Adapted from UNGA-Link UK Newsletter, March 2003
Governments and other rulers through the ages have failed to adopt the ethical affirmations of Isaiah (800 BC), Comenius (c.1650) and Immanuel Kant (c.1790) or the global aspirations of The Hague International Peace Conferences (1899 and 1907), the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928), the Disarmament Conferences (1932-1936), the League of Nations and the United Nations. Moreover, the UN General Assembly turned down proposals for a linked UN Second (Peoples) Assembly (MAPW 1983, INFUSA 1985-89 and CAMDUN 1990), annual We the Peoples Assembly of selected UN-NGOs (Harold Stassen 1994) and annual World Civil Society Forum (Commission on Global Governance, 1995).
The underlying cause of these failures could be that ‘civilisation’ has an inherited system of power-politics, nowadays strengthened by governmental links with military-industrial complexes. Moreover, civilisation makes individuals a subject of a state at birth and most retain a life-long allegiance to it. Governments have no option but to operate this inherited system. Thus an end to the world system of power-politics is not in sight so that the role of ‘the peoples’ should be to mitigate its violent consequences – wars, other armed conflicts and terrorism – by participation in global governance, primarily in the UN.
(See UN-NGO calls…) for a chronology from1945 to 2005 of 33 calls for such participation. Among these is UNGA-Link’s proposal for a World Civil Society Union which could seek observer status at the UN General Assembly (parallel to that held by the Inter-Parliamentary Union). This is unique among the 33 in that it requires civil society, not the UN, to initiate the process of participation in global governance. (See To UN-CS panel, JS Cardoso-appraisal and World Civil Society Union for relevant statements).
A recognised institutional status with the UN would be essential for the Union to have a counteracting influence on power-politics, as without this it would be ignored by the media and therefore the general public. We have a tough job to do but it is not impossible as it is our friends and colleagues we have to convince, not reactionary governments!
Jeffrey J. Segall,
Co-founder of CAMDUN and Honorary Consultant of UNGA-Link UK