In Sept. 2000, the kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers of this world went to the United Nations to update its vast governmental structure for the new millennium. One of the structural changes was to add a “People’s Parliament” where the people of the world can voice their opinion directly to the United Nations.
This forthcoming structure would complement the General Assembly where ambassadors to the U.N. represent the concerns of their countries. The People’s Parliament will consist of civil society in the form of multinational corporations, U.N. agencies, international institutions, labor unions, scientists and academia.
Both the structure of this year’s World Economic Forum and the variety of participants are different, thus leading one to conclude that it is a “People’s Parliament.” While it might not be recognized as being just that, it has all of the activity, components and objectives of a “people’s assembly” since it combines representatives from all levels of government, 1,100 chief executive officers from the world’s top multinational corporations, 350 media and opinion leaders, 120 heads of non-governmental organizations, 40 union leaders, over 50 religious leaders of different faiths and 200 representatives from academic institutions and think tanks who participated in workshops designed to achieve consensus on a variety of topics. I was told it comprises a “global town meeting.”
So what did these new actors of governance conclude?
Founder and President Klaus Schwab set the tone for the deliberations:
The challenges to the global economy – many of which preceded tragic events – present historic opportunities for new thinking for business leaders. We are gathered here to exercise, more than ever, leadership in fragile times and to develop a vision for a shared future. Your presence here demonstrates that you are deeply concerned and committed. You care about helping to build a positive, peaceful and prosperous world community, based on shared universal values and virtues. The World Economic Forum is a catalyst in bringing it all together.
It was very apparent by the rhetoric used that Sept. 11 changed the world. We are not fighting other nation-states, but faceless enemies who now have the ability to assemble weapons of mass destruction which – as a result of globalization – was only possible with countries in the past.
While the Internet connected each of us to the world electronically, globalization tore down political, trade and economic barriers between countries so that the only barriers that remain are the legal and judicial.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, one of the World Economic Forum’s co-chairs declared that the “Attack on America was an attack on the world.” Terrorism and the need for security has united the world. As such, according to Paul Bremer III, chairman, CEO, Marsh Crisis Consulting, “security is the organizing principle for American foreign policy in the first part of the 21st century – much the same way as when the Cold War became the organizing principle in 1947.”
To achieve security, it appears that our government is prepared to tear down the legal and judicial barriers between countries – they are prepared to act not as an individual country, but by forming a coalition of like-minded countries, and then to act in support of the goals and objectives of the United Nations in eliminating poverty which, they say, breeds hatred and inequity. Interestingly enough, this opens the door for the forthcoming Financing for Development Conference in Mexico in March where delegates – including President George Bush – will debate a number of controversial sources of income for the United Nations which could be considered “global taxation.”
Participants agreed that as a result of the Attack on America, it is time to allow the intelligence communities and law enforcement organizations around the world to work together unhindered. In an interview with former Sen. Sam Nunn, when asked if it is now necessary to tear down the judicial and legal barriers between countries, he said, “I think so – both in this country and abroad.” This same question was posed to Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who agreed with the “importance of internationalizing our law enforcement.”
This internationalization will begin in September when the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) hosts its first international police conference in Lyon, France. According to Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble, the internationalization of the police force “is the only thing that is missing” since both the diplomatic and military have been internationalized. Mr. Noble also pointed out that 80 of the 179 member countries don’t have the ability to communicate with each other. Furthermore, he said there is an insufficient exchange of information about countries and private groups that may be attempting to produce bio-terrorism materials. According to Sen. Graham, Homeland Defense will be issuing a report in 30 to 60 days with regard to the role of international cooperation in the security of America.
Former Sen. Nunn summarized what needs to be done in order to prepare for terrorist attacks in the future, “It is apparent that we are going to have to work [out] these problems across national borders with much more coordination between federal agencies, between federal, state and local and between various nations if we are going to deal with this kind of attack. We are in a new era and we need to think anew.”
Just how integrated are we? NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson reminded us that NATO AWACs are patrolling the skies above New York and that Europe came to the aid of the U.S. under Article Five of the NATO Treaty. Furthermore, under their Partnership for Peace program, troops from 27 nations – in addition to NATO’s 19 – are involved in joint training, joint exercises and joint learning programs which are designed to produce interoperable forces.
While security is the protection of people and assets, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell explained what the fight against terrorism means: “Terrorism flourishes in areas of poverty, despair, hopelessness where people see no future. We have to make sure that as we fight terrorism – using military and legal means, and law enforcement and intelligence means, and going after the financial infrastructure of terrorist organizations – that we also put hope back in the hearts of people.”
Solutions for reducing poverty include good global economic governance and leadership, dropping agricultural barriers in developed countries to make it easier for lesser developed countries to sell their agriculture, debt forgiveness and for countries to honor a long-time commitment to give .07 percent of their countries’ Gross Domestic Product to official development assistance. For the United States, this would involve giving tens of millions of dollars so that the goals of the United Nations Millennium Document could be met. They include reducing the number of people who live on less than $1 per day – who suffer from hunger or who do not have access to safe drinking water – in half, providing primary education to all of the world’s children, halting or reducing the spread of AIDS and improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers. The cost to improve the lives of the slum dwellers alone is estimated to be $500 per person or $50 billion.
While Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil – who spent 25 years in the business world as CEO for two multinational corporations – testified as to the power of corporations to create jobs and lift people out of poverty, he would not commit to the United States giving .07 percent of our GDP. However, Internet billionaire Bill Gates who has set up a foundation to help the United Nations meet a number of its goals, said it was time for voters to vote for people who support solving global inequity. His colleague, Irish singer Bono, shared with participants about his ability to push the “right buttons” of the political right who come from the religious and faith-based community when he quoted Jesus who said, “As much as you feed the poor, you do my will.”
When I asked former Sen. Sam Nunn what kind of structure we would have after building the coalition, dropping legal and judicial barriers, and providing the United Nations with a global tax, he chose not to answer.
Words used to describe this new integrated world include: multilaterialism, convergence, integration, globalization and inclusion. Global governance is a term used to explain the actors now making key decisions – government, business and non-governmental organizations. Klaus Schwab is correct: The slate has been wiped clean, a vision for a shared future is in the making and it has absolutely nothing to do with our Constitution or representative government.
Joan Veon has done extensive research on the United Nations and their agenda and has attended dozens of U.N. conferences.