The Charter of the 21st Century: first step to a global citizens assembly?

The General Assembly is one example of an enactment of cross-border collective decision-making that current governments should be inspired by.

Last November, on the invitation of Milo Rau / International Institute of Political Murder (IIPM), 60 delegates from across the world came together at a General Assembly in Berlin to challenge the newly elected German parliament. In this space all the humans, animals and plants that are affected by German policy but do not have a voice, were able to express themselves. The General Assembly aimed to critically engage public attitude towards current political institutions by performing an act of global participation with collaborative decision-making. As a result, a draft ‘Charter of the 21st Century’ was written, giving ground to the debate on the possibility of a World Parliament.

For over 10 years European Alternatives has been working for the emergence of transnational forms of citizen participation, decision-making and politics. The General Assembly is one of those examples of an enactment of cross-border collective decision-making that current governments should be inspired by. The delegates of the Assembly represent a plurality of voices from around the world, which cannot be heard in national and transnational parliaments: refugees, migrant workers, mine workers in the Congo, textile workers in Bangladesh, victims of German colonialism but also the world’s oceans and animal species.

At the Assembly, European Alternatives represented citizens and non-citizens who currently cannot move freely beyond borders and participate in any level of the decision-making processes in the place they reside. The right to freedom of movement, as an unconditional human right, and the right to political participation of mobile citizens at all level of policy making, is key for the development of transnational democracy. Equally key is the responsibility of Europe to ensure the defense of freedom of movement and of those who advocate for it. This contribution, which we forwarded at the Assembly, was included in the draft below.

Now, the performance is over, and the General Assembly has left some open questions: “How can the utopian draft become an actual World Parliament, an institution which is essentially democratically legitimized – legitimized by everyone living on this planet?” To this question, in Europe, we answer that citizens need to politically enfranchise themselves as citizens against repeated attempts to relegate them to mere subjects of undemocratic, intergovernmental governance.

Could the next General Assembly be the next Global Constituent Assembly? This is the hope. 

(Martin Pairet, Network manager European Alternatives, 5 Feb 2018)

Draft of a Charter for the 21st Century, as elaborated and agreed by the political observers and the delegates of the “General Assembly”, January 25, 2018 (original text)


More than 200 years after the first Declaration of Human Rights by the French National Assembly, an instrumental relationship to these rights and their willful contempt are essential reasons for the public calamities of this world and the corruption of their governments. For this reason, the “General Assembly” of the Global Third Estate expressly states in the preamble to its Charter of the 21st Century:

– all our civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights are preceded by the right to have rights,

– the right to have rights is inscribed in every human right, it obliges us all to their applicability and empowers us to appropriate it,

– the right to have rights finds its first probation, in the face of public calamities and the corruption of governments, in a human right to worldwide free movement and hospitality, which transcends all laws,

– the right to rights is, in particular, inscribed in the human right to resist against oppression. It is guaranteed in the human rights to form associations and coalitions with others and to be a member of one or more political communities open to the public and democracy, which empower us to the self-assured protection as to the self-assured confirmation, extension, differentiation and duplication of human rights,

– the right to rights therefore commits us to the permanent revolution of human rights, whose last great step was the explicit declaration of the equal ranking of the civic and political rights on the one hand and the economic, social and cultural human rights on the other hand,

– the right to rights also obliges us to review the human rights, which oppose the free use of the right to have rights or its appropriation, as it is done primarily by the human right to property, which must therefore be examined before all others,

– the permanent revolution of human rights, founded on the right to have rights, is itself bound by the interpretative rule laid down in Article 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which nothing in this declaration may be interpreted as implying any state, group or person any right to perform any act “aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

– the right to have rights obliges us here and now, in the 21st century, to confirm the equal ranking of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights through an agreement that empowers the members of the United Nations to guaranty the protection and the appropriation of human rights against the activities of the transnational corporations and other enterprises, and thus to subordinate the global production and supply chains, to which today the survival and life of one and each depends, to the validity of human rights,

– in the spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador as the most recent document of the human rights revolution, the right to rights includes the self-commitment to respect the cosmos, nature, all living things and sentient beings, namely animals, in their specific rights and to always advocate for those who cannot bring forth their claims themselves and protect them accordingly,

– the right to have rights in the 21stcentury therefore obliges us to recognize the practical validity of this right and of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights following it, in light of Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that “everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized”, a claim which must also take into account all the following human rights pacts and human rights conventions. In this order, freedom is proved in the democratic constitution of the societies, equality is proved in non-discrimination and solidarity is proved in a social infrastructure, which guarantees the survival and life of one and all.

In its joint resistance to the public misfortune and the corruption of governments, the “General Assembly” of the Global Third Estate decides on the following articles of its charter of the 21stcentury.

Draft of a Charter for the 21st Century

Art. 1. Military interventions and financial as well as logistic support of armies may only be resolved by an independent transnational democratic assembly of world citizens or their designated representatives. The selection of members and the procedures of this assembly shall counteract the prevalence of regional, national or particular supranational political and economic interests in the decision-making process.

App. The political interests of people who are directly affected by the decisions but are excluded from democratic structures on a regional or national level (e.g. displaced or oppressed populations) or who are not sufficiently represented in them shall be given special consideration in the decision-making processes. In doing so, all necessary measures must be taken to directly consult these people or to obtain information about their situation and their needs as accurately as possible.

Art. 2. The transnational democratic assembly must give a voice to those who are violently oppressed by national governments. By recognizing the opposition parties and the regions seeking independence as representatives and negotiating partners, local self-determination and sovereignty of the people beyond the nation states can be redefined.

App. Institutions must be created on a global level which investigate and prosecute human rights violations and the violent repression of parts of the population by national governments. Accordingly, individuals and government players who support criminal governments – through arms delivery, diplomatic recognition or by other means – must be sanctioned.

Art. 3 The competences of international justice must be expanded. Laws and institutions must be established on the basis of which economic and environmental crimes can be prosecuted in addition to war crimes. By means of a transnational democratic assembly or an assembly of world citizens which appoints judges, prosecutors and investigators and which oversees the activities of the institutions, the international judiciary can become more independent and impartial. International justice is subsidiary if national prosecution is not possible or unintended. The extradition of persons to other states must take place if a fair trial can be guaranteed.

Art. 4. Corruption, land grabbing and human rights violations by multinational corporations in collaboration with governments must be internationally investigated and prosecuted. If these crimes cannot be judged and accordingly sanctioned based on the existing local law (constitution) and human rights, appropriate laws must be established on an international level.

Art. 5. The constitutional rights of all players in manufacturing and supply chains must be ensured at all times. All players, from workers, producers, intermediaries, to consumers – and, above all, policymakers in multinational companies who dominate production and trade – can be held accountable for violation of rights within the supply chain, and, in particular, for gross human rights violations or ecocide. If non-human sentient beings are involved in the production and supply chains or other processes, the right to protection against torture must be guaranteed at all times.

Art. 6. In order to limit corporate power in the global economy, transnational democratic structures must be created which determine globally binding regulations and laws to extend or strengthen the laws and regulations on regional and national levels. Art. 4 and Art. 5 must be guaranteed. The regulations of world trade serve the global common good and, in particular, the common good of the population living in the regions in which raw materials are mined or consumer goods are manufactured for world trade. When trade regulations are introduced globally, the impact on the economy and trade in particularly vulnerable countries and regions must be carefully monitored in order to adopt further measures, if necessary.

Art. 7. Economic integration processes – from free trade agreements to monetary union – must not result in a loss of the political, social and cultural rights of the citizens and communities affected. The governments and international organizations which are part of the consolidation must be placed under the control of a transnational democratic body in which all regions are represented.

Art. 8. The right to freedom of movement is a human right, a right for all. The distinction between economic migrants and refugees shall no longer apply: we are all migrants. The right to freedom of movement implies the right to protection, the right to work and to livelihood wherever a person settles, as well as social rights. The right to vote is a prerequisite for the political participation of mobile citizens. In addition, political participation also includes the right to be heard at all levels of policy making and to participate in the decision-making process. Europe has a historic responsibility for refugees and migrants and accordingly, the right to protection for all must be guaranteed. No one actively advocating for the right to freedom of movement may be criminalized or arrested based on his or her demands.

Art. 9 Knowledge and information must be accessible to all world citizens. Institutions managing and processing knowledge and information must be under transnational democratic control at all times in order to prevent abuse of power due to non-transparency.

App. To protect personhood in the digital age, we must extend the constitutional definition of a person to include the technologies by which we augment and extend our selves. It, therefore, follows that knowledge and information about people must belong to the individuals themselves, knowledge and information about the world in general must belong to the commons, and that the systems managing and processing knowledge and information must be decentralised to prevent abuse of power due to centralised ownership and control.

Art. 10 National and elitist politics of memory must be replaced by a transnational democratic negotiation process, in which the significance of historical events and crimes, the respective memorials and the redress for past injustices must be consistently reassessed by the parties affected.

Art. 11 The destruction of the living environment and habitat of humans, animals and plants must be stopped by enforcing mandatory global regulations and laws, which are determined in democratically legitimate institutions in which the affected parties are represented. The natural or traditional inhabitants must always have priority over any other claim of ownership.

Art. 12 The worldwide production of food, consumer goods and energy has to be regulated by the enforcement of globally binding and democratically legitimized sanctions. The mass consumption has to be contained in order to prevent far-reaching damages and uncontainable consequences for the ecosystem and the livelihood.

App. All sentient beings must not be considered and used as resources, means of production or products. Instead, their political interests have to be considered in the decision-making process mentioned above.

App. Demographic groups which are currently affected or will be affected in the future by global developments (e.g. climate change, pollution, etc.) must be compensated by those responsible or – if these parties cannot be held liable – be indemnified by the world community.

Elaborated, discussed and agreed by the majority of:

the political observers of the “General Assembly”

ARMEN AVANESSIAN (philosopher and political theorist) ULRIKE GUÉROT (Professor for European Policy and Democracy Studies) WOLFGANG KALECK (human rights attorney, founder of the ECCHR) CHANTAL MOUFFE (professor of political theory) ANU MUHAMMAD (professor of economics) JO SEOKA (Bishop and activist)

the delegates of the “General Assembly”

HUDA ABUZEID (Libyan Filmmaker) DOĞAN AKHANLI (writer of Turkish origin) QUIM ARRUFAT (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular) IGAL AVIDAN (journalist of Isreali origin) ARAL BALKAN (cyborg rights activist) ALINA BANU (Romanian activist for Roşia Montană) KHADJA BEDATI (Sahraouian activist) LÚCIO BELLENTANI (former employee at a VW plant in Brazil) SHOTA BUKOSHI (Filmmaker from Kosovo) ANWAR AL-BUNNI (lawyer, Syrian opposition) HAMZE BYTYCI (Roma activist) NAOMI COLVIN (activist, Courage Foundation) DIOGO COSTA (Instituto Mises Brasil) MIHRAN DABAG (Historian of armenian origine) PABLO FAJARDO MENDOZA (lawyer in the class action lawsuit against the energy company Chevron Corporation) GIORGIO FIDENATO (libertarian farmer and activist) DIETER GERTEN (Professor of global change climatology and hydrology) JEAN-LOUIS GILISSEN (lawyer at the ICC, defense attorney) CHRISTOS GIOVANOPOULOS (co-organizer of the protests at Syntagma Square in Athens) THÉOPHILE DE GIRAUD (antinatalist) CEZARY FRANCISZEK GMYZ (Polish journalist) COLIN GOLDNER (Great Ape Project) KATHRIN HARTMANN (journalist, critic of the Green Economy) WINFRIED HEMPEL (lawyer, former resident of Colonia Dignidad) FERI IRAWAN (activist against palm oil companies in Indonesia) MEERA JAMAL (journalist from Pakistan) KIRINGAI KAMAU (Kenyan rural entrepreneur) CORNELIA KAMINSKI (federal association for the right to live) KHUSHI KABIR (human rights activist from Bangladesh) ISRAEL KAUNATJIKE (Herero activist) ZEHRA KHAN (Spokesperson for the survivors of the burnt down factory of Ali Enterprises) PRINCE KIHANGI (expert on raw materials policy in the Congo) KIM LEE (Polish drag queen) THUMEKA MAGWANGQANA (South African civil rights activist) NASIR MANSOOR (Pakistani trade unionist) MNYAKA SURURU MBORO (activist from Tanzania) SAMI MIAARI (Liberal economist, Tel Aviv University MITAT ÖZDEMIR (Turkish engineer, German migrant worker in the 60’s) MARTIN PAIRET (European Alternatives) GONZALO PIÑÁN (artist from Spain, economic migrant) MELVIN PURZUELO (climate activist from the Philippines) JOANA ADESUWA REITERER (climate activist from the Philippines) ITAI RUSIKE (activist from Zimbabwe) FRIEDERIKE SCHMITZ (animal rights activist) SIMON SELLE (children and youth Parliament) HILAL SEZGIN (animal rights activist) ALA’A SHEHABI (activist against surveillance) MAXIM SHEVCHENKO (Russian journalist, expert on religious policy) ABOU BAKAR SIDIBÉ (filmmaker, refugee from Mali) BERNADUS SWARTBOOI (former Minister of Land Reform in Namibia) TAHA SABRI (Imam in Neukölln) ALI ERTAN TOPRAK (chairman of the Kurdish Community Germany) VLADIMIR UMELJIĆ ((Serbian historian) SEBASTIAN URBANSKI (actor with Down syndrome) CIAN WESTMORELAND (former drone engineer and Whistleblower) CARMEN ZAMBRANO (activist from Ecuador)

The “General Assembly” is supported by:

Agit Polska, Bahrain Watch, Berlin Postkolonial, Bread for the World, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights  – ECCHR, German Network and Coordination Office Against Trafficking In Human Beings (KOK), Club of the polish failures, Diem25, European Alternatives, FUTURZWEI, Germanwatch, Society for Threatened Peoples, ADEFRA (Initiative of black women in Germany), ISD – Initiative of Black People in Germany,, Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly / Democracy Without Borders, Kinder- und Jugendparlament Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Kurdish Community Germany, medico international, Oficina Precaria Berlin / 15 M, Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, Palästinensische Stimme, Plough Back The Fruits  –, PowerShift, Rainforest Rescue,  Reporters Without Borders, RomaTrial, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Tierfabriken Resistance, Urgewald, Voix des Migrants, Welthungerhilfe and others


European Alternatives
European Alternatives is a non-profit, non-state organisation working with the conviction that a transnational renovation of our political imaginations, institutions and actions needs to take place to adequately understand and address the crises Europe is facing.