Tag: <span>Universal Declaration of Human Rights</span>

H.G. Wells Portraits of World Citizens.

H.G. Wells and Human Rights.

Featured Image: Portrait of Herbert George Wells by George Charles Beresford. Black and white glossy print. 150 mm x 108 mm (1920). By George Charles Beresford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
2023 will see a year-long effort leading to 10 December 2023, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The effort carries the title:
 

“Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All”. 

 
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Image: 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.

 
Thus, it is usefil to look at some of the intellectual preperations both within the League of Nations and among individual thinkers for the Universal Declaration.  One of the most widely read was that of Herbert George Wells “Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the World Citizen” which is found in his book
 

“Phoenix: A Summary of the Inescapable Conditions of World Organization” published in 1942. 

 
The Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the World Citizen had been translated into 10 languages and sent to 300 editors of newspapers in 48 countries.
 
    H.G. Wells from the 1930s on was concerned with the ways the world should be organized with a world organization stronger than the League of Nations.  Such a world organization should be backed up and urged on by a strong body of public opinion linked together world-wide by the unifying  bond of a common code of human rights and duties.
 
    At the end of the First World War, H.G. Wells was a strong advocate of the League of Nations, but as time went on, he became aware of its weaknesses.  He wrote in 1939:
 

” The League of Nations, we can all admit now, was a poor and ineffective outcome of that revolutionary proposal to banish armed conflict from the world and inaugurate a new life for mankind… Does this League of Nations contain within it the gem of any permanent federation of human effort?  Will it grow into something for which men will be ready to work for and, if necessary, fight – as hither to they have been willing to fight for their country and their own people?  There are few intimations of any such enthusiasm for the League at the present time.  The League does not even seem to know how to talk to the common man.  It has gone into official buildings, and comparatively few people in the world understand or care what it is doing there.”

 
  League of Nations
 Image: 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.

 
Thus, there was a need for a clear statement of world values that could be understood by most and that would be a common statement of the aspiration on which to build a new freedom and a new dignity.  Wells had a strong faith in international public opinion when it was not afraid to express new and radical thoughts that cut across the conventional wisdom of the day.  He wrote in 1943:
 

“Behind the short-sighted governments that divide and mismanage human affairs, a real force for world unity and order exists and grows.”

 
    Wells hoped that the “Declaration of the Rights of the World Citizen” would become the fundamental law for mankind through the whole world – a true code of basic rights and duties which set out the acceptable shape of a just world society.
 
    Therefore wells set out 10 rights which combined civil liberties already common to many democratic states with economic and social rights; which were often considered as aspirations but not as rights.
Thus among the 10 rights we find the Right to Participate in Government, Freedom of Thought and Worship, the Right to Knowledge, Freedom from Violence including Torture, along with the Right to Education, the Right to Medical Care, the Right to Work with Legitimate Remuneration, the Protection of Minors, Freedon of Movement about the Earth.
 
    The drafters of the U.N. Charter in 1945 included a pledge by member states:
 

“To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small.” 

 
Much of the debate from 1946 when the U.N. Commission on Human Rights was created until December 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed concerned the relative place of civil liberties and of economic, social, and cultural rights.
 
    However while the text of H.G. Wells is largely forgotten today, he had the vision of the strong link between freedom of thought bsed on civil liberties and the need for economic dignity set out in the economic, social, and cultural rights.
 
H.G. Wells
Image: Portrait of Herbert George Wells by George Charles Beresford. Black and white glossy print. 150 mm x 108 mm (1920). By George Charles Beresford, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

H.G. Wells: The Open Conspiracy for Peace.

 
   René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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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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Hugo Grotius Rapprochement of Cultures.

Hugo Grotius: The Law of States.

Portrait of the Dutch lawyer and statesman Hugo de Groot, also known as Hugo Grotius. By Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

Hugo Grotius (10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645) whose birth anniversary we mark on 10 April played a crucial role in the development of the Law of States, in particular through two books written in Latin Mare Librium (Liberty of the Seas) 1609 and De Jure Belli ac Pacis (Law in War and Peace) 1625) Grotius is a key figure in the transition between the older feudal period and the important role of city-states and the development of a state system.

Grotius showed his intellectual talents early in life and was considered a youthful genius. At 17 in 1601 he published Adamus Exul (The Exile of Adam). In the drama, Satan is sharply critical of God’s grand design and is jealous of Adam being prepared to share in it having done nothing to bringing it about. Grotius’ Eve is a lovely, loving and enchanting partner, but is bored and ready for an apple. John Milton; who met Grotius in Paris and read Adam Exul there used many of the same themes in his Paradise Lost.

Hugo Grotius was Protestant and also wrote on religious subjects. However, he was caught up in intra-Protestant theological disputes in what is today Holland. Due to these theological tensions, he lived most of his life in Paris – 1621 to 1644 – where he served as the Ambassador of the Court of Sweden, a Protestant country. He was well thought of by the French King Louis XIll and Cardinal Richelieu, the power behind the King.

John Milton

Portrait of John Milton in National Portrait Gallery, London. By National Portrait Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Law concerning states to an emphasis on law with the focus on the individual citizen.

As the feudal period was ending, laws had to be formulated so that relations among states were not to be based only on material strength. Just as Hugo Grotius was writing at a time of a historic shift from the structures of the feudal period to the creation of states, so today there is a shift from international law in which the focus is on law concerning states to an emphasis on law with the focus on the individual citizen. Just as feudal structures and city-states did not disappear, so today, states are still present but there is a shift in focus. Today, we have an increase in multi-state entities such as the European Union, the African Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the one hand and multinational corporations and individuals on the other.

The shift to the law of the person grew from the lawlessness of states during the Second World War. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights created a new focus, and it has been followed by the two International Covenants on Human Rights and then the Convention against Torture, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Human Rights Declaration

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.

You might read: Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

We must put people at the center of everything we do.

The system of monitoring, investigation and reporting set up by the United Nations human rights bodies are important avenues to focus upon individuals. As then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said “No shift in the way we think or act can be more critical than this: we must put people at the center of everything we do.” The U.N.’s influence is derived not from power but from the values it represents, its role in helping to set and sustain global norms, its ability to stimulate global concern and action, and the trust inspired by its ability to improve the lives of people.

U.N. efforts to extend international law to the practice of trans-national corporations have not acquired the momentum that the focus on the rights and obligations of individuals has done. However, there is a growing emphasis on what is increasingly called “civil society”. The civil society that has emerged and evolved around the U.N. spans a wide range of interests, expertise and competencies. While there are U.N. structures for dealing with non-governmental organizations which are granted consultative status, there is no equivalent structure for dealing with trans-national corporations although some have real influence on the policies of governments and the lives of people.

Today, there is a need to increase the rule of law within the world society. We need individuals with the vision and dedication of Hugo Grotius.

Kofi Annan

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.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Conscience and Belief Education of World Citizenships.

Upholding Freedom of Conscience and Belief.

Featured Image: Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

 
25 November is the date anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly resolution in 1981 to proclaim the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The Declaration is a development of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlighting freedom or thought, conscience, religion or belief. The 1981 Declaration is now recognized as articulating the fundamental right of freedom of conscience, religion, and belief.
 
The efforts for such a U.N. declaration began in 1962. Two conventions were proposed by African States, many of whom had joined the U.N. after their 1960 independence. One convention was to deal with racism. Since racism in the minds of many delegates was largely limited to apartheid in South Africa, work on a racism convention progressed quickly and was adopted in 1965. Freedom of religion was more complex. The effort was led by Liberia, but ran into East-West Cold War devisions. Work on a convention was largely completed by 1967 when the Six Day War in the Middle East broke out, making religious issues all the more sensitive at the U.N.
 
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.

you might be interested on Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law.

Thought, Conscience, Religion or Belief.

 
One issue was that there was no agreed upon definition as to what is “religion”, thus the longer term used of “thought, conscience, religion or belief”.
 
Work was still slow. Thus, it was decided to change the proposal from a “Convention” which is a treaty which must be ratified by the parliament of the Member State to a “Declaration” which can be voted by the U.N. General Assembly.
 
The second modification was to change the declaration from a positive one – “freedom of religion or belief” to a negative one “elimination of intolerance and discrimination” based on religion or belief.
Work on the Declaration had begun at the U.N. in New York. When the human rights bodies of the U.N. moved in 1977 to Geneva, a working group on the Declaration was set up in which representatives on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Association of World Citizens, were particularly active. By the summer of 1981, the drafting of the Declaration was complete. The text was sent on to the delegates in New York and was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on 25 November 1981.
 
General AsemblyBasil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
After 1981, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (become since the Human Rights Council) created the post of Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion in 1985. The post continues today. The Declaration has given NGOs an agreed upon standard to which to hold governments. The 1981 Declaration cannot be implemented by U.N. bodies alone. Beginning with the shift of the U.N. human rights secretariat to Geneva and the closer cooperation with NGO representatives, the role of NGOs is more often written into U.N. human rights resolutions, calling on NGO cooperation, education and fact-finding.
 
Thus in the 1981 Declaration there is a paragraph which:
 

“requests the Secretary-General in this context to invite interested non-governmental organizations to consider what further role they could envisage playing in the implementation of the Declaration.”

 
Thus, the Association of World Citizens has continued to play an active role in the U.N. human rights bodies when the right of belief and conscience has been under attack in different parts of the world. Our policy has been to take a lead when a community under pressure was not part of an NGO in consultative status with representatives in Geneva who could speak for them.
 
In practice, the World Council of Churches speaks for Protestant and to a lesser degree for the Orthodox Churches. The Vatican, which is considered a State, participates actively in human rights bodies and speaks for Roman Catholic churches. Thus, the Association of World Citizens has, in recent years, raised the issues of the Mandaeans, also known as Sabian Mandaeans, in Iraq, the Yazidi in Iraq and Syria, the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar (Burma), the Baha’i in Yemen after having raised starting in 1980 the persecution of the Baha’i in Iran.
 
Religion

The Falun Gong.

 
Starting in 1985, there being no active Buddhist organization active at the U.N. in Geneva at the time, we raised the condition of religious liberty of the Tibetans in Tibet. This was followed by presentations of the fate of the Falun Gong movement in China. They are basically Taoist but consider themselves as a separate movement or belief. There was no Taoist NGO at the U.N. that I knew of.
 
There is a worldwide erosion of the freedom of belief and conscience in many parts of the world causing large-scale suffering, grave injustice, and refugee flows. Belief and conscience are efforts on the part of individuals and communities to understand and to seek to live in harmony with the laws of Nature and often to communicate their understanding and devotion to others.
 
The anniversary date of 25 November should be an opportunity to consider how to strengthen freedom of conscience and belief.
 
The Falun Gong
 Falun Gong members exercise in Sydney, 2021. By Kgbo, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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World Citizenship Education of World Citizenships.

Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship.

Featured Image: Photo by  Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.

The Association of World Citizens Promotes Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship.
Rene Wadlow
.

The Association of World Citizens stresses that our oneness with humanity and our acceptance of the whole planet as our home involves a process of change both in the attitudes of individuals and in the policies of States.

Humanity is clearly moving towards participation in the emerging World Society. An awareness of the emerging World Society and preparation for full and active participation in the emerging World Society is a necessary element of education at all levels, from primary schools, through university and adult education.

The Association of World Citizenship stresses that a World Citizens is one: 

  • Aware of the wider world and has a sense of his role as a world citizen;
  •  respects and values diversity;
  •  has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally;
  •  is outraged by social injustice;
  •  is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place;
  •  participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global.

The Association of World Citizens believes that World Citizenship is based on rights, responsibility and action.

The rights and freedoms are set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. These UN-sponsored human rights treaties are the basis of world law which deals directly with individuals and not just with States.

In most cases, there are procedures that exist for the redress of violations of these rights at the national, regional, and UN levels. These rights should enable all persons to participate effectively in national, regional and the world society.

The idea of responsibility has been often discussed within the United Nations, but it has been impossible to set out agreed-upon obligations. Rather, a sense of responsibility toward the Planet and toward others is left to the individual’s conscience and moral sense. Nevertheless, a sense of responsibility, an ethical concern for social justice, and the dignity of humanity is central to the values of a world citizen.

Action is at the heart of the attitude of a vibrant world citizen.

Action must be based on three pillars: knowledge, Analysis and Skills.

Knowledge:

Background knowledge, a sense of modern history, of world trends, and issues of ecologically-sound development is fundamental. As one can never know everything about issues that require action, one needs to know where to find information and to evaluate its quality for the actions one wants to undertake.

Analysis:

It is important to be able to analyse current trends and events, to place events in their context, to understand the power relations expressed in an event. One needs to try to understand if an event is a “one-time only” occurrence or if it is part of a series, an on-going process, if it is a local event or if it is likely to happen in other parts of the world as well.

Analysis is closely related to motivation. If from one’s analysis, one sees a possibility for creative action alone or with others, one will often act. If from analysis, it seems that little can be done as an individual, then one can urge a government to act. The degree of personal involvement will usually depend on the results of the analysis of a situation.

Skills:

Political skills are needed to make an effective world citizen. A wide range of skills is useful such as negotiation, lobbying, networking, campaigning, letter writing, communications technology and preparing for demonstrations. These are all essential skills to join with others for a strong world citizen voice in world politics. Some of these skills can be taught by those having more experience, for experience is the best teacher. It is by networking to new individuals and groups that one learns the potentials and limits of networking.

In our period of rapid social and political change, the past cannot provide an accurate guide to the future. Anticipation and adaptability, foresight and flexibility, innovation and intuition, become increasingly essential tools for creative political action.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Human Rights UN: Growth of World Law.

Human Rights: The Foundation of World Law

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.

The General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.
Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In human history, there have been periods when there is a collective response to new challenges; and thus new ways of organizing thought and society. All do not respond at the same speed nor in the same way. Those who have power and wealth due to the old structures are often reluctant to change. Thus, today, some government leaders still see the world in older structural terms – as a collection of relatively independent and autonomous nation-states – a guiding social framework which had served humanity well for several hundred years after the end of the European feudal wars. Yet now, that nation-state framework is not adequate.

Declaration of the Essential Rights of Man.

We already live in a world society bound through communications and economy to a common destiny. Thus there is a need for a universalistic ethic, one that englobes all of humanity. A foundation of this universalistic ethic is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly meeting in Paris, December 1948. As early as the 1945 San Francisco Conference to draft the UN Charter, a proposal to embody a ‘Declaration of the Essential Rights of Man’ was put forward, but it was shelved because it required more detailed consideration than was possible at that time.

Within the framework of the rights set out in the Universal Declaration, there has been a steady growth of world law with human rights conventions and treaty bodies that monitor their application. Among the most important of these conventions are the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Jawaharlal Nehru at the UN General Assembly, New York, 1948. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Universal World Citizen.

Human rights are universal because the subject of human rights is the universal world citizen and not the political citizen as defined by state citizenship. Human rights inaugurate a new kind of citizenship, the citizenship of humanity. Human rights gives people the sense that world law belongs to them.

In order to affirm these human rights, there has been a dynamic growth of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dealing with human rights, a growth involving the expansion of established organizations as well as the birth of many new organizations. NGOs have become indispensable to the human rights movement through their characteristic activities: monitoring, investigation and reporting, lobbying national governments and the UN, educating the public and coming to the defense of individuals when dealing with courts or intergovernmental bodies.

As Javier Perez de Cuellar, then UN Secretary-General, has said:

“Our age which has often been so cruel, can now pride itself on having witnessed the birth of a universal human rights movement. In all walks of life, brave individuals are standing up for their brothers who have been reduced to silence by oppression or poverty. Their struggle has transcended all frontiers, and their weapon is knowledge. Defending human rights today means above all bringing the most secret crimes to light. It means trying to find out and daring to speak out with complete objectivity, something which requires courage and occasionally, even heroism…The United Nations is cognizant that for human rights to be more fully recognized and respected, the awareness and support of all are required.”

Arrival at Schiphol of UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar. By Rob Bogaerts / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thus NGOs such as the Association of World Citizens are on the frontlines of building a new world society based on human rights.

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

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United Nations UN: Growth of World Law.

The United Nations as One

Featured Image: Photo by Brandi Alexandra on Unsplash.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

” The outer message of the United Nations is peace.
The inner message is Oneness.
Peace – we strive to structure;
Oneness – we manifest.”

Dag Hammarshjold has written that the United Nations was:

“the beginning of an organic process through which the diversity of peoples and their governments are struggling to find common ground upon which they can live together in the one world which has been thrust upon us before we were ready.”

Basically, the function of the UN is to create consensus (being of one mind) on crucial world issues. Such consensus-building is slow, and it is done by repeating endlessly in resolutions of the General Assembly and other UN bodies, year after year, the same idea until it becomes common place. Slowly national governments align their policies upon this common core as non-governmental organizations and the media take up the issues – sometimes a little ahead of governments and sometimes only later.

Dag Hammarskjöld (1950s). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.

In 60 years, there have been six issues which have moved from the stage of the ideas of a few to become common policy. This evens out to an idea per decade, and the UN has tried to push “theme decades” with only limited success as we see from the current “UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.”

I see the six ideas as follows:

  • 1. The end of direct colonialism. There grew from the start of the UN until the mid-1960s the idea that colonial administration had ended its usefulness as a form of government. The end of colonialism owes much to the UN system, though, of course, inequality and domination, the signs of colonial status, have not been overcome.

  • 2. Apartheid as a bad structure for South Africa and for other countries tempted by similar structures of racial division was a theme of many resolutions and speeches. Slowly, the image of a multi-racial and multi-cultural society took hold, encouraged by enlightened leadership at the national level.

  • 3. There are basic human rights and these should be respected. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the Preamble to the UN Charter are the two lasting documents of the UN and stand as the guide for common action.

  • 4. Closely related to the idea of human rights but needing a special effort at consensus building is the idea that women are equal to men and should be so treated. Although the idea is obvious, both the UN and national governments have found it difficult to put into place.

  • 5. The ecological balance of the world is in danger and needs remedial action. The ecological efforts of the UN began in 1971 and are enshrined in the “Covenant with Nature” – a text of equal importance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although not as well known.

  • 6. There should be a Palestinian state. From the 1947 partition plan to today, this idea has been repeated. There is a broad consensus, but such a state has not been created. Without the constant discussion in the UN, the Israel-Palestine tensions would have become a bilateral issue of interest to few other states, as the issue of Kashmir, created at the same time, has faded from the UN stage to become an India-Pakistan issue.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948. By UN, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There is now a seventh idea, increasingly articulated but not yet manifested in action.

  • The idea is that there is a relationship between the goals of the UN – an idea often stressed by Kofi Annan during his period as Secretary-General: the need to accept or acknowledge the indivisible links between security, development, and human rights. “It is clear that security cannot be enjoyed without development, that development cannot be enjoyed without security, and neither can be enjoyed without respect for human rights.”

Many of us as NGO representatives have tried to push other ideas within the UN system, especially disarmament and improved techniques of conflict resolution, without success. Today, the UN has little impact on issues of violence, but no other organization does either.

Thus we have violence and a good number of tension areas where greater violence may break out. Violence-reduction is probably the chief task facing the new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. There is little common ground on what can be done to reduce violence and settle conflicts peacefully. We must not underestimate the time and difficulty that it takes to build consensus within the UN, but I believe that violence-reduction (sometimes called peace) is the next “big idea” whose time has come to the UN.

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

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