World Federalist Movement

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World Federalist Movement
WFM Logo.png
Formation 1947
Type Non-governmental organization
Purpose International relations, Federalism

The World Federalist Movement (WFM) is a global citizens movement that advocates the establishment of a global federal system of strengthened and democratic global institutions subjected to the principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and democracy.[1] Famous advocates of world federalism include Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosika Schwimmer, Garry Davis, Emery Reves and Lola Maverick Lloyd. The organization was created in 1947 by those concerned that the structure of the new United Nations was too similar to the League of Nations which had failed to prevent World War II, both being loosely structured associations of sovereign nation-states, with few autonomous powers.

The WFM International Secretariat is based in New York City, across from the headquarters of the United Nations, and has member and associate organizations around the world. The Movement has had Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (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 and 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 founded in 1937 by two famous feminists, pacifists, and female suffragists: Rosika Schwimmer and Lola Maverick Lloyd. In 1938, the Federal Union was organized in the United Kingdom.[2] In the U.S., Federal Union (now: Association to Unite the Democracies) was established in 1939 calling for a federation of the Atlantic democracies. The Swiss Internationale Bewegung der Weltföderalisten-Schweiz was created in Geneva in 1940. During World War II, anti-fascist resistance movements shared clandestinely circulated copies of Altiero Spinelli's plan for European federation and global federation. Spinelli later became one of the founding fathers of the European Union. In 1945, the Committee to Frame a World Constitution convened at the University of Chicago and drafted a Constitution for the World.[3] 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.

The Institute for Global Policy (IGP), founded in 1983 by the World Federalist Movement, is a research and policy institute dedicated to the promotion of human security, international justice, the prevention of armed conflict and the protection of civilians. The Institute emphasizes the democratization of international and regional organizations and the development and global application of international law. Most recently, WFM-IGP has been at the forefront of advocating for NGO access to international conferences and meetings.

Member organizations[edit]

WFM-IGP is composed of autonomous national and regional organizations organized by individual supporters in their respective countries. In applying to the governing Council for membership, organizations are asked to endorse the WFM Statement of Purpose and to demonstrate a "capacity to contribute to the enhancement of public and political support" for the Movement's goals.

The World Federalist Movement has Member Organizations (MOs) and Associate Organizations around the world, including Citizens for Global Solutions, Union of European Federalists, World Federalist Movement-Canada, The Universal Party, and the World Federalist Movement of Japan. Others include Democratic World Federalists, One World Trust, Committee for a Democratic UN, and the Ugandan World Federalists.[4] The WFM umbrella organization also includes the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "History of Federal Union". Federal Union. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Guide to the Committee to Frame a World Constitution Records 1945-1951". The University of Chicago. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Our Members Around The World". World Federalist Movement. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 

External links[edit]