Parlement Mondial pour le 21e Siècle

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Summary No. 5 (November 25 - December 8, 2002)

Arnaud BLIN
WP21 team


2nd topic on the architecture of global governance. Simultaneous policies and transnational embassies : are we ready for them? How would a WP have an impact in shaping the architecture of global governance and with what means could it function? City-states as the future foundation of democracy. Initial debate on the WP and the U.N. The architecture of global governance as responsibility, solidarity, pluralism. World governance as a computer. The tree of palaver continued.

This is the first summary for the 2nd topic of the forum : the architecture of global governance. It will include the messages for the first two weeks of the topic.

After a discussion on the values, purpose and principles of a World Parliament, we now move on to a discussion on the architecture of global governance. In general, the debate was very animated, with several lively, but always civil, exchanges. Following in the footsteps of the first discussion, the exchange revolved around two distinct approaches. Some participants preferred to argue along the lines of what a new global governance architecture * should * look like while others insisted on looking at what it actually * could * look like, both approaches seemingly complementing one another with some overlap in the middle and some inevitable disagreements.

Simultaneous policies and transnational embassies

A large part of the exchange focused on the idea of * simultaneous policies * (or Simpol) and * transnational embassies * that a participant introduced in the discussion.

Simultaneous policies result from a change of attitude on the part of international actors who decide to switch from a regime of international competition to a regime of global cooperation. This concept is founded on the principle the international community has come to a consensus that one should promote a balanced existence and a harmonious humanity. The idea behind this is that a state will not commit to such things on its own but that a community of states will. Simultaneous policies should be understood mainly as a tool for negotiation.

Transnational embassies comes back to the idea of world citizenship (ci-terrestrial) introduced earlier. These embassies would function as a network that would facilitate and develop global communications. The ambassadors would represent continents rather than countries and would act as * technical mediators at the service of humankind. *

How feasible would the creation of these institutions be? For some participants, the establishment of simultaneous policies and transnational embassies would require something that does not exist, at least not yet : individuals capable or performing these tasks. Arguing along those lines, one contributor suggested that "It would be necessary to have a basis of free beings, free from all prejudices related to cultural roots and networks of adherence, without any personal nor emotional engagements." A daunting task at the local level, let alone at the global one.

Even without arguing about the current readiness of the world to attempt such policies, some contributors thought that it would already be difficult to come to a general agreement regarding the nature of simultaneous policies. But there were more optimistic voices arguing that a World Parliament might just be the right type of institution that could help simultaneous policies be defined and implemented, in cooperation with other key actors of the current architecture of global governance.

How? With what means?

The feasibility of these ideas brings us to another aspect of the discussion that will occupy us not only for the duration of this particular topic but throughout the forum : how (would a WP have an impact in shaping the architecture of global governance) and with what means would it function? On this issue, there were more questions raised at this point than answers. There were basic questions such as who might pay the transnational ambassadors or what means a WP might have (or not) to influence governments to better spend their money. A list of the costs of various policies (posted on the forum) conveniently showed how easy it would be for certain governments to resolve some of today's current problems if these governments chose for example to invest a little less on defense. How one might influence governments to do this is another problem, and it is one of the main problems that a WP might have to resolve. One participant put the question in these terms : what means of deterrence would a WP have to mobilize in mass ci-terrestrials so that they exercise real democratic pressure and get the partial disarmament of their nation-states? Without going this far, how would we insure that the funds would actually reach their legitimate recipients?


Everyone who has read a little Greek philosophy knows that the original model for democracy is the city-state. In fact, until the 18th century common wisdom had it that only city-states could function democratically. One participant suggested that we take a closer look at cities as a foundation for a more democratic global governance today. "Cities are natural and voluntary concentrations of people in organized communities with local systems of organized self-government," she says, " and many of them have their own periodic People's Assemblies or * town meeting * type of events. They are also clearly definable by geographical boundary and size of population. As a result, they are not inherently competitive or militant, as are nation states with their artificial, disputed boundaries." She adds that one could envision a system of * global cities * which would convene every couple of years for an event open and available to citizens within their radius of up to six million people, including adjacent towns, villages and farms. With more cities getting involved, delegates would gradually come from all parts of the globe.

Representation, within the context of city-states or in general terms, is one of the problems that several participants see as fundamental in the creation of a WP. One contributor summarized this concern : "How to assure that this new world parliament - in full gestation - is not going to repeat the same errors made by the States if the representation of the poorest citizens in the world is small, i.e. absolutely absent?"

World Parliament and U.N.

One of the questions raised in the agenda concerns the relationship between a WP and the United Nations. Basically, should a WP replace the U.N., should it complement it, should it act to reform it? One contributor launched this discussion by saying that the WP should not try to replace the General Assembly of the U.N. but rather should try to cooperate with it and act as a strong pressure group of the civil society that forces the UN to work in a more democratic way and to have more force and more competences. No doubt more will be said on this topic in the future.

Foundations of global governance

We will end this week's summary with a couple of comments on the general foundations of a global architecture. One participant described succinctly the architecture of global governance as being built on responsibility, solidarity, plurality: " It must be responsible for the avoidance of misery and inequalities, must be united in the invention of other ways of development, plural by taking account of the cultures of men and women for building global policies." Someone else imagined the world system as a "huge personal computer that calls for us to change together the operating software rather than the system itself."

In order to invite each and every one of us to continue this discussion, I will end again on the metaphor of the WP as a tree of palaver that many of us really appreciated, including one participant who suggests that we focus on the essential questions of the WP :

1. What kind of tree?
2. where is it planted?
3. how does it grow? how can we make it grow fast enough to solve our huge problem and harmoniously at the same time?
4. who sits there since not all the people of the world can at the same time?
5. what happens with the decisions taken under the tree ?
6. how do we make those decisions stick, have impact?
Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer © 2003