The Global Citizen
Category: Commission on Global Security, Justice, & Governance
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
One of the unintended consequences of people fleeing their homelands as a result of conflict, terrorism, famine, and political and religious persecution has been an increase in right-wing nationalism and an anti-immigrant populist uprising as witnessed by the recent “Brexit” vote in Great Britain.
From France to Germany, Italy and Austria; from the Netherlands to Hungary and Greece, a wave of nationalistic leaders has taken center stage across the continent of Europe seeking to capitalize on the anti-refugee bias.
We in the United States have witnessed political rhetoric that feeds on the fears of the populace – real or imagined. Despite passage of the American SAFE Act in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris, some seek to completely bar Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., fearing that refugees are posing as terrorists. The vetting process is extremely stringent, as it should be, but it is wrong to assume all refugees mean us harm.
Each year on June 20th the world comes together to mark World Refugee Day. Beginning in 2001 it is a time to commemorate the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. The U.N. estimates that 65 million people have been displaced as a consequence of ongoing regional hostilities. This is the largest number ever to be reported by the U.N.
To place this figure into some perspective, consider this: one in every 113 people is now a refugee, asylum-seeker or internally displaced. Furthermore, in 2015 24 people had to flee their homeland every minute due to conflict or persecution, according to the U.N.’s Global Trends 2015 report submitted by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
This essay is a revised and updated version of the cover story for the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of DISARMAMENT TIMES, the journal of the United Nations NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security.
"Does the United Nations Still Matter?" It often seems so irrelevant to the problems of the modern age that those words appeared last year on the front page of The New Republic magazine. More than seven decades after the UN's invention in 1945, our multiple planetary crises seem dramatically different from those confronting the generation that emerged from the rubble of the Second World War. Isn’t it time to devise architectures of global governance intended not to avoid the mistakes of the 1930s, but focused instead on the intertwined predicaments of our own 21st Century?
A New Global Governance Commission
If so, we have a new guide to start the journey. It’s the report from the “Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance,” co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former UN Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari. The name they chose reflects the inescapable links the Commission sees among those three variables. Their report elaborately makes the case that we can’t have security anywhere without justice, or justice anywhere without security. And it asserts that nothing could do more to provide both security and justice to much of humanity than smart 21st Century innovations in global governance.
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