The Case for a Concert of Democracies

| March 2009
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Globalization has remade the world we once knew. We now live in an era in which dangerous developments anywhere can have devastating consequences everywhere. Terrorism is an obvious example: a few young men born in Riyadh and trained in the Hindu Kush can turn jetliners into weapons of mass destruction in New York and Washington. Infectious disease is another: a person with a particularly virulent form of flu could board a plane in Hong Kong and inadvertently spread sickness to every corner of the globe. Or international finance: the collapse of the housing market in Northern California can trigger a major financial panic and push us to the brink of a global depression.

A world in which problems cross borders so easily is one in which broad-based multilateral cooperation is essential. Today, however, we lack international institutions that are capable of prompt and effective action. Over a whole range of challenges, the world is essentially undergoverned. The institutions we do have were created in a different time for different purposes. They all too often reflect the geopolitical realities of a world that no longer exists, and are incapable of meeting the challenges we now face.

New institutions are now needed that recognize how much the world has changed and that mobilize those states most capable of meeting the dangers we confront. One such institution would bring together the world’s established democracies into a single organization dedicated to joint action—what has been called a “League” or “Concert” of Democracies. The world’s democracies are powerful and capable. Most important, they share an essential value in a globalizing world—a common dedication to ensuring the life, liberty, and happiness of free peoples.

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Category: Issue 23.1, Roundtable: Can Democracies Go It Alone?

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