Figure 1: L´aszlo´ Szombatfalvy, a highly successful Swedish businessman born in Budapest in 1927. His concern regarding threats to human civilization and the biosphere led him to establish the Global Challenges Foundation and the 2017 New Shape Awards.

La´szl´o Szombatfalvy was born in Budapest in 1927. He came to Sweden as a refugee in 1956 because of the dangerous conditions in his home country following the Hungarian revolution. After working at a variety of jobs, that included performing as a a magician at refugee camps, he became interested in the stock market. Using his own risk-management system, and starting with an investment of only 6,000 Swedish kroner, he became “Sweden’s Warren Buffet”. La´szl´o Szombatfalvy then turned his attention to the risks that the world is facing today: the dangers of catastrophic climate change, thermonuclear war, environmental collapse due to exploding populations, as well as the consequences of extreme poverty.

In 2009 he published a very important book entitled “The Greatest Challenges of Our Time”. The book can be freely downloaded from the following link: https://api.globalchallenges.org/static/files/the-greatest-challenges-of-our-time.pdf In March, 2013, L´aszlo´ Szombatfalvy established the Global Challenges Foundation with a donation of 500 million Swedish kroner, roughly half his fortune. In 2017, the Foundation offered 5 million US dollars in prize money for the best essays on how to improve global cooperation. The prize money was divided between five authors, whose contributions are reproduced below. For more details, see the following link:



Figure 2: A photograph of the authors.

1 Global Governance and Global Institutions

Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century

by Augusto Lopez-Claros, Arthur Lyon Dahl, Maja P.C.E. Groff


This proposal builds upon structures for international cooperation existing at least since the creation of the UN. The proposed institutions and processes aim to strike a balance between overly ambitious proposals with little chance of acceptance, and more politically feasible ones that fail to solve the multiple problems of today’s world. We propose revisions to the UN Charter that provide the legal basis for a new system of global governance, supplemented by other reforms not requiring Charter amendment.

The powers, composition and voting method of the General Assembly (GA) are revised, giving it some powers to legislate with direct effect on member states, mainly in the areas of security, maintenance of peace and management of the global environment. These powers would be explicitly enumerated in the revised Charter, also specifying those which remain vested with member states.

The system of representation in the GA is revised to enhance its democratic legitimacy. A Second Chamber is proposed, deriving its authority directly from the global citizenry; its representatives would serve as advocates of particular issues of global concern, rather than representing the interests of their respective states. At the outset, the chamber would have advisory powers, but would be gradually integrated into the international constitutional order, attached to the GA, thus creating a bicameral world legislature.

An Executive Council, composed of 24 members, elected by the GA and operating under its jurisdiction, would replace the UN Security Council. Its focus would shift to implementation, management and effective operation of the UN. The veto power of the five permanent members of the current Security Council would be eliminated. An executive arm of the new UN, the Council would have broad authority to monitor, supervise and direct various aspects of its work in security, conflict prevention and management of the global environment, as well as other areas of priority identified by the GA.

The Executive Council would provide general oversight and ensure good governance, transparency, efficiency and coherence of an effective, new UN system. The Secretary General would chair the Executive Council, facilitating continuity within the UN system and linking to the UN Secretariat. A UN International Security Force would be created, deriving its ultimate authority from the GA via the Executive Council. This two-part Force would consist of a Standing Force and a Security Force Reserve, both composed of volunteers. The Standing Force would be a full-time body of professionals, numbering from 500,000 to 1,000,000 as determined by the GA. The Force would provide for security and promote peace around the world, firmly anchored in the notion that force may at times be necessary to deliver justice and the rule of law.

It would also address one of the main flaws of our current UN system: namely, the absence of a reliable, legitimate international mechanism to enforce decisions made by the Security Council. Subject to a number of safeguards, the International Security Force will be vital to enhancing the credibility of the UN, and to preventing conflicts and maintaining peace and security throughout the world. The peaceful settlement of international disputes and enforcement of international law will become mandatory, giving the International Court of Justice (ICJ) compulsory jurisdiction over all substantive matters pertaining to the interpretation and/or enforcement of international law for all UN members, overturning the current requirement for states’ agreement to adjudicate.

A revised Charter would also make acceptance of the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) mandatory. An International Human Rights Tribunal would be established for systematic, binding adjudication and review, significantly strengthening the existing weak and non-binding human rights oversight mechanisms. The substantive rights adjudicated by the international Tribunal will include key UN human rights treaties, many of which currently have non-binding individual complaint mechanisms.

To reassure the people of the world that basic individual rights will not be violated in the exercise of the UN’s strengthened mandate, a new Bill of Rights prescribing parameters for UN action would include fundamental human rights protections to be applied and interpreted by a new, specialized chamber of the ICJ. Recognizing that a strengthened UN system with a broader set of responsibilities and institutions would need reliable funding, we propose a mechanism linking national contributions to the UN budget to a fixed proportion of indirect tax collection, similar to mechanisms currently operating in the EU. Additional funding mechanisms will be explored balancing universal participation and the ability to pay. Implementation will require UN Charter reform, building on existing Charter amendment provisions, and mechanisms for built-in flexibility through future amendments. Most of the broader UN system of bodies, commissions, programmes and specialized agencies will be retained, evolving under the new system as necessary. A World Conference on Global Institutions in 2020 is proposed as a starting point for the reform process. Beyond the above structural components, we address specific challenges to the global order as examples of implementation. Effective security requires general disarmament, and we propose a binding, staged approach to reduce armaments to only those needed for internal security.

To address growing income inequality and begin global management of the world’s resources will require a new multilateral specialized agency. The corruption undermining effective governance requires a global response through new international implementation and enforcement tools for existing mechanisms. Education will be an important support to the reforms. The model corrects the failures in the present UN Charter that prevent its security function from operating effectively, enabling the UN to implement the decisions taken in the global interest.

It creates a legally-binding international legislative function, beginning with security, maintenance of peace, and management of the global environment, given significant current and emerging global challenges and risks, as climate change accelerates and population growth threatens planetary carrying capacity and boundaries. It places the core values necessary for a global community at the heart of international governance and action, builds on the existing positive accomplishments in global governance and international consensus, and opens the door to widespread civic participation and acceptance.


This proposal builds upon current international structures established in 1944-45 with the adoption of the United Nations (UN) Charter and the creation of various specialized UN agencies. It would be politically unrealistic not to focus on the reform and substantial strengthening of the UN system which, despite its flaws, involves remarkable participation by virtually all of the world’s nations and provides a range of significant consultation and cooperation mechanisms. Further, as certain basic Charter features still remain largely or wholly unimplemented – e.g., Chapter VI on peaceful dispute settlement and Art. 43 relevant to collective security-focusing on fully realizing such Charter attributes would consolidate existing points of universal agreement.

Fundamentally improving existing structures seems the sensible way to proceed. The UN itself was built upon earlier, progressive attempts to solve key issues of global governance, including core problems of international peace and security, viz. the 1899 and 1907 Hague Peace Conferences, the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The Charter’s Chapter XVIII contains formal provisions for reform, and informal reform mechanisms have also developed to enhance significantly UN operations-e.g., with respect to peace-keeping. A general Charter review conference was anticipated within ten years of its adoption (Art. 109(3)), but, as of today, comprehensive Charter review and reform remain unrealized. One challenge in proposals for addressing multiple current predicaments is striking a balance between those that are so ambitious that they have a negligible chance of being seriously considered and those that are seen as more “politically feasible”. The latter might involve tweaking at the edges of current UN-based systems of governance, without offering meaningful solutions to urgent contemporary problems.

Moreover, what may seem politically impracticable at one point may be viewed differently a few years later, for instance, after a severe crisis. The European Union (EU) and the current UN system that emerged in the aftermath of World War II are prime examples.[1] This proposal envisages a number of significant revisions to the UN Charter constituting the legal basis for enhanced mechanisms of international cooperation and global governance, supplemented by other reforms not requiring formal Charter amendment. Parts of this proposal build on the monumental work on Charter revision by Clark and Sohn in the 1950s-60s,[2] adapted to the needs of a drastically changed world, facing a much broader set of global challenges. Space limitations constrain us to focus here on the core reforms proposed. In the next stage further details of the proposal will be provided, including the specifics of Charter amendments.

The General Assembly.

We propose a substantial revision of the powers, composition and voting method of the General Assembly (GA) (Arts 9-22 of the Charter). The GA should be accorded certain powers to legislate in areas having a direct effect on member states, including international peace and security and global environmental management, while other issues, such as global financial surveillance, would remain under the purview of relevant specialized UN agencies. The GA could take on additional legislative powers in progressive steps, subject to review every five years. Powers delegated to the GA would be explicitly laid out and enumerated in the revised Charter.

A revised Article 2 on Purposes and Principles, would also provide clarity regarding which powers would remain with member states and not delegated to the Assembly, following the EU model of subsidiarity. The GA would retain its considerable power of nonbinding recommendation in areas affecting the welfare of the world’s peoples. As the current system of one-country-one-vote undermines the representativeness and legitimacy of the Assembly, we propose a new plan of representation for the 193 UN member states based on relative population size, but subject to a ceiling on the number of representatives for the most populous states, and a floor of at least one representative for the UN members with populations under 1 million.

The three largest countries would have 40 representatives each; the next 5 largest countries 20 representatives; the next 11 largest 10 representatives; the next 15 largest 5; the next 22 largest 4; the next 31 largest 3; the next 66 largest 2; and the smallest 40 countries 1 representative each. To avoid creating an unwieldy body, an overall ceiling on the number of representatives is set at 758. (See color map provided as an attachment). [3] To select the Assembly’s representatives, we propose the gradual introduction of full popular vote, in three separate stages: in the first, lasting eight years or two four-year terms of the GA, representatives would be chosen by their respective national legislatures or, in their absence, according to procedures within other duly constituted governance structures; in the second, also of eight years, half of the deputies would be chosen by popular vote within given countries; in the third stage, all deputies would be chosen by popular national vote.[4] Decisions on procedural matters would be made by a majority of representatives present and voting; particularly sensitive issues would require potentially larger majorities and include, in some cases, at least two-thirds of the representatives of the 19 most populous nations.

A Second Chamber.

We propose the creation of a Second Chamber deriving its authority directly from organized global citizenry.[5] The kernel for this proposal originates in the May 2000 UN Millennium NGO Forum, where 1,400 individuals representing a broad spectrum of civil society organizations came together to consult and present recommendations to the Millennium Summit of heads of state.

Rather than representing their respective states, the members of this Second Chamber would serve as advocates of particular issues of global concern-the environment, human rights, world peace and security, and corruption, to name a few. NGOs could be accredited for membership using an enhanced version of current UN accreditation procedures under ECOSOC or otherwise. Initially, this Chamber would be largely advisory, but because its members would not be constrained by national interests and priorities, diverse coalitions could emerge and the Chamber’s very existence could contribute to finding creative solutions to global problems. The power, ingenuity and efficacy of coordinated transnational civil society movements, including “smart coalitions” with like-minded states, have proven remarkably successful-e.g., in the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Land Mines Treaty. Following the model of the Land Mines Treaty, a “single negotiating text method” could be adopted to create the Chamber. Initial efforts to establish it would include consultations among like-minded, sympathetic stakeholders, assisted by a core group of supportive states.

Experience with the ICC has shown that, while desirable, it would not be essential to have the consent of the great powers to establish this institution. Any state could join this initiative and citizens would be likely to urge their governments to support this Second Chamber. As the Chamber gained democratic legitimacy, it could be integrated into the international constitutional order, attached to the GA to create a bicameral world legislature. In the first instance the UN Charter need not be revised to create this Chamber, but it could rather be constituted as an advisory body to the GA. If this Chamber and the GA are to exercise effectively their responsibilities in the global interest, they will need complementary advisory bodies with specialized scientific, technical, and other expertise. For example, a broad scientific advisory body would be needed to provide authoritative reports on the state of the planet, building on the existing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, but extending to chemicals and plastics, radioactive materials and wastes, land use, water, oceans, and energy.

An Office of Technology Assessment could prepare reports on emerging or problematic technologies that may require global legislative action, such as balancing freedom of communications and security, or geoengineering. An Office of Ethical Assessment could alert legislators to the ethical impact of issues under consideration, such as human rights or implications for future generations.

UN Executive Council. Charter reform would replace the Security Council with an Executive Council composed of 24 members elected by the GA and operating under the jurisdiction of the GA.[6] Its focus would be implementation, management and effective operation of the UN, providing general oversight and ensuring good governance, transparency, efficiency and coherence of an effective new UN system, including through administrative and other system reforms. The composition and organization of the Executive Council would reflect principles used in determining the national composition and representation of the GA. The three most populous states would be permanent members; eight of the 16 next largest nations would be represented in four-year rotations; the remaining 13 members would be chosen by the Assembly from the other member nations, also in four-year rotations.

Instead of the veto power held by current permanent Security Council members, decisions of the Executive Council on important substantive matters-as defined in an amended Article 27(3) of the UN Charter-would be by a vote of 16 of the 24 representatives, including a majority of the eight members of the Council with the highest populations, and a majority of the 16 other members of the Council. As the executive arm of the new UN, the Executive Council, responsible ultimately to the GA, would have broad authority to monitor, supervise and direct international work in security, conflict prevention and management of the global environment, in particular, and other priority areas identified by the GA. The Secretary General would chair the Executive Council, linking to the UN Secretariat and providing coherence and continuity within the UN system.

International Security Force.

This proposal envisages the creation of a UN International Security Force (ISF), deriving its ultimate authority from the GA via the Executive Council. A “Security Force” in a state of readiness and available to the UN Security Council for Chapter VII action was envisioned in the Charter through the conclusion of agreements “as soon as possible”, as stipulated in Article 43. These agreements were never concluded. Clear terms for the establishment of a new Standing Force, with parameters of readiness and operation, would at last implement a mechanism envisioned in the 1945 Charter.

The existence of such a force does not preclude national forces maintaining internal order, but it does make available to the UN “effective means for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace [including through modern peace-keeping activities], and for ensuring compliance with the revised Charter and the laws and regulations enacted thereunder.”[7] The ISF would consist of both Standing and Reserve Forces, both composed of volunteers, with the former a full-time force of 500,000 to 1,000,000 professionals, or as determined by the GA. Various provisions for the ISF would include: broad geographic representation in senior leadership; an eight-year limit on terms of service of enlisted personnel; no more than three percent of personnel belonging to a particular member state in all three branches of the ISF (land, air and sea) and the officer corps; units to be stationed on bases worldwide, to avoid over-concentration of personnel in particular locations and ensuring prompt action in the event of threats to peace and order; no base to be located within the eight most populous states with the highest representation in the GA; a ceiling of 10 percent (and a floor of 5 percent) on the number of personnel stationed on a particular base, except when the ISF is called to action.

The GA would vote annually for a budget ensuring pay and compensation and access to the latest weapons, equipment, and supplies to ensure effective action.[8] Without organized units, but composed of 1,200,000 to 2,400,000 personnel, and having the same geographical limitations as the Standing Force, the Reserve Force would consist of individuals partially trained and subject to call for service with the Standing Force. Except for periods of training, Reserve members would remain on stand-by in the member countries. The military direction of the ISF would be subject to civilian authority under control of the Executive Council and the GA.

Acknowledging that force may at times be necessary to deliver justice and the rule of law, the ISF, aside from providing for security and promoting peace in various parts of the world, would address one of the main flaws of the current UN system: namely, the absence of a truly international mechanism to enforce certain decisions made by the Security Council, as envisioned, inter alia, in Article 43 of the current Charter. An additional amendment would enshrine the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine for collective action to protect minorities and others threatened by mass atrocity or genocide. All actions of the ISF would be subject to objective criteria, careful procedural control and the oversight of independent international experts. An oversight body would set protocols, make recommendations (e.g., specialized training or operational improvements for the ISF), and generally monitor the implementation of actions of the ISF and review its collective security operations, including those related to R2P. By preventing conflicts and maintaining world peace and security, and subject to the above safeguards, the ISF could be vital in enhancing the credibility of the UN.

Equally important, such a mechanism of collective security would significantly reduce the pressure on countries to maintain expensive militaries, as experienced in the EU. Military expenditures are “unproductive” (according to the IMF) in relation to countries’ unmet needs and do not benefit productivity and economic efficiency. Reductions in military spending at the national level could be re-allocated to education, public health, infrastructure and other productive areas, resulting in a real “peace dividend.”[9] Total world military spending in 2016 was about US 1.7 trillion. A Standing Force of some 800,000 might cost some US70 billion on an annual basis.

According to the Institute for Economics and Peace the conservatively estimated total economic impact of violence to the world economy in 2015 was 13.6 trillion,equivalent to 13.3 percent of world GDP or 1,876 per person per year. Clearly, the establishment and implementation of an effective ISF could have vast security and economic ramifications, releasing substantial resources to promote economic and social development and shared prosperity. During the transition, particular attention would be paid to reallocating military human and economic resources to peaceful purposes. (Seealso, below, under Disarmament.)

Mandatory Settlement of International Disputes and Enforcement of International Law.

Another notably unrealized attribute of the Charter is Chapter VI on the Pacific Settlement of Disputes, which has not been implemented as anticipated in 1945. Along with Chapter XIV and the annexed Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Chapter VI should be transformed into obligatory and binding procedures for the peaceful settlement of international disputes, before collective security action or other coercive measures are contemplated. The GA or Executive Council could submit particular international disputes directly to the ICJ, if extrajudicial dispute resolution processes such as mediation or conciliation have been judged unsuccessful.

The jurisdiction of the ICJ over international legal disputes would be mandatory for all UN members, overturning the current arbitral approach of the ICJ which requires states’ agreement.[11] The ICJ would henceforth have compulsory jurisdiction over all substantive matters pertaining to the interpretation and/or enforcement of international law, thus covering the substantive matters outlined in Art. 36(1) and (2) of the Court’s statute, and other matters deemed appropriate within the revised Charter system, including the interpretation and application of a UN Bill of Rights (see below) and the revised Charter itself. Reforms are also needed to both the Statute and procedural rules of the ICJ, in order to make it more modern, fair, and effective.

To protect the Court’s independence and impartiality, the tenure of the 15 ICJ judges would be limited to one nine-year term and the practice of appointing ad hoc judges from the states party to litigation would be abolished. The judges of the reformed ICJ would be elected by the GA from candidate lists provided by the Executive Council, recommended by members of the highest courts of justice of member states, associations of international lawyers, and legal academics.

Other reforms would enhance the Court’s advisory functions, powers to collect evidence, compel testimony, set meaningful time-tables, oblige compliance with orders of the court,] grant access to interested parties (including civil society groups) to intervene, submit amicus briefs or even trigger proceedings in certain contexts, and capacity to employ additional, diversified court-management staff and clerks having expertise in specialized areas of international law. Enforcement of the judgements of the ICJ would also be supported by the GA through sanctions or other measures, and failing these and as a last resort, action by the ISF to guarantee compliance. A revised Charter Chapter on the peaceful settlement of disputes would include clear procedures in relation to the sequencing and timing of the range of dispute-resolution mechanisms currently listed in Art. 33(1)-“negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice”-striking a balance between some flexible choice as to method and an obligation to engage in peaceful solutions in a timely manner. To facilitate the efficacy of such mechanisms, an additional standing body, a global Mediation and Conciliation Commission would be created, whose decisions would not be binding, except with the consent of the parties. A revised Charter would also make acceptance of the jurisdiction of the ICC mandatory for all member states of the UN, with the Executive Council (with GA authorization) also referring situations to the ICC, if necessary. The revised Charter should universally oblige member states to fully cooperate with ICC investigations, assist in the execution of its arrest warrants and comply with its decisions.

With strengthened international judicial bodies and mechanisms, there will be a heightened need for a skilled and well-trained international judiciary, to lend legitimacy to and confidence in its genuine impartiality and detachment from national political concerns. A modern and well-resourced International Judicial Training Institute is proposed, possibly under the Hague Academy of International Law. The Institute will undertake important, intensive international, national and regional capacity-building and training activities with respect to international law-e.g., regarding the responsibility of national courts to conduct effective and genuine national proceedings under the ICC Rome Statute, and concerning international human rights norms, now subject to binding review (see below). Appointed by the Executive Council and confirmed by the GA, a new office of AttorneyGeneral of the UN system would perform functions similar to those provided nationally, e.g., to be guardian of the rule of law, to serve as independent legal advisor to Executive and legislative bodies on the constitutionality and legality of proposed action or legislation, to advise regarding types of international litigation pursued before various international courts in the global public interest, and to ensure proper administration of justice-including independence of the judiciary-across the international system.

International Human Rights Tribunal.

We argue that, since the adoption of the current UN Charter, global acceptance of international human rights norms has reached a stage of maturity such that they should now be susceptible to systematic, binding adjudication and review by regional and international authorities, significantly strengthening the currently weak and non-binding human rights oversight mechanisms. Although human rights are presently conceived as one of three main “pillars” of the UN system, they receive only three percent of the UN budgetary allocation. The international human rights system must be a priority within the new global governance model, as must a well-designed International Human Rights Tribunal, modelled on the European Court of Human Rights, with a “margin of appreciation” doctrine appropriate to existing international cultural and social diversity. The substantive rights adjudicated by the International Tribunal will include key UN human rights treaties, many of which currently have non-binding individual complaint mechanisms; when national appeals have been exhausted, individual plaintiffs may seek recourse at either regional human rights courts or the international Tribunal, to ensure regional complementarity and respect for diversity.

UN Bill of Rights.

The world’s people will desire reassurance that individual rights will not be violated in the exercise of the UN’s strengthened mandate. A new Bill of Rights (annexed to the Charter) prescribing limits to UN action would protect fundamental human rights, including: the right of fair trial for persons accused of violating provisions in the revised Charter or regulations and laws emanating therefrom, protection from excessive bail, cruel or unusual punishment and unreasonable search and seizure, prohibition of the death penalty, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of speech, the press and expression, and freedom of association and assembly. Application and interpretation of the Bill of Rights could be the responsibility of a new, specialized chamber of the ICJ.

A New Funding Mechanism.

A strengthened UN system, with a broader set of responsibilities and strengthened institutions, would need a reliable source of funding entirely free of domestic political developments. A funding mechanism is proposed similar to that currently operating in the EU, where member states collect and allocate automatically to the EU budget a share of all VAT collections. Total world GDP at market prices in 2016 was US$75.5 trillion. Every 0.1 percent of GDP contribution to the UN budget would generate US$75.5 billion, a sizable sum. A possible tax base could be generated from a share of VAT or indirect taxes on goods and services collected in each member country. Another possibility is the equitably designed tax proposed by James Tobin on spot currency transactions, with the greatest burden falling on high-income countries. A hybrid system involving contributions from all member states (encouraging universal participation), but with due consideration for variations in income per capita across UN members should be explored. The business community could be a strong advocate for the creation of a dependable system of UN revenue generation, given the large economic costs of instability in many parts of the world. To achieve a properly resourced and enhanced UN system, a high level panel of experts should be convened to explore additional international revenue-generation mechanisms, including a tax on cross-border financial transactions, a global progressive wealth tax on individuals, a global tax on mineral/resource extraction or other workable ideas, based on existing effective international schemes (e.g., that of the International Maritime Organisation).

Mechanisms of Charter Reform.

UN Charter reform could be attempted via the existing Charter amendment provisions (Chapter XVIII). A civil society coalition, joined by “like-minded states,” could propose an urgent General Conference for Charter review under Article 109(3). If the General Conference or its proposed Charter reforms are blocked by members of the Security Council (especially permanent members), the GA, with the support of an international civil society coalition, could first urge passage of rapid amendments to Chapter XVIII to remove the requirement that Charter amendments need the agreement of all permanent members of the Security Council, or seek informal amendment to these provisions through practice-that is, through the will of a significant majority of governments of the world, as represented in the GA. If these efforts are not effective, the majority of the GA’s states can form a new, enhanced body (e.g., via a new Charter) amongst themselves, outside of the current UN structure, using the mechanism followed to establish the ICC, without the support of certain permanent members of the Security Council.

Further Amendments to the Charter.

In a rapidly changing world with evolving needs, the formula for subsequent Charter amendment should be updated. Future revisions would be adopted by a vote of two-thirds of all representatives in the GA (whether or not present or voting) or by two-thirds of the members attending a General Conference held for this purpose, with obligatory General Conferences of UN Members to review and amend the Charter at least every 10 years. For the amendment to come into effect, ratification by two-thirds of the member nations, and two-thirds of the 19 most populous member nations would be required.

Other UN Agencies.

While the Security Council would be replaced with an Executive Council, nothing in this proposal envisages the elimination of the array of UN bodies, commissions, programmes, and specialized agencies which have served well in promoting human welfare and prosperity. Indeed, in an increasingly interdependent community of nations, facing a broad range of unresolved global problems, the need for effective clusters of specialized agencies is more urgent than ever and likely to intensify. A strengthened UN with a revised Charter, greater responsibilities in the area of security, peace and management of the global commons, and a larger, steadier source of funding, will create new opportunities for international cooperation in many areas, including climate change and the environment, global finance, human rights, poverty alleviation, income inequality, job creation, nuclear proliferation, corruption, terrorism, and drug trafficking, among others. Enhancing the effectiveness of specialized UN agencies-including the possible amendment of their charters-can be addressed, inter alia, by the Executive Council with its management/system coherence mandate, in connection with the General Conferences to review the UN Charter, and/or a possible new Bretton Woods conference.

For example, inadequacies in our global financial architecture-including, for instance, poorly regulated financial markets-were central to the 2008-09 world financial crisis and costly associated disruptions. Few are confident that the vulnerabilities exposed by that crisis have been adequately addressed and that the global economy is thus protected from even greater financial shocks. A World Conference on Global Institutions. We support proposals to convene a conference in 2020, to mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the UN, aimed at raising the issue of the reforms needed to adapt our system of global governance to current needs and challenges, which, if unaddressed, could well plunge the world into unprecedented crises at huge economic and human costs. The 1944 Bretton Woods conference which led to the creation of a new international financial system was a highly successful example of effective international cooperation. The World Conference we have in mind would be even more ambitious, reflecting the global nature of the challenges we face. Unlike Bretton Woods, the World Conference would bring together not only representatives from government, but also civil society and the business community. It would be a rallying point, but also the start of a gradual process intended to build momentum and consensus around the reforms identified in this proposal. Building the institutions to underpin a functional system of global governance in coming decades could well be the most important project of this century, requiring the imagination, persistence and confidence that, sooner rather than later, we will need to make the transition to vastly enhanced mechanisms of binding international cooperation to avoid untold human suffering and catastrophe. Disarmament.

Integral to the fundamental transition to the peaceful settlement of international disputes, a full collective security model for the global use of force and an international order based on the genuine rule of law, is a clear and ambitious process of disarmament. We recommend a binding, staged approach to the disarmament of all states for a reduction of armaments to those that are strictly necessary for a narrow conception of self-defense, an obligation which can be deduced from language and intent of the current UN Charter (under which the international use of force is limited to self-defense or duly authorized collective security action). A revised Charter would make this norm clearer and binding on all states, with the corollary duty for states to disarm to appropriate levels within a certain time frame. A special, independent Standing Committee on Disarmament would implement and monitor this obligation.

Its first task would be a scientific analysis, without political interference, of the self-defense needs of each country, taking into account the existence of the new International Security Force. After the determination of appropriate limits, a staged approach of disarmament to required levels would then proceed, monitored by a thorough inspection system by independent experts empowered by the Standing Committee, with a two-year preparatory period and then a 10-year phase of disarmament proper for most countries, depending on the weapons and equipment in need of decommissioning. All disarmament, particularly of the “great powers,” would follow a path of simultaneous execution by all nations, disarming proportionately. The work of the Standing Committee would include a review and re-tooling of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the Conference on Disarmament and other UN bodies or treaties linked to disarmament issues (e.g., the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Arms Trade Treaty, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and other multilateral treaties outlawing or regulating specific weaponry), to build on the acquired expertise and agreed norms, and to implement the binding obligations of states under the revised Charter and existing instruments. It is anticipated that nuclear weapons would be universally banned as immoral weapons of mass destruction (see the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, recently adopted by 122 states),[13] just as biological and chemical weapons have already been, in effect, universally outlawed. Inequality and Management of the World’s Resources. Growing income inequality be tween and within countries is a significant global challenge, as exemplified by UN Sustainable Development Goal 10. Income gaps are widening in many countries, while aspirations are growing and climate change disproportionately threatens the poor.

Sixty states with a total population of over one billion are falling behind, if not actually failing, driving economic migration. Climate-induced migration will accelerate. Recipient countries are already experiencing a political backlash from this unmanaged international crisis. Filling this gap requires a new multilateral organization with the primary mandate to help redress global income inequalities, in a way that existing international economic institutions for poverty alleviation, financial system surveillance and trade regulation have not been able to do. This will require novel approaches for funding, beyond those already used by institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank with mixed impact at best. Countries often sit on vast untapped natural resources which cannot be monetized because of mismanagement, lack of trust, institutional weaknesses, or corruption. Vast privatesector resources might potentially be available through public-private partnerships under the aegis of a new, credible organization with a GA mandate. This organization could also be given authority for management of some resources beyond national jurisdictions, such as high seas fisheries and those found on the international seabed, presently a source of growing insecurity.

Once confidence is built in the global capacity to manage natural resources and ensure their equitable distribution, states may be ready to widen the scope of global management of the planet’s resources where required to maintain and possibly improve planetary carrying capacity, and to remain within planetary boundaries. Tackling Corruption. To reduce a major impediment to effective governance, transparency, economic development, and the proper allocation of public funds, corruption in governments and the private sector must be effectively addressed globally. New international implementation and enforcement tools are needed to give effect to existing international Conventions in this field, as well as the drafting of new instruments, as necessary.[14] A special Chamber at the ICC, the ICJ and/or the International Human Rights Tribunal could provide binding juridical oversight on international laws addressing corruption, prosecuting individuals and bodies violating certain norms, when nations are unwilling or unable to carry out such prosecutions. A companion technical training/implementation body would offer training and monitor national implementation, also providing innovative and unprecedented internationalized or “hybrid” ad hoc technical bodies for review and enforcement audits/prosecutions at the national level. Education.

To progress to an international system based on universal suffrage, peace and human rights, the highest priority must be allotted to the provision of adequate universal education, including international civics formation, worldwide for all, in line with the Quality Education Goal 4 of the 2030 SDGs. If national governments cannot provide universal access to quality basic education, the international community should provide it. The current UN News Service should be significantly expanded to furnish impartial and quality information on UN programmes and processes to populations worldwide, ensuring that this knowledge is commonplace and enhanced UN powers are understood.


Core Values.

The amended UN Charter will give central place to the fundamental human rights of all persons, the principle of binding international rule of law, the peaceful settlement of disputes, collective disarmament and security, certain core principles of environmental stewardship and sustainability, and other values deemed fundamental to the new international order. One of the first tasks of the reformed GA will be to compile and enumerate the core values enshrining the good of all humankind and the equal value of all human beings, drawn from the significant current acquis of international law, both “soft” and “hard.” These will be made explicit in legally-binding texts to serve as the basis for legislation, judicial review and enforcement, with the frame of the revised UN Charter serving as a global constitution. (The 2030 Agenda and its SDGs provide a globally-accepted example of the application of core values and their implementation, exemplifying a framework for adapting and focusing international governance structures, mechanisms and programmes).

This consolidated document will represent the coherent declaration of core values, rights and responsibilities for international governance and sustainability, complemented by a clear definition of the remaining scope for national autonomy, and an individual Bill of Rights. Core values will be implemented dynamically by legislative and judicial interpretation, through legally binding acts of the GA in its areas of responsibility, and the international judicial mechanisms emerging from this proposal. Norms of equality before the law, protection by law from arbitrary abuse of power and other fundamental values inherent in established rule-of-law structures will be implemented throughout the system. An Office of Ethical Assessment advisory to the GA would ensure that it is apprised of the relevant core values underlying proposed legislation. The envisioned bicameral, reformed legislative dimension of the UN will manifest values of democracy and consultation, proportionally representing the world’s populations in the reformed GA, and engaging recognized advocates of the global public interest in the Second Chamber. Strong provisions against international criminality and corruption, beyond national responsibilities or enforcement capacities, will give the international community for the first time the necessary tools to fight criminal disregard for core values, and to prosecute individuals and groups responsible.

With such mechanisms and core values in place, the new international system will necessarily drive the creation of a new generation of uncompromised leadership, subject to the highest standards, whose efforts are devoted to good governance and the public good. The core values of the common identity and interdependence of humankind, as well as those enshrined in the revised Charter, should also be incorporated in all international educational tools, and reflected, as much as possible, in national constitutions and education. They should be essential components in the training of heads of state and their cabinets, international civil servants, contributors to global institutions, and the personnel responsible for enforcement mechanisms, so that much implementation of values is internalized in individual ethics and a responsible conscience. Relevant resource materials should be made available to all educational systems, and modern media used for their global distribution; an enhanced UN News Service can assist in this process, as it functions to build appropriate levels of popular understanding of international governance institutions. The focus on wealth inequality within the frame of the larger proposal, for the first time seeking to address systematically national and international extremes of wealth and poverty, would further change the current, inefficient international order based on spending for a militarized notion of security, to focus on the well-being and practical needs of all individuals and populations of the world. The new rationalized and effective international order would be oriented toward individual well-being and values of “human security,” with a corollary international “right to peace,” secured, inter alia, through greatly strengthened Charter provisions for collective security and disarmament.

Decision-Making Capacity.

The proposed Security Council reform will significantly enhance decision-making capacity in international governance, as the use or threat of the use of the veto power has regularly caused crippling delays. Abolition of the veto has been proposed multiple times in Charter history to enhance UN decision-making on crucial issues, most recently and prominently in humanitarian crises, where permanent members possessing the veto have been requested to abstain from its use.

With reform of the GA, there will now be a duly-constituted, legitimate and representative body to take decisions on crucial issues of peace, security and environment in particular (and on other matters in the future). As with other legislative bodies at the national level, the GA will convene a suite of specialized committees on issues of core concern, such as collective security action, enforcement of international judgments, climate change, etc., with the assistance of specialized, technical experts, as proposed. The Second Chamber, composed of members of global civil society, will be a strong catalytic force driving UN decision-making, exerting active and vigorous pressure for ongoing change, innovation and reform. The Second Chamber will act as a watchdog on UN governmental decision-making and operations, applying scrutiny to hold governments and the international institution to account and to force it to take decisions on pressing issues. The new Executive Council role, with its management function, will be preoccupied with taking regular and wide-ranging operational decisions in its oversight and coordination mandate for the entire UN system. A key task of the Executive Council will indeed be to enhance decision-making effectiveness throughout the system, including through internal management, leadership and administrative reforms.

The professionalization, systematization and clear lines of control and accountability of the International Security Force, subject to protocols and objective criteria for its deployment and use, will likewise remedy the inefficient, under-resourced, ad hoc system currently used to conduct peace-keeping and collective security operations. The strengthened role of international judicial authorities will significantly enhance decision-making processes in the international system, as courts will be tasked with deciding upon issues of core concern to states, individuals, and the international community, which too often now represent festering conflicts with no hope of decisive resolution. Likewise, binding protocols on the peaceful settlement of disputes will allow staged and clear decisions on issues related to international peace and security. We see addressing systemic corruption issues as necessary to ensure the requisite capacities for high quality and responsible decision-making in the public interest at national and international levels-which are, of course, interdependent.


With the foundations for this step already established in the existing system, the proposal suggests a substantial advance in establishing genuine, comprehensive rule-of-law at the international level. The international community would be equipped with the supplementary architecture and tools required to ensure that international decisions and policies are implemented and observed. Binding adjudication, compulsory, universal jurisdiction of the key international courts, and an effective range of enforcement mechanisms, including the use of the International Security Force as a last resort, will ensure that there is no ambiguity in the enforceability of international law, decisions of international tribunals, and implementation of the terms of the UN Charter itself-including its prohibitions on the use of force, save under narrow exceptions.

Ensuring adequate financing for international institutions will be a highly significant reform toward substantial gains in effectiveness of the UN and related bodies. Currently, effectiveness and the scope of operations are hampered by paltry, inconsistent funding. The ambitious and comprehensive collective security and disarmament components of the proposal will likewise free resources for international (and national) institutions in service of the public good, allowing for a true peace dividend. The disarmament agency, with robust and comprehensive inspection functions, will facilitate implementation of a general international disarmament process, overcoming traditional security dilemmas and costly arms races among states.

The Executive Council, with core management duties, is primarily focused on operational efficacy and the coherent implementation of policy and programming decisions taken by the GA. Tackling corruption is key to ensuring efficacy in global governance, as its prevalence perverts lines of implementation of international norms at the national level, leads to diversion of resources and constitutes a general drain on the system. The proposal suggests a model of complementary prosecution/oversight for addressing corruption at the national level, following the successful model of the ICC in this respect. Ongoing system efficacy will be safeguarded with mandatory five-year reviews of GA powers, a ten-year mandatory General Conference for review of the UN Charter and, if necessary, bypassing the Security Council if it chooses to block meaningful Charter reform in the first instance. Various individuals and bodies in the reformed UN institutions can regularly make suggestions for system reform and enhancement, based on operational experience. Finally, the UN will now be a body with significantly enhanced democratic and representative legitimacy, with reformed legislative chambers, an elected Executive Council, a well-trained, independent international judiciary, and a UN Bill of Rights, to heighten the willingness of all actors to cooperate and comply with its decisions and accept its global management responsibilities.

The focus on international basic education and quality access to information on UN institutions and activities will likewise strengthen this dynamic of legitimacy and participation in an international “social contract” for more effective governance. Resources and Financing. The proposal recognizes fully that the institutions underpinning the new mechanisms of global governance must be adequately resourced to provide a steady, predictable source of funding to finance its multiple operations. It proposes a system of funding which involves a level of automaticity that insulates the UN from the uncertainties associated with member state budgetary discretion. By allocating directly to the UN budget a fixed share of national revenue collection-the current practice in the EUthe UN is empowered to reliably implement its work program and formulate its strategies in a medium-term framework. The proposal argues that while there are, in principle, multiple sources of such funding, one practical way to proceed is to link budgetary contributions to national indirect taxes on goods and services, such as the VAT, because these are in place in virtually every country in the world and mechanisms already exist for their collection, significantly reducing the need to develop new revenue collection machinery. While it would be tempting to shift the burden of financing to high-income countries, universal participation in funding by all countries is an important principle, to encourage ownership by all member states of the new governance system. If the system of funding envisaged is linked to national income, wealthier states will automatically make larger contributions in absolute terms than lower-income members. Additional sources of international funding based on principles of equity and progressive taxation, such as those suggested by some contemporary prominent economists (e.g., a global wealth tax), or those based on successful models employed by international organizations (e.g., the IMO) will also be explored. Adequate and predictable funding will allow the UN to build a highly professional staff, including the creation of the International Security Force.

General Security.

Our proposal addresses the issue of security from multiple perspectives. First, it calls for the creation of an International Security Force acting on behalf of the international community as reflected in the deliberations of the GA and Executive Council, under whose authority it would operate. While recognizing the need for national forces to safeguard internal national security, it brings about the creation of a tool for the prevention of international aggression and other threats to peace and ensures compliance with the revised Charter. Creating an International Security Force would be an important confidence-building measure, enhancing the credibility of the UN in fulfilling its security responsibilities. It would also ensure, through the creation of a true system of collective security, a better allocation of global economic and financial resources, with states empowered to redirect resources now allocated to the maintenance of excessively large military establishments to socially productive ends. Total world military spending in 2016 was approximately US$1.7 trillion.

A Standing Force of some 800,000 might cost US$70 billion annually. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the conservatively estimated total economic impact of violence to the world economy in 2015 was $13.6 trillion, equivalent to 13.3 percent of world GDP or $1,876 per person per year. Clearly, the establishment of a workable International Security Force could have vast security and economic benefits, releasing substantial resources to promote economic and social development and shared prosperity, based on a model of “human security.” Second, this proposal calls for the mandatory and peaceful settlement of international disputes and the enforcement of international law. In particular, it grants compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ over international legal disputes for all UN members, departing from the current system requiring states’ agreement to adjudicate. Revisions to the Charter would also make mandatory acceptance by all UN members of the statute of the ICC. Third, the proposal argues for a significant strengthening of the current system of non-binding human rights oversight mechanisms through creation of an International Human Rights Tribunal. Fourth, a new Bill of Rights attached to the Charter would include fundamental human rights protections in specified areas. Finally, the proposal envisages a process of international disarmament, consistent with the transition to a global security model firmly anchored in the principle of collective security, the dignity of persons, and the rule of law.


The proposed institutional mechanisms have levels of built-in review and revision procedures to ensure that international governance can be adapted to changing conditions and accumulated experience applied. Governance mechanisms should develop organically in response to needs, form following function, with change considered normal and necessary. At the constitutional level, obligatory periodic review of the Charter will open the door for necessary revisions, and for relevant principles underlying widely accepted customary and soft law to be codified in the foundation text. The Executive Council has the mandate to review UN system performance, ensure good governance and management, and make necessary adjustments through administrative and UN system reforms. As unnecessary posts are abolished and new needs defined, institutional flexibility requires complementary procedures for social security and human resource management to protect the rights of international civil servants and facilitate optimal use of their capacities. This can reduce bureaucratic blockage and resistance to change. Some flexibility will be required in gradually implementing the proposal components, depending on the willingness of governments to accommodate necessary changes. While collective adoption by consensus would be ideal, provisions are included to sidestep any blockage by recalcitrant governments and enable the larger community of common interests to go forward, while gradually building the trust necessary for more radical changes (e.g., confidence-building is a major component of the disarmament proposals).

Accountability and Transparency.

The core values provide the foundation for accountability at all levels, and the framework for legislative, executive and judicial action for their application. Charter revision will incorporate provisions for transparency and public access to information. As collective consultative bodies, the GA and Executive Council provide some protection from individual abuse of power and the ability of any one country to block international action. The revised Charter will create higher standards of government accountability and mechanisms for international action where necessary to intervene against security threats, abuse of power and human rights violations at the national level. Once the GA is fully elected by popular vote, it will be directly accountable to its universal electorate through regular renewal of its membership. The Executive Council has the mandate to ensure accountability within the UN system. The Second Chamber provides a formal channel for civil society and global stakeholders to address accountability within and across the system. A better educated global public electing its representatives to the GA will also provide a fundamental level of accountability, and should come to see the core values as essential criteria for the selection of candidates for international governance responsibilities. An international press and media system freed from national hindrances and interference could express the diversified views of humankind and stimulate open, responsible and constructive debate on issues facing humanity, investigating abuses, ensuring transparency, and supporting general public education. The GA will need to legislate on the necessary standards, responsibilities and safeguards for an independent world press and associated media, especially given the advent of universal media access and the temptation to manipulate public opinion for partisan political and ideological ends. The media can, rather, become a tool for increased public participation in international governance, a potential already exploited prior to Rio+20 and for the 2030 Agenda.


1. The creation of something like the EU in 1938 would have been considered unthinkable. The European Coal and Steel Community, however, came into being in 1951, paving the way for the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the developments that followed. Some would argue that the creation of the EU was made possible by the untold human suffering and economic collapse associated with World War II.

2. See Clark and Sohn, World Peace Through World Law, Third Edition, 1966.

3. The country groupings are based on various population thresholds set, respectively, at 300, 160, 70, 40, 20, 10 and 1 million people. We have run other simulations. Inclusion of GDP measures to account for economic size tends to make the distribution of representatives top-heavy, with China and the United States accounting for a very large share of the Assembly’s membership.

4. As of the 1990s the political science literature suggests an emerging “consensus” that (market-based) democratic societies might be the “sole feasible social structure.” See, e.g., Wouters, J., Bart De Meester, & Ryngaert, C. 2004. Democracy and International Law, Leuven: Leuven Interdisciplinary Research Group on International Agreements and Development, p. 4.

5. See Mathews, Jessica T. 1997. “Power Shift”, Foreign Affairs, Volume 76, No. 1, 50-66. Three excellent examples of effective coalitions of like-minded states and nonstate actors aimed at precipitating reforms involved the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the adoption of Responsibility to Protect doctrine as a global norm.

6. Security Council membership expanded in 1965 from 11 to 15 members. Since then membership in the UN has risen from 117 to 193 countries, leading to a substantial drop in the presence in the Council of nonpermanent members and, thus, undermining its representative legitimacy.

7. See Clark and Sohn, World Peace Through World Law, Third Edition, 1966, p. 321.

8. While it would be inappropriate for the ISF to employ weapons of mass destruction or other weapons considered to violate international humanitarian law, it should be empowered to destroy such weapon systems, and to prevent their manufacture and use.

9. In this respect, it is not unrealistic to think that more countries might also wish to follow in the footsteps of Costa Rica which more than 50 years ago abolished its military, without any adverse repercussions for its security. A national police force has been more than effective in keeping the domestic peace, dealing with local crime, violations of traffic laws, and the like.

10. This figure assumes that about one third of this would go toward funding the pay and benefits of the Standing Force. The annual cost of UN peace-keeping operations today is about US$8-9 billion.

11. At present, the ICJ has mandatory jurisdiction over UN members by consent; to date, only 71 states have recognized the compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, undermining its ability to be a true enforcer of international law. 11. The reformed ICJ could also be empowered to order compliance with binding decisions resulting from inter-state arbitration, e.g., decisions issued by arbitral tribunals convened under the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

12. Schell has noted that “nuclear disarmament is the minimum technical requirement for real safety from extinction.” He argues that “we must lay down our arms, relinquish sovereignty, and found a political system for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.” Schell, Jonathan. 1982. The Fate of the Earth, Jonathan Cape, London, p. 226

. 13. E.g., the 2003 United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

new un

2 A Truly Global Partnership

A truly global partnership – helping the UN to do itself out of a job

by Natalie Samarasinghe


It is often said that the UN’s founders would not recognize the world in 2017 – a world in which people fear climate change, cyber attacks and extremism [1]; in which too much affluence, too many lives preserved, could be our downfall. Arguably the most profound transformation has been the creation of an international community far beyond their imagination. Companies now have wider spheres of influence than states. Civil society movements can mobilize millions of supporters. Two decades before social media, UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali referred to CNN as the 16th member of the UN Security Council. Sadly, there remains much that the war-weary generation of 1945 would recognize: from big power tensions to the threat of nuclear war, from corrosive nationalism to mass displacement. And as the setters of the Global Challenges Prize recognize, states continue to play an essential role, not least in creating the conditions for others to act. Efforts to improve global governance must, therefore, tackle old and new challenges, and address emerging and long-standing realities.

A blank sheet?

The task at hand – designing a more effective governance model that is implementable in the foreseeable future – is as urgent as it is difficult. We do not have the luxury of a blank sheet. Seeking a fast, wholesale transformation would be risky, threatening the hard-won gains of the past century, as well as those whose lives depend on the UN. It would be unlikely to meet the Prize criterion of acceptability without an unwieldy process of consultation, risking poor compromises or, worse, the creation of a two-speed system with only some states subscribing to the new model. Moreover, many of the constraints on the UN’s founders remain in place. The organization reflects realpolitik as much as it does principle, tempering universal membership with privileges for the powerful. It is this bargain, however flawed, that has underpinned its achievements and longevity. It took two world wars to create the UN. Reforming it has proved challenging, even during times of opportunity, such as the immediate post-Cold War period. At present, when principled political leadership is in short supply, reform might even be dangerous – a chance for leaders to dismantle what we have.


Figure 3: Natalie Samarasinghe

At the same time, we need transformational change now, given the scale and immediacy of the challenges we face. We also need a vision for the future, as the UN continues to fade in its impact and legitimacy. This proposal addresses this dilemma through changes that will make the UN more effective in the short term, while creating the conditions for a more sustainable and equitable system of global governance in the future.

What should stay, what should go

First, we must identify the areas that are most ripe for – and in need of – reform, as well as areas that should be supported or left alone: The democracy deficit – despite the rise of other actors, the international system remains stubbornly state-centric, with businesses and NGOs on the sidelines. The mantra that they will lead delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement rings hollow in the absence of their formal inclusion in governance. This is particularly the case for young people. Half the world’s population is under 30 but they are largely excluded from policymaking, even though they will bear the brunt of poor decisions made today. The development deficit – development work accounts for roughly 75% of total UN funding ($26bn), two-thirds of its staff (50,000), and more than 1,000 offices. This work made sense when the UN was the only actor on the ground. Today, it is rarely necessary or effective. A host of studies have shown that other actors are often more successful, more cost-effective and more in tune with local needs. This work also hampers the UN’s ability to provide its crucial “backstop” functions. [2] The “backstop” benefit – the UN’s role as the world’s “backstop” remains vital. While its peace and security record is patchy at best, other organizations have rarely performed better, nor have they been prepared to act in many situations. The UN’s political work is also not easily replicated.

And millions of people rely on its humanitarian assistance, which others are unlikely to match. The universality benefit – the UN’s added value is perhaps most clear in its shaping of the international system, through the development of laws and standards that govern everything from aviation safety to human rights. Its normative role and convening power, its technical expertise and its transformative ideas remain peerless. [3] The reform red herring – while Security Council reform invariably occupies the limelight, proposals are highly unlikely to meet the Prize’s criteria of efficacy or acceptability. It is not for lack of ideas that progress remains elusive. No magic reform – structural (eg composition), procedural (eg veto) or conceptual (eg R2P) – can make up for a lack of political will and fiercely guarded privilege. This proposal adopts an alternative approach: eroding the Council’s importance and remit over time through more effective crisis prevention by a system that encompasses several actors who are more influential than the Council’s members.

A new shape

Two major transformations are proposed to address the two deficits set out above, along with a number of supporting reforms (see next section) that also serve to boost the benefits: A four-way governance structure in all UN funds, programmes and agencies bringing together states, businesses, NGOs and young people. This would take as a model the International Labour Organization (ILO) [4] in terms of decision-making, but use a different method of appointment, with candidates participating in transparent selection processes aimed at raising standards and improving accountability. A global capacity-building drive that sees the UN transfer the bulk of its developmentrelated tasks to non-state stakeholders, who would bid competitively for contracts. This would be a priority for the reconstituted UN agencies, building on existing partnerships and proposals.

Descriotion of the model

TRANSFORMATION 1: Four-way governance structure

At present, UN funds, programmes and agencies (“agencies”) are governed by states. This has led to a number of problems, including: severe funding shortfalls, as states have made contributions voluntary in many agencies; inertia on reform, as states protect their interests (national offices, high-level staff positions, etc); and a reluctance to engage other actors meaningfully. The knee-jerk answer to calls for change has been the expansion of the UN’s agenda to incorporate ever more tasks. States rarely decide to close a poorly-performing programme, preferring instead to create a “coordination” or “evaluation” mechanism to promote efficiency. The result has been a system that is overstretched but unwieldy, underfunded but wasteful. In light of increasing demands on the system, states are belatedly looking to businesses and NGOs to support financing and delivery of programmes. But current structures offer few incentives for them to do more, not least a voice in formal decision-making. Multi-partner governance models are becoming increasingly common – the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; and the UN Global Compact all have UN, business and civil society representatives on their boards. The most fruitful model, though, is the ILO, which has had a tripartite structure since its inception in 1919. As one of the UN’s specialized agencies, it offers an example of shared governance and decision-making that is more likely to be acceptable to states, and which has demonstrated its ability to deliver positive outcomes. This proposal recommends a four-way governance structure where the number of members is doubled, with states making up half, and representatives of business, civil society and youth organizations making up the other half (or close to 50%). While increasing the number of actors involved in decision-making often slows down the process, it can also improve the outcome. Assessments of the ILO by various governments and academics have noted that the interplay between different constituencies has increased “interest accommodation” and provided pathways through stale debates. Greater ownership by local actors and the identification of local issues during negotiations have also helped to speed up implementation once agreement has been reached. This is often a source of delay following purely intergovernmental negotiations.

The structure

While each UN body has distinct arrangements, each specialized agency (e.g. the Food & Agriculture Organization – FAO) tends to have a “general conference” or “assembly” of member states who elect from within their number a “governing body” or “executive committee/board”. UN funds and programmes (e.g. the World Food Programme – WFP) often have only the latter, elected by a supra-body such as a specialized agency or the UN Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC). To facilitate the inclusion of new stakeholders with the least possible resistance from states, it is proposed that the only changes to governance structures would be: The widening of the definition of “member” to include a total number of for- and nonprofit organizations equal to the number of member statesResultant changes to the voting and other arrangements (e.g. for committee membership), with thresholds and proportions maintained except to reflect the increased number of members

Appointment and election of non-state representatives (NSRs)

Step 1 In order to be eligible, for-profit NSRs must be members of the UN Global Compact who are classified as “active” (currently over 10,000 companies and organisations). Nonprofit NSRs must be accredited to ECOSOC (currently just over 4,500 non-governmental organisations and other institutions). The requirement to have passed existing processes provides a measure of scrutiny and acceptability to states. Youth organizations can be either for-profit or non-profit organizations. To qualify, the organization’s objects and purposes must explicitly relate to young people and the organization must commit to fielding only representatives aged 30 or younger.

Step 2 Prospective NSRs must then register their interest on a new online portal, similar in style to the UN-Business Action Hub [6] and the partnership portals of UN bodies like the Refugee Agency (UNHCR). This would require them to accept the UN’s Supplier Code of Conduct and provide a statement outlining their ability to make a meaningful contribution to particular areas of UN work, at the policy or delivery level, or both. It would also require them to accept assessments of their performance (see below), as well as an agency membership fee should they be elected/appointed (see “Argumentation” section for details). In addition, a small registration fee, based on a sliding scale similar to the UN Global Compact’s suggested contributions, would be applied to discourage non-serious applicants and to help maintain the portal: Less than USD 50 million revenue = USD 250 (suggested minimum) USD 50 million – USD 250 million = USD 2,500 – 5,000 USD 250 million – USD 1 billion = USD 5,000 – 10,000 USD 1 billion – USD 5 billion = USD 10,000 – 15,000 Greater than USD 5 billion = USD 15,000+

Step 3 The member states of the various agencies would then elect/appoint NSRs from the pool of those registered. For general conferences, NSRs would be elected in corresponding numbers to member states. So, for example, if an agency has 193 member states, 64 for-profit, 64 non-profit and 64 youth NSRs would be elected. To be elected, NSRs must secure a two-thirds vote, which is the general UN system threshold applied for the admission of new members. Each of the five UN regional groups would put forward 20 candidates for each category, to avoid the fielding of “clean slates” and to ensure geographic balance. A group of experts (see below) would also act as a vetting mechanism, flagging up misconduct and potential risks such as pending legal proceedings. Their advice would be non-binding but delivered publicly to encourage states to pay heed. Membership would be reviewed at a general conference on a five-yearly basis, with NSRs allowed to stand again for one further five-year term. This would provide a long enough framework for NSRs to make a meaningful contribution, allow them to step down if circumstances change, and serve as a formal point at which assessments of their performance are considered.

Step 4 For governing bodies, the existing appointment and election processes of each UN body would remain in place except for the increased number of representatives. So, for example, WFP’s Executive Board currently comprises 36 states, 18 elected by ECOSOC and 18 by the FAO Council. Under this new model, it would comprise 72 members, 36 states and 36 NSRs. 18 of them (six for-profit, six non-profit and six youth) would be elected by ECOSOC from candidates registered on the portal. The other 18 (six for-profit, six non-profit and six youth) would be elected from the FAO’s NSR membership, which would be determined using the process for general conferences outlined above.

Working methods, powers and functions

For general conferences, the ILO provides a positive model in terms of working methods, with the various constituencies functioning somewhat as political parties do in a national legislature: meeting separately for informal discussions on strategy, holding caucuses and voting separately. This would complement the emphasis on regional coordination practiced by states. The diversity of interests would also allow for the emergence of issue-based coalitions that could help break down the silos that currently impede agencies’ work. The powers and functions of the general conferences and governing bodies would remain the same, with the exception of one additional task: reviewing which tasks currently undertaken by the UN entity should be transferred to other actors – this is the second proposed transformation.

Lighting the spark

Reforms to UN agency membership do not require amendment of the UN Charter, which is notoriously difficult to achieve. They can be instituted by their members, who would need to be convinced that the proposed changes, which would dilute their decision-making power to some extent, are desirable. Prospective NSRs, meanwhile, also need to be enticed to register. The main incentive for states is burden-sharing in terms of financing, risk, delivery and accountability. If one agency were able to reach full funding, reduce its workload and improve its effectiveness – and the perception of its member states – this would certainly encourage others to follow suit. For NSRs the main incentive is a meaningful role in decision-making that affects their operating context. Businesses stand to gain contracts to deliver handed-over UN tasks, while NGOs stand to gain funding to deliver the work they were set up to do. To start the process, a mass mobilization campaign involving business, civil society and youth organisations will be necessary, to build up support among UN member states. Given that the proposals are grounded in precedents and existing examples, do not require additional state funding, and leave states in the driving seat on paper, it should be possible to attract support.

TRANSFORMATION 2: global capacity-building drive

This transformation involves the UN transferring tasks that can be performed by other actors, thereby: – Building local and national capacity, ownership, engagement and accountability – Formalizing what is already the reality on the ground in many situations – Empowering developing countries, further eroding the notion of “donors” and “recipients” – Providing businesses and NGOs with contracts, and helping to coordinate and upscale their efforts – Addressing the unsustainable growth in the UN’s workload, and the incompatibility on the ground of various functions it is expected to perform – political, humanitarian, development and human rights – Enabling the UN to focus on tasks that cannot be easily taken on by others, such as forging political solutions to crises and dealing with complex emergencies.

Some of these tasks, particularly on the development side, will be easy and quick to transfer, as they are already contracted out by the UN. Others will require a process of knowledge sharing and capacity-building, as well as support in the form of funding and staff. Proposals to scale back the UN’s non-emergency work have been steadily gaining traction. The Secretary-General’s report to the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit featured a commitment to be “as local as possible, as international as necessary”, which would see the UN providing greater support to local actors and not seeking to replace or duplicate their efforts. This, in turn, would enable the UN to better respond when local and national capacities are not sufficient, and additional expertise, resources and capacity are required. The leading role of non-state stakeholders in financing and delivering the SDGs and Paris Agreement has not only been embraced. It has been recognized as the only means by which they can be realized. However, stakeholder involvement has been piecemeal and limited, with vast differences between UN agencies. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is one example of good practice. It works with thousands of partners, including private sector companies, investors, academic institutions and civil society groups, whose support includes everything from funding (nearly 30% of UNICEF’s budget) to in-kind services such as aid distribution, evaluation and research. Partners gain expertise, experience and exposure. With strict guidelines on procurement and a strong focus on the UN Principles of Partnership, these collaborations have also served to strengthen accountability and transparency on both sides. This proposal seeks to formalize and expand the current practice of partnership.

The process

The first stage will involve UN agencies identifying which of their current tasks can be transferred. The participation of NSRs in agency decision-making, and the prospect of UN funding, staff and expertise being shared and/or transferred to national and local actors, should serve to encourage and incentivize states. However, there is nothing to say that this process could not occur in the absence of Transformation 1. The second stage will be drawing up tenders for these tasks, which would be similar to current procurement processes. The tenders would be posted on a UN-wide portal, which would combine the various different portals currently in use. Ideally, it would be the same portal used for registering stakeholders. The third stage will involve a competitive tender process open to those who have registered as stakeholders. This would provide a baseline of requirements, as well as a commitment to accept and facilitate performance assessments, including through dedicating a proportion of project funding to evaluation. While the procurement structures will differ for the various UN agencies, the expertise of non-tendering NSRs should be leveraged. The fourth stage will involve planning meetings with UN and successful suppliers to determine a timeframe and process for task handover that minimizes disruption and risk to beneficiaries. This will also involve discussion of the supplier’s funding and staffing needs. Consultations with beneficiaries and local communities will form an essential part of this process, allowing for a measure of civic acceptance of tender outcomes and encouraging good behavior from suppliers. The fifth stage will involve delivery, with the aim of the UN providing support until it is no longer needed. This process may involve ongoing funding for the task, or support to create alternative sources of funding. It may also involve the transfer of staff to the supplier. Concurrently, feedback and assessment processes will begin (see below and “Argumentation” section).


The new stakeholder portal

In addition to supporting the above transformations, the new portal for registering stakeholders would serve three important functions: Combining similar existing portals, thus increasing efficiency and reducing cost and administration Combining existing codes of conduct and voluntary principles, thus raising the bar for stakeholders Formalizing stakeholder engagement with the UN, thus increasing transparency and, through the acceptance of expert and public scrutiny (a requirement for registration), strengthening accountability. The portal would initially be funded by a new UN Global Compact fee, and maintained through stakeholder registration fees as detailed above.

Membership dues for NSRs

As per the registration requirement, NSRs would agree to pay membership dues if elected to UN agencies. These would be based on their ability to pay, using a scale of assessment similar to that used for member states. This would see the wealthiest NSRs pay the most, and the poorest NSRs pay only a token amount, in order to maintain the principle of contribution. Instituting dues would significantly boost the unrestricted income of UN agencies, many of which rely entirely on voluntary contributions that are often earmarked. This, in turn, would enable better planning and allow for swifter mobilization during emergencies. At present, several agencies have severe funding shortfalls (the Refugee Agency is missing two thirds of its budget), and UN appeals are only partially met, particularly for situations that are not receiving media attention. If 10 companies with a revenue of $5 bn gave 0.01% as an annual membership due, $500 million would be raised – a larger amount than all but one country (the United States) have pledged to the Refugee Agency for the budget year 2017. A useful consultation exercise to establish the details of the formula used to assess membership dues could be based on the World Health Organization’s successful practice of Negotiated Pledges, which involved a series of dialogues between that organisation and its partners, through which consensus over funding commitments was reached. The initiative lead to increased voluntary contributions of core funding and a significant improvement in funding predictability.

Expert monitoring system

Involving NSRs requires processes to be put in place to increase transparency and accountability. The registration system (above) is one such measure. Public feedback (below) is another. But expert input will also be required. Experts should provide vetting during NSR election processes. Through regular assessments, and the ability to investigate allegations of misconduct, they should also help inform procurement decisions. The Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council provide a model that is ripe for expansion. Described by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the “jewel in the crown”, Special Procedures consist of experts (sometimes called “Special Rapporteurs”) and working groups that are mandated to scrutinize human rights issues related to particular themes (such as modern slavery and violence against women) and particular countries. What distinguishes them is their independence from the UN system, and their freedom to investigate any matter that falls within their mandate. Some can also receive complaints and petitions from the public. At present Special Procedures receive little support from the UN and no remuneration. Using money from the UN Global Compact fee, this system could be expanded and reinforced so that it can better deliver its current tasks, and develop the capacity to monitor stakeholders who have accepted scrutiny as a condition of registering with the UN. This measure should be acceptable to states as no changes to Special Procedure mandates would be required, nor additional funding from states. The mandates would also continue to be set up and reviewed by the member states of the Human Rights Council.

Public feedback and scrutiny

The two transformations outlined above are aimed at addressing the democratic deficit in global governance. However, it is important to distinguish between civil society and the public, and to ensure that people are able to participate directly in decisions and work that affects them, and not only through representatives. It is also vital to ensure that those affected are consulted during the process of task handover from the UN to stakeholders. Public input should be sought at all stages – through consultations in advance, ongoing feedback and monitoring, and assessments. This input should become an integral part of planning and evaluation, and should shape outcomes if it is to be meaningful. To support the above transformations, this must include the ability to: provide feedback on NSRs and suppliers; to flag good and bad practice and performance, and to encourage good behavior through “naming and shaming” and “naming and praising”. To meet the requirement of meaningful participation, this feedback will be made publicly available alongside expert assessments, and states will be required to take this into account when selecting NSRs and suppliers. To be truly inclusive, this feedback needs to be gathered in different ways, using different means. The various tools already in use by UN agencies provide options. Examples include UNICEF’S U Report (a real-time social messaging tool) and WFP’s Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping tool, which gathers data through phone surveys. The costs would be built into the tender process, with consultation a requirement.

UN Global Compact membership fee

At present, there are over 12,000 members of which 10,000 are rated as active. They include more than 8,000 companies and 4,000 other organizations. There is no fee for membership although a small voluntary contribution is suggested based on revenue. It is proposed that a small fee be levied on members, based on a scale of assessment, to support: – The initial setting up of the stakeholder registration portal – The expansion in the Special Procedures system – The UN’s “backstop” functions, in particular the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary-General’s mediation infrastructure, which should serve to enhance the stable environment that business requires – Civil society participation in UN activities, to increase representation of the poorest and most vulnerable According to the Global Compact Secretariat, about 40% of FTSE 500 companies are members. In 2015, the FTSE 500 had a value of $32,387bn. [7] If one assumes that none of the FTSE 100 are members, which is not the case, thus reducing the value by $16,245bn, and then applies a fee of 0.01% to the remaining 40%, the resulting revenue would be $64.5bn, more than the entire cost of the UN system annually. This is not intended to suggest that this amount would be raised, although it is certainly a financing model that should be seriously considered. Rather this estimated example illustrates the possibilities of a Global Compact fee.

UN offices focused on core functions

Reducing UN activity in the development sphere will enable it to focus on the political, human rights and peace and security work that cannot easily be replicated or transferred to others. These activities should become the focus of UN offices around the world. The head of these offices would be delinked from the development system and answerable to the UN Secretary-General. They would be tasked with ensuring that all UN activity in their territory meets broader UN objectives and supports task handover and stakeholder coordination. This builds on several reform proposals produced in the wake of UN failures to protect civilians on the ground. In 2009 in Sri Lanka, UN actors were found to have prioritized humanitarian access (although this never materialized) over raising human rights concerns. Similar charges are now being leveled against the UN office in Myanmar.

Transparent and inclusive appointment processes

Finally, no amount of reforms can make up for poor leadership. At present, the appointment processes for UN agency heads and other senior managers vary greatly in quality.

To support the above transformations, and to increase performance and accountability more generally, consistent appointment processes should be instituted. These should be grounded in best practice from across the UN system, and reflect the recommendations of the UN’s Joint Inspection Unit, which have been endorsed by states. [8] At a minimum, appointment processes should include: a job description with clear criteria, a timeline and description of the recruitment process, a shortlist of candidates (which must include women), an interview process that enables all stakeholders to engage with candidates, and a final selection process that involves all stakeholders. Due regard should be given to geographic diversity without constraints that limit posts to particular regions, as is currently often the case. A single term of office should also be seriously considered to improve performance and accountability.


Both transformations seek to address the democratic deficit in global governance, in terms of decision-making and delivery. At present, the participation of other stakeholders businesses, investors, foundations, NGOs, academic institutions, the media and public – is generally limited and tokenistic. This is unsustainable for a number of reasons: – The UN is overstretched and underfunded at a time when needs are rapidly increasing. Its unique political, humanitarian, human rights and peace and security work is suffering as resources are diverted to its underperforming development work – There is a risk that stakeholders filling the vacuum do so in a manner that is, at best, ad hoc and uncoordinated, and at worst, opaque and unaccountable – Continued exclusion of stakeholders is a security risk. It can lead to unrest and violence on the one hand, and poor behavior from states on the other, as they seek to maintain control Conversely, where engagement has been successful, the international community has been able to make headway on some of the most tricky issues – the Montreal Protocol that led to the phasing out of CFCs, is one example; the Ottawa Convention banning landmines is another. More recently, the Paris Agreement offers a potential model for the future. The languishing process to produce a traditional one-size fits all treaty was replaced by a more flexible and inclusive arrangement through discussions involving a wide range of stakeholders. The response from within and outside America to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement demonstrates the extent to which the agreement has been embraced by local and national actors. At the same time, the UN provided the forum for the agreement, and gave it the stamp of global approval and legitimacy. The proposals above seek to formalize, and in doing so, enhance cooperation and coordination between states and other stakeholders, through processes that encourage better behavior, more transparency and greater accountability. In crafting these proposals, the following principles have been applied: – Harnessing prevailing global trends and political realities to create a more effective and inclusive UN in the short- to medium-term, and a more sustainable and equitable system of global governance in the future – Ensuring there are incentives for all parties: states (burden- and cost-sharing, and increased national capacity), businesses (formalized participation in decision-making and delivery, access to contracts), and NGOs (formalized participation in decision-making and delivery, funding support) – Formalizing and enhancing, through coordination and up-scaling, the informal roles currently played by non-state actors, thereby also increasing scrutiny of their activities – Encouraging participation by instituting rules and conditions that are voluntary as the pursuit of participation is itself voluntary – Taking existing structures, rules and processes as starting points, to increase ease and speed of acceptance and implementation – Seeking accountability through transparency, better leadership and public participation The proposals also seek to meet the Global Challenges Prize criteria:

Core Values

In order to be guided by the good of all humankind and by respect for the equal value of all human rights, a governance model must reflect humankind. The quadripartite structure enables people and organizations to sit alongside states in terms of decision-making and delivery. Not beholden to short-term election cycles, these actors will have more scope to act in the long-term collective interest. The transfer of UN functions back to national and local actors will increase the need for, and incentive to, respect human rights. The creation of transparency and accountability processes, meanwhile, will enhance scrutiny of organizations that have too often remained in the shadows.

Decision-Making Capacity

The experience of the ILO has shown that while the participation of multiple stakeholders can make certain processes slower, these are productive and not crippling delays, focusing on the interplay between international decisions and national actions – often the sticking point for inaction – and ensuring broad acceptance of outcomes. This interplay should also raise the quality of decision, with states prioritizing a nationally-determined agenda, businesses able to provide a longer-term risk perspective, and NGOs seeking the realization of principles. The requirement to take expert and public input into account should further improve the quality, buy-in and implementation of decisions.


The two transformations seek to mitigate two major risks – the democratic and delivery deficits in global governance – whilst improving necessary and well-functioning parts of the current system. The democratization of governance structures is both an end in itself and a means to increase effective handling of global challenges and risks.

Involving stakeholders in decision-making and delivery will lead to better outcomes and support implementation through closer alignment of international, national and local actions and priorities. By reducing inequalities between countries through capacity-building; by increasing the accountability of non-state actors; and by empowering the public and young people, the system also serves to address some of the factors that cause instability. Meanwhile, the UN system retains its core of expertise and capacity. With additional funding to strengthen these functions, its performance in the areas of peace and security, human rights and humanitarian assistance should improve.

Resources and Financing

Currently over 8,000 businesses and 4,000 NGOs are engaged with the UN through the Global Compact and ECOSOC accreditation. In addition, thousands of other individuals and institutions work with its funds, programmes and agencies. And millions of people worldwide are affected by its work. There is no shortage of candidates for the quadripartite system and the supporting mechanisms. Equally, there is no shortage of money, as the estimate provided above for the UN Global Compact fee shows. Such a fee could support many of the UN’s core functions and, if seriously pursued, the system itself. The case could be made for a “fully-costed” approach to corporate social responsibility on ethical, practical and business grounds. It is hard to argue against support for an organisation credited by many with 72 years of relative global stability that has enabled many businesses to flourish. The business case for ethical trading is also becoming more and more pronounced, exemplified by the Global Compact 100 index outperforming the FTSE All World index in recent years. The introduction of NSR membership dues will also go a long way to address the funding shortfall in UN funds, programmes and agencies. This funding would enable planning, including the work needed to institute the task transfer process. This process would see staff migrate along with functions, providing recipient countries and communities with capacity and expertise, as well as funding and, in due course, control.

Trust and Insight

Transparency is a key feature of the proposed system, as it supports accountability and public buy-in and participation. This includes expert and public scrutiny of decisionmaking, delivery, appointments and membership, and the publication of information on the stakeholder registration portal. The requirement for feedback to be taken into account should further serve to enhance trust and a perception of meaningful participation by those affected by decisions and programmes. With stakeholders involved both in policy-making and operational activities, these two processes will be more closely aligned and in tune with what is needed on the ground. When information is transparent and public, companies and NGOs, which rely on “clients”, demonstrate a propensity towards taking on board feedback.

At a macro level, the creation of cross-sector cross-border partnerships should serve, over time, to improve relations between the various partners, and reposition interdependence as something positive.


This model significantly increases flexibility, moving UN agencies away from delivering tasks simply because that is what they were set up to do, moving NGOs away from projects that reflect competition for funding rather than needs, and moving businesses away from narrow profit-focused activities that do not apply their capabilities creatively. The very nature of partnerships that are responsive to public feedback is flexible. The model also enables the UN to build up resources in its areas of core competence, allowing it anticipate and respond to issues in a much more fluid and effective manner.

Protection against the Abuse of Power

The transfer of power to the national and local level is at the core of this proposal. The functions retained by the UN are already governed by checks and balances which, although imperfect, remain largely acceptable to the majority of states. The biggest risk, therefore, in this new model is the favoring of particular stakeholders and the exclusion of others. A number of processes have been designed to mitigate this risk: – The creation of a set of minimum standards, including respect for diversity, that stakeholders who seek agency membership or contracts must fulfill – A high threshold (two-thirds) for NSR membership and a vetting process – Expert and public assessments of performance and conduct, which must be taken into account – The integration of public participation at all stages of implementation, including a requirement to consult with all groups of stakeholders – Transparent decision-making processes and the publication of expert and public assessments to promote naming and shaming/praising – Transparent and merit-based processes for the appointment of senior staff


The new model seeks to increase peer and public accountability through an inclusive decision-making process, merit-based and competitive contracts, transparency of decisionmaking, and public participation at all stages. The system will serve to give people a framework for holding businesses and NGOs accountable, as well as increasing avenues for state accountability, particularly important for people who are not able to participate fully in national decision-making processes.


There is a shortcut to improving global governance: political will. It is the UN’s member states that call the shots, setting the organization’s priorities and budget. If they chose to, they could look beyond narrow national interests and give the UN the authority and resources it needs to serve the long-term interests of the world. This is a big “if”, so insurmountable that typical solutions to this challenge focus on the UN’s structures, not its members’ policies, notably enlargement of the Security Council. It is debatable whether this would have the desired effect. While more representation might add to its legitimacy – an important consideration – a larger membership may not make the Council more effective or progressive, if the voting records of regional powers, the likely candidates for new seats, are a guide. In any case, this debate remains academic. Member states cannot agree on what a new Council should look like. Even if they could, changing the Council’s composition requires amendment of the UN Charter, which in turn needs the backing of its five permanent members. They are in no rush to do so. In this proposal, the absence of political will, epitomised by the Security Council, is overcome by putting in place reforms that require no Charter amendment, no additional financing by states. Instead they require simply an opening, for new stakeholders to contribute in a more meaningful, coordinated and transparent way. Any state that is serious about improving the UN’s effectiveness, increasing national capacity and doing more with less, should support them. The nub, of course, is that over time, the reforms suggested would serve to level further the playing field between states and other actors. As UN agencies devolve tasks and eventually close, only a narrow core of activities would be carried out by the organization. With more and more actors working – successfully – on prevention, saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war would no longer be up to the powers of a bygone era.


1. Pew Research Center, Spring 2017 Global Attitudes Survey, Q17a-h, http://www.pewglobal.org/

2. See, for instance, Stephen Browne and Thomas G. Weiss, Supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – Lessons from the MDG Fund, https://www.sdgfund.org/sites/default/files/MDGFReport.pdf

3. See, for instance, Richard Jolly, Louis Emmerji and Thomas G. Weiss, UN Ideas That Changed the World, (Indiana University Press, 2009)

4. International Labour Organization constitution, http://www.ilo.org

5. See, for instance, Hughes S, “Coming in from the cold. The ILO, tripartism and global governance”, in Global Governance: Critical Perspectives Eds Wilkinson R, Hughes S (Routledge, 2002)

6. UN-Business Action Hub, http://business.un.org/

7. Financial Times, FTSE 500 http://www.ft.com/ft500

8. Joint Inspection Unit, Selection and conditions of service of Executive Heads in the United Nations System Organizations (2009)


Figure 4: Soushiant Zanganehpour

AI-supported global governance

AI-supported global governance through bottom-up deliberation

by Soushiant Zanganehpour


The founding purpose of our current international governance system was to prevent interstate violence and large-scale conflict, creating the conditions for collective prosperity. Since its inception, the world has not seen another world war and the system has helped prevent numerous conflicts while inculcating shared norms of cooperation and progress. That said, today’s reality is very different from when our global governance system was built. We face man-made species endangering existential crises that transcend individual races, national interests, and sovereignty. But, today’s institutions are poorly designed to building experimental, self-sacrificing solutions and alliances for prioritizing collective preservation above a narrow set of national interests. Our norms, operating assumptions, and legal jurisprudence prioritize national interests above all else. Cooperation and progress under are framed as zero-sum calculus, breaking down the ability of leaders to make necessary concessions for long-term collective progress. The resulting limitations of our governance structures have created dangerous undermanaged macro risks that threaten our survival and future prosperity. We need new actors, new operating assumptions, and norms to help reframe our priorities to protect humanityfirst, and nations second. An update to our global governance system must start with building new digital tools and institutions at the city, national and international levels, allowing citizens to directly ideate, build strong proposals with support of AI, debate and build consensus with insights mined from millions of conversations by AI, and vote the best proposals into existence. Furthermore, new special economic and political zones will be created to test and institutionalize the results of the new decision-making protocols. After considerable testing and iterations, a movement can help spread these tools and institutions to complement or replace existing governance institutions and decision-making protocols and processes.

The digital tools for a new governance model include:

Blockchain global idntity

• Immutable, verifiable identity, operating on a public blockchain

• Facilitates incorruptible liquid democracy protocol, sentiment capture, participation in e-parliaments, and other key functions of new institutions, providing fidelity to institutions

• A necessary building block for a decentralized, direct, deliberative global democracy Citizen sentiment tracker

• A polling service at the local, national and international levels leveraging anonymized blockchain ID, helping shed light in real-time about how people feel about certain issues and how they believe those should be dealt with.

AI-augmented proposal development tool

• Tool combines anonymisation with ai-augmentation and crowd intelligence to help identify, create and build consensus around new bottom-up solutions for complex, multi-stakeholder challenges.

• Helping increase likelihood of participation, and quality of ideas inputted AI-based budget simulator & trade-off analysis tool

• AI-based budget simulators and tradeoff analysis tools, leveraging real-time data, helping highlight the potential implications of supporting one proposal versus another.

AI-supported mass policy deliberation tool

• Through data mining and computation, AI and machine learning unveil patterns of synergy and agreement amongst disparate and opposed constituent groups, helping create the building blocks for creative, multi-stakeholder solutions.

Implementation & Impact Tracker

• Transparent real-time workflow sharing where approved proposals sit relative to being implemented.

• Reveals degree to which a “promise inflation” exists; the % of promises being inflated by representatives or those in charge of executing approved proposals

• Real-time dashboard showing the potential intended and unintended implications and impacts of various implemented solutions.

The new institutions include:

Digital City, Country, and World

• A digital environment and testing ground for building solutions to existing local, national and international challenges and policies

• Injected with real-time raw data about developments in cities, nations, the world

• Allows for the creation and modeling of creative policy solutions in a safe environment

• Suggestions that have large backing and consensus on these platforms will compete against existing solutions crafted by today’s leaders for acceptance In the future, will be the basis by which new public policies are initially conceived and stress tested, before deep development and feasibility at local, national or international stages prior to implementation.

Ministry of Ideas – City, Country, and World

• Local, national and transnational institution, providing relevant solutions concerning how best to steward our commons

• Collects the most popular ideas from digital environments (city, nation, world) or small-scale physical pilots for further deliberation.

Global Library of Societies Solutions – City, Country, World

• A repository of all past policies explored by cities, nations and global coalitions to deal with different systemic challenges.

• Shares the success or failure of experiments and policies.

• Includes data sets and impact reports.

Parliament for Citizens – City, Country, World

• An institution where the most popular proposals from the various ministries of ideas are discussed and deliberated.

• Allows for distributed sourcing of expertise and creative ideas concerning different issues we face locally, nationally or internationally to provide feedback and ideas.

• Open to constituents from a mix of territorial and Internet-based jurisdictions, helping legitimize the internet as a sovereign jurisdiction.

• Allows for the functioning of a direct, deliberative liquid democracy protocol.

• Will influence the trajectory, content, and approach of different local, national and international public policy solutions that are consequential to the stewardship of global commons.

• Helps current leaders see the delta between their interpretation of the public will and the public’s direct articulation of that will.

• The basis for future consensus formation and policy-making in the long-term.

Global Parliament of Mayors

• A new institution where the majority of legislation and policies proposed are solutions co-created by different mayors only with the majority approval of their constituents (evidenced through citizen sentiment capture tool).

• Provides institutional authority to mayors to decide over their territory.

• Gives them the opportunity to compete to build better solutions to global challenges, ones that nation states are unwilling or unable to create.


• An open-source judicial system and platform reimagined around the internet era.

• Allows for dispute resolution at scale, using algorithms to source the right experts for the right problem around the world.

• An opt-in protocol, decisions are legally-binding (unlike ICJ).

• Exponentially more cost-effective and incorruptible than centralized legal systems.



The current global governance system and its associated institutions were founded in the aftermath of two world wars. The system’s primary purpose was to uphold the required pillars for long lasting peace between nations. These included enshrining national sovereignty, creating the conditions to pursue shared security, and global social and economic prosperity. The system and its institutions encourage diverse nations to cooperate while pursuing objectives that protect their sovereignty and interests. The notion of national sovereignty and each nations inalienable right to pursue its national interests as they deem fit are key operating assumptions for the correct functioning of the system. Progress in the system relies on coalition-building and the alignment of national interests with that of a collective. Sometimes different nations’ goals align, most often, interests are incompatible with the majority. Concessions towards the common good are perceived to be zero-sum tradeoffs, depending on how well your national economy is postured vis-a-vis the particular issue. For example, trade or climate change quotas are good examples of this zero-sum dynamic. There are a limited number of tools available within the system to help nudge a nation towards prioritizing the interests of the collective above those they have predetermined. The use or threat of force as tool to influence a nations preferences, negotiating posture or choice of alliances, or as a means for reconciling disputes is highly unacceptable. Other tools for influencing a nations perception of a their ’best’ interests include dialogue, negotiations, trade, treaties, incentives, investments, and sometimes economic sanctions. Most international norms or agreements created within this system are voluntary, opt-in declarations that are non-binding and unenforceable.

Current Systemic Dysfunction

The founding purpose of our current governance system was to prevent inter-state violence and large scale conflict. Creating the conditions for mutual-shared prosperity was to be a natural consequences of this primary goal.

At the time, the threat of inter-state war (e.g. Hiroshima/Nagasaki, WW2, Cold War) was the largest man-made existential threat possible. Natural disasters were relative anomalies that did not threaten humanity in any consequential manner. The global commons (air, pollution, water, oceans, space, etc.) were also insignificant priorities and poorly understood phenomena. Issues of commons management – ensuring public safety and health and air quality, creating reliable infrastructure, managing pollution, creating and conserving ecosystems, parks and shared spaces, establishing social norms – were managed within the realm of responsibility of the nation-state. National sovereignty was the baseline used to determine how best to deal with global commons. Despite episodic challenges with this system, the world has not seen another world war (yet) and the system has helped prevent numerous conflicts while inculcating shared norms of cooperation and global progress. Though the goals around preventing interstate conflict have mostly been accomplished, today’s reality is very different from the historical context from which our current global governance system was invented. For example, over the past decades, the nature of conflict and threats to humanity’s progress have changed from interstate to intrastate violence. The genocides in Serbia, Darfur, South Sudan, to crimes against humanity in Syria, Israel-Palestine, to the Rohingya in Myanmar, are all proxies of how poorly equipped the current system is to deal with new forms of collective challenges. Even more troubling, we face species endangering and humanity-altering existential crises, which are mostly man-made, the likes of which we have never faced before collectively. These phenomena transcend individual races, national interests, and national sovereignty. They are equal opportunity disasters waiting to be unleashed on us collectively. Unfortunately, our norms, operating assumptions, and legal jurisprudence prioritize national interests above all else. Today our leaders proudly convey they are “(name any country) First!” over and above the systemic global challenges we all face as a species. Defending ‘X’ interest above all else and bargaining on zero-sum winner-takes-most tradeoffs between nations is what the current system optimizes for. Cooperation and progress under the current framework are framed as zero-sum calculus, breaking down the ability of leaders to make necessary concessions for long-term collective progress. Today’s international institutions are poorly suited to building experimental or creative win-win solutions to the global commons problems we face. We need new solutions, potentially self-sacrificing ones, for prioritizing species preservation above a narrow set of national self-interests and benefiting all of humanity. Consequently, there are dangerous emerging under-managed macro risks stemming from the limitations of our governance structures. Our system is no longer fit for our new age and we need new actors, new operating assumptions and norms to help reframe our priorities and uphold humanity-first, and nations second.

New Context and Operating Environment – The Case for Decentralization and Disintermediation

The nation state is no longer the only nor most appropriate vehicle for global problemsolving to elevate the human condition. In fact, finding far reaching, win-win solutions by competitive nation states in today’s maze of a governance framework appears to be beyond the capabilities of the design of the system. In today’s system it is nearly impossible to persuade decision-makers to prioritize the long-term consequences of their actions and commit to self-sacrificing solutions that benefit the greater good; they are too worried such actions will lead to career suicide and opt instead to preserve the longevity of their careers over collective best interests. Consequently, leaders and their governments are losing credibility rapidly for their inability to tackle and solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. In 2017, the Edelman Trust Barometer surveyed thousands of people across dozens of countries about their level of trust in business, media, government, and NGOs. For the first time in 17 years they found a decline in trust across all four of these institutions. In two-thirds of the 28 countries surveyed, the general population did not trust the four institutions to “do what is right” – the average level of trust in all four institutions combined was below 50%. The study also revealed a staggering lack of confidence in leadership: 71% said government officials are not at all or somewhat credible, and 63% said the same about CEOs. Today our biggest challenge is not scientific or technical, it is political and systemic. We organize our pursuit of our collective interest through representative democracy and command-and-control centralised organizational governance models that operate on the inalienable right of the nation state to pursue its self-interest and sovereignty. Though there are certain advantages and efficiencies that we derive from organizing politics around centralized hierarchies that concentrate power and afford mass participation through representation, the costs of maintaining such structures are beginning to outweigh their benefits. For example, in centralized systems, the concentration of power and decision-making at the top, segments people into the powerful and the powerless leaving the majority feeling powerless, with deep sense of resignation and resentment. Power in such systems is a scarce commodity, worth fighting for, leading people to compete over its access, exacerbating the worst attributes of human nature: personal ambition, mistrust, fear, greed, politics. Concentrated power is corruptible and can lead to deep levels of cognitive bias and group think when smaller concentrations of like minded people decide on behalf of others. The speed of decision making can also be significantly delayed when other possibilities existing in our digital age. New research is beginning to shed light on a number of negative social and economic problems directly attributed to how we organize ourselves. These include:

• High levels of voter apathy. In mature democracies, there are the highest levels of reported voter apathy. In the 2014 US congressional elections, only 20% of the US voting youth (18-24 YO) participated. Most those that did not participate expressed that if you are young and nobody shares your views, the only other option is to protest or not vote at all.

• The proliferation of protest movements. Since the 2008 financial crises, the frequency of protest movements demanding political alternatives (e.g. Arab Spring, Occupy) has proliferated, mobilizing millions of people onto streets.

• Public systematic silenced. A Princeton University study concluded that the U.S. is not a functioning democracy anymore. Using data drawn from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, experts concluded that “…economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy”, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence”, and the “rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.”

• High levels of employee disengagement. A Recent Gallup study revealed that in the private sector we witness the highest levels employee disengagement; 70% of U.S. employees consider themselves disengaged at work (resembling similar trends globally) which is a source of lost productivity, which produces a high cost on the economy. McKinsey estimates the bottom-line impact of disengagement costs the US economy over half a trillion dollars a year.

As evidence mounts, we’re beginning to recognize that command-and-control centralized organizational models and by extension, representative democracy is less well suited for our times. We are outgrowing old operating assumptions and protocols for collective organization, governance and problem-solving.

Emerging technologies, trends and implications

Thanks to the pace of change ushered in by the internet, the conditions required for global cooperation could be achieved without reliance on intermediation nor facilitation through our existing institutions, but instead through new institutions that allow for greater and more direct citizen-participation. New institutions combined with digital tools can help create new decision-making protocols to help build bottom-up alternative competing policies and solutions, allowing new ideas to be deliberated widely over internet platforms, for consensus to be built around the most powerful solutions. In the short run, the best ideas that surface from these new institutions can act as normative alternatives to the existing solution set we have, and we can invest in lobbying for them to be seriously considered and institutionalized. In the longer term, these new institutions will replace our current governance systems wholeheartedly because they are cheaper to operate, more participatory, create better quality solutions for ensuring collective prosperity. The internet today has become the primary mechanism for mobilizing power and the masses, the primary means by which to wage asymmetric conflict, and an important shaper of belief systems. It is also the primary means by which global economic activity will be conducted. On the internet, communities are no longer principally defined by geography or proximity; broad territorial distinctions are less and less important to both social and economic life. The diffusion of technology is breaking down hierarchies and creating new power structures daily. The rise of cryptocurrencies using decentralized computation server spaces as immutable ledgers compete against central banks creating new definitions of value are good examples of this. The rise of sharing economy ventures competing against traditional incumbents with antiquated business models supported by antiquated regulations also support signal more changes to come. Technology is amplifying our collective capacity to include new voices, create informed opinion, analyze, build consensus and decide, all with rapidly reduced reaction times. Half the cellular devices being sold now are smartphones, which make up about 80 percent of all internet usage. The phones, in turn, are helping people change the way they spend and manage money; identify, make, and maintain friendships; participate as citizens; become educated; stay healthy; keep up to date with news; and be entertained, incite revolutions, and seek new disruptive innovation. As internet penetration rates proliferate, bottom-up, citizen-led organizations become empowered because the means of distributing views are so inexpensive. Simultaneously, we’re moving into an era of ubiquitous sensing where the combination of sensors and data-gathering mechanisms, unlimited memory, and massive processing capabilities, is growing the planet’s pool of data exponentially yearly. Experts estimate that over the next 10 years’ there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on Earth, producing data. in 2016 we collectively produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind up until 2015. By 2027, thanks to the proliferation of sensing devices, the amount of data we produce collectively will double every 12 hours. Digital is becoming the basis for most of our interactions and the more we interact with digital tools, the more we expect them to shape our experiences as consumers, employees, and citizens. As data grows, demands for accessing that data will grow as well, and eventually, people will demand policies be created using indisputable data sources.

These developments combined are creating the conditions for

a) deeper interconnection – where networks form and link all their members allowing for rapid resource sharing;

b) Disintermediation – where middlemen are progressively undercut and disappearing; and,

c) Decentralization – where networks redistribute power to disparate parts of society and concentration of power becomes more and more difficult.

As a consequence, unlike previous era’s, this new era is one where the power of the individual and the group grows daily and institutions are less powerful. Virtually every sector impacted by the information revolutions has seen one powerful, transformational trend shift expectations, and thus its likely that changes to government and organizational governance models will be profound as well. We are inheriting this new reality faster than expected but we live at time where two competing velocities are clashing against one another. In our physical and social worlds, we’re experiencing uneven and disruptive economic growth, fear of change, and anxiety about immigration and integration. In our digital and technological world, networks and connections are getting faster, cheaper, and smarter. The two competing forces – technology which is increasing exponentially and governance models designed to handle linear growth – are pulling institutions apart, holding the world back. On this rapidly shifting ground, leaders are acting before thinking and creating laws or regulations views that have profound impacts on the nature of our societies without leveraging technologies or inviting broad, far-reaching public debate. They are able to continue doing so because we manage the world using antiquated institutions that are riddled with structural limitations. Our governance models are outdated and extremely slow, not taking advantage of modern tools for more agile, diverse, and inclusive decisionmaking. Every aspect of democracy has been changed by the advent of the internet and new technology, except perhaps how citizens directly influence the operations of our governments through the selection of our representatives. Voters could have much more power much more often. Centralized command-and-control organizational governance models and mass participation through intermediation had advantages when the model was first conceived, but in an age of instant digital communication, it appears more a roadblock to progress than an enabler of the expression of broad public will. In today’s political environment, in any instance where intermediation is the model, the representatives and intermediaries are extremely difficult to access, engage and influence. Their focus appears more to be on empire and career building than on civic duty. There are also quite limited routes to exercising accountability over their actions. The effort required to keep them accountable is often not worth the effort expended. People, therefore, resign themselves to the status quo, become disengaged and distrustful of entire institutions. For example, we see the rise of unchecked political dishonesty as a new operating norm. Misleading voters to advance one’s political agenda has always been around but in the past, we had relevant tools for maintaining some degree of accountability. Today it appears those tools don’t work, and dishonesty is met with no consequences and no counterbalance. We see new heights of populism and opportunism. For example, in the Brexit campaigns and following the referendum, into the first hour of the referendum decision, the ‘Leave’ campaign already backtracked on one of their major campaign pledges: To contribute the money the UK saves leaving the EU to their national healthcare system, the NHS. In the US presidential elections, Trump made many promises including to build the wall with Mexican money, have a plan for getting rid of ISIS in his first 30 days in office, to repeal Obamacare, to even put Hillary Clinton in jail and drain the swamp, none of which have been executed. In today’s consumer and technology-driven world, people are increasingly catered to and provided customized solutions. The more they experience this, the less tolerance they have for being bystanders, accepting latency in reaction times by institutions, or being told what to do from the top. The convergence and access to different exponential technologies are reshaping human behavior, opening new areas to human understanding, enabling new forms of creative expression, empowering new means of economic activity, and inspiring new thinking about the way lives and governments and businesses should be organized. These consequently, are putting significant pressures on our 19th and 20th-century institutions to radically reform or be replaced. These combined make for a new foundation for developing a different operating context through which we navigate problems, identify solutions, build consensus and institutionalize proposals to global challenges we all face.

Creating new realms of sovereignty

Society is changing. In this new era, the rules are unwritten, the terminology ill-defined, and few doctrines exist to help us navigate future challenges. Historically, when new unexpected and unwelcome realities surfaced, the international community mobilized to recognize systemic changes and built new norms and institutions to counter-balance the growth of negative systemic externalities. For example, when the nature of violent conflict changed from primarily interstate to intrastate and when the world witnessed episodes of genocide and crimes against humanity (e.g. conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, Rwanda, Darfur), the UN Security Council led the establishment of two separate temporary ad hoc tribunals to hold individuals accountable for atrocities, and later created a permanent international criminal court. We also created new international norms, such as the Right to Protect (R2P) principle. In the same vein, to help us deal productively with systemic limitations of our institutions, that threaten our species’ survival and prosperity, we must recognize that the ground has shifted beneath our feet and our operating assumptions are no longer valid. We can’t rely on the wisdom of the past or the institutions that were created then to help solve tomorrow’s problems. We need the courage to evolve out of old operating assumptions about how the world should be organized and managed, and whose priorities are the most important. We must create new realms of sovereignty and new digital tools, institutions and decision-making norms and protocols aimed at highlighting bottom-up voices in cities, nations, and on the international level to help provide strong, rational and logical counterbalance of solutions that compete with those produced by our existing institutions, helping influence and change our collective understanding of what our goals should be and how best to prioritize humanity-preservation over national interests. New institutions and realms of sovereignty cannot replicate the same systemic dysfunctions and limitations of past models. For example, they can’t and should not be designed around the notion of selecting intermediaries to represent our collective best interests. They should be adapted for emerging and expected cultural norms and technological possibilities, not be constrained by yesterday’s cultural legacies. Reform of the existing system and its institutions should also not be the focus of these interventions, though that may naturally occur as a consequence of their success and adoption.

The Path Forward – Foundations of New Governance Model

Enshrining the Legitimacy of Cities

In addition to creating new institutions, the importance of cities, which are currently under-represented in governance models and structures, will need to be amplified as they will be the epicenter of future governance power and clout. Cities currently generate 80% of global GDP, and this proportion is expected to increase even more. Already more than 50% of the global population lives in cities, and experts predict the number will increase to 60% by 2020, and 75% by 2030. Fast expanding cities and shanty towns in the developing world is where virtually all future population growth will take place. Rapid urbanization and expanding city limits will lead organically to the continued emergence of “megacities”. Due to massive population growth and density and growing economic power, cities will eventually eclipse nations in terms of economic and political importance and can provide leapfrogging opportunities for society to grow out of the limited existing governance structures we have. Cities don’t have the same narrow interests and are not insulated from the decisions-taken as elites representing nation states often do. They have to live with the consequences of poor decisions and therefore often choose differently. Nation states are independent, competitive, and separated by territorial boundaries while cities are interdependent, cooperative and increasingly forge positive win-win partnerships. The city may be the most crucial form of political organization of the future in the coming decades. Cities currently face limits to their ability to address universal problems such as climate change or to pursue other national or global goals. This can change, however: new institutions can help popularize, formalize and institutionalize creative ideas and solutions to difficult societal problems and global challenges originating from mayors or their constituents. What succeeds in one megacity can quickly become a global standard. Given their scale, this kind of domino effect can affect massive numbers of people.

Building and Legitimizing New Institutions

In the coming decade, efforts to increase internet access and broadband speeds are going to bring 3 billion new minds online. They will eventually expect to be involved in governance decisions. According to Historian Francis Fukuyama, in most countries, once a middle class begins to form and begin earning approximately $6,000 USD per capita per year, they begin to demand political participation. According to Sun Microsystems co-founder, Bill Joy, “no matter who you are, the smartest people in the world don’t work for you. Even if you get the best and the brightest to work for you, there will always be an infinite number of other, smarter people employed by others. It’s better to create an ecology that gets all the world’s smartest people toiling in your garden for your goals.” This is especially true about policy making and governance for our era. The pertinent and niche types of knowledge required to help build nuanced and creative solutions to 21st-century problems reside outside the boundaries of any one organization, government or institution. The central challenge and opportunity for our future governance system will be to design institutions in a manner that they incentivize, harness and access pertinent and diverse knowledge regularly, leveraging the wisdom of crowds for policy making and other core functions. Consequently, the plan to update global governance systems starts with building new digital tools and accompanying institutions at the city, national and international level that allow citizens to directly ideate, build strong proposals with support of AI, debate and build consensus with insights mined from millions of conversations by AI, and vote the best proposals into existence. Alongside this, we will create new legal jurisdictions (special economic and political zones) where these tools and institutions can pilot and institutionalize the results of the new decision-making protocols. After a period of considerable testing and technological and methodological iterations, we will begin building a movement to spread these tools and institutions to complement or replace existing governance institutions and decision-making protocols and processes. The overarching goal is to create alternative forms of sovereignty, across the local, national and international spheres, to challenge or complement the authority and sovereignty of nation states to make decisions about our collective well-being.

Tools and Institutions for Future Governance Model

New digital tools include:

Blockchain verified global identity card

• Immutable, verifiable identity, operating on a public blockchain.

• Similar technology as Estonia’s e-Residency or Democracy.Earth

• Facilitates incorruptible liquid democracy protocol, sentiment capture, participation in e-parliaments, and other key functions of new institutions.

• Verifies identity providing fidelity and integrity to other necessary institutions (voting, etc.).

• Is a necessary building block for a decentralized, direct, deliberative global democratic platform for managing global challenges and negative externalities concerning the global commons

• Can help administer broad participation of citizens in policy formation or referenda at 1/1000 the current costs.

Citizen sentiment tracker

• A polling service at the local, national and international levels leveraging anonymized blockchain ID, helping shed light in real-time about how people feel about certain issues and how they believe those should be dealt with.

• Captures sentiment in a neutral way. • Results put on the blockchain, are immutable and verifiable.

• Can be immediately used to scour the world about people’s opinions regarding existing global challenges and how different solutions for those challenges rank.
• Can reveal the delta between solutions proposed by leaders and the public’s support of those solutions on each issue.

AI-augmented proposal and policy development tool

• A concept similar in application, technology, and methodology to swae.io

• Tool combined anonymisation with ai-augmentation and crowd intelligence to help identify, create and build consensus around new bottom-up solutions for complex, multi-stakeholder challenges.

• Tool anonymizes users but links them back to their blockchain based ID, helping verify their identity but limiting any negative implications associated with proposing creative ideas publicly, provides access to AI augmenting tools (fact-finding, language improvement, structural suggestions) to help improve quality of proposals, and crowdsources the deliberation of proposals to leverage the wisdom of crowds.

• Will dramatically increase participation, increasing quality of ideas inputted for consideration.

• Used to develop proposals for how certain complex problems we face should be solved.

• E.g. How should the EU remain intact? How do we build a carbon tracking system that does not penalize economic growth? How do we build more mutuality in trade agreements? How Proposals for reconciling global inequality? How to build resilience against the coming technological unemployment wave?

AI-based budget simulator & Trade-off analysis tool

• In situations where complex agreements are difficult to reach, or competing good quality ideas exist for a limited set of resources, AI-based budget simulators, and tradeoff analysis tools, leveraging real-time data, help shed light on the potential implications of supporting one proposal versus another.

• Can help groups discover hidden areas of synergy and agreement.

AI-supported mass policy deliberation tool

• A concept similar in application, technology, and methodology to pol.is

• Allows for nuanced policy deliberation and the sourcing of nods of solutions at scale.

• AI and machine learning, by conducting deep data mining and computation, discover patterns of synergy and agreement amongst disparate and opposed constituent groups, catalyzing the creation of building blocks for creative, multi-stakeholder problem-solving Integrated into all new forms of policy creation, and deliberation.

Implementation & Impact Tracker

• Transparent real-time workflow sharing where the successful proposals sit relative to being implemented.

• Codifies what agreements were made, and what people have actually done.

• Creates workflows assigns responsibilities and allows people to input updates to agreements that were approved.

• Crowd-created, using the same deliberation and input methodology as Wikipedia.

• Reveals the degree to which there is a “promise inflation” – the % of promises being inflated by existing representatives or those in charge of executing on approved proposals.

• Real-time dashboard for all to see the potential intended and unintended implications and impacts of various implemented solutions.

New Global Institutions Include:

Digital City, Country, and World

• For example, World; or, Canada, China, Norway; or Sao Paolo, Paris, Dubai

• A digital environment and testing ground for building solutions to existing local, national and international challenges and policiesInjected with real-time raw data about developments in cities, nations, the world.

• Allows for the creation and modeling of creative policy solutions in a safe environment.

• Allows users to test potential implications of one policy vs. another using ai, budgeting simulators, algorithms, and computation, faster than traditional approaches and without significant investment.

• Will be a fertile laboratory of ideas, to help influence future decision makers.

• Suggestions that have large backing and consensus on these platforms will compete against existing solutions crafted by today’s leaders for acceptance Initially a semi-formal institution for creating nuanced proposals from different citizens and constituent groups about how best to deal with existing global challenges.

• Gives people a power and constructive means for critiquing existing solutions and lends people a voice in local, national and interactional matters of concern.

• In the future, will be the basis by which new public policies are initially conceived and stress tested, before deep development and feasibility at local, national or international stages prior to implementation.

Ministry of Ideas – City, Country, and World

• An institution that collects the most popular ideas from digital environments (city, nation, world) or small-scale physical pilots for further deliberation.

• Could include popular experimental ideas for potential pilots/consideration.

• Ideas proposed can also concern matters of intergovernmental and regional concern (MENA, ASEAN, EU, etc.)

• A local, national and transnational institution, providing relevant solutions concerning how best to steward our commons, operating in an open-source protocol, and creative commons legal framework.

• All votes, policies created, are registered onto the blockchain and entered into the global library of solutions to catalyze future solutions, and inspire others to build on top of these ideas.

• Scores for each policy solution derived through citizens and deliberated in the same manner as Wikipedia.

• Will counterbalance existing policy proposals tabled by ‘leaders’ and ‘experts’ for dealing with the challenges we face globally or regionally.

• Can help bridge the delta between what people want and what leaders think people want.

Global Library of Societies Solutions – City, Country, World

• An unbiased repository of all past policies explored by cities, nations and global coalitions to deal with different systemic challenges.

• Shares the success or failure of experiments and policies.

• Includes data sets and any impact reports conducted post-hoc on specific policies.

• Can become a building block to the creation of new creative solutions to today’s problems and a source of wisdom to help us make better resourcing allocation decisions, avoiding unnecessary duplication.

Parliament for Citizens – City, Country, World

• An institution where the most popular proposals from the various ministries of ideas are discussed and deliberated extensively.

• Allows for distributed sourcing of expertise and creative ideas concerning different issues we face locally, nationally or internationally to provide feedback and ideas.

• Would be open constituents from a mix of territorial and Internet-based jurisdictions

• Would help legitimize the internet as a sovereign jurisdiction including the opinions of transnational citizens.

• An institution that would allow for the functioning of a direct, deliberative liquid democracy protocol

• Provides citizens from around the world direct access to building solutions that are practical and reflect their will (assuming citizens have a hard time competing against their representatives).

• Can help influence the trajectory, content, and approach of different local, national and international public policy solutions that are consequential and material to the proper stewardship and management of the global commons.

• Helps current leaders see the delta between their interpretation of the public will, and the public’s direct articulation of that will; Helps eliminate reasons for pursuing national interest at all cost, if we can show the public has a different national interest in mind.

• Would be the basis for future consensus formation and policy-making in the longterm.

Global Parliament of Mayors

• A new institution, with important caveats; the majority of legislation and policies developed and proposed by this institution are solutions co-created by different mayors only with the majority approval of their constituents (evidenced through citizen sentiment capture tool).

• Does not recreate the structural limitations of current governance system by relying solely on representation and intermediation.

• Allows for the public to play a decisive role in determining disadvantages of old systems (intermediated representation in a time of instant communication and distributed expertise)

• Provides institutional authority to mayors to decide over their territory. Gives them the opportunity to compete to build better solutions to global challenges, ones that nation states are unwilling or unable to create.

Crowd-Justice – distributed-expertize dispute resolution Institution

• An open-source judicial system and platform reimagined around the internet era.

• Allows for dispute resolution at scale, using algorithms to source the right experts for the right problem around the world.

• Jurors and researchers from the crowd are rewarded a fee for their services.

• Is an opt-in dispute resolution platform, where final decisions are legally binding (unlike current ICJ).

• Exponentially more cost-effective and incorruptible/immutable than centralized legal systems.

• Integrated into all new institutions of policy creation, deliberation, and accountability mechanisms.


Core Values

The assumptions this new model rests on believe that constituencies consisting of diverse global citizens

• Are less immune to the negative impacts created ineffective solutions to global challenges than existing leaders;

• Are more prepared to make concessions that are equitably distributed and proportional in order to realize find solutions to tomorrow’s problems;

• Have vested interests in ensuring the future of humanity and generations survive and are better able to express those intensions and cooperate with others who share their values to build humanity preservation solutions than existing leaders, because they can go outside of imposed territorial, political and economic limitations of our current governance and global organizational structures.

The model allows for these assumptions to be validated by creating a competitive governance layer between existing structures and potential future structures, moving us away from only participating by voting on binary decisions made by intermediaries that prioritize narrow sets of interests. This allows citizens to build coalitions with those that have interests and value sets that are similar to theirs, transcending territorial and national economic and political interests.

Decision-Making Capacity

The future organizational governance model proposed incorporates the core and essential decision-making steps necessary for a well functioning governance system. These include:

• Immutable sentiment capture

• Bottom-up ideation and deliberation

• Consensus capture and formation

• Institutionalization

• Accountability and Impact measurement

• Dispute resolution

The new governance system creates the conditions for efficient, transparent and effective decentralization to flourish across boundaries alongside protocols for rational consensus formation, at 1000x a faster pace and 1000x less costs than our current centralized decisionmaking models. The new system allows for a far greater number of participants and inputs, deeper and more consequential engagement, the creation of more creative solutions, and more compelling and effective options to select from than our linear and centralized governance models produce today. The new system does not have the same degree of latency designed into it as the current system. In the short term the institutions proposed will act as a normative counter balance to our current institutions and leaders postures towards international cooperation. As participation increases and new use cases are discovered, in the long-term, these institutions will gain a greater degree of popularity and will compete to become the basis for multistakeholder complex problem solving and policy formation for society. This new system is much more efficient, and cultural appropriate to our future digital world.


The ultimate goal of this system is to prove decentralization, distributed authority and wisdom of the crowds can be methodologically designed to create more coherent, better quality, creative and more suitable solutions to our current and future problems. High levels of participation in policy design, consensus formation, and later high success rates for policy adoption, and limited instances of policy failure will be the proxies for measuring how much more capable this system is to create lasting complex, multi-stakeholder solutions than the existing governance system. A key assumption the new governance model rests comes from results captured from successful citizen assembly experiments that aimed to make consequential electoral reform decisions in Canada and the Netherlands. To date, these have been the most intensive participatory and deliberative process yet implemented and included diverse members with opposing viewpoints. In them, examiners found that even when constituents from ideologically opposed camps strongly disagreed on the content or ideological foundations of a particular reform proposal, and even when their side lost the reform vote, they fully respected the other sides right to seek the changes they expressed and committed to adopting those policies – which they fundamentally disagreed with – almost entirely because they believed in the immutability and integrity of the process for arriving at the solution it ultimately did. In other words, a fully transparent and participatory process that to them appeared to be impartial, incorruptible, and immutable, allowing all sides’ views to be considered equally, was the necessary condition for accepting to adopt any solution that the process created, even when the solution did not conform to one side’s ideological viewpoints. The examiners also conducted tests on participants of this group and tested a control group that did not undergo the same experience and same degree of participation in expressing their preferences for electoral reform. They found that participants in the citizen assembly expressed the sentiment that their trust of all other participants, irrespective of political orientation, grew significantly more than the views expressed by non-participants of others in their closed experiment. Finally, examiners used political engagement proxies to measure the degree of engagement expressed amongst participants and non-participants of citizen assemblies, to highlight any significant differences. Examiners predetermined four political engagement proxies: 1) attitudes, 2) interest, 3) attention, and 4) information, and found that on all of these proxies, there was a significant increase among citizen assembly participants whereas these changes in these proxies with the control group were absent. Examiners also noticed a significant delta and differences between the two groups. These results help inform the design of the new governance system, lead us to believe that the solutions created will enjoy greater adoption and less policy failure because the process and institutions we are proposing to create help constituents to arrive at solutions in a much more participatory, fair, transparent, agile, collaborative, and equitable manner than today’s current model. In the future, the new forms of ideation, deliberation, consensus formation, and voting will have more integrity, trust, and stickiness making them more appealing than current models, helping increase their likelihood of adoption as a possible means for decisionmaking in the future.

Resources and Financing

Financing options can include one or a combination of the following options:

• Proof of concept – Donations and grants from key foundations, institutions, and HNWI can act as seed and pilot funding until important proof points can be verified

• Self-financing – citizen who value and use the system, voluntarily pay into its maintenance fees. In some progressive countries, citizens receive a tax rebate for their contributions

• ICO – the institutions that are exchanging value can create a token pegged to a popular cryptocurrency in order to create the necessary liquidity to fund the system and fund the implementation of various solutions developed by it.

• Eventually, taxes diverted to funding this system as people recognize using this system over other systems is a fundamental requirement for the creation of policies or the management of local, national policy in a decentralized manner.

In the short-term, these new institutions will provide a platform for bottom-up, citizenled input into the creation of solutions to city-specific, national and international challenges. They will effectively debate and counterbalance what these institutions should be doing, helping bring to the forefront the will of the people. They can be financed through grants and other contributions and their solutions piloted in special economic and political zones set up specifically for experimentation purposes. In the long term, as participation increases in these institutions, they will organically build popularity and authority, competing against other realms of institutional sovereignty. Future financing options can include tax contributions from cities and nations, tax rebates for solutions developed through these platforms, the creation of a unique cryptocurrency and liquidity created through and Initial Coin Offering (ICO). In the future, through creative financing mechanisms, these institutions will build the legitimacy to compete against existing institutions for the creation of solutions to local, national and international challenges requiring multi-stakeholder concessions, agreement, and sacrifice.

Trust and Insight

The design of this governance system taps into emerging trends from the rise of the cryptocurrency and decentralization movements. All opinions expressed, decisions, votes, ratifications, identities, financial flows, impact measurement data, examples of success or failure in this new system will all be documented on a decentralized blockchain and accessible to anyone using the blockchain.

This degree of transparency designed into this new governance system goes over and above anything we have experienced at an organizational level before, helping create strong appeal and adoption for the new protocol.


The system will be developed in phases, across different physical and online environments and jurisdictions and with different volumes of scale to see if necessary assumptions and proof points can be achieved. Only after a period of considerable testing and technological and methodological iterations, will there be plans to build a social and cultural movement to spread these tools and institutions to complement or replace existing governance institutions and decision-making protocols and processes. There will be ample opportunities to change aspects of these institutions if real-world results demonstrate a misalignment between what they are producing versus what we had intended them to produce.

Protection against the Abuse of Power

The assumptions used to design this system are grounded in concepts of dynamic liquid democracy and as well as the wisdom of the crowds, and crowd intelligence, emphasizing the more diversity of participation and viewpoints expressed, the better the quality of end solutions created. A liquid democracy design will allow for the rapid and dynamic distribution of power from one issue to another, helping create tighter feedback loops between empowering an intermediary and keeping them accountable to the decisions they claim to make on others’ behalf. A liquid democracy inspired design also prevents concentration of power for a prolonged period of time. It is a system that is designed to reward merit and knowledge, not postures and positions, which is a fundamental break from our current representative democracy based governance institutions (which conversely work well at concentrating power, delaying feedback loops and creating opportunities for abuse of power). We see collective intelligence as an antidote to concentrated power in the hands of like-minded people; an antidote to current existing systemic inconsistencies that create numerous abuse of power opportunities.


However, we recognize crowds can be irrational and target minorities on grounds of race, ethnicity, ideology and other diverse factors. Participation in these new institutions will be governed by a rights-based philosophy. Any proposals aimed at marginalizing or negatively impacting certain groups, races, ethnicities on grounds of bias, will not be allowed to be expressed on the website, and we’ll use AI to select keywords and derogatory content to help us intelligently and efficient moderate the platforms. Uncomfortable issues can be discussed respectfully but no proposals marginalizing groups will be entertained; proposals must conform to rights-based doctrines respecting every individual’s inalienable human rights. Furthermore, to protect against potential hacking, the foundations of this new governance system are built off of decentralized blockchain technology based ID, which will exponentially limit the likelihood of hacking opportunities by those that hope to replace real individuals with fake bots to create the impression of mass participation in order to illegitimately increase the popularity of certain proposals and sway the crowd in one direction or another. Finally, the piloting phase will be instrumental in understanding where there are inconsistencies in design – where the tools and fundamental values were not fully well designed.

A freely downloadable book

A new 418-page book entitled “A World Federation” may be downloaded and circulated gratis from the following link:


John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. He is noted for his books and research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin, evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its background situated in the fields of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Since 1990 he has been the Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. During his tenure The Pugwash Movement won a nobel peace prize.  Between 2004 and 2015 he also served as Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy. He founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and was for many years its Managing Editor. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988-1997).

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