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Garry Davis: “And Now the People Have the Floor”

In Being a World Citizen, Human Rights, Migration, NGOs, Solidarity, Spirituality, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, United States, World Law on July 24, 2022 at 6:14 PM

By René Wadlow

Garry Davis, who died on July 24, 2013, in Burlington, Vermont, was often called “World Citizen N°1”. The title was not strictly exact as the organized world citizen movement began in England in 1937 with Hugh J. Schonfield and his Commonwealth of World Citizens, followed in 1938 by the creation jointly in the USA and England of the World Citizen Association. However, it was Garry Davis in Paris in 1948-1949 who reached a wide public and popularized the term “world citizen”.

Garry Davis was the start of what I call “the second wave of world citizen action”. The first wave was in 1937-1940 as an effort to counter the narrow nationalism represented by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and militaristic Japan. This first world citizen wave of action did not prevent the Second World War, but it did highlight the need for a wider cosmopolitan vision. Henri Bonnet of the League of Nations’ Committee for Intellectual Co-operation and founder of the United States (U. S.) branch of the World Citizen Association became an intellectual leader of the Free French Forces led by General de Gaulle from London during the War. Bonnet was a leader in the founding of UNESCO — the reason it is based in Paris — and UNESCO’s emphasis on understanding among cultures.

The Second Wave of world citizen action in which Garry Davis was a key figure lasted from 1948 to 1950 — until the start of the war in Korea and the visible start of the Cold War, although, in reality, the Cold War began in 1945 when it became obvious that Germany and Japan would be defeated. The victorious Great Powers began moving to solidify their positions. The Cold War lasted from 1945 until 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union. During the 1950-1991 period, most world citizen activity was devoted to preventing a war between the USA and the USSR, working largely within other arms control/disarmament associations and not under a “world citizen flag.”

The Third Wave of world citizen action began in 1991 with the end of the Cold War and the rise again of narrow nationalist movements as seen in the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The Association of World Citizens with its emphasis on conflict resolution, human rights, ecologically-sound development, and understanding among cultures is the moving force of this Third Wave.

The two-year Second Wave was an effort to prevent the Cold War which might have become a hot World War Three. In 1948, the Communist Party took over Czechoslovakia, in what the West called a “coup”, more accurately a cynical manipulation of politics. The coup was the first example of a post-1945 change in the East-West balance of power and started speculation on other possible changes as in French Indochina or in 1950 in Korea. 1948 was also the year that the UN General Assembly was meeting in Paris. The United Nations (UN) did not yet have a permanent headquarters in New York, so the General Assembly first met in London and later in Paris. All eyes, especially those of the media, were fixed on the UN. No one was sure what the UN would become, whether it would be able to settle the growing political challenges or “go the way of the League of Nations”.

Garry Davis, born in 1921, was a young Broadway actor in New York prior to the entry of the U. S. in the World War in 1941. Garry Davis was a son of Meyer Davis, a well-known popular band leader who often performed at society balls and was well known in the New York-based entertainment world. Thus, it was fairly natural that his son would enter the entertainment world, as a “song and dance” actor in the musical comedies of those days. Garry had studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, a leading technology institution.

When the U. S. entered the war, Garry joined the Army Air Force and became a bomber pilot of the B-17, stationed in England with a mission to bomb targets in Germany. Garry’s brother had been killed in the Allied invasion of Italy, and there was an aspect of revenge in bombing German military targets until he was ordered to bomb German cities in which there were civilians.

At the end of the War and back as an actor in New York, he felt a personal responsibility toward helping to create a peaceful world and became active with world federalists who were proposing the creation of a world federation with powers to prevent war, largely based on the U. S. experience of moving from a highly decentralized government under the Articles of Confederation to the more centralized Federal Government structured by the Constitution.

At the time, Garry had read a popular book among federalists, The Anatomy of Peace by the Hungarian-born Emery Reves. Reves had written “We must clarify principles and arrive at axiomatic definitions as to what causes war and what creates peace in human society.” If war was caused by a state-centric nationalism as Reves, who had observed closely the League of Nations, claimed, then peace requires a move away from nationalism. As Garry wrote in his autobiography My Country is the World (1) “In order to become a citizen of the entire world, to declare my prime allegiance to mankind, I would first have to renounce my United States nationality. I would secede from the old and declare the new”.

In May 1948, knowing that the UN General Assembly was to meet in Paris in September and earlier the founding meeting of the international world federalists was to be held in Luxembourg, he went to Paris. There he renounced his U. S. citizenship and gave up his passport. However, he had no other identity credentials in a Europe where the police can stop you and demand that you provide identity papers. So he had printed a “United World Citizen International Identity Card” though the French authorities listed him as “Apatride d’origine américaine”. Paris after the War was filled with “apatride” people, but there was probably no other “d’origine américaine”.

Giving up U. S. citizenship and a passport which many of the refugees in Paris would have wanted at any price was widely reported in the press and brought him many visitors. Among the visitors was Robert Sarrazac (né Soulage), a career military officer who had been active in the French Resistance and shared the same view of the destructive nature of narrow nationalism and the need to develop a world citizen ideology. Garry was also joined by the young Guy Marchand who would later play an important role in structuring the world citizen movement.

As the French police was not happy with people with no valid identity papers wondering around, Garry Davis moved to the large modern Palais de Chaillot with its terraces which had become “world territory” for the duration of the UN General Assembly. He set up a tent and waited to see what the UN would do to promote world citizenship. In the meantime, Robert Sarrazac who had many contacts from his resistance activities set up a “Conseil de Solidarité” formed of people admired for their independence of thought, not linked to a particular political party. The Conseil was led by Albert Camus, novelist and writer for newspapers, André Breton, the Surrealist poet, l’Abbé Pierre and Emmanuel Mounier, editor of Esprit, both Catholics of highly independent spirits as well as Henri Roser, a Protestant minister and secretary for French-speaking countries of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Davis and his advisors felt that world citizenship should not be left outside the General Assembly hall but had to be presented inside as a challenge to the ordinary way of doing things, “an interruption”. Thus, it was planned that Garry Davis from the visitors’ balcony would interrupt the UN proceedings to read a short text; Robert Sarrazac had the same speech in French, and Albert Crespey, son of a chief from Togo had his talk written out in his Togolese language.

In the break after a long Yugoslav intervention, Davis stood up. Father Montecland, “priest by day and world citizen by night” said in a booming voice “And now the people have the floor!” Davis said “Mister Chairman and delegates: I interrupt in the name of the people of the world not represented here. Though my words may be unheeded, our common need for world law and order can no longer be disregarded.” After this, the security guards moved in, but Robert Sarrazac on the other side of the Visitors’ Gallery continued in French, followed by a plea for human rights in Togolese. Later, near the end of the UN Assembly in Paris, the General Assembly adopted without an opposition vote, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which became the foundation of world citizens’ efforts to advance world law.

Dr. Herbert Evatt of Australia was the President of the UN General Assembly in 1948. He was an internationalist who had worked during the San Francisco Conference creating the UN to limit the powers of the Permanent Five of the Security Council. Evatt met with Davis a few days after the “interruption” and encouraged Davis to continue to work for world citizenship, even if disrupting UN meetings was not the best way.

Shortly after highlighting world citizenship at the UN, Garry Davis went to the support of Jean Moreau, a young French world citizen and active Catholic, who as a conscientious objector to military service, had been imprisoned in Paris as there was no law on alternative service in France at the time. Davis camped in front of the door of the military prison at the Rue du Cherche-Midi in central Paris. As Davis wrote “When it is clearly seen that citizens of other nations are willing to suffer for a man born in France claiming the moral right to work for and love his fellow man rather than be trained in killing him, as Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Tolstoy, St Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and other great thinkers and religious leaders have taught, the world may begin to understand that the conscience of Man itself rises above all artificially-created divisions and fears.” (2). Others joined Davis in camping on the street. Garry Davis worked closely on this case with Henri Roser and Andre Trocmé of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Davis was put in jail for camping on the city street and also for not having valid identification documents, but his place on the street was filled with others, including a German pacifist, an act of courage so soon after the end of the War. It took another decade before alternative service in France was put into place, but Davis’ action had led to the issue being widely raised in France, and the link between world citizenship and non-violent action clearly drawn.

Garry Davis was never an “organizational man”. He saw himself as a symbol in action. After a year in France with short periods in Germany, he decided in July 1949 to return to the U. S. As he wrote at the time “I have often said that it is not my intention to head a movement or to become president of an organization. In all honesty and sincerity, I must define the limit of my abilities as being a witness to the principle of world unity, defending to the limit of my ability the Oneness of man and his immense possibilities on our planet Earth, and fighting the fears and hatreds created artificially to perpetuate narrow and obsolete divisions which lead and have always led to armed conflict.”

Perhaps by the working of karma, on the ship taking him to the USA, he met Dr. P. Natarajan, a south Indian religious teacher in the Upanishadic tradition. Natarajan had lived in Geneva and Paris and had a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Paris. He and Davis became close friends, and Davis spent some time in India at the center created by Natarajan who stressed the development of the inner life. “Meditation consists of bringing all values inside yourself” was a motto of Natarajan.

It was at the home of Harry Jakobsen, a follower of Natarajan, on Schooly Mountain, New Jersey that I first met Garry Davis in the early 1950s. I was also interested in Indian philosophy, and someone put me in contact with Jakobsen. However, I had joined what was then the Student World Federalists in 1951 so I knew of the Paris adventures of Garry. After that, we would meet in Geneva, France, and the U. S. from time to time.

Some world federalists and world citizens thought that his renunciation of U. S. citizenship in 1948 confused people. The more organization-minded world federalists preferred to stress that one can be a good citizen of a local community, a national state as well as a world citizen. However, Davis’s and my common interest in Asian thought was always a bond beyond any tactical disagreements.

Today, it is appropriate to cite the oft-used Indian image of the wave as an aspect of the one eternal ocean of energy. Each individual is both an individual wave and at the same time part of the impersonal source from which all comes and returns. Garry Davis as a wave has now returned to the broader ocean. He leaves us a continuing challenge writing “There is vital need now for wise and practical leadership, and the symbols, useful up to a point, must now give way to the men qualified for such leadership.”

Notes

1) Garry Davis, My Country is the World (London: Macdonald Publishers, 1962)

2) Garry Davis, Over to Pacifism: A Peace News Pamphlet (London: Peace News, 1949)

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

Woody Guthrie: This Land Is My Land And I Won’t Let Them Take It Away

In Arts, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Human Rights, Migration, Poetry, Social Rights, Solidarity, United States on July 14, 2022 at 8:39 PM

By René Wadlow

This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York island,

From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters,

this land was made for you and me.

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (1912-1967) whose birth anniversary we note on July 14, was the voice of the marginalized, especially those hit by the drought in the west of the USA during the late 1920s-early 1930s – what has been called the “dust bowl”.

Many lost their farms due to unpaid bank loans, and others moved to the greener pastures of California where they were not particularly welcomed. However, nearly all were United States (U. S.) citizens and they could not be deported to another country.

A dust storm in Texas, 1935

Times have changed. Today, there are the homeless who would like to reach the USA. There has been a good deal of media attention given to those at the frontier, including those who have died trying to reach the USA.

Less media attention has been given to those living in the U. S. and who are being deported to their “home country” although some have been living in the U. S. since childhood and could sing “This land is my land.”

A large number of persons, an estimated three million, were deported during the 8-year presidency of Barack Obama with relatively little attention given except by specialists. The more flamboyant speeches of former President Trump have awakened more people to the issue of deportation and the conditions in which people are held prior to deportation.

Those in danger of deportation are not organized in a formal way. The U. S. trade union movement is a weak organizational force whose membership has vastly declined. In practice, trade unions never fought to protect “illegal” foreign workers even when trade unions were stronger. There are legitimate, non-racist concerns that an influx of immigrants will lower wage rates and overburden welfare services. These non-racist concerns join in with the noisier, racist voices.

Opposition to deportation has come largely from religious-spiritual groups stressing human dignity and using places of worship as sanctuaries in which to house people in danger of deportation. This sanctuary movement began in the early 1980s to provide safe havens for Central American refugees fleeing civil armed conflicts. Obtaining refugee status and asylum in the U. S. was difficult. Some 500 congregations joined the sanctuary movement to shelter people based on the medieval laws which protected church building against soldiers. Other congregations used the image of the Underground Railroad which protected runaway slaves prior to the Civil War.

There is now a new sanctuary movement started in the Age of Trump, focused on the protection of undocumented families from the newly created police of the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Woody Guthrie would no doubt lend his singing voice to help those in danger of deportation as he did for the farmers and workers of the 1930s.

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

Kenneth Waltz: The Passing of the Second Generation of the Realists

In Conflict Resolution, The former Soviet Union, United States on May 16, 2022 at 7:00 AM

By René Wadlow

The death of Professor Kenneth Waltz on May 12, 2013 in New York City at the age of 88 marks the start of the passing of the second generation of the realist school in the study of international relations. The first generation was a trio marked by the politics of Europe between the two world wars: E. H. Carr (1), Frederick L. Schuman (2) and Hans Morgenthau (3). The second generation, also a trio, is marked by the start of the Cold War and a bi-polar balance-of-power: Kenneth Waltz (4), Henry Kissinger (5), and Stanley Hoffmann (6).

Waltz was often referred to as a “neorealist” to distinguish him from the writers of the first generation, especially from Hans Morgenthau, but the difference was more a question of age and formative experience than a real difference of approach, although Waltz was critical of Morgenthau’s ‘Germanic’ emphasis on ‘the will to power’ which motivates everyone but especially those in control of state policy.

Kenneth Waltz

Waltz called himself a “structural realist” — a better term for his emphasis on the behavior of states as determined by the structures of the world society rather than by domestic motivations or the personality of state leaders. Waltz attacks “reductionist theories” which explain the foreign policy behavior of states exclusively in terms of causes at the national level of analysis, for example, Lenin’s theory of imperialism because it explains expansionist behavior in terms of the accumulation dynamics of national capitalism.

Because structures change slowly and impose limits to choice, international relations are characterized by continuity. As he notes in the introduction to his Man, The State, and War, “Social scientists, realizing from their studies how firmly the present is tied to the past and how intimately the parts of a system depend upon each other, are inclined to be conservative in estimating the possibilities of achieving a radically better world.” By ‘social scientists’ he was referring particularly to himself. He was critical of those who were arguing that international relations were undergoing a radical transformation because of the growing interdependence of the international economy or the fear of a nuclear war. He maintained that states operate under severe constraints created by the position of a small number of “Great Powers” and thus a balance-of-power system.

Unlike his second-generation colleagues, Henry Kissinger who became an active political actor and Stanley Hoffmann who wrote extensively on current political events, Waltz was nearly exclusively concerned with working on the theoretical implications of the distribution of power and of the resulting balance-of-power. Waltz was critical of those who saw Soviet policy as motivated by Communist ideology or by the personality of its leaders. Waltz stressed that the requirements of state action are imposed by the circumstances in which all states exist. “A theory of international politics can leave aside variations in the composition of states and in the resources and technology they command because the logic of anarchy does not vary with its content.”

Nevertheless, Waltz held that world institutions and institutionalized methods of altering and adjusting interests are important. He placed an emphasis on the skills of diplomats, their ability to analyse situations and to propose adjustments.

For those like myself whose emphasis is on the emerging world society and a world citizen ideology, Waltz’s approach is a constant reminder of the importance of structures which determine processes, world politics as a “self-sustaining system.” I think that we are moving beyond the realpolitik so often linked to a balance-of-power approach. I believe that he underestimated the role of ideas and ideology in world politics and thus largely failed to see the importance of the growth of a cosmopolitan spirit as expressed by world citizens. Nevertheless, Waltz was an important voice during the Cold War years in which U. S. policy makers too often became the ideological mirrors of the Soviets, stressing the need to expand ‘democracy’ and ‘the free world’ as opposed to the Soviets’ ‘socialism’.

Notes

1) E. H. Carr’s most influential work is The Twenty Years’ Crisis (1939). For a good biography of Carr, his approach and also his later work on the history of the Soviet Union, see Charles Jones, E. H. Carr and International Relations (1998).

2) Frederick L. Schuman, International Politics, first published in 1933, with many later editions, constantly revised to take in current events, especially the start of World War II. For his analysis of the world citizen/world federalist movement see his The Commonwealth of Man.

3) Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, first published in 1948 also was revised to highlight events but the basic analysis remained the same. For a good biography with an emphasis on his early years in Germany and Switzerland before World War II, see Christoph Frei, Hans J. Morgenthau: An Intellectual Biography (2001).

4) Kenneth Waltz’s two major theoretical works, written 20 years apart are Man, The State and War (1959) and Theory of International Politics (1979).

5) Henry Kissinger’s theoretical writings are overshadowed by his political activities which he sets out in White House Years (1979) and Years of Upheaval (1982). For a combination of theory and analysis of then current world events, it would be worth reading the editorials in the 1950s that he wrote in Confluence published by Harvard University. It was as editor of Confluence that we exchanged correspondence. I have always thought that he was a first-rate editor.

6) Stanley Hoffmann’s most theoretical work is The State of War (1965). For his combination of theory and analysis of current policies see Gulliver’s Trouble or The Setting of American Foreign Policy (1968) and Dead Ends: American Foreign Policy in the New Cold War (1983).

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

Vital Autonomy for the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Luhansk: The Way Ahead

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, NGOs, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, Track II, UKRAINE, United Nations, United States, World Law on February 9, 2022 at 8:52 AM

By René Wadlow

There are many dimensions to the current tensions on the Ukraine-Donbas-Russia frontiers, both geopolitical and domestic considerations. There are long historic and strategic aspects to the current crisis. Security crises are deeply influenced both by a sense of history and by current perceptions. There have been bilateral discussions between United States (U. S.) and Russian authorities, between Russian and French leaders, between Russian and Chinese leaders, between the Ukrainian leader and a number of others and multilateral discussions within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), within NATO, at the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and within the European Union. For the moment, there has been no de-escalation of tensions nor a lowering of troop levels.

Currently, there is only one permanent structure for multilateral negotiations on the Ukraine tensions – the “Normandy Format” which brings together the representatives of Ukraine and Russia, France, and Germany primarily to negotiate on the status of the separatist People’s Republics.

The Minsk II Agreement of February 12, 2015 agreed that the areas covered by the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics would not be separated from Ukraine but would be given a “Special Status” set out in a new Ukrainian Constitution. However, beyond some rather vague discussion on decentralization, the nature of the Special Status has not been agreed upon, and no Ukrainian government administrative measures have been put into place.

In the period since 2015, the socioeconomic situation in the two People’s Republics has gotten worse. Many people have left either for Ukraine or Russia. There are constant violations of the ceasefire agreements which are monitored by observers of the OSCE. Thus, in their December 15, 2021 report, the OSCE monitors noted that between December 10-12, there were 444 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and 104 in the Luhansk region. However, the freedom of movement of the OSCE observers is restricted. The number of violations, usually exchanges of small arms fire, is probably higher.

Solving the Donbas aspect of the conflict on the basis of a real and vital autonomy and trans-frontier cooperation should be a top priority for action. The Association of World Citizens has always stressed the importance of developing appropriate forms of government as a crucial aspect of the resolution of armed conflicts. The Association has particularly highlighted the possibilities of con-federalism and the need for transfrontier cooperation. The Association was involved at the start of the Abkhazia-Georgia conflict in August 1992 and the first efforts at negotiations carried out in Geneva with representatives from Abkhazia who were in Geneva and officials from the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Thus, we know how a cycle of action-reaction can deepen a conflict and how difficult it is to reestablish structures of government once separation has been established.

The need to progress on the structure of Ukraine stands out sharply at this time when there are real possibilities of escalatory risks. There is a need for confidence-building measures reaching out to different layers of society in a cumulative process. Advances on the Special Status would be an important step in the deescalation of tensions. Discussions on the Special Status must be carried out by those living in Ukraine. However, government representatives as well as nongovernmental organizations in Russia, Germany, and France can also contribute actively. The new German Foreign Minister, the ecologist Annalena Baerbach, coming from a federalist-structured State with many local initiatives possible, may bring new visions to these discussions which are increasingly under way.

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

Ukraine-Donbas-Russian Frontier: Is a Nongovernmental Interposition Peace Team a Possibility?

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, NGOs, Nicaragua, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, Track II, UKRAINE, United Nations, United States on January 23, 2022 at 5:33 PM

By René Wadlow

Despite United States (U. S.)-Russian Federation discussions in Geneva and a full Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting, there seems to be no advance toward a reduction of an estimated 100,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian frontier. There are discussions at the United Nations (UN) Security Council in New York on what could be a U. S.-led response if there were a Russian intervention into Ukraine. While such a Russian intervention seems unlikely, the possibility of such an intervention is being seriously discussed in NATO government circles. Thus, it is opportune for nongovernmental organizations also to discuss possible measures to prevent conflict and reduce tensions.

(C) Taras Gren

One possibility, inspired by the efforts of the Shanti Sena (Peace Army) developed by followers of Mahatma Gandhi in India is to place some nongovernmental teams on the frontier in order to provide an opportunity for all parties to “cool off” and negotiate. One such effort in which I was directly involved as the representative to the UN in Geneva of the Peace Brigades International (PBI) was the effort of a team of the newly created PBI in 1981 on the Nicaragua-Honduras frontier.

At the time, it was thought that U. S. troops stationed in Honduras might cross the frontier to attack the Sandinista-leftist government in Nicaragua or actively help the anti-Sandinista “Contras” to do so. A PBI-related group from California – the Jalapa Brigade, already created – was able to move to the frontier on short notice. At the time that the Jalapa Brigade was put into place, the Ambassador of Nicaragua to the UN in Geneva was a former student of mine, and his brother, also a former student of mine, was the legal advisor to the President of Nicaragua. Through the Ambassador, I was able to inform the Central American Missions to the UN as to the aims and role of the Peace Brigades.

In the end, the U. S. military did not cross the frontier. Perhaps it never intended to do so. It may also have been that the interposition of U. S. civilians with a good number of organizational contacts helped to weigh in the U. S. military decision-making process.

Members of the Gulf Peace Camp

There have been other such interposition efforts. One was the Gulf Peace Team created at the time of the 1990 Iraqi annexation of Kuwait. The aim of the 73-member Peace Team in their statement of purpose was to be an “international multicultural team working for peace and opposing any form of armed aggression by setting up one or more international peace camps between the opposing armed forces. Our object will be to withstand nonviolently any armed aggression by any party to the present Gulf dispute.” However, on January 27, 1991, the peace camp was closed by Iraq, because the authorities had “decided that the continued presence of the camp was a security risk”.

This interposition approach by nongovernmental organizations is logistically and politically very difficult to accomplish. There are economic and logistic resources required and, more importantly, the need to raise enough volunteers who are mature, culturally sensitive, and analytically-minded to achieve a critical mass that would make a difference in the decision-making of the military present. There is also the need to keep unity of purpose within the teams if they have not worked together before.

The 100,000 Russian troops are at the frontier. Can peace team interposition be created quickly?

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

Saber Rattling in the South China Sea

In Asia, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, NGOs, The Search for Peace, United States, World Law on August 13, 2021 at 7:47 AM

By René Wadlow

Six days of Chinese naval maneuvers started on August 6, 2021 near southeast Hainan province in the South China Sea at the same time as warships of the USA, the United Kingdom, Australian Defense Forces ships and those of the Japan Self-Defense Forces are also training in the area. The South China Sea is fast becoming a theater of brinkmanship.

“We view with concern China’s unlawful claim to the entire South China Sea – directly and negatively impacting all the countries in the region from their livelihood, whether it be with fishing or access to natural resources.” said John Aquilino, commander of the U. S. Indo-Pacific Command at the Aspen Security Forum on August 4. The U. S. Commander added that he was concerned by China’s suppression in Hong Kong, human rights issues in Xinjiang, as well as China’s military actions on the border with India. “These are the things that lead me to believe that our execution of integrated deterrence has to occur now with a sense of urgency.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Yi quickly replied that “foreign powers” must stop extending “black hands” in the South China Sea and show “four respects – respect for historic truth, international law, the countries of the region and their agreements”.

China’s Global Times published a harsh editorial on the same lines warning to “follow the current international shipping lanes and stay at least 12 nautical miles away from the Chinese islands and reefs … Stopping such intrusive behavior that violates China’s territorial waters is a struggle China is destined to intensify … Under international law, warships, including those of the U. S. and its allies, have been able to pass through the South China Sea unimpeded. But if those ships want to exert geopolitical pressure and build a wall to contain China along those shipping lines, those warships will face a confrontation from China. And the intensity of the confrontation is bound to increase constantly.”

It is probable that the Cold War-like rhetoric in Washington has encouraged China’s siege mentality. While it is unlikely that there will be a deliberate use of violence by any party, there can be miscalculations and misinterpretations of actions. In addition to China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei all make claims to some of the islands in the South China Sea. Slowly but surely, Beijing has been expanding its strategic influence in the South China Sea. The South China Sea islands and surrounding waters are crucial as potential military platforms, plausible points of strategic surveillance, as well as sites of energy reserve.

It is in the interest of the world society that the tensions concerning the delimitations in the South China Sea be reduced. The current tensions could slip out of control.

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

OMS : Nuages de tempête sur la Covid-19

In Current Events, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, United States, World Law on July 16, 2020 at 9:24 PM

Par René Wadlow

 

Les conséquences étendues de la pandémie de Covid-19 ont conduit à l’analyse des préparatifs et des actions au niveau local, national et international. Nous n’aborderons ici que le niveau international et en particulier les discussions concernant l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) des Nations Unies. Les efforts de l’Union européenne et des différents pays européens méritent également l’attention.

L’OMS a été créée sur la base de l’Organisation de la santé de la Société des Nations, établie en 1923 et qui a fonctionné jusqu’en 1939. Il y a aussi l’expérience du Bureau panaméricain de la Santé qui avait débuté en 1902. Le siège de l’OMS se trouve à Genève, et il y a eu une coopération datant de l’époque de la Ligue avec le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge ainsi qu’avec des fondations privées s’occupant de santé comme la Fondation Rockefeller. Aujourd’hui, la Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates joue un rôle important dans le financement des projets et de la recherche en matière de santé mondiale.

Self-isolation during the coronavirus COVID 19-20 pandemic

L’OMS est entrée en vigueur en avril 1948, lorsque les 26 États requis ont ratifié. Le Canadien Brock Chrisholm a été le premier directeur général et a donné à l’organisation sa réputation de forte direction de la part du Secrétariat. Ce leadership fort a été transmis aux bureaux régionaux semi-autonomes de l’OMS. Le Docteur Gro Harlem Brundtland, ancienne Première Ministre de Norvège devenue Directrice générale en 1998, est un exemple de cette forte tradition de leadership. Un dirigeant fort peut s’employer à éloigner la politique de l’organisation de son travail technique et peut attirer l’attention sur des questions spécifiques.

Les 194 membres de l’OMS sont censés donner un pourcentage spécifique du budget global, connu sous le nom de “contributions obligatoires”, selon une formule conçue en fonction de la capacité de paiement du pays. En outre, il existe des “contributions volontaires” qui servent généralement à financer des projets ou des campagnes sanitaires spécifiques, comme la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA, la distribution de vaccins et les soins de santé maternelle.

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Au moment de la création de l’OMS, d’autres agences spécialisées des Nations Unies et de l’ONU dans son ensemble, les États-Unis d’Amérique (USA) avaient l’économie la plus forte et leur territoire n’avait pas été directement endommagé par la Seconde Guerre mondiale. La contribution des États-Unis est donc élevée, tout comme l’ont été les contributions volontaires du gouvernement américain et les fondations privées américaines.

Les finances donnent le pouvoir politique, à la fois pour influencer les programmes et pour “mettre un veto” à certains efforts tels que les efforts de contrôle des naissances. Les finances donnent également une influence sur la sélection du personnel. Telle est la réalité de la vie des organisations internationales. Si nous examinons l’histoire des agences spécialisées des Nations Unies, nous constatons que les États-Unis, l’URSS, le Japon et, de plus en plus, la Chine ont utilisé leur pouvoir politico-économique pour tenter d’influencer le travail des agences des Nations Unies, parfois en coulisses, parfois plus ouvertement.

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Le 15 mars dernier, l’émission humoristique “120 Minutes” de la Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) parodiait avec talent Georges Brassens pour montrer plusieurs professionnels (chanteur, organisateur de fêtes et joueur de hockey sur glace, suivis d’un prêtre catholique dans son église déjà presque vide habituellement) attristés d’être devenus, à cause de la crise du coronavirus, “Sans public”.

L’actuel président des États-Unis, Donald Trump, n’est pas un acteur “en coulisses”. Sa décision de refuser le financement américain à l’OMS en attendant une révision de la gestion par l’OMS de la pandémie de coronavirus est inopportune et pourrait sérieusement compromettre l’effort de coopération mondiale nécessaire. Cette première menace a été suivie le 29 mai 2020 lorsque le président Trump a annoncé que “nous mettrons fin aujourd’hui à nos relations avec l’OMS”. Il a toutefois ajouté que le financement américain serait réorienté vers d’autres efforts de santé publique.

Les critiques américaines sapent l’autorité de l’actuel directeur général Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus qui avait été Ministre des Affaires Étrangères de l’Éthiopie. Son élection a été activement soutenue par la Chine, et pour ses détracteurs, il est trop favorable aux postes chinois. Toutefois, son expérience de Ministre des Affaires Étrangères a montré qu’on ne peut pas critiquer en public les États puissants.

Après chaque grand défi dans le passé, l’OMS a eu une analyse de ses réponses. Ainsi, les États membres de l’OMS participant à l’Assemblée annuelle de cette année, qui se tient virtuellement, ont adopté par consensus une résolution demandant instamment une étude indépendante des réponses de l’OMS au coranavirus. La résolution proposée par l’Union européenne appelle à une “évaluation impartiale, indépendante et complète” des réponses de l’OMS. De telles évaluations ont lieu après chaque effort majeur de l’OMS. Cette fois, plus de personnes seront attentives aux résultats. L’OMS, comme toutes les grandes institutions multi-étatiques, a ses faiblesses à la fois administratives et dues à l’influence politique des États.

D’où la nécessité d’observations et de propositions non gouvernementales fortes. Ce renforcement des efforts non gouvernementaux pourrait être l’une des conséquences positives de la pandémie.

Le Professeur René Wadlow est Président de l’Association of World Citizens.

Hiroshima Anniversary Day: Developing a Nuclear-weapon Abolition Strategy

In Asia, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, United States, World Law on August 6, 2019 at 8:16 PM

By René Wadlow

“Just prior to the May 2010 Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Ban Ki-moon, then Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) said, “Everyone recognizes the catastrophic danger of nuclear weapons. Just as clearly, we know the threat will last as long as these weapons exist. The Earth’s very future leaves us no alternative but to pursue disarmament. And there is little prospect of that without global cooperation … Momentum is building around the world. Governments and civil society groups, often at odds, have begun working in the common cause. All this work reflects the priorities of our member states, shaped in turn by public opinion. Those who stand with us share the vision of a nuclear-free world. If ever there were a time for the world’s people to demand change, to demand action beyond the cautious half measures of the past, it is now.”

Thus, governments and civil society groups, often at odds on other questions, might be able to set out a strategy for progress toward a nuclear-weapon-free world. There has always been an ebb and flow of popular interest in eliminating nuclear weapons from the world, and currently, there seems to be a rising tide of activity. Men who did little to curb nuclear weapons when they were in power are now saying that something should be done: ‘The only sure way to prevent nuclear proliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear war is to rid the world of nuclear weapons.’ Since peace-making depends on coalition building, we cannot belittle these new-found friends.

There have always been at least two major aspects of nuclear issues — the one is to prevent the proliferation to new states, the other is to reduce the number of warheads among the existing nuclear-weapon states.

A strategy which has influenced popular action on nuclear weapons has been whether to place an emphasis on the goal of total abolition or on partial steps such as the ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Those working for partial measures have always said that abolition was the ultimate aim, but in practice, the partial measures always became the focus of action. I recall that when I was in college, I used to walk to relax and would meet from time to time Albert Einstein walking from his office to his nearby home. I would say ‘Good Evening, Prof Einstein, and he would reply ‘Good Evening, Young Man’. Although I had no idea then or now what his theories were about, I knew that they had something to do with atoms, and he had come out early for nuclear control. ‘One World or None’ was the slogan of the late 1940s. Einstein’s final appeal shortly before his death was the Russell-Einstein Manifesto (1955) with its call to think “not as members of this or that nation, continent or creed, but as human beings”.

When I used to see Einstein, I was already active on the partial measures of the time — an end to testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. I had followed the lead of Senator Estes Kefauver who was the first United States (U. S.) political leader to attack actively nuclear testing. As Kefauver had taken on the link between politics and organized crime, he could take on also the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission which was deaf to all calls to prevent nuclear fallout from entering the food chain. It took till 1963 to get the tests to move below ground, but the mid-1950s nuclear testing campaign was the entry point of my generation into nuclear issues.

Senator Estes Kefauver

I tend still to stress limited steps within the framework of regional settlements of disputes. There seems to me to be three opportunities to press ahead:

1.

The first and easiest because it involves only two states without major conflict issues is a reduction in the number of nuclear warheads of the USA and Russia — the number of 1,000 each seems to be on the table. It is still too many and strategic thinking in the two countries is not very clear what they are for, but this is a case where ‘fewer is better’, so let us push for this sharp reduction while we try to see what role the USA and Russia can usefully play in the world society, as well as reducing tensions between them.

2.

The second opportunity is for a nuclear-weapon free zone in the Middle East. The elimination of Israeli nuclear weapons and no nuclear-weapon development in Iran would help reduce Middle East tensions. Mohammed El Baradei, former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been calling for this Middle East nuclear weapon free zone for some time. However, there will have to be strong popular pressure for such a zone as neither the Israeli nor the Iranian government seems to be moving fast in the direction.

3.

The third opportunity for non-governmental suggestions is to participate in the preparations for the 2020 Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Review conferences held every five years have been the most favorable to Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) of the arms control negotiations. I had chaired the NGOs attending the 1975 and 1980 reviews and with the help of Ambassador Garcia Robles of Mexico, the NGOs had the ability to distribute proposals and to interact fully, though not to address the conference. Our proposals were widely discussed and even presented by one government as its own. At the 1980 review when no government text could be agreed upon, the NGO draft, largely written by Homer Jack, an active world citizen, was seriously discussed at a midnight meeting of the Conference Bureau, but wording was not the real issue. After the 1985 Review, which nearly went down in flames thanks to charges and outer-charges between Iraq and Iran, at that time in war, I gave up, having repeated too often the Preamble and Article VI. which hold out the promise of a disarmed world under effective international control and stresses that “in accordance with the Charter, States must refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force.”

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

The Death Penalty and Human Dignity

In Being a World Citizen, Human Rights, NGOs, Uncategorized, United Nations, United States, World Law on October 10, 2018 at 7:36 PM

By René Wadlow

October 10 is the International Day Against the Death Penalty. Since the end of World War II, there has been a gradual abolition of the death penalty due to the rather obvious recognition that putting a person to death is not justice. Moreover, on practical grounds, the death penalty has little impact on the rate of crime in a country. A number of States have a death penalty for those involved in the drug trade. To the extent that the drug trade can be estimated statistically, the death penalty has no measurable impact on the trade − a trade usually linked to economic or geopolitical factors.

October 10 can also be a day to oppose all organized killings by State agents. In addition to State-sponsored official executions, usually carried out publicly or at least with official observers, a good number of countries have State-sponsored “death squads” − persons affiliated to the police or to intelligence agencies who kill “in the dark of the night” − unofficially. These deaths avoid a trial which might attract attention or even a “not guilty” decision. A shot in the back of the head is faster. The number of “targeted killings” has grown. In many cases, the bodies of those killed are destroyed and so death is supposed but not proved, as has been the case of students protesting in Mexico. United States assassinations with drones has also been highlighted both in the United Nations human rights bodies and domestically. However, the drone “strikes” continue, and there is very little legislative opposition.

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A good deal of recent concern has been expressed on the death sentence in Saudi Arabia by crucifixion. There is perhaps some chance of a change of penalty due to more historically-minded Saudis. The most widely known person crucified is Jesus. As the Roman court records have been lost, we have only the account written by his friends who stressed that he was innocent of the crimes for which he was condemned. His crucifixion has taken on cosmic dimensions. “Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?” The Saudis try to avoid some of the Jesus parallel by beheading the person before putting the rest of the body on the cross, but the image of the crucified as innocent is wide spread.

October 10 is an occasion for us to stress the importance of human dignity. Our efforts against executions need to be addressed both to governments and to those state-like nongovernmental armed groups such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The abolition of executions and the corresponding valuation of human life are necessary steps in developing a just world society.

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

Korean Anniversary: Confidence-building Measures Still Needed

In Asia, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Korean Peninsula, NGOs, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, United States on September 16, 2018 at 11:46 PM

By René Wadlow

Sunday, September 9 was the 70th anniversary of the creation of North Korea. As has been usual in recent years there was a very highly-structured ceremonial parade. Such mass events are used to convey policy priorities to its citizens and to the outside world. This year, the parade was less aggressively military than in the past and might be interpreted as placing an emphasis on socio-economic development.

It is never easy from the outside to decipher North Korean symbolism. It may even be difficult for North Korean citizens to understand the message. There will be later in September another summit meeting with the President of South Korea and we may see more clearer then if advances in tension reduction can be made.

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In the meantime, those of us involved in tension reduction work must keep knowing on doors to see if any will open or to put messages in bottles to see if any will reach decision-makers. The Association of World Citizens (AWC) has stressed that there may be a possibility of small steps that build confidence between the two Korean States and that do not overly worry the USA and China who watch events closely and who may do more than watch. It is unlikely that any progress will be made in the foreseeable future concerning demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula or unification. Small steps are probably the ‘order of the day’. However, Track II – informal discussions which are not negotiations but a clarification of possible common interests and areas of joint action – can be helpful.

Track II efforts have not been on a scale to quell tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile advances, and the saber rattling of governments has done nothing to reduce tensions. “Fire and fury like the world has never seen” is probably not the vocabulary that leads to negotiations.

Time Is Running Out for Water: Ban Ki-moon

It is hard to know how seriously to take the saber rattling, but the sound is loud enough and the sabers are sharp enough that calmer spirits need to propose confidence-building measures. The AWC had proposed to the then Secretary-General of the United Nations (U. N.), Ban Ki-Moon to have a U.N.-led conference to transform the Korean War Armistice of 1953 into a Korean Peace Treaty. Such a Peace Treaty would confirm the international legitimacy of the two Korean States while not preventing at a later date a con-federation or other form of re-unification. Such a conference and Peace Treaty could play an important role in reducing regional tensions. However, such a conference would require a good deal of negotiations as all conditions would have to be agreed upon in advance. Diplomatic conferences “bless” efforts made before in private. A successful diplomatic conference rarely starts from zero.

Another avenue of confidence-building measures is what the University of Illinois psychology professor Charles Osgood called GRIT – Graduated Reciprocation in Tension Reduction. He recommended an incremental series of conciliatory unilateral initiatives. They should be varied in nature, announced ahead of time without bargaining and continued only in response to comparable actions from the other party – a sort of “arms race in reverse”. Unilateral initiatives should, whenever possible, take advantage of mutual self-interest, mutual self-restraints and opportunities for cooperative enterprise.

As Osgood wrote, “the real problem is not the unavailability of actions that meet the criterion of mutual self-interest, but rather the psychological block against seeing them that way. The operation of psycho-logic on both sides makes it difficult for us to see anything that is good for them as being anything other than bad for ourselves. This is the familiar ‘if they are for it, we must be against it’ mechanism” (1)

Osgood directed his proposals for dealing with tension reduction so as to ease fear, foster more circumspect decisions in which many alternatives are considered, and modify the perceptual biases that fan the flames of distrust and suspicion. The most favorable feature of the GRIT approaches that it offers a means whereby one party can take the initiative in international relations rather than constantly reacting to the acts of others.

GRIT efforts were carried out concerning Korea in the early 1990s between Presidents of the USA and North Korea but rarely since. Currently, the governments of Russia and China have proposed a GRIT-type proposal of a “double freeze” – a temporary freeze on North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in return for a sharp reduction of U. S. military presence in South Korea.

A “double freeze” may be too large a shift at this stage. The AWC has proposed such steps as increased family contacts, cultural exchanges, increased food aid to the Democratic People’s Republic, a lessening of economic sanctions and an increase in trade.

There is a need to halt the automatic reaction to every provocation, and to “test the waters” for a reduction of tensions. Real negotiations may take some time to put into place, but GRIT-type unilateral measures are a possibility worth trying.

(1) Charles E. Osgood. An Alternative to War or Surrender (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1962)

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

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