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Category: Commission on Global Security, Justice, & Governance

Brexit and the Future of the E.U.

Brexit

The initial news of Brexit was greeted with dismay by a majority of people with a liberal internationalist outlook, myself included. Most saw it as a serious setback for the European Union (E.U.), with some even hailing it as the beginning of the end for the bloc. However, in the aftermath of this event, we are beginning to see a different picture emerging. The immediate after effect was not a propagation of nationalist movements, but rather a reaction against them. Geert Wilder’s Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom) party failed to gain power in Denmark, as did Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale in France. In Germany, the previously expanding Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) experienced a precipitous decline in popular support. This lack of proliferation of nationalism is an encouraging sign, and the E.U. has not, as some may have feared or indeed hoped, experienced any similar shocks since Brexit.

Declaration of Peace

Earth as seen from outer space.

These are self-evident truths:

That all humans are a single family living on a fragile and endangered planet whose life support systems must  remain intact if we are to survive;

That the well-being of the planet and the well-being of humanity are one and the same;

That the well-being of each requires the well-being of all—security is common;

That all humans have a natural right to peace and a healthy planet;

That all war is a crime against humanity and nature;

That any war anywhere degrades the quality of life for all of us everywhere;

That we live at the decisive moment in history when we will choose between break down or breakthrough on a planetary scale;

That we here now dedicate our intellectual, spiritual and material resources to the establishment of permanent peace and the conservation of nature, and,

That we are fully endowed by our Creator with the wisdom and the ability to achieve these ends.

Ben Ferencz: a life dedicated to “world peace through world law”

Defendants during the Nuremberg Trials
 “60 MINUTES” on Sunday evenings is a very popular weekly TV news programs.  The second segment of the May 7, 2017 program focused on Ben Ferencz, a prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.  In those trials Nazi leaders were convicted for the killing of millions of Jews and others in what became known as "the Holocaust.”  Fortunately you can see Leslie Stahl’s wonderful interview of Ben again and again at  <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-the-last-nuremberg-prosecutor-alive-wants-the-world-to-know/>.
 
An important part of the interview comes near the end when Ferencz clearly makes the point that war turns generally good people into murderers.  His goal during much of his 97 years has been to end war by means of the use of law.   The disaster of wars exists because the world of nation-states with unlimited national sovereignty still lacks a system of law and government at the global level.
 

Syria: Chemical Weapon Use, Destruction of Children, The Ethical Vacuum

Syrian children in a doorway (UN photo)

The Association of World Citizens calls for the re-affirmation of humanitarian international law. It is a call to the soldiers and militia members in armed conflicts to refuse orders to violate humanitarian international law by refusing to use weapons outlawed by international treaties such as chemical weapons, land mines,  cluster munitions or any weapon to attack civilians, especially children and women. We must defend all who use their individual conscience to refuse to follow orders to violate humanitarian international law.

At the heart of this growing phenomenon of mass violence and social disintegration is a crisis of values.  Perhaps the most fundamental loss a society can suffer is the collapse of its own value system.  Many societies exposed to protracted conflicts have seen their community values radically undermined if not shattered altogether.  This has given rise to an ethical vacuum, a setting in which international standards are ignored with impunity and where local value systems have lost their sway.  Olara Otunnu, then Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Report to U.N. General Assembly, 1998

The attack on Khan Sheikhoon in Idib Province of Syria on 4 April 2017 raises at least two essential issues concerning humanitarian international law and the protection of children in times of armed conflict.

There is No Need for War in Syria

Lucy Law Webster

Ever since President Obama drew a red line to prevent further use of poison gas by Bashar al-Assad to murder Syrian citizens, I have advocated action to enforce the treaty against the use of such weapons.  The U.S. Congress refused to review and endorse Obama's call for action because Russia and other supporters of Assad said they would remove the remaining poison gas from Syria and take it to Russia. However, they did not actually fulfill this commitment. This lack of action was wrong, morally and legally.

Now, we can move forward—carefully.  Let us take creative notice of the fact that Russia and Iran have been acting as the protectors of the use of poison gas.  Let us state that clearly.  Let us, the United States of America, stand for international law and justice for people worldwide.  Let us continue to mend relationships with Arab leaders who also support law and justice.  Let us continue our efforts to defeat ISIS and its violence against the people of Syria, Iraq and other nations, but let us note that this is above all a war of ideas.  It is basically a war for human rights and a struggle for a peaceful world.

​Why Not 'A Global Anthem,' Donald Trump? Who Does 'Represent the World,' Steve Bannon?

Flags of the United Nations Member States (Photo courtesy of UN)

In his speeches before both CPAC and the U.S. Congress, President Trump described with pinpoint accuracy the sovereign state system of today. But might we see a global anthem tomorrow, and a world flag, and even a United Earth?  This posting is a short version of Tad’s longer article posted on AlterNet on March 10, 2017.  Click here to read his full article and join in the discussion taking place there.

“We will serve the citizens of the United States of America, believe me,” said President Donald Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 24th. “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag.” Four days later, in his first speech before a joint session of Congress, he continued, “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”

But someday, is it possible that people around the world might actually sing a global anthem together? And hoist a global flag? And dwell together as citizens of a United Earth?

Our world grows smaller and more interconnected every day. No grand historical development is more defining of the modern age. Can we imagine the same feelings of camaraderie, kindred spiritedness, and tribal solidarity about our single human community? Can our loyalty to the world as a whole — as it does for many for one’s nation -- make our blood rush a little more quickly through our veins? Might our allegiance to our nations be accompanied by an allegiance to humanity?

​Robert Muller (11 Mar 1923 – 20 Sep 2010): Crossing Frontiers for Reconciliation

Robert Muller (1923-2010). Personal photo from Association of World Citizens
“The time has come for the implementation of a spiritual vision of the world’s affairs. The entire planet must elevate itself into the spiritual, cosmic throbbing of the universe.”— Robert Muller
Robert Muller, whose birth anniversary we mark on 11 March, was the former Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Service of the United Nations, and, after his retirement, he served as Honorary President of the Association of World Citizens. He was brought up in Alsace-Lorraine still marked by the results of the First World War.   As a young man, he joined the French Resistance movement during the Second World War when Alsace-Lorraine had been re-annexed by Germany. At the end of the War, he earned a Doctorate in Law and Economics at the University of Strasbourg. Strasbourg was to become the city symbolic of French-German reconciliation and is today home of the European Parliament.

Determined to work for peace having seen the destructive impact of war, he joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1948 where he worked primarily on economic and social issues. For many years, he was the Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. His work with ECOSOC brought him into close contact with NGOs whose work he always encouraged

Obama's Legacy

President Obama Voting in a US Election

Discussions of Obama's legacy are often too narrow.  They focus on specific policies that were adopted or not adopted.  They don't pay enough attention to what Obama himself said at his January 10 valedictory speech in Chicago.  When the audience began shouting "No, no, no, no, no" as he mentioned the coming change in the White House, Obama responded with a statement that displays his wisdom and his understanding of the important role of the United States in world history, namely that one of our nation's great strengths "is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next."

We have constructed a large and prosperous democratic nation that decides who should have ultimate political power in our country for the next few years on the basis of elections rather than fighting violent military battles.   In a democracy groups with opposing views and interests realize that the results of an election can be reversed in the next election and the next and the next.  Violence is not necessary.

In a stable democracy there is no one winner-take-all for the foreseeable future.  The rulers for the moment can be changed in the next election.  Progress toward an ideal community can be made gradually and even with steps forward and back.

We had our very destructive Civil War (1861-1865) to determine that we would preserve the democratic federal Union.  For a century and a half after that our country has experienced the wonderful benefits of a united democratic federal government that determines its rulers by elections instead of wars and is governed by law and courts rather than destructive military battles.  Obama realizes that, and his whole life as well as his presidency has been guided by it.

Maine Chapter of CGS Supports the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Shirley Davis at the CGS Maine Chapter Table supporting the UNPA

The Global Week of Action for a UN Parliamentary Assembly runs until Oct 30, 2016, but there is nothing magic about that date.  CGS encourages actions in support of this important idea before, during and after the official Global Week of Action. 

On the afternoon of September 17, 2016, the Maine Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions had a table and map display in support of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA).  We did this in conjunction with many other organizations participating in the End Violence Together program in downtown Bangor, Maine.  Our banner in support of UNPA was suspended from a table.  We displayed a world map on an easel that demonstrated areas in the world where action has already taken place in support of this goal.  

The Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly is a global network of parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations, scholars, and dedicated citizens that advocates democratic representation of the world's citizens at the United Nations. A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, UNPA, for the first time would give elected citizen representatives, not only states, a direct and influential role in global policy.

Institutions that have expressed support include numerous civil society organizations, parliaments, international parliamentary assemblies and party networks. For instance, the Pan-African Parliament, the European Parliament, and the Latin-American Parliament have adopted resolutions ñ as have the Socialist International, the Liberal International, or the Green World Congress.  1466 members of parliaments from 120 countries endorse the campaign.

Letters to Jake Series, Letter #9

Jake with his twin sisters Annette and Clair on the 4th of July

Dear Jake,

I love the attached picture of you and the twins all dressed for this year’s 4th of July celebration!  Our 4th of July holiday honors the signing of the “Declaration of Independence” which put forth our belief that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Of course with three sisters you realize that in today’s world “men” doesn’t only apply to men but to all people !!  Annette, Clair and baby Grace won’t let you forget that.

There is another part of American history that I like to acknowledge and celebrate—the idea of moving from a confederation of states, which the US was after our war of independence, to a federation of states which we are now.  When the United States agreed to federate, the states agreed to stop solving their disagreements on the battlefield and instead take them to court.  The “rule of law” is an important part of how all Americans are allowed to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I would like to take these same principles of federation and the “rule of law” and apply them now across the nations of the world.  It is very possible for the nations of the world to come together to solve their disagreement in court instead of in war.  The US has proved that this approach works and is a better way to protect the rights of all people on earth.