Fr. Fondation

Esp. Fundación

→ Association, civil society, philanthropy

According to an internationally agreed definition, a foundation is a non-governmental and non-profit making body having an endowment fund of its own, and managed by its own trustees or directors to serve the common welfare. It must be distinguished from an association, which is essentially a group of private individuals or legal entities undertaking a common project. When a private individual creates a foundation, he/she establishes a new institution that must be distinguished from the founder.

In Western countries, they are the main institutions through which private funds and other resources are made available to the community in all spheres: culture, health, education, employment, environment, culture, human rights, etc.

The comparative perspective shows that their legal status and social significance can be very different from one country to another. Private foundation are considered as public foundations when they are created by a public authority, in consequence of which, although the funds have been provided out of the public purse, the fund thus created is governed only by the rules of private law (van der Ploeg and Hondius 2001).

In Europe, there are more than 114,000 “public-benefit foundations” operating from the local to the international level, with a combined annual giving of more than 53 billion euros (DAFNE 2014). In Anglo-American countries, trusts and corporations can be foundations in the form of a legal person in civil law. In England and Wales, near equivalent terms are charities, corporate funders, philanthropic entities and other players. Generally, foundations are more commonly found in countries like the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Spain or Italy than in France and other European States. In some countries they are regulated by statute law, in others by judge-made or customary law. In some States no foundation may be set up without a previous public authorisation.

The methods used to attain their goals also appear to be different from one cultural or historical background to another, as well as the definition of what is considered to be good for man, society or human nature. The varying purposes of foundations take a renewed significance when these operate within an international context, as they are confronted with what is good or useful for the community or mankind as a whole in such fields as peace, the protection of the environment, or social, political and cultural rights. As a consequence, foundations are both a unique field of legal experimentation in the formation of international law, and a specific category of actors in international and transnational relations.

When centered on grant-making, foundations can have different functions. They can take an interest at the macro level, where issues of structure, systemic and institutional change, and fundamental issues of global, national and local governance are being tackled; they can make contributions to policy making interventions, like the Ford Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, all from the US, which supported the policy making objectives of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001 by making extensive investments, despite the reservations about participating shown by the US government; thirdly, they can operate at the micro level, supporting service delivery in various areas of human endeavour (around 75 percent of grant making according to CIVICUS).

Whether based on grant-making, operational projects or policy-making interventions, foundations may be involved in macro governance and confronted with specific issues. It may be hard to measure long-term results of their involvement, assess the advocacy work being done on their behalf, or avoid the contradictions of global inequality between wealthy northern countries and poor developing countries. In a number of cases, ethical questions arising from grant making may weaken fair cooperation, lead to criticisms of donor-driven approaches and undermine the original aims of development projects.

For all those reasons, foundations are sometimes associated with the ‘soft power’ concept, especially when they are politically oriented and aim at promoting contacts between some social sectors and their counterparts in other countries. For example, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany made it possible for Angela Merkel, when she was the Environment minister (1994-1998), to get in touch with Chuck Hagel, who was later the American Defense Secretary.

These questions have led grant-seeking organisations as well as grant-making organisations to improve transparency, which involves the need to produce regular reports. As an intrinsic part of the broader fabric of civil society, international foundations are expected to be subject to the same burdens of public accountability, with a view to promote their legitimacy in a changing global context.

Frits Hondius and Tymen J. van der Ploeg, Foundations, Tübingen: Mohr Siebieck, 2001
Richard Owen and Michael Dynes, The Time Guide to1992, London, 1989

Frits W. Hondius, “Foundations in Space and Time”, Transnational Associations, 1988/4

“The Law on Foundations”, Situation (Fundacion Santillana, 1989

Commission of the EEC, Fourth Report of the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, Brussels, 30 May 1989

Europhil, Summary of addresses and discussions on "1992 and Non Profit Organisations in Europe", meeting held at Chateau Klingenthal, 31 May-1 June 1989

Mikhail Gorbachev, Speech before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 6 July



Donors and foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE), Mapping the European philanthropic sector, 2014

Multilingual databank in International Relations

Sponsored by the EOP (European Observatory for Plurilingualism)

‘It is vital that students of IR give language more attention than hitherto, as words shape as well as reflect reality’

Ken Booth


Includes various fields in human and social sciences and philosophy (international economics and development, etc.)

Entries are original or taken from contributors’ existing or updated items.  

The selected terms would take into account their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities (English and French for a start), but are replaced within their corresponding cultural fields, with an emphasis on a European and/or comparative perspective, with references to other languages and studies in notable texts.

In practical terms, entries could be existing, new or adapted items, of variable length according to the relative importance of the selected term/concept.:

-       200 to 500 words for secondary, uncommon or technical concepts ;

-       Around 1000 words for ordinary concepts (identity, agreement, power...)

-       2000 or 3000 words for fields, sub-fields or subjects (international law, nation-state, war, civil society, international organizations, etc.).

Languages: English and French for a start. Spanish and other languages will be included at a later stage, if and when possible.

Fr. Transnationalisme

Esp. Transnacionalismo

→ actors, cosmopolitanism, globalization

In the theory of International Relations (IR), transnationalism has been one attempt to widen the discipline beyond the conventional debate between realists/Machiavellians, rationalists/Grotians and revolutionarists/Kantians. It includes, among other things:

  • the claim that the state is no longer the dominant actor, which challenges the state-centric outlook shared by idealism and realism;
  • loyalties and activities that connect humans across nations and national boundaries.

Although transnational ideas had been around since ancient times, transnationalism became a process more recently, due to the advance of technology and mass communications, which speeded up human interactions and the transfer of ideas across national borders.

Before the 1970s, the dominance of the state had undergone 3 distinct challenges:

  • The international working-class opposition to the First World War, based on the claim unity was better that division, and that the separateness of states helped to perpetuate capitalism. These claims were undermined by the events of 1914, as in state after state the working class rallied to its national flag and volunteered to fight the Great War.:
  • In the 1950s, the demise of the nation-state resulted from four factors: its susceptibility to economic warfare; the rise of international communications and the consequent permeability of national borders; the development of air warfare; the development of nuclear weapons, which threatened the very survival of states and their populations (Sylvest 2010).
  • From the early 1950s, the economic integration, especially in Europe, as studied in the neo-functionalist approach, which was to lead to political integration (Haas 1958).

The challenge of the 1970s as well as the “return to the state” triggered by the economic downturn of 2008 have failed to prove the necessary demise of the state, as many countries now support free trade because they feel everybody will benefit in the long run: telecommunications and transportation are more convenient, available and faster than ever for people, goods and services. On the other hand, many groups are resisting globalization, arguing that an unregulated free market destroys jobs, exploits workers, degrades the environment, and even distorts cultures.

The introduction of transdisciplinary concepts, while shedding new light on globalisation and its impact on political, social, or communal identities, was also a response to the changing pattern of power relations, toward what appears increasingly as a form of “complex multilateralism” involving a system of governance made of a plurality of actors: not only states and inter-state bodies recognized by international law, but also networks and communities diversely formalised into civil society organizations, whether on a corporate or a non-profit basis. The “multi-stakeholder” dialogues, “multilayered identities” and “multilayered governance”l law, retreating to a nostalgic identification with the sovereign nation-state, if not with the closed community, an all-embracing “civilisation” or “people sovereignty”. This paradoxical trend has taken a more explicit turn with the transnational militancy in Seattle, Prague and Genoa around 2000, was exacerbated by the terrorist attacks in Spain, France, Britain, Turkey and Asian countries, the second Iraq war that started in 2003, the Islamic State (IS)’s emergence in Syria and Irak, and rebounded with the populist movements and a revival of state sovereignty in the 21rst century. Transnationalism was the central problematique of such seminal works as Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye’s (1971) and Marcel Merle’s (1974), which inspired a new generation of scholars resolutely committed to an interdisciplinary structuring of the IR field of studies, like Risse-Kappen Risse, Wallerstein, Galtung, Rosenau, Held and many more. However, an elating “global transnationalism” has often been taken as offering an opportunity to explore, but also to reduce the complex issues involved, in the same way as a comforting “return to the state” was a return to the state-centric paradigm. By the early 1980s, IR was considered as too monodisciplinary, encouraging its widening beyond the state-centric position into “global studies”, whose perspective not only transcended the state-centric views, but also tolerated a plurality of methods and rules of inquiry which renounced the principle of the “unity of science”. As was clearly and elegantly shown by Stephen Toulmin (2001, 140), “… while making some helpful points about the trouble generated when disciplinarity is pursued in an exclusionary spirit, critiques presented in the name of ‘interdisciplinarity’ must, in turn, acknowledge the debt interdisciplinary ideas owe to the very disciplines on which they are parasitic. Only within a world of disciplines can one be interdisciplinary: it is the vice of each style of thought […] that make possible the virtues of the other.” In practice, thousands of inter/transnational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have facilitated interactions between individuals and groups across international boundaries. NGOs are private bodies with little or no links with government, made up of individuals or groups acting on their own to promote their interests, to advance causes, and solve global problems. If transnational interactions are sometimes difficult to regulate, transnational ideas and movements are unstoppable at the borders of nations. Feminism is one such idea that has spread around the world promoting movements that struggle for gender equality and social justice, while feminist scholar have altered the study and theory of international relations. Transnational religion also has a powerful influence on global politics. While the practice of religions tends to be associated with peace, humanitarianism and the good of the world, history is a mirror of all kinds of conflicts because and in the name of religion. Christian fundamentalism is often associated with tradition and conservative values, and Islamic fundamentalism has been linked with religious extremism and terrorism. Such fundamentalism also mixes traditionalism with militant nationalism, so much so that secular states and secularism are increasingly under siege. The increasing anarchy that affect the Middle East has been compared by Ernest Haass (2014) to the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, where three decades of sectarian conflicts ravaged the continent in the first half of the seventeenth century. More transnational interactions also mean the intermingling of aspects of cultures around the world, the emerging of a transnational culture. In his book Jihad versus Mc World (1997), Benjamin Barber examines how strong globalism and tribalism are reshaping the world as a fight between two distorted, fundamentalist versions of transnationalism. While “MacWorld” is in the making, some people and endangered cultures are resisting the onslaught of transnational culture, like some indigenous peoples in the Amazon and the rain forests of Africa. The extreme form of resistance to the transnational culture is the creation of reactionary traditionalism, fundamentalism and what Barber calls “the culture of jihad”, this term being understood as a holy war, the most extreme outcome of the march of transnationalism.


Thomas Risse-Kappen , Bringing Transnational Relations Back In, Cambridge: COP, 1995

Stephen Toulmin, Return to Reason, Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2001

Casper Sylvest , “Realism and international law: the challenge of John H. Herz”, International Theory, November 2010

Ernest B. Haas, The uniting of Europe: political, social, and economic forces, 1950–1957, Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958

David Held, Anthony McGrew et al., Global Transnformations. Politics, Economics and Culture, London: Polity, 2000

Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, “Transnational Relations and World Politics”, International Relations, 3, 1971

Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Power and Interdependence,Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman/Little, Brown, 1987

Marcel Merle, The sociology of international relations, Berg Publishers, 1987 [1974]

Stephen Toulmin, Return to Reason, Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2001

Richard N. Haass, “The Unraveling. How to Respond to a Disordered World”, Washington: Council on Foreign Relations, November/December 2014

Steven E. Barkan, “Gender and Gender Inequality”, in Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, Brief Edition, v. 1.2, 2012

Benjamin Barber, Djihad versus McWorld , Ballantine Books, 1995

John A. Hall, “The Return of the State”, Social Science Research Council, New York, 2002

Shibley Telhami, The Return of the State, The National Interest, Summer 2006

José E. Alvarez, “The Return of the State”, Minnesota Journal of International Law, 2011

John H. Herz, “Rise and Demise of the Territorial State”, World Politics, July 1957

Robert Keohane & Joseph S. Nye Jr. (Eds.), Transnational Relations and World Politics, De Gruyter, 1972

Thomas Riss-Kappen, Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions, Cambridge: CUP, 1995

Paul Ghils, "International relations and its languages: a transdisciplinary perspective", in Josephine Papst (ed.), The Unifying Aspects of Cultures, Vol. I: The Unifying Method of the Humanities, Social and Natural sciences, Blackwell, 2005. Reprinted in Transnational Associations, 4/2004

Ernst B. Haas ( ed.), The uniting of Europe: political, social, and economic forces, 1950–1957 (3rd ed.), Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004 [1958]

Marc Clément, « Pax europeana, la romanité de l’Europe par le droit », Revue de l'Union Européenne, Paris, déc. 2011

Steve Charnovitz, “Two centuries of participation: NGO and International governance”, Michigan Journal of International Law, Hiver 1997

Robin Cohen and Shirin M. Rai, Global Social Movements, Londres, Athelone Press, 2000

Robert O’Brien et al., Contesting Global Governance. Multilateral Economic Institutions and Global Social Movements, Cambridge: CUP, 2000

M.E. Keck and K. Sikkin, Activists beyond borders, Cornell, Cornell University Press, 1998

Jeff Haynes, “Transnational religious actors and international politics”, Third World Quarterly, No 2, 2001

Amartya Sen, “India: The Stormy Revival of an International University”, New York Review of Books, August 13, 2015




Ce terme est l’un de ceux qui interrogent le cadre classique des relations internationales tout en le débordant largement, au même titre que « démocide », anthropocène » et quelques autres. Paul Jorion (2016) a repris « soliton » dans un sens métaphorique emprunté à la description de la lame de fonds constituée de plusieurs vagues qui se superposent pour en constituer une seule, mais monstrueuse. Contrairement aux vagues de raz-de-marée (tsunami en japonais),  dont la longueur d’onde est grande et qui ne s’élèvent qu’à l’approche des côtes, les vagues scélérates sont des trains d’ondes issus de l’état de la mer. Leur longueur d’onde varie peu, mais leur profil est plus abrupt que celui des autres vagues, ce qui les fait déferler sur les côtes.

L’auteur se limita initialement à analyser les phénomènes relevant de son domaine de compétence premier, à savoir la crise économique et financière. Il y ajouta plus tard les deux autres domaines de l’environnement et de la complexité/ robotisation, à partir de l’hypothèse que la crise écologique risquait de rattraper l’humanité avant qu’elle puisse résoudre les problèmes de la complexité et de la machine à concentrer la richesse, alors même que se reposait la question de la rareté de l’emploi dans le cadre de la mécanisation exponentielle des tâches professionnelles. La question du soliton se posa dès lors comme « une question unique et indécomposable », dont le sens devenait moins technique que philosophique, puisqu’elle portait sur la survie de l’espèce humaine, comme composante de la survis de la biosphère dans son ensemble. Les trois composantes de la question sont donc :

  • - la question écologique, causée par l’épuisement des ressources, l’évolution du climat et notamment son réchauffement, accompagné de l’acidification des océans et de la hausse du niveau des mers.
  • - la « crise de la complexité », due aux interactions croissantes entre facteurs de plus en plus mécanisés et informatisés, la réduction corollaire de l’emploi.
  • - la crise économique et financière, dont la cause essentielle est que les systèmes se réduisent à ce niveau à une « machine à concentrer la richesse » et en particulier au versement d’intérêts sur la dette, dont les effets délétères sont amplifiés par la spéculation, l’ensemble étant considéré comme sans danger et inoffensif.

Le concept se réfère ainsi à un phénomène particulier mais contemporain de conjonction de plusieurs phénomènes, dans un sens élargi qui recoupe plusieurs domaines de la connaissance et revêt pour cette raison une dimension transdisciplinaire. Paradoxalement, il engendre dans le même temps le concept de ce qui, pour certains auteurs, n’a pas de référant jusqu’à présent, à savoir le « monde » dans ce cas-ci. Certes, il a toujours été imaginé, dans ses projections cosmopolitiques. Mais dès qu’il est accompli, ce geste se trouve renvoyé à l’imaginaire. Le dharma védique (« gnostique », depuis le 15e siècle a.c.n.) désignait le maintien en un tout (brahman) des corps, esprits, souffles et paroles (essentialisées en Parole révélée mais incréée) de la scène cosmique, mais le védisme reconnaît qu’il se fragmente en une infinité d’intuitions et de voies dévolues aux individus. Le dharma (dhamma) bouddhique l’affine, qui le transforme en conscience délivrée de l’ego, mais laissée à l’initiative incertaine et impermanente d’individus isolés de la plénitude humaine. Le tianxia confucéen relu par Zhao Tingyang (2018) retrouve cette même dissociation, cette cassure occultée, qui fait que le tout manifeste « sous le ciel » reste aveugle à ce Tout sous un même ciel, entrevu comme histoire du monde inatteignable, suspendu dans la sphère mythique. Ici aussi, l’humain singulier constate que le monde en tant que monde n’existe pas dans la conscience collective, l’histoire mondiale est un construit, « le monde est un non-monde » en dehors de sa dimension physique subitement baptisée anthropocène.

Reviendrait-on à la seule strate humaine, on constaterait avec le philosophe Marcus Gabriel (2017) que le monde n’existe pas. De même, le philosophe des relations internationales Pierre Hassner constate que la communauté internationale n’existe pas. Ce sont les communautés religieuses, idéologiques, nationales ou ethniques qui composent « la » société internationale, contrainte de s’entendre sur quelques  points comme les circuits aériens, maritimes, informationnels, financiers et commerciaux, éventuellement par le biais des OIG et la participations de quelques OING.

Vues de loin, les splendides projections d’une humanité conçue comme telle furent menacées de disparition avant même d’exister, il y a 123.000 ans environ (isotope 6), lorsque les quelques centaines de sapientes survivant aux glaciations se trouvèrent condamnés à se nourrir de coquillages sur la pointe du Cap. Notre chroniqueur Yves Paccalet aurait pu publier son L'humanité disparaîtra, bon débarras ! (il n’aurait plus resté qu’à achever Neandertal, ce résistant nordique impénitent), mais il dut attendre 2007, avec aggravation en 2013, pour sortir ce titre honteusement désinfecté de nos chers mythes. Depuis son retour, sapiens se consacre à la migration, hormis quelques gros établissements çà et là, le long des côtes de préférence, de sorte que la liquidation de tout solde s’effectuera sans difficulté, la marée aidant. En attendant, il vide son habitat des ses êtres vivants, fort de sa masse biologique, 0,01 % de la masse végétale, car il est optimiste (le transhumanisme le prouvera).

Si la valeureuse proposition de de Corinne Lepage (2018) de faire exister l’humanité par une déclaration des droits de l’humanité, c’est bien que celle-ci n’existe pas encore en tant que sujet de droit avec ses propres droits.



Chaline Jean, Histoire de la barbarie. Requiem pour l’humanité, Ellipses, 2018

Fukuyama Francis, The Origins of Political Order. From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, Profile Books, Londres, 2011

Gabriel Markus, Why the World does not Exist, Polity, 2017

Jorion Paul, Défense et illustration du genre humain, Fayard, 2018.

Jorion Paul, Le dernier éteindra la lumière. Essai sur l’extinction de l’humanité, Fayard, 2016

Lepage Corinne, “Le moment de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’humanité est venu », Cosmopolis 2018/1-2

Montbrial Thierry de, Vivre le temps des troubles, Albin Michel, 2017

Rymarski Christophe, Entretien avec Pierre Hassner, « Qui gouverne le monde ? », Science humaines, 21 février 2017

Sansal Boualem, 2084. La fin du monde, Gallimard, 2015

Tingyang Zhao, Tianxia. Tout sous un même ciel, Cerf, 2018