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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 6 August 2000

bulletFrom Readers
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bulletASSEMBLY 2000-2001
bulletAlliance in Motion
bulletViews on the Alliance
 · What kind?
 · Discussion Paper (Revised)
 · Brainstorming
 · Extra-nationality
 · Security
 · Crime Industry
 · Water management
 · No longer source of life
 · Water famine in India
 · African framework
 · Future of Nation-State
 · Social movements
 · World Social Forum
 · Political renewal
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An institutional proposal for global governance based on the European experience

Everywhere in the world, political power, as known by us, is in the process of "deconstruction". It is the consequence of important changes taking place before our eyes: the place taken by instant and world-wide dissemination of information today, privatisation of economy and even of traditionally regalian functions such as money and security. A political vacuum is being created and whether one likes it or not, it is being pervaded in disorder by new players, Multinationals, NGOs and traditional bureaucracies. It is therefore essential to reconsider the place of politics in the present and future. The European experience can be of use here.

This experience without precedent is based on the re-composition of the notion of power in two parts of equal authority and legitimacy : the power of those who propose and the power of those who dispose. In the case of Europe, the European Commission is the institution that proposes, and according to treaties, holds its legitimacy because its members are designated by heads of State and national governments, and the European Parliament ratifies and holds political control of their acts. This is a democratic expression of general will expressed through direct universal suffrage. The Council of Ministers represents national governments which in turn hold their legitimacy from their respective constitutional systems.

This system has the advantage of transforming the antagonism between the need and the will for interdependence and the demands for national sovereignty into an institutional co-operation. It was in 1973 during a workshop on the "global village" at Aspen in Colorado, that I developed and named this system as the concept of "extra-national". It has the advantage of not instituting authority over the above States (supranational) or not leading to paralysis o hegemony (inter-governmental). But it is placed on the outside so as to allow independent manifestation of common good and help governments to integrate it in their missions. This concept seems all the more necessary to study, since countries like the United States for instance, will refuse any superior authority.

If we want to set up such a system at the international level, it is important to form an opinion that will demand change. NGOs can contribute when their legitimacy is not at stake. Some people through their moral authority or the quality of their proposals can call for a large assembly of people using the international dimension (entrepreneurs, militant, humanitarian, political organisations, etc.). The aim would be to compile a "white book" after discussions, debates, confrontation of views and suggestions. This pioneering document could be proposed to Heads of State and Governments of member countries of the UNO and could serve as a common ground for the opening of negotiations thus allowing the setting up of the 3rd generation of international organisations.

Georges Berthoin (France)
Former Principal Secretary to Jean Monnet at the European Community, International President of the European Movement

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Security and global governance

The experiences of de-colonisation and the European construction makes us think of quitting progressively a military order and adopting a new order based on two principal pillars: the progress of democracy and the constitution of regional groups more prosperous and stable, though slow and chaotic but true and decisive. The two movements pursue and reinforce each other. Nevertheless several reports are perturbing:

  • The limits of democracy are real. For example, the Mafia having shown its fabulous capacity to adapt itself, some consider, particularly in Italy, that the struggle against the Mafia is lost. Also, when the affirmation of each people to take their destiny in their own hands can incite each province (like in Indonesia), to demand independence, creating along with it the risks of destabilisation which will equally have consequences outside the frontiers of the State concerned.

  • At the heart of a technical and organisational revolution considered to be much more important than the industrial revolution, globalisation is made responsible for grave social consequences (even the disappearance of the most weak - with the effect of a social darwinism). Sometime seen as an uniformisation, globalisation contributes to the contortion of identities and to the rise of intolerable nationalism.

The laborious construction of an art of peace forces us to stress upon three aspects of a global awareness of political responsibility.

Primordial knowledge

The creation of instruments of measurement, observatories and institutions adapted to new needs, is necessary within the framework of a many-sided effort towards education for peace meant not only for the future citizens but also for those who are responsible in all sectors of society.

Large scale programmes

Be it the case of Africa, a continent "on the drift", the transition to an ex-Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin wall or the rebirth of the Balkans out of their last wars, it is not possible to circumvent the allusion to the Marshall Plan. Given the fact that the greatest enemies of democracy are neither revolutionaries nor the army, but unemployment, hunger, religious or ideological intolerance and the mortal cycles of crises, is it not a question of converting the economies of war into economies of peace? Aren't the two main challenges of globalisation the fight against poverty and the setting up of an institutional global framework favouring a necessary solidarity?

The nerve of peace

The necessary financial means are to be found in a new direction which undoubtedly appeals to the interests of the companies by associating them with civil society and the government. This practise - which is of an entirely different nature than that of a specific patronage of little consequence, - should make a direct contribution to the development of peace, security and stability.

In the face of increasingly organised risks and challenges, the determination for a global governance must especially be inspired by an experience such as the European Union. Its political aim was security and peace which has definitely transformed the world landscape. And considering as a new step in the construction of a world society, political globalisation needs to be achieved.

Richard Pétris (France)
Animator of the workshop on "Conversion of the Arms Industry" of the Alliance, and Director of the School of Peace (Grenoble)

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The Crime Industry
Pioneer of globalisation and obstacle to global governance

Since the 60s, the crime industry has been a true pioneer of internationalisation. Dismantling of tariff walls by liberal leaders has allowed criminals to easily re-invest their profits in national legal economies. But it is primarily the development of offshore financial centres that has allowed escape from legal norms.

Affirming the sovereignty of fiscal paradise is quite paradoxical if we believe they decree legislation whose only aim is to allow escape - whatever be the motive - from legal norms of other countries. Their main operation is not, as we can see, fiscal evasion, but they serve as a refuge to the economics of crime. They are tolerated by the principal States because they put forward rules of an absolute sovereign State that is still the base for international relations. Indeed the States avoid confronting challenges of a true world governance. Mafias, big multinationals and States can, in some cases, be seen as accomplices; money from crime is the lubricant of the prodigious expansion of world capitalism in permanent partnership with transnationals where they have invested; banks manage their placement.

Creating specialised agencies against financial criminality, signing international conventions on the repression of corruption in international markets, deliberations and studies on the subject, have all proven to be useless. Inciting fiscal paradise to sign codes of good conduct seems equally ridiculous. The annual index of corrupters and the corrupt established by Transparency, an American organisation and a CIA correspondent is financed by big companies, mostly American. It has no other apparent aim than managing financial criminality that is henceforth integrated to internationalisation of markets. The only alternative would be to draw conclusions from internationalisation and make them admit that the international community has a right to impose minimal rules of a law State on gangster States and their accomplices (public and private). Probably citizens' action alone could alert public opinion on damages - that fiscal criminality has slapped on people - and the means to undo them.

* Based on Christian de Brie's report and edited with the permission of Le Monde Diplomatique.

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© 2000 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated October 22, 2000.