World Federalism: What? Why? How?
An introduction to the World Federalists of Canada
When we think about the Earth, we are accustomed to thinking of a world divided: by religion, by nationalism, by war. But the world is changing. And our thinking is changing too. We are learning to look beyond a world of sovereign nation-states. We are entering a global age. This transformation, from a nation-state system to global community, is a gradual, ongoing process. It is accelerated by the growth of technology (especially information and communications technologies) which contribute to the globalization of economic life and reduce barriers of time and distance. At the same time, global cooperation is urgently needed to solve some of humanity's biggest problems. The spread of weapons of mass destruction and the trade in arms threaten interntional security. And a growing world population is stretching the Earth's natural capacity to sustain life. Many of the gravest threats to the Earth's life support systems have a global dimension, and call for political decision making and action on a global scale. The world is now our largest community. However, the world's legal and political institutions have not kept pace with the changes transforming international society. The present patchwork of United Nations agencies, regional organizations, ad hoc diplomacy and international treaties is not an adequate foundation for the governance of world affairs in the 21st century.
PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER
World federalists recognize that many of the most serious problems facing humanity are beyond the capacity of nations to resolve on their own. National governments are becoming too small for the big problems (and often too big for the small problems). In order to best serve the global common interest, humanity must develop more effective legal and political institutions at the global level. Federal political systems are those in which law-making responsibilities are divided between different levels of government. In Canada for example, some issues are within the legal and administrative responsibility of the national government, while others are handled by provincial or local governments. Jurisdiction is sometimes shared by the various levels of government. World federalists seek to apply the principles of federalism on a global basis. Our goal is to bring about democratic, federal government for our largest community, the world. World federation is a long-term goal, one that is coming about gradually, in stages. Important steps can be taken today which promote cooperation and strengthen the rule of law in international affairs. For example, there is much that can be achieved through progressive reform of the United Nations System. Global problems require global solutions. But as well as the practical political reasons, there is also a moral, ethical component which attracts people to the world federalist cause. Our personal sense of citizenship takes on an added, global dimension. As individuals, we all share a collective responsibility for preserving our common inheritance, the Earth, for future generations. And as global economic forces become a recognized fact of life, more and more people are questioning the present world order which segregates humanity into 185 competing sovereign states. Eventually, we must learn to make decisions and act as one world and one people. World federalism suggests a political order which better reflects our common humanity, one in which we all share rights and responsibilities as world citizens.
THE WORLD FEDERALISTS OF CANADA
The World Federalists of Canada (WFC) is a not-for-profit research, education and advocacy organization. WFC has over 1,000 supporters across Canada. Its officers are elected by the membership. The WFC president is the Hon. Flora MacDonald. The national office is located in Ottawa. The World Federalists of Canada provides a context where people committed to world community can meet, learn from each other, and support practical projects which take us closer to the larger goal. Every step is progress. Every step makes another step possible. WFC organizes:
The World Federalists of Canada is a member of the international World Federalist Movement (WFM), an association of 24 World Federalist organizations around the world. The WFM president is Sir Peter Ustinov. The international secretariat is located in New York, next to the United Nations.