Tag: <span>the Nobel Peace Prize</span>

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.


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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Albert Luthuli Book Reviews

Robert Trent Vinson. Albert Luthuli.

Featured Picture: JRamatsui, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

(Athens, OH:  Ohio University Press, 2018)

As Robert Vinson highlights “When Albert Luthuli;  president of the African National Congress (ANC).  South Africa’s leading anti apartheid organization;  became the first African-born recipe ant of the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1961;  the world celebrated his advocacy of nonviolent civil disobedience.  The prize signaled international recognition for his Gandhian strategy to end apartheid;  South Africa’s disastrous white supremist political policy of racial subordination;  and separation and connected South Africa’s antiapartheid struggle to the growing global human rights campaigns. 

It propelled Luthuli to global celebrity and raised the profile of the ANC;  which he had led since 1952. The ANC would survive lethal state repression in the late 1960s;   and throughout two ensuing decades.  As a mass organization, it articulated a broad;  inclusive African nationalism and led the Congress Alliance, a multiracial; milti-ideological antiapartheid coalition that shared Luthuli’s vision of a nonracial, democratic, equitable South Africa.

Albert Lutuli

Albert Luthuli: Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A  Vision of Universal Love and Christian-Based Activism.

Both Albert Luthuli and Martin Luther King shared a vision of universal love and Christian-based activism;  against the moral evil of racism. Yet for both men;  there were followers for whom nonviolence  was a technique that could be set aside;  if violence produced better or faster results. On the night of 13 December;  1961 as Luthuli and his wife returned to South Africa after his Nobel address;  a new formation of ANC members created a new group;  Spear of the Nation;  set off explosive charges that marked the start of what for some became an armed struggle.

Albert Luthuli (1898 – 1967 );  was the son of a Protestant minister;  but who died when Albert was six months old.  He was brought up by the family of his mother;  which held responsible position in the Christian Zulu milieu.  He did his higher studies to become a teacher and a trainer of teachers. He was active in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA);  and made life-long friends in the Christian activist milieu.

A Positive Model of Multiracial Democracy.

In 1948;  the unexpected victory of the National Party made apartheid official state policy.  In June 1948;  Luthuli traveled to the United States for seven months;  speaking to churches, civic groups and others.  He returned to South Africa;  hoping that African Americans would triumph over segregation laws;  and that the U.S.  would become a positive model of multiracial democracy.  

Luthuli  became a national political figure during the 1952;  Defiance Campaign based on Gandhi’s active nonviolence.  Yet escalating State violence marked the 1950s.  Younger militants willing to consider armed “self-defense” surged to the fore.

By the mod-1960s;  the balance between a nonviolent strategy and a willingness to use force;  had shifted in favor of the use of violence.  However;  on 25 February 1990;  two weeks after his liberty was restored;  Nelson Mandela addresses a mass rally in Durban;  hoping to stem the rising tide of violence between the ANC  supporters;  and the rival Inkatha Freedom Party led by Mangosu Buthelazi. Speaking of a united South Africa;  Mandela invoked Lutjuli’s prophetic words:

I personally believe that here in South Africa with our own diversities of color and race, we will show the world a new pattern for democracy.”

It is important today to recall the quality of Luthuli’s leadership;  his services to the disposseded  and his collaborative leadership style.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Republic of Congo Appeals

Democratic Republic of Congo — Need for Reconciliation Bridge-Builders.

Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash

On bridges are stated the limits in tons

of the loads they can bear.

But I’ve never yet found one that can bear more

than we do. Although we are not made of roman freestone,

nor of steel, nor of concrete.

From “Bridges” – Ondra Lysohorsky

Translated from the Lachian by Davis Gill.

The killing on 22 February 2021 near Goma in Eastern Congo of the Italian Ambassador to the Congo has highlighted the continuing insecurity of the area and the need for renewed efforts at peacebuilding. The Ambassador of Italy, Luca Attanasio, was part of a two-car convoy of the U.N. World Food Program to visit a school meal program run by the Program which has recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The convoy was fired upon by a group of six individuals. The Ambassador and one of the drivers were killed.

At this stage, it is not known which of some 45 armed groups in the area carried out the attack and if the convoy was attacked because it was of the United Nations or if any two-car convoy would hve been attacked in the hope of looting the contents.  While the U.N. Secretary-General has called for an  investigation, an investigation is unlikely to be able to say more than that the whole area is unstable and that more than U.N. or Congolese grovernment troops are necessary to bring stability.

Armed Violence Continues.

Despite a new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo who promised to tackle poverty at its roots, armed violence continues.  Felix Tshisekedi, son of the late, long-time opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, put an end to the 18-year rule of Joseph Kabila.  However, in a number of provinces of the country, especially the east, armed violence continues between the army and different tribal-based militias.  In some area, war lords battle among themselves.

The United Nations has some 20:,000 peacemakers in Congo (MONUC), the UN’s  most numerous peacekeeping mission, but their capacity is stretched to the limit.  While MONUC has proven effective at securing peace in the Ituri district in north-eastern Congo, it has been much less successful in the two Kivu provinces.

The eastern area of Congo is the scene of fighting at least since 1998 — in part as a result of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994.  In mid-1994, more than one million Rwandan Hutu refugees poured into the Kivu provinces, fleeing the advance of the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front, now become the government of Rwanda.  Many of these Hutu were still armed, among them, the “genocidaire” who a couple of months before had led the killings of some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda.  They continued to kill Tutsi living in the Congo, many of whom had migrated there in the 18th century.

Techniques of Conflict Resolution.

The people in eastern Congo have lived together for many centuries and had developed techniques of conflict resolution, especially between the two chief agricultural lifestyles: that of agriculture and cattle herding.  However, the influx of a large number of Hutu, local political considerations, a desire to control the wealth of the area — rich in gold, tin and tropical timber — all these factors have overburdened the local techniques of conflict resolution and have opened the door to new, negative forces interested only in making money and gaining political power.

UN peace-keeping troops are effective when there is peace to keep.  What is required today in eastern Congo and in certain other parts of the country is not so much more soldiers under UN command, than reconciliation bridge-builders, persons who are able to restore relations among the ethnic groups of the area.  The United Nations, national governments, and non-governmental organizations need to develop bridge-building teams who can help to strengthen local efforts at conflict resolution and re-establishing community relations.  In the Kivu provinces, many of the problems arise from land tenure issues.  With the large number of people displaced and villages destroyed, it may be necessary to review completely land tenure and land use issues.

The Importance of Decentralization and Con-Federal Forms of Government.

The Association of World Citizens has stressed the need in States deeply divided on geographic and ethnic lines such as the Democratic Republic of Congo  to manage diversity as a strength rather than as a weakness..  There is often a tendency for leaders of States divided on ethnic lines to “over-centralize” the Administration in the hope of creating “national unity”.  In practice, such efforts at centralized government lead to some areas and some groups to feel marginalized or excluded.  In such cases armed violence seems to be the fastest  way to receive attention and to get “a share of the economic pie.”  Thus, the Association of World Citizens has stressed the importance of decentralization and con-federal forms of government as an alternative to the creation of new independent states which is often the first demand of marginalized areas.

World citizens were among those in the early 1950s who stressed the need to create UN peace-keeping forces with soldiers especially trained for such a task.  Today, a new type of world civil servant is needed — those who in areas of tension and conflict can undertake the slow but important task of restoring confidence among peoples in conflict, establishing contacts and looking for ways to build upon common interests.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

4 June: Memories of Tiananmen Square.

4 June makes the security forces in China somewhat uneasy, especially in Hong Kong where, in the past, there were large memorial meetings tp remind people of 4 June 1989…

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