Rebecca Shoot heads the Citizens for Global Solutions in the US. Andreas Bummel heads Democracy Beyond Borders, and Alexandre MacIsaac heads World Federalist Movement – Canada. We discuss ongoing steps toward holding nations and their leaders accountable for adherence to international law (especially against aggression) and ideas for developing a democratic World Parliament. For the video, audio podcast, transcript, summary, and public comments: https://tosavetheworld.ca/episode-563-next-global-governance/
parliamentary assembly, people, government, world, International Criminal Court, countries, democracy, citizens, Ukraine, global, states, crimes, parliament, ICC, aggression, assembly, power, movement, Rome statute, United Nations
Metta Spencer, Andreas Bummel, Rebecca A. Shoot, Alex MacIsaac
Metta Spencer hosted Rebecca Shoot the Executive Director of Citizens for Global Solutions –(CGS), Alexandre MacIsaac, Executive Director of World Federalist Movement – Canada, and Andreas Bummel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Democracy without Borders. The panel discussed the need to improve global governance and establish a World Preliminary Assembly attached to the United Nations.
Rebecca introduced CGS, as the U.S.-based organization of the World Federalist Movement, aiming to build coalitions and promote democratic world federation, international law, peace, and justice. CGS’s priorities include safeguarding human rights, strengthening the United Nations (UN), proposing global institutions, supporting disarmament, and advocating for environmental protection.
Andreas discussed Democracy without Borders’ focus on developing global democracy, with the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) as a central goal. This initiative aims to enhance democratic representation and accountability within the UN.
The trio discussed the issue of enforcing international law, particularly in cases of aggression. The discussion revolved around the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its jurisdiction over crimes of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Rebecca explained the ongoing cases related to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the establishment of the International Center for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine, a judicial hub formed by several European Union (EU) countries and the U.S. to prosecute crimes committed during the conflict.
The complexity of enforcing international law on world leaders, such as President Vladimir Putin was highlighted. Putin may face arrest warrants in ICC member states for alleged crimes, yet this has raised questions about state obligations and responsibilities for the subsequent arrest.
It is necessary to have greater international cooperation, improved global governance, and the establishment of a World Parliamentary Assembly to address global challenges in an effective manner. The limitations of the current UN General Assembly, which is composed of representatives of countries’ governments and lacks direct democratic legitimacy.
Andreas explained that a World Parliamentary Assembly should be elected by the global population and have legislative powers. He acknowledges that achieving this “vision” will take time and suggests starting with a pragmatic approach. Initially, this could be based on national parliaments selecting representatives to ensure a more inclusive representation, including opposition voices.
There is a need for the Constitutional Court to review global legislation and ensure checks and balances in a global democracy. The possibility of expanding the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was discussed, given its role in advisory opinions and potential policy impact.
Rebecca provided examples of advancements in electoral systems and diaspora voting, highlighting the potential for direct elections for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. She pointed out that electoral technologies and people-powered movements can enhance global participation in such elections.
All participants stressed the importance of democratic representation and cooperation in global governance to address global challenges effectively. Although a World Parliamentary Assembly may take time to materialize, they advocate for starting the process with pragmatic steps toward increased global democracy and inclusivity.
Metta Spencer proposed a “far-out” idea of creating a UNPA through a citizens’ assembly that uses sortition (random selection) instead of elections to represent the global population. Participants expressed concerns about the effectiveness and legitimacy of such a system, arguing that expertise and deliberative decision-making are essential for critical global issues.
Andreas pointed out that while self-organized movements can be valuable for raising awareness and mobilization, they might not have the power to address the root causes of the current international system. There is a need to hold governments accountable and understand the challenges of implementing a citizens’ assembly in autocratic regimes.
Rebecca shared examples of deliberative democracy, such as citizens’ assemblies, used for specific functions in Iceland and Ireland. She also emphasized the importance of expertise and evidence-based policymaking for critical global solutions. She suggested exploring complementarity between different models to distinguish the roles of representatives and parliamentarians.
Alex MacIsaac acknowledged the potential complementary functions of a citizens’ assembly, such as agenda setting for UNPA, but stressed the need to address the democratic legitimacy issue within the UN system. He noted the financial challenges of implementing this system but emphasizes that a larger UN budget could be accessed with minimal taxation.
In summary, the discussion revolved around the complexities and challenges of creating a UNPA and the potential benefits and drawbacks of various approaches. Despite some skepticism, the participants agree on the importance of addressing democratic legitimacy and finding ways to empower citizens’ voices in global decision-making.
The following transcript has been machine-generated using “otter.ai.” Prior to using information from the transcript, please watch the video to catch any obvious errors.
Metta Spencer 00:00
Hi, I’m Metta Spencer, it’s time now for us to give some thought to fixing the world, the world order that we thought we had a few years ago, which wasn’t much, it’s pretty well shattered now because of this war in Ukraine. And we have to think about how to put the pieces back together again, and maybe in a better combination than we had. So today, we’re going to talk with some people who give a lot of thought to what we need to do to make the world governance more successful, and will security and more, more democracy for human population. And it’s going to be a treat for me to talk with these people who are all centered around world federalism, but not always using the same titles. So let me introduce my three guests. Rebecca Shoot is the executive director of a Citizens for global solution in Washington, DC, she’s new on the job. And she’s got a sound background and a number of other organizations that are doing related issues about global governance. And I think her organization used to be called something about the world Federalist, but now it’s called Citizens for global solutions. And Alexandre McIsaac is in Ottawa. And Alexandre is the executive director now of the world Federalist movement, Canada, and in Germany is Andreas Bummel, who is the co-founder and executive director of Democracy without Borders. And I think we all share one particular focus. And that is our, our belief that one of the very important things that we need is for the United Nations to have a new house and an additional body attached to it called the world Parliamentary Assembly. And, I think we all agree on that. And then there are a number of other things that we probably agree on as well. I would like to if, with your permission, ask, first of all, for Rebecca, to give us a short list of the improvements or renovations that her organization promotes, because we do not have time to talk about them all. But I think we, we ought to have a list of some of the things that people are concerned about in terms of ways of improving global governance. And and so then at we have, we have a list, I think I’ll pick a couple of them that we want to talk about. And certainly one of them, probably the main thing that we want to discuss will be the notion of a Parliamentary Assembly. So Rebecca, give us a little rundown if you will, about your organization’s list of your wish list.
Rebecca A. Shoot 03:10
Thank you so much, Metta. It’s a pleasure to be here and a pleasure to join Andreas and Alex, my colleagues within the world Federalist movement. As you mentioned, CGS citizens for Global Solutions is the US-based member organization of the world Federalist movement. In fact, we are where I think the world Federalist movement got its start. And it is a venerable organization and more than 75 years, were nongovernmental, nonprofit and nonpartisan. We do three main things. The first is coalition building, and that involves individual memberships and chapters across the United States, where we try to win hearts and minds to the cause of democratic world federation, a world predicated on the rule of law, democratic values, and above all, peace and justice. We also engage in advocacy campaigns, and I’ll come back to this in a moment and conduct discrete programming based on outreach and education. So I think our conversation today is situated in the realm of our advocacy work in terms of how we group our priorities at CGS. While the different topics that we handle are intersectional and very much related. I’ll group them in five main areas. The first is safeguarding human rights and upholding international law. CGS and its predecessors were instrumental in the founding of the International Criminal Court as members of the coalition for the ICC. And I’ll come back to the some of the ways in which this is a relevant topic today. You mentioned aggression at the outset. Secondly, we believe fervently in strengthening the United Nations. This includes proposals such as those we’ll discuss later that Andres promulgates on the UN Parliamentary Assembly. We also support a number of other initiatives such as the one for 7 billion campaign The Coalition for the UN we need the creation of your permanent United Nations emergency peace force or peace service, all of which would lend to the efficacy and effectiveness of the United Nations. We also encourage dialogue around new global institutions and mechanisms. These could include a World Court for Human Rights, for instance, which does not currently exist, or a world citizens ship initiative world constitution. Fourthly, we promote disarmament and peace through a number of different initiatives to promote nuclear Non Proliferation and disarmament. And we support arresting environmental degradation and climate justice. So apologies for the litany. I know, we don’t have time to drill down to every and to each of those, but I look forward to taking a deeper dive in at least a couple of the initiatives we support.
Metta Spencer 05:51
Thank you. Okay.Andreas, I think your focus is more single-minded, isn’t it? My impression, is that the most the key issue that democracy without borders promotes? Is this the world Parliamentary Assembly, is that right?
Andreas Bummel 06:12
Um, yeah, well, that says this is correct. But it’s embedded into a broader vision of developing global democracy. But it’s, it’s right that the promotion of UN Parliamentary Assembly is a key part of this.
Metta Spencer 06:29
Okay, well, we’re certainly going to spend a lot of time on that today. Alexander. Hello, I haven’t even greeted you. How’s everything in Ottawa today?
Alex MacIsaac 06:38
Thanks. Fantastic. Thanks, Metta.
Metta Spencer 06:41
Okay, so you are on top of these issues, you put us all together and introduced us. So I expect you have some thoughts that you will feel free to share as we go along. If if, if you don’t mind, when we were getting ready. Rebecca came a little early, and we chatted a bit. And uh, one of the things she mentioned was something that I’d heard about, but know almost nothing about. So if we can take a second and talk about the question of the enforcement of international law, especially the international law against aggression, because of course, we’re right now one of the big, the issues that we’re facing is, they’re in the middle of almost a global war. It is between the, you know, Ukraine and Russia, and we hope it doesn’t become a really global war, nuclear, etc. But it’s clear that there is a law against aggression, it is obvious that Russia violated that law by attacking Ukraine, and and that the International Court of Justice issued a statement that they should stop immediately, and not move another muscle until they, until the world would had time to consider the situation more deeply. And of course, we knew that nothing would have such an effect on Putin. And it has not that he ignored it completely. Which is exactly the problem. We, if somebody is breaking into my apartment, I will call the police. And they might even get here before the guy gets in. So we can get an immediate relief from an aggression in ordinary policing. But there’s nothing equivalent to that in international law, there is no way of stopping somebody while they’re in the middle of the act of aggressing. And in fact, I expect there’ll be another 10-15 years before anybody can, at best haul Putin to a World Court. So that, you know, there’s no protection. So as I understand it, Rebecca, there’s going to be some kind of tribunal in this case. And it’s not going to solve the problem. But we’ll be it tell us a little about what is planned along those lines, because I heard about it. But that’s all I know.
Rebecca A. Shoot 09:13
I’m sure if I may expand a little bit on a different pathways, potential pathways to accountability, and an end to impunity for the ongoing crimes of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity that are being committed by the Russian Federation. I’ll take the opportunity actually to start my remarks with the fact that this is the 25th anniversary of the Rome Statute week. On Monday, the International Day of justice, I joined principles of the International Criminal Court activists, legal scholars, many of whom participated in the foundational treaty negotiations in Rome 25 years ago at the United Nations and it was an incredibly profound moment and never has the resonance of the International Criminal Court, I think been felt more more deeply or more broadly by the international community, as we confront the unprecedented crimes being committed by the Russian Federation. So there are four primary pathways that are potential to pursue justice for various crimes being being allegedly committed by the Russian Federation. I’ll start with the International Criminal Court itself. So the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for President Vladimir Putin and one of his deputies for very specific crimes, two crimes, the forcible transfer and deportation of children which are classified as war crimes. Under Article eight of the Rome Statute. The international criminal court has jurisdiction over personal criminal liability, so not a state itself, but individual criminal responsibility is what it considers. And these two crimes in the opinion of the Office of the Prosecutor based on a preliminary examination, are the current pathways to pursue justice. They’re not necessarily the only pathways that the International Criminal Court will pursue. But those are the ones for which there is a current and ongoing arrest warrant. I will note that the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in the situation in Ukraine. There are four areas of crimes over which the ICC has jurisdiction, the crime of aggression is one of them, which came into effect with the Kampala amendments in 2010. To date on the 61 states have ratified the Kampala amendments. The Ukraine is not a party to the Rome Statute, but has expressly accepted extraordinary jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes and genocide, but has not done so over the crime of aggression. So that is not a pathway at the ICC. Now, secondly, and before I get to I think the main point of the thrust of your, your question, there is an ongoing case before the International Court of Justice regarding a potential violation of the Genocide Convention. So on February 28 2022, Ukraine initiated proceedings at the ICJ and 32 states have made interventions in support of the the allegations that genocide has been committed in occupied territories within the Ukrainian sovereign state. This case will hinge on a strict interpretation of the crime of genocide under international law. Now, thirdly, and this is linked to the fourth, which is domestic pathway pathways to justice. The special tribunal that we, that you mentioned at the outset, is a very unique hybrid entity that just came into being this month, July 2023. So the International Center for the crime of aggression against Ukraine is the formal title. It’s housed under Euro just and includes prosecutors pulled from the International Criminal Court, from Ukrainian domestic courts, from EU countries. And very importantly, for my constituencies, the United States. The United States is infamously perhaps not a supporter of international justice institutions, including the ICC, but has pledged resources, and monetary resources, financial resources, as well as cooperation and investigation, and through our prosecutors and legal professionals. And so this center will be a hub for ongoing prosecutions throughout multiple EU countries and Ukraine itself, that are pursuing different prosecutions against Russian Federation for crimes of aggression that are rendered in their own domestic jurisdictions, as well as crimes of genocide, crimes against crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Metta Spencer 14:28
How will that happen? Is there actually going to be some sort of something that looks like a court. Will there be people who will be serving as prosecutors? What’s what’s going to happen? What will we see when this is going on? This tribunal…
Rebecca A. Shoot 14:47
So currently, it is organized as a judicial hub? There were five founding members, the three Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Romania, all of which had ongoing investigations that formed a joint investigation team. Subsequent to their initial startup phase, the United States joined the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC joined and all committed through a memorandum of understanding to sharing information with one another cooperating on prosecutions. It’s funded by the European Commission and the United States and other states give “in kind “support. So there is it’s toward a common prosecutor prosecutorial strategy, and has within itself the capability of supporting judicial interventions, either at the domestic level in the contributing states, or potentially through the hybrid tribunal that Ukraine itself supports in lieu of the crime of aggression at the ICC.
Metta Spencer 16:03
Okay, so there may be, you’re not gonna get it capture the guy. I understand there’s some talk of that he wants to visit South Africa. And if he goes, the South Africans legally are obliged to arrest him. And so they’re trying to find a way out of having to do that. Am I mistaken? If that’s not because of this tribunal? That’s because he’s under a indictment, I suppose. Is that the word for it? I think I see ICC or the ICJ
Rebecca A. Shoot 16:35
ICC, the International Criminal Court, South Africa is one of 123 States Parties to the International Criminal Court. And that means it’s obliged to arrest any suspect that has an arrest warrant, hanging over their head as Putin does. And Putin has intimated that he may explore attending BRIC summit events in South Africa. This is not the first time this has been raised in the context of the ICC. Omar Al Bashir, when he was still in power in Sudan, had an arrest warrant, and there were numerous instances of him visiting states parties and non states parties, including South Africa, who failed to arrest him during, during the period for which he was at large and a suspect. And this actually occasioned both within the International Criminal Court a number of requests for review of heads of states immunities, and whether or not I guess the the parameters of state responsibility to arrest suspects, as well as in South Africa, triggering a fairly substantive constitutional and legislative series of actions that resulted in a domestic, an overwhelming domestic decision on consensus that South Africa had failed in its duty to arrest Omar Al Bashir, when he visited.
Metta Spencer 18:05
It was a domestic consensus by whom?
Rebecca A. Shoot 18:10
in this case, I’m speaking of South Africa because Omar Al Bashir…
Metta Spencer 18:15
The government or the you know, the people who take a referendum? , what are they meant to do? Consensus,
Rebecca A. Shoot 18:21
Parliament and the Constitutional Court determined that the executive had failed in its duty to arrest Omar Al Bashir. And around this time, there was a lot of talk about whether or not South Africa would withdraw from the International Criminal Court. That did not happen. But suffice it to say, it is clear within the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Court, but it’s also very clear in South Africa, that there is a an obligation to arrest Vladimir Putin if he sets foot on, on their soil.
Metta Spencer 18:52
And is there really any real penalty? If if if he comes and goes and everybody’s smiley while he’s around? Is there gonna be any any repercussion?
Rebecca A. Shoot 19:06
There is no enforcement mechanism for for the ICC. There’s no method of sensor other than a statement other than at the level of verbiage and rhetoric. And this is one of the major limitations of the court. But at the same time, I think we need to recognize exactly how extraordinary it is that we’re at this moment. 25 years ago, it seemed chimerical, it seemed like jousting at windmills, to think that you would have a court that was able to bring to justice the most serious offenders. Of course, we rely it relies on state cooperation. When I say we I’m also the CO convener of the Washington working group for the ICC and my organization, CGS is deeply committed to the ICCs efficacy and universality. But, you know, it remains the obligation of states to do, to do their part. And I think that maybe is a fitting segue into why the democratic world federation or world government,…
Metta Spencer 20:06
Okay, and we could spend the whole rest of the time talking about this, but I think maybe we should move on. Because we’re equally concerned, if not more about the the prospect of getting a real democracy in, in the United Nations, as it stands now, the General Assembly is really representative of and accountable to and acting on the behalf of nations, and not necessarily of the population of the world. So nations do not necessarily act in accordance with the best interests of their own citizens. So Andreas, can I ask you, what is the conventional notion of what a world parliament would be would look like in the first instance, as soon as it will be created? And then I believe you have a different take on what it should look like and closer to, to mine, which is that it should be representative of citizens and people more than governments. So give us the conventional view first, if you will, and then we can pick it apart.
Andreas Bummel 21:32
Yes, thank you very much. Yeah, well, the conventional view doesn’t go very deep, you will often hear on television and radio shows and elsewhere, in popular media, so to speak, that the general assembly that we already have, is a kind of world parliament, but that is wrong on many accounts. First of all, which you mentioned already, it’s it’s a body that is composed of representatives, not only of countries, but more precisely of the executive branches. The governments of these countries, that is an important distinction that we need to make. Because you would usually say, Well, okay, we might not elect our representatives globally, but we do, at least in a democracy indirectly elect the government. That then represents us at the UN, the General Assembly and all the other bodies. However, imagine you have voted for a party that is not part of the government. You know, even in a perfect democracy, it means that your opinion, your voice, your perspective, is not represented globally. So we can talk about the worst cases where even the government has no legitimacy like China, Russia, of course, we have spoken about that, the autocracies and dictatorships in the world, right? There is not much to discuss here, they are not legitimate, from a democratic perspective, they might be legitimate under international law, which I think is a problem that needs to be talked about. Because at the UN, it makes no difference what regime type you have, as the government. You know, you come to power, you have the effective means of power in your country in your hands. You know, and that makes you the representation. So, the usual understanding of the world parliament is quite wrong. And I think it is more straightforward. To think about it, if you look at the domestic institutions that people know better, which means in the case of the United States, you know, the Congress, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. And if we now use that as a starting point, it becomes quite clear what the world’s parliament is supposed to be, which is a directly elected body that has actual powers also, which is another distinction and talking of the General Assembly and the UN as a world parliament is also wrong. Because the notion of Parliament kind of implies that this body has has power, namely legislative power, right? That’s binding. And this is not the case at the UN, the UN has no binding capability. We talked about the lack of enforcement capability too. There are some instances of course, which we didn’t touch on yet. Like the ability of the Security Council of the UN, at least to adopt resolutions that are supposed to be binding under law, but there is no means of enforcement. So this word parliament in a proper understanding will also have legal powers. Right? So I think that’s the two basic no means we need to think about, first of all, it’s directly elected by the people of the world, in this case, right. And it has actual powers.
Metta Spencer 25:11
As I understand it people who have taken seriously the idea that we might be able to create such a body initially say that there’d be no way of having real direct elections globally. That’s just, you know, very ambitious idea. But we simply couldn’t do it. But that the the first form of, of representation in such a body would be that some of the members of parliament of each country would be chosen to to be the delegates, and the representatives in the world parliament. So we might pick two or three of our MPs, and send them to the UN. And I don’t know how often this body would meet or what the most realistic vision is as to how much authority or legislative clout or enforcement clout there would be for for such a bodies, new laws to be taken seriously and implemented and enforced. Are you happy with that arrangement? Would you be satisfied by having a world Parliament’s created right away, let’s say next year, and and have it represented in the way that I’ve just described that certain number of people from each country’s parliament would be sent to the UN?
Andreas Bummel 26:51
Yeah, in fact, this will be already a major, major step forwards, having something like that, because that would be based on the assumption that if national parliaments select the members, that they would have to select a delegation that reflects as best as possible the political composition of the Parliament of origin, meaning that the minority or opposition in a democracy would have to be represented as well, which means that not only would we have actual legislators, nationally elected representatives in this body, but we would also include the opposition, which addresses one of the basic problems of democratic legitimacy and representation at the General Assembly we already spoke about. And it’s correct that we would have to take a pragmatic approach, especially in the current world situation, which means that it is best I think, to look at this idea of a world parliament as a process that needs to start somewhere. And that is geared towards some long-term vision. And the long-term vision is what we’ve talked about, you know, the directly directly elected assembly that has legislative powers, and that is not what’s going to happen tomorrow or next year. Whether we like it or not, we will have to have a pragmatic approach and look at the US Senate, for instance, that only, you know, after 125 years directly, elections were introduced through a constitutional amendment that the beginning, senators were also elected by the you know, state assemblies. And a similar example that is very interesting that we are looking at is the development of the European Parliament. Outside Europe, not many or the European Union, not many are aware that the European Parliament is a real powerhouse, a legislative powerhouse, it still unfortunately lacks the power of initiatives. But on the other hand, all EU regulation otherwise has to be approved of and discussed with the European Parliament. So it’s more powerful than domestic Parliament’s in the EU. And I mentioning this because at the beginning, the European Parliament did not have such powers. They only evolved over decades. And at the beginning, the European Parliament was also not directly elected. That was something that was only done in 1979. After 20 years, more than 20 years of existence already. We’re testing it out, you know, so there are some interesting examples we can draw upon globally, but I would like to draw attention to a key problem, right? And that is the existence of autocracies that are becoming more forceful in the world. And that is the problem insofar as that they might first want to stop any such development to start. But if it starts, they might attempt to capture it and manipulate our process. So it serves their own means. So this is something that requires As strong attention, and we must be cautious about this. If we look at the final vision that we spoke about of this directly elected assembly, we also have to be aware that that’s not an isolated body. But at that stage, it would have to be embedded in the whole constitutional system. Right. So if we talk about word law, we also need to talk about the three branches of government, the judicial one as well, not only the legislative, because whatever the legislature, you know, legislative branch does, in this case, the word Parliament must also be subject to judicial review, right? So there would have to be checks and balances, and so on. And all of this, if we imagine a global democracy like this will not function with pockets of autocracy in the world. Right. That is also a discussion that is being held in world Federalist circles. How do we deal with this? And it’s my strong opinion that this whole path towards global political integration, world peace, even in more general terms, will only be successful if democracy moves forward. And if people in major countries, including China, and Russia, finally managed to get rid of their autocratic suppressor.
Metta Spencer 31:25
Okay, a couple of thoughts. That occurred to me, of course, the you said that you’d like to have or need a court that could review the legislation, it would be a judicial review of legislation. Now, of course, there’s the ICJ and there’s a now the International Criminal Court. But my impression is that neither one of them would be likely to carry out that function of reviewing legislation. Is that correct? Would you need a different court? A? What, then? If you did, would there be three different courts in the world where our courts that is the ICC the ICJ, and then whatever this thing would be? Or there would be one of them supreme, or you meld them together? What What would it look like to have some sort of judicial review system for …
Andreas Bummel 32:24
Right, I mean, we are talking here about a scenario that is still far away. But still, I think it’s worthwhile reflection. In my personal opinion, we do have a fragmentation of international law and judicial institutions, where is now push also for an international anti corruption court, which I fully support, and, of course, also strengthening the ICC and the ICJ and it is true that what you’re saying is, it implies something like a world Constitutional Court. That is an idea that was put forward, in fact, at the time by the new Tunisian government after the democratic revolution, which said that elections in countries should be subject to international judicial review, and that the transfer of power in countries should also be subject to such review. And the idea was, of course, that illegitimate, you know, assumption of power would be stopped by a such a global Constitutional Court. I think, I mean, if I imagined this long term scenario, I see a coherent system of world law. That does not require, you know, a whole set of separate courts, in my opinion. And domestically, you have that as well. Right. And so, in terms of review of global legislation, for sure, there would have to be Supreme Constitutional Courts. However, I can indeed, imagine that the reformed or transform International Court of Justice at that stage could take over such function instead of creating yet another court.
Metta Spencer 34:11
Rebecca, yes. What is your thought on this?
Rebecca A. Shoot 34:14
Thank you. I. First of all, I wholeheartedly agree with all the comments that Andreas has made. Regarding the International Court of Justice. My organization and the world Federalist movement Institute for Global Policy, are part of a new initiative called legal alternatives to war, which seeks to expand towards universal jurisdiction of the ICJ. We’ve seen very recently novel uses of the ICJ as one instance, for example, the referral for an advisory opinion by the UN General Assembly, on what state’s responsibility is for climate change. And knowing that this is being contemplated now in a way that perhaps just even a few years ago, I I might not have been envisioned within the ICJ jurisdiction. I think that opens up the discussion much further, in terms of what the ICJ might be able to do in terms of its advisory opinion capacity. And when I talk about the Euro universal jurisdiction of the ICJ, only 73 states have voluntarily accepted by depositing a declaration of consent, the jurisdiction of the ICJ over contentious disputes. All states are obliged to follow its precepts when it comes to treaty disputes, either those to which they are nationally, internationally, obliged multilateral treaties, or bilateral treaties. But even in cases where the non moving party does not have a successful outcome, we have seen the ICJ have incredible relevance in terms of policy change. We see this in my country, for instance, with the United States v. Nicaragua, a seminal case in 1984, which basically led the United States to stop its policy of abundant contras. So all this to say, I think the limits of the ICJ have yet to be plumbed, and continue to expand. I also just wanted to come back to one initial comment that was made about the practical modalities of direct elections for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, as sometimes I think we understate or underestimate how far electoral systems have come and the capabilities there too. Obviously, we’ve seen a globally in this country, my country included, some of the deficits of current electoral systems. But I think for instance of when I was in a previous role supporting the referendum on the Somali constitution, where most of the interior of Somalia at that point in time was inaccessible, but through means of various technologies, various people powered movements. A significant number of domestic individuals, domestic citizens participated in that referendum and subsequent electiona. Moreover, . something that I think is very instructional for UNFPA is the phenomenon of diaspora voting that many countries currently employ. So in addition to looking at models like the European Parliament, and regional federalized movements, or institutions, excuse me, these prevent present some modalities that could I think be instrumentalized for UNPA and direct elections.
Metta Spencer 37:39
Thank you, I want to chime in myself with a far out idea. But but I don’t get priority. I haven’t yet called on Alex. And I wonder, is there any official position among world Federalists as to what form any of these institutions should take? I know that there’s a general agreement on certain the idea that there should be a Parliamentary Assembly and so on, but have the world Federalist in general, come to any agreement as to what what it would look like and how it would function and what the details would be.
Alex MacIsaac 38:21
Had some meetings actually with the leaders of different organizations, which are members of the World Federalist movement, IGP, which does include, of course, CGS democracy without borders and WFM, Canada. And what we really saw is that there is no real one path or one final structure to a UN PA. But and even if we had one, we wouldn’t really see it play out like that, from the theory to the actual practice of when we see a UNPA come about, as undress was saying gradually. But what we’re doing is, you know, we agree on common notions and what we’re trying to do as world Federalist is create this global conversation. And we agree on very clear notions, like the fact that a the distribution of seats for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly would probably be based on not only population considerations, so not one country, one vote necessarily, but also geographical representation. So representation of different regions around the world. And the most important one that we all agree on as world Federalist is that the current international system is ineffective. And it is not adequate to actually enforce international law in a lot of senses. And that’s something that’s or a problem that’s common to all these international institutions we’ve been talking about. So whether it’s the International Criminal Court, or the United Nations General Assembly, or the Human Rights Council, or dissect all of them deal with this problem that we live in a world where nations have absolute national sovereignty, and we need to find a way to limit it by while still protecting national sovereignty and The areas where it makes sense to have national sovereignty. So it’s central for World federalism, basically, to kind of make sure that a country cannot just back out of the Rome Statute and ignore it’s what they agreed to. Same thing, Human Rights Council does, they can only make recommendations to the General Assembly, and the General Assembly’s actions aren’t binding. The only place where we do see binding stuff is the Security Council and the Security Council is plagued with institutional inertia, just reflecting the victories of World War Two. And it’s not only non democratic, because of five countries having seats and the other 10 rotating. But it’s also inefficient because those five countries have a veto as well. So whenever their interests conflict, we don’t see any action.
Metta Spencer 40:50
Okay, well, look, let me let me be bold, I don’t normally put my own ideas out here. But I, I think I’m inspired by people who start parallel institutions. I’m thinking back to Poland, at a time when it was governed by a communist regime, and there was really, really no opportunity to create civil society organizations that were reflective of the general intention of the population. So instead of trying to change the government, they just set up parallel institutions that were independent and on their own, and they had no official governmental status, whatever, but they certainly call it on they, they created a number of different things. So I can think of, for example, they, they printed their own postage stamps, and put them on letters. And sometimes these, the postal employees would go ahead and send the letters through and so on, they would have their own home, universities, they would meet in people’s living rooms and, and have institutions that way, and so on. So in other words, you just create an alternative system if you don’t like the one that’s in power, and see if you can create something that people would like better? Well, my notion is, we could create a Parliamentary Assembly right now. Give me a three or $4 million, and I can do it myself, I would invite you guys to join me if you’d like. But I think what we can do is we’ve got we’ve got everybody’s got a cell phone, something like a Fitbit 80% of the world’s population that has a cell phone, and it must have these we can have, you know, we can have zoom on our cell phones, and we can hook it up and we can have meetings and we could have, we could have elections, I would say we should have a system where people join the World Government and say I want to be a world citizen. And I’m going to pay my annual taxes $1 per year. And this $1 A year will be sufficient to enable us to set up a system of meetings of a Parliamentary Assembly. And all these people who who have paid their dollar a year are now citizens and they get they get a vote. And they get to choose members to represent them and so on from them from their own constituencies. In other words, they that you don’t have Parliament’s you don’t have delegates set by the government. You don’t have political parties, but you enable people you choose people by lottery, you can say, as set up a system in which all the people who have a certain level of education a certain age, a certain sex and speak a certain language, form a constituency and we know what proportion of the general population they are. And so they would get a number of delegates in proportion to their size in the general population. And they get to elect represent or they get they don’t elect there’s no election but the they get some people get selected by the way we pick jurors from from the general population. It’s not election, it’s drawing a lot and finding out a certain number of people get picked by chance. So they are completely representative of the general population. Now my sense is that there’s a disquiet and disenchantment, Now, generally worldwide with even with X democracies. Most people, if you ask the Americans, for example, whether they’re happy with their, with their Congress, they will, the great majority of them will say no. And that’s not just the US, it’s almost any real democracy, people are very disappointed in how that’s working. But it actually works if you have citizens assemblies, that are really representative of the people, and you give them plenty of opportunity to to deliberate together, discuss issues and call upon experts to inform them as they need to be informed before they make decisions and so on. So we can have a a real functioning world government, parliamentary citizens assembly, created that way that would meet by zoom, and they’d probably never meet in person, but it could go on and be I’ve written a game plan for how to do it. Because I’ve even given some thought about what time of day they would start meeting and that sort of thing. In order to make it work. You’d have to have different sections for the world, according to Eastern Western, what timezone there and whether they could all meet at the same time and that sort of thing. So they’re the I just liked it to, to promote the idea of having not elections, but sortition. That’s the word I wanted sortition is the procedure process of which the ancient Greeks did they did. They had their democracy, but it wasn’t. They didn’t elect people, they actually drew lots to decide who would be represented in their governing structures. I want to propose that as a far out goofy idea, which I think is realistic, and doable. And tell me whether or not you think I know you’re going to think it’s crackpot. So go ahead and tell me that it’s crackpot. Who wants to take first shot? Yeah, Andreas?
Andreas Bummel 47:10
Well, yes, I mean, you redress many things. So let me start somewhere, first of all, in terms of having self-organized movement, that has been done, even by the World Federalist Movement, after the Second World War, when there was an effort to have a self-organized world Constituent Assembly that would be elected from people across the world, not necessarily organized by governments. And there have been numerous, multiple efforts for this approach, and, for instance, I would even group the World Social Forum into this field, right, where there was an effort to build a counter narrative and counter movement to neoliberalism. And I think that it is worthwhile as a goal for mobilization, raising awareness, and pushing for change. The unfortunate trouble is that the governments are here, they are there and they hold the power. They have the economic means they have military power, they control the police, they control economic redistribution, they can, as we can see, invade other countries like in China, they can suppress millions of people and put them in forced labor camps. So I doubt that any such parallel movement is able to change any of that unless the final goal then is to actually capture and change the governments right, that are in question here. So I think it is a valid strategy. That is the goal. I don’t think a parallel world can be built. How would you stop the suppression of the wars in Xinjiang in China, for instance, with such a parallel movement, and it’s also in addition, worth reflection. How I mean, would governments even allow this can you have an election for world parliament in China without the approval of the Communist Party? You see, so, civic space is extremely limited in many countries, you have no chance to to make your voice heard to say what you want to say. You have no freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of speech. And it means that basically, in a few countries, it will be possible to do this and then others it will be highly risky, and I guess, not successful. And this is just I’m not saying it’s like mentioned before, it’s not worthwhile in approach. But in the end, in the end, we never need to get rid of autocratic government and we need to hold government to account. Right? And if that is the means, towards that end, I think it’s great. But in the end, we have to face the big, the big challenge that the system needs to be changed structurally. In terms of, you know, Ancient Greece and the city states, let’s not forget, we are talking about slaveholding societies where only a select few men were able to be part of this civic space, right? The privileged elite, and everybody else was excluded. But I’m, I’m I’m happy to discuss this idea of sortition and lottery. And I think is a good complementary approach.
Metta Spencer 50:54
That’s what I am suggesting Andreas, I’m not suggesting that we can get rid of national governments or municipal governments or any other existing national nation states. I mean, that’s a whole different operation, I, we wouldn’t even get rid of the General Assembly, we wouldn’t try to change the UN, we just leave it alone. And on our own, we would start out if you give me everybody’s cell phone number, and enough people to make some phone calls. And I can, I can reach out to these people even in China, because they’ve got phone numbers now. And, you know, the government would maybe try to stop it, and they make it difficult. In some countries, they might even be able to stop it. But in general, now, if we if we had a list of a million people worldwide who had joined and paid $1 apiece, and I’ve added the phone numbers, and I have a some way of authenticating that I’m reaching the person who owns the phone, they should, you know, put some photos of themselves a recent photo up so we can tell who they are, it’s fun, then we can reach them. And we can say, Okay, now, we’ve drawn straws, and you are chosen to be a delegate to the this new world citizens assembly? And do you want to be on or not? And a lot of people, most of them will say no. But we would at least get a sampling that really reflects the distribution of the world population. And I think agree, the legitimacy of such a thing would be unquestioned, just as for example, you know, nobody doubts that juror, …
Andreas Bummel 52:46
i don’t think that’s true, I don’t think that the legitimacy is really there. You would effectively disenfranchise everybody. But we have two more here who would like to speak?
Metta Spencer 52:59
Rebecca A. Shoot 53:03
Thank you so much. So taking the discussion discussion of sortition lottery beyond ancient Greece, we do have modern examples of kind of deliberative democracy. So citizens assemblies being used for discrete functions, for example, Iceland constitutional referendum, constitutional reform, Ireland, intractable issues related to inter community dialogues and inter committee dynamics. However, I’ve wholeheartedly agree with Andreas that I don’t think that legitimacy or credibility are conferred by a descriptive only representation of the world’s peoples. Ultimately, and I come from a parliamentary background so this is close to my heart, I take seriously the role of a parliamentarian and evidence based policymaking. And so going on, going forward decision making that transcends a crisis, or an immediate need, like a constitutional reform, to all to contemplate all of this subject matter, that a UN Parliamentary Assembly or for that matter, any legislative body, would be forced to confront. I think you do need some degree of expertise, or at least know where to find those expertise. And then there’s a whole conversation to be had there, of course, the role of a representative of a legislator, as delegate or trustee and the different forms of representation. But suffice it to say that when we’re talking about the most critical decisions for humanity, that a UN Parliamentary Assembly would be asked to contemplate. I am not, personally very comfortable with the grab bag approach and would not see that as credible nor legitimate.
Metta Spencer 54:55
Thank you. Okay, Alexandre
Alex MacIsaac 54:59
Yeah, well I do agree, I also think it has a lot of potential complementary functions to world Parliamentary Assembly, such as agenda setting function that could be possible. And I got that through your article actually Metta, where you described a pollsters going collecting, you know, different global issues that people email and and that would become the agenda of the actual world citizens assembly. I was thinking maybe, instead of having that maybe the people that formed the world citizens assembly could set the agenda of the plenary sessions of the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, or something along those lines. And I do think they’re, they would add a lot of trust in the actual process of the UNPA and the actual system. But I don’t think it is sufficient on its own. And I do think we really need to fix that democratic legitimacy issue with the United Nations system as a whole. So yeah, there’s one little comment quickly, I know, you mentioned that, you were saying that this can be, you know, very cheaply done. And we can do by zoom, literally. So that’s why you’re proposing maybe 3 million. But there, the problem with that I feel is, if we’re gonna have maybe 20 people, we might as well just fly them in and actually have a physical location for them, just so that we’re not excluding people who don’t have access to a mobile phone or access to the internet, necessarily. And if these people are going there, I mean, it does cost much more in that sense. The Norwegian renovations to the Security Council alone cost 8.2 million. But I think, you know, it is something that is necessary. And as you said, you know, there’s a lot of money flowing around in the world. The problem is that the UN can’t tax and we just rely on national government contributions. So that’s the issue, the UN budget could be much bigger, very easily with minimal taxation.
Metta Spencer 56:52
Rebecca A. Shoot 56:54
As we explore complementarity of these different models, it might be interesting to decouple or distinguish between the different roles that lead that representatives that parliamentarians play. So often we see this as the trifecta of representation, legislation and oversight, and sometimes you add budgetary concerns to those other folks think that the budget is kind of inter woven through those other three, Alex I think gestured toward the very important role that citizens assemblies, and really the the Vox Populi can play an oversight. And that’s something that I think that we it would be worth exploring and taking further
Metta Spencer 57:35
Tell me more about what you would mean there.
So normally, the oversight function of a parliament is to be the check and balance on the executive. So how is the executive performing against its commitments against its obligations, and to be a watchdog? And we see many popular movements, nationally, internationally, regionally, where citizens have turned into that that watchdog function, if there is a way to empower a citizens assembly along those lines, at the level at the global level at the the UN level, I think that would be interesting to explore.
Metta Spencer 58:13
Umm hmm, okay. Well, that’s, that’s, that’s encouraging. So I get there that there’s no nobody here who thinks that my idea would work as such, but maybe some it has some grain of possibility and other ways is, is that the best I can extract from you folks? Before we say goodbye? Or is there something more that we need to, to consider about where how we would move forward, I think the idea of getting a Parliamentary Assembly in the, in the conventional way of getting the UN itself to agree to it and all these different nation states to to agree to it, I think this whole long way off. Not very helpful. We could do it. But I think some billionaire who wants to give us some money, we could do it ourselves as a hobby.
Andreas Bummel 59:07
Thank you very much
Metta Spencer 59:08
Okay, I’ve enjoyed it very much. So take care and I hope we will see a some kind of next step emerge as we think about how to move forward. Thanks so much. Have a great day. Bye. Project Save the World produces these forums. This is episode 563. You can watch them or listen to them as audio podcasts on our website tosavetheworld.ca People share information there are about six global issues and to find a particular talk show you can enter its title or episode number in the search bar with the name of one of the guest speakers. Project Save the World also produces a quarterly online publication Peace Magazine. You can subscribe for $20 Canadian per year. Just go to pressreader.com in your browser and in the search bar you know the word peace we’ll see buttons to click to subscribe.
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