by Chris Hamer
Allow me to recall the rationale behind the newly formed Coalition for a World Community of Democratic Nations. We are all agreed on the need for a world government or global parliament. We differ, however, on the great question of how to get there. The DWF website shows four possible routes to this goal, namely: a global constitutional convention, a reform of the UN Charter, uniting the democracies, and the regional route. Since nobody can predict the future with certainty, I believe we should all support each other in our explorations along all of these routes. My position is that the uniting the democracies approach offers the best method of getting to our objective.
World federalists have always concentrated most of their efforts on the most obvious route, namely reform of the UN, which is the central body of global governance at present. But in this effort we have up until now met with an immovable roadblock, in the form of the UN Charter. It is as hard to amend as a national constitution, or even harder. No significant amendment has ever been made, and no Charter Review Conference has even been called. After seventy years of fruitless effort, the world federalist movement has rather lost heart, and lowered its sights to objectives that do not require a change in the Charter. There we have had notable successes, in the Coalitions for the International Criminal Court, and for the Responsibility to Protect. But that does not solve the original problem.
Meanwhile, I believe the Europeans have shown us the way. In a step by step, evolutionary fashion they have gone from the original European Coal and Steel Community, to the European Economic Community, to the present European Union. They started with a smaller group of “progressive” states, and by means of successive treaties (Paris, Rome, Maastricht, etc.) they evolved to the present union of 28 nation-states. The EU is going through serious difficulties at present, but the major objective is already achieved: there will never again be a war between France and Germany.
How can we reproduce that success in the global arena? I would argue that the uniting the democracies route offers the best chance. Start with a smaller association of progressive states, and build from there in a stage by stage, evolutionary fashion, by means of successive international treaties as the members see fit, until we arrive at our eventual goal. The initial members should be democracies, because democracy must be a fundamental principle of any global parliament, to guard against tyranny and guarantee equal rights for all. The association should be open to new members, provided they satisfy suitable criteria such as democracy, so that over time it will grow to become universal.
The first step would seem to be the formation of a community on the European model, and hence we are led to propose a World Community of Democratic Nations (the pithier name Community of Democracies is already taken, unfortunately). I hope that most in our movement would see the logic in the argument so far. To help bring such a community into being, we are trying to form a Coalition of NGOs, following the successful tactical precedent set by WFM-IGP.
Now we come to what is likely to be a much more contentious issue, namely, what should be the basis or purpose of such a community? Ideally, it should be economic, and have a strong impact on the daily life of the community in order to attract new members, following the European model. But there seems little call at present for a community based on free trade, like the EEC. The world has been pursuing free trade agreements ever since World War II, and the last Doha Round ended in failure. At present, the nations are mostly pursuing bilateral rather than multilateral agreements. If anyone can think of a convincing case for an economic community, please let me know.
In my opinion, there is a much more obvious need for a community based on common security, a world security community of democracies. The US tried for a time recently to act as ‘global policeman’ on its own, and has had its fingers severely burnt in most cases. It led interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria which cost huge amounts of money and left chaos behind them, as witness the present maelstrom in the Middle East. It is now widely recognized, I think, that the US needs to work much more closely with its democratic friends and allies. Hence the formation of a security community made up of the democracies would be a natural next step. Such a community would provide a virtually unchallengeable guarantee of security for its members, and could also provide a strong right arm for the United Nations in security and peacekeeping missions in the wider world. Further discussion of this option can be found on the website.
Our next steps should be to see if we can recruit more NGOs to the cause, and also to think about trying to find any sort of financial backing.
NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.