|Issues||September 2004 Newsletter|
One of the joys of my long association with the World Federalist Movement, and now with Citizens for Global Solutions, is the opportunity it affords me to associate with so many remarkable people. I would like here to note two who rank high in my pantheon: the late Sir Peter Ustinov and our local role model, Don Irish.
Although I met Sir Peter only once, and then only briefly, I did have the good fortune of seeing him in action on a number of occasions, in The Hague and at WFM events in London and elsewhere. President of WFM from 1991 until his death on March 28 of this year, Sir Peter was an extraordinary man, as is made clear by the following statement by Keith Best, Chairman of the WFM Executive Committee:
"Sir Peter Ustinov was not only a Renaissance man of so many talents but also a world citizen. He cared deeply about humanity and its oneness. His solutions to the problems of the world were devastatingly simple and realistic in their approach. He encouraged all to believe that there was a better global future. Our tribute to him must be to see that it happens. He is irreplaceable, for such people come our way only rarely…[W]e shall treasure and learn still from his wisdom, wit and world vision. In that way he will always be with us."
A less heralded but no less admirable, hero is our own Donald P. Irish, a long-time member of WFA and CGS, who will receive the 2004 Award for Peace and Justice bestowed by the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation. A sociologist by training and, since 1951, a Quaker by conviction, Don spent most of his career teaching at Hamline University and has been involved in a multitude of worthy struggles for peace and justice: for women, native Americans, blacks and others. He was active with Peace Brigades International in Guatemala (a dangerous assignment) and Witness for Peace in various sites in Latin America and has had a very long association with the American Friends Service Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Among his many honors was his receipt in 1997 of a Twin Cities International Citizen Award. In that same year Hamline University established the Don Irish Social Action Award, granted annually for outstanding faculty, staff member, or student social activism.
Please join in honoring Don Irish at the Hawkinson Foundation Award Program on Sunday, September 19 at 4:00 p.m. at the Bush Student Center at Hamline University, 2nd floor Ballroom, 1536 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul. (Parking will be available in any Hamline University lot.)
Joe Schwartzberg, Minnesota Chapter President
REMEMBERING A VISION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
by Dick Bernard, editor
Listening on July 29 to Jeffrey Laurenti speak on the "U.N. Role After Iraq: Who can Trust the UN?" caused me to think back to my first and, really, only visit to New York City, late June, 1972.
We visited the UN building that day (if memory serves, it was even possible to find a place to park!). I took a couple of tourist photos.
That same day I took a couple of photos of the then nearly completed World Trade Center (If you 'do' computers you can see these photos at www.chez-nous.net/peace.html).
Prior to and after the UN we visited Boston's Freedom Trail, the Statue of Liberty, Valley Forge, the Liberty Bell at Freedom Hall in Philadelphia: Liberty/Democracy/Freedom….
In 1972, Kurt Waldheim of Austria was beginning his term as Secretary General of the UN, succeeding U Thant of Burma. (UN Secretaries General: Trygve Lie, Norwar, 1946; Dag Hammarskjold, Sweden, 1953; U Thant, Burma, 1961; Kurt Waldheim, Austria, 1972; Javier Perez de Cuellar, Peru, 1982; Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egypt, 1992; Kofi Annan, Ghana, 1997)
In June, 1972, Vietnam was reaching its tortuous final chapter; young John Kerry had, over a year earlier, testified to Congress, Spiro T. Agnew was still vice-president; Allende was President of Chile (Pinochet/Kissinger/CIA/ Sep 11, 1973 were not words in the Chile conversation). The name "Saddam Hussein" did not have meaning. Baby Doc Duvalier was securely in charge in Haiti; the Shah held sway in Iran, both regimes supported by the U.S. The Russkies provided an ominous Cold War enemy.
Through it all, in that magnificent Manhattan structure, the diplomats and staff witnessed history happening, and labored to make some impact, however small, for a more positive and peaceful world.
It is good to think back to that time, nearly a third of a century ago, especially in this time of intense and, really, climactic change in the relationships between and among nations, and the UN's perceived role in the world.
For just a single example, there seems a significant movement today, at our highest levels, to neutralize or even dismantle the United Nations. This is a time where too many American leaders see the world as simply part of the U.S. empire. The UN is, some perceive, a useless relic of a past time.
Mr. Laurenti, in an effective and understated way on July 29, pointed out many changes - indeed stresses - from multiple directions.
For instance, he said, a recent survey in the Middle East found only 4% of Saudi's have a favorable view of the United States - a number so abysmally low, given statistical error, as to indicate zero support for America - and other middle east countries are not much better.
And on and on the conversations go, and should go.
Personally, I feel the UN will weather the current storms, as it has weathered others. It is more essential now than it has ever been.
September 21, in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers will celebrate the annual United Nations International Day of Peace (more at www.internationaldayofpeace.org). What better way to consider the potential of the United Nations than its speaking for peace. Do attend the MAP event, at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. See enclosure and www.mapm.org for more information.
FORGING AHEAD ON UN REFORM
Most readers of this Newsletter already know of Joe Schwartzberg's monograph, REVITALIZING THE UNITED NATIONS: REFORM THROUGH WEIGHTED VOTING, recently published by the Institute of Global Policy of the World Federalist Movement. Indeed, many have already obtained a copy. Publication was generously underwritten by Joe's friend, Farooq Kathwari, CEO of Ethan Allen, Inc.
Amply documented and handsomely illustrated with numerous colored maps and graphs, the study analyzes the major shortcomings in the decision-making system of both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council; presents a set of recommendations for correcting these deficiencies in a way that is at once fair, objective, and realistic; provides the wording of needed Charter amendments; discusses objections that individual countries and country groups would initially put forward in response to the recommendations and responds to their legitimate concerns; and, finally, suggests a long-term strategy for bringing the reforms into being. Joe sees implementation of reforms, more or less along the lines he proposes, as a "ten-year project, give or take a few years," but one that will not be brought to fruition without a good deal of educational effort and marshalling of citizen and NGO support. The creation of the International Criminal Court provides a good example of how this can be accomplished.
On the back cover of the monograph are endorsements by highly qualified experts who read the study in manuscript form. Here is one by John Anderson, past President of the World Federalist Association and current President of the Center for Voting and Democracy:
"Professor Schwartzberg's proposals for UN reform are backed by formidable research. His ideas are of particular salience today and are worthy of emphatic endorsement. The achievement of world peace through law is dependent on Charter reform in general and specifically on achieving weighted voting in both the General Assembly and Security Council as Professor Schwartzberg recommends."
More than 2,000 copies of Joe's monograph have already been distributed worldwide thanks to assistance from the Center for UN Reform Education, Citizens for Global Solutions, the Academic Council on the United Nations System, Earth Action and the American Bar Association. (Thanks for help in this effort are extended also to nine volunteers from our local chapter of CGS.) Among the recipients were most of the members of the High-Level Panel on UN Reform appointed by Kofi Annan last November and all 191 member nation missions to the UN. Support from Parliamentarians for Global Action has been promised in further distribution efforts among parliamentarians from democratic nations throughout the world; and Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York has promised to get copies to all members of the House and Senate Committees on International Relations. Additional mailings are also planned.
When sending copies of the monograph to UN missions, the Center for UN Reform Education also invited them to send delegates to a conference in New York, tentatively scheduled for December 8, to discuss its recommendations. At this writing, thirteen nations, including Russia, Mexico, and Italy, have agreed to participate. More on this as plans develop.
Over the past two years Joe has given twenty-two presentations on UN reform at sites throughout the US, as well as in Norway and Italy. He will be the keynote speaker at the UNAM's annual UN Rally in Minneapolis on October 25 (see enclosure) and would welcome speaking invitations from CGS, UNA, and other sympathetic civic and faith groups anywhere in the US or Canada.
Joe's monograph may be read on the excellent Center for Global Solutions website at www.globalsolutions.org/programs/intl_instit/UN_ref/Schwartzberg_Weighted_Voting.pdf. It may also be purchased (postage included) by sending a check for $20.00 payable to "CGSMN" to Joe Schwarztberg at 5492 Bald Eagle Blvd E, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.
|Citizens for Global Solutions
Citizens for Global Solutions-Minnesota Chapter
5145 16th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55417
info at globalsolutionsmn.org