The vision of a unified world, freed from the anarchy of tribalistic strife among organised fragments of the human race and possessed of a government able to disperse justice and maintain order among all men, had long captured the prophetic imagination of a philosophers and poets. Yes, the UN can be a world government although it is my opinion that it would be very improbable it would happen at least in the near future for a variety of reasons. They include the fact that many if not most of the states making up the UN would not be willing to hand over their sovereignty to a world body, according to realists.
It is a well-known fact that the overwhelming majority of states would put what they regard as the welfare of their own nation above everything else, the interests of a world state included . Also, the sheer complexity of uniting over 200 countries would prove to be an enormous task. For example, it would prove difficult dividing the power between all the states in the world. There is the question of whether to divide the power between GDP or populations as was done in the European Union.
On the other hand, idealists believe there are many positive aspects to uniting the world politically. Global issues such as war, poverty, human rights and the environment can be dealt with more efficiency. With a united world, the poorest parts of the world can be helped by richer member states. All these points will be discussed in further detail throughout this essay. The idealist in us looks for a major shift in state behaviour away from sovereign selfishness and toward cooperation in an international system structured to prevent aggression and promote economic growth .
In order for the public to accept the legitimacy of the UN as a world government, people would have to renounce nationalistic arrogance and ideological intolerance, in order to help them to fit into the world picture instead of just a national picture. We would need to create a sense of people belonging to a much wider picture and optimistically; states would realize that it is to their national interest to join a world government. After states join this world government body, comes the hard part, making it work. Universal values are essential for this world government to work.
It is a fact that states that join up to the UN must uphold some basic universal values such as human rights and non-aggression. However, universal values are just the start. In order for world government to work we need to agree on more issues. The UN has been the instrument for converting common interests into common policies . If the UN were to grow into a common world government, it ultimately would need to create international laws that would have the legitimacy of all the people of the world. At first, these laws would be simple, something most states would agree on, the problem comes when these laws become more controversial.
We can look at the European Union for some guidance and inspiration. After all, it is the most advanced form of regional political structure in the world. It is my strong belief that a world government would have to work fundamentally like the European Union, of course, at a much bigger and complicated level. Like Brussels is the capital of the EU, a world capital would be assigned, chances are it would be New York (because it currently is the main headquarters of the UN). The capital of the world government would hold central power and accordingly distribute power to the member states as a type of federation.
How much power the central authority would keep and how much it would distribute to member states is difficult to say but one thing is for sure, the state as we know it will have significantly less sovereignty. Why a federal system not a unitary system of world government, one may ask. The reason why is because a federal system will maintain a certain degree of diversity within a pattern of unity. This diversity would be enough so states do not lose the ability to control local affairs as well as maintaining local culture and traditions.
The make-up of the bureaucracy of this world government is as follows. The General Assembly would probably be upgraded into a world parliament, with the elected president or Prime Minister of each state representing that state in the parliament. Like the European Commission, there would likely be a World Commission, serving as the executive branch of the World Government. The Security Council would almost certainly, in my opinion, remain although the make-up of the council would certainly change (the big five might lose their veto power).
Almost certainly there would be a World Court of Justice, with its laws processing supreme sovereignty over state or regional courts just like European law is sovereign to state law in EU states. Once this world government is implemented, in theory, wars would eventually die out. According to Emery Reves, author of the book The Anatomy of Peace, wars between groups of men forming social unites always take place when these units-tribes, dynasties, churches, cities, and nations-exercise unrestricted sovereignty. Wars between these social units cease the moment sovereign power is transferred from them to a larger unit like a world government .
In another words, as soon as a state loses the means of waging war, war can be controlled and even eliminated by a larger state body. One example to support this theory is the fact that since the European Community and later the European Union were formed in 1957, no EU state has waged war on another EU state. If a world government were defined as a set of effective means for preventing disorder, then this is clearly what the world requires . On the other hand, realists believe a world government is merely a dream, at least in the near future.
They disagree with Reves in that government has never served as a magic wand to banish problems of disorder in any human society . It is sheer nonsense to assert that law has always succeeded in producing peace. As Quincy Wright points out, deaths resultant from military action were more numerous within the governed United States than the in the anarchical continent of Europe during the century preceding World War I . There is also the question of sovereignty. The capacity of the UN to develop into a form of world government is severely limited by the fact that it is essentially a creature of its members.
It can do no more than its member states, particularly the permanent members of the Security Council . As stated before, most states would be unwilling to hand over their sovereignty (whatever is left) to a larger supranational body such a world government. The realist in us, recognizes that the characteristics of state, their inherent self-seeking and self-judging behaviour are woven pretty deeply into their fabric . After all, many states, just in the past 100 years, fought (many are still fighting) for their independence and they are not just going to give it away easily.
Just in Africa, independence was achieved for most states in the 1950s and 60s. The people in these states finally get their sovereignty and it is unlikely they will get it away in the near future. There is also the question of how to divide the power in the world government. If the world parliament is divided according to GDP, the US and Western countries (including Japan) would inevitably benefit tremendously. However, if power were to be divided according to population (as it is in the EU), China and India (two developing countries) would have an enormous amount of power and the richer countries would inevitably not benefit.
All in all, in theory, the UN can be a world government. Although, as I have outlined throughout this essay, it is my strong belief that most states would not want to sacrifice their sovereignty (at least whatever is left of it) in order to unite into a single global government. There is also a noteworthy absence of a common underlying culture to support a global international society which cuts across al the major cultures and civilizations . Although the idea of a world government may not work just yet, it should be not be discarded as useless theory.
If it were to work in the future it would bring many positive changes to mankind. It would be, for instance, a democratic regime, dealing fairly and impartially with all states, respecting its constitutional limitations and sticking closely to its business of keeping the world safe from war . Who knows, maybe one-day states will psychologically put their differences aside to form a world government. Dreams do eventually come true but like everything in life, one requires patience.