Climate Change, the SDGs, and My Father

Climate Change, the SDGs, and My Father

My father was always the smartest person in the room. Despite never studying medicine, he once assisted a pre-med friend in preparing for an exam entirely by recalling intricate anatomical structures from a biology course he had taken thirty years prior.

My father was also a smoker. Some of my earliest memories are my tearful pleas to him to stop, knowing, as we both did, the risks. My dad did the math and determined that he didn’t yet need to change behavior. He would coin clever phrases like “maybe I might” and “I want to want to quit.” This reticence instilled in me, from a very young age, a curiosity about what truly motivates people to change. Is it data? We had that. Is it the cries of children? We had that, too.

As I awoke earlier this week to the news that agreement had been reached in Dubai, I, like many, chose to see hope in this small step. I will work tirelessly to contribute my small portion to this great collective effort to stave off the worst consequences of climate change. Yet a question remains in my mind—to what degree can these agreements bend the curve of our behavior? How can we ensure the trajectory will be meaningfully different with this consensus having been reached?

I look to examples the international community has created to shape the behavior of governments and humanity more broadly. The Security Council, the human rights system, the sustainable development goals. Each has had an impact in its own way. A stronger enforcement mechanism like the Security Council increases legitimacy, but limits consensus. A systematic and mandatory review system, like the Universal Periodic Review, ensures oversight and greater fact-finding, but is dependent on Member State compliance for results. And an entirely voluntary system, like the Sustainable Development Goals, can inspire the masses and allow the tracking of progress. Yet for the SDGs, and based on recent reports, the curve has yet to be bent sufficiently to achieve the prosperity a bright-eyed 2015 international community hoped for.

These are all helpful in their own right. But the forces of inertia are strong. Volition and motivation are needed. 

Nowhere is this more relevant than in the case of climate agreements. Many nations which have contributed the least to climate change must respond to consequences not of their making. And those which exercise an outsized influence on the shape and direction of human affairs, for reasons of history and current priorities, are being asked to sacrifice a degree of short-term well-being of their economies for the long-term security of themselves and others. The science is clear; the issue is summoning the will to overcome the uncomfortable to achieve the necessary. In a way, these countries are my brilliant father. 

When my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer—the risk of which was increased by his smoking habit—he quit immediately. It was remarkable. But it was too late. He might have gotten cancer anyway, and it isn’t fair to place blame not knowing the alternate reality. But he certainly did not follow the rules of the precautionary principle in his behavior.

I am heartened to know that in communities around the world, action is being taken now to improve humanity’s relationship with the natural world. People are not waiting. Agreements like those reached in Dubai, in Paris, and elsewhere are important. They represent the consensus of governments, and we, as well-wishers of humanity and the planet, should encourage and expect ever higher ambition. 

Yet regardless of our opinion of the outcome in 2023, we have a responsibility to continue looking for the stores of motivation and the diversity of options for individuals, institutions, and communities to make the necessary changes in light of the mounting evidence. If any lesson is to be taken from my family, it is that waiting is not a viable option.

This article was originally published in Bahá’í International Community’s blog.

Photo credit: Baha’i International Community

Session 1: Finding Hope in the Climate-Peace-Disarmament Nexus

Session 1: Finding Hope in the Climate-Peace-Disarmament Nexus

An intergenerational dialogue on how global governance solutions can tackle existential threats

Description

This Q&A panel discussion, hosted by Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), Youth Fusion, and World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP), will consider how progress on environmental protection is hampered by armed conflict, nuclear threats, and the massive diversion of resources into weapons and war. In this webinar, we will explore the potential of common security and global governance to foster cooperation to more effectively address climate, peace, and disarmament issues. This intergenerational dialogue will bring together youthful energy and innovation with seasoned expertise and experience, actively engaging our audience to build stronger pathways to a peaceful and sustainable future.

Session I

Region: Americas/Europe/Africa/Middle East 

Date: July 13, 2023 | Time: 12:00 PM -1:30 PM EST | 1600 – 1730 UTC | 1700 London | 1800 CET | 1900  Kenya

Register for Session 1 (Zoom)

Session 1 Speakers

  • William (Bill) R. Pace (USA). Founder and Inaugural Convenor, Coalition for an International Criminal Court. Former Executive Director,  World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP). Co-founder,  International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect.
  • Kehkashan Basu MSM (UAE/Canada). Founder-President, Green Hope Foundation. United Nations Human Rights Champion. Winner, 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize. Council Member, World Future Council.  Former UNEP Global Coordinator for Children & Youth;
  • Professor Juergen Scheffran (Germany) Professor of Integrative Geography. Chair of the Research Group Climate Change and Security, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, University of Hamburg. Principal author, The Climate-Nuclear Nexus.
  • Maja Groff (Netherlands) Convenor, Climate Governance Commission. Visiting Professor/Scholar at Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University. Lecturer, Hague Academy of International Law.
  • Additional speakers to be confirmed

Co-Sponsors

3+3 Coalition for a North-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, Basel Peace Office, Citizens for Global Solutions, Climate Governance Commission, Democracia Global, Global Minnesota, Green Hope Foundation, I Am Climate Justice, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, World Federalist Movement Institute for Global Policy, World Future Council, World Service Authority, World’s Youth for Climate Justice,  Young World Federalists and Youth Fusion.

Promotional Sponsors

Peace Action and Upper Hudson Peace Action

About the Organizers 

Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-partisan membership-based organization that for more than 75 years has brought together a diverse collective of individuals and organizations with a common goal of a unified world predicated upon peace, human rights, and the rule of law. From championing ratification of the UN Charter upon our establishment in 1947 to supporting creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) 25 years ago to advocating for global instruments to confront today’s enduring challenges of war and climate degradation, CGS recognizes that true progress is a generational enterprise. We invite like-minded individuals and organizations to join us in this mission.

Youth Fusion

Youth Fusion is a world-wide networking platform for young individuals and organizations in the field of nuclear disarmament, risk-reduction and non-proliferation. We focus on youth action and intergenerational dialogue, building on the links between disarmament, peace, climate action, sustainable development and building back better from the pandemic. Our goals are clear: to inform, educate, connect and engage our fellow students, activists and enthusiasts. Through these activities, and as part of Abolition 2000 Network, we are contributing to the total abolition of nuclear weapons. 

World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP)

The World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy (WFM/IGP), established in 1947, is a non-profit organization registered in the USA and the Netherlands. Guided by its vision of a just, free, and peaceful world, WFM/IGP works to promote the rule of law and global governance of transnational issues including those related to peace, human rights, and the environment.

Our vision is a just, free, and peaceful world, where humanity and nature flourish in harmony, while our mission is to create more effective, transparent, and accountable global governance leading to democratic world federation.

Session 2: Finding Hope in the Climate-Peace-Disarmament Nexus

Session 2: Finding Hope in the Climate-Peace-Disarmament Nexus

An intergenerational dialogue on how global governance solutions can tackle existential threats

Description

This Q&A panel discussion, hosted by Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), Youth Fusion, and World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP), will consider how progress on environmental protection is hampered by armed conflict, nuclear threats, and the massive diversion of resources into weapons and war. In this webinar, we will explore the potential of common security and global governance to foster cooperation to more effectively address climate, peace, and disarmament issues. This intergenerational dialogue will bring together youthful energy and innovation with seasoned expertise and experience, actively engaging our audience to build stronger pathways to a peaceful and sustainable future.\

Session II

Region: Asia/Pacific

Date: July 20, 2023 | Time: 5:00 AM UTC  |  10:30 AM Delhi | 2:00 PM  Tokyo | 5:00 PM  Wellington | 7:00 PM Hawaii | 7:00 AM Eastern Europe | 1:00 AM EST

Register for Session 2 (Zoom)

Session II Speakers

  • Nicole Ponce (Philippines) Co-Founder and Coordinator, I am Climate Justice movement.Asia Front Coordinator, World’s Youth for Climate Justice.
  • Disha Ravi (India) Co-founder, Fridays for Future India.
  • Dr Justin Sobion LLM (Trinidad and Tobago) Legal Researcher and Teaching Assistant, NewZealand Centre for Enviornmental Law, University of Auckland. Coordinator, Earth Trusteeship Working Group. Co-editor, “Reflections on Earth Trusteeship: Mother Earth and a new 21st Century governance paragdigm.”
  • Tadashi Inuzuka (Japan) Co-President, World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy. Executive Director, 3+3 Coalition for a North-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. Former Senator for Nagasaki.
  • Augusto Lopez-Claros Executive Director, Global Governance Forum. Senior Fellow at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Former Director of the Global Indicators Group in DEC of the World Bank.
  • Additional speakers to be confirmed

Co-Sponsors

3+3 Coalition for a North-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, Basel Peace Office, Citizens for Global Solutions, Climate Governance Commission, Democracia Global, Global Minnesota, Green Hope Foundation, I Am Climate Justice, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, World Federalist Movement Institute for Global Policy, World Future Council, World Service Authority, World’s Youth for Climate Justice,  Young World Federalists and Youth Fusion.

Promotional Sponsors

Peace Action and Upper Hudson Peace Action

About the Organizers 

Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-partisan membership-based organization that for more than 75 years has brought together a diverse collective of individuals and organizations with a common goal of a unified world predicated upon peace, human rights, and the rule of law. From championing ratification of the UN Charter upon our establishment in 1947 to supporting creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) 25 years ago to advocating for global instruments to confront today’s enduring challenges of war and climate degradation, CGS recognizes that true progress is a generational enterprise. We invite like-minded individuals and organizations to join us in this mission.

Youth Fusion

Youth Fusion is a world-wide networking platform for young individuals and organizations in the field of nuclear disarmament, risk-reduction and non-proliferation. We focus on youth action and intergenerational dialogue, building on the links between disarmament, peace, climate action, sustainable development and building back better from the pandemic. Our goals are clear: to inform, educate, connect and engage our fellow students, activists and enthusiasts. Through these activities, and as part of Abolition 2000 Network, we are contributing to the total abolition of nuclear weapons. 

World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP)

The World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy (WFM/IGP), established in 1947, is a non-profit organization registered in the USA and the Netherlands. Guided by its vision of a just, free, and peaceful world, WFM/IGP works to promote the rule of law and global governance of transnational issues including those related to peace, human rights, and the environment.

Our vision is a just, free, and peaceful world, where humanity and nature flourish in harmony, while our mission is to create more effective, transparent, and accountable global governance leading to democratic world federation.

International Mother Earth Day

International Mother Earth Day

Young World Federalists

Let this Century be the Century of the Rights of Mother Earth: Strengthening Global Governance is Key to Ensuring a Sustainable Future

Washington, DC- On April 22, Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) joins the United Nations and civil society throughout the world in celebrating International Mother Earth Day. On April 22, 2009, the Bolivian government proposed a resolution that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declaring every April 22 to be International Mother Earth Day. The resolution calls for “acknowledging that the Earth and its ecosystems are our home” and “promot(ing) harmony with nature and the Earth” to adequately address our environmental, economic, and social needs.

Evo Morales, the former President of Bolivia, strongly supported the adoption of this resolution, asserting during a meeting with the UNGA that “the twenty-first century is the century of the rights of Mother Earth and of all living beings.” During his speech, President Morales also stressed the importance of four, critical rights to which Mother Earth and all life on Earth are entitled: the right to life, the right to regenerate its biodiversity, the right to live a clear life (free of pollution and toxins), and the right to “harmony and balance with and among all and everything” (recognizing the interdependence of all life on Earth.)  Furthermore, President Morales called for the incorporation of these four principles in the “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth,” which was prepared during the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, hosted in Bolivia in 2010.

CGS and Young World Federalists (YWF) unconditionally support the principles and priorities enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and we strongly believe that ensuring a sustainable future for present and future generations can only be achieved by strengthening global governance and international environmental cooperation. Ramesh Thakur, former UN Assistant Secretary-General, argues that the “global governance deficit,” or the lack of global institutions that implement, interpret, and enforce international environmental laws and treaties, is among the factors that impede meaningful international action to address the climate crisis. Furthermore, Thakur asserts that a world order based on absolute national sovereignty- where countries are not held responsible for violating their environmental commitments- is a key cause of this lack of global environmental governance since it encourages political leaders to prioritize their own political interests over the well-being of Mother Earth.

How can we foster international cooperation and bolster global governance to address the climate crisis? One possible path forward is strengthening existing global governance institutions. This includes empowering the UNGA to pass binding international resolutions driving global emissions reduction efforts, particularly on the part of high emitting countries like the US and China.

Another pathway is to support and strengthen international legal institutions’ capacity to hold perpetrators accountable for environmental crimes. The Rome Statute, the foundational treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), notably includes environmental destruction within the definition of war crimes [Art 8.2(b)(iv)].Beginning in 2016, the Court announced that it would begin “considering cases involving environmental destruction, misuse of land, and land grabs as crimes against humanity.” The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) also has communicated its intent “to cooperate and provide assistance to States, upon request, with respect to conduct which constitutes a serious crime under national law, such as . . . destruction of the environment.” Despite these notable steps, there are increasing calls to include “the crime of ecocide” as a stand-alone crime via amendment to the Rome Statute. To this end, the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide, convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundationformulated a draft definition of the crime, which would place ecocide on equal footing with the four crimes within the Court’s current jurisdiction: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

Establishing the international crime of ecocide also is a key recommendation of the Environmental Governance track of the Global Futures Forum (GFF), a civil society-led conference last March which convened hundreds of NGOs and individuals from around the world to further civil society and youth input in the Summit of the Future.

An additional environmental governance recommendation from the GFF is to encourage the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to more frequently address environmental issues. While the ICJ has heard cases touching on environmental matters, beginning with the notable Nicaragua v. Costa Rica judgment (holding that Nicaragua had a duty to compensate Costa Rica for “major environmental damages to its territory,” the Court has yet to deploy a powerful potential tool for environmental justice: Currently, the ICJ’s Chamber for Environmental Matters, established in 1993, has still not heard an environmental case due in part to states’ reluctance to classify a dispute  as  essentially “environmental” in nature.Furthermore, a UNGA resolution last month, sponsored by Vanuatu – an  island country that has disproportionately experienced the effects of the climate crisis – could signify a decisive turning point regarding the ICJ’s involvement in environmental matters. Specifically, the resolution empowers the UNGA to seek ICJ adjudication in cases concerning countries’ commitments to address climate change and where countries intentionally or negligently cause environmental degradation that affects other countries’ environmental well-being, especially nations that are most vulnerable to climate change, like island countries.

Promoting meaningful international climate action may also require creating new global governance institutions, such as an International Court for the Environment. Experts have proposed a “Climate Club” that would establish a single international target carbon price and sanction non compliant countries and countries that do not participate. Furthermore, the Environmental Governance track of the GFF called for the establishment of an “Earth Governance Regulatory Body,” which would pursue a global Decarbonization Agenda to promote a just transition to a more sustainable economy.

We at CGS and YWF are confident that the 21st century will be, as Evo Morales declared, “the century of the rights of Mother Earth and of all living beings.” Yet ensuring a sustainable future for all who call Mother Earth their home will require unprecedented, yet necessary, international action to address the climate crisis. And that starts with strengthening global environmental governance.

“Earth Day cannot be a moment for reflection alone. It must compel action. As Wendell Berry cogently stated ‘the Earth is all we have in common.’ It is our shared responsibility as a global family to embrace the theme of 2023 Earth Day and invest in our planet.” – Rebecca A. Shoot, Executive Director, Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS)

About Citizens for Global Solutions & Young World Federalists

Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-partisan membership-based organization that for more than 75 years has brought together a diverse collective of individuals and organizations with a common goal of a unified world predicated upon peace, human rights, and the rule of law. From championing ratification of the UN Charter upon our establishment in 1947 to supporting creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) 25 years ago to advocating for global instruments to confront today’s enduring challenges of war and climate degradation, CGS recognizes that true progress is a generational enterprise. We invite like-minded individuals and organizations to join us in this mission.

The Young World Federalists (YWF) are a global movement fighting to give humanity a voice. We envision a sustainable, just, and peaceful world through a democratic world federation. A world run by humanity, for humanity, providing equal opportunity to all on a thriving planet. YWF is currently engaged in a #SaveEarth campaign, which is focused on prosecuting crimes against the environment, taking effective action on climate change, and building a sustainable economy.

Contact: Rebecca Shoot outreach@globalsolutions.org

Global Challenges Require Global Solutions: How We Can Prevent A Complete Climate Catastrophe

Global Challenges Require Global Solutions: How We Can Prevent A Complete Climate Catastrophe

When it comes to the climate crisis, we are running out of time.

In 1994, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change  established the Conference of the Parties (COP) to encourage UN member states to meet annually to discuss scientific data and technological advances related to climate change and implement international environmental agreements. Despite the global interest in addressing climate change, the next 29 years would be characterized by lukewarm international efforts to divert a climate catastrophe. In line with this record, the recent COP27 hosted by Egypt failed to secure cooperation on key issues and induce the necessary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the earliest international environmental treaties was the Montreal Protocol of 1987. The Montreal Protocol was a success because all 197 UN member states ratified the treaty and it effectively coordinated international efforts to eradicate about 99 percent of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). One major reason behind its success was that it established a “Multilateral Fund” to provide financial backing to countries, especially those who were not meeting their goals. It also prioritized the concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities” by giving developing countries more time to eliminate their production of ODS.

The Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force in 2005, was the first “legally binding” climate treaty that aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, it was not successful because the United States never ratified it and China was not required to commit to stringent emissions reduction targets. As this treaty required real economic sacrifices from industrialized countries, it was unable to effectively coordinate international efforts.

The most comprehensive environmental treaty to date was the Paris Agreement of 2015. The Paris Accords required all UN member states to commit to containing average global temperature increases to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures through setting nationally determined contributions (NDCs). However, this unenforceable agreement was vulnerable to the vicissitudes of domestic politics that led countries to renege on their climate commitments or abandon the treaty altogether, as the United States did under President Donald Trump. Consequently, most climate change experts say that countries’ emissions reduction plans are not sufficient and will not be executed quickly enough to contain temperature increases to 1.5°C.

What lies behind the failure of international climate treaties to secure meaningful action?

One factor is the disagreement between industrialized and developing nations over which should bear most of the burden for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Wealthy countries like the United States and Britain have contributed the most to cumulative emissions by normalizing environmentally unsustainable overconsumption. Beginning with the Industrial Revolutions, emissions stemming from the manufacturing of goods in European countries, supplied with raw materials from their colonies in Africa, South America, and Asia, skyrocketed. Industrializing countries like China and formerly colonized nations like India argue that, given the economic wealth and technological advancements acquired by others through industrialization and colonization, the wealthiest countries are the best equipped financially and technologically to lead efforts to address the climate crisis. They insist that demands to cut back on their own emissions are unreasonable, given their minor role in causing the current crisis, and that reducing their emissions will temporarily stifle the economic growth that wealthier countries have enjoyed.

Furthermore, the lack of global institutions that enact, interpret, and enforce international environmental laws and treaties seriously hinders coordinated international action. This “global governance deficit” lies at the root of international environmental treaties’ inability to catalyze collective action and hold countries to their climate commitments. A world order based on absolute national sovereignty therefore sacrifices a sustainable world future at the altar of national sovereignty and national political considerations.

To address these challenges, the world urgently needs international legal action that goes beyond the nation-state status quo. The UN General Assembly could be reformed to pass legally binding and enforceable resolutions through a voting process that also takes into account factors like population. The General Assembly could then pass binding resolutions requiring industrialized and high emitting countries like the United States and China to spearhead emissions reduction efforts and establish ecocide law to make environmental destruction an international criminal act, prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. Building an enforcement mechanism into international environmental treaties would mitigate our current climate crisis.

Promoting meaningful international climate action may also require creating new global governance institutions, such as an International Court for the Environment. Experts have proposed a “Climate Club” that would establish a single international target carbon price and sanction noncompliant countries and countries that do not participate.

In today’s warming world, the stakes have never been higher. To prevent an irreversible chain reaction of climate catastrophe, we must marshal our scientific acumen, political will, and technological prowess on a global scale to contain global temperature rise. Doing so will require addressing the politics of climate change policy within and among countries and the current ineffective system of global environmental governance, including its unenforceable international treaties.

The path forward will not be easy, for it will require unprecedented grassroots mobilization and political courage. But the task isn’t impossible. The far-sighted individuals who gathered in San Francisco to create the United Nations knew the difficulties that awaited them, but never surrendered to pessimism, hopelessness, or cowardice. They appreciated that the survival of humankind largely depended on their determination to forge a new path forward for international governance. We must do the same now with respect to the climate crisis, embracing effective global environmental governance and cooperation. The survival of 8 billion humans and all other species on our beloved Earth hinges on our success.

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 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

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.”