6.7.3 Modeling a Permanent Structure

 

There are many different kinds of decision-making structures.  Conferences gather people for discussion.  Summits gather leaders for discussion and decision-making.  Forums host dialogue and debate.  Parliaments are permanent, democratically composed bodies dedicated to deliberation and decision-making.

 

One task of the debate on youth participation in global decision-making will be to design a permanent structure and give it a name.  (In 1954, shortly before he passed away Einstein called for the creation of a “World Youth Parliament.”)  The structure will not have legitimacy until a global youth movement is adequately informed and networked to support it and make it feasible.   Therefore all attempts to create such an entity should focus first on building infrastructure. 

 

To influence global decision-making in a fair and democratic fashion the current landscape of global governance will need to change.  The most powerful global institutions, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, are not democratic and will need to change if they are to adequately enable democratic participation from youth or any social group.  For these reasons development of a permanent global decision-making structure of youth must focus in part on democratizing global governance and global decision-making institutions.

 

As demonstrated by low youth-voter-turn-out in many countries around the world, such as the USA, participatory democracy is an inadequate method of engaging young people politically.  For this reason the youth structures should strive for participatory democracy.  At the same time many young people are turned off by the partisan nature of politics.  For this reason youth decision-making structures should seek a new form of politics that employs new decision-making methodologies (such as Appreciative Inquiry) and invites participation in more diverse ways (such as art and ritual).

 

Building infrastructure for a global youth movement, democratizing international decision-making, and striving for global democracy will take many years of work that will unfold with three distinct strategies: 1) building infrastructure, 2) developing partnerships with existing global institutions, and 3) building new democratic global institutions.

 

6.7.3.1 Building infrastructure

 

We hope most of the infrastructure that will be essential for a permanent structure will be created by the Partnership Initiative with the exception of a website/web-application for decision-making.  Many new technologies are being developed to enable participatory democracy through the Internet.  A significant investment in developing a system for all global youth decision-making structures will be necessary in the future.

 

For more details on the infrastructure read the planning document of the Partnership Initiative:

http://www.youthmovement.org/pi/

 

6.7.3.2 Developing partnerships with existing global institutions

 

The United Nations has over 2000 member NGOs that participate in its world conferences and influence decision-making.  Other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the World Social Forum, and the International Labor Organization also permit NGO participation, though for most it is limited.  Global civil society is working to make all of these institutions more democratic and has had some success.  Little of this success, however, has opened doors to adequately involve youth. 

 

To build an effective permanent structure for global youth decision-making a carefully designed strategy must be developed to further democratize these institutions and facilitate youth participation.  The approach must be developed institution by institution and consider the following four factors: 1) the scope and structure of the organization, 2) the key points of decision-making within the institution (internal), 3) the key points of decision-making outside the institution that influence its mandate, scope, budget etc. (external), 4) and the channels of civil society participation in decision-making with the institution.  Inter-governmental organizations, international forums, and other global institutions will each have very different structures and require very different strategies.

 

Among global inter-governmental institutions the UN has involved youth most effectively, though still inadequately.  It has organized four global youth events and developed several plans for global action that were endorsed by UN member states.  The World Trade Organization permitted 200 NGOs to participate in its most recent global meeting though none of them were youth organizations.  With the exception of the World Social Forum almost every major global institution has a significant way to go before adequately involving young people.

 

There is much to learn from the UN’s experience.  Each of the global youth events and global youth declarations produced by the institution have failed to have meaningful impact.  Unfortunately, most young people were handpicked to participate in these global forums. In most cases they returned home with little or no capacity to communicate the conclusions of the conferences to other young people in their countries.  Much work needs to be done to improve communication between youth organizers working on local, national and global levels.

 

The UN’s experience makes it clear why new communication systems, new local youth networks, and other tasks of the Partnership Initiative are necessary precursors for a permanent structure.

 

6.7.3.3 Building new democratic global institutions

 

The United Nations is severely limited in its ability to enable world democracy.  As a result there is a growing movement among global civil society to create new global institutions that will represent all people of the world.  The concept is commonly referred to as a World Parliament.

 

This new World Parliament will inevitably use the Internet as a system to engage citizens and facilitate decision-making.  One initiative has been launched to link together all of the democratically elected members of national governments in the world into an E-Parliament.  http://www.e-parl.net 

 

Like the E-Parliament, many new projects have started up in the past few years that share the vision of world democracy and even a World Parliament.  The Alliance for a Responsible and United World, http://www.alliance21.org, hosts a global Internet discussion on the idea.  The World Social Forum, http://www.worldsocialforum.org, is attended by many organizations that organize workshops on world democracy.  The Global Coalition for World Democracy 2010 has gathered the signatures of many global leaders endorsing the concept of World Democracy, http://www.worldcitizen.org

 

In the middle of all this activity the Partnership Initiative will need to work to facilitate youth participation and encourage groups to consider the idea of youth participation.

 

6.7.3.4 In Parallel to a World Parliament

 

When exploring the concept of a permanent structure for youth participation in global decision-making it will be useful to consider the creation of a World Parliament in order to prepare for global changes to come and to understand the role of youth in democratizing the current system of global governance.

 

To this end the following concepts will be valuable in the development process.  They are adapted from an article called Towards a Conceptual Framework to Evaluate World Parliament Proposals, written by Troy Davis of the World Citizen Foundation, http://www.worldcitizen.org

 

6.7.3.4.1 Basic Principles

 

These principles should be kept in mind while designing global bodies representing the people:


1. Ultimate political sovereignty resides in individuals
2. Collective sovereignty of the people must be expressed through direct or representative democracy
3. Rule of law (to prevent arbitrariness and put rule of law above rule by humans)
4. Implementation of the Subsidiary Principle (A World Parliament will only deal only with global problems)
5. The transparency principle: complete institutional and procedural transparency
6. Use of peaceful means to build such institutions
7. Non-discrimination (according to article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
8. Being inclusive and creating a sense of ownership by the people

 

6.7.3.4.2 Sample Evaluation Indicators

How representative is it?
How accountable is it to the people of the world?
How well does it succeed in creating a general culture of accountability and in making global inter-governmental bodies accountable?
How does it maintain the trust of the people?
How transparent is it?
How close is it to the people?
How inclusive is it of the world's population?
What is the expected return on the investment/cost-versus benefit ratio?
How practical is it to establish?
How independent of existing institutions is it?
How can the very process of its creation not be tainted by the historical and psychological baggage of existing institutions?

6.7.3.4.3 Problems to Avoid

a. Problems which sometimes occur in national parliaments
 i. Top-down
 ii. Far away from citizens, no sense of ownership
 iii. Perceived as corrupt
 iv. Not independent: instruments of executive power

b. Problems inherent to the scale
 i. A worsening of the problems of national parliaments
 ii. Others

c. Problems inherent in the lack of precedent
 i. Psychological problem to accept the idea
 ii. How could it start (see below as well)?
 iii. Others

d. Learning from only other truly transnational example:  the European Parliament
 i. Citizens do not emotionally connected, do not have a sense of ownership
 ii. Created in top-down way by governments, not because of public opinion
 iii. Complicated messy birth in a succession of inter-governmental treaties instead of a "clean" constitutional birth like national parliaments.
 iv. Others

6.7.3.4.4 How to create a World Parliament?

a. What are all the possible ways that parliaments can be created?
b. Which among those ways are the ones that best suit the principles and conditions we have previously decided upon?
c. Do we need a World Constitution and if so how co we create it?
d. What are the scenarios and roadmaps that could lead to a WP?
e. What are the pros and cons of each scenario according to our evaluation scheme?
f. Is it necessary to obtain the "authorization" of nation-states or is the expressed wish of the people enough?

 

6.7.3.4.5 Potential Systems of Parliamentary Representation

 

A permanent global structure for youth participation may seek to replace representative democracy with participatory democracy however with consideration of a “representative” World Parliament a Youth structure would have the greatest significance in a Demographic system.

 

DEMOGRAPHIC: seats can be allocated on the basis of demographics, e.g. age, race, gender, sexual orientation etc. Some proportional representation systems come close to this, with different interest groups ensuring candidates of their general alignment get into parliament. However, this system is not guaranteed to get an exact mirror of the society.

 

STATES: existing political entities can be represented either by an equal number of delegates per state, as per the US Senate, or the UN itself – or by a number of representatives based on population, e.g. the US Congress.

 

REAL POLITIC: this reflects the actual power distribution. The UK House of Lords (upper chamber) is a good example of this, although it is outdated and no longer represents the actual power players. When it was originally established it allocated set numbers of seats to land-owners, nobility, the Church etc. The WEF and WSF are actually nascent forms of the same thing, one representing the business agenda and one representing a community agenda.

 

PHILOSOPHICAL: reflecting political agendas, e.g. liberal, conservative, green, communist, nationalist, libertarian, progressive, authoritarian, sectarian, etc.

 

6.7.3.4.6 Theoretical Steps Forward

 

Some steps to consider in creating a global youth structure in parallel to a World Parliament:

 

  1. Publicize precedents and examples of democratically organized global youth bodies such as AIESEC.
  2. Organize monthly world polls via Internet portals to create a snapshot of global youth needs and priorities.
  3. Organize groups of legal scholars to compile existing global youth declarations and plans of action (such as those created by the United Nations System).
  4. Launch local discussions among youth all around the world to consider local to global issues
  5. Create global dialogues via Internet, TV, radio etc. on how to strengthen youth participation in global decision-making
  6. Increase utility of and global participation in youth Internet portals dedicated to global ideas
  7. Organize the first Global Youth Constitutional Convention to explore feasibility, pros and cons, principles, scenarios and roadmaps for permanent structure
  8. Establish a council of eminent people and organizations representing all sectors and demographics in order to form a Decision-Making Commission and draft rules for future global decision-making processes
  9. Organize the second Global Youth Constitutional Convention in order to draft the first constitution
  10. Organize a global youth network and set the new structure in motion in order to discuss, amend and approve the constitution
  11. Create additional global institutions to enhance enforcement and judiciary