People’s Global Authority
… an Earthian Manifesto Design Project
What is a People’s Global Authority?
Why is a PGA necessary?
What are the potential benefits?
What are the components of a PGA ?
What areas could be included under a PGA?
What are some of the issues of a PGA ?
— Issue: Legitimacy, justification and the concept of sovereignty
— Issue: The rule of law and individual accountability
— Issue: The balance between participative and representative democracy
How would a PGA be financed?
What are the obstacles and areas of concern?
What about other approaches? — World Parliament, UN People’s Assembly, etc.
What are the major issues?
Where do we begin?
Where can I learn more?
Increasing numbers of people are realizing that “business and politics as usual” is not solving humanity’s pressing global problems. Our nation/state and corporate/economic systems seemed to be designed for another era, and simply “adjusting” these systems will not fix their structural design flaws or operational shortcomings. The competitive and exploitative nature of these systems, combined with a reliance on continuing growth and consumption, make them unsustainable. These factors, along with individual motivations, encourage leaders to focus on short-term results — the next election or the next quarter’s numbers. It is difficult to make good long-term decisions and do what is necessary if it leaves one’s country, political party or business at a competitive disadvantage.
As William Catton remarked “political and corporate thinking does not include the concept of Earth’s carrying capacity. They spend nature’s resources like they are income — instead of preserving the capital and living off the interest. It’s easy to do, because posterity doesn’t vote. So the living go on stealing from their descendants.”
The reality is that solutions to the long-term, structural problems of global warming, water scarcity, peak oil, mass poverty, war and aggression and exhaustion of earth’s resources are constantly deferred — or met with ineffective token gestures. A new approach is needed to solve these problems in an effective and timely manner.
A People’s Global Authority (PGA) represents an inspiring addition to the existing systems and is designed to be fair, inclusive and effective. It signifies an evolution in humankind’s maturity, global sensibility and cooperative action. It is based on “bottom-up” leadership, and harnesses the participation, creativity and initiative of the world’s people.
For the first time in history, we now have the tools to do this — the internet and mobile telephones. It is now possible for “networked humanity” to use online participative democracy to express opinions and vote on specific issues, strategies and targets.
A People’s Global Authority is a sovereign authority created and controlled by the people of the world through participative democracy and decision-making. It is responsible for creating and enforcing global laws and standards which apply to all nations, corporations and individuals. Establishing the PGA will involve the transference of certain jurisdictions presently controlled by nation/state governments and international organizations to a global sovereign power.
The establishment of a People’s Global Authority does not involve the elimination of nation/state, local or regional governments. Each level of government, as well as certain international organizations, have specific jurisdictions and responsibilities.
The goal of this project is to explore different approaches for a PGA system — and to design a system and implementation strategy for presentation to the people of the world. The objective is to make tangible progress towards realizing the Earthian Society vision: preserve the earth, live sustainably within its carrying capacity, and ensure physical and economic security for all.
This brief overview provides some context and background information, and should be viewed as a starting point for ES discussions. The ideas presented here will be changed, enhanced or dropped as ES members explore the subject. All paradigms and assumptions regarding existing nation/state and economic systems are open to examination. Various strategies from the world’s leading thinkers and institutions will be reviewed.
- Structural and operational weaknesses in existing nation/state governance and corporate/economic systems when viewed from a global perspective. These include a competitive, growth-oriented system that is rapidly depleting the finite resources of our planet … and a strategy of promoting more consumption in an era where we have already exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet.
- Ineffective or destructive responses by the leaders of nation/states and corporations to a number of pressing global problems. These include a focus on short-term results and an unwillingness to consider long-term, effective solutions. Many of today’s leaders have a vested interest in the status quo.
- Lack of a global authority that effectively and directly deals with global problems. A global authority would be responsible for law making and enforcement in areas such as war and aggression, arms trade, carbon emissions, energy standards, wealth distribution, etc.
“Law enforcement should be embedded in the context of a genuine global democracy — a global governing structure that represents the will and reflects the sovereignty of the world’s people.” — Jeremy Tetalman and Byron Belitsos
- Lack of individual accountability when global laws are broken. A PGA would have these capabilities.
- Lack of time. The problems of global warming, water scarcity and forest depletion are getting worse. The opportunity to solve critical global issues will become more difficult and expensive as they grow bigger — and ignoring them will not make them go away. The present leadership strategy of avoiding unpopular decisions and passing them on to the next leader is ineffective and guarantees the problems will only get worse.
- A parallel strategy to the “silo” approach. Progressives in the peace, poverty, disease, global warming, wildlife, human rights and globalization movements send a multitude of demands to powerholders to change the existing system. To date, powerholders have been able to ignore, postpone or placate these demands with token gestures. As a parallel strategy, a PGA could function as a unified voice for all NGO’s and progressives, and build the mass of people necessary to demand legitimate decision-making power. The PGA could be designed to include most of the NGO goals under a global authority with enforceable global laws and individual accountability.
- The PGA approach focuses on solving the problem, not merely treating the symptoms. The problem is the structure and operation of existing nation/state and corporate/economic systems. The symptoms include wars, conflicts, global warming, exhausting the earth’s resources and ongoing poverty. Transferring certain jurisdictions of the existing systems to a better-designed, better functioning and more inclusive PGA system with enforceable global laws could be an effective, long-term solution. With internet and mobile technology, we now have the tools to do this on a global scale.
- Lack of input by the world’s people on the global level. An individual’s voice and vote are non-existent regarding global issues that affect everyone. As George Monbiot remarked “everything has been globalized except our consent”.
- World peace and security — An end to war, military aggression and the arms trade. Outlawing war will allow a vast shift of resources from the war system to the betterment of the human condition and preservation of the planet.
- Alleviate extreme poverty — A wealth transfer mechanism could provide funds for education, healthcare, family planning, etc. This would help reduce population growth and terrorism.
- Reduced global warming — Enforceable global laws and operating standards regarding carbon emissions for transportation and power generation.
- Improved environmental protection — Protecting vulnerable forests, coral reefs, wetlands, etc. from abuse and exploitation.
- Individual involvement in global issues and solutions — People will see the transparency and simplicity of the process, and know their opinions will be heard and their vote does count.
- Give youth a reason for optimism and hope — The PGA could be an inspiring project for the world’s youth.
- A PGA Constitution — The set of fundamental rules and principles by which the PGA is organized. It establishes the extent and rights of the PGA, its organization, operations and power of it’s legislative, executive and judicial components.
- An Online, Global Participative Process — For evaluating and ranking agenda items, solutions and strategies, and implementation alternatives. The core components include survey and voting applications, discussion forums and reference information.
- A Law-making Process — To create enforceable global laws. Multinational treaties and UN Security Council resolutions lack the force of law and simply cannot carry out these tasks. (see Note 1).
- Law Enforcement and Prosecution — The rule of law and justice maintained on a global level. These global laws could potentially be upheld by organizations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) or similar bodies. (see Note 2)
- Policing and Monitoring — A standing global security force and standards/compliance monitoring team under PGA supervision. The security force could be used for helping the poor and/or disaster recovery operations when not needed in policing operations.
- Commons Management Systems — Cap and trade, trusts, etc. to preserve global commons assets, permit controlled access and limit withdrawals/additions to sustainable levels.
- Implementation Teams or Committees — Appointed by the PGA to oversee the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of PGA decisions.
- Global “Scorecards” — These would show key result areas and the progress towards meeting agreed upon future targets. Quantity and standards-type targets are set by a global participative process that balances enjoying benefits today against conserving our planet and resources for future generations. Scorecards are based on the premise that areas that get measured get attention. In the words of Steven Covey “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” A sample PGA scorecard is shown here.
Nation/State War and Aggression
- Nation/state war and aggression — Our present anarchic system of nationalism and war is unlikely to bring humankind a lasting peace. Under a People’s Global Authority, war and aggression crimes would be dealt with by a world police force and court system
- Control of the arms trade and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear bombs and landmines
- Carbon emission controls for transportation, industrial and power generation plants (see Note 3)
- “Commons” management to prevent ocean pollution, fisheries depletion and the militarization/commercialization of space
- Ecosystem protection of rainforests, old growth forests, coral reefs, wetlands and other endangered ecosystems; creating world parks and protected areas
- Wealth transfer mechanisms and aid agreements for developing nations
- Modification and/or removal of agricultural subsidies and trade barriers against developing nation agricultural products
- New agreements regarding developing nation debt loads, repayment capabilities and loan qualifying requirements (IMF and World Bank)
- Taxation plans such as a carbon emission tax, currency exchange tax (Tobin tax), global estate tax, etc.
- Trade and tariff laws
- Regulations for International currency and investment flows
- Global corporate charter legislation that includes accountability to other stakeholders including workers, communities and environmental representatives — for any company operating internationally
- Global labor and environmental laws
- Internet — Control of the network and DNS servers
- World population growth — Growth guidelines; women’s education; family planning
Discussion Topic: A core package could include: military aggression and arms trade restrictions; carbon emission controls on autos and industrial/power plants; energy usage standards for appliances; and a wealth transfer system (using global taxation) to help the poor.
Issue: Legitimacy, authority and the concept of sovereignty
Legitimacy and justification for a PGA rests on one basic premise: The people of the world, humankind, are the true sovereigns of this planet — not nation/state politicians or the elite. This implies that sovereignty does not end with nation/states, but that all individuals have sovereign rights as citizens of the world. We do not require permission from any nation/state leaders, or other organizations, to exercise these basic sovereign rights.
A PGA will question the legitimacy of nation/state politicians or their appointees to make global laws and standards, as this is not their jurisdiction. Due to the lack of a sovereign global entity, they appointed themselves for this role — without the consent of the people. As a result, humanity has little or no input on global decisions that affect us all. With the reality of “networked humanity” we now have the tools and the legitimacy to do this ourselves.
The PGA will derive its power and authority from the “consent of the governed”, which includes all the world’s people. Global acceptance of a PGA Constitution would give it legitimate and legal authority, and ensure that it’s global laws and standards are binding worldwide.
The challenge will be for the PGA to gain global awareness and influence. The PGA must inform and educate the public about the true global situation, prospects for the future, and the potential of the PGA to make constructive changes in a fair and inclusive manner. People should understand that the PGA empowers all individuals with the opportunity, and perhaps the sense of duty, to participate in global decision-making.
“There are ultimately only two permanent and functional levels of sovereignty: the free will of the individual person – the “citizen of the world” – and the collective sovereignty of humankind as a whole … If the scaffolding of any intervening and transitory level of sovereignty prevents forward progress, then the people of the world have the sovereign right to discard or reform it.” (from One World Democracy by Jeremy Tetalman and Byron Belitsos)
“We wish to remind the world’s political and corporate leaders that the authority of the state and the powers of the private corporation are grants extended to these institutions by the sovereign people, by civil society, to serve the collective human interest. It is the people’s right to demand that governments and corporations remain accountable to the public will and interest.” (The People’s Earth Declaration – A Proactive Agenda for the Future)
Discussion Topic — How will the PGA gain legitimacy, authority and power? Should a global referendum be considered? Permanent People’s Tribunal involvement?
Issue: The rule of law and individual accountability
The rule of law — Enforceable global laws may be the only means by which humanity will be able to establish lasting world peace, control the carbon emissions responsible for global warming and manage the “commons” including the oceans, fisheries and space. These world laws, created and upheld by a People’s Global Authority, would replace existing international laws and would apply uniformly to the whole world.
Individual accountability — Perpetrators of military attacks and killing, global pollution and labor exploitation are specific individuals. The lack of individual accountability under enforceable global law is a major factor in many of the global problems we face.
Issue: The balance between participative and representative democracy
The issue is how to combine these two types of democracy into the PGA process of agenda setting, solution analysis/decision-making and implementation (policies, projects, laws, compliance, enforcement, etc.). It is proposed that the Earthian Society style of global, participative democracy be used for agenda setting, solution analysis and decision-making. This approach is based on the belief that citizens do not really govern themselves unless they directly decide on laws and policies that affect them. It supports the view that direct political activity is valuable in itself, it socializes and educates citizens, and popular participation can check powerful elites. However, due to the complexity and details involved in implementation, and the expertise and specialist knowledge required, some form of representation and/or committees may be required. This will be an important factor in the design of the PGA system.
Discussion Topic — How will representatives and committees be used? What duties and responsibilities? How will they be selected?
- Taxation — Tobin currency exchange tax, global estate tax, etc.
- Funding from governments
- Grants from institutions and individuals
- Awareness and understanding by humankind — Understanding the severity our present situation, the inability of our present systems to solve these problems and the benefits that a PGA offers.
- People may fear “rule by foreigners” — People fear that power may transfer to the most populous countries. This fear is unfounded. The major strategies and decisions of a PGA are decided on by the global people on an issue-by-issue basis. Studies have shown people will vote on the issues, not their nationality. In fact, there are no national representatives or politicians in the proposed PGA design. Developing nations and indigenous people are very concerned about environmental destruction, warfare and poverty. They are often most directly impacted by it.
- Resistance by nation/state governments and elitists — Some will oppose giving up a portion of their sovereignty and power to gain the benefits of an expanded rule of law.
World Parliament ideas started in the 1940’s and are supported today by The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA). Under WCPA leadership, an Earth Constitution (Constitution for the Federation of Earth) document was drafted. George Monbiot also proposed a world parliament approach in his book The Age of Consent. Regarding a UN People’s Assembly, several approaches have been proposed over the years, with much of the activity now centered around the Citizens for a United Nations People’s Assembly and the Association of World Citizens. Another approach proposed by Richard Falk and Andrew Strauss does not include a constitutional framework (as proposed by the WCPA), or by an affiliation with the UN system (as with the People’s Assembly movement). It should be noted that none of these approaches have received widespread recognition or acceptance by the masses. Support has been mainly by academics and progressives.
The following issues will be discussed by Earthian Society members in the PGA discussion forum:
Structure and Operations
- PGA Constitution?
- How will global laws and standards be drafted? How will they be enforced?
- Organizational structure?
- How will online global participative democracy be used?
- How and where are representatives and committees used? How are they appointed?
- Which implementation strategy – Focus on one area? A combination of key areas?
- Consider a tribunal or a formal constitution?
- Consider the establishment of global commons trusts? cap and trade systems?
- Minimum requirements? (ie. number of nations, % of population, etc.)
- Strategies for the transfer of jurisdiction?
- What about existing global institutions? – IMF, WTO, World Bank, UN, etc.
- Internet-related issues? – Authentication, verification, accessibility, security, etc.
- Handlling opposition from governments and vested interests
- Collaboration and coordination with other NGO’s? The United Nations? Developing nations? Multinational corporations?
- Support from the International Criminal Court for law enforcement?
Marketing and Promotion
- How should a PGA be communicated and promoted? What features/benefits should be emphasized? What framing strategies?
- Who are the main and secondary target audiences?
- How can the PGA concept be advanced to a “tipping point”?
In the PGA discussion forum, the following topics have been established:
- PGA Planning Overview
- Step One: Establish Scope
- Step Two: Research the organizational structure, participation and representation. Creation, monitoring and enforcement of global laws and standards.
- Step Three: Implementation plan. Networking, support, marketing and public relations.
See the Reference Documents section.
- The UN has not stopped nation/state aggression, genocides or the spread of nuclear arms. The U.S. invasion of Irag belittled the UN Security Council resolutions. Usually, the UN follows the procedure of applying sanctions first — which in fact holds entire populations of countries accountable for the perpetration of international crimes by their leaders. (For example, Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The country was economically devastated for the behaviour of one man.)
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) could be considered for investigating and bringing to justice individuals who commit crimes under People’s Global Authority law. The ICC Treaty has now been ratified by 94 nations, but crimes of aggression, terrorism and drug trafficking are presently excluded. The ICC is a real advance for humanity, for the universal recognition of human rights, and for the principle of individual accountability.
- The Kyoto Accord aims to reduce emissions from industrialized nations by 5% from 1990 levels, whereas the consensus among many climate scientists is that in order to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, emissions cuts in the order of 60% across the board are needed. This has led to criticisms that the agreement is toothless, as well as being virtually obsolete without USA and Chinese support.