and anti-globalisation protagonists to a common table; not to shout insults at each other, but rather to deal with real issues in a positive and pragmatic way, briefed by the work of the Governance Institute.

Third, the Democratic Agora will ensure that whatever is studied at the Institute or discussed at the Club will also be available for debate by private citizens. This public engagement thus ensuring the much needed transparency whose absence has been a fatal flaw of official summits. Fourth, unlike some other clubs which meet as en end it itself and where no clear output emerges, the Triple-G has given itself the discipline of a four-year work plan with precise deliverables to be scrutinised by the international community.

Overall, the network-building, strategic partnering and synthesis work envisioned by the Triple-G means that it is designed to give value and enhance existing initiatives rather than duplicate or compete with them.

Questions and Answers on the Club of Athens

To establish the need for the Club of Athens and its potential value-added in a world already suffering from information overload, we present the case for its creation in terms of common questions and answers which have emerged during the extensive 18-month consultation period which preceded this draft. Some of the main queries and the relevant responses are presented below.

What exactly is The Club of Athens / Global Governance Group?

The Global Governance Group is a proposed initiative best visualised in the "Greek Triangle" diagram in the Executive Summary above. It involves three entities: a Global Governance Institute staffed by world-class experts in a number of fields; a Club of Athens comprised of a blue-ribbon panel of leading world figures; and a Democratic Agora to directly involve private citizens. The whole project is to be known as the Club of Athens (even though, the Club itself is technically one of the three constituent entities). Therefore, although the overall project is in fact the Global Governance Group, the Club of Athens and related Greek metaphors communicate a much sharper message.

The most traumatic event of the new millennium to date has been the terrorist attacks on the USA on September 11th, 2001. Does the Club of Athens plan to address this issue?

The double attack on New York and Washington on September 11th 2001 is an example of a massive breakdown in global security - one of the principal analytical focal points of the Club of Athens. Terrorism has been globalised while government authority has not: the present system of global governance depends on the juxtaposition of some 200 national sovereignties exercising their power over portions of geographical territory. This system allows criminal and terrorist elements to move freely between countries and oppose jurisdictions one against the other - thereby neutralising them. Global terrorism has exposed the weakest link of the Westphalian System: its inability to protect nations against external threats. The Club of Athens will study these problems and propose solutions which take into account not only the mechanics of global terrorism but also its root causes, such as festering areas of frustration and super-empowered malcontents equipped with hi-tech weapons. Part of the long-term security solution may be some form of international law, enforceable by an international police force. In the medium-run, however, a coalition of all national governments will have to work together to preserve global security. In any event, this may involve fundamental rethinking of the world order.

Why the Greek metaphors?

Ancient Greece has made significant contributions to world political thought; and its most important one is undoubtedly that of democracy. This form of government was pioneered in the Athens of the Fifth Century BC and discussed in Plato's Republic as a utopia of the ideal city-state. In terms of global governance, the Canadian sociologist Marshall McLuhan had talked aboutthe emergence of a "global village." However, the emergence of a global city-state (or "Global Athens") may be a more appropriate image. As a matter of fact, the goal of introducing a "political" dimension to globalisation - which so far has been driven by technology and economics - is quite attractive especially if one considers the noble interpretation of politics: the art of organising the "polis" or city-state. One should note that the alternative concept of "civilising" globalisation seeks the same purpose since civilisation comes from the Latin "civitas" or city-state. However, the Athens metaphor's emphasis on democracy is more fitting since it is of course quite possible to govern a city-state with a tyrant or an emperor. The democratisation of globalisation is the central goal of the Club of Athens.

Why is it needed?

A fundamental impact of globalisation has been to substantially reduce the sovereignty of national governments and their ability to enact policy. As more and more sectors become globalised, the freedom of action of individual nation-state governments to establish and enforce rules is shrinking. In fields such as global finance, the Internet, food safety, genetic engineering, the control of epidemics, climate change and the fight against international terrorism, - the regulatory power of individual governments is steadily decreasing. Even a superpower like the United States does not have extra-territorial reach. If it did attempt to impose its own laws beyond its territory, it would be contravening current international law whose cornerstone is still the sovereignty of every recognised member state.

Because of the reduced policy capacity of national governments and the absence of global regulatory bodies with both true legitimacy and enforcement capabilities, no one seems to be in charge of a growing number of sectors. The hope that all these sectors will self-regulate is proving unrealistic because market systems function best under the rule of law. If there is no law-maker or law enforcer outside the market system to act as referee, there will be a tendency to cheat, to collude and combine, and ultimately move away from competition towards monopolies. In addition, the experience of the former Soviet Union provides powerful proof of what happens when the rule of law is not enforced: market systems become mafia systems where taking replaces selling and intimidation substitutes for marketing. The slide from market to mafia systems is particularly worrying as more and more sectors manage to escape the bounded territorial jurisdictions of national governments.

The loss of sovereignty by national governments, although praised by some, is also a loss of democracy - which no one advocates. Excluding dictatorial regimes, sovereignty is usually exercised in the name of the people and, therefore, has democratic roots. If all decisions - including those that have to do with governing the world - are made by non-state agents a serious democratic deficit follows. The Club of Athens seeks to bolster democracy in global governance.

What's wrong with normal "government-to-government" negotiations?

Government-to-government negotiations in multilateral forums are being attacked for their perceived lack of both effectiveness and legitimacy.

The effectiveness of inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) is severely hampered by their decision-making procedures, which generally operate according to the consensus rule in which every state retains a veto. The same consensus rule also tends to produce compromise text couched in diplomatic language, sometimes so sanitised as to be meaningless. Word-smithing a leaders' communiqué implies catering to the lowest common denominator. Generally speaking, the more players there are. to satisfy the vaguer and weaker the final text.

Examples of inadequate inter-governmental action abound. Humanitarian action to prevent genocide is often agonisingly slow (as was the case in Rwanda) and, even when it is taken, it may have a shaky legal basis (as was the case in Kosovo). In addition, IGOs such as the International Monetary Fund are notoriously unsuccessful in predicting and avoiding economic crises such as the Asian one. When a crisis does occur, the remedies are often only incrementally applied; and in some cases, they are perceived (rightly or wrongly) as exacerbating the problem rather than helping to resolve it. In addition, the sheer number of IGOs makes global governance through the present multilateral architecture too cumbersome. There are over 500 IGOs with overlapping jurisdictions and, all too often, unclear missions. The UN, EU, NAFTA, FTAA, NATO, APEC, OAS, OECD, OSCE, ILO, WTO, WHO, WMO, G-8, G-20, G-77 - this growing "alphabet soup" of international alliances, associations and organisations difficult to reform from the inside.

The legitimacy of IGOs is also now in question. The rise of new players on the international scene such as "global civil society" (GCS) is challenging the representativity of existing IGOs. The WTO negotiations at Seattle were aborted not only due to important divisions among several G-77 and OECD countries; thousands of labour, environmental, human rights and other advocates assembled on the city streets to protest the meeting's lack of transparency as much as its substance. Subsequent summits in Washington DC, Québec City and Genoa are testimony to a growing malaise which has yet to be addressed.

Is there a hidden ideology behind the Club of Athens?

The Club proposes an open ideology based on the following four objectives:

A Political Objective: Updating sovereignty and reinforcing democracy, particularly at global levels of decision-making

An Economic Objective: Spreading the prosperity generated by Globalisation in a win-win fashion

An Ethical Objective: Building a global code of conduct through a common set of universally-agreed principles as the basis for enforceable international law and action

A Socio-Cultural Objective: Making global governance more legitimate, effective and equitable while preserving plurality and diversity in an interdependent world.

Of course, individual members of the Club will have their own values and opinions. But the Club itself would be open to all scenarios which foster the above objectives, which could be considered the core shared values of its members.

What is the Club's timetable?

The initial work plan covers three years from the date of inception. A shorter period is unrealistic because the Club would require some time to gather the necessary momentum to be effective. A longer period is not advisable because the Club could degenerate into a discussion group where dialogue is an end in itself. The Club of Athenswould take shape over the course of three years as follows: The first year would be diagnostic as it takes stock of the current state of globalisation and global governance, as well as their root causes and the challenges they produce. The second year would be devoted to the construction of scenarios that take into account global interdependence. It could focus on the identification of desirable and feasible futures. The third year would concentrate on methods of getting from here to there - i.e. from the present to the desirable future. As the Wise Man once said "It is not enough to imagine the view from the top of the mountain, but to discover the path which will take us to the summit. "The third year would be the reality check which would give more credibility to what was achieved in the first and second.

How is this project different from the others?

The key differences are as follows:

The first relates to scope and purpose. Underlying the Club of Athens initiative is the proposition that the world governance system based on "Westphalia I " assumptions is no longer effective or legitimate. The juxtaposition of national sovereignties to create world order, originally established by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, is no longer working. Globalisation has significantly altered the rules of the game. New rules and a new game have to be designed - what can metaphorically be called "Westphalia II." The Club of Athens is one proposed route to Westphalia II.

No other think-tank, IGO or NGO has defined the problématique in such a comprehensive way. Existing initiatives are more limited; either because they focus on a single discipline - such as economics or environment or technology or security - but the interactions among them; , or because they more limited objectives.

As to process, the Club of Athens brings at least three innovations First, the Global Governance Group encompasses a balance of thinkers, actors and citizens. Its triangular format has few competitors. Many forums or clubs may meet on a variety of issues, but the meetings tend to be ends in themselves. There are many academic units working on some issues but their analyses and reports rarely influence public policy. There are official meetings of head of government/state (summits) which meet and often end up as mere photo opportunities or the target of violent anti-globalisation backlash. No other initiative combines advanced analytical research with a blue-ribbon panel of executives coupled with the democratic legitimisation of direct citizen involvement. Second, although the Global Governance Group will be headquartered in one geographical locality (Montreal), its modus operandi will be itself be global. The two relay units(in Athens and Monaco/Nice)will form the nucleus of an ultimately global network, which will be both geographical and virtual. In other words, the GGG will address the problem of globalisation by using globalisation itself as a major tool of operation. Third, the self-imposed three year break-in period with a precise set of deliverables will instil a special discipline in the GGG. Forums and clubs often meet as an end in themselves, summits are annual affairs, and research centres tend to prolong research indefinitely. The GGG will be solutions-oriented and will seek to contribute toworld thought - and ultimately world action - in a reasonable, pre-determined period of time.

What about existing think-tanks and university seminars?

The world of thought is often divorced from the world of action. Think-tankers and academics tend to write for each other; the fruits of their labour usually appear in learned journals which are rarely read by decision-makers. Even if a council of academic wise men and women were to devise a perfect model for world governance, it would largely go unnoticed unless validated by active players in the world of action.

The Club of Athens aims to bring the thinkers and the doers together in a semi-formal setting: not as formal as inter-governmental negotiations (with duly appointed plenipotentiary ambassadors); but not as informal as a university seminar or a meeting of concerned citizens in a church basement. The membership of the Club would ensure both the quality of its output and its moral influence on the world community.

Is the project not a utopian pie in the sky?

In keeping with Greek metaphors, let us point out that the word "utopia" comes from two Greek roots: Ou-topia and Eu-topia. Outopia is the 'place that exists nowhere'. Hence "Outopian" thinking is indeed pie-in-the-sky, never-never land; it is rightly pejorative. On the other hand, "Eutopia" means the 'good or desirable place', like euthanasia is the good or desirable death, or euphoria the good or desirable mental state, etc. In this context, the search for 'the good society' is not only acceptable, but essential. The improvement of the world should be the common burden of humankind. The Club of Athens/ GGG aims at this second of utopia - the desirable and feasible one. Indeed, both the Club itself and the direct citizen participation through the Democratic Agora will ensure that the thinkers of the Institute produce innovative but practicable solutions.

What are the Club of Athens' weakest and strongest aspects?

The Club's weakest link is its ambition and the scope of its proposed work. The objectives may appear unrealistic at first blush. An agenda to change the world for the better, even in fifty years, is daunting. It would be much easier to focus on a small, doable objectives, and then declare victory. It might be even be easier to find funding for smaller objectives.

The Club's strongest link is its ambition and the scope of its proposed work. If the hypothesis of a possible collapse of the Westphalian World Order has some credibility, then the proposed work schedule of the Club of Athens is exactly right. Nothing less than fundamental reform, even if it takes fifty years, will do.

Hence, the GGG strengths and weaknesses are essentially the same: a proposed fundamental rethinking of how humanity manages its stay on Planet Earth in the light of what the 21st century presents in terms of threats and opportunities.

There is a maximum and a minimum scenario. The maximum scenario would be that, after its three-year break-in period, the Club's ultimate findings and recommendations would have a significant impact on both the thinking and theactions connected with globalisation. If some of the recommendations included in official documents and decisions, and then enacted through national and international policy, the Club will have more than achieved its initial purpose. the object of research is finding and the ultimate purpose of thought is action. The minimum scenario is that the Club's activities will serve to clarify the debate on global governance, improve the dialogue between old and new major players in today's world, and make strong intellectual contributions to a better world order. Needless to say, an intermediate scenario will also be fully satisfactory.