Proposals have been made that the United Nations should adopt the same form of democratic system as used in most of its member states. While it must be conceded that the immediate prospect of this is rather unlikely, that does not mean that the idea should be dismissed out of hand.
After all, as in the European Union, and as in most democratic countries, democracy comes gradually, in a series of steps, and not as the result of an overnight transformation.
With that in mind, the basic idea of federalism – that democracy and the rule of law should apply just as much at international level as they do nationally – has great importance.
For example, global flows of money are now far beyond the power of any national authority to regulate or control, but the relevant global bodies, such as the World Trade Organisation and the IMF, lack legitimacy. Bringing democratic principles into global economic institutions will make possible a fairer and more prosperous global economy.
Similarly, we face environmental and humanitarian problems on an unprecedented scale, but the international institutions and agreements lack powers and they lack teeth. The biggest threats to our environment ought to get the most concerted response, but because they are international, they often get the least. We need to globalise our ways of dealing with threats to match the way in which those threats too have changed.
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