|Issues||September 2007 Newsletter|
BUILDING INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES
Next month our state will have the honor of hosting the national annual meeting of Citizens for Global Solutions. One year before Minneapolis hosts the Republican national convention it will be the focus of CGS' efforts. All of you are urged to participate as we review where we've been and, more importantly, where we need to go in the future. For information on registration go to http://www.globalsolutions.org/meeting07 or call Lisa Hall at the national office at 202-330-4120.
However incrementally we move in our advocacy - issue-by-issue, block-by-block - we construct a foundation for international structures that will span the abyss of global problems, even those beyond the control of the United States, history's most powerful nation. Environmental degradation, nuclear weapons, and unchecked population growth are the big three root-cause problems that will require international cooperation and necessitate new 21st century international structures to mount effective corrective action. Any one of these core problems left unchecked could bring disaster on an unprecedented scale and all work corrosively together.
Thanks to decades of effort, mainly by civil society, global warming has become a household word. Dedicated people working through many organizations have cast a spotlight on rising biosphere temperatures and simultaneously decreasing biodiversity. Those of us who remember the first Earth Day celebrations in the early1970s may reflect that at the time it seemed to many like a side issue in the midst of the Vietnam tumult. But these environmental issues have proven to be a template of how the person-in-the-street can identify with the big picture and how that person votes with her wallet and in the ballot box. This issue changed in a few decades from a fringe "tree-hugger" movement to one that no serious presidential platform can ignore. Similar changes of heart, I believe, will take place in the years ahead for the other global problems.
With so much else to occupy our attention, it's easy to ask, "Didn't we solve the nuclear war question with the fall of the Berlin Wall?" In fact, the threat remains real because even in "safe" storage nuclear weapons imperil us. While there has been major progress in moving from a peak of around 70,000 nuclear devices in the mid 1980s down to approximately 26,000 worldwide at present, 11,000 of these are deployed nuclear warheads - American and Russian - ready for launch in minutes or hours (Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/nuclear_weapons/worldwide-nuclear-arsenals.html). This number is heading down to 4,000 by 2012 at which time the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) will expire and there will then be no limits unless a new treaty is negotiated! Isn't it an outrage that some suggest we should walk away from further reductions of deployed and stored nuclear weapons to maintain annihilation an option for future brinkmen? How can we educate our citizens and leaders to channel misgiving about this situation into political action to build real security within the framework of an empowered UN International Atomic Energy Agency?
Presently, population growth seems to be a political third rail. There is not nearly enough discussion of how it undermines even the best international foundations laid for progress in other areas. The population problem needs to be seriously addressed in our educational system and built into our strategies for development. Improving the lives of the bottom half of the world's economic strata increases the security of those at the top. "Watchful waiting" to avert a pandemic or political chaos will solve nothing in a shrunken, tightly interconnected world competing for ever-scarcer resources. Decreased birth rates are infinitely preferable to increased death rates as our global civilization approaches the carrying capacity of the planet, especially in light of the social, political and economic turmoil that widespread famine would produce.
There's a lot to hear, contribute and discuss on how to build international institutions appropriate for the 21st century. We must now ask what should be the wisest short-term priorities on which our organization should focus in the coming year(s)? We will explore various possibilities at our Annual CGS Meeting, this year, October 26-28 (Friday-Sunday) at the HHH Institute of Public Affairs on the U of MN Minneapolis West Bank campus, virtually in your back yard! We look forward to seeing you then and invite you to help build the foundations of a bridge to a more secure future, one block and one issue at a time.
Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.
MARTHA PLATT TURNS 100!
On July 26, our eldest and dearest member, Martha Platt, marked her hundredth birthday. And what a life she has led! Along with her late husband, Stanley (d. 1997), Martha has been an active peacemaker for over seven decades. She and Stanley have held offices in the World Federalist Association and were life-long members of the United Nations Association. The Platts opened their homes to fundraisers, social events, and innumerable guests. According to the Minnesota International Center, the Platts hold the record for the number of international students hosted. Martha served as the liaison chair between the World Federalist Association of the U.S. and the World Association of World Federalists. She was active for over 50 years with the League of Women Voters and has been a pioneer in many issues affecting the social position of women. She led travel groups to China and served on the board of the U.S.-China People's Friendship Association. Martha, your fellow members of CGS Minnesota salute you!
THIRD THURSDAY GLOBAL ISSUES FORUM
Free and open to the public.
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis (at Lyndale & Hennepin) Park in church lot.
Thursday, September 20, 7:00 - 9:00 pm.
Presenter: TED FARMER. A member of the History Department of the University of Minnesota since 1968, Professor Farmer has a BA in history and philosophy, an MA in East Asian regional studies and a Ph.D. from Harvard in history and Far Eastern languages. . He is the Director of the National Resource Center in International Studies in the university's Institute for Global Studies. His research and abundant publications, including several books, have dealt largely with Ming China, comparative early modern history, twentieth century Chinese history and global history.
Thursday, October 18, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Presenters: TIM PENNY and MIKAEL RUDOLPH. Arguing for impeachment will be Mikael Rudolph, founder of the Minneapolis Chapter of The World Can't Wait and co-founder of Impeach for Peace. Mr. Rudolph served on the impeachment panel at the 2006 Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle and spoke for impeachment at the DFL 5th Congressional District meeting in Minneapolis, subsequent to which Keith Ellison cosigned the Kucinich impeachment resolution in the US House of Representatives. Opposing impeachment will be Tim Penny, a senior fellow and co-Director of the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum. After representing Minnesota's First Congressional District from 1982 to 1994, Mr. Penny served on the transition team of Governor Jesse Ventura and, in 2002 was himself the Independence Party candidate for governor of Minnesota. Author of three books, including The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics (1998), Mr. Penny is a regular public speaker, radio commentator, and editorial writer on topics of political importance at both the federal and state level.
2007 ANNUAL MEETING
The Citizens for Global Solutions 2007 Annual Meeting will take place on October 26-28 in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. This year's theme, "Steps on the Road to a Just and Enduring Peace," will look at what the United States and the United Nations must do over the next several decades to tackle global challenges and build a sustainable peace.
Our Annual Meeting will provide an opportunity for old and new members of CGS to engage with the organization's unique vision of building peace, justice and freedom in a democratically governed world. To register go to http://www.globalsolutions.org/meeting07 or call Lisa at the national office at 202-330-4120.
The weekend event will explore key improvements in U.N. procedures -- such as weighted voting in the General Assembly and Security Council; the necessity of bringing the global south into a genuinely lasting peace and the strengthening of international institutions like the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and U.N. peacemaking forces. It will also examine the key threats and challenges that we face and evaluate potential solutions to these issues. A focus on these cornerstone issues of our interconnected world promises to make the 2007 Annual Meeting a critical arena for new and old members to come together in the pursuit of these ideals.
World leaders increasingly recognize the need for international cooperation. Thus, CGS is renewing its commitment to turn motivation for a just and enduring peace into the initiative that will make this a reality.
Events at this year's meeting will include a seated dinner in honor of a long-time member and supporter, an evening of film and the following sessions:
Weighted Voting at the United Nations: What is it? How could it be implemented? Can it achieve the essential goal of giving the U.N. authority to create binding international laws? Can it be utilized as a tool to further democratize the U.N. and ensure that decisions more accurately reflect the changing demographics of our interconnected world?
Building a Just and Lasting Peace from a Global South Perspective: What are the key peace and security issues that matter for Citizens of the Global South? Do they believe the issues most important to them are being adequately addressed by the Western powers? What can be done to ensure that priority global issues reflect concerns across the entire international community?
International Criminal Court & United Nations Emergency Peace Service: From Darfur to Congo, the need for a strong international justice mechanism coupled with an established rapidly deployable U.N. emergency peacekeeping force is clear. What needs to be done to ensure that the international community remains committed to strengthening both the ICC and UNEPS?
Thinking Ahead: What will the world look like in 2057 (50 years from now)? What are the most urgent global problems to get under control by then? What global structures, especially at the U.N., are essential for trying to solve these problems? What should the United States do to facilitate creating these structures?
Creating a Nuclear Weapons-Free World: Since its inception in 1968 the Non-Proliferation Treaty has played a key role in global security by limiting the spread of nuclear weapons. Recently, however, countries inside and outside the NPT have sought nuclear technology for energy purposes or to gain political clout, and promises made by signatories are not being kept. How can we bolster the non-proliferation regime to meet the challenges of the 21st century? How can we compel the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their promises of disarmament?
Institutions are what nations make of them. If the rule of law is to replace anarchy, international law involves surrender of a certain amount of sovereignty.
-- Vernon A. Walters, former US Representative to the United Nations
PROGRESS REPORT ON UN REFORM
As many readers this Newsletter know, I have been thinking, writing, and lecturing for many years on the subject of UN reform. I would not have kept at it as long as I have if I were not convinced that some portion of what I am promoting has a realistic chance of coming about in the foreseeable future. I have been heartened by certain recent developments and wish here to inform you about some important achievements at the global level and also of my own recent activities.
At the global level, the key developments, in my view, are the coming into being of the International Criminal Court and the acceptance of the responsibility to protect ("R2P") as a norm for national behavior and as a basis for international, UN-sanctioned intervention when nations egregiously fail to uphold that norm (subject to a set of strict conditions to prevent abuses). Although I approve in principle the conversion of the UN Human Rights Commission into full-time Human Rights Council, I deplore the fact that the bar for national eligibility to serve on the Council has been set much too low. The growing support for a rapidly deployable UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS), under direct UN command is also a very welcome development. Also encouraging is the likelihood that the US will finally join the rest of the world in ratifying the important Law of the Sea Convention.
My own efforts have been directed mainly, but by no means exclusively, at reform of the General Assembly and Security Council by the adoption of rational systems of weighted voting and also, in the case of the SC, of an innovative system of universal regional representation, (See box on page six for recent essays to be distributed free to persons attending our national meeting in October.) Here is a rundown of some of my recent activities and of outside collaborative efforts:
WORKS TO BE DISTRIBUTED AT NATIONAL MEETING
Copies of the following works by Joe Schwartzberg, will be distributed, free of charge, to all registrants for the national meeting of CGS in Minneapolis on October 26-28: Revitalization of the United Nations: Reform through Weighted Voting, New York and the Hague: Institute for Global Policy, World Federalist Movement, 1994, xviii + 80 pages; and "Universal Regional Representation as a Basis for Security Council Reform," 29 pages.
Citizens for Global Solutions-Minnesota Chapter
5492 Bald Eagle Blvd. E.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
info at globalsolutionsmn.org