World’s largest school in India hosts conference on UN reform

Students present an appeal in the auditorium hall. Photo copyright: City Montessori School

At an international conference organized by City Montessori School in Lucknow, India, participants from over 50 countries engaged with hundreds of students on the question of how to make global governance more effective and accountable.

With over 60,000 students, the school is said to be the largest worldwide. At a public event, over 1,000 of them participated in performances under the theme of achieving world unity in diversity. 

In an appeal presented at a plenary session, student representatives expressed “solidarity with the efforts to reform the Charter of the United Nations so that the outdated international governance structures can be transformed to reflect a just, principled, representative, and accountable global order.”

The school’s president, Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, addresses the participants following their arriva. Photo copyright: City Montessori School

“The international community must overcome the reluctance to discuss UN Charter reform”, the appeal said.

The school’s founder Jagdish Gandhi stressed that “the world today is passing through probably the most difficult phase in human history when the very survival of humanity is gravely endangered.” 

He said that “enforceable world law” was required which would need to be enacted by a “world parliament” and interpreted by a strengthened International Court of Justice.

The creation of a world parliament was touched on in numerous speeches and presentations. 

Students carry UN flags at the “World Unity March” held on the occasion of the conference. Photo copyright: City Montessori School

Participants of the International Conference of Chief Justices of the World, convened for the 24th time, included numerous judges from their countries’ highest courts. 

The school’s president Geeta Gandhi Kingdon pointed out that it would be legal experts such as those gathered at the conference who will likely be consulted in redrafting the UN Charter and creating the “world’s constitution.”

A final declaration signed by various judges among other things urged “members of the judiciary of the world” to “uphold the rule of law and to promote respect for dignity of all persons.” 

Some of the participants came from countries that are ruled autocratically and are considered “not free” politically. In these and other countries, the independence of the judiciary and human rights are under threat.

The outcome document called on governments “to take concrete steps” for a review of the UN Charter and to work “for a democratically elected world parliament”, among other things.

At one of the thematic sessions, a participant from civil society urged the students to “take the inspiration and appreciate the rhetoric” offered by some of the international guests at the conference but “never stop thinking critically about the source” as there might be a dissonance between the international rhetoric and real action at home.

The conference was convened from 1-7 November 2023 with the first session being held in New Delhi.