A world government structure, if it is to promote a better world, must have certain
characteristics, each of which is essential for its proper functioning. It must be
universal, permanently peaceful, equitable to all, environmentally sustainable,
democratic, federal in structure, observing the principle of subsidiarity, unifying
humanity, and preserving cultural diversity. These nine characteristics are briefly
1. Universality. A partial (embryo) world government, aspiring to become global but not yet containing all countries, may be necessary at the beginning, but has the danger that it will never become all-inclusive, and may merely become another state contesting for world power like all the rest. Suggestions for partial federations, or the "union of democracies", should be avoided. The U.N. is universal, but it is not a world government.
2. Permanent peace. A world government would avoid international war, almost by definition, but must also prevent internal or civil wars, by being equitable (condition 3). Peace must become so firmly established that war is unthinkable, as it already is in a few world regions such as Scandinavia. Peace also implies total disarmament by all countries, and possession of only police-level weapons by the world government.
3. Equity or justice. This involves above all economic redistribution between rich and poor countries, by means of fair trade, aid from a disarmament fund, debt forgiveness, and other appropriate means. Since the Earth could not support all at the North American - European level, the latter must come down somewhat in material standards of living, to help the others up.
4. Environmental sustainability. This means that the present generation uses resources and excretes wastes only at such a rate that future generations can continue to do so, not only for seven generations, but (barring accidents) forever.
5. Democracy. This means that a popularly elected world legislature is essential. "Global governance" is not enough, because global agencies would not be directly accountable to the people. There must be multi-party elections by secret ballot, freedom of the press, and protection for minorities.
6. Federal structure. There should be about six levels, from neighbourhood government through municipal, provincial-state-cantonal, national, continental, to global. Each level should be directly accountable to the people, and have democratic structure.
7. Subsidiarity principle states that problems should be solved at the lowest level possible at which there are no significant external effects. This means that the federal structure described in point 6 should be highly decentralized. This is a safeguard to prevent dictatorship and preseve democracy (point 5).
8. Human unity. We are the same species biologically, and children of one God theologically. We must behave as such. We share the same common essence of mind, reason, and feeling, from which stems our universal ethic of empathy.
9. Cultural diversity. To somewhat modify and moderate point 8, we must realize that there are many cultures in the world, and this should not only be tolerated, but celebrated as an enriching factor. Unity and diversity CAN go together.
Final remark: Economic globalization under corporate rule has none of the above characteristics. It should not be confused with what is advocated here.
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Last Update: 13 Jul 2000