Why a Universal Tribunal?
Reliance on any basic norm, political obligation, or fundamental baseline for cost/benefit assessment other than a just and inclusive (pro)creation norm is a logical fallacy. In other words, to properly assess costs and benefits we have to first become groups of people capable of doing so in a way that is actually inclusive and reflective of the group constituents. This means that things like the Children’s Rights Convention and even more demanding birth and development standards (like climate and biodiversity regeneration through a peremptory norm to birth equity) regeneration would preempt state constitutions and state-issued property rights. Who we should be always comes first, indisputably derives from our social birth and development, and is objective and measurable when geared to the basic value of a capacity for relative self-determination and valuable autonomy. This child-rights based legitimacy would replace unsustainable and extractive growth systems harshly criticized by Nobel laureates.
This change would preempt much of the public interest work, driven by coaptation by wealthy funders, now underway. The change would start by identifying the subjectivist ethics, language and resulting standards that fundamentally enabled the crisis. It would then move to a provisional but peremptory norm enabling substantial redistributions of wealth (the costs of which were externalized in deadly ways on the vulnerable, i.e future generations) for family planning, parenting readiness delay, migration/relocation, and birth equity-based incentives/entitlements for young women (payable as UN mandated climate loss and damage reparations), which could save countless human and nonhuman lives as the climate crisis unfolds. Our research is now nearing ten positive peer-reviews and establishes a fundamental human right and obligation for would-be parents to demand and obtain the resources necessary to ensure that any child is born at a time, and in a place, manner and with specific resources, that ensure the child survives and thrives.
There are dozens of ways to enable this right, including direct action everywhere protests, ESG disclosures and third-entity certification. This would bend the arc of growth and fundamental power relations towards Dasgupta’s optimal ranges by 2100. Many in positions of power evade this discussion and refuse to exit a political system that benefits them at deadly cost to others. How they handle this issue – from their position of wealth and entitlement – screams that it’s not their life on the line; that it’s other lives, black lives, and black parents’ children’s lives, on the line.
From the Bottom Justice
The climate crisis represents the failure of governments to protect our species from an existential threat likely to kill millions – those least responsible for causing it. Think now of the infants that will die, and the species that will burn. At the same time, we can save many of those lives by targeting those who benefitted from and exacerbated the crisis to pay – under strict liability frameworks – life-saving family planning, relocation and birth equity reparations.
We are looking for those who willingly benefit at deadly cost to others, when there is an alternative. They are worth no more than those at risk, those with the least, in the future.
These targets can be identified and urged – by anyone near them – to pay and publicly announce it. That can save lives, and role model for others to do the same. The formulas for the demands, the priority list for who owes them, and what exactly is owed are being developed and they are fair – mathematically so – more unbiased than a coin toss.
Government – which as an empirical matter rarely represents citizens well anymore – need not being involved. Governments that according to one Nobel laurate treated children as economic inputs in a system the created private benefits at deadly public costs, rather than guaranteeing children their rights, will have waived much of their authority.
And the best part of starting justice by actually empowering children? The world today continues lurching towards libertarian free market governance, rather than coercive states. But those systems (incentives backed by coercion) cannot correctly assign property rights to ensure even basic economic functions – they just carry over the rights from the systems before, recreating illegitimacies like oligarchies.
Fair start demands and payments can create legitimate property rights, and move us towards true freedom, or relative self-determination. Freedom may best be conceived as the conditions of influence (incentives, entitlements, coercion, renown, group belonging, etc.), and polarity, where organizations of free and equal persons can form, dissolve, and reform — more like bubbles than an extended organizational chart.
It’s dynamic and four-dimensional.
And the way to ensure those conditions – instead of the undemocratic economies regulated by force that have infected the world – is by taking the wealth created by years of bad family policy and using it instead to entitle young women to plan their families, and physically constitute free and just communities. Savvy freedom fighters will physically constitute nations, not be constituted by some document or documents to which they have, and can only have, little relation.
This is not capitalism or socialism, but constitutionalism, the creation of duty-based systems that enable member obligation and authority by actually – physically – limiting and decentralizing influence. The unique value of investing in young girls is both evidence of how this can work, and a toehold for major reforms. Fair start in not an academic undertaking but the praxis of being sufficiently other regarding to maintain one’s own relative self-determination.
Instead of random written constitutions one can imagine modifying GMI systems via a progressive scale of democracy-building payments, inverse to wealth and income and contingent on positionality, that either charged wealthy young women for having a child before their 27th birthday and/or without certain parental readiness benchmarks, or on the other end of the wealth spectrum, covered significant incentives consistently paid out for them to build birth equity and ensure delay.
This scale could be combined with other factors that amount to “survive, self-determine, and thrive” financial kits for the most vulnerable children funded by the parents of the least vulnerable children. Dysfunctional versions of such GMI systems already exist and could be easily modified around a universal metric.
Free people will target extreme and increasingly vulnerable concentrations of wealth and power to repay the true costs of their wealth to young women, protect millions of innocent lives, and help move the world towards true freedom. This inverts power from deference to coercion from above to exclusive deference to empowering those who are vulnerable – and who we might have been – below. The former cannot create obligation because it undermines self-determination, and hides equity’s demand that privilege be earned, and that all have a right to be heard and matter.
We are really talking about primary power relations between people, and the conditions, location, timing, with which resources. etc. in which they should be born and at least initially reared, etc. For example, the climate crisis is already harming children – often before they are born. If we want to empower them, wouldn’t we have to start all of our policies by mitigating and reversing that harm, and improving the conditions in which they are born? All of this is evident in reviewing basic conceptions of intergenerational justice. If we substitute the more antecedent value of self-determination for welfare (which legitimate political entity ensures the latter value?), the threshold specified by Meyer leans towards egalitarian, and more importantly, it becomes the first and overriding norm because who we should be always come first in any policy analysis.
These reparations are the most just and effective way to offset the harm caused by the crisis, and they can help evade acts of mass violence driven by disempowerment, heat, frustration with tradition justice systems, and increasingly nothing to lose. Many are already paying these reparations directly, and concentrations of wealth and power that do not can be forced to using their deadly greenwashing liability.