Podium: Make the UN a world government

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Titus Alexander

From a speech by the chair of the Charter for Global Governance, delivered at the

House of Commons

OUR PRESENT system of global governance is unjust, ineffective and extremely dangerous. Most of the harm is done to other people, in what I call the "Majority World", who are largely excluded from international decision-making. To tackle the serious issues facing humanity - climate change, environmental degradation, malnutrition, poverty and war - we need democratic reform of the global constitution, so that all people have equal rights in creating solutions that meet everyone's needs.

The G8 leaders are meeting in Germany. Although they represent less than 12 per cent of world population, they decide global policy on most issues through the central banking system, OECD, Nato and a host of other institutions.

They dominate the UN Security Council, with four out of five permanent members, who can veto any decision. Sixty per cent of the permanent members are European (to which our government wants to add Germany and Japan!). The UN was set up "to maintain international peace and security", but it did not prevent the killing of more than 30 million people in armed conflict since 1945, including the genocide in Rwanda. War continues in Angola, central Africa, Sudan and elsewhere. The most powerful members of the Security Council are also the world's biggest arms traders. They pursue their own interests, selling weapons around the world.

The Western minority also dominates global economic decision-making, through the IMF, the World Bank, the central banking system, transnational corporations and the G8 itself. Their decisions on interest rates, finance and trade affect most people in the world, who have no say. Western decisions created the debt burden, which forces the world's poorest into debt slavery to the rich. Western economic policies enable us to buy low-priced goods from the rest of the world, while protecting us from too much competition.

Most rules governing international trade, finance and the movement of people are designed to protect Western interests. Western countries have a welfare state to aid its citizens, even redistributing resources to poorer countries of Europe, but excluding economic migrants and giving little aid to the very much poorer people of the Majority World.

The danger now is that global economic competition is increasing political pressures for one-sided protectionism in the West. When economic growth falters, more people will turn to populists, nationalists or racists for protection. The political agenda of Pat Buchanan in the US and exclusive nationalists in Europe will look attractive to many.

The response to these concerns must be found within an equitable, non- discriminatory framework of international law governing trade as well as security, environmental protection and human rights. Increased competition means that everyone fights for themselves and their particular interests, a fight in which the strongest or smartest may win in the short term, but in which all could lose before the fighting is finished.

To tackle the enormous problems facing the planet, we need a vision of effective, democratic global governance and the courage to give up western privileges for the greater good of humanity. The UN Special Assembly next year will be an opportunity to make global constitutional reform a priority.

The ideological battles of the passing century have been over the role of the state and markets at a national level. The new century must resolve these issues at a global level through a democratic constitution.

All regions of the world should be represented equally on the Security Council, and the veto should be phased out and peace building capacity increased, as recommended by the Commission on Global Governance.

Multilateral institutions governing the environment and the economy should be made strong, democratic and directly accountable to the people, while the exclusive powers of the central banking system, G7, IMF, OECD and world bank should be relinquished. Above all, the Government needs to invest political will into creating a fair and effective UN, so that Nato can never again say that it had no alternative but to go it alone.

The Charter for Global Governance sets out the components for a constitution. We will be seeking support to put these issues on the agenda.