J. Kirk Boyd

Prepared by Michael Marien, Director, Global Foresight Books


June 2010



2048: Humanity’s Agreement to Live Together. J. Kirk Boyd (Executive Director, 2048 Project, UC-Berkeley Law School). San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2010/222p/$15.95.




We are in the midst of a turning point for humanity—a span of 100 years when we are casting off the chains of narrow-minded views about war and poverty, and turn toward peace and prosperity. “These ends can be achieved through a written agreement to live together that is enforceable in the courts of all countries.” The movement for a sustainable and peaceable existence on our planet began with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted unanimously in 1948 by all countries in the United Nations. This book tells how the movement can be completed by 2048—the 100th anniversary of the UDHR—in two steps: 1) educating all people, including students, in all countries about the human rights they all share; 2) drafting an International Convention on Human Rights which embodies humanity’s agreement to live together, and is enforceable in the courts of all countries. These two steps are complementary and interrelated.

The 2048 Project was launched at Berkeley Law School on Leap Year Day, Feb 28, 2008, with keynotes by Mary Robinson (former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) and business leader Robert Haas (former chair and CEO of Levi Strauss). 2048 is seen as a gradual process that leads to deep-rooted social change (a process that is superior to the limited success of sudden violent revolutions). It has already been underway for 60 years and is now coming to fruition. There is an effective transnational model to follow that is working today for 47 countries in Europe that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, created in 1950, and enforced by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. “What works for 47 countries in Europe will work for the 192 countries on this planet.” 2048 is seen as an international collaboration, with Berkeley Law as facilitator. The Project is an affiliation of universities, human rights centers, businesses, and non-profits, which are working together to further a dialogue about enforceable human rights.

However, the biggest impediment to creating an International Bill of Rights is ego: people and organizations who will not work on an idea unless they have thought of it. A second challenge is funding, which can be met by “the 1% solution,” where 1% of humanity writes the agreement and 1% of each country’s GDP is redirected toward implementation and enforcement (in sum, about $500 billion per year, contrasted to $1.4 trillion/year for global military spending).

The core of 2048 is the Five Freedoms, the first four originating with President Franklin Roosevelt’s Jan 1941 State of the Union Address. Chapters are devoted to each of the essential human freedoms: 1) Freedom of Speech and Expression, everywhere in the world (including freedom of the media, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association); 2) Freedom of Religion, whereby everyone can worship god in his or her own way, and church and state are separated; 3) Freedom from Want, where everyone has the right to a useful and remunerative job, a decent home, adequate medical care, a good education, and protection from the economic fears of old age and sickness; 4) Freedom from Fear, an everyday sense of well-being, wherever we might live, enabled by an independent judiciary everywhere that enforces the rule of law; 5) Freedom for the Environment, involving preservation of what we have and protection for future generations as a major element of quality of life.

Chapters also explain how to focus together (mustering the will to act), how to think together about what is optimum across generations, how to write together, and how to decide together. Appendix A presents the original 1948 Universal Declaration, with its 30 Articles on the equal dignity of all, and rights to liberty and security, freedom of movement and residence, asylum from persecution, owning property, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, work, social security, protection against unemployment, forming and joining trade unions, rest and leisure, an adequate standard of living, free education at elementary stages, etc. Appendix B offers a Draft International Convention on Human Rights dated Jan 1, 2010, which updates and expands the 1948 UDHR with 40 articles, including #7 on representation (no elected representative shall serve more than 12 consecutive years in the same position, and candidates shall be given adequate free time on TV and other media to promote their views), #8 on voting (registration to vote shall be mandatory for those 18 years or older), #9 on environment (everyone has the right to a clean and healthy environment, including safe air and water), #10 on education (access to preschool, if desired, shall be guaranteed and free from age three; students must attend school or be homeschooled through a secondary degree), and #33-40 on operation of the International Court of Human Rights (judges terms shall be 6 years, and no judge may serve more than two terms; rights included in this Convention may be raised before the courts of all countries; these rights are superior to any law that conflicts with them).


The 1948 Universal Declaration was a remarkable document forged in the wake of WWII, but unfortunately remaining merely an ideal for many. With what is arguably a “global megacrisis” today, it is time for an update to the UDHR and serious action about enforcement, which can serve as a beacon of hope for all. This bold initiative from Berkeley Law is a worthy beginning. One can easily quibble with certain provisions in the new Draft Convention, but the overall project could be the start of an important turning point in global affairs, at a dark time when horizons need to be lifted. The optimism of 2048 contrasts markedly with the bleak outlook for “A Four Degree World” in the 21C (see GFB.org Book of the Month, May 2010), yet it could play a role in overdue actions that forestall the worst effects of global warming.


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