Event in London debates global democracy

30. January 2009

A panel discussion held at the London School of Economics (LSE) in London on 28 January, chaired by Professor David Held, explored the question whether or not the concepts and practices of democracy can be extended beyond borders to embrace the global order. In his presentation Daniele Archibugi, professor of innovation, governance and public policy at Birkbeck College, pointed out that "democracy is universally accepted as political system". However, he questioned the logic that it is sufficient to spread democracy at the national level in order to achieve a stable and democratic international system. Archibugi argued that democracies do not necessarily pursue peaceful and considerate foreign policies. Thus there is also "need to create conditions for global democratization". The columnist for The Guardian newspaper and book author George Monbiot called for a "revitalization of democracy at all levels, nationally and globally", arguing that "power has fled from the solely national domain". Monbiot complained about a "complete disconnect between the people and the UN". Michael Cox, professor of international relations at LSE, voiced deep scepticism about whether the current situation of world affairs offers any suitable starting point for a global democracy project. "It now seems that there is no inevitability of globalization any more", Cox said under the impression of the global financial crisis and its repercussion on global economic growth.

The panelists agreed that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is a "ray of sunshine" and might lead to a more multilateralist approach in the US foreign policy. Archibugi and Monbiot stressed the importance of a world parliament to achieve global democracy. In his recently published book "The Global Commonwealth of Citizens" which was the occasion for the panel debate, Daniele Archibugi writes that "A world parliamentary assembly would solve the problems of representativeness and legitimacy encountered by any global democracy project, as it would again place decision-making power directly in the hands of a body representing all the inhabitants of Earth".

Three of the four panelists, David Held, Daniele Archibugi and George Monbiot, are listed among the supporters of the "Appeal for the Establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations" (UNPA) published by a global campaign in April 2007. The campaign regards a UNPA as a first practical step towards the creation of a world parliament.