Mondial Article (Winter 2023)

For Oppenheimer, a World Government Was the Only Way to Save Us From Ourselves

Jane Shevtsov

Jane Shevtsov

Ecologist and board member of the Citizens for Global Solutions. She teaches math for life sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Tad Daley

Tad Daley

Served as a coauthor, speechwriter, or advisor to five members of the United States Congress, including the late U.S. Senator Alan Cranston and the late U.S. Senator Harris Wofford. He also served for several years as a member of the International Policy Department at the RAND Corporation.

Blink and you’ll miss it.

In a scene in the new Oppenheimer film set right after the successful 1949 atomic bomb test by the USSR, there is a brief exchange between the film’s two main antagonists. Lewis Strauss, chair of the Atomic Energy Commission, asks Robert Oppenheimer what he thinks should be done now. “International control,” Oppenheimer immediately replies.

“You mean world government?” Strauss fires back.

It sounds like a throwaway line, or one of those accusations routinely hurled at those trying to make global institutions marginally more effective. But in this case, Chairman Strauss’ epithet was spot on.

The tremendous destruction of World War II, even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, prompted a radical rethinking of the world political order. In particular, the idea of world government as the solution to the problem of war was placed front and center in this country’s foreign policy debate, and argued about passionately in diners, dorm rooms, and dinner parties all across the land. Unfortunately, however, the legions of moviegoers who buy tickets to Christopher Nolan’s otherwise excellent film this summer will have no idea that one of the leading proponents of that singular idea was J. Robert Oppenheimer.

After the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Oppenheimer threw himself into working to control nuclear weapons. Like other atomic scientists, he was fully aware that the Soviet Union would likely develop its own atom bombs in just a few years, and that time was short to prevent an unrestrained nuclear arms race. The movie refers to his activities as working for “international cooperation.” But his actual ideas were much deeper and more radical than those anodyne words imply.

In 1946, Oppenheimer participated in the development of a report for the Secretary of State’s Committee on Atomic Energy about what might be done to control nuclear weapons. The report, which became known as the Acheson-Lilienthal report but which was authored chiefly by Oppenheimer himself, proposed an international Atomic Development Agency that would have the sole right to mine and process uranium and to run reactors of any kind. This was a radical proposal, but, as its authors explained, they could see no alternative.

In June 1946, Oppenheimer published an article in The New York Times Magazine explaining the proposal to the public. The article discussed the relationship between peaceful and military uses of atomic energy, evaluated a couple of other ideas for controlling atomic weapons, and then discussed the proposed Atomic Development Agency.

It is here, in a section entitled “Sovereignty,” that we come across a striking passage:

“Many have said that without world government there could be no permanent peace, and without peace there would be atomic warfare. I think one must agree with this. Many have said that there could be no outlawry of weapons and no prevention of war unless international law could apply to the citizens of nations, as federal law does to citizens of states, or we have made manifest the fact that international control is not compatible with absolute national sovereignty. I think one must agree with this.”

Similarly, in a January 1948 article for Foreign Affairs magazine, Oppenheimer wrote:

“It is quite clear that in this field we would like to see patterns established which, if they were more generally extended, would constitute some of the most vital elements of a new international law: patterns not unrelated to the ideals which more generally and eloquently are expressed by the advocates of world government.”

From the vantage point of 2023, the remarkable thing about these passages is the apparent assumption that the reader is familiar with the idea of world government, and arguments for and against it, to the point where they can just be mentioned without explanation or elaboration. And for much of the public for much of the 1940s, this was probably true — as remarkable as it might seem to us today, when this notion is entirely absent from the international affairs debate.

Even before the end of the war, world government advocacy had become a prominent feature of the political conversation in America. In 1943, the businessman and Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie published a book called One World. The book sold 1.5 million copies in the four months following its release and played a key role in a blossoming of world federation advocacy — long before virtually anyone had heard of anything like an atomic bomb. To choose but one example, an organization known as the Student Federalists, founded in 1942 by a charismatic 16-year- old boy named Harris Wofford, over the next several years formed 367 chapters on high school and college campuses around the country. Mr. Wofford went on to become a U.S. senator and a key civil rights aide in the White House of President John F. Kennedy.

Then in 1945, just a few months before the Trinity test, came Emery Reves’ The Anatomy of Peace. While Willkie’s book was a travelogue describing his voyage around the world, Reves’ was an extended logical argument that only law could create peace and only a world federation — a union of nations with a government taking care of issues that could not be handled at the national level — could create meaningful law that applied to individuals rather than governments. Indeed, Oppenheimer’s passage above could have easily been a summary of Reves’ book.

It wasn’t just books. Beloved children’s book author and New Yorker editor E. B. White devoted a great many of his editorials to the problem of global anarchy. These were later collected and published in a book called The Wild Flag: Editorials From The New Yorker on Federal World Government and Other Matters. Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins, upon reading about Hiroshima, wrote a lengthy editorial for his magazine titled “Modern Man is Obsolete,” that passionately argued for immediate democratic world federation. “There is no need to talk of the difficulties in the way of world government,” wrote Cousins. “There is need only to ask if we can afford to do without it.”

In a similar vein Walter Lippmann, a founder of both The New Republic magazine and the Council on Foreign Relations, and a key player later in the Cuban Missile Crisis, wrote in 1946: “There are few in any country who now believe that war can be regulated or outlawed by the ordinary treaties among sovereign states… no one can prove what will be the legislative, executive, and judicial organs of the world state… but there are ideas that shake the world, such as the ideal of the union of mankind under universal law.”

Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer in a posed photograph at the Institute for Advanced Study (1950).

Albert Einstein, founding member of the World Federalist Association, with Robert Oppenheimer at the Institute for Advanced Study. Image courtesy of US Govt. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Even General Hap Arnold, the only U.S. Air Force officer ever to hold the rank of five stars and founder of the RAND Corporation, said in 1946: “The greatest need facing the world today is for international control of the human forces that make for war.” The atom bomb, he declared, presents “a tremendous argument for a world organization that will eliminate conflict… We must make an end to all wars for good.”

And before the end of the decade, more than 50,000 Americans had joined the United World Federalists (UWF) — led for three years by a bright young man named Alan Cranston, who went on to serve as a four-term U.S. Senator from California. UWF has continued its operations to this very day and is now known as Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS).

A number of physicists also came to support world federation. “Conflicts in interest between great powers can be expected to arise in the future… and there is no world authority in existence that can adjudicate the case and enforce the decision,” said Leo Szilard, who first conceived the nuclear chain reaction. But humanity had at its disposal, he insisted, “the solution of the problem of permanent peace… the issue that we have to face is not whether we can create a world government… [but] whether we can have such a world government without going through a third world war.”

Even Edward Teller, accurately portrayed in the Oppenheimer film as pushing for the development of the immensely more destructive hydrogen bombs and eventually undercutting his colleague at the security hearings, appeared to embrace the idea! In 1948, he discussed the “Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution,” written by a committee of eminent scholars chaired by the chancellor of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins, and aimed at establishing a “Federal Republic of the World.” And Teller said about this enterprise: “[America’s] present necessary task of opposing Russia should not cause us to forget that in the long run we cannot win by working against something. Instead we must work for something. We must work for World Government.”

But the most prominent and most active proponent of world government among scientists was Albert Einstein himself. He had always opposed nationalism, and supporting world federation was a natural extension. Einstein wrote articles, gave interviews, and helped found the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists. The Student Federalists of Princeton, New Jersey, held meetings in his living room. And he served as the founding advisory board chair of the UWF.

The type of world government that Einstein promoted would exclusively have power over security issues and a few internal circumstances that could lead to war. But this kind of limited world government was a must. “A new kind of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels,” he said. “Often in evolutionary processes a species must adapt to new conditions in order to survive… In light of new knowledge… an eventual world state is not just desirable in the name of brotherhood; it is necessary for survival.”

Oppenheimer’s focus in the post-war years was more near-term. He worked for international control of nuclear matters — both weapons and civilian reactors that could be used to make weapons. But that international control was to take the form of an agency with a strict monopoly on such activities.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, General Leslie Groves,<br />
and others at the ground zero site of the Trinity test after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

J. Robert Oppenheimer (in light colored hat with foot on tower rubble), General Leslie Groves (large man in military dress to Oppenheimer’s left), and others at the ground zero site of the Trinity test after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (some time after the actual test). United States Army Signal Corps, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

His 1946 New York Times Magazine piece says about the plan: “It proposes that in the field of atomic energy there be set up a world government. That in this field there be renunciation of national sovereignty. That in this field there be no legal veto power. That in this field there be international law.”

Why would this be significant? In a lengthier article published in 1946 in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Oppenheimer wrote, “the problem that we are dealing with,” in seeking to prevent atomic war, “is the problem of the elimination of war.” Proposals for addressing nuclear issues were to be judged on whether they also advanced this goal. The article was titled “The Atom Bomb as a Great Force for Peace” — not because of the simplistic and banal argument that the bomb would make war too horrible to contemplate, but because its control would lay the foundation for a world government that truly could abolish war.

And in his 1948 Foreign Affairs article, again, Oppenheimer maintained: “If the atomic bomb was to have meaning in the contemporary world, it would have to be in showing that not modern man, not navies, not ground forces, but war itself was obsolete.”

At the end of this essay, Oppenheimer returned to the noble aspirations that so many held in the shattering initial weeks after Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki:

“Theaimofthosewhowouldworkfortheestablishment of peace,” he insisted, “must be to maintain what was sound in the early hopes, and by all means in their power to look to their eventual realization. It is necessarily denied to us in these days to see at what time, to what immediate ends, in what context, and in what manner of world, we may return again to the great issues touched on by the international control of atomic energy… [But] this is seed we take with us, traveling to a land we cannot see, to plant in new soil.”

Should we consider all this just a mere historical curiosity? Is anything about these conversations eight long decades ago relevant to the challenges of the 21st century? As politically unlikely as it might now appear, might something like a genuine world republic provide humanity with the kinds of tools it will require to get a grip on existential perils like the climate emergency, runaway artificial intelligence, and who knows what kinds of new weapons of mass extermination that Oppenheimer’s heirs will almost surely invent in the decades and centuries to come?

The best possible answer to that is the same one purportedly given by China’s Premier Zhou Enlai in 1971, when asked by Henry Kissinger what he thought about the consequences of the French Revolution.

Mr. Zhou, the story goes, considered the question for a moment, and then replied: “I think it is too soon to tell.”

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This article was originally published in the Common Dreams newsletter.

Mondial Cover for Winter 2023

Mondial is published by the Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) and World Federalist Movement — Canada (WFM-Canada), non-profit, non-partisan, and non-governmental Member Organizations of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Government Policy (WFM-IGP). Mondial seeks to provide a forum for diverse voices and opinions on topics related to democratic world federation. The views expressed by contributing authors herein do not necessarily reflect the organizational positions of CGS or WFM-Canada, or those of the Masthead membership.

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.”