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Member Profile September 2013


Canadian and international World Federalists meeting, July 2012, Winnipeg.

This month we had the pleasure to talk with Fergus Watt, Executive Director at World Federalists Movement Canada. We found out more about this small but dynamic organization, member of a global network, whose areas of focus include peacekeeping, the post-2015 discussions and the responsibility to protect, among others.


CCIC - World Federalists Movement-Canada is part of a broader global network; could you tell us a bit about the history of that network?

Fergus Watt - The World Federalist Movement – Canada (WFMC) is a not-for-profit research, education and advocacy organization. In Canada WFMC is closely affiliated with a sister organization, the World Federalist Foundation, also based at our Ottawa office. World federalists are dedicated to achieving more just and effective global governance through the application of the principles of democratic federalism to world affairs.

WFMC is the Canadian member organization of the international World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP), co-located at The Hague and in New York, near the United Nations. The World Federalist Movement was founded as an international peace movement shortly after the creation of the United Nations, in the Swiss city of Montreux. Federalists recognized that the post-World War II institutional architecture would not be sufficient to achieve its purposes, i.e. a world that would act collectively against armed aggression, the denial of universal rights, and other global threats.

CCIC - What are the key areas of focus of World Federalists Movement-Canada?

Fergus Watt - Our areas of focus include a mixture of international and Canadian issues.

    1. Peacekeeping. We advocate greater participation by Canada in UN peacekeeping. At the same time, we call for the UN to have its own standing rapid reaction capacity, i.e.  the proposed UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS).
    2. Post-2015. We are monitoring the international discussions. The scope of the debate, over 100 national consultations, international CS, UN bodies, regional conferences, etc. etc. stands in marked contrast to the development of the MDGs (cooked up by a few officials in Kofi Annan’s office). It’s a real global conversation this time. Programmatically, WFM – Canada is supporting efforts to incorporate a rights-based Social Protection Floor (see also ILO’s Bachelet report) as a key post-2015 objective.
    3. Responsibility to Protect. We support the development of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) normative framework. Although R2P is often misunderstood and misrepresented, and has not been utilized to protect citizens in Syria, it nevertheless holds significant potential for improving international responses to atrocity crimes such as genocide,  war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
    4. UN Parliamentary Assembly. The idea of a parliamentary assembly at the UN (like the PA for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or the PA for the Council of Eurpe, to cite 2 examples), is a concrete example of how one could take practical steps to democratize global governance. We are active on the international UNPA campaign. 74 Canadian parliamentarians (from all parties) have signed the International Appeal calling for a parliamentary assembly at the UN.
    5. Some of our other programmatic work is focused on the International Criminal Court, Canadian legislation to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and nuclear disarmament.


    CCIC - Who can get involved in WFMC, and how?

    Fergus Watt - We rely on individual Canadians for support. Individuals can join, donate, or sign up for our monthly E-News by visiting


    CCIC - Your organization is involved in actions aimed at reconnecting the UN with Canada; what are the main activities and what are you hoping to achieve?

    Fergus Watt - The project’s full title is “The United Nations and Canada: What Canada has done and should be doing at the UN.” Seventeen international specialists – former cabinet ministers, ambassadors, civil society representatives and a few academics -- have written on various aspects of the UN’s work and why Canada should be more engaged than it is at present. These experts recognize both the UN’s achievements and its failings. But, they also believe, as do a majority of Canadians, in the great need for effective international organizations to help the world make decisions regarding global problems. The project involves outreach to media ahead of the 2013 Canadian speech at the UN General Assembly, as well as publication of a book containing the articles.

    CCIC - WFMC is also much involved in the campaign “Together for Equality – Leave No One Behind”, a discussion on the post-2015 agenda. Can you explain what it is and how people and organizations can participate?

    Fergus Watt - The “Leave No One Behind” campaign is mobilizing public support for formulations of possible post-2015 goals that were particularly advanced by various civil society networks and the UN system task team. It’s a progressive agenda. Rather than a list of specific poverty reduction targets, like the MDGs, civil society networks emphasize the importance of a more universal post-2015 framework of “one world goals,” recognizing that poverty reduction is an agenda to be addressed in all countries. A rights-based approach to addressing poverty is emphasized (i.e. based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights), rather than a list of limited poverty-reduction programs and targets. We want to support this more progressive agenda, in hopes that governments at the UN don’t water down many of the proposed goals in the months ahead.

    CCIC - Why is it important for WFMC to be part of the CCIC?

    Fergus Watt - We are a small organization. Strategically, WFMC is better off when we network, share our perspectives with others and collaborate to promote international cooperation.  CCIC provides an important vehicle for doing so. Additionally, CCIC is a key player on many of the front-burner Canadian foreign policy issues, such as the merger of CIDA into DFATD, and the evident re-conceptualizing of Canadian development policy and priorities.



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