A Novel Canadian Avenue Towards a World Parliament

Eric Boucher
Director of Planet Republyk, Québec, Canada

Last March 20 to 22 in New York, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from around the world conducted live and virtual consultations on seven themes to inspire discussion at the United Nations Summit for the Future, next September 2023, where UN member states will negotiate the Pact for the Future.

For the theme "The UN and the transformation of global governance institutions", the participating CSOs agreed on 5 proposals for changes to the UN structure to be submitted to the international community:

  1. The UN Secretary General to be elected independently by the UN General Assembly (not under the mandatory recommendation (and pressure) of the UN Security Council)
  2. Creation of a second chamber of the UN: an elected UN Parliamentary Assembly
  3. Creation of a mechanism for relevant citizens' initiatives to be presented to the UN Assembly
  4. Calling for a UN Charter Review Conference per Article 109 of the Charter, which allows for this, with a 2/3 vote of the General Assembly.
  5. Creation of a civil society delegation at the United Nations

While fair and noble, these are, as you can see, very modest demands for UN reform, and yet there is no indication that they will be accepted by the Assembly of the world's governments. The inauspicious times for cosmocratic activism of the last few decades explain this type of unambitious demands, but the current times of global crises are completely changing the situation and the federalist movement must review its strategies.

Planet Republyk[i] believes that what we should have expected in terms of reform of our international institutions from the Pact for the Future only three years ago, is very different from what we could expect today. The growing tensions between the governments of China, Russia and their allies, on the one hand, and NATO and its allies, on the other; the resulting resurgence of the nuclear threat; the present and future pandemics; the growing crises of biodiversity; climate; food and water supply; migrants; and runaway global inflation: all of these make it urgent for civil society to be bold.

Milton Friedman wrote that: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”

We believe that too at Planet Republyk, and this is why we are part of a growing group of organizations advocating for a much more audacious project than just the reform of the United Nations. Here are 5 points on which these organizations seem to agree:

  1. The establishment of a new level of representation for the globe as equitist, autonomous, legitimate and as close to the democratic ideal (one human = one vote) as possible, in order to ensure the management of issues that affect the whole of humanity and the biosphere.
  2. That this project be developed from a blank page and not from an existing organization like the UN.
  3. At the initiative of this project there should be the citizens of the world, not the countries and their governments. The governments of the world have never wished, do not wish, and will never wish this to happen. They would maximize the obstacles to the realization of the world parliament, as well as to the obtaining by the latter of some competences that could erode some of their sovereignties.

As the republic of humanity must necessarily be, at some point, a federation of the world's states, the proponents of the planetarist movement advocate a strategy of "end-of-the-pipe federalism’’. So, eventually the governments of the world will have to sit down together with the elected representatives of the new global democratic level to agree on the exact powers they will delegate to this new global parliament. The Planet Republyk's method, among others, would thus allow the First Republic of Mankind not to sit at the negotiating table in the humiliating position of a beggar (as is currently the case for the UN, its organs and all the international organizations that beg for subsidies and fear to bite the hand of the great powers that feed them).

  1. The representation of the citizens shall be done according to supranational zones.
  2. The final characteristic that this proposal must have (unlike many proposals submitted by intellectuals over the last few decades) is that it must be simple enough for the common people to easily grasp and adhere to, share and even promote it without feeling that they are being conned once again.

Planet Republyk proposes, for this ideal world parliament to be conceived, that the representation of the citizens be made through supranational electoral districts created along the parallels on the entire surface of the globe.

If each district were to have almost the same number of voters (e.g. 50 million people in order to have a parliament of 160 members (one per district) at the projected world population of eight billion people), the latitude range of each district will vary according to the actual distribution of world population[ii]. Many more data, references and arguments can be found in the longer version of this article, that can be found in this review’s website.

Planet Republyk hopes that exceptional candidates will run for office in their respective latitudes. Role models, enjoying international recognition for their commitment, courage, self-sacrifice, virtues. To give just three examples, let's think of the Congolese Denis Mukwege, the Indian Vandana Shiva, or the young Swede Greta Thunberg.

Moreover, Planet Republyk wants to believe that this type of candidacy can vibrate the cosmopolitan fiber of the voters and incite to give their vote to them, rather than to candidates of their same nationality, certainly, but nevertheless less inspiring.

A timetable will have to be set for various considerations, including the motivation of the troops. The year 2045, the hundredth anniversary of the United Nations, seems to be a coherent objective for the establishment of a permanent structure of world parliament. This advent would constitute the year 0 of the calendar of the new era. The date could very well be the equinox day of March, which in 2007 was declared "World Citizens Day and World Unity Day" by the Peoples Congress.

Eventually, billions of people will have to vote: a complex and expensive exercise. A nine-year, non-renewable parliamentary and presidential term would make the exercise of power more manageable. Half of the members of parliament would be elected every 54 months (4.5 years). The citizens could also ratify or repeal by referendum the measures and legislation adopted by the chamber if a request to do so received the assent of a minimum number, to be determined, of world citizens.

The parliamentary deputation should have an equal number of women and men at all times. One way to achieve this would be to make it mandatory to alternate the gender of candidates in each district. In the first world election, from north to south, the world's districts would alternate female and male candidates. At the next election, the candidates would be of the opposite gender. Gender alternation should be written into the constitution for the presidency as well.

The first election could be held in 2027, on October 24 (the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter). At the beginning, the representation will of course be only symbolic, but given the slow but undeniable progress of democracy in the world, there will come a time when more than 50% of the populations in parallel areas will be able to vote according to standards inspired by those of the UN electoral division. Then we will be able to speak, more and more, of a legitimate representation.

[i]  Planet Republyk is a non-profit, international civil society advocacy organization based in Quebec City, Canada, whose mission is to promote the establishment of the most democratic, equitist, legitimate and sovereign global parliament possible to oversee the management of issues that affect all of humanity and the biosphere. Planet Republyk is also a book, a multilingual website https://planetrepublyk.org/, a blog, a conference program and a podcast.

[ii] Engaging Data website, Map section, World Population Distribution by Latitude and Longitude, https://engaging-data.com/population-latitude-longitude/. Accessed March 24, 2022.

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