Project Note

Discussion with the Council of the World Federalist Movement

in Program

On 10 November 2014, The Hague Institute for Global Justice convened members of the World Federalist Movement Council to discuss the themes and issues to be addressed by the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance. Dr. Abiodun Williams, President of The Hague Institute, delivered opening remarks, which were followed by a presentation on the Commission by Dr. Richard Ponzio, Head of Global Governance at The Hague Institute, and Dr. Joris Larik, Senior Researcher at The Hague Institute. Respondents included Fernando A. Iglesias, Chair of the Council, and William R. Pace, Executive-Director, of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP). The introductory remarks were followed by a rich exchange of ideas, resulting in the identification of a set of recommendations and key issues for the Commission’s policy reform and research agenda.

William Pace voiced concern that criticism of multilateralism, in particular the United Nations, has reached a universal high, while its defenders largely fail to speak up. He expressed his hope that the Commission will re-inspire those who share progressive goals for global governance and multilateralism by addressing, in particular:

  1. The issue of regional organizations and international governance, given the clear examples of problems faced by regional organizations in relation to the UN Security Council.
  2. The sub-regional level.
  3. The issue of subsidiarity, including both the interplay of the Rome Statute’s complementarity system and subsidiarity in global governance at large.
  4. R2P. The U.S. Government has been trying to carry forward R2P in the framework of Counter-Terrorism, which pits the U.S. against European countries.
  5. The Trusteeship Council. The Council had a specific purpose in the UN charter, but now seems increasingly outdated to deal with current challenges. How to deal with failed states, for example?
  6. The ICJ and its advisory opinions.
  7. Article 24 of the UN Charter on functions and powers of the UN Security Council, which states that the Council shall act in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter. The current use of the veto, however, does not seem to square with these principles.

Fernando Iglesias argued that the current global situation resembles the beginning of the 20th century, a period in which the breakdown of Pax Britannica was accompanied by a sequence of two world wars. The similar perceived deterioration of the major power system, the breakdown of the Pax Americana, is contributing to the current crises and wars in Syria, Ukraine, Libya and Gaza, reflecting a multipolar system where everybody is vying for their own interests. Therefore, the Commission should focus on “peace” and the “rule of law” as main issues. Mr. Iglesias referred to the potential of a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) as a driving force behind UN reform and change, as well as the importance of regional integration.

The roundtable discussion further led to a number of other recommendations and issues for consideration by the Commission:

The question of borders, including mass migration. The dichotomy of the current status of borders is that on the one hand, these borders are a sacrosanct element of nation-states; whereas, on the other, these same borders are causing major problems, because of the haphazard way in which they were created, separating ethnic groups and causing unfair divisions of natural resources.

Post-Westphalian problems and the issue of the nation-state. Many current conflicts are intra-state rather than inter-state. It is remarkable that often those who instigate a conflict do not want to dominate but wish to cause just enough trouble to get a place at the table. Such issues, related to the critiques of “multistakeholderism”, are creating new problems that require a different focus.

Building on the previous point, another recommendation is to focus on non-state actors. The process of globalization has shown a contradiction between, on the one hand, markets and civil society as global actors, and, on the other, states as players who remain nationally focused. An erosion of national sovereignty was observed, a consequence of which will be that non-state actors might come to dominate the world’s political arena. An important example can be found in the rise of organized crime, which is functioning mostly beyond the grasp of states.

The issue of religion and its impact on conflict.

The UN Security Council and the Permanent Five (“P5”): Concerns were raised about the procedural requirements necessary to achieve Security Council reform as being a deliberate attempt by the P5 to maintain the status quo.

The Commission was commended for its approach to provide a sustainable and dynamic coalition and continue its work for at least five years beyond the launch of its report.

It was recommended to think of innovations that could be built into the current system to drive new reforms (“rolling reforms”). For example, one should look at a future UN Parliamentary Assembly as a way to create a dynamic for ongoing reforms and a step toward bringing citizen representatives into the UN.

It was predicted that information and cyber governance would be even more critical issues in the future, while a crisis in terms of internet governance was observed. Therefore, it was suggested to develop principles for governance in this domain.

On peacekeeping, the importance of standing capacities was mentioned to address problems in the areas of rapid deployment and to catalyze the development and institutionalization of good practices.

The Commission was also advised to address the issue of military intervention.

One member of the WFM Council recommended the creation of a UN administrative reserve forum. Peacekeeping missions are currently dealing with conflict but not with underlying sources, leading to persistent conflict relapse. A reserve forum would recruit mid-level civil servants to be trained in an administrative reserve academy. Through Memoranda of Understanding between the UN and their host institutions, these civil servants could contribute to leading a country from conflict into recovery.

The WFM Council was interested in the views and work of the Commission on public education and how the Commission would inform the public about its work.

The importance of strengthening the International Criminal Court was also emphasized. One participant expressed his wish to join efforts on this issue, as well as his hope to see a strategy on how to strengthen the relation between a strengthened Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and the UN Security Council.

In conclusion, colleagues from The Hague Institute welcomed the recommendations and insights presented, which will be shared with the Commission. They encouraged World Federalist Movement Council Members and affiliate national bodies to further contribute to the work of the Commission, including through the promotion of its recommendations, beginning in June 2015, and the building of coalitions for global governance reform.

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