Tag: <span>Association of World Citizens</span>

Gaza Conflict Appeals

Preventing the Expansion of the Gaza Conflict: Are Peace…

Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, has been again in the Middle East working to prevent the violence of the Gaza Strip of spreading to much of the area.  The Gaza Strip conflict has already spread to the West Bank with increased violence between Jewish settlers and Palestinian inhabitants.  There is increased violence along the frontier of Lebanon with the activities of the armed faction Hezbollah and the displacement of Israeli villages.  Negotiations in good faith seem far off, and political speeches grow more conflictual.  Could there be a role for unarmed, non-governmental peace brigades to monitor frontiers and lessen tensions?

    One possibility, inspired by the efforts of Shanti Sena (Peace Army) developed by followers of Mahatma Gandhi in India to deal with Hindu-Muslim violence is to place some nongovernmental teams on the frontier between antagonists in order to provide an opportunity for all parties to “cool off” and negotiate.

Antony J. Blinken, 71st U.S. Secretary of State. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

    Friends of Humanity.

One such effort in which I was directly involved was an effort to place a peace team on the Nicaraguan-Honduras frontier in 1981. At the time, it was thought that the 400 strong U.S. troops stationed in Honduras might cross the frontier to attack the Saddinista-leftest government in Nicaragua or to help actively the anti-Sandinista “Contras” to do so.  A group of persons associated with the Santa Cruz Resouce Center for Nonviolence in California and affiliated to the organization Peace Brigades International were able to put a team together and move to the Nicaragua-Honduras frontier on short notice.  The group called itself “The Jalapa Brigade” after the small Nicaraguan city near the Honduran frontier where it was posted.

    When the Jalapa Brigade was being put into place, the Ambassador of Nicaragua to the United Nations in Geneva was a former student of mine, and his brother, also a former student of mine, was the legal advisor to the President of Nicaragua.  In fact, when the team arrived, Daniel Ortega, the President, introduced the team as “Friends of Humanity.”

The Gulf Peace Team.

    Through the Ambassador, I was able to inform all the Central American Missions to the U.N. as to the aims and role of the Peace Brigade.  In the end, the U.S. military did not cross the frontier.  Perhaps it never intended to do so. It may also have been that the interposition of U.S. citizens with good organizational contacts helped to weigh in the U.S. military decision-making process.  When the team left, the leader of the Protestant “Evangelical Committee for Development Aid” said:

“The proof of your triumph lies in the fact that no attacks were made while you were in the Jalapa area.”

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

“decided that the continued presence of the camp was a security risk.”

Peace Team a Possibility?.   

Likewise a January 2022 proposal of the Association of World CitizensUkraine-Donbas-Russian Frontier: Is a Nongovernmental Interposition Peace Team a Possibility?” was followed three weeks later by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    Thus the creation of interposition peace teams in the Israel-Palestine conflict would not be easy to create for political and logistic reasons.  There are economic and logistic resources required and, more importantly, there is the need to raise enough volunteers who are mature, culturally sensitive, and analystically-minded to achieve a critical mass that would make a difference in the decision-making of the conflicting parties.  There is also the need to keep the unity of purpose within the teams if they have not worked together before.

However, the current situation is very dangerous.  The dangers are widely recognized.  Therefore all forms of conflict reduction need to be explored.

Image: The famous Independence Square in Kiev on a sunny day. Photo by Euan Cameron on Unsplash.

Ukraine-Donbas-Russia: Can the Normandy Format Be Reactivated? 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Israel y Hamás Appeals

World Citizens Call for an Inmediate End to Hostilities…

Featured image: The impact of the Israeli bombing on a civilian building in Gaza (2021). By Osama Eid, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The AWC, a Nongovernmental Organization in Consultative Status with the United Nations (UN) and accredited with the UN Human Rights Council, is deeply alarmed at the latest flare of violence between the armed militias of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Most importantly, we are appalled at the consequences of the deliberate attacks from both sides on the rights of civilians in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Since the attacks launched by its forces in the early morning of October 7, Hamas has been targeting civilians in Israel, even capturing Israeli citizens, both civilians and IDF soldiers, to keep them as hostages. The legitimate cause of a people long deprived of their own land, a cause that even the UN recognizes as internationally legitimate, cannot be served in dignity by such methods that run counter to international law.

A map of the Gaza Strip showing key towns and neighbouring countries. By Gringer (talk) 14:01, 8 January 2009 (UTC), CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

The current government of Israel has been constantly pushing the limits of disregard for the same international law, through repeated and insistent statements and practices aiming at systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Within the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel, the current Israeli Government has also sowed the seeds of discord and political strife by trying to lessen the powers of the executive branch and, in so doing, to end Israel’s tradition of democracy with checks and balances.

Palestinian solidarity protester with Palestinian flag and a “Free Palestine” sign outside Downing Street, London, 5 June 2018, by Alisdare Hickson, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

The Middle East conflict right from its root causes.

This misguided conduct has proved harmful to both the Palestinian people and the citizenry of Israel. It is now creating new chaos in the region amounting to, in the very words of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, a threat to international peace and security. The situation could get even worse as Hezbollah, notoriously backed by Iran, has now unwisely joined the fight from South Lebanon.

Once more, the rights of civilians in Israel and the Gaza Strip are falling victim to the hatred and violence unleashed by both sides in the absence of a badly needed but constantly denied international effort to tackle the Middle East conflict right from its root causes, including the Palestinian people’s demand for justice and the State of Israel’s need for security.

Consequently, the AWC reiterates its call for an immediate end to hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip. We also call for the release of every person, civilian or military, taken hostage by Hamas.

We further urge the international community to finally undertake a genuine peacebuilding effort in Israel and the OPT by addressing the root causes of the conflict and duly acting on the legitimate claim of the Palestinian people for justice and the equally legitimate claim of the Israeli people for security.

There is truly no other option now.

Separation wall between Israel and the West Bank in Palestine. By Ilya Varlamov, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Populism Book Reviews

Transformation of Populism in Europe and the Americas: History…

Featured Image: 1896 Judge cartoon shows William Jennings Bryan/Populism as a snake swallowing up the mule representing the Democratic party. By US “Judge” magazine, 1896., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Abromeit, Bridget M. Chesterton, Gary Marotta, York Norman (Eds).

Transformation of Populism in Europe and the Americas: History and Recent Tendencies (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, 354pp.)

On 12 December 2015, Benedict Anderson;  the British historian, author of the widely cited 1983 book:  Imagined Communities died. In this influential study of nationalism;  he saw nationalism as a possible imaginative process that allows to feel solidarity for strangers.

He wrote: 

“In an age when it is so common for progressives, cosmopolitan intellectuals (particularly in Europe?) to insist on the near-pathological character of nationalism;  its roots in fear and hatred of the Other, of its affinities with racism;  it is useful to remind ourselves that nations inspire love and often profoundly self-sacrificing love…The cultural products of nationalism − poetry, prose fiction, music, plastic arts − show this love very clearly in thousands of different forms and styles.”

The rise of Hitler and the Nazis.

However, as a cosmopolitan intellectual, looking at the reactions to the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe,  and to the results of some recent elections with a sharp rise in populist nationalism;  I am among those who stress the near-pathological character of nationalism. 

The editors share my fears. The longest section of the book is devoted to the way scholars analyze the rise of Hitler and the Nazis during the Weimar Republic. While nationalist sentiments and the Staklhelm predated Hitler;  Hitler and the small group around him were able to mobilize the periphery against the center;  even the conservative center;  and thus to give voice to those who found themselves excluded from a meaningful role in German political life.

Yet as Larry Jones notes,  in his contribution-one must not lose sight of the fact that:

the Nazi assault against the Weimar Republic was not a movement that somehow arose spontaneously out of the frustration, hardship, and suffering  of those in German society;  who had been marginalized by the course of German political and economic;  development since the beginning of the First World War;  but a highly centralized and carefully controlled campaign that relied upon a party organization”… with an iron discipline that left little autonomy or capacity for spontaneity.

Larry Jones

At Institute for Humanist Studies dinner honoring Larry Jones’s Humanism, Aug. 24, 2013. By Roy Speckhardt, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Populism as an Identity: Four Propositions on Peronism”.

Only Juan Peron;  who came to power in a military coup in 1943 in Argentina;  consciously incorporated many of the Nazi techniques and symbols. However, as Mathew Karush stresses in his chapter “Populism as an Identity: Four Propositions on Peronism”;  Peron drew support from a fairly wide group of people,  which made his populism lack a specific and consistent ideology.  While Peron and similar Latin American leaders were not democrats;  they did not have the ability to kill those with different ideas on the scale of the Nazi.

Juan Domingo Perón

 

General Juan Domingo Perón has a coffee. By Pinélides A. Fusco, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe Today”.

Therefore, as Cas Mudde in his analysis of “Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe Today” notes “Today populist radical right parties share a core ideology ; that combines (at least) three features: nativism, authoritarianism, and populism”.  Nativism entails a combination of nationalism and xenophobia − an ideology that holds that a State should be inhabited exclusively by members of “the nation” and that “alien” elements, whether persons or ideas, are fundamentally threatening to the homogeneous “nation-state”.

Populist radical-right parties are experiencing their biggest electoral and political success in post-war Europe,  but fortunately, neither Marine Le Pen, nor Geert Wilders is Adolf Hitler. Therefore, there is a crucial role for us “cosmopolitan intellectuals”

Cas Mudde

Cas Mudde at Forum / Debate in KulturhusetStadsteatern in Stockholm on March 5, 2018 in a conversation about how liberal democracies can defend themselves against extremism without giving up basic values. By Frankie Fouganthin, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Non-Governmental Organization and The “National Heros”.

The populist right parties play on a loss of confidence in the major political parties, as well as in the civil servants of the European Union. We have little influence on the ways the major political parties operate and even less influence on the European Union secretariat. 

Thus, our role is to develop strong civil society – non-governmental organization walls by protecting human rights;  and by dealing creatively with migrants and refugees. Our role is not only to defend but also to counter-attack. We need to develop more strongly our cosmopolitan ethos.

We need to develop counter-myth figures to the “national heros”. We need to stress the unity of humanity as opposed to national-ethnic identities. We must take the current  populist-nationalist efforts seriously and to develop an organized response.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Danilo Dolci Book Reviews

Danilo Dolci: Development and Opposition to the Oppression of…

Featured Image: Portrait of Danilo Dolci. Conference in Geneva, Mai 25, 1992. By MHM55, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Gandhi of Sicily”.

Danilo Dolci (1925-1997),  was active in the movement for world citizenship and deeply influenced by the non-violent methods of Mahatma Gandhi. He was often called “The Gandhi of Sicily”.

In 1952;  Danilo Dolci went to live in a small, very poor town of western Sicily. The towns-people watched him and wondered why an intelligent and well-educated man should come to live in an area where murder was commonplace;  and the poor stole from the poor. The people had tolerated Fascism for 21 years and the oppression of the Mafia even longer.

Danilo Dolci;  born near Trieste in the north of Italy;  was the son of a railroad official who had worked in Sicily in this youth;  and told his family of the poverty and suffering there – a place to be avoided if possible. When the Second World War began;  Danilo Dolci was conscripted but refused combatant training and was imprisoned. After the war;  he worked with a dynamic priest, Zeno Saltini who had built a community for abandoned children.

The Connections with the Mafia.

However;  Danilo Dolci went on to study architecture and town planning in Milan and Rome;  and wrote articles on the use of reinforced concrete. He had a spiritual awakening experience ; which led him to ask if his life goal was to build luxury apartments;  for those who were already well-off. He replied “no” and recalled his father’s accounts of poverty in Sicily.

Dolci moved to western Sicily;  and following the example of Gandhi; first set out to listen to the life experiences of the people around him. He later published these accounts in a series of books;  based on what the poor said of themselves and their lives. (1) Unemployment and under-employment were constant themes.

A job could be had only through the connections with the Mafia;  which controlled what little formal economy existed in the area. The Mafia had ties to the political structures as well as to the higher Roman Catholic clergy.

Mahatma Gandhi

You might to be interesting read Simone Panter-Brick Gandhi and Nationalism.

“Reverse Strike”

Dolci worked simultaneously on two fronts. On one;  he tried to give immediate help;  on the other;  he tried to address the causes of misery. In 1956;  Dolci and his local friends launched a “reverse strike” by repairing a long neglected road. Their justification for this was Article 4 of the Italian Constitution which affirms that:

“all citizens have the right to work and to promote conditions which render this right effective.”

The day before this “strike-in-reverse” the 700 participants fasted in preparation. Dolci and 22 others were arrested and sentenced to four months in prison. The trial, however;  drew international attention to Dolci and his ideas and efforts.

Dolci established a Centro Studie Insitiative; a sort of village university, close in spirit to the Danish Folk High Schools. The aim was to disperse the despair and hopelessness that the Mafia and poverty had brought to Sicily.

His work was of small, patient steps. The path is not easy but is being continued by others for whom he set out the way.

Danilo Dolci

Trappeto, Sicily 1952. Social activist Danilo Dolci in a hunger strike for eight days (October 14 to 21), in the home of Mimmo and Giustina, whose child died of hunger. [1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note.

1) For two books of Danilo Dolci in English of Sicilians telling of their life experience see: Danilo Dolci. Sicilian Lives (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981, 304pp) and Danilo Dolci. To Feed the Hungry (London: Macgibbon and Kee, 1959, 327pp).

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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

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Peace Planners Appeals

 Peace Planners: Awake!.

Featured Image: Photo by  Eddie Kopp,  Unsplash.

The recent NATO Summit in Vilnius is an indication that the war planning community is busy at work in the spirit of Von Clausewitz that war is a continuation of politics by other means.  Thus there is a need for the peace planning community to be awake and be equally busy.  The challenges which humanity faces today: armed violence, persistent poverty, mass migration, and the consequences of climate change, require strong collective action at the local, the national, and the world level.

Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831). By Karl Wilhelm Wach, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.   

For peace planners, we need to analyse current armed conflicts and the strong tensions which may lead to violence.  Sometimes these tensions start as small localized events, such as tensions between military forces on the India-China frontier, but such tensions contain the seeds for later armed violence.  The recent trip of the 100 year old Henry Kissinger across the Pacific to discuss with the Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu is an indication that tensions in the Indo-Pacific area are being taken seriously.

Chinese Minister of National Defence, General Li Shangfu in Singapore at the Shangri La Dialogue on Sunday, 4th June 2023. By Photographer: Danial Hakim, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

NGOs bring their early warning capacities and problem-solving.

    For peace planners, there is a need to stregthen measures for early intervention.  Too often intervention by the United Nations or other intergovernmental agencies such as the African Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe occurs only once the conflict has become a serious dispute involving violence.

    For those of us who are outside of governmental institutions, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGO) for peace planning.  NGOs on bring their early warning capacities and problem-solving knowleadge to the United Nations and regional intergovernmental organizations.  Among NGOs, exchanges of information, the creation of regional or thematic working groups, and co-ordinated information campaigns are vital needs. 

Henry Kissinger at the 2009 premiere of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Photographer’s blog post about event and photograph. By David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Adlai Stevenson.

As soon as well-researched material is available, the issue is to get the information to the right people, at the right time, and in the right wording.  Timeliness and clarity of message are crucial.  Many governmental decision-makers receive thick reports, jargon-laden faxes, and briefing notes.

    The challenge for us who plan for a more peaceful world is to help develop processes for dialogue.  As Adlai Stevenson said at the U.N.

“We do not hold the vision of a world without conflict.  We do hold the vision of a world without war – and this inevitably requires an alternative system for dealing with conflict.”

Adlai Stevenson, Democratic candidate for president. Note: Contrast slightly increased from original image (see below) (1956). [1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.   

René Wadlow, President, The Association of World Citizens.

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

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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China-India Frontier Appeals

Track Two Efforts Needed to Reduce China-India Frontier Tensions.

Featured Image: Arunachal Pradesh – India. Photo by Unexplored NortheastUnsplash.

There has been a constant buildup of military forces by the governments of both India and China along their common frontiers.  The Indian provence of Arunachal Pradesh (called Zangman by the Chinese) with Itanagar as its capital is claimed by the Chinese.  The frontier was drawn in 1914 and is called the McMahon Line. The frontier dispute led to the October-November 1962 China-India armed conflict with important consequences especially for Indian foreign-policy making.

    In recent years there have been flashes of tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the military of both China and India have built new roads and observation posts along the LAC. Such tensions could grow as the relative political power of India and China grows and takes the form of a struggle for power.  Currently there are no public negotiations between the Chinese and Indian governments. India, this year, is the chair of the G20 grouping of states.  The Indian government has organized a number of G20 seminars on different issues in a number of Indian cities.  However, for the moment, China has not sent representatives to these seminars.

Group photo of the G20 leaders during the 2021 meeting. By Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation), CC BY 2.5 AR https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/ar/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Track Two.

    The Association of World Citizens has expressed its active concern with these tensions on the China-India frontier and the possibilty that the tensions will increase.  With the lack of formal China-India negotiations, the Association of World Citizens raises the possibility of strong Track Two discussions.

    The term Track Two was coined by the U.S. diplomat Joseph Montville in his book The Arrow and the Olive Branch.  Track Two discussions are organized by non-governmental organizations often with the help of academic institutions.  Track Two discussions among non-officials of conflicting parties aim to clarify outstanding disputes and see on what issues negotiations might progress.

    As Adam Curle, experienced in Quaker mediation efforts has written:

“In general, governments achieve their results because they have power to influence events, including the ability to reward or to punish.  Paradoxically, the strength of civilian peacemaking resides specifically in their lack of power.  They are neither feared nor courted for what they can do.  Instead, they are trusted and so may sometimes be enabled to play a part in peacemaking denied to more official diplomats.”

     Thus, it will be important to follow as closely as possible the results of  the G20 seminars in India and then build upon them in a Track Two pattern. Concerning the China-India frontier issues, both governments must be convinced that there is a considerable desire for peace among their citizens.  There is also a need for some involved in Track Two efforts to hve an integrated perspective of peacebuilding techniques and a long-term view of possibilities for transforming political relations.

  René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Balance and Harmony Education of World Citizenships.

A Day of Balance and Harmony.

Featured Picture: Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash.

              Our earth is a small star in the great universe
            Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet
Unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear,
Undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color, or theory.
                  Stephen Vincent Bennet.

The 21st of June;  the Summer Solstice;  is in many cultures the cosmic symbol of balance and harmony: balance between light and dark, between the universal and the local, between giving and receiving, between women and men, and between our inner and outer worlds. History records humanity’s preoccupation with the sun’s annual cycle.  Sites such as Stonehenge in England;  are thought to have been erected specifically to trace the path of the sun through the heavens.

The Ancient Egypt.

The sun has always had symbolic meaning.  As that most ancient Sanskrit prayer;  the Gayatri tells us;  the sun is a disc of golden light giving sustenance to the universe;  and Plato used the image of the sun to represent the idea of the One;  the Good. In the age of the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt;  the concept of harmony, order, and balance were personified by the goddess Ma’at;  the winged woman;  who replicated on earth, the celestial balance of order and beauty.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash.

Yin and Yang.

In Chinese culture; the principle of harmony and balance is represented by the Taoist elements of Yin and Yang.  If one element becomes too strong, imbalance results.  Therefore; it is necessary to strengthen the weaker element so that harmony can be restored.  There must be a skilled understanding of energy flows to understand the appropriate balance.  Understanding the conscious restoration of the balance of Yin/Yang energies owes much to the Tao Te Ching attributed to the 6th century BCE Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

philosopher Lao Tzu. Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ying and Yang Picture. By Klem, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 Heraclitus (cira 504 BCE).

At the same period, Greek philosophers concentrated in the Ionian cities also stressed the  need to understand the techniques of the redistribution of energies in order to achieve balance.  Heraclitus (cira 504 BCE) of the city of Ephesus is probably the best known of these  thinkers.  He too stressed that harmony is created by a balance of opposite forces.

The efforts to restore harmony by a balance of energies can often be long as there are structures and institutions which, although lifeless, take a long time to crumble.  One needs patience.  Yet, there are also times when unexpected  shifts are possible. One must always be sensitive to the flow of energy currents.

Bust of an unknown philosopher. This one is in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. One suggestion is that it is Heraclitus, but the museum makes no such assumption. By RoyFokker, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Harmony and Balance.

21 June is a day of recognition of the world-wide increase of light; which destroys ignorance.  It is a day in which we celebrate illumination as it dispels darkness.  It is a day during which we can all recognize the growth of greater consciousness; and concern for the common good. Therefore; the Association of World Citizens stresses cooperation; and visions of a better future. Harmony and balance include tolerance, acceptance, equality and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts.

Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash.

Due to the efforts of those with a world vision, people throughout the world are recognizing their responsibility to each other are are attempting to revolve ancient and entrenched global problems. Today, we see a new spirit of cooperation as we move toward a cosmopolitan, humanist world society.  We see a growing spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation, and dialogue.  We are one human race, and we inhabit one world. Therefore, we must see the world with global eyes, understand the world with a global mind, and love the world with a global heart.

 Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

politics without borders Appeals

Politics Beyond National Frontiers.

Featured Image: Photo by  Markus Spiske,  Unsplash.

In our current globalized world society, there is an increased role for politics without borders.  Politics no longer stops at the water’s edge but must play an active role on the world stage. 

However, unlike politics at the national level which usually has a parliament at which the actors can recite their lines, the world has no world parliament as such.  Thus new and inventive ways must be found so that world public opinion can be heard and acted upon.

Beyond The Borders of Individual Countries. 

The United Nations General Assembly is as close to a world parliament that we have today.  However, all the official participants are diplomats appointed by their respective States – 195 members.  U.N. secretariat members, the secretariat members of U.N. Specialized Agencies such as UNESCO and the ILO are in the hall ways or coffee shops to give advice.  Secretariat members of the financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF are also there to give advice on costs and the limits of available funds.  The representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in consultative status with the U.N. who can speak at sessions of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council cannot address the General Assembly directly. However, they are also in the coffee shops and may send documents to the U.N. Missions of governments.

Politics without borders requires finding ways to express views for action beyond the borders of individual countries. 

Today, most vital issues that touch the lives of many people go beyond the individual State:

  • The consequences of climate change.
  • The protection of biodiversity.
  • The resolution of armed conflicts.
  • The violations of human rights.
  • More just world trade pattern. 

Thus we need to find ways of looking at the world with a global mind and an open heart.  This perspective is an aim of world citizenship.

However, world citizens are not yet so organized as to be able to impact political decisions at the United Nations and in enough individual States so as to have real influence.  The policy papers and Appeals of the Association of World Citizens are often read with interest by the government representatives to whom they are sent.  However, the Association of World Citizens is an NGO among many and does not have the number of staff as such international NGOs as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace.

We still need to find effective ways so that humanity can come together to solve global problems – that is – politics without borders.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Frank Baum Portraits of World Citizens.

Frank Baum: The Father of the Wizard of Oz.

Featured Image: Danielle Bowen, Kevin Cahoon, PJ Benjamin, Nicholas Rodriguez and Stephen Wallem in The Wizard of Oz at The Muny in 2016. By Meetmeatthemuny, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

L. Frank Baum (1856 –  1916) whose birth anniversary we mark on 15 May is largely forgotten as a writer while his 1899 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz lives on through the 1939 film with Judy Garland as Dorothy and references in essays to the Tin Woodman without a heart or Toto, Dorothy’s faithful dog.

The story begins as Dorothy and Toto are picked up from their farm in Kansas by a cyclone and carried into another world − the land of Oz.  Dorothy wants to return to Kansas and is advised to consult the Wizard who lives in the Emerald City at the center of the Land of Oz.  Dorothy and Toto set out on the Yellow Brick Road for the Emerald City.  On the way they meet three companions, each of whom joins her in the  hope that the Wizard of Oz will be able to give him what he lacks.

The first is the Scarecrow whose head is of straw and wants some brains so he can think.  The second is the Tin Woodman who wants a heart so he can love.  The third is the Cowardly Lion, who should be the king of the forest, but this lion is afraid of everything.  He wants courage so that he can act.

When they finally meet the Wizard of Oz, he turns out to be a human like Dorothy.  He was a balloonist in Nebraska who worked in a circus, going up in the balloon to attract a crowd. One day a strong wind blew him all the way to Oz where the inhabitants took him to be a great wizard.

 Portrait of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. By University of California, Los Angeles Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Wizard of Oz has all the essentials of a myth.  

It is set in a perilous, enchanted land where the human protagonist is engaged in a quest.  She faces great difficulties but is helped by extraordinary friends who are also on a quest.  The three friendly helpers represent what they think they lack: intelligence, love, courage.

At the end, each finds within himself the qualities they are seeking.  We each have within ourselves the qualities we seek.  The myth is a metaphor for balancing energies  at all levels.  Just as the spiritual transformation of a person must be initiated from within, so too collective bodies such as the Emerald City must discover the inner power to balance their energies and transform themselves into more humane systems.

The Adventures and Crises of the Oz myth.

Both individuals and organizations can become whole only if they can balance intellect, emotions, and courage. Through this balance, individuals and organizations develop a sense of purpose, a direction for their quest.  Many spiritual traditions emphasize the importance of balancing one’s energies as a means for spiritual growth, such as the Taoist Yin and Yang, thought of as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ energies. The balance must occur within each person who has both masculine and feminine qualities within.  The balance must be initiated from within the person, but this inner response comes from contact with external forces − thus the adventures and crises of the Oz myth.

Dorothy as the central character of the story.

Frank Baum as a newspaper editor was a strong advocate of the rights of women, and his wife was very active in efforts for the right of women to vote.  Thus, it is not surprising to find Dorothy as the central character of the story.  She symbolizes all the various energies and forces of the story.  She finds her personal balance  resulting in her spiritual transformation and her ability to achieve her quest − to return ‘home’.

As with all myths, the story can be read at different levels.  However, Frank Baum had a strong interest in Asian thought, and a spiritual reading of the myth is not adding something that was not consciously there.

Notes:

The MGM film with its songs sung by Judy Garland is out as a CD and merits seeing or re-seeing.

For a biography see: Katharine M. Rogers L. Frank Baum. Creator of Oz. A Biography (New York: St Martins Press, 2002)

To place Oz in the broader context of US myth making see Brian Attebery The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1980)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Law of the Sea Appeals

Our Common Oceans and Seas.

Featured Picture: Photo by Alice Mourou on Unsplash.

The people of the earth having agreed that the advancement of man in spiritual excellence and physical welfare is the common goal of mankind…therefore the age of nations must end, and the era of humanity begin.”

Preamble to the Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution.

The Association of World Citizens has long been concerned with the Law of the Sea; and had been active during the 10-year negotiations; on the law of the sea during the 1970s; the meetings being held one month a year; alternatively in New York and Geneva. The world citizens position for the law of the sea was largely based on a

Three-point framework:

a) That the oceans and seas were the common heritage of humanity; and should be seen as a living symbol of the unity of humanity.

b) That ocean management should be regulated by world law created; as in as democratic manner as possible.

c) That the wealth of the oceans; considered as the common heritage of mankind should contain mechanisms of global redistribution; especially for the development of the poorest; a step toward a more just economic order; on land as well as at sea. 

The “Common Heritage”.

The concept of the oceans as the common heritage of humanity; had been introduced into the U.N. awareness; by a moving speech in the U.N. General Assembly by Arvid Pardo; Ambassador of Malta in November 1967. 

Under traditional international sea law; the resources of the oceans; except those within a narrow territorial sea near the coast line were regarded as “no one’s property” or more positively as “common property.”  The “no one’s property” opened the door to the exploitation of resources by the most powerful; and the most technologically advanced States.

The “common heritage” concept was put forward as a way of saying that “humanity” – at least as represented by the States in the U.N. – should have some say as to the way the resources of the oceans; and seas should be managed.  Thus, began the 1970s Law of the Seas negotiations. 

Arvid Pardo (2022). By User:MSacerdoti, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Elisabeth Mann Borgese.

Perhaps with or without the knowledge of Neptune; lord of the seas; the Maltese voted to change the political party in power; just as the sea negotiations began. Arvid Pardo was replaced as Ambassador to the U.N; by a man; who had neither the vision nor the diplomatic skills of Pardo.  Thus; during the 10 years of negotiations the “common heritage” flame was carried by world citizens; in large part by Elisabeth Mann Borgese; with whom I worked closely during the Geneva sessions of the negotiations. 

Elisabeth Mann Borgese  (1918-2002) whose birth anniversary we mark on 24 April; was a strong-willed woman.  She had to come out from under the shadow of both her father, Thomas Mann; the German writer and Nobel laureate for Literature; and her husband Giuseppe Antonio Borgese (1882-1952); Italian literary critic and political analyst. 

Frankreich, Bandol: Menschen; Elisabeth Mann (1936). By Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thomas Mann.

From 1938; Thomas Mann lived in Princeton, New Jersey and gave occasional lectures at Princeton University. Thomas Mann; whose novel The Magic Mountain was one of the monuments of world literature between the two World Wars; always felt that he represented the best of German culture against the uncultured mass of the Nazis.  He took himself and his role very seriously; and his family existed basically to facilitate his thinking and writing.

Thomas Mann Picture: Nobel Foundation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese.

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese had a regular professor’s post at the University of Chicago; but often lectured at other universities on the evils of Mussolini.  Borgese; who had been a leading literary critic and university professor in Milan; left Italy for the United States in 1931; when Mussolini announced that an oath of allegiance to the Fascist State; would be required of all Italian professors.

For Borgese; with a vast culture including the classic Greeks, the Renaissance Italians, and the 19th century nationalist writers; Mussolini was an evil caricature; which too few Americans recognized as a destructive force in his own right; and not just as the fifth wheel of Hitler’s armed car.  

The Age of Nations.

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese met Elisabeth Mann on a lecture tour at Princeton, and despite being close to Thomas Mann in age; the couple married very quickly shortly after their  meeting. Elisabeth moved to the University of Chicago; and was soon caught up in Borgese’s efforts to help the transition from the Age of Nations to the Age of Humanity.

For Borgese; the world was in a watershed period. The Age of Nations − with its nationalism  which could be a liberating force in the 19th century as with the unification of Italy − had come to a close with the First World War.

The war clearly showed that nationalism was from then on only the symbol of death. However, the Age of Humanity; which was the next step in human evolution; had not yet come into being; in part because too many people were still caught in the shadow play of the Age of Nations.

A World Constitution for The Atomic Age.

Since University of Chicago scientists had played an important role in the coming of the Atomic Age; Giuseppe Antonio Borgese and Richard McKeon; Dean of the University felt that the University should take a major role in drafting; a world constitution for the Atomic Age.

Thus; the Committee to Frame a World Constitution; an interdisciplinary committee under the leadership of Robert Hutchins; head of the University of Chicago, was created in 1946. To re-capture the hopes and fears of the 1946-1948; period when the World Constitutions was being written; it is useful to read the book written by one of the members of the drafting team: Rexford Tugwell. A Chronicle of Jeopardy (University of Chicago Press, 1955). The book is Rex Tugwell’s reflections on the years 1946-1954; written each year in August to mark the A-bombing of Hiroshima.

Elisabeth had become the secretary of the Committee and the editor of its journal Common Cause.   The last issue of Common Cause was in June 1951. G.A. Borgese published a commentary on the Constitution; dealing especially with his ideas on the nature of justice. It was the last thing he wrote; and the book was published shortly after his death: G.A.Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (University of Chicago Press, 1953).

In 1950; the Korean War started. Hope for a radical transformation of the UN faded.  Borgese and his wife went to live in Florence; where weary and disappointed, he died in 1952.

A Constitution for the World.

The drafters of the World Constitution went on to other tasks.  Robert Hutchins left the University of Chicago to head a “think tank”- Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions – taking some of the drafters; including Elisabeth, with him. She edited a booklet on the Preliminary Draft with a useful introduction A Constitution for the World (1965) However; much of the energy of the Center went into the protection of freedom of thought and expression in the USA; at the time under attack by the primitive anti-communism of then Senator Joe McCarthy.

In the mid-1950s; from world federalists and world citizens came various proposals for UN control of areas not under national control: UN control of the High Seas and the Waterways; especially after the 1956 Suez Canal conflict; and of Outer Space. A good overview of these proposals is contained in James A.  Joyce. Revolution on East River (New York: Ablard-Schuman, 1956).

Law of the Sea.

 After the 1967 proposal of Arvid Pardo; Elisabeth Mann Borgese  turned her attention and energy to the law of the sea. As the UN Law of the Sea Conference continued through the 1970s;   Elisabeth was active in seminars and conferences with the delegates, presenting ideas, showing that a strong treaty on the law of the sea would be a big step forward for humanity.

Many of the issues raised during the negotiations leading to the Convention; especially the concept of the Exclusive Economic Zone; actively battled by Elisabeth; but actively championed by Ambassador Alan Beesley of Canada; are with us today in the China seas tensions.

While the resulting Convention of the Law of the Sea has not revolutionized world politics – as some of us  hoped in the early 1970s – the Convention is an important building block in the development of world law.

We are grateful for the values; and the energy that Elisabeth Mann Borgese embodied especialy at a time; when cooperative action through the United Nations is under attack by some narrow nationalist leaders. World Citizens are still pushing for the concept of the common heritage of humanity.

Arvid Pardo monument at the University of Malta. By Continentaleurope at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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