The Binding Triad System for Global Decision-Making

The world needs a way to make up its mind!
Unexercised sovereignty: a key problem
Enter the Binding Triad
How the Binding Triad would work
Exercising sovereignty
What might a global legislature do?
Who is the realist?
The system is vital

The world needs a way to make up its mind!

   The world can, at last, meet global needs neglected during the long years of the Cold War. Sanity must prevail, at last, over gross planetary mismanagement.

   UNCONSCIONABLE EXPENDITURES are being made on military forces, both on conventional arms spreading like a plague around the world and on efforts by various countries to build nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

   OUR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT is being mindlessly ravaged, from outer space to the depths of the seas -- as well as right in our own backyards.

   ELEMENTARY HUMAN RIGHTS -- to food, shelter, health care, education, freedom of expression, and, indeed, survival -- are widely threatened.

Unexercised sovereignty: a key problem

   The world has tried to deal with its crises under an obsolete international political system based on full sovereignty of almost 200 nation-states, with no assignment of authority to their collective entity. Global problems can be dealt with effectively only by a global organization. Present efforts to cope with planetary issues through multilateral treaties among states are simply too fragmentary and unreliable to get the job done.

   The world organization that should be handling all these questions is the United Nations. Two limitations in the U.N. Charter prevent the system from working out solutions to questions of war and peace, the environment, human rights and economic justice.

  • In the U.N. General Assembly, small states have a voting strength vastly disproportionate to their populations and political/economic/military strength. (Monaco and Vanuatu have the same vote as the U.S. and China.) Moreover, Assembly decisions are only recommendations which can be flouted with impunity.
  • In the Security Council, no action can be taken without the approval of all five permanent members of the Security Council -- the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China. Since this degree of cooperation is difficult to achieve, the veto and its threat has all too often crippled the Security Council. Besides, the Security Council does not have the authority to engage itself on some major global problems, such as the environment and economic development. Go back to the top

Enter the Binding Triad

   With only one amendment to the United Nations Charter, the Binding Triad System could endow the U.N. General Assembly with the option to make binding decisions on a specific range of international issues. The Binding Triad is, in essense, a weighted voting system which would make General Assembly decision-making acceptable to the world's diverse array of nations -- large and small, rich and poor.

   It is not widely understood that the United Nations already has three of the four critical elements essential to a system of effective, democratic global governance, albeit in incipient form. It has an Executive Department, namely, the Secretariat, headed by an able Secretary-General. It has a nascent judicial arm: the International Court of Justice. And it has the beginnings of an enforcement agency: its growing peacekeeping units serving in various areas around the world. What the U.N. doesn't have is a legislative body, which is what the Binding Triad system would create. Go back to the top

How the Binding Triad would work

   By an amendment to Article 13 of the United Nations Charter, the Binding Triad system could be introduced into the global decision-making process. This amendment would enable the General Assembly to make binding decisions by resolutions which receive concurrent majority votes based on three factors:

(1)   one-nation-one-vote (the same as now),
(2)   population,
(3)   contributions to the U.N. budget.

   The General Assembly could also continue to adopt non-binding recommendations by majority vote based solely on one-vote-per-nation, as at present.

   The rationale of the Binding Triad concept is this:

  • The one-nation-one-vote system is deeply rooted in diplomatic tradition, and this voting leg gives the smaller countries an important voice in global decisions.
  • The population leg introduces a strong element of democracy into U.N. decision-making.
  • The leg based on contributions to the U.N. budget, roughly based on GNP, allows the more important donor counties to have increased influence on decisions involving projects for which they will have to pay most of the bills.

   Under the Binding Triad proposal, a binding global law could be adopted by the General Assembly provided it had the support of most of the world's nations, nations representing most of the world's population, and nations representing most of the political/economic/military influence in international affairs.

   A constitutional debate on the United Nations Charter is already under way as the U.N. moves from its 50th anniversary in 1995 into the 21st century. So far, the discussion is centering on the expansion of the Security Council, but this seems to be leading to a wider consideration of basic restructuring of the United Nations. Go back to the top

Exercising Sovereignty

   Once the Binding Triad takes effect in the General Assembly, the United Nations will be able to engage in its mandate to protect the peoples of the world from the scourge of war and, by specific legislative actions, make our world more fit for human habitation. Each nation will continue to exercise maximum sovereignty over its domestic affairs but, just as nations apportion sovereignty among their cities, counties, and provinces for practical purposes, the Binding Triad system will delegate a portion of each nation's sovereignty to the management of its global needs. International law making is essential to prescribing and circumscribing the responsibilities of the Secretary-General, functions of U.N. peacekeepers, rulings of the World Court, environmental and developmental advancement, and defense of human rights. Go back to the top

What might a global legislature do?

   Here are a few tentative ideas:

  • Establish a standing U.N. peacekeeping force, individually recruited and owing its first loyalty to the world organization, with its own U.N. Training Academy.
  • Develop comprehensive and balanced solutions to various regional conflicts in such places as the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Establish a U.N. Verification Agency, which could supply information to U.N. enforcement agencies on such matters as arms control and disarmament, global environmental regulations, human rights, and economic development.
  • Establish a U.N. Anti-narcotics and Terrorism Network.
  • Set up a United nations Bank and Treasury, perhaps with its own global currency, and a system to collect independent revenues.
  • Create an operational schedule for the reduction of national military forces worldwide, as the force of law gradually replaces the law of force. Go back to the top

Who is the realist?

   Skeptics may say that the Binding Triad is a pipe dream, that nations will never agree to share a portion of their sovereignty. But that is precisely what they do every time they sign a treaty.

   The big powers, and we include among them not only the permanent members of the Security Council -- the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, and China -- but also Japan and Germany, are becoming receptive to the "Triad half" of the Binding Triad, since they are unhappy with the arrangement that gives the many small powers control of the Assembly, whose one major power under the U.N. Charter is control of the budget. But the big powers are uneasy at the prospect of giving the Assembly the authority to make binding decisions. Go back to the top

The system is vital!

   Thus, if the Binding Triad system is to be achieved, the big and small countries will have to engage in a political trade-off not unlike the one struck in 1787 at the U.S. Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, where a small state like Delaware got the same representation in the Senate as a big state like Pennsylvania, while the two states had much different voting strengths based on population in the House of Representatives. In this way, the historic lesson was learned that the decision-making system is critical to the success of any political organization, from the family to the world level. The Binding Triad system would achieve a comparable adjustment in the division of decision-making between national governments and the world organization. Go back to the top