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United Nations



Our call for international accountability, justice, sustainable development and democracy

     Charter 99 was launched on United Nations Day, 24 October 1999, calling on world leaders to set in motion a rigorous process to hold all agencies of global governance to account. At the UN Millennium Summit, held in September 2000, world leaders made a solemn commitment to reduce poverty, strengthen international peace and disarmament, protect the environment and strengthen the UN.

     But without accountability, these commitments will not be met. Below is an open letter to the governments of the world calling on them to make international decision-making democratic and accountable. It is signed by individuals and organisations. Please join us.


Dear Representatives to the Millennium Assembly,

This Charter is addressed to you and all the governments and peoples of the world you represent. It is a demand for global democracy.

Throughout the century now coming to an end there have been well meaning and sometimes eloquent calls for world government; calls which pointed to the unfairness, inequality and injustice of the present distributions of wealth, power and policy making - which mean that today one in five of us lives in absolute poverty; calls which emphasised the dangers to peace and even to human survival. If only we could work as one world, then we could solve the world's problems together.

If only! Sometimes with a sigh, sometimes with contempt, these calls have been dismissed as impractical. But during the 1990s, demands for international government have taken on a new energy and precision. There is now a worldwide movement for a more equal and democratic framework for global governance, represented by organisations such as the Commission on Global Governance, Earth Summit in Rio, Agenda 21, Earth Charter, Real World Coalition, EarthAction's Call for a Safer World, One Planet Initiative, Citizens' Public Trust Treaty, Hague Agenda for Peace, Jubilee 2000, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and by the campaign against landmines and campaigns for an International Criminal Court, for codes of conduct for business and for ethical investment.

[The following * appeared in the letter before Millennium 2000 - is no longer included in the letter appearing on the Charter 99 official website]

* The Commission on Global Governance made an unprecedented international effort to draw up a framework for global politics.

* The Earth Summit in Rio, Agenda 21, The Earth Charter, The Real World Coalition, Earth Action's Call for a Safer World, The One Planet Initiative, Citizens' Public Trust Treaty, and many other declarations are uniting people's efforts for global democracy and sustainable development.
* The Hague Agenda for Peace represents a worldwide coalition committed to replace the causes of war with a culture of peace and non-violence.
* The campaign against landmines successfully changed international law, although much remains to be done.
* International conferences at New York, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing and Istanbul have put issues of gender equality, family, employment, social and all human rights on the international agenda.
* The Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted the Universal Declaration of Democracy, endorsed by most parliaments in the world.
* Jubilee 2000 has co-ordinated a worldwide campaign to cancel the unpayable debts of the world's poorest countries.
* The International Commission on Rights and Responsibilities made a distinguished and expert attempt to codify Human Duties and Responsibilities.
* After fifty years of campaigning, a statute to create an International Criminal Court was adopted at Rome in 1998 to reinforce international criminal law.
* The International Chamber of Commerce, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and others are promoting higher standards in international business.
* The Human Development Report 1999 recommended an agenda for action including a more coherent and more democratic architecture for global governance in the 21st century.

     In addition, a growing scholarly literature on all aspects of globalisation has begun to explore how governments can regulate and democratise international affairs. There are now detailed, practical measures which set out an ambitious agenda for democracy in international decision-making, now increasingly known as 'global governance'. We believe that there is a profound and important reason for this historic shift.

     It is that in many ways we now have world government.

     It is not to be found at the United Nations. Rather, the UN has been sidelined, while the real business of world government is done elsewhere. Global policies are discussed and decided behind closed doors by exclusive groups, such as the G8, OECD, the Bank of International Settlements, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and others. These agencies are reinforced by informal networks of high officials and powerful alliances. Together they have created what can be seen as dominant and exclusive institutions of world government. All too often they are influenced by transnational corporations which pursue their own world strategies.

These agencies of actual world government must be made accountable. If there are to be global policies, let them be answerable to the peoples of the world.

     We call on you, therefore, to start the new century by initiating the process of democratic global governance following fundamental principles:

       *   openness and accountability

       *   environmental sustainability

       *   security and peace

       *   equality and justice.

     The first aim is to make the already existing processes of world administration and governance accountable. We want to know what decisions are being taken and why. We want the decision takers to know they are answerable to the public in every country which feels the breath of international bodies.

     Then we want all decisions to be compatible with public criteria of environmental sustainability.

     We also want the UN to ensure that its core mandate, 'to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war', applies equally to all the peoples of the world.

     Finally, if most ambitiously, we want global governance to be compatible with the principles of equality, human rights and justice, including social and economic justice.

     What we want from the Millennium Assembly and Member States is decisive action to put these principles into practice.

     We therefore call on you to create effective mechanisms to hold every agency of actual world government to account. These include international economic alliances, military alliances, the central banking system and agencies for environmental, financial, social, sporting or other activity: All should have to answer regularly for what they have done and intend to do, for their impact on the world community and for their adherence to the UN Charter and international law. We want action to start the process now.

     We do not think these principles will be easy to achieve. We do not have all the answers. But we believe the difficulties can and must be overcome. In our era everyone is linked through our shared environment, trade and communications. We live together as neighbours, and as neighbours we must respect the rights of all persons to address common problems. A joint effort of learning and negotiation, of trial and error, will be needed.

    Many vital issues can best be tackled effectively at a global level, such as the environment, biodiversity and climate change; international security and disarmament; international trade, finance and labour rights; epidemics; communications; and international crime.

     The first question is where should we start? We believe that the answer has to be at the United Nations. The inadequacy of the UN is well known. All around we see the principles of the UN subverted, sidelined and suppressed. Since the UN Charter was signed, more than 30 million people have been killed in war, most of them unarmed civilians; millions more people have been slaughtered in genocide and ethnic conflict; over 100 million people have fled their homes due to conflict or persecution, with over 20 million remaining as refugees today; permanent members of the Security Council have armed belligerents and engaged in war; governments have invested more in preparing for war than in strengthening peace; human rights have been violated with little redress.

     Nevertheless the United Nations as an institution can hardly be blamed for the appalling behaviour of its member states. Without the UN, wars would have been even more frequent; they would have gone on longer; there would have been a greater number of victims, and many more refugees living without hope. The UN is the only arena in which all countries sit side by side. For all its weakness, it retains an unmatched legitimacy in world affairs.

     The UN's founding Charter mandates you to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations (Article 1).

     The creation of democratic global governance may be complicated. But the need for it is simple and urgent. Global problems will only get worse if international decision-making is left in the hands of the present undemocratic, exclusive institutions. Therefore we will continue to press for action and public support around the world.

     Worldwide campaigns have led to the end of apartheid in South Africa, to the Statute for an International Criminal Court, to the ban on landmines and some debt-reduction for the world's poorest countries. The time has come to make democratic reform of international affairs our priority, both as an end in itself and as a means of solving many serious social and economic problems.

     Many reforms are needed. The 12 points overleaf are a summary of the many demands and proposals being made across the world for better international governance.

12 Areas for Urgent Action

    Supporters of the Charter do not necessarily agree with every single proposal below, but we believe that active attention to these issues will lead to constructive solutions for humanity

     Strengthen democratic accountability and participation in international decision-making:

1. Give the UN General Assembly powers to scrutinise the work of UN agencies and other agencies of global governance; create a UN Parliamentary Assembly and an annual Forum of Civil Society; open international institutions to increased participation by civil society and elected representatives from member countries; bring the WTO into the UN system and strengthen co-operation between all international groupings under the UN system.

2. Create within the UN system an accountable, equitable and effective mechanism to monitor, supervise and regulate transnational corporations and financial institutions; and require transnational companies to adhere to an international code of conduct covering agreed principles concerning human rights, the environment and core labour standards.

3. Give UN institutions an additional and independent source of revenue such as taxation of foreign exchange transactions, aircraft and shipping fuels, arms sales and licensing use of the global commons.

Maintain international peace and security:

4. Reform the UN Security Council to open all decision-making to public scrutiny; phase out the single country veto and permanent membership; establish equitable representation from each region of the world; set up a high level early warning system; prioritise conflict prevention and provide effective authority to mediate and intervene in disputes at an early stage, within national boundaries where necessary.

5. Establish a permanent, directly recruited UN Rapid Reaction Force to hold the peace in a crisis, police gross violations of human rights and support multilateral defence against aggression and genocide;

6. Make the UN register of arms mandatory; ratify and implement the Landmine Ban Treaty; outlaw all weapons of mass destruction; initiate programmes to control the arms trade, convert the arms industry to peaceful production and cut military spending world wide; strengthen accountability to the UN of all international military action; and reduce the size of national armies as part of a multilateral global security system.

Uphold fundamental human rights:

7. Strengthen world citizenship based on compliance with and respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international instruments on Human Rights, including the six core treaties on economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights; racial discrimination; discrimination against women, children's rights, torture, and the conventions on genocide, refugees and labour standards.

Strengthen justice under international law:

8. Ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court; accept compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Committee; increase the Courts' powers of enforcement; open the ICJ to individual petition and protect the judicial independence of the ICC.

Promote social progress and better standards of life:

9. Establish a strong UN institution for Economic and Environmental security to promote international prosperity, protect the global commons and secure sustainable development.

10. Establish an International Environmental Court to enforce international treaties on the environment and protect the global commons.

11. Declare climate change to be an essential global security interest and establish a high-level international urgent action team to assist the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change to set a scientifically based global ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions, to allocate national shares of permissible emissions based on convergence to equal per capita rights, and to work with governments, companies, international agencies and NGOs to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to a sustainable level.

12. Make poverty reduction a global priority: secure universal access to safe drinking water, food security, health care, housing, education, family planning, gender equality, sustainable development and economic opportunities, and strengthen the capacity of development agencies to eliminate malnutrition, preventable diseases and absolute poverty through conservation and equitable sharing of global resources. Cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest nations and institute measures to prevent severe debt burdens from ever building up again.

      These are just some of the most important issues crying out for urgent action by the world community. To make them happen, we need a determined effort to hold all agencies of global governance to account and democratise international decision-making.


Major Non-Governmental Organizations supporting Charter 99 as of February 7, 2001:



Action on Disability and Development

Africa Projects and Evergreen Trust

Association of World Citizens

Association of World Federalists UK

Awami Committee for Development

Bangladesh Campaign to Ban Landmines


Capital City Woman's Platform

Charities Aid Foundation

Charter 88

Christian Aid


Conflict Resolution Network

Disability Awareness in Action

Earth Rights Institute


European Policy Forum

Forum For The Future

Friends of the Earth

Global Peoples Assembly, USA

Human Rights Internet


Inside Out Trust

Institute for Cooperation, Tolerance and Peace

Institute for Intercultural Understanding

International Association of Educators for World Peace

International Council for Self-Esteem

International Humanist and Ethical Union

International Progress Organisation

International Registry of World Citizens (UK)

Law Watch

Living Earth Foundation

London Disability Arts Forum


Observatoire de la Mondialisation

One World Action

One World Trust

Overseas Development Institute


Peace Forum

Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales, UK


The Refugee Council, UK


Rensselae Country Greens, USA

Save the Children

The People-Centered Development Forum


Umy Sok Say, Khomer Institute of Democracy, Cambodia

United Nations Association

Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO)

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

World Development Movement

World Esperanto Association

World Federalist Association

World Federalist Movement, USA

Youth Alliance for Development

Prominent Supporters

Mike Aaronson, Director General, Save the Children,

John Anderson, President, World Federalist Association,

Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Ex. Sec-Gen Commonwealth,

Lord Archer of Sandwell

Anthony Barnett, Founder, Charter 88

Prof. Beck

Rt. Hon. Alan Beith MP, Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats,

Geoffrey Bindman, Solicitor

Epheline Jane Bourne, Deputy President of Senate, St. Lucia Parliament,

Lord Bragg

Prof. George Brandt

Prof. Tim Brighouse

Malcolm Bruce MP

David Bryer, Director, Oxfam GB,

Rt. Hon. Menzies Campbell MP

Michael Cashman MEP

Habib Chirein, Director, Peace Forum,

Prof. Noam Chomsky, Linguist

Jonathan Clark, Vice President, Plaid Cymru Party,

Dr Kevin Clements, International Alert

Barry Coates, Director, World Development Movement,

Paul Coleman, Earth Walker

Renato Corsetti, Vice President, World Esperanto Association,

Rev. Pamela Cram, USA

Steve Crawshaw, Senior Writer, The Independent,

Lord Desai of St Clement Danes, LSE

Mr Jonathan Dimbleby, President, VSO,

Walter Dorn, Senior Research Fellow/ UN representative of Science for Peace

Richard Douthwaite, Author of 'The Growth Illusion'

Nicholas Dunlop, Director, Earthaction,

Gelpi Ettore, Life-long Education Specialist

Dr. Hon. Douglas Everingham, WHO Vice-President (W. Pacific nominee

M.W. Faruque, Chief Co-ordinator, Bangladesh Campaign to Ban Landmines,

Dr. Howard A. Fergus, Speaker of the Legislative Council, Montserrat

Julian Filochowski OBE, Director, CAFOD,

Tony Fleming, Director of Media Relations, World Federalist Association,

Mrs Anna Ford, BBC Journalist

Prof. Johan Galtung, Director, Transcend,

Susan George, President, Observatoire de la Mondialisation

Prof. Anthony Giddens, Director, LSE,

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, VSO,

Nadine Gordimer, Author/Nobel Laureate, Goodwill Ambassador UNDP

Prof. Fred Halliday, LSE

Prof. Hassan Hanafi, Philosophy Dept., Cairo University,

Nick Hardwick, Chief Executive, The Refugee Council, UK

Malcolm Harper, Director, United Nations Association,

The Right. Rev Harries Bishop of Oxford, Church of England

Lord Healey of Riddlesden, Former Foreign Secretary

David Held, Prof., Open University

Hazel Henderson, Author, Building a Win-Win World

The Rt. Revd. Herbert Bishop of St. Albans

Prof. John Hicks

Prof. Paul Hirst, Chair of Executive, Charter 88,

Prof. Richard Hoggart,

Polly James, Actress

Brian Jenkins, Organisor of 'Stop the MAI Coalition'

Lord Joffe, Chairman, Oxfam

Alexandra Jones, Ex-Chief Executive, Westminister Foundation For Democracy

Lord Frank Judd of Portsea

Mary Kaldor, Director, Global Civil Society Programme, LSE

Baroness Kennedy QC

Andrew Kingman, International Director, Charities Aid Foundation,

Glenys Kinnock MEP

David C Korten, President, The People-Centered Development Forum,

Sankaran Krishna, Associate Professor, University of Hawaii,

Chauyen Lai Shrestha, President, Youth Alliance for Development,

Mrs Jean Lambert MEP

Prof. Scott Lash, Goldsmith College,

Mr Martin Lidegaard, Director of Information, Danish Association for International Co-operation (MS)

Thomas Liggett, Editor, World Peace News, USA

Ian Linden, Director, CIIR, UK

Prof. Ruth Lister, Loughborough Univ.

Ken Livingstone MP, Mayor of London

Dr Caroline Lucas MEP

Baroness Ludford MEP

Peter Luff, Managing Director, Earth One Radio,

Prof. Amyan Macfadyen MA D SC

Lexson A Maku, Director, Sudan Evangelical Mission

Jean Marcben, Deputy Mayor of Calais, France

Mr David Martin MEP, Vice-President, European Parliament

Simon Maxwell, Director, Overseas Development Institute

Rt Revd. C.J Mayfield Bishop of Manchester, Church of England

Linda Melvern, Writer

George Monbiot, Journalist

Oliver Moreau, Secretary General, Esperanto-France Society

Bill Morris, General Secretary, T&G

Prof. Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate

Daleep Mukarji, Director, Christian Aid

Hon. Said Musa MHR, Prime Minister, Government of Belize

Rt. Rev Michael Nazir - Ali, UK

Rabbi Julian Neuberger, Chief Executive King`s Fund

Bruna Nota, International President, WILPF

Bossoondyal Nundkeslvarsine, General Secretary, UNA-Mauritius,

Dr Alec Oulton, Medical Faculty Olomouc

William Pace, Executive Director, World Federalist Movement, USA

Prime Minister Basdeo Panday PM, Trinidad & Tobago

Tassos Papadopoulos MP, Parliamentary Leader, Democratic Party Cyprus

Sen. The Hon. Millicent Percival, President of the Senate, Antigua and Barbados

Prof. Ben Pimlott

Le Tagaloa Pita, President, Samoa United Nations Association Inc.

Jonathan Porritt, Programme Director, Forum For The Future

Satish Prabasi, Director, PSBI

Lord Puttnam

Sir Shridath Ramphal, Commission for Global Governance

Anita Roddick, Founder, The Body Shop International PLC

Lord Rogers of Riverside RA RIBA

Prof. Steven Rose, Biology Dept.

Wolfgang Sachs, Director Wuppertal Institute

Charles Secrett, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth,

Salil Shetty, Chief Executive, Action Aid

Ian Shaw, Jazz player,

Andrew Simms, New Economics Foundation, New Economics Foundation

H. B Simon, Director, SACA,

C. Abel Slater, Director, Institute for Cooperation, Tolerance and Peace,

Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen, President, Connecticut UNA 046,

Irving Stolberg Juris Dr.Hon, Former President of the 'National Conference of State Legislatures'

Dr Gavin Strang MP

Marian Tanizaki, President, PPF- Japan/Philippines

Mr Mark Thomas, Comic

Ilja Ulrich, Secretary General, UNA - CL

Fatima Unsal, Vice President, Capital City Woman's Platform

Max van den Berg MEP

Gwen Vaughan, Chief Executive, Living Earth Foundation

Frank Vibert, Director, European Policy Forum

Mr David Waller, Director, Acord

Joan Walley MP

Sir John. A Watts KCMG, CBE, President of the Senate, Grenada

Bowen Wells MP, Chairman, International Development Select Committee

Rob Wheeler, Executive Committee Member, Millennium Forum

Baroness Whitaker

Tan Sri Mohamed Yaacob, President of Senate, Malaysia

Antoine Yavala, Secretary General, SO.APE

Jong-Sung You, Chariman of International Committee, Citizens Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ),

Mrs Marian Young, VP WEA

Susan Zipp, Co-Chair, Global Peoples Assembly, USA

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