The Atlantic Charter can (again) serve as a source of inspiration

The Atlantic Charter can be considered the fundament of the current international order – the United Nations – and the close cooperation between the United States and Europe, following the Second World War.


“The Atlantic Charter was a pivotal policy statement issued on 14 August 1941, that defined the Allied goals for the post-war world. The leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States drafted the work and all the Allies of World War II later confirmed it. The Charter stated the ideal goals of the war: no territorial aggrandizement; no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people, self-determination; restoration of self-government to those deprived of it; reduction of trade restrictions; global cooperation to secure better economic and social conditions for all; freedom from fear and want; freedom of the seas; and abandonment of the use of force, as well as disarmament of aggressor nations. Adherents of the Atlantic Charter signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942, which became the basis for the modern United Nations.The Atlantic Charter set goals for the post-war world and inspired many of the international agreements that shaped the world thereafter. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the post-war independence of European colonies, and much more are derived from the Atlantic Charter.”

The (war) dynamics of the International System suggest that the current international order – the United Nations – is now in its final stage, and shortly before its collapse.

As was the case with preceding ‘international orders’, the life span of international orders is only limited, because it is just a matter of time before its organizational arrangements – but not necessarily the value system it represents – become obsolete and require adjustment.

Analysis of war data suggests that at this point the current international order cannot any longer prevent the build-up of tensions in the System and regulate their release. The System is now ‘charging‘ for systemic war. Current volatile political developments and high tension levels in the System, are a consequence of this ‘dire’ condition of the international order.

As was the case with the preceding four systemic wars, of which the Second World War was the last, during these wars tensions that have accumulated in the System are released, and are used to implement ‘upgraded‘ international orders that are ‘balanced‘ again, and can provide new periods of relative stability that allow for further growth and development.

By means of the next systemic war – that according to this research could present itself in just a matter of (short) time – the System will implement an upgraded international order (UN 2.0) and probably also an upgraded European order (EU 2.0).

We should be aware that the outcome of a systemic war – the international order that will be implemented and the value system that underpins it – is the outcome of a power struggle: war.

The fact that the Atlantic Charter became the fundament of the next international order (following the Second World War), was not an obvious – unavoidable – outcome: It required tough bargaining that was backed up by fierce fighting and battlefield results. During the Theran Conference (1943), Yalta Conference (February 1945), and Potsdam Conference (July 1945), the Allies were able to achieve the implementation of the Atlantic Charter, and the value system it represented.

Until now, the System – we – were unable to reorganize itself by other means than systemic war. The massive destruction and suffering a next systemic war will (again) cause, is the price we pay for our inability to reorganize the international order by means than deliberation. It is more than worthwhile the effort to break with this destructive tradition.

In a number of respects, the Atlantic Charter can serve as a source of inspiration: not only because of the values it stands for and successfully promoted since 1945.

By launching a similar initiative – preparing a Global Charter – it is possible to clarify where we stand and aim for. Such an initiative contributes to the design and implementation of a new international order; hopefully by other means than systemic war.