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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 New Year's Message

By David Gallup

World Service Authority celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2014. As we move into the new year, we reflect on WSA's accomplishments and on current and new projects.
The WSA was founded on January 1, 1954 to act as the administrative branch of the World Citizen Government, a government of, by and for the people of the world. It was created out of necessity by Garry Davis who had renounced his national citizenship after World War II. As a "stateless" human being, Davis needed a government to help him affirm his rights and responsibilities as part of humanity and to the earth. He was not alone. Millions of refugees after WWII had no government that they could count on to recognize their rights. Today, the UN's refugee agency confirms that the world is facing the worst refugee crises since WWII with more than 50 million refugees internally and externally displaced around the world.
Then and now, the WSA has been providing documentation services to individuals, without national recourse, who are considered persona non grata due simply to not possessing any identification documents or to loss of national citizenship. The WSA has issued close to one million World Passports and millions of ID cards, birth certificates, asylum cards, etc. The WSA has provided documents for free to many refugees and stateless persons confined to refugee camps because they lack travel or ID documents.
In addition to its documentation service, the WSA established a World Judicial Commission and later a Legal Department to provide legal advocacy and education in human rights and world law. For the past 25 years, the Legal Department has drafted thousands of advocacy letters, affidavits of support, legal briefs, and intergovernmental petitions to help those who have been persecuted, faced governmental harassment, and been arbitrarily detained.
To further the educational component of its mission, the WSA's Human Rights Awareness Project has provided hundreds of thousands of copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in multiple languages to individuals, schools, secular and religious organizations, non-profits, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations. Everyone who requests information from the WSA and those who are issued documents from the organization receive a copy of the Declaration.
In addition to the services mentioned above, the following projects of the WSA respond to the urgent needs of the global public in an ever-increasingly globalized world. Please join one of our projects.
Current Projects:
World Court of Human Rights Development Project: educating about, promoting and implementing the draft Statute of the World Court of Human Rights. Establishing a fully-functioning human rights tribunal at the global level and subsidiary regional tribunals in which individuals would have personal jurisdiction at the global level to prosecute claims of human rights violations that they have suffered.
World Refugee Fund: fundraising to offer free legal advocacy and documentation to refugees and stateless persons.
World Citizen Legal Fund: establishing a global network of lawyers who will represent world citizens suffering from various human rights violations (not only refugees or stateless persons). Implement an urgent action network to intervene in individuals' cases where local justice systems are failing. Seek funding to defray costs of representing individuals and groups around the world in their human rights claims.
World Government House: the publishing branch of the World Service Authority. Publishes and produces books, newsletters, periodicals, reports, brochures, pamphlets, videos, DVDs, etc.
World Media Association: promoting the right to freedom of expression to the global public and within the media. Providing protection for the media to exercise this right.
World Citizen Social Media, Tele-seminars, and Videoconferencing: providing to the global public educational information by telephone, Internet, and video about world citizenship, human rights, and WSA activities. The WSA's YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account, and World Citizen Blog provide updates on global events with a world citizen viewpoint.
World Speakers Bureau: providing speakers for various global events and venues who can discuss the concept and legal status of world citizenship and world law.
World Citizen Referendum: on-line referendum in which the global public can vote on crucial issues that affect humanity and the earth. Thousands of votes have been cast since the referendum went on the Internet in 1997. Located at http://www.worldservice.org/wref.html
World Citizen Forum: forum to discuss the concept and legal status of world citizenship, world law and world government. The WSA created the online World Citizen Forum in 1999 at YahooGroups. Now more than 5,000 individuals participate in this daily online forum. Information about the group and how to subscribe is located at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/WorldCitizen/info
ICC Petition: Garry Davis filed a petition in 2010 before the International Criminal Court against the nuclear weapons heads of state for their stockpiling, manufacturing and threat to use nuclear weapons as a crime against humanity. So far, the Court's registrar has not indicated how it will consider the petition.
World Citizen Action Day: May 25th annually. A yearly action day to focus global attention on how each of us can participate in recognizing the importance of human rights, world citizenship, world law, and world government in the process of world peace. Celebrated on the day that Garry Davis gave up his national citizenship in favor of world citizenship.
World Citizen Day: July 27th annually. A yearly celebration to promote understanding of the life and legacy of World Citizen Garry Davis, celebrated on his birthday. Affirms our individual right to declare our world citizenship status and our link to humanity and the earth.
World Birth Card Project: providing birth registration identification cards to undocumented children and adults around the world. Because of the lack of birth registration procedures in many countries, children cannot go to school and be given inoculations, and adults cannot exercise their right to work, vote, health care, social security, etc.
WSA Document Enhancement Project: focusing on increasing the recognition of WSA documents as well as on improving their appearance, utility, and ease of issuance.
Mundialization: a grassroots program that strengthens the understanding of world citizenship around the globe. It is a process of formally declaring one's city a "world city," recognizing its connection and responsibility to the rest of the world, that we all share the same basic problems, and pledging that its citizens will take actions that reflect that recognition. To date, nearly 1,000 cities, states, schools and other organizations have officially mundialized.
Programs In Formation:
World Law Institute: teaching human rights and world constitutional law to the general public and providing global legal perspectives and opinions on legal and judicial issues around the world. The Institute will develop World Citizen and World Law Curricula for pre-school, primary, secondary and university-level schools regarding human rights, world citizenship, and world law. It will promote and implement a "Model World Parliament" program. It will develop multi-lingual educational software to reach larger audiences. A subsidiary initiative of the Institute, the Space Law Project will provide education about evolving laws to maintain peaceful uses of space and prohibit military uses by nation-states. As another subsidiary initiative, experts in the fields of human rights, world law and world citizenship will provide human rights consulting through seminars and training sessions to activists, organizational leaders and the general public, offering tools and techniques for acting globally.
World Citizen Museum: establishing an online (virtual/digital) museum and a physical (actual) museum to chronicle the world citizenship movement for future generations. Collecting, preserving and promoting the artifacts that relate to world citizenship, world peace, human rights, human unity. Digitizing the written, photographic, audio, and visual archive of World Citizen Garry Davis.
World Guards Project: establishing a world peace force (like Gandhi's satyagraha movement) which proactively would intervene in disputes to prevent conflict from rising to a violent level both locally and globally. Roving ombudspersons and mediators would use non-violent peace and conflict resolution tools and strategies to settle disputes.
World Syntegrity® Project: empowering individuals to govern themselves and devise a global flexible constitutional process for humans to govern the world in a participatory way. Groups meet around the world to answer the question, "How can we as sovereign world citizens govern our world?" Almost 30 group meetings throughout the world have already taken place.
World Citizen Party, World Candidates Commission, World Elections Commission, World Parliament Commission: educating about, promoting and implementing a system to call for candidates to participate in a global elections. The Commissions will guide the development of the structures and institutions of world law and fully-functioning world government.
World Government Postal Service: facilitating mail services to regions of the world where the Universal Postal Union is not functioning or where governments have halted mail from one country to another due to ethnic, national or other discrimination.
Future Programs:
World Citizen Radio and Television Broadcasting: will offer timely commentary on global events with a world citizenship perspective.
World Citizen Clubs: will provide educational, networking and social opportunities for students to discuss, learn about and promote world citizenship ideals.
World Energy and Water Grid: will link human use of electrical energy and fresh water throughout the world in order to make distribution and use more equitable and to prevent violent conflict over energy and water usage.
World Sustainable Development Organization: will monitor local and regional development procedures and set and implement standards for human and environmental sustainability.
World Mutual Abundance Bank: will establish a valid global monetary and compensation system. Two monetary units have been created: the World Kilowatt Bill, which has already been printed in limited quantities, and the Mondo, suggested by Garry Davis in his 1984 bookWorld Government, Ready or Not!
♦ ♦ ♦
World Service Authority and the World Citizen Government offer an alternative model to the nation-state, as a system to organize human interaction. Through its various projects and programs, the WSA is developing the global institutions of law that will help us all to live together peacefully.
We encourage all world citizens in this New Year to resolve to participate in this process.
Pick a project that interests you, and let us know how you can lend a hand -- info@worldservice.org 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

66th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights


The UDHR and the WCHR

By David Gallup

      On this 66th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), we have a milestone in the progression of human rights to celebrate – the first phase of the creation of a World Court of Human Rights is nearly complete.

     The Design Team of the World Court of Human Rights (WCHR) Development Project held face-to-face and online meetings over the last year to draft an up-to-date Statute for this Court that will provide a venue for victims of human rights violations to seek redress. The WCHR Design Team is composed of lawyers, jurists, academics, practitioners and non-profit organizations.  We are seeking additional input from the global public who is encouraged to view and comment on the Statute at www.worldcourtofhumanrights.net.  Individuals and organizations interested in providing legal, technical, and financial support can contact the WCHR Design Team by emailing info@worldservice.org.

     Phase One of the Court’s development involved drafting the Statute and raising initial awareness among the legal and judicial communities.  To complete this task, the WCHR Development Project Team Leader, sponsored by the World Service Authority, is currently attending the 15th Annual Conference of Chief Justices of the World in Lucknow, India.

     This Team Leader will provide to each Justice in attendance a pocket-sized booklet of the World Court of Human Rights Statute as well as a professionally–prepared survey to gauge the Justices’ thought process about the Statute and the Court.  We will request that the Chief Justices of the highest courts around the world draft a resolution in support of the establishment of this new Court.  We will also recruit Justices to participate in the later phases of the Court’s development, such as promoting the importance of the Court to domestic populaces and potentially serving as Justices on the Court.

     After the Conference, the Design Team will move into Phase Two, the fundraising and promotional stage.  During this Phase, the Design Team, along with business and legal consultants, will conduct feasibility studies and sensitivity analyses, create focus groups of judges and justices, fine tune the vision of the Court, determine the services and support that the Court will provide, gather data and draft budgets, and produce a prospectus and other documentation that clarify the Court’s significance.
               
      The establishment of the World Court of Human Rights is significant because it will be the first adjudicative body that will take the fulfillment of the universal rights affirmed in the UDHR as its underlying judicial principle.

      Although there is an International Court of Justice, that body only handles disputes between nation-states.  The International Criminal Court only handles criminal matters pertaining to war crimes, crimes against the peace, and crimes against humanity.  The WCHR, however, will focus on providing individuals and groups, who are suffering from human rights abuses, a forum to have their grievances heard and remediated.

      Because respect for universal human rights requires a system of justice that transcends the nations, the drafters of the UDHR contemplated the need for global legal procedures. The UDHR’s Preamble declares “that human rights should be protected by the rule of law” and that “every individual and organ of society shall strive … to promote respect for these rights and freedoms … by progressive measures , national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”

      Both the UDHR and the WCHR proclaim that adherence to the rule of law is the foundation of freedom, peace, and justice for humanity. The UDHR and WCHR share other paramount goals. First, human rights are the underlying ideology of both the Declaration and the Court.  Next the UDHR and the Court declare a commitment to respect human rights unequivocally, ensuring that our rights will be maintained by the rule of law which includes adjudication of wrongs.  Third, the UDHR, as customary international law, and the Court, as a global tribunal, both describe and consider the universality and applicability of rights to everyone, everywhere.  The WCHR will create respect for law and rights at the global level.

      The WCHR will be the Supreme Court of, by and for the people of the world. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola Diagnosis: Inadequacy of the Nation-State


By David Gallup

Disease knows no borders.

In an ungoverned world, Ebola and other viruses can potentially wipe out a large part of the human species. National governments cannot handle an epidemic, let alone a pandemic, because they take a parochial, short-term view of events outside their claimed frontiers. Countries respond to crises elsewhere in the world only when it is in their local interest, applying a “national security” or “public order” approach rather than what is in the best interest of humanity.

Many nation-states do not have the scientific or economic capacity to control the spread of disease within their borders. They cannot handle health crises on their own.

The World Health Organization has been successful in controlling and eradicating some diseases such as polio. United Nations member-states, however, consistently prevent this UN agency and other health organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control, from intervening in the affairs of each country through underfunding, understaffing, and domestic control over health matters. A Washington Post front page article confirms that there has been “no coordinated global response” to the Ebola crisis (Oct. 5, A9).  A global government approach provides the needed remedy to heal the divisions that prevent us from having an effective global public health system.

The division and discrimination that national governments perpetuate lead to violations of the right to adequate health care.  Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) affirms, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including, food, clothing, housing and medical care…”   The ability to exercise the right to health care, according to the UDHR, is dependent upon whether a society provides sufficient economic conditions and social services to the population.  People living in poverty with minimal education and limited medical resources cannot exercise this right.

The nationalistic approach to health care also dramatically impacts the right to travel (Article 13 of the UDHR).  People living in countries where the disease is out of control can be discriminated against and refused travel visas even if they do not live near the outbreak and have had no contact with the infected. Those who have the virus might need to leave their country to get proper medical care, but other countries may refuse to let them in.  Also, other countries often refuse to provide technical and financial assistance to the disease-ravaged country – assistance that could help those infected locally in the short term, and could safeguard everyone globally in the long term.

People need to receive help no matter where they live.  Helping all humans, regardless of their nationality, is the only way to protect humanity as a whole and each of us individually.

Nationalism is a disease run rampant. It prevents us from achieving a sustainable, healthy and peaceful world. Albert Einstein said, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

If we humans cannot devise a system to govern our interactions, whether in global health or politics, then we are doomed to destroy each other and the earth.  It is a matter of priorities.  When we fund the next stealth bomber, arm insurgents, prepare for and wage wars, no funding remains to build hospitals and to strengthen the economic, social and health infrastructure.

Disease is universal.

Science is universal.

Rights are universal.

Helping our fellow humans throughout the world is not universal – but it should be.