WFM Co-President Fernando Iglesias gave the opening keynote address at WFM – Japan’s May 2019 National Congress. The following text is based on excerpts from his remarks in Tokyo.
It is a pleasure and an honor for me to join a congress of such importance for the future of world federalism and the activities of one of the oldest and most active organizations of our movement.
As a writer and journalist, I wrote my first books on the question of world federalism, even if I ignored the term. My first book was published 20 years ago, and the title was “Republic of Earth.” I also wrote other books about globalizing democracy, the case for a world parliament, global modernity and so on. But I’m also here with you as an activist, as one of the founding members of Democracia Global (Global Democracy) in Argentina.
Today, national populism is a growing global tragedy. As World Federalists, this is not a good time for the principles we defend.
After the great advances showed by the creation of the International Criminal Court and the strengthening of European integration, international cooperation and multilateralism are facing serious difficulties. The rise of nationalist and populist leaders in Europe and America, Brexit, the increase of trade frictions, abandoned agreements on arms control, and the consolidation of great powers whose political structures are not democratic at all, form a fragmented and conflictive global political scenario.
However, it is also true that the real alternatives are getting clearer every day.
Federalism or nationalism. Cooperation or conflict. Peace or war. In short, a future shared among all human beings or the resurgence of the worst nightmares from the past.
These days are hard, but let me remind you that in June 1941, in one of the darkest moment of human history, Altiero Spinelli, a federalist activist imprisoned by fascism on the island of Ventotene, wrote these wise words: “The dividing line between progressives and reactionaries no longer coincides with the formal lines of more or less democracy, or the pursuit of more or less socialism, inside each national state. It falls along a very new line that separates those who conceive the essential goal of politics as being the ancient one – the characteristics of national political power and its conquest – and those who see the main purpose as the creation of a solid international state, who will direct popular forces towards this goal, and who, even if they were to win national power, would use it first and foremost as an instrument for achieving international unity.”
This challenge, to overcome national divisions by developing new regional, international and global federal institutions, and democratizing and empowering the United Nations, is the main political task of the twenty-first century. This vision has also been the main contribution of world federalism to humanity and its survival. But these are not just words. We, the federalists, have been a decisive part of the campaigns, such as for the creation of the International Criminal Court, the seed of a truly universal justice, and the support of the European Union and its Parliament, a model of regional political integration whose principles constitute examples for the whole world.
Last year’s Hague Congress identified a number of campaigns as priorities for the World Federalist Movement, including the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and a regional Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Advocacy for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) has been pursued for over ten years by a growing group of NGOs led by Democracy Without Borders, and it’s leader Andreas Bummel. The international appeal for a UNPA has now obtained the support of 1,552 members of parliament from 122 different countries. It would be excellent if the WFM-Japan devoted its efforts to encourage the Japanese Diet to issue an official resolution of support for a UNPA through its federalist parliamentary group.
A UNPA should be the embryo of a World Parliament, the nucleus of a democratic and federal global governance, a Parliament to represent all humankind in order to cope with gobal issues and give the citizens of the world a voice and a vote.
In the Americas we have obtained the official support of four parliaments: the Argentine Senate in 2008 (the first national parliament in History to adhere to the UNPA campaign), the Latin American Parliament in 2008, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies in 2009, and the Mercosur Parliament in 2011.
I would also like to invite you to get to know the campaign for the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Nowadays, criminal organizations are transnational, regional and global, but justice is not. They are organized for trafficking drugs, people and weapons, for laundering money coming from the mafia and political corruption regardless of territorial borders.
Meanwhile, the forces of justice remain anchored at the national framework developed in the nineteenth century for a world that no longer exists.
The importance of this is paramount. Latin America is inhabited by only 9% of the world’s population but one third of world homicides are committed there.
Two decades ago the United Nations adopted the Palermo Convention, of which Japan is full member since its origin. Now we need to enforce the Palermo Convention at a concrete institutional level, creating a judicial body that promotes international cooperation and regional integration in the fight against transnational crime.
A successful Latin American Criminal Court could also become a precedent and stimulus for the creation of regional courts in other parts of the world, such as Asia.
At our Hague Congress last year the WFM decided to create five Transnational Working Groups devoted to dialogue and the formulation of federalist responses to global issues. The five groups are connected to ecology and climate change, nuclear proliferation, disruptive technologies, economic and financial instability, and criminal cells related to migration, transnational organized crime and international terrorism. The idea is to mobilize professionals working in different parts of the world. We are just beginning to develop and organize these groups. But that is precisely why we need some of you to get involved, participate in them and be part of the solution.
As I mentioned, the challenges we face are huge. Constantly growing technological and economic power require management and control. Digital revolution, artificial intelligence and globalization of social processes open the doors to paradise, but also those to the hell of climate change, depletion of resources, economic crisis, nuclear destruction and economic irrelevance for billions of human beings. A technology and an economy of the twenty-first century are not compatible with the institutional architecture of the nineteenth century. The global society of knowledge and information calls for a global political framework; representative and democratic at all levels, from the local to the global. That is our common goal. This brings us together regardless of our national origin, our language, our national political preferences or cultural habits.
World peace through world law. Let’s refresh our founding flag. Let’s update and expand the rule of law with a global democratic assembly representing the voices and the interests of all human beings at the United Nations. Let’s work together for regional integration, all over the world.
We need to avoid future disasters by completing the meaningful steps we achieved through the creation of the United Nations, the European Union and the International Criminal Court. The time has come. If we fail, if nationalists, sovereignists and tribalists win, there will only be destruction and barbarism. I hope we will all be up to the task and face these enormous challenges.
Thank you very much.