Month: <span>January 2023</span>

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) UN: Growth of World Law.

Non-governmental Organizations in the United Nation: The Voices of…

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) written just after the end of the destructive Second World War states that:

“since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” 

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the United Nations, such as the Association of World Citizens, have played an important role in changing attitudes both among the representatives of governments and among the wider public.  NGOs have stressed the need for real cooperation in meeting the many challenges facing humanity, challenges which require new and innovative strategies.

         It is abundantly clear that many challenges facing humanity require new and innovative strategies.  The United Nations has a unique role to play in responding to these challenges. The United Nations is the only truly universal organizations with a mandate that covers virtually all areas of human endeavour.  In an interdependent world, problems cannot be solved without a sense of commitment to the good of the whole.

The UN System

         There is a need for further empowerment of the UN system for conflict prevention as well as promoting the values of a culture of peace.  Yet it is also clear that the UN cannot fulfil alone its weighty responsibility set out in the Charter.  The United Nations needs to reach out to a wider circle of talents for  insights,  and compassion to make this world a place of dignity and joy.

         Thus, increasingly the energy and talent of members of non-governmental organizations are linked directly to UN efforts both as a source of ideas and as a powerful multiplier of actions to develop policies and structures of peace and non-violence.

Image Photo by Shinobu in Pexels.

The United Nations: The Reflection of the World Society.

The Association of World Citizens

         The representatives of the Association of World Citizens are turned toward the future.  As Frederico Mayor, former Director General of UNESCO has said:

One great task is to be the look-outs for the future, since in this way we shall be able to anticipate and prevent.  Prevention is the greatest victory since it is what avoids suffering and avoids confrontation.

         The future belongs to those who give the next generation reasons to hope.  A vision of the future precedes the creation of a new reality.  If we cannot envision the world we would like to live in, we cannot work towards its creation.  We need a vision of the future as a time of great healing and social transformation.  With a vision of the future, we can see better how each of us can contribute to this wider transformation. The real future is the future which is built by the inspiration of a vision.  A vision creates hope, enthusiasm and conscious actions to actualize the vision.  Thus we need to keep an open mind, to seek truth and to inform ourselves of the points of view of others.

         The actions of the Association of World Citizens are directed toward a future of freedom, dignity, and world unity. Your cooperation in these great challenges are most welcome.

Federico Mayor Zaragoza as speaker in the summer course of the International University of Andalusia 2007 “Interculturality, interreligious dialogue and communication”. By Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, 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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H.G. Wells Portraits of World Citizens.

H.G. Wells and Human Rights.

Featured Image: Portrait of Herbert George Wells by George Charles Beresford. Black and white glossy print. 150 mm x 108 mm (1920). By George Charles Beresford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
2023 will see a year-long effort leading to 10 December 2023, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The effort carries the title:
 

“Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All”. 

 
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Image: 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.

Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

 
Thus, it is usefil to look at some of the intellectual preperations both within the League of Nations and among individual thinkers for the Universal Declaration.  One of the most widely read was that of Herbert George Wells “Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the World Citizen” which is found in his book
 

“Phoenix: A Summary of the Inescapable Conditions of World Organization” published in 1942. 

 
The Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the World Citizen had been translated into 10 languages and sent to 300 editors of newspapers in 48 countries.
 
    H.G. Wells from the 1930s on was concerned with the ways the world should be organized with a world organization stronger than the League of Nations.  Such a world organization should be backed up and urged on by a strong body of public opinion linked together world-wide by the unifying  bond of a common code of human rights and duties.
 
    At the end of the First World War, H.G. Wells was a strong advocate of the League of Nations, but as time went on, he became aware of its weaknesses.  He wrote in 1939:
 

” The League of Nations, we can all admit now, was a poor and ineffective outcome of that revolutionary proposal to banish armed conflict from the world and inaugurate a new life for mankind… Does this League of Nations contain within it the gem of any permanent federation of human effort?  Will it grow into something for which men will be ready to work for and, if necessary, fight – as hither to they have been willing to fight for their country and their own people?  There are few intimations of any such enthusiasm for the League at the present time.  The League does not even seem to know how to talk to the common man.  It has gone into official buildings, and comparatively few people in the world understand or care what it is doing there.”

 
  League of Nations
 Image: Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

 
Thus, there was a need for a clear statement of world values that could be understood by most and that would be a common statement of the aspiration on which to build a new freedom and a new dignity.  Wells had a strong faith in international public opinion when it was not afraid to express new and radical thoughts that cut across the conventional wisdom of the day.  He wrote in 1943:
 

“Behind the short-sighted governments that divide and mismanage human affairs, a real force for world unity and order exists and grows.”

 
    Wells hoped that the “Declaration of the Rights of the World Citizen” would become the fundamental law for mankind through the whole world – a true code of basic rights and duties which set out the acceptable shape of a just world society.
 
    Therefore wells set out 10 rights which combined civil liberties already common to many democratic states with economic and social rights; which were often considered as aspirations but not as rights.
Thus among the 10 rights we find the Right to Participate in Government, Freedom of Thought and Worship, the Right to Knowledge, Freedom from Violence including Torture, along with the Right to Education, the Right to Medical Care, the Right to Work with Legitimate Remuneration, the Protection of Minors, Freedon of Movement about the Earth.
 
    The drafters of the U.N. Charter in 1945 included a pledge by member states:
 

“To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small.” 

 
Much of the debate from 1946 when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights was created until December 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed concerned the relative place of civil liberties and of economic, social, and cultural rights.
 
    However while the text of H.G. Wells is largely forgotten today, he had the vision of the strong link between freedom of thought bsed on civil liberties and the need for economic dignity set out in the economic, social, and cultural rights.
 
H.G. Wells
Image: Portrait of Herbert George Wells by George Charles Beresford. Black and white glossy print. 150 mm x 108 mm (1920). By George Charles Beresford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

H.G. Wells: The Open Conspiracy for Peace.

 
   René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Alexandre Marc Rapprochement of Cultures.

Alexandre Marc: Con-federalism, Cultural Renewal and Trans-frontier Cooperation

Featured Image: Through the Russian Revolution. By Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons.

Alexandre Marc ; (19 January 1904 – 22 February 2000) was born as Alexandre Markovitch Lipiansky in Odessa, Russia in 1904.  He later simplified his name by dropping Lipiansky; (which his sons have reclaimed) and modifying his father’s first name to Marc; which he used as a family name.  His father was a Jewish banker and a non-communist socialist. 

Alexandre was a precocious activist. He was influenced by his early reading of F. Nietzsche; especially Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  He started a non-conformist student journal; while still in secondary school during the Russian Revolution; asking for greater democracy and opposed to Marxist thought.  This led to death threats made against him by the Communist authorities.

Also sprach Zarathustra. Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen. In drei Theilen. By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Forerunners of the Nazi Movement

The family left Russia in 1919 for France; but not before Alexandre had seen some of the fighting and disorder of the Russian civil war.  These impressions left a deep mark; and he was never tempted by the Russian communist effort as were other intellectuals in France; who had not seen events close up. 

During part of the 1920s; Marc was in Germany studying philosophy; where intellectual and philosophical debates were intense after the German defeat in the First World War; and the great difficulties of the Weimar Republic.  He saw the forerunners of the Nazi movement. 

Anti-Nazi German Youth

Marc was always one to try to join thought and action; and he had gone back to Germany in 1932 to try to organize anti-Nazi German youth; but ideological divisions in Germany were strong.  The Nazi were already too well organized and came to power the next year. Marc; having seen the destructive power of Nazi thought; was also never tempted by Right Wing or Fascist thought.

Seeing the destructive potential of both Communist and Fascist thought and sensing the deep crisis of Western civilization; Marc was looking for new values that would include order, revolution, and the dignity of the person.

Friedrich Nietzsche, circa 1875. By Friedrich Hartmann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

L’Ordre Nouveau

  There was no ready-made ideology; which included all these elements; though two French thinkers — difficult to classify — did serve as models to Marc and to Denis de Rougemont and some of the other editors of L’Ordre Nouveau: Charles Péguy and  J Proudhon . Marc wrote a book on the importance of Péguy at the start of the Second World War. 

Marc was living in Aix-en-Provence at the time; and the book was published in still unoccupied Marseilles in 1941. He also met in Paris Nicolas Berdiaeff, Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel.  It was from these meetings that the personalist doctrine of L’Ordre Nouveau was born. The rallying cry of personalism was “We are neither collectivists nor individualists but personalists …the spiritual first and foremost, then the economic, with politics at the service of both of them”.

Denis de Rougemont. By Erling Mandelmann / photo©ErlingMandelmann.ch.

once a Jew, always a Jew

In 1943 when all of France was occupied, he was in danger of arrest both for his views and his Jewish origins. Although in 1933; Marc had become a Roman Catholic in part under the influence of intellectual Dominicans; for the Nazi occupiers — as well as for some of the French Vichy government — “once a Jew, always a Jew”. Therefore he left for Switzerland where he was able to study the working of Swiss federalism with its emphasis on democracy at the village and city level.  He was also able to meet other exiles from all over Europe who had managed to get to Switzerland.

Alexandre Marc seemed destined to use words which took on other meanings when used by more popular writers.  The name of the journal L’Ordre Nouveau was taken over after the Second World War by a French far-right nationalist movement influenced by a sort of neo-Celtic ideology and was widely known for painting Celtic cross graffiti on walls in the days before graffiti art filled up all the space. 

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

The Jewish philosophers

Revolution, especially after the Nazi-Fascist defeat, could only be considered in the broader society in its Marxist version.  Person, which as a term had been developed by the Roman stoic philosophers could never carry the complexity of meanings which Marc, de Rougemont, and E. Mounier wanted to give it. 

Personalism.

The Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas also used the term “personalism” in the same sense as Marc; but their influence was limited to small circles.  In fact, “individualism” either seen positively or negatively; has returned as the most widely used term.  In some ways; this difficulty with the popular perception of words exists with the way Marc uses “federalism” by which he really means “con-federalism”.

Martin Buber in Palestine/Israel (1940 – 1950). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Foundations of the European Movement and the European Federalists

Alexandre Marc and Denis de Rougemont met again in Switzerland at the end of the Second World War; when de Rougemont returned from spending the war years in the USA.  They started reconnecting people whom they knew in the pre-war years; who also saw the need for a total reformation of European society. 

Both de Rougemont and Marc were good organizers of meetings and committees; and they played an important role in 1947 and 1948; setting up the first meetings for the foundations of the European movement and the European federalists; especially the August 1947 meeting at Montreux, Switzerland; in which world citizens  and world federalists were also present.

Emmanuel Levinas. By Bracha L. Ettinger, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Cold War.

Both men stressed the need for education and highlighted the role of youth to move European unity; beyond the debates of the 1930s and the start of the Cold War; though both continued to stress the importance of the themes; which brought them together in the 1930s.

Centers for the Study of European Federalism

They were both founders of centers for the study of European federalism and an exploration of European values. It was in the context of seminars and publications of the two centers; that I worked with both in the 1970s.   Culture in the philosophical sense was crucial for both; and their efforts in Geneva and Nice were rather similar.

Marc and de Rougemont had a personal falling out that lasted nearly a decade; due, it seems, to the tensions surrounding the break up of de Rougemont’s first marriage.  But even during this break; de Rougemont always spoke to me highly of Marc and his ideas.

Distrust of European Integration

De Rougemont knew that I was seeing Marc and had an interest in the intellectual; currents of France in the 1930s.  The two men came together again later; especially after de Rougemont’s happy second marriage.  From his death be; de Rougemont spoke to Marc on the telephone concerning the need to reprint the issues of L’Order Nouveau; since the articles were still important. The reprinting has been done since.

Both de Rougemont and Marc shared a distrust of European integration; as it was being carried out within the European Community and later the European Union; Both men stressed the need for local democracy; and shared a strong distrust of the politicians prominent in the nation-state system. 

The Lobbying of Governments on Federalist Issues.

De Rougemont went on to give most of his attention to the role of regions; especially the trans-frontier Geneva area; which combines part of Switzerland and France and is an economic pole of attraction for the Italian Val d’Aoste.

Marc continued to stress what he called “global” or “integral” federalism; a federalism with great autonomy and initiative at every level as over against “Hamiltonian”; federalism which he saw as the creation of ever larger entities such as the United States; whose culture and form of government Marc distrusted.

Hamiltonian Federalism

Marc remarked that  ‘Hamiltonian federalism’; as a whole was turning its back on spiritual; cultural and social questions and devoting itself to a form of action that can be defined; as ‘political’ and underlined the contradiction that is inherent in the lobbying of governments on federalist issues.

The Future is within Us

De Rougemont was the better writer.  His last book The Future is within Us; though pessimistic; especially of political efforts, remains a useful summing up of his ideas. (2) Although Alexandre Marc wrote a good deal; his forms of expression; were too complex, too paradoxical, too filled with references to ideas; which are not fully explained to be popular. 

Marc’s influence was primarily verbal as stimulant to his students.  Having seen early in his life the dangers of totalitarian thought; he always stressed the need for dialogue and listening; for popular participation at all levels of decision-making. As with ‘order’ ‘revolution’ ‘the person’, ‘federalism’ was probably not the term he should have chosen to carry the weight  of his ideas.

A Complex Man

The other Alexander — Hamilton — has infused the word ‘federalism’ with the idea of unification of many smaller units.  ‘Popular participation’ is probably a better term for Marc’s ideas; if the word ‘popular’ could carry the complex structure; which Marc tried to give to the word ‘person’. Con-federation is probably the better term for the de-centralized administrative structures that Marc proposed.

Marc was a complex man; one of the bridges; who helped younger persons to understand the debates; which surrounded the Russian Revolution; the rise and decline of Fascism and Nazism; and the post-Second World War hopes for a United Europe.  As de Rougemont on his death bed said to Marc:

“We have been able to do nothing, start again, talk to the young and we must carry on.”

 Notes

  • For the 1930s period see: Christian Roy. Alexandre Marc et la Jeune Europe: L’Ordre nouveau aux origins du personnalisme (Presses d’Europe, 1998) J. Laubet del Bayle. Les non-conformistes des années 30 : Une Tentative de renouvellement de la pensée politique francaise (Seuil, 1969) Michel Winock. Esprit : Des intellectuels dans la cité 1930-1950 (Seuil, 1996)
  • Denis de Rougemont The Future is within US  (Pergamon Press, 1983).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Henry Usborne Rapprochement of Cultures.

Henry Usborne. World Citizen Activist.

Featured Image:  Big Ben, London, United Kingdom Photo by Adi Ulici on Unsplash.

Henry Usborne (16 Jan. 1909 -16 March 1996).
By Rene Wadlow.

Henry Usborne was a British Member of Parliament (M.P.); elected in the Labour Party landslide in 1945. He was re-elected in 1950.

He was an engineer and Burmingham businessman yet a socialist. Born in India; he always had a broad view of world politics.

He was concerned that the United Nations;  whose Charter had been signed in June 1945 before the use of the atomic bombs had the same weaknesses as the League of Nations. Soon after his election; he spoke in Parliament for the U.N. to have the authority to enforce its decisions; an authority which the League of Nations lacked. He spoke out for a code of human rights and for an active world bank.

League of Nations Association.

The early years of the United Nations were colored by the growing tensions between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.  The start of the Cold War. There were deep disagreements over the future of Germany. Non-official contacts between English and Soviets became more difficult. Proposals for international control of atomic energy were refused or not acted upon within the U.N.

Thus Usborne; while still favorable to the efforts of the U.N. felt that more popular support for a stronger U.N. was needed. He was influenced by the experience of the 1934 Peace Ballot;  which had been organized by the U.K. League of Nations Association. Voters in this non-official vote were asked if they were in support of Britain remaining in the League of Nations. Over 11 million votes were cast with some 10 million in favor of remaining in the League.

It is likely that those who wanted out did not bother to vote. Nevertheless; the 1934 Peace Ballot showed strong popular support for the League.

Usborne played a key role in 1946 in the creation by world citizens and world federalists from Western Europe and the U.S.A;  in the creation in a meeting in Luxembourg of the Movement for a World Federal Government. With these new contacts;  he envisaged a vote in the U.S.A; and much of Western Europe to elect delegates to a Peoples’ World Convention;  which would write a constitution for a stronger world institution.

The U.S. Constitutional Convention.

He proposed that there be one delegate per million population of each State participating. He did not envisage that the U.S.S.R. and its allies would participate;  but he hoped that India would as Jawaharlal Nehru had played a key role in developing support for the United Nations. (1)

In October 1947; he went on a speaking tour of the United States. His ideas were widely understood as they followed somewhat the pattern of the U.S. Constitutional Convention. The delegates; had originally been chosen to develop amendments to the existing Articles of Confederation. They set aside their mandate to draft a totally other basis of union among the states; which became the U.S. Constitution. Understanding did not necessarily mean support; yet a fairly large number of organizations were willing to consider the idea.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru, the main campaigner of the Indian National Congress, 1951-52 elections. The poster reads ‘for a stable, secular, progressive state; VOTE CONGRESS’. By Indian National Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Third World War.

However;  in June 1950, war was started in Korea. Usborne and many others were worried that this was the start of the Third World War. Usborne as many other world citizens turned their activities toward the need for a settlement with the U.S.S.R; and forms of arms control if there was no possibility for disarmament. The idea of the creation of an alternative world institution; stronger than the U.N. was largely set aside. The focus became on strengthening the U.N. by finding programs; in which the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. could participate;  such as some of the early proposals for U.N. technical assistance programs. (2)

Usborne;  as other world citizens,  put an emphasis on developing a sense of world citizenship and a loyalty to all of humanity;  without spelling out the institutional structures; such world citizenship should take. At the end of his second term in Parliament; he left party politics; but remained an active world citizen always willing to share his convictions.

Notes.

(1) See Manu Bhagavan. The Peacemakers. India and the Quest For One World (New Delhi: HarperCollins India, 2012).
(2) See Stringfellow Barr. Citizens of the World (New York:Doubleday and Company, 1952).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Biodiversity Appeals

Biodiversity: A Pledge, Now Action.

Featured Image: Photo by Jeevan Katel on Unsplash.

In the early hours of 19 December 2022, the delegates to the U. N. Convention on Biodiversity (COP 15) reached an agreement on a Biodiversity Framework after 12 days of intense negotiations.  The theme of COP 15 was:

“Ecological Civilization: Building a shared future for all life on earth”. 

There were some 15,000 persons present during the meetings: government delegates, some 70 Non-governmental Organizations, academic research institutes and business companies.  The global biodiversity framework, to be called the “Kunming-Montreal Framework ” sets out to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s land and water by 2030. Montreal is the headquarters of the U.N. Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity.  Kunming is the city in the People’s Republic of China where the conference was to be held but was changed because of COVID 19 restrictions.

The restoration of degraded areas costs money without necessarily bringing in new financial wealth.

There is general agreement among specialists that world-wide there is a loss of biodiversity due to a number of factors such as increase in monoculture agriculture, livestock grazing, the loss of forest lands through lumbering and firewood gathering,  overuse of pesticides and the growth of urbanization.  Many ecosystems  are under stress and facing degradation.  The tree  and plant cover of the world have been taking increasing losses in almost all parts of the world.  There is also the impact of climate change and a lack of rainfall in some parts of the world.

As with many U.N. conferences, a key issue of discussion is finance.  The protection of biodiversity and the restoration of degraded areas costs money without necessarily bringing in new financial wealth.  There is a Global Environment Facility which is called upon to manage increase funds.

It is hoped that non-governmental organizations can play a vital role at the international level on biodiversity protection.  At the national level in many countries, non-governmental organizations have played an important role in the creation of national parks and protected areas.  Can they play a vital role at the international level?  While there are some long-standing international ecological organizations, none yet have been able to mobilize a wide international public opinion. 

However, what was new at Montreal was the concerted effort of women’s organizations to have a gender focus put into the Framework for the first time.  They were successful, and the Framework states that the Framework should :

“Ensure gender equality in the implmementation of the Framework through a gender-responsive approach where all women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to contribute to the objectives of the Convention, including by recognizing their equal rights and access to land and natural resouces and their full, equitable, meaningful and informed participation and leadership at all levels of action, engagement, policy, and decision-making related to biodiversity.”

There is also a growing movement among young people for the safeguard of biodiversity who may watch closely at the ways the Framework leads to action.  As Marco Lambertini, Director General of  World Wildlife Fund International said:

“The agreement represents a major milestone for the conservation of our natural world, and biodiversity has never been so high on the political and business agenda, but it can be undermined by slow implementation and failure to mobilize the promised resources.  Governments have chosen the rights side of history in Montreal, but history will judge all us us if we don’t deliver on the promise made today.”

Marco Lambertini

Marco Lambertini, taken during Earth Hour 2016. By WWF / WWF Earth Hour.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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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Track Two Efforts Appeals

Ongoing Armed Conflicts and the Need for Stronger Track…

Featured Image: Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash.
 
The continuing armed conflict in Ukraine and the likelihood that the conflict will drag on through the winter, the 11th year of the armed conflict and repression in Syria, the renewal of armed conflict in the frontier area between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo forces us to ask if more can be done on the part of non-governmental organizations such as the Association of World Citizens to encourage negotiations in good faith among the parties in conflict. 
 
 
 Image: Ukrainian diaspora in Brussels protests the Russian invasion, Processed with VSCO with acg preset. By Bartosz Brzezinski from Chicago, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Upholding International Humanitarian Law in Times of Armed Conflict: A World Citizen Appeal.

Track One. Official governmental negotiations.

 
Lengthy armed conflicts severely weakens the social structure of a society.  A culture of violence is developed.  A sense of mistrust makes collaboration within that society more difficult to achieve.
     There have been efforts by the United Nations Secretariat and by individual governments to encourage ceasefires and negotiations in these conflicts, but in each case negotiations seem deadlocked.  It must be hoped that the U.N. and government efforts will continue.
     These governmental efforts can be called Track One. 
 
Track One diplomacy is official governmental negotiations.  Governments have their backup resources of intelligence agencies.   Governments can also use “back channels” of informal and unofficial contacts.
 
United Nations
 
Image: Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Unsplash.

The United Nations: The Shift in Perspectives and Action.

Track Two. Non-official effort.

 
     Track Two is a non-official effort, usually carried out by a non-governmental organization often in cooperation with an academic institution or at least with individuals working on conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
     No non-governmental organization has the resources of a government with people trained and funds available. 
Therefore, Track Two efforts must often be the work of a cooperative alliance among a number of non-governmental organizations, often using people of different nationalities or cultures but motivated by the same desire of finding ways to the resolution of the armed conflict.
     Preparing for Track Two efforts is an important task.  Leadership rarely arises spontaneously.  There is a need for preparation and training.  However, there is also a need for continuity.  There are rarely sudden victories in Track Two efforts.  One must be ready to try again the next day.
     Often Track Two efforts are undertaken in tension areas that have a possibility to become violent but that are not yet in open armed conflict such as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians or between North and South Koreans.  (1)
 
Israelis and Palestinians
 
Picture: Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jerusalem-Gaza Cease-fire: Broad Negociations Are Now Needed.

 

Track Two efforts are becoming increasingly important in world politics.

 
More and more armed conflicts exist between a government and one or more armed movements as we see in Yemen, with the ethnic minorities in Myanmar, with the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Governments are often reluctant to negotiate with armed groups fearing to give them legitimacy or fearing to encourage action by other such armed movements.  Yet peace negotiations require discussion with such armed groups.  We must not underestimate the difficulties of establishing contact with armed groups and bringing them to a willingness to negotiate.  Thus, the need for a deep understanding of how Track Two proceses can be carried out.  (2)
     It is likely that non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the United Nations are the best placed to undertake Track Two efforts.  (3)
     Track Two efforts must also keep doors open to government representatives, and government representatives must have confidence in those working on a Track Two program. 
 
As the Quaker economist and peace worker Kenneth Boulding wrote:
   

 “When Track One will not do,

      We have to travel on Track Two.

      But for results to be abiding,

      The Tracks must meet upon some siding.”

                             
Democratic Republic of Congo
Image: Movement militiamen M23 and Type 85 heavy machine gun. By Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Increasing Tensions and Danger of Violence.

Notes.

 
1) See Hussein Agha, Shai Feldman, Ahmad Khalidi, Zeev Schiff.  Track II Diplomacy: Lessons from the Middle East (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).
2) See John Davies and Eddy Kaufman. Second Track/Citizen’s Diplomacy: Concepts and Techniques in Conflict  (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002).
     W.E. De Mars.  NGOs and Transnational Networks (London: Pluto Press, 2005).
3) See P. Willets (Ed). The Conscience of the World. The Influence of NGOs in the UN System  (London: Hurst, 1996)
   Rene Wadlow

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…

1 2 12

Iran Appeals

U.N. Human Rights Council Focus on Iran.

Featured Image: Ebrahim Raisi By Nasim Online, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
On 24 November 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council held a Special Session on the human rights situation in Iran.  A Special Session is the highest form of attention which the Human Rights Council can take.  The Foreign Minister of Germany came in person to Geneva to present the Special Session resolution.  The resolution which was adopted calls for the creation of a special fact-finding mission to investigate:
 

“Alleged human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

 
      Such fact-finding is an essential step towards ensuring that perpetrators are held responsible for their abuses.  While it is unlikely that the government of Iran will allow the fact-finding group to enter the country, the creation of the group after a heated debate indicates the wide-spread international concern with the repression of the demonstrations and the death sentences given by courts to at least five protesters accused of:
 

“Moharebek” (waging war against God).

 
     The manifestations began on 16 September 2022 concerning the death of a 22-year old woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the “morality police“.  She had been arrested for showing too much of her hair under the manditory veil – the Hijab.  Now women cutting their hair in public has become one of the symbols of the manifestations.  The first cries were “Women-Life-Liberty” (Zan- Zevdegi-Azadi) and were focused on women’s issues. 
The manifestations had begun in the Kurdish areas  of Iran, Mahsa Amini being a Kurd.  The manifestations quickly spread to all the other areas of Iran as well.  However, the governmental crackdown has been most brutal against the Kurds – the number killed and arrested. In the nine weeks of manifestations, the issues have become broader and now concern the theocratic nature of the regime itself.
Women-Life-Liberty
Image: Thousands turn out in Melbourne to stand in solidarity with protests that have broken out in Iran following the death of 22-year old Mahsa (also known as Jina or Zhina) Amini at the hands of the country’s brutal dictatorship and its ‘morality’ police. By Matt Hrkac from Geelong / Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

    Iran: Women-Life-Liberty

 
The government is seriously worried but is unable to create a counter-vision to its current theocratic framework.  Repression by the police and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the first line of defence followed by blaming the U.S.A. and Israel as the sources of the manifestations.  While there is an active community of Iranians living in the U.S.A. who are generally liberal in their social-political convictions, the current manifestations are not the results by Iranian exiles or the U.S. and Israeli governments.  There is also wide support in Western Europe for the themes of the manifestations.
     Rather the manifestations have both economic and social causes.  There is a serious economic recession due to multiple causes which has led the often influencial shopkeepers to join the mainfestations by closing their shops. The manifestations also indicate the social, especially the generational differences. Many of those manifesting are young, secondary school and university students.  Although the government has tried to shut down the social media, communications among the young remain strong.
     It is difficult to know how events will develop.  The U.N. Factfinding Mission has its work cut out for it.  Its findings should be followed closely.
 
Iran
 
 Image: Photos of various protests in London in solidarity with Mahsa Amini. By Garry Knight from London, England, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Wind of Change Blows Ever Stronger in Iran.

 

 
 
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Giuseppe Antonio Borgese Portraits of World Citizens.

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese: Common Cause.

Featured Image: Giuseppe Antonio Borgese. Public Domain. By https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Antonio_Borgese#/media/File:G._A._Borgese.jpg

“The era of humanity has not begun, but the age of nations has ended. It ended in 1914 when the world wars began.  Hence, earth and sky be Commonwealth to all, that Man at last may raise must Nations fall.”

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese (1882 -1952) whose birth anniversary we note on 12 November, was an Italian-born professor of literature at the University of Chicago and a leading world citizen in the late 1940s.  In 1931, Borgese was a visiting professor at the University of California when Mussolini announced that an oath of allegiance to the Italian Fascist state would be  required of all Italian professors.  Borgese did not go back and wrote to Mussolini:

“My dwelling place can only be where it is permitted a writer to be truly a writer.” 

Borgese published “Goliath: The March of Fascism” (1937) when few in the United States were following political events in Italy.  He developed further his views as the Second  World War developed in “Common Cause.” (1)

In 1939 he married Elizabeth Mann, youngest daughter of the German writer Thomas Mann, who was living in exile in Princeton, New Jersey. In the mid-1970s, I knew Elizabeth Mann Borgese, who had become a specialist on law of the sea issues.

Thomas Mann

 Thomas Mann, Nobel laureate in Literature 1929. By Nobel Foundation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

G.A. Borgese was a leading member of the University of Chicago-based Committee to Frame a World Constitution which wrote the “Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution” (1948) (2)  As Borgese wrote: 

“The popular assumption that the present movement toward world unity originates essentially in the technological revolution as applied to ‘ weapons of mass destruction ‘ is a fallacy derived from the superstition of our time, which is the adoration of the tool, the cult of the material causes.  Techniques and tools are the product of spiritual evolution which in successive waves of reactions and actions they become contributing factors.  They are not the first causes.  It was not the Legion that made Rome, not the phalanx that built Macedonia, but conversely.  For the age of nations, after a span of six centuries was as good as dead for reasons far deeper and more complex than any technological change, in 1914 – when uranium was quietly number 92 on the periodic table, and plutonium was nothing and nowhere.”

For Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, we need to change the way we think of ourselves and each other, not as members of separate nations but as citizens of one planet with justice as a core value.  Justice is a timeless and universal idea whose historical appearances and demands are variously and progressively determined by the various configurations of the ages.  At a time when there is injustice in many parts of the world, it is useful to recall the vital efforts of Giuseppe Antonio Borgese.

 

Notes.

1) G.A. Borgese. Common Cause (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1943)
2) G.A. Borgese. The Foundations of the World Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953)

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Congo Appeals

Dark Clouds Over Eastern Congo.

Featured Image: Photo by Flow ClarkUnsplash.

As if there were not already enough tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), there is a renewal of fighting since mid-October in the province of North Kivu, Goma being the central city.  The current armed conflict is between a Tutsi-led militia, M23, and the forces of the RDC government. 

The government estimates that some 200,000 people have been displaced.  The President of the RDC, Felix Tshisekedi, has called for the creation of local militias to help the government soldiers.  The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) which has been in the RDC since 1999 and is the largest U.N. peacekeeping force of some 15,000 members, has been unable to halt the fighting and is increasingly criticized by the local population.

The President of the RDC, Felix Tshisekedi

 The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E. Mr. Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

The RDC government accuses Rwanda of being the backers of the M23, accusations which Rwanda denies.  In response, the Rwanda government accuses the DRC of supporting an anti-Rwanda armed militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu-led militia.  Both the Tutsi and the Hutu are in the RDC since the 1993 genocide fighting in Rwanda.  The current fighting adds to the insecurity of the area.  The fighting has also largely stopped cross-frontier commercial activities, largely done by women small traders.  As a result, the price of existing food supplies has increased greatly, and shortages are to be feared.

MONUSCO

Rutshuru, North Kivu, DR Congo. MONUSCO Special Forces and units from the Intervention Brigade approaching Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) positions during a MONUSCO-FARDC joint operation. This type of intervention which allowed the complete destruction of FDLR bases and with the aim of disrupting the armed group’s plans and harmful activities will continue for as long as necessary. Photo MONUSCO/Force. By MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The fighting has increased tensions between Rwanda and the RDC, tensions which also impact relations with Uganda, which has received a good number of refugees from the RDC and with Burundi, an unstable country.  There is a start of Rwanda-RDC negotiations in Angola under the leadership of the Angolan government.  However, the lack of trust between Rwanda and the RDC is great, and broader international efforts would be useful.  There is also a need for local non-governmental peacebuilding efforts which can also be facilitated by international NGOs.  The situation requires close attention and if possible, speedy action.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Protest symbols in China Appeals

What I would say if I could. Protest symbols…

Featured Image: Photo by Nuno Alberto.  Unsplash

An empty white page held high has become the symbol of protest in the manifestations currently spreading to different parts of China.  Just as the cry “Women-Life- Liberty “, women cutting their long hair in public, and the burning of the mandatory veil have become the symbols of protest in Iran, so the empty white page is the outward manifestation of a long frustration of the inability to express ideas that are not those of the Communist Party of China and its leader Xi Jinping.

Xi Jinping

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping addresses Chinese and foreign journalists at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct 23, 2022. By China News Service, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

As James Connolly, a leader of the 1916 Dublin, Ireland Easter uprising wrote:

” No revolutionary movement is complete without its political expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses, they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and the hopes, the loves and the hatreds engendered by the struggle.  Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement.”

James Connolly

James Connolly. By David Granville, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Political Defiance.

The Iranian chant “Women-Life-Liberty” constantly repeated could be considered as a revolutionary song.  In China, some of the protesters sing L’Internationale, the model of the revolutionary song.  Gene Sharp, a theorist of nonviolent political change now often called “Political Defiance”  said that such types of protest such as music are so unorthodox that the police do not know what to do.  This type of activity enables resistance to continue when larger bases for resistance have been neutralized, controlled, or destroyed.

The Chinese government has responded to the protests in its usual way: blaming foreign agitators, arresting a large number of people with the police going to the homes of potential protesters and warning of arrests if they go out.  Control of the social media and censorship has increased.  Government ideology has been increased within schools and universities.  Government repression in Iran and in China are very much the same even if their ideological foundations are very different.

Women-Life-Liberty

 Image: Thousands turn out in Melbourne to stand in solidarity with protests that have broken out in Iran following the death of 22-year old Mahsa (also known as Jina or Zhina) Amini at the hands of the country’s brutal dictatorship and its ‘morality’ police. By Matt Hrkac from Geelong / Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Iran: Women-Life-Liberty.

“Move on, there is nothing to see here”.

The manifestations have highlighted a generational gap.  Youth who have never known other forms of government have taken a lead in the protests.  Although the social media has been censored, youth find ways of communicating among themselves.

One technique of the Chinese government is to mention the least possible the manifestations.  “Move on, there is nothing to see here” is the order of the day.  However, the manifestations have the potential of bringing the causes of the conflicts to the light of day.  It is difficult to know in advance how long the manifestations will go on, to what extent the demands for change will evolve, and what type of response beyond repression the government will take.  A situation to watch as closely as possible.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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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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