One of the members of the Bergen Society has created an exciting and innovative project based on the idea that worldwide elections through the internet can now represent the voice of people without the limitations of nation-state interests. The Raynault Foundation has joined with Cal-Poly (California Polytechnic State university in San Luis Obispo) to develop all the practical requirements for an ultimate World Assembly, beginning with a Student World Assembly as a pilot project.
On September 22, 2003, about 220 students were able to use the internet to submit issues that they believed to be of global significance. Of the issues presented, global sustainable development had the most mentions, followed by terrorism. Students of 22 universities around the world, including Afghanistan, China, Nigeria, Ghana and Costa Rica were involved. With the sponsorship and support of Cal-Poly, there will be elections to send representatives to a convention in July, in California, in 2004.
The principle underlying this ambitious and truly democratic project is that the internet has made it possible to hold elections for a non-governmental World Assembly. Even in the most remote areas, people can choose a local representative who has access to a telephone, cell phone, or two-way radio, who can then be represented through the internet.
Such a World Assembly would immediately have tremendous social and moral authority without requiring governments to give up power, or even to formally acknowledge its existence. On issues where representatives from the whole world reach a consensus, such as ending slavery or biological war-making capabilities, governments will face stronger pressure to cooperate. On issues where there is true diversity, even the strongest governments will be more cautious in taking action.
Paul Raynault, the creator of this project, points out that this is a big task. Paul says, “We need help in reaching out to other universities. We need volunteers to write, to mail, and to provide logistic and accounting support. We also need money. Please contact [email protected] .”
— Phyllis and Sylvain Ehrenfeld