Joan Marc Simon talks about the first Global Week of Action for a World Parliament
Joan Marc Simon has spent the last ten years working at the international level, running campaigns in the fields of governance and the environment. He coordinates the Zero Waste Europe network, is the Spanish coordinator of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) as well as a Council member of the World Federalist Movement.
Joan Marc was strongly involved in the recent Global Week of Action for a Global Parliament and on the occassion of the action week he also published an opinion piece on why a world parliament is needed.
Audio transcript of the interview
Welcome to the UNPA Audio Blog Joan Marc.
So your activities were central, I guess, to the recent Global Week of Action for a Global Parliament. Can you tell us a bit about how that went?
I have to say that I was central in the beginning because the idea came from our group here in Barcelona, but very quickly I stopped being central. In a way, basically, lots of people spontaneously joined our organization, in particular the coordination committee of the action group has been working amazingly. That is a group of about ten or twelve people from around the world who have joined the committee, and have been helping to organize these actions. In the end, most of the credit should go to them.
I think the action went very well! When we first came came up with the idea I would measure success with having actions in four or five countries - if we cannot guarantee at least a minimum amount of cities it would look quite bad - but to my surprise, right at the beginning, we said "OK, let's have an aim of having ten events in different parts of the world," and we were thinking mainly in the countries were we have contacts, in Europe in the U.S., maybe in India, but it started growing and growing and basically it grew out of all the expectations that we had. We were very happy with the result, we had many events, it's difficult to say how many, but it's at least more than fifty and perhaps close to 100, happening in all the continent's of the world. So, not only in the West, but also in Africa, in Southeast Asia, in Latin America etc.
From your prospective, did you achieve the goals you expected?
It was the first time that something like this has ever been organized on a global scale, so our expectations where "Let's try to do something that looks more or less serious." I think that we have achieved this and it was a lot more spectacular than we would have predicted in the beginning.
You've talked about some of the activities in other parts of the world. Can you give us an example something happening in Africa something happening in Asia?
I think that one of the interesting ones was in in the Middle East, where we had Israeli and Palestinian activists going into the street to ask for a world parliament and clashing with the police who did not allow them to demonstrate. So this is actually something a world parliament could help with, for example, to address such a complicated issue as the Middle East. Then there were simulations of a world parliament in Australia, for example, and events in Africa, but I think that this one in the Middle East is quite symbolic because it shows one of the possible ways to address the issues of the Middle East would be to have a world parliament instead of having all of these bilateral negotiations that lead nowhere.
I'm Irish myself and one of the by products of the European Union has been to take a lot of the heat out of the situation in Northern Ireland. Of course the the Irish and British have done a lot themselves, but by putting both Britain and Ireland in a broader context - i.e. both democracies in a democratic European Union - it does, to some degree, make the conflict ridiculous and this maybe has the potential to do the same thing for many conflicts around the world.
Indeed, and also the fact that you can discuss things is already a start. It's a democratic process that is open, transparent and no one is above anyone else. The case of Northern Ireland is a very good example.
So the global week of action went well. It highlighted and increased the profile of this discussion, because of course, many people are just unaware of this idea: the concept of a global parliament.
So what's next do you think? We're should we go from here?
Now the organisational committee is evaluating what went right and what went wrong. It is clear that we are going to have another action next year, the question is how to capitalize on all of this; we have groups formed spontaneously, that got to know about the action from Facebook or from newsletters here and there and that spontaneously joined the action. So, the question is how do you link up all of these groups around the world who want to work on the construction of a world parliament; create even a better action for next year and also mobilize this support for the UNPA? The UNPA is right now the most advanced idea on how to produce an embryo of what would be a world parliament.
There are many people who have an interest in a global parliament but by far the most compelling undertaking I've seen to date is the UNPA. So apart from that - that it is the most compelling and most successful effort to date - what other reasons do you have for supporting the UNPA? What is the most compelling reason that humanity needs this kind of institution?
In a way it's nothing sophisticated it's just to have, at the world level, a tool that allows us to take democratic decisions in a transparent way. Right now, we're seeing chaos in any kind of international relations you can imagine: from solving conflicts to environmental problems. We are going to heat the world very soon unless we do something about this, and the question is, when we heat the world are we going to let some governments decide for us or will it be the citizens of the world deciding? For me this is the compelling argument in a nutshell. If we are to survive, we must work on this together. Together means everybody, together means people in government, people in opposition, even those minorities that never get represented in government. So a parliament is a tool and that's why I support the UNPA.
Was there anything else you wanted to say or address?
Not at the moment, let see what happens next year. If anybody wants to join forces and start organizing next year's campaign they should get in touch with us.
So that's the plan? To have on the same day, each year going forward, this Global Week of Action for a Global Parliament?
That's the idea. To scale up, certainly do more for sure not less. It's clear that this year we have managed to spontaneously create a kind of core group and that is one of the big successes. Perhaps not the most visible one, but for me it's one of the most important things, because it means you have a core group with which you can engage in planning for the next year and people are passionate about it. I've been in this a long time it's the first time we've had a multinational group, this kind of self-assembling group, which is working towards the same goal. Let's hope it keeps on growing and that we have a fantastic and even better action for next year.
And it seems like social media is just getting better and better to facilitate this kind of thing.
Exactly, the social media has been crucial with all of this! Otherwise communication and actions etc. would have been a lot more difficult.
Just like with Skype, we are basically chatting to each other for free!
That's the amazing thing! That we have organized all of these things with people we have never met and we don't even know what each other look like, most of us! With Skype, Facebook, Twitter and social media we have managed to organize something out of nothingness in the end, and basically without any budget. The budget of this whole action as you can imagine has been zero.
As it tends to be! Joan Marc, it was a real pleasure chatting to you, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to the UNPA audio blog.