Tag: <span>UN General Assembly</span>

Genocide Convention UN: Growth of World Law.

Genocide Convention: 9 December 1948.

Featured Image: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Genocide Convention: 9 December 1948.
An Unused but not Forgotten Standard of World Law.

Genocide is the most extreme consequence of racial discrimination and ethnic hatred. Genocide has as its aim the destruction, wholly or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such. The term was proposed by the legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, drawing on the Greek genos (people or tribe) and the Latin cide (to kill).(1) The policies and war crimes of the Nazi German government were foremost on the minds of those who drafted the Genocide Convention, but the policy was not limited to the Nazi. (2)

The Genocide Convention is a landmark in the efforts to develop a system of universally accepted standards which promote an equitable world order for all members of the human family to live in dignity. Four articles are at the heart of this Convention and are here quoted in full to understand the process of implementation proposed by the Association of World Citizens, especially of the need for an improved early warning system.

Article I

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • (a) Killing members of the group;
  • (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Unlike most humanitarian international law which sets out standards but does not establish punishment, Article III sets out that the following acts shall be punishable:

  • (a) Genocide;
  • (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
  • (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
  • (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
  • (e) Complicity in genocide.

Article IV

Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

Article VIII

Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III.

Numerous reports have reached the Secretariat of the United Nations of actual, or potential, situations of genocide: mass killings; cases of slavery and slavery-like practices, in many instances with a strong racial, ethnic and religious connotation – with children as the main victims, in the sense of article II (b) and (c). Despite factual evidence of these genocides and mass killings as in Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and in other places, no Contracting Party to the Genocide Convention has called for any action under article VIII of the Convention.

As Mr Nicodene Ruhashyankiko of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities wrote in his study of proposed mechanisms for the study of information on genocide and genocidal practices “A number of allegations of genocide have been made since the adoption of the 1948 Convention. In the absence of a prompt investigation of these allegations by an impartial body, it has not been possible to determine whether they were well-founded. Either they have given rise to sterile controversy or, because of the political circumstances, nothing further has been heard about them.”

Yet the need for speedy preventive measures has been repeatedly underlined by United Nations Officials. On 8 December 1998, in his address at UNESCO, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said:

“Many thought, no doubt, that the horrors of the Second World War – the camps, the cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust – could not happen again. And yet they have, in Cambodia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, In Rwanda. Our time – this decade even – has shown us that man’s capacity for evil knows no limits. Genocide – the destruction of an entire people on the basis of ethnic or national origins – is now a word of our time, too, a stark and haunting reminder of why our vigilance must be eternal.”

Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan spoke with the media at the United Nations Office at Geneva following the June 30, 2012 Meeting of the Action Group for Syria. By US Mission in Geneva, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In her address Translating words into action to the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1998, the then High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, declared :

” The international community’s record in responding to, let alone preventing, gross human rights abuses does not give grounds for encouragement. Genocide is the most flagrant abuse of human rights imaginable. Genocide was vivid in the minds of those who framed the Universal Declaration, working as they did in the aftermath of the Second World War. The slogan then was ‘never again’. Yet genocide and mass killing have happened again – and have happened before the eyes of us all – in Rwanda, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and other parts of the globe.”

We need to heed the early warning signs of genocide. Officially-directed massacres of civilians of whatever numbers cannot be tolerated, for the organizers of genocide must not believe that more widespread killing will be ignored. Yet killing is not the only warning sign. The Convention drafters, recalling the radio addresses of Hitler and the constant flow of words and images, set out as punishable acts “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”.

Mary Robinson (2014). By Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Genocide Convention

The Genocide Convention, in its provisions concerning public incitement, sets the limits of political discourse. It is well documented that public incitement – whether by Governments or certain non-governmental actors, including political movements – to discriminate against, to separate forcibly, to deport or physically eliminate large categories of the population of a given State, or the population of a State in its entirety, just because they belong to certain racial, ethnic or religious groups, sooner or later leads to war. It is also evident that, at the present time, in a globalized world, even local conflicts have a direct impact on international peace and security in general.

Therefore, the Genocide Convention is also a constant reminder of the need to moderate political discourse, especially constant and repeated accusations against a religious, ethnic and social category of persons. Had this been done in Rwanda, with regard to the radio Mille Collines, perhaps that premeditated and announced genocide could have been avoided or mitigated.

For the United Nations to be effective in the prevention of genocide, there needs to be an authoritative body which can investigate and monitor a situation well in advance of the outbreak of violence. As has been noted, any Party to the Genocide Convention (and most States are Parties) can bring evidence to the UN Security Council, but none has. In the light of repeated failures and due to pressure from non-governmental organizations, the Secretary-General has named an individual advisor on genocide to the UN Secretariat. However, he is one advisor among many, and there is no public access to the information that he may receive.

Direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Therefore, a relevant existing body must be strengthened to be able to deal with the first signs of tensions, especially ‘direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” The Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) created to monitor the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination would be the appropriate body to strengthen, especially by increasing its resources and the number of UN Secretariat members which service the CERD. Through its urgent procedures mechanisms, CERD has the possibility of taking early-warning measures aimed at preventing existing strife from escalating into conflicts, and to respond to problems requiring immediate attention. A stronger CERD more able to investigate fully situations should mark the world’s commitment to the high standards of world law set out in the Genocide Convention.

Notes

1) Raphael Lemkin. Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for World Peace, 1944).
2) For a good overview see: Samantha Power. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002)
3) E/CN.4/Sub.2/1778/416 Para 614

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Albert Camus Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Camus : Stoic Humanist and World Citizen.

Featured Image: Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner. By Photograph by United Press International, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

Albert Camus (7 Nov  1913-  4 Jan 1960) would be 108 years old,  had he lived beyond the car crash,  which took his life in 1960 as he and another editor from the Paris publishing house, Gallimard;  were driving too fast from a Christmas vacation in the south of France toward Paris. 

Camus;  who had been the youngest writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957;  had chaired the committee of support for Garry Davis’ world citizen efforts in Paris;  and had contributed his writing skills to the statement;  which Garry Davis and Robert Sarrazac read,  when interrupting a session of the UN General Assembly meeting in Paris in 1948 in aplea for the UN to promote world citizenship.

A month later the UN General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  which many saw as a reply to Garry Davis’ request as the Declaration sets the basis for world law directly of benefit to each individual.

The Stranger.

Albert Camus in 1948;  was still a highly regarded editorial writer for Combat;  which had begun life as a clandestine newspaper in 1941;  when France was partly occupied by the Nazi troops, and half of France was under the control of the anti-democratic regime of Vichy.

Although the Germans occupied Paris;  they allowed publishing, theatre and films to continue if the German censors found nothing too overtly oppositional in them. Thus, Camus’ novel  L’Etranger (The Stranger) was published in 1942 by the leading publisher, Gallimard. 

This short novel is written in a style which owes something to the early style of Hemingway.  L’Etranger is a cry of revolt against man-made standards of absolute morality — a theme he develops more fully in his political-philosophical book on the use of violence L’Homme révolté (1951) translated as The Rebel. (2). As he said in his acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Stockholm

 

“the nobility of our calling will always be rooted in two commitments: refusal to lie about what we know and resistance to oppression.”

 

Citizens of The World.

Albert Camus was born in Algeria;  the son of a French father killed in the First World War;  when he was only one and an illiterate Spanish mother;  who raised him while working as a cleaning woman.  Camus was intellectually stimulated by his father’s brother;  who read books of philosophy and was active in the local Masonic lodge. Camus’ intelligence was spotted by a secondary school teacher;  who helped him get a scholarship to the University of Algiers;  where he studied history and philosophy, writing a master’s thesis comparing the Gnostic ideas of Plotinius and the Christian ideas of St. Augustine.

Camus was faithful to his Mediterranean roots, and his thinking is largely that of the classic Greek and Roman Stoics, the first to call themselves “citizens of the world.”

Camus is the champion of the “now” rather than the “later”. He is critical of Christian thought;  which he interprets as “putting up with the injustice of the now in order to be rewarded in heaven later” along the lines of the satirical song based on a Salvation Army hymn “there will be pie in the sky by and by”.  He was particularly opposed to the “Christian” policy of Franco’s Spanish government. He had been strongly influenced by the struggle of Republican Spain and the Spanish civil war writings of André Malraux. 

The Rebel.

The same refusal to sacrifice the present for a potentially better future;  made him a strong opponent of the Stalinist Soviet Union.  For Albert Camus;  there was no difference between dying in a Soviet camp and dying in a Nazi camp. We should be neither executioners nor victims (the title of one of his most quoted essays).  It is madness to sacrifice human lives today in the pursuit of a utopian future.

Camus is perhaps more memorable as a great journalist and an editorialist than as a novelist. He had put his reputation on the line in defense of Garry Davis;  even being put in jail for a short time for having joined Davis in a street protest in front of a Paris prison;  where Davis was protesting the conviction of a young man;  who had refused military service — a man working to “satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart.”

As Albert Camus expressed his world citizen ethos at the end of The Rebel “The earth remains our first and last love.  Our brothers are breathing under the same sky as we; justice is a living thing. Now is born that strange joy which helps one live and die, and which we shall never again postpone to a later time.”

Garry Davis

Garry Davis with his World Passport (January 9, 1957). By Wim van Rossem / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes.

  1. Albert Camus.The Rebel (New York : Vintage Books, 1956, 306pp.)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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Appeals

Nonviolent Action: The Force of the Soul.

Featured Image: Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

2 October is the UN General Assembly-designated Day of Nonviolence chosen as 2 October is the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

U.N General Assembly

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

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

Passive Resistance.

Mahatma Gandhi, shortly after finishing his legal studies in England, went to South Africa and began working with Indian laborers, victims of discrimination. He looked for a term understandable to a largely English-speaking population to explain his efforts. “Passive resistance” was the most widely used term and had been used by Leo Tolstoy and others.

However, Gandhi found the word “passive” misleading. There did exist a Hindu term ahinsa − a meaning non and hinsa, violence. The term was basically unknown among White South Africans, largely uninterested in Indian philosophical thought.

Leo Tolstoy

Image: Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887). By Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy: The Law of Love.

Tune with the Infinite or Fullness of Peace Power and Plenty.

Gandhi wrote to a friend from his legal studies days in England, Edward Maitland. Maitland and Anna Kingsford were the leaders of the Esoteric Christian Union and the leaders of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society. Maitland introduced Gandhi to the writings of the American New Thought writer Ralph Waldo Trine. Trine was a New Englander and his parents named him after Emerson. His best known work from which Gandhi took the term for his actions in South Africa is In Tune with the Infinite or Fullness of Peace Power and Plenty. (1)

Edward Maitland, biographer of en:Anna Kingsford (1846–1888). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Soul Force.

Trine uses the term “soul force” which Gandhi then used for his work in South Africa. Once back in India, Gandhi wanted an Indian rather than an English expression, and he coined the term satyagraha − holding on to truth: sat as Truth in a cosmic sense is an oft-used Hindu term while “soul” would need some explaining to Indian followers.

All of Trine’s writings contained the same message: soul force could be acquired by making oneself one with God, who was immanent, through love and service to one’s fellow men. The Christ Trine followed was one familiar to Gandhi − the supreme spiritual exemplar who showed men the way to union with their divine essence. Trine promised that the true seeker, fearless and forgetful of self-interest, will be so filled with the power of God working through him that:

“as he goes here and there, he can continually send out influences of the most potent and powerful nature that will reach the uttermost parts of the world.”

For Trine, thought was the way that a person came into tune with the Infinite. “Each is building his own world. We both build from within, and we attract from without. Thought is the force with which we build, for thoughts are forces. Like builds like and like attracts like. In the degree that thought is spiritualized does it become more subtle and powerful in its workings. This spiritualizing is in accordance with law and is within the power of all.

“Everything is first worked out in the unseen before it is manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized in the real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material. The realm of the unseen is the realm of cause. The realm of the seen is the realm of effect. The nature of effect is always determined and conditioned by the nature of its cause.”

Thus for Mahatma Gandhi, before a nonviolent action or campaign, there was a long period of spiritual preparation of both himself and his close co-workers. Prayer, fasting, meditation were used in order to focus the force of the soul, to visualize a positive outcome and to develop harmlessness to those opposed.

Another theme which Trine stressed and which Gandhi constantly used in his efforts to build bridges between Hindus and Muslims was that there was a basic core common to all religions. Gandhi wrote:

“There is a golden thread that runs through every religion in the world. There is a golden thread that runs through the lives and the teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages, and saviours in the world’s history, through the lives of all men and women of truly great and lasting power. The great central fact of the universe is that the spirit of infinite life and power is back of all, manifests itself in and through all. This spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all is what I call God. I care not what term you may use, be it Kindly Light, Providence, the Over-Soul, Omnipotence or whatever term may be most convenient, so long as we are agreed in regard to the great central fact itself.”

Simone Panter-Brick - Gandhi

 Image: Gandhi spinning at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Note.

1) R.W. Trine. In Tune with the Infinite (New York: Whitecombe and Tombs, 1899, 175pp.)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

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

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Garry Davis Portraits of World Citizens.

Garry Davis: “And Now the People Have The Floor”.

Featured Image: Garry Davis by Wim van Rossem for Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Garry Davis; who died 24 July 2013, in Burlington, Vermont; was often called “World Citizen N°1”. The title was not strictly exact as the organized world citizen movement began in England in 1937 by Hugh J. Shonfield and his Commonwealth of World Citizens; followed in 1938 by the creation jointly in the USA and England of the World Citizen Association. However; it was Garry Davis in Paris in 1948-1949 who reached a wide public and popularized the term “world citizen”.

The First Wave.

Garry Davis was the start of what I call “the second wave of world citizen action”.  The first wave was in 1937-1940 as an effort to counter the narrow nationalism represented by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and militaristic Japan. This first world citizen wave of action did not prevent the Second World War; but it did highlight the need for a wider cosmopolitan vision.  Henri Bonnet; of the League of Nations’ Committee for Intellectual Co-operation; and founder of the US branch of the World Citizen Association; became an intellectual leader of the Free French Movement of De Gaulle in London; during the War.  Bonnet was a leader in the founding of UNESCO — the reason it is located in Paris — and UNESCO’s emphasis on understanding among cultures.

League of Nations

Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

The Second Wave.

The Second Wave of world citizen action in which Garry Davis was a key figure lasted from 1948 to 1950 — until the start of the war in Korea and the visible start of the Cold War; although, in reality, the Cold War began in 1945 when it became obvious that Germany and Japan would be defeated.  The victorious Great Powers began moving to solidify their positions.  The Cold War lasted from 1945 until 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union. During the 1950-1991 period; most world citizen activity was devoted to preventing a war between the USA and the USSR, working largely within other arms control/disarmament associations and not under a “world citizen flag.”

The Third Wave.

The Third Wave of world citizen action began in 1991 with the end of the Cold War and the rise again of narrow nationalist movements; as seen in the break up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.  The Association of World Citizens with its emphasis on conflict resolution, human rights, ecologically-sound development, and understanding among cultures is the moving force of this Third Wave.

The two-year Second Wave was an effort to prevent the Cold War which might have become a hot World War Three.  In 1948; the Communist Party took over Czechoslovakia; in what the West called a “coup”; more accurately a cynical manipulation of politics.  The coup was the first example of a post-1945 change in the East-West balance of power; and started speculation on other possible changes as in French Indochina or in 1950 in Korea.  1948 was also the year that the UN General Assembly was meeting in Paris.

The United Nations did not yet have a permanent headquarters in New York; so the General Assembly first met in London and later in Paris.  All eyes; especially those of the media, were fixed on the UN.  No one was sure what the UN would become; if it would be able to settle the growing political challenges or “go the way of the League of Nations”.

Un General Asembly

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

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

“Song and Dance” Actor.

Garry Davis, born in 1921; was a young Broadway actor in New York prior to the entry of the US in the World War in 1941. Garry Davis was a son of Meyer Davis; a well-known popular band leader who often performed at society balls and was well known in the New York-based entertainment world.  Thus it was fairly natural that his son would enter the entertainment world, as a “song and dance” actor in the musical comedies of those days. Garry had studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology; a leading technology institution.

When the US entered the war; Garry joined the Army Air Force and became a bomber pilot of the B-17, stationed in England with a mission to bomb targets in Germany.  Garry’s brother had been killed in the Allied invasion of Italy; and there was an aspect of revenge in bombing German military targets until he was ordered to bomb German cities in which there were civilians.

The Creation of a World Federation with powers to prevent War.

At the end of the War and back as an actor in New York; he felt a personal responsibility toward helping to create a peaceful world and became active with world federalists; who were proposing the creation of a world federation with powers to prevent war; largely based on the US experience of moving from a highly decentralized government under the Articles of Confederation, to the more centralized Federal Government structured by the Constitution.

At the time, Garry had read a popular book among federalists; The Anatomy of Peace by the Hungarian-born Emery Reves.  Reves had written:

“We must clarify principles and arrive at axiomatic definitions as to what causes war and what creates peace in human society.” If war was caused by a state-centric nationalism as Reves, who had observed closely the League of Nations, claimed, then peace requires a move away from nationalism. As Garry wrote in his autobiography My Country is the World (1) “In order to become a citizen of the entire world, to declare my prime allegiance to mankind, I would first have to renounce my United States nationality. I would secede from the old and declare the new”.

United World Citizen International Identity Card.

In May 1948, knowing that the UN General Assembly was to meet in Paris in September; and earlier the founding meeting of the international world federalists was to be held in Luxembourg, he went to Paris. There he renounced his US citizenship and gave in his passport.  However; he had no other identity credentials in a Europe where the police can stop you and demand that you provide identity papers. So he had printed a “United World Citizen International Identity Card” though the French authorities listed him as “Apatride d’origine americaine”. Paris after the War was filled with “apatride”; but there was probably no other “d’origine americaine”

Giving up US citizenship and a passport which many of the refugees in Paris would have wanted at any price was widely reported in the press and brought him many visitors.  Among the visitors was Robert Sarrazac who had been active in the French resistance and shared the same view of the destructive nature of narrow nationalism; and the need to develop a world citizen ideology.  Garry was also joined by the young Guy Marchand; who would later play an important role in structuring the world citizen movement.

Guy Marchand

Guy Marchand By Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

World Citizenship.

As the French police was not happy with people with no valid identity papers wondering around; Garry Davis moved to the large modern Palais de Chaillot  with its terraces which had become “world territory” for the duration of the UN General Assembly. He set up a tent and waited to see what the UN would do to promote world citizenship.  In the meantime; Robert Sarrazac who had many contacts from his resistance activities set up a “Conseil de Solidarite” formed of people admired for their independence of thought, not linked to a particular political party.

The Conseil was led by Albert Camus, novelist and writer for newspapers, Andre Breton, the Surrealist poet, l’Abbé Pierre and Emmanuel Mounier, editor of Esprit, both Catholics of highly independent spirits as well as Henri Roser, a Protestant minister and secretary for French-speaking countries of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Albert Camus

Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner. By Photograph by United Press International, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Albert Camus: Stoic Humanist and World Citizen.

An Interruption.

Davis and his advisors felt that world citizenship should not be left outside the General Assembly hall but had to be presented inside as a challenge to the ordinary way of doing things, “an interruption”. Thus, it was planned that Garry Davis from the visitors balcony would interrupt the UN proceedings to read a short text; Robert Sarrazac had the same speech in French, and Albert Crespey, son of a chief from Togo had his talk written out in his Togolese language.

In the break after a long Yugoslav intervention, Davis stood up.  Father Montecland, “priest by day and world citizen by night” said in a booming voice “And now the people have the floor!” Davis said “Mr Chairman and delegates: I interrupt in the name of the people of the world not represented here. Though my words may be unheeded, our common need for world law and order can no longer be disregarded.”   After this, the security guards moved in, but Robert Sarrazac on the other side of the Visitors Gallery continued in French, followed by a plea for human rights in Togolese. Later, near the end of the UN Assembly in Paris, the General Assembly adopted without an opposition vote, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which became the foundation of world citizens’ efforts to advance world law.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

The Rue du Cherche Midi.

Dr Herbert Evatt of Australia was the President of the UN General Assembly in 1948.  He was an internationalist who had worked during the San Francisco Conference creating the UN to limit the powers of the Permanent Five of the Security Council.  Evatt met with Davis a few days after the “interruption” and encouraged Davis to continue to work for world citizenship, even if disrupting UN meetings was not the best way.

Shortly after highlighting world citizenship at the UN; Garry Davis went to the support of Jean Moreau; a young French world citizen and active Catholic; who as a conscientious objector to military service, had been imprisoned in Paris as there was no law on alternative service in France at the time. Davis camped in front of the door of the military prison at the Rue du Cherche Midi in central Paris.  As Davis wrote:

“When it is clearly seen that citizens of other nations are willing to suffer for a man born in France claiming the moral right to work for and love his fellow man rather than be trained in killing him, as Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Tolstoy, St Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and other great thinkers and religious leaders have taught, the world may begin to understand that the conscience of Man itself rises above all artificially-created divisions and fears.” (2).

Herbert Evatt

Dr Herbert Evatt By Max Dupain, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Others joined Davis in camping on the street.  Garry Davis worked closely on this case with Henri Roser and Andre Trocme of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Davis was put in jail for camping on the city street and also for not having valid identification documents, but his place on the street was filled with others, including a German pacifist, an act of courage so soon after the end of the War.  It took another decade before alternative service in France was put into place, but Davis’ action had led to the issue being widely raised in France, and the link between world citizenship and non-violent action clearly drawn.

Garry Davis was never an “organizational man”.  He saw himself as a symbol in action.  After a year in France with short periods in Germany, he decided in July 1949 to return to the US. As he wrote at the time:

“I have often said that it is not my intention to head a movement or to become president of an organization. In all honesty and sincerity, I must define the limit of my abilities as being a witness to the principle of world unity, defending to the limit of my ability the Oneness of man and his immense possibilities on our planet Earth, and fighting the fears and hatreds created artificially to perpetuate narrow and obsolete divisions which lead and have always led to armed conflict.”

Perhaps by the working of karma, on the ship taking him to the USA, he met Dr. P. Natarajan, a south Indian religious teacher in the Upanishadic tradition.  Natarajan had lived in Geneva and Paris and had a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Paris.  He and Davis became close friends, and Davis spent some time in India at the center created by Natarajan who stressed the development of the inner life.  “Meditation consists of bringing all values inside yourself” was a motto of Natarajan.

It was at the home of Harry Jakobsen, a follower of Natarajan, on Schooly Mountain, New Jersey that I first met Garry Davis in the early 1950s. I was also interested in Indian philosophy, and someone put me in contact with Jakobsen. However, I had joined what was then the Student World Federalists in 1951 so I knew of the Paris adventures of Garry. We have since seen each other in Geneva, France and the US from time to time.

As well as a World Citizen.

Some world federalists and world citizens thought that his renunciation of US citizenship in 1948 confused people.  The more organization-minded world federalists preferred to stress that one can be a good citizen of a local community, a national state as well as a world citizen.   However Davis’ and my common interest in Asian thought was always a bond beyond any tactical disagreements.

Today, it is appropriate to cite the oft-used Indian image of the wave as an aspect of the one eternal ocean of energy.  Each individual is both an individual wave and at the same time part of the impersonal source from which all comes and returns.  Garry Davis as a wave has now returned to the broader ocean.  He leaves us a continuing challenge writing:

“There is vital need now for wise and practical leadership, and the symbols, useful up to a point, must now give way to the men qualified for such leadership.”

Notes.

1) Garry Davis. My Country is the World (London: Macdonald Publishers, 1962)

2) Garry Davis.Over to Pacifism:A Peace News Pamphlet (London: Peace News, 1949)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizen.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

World Policy for Migrants and Refugees.

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

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

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

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

The Spirit of the Summit.

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

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

Professor Rene Wadlow, President, Associacion of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

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

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