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(1/2) Introductory document of topic 3
Rob WHEELER WP21 team
Friday, January 03, 2003 5:03 PM


ººº Abstract: parts of the document (1/2) Introduction - the purpose of the World Parliament -Meeting Time and Place - Funding - Representation and participation - (2/2) Participatory Methodologies - Program proposals and Development - Local and Regional Organizing - Organizational Models and Proposals ººº

Greetings friends and associates,

This month we will be discussing, * The internal and external organization of a World Parliament. * Thus our discussion will include such things as where and how often a world parliament should meet; who should participate; whether and how it will include local and regional assemblies, preparatory meetings, and organizing processes; what its mandate could be; and how it will interact with other bodies or agencies of governance; etc.

It is the intent and hope of the WP21 e-forum coordinating team that this will not turn out to be an exercise in abstract or theoretical discussion, but can instead be used as the first stage in a planning process for the actual creation of a world parliament. We therefore hope that all of the participants will continue to take the discussion quite seriously and will join with us in dedicating ourselves to searching for the most effective, workable, and legitimate structures, processes, and orientations for global governance and the world parliament.

We hope to build from these earlier discussions, to develop a foundation upon which we can design an on-going process leading progressively to the creation of the world parliament. The Purpose of the World Parliament
Perhaps one of the most challenging and also most discussed aspects of creating a World Parliament is how it will be structured and operate. Of course this will depend to some extent on what its intended purpose and function will be. Some of the possibilities include: A) a place where global issues can be discussed and debated; B) where proposals or recommendations regarding global issues and global governance can be made - thus providing a platform that is more visible to the people, media, and governments; C) a place where those participating can work towards reaching consensus on important issues; or D) finally, where binding and enforceable legislation could be developed and passed. Thus, a World Parliament could develop to where it creates and authorizes the passage and enforcement of international law.

International law professors Andrew Strauss and Richard Falk have written numerous papers describing how such a parliament or global peoples assembly could be legitimated and thus its powers and authority could increase over time. Several of their short papers are included on our website at 10_strauss.html. Such conceptualisations are increasingly being taken seriously; and thus may provide part of the basis for a strategy that could fairly rapidly result in the establishment of a recognized or accepted world parliament.

For quite a few years many of those supporting the idea of a global peoples assembly thought that it should be a second house, under or alongside the General Assembly, at the United Nations. However, over the past decade there has been an increasing interest in the idea that the peoples assembly or world parliament should be based on and include a strong network of local and regional assemblies that are organized all around the world.

As such new ideas have been put forward and discussed, it has also became apparent that quite a number of governments are unwilling to consider significant UN reform; to allow the role of NGO's (non-governmental organizations) in international decision-making to be strengthened; or even to support serious or effective efforts to solve our global problems. Thus many of us have moved more towards thinking that we should begin by organizing an independent world parliament or what has also been called a global peoples assembly.

The thinking is that if the governments are reluctant to embrace the idea of what they see as a competing organization, or one that will challenge them to act more forcibly or effectively, then perhaps only an independent organization will have the strength and ability to directly challenge the governments to take more appropriate action or to instead establish itself as a governing body if the governments continue to act irresponsibly. The question still remains, however, as to what the relationship of the WP should be to the UN and other intergovernmental processes; and how this might be established or further developed over time.

Meeting Time and Place
In relationship to how long and where the parliament itself should meet, one has to consider which of the purposes we would hope to achieve. If we want it to pass international law, then it could take much more time and would need to include a much more serious effort of considering and developing policy and various mechanisms by which to implement proposals and/or to govern. However, before we get to this point we will probably want to ensure that we have the full support and participation of the world's people in the development and workings of the world parliament. In the meantime, though, there is probably no reason why a world parliament couldn't start with a meeting lasting only a week or two and then expand over time as its agenda, purpose, and authorization grows.

In terms of where and how often it should meet, the discussion ranges from every six months or every year to every two or three years. In addition, some people think that the WP should be closely associated with the UN and meet where it meets; while others suggest that its meetings should be held around the world, including in, or particularly in, developing countries; perhaps rotating so that it meets each time on a different continent.

Funding
Funding is another critical factor. The longer, or more often, the assembly meets the more need there will be for a significant amount of funding. Similarly, if it is going to attempt to develop, carry out, or ensure the implementation of various programme proposals or laws, then both more time and resources will be needed, along with a more formal approach to procedural issues. In addition, it must have independent sources of resources, funding, and support so that it cannot be controlled by special interests. Over the years some countries have refused to pay their UN dues in an attempt to influence global policy. Such a thing should not be allowed to happen with the world parliament.

One possibility is that people could be registered in order to vote on proposals that are being considered by the world parliament. These people could then be asked to become members of the network of local and regional assemblies and the world parliament and to contribute financially and / or otherwise to the organizational work and activities. However, this could be optional rather than required. The development of the WP might also be funded through donations, foundation grants, contributions from supportive governments or the European Union etc, fundraisers, special events, and establishment of a speaker's bureau, etc. What is clear, however, is that we need to begin to discuss the means for funding a world parliament if we ever hope that it can be successfully established.

Representation and Participation
The issue of representation is one of the most hotly debated topics. A study by Howard Cort of the Global Peoples Assembly Network (GPAN) found around 30 different proposals that have been made regarding how delegates could be selected to represent the peoples of the world. Some suggest that there should be international elections, while others have thought that people should be elected to represent their region of the world. Others think that the delegates should represent, or act as liaisons to, the network of local and regional assemblies.

Some people argue that any more than 600 participants in the world parliament would be unwieldy while others suggest that an assembly of 1000 people would be manageable and would entitle each delegate to represent 6 million people. Other people, however, say: how can one person possibly represent such a large group of people or how can just 1000 people make decisions for the people of the world as a whole.

Perhaps the number of participants or delegates is not as important as it would be to establish the type of a process that ensures open participation, transparency, and a participatory process where everyone can have the opportunity to give input to or influence the decisions made. Rules must be established to ensure that money does not play an undue or predominate role in the election or selection of delegates and that responsible procedures are established for such processes. At the least such rules and regulations should be openly debated, agreed to, and then clearly written down or spelled out for all to see. GPAN suggests that a Credentials Committee should be established to provide accountability and to ensure that proper, or the agreed upon, practices are put in place and carried out.

(following on 2/2 * introductory document of topic 3 * )


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