Civil society marches toward global governance

By Henry Lamb
web posted December 20, 1999

Who even knew that a World Civil Society Conference was underway in Montreal December 8-12? Who cares? The theme of the conference was "Building Global Governance Partnerships."

Who is "civil society," and what do they have to do with global governance?

Civil society is the group of NGOs (non-government organizations) that are accredited by the United Nations' Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). To be accredited by ECOSOC, NGOs must declare allegiance to the aims of the U.N. and have a two-year track record of activity that demonstrates support of U.N. objectives. Civil society is the instrumentality through which the U.N. is propagandizing the world into acceptance of world government, behind the euphemism of global governance.

Civil society consists of literally thousands of NGOs, whose work is carefully coordinated and largely funded by the U.N. and foundations sympathetic to the U.N. agenda. Some function primarily as policy developers. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) fall into this category. Others function primarily as agitators. Many of the rabble-rousers in Seattle fall into this group.

According to Ed Miller, a program director for the Charles S. Mott Foundation, as much as $5 million has been given to NGOs by big foundations expressly to focus public attention on the World Trade Organization. Environmental Media Services, a public relations firm, was paid $200,000 to get NGO spokesmen connected with journalists during the Seattle fracas.

The National Environmental Trust (NET) is spending $11 million on a propaganda campaign about global warming. Pew Charitable Trusts has announced it would make $20 million available to civil society NGOs for land use control programs. Three primary civil society NGOs, IUCN, NRI, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), were listed as "Executing Agency," or "Collaborating Organization," on 45 projects totaling $847 million in the U.N.'s Global Environment Facility report last June. There is no shortage of money for civil society.

Ironically, many of the same organizations whose members carried signs in Seattle, promoting national sovereignty as a defense against the WTO, are the same organizations that insist on U.N. enforcement of environmental regulations. The fact is that they are not at all concerned about national sovereignty; they are concerned about controlling the WTO as they control many of the other U.N. agencies and organizations.

That's what the World NGO Conference is all about: how to get a more influential role in the activities of the United Nations.

Global governance is still a work in progress. The United Nations, as well as civil society have long ago agreed that world government is the only way to assure sustainable development, the equitable distribution of the earth's resources, and global disarmament. The only questions that remain concern precisely how world government should be organized.

All of the various scenarios for world government have several points in common. One of these is the creation of a permanently constituted body of NGO representatives that serve as the voice of the people, providing advice to the U.N. General Assembly and to the various U.N. agencies.

Our Global Neighborhood, the report of the Commission on Global Governance, calls this group "The Peoples' Assembly." The U.N. has scheduled the first meeting of this body of NGO representatives for May, 2000, and refers to it as the "Millennium Forum." The U.N. selected a group of NGOs to begin organizing this body in 1996. They met initially at the U.N. headquarters in Tokyo. They have been devising the process by which individual representatives are chosen from accredited NGOs to participate in The Peoples' Assembly. The meeting in Montreal continues that process and puts the finishing touches on the recommendations the group will make to the U.N.'s Millennium Assembly in September.

This process is called the democratization of the United Nations. By giving civil society a role in the decision process, the United Nations considers itself to be a democratic institution.

Nothing could be further from the truth, at least, as democracy is understood in the United States.
American democracy requires the presentation of all points of view, especially those views that differ from the proposal under consideration. Through public debate, the differences are melded into a compromise acceptable by the majority in an open, recorded vote.

The U.N. brand of democracy begins by allowing only the views from people who have declared allegiance to the objectives of the U.N. Dissenting view are systematically, and vigorously prevented. The debate, then, is diminished into a closed-door discussion about how to achieve a particular objective, rather that about whether or not the objective should be achieved. Moreover, the final decision is not the result of an open, recorded vote, but a declaration of "consensus," when the presiding officers gets tired of listening to the discussion.

The decision to create a world government has already been made by the U.N. and its NGO civil society. The discussion that will animate a long series of by-invitation-only meetings between now and May, are about how to structure The Peoples' Assembly, and how to prioritize efforts to institute the various changes necessary to give the U.N. the power it needs to implement and enforce world government.

Consensus seems to have been reached on three key issues: (1) global taxing authority for the U.N.; (2) abolition of the veto and permanent member status in the U.N. Security Council; and (3) a standing U.N. army of some kind. How these three objectives are to be implemented is still subject to discussion, but there is no discussion about whether or not they should be achieved.

Other high-priority objectives include: bringing all U.N. agencies, especially the WTO, under the direct administrative rule of the U.N. Secretary-General; the creation of a special high-level agency for the enforcement of environmental laws; the integration of environmental, human rights, and labor standards into world trade; and the equalization of access to, and use of natural resources.

It is the role of civil society to demand that parliamentarians write these objectives into international law. It is also the role of civil society to agitate and propagandize in communities around the world until these objectives are accepted as social "norms."

It is interesting to note that the World NGO Conference also focused attention on "the areas of resistance and failure, and the reasons why dreams and visions were blocked or not accomplished..." Opposition from any quarter to the objectives of the U.N. and its civil society, are seen to be the work of profit-mongering, self-interest - or worse. NGOs that are not accredited by the U.N. are not considered to be a part of civil society, but are described as "populists" agitators. To civil society, capitalism is the culprit; profit equals greed; and the idea of national sovereignty is little more than an excuse for national governments to commit genocide.

From the U.N.'s point of view, opposition to world government must be quashed by any means necessary. For starters, no opposing views are allowed at the World NGO Conference, or into the inner-circle of U.N. participation. A cadre of NGOs are assigned specifically to discredit opposition wherever it may appear. The Tides Foundation, located in the same prestigious facility that houses Mikhail Gorbechev's foundation, the Presidio, finances the Environmental Working Group which operates a program that identifies and "exposes," often with inaccurate information, what they call "anti-environmental organizations" funded by nasty capitalistic corporations.

Civil society has, indeed, an important role to play in the achievement of world government. They are working diligently to bring about what they consider to be a better world. Regardless of how it is described, it will not be a democratic world. It will be a world controlled by a central United Nations authority, implemented through national, state, and even local governmental administrative units, and with strong "partnerships" with the army of NGOs, which constitute what is mislabeled as civil society.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.




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