June 11, 2010
The Hague ‐ On Tuesday 29 June 2010, an international event will be held in the Peace Palace in The Hague to mark the 10th anniversary of the Earth Charter. Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands will be present, just as she was on 29 June 2000 for the official launch of this highly influential document setting out values and principles for the world.
The event will be hosted on behalf of organisers Earth Charter International and NCDO by Dutch Minister of State Ruud Lubbers in his capacity as Commissioner of the Earth Charter Initiative. The various parties involved in the Earth Charter will discuss its future role with third‐party experts, representatives of the business community and young people. A worldwide campaign under the motto ‘It starts with one’ has been organized this year to mark the anniversary.
Against the background of the central anniversary theme ‘Dialogue, Collaboration and Action for a Sustainable Future’, this event in The Netherlands will focus in particular on the promotion of corporate social responsibility and on innovation and international collaboration using new media. Prominent international figures such as Karen Armstrong, Leonardo Boff, Yolande Kakabadse, Oscar Motomura and Pauline Tangiora will all make a contribution to the plenary meeting. Dutch men and women such as Sylvia Borren, Pieter Broertjes (invited), Ton Dietz, Jos van Gennip, Herman Mulder, Jan Pronk, Awraham Soetendorp, Naema Tahir and Herman Wijffels will either be the moderators of a range of themed workshops or will be giving a presentation.
Attending the event online
The meeting will be streamed around the world live online and viewers in other countries will be able to participate online by text message. The Dutch monthly magazine about international collaboration and development ‘IS’ will include a special supplement about ten years of the Earth Charter in the forthcoming July edition.
Cultural contributions to the meeting will be provided by the Costa Rican Minister of Culture Manuel Obregon on the piano and by Macaco Tamerice from the Italian eco‐society Damanhur with ‘Music of the Plants’.
Due to the focus on the future, children have also been expressly invited to the meeting. Inspired by the Earth Charter, Dutch children from Comenius School in The Hague and school pupils from Uganda will be using household waste items to make the set and figures for a live animation, which will be performed before the Queen and the assembled audience.
Earth Charter a soft‐law document
The Earth Charter is a declaration by the Earth’s citizens about global interdependence and universal responsibility which sets out the fundamental principles for establishing a just, sustainable and peaceful world. According to the preamble to the Charter, those principles serve “as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organisations, businesses, governments and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed”. The Earth Charter is the final result of years of worldwide, intercultural dialogue about common goals and values. The drafting of the Earth Charter was one of the largest collaborative processes ever undertaken to write an international declaration and this is one of the main reasons why the Charter’s ethical guidelines have such broad authority.
Thanks to this legitimacy, an increasing number of international lawyers are recognising that the Earth Charter has the status of a 'soft‐law' document. 'Soft‐law' documents – such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – are seen as a moral compass, but they are not legally binding for governments that recognise and adopt them. ‘Soft‐law’ documents often form the basis for 'hard' legislation.