Meeting for their Congress at the Taj Coromandel in Chennai all last week, members from world federalist chapters throughout the world* considered their policy for the next four years. President Sir Peter Ustinov, the world renowned actor, author, savant and raconteur, was present. At the conclusion the following declaration was made:
“Meeting in the most populous federal country in the world we recognise that the oneness of humanity, the dignity for all human beings both rich and poor but especially the dispossessed and the applicability of universal human rights can be realised only through internationally agreed constitutional safeguards for individuals and minorities. WFM convened the coalition for the International Criminal Court which was established in Rome earlier this year and which makes all individuals accountable for abuses of human rights: this is a major step forward the significance of which will not be recognised for some time. Moreover, it is only when there is the rule of law governing states and conflict resolution that the goal of universal and complete disarmament can be achieved (“world peace through world law”) and release resources to combat poverty and injustice. WFM calls for a total ban on the production, transfer, stockpiling and use of all weapons of mass destruction.
In examining the causes of poverty and the need for women empowerment due regard must be given to the cultural background and the right of the people themselves to determine how best to overcome the problems.
WFM recognises that there will be no global peace without peace among religions (a theme taken up by Bishop Dr Ezra Sargunam of Tamil Nadu who addressed the Congress).
WFM’s policy is to democratise the UN and global institutions by adding a Parliamentary Assembly where the peoples of the world, not just the states, can be represented (the development of the European Union provides a model which, also, might be applicable to regional Asian countries) and sees the Forum of Civil Society of NGOs proposed by the UN Secretary-General before the General Assembly as a step towards greater global democracy.
Federalism is minimal government not superstate, it is government at the lowest level with powers reserved upwards only when decisions have to be taken at a higher level: some of those decisions on protection of human rights and of the environment can only be taken at the global level ö hence the need for accountable global institutions. The UN must be made more effective with its own independent source of funding. The World Court’s jurisdiction should be mandatory and it should be able to give more advisory opinions on territorial disputes. Let this Declaration of Chennai be regarded in the future as a comprehensive strategy for ensuring the peace, harmony and survival of our planet.”
Spot to watch for the future: WFM is convening an international NGO meeting next year in the Netherlands in May entitled the “Hague Appeal for Peace” and has led the encouragement of states to convene at that time a Third Hague Peace Conference concentrating on the elimination of war as a means of resolving conflict.
For more information, contact the WFM secretariat in New York (below) or the Asian Youth Centre, Chennai, at tel: 4321165; fax: 4321245.
* Including Canada, Bangladesh, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy,India, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, United States.