Blog No 176.
Because of the worry that a world government would either start out as, or soon degenerate into a totalitarian dictatorship, advocates of constitutionalised cooperation between states have preferred to use enhanced ‘global governance’ as their stated goal.
It is important to distinguish between global governance and global government. Global government inspires visions of a unitary authoritarian dictatorship, or of a federation of semi-independent states subject to federal laws imposed by a centralised authority – democratic or otherwise. Unsurprisingly, it is a hard sell!
Here are two relevant quotes from the Wikipedia:
On world government:-
“World government or global government or cosmocracy is the notion of a common political authority for all of humanity, giving way to a global government and a single state that exercises authority over the entire world. Such a government could come into existence either through violent and compulsory world domination or through peaceful and voluntary supranational union.
There has never been a worldwide executive, legislature, judiciary, military, or constitution with global jurisdiction. The United Nations, beyond the United Nations Security Council (which has the ability to issue mandatory resolutions), is limited to a mostly advisory role, and its stated purpose is to foster cooperation between existing national governments rather than exert authority over them.” (Note: ‘the UN Security Council is a most unfairly constituted body and its ‘ability to issue mandatory resolutions’ is largely negated by the vetoes in the hands of adversary nations.)
On world governance:-
“Global governance or world governance is a movement towards political cooperation among transnational actors, aimed at negotiating responses to problems that affect more than one state or region.”
The sad fact is that the current state of international relations would indicate that “a movement towards political cooperation among transnational actors, aimed at negotiating responses to problems that affect more than one state or region,” would appear insufficient to effectively control and coordinate mankind’s reaction to climate change or the propensity of nation states to indulge in warfare against each other. The solution calls for a combination of both definitions.
The Paddle Now website spells out an ultimate intention to improve global governance and remedy the inability of the UNO, as presently constituted, to develop or enforce international law. This entails the plan set out in “A country like New Zealand could save the world.” The, now urgent, requirement is for humanity to be able to present a united front against the impending climate and ecological crises and the growing threat of high-tech warfare.
What would such an improvement involve? Perhaps the most obvious solution would be a supranational organisation with executive power limited to the control of national impacts on the atmosphere and oceans that are common to all mankind. The same institution, or perhaps another, should have the authority to insist that conflicts between nations are subject to compulsory mediation and that the reversion to warfare between nations, be it cyber, economic, or kinetic, is not admissible.
Such a supranational institution needs to be financially independent of nation states, which at the same time, according to the principle of subsidiarity, would retain all their current sovereign powers – less the ability to attack other nations or pollute the oceans and atmosphere they share in common. (“Subsidiarity is a principle of social organization that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate level that is consistent with their resolution. Subsidiarity is perhaps presently best known as a general principle of European Union law.”)
Financial independence for such an institution could be realised through the imposition of one or another of the many variations of a Tobin Tax on financial transactions, or by a tax levied for use of international sea and/or air ways.
How to achieve the ridiculously over ambitious goal of getting from where we are now to where we need to be? Past attempts at such rationalisation of global relations have involved directly addressing the advocates’ national politicians and/or officials of the institutions in need of reform. None have succeeded. If anything, global governance remains in as parlous a state as it was when the UNO was first established.
The only sure route to the necessary goal is through the mobilisation of whole populations in their demand that their national politicians and leadership elites surrender the relevant sovereign powers that they currently cling onto. As the crises accumulate, this solution is going to become increasingly obvious. New Zealanders, like citizens of other nations, need to become alert to the increased attention to global governance that should be demanded of their leaders.
The Paddle Now ambition is to help inspire more Kiwis to become aware of and take an eager interest in their Earth and its crew. Thereby, they will be in a position to inspire their political leaders to become active in the same cause.