Taking Democracy Global: Assessing the Benefits and Challenges of a Global Parliamentary Assembly

Taking Democracy Global: Assessing the Benefits and Challenges of a Global Parliamentary Assembly

By Andrew Strauss

We publish below an extract from a new pamphlet published by the One World Trust.

Increasingly the world’s diverse political communities – local, provincial and national – have at their common core a popularly elected legislative body. This Booklet is dedicated to the proposition that the increasingly powerful international system should no longer stand apart from the movement to democratize planetary social life.

Justifying this proposition are the twin realizations that a Global Parliamentary Assembly (GPA) is becoming increasingly desirable and that it is now possible. In the discussion that follows I will first turn to desirability, making the case in Part I for why a GPA would lead to a more democratic, effective and peaceful global political order. This case will be tempered by realism. There is little value to fantasizing about the benefits of a chimerical organization whose creation cannot overcome the hurdle of political feasibility. Thus, in pointing out the potential benefits to be derived from a GPA, I will assume a popularly elected representative body that will begin very modestly with largely advisory powers, and that following the trajectory of the European Parliament, would only gain powers slowly over time. Then, in Part II of the Booklet I will segue into the practical discussion of how it is possible to create such a modestly empowered organization given present day political realities. Specifically, I will assess the relative feasibility of four approaches to the Parliament’s creation.

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In this Booklet I have attempted to make the case for a GPA and to identify and assess different options for how such a project might be brought to fruition. My goal has not been to provide final answers but to further a concrete discussion about how the democratization of the global system might be best accomplished.

It is paradoxical that while the global democratic deficit has been widely acknowledged as one of the major concerns of our times, there has been almost no discussion about how to remedy it. What has been offered has been either hopelessly vague and platitudinous or suggestive of reforms so minor as to have almost no real impact. While this has been occurring those forces of fear, militarism and statist domination have been decidedly clear and directed in working out and trying to implement their approaches. If those of us favoring democratic, internationalist solutions to global problems wish to prevail, we must find the resolve to begin a serious discussion about bold, concrete and practical solutions. It is in this spirit that I have written this Booklet.

Andrew Strauss is a professor of international law at Widener University School of Law. The views expressed in this pamphlet are the views of the author only and do not necessarily reflect those of Federal Union or the One World Trust. July 2005.

Read the whole pamphlet as a pdf at Taking Democracy Global

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