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World Law Now

Evolving a Global Constitution: Fulfilling Needs and Empowering People

By David Gallup

Since the launch of the World SyntegrityTM Project (WSP) in July 1993, more than 20 Syntegrations have occurred, involving hundreds of persons throughout the world who have asked and answered the question, "How can we, as sovereign world citizens, govern our world?"

Now that this process is in full swing, with upcoming Syntegrations in Ethiopia, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, it is time to begin codifying the hundreds of Syntegration statements on world governance into enforceable, adjudicative world law. In other words, we need to evolve a flexible global constitution.

Why do we need a global constitution?

The constitutional format can provide an inclusive organizational structure addressing global issues that nation-states, as exclusionary entities, cannot handle. The purpose of constitutional law is to prevent conflict and to reaffirm our innate rights and concomitant duties.

Historically, putting law into written form has been the primary purpose of constitutional law. Once codified, everyone can review what they have agreed upon. They can then arbitrate it in order to settle disputes.

Constitutions generally elaborate how a government will function and what principles it will uphold, such as individual rights and responsibilities.

What will a world constitution look like?

Several global constitutions have already been proposed, but these were written by academic elites or small groups of people with limited scope. These constitutions are static--once written, they require amending because they fail to respond to shifting global problems.

The ingenuity of the Syntegrity process, on the other hand, is that it promotes grassroots participation, diversity of input, and relevance of substance and procedure.

Statements from the Syntegrations or Infosets (terms used interchangeably to describe the dynamic and nonhierarchical 30-person meetings) have been collated by topic or issue area and passed on to the next group of syntegrators, allowing for reverberation of ideas and themes.

Another key feature of the Syntegrity process is that it allows participants to determine for themselves whether to take action or what action to take based on their Syntegration statements. Corporate planning consultant Alan Pearson emphasizes this attribute in comments included in cybernetician Stafford Beer's book Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity. Pearson notes: "Team Syntegrity, as described, is unclear about the connection between discussion and action. Alternatively, it implies a necessary and direct connection between the two. As a result, it leaves that connection entirely in the hands of the participants. If they are an activist bunch, they might come up with a plan. If not, talk will do."

For the World Syntegrity Project to take on the power of law creation, it must not remain simply a method for discussion and agreement; it must become a method for humans to implement their agreements as world law.

Although the Syntegrity process effectively promotes mutual understanding, as it expands and the statements reverberate, it also can promote effective action--which is the basis for evolving world law into a dynamic constitution.

How is the Syntegrity Project an effective method of evolving such a constitution?

Just as law creation for the local community is a process of communication, agreement, and implementation among individuals in the locality, the World Syntegrity Project is a perpetual process of global law creation among humans on the planet. It is a perpetual process because Syntegrations will need to continue in order to make any global constitution flexible, timely and relevant.

In contrast to Syntegrations, most meetings or conventions are static. Someone talks while others listen, offering minimal opportunity for interaction and interchange of ideas. But the WSP and Syntegrations are relational and synergistic because participants meet in a three-dimensional framework (the icosahedron--see R. Lloyd's article, page 11) in which discussion is democratized. Participants in Shashemeni, Ethiopia, express their views along with participants in Melbourne, Australia; Stockholm, Sweden; Bogota, Colombia, etc. All views count equally, with no disparity in input among participants in particular parts of the world.

How do we move the WSP into a democratic constitutional framework, and what will that framework entail?

The WSP process threatens to stagnate if we, as syntegrators, world lawmakers, and world citizens, cannot resolve what to do with the many statements that are formulated during the Infosets. Right now, the Syntegrations involve generally substantive statements about what rights and responsibilities must exist in a governed world. In order for the WSP to fit into a global constitutional framework, Syntegrations also will need to involve procedural statements about implementing those rights and responsibilities at the world level.

I propose that a global constitution based on the WSP should entail perpetual Syntegrations that switch back and forth between substance and procedure, or in simpler terms, between what to change and how to change it.

The first generation of Syntegrations is currently providing statements on substantive goals. A second generation of Syntegrations could provide statements on procedural methods to implement the goals. A third set of Syntegrations could return to the goals that had been implemented to determine if those goals would still be valid in the current global context. A fourth generation could devise better methods of implementing the goals. Infosets would continue to occur ad infinitum.

Because Syntegrity is an ongoing process, a global constitution would retain its relevance. As knowledge, technology, and the natural environment alter the human landscape and the dynamics of human interaction, this global constitution would have the flexibility to change.

By synthesizing statements of agreement about what the law is and about how to implement it--by uniting these stages in the Syntegrity process--we can form a flexible constitution for humanity. This evolving Syntegrity process, one that unites substance and implementation in reverberating Infosets, might more aptly be termed "synthegrity," a combination of synergy, integrity and synthesis of form and content.

Before we move into this constitutional framework, many more Infosets at the substantive level must occur, involving as many people as possible. Beer, the creator of the Syntegrity process, has focused on how the aggregate of Infosets of 30 persons in a neighborhood or locality creates a "hyperset of neighborhood Infosets or a hyperinfoset."

He writes, "The purpose of forming hyperinfosets... is to make consolidated statements available that have been worked over by 900 people, 27,000 people, and so on. At the sixth generation of the process, nearly one billion people would in theory participate!"

Whether Infosets are successive or simultaneous influences the reverberation process. Successive generations of Infosets lead to greater reverberation of similar ideas from one generation to the next, whereas simultaneous Infosets lead to a larger quantity of statements or ideas that can later be reverberated to succeeding Infosets. We need a combination of simultaneous and successive Infosets (both on substance and procedure) to maximize both the number of ideas about governing the world and the amount of reverberation of these ideas between Infoset groups. The more successive Infosets occur, the more the ideas or Infoset statements will remain relevant; the more simultaneous Infosets occur, the more people will be empowered to participate in the process at one time.

The number of Infosets that would have to take place in order to include everyone would be astounding. One way to involve as many of the six-billion humans on the planet as possible in this Syntegration law-making process would be to have Syntegration weekends throughout the world, like global law holidays that not only celebrate the process but also produce action plans. With the virtually infinite linking capabilities of computers, many people could participate in on-line Syntegrations.

We must not view the World Syntegrity Project only as a process of law formation and global constitutionalism, but also as a needs-fulfillment and human empowerment process. People who do not have their basic needs fulfilled, such as food and shelter, would have difficulty participating in the Syntegrity process. The WSP is another global call for human unity, compassion and action that sheds light on the disempowerment of billions of humans unable to fulfill their needs due to war, pollution or oppression. We must continue the WSP while simultaneously fulfilling needs so that more and more people will be able to participate in the process. Without this needs-fulfillment component, the WSP will not remain inclusive and will fail to ensure open participation.

Syntegrations can and have already focused on fulfilling human needs in local and global contexts. For example, a recent Syntegration in Harbu, Ethiopia, focused on health, agriculture, food and natural resources (see page 4). Participants there have proposed many resolutions that respond to basic needs, such as designing a health service policy throughout the world that provides access to free health care and medical supplies for all human beings.

Syntegrity, as a method to evolve world constitutional law, is a process that can fulfill our human needs and democratize human empowerment. It can synthesize our agreements about our rights and responsibilities with our implementation of them. Based on this process, humans are uniting globally through the evolution of world law.

David Gallup is the General Counsel of the World Service Authority.

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