History of creation

The Earth Charter is the document intended for the Earth. To enable man to preserve himself and open a road to many and many generations, he must preserve the Earth.

Mikhail Gorbachev

 

Every year the world is becoming more and more fragile. For this reason the emergence at the turn of the century and millennium of a large number of global documents pretending to be "the guide for action" in the new century is quite natural. "Global Civil Ethics" (1995), "Global Ethics" (1997), "Universal Declaration of Human Responsibility" (1997), "Alliance for a Responsible and United World" (1998), "Declaration of the World Culture" (1999), etc. are but an incomplete list of such documents. Each of them indeed meets, in its own way, "the global challenges" of our time, attempting first of all to fill in the "moral and ethical vacuum" of the modern civilisation.

The Earth Charter holds a special place among them. UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor called the Earth Charter "the crown that tops all global documents".

Earth Charter is a document containing the fundamental principles of creation in the 21st century of a just, stable and peaceful global community. It is aimed at developing in every person a new feeling of interdependence and mutual responsibility for prosperity of mankind and the entire living community. It is the expression of hope and a call for help in the creation of a global civil society in the transition period of our history.

In 1987 the UN World Commission for Environment and Development called for the development of a new document (Charter, Declaration), which would articulate the fundamental principles of stable development. The process of developing the Earth Charter is a part of the incomplete work of the Earth Summit that was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 1994, Maurice Strong, Secretary General of the Summit, and Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the International Green Cross, announced the launch of a new initiative on the Earth Charter, which was supported by the Government of the Netherlands.

In 1997, the Commission for the Earth Charter was established to supervise the work, and the Secretariat of the Earth Charter was created on the basis of the Earth Council in Costa-Rica.

The preparation of the wording of the Earth Charter was finished at UNESCO in March 2000 in Paris following 10 years of development. It was a global dialogue of different cultures about common goals and values, the history's most open – for joint participation – advisory process of elaborating an international document. Its participants included thousands of people and hundreds of organisations from all over the world, representatives of different cultures and layers of the society. At first, the International Committee for Project Initiation was established with Stephen Rockefeller, professor of theology at Middleburg College, USA, as its head. The Committee for Project Initiation consisted of 12 people comprising the main team and was supported by a large advisory board uniting the world's 50 leading theorists and practical experts. The task of the Committee for Project Initiation was to develop projects of the Earth Charter to be distributed around the globe for comments and feedback. The Earth Charter was being created with the help of experts and the general public. It has become a treaty of peoples that determines the hopes and desire of the forming global civil society to have a better vision of a stable way of living to manage the accelerating globalisation process.

The new phase of work on the Earth Charter began with the official ceremony of the project launch at the Palace of Peace at the Hague on 29 June 2000. The main goal of the initiative is to provide a solid ethical ground for the establishing global society and help create a stable world based on respect for nature, common human rights, economic justice and culture of peace. Also at the Palace of Peace, a letter by President Mintimer Shaimiev was read, in which it was stated that Tatarstan is ready to become a testing ground for application of the Earth Charter principles at the republic's level.

Following the approval of the wording of the Earth Charter by International Commission, the International Public Fund "For Survival and Development of Humanity" has focused its efforts on spreading the Earth Charter in regions of the Russian Federation and, as much as possible, on promotion of this document at the federal level.

Over the past several years the Republic of Tatarstan has been observing, with great interest, studying and participating in the discussion of the international project on the development of the Earth Charter, and then in the practical implementation of its principles in its territory.

On 27 April 2001 the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan adopted the Resolution (No. 722) on the Earth Charter project, according to which Tatarstan has become the world's first region for its practical application. This event took place with participation of the International Commission on the Earth Charter, the delegation of the International Green Cross, the Earth Council, representatives of national Committees on the Earth Charter (of the CIS, USA, Australia, Europe, India), international experts in the field of ecology and law, political and religious leaders, representatives of cultural and business elite.

From that moment on, the work has been started on the development of a large-scale project titled "Tatarstan, the Territory of Stable Development and Culture of Peace" that enjoyed support of the Government, Parliament, ministries and departments, as well as of non-governmental organisations of the republic. It is very symbolic that Tatarstan has undertaken the responsibility and initiative to become the first state in the history to apply in practice the principles of the Declaration of the Earth and Culture of Peace.

Today the Republic of Tatarstan is one of the leading regions of the Russian Federation in positive resolution of complex ethnic and confessional problems, in serious achievements in the environmental sphere and in ensuring the stable development.

The first result of this work is extremely interesting. More understandable become the opportunities and limits of application of the Earth Charter as the moral and ethic code and soft legislation in the field of social consciousness; more visible becomes the role of the Earth Charter as a practical instrument used to formulate the state policy in education, its environmental strategy, in the development of new technologies, etc.; a new vision or new angles of the Earth Charter are emerging and, hence, the need arises for a clearer interpretation of certain principles.

Everybody in the Republic of Tatarstan understands that today, when the capacities and the increasing volumes of production exceed significantly the ecological capacity of the region, the emerging economic growth and intensification of flows transformed by resource production move us closer to possible destruction of the regenerative abilities of the republic's natural historic potential. In such situation, the principles of the Earth Charter related to environmental safety and stable development are crucial. With this in mind and proceeding from priority of the public health, preservation of genetic resources and rational use of natural resources, attention is being focused on the Earth Charter and preservation of quality of the environment in order to be able to meet the material requirements and ensure a balanced cycle of extraction and recovery of natural resources. The Republic of Tatarstan is considered as a unique region for practical application of the Charter principles.

The Republic of Tatarstan created all necessary conditions for application of the Earth Charter principles. The Parliament (State Council) of the Republic of Tatarstan adopted 28 laws covering different aspects of environmental protection and rational use of natural resources, including the fundamental Law of the Republic of Tatarstan "On Environmental Protection in the Republic of Tatarstan". Also adopted were over 100 by-laws, which define concretely the mechanism for implementation of all legislative acts.

In recent years the Republic of Tatarstan has been successfully implementing large scale programmes on environmental education and development of an economic mechanism of environmental management. The Republic of Tatarstan has established the State Register of specially protected natural territories; constructed and published, for the first time in Russia, a map of the environmental situation in the Republic of Tatarstan; issued the Red and Green Books of the Republic of Tatarstan; developed and is currently implementing, under the auspices of the Tatarstan President, the "Pure Water" state programme.

Earth Charter not simply seeks the resolution of environmental issues, but also asserts the most important social values: culture of peace, concord and social justice. Everybody in the Republic of Tatarstan understands the importance of preservation of these values and observation of the Earth Charter principles, many of which have already been fixed in the Constitution and legislative acts of the republic. The National Committee for Earth Charter was established in the republic. The Committee is headed by Rafael Khakimov, State Advisor to President of Tatarstan for Political Issues. The efforts joined with the International Public Fund "For Survival and Development of Humanity" helped develop a programme titled "Earth Under Cover" (International Programme for Verification of the Earth Declaration in the Republic of Tatarstan), which specifies the Republic of Tatarstan as a testing ground for practical verification of the Earth Declaration principles.

We have entered the new millennium. We face a new opportunity to change our life, our approach to the world that surrounds us and further develop ourselves, ponder over our role and ask ourselves: what do we exist for? The Earth Declaration is a unique document which can help us choose our future.

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