Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Anne-Marie Slaughter on
I think many of the questions we face in the world do directly engage a transition from a world of states. We are seeing a whole set of issues, from climate change to pandemics. What do we owe human beings around the world, and what do human beings owe each other? I think it's a new era of international ethics.
I think there is a global ethic of responsibility, the emergence of the responsibility to protect. In 2005, you have all the world states, almost 200, agreeing that all sovereigns have a responsibility to their own citizens, and that responsibility means they don't perpetrate genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, or grave and systematic war crimes against their own citizens; and if they do, the world community has a responsibility to step in, to do something about it. Now, that is such a profound change.
I think so. We've come so far. In fact, we have lots of great data that shows that conflict has steadily reduced. That doesn't mean that for those individuals in Congo, in Syria, in many countries around the world who are still suffering conflict, that that's not terrible. But for millennia, people thought war was just an ineradicable part of the human condition. And yet, most Americans will not experience war in that way, most people across the advanced industrial world, and many, many other countries that are still developing. There is much more peace.
Moral leadership is a great deal about honesty and responsibility. It's part of what makes us human. It is part of being endowed with the capability of understanding ourselves as individuals, but individuals who cannot exist without other individuals, without a society, and being given the faculties to understand that about ourselves.
I see it, on the one hand, as a time of enormous hope and enormous democratization, the ability of people to make themselves heard and pursue their dreams and their talents, but also one of tremendous division if we can't steadily and continually try to keep leveling the playing field.