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Introductory document of topic 2 (part 1/2)
Rob WHEELER
Tuesday, December 03, 2002 9:13 AM


This past month's discussion has been very rich in content and viewpoints. As we go forward I am sure that this will continue. This month we are dealing with the theme of the Architecture of Global Governance. This can be a most broad topic; and we are hoping that we will be able to pursue a number of specific lines of discussion that emerge in an organic process, based on what is of interest to the participants.

Many of those that are signed up on the list have a good deal of experience in discussing and thinking about this topic; while others may be newer to it. Please, we want to hear from everyone and to welcome all ideas and viewpoints. I am going to introduce the topic in general (below) and would then ask that others contribute to whatever aspects of this that you wish in the opening messages. You do not need to respond to anything that I have written however; only to respond to and stick with the topic at hand. It is time to send in your contributions and to begin the discussion now.

Coherency Within Global Governance
One of the first problems that must be solved in terms of global governance is how to integrate financial and economic decision-making in with the other elements of governance. Coherency is a major challenge that the nation states are currently grappling with. In other words how do decisions in one sphere relate to those in another? This could include such things as the relationships between environmental protection, social well-being, and economic and trade activities. What new structures or intergovernmental organizations are needed to meet what needs and which already exist and only need to be reformed?

This could include the membership and veto authority of the Security Council; an Environmental Security Council or World Environmental Organization; standing peacekeeping forces; a Convention on Corporate Accountability; etc all of which are already being talked about at the United Nations. Other ideas have been for a Global Resource Agency, which would collect fees on the use of the global commons to pay for social programs and global public goods; an International Sustainable Energy Agency; Conflict Mediation Teams; and a World Citizens Court; etc.

Many believe that either the UN will have to be seriously reformed or that new institutions of global governance must be established that have the capacity to deal responsibly with our common global problems and agreed upon needs. Should the WP replace the current General Assembly at the United Nations; should it serve as a second house at the UN; or should it be established as an independent body? If it is set up as an independent body and organization, what should its relationship to the United Nations be? Should the UN itself be reformed, replaced, or left as it is?

Our goal for this month's discussion is not to work on developing or agreeing on specific proposals for global governance; but rather to consider how we might best create a system of global governance, based on agreed principles and values, that will meet the needs of the 21st century and all the peoples of the world. In other words the topic for this month is more on the relationship between various elements and institutions of global governance, rather than on the specifics of how any one of them could be structured or operate.

Reforming The United Nations
Many attempts have been made over the past 10, 20, 30 years or more to reform global governance. In fact when the UN was set up fifty seven years ago, it was accepted that even it would probably need to be strengthened and reformed on a regular basis. The UN Charter specifically mandates that a vote be taken ten years after the UN was established to consider holding a charter review conference (Article 109). In addition, such a review conference can be held at any time following a two thirds vote of the General Assembly and including any nine members of the Security Council. There is also a provision for passing and ratifying amendments to the Charter, under Article 108, and a number of such changes were made in the 1960?s and early 1970?s. Unfortunately, such a review conference has never been held.

In fact, Secretary-General Kofi Annan attempted to put UN Reform on the agenda during the Millennium Summit process, but could not get the support of a number of important, or rather powerful, nation states. Similarly there have been a number of areas of transformation or modification that have been discussed within the UN, including in the areas of peacekeeping and intervention, security council size and membership, corporate accountability, etc. However, change has been slow in coming or has actually been blocked.

It is not easy to change things in this institution, where binding agreements typically must be passed by consensus. While the UN is fairly developed as a deliberative body; it is not really set up so as to operate as a legislative body. For this reason and because it is not near as effective a global decision-making body as it could be, civil society has championed a good number of alternative structures and / or modifications that could be made to strengthen global governance.

Initiatives For Reforming Global Governance
A global conference was recently held in Montreal, Quebec focusing on Civil Society and the Reform of Global Governance, which a number of the WP21 e-forum participants attended. See www.fimcivilsociety.org/g02. Similarly the Ubuntu: World Forum of Civil Society Networks is launching a World Campaign to Reform the System of International Institutions. It includes plans to set up a Study Commission to draft proposals for reforming the international system; a World Panel on Global Democratic Governance; a petition drive to convene a world conference on reforming the international system. See www.ubuntu.upc.es for more information.

The World Federalist Congress met in its quadrennial session this past summer in London, England and endorsed quite a number of proposals addressing global governance, which can be read in the WP21 reference materials or on the World Federalist Movement website at www.wfm.org/congress/documents.html. A good number of leaders from WFM are also participating in the WP21 e-forum.

The Commission on Global Governance published a report for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations in 1995, which included a whole series of proposals primarily focusing on UN Reform. See www.cgg.ch and www.cgg.ch/chfive.htm on UN Reform. Charter 99 has initiated a project encouraging and requiring accountability throughout government. See www.charter99.org.

The Assembly of the UN of the People is also held every other year in Perugia, Italy and drafts a platform of proposals or a Declaration on Global Governance and UN Reform. The State of the World Forum launched a Commission on Globalisation following its Millennium Summit conference in 2000. See www.worldforum.org.

The International Forum on Globalization has just published a new book called Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible. It lays out 10 governing principles for new rules and institutions for the global economy, leading to more democratic and sustainable societies. See www.ifg.org. The IFG Committee on Alternatives has also developed a comprehensive program and report proposing alternative systems to corporate-led globalization. It is launching a 3 year campaign to consult and build support for this. IFG includes programs and committees dealing with the environmental impacts of globalization, free trade, food and agriculture, globalization of water, global finance, and the emergence of corporate governance. See www.ifg.org/programs.htm.

Information about the World Social Forum is also available at: www.portoalegre2003.org. Thus you can see that there is a lot of interest in this whole area of the architecture of global governance.

Strengthening And Democratizing Global Governance
In addition, there are a number of initiatives set up to establish new institutions of global governance which should further strengthen and democratize it, including an e-Parliament and e-Forum, the World Civil Society Forum, and the Campaign for World Democracy. This last one is a campaign to promote the creation of a World Parliament. See http://www.worldcitizen.org/. The World Civil Society Forum grew out of a proposal made by the Commission on Global Governance and emerged as one of the principle initiatives from the UN Millennium NGO Forum. See www.worldcivilsociety.org.

EarthAction Network initiated the proposal for an e-Parliament two years ago. It will consist primarily of Members of Parliaments from around the world that will participate in on-line discussions about global issues. A substantial team has formed to develop the program and many parliamentarians are endorsing or participating in the project. The e-Parliament will more than likely serve as a means for ratifying and enacting legislation at the national level that has been agreed to at the global level. Those participating in the development of proposals that could be considered by a World Parliament could also advance their proposals through the processes of the e-Parliament. See http://www.e-parl.net/.

The Alliance Proposal Booklet On Reforming Global Governance
And then there is the Alliance's Working Group on Global Governance that produced a Proposal Booklet on Re-modelling Global Governance for the Earth Citizens Assembly in Lille, France this past year. The proposal booklet is posted on the WP21 website and is available from the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation in French, English, and Spanish in hard copy. See www.alliance21.org/en/proposals/summaries/global2.htm.

As the booklet mentions, there is an increasing gap between the interdependencies that link the people of the entire world (and that bring us together as one human family) and the legal measures designed to organize international relationships. There is a lack of rules and cohesiveness at the global level that results in an imbalance in access to wealth and resources; the rapid depletion of our natural resource base; and institutional systems that increasingly fail.

A means must be created to regulate such things as science, corporations, financial institutions, and economic and military activities. Our current modes of regulation and decision-making tend to favour the most powerful actors. There has thus been an increasing consolidation of ownership and control of the primary institutions of society, including through the media, political parties, land and natural resources, etc.

(follows in "(2/2) Introductory document of topic 2")


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