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Category: Global Democracy & Governance

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

European Reform and Trump’s First United Nations Speech: What are the Implications?

European Reform in the time of Trump

Europe is at a crucial point in its history, and in the last few weeks certain significant developments have emerged.  Separately, they make for interesting political developments.   Combined, they have substantial geo-political implications.

In a recent speech, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker, outlined a series of ambitious reforms for the European Union. They called for significant integration, even going so far as to propose the selection of a single European President and the election of European Union Ministers of Finance and Economy. Should these reforms come to pass, they could lead to the emergence of a stronger, more unified E.U. Their prospects do not look particularly bleak when one considers that alongside the reform-minded president Macron of France, Junker is also working with the intrinsically pro-European Chancellor Merkel of Germany, who recently won another four-year term. It is worth noting that where some may find ill omens in the electoral gains of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AFD) in the recent election, at 12.6% they only managed to gain a similar share of the popular vote to that which the UKIP got in the 2015 British General Election and less than half of that possessed by the current German opposition party.  Merkel is now likely in power for another four years, so she is in a strong position to help facilitate Junker’s reforms. The adoption of his reforms would be a significant step towards the creation of a federated Europe. By itself this would prove momentous, but it also comes at a crucial time in international politics.

World Citizenship Is More Popular Than You Might Think

Students at Peace Bell for International Peace Day

Has nationalism captured the hearts and minds of the world’s people?

It certainly seems to have emerged as a powerful force in recent years.  Trumpeting their alleged national superiority and hatred of foreigners, political parties on the far right have made their biggest political advances since the 1930s.  After the far right’s startling success, in June 2016, in getting a majority of British voters to endorse Brexit―British withdrawal from the European Union (EU)―even mainstream conservative parties began to adopt a chauvinist approach.  Using her Conservative Party conference to rally support for leaving the EU, British Prime Minister Theresa May declared contemptuously: “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.”

The tilt toward an aggressive nationalism was particularly evident in the United States, where Donald Trump―amid chants of “USA, USA” from his fervent supporters―promised to “make America great again” by building a wall to block Mexicans, barring the entry of Muslims to the United States, and expanding U.S. military might.  Following his surprise election victory, Trump told a rally in December 2016:  “There is no global anthem.  No global currency.  No certificate of global citizenship.  We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag.”  After wild cheering from the crowd, he added:  “From now on it is going to be:  America First.  Okay?  America first.  We’re going to put ourselves first.”

The World's Largest Lesson

World's Largest Lesson

In 2015, the world community decided upon 17 Sustainable Development Goals, themselves containing 169 separate targets. These goals range from elimination of poverty to tackling climate change, but they all share a common intention; by the time they are completed, ideally in 2030, the world will be fairer, cleaner, and more sustainable than ever before.

To try and raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, the “World’s Largest Lesson” campaign was launched, with the intent of educating all about what the Goals seek to achieve, and how we can help. Providing resources and advice to teachers and pupils alike, it aims to facilitate participation at all levels. By doing so, they hope to create the sort of grass roots support that has in the past affected real change, and can do so again in the future. We know this sort of movement is possible, and we know the things it can achieve. As such, I encourage all who are interested to visit the website of the “World’s Largest Lesson”, at: http://worldslargestlesson.globalgoals.org/

Join the 2017 Global Week of Action for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, Oct 20-30: Demand Global Democracy

World Parliament Now

This year please join citizens from around the world in demanding the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) to bring global democracy to discussion of global concern.  The UNPA will inject fresh ideas in UN debates by bringing together democratically elected leaders to address issues that concern citizens worldwide. It will add an important democratic dimension to UN governance and contribute to developing a robust transnational democratic culture. 

You can be a part of this. Vocalizing your support locally is the first step in having our voices heard globally.  Click here to learn where some of the local events in support of the Global Week of Action are taking place.  

You can do something as simple as signing the petition to include your voice in the count of global citizens supporting this idea.  Or you can organize a simple local event that captures a photograph of like-minded people holding a "World Parliament Now" sign.  Or you can check out this link for other ideas for events to do in your local area.