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Ten Points on New Paradigms*

ARTICLE | | BY Kassym-Jomart Tokayev


Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

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Contemporary challenges create the need for a new paradigm of global development. This is why Kazakhstan wants to tackle this problem. President Nursultan Nazarbayev launch­ed the G-Global initiative that aims at uniting efforts of the international community to establish just and secure world order.

This initiative offers an absolutely new form of global discussion. There is no doubt about the accomplishments of the elite G8 and G20 groups. We believe that the world should listen to the views of other countries and hear their proposals on current development. In our opinion such redistribution of global roles is more consistent with the principles of democracy, inclusive responsibility, and pays due regard to the needs of a multipolar world.

The G-Global project envisages open dialogue of the community of nations willing to make a worthy input for the promotion of stability and sustainable development of humankind. This means that the principles of equality and mutual respect must prevail in international relations.

It is our firm belief that while overcoming the Cold War stereotypes, we can steer the economy out of the vicious cycle of crises and recessions by fostering trust based on global interaction and enhancing multilateral cooperation.

The main principles of the world order in the 21st century set out in the G-Global initiative will build a solid foundation of a cohesive multipolar world.

Expectations that the world would become a safer place to live in at the end of the Cold War have melted away. The world community is jam-packed with new threats to global security whereas international relations are strained to the point that reasonable concerns about the return to the Cold War have emerged.

The 21st century is yet again witnessing political and economic instability, regional conflicts, extremism, terrorism and organized crime. The world is still jeopardized by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the resumption of high-tech arms race. Social and demographic problems are significantly growing in number: widening gap between rich and poor countries, rising migration flows, overpopulation on Earth, pandemic diseases, mounting hunger and fresh water shortage. Morals and ethics are eroding; globalization is amplifying the risk of ideological, cultural and religious conflicts. Anthropogenic action has brought humankind to the line beyond which future existence of the human race may become questionable.

In view of these pressing challenges we should ponder over a paradigm shift to ensure sustainable human development and security.

First, it is necessary to adjust priorities concerning the very essence of economic activity. The ultimate goal of economic development is not only and not so much achieving quantitative growth but also tackling issues related to the quality of life, that is science, health, education and culture. Sustainable economic growth should be measured by technological efficiency and safety, high quality of goods and services, sound consumption standards and a resource friendly approach.

GDP per capita is not the only economic indicator of success. Wealth distribution, social wellbeing, compliance with international living standards, the rule of law and respect for human rights and freedoms should also be taken into account.

Second, it is essential to reassess environmental factors in a new paradigm of sustainable development.

60% of life-critical ecosystems on Earth are under the threat of destruction. Global warming caused by greenhouse effect resulting from anthropogenic activity may lead to universal catastrophes. Since 1980 the number of natural disasters has increased fivefold. Over the past 15 years overall damage has reached USD 100 billion.

Attempts to achieve economic growth by increasing natural resource consumption are eventually a dead end. Mankind uses natural resources 50% faster than they are renewed.

Environmental preservation and reproduction should be a prerequisite for sustainable human development.

Third, human capital plays a crucial role in sustainable development. Its potential depends on the quality of education, healthcare and social well-being.

In this regard the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals are extremely important. The MDGs have helped many countries, including Kazakhstan, to improve their quality indicators of development. Although not all goals would be achieved by 2015, the experience gained worldwide is indispensable to future sustainable human development. The Millennium Development Goals Plus will be built on this experience.

Fourth, the widening gap between the rich and poor poses a major challenge to sustainable development and undermines global stability.

According to Oxfam International, the 85 richest people on the planet own USD 1.7 trillion, the wealth of half of the world’s population or the 3.6 billion poorest people.

The contrast between multibillionaires and people living on USD 1 a day or even less is a source of despair, hatred and radicalization in the latter group. Social stratification gives rise to public protests and may hinder world economic growth.

Corruption corroding morality and undermining domestic security only aggravates social inequality. According to the Tax Justice Network, crooked business people working with corrupt officials have embezzled USD 30 trillion over the last 15 years ? or 40% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product. Between 2000 and 2011 USD 1.2 trillion ran from the European Union to secret offshore financial havens, while USD 4 trillion disappeared from China and USD 1 trillion from Russia.

The new concept of sustainable human development should outline measures to overcome this situation by bridging social inequality gaps at the global level.

Fifth, social inequality is deepening with the growth of world population which has reached 7.2 billion people and by 2100 will increase to 12.5 billion. Nowadays over 80% of the world’s population does not have enough food, jobs and appropriate living conditions.

Demographic growth provokes the threat of hunger that in turn requires a more rational use of agricultural resources.

The UN estimates that roughly one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted globally, which is about 1.3 billion ton per year. It is an unaffordable luxury undermining global stability as almost one billion people on the planet are starving.

The unemployment problem has worsened with technological progress. According to the UN, in 2014 the number of unemployed climbed to more than 200 million people worldwide; the number of working people earning less than USD 2 a day has grown to 840 million people. Young people are increasingly confronting unemployment problems; nearly 75 million people under the age of 24 years are unemployed. People looking for a job often have to migrate to other countries and the number of these persons is close to 235 million.

We also focus on the shortage of drinking water. The UN estimates that currently 750 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Acute water shortage inflamed 37 interstate conflicts over the past 50 years. According to estimates, by 2030 water scarcity will deteriorate to the extent that social instability and armed conflicts may be sparked in some parts of the world. This problem is also relevant to our region.

Therefore, great attention must be paid to developing and poor countries provided that they will make efforts to embark on the path to sustainable development including economic reforms and transformation of political institutions.

Sixth, new approaches should be applied to the balance between national culture and universal values. Changes in the global way of thinking should take into consideration the diminishing Eurocentric influence and strengthening “non-Western” views. Asian cultural values became popular due to the rapid economic rise of Asia. The concept of a new world order should reflect the principles of cultural polycentricity bearing in mind the equal value of each culture to the world civilization.

“Our world is constantly changing, yet the UN Charter has been frozen for 69 years since its adoption.”

A good example of this approach is Kazakhstan’s policy to ensure interethnic and interfaith peace and harmony underpinned by the principle of “unity in diversity”. On the initiative of the country, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Interna­tional Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022).

Seventh, it seems necessary to reframe the paradigm of widespread competition that sets people, economies and countries against each other. We should rely on mutually beneficial cooperation on the basis of equality, mutual respect and teamwork for the common good. Even if this thesis may seem to be a utopian idea, the new view of competition as the engine of progress should also embrace interactive elements that will facilitate the harmonization of the modern world and reduce its turbulence.

In this regard integral developments are extremely important. As a strong supporter of international integration efforts, Kazakhstan proposed to establish the Eurasian Economic Union that can positively influence the international situation in the vast Eurasian continent.

Eighth, the sustainable development paradigm should include the creation of a new world order in view of existing and future security threats. Against the backdrop of geopolitical shifts from a unipolar world to a multipolar one the importance of regional organizations is growing.

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia initiated by Kazakhstan has become a tangible factor in global politics. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization plays a positive role in this initiative. The Collective Security Treaty Organization is gaining strength. Active involvement in these organizations aimed at strengthening their potential is in the national interests of our country.

We should be ready to upgrade a number of outdated provisions of the UN Charter while unconditionally maintaining the basic principles of international law. The fear of opening Pandora’s Box must give way to understanding and considering the new realities. Our world is constantly changing, yet the Charter has been frozen for 69 years since its adoption. At the same time we cannot cast doubt on the fact that the United Nations is indispensable as a universal organization.

One of the major concerns is the slowdown in negotiations in main areas of disarmament be it cutting off the production of fissile materials, negative guarantees, preventing arms race in outer space, or general and complete disarmament. New threats and challenges should not overshadow disarmament problems. This is crucial to Kazakhstan which holds the leading position in this area, having closed down the nuclear test site on its territory and renounced its status as the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal.

Ninth, the new security paradigm should answer these questions: how to deal with terror­ism and extremism, how to prevent the threat of civilizational faults and how to reduce the conflict potential in global politics.

“Democratization is an evolutionary trend that can neither be artificially stepped up nor imposed.”

The problem of religious extremism that puts international security in jeopardy is very acute. Jihadists aiming at establishing a global “Caliphate” clearly demonstrate the size of this peril. With available military equipment and funding, jihadists are making attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. These facts highlight the need to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime and to eliminate arsenals of chemical and bacteriological weapons as fast as possible.

The fight against extremism and terrorism must imply international military cooperation and preventive social measures. The growing popularity of jihadist ideas to establish a kind of “Islamic state” on the territory of a number of regions makes it evident that the ideology of militant intolerance resonates with young people in many countries. It is necessary to counter this “fire and sword” ideology with education and tangible steps to restore social justice, eradicate poverty and strengthen confidence in a decent future.

It is vital to struggle against separatism which manifests in armed clashes and terrorist attacks. In terms of legal framework we should eliminate fundamental contradictions between the right of nations to self-determination and the principle of territorial integrity enshrined in the UN Charter. The world is mostly self-determined, therefore the priority should be given to the territorial integrity of states.

There is a need for eliminating the causes of separatism. No room should be left for ambiguity and double standards. Border delimitation treaties must be strictly adhered to. All countries should respect the constitutional order of other nations, especially neighboring ones and cooperate with them for the benefit of peace and security.

Tenth, sustainable development implies domestic stability. As history has shown, democracy has been a guarantee of stability. Yet, democratization is an evolutionary trend that can neither be artificially stepped up nor imposed. Historical experience, cultural traditions and national mentality of every country need to be taken into account. The recent developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt demonstrated that a very well-thought-out approach, tolerance and political tact should be displayed in democracy building.

Many issues of sustainable development ought to be addressed both at the national and global levels. Unfortunately, we have not started witnessing this yet. Due to economic crises some countries are facing serious difficulties in the implementation of relevant programs. The UN Security Council is split by discord, impeding the ability of this vital UN body to deal with the most pressing issues of contemporaneity. This was the case with Syria. The Ukrainian crisis led to deteriorating international situation and sanctions standoff which damaged economies not even involved in the conflict. The interests of countries are infringed, but what is more important is that the life of the middle class which is the pillar of democracy is getting worse.

Being a part of the international community, Kazakhstan is interested in strengthening international cooperation to address global sustainable development. President Nursultan Nazarbayev outlined the country’s vision of long-term development in the Kazakhstan-2050 strategy.

The G-Global Initiative

Nursultan Nazarbayev
President of Kazakhstan

The 21st century has given rise to numerous challenges to economy, environment, geo­politics, natural resources and energy. The interdependence of political, financial and economic systems has resulted in the implications of local problems and actions of any country regardless of its size. Deep qualitative changes in the world development paradigm are needed to overcome these challenges.

Against this backdrop, Kazakhstan’s G-Global initiative is undoubtedly crucial. We have established a unique communication platform that generates new ideas and solutions. This project has been successfully implemented both at the regional and international levels. It has powerful intellectual potential of talented young people and representatives from the public and business sectors.

As a platform for international discussions, G-Global has been promoting innovative ways of efficient management and fostering harmonious and dynamic balance between people, resources and the environment. Our goal is to refine all major activities of humankind and to change the mentality of people.

* Keynote address at Conference on New paradigm of Sustainable Human Development: G-Global – a new form of global dialogue, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan, November 5-7, 2014

See “Address by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Leader of the nation”

Message delivered by Chairman Tokayev to participants of the Conference on New Paradigm of Sustainable Human Development G-Global – a new form of global dialogue, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan, November 5-7, 2014.

About the Author(s)

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan; Former Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva