reports WSF 2004:

WSF 2004 notes by Nicola Vallinoto

Notes from the "Workshop on Global Democracy" by Mona Lee

 

WSF 2004 notes from Nicola Vallinoto

The 4th * World Social Forum * has been held in Mumbai between 16 Jan and 21 Jan. This World Social Forum, the first to take place outside of Porto Alegre, Brazil, featured over 1,000 events including workshops, lectures, and panel discussions. For five days more than 100,000 delegates from 132 countries crammed into vast, dusty exhibition grounds on the outskirts of Mumbai, united in the dream that Another World is Possible.

Mumbai is a city of ugly contrasts between the filthy rich and the wretchedly poor, which has given up on the ideal of building a relatively equitable, shared community in which there is social opportunity for all. Mumbai, India's financial capital, with its gleaming chrome-and-glass buildings in affluent enclaves, generates more than a fourth of the country's direct tax revenue. But two-thirds of Mumbai's people live in indescribably dirty shantytowns, where there are no water taps or toilets in most homes. The people's present is sordid, their future bleak. Mumbai in some ways is a microcosm of India, although its urban existence bears sharp contrast to the rest of the country, 70 percent of which is rural.

The main reason to organize the world social forum in Mumbai has been the widening to the asian movements of new global effort to build a different world.

Federalist participation in the World Social Forum aimed to find new alliances for global democracy. Respect to the previous editions an increasing number of events concerned global democracy, international institutions democratic reforms and world parliament issues. Many movements self-organized events on these arguments. Movimento Federalista Europeo, Italian section of WFM, promoted a World Parliament initiative following the proposal made by Italian federalists during the last Copenhagen WFM Council,
October 2003, concerning the importance of WFM participation in World Social Forum that is considered the right place where to find allies to create a coalition of global civil society movements for a World Parliament.

The 19th January, 2004, from 9 am to 1 pm * Towards a World Parliament. Let's create a network for glocal democracy * workshop has been organized by Movimento Federalista Europeo. 50 persons from 20 countries participated in the discussions. Nicola Vallinoto of the World Federalist Movement, from Italy, was the convenor. Leo Rebello, Co-President of World Constitution and
Parliament Association, from India, chaired the session. Following persons spoke : James Arputharaj, Sri Lanka, World Federalist Movement, Rasmus Tenberger, Germany, The Global Democracy Experiment, Dick Burkhart & Mona Lee, USA, Bike for Global Democracy, Sichendra Bista, Nepal, eParliament.org, Rob Wheeler, France, Forum for a World Parliament, Carmo D'Souza, India, Lecturer in Goa Law College, Mikael Nordfors, Norway, Vivarto Co-operative, Troy Davis, USA, World Citizens Foundation, Werner
Bulling, Germany, Citizens Initiative for For the Europe of the Citizens, Andrew Strauss, USA, Widener University, School of Law, Manuel Mononelles, Campaign for Indepth Reform of International Insitutions, Seshrao Chavan, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Aurangabad Chapter, India, Shishir Srivastava, World Unity and Peace Education Deptt. CMS, Lucknow.

The talks were followed by comments from the audience in which every one participated. Following resolutions were adopted unanimously: 1) Establish World Parliament by 2010. 2) World Democracy as the main theme at the next WSF. 3) Website on World Parliament with weblinks to other Mundialist organisations. 4) Network or Federation of World Democracy Organisations. 5) World Parliament E-Forum to evolve World People's Basic Manifesto. During the workshop the international review "The Federalist Debate has been presented and distributed. Some of the participants will contribute to the next issue of the review with an article about global democracy.

At the same time of the workshop the British writer and activist George Monbiot addressed the plenary session titled * Globalization and its alternatives * . He told delegates that "without global democracy there could never be national democracy." Monbiot gave the example of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (popularly known as Lula), the Brazilian president, who won last year's presidential elections mainly on a promise of delivering basic services to the poorer sections of the society and implementing policies that would close the gap between the rich and the poor. Monbiot argued that it is not enough to have good local policies and intentions while the
current global system is skewed in favour of policies that are aimed at enriching developed countries and the rich sections of many countries.

He called for more organised global action that will enable the establishment of a 'new world order'. "It is not enough to think globally
and act locally. We also have to act globally," said Monbiot, also calling for the dismantling of the IMF and the WB and the transformation of the United Nations. According to Monbiot, in his latest book titled "The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for New World Order", which is widely circulated at the forum, there must be a world parliament where representatives will be elected by citizens in all countries and held publicly accountable for the decisions that they take. This will replace the current United Nations.
Turning to the WSF itself and whether the forum can be a stepping stone towards a 'world parliament', Monbiot said that the forum is important but not enough. The WSF, according to Monbiot, is not enough "(because) we self-select ourselves. We have passports, money and time to attend this kind of gathering." While the WSF is important the parallel platform of the 'world parliament' must be initiated which will have more "moral authority." It is this moral authority that brings about real people's power. "Power lies where moral authority is," said Monbiot to loud applause.

The last day of the forum debates all global democracy activists decided to organize a common event just to find the way to cooperate for the common aim. The January 20th evening "Workshop on Global Democracy" has been held with the topic * Organizing a Coalition for a World Parliament *. Approximately 40 people stayed for this meeting after a panel between two
expert advocates for world parliament, Professor Andrew Strauss and author George Monbiot. This meeting was a culmination of several forums, workshops, and organizational meetings held throughout the World Social Forum. Participants at this meeting were committed activists who favor a world parliament and want to carry forward a series of initiatives to see that goal realized in the not too distant future. Rob Wheeler facilitated the meeting, assisted by Dick Burkhart and Mona Lee. Rob Wheeler gave a brief summary of several current initiatives on World Parliament that the coalition could choose to support:

- World Citizen Campaign
- City Montessori School, 27,000 students educated and promoting world
parliament
- World Student Assembly modeling how a WP could work
- Several direct democracy initiatives
- Several E-Parliaments

The following initiatives were suggested at earlier workshops for the
coalition to focus on for the coming months

A. Establish global democracy as a focus of the World Social Forum
1) Request to include world democracy as a primary theme for the World
Social Forum.
2) Include speakers on world parliament at plenary panels on World
Democracy.
3) Participate in international commission committees to lobby for these.
4) Focus on deepening democracy, especially global democracy.
5) Hold a "World Democracy Forum" or "Global Peoples Assembly" at each World
Social Forum.

B. Planning for World Social Forum at Porto Alegre 2005
1) Include different themes on different days. Relate these to other
thematic events at the Forum.
2) Attract and interest people in our events by various means such as:
- Include more countries, not just big countries.
- Include Eastern Europe as well.
- Contact people who support democracy in non-democratic countries.
- Concentrate on Universities with many foreign students.
- Organize workshops in Universities.
- Introduce the concept of world parliament to local communities.
- Advocate for improvement of simultaneous translation systems.
- Provide more opportunities for people to speak out.
- Prepare a brief flyer explaining what we mean by world parliament.

C. Develop a call for a World Parliament Referendum
1) This should be as widely circulated as possible.
2) Diversity should be a major consideration in circulation.
3) Take referenda to local media and public officials.
4) Take signatures via a web site.

Details of structure and functioning will be decided by means of a democratic process via the internet and/or at face-to-face meetings. The following basic framework was generally accepted:

1) We are a network of assemblies, partner organizations and individuals.
2) We will have a delegates council with a liaison representing each organization. This would be the governing body, subject to review by larger plenary sessions.
3) We will have a coordinating team to move the process forward and obtain nonprofit status for fund raising.
4) We will conduct a membership campaign. A minimal membership fee may be requested to carry our initiatives forward.

Initial communication and decision-making processes will take place via the internet. Germa Pelayo of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural, and United World offered to serve as translator to French and Spanish. Rasmus Tenbergen offered to develop his Democracy Experiment web site as our central means of communication. The web address www.world-democracy.org met with approval. We will also hold alternative face-to-face meetings as needed. The following alternative face-to-face meetings were suggested as preparatory to the next World Social Forum (These meetings would likely have more regional representatives than global, so Internet validation /
modification will be necessary):

1) San Francisco, CA, June 2004 to piggyback off a Conference on UN Charter Review to be held there. Use of facilities has already been offered for our meeting by the conference convener, Dr. Lucille Green, a very dedicated and senior promoter of world parliament.
2) Lucknow, India, December 2004 where facilities have also been offered to 'piggyback" off the Chief Justices meeting conducted by City Montessori School.
3) A meeting in conjunction with the European Social Forum in November was suggested.

The name of the coalition has not yet been decided. The following possible names were suggested: Coalition for a World Parliament, Coalition for Global Democracy, Coalition for a Global Peoples Assembly, World Democracy Movement and others. This coalition would replace, or relaunch, the prior efforts of the Global Peoples Assembly movement under the name and mission chosen by a
new Charter discussion. Rob Wheeler has been appointed as coordinator.

This is the partial list of the organization and initiative that expressed an interest in becoming a member of the coalition for a world parliament: -

Alliance 21 for a United, Plural and Responsible World (www.alliance21.org)
- Bike for Global Democracy (www.world-democracy.org)
- City Montessori School Lucknow, India (www.cmseducation.org)
- EParliament.org (www.eparliament.org)
- Global Democracy Experiment (www.tgde.org)
- Global Peoples Assembly Network (www.world-democracy.org)
- Mehr Demokratie (www.mehr-demokratie.de)
- Sammondano (www.sammondano.org)
- Student World Assembly (student.worldassembly.net)
- Vivarto Co-operative (www.vivarto.com)
- World Citizen Foundation (www.worldcitizen.org)
- World Federalist Movement (www.wfm.org)
- World Parliament & Constitution Association (www.worldparliamentgov.net)
- World Parliament Experiment (www.world-parliament.org)

The final consideration about the federalist participation in Mumbai has been very positive. The following are the two main aspects: the first is that most of global democracy organizations and initiative now are starting to work together under the umbrella of the coalition for a world parliament. The second one is that even if global democracy activists continue to be a minority group inside the new global movement the idea of a World Parliament is becoming more and more popular thanks also to George Monbiot support. Many Indian newspapers, such as The Hindu, The Times of India and The Tribune, published articles about the World Parliament during the WSF.

As written by the former Judge of Supreme Court of India Sawant in The Tribune on 21 Jan. "What is most necessary is to change the fossilised mindsets of the peoples everywhere. The most difficult thing in the world is to change the human mind, and when the concepts such as those of the world parliament and the world government demand of the people to switch over their minds from the age-old beliefs, biases and prejudices, the resistance is bound to be stronger. But on the positive side, we have the instances of
the acceptance of the jurisdiction of the UN and the European Union. Even these ideas were new and unfamiliar when originally conceived. The threat of common dangers to mankind, which cannot be averted except by common efforts, has also been dawning on the minds of the people everywhere for some years now. The time is ripe for an intellectual revolution to push the world towards a new era by launching such a revolution. Only a revolution of this kind will help us eliminate the present malignant forces, and realise the
goal of the world parliament and the world government for the benefit of all".

Nicola Vallinoto

Notes from the January 20th evening by Mona Lee:

"Workshop on Global Democracy"

at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India, 2004

Topic: Organizing a Coalition for a World Parliament

Background

Approximately 40 people stayed for this meeting after a panel/debate between two expert advocates for world parliament, Professor Andrew Strauss and author George Monbiot. This meeting was a culmination of several forums, workshops, and organizational meetings held throughout the World Social Forum. Participants at this meeting were committed activists
who favor a world parliament and want to carry forward a series of initiatives to see that goal realized in the not too distant future. RobWheeler facilitated the meeting, assisted by Dick Burkhart and Mona Lee.

Initiatives

Rob gave a brief summary of several current initiatives on World Parliament that the coalition could choose to support:

- World Citizen Campaign

- City Montessori School, 27,000 students educated and promoting world parliament

- World Student Assembly modeling how a WP could work

- Several direct democracy initiatives

- Several E-Parliaments

 

The following initiatives were suggested at earlier workshops for the coalition to focus on for the coming months/year

 

A. Establish global democracy as a focus of the World Social Forum

1) Request to include world democracy as a primary theme for the World Social Forum.

2) Include speakers on world parliament at plenary panels on World Democracy.

3) Participate in international commission committees to lobby for these.

4) Focus on deepening democracy, especially global democracy.

5) Hold a ?World Democracy Forum? or ?Global Peoples Assembly? at each World Social Forum.

 

B. Planning for World Social Forum at Puerto Alegre? 2005

 

1) Include different themes on different days. Relate these to other thematic events at the Forum.

2) Attract and interest people in our events by various means such as:

- Include more countries, not just big countries.

- Include Eastern Europe as well.

- Contact people who support democracy in non-democratic countries.

- Concentrate on Universities with many foreign students.

- Organize workshops in Universities.

- Introduce the concept of world parliament to local communities.

- Advocate for improvement of simultaneous translation systems.

- Provide more opportunities for people to speak out.

- Prepare a brief flyer explaining what we mean by world parliament.

 

C. Develop a call for a World Parliament Referendum

 

1) This should be as widely circulated as possible.

2) Diversity should be a major consideration in circulation.

3) Take referenda to local media and public officials.

4) Take signatures via a web site.

Structure and Functioning of the Coalition

Details of our structure and functioning will be decided by means of a democratic process via the internet and/or at face-to-face meetings. The following basic framework was generally accepted:

1) We are a network of assemblies, partner organizations and individuals.

2) We will have a delegates council with a liaison representing each organization. This would be the governing body, subject to review bylarger plenary sessions.

3) We will have a coordinating team to move the process forward and obtain nonprofit status for fund raising.

4) We will conduct a membership campaign. A minimal membership fee may be requested to carry our initiatives forward. .02% of income was suggested but not decided upon at this meeting. Fees raised in the developing world will be used in their communities. Amount and manner of funds distribution will be determined by means of a democratic process.
Note:Plenary sessions and other activities may include participating members?, as well as these ?contributing members?, so that financial resources arenot a barrier to participation.

Methods of Communication

Initial communication and decision-making processes will take place via the internet. Germa Pelayo of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural, and United World offered to serve as translator to French and Spanish. Rasmus Tenbergen offered to develop his Democracy Experiment web site as our central means of communication. The web address www.worlddemocracy.org met with approval. We will also hold alternative face-to-face meetings as needed. The following alternative face-to-face meetings were suggested as preparatory to the next World Social Forum (These meetings would likely
have more regional representatives than global, so Internet validation / modification will be necessary):

1) San Francisco, CA, June 2004 to piggyback off a Conference on UN Charter Review to be held there. Use of facilities has already been offered for our meeting by the conference convener, Dr. Lucille Green, a very dedicated and senior promoter of world parliament.

2) Lucknow, India, December 2004 where facilities have also been offered to "piggyback" off the Chief Justices meeting conducted by City MontessoriSchool.

3) A meeting in conjunction with the European Social Forum in November was suggested.

Naming the Coalition

The following possible names were suggested:

 

Coalition for a World Parliament

Coalition for Global Democracy

Coalition for a Global Peoples Assembly

World Democracy Movement

Worlddemocracy.org

Global Peoples Assembly Network

Global Peoples Assembly Movement*

Note: This coalition would replace, or relaunch, the prior efforts of the Global Peoples Assembly movement under the name and mission chosen by anew Charter discussion. A high priority will be given to this discussion.