Curatorial Initiatives
Kant's Essay

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In Conversation with Gérard Araud

In June 2010, the Perpetual Peace Project filmed Gérard Araud, the French Ambassador to the United Nations, in his office in midtown Manhattan. He argued that we face a problem of political representation today concerning who should represent civil society, due to a mistrust everywhere between elected and electors, with growing levels of abstention throughout Europe as a consequence. He explained that is frustrating today that we do not know who represents who, and that this is in part the consequence of a world that is less and less hierarchical, in which the social order has been replaced by a kind of individualism that resists giving authority to another.

Araud suggested that we have much to learn from Kant's analysis of the selfish attitude of nation-states, and expressed his concern that the United Nations are not sufficiently united, and are too often defending their respective national interests. He cautioned that decision-making is not unilateral, and that the United Nations is not just a space of debate but a space of compromise. As France's representative on the United Nations Security Council, Araud noted that the council doesn't reflect the composition of the world, and that if it takes global government seriously the composition of the council has to be rethought. Regarding nuclear proliferation, he argued that we should work towards making their use less likely, but that we should denounce the hypocrisy of nations such as the United States that profess the abolition of such weapons while investing billions in their defense. It is too late, he lamented, as there will always be evil in the world and nation-states such as Iran and North Korea will be reluctant to give them up. He expressed his concern that biological weapons are just as dangerous, and that in recent decades conventional weapons have killed millions while nuclear weapons have not.

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