Following presentation of the document, there is the best and most well reasoned response, that has come to this editor's attention. The reader should note, however, that while the writer of the response recognizes many of the goals and intentions of the proponents of the Charter, he offers no alternatives to achieve those goals, nor any critique of the goals themselves.
A Charter for Global Democracy
Our call for international accountability, justice,
sustainable development and democracy
Dear Representatives to the Millennium Assembly,
This Charter is addressed to you and all the governments and peoples of the world you represent. It is a demand for global democracy.
Throughout the century now coming to an end there have been well meaning and sometimes eloquent calls for world government; calls which pointed to the unfairness, inequality and injustice of the present distributions of wealth, power and policy making - which mean that today one in five of us lives in absolute poverty; calls which emphasised the dangers to peace and even to human survival. If only we could work as one world, then we could solve the world’s problems together.
If only! Sometimes with a sigh, sometimes with contempt, these calls have been dismissed as impractical.
But during the 1990s, demands for international government have taken on a new energy and precision:
The Commission on Global Governance made an unprecedented international effort to draw up a framework for global politics.
The Earth Summit in Rio, Agenda 21, The Earth Charter, the Real World coalition, Earth Action’s Call for a Safer World, Global Coalition World Democracy 2010 and many other declarations are uniting people’s efforts for global democracy and sustainable development.
The Hague Agenda for Peace represents a world-wide coalition committed to replace the causes of war with a culture of peace.
The campaign against landmines successfully changed international law, although much remains to be done.
International conferences at New York, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing and Istanbul have made world issues of gender equality, family and social rights.
Jubilee 2000 has co-ordinated a world-wide campaign to cancel the unpayable debts of the world’s poorest countries.
The International Commission on Rights and Responsibilities made a distinguished and expert attempt to codify Human Duties and Responsibilities.
After fifty years of campaigning, a statute to create an International Criminal Court was adopted at Rome in 1998 to reinforce international criminal law.
The Human Development Report 1999 recommended an agenda for action including a more coherent and more democratic architecture for global governance in the 21st century.
In addition, a growing scholarly literature on all aspects of globalisation has begun to explore how governments can regulate and democratise international affairs.
There are now detailed, practical measures which set out an ambitious agenda for democracy in international decision-making, now increasingly known as ‘global governance’.
We believe that there is a profound and important reason for this historic shift.
It is that in many ways we now have world government.
It is not to be found at the United Nations. Rather, the UN has been sidelined, while the real business of world government is done elsewhere. Global policies are discussed and decided behind closed doors by exclusive groups, such as the G8, OECD, the Bank of International Settlements, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and others. These agencies are reinforced by informal networks of high officials and powerful alliances such as NATO and the European Union. Together they have created what can be seen as dominant and exclusive institutions of world government. All too often they are influenced by transnational corporations which pursue their own world strategies.
These agencies of actual world government must be made accountable. If there are to be global policies, let them be answerable to the peoples of the world.
We call on you, therefore, to start the new century by initiating the process of democratic global governance following three fundamental principles:
openness and accountability
The first aim is to make the already existing processes of world administration and governance accountable. We want to know what decisions are being taken and why. We want the decision takers to know they are answerable to the public in every country which feels the breath of international bodies.
Then we want all decisions to be compatible with public criteria of environmental sustainability.
Finally, if most ambitiously, we want them to be compatible with the principles of human rights and justice, including social and economic justice.
What we want from the Millennium Assembly and Member States is decisive action to put these principles into practice. We do not think they will be easy to achieve. But we believe the difficulties can and must be overcome. We want you to negotiate new global structures which give the world's people an effective role in solving this planet's problems. In our era everyone is linked through our shared environment, trade and communications. We live together as neighbours, and as neighbours we must respect the rights of all persons to address common problems. A joint effort of learning and negotiation, of trial and error, will be needed.
Many vital issues can best be tackled effectively at a global level, such as the environment, biodiversity and climate change; international security and disarmament; international trade, finance and labour rights; epidemics; communications; and international crime.
The first question is where should we start? We believe that the answer has to be at the United Nations. The inadequacy of the UN is well known. All around we see the principles of the UN subverted, sidelined and suppressed. Since the UN Charter was signed, more than 30 million people have been killed in war, most of them unarmed civilians; millions more people have been slaughtered in genocide and ethnic conflict; over 100 million people have fled their homes due to conflict or persecution, with over 20 million remaining as refugees today; permanent members of the Security Council have armed belligerents and engaged in war; governments have invested more in preparing for war than in strengthening peace; human rights have been violated with little redress.
Nevertheless the United Nations as an institution can hardly be blamed for the appalling behaviour of its member states. Without the UN, wars would have been even more frequent; they would have gone on longer; there would have been a greater number of victims, and many more refugees living without hope. The UN is the only arena in which all countries sit side by side. For all its weakness, it retains an unmatched legitimacy in world affairs.
The UN’s founding Charter mandates you to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations (Article 1).
We therefore call on you to create effective mechanisms to hold every agency of actual world government to account. These include international economic alliances, military alliances, and agencies for environmental, financial, social, sporting, or other activity: All should have to answer regularly for what they have done and intend to do, for their impact on the world community and for their adherence to the UN Charter and international law. We want action to start the process now.
The creation of democratic global governance may be complicated. But [it will be achieved, because] the need for it is simple and urgent. Global problems will only get worse if international decision-making is left in the hands of the present undemocratic, exclusive institutions. Therefore we will press for action and to call on public support around the world.
World-wide campaigns have led to the end of apartheid in South Africa, to the Statute for an International Criminal Court, to the ban on landmines and some debt-reduction for the world’s poorest countries. The time has come to make democratic reform of international affairs our priority, both as an end in itself and as a means of solving many serious social and economic problems.
Many reforms are needed. The following 12 points are a summary of the many demands and proposals being made across the world for better international governance.
Strengthen democratic accountability and participation in international decision-making:
2. Create within the UN system an accountable, equitable and effective mechanism to monitor, supervise and regulate transnational corporations and financial institutions; and require transnational companies to adhere to an international code of conduct covering agreed principles concerning human rights, the environment and core labour standards.
3. Give UN institutions an additional and independent source of revenue such as taxation of foreign exchange transactions, aircraft and shipping fuels, arms sales and licensing use of the global commons.
Maintain international peace and security:
5. Establish a permanent, directly recruited UN Rapid Reaction Force to hold the peace in a crisis, police gross violations of human rights and support multilateral defence against aggression and genocide;
6. Make the UN register of arms mandatory; ratify and implement the Landmine Ban Treaty; outlaw all weapons of mass destruction; initiate programmes to control the arms trade, convert the arms industry to peaceful production and cut military spending world wide; strengthen accountability to the UN of all international military action; and reduce the size of national armies as part of a multilateral global security system.
Uphold fundamental human rights:
Strengthen justice under international law:
Promote social progress and better standards of life:
10. Establish an International Environmental Court to enforce international treaties on the environment and protect the global commons.
11. Declare climate change to be an essential global security interest and establish a high-level international urgent action team to assist the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change to set a scientifically based global ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions, to allocate national shares of permissible emissions based on convergence to equal per capita rights, and to work with governments, companies, international agencies and NGOs to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to a sustainable level.
12. Make poverty reduction a global priority: secure universal access to safe drinking water, health care, housing, education, family planning, gender equality, sustainable development and economic opportunities, and strengthen the capacity of development agencies to eliminate malnutrition, preventable diseases and absolute poverty through conservation and equitable sharing of global resources. Cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest nations and institute measures to prevent severe debt burdens from ever building up again.
[In addition to the above, after a nuclear war, it will be necessary to add:
To support the Charter, please send your name, title or trade, address and a donation
Using the Charter
The Charter aims to build public support and political will to create a democratic and inclusive system of international decision-making by
setting out key principles and priorities for transforming global governance ;
urging national parliaments, town councils, state and regional bodies, trade unions, women’s groups, political parties, churches, companies, other organisations and individuals to debate these issues and develop the ideas set out in the Charter;
encouraging people to discuss, study, publicise and lobby round the key principles;
getting individuals, organisations and representative bodies to sign the Charter
presenting the Charter to the Millennium Assembly of the UN in September 2000 and to member governments