Tag: <span>League of Nations</span>

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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Henry Usborne Rapprochement of Cultures.

Henry Usborne. World Citizen Activist.

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

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

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

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

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

League of Nations Association.

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

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

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

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

The U.S. Constitutional Convention.

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

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

Jawaharlal Nehru

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

The Third World War.

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

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

Notes.

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

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Convention on the Rights of the Child Appeals

Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Vital…

Featured Image: Photo by Yannis H on Unsplash.

When the Convention on the Rights of the Child was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989; governments took a major step forward in establishing a framework of world law to protect the basic dignity and rights of children in all parts of the world. 

Therefore on 20 November; we remember with gratitude those who worked to develop the concepts and reality of the Rights of the Child; but also to measure the tasks that are before us; especially as members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  This universal framework is based on the principle that each child should have the possibility to develop into an active and responsible member of society. The way in which a society treats its children reflects not only its qualities of compassion and protective caring, but also its sense of justice, its commitment to the future and its urge to better the human condition for continuing generations.

General Asembly

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

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?.

“Save the Children International Union”. 

The effort to create a legal framework for the welfare of the child began early in the League of Nations efforts with the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924 which was largely based on a text written by the then newly-established NGO “Save the Children International Union”.  Child welfare has always been a prime example of cooperative efforts among governments, scholars highlighting the conditions of children, and NGOs working actively in the field.

However, the Geneva Declaration served as the basis for the UN General Assembly resolution on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted also on 20 November 1959.  The 1959 Declaration was followed with more specific provisions of the Declaration on Social and Legal Principles; relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice; and the  Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.

League of Nations

Featured 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.

Special Working Group on the Rights of the Child.

In 1978, some representatives of both governments and NGOs in the UN human rights circles in Geneva felt that it was time to bring together these different declarations and provisions into a single text that would have the  legal force of a UN convention.  The Polish delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights took the lead in this effort; but some governments felt that the different declarations needed to be closely reviewed and measured against changing realities.

Thus a Special Working Group on the Rights of the Child was created in 1979  under the chairmanship of the Polish representative; the legal specialist Adam Lopatka. Government and NGO representatives worked together from 1979 to 1988 for a week each year.  There was a core group; including the Association of World Citizens; which worked steadily and which represented a wide range of different beliefs, values and traditions, as well as a wide range of socio-economic realities.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

As a result of serious discussions, the  Convention covers a wide range of human rights which can be summarized as the three “Ps”: provision, protection and participation.  Each child has the right to be provided with certain things and services, such as a name and a nationality, to health care and education.  Each child has a right to be protected from certain acts such as torture, exploitation, arbitrary detention and unwarranted removal from parental care.  Each child has a right to participate in decisions affecting their lives as well as in community life.

The Working Group managed to come to a consensus on the final version in time for the General Assembly to adopt it on 20 November 1989, the anniversary date of the Declaration.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child is meant to provide guidance for governments to review national legislation and policies in their child-related initiatives.  It is by examining national law and policy and the effectiveness of government structures and mechanisms that progress can be measured. The Convention also provides a framework of goals for the vital activities of NGOs.  NGOs work on two lines simultaneously: to remind governments of their obligations through approaches to ministries, elected officials and the media and to undertake their own operational efforts.

Article 43 of the Convention.

To help governments to fulfill their obligations and to review national practices, a Committee on the Rights of the Child was created as called for in article 43 of the Convention. The Committee is composed of 10 independent experts elected for a four-year term by the States which have ratified the Convention. The Committee usually meets three times a year for a month each time in Geneva to review and discuss reports submitted by governments, once every four years. The sessions of the Committee are largely carried out in a non-confrontational dialogue with an emphasis on “unmet needs”. The discussion usually lasts six to nine hours for each country. The Committee members have received information and suggestions from NGOs in advance.  The Committee members ask many questions and based on the government’s responses, make suggestions for improving the promotion and protection of children’s rights in the country.

By creating a common legal framework of world law, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has increased levels of governmental accountability, bringing about  legislative and institutional reforms, and increasing international cooperation.  As James P. Grant, then UNICEF Executive Director said:

Transcending its detailed provisions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child embodies the fundamental principle that the lives and the normal development of children should have first call on society’s concerns and capacities and that children should be able to depend upon the commitment in good times and in bad, in normal times and in times of emergency, in times of peace and in times of war, in times of prosperity and in times of recession.”

Unicef

Flag of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an organization of the United Nations. By Delehaye, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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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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Piaget's Project Appeals

Completing Piaget’s Project. Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of…

Featured Image Jean Piaget By Roland Zumbühl of Picswiss as part of a cooperation project. Wikimedia Commons.

Edward J. Dale. Completing Piaget’s Project. Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of Psychology.

(St.Paul, MN: Paragon House Publishers, 2014)

Edward J. Dale has written a very useful overview of the intellectual currents in trans-personal psychology;  a broad field in which different practitioners use different terms for roughly the same approach:  Robert Assagioli – psychosynthesis, Ken Wilber – integral consciousness, Abraham Maslow – the farther reaches of human nature, Marilyn Ferguson – the Aquarian conspiracy. Dale provides an extensive bibliography of authors.

Therefore; there are at least two journals which specialize in trans-personal research:  Journal of Humanistic Psychology, founded in 1961 and the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology founded in 1969.

Roberto Assagioli

 Photo of Roberto Assaglioli, M.D. – Taken from the book ‘ Psychosynthesis (1965) By U3195247, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Roberto Assagioli: The Will as a Road to the Higher Self.

Psychoactive Substances.

All the trans-personal authors hold that it is very likely that the ability to develop trans-personal capacities is universal;  under the right developmental conditions. However, these trans-personal characteristics have been developed in many societies and are found in shamanism, in induced trance states, in contemplative prayer-meditation, in the use of natural psychoactive substances; and in more recent times in the use of LSD in psychedelic research.

Nevertheless; there is a possibility of a rapid and widespread emergence of trans-personal consciousness in the near future;  as an increasing number of people undertake spiritual practices of meditation, tantra, Zen, kundalini and other self-development techniques.

Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber. By Kanzeon Zen Center, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Trans-Personal Psychology.

There are basically three avenues leading to current trans-personal psychology. 

The first is a development growing out of therapeutic work. Assagioli began in the Freudian mode;  being the first translator of Freud’s writings into Italian. His work with clients showed that there were deeper aspects of the personality than Freud had stressed;  and thus a need to find therapeutic techniques,  which reached these deeper layers.  Much the same holds true for Abraham Maslow.

A second avenue has been from that of academic research and experimentation;  such as the work of Stanislav Grof, author of The stormy search for the self.

The third avenue  has been the presence of Asian teachers of meditation;  who came to Europe and the USA: the Tibetans after the 1959 flight from Tibet;  and the voluntary departure from India of yoga teachers and from Japan for Zen.

Stanislav Grof

 Stanislav Grof, psychologist and psychiatrist. By Anton Nosik, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Completing Piaget’s Project.

The value of Dale’s book is in its subtitle Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of Psychology.  What can be confusing to readers is the title of the book Completing Piaget’s Project. Dale draws on an extended poem La mission de l’Idee;  written when Piaget was 19 and published in the French-speaking Swiss Protestant youth journal;  and his only novel Recherche;  written when he was 20 and trying to organize ideas from his college studies; his wide reading and his personal experiences of psychic events and their impact on his body. 

The poem and the novel do have trans-personal elements;  as well as reflecting debates going on at the time in the Swiss Protestant churches;  between more liberal and conservative currents. However; Piaget’s “project” linked to the creation of the League of Nations; and carried out from the 1920s in Geneva is not analyzed.

 

The League of Nations.

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was born and educated in the French-speaking canton of Neuchatel.  He was a brilliant student;  and at an early age started writing articles for nature and wildlife journals.  He became active in the Young Socialists League and a militant for peace. He was influenced by the destructive violence of the 1914-1918 war.  Many children from France were sent to Neuchatel to take them out of harms way.

At the end of his university studies in Neuchatel;  he went to Paris to work with Alfred Binet on the early IQ tests to measure intelligence. After a couple of years;  he returned to Geneva to teach and do research in an institute devoted to education: l’Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Piaget came to Geneva just as the League of Nations was starting at the end of 1922. Piaget hoped as did many others;  that the League would establish a peaceful world society. Piaget’s project was born in the intellectual currents stimulated by the League of Nations.

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.

A Peaceful World Society.

His project was to build a peaceful world society;  by developing education for peace that aimed at the full development of the person.  This had to begin with the very start of education in primary school;  and strengthened through education in secondary school.

In order to create primary education that would fulfill this aim;  one had to understand how children learn.  Thus,  began his life-long investigation of the sequences of learning – when does awareness of shapes, colors, numbers, relations to others and a moral sense arise.

However; a world at peace could not be created only by having good education in the primary schools of Geneva.  There had to be a world-wide improvement of primary education;  by bringing advanced child-development knowledge to the attention of educators the world over;  in particular to the Ministries of Education;  which had the responsibility for educational policy  and content.

Alfred Binet

Alfredo Benet Junior (July 11, 1857 – October 18, 1911). By Unidentified photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Rockefeller Foundation.

Thus, in the spirit of the League of Nations; Piaget and some of his Geneva colleagues created the International Bureau of Education in 1924;  which Piaget headed for nearly 40 years.  Intellectually, it was related to the League of Nations and brought together;  usually once every two years, the Ministers of Education of the League members to discuss curriculum and teaching methods influenced by research being undertaken. 

The Bureau was largely financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Since the USA had refused League membership and so did not contribute to the League’s budget;  much of the intellectual efforts of the League were financed by the Rockefeller Foundation including the impressive Library;  which is part of the League’s Palais des Nations.

After the Second World War;  the Bureau continued its work of conferences for Ministers of Education as an independent organization, always with Piaget as director.  In 1964, the Bureau was administratively incorporated into UNESCO but remained in Geneva.

The Same Learning Sequences.

The International Bureau of Education, housed in the Palais Wilson; the original League Secretariat offices, Piaget’s separate office building and the experimental primary school;  that served for observations were just across the street from my office as professor and Director of Research of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies. 

We would often eat or have coffee in the same places. Of course, I knew who Piaget was and would say “hello”, but I interacted with his team of researchers,  who were more my age. They were working on observations in Africa and Asia to see if the same learning sequences that Piaget had observed for Geneva children were true in other cultures as well. Their findings were that the sequences were the same; but the ages at which they took place differed due to child-raising patterns in Africa and Asia.

Institute International_Bureau_of_Education_-_UNESCO

International Bureau of Education – UNESCO @ Le Grand-Saconnex. By Guilhem Vellut from Annecy, France, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Contribution of Education to World Peace.

Piaget’s project of peace through improved primary and secondary school education has not yet been fulfilled.  UNESCO has a major program “Education for Global Citizenship“. The teachers’ manuals for the UNESCO program owe much to Piaget’s research.

While Dale’s book has many interesting elements and is a useful overview of trans-personal efforts. I think that it is a mistake to try to transform Piaget into a forerunner of trans-personal approaches;  and to neglect the heart of Piaget’s project: the contribution of education to world peace.

Transformation of Education

 Image: Image by Ian Ingalula from Pixabay.

Peacebuilding and the Transformation of Education.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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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.  

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Migrants and Refugees. Appeals

World Policy for Migrants and Refugees.

Featured Image: A line of Syrian refugees crossing the border of Hungary and Austria on their way to Germany. Hungary, Central Europe, 6 September 2015. By Mstyslav Chernov, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

« There is no doubt that Mankind is once more on the move. The very foundations have been shakened and loosened, and things are again fluid. The tents have been struck, and the great caravan of Humanity is once more on the march. »

Jan Christian Smuts at the end of the 1914-1918 World War.

On 19 September 2016, the UN General Assembly held a one-day Summit on « Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants «  – a complex of issues which have become important and emotional issues in many countries. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) published a report on international migration  indicating that there are some 244 milion migrants, some 76 million live in Europe, 75 million in Asia, 54 million in North America and others in the Middle East, Latin America and the Pacific, especially Australia and New Zealand. In addition, there are some 24 million refugees – people who have crossed State frontiers fleeing armed conflict and repression as well as some 40 million internally-displaced persons within their own country. Acute poverty, armed conflicts, population growth and high unemployment levels provide the incentives for people to move, while easier communications and transport are the means.

However, as we have seen with the many who have died in the Mediterranean Sea, people will take great risks to migrate. Thus, there is an urgent need to take away the monopoly of the life and death of refugees from the hands of mafias and traffickers and to create an effective world policy for migrants and refugees.

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

You might be interested in reading U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?

This is the third time that the major governments of the world have tried to deal in an organized way with migration and refugees.

The first was within the League of Nations in the 1920s. The 1914-1918 World War and the 1917 Russian Revolution had created a large number of refugees and « stateless » persons – citizens of the former Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian Empires. These people had no passports or valid identity documents. The League of Nations created a League identity document – the Nansen Passport – which gave some relief to the « stateless » and brought international attention to their conditions. The Nansen Passport, however, became overshaddowed in the mid-1930 when people – in particular Jews – fled from Germany-Austria and were refused resettlement.

The second international effort was as a result of the experiences of the 1939-1945 Second World War and the large number of refugees and displaced. Under the leadership of the United Nations, there was created the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. In addition, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, originally created as a temporary body, was made a permanent UN agency in recognition of the continuing nature of refugee issues.

The current third international effort is largely a result of the flow of refugees and migrants toward Europe during 2015-2016. The disorganized and very uneven response of European governments and the European Union to this flow has indicated that governments are unprepared to deal with such massive movements of people. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have not been able to deal adequately with this large number of persons despite many good-will efforts. Moreover, certain European political movements and political parties have used the refugee issue to promote narrow nationalist and sometimes racist policies. Even a much smaller flow of refugees to the USA has provoked very mixed reactions – few of them welcoming.

Nansen Passport Memorial By Sparrow (麻雀), CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Policy for Migrants and Refugees.

The 19 September 2016 Summit is a first step toward creating a functioning world policy for migrants and refugees. The Summit is not an end in itself but follows a pattern of UN awareness-building conferences on the environment, population, food, urbanization and other world issues. The impact of UN conferences has been greatest when there is pre-existing popular movements led by NGOs which have in part sensitized people to the issue.

The two UN conferences which have had the most lasting consequences were the 1972 Stockholm conference on the environment and the 1975 International Year of Women and its Mexico conference. The environment conference was held at a time of growing popular concern with the harm to the environment symbolized by the widely-read book of Rachel Carson Silent Spring. The 1975 women’s conference came at a time when in Western Europe and the USA there was a strong « women’s lib » movement and active discussion on questions of equality and gender.

Migration and refugee issues do not have a well-organized NGO structure highlighting these issues. However human rights NGOs have stressed the fate of refugees and migrants as well as human rights violations in the countries from which they fled. There is also some cooperation among relief NGOs which provide direct help to refugees and migrants such as those from Syria and Iraq living in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and those going to Greece and Italy.

Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. Official photo as FWS employee. c. 1940. By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Spirit of the Summit.

The Summit’s Declaration is very general, and some observers have been disappointed with the lack of specific measures. However, we can welcome the spirit of the Summit Declaration with its emphasis on cooperative action, a humane sense of sharing the responsibilities for refugees and migrants and on seeking root causes of migration and refugee flows. What is needed now are strong NGO efforts to remind constantly government authorities of the seriousness of the issues and the need for collective action.

Refugees and migrants are not a temporary « emergency » but part of a continuing aspect of the emerging world society. Thus there is a need to develop a world policy and strong institutions for migrants and refugees.

Professor Rene Wadlow, President, Associacion of World Citizens.

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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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Albert Thomas Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Thomas: The ILO Centenary. by Rene Wadlow

Albert Thomas, By National Photo Company Collection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Albert Thomas (1878 -1932); was a French socialist close to Jean Jaures; who was assassinated on the eve of the First World War by a French Nationalist; who thought Jaures was too active trying to prevent a war with Germany.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the New England philosopher wrote that

an institution is the lengthened shadow of a man.”  

This is certainly true of the International Labour Organization (ILO); whose centenary was celebrated in Geneva at the start of its annual conference in May, 2019.  

Albert Thomas, the first Director General, set in motion nearly all the elements that were developed later.

Director General of the ILO.

Thomas was brought into the French government as the war began; largely as a sign that not all socialists were pacifists.  He was quickly given a newly-created Ministry: the Ministry of Armaments.  In this position; he met many French industrialists; who were making arms and that he would see again as the representatives of French industry; when Thomas was Director General of the ILO.

Minister of Armaments.

Thomas was very aware of the socio-political situation in Russia.  He had widely traveled there as a university student, and returned in 1916 as Minister of Armaments.  He returned in 1917 after the April revolution which had made Alexandre Kerensky Prime Minister.

Soviet-Style Revolution

Thomas saw the possibility of similar revolutions in other countries; if labor conditions were not improved and if cooperation between workers and owners was not developed.

Thus, the background of labor unrest leading to a Soviet-style revolution; was in the minds of many of the 1919 negotiators that led to the Treaty of Versailles.  Without mentioning the Russian Revolution in public; the negotiators; especially the English and the French; saw the need for an organization that would bring together in a cooperative spirit the representatives of government, of industry and of labor.

Norwegian delegation to the 1919 International Labour Conference (Washington Conference).
By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The French and the British.

The French and English negotiators were the most active on these labor cooperation; issues and divided the structure of the administration of what was to become the ILO between the two States. 

The U.S.A. had already indicated that it would not join the League of Nations. Russia, become the Soviet Union, was not invited, and Germany, as the defeated power was also excluded.  Thus a Frenchman, Albert Thomas, became the founding Director General, and the British Harold Butler became his deputy.  In practice, all the important posts were divided among the French and the British.

Trade Union Federations and Employers’ associations.

The ILO has a three-part structure of equality among the representatives of governments, trade union federations and employers’ associations.  The ILO has a philosophy of dialogue and compromise.  However, Thomas began a tradition of strong leadership and expert knowledge by the secretariat. 

Thomas stressed that “The governments must be told what they have to do; and told in terms so far as possible, of their own constitution and methods”.

Letters of Principle.

He insisted on what he called “letters of principle”; in which the duties of governments were carefully set out and a method for their performances suggested.

This approach has led to the widely used ILO practice of setting out “Recommendations”; which creates standards but need not be ratified by national parliaments as must be ILO Conventions; which are treaties which need to be ratified in the manner of other international treaties.  Thus there are many more ILO Recommendations than ILO Conventions.

Rural Workers and The Unpaid Labor.

From his early days in French politics; Thomas had developed an interest in cooperatives and in rural workers; both of which were usually outside the interests of trade unions and employers’ association which focused on industry.

Under Thomas’ leadership, the ILO took on a fairly broad view of what is “labor”.  He was also concerned with the role of women; though it was only a good bit later that the ILO became concerned with “unpaid labor” and the informal sector.  In many countries the work of wives  as “unpaid labor” is still outside employment statistics.

The International Labour Conference.

On 21 June 2019, a new Convention and accompanying; recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the world of work was adopted by the ILO Conference.  

Manuela Tonei; Director of the ILO’s Work Quality Department said; “Without respect, there is no dignity at work, and without dignity there is no social justice.” 

This is the first new Convention agreed by the International Labour Conference; since 2011 when the Domestic Workers Convention (Convention 184) was adopted.  Conventions are legally binding international conventions while Recommendations provide advice and guidance.

An Intensive Worker.

Also linked to his political background, Thomas knew the importance of personal contacts.  Thus, he traveled a good deal to meet officials and explain the role of the ILO.  He traveled a good bit in Asia; especially China and Japan, two countries outside of colonial control, as well as to North and South America.

Thomas was an intensive worker, often traveling in difficult conditions.  He did not take into consideration his own health needs – suffering from diabetes.  He died suddenly in 1932; as the ILO was facing the consequences of the world-wide depression.  He was only 53.  He left a strong legacy on which the ILO has been able to build.

Note

For a biography and analysis of the start of the ILO; written by a close co-worker and high official in the ILO Secretariat see: E.J. Phelan. Albert Thomas et la Création du B.I.T. (Paris: Grasset, 1936) translated into English as Edward J. Phelan. Yes and Albert Thomas (1936).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Religious Liberty Rapprochement of Cultures.

Assault on Religious Liberty : 20 July 1937.

view to western wall Jerusalem and dome of rock. By Photo by Anton Mislawsky on Unsplash.

The Nazi Government of Germany had first moved against the Jews; considered as both a racial and a religious group. The Jews had long been a target of the Nazi movement; and the attack on them came as no surprise.

However;  the 20 July 1937 banning of the theosophical movement and of others « Theosophically Related »;  in the Nazi ideology was a turning point in Nazi repression.

On 20 July 1937;  the Theosophical Society and the related Anthroposophical Society;  which had been founded by Rudolf Steiner;  who had been president of the German section of the Theosophical Society;  were banned. The banning order was signed by the Reichfuhrer SS Heydrich;  who warned that:

« The continuation and new foundation of this as well as the foundation of disguised succession organizations is prohibited. Simultaneously I herewith state because of the law about confiscation of property hostile to people and state that the property of the above mentioned organizations was used or intended for the promotion of intentions hostile to people and state. » 

Thus all offices and buildings were confiscated.

Rudolf Steiner

 Rudolf Steiner By Pausoak2018, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler

Left to right: Janowska concentration camp commandant Friedrich Warzok, SS-Gruppenfuhrer Fritz Katzmann, Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler during official visit at a place of extermination of Polish Jews from the Lwow Ghetto.
By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

At the time;  there was little organized protest. The League of Nations;  while upholding tolerance and freedom of thought in general;  had no specific declaration on freedom of religion; and no institutional structures to deal with protests. Now;  the United Nations has a specific Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of 25 November 1981;  which builds upon Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  which states that:

« Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion : this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship or observance. » 

As with all U.N. Instruments relating to freedom of religion;  Article 18 represents a compromise. One of its achievements was the inclusion of the terms « thought » and « conscience »; which quietly embraced atheists and non-believers. The most divisive phrase; however, was :

« freedom to change one’s religion. »

The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief;  took nearly 20 years of difficult negotiations to draft. Preparations for the Declaration had begun in 1962. One of the most difficult areas in drafting the Declaration; concerned the rights of the child to have: 

« access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle. »

The Declaration goes on to state that: 

« The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, respect for freedom of religion or belief of others, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the services of his fellow men. »

The Declaration highlights that there can be no doubt that freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and the elimination of intolerance and discrimination based on religion;  or belief are of a fundamental character;  and derive from the inherent dignity and worth of the human person.

The gradual evolution of U.N. norms;  on the issue of religious liberty has been a complex process;  and is often a reflection of bi-lateral relations among Member States. This was especially true during the 1980s – the last decade of the U.S.-USSR Cold War. However;  the end of the Cold War did not end religious tensions as an important factor in internal and international conflicts.

The 1981 Declaration cannot be implemented by U.N. Bodies alone. Effective implementation also requires efforts by non-governmental organizations (NGO). NGOs play a vital role in the development of the right to freedom of religion or belief;  especially by advancing the cause of those still struggling to achieve this right.

Thus;  the Association of World Citizens had been active in the late 1970s;  when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights moved from New York to Geneva;  on the formulation of the 1981 Declaration. Since then;  the Association has worked closely with the Special Rapporteurs on Religious Liberty of the Commission; (now become the Human Rights Council). The Association has also raised publicly in the Commission certain specific situations and violations. The Association stresses the need for sound research and careful analysis. Citizens of the World have an important rôle to play in bringing spiritual and ethical insights; to promote reconciliation and healing in many parts of the world.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Religious Liberty

“Religious Liberty” was commissioned by B’nai B’rith and dedicated in 1876 to “the people of the United States” as an expression of support for the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Created by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, the first American Jewish sculptor to gain international prominence, the 25-foot marble monument was carved in Italy and shipped to Fairmount Park in Philadelphia for the nation’s Centennial Exposition. It was later moved to Independence Mall and now stands in front of the National Museum of American Jewish History. By Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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