Donnerstag, 25. November 2021

Upholding Freedom of Conscience and Belief

By René Wadlow

25 November is the date anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly resolution in 1981 to proclaim the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The Declaration is a development of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlighting freedom or thought, conscience, religion or belief. The 1981 Declaration is now recognized as articulating the fundamental right of freedom of conscience, religion, and belief.

Image WSUU.ORG

The efforts for such a U.N. declaration began in 1962. Two conventions were proposed by African States, many of whom had joined the U.N. after their 1960 independence. One convention was to deal with racism. Since racism in the minds of many delegates was largely limited to apartheid in South Africa, work on a racism convention progressed quickly and was adopted in 1965. Freedom of religion was more complex. The effort was led by Liberia, but ran into East-West Cold War devisions. Work on a convention was largely completed by 1967 when the Six Day War in the Middle East broke out, making religious issues all the more sensitive at the U.N.

One issue was that there was no agreed upon definition as to what is "religion", thus the longer term used of "thought, conscience, religion or belief".

Work was still slow. Thus, it was decided to change the proposal from a "Convention" which is a treaty which must be ratified by the parliament of the Member State to a "Declaration" which can be voted by the U.N. General Assembly. The second modification was to change the declaration from a positive one - "freedom of religion or belief" to a negative one "elimination of intolerance and discrimination" based on religion or belief.

Work on the Declaration had begun at the U.N. in New York. When the human rights bodies of the U.N. moved in 1977 to Geneva, a working group on the Declaration was set up in which representatives on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Association of World Citizens, were particularly active. By the summer of 1981, the drafting of the Declaration was complete. The text was sent on to the delegates in New York and was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on 25 November 1981.

After 1981, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (become since the Human Rights Council) created the post of Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion in 1985. The post continues today. The Declaration has given NGOs an agreed upon standard to which to hold governments. The 1981 Declaration cannot be implemented by U.N. bodies alone. Beginning with the shift of the U.N. human rights secretariat to Geneva and the closer cooperation with NGO representatives, the role of NGOs is more often written into U.N. human rights resolutions, calling on NGO cooperation, education and fact-finding. Thus in the 1981 Declaration there is a paragraph which "requests the Secretary-General in this context to invite interested non-governmental organizations to consider what further role they could envisage playing in the implementation of the Declaration."

Thus, the Association of World Citizens has continued to play an active role in the U.N. human rights bodies when the right of belief and conscience has been under attack in different parts of the world. Our policy has been to take a lead when a community under pressure was not part of an NGO in consultative status with representatives in Geneva who could speak for them. In practice, the World Council of Churches speaks for Protestant and to a lesser degree for the Orthodox Churches. The Vatican, which is considered a State, participates actively in human rights bodies and speaks for Roman Catholic churches. Thus, the Association of World Citizens has, in recent years, raised the issues of the Mandaeans, also known as Sabian Mandaeans, in Iraq, the Yazidi in Iraq and Syria, the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar (Burma), the Baha'i in Yemen after having raised starting in 1980 the persecution of the Baha'i in Iran. Starting in 1985, there being no active Buddhist organization active at the U.N. in Geneva at the time, we raised the condition of religious liberty of the Tibetans in Tibet. This was followed by presentations of the fate of the Falun Gong movement in China. They are basically Taoist but consider themselves as a separate movement or belief. There was no Taoist NGO at the U.N. that I knew of.

There is a worldwide erosion of the freedom of belief and conscience in many parts of the world causing large-scale suffering, grave injustice, and refugee flows. Belief and conscience are efforts on the part of individuals and communities to understand and to seek to live in harmony with the laws of Nature and often to communicate their understanding and devotion to others. The anniversary date of 25 November should be an opportunity to consider how to strengthen freedom of conscience and belief.

Note from the Mondialist:

The Global Assembly would also be a suitable system for this matter of humanity.


Sonntag, 21. November 2021

Wanderer, are you coming to Sparta ...

Before setting off for Sparta, the wanderer should first wander a little on the internet and see what Auntie Google has to say about it. There is a mythical story according to which in ancient times 300 elite idiots stood up to the army of Persian King Xerxes. They all became victims of their hubris. Of course, there is already a bloodthirsty Hollywood film about this, with the significant title "300" and an equally disgusting sequel.

Anyone who wants to become one of 300 Spartans today can do so without bloodshed, with a donation of 1000 dollars or euros a year to the World Federalist "Movement". An elite donors' club has been set up especially for this purpose, which is to be limited to 300 members. How anyone at WFM/IGP could come up with such a harebrained idea is beyond me.

Screenshot Spaghetti Image

WFM/IGP advertises the "Spartans" on Facebook. A group photo is published to give the impression of seriousness. Does WFM/IGP need this? The founding members are certainly not. I asked on the page who they are and what they have to do with the World Federalists. There was no answer. So I looked them up myself and found that they are advertisements for a legal advice platform from the United Arab Emirates.

Actually, I wanted to join WFM/IGP as an individual member and would have chosen the Gold contribution option. However, my application to join has failed so far because I do not have a credit card. After all the points worthy of criticism that I have accumulated about the association to date, I would say: Fortunately. I also have strong doubts that the "Spartans" will ever reach 300 in this way.

Meanwhile, WFM/IGP presents a "Strategic Plan". A look into cloud cuckoo land: A great strategy plan. I have read it. Unfortunately, it's all wishful thinking. WFM/IGP lack the competent workforce and the necessary resources to implement it. And they won't get them with hare-brained ideas, frothy talk and other silliness. I have removed the club from my recommendations of relevant organisations.


Donnerstag, 18. November 2021

A Voice for Mankind – Global Assembly

Giving humanity a voice in global affairs by creating a democratic World Parliament is a central demand of the World Federalists. The annual Week for World Parliament should make this known to the public. Unfortunately, the World Federalists have had only limited success with this so far. This lack of visibility may not least be due to the fact that the World Federalist scene is too weak.

It is a bitter experience for them that the desired democratisation oft he UN will not take place for the time being. It is also a bitter experience for civil society as a whole to have been marginalised at the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow. The sovereign member states of the United Nations do not let NGOs tell them what to do. Protests are irrelevant. If civil society is disruptive, it must stay outside.

Of course, this is not an acceptable state of affairs. The criticism of this is unmistakable and justified. See also the blog post at Democracy Without Borders. But unfortunately, this cannot be changed at present, because civil society organisations do not yet have the necessary support among the peoples of the world. This will change dramatically in the coming decades as the pressure of world problems continues to increase. How this will happen, whether peacefully with democracy or unpeacefully with violence, is unforeseeable.



But let's stay in the present for a bit. DWB's blog post linked above reports:

In order to provide citizens’ input to COP, a group of civil society organizations organizend the first-ever “Global Citizens’ Assembly” on the sidelines of the climate conference and received praise from the UN Secretary-General and others. While this exercise has given a voice to ordinary people, it seems doubtful that it had an impact on the negotiations.
Of course it is doubtful. Even if it has met with sympathy within the UN system, why should this Global Citizens' Assembly be any different from the rest of civil society? But what seems to be overlooked here is that this is the Voice of Mankind. It is still very weak and limited to the issue of COP26 for now, but it is the voice that We The Peoples and many others have been calling for a long time.

Here, however, there is not only demand, but also action. However, the Global Assembly's strategy deviates from the pure doctrine of democracy, which would hardly be enforceable even at the global level. This may be disconcerting at first, but it has clear advantages. There is no need to hold costly and complicated global elections, with prior campaigning and selection of candidates. The delegates to the Global Citizens' Assembly are drawn by lot from the participants of the Global Community Assemblies worldwide according to a fixed key.

It is assumed that basically all World Citizens active in this way are qualified to represent humanity in the Global Assembly. No party-political rifts can then arise there. The Global Assembly will be a representative reflection of humanity and not of power structures. The Global Community Assemblies, in which every human being can participate, are the basis of this system and guarantee its legitimacy.

The vision is to create a permanent Global Citizens' Assembly with more than 10 million participants annually by 2030, which will improve our ability to tackle global problems such as climate change, health and inequality, and which will be recognised by more than 50% of the world's population. This Global Citizens' Assembly will then be represented by 1000 delegates who will, of course, make their decision democratically rather than by drawing lots.

This would then be the world parliament desired by all serious World Citizens and World Federalists, a parliament of humanity. Such a global people's power could no longer be marginalised by the UN member states and would have the best chances of getting a permanent place in the United Nations system. With the help of this World Parliament, the United Nations could finally save humanity from the scourge of war, solve global problems peacefully and justly and develop further into a federal World Union.

My current questions to the World Federalists are therefore: Do you have the strength to take a closer look at this new initiative? Can you imagine adapting your perspectives and strategies accordingly and perhaps contributing something to improve the idea? Or do you want to continue to tread water? My question to civil society organisations in general is: How much longer are you going to waste your energy protesting in the streets?

The future success of the Global Assembly as the Voice of Mankind undoubtedly depends on building a stable base of as many Global Communitiy Assemblies as possible. And this calls for all those who really want to do something for a better world and not just dream about it.


Samstag, 6. November 2021

Was Albert Camus a World Federalist?

It is not uncommon to find references to Albert Camus on the pages of World Citizens' groups and World Federalists, where he is often portrayed as a prominent proponent of their views and goals. I take the opportunity of René Wadlow's biographical article on Albert Camus, published on 1 November by TRANSCEND, to set the record straight from my point of view.

Camus was without doubt a World Citizen, a philosophical cosmopolitan who seemed to despair of the madness of the real world. His attitude was deeply humanistic, pacifist and imbued with the desire for social justice. Today, he could be classified as a democratic socialist with planetary consciousness. However, he did not have a concrete plan for a better world. Nor do I know that his writings had any effect in this direction.

As editor-in-chief of the underground leftist magazine Combat, which had fallen more and more into oblivion since the end of the war, he supported Garry Davis' actions in Paris in 1948. This was also a welcome opportunity for him to bring the magazine, as well as his writings, which were little known at the time, into the public conversation. Thus, what was read at the legendary "occupation" of the UN General Assembly was the "Declaration of Oran" from his novel "The Plague".

After Garry Davis left Paris, and long before the French World Citizens finally parted company with Davis, Camus no longer had any points of contact with the World Citizens Movement of the time. He had absolutely nothing to do with the World Passport business. From then on, Albert Camus devoted himself only to his work as a writer, for which he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.

The results of the International Congress of World Federalists held a year earlier in Montreux in 1948 were obviously not known to the Paris activists, including Camus and Davis, or they ignored them completely. Otherwise, a more intelligent address to the UN General Assembly could surely have been made at the time of the action.

Albert Camus did advocate a European Federation at an early stage and is said to have voiced the demand for a "United States of the World" among his many utopian wishes. However, this seems to me to be too meagre to recognise him as a serious World Federalist.

In his further literary work, all this was no longer an issue. I have read his biography, written by Iris Radisch. In it – as in Wikipedia – the cosmopolitan episode in Paris is not mentioned at all. That would certainly have been different if World Federalism had still had any meaning for Albert Camus until his tragic death.


Freitag, 29. Oktober 2021

My Impressions of the Week for World Parliament

In directing this year's Week for World Parliament, Young World Federalists President Eston McKeague was not lacking in enthusiasm and goodwill. What was missing once again was significant commitment from the scene. And this despite intensive and timely mobilisation attempts. Only 17 events were announced worldwide. With almost 200 supposed supporter organisations of "We the Peoples", that is a poor showing.

In the whole of North America, there was only one event: a Citizens for Global Solutions "demonstration" in Cincinnati, with seven participants and the usual naive slogan "World Parliament Now" from the photocopier. You can't take something like that seriously. The Young World Federalists "movement" did not distinguish itself by above-average participation either. Nothing was heard from the full-bodied founders from Australia. As it was, most of the work hung on the president of the YWF.

The discussions and interviews on the internet were quite nice chats between like-minded people, but hardly innovative, rather frustrating. The final discussion on the last day also showed no practical perspectives. The makers of the announced voting platform seem to be treading water with their project. They will lack voters. The echoing of Russian state propaganda by Roger Kotila did not exactly contribute to the seriousness of the round either. During the programme, the number of viewers fluctuated between 1 and 6. The video on YouTube has had just under 100 views and 18 likes, no comments. One can also assume that very few of the 100 users have watched the entire programme, otherwise there would certainly have been some comments.

The "Open Letter" to the "Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the United Nations General Assembly and all Member States of the United Nations" is supported by 22 groups and just over 150 individuals. This is unlikely to be the necessary power to effectively make this demand for a World Parliament. The organisers of the week have not managed to leave their lonely internet bubble. The action has virtually no public resonance. Nor is there any relevant impetus here for a future World Parliament. This requires more than repeating unrealistic demands.

Postscript 19.11.21:

This frothing at the mouth of the Young World Federalists can hardly be topped.


Sonntag, 24. Oktober 2021

Global Assembly – Democracy or Lottocracy?

A contribution to the Week for World Parliament on United Nations Day

In the previous article, I justified my scepticism about the call for a "parliament of humanity democratically elected by all people on this planet". Moreover, one must also consider fundamental problems, because democracy is not a law of nature. Nevertheless, I consider a democratic World Parliament indispensable for a good future of humanity.

The only question is how to start. The direct route via a reform of the United Nations does not seem possible at present. The concept of a Parliamentary Assembly receives too little attention there. The democratisation of the UN must wait. So it is time to look for other ways, and time is pressing.

Under the impression of this urgency, a "Global Assembly" has been formed, which will become active for the first time on the occasion of the UN Climate Conference COP26 to be held in Glasgow at the beginning of September. I will not elaborate on the matter here, but encourage all World Citizens to peruse the Global Assembly website at their leisure.

Remarkably, this initiative is receiving international financial support. According to The Guardian, almost 1 million USD was raised. UN Secretary General António Guterres also supports it. This fits very well with what he wrote in his report on the involvement of civil society.

What is special about the concept of the Global Assembly is the selection of the delegates to the Global Citizens' Assembly COP26. They were not elected, but drawn by lot from the participants of local assemblies. This kind of selection is also called "Lottocracy". The discussion about this is not new. One only needs to google to learn more about it.

It is important to note that this is not meant to be an alternative to democracy, but a method of getting around the problems and contradictions of democracy. It is meant to facilitate and complement democracy. How this works in practice can be seen from now on in the example of the Global Assembly. It is thus also a great experiment.

As an advocate of a World Parliament, I see here a model to start with its realisation. We should no longer wait for the UN, but show the world that this is possible and what advantages it can bring for humanity. With democratic lottocracy, this will be much easier. So no more just demanding, but doing!

I can well imagine that the Global Assembly itself will become the precursor of a democratic World Parliament. And if the experiment succeeds, more relevant civil society organisations join it and the base of active World Citizens around the globe grows, then it will be that.

Forbes:

Global Citizens’ Assemblies: A Bold Idea That Needs Our Support!