On November 26, 2022, the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) sponsored a conference in New Delhi on India’s Role in Ending the UN Veto Power. In attendance were many prominent Indian thinkers, civic, and political leaders. The Conference was spearheaded by Col. T. P. Tyagi (Ret.), President of the India Chapter of WCPA.
As President of WCPA Global, I served as the Presiding Officer for the conference and gave the closing speech. With one voice, the speakers at this conference condemned the UN veto power of the five permanent members of the Security Council (USA, Russia, China, France, and the UK) as wreaking havoc in the world system since the founding of the UN in 1945.
Article 109 of the UN Charter allows for calling a Charter Review Conference to consider making changes to this document by which the UN operates. At the founding of the UN in 1945 in San Francisco, India already had a representative at that meeting, even though India did not become free from British rule until 1947. India’s representative was Arcot Ramaswamy Mudliar who insisted that the founding body of the UN include a promise to terminate the veto power within 10 years, by 1955.
The Democratic World Federalist organization (DWF) based in San Francisco and headed by the well-known personality of Earthstar Radio, Dr. Roger Kotila, calls this commitment of the UN at its founding “The San Francisco Promise.” It is a promise that has never been kept, for the obvious reason that the five big powers are also imperial powers who enjoy their immunity from having to obey international law or pay attention to the resolutions for peace, justice, or environmental protection regularly passed by the vast majority of nations in the UN General Assembly.
The world is faced with a dilemma and contradiction built right into the UN Charter (one of many contradictions in that document). Even if the vast majority of nations call for an Article 109 Review Conference to possibly modify the Charter, one or more of the five permanent members of the Security Council is sure to veto this. Therefore, the world badly needs to end the veto power and find a path to a decent global government.
One week ago, when we were in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I picked up a newspaper with the headline, “Are We Headed For Collective Suicide?” The headline was referring to the human condition as a whole. The possibility of a nuclear holocaust, which has threatened human existence since the 1950s, is now compounded by the collapsing planetary environment portending, according to many environmental experts, possible human extinction within the coming century. Our planet will be so hot, and its ecosystems so disrupted, that all higher forms of life will perish.
The government of India has been and needs to be, a leading voice in the ending of the veto power which enslaves the rest of the world to the geopolitical machinations of the five big imperial powers and binds us to a failed UN system. A Review Conference, called under Article 109 of the UN Charter, needs to recognize that the founding presuppositions of the UN system are leading the world toward collective suicide. The Non-aligned nations of the world, led by India, need to replace the UN Charter with the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
The Earth Constitution explicitly calls for including all viable UN agencies in its democratic world governing system. But it supersedes the assumptions behind the UN Charter that are driving humankind toward collective suicide. These assumptions are twofold. They are both failing the people of Earth and driving our planet toward ruination.
The first of these is the Bretton Woods planetary money system created in 1944 at the end of World War Two under the leadership of the United States in order to rebuild Europe and organize the postwar world economy. It set the rules for financial relations between countries and created the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. It established the so-called “free market” system predicated on money created as debt, globalized trade between nations, and the promotion of endless economic growth as the proper foundation for the economic health of nations worldwide.
This system may have made some sense in 1944 when the population of the Earth was little more than 2 billion people and scientists had very little understanding of the planetary ecosystem and its interdependence with human activities. However, since the 1960s when climate science emerged with its sophisticated understanding of the interdependence of human activity and planetary environmental conditions, it has become clear that the continuation Breton Woods system into the 21st century appears insane.
My 2021 book The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet reviewed the work of many top environmental scientists and ecological economists who declare with one voice that you cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. These economists have articulated the dynamics of a steady-state, non-growth economics for our planet that urgently needs to be implemented. However, the leading ideologue of endless “free market” growth, the United States, has a veto power at the UN and imperial power worldwide dedicated to blocking economic sanity in the name of wealth and power for US multinational corporations and endless war-making capacity for its military-industrial complex.
The second unquestioned assumption built into the UN Charter is the planetary system of militarized sovereign nation-states. Many scholars have pointed out that this system was first articulated at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Even then, in the 17th century, thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza understood that this was inherently a war system since nations are “free” to militarize themselves without end and, as “sovereign,” recognize no binding laws above themselves.
Since the founding of the UN in 1945, by many estimates, there have been more than 150 wars and some 11 million people slaughtered in those wars. This is inevitable under the UN world system that is predicated in national “sovereignty” and allows for no binding laws or governmental authorities beyond the nation-state level. This is why several of the speakers at the Conference on India’s role in removing UN veto power advocated replacing the UN Charter with the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
This call to a democratic world government is by no means new in India’s history. In 1942, Mahatma Gandhi introduced a resolution into the Indian National Congress that declared the need, once the world war was ended, for a world government of free nations in which the world’s resources were used for the welfare of all. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, declared that there would be no solution to the world’s problems without world government.
The great Indian spiritual teacher Sri Aurobindo declared that uniting the world was one of his most precious dreams and in 1958, not long after his death, the Sri Aurobindo organization launched “World Union,” an organization that worked for the next quarter century with the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) to write the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Under the newly formulated Earth Constitution collaborated on by WCPA and World Union, the second session of the Provisional World Parliament was opened at the Constitution Club in New Delhi in 1985. It was opened by then President of India Giani Zail Singh and presided over by Hon. Bal Ram Jakar, then Speaker of the Lok Saba, the lower house in India’s Parliament.
Under the Earth Constitution, sovereignty belongs to humankind. The democratic theory going back to the ancient Greeks always proclaimed that the authority of government arises from the sovereignty of the people. However, in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, this sovereignty has been fragmented into pieces, into militarized fragments that destroy both authentic democracy and the sovereign legitimacy of these fragments always at war with one another.
The democratic theory also developed the concept of universal human rights. A high point in this development was the passing of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. Yet few people noticed that the world system in 1948 (the UN system of unlimited economic growth coupled with a world fragmented into militarized, warring nation-states) inherently violates human rights from the very beginning. The Universal Declaration begins by affirming that recognition and respect for human rights and dignity is the foundation for freedom, justice, and peace in the world.
Both the UN Charter and the Breton Woods economic system ignore human rights. The Charter supersedes human rights with a system of militarized sovereign fragments in a war system recognizing no binding laws above themselves and the economic system creates hundreds of millions of starving, wretched people worldwide through its ideology that you cannot interfere with a “free market” and its impersonal workings. This is the reason why human rights continue to be trampled on worldwide today through wars and widespread poverty and misery. Neither of these aspects of the world system is premised on human rights and dignity.
There are many voices being raised across India today calling for an end to the veto power and a reexamination of our failed world system. India needs to rally the non-aligned nations to form a group of voices to proceed in three simple steps: (1) end the veto power, (2) reexamine the failed world system that is rapidly bringing us toward collective suicide, and (3) replace the economic and political fragmentation of the present world with the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
The Earth Constitution premises both economics and global democratic political organizations on human rights and dignity. As the UN Declaration says, this is the true basis of “freedom, justice, and peace” in the world. It creates a World Parliament of three houses, including a House of Peoples and a House of Nations, with the authority and responsibility to end war, protect universal human rights, and restore and protect the precious ecology of our planet. These three goals go together and require the synergy and unity of a united humanity under the Earth Constitution.
This changes the trajectory of history. We are now headed for collective suicide. Under global democracy and the Earth Constitution we can fulfill our higher human destiny to live in a world predicated on the dignity and welfare of all. This is indeed the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. India is leading the way toward a truly transformed future for humanity.