College students, & high-school seniors and juniors– Enter this contest for an all-expenses-paid trip to our annual national assembly in Washington D.C.
“M A K I N G T H E U N I T E D N A T I O N S W O R K F O R U S”
MAY 19 – 22, 2 0 1 0
VISIT AND LOBBY YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS.
PARTICIPATE IN AN INTERACTIVE SIMULATION WHERE YOU MUST OVERCOME REAL OBSTACLES TO CREATE A U.N. THAT ACTUALLY SOLVES OUR GLOBAL PROBLEMS.
MEET GLOBAL ACTIVISTS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS) of Greater St. Louis will provide transportation, registration, meals, & lodging for a college student or a high-school junior or senior to participate in the Citizens for Global Solutions national assembly in Washington DC.
The conference begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, so you should be able to leave St. Louis Wednesday morning. It ends late afternoon Saturday, May 22, so you could be back that night if you wish. If you want to do sightseeing in Washington on Sunday, we will also provide housing for you for Saturday night (but not extra meals). Getting to and from the St. Louis airport is your responsibility.
If you want to be a contestant for this all-expenses-paid trip, write a 3-5 page typed essay (double-spaced) consisting of two parts. In the first part tell us why your past activities and successes show that you would be a good person for us to send to this meeting. In the second part share with us your thinking about one or more of the problems our world community faces and how we might deal with them more effectively.
In exchange for this subsidy, CGS of St. Louis expects you to give us a brief written report about the conference and what you learned from it. (This gets published in our local newsletter.)
Send your essay to:
Ronald J. Glossop, 8894 Berkay Avenue, Jennings, MO 63136-5004 or preferably by e-mail to: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Be sure to include your home address and home telephone number. For more information, call (314) 869-2303 & see
THE AGE OF CONSENT: A MANIFESTO FOR A NEW WORLD ORDER
by George Monbiot [London: Harper Perennial, 2003]
(Book review by Ronald J. Glossop–January 15, 2010)
His thesis is spelled out in the first two paragraphs. “Everything has been globalized except our consent. Democracy alone has been confined to the nation state.” “This book is an attempt to describe a world run on . . . the principle of democracy. It is an attempt to replace our Age of Coercion with an Age of Consent.” He later restates the point. “As everything has been globalized except democracy, the rulers of the world can go about their business without reference to ourselves. Unsurprisingly, therefore, many—perhaps most—of the decisions they make conflict with the interests of the majority, and reflect only those of the dominant minority” (pp.83-84).
This book aims to redirect the thinking and actions of the mostly young people who protest against the power of multinational corporations and the World Bank and the IMF and the rich and powerful generally. They mistakenly think the problem is globalization. Consequently they tend to overlook the possibility of political globalization, of democracy at the global level, which is the only thing that can defeat the existing unjust economic globalization. Monbiot wants to correct this lack. To do that he needs to make the case for democracy as “the least worst political system,” which he aims to do in chapter 2. He provides an incisive critique of Marxism (pp. 26-30) and anarchism (pp. 30-40). Monbiot recognizes that democracies can experience some difficulties such as the tyranny of the majority but concludes that a democratic political system is a “self-refining experiment in collective action” (p. 46). At the national level the superiority of a democratic system is generally recognized. What still needs to be recognized is the superiority of democracy at the global level.
In chapter 3 Monbiot critiques the ideas that the way to undercut the present power of transnational corporations is to localize activities or to practice voluntary simplicity. Such approaches are available only to the fairly well off and are not going to help the poor of the world because they do nothing to check the power of the powerful. Monbiot rejects the approach of ”realists” like George Soros who confine their proposals to what the authorities who control the world “are ready to consider.” If we so restrict our thinking, “we may as well give up and leave the authorities to run the world unmolested” (p. 63). It is characteristic of every revolution that it was “described as ‘unrealistic’ just a few years before it happened” (p. 65).
The challenge is how to create a world parliament. The first step is to realize that the U.N. as presently constituted isn’t democratic and can’t be made democratic. The same is true of the Inter-Parliamentary Union composed of members of national parliaments. A parliament of representatives from NGOs also wouldn’t work because someone would need to decide which NGOs get to participate and which ones don’t. Monbiot concludes that a world parliament must consist of directly elected representatives from 600 districts of 10 million people each and with no regard to national boundaries. The meetings of the World Social Forum provide a model. An election commission to draw district boundaries could be established. Monbiot outlines how obstacles such as funding and resistance from national governments, especially nondemocratic ones, could be overcome. He notes that “building a world parliament is not the same as building a world government” (p. 93) because the world parliament he proposes would, at least at first, have only moral power. But history shows that popular groups exercising only moral power have exerted much influence. Monbiot discusses at length various difficulties that a world parliament would likely encounter and gives his proposals for how to deal with them.
In the fifth and sixth chapters Monbiot argues that we can move from nationalism and inter- nationalism to globalism “only when nation-states cease to exist” (p. 139), a point which world federalists would not accept. The huge and growing gap between rich and poor in the world is due to the trading system set up by national goverments and subsequently by the international institutions created by them. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have coerced the poorer countries into adopting policies such as reducing public expenditures on education that are harmful to themselves. In order to repay their debts these poor countries are forced to sell raw materials at artificially low prices. In 1944 Keynes proposed an international Clearing Union which would have stabilized currencies and equalized trading between rich and poor countries, but the U.S.’s Harry Dexter White rejected the idea.
Given the existing international system, the one option available to the poor nations is to just refuse to pay their debts unless the international institutions are changed. The huge inequalities in the world can be corrected only by trade rules which help the poor countries rather than a free- trade system based on the notion that the trade rules must be the same for all, rich or poor. History shows how the developed countries all practiced protectionism for their infant industries, but that possibility is being denied to the presently developing countries because of the demand for “free trade.” International regulation is needed, but by a Fair Trade Organization whose policies would enable poor countries to advance economically while protecting workers’ rights and the environment.
In the final chapter Monbiot urges members of the movement for social justice to join in collective nonviolent revolutionary action. Work together, he pleads, to build a world parliament, a Free Trade Organization, and an International Clearing Union. It is obvious that “governments will not act on our behalf until we force them to do so” (p. 261).
This book is a well-documented, well-reasoned plea for revolutionary action to change the existing global system by which the rich and powerful not only maintain but can even increase the discrepancy between the haves and have- nots in the world. Monbiot adroitly analyzes what is happening and why, and he astutely notes the places where changes need to begin. But it remains to be seen whether the people are able to make a difference if and when they take the actions he recommends.
Ronald J. Glossop is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Peace Studies at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and author of Philosophy: An Introduction to Its Problems & Vocabulary (1974), World Federation? (1993) and Confronting War (4th ed., 2001).
PARTNERS FOR GLOBAL CHANGE FOCUSES ON CEDAW TREATY
Because of the cold weather the CGS/STL board meeting was postponed from January 9 until January 16. Consequently, instead of being able to listen together to the national conference call at the World Community Center, we had to participate individually from our homes. The subject of this month’s call was the need to get the U.S. Senate to ratify the CEDAW Treaty, that is the Convention to Eliminate (all forms of) Discrimination Against Women. which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly 130-0 in 1979 and signed by President Carter. The United States is one of only seven countries that has not ratified this treaty. Some of the others are Somalia, Sudan, and Iran–not very good company for us.
The needed action at the present time is to flood the Whitehouse with messages asking President Obama to make ratification of this treaty a priority for his administration. To do your part, send a message through the website <http:// http://www.whitehouse.gov> or e-mail to <email@example.com> or call 202/456-1111 or write President Barack Obama, 1600 Pensylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20500.
Be part of our effort. Do it NOW. Thanks for your help.
“Parliament of the World’s Religions”
By David C. Oughton
My doctoral studies and teaching have focused on the world’s religions, interreligious dialogue, and the role of the religions for promoting world peace. From December 3-9, 2009, I was very fortunate to further my studies by participating in the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. This event involved about 6,000 people from all of the major religions of the world.
The first World Parliament of the Religions took place during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. That was the first time in human history when representatives of the major religions sat together on the same stage as equals. Delegates there hoped that the world’s religions would make war not on each other but on the giant evils that afflict humanity. But two world wars and sixty other wars followed. Many modern philosophers and religious leaders have indicated their belief that there will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. Furthermore, there will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions and an agreement on a global ethic.
So it was decided to hold international religious parliaments in recent years. Along with several others from St. Louis, I have previously attended the Parliaments at Chicago in 1993; at Cape Town, South Africa in 1999; and at Barcelona, Spain in 2004. Since there has been an attempt to move the Parliament to different continents, the 2014 Parliament will probably be held somewhere in Asia or in Latin America. The modern parliaments are religious conventions that are open to anyone who is committed to learning about and dialoging with people from other religions. Each day of the Parliament involves meetings, presentations, and panels about different religions of the world or a particular global problem. Attending religious services is also an option. I attended services led by representatives of Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, and Orthodox Judaism.
I was part of a program explaining what is being done in local communities to promote positive relations between people of different religions. I explained to some people from various countries how St. Louis’ Dialogue Group of the World’s Religions and Philosophies, which I have organized for the last 25 years, and groups such as Interfaith Partnership/ Faith Beyond Walls, the Living Insights Center, and the St. Louis Holocaust Museum promote many interreligious programs in the St. Louis area.
I learned much from attending programs about the religions of indigenous peoples such as the Aborigines of Australia, tribal religions of Africa, and Native American religions. Representatives of these religions promoted the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I also attended sessions on conflict resolution in the Middle East, the role of religion in peacemaking, and the religious responses to global problems such as human trafficking.
Two sessions in particular relate to the goals of Citizens for Global Solutions. The first concerned the Charter for Compassion, written by Karen Armstrong, a British scholar who has written many books about the relations between the monotheistic religions. According to Armstrong, one of the most urgent tasks of our generation is to build a global community in which people of all religions and nations can live together in peace. In our globalized world, everyone is becoming a neighbor. Promoting the ancient religious and ethical principles of compassion and reciprocity, often expressed as the Golden Rule, has become an urgent necessity. The charter calls upon all to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion, to reject any interpretation of scripture that breeds hatred or violence, to teach accurate and respectful information about other religions, to appreciate cultural and religious diversity, and to cultivate empathy for the sufferings of others, even those regarded as enemies.
The other session which relates to our goals concerned “A New Ethical Manifesto for the Global Economy” that has been developed by the ecumenical Swiss theologian Hans Küng and representatives of various religions. Professor Küng was also the main author of the “Declaration toward a Global Ethic” which he presented at the Parliament in Chicago in 1993. At the Parliament in Melbourne, Küng applied the principles of the global ethic to business and economics. He argued that laws are not effective without morality. He said that the recent global economic crisis was caused by a failure of economic regulations but also by a lack of basic ethical norms such as a lack of truthfulness, corporate greed, and “casino capitalism.” He emphasized that people from all religions can agree on universal ethical values such as non-violent conflict resolution, honesty, human rights, labor rights, working against corruption in government and economics, working for justice, and protecting the environment.
I am convinced that the Parliaments of the World’s Religions are important forums for promoting humatriotism, world citizenship, and a global ethic for the global community. The world’s religions have a responsibility of building a secure foundation for these values so that a democratic system of enforceable world laws can develop the means for outlawing war and solving our global problems.
Dr. Oughton is an Associate Professor in the Theology Department at Saint Louis University where he teaches courses on the world’s religions. He serves as the Treasurer of the St. Louis Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions.
YOU CAN VOTE FOR WORLD FEDERATION IN A GLOBAL REFERENDUM
To register your vote, all you need to do is to go to the Vote World Government website at <http://www.voteworldgovernment.org> and cast your vote. There is only one question. Do you support the creation of a directly-elected, representative and democratic world government? You can vote “Yes” or “No.”
This effort to have a global referendum has been initiated by Canadianworld federalist Jim Stark. In order to generate more publicity for the effort, he has enlisted the support of those who have written books about world federalism. The list of authors with quotations from many of them in support of the global referendum is at <http://www.voteworldgovernment.org/authorscampaign.shtml>. Vote World Government is also a member of the new WATUN coalition (World Alliance to Transform the United Nations), which will include the global referendum as one of eight campaigns it supports.
Ron Glossop’s report on this U.N. Day event is based on excerpts from Dorothy Poor’s report in the WILPF newsletter of November, 2009.
On United Nations Day (October 24, 2009) some 50 members of the five co-sponsoring organizations met to hear a panel discuss ideas on “How to Make the UN More Effective.”
Judith Smart of the League of Women Voters of St. Louis discussed the status of the U.N.’s eight Millennium Development Goals targeted for 2015: eradication of extreme poverty, full productive employment, empowerment of women via CEDAW, reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health, universal access to reproductive health information, reduction of AIDS and other diseases such as tuberculosis and cholera, climate sustainability, and global participation in development. The LWV has an official observer at the UN.
With persisting problems such as incomes less than $1 a day, early marriage of girls, high mortality rate of children under five, clear cutting of forests and lack of clean water, progress remains difficult.
But not impossible, as Rea Kleeman of the LWV noted in recommending the book The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs. He was chosen by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to guide work on the development goals. Quoting from Sachs’ book, Kleeman said 15,000 Africans die every day of preventable diseases, and an estimated $15 billion would get rid of extreme poverty that contributes to such diseases. World population increase adds to the problems.
Speaking for the UNA, Dr. Jean Robert Leguey-Feilleux of St. Louis University said to improve the UN we need to make more use of it with professional diplomats and the new leadership of President Obama. “He’s turning the page and rebuilding trust in government, but leadership starts with us,” he said. “We have to convince people that the multilateral approach in foreign policy is best, and we need to keep ourselves informed.”
Yvonne Logan, WILPF vice president, suggested Americans show more respect for the UN by standing behind treaties and supporting the proposal of a standing UN army. She pointed out that WILPF works for disarmament and women’s rights as a member of GEAR, the Gender Equality Architecture Reform Coalition which coordinates women’s issues at the UN. Currently WILPF is working for Senate ratification of the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) without the addition of compromising Reservations, Understandings and Declarations (RUDS) detrimental to women’s reproductive rights. WILPF continues to co-sponsor international protests against the weaponization of space and to call for reducing the U.S. military budget.
Ron Glossop, Chair of the local chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions, acknowledged that he was “talking to the choir,” but encouraged the audience to bone up by reading A Global Agenda: Issues Before the UN 2009-10 which is available at <http://www.unausa.org/publications>. Electing President Obama has been a great help toward changing our foreign policy, he said, and now we need to get the right people into Congress.
He made these points:
1. The UN needs more money. For the two years 2008-09 the UN regular budget is $4.572 billion, and the U.S. share is only $500 million a year. The expenditure for the whole UN system (almost 20 different international organizations) is about $13 billion a year while Missouri’s 2009 budget is $22.4 billion. The UN’s total budget for the two years 2008-09 for 16 peacekeeping operations is $7.08 billion, and the U.S. share is $1.856 billion a year.
2. The UN can’t borrow money and consequently regularly faces financial crises. Glossop suggested it needs to have independent sources of income such as the proposed Tobin Tax on short-term currency exchanges, a tax on each country’s military spending, or a fee on international airplane flights.
3. A better civil service system is needed to get more professionalism in the staff: more emphasis on ability and less on political considerations.
4. In addition to the existing General Assembly where each country has one vote regardless of size and all votes are merely recommendations, the UN should have an advisory Parliamentary Assembly where representatives would be members of the national legislature elected by their colleagues and where there would be weighted voting depending on a country’s population. As it gained more legitimacy, it could be given more real decision-making power. One of its advantages is that non-democratic countries without national parliaments would not be able participate.
5. The UN should have its own individually recruited UN Emergency Peace Service. This force would consist of some 15,000 specially trained persons able to respond quickly to crisis situations whether natural disasters, genocides, or military actions condemned by the UN. A critical matter to be decided is determining which UN body would have the authority to direct and control the UNEPS.
The Ethical Action Committee of the Ethical Society was thanked for co-sponsoring the event and providing the meeting room at the Ethical Society of St. Louis.
A report written by Dorothy Poor which appeared in the October 2009 newsletter of the St. Louis chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), pages 3-4.
A panel of five with input from the audience of 85 listeners took on the question “Israeli-Palestinian Peace: Possibility or Dream?” and when the evening was over the question mark remained. But most in attendance seemed to relish the exchange of information and ideas sweetened by an array of delicious cookies.
WILPF sponsored the program October 7, 2009 at the University City Library auditorium. Moderator Jane Mendelson introduced the panelists: Repps Hudson, former Post-Dispatch reporter and Washington U. adjunct professor of “Readings on the Arab-Israeli Conflict;” Mazen Badra, Palestinian peace activist who teaches at Sanford-Brown College and Webster U.; Robert Cohn, former editor of The Jewish Light; Gloria Gordon of Brit Tzedek; and Michael Berg, U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation and St. Louis Instead-of-War.
The six minutes allotted each speaker in the beginning allowed no time for longwinded exposition, and timekeeper Suzanne Reinhold was promptly acknowledged at her signal.
Hudson remarked at the start that” the problem probably won’t be settled in the next 20 years.” The strong alliance between the U.S. and Israel will continue, he said, and the problems don’t lend themselves to simple solutions.
Badra said we need to stay hopeful for a peaceful solution and look for ways to exist without killing each other. He decried the growth of Jewish settlements on the West Bank – some 500,000 people – and said that in Jerusalem the Palestinians fear there’s a policy to uproot them. It’s important to be mindful of the points of view of people in the streets, he said.
Cohn took us back about 4,000 years to King David, Solomon and the two oldest sons of Abraham to illustrate how long Jews have been around the disputed area.
Gordon described Brit Tzedek, a Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, as a grassroots effort to educate Jews in support of resolving the conflict, and J Street as a new political lobby in Washington to work for a two-state solution. The effort includes re-defining “pro-Israel” not to mean “Israel right or wrong.” Gordon said major focus is on an Israeli majority favoring a two-state solution, and support of a government with clout, i.e. supporting President Obama in his effort to help official leaders negotiate a peace treaty.
Berg emphasized the devastating effects of encroaching settlements, checkpoints, and denial of human rights to Palestinians. He condemned the U.S. complicity of providing Caterpillar bulldozers used to destroy homes and olive orchards. As a nonviolent action he suggested boycott, divestment and sanctions.
Discussion on the next best steps to peace brought these comments:
Berg: The most important step is to stop military and economic aid until Israel complies with international laws. It might be reasonable for settlers to stay in the West Bank if they’re willing to live under Palestinian laws. The U.S. needs to exert real pressure.
Hudson: Positions on all sides have hardened and middle ground seems to be gone. But suicide bombings have gone down; there’s not so much killing, and that’s why the Wall exists.
Badra: I think Israel has a right to build a Wall, but don’t build it on my land, build it on your land. This Wall cuts off Palestinians from their land, their mosques, hospitals, and schools.
Cohn: Sanctions don’t work; they just make people more united against the users. They won’t work against Iran.
Gordon: Peace is a clear possibility, but to achieve it strong support will have to be given for Obama’s program. Sign and send the pledge “I’ve Got Your Back” to President Obama, and participate in the J Street conference October 25-28 to lobby for a two-state solution.
About ten people from the audience then formed a line up front, and each was allowed a minute to ask a question of the panel or make a comment. The first question referred to the Goldstone Report on possible war crimes committed by the Israelis and Hamas during the assault on Gaza, and asked why the U.S. has so far ignored it. Hudson said he thought the president had enough to consider without dealing with that report and Cohn concurred, saying that the president is already bogged down with war crimes. Berg and Badra disagreed, and Badra said Palestinians were furious that their own officials refused to support the follow-up.
Regarding the future of Jerusalem, Hudson said most Israelis don’t believe the city should be partitioned. “That’s the reality today.”
Anna Baltzer, author of Witness in Palestine: a Jewish American Women in the Occupied Territories, said, “The entire state of Palestine is under the control of Israel. What would happen if you just gave everyone the same rights? Would that justify denial of rights to Christians and Muslims?”
Steve Best asked, “What would happen if the settlers on the West Bank were told they could stay where they are, provided they are willing to live under Palestinian laws?”
Ron Glossop, Citizens for Global Solutions, picked up on Berg’s suggestions and asked, “Why not have the U.S. say to Israel: ‘You have to stop settlements, and if you don’t, we’ll cut down on financial assistance’?”
Fortunately, answers to the what ifs and why nots weren’t expected. With only minutes remaining before library closing time the program ended in a round of applause for the panel members, who joined the audience for cookies and conversation. WILPF hopes the talking continues.
The WILPF committee included Joan Botwinick, Louise Green, Betsy Hamra, and Mary Jane Schutzius, as well as moderator Jane Mendelson and timekeeper Suzanne Reinhold.