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Ukraine: A Federalist Future?

Can tensions in Ukraine be lowered without a federalist-constitutional restructuring of the State?

On Thursday, 17 April 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergy Lavrov, Ukraine's acting Foreign Minister Andriii Deshchytsia, and the European Union Foreign Policy representative Catherine Ashton met in Geneva for a one-day exchange to address concerns over the situation in Ukraine and to take steps to limit the growing violence within the country.

The meeting came shortly after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned in a 15 April report that “Misinformation, propaganda and incitement to hatred need be urgently countered in Ukraine to avoid the further escalation of tensions in the country...It is critical for the Government to prioritise respect for diversity, inclusivity and equal participation of all− including minorities− in Ukraine.”

Also on the eve of the Geneva talks, President Vladimir Putin said on Russian television that he had been authorized by Parliament to use military force in eastern Ukraine if necessary, but hoped that it could be avoided. The statement highlighted the possible use of Russian forces, some 40,000 of which are stationed on the Russian-Ukraine frontier.

The Russian Government has denied that the pro-Russian armed militias around occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine are under their control, begging the question of whom the men in unmarked military uniforms are working for. Turmoil, including the shooting of some of these pro-Russian demonstrators, is growing. In response, NATO forces have been strengthened in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States.

Open Letter #4 To My Grandson Jake

Crimea, Ukraine and Russia

Dear Jake,

It was great fun seeing you and the twins on Skype this weekend. Every time I see you I can tell that you are bigger, stronger and smarter than the time before. You might be a little young for a history lesson, but I know you are not too young to appreciate a map, especially a map that looks like a puzzle.

In this letter I want to address the current crisis of Ukraine, Crimea and Russia and explain that I see a better way to solve crises like this one. As is often the case in understanding the problems of the world, it is good to start with a map and a history lesson.

In this map Crimea is the little peninsula hanging below Ukraine and to the left of Russia. It has had a tumultuous history, with many different governments over the past 100 years. Two events in the past are interesting to me. (1) In 1954 the Premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, transferred Crimea from the Soviet Union to Ukraine. From the research I have done, It does not appear that the people of Crimea had any choice in this transfer; (2) In 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, 54% of the Crimean voters supported independence from Russia with a 60% turnout. Although Crimea initially claimed independence, later that year they agreed to be part of Ukraine.

Open Letter #3 To My Grandson Jake

Donna and her grandson Jake

Dear Jake,

Now you are 3 years old! It is a delight to watch you grow up and I admire the way you “keep an eye on” your twin sisters Annette and Clair. I’m so proud of the way you can put together your jigsaw puzzle map of the world all by yourself. I want to transform our world so that children everywhere can be healthy, happy, and caring towards others.

My last letter concluded with a sentence “There is much to be done to turn the United Nations into a strong, democratic, federation of nations.” I am reading a new book about this by a friend of mine, Professor Joe Schwartzberg, Professor Emeritus from the University of Minnesota. (Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World.) Joe has done a lot of work creating a comprehensive plan to transform the United Nations so that it works better to solve the global problems facing planet earth. Joe shares my vision that we need systems in place to create and maintain world peace through world law with freedom and justice for all.

Joe Schwartzberg's Transforming the UN (book)

Joe’s first two suggestions involve what could be described as a legislative branch of a United Nations system. First he describes how the existing General Assembly (GA) should modify its voting so that the vote of each nation is weighted to take into account the size of its population, the amount of money it contributes to the United Nations budget, and the sovereign equality of nations. With weighted voting, Joe proposes that the GA could pass binding resolutions which are needed to move us towards the establishment of law for global issues like world peace and security.

Edward Rawson Memorial Arrangements

For those who would like to celebrate the life of Edward Rawson, the detailed arrangements are below. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, a contribution in his memory may be made to in support of the Edward Rawson Fellowship Program to allow recent college graduates an opportunity to promote active citizen engagement in global institutions and governance while developing leadership skills in government relations, communications, and grassroots outreach. Click here to learn more about Ed's life and to leave a personal comment that will be shared with the family.  


Friday January 10th, 2014
Joseph Gawler's Sons
5130 Wisconsin Ave, NW
Washington DC 20016

Memorial Service:

Saturday January 11th, 2014
St Johns Episcopal Church
6715 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101


Following funeral service
Kazan Restaurant
6813 Redmond Drive
McLean, VA 22101

Information, death notice and obituary to be posted on Gawlers website under Edward Rawson

An obituary has also been published in the Washington Post.

Edward Rawson: 1914 - 2013

Ed is honored for the 1st "Edward Rawson Global Citizen Award"

With the passing of the old year, we lost a beloved friend, benefactor and leader, Edward Rawson. He passed away quietly at his home in McLean, Virginia surrounded by his family. He would have been 100 this February. We knew him as Ed, Mr. Rawson and Grandpa.  For so many of us he was “my friend” and “my teacher.”

Ed Rawson - Vintage PhotoEd has been part of Global Solutions movement from the beginning. He attended the 1947 founding of the United World Federalists in Asheville, North Carolina. Ed was the World Federalist Association’s (WFA) Treasurer for 20 years, retiring in 1996. He served for several years as Executive Vice President of the Campaign for UN Reform, and served until his passing as a Trustee of the World Federalist Endowment Fund, which he helped to establish. He was a past president of the WFA DC Metro Chapter, past chair of the WFA Executive Committee, and a recipient of the WFA "Presidential Award". Received a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from Yale Law School, he served abroad with the State Department and Agency for International Development, and eventually as AID coordinator for relations with other federal agencies.

2014 – The Year of Protecting People

Peace on Earth

To my friends and colleagues in the community, I wish you a joyful holiday season and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!  May you celebrate and bask in the warmth of your family and friends.

As we approach the time of year for reflection and giving, I am grateful that we can continue our work together to abolish war, protect our environment, and solve problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone.

UN SG Ban Ki Moon tweet

Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s call to make 2014 “the year of protecting people” speaks to why the work that we are committed to is so important.  We understand that protecting people is about pushing for pragmatic and systemic solutions to pressing global problems.

Here are some of the challenges that we will take on next year.  I hope you can support our efforts to:

The Disappearing State of the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic and neighbors

In November 2013, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the UN Security Council that communal violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) was spiralling out of control. He backed the possibility of an armed UN peacekeeping force to complement the civilian UN staff, the Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).

The UN faces a double task in the CAR.  There is the immediate problem of violence among tribal-based militias in the absence of a national army or central government security forces.  The militias basically pit the north of the country against the south. In addition, militias from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and segments of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army use the CAR as a "safe haven" and live off the land by looting villages.

In the absence of a standing UN peacekeeping force, UN peacekeepers would have to be redeployed from the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area also torn by fighting.  Moving UN troops away from the Congo however risks the recent progress that they have made on the security situation in recent months.  

The longer range task of peacebuilding and creating a national administration which provides services beyond the capital city, Bangui, is the aim of the BINUCA, but its work is largely impossible in the light of the ongoing violence.

The area covered by the current state had no pre-colonial common history and no "state-building" occurred during the French colonial period. Oubangui-Chari, as CAR was then known, was the poor cousin of French Equatorial Africa (AEF).  It was used as an "exile post" for African civil servants considered "trouble makers." Schools were few, and secondary school students were sent away to Brazzaville, the administrative center of AEF.

Climate Activists Walk Out of UN Climate Conference

Activist Walk Out of UN Climate Conference

Time is running out for countries to forge a new global agreement to address climate change.  The intent of the COP19, this year’s meeting of the  UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland, was to lay the foundation of a new agreement.  The hope was that then, world leaders would commit to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at a UN Climate Summit in 2014 in New York, with climate accords signed in Paris in 2015 – to come into force by 2020. 

However, hundreds of activist walked out of COP19 to protest a lack of progress. The walkout was organized by groups such as Greenpeace, Oxfam,, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, WWF and Friends of the Earth. Here's a Democracy Now report on the walkout:

Their action followed a walk out by a group of 133 developing nations from an important negotiation. The issue at the core of this controversy is centered on how much responsibility nations that have emitted the most greenhouse gas should have to compensate developing nations that are receiving the brunt of damage from climate induced extreme weather.

From Symbolic Truce to Lasting Peace

Christmas Truce of 1914

Congratulations to the UN General Assembly for once again calling on countries to observe a world-wide ceasefire starting in February 2014 and lasting until March.

This period of symbolic truce starts a week before and continues through a week after the 11th Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, urged all countries to honor the truce in accord with the ancient Greek tradition born in the 8th century BCE.  He said, "if this could save just one life, it would be a wonderful resolution and not only a paper."

After more than 10,000 years it seems that humanity should be able to do better than saving one or just a few lives by stopping wars for a few weeks.  Why only temporary truce rather than peace for good?

Many countries have shown us how to create enduring peace within their boundaries.  The key is the creation of a democratic government where rulers are selected periodically by the people and where human rights and the rule of law are respected.  Of course some conflicts occur, but they can be worked out by political and judicial means rather than by the violence of wars. The European Union is in the process demonstrating how we can also create peace internationally in a region of the world once notorious for starting wars.  Again, the solution is creating a democratic government that respects human rights and the rule of law.  The African Union and other regional organizations are also showing surely but slowly how peace can be established.

Ban the Bomb!

Image: flickr/_Gavroche_

In April 2009 in Prague, President Obama told an adoring throng that he intended "to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." His administration has undertaken some baby steps in that direction. Most notably there has been the New START Treaty with Russia and ongoing multilateral summits on securing all things nuclear from terrorists.

But the president has not convened any consultations with other states to explore how state parties might go about negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC). A very elaborate and carefully constructed model NWC-the product of dozens of scientists, lawyers, nuclear experts, and former government officials, and based in large measure upon the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)-has been floating around the nuclear policy arena since 1997. Every year since, the UN General Assembly has passed a quite explicit resolution on the matter, calling for "commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention, prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons, and providing for their elimination."

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been portrayed in recent weeks as primarily concerned with overseeing the destruction of chemical arsenals-today in Syria but previously in both the United States and Russia. But the fundamental raison d'etre of the OPCW, as envisioned in the CWC itself, is not just to authenticate the destruction of existing stockpiles of chemical weapons but also to verify, over the very long term, that they never again re-enter history.