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Caresse Crosby: A World Citizen’s Passionate Years

In Being a World Citizen, Cultural Bridges, Europe, Literature, Poetry, The Search for Peace, United States on April 22, 2023 at 8:22 AM

By René Wadlow

Caresse Crosby (April 20, 1891 – January 24, 1970) was one of the more colorful figures of the early world citizens movement, heading the World Citizen Information Center in Washington, D. C. Her autobiography The Passionate Years was first published in 1953 and more recently republished by the Southern Illinois University Press in 1968. The Southern Illinois University Library holds her papers.

Most of The Passionate Years concerns Caresse Crosby’s life in Paris as the publisher of the Black Sun Press, at the center of the United States (U. S.) writers living in Paris in the 1920s – what has been called the Lost Generation – Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Archibald MacLeish. She had moved to Paris in 1922 from Boston with her then husband, Harry Crosby. Harry Crosby was a nephew of J. P. Morgan, the banker. Harry had a short-term job at the Paris branch of the Morgan Bank, but he was not interested in banking and had a reasonable income from a trust fund. Thus, he started a small publishing house to publish in fine but limited editions books of his own poems and those of his friends. Harry Crosby was always preoccupied with the idea of death, having seen it closely as a medical worker in France during the last part of the First World War. Hence the name of Black Sun, a symbol of death overcoming the light of the Sun for the publishing house. On a trip back to New York in 1929 in what may have been a suicide pact, Harry Crosby first shot a woman friend and then himself with her in his arms. (1)

Caresse stayed on in Paris to continue the Black Sun publishing house, opening it also to French writers she liked such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In 1936, seeing the clouds of tensions growing in Europe, she moved back to the USA, living in New York City and Washington, D. C. It was at this time that she began promoting the idea of world citizenship to counter the narrow nationalism she had seen firsthand in visits to Italy and Germany.

Right at the end of the Second World War, she wanted to create a Center for World Peace at Delphi, Greece – a place of inspiration from the Greek gods. However, the Greek Government still weak from the German occupation and the anti-Communist civil war did not want such a center with an ideology that it did not understand. The Greek Government refused the visas. Caresse then moved the idea to Cyprus and created the World Man Center with a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller, who had become her lover at the time. Cyprus, then under British control, was somewhat out of the way for the sort of visiting writers, painters, and intellectuals that Caresse usually attracted. Thus, she bought a castle north of Rome, the Castello di Rocca Sinibalda, and established an artists’ colony for young artists. She divided her time between this Rome area and her New York and Washington quarters.

For Caresse Crosby, World Citizenship was an aesthetic rather than a political concept, but she did plant seeds in the minds of people largely untouched by geopolitical considerations.

Caresse Crosby and her whippet, Clytoris (1922, author unknown)

1) See Geoffrey Wolff, Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby (New York: New York Review of Books, 2003).

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Benjamin Ferencz, Champion of World Law, Leaves a Strong Heritage on Which to Build

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, Human Rights, International Justice, NGOs, The Balkan Wars, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, United States, War Crimes, World Law on April 18, 2023 at 7:11 AM

By René Wadlow

Benjamin Ferencz, champion of World Law and World Citizenship, died on April 7, 2023 at the age of 103, leaving a strong heritage of action for world law. He was particularly active in the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) located in the Hague.

He was born in March 1920 in what is now Romania, close to the frontiers of Hungary and Ukraine. In the troubled period after the end of the First World War, the parents of Ferencz, who were Jews, decided to emigrate to New York with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. They settled in New York City, and Ferencz changed his Yiddish name Berrel to Benjamin and studied in the New York school system. He did his undergraduate work at City College and then received a scholarship to Harvard Law School, a leading United States (U. S.) law school.

(C) United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

At the end of his law studies at Harvard, he was taken into the U. S. Army and in 1944, he was in Europe with the Army legal section, the Judge-Advocate General Corps. By conviction and interest, he began to collect information on the Nazi concentration camps. He was able to find photos, letters, and other material that he later was able to use as one of the prosecution team in the Nuremberg trials of Germans accused of war crimes. He was also a staff member of the Joint Restitution Successor Organization concerned with the restoration or compensation of goods having belonged to Jewish families. Thus, he developed close cooperation with the then recently created state of Israel.

(C) Leit

From his experiences with the German trials and the many difficulties that the trials posed to be more than the justice of the victors and also the need not to antagonize the recently created Federal Republic of Germany, Ferencz became a strong advocate of an international legal system such as the Tribunals on ex-Yugoslavia of 1993 and on Rwanda (1994). Much of his effort was directed to the creation of the ICC, a creation that owes much to efforts of nongovernmental organizations, such as the Association of World Citizens. It was during this effort for the creation of the ICC that we came into contact.

Benjamin Ferencz leaves a heritage on which we can build. The development of world law is often slow and meets opposition. However, the need is great, and strong efforts at both national and international levels continue.

(C) Adam Jones

(1) See Benjamin B. Ferencz, A Common Sense Guide to World Peace (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 1985).

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Yemen: Positive Action Still Needed

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Spirituality, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, Women's Rights, World Law, Yemen on April 16, 2023 at 9:07 AM

By René Wadlow

March 25 is the anniversary date of the start of 28 days on continued bombing of Yemen in 2015 by the Saudi-Arabia-led coalition (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, United Arab Emirates helped by arms and “intelligence” from the USA and the UK). The aggression by the Saudi coalition turned what had been an internal struggle for power going on from the “Arab Spring” of 2011 into a war with regional dimensions which brought Iran into the picture. The role of Iran has been exaggerated both by the Iranian government itself and by those hostile to Iran. Nevertheless, the Iranian role is real.

Yemeni children play in the rubble of buildings destroyed in an air raid. (C) Peter Biro/European Union

Since the Association of World Citizens (AWC) had been following possible constitutional developments in Yemen after the 2011 change of government, a couple of days after the March 25, 2015 bombing, the AWC sent to governmental missions to the United Nations (UN) an AWC Appeal for four steps of conflict resolution and negotiations in good faith:

1) An immediate ceasefire ending all foreign military attacks;
2) Humanitarian assistance, especially important for hard-to-reach zones;
3) A broad national dialogue;
4) Through this dialogue, the establishment of an inclusive unity government open to constitutional changes to facilitate better the wide geographic- tribal structure of the State.

While the constitutional form of the State structures depends on the will of the people of Yemen (provided they can express themselves freely), the AWC proposes consideration of con-federal forms of government which maintain cooperation within a decentralized framework. In 2014, a committee appointed by the then President, Abdu Rabbu Mansur Hadi, had proposed a six-region federation as the political structure for Yemen.

Until 1990, Yemen was two separate States: The People’s Democratic of Yemen in the south with Aden as the capital, and the Yemen Arab Republic in the north with Sana’a as its capital. In 1990, the two united to become the Republic of Yemen. The people in the south hoped that the union would bring the economic development which had been promised. Since, even before the Saudi-led war began, there had been very little economic and social development in the south, there started to grow strong “separatist” attitudes in the south. People of all political persuasions hoped to develop prosperity by ending unification and creating what some have started calling “South Arabia” Today, these separatist attitudes are very strong, but there is no agreement on what areas are to be included in a new southern state, and the is no unified separatist political leadership.

Very quickly after March 25, 2015, many governments saw the dangers of the conflict and the possible regional destabilization. Thus, there were UN-sponsored negotiations held in Geneva in June 2015. The AWC worked with other nongovernmental organizations (NGO) so that women should be directly involved in such negotiations. However, women have not been added to any of the negotiations and are largely absent from any leadership role in the many political factions of the country. There have been UN mediators active in trying to get ceasefires and then negotiations. There have been some temporary ceasefires, but no progress on real negotiations.

Today, the war continues with the country’s fragmentation, continued internal fighting and impoverishment leading to a disastrous humanitarian crisis. There is a glimmer of possible conflict resolution efforts due to the recent mutual recognition of Saudi Arabia and Iran under the sponsorship of the People’s Republic of China. However, creating a national society of individuals willing to cooperate will not be easy. Regional divisions will not be easy to bridge. There have already been divisions within the Saudi-led Coalition. Thus, positive action is still needed. NGOs should seek to have their voices heard.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Israel-Palestine: Tension-reduction Measures Urgently Needed

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on April 11, 2023 at 7:05 AM

By René Wadlow

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) calls for urgently needed tension-reduction measures in the Israel-Palestine-Lebanon area.

Tensions have led to a barrage of missiles from Gaza and Lebanon and rapid Israeli missiles in return aiming at weakening Hamas and Hezbollah.

Growing tensions had led to Israeli police attacking Palestinian worshipers celebrating the holy month of Ramadan within the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on April 5-6, 2023. The images of Israeli police firing teargas and beating worshipers were widely seen on social media outlets and other media.

Tensions in the area have been growing since the formation of the Netanyahu-led government with right-wing ministers. Government proposals for changes concerning the court system and the appointment of judges have led to strong and widespread protest demonstrations. However, Palestinian issues were not directly addressed by these demonstrations.

Tensions between Israel and Iran and Iranian-backed groups in Syria have also been growing. The dangers of further violence have been raised in the United Nations Security Council, but no positive actions were undertaken. United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon are on “high alert”.

For the moment, there are no high-level public negotiations underway or planned. Thus, tension-reduction measures must be undertaken as unilateral measures by the government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the government of Lebanon. Such tension-reduction measures are urgently needed but may be unlikely. Thus, the AWC calls upon civil society organizations and persons of good will to consider what measures can be taken immediately and what structures may be established so that tension-reduction processes continue. This is an urgent call for creative and courageous actions.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific: Reversing the Slide to Violence

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, NGOs, Nonviolence, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, World Law on April 9, 2023 at 6:22 PM

By René Wadlow

With the United States (U. S.) and Chinese military engaged near Taiwan, a miscalculation could lead to armed violence. The armed conflict in Ukraine has heightened the debate on the possibility of armed conflict between China and Taiwan. Tensions between the two Korean states remain high. The border clash between Indian and Chinese forces in June 2020 has highlighted residual tensions between the two countries. One could add other tensions in the Asia-Pacific area to the list.

Less obvious are the possibilities of confidence-building measures that would reduce these tensions and might open doors to cooperation in the security, economic and social spheres.

There are confidence-building measures that can be undertaken by governments. Whereas we, outside of governmental positions, can make suggestions as to steps that governments could take, we nevertheless have little possibility to oblige action by them. Thus, we have to consider what confidence-building measures we as academics and nongovernmental organization activists can undertake.

Fortunately, we have long experience of working to reduce the tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union (NATO and the Warsaw Pact) which led to the Helsinki Agreements and finally the end of the Cold War. Much of the analysis is still of value such as Mary Kaldor (Ed), Europe from Below (London: Verso: 1991). Many of the peace organizations that were involved are still in existence and could focus on Asia-Pacific issues.

There have also been efforts on confidence-building in the Israel-Palestine conflict and in the wider Middle East. Repeated efforts concerning tensions between India and Pakistan often focused on the tensions in Kashmir.

Today, there is a need to draw upon these experiences to impart conflict resolution skills to new individuals and groups, thereby building and expanding the constituencies working for conflict reduction measures. New participants can have backgrounds in psychology, religion, law and communications with experience in social movements and community action programs.

There is also a need to draw upon categories of people who were not directly involved in earlier efforts. Often women were marginalized not only in government negotiations but even in nongovernmental efforts. These processes of dialogue have a value in deepening understanding of a situation. However, the emphasis should be on developing proposals for confidence-building measures.

Tensions in the Asia-Pacific area are growing, and there is a need for concerted action to reduce the slide to violence. As Don Carlson and Craig Comstock point out in their book, Citizen Summitry: Keeping the Peace when it Matters Too Much to be Left to Politicians (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tacker, Inc. 1986),

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

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