Nuclear disarmament, a world parliament and world peace

The "Good Defeats Evil" sculpture located at UN Headquarters in New York. Image: UN/Ingrid Kasper

The tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty opened in early August with a stark warning from UN Secretary-General António Guterres of nuclear danger “not seen since the height of the Cold War.”

It is a time, he said, “when the risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening.  And when crises – with nuclear undertones – are festering, from the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and to many other factors around the world.” 

With almost 13,000 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”, according to Guterres. 

The goal of total nuclear disarmament

On August 5, an open letter was presented to the review conference in New York which was signed by over 1,400 political, military and religious leaders, as well as legislators, academics, scientists, business leaders, youth, lawyers, artists, Nobel Laureates and other representatives of civil society, among them the Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders, Andreas Bummel.

The letter, organized by the No First Use campaign, calls on governments to “end the nuclear arms race and phase out the role of nuclear weapons in security policies starting with no-first-use” and to “commit to a timebound framework for the global elimination of nuclear weapons no later than 2045.”

According to a long-term Theory of Change developed by Democracy Without Borders, it could be possible to achieve, by 2045, “a democratic world constitution” that enables “a democratic, peaceful, just, free and sustainable global community.” This would require and allow for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, Bummel commented.

In the book “A World Parliament” authored by Jo Leinen, a former Member of the European Parliament, and Andreas Bummel, the authors write in a chapter on nuclear disarmament that “the abolition of nuclear weapons once and for all, so important for the survival of world civilization, requires the transformation of the international order into a system of world law.” They go on to explain that “an enduring world peace would have to be built on four main pillars: worldwide arms control; democratic global institutions that enable a fair reconcilitation of interests and can make binding laws; obligatory recourse to international courts for the peaceful resolution of conflicts; and supranational powers of enforcement through police and military means.”

The role of a world parliament

This short excerpt from the book elaborates on the role of a world parliament:

“The well-known US American astrophysicist Carl Sagan was one of the first people to study the phenomenon of ‘nuclear winter’. In view of the threat of an atomic war between the USA and the Soviet Union, he emphasized in his 1982 world bestseller ‘Cosmos’ that ‘the welfare of our civilization and our species is in our hands’. As a supporter of world government, however, he was painfully aware that ‘humanity’ as a collective is not represented in the political order. ‘We know who speaks for the nations’, Sagan wrote. ‘But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?’ he asked, unable to answer his own question. Filling this gap would be the task of a world parliament. The worldwide programme of ‘general and complete disarmament’ must be accompanied by the formation of a political community. 

Through cosmopolitan institutions such as a global parliamentary assembly, mutual understanding and a sense of shared community across national and cultural borders can gradually be strengthened, leading to growing levels of the cooperation and trust necessary for progress in demilitarization and disarmament. The assembly itself should play a leading role in the development of a ‘comprehensive programme for disarmament’, as called for already by the tenth special session of the UN General Assembly, and should contribute to mobilising the necessary political will. Government bodies like the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, which also operates on the principle of consensus, are trapped in a dead end. Not the least important of the arguments for a world parliament is that it would constitute in itself one of the essential core institutions of the emerging system of world law. It should participate in decision-making on coercive measures and on peacekeeping missions and should exercise parliamentary control over international armed forces and their operations. Supranational global armed forces must be parliamentary armed forces.”

The book “A World Parliament: Governance and Democracy in the 21st Century” by Jo Leinen and Andreas Bummel was published in 2018 and is available in all online bookstores. A second edition is anticipated to appear in 2023.