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Creating Global Democracy

by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book BEST FOR ALL: How We Can Save the World.
For information on ordering, please click here.

We need world organization that is democratic. The United Nations was founded as an organization in 1945, succeeding and taking over many of the functions of the defunct League of Nations. Yet the United Nations was the name of the allies that won World War II, and the five powers (Britain, China, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States) made themselves the only permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, each with veto power. Although the United Nations has helped to manage many global problems, from its inception it was not democratic and did not represent the people of the world but rather the governments of the nations. In the General Assembly and the Security Council, the officials representing each country were delegated by the national governments; they were not elected by the people and have had little political power.

Recently certain multi-lateral organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been increasing their power and influence over world affairs and pressuring nations to adopt policies and change their laws for the sake of the capitalist interests that dominate these organizations. Unfortunately as a result this domination by financial interests has increased the gap between the rich and the poor in the world to epidemic proportions with millions of people suffering and dying of malnutrition and various diseases. These inequalities are increasing the conflicts in the world so that many people are killed in wars within and between nations. Thus the efforts of the United Nations to fulfill its objective "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" are failing to accomplish the purpose for which the organization came into existence. With the pressures of diminishing oil and fresh water resources, I believe that it is critical that we develop a democratic form of world organization that can oversee universal disarmament, alleviate poverty, maintain security and health for all, protect human rights, and promote education.

The current leaders of powerful nations, especially the US, are making the world situation worse by their wars and attempts to dominate. The time has come for the people of the world to join together and rise up to put an end to these cruel wars and make sure that the rights of all are protected as life is nurtured and made better. Some have feared that a world government would become too powerful and take away people's freedoms because the empires that have risen in world history by military power have been oppressive. Yet every attempt to dominate by means of force has brought a reaction from other people who have eventually overthrown these warlike empires. Now the United States and its capitalist allies are attempting to dominate the world by their military power, using the "war on terrorism" as an excuse to make the world a police state controlled by their power and influence. In my opinion as a philosopher the attempt to make the world "free" or "democratic" by force of arms is hypocritical and doomed to failure. The people of the United States have the responsibility to reverse these fascist tendencies that have led to the invasion and toppling of governments in other countries. The people of the world can also organize to overcome this latest attempt at militaristic imperialism. No nation or small group of nations has the right to dominate the world.

Thus I believe that the need to develop truly democratic world institutions is imperative at this stage in world history. We need to design carefully a constitution that can be democratically adopted by the people in all nations so that the rights and welfare of everyone are protected by its checks and balances. For this I believe we need much more than the debating society that is the United Nations. We need a constitutional government that is elected by all the people in the world and that has three independent branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) that can protect the rights of all and resolve all international disputes by democratic and judicial processes rather than by the massive violence of armed forces. The question is how long the people of the world will allow the rich and powerful to dominate their lives. By joining together to work for the good of all we can bring about radical changes by nonviolent means so that we can have a world of human equality and peaceful harmony that comes from the establishment of justice. Democracy means participation by the people in the making of important decisions that affect people's lives, and thus it is up to the people to make this come about by our participation in a world-wide movement to disarm the weapons, remove the violent politicians, and implement the new democratic institutions that will enable us to accomplish these goals.

I have drafted a proposed Constitution of the Federal Earth Democracy. I hope that this can be a starting point for discussion that could lead to a world constitutional convention that could agree on a constitution to be submitted for ratification to all the nations on Earth. These are only suggestions and can be modified by the process of discussion and negotiation. Yet I have drafted a compete document in order to facilitate the process of actually producing a document that most people can support. Ideas have been floating around for a long time. An attempt was made beginning in 1958 to call for a world constitutional convention. After preliminary congresses a convention met in 1968, but a first draft was not completed until 1974. A call for ratification of the second draft was issued in 1977, and a provisional world parliament first convened in 1982 with delegates from 25 countries. However, as the constitution was not widely recognized nor ratified by any government or majority of people in any nation, its meetings became more symbolic rather than a practical political organization. This attempt, though well intentioned, was not successful at winning over enough of world opinion to be politically effective.

The recent development of instant global communication through the world wide web that is spreading rapidly to millions of people every day has made it possible for the first time to have a discussion throughout the world without delays for transportation. Millions of people can express their views on any given issue, and good ideas can spread like lightning from east to west. The potential for coalescing a majority opinion in the world can now be made actual. New global institutions will emerge, one way or another. I am suggesting that we should make these as wise and nonviolent (loving) as possible for the good of all. I have faith that open discussion will produce better solutions and that people will be able to recognize what is likely to work best. Thus I present the first draft of the Constitution of the Federal Earth Democracy for the world's consideration.

The preamble states the main goals as

to establish justice and peace among nations,
provide for the common security,
resolve international disputes,
regulate international trade,
preserve the environment of the Earth,
protect human rights,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity

The constitution is federal in that it delegates powers to the democratically elected federal government of the Earth while reserving all other powers to the sovereignty of the people and their nations.

The legislative branch of the Federal Earth Democracy (FED) has two houses in order to distribute power to representatives based on population and those from geographic areas. The principle of one vote for each person in the world is the foundation of the Assembly of Representatives, which is based on population. Since it would be difficult for a legislative body with much more than a thousand members to function, each member represents ten million people. With the current world population of about six and a half billion people this means about 650 members would each have one vote. In addition nations with less than five million people would have a representative with each having one-half vote. Even nations with less than one million people would have a delegate with a voice in the debates but without a vote. An additional safeguard against an attempt to gain more votes by dividing into smaller nations, allows new nations with less than ten million people to have only one representative with one-half vote and new nations with less than five million people one non-voting representative. Currently there are 111 nations with more than five million people that would have at least one full-voting representative, and there are 45 nations with between one million and five million people that would have a representative with one half vote. Depending on what is considered a nation state, the other forty to sixty nations with less than one million people would be allowed to elect a non-voting representative.

The other legislative body in the Congress of the Federal Earth Democracy would be the Senate with 180 members. The people in nine regions (China, India, East Asia, North Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America) would elect twenty senators from each region by proportional representation so that each portion of the regions would have fair representation through the political parties that could muster about five percent or more of the vote. The Assembly of Representatives would be elected from districts within the nations every two years by instant run-off voting so that all parties would have a fair chance to be successful. The Senators would have six-year terms with three of the nine regions voting every two years. The Senators and Representatives will receive compensation from the Federal Earth Democracy, and to assure their independence they may not hold any other office in any nation or state while serving in the Congress of the Federal Earth Democracy. An additional safeguard against the corruption of money requires them to forgo any other income while in office.

The bicameral legislature requires a majority vote by both the Assembly and Senate to pass laws or resolutions. If the bill they pass is not approved by two-thirds of the Council of Nine Presidents, they may over-ride this veto by a vote of two-thirds in both houses. The Congress of the Federal Earth Democracy will have the power to tax international trade, borrow money, regulate international commerce, coin money and regulate currencies, fix the standards of weights and measures, protect the rights of inventors and authors, establish courts of international law below the Supreme Court, inspect and investigate compliance with treaties and violations of the laws of the Federal Earth Democracy, organize and equip peacekeeping missions to resolve international conflicts, and make laws necessary for carrying out its responsibilities.

The executive power is headed by the Council of Nine Presidents, who will be elected directly by the people voting in the nine regions. They serve six-year terms, and every two years three regions each elect one President. The largest region in population contains only the nation of China with a little over 1300 million people. The second largest is India and also includes Sri Lanka and the Maldives with a little more than 1100 million people. Third in population is East Asia with about 800 million, and it includes Japan, the Koreas, Southeast Asia, and the island nations of the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand. The region called Africa has about 700 million people; it includes all the nations in Africa except the North African countries that are in the Middle East region, which is fifth in population with about 570 million. Next in population is Europe with about 530 million including Turkey. The North America region includes the nations of Central America and has about 470 million people. The North Asia region has about 460 million people and includes Russia and many of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia plus Mongolia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. The smallest region by population is South America with a little over 400 million, and it includes the island nations of the Caribbean. Having nine regions electing Presidents and Senators is intended to help balance out the densely populated nations of Asia and Africa that are so strongly represented in the Assembly. As population becomes more evenly spread around the globe, the differences between the regions in population are likely to decrease.

I believe that the Council of Nine Presidents is better and safer than having a single president of the world or even a smaller number. Thus the Presidents of at least six regions must approve legislation (unless their veto is over-ridden), and also this two-thirds majority is needed for enforcing the laws of the Federal Earth Democracy.

The Supreme Court is the highest authority in the judicial branch of the Federal Earth Democracy. Nine judges serve nine-year terms, one being appointed each year by the President and Senators of each region with the advice and consent of three-fifths of the Senate. The judges may be reappointed. They have jurisdiction over all cases affecting international relations, the seas, and conflicts between nations and citizens of different nations. Levying war is considered treason against the Federal Earth Democracy. The Presidents and any officers of the Federal Earth Democracy may be impeached by the Assembly of Representatives for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, and those impeached are tried by the Supreme Court.

Many rights are explicitly protected in the Constitution of the Federal Earth Democracy including those in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Federal Earth Democracy guarantees the human rights of people of every nation under a republican form of government and will protect the people of each nation against invasion and domestic violence. The Constitution can be amended. It recognizes that all treaties made under the Federal Earth Democracy are the supreme law on Earth, and every nation will be bound by them.

Congress may not prohibit immigration that the nations permit nor may it suspend habeas corpus nor pass ex post facto laws. No nation will be allowed to send military forces outside their borders without the consent of Congress; neither may nations make military alliances with each other nor may they engage in war.

Congress may not establish any religion nor may it prohibit the free exercise of religion, and no religious test shall ever be required to hold an office in the Federal Earth Democracy. Freedom of speech, the press, and the right of people to assemble peaceably are guaranteed. No unreasonable searches or seizures may be granted. Every person has the right to a trial by jury, the assistance of counsel, and protection against self-incrimination and double jeopardy. Slavery is banned from the Earth, and the right to vote may not be denied "on account of race, color, sex, religion, political association, sexual orientation, or previous condition," nor to anyone eighteen or older because of age. The age limit is set in the elections of the Federal Earth Democracy so that no nation will attempt to get more votes in Presidential and Senatorial elections by lowering the age limit.

Every person on Earth has the right to attend free public schools, use free public libraries, and receive free health care. Congress may pass no law "interfering with a patient's right to be treated by a physician."

Election campaigns are to be publicly financed, and only small contributions by individuals are allowed for candidates in elections in which they are entitled to vote. Public debates and the publishing of sample ballots are financed by the Federal Earth Democracy. No candidate may keep campaign donations after the election, and no office holder may have any other income besides the compensation by the Federal Earth Democracy. These remedies are very important in order to remove the corruption of money interests from the political decision-making process.

Finally, to go into effect the Constitution of the Federal Earth Democracy must be ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the nations with more than one million people or by a majority vote of the citizens in three fourths of the nations with more than one million people.

The Federal Earth Democracy would hold elections in odd-numbered years with primaries in May and general elections in November. The Federal Earth Democracy could function in various locations by modern means of communication and eventually could choose its own capital for the Congress and Council of Nine Presidents and their administration, and the Supreme Court. Since the vast majority of human population is in the large land mass that makes up Asia, Europe, and Africa, the most practical location to make transportation most efficient might be somewhere in Central Asia or the Middle East. The idea occurred to me that Kashmir might elect to be an independent country, settle their religious conflicts, and perhaps become a central seat of government for the Federal Earth Democracy. If Kashmir did become an independent nation, I think that it could be part of the North Asia region.

As the Federal Earth Democracy begins to function, it could take over the agencies that have been a part of the United Nations framework, just as the UN took over the League of Nations agencies. The main purpose of the Federal Earth Democracy is to resolve international conflicts, and by reducing military violence and military expenditures it could allow needed development to alleviate poverty and provide health care and education for all. However, each nation would still maintain sovereignty over its own internal affairs as long as it did not violate human rights or attempt to foment the violence of war. The governments of the nations would decide what kind of social and economic systems they want to have by their own democratic processes. Only when a group of people attempts to force their way on others by using violence would the Federal Earth Democracy be allowed to intervene and bring the violators to justice through its courts. As long as the people on the Earth are peaceful, the budget of the Federal Earth Democracy can be small and its government very limited. The nations can provide their own systems of health care and education, but they may be assisted by wealthy nations, groups, and individuals.

Copyright © 2005 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book BEST FOR ALL: How We Can Save the World.
For information on ordering, please click here.

Global Emergency
Alleviating Poverty
Disarming Weapons of War
Creating Global Democracy
Reforming the US Constitution
Restoring Justice
Sustainable Economics
Freeing Communication
Spiritual Awakening
Nonviolent Strategies
Global Disarmament Treaty (first draft by Beck)
Constitution of the Federal Earth Democracy (first draft by Beck)
Constitution of the United States Revised (first draft by Beck)

BECK index