Why does the Good Country exist?

In the 21st century we face huge global challenges: from climate change to poverty, from migration to terrorism, from pandemics to economic instability and war. Any sustainable solutions to these challenges will need countries to compete a little less and collaborate a lot more.

Many countries have already acknowledged the need for this behaviour change through their commitments to projects like the UN’s Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals. But these kinds of behaviours are too often framed as occasional, one-off ‘contributions’ rather than an overall approach to policy-making. The culture of governance urgently needs to change, worldwide, from fundamentally competitive to fundamentally collaborative.

This doesn’t mean we think nations should become self-sacrificing, altruistic, or more charitable. But they do need to learn a new approach to policy-making: an approach that harmonizes their domestic needs with those of the international community. Our experience shows that making policy in this way, far from being a compromise, can actually make better, more innovative policies. The problem is that it simply hasn’t been practised consistently enough by any nation for it to become a recognised standard; it hasn’t “caught on.” It must.

We need a new country to demonstrate the viability of this kind of policy-making. No other international actor – charity, think-tank, NGO, corporation, or international organisation – is capable of driving this cultural change. Only nations have the sovereign autonomy, the credibility, and the clout to offer this kind of leadership. But traditional territory-based nations are caught in a tangle of history, geography, and domestic politics that makes it hard for them to take on this leadership role. The Good Country starts with a clean slate: its only motive is to inspire collaborative action and to address global challenges; to introduce a new kind of constructive international thinking, based on rational, innovative, enlightened national self-interest; and to lead the way towards a fairer, more sustainable future for us all.

What does the Good Country do?

The Good Country will support the community of nations by carrying out, with the help of its citizens and allies, at least four types of activities:

  • It will design and implement collaborative projects and policies, and share these freely with other countries, cities, regions, companies, and organisations;
  • It will pioneer new kinds of diplomacy, brokering multilateral collaborations between partner nations; 
  • It will fund and implement policy as a sovereign nation in its own right;
  • It will design and incubate new institutions, structures and organisations, becoming a powerful agent for reform of the global machinery, working in close partnership with the existing multinational system. 

How does the Good Country differ from other international actors?

  • As the Good Country Index clearly shows, some countries are more successful than others at harmonizing the needs of their own population and territory with those of the rest of humanity and the whole of the planet. None go far enough and few have done more than scratch the surface of real ‘dual mandate’ thinking.
  • The United Nations system and the other international agencies are constrained by the fact that they are membership organizations whose authority is granted to them by their members. Few states are prepared to give any such organization the power to limit their own freedom to act in any significant way. As a consequence, international agencies are often limited to convening and organizing roles, or else are relegated to redressing issues and state behavior after things have gone wrong.
  • Most charities and NGOs focus on individual challenges – such as pollution, poverty, or arms control – and so tend to produce benefits that are local, limited in scope, or short-lived. The Good Country aims to tackle the underlying problem that prevents humanity from solving all these challenges: our inability to collaborate effectively or consistently.
  • Civil society organizations and activist groups are also limited by the tools that are available to them. Many rely on campaigning and raising awareness of their chosen problem: but simply raising awareness does not often produce productive action.  

A range of new tools, well beyond the limited armory of petitions, campaigns, and fund-raising, is urgently needed. We believe that a new kind of sovereign state, with significant resources of people and funds, can break this pattern and bring about real change. 

What is the Good Country's relationship with other countries?

The Good Country will work in close partnership with other countries to support, advise, represent, challenge, motivate and inspire them to become good countries in their own right. We do not believe that attempting to shame nations into better behaviour by means of petitions or other forms of public pressure is a productive approach in the long term. Ultimately, we won’t measure the Good Country’s success by how many productive actions it has brought about itself, but how many other nations, cities, and organizations it has changed in the process.

The goal of the Good Country project is not to create the most perfect country, but to support the international system: for this reason, it’s not in competition with other political actors. Over time, the Good Country will adopt as many of the functions of nation states as are necessary to achieve its goals, but no more.  

How will the Good Country be funded?

The Good Country will be funded mainly by the taxes of its citizens. It has no territory to defend; it has few social services to provide; it has the potential to attract a significant population (our research suggests a core target of some 760 million people worldwide who instinctively support the aims of the Good Country); so very low taxes will be sufficient to produce an annual budget that will put the Good Country on a par with many smaller states. ­

How will the Good Country be governed?

The Good Country is designed as a self-organising system, with nothing resembling a conventional government. We are currently working on an AI-based platform that will use advanced machine learning to understand and engage the Good Country citizens in real-time conversation. In this way, complex decisions don’t need to be reduced to simple binary votes, and policy doesn’t have to be handed over to political parties, politicians or other ‘representatives:’ decision-making is direct, fully participative, fully informed, and rapid.

The Good Country will have a form of Civil Service, which answers directly to citizens via the platform rather than to officials: its role is to perform strategy, analysis, synthesis, administration, and the implementation of policy. 

What are the sources of the Good Country's legitimacy?

The Good Country will succeed or fail according to its ability to attain legitimacy in the eyes of its own citizens, the governments and populations of other countries, and the international organizations.

There are four main sources of this legitimacy:

a) Our expertise. A good number of the world’s leading experts in policy, governance, technology, and the global challenges will work closely with and in the Good Country: as members of its policy teams; as members of its advisory groups; as prominent citizens of the Good Country itself.

b) Our population. The number of citizens holding a Good Country passport is directly proportional to the country’s ability to engage productively with other countries and organizations. Tens or hundreds of millions of citizens, united by a simple set of common goals, is a force that no individual, body, or nation could dismiss lightly.

c) Our soft and hard power. The Good Country’s hard power – the extent to which we are able to implement our projects, where necessary, without the support or even permission of other states – comes from the size of our population and the size of the economy funded by that population. The Good Country’s soft power – our ability to attract and persuade others to work with us – comes from our constitution, our values, our raison d’être, our creativity, our dynamism, our lack of political baggage, and the way we work with popular culture – music, art, dance, film, theatre – in every aspect of our projects and programs.

d) Our commitment to evidence-based thinking. Every important assumption on which the Good Country bases its ideas, policies, and actions will be supported by empirical research, backed up by constant collaboration with a network of leading universities worldwide. This robust scholarly habit will underpin everything the Good Country ever does. 

Can I have a passport?

Of course. We’ll start accepting applications for citizenship in the last quarter of 2018. Watch this space, or sign up now for updates.