World Parliament for the 21st Century

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Monthly Summary No. 1 (October 21-27, 2002)
Overview of Participants

Arnaud BLIN
WP21 team

Nature and purpose of the syntheses

This will be the first synthesis of the Forum on a World Parliament for the 21st century. These syntheses will appear on a weekly basis, except during the "coffee breaks," and will be complemented by a monthly synthesis that will summarize each individual topic. The syntheses will be written in English and translated into Spanish and French. The weekly texts will be approximately 1,000 words long and the monthly ones a bit longer, up to 2000 words. All will include a short abstract for those with little time. In general, all syntheses will be written by the undersigned. The primary purpose of these syntheses is to enable everyone to get a glimpse of what is going on in the forum discussion without reading all the messages. They also serve to organize the individual contributions of the participants into a manageable document that can serve as a reminder of things past as the forum moves along.

A large part of a synthesis is devoted to summarize the contributions. However, due to space constraints, the summaries will more likely be thematic. Reference to specific texts will be made, but there will be no mention of individual names. I will try to be as objective as possible in rendering a complete overview of what has been said in a given week or month. Nevertheless, with the high number of contributions expected, choices will have to be made as to what goes in, and what is left out. These choices will be my own and are not devoid of any subjectivity. Knowing this, I will accept and encourage any constructive feedback on the matter from the participants. In as much as this is possible, I will try to leave my own opinions at the door and, should I forget, I am confident that the other moderators will remind me to do so.

This first week's synthesis will be a bit different, similar to that first class of the semester where everyone introduces himself or herself before being cut loose early. Thus, I will simply give a brief overview of the participants who have already joined the forum and leave it at that for now. Next week should be our first foray into the heart of the discussion topics at hand.

Overview of participants

About 185 people have already signed up to the forum and twenty-five have introduced themselves. I will focus here on the latter group. With only a couple of women, this first list is far from respecting the goal of achieving gender parity. A majority of people wrote in English, even though they come from a wide variety of countries. Several regions seem well represented, including North and South America and Europe. There were also messages from Central America and the Caribbean, and from North and West Africa. Hopefully, the future will see participation from Asia and the Middle East. If the long list is any indication, these hopes should be met shortly.

As might have been expected considering the list of invitees, several participants are already familiar with the issue of a World Parliament and some have been active in promoting it. Several participants are active within a grass roots organization and one individual has been working with the Esperanto movement. Among the organizations mentioned in the introductions are the Charter Committee of the Global Peoples' Assembly Network, the World Forum of Fishermen and Workers of the Fishing Industry, the World Federalist Association, the Committee on Democratization of Informatics, the International Institute for a Sustainable Future, and the Seattle Local Peoples assembly. Thus we see a mixture of participants who have long been interested in global governance and others who are new to the idea.

Professional backgrounds are quite diverse, especially since a few people have been engaged in several career paths. Participants' situations range from being active retirees to active graduate students. There seems to be a great number of scientists among the participants, as opposed to, say, social scientists. While it may seem that our topic of concern might be closer to the interests of social scientists, it has been my experience that issues regarding peace or governance tend to attract "hard" scientists in greater numbers than social scientists. This is a simple observation for which I have no clear explanation. In any case, alongside people with backgrounds in medicine, agronomy, and engineering are people working in ethnology, urban planning, public relations, research, law and academia. This diversity, already quite impressive at this early stage, should generate an interesting and lively debate.

In a way, the debate has already begun. Through the introductions, we already get a glimpse of the views displayed in regard to the idea of a world parliament. While some are quite focused on how a world parliament can advance a political agenda, others see it as a place to discuss and search for a new society. Still others are more interested in spiritual and philosophical questions and in building a sense of global community.
Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer © 2003