Tag: <span>Stringfellow Barr</span>

World Hunger Appeals

 U.N. Security Council Focus On World Hunger.

Featured Image: Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash.

On 23 May, the United Nations Security Council will hold a special briefing to address the issue of food insecurity under the chairmanship of Mr Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation. During May, the rotating chairmanship is held by Switzerland led by the Swiss Ambassador to the United Nations, New York  Ms Pascale Baereswyl.  The meeting will have as background a 3 May 2023 report of the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) concerning early warning on areas facing acute food insecurity.

Some 250 million persons are living in this situation of acute food insecurity.

The report highlights that some 250 million persons are living in this situation of acute food insecurity with the Democratic Republic of Congo leading the list with some 27 million persons due to armed violence and the breakdown of governmental structures.  The Congo is followed by Ethiopia, largely due to fighting in the Tigray area.  The war in Ukraine is also having a negative impact limiting production and export of food goods -a principal export of Ukraine.  In addition to armed conflict, there is the growing impact of the consequences of climate change.

European Union, African Union and United Nations system.

    Today, cooperation on food insecurity is needed among the U.N. family of agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and the millions of food producers to respond to this food crisis.  These measures will have to be taken in a wholistic way with actions going from the local level of the individual farmer, the national level with new governmental policies, to measures at the multi-State regional level such as the European Union and the African Union, and at the world level with better coordinated action through the United Nations system.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano escorts H.E. Mr. Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, during his departure at the Vienna International Centre. Vienna, Austria, 8 January 2018. By IAEA Imagebank, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Additional funding for the U.N. World Food Programme and the release of national food stocks.

    There is a need for swift, short-term meaures to help people now suffering from lack of food and malnutrition due to high food prices, inadequate distribution, and situations of violence.  Such short-tem action requires additional funding for the U.N. World Food Programme and the release of national food stocks.  However, it is on the longer-range and structural issues on which we must focus our attention.

The Association of World Citizens has taken a lead in the promotion of a coordinated world food policy with an emphasis on the small-scale farmer and a new awareness that humans are part of Nature with a special duty to care and respect  for the Earth’s inter-related life-support system.  As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World (1952):

“Since the hungry in the world community believe that we can all eat if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust that some some die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live.”

    Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

Stringfellow Barr. Joining the Human Race.

A central theme which Citizens of the World have long stressed is that there needs to be a world food policy and that such a world food policy is more than the sum of national food security programs.  John Boyd Orr, the first Director General of the FAO proposed a World Food Board to stabilize food prices and supplies.  He resigned as Director General when the food board proposal was not accepted and then devoted much of his energy to the ,world citizen movement.

   For World Citizens, the emphasis must be placed on creating a world food policy which draws upon improving local self-reliance while not creating nationalistic policies which harm neighbours.  Food is a key aspect of deep structural issues in the world society and thus must be seen in a wholeistic framework.  The briefing and debate of the U.N. Security Council may give us strong elements  on which to promote a world food policy.

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.   

John Boyd Orr: A World Citizen’s Focus on Food.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

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Stringfellow Barr Rapprochement of Cultures.

Stringfellow Barr. Joining the Human Race.

Featured Image: Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

Stringfellow Barr: 15 January 1897 – 3 February 1982)

Stringfellow Barr;  whose birth anniversary we mark on 15 January;  was a historian;  largely of the classic Greek and Roman Empire period and an active world citizen.  

He served as president of the Foundation for World Government; from its start in 1948 to its closing in 1958.  He  was president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland (also home of the U.S. naval academy;  which turns out sailors). The aim of St. John’s; under Stringfellow Barr was to turn out well-read liberals;  who would have studied a common set of “Great Book” starting with the Greeks such as Plato.  The Great Books approach to learning developed community reading circles across the USA; very popular in the 1950s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZI0gUEzuEo

Stringfellow Barr had the good luck or a sense of the right timing to publish a short 36-page booklet; Let’s Join the Human Race in 1950. (1)  In his 30 January 1949;   Inaugural Address on becoming President of the U.S.A. Harry Truman set out four policy ideas; which he numbered as Point One to Point Four.

Presidential portrait of Harry Truman

Official Presidential Portrait. Notice the Capitol Building in the background. Truman, who was a two-term senator from Missouri and as vice-president presided over the Senate, wanted to emphasize his legislative career rather than his executive and the constitutional emphasis of the former over the latter. (1945). By Greta Kempton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Point Four.

Point Four  was really an afterthought as some mention of foreign policy was needed for balance. Point Four was “a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.”

While the first three points dealing with domestic policy were quickly forgotten; Point Four caught the interest of many Americans as had the earlier Marshall Plan for Europe.  For some Americans; Point Four as the idea was called had an anti-Russian coloring.  U.S. technology to raise the standard of living of poor countries would prevent them “from going communist”.  For others; such as Stringfellow Barr;  the effort of raising the standard of living of the poor was a good thing in itself; and it should not be the task of the U.S.A. alone.

Barr  wrote “The people of the world are alone able to take on what is the main economic problem of every single national group – the problem of rebuilding their common world economy.  They can hope to do it only by the massive use of public funds.  America cannot do it for them… The nearest thing to a suitable agency that already exists is the United Nations.  And the United Nations is the nearest thing that exists only because the people of the world lack a common government.”

Citizens of the World.

Barr  called for the United Nations to create a World Development Authority: 

calling in all neighbors from the Mighty Neighborhood.”

However;  he developed the idea in a full-length book in 1952; Citizens of the World (2).

 

He places the emphasis on hunger; which at the time was the public face of underdevelopment.  Robert Brittain’s Let There Be Bread and Josué de Castro’s;    The Geography of Hunger were among the most widely-read books by people interested in development at the time.

Josué de Castro

Josué de Castro speaks in the Chamber of Deputies, 1940. By Brazilian National Archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Today we have a broader view of what development requires; however food and rural development remain critical issues.  The efforts of the United Nations system for development are not integrated into a World Development Authority.   There are repeated calls for greater coordination and planning within the U.N. system. The 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals are an effort to provide an over-all vision;  but common action remains difficult.

As Barr pointed out at the time; most of the proposals to improve the U.N. have focused their attention on the elimination of war; obviously important in the 1950s; when war between the USSR and the USA was a real possibility; highlighted by the 1950-1953 Korean War.

However; world citizens have tried to look at the total picture of the social, political and economic life of all the people of the world.

Today the focus of citizens of the world is more on the need for world-focused attitudes and policies rather than on new political structures.  Yet the vision of Stringfellow Barr remains important as we highlight his birth anniversary.

 

Notes.

1)Stringfellow Barr. Let’s Join the Human Race (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1950, 36pp.).
2) Stringfellow Barr. Citizens of the World (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1952, 285pp).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of Citizens of the World.

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Gaza Economy Appeals

Ecologically-sound Gaza Development Programme.

Featured Picture: Photo by hosny salah in Pixabay

Jerusalem-Gaza 2021, An Effort is Needed For An Ecologically-sound Gaza Development Programme.

In early May 2021, Palestinians protesting the pending eviction of six  famlies from their home in East Jerusalem clashed with Israeli police.  For many Palestinians the eviction cases evoked a long history  of dispossesion.  Hamas, from its positions in the Gaza Strip, warned that it would “not stand idly by.” On 10 May, Hamas forces fired a fusillade of rockets and missils at Israeli villages and cities.  The Israeli Defense Forces responded with strikes on Gaza, inaugurating a conflict of depressing familiar dimentions after similar clashes in 2009, 2012, 2014.  After 11 days of destruction and loss of life and behind-the-scenes mediation by Egyptian diplomats, a ceasefire was declared. 

It is difficult to predict the political future of Gaza both in terms of relations between Hamas and Fatah as well as the future relations with Israel and Egypt.  What is certain is the Israel-Gaza conflict and the long embargos by Israel and Egypt for different national reasons have crippled and in some cases destroyed the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the Gaza Strip;  where some one and a half million people depend on imports for most basic goods and on exports for livelihood.  The economic and social situation in Gaza distorts the lives of many with high unemployment, poor health facilities, and a lack of basic supplies.

Men take great decisions only when crisis stares them in the face.

As the political situation is so uncertain, it is important not to rule out in advance political and economic proposals even if at first sight, such proposals seem unlikely to be able to be put into practice. As Jean Monnet, one of the fathers of the European Common Market had said “Men take great decisions only when crisis stares them in the face.”  Just as the first steps of the European Common Market had to overcome the deep wounds of the Second World War, so in the situation of Gaza, there is a need to break strong psychological barriers with cooperative economic measures.

One possibility for socio-economic recovery of Gaza would be a trans-national economic effort that would bring together energy, knowledge and money from Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Egypt, creating conditions which would facilitate the entry of other investors.

A Corporation clothed with the power of Government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.

TVA

TVA Logo: U.S. Government, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A possible model is the trans-state efforts of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of the US New Deal.  The TVA was a path-making measure to overcome the deep economic depression of the 1930s in the USA.  In May 1933, the Roosevelt administration and the Congress created the TVA.  In his message to Congress, Roosevelt suggested that the Authority should be a: 

“corporation clothed with the power of Government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.  It should be charged with the broadest duty of planning for the proper use, conservation and development of the natural resources of the Tennessee River drainage basin and its adjoining territory for the general social and economic welfare of the Nation…This in a true sense is a return to the spirit and vision of the pioneer.  If we are successful here, we can march on, step by step, in the development of other great natural territorial units.”

The central idea back of the TVA was that it should do many things, all connected with each other by the concrete realities of a damaged river full of damaged people.  To do all these activities well, it had to be a public corporation: public, because it served the public interest and a corporation rather than a government department, so that it could initiate the flexible responsible management of a well-run private corporation. 

Tennessee Valley Authority TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Picture: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World:

“The great triumph of the TVA was not the building of the great dams.  Great dams had been built before. Its greatest triumph was that it not only taught the Valley people but insisted on learning from them too.  It placed its vast technical knowledge in the pot with the human wisdom, the local experience, the courage, and the hopes of the Valley people, and sought solutions which neither the Valley folk nor the TVA technicians could ever have found alone.  It respected persons.”

Only a New Deal is likely to break the cycle of violence and counter-violence.

The Gaza strip is not one of the great natural territorial units of the world, and respect for persons has been in short supply.  However, only a New Deal is likely to break the cycle of violence and counter-violence.  A Gaza Development Authority, an independent socio-economic corporation devoted to multi-sector and trans-national planning and administration  would be an important start in a new deal of the cards.  Such a Gaza Development Authority would obviously have Hamas members; but also persons chosen for their expertise as well as persons from community organizations.

Strong socio-economic structures are needed which can hold during periods of inevitable future tensions. A Gaza Development Authority can be a framework for such strong measures of cooperative effort.

 

Rene Wadlow, President Association of World Citizens.

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

Burma’s Crumbling Junta

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World Humanitarian Day: A Need for Common Actions.

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hungry Book Reviews

Michelle Jurkovich. Feeding the Hungry: Advocacy and Blame in…

Photo by Steve Knutson on Unsplash.

(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020, 169pp)

The Association of World Citizens has taken a lead in the promotion of a coordinated world food policy; with an emphasis on the small-scale farmer and a new awareness that humans are part of Nature;  with a special duty of care and respect for the Earth’s inter-related life-support system.   As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World (1952):

Since the hungry billion in the world community believe that we all can eat if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust that some die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live.”

The plan for a World Food Board.

  Sir John Boyd Orr;  the first Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); had proposed a World Food Board to stabilize food prices and supplies.  The plan for a world food board was rejected following the lead of the US delegate;  who said “Governments are unlikely to place large funds needed for financing such a plan in the hands of an international agency over whose operations and price policy they would have little direct control” (1) Boyd Orr resigned when the food board proposal was not accepted by government representatives; and then devoted much of his energy to the world citizen movement.

World Citizen Josué de Castro;  who served as the independent Chairman of the FAO Council;  was a leader in calling attention to world hunger;  and for the need for strong governmental action to provide food security;  and highlighted the need to combine a world; a national, and a local approach to the fight against hunger.

The Green Revolution.

However  from the start;  the FAO and government agricultural ministries put an emphasis on technical aspects of greater food production: better seeds, appropriate fertilizers; “the Green Revolution”. There was also a growing realization of cultural factors: the division of labor between women and men in agriculture and rural development, the marketing of local food products, the role of small farmers, land-holding patterns and the role of landless agricultural labor.

As Jurkovich points out; there has been a growing emphasis on the right to food. Typical of this approach is the General Comment 12;  on the Right to Adequate Food of the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

The Covenant clearly requires that each State party take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that everyone is free from hunger and as soon as possible can enjoy the right to adequate food.  This will require the adoption of a national strategy to ensure food and nutrition security for all, based on human rights principles that define the objectives, and the formulation of policies and corresponding benchmarks.”  (2)

Humanity’s Freedom From Hunger.

Non-governmental organizations have played a vital role in efforts to ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger. NGOs have been active both at the national level and in some of the world conferences organized by the FAO;  such as the 1996 World Food Summit.  As then FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in his talk;  United Against Hunger:

Responding properly to the hunger problem requires urgent, resolute and concerted action by all relevant actors at all levels.  It calls for the need for all of us to be united. It underlines that achieving food security is not the responsibility of one single party; it is the responsibility of ll of us.” 

NGOs have also highlighted the specific problems of indigenous peoples, landless peasants, and the forced evictions of small farmers.

 

A Mother’s Milk Substitute.

What is new in Michelle Jurkovich’s approach is asking can one pinpoint blame for violations on the right to adequate food. In dealing with the violations of political rights NGOs;  such as Amnesty International are able to analyze who is responsible;  and to whom one should appeal to change the situation: the Minister of Justice, the director of a prison, the chief of a local police.  The violation is generally fairly clear;  and one can find the names of the higher up in the chain of command.  With food issues;  it is more difficult.  There is often no agreement on who is responsible for a situation;  and to whom to appeal.

There are exceptions.  A major effort developed;  in part from the Graduate Institute of Development Studies in Geneva;  where I was teaching. It was the International Baby Food Action Network;  that stressed breastfeeding  as against milk substitutes and baby food;  largely produced by Nestlé.  Nestlé had a widely used poster of a woman dressed in white;  (who could be taken as a medical worker);  advocating a mother’s milk substitute. Thus;  it was decided to direct a boycott of Nestlé products.  The advantage in the effort was that all the major decision-makers – Nestlé;  the World Health Organization (WHO) and the boycott organizers were around Lake Geneva.  The aim was to get a WHO Code on marketing and to get Nestlé to change its policies.

The “Big Ten” transnational Food.

The effort took 10 years;  with strong opposition to a code within WHO;  led by the USA, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany and a few other conservative allies.  Wanting to maintain “consensus” and remove fears of financial consequences for WHO;  which depends largely on contributions from governments in addition to the regular budget;  WHO Secretariat members were not going to push for a code.  Finally a general and watered-down Code was finally set by the WHO.

Such victories are few.  There are few cases where a product is concentrated in only one company;  where blame can be centered on a common target. There are at least the “Big Ten” transnational food  and beverage companies.  Of course;  these companies are not the only ones responsible for hunger in the world.  Governments are primarily responsible for agricultural policies.  For NGOs wanting to influence governments;  there are varied understandings of the cause, responsibility, blame and solutions.  Jurkovich gives no set answers;  but she raises useful questions. A book worth reading closely.

Notes.

1) For an analysis of Boyd Orr’s proposal see Ross Tabot The Four World Food Agencies in Rome (Ames: Iowa State University  Press, 1990, 188pp.)

Also see the memoirs of a later FAO Director General B.R. Sen. Towards a Newer World (Dublin: Tycooly Publishing, 1982, 341pp.)

2) UNCESCR General Comment 12, UN Doc. ECOSOC E/C12/1999/5.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.