Humanity faces multiple competing crises. Their resolution demands that nations work collaboratively and cooperatively, pooling resources and strengths, and engaging in constructive dialogue to address the challenges we face.
Yet, these crises also threaten to divide us, and spill over into conflict about land, food, water, and ideas. To find ways to avoid the worst possible outcomes, we will need to gain a deep understanding of human and group psychology and how that impacts on the actions of our leaders and the emotional states of those they represent. Through that knowledge we can find ways to work together, find common aims, and seek to build institutions, cultures, and policies that promote peaceful coexistence and inspire reciprocal compassion and mutual support.
This group is working to establish what knowledge already exists on how to create constructive change and coexistence, promote discussion and dialogue across countries about that knowledge, and build on that knowledge and agree on guiding principles to ensure it is learned from and acted upon.
Why we need compassion in international relations
The traditional means of solving international crises are ineffective: leaving too many people powerless, divided, disadvantaged, or marginalised. We need new approaches that can help us find innovative, uniting, creative, and human-centered approaches to international problems.
Climate change, conflict, economic inequality, injustice, refugees and migration, technological evolution, and many other challenges cannot be solved by any one state alone. They require global dialogue and greater understanding that move beyond the predominance of large states to recognise the diversity, plurality and contributions of all.
The way forward
New approaches will require collective action that places the emphasis on people, connection, and the importance of human flourishing, in spite of our differences. In many ways this means returning to principles of human rights, sustainable development, and mutual understanding that sit at the heart of many shared international visions for peace and security.
Traditionally compassion is associated with humanitarian initiatives and development, a prosocial response to human suffering, however, along with associated ideas of empathy and ubuntu, it holds additional benefits for diplomacy, strategy, defence, and a more expansive idea of security. It is necessary to think creatively and draw from the wisdom and experience of diverse countries and cultures to find new paths to a better future.