It is difficult to get agreement on international binding standards capable of moving society towards sustainability. Governments are increasingly unable to influence corporate behaviour at the national level. In this situation, multilateral codes may provide an interim measure to provide an interim measure to provoke the use of efficient mechanisms to implement what should later become binding standards.
The multilateral governmental process, although the preferred solution, is politically incapable of setting standards which are both sufficiently high and far-reaching to achieve sustainability. An interim, second-rate solution might be multilateral governmental non-binding codes of conduct, but which progressively become legally-binding regulatory instruments. However, opting for non-binding measures must continue to be regarded as a second-rate choice, because victims of environmental and social crimes can seek little comfort in 'non-binding agreements', whether they be broken or fulfilled in some vague way. But the interim benefit is that high targets can be set in a non-binding and non-threatening environment, and through corporate innovation and the creativity of other societal groups, solutions can be found to meet the targets.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.