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R. Carling-Jenkins: Address to World Summit 2017

Address to World Summit 2017, Seoul, Korea, February 1 to 5, 2017


To transform our world we must start with some fundamental principles. Principles which, when practiced, not only will address our challenges now but also will assist in avoiding them in the future.

I have time today to go through just three principles, which lend themselves to practical solutions. They are: subsidiarity, protecting the vulnerable, and investing in education.

  1. Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity is the principle that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed at a more local level.

Environmental degradation, violent conflict, extremism and extreme poverty tragically exist in some communities; the solutions to these problems exist in these same communities.

These problems are manifestations of a corruption of basic society. Nobody willingly chooses to exist in squalor, poverty or violence. These conditions are an injustice, imposed upon people, often by a corrupt state that allows this to continue.

A solution is the respect by the state for the individual.

To transition from one place to another, we first must have an idea of the goal. Subsidiarity articulates that goal as the respect for the individual as a free-will agent making decisions and assuming the responsibility for them. To the extent that the state usurps this decision-making role, it also assumes the responsibility for the consequences. So, rather than a maturing community, we end up with an infantile one dependent on the state, forced to live with the consequences of the state’s decisions.

We must give individuals the opportunity to have control over their own destiny, with the state’s role reduced to one of safeguarding justice—rather than perpetrating injustice.

  1. Protecting the vulnerable

Protection of the most vulnerable in our community, or “erring on the side of compassion,” is a principle I use often in my role as a legislator. We must always keep in the forefront of our mind the impact on others of what we do—or what we do not do.

Many people throughout history have acknowledged that a society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members.

The most vulnerable in our society at present are the unborn, who are being killed in unprecedented numbers (where girl children and children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable), and the refugees, living in squalid conditions with their lives on hold, hoping to escape oppression and at the mercy of foreign countries that do not seem to understand their plight.

We must take action in these areas—preventative action to uphold life and reactive action to help those most in need. This will take a united and unified response across nations, but as per my first principle of subsidiarity, the solutions will be best found, and enacted, at a local level.

  1. Education—investing in our children

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world,” and I agree.

Real peace, real progress and real change can be made through education. Education is the key to both a prosperous and a peaceful society. It brings innovation, independence and understanding. 

Education invests in our future—it invests in our children.

Practically we must promote education within our own nations, and we must promote education on a global stage. Children in all countries throughout this great world of ours deserve free access to a sound education. 


Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter.” We cannot be passive bystanders when it comes to injustice. We cannot stand back. We cannot stand by. We cannot be silent.

We are called to action, and, quite simply, we must act.


Hon. Dr. Rachel Carling-Jenkins, Member of the Legislative Council (MLC), Parliament of Victoria, Australia

Hon. Dr. Rachel Carling-Jenkins is a member for Western Metropolitan in the upper house of the Victorian Parliament. Rachel is the 55th parliamentarian of the Democratic Labour Party (at state or federal level) and is the first female parliamentarian in the Party’s history. She has worked in the welfare sector for around 20 years and holds a Ph.D. in social sciences.

To go to the 2017 World Summit Conference Schedule, click here.