Two Ways That the Ukraine War Could Have Been Prevented and Might Still Be Ended

Two Ways That the Ukraine War Could Have Been Prevented and Might Still Be Ended

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the immensely destructive Ukraine War lies in the fact that it could have been averted.

The most obvious way was for the Russian government to abandon its plan for the military conquest of Ukraine.

The Problem of Russian Policy

The problem on this score, though, was that Vladimir Putin was determined to revive Russia’s “great power” status.  Although his predecessors had signed the UN Charter (which prohibits the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”), as well as the Budapest Memorandum and the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership (both of which specifically committed the Russian government to respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity), Putin was an ambitious ruler, determined to restore what he considered Russia’s imperial grandeur.

This approach led not only to Russian military intervention in Middle Eastern and African nations, but to retaking control of nations previously dominated by Russia.  These nations included Ukraine, which Putin regarded, contrary to history and international agreements, as “Russian land.”

As a result, what began in 2014 as the Russian military seizure of Crimea and the arming of a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine gradually evolved into the full-scale invasion of February 2022―the largest, most devastating military operation in Europe since World War II, with the potential for the catastrophic explosion of the giant Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and even the outbreak of nuclear war.

The official justifications for these acts of aggression, trumpeted by the Kremlin and its apologists, were quite flimsy.  Prominent among them was the claim that Ukraine’s accession to NATO posed an existential danger to Russia.  In fact, though, in 2014―or even in 2022―Ukraine was unlikely to join NATO because key NATO members opposed its admission.  Also, NATO, founded in 1949, had never started a war with Russia and had never shown any intention of doing so.

The reality was that, like the U.S. invasion of Iraq nearly two decades before, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was out of line with both international law and the imperatives of national security.  It was a war of choice organized by a power-hungry ruler.

The Problem of UN Weakness

On a deeper level, the war was avoidable because the United Nations, established to guarantee peace and international security, did not take the action necessary to stop the war from occurring or to end it.

Admittedly, the United Nations did repeatedly condemn the Russian invasion, occupation, and annexation of Ukraine.  On March 27, 2014, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution by a vote of 100 nations to 11 (with 58 abstentions), denouncing the Russian military seizure and annexation of Crimea.  On March 2, 2022, by a vote of 141 nations to 5 (with 35 abstentions), it called for the immediate and complete withdrawal of Russian military forces from Ukraine.  In a ruling on the legality of the Russian invasion, the International Court of Justice, by a vote of 13 to 2, proclaimed that Russia should immediately suspend its invasion of Ukraine.  That fall, when Russia began annexing the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, the UN Secretary-General denounced that action as flouting “the purposes and principles of the United Nations,” while the UN General Assembly, by a vote of 143 nations to 5 (with 35 abstentions), called on all countries to refuse to recognize Russia’s “illegal annexation” of Ukrainian land.


Tragically, this principled defense of international law was not accompanied by measures to enforce it.  At meetings of the UN Security Council, the UN entity tasked with maintaining peace, the Russian government simply vetoed UN action.  Nor did the UN General Assembly circumvent the Security Council’s paralysis by acting on its own.  Instead, the United Nations showed itself well-meaning but ineffectual.

This weakness on matters of international security was not accidental.  Nations―and particularly powerful nations―had long preferred to keep international organizations weak, for the creation of stronger international institutions would curb their own influence.  Naturally, then, they saw to it that the UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations, could act on international security issues only by a unanimous vote of its membership.  And even this constricted authority proved too much for the U.S. government, which refused to join the League.  Similarly, when the United Nations was formed, the five permanent seats on the UN Security Council were given to five great powers, each of which could, and often did, veto its resolutions.

During the Ukraine War, Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky publicly lamented this inability of the United Nations to enforce its mandate.  “The wars of the past have prompted our predecessors to create institutions that should protect us from war,” he remarked in March 2022, “but they unfortunately don’t work.”  In this context, he called for the creation of “a union of responsible countries . . . to stop conflicts” and to “keep the peace.”

What Still Might Be Done

The need to strengthen the United Nations and, thereby, enable it to keep the peace, has been widely recognized.  To secure this goal, proposals have been made over the years to emphasize UN preventive diplomacy and to reform the UN Security Council.  More recently, UN reformers have championed deploying UN staff (including senior mediators) rapidly to conflict zones, expanding the Security Council, and drawing upon the General Assembly for action when the Security Council fails to act.  These and other reform measures could be addressed by the world organization’s Summit for the Future, planned for 2024.

In the meantime, it remains possible that the Ukraine War might come to an end through related action.  One possibility is that the Russian government will conclude that its military conquest of Ukraine has become too costly in terms of lives, resources, and internal stability to continue.  Another is that the countries of the world, fed up with disastrous wars, will finally empower the United Nations to safeguard international peace and security.  Either or both would be welcomed by people in Ukraine and around the globe.

Imperialist Wars—And What Could Be Done About Them

Imperialist Wars—And What Could Be Done About Them

Although all wars are not imperialist wars, it is remarkable how many imperial conquests have occurred over past centuries.

Mobilizing their military forces, powerful states and, later, nations carved out vast empires at the expense of weaker or less warlike societies.  Some of the largest and best-known empires to emerge over the millennia were the Persian, the Chinese, the Mongol, the Ottoman, the Russian, the Spanish, and the British.

The standard policy for these and other empires was to absorb new, conquered lands into their domains, either as parts of the mother country or as colonies.  In the eighteenth century, the British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese empires used their military muscle to seize substantial portions of the Western Hemisphere from the native inhabitants.  During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, imperial conquest accelerated rapidly around the world.  By 1913 almost all of Africa had been colonized by European powers, while Imperial Russia, having annexed its neighbors, had become the world’s largest nation.  Asia, too, had fallen largely under foreign domination.  Meanwhile, the United States, established by a thin string of colonies along the Atlantic coast of North America, expanded across the continent to the Pacific, mostly thanks to successful wars against Mexico and Indian nations.  Thereafter it moved on to colonize Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

Rising Resistance to Imperialist Wars

But imperialist conquests didn’t sit well with the emerging democratic spirit of the early twentieth century.  They didn’t sit well with the rising socialist movement that denounced imperialism as a tool of the ruling class.  They didn’t sit well with subject nationality groups and nations that were beginning to demand national self-determination and independence.

Consequently, as the horrors of World War I engulfed large portions of the globe and as war-weary soldiers and the public turned increasingly against imperialist war aims, government leaders adapted to the new mood.  Having, belatedly, brought the United States into an alliance with Britain and France in their war against the Central Powers, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued his Fourteen Points in January 1918.  This document promised no secret imperialist treaties, an adjustment of colonial claims, and a League of Nations to guarantee “political independence and territorial integrity to great and small States alike.”  The Fourteen Points evoked an enthusiastic response, including from the young Ho Chi Minh, who turned up at the 1919 Versailles peace conference to press for Vietnam’s independence from French colonial rule.

In many ways, the Versailles peace settlement proved a failure.  The promised “self-determination” was limited to Europe, and although the League did establish a “mandate” system to prepare colonies elsewhere for independence, it merely shifted their rulers from the Central Powers to the war’s victors.  Moreover, the rising fascist nations—Germany, Italy, and Japan—threw off even a pretense of favoring decolonization and launched imperialist wars in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Important Breakthroughs and Setbacks After World War II

Ultimately, it took World War II to shatter the old colonial system.  In its aftermath, the imperial powers gradually abandoned their colonial rule in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  In some cases (for example, in Indonesia, Algeria, and Vietnam), they were driven out by anti-colonial revolutions.  More often, however, internal agitation for independence and external pressure by the United Nations led to the advent of self-government, after 1945, in most of the former 80 colonies.

Even so, as the old-style imperialism crumbled, a newer model—replacing outright colonialism with political control through occasional military intervention—arose during the Cold War.  For the most part, this new imperialism was practiced by the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan and by the United States in Latin America, and Vietnam.  With the end of the Cold War, however, even the new imperialism declined.

Therefore, it came as a shock when, this February, the Russian government, having formally recognized Ukraine’s independence in 1994, launched an old-fashioned imperialist war against that nation.  Only a few days before the invasion, Vladimir Putin issued a proclamation denying Ukraine’s right to an independent existence and claiming that Ukraine was “Russian land.”  Not surprisingly, the UN General Assembly condemned the invasion by a vote of 141 to 5.

Although Putin justified the military assault by claiming that Ukraine’s membership in NATO would provide an existential threat to Russia, that membership was not at all imminent when the invasion occurred.  A month later, when President Zelensky offered to have his nation remain neutral in exchange for a Russian withdrawal from Ukraine, Putin ignored the offer.  In May, when Finland and Sweden, horrified by the Russian invasion, announced plans to join NATO, Putin failed to halt it.  Instead, this October, Russia annexed about a sixth of Ukraine’s territory.  Nor has Putin ever renounced gobbling up the rest of Ukraine.

Stopping Imperialist Aggression

Can anything be done to bring an end to imperialist wars?

Yes, several things could be done.  One that has been effective on some occasions is to mobilize an anti-imperialist movement in the aggressor nation and elsewhere.  Another that has worked is for the colonized to militarily resist the imperialist power―although, of course, the human cost can be enormous.  Furthermore, the international community can roundly condemn imperialist wars and refuse to recognize territorial annexations that flow from them.

Ultimately, though, the world needs a strengthened international security system that will reject both the old and the new imperialism.  In some ways, the United Nations already provides this framework through the UN Charter, the power to levy economic sanctions, and a structure for the mediation of conflicts.  Even so, the world organization is not yet strong enough to wipe out the vestiges of imperialist aggression.  No single country―and certainly not the imperial nations of the past―has the credibility and power to tackle this project alone.  But the world community might just possess enough wisdom and determination to finish the job it began a century ago.

China, Russia, And The Bomb

China, Russia, And The Bomb

Even international alliances can unravel when nations confront the insanity of a nuclear holocaust.

An illustration of this point occurred recently, after Vladimir Putin once again threatened Ukraine and other nations with nuclear war.  “To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all weapons resources at our disposal,” the Russian president said.  “This is not a bluff.”  In response to this statement and to sharp UN condemnation of Russian nuclear threats, Chinese president Xi Jinping issued a public statement early this November, assailing “the use of, or threats to use nuclear weapons.”  To “prevent a nuclear crisis” in Europe or Asia, he insisted, the world should “advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used” and “a nuclear war cannot be waged.”

Aren’t these two nuclear-armed nations currently aligned in their resistance to U.S. foreign policy?  Yes, they are, and when it came to Putin’s war upon Ukraine, Xi refrained from suggesting a Russian withdrawal.  But nuclear war, as the Chinese leader made clear, was simply not acceptable.

This was not the first time a Russian-Chinese alliance was ruffled by a dispute over the use of nuclear weapons.  An even deeper conflict occurred during the late 1950s and early 1960s when, ironically, the roles of the two nations were exactly the reverse.

At that time, the Chinese government, led by Mao Zedong, was embarked on a crash program to develop nuclear weapons.  In October 1957, China’s weapons program secured a major gain when the Russian and Chinese governments signed the New Defense Technical Accord, in which the Russians agreed to supplementing the nuclear assistance they had already provided to the Chinese by supplying them with a prototype atomic bomb, missiles, and useful technical data.

But Russian officials soon had reason to doubt the wisdom of assisting China’s nuclear weapons development program.  As Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev recalled, the following month, at a Moscow conclave of Communist party leaders from around the world, Mao gave a speech on nuclear war that startled those in attendance.  According to the Soviet leader, the “gist” of Mao’s speech was:  “We shouldn’t fear war.  We shouldn’t be afraid of atomic bombs and missiles.  No matter what kind of war breaks out―conventional or thermonuclear―we’ll win.”  When it came to China, Mao reportedly said, “we may lose more than three hundred million people.  So what?  War is war.  The years will pass, and we’ll get to work producing more babies than ever before.”

Khrushchev found Mao’s remarks “deeply disturbing,” and recalled with irritation:  “Everybody except Mao was thinking about how to avoid war.  Our principal slogan was ‘On with the Struggle for Peace and Peaceful Coexistence.’ Yet here came Mao . . . saying we shouldn’t be afraid of war.’  In early 1958, as Soviet doubts increased about the reliability of China’s leadership in dealing with nuclear weapons, Khrushchev decided to postpone shipment of the prototype atomic bomb to China.

Eventually, the Soviet government not only withdrew its assistance to the Chinese nuclear weapons program in 1960, but took steps that placed the Soviet Union at loggerheads with the Chinese leadership.  Key among these steps was working out an agreement on a nuclear test ban treaty with the governments of the United States and Britain—an agreement that, in part, was designed to block the ability of China to become a nuclear power.  This Soviet shift toward a nuclear arms control and disarmament treaty with the West was bitterly opposed by China’s rulers, who were determined to develop nuclear weapons and, by 1964, succeeded in doing so.  Meanwhile, the Sino-Soviet rift grew ever more heated, with the Chinese pulling out of the Soviet-dominated World Peace Council and ferociously competing with the Russians for leadership of the world Communist movement.

There are some lessons that can be learned from these incidents, in which major powers displayed signs of veering toward nuclear war.  The obvious one is that even military allies might balk, at times, when they see an international confrontation slipping toward a nuclear disaster.  Another, less evident, is that nations with access to nuclear weapons are not necessarily restrained from threatening or waging nuclear war by the prospect of nuclear retaliation from other nuclear powers.  Or, to put it another way, nuclear deterrence is unreliable.  Above all, these events and others underscore the fact that, while nuclear weapons exist, the world remains in peril.

Fortunately, abolishing nuclear weapons before they destroy the world is not an utterly utopian prospect.  Thanks to popular pressure and disarmament treaties, the number of nuclear weapons around the globe has been reduced since 1986 from about 70,000 to 12,700.  Moreover, a UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, crafted and approved by an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations, went into effect in January 2021.

Unfortunately, none of the world’s nine nuclear powers has signed or ratified this nuclear weapons abolition treaty.  Until they do so and, therefore, stop producing, stockpiling, and distributing nuclear weapons to other countries, the world will continue to live in a state of nuclear peril, subject only to occasional flashes of sanity by these same nuclear-armed nations.

Surely, people around the world deserve a better future.

There Is An Alternative To War

There Is An Alternative To War

The war in Ukraine provides us with yet another opportunity to consider what might be done about the wars that continue to ravage the world.

The current Russian war of aggression is particularly horrific, featuring a massive military invasion of a smaller, weaker nation, threats of nuclear warwidespread war crimes, and imperial annexation.  But, alas, this terrible war is but one small part of a history of violent conflict that has characterized thousands of years of human existence.

Is there really no alternative to this primitive and immensely destructive behavior?

Failed Alternatives

One alternative, which has long been embraced by governments, is to build up a nation’s military might to such an extent that it secures what its proponents call “Peace through Strength.”  But this policy has severe limitations.  A military buildup by one nation is perceived by other nations as a danger to their security.  As a result, they usually respond to the perceived threat by strengthening their own armed forces and forming military alliances.  In this situation, an escalating atmosphere of fear develops that often leads to war.

Actually, governments are not entirely wrong about their perception of danger, for nations with great military power really do bully and invade weaker countries.  Furthermore, they wage wars against one another.  These sad facts are not only demonstrated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but by the past behavior of other “great powers,” including Spain, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, China, and the United States.

If military strength brought peace, war would not have raged over the centuries or, for that matter, be raging today.

Another war-avoidance policy that governments have turned to on occasion is isolation, or, as its proponents sometimes say, “minding one’s own business.”  Sometimes, of course, isolationism does keep an individual nation free from the horrors of a war engaged in by other nations.  But, of course, it does nothing to stop the war—a war that, ironically, might end up engulfing that nation anyway.  Also, of course, if the war is won by an aggressive, expansionist power or one grown arrogant thanks to its military victory, the isolated nation might be next on the victor’s agenda.  In this fashion, short-term safety is purchased at the price of longer-term insecurity and conquest.

The More Promising Alternative

Fortunately, there is a third alternative―one that major thinkers and even, at times, national governments have promoted.  And that is strengthened global governance.  The great advantage of global governance is its replacement of international anarchy with international law. What this means is that, instead of a world in which each nation looks exclusively after its own interests―and thus, inevitably, ends up in competition and, eventually, conflict with other nations―there would be a world structured around international cooperation, presided over by a government chosen by the people of all nations.  If this sounds a bit like the United Nations, that is because, in 1945, toward the end of the most destructive war in human history, the world organization was created with something like that in mind.

Unlike “peace through strength” and isolationism, the jury is still out when it comes to the usefulness of the United Nations along these lines.  Yes, it has managed to pull the nations of the world together to discuss global issues and to create global treaties and rules, as well to avert or end many international conflicts and to use UN peacekeeping forces to separate groups engaged in violent conflict.  It has also sparked global action for social justice, environmental sustainability, world health, and economic advance.  On the other hand, the United Nations has not been as effective as it should be, especially when it comes to fostering disarmament and ending war.  All too often the international organization remains no more than a lonely voice for global sanity in a world dominated by powerful, war-making nations.

The logical conclusion is that, if we want the development of a more peaceful world, the United Nations should be strengthened.

How the United Nations Could Be Strengthened

One of the most useful measures that could be taken would be to reform the UN Security Council.  As things now stand, any one of its five permanent members (the United States, China, Russia, Britain, and France) can veto UN action for peace.  And this is often what they do, enabling Russia, for example, to block Security Council action to end to its invasion of Ukraine.  Wouldn’t it make sense to scrap the veto, or change the permanent members, or develop a rotating membership, or simply abolish the Security Council and turn over action for peace to the UN General Assembly―an entity that, unlike the Security Council, represents virtually all nations of the world?

Other measures to strengthen the United Nations are not hard to imagine.  The world organization could be provided with taxing power, thus freeing it from the necessity for begging nations to cover its expenses. It could be democratized with a world parliament representing people rather than their governments.  It could be bolstered with the tools to go beyond creating international law to actually enforcing it.  Overall, the United Nations could be transformed from the weak confederation of nations that currently exists into a more cohesive federation of nations―a federation that would deal with international issues while individual nations would deal with their own domestic issues.

Against a backdrop of thousands of years of bloody wars and the ever-present danger of a nuclear holocaust, hasn’t the time arrived to dispense with international anarchy and create a governed world?

Anthony Vance

Anthony Vance

Senior Representative, Bahá'ís of the U.S. Office of Public Affairs

Anthony oversees the development of the Bahá'ís of the United States Office of Public Affairs programs and strategic direction. He joined the office in 2010 after spending four years at the Baháʼí World Center in Haifa, Israel representing it to the diplomatic community, civil society, and parts of the host government. A lawyer by training, he spent 21 years in the U.S. Agency for International Development in legal and managerial positions in Washington, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Botswana, and Egypt. Anthony holds a B.A. in Economics, an MBA, and a J.D. from Harvard University.

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

President

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

Ecologist

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

Bishop

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 Chair of Minnesota's World Fair Bid Committee Educational Fund. From 2019 - 2022 he served as president of Global Minnesota, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to advancing international understanding and engagement. Ritchie was Minnesota's elected Secretary of State from 2007 to 2015. Since leaving elected public service, he has led the public-private partnership working to bring a world exposition (World's Fair) 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, where he serves as National Secretary.

 

Kim Stanley Robinson

Author

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.”