Tag: <span>Norman Cousins</span>

Norman Cousins Portraits of World Citizens.

Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

Norman Cousins Picture: Apurva Madia, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Citizen Norman Cousins (24 June 1915-30 November 1990); was a pioneer of Track II diplomacy. Track I is official government to government diplomacy among instructed representative of the State.  Track II is a non-official effort;  usually by a non-governmental organization (NGO); or an academic institution.

Therefore; Track II talks are discussions held by non-officials of conflicting parties; in an attempt to clarify outstanding disputes and to explore the options for resolving them in settings;  that are less public or less sensitive than those associated with official negotiations.

“A world that has become a single geographic unit is now groping its way,
however slowly, toward global institutions as the only way
of achieving common safety and common progress.
A new world is waiting to be born.”
Norman Cousins.

Track II Diplomacy.

Track II talks can also be defined by what they are not: neither academic conferences; nor secret diplomacy conducted by government representatives.  At a minimum; Track II talks are aimed at an exchange of views,  perceptions and information between the parties;  to improve each side’s understanding of the other’s positions and policies.

However; Track II talks need not necessarily be linked to concurrent.  Track I negotiations participants in Track II must have some relations with officials in their countries’ decision-making circles; for such talks to be effective.

National Interest.

Track II is necessary as Track I diplomats are mandated to be concerned with “national interest” and are usually trained within such a framework. Yet as Norman Cousins wrote:

“Our world is now an emergent system but that is not the way we perceive it. We and particularly our leaders still see the world in older terms – as a collection of relatively independent and autonomous nation-states – a guiding social framework which has served humanity well for several hundred years. That framework is neither immutable nor adequate. We already live in a community of states, bound through communications and economy to a common destiny. Psychologically and attitudinally, however, we have not begun to come to terms with our new estate…The future is up to us, that we can change it and mould it ti suit the needs of all life on earth. Implicit is the call to us each to recognize and to accept our responsibility and to exert ourselves fully in easing the transition to a humane world order.”

By the mid-1950s; after the death of Stalin, there was a feeling among some in the USA and the USSR that informal talks and cultural exchabges might be possible and useful. Norman Cousins, as the editor of a leading literary and cultural weekly; had a good overview of U.S. culture. He also had international political interests and contacts in both the New York area and in Washington DC. Thus; he was asked to take on the task of organizing meetings among Soviet and U.S. intellectuals, but also to keep the U.S. government informed of the thrust of the discussions.

 

Stalin Death

A picture from a Georgian Newspaper, depicting the death of Stalin. By Komunist’i Newspaper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thus, in 1960, the Dartmouth Conference, named after the US college; where the first meeting was held; under the leadership of Norman Cousins; was born. (1) As he later said:

” The purpose of the Dartmouth Conference was to identify areas of opportunities for both countries in reducing tensions. The conferences made it possible for both governments to try out certain ideas without penalty.”

Cousins was born and grew up around New York City and was graduated from New York’s Columbia University. After graduation, he became a writer for the New York Post , then a liberal newspaper. In 1940 he joined the journal The Saturday Review of Literature which had its offices in the same building as The Post.

Cousins wrote a much quoted article “Modern Man is Obsolete” on 6 August 1945 as the US military dropped the A.- Bomb on Hiroshima. It was published the next day and became a key text for the “One World or None” ideology which stressed that Atomic bombs had created a new situation which had to be met by a new world framework of a stronger United Nations and the growth of world citizenship. Cousins wrote:

“The new education must be less concerned with sophistication than with compassion. It must recognize the hazards of tribalism. It must teach man the most difficult lesson of all – to look at someone anywhere in the world and be able to see the image of himself – an education for citizenship in the human community.”

In 1953 Cousins published Who Speaks for Man, the theme being that while a president speaks for the citizens of his country and a religious leader speaks for the members of his faith, there was no one who was recognized as speaking for humanity as a whole. This task of “speaking for man” was the role which citizens of the world should carry out.

The early 1950s was a time when there was increasing public criticism of testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere because of the radioactive fallout which could endanger health. This was my first political effort, and I met Norman Cousins at the time. We always stayed in touch, and I welcomed his advice. Although Cousins was a good deal older than I and much better known, he always treated everyone with respect and was a willing listener to what others had to say. He has always represented for me the spirit of world citizenship: rooted and learned in a particular culture and open to the world, its difficulties and its hopes.

 

 

Norman Cousins

Norman Cousins Picture: See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Note.

  • 1) For a history of the Drtmouth Conferences See James Voorhees. Dialogue Sustained: The Multilevel Peace Process and the Dartmouth Conferences (Washington DC: S Institute of Peace Press and the Charles Kettering Foundation, 2002).
    See the interview of Norman Cousins in Maureen R. Berman and Joseph E. Johnson (Eds) Unofficial Diplomats ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1977).
    For other examples of Track II efforts see Oliver R. Richmond and Henry F. Carey. Subcontracting Peace. The Challenges of the NGO Peacebuilding
    (Aldershat UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2005).
    Hussein Agha, Shai Feldman, Ahmad Khalidi, Zeev Schiff. Track II Diplomacy -Lessons from the Middle East (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2003).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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

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Robert Muller Portraits of World Citizens.

Robert Muller: Crossing Frontiers for Reconciliation

By Rene Wadlow.

The time has come for the implementation of a spiritual vision of the world’s affairs. 

The entire planet must elevate itself into the spiritual, cosmic throbbing of the universe…

I dream that all governments will join together to manage this beautiful Earth

and its precious humanity in Peace, Justice, and Happiness”  

                                                            Robert Muller (1923-2010).

Robert Muller, whose birth anniversary we mark on 11 March; was the former Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Service of the United Nations, and, after his retirement, he served as Honorary President of the Association of World CitizensHe was brought up in Alsace-Lorraine still marked by the results of the First World War.   As a young man, he joined the French Resistance movement during the Second World War when Alsace-Lorraine had been re-annexed by Germany.  At the end of the war, he earned a Doctorate in Law and Economics at the University of Strasbourg. Strasbourg was to become the city symbolic of French-German reconciliation and is today home of the European Parliament.

Determined to work for peace having seen the destructive impact of war, he joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1948; where he worked primarily on economic and social issues.  For many years, he was the Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.  His work with ECOSOC brought him into close contact with NGOs whose work he always encouraged.

The Thinking of Robert Muller.

In 1970, he joined the cabinet of the then Secretary-General U Thant; who was Secretary-General from 1961 to 1971.   U Thant had a deep impact on the thinking of Robert Muller.  U Thant’s inner motivations; we’re inspired by a holistic philosophy drawn from his understanding of Buddhism, by an intensive personal discipline, and by a sense of compassion for humans.  

U Thant had been promoted to his UN post by the military leaders of Burma; who feared that had he stayed in the country; he would have opposed their repressive measures and economic incompetence.  Although U Thant was reserved in expressing his spiritual views in public speeches; he was much more willing to discuss ideas and values with his inner circle of colleagues.  U Thant held that:

“The trouble of our times is that scientific and technological progress has been so rapid that moral and spiritual development has not been able to keep up with it.”

You might be interested in reading: Burma’s Military in a Political Hole.

Muller agreed with U Thant’s analysis.  As Muller was a good public speaker; he often expressed these views both in UN meetings and in addresses to NGOs and other public meetings.  Muller became increasingly interested in the views of the French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; who had lived the last years of his life in New York City. For Teilhard, as he wrote in Phenomenon of Man:

“No longer will man be able to see himself unrelated to mankind neither will he be able to see mankind unrelated to life, nor life unrelated to the universe.”

Oe Thant in transit at Schiphol during a press conference, Oe Thant (1 July 1963). By Jac. de Nijs / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Sense of Humanity.

Muller saw the UN as a prime instrument for developing a sense of humanity; as all members of one human family and for relating humans to the broader community of life and Nature.  As Muller wrote:

“We are entering one of the most fascinating and challenging areas of human evolution. In order to win this new battle for civilization, we must be able to rely upon a vastly increased number of people with a worldview.  We need world managers and servers in many fields.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1947). By Unknown author unknown author; CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>; via Wikimedia Commons.

You might be interested in reading: Teilhard de Chardin: The Noosphere and Evolution Toward World Unity.

Albert Schweitzer and Norman Cousins.

I had the pleasure of knowing Robert Muller well as he was often in Geneva for his UN economic and social work and, at that time, had a home in France near Geneva; where he did much of his writing.  Muller was also deeply influenced by the thinking of another Alsatian, Albert Schweitzer; who had also spent most of his life outside France.  I had known Albert Schweitzer when I was working for the Ministry of Education of Gabon in the early 1960s.  Both Schweitzer and I, influenced by Norman Cousins; had been active against A-Bomb tests in the atmosphere; and so I had been welcomed for discussions at the hospital in Lambaste. For Muller; Schweitzer with his philosophy of reverence for life and the need for a spiritual-cultural renewal was a fellow world citizen and a model of linking thought and action.

For Robert Muller; the UN was the bridge that helped to cross frontiers and hopefully to develop reconciliation through a common vision of needs and potential for action.

Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965). By Bundesarchiv, Bild 145 Bild-00014770 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might be interested in reading: Albert Schweitzer. Reverence for Life.

Norman Cousins Picture: Apurva Madia, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might be interested in reading: Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

Note.

For two autobiographic books, see Robert Muller. What War Taught Me About Peace (New York: Doubleday ) and Robert Muller. Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness (New York: Doubleday, 1978) .

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

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Reverence for Life Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Schweitzer: Reverence for Life

Featured Image: Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965). By Bundesarchiv, Bild 145 Bild-00014770 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

The human race must be converted to a fresh mental attitude if it is not to suffer extinction…A new renaissance, much greater than that in which we emerged from the Middle Ages, is absolutely essential. Are we going to draw from the spirit enough strength to create new conditions and turn our faces once again to civilization, or are we going to draw our inspiration from our surroundings and go down with them to ruin?                                                                                                 

Albert Schweitzer.

As the world citizen Norman Cousins has noted:

“the main point about Schweitzer is that he helped make it possible for a twentieth-century man to unblock his moral vision. There is a tendency in a relativistic age for a man to pursue all sides of a question as an end in itself, finding relief and even refuge in the difficulty of defining good and evil. The result is a clogging of the moral sense, a certain feeling of self-consciousness, or even discomfort when questions with ethical content are raised. Schweitzer furnished the nourishing evidence that nothing is more natural in life than a moral response, which exists independently of precise definition, its use leading not to exhaustion but to new energy.”

The moral response for Schweitzer was “reverence for life”. Schweitzer had come to Lambaréné in April 1913, already well known for his theological reflections on the eschatological background of Jesus’ thought as well as his study of Bach. As an Alsatian, he was concerned with the lack of mutual understanding, the endless succession of hatred and fear, between France and Germany that led to war a year later.

Since Alsace was part of Germany at the time, Schweitzer was considered an enemy alien in the French colony of Gabon. When war broke out he was first restricted to the missionary station, where he had started his hospital and later was deported and interned in France. He returned to Gabon after the First World War, even more, convinced of the need to infuse thought with a strong ethical impulse. His reflections in The Decay and Restoration of Civilisation trace in a fundamental way the decay. He saw clearly that “the future of civilization depends on our overcoming the meaningless and hopelessness which characterizes the thoughts and convictions of men today, and reaching a state of fresh hope and fresh determination.”

This picture of en:Norman Cousins was taken from http://history.nasa.gov/EP-125/part2.htm And was probably created by NASA at the time of the panel it was taken from (1976). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

It could for you to be interesting to read: Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

Reverence for Life.

He was looking for a basic principle that would provide the basis of the needed renewal. That principle arose from a mystical experience. He recounts how he was going downriver to Ngomo, a missionary station with a small clinic. In those days there were steamboats on the Ogowé and seated on the deck, he had been trying to write all day. After a while, he stopped writing and only watched the equatorial forest as the boat moved slowly on. Then the words “reverence for life” came into his mind, and his reflections had found their core: life must be both affirmed and revered. Ethics, by its very nature, is linked to the affirmation of the good.

Schweitzer saw that he was:

“life which wants to live, surrounded by the life which wants to live. Being will-to-life, I feel the obligation to respect all will-to-life about me as equal to my own. The fundamental idea of good is thus that it consists in preserving life, in favoring it, in wanting to being it to its highest value, and evil consists in destroying life, doing it injury, hindering its development.”

Erfurt fur das Leben, – reverence for life – was the key concept for Schweitzer – all life longs for fullness and development as I do myself. However, the will to live is not static; there is an inner energy that pushes on to a higher state – a will to self-realization. Basically, this energy can be called spiritual. As Dr. Schweitzer wrote:

“One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history.”

The use of Schweitzer’s principle of Reverence for Life can have a profound impact on how humans treat the environment. Reverence for Life rejects the notion that humans can use the environment for their own purposes without any consideration of its consequences for other living things. It accepts the view that there is a reciprocal relationship among living things. Each species is linked to many others.

Aldo Leopold in his early statement of a deep ecology ethic, A Sand County Almanac, makes the same point. “All ethics so far evolved rest on a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts…The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soil, water, plants, and animals, or collectively, the land.”

War and the potential of the use of nuclear weapons are the obvious opposite of reverence for life. Thus, in the mid-1950s, when the political focus was on the testing in the atmosphere of nuclear weapons, Schweitzer came out strongly for the abolition of nuclear tests. Some had warned him that such a position could decrease his support among those who admired his medical work in Africa; but who wanted to support continued nuclear tests.

However, for Schweitzer, an ethic that is not presented publicly is no ethic at all. His statements on the nuclear weapons issue are collected in his Peace or atomic war? (1958). The statements had an impact on many, touched by the ethical appeal when they had not been moved to action by political reasoning. These protests led to the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which bans tests in the atmosphere – an important first step.

Aldo Leopold (left) and Olaus Muire sitting together outdoors, annual meeting of The Wilderness Society Council, Old Rag, Virginia, 1946. By Howard Zahniser, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Schweitzer was confident that an ethical impulse was in all people and would manifest itself if given the proper opportunity.

“Just as the rivers are much less numerous than underground streams, so the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what men and women carry in their hearts, unreleased or scarcely released. Mankind is waiting and longing for those who can accomplish the task of untying what is knotted and bringing the underground waters to the surface.”

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Robert M. Hutchins Rapprochement of Cultures.

Robert M. Hutchins: Building on Earlier Foundations.

Featured Image: University of Chicago: Hyde Park, East 57th Street. Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash.

Robert M. Hutchins much of our current work for a more just and peaceful world builds on the thinking and efforts of earlier foundations.  An important foundation is the leading role of Robert M. Hutchins, long-time President of the University of Chicago  (l929 -1951).

University of Chicago.

Robert M. Hutchins’ father, William, was President of Berea, a small but important liberal arts college, so Robert M. Hutchins (1899-1977) was set to follow the family pattern.  He went to Yale Law School and stayed on to teach. He quickly became the Dean of the Law School and was spotted as a rising star of US education.  When he was 30 years old, he was asked to become President of the University of Chicago, a leading institution.  Hutchins was then the youngest president of a US university.

In the first decade in his post as president, the 1930s, his ideas concerning undergraduate education − compulsory survey courses, early admission after two years of secondary school for bright and motivated students, a concentration on “Great Books” – an examination of seminal works of philosophy in particular Plato and Aristotle − divided the University of Chicago faculty. 

There were strong and outspoken pro and anti Hutchins faculty groups.  Moreover Hutchins’ abolition of varsity football and ending the University’s  participation in the “Big Ten” university football league distressed some alumni whose link to the university was largely limited to attending football games. For Hutchins, a university was for learning and discussion, not for playing sports. As he famously said:

  “When I feel like exercising, I sit down until the feeling goes away.”

Committee to Frame a World Constitution in 1945.

It is Hutchins’ creation and leadership of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution in 1945 which makes him one of the intellectual founders of the movement for world federation and world citizenship. After the coming to power of Hitler in Germany in 1933 and his quick decision to ban Jewish professors from teaching in German universities, many Jewish scientists and professors left Germany and came to the USA.  Some of the leading natural scientists joined the University of Chicago.  Thus began the “Metallurgy Project” as the work on atomic research was officially called. The University of Chicago team did much of the theoretical research which led to the Atom Bomb.  While Hutchins was not directly involved in the atomic project, he understood quickly the nature of atomic energy and its military uses.  He saw that the world would never return to a “pre-atomic” condition and that new forms of world organization were needed.

Atomic Force: Its Meaning for Mankind .

            On 12 August 1945, a few days after the use of the atom bombs, Hutchins made a radio address “Atomic Force: Its Meaning for Mankind” in which he outlined the need for strong world institutions, stronger than the UN Charter, whose drafters earlier in the year did not know of the destructive power of atomic energy.

Several professors of the University of Chicago were already active in peace work such as Mortimer Adler, G.A. Borgese, and Richard McKeon, Dean of the undergraduate college.  The three approached Hutchins saying that as the University of Chicago had taken a lead in the development of atomic research, so likewise, the university should take the lead in research on adequate world institutions.  By November 1945, a 12-person Committee to Frame a World Constitution was created under Hutchins’ chairmanship.

Mortimer Adler By Courtesy Center for the Study of The Great Ideas, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Committee drew largely on existing faculty of the University of Chicago − Wilber Katz, Dean of the Law School and Rexford Tugwell who taught political science but who had been a leading administrator of the Roosevelt New Deal and Governor of Puerto Rico. Two retired professors from outside Chicago were added − Charles McIlwain of Harvard, a specialist on constitutions, and Albert  Guerard of Stanford, a French refugee who was concerned about the structure of post-war Europe.

 Rexford G. Tugwell, administrator, Resettlement Administration. Public domain.

Journal Common Cause.

            From 1947 to 1951, the Committee published a monthly journal Common Cause  many of whose articles still merit reading today as fundamental questions concerning the philosophical basis of government, human rights, distribution of power, and the role of regions are discussed.  The Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution  was published in 1948 and reprinted in the Saturday Review of Literature edited by Norman Cousins and in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists some of whom were in the original “Metallurgy Project”.  The Preliminary Draft raised a good deal of discussion, reflected in the issues of Common Cause.  There was no second draft.  The Preliminary Draft was as G.A. Borgese said, quoting Dante “…of the True City at least the Tower.”

            In 1951, Hutchins retired from the presidency of the University of Chicago for the Ford Foundation and then created the Ford Foundation-funded Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions where he gathered together some of his co-workers from the University of Chicago.

Norman Cousins Picture: Apurva Madia, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might interest to read Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

The Preliminary Draft.

            Two ideas from The Preliminary
Draft
are still part of intellectual and political life for those concerned
with a stronger UN.  The first is the
strong role of regional organizations. 
When The Preliminary Draft was written the European Union was
still just an idea and most of the States now part of the African Union were
European colonies.  The Preliminary
Draft
saw that regional groups were institutions of the future and should
be integrated as such in the world institution. 
Today, the representatives of States belonging to regional groupings
meet together at the UN to try to reach a common position, but regional groups
are not part of the official UN structure. However, they may be in the future.

            The other lasting aspect of The Preliminary Draft is the crucial role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should play.  The then recently drafted UN Charter had created a “consultative status” for NGOs, but few of the UN Charter drafters foresaw the important role that NGOs would play  as the UN developed.  The Preliminary Draft had envisaged a Syndical Senate to represent occupational associations on the lines of the International Labour Organization where trade unions and employer associations have equal standing with government delegates.  In 1946, few people saw the important role that the NGOs would later play in UN activities.  While there is no “Syndical Senate”, today NGOs represent an important part of the UN process.

Reflections.   

   Robert M. Hutchins, however, was also a reflection of his time.  There were no women as members of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, and when he created the Center for the Study of Democratic  Institutions with a large number of “fellows”, consultants, and staff, women are also largely absent.

            The effort to envisage the structures and processes among the different structures was an innovative contribution to global institution building at the time, and many of the debates and reflections are still crucial for today. Looking at back issues of  Common Cause, the journal of the World Constitution Drafting Committee, if they are available in a university library, still has discussions of  important questions on the structures of governance.

Notes.

For an understanding of the thinking of those involved in writing The Preliminary Draft see:

Mortimor Adler. How to think about War and Peace (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944)

Rexford Tugwell. Chronicle of Jeopardy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

G.A. Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1953)

Scott Buchanan. Essay in Politics (New York: Philosophical Library, 1953)

For a life of Hutchens written by a co-worker in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions:

Harry Ashmore. Unreasonable Truths: the Life of Robert Maynard Hutchens (Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1989)

By Rene Wadlow, President Association of World Citizens.

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

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Albert Schweitzer Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Schweitzer: Respect for Life Against Nuclear Death.

Featured Image: Respect for life’ 1974 – (Albert Schweitzer), Deventer/The Netherlands Made by Pieter de Monchy (Hengelo 1916). By FaceMePLS from The Hague, The Netherlands, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Civilization is made up of four ideals: the ideal of the individual; the ideal of social and political organization;
the ideal of spiritual and religious organization; the ideal of humanity as a whole.
On the basis of these four ideals, thought tries conclusions with progress.

Albert Schweitzer  The Philosophy of Civilization.

Albert Schweitzer, whose birth anniversary we note on 14 January, was concerned with the ways that these four ideals of civilization are developed into a harmonious whole.  Late in his life, when I knew him in the early 1960s, he was most concerned with the ideal of humanity as a whole.

He had come out strongly against nuclear weapons, weapons which were the opposite of respect for life which was the foundation of his ethical values.

Albert Schweitzer

 Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) Bohn, 11 November 1955. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 145 Bild-00014770 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.

(1)  “Man can hardly recognize the devils of his creation.   Let me give you a definition of ethics.  It is good to maintain and further life.  It is bad to damage and destroy life.  By having reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world.  By practicing respect for life, we become of the human family and our  good, deep and alive.”

For Albert Schweitzer, our sense of unity of the human family and our obligation to future generations was threatened as never before in the two World wars that he had seen. I had been active since the mid-1950s in efforts to ban testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere – a focus of anti-nuclear efforts at the time.  I had also worked with the world citizen Norman Cousins who had visited Lambaréné and had written a lively book on his exchanges  with  Schweitzer.(2)  Thus I was well received by Schweitzer at his hospital in Lambarene; and we had useful discussions. I was working for the Ministry of Education  at the time and was at the Protestant Secondary School which was a mile down the Ogowe River from  the hospital.

It was Norman Cousins, active in disarmament efforts  in the USA, who urged Schweitzer to speak out against nuclear weapons.  Schweitzer had been awared the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts in Africa.  Thus he came into ever-greater contact with people working for peace.

However, he was reluctant to make statements on issues on which he was not expert. As he said to Cousins:

” All my life, I have carefully stayed away from making pronouncements on public matters. Groups would come to me for statements or I would be asked to sign joint letters or the press would ask me for my views on certain political questions.  And always I would feel forced to say no.”  

However, he went on: 

“The world needs a system of enforceable law to prevent aggression and deal with the threats to the peace, but theimportant thing to do is to make a start somewhere…I think maybe the place to take hold is with the matter of nuclear testing…If a ban on nuclear testing can be put into effect then perhaps the stage can be set  for other and broader measures related to peace.”

Norman Cousins.

This picture of en:Norman Cousins was taken from http://history.nasa.gov/EP-125/part2.htm And was probably created by NASA at the time of the panel it was taken from (1976). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Peace or Atomic War.

Schweitzer’s 1958 appeal “Peace or Atomic War” was an important contribution to the growing protests against nuclear testing and their fallout of radiation.  On 16 October 1963 The Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (more commonly called the Partial Test Ban) came into force.

Today, we still need those other and broader measures related to peace and for a constant affirmation of respect for life.

It could for you to be interesting to read: Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

Notes.

1) See Albert Schweitzer. Peace or Atomic War (New York: Henry Holt, 1958)
2) See Norman Cousins; Dr Schweitzer of Lambarene (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960)
3) Also from Rene Wallow in Ovi magazine:
Albert Schweitzer: To say yes to life HERE
Albert Schweitzer: A Universal Ethic HERE
Albert Schweitzer: To turn our faces once again to civilization. HERE

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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U.N General Assembly Role of Non-Governemental-Organizations.

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

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

27 Sep 2019 – The international relations specialist Stanley Hoffmann once quipped:

Goals are easy to describe. What matters more is a strategy for reaching them.” 

The United Nations through its annual debates in the General Assembly;  its special world conferences such as those devoted to the environment, population, food, women, urbanization, and within the Specialized Agencies have created goals for a world public policy in the interests of all humanity.  There are three important phases of this world public policy: formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Climate Action Summit.

Thus;  this September the UNGA began with a “Climate Action Summit” to evaluate governmental efforts to meet the challenges of climate change. Government leaders set out what they have done, or plan to do  at the national level; but they said relatively little on what they could do together.

The Climate Action Summit was followed by the policy statements of national governments: Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump, Recep Tajyip Erdogan, Emmanuel Macron, Hassan Rouhani, Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi and Abdel Fatth el-Sisi.    All except al Sisi came to national power through elections and not military coups.  Thus in some way;  they represent the degree of awareness of world issues and the priorities of their electors.

The question asked many years ago by the world citizen Norman Cousins.

UN General Assembly

President Trump Addresses Journalists at the UN General Assembly. By U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Who Speaks for Man”?

To meet the major challenges of world-wide issues;  strong leadership is necessary.  Yet the avenues for leadership at the world level are difficult to trace.  Leadership at the national level is usually clearly structured in a pyramid; with the office of President at the top;  with Cabinet Ministers; the higher ranks of the military just below. 

There may be a vast informal network of influential advisors; business leaders, the press – all with leadership roles; but the formal structure of governance is hierarchical and clearly defined.   People generally expect the Prime Minister or the President to lead.  In fact; he is judged on whether or not he provides such leadership.

At the world level; there is no world government as such, and a strong leader at the national level may play little role on the world level.  What the Commission on Global Governance wrote in 1994 remains true today:

At the moment;  political caution, national concerns, short-term problems, and a certain fatigue with international causes have combined to produce a dearth of leadership on major international issues.  The very magnitude of global problems such as poverty; population or consumerism seems to have daunted potential international leaders.  And yet without courageous; long-term leadership at every level – international and national – it is impossible to create and sustain constituencies powerful and reliable enough to make an impact on problems that will determine; one way or another;  the future of the human race on this planet.”  (1)

The United Nations is the only universal organization at the world level…

Thus;  there is a need for constant leadership and direction at the world level.  There is a need to maintain and rebuild enthusiasm;  to reset the course when policies do not work out as expected;  to keep up a momentum and an enthusiasm.  The United Nations is the only universal organization at the world level;  and thus it is from within the United Nations that leadership at the world level must come.  Leaders within the U.N. system must be able to reach beyond the member governments – at times over the heads of current government office holders – to the people of the world.

There are two positions of authority in the ill-defined pyramid structure of the United Nations.  One is the Secretary-General; the other is the President of the General Assembly;  who is elected for one year at a time.  The President of the current;  74th session is Tijjani Muhammed-Bande of Nigeria.  There have been times when the head of one of the Specialized Agencies of the U.N. or the financial institutions or U.N. programs have provided leadership;  but usually on only one or two subjects.

United Nations

Flag of the United Nations (Pantone). By We moved to 8.12, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
 
 

The Secretary-General for Leadership.

Especially on the resolution of armed conflicts;  people look to the Secretary-General for leadership.  In some cases;  the Secretary-General has been able to play a central role.  As the servant of the Security Council;  the Secretary-General has been able to play a mobilizing role in times of conflict;  and political crisis in those cases when the Security Council has been unified behind a decision.  Since the chairman of the Security Council is a national diplomat and serves on a rotating basis only for one month;  he cannot play a real mobilizing role nor is he perceived as a world leader.

Some hope that the President of the U.N. General Assembly; who is in post for a full year;  could play a leadership role.  So far such hopes have not been realized in practice. It would be difficult to find many people;  who can name the last five Presidents of the General Assembly;  or to cite much of what they have done other than presiding over meetings.

Today;  with real challenges to humanity;  with a reform-minded Secretary-General,  who for a decade faced refugee issues;  we may see some of the marks of strong world leadership.

Note:

1) The Commission on Global Governance. Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

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

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