James Quilligan

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

James Bernard Quilligan = advocate for Global Common Goods and a global commons policy framework via the Global Commons Trust [1]

Intro: Setting a Commons Context


"Specific Information on my Expertise Concerning Commons Related Thematics

Over the past thirty-five years, I’ve specialized in political communications, finance, trade, and monetary policy as they relate to the field of international development. This includes extensive work on the North-South dialogue and the Common Heritage of Humanity in the 1970s and 1980s, and sustainable development in the 1990s. It was during the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals (1998-2000) that I came to realize the futility of pursuing international development under the world’s present neo-liberal economic and political system. I recognized that human and social development and environmental issues is best explained in terms of commons and have been applying my knowledge and experience to this area of inquiry and action over the past decade. Just as small resource communities are taking collective action to preserve their resources, I believe that our regional and international communities must also take steps to protect the world’s transboundary commons to ensure ecological equilibrium, human survival, personal development and social cohesion.

As part of the Great Adjustment to a new economic system, I foresee a commons basis for the international monetary system and a world society which is able to

  • preserve the bulk of depletable commons for future generations
  • rent a portion of depletable commons for the production and consumption of present generations
  • generate dividends for the benefit of all people and species and for the repair and restoration of depleted commons
  • enhance and generate replenishable commons


What is the Global Commons without P2P? From what I have read this seems like a question Mr. Quilligan is constantly in the process of answering.

Mr. Quilligan's work, in a certain sense, is poking around in the darkness looking for the light that has shone on all successful initiatives throughout history. In short, mutual trust and respect undergirds an environment where we can all exceed expectations with regard to practical, insightful, and pragmatic use of global resources. When looking at something as amorphous as 'global accountability' it's important to have a context from which to start, and a set of understandings that allow us to continually reconstruct our foundation as necessary.

You might ask yourself why this makes Mr. Quilligan's work peer-to-peer. In one sense, any system that can be built from the ground up using first principles, and by anyone, is peer-2-peer. Much of the proposed systems to be found on the Global Commons Trust site follow this methodology and quite a bit more.

It is possible to discover these sentiments and more in the far reaching vision in his Global Commons Trust.



"James Bernard Quilligan has been an analyst and administrator in the field of international development since 1975. He has served as policy advisor and writer for many international politicians and leaders, including Pierre Trudeau, François Mitterand, Edward Heath, Julius Nyerere, Olof Palme, Willy Brandt, Jimmy Carter, and His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan of Jordan.

Quilligan was a policy advisor and press secretary for the Brandt Commission (1978-1984) and the co-founder and policy development director of the Coalition for the Global Commons (2007-2008). He is presently Managing Director of the Centre for Global Negotiations and Chairman for the Secretariat of Global Commons Trust, which develops innovative means of preserving and restoring value -- beyond business and government -- through people’s social, cultural, intellectual, genetic and natural resource commons. He is also collaborating with Prince El Hassan and several United Nations agencies on global commons issues.

Quilligan has been an economic consultant for government agencies in Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Tanzania, Kuwait, India, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States. In addition, he has served as an advisor for many United Nations programs and international development organizations."

Autobiographical essay:

"I was a student radical at Kent State University (US) in the late 1960's, deeply inspired by Marcuse, Adorno, and Marx. At the age of 19, I was in a crowd of students that were fired upon by the Ohio National Guard. It was May 4, 1970. We were protesting President Nixon's announcement that the United States had invaded Cambodia, as well as the sequestration of our university campus by these Guardsmen at the behest of the Governor of Ohio. While many of my beloved friends were killed and injured in this brutal and unwarranted attack, I was blessed to escape the bullets. But my existential wounds were deep. That evening I vowed to spend the rest of my life fighting the system that produced this tragedy. I studied international economics, international relations and philosophy through graduate and post-graduate work, with the goal of understanding and redressing the injustices suffered by the world's poorest people.

For the record, I have never worked for or supported the policies of the private sector. I am not and never have been a liberal, a libertarian, or a liberist (whatever that is). Nor, during my 40-year career, have I ever represented myself as supporting the free market -- this has never been in my DNA.

In fact, I published many articles deeply critical of the prevailing liberalism of the 1970s and joined the movement for a New International Economic Order at the policy and ambassadorial levels of the United Nations. We were enormously successful. In fact, we became such a threat to the international liberal system that, when the OPEC nations initially pledged to use their soaring oil revenues to promote South-South solidarity and fund our burgeoning movement in 1973-74, the US and the international liberal order went into full crisis mode. (Simultaneously, the liberal system was also reeling from the currency volatility created when the US switched the international monetary system from fixed to floating exchange rates in 1971, which deeply impacted international trade and labor conditions.) In order to bust our fledgling union of developing states, Henry Kissinger and other NATO henchmen orchestrated the creation of the Group of Seven and quickly coerced OPEC to invest its money in Western international banks, not in the counterrevolutionary movement of the global South. (Note to students and writers: this is a little-noted chapter of that pivotal period in history -- there are some explosive books waiting to be written about these events.)

But the G7 didn't stop us. As a countermeasure, we pressed our case for the Common Heritage of Mankind (Humanity) in international fora, including the United Nations. Many people forget (or are unaware of) this now, but the UN at that time was a very vibrant place, full of transformational ideas. I was a liaison between Arvid Pardo (godfather of the Common Heritage movement), a large group of diplomats from the global South, and the global NGO community. We began to negotiate a Law of the Sea Treaty to give all people, and particularly those in poor nations, the right to preserve and/or enjoy the benefits of the international seas and seabeds. We also applied the idea of the commons to outer space, the atmosphere, and the world's transborder forests. We made a lot of progress (at least for a historical era that did not yet have the benefits of the Internet, the Rio Summit, and the concept of sustainable development.) Virtually all of the developing countries supported us. We had strong allies throughout the Non-Aligned Movement, the G77, UNCTAD, in progressive capitols of the West, behind the Iron Curtain, in China, and among hundreds of NGOs across the world. It was an exciting time indeed.

I was asked to do research for a North-South development commission headed by Willy Brandt and later became its press secretary. With the help of our friends and colleagues, Fidel Castro, Bruno Kreisky, Olof Palme, and Pierre Trudeau, we nearly staged a multilateral coup. Thanks to Trudeau, we were able to introduce a very radical North-South development agenda at the 1981 G7 summit in Canada and at a follow-up meeting of 22 heads of state in Cancun that same year. We actually got the G7 and other international leaders to begin negotiations on the creation of a new international economic system, launching an entirely new and equitable economic framework for the world's developing nations. But after this initial dialogue, the G7 reversed course and pulled out all the stops to thwart our movement. Reagan, Thatcher and Kohl (and to some extent the Japanese government) teamed up and coordinated their policy alliances through a more intensive strategy. To our astonishment, they rewrote the rules of the game, turning the economic system itself against our efforts. Instead of us changing the global economic system, they outflanked us and changed it themselves! Aid, trade, finance, monetary policy all became stridently bottom-line calculations, with nothing left to support authentic development. As Hayek replaced Keynes as the official ideology of the liberal system, we lost our leverage with the political center and developing nations began leaving the movement. Gradually, the Anglo-American initiatives for supply-side economics, deregulation and Friedmanesque monetarism became global policy, and the commons simply disappeared from the official platform.

Most people, particularly on the left, have no idea how close we actually came to changing the international system during the period 1978-1982. I do not exaggerate in saying that it was truly within reach; but, sadly, we lacked genuine support at the grassroots and we trusted too much in the governments of developing nations. As an organizer in the common heritage and international development movements, I was witness to a history that has never been adequately explained or understood. When those efforts collapsed, I was devastated: young as I was, I recognized that an historic opportunity had slipped away. Neo-liberalism, as it was soon to be called, had defeated us roundly and the alternative economics movement has never really recovered its stride (the World Social Forum notwithstanding). Later I joined Julius Nyerere's South-South Commission and Sonny Ramphal's Global Governance Commission, but these initiatives had little spark. I was also a UN delegate at the Rio Earth Summit which took up the Common Heritage principle, but sustainable development was soon emasculated by neo-liberalism. The transformational potential of all the alternative economic movements has been woefully weakened since the early 1980s, and North and South have grown increasingly cynical toward one another, even though virtually all nations are now solemn members of the same market system.

It was during my work on the UN Millennium Development Goals in 1999 that I realized in my bones that the world's development agenda could never work because it was being promoted exclusively from the top-down. I revisited the lessons of the Common Heritage movement: we had failed because we did not have nearly enough grassroots support. We had also relied on developing nations to carry the load, and gradually those governments, along with the ex-communist states, joined the very liberal system that we were fighting to change. Our biggest mistake was in thinking that we could work through governments to make those changes. We had been naive about the power of sovereignty to bind nations together through the international liberal order, often against a nation's own best interests, especially with regard to the sustainability of its own commons. Markets and states were not adversarial after all: what we were up against was the Market State.

For the past dozen years I've been working to build bottom-up support for political and economic change through the commons. As I have always done, I work at both the local and global levels. But alas, unlike the old days, most of the world leaders I talk with now are weak-kneed denizens of the multilateral echo chamber. They love to hear themselves talk about globalism. Many privately support the idea of the commons but have little courage to support it publicly. Yet many of them, at least, really do appreciate the perspectives of internationalism and history, which I still find deeply lacking at the grassroots. My biggest complaint about grassroots movements is that their necessary and legitimate commitment to localism (or regionalism) often precludes big picture thinking -- and in throwing out the hierarchical dualism of the Market State, they adopt a new dualism of local Vs. global. It's an old story, deeply rooted in our illusion-creating capacities: human beings replace one dichotomy with another, which is equally as fractured.

Neo-liberalism, globalization and the Hayekian price system have also deeply conditioned us all through a kind of historical amnesia. This applies equally on the political right and left. We're well aware of the stupid revisionism embraced by the right. At the same time, many people on the left think that anything that's 'global' is bad, and are content to reduce history simply to a series of struggles against some form of globalism (sovereignty, colonialism, imperialism, globalization). For forty years, I have been pleading for sanity: humanity itself is global, folks. Certainly, Kant's transcendental basis for global liberalism has been used to wage war against the global citizenry in countless ways, but that does not mean that we human beings across the world are lacking the capacities to define and express our intersubjective and cooperative relations through our own global sovereignty. And yes, the external forms of production now and in the past have indeed been global, pernicious, violent and deadly, but unless the world's own citizenery joins together globally to throw off this Post-Modern Leviathan, we will continue to be oppressed.

Yet we will not attain this overarching solidarity if, every time we hear the words 'global' or 'international', we immediately associate these terms with neo-liberalism and cast aspersions. After globalization, the next historical stage of political economy could be scale free, from the local to the global, if we were to carry the commons project onto the multilateral level; but if we concede 'the global' to the Market State, we're going to extend the local-global split well into the future precisely because local people reify the existing political hierarchy and economic division of labor through their opposition to anything that looks even remotely global. I'm not certainly not devaluing the significance of tribalism, communities or localism at all. I'm just a grassroots boy from Canton, Ohio. What I'm saying is that, in our parochialism, we are failing to express our global nature as commoners, and our production of intersubjectivity will continue to be repressed until it is the authentic expression of our global humanity. My view has always been that we can't know where we're going unless we can see the big picture, and we can't see the big picture unless we know where we came from. For example, the new commons movement has not even begun to explore its own roots in the Common Heritage and Natural Law. We haven't developed an epistemology, an ontology, or a theory of value for the commons. And we clearly don't have a clue what commoning means at the global level. Let's get real: global does not mean top-down. Global means all of us working together to end our personal dualism, draw our power from the evolutionary forces of surplus commoning, and bust the union of the Market State."



James Quilligan has been an analyst and administrator in the field of international development since 1975. He has served as policy advisor and writer for many international politicians and leaders, including Pierre Trudeau, François Mitterrand, Edward Heath, Julius Nyerere, Lopez Portillo, Olof Palme, Willy Brandt, and Jimmy Carter.

He has been an economic consultant for government agencies in 26 countries, including the United States. He has also served as an advisor for several United Nations programs and international development organizations.

Quilligan’s articles, under his own name, or as a ghostwriter for others, have appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the Manchester Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, the Economist, World Press Review, Tikkun, and other books and publications. He is also a musician and composer.


Quilligan received BA degrees in Philosophy and Literature from Kent State University (1973), an MA in Literature from Michigan State University (1975), an MA in Political Campaign Management from Kent State Uni versity (1985), and completed all coursework but thesis toward an MA in Communication from the Annen berg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania (1987).


From 1978 to 1984, Quilligan worked with the Brandt Commission, a distinguished group of world leaders headed by former German Chancellor Willy Brandt. The commission conducted what may have been the most comprehensive ‘state of the world’ report and proposed a series of mea sures to reduce the vast and unjust economic discrepancies between the developed and developing worlds. Their first report was published in 1980 by MIT Press as North-South: A Program for Survival, and was followed by another report Common Crisis, published in xxxx. A summit of world leaders met on the heels of the Brandt Commission (Cancun, 1981) but failed to implement the recommendations, and now the majority of the world's economies are in what can only be described as “critical condition”.


The resulting chaos has fueled age-old tensions, inspired virulent acts of terrorism, and ignited new wars around the globe. Because it is even more urgently needed now than it was 25 years ago, the Brandt plan has been updated for today's world, and has been re-introduced by James Quilligan as The Brandt Equation: 21st Century Blue print for the New Global Economy, available in its entirely at <www.Brandt21Forum.info>. From 2002 to the present, Quilligan has presented this information to a wide range of audiences, particularly in the US and Canada.

Due to the vast scope of the work, Quilligan has associated himself with an expanding group of dedicated and skilled co-workers who, in 2004, formed the non-profit, 501(c)(3) Centre for Global Negotiations. The name derives from Willy Brandt’s conviction that: The aim of ‘global negotiations’ is international consensus. This means that no single problem, energy or debt or food, for example, would be viewed in isolation without considering its direct implications on the full global agenda of interconnected issues.”


In xxxx British Prime Minister Tony Blair and activist-musician Bob Geldof launched the Commission for Africa, which included active politicians and Heads of State from around the world. The commission represented a new attempt at implementing Brandt's visionary plan, and Quilligan was asked to serve as an advisor. Their report, Our Common Interest, formed the agenda for discussion at the 2005 G-8 Summit in Scotland and resulted in ………


In 2006 Quilligan was asked to serve as the US Coordinator for the European-based Global Marshall Plan Initiative, a group of distinguished leaders in many fields who have been working diligently toward the implementation of an action plan to end international poverty, promote development, restore the environment, create alternative sources of finance, and restructure the international economy in support of sustainable development. Their plan is inspired by the American ‘Marshall Plan’, a widely acclaimed emergency relief and reconstruction program from 1948-51 that reduced poverty significantly and led to economic recovery throughout Western Europe during the postwar period.

The main focus of the Centre for Global Negotiations and the Global Marshall Plan Initiative during this next period will be helping to organize the Coalition for the Global Commons – an international consultation process that is engaging partners across the world in the development of a common global action plan. The dialogue and feeback process is open to all leaders, experts and the public, creating a wide circle of input for the development of a consultation text. The results of this consultation round will be presented at a conference of internaional stakeholders in 2010, the Convention on the Global Commons. Quilligan is serving as Policy Development Coordinator of this coalition.

~ ~ ~

Quilligan has given over 50 radio, TV and print interviews, including BBC and CBC radio; national, syndicated and local programs in the US and Canada.


Articles in Kosmos Journal

See the relevant page of Kosmos Journal.

Articles in The Huffington Post

‘Stimulate This!’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiana-wyly/stimulate-this_b_221882.html

‘The Juggling Contest’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiana-wyly/the-juggling-contest----b_b_225347.html

‘Property Rights to the Sky?’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiana-wyly/waxman-markey-property-ri_b_226862.html

More information