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Category: World Federalism

Reimagining the United Nations: A 2020 Vision

Future Parliament

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.

Nuclear Zero: Let’s Think out of the Box

Many thanks to President Obama and the 50+ world leaders who came to Washington for the international nuclear summit on how to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of the hands of terrorists and rogue nations. Efforts to accomplish that goal are certainly to be lauded.

Nevertheless, I wish that all our world leaders could do more "out-of-the-box" thinking. Why do these nuclear weapons and materials even exist? I think that it is rather evident that like all the weapons of war, they have been created by national governments in order to dominate other national governments or to protect their own nation against possible attacks by other nations.

Why is the situation so different within our country? Why don't some states have to have nuclear weapons to protect themselves against a possible attack from another state? When we put the issue this way, it becomes evident that the problem is not really nuclear weapons or cruise missiles or drones or cyber warfare or any other kind of weapons. Rather, it is the need of national governments to be ready to use military actions and war because of the absence of another, better way of resolving international conflicts.

Reversing Nuclear Proliferation

This article was authored by CGS member and guest contributor Ira Straus.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests raise afresh the most troubling and urgent issues of nuclear proliferation. The Obama Administration had hoped the Iran deal would give a 10-year respite from the problem, but it is already back, and even a respite is only a delay within an underlying worsening situation. Here is a fresh look at the problem, based on the question of what would be necessary in order to reverse the trend and start moving toward a gradually improving situation.

The System of Multiple Sovereignties: The Motor for Proliferation

Let’s start with a seeming tautology: the more sovereign independent states, each with its own military, the greater the chances of more countries building nuclear weapons. That tends to get taken for granted by everyone: obvious, but somehow irrelevant. It needs to be brought to full consciousness, for it is the foundation of nuclear proliferation.

Under a world government, there would not be nuclear proliferation among governments. What would remain would be problems of nuclear safety.

The proliferation of sovereignties in the world that began at Westphalia in 1648 was compounded by new independencies from 1776 to 1823, and compounded further by independencies after 1945. The proliferation of states still continues. It is what has made nuclear proliferation inevitable, and creates a good chance that it will be multiplied onto a much larger scale than yet seen.

Catholic Social Doctrine and World Parliament

Pope Francis meets with poor children in the Philippines

The following is the introduction to an updated paper by Dr. Maja Brauer and Mr. Andreas Bummel with the German-based Committee for a Democratic UN (KDUN). The full paper is available on KDUN's website here.

On June 18, 2015, Pope Francis published his second encyclical titled Laudato Si (Praise be to you). On behalf of Christianity, the Pope urged responsibility in dealing with humanity’s “common home,” the earth.

The statement elaborates in detail on critical economic, social, and ecological grievances in the world. In view of these, the Pope calls on all human beings--Christians as well as followers of other religions and disbelievers--to “bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development.” This is supposed to lead to a more humane world society that ensures a dignified existence not only of all alive today, but also of future generations, as well as of “Sister Earth” itself.

In addition to discussing ethical norms and possible political measures, the Pope also addresses the underlying conditions of the global political system. Referencing his predecessor Benedict XVI, he calls for the creation of a “true political world authority” that is able to cope with global challenges. To explain this more fully, Francis quotes a passage from Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth):

Open Letter #8 To My Grandson Jake

Jake and Gram in front of the triceratops at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Letters to Jake Series, Letter #8

Dear Jake,

I am writing this letter in the car as Papa and I drive home after a visit with you and the twins. I liked going to the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC as well as going to the county fair in the countryside near your home. At the museum I especially enjoyed seeing the dinosaurs and other animals that are now extinct. My favorite parts of the fair were riding on the Ferris wheel with you, where we could see the beautiful countryside all around us, and watching the 4H children care for their farm animals.

Our two trips in one week were a good reminder of how wonderful and how precious life is on planet Earth. We need to take care of the earth’s resources like air and water that are important for human life as well as the life of all animals, trees, and other plants that share our planet with us.

Pope Francis just wrote a very long letter entitled “On Care for Our Common Home.” In this letter he reminds all people that we are responsible for taking care of Earth.

Pope Francis is concerned about the growing threat of climate change. Scientists believe that Earth is getting warmer and that clean water is getting scarce in some places.

Humans need to do all they can not to add to the warming and to protect the water so there is enough for everyone. Children like you and the 4H children we saw at the fair can help their parents by reminding them to reduce their use of the earth’s resources, reuse items instead of throwing them away, and recycle whenever possible. Wealthy countries like the U.S. need to help make sure everyone in poor countries has access to healthy drinking water.

Open Letter #5 To My Grandson Jake

Donna and her grandson Jake

Letters to Jake Series, Letter #5

Dear Jake,

Our recent visit to the Natural History Museum was so much fun. Papa and I were very glad that you insisted on seeing the movie in the “Origin of Man” exhibit. “We Are All One Species” was a fascinating movie for children and adults alike. It was interesting to learn that the other human species died out 17,000 years ago, at about the same time that our species, Homo sapiens, migrated across the entire planet. It was good to see the images of men and women as a rainbow of one species from light- to dark-skinned and everything in between. Our differences are very minor compared to the commonalities that unite us.

This is at the heart of my desire to create a United Federation of Nations, to unite all human beings across the earth into a global community. I don’t want to eliminate the nations. Indeed, I want to be a proud American who can also say I’m a proud citizen of the world. I want the nations to deal with national issues and a federation of nations to deal with global issues that affect all Homo sapiens, like the environment, the oceans, war, and the world’s food supply and health threats.

Right now the world has so many problem areas, where adults and children are being killed or are fleeing their homes in an attempt to find safety. I believe that the best way to address these problems is with a strong, democratic united federation of nations to bring about the force of law rather than the law of force. We do need a strong peacekeeping force ready to go into problem areas to protect children and their communities. This force should include peacekeepers from multiple countries, not just from the US. 

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: 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.

Open Letter #2 To My Grandson Jake

Donna & her grandson, Jake

Letters to Jake Series, Letter #2

Dear Jake,

At the wonderful age of 2, you are now a big brother! I can’t believe you have twin sisters! Annette and Clair are lucky to have a big brother like you to love, support and protect them. Perhaps with two little sisters you’ll treasure even more the idea of ending war on planet earth.

In my first letter I explained the idea that the way to peace is through establishing global law with justice so that conflicts between nations can be resolved in a court of law and bad people will be held accountable for their actions if they break the law by invading or attacking others.

President Obama avoids conflict with SyriaNow I want to point out how the current situation of eliminating chemical weapons in Syria is an example of how this can work. Our U.S. President Obama was threatening to use military force to protest Syria’s use of chemical weapons. There was an amazing outcry from U.S. citizens that we didn’t want to use our military might in this situation. Russia suggested that the Syrian government turn over its chemical weapons to a UN agency, and the U.S. agreed to give this option a chance to work before using our own weapons of destruction. So far it seems to be working. There is still much to be worked out, but this is an example of how there are other ways of solving problems, ways that don’t involve killing people. It also shows there is tremendous power when the nations of the world work together.

There is much to be done to turn the United Nations into a strong, democratic, federation of nations. But this is one example of how that effort can move the planet towards peace through world law with justice. Help your mommy and daddy take good care of your babies.