Global Parliament, The Movie

by Peter Spiro

The Widener Law Review has posted its symposium issue on global democracy, along with a narrated and nicely edited documentary version of the companion conference (perhaps this will be the next generation to archived webcasts – a highlights approach to facilitate later viewing. Sort of an academic version of those old NFL Films recaps of the early Super Bowls. Sort of.) The gathering was convened by Andy Strauss, whose name has become synonymous with the concept of a global parliament. Other speakers included David Kennedy, Richard Falk, Tom Franck, Leila Sadat, and Greg Fox. Although I’m pretty skeptical of a global parliament as a likely or desirable endpoint, as a thought experiment it supplies a useful hook for thinking about global democracy as a matter of both theory and practice. That’s a challenge in which all IL scholars should be engaged.

2 Responses

  1. Professor Spiro,

    You note that a global parliament is both unlikely and undesirable (an observation with which I strongly agree). I wrote a paper last semester for one of your colleagues, Professor Ku, in his Foreign Affairs &the Constitution class, in which I addressed this issue in the process of exploring how the evolution of the EU exemplifies the systematic dismantling of the traditional concept of sovereignty. Above you cited both theoretical and practical obstacles standing in the way of such a global democracy; concerning the ‘unlikely’ part of such a realization, do you feel this is perhaps because globalization has not yet contracted the world enough (ie the world is simply not technologically prime for such a monumental development yet), or due more so to individual nation-states’ reluctance to cede its sovereignty (thus giving up its inherent right to self-determination)?

    Taking a step back, do you feel at all that the EU, in its attempt to shed its ‘soft’ power reputation for a ‘harder’ one (ie, via its recent effort of constitutionalization), represents a trend toward this type of global democracy of which you speak? Or can it be viewed merely as an isolated incident of power consolidation toward which Europe has been progressing naturally since its inception?

  2. Frankie, I think it doesn’t work logistically, for starters – any manageably sized legislative institution would have “districts” numbering in the millions of individuals, attenuating any claim to genuine representation. I also don’t think the territorial bases for representation are that attractive any more. Better to use corporatist models of democracy, a sort of “estates” system. So I’m not against global governance, I’m just skeptical of translating state-based models to the global level.

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