World Federalist Movement

WFM

world law

The World Federalist Movement (WFM) is a global citizens movement with member and associate organizations around the world. The WFM International Secretariat is based in New York City across from the United Nations headquarters.

Founded in 1947 in Montreux, Switzerland, the Movement brings together organizations and individuals which support the establishment of a global federal system of strengthened and democratized global institutions with plenary constitutional power accountable to the citizens of the world and a division of international authority among separate global agencies.

The Movement has had Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC since 1970 and is affiliated with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and a current board member of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO). It currently counts 30,000 to 50,000 supporters. In the aftermath of World Wars I & II, activists around the world were forming organizations bent on creating a new world order that could prevent another global war.

The Campaign for World Government, the first world federalist organization was launched in 1937. In 1938, Federal Union was organized in the United Kingdom. During WWII, anti-fascist resistance movements shared clandestinely circulated copies of Altiero Spinelli’s (one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the modern European Union) plan for European federation. In 1945, the Committee to Frame a World Constitution convened at the University of Chicago and drafted a Constitution for the World.

In 1947, five small world federalist organizations came together in Asheville, North Carolina and agreed to merge as the United World Federalists. These five groups had in the previous year met with representatives of fifteen others in Montreux to discuss creating a worldwide federalist organization. It was one year later, in August 1947, also in Montreux, that more than 51 organizations from 24 countries came together at the Conference of the World Movement for World Federal Government. The Conference concluded with the Montreux Declaration.

By its second congress in 1948 in Luxembourg, the Movement consisted of 150,000 members of 19 nationalities and 50 member and affiliated organizations. The 350 participants in the Congress laid the groundwork for an association of parliamentarians for world government, which came into being in 1951.

Federalists had hoped that the anticipated UN review conference (under Article 109 of the UN Charter) in 1955 would move the UN further in the direction of a world federal system. Unfortunately, the lack of political will dissipated any interest in such a conference. Around 1965 however, the Movement had established offices near the United Nations, with American federalist Marion McVitty as the Movement’s UN observer and advocate.

Federalists in this period focused on amendments to the United Nations Charter as a way forward. Most involved reforms to institutions such as a more representative Security Council, a World Court with compulsory jurisdiction and judicial review authority and a democratically elected General Assembly (or a world parliament). Federalists proposed a number of new institutions such as a commission on sustainable development, an international development authority, a standing peacekeeping corps and an international criminal court.

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