A Call for UN Charter Reform

We are concerned individuals, former officials, business leaders, representatives of civil society and of government, dedicated to promoting world peace and human security, sustainable economic and social development, and living in harmony within our planetary system. We call for UN Charter reform to break free from outdated international governance structures and establish a just, principled, representative and accountable global order reflective of the needs of humanity and the planet at this time.

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The world today is vastly different from that which gave birth to the UN Charter in 1945. The global governance structures enshrined in the Charter are ill-suited to today’s reality. New institutions will be created. Whether voluntarily through an act of collective will, or only after further catastrophes cause untold suffering, is the choice before us today. A UN Charter Review Conference is required to ensure we make the prudent choice.

The challenges to human security today reach far beyond those addressed in the UN Charter. We see today how dependent we are on the interconnected global commons which are threatened by climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Beyond breaching earth system boundaries, we face irresponsible use of emerging technologies including both their weaponization and the manipulation of artificial intelligence, the unraveling of the nuclear order and renewed arms races, vulnerability in our international economic and financial systems and widespread gender discrimination and other violations of human rights. Humanity requires a new kind of governance.

New values must undergird this system: universality, solidarity, equality. The architecture of the United Nations and the assumptions upon which it is built were products of post-war thinking. Scientific advancement, social justice movements, and the pains of repeated mistakes have since demonstrated the limits of existing models. Guided by these lessons, new structures must be built on principles of earth trusteeship, global solidarity, and integrity in leadership. Whereas the victors of World War II defined the present Charter, today’s global order demonstrates that humanity has a shared destiny as one species among many on this one, small planet.

The international community must break the taboo on UN Charter reform. Perceived political barriers must no longer inhibit action. To begin a meaningful effort of creating a new system of governance, the UN Charter must undergo reform. The Summit of the Future in 2024 represents an opportunity to finally call for a Charter Review Conference.

However difficult Charter reform may seem, it pales in comparison to the consequences of inaction. Ultimately, legal standards, political and economic institutions must be designed to safeguard the interests of humanity, and not force humanity to suffer for the preservation of any particular system. We declare our support for UN Charter Reform and call on others to join us in this effort to establish a new basis for stronger international cooperation.

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