ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize Is Humanity’s Rx for Survival

ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize Is Humanity’s Rx for Survival

Nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to our humanity and the U.N. Treaty, through the work of ICAN, is now our prescription for survival.

By Robert Dodge

Friday’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) draws attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and the global movement to abolish these weapons as the only reliable way to guarantee that they will never be used again. The award brings the reality of these consequences front and center to the world stage. The nuclear armed states with their addiction to nuclear weapons due to their misguided false sense of security in having these weapons and their refusal to proceed further with the disarmament process will now be legally bound to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This award stigmatizes the nuclear armed states with their nuclear stockpiles and empowers the non-nuclear nations who have spoken out in the adoption of this summer’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

Physicians for Social Responsibility’s international federation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,  itself a recipient of the 1985 Nobel peace prize, founded ICAN in 2007. PSR worked with ICAN presenting scientific data on the humanitarian and medical consequences  of nuclear weapons at a series of three intergovernmental conferences in 2013 and 2014, the 2016 UN multilateral disarmament forum which ultimately led to the 2017 UN treaty negotiations and adoption of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by 122 nations on July 7, 2017. The Treaty prohibits the use, threat of use, development, testing, acquisition, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons and forever stigmatizes these weapons and the nations who maintain their nuclear stockpiles.The small and mighty permanent staffing of ICAN has allowed it to be nimble and strategic in its work, engaging a diverse range of groups and working alongside the Red Cross and like-minded governments. It has built a mighty global coalition of over 400 partners in 101 nations creating a movement that is unstoppable and along the way has reshaped the debate on nuclear weapons generating a momentum towards elimination.

The small and mighty permanent staffing of ICAN has allowed it to be nimble and strategic in its work, engaging a diverse range of groups and working alongside the Red Cross and like-minded governments. It has built a mighty global coalition of over 400 partners in 101 nations creating a movement that is unstoppable and along the way has reshaped the debate on nuclear weapons generating a momentum towards elimination.ICAN typifies the often quoted words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

ICAN typifies the often quoted words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The prize is a tribute to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the hibakusha, and victims of nuclear explosions and development around the world and their vision to prevent future generations from suffering the horror of a nuclear detonation.

Until now, nuclear weapons were the only indiscriminate weapon of war that had not been banned.  Chemical and biological weapons, as well as landmines and cluster munitions, have already been banned. Nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to our humanity and the U.N. Treaty, through the work of ICAN, is now our prescription for survival.

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https://www.commondreams.org/author/robert-dodgeRobert Dodge is a family physician practicing full time in Ventura, California. He is the president of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles serving as a Peace and Security Ambassador and at the national level he is co-chairman of Physicians for Social Responsibility National Security Committee. He also serves on the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions. He writes for PeaceVoice.

Taking Private Citizen Diplomacy to a New Level, From Russia to the United Nations

Taking Private Citizen Diplomacy to a New Level, From Russia to the United Nations

DWF with NGO reps in Crimea

CCI representatives meeting with local government and NGO representatives in Simferopol, Crimea.

By Roger Kotila
DWF Vice President

National governments and the United Nations stumble along, generally unable to make the world a safer and better place to live.  The Middle East, for example, has become a cauldron of war and chaos causing a refugee crisis in Europe, and bringing with it ever more terrorism. 

US/NATO appears to be provoking Russia at its European border raising concerns that a military conflict might erupt, perhaps even nuclear war.  Crimea and Ukraine are also geopolitical hotspots.  The Western press appears to be adding fuel to the fire by demonizing Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin. 

Private citizens have taken notice with a sense of alarm.  One group of American citizens, Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI) takes action to reduce tensions with Russia by directly meeting with ordinary citizens in Russia.  Democratic World Federalists (DWF) goes to Brussels, capitol of the European Union, to discuss with European federalists a plan to instigate UN Charter review in order to fix the UN so it can do its job. 

The San Francisco Promise now underway

With a vision for a peaceful, just and sustainable world, DWF based in San Francisco has launched a campaign to demand a review of the UN Charter and make good the promise that was made to the nations that signed the Charter in 1945, but was never honored.   

The UN, although it does many good things, is unable to do one of its primary jobs–ending war and eliminating nuclear weapons.  One reason for its failure is the Charter itself, written over 70 years ago but with fatal flaws, such as being profoundly undemocratic and lacking enforceable world law.    

A contingent of world federalists from Canada and the US went to Brussels with a mission to develop support for a review of the UN Charter–dubbed “The San Francisco Promise.”  

A number of meetings were arranged to discuss UN Charter Review with European federalists who work closely with the EU and the European Parliament.  

Opening the door to a safe and secure world

Because the UN is not a democratic world federation and lacks a proper constitution, the UN could not prevent the regime change invasions that caused the wars in the first place.  Europe and the US are now victims of their own making– vulnerable to the blowback from the military invasions in the Middle East which have resulted in the refugee crisis in Europe, and increased acts of terrorism in the West. 

UN Charter review could be a key means to open the door to a safe and secure world for all.  For example, because it lacks a proper governing structure, the UN has been unable to prevent the wars for regime change launched by US/NATO which have devastated Iraq, Syria, and Libya, and made Ukraine and Crimea targets of contention.   

DWF with Loan Bucuras in Brussels

Our contingent meets with Mr. Ioan Bucuras, Secretary General of Young European Federalists. Left to right: Roger Kotila, Vivian Davidson, Bob Hanson, Ioan Bucuras, Shahr-Yar Sharei.

Citizen diplomats to Crimea and Russia

Nation to nation friendship exchanges between private citizen diplomats can be an important vehicle both to reduce tensions, and for fact-finding. CCI leads the way in this type of peace activism. 

Twenty American citizen diplomats under the auspices of the Center for Citizen Initiatives traveled to Russia to meet with ordinary Russians in 5 different cities.  The purpose?  A friendship exchange to reduce tensions, and for fact-finding because Western mainstream media appears to paint a false picture of Russia, Crimea, and Russian leaders.  

Rather than take establishment press at its word that Russia is bad and the “aggressor” in places like Crimea, CCI went to Crimea, a center of contention between the United States and Russia. Time and time again western media claims that Russia “took over” Crimea against its will–a Russian “land grab.”  

Is Western media falsely making Russia an enemy?

But CCI President Sharon Tennison felt that the media’s negative portrait of Russia was wrong.  Tennison is uniquely qualified when it comes to Russia, having made “hundreds of trips” to Russia over the last 33 years.  

She is alarmed that Western media falsely labels Russia and President Vladimir Putin as “enemies” of America.   Demonization leads to military build-ups, and could result in nuclear war.

As Tennison suspected, CCI’s findings in Crimea differed markedly from the negative picture presented by media.  The majority of Crimeans themselves do not see Russia as the villain;  they prefer Russia and want to stay out of the grasp of Ukraine.    

For the world community nuclear war is not acceptable, and citizens are not waiting for the politicians to make the changes that will be required if the world is to be safe.

CCI’s website includes two insightful articles by retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright who warns us about slanted media reporting, and who also describes how Russians compare themselves to Americans.    

A new level of citizen diplomacy aims for a “new UN”

Democratic World Federalists are taking private citizen diplomacy to an entirely new level with a campaign whose goal it is to create a popular and political demand for fundamental changes to the UN itself. 

While CCI’s citizen diplomacy works on a nation to nation level, DWF looks to impact all 193 nations by working towards global system change — a “new UN” which can benefit all nations and peoples.  

History of “The San Francisco Promise”

It is well known by world federalists that the failed UN Charter has been holding back the UN from doing its primary job — ending war.

It is not well known that a number of nations objected to the undemocratic design of the Charter at the original time of its signing in 1945 in San Francisco, or that it was promised that a review would be held in ten years, a review that has never happened. 

The door to the possibility of a “new UN” has opened by the findings of a former DWF Board member Shahr-Yar Sharei whose doctoral research in international law uncovered the fact that a Charter review is legally required by the UN.

Making good on “The San Francisco Promise”

Through The San Francisco Promise, concerned citizens from the Bay Area and nationwide are invited to become members of DWF. 

The citizen demand for Charter review may spark an uprising in the UN General Assembly which has long played second fiddle at the UN — treated as second class citizens without a meaningful vote in global affairs. 

Citizen diplomats are calling for a World Parliament.  Earth Federation activists are lobbying for the outdated and fatally flawed UN Charter to be replaced by the Earth Constitution (aka, Constitution for the Federation of Earth).

It is time for the UN General Assembly to step up, the undemocratic UN Security Council to step down, and for a “new UN” to emerge, one that is capable of meeting the needs for which the UN was originally established.

 

Leaders Worldwide Call for a UN Parliament

Leaders Worldwide Call for a UN Parliament

By Byron BelitsosAfrican-Union-1

The latest updates from our friends at the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) is encouraging for all who favor world democracy. The first piece of good news is that on May 13, the continental parliament of Africa (known as the Pan-African Parliament)—led by its president, Nkodo Dang of Cameroon—formally called on the African Union and Africa’s governments to support the creation of a UNPA. Related good news also comes out of Germany. A motion passed by the governing coalition of the German parliament calls on Angela Merkel’s government “to examine the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.” Plus, there’s more strong support out of Europe: The EU’s own foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, gave strong support to a UN Parliamentary Assembly in a speech in Rome at an EU diplomatic event. “UN Parliamentary Assembly could strengthen the link between a system of global governance, which is remote by definition, and a citizenship that includes a global dimension,” said Mogherini. It is well worth noting in addition that late last year over 1,400 current and former lawmakers from more than one hundred countries and hundreds of renowned personalities from politics, science and genuine canadian pharmacy , cultural life and civil society signed an international appeal urging the United Nations and its member states “to establish a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations.” The appeal and the list of signatories was presented to the President of the 70th UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, by Andreas Bummel, founder of the UNPA.

 


NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.


The San Francisco Promise

The San Francisco Promise

UN Founding in SF

By Bob Hanson
DWF Board Member

Last year the United Nations celebrated its seventieth anniversary. This documentary created just after the U.N.’s founding in 1945 in San Francisco provides a feeling for the hopefulness of those days. Since then, the UN has accomplished much good, but of course it never lived up to its potential as the organization that would put an end to war. One key reason is the veto power vested in the Security Council. A majority of the nations present at the founding of the U.N. objected to the proposal that the winners of World War II be given the power of the veto. They were told in reply that their objection to the veto could be addressed by a formal charter review that could be held no later than 10 years from the UN’s founding. So this provision was included as Section 109(3) of the charter. But this so-called “San Francisco promise” was never fulfilled—simply because the veto-wielding members of the Security Council have managed to keep it from happening. The U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, and France prefer having a situation where nothing will happen unless they approve of it.  

The veto is profoundly unfair and undemocratic in that it enables the holders to prevent any actions against themselves or their friends. This power to veto is an affront to the rights of the other member-nations of the United Nations and the reason why it cannot solve many of the world’s major global challenges. The composition of the Security Council is also the subject of much legitimate complaint. Why should France and Great Britain have permanent seats, while Brazil, Germany, Japan and India only occasionally get to sit on the body and don’t have a veto when they are on it?

To improve the efficacy of the United Nations, several key actions need to be considered through charter review. These include: 

1) Form of a world parliament which could enact world law. 2) Enable the World Court of Justice to have the power to enforce its decisions. 3) Develop a volunteer rapid-deployment force (armed and unarmed) which could put out brushfire wars and do effective peacekeeping instead of relying on national armies—a provision recommended by all Secretary Generals from Trygve Lie to Kofi Annan.  4) Create mechanisms capable of dealing with problems such as climate change, nuclear proliferation  and endangered species, which are issues that recognize no national boundaries.

Another obvious shortcoming of the present U.N. is that in the General Assembly, India—with over a billion citizens—has the same one vote as Monaco, which has a population of about 30,000. When the U.N. Charter was adapted at San Francisco in 1945, no one expected it to remain unchanged forever. The world has changed a lot in these seventy years and the United Nations must change if it is to be relevant in the 21st Century. The U.N. needs far reaching reforms to better deal with ending war, preventing global warming and solving dozens of other worldwide problems. 

Remember the San Francisco Promise! 

*For more information, contact the Democratic World Federalists at [email protected] or the Center for United Nations Constitutional Research (CUNCR) at [email protected]  

 

NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.

Schwartzberg Introduces Workable World Trust

Schwartzberg Introduces Workable World Trust

Workable World logoAlong with numerous prominent speakers at the recent “Creating a Workable World” conference at the University of Minnesota, convener Joseph Schwartzberg also introduced the Workable World Trust. The main purpose of the Trust is to promote and disseminate the ideas put forward in Professor Schwartzberg’s most recent book, Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, which was featured recently in DWF News. Speakers at the conference included the likes Andreas Bummel, Director of the Committee for a Democratic U.N. and William Pace, Executive Director of the World Federalist Movement. Full text as well as video of all presentations at this landmark event are now available here.


NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.


Getting There by Uniting the Democracies

Getting There by Uniting the Democracies

CWDDN logoby Chris Hamer

Allow me to recall the rationale behind the newly formed Coalition for a World Community of Democratic Nations. We are all agreed on the need for a world government or global parliament. We differ, however, on the great question of how to get there. The DWF website shows four possible routes to this goal, namely: a global constitutional convention, a reform of the UN Charter, uniting the democracies, and the regional route. Since nobody can predict the future with certainty, I believe we should all support each other in our explorations along all of these routes. My position is that the uniting the democracies approach offers the best method of getting to our objective.

World federalists have always concentrated most of their efforts on the most obvious route, namely reform of the UN, which is the central body of global governance at present. But in this effort we have up until now met with an immovable roadblock, in the form of the UN Charter. It is as hard to amend as a national constitution, or even harder. No significant amendment has ever been made, and no Charter Review Conference has even been called. After seventy years of fruitless effort, the world federalist movement has rather lost heart, and lowered its sights to objectives that do not require a change in the Charter. There we have had notable successes, in the Coalitions for the International Criminal Court, and for the Responsibility to Protect. But that does not solve the original problem.

Meanwhile, I believe the Europeans have shown us the way. In a step by step, evolutionary fashion they have gone from the original European Coal and Steel Community, to the European Economic Community, to the present European Union. They started with a smaller group of “progressive” states, and by means of successive treaties (Paris, Rome, Maastricht, etc.) they evolved to the present union of 28 nation-states. The EU is going through serious difficulties at present, but the major objective is already achieved: there will never again be a war between France and Germany.

How can we reproduce that success in the global arena? I would argue that the uniting the democracies route offers the best chance. Start with a smaller association of progressive states, and build from there in a stage by stage, evolutionary fashion, by means of successive international treaties as the members see fit, until we arrive at our eventual goal. The initial members should be democracies, because democracy must be a fundamental principle of any global parliament, to guard against tyranny and guarantee equal rights for all. The association should be open to new members, provided they satisfy suitable criteria such as democracy, so that over time it will grow to become universal.

The first step would seem to be the formation of a community on the European model, and hence we are led to propose a World Community of Democratic Nations (the pithier name Community of Democracies is already taken, unfortunately). I hope that most in our movement would see the logic in the argument so far. To help bring such a community into being, we are trying to form a Coalition of NGOs, following the successful tactical precedent set by WFM-IGP.

Now we come to what is likely to be a much more contentious issue, namely, what should be the basis or purpose of such a community? Ideally, it should be economic, and have a strong impact on the daily life of the community in order to attract new members, following the European model. But there seems little call at present for a community based on free trade, like the EEC. The world has been pursuing free trade agreements ever since World War II, and the last Doha Round ended in failure. At present, the nations are mostly pursuing bilateral rather than multilateral agreements. If anyone can think of a convincing case for an economic community, please let me know.

In my opinion, there is a much more obvious need for a community based on common security, a world security community of democracies. The US tried for a time recently to act as ‘global policeman’ on its own, and has had its fingers severely burnt in most cases. It led interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria which cost huge amounts of money and left chaos behind them, as witness the present maelstrom in the Middle East. It is now widely recognized, I think, that the US needs to work much more closely with its democratic friends and allies. Hence the formation of a security community made up of the democracies would be a natural next step. Such a community would provide a virtually unchallengeable guarantee of security for its members, and could also provide a strong right arm for the United Nations in security and peacekeeping missions in the wider world. Further discussion of this option can be found on the website.

Our next steps should be to see if we can recruit more NGOs to the cause, and also to think about trying to find any sort of financial backing.


NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.