The Time Has Come To Build A Viable Global System Of Collective Security

The Time Has Come To Build A Viable Global System Of Collective Security

Lessons Repeat Themselves Until Learned

One of the inescapable features of human existence is that lessons we fail to learn repeat themselves over and over, usually with increasing ferocity until the lesson is learned. This principle applies not only to our individual lives, but to humanity’s collective life as well. One of these global lessons that has been repeating itself with ever-increasing intensity is that localized or regional conflicts have global repercussions.

A good example is the war in Syria, which spawned a number of crises that impacted countries far beyond its border. One of them was the refugee crisis, which affected not only Syria’s immediate Middle Eastern neighbors like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey but had far-reaching effects in Europe as well. The wave of refugees washing up on Europe’s shores was a driving force in the rise of right-wing governments in several countries. It was also one of the factors that precipitated Brexit, as the United Kingdom frantically attempted to take control of its own destiny and limit the flow of unwanted refugees to its shores.

The Syrian conflict also created fertile conditions in Syria and Iraq that allowed ISIS to flourish and carry out brutal acts that impacted the citizens of many nations near and far. In addition, the civil war in Syria resulted in the creation of what some of the media referred to as a “proto world war,” as countries arrayed themselves on opposing sides of a widening conflict.

We Missed the Opportunity to Learn from the War in Syria

Unfortunately, the international community failed to grasp the opportunity arising from the conflict in Syria to devise a global mechanism to end the Syrian conflict. It is therefore no surprise that one of the most pressing conflicts of the day, Russia’s war against Ukraine, has left our global leaders paralyzed, dithering, taking half-measures and seemingly unable to take the kind of decisive and effective action that would have nipped it in the bud before it festered into the global morass it is today.

The War in Ukraine Has Triggered Several Global Crises

This latest regional conflict has been having its own world-encircling impact: indeed, it has been responsible for triggering several global crises. They include a global food crisis that has resulted in food shortages and the rise in the price of bread, a staple food which so many, especially in the poorest nations, rely on for survival. The Ukraine conflict has also sparked a global energy crisis as the flow of natural gas from Russia, on which many countries have relied, has significantly diminished. The result has been a spike in the price of energy across the world, including the richer nations of Europe. In the U.K. alone, the cost of heating homes has risen dramatically, causing much economic pain. As though this were not enough, the war has contributed to the rise of stubborn inflation worldwide which is having a significant and deleterious impact on the global economy. Some, including the World Bank, fear that we will soon find ourselves in a global recession.

To add to all these global crises, the nations of the world are dividing themselves into two opposing camps with the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand arrayed on one side and Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and possibly India on the other. This level of global polarization constitutes a threat to global peace and security. In the past, it has led to world wars, a consequence we want to avoid at all costs. The threat is exacerbated by the increasing worry that nuclear weapons may be used either accidentally or deliberately by one of these nations in a moment of heated miscalculation, triggering a nuclear war, which, even if limited geographically, would have disastrous consequences for humanity.

It’s Time to Revisit President Wilson’s 14 Points and the Atlantic Charter

The ever-increasing cascade of crises points to the imperative need for the international community to devise a viable global system of collective security that is capable of ensuring international peace. It is time for the world to revisit and finally implement two principles proposed by two American presidents in the early and middle parts of the twentieth century.

The first is the principle that was proposed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 as part of his 14 Point program which called for limiting the number of arms each nation can possess to the smallest amount consistent with domestic safety. Alas, the world failed to implement this recommendation when it created the League of Nations in the aftermath of the First World War. It failed to do so at its peril and suffered another devastating world war. The world then missed another opportunity to implement President Wilson’s recommendation when the United Nations was created after the Second World War.

The second principle that the world should seriously revisit and implement is set out in Article 8 of the Atlantic Charter, drawn up by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill in August 1941. This principle called for nations to abandon the use of force “for realistic as well as spiritual reasons.” It, too, was never implemented.

The Key to Peace is Creating a Global System of Collective Security

Given the recent horrors humanity has experienced as a result of the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine (and in many other nations, including Yemen, Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Sudan), the international community may finally be ready to build a global system of collective security that is firmly grounded in these two foundational principles.

From Nationalist Isolation To Global Citizenship

From Nationalist Isolation To Global Citizenship

For many years, a portion of the world public has sought to wall itself off from people abroad by hiding behind national borders.

Nationalist Isolation in the United States and Elsewhere

In the United States, this tendency became an important element in American politics. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Republican Party embraced isolationism and spurned the new League of Nations. Indeed, for a time, President Warren G. Harding’s State Department refused to even acknowledge correspondence from the League. Republican leaders also played a key role in the America First Committee, founded in 1940 to oppose U.S. aid to Britain in its lonely resistance to the fascist military onslaught. Admittedly, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the GOP shifted course, backing U.S. participation in World War II and the development of the United Nations. In the postwar years, however, this internationalist approach gradually dissipated, especially as the Republican Party moved rightward. Increasingly, the GOP portrayed international treaties and foreigners as threats to “the American way of life.”

The descent into xenophobia was particularly evident during the presidency of Donald Trump. Proclaiming an “America First” policy and ridiculing “global citizenship,” he assailed the United Nationswithdrew the United States from the World Health Organization, championed the building of border wallsbanned travel to the United States from select countries, and pulled the U.S. government out of international climate and arms control agreements. “You know what I am?” Trump remarked to a campaign crowd in October 2018. “I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”

Even after his 2020 election defeat, Trump has continued to promote an “America First” policy, while other leading Republicans, ranging from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have done much the same. MAGA extremists like Tucker Carson and Marjorie Taylor Greene increasingly set a strident nationalist tone for the current GOP. Nor are they out of line with most of their voters, According to polls, most Republicans oppose their government’s taking international action against climate change, aiding refugees fleeing violence, defending human rights in other countries, and strengthening the United Nations.

Of course, this kind of narrow nationalism has been and remains common in many lands, where notions of national superiority have facilitated imperialism, militarism, disdain for foreigners, and ignorance of the world. Rightwing political movements seem particularly prone to nationalist hysteria; witness, for example, the chauvinism displayed by fascist parties of the past and present. But flag-waving glorification of the nation has certainly not been limited to the Right or, for that matter, to any country.

Problems with the Nationalist Approach

Despite their ubiquity, however, nationalist disrespect and contempt for people of other lands run counter to most of the world’s great ethical and religious teachings, which call for fairness, charity, and even love for others. The oft-cited Golden Rule―“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”―is not limited by national boundaries. Similarly, “welcoming the stranger,” a direct challenge to xenophobia, has deep resonance in traditional moral preachments. In fact, xenophobia is a form of nationally-based selfishness that undermines the fundamentals of ethical behavior.

Moreover, a nationalist approach is very unrealistic. After all, in today’s world, no single country or group of countries can cope effectively with the severe problems that confront us. These problems include war (and perhaps nuclear war), climate catastrophe, disease pandemics, resource scarcity, widespread poverty, and mass migration. Given advances in modern science and technology, solutions to these problems are feasible. Even so, as these are global problems, it is hard to see how they can be addressed successfully without implementing global solutions. And these solutions require international cooperation.

The Rise of Global Citizenship

Fortunately, as ethical obligations have been reinforced by global realities, many international voluntary organizations have emerged to deal with such issues as war (the International Peace Bureau and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War), environmental defense (Greenpeace,, and the World Wildlife Fund), and preservation of human life and health (the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Doctors without Borders). Other concerns that have led to the development of international voluntary organizations include aid to refugees (the International Rescue Committee), the alleviation of poverty (Oxfam International), and the defense of workers’ rights (the International Trade Union Confederation).

In addition, international governmental institutions, working to address these and other challenges, have developed over the past century. The best known of them is probably the United Nations. But others include the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Working together, they have helped fashion international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In an effort to promote further progress along these lines, some organizations, such as the World Federalist Movement, call for strengthening international cooperation by building a united federation of nations. And there is much to be said for this approach. After all, these international organizations, institutions, and agreements point the way forward to a global civilization where nations are not invaded and relentlessly bombed to satisfy the imperial ambitions of an arrogant ruler, where people do not go hungry when there is food enough for all, and where people’s homes and lands are no longer overwhelmed by environmental disasters to safeguard the profits of giant fossil fuel corporations.

As the development of international social movements and institutions has shown us, people around the globe who seek to move beyond the artificial boundaries that have separated them can work together to address their common problems by building an ever more united world. Having wallowed in futile and self-defeating national isolation for centuries, the people of the world can take effective action to transcend their divided past in the interest of a brighter future . . . for all!

Lawrence S. Wittner is Professor of History Emeritus at SUNY/Albany, the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press) and other books on international issues, and a board member of the Citizens for Global Solutions Education Fund.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Citizens for Global Solutions.

If Youth Is The Future, Why Don’t We Have A Say About It?

If Youth Is The Future, Why Don’t We Have A Say About It?

Being invited to the first Global Future Forum in New York City from March 20-22 was something I never imagined when I arrived in the United States seven months ago. My name is Marina Jiménez, and I am a fourth-year Law and Political student from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain. Last September, I came to the United States to study for a year at Northeastern University (Boston) and,  I was given an opportunity to be sponsored by Citizens for Global Solutions to not just to be part of the first Global Future Forum but to present my research paper, “Open Door opportunities that leave many young people on the doorstep” about the exploitative unpaid internships in the United Nations (UN) at the Youth Pavilion..

But first things first. What was the Global Futures Forum? The Global Futures Forum (GFF) was a two-day event celebrated in New York to conclude several months of work on the “People’s Pact for the Future”, a document that encapsulates several proposals made by civil society about the UN’s future and the reforms that must be made, as an attempt to not only be heard but be presented at  the Summit of the Future in 2024. During the previous weeks, Coalition For the UN We Need (C4UN) and the Stimson Center– the coalition that made it all possible; coordinated different E-consultations related to seven tracks: Peace and Security, Human Rights and Participation, UN and Global Governance and Innovation, Global Economic and Financial Architecture, Environmental Governance, Development and Digital Compact. By doing so, people all around the world, all ages and all backgrounds got the chance to bring to the table their concerns and suggestions for a better future. Undoubtedly, GFF represents a significant milestone in the way civil society supports intergovernmental processes. Empowering civil society in international decision-making is the first step towards a stronger, more networked, and inclusive multilateral UN system.

To this effect and to ensure GFF was inclusive itself, it included an entirely youth-led and youth-focused forum, promoting the key role of youth in the monitoring, review and the implementation of Our Common Agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Needless to say that youth representation is a critical stakeholder that is almost never invited to the negotiating table, so being invited and having a voice is an important part of civil society has been an important move. While historically, the lack of young people in high decision-making processes is common, young have the power and full knowledge of our concerns and ambitions, and we will no longer sit on the sidelines. We demand to be part of the conversation and the solutions that concern our futures moving forward. Listening to the voice of youth is a vital part of understanding our society as a whole.

Youth have been undervalued and many in power tend to think that we are “too young and inexperienced” to be a relevant player on the field. But we are not. We are nearly half of the world’s population, and we are more educated than ever. We do not want to be just consulted. We are tired of being asked to share our opinions and solutions without seeing any real change. We want to see our proposals being taken seriously, to the same extent as those of the rest of the involved stakeholders. We want to have a say in our future. We want to get on Board.

That is why I am pleased that the “People’s Pact for the Future” that we drafted will reach the hands of the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, and the negotiating parties at the Summit for the Future 2024. It is the most useful way to get our claims to where the decisions that affect our day-to-day lives are made. While not every recommendation will materialize from the conference, we must continue to raise our voices at all levels of power, what we experienced could be a turning point in the way the world thinks about and treats youth. It remains to be seen whether they seize the opportunity or miss the boat again.

Whose Red Lines?

Whose Red Lines?

In the conflict-ridden realm of international relations, certain terms are particularly useful, and one of them is “Red Lines.”  Derived from the concept of a “line in the sand,” first employed in antiquity, the term “Red Lines” appears to have emerged in the 1970s to denote what one nation regards as unacceptable from other nations.  In short, it is an implicit threat.

Russian Red Lines

Vladimir Putin, self-anointed restorer of the Russian empire, has tossed about the term repeatedly in recent years.  “I hope nobody will get it into their heads to cross Russia’s so-called red line,” he warned in April 2021.  “Where it will be drawn, we will decide ourselves in each specific case.”  These red lines, although addressing a variety of issues, have been proclaimed frequently.  At the end of that November, Putin announced that Russia would take action if NATO crossed its “red lines” on Ukraine, saying that the deployment of offensive missile capabilities on Ukrainian soil would serve as a trigger.  In mid-December, as Russian military forces massed within striking distance of Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry demanded that NATO not only rule out any further expansion, but remove any troops or weapons from NATO members Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Balkan countries and obtain Russian permission before holding any military drills in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, or Central Asia.

Finally, on February 24, 2022, Putin―ignoring a U.S. offer to negotiate some of these items―sent a massive Russian military force pouring into Ukraine in a full-scale invasion.  “This is the red line that I talked about multiple times,” he said, and “they have crossed it.”  Most nations were not impressed by this justification, for the Russian invasion and subsequent annexation of large portions of Ukraine were clear violations of international law and, as such, were condemned by the United Nations General Assembly and the International Court of Justice.

Of course, Putin’s red lines and international aggression, though particularly blatant, are hardly the only features of this kind that have appeared throughout Russian or world history.

American and Chinese Red Lines

The United States has a lengthy record in this regard.  As Professor Matthew Waxman of Columbia Law School has written, the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 involved “drawing a red line―with an implicit war threat” against “any European efforts to colonize or reassert control in the Western Hemisphere.”  Given the relative weakness of the United States at the time, the U.S. government did not attempt to enforce President James Monroe’s grandiose pronouncement.  But, with the emergence of the United States as a great power, its government expanded the Monroe Doctrine to justify frequent U.S. meddling in hemispheric affairs, including conquering and annexing Latin American territory.  Even in recent decades, when U.S. annexations have become a relic of the past, the U.S. government has engaged in military intervention in other lands, especially in the Caribbean and Central America, but also in Asia and the Middle East (where President George W. Bush drew what he called “a line in the sand”).

In recent years, as China’s military and economic power have grown, its government, too, has begun emphasizing its red lines.  Meeting with U.S. President Joseph Biden in mid-November 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that Taiwan was the “first red line that must not be crossed.”  Xi did not mention the tension-fraught situation in the South China Sea, where China had set up military fortifications on islands claimed by its neighbors, including Vietnam and the Philippines.  But here, as well, China had red lines―leading to the current dangerous confrontations between U.S. and Chinese warships in the region.  Sharply rejecting a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague that denied China’s control of the area, the Chinese government continued to build up fortifications on the disputed islands.  Furthermore, Chinese troops have continued for more than six decades to engage in violent military clashes with Indian troops along the disputed border, in the Himalayan region, between their two nations.

The Dangers of Red Lines Drawn by Individual Nations

Although it could be argued that red lines are only an innocent expression of what a nation considers unacceptable in world affairs, it’s worth noting that they are employed especially by major nations.  The “great powers,” after all, have the military strength to give their warnings some credibility.  Conversely, smaller, weaker nations do not usually bother to issue such pronouncements, as their warnings―and even their interests―are rarely taken as seriously.  For this reason, the issuance of red lines usually boils down to a matter of what nation has the power to compel other nations to accept its demands.

Consequently, red lines lead inevitably to spheres of influence that other nations are supposed to respect―including a U.S. sphere in Latin America, a Russian sphere in Europe, and a Chinese sphere in Asia.  Naturally, people and nations living in the shadow of these major powers are not enthusiastic about this arrangement, which explains why many Latin Americans want the Yankees to go home, many Europeans fear Russian hegemony, and many Asians are wary of the rise of China.

Another problem with the issuance of red lines is their tendency to inspire international conflict and war.  Given their roots in the professed interests of a single nation, they do not necessarily coincide with the interests of other nations.  In this competitive situation, conflict is almost inevitable.  Where, in these circumstances, is there a place for collective action to fashion a common agreement―one recognizing the fundamental interests of all nations?

A World Federalist Alternative

Rather than a world of red lines proclaimed by a few powerful nations, what humanity needs is a strengthened United Nations―a global federation of nations in which competing national priorities are reconciled and enforced through agreements, treaties, and international law.

Setting red lines for the world is too important to be left to individual, self-interested countries.  They should be set―and respected―by all.

Tanner Willis

Tanner Willis

Operations Officer

Tanner Willis has a master’s degree from United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) in international affairs and diplomacy. During his time at UNITAR he has been part of two fellowships, one with Al Fusaic as an information and communication technology and international affairs fellow. Al Fusaic is a non-profit who aims to provide education and career advancement to promote peace and security in Southwest Asia and North African region. His second graduate fellowship was with the United Nations Association – National Capital Area (UNA-NCA). UNA-NCA advocates alongside UNA-USA for further partnership with the United States and the United Nations to achieve goals surrounding global issues and uphold the UN charter.

Tanner’s research experience focuses on how information & communications technology influences social and political dynamics with civil society and their relationship with governments. His experience will help CGS utilize digital technologies to promote CGS' mission in promoting peace, international law, and human rights in a responsible and ethical manner. 

In his spare time Tanner is an avid basketball fan of his home team of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. He has played, refereed, broadcasted, and coached basketball and enjoys all levels of the game. He also loves going to art museums, hiking, and traveling with his wife

Bruce Knotts

Bruce Knotts


Bruce Knotts was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, worked for Raytheon in Saudi Arabia (1976-80) and on a World Bank contract in Somalia (1982-4), before he joined the Department of State as a U.S. diplomat in 1984. Bruce had diplomatic assignments in Greece, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and The Gambia, where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission. While in Cote d’Ivoire, Bruce served as the Regional Refugee Coordinator for West Africa. Bruce worked closely with several UN Special Representatives and observed UN peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone from 2000-2003. Bruce retired from the Foreign Service in 2007 and began directing the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) in 2008. Bruce founded faith-based advocacy for sexual orientation/gender identity human rights at the United Nations and continues to advocate for the rights of women, indigenous peoples and for sustainable development in moral terms of faith and values. Bruce is co-chair of the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights, the chair of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security, a member of steering committee of the NGO UN Security Council Working Group. Bruce retired from the UUA September 30, 2022. Bruce is currently the UN representative of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women. In 2006, Bruce and Isaac Humphrie were wed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

James Lowell May

James Lowell May

Program Officer

James May is a programme and project development specialist. He has lived in Serbia since 2005, and prior to joining Citizens for Global Solutions, worked across the Western Balkans on a broad range of issues including human, minority and child rights, accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Holocaust commemoration, democratic participation, social justice and economic empowerment, and environmental restoration.

James began working in the Western Balkans on issues related to accountability for human rights violations, first for the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, a coalition of NGOs active in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as the network’s development coordinator, then the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, leading a research project documenting the nomenclatural of the Milosevic Regime, and then the Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia, running a Holocaust research and education project.

James then transitioned from accountability to efforts to protect and fulfil the rights of marginalised communities. For a decade James worked for the Centre for Youth Integration, an NGO that provides specialized services for children and youth in street situations in Belgrade, where he began as a volunteer before taking up a permanent role, while concurrently volunteering for community mental health organizations, as well as consultancy work for a number of local and international organizations, and most recently branched out to apply his experience to the environmental sector, focussing on social impact assessments and community-oriented nature-based solutions projects.

James has a degree in Archaeology from University College London. He was born and grew up in Great Britain. He is an avid cyclist.

Honorable David J. Scheffer

Honorable David J. Scheffer

Former U.S. Ambassador

Amb. David J. Scheffer is senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), with a focus on international law and international criminal justice. Scheffer was the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law (2006-2020) and is Director Emeritus of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is Professor of Practice at Arizona State University (Washington offices). He was Vice-President of the American Society of International Law (2020-2022) and held the International Francqui Professorship at KU Leuven in Belgium in 2022. From 2012 to 2018 he was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Expert on UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, and he was the Tom A. Bernstein Genocide Prevention Fellow working with the Ferencz International Justice Initiative at the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (2019-2021).

During the second term of the Clinton Administration (1997-2001), Scheffer was the first ever U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues and led the U.S. delegation to the UN talks establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). He signed the Rome Statute of the ICC on behalf of the United States on December 31, 2000. He negotiated the creation of five war crimes tribunals: the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and the ICC. He chaired the Atrocities Prevention Inter-Agency Working Group (1998-2001). During the first term of the Clinton Administration (1993-1997), Scheffer served as senior advisor and counsel to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Madeleine Albright, and he served on the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council. Ambassador Scheffer received an A.B. (Government and Economics) from Harvard College, B.A. (Honour School of Jurisprudence) from Oxford University (where he was a Knox Fellow), and LL.M. (International and Comparative Law) from Georgetown University Law Center.

Alex Andrei

Alex Andrei

Director of Technology and Design

Alex is an experienced professional in designing digital products, managing online applications, and providing IT consulting services. Their background is in working with online applications design, digital accessibility, learning management platforms, user experience and interface design for online and mobile applications. They have over 10 years of experience working with higher-education institutions, nonprofits, and business.

He believes that in today’s rapidly evolving landscape, organizations need to adapt and thrive in the digital realm to gain a competitive edge and be as successful as they can be. Alex specializes in supporting organizations in their digital transformation initiatives and creating effective user experiences and driving efficiency through technology to empower people.

As Director of Technology and Design, Alex focuses on identifying opportunities to integrate various technologies in ongoing operations and new initiatives at CGS to support programs, partners, and team members in achieving their goals.

Alex has a passion strategically leveraging cutting edge technologies to maximize the value of what can be done with limited resources to create a lasting impact and great experiences for people.

Jon Kozesky

Jon Kozesky

Director of Development 

Jon brings over 17 years of experience in development and fundraising in both the public and private sectors.  He started his career in politics working in the Ohio Statehouse and later in the office of U.S. Congressman Steven LaTourette, as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. After leaving Capitol Hill, Jon pursued his passion of helping nonprofits secure the resources they needed to best serve their constituents. This passion led to his founding of Jon Thomas Consulting, a boutique nonprofit management and development firm serving organizations across the United States and throughout the world in streamlining their processes and maximizing their revenue growth through grant writing, government affairs, donor stewardship, and major event planning.

Prior to his fundraising career, Jon proudly served his community as a firefighter and water rescue diver. In his personal time, Jon is a champion competitive sailor and a bit of a thrill-seeker, having skydived and bungee jumped on 6 continents.

Jacopo Demarinis

Social Media & Communications Coordinator

Jacopo De Marinis is a 2022 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in Public Policy and Law, and is pursuing a career in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. While studying at UIUC, he co-founded a student chapter of Chicago Area Peace Action, CAPA UIUC, and spearheaded student campaigns for climate justice, justice for Black farmers, and a Chicago Department of Peacebuilding. He currently sits on the boards of Anne's Haven, a Chicago community-based organization dedicated to women's empowerment, and Chicago Area Peace Action. Jacopo has published articles on topics including conflict diplomacy, US-China relations, and United Nations reform in CounterPunch, Countercurrents, the LA Progressive, and on the Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement's website, among others. Jacopo joined the CGS team in September of 2022, as he strongly believes that stronger global governance and UN reform is necessary if we are to realize a more peaceful and just world.

Marvin Perry

Accounting Manager

Marvin has been working in the areas of HIV/AIDS, international peace and human rights. He has worked with both national and international non-profits in the DC area. Marvin brings years of experience in non-profit finance and administration. Marvin is a certified human resources professional and holds an MBA from Howard University School of Business.

Peter Orvetti

Communications Consultant

Peter Orvetti is an editor and political analyst who has spent most of his career providing daily intelligence briefings for the White House across four presidential administrations, as well as multiple Cabinet agencies, trade associations, and Fortune 500 companies. He is the author of several “Young People’s Guides” to various U.S. federal elections and is a former daily columnist for NBC Universal’s Washington, D.C., website.

He has been involved with CGS and other world federalist organizations for more than a decade and publishes the daily “One World Digest” email newsletter. He is also a theater reviewer and an actor in both professional and amateur productions.

Drea Bergman

Director of Programs

Drea Bergman has been shaping world citizens developing global youth programs as Director of Programs for CGS. She is a public policy researcher with master’s degrees from Maastricht Graduate School of Governance and the United Nations University-MERIT (Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology). She specializes in evidenced-based public policy programs using mixed-methods research and has focused especially on spearheading digital transformation for a variety of NGOs and foundations. Some of her other projects have included research in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. More recently, she has lent her expertise by providing strategic planning for social enterprise start-ups.

Bob Flax

CGS Education Fund President

Bob Flax, Ph.D. is the former Executive Director of Citizens for Global Solutions (now retired). He has spent a lifetime addressing human suffering, first as a psychologist, then as an organization development consultant, and for more than a decade, as a global activist through the World Federalist Movement. He also teaches in the Transformative Social Change Program at Saybrook University.

Bob has a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from New York University (1977), an M.A. in Psychology from Long Island University (1980), a Ph.D. in Psychology from Saybrook Institute (1992), an M.A. in Organization Development from Sonoma State University (2007), a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University (2015) and a Diploma in Global Leadership at the UN Peace University in Costa Rica (2019).

Bob’s love of adventure has led him to international trekking, scuba diving, and climbing the tallest mountains on 3 continents. He also maintains a Buddhist meditation practice and lives in a co-housing community in Northern California.

Rebecca A. Shoot

Executive Director

Rebecca A. Shoot is an international lawyer and democracy and governance practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the non-governmental, inter-governmental, and private sectors supporting human rights, democratic processes, and the rule of law on five continents.

In nearly a decade with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Rebecca held numerous positions in headquarters and the field supporting and leading democracy and governance programs in Central and Eastern Europe and Southern and East Africa. She subsequently moved to a leadership role steering NDI’s Governance projects globally and directing programming for the bipartisan House Democracy Partnership of the U.S. House of Representatives. Rebecca created a global parliamentary campaign for Democratic Renewal and Human Rights as Senior Advisor to Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), an international network of legislators committed to collaboration to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Prior to that, she directed PGA’s International Law and Human Rights Programme and ran PGA’s office in The Hague. Most recently, she helmed global programming to promote gender equality and criminal justice reform for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI).

Rebecca has spoken at high-level conferences and events on five continents (and increasingly, globally through online platforms). Her publications include the first Global Parliamentary Report (IPU & UNDP 2012), Political Parties in Democratic Transitions (DIPD 2012), and Navigating between Scylla and Charybdis: How the International Criminal Court Turned Restraint Into Power Play (Emory Int’l L. Rev. 2018), which was honored with the Emory International Law Review’s Founder’s Award for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing.

Rebecca is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and is a member of several bar associations, including the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), where she serves as Advocacy Director for the International Criminal Court (ICC) Committee. She served as a Visiting Professional in the Presidency of the ICC and has provided pro bono legal expertise to The Carter Center, International Refugee Assistance Project, United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, and U.S. Marine Corps University, where she helped develop the international humanitarian law curriculum.

Rebecca earned a Juris Doctorate with Honors from Emory University School of Law, where she received several academic distinctions, including the David J. Bederman Fellowship in International Law and Conley-Ingram Scholarship for Public Interest Leadership. She earned a Master of Science in Democracy & Democratisation from University College London School of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts Magna Cum Laude in Political Science from Kenyon College. She holds certificates in Conflict Analysis from the U.S. Institute of Peace and in Public International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law.

As Executive Director of CGS, Rebecca will continue her current role as Co-Convener of the Washington Working Group for the International Criminal Court (WICC), a diverse coalition of human rights organizations, legal associations, former government officials, and leading legal professionals. CGS and WICC have a rich and intertwined history that this dual appointment brings full circle, with CGS formerly serving as host for the coalition and with several current and former common Board and National Advisory Committee members.

She also acts, directs, and writes for the theater.

Helen Caldicott

Physician, Author, and Speaker

Helen Caldicott is a physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate. She founded several associations dedicated to opposing the use of nuclear power, depleted uranium munitions, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons proliferation, and military action in general. In 1980, she founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND), which was later renamed Women’s Action for New Directions. In 2008, she founded the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear Free Future.

Blanche Wiesen Cook

Blanche Wiesen Cook

Professor, Author, and Historian

Blanche Wiesen Cook is a Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. She is author of a three-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as The Declassified Eisenhower: A Divided Legacy of Peace and Political Warfare.

David Cortright

Author, Activist, and Leader

David Cortright is director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and chair of the Board of the Fourth Freedom Forum. In 1977, Cortright was named the executive director of he Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy (SANE), which under his direction became the largest disarmament organization in the U.S. Cortright initiated the 1987 merger of SANE and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and served for a time as co-director of the merged organization. In 2002, he helped to found the Win Without War coalition in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

He is the author or co-editor of 19 books including Waging Peace in Vietnam: U.S. Soldiers and Veterans Who Opposed the WarGandhi and Beyond: Nonviolence for a New Political Age, and Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas.

Andrea Cousins

Andrea Cousins

Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, and Anthropologist

Andrea Cousins is a psychologist and psychoanalyst who has practiced for more than 30 years. She has a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard University and a Doctor of Psychology degree from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. Her father, journalist and peace activist Norman Cousins, served as president of the World Federalist Association and chairman of the Committee for Sane Nuclear Policy, and was honored with recognitions including the United Nations Peace Medal.

Gary Dorrien

Gary Dorrien

Professor, Author, Social Ethicist

Gary Dorrien is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia University. An Episcopal priest, he has taught as the Paul E. Raither Distinguished Scholar at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and as Horace De Y. Lentz Visiting Professor at Harvard Divinity School. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Religion and Socialism Commission and the author of 18 books on ethics, social theory, philosophy, theology, politics, and intellectual history.

Daniel Ellsberg

Lecturer, Writer, and Activist

Daniel Ellsberg is a political activist and former military analyst. While employed by the RAND Corporation, Ellsberg precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of the U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times, The Washington Post and other newspapers.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has continued his political activism, giving lecture tours and speaking out about current events. Ellsberg was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006. In 2018, he was awarded the 2018 Olof Palme Prize for his “profound humanism and exceptional moral courage.”

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein

Painter, Writer, Lecturer, and Historian

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein is a painter, writer, and lecturer. He has taught graduate-level courses on New York theatre history and general musical theatre history as an adjunct professor at Columbia University. He is the author of The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family.

Randy Kehler

Randy Kehler

Pacifist Activist

Randy Kehler is a pacifist activist who served 22 months in prison for returning his draft card in 1969 and refusing to seek exemption as a conscientious objector, seeing that as a form of cooperation with the Vietnam war effort. He played a key role in persuading Daniel Ellsberg to release the Pentagon Papers, and later served as executive director of the National Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. Kehler and his wife Betsy Corner refused to pay taxes for military expenditures, resulting in the federal seizure of their Massachusetts home in 1989. They continue to withhold their federal income taxes.

Gordon Orians

Gordon Orians


Gordon Orians, an ornithologist and ecologist for more than half a century, has focused his work on behavioral ecology and the relationships between ecology and social organization, as well as on the interface between science and public policy. He was director of the University of Washington Seattle’s Institute for Environmental Studies for a decade and has also served on the Board of Directors of the World Wildlife Fund and on state boards of the Nature Conservancy and Audubon.

Orians was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1990.

William Pace

International Organizer

William Pace was the founding convenor of the Coalition for an International Criminal Court (ICC) and a co-founder of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. He has been engaged in international justice, rule of law, environmental law, and human rights for four decades, serving as executive director of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, secretary-general of the Hague Appeal for Peace, director of the Center for the Development of International Law, and director of Section Relations of the Concerts for Human Rights Foundation at Amnesty International, among other roles. He is the recipient of the William J. Butler Human Rights Medal from the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the ICC.

James T. Ranney

Professor, International Legal Consultant, and Author

James T. Ranney is an adjunct professor of international law at Widener Law School. He co-founded the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center in Montana and served as a legal consultant to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He has written extensively on the abolition of nuclear weapons and the establishment of international dispute resolution mechanisms.

Rick Ulfik

Rick Ulfik

The Founder of WE, The World, and the WE Campaign

Rick Ulfik is the founder of We, The World, an international coalition-building organization whose Mission is to maximize social change globally. He and his organization work closely with the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication, where he has been a facilitator since 2004. He is also the co-creator of the annual 11 Days of Global Unity - 11 Ways to Change the World, September 11-21.

He is an award-winning composer and keyboard player who has written, arranged, produced and orchestrated music for television networks, feature films, commercials, and albums. He has performed with Queen Latifah, Phoebe Snow, Carlos Santana, Bernadette Peters, and Judy Collins.

John Stowe


John Stowe is the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. He is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, a mendicant religious order founded by Francis of Assisi. In 2015, Pope Francis appointed Stowe bishop of the Diocese of Lexington. He is the Episcopal President of the U.S. board of Pax Christi, an international Catholic Christian peace movement with a focus on human rights, disarmament, nonviolence, and related issues.

Barbara Smith

Author, Activist, and Scholar

Barbara Smith has played a significant role in Black feminism in the U.S. for more than 50 years. She taught at numerous colleges and universities for 25 years and has been published in a wide range of publications including The New York Times Book ReviewMs.Gay Community NewsThe Village Voice, and The Nation.

Among her many honors are the African American Policy Forum Harriet Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Stonewall Award for Service to the Lesbian and Gay Community. In 2014, SUNY Press published Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith.

William J. Ripple

Conservationist, Author, and Professor

William J. Ripple is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. He has published two books and has authored more than 200 scientific journal articles on topics including conservation, ecology, wildlife, and climate change. He was the co-lead author on the 2020 paper “The World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” which was endorsed by more than 14,000 scientist signatories from around the world. He is the director of the Alliance of World Scientists, which has approximately 26,000 scientist members from 180 countries.

Mark Ritchie

President, Global Minnesota

Mark Ritchie is president of Global Minnesota, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to advancing international understanding and engagement. He served as Minnesota secretary of state from 2007 to 2015. Since leaving elected public service, he has led the public-private partnership working to bring the 2027 World Expo to Minnesota and he has served on the board of directors for LifeSource, Communicating for America, U.S. Vote Foundation, and Expo USA. He is also a national advisory board member of the federal Election Assistance Commission.

Kim Stanley Robinson


Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of many works of science fiction, including the internationally bestselling Mars trilogy, and more recently Red Moon, New York 2140, and The Ministry for the Future. His work has been translated into 25 languages, and won awards including the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. In 2016, asteroid 72432 was named “Kimrobinson.”

Leila Nadya Sadat

Special Advisor to the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Professor, Author

Leila Sadat is the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law at Washington University School of Law and the director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute. She is an internationally recognized expert on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and served as Special Advisor on Crimes Against Humanity to Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the ICC. She is also the director of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, a multi-year project to study the problem of crimes against humanity and draft a comprehensive convention addressing their punishment and prevention. She is a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, served as the Alexis de Tocqueville Distinguished Fulbright Chair at the University of Cergy-Pontoise in Paris, and is the author of several books.

Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

Actor, Activist, and Leader

Martin Sheen is an Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe Award-winning actor who has worked with directors including Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone, in addition to starring as the U.S. president on the long-running television drama “The West Wing.” In his early days as a struggling actor in New York, he met activist Dorothy Day, beginning his lifelong commitment to social justice.

The self-described pacifist was an early opponent of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and has been a consistent opponent of nuclear arms. As honorary mayor of Malibu, California in 1989, he declared the city a nuclear-free zone. Nearly 20 years later, Sheen was arrested during a protest at the Nevada Test Site. Sheen said in 2009 that he had been arrested 66 times for acts of civil disobedience, leading one activist to declare Sheen to have “a rap sheet almost as long as his list of film credits.”

Sheen has also been active in anti-genocide and pro-immigrant causes, as well as in the environmental movement. In 2010, he told a crowd of young people, “While acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive.” In a 1963 episode of “The Outer Limits,” he portrayed a future astronaut wearing a large breast patch that read “UE. Unified Earth.”