Education

 

Robert M. Hutchins: Building on Earlier Foundations
Rene Wadlow

Much of our current work for a more just and peaceful world builds on the thinking and efforts of earlier foundations. An important foundation is the leading role of Robert M. Hutchins, long-time President of the University of Chicago (l929 -1951) whose birth anniversary we mark on 17 January.

Hutchins' father, William,was President of Berea, a small but important liberal arts college, so Robert Hutchins (1899-1977) was set to follow the family pattern. He went to Yale Law School and stayed on to teach. He quickly became the Dean of the Law School and was spotted as a rising star of US education. When he was 30 years old, he was asked to become President of the University of Chicago, a leading institution. Hutchins was then the youngest president of a US university.

In the first decade in his post as president, the 1930s, his ideas concerning undergraduate education − compulsory survey courses, early admission after two years of secondary school for bright and motivated students, a concentration on “Great Books” - an examination of seminal works of philosophy in particular Plato and Aristotle − divided the University of Chicago faculty. There were strong and outspoken pro and anti Hutchins faculty groups. Moreover Hutchins' abolition of varsity football and ending the University's participation in the “Big Ten” university football league distressed some alumni whose link to the university was largely limited to attending football games. For Hutchins, a university was for learning and discussion, not for playing sports. As he famously said “ When I feel like exercising, I sit down until the feeling goes away.”

It is Hutchins' creation and leadership of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution in 1945 which makes him one of the intellectual founders of the movement for world federation and world citizenship. After the coming to power of Hitler in Germany in 1933 and his quick decision to ban Jewish professors from teaching in German universities, many Jewish scientists and professors left Germany and came to the USA. Some of the leading natural scientists joined the University of Chicago. Thus began the “Metallurgy Project” as the work on atomic research was officially called. The University of Chicago team did much of the theoretical research which led to the Atom Bomb. While Hutchins was not directly involved in the atomic project, he understood quickly the nature of atomic energy and its military uses. He saw that the world would never return to a “pre-atomic” condition and that new forms of world organization were needed.

On 12 August 1945, a few days after the use of the atom bombs, Hutchins made a radio address “Atomic Force: Its Meaning for Mankind” in which he outlined the need for strong world institutions, stronger than the UN Charter, whose drafters earlier in the year did not know of the destructive power of atomic energy.

Several professors of the University of Chicago were already active in peace work such as Mortimer Adler, G.A. Borgese, and Richard McKeon, Dean of the undergraduate college. The three approached Hutchins saying that as the University of Chicago had taken a lead in the development of atomic research, so likewise, the university should take the lead in research on adequate world institutions. By November 1945, a 12-person Committee to Frame a World Constitution was created under Hutchins' chairmanship. The Committee drew largely on existing faculty of the University of Chicago − Wilber Katz, Dean of the Law School and Rexford Tugwell who taught political science but who had been a leading administrator of the Roosevelt New Deal and Governor of Puerto Rico. Two retired professors from outside Chicago were added − Charles McIlwain of Harvard, a specialist on constitutions, and Albert Guerard of Stanford, a French refugee who was concerned about the structure of post-war Europe.

From 1947 to 1951, the Committee published a monthly journal Common Cause many of whose articles still merit reading today as fundamental questions concerning the philosophical basis of government, human rights, distribution of power, and the role of regions are discussed. The Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution was published in 1948 and reprinted in the Saturday Review of Literature edited by Norman Cousins and in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists some of whom were in the original “Metallurgy Project”. The Preliminary Draft raised a good deal of discussion, reflected in the issues of Common Cause. There was no second draft. The Preliminary Draft was as G.A. Borgese said, quoting Dante “...of the True City at least the Tower.”

In 1951, Hutchins retired from the presidency of the University of Chicago for the Ford Foundation and then created the Ford Foundation-funded Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions where he gathered together some of his co-workers from the University of Chicago.

Two ideas from The Preliminary Draft are still part of intellectual and political life for those concerned with a stronger UN. The first is the strong role of regional organizations. When The Preliminary Draft was written the European Union was still just an idea and most of the States now part of the African Union were European colonies. The Preliminary Draft saw that regional groups were institutions of the future and should be integrated as such in the world institution. Today, the representatives of States belonging to regional groupings meet together at the UN to try to reach a common position, but regional groups are not part of the official UN structure. However, they may be in the future.

The other lasting aspect of The Preliminary Draft is the crucial role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should play. The then recently drafted UN Charter had created a “consultative status” for NGOs, but few of the UN Charter drafters foresaw the important role that NGOs would play as the UN developed. The Preliminary Draft had envisaged a Syndical Senate to represent occupational associations on the lines of the International Labour Organization where trade unions and employer associations have equal standing with government delegates. In 1946, few people saw the important role that the NGOs would later play in UN activities. While there is no “Syndical Senate”, today NGOs represent an important part of the UN process.

Hutchins, however, was also a reflection of his time. There were no women as members of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, and when he created the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions with a large number of “fellows”, consultants, and staff, women are also largely absent.

The effort to envisage the structures and processes among the different structures was an innovative contribution to global institution building at the time, and many of the debates and reflections are still crucial for today.

Notes

For an understanding of the thinking of those involved in writing The Preliminary Draft see:
Mortimor Adler. How to think about War and Peace (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944)
Rexford Tugwell. Chronicle of Jeopardy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)
G.A. Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1953)
Scott Buchanan. Essay in Politics (New York: Philosophical Library, 1953)

For a life of Hutchens written by a co-worker in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions:
Harry Ashmore. Unreasonable Truths: the Life of Robert Maynard Hutchens (Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1989)

Rene Wadlow

 

The Association of World Citizens Promotes Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship

                                                         Rene Wadlow*

            The Association of World Citizens stresses that our
oneness with humanity and our acceptance of the whole planet as our home
involves a process of change both in the attitudes of individuals and
in the policies of States.  Humanity is clearly moving towards
participation in the emerging World Society.  An awareness of the
emerging World Society and  preparation for full and active
participation in the emerging World Society is a necessary element of
education at all levels, from primary schools, through university and
adult education.

            The Association of World Citizenship stresses that a World Citizens is one: 

            Aware of the wider world and has a sense of his role as a world citizen;

-         respects and values diversity;

-         has an understanding of how the world works
economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and
environmentally;

-         is outraged by social injustice;

-         is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place;

-         participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global.

            The Association of World Citizens believes that World Citizenship is based on rights, responsibility and action.

            The rights and freedoms are set out by the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and related human rights conventions such as
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on
the Rights of the Child, and the Convention for the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  These UN-sponsored human rights
treaties are the basis of world law which deals directly with
individuals and not just with States.

            In most cases, there are procedures that exist for the
redress of violations of these rights at the national, regional, and UN
levels.  These rights should enable all persons to participate
effectively in national, regional and the world society.

            The idea of responsibility has been often discussed
within the United Nations, but it has been impossible to set out
agreed-upon obligations.  Rather, a sense of responsibility toward the
Planet and toward others is left to the individual's conscience and
moral sense. Nevertheless, a sense of responsibility, an ethical concern
for social justice, and the dignity of humanity is central to the
values of a world citizen.

            Action is at the heart of the attitude of a vibrant world
citizen.  Action must be based on three pillars: knowledge, analysis
and skills.

            Knowledge: Background knowledge, a sense of
modern history, of world trends, and issues of ecologically-sound
development is fundamental.  As one can never know everything about
issues that require action, one needs to know where to find information
and to evaluate its quality for the actions one wants to undertake.

            Analysis: It is important to be able to analyse
current trends and events, to place events in their context, to
understand the power relations expressed in an event.  One needs to try
to understand if an event is a "one-time only" occurrence or if it is
part of a series, an on-going process, if it is a local event or if it
is likely to happen in other parts of the world as well. 

            Analysis is closely related to motivation.  If from one's
analysis, one sees a possibility for creative action alone or with
others, one will often act.  If from analysis, it seems that little can
be done as an individual, then one can urge a government to act.  The
degree of personal involvement will usually depend on the results of the
analysis of a situation.

            Skills: Political skills are needed to make an
effective world citizen.  A wide range of skills is useful such as
negotiation, lobbying, networking, campaigning, letter writing,
communications technology and preparing for demonstrations.  These are
all essential skills to join with others for a strong world citizen
voice in world politics.  Some of these skills can be taught by those
having more experience, for experience is the best teacher.  It is by
networking to new individuals and groups that one learns the potentials
and limits of networking.

            In our period of rapid social and political change, the
past cannot provide an accurate guide to the future.  Anticipation and
adaptability, foresight and flexibility, innovation and intuition,
become increasingly essential tools for creative political action.

            *Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

Battle for Fallujah: Protests Needed against Violations of Humanitarian Law

Rene Wadlow - 

    12 June 2016 - In simultaneous, if not necessarily
coordinated operations, there are attacks against the forces of the
Islamic State (ISIS or Daech in its Arabic abbreviation) in Syria and
Iraq.  ISIS had abolished in practice the frontier between Iraq and
Syria, which had been created in 1916 by the agreement of Sir Mark Sykes
for the UK and Francois Georges−Picot for France. Particular attention
must be paid to the current battle for Fallujah and reports of mass
violations of the laws of war.

    The United Nations Secretariat has raised an alarm concerning the
fate of some 400 Iraqi families held by the ISIS forces for possible
use as "human shields" in the battle for the city of Fallujah, held by
ISIS since January 2014.  The use of civilians as "human shields" is a
violation of the laws of war set out in the Geneva Conventions.  ISIS
leaders have been repeatedly warned by the International Committee of
the Red Cross, which, by treaty, is responsible for the respect and
application of the Geneva Conventions.

    In addition to the some 400 families who have been rounded up and
are being held as a group in the center of Fallujah, there are a large
number of children −UNICEF estimates 20,000 − trapped in the city and
who may be used in military ways, either to fight or as suicide bombers.

    The danger from the disintegrating ISIS is that there are no
longer the few restraints that existed among some of the ISIS leadership
for the laws of war.  As Iraqi troops have drawn closer to Fallujah,
they have found mass graves with both soldiers and civilians killed. One
of the fundamental aspects of the laws of war is the protection of
prisoners of war.  Once a person is no longer able to combat, he must be
treated as a prisoner and no longer a combatant.  Not killing a
prisoner is a core value of humanitarian law, and ISIS has deliberately
violated this norm.

    However, ISIS may not be alone in the systematic violation of the
laws of war.  The NGO Human Rights Watch has reported that it has
received credible allegations from the areas around Fallujah of summary
executions, enforced disappearances and mutilations of corpses by Iraqi
government forces or militias such as the Popular Mobilization Forces
supported by the Iraqi government.

    There is a real danger that, as the Islamic State disintegrates
and no longer controls territory, it will increase terrorist actions and
deliberate violations of the laws of war.  The Association of World
Citizens has stressed that the laws of war have become part of world law
and are binding upon States and non-State actors even if they have not
signed the Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols.

    World law does not destroy violence unless it is bound up with an
organized, stable and relatively just society. No society can be stable
unless it is broadly based in which all sectors of the population are
involved.  Such stability does not exist in either Syria or Iraq.
However, repeated violations of the laws of war will increase the divide
among groups and communities.  Only by a wide public outcry in defense
of humanitarian law can this danger be reduced. These grave violations
by ISIS and others must be protested by as wide a coalition of concerned
voices as possible. The time for action is now.

_______________________________________

René Wadlow, is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

Education for a Culture of Peace

Rene Wadlow*

The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global
Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June
2016 at the United Nations Department of Public
Information-Non-governmental Organizations conference. The Plan of
Action aims to develop a fully conscious sense of Global Citizenship.
The Plan states "Education for Global Citizenship aims to develop an
education based on creative and critical thinking that enables all
people to contribute actively to political and development processes in a
complex, interlinked, and diverse global society both within and beyond
their borders."

Education for Global Citizenship builds on
what in the late 1940s was called in UNESCO "Education for World
Citizenship." The preparations for the creation of UNESCO were carried
out in London through the efforts of the British Council of Education in
World Citizenship which brought together education specialists from
Europe then in exile in London. Later, the term "world citizenship" was
dropped in UNESCO work as perhaps too "political" a term and "Education
for International Understanding" became the terminology. Now "Global
Citizenship" has become the term widely used, but the values are largely
the same as the earlier "world citizenship education".

Education for Global Citizenship also builds
upon the values and activities of the 2001-2010 International Decade for
a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World. The
UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade stating that the
Decade "would greatly assist the efforts of the
international community to foster peace, harmony, all human rights, and
democracy throughout the world."
The Decade proclamation
called upon UN bodies, NGOs, religious bodies and educational
institutions, artists and the media actively to support a culture of
nonviolence for the benefit of every child of the world. The Decade was
to lead to "the promotion of democracy, tolerance, dialogue,
reconciliation and solidarity as well as to international cooperation
and economic development, and thus to sustainable human development."

Although I recall the 2001-2010 Decade as one
of chaos, crime, war and terror, there was useful work carried on to
develop elements of a culture of peace and non-violence. I was part of
an International Coalition for the Decade, and we were pushing to "revise
and modify school programmes so that they do not contain elements that
incite violence, intolerance or violent resolution of conflicts, and
that prejudices and stereotypes toward any person or group are
eliminated from them."

We are still at an early stage in the
creation of a culture of peace. Such a culture is not only an aim or an
ultimate goal to be achieved. It is also a comprehensive process of
long-term action to construct the defenses of peace in the minds of
women and men. A culture of peace means changing value systems,
attitudes and behavior. We already have much on which we can build. We
have, for example, the rich body of knowledge and experience in peace
education and in the many efforts to improve learning methods and
content so as to help students gain in self-confidence and harmony
within themselves, with Nature, and with their fellow human beings.

Peace and nonviolence education is an intellectual
and psychological preparation of the student in the aim of developing
the student's critical spirit to reflect on the stages of conflicts and
their non-violent resolution. The purpose of peace and nonviolence
education is to allow students to acquire knowledge, and know-how and a
set of behavioral and interpersonal skills so that they may cultivate
peaceful, cooperative and harmonious relations with others.

We know that access to education and to
various forms of learning is a necessary but not sufficient condition
for a culture of peace. A comprehensive system of education and training
is needed for all groups of people at all levels and forms of
education, both formal and non-formal. The development of a holistic
approach, based on participatory methods and taking into account the
various dimensions of education for a culture of peace is crucial.

Yet education is not for children alone. If we wish
to create a new world society with world-conscious citizens with a
sense of responsibility for life on the planet, we need to consider how
to transform the world view of those in political power today. Most will
not go back to school. Many have been formed in a narrow "national
interest" frame of mind. Yet they hold political and economic power and
are likely to continue to play a pivotal role at both the national and
the international levels. Therefore, as world and global citizens we
need to organize in a cooperative and dynamic way so that new ideas and
values are clearly presented and heard in the halls of power.

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

Creative Education for Social Progress

Rene Wadlow*

The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global
Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June
2016 at the United Nations Department of Public
Information-Non-governmental Organization conference. The Plan of Action
aims to develop a fully-conscious sense of Global Citizenship. The Plan
states "Education for global citizenship is an essential strategy
to address global challenges as well as to promote gender equality,
facilitate the eradication of poverty and hunger, build skills,
eliminate corruption, and prevent violence, including violent extremism.
It promotes truly sustainable production and consumption, mitigating
climate change and its effects, protecting our waters and biodiversity,
and preserving indigenous knowledge."

There is a growing, world-wide awareness of
the need for ecologically-sound development. There is a need for a
better balance between quantity and quality of jobs, between urban and
rural employment possibilities. This requires making enlightened choices
about the quality of life.

Social progress requires people who are able to
analyze a situation critically, who are willing to discuss the options
for action which present themselves. Social progress requires creativity
and people who are willing to think creatively. Such creativity is a
challenge to our educational institutions.

For a vital humanistic, cosmopolitan society to
prosper, there must be vital and creative education systems. The
appropriate kind of education means the awakening of intelligence, and
the development of an integrated life. Only such education can create
the new culture needed to be the foundation of social progress.

To bring about this new education, we must take a
fresh look at how we are currently educating. Progress always means
starting from where we are. Does our education help develop individuals
who can analyze a situation or a problem in a critical and logical way?

Does our education help prepare people to make
choices for progress rather than just choosing leaders who act for them?
Does our education help the flowering of the creative spirit which is
within each person?

We live in a world in which all societies are
changing quickly. Teachers must help students to analyze the causes and
the consequences of these changes. Often the experience of the parents
does not prepare them to help their children to understand new
situations. Thus, often youth see the world only as chaos and conflict.
Youth will often react negatively to situations which they do not
understand. This failure to analyze often leads to self-doubt,
resentment, guilt, and violence.

The school is the place where students can learn to
analyze a situation by looking at living examples of the size and type
which they can understand. Thus the teacher can help the students to see
relationships within the world society by helping the students to see
where the food they eat comes from, how does the food get there, how is
the price of food set.

By looking at specific situations, students learn
how to analyze a situation, how to gather facts, to do research, to
contrast their experience with that of other students, to work in a
team, and then to present their findings.

To learn to choose is to learn how to take
individual responsibility − the understanding that we are responsible
for our own lives. This responsibility means that the choice is ours −
to live a joyful and meaningful life.

The individual student can learn to make individual
choices which overcome a sense of helplessness or alienation. The
student can mature and grow in the knowledge that he is capable of
continuous transformation through experience. The ability to make wise
choices is necessary to be able to control one's life.

Just as an individual must not try to place the
blame for the consequences of his actions upon others, so society must
analyze carefully what is its realm of liberty of action. Social
progress depends upon a sense of social responsibility, a core value for
Global Citizenship.

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

Gyeongiu Plan of Action

Rene Wadlow*

The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global
Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June
2016 at the United Nations Department of Public Information −
Non-governmental Organization conference. The Plan of Action aims to
develop a fully-conscious sense of Global Citizenship. The Plan states "The
cause of global citizenship promotes integrated development of the
whole person emotionally, ethically, intellectually, physically,
socially and spiritually, imbued with an understanding of our roles,
rights and responsibilities for the common good in service to humanity
and the advancement of a culture of peace, non-violence, freedom,
justice, and equality."

The future holds increased participation in
the emerging world society. Many people will work part of their lives in
different countries. As global citizens, we need to feel at home in
different cultures.

At the heart of all education is motivation, the
desire to learn and the necessity to cultivate the will to learn.
Learning is a precious treasure to be strengthened and then transmitted
to another generation. Therefore, the school is the main bridge between
the past and the future. The school − along with their libraries −
preserve the past and make it come alive through the enthusiasm of the
teachers.

If the struggles to establish humanistic,
cosmopolitan institutions are not recalled for students, there is a
danger of taking the current achievements for granted. There is a need
to recall all the women and men who have labored to build the
humanistic, cosmopolitan institutions and processes which we now know.
Their example will help us to consolidate and expand their efforts.

As Louis Mumford, the social philosopher, wrote "If
we have not time to understand the past, we will not have the insight
to control the future. For the past never leaves us, and the future is
already here."
To know the past is to prepare for the future as Global Citizens.

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

Education for Global Citizenship

The Gyeongiu Action Plan

Gyeongiu, Korea

Rene Wadlow*

The Gyeongiu Action Plan was proclaimed on l June 2016 at the United
Nations Department of Public Information - Non-governmental organization
Conference as a Plan of Action for developing a fully conscience of
Global Citizenship. The Plan states "The spirit of global citizenship,
in which our primary identity is that of human beings requires that all
people should have access to life-long learning opportunities that help
them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to exploit opportunities
and to participate fully in society."

Social progress depends upon having for the largest percentage of
people possible meaningful work − work which is meaningful for their
lives and for the benefit of the wider society. Thus schooling is the
preparatory stage for life-long education. The school forms the habits
of learning and also provides the means for continuing education
throughout one's life.

The school has an important task to prepare the student to earn a
living in an ethical way, to contribute to the welfare of the family and
the community. Yet vocational and professional training can never be
the whole of education. All societies are changing too quickly to learn a
skill which will last for a lifetime. Increasingly, people will change
the type of work they do several times during their life.

Thus, the school has the task of teaching positive attitudes toward
work, to stress pride in work well done. We need to develop in our
schools a set of values which will bind us together as we pursue a
viable and worthwhile future.

Cooperation is an important value for social progress. Cooperation is
a form of self-imposed restraint on personal power − the capacity to
work with rather than over someone.

Cooperation requires maintaining trust. The student must face the
challenge of trusting part of his future to others. Likewise, the
student must be trustworthy, as others will depend on him. Each of us
can accomplish little alone, and we develop ourselves most fully when we
are able to cooperate in relations based on trust. Trust and
cooperations are important aspects of developing Global Citizenship.

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

Law of the Sea

 The Law of the Seize

by 

 Rene Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens 

8  June
of each year has been proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as the Day
of the Law of the Sea.  However, according to my friend John Logue,
Director of Villanova University Common Heritage Institute who had
participated with me as non-government organization representatives in
the 93-week long negotiations in New York and Geneva, it should be
called "the Law of the Seize." What started out in November 1967 with a
General Assembly presentation by Ambassador Arvid Pardo of Malta as a
call to establish a new political and legal regime for the ocean space
ended in December 1982 with a draft convention. It was a mixed bag of
successes and disappointments, but the Convention on the Law of the Sea
has now been ratified by 162 states but not by the United States and
certain other industrialized states.

Ambassador
Pardo's phrase 'the common heritage of mankind' meant more than a
global commons, open to all to exploit.  It implied the establishment of
rules by which exploitation of a part of the earth's resources were to
be governed, and of institutions capable of acting on behalf of mankind
as a  whole.  For Pardo, the 'common heritage of mankind' was to lead to
the transformation of world politics.(1)

For
global citizens, the quality of the Law of the Sea Convention was of
particular significance. The Convention tried to structure what had been
largely customary international law and state practice into a legal
comprehensive treaty.  The Convention was an effort to formulate a
written constitution for the world oceans.  It was perhaps the most
comprehensive legislative attempt in the annals of international law.
The Convention specified that the greater part of the oceans was
considered res communitis, a global common beyond national ownership,
although the diplomats accepted an extension of national sovereignty
from three to 12 miles from the coast line and a new concept of a
200-nauticle mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

However,
the UN Law of the Sea Conference was first and foremost a political
conference with over 160 states participating. From the outset of the
conference, it was agreed that the convention had to be drafted by
consensus in order to create a political and legal system for the oceans
acceptable to all − to manage what Arvid Pardo had called 'the common
heritage of mankind'. During the negotiations, there were groupings that
cut across the Cold War divisions of the times, especially within a
group called "the landlocked and geographically disadvantaged
countries."  There were also informal groups of persons who acted in a
private capacity, a mixture of NGO representatives, legal scholars, and
business corporation representatives who prepared suggestions on many of
the issues of the conference. (2)

Although
the negotiations were carried out by the representatives of
governments, all considered to be equal, there were a number of key
individuals who through their personality, vision, negotiating skills,
and drive played roles well beyond the status in world politics of their
states.  Thus, the President of the conference, Hamilton Shirley
Amerasinghe of Sri Lanka was an outstanding leader, so much so, that
when there was a change in government in Sri Lanka and Amerasingh was
replaced as Ambassador to the UN, it was decided, after heated debates,
that he should continue as President of the conference − the only case
of a private citizen directing a UN conference.  Unfortunately, he died
in 1980 before the conference ended so he did not see the fulfillment of
his efforts.  He was replaced as President by a man who had already
played a key role as chair of a working group, the very able Tommy Koh
of Singapore.  Paul Engo of Cameroon, chair of a different working
group, was the dynamic voice of Africa, while Jens Evensen of Norway was
the most active and constructive leader among European and North
American diplomats.

The
conference was, in many ways, a race against time as unilateral
measures by individual states were breaking old conventional rules,
making ocean practices a mixed pattern of national legislation, and
customary international law.  Unilateral legislation was being passed
concerning the two key issues of the conference: national sovereignty
beyond the shore line and deep sea mineral mining.  South American
states were claiming a 200-mile limit beyond the shore line, and the US
Congress had passed legislation to allow US corporations to mine mineral
resources on the sea bed, in particular manganese nodules. (3)

The
forces of nationalism were too strong to be swayed by Pardo's appeals
to international cooperation and technocratic rationality.  Instead the
coastal states, developed and developing alike, saw in the newly
available ocean areas an unexpected windfall, offering the prospect of a
previously unimagined extension of their natural resouce base through
the creation of a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. The economic goal of
national autonomy had prevailed over the interests in global
cooperation, setting in motion the processes of establishing vast
national enclosures of offshore areas, especially those enclosures
consonant with the new Exclusive Economic Zone regime. International
cooperation had yielded to national autonomy.

During
the conference, there were lengthy discussions concerning the exclusive
economic zone of 200 miles around 'islands', 'rocks', and 'low-tide
elevations'. The distinctions were loosely made, and noone saw that the
mining of petroleum around islands would become today an important
political issue and a source of international conflict. Conflicts over
national sea boundaries are particularly strong in the Pacific Ocean
among China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, and Cambodia, with
India and Indonesia watching closely. The disputes arise largely
because of the claims of waters around small islands as national
territory. Most of these island are not permanently inhabited but are
claimed as the starting point of "territorial waters".  Originally, the
disputes concerned exclusive fishing rights within national territorial
zones.  Now the issues have become stronger, as it is believed that
there are large oil and gas reserves in these areas. (4)

Concerning
China's dispute with Japan (which is also largely true of China's
policy with other Asian countries), Krista Wiegand writes "China current
strategy to negotiate with Japan over joint development of natural gas
and oil resources outside the disputed zone seems to be the most
rational strategy it can take in the disputes.  Rather than dropping its
territorial claim, China continues to maintain its claim for
sovereignty, while at the same time benefiting from joint development of
natural gas resources.  By maintaining the territorial claim, China
also sustains its ability to confront Japan through diplomatic and
militarized conflict when other disputed issues arise". (5)

Territorial
sea disputes can be heated up or cooled off at will or when other
political issues require attention.  We are currently in a "heating up"
stage, though a 2002 Phnom Penh Declaration of Conduct of Parties in
South China Sea calls for trust, restraint, and settlement by juridical
means.  Today, to honor the Law of the Sea, we can consider how best to
resolve territorial disputes by having a broader view of the common
heritage of mankind.

 

Notes

 

(1)See
A. Pardo The Common Heritage: Selected Papers on Oceans and World
Order, 1967-1974  (Malta University Press, 1975) When a new government
came to power in Malta in 1971, Pardo was replaced as Ambassador to the
UN. His views were presented during the Law of the Sea negotiations
through NGO representatives, in particular Elizabeth Mann Borgese,
daughter of the anti-Nazi German author Thomas Mann;

 

(2)For
a good picture of the active role that well-informed non governmental
representatives played during the eight years of negotiations see: Ralph
and Miriam Levering Citizen Action for Global Change: The Neptune Group
and the Law of the Sea  (Syracuse University Press, 1999)

 

For
the world federalist/world citizen positions that John Logue and I were
advocating at the time see: Finn Laursen (Ed.) Toward a New
International Marine Order  (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1982)

         

Louis
B. Sohn, Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School was an
outstanding example of an individual scholar. His proposals for dispute
settlement largely formed the basis of the dispute mechanisms of the
Convention.

 

(3)A
1964 study by John Mero The Mineral Resouces of the Sea  (Elsevier,
1964) demonstrated − some might claim exagerated − the economic
potential of manganese nodules.  His book set off a 'manganese rush' 
and certain states and companies made plans for their  exploitations in
areas beyond national jurisdiction.

         

For
a lively and detailed analysis of the key issues and the techniques of
negotiations see Roderick Ogley Internationalizing the Seabed  (Gower
Publishing, 1984).  Roderick Ogley was a fellow NGO representative at
the Law of the Sea conference as well as a professor of international
relations at the University of Sussex, UK. Because the NGO
representatives were well informed of the issues and publishing an
informative newspaper during the sessions Neptune,  there was more
discussions and exchanges than is usual in UN meetings. I had brought
the Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl of Kon-Tiki fame to Geneva
to give a talk on ocean polution, not a high priority at the time.
However many diplomats came because he was well known.  By the time of
the June 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, ocean polution and environmental risks such as global
warming and sea-level rise had become important issues. A key function
of NGO representatives at the UN is to keep a step ahead of governments
in raising issues with which governments are not yet dealing.

 

(4) Douglas M. Johnston and Mark J. Valencia Pacific Ocean Boundary Problems (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1991)

 

(5) Krista R. Wiegand Enduring Territorial Disputes  (University of Georgia Press, 2011)

 

 

26 June: International Day Against Torture

Rene Wadlow*

Torture has a bad name among the police and
security agencies of most countries. Thus torture is usually called by
other names. Even violent husbands do not admit to torturing their
wives. Thus, when NGO representatives started to raise the issue of
torture in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in the early
1980s, the government representatives replied that it was a very rare
practice, limited to a small number of countries and sometimes a "rogue"
policeman or prison guard. However, NGO representatives insisted that,
in fact, it was widely used by a large number of countries including
those that had democratic forms of government.

Getting torture to be recognized as a real problem
and then having the Commission on Human Rights create the post of
Special Rapporeteur on Torture owes much to the persistent efforts of
Sean MacBride (1904-1988), at the time the former chairman of the
Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974) and a Nobel Peace
Prize laureate (1974). MacBride had been the Foreign Minister of Ireland
(1948-1951) and knew how governments work. He had earlier been a
long-time leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), being the son of
John MacBride, an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising - an attack
on the Dublin Post Office. With his death John MacBride became an Irish
hero of resistance. Later Sean had spent time in prison accused of
murder. He told me that he had never killed anyone but as the IRA
Director of Intelligence he was held responsible for the murders carried
out by men under his command. Later, he also worked against the death
penalty.

As examples of the current use of torture kept
being presented by NGO representatives and as some victims of torture
came to Geneva to testify, the Commission on Human Rights named a
Special Rapporteur and also started to work on what became the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment. The Treaty came into effect on 26 June 1987 and
in 1997 the UN General Assembly designated 26 June as the International
Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Human Rights treaties negotiated within the UN
create what are known as "Treaty Bodies" ­ a group of persons who are
considered to be "independent experts". As the saying around Geneva
goes, "some are more 'expert' than others, and some are more
'independent' than others. Countries which have ratified a human rights
convention should make a report every four or five years to the specific
Treaty Body. For the Torture Treaty, it is every four years to the
10-person expert group. Many States are late, some very late, in meeting
this obligation. There are 158 States which have ratified the Torture
Convention but some 28 States have never bothered to file a report.
States which have not ratified the treaty do not make reports.

NGO representatives provide the experts with
information in advance and suggest questions that could usefully be
asked. The State usually sends representatives to Geneva for the Treaty
Body discussions as the permanent Ambassador is rarely able to answer
specific questions on police and prison conditions. At the end of the
discussion between the representative of a State and the experts, the
experts write "concluding observations" and make recommendations.

Unfortunately, the Convention is binding only on
States. However, increasingly non-governmental armed militias such as
ISIS in Syria and Iraq carry out torture in a systematic way. The
militia's actions can be mentioned but not examined by the Treaty Body.

While there is no sure approach to limiting the use
of torture, much depends on the observations and actions of
non-governmental organizations. We need to increase our efforts, to
strengthen the values which prohibit torture, and watch closely how
persons are treated by the police, prison guards and armed militias.

* Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

Action for World Citizenship

A Natural Duty Toward Life

There is only one possible place for each one of us at any given moment, the one we are led to by unflagging fidelity to the natural duties of life and only if we exert the maximum effort on every plane.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

As humanity moves forward toward the emerging world society, each person has a part to play, a natural duty toward Life and the common good. Each person has a personal responsibility in relation to this
progressive unification of humanity. We are moving from a society
primarily oriented toward the preservation and continuance of the
species toward an emerging world society bound together in a common
consciousness. It is our duty as women and men to proceed as though the
limits of our abilities do not exist.

There is an inner dimension of human experience
from which individuals derive their appreciation for the values of human
unity and service to the common good. As citizens of the world, we draw
upon this inner dimension of energy to overcome our personal limits and
the socio-political divisions of the world.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

*****

Citizenship


                          

World Citizens, such as those united in the Association
of World Citizens, stress the need to make choices in ecology,
economics and ethics which provide a sustainable future ane eliminate
pollution and poverty.

Ecologically-sound development has as a major aim the reduction of world poverty. As the US President

Franklin D. Roosevelt had said "The test of our
progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have
much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.
"

Rene Wadlow, President: Association of World Citizens

*****

The Great Awakening

Today, a great awakening is taking form in the world. We are crossing
a threshold between our past national awareness as we now move into an
emerging world society. Therefore, we pledge our energies and resources
of spirit to the preservation of the human habitat and to the infinite
possibilities of human betterment in our time.

As Citizens of the World, we are heartened by advances during the
past century of the rule of law, of democracy, of equality between women
and men, and by efforts of solidarity to overcome poverty and hunger.
Now we must take together a further step by acting together as world
citizens. We believe that the term "world citizen" best encompasses the
constellation of principles, values, attitudes and behaviors needed in
the emerging world society. That is why we are the Association of World
Citizens. World citizenship begins with an acceptance of the oneness of
the human family and an affirmation of the life-promoting values of joy
and personal growth.

Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

*****

Strengthening UN-NGO Cooperation

As Citizens of the World (www.worldcitizensunited.org) we have stressed that in this post-Cold War world, the United Nations faces two major challenges:

1. to lead in the resolution of conflicts, especially civil wars and
insurgencies, especially when they can spill over to neighboring States
such as the current armed conflict in Syria, Iraq, the ISIS and the
Kurds.

2. to ameliorate the lives of those living in persistent poverty through ecologically-sound development.

As Citizens of the World, we believe that the power of the United
Nations depends heavily on its ability to build consensus among
governments and the large number of non-governmental organizations in
consultative status. Citizens of the World have achieved much by working
through the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies. World Citizens
contribute to the development of global policy and international
agreements through interaction with government representatives, UN
Secretariat members, the representatives of other non-governmental
organizations and academic specialists.

In this way, World Citizens take firm action to formulate effective
responses to the challenges facing the world society. We help to develop
an emerging world society which enhances the economic, social and
environmental dimensions of human well-being.

Rene Wadlow, President: Association of World Citizens


 

 

Citizens of the World: A bibliography of current writings in English

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Much of the world citizen approach to world
politics can be called "cosmopolitan". In a world of growing
interdependence, cosmopolitanism deals primarily with a specific range
of issues: world security, international efforts for human rights,
financial and economic regulation, migration due to economic conditions
and increasingly to climate change, ecologically-sound development, and
intercultural dialogue.

Although the term and many core ideas of the
cosmopolitan ethos can be traced back to Classic Greek and Roman Stoics,
as the term is now used, it is based on 18th
century Enlightenment thought with its emphasis on human dignity and the
full development of the person through education, on the primacy of
reason, on the rule of law, equality, and solidarity. While many of
these elements are also found in other cultures, their combination into a
framework for life began in 18th century Western Europe and from there spread to North America and then the world.

The Enlightenment set the foundations of
international law as well as the basic principles of human rights.
Today, a sophisticated contemporary cosmopolitan ethos builds on the
Enlightenment tradition but places its emphasis on the way in which
local, national, regional, and global levels of governance are
explicitly coordinated in the development of a world community.

A world citizen cosmopolitan approach is closely
linked to the way Stephen Krasner defined an international regime
composed of a set of "implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and
decision-making procedures around which actors' expectations converge
in a given area of international relations."

(See S. Krasner International Regimes (1983)

Since specific problems facing actors in the
field of world politics are of an increasingly global nature and since
the solutions to them call for both global vision and global
cooperation, the relation between the framework provided by the
cosmopolitan ethos and other approaches to world politics such as the
"realist school", the "institutionalist school" and the "Marxist school"
needs to be worked out.

In order to facilitate an understanding of the
cosmopolitan-world citizen approach and to highlight the increasing use
of the term, I list a number of recent books with the term cosmopolitan
in the title as well as in the content. The term is even more widely
used in the title of journal articles, but I limit myself to recent book
to keep the bibliography to useful proportions. Happy Reading!

K.Appial Cosmopolitanism/ Ethics in a World of Strangers (2006)

D. Archibugi and D. Held (eds). Cosmopolitan Democracy: An Agenda for a New World Order (1995)

D. Archibugi.The Global Commonwealth of Citizens (2008)

U. Beck. The Cosmopolitan Vision (2006)

R. Beardsworth. Cosmopolitanism and International Relations Theory (2011)

S. Benhabid. Another Cosmopolitanism (2006)

G. Brock and H; Brighouse. The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism (2006)

G.W. Brown. Grounding Cosmopolitanism (2009)

J. Derrida. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness (2001)

T. Erskine. Embedded Cosmopolitanism (2008)

R. Fine. Cosmopolitanism (2007)

P. Hayden. Cosmopolitan Global Politics (2005)

D. Heater. World Citizenship and Government (1986)

C. Rumford. Cosmopolitanism and Europe (2007)

D. Zolo. Cosmopolis (1997)

 

 

 

 

Maria Montesori: The Spirit of Education for World Citizenship

 

Rene Wadlow

Maria Montesori (1870-1952) an Italian childhood
educator and world citizen, whose birth anniversary we mark on 31
August, would have been pleased at the efforts of the United Nations and
UNESCO to promote Global Citizenship Education. (1) Montesori argued
for a child's dignity and autonomy and for the ability of the child to
break out of the narrow bonds of nationalistic education. She stressed
that children have a unique consciousness and a special sensitivity in
the early years which must be nurtured and allowed to develop along its
own course.

The world citizen spirit of Maria Montesori's
teaching displeased the narrow nationalist leaders in power in the
1930s. The Fascist government of Mussolini closed the Montesori schools
in Italy in 1934 as did Hitler in Germany and then in Austria when
Hitler's troops moved into Vienna. The dictators saw that creative
thinking among children was a danger to their authoritarian rule. She
spent the Second World War years in India where her educational ideas
influenced a growing number of Indian teachers.

She stressed education for world citizenship in
both content and methodology for as she pointed out access to education
and to various forms of learning is a necessary but not sufficient
condition to world citizenship education. A comprehensive system of
education and training is needed for all groups of people and at all
levels, both formal and non-formal. The development of a holistic
approach based on participatory methods is crucial.

Education for world citizenship today builds upon
the values and activities of the UN-designated International Decade for a
Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World
(2001-2010). The UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade
stating that the Decade "would greatly assist the efforts of the
international community to foster peace, harmony, all human rights, and
democracy throughout the world."
The Decade was to lead to "the
promotion of democracy, tolerance, dialogue, reconciliation and
solidarity as well as to international cooperation and economic
development, and thus to sustainable human development."

Education for world citizenship is necessary
to embrace all facets of human experience. Such education must prepare
us to help meet the challenges which face us, challenges so vast, so
complex and so constantly changing their nature and scope. Education for
world citizenship must prepare us collectively to know the yet unknown.
Our physical, social, and spiritual development expands naturally from
the personal towards the global. This learning process leads through
both chartered and unchartered territory in an ongoing exploration of
life.

The visionary and yet very practical educational
spirit of Maria Montesori remains an inspiration as we develop
world-wide educational forms to prepare us for the emerging world
society.

Notes

1) UNESCO has produced a very useful guide "Global
Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives" with a good
bibliography and websites of organizations dealing with education for
global citizenship. See their website for further information

www.unesco.org/new/en/global-citizenship.


 

 

Heavy Fog Blocks England's View of the World
by Rene Wadlow
2016-10-07 10:10:42

theresa01_400

In her
recent address to the Tory Annual Conference, Theresa May, the new
English Prime Minister, said in speaking of the world economy and the
role of transnational corporations "If you are a citizen of the world,
you are a citizen of nowhere." As a world citizen, I would say that the
reverse is true: if you are a citizen of the world you are a citizen of
everywhere and so are concerned with the dignity and well-being of each
person in the world.

Therefore we must be
concerned with the well-being of all the English and even their Prime
Minister. It is true that the recent vote on leaving the European Union
indicated that a heavy fog prevents some English from seeing the
Continent. Small towns and rural areas, marginal to world economic
currents, voted more heavily to leave the EU while the larger cities,
especially(y London, a key player in the world economic system, voted to
remain. There have been half-serious propositions that London could
join the EU as a "city-State" perhaps to be followed by Geneva for the
same reasons.

One can participate
in a world-oriented economic system without necessarily feeling that one
is a world citizen just as one can walk in the woods without feeling
the beauty of Nature or the majesty of the growth of the trees. World
citizenship as living in harmony with Nature is a question of values
held in the mind and emotions centered in the heart.

wc00As
citizens of the world, our high endeavor is to develop free human
beings who are able themselves to impart purpose and direction to their
lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of
responsibility - these three forces are at the very core of our efforts.
Therefore, there is a need to strengthen our inner spiritual life and
at the same time to plan in a realistic way the methods we can use to
improve the emerging world society.

It is likely that
the fog will lift, and people living in England will see that there is
land beyond the waters and that we are all bound together with a sense
of responsibility for the world but also with joy in our common
humanity.

 **********************************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Battle for Mosul. Can there be respect for the laws of war?

Rene Wadlow *

A Peshmerga soldier pulls security, during combined check point
training, on Forward Operating Base Marez, near Mosul, Iraq, Jan. 14,
2010. (Photo by Pvt. 1st Class Ali Hargis, US Army: Courtesy of
WikiCommons)

On Monday 17 October 2016, the battle of Mosul began as the troops of
the Iraqi army started moving toward the northern Iraq city of Mosul.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the effort to take
Mosul, a city of over one million people which has been held by the
forces of the Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh in its Arabic initials) since
July 2014. The Iraqi troops are assisted by Turkish troops and tanks,
by US Special Forces who have also been training the Iraqi troops, and
by the Kurdish pesh merga militias who have attacked surrounding
villages but who, for political reasons, are not likely to enter Mosul.

There are estimates that there are some 4,500 ISIS troops facing some
50,000 on the Iraqi government side. ISIS has been aware that an attack
on Mosul was in preparation for a long time and has responded by mining
buildings and roads as well as building tunnels. It is likely that some
ISIS fighters have slipped away, but it is also likely that the
remaining majority of ISIS will fight to the bitter end, preferring
death to surrender. In a situation that is confused by the number and
nationalities of the groups in combat as well ad the very ethnically and
religiously mixed population of Mosul, what possibilities exist for
respect of the laws of war?

The laws of war, now often called humanitarian law, have two wings,
one dealing with the treatment of medical personnel in armed conflict
situations, the treatment of the military wounded and prisoners of war
as well as the protection of civilians. This wing is represented by the
Geneva (Red Cross) Conventions. The second wing, often called The Hague
Conventions limit or ban outright the use of certain categories of
weapons. These efforts began at the Hague with the 1900 peace
conferences and have continued since even if the more recent limitations
on land mines, cluster weapons and chemical weapons have been
negotiated elsewhere than in The Hague.

For the Hague Conventions such as the ban on land mines, the ban is
binding only on States which have ratified the convention. Although the
Islamic State had some of the markings of a pro to-State, it was not
recognized as a State by any other State. Basically ISIS can be
considered as an armed militia.

The status of the Geneva Conventions for non-State militias can be
debated. When I was involved at the United Nations with the national
minorities of Burma in the 1990s, I encouraged the Burmese militias to
study, discuss and then sign the Geneva Conventions, of which the Swiss
government is the depositary power. When the Burmese government learned
of our efforts, they quickly signed the Geneva Conventions. Once the
national minorities had signed, and I sent the document to the Swiss
government and to the International Committee of the Red Cross, both the
Burmese military and the national minorities released a number of
prisoners of war as a mark of good faith which had never been done
before. The status of world law for non-State entities and individuals
is a crucial questions, and there are discussions at the International
Criminal Court on this issue.

The current situation concerning refugees and internally-displaced
persons can also be considered as part of humanitarian law. The status
of refugees is more widely respected than that of the
internally-displaced.

ISIS has shown no interest or respect for humanitarian law nor for
universally-recognized human rights. ISIS has carried out many summary
executions of perceived opponents. There is a real danger that as ISIS
disintegrates and no longer controls as much territory, it will increase
terrorist actions having "nothing left to loose".

The violations of the laws of war are not limited to ISIS.  On 3 May
2016, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2286
calling for greater protection for health care institutions and
personnel in light of recent attacks against hospitals and clinics in
Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and
Afghanistan. These attacks indicate a dangerous trend of non-compliance
with the laws of war by both State and non-State agents.

To prevent and alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health,
and to ensure respect for the human person - these are the core values
of humanitarian law. These values may get lost in the "fog of war" of
the battle for Mosul. Therefore, there needs to be a wide public outcry
in the defense of humanitarian law so that violations can be reduced. As
the tanks move ahead, the time for the defense of humanitarian values
is now.

* Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens,
an international peace organization with consultative status with
ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation
on and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

 

 

 

 

Education for a Culture of Peace

Rene Wadlow*

 

The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global
Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June
2016 at the United Nations Department of Public
Information-Non-governmental Organizations conference. The Plan of
Action aims to develop a fully conscious sense of Global Citizenship.
The Plan states "Education for Global Citizenship aims to develop an
education based on creative and critical thinking that enables all
people to contribute actively to political and development processes in a
complex, interlinked, and diverse global society both within and beyond
their borders."

 

Education for Global Citizenship
builds on what in the late 1940s was called in UNESCO "Education for
World Citizenship." The preparations for the creation of UNESCO were
carried out in London through the efforts of the British Council of
Education in World Citizenship which brought together education
specialists from Europe then in exile in London. Later, the term "world
citizenship" was dropped in UNESCO work as perhaps too "political" a
term and "Education for International Understanding" became the
terminology. Now "Global Citizenship" has become the term widely used,
but the values are largely the same as the earlier "world citizenship
education".

 

Education for Global Citizenship also builds
upon the values and activities of the 2001-2010 International Decade
for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade stating that
the Decade "would greatly assist the efforts of the
international community to foster peace, harmony, all human rights, and
democracy throughout the world."
The Decade proclamation
called upon UN bodies, NGOs, religious bodies and educational
institutions, artists and the media actively to support a culture of
nonviolence for the benefit of every child of the world. The Decade was
to lead to "the promotion of democracy, tolerance, dialogue,
reconciliation and solidarity as well as to international cooperation
and economic development, and thus to sustainable human development."

 

Although I recall the 2001-2010
Decade as one of chaos, crime, war and terror, there was useful work
carried on to develop elements of a culture of peace and non-violence. I
was part of an International Coalition for the Decade, and we were
pushing to "revise and modify school programmes so that they
do not contain elements that incite violence, intolerance or violent
resolution of conflicts, and that prejudices and stereotypes toward any
person or group are eliminated from them."

 

We are still at an early stage in
the creation of a culture of peace. Such a culture is not only an aim or
an ultimate goal to be achieved. It is also a comprehensive process of
long-term action to construct the defenses of peace in the minds of
women and men. A culture of peace means changing value systems,
attitudes and behavior. We already have much on which we can build. We
have, for example, the rich body of knowledge and experience in peace
education and in the many efforts to improve learning methods and
content so as to help students gain in self-confidence and harmony
within themselves, with Nature, and with their fellow human beings.

 

Peace and nonviolence education is an intellectual
and psychological preparation of the student in the aim of developing
the student's critical spirit to reflect on the stages of conflicts and
their non-violent resolution. The purpose of peace and nonviolence
education is to allow students to acquire knowledge, and know-how and a
set of behavioral and interpersonal skills so that they may cultivate
peaceful, cooperative and harmonious relations with others.

 

We know that access to education and to
various forms of learning is a necessary but not sufficient condition
for a culture of peace. A comprehensive system of education and training
is needed for all groups of people at all levels and forms of
education, both formal and non-formal. The development of a holistic
approach, based on participatory methods and taking into account the
various dimensions of education for a culture of peace is crucial.

 

Yet education is not for children alone. If we
wish to create a new world society with world-conscious citizens with a
sense of responsibility for life on the planet, we need to consider how
to transform the world view of those in political power today. Most will
not go back to school. Many have been formed in a narrow "national
interest" frame of mind. Yet they hold political and economic power and
are likely to continue to play a pivotal role at both the national and
the international levels. Therefore, as world and global citizens we
need to organize in a cooperative and dynamic way so that new ideas and
values are clearly presented and heard in the halls of power.

 

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

Creative Education for Social Progress

Rene Wadlow*

 

The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global
Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June
2016 at the United Nations Department of Public
Information-Non-governmental Organization conference. The Plan of Action
aims to develop a fully-conscious sense of Global Citizenship. The Plan
states "Education for global citizenship is an essential strategy
to address global challenges as well as to promote gender equality,
facilitate the eradication of poverty and hunger, build skills,
eliminate corruption, and prevent violence, including violent extremism.
It promotes truly sustainable production and consumption, mitigating
climate change and its effects, protecting our waters and biodiversity,
and preserving indigenous knowledge."

 

There is a growing, world-wide
awareness of the need for ecologically-sound development. There is a
need for a better balance between quantity and quality of jobs, between
urban and rural employment possibilities. This requires making
enlightened choices about the quality of life.

 

Social progress requires people who are able to
analyze a situation critically, who are willing to discuss the options
for action which present themselves. Social progress requires creativity
and people who are willing to think creatively. Such creativity is a
challenge to our educational institutions.

 

For a vital humanistic, cosmopolitan society to
prosper, there must be vital and creative education systems. The
appropriate kind of education means the awakening of intelligence, and
the development of an integrated life. Only such education can create
the new culture needed to be the foundation of social progress.

 

To bring about this new education, we must take a
fresh look at how we are currently educating. Progress always means
starting from where we are. Does our education help develop individuals
who can analyze a situation or a problem in a critical and logical way?

 

Does our education help prepare people to make
choices for progress rather than just choosing leaders who act for them?
Does our education help the flowering of the creative spirit which is
within each person?

 

We live in a world in which all societies are
changing quickly. Teachers must help students to analyze the causes and
the consequences of these changes. Often the experience of the parents
does not prepare them to help their children to understand new
situations. Thus, often youth see the world only as chaos and conflict.
Youth will often react negatively to situations which they do not
understand. This failure to analyze often leads to self-doubt,
resentment, guilt, and violence.

 

The school is the place where students can learn
to analyze a situation by looking at living examples of the size and
type which they can understand. Thus the teacher can help the students
to see relationships within the world society by helping the students to
see where the food they eat comes from, how does the food get there,
how is the price of food set.

 

By looking at specific situations, students learn
how to analyze a situation, how to gather facts, to do research, to
contrast their experience with that of other students, to work in a
team, and then to present their findings.

 

To learn to choose is to learn how to take
individual responsibility − the understanding that we are responsible
for our own lives. This responsibility means that the choice is ours −
to live a joyful and meaningful life.

 

The individual student can learn to make
individual choices which overcome a sense of helplessness or alienation.
The student can mature and grow in the knowledge that he is capable of
continuous transformation through experience. The ability to make wise
choices is necessary to be able to control one's life.

 

Just as an individual must not try to place the
blame for the consequences of his actions upon others, so society must
analyze carefully what is its realm of liberty of action. Social
progress depends upon a sense of social responsibility, a core value for
Global Citizenship.

 

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

Gyeongiu Plan of Action

Rene Wadlow*

 

The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global
Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June
2016 at the United Nations Department of Public Information −
Non-governmental Organization conference. The Plan of Action aims to
develop a fully-conscious sense of Global Citizenship. The Plan states "The
cause of global citizenship promotes integrated development of the
whole person emotionally, ethically, intellectually, physically,
socially and spiritually, imbued with an understanding of our roles,
rights and responsibilities for the common good in service to humanity
and the advancement of a culture of peace, non-violence, freedom,
justice, and equality."

 

The future holds increased
participation in the emerging world society. Many people will work part
of their lives in different countries. As global citizens, we need to
feel at home in different cultures.

 

At the heart of all education is motivation, the
desire to learn and the necessity to cultivate the will to learn.
Learning is a precious treasure to be strengthened and then transmitted
to another generation. Therefore, the school is the main bridge between
the past and the future. The school − along with their libraries −
preserve the past and make it come alive through the enthusiasm of the
teachers.

 

If the struggles to establish humanistic,
cosmopolitan institutions are not recalled for students, there is a
danger of taking the current achievements for granted. There is a need
to recall all the women and men who have labored to build the
humanistic, cosmopolitan institutions and processes which we now know.
Their example will help us to consolidate and expand their efforts.

 

As Louis Mumford, the social philosopher, wrote "If
we have not time to understand the past, we will not have the insight
to control the future. For the past never leaves us, and the future is
already here."
To know the past is to prepare for the future as Global Citizens.

 

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


 

 

Education for Global Citizenship

The Gyeongiu Action Plan

Gyeongiu, Korea

Rene Wadlow*


The Gyeongiu Action Plan was proclaimed on l June 2016 at the United
Nations Department of Public Information - Non-governmental organization
Conference as a Plan of Action for developing a fully conscience of
Global Citizenship. The Plan states "The spirit of global citizenship,
in which our primary identity is that of human beings requires that all
people should have access to life-long learning opportunities that help
them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to exploit opportunities
and to participate fully in society."

Social progress depends
upon having for the largest percentage of people possible meaningful
work − work which is meaningful for their lives and for the benefit of
the wider society. Thus schooling is the preparatory stage for life-long
education. The school forms the habits of learning and also provides
the means for continuing education throughout one's life.

The
school has an important task to prepare the student to earn a living in
an ethical way, to contribute to the welfare of the family and the
community. Yet vocational and professional training can never be the
whole of education. All societies are changing too quickly to learn a
skill which will last for a lifetime. Increasingly, people will change
the type of work they do several times during their life.

Thus,
the school has the task of teaching positive attitudes toward work, to
stress pride in work well done. We need to develop in our schools a set
of values which will bind us together as we pursue a viable and
worthwhile future.

Cooperation is an important value for social
progress. Cooperation is a form of self-imposed restraint on personal
power − the capacity to work with rather than over someone.


Cooperation requires maintaining trust. The student must face the
challenge of trusting part of his future to others. Likewise, the
student must be trustworthy, as others will depend on him. Each of us
can accomplish little alone, and we develop ourselves most fully when we
are able to cooperate in relations based on trust. Trust and
cooperations are important aspects of developing Global Citizenship.

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


 

 

 

Educational Creativity to meet sustainable development challenges

Rene Wadlow*

 

Today, many individuals feel that a great awakening is taking place in the world.  We are now crossing a threshold between our past awareness, largely limited to the local and to the national level toward a world consciousness.  We are now moving into the New Age with its respect for all life.  Yet many of the deeper currents of society, both the tensions and the hopes, are not yet truly at the world level.  These currents are no longer simply national.  These currents cross frontiers. Thus, these forces are transnational − no longer simply national but not yet at the world level.

 

Within the framework of the United Nations 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) has stressed that at the level of the individual, the community, the State, and the emerging world society, there is a need to take firm action to formulate effective responses to ecological challenges. However no one organization can produce the strong currents necessary to promote world-wide action.  There is a need for a host of co-workers, each dealing with the issues where they can have an impact and in the style which they feel is most appropriate.

 

The Association of World Citizens will continue to build on earlier efforts for a coordinated world food policy with an emphasis on the need for protection of soil, water, forests, deserts, and policies of land reform in the light of an agreed-upon world food policy.

 

Modification of age-old patterns of agriculture, forest management, and the herding of animals is difficult. Changes to meet larger populations and to prevent harmful uses of land − such as slash-and-burn agriculture − take time and skillful education methods. There is a need to present information in ways that people can use in as short a time as possible.

 

Education must be coupled with ways of organizing for community cooperation and participation in decision-making.  We stress that a comprehensive approach is necessary to meet the inter-related challenges of poverty, food insecurity and climate change.  We need to meet these challenges through innovative approaches. Thus creative educational methods are at the heart of our efforts to meet sustainable development goals.

 

* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

New Challenges for Global Citizens

Rene Wadlow*

 

The Global Citizenship Commission (GCC) under the leadership of the former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented its report The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 21st Century to the United Nations on 18 April 2016. (1)

 

The Global Citizenship Commission was created "to illuminate the ideal of global citizenship. What does it mean for each of us to be members of the global society?" (2) Human rights are the foundation of the global society.  The principal aim of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was to create a framework for a world society that was in need of universal codes based on mutual consent in order to function. The early years of the United Nations was characterized by the division between the Western and Communist conceptions of human rights, although neither side called into question the concept of universality.  The debate centered on which rights, political, economic and social were to be included.

 

In the 1960s with the entry into the UN of a large number of African States which had not been present when the UDHR was proclaimed in 1948, there were discussions as to whether new States were bound by the UDHR values adopted before they were independent.  By and large, consensus was reached on the universality of all the human rights set out in the UDHR.  This universality was clearly reaffirmed in the 1993 Vienna Declaration of the World Conference on Human Rights in which nearly all UN Member States took part.

 

In 1948, the members of the UN Commission on Human Rights saw the human rights process as a three-step effort.  First was the proclamation of the general principles which was the UDHR.  The second step was to be the codification of these principles into laws both at the world and at national levels.  The third step was to be some form of implementation through reports and observation, possible complaints procedures and ultimately some form of enforcement or sanctions.  In 1948, it was not clear how the second and third steps should be carried out.

 

In practice, through the leadership of UN Secretariat members of the UN Centre for Human Rights and active representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), there has developed a rich texture of human rights conventions with 10 "treaty bodies" which receive reports on the application by governments of the human rights treaties they have ratified.

 

The Commission on Human Rights has now been transformed but largely unchanged into the Human Rights Council.  The Commission began the practice, continued by the Council, of naming "Special Rapporteurs" on specific issues such as "States of Emergency" or on specific country situations where there was broad agreement that there were persistent human rights violations.

 

Largely through the efforts of NGO representatives helped by UN Secretariat members but who must keep a "low profile", there has been progress made both on issues and on bringing attention to vulnerable people.  The Global Citizenship Commission highlights these advances, but as only one member of the Commission came from the NGO world, the NGO representatives role is somewhat lost in the vague terminology of "civil society".

 

I would stress seven areas which have become part of ongoing UN human rights work that owe their existence to NGO efforts in the Commission on Human Rights:

1) Awareness of the rights and conditions of indigenous and tribal populations;

2) Torture;

3) Death penalty;

4) Conscientious objection to military service;

5) Child soldiers;

6) Systematic rape in armed conflicts;

7) The Right to Religion and Belief.

 

Beyond the UN human rights bodies, other parts of the UN system have played an important role: the International Labour Organization on the abusive work of children and youth, UNICEF on the rights of children. As the Global Citizenship report stressed, it would be good to have more cooperation within the UN system. This is a repeated theme of all reports on the functioning of the UN, but then, it could be said of national governments as well.

 

Much of the Global Citizenship report is devoted to the analysis of the way the UN has met past challenges and is a good overview for those who have not participated directly. The report calls in a general way for improvements. "The international community needs a toolkit of governmental and multilateral responses to rights violations that is more legitimate and sophisticated than what we have today and which relies on mechanisms other than the use of force."

 

The GCC report highlights two new challenges:

1) discrimination due to sexual orientation;

2) migration-refugee flows due to both short-term armed conflict and longer-term consequences of climate change.

 

On the first issue of discrimination due to sexual orientation, representatives of NGOs have already been active.  There has been real progress from the mid-1980s when the issue had been first raised and then "swept under the rug" due to strong opposition from a number of States.  Now, UN Secretariat members have taken the lead.  There is still much to be done, especially in changing attitudes at the individual and local levels, but I think that the direction toward inclusiveness has been set.

 

Issues of migration and refugees go beyond what NGOs can do alone, although NGOs have been active on both refugee and climate change questions.  On 19 September, at the start of the UN General Assembly, there will be a one-day Summit on migration issues at the UN in New York.  NGOs should be able to make migration-policy suggestions in advance and to raise the issue of "statelessness" which is increasingly a result of migration.

 

The Global Citizenship Commission with its secretariat at New York University Global Institute for Advanced Study has set out a clear overview of the past and has highlighted some of the new challenges − a useful alert for those of us working on global issues and a call for an increased number of co-workers.

 

Notes

1) The study is available in print from the UK firm Open Book Publishers (www. Openbookpublishers.com) and can be downloaded in pdf at no cost.

 

2) The Global Citizenship Commission follows the pattern of earlier independent commissions often best remembered by the individuals who headed them: Pearson, Brandt, Palme, Brundtland, Carlson/Ramphal. See Ramesh Thakur, Andrew Cooper, John English (Eds). International Commissions and the Power of Ideas (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2005, 317pp)

 

Rene Wadlow, President and a representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

Jean Giono and the Energies of the Earth
by Rene Wadlow
 

Jean Giono (1895 - 1970) whose birth anniversary we mark on 30 March was one of the most influencial and original French advocates of nonviolence.  Giono, a pantheist philosopher, novelist of rural life, and in his later days, a movie-maker, had a fame in the wider public even among those who opposed his nonviolence. André Malraux, who was both a great novelist and a man who participated in war, wrote that the three best writers of his generation were Henri de Monterlant, Jean Giono, and George Bernanos.

Jean Giono  was born and died in Manosque - a town in the mountains above Aix-en-Provence which, ironically, has now become an area of vacation homes for the well off who can no longer find space on the Cote d'Azur.  In Giono's time, it was an area of small farmers and shepherds who were the protagonists of Giono's novels. One of the most moving of Giono's books Le Serpent d'Etoiles  (1933) has as its theme a shepherd looking at the Big Dipper. Thus Giono is often considered a "regionalist" writer, but, in fact, he uses the background of the region where he always lived (except for his military service in World War I) for dealing with broader, cosmic issues.

Giono's family names from a north Italian grandfather whom he never knew. The grandfather was a carbonaro, a member of a secret society that worked against the richlandholders and the different authorities in Italy prior to the 1860 unification.  The grandfather, accused of murder, had crossed the mountains into an isolated partof France where people by tradition were against authorities and seldom asked questions about a person's background. Giono's father was a shoemaker who carried on his father's anti-authoritarian tradition. He became a Protestant in an area where there were no Protestants and left an interest in the Bible to his son. Giono's father died when Giono was only 15, and so Giono left school. He is basically an autodidact, influenced by his father's reading of the Bible and his reading of Homer.  Homer was his basic teacher, a writer that he would continue reading often during his life. His only other intellectual influence, but only after the Second World War, was Nicolo Machiavelli, that observer of political life.

Influenced by Homer to look for the activity of the gods behind human actions and influenced by the open mountain area where he lived, Giono saw Pan at work, a Pan who followed in the procession of Dionysus but Dionysus was too powerful a god to be dealing directly with the small farmers of the area.  Pan was more appropriate, and Pan is the chief protagonist of the first three novels of Giono - novels which were designed to be a trilogy before he started to write them. Giono's first(and I think best work) called Colline (1926) in French and published in English as Pan: Hill of Destiny followed by Un de Baumugnes (1929), Regain(1930) .

Giono believed in what is now often called ley lines - the energy currents of the earth  that are more powerful or closer to the surface in certain areas than in others.  On the outcroppings of these ley lines, the gods and the nature spirits are present and so interact with humans more directly.

Pan, however, is not a gentle nature fairy, and those who follow him are also in danger. Nature, for Giono can also be the sudden storm, the rock slide on the mountain side, the wild stampede of the sheep. The south of France is not all sun.  In this, Giono differed from Marcel Pagnol who used only the human side of Giono for his films without the Panic element always in the background.

If the energies of the earth are to be used for life and creativity, war is the opposite - the withdrawal of natural energy leading to the withering of man and so to death. Giono had been a soldier at the endless and military-stalemated battle of Verdun. He returned from the war knowing that war was destructive of all the values that he saw as "natural life."

As the clouds of war started to gather in the 1930s, first in Italy which had always interested Giono, and then Germany, Giono started to gather around him people who were opposed to war and who wanted a "return ot nature", to a rural, simpler life.  They started to meet each summer in a small village higher in the Lure mountains than Manosque, Contadour, They published their considerations in a journal, the Cahiers de Contadour.

Giono did not like organizations, even pacifist organizations. All his writings stress the role of the individual in communion with Nature rather than the action of the masses. Giono believed in a sort of natural "peasents' pacifism" - if those everywhere who are close to Nature, who understand the secrets of organic growth, who know that violence always destroys the basic harmonies of Nature − if all these refuse to fight, war will not take place.  He stressed these themes in his most telling short book Lettre aux Paysans sur la Pauvreté et la Paix (1938)

Giono's pacifist writings led to his arrest for "anti-military activities" in 1939. He was released without a trial after two months as the French became more involved in fighting, and there had been no massive refusal to fight on the part of French troops -at least not as a result of having read Giono's writings.

Ironically, Giono was re-arrested in 1944, probably to protect him from the savage revenge killings that followed the liberation of France, but officially for having been one of the ideological "fathers" of Vichy France. In effect, the Vichy government had used many of the themes of Giono's writings, some Vichy  administrators because they had read him, others because the themes were also part of traditionalist Catholic thought which influenced Vichy: the return to the land, the vision of the small farmer as honest and satisfied by the simple life, a hostility to the cities where there lived Jews, Socialists and trade unionists, a sense of solidarity among small farmers and their emphasis on "family values".

Giono was again not brought to trial because he had had no direct influence on the propaganda administrators of Vichy; however the image of a pro-Vichy writer lasted until the early 1950s when there was a general consensus in France to "forget" the war and the Vichy government. Giono, however, then left the active political ideology scene. He turned to reading Machiavelli who seemed to him to best describe the narrow self-interested domain of politics. He concentrated his later novels on the period of his grandfather, when Italian activists took refuge in France and when a French deserter from military service took refuge in Italy.

A less political but pantheist Giono was re-discovered in France after May 1968 and its strong current of "back to nature", Gaia-the spirituality of the earth.

 *********************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

 

Teilhard de Chardin: Evolution toward world unity



Rene Wadlow

 



Why do we hesitate to open our hearts to the call of the world within us,
to the sense of the earth. By 'sense of the earth' we mean here the
passionate sense of common destiny that draws the thinking fraction
of life ever forward...Men suffer and vegetate in their isolation;
they need the intervention of a higher impulse to force them beyond
the dead point at which they are halted and propel them into the
region of their deep affinity. The sense of the earth is the
irresistible pressure which comes at a given moment to unite them in
a common enthusiasm...The age of nations has passed. Now, unless we
wish to perish, we must shake off our old prejudices and build the
earth."



Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 -1955)



Pierrre Teihard de Chardin, the French paleontologist, whose birth
anniversary we mark on 1 May, after a lifetime of study of the
evolution of the human species concluded that humanity was entering a
new age with a higher, peaceful and more responsible sense of the
unity of the world community. He wrote in
Activation
of Energy "It is an amazing thing that in less than a million years
the human species has succeeded in covering the earth, and not only
spacially. On this surface that is now completely encircled, mankind
has completed the construction of a close network of planetary links,
so successfully that a special envelope now stretches over the old
biosphere. Every day this new integration grows in strength. It may
be clearly recognized and distinguished in every quarter. It is
provided with its own system of internal connections and
communication, and for this I have for a long time proposed the name
noosphere." (1)



Noosphere comes from the Greek word for mind, noos. The proposition that there
is a sphere which goes beyond the biosphere, and which in a unique
way accommodates the relationships between humans and Nature was
first put forward by the Russian scientist-philosopher Vladimir I.
Vernadsky in 1894. Teilhard de Chardin and Vernadsky were together in
a seminar in Paris of the French philosopher Henri Bergson, and it
was in that seminar that the term "noosphere" was proposed for
the first time. Teilhard and Verndsky continued to stay in touch
through letters, Teilhard being in China and Vernadsky in the USSR
where he died in 1945.

 

 

For Henri Bergson,(1859-1941) whose best known book is Creative
Evolution,(1907)
the moter of evolution is an energy which he calls "force vital". For
Teilhard, that energy is called "love". As he wrote "
Some
day, after mastering winds, waves, tides and gravity, we shall
harness for God the energies of love and then, for the second time in
the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."
For
Teilhard, love was not an emotion or a sentiment but the basic primal
and universal psychic energy. This is a concept drawn from Chinese
culture. Teilhard lived in China from 1923 to 1946 and was interested
in Chinese thought. (2) The Chinese word
jen,
a term translated as love, benevolence or affection, is not only an
emotional-moral term, but it is also a cosmic force − a
compassionate quality that is the very structure of the earth.

 

 

Optimism and evolution are the two themes that Teilhard de Chardin leaves with us. He insisted at looking at the human population as one global
family, developing a network of mutual support − recognizing the
need of global solidarity.



Notes

(1) P. Teilhard de Chardin Activation of Energy (New York, 1970)



(2) See Ursula King Towards a New Mysticism: Teilhard de Chardin and Eastern Religions (London,
1980)



Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabindranath Tagore: The Call of the Real
              by Rene Wadlow
             
             
The same stream of life that runs
                through my veins night and day runs through the world
                and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life
                that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in
                numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous
                waves of leaves and flowers.  It is the same life that
                is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and death, in ebb
                and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the
                touch of this world of life.  And my pride from the
                life- throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

             
                                                                                                
              Rabindranath Tagore
             
                May 7 marks the anniversary of the birth of the Bengal
                and world poet Rabindranath Tagore.  As he wrote "I was
                born in 1861.  It was a great period in our history of
                Bengal. Just about that time the currents of three
                movements had met in the life of our country." One
                current was religious - the Brahmo Samaj - founded by
                Raja Rammohan Roy (1774-1833) in which his family was
                active.  Brahmo Samaj's humanistic aim was to reopen the
                channel of spiritual life which, for Tagore, had been
                obstructed for many years by the sands and the debris of
                creeds, caste and external practices.  He wrote "Each
                great movement of thought and endeavour in any part of
                the world may have something unique in its expression,
                but the truth underlying any of them never has the
                meretricious cheapness of utter novelty about it. The
                great Ganges must not hesitate to declare its essential
                similarity to the Nile of Egypt or to the Yangtse-Kiang
                of China."

             
              The second current was literary.  It was an effort by
              Tagore and other poets and writers such as Bankim Chandra
              Chatterji (1838-1894) to awaken the Bengali language from
              its stereotyped style and limitations of language.  His
              was an effort to bring the ordinary speech of Bengal into
              poetic form.  He had had intimate contact with village
              life in Bengal early in his youth as his family had
              estates with many villages.  Later in 1922 he created a
              center for rural development and reform along side an
              innovative school "Santiniketan" started in 1901 where he
              hoped that both the young and the old, the teacher and the
              student, sit at the same table to take their daily food
              and the food of their eternal life.
             
              Tagore was interested in all the religious currents in
              Bengal, devotional Hinduism and the popular and mystic
              currents of Islam as expressed by the Bauls whose poetry
              he transformed into songs.  He wrote over 2000 songs;
              every change of season, each aspect of Bengal landscape,
              every sorrow and joy found a place in his songs which
              became Bengali folk music.
             
              The third current was national.  As Tagore wrote "The
              national was not fully political, but it began to give
              voice to the mind of the people, trying to assert their
              own personality.  It was a voice of indignation at the
              humiliation constantly heaped upon us by people."  Tagore
              was the first to make popular the term "Mahatma" for
              Gandhi. "So disintegrated and demoralized were our people
              that many wondered if India could ever rise again by the
              genius of her own people, until there came on the scene a
              truly great soul, a great leader of men, in line with the
              tradition of the greatest sages of old Mahatma Gandhi. 
              Today no one need despair of the future of the country,
              for the unconquerable spirit that creates has already been
              released.  Mahatma Gandhi has shown us a way which, if we
              follow, shall not only save ourselves but may also help
              other peoples to save themselves."
             
              Rabindranath Tagore was the Renaissance man of modern
              India - the bridge from an Indian culture dominated on the
              one hand by a traditionalism that had long ceased to be
              creative and on the other by English colonial practice
              whose reforms were self-interested. He was known world
              wide as a poet having received the Nobel Prize for
              Literature in 1913, especially for his set of poems Gitanjali
              championed by William Butler Yeats.  Tagore's aim was to
              combine a renewal of local thought, in particular that of
              his native Bengal with an appreciation of the cultures of
              the world.
             
              As Tagore emphasized, the creative impulse was rooted in
              man's desire to enhance the experiences of life.  Man
              shared with the Divine Spirit the possibility of shaping
              the material world as well as his own personality
              according to the implicit laws of being.  An artist
              responds to what Tagore named the call of the real through
              reverence, understanding and delight.  An artist is
              aroused not by knowledge or emotion alone, but by the
              wholeness of his perceptions. The Real is that order which
              lies behind multiplicity. "To be able to love material
              things, to clothe them with tender grace, and yet not to
              be attached to them, this is a great service" eThe wonder
              is not that there should be obstacles and sufferings in
              this world, but that there should be law and order, beauty
              and joy, goodness and love.
             
             
*********************************************************
               

             

             
              * Rene Wadlow, Editor,
 

www.transnational-perspectives.org

 

 

 

21 March: Nowruz, the recurrent renewal


 

By Rene Wadlow

May the soul flourish; 

May youth be as the new-grown grain.

Nowruz, usually celebrated on 21 March in Iran and Central Asia, is the “New Day”, the end of the old year with its hardships and deceptions and the start of the New Year to be filled with hope and optimism.  It is a day for spiritual renewal and physical rejuvenation and is usually a time for reciting devotional poetry, presenting food with symbolic meaning to guests, and visits among family and close friends.

Nowruz, which coincides with the Spring Equinox, is related to myths focused on the sun and thus symbolizes the connections of humans to nature.  In some of the myths, Nowruz is considered as symbolizing the first day of creation  − thus a time when all can be newly created. It is a day between times − old time has died; new time will start the day after Nowruz.  In this one-day period without time, all is possible.  The seeds are planted for a new birth.  Among some who celebrate Nowruz, real seeds are planted, usually in seven pots with symbolic meanings of virtues.  Their growth is an indication of how these virtues will manifest themselves in the coming year.  Among those influenced by Islam and Christianity, Navroz is the day when God will raise the dead for the final judgment and the start of eternal life.

Nowruz has an ancient Persian origin, related to Abura Mazda, the high god who was symbolized by the sun and manifested by fire. Nowruz is also related to the opposite of fire, that is, water.  However water can also be considered not as opposite but as complementary, and thus fire-water can become symbols of harmony.  Fire – as light, as an agent of purification, as a manifestation of the basic energy of life − played a large role in Zoroastrian thought and in the teachings of Zarathoustra.  Thus we find fire as a central symbol and incorporated into rituals among the Parsis in India, originally of Iranian origin.

From what is today Iran, Zoroastrian beliefs and ritual spread along the “Silk Road” through Central Asia to China, and in the other direction to the Arab world.  As much of this area later came under the influence of Islam, elements of Nowruz were given Islamic meanings to the extent that some today consider Nowruz an “Islamic holiday”. Nowruz is also celebrated among the Alawits in Syria, the Baha’i, the Yezidis, and the Kurds, each group  adapting Nowruz to its spiritual framework.

In Turkey, for many years, Nowruz was officially banned as being too related to the Kurds and thus to Kurdish demands for autonomy or an independent Kurdistan. I recall a number of years ago being invited to participate in a non-violent Kurdish protest in Turkey on Nowruz to protest the ban. I declined as the idea of going from Geneva to be put in a Turkish jail was not on top of my list of priorities.  Fortunately, for the last few years, the ban has been lifted, and Kurds in Turkey can now celebrate openly Nowruz.

The celebration of Nowruz in the Cental Asian Republics has had an uneven history during the Soviet period and since − ranging from a ban because it was too Islamic, to being promoted as of Zoroastrian origin and thus anti-Islamic, to being “nationalized” as a holiday of national unity.

As armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, “Kurdistan” and Afghanistan and strong tensions in Iran and Central Asia continue, we must hope that 2016 Nowruz will purify the old and plant the seeds of a new harmonious regional society.

 

Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social fields.

 

 

 

Albert Schweitzer: A Universal Ethic
by Rene Wadlow

 

January 14th was the anniversary of the birth of Albert Schweitzer and was a special day at the hospital that he fonded at Lambaréné, Gabon. Alsatian wine would be served at lunch and conversations over lunch would last longer than usual before everyone had to return to his tasks. In 1963, when I was working for the Ministry of Education of Gabon, and spending time at the Protestant secondary school some half-mile down river from the hospital, I was invited to lunch for the birthday celebration. As the only non-hospital person there, I was placed next to Dr Schweitzer, and we continued our discussions both on the events that had taken place along the Ogowe River and his more philosophical concerns.

We would often discuss his interest in the classic authors of Chinese philosophy. I had been an undergraduate research assistant of Professor Y.P. Mei at Princeton. Mei was the professor of Chinese philosophy in the Philosophy Department and in many ways a philosopher himself. He had been president of a university in China during the Second World War and had moved to the USA after the end of the civil war in 1948.

Although the bulk of Albert Schweitzer's philosophical reflection concerned the German philosophical tradition −Kant, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche − he was drawn to the founders of Chinese Taoism − Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu and the champion of universalist ethics, Mo-tzu.

In Schweitzer's writings he often contrasted Indian and Chinese philosophical thought − the two major traditions of Asia. For Schweitzer, Indian thought was dualistic, there is on the one hand matter, and on the other spirit. He saw Indian thought a fundamentally pessimistic concerning the world and matter. In Indian thought, the spirit is both higher and in a sense more 'real' than matter. The aim of an individual is to detach himself from matter and unite with the spirit. As he wrote, “Their world-view is pessimistic-ethical, and contains, therefore, incentives only to the inward civilization of the heart, not to outward civilization as well.

For Schweitzer, the Chinese view, in its Taoist form at least, was optimistic with the complete integration of spirit and matter. The Tao, which is both the source of all things but also the motor of all action, is not separate from material creation but is fully embodied in the material world and within each individual. Thus ethics are grounded in the nature of the universe as well as in the nature of humanity. An element that attracted Schweitzer to Taoist thought was its ethical standards which encompass all persons. The Middle East religious systems which have spread world wide started with Zarathustra who is the foundation of Middle East religious thought. His approach was taken over by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Middle East philosophical approach divides people into the “saved” and the “unsaved”. The saved are one's brothers toward which there is an agreed upon ethical framework and the unsaved who are cast out, unclean and toward whom other ethical standards prevail. This good-bad, light-darkness is incorporated into the structures of the universe where there is a constant struggle between the forces of light and those of darkness.

This division between the saved and the unsaved was eliminated by the Stoics, especially the later Roman Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius where the concept of a universal ethic for mankind comes into sight. However, in the chaos of ideas in the late Roman Empire, Christianity emerges victorious with its idea individual redemption. Thus there is a return to the saved and the unsaved, between those who will live in the Kingdom of God and the others.

Only Chinese thought holds the seeds for a universal approach, but Chinese thought was clouded for a long time by the weak eco-political position of China. China's current rise is too recent and too mixed with different ideological positions to become a champion of the universal ethic of Taoist thought. Moreover, the poetic formulation of much of Taoist writings makes its comprehension difficult for many.

Albert Schweitzer's reverence for life which accepts that there is reciprocal relationship among all living things may be the closest to a Taoist philosophy easily understood world wide, a philosophy needed for a deep ecology ethic.

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Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 
  Carl Rogers (1902 - 1987): Healing the Person and the State
Rene Wadlow

Carl Ransom Rogers, whose birth anniversary is 8 January, was a US psychologist and educator and a leading figure of what is often called “the third wave of psychology. The first wave was Freud and Jung and their views of psychoanalysis.  The second wave were the behaviorists symbolized by B.F. Skinner and the later behavior-modification specialists.  The third wave, often called “humanist”, has Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, and Carl Rogers as its best known figures.  Unlike Freud and Jung who developed relatively-closed approaches and a set of therapeutic techniques built on their theories, the humanist psychological theory and therapies could change according to the persons being treated or the setting in which work was undertaken.

In fact, Carl Rogers' approach was first called “client-centered therapy” and was based on the idea that the client (no longer called a 'patient') had within him vast resources for understanding and accepting his dynamics of actions, attitudes, and emotions.  These resources are released in working with the therapist (often called a facilitator).  The therapist communicates his own caring, empathy, and non-judgmental understanding.

Carl Rogers' way of working with the people was to bring his enormous capacity for empathy and understanding, his listening skills, and his caring for people to create a climate in which the inner potential of the client for growth could be realized.  He had an unshakable belief that the person is trustworthy, resourceful, capable of self-direction, and consequently, able to modify his view of self to overcome obstacles and pain and to become more effective, productive, and fully functioning.   The view that clients have, within themselves, vast, untapped resources for self-directed growth was met with rejection by many in the field of psychotherapy.  As C.H. Pattrerson has written in his The Therapeutic Relationship “ Person-centered therapy is often threatening to therapists, since it places responsibility on the therapist as a person, not on the therapist as an expert using a wide range of techniques supposedly selected on the basis of dealing with specific client problems or diagnoses.” 

Even others within the humanist wave could be critical.  Abraham Maslow said “Rogers doesn't have enough sin and psychopathology in his system. He speaks of the only drive as self-actualization, which is to imply there is only a tendency to health.  Then where does all the sickness come from? He needs more theory of psychopathogenesis, fear, of resentment, of countervalues, of hostility.”

If many therapists were unwilling to follow Rogers in their therapeutic work, many more individuals who were working with people seeking growth and the release of potentials rather than overcoming personal problems, did follow Rogers' lead.  The 1960s and 1970s saw the development of encounter groups and a human potential movement.  Rogers' views on the need for empathy and unconditional positive regard was taken over by many of those who organized encounter groups.  Rogers shifted some of his activities from one-on-one client centered work to what could be done in a group setting.  The two foundation blocks of Rogers' person-centered approach are 1) that each human being has within a growth potential or actualizing tendency, and 2) that this can best be realized if a proper interpersonal psychological climate is present.  These elements could also be used in a group setting, and many of Rogers' views were taken over in the training of primary and secondary school teachers.

With the experience of the positive results of encounter groups, late in his life, Rogers hoped that his healing techniques could be used to help heal the deep antagonisms within those who held responsibility for States.  In the early 1980s, in the Soviet Union some persons became more open to an interest in what was being done in the intellectual life of Western countries. Carl Rogers was invited to lecture to mental health professionals in the Soviet Union.  Soviet psychotherapy had been largely in the behaviorist tradition and the heavy use of drugs for behavior modification.  Freud and Jung were known by reputation but not to be mentioned in polite company.  Thus the largely unknown but not taboo humanist approach merited being known, and Rogers was warmly welcomed.

I met Rogers on his return from the Soviet Union when he gave a talk in Geneva on his Soviet experiences.  He had seen people who were discovering new ideas, who had deep inner resources but these resources had remained undeveloped during most of the Soviet period by fear of stepping outside Communist orthodoxy.  He saw the need for follow-up both by him and by others such as those of us meeting with him in Geneva.

Rogers' peace activities also concerned Central America and South Africa − areas torn by deep divisions and uncertainty about the future.  His death in 1987 ended his personal ability to carry on this peace-related approach.  Much of Rogers' influence today remains in the client-centered therapy field.  Most political leaders do not feel that they are in need of help to discover new and more satisfying personal meaning about themselves and the world they inhabit.  Perhaps power fills all their emotional needs.  However for those of us who work without power for peace, the humanist psychology wave and its emphasis on the formation of attitudes, fears, and aspirations can give us real tools for action.

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Notes

C.R. Rogers. Client-centered therapy ( Boston: Houghton-Mifflim, 1951)

C.R. Rogers. On becoming a person – a therapist's view of psychotherapy (Boston: Houghton-Mifflim, 1961)

C.R. Rogers. Carl Rogers on encounter groups (New York: Harper and Row, 1970)

C.R. Rogers. A way of being (Boston: Houghton-Mifflim, 1980)

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Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

The World, Its Protection, Its Citizens

    On behalf of the Association of World Citizens, I would like to send you best wishes for 2016.
May it be a year that brings peace and harmony closer to our world.   Progress in the world is based on the emergence of ideas, their acceptance, their transformation into ideals, and then into programs of action.

    2015 Has seen within the United Nations system two major frameworks of ideas and suggested plans of action. The first was the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and the second was the Paris COP 21 goals and treaty to deal with climate change.  These guideline require close cooperation among national governments, the United Nations and other multilateral government institutions such as the European Union, and the wide range of non-governmental organizations including business and agriculture associations.  We need to move from fragmented efforts to strong partnerships.

    However, these positive goals need to be seen against the background of current armed conflicts and violent extremism often rooted in a deadly mix of exclusion and marginalization, mismanagement of natural resources, oppression and the alienation arising from a lack of jobs and opportunities. The World is in need of protection, both of people and Nature.  As Citizens of the World, we have a sense of responsibility to participate fully in the emerging world society where disputes among States are settled within the framework of world law and through negotiations in good faith so that common interests may be found and developed.

    As Citizens of the World, we have a sense of compassion for Nature, and thus we unite to safeguard the delicate balance of the natural environment and to develop the world's resources for the common good.

    Today, we all face a choice between those forces that would drive us apart, forces and attitudes such as racism, narrow nationalism and the aggressive pursuit of self-interest on the one hand, and on the other hand, those forces which promote an emerging world society that is equitable and harmonious. I am sure that you also will choose to work for wholeness, harmony and creativity.

    René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

Velimir Khlebnikov : The Futurian (1895-1922)
by Rene Wadlow
2015-11-09

            My soul is a seer
            Who has seen in the skies
            The constellations beginning to rise.
            And the thunderstorm fly like a bird.

So wrote the Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov on the eve of his death in 1922.  Khlebnikov was part of an active avant-garde circle of writers. Khlebnikov called himself a “futurian”.  Khlebnikov had a strong sense of what Russia could bring to the modern world despite the hardships that the 1917 Revolution and the First World War had brought to the avant-garde.  In 1920 he wrote:

            Russia, I give you my divine
            white brain. Be me. Be Khlebnikov.
            I have sunk a foundation deep in the minds
            of your people. I have laid down an axis,
            I have built a house on a firm foundation.
            We are Futurians.

The Futurian group produced most of its work from 1910 until the start of the First World War and then was scattered by the War and the Revolution.  The group which included the spiritually-inclined painter Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) who was inspired by the paintings of Henri Matisse  which existed in private collections in Moscow, but basically the group found its inspiration in the native art of Russian folklore — folklore which had a wisdom beyond intellect.  In his essay “On Poetry” Khlebnikov wrote “If we think of the soul as split between the government of intellect and a stormy population of feelings, then incantations and beyondsense language are appeals over the head of the government straight to the population of feelings, a direct cry to the predawn of the soul.

Yet Khlebnikov does not fit into any one school or trend.  His work explores a unique   broad terrain. He was among the great innovators of literary modernism.  He blurred the distinction between verse and prose.  He made use of patterns from folklore and chants, incantations and shamanistic language.  In addition to poems and plays, stories and essays, he wrote political and artistic manifestos, essays on history, architecture, and social problems, literary theory, and journalistic pieces on current events.  His passion for internationalism in politics and the arts prompted him to envisage a world-wide brotherhood of creative scientists, writers, and thinkers dedicated to understanding nature and to counteracting all the social evils fostered by political leaders.

Khlebnikov, who died when he was 36, is in many ways a short-lived Walt Whitman whom he much admired. “Attentively I read the springtime thoughts of the Divinity in designs on the speckled feet of tree-toads, Homer shaken by the awful wagon of a great war, the way a glass shakes at the passing of a wagon.  I have the same Neanderthal skull, the same curving forehead as you, old Walt.”

Khlebnikov’s “O Garden of Animals” is directly influenced by Whitman:

“O Garden of Animals,
Where iron bars seem like a father who stops a bloody fight to remind his sons they are brothers; Where a clean-shaven soldier throws dirt at a tiger, all because the tiger is greater.

Where a camel knows the essence of Buddhism, and suppresses a Chinese smile; Where I search for new rhythms, whose beats are animals and men.

Like Whitman, Khlebnikov was an innovator of language and form.  At first sight, his poetry was considered anarchic and destructive of accepted rules.  Khlebnikov wanted a clear break with the past.  As he wrote in 1916 as the war ground on “Old Ones, you are holding back the fast advance of humanity; you are preventing the boiling locomotive of youth from crossing the mountain that lies in its path.  We have broken the locks and see what your freight cars contain: tombstones for the young.”  He saw himself as a creator of new forms that would penetrate below the surface of phenomena and give a new art that might change the human condition.  As we look more deeply at his writings, we see the metaphysical structure of order behind the innovative lines.  His break with the past was to discover the true laws of nature. This passionate belief in the sovereignty of a lawful nature gave Khlebnikov a great intellectual freedom in the pursuit of its boundless variety, in poetry and in the various languages he devised for poetry.  It removed the constraints of common forms and opened words to the wide prospects enjoyed by natural objects, while making them subject to the deep scrutiny of analytic dissection.  Khlebnikov was thus able to proceed to the work of the poet with the methodological precision of the scientist and to partake of the passion of both.  To unite mankind into harmony with the universe — that was Khlebnikov’s vocation.  He wanted to make Planet Earth fit for the future, to free it from the deadly gravitational pull of everyday lying and pretence, from the tyranny of petty human instincts and the slow death of comfort and complacency.  He wanted to transform the World through the Word. As he wrote “I solemnly urge all artists of the future to keep exact spiritual records, to think of themselves as the sky and to keep exact notes on the rising and setting of their spiritual stars.”

Khlebnikov’s metaphysics are largely Taoist, more likely a rediscovery of the workings of yin and yang than a conscious influence of Chinese philosophy although he had a wide knowledge of Slavic and Indian mythology and a general interest in Asia. 

In a wry little poem of 1914, he describes concisely the underlying principle of his view of history, the idea of an equilibrium produced by the shift from positive to negative states:

            The law of the see-saw argues
            That your shoes will be loose or tight
            That the hours will be day or night,
            And that the ruler of earth the rhinoceros
            Or us.

We find the same sense of the working of equilibrium in a section of “The Song of One Comes to Confusion”:

            These tenuous Japanese shadows,
            These murmuring Indian maidens,
            Nothing sounds so mournful
            As words at this last supper.
            Death — but first life flashes past
            Again: unknown, unlike, immediate.
            This rule is the only rhythm
            For the dance of death and attainment.

Death came too soon.  1913 had been a high point of cooperation among the Cubo-Futurists when they staged the opera “Victory over the Sun”. The music was by Mikhail Matiushin (1861 -1934) with the sets and costumes by Kazimir Malevich and the prologue by Khlebnikov.  War, revolution, civil war and exile broke up these creative groups.  Although they were unable to create the future they had envisaged, the ideas are powerful beacons and can still reach a wider audience. To unite mankind into harmony with the universe is still central to the world citizens goals.

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Notes
See: Raymond Cooke. Velimir Khlebnikov (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) and Paul Schmidt’s translations The King of Time (1985) and Collected Works (1987 and 1989) both published by Harvard University Press.

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Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

4 July 2015: World Citizen Declaration of Inter-Dependence
        In 1776, progress for humanity required the first act of decolonization as leaders in the English colonies of North America consciously broke the bonds with the colonial English government. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was a positive act to affirm human dignity in opposition to an English government dominated by a small aristocratic class and a King  who represented these narrow economic and class interests.
        In 2015, as Citizens of the World, we affirm the unity of humanity, the impossibility of cutting bonds with others.  Thus we re-affirm the inter-dependence of humanity.  Today, world progress moves from affirming US citizenship as separate from England in 1776 to affirming world citizenship in 2015.
    Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

The Rhythms of Compassion for the New Age
Rene Wadlow*

The rhythms of the past are strong, for the power of history is often heavy. There is inertia in centuries-old forms and practices which are no longer appropriate. Yet a new history is to be written, a new creation is to be born.

Whether this transformation to a New Age is accomplished in relative peace and creativity or in confusion and chaos depends on how clearly we can bring forth from within ourselves wisdom, stability and harmony. We can retreat from the future in fear and resistance, or we can rise to meet it with understanding and compassion. Understanding requires us to see what is useful and right for the present, what can be useful later, and also what has no more use at all and is to be put aside.

The New Age is fundamentally a change in consciousness from one of isolation and separation to one of communion, to be in tune with the whole, to be aware of the new life within us and to release its creative impulse in cooperation with others. Love is this capacity to perceive this spirit of oneness within and then the ability to see oneself in relationship to others and to life.

The dominant idea that the New Age is bringing into being is wholeness and the idea that of going out with its old forms is separateness and fragmentation. The vision of wholeness requires discrimination and organization to ensure that new energies and potentials are not wasted but are given direction for the greatest impact, for the good of all.

Yet can one be aware of the wholeness of life if the mind is fragmented and stressing separation? We all tend to find security in those fragments of humanity of which we are a part. Yet the fragmented mind with training can give way to awareness. Out of awareness will come a realization of the wholeness of life.

The New Age is within us; it is not coming tomorrow; it is here now.

*Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

 

 

Our tasks as world citizens is to point out the way - as does the evening star to those who tread their path in darkness. Therefore, let us try, as so many generations before us, to light the infectious spark of hope within ourselves.As world citizens, individually and globally, our common purpose is to facilitate appropriate change so that humanity's wellbeing will increase. We act to achieve a world that is cooperative, thoughtful about the future, and safe from war.

 

Edmond Privat

BIOGRAPHIES

, 17 August 2015

René Wadlow - TRANSCEND Media Service

 

René Wadlow

17 August is the birth anniversary of Edmond Privat in 1889 − a leading world citizen of the first wave of world citizen action closely associated with the League of Nations. It was natural for Privat, a citizen of Geneva, to be drawn to the efforts of the League of Nations. He served from 1923 to 1927 as the vice-delegate for Iran. In the early League days, many States did not have a permanent representative to the League and so named an "intellectual personality" to represent the country. Privat also worked at different times at the League as an interpreter from English to French. In those days, there was no simultaneous interpretation but only consecutive interpretation. The interpreter, standing near the speaker had to convey some of the same drama in his voice. Privat was an experienced orator, one of the first to make regular radio broadcasts and so was much appreciated as an interpreter. At the time, the League Secretariat staff was small, and there was a good deal of interaction among the staff and the government delegates. Thus Privat, already a political journalist, could follow closely world events and the League efforts.

Privat served as an interpreter for Fridtjof Nansen, whose work for World War I refugees and relief to Russia after the Revolution, marked Privat who developed a life-long concern for refugees and relief from hunger.

Privat was a close friend of Romain Rolland who lived during the 1920s and 1930s at Villeneuve near Geneva. Romain Rolland was one of the first in Europe to write about the philosophy-in-acts of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi had gone to London in 1931 for a government round table on the future of India. Romain Rolland invited Gandhi to Villeneuve and asked Privat to translate for him and to organize two public talks for Gandhi. Privat was much impressed with Gandhi, and Privat and his wife left shortly afterwards for India to report on Gandhi's efforts, resulting in a book Aux Indes Avec Gandhi.

Through Rolland and Gandhi, Privat became interested in Indian philosophy and shared Gandhi's views that there was an inner light that was a common core of all the world's religions. As Privat wrote "The Inner Light opens us to the sense of the universal and the eternal. The Inner Light can recognize no frontier and can exclude no one. The Inner Light can make no distinctions of race, color or social condition. Love can not be bound by passports or visas. The Inner Light is seen not in words but in attitudes and acts."

Privat had a life-long passion to promote the universal. He looked for ways to build bridges among peoples and had learned Esperanto from childhood. As a secondary school student, he attended the first universal Esperanto congress in France in 1905. He then took on the task to organize the next Esperanto congress in Geneva in 1906. Privat had a talent as an organizer and virtually to the end of his life in 1962, he was organizing conferences, creating committees as well as writing articles;

During the First World War, he was sent as a war correspondent to Poland where he met Ludoviko Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto. Later Privat wrote a biography in Esperanto Vivo de Zamenhof, translated into many languages. From his observations in Poland, he became a champion for the liberation of Poland from Russian influence.   In 1918, Privat published L'Europe et l'Odyssée de la Pologne aux XIX siecle.

Privat's observations of the First World War and its consequences confirmed his earlier conviction that war was evil and the result of narrow nationalism. To overcome war, there was a need for a cosmopolitan - world spirit. People needed to think of themselves as citizens of the world. He saw the League of Nations as a first step toward a federation of the world. After the Second World War, he worked actively for a stronger United Nations and the creation of a "Second Chamber" to which people would be elected rather than being appointed by governments as is the case for the UN General Assembly. He published Trois experiences federalistes (USA, Suisse, S.D.N.) on federalism as an approach to a stronger world structure.

Privat's vision of the unity of the world included a strong emphasis on the equality between women and men − this in a country where, at the time, women could not vote or hold public office.

Today, much of the cosmopolitan-world citizen emphasis is on understanding the forces leading to world integration. Not all "globalization" works for the benefit of all people. Nevertheless, trends are to ever grater interaction among the representatives of governments, transnational corporations, and non-governmental organizations - social movements. There is less emphasis on a common language of communication such as Esperanto. It is likely that English plays the role that some hoped that Esperanto would become, although Esperanto still has its champions. Privat is an important symbol of those who worked between the two World Wars for new positive attitudes and strong inter-governmental structures that would create a climate of peace. The tasks still face us today.

__________________________________

René Wadlow, a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and of its Task Force on the Middle East, is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 August 2015.

Citizens of the World: Crisis and Response

 10 August 2015

Rene Wadlow - TRANSCEND Media Service

 

René Wadlow

Whenever the structure among States was too small to deal with the socio-economic and political challenges being faced, persons have worked for larger groupings: the United States rather than the Articles of Confederation, the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations. Today, the challenges concern the whole planet; an increasing number of people are speaking of the need for cosmopolitan thinking, calling themselves "world citizens" or "global citizens."

In Plato's Gorgias, Socrates says "We are told on good authority that heaven and earth and their respective inhabitants are held together by the bonds of society and love and order and discipline and righteousness and that is why the universe is called an ordered whole or cosmos and not a state of disorder and license."

          There was a powerful current of cosmopolitan thought among the Greek Stoics who stressed the unity of humankind and challenged the powerful prejudices of Greek superiority. Likewise, the Roman Stoics at the time when the Roman Republic was failing to meet the socio-economic challenges stressed a cosmopolitan viewpoint and also again when the Roman Empire was under stress. Cicero belongs to the mid-period of the Roman Stoics and Seneca and Marcus Aurelius to the late. As Seneca wrote "The very reason for our magnanimity in not shutting ourselves up within the walls of one city, in going forth into intercourse with the whole earth, and in claiming the world as our country, was that we might have a wider field for our virtue. Is the tribunal closed to you, and are you barred from the rostrum? Look how many broad stretching countries lie open behind you, how many people?"

          We see the revival of cosmopolitan thought in seventeenth and eighteenth-century plans for European Union as the multitude of European States led to wars and a lack of progress. The Polish Comenius (Johannes Komensky), the French Denis Diderot, the Scot David Hume, all used the term "citizen of the world" to describe themselves, and Oliver Goldsmith wrote his then well-known Letters from a Citizen of the World to his Friends in the East.

          The Welsh philosopher Richard Price advocated the virtues of engagement in foreign trade as leading "every man to consider himself more a citizen of the world than of any particular state." As Olivier d'Argenlieu points out in his book The Amazing Powers of World Citizens (1), today many people are involved in foreign trade. Finance, transportation, media, scientific research have all become trans-national and world wide. People travel for work, study, and pleasure. Some are forced to cross frontiers because of war or ecological mismanagement.

All who travel, trade and cross frontiers do not become "world citizens" but all realize that national frontiers have less and less meaning in reality. It would obviously be easier to cope with salient international problems of all kinds if the earth and its human inhabitants composed a single community in a political as well as an ecological sense.

For some the United Nations system of the UN, the Specialized Agencies, and the World Bank-IMF are adequate if they were used by farsighted persons and adequate leaders. The fundamental problem is not that the United Nations system is inherently unworkable, but that we are failing to use and develop the system with the foresight and courage necessary to come to grips with the major problems of the time. Further institutional development is eminently desirable but can never be a substitute for enlightened policies vigorously pursued.

For others, such as Olivier d'Argenlieu, the UN is fatally flawed due to a lack of democratic legitimacy. Authority needs to be based on the will of the people. The UN General Assembly is not the needed World Parliament. As he writes, there is a need for

"a representative body, a Global Assembly acting for all members of the community, who would pass laws and confer authority to the executive power. Experience has taught us that, to be respected and accepted by all, laws must be passed by a representative group of its members. This is the very principle of democracy. Furthermore, to be efficient, the body governing a community and taking public action in its name must do so with a mandate from the people it rules. This again is a democratic principle. Consequently, the next step to be taken in order to provide the world community with the necessary institutions would be to set up a representative body composed of representatives elected by all members of the global community, that is, by all the citizens of the world."

          Today, we need an interlinked agenda for the twenty-first century, incorporating thinking about global institutions, their democratic oversight, the nature of world citizenship, ecological planetary consciousness, the practice and sense of world community and the moral principles upon which all this should be founded. As the Commission of Global Governance wrote in its report (2) "Global governance, once viewed primarily as concerned with intergovernmental relationships, now involves not only governments and intergovernmental institutions, but also non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citizens' movements, transnational corporations, academia, and the mass media. The emergence of a global sense of human solidarity reflects a large increase in the capacity and will of people to take control of their own lives."

NOTES:

  • Olivier d'Argenlieu. The Amazing Power of World Citizens (Paris: manuscrit.com
     
    , )
  • Commission on Global Governance. Towards the Global Neighbourhood (Oxford University Press, 1995)

_______________________________________

René Wadlow, a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and of its Task Force on the Middle East, is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

.

 

Yemen and World Law: Building from Current Experience

Saturday, August 1, 2015

René Wadlow,
President and a Representative to the United Nations (Geneva) Association of World Citizens

 

"Shall we not learn from life its laws, dynamics, balances?  Learn to base our needs not on death, destruction, waste, but renewal?"  Nancy Newhall

The indiscriminate bombing of cities in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition highlights the need for renewal of the way that humanitarian law is observed in times of armed conflict especially in three areas:

a) the protection of women,

b) the prohibition of starvation of civilian populations as a method of warfare,  

c) the protection of cultural heritage.

Protection for women is enshrined in international humanitarian law which as world law should be binding on both States and armed opposition groups.  This body of world law includes the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 written in light of the consequences of the Second World War and their two Additional Protocols of 1977 written due to the experiences of the war in Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia.(1)

In addition, the human rights standards as developed within the United Nations prohibit torture, unlawful killings, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and slavery.  Women should also be kept safe from the use of prohibited weapons such as chemical and cluster weapons.

In international humanitarian law, women are afforded both general protection − on the same basis as men − and special protection reflecting their special needs as women.  They are specially protected against attack, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution or indecent assault. The ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda were steps in the development of world law with the prosecution of rape as a war crime.  Furthermore, under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and other forms of sexual violence constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and are war crimes. (Article 8 of the ICC Statute)

The fact that women have to bear so much of the burden of armed hostilities is primarily not because there are shortcomings in the rules and norms but because the norms are not sufficiently observed. Basically, compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law is based on self-restraint on the part of soldiers and other armed forces.  While perpetrators of war crimes should be brought to justice, either at the national level or by international courts, this is rarely the case.  Thus, it is the moral sense of the soldier, his sense of honor as to the code of the military profession which is the most immediate safeguard of civilian populations.  There have been cases of airmen who refused to drop bombs on cities and villages where there are obviously civilians, but such cases are relatively rare.(2) I have not heard of cases in the Yemen conflict, but they are probably not highlighted by the military media people when they do happen.

Another consequence of the bombing in Yemen is the starvation of the civilian population due to lack of food and water.  Due to the widespread use of defoliants in the Vietnam war, there was written as Article 54(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, a prohibition to destroy foodstuffs, crops, drinking water installations and irrigation works.  Yemen is, at the best of times, short of food and drinking water installations.  The bombing has deliberately increased the hardship as well as increasing the number of displaced people with resulting lack of access to food and water.

The need to protect works of art and cultural heritage has been a theme of efforts by UNESCO. Sections of Sana had been placed on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage of humanity due to the elaborate woodwork of doors and balconies, the result of skills that have largely withered away in modern times. These works of folk art have been destroyed, not as a policy such as that of the ISIS in Syria and Iraq but as a result of bombing.  Nevertheless, the result is the same: items of value have been destroyed and are unlikely to be replaced when houses are rebuilt.

The aggression against Yemen has created a moral vacuum, an area devoid of the most basic human values both within Yemen and in the countries attacking it.

Notes:

(1)See D. Schiller and J. Toman. The Law of Armed Conflicts (Martinus Nihjoff Publishers, 1988)

(2)For cases of Israeli airmen who have refused orders to bomb in the Gaza Strip and south Lebanon see Chem Ben-Noon Civil Disobedience: The Israeli Experiences (Paragon House, 2015)

More By René Wadlow:

*UNHRC Re-Affirms the Safeguards for Civilians in Times of War:  http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/UNHR-Re-Affirms-the-Safeguards-for-Civilians-in-Times-of-War.htm

*Yemen: No Round Table Negotiations Yet: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Yemen-No-Round-Table-Negotiations-Yet.htm

  *Difficult but Necessary Road to Yemen Negotiations: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Difficult-but-Necessary-Road-to-Yemen-Negotiations.htm

 

OSCE: Strains and Renewal in the Security Community
by Rene Wadlow
2015-08-01 11:14:47

On 1 August 2015, the Helsinki Final Act, the birth certificate of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) turned 40.  The Final Act signed in Helsinki's Finlandia Hall was the result of three years of nearly continuous negotiations among government representatives meeting for the most part in Geneva, Switzerland as well as years of promotion of better East-West relations by non-governmental peace builders.

Basically one can date the planting of the seeds that grew into the OSCE as 1968 in two cities:  in Paris and Prague.  The student-led demonstrations in Paris which sent shock waves to other university centers from California to Berlin, showed that under a cover of calm, there was a river of demands and desires for a new life, a more cooperative and creative way of life.

In Prague, the Prague Spring of internal reforms and demands for a freer European society was met by the tanks of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in August. Yet some far-sighted individuals saw that 1968 was a turning point in European history and that there could be no return to the 1945 divisions of two Europes with the Berlin Wall as the symbol of that division.  Thus, in small circles, there were those who started asking "Where do we go from here?"

A Security Community: A Halfway House

In 1957, Karl W. Deutsch (1912-1992) published an important study Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton University Press). Karl Deutsch was born into a German-speaking family in Prague in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  His family was active in socialist party politics and became strongly anti-Nazi. Seeing what might happen, Deutsch and his wife left Prague in 1939 for the USA where he became a leading political science-international relations professor.  I knew Karl Deutsch in the mid-1950s when I was a university student at Princeton, and he was associated with a Center on International Organization at Princeton. It was there that he was developing his ideas on types of integration among peoples and States and that he coined the term "security community" to mean a group of people "believing that they had come to agreement on at least one point that common social problems must and can be resolved by processes of peaceful change."  For Deutsch, the concept of a security community could be applied to people coming together to form a State: his approach was much used in the 1960s in the study of "nation building" especially of post-colonial African States. A "security community" could also be a stage in relations among States as the term has become common in OSCE thinking.  For Deutsch, a security community was a necessary halfway house before the creation of a State or a multi-State federation. Deutsch stressed the need for certain core values which created a sense of mutual identity and loyalty leading to self-restraint and good-faith negotiations to settle disputes.

Core values established and quickly disappeared

During the negotiations leading to the Helsinki Final Act, a set of 10 core values or commitments were set out, sometimes called the OSCE Decalogue after the "Ten Commandments".  "Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty and non-intervention in internal affairs" set the framework as well as the limitations of any efforts toward a supranational institution. The two other related core values were "the territorial integrity of States and the inviolability of frontiers."

The core values were not so much "values" as a reflection of the status quo of the Cold War years.  By the time that the Charter of Paris for a New Europe  was signed in November 1990, marking the formal end of the Cold War, "territorial integrity and the inviolability of frontiers" as values had disappeared.

The 1990s saw the breakup of two major European federations − that of Yugoslavia and the USSR.  Most of the work of the OSCE has been devoted to the consequences of these two breakups.  Yugoslavia broke into nearly all the pieces that it could with a few exceptions.  I had been asked to help support the independence of Sandzak, a largely Muslim area in Serbia and part of Montenegro. I declined, having thought at the time that with a few modifications the Yugoslav federation could be kept together. I was wrong, and the OSCE is still confronted by tensions in Kosovo, renewed tensions in Macedonia, an unlikely form of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as social issues of trafficking in persons, arms, drugs and uncontrolled migration.

The breakup of the Soviet Union has led to a full agenda of OSCE activities.  The republics of the Soviet Union had been designed by Joseph Stalin, then Commissar for Nationalities so that each republic could not become an independent State but would have to look to the central government for security and socio-economic development.  Each Soviet republic had minority populations though each was given the name of the majority or dominant ethnic group called a "nationality".

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, there have been recurrent issues involving the degree of autonomy of geographic space and the role of minorities.  The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh had already started before the breakup, but continues to this day with its load of refugees, displaced persons and the calmer but unlikely twin, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.  Moldova and Transdniestria remain a "frozen conflict" with a 1992 ceasefire agreement. The armed conflicts in Chechnya  and violence in Dagestan highlighted conflicts within the Russian Federation.  The 2008 "Guns of August" conflict over South Ossetia between Russia and Georgia showed that autonomy issues could slip out of control and have Europe-wide consequences.

A Cloudy Cristal Ball

Predictions, especially about the future, are always difficult.  In 2013, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Leonid Kazhara, said " We wish to contribute to the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community free of dividing lines, conflicts, spheres of influence and zones with different levels of security...There is a pressing need to, first of all, change our mindsets from confrontational thinking to a co-operative approach.  I am confident that Ukraine, with its rich history, huge cultural heritage and clear European aspirations is well placed for carrying out this mission."

Today, Ukraine's rich history has a new chapter, recreating old dividing lines and spheres of influence.  The shift in "ownership" of Crimea indicates that "territorial integrity of States" is a relative commitment.  The large number of persons going to Russia as refugees and to west Ukraine as internally-displaced persons recalls the bad days of displacement of the Second World War. NATO has dangerously over-reacted to events in Ukraine.

It is not clear that the current leaders of the 57 governments of the OSCE have the wisdom or skills to lead to a renewal of the Security Community.  Yet when one looks at the photos of the government leaders who did sign the Helsinki Final Act 40 years ago, there are few faces indicating wisdom or diplomatic skills so perhaps all is not lost today.  Very likely, as in the period between the events of 1968 and the start of government negotiations in 1972, there will need to be non-governmental voices setting out new ideas and creating bridges between people.

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 Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizen

 

International Day of Friendship
by Rene Wadlow
2015-07-30
The United Nations General Assembly established in 2011 July 30 as the International Day of Friendship.  The Day was to be a continuation of the themes of dialogue and mutual understanding proposed in the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010).  I had been active in getting the General Assembly resolution voted, building on the earlier Year of the Culture of Peace. My effort, backed by UNESCO which had been at the start of the concept of a "culture of peace", was to add the word "nonviolence" to make the concept still clearer.  Then, some of us wanted a focus on children because who can be against doing things for the benefit of children?  It turned out during the negotiations prior to the introduction of the resolution that the UK and the USA were against the whole concept but were pushing the idea that "we are already doing enough for children by supporting UNICEF".
int01_400Finally, in light of wide support for having such a Decade, the UK and the USA backed off although they had made a strong try to get "nonviolence" out of the title. There was still some debate as to the wording of the Decade.  A colleague in New York called me in Geneva about the debate over the title.  I replied "that the title was too long for public relations reasons, but it was not up to NGO representatives to suggest cuts.  Let the governments do as they want for the title as long as they vote the resolution by consensus."  The governments kept all the words, voted the resolution by consensus and then did very little else.  Both peace and nonviolence did not standout strongly during the 2001-2010 decade.
At the end of the Decade, there was a need to continue the spirit, and "friendship" could be seen to combine peace and nonviolence.  Thus we now have a yearly International Day of Friendship.
The idea of an International Day of Friendship had been first developed in the 1930s in the United States of America by the president of a well-known company which made Christmas cards, Birthday cards, and cards to send on Mother's Day.  He suggested that everyone send cards to their friends and even people they did not know indicating the joys of friendship and the need to keep ties active and strong.
For a few years, there was a certain active interest, but then it looked too much like a commercial venture for his company to sell cards. In the middle of the summer, there were no other Days to celebrate, so a Day of Friendship could be a form of sales promotion.  By the end of the 1930s and the start of the Second World War, the idea of an International Day of Friendship celebrated by sending cards had disappeared.
Now, however, we live in a different period of time than in the 1930s.  Although there are still many world tensions and local wars as in the Middle East, the idea of friendship among  all the peoples of the world could become a real force for cooperation.
Emails and the Internet can spread the idea that friendship is the basis of freedom in the world as it elevates the spirit.  Friendship is as a ray of light coming from the burning core of the soul.  Friendship can be a kind of love, a happy feeling when sharing a secret.
Paper still has its uses, and one can write a short text on the importance of friendship within the family, the school, neighborhood, nation and the world and send it to friends known and not yet known.  30 July, a day to renew and deepen friendships.
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Rene Wadlow, President and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens.

 
 
 
 
 
  Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
by Rene Wadlow
2015-08-31 11:25:40

31 August is the birth anniversary of Maria Montessori, an Italian childhood educator and world citizen. Her approaches to early childhood education are used both in Montessori schools and also more widely in other schools and home schooling.

Maria Montessori, inspired by the role of her mother was a life-long feminist breaking down barriers which tried to exclude women.  She insisted to be allowed to enter medical school in Rome at a time when the school had only men as students, thus becoming one of the first Italian female M.D. in Italy in 1896. She became known for her work with illiterate children at her Casa dei Bambini, a school set up in 1907 in a building in the slums of Rome. There she developed her own principles of learning.  Montessori had been strongly influenced by the tactile educational methods used for deaf-mutes and retarded children that had been created by two French physicials Jean Itard and his student Edward Seguin.  She took special interest in the retarded and slow-learning children who were locked up in wards without toys or learning materials of any kind.

In her Casa dei Bambini, she developed a system to help children distinquish letters, geometric shapes and colors through the use of tactile materials.  The children were allowed to move freely in the classroom and to progress at their own pace.  They became so involved with the didactic materials that they chose them over toys and began exhibiting new powers of concentration and conflidence.  As the system evolved, she also introduced child-size furniture and new elements to the curriculum that related closely to the daily life of the child, such as gardening, gymnastics, tendings plants and pets, and preparing a communal meal.

In her writings Montessori drew from a variety of sources including psychoanalytic insights concerning the unconscious, which challenged the adult-centric perceptions of early childhood.  She argued for a child's dignity and autonomy. In The Secret of Childhood she wrote “The adult has become egocentric in relation to the child, not egotistic, but egocentric.  Thus he considers everything that affects the psyche of the child from the standpoint of its reference to himself, and so misunderstands the child.  It is this point of view that leads to a consideration of the child as an empty being, which the adult must fill by his own endeavours, as an inert and incapable being for whom everything must be done, as a being without an inner guide, whom the adult must guide step by step from without. And in adopting such an attitude, which unconsciously cancels the child's personality, the adult feels a conviction of zeal, love and sacrifice”.  (1)

Her emphasis on developing the potential of each child was part of a then new educational current as seen in the efforts of Percy Nunn and the New Education Fellowship in England, Ovide Decroly in Belgium, John Dewey in the USA and Rudolf Steiner in Germany.  Like Steiner, Montessori believed in the existence of “sensitive periods” or critical phases for learning, largely set out by age.  She argued that children have a unique consciousness and a special sensitivity in the early years, which must be nurtured and allowed to develop along its own course. She viewed the child as a “Spiritual Embryo” that contains within itself “a pattern of psychical instinct of functions that will set it in relation to its environment.”  Montessori also placed great emphasis on the value of cooperation and of early childhood as being an important step in education for peace.

In 1934, the Fascist government of Mussolini closed the Montessori schools in Italy as Hitler did in Germany and then in Austria when Hitler's troops moved into Vienna.  Creative thinking among children was seen as a danger by dictatorships − no doubt correctly.  One of the Jewish teachers in the Montessori school of Vienna fled to Benares, India, the headquarters of the Theosophical Society.  Thus, in 1939, Montessori and her son Mario left for India to give an educational training course in Benares organized by the Theosophical Society. In one of those bureaucratic ironies, in September 1939, when England went to war against Germany and Italy, Montessori and her son became “enemy aliens” at first confined to the compound of the Theosophical society.  There were enough protests that the Viceroy changed the policy for the Montessoris to special reservations concerning travel within India and a prohibition on leaving India.  Thus she spent the war years until 1946 in India where her educational ideas influenced a growing number of Indian teachers.

Given the start of the war, Maria Montessori placed renewed emphasis on education as a factor of peace and of the special role that women should play in peace building, true then and still true today. In an article in 1939 “Peace Through Education” in the Visva-Bharati Quarterly edited by Rabindranath Tagore she wrote “ What we have to recognise is that mankind is bewildered by developments of widespred importance with which education has never dealt.  Men do not know what are the forces that draw them into war, and therefore they are absolutely helpless against them.  Society has evolved only on the material side, in this field powerful and complicated mechanisms have been built up, and in these modern man, still ignorant of the mind and incapable of cooperation is helplessly caught.  The child is misunderstood by the adult; parents unconsciously fight against their children instead of aiding them in their divine mission.  Parent and child misunderstand one another, a cloud comes between father and son at the very beginning of life.  And throughout childhood, it ismisunderstanding that makes a child sullen or rebellious, neurotic or stupid, for all these faults are foreign to his true nature.  In our experience with children, we have seen that the child is a 'spiritual embryo' able to evolve by itself and to give us actual proff of the existence of a better type of humanity.”

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Notes:
Maria Montessori. The Secret of Childhood (London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1936)
For a full biography see Rita Kramer. Maria Montessori, A Biography (Chicago: iversity of Chicago Press, 1976)

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 Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizen

 

 

 

The Joy of Learning

Rene Wadlow

 

Education is a chief motor of social transformation. Education is crucial for social progress. We each have within ourselves the ability to guide our own lives in a manner that is both personally satisfying and socially constructive.

 

In a classic poem of Sri Lanka, the narrator asks:

“What cannot be stolen by thieves or cannot be washed away by rapids

or cannot be confiscated by kings?”

 

The answer is that this treasure is Learning. Learning is all you need for the future.

 

Learning is acquiring, transmitting and applying knowledge. There are many situations in which we can learn if we are open to experience. There are many people from whom we can gather knowledge, information and skills. At the heart of all learning, there is desire. It is said that by the spark of desire, the torch of knowledge is kindled.

 

Why do we all desire to learn? Part of the answer is that we learn to please those who are teaching us. We want to please our parents, our grandparents, our older brothers and sisters who are teaching us skills. Later we want to please our teachers and our fellow students in school. We are pleased that our efforts are noticed and appreciated. Thus it is important always to notice when a child or a student has mastered a new skill, when he has progressed on the path of knowledge. Often we are too busy to make an appreciative remark. Such a lack of appreciation can dim the fires of the desire to learn.

 

But the joy of learning is something more than the desire to please others. The joy of learning comes from a growing confidence in ourselves. Learning is the ability to create order within our own mind. We organize in an orderly way all the events which happen to us, all the things we see. As we learn more, more things fit into place. We understand better the laws of Nature. We understand better why people react as they do.

 

Because the joy of learning is an inner satisfaction, we are willing to learn even when it displeases those around us. There are students who have to make a real effort to go to school despite their parents' wishes that they work in the fields. Girls in particular have had to strive to get education when many in the society said “That is not a woman's role.” Little by little, this discrimination against girls has broken down as all saw that girls were as capable and as desirous as boys to learn.

 

Thus motivation is the driving force for education. There must be the will on the part of the individual to learn. There must be the motivation on the part of the society to teach. For each individual, there must be the will to possess the skills and the information necessary to participate in the life of the family, the community, the State, and the world society.

 

The lack of a will to learn is a danger both to the individual and to the wider society. This lack of will can cause students to drop out of school and to become marginalized. Yet likewise, there must be motivation on the part of the family, the community, the State and the world society to prepare the individual for intelligent and effective action in life.

 

The desire and joy of learning begins in the family. We can all remember the ways in which our mother and father, our grandparents, our brothers and sisters showed us the basic elements of life in community. They showed us how to eat − and later how to prepare food; how to speak, and then how to speak to others outside the family.

 

If learning in joy is begun within the family, it will usually continue through life. If, however, learning in the family is not done with love and patience, it is harder to create the will to learn in school.

 

If our children possess a strong will to learn, they will have a future blessed with discovery and opportunities. They will benefit the creative evolution of society. This will to learn must be encouraged by the family, which serves as a support system. A family can discuss important issues that are in the news or issues which have a real impact on the life of the family, such as the economic and social conditions of the society. Parents can show the children how to think logically in a step by step way. Parents can show children how to carry out research − from looking at the spelling of a word in the dictionary, to reading a chapter in a book or going to ask someone with specialist knowledge.

 

This will for knowledge is a way to overcome fear. When we do not know why something happens as it does, we are fearful. When we do not understand the changes which are taking place around us, we are filled with fear and uncertainty. Fear and uncertainty leads us to try to stop changes or if that is not possible, to look for an all-knowing leader who can control change. We may look for hidden enemies who are behind all the changes. Such attitudes are dangerous and can weaken the creative spirit.

 

Knowledge helps us to see order in life. We see regularity and patterns. We learn the ways in which things are connected one to another. It is this sense of order which gives us confidence in our ability to act wisely. The more we know, the more we see the laws of Nature at work.

 

The cause of many problems in our societies today is our failure to see the inter-relatedness of events. The condition of the environment is a good example of our actions. Ecosystems are being destroyed because we do not see the relation between one action (such as the overuse of pesticides to protect crops) with other events (such as impure water or the disappearance of birds).

 

The family supports social progress by the way in which knowledge is acquired in the home. If the answer to a question is always “Father knows best”, then such attitudes lead to a pattern of blind respect for the answers given by the leader. If, however, the way of discussing in the home is to say “Now, let us reason together; let us see how we can find the facts on which to base our decisions” then we help to build positive attitudes to learning and to an exchange of ideas. We see that mistakes are a natural and instructive part of learning.

 

The will to learn, the will to use our energy to research new areas of knowledge, the will to cherish knowledge and skills is the fundamental gift of the family to social progress and to a vital society.

 

 

 

On Citizenship in the 21st Century

 

[This post was previously published online at the website of the Global Transition Initiative, which is dedicated to promoting “Transformative Vision and Praxis.” It responds to an essay on global citizenship written by Professor Robert Paehlke ("Global Citizenship: Plausible Fears and Necessary Dreams"), who cogently advocates the formation of a Global Citizens Movement, including indicating how it might become effective. What seems important about such dialogue is the recognition that given the realities of this historical period, it is increasingly necessary for political thought and action to proceed by reference to human interests as well as being responsive to national, local, ethnic, and religious interests and values. A feature of modernity that is being rightly questioned from many angles is the presumed radical autonomy of human interests, especially the modernist illusion that the co-evolutionary dependence on nature and the environment was being superseded by the marvels of technological innovation. One way back to the future is to rethink political community—its boundaries and essential features—from the perspectives of participants, with citizenship being the secular signature of belonging and engagement, and ultimately, the sustainability not just of the community, but of the species.]

 

 

            Reading Robert Paehlke’s carefully crafted essay on global citizenship provides the occasion both for an appreciation of his approach and some doubts about its degree of responsiveness to the urgencies of the present or more specifically its adequacy in relation to the call for ‘transformative vision and praxis’ that lies at the heart of the ‘Great Transition Initiative.’ Paehlke is on strong ground when he ventures the opinion that the planetization of citizenship is an indispensable precondition for the establishment of global governance in forms that are both effective and fair. His insistence that global governance to be legitimate must address ethical issues as well as functional ones associated with sustainability is certainly welcome. He is also persuasive in advocating the formation of a global citizens movement (GCM) that takes advantage of the networking and mobilizing potential of the Internet, combining an initial focus on local challenges while nurturing a global perspective. His deepest sympathies clearly lie with a pluralistic and decentralized GCM that operates, at least for the foreseeable future, without leaders or a common program of action, and as such is likely in his words to be “less threatening” to the established order (p.3). But here is where my analysis and prescriptive horizons departs from his—if a transformative global movement is to emerge from current ferment, then it seems strategic to become more threatening, not less. Flying below the radar is not the kind of praxis that will awaken the human species from its long and increasingly dangerous world order slumber.

 

            I would say that the defining feature of Paehlke’s approach is an implicit belief that with enough patience and persistence we can get to the ‘there’ of effective and equitable global governance from the ‘here’ of neoliberal globalization and state-centricism that is accentuating inequality and human insecurity within and between states. He envisions a transformative movement as possible if prudent efforts are made to induce enough global reform to facilitate the kinds of economic development that manages to deliver equity and environmental protection across borders. There is present in Paehlke’s worldview a sophisticated linear interpretation of world history that is particularly exhibited through changes in the organizational scale of political communities and in the application of technology to the fundamentals of economic, social, and political life. In his well chosen words, the spread of GCM will likely occur “as crises mature and more people appreciate that global governance is where the long arc of human history is taking us—and has been for centuries.” In effect, just as the small kingdoms of feudal Europe became too small to handle the expansion of productive capacities and the enlargement of the market, so in the 21st Century the state is no longer able to be responsive to the magnitudes of the challenges facing humanity, a reality that he hopes the formation and activity of GCM will highlight and circumvent. Paehlke makes clear that his advocacy of global citizenship does not imply either a prediction or prescription that the only appropriate form of global governance is world government. He leaves open to the dynamics of interaction, how transformative governmental adjustments will be made, implying that there are alternative paths to optimal forms of future global governance and that history encourages the confidence that needed adjustments will be forthcoming.

 

            Understandably preoccupied with the inequalities stemming from current patterns of economic globalization, Paelhke believes that a robust GCM will tend to shift political consciousness from the competitive logic of a world of states to the communal logic of a world of people. Such a shift, should it occur in relation to the agenda of global policy bearing on human security would indeed go a long distance toward satisfying the ideational prerequisites of the Great Transition Initiative. But I find it hard to believe that this shift in outlook could come about unless it is actualized by a prior radical and worldwide social movement that shakes the foundations of the established political and economic order. These differing logics also reflect the multiple unevenness of various national circumstances that bear on the wages and safety of workers, and others, as well as fixing the appropriate level of environmental protection. At stake, also, is whether there exists enough common global ground to overcome geographic locus of global policy that has up to this point in modern times given us a world of competing national and transnational interests. How these kinds of tensions can be overcome by approaching policy making from the perspective of shared challenges and opportunities seems daunting, and suggests that the GCM, despite being oriented by Paehlke toward the local, will fail exert much transformative leverage. To exert transformative influence it would have to reorient political consciousness toward the North Star of human interests, which presupposes a qualitative departure from the bounded space of territorial sovereign states whose leadership regards itself pledged to maximize national interests while at the same time, without acknowledgement, promoting transnational financial flows and capital efficiency. The ‘without acknowledgement’ is important as national political leaders must hide the extent to which they are captives of entrenched economic elites and thus need to deceive the citizenry as to why certain policy adjustments cannot even be proposed.

 

            As Andreas Brummel aptly observes, a robust GCM would benefit greatly from the establishment of some form of global parliament, which has been long advocated by those who do not accept the conventional strictures of citizenship as linked to nationalism. Such a parliamentary institution, depending on how it emerged, could begin to articulate global policy from contrarian perspectives to those associated with the outlook of leading states. Especially important would be articulations of the human and global interest, as well as bringing to bear a variety of views not represented by governments acting on behalf of national interests and dedicated to the promotion of transnational capital in all its forms. To develop a transformative consciousness we must first understand the wide gaps between a nationally oriented political consciousness and one that is humanly oriented.

 

            Such a positive outcome cannot be assumed to follow from the mere establishment of a global parliament. As soon as such an institution achieves gains in stature it would almost inevitably become a site of struggle for competing worldviews, including class conflict and a variety of culture wars. I mention such concerns in light of the recent experience of the European Parliament, which has had the roller coaster ride of being long discounted as an irrelevant talk shop before being taken gradually more seriously, and now becoming significant enough to alert reactionary forces in Europe to its political potentialities. These regressive forces are now poised to take over the institution with the evident intention of pushing the European Union further in Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, and socially harsh directions. These risks of cooption and neutralization cast a thickening cloud over the near future of the European Parliament, and in various ways clarify why over the decades the United Nations has so disappointed expectations of those seeking a peaceful and just world order, and seems often to have been the scene of an institutional race to the bottom.

 

            In effect, I am arguing that a reformist outlook, while useful, is not mobilizing in relation to the deeper concerns about the human future. Such a more relaxed outlook as to the global setting implicitly believes that there is ample time and political space for the transformative forces of humanism to work their magic. I find the evidence and tendencies to be quite the opposite. We are living in a time of emergency as far as the human species is concerned. I know this political consciousness has existed previously. Some respected observers, insist that apocalyptic fears are nothing other than a symptom of all civilizational transitions, and that ours reflects the ending of modernity. In opposition, I would argue that the apocalyptic realities of the current challenges make the claim of emergency the only responsible reaction due to the evidence surrounding growing risks of species collapses. I realize that Paehlke is arguing against such world order ‘alarmism,’ which he and many other believe to be politically debilitating. I contend, in opposition, that we must orient praxis toward the real if we wish to act with sanity and in a aroused spirit of dedication.

 

            The world has had several decades to react and adapt, but has not done so. I would point to the normalization of nuclear weaponry in the security mentality of powerful states and the inability of these same states to act responsibly in relation to the strong scientific consensus as to the menace of climate change, particularly global warming. What these failures of response to such fundamentally threatening developments disclose, above all, is a biopolitical uncertainty as to whether the human species as a species has a sufficient will to survive. We know that individuals have such a will, which is generally extended to embrace family, loved ones, and even friends and neighbors. Also, nationalism has demonstrated the intensity of a national will to survive even at great potential cost to the partial self of nationhood and the larger self of humanity as a whole. The shared security commitment of lead governments to nuclear deterrence during the Cold War expressed an omnicidal readiness to risk the fate of the species, and thereby give an absolute value to the survival of the state and nation. Our hopes for the future depend on determining whether this apparent weak will to survive at the level of the human species is hard-wired into our collective mental processes or is a contingent byproduct of modernity encased in a state-centric and neoliberal world order that can be reconfigured for survival and justice, but not without a difficult struggle.

 

            Despite my appreciation of Paehlke’s hopes for the GCM and the fact that many of his formulations are congenial, I find the overall framework of thought and action too constrained by the assumptions that global citizenship can be understood and enacted as a spatial phenomenon. This includes the bias toward promoting local solutions to the extent possible to avoid dangerous and unpopular concentrations of political power. I would argue that time is as important as space in the reconfiguration of citizenship, especially as the challenges become more severe with the passage of time. For instance, compare the relative simplicity of achieving total nuclear disarmament in 1945 when only one country possessed a few atomic bombs with the complexities associated with trying to negotiate a disarmament treaty with nine nuclear weapons states that have vastly different security priorities and perceptions. Or consider the difficulties of addressing climate change after the planet heats up by 4 degrees Celsius or more by mid-century as compared to dealing with greenhouse gas emissions effectively in the 1990s when the nature of the threat was first convincingly established by the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion. Even those with some sensitivity to gravity of the challenge, such as Barack Obama, are so constrained by the practicalities of politics, that they continue to limit recommended solutions to those that are market-based, and have already been demonstrated to be ineffective. The larger point here is that citizenship must become as oriented toward time and the future at least as much as toward the geographies and peoples now living within territorial boundaries. To capture this sense of space/time I have previously championed the ideal of ‘citizen pilgrims,’ those engaged in a journey toward a sustainable and emancipated future that acknowledges and acts upon mounting threats to human survival as well as tries hard to make the planet more morally, aesthetically, and spiritually responsible.

 

            Paehlke ends his essay by distancing himself from ideological markers of left/right, and by saying that GCM “need not primie facie oppose ‘globalization’ or ‘capitalism’” in its commitment to finding “quick, small, visible victories that enhance the efficacy felt by citizens” in relation to problems requiring global solutions. In his essay there is missing any critique of the links between militarism and neoliberal globalization or between global inequalities and the post-colonial interventionism and force projection of the West, especially the United States. There is a certain originality in Paehlke’s stress on the lack of confidence by citizens in relation to activity in the public sphere given the way state and market function in our world. Yet in the end I find restoring confidence in citizen efficacy and the encouragement of working within the system to be the wrong way to go given what we know, fear, and hope. So conceived GCM is likely to divert our attention while we as a species move ever closer to the Great Transition of our nightmares. In essence, to approach the Great Transition of happier dreams we must begin by distinguishing between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ This may seem divisive, but in a world so hierarchical and divided by class, race, gender, to do otherwise is to retreat disastrously from the realities of political life. It is fine to crave unity, but in the meantime we are entrapped in a series of structures that reward conflict, exploitation, and take disunity and enduring division as endemic to the human condition. At best, we can affirm dialogic modes of being in the world, an engagement with ‘otherness’ in all its forms, but also with the humbling recognition that there are radically different appreciations of what needs to be done.

 

Author : Richard Falk

Source : http://richardfalk.wordpress.com


 

 

Enhancing Human Rights Globally: The Role of NGOs in the UN



Rene Wadlow*



Our age which has often been so cruel, can now pride itself on having witnessed the birth of a universal human rights movement. In all walks of life brave individuals are standing up for their brothers who have been reduced to silence by oppression or poverty. Their struggle has transcended all frontiers, and their weapon is knowledge…Defending human rights today means above all bringing the most secret crimes to light. It means trying to find out and daring to speak out with complete objectivity, something which requires courage and occasionally, even heroism… The United Nations is cognizant that, for human rights to be more fully recognized and respected, the awareness and support of all are required. Javier Perez de Cuellar ,then Secretary General of the United Nations





As we mark each 10 December the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — marking the day in 1948 when the Declaration was adopted in Paris— it is inevitable that we look at the large gap between the aims of the Declaration and the practice of States.. It is easy to grow cynical at governmental double standards, politically selective hypocrisy and tactical alliances. Yet success in the human rights field depends on a continuing commitment to outwit those who have a vested interest in keeping the UN weak and unable to act effectively. It is important to note the landmarks of progress. These are some of the victories where intense effort and creative cooperation among representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN Secretariat, independent experts, and a few representatives of progressive governments created awareness, worked to get resolutions adopted, and built structures for follow up. Each case would merit a fuller analysis and character sketches of some of the players, but that would be a book rather than an article.



I list 10 victories which seem to me to be real advances. Others would no doubt make different lists, but as an NGO representative to the UN in Geneva, I had participated in each of these advances and knew the key players. Governments, who alone have the ability to vote UN resolutions in the end, happily take credit for advances. Yet in these cases, progress was made by ideas coming from NGO representatives, helped by UN Secretariat civil servants who must keep a “low profile”, and the representatives of some governments where an issue touched them personally — and did not go against their government’s policy.



1) Awareness of the rights and conditions of indigenous and tribal populations. When this issue was first raised in the early 1980s “indigenous” were considered to be only the Indians of North America who had come in force to present their case in Geneva. Some governments finally went along thinking that such analysis would be a subtle criticism of the USA without costing them anything. However, the International Labour Organization Convention N° 109 on indigenous peoples, the only UN treaty on the matter, speaks of “indigenous and tribal”. Thus, it was possible to raise issues of tribal groups in south-east Asia such as the Chakma of Bangladesh, who are not “indigenous” having migrated from south China over the last 1000 years but have a tribal society. Much of the advances in the field are due to the skills and dedication of Ms Erica Daes who for many years chaired the Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Now, the indigenous and tribal issues cover a wide number of countries and have moved to center stage.



2) Torture. When the use of torture was first raised in 1973, torture was thought to be a rare practice limited to a small number of countries. It turns out that it is, in fact, widely used by a large number of countries. Getting torture to be a recognized issue and having the Commission on Human Rights create the post of Special Rapporteur on Torture owes much to Sean MacBride (1904-1988) at the time chairman of the Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974) and Nobel Peace Prise laureate (1974). MacBride had been the Foreign Minister of Ireland (1948-1951) and knew how governments work. He had also been a long-time member of the Irish Republican Army (1917-1936) and knew well how police as well as insurgencies work having spent time in prison. MacBride called torture an ‘epidemic’ perpetrated by regimes ‘to control dissent and maintain power.’ The well-organized campaign against torture brought together numerous NGOs to pressure governments in the UN General Assembly to take action.



3) Death Penalty. The efforts for the abolition of the death penalty also owe much to Amnesty International and its long-time Secretary-General the late Martin Ennals. His role, often in the background but always on key issues, is an example of how NGO impact can be made.



4) Conscientious objection to military service. Conscientious objection as a human rights was a long but successful fight on the part of a small number of NGOs such as the Quakers, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the International Peace Bureau. It was led by the representatives of Ireland, Canada and Austria — all of which have armies but whose representatives went “that extra mile” to overcome opposition and get the resolution passed.



5) Child Soldiers. The attention now given to the human rights violations from the existence of child soldiers — both the fact that children are taken as soldiers and the human rights violations that they are forced to commit was brought to the attention of the Commission on Human Rights by the Quakers and the NGO Defense for Children. This led to the creation of a Special Representative on Children in Conflict as well as attention at the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court.



6) The Right to Housing. The right to housing and especially the destruction of houses in the process of slum clearing, often done without re-housing, owes its place on the human rights agenda to a small number of NGOs but who had dramatic examples of abuses. There is now an active Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing.



7) Freedom of Religion and Belief. It was a 20-year effort to get the adoption in 1981 of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief. It was an effort kept alive by a small number of States and NGOs. It is not sure that as far-reaching and complete a Declaration could be drafted today. The Declaration serves as a guideline for the right to belief in many of the current religious-based tensions.



8) The Rights of Women. It is always strange how difficult it is to get proper attention to the rights and condition of women since they are half and probably more of humanity. Nevertheless, it has been a long effort largely carried by NGOs. It is a multifaceted effort and was helped by a series of UN-sponsored conferences on women. Geneva-based NGOs such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom have played key roles. The concept that women exist and thus have rights has brought together NGOs who are often divided on other issues.



9) Systematic rape. The awareness of systematic rape as a crime against humanity has grown as part of the broader effort on the equality of women mentioned in point 8. Many of the NGOs concerned with equality of women have been concerned with domestic violence as well. Thus, they reacted strongly to reports of systematic rape during the conflicts in former Yugoslavia. This issue has also been raised concerning the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, and in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.



10) Human Rights Defenders. I leave for last our auto-defense: the efforts to protect human rights defenders on the front lines. Raising human rights issues in a good number of countries can get you into trouble. Even writing to Amnesty International is not a danger-free practice in some places. The killing in Moscow of Anna Politkovskaia, in 2006, a journalist critical of the conflict in Chechena, is there as a symbol of all those on the front lines of human rights efforts. Thanks to NGO efforts, the UN has created a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders — a constant reminder to governments and in some cases non-governmental militias that they are being watched





All these victories are fragile, and there are governments who would want them reversed or forgotten. But on Human Rights Day, we can welcome these advances, remember those whose drive, skills and determination helped bring forward these issues which many would have left in the dark. We need to prepare for the next battles which are not far away.



*Rene Wadlow, President and representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens


 

 

 

The Association of World Citizens Promotes Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship
                                                         Rene Wadlow*
 
            The Association of World Citizens stresses that our oneness with humanity and our acceptance of the whole planet as our home involves a process of change both in the attitudes of individuals and in the policies of States.  Humanity is clearly moving towards participation in the emerging World Society.  An awareness of the emerging World Society and  preparation for full and active participation in the emerging World Society is a necessary element of education at all levels, from primary schools, through university and adult education.
 
            The Association of World Citizenship stresses that a World Citizens is one: 
            Aware of the wider world and has a sense of his role as a world citizen;
-         respects and values diversity;
-         has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally;
-         is outraged by social injustice;
-         is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place;
-         participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global.
 
            The Association of World Citizens believes that World Citizenship is based on rights, responsibility and action.
 
            The rights and freedoms are set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  These UN-sponsored human rights treaties are the basis of world law which deals directly with individuals and not just with States.
 
            In most cases, there are procedures that exist for the redress of violations of these rights at the national, regional, and UN levels.  These rights should enable all persons to participate effectively in national, regional and the world society.
 
            The idea of responsibility has been often discussed within the United Nations, but it has been impossible to set out agreed-upon obligations.  Rather, a sense of responsibility toward the Planet and toward others is left to the individual’s conscience and moral sense. Nevertheless, a sense of responsibility, an ethical concern for social justice, and the dignity of humanity is central to the values of a world citizen.
 
            Action is at the heart of the attitude of a vibrant world citizen.  Action must be based on three pillars: knowledge, analysis and skills.
 
            Knowledge: Background knowledge, a sense of modern history, of world trends, and issues of ecologically-sound development is fundamental.  As one can never know everything about issues that require action, one needs to know where to find information and to evaluate its quality for the actions one wants to undertake.
 
            Analysis: It is important to be able to analyse current trends and events, to place events in their context, to understand the power relations expressed in an event.  One needs to try to understand if an event is a “one-time only” occurrence or if it is part of a series, an on-going process, if it is a local event or if it is likely to happen in other parts of the world as well. 
 
            Analysis is closely related to motivation.  If from one’s analysis, one sees a possibility for creative action alone or with others, one will often act.  If from analysis, it seems that little can be done as an individual, then one can urge a government to act.  The degree of personal involvement will usually depend on the results of the analysis of a situation.
 
            Skills: Political skills are needed to make an effective world citizen.  A wide range of skills is useful such as negotiation, lobbying, networking, campaigning, letter writing, communications technology and preparing for demonstrations.  These are all essential skills to join with others for a strong world citizen voice in world politics.  Some of these skills can be taught by those having more experience, for experience is the best teacher.  It is by networking to new individuals and groups that one learns the potentials and limits of networking.
 
            In our period of rapid social and political change, the past cannot provide an accurate guide to the future.  Anticipation and adaptability, foresight and flexibility, innovation and intuition, become increasingly essential tools for creative political action.
 
            *Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


 

 

A World Citizen’s Call to Action
* Rene Wadlow
 
                     As world citizens, we are aware that we are entering into a new era in the evolution of humanity within the world society.  In order to develop a culture of peace based on reverence for life and non-violence, we join in cooperative action:
           
To advance human fellowship through mutual trust and understanding;
To overcome hostility and aggressiveness;
To foster an enlightened synthesis of cultures through education and dialogue;
To build with joy a world society based on freedom and justice.
 
                        Thus, together we strive to safeguard the delicate balance of the natural environment and to develop the world’s resources for the common good.
 
                        Together we work to safeguard and implement all human rights — civil and political, economic, social and cultural — as the foundations of a just world society.
 
                        Together, we strive to safeguard all communities from the scourge of war and violence and to develop non-violent methods to resolve conflicts.
 
                        We see the rise of a new spirit of liberty throughout the world.  The old structures of oppression and domination are crumbling — those of caste, class, gender and ethnicity. They are being replaced by the values of equality, respect and cooperation, with an emphasis on popular participation and ecologically-sound development.
 
                     Join us in this common cause!
 
         *Rene Wadlow, President and Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens


 

 

Action for World Citizenship

Humor and a Longer View

 

Citizens of the World need a strong sense of humor and a longer view of world trends when we see the rise of narrow and aggressive nationalistic policies in large and populated States. The governmental and constitutional crisis in Ukraine has brought into the open narrow, and in some cases, violent nationalist groups in all parts of the country.

 

Currently, the governments of the Russian Federation, Japan, China , and probably the new government in India − all play a nationalist card. “Think of us first and often, only. We are not concerned with the welfare of the Planet and humanity as a whole” is their appeal. To stress their point, flags fly in ever-greater numbers. Often these are the national flag, but in the case of some of the Ukrainian and Russian nationalist groups the flags have symbols too close to those of the 1930s Nazis in Germany to be chosen by accident.

 

Facing this rise in narrow nationalism, world citizens say “We have seen this comedy before. It starts out funny and more than a little absurd, but it ends up as tragedy.”

 

Thus, we need to stress that personal realization and positive peace arise from a concern for the Planet Earth and all its inhabitants. There is no reason to place an arbitrary borderline on the geographic area of our action for a fulfilling life for all.

 


 

 

 

Action for World Citizenship

Our Earth is a Small Star

 

Our earth is a small star in the

great universe, yet of it we can

make, if we choose, a planet unvexed

by war, untroubled by hunger or fear,

undivided by senseless distinctions of

race, color, or theory

Stephen Vincent Benet, US poet, author of John Brown's Body

 

The proposals of World Citizens for positive social changes helps to foster a vision of an emerging world society in an era of serious challenges represented by armed violence, persistent poverty and ecological destruction. Such proposals create images of a world that has not yet existed but is emerging from the structures of the old − the positive pregnancy of our time.

 

We need to expand our field of awareness as much as possible as we face new challenges. We need to develop a willingness to participate in our social evolution. A global consciousness will help the individual to involve himself in the global issues of the day − as both a creator and participant in the emerging world society.

 

Action for World Citizenship

A Healthier World Society

        

As Citizens of the World,  we need to grasp the amount of time, work, compassion, loving, and communication necessary to help move the world society into a healthier and more holistic direction.  Solid transformation takes time for assimilation and integration of changes.

 

A basic message of world citizens is that life is wholesome and creative.  World Citizenship can inspire our imaginations as we work for positive change.

 

 

 

 

World Citizenship: A New Pride of Being Human

 

         As the world citizen Norman Cousins wrote “What is most needed today are new realizations about man’s place in the universe, a new sense of life, a new pride in the importance of being human, a new anticipation of the enlarged potentialities of mind and a new joyousness in the possibilities for essential human unity.”

 

         World citizens (www.worldcitizensunited.org) stress that humanity needs a harmonious world order.  The structure of the emerging world society will be a test of humanity’s vision and greatness.  Such a test is not only a test of skills but also of philosophy.  If supreme value is given to life, it will be possible to create and maintain those institutions that are required to sustain and serve humanity

 

 

 

 

Action for World Citizenship

A Healthier World Society

As Citizens of the World, we need to grasp the amount of time, work, compassion, loving, and communication necessary to help move the world society into a healthier and more holistic direction. Solid transformation takes time for assimilation and integration of changes.

A basic message of world citizens is that life is wholesome and creative. World Citizenship can inspire our imaginations as we work for positive change.

Association of World Citizens -- http://www.worldcitizensunited.org

 

 

Rapprochement of Cultures and Creative Education

Rene Wadlow*

 

        

         The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the Decade 2013-2022 as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures building on the efforts in the UNESCO General Conference which had called for “the development of a universal global consciousness” based on dialogue and cooperation in a climate of trust and mutual understanding and for a “new humanism for the twenty-first century.” The Rapprochement of Cultures is a positive aspect of the process of globalization.

 

           Globalization is an empirical process of world integration driven by a variety of economic, cultural, political, and ideological forces as seen in such areas as market expansion, a global production pattern as well as cultural homogenisation.  In the fields of economics, politics, technology, environment and health, we see greater collaboration and interdependence.  Now, international conferences, common trade agreements and multinational projects are striving to find solutions to long-standing difficulties and to promote development in areas where the problems have become too great to be resolved by a single State.  We are learning, out of necessity, that competition has its limits.  To give one example, many of the issues in trade negotiations which go on in Geneva where I am an NGO Representative to the United Nations are about labour standards, environmental policies and human rights (such as products fabricated by child labour).  These are all deeply domestic matters which have now become part of international affairs.

 

         Has education been changing as quickly as the world economy?  How are we preparing students to meet the demands of the world society?  What role are schools playing in the formation of active world citizens able to make real contributions to the creation of a more peaceful society? Are we building the foundations of a New Humanism?

 

         Education is uniquely placed to help deal with the major problems facing the world society: violent conflict, poverty, the destruction of the natural environment, and other fundamental issues touching human beings everywhere.  Education provides information, skills and helps to shape values and attitudes. 

 

         It is true that education is not limited to the formal school system.  There are many agents of education: family, media, peers, and associations of all sorts.  Nevertheless, schools play a central role, and people expect schools to be leaders in the educational process.  Unfortunately, there are times when schools are left alone as the only conscious instrument of education.  Therefore, teachers need to analyse how other agents of society contribute to the educational process or, more negatively, may hinder the educational process or promote destructive attitudes and values.

 

         Education has two related aims. One is to help the student to function in society, be it the local, the national, and the world society.  The other aim is to help in the fullest development of the individual’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual capacities.

 

         There are three related ways to help prepare students for a fast-changing world in which people, ideas, goods and services increasingly cross State frontiers. These ways are related to:

1)     skills,

2)     content,

3)     values and attitudes.

 

         There is a need to teach those skills needed to be able to function effectively in the world: skills of goal setting, analysis, problem solving, research, communication, and conflict-resolution skills.  We need to place more emphasis on communication skills in our schools with an emphasis on personal expression through language and the arts.  Children need opportunities to acquire skills in writing, speech, drama, music, painting and other arts in order to find their own voices and expressions.

 

         The second area of importance concerns the content of education with an emphasis on modern history and geography, ecology, economics, civics, and the history of science and technology. There is also a need to organize a curriculum through the use of broad themes such as interdependence, change, complexity, culture and conflict.

 

         The third area concerns values and attitudes needed for living in a global society: self-confidence in one’s own capacity, concern and interest in others, an openness to the cultural contributions of other societies.  There needs to be a willingness to live with complexity, to refuse easy answers or to shift blame to others.  In practice, a good teacher makes a personalized combination of all these elements.

 

         One must be realistic in evaluating the difficulties of restructuring educational systems to make them future oriented and open to the world.  We all know the heavy structures of educational systems and the pressures to conform to the status quo.  We must not underestimate the narrow nationalistic pressures on the teaching of social issues or the political influences on content and methods.

 

         In order to understand the limits and the possibilities of change, teachers must be prepared to carry out research on the local community.  They must be able to analyse their specific communities.  It is always dangerous to make wide generalizations on the role of the family, the media, of religion as if it were always the same in all parts of the country or the same in all social classes and milieu.

 

         Thus, teachers should be able, with some sociological training, to carry out studies on the formation of attitudes, values and skills of their students by looking at the respective role of the family, the content of the media, and student participation in associations.  Such studies can be carried out in a cooperative way among several teachers so as to be able to go to greater depth.  Teachers could look for information to help answer such questions as “Are any groups excluded from participating in the community?”  “How can possible marginalisation be counteracted?”  “How can one study environmental and ecological issues locally?”  “What is the significance of different role models such as peers, parents, and educators?”  “In what ways can non-formal and informal learning environments be furthered?”

 

         There are more and more teachers who realise the direction of current world trends.  Migration puts other cultures on one’s door step. Thus, the importance of creative efforts for the Decade of the Rapprochement of Cultures. We all need to be encouraged by the advances being made.  We can help one another so that we may develop the culture of peace and active world citizenship together.

 

* Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

A World Citizen’s Call to Action
* Rene Wadlow
 
                     As world citizens, we are aware that we are entering into a new era in the evolution of humanity within the world society.  In order to develop a culture of peace based on reverence for life and non-violence, we join in cooperative action:
           
To advance human fellowship through mutual trust and understanding;
To overcome hostility and aggressiveness;
To foster an enlightened synthesis of cultures through education and dialogue;
To build with joy a world society based on freedom and justice.
 
                        Thus, together we strive to safeguard the delicate balance of the natural environment and to develop the world’s resources for the common good.
 
                        Together we work to safeguard and implement all human rights — civil and political, economic, social and cultural — as the foundations of a just world society.
 
                        Together, we strive to safeguard all communities from the scourge of war and violence and to develop non-violent methods to resolve conflicts.
 
                        We see the rise of a new spirit of liberty throughout the world.  The old structures of oppression and domination are crumbling — those of caste, class, gender and ethnicity. They are being replaced by the values of equality, respect and cooperation, with an emphasis on popular participation and ecologically-sound development.
 
                     Join us in this common cause!
 
         *Rene Wadlow, President and Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
 
 



 
The Association of World Citizens Promotes Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship
                                                         Rene Wadlow*
 
            The Association of World Citizens stresses that our oneness with humanity and our acceptance of the whole planet as our home involves a process of change both in the attitudes of individuals and in the policies of States.  Humanity is clearly moving towards participation in the emerging World Society.  An awareness of the emerging World Society and  preparation for full and active participation in the emerging World Society is a necessary element of education at all levels, from primary schools, through university and adult education.
 
            The Association of World Citizenship stresses that a World Citizens is one: 
            Aware of the wider world and has a sense of his role as a world citizen;
-         respects and values diversity;
-         has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally;
-         is outraged by social injustice;
-         is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place;
-         participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global.
 
            The Association of World Citizens believes that World Citizenship is based on rights, responsibility and action.
 
            The rights and freedoms are set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  These UN-sponsored human rights treaties are the basis of world law which deals directly with individuals and not just with States.
 
            In most cases, there are procedures that exist for the redress of violations of these rights at the national, regional, and UN levels.  These rights should enable all persons to participate effectively in national, regional and the world society.
 
            The idea of responsibility has been often discussed within the United Nations, but it has been impossible to set out agreed-upon obligations.  Rather, a sense of responsibility toward the Planet and toward others is left to the individual’s conscience and moral sense. Nevertheless, a sense of responsibility, an ethical concern for social justice, and the dignity of humanity is central to the values of a world citizen.
 
            Action is at the heart of the attitude of a vibrant world citizen.  Action must be based on three pillars: knowledge, analysis and skills.
 
            Knowledge: Background knowledge, a sense of modern history, of world trends, and issues of ecologically-sound development is fundamental.  As one can never know everything about issues that require action, one needs to know where to find information and to evaluate its quality for the actions one wants to undertake.
 
            Analysis: It is important to be able to analyse current trends and events, to place events in their context, to understand the power relations expressed in an event.  One needs to try to understand if an event is a “one-time only” occurrence or if it is part of a series, an on-going process, if it is a local event or if it is likely to happen in other parts of the world as well. 
 
            Analysis is closely related to motivation.  If from one’s analysis, one sees a possibility for creative action alone or with others, one will often act.  If from analysis, it seems that little can be done as an individual, then one can urge a government to act.  The degree of personal involvement will usually depend on the results of the analysis of a situation.
 
            Skills: Political skills are needed to make an effective world citizen.  A wide range of skills is useful such as negotiation, lobbying, networking, campaigning, letter writing, communications technology and preparing for demonstrations.  These are all essential skills to join with others for a strong world citizen voice in world politics.  Some of these skills can be taught by those having more experience, for experience is the best teacher.  It is by networking to new individuals and groups that one learns the potentials and limits of networking.
 
            In our period of rapid social and political change, the past cannot provide an accurate guide to the future.  Anticipation and adaptability, foresight and flexibility, innovation and intuition, become increasingly essential tools for creative political action.
 
            *Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens