Global Governance and Parliamentary Influence
“Transparency” and “accountability” are two of the current buzzwords in modern international relations jargon and are perceived as key elements to positively manage globalization and reconnect decision makers to civil society. Certainly when Mike Moore, the former Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), met the Finnish Parliamentary Subcommittee for the WTO, those concepts were his first topics for discussion. Transparency to him meant including parliamentarians in the work of the international organization he was directing, and consequently, the WTO has started to develop a parliamentary forum, co-organized by the European Parliament and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Yet the WTO is just an example of a broader trend: the former President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, and the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, similarly called for increased parliamentary involvement in their institutions and took concrete measures to follow up on these promises. In 2000 for example, the first parliamentary conference on the World Bank was held in The Hague. Since then, they have become an annual fixture under the leadership of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank. Finally, Kofi Annan has received a report from a panel led by the former Brazilian Prime Minister, Enrique Cardoso, to examine ways to reinforce the relationship between the UN and parliamentarians.
These represent new and significant developments. Yet what explains the eagerness of international leaders to attach parliamentary bodies to their institutions? Major factors were the antiglobalization protests in Seattle, Prague, Geneva, and Cancun. They undoubtedly served as a reminder of the democratic deficit from which international organizations suffer and illustrated how suspicion rather then trust links global decision makers and civil societies. It seems that it is the Members of Parliament, elected at the ballot box, who might, as representatives of the citizens, be the natural agents to address this problem.
Nonetheless, the challenges are manifold. As this appendix will illustrate, a successful structure for parliamentary involvement would require specialized international legislative committees, an efficient division of labor, and a stronger national parliamentary participation in international affairs.