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John B. Anderson 1922-2017, President of the World Federalist Association 1991-2003

John Anderson in 1997 from WFA Historical Survey

Being asked to write John ’s obituary for the Citizens for Global Solutions website is a great honor.  His death is very personal to me.  His last voicemail message, captured on my phone, is a small treasure that never fails to lift my spirits. That still booming resonance, the shear tonal power of John Anderson’s voice was strong even in his mid-nineties. Driven by a fearless and brilliantly-insightful intellect, uncompromising moral values, and a stark honesty, the thunderous sound of John’s voice was mated with superb oratorial skills. His profound speaking moved audiences far and wide, including his colleagues in the US Congress.  

The many current news articles about John focus mostly on his life up until 1980 when he ran for president, but report relatively little of the 37 years to follow. I met him in 1991after Norman Cousins died and John took over as president of the World Federalist Association. We worked together until 2003, when the WFA merged with the Campaign for UN Reform and the position of president was eliminated. Most of my fellow world federalists knew John in the context of his service to a vision of a world that would be truly “postwar,” a vision he carried to the end of his long life. 

John was a lawyer, a professor of international law.  He saw the just rule of law as a means by which the problem of war would be solved in a global society.  He saw the potential of American leadership to leverage its superpower authority to bring about a democratic federal republic of the world, where every nation would have both protection from invasion and a responsibility to uphold the security of all other nations. 

The Disintegrating Donbass. Is there a future for a con-federal Ukraine?

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine

The flight on 23 November 2017 of Igor Plotinitsky, President of the separatist Ukrainian area of the Lugansk People's Republic is a sign of the continuing difficulties of developing appropriate forms of constitutional government in the Ukraine.  Plotinitsky was in open conflict with his "Minister of the Interior" Igor Konet whom he had fired but who refused to give up his position.  It is reported that military troops are moving from Donetsk, the other People's Republic of the Donbass, and perhaps other troops from Russia but without signs of identification.

Much of the fate of the two Donbass People's Republics is in the hands of President Putin, but he is unwilling to take public responsibility.  Some have argued that two people's republics in Donbass is one too many and that the two republics will be unified under the leadership of President Alexandre Zakhartchenko of Donetsk.  Meanwhile the Ukrainian government has reinforced its troops on the frontier with the separatist zone.

Officially the Donbass is under an agreement signed in Minsk on 12 February 2015 among Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine acting under a mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  The agreement called for a ceasefire, local elections, a reintegration into the State of Ukraine but with constitutional reforms giving greater local autonomy.  In practice, the Minsk accords have never been carried out.

How Miss Peru Contestants Shined the Spotlight on Femicide

Latin America, Peru, Human Rights, women's rights, Violence Against Women

Picture this: Gorgeous women dressed in sequin gowns line up on stage. One by one, they step up to the microphone and introduce themselves.  

“My name is Camila Canicoba, and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country,” says the first.

“My name is Karen Cueto, and I represent Lima and my measurements are 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year,” says the second.

No, this isn’t a UN Women gala. It’s the 2017 Miss Peru pageant. In a surprising twist, the 23 contestants broke the tradition of revealing their measurements (bust, waist, and hip) to announce far more important numbers: the statistics on violence against women in their homeland.

The numbers are easy to gloss over. (How many more women die in car crashes each year, you might ask.) True, statistics can come across as meaningless without the stories behind them, which is why the faces of battered women flashed behind the contestants as they spoke. But they didn’t end there. Each woman finished by answering the following: which law would they change to end violence against women?

Latin America's 'Woman' Problem

Pageant organizer Jessica Newton’s brilliant idea put women’s rights center stage and turned an old fashioned competition into a moment of solidarity. But why in Peru? And why now?

CGS 2017 National Convention in St Louis, MO

CGS 2017 National Convention, St Louis, MO

The 2017 national convention of Citizens for Global Solutions in St. Louis October 20-22 marked a new focus in its efforts to bring about a democratically governed world.  "Just Security 2020:  Citizen Action for an Effective and Inclusive UN" was the theme of the convention.  The featured speaker, Dr. Richard Ponzio, Director of the Just Security 2020 Program at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, explained how broad institutional reforms at the UN are designed to culminate in a 2020 summit on the UN's 75th anniversary.  The specific recommendations of the Albright-Gambari Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance can be found on the CGS website http://globalsolutions.org/issues/commission-global-security-justice-governance

David Lionel used videos in an interactive session to encourage discussion about what local groups can do to raise awareness of the Just Security 2020 effort and how to educate them about its specific recommendations.  The challenge is to find ways of generating local enthusiasm for this project for global justice and knowing how to bring other non-governmental organizations into a collaborative effort.

The World Federalist Institute's Friday meeting began with a report via Skype with Andreas Bummel in Germany about how a UN Parliamentary Assembly is needed to make the UN more democratic.  After that, the first topic discussed was what WFI's role should be in CGS in emphasizing global governance messaging and outreach.  The next topic was why WFI should be promoting a UN Parliamentary Assembly and how to do that.  The third topic was how WFI could and should promote World Federation Education and how such education is critical for the kind of social change we want to implement.

Why is Deforestation a Problem?

An old-growth tree in the Nkula Forest, Democratic Republic of Congo

Deforestation is defined as “the action or process of clearing of forests” by the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Currently, 30% of the world is covered by trees, but with the current rate of deforestation across the globe, the world’s rainforests could completely vanish in just one hundred years.

Deforestation is mainly caused by humans, with most of it being caused by agriculture and logging. In order to plant more crops and create room for grazing livestock, some farmers participate in a process called slash and burn agriculture (the process of burning and cutting down trees to support agriculture). Due to the Earth’s dramatically increasing population size, more food is needed, resulting in forests being destroyed to create room for agriculture. Additionally, logging operations (some of which are illegal) are cutting trees to provide the world with paper and wood, but they are also cutting trees to create more living space for people.

What are the effects of deforestation?

The Nobel Peace Prize and the Legacy of Nuclear Pacifists

Nuclear blast

In 2017, the Nobel Committee chose to award their prestigious Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, continuing a legacy of such awards.  This is the 9th time the award has been granted to a group working on this topic. It once again raises the discussion on the role and influence of nuclear weapons on our global society.

Nuclear weapons are, undoubtedly, a contentious topic. While some view them as an unjustifiable threat to the very existence of humanity, others would argue that their presence prevented the Cold War from ever developing into an outright conventional war, potentially saving millions of lives. This outlook changed somewhat following the end of the Cold War, and a great deal of nuclear disarmament occurred. In the doing so it allowed for a shift in the discussion surrounding them.  In the minds of many nuclear weapons went from an indispensable threat against the perceived enemy to a redundant legacy of a bygone era.

However, in our current political climate of rising international tensions we are seeing a regression in the discourse surrounding nuclear weapons. Both American and Russian leaders have in recent years expressed an interest in modernizing and upgrading their nuclear arsenal, and North Korea looks set to gain the dubious distinction of becoming the newest nuclear armed state. It is this context that makes the Nobel Committee’s decision so very important.  Even in the face of a great many international threats, we cannot forget the dangers nuclear weapons pose to us all. The normalization of nuclear proliferation almost destroyed us once; we cannot allow it to happen again.

How Catalonia and Kurdish Independence Can Actually Bring the World Closer Together

Symbol for Kurds' desire for independence with flag of Caledonia made into a heart.

Recently two separate countries dealt with succession movements from within.  First was Iraq where Kurds, emboldened by their recent battlefield success against ISIS, formally voted for independence.[1]  This referendum would essentially solidify the current situation in the country where Kurds have long held autonomous power in the region known as “Kurdistan."  The other country battling a secessionist movement is Spain.  In their case, Catalonia, a wealthy province in the northeast part of Spain, is attempting to break free in order to more fully embrace its own culture and to avoid paying taxes to prop up poorer parts of the country.[2]

These two movements share far more than just a desire for independence.  In both cases the desire to achieve independence traces at least some of its roots to history.  In the case of the Kurds, they have been a marginalized ethnic group in Northern Iraq for decades and were also the targets of ethnic cleansing by former Dictator Saddam Hussein.  For Catalonians, it stems back to the Spanish Civil war when that region served as a center of resistance to Franco’s Fascist regime in Madrid and thus was the focus of his animosity.

Should Limiting North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions Be the Responsibility of the U.S. Government?

Flight Might

In recent months, advances in the North Korean government’s nuclear weapons program have led to a sharp confrontation between the government leaders of the United States and of North Korea. This August, President Donald Trump declared that any more threats from North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” In turn, Kim Jong Un remarked that he was now contemplating firing nuclear missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam. Heightening the dispute, Trump told the United Nations in mid-September that, if the United States was forced to defend itself or its allies, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” Soon thereafter, Trump embellished this with a tweet declaring that North Korea “won’t be around much longer.”

Yemen: Effective Humanitarian Aid Depends on a Peace Accord

United Nations Yemen Observation Mission (UNYOM)

The United Nations together with the governments of Sweden and Switzerland which have often led humanitarian issues in the U.N. system held a high-level pledging conference in Geneva on 25 April 2017 to again draw attention to the deepening humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen, currently the largest food security emergency in the world.  Some 60% of the population is in a food-insecure situation.

More than 3.5 million people have been displaced in the cycle of escalating violence.  "We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation. We must act now, to save lives" said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who presided over the conference. Realistically, he stressed that funding and humanitarian aid alone will not reverse the fortunes of the millions of people impacted.  Diplomatically, he called for a cessation of hostilities and a political settlement with talks facilitated by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General, the Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Chekh Ahmed.

UN officials and most diplomats are reluctant to call the armed conflict by its real name: "a war of aggression".  The aggression of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates) against Yemen began on 24 March 2015.  The Saudi-led coalition is helped with arms and "intelligence" by the USA and the UK which appreciate Saudi money for arms and do not want to antagonize a large segment of the Arab world when the conflicts of Syria-Iraq-Kurds-Turkey is still "on the table."

Global Week of Action for UN Parliamentary Assembly: #HumanityFirst

World Parliament Now

America first. Russia first. China first.

The United States of America puts American interests first. Just as every other nation in the world puts its own interests first. President Donald Trump was right about that in his first speech before the United Nations, on Sept. 19. Few world leaders have so nakedly expressed the essence of the Westphalian state system, established by treaty in 1648, and under which every human being dwells today.

“As president of the United States,” Trump said, “I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always, and should always, put your countries first.” This is controversial? Every undergraduate learns this on the first day of International Relations 101. It is the first principle of the realpolitik practiced by Henry Kissinger, Winston Churchill and Otto von Bismarck.

Virtually every other American president has made the same point. President Barack Obama, expressing his conception of larger interests during his final speech before the United Nations in 2016, returned in the end to his own primary obligation—and that of his counterparts. “Sometimes I’m criticized in my own country for professing a belief in international norms and multilateral institutions. But I am convinced that in the long run, giving up some freedom of action — not giving up our ability to protect ourselves or pursue our core interests, but binding ourselves to international rules over the long term — enhances our security. And I think that’s not just true for us.”