A Constitution for the Federation of Earth
With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion by Glen T. Martin
The Most Important Document
of the 20th and 21st Centuries
The future peace, security, and ordered progress of the world demand a world federation of free nations, and on no other basis can the problems of the modern world be solved. Such a world federation would ensure the freedom of its constituent nations, the prevention of aggression and exploitation by one nation over another, the protection of national ministries, the advancement of all backward areas and peoples, and the pooling of the world’s resources for the common good of all.
he Constitution for the Federation of Earth may well be the most important document of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is comparable in significance to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Charter for the International Criminal Court. However, unlike the latter documents, the Earth Constitution will be hailed as establishing the paradigm shiftthat made possible peace, justice, and environmental sustainabilityfor the Earth. These latter documents appear among those representing the highest moral and legal thinking possible under the present world order dominated by the system of sovereign nation-statesfor well over four centuries. The Earth Constitution establishes the foundations of a transformed world order premised on the holismthat has been uncovered by every 20th century science from micro-physics to macro-physics to ecology to systems theory to the basic social sciences.
1. The Absolute Need for a Planetary Constitution
When future historians consider the history of the 20th century, they will not only see it as the century of global wars and mass exterminations, and they will not only see it as the century that produced nuclear weaponsand delivery systems that could wipe out the human race, they also may well see it as the century that produced mankind’s greatest hope in the form of the Earth Constitution. For the Earth Constitution embodies a true paradigm shiftfrom fragmentation and fragmented thinking to holistic thinking under the principle of unity in diversity institutionalized within planetary democratic government. It transforms the fragmentation of the modern world system into the holismthat will make possible the sustainable, peaceful flourishing of humankind for the next millennium. In the view of many, it represents the paradigm document for the third millennium.
Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum that all men are brothers does not merely betoken a moral “ideal” that informs our human situation. It expresses a reality, a fundamental truth of our planetary condition that must be actualized if we are to survive and flourish on our tiny Spaceship Earth. In the face of our present endangered future, and in the face of our incessant chaotic world of war and violence, our partiality for our own culture, race, nation, language, ethnicity, or tradition must give way to the universality of the most fundamental of all moral and existential principles: all human beings are brothers and sisters.
The greatest foundation that this universal truth could possibly have would be embodiment within an Earth Constitution that legally establishes universal citizenship for all the people of Earth. Legal citizenship establishes equality, freedom, and responsibility for citizens to act for the common good of society, the Earth, and future generations. The fundamental existential and moral truth of our planetary condition must be enshrined within the majesty of world law.
“World peace through world law is a frequently heard maxim of world federalism. Its meaning is quite literal. There can be no peace unless a peace systemis established for the world. Such a system has perhaps four most fundamental components: (1) it must involve enforceable world law, (2) this world law must be enforceable over individuals, (3) it must be democratically legislated by a world parliament, and (4) it must be part of a federal system in which governmental power resides on many levels from the local to the planetary levels. Vibrant democracy, legally empowering all persons as world citizens in equality, freedom, and responsibility, enshrined at all levels from local to global, actualizes the universal moral and existential truth at the heart of our situation. In doing so, it becomes the foundation of world peace with justice.
Each of these components is fundamental to democracy, and the chaos, corruption, and unending violence of our world order stems most basically from lack of authentic democracy. Nations spend a large portion of their wealth militarizing themselves in order to confront a lawless and dangerous world. In doing so, they fail to address poverty, education, sanitation, healthcare, human rights violations, and other serious problems within their own borders.
When they do attempt to address these issues within their own borders, they soon come to understand that our present planetary monetary and political system prevents effective change within countries. These systems are predicated on the fragmentation of our human reality to the point where no part, within the fragmented world order, is capable of realizing the common good of its citizens, let alone of the precious Earth, or future generations. The structural chaos of the present world system itself prevents our highest human ideals from becoming actualized.
Global economic and structural conditions prevent fragmented nation-statesfrom creating a decent life for their citizens while simultaneously inhibiting effective united action to address climate crisis, rapidly depleting resources, massive poverty, weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, and other planetary issues beyond the scope of individual nations. Immense debt strangles even the so-called developed nations, yet there appears no way out of an economic system premised on crushing debt. Militarism drains the wealth of most nations, yet there appears no option but to participate in a never-ending arms race to keep up with the latest technological developments in weapons within a dangerous world.
Global climate crises and resource depletion meanwhile create ever-more scarcity of arable land, fresh water, ocean fisheries, and life-sustaining forests. Rainfall becomes erratic, regular seasons necessary to agriculture lose their reliability, desperate citizens become socially unstable and may resort to violence. Protection of human rights and democratic governance becomes less and less tenable and possible. Universal surveillance and the national security stateappear more and more necessary due to the social chaos engendered everywhere by the militarized fragmentation of the world system in tandem with our disintegrating planetary ecosystem.
It is relatively meaningless to believe that something called “international law” can address the chaos, confusion, and endless wars generated by the present world system. You cannot govern the behavior of militarized collective entities called nations who see themselves as “sovereign” and therefore independent of any effective laws above themselves. You cannot address climate crisis, resource depletion, or proliferation of nuclear weapons through a “treaty system” that is largely voluntary on the part of nations and from which they can withdraw at any time as their self-interest dictates or, within which, they can manipulate and interpret the agreement as their perceived self-interest dictates.
World peace through world law ecessarily requires genuine planetary democracy. It necessarily requires that world law be enforceable over every individual by a civilian police force trained to follow due process and the protection of innocent bystanders. World peace can only be created through a democratic world parliamentlegislating on the basis of the common good of people everywhere and dealing with planetary matters beyond the ability of individual nations to handle. Finally, world peace with justice can only be created through a federal system in which localities, regions, and nations share levels of sovereignty with a world parliament representing the sovereignty of all the people who live upon the Earth.
Even though human beings have been widely aware of the democratic idea since the 18th century, authentic planetary democracy would constitute a genuine paradigm shift from a worldwide war system to a peace system. For planetary democracy under the Earth Constitution establishes a world order on the holistic principle of unity in diversity. The system of sovereign nation-states is inherently fragmented, inherently incapable of uniting humanity. World peace with justice and sustainability can only flow from this principle of holismthat constitutes the fundamental discovery of every 20th century science.
The highest moral and legal thinking possible under the present fragmented world system, illustrated in the U.N. documents mentioned above, generates ideals in the service of a slow evolution of humankind toward a decent world order. Documents such as the charter of the International Criminal Courtor the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights do not challenge the system of sovereign nation-states that blocks both peace and genuine cooperation for dealing with global crises, nor do they challenge the global economic system of crushing debt and unlimited accumulations of private wealth that prevents human flourishing everywhere on Earth. The institutionalized structures of fragmentation turn human unity in diversity into a set of mere “ideals” that ring of an impossible utopia.
Only the new paradigm of genuine planetary democracy, premised on a constitution that institutionalizes unity in diversity through effective world law, can transform our endangered planet before it is too late. We do not need ideals within a model of the slow evolution of hopelessly fragmented institutions. We need a genuine paradigm shift that places the fragmented institutions within a new set of premises that transforms and empowers them to become cooperating units within an authentic world peace system. Only within such a system can the moral and existential truth that all human beings are brothers and sisters become a living reality enshrined in universal world citizenship.
The wonderful diversity of the world’s nations, religions, races, cultures, languages, and forms of life must be preserved and protected, and this diversity must govern itself democratically at the local and regional levels worldwide. But this can only happen if there is genuine unity for the whole, premised on the dignity, freedom, and equal human rights of people everywhere. In a world lacking such unity, the more powerful cultures, races, fragmented institutions, and political powers will simply overwhelm, digest, and assimilate genuine diversity.
Such a unity can only derive from the concrete institutions spelled out in workable detail by the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. From within the chaos and apparent hopelessness of the 20th century, thousands of world citizens worked together to create that century’s most important document, a document founded on a new, holistic paradigm, showing the way forward to a peaceful and just human community living sustainably on our precious planet Earth. Let us examine in more detail the history and concepts behind this world federalist idea.
2. Definitions of World Federalism
“World Peace through World Law” is a common maxim for World Federalism, also found as a title of some books and articles within the movement. A more detailed understanding of what this means, and what the phrase “world federalism” means, can reveal the basic ideas of this movement and its connections with world peace and justice.
The federal principle connotes that government is divided among a multiplicity of levels from local government, to state government, to national government, to the level of world government. Today, a limited version of the federal principle operates successfully within a number of nation-state democracies such as Canada, Australia, India, Switzerland, and the U.S. Each of these nations is a federation in which apparently democratic government operates at different levels of authority and jurisdiction under a constitution binding the whole together with certain principles (such as civil liberties) that apply to the entire federation.
World federalism argues that it is imperative to extend this principle of good democratic government to the world level. Under the system of sovereign nation-states(first effectively formulated as such in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648) nations have autonomy over their internal affairs as well as autonomy in their external relations with all other nation-states. “Sovereignty” has largely come to mean this internal and external autonomy, exercised from within the borders of a certain national territory. For this reason, under the present world system, sovereign states will not enter into a world federation with one another because this would mean limiting, sharing, or pooling, some of their apparently absolute sovereignty.
Under the present system of sovereign nation-states, the best that a supra-national organization can do is create a confederation of nations. The League of Nations and the United Nations were established as such confederations. Nations within these organizations continued in practice to recognize no binding law above themselves, and hence asserted their right to withdraw from any agreements, or from the organization as a whole, as their self-interest dictated. This is also sometimes called the “treaty system” – nations enter into voluntary agreements with one another (treaties) from which they can withdraw, modify the terms, or simply ignore their agreement. The U.N. Charter is itself such a treaty of sovereign nations as recognized in Article 2.
The slogan “world peace through world lawcorrectly suggests that the system of sovereign nation-statesis inherently a war system. If there are disagreements among sovereign nations that cannot be settled by diplomacy, then the only alternatives are violence or the threat of violence. In contrast, under the democratic rule of law within a federation, citizens who disagree with one another are bound by enforceable law to settle their differences peacefully – through the courts, voting, discussion, petitions, drawing on police protection, etc.
Peace is maintained by law and it is illegal to “take the law into your own hands.” For nations, there are no effective courts, police, nor enforceable procedures by which peace can be maintained. Every nation feels the necessity to militarize itself so that it can be ready for defense should any other nation (in this lawless international order) decide to attack. World law, enforceable over individuals, could arrest the potential Hitlers, Stalins, Saddam Husseins, or George Bushes of the world, just as you or I would be arrested if we decided to machine gun people in the next neighborhood for whatever reason (perhaps calling our attack, as many nations have done, “preemptive self-defense” or “fighting terrorism”).
Beyond the borders of sovereign nation-statesthere is primarily only power politics: the strategic use of language called diplomacy, the implicit threat of violence, or the overt use of violence to serve national interests. A number of thinkers in western political thought recognized this fact. Seventeenth century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza recognized that states will wage war according to their perceived national interests, since there is no higher authority that can arbitrate or mitigate the resort to violence. Similarly, seventeenth century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes declared that outside of their borders states confront one another “as gladiators.”
Spinoza and Hobbes both described human relationships outside the rule of enforceable law as “the state of nature” (a condition where there is no enforceable law and no effective government). Hobbes described this state of nature as a “war of all against all.” In his booklet Perpetual Peace (1795), Immanuel Kant also characterizes the relation between sovereign nations as the relation of war, calling this “savage and barbaric.” In his Philosophy of Right (1821), G.W.F. Hegel states that “if no agreement can be reached between particular wills, conflict between states can only be settled by war.”In his 1948 book Politics Among Nations, Hans Morgenthauproclaimed that relations among sovereign nation-states amounted to nothing more than power politics, each state pursuing its own self-interest through political maneuvering and ultimately war.
According to these thinkers, as well as many world federalists, the system of sovereign nation-states is intrinsically a war system, an anarchy today of some 192 autonomous units. Real peace can only come through a world federal democracyimplying a legislature (to legislate world laws), a judiciary (to apply the laws and adjudicate disputes), and an executive (with the capacity to enforce the law over all individuals). For world federalists this cannot mean, therefore, a “world state” or empire that amalgamates all the nations and abolishes local and regional autonomy. Real democratic freedom and peace require the federal principle: local governments have significant autonomy over local matters and a world government has substantial authority concerning issues that can only be dealt with at the world level (such as demilitarization, global climate collapse, universal human rights, etc.). Democracy is protected and empowered by the sharing of sovereignty (governmental authority) by various levels throughout the system.
World federalism is largely a synthesis of two fundamental intellectual revolutions in recent human history – the 18th century Enlightenment ideas of democracyfor all and 20th century planetary consciousness of global issues such as the immense destructive power of modern war, universal human rights, pending climate collapse, and the sense of living on a “Spaceship Earth.” Attempts at world empire or world conquest going back into ancient times have basically nothing in common with the ideas behind world federalism. World federalism today argues, like most democratic theory, that authentic peace must be linked with justice, freedom, and the protection of universal human rights.
The first significant philosophical expression of world federalism is found in Kant’s 1795 essay Perpetual Peace. Kant argued that the international system (of no enforceable law above nations) is immoral, since there is a moral obligation for all rational persons to live under republican government protecting human freedom, equality, and independence. The obligation of sovereign states, therefore, is not to militarize themselves to protect their populations but to quit the condition of international defacto war and create enforceable world lawover themselves.
3. Historical Overview of World Federalism
The great catalyst that activated a worldwide peace movement for world federalism involved the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Many peace activists, peace movements, and publications linked with world federalism flourished during and after the First World War, swelling to a significant world movement during and after the Second World War, and continuing in somewhat reduced form to the present.
One internationally known peace activist during the first war was Rosika Schwimmer, who participated in the founding of the Women’s Peace Party in 1915. After the war, Schwimmer became vice-president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. During the mid-1930s she worked with Lola Maverick Lloyd and others in developing the idea of a federation of nations ending war through enforceable world law. In 1937, Schwimmer joined Lola Maverick Lloyd in forming the Campaign for World Government with offices in New York City and Chicago.
After Hitler’s flagrant aggressions of 1938, an American journalist, Clarence K. Streit, wrote a book called Union Now that appeared in 1939. This book attempted to stave off the impending war through uniting the democracies of the world into a Federal Union. The idea caught on; the book sold many copies, and an organization was founded in the U.S. called Federal Union (later named the Association to Unite the Democracies (AUD)) with several hundred chapters operating in many countries of the world.
The Case for Federal Union by W. B. Curry also appeared in 1939. Curry’s book sold 100,000 copies within a year and helped launch a significant world federalist movement that flourished during the decade of the 1940s. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the movement grew very rapidly, pointing to the immense destructive power of modern weapons that absolutely necessitated democratic world government. Following these bombings in 1945, The Anatomy of Peace by Emery Reves was published with great success and soon translated into 20 languages.
In 1946, Albert Camus published his famous essay Neither Victims nor Executioners that is often anthologized in peace studies literature today. Camus declared that our choice was between being “murderers or accomplices of murderers,” on the one hand, and a world where “murder is illegitimate,” on the other. He called the latter condition “international democracy“the only way of extricating ourselves is to create a world parliamentthrough elections in which all peoples will participate, which will enact legislation which will exercise authority over national governments” (1986: 44-45).
It is less well known that simultaneous events taking place in India over these decades had led its great peace leader, Mahatma Gandhi, to advocate world federalism. In his correspondence of the early 1940s, Gandhi declared that “the structure of a world federation can be raised only on the foundation of nonviolence,” and, early in the war, he sent a letter to the Japanese Emperor, stating that “you will fail to realize that ambition and [greed] may become the authors of dismemberment of Asia, thus unwittingly preventing World Federation and brotherhood without which there can be no hope for humanity” (1990: 296). In 1942, he introduced a resolution to the Indian National Congress that is quoted from as the epigraph to this chapter. The resolution began: “While the Indian National Congress must primarily be concerned with independence and defense of India in this hour of danger, the Committee is of the opinion that the future peace, security, and ordered progress of the world demand a world federation of free nations, and on no other basis can the problems of the modern world be solved” (Hudgens 1986: 14).
Some prominent leaders of Federal Union, such as British MP Henry Usborne and Harold S. Bidmead, worked with others to unite the many world federalist movements that had begun during the decade. This union became the World Movement for World Federal Government (later called the World Federalist Movement (WFM)), which held its first Congress in Montreux, Switzerland in 1947. At this time, using the expertise of international lawyers such as Max Habicht, it produced the famous “Montreux Declaration” describing the tremendous need for, and proposed nature of, a federal world system. It stated that:
We world federalists are convinced that the establishment of a world federal government is the crucial problem of our time. Until it is solved, all other issues, whether national or international, will remain unsettled. It is not between free enterprise and planned economy, nor between capitalism and communism that the choice lies, but between federalism and power politics. Federalism alone can assure the survival of man. (http://www.ena.lu/)
World federalists have understood from the beginning that the central problem is the so-called sovereignty of autonomous nation-states. As George Keeton put it in 1939, “national sovereignty is the evil genius of inter-national relations” (in Harris 2005: 2), or, as W. B. Curry put it the same year: “the tragic and futile idiocy of international anarchy” (ibid.). About this same time, a parliamentary committee in the British House of Commons chaired by Usborne produced a plan for a Crusade for World Government.
This was endorsed by some 78 members of parliament as well as by many leading famous personalities. Usborne toured the U.S. to the acclamation of audiences in many U.S. cities. A movement was begun called “Parliamentarians for World Federation.” The emergency Committee of American Atomic Scientists, led by Albert Einstein (himself a world federalist), made a large financial donation. Plans were made by the Crusade for World Government to call a World Constituent Assembly at which a constitution for the Earth might be drafted. A significant worldwide movement was well under way, a movement that was proliferating into many flourishing world federalist organizations.
In 1947, several U.S. world federalist organizations met in Ashville, North Carolina. There, World Federalists USA merged with four other organizations to become the United World Federalists (later renamed the World Federalist Association (WFA)). These organizations had also participated in the Montreux Congress and were member organizations of the World Movement for World Federal Government that, by 1948, boasted more than 50 affiliated organizations totaling 150,000 members.
The United World Federalists of the U.S. subsequently focused on U.N. reform and minimized the call for a World Constitutional Convention. Leaders such as Mildred Riordan Blake, committed to the call for developing a world constitution to replace or supersede the U.N. Charter, broke away from the United World Federalists in 1955, establishing the American Movement for World Government (AMWG). This ideological schism has long been perhaps the central point of disagreement among world federalist groups: whether to engage with reforming the U.N. or whether to work toward replacing the U.N. Charter with an effective, democratic world constitution.
In the heyday of the movement immediately following WWII and the atomic bombings, it appeared as if there could be an assembly to draft a world federal constitution that might be ratified by the United Nations. Many members of parliaments in the U.S., Britain, and Europe were by then supporters of federal world government. A Peoples’ World Assembly movement was founded in 1948 and 1949, and meetings were held in Europe preparatory for a Peoples’ World Convention to take place in Geneva in 1950 with the idea of setting in motion the process leading to a world constitution. Two leaders in this movement, supported by the United World Federalists, were Gerry Krause and Fyke Farmer. Farmer was a legislator in the state of Tennessee, and Krause founded a magazine called Across Frontiers to promote the idea of drafting a world constitution. Many parliamentarians from the U.S., Britain, and European nations affirmed by vote the plan for a World Constituent Assembly.
The Peoples’ World Convention met in Geneva at the end of December 1950 with 500 representatives from 47 countries, many of them legislators from the U.S. and various European countries. This meeting was in some ways both the high point of the world federalist groundswell and the beginning of its rapid decline. The Convention passed many resolutions but made little progress toward drafting (or formulating a methodology for drafting) a world constitution.
Plans were made for a follow-up meeting in Paris in 1951 but Gerry Krause soon became enthusiastic for reforming the U.N. by creating an elected second chamber that would directly represent people (the General Assembly representing only national governments). This movement was called UN + P and led to a dissipation of the momentum for drafting a world constitution. Article 22 of the U.N. Charter allows the General Assembly to create additional bodies, so that the creation of a peoples’ parliament as part of the U.N. seemed more practical and immediately realizable. Critics claimed that a powerless second chamber added to a powerless and undemocratic first chamber would make little difference. The Paris meetings were deeply divided and accomplished little, and, to this day, a Peoples’ Parliament within the U.N. system has yet to be created.
Perhaps the major cause of the decline of the movement at that moment in history, however, was the immense propaganda of fear and misunderstanding generated by the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the perception that the Communist movement was bent on totalitarian world domination. Many people could not conceive of federating the democracies with so-called Communist dictatorships. The Association to Unite the Democracies was sometimes criticized as not being a real world federalist movement but rather a Cold War movement to unite the “free world” in resistance to Communism, just as earlier it had been a movement to unite the democracies in resistance to Nazism.
Meanwhile, many European federalists began to focus their energies on uniting Europe under a European Union, and many British and American federalists concentrated efforts on reforming the U.N. to make it more democratic, universally representative, and legally binding. The visionary enthusiasm for creating an Earth Constitution was retained by a few world federalist groups and leaders, however greatly reduced in numbers and popular support. As Errol E. Harris points out: “It is ironic that as the world situation became more desperate, with the threat of a universal nuclear holocaust ever more imminent, the one means of averting disaster, the abolition of national sovereignties and the establishment of world government, lost its appeal” (1999: 189).
Another aspect of the events of the late 1940s was the birth of the World Citizen Movement. In 1948, Garry Davis entered the U.N. General Assembly and attempted to make an impromptu appeal for a world constituent assembly. Security guards prevented him from doing this, but his notoriety was assured through this and other actions during this period, and his talks attracted very large audiences. He held mass meetings in Paris during 1949, at one of which (while sharing the stage with Albert Camus and Andre Breton) he tore up his U.S. passport, declaring himself “World Citizen Number 1.” Davis argues that we are all free citizens of this planet who should not pay homage to illegitimate territorial governments with their passport regulations and other means of domination.
Davis went on to help found the World Citizens Registry in 1949, headquartered in Paris, and to establish the World Service Authority in 1954, headquartered in the U.S., which issues world identity cards, passports, and birth certificates. Davis has since ceased to agitate for a world constituent assembly in part because his World Service Authority has since been flooded by appeals from millions of desperate, displaced people in refugee camps the world over, who do not have identity documentation and, therefore, under nation-state bureaucracies, are virtually non-persons trapped in horrible circumstances. The World Service Authority has helped many of these people regain some decent life prospects.
Meanwhile in Paris, with leaders such as Jean-Marie Breton and Harold Bidmead, the World Citizens Registry continued to develop a number of programs under the heading of World Mundialism. To this day it continues to register people around the globe as world citizens and is represented by correspondents in some 40 countries of the world. Second, it supports other mundialist projects such as the movement in which towns, districts, and regions declare themselves “mundialized” or official world territories. In 1966, the World Movement for Federal World Government established an office in Hiroshima, Japan, to serve as headquarters for this territorial mundialization movement. (More than half of all Japanese live in mundialized prefectures, cities, and towns.)
Third, the movement aimed to elect an independent Peoples’ Congress from the ever-increasing number of World Citizens who have registered. This project, initiated in 1957, held its first elections in 1968. The function of the Peoples’ Congress would have been to elect a World Constituent Assembly to draft a world constitution. In 2003, a meeting of the Peoples’ Congress modified this election process and broadened organizational goals toward facilitating mundialism in a wide variety of ways, while at the same time retaining the eventual aim of a establishing a World Constituent Assembly.
4. Creation of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth
One visionary leader who persisted in the effort to create a world constitution was Henry Philip Isely. Isely had been in U.S. Federal Prison during the Second World War as a war resister who believed that both world wars had been caused at the deepest level by the lawless rivalry of sovereign imperial nations, and not, as war propaganda would have it, simply from a struggle of freedom against fascism. After the war, Isely took over the magazine Across Frontiers from Gerry Krause and proceeded to set in motion systematic, step by step plans for creating a world constitution. In 1950, he wrote a pamphlet entitled “The People Must Write the Peace” stating that the situation in the world was so dire that the people cannot wait for the moribund national governments to take the lead.
Isely and others joined the Campaign for World Government at its Chicago offices, at that time under the direction of Mary Georgia Lloyd. Along with Thane Reed, Guy Marchand, Marie Philips Scot, Margaret Isely, and others, a “World Committee for a World Constitutional Convention” was formed which, by 1961, established its headquarters in Denver, Colorado. The public call for a World Constitutional Convention was issued by the committee that same year with committed delegates from 50 countries and endorsements from several heads of state.
By 1966 the decision was made to change the name of the World Committee for a World Constitutional Convention to the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA). Margaret and Philip Isely had been using the profits from their successful Denver-based business to travel widely, recruiting prominent persons to sponsor the development of a world constitution and prepare the call for a World Constitutional Convention. Among the recipients of Philip Isely’s immense correspondence were Dr. T. P. Amerasinghe of Sri Lanka and Dr. Reinhart Ruge of Mexico, both leading world federalists who had independently arrived at similar conclusions. These activists eventually became Co-Presidents of WCPA and worked together for many years in this capacity, with Philip Isely as Secretary-General and Margaret Isely as Treasurer.
Three preparatory congresses were held in the mid-1960s, systematically building support and ideas for a world constitutional convention. The Convention, which took place in 1968 in Interlaken, Switzerland, and nearby Wolfach, Germany, drew 200 delegates from 27 countries and five continents. The Convention (now calling itself the First Constituent Assembly) formulated the major elements to be included in this constitution and elected a drafting commission of twenty-five persons, chaired by Dr. Reinhart Ruge, to complete a draft and circulate it worldwide for comment and criticism, setting the date of 1977 for its next meeting and the completion of this process. In his autobiography, Ruge writes:
Wolfach was the real beginning of the attempt to create a stable world, which would save future generations from war and misery. This was all basically due to the clear line of thought of Philip Isely, and his capacity to find and bring together so many likewise intentioned people from around the world. I am very proud that I could be present at this important and historic Constituent Assembly. (2004: 305)
In 1972, five key members of this drafting commission met for two continuous months in Denver, Colorado, and created the first draft of A Constitution for the Federation of Earth. The following year this was circulated worldwide for comments and criticisms. In 1975, all these comments were collected and circulated worldwide, and in 1976 a second draft of the Constitution was prepared by the commission. This new draft was then also circulated worldwide as preparatory for the Second Constituent Assembly that met in Innsbruck, Austria in June 1977. At Innsbruck, this collectively revised draft for the Constitution was debated and amended paragraph by paragraph by the delegates. It was then adopted with 138 signatories from 25 nations and six continents.
In the following two years, the Constitution for the Federation of Earth was translated into a number of languages, sent to all Heads of State, and circulated widely. In response to a common criticism that no national governments had participated at Innsbruck, a Third Constituent Assembly met at the Hotel Ranmuthu in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1979, hosted by WCPA Co-President, Dr. Terence Amerasinghe. This body did not find it necessary to amend the Constitution. Rather, the Assembly issued a Declaration of the Rights of People to assemble, draft a constitution, and obtain ratification. A key issue of world federalism (and important for the future of humankind) was thus delineated at this point. Does the future of the world lie entirely in the hands of illegitimate sovereign national entities militarizing the world and creating ever more weapons of death and destruction? Or do citizens of the Earth have the right and duty to take charge in creating a decent world order for themselves and future generations?
During the 1980s, the World Constitution and Parliament Association focused on organizing sessions of the Provisional World Parliament under the authority of Article 19 of the Earth Constitution. The Parliament met in Brighton, England, in 1982, Delhi, India, in 1985, and Miami Beach, Florida, in 1987. However, criticisms of small details in the wording of the Constitution kept surfacing to the point where it was deemed necessary to call one final World Constituent Assembly for 1991. This was held in Troia, Portugal, at which time the delegates adopted 59 (mostly small) changes in wording within the Constitution and renewed the worldwide campaign for its ratification, which was then called the Global Ratification and Elections Network (GREN) and later known as the Earth Federation Movement (EFM).
During the 1980s, the initial sessions of the Provisional World Parliament were quite successful. The first session in 1982, at the famous Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England, attracted delegates from 25 nations and six continents. The impressive inauguration of the Parliament was presided over by Sir Chaudry Mohammed Zafrullah Kahn of Pakistan, who was former President of the U.N. General Assembly and former foreign minister for his country. Officers of the Parliament included such notables as Lucile Green (later President of the World Citizens Assembly), Max Habicht (renowned international lawyer), and A.B. Patel, then Secretary-General of the Sri Aurobindo Movement and World Union, headquartered in Pondicherry, India.
The Second Session in 1985 inaugurated before a packed house in the famous Constitution Club of Delhi (where the Constitution of India had been signed). It was opened by the then President of India, Zail Singh, and chaired by the then Speaker of the Lok Sabha (the lower house in India’s Parliament), the Hon Bal Ram Jakhar. The Third Session met at the huge Fontainbleu Hilton Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida for eleven days of intense work during June 1987. Along with passing a number of important world legislative acts, it included an exposition for developing countries to show their products and wares and began the elaboration of the Ministries of Provisional World Government as sanctioned by Article 19 of the Earth Constitution.
During this decade, hundreds of organizations worldwide were committing support to the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. The heads of some of the poor nations were expressing interest and meeting with WCPA leaders. The campaign for ratification of the Constitution was in full swing with the signatures of personal ratifiers flooding into the Denver offices of WCPA, and a large network of WCPA chapters and organizational affiliations were developed throughout the world.
The WCPA claims that it has experiential evidence, going back to the early 1980s, of intentional subversion of its movement by behind the scenes Superpower manipulation. But after the very successful first three sessions of the Provisional World Parliament in 1982, 85, and 87, this subversion became devastating. Heads of State of small countries who were very interested suddenly and inexplicably reversed themselves and would have nothing more to do with WCPA. Massive, last minute, unexplained denial of visas prevented successful meetings in which hundreds of delegates were registered to come. Nations that had offered to host a reception for Provisional World Parliament delegates suddenly turned hostile, without explanation.
For whatever reasons, the growing success of the movement to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth momentarily stalled, although the organization to this day remains committed to the project, and Philip Isely was personally quite devastated by the obvious subversion of the Fourth and Fifth sessions of the Parliament (which the present author attended) that took place in Barcelona, Spain in 1996 and on the island of Malta in 2001. Margaret Isely had died in 1996, and Philip remarried in 2001. Now 85 years old, his activism and support for the movement soon began to wane. Alarmed members of the Executive Council reconstituted a “new WCPA” (described in the conclusion to this volume) that began with the Sixth Session of the Parliament in Bangkok, Thailand in March 2003. Yet Isely’s truly great contribution remains: for he was the central figure behind the worldwide movement to create the Earth Constitution that remains the greatest hope for humankind today.
Due to the intimidation that small countries have received after expressing interest in the Earth Constitution, the Earth Federation Movement presently deems it best not to urge individual small countries to ratify alone. There is a realistic fear that such action could lead to their overthrow or subversion, perhaps even to military invasion. The current campaign for ratification urges countries to talk to one another privately and then to ratify the Constitution simultaneously as a group, thus greatly reducing the possibility of subversion, overthrow, or invasion.
Many world federalists today believe that today the time is ripe for a massive revival of public support for the ideals of world federalism. The Cold War has ended, the threat of WMDs remains, and a new common enemy has caught the attention of the world: the menace of global warming and climate change that they believe can only be successfully dealt with through federal world government. (The new menace is not the threat of terrorism, which is largely a propaganda mechanism by which the imperial powers in NATO, led by the U.S., continue their project of global economic and military domination.) This revival has not yet happened and, while there appears to be steady growth, committed world federalists continue to promote their organizations and hope for the backing of a global mass movement.
5. World Federalism Today
Meanwhile, other world federalist organizations have worked vigorously to make changes within the U.N. during this entire 60 year period. While major U.N. reform goals of adding a Peoples’ Assembly to the General Assembly or limiting the veto power of the permanent members of the Security Council have not come about, the World Federalist Movement that came out of the Montreux Conference of 1947 and the World Federalist Association (WFA) that ultimately came out of the Ashville, NC, meeting that same year, have continued to lobby for U.N. reform.
They have influenced establishment of the U.N. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1961), campaigned for U.S. support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1969), and actively supported development of the Law of the Sea Treaty during the 1970s. They vigorously supported the development of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during the 1980s and 90s as a second U.N. affiliated court dealing with criminal charges against individuals (the International Court of Justice deals only with disputes between nations). They also work to have the voices of NGOs (as representatives of global civil society) heard and recognized within the U.N. and at U.N. Conferences.
In 2004, the U.S. based World Federalist Association changed its name to Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) and merged with the Campaign for U.N. Reform, at the same time creating for itself an advisory organization called the World Federalist Institute (WFI) to which it delegated the remaining aspects of its transformative world federalist vision. Some of the membership of WFA objected to what they perceived as the relinquishing of the federalist vision and drew apart to form the Democratic World Federalists (DWF), today headquartered in San Francisco.
At the present time, the World Federalist Movement counts among its organizational members about seven major world federalist organizations. One of these, the Japanese World Federalists, has maintained a flourishing movement perhaps because the Japanese people have carefully preserved the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thereby understanding more deeply the absolute need to bring under control the so-called right of sovereign nations to militarize themselves.
Another loose grouping of federalist organizations, the Coalition for Democratic World Government (CDWG) – with some overlap with the WFM – lists among its members nineteen world federalist organizations. There are signs of revival for the many federalist organizations that have persisted into the 21st century, for there is a growing interest in world political and economic unity. The most substantial of these organizations at present include the World Federalist Movement, Citizens for Global Solutions, the World Mundialist Movement (with its World Citizens Registry), the Association to Unite the Democracies, and the World Constitution and Parliament Association. The number of organizations having a world federalist theme is quite large but perhaps unknowable, and the variety of organizations varies immensely in resources and membership as well as ideology.
A very recent development in the movement for world federalism is the creation of a World Alliance for Transforming the United Nations (WATUN) that held its first annual congress and model U.N. Charter review conference in Mexico City during 2009, just following an annual U.N. Conference of Peace, Disarmament, and Development in that same city. However, from the viewpoint of WCPA, the U.N. has been so compromised in dozens of ways, and so colonized by the Superpower and NATO, in tandem with the current global economic system, that true reform in time to save humanity remains extremely unlikely.
A second development has been the creation of an organization called Vote World Government, based in Canada and directed by Jim Stark. It works to develop a worldwide “yes or no” referendum on world government via the internet. This referendum is supported by its Authors’ Campaign in which, to date, nearly 70 authors who have published on world federalism signed an appeal to link NGOs and individuals worldwide behind the movement for a global internet referendum on world government. This appears to be a promising development if the people of Earth, once they vote, follow through with the ratification of the Earth Constitution.
6. Proposals for U.N. Reform
We have seen the fundamental idea of World Federalism is world peace through enforceable democratically legislated world lawwithin a federated world order. We have also seen that a central contention among world federalist groups involves the means by which to progress toward this goal. Is the goal best served through registering world citizens, through mundializing ever more world territory, through reforming the U.N., through working to hold a future World Constituent Assembly, or through ratifying an existing Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Perhaps all of these initiatives will have a synergistic effect that will ultimately help humankind realize the goal of world peace. Ideas concerning which routes are most practical and common sense vary widely. U.N. reformers often think of themselves as doing what is most practical and realistic in the present situation. But advocates of creating or ratifying a world constitution insist that, given the lethal global crises we are facing, getting the world immediately under an effective constitution is most practical and realistic.
We have seen that U.N. reform initiatives have taken on certain broad goals such as increasing the inclusion of global civil society in U.N. deliberations, strengthening the International Court of Justice and the new International Criminal Court, enlarging the Security Council and curtailing the veto power of its five permanent members, creating a Peoples’ Assembly to complement the General Assembly, strengthening U.N. capacity to initiate and sustain peacekeeping operations, or other amendments that modify national sovereignty and the treaty system in the direction of binding, enforceable law. As such, the answer to the question “How would it work?” would require a description of the operational value of each of these specific U.N. reforms.
There have also been a number of well-known proposals for general U.N. reform. One initiative is the Binding Triad Proposal that comes from Richard Hudson and the Center for War/Peace Studies. The proposal argues that there would be an adequate basis for world legislative action by amending Article 13 of the U.N. Charter. If adopted the amendment would allow the General Assembly to make binding legislation on issues that it agrees to be world issues. For a resolution to be binding it would require support from (1) a majority of the nations in the U.N., (2) whose combined financial contributions comprise a majority of the U.N. budget, and (3) whose combined populations comprise a majority of the world’s population.
Another proposal, entitled Revitalizing the United Nations: Reform through Weighted Voting by Joseph E. Schwartzberg from the Institute for World Policy of the World Federalist Movement, presents another version of a binding triad. General Assembly votes would be binding on selected global issues on the basis of (1) its percentage share of the population of all U.N. members, (2) its financial contribution as a percentage of the total U.N. budget, and (3) its legal share of total U.N. membership (e.g. 1/192 members). Hence the formula for this weighted voting for binding resolutions is WV = P + C + M divided by 3.
Criticisms of these proposals include that idea that money should not be a determining factor in a binding vote and the idea that there are many other U.N. issues that would require consideration concurrently with such proposals. For example, binding legislation would appear relatively useless unless it can be enforced by civilian police who have the authority to arrest individuals. Under the current system of militarized nation-states, the attempt to arrest individuals within a hostile state is likely to result in war. Beyond such specific proposals, substantial books like World Peace Through World Law by Clark and Sohn (1958) advocate reform in every aspect of the U.N. System. These examples make clear that a great deal of creativity and energy has gone into attempts to reform the U.N. And we have seen that some progress has been made, such as the important creation of the ICC.
7. Proposals for an Earth Constitution
More than 150 constitutions have been written for the Earth. Of these, there are a few that are significant, substantial proposals that have often been compared with one another. One of the earliest was A Constitution for the World published in Santa Barbara in 1948 by the Committee to Frame a World Constitution made up of several prominent Americans, including several associated with the University of Chicago (sometimes called the Chicago Constitution).
Journey to a Governed World (1991) by Lucille W. Green (founder and President of the World Citizens Assembly) compares this constitution with three other proposed world constitutions. In Emerging World Law (2009), Eugenia Almand compares another four world constitutions or U.N. reform proposals. And in Rethinking World Government (2005), James A. Yunker compares four major proposals: (1) the above named 1948 Constitution for a Federal Republic of the World; “(2) the proposal of Grenville Clark and Louis Sohn for a strengthened United Nations; (3) the proposal of Philip Isely for a Federation of Earth” and (4) his own proposal for a “Federal Union of Democratic Nations.” Here Yunker mistakenly calls Philip Isely the author of A Constitution for the Federation of Earth, which actually, we have seen, had four or five primary authors, working within a committee of 25 world citizens, with input from hundreds of citizens from many countries.
It is these features, and its unique history reviewed above, that make A Constitution for the Federation of Earth stand apart for special focus in this historical overview. As we have seen, it was created by several primary authors meeting in Denver, Colorado for four months during 1972 (Philip Isely from the U.S., Dr. T. P. Amerasinghe from Sri Lanka, Hon. S. M. Husain the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, D. M. Spenser, professor of law from India, and, through regular telephone conversations, Dr. Max Habicht from Switzerland). Subsequently, the committee worked in constant interaction with hundreds of world citizens as they refined their draft, which was outlined in 1968, and moved through a series of three additional Constituent Assemblies from 1977 to 1991.
The Constitution states that the purposes of the world government are those areas of planetary existence that are beyond the scope of nations: (1) the ending of war and securing of disarmament, (2) protecting universal human rights and equal opportunity for everyone on Earth, (3) promoting prosperity and decent economic standards for all persons, (4) regulating world trade, currency, and resources, (5) protecting the global environment, and (6) devising solutions for all problems beyond the capacity of national governments.
It creates a parliamentary system with a tri-cameral legislature: a House of Peoples, directly representing people from 1000 electoral districts worldwide, a House of Nations, with one to three representatives from each nation depending on its population, and a House of Counselors, with 200 representatives elected to represent the Earth as a whole. Under this World Parliament are the four main branches of the government: the World Courts, the World Executive, the World Attorney Generals and Police, and the World Ombudsmus.
The Ombudsmus is a worldwide agency of the Earth Federation charged to protect human rights everywhere and in all contexts, including with respect to the operation of the world government itself. The Earth Federation is nonmilitary (Article 2) with “ultimate sovereignty residing in all the people who live upon the Earth.” The World Executive is run by a Presidium of five persons, one from each continental division of Earth. It has no authority to suspend the Constitution or not to administer the budget given to it by Parliament. The Constitution proposes to integrate all viable agencies of the U.N. into the Earth Federation.
It should be noted that this government designed by this Earth Constitution is powerful. It is also carefully designed to prevent tyranny and abuse of power. It has two bills of rights (Articles 12 and 13) that include many economic and social rights. The clear assumption is that broad power is needed if the World Federal Government is really going to turn around and restore the threatened environment, really protect an extensive list of human rights, really create prosperity for all, and really end war and disarm the nations of the world. Article 18 makes provision for amendments, and the Constitution requires constitutional review every twenty years to ensure that the government based upon it really serves the needs of the people of Earth. Article 17 divides ratification and implementation into three broad stages so that the process does not appear as an insurmountable obstacle.
The World Constitution and Parliament Association continues to promote its ratification, its translation and distribution into ever more languages, and the development of Provisional World Government under its authority. At the Eighth Session of the Provisional World Parliament in 2004, the Parliament passed World Legislative Act 29, the Elections Act, creating a Global Peoples’ Assembly to supplement and empower worldwide direct participation in the electoral processes of the House of Peoples. The Constitution creates a powerful, non-military democratic world government, while encouraging, in a multiplicity of ways, grass roots participation.
8. Conclusion: A World Federal Constitution as a Human Right
World Federalism constitutes perhaps the most important strand within the many peace movements that have flourished for the better part of the past century. Many of its adherents, we have seen, consider themselves world citizens first, and nation-state citizens only second. Perhaps, as Garry Davis insists, we are all world citizens simply by virtue of living on planet Earth. In addition, this phrase often serves as a legal designation of people who have procured a world citizen identity card from the World Citizens Registry or the World Service Authority or who have personally ratified the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, thereby becoming legal world citizens under its authority.
The idea of world citizenship, of course, can also indicate a self-designation in which people think in terms of their fundamental humanity. Perhaps understanding oneself as a world citizen in this last way is becoming fundamental to many within peace movements around the world. As one world federalist, Donald Keys (former U.N. representative for the World Association of World Federalists) writes concerning this self-understanding:
It has to do with an experience of something additional, which we have called loosely over time, “humanity.” It remains for most people a concept, an abstract. I want to tell you that when you feel the integral nature of humanity per se, you will say: “That is something totally new. That is something totally different. I never experienced that before. Humanity’s integral reality is one of the most exciting, beautiful things I could possibly imagine.” Then you become enthused about the possibilities, because you can perceive what is trying to happen and is, in fact, in the process of occurring. (1977: 94)
Regardless of supporting arguments, partisan loyalties, or lack of wide public support, many world federalists have had this experience – and continue to be “enthused about the possibilities” by working for a legally unified world order, premised on the principle of unity in diversity, that has finally established the reality of world peace through world law.
The Earth Constitution, however, goes beyond the personal experience of recognizing our fundamental humanity that is common to many world federalists. It objectively recognizes every human being as a legally empowered and protected world citizen whose rights include sufficient basic necessities, health, care, and education, as well as world peace and a protected environment. Those many thousands of world citizens who have personally ratified the Earth Constitution can appeal to an objective, universally available document that articulates and protects their fundamental humanity and universal human rights.
The Constitution goes beyond the common moral claim of world federalists that everyone’s ‘human rights should be respected’ to the embodiment of these rights within democratically legislated, enforceable world law. Internationally known Professor of Jurisprudence Raymond Wacks describes the evolutionary development of this concept of rights:
Human rights have passed through three generations. The first generation were mostly the negative civil and political rights as developed in the 17th and 18th centuries by English political philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Mill…. They are negative in the sense that they generally prohibit interference with the right-holder’s freedom….
The second generation consists in the essentially positive economic, social, and cultural rights, such as the right to education, food, or medical care. The third generation of human rights are primarily collective rights which are foreshadowed in Article 28 of the Universal Declaration which declares that ‘everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights set forth in this declaration can be fully realized’. These ‘solidarity’ rights include the right to social and economic development and to participate in and benefit from the resources of the earth and space, scientific and technical information (which are especially important to the Third World), the right to a healthy environment, peace, and humanitarian disaster relief. (2006: 58)
Of all the constitutions written to date, and of all the world federalist initiatives undertaken during the past 60 years, none except the Earth Constitution comes even close to actualizing this “third generation of human rights” promised and “foreshadowed” by Article 28 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For to actualize a world where the environment is protected, and peace is mandated by law, and reasonable economic equality for all the Earth’s citizens is assured, the fragmented paradigm of nation-state sovereignty (on which the U.N. Charter is based) must be superseded by the unity in diversity of enforceable universal democracy. The Earth Constitution provides the concrete embodiment of this new holistic paradigm.
The Earth Constitution is the only constitution on Earth that has progressed through this dynamic process of global authorship, and has been authorized and given preliminary ratification at four constituent assemblies. It is the only constitution that has a worldwide organization behind it, and that has been translated into 23 languages. It does not seek to abolish the U.N. but to integrate the many viable U.N. agencies into the emerging Earth Federation under its authority. It recognizes that federal world government is both a right and a duty for all people.
The Earth Constitution represents the most visionary and far reaching aspect of world federalism, focusing on what is needed most and immediately if the world is to have a decent future at all. Its framers understood that one cannot “reform” the false premises of a war system or an exploitation system to create peace or justice. A peace system must be founded on correct premises from the very beginning. It embodies not only those second generation rights that eliminate extreme, involuntary poverty but third generation rights to peace and a healthy environment.
It embodies an original and paradigmatic green global order, protecting our planetary environment in dozens of ways woven into the texture of its 19 articles, and recognizing an ecologically sound environment as a human right. The Constitution establishes a powerful, integrated, and enforceable peace system for the Earth far superior to that proposed by other constitutions, let alone the institutionalized war-making of the current U.N. system. In the face of our global crises transcending all national boundaries, and the radical lack of alternative ways of dealing with these crises, it is indeed the most important document of the 20th and 21st centuries.