“TRANSFORMING THE UNITED NATIONS:
DESIGNS FOR A WORKABLE WORLD”
Joseph Schwartzberg, Ph.D.
Distinguished International Emeritus Professor, University of Minnesota
Author of Revitalizing the U.N.: Reform through Weighted Voting, Kashmir: A Way Forward, Historical Atlas of South Asia, and several other books plus many articles in Global Governance and other journals.
WHEN: SUNDAY AFTERNOON, APRIL 29, 2012
3:30 p.m. – Informal reception & refreshments
4:00 p.m. – Joe Schwartzberg’s talk + discussion
5:30 – Optional buffet turkey dinner (Reservation form below)
WHERE: THE ETHICAL SOCIETY OF ST. LOUIS
9001 Clayton Road, Richmond Heights, Missouri 63117
(1/4 mile west of the north end of Galleria Shopping Center)
Sponsored by Citizens for Global Solutions of St. Louis.
Co-sponsors: United Nations Association of St. Louis, League of Women Voters of St. Louis, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom of St. Louis, Bahá’í Community of St. Louis, and the Ethical Action Committee of the Ethical Society of St. Louis.
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RESERVATION FORM for optional BUFFET DINNER at 5:30 p.m.
(Deadline for receipt of this form is 1:00 p.m. Thursday, April 26)
Printed Name(s) ________________________________________________
Telephone (_____) _____________ e-mail: ________________________
No. of Turkey Dinners _______ No. of Vegetarian Dinners _______
(Turkey dressing, salad, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, whole wheat rolls, blueberry cobbler, beverage; also cheese & raw vegetables for vegetarians.)
The price for each dinner is $15.00 (except $3.00 for students).
Make check to “CGS of Greater St. Louis” and send it with this form to
Dr. David Oughton, 1130 Big Sky Drive, Fenton MO 63026.
For more info, contact Ron Glossop at 314/869-2303 or <email@example.com>
or Dave Oughton at 636/717-0165 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
CGS-St. Louis essay contest winners
report on national convention
2012 National Conference Report #1
By Alex Nourse
While many college students enjoy rehashing tales of spring break trips to Florida, I found a much more exciting experience in Washington D.C. this March. Citizens for Global Solutions hosted their national conference right off of Capitol Hill, giving individuals the opportunity to learn critical lobbying skills to effect a change pertaining to important foreign policies and current world issues. One of the highlights for this year’s symposium was audience with several White House administrators. Of these, Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, and Trigg Talley, Director of the Office of Global Climate Change, were among the most engaging. Interacting with these officials provided great insight into our current administrations efforts toward global equality and what challenges still exist. The culmination of this experience was a tour of the East wing of the White House, giving members a comprehensive experience of the district where the voice of the people is personified.
The most important knowledge I gained from this experience is that one person can make a difference. While one day of lobbying may not shape the course of social policy, our voices were heard and our claims were addressed. Perhaps our organization will be one that is remembered when foreign policy legislation is debated; maybe it will even help sway the decisions of some of our representatives and congressmen in favor of global support. Not only does this experience influence the lives of these men and women in Washington, but the lives of individuals we
touch every day in our respective communities. From talking to our loved ones about our trip, to the importance we place on politics and social justice, these experiences will persevere in the lives of the people we interact with. Maybe someone will read a newspaper article, attend an international speaker event, or join a local coalition because of our interaction with them. I do know that my knowledge and experience from attending this conference will not be in vain. It will be sung from every word I continue to speak, impressed into every paper I passionately write, and bound to the essence of the life I live. As freelance journalist, Chuck Palahniuk, once wrote, “…its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives…”
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2012 National Conference Report #2
Junior, Collinsville High School
When I had to explain to all my teachers and friends why I was going to be gone, I decided to skip the long explanation and told them I was going to Washington, D.C. In fact, it turned out to be so much more than just a trip. I forged invaluable connections and networking skills, as well as learning how to lobby. Being the only high school student at the conference, it was easy to feel overwhelmed at times but I found myself being welcomed with open arms. It was a true relief, because I had never been around so many well educated and informed people in my life. That in itself was a great experience.
The first day of the conference, we learned about lobbying and how it works, then spent the afternoon going around to Missouri congressman’s offices and speaking to their staffers about the nuclear situation in Iran, UN funding, and the International Criminal Court. To me, lobbying had always seemed like a difficult thing that was a big deal, but the atmosphere was relaxed for the most part and our visits were well received. The experience made me realize that anyone’s voice can be heard if only you go about it in the right way. The second day, we were spoken to by state depart executives. I found that extremely fascinating because I see it as a future career path. After that, we toured the historic East Wing of the White House then broke off to go into groups to hear different speakers. I sat in on a lecture by Dr. Eliot Kang, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Affairs at the State Department, who spoke about nuclear nonproliferation and the Iranian nuclear program. International security is another one of my interests, so I found the lecture by Dr. Kang particularly interesting.
Overall, this was an experience I will never forget and will hopefully help me in the future. I’d like to thank Dr. Glossop and Dr. Oughton, as well as the other essay winner Alex Nourse and my mother, for attending this trip with me and making the whole experience worthwhile.
TOWARD A WORLD PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
President, Minnesota Chapter
[reprinted from CGS of Minnesota
March 2012 newsletter]
Several months ago, Andreas Bummel, the young, dynamic and exceedingly capable Secretary-General of the Berlin-based Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA), requested that I write a monograph setting forth my views on how such a body might be established and function. I was happy to agree. That work, approximately eighty pages in length, is now nearing completion and should soon thereafter be published by the UNPA Campaign under the title Creating a Democratic and Workable World Parliamentary Assembly: An Evolutionary Journey. An abridged and edited version of the Introduction follows:
The will of the people shall be the basis of government: this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent voting procedures
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21, Clause 3
A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly – a global body of elected representatives – could invigorate our institutions of global governance with unprecedented legitimacy, transparency and accountability,
Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
The United Nations Charter begins on a deceptively promising note. “WE THE PEOPLES” are its opening words. One will seek in vain, however, for any clause in that document that specifies a means by which ordinary people-or “peoples”-can play a role in the organization’s deliberations and decision-making. The UN, as is well known, is presently an organization of States, not of persons. Its democratic deficit is profound. How best to progressively minimize that deficit forms the subject of the present work.
What are the implications for the United Nations, of Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, cited above? Since the Article clearly stipulates that “[t]he will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government,” some will argue that the Article is simply not relevant. The United Nations, after all, was not intended to be a world government. Nevertheless, there can be no denying that many decisions taken by the entities comprising the United Nations system, whether or not they are regarded as binding, contribute to the governance of masses of citizens of the UN’s 193 member States. Whatever the intentions of the UN’s founders may have been, governance decisions taken within the organization over the decades since the UN’s creation have significantly impacted the lives of virtually the whole of humanity; and they are certain to do so increasingly in the decades ahead.
Thus, a powerful case can be made for greater citizen input into the UN decision-making process. While various systems for ascertaining citizens’ views outside the UN are feasible I firmly believe that a World Parliamentary Assembly (WPA) would be the optimal vehicle for achieving this objective and for imparting to the UN, the “unprecedented democratic legitimacy, transparency and accountability” which former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, among many other forward thinkers, believes it should have.
The time has come for the UN General Assembly to assume a greater role in making binding decisions in respect to a limited range of matters of truly global concern, i.e., in respect to problems that cannot possibly be adequately addressed by nations acting on their own. In short, the GA should evolve from what many believe to be a generally ineffectual “talk-shop” into a viable legislative body. And if there were to be a United Nations legislature, its decisions would be substantially more acceptable if it represented people as well as states. The UN’s democratic deficit can and should be overcome. A more democratic UN would inevitably become a stronger, more legitimate body.
In what follows, I shall first examine the constitutional evolution and composition of various democratic legislatures, with particular attention to that of the European Union, to see what lessons they hold in regard to a global legislative body. I then set forth and evaluate a diverse menu of proposals for giving ordinary citizens the voice they presently lack. We will next consider various organizational issues that will have to be addressed (or hurdles to be overcome) if a viable parliamentary body is to be brought into being. Further, I shall specify a set of desiderata that might guide decisions on the type of “people’s house” best suited to the evolving needs of the world as a whole.
With this conceptual platform in place, I shall suggest possible evolutionary paths towards what would eventually become a maximally democratic and viable World Parliamentary Assembly (WPA). I stress the word “possible” because I recognize that human creativity is capable of devising many workable ideas in addition to my own.
The recommended beginning of our journey-Stage One-would be the establishment by the UN General Assembly, under Article 22 of the Charter (which allows the GA to “establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions”), of a Parliamentary Assembly open to the participation of all member nations, in which parliamentarians are chosen by their respective governments, wherever possible through the nation’s own legislature and in proportion to the strength of various parties in the legislature itself.
To make the WPA in its initial form acceptable to the more powerful members of the UN, it would be necessary to apportion representation not solely on the basis of population, but also with a view to national contributions to the UN budget. Additionally, in deference to the vast majority of UN members who are neither populous, nor economically strong, the apportionment formula would take account of the persistent notion of the sovereign equality of nations.
As in the present GA, WPA resolutions would be advisory, rather than binding. That does not mean, however, that they would lack moral force. Many would, in fact, resonate with worldwide audiences, be taken up by civil society organizations and individual activists, and significantly influence national, as well as global, politics.
An important function of the WPA in its formative phase would be to establish a set of procedures for carrying out its parliamentary duties. It would institute a system of committees, create a body of norms for interacting with the GA, the Secretariat and other components of the UN system, and devise a set of rules on debating and voting.
Whatever its merits, from a democratic perspective, a WPA created in the manner just described would be far from optimal. While it would enable spokespersons from various parties, including minority parties, to articulate diverse ideological positions and put forward proposals that his/her government might not be willing to propose in the GA, there would still be no guarantee that decisions taken by parliamentarians beholden to their respective national governments would truly reflect the sentiments of their constituents.
Thus, following the developmental trajectory of the European Parliament, it would be only a matter of time before growing popular demand would lead to the establishment of a popularly elected, more politically competent WPA. But, before embarking on what would become stage two of our journey, it would first be necessary to stipulate a set of conditions for holding free and fair elections conducted in accordance with generally accepted rules (e.g., universal adult franchise) and overseen by a suitably empowered Election Commission. Among these rules would be a requirement that elections be in multi-member constituencies and held on the basis of proportional representation. Nations unready or unwilling to accept these rules should be free not to join the WPA. Better to have the WPA grow slowly than to grow badly.
In Stage Two of our journey, we shall focus on just two, among many possible proposals. Both embody the European Parliament principle of “degressive proportionality,” whereby the average number of constituents per parliamentarian increases with increasing national population. But they differ from one another in one essential respect. In one model, all MWPs would cast votes of equal weight; in the other, the weight of each MWPs vote would systematically reflect the population size of his/her constituency.
A major point of similarity in the proposals thus far put forward is that they all envisage elections within the framework of existing national boundaries regulated by individual nations in accordance with an agreed-upon set of rules. This would hold true for both superpowers and microstates. Additionally, elections would not necessarily include the populations -admittedly small- of the world’s remaining dependencies and such anomalous, politically exceptional countries as Taiwan, Palestine and Western Sahara. Democracy implies universal participation. It is not yet the global rule. Further, the one person – one vote principle, should eventually trump degressive proportionality, assigning, to the degree
practicable, equal weight to the votes of all planetary citizens.
Thus, I would recommend, at a Third Stage to our journey, one in which elections are organized within a set of electoral fields many of which will cross national boundaries and, in accordance with a system of proportional representation that maximizes the probability that WPA elections truly reflect the will of the electorate.
Since creating and maintaining a WPA will not be cheap, our essay analyzes, as best we can, its costs in comparison to its anticipated benefits. It concludes that the benefits would, in very little time, far outweigh the costs.
Fundamental governance reform never occurs in a political vacuum. Hence, our discussion of a WPA concludes by considering needed complementary reforms in the global governance system-especially in regard to finance-and the formation of strategic alliances of civil society, progressive governments and ordinary citizen activists to enable the creation of a maximally workable and democratic assembly.
This is a doable project.
Was it one more lousy war against Middle Eastern people, or was NATO protecting citizens?
On Feb. 26, 2012, St. Louis WILPF co-sponsored a debate on the question of whether the Libyan NATO invasion successfully protected Libyans, the stated purpose, or whether it was just one more Western war on the Arab world. The debate was sponsored by St. Louis Citizens for Global Solutions and was held at The Ethical Society. About 24 persons attended the event, besides the presenters and moderator. Bud Deraps was vehemently opposed to the invasion, Ron Glossop supported the decision, and Bob Reinhold moderated.
Bud Deraps summarized articles which were opposed to the invasion. Bud traced its origin to the Project for the New American Century, a group which, prior to 9/11, planned the invasion of multiple Arab countries within five years, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Somalia. The next step was the UN vote for a “no-fly” zone, which meant that the NATO forces would bomb the government, but the government was not supposed to bomb back. Bud noted that Libyans had a life expectancy of 74.5 years and 88% literacy. Libya was one of the more advanced countries in Africa. NATO has had a policy of not investigating casualties. 7,700 bombs or missiles were exploded by NATO in the Libyan war. The estimated number of deaths from the invasion was 30,000 and the estimated number of injured was 20,000. Bud reported that members of Al Quaida are now a part of the new Libyan government.
Ron Glossop stated that the NATO invasion originated with the announcement by Moamar Khadafi that he planned a massacre of citizens. The UN announced its opposition to Khadafi’s plan, and Citizens for Global Solutions supported the UN position. Ron stated that the concept of intervention to prevent atrocities by governments against its citizens originated with the Nuremberg trials, with its concept that leaders must be held accountable, not just governments. The world community failed in stopping the genocide in the former Yugoslavia in 1993 and the massacre in Rwanda in 1994. The Rome Statute established the International Criminal Court in 1998. In 2005, the concept of Responsibility to Protect was developed. The Libyan War implemented the Responsibility to Protect principle. The world community was behind it, unlike the Iraq war, which happened because of unilateral action by the US. Ron acknowledged that NATO went beyond what it was authorized to do and attributed that to the lack of a UN military force.
Various members of the audience offered interesting points. Mary Jane Schutzius asked whether the UN had requested peacekeepers or military intervention. Ron acknowledged several times that the NATO action went beyond what had been authorized by the UN Security Council. Al Edgell, citing a book by Rod Stewart, CAN INTERVENTION WORK?, noted that the US does not know enough about the countries it has invaded to avoid making a mess. Suzanne Reinhold speculated that the real story on what was behind the Libyan invasion has not yet been reported, and quoted Phyllis Bennis, interviewed on DEMOCRACY NOW!, as stating that the NATO goal was control of the Libyan territory in the north of Africa, since the West already controls the oil contracts.
David Sladke, a member of Veterans for Peace, reminded everyone of the report that a leader of the anti-Khadafi forces had lived in Langley, Virginia, close to the CIA, for the twenty-years which preceded the invasion of Libya by NATO.
Ron Glossop pointed out that Khadafi had planned to convert oil revenue from dollars to Euros. Since the UK and France, besides the US, were the prime movers in the NATO invasion, why did France support the invasion, since it is a member of the EU and trades in Euros?
There appeared to be a consensus of those in attendance that the NATO invasion of Libya was another big mistake by the US and the west.
Suzanne Reinhold Feb. 28, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 10:15 a.m. – CGS/STL Board of Officers and Directors meets at World Community Center, 438 No. Skinker, 63130. Meeting is open to all.
Saturday, April 21, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Ethical Society of St. Louis – The topic is “HUMAN RIGHTS AND GLOBAL HEALTH” and the speakers are Peter Van Krieken, VP of the Association for the Study of World Refugee Problems, and Dr. C. O. Pannenborg, Chair of the Netherlands Government Commission and Program on Global Health. The talks will be followed by the annual meeting of the UNA of Greater St. Louis. For more information, call 636-675-1766.
Sunday, April 29, 9:45 a.m. – Forum in the Hanke Room at the Ethical Society of St. Louis. The topic is “CAN THE U.N. BE DEMOCRATIZED?” The speaker is Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, Distinguished International Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota. He is author of the monograph REVITALIZING THE UNITED NATIONS: REFORM THROUGH WEIGHTED VOTING (2004) as well as many articles and other books. He has just finished a new book titled TRANSFORMING THE UNITED NATIONS: DESIGNS FOR A WORKABLE WORLD. Dr. Schwartzberg has visited over 100 countries, focusing mainly on the Indian sub-continent. He has been very active in the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, the World Federalist Association, the international World Federalist Movement, and Citizens for Global Solutions (especially its World Federalist Institute) as well as other professional and peace-oriented organizations.
Sunday, April 29, 3:30 p.m. – See front page of this newsletter about Professor Schwartzberg’s presentation on “TRANSFORMING THE UNITED NATIONS: DESIGNS FOR A WORKABLE WORLD,” our CGS/STL annual business meeting, and the optional turkey or vegetarian buffet dinner