The Political Legitimacy of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth

Dr. Glen T. Martin

Secretary-General, World Constitution and Parliament Association

Some people in the broad movement for democratic world government have recently become interested in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth as a prototype or model for people to study who wish to develop thinking toward an earth constitution. The leadership of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) very much affirms the idea that groups thinking about a constitution for the Earth use the WCPA Constitution as a model or paradigm that they might like to draw from. We support all initiatives that move the world forward toward a world of freedom, justice, and world law.

However, this raises the issue of the special legal situation that many of us in the WCPA find ourselves in with respect to the Earth Constitution. We are not offering the Constitution for the Federation of Earth as a model or suggestion or proposal for the people of Earth. Many people within the WCPA recognize it as the supreme law of planet Earth. Since the Constitution is not generally accepted by the population of the Earth, and since it does not have institutional mechanisms to enforce itself as the supreme law for the Earth, this places its current status in a very interesting "in-between" legal position. In what way is the Constitution for the Federation of Earth "politically legitimate"?

Often encyclopedia definitions of "political legitimacy" will specify that a set of laws, regime, or constitution must be popularly recognized or accepted to be politically legitimate. But such a notion is problematic in several ways. As you may know, there was a well-known debate in the 1960s between revolutionary political thinker C. Wright Mills and liberal political thinker Robert A. Dahl over issue of political legitimacy in the United States. Mills argued that the United States government was under the control of a tiny elite and that its popular mandate with the people was engineered through propaganda and manipulation. Dahl argued that there were a variety of elite groups struggling with one another and that legitimacy was more widespread and less manipulated that Mills thought. Dahl called this "polyarchy.

"Popular acceptance and obedience to a set of laws alone cannot make political legitimacy. People recognize and obey authorities for all kinds of reasons. People have obeyed oppressive and morally illegitimate authorities out of fear, habit, cowardice, feeling of powerlessness, religious tradition, ideological manipulation, etc. And philosophers of democracy has often argued that democratic institutions alone are legitimate. Other forms of government fail to meet the universal moral principles that give democracy its legitimacy: the recognition of universal human rights, the equality of all under the laws, the right to politically participate in government, sovereignty of the people, etc.

The social contract theory behind the U.S. system (referred to in the Declaration of Independence) makes this point about legitimacy and argues that the right of revolution resides in the people and "whenever any government is in violation of these rights it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."  Hence, the ultimate appeal of political legitimacy are universal moral principles, and democracy is thought to be the only system (which can take various forms) that is therefore legitimate. These ideas are not just "philosophical hot air" for real revolutions have been based on them such as the French and U.S. revolutions. Similar ideas have entered into many subsequent revolutions, for example, the Cuban revolution of 1959 and the Nicaraguan revolution of 1979, both of which began with a small cadre of revolutionaries who justified their actions, and their subsequent regimes, on moral principles.

Authentic revolutionaries (as opposed to power-grabbers who have effected coups, subversions of the people, take-overs, etc.) have always operated out of this sort of justification. Many of us in the WCPA are non-violent revolutionaries. We are not trying to evolve the world (as my opening speech at the Eighth Session of the Parliament, "A Founded World Order versus an Evolved World Order," asserted). Revolutionaries claim that the current order is illegitimate. The attempt to evolve political legitimacy within the present context of mass propaganda and manipulation, power brokering, and systems of domination and subversion is futile and hopeless. It only allows the controlling elite to forever postpone the morally legitimate world order. In the complex world of mass media owned by dominant elites today, to what extent are people manipulated by dictatorial governments and their super-wealthy sponsors to maintain the perception of democratic legitimacy when there is none?

The "Declaration on the Rights of People..." (unanimously passed at the Eighth Session of the Provisional World Parliament) asserts that all the dominant institutions of today's world (governments, the U.N. and the economic system) are illegitimate. They are not only illegitimate because they are not genuine democracies (although they are not). They are also illegitimate because they cannot satisfy the universal demands of morality that apply to every human being. The declaration makes this very clear. It also makes clear that one of the universal demands of morality is that people live under the rule of democratically legislated laws. Otherwise we are in a condition of "defacto war," as the document states.

Given this situation today, the many thousands of people who chose to write, ratify, and sign the Constitution for the Federation of Earth have realized that it is their right and moral duty to live under the rule of universal democratic constitutional law. By becoming a personal ratifier of the Constitution, I recognize it as the supreme law of planet Earth. This is a revolutionary act. I am morally obligated to live under universal democratic law. There is no such law to be found anywhere on Earth except in the form of the Constitution. Therefore, I recognize the Constitution as law.

This means that (for many personal ratifiers such as myself) the Constitution is not and cannot be a proposal, a mere prototype, as suggestion, a creative input into the evolution of a decent world order. If it is law, then laws can only be changed by legal democratic procedures (as outlined by the Constitution). Otherwise we are in a condition of chaos and defacto war where there is no genuine law.  The Constitution has this strange legal status, therefore. (Similar to the status of all revolutionary documents.) It is recognized as law by a minority (on the extremely substantial grounds of universal moral principles) at the same time that it is not yet popularly recognized by the people of Earth.

On what grounds does one and should one obey the law? They should be moral grounds. The fact that I obey some laws (of nation states) because of fear of punishment does not give those laws legitimacy. (Professor Errol E. Harris writes about this issue in his book One World or None (2000) and again in his book Earth Federation Now (2005).) We who see the moral demand to live under the rule of universal democratic law must take the Constitution as the politically legitimate document that it is. It is not a proposal. It is the law of the world, superseding all merely national laws (themselves illegitimate in the current world disorder).

The sessions of the Provisional World Parliament share this same "in-between" status of political legitimacy. They are held under the authority of Article 19 of the Constitution and the laws they pass are real world law with this "in-between two worlds" legitimacy status. While they are not binding on the real world parliament once it has been activated (upon ratification of the Constitution), they will be a tremendous asset and impetus to that parliament, giving it guidelines that will influence the entire spirit of the emerging world government. The "Declaration of the Rights of Peoples..." has this same status since it was ratified by the Eighth Session. It can only be changed through a properly introduced proposal at the Ninth or subsequent sessions. It is now an official declaration of the emerging Earth Federation, beyond my personal control.

That is why these sessions of the Provisional World Parliament are of world-historical significance. They are not mere conferences, nor assemblies of do-gooders trying to produce a better world (as the "Declaration on the Rights of People..." puts it). They are representations of the emerging "in-between two worlds" politically legitimate world order. Once ratified, only a subsequent, legitimately assembled (under Article 19) parliament can change their determinations.  While we support those in other world government movements who wish to use the Constitution as a prototype or suggestion, for those of us who have made the revolutionary decision to live under the rule of universal democratic laws, the Constitution can only be changed in two ways.

One, of course, would be after it has been ratified by the people and nations of Earth. There are provisions in the Constitution for amendments and changes. The other is for another Constituent Assembly to be called under the WCPA by-laws. There have been four Constituent Assemblies so far in 1968, 1977,1979, and 1991. There is no a priori reason why another could not be called. I personally would use great caution and hesitation in doing this, however, because to open the Constitution easily to revision would weaken its promotion for official ratification by the people and nations of Earth. It would diminish its status as the official Constitution of the emerging Earth Federation and return it to the status of a mere proposal.

We affirm and support all who make friendly suggestions to us or who work toward a similar goal of a democratically legitimate world order. But we cannot change our moral stance as revolutionaries who have committed ourselves to leave the state of defacto war and live under the rule of universal law. We now even have a pledge of allegiance, officially ratified by the Seventh Session of Parliament, and hence not alterable except by a subsequent act of parliament. 

People can take this pledge, and commit themselves to be citizens of a truly new, and morally legitimate, world order. At the opening ceremonies of the Eighth Session of Parliament, the audience, led by Eugenia Almand, read this pledge aloud. It is very powerful. If people all over the world begin taking this pledge, a new world order will emerge before our very eyes. It is a pledge, an oath, a commitment to live one's life as a legally constituted world citizen under the genuine rule of universal law.

Below is the Pledge that has been taken by many world citizens and serves as a basis for the "act of civil obedience" taking one's life out of the immoral condition of the present world disorder (with no legitimate law) and placing one's life under morally grounded universal world law.  This pledge was approved by the Provisional World Parliament.  Below the Pledge is the Declaration of the Rights of Peoples unanimously approved by the delegates of the Eighth Session of the Provisional World Parliament.




A Pledge of Allegiance to the Federation of Earth


I pledge allegiance to the Constitution for the Federation of Earth,

       and to the Republic of free world citizens for which it stands,

One Earth Federation, protecting by law the rich diversity of the Earth's citizens,

One Earth Federation, protecting the precious ecology of our planet.

I pledge allegiance to the World Parliament representing all nations and peoples,

  and to the democratic processes by which it proceeds,

One law for the Earth, with freedom and equality for all,

One standard of justice, with a bill of rights protecting each.

I pledge allegiance to the future generations protected by the Earth Constitution,

       And to the unity, integrity, and beauty of humankind, living in harmony on the Earth,

One Earth Federation, conceived in love, truth, and hope,

 with peace and prosperity for all.




Declaration of the Rights of the People of Earth

to create and ratify a World Constitution and hold sessions of the

 Provisional World Parliament

Unanimously ratified

at the Eighth Session of the Provisional World Parliament, August 2004



We, the citizens of the Earth, have the right and duty to establish a viable world government capable of maintaining the Rule of Law among all nations in place of the disastrous anarchy now prevailing among sovereign states, to abolish massively destructive armaments and end all wars, to protect the global environment for future generations, and to create economic justice and prosperity for all the citizens of our planet.

1. These are the times the world will not soon forget. Future historians will wonder how a few of us maintained our sanity and dignity in the face of the global breakdown of world order. Never in history have so many people been starving to death on Earth. Never have so many people lacked clean water or sanitation. Never has there been so much poverty and misery.

Never in history have so many people possessed so many weapons and engaged in continuous mutual slaughter of one another – in Columbia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Uganda, Chechnya, Iraq, and elsewhere. Never have human beings everywhere on Earth been so insecure. Never has the average person anywhere on Earth felt so afraid and the future seemed so hopeless. Fifteen years after the collapse of the USSR, the threat of a global nuclear holocaust remains in place, while the superpower continues to develop space-based and tactical nuclear weapons.

Nowhere in previous history has the world faced a possible breakdown of its planetary ecosystem. Never has the ozone layer that protects the Earth from the sun’s deadly radiation been threatened. Never have the ocean fisheries been collapsing from over-fishing, never before has grazing land been turning to desert on a global scale from overgrazing, never has agricultural land disappeared at the astonishing rates that we see today. Never before has the world’s fresh water supply been endangered.

2. Some people in every age of historical crisis have been the visionaries, the civilizers, the advanced thinkers who see the way forward beyond the narrow assumptions and petty issues of their day. Some people in every age have spoken for universal principles, for justice and human dignity, for equality and freedom among nations, peoples, and individuals of the Earth. These are the civilizers; these are the voice of legitimate creativity. These are the ones who establish new institutions and give renewed hope for the future.

The legitimacy of an action is not always whether it is approved by some majority. Very often in history the majority have represented reaction, intolerance, and injustice. The legitimacy of an action is whether it moves history forward toward greater universality. The innovators within history, like the writers of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have always been a tiny minority.

The legitimacy of their work derives from its universality. The movement of history, the extension of rights, is from the tribe to the clan to the territory to the nation to the entire planet. The ultimate universality is the sovereignty of the people of Earth. New eras of legitimacy in history have been initiated by those who extended human rights and freedom to ever greater numbers of people and to those who promoted the just rule of law in human affairs.

The criterion of legitimacy in human affairs is moral universality. The core of democracy is not majority rule but the protection of minorities from both majorities and tyrants. It is equal rights for all under just laws. Nor is legitimacy derived from either power or existing institutions by themselves. Gigantic systems of power have existed historically from the Roman Empire to the many European Empires, to the present American Empire. The fact of military, bureaucratic, or institutional power does not lend legitimacy.

The only criterion is whether human rights, dignity, freedom, and justice prevail because of these institutions. This is why democracy is the ultimate criterion of legitimacy, democracy defined as any system that promotes rights, dignity, freedom, and justice in human affairs. Only global democracy represents the sovereignty of the people of Earth.

3. The present institutions of the world are failed institutions. The global economic system has not led to prosperity for most of the Earth’s citizens, but to starvation, poverty, disease, and misery for the majority. The present global political systems of the world, called territorial nation-states, have not led to a just or peaceful world order, but to endless wars, destruction of peoples and cultures, imperial domination and conquest, and global systems of exploitation of the weaker by the stronger.

The United Nations has not led to a world where the many rights listed in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been extended to the Earth’s citizens, but to denial of those rights for the majority and continuous increase in war, poverty, social chaos, and environmental destruction. By the criterion of legitimacy set forth in this document, these institutions have made themselves illegitimate. Citizens of Earth have the right and duty to create new institutions that represent the people of Earth.

4. The sovereignty of the people of Earth is represented in those who seek universal human political, social, and economic rights. The sovereignty of the people of Earth is represented in those who seek universal economic justice and the common good of all who live on Earth. The sovereignty of the people of Earth is represented by those who promote the rule of law on Earth and an end to the barbaric rule of militarized force and violence. The sovereignty of the people of Earth is represented by those who seek global democracy in the form of federal world government.

It is irrelevant whether the people of Earth elected representatives to write the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. What matters is that the people of Earth have the opportunity to ratify the Constitution and begin the rule of just law in the world. It is irrelevant whether delegates to the Provisional World Parliament were elected by their countries as representatives to the Parliament. What matters is that the delegates promote universal human rights, justice, freedom, and prosperity.

Those who represent the people of Earth in this quest are not self-appointed partisans of special interests. Such self-appointed demagogues are easily identifiable by their programs that always deny rights and dignity to those they oppose. Delegates to the Provisional World Parliament are appointed, under Article 19 of the Constitution, by the universal principle of morality on which the Constitution is based that is the criterion of legitimacy in human political and economic affairs. Their work includes all persons on Earth, and excludes none.

5. At this juncture of world history, no nation can have a fully legitimate democracy. For the very existence of “sovereign” nations means that the rights of those outside their borders are ignored or betrayed. At this junction of world history, no nation can protect the environment for future generations. For the destruction of the planetary ecosystem is beyond the scope and effectiveness of any nation-state.

At this juncture of world history, no nation can create economic justice. For in today’s globalized economy, prosperity for individual nations always involves exploitation and poverty for other nations. The nation-state system is dead. Only those representing global democracy through federal world government can possibly represent legitimacy in human affairs.

The present world system not only embodies failed institutions but it is also built on morally illegitimate institutions. Every human being is morally required to live under democratically legislated universal laws. Without the rule of law, human affairs are always in a defacto state of war in which the stronger or more clever will be able to take advantage of the weaker.

Genuine law legislates equality, freedom, and the principle of justice for all. Yet in the world system today there is no genuine law, for nations are all victims to the social, military, and economic chaos that characterizes international affairs and afflicts all persons living within particular nation-states. The unenforceable pronouncements of the treaty-system that constitutes the United Nations is a travesty of genuine “international law.” We are morally required to live under universal democracy and federal world government representing all persons on Earth equally and creating the just rule of enforceable law on Earth.

6. In the face of our world condition in the past five decades, world citizens had every right to create the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. In the face of the global chaos resulting from monopoly capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states, these world citizens also had a duty to write a Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We do not characterize these acts as the noble actions of do-gooders contributing to the human project. We describe here the universal duty of every person on Earth to live under the rule of enforceable world law.

Our work is not only more legitimate than that of politicians within nations who pass legislation excluding the majority of humanity from the laws they write. Our work is absolutely obligated by the demand for universality in human affairs and by the need to protect future generations from the lethal consequences of present institutions. It is with this understanding that we affirm our right and duty to hold future sessions of the Provisional World Parliament, to work unceasingly to activate the fledgling institutions of democratic world government, and to communicate to every citizen on Earth the absolute need to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.



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