Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Peace Starts with You – Insist on Peace!




By David Gallup

Garry Davis said that world peace begins with each of us putting the earth first: “Because it is your world! You are the ‘center’ of it. It revolves around you! You were born to it. And willy-nilly, you are already in it; in fact on it! And like it or not, you are therefore responsible for it … for the good and the bad. What is required is our individual commitment to one world and humanity first, and ourselves and our particular country second.”

In a recent tweet, spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said that world peace starts with the individual finding personal peace: “The creation of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin from the level of the individual, and from there it can expand to one’s family, to one’s neighborhood, to one’s community, and so on.”

When we recognize that the individual is a microcosm of humanity and that peace is a life-long process, the individual can seek both individual peace and world peace simultaneously. World peace depends upon the intertwining of the one and the many seeking peace.

Finding Inner Peace and Outer Peace

When we learn and build inner peace for ourselves as individuals, we can expand our knowledge and skills to help others learn and build outer peace.

If we see people in need, people suffering, people facing oppression and violence, we must find a way to help them. It could be speaking up or speaking out, lending a hand, checking in, sending clothing, making a donation, offering a shoulder to cry on, sharing food, providing free medical or other support, offering a safe haven, etc. In other words, we should act towards one another non-violently.

The term “non-violence” defines an action or state of being by using the opposite of how we should act as part of the term. Because people should focus on what we need to do to achieve peace, rather than what we shouldn’t do, it is important to use a positive term to describe how we can effect change in our world, both as individuals and collectively. Encouraging people to “act peacefully” is no longer enough to achieve dramatic change in how humans interact. We must now compassionately insist upon peace in our own lives and in our collective interactions. I suggest we use the stronger term “peace insistence” instead of “acting peacefully” or “non-violence.”

Peace insistence* is more than a commitment to acting non-violently. It is a question of ensuring that your interactions, your behavior, and that of others be conducted peacefully, that you consciously and consistently choose peace over aggression, and that you begin by finding peace in your own heart and mind.

The underlying elements of peace insistence are love, empathy, healing, and moving together and toward one another. Individual peace and world peace require us to move beyond non-violent action to peace insistence.

Peace Insistence through World Citizenship

If individuals do not have inner peace, it is difficult for them to participate in endeavors to build external peace in their surroundings, let alone build a loving, accepting, just, free, sustainable, and peaceful community.

Institutions reflect the values and ethics of those who create them. If individuals have suffered violence, exclusion, discrimination, harassment, poverty, oppression, etc., then the institutions they make will likely consciously or subconsciously have those experiences weaved into the fabric of the organizational structures, policies, politics, and milieu.

The current system of national division encourages killing, greed, and environmental degradation by exalting profit and competition over societal health, demanding incessant economic growth that favors the few over the many, and maintaining power dynamics with inherent structural violence.

The national-focused framework for human interaction values war and preparing for war over peace and building peace. Just one quarter of the trillion dollars that national governments spend on maintaining and “defending” fictional borders, would be enough for local communities to successfully deal with abuse, human trafficking, power dynamics, gender and different-identity othering, illiteracy, homelessness, corruption, global warming, toxic environment, and the lack of conflict analysis and resolution/non-violent communication skills.

At this point, humans have created too many complex problems threatening the earth and humanity’s survival. These problems can only be handled with complex, indigenous and unified processes. Humans do not have to agree on everything in order to agree that we would rather have a world than have none.

Causes of violence and conflict are rooted both in local and international frameworks, in our individual lives and in the wider society. We cannot apply processes of peace to resolve the root causes of violence with either/or approaches: local peace requires world peace; world peace requires local peace; and all peace requires individual peace.

By developing peace insistence skills and an understanding of our common identity as world citizens, individuals and institutions can be of value to each other in the process of dealing with root causes of negative conflict and violence.  

World citizenship is about acceptance of “the other” as if the other is related to us—as if the other is us but just separated by a different physical body, different experiences, and different education. World citizenship can help us create a “we and we” (or simply “we”) mentality (rather than an “us versus them” mentality). World citizenship can help us to meet people where they are, to listen and become aware of distinct voices and values, and to appreciate those distinctions even if the temptation is to automatically reject those distinctions.

Peace activist Azeezah Kanji says that we need to establish a “paraversal” community, meaning that uni-versal may not take into account all voices and values. “Universal” might drown out or dilute our individuality. We need a community that incorporates as well as transcends all diverse voices. We need an intersectional and parasectional community.

World citizenship brings people together to share their unique voices in developing solutions to global problems. Coming together as world citizens is not only about averting future crises; it is also about mitigating the crises we already face and perhaps finding a new sustainable path. Social, economic, political, ecological, local, and global peace require us to use all the tools we have and that we can imagine. World citizenship is about imagining, creating, and educating about a world system that can work for all.

Peace Insistence through Education

World citizenship engages change within and outside of individuals and institutions, within local spaces and within the world space. Change toward peaceful coexistence is dependent upon individuals as well as the institutions they develop having a world citizenship education and mentality.

How we educate youth and offer continuing education to adults will dramatically impact whether we will be successful in creating an ethical local and world community. Education is fundamental to all change, growth, and opening our minds to alternative perspectives. By sharing world citizenship ideas, people will become aware of the world and people beyond themselves, their family, friends, and local community.

Everyone already is a world citizen by birth and in fact, but putting into action world citizenship as an ethical framework or system for human interaction requires education and training, just like conflict resolution and collaborative development do. World citizenship is about opening people’s minds to the world as one web of life, providing the tools to help foster empathy and conflict resolutions skills internally and externally, at all levels of human interaction and within the individual human. Being a world citizen is about recognizing our link to, and having empathy for, our fellow humans and the earth. That means that we must nurture skills of living indigenously with all other beings and with our parent earth.

World citizenship and world governmental structures are meant to help us learn about and work together on issues that are more efficiently and effectively handled at the world level—issues that impact the entire earth and all of its inhabitants. Local governments will still govern locally and indigenously.

The tool of world citizen government provides a process of positive interaction of, by, and for the individuals of the world. As a world citizen, you do not give up any lower level allegiance or commitment. You do not give up your individuality. You affirm a commitment to yourself, to other individuals, to humanity, and to the earth—a commitment to learning how to live together sustainably, a commitment to insist on peace.

Each of us has the right, the power and the duty to commit to peace insistence.

_____________________________

*My definition of Peace Insistence: The individual and the community consciously and consistently engage the tools, skills, strategies and tactics of loving, empathetic self-perception and interaction through non-violent methods, harmonious engagement, sharing, learning and teaching peace, and rights-affirming activism. The process requires affirming to yourself and to those around you that you will choose to think and act peaceably, that you will seek out education to learn the skills of peaceful interaction, and that you will seek self-healing and offer support to everyone in the healing process.

Peace insistence may also contain elements of non-violent action, civil resistance, civil disobedience, non-cooperation, renunciation, withdrawal, civil and political disruption, legal advocacy, mediation, arbitration, non-conformity, individual and group intervention, economic boycott, strike, divestment, positive investment, protest, momentum-building, strategic organizing, long term planning, collaborative development, artistic, musical, scientific, mathematic, ethical, and comedic expression, indigenous creativity, training in peaceful communication, individual and group therapy, and the hundreds of other actions, processes and initiatives that maintain peaceful relationships as an ultimate goal. (See Gene Sharp’s list of “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.”)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Simultaneous 70th Anniversaries: Universal Declaration of Human Rights and World Citizenship Movement




By David Gallup

Two moments in recent history have helped us to realize that there is one humanity and one earth:

The first moment was when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. These bombs confirmed that humans have the power to eradicate humanity and destroy the entire world.

The second moment was when a rocket was propelled into near earth orbit in 1946, with an attached motion picture camera. The camera captured photographs of the earth as one unified whole.

These two moments provided competing visions, one view of the earth as a fractured planet and another view of the earth as one world. Representing two ends of an ethical spectrum, they forced humanity to choose between a world of destruction and a world of inspiration. Both moments ultimately led to the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and world citizenship.

Moments such as these helped to inspire Eleanor Roosevelt and Rene Cassin (drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) to establish universal principles to guide humanity, principles that would be applicable to everyone, everywhere.  The Declaration was a legal response to the violence and chaos of World War II. The drafters intended to establish a code of conduct for humanity in order to prevent a third world war.

These moments also inspired World War II veteran Garry Davis, as he describes in his memoir My Country is the World, to “willfully withdraw from the co-partnership of citizen and national state and declare himself a world citizen.” Garry was ashamed of his own direct participation as a bomber pilot 29,000 feet above the earth dropping bombs on his fellow humans.

1948 was the year that Garry Davis gave up his exclusive allegiance to a country and also the year that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated. Specifically, this December 10th marks the 70th anniversary of the unanimous adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, now viewed by many legal scholars as customary international law.  This year also marks the 70th anniversary of Garry Davis’s renunciation of national citizenship in favor of world citizenship, which has been followed by almost 2 million people world-wide who have also claimed world citizenship status.

What can we learn from this joint celebration of the Declaration of Human Rights and Garry’s declaration of human unity?

At the heart of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and at the heart of Garry Davis’s claim of world citizenship is the idea that humanity, human rights, and the earth itself, deserve a universal legal status, a universal identity, and a universal governing system. The UDHR drafters and Garry Davis responded to World War II by universalizing rights and by universalizing citizenship.

The UDHR was revolutionary. It created a human rights dialogue, so that people could engage in discussion of our universal freedoms and responsibilities.

Garry Davis’s renunciation of national citizenship also was a revolutionary act. He constructed a level citizenship that did not involve violence, war, or oppression to establish a world government.

In 1948, the framers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights envisioned the Declaration as a tool to teach everyone about our rights. They wanted the global public to demand that governments “secure universal and effective recognition and observance” of our rights, as the Preamble of the UDHR states. They wanted to create “a social and international order” in which everyone could share the world peacefully and in which everyone’s rights and needs would be fully met. They envisioned every day as a human rights day.

Both the drafters of the UDHR and Garry Davis knew that if the rights of all human beings were to be upheld, those rights would have to be codified – written down for all to see, all to learn, and all to implement. As the UDHR’s Preamble states, if humans are “not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, then human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”

In the halls of the UN, however, the squabbling of the nation-states continued throughout the autumn of 1948. The Russian government and several Soviet Bloc countries were threatening to vote against the Declaration.

If you saw the documentary “The World is My Country” about Garry Davis, you learned that he was instrumental in the unanimous signing of the Declaration. By December of 1948, Garry was world renowned for camping out on the steps of the United Nations when it was holding its General Assembly sessions at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, and for interrupting a session to demand the creation of a world parliament and world government. (His interruption occurred on November 19, 1948.)

On December 9th, 1948, the night before the UN general assembly vote on the Declaration, Garry Davis spoke before a crowd of 20,000 war-weary Europeans at the Velodrome d’Hiver Stadium in Paris. Calling for world government, Garry said, “We can no longer permit ourselves to be led by statesmen who use us as pawns in the game of national interests. We wish to be led by those who represent us directly: we, the individuals of the human community.”

This rousing speech made headlines throughout Europe and impacted the representatives of the states considering whether to accept or reject the Declaration.  The next day, instead of voting against the UDHR, 8 countries abstained.  This meant that 48 countries unanimously accepted the UDHR.  Now every member-state of the United Nations, when becoming members, must agree to abide by the Declaration.

It takes moments--like Garry Davis’s bold acts of civil resistance--to build momentum.

What does the UDHR and world citizenship tell us as about humanity’s roadmap to a peaceful world? Where do we go from here?

It’s time to rise up! We need a spark—like the character Katniss Everdeen—in the novel The Hunger Games.  Or like actual heroes Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Garry Davis. We need to know that we can each be the spark of world peace, and we need to teach others how to find their spark.

Just as Garry Davis created a movement in 1948 that inspired a global public searching for hope, unity and peace, we need to do the same.

As global warming, perpetual wars, and neo-nationalism threaten the existence of our rights and our human identity, NOW is the time to organize a new world citizenship movement for global change!  We need a movement that engages both incremental change through law and institutions, as well as moments of mass resistance.

We need to stage an uprising devised of political theater and activism. We need to interrupt the UN and nation-state system once again. Through coordinated disruption, sacrifice and escalation, we need to show that our world model resolves and transcends the anomalies of the nation-state paradigm. We need to unite universal rights and world citizenship into a movement that people will flock to.

Here are two concrete examples of how the World Service Authority (WSA) is igniting this movement, one through incremental change and one through immediate action:

For incremental change, the World Service Authority, along with partner organization Citizens for Global Solutions, is establishing World Citizen Clubs on high school and university campuses. We are using the theory of change and building momentum simultaneously by educating the minds and inspiring the hearts of youth around the world. World Citizen Clubs will get young adults to start thinking and acting as world citizens, claiming this status for themselves and providing an example for others. Engaging youth will help us to create the moments that lead to momentum in the world citizenship movement.

For immediate action, representatives of WSA’s World Citizen Center of Ojai have traveled to Tijuana to stand in support of people fleeing persecution in the Americas and around the world. Along with American Friends Service Committee, we are exposing the inhumanity of militarization and borders that separate humans from humans, perpetuating the divisions that lead to violence and war. We are shining a light on the injustices that refugees, stateless and undocumented people -- millions of our fellow humans -- face on a day-to-day basis.

This 70th anniversary of the UDHR and of modern world citizenship teaches us that we can imagine change, we can organize change, and we can be the change. We can be successful in igniting the world citizenship movement by coordinating our theory of change efforts with momentum from mass non-violent action.

By coordinating the principles of the UDHR and world citizenship, we can advance institutions and identity based on unity, rather than separation – based on our common needs, rather than our cultural differences. Respect for human rights and recognition of world citizenship strengthens us socially, economically, politically, legally, psychologically, and environmentally.

The strength that we gain through world citizenship and the universalization of human rights will not supplant the nation-state system or threaten local identity. The way to protect the local is to acknowledge the global. By achieving peace at the world level, we can ensure that local culture is preserved rather than destroyed by violence.

After World War II, the drafters of the UDHR and Garry Davis were compelled to imagine a world in which all human beings could live together in harmony. To take that image of peace and portray it in the world writ large, they had to make and be the change that they wanted to see. The drafters had to affirm the universality of our rights and Garry had to affirm the universality of our human identity.

Like the creators of the Declaration of Human Rights and Garry Davis, we must be the drafters and actors of own destiny. We must be the change we want to see in the world!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

70th Anniversary of the World Citizen Movement


By David Gallup

On May 25, 1948, Garry Davis stepped out of the US Embassy in Paris after taking the Oath of Renunciation of citizenship. No longer a citizen of one exclusive nation, Garry claimed his status as a citizen of the world.

Why would Garry Davis, a Broadway actor and comedian who just wanted to make people laugh, give up his US citizenship in favor of world citizenship? To answer that question, I will need to take you back to the early 1940s.

As a child and teenager, Garry loved acting. To Garry, the script of a play was like his prayer book and the theatre was like his temple, his mosque, his synagogue, his church, his place of worship.  The audience was like his parishioners. He wanted to make the audience happy, and in their laughter, he felt their love.

Garry’s dream of a life in theatre and movies came crashing down when he heard the news that his brother Bud had been killed in Salerno on his battleship. Garry’s sadness turned to anger and then to revenge. He became a bomber pilot set on destroying Hitler’s war factories.

But thousands of feet up in his B-17 airplane, as he was dropping bombs on villages, he knew he was killing women, men and children. His revenge turned to remorse. He would rather have been entertaining these people, making them laugh, rather than killing them.
When he came back from the war, he was disillusioned with the nation-state system that made him kill his fellow humans. He was shell-shocked. He suffered from post-traumatic stress from what he witnessed and from the acts of violence he committed.

He wanted out of the war game. He had heard of a young man who had gone to Europe to rebuild the churches that were destroyed during the war. And he read a book called Anatomy of Peace, by Emery Reves, a book that explained how humans could transcend the problem of war by coming together at the world level. So he decided to go to Paris, legally renounce his US citizenship, and begin to rebuild the world he had helped to destroy.

In his memoir, My Country is the World, he explains why he would give up his citizenship, an act that at that time was considered highly controversial and unpatriotic. He writes, “Homo sapiens, man calls himself. Sapiens: knowing, the perception of truth. But one of the tragedies of our times is that modern man, as man of ages past, doesn’t know himself. He has lost confidence in his own innate capacity. He restricts himself. And only then does he yearn to be free.”

He continues, “Man’s deadliest, self-imposed, restrictive device is nationalism. You and I may be fellow humans, but we are not fellow nationalists. I am a fellow who willfully withdrew from the co-partnership of citizen and national state and declared himself a world citizen. I have for my trouble, hung my hat in 34 prisons and two ships’ brigs. If spending time in the jails of the world, however would further the understanding of one world and one humankind, I would gladly forfeit my freedom again this very day.”

Garry saw the world holistically.  He viewed the whole world as his home, as his house of worship.  He wanted us to see the world, itself, as holy, as a sanctuary for our imagination. He loved to quote Albert Einstein who said that imagination is more important than intelligence.

Garry wanted us to imagine and then create a world that would work for everyone. When he renounced his national citizenship, he became stateless, persona non grata, with no country and nowhere to go. He needed to create an identity and status for himself to ensure that his rights would be respected. This is when he decided to declare himself to be a world citizen, with universal rights that should be universally respected, no matter where he found himself on earth.

Garry Davis devoted his entire adult life to promoting an awareness of this view of the world. Of the world as one. Of the idea that we are all world citizens with rights and duties to each other and the earth.

To create a just, sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world, it’s no longer enough to consider ourselves exclusively as citizens of one nation or another. We must all claim our status as world citizens!

You may register officially, legally and politically as a world citizen through the World Service Authority at www.worldservice.org/reg.html. You do not give up any lower level allegiance by claiming a higher allegiance to humanity and the earth.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy Re-Newal Year: The Human Right to Time


By David Gallup

The New Year provides an opportunity to reflect on time, which is a universal right. How time is celebrated and marked varies worldwide yet impacts all world citizens.

Although many celebrate January 1st as the start of the new year, Chinese celebrate the new year in late January or February, Iranians celebrate in late March, Hindus celebrate in March or April, Buddhists celebrate in April, Jews celebrate in September, Wiccans celebrate at the end of October, and Muslims celebrate based on shifts in the lunar calendar.

When people celebrate the New Year depends upon the calendar in use, which has varied over time, culture, religion and government. Some of the almost 100 different calendars include the Egyptian, Solar, Lunar, Yin-Yang, Mayan, Aztec, Hellenic, Roman, Julian, Celtic, Runic, and Gregorian. So January 1st and all other New Year’s celebrations are a human construct, a method of distinguishing how our lives fluctuate in comparison to one another in the space-time continuum.

Why do we choose to celebrate a new year, to put a border on part of our lives with a beginning and an end? Perhaps because we are alive for an infinitesimal amount of time, we want to mark milestones of our survival. We want to recognize the impact we world citizens have had on each other and the world around us. We want to comprehend the preciousness of time and how far humanity has progressed.

The universe moves at its own pace whether or not humans notice how long it takes for the earth to orbit the sun. Though the universe does what it will, we humans want a feeling of control. We celebrate the passage of time, the arrival of a new day, a new year, and the appreciation of what has gone and what is to come to have a sense of agency over how time passes. Self-imposed limits, such as marking of time, provide an appearance of structure, stability and security in an otherwise unpredictable world.

This recognition of time’s passing – the desire to track it, mark it, measure it – and the feeling of being bound by it is characteristically human, though not only human.

Like humans, our animal cohabitants of the earth also instinctually perceive time. They feel its impact through their visual, olfactory, auditory, gustatory, and tactile senses as well as through balance, motion, and magnetism. Elephants, chimpanzees, dolphins, and magpies recognize moments in time, such as “mourning” the loss of one of their tribe. Even plants and bacteria can sense time through changes in light and internal biochemical processes. An appreciation of the concept of time, and how it is used, is important for all beings, and in particular, humans as world citizens attempting to live together peacefully.

Human’s arrangement of time helps us to organize how we behave and interact with each other and the world around us. Our memory captures snippets of time, allowing us to repeat helpful events and actions and to avoid harmful ones. Storytelling, writing and photography, distinctly human capabilities, extend our memory, allowing us to travel through time. We can visit the past, describe the present, or imagine the future. As travelers-through-time, we can evolve as individuals, as humanity, and as part of the universe. We are certainly time keepers. When we recognize our rights and duties as world citizens, we can also be time givers.

Do we become older and wiser over time? Does time give us second and third chances? Does time give perspective?

The only time we can really change is now, how we use time in the perpetual present. Every day provides an opportunity for living anew.  Every day is a moment to make each other happy and to treat each other and the earth with respect.

Although time itself has no frontiers, we humans create borders of time to add order to our lives together.  To maintain that order, however, as world citizens we know that we do not need to separate one human from another by physical borders. In fact, we all share time, and time is free, in the sense that time is available without humans having to expend any energy to create it. We do need to spend energy in how we choose to use our time.  This is where human-made borders, divvying up the earth, favors some humans over others. Thus many people are deprived of their right to time.

How does our control of time empower some of us, and the lack of control subjugate others of us?

If you are living at a subsistence level, all you can do is spend your time working or looking for your next meal. Although we each have a duty to use some of our time to help others and to improve our communities, we also have the right to invest time in personal improvement and in enjoyment and wonder of being alive.

This right to time is affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

Article 24 of the UDHR affirms the right to leisure – meaning that we do not always need to use our time exercising our “right to work.” Article 24 states, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”

Article 27(1) of the UDHR provides another outlet for how we may use time. It states, “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”

Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also affirms the right to “participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.”

These affirmations of our right to leisure, to uncontrolled time, are another way of stating that work should not be the ultimate goal of how we “spend” our time. We say “spend” because time, along with being a human right, is also a commodity that has value – value that can be given, taken, shared, wasted, saved, lost, and gained.

We must cherish time. We must appreciate that we have a right to time. We must reaffirm our commitment to equality of opportunity and equality of outcome with regard to time; it is a duty of everyone to respect how each of us can use the time we have.

Just like having a minimum basic income, we need to have a minimum basic time allotment to spend on ourselves, not working or laboring.

Humans have great intellect. As time passes, we as a species must use our intellect to evolve how we use our time to achieve a sustainable, just and peaceful world. We can create a virtuous cycle of ever-expanding human wisdom and planetary improvement. In addition to promoting time rights and duties to each other, we must also ensure that we use some of our time to protect the earth, or our time will be nil. The time is now to recognize that we must implement a new era of human and earth harmony, together as world citizens.

Happy New Year! Happy New Now! Happy New World! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

69th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Unifying Human and Environmental Rights

By David Gallup
Why should we think beyond our humanness to a worldly, earth perspective? Does the earth have a right to exist independently from humans? Do animals, plants and even inanimate objects have rights? How should humans interact with the earth and ecosystem, not as “owners” of the earth, but as caretakers of the planet?

As we celebrate the 69th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 2017, let us take a moment to appreciate the bounty that the earth provides for humanity. It is a time to reflect, not only upon human rights, but also upon the rights of the earth itself. It is time to reflect upon how our human rights are dependent upon environmental rights. And it is time to reflect upon humanity’s duty to protect the earth.

Global warming, ozone depletion, rising sea levels, soil erosion, habitat destruction, species extinction, drug, pesticide, plastic and petroleum toxins in groundwater, pollutants in the air, landfills and oceans, deforestation, etc. These human created problems impact all life on the planet and pose a threat to all beings’ existence. We must consider how our human actions are violating that most fundamental right – the right to exist.  Although the focus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) pertains specifically to human rights, several Articles in the Declaration can be construed to provide a basic legal framework for considering environmental rights and duties as part of our human rights and duties.

The Human Focus of the UDHR

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed, humans were not fully aware of how our use of the earth and its resources could negatively impact the world. The link between human rights and environmental rights was not yet established. The UDHR focuses specifically on human rights, and only indirectly on environmental rights, for several reasons:

  1. The UDHR was created immediately after World War II when the rights of millions of people were violently, and for many lethally, violated. The UDHR was a reaction to the war, to develop laws of peace as an adjunct to the laws of war, with the expectation that once human rights are fully respected, humans would be less inclined to behave aggressively toward one another.
  2. The framers of the UDHR wanted to focus on human interactions – how we treat each other – in order to build a peaceful world.
  3. The conceptualization of other third or fourth generation rights (such as environmental rights) had not yet come into mainstream thought. The earth had for so long been looked upon as human property to exploit solely for human advancement.
  4. The scientific studies that reveal how treatment of the environment can impact our ability to claim and exercise our rights had not yet been conducted.
Even though the framers of the UDHR do not directly mention environmental rights, these rights can be deduced from Declaration.

The UDHR and Environmental Rights

We can extrapolate rights related to the earth from five articles of the UDHR: Articles 3, 25, 28, 29 and 30.

Article 3 of the UDHR affirms the rights to live, to freedom and to security: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.” We now know that if the earth dies, we humans die with it. To affirm our life, liberty and security, we have the duty to act towards nature sustainably and indigenously.

Article 25(1) of the UDHR affirms the rights to health and to fulfill basic needs: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” To advance the standard of living for humanity, we must respect the web of life that supports our health and well-being.  To have abundant food and to fulfill our basic needs, we must nourish the land and maintain clean air and water. While considering standards of living, we must also be mindful of how the priority of continuous economic growth, and its concomitant resource usage, negatively impacts the environment. The earth is facing greater and greater strain from human activities that exacerbate natural phenomenon such as hurricanes, wildfires, and seismic activity.  When we are not mindful and respectful of nature’s infrastructure, nature will wreak havoc on our human infrastructure.

Article 28 of the UDHR affirms the goal of living in a world of order rather than entropy: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” What does a social and international order look like, that allows us to fully realize our rights? That order will come from a holistic world system that equally values both human and environmental rights. That order will come from advocating for the earth. We humans must speak up for the earth, using our “reason and conscience” (as Article 1 states) to voice and implement what the earth needs in order to heal and flourish. That order will come from the awareness of both our rights and duties as world citizens to each other and to the earth.

Article 29 of the UDHR affirms that we humans have duties to each other and the world around us:  “(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” We must expand the notion of duty to the community to mean duty to the earth as a whole, rather than only to the human community. We must secure the recognition of rights of others with the consideration that “others” includes the environment. We must exercise our rights only to the extent that this exercise does not damage the earth.

Article 30 of the UDHR affirms that humans cannot engage in any activity or perform any act that destroys our rights: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.” In this final Article of the Declaration, we find our ultimate human duty to the planet. Destruction of the environment eventually destroys our rights.  More than any other human activity, war violates human rights and despoils the environment. Our human rights, and ultimately world peace, are dependent upon healthy, sustainable natural and human environments.

Moving Beyond the UDHR

As our understanding of humanity’s link to the earth has evolved, activists and lawmakers have established environmental laws in an attempt to regulate human interaction with the environment. More than 80 declarations, treaties and multilateral conventions have been ratified over the past 75 years in an effort to protect various aspects of the environment. Several of the most well-known, though not yet well-implemented, include the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on the right to a healthy environment, the 1992 Rio Declaration on the protection of the integrity of the earth’s ecosystem, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gases, the subsequent 1997 Kyoto Protocol and 2015 Paris Agreement, and the 1998 Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. In 2015, 193 countries adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, of which 8 directly pertain to the environment. National governments have given themselves until 2030 to try to achieve these goals.

As environmental activists have seen nation-state treaties come and go with big fanfare but little positive change, other attempts to declare the rights of the environment have come to the fore. In 2010, at the “World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth,” a Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth proclaimed the rights of the earth and all beings and the duties of humans to the earth. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have signed a petition in support of this rights of nature declaration. Activists plan to present more than a million signatures of support to the United Nations on the 70th anniversary of the UDHR next year with the expectation that the UN will adopt the Declaration. As with many declarations and treaties, relying upon the UN or individual nations to enforce their provisions has had limited success.

Despite the plethora of laws and scientific guidelines for humans to follow to be good stewards of the earth, national governments and corporations have blocked progress toward an ecologically sustainable world. It is not necessarily a question of making new laws, which national and corporate leaders will likely ignore; rather, it is a question of enforcing the laws already on the books, engaging the public in protecting the environment, and summoning a united political will. We need to work with one human voice to govern how we treat the earth and all its inhabitants.

Universal Human Rights Require Universal Environmental Rights

Human rights, peace, and environmental activists must work together to achieve universal awareness and respect for all rights. In the future, we may adopt a Universal Declaration of Universal Rights and Duties, a compendium encompassing all human, environmental and other rights and responsibilities. For now, though, uniting as world citizens to implement universal human rights side by side with universal environmental rights is the key to survival of humanity and the earth.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Why Do We Call Ourselves World Citizens?


“I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity… Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world...” 
--Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Why Do We Call Ourselves World Citizens?
 (also available at www.worldservice.org/update.html)
By David Gallup
157 years after Thomas Paine wrote The Rights of Man, and after dropping bombs on cities as an air force pilot in WWII, Garry Davis voluntarily gave up his national citizenship and claimed world citizenship. In his autobiography, My Country is the World, he wrote, “Man’s deadliest, self-imposed, restrictive device is nationalism. You and I may be fellow humans, but we are not fellow nationalists. I am a fellow who willfully withdrew from the co-partnership of citizen and national state and declared himself a world citizen.”
Why did Garry Davis call himself a “world citizen”?
Garry Davis, like Thomas Paine, called himself a “citizen of the world” or “world citizen” because he saw the earth and humanity linked together as one unit, not just as a biosphere or ecosystem in which we are passive onlookers. He saw a human and political governing system sustainably integrated into the environment.  He saw the possibility of humans working together to achieve a greater goal, to be more than the sum of individual parts.
He realized that if we humans were to move beyond aggression and war, then we would need to recognize that we are already one human family. We would need to claim a higher citizenship, a higher allegiance to each other and to the earth.
Citizenship is the expression of our rights and duties within a particular communal framework. World citizenship is the recognition that our communal framework is the world as a whole, that we carry our rights and duties with us wherever we are and that the world we share already unites us.
Why should we call ourselves “world citizens” rather than “global citizens”?
 The term “global citizen” is a misnomer. The word “global” derives from “globe,” meaning ball or sphere. “Global” is an adjective describing a location or place. A global citizen is an individual who happens to live on the earth.
“World citizen,” two nouns together, describes an action. A “world citizen” is who you are, what you do, and to what you pledge your allegiance.  The word “world” derives from Old English and Dutch, meaning the “age of man.”  “World” pertains to the life of humans, human existence, humanity, society, civilization, human institutions and the web of interactions among humans and with the environment.
As both a noun and an adjective, “world” is a system. The word “world” describes both the place where humans are and what, together, humans have done with and can make from our surroundings. The “world” is an interconnected system of our actions, reactions, and abilities to transform our relationships with one another and the earth. The word “world” focuses on the human aspect – the structures and institutions – of our existence.
You wouldn’t say “citizen of the globe.” That is not a system. That is a description of where someone finds themselves on a spherical shape or geographic mapping. “Citizen of the world,” however, does engage the idea of people working together for a common goal. So, to be a world citizen means that you consider rights and duties of everyone individually and of all of us together towards each other and the planet. It’s not just a location. It’s not just a description. It is a political statement.
World citizenship is an idea put into action; it is ideals made real. World citizenship embraces action to develop an ethical framework for fulfilling our rights and duties. We have to conceive of the world framework that we want.
This conception of a functional world system requires principle, ideology, strategy and tactics of world citizenship. For a world citizen, the principle is one human family; the ideology is universal rights and duties; the strategy is education of universal principles, rights and duties; and the tactics are the symbols and tools that we engage to promote comprehension of our need to be committed to our planetary and human status, to the rights and duties that we have in the world that we create for each other.
Why is this distinction between “global” and “world” important?
Unlike the term “global,” the term “world” constitutes the ethics, structures and institutions of the humenvironmental system that we can choose to create and develop sustainably.  
We must claim world citizenship status. National governments cannot prevent us from doing so. They can only restrict horizontal citizenship – from one nationality to another. They cannot restrict vertical citizenship that transcends the nation.
If you have a “right to a nationality,” you also have a right NOT to have a nationality. You have a right to claim a higher allegiance to humanity and the earth. Or you can consider the idea of “nationality” to take a broader perspective of identity, meaning world citizenship status – meaning the world is our country.
We are citizens of everywhere and everywhen – wherever and whenever you find yourself in all times and situations. We are each a citizen of everywhere (the whole world). And we are each a citizen everywhere. In other words, wherever you are, wherever you find yourself, you are already a citizen – with rights and duties, no matter whether you were born in that specific place or not. Having a “state” identity is irrelevant to our innate and unalienable rights that we carry with us wherever we go. The problem with the nation-state, as a challenge to a functioning world system, is that it attempts to exclude; it places “others” outside of its own framework of local law.
As world citizens, we rely on world law, such as Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.” We have rights and duties inherent to being a world citizen, which must be respected everywhere and for everyone.
We use “world citizen” and not “global citizen” because we need world law – law for a world system to help us govern ourselves peacefully and sustainably. Global law only pertains to the environment, an ecological framework. World law relates to humans, to our human world, to the myriad of interactions that we have with each other as well as with the planet.
Once the framework of world citizenship is secure, we can unite at an even higher level. With a sustainable system in place in this world, we can then become citizens of the universe.
Why do we claim and must we claim world citizenship?
In a future blog, I will discuss the idea of world citizenship as an organizing principle for a successful, sustainable humanity – why we do claim and must claim world citizenship.