Tag: <span>Education</span>

Arnold Toynbee Rapprochement of Cultures.

Arnold Toynbee: A World Citizens view of challenge and…

Featured Image: Arnold Toynbee. By Atyyahesir, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975)  was a historian, a philosopher of history, and an advisor on the wider Middle East to the British Government.  Already a specialist in Greece and the Middle East from his university studies; and in the intelligence services during the First World War; he was an expert delegate on the English delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.

Our modern Western nationalism has an ecclesiastical tinge, for, while in one aspect it is a reversion to the idolatrous self-worship of the tribe which was the only religion known to Man before the first of the ‘higher religions’ were discovered by an oppressed internal proletariat…it is a tribalism with a difference.  The primitive religion has been deformed into an enormity through being power-driven with a misapplied Christian driving force. 

Arnold Toynbee A Study of History.

Classical Greece and Decadence of a Civilization.

The breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of new states in the Middle East followed.  Also there was the start of Zionist activities in Palestine and frontier and population transfers between Greece and Turkey – all issues on which Arnold Toynbee gave advice.  He became director of studies of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) an early “think tank” created to advise the British Government (1).

At the same time that he was an advisor on the Middle East (Chatham House producing a respected Yearbook on world affairs); Toynbee continued writing on the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome; much influenced by the spirit of Thucydides.  Toynbee was struck by the alternative between union and division as the defining characteristic of classical Greece.  These were the centuries of the flowering and then final decadence of a civilization; which bears remarkable parallels with the history and perspectives of modern Europe.

 

Thucydides. This is the plaster cast bust currently in exposition of Zurab Tsereteli’s gallery in Moscow (part of Russian Academy of Arts), formerly from the collection of castings of Pushkin museum made in early 1900-1910s.
Original bust is a Roman copy (c. 100 CE) of an early 4th Century BCE Greek original, and is located in Holkham Hall in Norfolk, UK. By user:shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Vision of World Citizens.

Toynbee argued that Greece’s economic development; based on colonization and commerce; together with the maintenance of the political sovereignty of the very small territorial units of the city-state; created an imbalance that could not last.  The city-states; if they did not want to return to autocracy and economic backwardness; should have created a pan-Hellenic political organization to manage problems.  In the same way that Greece failed to mitigate the anarchic character of relations between city-states; Western civilization may flounder and fail.

As Toynbee wrote in Mankind and Mother Earth:

“Evidently few people are ready to recognize that the institution of local sovereign states has failed repeatedly, during the last 5,000 years, to meet mankind’s political needs, and that, in a global society, this institution is bound to prove to be transitory once again and this time more surely than ever before.”

Toynbee placed his hope in creative leaders; those with the vision of world citizens; who, seeing the challenges of the times; would respond with the creation of new more just and peaceful institutions. He placed high hopes in those working for a united Europe which would put an end to the Germany-France-England tensions which had led to two World Wars (2). Toynbee believed that civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively.

However, unlike Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West (1918), Toynbee believed that decline was not inevitable, but that there could be regenerative forces in response to challenges. Those with a world vision and strong energy must come to the fore. Toynbee’s call to enlightened leadership remains a call to us for action.

Oswald Spengler. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R06610 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Romain Rolland Rapprochement of Cultures.

Romain Rolland: The Cosmopolitan Spirit.

Featured Image: Romain Rolland on the balcony of his home (162, Boulevard de Montparnasse, Paris), 1914. View to the south-south-east. The building at the center belongs to the church of the monastary of the Sisters of Visitation (68 bis, Avenue Denfert-Rocherau), and the cupola at the far right is the observatory of Paris. By Agence de presse Meurisse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the major voices of the spirit of Citizens of the World is Romain Rolland (1866-1944). He is the symbol of those who would not let war destroy the cultural bridges between peoples, especially during the 1914-1918 World War.

Romain Rolland came from a French family with many generations in the legal profession. However, from his secondary school days on, his interest was in music, painting, history, and literature. Early he was drawn to German music, especially Wagner and Beethoven. Later he wrote an important biography of both Beethoven and Handel. He did his university studies at the prestigous Ecole Normale Superieure, a specialized higher education school which trains university professors. He was in the same class as Paul Claudel who became a diplomat and well-known poet.

At university he became interested in Russian literature and started a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy whose ideas he admired. After his studies, he received a scholarship to study in Rome in order to write his doctoral thesis on the history of opera. He also collected information for later articles on Italian painting.

French poet, playwright and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887). By Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy: The Law of Love.

Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine.

On his return to Paris, he started teaching on the history of art and the history of music at the Sorbonne, the leading French university. He wrote a number of plays dealing with the French Revolution and began his collaboration with Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine , a literary journal edited by Charles Péguy, a poet and writer who increasingly wrote on political subjects.

In 1903, Rolland began publishing in Les Cahiers what became his major novel

Jean-Christophe which came out first in sections over a 10-year period and led to his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. In his novel, Jean-Christophe is a young German intellectual, a friend of young French intellectuals. The novel has as its leitmotif that friendship can overcome political divisions such as those created by the 1871 German-French war and the annexation by Germany of Alsace and Lorraine.

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

Guns of August.

Romain Rolland had often spent his summer vacations in Switzerland, beginning when he was a boy with his parents. Thus, he was spending the summer of 1914 in Switzerland when the “guns of August” marked the start of the First World War. Because of his age, 48, and his fragile health, Rolland was exempt from French military service. He stayed on in Switzerland to work with a Red Cross-related International Agency of Prisoners of War in Geneva.

However, later, his enemies claimed that he was anti-patriotic and had left France for the safety of Switzerland. As he was already well known as a writer and intellectual, he was interviewed and asked to write articles for the leading Geneva newspaper, Le Journal de Genève as well as for the newly created intellectual journal Demain (Tomorrow). He brought these articles together in a book Au Dessus de la Mélée (Above the Battle) though later he thought that “Au-dessus de la haine” (Above hate) would have been the better title.

Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

As a result of the war, Rolland decided to stay on in Switzerland and bought a house at Villneuve, the opposite end of the lake from Geneva. The house was in the park of a well-known hotel where the many visitors to Rolland could stay. He lived at Villeneuve for 26 years until 1938 when nostalgic for the area of his boyhood, he bought a house in central France and moved in shortly before the start of the Second World War.

It was from Villeneuve that Rolland turned his attention toward India and the contribution that Indian thought could make to a Europe destroyed by its divisions and hates. Thus Rolland turned to the two living Indian thinkers whose contribution he thought crucial: first Rabindranath Tagore and then Mahatma Gandhi.

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rabindranath Tagore: The Call of the Universal Real.

 Image: Gandhi spinning at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.

He also wrote books on two related Indian religious thinkers: Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. As Rolland never learned to speak or read English, he had to count on his sister Madeleine who lived in his household much of the time. There is little original in his portraits of Ramakrishna (1929) and Vivekananda (1930) but because of Rolland’s fame, the biographies were widely read and so introduced the two to a wider French-reading public, well beyond the narrow circle of specialists on Indian philosophy.

Famous photograph of Ramakrishna (1836-1886). By Abinash Chandra Dna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Higher detail image of Swami Vivekananda, September, 1893, Chicago, On the left Vivekananda wrote in his own handwriting: “One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee.” By The original uploader was Dziewa at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Hesse and Hermann Keyserling.

In Rabindranath Tagore, Rolland found a common cultural bridge-builder as well as a fellow Nobel Prize for Literature holder. Both Tagore and Rolland saw literature, music and painting as instruments of broad world cooperation and avenues of understanding. In his letters to and discussions with Tagore, Rolland stressed the possibilities for cultural inter-penetration, advising against the imposition of either civilization on the other. Rolland was interested in spiritual and cultural revitalization following the lines of his friend Hermann Hesse and Count Hermann Keyserling. Rolland hoped to introduce Indian thought into the European framework intellectually and morally drained by the 1914-1918 War. Rolland used his influence to promote the translation and publishing of Indian writers in Europe.

Hermann Hesse. By See page for author, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Graf Keyserling, German philosopher. By AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope.

However, it is as the popularizer and exponent of Gandhi’s thought that Rolland played a crucial role for nonviolent action. Gandhi was the embodiment of many of Rolland’s positions: a non-Leninist opposition to imperialism and a concern for movements of national independence. For Rolland, Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope and a political alternative to the pervasiveness of force in the West. Nonviolence would give to the demoralized pacifists; who had been unable to prevent World War I a vigorous faith and an experimental tactic for social change.

Romain Rolland asserted that the real enemy in the nonviolent struggle was personal weakness and the lack of faith − not the presence of entrenched and violent enemies.

“We do not fight violence so mush as weakness. The road to peace is through self-sacrifice.”

As with the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda biographies, Rolland had to depend on his sister’s translations to write his 1923 biography of Gandhi based largely on Gandhi’s writings about South Africa, Gandhi’s articles in Young India as well as Tagore’s letters to Rolland which often mentioned Gandhi. Rolland’s short biography sold well, some 100,000 copies the first year followed by translations into Russian, German and English.

On a more personal level, one English reader of Rolland’s biography was Madeleine Slade who asked Rolland to write to Gandhi so she could join Gandhi’s ashram. Rolland did, and Slade, renamed Mira by Gandhi, became a close disciple and served as intermediary between Rolland and Gandhi until the 1939 start of the Second World War when correspondence between India and France became impossible. Rolland’s fragile health prevented him from traveling to India and the only face to face meeting was in 1931 when Gandhi, from negotiations in London went to Villeneuve to meet Rolland.

In his autobiographic Discovery of India Jawaharlal Nehru wrote:

“In recent years that great European and typical product of the best European culture, Romain Rolland, made a more synthetic and very friendly approach to the basic foundations of Indian thought: for him East and West represented different phases of the human soul.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, Former Prime Minister of India. By AFP staff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Genocide Convention UN: Growth of World Law.

Genocide Convention: 9 December 1948.

Featured Image: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Genocide Convention: 9 December 1948.
An Unused but not Forgotten Standard of World Law.

Genocide is the most extreme consequence of racial discrimination and ethnic hatred. Genocide has as its aim the destruction, wholly or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such. The term was proposed by the legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, drawing on the Greek genos (people or tribe) and the Latin cide (to kill).(1) The policies and war crimes of the Nazi German government were foremost on the minds of those who drafted the Genocide Convention, but the policy was not limited to the Nazi. (2)

The Genocide Convention is a landmark in the efforts to develop a system of universally accepted standards which promote an equitable world order for all members of the human family to live in dignity. Four articles are at the heart of this Convention and are here quoted in full to understand the process of implementation proposed by the Association of World Citizens, especially of the need for an improved early warning system.

Article I

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • (a) Killing members of the group;
  • (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Unlike most humanitarian international law which sets out standards but does not establish punishment, Article III sets out that the following acts shall be punishable:

  • (a) Genocide;
  • (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
  • (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
  • (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
  • (e) Complicity in genocide.

Article IV

Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

Article VIII

Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III.

Numerous reports have reached the Secretariat of the United Nations of actual, or potential, situations of genocide: mass killings; cases of slavery and slavery-like practices, in many instances with a strong racial, ethnic and religious connotation – with children as the main victims, in the sense of article II (b) and (c). Despite factual evidence of these genocides and mass killings as in Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and in other places, no Contracting Party to the Genocide Convention has called for any action under article VIII of the Convention.

As Mr Nicodene Ruhashyankiko of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities wrote in his study of proposed mechanisms for the study of information on genocide and genocidal practices “A number of allegations of genocide have been made since the adoption of the 1948 Convention. In the absence of a prompt investigation of these allegations by an impartial body, it has not been possible to determine whether they were well-founded. Either they have given rise to sterile controversy or, because of the political circumstances, nothing further has been heard about them.”

Yet the need for speedy preventive measures has been repeatedly underlined by United Nations Officials. On 8 December 1998, in his address at UNESCO, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said:

“Many thought, no doubt, that the horrors of the Second World War – the camps, the cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust – could not happen again. And yet they have, in Cambodia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, In Rwanda. Our time – this decade even – has shown us that man’s capacity for evil knows no limits. Genocide – the destruction of an entire people on the basis of ethnic or national origins – is now a word of our time, too, a stark and haunting reminder of why our vigilance must be eternal.”

Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan spoke with the media at the United Nations Office at Geneva following the June 30, 2012 Meeting of the Action Group for Syria. By US Mission in Geneva, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In her address Translating words into action to the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1998, the then High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, declared :

” The international community’s record in responding to, let alone preventing, gross human rights abuses does not give grounds for encouragement. Genocide is the most flagrant abuse of human rights imaginable. Genocide was vivid in the minds of those who framed the Universal Declaration, working as they did in the aftermath of the Second World War. The slogan then was ‘never again’. Yet genocide and mass killing have happened again – and have happened before the eyes of us all – in Rwanda, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and other parts of the globe.”

We need to heed the early warning signs of genocide. Officially-directed massacres of civilians of whatever numbers cannot be tolerated, for the organizers of genocide must not believe that more widespread killing will be ignored. Yet killing is not the only warning sign. The Convention drafters, recalling the radio addresses of Hitler and the constant flow of words and images, set out as punishable acts “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”.

Mary Robinson (2014). By Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Genocide Convention

The Genocide Convention, in its provisions concerning public incitement, sets the limits of political discourse. It is well documented that public incitement – whether by Governments or certain non-governmental actors, including political movements – to discriminate against, to separate forcibly, to deport or physically eliminate large categories of the population of a given State, or the population of a State in its entirety, just because they belong to certain racial, ethnic or religious groups, sooner or later leads to war. It is also evident that, at the present time, in a globalized world, even local conflicts have a direct impact on international peace and security in general.

Therefore, the Genocide Convention is also a constant reminder of the need to moderate political discourse, especially constant and repeated accusations against a religious, ethnic and social category of persons. Had this been done in Rwanda, with regard to the radio Mille Collines, perhaps that premeditated and announced genocide could have been avoided or mitigated.

For the United Nations to be effective in the prevention of genocide, there needs to be an authoritative body which can investigate and monitor a situation well in advance of the outbreak of violence. As has been noted, any Party to the Genocide Convention (and most States are Parties) can bring evidence to the UN Security Council, but none has. In the light of repeated failures and due to pressure from non-governmental organizations, the Secretary-General has named an individual advisor on genocide to the UN Secretariat. However, he is one advisor among many, and there is no public access to the information that he may receive.

Direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Therefore, a relevant existing body must be strengthened to be able to deal with the first signs of tensions, especially ‘direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” The Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) created to monitor the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination would be the appropriate body to strengthen, especially by increasing its resources and the number of UN Secretariat members which service the CERD. Through its urgent procedures mechanisms, CERD has the possibility of taking early-warning measures aimed at preventing existing strife from escalating into conflicts, and to respond to problems requiring immediate attention. A stronger CERD more able to investigate fully situations should mark the world’s commitment to the high standards of world law set out in the Genocide Convention.

Notes

1) Raphael Lemkin. Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for World Peace, 1944).
2) For a good overview see: Samantha Power. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002)
3) E/CN.4/Sub.2/1778/416 Para 614

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Richard St. Barbe Baker Rapprochement of Cultures.

Richard St. Barbe Baker: The Life of the Forests

Featured Image. Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

Today, there is a growing awareness that cooperation is required to protect and manage integrated ecosystems which cross national frontiers.  This is particularly important in the case of forest management.  Trans-frontier conservation cooperation, in which two or more States cooperate in the management and the conservation of forests has increased a good deal in recent years.

Much of this effort is due to the work of world citizen Richard St. Barbe Baker.  From the late 1920s to the early 1980s, Richard St. Barbe Baker traveled the globe, warning of the dangers of forest destruction, forest clear-cutting, and the greedy waste of natural resources.

We had supper together in Geneva in 1964, and he recounted his experiences in the Sahara trying to prevent the southward movement of the desert toward the Sahel  States.  He told me of his adventures in the Sahara with a European driver who wanted to kill himself by pushing  the team to its limits.  Fortunately, St. Barbe Baker, who had a deep spiritual base, was able to convince his teammate that life was worth living.  Even without wanting to kill oneself, the study of the Sahara was difficult.  St. Barbe Baker tell the story in his book Sahara Challenge (1954).

Sand dunes of Erg Awbari (Idehan Ubari) in the Sahara desert region of the Category:Wadi Al Hayaa District, of the Fezzan region in southwestern Libya. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

Men of the Trees.

Richard St. Barbe Baker was born 9 October 1880 in Southhampton, England and learned the art of planting trees from his father, a Protestant minister devoted to the conservation of Nature.  After his studies at Cambridge University and service in the British Army in the First World War, he went to the then British colony of Kenya and began his work on forestry protection.  He first worked among the Kikuyu, a major tribe which already had ceremonies to be in harmony with the forests and the trees. He recognized their value and methods protecting and sustaining the forests.

In 1922, he created the society “Men of the Trees” which is the group most associated with his efforts.  He stressed that there is a need for conservation of genetic resources, wise management and utilization of existing natural forests with due regard to their long-term productivity.

Baker stressed the need to view the earth as a living whole and described the role that trees played in regulating weather, conserving soil, and regulating rivers.

In the introduction to the republication of his book My Life My Trees, Peter Caddy of the Findhorn community wrote:

Here is the life of an Earth healer, struggling against apathy, indifference and plain greed – a man ahead of his time …If one man can do so much, what coundn’t we achieve if all of us worked together.” (1)

Subsistence Forestry .

Skillful conservation and management of forests is vital to people who practice “subsistence forestry”.  In subsistence forestry, trees and tree products are used for fuel, food, medicine, house and fence poles and agricultural implements.  In some cultures, before taking anything from a tree, an offering is given, thus making an exchange.

For those of us who do not live from subsistence forestry, there is still the need to pay close attention to trans-frontier conservation which plays an essential role in the protection of ecosystems.  These areas provide possibilities for promoting biodiversity and sustainable uses across politically-divided ecosystems.

Plaque marking a tree planted by St Barbe Baker in PowerscourtEnniskerryIreland. By User:SeamusSweeney, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note.

1) Richard St. Barbe Baker. My Life My Trees (Forres: Findhorn, 1985).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Edmond Privat Rapprochement of Cultures.

Edmond Privat: The Inner Light.

Featured Image: Esperanto World Congress, Vienna 1924. Prominent group of participants, from left to right: Lidia Zamenhof, Edmond Privat, Klara Zamenhof (1924). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

17 August is the birth anniversary of Edmond Privat in 1889 − a leading world citizen of the first wave of world citizen action closely associated with the League of Nations.  It was natural for Privat, a citizen of Geneva, to be drawn to the efforts of the League of Nations.  He served from 1923 to 1927 as the vice-delegate for Iran.  In the early League days, many States did not have a permanent representative to the League and so named an “intellectual personality” to represent the country. 

The Interpreter and Orator.

Privat also worked at different times at the League as an interpreter from English to French.  In those days, there was no simultanious interpretation but only consequtive interpretation. The interpreter, standing near the speaker had to convey some of the same drama in his voice. Privat was an experienced orator, one of the first to make regular radio broadcasts and so was much appreciated as an interpreter. At the time, the League Secretariat staff was small, and there was a good deal of interaction among the staff and the government delegates.  Thus Privat, already a political journalist, could follow closely world events and the League efforts.

Privat served as an interpreter for Fridtjof Nansen, whose work for World War I refugees and relief to Russia after the Revolution, marked Privat who developed a life-long concern for refugees and relief from hunger.

Fridtjof Nansen is a model for Erik Werenskiold’s bust of him in the artist’s studio. Half figure. By National Library of Norway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Romain Rolland and Gandhi.

Privat was a close friend of Romain Rolland who lived during the 1920s and 1930s at Villeneuve near Geneva.  Romain Rolland was one of the first in Europe to write about the philosophy-in-acts of Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi had gone to London in 1931 for a government roundtable on the future of India.  Romain Rolland invited Gandhi to Villeneuve and asked Privat to translate for him and to organize two public talks for Gandhi. Privat was much impressed with Gandhi, and Privat and his wife left shortly afterwards for India to report on Gandhi’s efforts, resulting in a book Aux Indes Avec Gandhi.

Romain Rolland, Nobel laureate in Literature 1915. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Through Rolland and Gandhi, Privat became interested in Indian philosophy and shared Gandhi’s views that there was an inner light that was  a common core of all the world’s religions.  

As Privat wrote :

The Inner Light opens us to the sense of the universal and the eternal. The Inner Light can recognize no frontier and can exclude no one. The Inner Light can make no distinctions of race, color or social condition. Love can not be bound by passports or visas. The Inner Light is seen not in words but in attitudes and acts.”

Mahatma Gandhi. By Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Esperanto Congress.

Privat had a life-long passion to promote the universal.  He looked for ways to build bridges among peoples and had learned Esperanto from childhood. As a secondary school student, he attended the first universal Esperanto congress in France in 1905. He then took on the task to organize the next Esperanto congress in Geneva in 1906.  Privat had a talent as an organizer and virtually to the end of his life in 1962, he was organizing conferences, creating committees as well as writing articles.

During the First World War, he was sent as a war correspondent to Poland where he met Ludoviko Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto.  Later Privat wrote a biography in Esperanto Vivo de Zamenhof, translated into many languages.  From his observations in Poland, he became a champion for the liberation of Poland from Russian influence.   In 1918, Privat published L’Europe et l’Odyssée de la Pologne aux XIX siecle.

L. L. Zamenhof  (1859–1917). Universala Esperanto-Asocio. By L. L. Zamenhof, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Wars.

Privat’s observations of the First World War and its consequences confirmed his earlier conviction that war was evil and the result of narrow nationalism.  To overcome war, there was a need for a cosmopolitan – world spirit.  People needed to think of themselves as citizens of the world.  He saw the League of Nations as a first step toward a federation of the world.  After the Second World War, he worked actively for a stronger United Nations and the creation of a “Second Chamber” to which people would be elected rather than being appointed by governments as is the case for the UN General Assembly. He published Trois experiences federalistes (USA, Suisse, S.D.N.) on federalism as an approach to a stronger world structure.

Privat’s vision of the unity of the world included a strong emphasis on the equality between women in men − this in a country where, at the time, women could not vote or hold public office.

Today, much of the cosmopolitan-world citizen emphasis is on understanding the forces leading to world integration. Not all “globalization” works for the benefit of all people.  Nevertheless, trends are to ever grater interaction among the representatives of governments, transnational corporations, and non-governmental organizations – social movements. There is less emphasis on a common language of communication such as Esperanto.  It is likely that English plays the role that some hoped that Esperanto would become, although Esperanto still has its chanpions.  Privat is an important symbol of those who worked between the two World Wars for new positive attitudes and strong inter-governmental structures that would create a climate of peace.  The tasks still  face us today.

o: Edmond Privat, drawing, 1925 (made during the UK in Geneva), photo archive of AdUEA, BHH of eo: UEA. By Oszkár Lázár (1890–), Geneva, Rue Lévrier 3, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizen.

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Rex Tugwell Portraits of World Citizens.

Rex Tugwell: Planning and Action for Rural Reconstruction.

Featured Image:  Rexford G. Tugwell, administrator, Resettlement Administration.

Rex Tugwell (1891 – 1979 )  active in the world citizenship movement, was an economist and an advocate of government planning.

Back to Nature

As world-wide climate change has made the issues of land use, water, desertification, and land reform vital issues; it is useful to recall the contributions of Rexford Tugwell; whose birth anniversary we mark on 10 July .

He did his PhD studies at Columbia University in New York City.  He was influenced by Scott Nearing in the Economics Department and John Dewey in Philosophy. 

Scott Nearing was a socialist very interested by the efforts of planning in the USSR.  Nearing was also a follower of Leo Tolstoy.  He gave up university teaching; bought a farm in New England and became an advocate of “Back to Nature” and simple living.

Scott Nearing, 1883- Abstract/medium: 1 photographic print. By Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, PPOC, Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Dewey, bust portrait. By Underwood & Underwood, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana, 1908, the first color photo portrait in Russia. By Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The “Brain Trust”

Rex Tugwell started teaching at Columbia; and his writings on the need for economic planning was quickly noted after the 1929 Wall Street “crash” and the start of the Great Depression. He was asked to be a member of the early circle around Franklin D. Roosevelt; then Governor of New York. 

The circle of economists became known as the “Brain Trust“; and they prepared proposals and drafted speeches for Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign for President in 1932.  Once elected; Roosevelt named Tugwell as Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture to work closely with the Secretary of Agriculture; Henry A. Wallace.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cropped photograph of Henry Agard Wallace, 1888–1965, bust portrait, facing left (1940).D.N. Townsend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dust Bowls

The agriculture sector was one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy by the 1929 – 1939 Great Depression.  To meet the war needs of the First World War; US agriculture had been stimulated.  Land which  had never been plowed was opened to grow wheat and other grains. 

There was an increase in the production of animals for meat.  Much of the land opened for grain was not really appropriate; having been used in the past for pasture.  With several years of drought; the soil eroded and turned to dust; swept away by winds.  Thus the term “Dust Bowls” which covered much of the Middle West and Western states such as Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico.

An Agriculture Scientist

Tugwell and Henry Wallace who had been the editor of a leading farm journal and an agriculture scientist concerned with seeds; saw things in very much the same way; as reflected in a book each wrote the same year. (1)  Tugwell as Undersecretary; helped in the creation of the Soil Conservation Service in 1933 to restore poor quality land; and to promote better agricultural methods. 

Greenbelt Towns

He also helped to create the Resettlement Administration; whose aim was to create new healthy communities for the rural unemployed relatively close to urban centers; where they would have access to services – what came to be called “Greenbelt towns.”

As Henry Wallace; testifying before Congress in 1938 concerning a program of loans to farm tenants  said :

” Our homestead and reclamation movements were aimed primarily at putting agricultural land of the Nation into the hands of owner-operators.  But we failed to such an extent that a large proportion of our best farm land fell into the hands of speculators and absentee landlords.  Today, we are faced with the problem of stemming the tide of tenancy and reconstructing our agriculture in a fundamental manner by promoting farm ownership among tillers of the soil.”

Rex the Red

Tugwell pushed for government planning for food production by being able to control production, prices and costs.  He was influenced by the economic thinking of John Maynard Keynes on the role that government could play through intervention in the economy.  However to political opponents, Tugwell’s views seemed closer to the planning of Joseph Stalin than Maynard Keynes, and  he started being called in the press “Rex the Red”. Tugwell was pushed out of the Department of Agriculture.

Joseph Stalin in uniform at the Tehran conference (1943). By U.S. Signal Corps photo., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Maynard Keynes (1933). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Planning Commission.

He returned to New York City which had just elected a progressive mayor with hopes to transform the city, Fiorello La Guardia.  La Guardia selected Tugwell to become the first director of the newly formed New York City Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission developed proposals for public housing, new bridges and public parks.  It was one of the first efforts at over-all planning by a city government.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Roosevelt named Tugwell as Governor of Puerto Rico.  At the time the Governor was appointed and not elected.  Tugwell was Governor from 1941 to 1946.  He created the Puerto Rico Planning, Urbanization and Zoning Board in 1942.  He worked to overcome years of neglect by Washington of the island.  He improved the University of Puerto Rico so that more Puerto Ricans would be prepared to deal adequately with the economy and government service. (2)

Mayor LaGuardia. By I.am.a.qwerty, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Committee to Frame a World Constitution

At the end of the Second World War, Tugwell left government service to return to academic life.  He joined the economic faculty of the University of Chicago to teach economic planning.  At the University of Chicago at the time, there had been created an interdisciplinary Committee to Frame a World Constitution to make proposals for world institutions adequate to meet the post-war challenges.  Tugwell saw the need for global planning at a world level and became an active member of the Committee. (3)

The new Progressive Party. 

As the 1948 campaign for President was approaching and the Cold War tensions between the USA and the USSR were heating up, there was an effort in the USA to create a new political party more open than the “Truman Doctrine” to negotiations with the USSR as well as stronger measures for poverty reduction within the USA.  Henry Wallace, who had been Franklin Roosevelt’s second Vice President was chosen to lead the new Progressive Party. 

Wallace chose Tugwell to be chairman of the Progressive Party Platform Committee charged with setting out the aims and program proposals for the campaign. Tugwell, reflecting the efforts of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, wrote and had accepted the main foreign policy framework of the party.  “The Progressive Party believes that enduring peace among the peoples of the world community is possible only through world law.

The Atomic Age

Continued anarchy among nations in the atomic age threatens our civilization and humanity itself with annihilation.  The only ultimate alternative to war is the abandonment of the principle of the coercion of sovereignties by sovereignties and the adoption of the principle of the just enforcement upon individuals of world federal law enacted by a world federal legislature with limited but adequate power to safeguard the common defense and general welfare of all mankind.”

Ten years later, when as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I met Tugwell, he had largely left the field of economic planning to write about political leadership, especially the style and experiences of Franklin Roosevelt.

Department of Agriculture

Today, however, the issues that Tugwell raised in the Department of Agriculture have become world issues: adequate food production and distribution at a price that most people can pay, protection of the soil, water and forests, land ownership and land reform, rural housing and non-farm employment in rural areas.  We build on the efforts of those who came before.

Notes:

1) Henry A. Wallace. New Frontiers (New York: Reynal and Hitchock, 1934).

   Rexford G. Tugwell. The Battle for Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1935).

2) On conditions in Puerto Rico see Rexford G. Tugwell. The Stricken Land (New York: Doubleday, 1947).

3) Each year on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, he would write his reflections on the year past including the debates within the Committee to Frame a World Constitution.  These yearly reflections have been brought together in Rexford G. Tugwell. A Chronicle of Jeopardy: 1945-1955(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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

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Transformation of Education Appeals

Peacebuilding and the Transformation of Education.

Featured Image: Image by Ian Ingalula from Pixabay.

The United Nations is preparing a Transforming Education Summit; to be held in New York on 19 September;  during the General Assembly. A preliminary Summit is being held at UNESCO in Paris 28-30 June.  This is an opportunity for peacebuilding efforts to provide information and suggestions; especially for a major theme of the Summit; “Learning and Skills for Life, Work, and Sustainable Development.” As the preparatory text for the Summit states:

“Transforming education means empowering learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to be resilient, adaptable and prepared for the uncertain future while contributing to human and planetary well-being and sustainable development.”   

However; the uncertain future holds out some clear challenges: armed conflicts, human rights violations, persistent poverty, mass migrations, and the consequences of climate change.

The goal of a world community living in peace; where human relations are based on nonviolent relationships is central to the transformation of education.  We work to develop an atmosphere of cooperation and solidarity; where discussions of all points of view are possible.  We must, however, be realistic in what such a summit on the transformation of education can bring in terms of long-range change.

I had participated in the UNESCO-led World Congress on Disarmament Education in Paris; June 1980.  Today; there are no visible disarmament negotiations.  There is a growth in military spending; despite many calls saying that the money would be better used for development and welfare.  There is in many parts of the world a growth of militarization–a process whereby military values; ideology and patterns of behaviour achieve a dominant influence over political, economic and foreign affairs.

Nevertheless; there is a value in presenting the goals and techniques of peacebuilding in the Transforming Education Summit; especially that UNESCO already has an Education for Global Citizenship program; which includes elements of education for human rights and the culture of peace efforts.

Education for Global Citizenship aims to develop a sense of belonging to a common humanity and being able to contribute to global peace, sustainable development and the creation of a harmonious world society.  As the Preamble to UNESCO’s Constitution states: 

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

In light of the armed conflicts in many parts of the world; there is a need to focus on specific ways to ensure education for children in areas of armed conflict and in post-conflict situations; including effective measures to deal with the traumas caused by the armed conflict. Post-conflict education must help to develop new attitudes and values; especially toward those who were considered enemies during the armed conflict.

There is much that peacebuilding concepts and techniques can contribute to Transformation of Education. We need to see how best to provide ideas into this Summit process.

René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

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

Simone Panter-Brick - Gandhi Book Reviews

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Featured Image: Gandhi spinning at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Path to Indian Independence (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012, 225pp) Simone Panter-Brick.

Simone Panter-Brick had written two earlier books on Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi against Machiavellism: Non-violence in Politics; and Gandhi and the Middle East.

Here, in a book written just before her death; she deals with two key concepts in the thought and action of Gandhi: swaraj and dharma. Swaraj is best translated as self-realization; as in the Self-Realization Fellowship of the Indian teacher; Paramahansa Yogananda in California. “Gandhi and Swaraj” would have been a more accurate title of the book than “Nationalism”; but fewer people would have known what the book was about from such a title. As Panter-Brick points out:

“Swaraj is formed of two Sanskrit words: swa (self) and raj (rule). Thus, it can be construed either as rule over the self – the spiritual assertion of every person – or as self-rule – participation in the political affairs of the nation as citizens fully conscious of their rights and duties. For Gandhi, it was both.”

Dharma.

Dharma is a term used by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Buddhists do not normally speak of their own religion as ‘Buddhism’; but usually refer to it as ‘the Dharma’ meaning truth; the law as in the sense of the natural law which sustains the universe.

Dharma in Hinduism also means order in the sense of the law of the universe; immanent but made known to humans through awakening; the basis of moral life. In a narrower sense; dharma means duty – often caste duties or loyalty to the rulers of the country; into which one has been born through the working of karma.

It is in this latter sense – the duties that Gandhi felt to the Empire – that the book develops. The book is especially useful for those of us who try to use spiritual concepts within the political field; where words take on other meanings; and can also be understood by others in different ways than intended.

Paramahansa Yogananda with his book “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Paramahansa Yogananda, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

My life is my message.

The understanding of the ways spiritual concepts are used in political life is made even more complex; in the case of Gandhi in that he was not a thinker in terms of systems; but in terms of action. “My life is my message.” Most of Mahatma Gandhi’s writings were newspaper articles reacting to specific events and letters; often in reply to letters asking specific questions.

Copies of his letters were kept by his secretary, Mahadev Desai; and make up much of the many-volume Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi’s effort at systematic writing; in particular his 1909 Hind Swaraj; was used on the eve of independence against him by those wanting to establish Pakistan saying that Hind; which Gandhi had used as an old name for India really meant Hindu; and that Gandhi saw no place for Muslims in Indian society; and deliberately overlooked any Muslim contribution to Indian civilization.

Gandhi and Mahadev Desai, at Birla House, Mumbai (7 April 1939). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Panter-Brick points out:

“Gandhi’s entry into politics sprang from the firm belief that a citizen has rights and duties, and that he, as an Indian, had a duty to perform. This Indian conception of one’s life task is best expressed in the word dharma or righteous performance of one’s duty in life”.

Born into a family whose function was that of diwan, chief administrator of a princely state; both his family and he saw his dharma as that of a government administrator; probably of a larger state than Porbandar administered by his father. As the princely states were autonomous; but under the control of the British Empire; Gandhi stressed his individual duty to the British Empire. He had lost his caste standing by crossing the sea to study in England – there being a caste prohibition to crossing a large body of water.

Thus; the only dharma he had was a responsibility to the British Empire. However; dharma for Gandhi had to be considered as a self-imposed direction for duty and not imposed by tradition.

Quit India.

Thus in South Africa; he helped to create a medical corps for the English – the 1,100 strong Indian Ambulance Corps – in the 1899-1902 war against the Boers; and again for the government in the 1906 short-lived Zulu Rebellion in Natal.

On his return to India at the start of the First World War; he had tried to recruit Indians to serve in the British Army. He failed in his efforts as individuals; who were not already members of military castes felt no dharmic duties to serve the Empire.

Gandhi’s sense of duty to serve the state of his birth ultimately gave way; when the British Raj was too slow to react favourably to Indian nationalism, granting too little, too late. Moreover; Gandhi was surrounded by Indians in the Indian National Congress; who had never felt any dharmic duty to the British Empire. They wanted to rule India without the British. They had in their hearts the slogan; which they did not use publicly until 1942 “Quit India”

Gandhi’s Vision of Swaraj.

As Judith Brown; another specialist on Gandhi’s thought, writes on the evolution of Gandhi’s vision of swaraj :

“that was to be markedly at odds with the vision of political independence held by most of his colleagues in the Indian National Congress and the country at large. For him, swaraj was not a matter of Indians ejecting the British and stepping into their shoes and seats of power…It was a great enterprise of moral regeneration of a whole people and a transformation of their society, a righting of the wrongs and weaknesses that made colonialism rule possible, and ultimately a transformation of the processes of governance.” (1)

Home Rule.

Gandhi long hoped for Home Rule, Indian independence within what later became the Commonwealth; that is, national government with foreign policy set by consensus of all the member states having a Home Rule status. He had translated into English himself his Hind Swaraj giving the title Indian Home Rule. India had been accepted as a member of the League of Nations although not independent nor having Home Rule status. In fact, the Aga Khan; considered to be an Indian; had been President of the League of Nations Assembly.

For most leaders in the Indian National Congress; it was not foreign policy which mattered but; “who ran things on the ground” in India. The Indian National Congress took advantage of every possibility to extend its control at the local level. Thus; Congress was ready when the Government of India Act was passed in the British Parliament in 1935; to take power through elections set for 1937 down to the provincial level of governance.

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.

You might read: The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

Create a Political Vacuum.

From 1937 until 1940; Congress controlled the internal affairs of India; gaining experience in administration that would have paved a smooth road for governing the country at Independence in 1947.

However; at the outbreak of the Second World War; the Congress High Command instructed all its provincial governments to resign in protest at the Viceroy’s declaration of war on Germany; without consulting with the people of India. (Hitler; of course, had consulted no one before attacking Poland).

The immediate result was to create a political vacuum; into which Muhammad Ali Jinnah; also a British-educated lawyer and President of the Muslim League; stepped. Jinnah was aware that London badly needed some show of loyalty in its major imperial possession; and presented himself along with a vague concept of “two nations” – one Hindu; the other Muslim and the need for a “Pakistan” for the Muslim population. (2)

 Mohammad Ali Jinnah – Founder and 1st Governor General of Pakistan (1876-1948). By Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Quit India.

Congress formulated a “Quit India” Campaign of immediate independence for India. Japanese troops were in Burma on the frontier of India. Along with the Japanese; there was a fairly strong contingent of Indian soldiers; who had been captured in Europe by the Germans and then sent to Asia to help the Japanese. These Indian troops were led by the Bengali leader Subhas Chandra Bose; who had played an important role in Congress politics and was a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru. The British took the Quit India Campaign as a sign of treason in wartime and jailed much of the Congress leadership until June 1945 when the war was over in Europe.

The days of the Empire were limited.

With the end of the Second World War; events speeded up. In 1945, 1st Viscount Wavell; who had been military Commander-in-Chief in India during the war was named Viceroy. Wavell knew the situation well enough to understand that the days of the Empire were limited. He called for an interim government that would be based on a combination of Hindu and Muslim leaders: Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, the organizational strong man of Congress at Interior, and Liaquat Ali Khan, Jinnah’s deputy, at Finance.

Photograph, silver Dimensions:Framed: 13 1/4″ x 11″ Description:Black and white portrait photograph of Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru with hand to chinThe photograph is inscribed to President John F. Kennedy.
Historical Note:This photograph was presented to President John F. Kennedy during Prime Minister Nehru’s state visit to the United States on November 9, 1961 in Newport Rhode Island. By White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi was largely on the sidelines as the administrative structures were being decided. As Panter-Brick writes:

“The Mahatma wanted to represent all Indians but not all Indians accepted that claim. He was too democratic for the autocratic princes and their vast estates. He looked too Hindu to the Muslims, too unorthodox to the Brahmins, too anti-class war to the Communists, too pro-landowner for the Socialists, and even in his party, too leftist to the right, too secular to some, too religious to others – and too non-violent to the politicians.”

Thus leadership moved to Jawaharlal Nehru; who also wanted to represent all Indians; but as Congress was over 90 percent Hindu, he was seen as a Hindu spokesman with Ali Jinnah for the Muslims.

Studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi, London, 1931.Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jawaharlal Nehru.

Jawaharlal Nehru had been brought into Indian politics by his father, Motilal Nehru; an important lawyer and an early Indian Congress leader in the 1890s. Motilal, interested in spirituality; was a member of the Theosophical Society and a close co-worker with the Theosophical President; Annie Besant, and her Home Rule efforts. Motilal felt that his son needed a Western education to be able to play a real role in Indian politics.

Thus; he sent Jawaharlal to be educated in secondary school and university in England. The separation resulted in that Motilal and Jawaharlal had distant father-son relations; and Motilal passed on few of his spiritual interests to his son.

Jawaharlal and Gandhi developed much of a father-son relation; Gandhi serving as the replacement for the distant Motilal and Gandhi; who had bad relations with his own children; saw Jawaharlal as his son and heir.

Annie Besant, half-length portrait, seated, facing slightly right, clad in the style of the Aesthetic Dress movement (1887). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Congress Party.

Jawaharlal Nehru was basically a secular thinker; but who understood the need to make a religious appeal to the Hindu base of the Congress Party. As Nehru wrote:

“Sacralisation of the national movement? I used to be troubled sometimes at the growth of this religious element in our politics, but I know well that there was something else in it, something which supplied a deep inner craving of human beings.”

The “deep inner craving” seemed to express itself by Hindus and Muslims each wanting to govern without the other. Suaraj came to two states; with no spiritual transformation of the leaders. We have had since ‘nationalism’ in its narrowest sense; with wars between India and Pakistan; and the division from Pakistan of East Bengal; become Bangladesh.

Never in South Asian history did so few divide so many, so murderously.

Partition was imposed from above by the British; but no Indian leaders proposed forms of association; which would have provided autonomy without division. Some ideas of an Indian confederation were suggested; but the details had not been worked out. So division seemed to be the only solution. As has been said “Never in South Asian history did so few divide so many, so murderously.” Gandhi boycotted the celebrations of Independence held among riots, massacres and refugee flows. Over a million were killed in a short time; and there were some 18 million refugees and exchanges of population.

Thus; we see the importance of discussing and finding a consensus on the structures of a state. There were no Federalist Papers debates at the time of Indian Independence. Demands for the creation of Pakistan may have been a political move rather than a “final status” demand on the part of Ali Jinnah. Administrative structures may seem dull in contrast to the ideology of political independence; and the righting of social evils. But as Gandhi and Nationalism points out well; without clear understanding of the type of state desired and broadly acceptable; the door was open to religious chauvinists and their simplified divisions.

Notes.

1) See Richard L. Johnson (Ed). Gandhi’s Experiments with Truth (Oxford: Lexington, 2006)
2) For a good biography see Stanley Wolpert Jinnah of Pakistan(Oxford University Press, 1984). Wolpert is also a biographer of Gandhi, see his Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi (Oxford University Press, 2001)

Rene Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens.  

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

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NGOs Book Reviews

Oliver P. Richmond and Henry F. Carey (Eds); Subcontracting…

Featured Image: Prof. Oliver Richmond By Arianit, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Challenges of the NGO Peacebuilding (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2005, 267pp.)

As Kim Reimann writes in this useful overview of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the peacebuilding field; “In the past two decades, the number and influence of NGOs have grown dramatically; leading many scholars and observers in recent years to argue that a paradigm shift has taken place in politics and international relations theory”.

While the tone of much of the literature on NGOs has been positive; and has presented them in a progressive and idealistic light; the rise of NGOs has not been without controversy or critics.

As NGOs have grown in size and influence; their actions have come under much greater scrutiny… “During the course of the 1990s and early 2000s, a clearly defined set of critiques of NGOs have appeared focusing on:

  1. Their performance and actual effectiveness.
  2. Accountability issues.
  3. Issues of autonomy.
  4. Commercialization.
  5. Ideological and/or political interpretations of their rising influence.”

The rise of NGOs

These critiques are worth looking at and will serve as a framework for this review. However; it is worth looking at the roles that NGOs try to play in the peace-building field; and why there has been increased growth in activity.

The rise of NGOs; such as the Association of World Citizens as important agents in conflict resolution; and post-conflict development efforts comes from the changing nature of conflicts.

Cold War years (1945-1990)

During the Cold War years(1945-1990); governments were the chief actors. NGOs could give advice on disarmament measures for the resolution of certain conflicts, and could provide the setting for some TrackTwo informal meetings. On some special issues that were not directly security-related such as the Law of the Sea negotiations; or the first UN environmental meetings; NGOs already had significant input.

However, even during the Cold War years; in certain areas, especially Africa; we saw the rise of non-state armed forces such as the first civil war in Sudan(1956-1972); the different rebellions in the former Belgium Congo, the Viet Cong in South Vietnam.

The World Council of Churches.

Governments were unable or unwilling to deal with such non-state actors. Much of the negotiations which brought an end to the first Sudanese civil war in 1972; were carried out by the African Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

There are also cases; in which the government controlling the territory is suspect and some governments are unwilling to work with it. I was involved in the early 1990s; in helping to set up child welfare and educational programs through an NGO as the Vietnamese-backed.

Cambodian Government

The Cambodian government was not recognized by some governments and was suspect to others. It was only later that a massive UN-led effort was made in Cambodia. Under UN leadership, NGOs, the Cambodian government, and national government programs; cooperated to restore the country after war, genocide, and the failure of Vietnam to undertake development efforts for the government it helped to put into place.

The US Government and the European Union

Today; we see the same debates in the US government and the European Union; concerning a Hamas-led government in Palestine. There is the current talk of funding through NGOs so as not to deal with Hamas; considered by some a terrorist organization.

NGOs are thought to have speed, flexibility, relative cheapness, high implementation capacity; and lack of bureaucracy. They are also relatively independent from governments; often made up of multinational teams. There is also disillusionment with the role of states in constructing peace in conflict zones — governments are always suspected of acting for narrow self-interest.

NGO strengths can also be weaknesses

However; NGO strengths can also be weaknesses, and as Kim Reimann suggests; it is important to look at performance and effectiveness. It is also necessary to look at government-organized activities in the same places and in the same fields.

I would suggest that each situation presents difficulties linked to history, culture, and the current distribution of local power, and thus governments and NGOs face the same difficulties. NGOs cannot use the police or the military so they must depend on discussion and material rewards.

Performance and effectiveness depend; in large measure on the quality of the persons working for peacebuilding NGOs; thus is an issue of experience and training; background knowledge of the area in which one is working; and the organization’s ability to get information and supplies to workers in the field. Much also depends on relations with national and local authorities; local NGOs and others having local influence.

The national military is always on hand

Moreover; NGOs cannot have staffs who only wait for a crisis to arrive. The national military is always on hand. To meet a new crisis; NGOs have to find people who have worked for them before; or for like-minded NGOs. Many such people have jobs and families, and cannot ‘drop everything to respond to a call. Thus; there is a need for wide and up-to-date NGO networks of people with the needed skills.

There is a need to train people both in the culture of an area and in skills. One has to be able to draw upon a wide range of people; who know the culture of an area. We have seen the difficulties of the US government; depending on too narrow a range of Iraqi exiles for their background information on Iraq.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The number of people who know the history and culture of the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo; (probably the most difficult current conflict situation) is limited and rarely in one place.

Fortunately; there is a growing number of university-based peace studies programs; that can be helpful in training. Kim Reimann has also raised the issue of autonomy — that is the way in which NGOs can prevent being manipulated by their governments, and yet cooperate when governments undertake useful initiatives. There is a useful chapter on NGOs and the peace efforts of Norway by Ann Kelleher and James Taulbee.

Norway

Norway is known for having played a leading role in brokering the Oslo accord in the Israel/Palestine conflict as well as being active in Latin America —Guatemala and Colombia — and especially Sri Lanka. As Kelleher and Taulbee write “ As a peacemaker, Norway sprang suddenly from amid the confusion associated with the reshuffling of international roles after the Cold War. A relatively small, homogeneous population that enjoys a high standard of living has produced a highly educated, closely connected governing circle whose members move easily between public, private, and semi-official roles.

The Norwegian domestic political

The Norwegian domestic political process emphasizes consensus creation rather than confrontation. Norwegians are accustomed to the time-consuming process of sorting out strongly held convictions and dealing with shifting coalitions of interests.

They consider their consensus-building political style as aptly suited to the ambiguities and uncertainties of peacemaking.” Because there are exchanges of people between NGOs; especially church-related, academic life, and government in Norway, and because Norway has no Great Power interests; it is easy for NGOs in Norway to cooperate with the government in peace efforts as full partners; not as manipulated agents of government policy. We have similar conditions in Sweden and Switzerland — thus the important role that NGOs from these countries play in NGO peacemaking efforts.

NGOs are a crucial question

Resources for NGOs is a crucial question. Fundraising from individual givers helps strengthen NGO independence, but it is time-consuming and expensive. In an analysis of NGO activities in rebuilding Rwanda, Joanna Fisher writes:

“NGOs may be benefiting their own image rather than that of the populace that they serve; they plan strategically ar time so as to worry more about proving their worth to get funding instead of worrying about if those helped can survive in the long-term after NGOs leave.”

Accepting money from governments poses problems of independence from government policy but can also be useful.

Getting projects off the ground requires funds that NGOs do not usually have in reserve. We can agree with the editor Henry Carey in his conclusions “NGOs have a vital role in supporting societies emerging from conflicts, half of whom are relapsed old conflicts where earlier efforts at peacebuilding and prevention have failed. Greater assessments of best practices and lessons learned about the vast growth of NGO activity, both acting independently and in partnership with the UN, are needed… Finally, more investigation of how to empower local NGOs which still depend on external resources in most cases needs to be undertaken.”

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…

1 2 12

Rape as a Weapon Appeals

A Step Forward in the U.N.’s Efforts Against Rape…

Featured Image: Photo by Stewart Munro on Unsplash.

On Tuesday, 23 April 2019; the United Nations Security Council voted for resolution N° 2467; concerning the use of rape as a weapon in times of armed conflict.  This resolution builds on an earlier resolution of 24 June 2013; which called for the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violation by all parties in armed conflicts. The new resolution introduced by Germany contained two new elements; both of which were eliminated in the intense negotiations in the four days prior to the vote of 13 in favor and two abstentions, those of Russia and China.

The first new element in the German proposed text concerned help to the victims of rape.  The proposed paragraph was:

“urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal and livelihood support and other multi-sectoral services for survivors of sexual violence, taking into account the special needs of persons with disabilities.”

Sexual and Reproductive Health.

The U.S. delegation objected to this paragraph claiming that “sexual and reproductive health” were code words that opened a door to abortion.  Since a U.S. veto would prevent the resolution as a whole; the paragraph was eliminated.  

There had been four days of intense discussions among the Security Council members concerning this paragraph; with only the U.S. opposed to any form of planned parenthood action. After the resolution was passed with the health paragraph eliminated, the Permanent Representative of France; Ambassador Francois Delatte spoke for many of the members saying:

“It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant should have the right to terminate their pregnancy.

Sexual violence in conflict situations.

The second concept of the German draft that was eliminated; was the proposal to create a working group to monitor, and review progress on ending sexual violence in armed conflict.  Such a working group was opposed by the diplomats of Russia and China; both of which have the veto power.  Thus, for the same reason as with the U.S. opposition; the idea of a monitoring working group was dropped. Both China and Russia are opposed to any form of U.N. monitoring; fearing that their actions on one topic or another would be noted by a monitoring group.  The Russian diplomat had to add that he was against the added administrative burden that a monitoring group would present; but that Russia was against sexual violence in conflict situations.

The Association of World Citizens.

Thus, the new U.N. Security Council resolution 2467 is weaker than it should have been; but is nevertheless a step forward in building awareness.  The Association of World Citizens first raised the issue in the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in March 2001 citing the judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia; which maintained that there can be no time limitations on bringing an accused to trial.  The Tribunal also reinforced the possibility of universal jurisdiction that a person can be tried not only by his national court but by any court claiming universal jurisdiction and where the accused is present.

The Association of World Citizens again stressed the use of rape as a weapon of war; in the Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights Violations; in the Democratic Republic of Congo; citing the findings of Meredeth Turshen and Clotilde Twagiramariya in their book What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa. (London: Zed Press, 1998).

Rape is …

They write “There are numerous types of rape.  Rape is committed to boast the soldiers’ morale, to feed soldiers’ hatred of the enemy, their sense of superiority, and to keep them fighting:

Rape is one kind of war booty women are raped because war intensifies men’s sense of entitlement, superiority, avidity, and social license to rape:

Rape is a weapon of war used to spread political terror; rape can destabilize society and break its resistance; rape is a form of torture; gang rapes in public terrorize and silence women because they keep the civilian population functioning and are essential to its social and physical continuity rape is used in ethnic cleansing; it is designed to drive women from their homes or destroy their possibility of reproduction within or “for” their community; genocidal rape treats women as “reproductive vessels”; to make them bear babies of the rapists’ nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, and genocidal rape aggravates women’s terror and future stigma, producing a class of outcast mothers and children – this is rape committed with the consciousness of how unacceptable a raped woman is to the patriarchal community and to herself. 

This list combines individual and group motives with obedience to military command; in doing so, it gives a political context to violence against women, and it is this political context that needs to be incorporated in the social response to rape.”

The Security Council resolution.

The Security Council resolution opens the door to civil society organizations to build on the concepts eliminated from the governmental resolution itself.  Non-governmental organizations must play an ever-more active role in providing services to rape victims with medical, psychological, and socio-cultural services.  In addition; if the U.N. is unable to create a monitoring and review of information working group; then such a monitoring group will have to be the task of cooperative efforts among NGOs.  It is always to be hoped that governments acting together would provide the institutions necessary to promote human dignity.  But with the failure of governments to act; our task as non-governmental representatives is set out for us.

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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