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Category: Global Democracy & Governance

Anyone Who Cares About Human Rights Should Support R2P


Among the core functional norms of the international political system, a responsibility to protect the individual has been conspicuously lacking. From the apathetic response of the global community to mass murders to the acceptance of “collateral damage” as an everyday cost of war, the value of human life is permanently and consistently rated as less important than the preservation and advancement of state sovereignty.  Movements attempting to enshrine this concept of a “responsibility to protect,” often shortened to R2P, have been started since the turn of the century, determined to ensure genocide like that seen in Rwanda is never allowed to happen again.

A 2001 report by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, a body formed partly in response to the Rwandan genocide, stated a need for the “internationalization of the human conscience.” In short, the geopolitical intentions of nation-states should not be given priority over the safety and well being of people. The report laid out a chain of responsibility.  (1) A state is responsible for the well being of all its inhabitants. (2) If it should fail in this duty, the international community had a right and responsibility to intervene to protect its residents.  At the 2005 World Summit, all 191 member states of the UN voted to adopt the R2P principle and agreed to hold one another responsible should they fail to live up to the nature of the agreement.

Olympic Truce: Time for NGO Efforts regarding Korea

Olympic Rings On Map of World

The holding of the Winter Olympics in  South Korea from 9 to 25 February followed by the Paralympics 9 to 18 March may be an an opportunity to undertake negotiations in good faith to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to establish, or re-establish, forms of cooperation between the two Korean governments.

Such negotiations in good faith would be in the spirit of what is known as the "Olympics Truce".  Truce in classic Greek meant a "laying down of arms". A truce was usually announced before and during the Olympic Games to ensure that the host city was not attacked and athletes and spectators could travel safely to the Games and return to their homes.

In 1924, Winter Olympics  were added to the Summer Olympics which had been revived earlier in an effort to re-establish the spirit of the Classic Greek games.  At the 2000 Sydney games at the opening ceremony, South and North Korean delegations walked for the first time together under the same flag.  Today, with greater tensions, there needs to be more than symbolic gestures. There needs to be real government-led negotiations to reduce tensions.  In addition to the two Korean States, the USA, China, Russia, and Japan are "actors" in the Korean "drama"

Do Sanctions Work?

Mattis thanks Vietnam for supporting NK sanctions Jan 2018

Recently, the Trump Administration announced increased sanctions on travel to Cuba.  However, Cuba is not the only country to have sanctions leveled against it by the United States.  Other countries in the same situation include: Syria, Iran, Russia and North Korea to name just a few.[1]  Sanctions offer the US and other like-minded countries and economic unions, such as the EU, a way to alter another country or group’s way of operating that stops short of war while maintaining some bite.  The United States, particularly after 9/11, has been the biggest proponent and user of sanctions in the world.  The practice has become so ubiquitous in fact that even local governments have leveled sanctions. 

Are all these sanctions actually doing anything though?  Some experts would say yes and point to specific examples including preventing banks from hiding money for the North Korean regime or to the downfall of Charles Taylor in Liberia.[2]  (Some people would even argue that all sanctions are effective compared to complete inaction, although that seems like an especially weak argument.)  Despite these sentiments however, in many if not most other instances, sanctions seem to have had little impact. 

Joseph E Schwartzberg -- CGS Lifetime Achievement Award

Joseph E Schwartzberg -- CGS Lifetime Achievement Award

Dear Professor Joe,

 You have received so many much-deserved honors, including being named “Distinguished International Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota,” how can Citizens for Global Solutions add to that?  For decades you have taught important courses and have been recognized for that.  For many years you have also done significant work in seeking solutions to the Kashmir conflict.  You have authored many professional articles and books, including being the editor and principal author of the Historical Atlas of South Asia, which in 1980 won the Watumull Prize of the American Historical Association.  In 1984 you were presented the annual award of the American Association of Geographers.  What a life!

​Father Finn's Manifesto: America First

Blog Author Fr Ben Urmston, SJ in Bellarmine Chapel on the campus of Xavier University
Citizens for Global Solutions aims to move our world toward a just, democratic, and war-free global community.  To make the necessary modifications in the existing external structures to reach that goal, it is necessary to pay attention also to internal values like openness and cooperation.
Attending to the manifesto of Father Francis J. Finn, SJ (1859-1928), could help promote the values that would lead us all in the right direction.  During his life he was principal of a grade school, an assistant pastor, and author of 27 novels for young people.  Those children’s stories have heroes who display strong spiritual values, leadership, and breadth of interests.
His manifesto posted on the wall of his office at a grade school in Cincinnati reads as follows:
Not merely in matters material, but in things of the spirit.
Not merely in science, inventions, motors, and skyscrapers, but also in ideals, principles, character.
Not merely in the calm assertion of rights, but in the glad assumption of duties.
Not flaunting her strength as a giant, but bending in helpfulness over a sick and wounded world like a Good Samaritan.
Not in splendid isolation, but in courageous cooperation.
Not in pride, arrogance, and disdain of other races and peoples, but in sympathy, love, and understanding.
And so, in that spirit and with these hopes, I say with all my heart and soul, “AMERICA FIRST."

Ruth Hecht Zinar 1920-2017

Image from Ruth's CGS Brochure
In late October we lost our dear Ruth when she expired after a short illness.
Ruth’s parents emigrated from Russia and settled in Brooklyn, where Ruth was born and grew up. Like nearly everyone of her generation she was effected by the Great Depression and World War II. She supported the United World Federalists from its inception. 
Ruth made her way through life as a pianist and music educator, gaining a PhD in musicology and retiring as a full professor of music at the City University of New York.
She was dedicated to public education and believed in community and strong public institutions including the community of the world, the UN, and world federation.
Married and mother to a son and daughter, Ruth enjoyed three grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. She was dedicated to family, to her synagogue, to music education, and to CGS.
In her long years of retirement she voluntarily taught music to elementary school classes and played piano two hours per day right up until her final month when she fell seriously ill.
Ruth’s true essence shown through during her final visit to the emergency room. She was distressed, confused and speech-impared, likely the result of stroke. Nevertheless, she evoked her hero, Eleanor Roosevelt, as she implored her doctors to tell everyone she wished for a better world and for people to come together for the common good.
We will miss Ruth Zinar, a stalwart world federalist who participated creatively and with considerable energy and insight in CGS conference calls as late as the month before her death.

The Current and Future Prospects of the African Union

The African Continent on Planet Earth

The African Union usually does not receive the attention it deserves.  Media coverage of the organization has been minimal, despite what has arguably been a very significant year for it. This began with the peaceful resolution of a disputed election in the Gambia followed by the reintegration of Morocco into the bloc. With that latter occurrence the entire continent, excluding those regions governed by overseas powers, is now a part of the organization for the first time since its foundation in 2002. Furthermore, ongoing reforms aimed at promoting democracy are changing the organization's image from one that historically has been associated with dictators to one that is spearheading democratic change on the continent.

Free Week for Viewing Film "The World Is My Country"

"The World is My Country"

The new film, The World Is My Country, will be available, free, on-line, in a special password-protected site for Citizens for Global Solutions – but just for one week, Friday, January 26 through Thursday, February 1. You’ll be able to share the CGS password with others, so they can see the inspiring story of Garry Davis, “World Citizen #1”. I strongly encourage you to at minimum view the film and to share this communication about it.

“The World Is My Country” is the story of a young song and dance man who enters World War II as a bomber pilot. His experiences caused him to rethink the notion of war as a means to solve problems. Garry Davis is that man, and he tells his story in person at age 90. The film features rare footage of events like the opening sessions of the United Nations in Paris in 1948, and the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than half of the film is devoted to addressing the idea of solutions which are open and usable by ordinary citizens.

In the fall of 2012, I showed a very early draft of the film to a dozen high school students in St. Paul – I wanted to see how they’d react to a story told by a 90 year old man, about his adventures which began more than 50 years before they were born. It was there that I observed that this story would attract and keep the interest of young people. “The World Is My Country” is a permanent demonstration to today’s and future generations that citizens can and do make a difference.  Young people need to look to the future.  They need to see this film and then discuss with others about what it means to them and their future.

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.