June 23, 2009 by cgsstlouischapter
by Colleen Whalen
2009 has been a long anticipated year for me as it is full of travels to Turkey, Aruba, and Costa Rica. To kick-off the list of destinations though, I began by traveling to the annual conference of Citizens for Global Solutions in Washington D.C. In March, when I returned from spring break, as I prepared for the trip I had a number of anticipations and curiosity about how the organization works with members of Congress to make changes and progress in the international community. Despite the fact that such action requires mass amounts of cooperation with international organizations and foreign nations, the key to US involvement lies with people such as those in CGS. My experience with the people in the organization as well as the guest speakers, panelists, and legislators, was highly beneficial to my own growth in the field of international relations as well as political science.
The members of CGS come from all different backgrounds and studies, but share the passion and drive for advancing the status of the US in world affairs. I was very happy to be treated so well by people whom I had never even met before, and I learned a great deal from the diverse groups who were so willing to discuss what they knew as well as to hear what people like myself thought. My knowledge about current situations with the UN and the ICC, nuclear non-proliferation, Darfur, and the environment greatly increased due to the informative speakers as well as the people present at the convention. Becoming a part of CGS for the weekend and being able to have an impact on legislation by visiting with legislators made me feel as though every person really does have a voice. The way in which members go out and push for their goals and believe in something so much instills a feeling of accomplishment and importance in me.
One of the most important issues for me is genocide and the involvement of the US and other nations against governments such as Al-Bashir’s in Sudan. The videos of the disaster there were impressive and are beneficial for people who do not know much about the circumstances of people living in Darfur. Solutions are difficult, for genocides are due to the fact that countries want to preserve their “state sovereignty.” The ICC can make a difference, however, by holding dictators accountable for their behavior. A warrant for the arrest of Al-Bashir was a positive step for the ICC in setting an example for others as well as stabilizing the legitimacy of the organization. Darfur was a hot topic in the 2008 elections and hopefully President Obama will stay true to his word and bring an end to the genocide.
Along the same lines, I very much enjoyed the speech of Gillian Sorenson from the UN. She clearly has a great amount of experience with the international community and really believes in the actions taken by the organization. Her discussion of the UN’s relationship with the US really put into perspective the damage that has been done and what the US must now do to regain its status.
The “Treaties in Limbo” discussion was also very interesting because it explained how the US has failed in recent years to ratify certain treaties which are crucial to our role in the international community. Some examples of these include the Convention to Eliminate All forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW) and the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court. The fear has been that these treaties would abrogate the sovereignty of the US. Since we are currently the hegemonic power, the government has been reluctant to give up sectors of supremacy. As the world continues to shift in the direction of a multipolar system though, the US will face increasing roadblocks to dominance due to its self-isolation from the international community.
Progress in the world now focuses on cooperation with other nations because of the way in which states are so interdependent. Educating the population is of great importance as we enter a world where competition is not only among US citizens but also among people across the globe. The future of the US depends on how willing citizens are to become active in making changes to expand our role in the world. With people such as those of CGS, the potential for the US to make positive changes for other nations and people is encouraging.
Thanks again to CGS of St. Louis for the opportunity to travel to your great organization’s national convention and to be a part of something that I will remember for the rest of my life!