To Create a Social Charter

With the growing interconnectivity of people, goods, technology and institutions, a new approach is needed for a new world. Instead of the unitary decision-making, monitoring and enforcement of the Market State, social charters focus the praxis of a commons upon the characteristics of goods and services and the freedom of choice of resource users in production and governance. This expression of autonomy, intentionality and intelligence around the shared values of collective production and consumption represents a new ontology of social order. When people discover or invent a commons, their self-interest aligns with collective interests and relationships, and this personal engagement and independence is distributed throughout the collaborative network. The framework of a social charter operationalizes these emerging interests and practices, generating higher efficiency, more secure livelihoods, and greater personal and social meaning than enterprises which presume that individuals must be supervised through the command structures and exclusionary boundaries of private and state property. Since every commons varies by its specific resources, history, means of governance and production, and the social and cultural character of the community which uses or produces these common goods, there is no universal template for social charters. But a practical baseline is emerging.

A social charter for a particular commons would include:

1. Vision and Mission Statement

2. Historical Claims

•    a description of the existing users, boundaries, power and control of a commons

•    a summary of traditional or emerging claims to legitimacy and responsibility for preserving the common resource

•    a notice of claims to reparations or re-territorialization of resource boundaries

3. Rights to Fair Access and Use                                                                                       

•    a declaration of the users' rights to organize and participate in the development of new institutions and rules

•    a statement of the entitlements and responsibilities of users, managers, and producers of the commons

•    a statement of equitably shared benefits, quality standards and safeguards

•    a code of ethics and common values

4. Resource Management

•    a quantifiable set of non-monetized metrics for measuring the common resource

•    a means of matching the rules of provision and appropriation to local conditions

•    a framework for democratic and transparent decision-making and participation

•    a structure of accountability for conflict resolution and redress of grievances

•    a process of monitoring and evaluation

Global Commons Trust provides information and support for creating social charters and commons trusts: