Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Participation

pg. 24: There are two concrete steps that could be taken to lessen this distance in the state-based core of the international system: harnessing the potential of social media to expand consultations with and accountability to citizens; and establishing a UN consultative body for parliamentarians. These could significantly strengthen citizen participation and accountability within the system without diluting its essential governance characteristic as a framework in which decisions are made exclusively by sovereign states. . . . The UN system should regard the establishment of such a body, perhaps set up in cooperation with the Interparliamentary Union, not only as a necessary means for advancing democratic participation and accountability in a more bottom-up world but also as an opportunity for building stronger political constituencies around the world for the international cooperation and governance it seeks to deliver. 

Readers' Guide Comment on “harnessing the potential of social media to expand consultations with . . . citizens”

Social media can be used to expand consultation with a broader range of public organizations and concerned individuals. Two perquisites are necessary – a web-based arrangement to invite consultations on a proposal in a timely manner and an organization willing (or obligated) to take these comments into consideration. In the Global Redesign Initiative project, WEF did neither. No drafts of its proposals were posted for comments before their release; no voluntary commitment was made by WEF to incorporate public comments in any form.

This is in line with GRI’s governance proposal, called here opt-in-opt-outism, where the key participants decide who they want to be part of their multi-stakeholder governance process and who they do not.

Readers' Guide Comment on “UN consultative body for parliamentarians”

As the paper calls for ‘practical, results-oriented’ solutions, it is notable that there is no discussion of how parliaments would select their international representatives. This is problematic in parliamentary majority governments, coalition parliamentary governments, and checks-and-balances congresses. In parliamentary democracies, where the control of parliament translates into control of governmental and foreign affairs, a parliamentary UN body would only provide two votes for the prevailing domestic party in power – one cast on behalf of the minister of foreign affairs and the second cast on behalf of the prime minister as head of the dominant parliamentary party. In coalition governments and in congresses, a partisan selection process would probably send a proportional, balanced number of opposing voices, effectively cancelling out any possibility for meaningful decision-making. In all of these cases, it is unclear how these recommendations would result in a more practical or a more effective global governance system.

Related Ideas: Steps Three and Four; UN and private, non-state world; public-private UN; democracy; missing issue; crowdsourcing

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples, supplemental assessments of the extracted GRI text or commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.

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