Introductory document of topic 4
Rob WHEELER, WP21 team
Wednesday, 12 February 2003 14:12:05
Welcome to the fourth month of discussion regarding the development of a World Parliament. We will be discussing its potential competencies, tasks, production of law, and implementation. This month's topic is critically important for the success of the World Parliament because it addresses the actual work of the WP. What it will attempt to accomplish and how it can best do this.
While we know that the values and principles are critical and that we need to bring participatory democracy, social responsibility, and accountability to global governance, it is really the global problems that we, as humanity, face that determines our need for and the value of establishing a WP.
One of the benefits of creating specific commissions, working groups, or the Communities of Ideas would be to clearly identify and define what these critical problems are and what can be done to solve them. While many of the required solutions still need to be agreed on and even more of them implemented, intergovernmental meetings and processes have gone a long way towards looking into the problems and bringing forth potential solutions.
One of the most challenging problems, however, is the reluctance of governments to agree on mechanisms and to commit the necessary funding to implement the programs that are needed at all levels, local to global. Another problem is that those governments that most need to make the changes are also the most reluctant to agree to do so. Thus in terms of disarmament, those countries that have the most weapons are usually the very ones that repeatedly block treaties that would multilaterally reduce their level of armaments.
Governments are also often quite reluctant to deal with the root or fundamental causes of the problems and to design comprehensive solutions for resolving them. Thus, it might seem quite obvious that one of the most fundamental requirements of life is to be able to sustain itself. And yet very few if any countries or regions of the world are planning for full sustainability. We are instead rapidly depleting and polluting the natural environment and harming human health. This then might be one of the principal ideas that could be adopted as a Community of Ideas - Each community, country, and the world as a whole must plan to become fully sustainable in all areas of life.
Thus the bills that a world parliament might pass (or instead educate the public and lobby governments for) could be based on the values and principles agreed to. They could address the root causes of problems and provide the fundamental requirements needed to create the world we want to live in. They should be decided on through open, transparent, and participatory processes. Commitments must be made to fully fund and specifically implement the programs and activities that are agreed on; and means must be established to evaluate and improve both the work of the World Parliament and any of the resolutions, programs, legislation, or policies that it passes.
So, how do we determine which ideas, programs, or bills the WP would address? First, we can suggest that they concern discussions, proposals, and decisions that need to be made at the global level. This could thus include policies that address structural or institutional matters requiring cohesiveness and coherency across sectors or inter - governmentally. In other words how our various institutions are set up and operate or can work together to address global problems. They might concern programs where funding would come from the global commons or where economic situations must be rectified at the global level or scale. Or matters on which the will of the world community must take precedence over the decisions of individual governments for the good of the greater whole.
We, as a world community and as supporters of creating a WP, will have to decide if it should be 1) a place for discussions; 2) where it would pass advisory resolutions; and / or 3) create and implement legislative type bills. In addition, even if it is decided that the WP should create a system of international law; then on some matters it might discuss the situation; on others pass advisory resolutions; and on others develop actual programs, policies, or required behavior that must be instituted. Similarly, while legislation or bills might be passed at the global level; specific means of implementation might be decided at lower levels of the WP and of governmental jurisdictions.
A number of ideas have already been put forward during our discussions for how we can address substantive issues and how the World Parliament would thus operate. This is really the month for us to reintroduce these ideas and to discuss them in depth. If we do agree that the World Parliament should be based on a network of local and regional assemblies, commissions and communities of ideas, some type of a charter or constitutional document, members and voters, and so on, then we will have to determine how these processes can be integrated, will function, and can address global issues as a cohesive whole.
Thus we must determine whether we will develop and agree on proposals to put before the general membership or voters for ratification and approval through: 1) local and regional assemblies and WP meetings as a whole; 2) through Commissions and Communities of Ideas; or 3) some combination of both? 4) any other way of organization, whether combined with the former ones or not, and yet to be proposed. We can also discuss what types of processes could be developed and used to evaluate and choose between competing approaches and initiatives for solving specific problems. And we can consider if and when we might be ready, or it will be time, to pass resolutions and / or actual legislation or bills.
Finally, in terms of the substantive issues, there are quite a number of intergovernmental and civil society processes that have produced a broad range of proposals and initiatives that we can use to build from. The Millennium Declaration <http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm> and the Plans of Action from Global UN Conferences <http://www.un.org/geninfo/bp/worconf.html> provide templates and some initial goals for addressing our global problems. In addition, the Non Governmental Organizations attending these conferences usually come up with much more ambitious and effective proposals which could be reviewed and adopted, including those contained in the Millennium Forum Declaration. See <http://www.rcgg.ufrgs.br/mfd_ing.htm> for English and Portuguese.
Civil Society also holds its own conferences which make proposals and develops initiatives such as the Hague Appeal for Peace and Justice <www.haguepeace.org>; World Social Forum <www.forumsocialmundial.org.br>; Alliance for a Responsible, Plural, and United World <www.alliance21.org>; World Civil Society Forum <www.mandint.org/forum/>; International Council for Social Welfare <www.icsw.org>; Assembly of the UN of the Peoples <www.perlapace.it/assemblea.htm>; State of the World Forum <http://www.worldforum.org/>; Civicus <www.civicus.org>; Social Watch <http://www.socialwatch.org/en/>; Ubuntu <http://ubuntu.upc.es/>; etc. There are also any number of coalitions, and individual organizations, working on specific initiatives such as international debt; disarmament issues; the international criminal court; human rights; environmental issues; global governance; international financial institutions and taxation policies; corporate responsibility; and governmental accountability; etc.
It is imperative that we build on what has already been done, rather than attempt to start all over again. Thus, we can discuss how these various processes, and the specific initiatives and proposals that have already been put forth or developed, can be integrated in with the on-going work of a world parliament. However, we would like to focus the discussion on the way of incorporating these initiatives, rather than on the eventual importance or urgency of implementing some concrete ones among them, on which each one of us could be especially concerned.
Please read the suggestions contained in this month's agenda to consider specific questions which can help to guide our discussions and move us towards better understanding and more common agreement. Please, we want to hear from everyone, both those of you that have not participated very much so far as well as our more regular contributors.
Rob Wheeler WP21
WP21 Alliance Forum on a World Parliament for the 21st Century
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