Friday 25 October 2019 Democracy Without Borders-Sweden arranged a manifestation outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. The manifestation promoted the establishment of a World Parliament as a way to deal with global challenges such as climate change.
Here is the speech that I delivered at the manifestation.
We have called for this demonstration because we are increasingly concerned about the climate crisis and the future of the planet. But not only about the ecological crisis and all the negative consequences that climate change already brings with it and which we fear will worsen. We are also concerned about a variety of societal challenges such as increasing inequality, nuclear threats and geopolitical instability, as well as pressures on democratic movements and institutions in many parts of the world. But we are not here today just because we are worried. Above all, it is because we have seen how much good people can achieve when they come together in common positive efforts, and because we believe that we can still steer our global future into a positive direction.
Democracy Without Borders – Sweden was founded in spring 2018 as a national branch of the international organisation Democracy Without Borders. We are committed to democratic development at all levels of society, with special attention to the global level. We believe that a crucial key consists in establishing and gradually developing a world parliament with the mandate to represent us as citizens of the world and with the mandate to make binding decisions worldwide on a limited number of issues affecting all of humanity.
We do not comment on specific climate policy proposals. We are not a political party and we do not believe that it is us who will constitute the world parliament. These proposals include a global CO2 tax and globally coordinated investment in green technologies. I do not actually believe that there is a lack of good ideas. What we lack are institutions that can translate these ideas into global policy. That is the gap that a world parliament would fill.
Well, many people are certainly wondering, ok, but how on earth could we set up a world parliament? We do not believe that this is an easy thing or that it can be achieved overnight. We believe in gradual development and we believe that if we want to make progress we must build on the existing foundation, the United Nations. A first pragmatic step which in principle is already feasible is the establishment of a consultative United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA). A UNPA can be established in accordance with the UN Charter, by a decision of the UN General Assembly and thus without the possibility of one of the Security Council’s veto rights being used to obstruct this process. A UNPA would not be a perfect institution, but it would apply a number of democratic criteria to ensure its democratic status and direction. Among other things, the members of a UNPA would come from both the government and the opposition in UN member states. This would be a democratic complement to the UN General Assembly and the Security Council, in which only the governments of the member states are represented. I suggest that those member states that do not meet these democracy criteria can leave their seats vacant. A UNPA could also invite representatives of civil society and the opposition from undemocratic states and thus support democratic development at the national level. The members of a UNPA would not unite according to their nationality, but according to their political orientation, since their task would be to represent global, not national, interests. In this way, a UNPA would not replace the UN General Assembly, but complement it well. The former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, envisaged this as two chambers in a global parliamentary structure: a House of Lords, the General Assembly representing the governments of the member states, and a House of Commons, UNPA, representing the individual and united humanity. Although a UNPA would initially be primarily advisory, its proposals would have great moral weight in the climate issue, for example. As the assembly gains greater legitimacy in the eyes of the world’s population, its mandate can also be extended. The long-term vision is a directly elected world parliament capable of taking decisions.
The campaign for the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, the UNPA Campaign, was supported by more than 1,600 parliamentarians from more than 130 countries, as well as a number of UN officials, Nobel laureates and prominent representatives of civil society. Over the years, several parliaments have adopted resolutions in support of the proposal, including the Argentine Senate, the Canadian House of Commons, the German Parliament, the European Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament. Support for the proposal is growing, but we need to create much stronger and broader public support to put enough pressure on our decision-makers to raise the issue within the UN. That is what Democracy Without Borders is working for.
I think there are many of us who are deeply moved by the power of Greta Thunberg and the global youth movement that has emerged around her. A little over a year ago Greta sat here before the Swedish Parliament with her sign: ‘school strike for the climate’. At first she was all alone, but slowly the crowd grew. In spring and autumn millions of people gathered for demonstrations for a sustainable world. We must now help each other, young and old, to use the positive power of this movement together.
In the windows here behind me, the Swedish Parliament has organised an exhibition commemorating the electoral reforms and the breakthrough of democracy in Sweden 100 years ago. Finally, after many years of struggle, Swedish men and women were given the opportunity to vote for their parliamentarians and to participate in and influence Swedish politics. The Swedish Parliament remains an important democratic institution. But it cannot do much for our global challenges.
“We must promote the democratisation of globalisation before globalisation destroys the foundations of national and international democracy. The establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations has become an indispensable step towards democratic control of globalisation”.
These words are not mine, but from the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in connection with the launch of the UNPA campaign. It is long overdue to raise our voices for global democracy.
In conclusion, I believe that you who are here are already engaged in many ways. But I would nevertheless ask you to take two steps into account: Firstly, to sign the UNPA campaign’s call for the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. Secondly, to become a member of democracy without borders. We must be many, and we must work together to be successful.