What is World Federalism?
World Federalism means having democratically accountable political institutions to deal with issues at the most appropriate level, according to the principle of subsidiarity. Thus local decisions should be taken at local level, national decisions at national level, and global decisions at global level. Federalism itself is not a radically new idea – many countries are currently organized as federations, including America, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany and Switzerland. What is new and radical about world federalism is the idea to extend this same principle right up to the global level.
We believe that this global level of government, which is presently lacking, is the key to ensuring a peaceful and prosperous future for all of humanity. Over the past few decades, civilization has reached a point where our major problems are now global — including poverty, inequality, war, terrorism, famine, climate change, overpopulation, and pandemics. However, our institutions have not kept pace with these changes and remain rooted at the national level. Nations make treaties to handle international problems, but these treaties are often resisted, diluted during negotiations, and frequently broken, and when this happens there is little or no means of enforcement. A democratically elected World Federation would be a far more effective and fair way to address a wide range of global problems.
A World Federation would address global issues in much the same way as federal governments address problems within a nation, whether it is structured more like a parliamentary system (as in Germany and Switzerland) or a presidential system (as in the United States), or some new form. To institute world federalism an agreement is needed between different nations to create a system of government that regulates the international political and economic relationships, distributing powers between a central authority and member states.
Many activists agree that the most pressing issues of our time are inequality and economic justice, environment and climate change, war and violence, and the erosion of democracy in contemporary political decision-making. We believe that underlying all of these serious problems is the fundamental problem of the current anarchy at the global level. We believe that if a democratic global political system were established, then we would have the appropriate tools and powers to deal with all the other problems. And conversely, if we do not establish a global democratic system then we will either continue in the sad state that we are in today or we will end up in a non-democratic, oligarchic global system where the rich and powerful control all. Neither bodes well for the future of humanity.