Tag: <span>Russian Revolution</span>

Alexandre Marc Rapprochement of Cultures.

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

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

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

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

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

The Forerunners of the Nazi Movement

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

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

Anti-Nazi German Youth

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

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

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

L’Ordre Nouveau

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

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

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

once a Jew, always a Jew

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

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

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

The Jewish philosophers

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

Personalism.

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

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

The Foundations of the European Movement and the European Federalists

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

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

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

The Cold War.

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

Centers for the Study of European Federalism

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

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

Distrust of European Integration

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

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

The Lobbying of Governments on Federalist Issues.

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

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

Hamiltonian Federalism

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

The Future is within Us

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

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

A Complex Man

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

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

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

 Notes

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

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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World Day for Cultural Diversity Portraits of World Citizens.

World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development.

Featured Image: These students together in a public school in the capital city of Nigeria celebrates World Day for cultural Diversity for dialogue and development on May 21st of each year; which is a significant event anchored by United Nations. By Joemadaki, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

In December 2002; the United Nations General Assembly; in Resolution 57/249, declared that 21 May each year should be the World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development. The Day was created as a response to the destruction of the Buddha statues of Bamiyam in Afghanistan in 2001.

Thus the day has a double theme.  The broader aim is to create an enabling environment for dialogue and understanding among cultures. Achieving a true rapprochement of cultures must be nourished by a culture of peace and non-violence and sustained by respect for human rights.

The second theme, closely linked to the destruction of the Buddha statues is the protection of the cultural heritage of humanity at the time of armed conflict. In light of the subsequent destruction of UNESCO selected heritage of humanity sites in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Mali, I will stress the protection aspect by looking at the post-World War I efforts of Nicholas Roerich as an example of non-governmental mobilization.

“Only the bridge of Beauty will be strong enough for crossing from the banks of darkness
to the side of light”.

                                                                                                                      Nicholas Roerich.

Buddha of Bamiyan (reconstitution)

Buddha of Bamiyan (reconstitution). By MOs810, Saiko, Adam Jones Adam63, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Nicholas Roerich.

One of the spiritual visionaries of the 1920s-1930s was Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) a Russian and world citizen; a painter and researcher into cultures. Nicholas Roerich had lived through the First World War and the Russian Revolution; and saw how armed conflict can destroy works of art and cultural institutions.  For Roerich; such institutions were irreplaceable, and their destruction was a permanent loss for all humanity.

Thus; he worked for the protection of works of art and institutions of culture in times of armed conflict.  He envisaged a “Banner of Peace” that could be placed upon institutions and sites of culture which would protect them; as the symbol of the Red Cross is supposed to protect medical workers and medical institutions in times of conflict.

Nicholas Roerich

Nicholas Roerich (between 1940 and 1947). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Banner of Peace.

Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s and early 1930s for the establishment of this Banner of Peace.  Henry A. Wallace; the US Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President was an admirer of Roerich; and helped to have a formal treaty introducing the Banner of Peace — the Roerich Peace Pact — signed at the White House on 15 April 1935; by the 21 States of North and South America in a Pan American Union ceremony.  At the ceremony; Henry Wallace on behalf of the USA said:

“At no time has such an ideal been more needed.  It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity.  It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs.  Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time, when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in addition the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in one fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith.”

Henry A. Wallace

Henry Agard Wallace, 1888–1965, bust portrait, facing left. (1940). By Photo copyrighted by D.N. Townsend; no renewal in the U.S. Copyright Office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Hague Convention.

After the Second World War; UNESCO has continued the effort; and there have been additional conventions on the protection of cultural bodies in times of conflict — such as the Hague Convention of May 1954; though no universal symbol such as the three red circles proposed by Nicholas Roerich has been developed.

Conserving a cultural heritage even in times of peace is always difficult.  Weak institutional capabilities; lack of appropriate resources and isolation of many culturally essential sites are compounded by a lack of awareness of the value of cultural heritage conservation.  On the other hand; the dynamism of local initiatives and community solidarity systems are impressive assets.  These forces should be enlisted, enlarged, and empowered to preserve and protect a heritage.  Involving people in cultural heritage conservation both increases the efficiency of cultural heritage conservation; and raises awareness of the importance of the past for people facing rapid changes in their environment and values.

The Hague Convention.

The First International Peace Conference, the Hague, May – June 1899. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important.

Knowledge and understanding of a people’s past can help current inhabitants to develop and sustain identity; and to appreciate the value of their own culture and heritage. This knowledge and understanding enriches their lives and enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully. It is important to retain the best of traditional self-reliance; and skills of rural life and economies as people adapt to change.

Traditional systems of knowledge are rarely written down: they are implicit, learnt by practice and example, rarely codified or even articulated by the spoken word.  They continue to exist as long as they are useful; as long as they are not supplanted by new techniques.  They are far too easily lost.  It is the objects that come into being through these systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important. The objects that bear witness to systems of knowledge must be accessible to those who would visit and learn from them.

As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of a draft of the Pact; largely written by the French jurist Dr George Chklaver:

“The world is striving toward peace in many ways, and everyone realizes in his heart that this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era…We deplore the loss of the libraries of Louvain and Oviedo and the irreplaceable beauty of the Cathedral of Rheims.  We remember the beautiful treasures of private collections which were lost during world calamities.  But we do not want to inscribe on these deeds any words of hatred.  Let us simply say: Destroyed by human ignorance — rebuilt by human hope.”

Thus for the World Day;  let us work together to preserve the beauty of the past and create beauty for future generations.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Antonio Gramsci Rapprochement of Cultures.

Antonio Gramsci: A Cultural Base for Positive Action.

Emilio J. Rodríguez Posada, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Antonio Gramsci (22 January 1891 – 24 April 1937); was an Italian Socialist; and then Communist editor ; who is best known for his notebooks of reflections; that he wrote while in prison. (1). 

 Gramsci grew up on the Italian island of Sardinia; and saw the poor conditions of the impoverished peasants there.  He studied just before the First World War; at the University of Turin at a time when industry; especially the Fiat auto company was starting.  Antonio Gramsci became concerned; with the conditions of the new industrial working class.   When the First World War started; he was asked to join a new Socialist newspaper; that had started in Turin.

1921, in part due to the Russian Revolution, the Italian Communist Party was born.  Some of the  Socialists, including Gramsci, joined the new party, and Gramsci became an editor of the Communist newspaper. In 1922, he went to Russia as a delegate of the Italian Communist Party to a convention of Communist Parties from different parts of the world.

During 1923; Benito Mussolini and his Fascist Party came to power; and quickly began a crackdown on the Communists; and other opposition movements.  In 1926; after a failed attempt on Mussolini’s life; there was a massive crackdown on Communists. Although he had nothing to do with the effort to kill Mussolini; but as a Communist deputy to the national Parliament; Antonio Gramsci was sentenced to 20 years in prison.  His health; which had never been strong; deteriorated in prison. On 27 April 1937 he died; aged 46.

Benito Mussolini in 1930. By Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Idea of Hegemony.

While in prison; he wrote his ideas in notebooks; which were censored by the prison authorities. Then; the notebooks were passed on to family members. Antonio Gramsci had to be careful; about how he expressed his ideas.  The  notebooks were published; only after the end of the Second World War; and the defeat of the Fascist government.  Thus; Gramsci was never able to discuss; or clarify his views.  Nevertheless; his prison writings have been widely read and discussed.

The concept most associated with Antonio Gramsci; is the idea of “Hegemony”.  

Hegemony is constructed through; a complex series of struggles.  Hegemony cannot be constructed once; and for all since the balance of social forces; on which it rests is continually evolving. Class structures; related to the mode of production is obviously one area of struggle – the core of the Marxist approach.  However; what is new in Gramsci; is his emphasis on the cultural, ideological, and moral dimensions of the struggle for hegemony.

For Antonio Gramsci; hegemony cannot be economic alone.  There must be a cultural battle; to transform the popular mentality.  He asks:

 “How it happens that in all periods; there co-exist many systems and currents of philosophical thought and how these currents are born; how they are diffused; and why in the process of diffusion; they fracture along certain lines and in certain directions.”

The French Revolution.

Gramsci was particularly interested in the French Revolution; and its follow up. Why were the revolutionary ideas not permanently in power; but rather were replaced by those of Napoleon; only to return later?.  Gramsci put an emphasis on what is called today “the civil society” – all the groups and forces; not directly related to government: government administration, the military, the police.   

There can be a control of the government; but such control: can be replaced if the civil society’s values and zeitgeist (world view);   are not modified in depth.  There is a slow evolution of mentalities; from one value system to another.  For progress to be permanent; one needs to influence; and then control those institutions – education, culture, religion, folklore – that create the popular zeitgeist.  He was unable to return to the USSR; to see how Stalin  developed the idea of hegemony.

The intellectual contribution of Gramsci has continued in the work of Edward Said; on how the West developed its ideas about the Middle East. (2). Likewise his influence is strong in India; in what are called “subaltern studies” – what those people left out of official histories think. As someone noted

 I believe firmly that the history of ideas is the key to the history of deeds.”

Notes.

1) Antonio Gramsci. The Prison Notebooks (three volumes) (New York: Columbia University Press).
    Antonio Gramsci. Prison Letters (London: Pluto Press, 1996).
2) See Edward Said. Culture and Imperialism (London: Vintage, 1994) .

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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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.

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

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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