Tag: <span>Human Rights</span>

Uprooted Appeals

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 are considered refugees, and are relatively protected by the refugee conventions signed by most states. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and its 1967 protocol give the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees an international legal basis to ensure the protection of refugees.

Banner of UN High Commissioner for Refugees – Geneva – Switzerland. By Adam Jones, Ph.D., CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

However, those who are displaced within a country, as is the case currently for many in the Gaza Strip and in Ukraine, are not protected by the international refugee conventions.

Thus, displacement within a State poses a challenge to develop international norms, and ways to address the consequences of displacement, and the possibility to reintegrate their homes, though in the case of Gaza many of the homes have been destroyed.

Warsaw Central Station during Ukrainian refugee crisis in March 2022. By Kamil Czaiński, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

A need to provide protection and assistance to the uprooted.

Armed conflicts within States often reflect a crisis of identity within the State. This can occur when a State becomes monopolized by a dominant group to the exclusion or marginalization of other groups. There is a need to provide protection and assistance to the uprooted.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has been able to act in some cases as has been true also for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which is mandated to protect civilians in war zones. The obligation to assist populations in immediate danger of starvation is largely recognized, and the UN World Food Program has been able to act. In some cases, nongovernmental humanitarian agencies have been able to be active.

However, each situation requires new negotiations and results differ.

United Nations World Food Programme Logo. By United Nations World Food Program, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The strategies to address mass displacement need to be broad and comprehensive.

Thus, what is essential is that there be predictable responses in situations of internal displacement and that attention be paid not only to material assistance but also to the human rights of those displaced. To be effective, strategies to address mass displacement need to be broad and comprehensive.

There is a need for political initiatives that seek to resolve the conflicts as the consequences often involve neighboring countries. Efforts must engage local groups, national institutions, and Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) to prevent situations that lead to persons being uprooted. As the representatives of NGOs, we have an opportunity to discuss with other NGOs the most appropriate next steps for action.

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

Featured Image: Picture by Rosy / Bad Homburg / Germany en Pixabay
Torture Education of World Citizenships.

26 June: International Day Against Torture.

Featured Image: Painting in museum DPRK. By AgainErick, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Torture has a bad name among the police and security agencies of most countries. Thus torture is usually called by other names.  Even violent husbands do not admit to torturing their wives.  Thus;  when NGO representatives started to raise the issue of torture in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in the early 1980s;  the government representatives replied that it was a very rare practice;  limited to a small number of countries and sometimes a “rogue” policeman or prison guard. 

However;  NGO representatives insisted that, in fact; it was widely used by a large number of countries; including those that had democratic forms of government.

Sean MacBride (1904-1988).

Getting torture to be recognized as a real problem;  and then having the Commission on Human Rights create the post of Special Rapporeteur on Torture; owes much to the persistent efforts of Sean MacBride (1904-1988); at the time the former chairman of the Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1974). MacBride had been the Foreign Minister of Ireland (1948-1951);  and knew how governments work.

However; He had earlier been a long-time leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA); being the son of John MacBride; an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising – an attack on the Dublin Post Office. With his death; John MacBride became an Irish hero of resistance.  Later Sean had spent time in prison accused of murder. He told me that he had never killed anyone;  but as the IRA Director of Intelligence; he was held responsible for the murders carried out by men under his command.  Later, he also worked against the death penalty.

Torture

Seán MacBride. By Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

As examples of the current use of torture kept being presented by NGO representatives and as some victims of torture came to Geneva to testify; the Commission on Human Rights named a Special Rapporteur and also started to work on what became the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel  Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Treaty came into effect on 26 June 1987; and in 1997 the UN General Assembly designated 26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Independent Experts.

Human Rights treaties negotiated within the UN create what are known as “Treaty Bodies”; ­ a group of persons who are considered to be “independent experts”. As the saying around Geneva goes; “some are more ‘expert’ than others, and some are more ‘independent’ than others.  Countries which have ratified a human rights convention should make a report every four or five years to the specific Treaty Body. For the Torture Treaty;  it is every four years to the 10-person expert group.

Many States are late, some very late, in meeting this obligation. There are 158 States which have ratified the Torture Convention;  but some 28 States have never bothered to file a report. States which have not ratified the treaty do not make reports.

Concluding Observations.

NGO representatives provide the experts with information in advance and suggest questions that could usefully be asked. The State usually sends representatives to Geneva for the Treaty Body discussions; as the permanent Ambassador  is rarely able to answer specific questions on police and prison conditions. At the end of the discussion between the representative of a State and the experts; the experts write “concluding observations” and make recommendations.

Unfortunately; the Convention is binding only on States.  However; increasingly non-governmental armed militias;  such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq carry out torture in a systematic way. The militia’s actions can be mentioned but not examined by the Treaty Body.

While there is no sure approach to limiting the use of torture; much depends on the observations and actions of non-governmental organizations.  We need to increase our efforts; to strengthen the values which  prohibit torture; and watch closely how persons are treated by the police, prison guards and armed militias.

 

Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the 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.

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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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.

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

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Erich Fromm Rapprochement of Cultures.

Erich Fromm: Meeting the Challenges of the Century.

Featured Image: Erich Fromm. By Müller-May / Rainer Funk / CC BY-SA 3.0 (DE)

By Rene Wadlow.

I believe that the One World which is emerging can come into existence only if a New Man comes into being – a man who has emerged from the archaic ties of blood and soil, and who feels himself to be a citizen of the world whose loyalty is to the human race and to life, rather than to any exclusive part of it, a man who loves his country because he loves mankind, and whose views are not warped by tribal loyalties.
                                                        
Eric Fromm Beyond the Chains of Illusion.

Eric Fromm (1900-1980), the psychoanalyst was concerned with the relation between personality and society. His life was marked by the socio-political events of the century he faced, especially those of Germany, his birthplace.

Erich Fromm was born into an orthodox Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main.  The families of both his mother and father had rabbis and Talmudic scholars, and so he grew up in a household; where the significance of religious texts was an important part of life. While Fromm later took a great distance from Orthodox Jewish thought; he continued a critical appreciation of Judaism.

He was interested in the prophets of the Old Testament, but especially by the hope of the coming of a Messianic Age – a powerful theme in popular Judaism. The coming of the Messiah would establish a better world; in which there would be higher spiritual standards but also a new organization of society.  The Messianic ideal is one in which the spiritual and the political cannot be separated from one another. (1)

Sociology and Psychology.

He was 14 when the First World War started and 18 when the German State disintegrated – too young to fight but old enough to know what was going on and to be impressed by mass behavior.  Thus; he was concerned from the start of his university studies with the link between sociology and psychology as related ways of understanding how people act in a collective way.

As was true for German university students of his day; he was able to spend a year or a bit more indifferent German universities: in Frankfurt where he studied with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory; whose members he would see again in New York when they were all in exile, at the University of Munich, at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, and at the University of Heidelberg from where he received a doctorate.

Main building of the Ludwig Maximilian University, MunichBavariaGermany. By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.

He had two intellectual influences in his studies: Sigmund Freud whose approach was the basis of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and Karl Marx; a strong influence in the Frankfurt School.  Erich Fromm chose a psychoanalyst path as a profession, learning and, as was required in the Freudian tradition; spending five years in analysis.  Fromm, however; increasingly took his distance from Freudian orthodoxy; believing that society beyond family relations had an impact on the personality.  

However; he also broke one of the fundamental rules of Freudian analysis in not overcoming the transfer of identification with his analyst.  He married the woman who was his analyst.  The marriage broke after four years perhaps proving the validity of Freud’s theories on transfers and counter-transfers.

Colorized painting of Sigmund Freud. By Photocolorization, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Buddha.

Therefore, Erich Fromm’s reputation and his main books rest on his concern with the relation of individual psychology and social forces – the relation between Freud and Marx. However; probably the most fundamental thinker; who structured his approach was the Buddha; whom he discovered around the age of 26. It is not Buddhism as a faith that interested him – Buddhism being the tradition built on some of the insights of the Buddha.  Rather it was the basic quest of the Buddha that interested him: what is suffering?  Can suffering be reduced or overcome?  If so, how?

Erich Fromm saw suffering in the lives of the Germans among whom he worked in the late 1920s; individual suffering as well as socio-economic suffering. For Erich Fromm, there must be a link between the condition of the individual and the social milieu; a link not fully explained by either Freud or Marx.

Multiple rows of golden statues of the Buddha seated, with yellow and red flowers, at Wat Phou Salao (Golden Buddha temple), in PakseLaos. By Basile Morin, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Art of Loving.

Erich Fromm had enough political awareness to leave Germany for the United States just as Hitler was coming to power in 1933. From 1934; he was teaching in leading US universities. In 1949 he took up a post as professor at the National Autonomous University in Mexico but often lectured at US universities as well.

Erich Fromm’s work is largely structured around the theme of suffering and how it can be reduced.  There is individual suffering. It can be reduced by compassion and love. One of his best-known books is The Art of Loving. Love is an art, a “discipline”, and he sets out exercises largely drawn from the Zen tradition to develop compassion toward oneself and all living beings.

Memorial plaque, Erich Fromm, Bayerischer Platz 1, Berlin-SchönebergGermany By OTFW, Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

There is also social suffering which can be reduced by placing an emphasis not on greater production and greater consumption but on being more; an idea that he develops in To Have or To Be. Fromm was also aware of social suffering and violence on a large scale and the difficulties of creating a society of compassionate and loving persons.  His late reflections on the difficulties of creating The Sane Society (the title of a mid-1950s book) is The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.  We still face the same issues of individual and social suffering and the relation between the two.  Erich Fromm’s thinking makes a real contribution as we continue to search.

Note.

(1) See his You Shall Be As Gods for a vision of the Jewish scriptures as being a history of liberation.

Rene Wadlow, President,  Association of World Citizens.

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

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International Day of Conscience Rapprochement of Cultures.

Conscience: The Inner Voice of the Higher Self.

Featured Image: Photo by Lan Johnson in Pexels

By Rene Wadlow.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 5 April; as The International Day of Conscience. An awakened conscience is essential to meeting the challenges; which face humanity today as we move into the World Society.

The great challenge which humanity faces today is to leave behind the culture of violence; in which we find ourselves; and move rapidly to a culture of peace and solidarity.

We can achieve this historic task by casting aside our ancient national, ethnic, social prejudices; and begin to think and act as responsible Citizens of the World.

The 5 April. International Day of Conscience.

An awakened conscience makes us sensitive to hearing the inner voice that warns and encourages. We have a conscience so that we may not let ourselves be lulled to sleep by the social environment; in which we find ourselves; but will remain alert to truth, justice, and reason. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says in Article 1:

“All human beings are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

There is a need to build networks and bridges among Companions of Conscience. Companions of Conscience create a ground for common discourse; and thus a ground for common life-affirming action. As Companions of Conscience; we take firm action to formulate effective responses to the challenges facing the emerging world society: armed conflicts, human rights violations, persistent poverty and ecological destruction.

However; we strive to make the world a more humane dwelling place for ourselves; and for future generations as we move toward a peaceful; just and ecologically-responsible future. We do not hide from ourselves the complexity of these challenges.

Therefore; we believe in the effectiveness of common action and enlightened leadership to build a culture of cooperation and solidarity.

The circle of Companions of Conscience is growing world wide. Conscience-based actions are increasingly felt.

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

You might interest read: Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

 Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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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

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

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

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

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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

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

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

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

The UN System

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

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

Image Photo by Shinobu in Pexels.

The United Nations: The Reflection of the World Society.

The Association of World Citizens

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

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

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

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

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

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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H.G. Wells Portraits of World Citizens.

H.G. Wells and Human Rights.

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

“Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All”. 

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

Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

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

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

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

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

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

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
   René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Alexandre Marc Rapprochement of Cultures.

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

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

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

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

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

The Forerunners of the Nazi Movement

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

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

Anti-Nazi German Youth

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

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

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

L’Ordre Nouveau

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

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

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

once a Jew, always a Jew

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

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

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

The Jewish philosophers

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

Personalism.

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

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

The Foundations of the European Movement and the European Federalists

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

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

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

The Cold War.

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

Centers for the Study of European Federalism

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

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

Distrust of European Integration

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

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

The Lobbying of Governments on Federalist Issues.

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

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

Hamiltonian Federalism

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

The Future is within Us

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

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

A Complex Man

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

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

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

 Notes

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

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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