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Charter for Global Democracy
Submitted by admin on 1 December, 1999 - 04:50
Dr Doug N Everingham
CHARTER FOR GLOBAL DEMOCRACY
Former Australian federal minister and Humanist Dr. Doug N. Everingham (197S Vice-President WHO Assembly) writes on Chaffer 99 - A Charter for Global Democracy, of which he is a cosignatory. Its supporters from 60 countries include Stop the MAI Movement, the World Development Movement, Prof. Noam Chomsky, Prof. Anthony Giddens (Director, London School of Economics), Lord Frank Judd (former director of Oxfam; participant in the IHEUs Stockholm Seminar on 'Search for Global Ethics') and Sir Shridath Ramphal, (Commission for Global Governance).
Charter 99 is addressed to the UN Millennium Assembly, and all the governments of the world. It demands global governance based on the three principles of openness and accountability; environmental sustainability, and justice.
"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 ...we want global governance to be compatible with the principles of equality, human rights and justice, including social and economic justice".
Tycoons and power brokers run the world under banners of economic growth and progress. The border-less earth seen by astronauts has no community-elected law makers, no compulsory judging or mediation, no enforceable revenue source, no penal, rehabilitative or incentive system other than superpower-sponsored trade bans or war.
The United Nations Charter proclaims high-sounding principles, but in Article 2 and elsewhere it lets sovereign nations use force that they claim is for defence. The UN, including its relief agencies, spends less than a cent for each dollar spent on war industries. A directly elected UN may be more humane than its member governments that put 'overriding vital national interests' first at the outdated UN.
Protest is stirring. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, has inspired a growing cooperation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to meet in May 2000, a Civil Forum under UN auspices. One resulting action lobby is drafting Charter 99 - A Charter for Global Democracy. The Charter points out:
"...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 polities are discussed and derided behind dosed doors by exclusive groups, such as the GS, 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. 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 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. We also want the UN to ensure that its core mandate, 'to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war', applies equally to all the peoples of this world.
"Finally, if most ambitiously, we want global governance to be compatible with the principles of equality, human rights and justice, including social and economic justice".
In the recent past, world-wide campaigns have led to the end of apartheid in South Africa. The World Commission on Global Governance, the World Commission on Rights and Responsibilities, the Jubilee 2000 Coalition's work to ease Third World debt, the Earth Charter, the Real World coalition, Earth Action's Call for a Safer World, and many other movements laid the ground for moving toward a just democratic world order. After fifty years of campaigning, a statute for 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 more democratic architecture for global governance in the 21st century...Therefore a new global campaign can start with a fair amount of optimism.
"The first question is where should we start? We believe that the answer has to be at the United Nations. 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.
"We therefore call on you to start now, to create effective mechanisms to hold every agency of actual world government to account - economic and military alliances, 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 others and for their adherence to international law. Global problems get worse while international decision-making is left in the hands of undemocratic exclusive institutions".
Charter 99 identifies twelve areas for urgent action
Strengthen democratic governance- accountability and participation:
- Give the UN General Assembly powers to scrutinise the work of UN agencies and other agencies of global governance; create an annual Forum of Civil Society; open international institutions to increased participation by civil society and elected representatives from member countries; bring the WTO into the UN system and strengthen cooperation between all international groupings under the UN system.
- 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.
- 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:
- Reform the UN Security Council to open all decision-making to public scrutiny; phase out the single country veto and permanent membership; establish equitable representation from each region of the world; set up a high level early warning system; and provide effective authority to mediate and intervene in disputes at an early stage, within national boundaries where necessary.
- 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;
- 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 human rights:
- Strengthen world citizenship based on compliance with and respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international instruments on Human Rights, including the six core treaties on economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights; racial discrimination; discrimination against women; childrens rights; torture; and the conventions on genocide, refugees and labour standards.
Strengthen justice under international law:
- Ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court; accept compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Committee; increase the Courts powers of enforcement; open the ICJ to individual petition and protect the judicial independence of the ICC.
Promote social progress and better standards of life:
- Establish a strong UN institution for Economic and Environmental security to promote international prosperity, protect the global commons and secure sustainable development.
- Establish an International Environmental Court to enforce international treaties on the environment and protect the global commons.
- 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".
Charter 99 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; urging parliaments, regional bodies, groups, parties, churches, companies and individuals to debate, discuss, study, publicise, lobby, sign and develop the Charter;, presenting the Charter to the Millennium Assembly of the UN in September 2000 and to member governments.
Another NGOs group, the Millennium People's Assembly Network shares most of the Charter 99 principles. Some member groups go further, for example: accumulating endorsement by groups - now representing some four million in memberships - for a detailed world federal constitution including an elective People's Assembly to have governmental powers alongside the UN General Assembly which is a House of Nations.
Such a structure might be just one more (and stronger) elective dictatorship, if left to today's de facto world 'government'. Openness and mass media access are needed to ensure that choice of international judges and revenue managers is not left to existing powerful influences.
As Lakeman documents in How Democracies Vote, people can sometimes defuse festering civil strife by adopting proportional representation. Some nations achieve similar harmony with agreed proportions of representation for specified cultural sections of the community: South Africa, Fiji, New Zealand etc. Other crying needs are fairer tax systems, subsidiarity (local government administering locally for national governments), and citizen initiated referendums: all systems thriving in Switzerland. Legal reform of democracies and industries might make them more participatory, and thus able to by-pass much of the illegitimate influence on governments, the current undemocratic world governance and well-founded fears of a global federation.