Year XXXIV, 1992, Number 3 - Page 233
Towardsthe Overcoming of Absolute National Sovereignty
In less than 10 years’ time, according to the experts, world pollution will have reached its point of no return.
To avoid this, the only enemy that needs to be fought is absolute national sovereignty, which, in the final analysis, was invented by the French Revolution.
I read the Italian Federalists’ report of July 6, 1991 with great interest. It analyses this problem perfectly. It will be difficult for me to add new ideas to it, but I will try all the same.
On the programme, next to my name, I see written “Permanent Committee for World Unity” of which, in fact, I am one of the general secretaries. This committee assembles some 20 associations whose aim is to diffuse the theory of world unity, which consists of advocating the transfer of certain powers appertaining to each state’s sovereignty to an international federal government. I insist on this adjective “federal”, because world unity aims at a federal organisation of the world, which implies the possibility of taking decisions even at the lowest levels. Thus the ordinary citizen will become responsible. World unity means that the relationships between peoples, hitherto regulated by international law (which is a law of co-ordination between sovereign states), should be subjected to a world law which will instead rule over these very same states. This framework would endow such law with the powers necessary for its effective enforcement.
After 1899, the date of the first world peace conference, and right through the first half of this century, ideas advocating world unity, in order that law might prevail against brute force, were proposed by Bertha Von Suttner, David Lubin and by Nobel prizes winners such as La Fontaine, Léon Bourgeois and Albert Einstein. Since World War II the supporters of world unity have taken their place: in 1947 the World Federalists were founded, and in 1949 the Citizens of the World were established.
Both of these associations have brought together hundreds of thousands of people. Today, despite counting less members, their ideas have become all the more useful for the survival of mankind itself. As a matter of fact without a World Authority for the Environment, which Jerry Bourgeois has spoken to you about, the human species will disappear as a result of the complete pollution of the biosphere. Through some transfer of sovereignty, something which should be carried out as soon as possible, a legal structure above the sovereign states can be created. Such a structure is vital for the establishment of those coercive powers which are needed to combat the harmful actions perpetrated against the biosphere. But, for the moment, let us go back to the origins of the concept of world unity, which was created to avoid a third World War by laying the foundations for on-the-spot supranational control of disarmament. In fact, Reagan and Gorbachev, by signing the Washington Treaty in October 1987, did no more than apply these ideas.
Before long, however, in 1950, supporters of world unity became aware of the fact that the problem of developing Third World countries was also a world problem. Lord Byron Orr, who won a Nobel prize for peace, and Abbé Pierre, declared that in the future the real problem would be the North-South relationship, and not the East-West one. They were right. But because the theory of world unity has not been applied, world poverty is increasing, in spite of the 5 or 6,000 associations which are at present fighting it. The third problem needing a solution at an international level was the environment. Since 1955, supporters of world unity have started to become interested in this issue, which is naturally of a global scale, and they have launched the Neptuno project, which was introduced by the British parliamentary group for world unity that counted 107 members. At the moment, we can say that problems of international finance, overpopulation and scarce energy resources also require a universal, supranational solution.
While the two associations of the World Federalists and the Citizens of the World had adopted for some time different methods of approach towards the same goal, we can say today that their initiatives are identical. They both advocate an amendment to the UN Charter by adding a second chamber, the World Peoples Chamber, in order to endow the UN with real universal executive power. Moreover, citing Montesquieu, the supporters of world unity want a true world executive, that has world-wide powers of coercion together with a world judicial authority. This latter institution would be independent of the other two powers just as it should be of the sovereign states.
Many strategies are being employed to achieve this organisation of world democracy, including the project of a second chamber within the UN. In this connection, I would like to tell you that I have been working on the People’s Congress project for 20 years now; its purpose is to have 80,000 electors in 110 countries vote in 8 postal ballots to name the delegates to the Congress mentioned above. It is clear that if the vote is real, and if it is organised exactly as in democratic countries, this People’s chamber will become a symbolic reference point for everybody. If we accept that the electoral bodies of about 20 countries which are members of the UN count for less than 80,000 voters, we can see why the UN must recognise that the procedure adopted by the People’s Congress is a valid one, and could be useful as a basis for the organisation of universal elections based on the principle of one man, one vote.
I know very well that setting up a real universal legislative body will take a lot of time, and that time is running out for the creation of a World Authority for the Environment. But it is possible to suggest a variety of different procedures with more immediate effects, such as:. 1) replacing existing institutions, for example the UN Programme for the Environment (UNEP); 2) creating a special Agency identical to the Universal Postal Union; 3) creating a special Agency like the Vienna Atomic Agency; 4) creating an arbitration tribunal, a true litigation chamber as allowed by Article 29, paragraph 2 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice; 5) creating a world supranational institution; 6) using articles 22, 29, 109, etc. of the UN Charter. Furthermore I would like to suggest a personal solution. Why not ask the 180 UN countries to insert the following sentence into their German, Italian and French constitutions: with reservations for reciprocity, some limitations on sovereignty are admissible. Thus, one day the leaders of these 18000untries will come together and will simultaneously adopt this principle of reciprocity in order to create, by transferring some of their sovereign powers, the World Authority for the Environment.
I am sure that if political leaders are ready to deal with this matter, jurists will not only find these 5 solutions, but scores of others. All they need to do is to choose one of them, apply it and in this way save the biosphere of our planet, and in the process the whole of humanity.
And now, Rio. Is this political will of supranationality going to exist at the Rio conference? I do not think so, and this is the reason why. First, because the Rio summit is based on the sovereignty of each state, which is not only an immutable principle, but a sacred one, according to Mr Maurice Strong, the organiser of Rio – the same person who organised the Stockholm conference 20 years ago. Yet, Mr Strong knows that Stockholm was a failure because pollution has continued to grow, and he knows why: because of absolute national sovereignty. Experience has been of no use to Maurice Strong, and I regret that he is not present today, since I would make him account for his actions.
In preparation for the Rio conference then, environment and development have been placed together. I know very well that these two problems are linked but they are also connected to the problems of disarmament, overpopulation, a world currency and energy provision. We can study these five or six world issues either together or separately. That is what was done at Stockholm and that is what should have been done at Rio.
Now, by dealing with both these topics together, we can always find an issue which we do not agree on, all the more so considering that besides the issue of development we should face the questions of disarmament, the stabilisation of the use of raw materials, the control of multinational companies, and the issues of debt and currency, overpopulation, regional federalism, and self-sufficiency in food.
This was how the project of a World Authority for the Environment, proposed by François Mitterrand in Paris in front of 852 non-governmental organisations, was rejected.
This was how we could read in Le Monde: ‘‘Failure of the preparatory conference for the Earth Summit.” This includes the failure of the “last chance” conference held in New York, where the final texts of the Rio summit should have been elaborated.
I am not a diviner but in a letter of last February, I wrote that, like Stockholm, Rio was going to be a failure. The Hague appeal of November 3, 1989, signed by 43 countries in favour of the transfer of national sovereignty to a World Authority for the Environment, aroused great hopes. A few months later, I was able to approach François Mitterrand to give him some additional information on this subject. But the G7 summit of July 14, 1989 was a failure. The Paris conference of December 17, 1991 was a failure. The New York conference, which has just taken place, was a failure.
What else can we hope for? To ensure people accept world federalist theory, that is our only hope.