Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How do we stop war?


By David Gallup

War is state-sponsored terrorism. Or if not "terrorism," then legally condoned killing. War-time killing is not considered to be a crime of "murder" because states claim a power (currently considered legal) to wage war. Under humanitarian law, war is meant to be used for self-defense. More often than not, however, governments initiate internal and international wars as a tool of aggression – to maintain power and control over people, land, resources and ideology.

Is humanitarian law meant to stop war?

Why do national governments allow the carnage and barbarism to continue in Syria and elsewhere? Because international humanitarian law (the “Laws of War”) allows tanks, war planes, battleships, and missiles to be built, and to be bought and sold as if they are fruits and vegetables in the produce section of a grocery.

Humanitarian law starts with the premise that war can be controlled and have a useful purpose. Humanitarian law posits that killing in war is okay as long as the killing distinguishes between civilians and combatants, the killing is limited in scope and time, and the war is winnable. The nation-state system’s attempt to apply rules to war, rather than outlawing war entirely, is morally bankrupt, especially in the nuclear age.

Nation-states want to maintain their exclusive identity, usually at the expense of others outside their putative borders. Because they must then protect those borders, they will not give up their power – at least under the current international law system – to build weapons for themselves and to sell weapons to their allies or to various governments for strategic advantage.

Has there ever been any international law attempt to stop war?

The 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact (“General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy”) attempted to outlaw wars of aggression between nations. Sixty-two of the seventy-three independent nations at the time had signed the treaty.  However, the treaty did not address the issue of nations engaging in warfare as a measure of self-defense.

The treaty failed because it did not limit the tools of warfare, and it did not create an enforcement mechanism to ensure that all disputes would be resolved peacefully. The nations continued to expand their weapons arsenals, and they did not cede power to an external governing authority to handle disputes.  A treaty between equally sovereign states, such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, does not prevent those states from choosing to wage wars, rather than go to court, as a final resolution to conflict. The governments did not establish common world law.

Can existing international law or current treaties prevent war?

UN Charter:

The purpose of the United Nations as outlined in Article 1 of the Charter is to “maintain international peace and security,” to prevent and remove threats to peace by peaceful means, affirm equal rights and self-determination, and to achieve international cooperation to solve international problems.

The problem with the UN Charter is that it encourages countries to interact peacefully but cannot require them to do so. The first President of the UN General Assembly, Dr. Herbert Evatt, elaborated, “The United Nations was not set up to make peace,” he wrote in a letter to Garry Davis in 1948, “but only to maintain it once it was made by the Great Powers...”

Furthermore, the Charter upholds the “sovereign quality” of each of its members, barring intervention in “domestic” matters. Because we have separated ourselves into exclusive nations, we do not act as a unified whole to resolve conflict.

UDHR:

Articles 28 and 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) affirm that a war-free world requires the protection of fundamental rights. Article 28 states that a “social and international order,” i.e., peaceful human interactions, is necessary for the rights in the Declaration to be realized. Article 30 states that no state, group or individual has a right to participate in any activity (e.g., aggression) “aimed at the destruction of any of the rights” affirmed by the Declaration.

The problem with the UDHR is that its customary law status means that governments have not agreed unequivocally to be bound by it. The will to enforce it has been ineffective. Even with the ICCPR and the ICESCR, which are binding treaties, governments are still able to violate rights with impunity – the breeding ground for war.

Geneva Conventions:

The 1949 Geneva Conventions and subsequent Protocols were created to limit the barbarity of war by restricting conflict to military combatants, protecting the injured and prisoners of war, ensuring the safe passage of medical and aid workers, and prohibiting torture, rape and other war tactics that impose severe suffering. As previously mentioned, these laws do not attempt to eliminate war, only to reduce its impact on certain combatants and upon the civilian population.

Nuremberg Principles:

The principles recognized in the 1950 Charter and Judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal affirm that individuals can be held responsible under international law for war crimes, crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity even if acting upon orders of a superior.  These principles have become the basis for ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Cambodia, East Timor and for the permanent war crimes tribunal that now exists as the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Although these principles attempt to hold individuals accountable, because of political stalemates and an unwillingness to pierce the veil of national sovereignty, individuals and governments are able to continue the war game. More than 200 armed conflicts have been waged around the world since 1950.

Can international courts intervene to stop war?

Why do we have international courts if not to help us to resolve our differences peacefully, with and by law?

In 2010, Garry Davis submitted a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the threat and use of nuclear weapons, because a nuclear war would be the actual war to end all wars, the ultimate crime against humanity.

Although the petition was received, the court neither acknowledged the petition nor rejected it.  They simply ignored it.  The ICC is beholden for its existence to the very states that perpetuate war and maintain the threat of nuclear weapons. Because the ICC depends upon acceptance by states and upon the states’ financial support, the ICC does not have autonomy.

If the court had rejected Davis’s petition, then they would be violating the principle of their own existence to adjudicate crimes against humanity of which nuclear war is the utmost crime. If they had accepted the petition and adjudged the case, then they would have had to reject the use of nuclear weapons in all circumstances. The ICC was unwilling to set a new precedent because, in 1996, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) established that nations could use nuclear weapons for self-defense.

It seems that the ICJ and the ICC can only attempt to adjudicate conflicts between states or crimes of war after the fact, once a dispute or aggression has started and oftentimes after it has ended.  As courts, unlike a parliament or congress, they cannot make law. They have no independent Marshal’s Service to arrest suspects, having to rely upon the nations to conduct this policing.

Existing international law and tribunals have only been mildly successful in limiting the impact of wars; they have not been successful in preventing or outlawing war.

So, how do we stop war?

Because nations have waged war with increasing frequency over the past hundred years, it seems impossible to stop war. Governments can easily wage wars because the production, sale, distribution, and use of weapons is legal.

We now need to outlaw weaponization. We need to make the production of weapons not only illegal, but unprofitable.  We need to prevent governments and corporations from profiting off of death and destruction. We need to make it economically, socially, and politically untenable. Politics and government must be ethicized.

World laws against war would establish financial and criminal penalties against individuals, companies and governments that make weapons. This would require not simply an embargo on arms, but a halt to the production of all new weapons and the dismantling of current weapons.  We can repurpose the weapons manufacturing industry to provide tools of construction, instead of tools of destruction – to provide machines and products that help people live safer, healthier, happier and more productively. We can recalibrate the global economy to produce goods, services and infrastructures that help, not hurt, people. Countries should be exporting life, not death.

The principle, ideology, strategy and tactics of governments must be humanized and earth-ized.

So if governments won’t or can’t outlaw war, itself, what about outlawing the tools that make mass aggression possible?

We have compliance programs to stop terrorist funding. Why don't we have compliance programs to stop the sale of guns, tanks, warplanes, bombs, etc.? Why don’t we illegalize the manufacture, sale, transfer and use of all forms of weaponry – conventional, bio, chemical, psychological and cyber?

Cut off access to weaponry, cut off its supply, and governments no longer have the capacity to engage in warfare.

Aggression among people who carry a knife or a bat or a broom may still occur. But that kind of aggression would be much easier to stop with a peace or police force than aggression that involves using weapons of mass killing and destruction. Machine guns, tanks and bombs can only kill; they have no benevolent purpose. Although we can cut up our dinner salad with a knife, we cannot prepare our dinner with a nuclear bomb.

Where do we go from here?

The national governments themselves cause the atrocities of war. Under existing international law, national government leaders can continue to prepare for and wage wars, especially internal conflicts. The veil of national sovereignty and the weakness of international enforcement allow them to act aggressively.

National governments could outlaw war and its preparations in their national constitutions, like Japan (in Article 9) and Costa Rica (in Article 12) have done. In those two countries, governmental leaders cannot weaponize the state and commandeer armed forces. It’s unlikely, however, that many other nations, and certainly not the permanent members of the United Nations “Security Council,” would voluntarily reject war as a tool of national policy.

Nations cannot or will not stop war.  As Garry Davis once shouted from the public balcony at the United Nations, “If the nation-states won't stop war, then they should step aside and let us, the people, create the institutions that will.” War becomes perpetual only if we choose it as the principal mode of interaction during conflict.

We the people must create new governmental institutions beyond the nation.

If we want to have an effective compliance program to prevent the sale, transfer and use of arms, some independent body or institution outside the nation-states is going to have to take charge. In other words, we need a system in place that will maintain the restrictions of illegality on the war preparation process.

A World Congress would create common world law that outlaws violent force everywhere as well as the sale, distribution and use of weapons.  Aggression of war and violent conflict must be made illegal. Just like shooting someone or fighting with someone in a local setting can be considered assault and battery or murder, fighting or using weapons between groups of people in different places around the world must also be considered illegal. So no matter one’s location or whether one is wearing a uniform, killing would be outlawed. Killing anywhere would be considered murder everywhere.

A World Court of Human Rights (WCHR) would adjudicate violations of the law, with a World Marshals Service to apprehend violators. A WCHR will shed light on violations by governments that oppress the many and maintain benefits for only a select few, affirming that governments must be transparent and act in service to the people. A WCHR will provide a legal and peaceful forum for victims to air their grievances and to obtain justice against the sponsors of war.  Everyone should be able to sue for the violence they have faced. 

Even if lawmakers and courts establish the illegality of war, how will we protect ourselves from rogue actors?

This is what a volunteer peace or police force is for.  A World Peace/Police Guards Force would implement and enforce the law – acting as roving ombudspeople to prevent conflicts and intervene in conflicts before they become violent. World Peace Guards would provide mediation and collaborative strategies and processes.

War is the biggest waster of human and natural resources.

People in the green movement must unite with people in the peace and collaborative development movements to stop war and its preparations for the sake of humanity and the earth. We need to work together to dismantle the structural violence that has been built into the nation-state system.  We need to alleviate the economic, political, technological, and social factors of humiliation – the underlying inequalities and oppression – that cause people to seek vengeance against and to hate, oppress, and control others. As citizens of one world, we must fulfill human and environmental needs, rights and duties. We need to eliminate the anarchy, the lack of unified law, between nation-states that is the breeding ground of war. World peace, as well as human and environmental sustainability, will depend upon the advancement of common world law.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Displacedland

By David Gallup

More than 65 million people have become refugees (15 million), stateless (10 million), or forcibly displaced (40 Million) due to armed conflict, persecution and natural disasters.

This population figure is larger than that of more than 210 countries and dependent territories.  In other words, only 20 countries in the world have a population larger than 65 million people. As the UN High Commissioner for Refugees explains, “one out of every 113 people on the earth” are displaced from their homes and “24 people are forced to flee each minute.” The majority of refugees are fleeing from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Columbia. These figures do not even account for the day-to-day oppression that millions, if not billions, face but who are unable or reluctant to leave to find a safe haven.

What if all of the displaced people of the world came together, like the Refugee Team who participated in the Olympics, to create their own country?

“Displaced People’s Country” or Displacedland would be an economic powerhouse with a gross domestic product similar to Indonesia, Switzerland or Turkey. Its diversity in cultures, languages, ethnicities, religions, etc. would ensure that acceptance of difference would be the norm.

From the arduous journey that the population faced to achieve their freedom from persecution and from their appreciation of their new-found liberties, the Displacedlanders would use their ingenuity, enthusiasm, and persistence to create a thriving and vibrant society.

Their desire for political, economic, environmental and social justice would be embedded in the legal fabric of the community. Displacedland would engender respect for each other as fellow citizens of struggle, respect for the land that they could call their own, and respect for the rule of law over the rule of the dictator. Initially, pride in their displacement would unite them. Later, recognition of their common humanity, would seal that bond.

Sounds like a great place to live!

But why should these fellow humans have to create their own new country to have their rights and basic needs upheld? Why are millions stuck in refugee camps with inadequate food, housing, healthcare, education and opportunity?

To have the kind of world in which the rights reaffirmed in various declarations and treaties such as the UDHR, the ICCPR and the ICESCR are fully met, we should all be able to claim, and then exercise, our rights no matter where we happen to live on the planet. Human rights and duties are not bound by territory; they are not dependent upon the nation-state in which one happens to be born.

If everyone had citizenship everywhere, statelessness would no longer exist and only natural disasters would forcibly displace people.  With world citizenship, if we do not like where we live, if we do not like the politics or the rulers, then we could live somewhere else.

Instead of creating a separate country for all displaced people, world citizenship, as a valid and legal citizenship beyond any other status that someone may carry, would ensure that everyone has at least one citizenship which, in its inclusiveness, upholds our concomitant rights and duties.

Affirming world citizenship as an official, legal and political status is one of the main functions of the World Service Authority.  Requiring all governments to respect world citizenship status legally is the next step – a step that will support millions of displaced persons, by ensuring that governments will fulfill their obligations to respect refugees, stateless and displaced persons’ innate and unalienable rights. To promote respect for this highest citizenship status, global institutions of law must be established. WSA’s project to develop a World Court of Human Rights is one such institution.

World citizenship, as the highest level of allegiance, empowers us to focus on equality, justice, unity, friendship, sustainability, and harmony with each other and the earth.

Humans need not search for refuge in Displacedland. The entire earth is a sanctuary of peace – when we respect each other, our rights and duties, as world citizens.

Monday, July 25, 2016

TEXit: A Nation-State Hypothetical
By David Gallup
What if the citizens of the state of Texas decide to leave the United States?
What if they have a referendum on whether to exit the Union, to once again become an independent Republic of Texas?
Forty-nine other states could easily maintain the Union, along with England as a quasi 50th state, or the District of Columbia finally taking up the mantle. Would Texas's departure be a boon to the citizens of Texas? Would it imperil the US Union?
Texas has enough human, oil, and land resources that it could go it alone. There would be many countries who would be delighted to work with an independent Texas and would quickly form treaty relationships.
What would this mean for the people living in Texas?
They would then need a Texas Passport and potentially a visa to travel to neighboring New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas or Louisiana. To work in the remaining 49 states, Texans would need to apply for a work authorization. Restrictions on the movement of personal property and import/export taxes would begin to burden them. Families would be separated by borders that for almost two centuries were only lines on a map. Now Texas would have to build a wall and post Texasland Security Officers every few miles to prevent "illegal" immigration.
Could Texas depart legally?
The United States Constitution requires that "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance or Confederation..." (Article I, Section 10, Clause 1). One of the main considerations about whether a state is sovereign is its ability to establish treaties and relationships with other countries. Because the majority of powers of the government are vested in the Federal government (Congress, President and Courts), states are prevented from contracting with "foreign" governments.
Article IV of the US Constitution establishes admission into the United States by a new state with consent of the Congress, but does not deal with state secession. The remainder of the Constitution is silent on secession, neither denying nor confirming a right to secede.
In the US Supreme Court, the right of secession was rejected in Texas v. White in 1869. Chief Justice Chase considered the United States an inseparable union (a federation rather than a confederation). He wrote, "The Union was solemnly declared to be perpetual...The Constitution was ordained 'to form a more perfect Union.' It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly...When Texas became one of the United States, [it] entered into an indissoluble relation...More than a compact, it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final."
Subsequent case law has upheld the precedent of this landmark case. Justice Chase concluded that there was no place for reconsideration "except through revolution, or through the consent of the States." Chase admitted that that the people of a state still retained the power to revolt. Although unlikely, the people could also peacefully approach the governments of the other states in the union or the federal government to request a legal withdrawal from the union. Neither of these options can be considered a legal right to secede -- as revolution is outside of the law and consent is a political decision of the remaining states.
Under national law, Texas cannot legally secede.
Under international law, however, Texans could potentially claim a right to secede. Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the US has ratified, states, "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." International law doctrine has affirmed secession as a basis for achieving the right to self-determination in cases of colonialism, subjugation, exploitation or lack of meaningful exercise of self-determination internally within a country.
Could Texas depart illegally?
Would this be considered an insurrection? Would the federal government exert its armed forces to stop Texas? Could this lead to another civil war?
Texans mounting an armed insurrection would undoubtedly be met by swift action by the FBI, the US Army and other federal government forces.
Texans could make a peaceful declaration of independence and find other governments to back them up. Countries such as Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Crimea, formerly part of other nation-states, have all declared their independence in the last few years. They found backing by Russia or by rulings of the United Nations' International Court of Justice.
TEXit versus Brexit?
The difference between Texas trying to leave the US Union and Great Britain choosing to leave the European Union is that the EU was created by a treaty signed by its members, a treaty that, in Article 50, allows for "member-states" to withdraw. Because US states, such as Texas, are prohibited from independently entering into relations with nation-states, they lack one of the main qualifications under international law to be considered sovereign. The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States affirms that an independent sovereign state is one that can enter into "foreign relations" as well as has a permanent population, a defined territory and a functioning government.
Furthermore, the EU has no constitution to bind the European states together into a new indissoluble entity, meaning that it is a confederation of sovereign states (an international organization), rather than a united political body.
On a social level, a small majority of British currently maintain a stronger feeling of belonging to their island country than to a feeling of "being European." This feeling of "being British" will not prevent Northern Ireland from reuniting with Ireland, or Scotland and Wales declaring their independence from England.
Only slightly more than 50% of the British voted to leave the European Union. And if the vote were taken again in a few years, it is quite likely that a vote to return to the Union would occur. At this point, Britain knows that the USA will come to its aid if it were threatened by war; so one of the main reasons for establishing the EU -- to prevent another war in Western Europe -- did not sway British voters.
Britain's exit from Europe and a hypothetical Texas exiting from the United States of America raise many concerns about identity and citizenship that the murky waters of nationalism obfuscate.
Will Great Britain's departure from the European Union precipitate the EU's demise?
What does this mean for European Citizenship? For the rights to travel, live and work freely throughout the region?
What does Britain's exit mean for the processes of nationalism and cosmopolitanism?
What is the purpose of a federation? Is it only to prevent war among its members? Or is it more than that? Can a federation provide a sense of belonging, a larger identity?
What does having a higher level allegiance beyond the state mean for identity and human interaction?
Even if Texas were to leave the Union, just as Britain has "left" the EU, it cannot leave earth. World Citizenship, the union of humans as humans, shall not perish from the earth.
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Thank you to Raman Maroz, Associate General Counsel and legal intern in World Service Authority's Legal Department, for conducting legal research for this TEXit blog. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I INTERVIEW TIME

By David Gallup
In the style of Garry Davis' blogs in which he "interviewed" water, space and sleep, for this New Year's blog, I interview time.
Me: Hey, Time, wait up! Slow down! (running out of breath)
Time: Sorry, no can do. There's no time like the present. (keeping a steady pace)
Me: I guess I have to catch up.
Time: You're already here!
Me: Where?
Time: Now!
Me: Oh. (dumbfounded)
Time: I'm all around you and everyone else. We're all in the same actuality. (smiling and looking beyond the horizon)
Me: I never thought about you that way. Could I talk to the past?
Time: No, that's prologue.
Me: How about the future?
Time: You are what you make of it.
Me: Stop using trite expressions!
Time: Sorry, I think that's what you humans most easily understand.
Me: What's so important about the present, anyway?
Time: That is all you've got. The here and now. This is what most humans forget. You're always thinking about the future, how you will make your life better, or succeed over others. Or, you lament the past -- what you could have done differently, how you failed.
It's as if you purposefully close your eyes to sleep through what's happening in the space-time around you. Awareness is now. Ignorance is holding on to past regrets and obsessing over future resolutions.
Now's the me (Time, of course!) that you had better focus on, if you want to have more of me later. The ways that you humans interact, tells me that you are running out of me! I am of the essence -- for you to imagine and build the world that works for everyone.
Don't be armchair activists, saying that you are for world peace and global justice in some utopian future, and hoping that others will act on your dreams. Claim your world peacemaker status right now. You make peace, you create the tools to help each other live together harmoniously, but only if you choose this path below your feet, recognizing the one earth on which you are currently standing.
Me: I'm getting it. Now is where we are and what we must keep our mind focused on. We're all in the now. We share it. We share responsibility for it, for you. We're our own historians in every action that we take or every refusal to act that we allow.
Time: You're catching on, in the nick of me!
Me: We need to focus on each other, on our earthly home to make it work now, not in some distant future, not based upon some nostalgic past, not watching the clock, but by being and doing. I am a Nowist. We all are. We don't need any time to realize that.
Time: Carpe diem! Time to go!
Me: Are you going?
Time: Aren't you listening to me? I'm not going anywhere. But you get going! There's none of me to waste.
Me: Thank you for all that timely advice. And, see ya later!
Time: No . . . Now! (exasperated)
______________________________
According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the earth's Doomsday Clock is hovering at 3 minutes to midnight. This figurative late hour is the scientists' way of explaining that in a 24 hour clock of earthly existence, humans are living on borrowed time. Global warming, oceans rising, violence, uncontrolled technology, and potential nuclear devastation have imperiled our chances of survival, leaving us with only a final few minutes before the end of time. The last time that humanity was this close to extinction was in 1952 when the United States and the Soviet Union created and tested the first hydrogen bombs.
According to the physicists and other scientists who compose the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin, "Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads -- thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty -- ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization."
The fact that these scientists address their statement to "Leaders and Citizens of the World" confirms their understanding of the importance of world citizenship as it relates to the preservation of human civilization.
When scientists around the world warn us of global warming and the threat of nuclear winter, we should listen to them and not to those politicians who ignore the facts, figures, mathematics and the undeniable rules of the natural world.
The atomic scientists conclude that "The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon."
Time would tell us that action needs to be taken, not just "very soon," but now. Tick tock. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

67th Anniversary of the UDHR – Countering the Tide of Violence through Human Rights


By David Gallup

“Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of humankind.”

Although this statement appears in the Preamble of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), it could easily apply to the current plight of the people in Syria, the terrorist acts of heavily armed fundamentalists against civilian populations, the drug cartel wars, and other ongoing acts of violence.

As we approach the anniversary of the UDHR on 10 December 2015, are we any closer to the promise of a universal respect for human rights than we were 67 years ago? Was World War II the height of human violence, or has violence, in all its forms, continued unabated?(1) What effect has the UDHR and implementation of human rights in other declarations and treaties had on violence?

Violence in All Its Forms

Adherence to the human rights enumerated in the UDHR and various treaties has reduced large-scale armed conflict.  Yet violence continues. The international conflicts in Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, and Syria seem to be reigniting the Cold War. Civil war and internal conflicts in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and among religious and ethnic groups in Afghanistan and Iraq threaten regional stability. And supranational terrorist violence has overtaken state upon state violence as a threat to global stability. The threat of violence by nuclear devices still looms large. It is actually more alarming now because the iron fist of control over nuclear weapons and material and nuclear power plants has diminished.

Because the media focuses on large-scale international and regional aggression, violent acts of armed militias, insurgents, local gangs, street crime, gun violence, and mental, physical, and economic abuse tend to be downplayed. Even as traditional warfare wanes, this day-to-day violence takes a great toll on many people’s lives, yet national governments have not prioritized dealing with these human rights violations in their political agendas.

Underlying Causes of Violence

What is causing all of this violence despite the enumeration of human rights in the Declaration and international treaties such as the Covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?

Although inter-state wars may have reduced(2), the root causes of violence remain due to the disparity in social, political and economic conditions that nation-states perpetuate.  Because of advances in technology, the ability to wage violence has been democratized. Now anyone with a cell phone and a social media account can find recruits for their violent cause. The rise in individual violence has coincided with the ease of communication and technological tools that transcend borders. 

The nation-state system perpetuates aggression, entrenching structural violence, by separating us into competing groups. We compete for resources and advantages over one another rather than work together and share knowledge. When we cannot fulfill our rights and needs, this leads to humiliation and deprivation which then leads to violence.

In the past hundred years, humans have made great strides in the access to and administration of justice around the world. Properly functioning legal systems allow for individual participation in the government and for redress when the government fails to respect our rights. In places where people have no say in their government or face daily oppression and fear, the likelihood of violent actions dramatically increases.(3)

We must remember that all forms of violence are illegal under local, national and international law. Violence by citizens against citizens, by “civilians” against “civilians,” and by “combatants” against “civilians” are prohibited by local criminal laws, by national statutes, and by international humanitarian laws, such as the Geneva Conventions.

Dealing with the Root Causes of Violence

How can respect for human rights reduce violence?  What engenders peace?

We need to deal with the root causes of violence(4) by affirming human rights for everyone, everywhere.

We need to understand that exploitation can be eliminated by establishing rules of engagement in corporations, governments, commerce and economics with equality and fair labor practices.

We need to understand that in an interdependent world, attempting to achieve dominance will only harm all of us in the long run.  We need to understand how to use land, resources and the power to control both in indigenous and sustainable ways. If one region of the world is doing poorly, then it will affect another region.

We need to understand that we have alternatives to revenge. People will less feel the need to take violent action when there are legal forms of redress available to everyone locally, regionally and globally.

We need to understand that our ideology impacts our way of life.  We need to move toward an earth and human-centered understanding.

The UDHR and the Stemming of Violence

What does the UDHR say about violence? Can law counter violence?

Article 3 of the UDHR states “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.” All of our other rights depend upon us being alive, free and safe.

Building capacity in legal institutions, the access to justice, and participation in government, sharing economic prosperity through equality of opportunity and outcome in standards of living, and educating about world citizenship and cultural awareness can reduce and prevent violence in all communities, local and global. Although the Internet and technology have democratized violence, they have also democratized peace, providing individuals and communities with the power to create livingry(5), instead of weaponry.

As we celebrate this anniversary of the Declaration, let us reconsider the importance of fully implementing the UDHR to deal with sources of violence.  The Declaration’s Preamble confirms that “it is essential, if (humans are) not be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”  Aggression and war should no longer be tools of human interaction, even as “a last resort.”  Violence must no longer be considered useful or even tolerable. To reduce or eliminate violence as ongoing and acceptable choice, global institutions of law creation, adjudication and implementation are required.  We need a fully-functioning World Court of Human Rights and regional human rights systems. We need a World Police Force that can intervene everywhere in the world regardless of human-made borders.

Article 28 of the UDHR confirms that “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”  That social and international order requires global institutions of law, which will provide systems and procedures to deal with violence in all its forms and at every level of human interaction.

The final Article of the Declaration (Article 30), confirms that no “State, group or person (has) any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms” enumerated in the Declaration. We have a legal obligation to interact peacefully with everyone else, to recognize that violence only destroys our rights and freedoms.

To achieve a non-violent world, we must consider our self-perception through the lens of world citizenship and outward action through the process of world law and government.

_____________________________________________

(1) Violence due to war and organized crime has reduced according to Human Security Research Group. http://www.hsrgroup.org/docs/Publications/HSR2013/HSR_2013_Press_Release.pdf

Statistics about violence, however, do not account for everyday unreported violence nor do they adequately account for non-lethal violence.

(2) Gleditsch, K. S. and Pickering, S. (2014), Wars are becoming less frequent: a response to Harrison and Wolf. The Economic History Review, 67: 214–230

(3) “Access to justice supports sustainable peace by affording the population a more attractive alternative to violence in resolving personal and political disputes.” http://www.usip.org/guiding-principles-stabilization-and-reconstruction-the-web-version/7-rule-law/access-justice

(4) According to Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker, the four main root causes of violence are exploitation, dominance, revenge, and ideology. http://edge.org/conversation/mc2011-history-violence-pinker

(5) “Humanity’s Critical Path: From Weaponry to Livingry” by R. Buckminster Fuller, http://www.designsciencelab.com/resources/HumanitysPath_BF.pdf

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Questioning ourselves

By David Gallup

“The most important question that faces each one of us in the world today is ‘who are you?’”

For sixty-five years, Garry Davis asked this question directly or indirectly of everyone he spoke with. Whether he was speaking before the war-weary crowds of thousands after WWII, to border guards in his travels, to a fellow prisoner while detained, on college campuses while running for president, to NGOs and civil society at world summits, or to the audience of his radio show, Davis focused on this question and demanded that those listening to his words consider why this question is so important.

It is a question about opening people’s minds to how we are each a part of something larger, greater than our individual selves. It leads to a question about how we can accomplish more when we unite, then when we divide ourselves. And it leads to a question about whether to respect a social contract under law or to succumb to the fear and self-interest of war.

Sadly it has taken the war in Syria to begin to have a dramatic effect on more stable countries, for the question of who you are, of who we all are, to come to the forefront of discussion about national policies that impact human rights.

Earlier during the past five years, much of the world watched idly as millions of people fled Syria, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan, to neighboring countries. Hundreds of thousands more continue to flee, many of whom would rather face an arduous and dangerous trip to arrive in Europe rather that remain displaced in Syria and elsewhere as war and militant extremism rages on.

Journalists have documented the travels of many frightened people risking their lives to find a new home where violence does not impact their day-to-day lives.  These people have found that they have power in numbers – that when hundreds, indeed, thousands of individuals approach the fences, armed frontier guards, and police barricades, those obstacles cannot handle the pressure of the throngs of people coming through. Footage from CNN reporter Arwa Damon attests to this power: http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/10/europe/refugee-crisis-questions-no-answers/

We have hoped to provide World Passports to thousands of individuals at once – to the stateless or refugees from war and oppression -- to help them travel to a safe haven. A large group of individuals could literally “storm” frontiers together and overwhelm border police and guards (who will be unable to stop them from exercising their fundamental right to travel), thereby effectively erasing putative borders.

In the last few weeks, the World Service Authority donated more than 100 passports to Ogoni refugees in Benin who have been suffering in deplorable refugee camp conditions for more than 20 years. This is in addition to the approximately 1,000 passports that we have sent to individuals in these camps in the past three years. Some of these people have made it to South Africa; many remain in the camps.  These refugees wonder, “How can I get out of this camp?” and “Where will I go?”

For CNN journalist Damon, the two questions that she repeatedly hears from those fleeing are: “How can they let this happen?” and “And why won’t they help?”

As internal and international conflicts flare up, as energy creation and pollution hasten climate change and adversely impact the environment, and as nations fabricate and use nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, the “they” in those questions will invariably become “we.”

What is our identity if we are forced to leave our home behind? Who must take us in? Where will we go if we have made everywhere unsafe and unlivable? Who will protect and assist us? How can we ignore the plight of other humans? What is our responsibility to our fellow human beings?

These are questions that we must ask ourselves now if we want to have a sustainable world that works for all.

The first and most important question to ask yourself is, “Who are you?” The earth and life-affirming answer is: “I am a world citizen and I am a part of humanity and the earth.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Refugees at the Channel Tunnel: Another Anomaly of the Nation-State Paradigm

By David Gallup

Close to four thousand refugees and immigrants, from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, have attempted to cross into England from France in the past few days.  Nearly forty-thousand people have tried to cross through the “Chunnel” since January 2015. In their attempt to achieve a safer, better life, several people have been injured or died, being hit by cars and trucks in the tunnel.  Thousands more remain outside the tunnel in make-shift camps, hoping to find a permanent safe haven in England.

The Chunnel is both a symbol and physical proof of a united Europe. But, it is also a glaring example of how the nation-state system has failed humanity by maintaining a disunited earth.

Unlike a wall or fence, the Chunnel was designed to bring people together, to share in each other’s communities and cultures. Yet it has become another means to restrict and discriminate against downtrodden people based on economic status and “national” origin.

Why do refugees, stateless persons and immigrants risk their lives trying to find a safe haven, a new home?

Their lives are already at risk if they stay in poorly-developed, impoverished, and war-ridden countries.  Faced with persecution, lack of safe drinking water and food, ethnic strife, armed militias, civil wars, and corrupt leaders, the only choice for many is to flee.  Currently, there are more than 50 million refugees and internally displaced persons, whose daily survival is jeopardized.  At least 10 million people are “stateless.” Although international treaties affirm the rights of refugees and stateless persons, many governments ignore them, detain them, or deport them back to their birth countries despite the principle of non-refoulement (returning victims of persecution to their country of origin or to other countries where they might suffer persecution).

The international community cannot handle the dramatic flow of refugees throughout the world today. People wallow in refugee camps, imprisoned, unable to work or go to school, because governments refuse to help people simply because they were born in another part of the world.

We need to help people wherever they are.  Basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and education are not only requirements of human existence, they are fundamental human rights.  Almost all national governments have agreed to respect these rights. They give lip-service to these rights, yet violate them every day.

According to the French Interior Minister, cited online today in a CNN report by Holly Yan and Margot Haddad, "We need to work on this problem in its origin," said Bernard Cazeneuve.  "We need to work on this from the migrants' countries of origin and follow their path which leads to the European territory."  This national official understands that people will continue to seek a safer life elsewhere, if their life is threatened where they are.

When people have food, shelter, education, work, equality, justice and freedom where they reside, they generally are happy to stay there.  If people can go about their day without fear, oppression, humiliation, or aggression, then they have no reason to leave where their family, friends, language and culture are.

We need to create a world in which people have no need to run for their lives, to flee to what they think will be a safer, better life, to hide in fear without documentation and unable to exercise their rights as human beings. The entire world must become a safe haven for all of humanity.


This means exposing and eliminating the fictional borders that separate us. This means outlawing aggression. This means fulfilling basic and higher level needs so that people can live to their full potential. This means helping one another -- helping people where they are so that they will not feel compelled to leave for any reason other than educational and cultural enlightenment.  This means recognizing our status as world citizens.