Month: <span>November 2021</span>

Conscience and Belief Education of World Citizenships.

Upholding Freedom of Conscience and Belief.

Featured Image: Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

 
25 November is the date anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly resolution in 1981 to proclaim the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The Declaration is a development of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlighting freedom or thought, conscience, religion or belief. The 1981 Declaration is now recognized as articulating the fundamental right of freedom of conscience, religion, and belief.
 
The efforts for such a U.N. declaration began in 1962. Two conventions were proposed by African States, many of whom had joined the U.N. after their 1960 independence. One convention was to deal with racism. Since racism in the minds of many delegates was largely limited to apartheid in South Africa, work on a racism convention progressed quickly and was adopted in 1965. Freedom of religion was more complex. The effort was led by Liberia, but ran into East-West Cold War devisions. Work on a convention was largely completed by 1967 when the Six Day War in the Middle East broke out, making religious issues all the more sensitive at the U.N.
 
Human Rights
Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

you might be interested on Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

Thought, Conscience, Religion or Belief.

 
One issue was that there was no agreed upon definition as to what is “religion”, thus the longer term used of “thought, conscience, religion or belief”.
 
Work was still slow. Thus, it was decided to change the proposal from a “Convention” which is a treaty which must be ratified by the parliament of the Member State to a “Declaration” which can be voted by the U.N. General Assembly.
 
The second modification was to change the declaration from a positive one – “freedom of religion or belief” to a negative one “elimination of intolerance and discrimination” based on religion or belief.
Work on the Declaration had begun at the U.N. in New York. When the human rights bodies of the U.N. moved in 1977 to Geneva, a working group on the Declaration was set up in which representatives on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Association of World Citizens, were particularly active. By the summer of 1981, the drafting of the Declaration was complete. The text was sent on to the delegates in New York and was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on 25 November 1981.
 
General AsemblyBasil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
After 1981, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (become since the Human Rights Council) created the post of Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion in 1985. The post continues today. The Declaration has given NGOs an agreed upon standard to which to hold governments. The 1981 Declaration cannot be implemented by U.N. bodies alone. Beginning with the shift of the U.N. human rights secretariat to Geneva and the closer cooperation with NGO representatives, the role of NGOs is more often written into U.N. human rights resolutions, calling on NGO cooperation, education and fact-finding.
 
Thus in the 1981 Declaration there is a paragraph which:
 

“requests the Secretary-General in this context to invite interested non-governmental organizations to consider what further role they could envisage playing in the implementation of the Declaration.”

 
Thus, the Association of World Citizens has continued to play an active role in the U.N. human rights bodies when the right of belief and conscience has been under attack in different parts of the world. Our policy has been to take a lead when a community under pressure was not part of an NGO in consultative status with representatives in Geneva who could speak for them.
 
In practice, the World Council of Churches speaks for Protestant and to a lesser degree for the Orthodox Churches. The Vatican, which is considered a State, participates actively in human rights bodies and speaks for Roman Catholic churches. Thus, the Association of World Citizens has, in recent years, raised the issues of the Mandaeans, also known as Sabian Mandaeans, in Iraq, the Yazidi in Iraq and Syria, the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar (Burma), the Baha’i in Yemen after having raised starting in 1980 the persecution of the Baha’i in Iran.
 
Religion

The Falun Gong.

 
Starting in 1985, there being no active Buddhist organization active at the U.N. in Geneva at the time, we raised the condition of religious liberty of the Tibetans in Tibet. This was followed by presentations of the fate of the Falun Gong movement in China. They are basically Taoist but consider themselves as a separate movement or belief. There was no Taoist NGO at the U.N. that I knew of.
 
There is a worldwide erosion of the freedom of belief and conscience in many parts of the world causing large-scale suffering, grave injustice, and refugee flows. Belief and conscience are efforts on the part of individuals and communities to understand and to seek to live in harmony with the laws of Nature and often to communicate their understanding and devotion to others.
 
The anniversary date of 25 November should be an opportunity to consider how to strengthen freedom of conscience and belief.
 
The Falun Gong
 Falun Gong members exercise in Sydney, 2021. By Kgbo, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Indigenous Rapprochement of Cultures.

The Protection of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples

Featured Image: Big Pow-Wow with traditional costumes from East coast First Nations of Canada. By Marc-Lautenbacher, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

While both humanization and dehumanization are real alternatives, only the first is man’s vocation. This vocation is constantly negated. It is thewarted by injustice, exploitation, oppression, and the violence of the oppressors; it is affirmed by the yearning of the oppressed for freedom and justice, and by their struggle to recover their lost humanity.

Paulo Freire.

Photo of Paulo Freire (1977). By Slobodan Dimitrov, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention.

The United Nations General Assembly has set 9 August as the International Day of Indigenous People. However, the term ‘indigenous’ is ambiguous since at some point nearly every group came from somewhere else at an earlier time. Thus when the first UN effort was undertaken in the International Labour Organization in 1957, the ILO Convention (N°107) was called the “Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention”. It is not always possible to say who is ‘indigenous’ but it is usually easy enough to know if a group has a tribal structure.

For many years, indigenous and tribal peoples were the forgotten stepchildren of the intergovernmental organizations dealing with human rights. Yet they needed protection at least as much as those on whom the political limelight had focused.

The world community is filled with many different types of collective actors: clans, tribes, castes, ethnic groups, cities, races, social classes, religious organizations, nation-states, multi-state alliances for military or economic goals, transnational corporations and associations. Each is the creation of individuals who have grouped together – or have been grouped together – to achieve goals considered common to the group’s members. All such collective groups have techniques to socialize new members to share the common values, to accept the ideology and beliefs of the tribe, the nation-state or the association.

This socialization process goes so deeply that a person’s sense of identity becomes associated with these collective identities. The family passes on a sense of belonging to a collective identity, the school, the army, the church, the political process and institutions – each propose a sense of group purpose.

Image by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tribes and Clans.

Yet none of these groups is static and unchanging. Even clans and tribes whose members often consider that they have a common ancestor do in fact change. Tribes merge and divide; new identities are formed: new ancestors are created to justify the new grouping.

Some types of collective belonging are more easily left than others. One can move relatively easily from a city and take on the character, the values and the goals of a new city. Social mobility can produce changes in social class, and even caste lines become blurred. Persons change nationality or acquire new nationalities as frontiers are modified. Race is less easily changed but definitions of what constitutes a race do change. Ethnic identity is often associated with birth, but parents can belong to different ethnic communities, although the child is usually raised as belonging to the more dominant group. However the socialization process of group identity goes to the level of sub-conscious behaviour and is not easily set aside.

Today, the nation-state claims to be the dominant collective association – setting the boundaries of loyalty and identity. The state claims the right to set out the major collective goals and values. Through laws, the state claims the right to set out the rules by which other collective entities may pursue their goals; through taxation the state draws the resources to further the goals it has set, and the state claims to have the only legitimate use of violence to punish those who break the laws and rules it has set.

There have always been tensions between these collective groups for their spheres of goal-setting and value-setting have overlapped. Thus there have been tensions between religious organizations and the state as to who should set what goals and the means to achieve these goals. There have also been tensions between classes and the state when it was felt that the state was dominated by another economic class who used its power within state institutions not for the good of all but only to advance class interests. The same is true of other collective units – races or ethnic groups – excluded from power within state institutions.

Madhesi Istet Woiche (aka William Hulsey) 1923. By Big Band Hot Spring, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Nation-States.

Today in many parts of the world those most excluded from power within state institutions are people living in alternative structures of authority, goal-setting and rule-making: persons living in tribal societies. Tribal societies predated most of today’s nation-states. A tribal society usually has all the same functions as the nation-state: it sets out membership, loyalties, common goals and rules of behaviour. It has sanctions against those breaking the laws of the tribe and has – or had- the monopoly of the legitimacy of using violence against those breaking the laws. Tribes are, in fact, more realistically “nation-states”
If one defines nation as a common language, a common history and a common will to act together.

Thus because the tribal society is the closest in function to that of the nation-state, it is also the most feared. Tribes are institutions with whom it is difficult to compromise because they have the same presumptions as the state. It is relatively easy for a government to offer higher wages to the industrial worker or higher prices to the farmer as social classes do not claim to carry out in an alternative way the functions of the state. It is more of a challenge to the state’s image of its role to allow tribal societies to set out a land policy or fishing rights or trans-frontier trading rights because these activities conflict directly with the functions that the government has set for itself.

The Reservations.

Thus, there has been a long history of the state destroying alternative institutions of governance on its territory. The nation-states of Europe were built upon the ruins of feudal institutions as much of Asia was built on the destruction of local rulers. We see the pattern today as we watch traditional chiefs in Africa loose their authority to the heads of state and the military. In the Americas, many of the indigenous tribal societies were destroyed. Others were pushed into areas that those who controlled the government did not want – the “reservations” – of Canada and the USA. In Latin America and Asia, there is still active struggle going on between those trying to preserve their tribal institutions and homelands and the state which claims complete authority over all its territory and who often wish to put new settlers on tribal lands.

Three Native American women, standing, full-length, facing front, holding beaded bags, Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Wasco County, Oregon. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The amount of violence and suffering is considerable. Slowly the fate of tribal societies has come to the attention of the United Nations. The UN was set up to facilitate relations between nations-states. However, because wide-spread violations of individual rights had been the consequences of the Second World War, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1948. The aim of the Declaration is to stress the rights of the individual – a natural consequence of the philosophy of the drafters. The rights of collective bodies with which the drafters were familiar: trade unions, churches, professional associations are also protected. However, tribal societies were not particularly thought of as one sees by reading the drafting negotiations leading to the 1948 Universal Declaration. Thus, the Universal Declaration protects the rights of all individuals – including, of course, individuals living in tribal societies – but there is no direct recognition of the functions of tribal societies.

It was not until the first World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, held at the UN in Geneva in August 1978, that certain aspects of discrimination against indigenous populations were included in the Programme of Action. In 1983, the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations started meeting in Geneva which led to the growing attention being given to indigenous and tribal peoples. There is still much work to be done as the process of humanization of those now oppressed and marginalized will come about only through radical changes in the outlook of those now holding power and authority.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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World Citizenship Education of World Citizenships.

Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship.

Featured Image: Photo by  Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.

The Association of World Citizens Promotes Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship.
Rene Wadlow
.

The Association of World Citizens stresses that our oneness with humanity and our acceptance of the whole planet as our home involves a process of change both in the attitudes of individuals and in the policies of States.

Humanity is clearly moving towards participation in the emerging World Society. An awareness of the emerging World Society and preparation for full and active participation in the emerging World Society is a necessary element of education at all levels, from primary schools, through university and adult education.

The Association of World Citizenship stresses that a World Citizens is one: 

  • Aware of the wider world and has a sense of his role as a world citizen;
  •  respects and values diversity;
  •  has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally;
  •  is outraged by social injustice;
  •  is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place;
  •  participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global.

The Association of World Citizens believes that World Citizenship is based on rights, responsibility and action.

The rights and freedoms are set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. These UN-sponsored human rights treaties are the basis of world law which deals directly with individuals and not just with States.

In most cases, there are procedures that exist for the redress of violations of these rights at the national, regional, and UN levels. These rights should enable all persons to participate effectively in national, regional and the world society.

The idea of responsibility has been often discussed within the United Nations, but it has been impossible to set out agreed-upon obligations. Rather, a sense of responsibility toward the Planet and toward others is left to the individual’s conscience and moral sense. Nevertheless, a sense of responsibility, an ethical concern for social justice, and the dignity of humanity is central to the values of a world citizen.

Action is at the heart of the attitude of a vibrant world citizen.

Action must be based on three pillars: knowledge, Analysis and Skills.

Knowledge:

Background knowledge, a sense of modern history, of world trends, and issues of ecologically-sound development is fundamental. As one can never know everything about issues that require action, one needs to know where to find information and to evaluate its quality for the actions one wants to undertake.

Analysis:

It is important to be able to analyse current trends and events, to place events in their context, to understand the power relations expressed in an event. One needs to try to understand if an event is a “one-time only” occurrence or if it is part of a series, an on-going process, if it is a local event or if it is likely to happen in other parts of the world as well.

Analysis is closely related to motivation. If from one’s analysis, one sees a possibility for creative action alone or with others, one will often act. If from analysis, it seems that little can be done as an individual, then one can urge a government to act. The degree of personal involvement will usually depend on the results of the analysis of a situation.

Skills:

Political skills are needed to make an effective world citizen. A wide range of skills is useful such as negotiation, lobbying, networking, campaigning, letter writing, communications technology and preparing for demonstrations. These are all essential skills to join with others for a strong world citizen voice in world politics. Some of these skills can be taught by those having more experience, for experience is the best teacher. It is by networking to new individuals and groups that one learns the potentials and limits of networking.

In our period of rapid social and political change, the past cannot provide an accurate guide to the future. Anticipation and adaptability, foresight and flexibility, innovation and intuition, become increasingly essential tools for creative political action.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Beauty Education of World Citizenships.

In Beauty, We are United.

Featured Image: Picture by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

By Rene Wadlow.

In Beauty creates unity and the deepest sense of love. Beauty gives birth within us to gratitude, harmony, and a sense of service. We sometimes limit beauty to the field of art, but real beauty can express itself in any avenue of life. It can express itself in politics, in education, in human relations and communication.

The United Nations General Assembly in resolution A/RES.62/90 proclaimed the year 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures. Cultures encompass not only the arts and humanities; but also different ways of living together, value systems and traditions. Thus 2010 was the start of real opportunities for a continuing dialogue among cultures. Thus we must build upon the projects developed during 2010 and go further.

It is true that to an unprecedented degree people are meeting together in congresses, conferences and universities all over the globe. However, in themselves, such meetings are not dialogues and do not necessarily lead to rapprochement of cultures. There is a need to reach a deeper level. Reaching such deeper levels takes patience, tolerance, the ability to take a longer view and creativity. It is to reach this deeper level of understanding among cultures that the Association of World Citizens works.

There is a growing realization that art reflects the emotional and spiritual state of the artist; and that a work of art vibrates with the energy of the person who created it. An artist is often sensitive to the historical-social situation in which he finds himself. Art is a kind of mirror making visible what is invisible in us and the life of our time. Art is an unfailing source of increasing human awareness.

Never Again.

This past century of often violent conflicts and nightmares is also reflected in art – an art which can be death ridden, pathological and sadistic. Viewing such art we may say “never again”, but we do not grow in stature or greatness. We recognize that such art is a reflection of our time of transition, that it is impermanent, but it rarely helps us to move to the next stage of spiritual growth which should reflect beauty, meaning and spirit. Art is a vital medium of the coming world culture. It will bring joy to the hearts of the world.

Julian Huxley, the first Director General of UNESCO, stressed that a new cosmopolitan spirit requires respect for the freedom, dignity and integrity of the person. Huxley said:

“By working together, we must lay a conscious basis for a new world order, the next step in our human evolution.”

Today, more than ever before, we live in a world society. We need first to be aware of these world-wide links and then we need to use such links consciously so that there are positive outcomes. These trans-national networks for positive action are building a world civilization. As we develop a world civilization, we also grow in awareness of all previous cultures and civilizations which make up the building blocks of the world society. We must be open to the literature, the music, the art of the whole world. It is through sharing that each individual grows, and it is by sharing on a world scale that we create a world civilization of harmony.

Julian Huxley (1964). By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Therefore, the Association of World Citizens has encouraged the use of literature, music and dance, painting and the creation of gardens as ways to develop a consciousness of world unity and beauty. This is an ongoing process, and we hope that many will join in. Evolution and progress depend on the continually increasing power to respond to beauty and to create beauty. Clarity and simplicity are what the heart is waiting for, and the efforts of world citizens are directed to sharing expressions of beauty. 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Human Rights UN: Growth of World Law.

Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.
Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In human history, there have been periods when there is a collective response to new challenges; and thus new ways of organizing thought and society. All do not respond at the same speed nor in the same way. Those who have power and wealth due to the old structures are often reluctant to change. Thus, today, some government leaders still see the world in older structural terms – as a collection of relatively independent and autonomous nation-states – a guiding social framework which had served humanity well for several hundred years after the end of the European feudal wars. Yet now, that nation-state framework is not adequate.

Declaration of the Essential Rights of Man.

We already live in a world society bound through communications and economy to a common destiny. Thus there is a need for a universalistic ethic, one that englobes all of humanity. A foundation of this universalistic ethic is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly meeting in Paris, December 1948. As early as the 1945 San Francisco Conference to draft the UN Charter, a proposal to embody a ‘Declaration of the Essential Rights of Man’ was put forward, but it was shelved because it required more detailed consideration than was possible at that time.

Within the framework of the rights set out in the Universal Declaration, there has been a steady growth of world law with human rights conventions and treaty bodies that monitor their application. Among the most important of these conventions are the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Jawaharlal Nehru at the UN General Assembly, New York, 1948. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Universal World Citizen.

Human rights are universal because the subject of human rights is the universal world citizen and not the political citizen as defined by state citizenship. Human rights inaugurate a new kind of citizenship, the citizenship of humanity. Human rights gives people the sense that world law belongs to them.

In order to affirm these human rights, there has been a dynamic growth of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dealing with human rights, a growth involving the expansion of established organizations as well as the birth of many new organizations. NGOs have become indispensable to the human rights movement through their characteristic activities: monitoring, investigation and reporting, lobbying national governments and the UN, educating the public and coming to the defense of individuals when dealing with courts or intergovernmental bodies.

As Javier Perez de Cuellar, then UN Secretary-General, has said:

“Our age which has often been so cruel, can now pride itself on having witnessed the birth of a universal human rights movement. In all walks of life, brave individuals are standing up for their brothers who have been reduced to silence by oppression or poverty. Their struggle has transcended all frontiers, and their weapon is knowledge. Defending human rights today means above all bringing the most secret crimes to light. It means trying to find out and daring to speak out with complete objectivity, something which requires courage and occasionally, even heroism…The United Nations is cognizant that for human rights to be more fully recognized and respected, the awareness and support of all are required.”

Arrival at Schiphol of UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar. By Rob Bogaerts / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thus NGOs such as the Association of World Citizens are on the frontlines of building a new world society based on human rights.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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United Nations UN: Growth of World Law.

The United Nations as One

Featured Image: Photo by Brandi Alexandra on Unsplash.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

” The outer message of the United Nations is peace.
The inner message is Oneness.
Peace – we strive to structure;
Oneness – we manifest.”

Dag Hammarshjold has written that the United Nations was:

“the beginning of an organic process through which the diversity of peoples and their governments are struggling to find common ground upon which they can live together in the one world which has been thrust upon us before we were ready.”

Basically, the function of the UN is to create consensus (being of one mind) on crucial world issues. Such consensus-building is slow, and it is done by repeating endlessly in resolutions of the General Assembly and other UN bodies, year after year, the same idea until it becomes common place. Slowly national governments align their policies upon this common core as non-governmental organizations and the media take up the issues – sometimes a little ahead of governments and sometimes only later.

Dag Hammarskjöld (1950s). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.

In 60 years, there have been six issues which have moved from the stage of the ideas of a few to become common policy. This evens out to an idea per decade, and the UN has tried to push “theme decades” with only limited success as we see from the current “UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.”

I see the six ideas as follows:

  • 1. The end of direct colonialism. There grew from the start of the UN until the mid-1960s the idea that colonial administration had ended its usefulness as a form of government. The end of colonialism owes much to the UN system, though, of course, inequality and domination, the signs of colonial status, have not been overcome.

  • 2. Apartheid as a bad structure for South Africa and for other countries tempted by similar structures of racial division was a theme of many resolutions and speeches. Slowly, the image of a multi-racial and multi-cultural society took hold, encouraged by enlightened leadership at the national level.

  • 3. There are basic human rights and these should be respected. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the Preamble to the UN Charter are the two lasting documents of the UN and stand as the guide for common action.

  • 4. Closely related to the idea of human rights but needing a special effort at consensus building is the idea that women are equal to men and should be so treated. Although the idea is obvious, both the UN and national governments have found it difficult to put into place.

  • 5. The ecological balance of the world is in danger and needs remedial action. The ecological efforts of the UN began in 1971 and are enshrined in the “Covenant with Nature” – a text of equal importance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although not as well known.

  • 6. There should be a Palestinian state. From the 1947 partition plan to today, this idea has been repeated. There is a broad consensus, but such a state has not been created. Without the constant discussion in the UN, the Israel-Palestine tensions would have become a bilateral issue of interest to few other states, as the issue of Kashmir, created at the same time, has faded from the UN stage to become an India-Pakistan issue.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948. By UN, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There is now a seventh idea, increasingly articulated but not yet manifested in action.

  • The idea is that there is a relationship between the goals of the UN – an idea often stressed by Kofi Annan during his period as Secretary-General: the need to accept or acknowledge the indivisible links between security, development, and human rights. “It is clear that security cannot be enjoyed without development, that development cannot be enjoyed without security, and neither can be enjoyed without respect for human rights.”

Many of us as NGO representatives have tried to push other ideas within the UN system, especially disarmament and improved techniques of conflict resolution, without success. Today, the UN has little impact on issues of violence, but no other organization does either.

Thus we have violence and a good number of tension areas where greater violence may break out. Violence-reduction is probably the chief task facing the new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. There is little common ground on what can be done to reduce violence and settle conflicts peacefully. We must not underestimate the time and difficulty that it takes to build consensus within the UN, but I believe that violence-reduction (sometimes called peace) is the next “big idea” whose time has come to the UN.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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United Nations Appeals

The United Nations: The Reflection of the World Society.

Featured Image Photo by Shinobu in Pexels.

By Rene Wadlow.

In 1993, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote:

“From the outset of my mandate, I have been convinced that the structure of the Organization must mirror, as closely as possible, the tasks it is assigned to undertake. An institution must reflect the objectives it pursues.”

He went on to stress the vast challenges of famine, drought, AIDS, civil wars, uprooted and displaced populations and human misery in many parts of the world. Thus Boutros-Ghali proposed measures to promote coordination and greater cooperation with non-governmental organizations.

All major problems and preoccupations concerning our planet are reflected in the discussions and studies of the United Nations. Such important challenges as preserving our environment, our cultural diversity, and our heritage of our past are under consideration in different parts of the UN system. All of us can take courage and hope in these efforts of the human community to solve environmental and social problems.

Through the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies, governments and people can obtain a planetary view of the human environment. Within the UN system, we can evaluate progress in issues of health, food, industry, and housing.

World cooperation has become a powerful asset, brought about by the deep forces which are at work in the present phase of evolution. To hold the human family together, to permit the further ascent, to prevent it from losing ground and falling into the abyss of despair, we must have a constant vision, a dream for the human family. The development of peace, justice, and cooperation rests largely in the hands of the people whop make up the 192 member States and the over 2000 non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN such as the Association of World Citizens.

Through the UN, bridges are being built. We are learning from each other. We are making constant progress in human relations. We are entering one of the most fascinating and challenging eras of human evolution. In order to meet this challenge we must be able to rely upon a vastly increased number of people with a world view. Developing such a world view is a major aim of the Association of World Citizens. The goal of the Association is the creation of a world in which the rich diversity of cultures exists together in an atmosphere marked by understanding, appreciation, and solidarity. A spirit of world citizenship builds on other aspects of personal identity such as gender, family, community and nationality. We strive to restore the great moral force of love, compassion and hope which is at the root of human progress. 

Boutros Boutros Ghali at Naela Chohan’s art exhibition for the 2002 International Women’s Day at UNESCO in Paris. By Naelachohanboutrosghali.jpg: عثمان وقاص چوہان.Uchohan at en.wikipediaderivative work: Bff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Education Education of World Citizenships.

Education for Active World Citizenship

Featured Image: Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

The Education currently  there is growing attention both in scholarly;  and popular writing with the process of globalization. Globalization is an empirical process of world integration driven by a variety of economic, cultural, political, and ideological forces as seen in such areas as market expansion;  a global production pattern as well as cultural homogenisation.

However; In the fields of economics, politics, technology, environment and health;  we see greater collaboration and interdependence. Now international conferences;  common trade agreements and multinational projects are striving to find solutions to long-standing difficulties;  and to promote development in areas, where the problems have become too great to be resolved by a single State.

Nevertheless; we are learning, out of necessity, that competition has its limits. To give one example, many of the issues in trade negotiations;  which go on in Geneva are about labour standards, environmental policies and human rights (such as products fabricated by child labour).

These are all deeply domestic matters;  which have now become part of international affairs. Has education been changing as quickly as the world economy?. How are we preparing children to meet the demands of the world society?.

 

What role are schools playing in the formation of active world citizens able to make real contributions to the creation of a more peaceful society?

Education is uniquely placed to help deal with the major problems facing the world society: violent conflict, poverty, the destruction of the natural environment, and other fundamental issues touching human beings everywhere.

Education provides information;  skills and helps to shape values and attitudes. Yet many children fall outside formal education. Some 113 million school-age children are out of school;  and some 875 million adults are illiterate.

This is evidence of the fact that the size;  and complexity of education for all are too great for governments alone to address;  even with the best of intentions and effort.

Education is not limited to the formal school system.

It is true that education is not limited to the formal school system. There are many agents of education: family, media, peers, and associations of all sorts. Nevertheless, schools play a central role, and people expect schools to be leaders in the educational process.

Unfortunately;  there are times when schools are left alone as the only conscious instrument of education. Therefore;  teachers need to analyse;  how other agents of society contribute to the educational process or;  more negatively, may hinder the educational process or promote destructive attitudes and values.

Education

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

Education has two related aims.

One is to help the student to function in society, be it the local, the national, and the world society.

The other aim is to help in the fullest development of the individual’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual capacities. There are three related ways to help prepare students for a fast-changing world in which people, ideas, goods and services increasingly cross State frontiers. These ways are related to:

  1.  Skills.

  2. Content.

  3. Values and Attitudes.

There is a need to teach those skills needed to be able to function effectively in the world: skills of goal setting, analysis, problem solving, research, communication, and conflict-resolution skills. We need to place more emphasis on communication skills in our schools;  with an emphasis on personal expression through language and the arts.

Opportunities Needs.

Children need opportunities to acquire skills in writing, speech, drama, music, painting;  and other arts in order to find their own voices and expressions.

The second area of importance concerns the content of education;  with an emphasis on modern history and geography, ecology, economics, civics, and the history of science and technology.

There is also a need to organize a curriculum through the use of broad themes such as interdependence, change, complexity, culture and conflict.

A Global Society.

The third area concerns values and attitudes needed for living in a global society: self-confidence in one’s own capacity, concern and interest in others;  an openness to the cultural contributions of other societies.

There needs to be a willingness to live with complexity;  to refuse easy answers or to shift blame to others. In practice;  a good teacher makes a personalized combination of all these elements.

One must be realistic in evaluating the difficulties of restructuring educational systems;  to make them future oriented and open to the world.

A Global Society

Photo by Cameron Casey in Pexels.

Educational System.

We all know the heavy structures of educational systems;  and the pressures to conform to the status quo. We must not underestimate the narrow nationalistic pressures;  on the teaching of social issues nor the political influences on content and methods.

In order to understand the limits and the possibilities of change;  teachers must be prepared to carry out research on the local community. They must be able to analyse their specific communities.

It is always dangerous to make wide generalizations on the role of the family, the media, of religion as if it were always the same in all parts of the country;  or the same in all social classes and milieu.

Thus;  teachers should be able, with some sociological training;  to carry out studies on the formation of attitudes;  values and skills of their students by looking at the respective role of the family, the content of the media, and student participation in associations.

Such studies can be carried out in a cooperative way,  among several teachers so as to be able to go to greater depth.

Teachers could look for information to help answer such questions as: 

“Are any groups excluded from participating in the community?”

“How can possible marginalisation be counteracted?”

“How can one study environmental and ecological issues locally?”

“What is the significance of different role models such as peers, parents, and educators?”

“In what ways can non-formal and informal learning environments be furthered?”

In conclusion; there are more and more teachers;  who realise the direction of current world trends. Migration puts other cultures on one’s door step. We all need to be encouraged by the advances being made. We can help one another so that we may develop the culture of peace and active world citizenship together.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Thomas Nordstrom Book Reviews

Thomas Nordstrom. A World Government in Action.

Featured Image: Photo by Juliana Kozoski on Unsplash.

(Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020, 147pp.)

 
Thomas Nordstrom  has written a useful book which more accurately should have been calles:

“The Need for a World Government in Action”

He outlines many of the challenges facing the world society and stresses that the United Nations does not have the authority or the power to deal with these challenges adequately.  The challenges are interrelated and thus must be faced in an interrelated way. Thus climate change has an impact on land use which has an impact on food production.  To improve food production, there must be better education on food issues as well as greater equality among women and men, as in many countries women play a major role in food production, food preperation and food conservation.
   
As governments and U.N. Secretariat members become aware of an issue, the issue is taken up in one or another of the U.N. Specialized Agencies – FAO, WHO, ILO, UNESCO, or a new program is created : the Environment Programme, or different programs on the issue of women. 
 
FAO Logo
 
Logo of the Food and Agriculture Organization. By FAO, original uploader: w:en:User:Cptnemo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

 
Today, within the halls of the U.N. there are negotiations for a Global Pact on the Environment and for the creation of a World Environment Organization which would be stronger than the existing U.N. Environment Programme.  Such a Global Pact for the Environment would clarify important environmental principles and relations between the existing treaties on the environment which have been negotiated separately.
 
    In the United Nations, the international agenda reflects the growing influence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the scientific community in shaping policy.  We see this vividly in the discussions on the impact of climate change.  The distinction that used to be made between national and international questions has almost entirely vanished.  NGOs must be able to provide possible avenues of action based on an effective theoretical analysis that acknowledges the complexity of the international environment.
 
United_Nations_Environment_Programme_Logo
 
United Nations Environment Programme Logo. By UNEP FI, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Militarization and The Complex Emergencies.

 
    Governments can not at the same time boost expenditures on armaments and deal effectively with ecological deterioration and the consequences of climate change.  Militarization has contributed to the neglect of other pressing issues, such as shrinking forests, erosion of soils and falling water tables.  Militarization draws energy and efforts away from constructive action to deal with common  problems.  Militarization creates rigidity at the center of world politics as well as brittleness which leads to regional conflicts and civil wars. This political paralysis is both a cause and a result of the rigidity and the brittleness of current internatinal politics. Opportunities are missed for building upon the more positive elements of a particular situation.
 
   What is often called “complex emergencies”  – a combination of political and social disintegration that includes armed conflicts, ethnic violence, state collapse, warlordism, refugee flows and famine – have become one of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time. Today’s violent conflicts are often rooted in a mix of exclusion, inequality, mismanagement of natural resources, corruption, and the frustrations that accompany a lack of jobs and opportunitiues.  Lack of opportunities sows the seeds of instability and violence.
 
    As Nordstrom points out, behind all the current armed conflicts, there is the presence in a small number of countries of nuclear weapons.  If they were used, the level of destruction would be great.  Although nuclear disarmament was on the agenda of the U.N. General Assembly from its start, there has been little  progress on nuclear disarmament issues.
 
As world citizen and former President of India S. Radhakrishnan has written:
 

“To survive we need a revolution in our thoughts and outlook.  From the alter of the past we should take the living fire and not the dead ashes. Let us remember the past, be alive to the present and create the future with courage in our hearts and faith in ourselves.” 

 
The great challenge which humanity faces today is to leave behind the culture of violence in which we find ourselves and move rapidly to a culture of peace and solidarity.  We can achieve this historic task by casting aside our ancient nationalistic and social prejudices and begin to think and act as responsible Citizens of the World. Nordstrom  sets out some of the guideposts.
   
 
Rene Wadlow, President Association of World Citizens.
 
 
 
   

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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