The Urgent Need for a World Constitution
by Glen T. Martin
Connections we can no longer ignore
Over the past several decades, the interdependence of the world’s global problems has begun to dawn on many thoughtful people. There are clear connections between the world’s militarism that spends well over one trillion US dollars annually and the world’s serious economic problems in which austerity is being imposed on civilian economies worldwide in order to pay for this military madness. There are clear connections between the on-going destruction of our planetary environment and the rivalries of sovereign nations who have been unable to reach agreements on the coordinated, major changes necessary to prevent climate collapse. There are clear connections between global poverty in which 60 percent of humanity live on less than two US dollars per day and the system of giant, multi-national corporations, located within certain nations, funneling ever-more wealth to the two percent of human beings who own 48 percent of the global wealth.
National sovereignty vs. human rights
In addition, over the past several decades the contradiction between the system of sovereign nation-states and the idea of universal human rights has been emphasized by many thinkers and scholars. In her book, The Global Struggle for Human Rights, professor Debra L. DeLaet points out the contradiction between the fact that human rights are universal and apply to every person on Earth while “state sovereignty is a governing principle in world politics” that “makes interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states a violation of international law.” And yet “sovereign states typically are the actors most responsible for perpetrating human rights abuses.”
The rivalry of sovereign nations
If we put these several world problems together, we see that state sovereignty is a key to all of them. The rivalry of sovereign states makes them incapable of cooperating to save the global environment. Their runaway militarism is a result of the same rivalry. Their promotion of their own economic interests and their own multi-national corporations worldwide results in the concentration of wealth in very few hands and massive poverty for the majority. Indeed, the fact that the world is fragmented into some 193 “sovereign” nations, competing with each-other economically, militarily, and politically is the basic reason why the world cannot effectively solve its terrible global problems. It is also the reason why universal human rights are routinely violated nearly everywhere on Earth.
A world constitution may be our only answer
A world constitution would address all these problems at once. Clearly, that is the only practical way they could be addressed. A well-written and coherent constitution would not abolish nation-states. Such a constitution would unite the nations under the principle of unity in diversity. The diversity, uniqueness, and cultural differences of the world are precious and important, but even these cannot be protected as long as militarism, national economic competition, economic injustice, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses continue to ravage the Earth.