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George Porter

The three principles of accountability, subsidiarity and diversity are singled out for special mention, not only for their prime importance in the conduct of world affairs, but also because they are not receiving the degree of attention they demand.

To achieve institutional legitimacy and local responsibility in democratic societies it is expected that the institutions in which political and economic power have been vested derive their legitimacy from being duly constituted by and accountable to the sovereign people, conducting their operations according to an appropriate code of morals and ethics, and producing desirable consequences for the whole. The world's dominant mega-institutions - both public and private - currently fail on all three counts and their legitimacy in the eyes of the public is at a near historic low.

Reform is becoming less and less an issue. The institutions are simply too big, too distant, too beholden to special interests and too costly to respond in any useful way to the broader human interest. Instead of looking to them for solutions, the impulse of those who have been discarded or marginalized by the globalized economy is increasingly to dismiss such mega-institutions as helplessly unresponsive and get on with taking back responsibility for their own lives. In the spirit of earlier frontier communities, they are saying, "If our needs are to be met we will have to get together and figure out how to meet them for ourselves."

Both public and private institutions must be held accountable for the consequences of their actions - both direct and indirect.

Subsidiarity is a basic democratic principle that decisions be made at the lowest level of society as is practical and consistent with the overall public good. No decision affecting the lives of others should be undertaken by government without mandate or by a corporation without authority by government granted by charter or legislation.

The PCDForum motto "Globalise consciousness; localise economies" encapsulates this principle.

The size, power and influence of corporations and financial and other institutions, TNCs in particular, must be contained as these latter institutions are rapidly gaining control of the world economy, with governments powerless to exercise control over their own economies and health of their own people.

Diversity refers to the inherent differences amongst all forms and levels of life and cultural differences that must be respected and nourished for a healthy and sustainable human society and other life forms.

The process of economic and cultural homogenisation is destroying essential elements of bio-diversity, a process that must be revived if human society and natural life systems are to co-exist.

The principles of accountability, subsidiarity and diversity should be adopted as guiding policy for human interaction at all levels of decision-making.

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