Democratic World Government - An Outline Structure

Introduction - problems and benefits of World Government

The idea of world government has not received a good press for many years. It
tends to make most of us think of Stalinist dictators and fascist domination of
the globe. I wish to argue, though, that there is a viable form of democratic
world government which could bring many benefits.

A democratic world government that really worked would lead to a major increase
in the freedom enjoyed by all people on the planet. It would also make more
equitable the international balance of power which currently so heavily favours
the rich developed nations and their citizens at the expense of the much larger
numbers of citizens in the underdeveloped world.

The billion-dollar question is, though, whether there could be a form of
democratic world government which was workable and sustainable, not inefficient
and expensive, and above all which was fair?

Conventional ideas about world government, which typically picture it in the
form of a global parliament passing universal laws in order to create an
identikit legal framework for all world citizens, suffer from three severe
problems. Firstly, the near-impossibility of persuading all of the world's
countries to hand over their sovereignty to a global government of this sort.
Secondly, the risk - of which we are, and must always be, very aware - of
permitting a future global dictatorship of a particularly intransigent kind
(imagine how difficult it would be to dislodge a Hitler if he was in possession
of the kind of absolute power available through such a form of government). And
thirdly, as we see sometimes today in the European Community, the tendency of
such a large-scale government to create detailed, uniform laws for the entire
area it governs; the impetus would be towards a sort of global standardisation,
almost certainly based in the cultural attitudes of the West, which would
massively erode the rich cultural variations which exist in the world.

A preferable system of world government, if such could be invented, would meet
all of these objections, as well perhaps as providing a global framework
designed to encourage the democratic possibilities of all nations. Perhaps such
a system might look something like the one I shall now describe.

New form of World Government - outline structure

The new World Parliament would be a single elected chamber, possibly similar in
format to the House of Commons in the UK but with places for up to 1000 elected
representatives - Members of the World Parliament, or 'MWP's. The MWPs would be
elected from national or supra-national constituencies, one per so many head of
population (but probably with a minimum of at least one per nation, at least in
the early decades [There are approaching 200 nation states in the world at the
moment, with populations ranging from 50,000 - St Lucia - to 5,000,000,000 -
China. This represents a variance of a factor of 100,000, so the disparity in
representation could not be tolerated indefinitely. In due course some notion of
communal MWPs, shared by small countries of reasonably alike culture, would have
to be introduced.]). They would be subjected to re-election every 5 years. The
world government envisaged here would have no army and would require only
minimal administrative support. As a result, its costs would be small. It would
not be allowed to raise any taxes, instead being funded in a similar way to that
in which the United Nations is today, by contributions from the nation-states
which make up its membership. Such nation-states would continue to exist in the
new system just as they do now, forming an essential balancing power to that of
the world government, and would be without significant loss of sovereignty.

Membership of the new system which the world government represented would be
voluntary for each nation in the world, just as membership of the United Nations
currently is [Some democratic nations choose not to join the United nations even
today, Switzerland being a prime example.]. Becoming a member would involve them
adding their signature to a world treaty, which decision would need to be
ratified by the population of the country in a referendum. Only upon so joining
the 'club' would a country's people have the right to vote into the world
government one or more MWPs, and in turn the world government would only have
the right to instigate actions which related to countries within its membership.
Once in the system a country would be able to extricate itself only by majority
vote of its population in another referendum.

The world government's purpose would be to enact laws by normal majority voting
within its chamber, but laws which were couched in general terms. Because