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René Wadlow

Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
Editor of "Transnational Perspectives"
Elected Delegate at the People's Congress

Albert Camus at 100: Stoic Humanist and World Citizen

Albert Camus (1913-1960) would have been 100 this November had he lived beyond the car crash which took his life in 1960. Camus, who had been the youngest writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, had chaired the committee of support for Garry Davis’ world citizen efforts in Paris and had contributed his writing skills to the statement which Garry Davis and Robert Sarrazac read when interrupting a session of the UN General Assembly meeting in Paris in 1948. Thus it is fitting that a “coffee table” book with extensive photos of Camus be published to mark the 100 birth anniversary under the title Albert Camus: World Citizen. (1)

In 1948, he was still a highly regarded editorial writer for Combat, which began as a clandestine newspaper in 1941 when France was partly occupied by the Nazi troops, and half of France was under the control of the anti-democratic regime of Vichy. Although the Germans occupied Paris, they allowed publishing, theatre and films to continue if the German censors found nothing too overtly oppositional in them. Thus, Camus’ novel L’Etranger (The Stranger) was published in 1942 by the leading publisher, Gallimard. This short novel is written in a way which owes something to the early style of Hemingway. L’Etranger is a cry of revolt against man-made standards of absolute morality — a theme he develops more fully in his political-philosophical book on the use of violence L’Homme révolté (1951) translated as The Rebel. (2). As he said in his acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Stockholm “the nobility of our calling will always be rooted in two commitments: refusal to lie about what we know and resistance to oppression.”

Camus was born in Algeria, the son of a French father who was killed in the First World War when Albert was only one year old and an illiterate Spanish mother who raised him while working as a cleaning woman. Camus was intellectually stimulated by his father’s brother who read books of philosophy and was active in the local Masonic lodge. Camus’ intelligence was spotted by a secondary school teacher who helped him get a scholarship to the University of Algiers where he studied history and philosophy, writing a master’s thesis comparing the Gnostic ideas of Plotinius and the Christian ideas of St. Augustine.

Camus was faithful to his Mediterranean roots, and his thinking is largely that of the classic Greek and Roman Stoics, the first to call themselves “citizens of the world.”

Camus is the champion of the “now” rather than the “later.” He is critical of Christian thought which he interprets as “putting up with the injustice of the now in order to be rewarded in heaven later,” along the lines of the satirical song based on a Salvation Army hymn “there will be pie in the sky by and by.” He was particularly opposed to the “Christian” policy of Franco’s Spanish government, and had been strongly influenced by the struggle of Republican Spain and the Spanish civil war writings of André Malraux.

The same refusal to sacrifice the present for a potentially better future made him a strong opponent of the Stalinist Soviet Union. For Camus, there was no difference between dying in a Soviet camp and dying in a Nazi camp. We should be neither executioners nor victims (the title of one of his most quoted essays.)

Camus is perhaps more memorable as a great journalist and an editorialist than as a novelist. He had put his reputation on the line in defense of Garry Davis, even being put in jail for a short time for having joined Davis in a street protest in front of a Paris prison where Davis was protesting the conviction of a young man who had refused military service — a man working to “satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart.”

As Camus expressed his world citizen ethos at the end of The Rebel, “The earth remains our first and last love. Our brothers are breathing under the same sky as we; justice is a living thing. Now is born that strange joy which helps one live and die, and which we shall never again postpone to a later time.”

Notes :
  • Sophie Doudet et al. Albert Camus : Citoyen du Monde (Paris : Gallimard, 2013, 208pp.)
  • Albert Camus. The Rebel (New York : Vintage Books, 1956, 306pp.)

Syria, Chemical Weapons Use and the Need for Negotiated Peace Efforts, by Rene Wadlow

The vote in the British Parliament against a punitive strike at the Syrian government, President Obama’s decision to consult Congress after it comes into session, the holding of the G20 Summit in St Petersburg, Russia, and a wide-spread desire on the part of many governments to be informed of the conclusions of the UN chemical weapons experts who had been in Syria — all has slowed a “rush to war”. The time gained must be used wisely to create a renewed negotiated peace effort. There are at least two major elements to such a renewed peace effort.

The first element is the regional dimension — bringing together the major external powers which have an influence and an interest in the Syrian conflict. This effort is being called “Geneva II” after a 30 June 2012 “Geneva I” meeting which reached a broad agreement among Russia and the USA on an orderly transition of power within Syria — although the fate of President Assad was left vague.

“Geneva II” needs to bring into negotiation all the regional States as well as the “Great Powers”: Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon as well as the USA, Russia, France and England. Egypt would be a logical participant were it to have a stable government by then.

The second element — but which may be the most important — is good faith negotiations among the current administration of Syria, the armed opposition movements, and as representative-as-possible non-armed political currents within Syria. Since many of these factions are not speaking to each other and often have contested or unclear leadership, there are, no doubt, preliminary efforts needed before large-scale negotiations among Syrians can be carried out. Such preliminary efforts can be encouraged by non-Syrian organizations and various forms of Track II diplomacy. The United Nations Secretariat also has a role to play here.

Has the time for negotiations passed? It is certain that issues of greater social, political and economic participation by more segments of the Syrian society could have been discussed at the start of the then non-violent protests in March 2011. However, at that time, neither the government nor the different strands of the opposition moved to set an agenda on issues on which negotiations were possible or a realistic timetable for such negotiations.

Today, is the only realistic possibility a “Yemen option” in which the president leaves the country and a transition coalition is formed? There is no evidence that President Bashar al-Assad plans to leave or that he can be pushed out. In fact, the Syrian government refuses to recognize the domestic roots of the conflict and places all the blame for the escalation of violence on foreign countries — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. In such a stalemated situation, can President al-Assad, very late in the day, still undertake negotiations with the opposition that would insure his continued role as President while at the same time undertake reforms that would permanently modify the socio-political structures of the country in order to give greater roles to other social classes, ethnicities, and religious identities than at present. The al-Assad government will have to recognize that one-family rule with narrow sectarian support is no longer possible and that its opponents have real grievances. The oppositions need to drop its insistence that there can be no talks until the government resigns and leaves the country.

It is to be hoped that all the parties may prefer a negotiated settlement rather than the current stalemate of each trying to dominate the other. A start would be to set an agenda of issues to be negotiated between the oppositions and the government.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria by whatever forces in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol has focused world attention on the conflict in Syria. The first reaction “to bomb Syria even if it is illegal” has fortunately slowed down and given cooler heads a chance to weigh the more adequate measures to be taken. Awareness of the dangers of the current situation in terms of lives lost, refugee flows, negative impacts on neighbouring countries and a permanent fracturing of Syrian society is growing. The Syrian challenge calls for creative responses. The common theme must be on the duty of all parties to start negotiations in good faith.

Garry Davis: « And Now the People Have The Floor »

Garry Davis, who died 24 July 2013, in Burlington, Vermont, was often called “World Citizen N°1”. The title was not strictly exact as the organized world citizen movement began in England in 1937 by Hugh J. Shonfield and his Commonwealth of World Citizens, followed in 1938 by the creation jointly in the USA and England of the World Citizen Association. However, it was Garry Davis in Paris in 1948-1949 who reached a wide public and popularized the term “world citizen”.

Garry Davis was the start of what I call “the second wave of world citizen action”. The first wave was in 1937-1940 as an effort to counter the narrow nationalism represented by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and militaristic Japan. This first world citizen wave of action did not prevent the Second World War, but it did highlight the need for a wider cosmopolitan vision. Henri Bonnet of the League of Nations’ Committee for Intellectual Co-operation and founder of the US branch of the World Citizen Association became an intellectual leader of the Free French Movement of De Gaulle in London during the War. Bonnet was a leader in the founding of UNESCO — the reason it is located in Paris — and UNESCO’s emphasis on understanding among cultures.

The Second Wave of world citizen action in which Garry Davis was a key figure lasted from 1948 to 1950 — until the start of the war in Korea and the visible start of the Cold War, although, in reality, the Cold War began in 1945 when it became obvious that Germany and Japan would be defeated. The victorious Great Powers began moving to solidify their positions. The Cold War lasted from 1945 until 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union. During the 1950-1991 period, most world citizen activity was devoted to preventing a war between the USA and the USSR, working largely within other arms control/disarmament associations and not under a “world citizen flag.”

The Third Wave of world citizen action began in 1991 with the end of the Cold War and the rise again of narrow nationalist movements as seen in the break up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The Association of World Citizens with its emphasis on conflict resolution, human rights, ecologically-sound development, and understanding among cultures is the moving force of this Third Wave.

The two-year Second Wave was an effort to prevent the Cold War which might have become a hot World War Three. In 1948, the Communist Party took over Czechoslovakia, in what the West called a “coup”, more accurately a cynical manipulation of politics. The coup was the first example of a post-1945 change in the East-West balance of power and started speculation on other possible changes as in French Indochina or in 1950 in Korea. 1948 was also the year that the UN General Assembly was meeting in Paris. The United Nations did not yet have a permanent headquarters in New York, so the General Assembly first met in London and later in Paris. All eyes, especially those of the media, were fixed on the UN. No one was sure what the UN would become, if it would be able to settle the growing political challenges or “go the way of the League of Nations”.

Garry Davis, born in 1921, was a young Broadway actor in New York prior to the entry of the US in the World War in 1941. Garry Davis was a son of Meyer Davis, a well-known popular band leader who often performed at society balls and was well known in the New York-based entertainment world. Thus it was fairly natural that his son would enter the entertainment world, as a “song and dance” actor in the musical comedies of those days. Garry had studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, a leading technology institution.

When the US entered the war, Garry joined the Army Air Force and became a bomber pilot of the B-17, stationed in England with a mission to bomb targets in Germany. Garry’s brother had been killed in the Allied invasion of Italy, and there was an aspect of revenge in bombing German military targets until he was ordered to bomb German cities in which there were civilians.

At the end of the War and back as an actor in New York, he felt a personal responsibility toward helping to create a peaceful world and became active with world federalists who were proposing the creation of a world federation with powers to prevent war, largely based on the US experience of moving from a highly decentralized government under the Articles of Confederation to the more centralized Federal Government structured by the Constitution.

At the time, Garry had read a popular book among federalists, The Anatomy of Peace by the Hungarian-born Emery Reves. Reves had written “We must clarify principles and arrive at axiomatic definitions as to what causes war and what creates peace in human society.” If war was caused by a state-centric nationalism as Reves, who had observed closely the League of Nations, claimed, then peace requires a move away from nationalism. As Garry wrote in his autobiography My Country is the World (1) “In order to become a citizen of the entire world, to declare my prime allegiance to mankind, I would first have to renounce my United States nationality. I would secede from the old and declare the new”.

In May 1948, knowing that the UN General Assembly was to meet in Paris in September and earlier the founding meeting of the international world federalists was to be held in Luxembourg, he went to Paris. There he renounced his US citizenship and gave in his passport. However, he had no other identity credentials in a Europe where the police can stop you and demand that you provide identity papers. So he had printed a “United World Citizen International Identity Card” though the French authorities listed him as “Apatride d’origine americaine”. Paris after the War was filled with “apatride” but there was probably no other “d’origine americaine”

Giving up US citizenship and a passport which many of the refugees in Paris would have wanted at any price was widely reported in the press and brought him many visitors. Among the visitors was Robert Sarrazac who had been active in the French resistance and shared the same view of the destructive nature of narrow nationalism and the need to develop a world citizen ideology. Garry was also joined by the young Guy Marchand who would later play an important role in structuring the world citizen movement.

As the French police was not happy with people with no valid identity papers wondering around, Garry Davis moved to the large modern Palais de Chaillot with its terraces which had become “world territory” for the duration of the UN General Assembly. He set up a tent and waited to see what the UN would do to promote world citizenship. In the meantime; Robert Sarrazac who had many contacts from his resistance activities set up a “Conseil de Solidarite” formed of people admired for their independence of thought, not linked to a particular political party. The Conseil was led by Albert Camus, novelist and writer for newspapers, Andre Breton, the Surrealist poet, l’Abbé Pierre and Emmanuel Mounier, editor of Esprit, both Catholics of highly independent spirits as well as Henri Roser, a Protestant minister and secretary for French-speaking countries of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Davis and his advisors felt that world citizenship should not be left outside the General Assembly hall but had to be presented inside as a challenge to the ordinary way of doing things, “an interruption”. Thus, it was planned that Garry Davis from the visitors balcony would interrupt the UN proceedings to read a short text; Robert Sarrazac had the same speech in French, and Albert Crespey, son of a chief from Togo had his talk written out in his Togolese language.

In the break after a long Yugoslav intervention, Davis stood up. Father Montecland, “priest by day and world citizen by night” said in a booming voice “And now the people have the floor!” Davis said “Mr Chairman and delegates: I interrupt in the name of the people of the world not represented here. Though my words may be unheeded, our common need for world law and order can no longer be disregarded.” After this, the security guards moved in, but Robert Sarrazac on the other side of the Visitors Gallery continued in French, followed by a plea for human rights in Togolese. Later, near the end of the UN Assembly in Paris, the General Assembly adopted without an opposition vote, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which became the foundation of world citizens’ efforts to advance world law.

Dr Herbert Evatt of Australia was the President of the UN General Assembly in 1948. He was an internationalist who had worked during the San Francisco Conference creating the UN to limit the powers of the Permanent Five of the Security Council. Evatt met with Davis a few days after the “interruption” and encouraged Davis to continue to work for world citizenship, even if disrupting UN meetings was not the best way.

Shortly after highlighting world citizenship at the UN, Garry Davis went to the support of Jean Moreau, a young French world citizen and active Catholic, who as a conscientious objector to military service, had been imprisoned in Paris as there was no law on alternative service in France at the time. Davis camped in front of the door of the military prison at the Rue du Cherche Midi in central Paris. As Davis wrote “When it is clearly seen that citizens of other nations are willing to suffer for a man born in France claiming the moral right to work for and love his fellow man rather than be trained in killing him, as Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Tolstoy, St Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and other great thinkers and religious leaders have taught, the world may begin to understand that the conscience of Man itself rises above all artificially-created divisions and fears.” (2). Others joined Davis in camping on the street. Garry Davis worked closely on this case with Henri Roser and Andre Trocme of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Davis was put in jail for camping on the city street and also for not having valid identification documents, but his place on the street was filled with others, including a German pacifist, an act of courage so soon after the end of the War. It took another decade before alternative service in France was put into place, but Davis’ action had led to the issue being widely raised in France, and the link between world citizenship and non-violent action clearly drawn.

Garry Davis was never an “organizational man”. He saw himself as a symbol in action. After a year in France with short periods in Germany, he decided in July 1949 to return to the US. As he wrote at the time “I have often said that it is not my intention to head a movement or to become president of an organization. In all honesty and sincerity, I must define the limit of my abilities as being a witness to the principle of world unity, defending to the limit of my ability the Oneness of man and his immense possibilities on our planet Earth, and fighting the fears and hatreds created artificially to perpetuate narrow and obsolete divisions which lead and have always led to armed conflict.”

Perhaps by the working of karma, on the ship taking him to the USA, he met Dr. P. Natarajan, a south Indian religious teacher in the Upanishadic tradition. Natarajan had lived in Geneva and Paris and had a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Paris. He and Davis became close friends, and Davis spent some time in India at the center created by Natarajan who stressed the development of the inner life. “Meditation consists of bringing all values inside yourself” was a motto of Natarajan.

It was at the home of Harry Jakobsen, a follower of Natarajan, on Schooly Mountain, New Jersey that I first met Garry Davis in the early 1950s. I was also interested in Indian philosophy, and someone put me in contact with Jakobsen. However, I had joined what was then the Student World Federalists in 1951 so I knew of the Paris adventures of Garry. We have since seen each other in Geneva, France and the US from time to time.

Some world federalists and world citizens thought that his renunciation of US citizenship in 1948 confused people. The more organization-minded world federalists preferred to stress that one can be a good citizen of a local community, a national state as well as a world citizen. However Davis’ and my common interest in Asian thought was always a bond beyond any tactical disagreements.

Today, it is appropriate to cite the oft-used Indian image of the wave as an aspect of the one eternal ocean of energy. Each individual is both an individual wave and at the same time part of the impersonal source from which all comes and returns. Garry Davis as a wave has now returned to the broader ocean. He leaves us a continuing challenge writing “There is vital need now for wise and practical leadership, and the symbols, useful up to a point, must now give way to the men qualified for such leadership.”


1) Garry Davis. My Country is the World (London: Macdonald Publishers, 1962)
2) Garry Davis.Over to Pacifism:A Peace News Pamphlet (London: Peace News, 1949)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Sri Lanka: Four Years after the war’s end, little reconciliation, few creative changes

On 19 May 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka proclaimed an end to the fighting against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan (LTTE) led by Veluppilai Pirabhakaran. At one point, the LTTE controlled a quarter of Sri Lanka’s territory as they pressed their campaign for an independent state for the country’s Tamil minority.

The start of the armed conflict in 1983 provoked the concern and then the intervention of the Government of India concerned with regional security and the impact of the violence on its own Tamil population in Tamil Nadu, south India. In 1987, there was an agreement between the Governments of Sri Lanka and India for a decentralization of authority by the creation of provincial councils and the deployment of an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to enforce a ceasefire.

A 13th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution providing for the establishment of provincial councils was passed by the Parliament. Unfortunately, these councils never became functional. The Indian Peace Keeping Force had no peace to keep and became an agent of political discord and a target of violence. In 1990, the last of the IPKF was withdrawn. In 1991, the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a LTTE supporter, and the Indian government ceased to play a visible role in the Sri Lankan conflict though India watched events closely.

International Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) quickly became concerned with the conflict in Sri Lanka. They organized conferences and made suggestions for changes. NGOs proposed their services as mediators. One of the first high-level seminars was organized in October 1986 in Oslo, Norway by the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) which led, a good deal later, to direct mediation efforts by the Government of Norway. Norway had been involved in aid projects in Sri Lanka from the 1950s and so there was a history of experience and trust. However, in the end, the efforts of the Government of Norway did not produce negotiations in good faith.

I had also been involved as the representative of Peace Brigades International (PBI) in negotiating with the Sri Lanka Government representatives at the UN, Geneva, for the sending of a PBI team to Sri Lanka to undertake non-violent protection of organizations working for peace. However, due to Government restrictions and death threats, the PBI team was withdrawn.

Since the armed conflict had a certain religious colouring, the Tamils being largely Hindus, the majority Sinhalese, Buddhists, and a small but geographically-compact population of Muslims, religious organizations, both national and international, tried to play a role as mediators or at least, proposed possible measures for negotiations.

In the end, no offer of compromise was ever enough, and all forms of moderation were seen as betrayal. The war continued with the last months being particularly destructive. The psychological wounds are deep, and the healing of individual traumas with psycho-spiritual techniques remains a real priority, for the sufferings of the war may sow the seeds of future unrest and a desire for revenge.

At the end of the armed conflict in 2009, the Citizens of the World again proposed federal structures of government as a way of respecting differences in a pluralistic society while providing the possibilities of joint action. There is a need to develop government structures in which all citizens feel that they belong and that their interests are safeguarded.

I have not been to Sri Lanka since the end of the fighting so that my impressions come only from contacts in Geneva and correspondence with people in Sri Lanka. My impression is that there is little spirit of reconciliation. However, there is a realization that violence does not bring reforms. There does not seem to have been creative changes in the structure of government or effective measures to develop popular participation in government. But, obviously, there are on-the-ground observers who may see positive processes that I do not see from a distance.

The Citizens of the World continue to call for creative responses in Sri Lanka from a population that has much suffered but which has real intellectual and spiritual resources.


Year of Water Cooperation

World Citizens highlight 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation and will promote the ratifications of the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses

The United Nations General Assembly by Resolution A/RES/65/154 has declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation with UNESCO as the lead agency for the Year. The objective of this International Year is to raise awareness both on the potential for increased cooperation and on the challenges facing water management in the light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services. The importance of water will grow given changing climatic conditions and rising demand.

How we manage and care for water raises issues of justice, power and forms of cooperation and conflict resolution. The way we manage freshwater for growing food, meeting household needs, transporting goods are complex issues raising concerns of control of existing patterns and possible alternatives.

As David L. Feldman in his recent overview Water underlines that “First, the world’s freshwater is unevenly distributed and unequally used. Growing demands and factors such as climate change will likely worsen this unevenness and inequality. Second, threats to freshwater quality continue to diminish its usability and endanger public health. Third, competition over freshwater is growing because it is a resource increasingly subject to trans-boundary dispute, and increasingly an object of global trade. Finally, when demands for water exceed availability in a given locale, stress and conflict arise, including over proposed methods to make additional water available” (1)

The Association of World Citizens has in the past stressed the important role of trans-boundary river basins, including reservoirs of fresh water that move silently below the borders in underground aquifers. Since rivers flow through territories of different States, the quantitative and qualitative utilization of water in one State affects water use in another, downstream State.

Of the world’s 263 internationally-shared rivers, only 20 per cent are the subject of a substantial international agreement on issues of environmental protection, shared management or water allocation. Thus, the Association of World Citizens will stress trans-frontier issues as trans-frontier challenges are a possibility for both increased cooperation or conflict. If we look at the Nile basin we see that ten countries — Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda — share the Nile River which provides fresh water to some 160 million people. While there is some cooperation on water use among these states in the spirit of “One Nile, One Basin and One Vision”, there are also strong conflicts among some of these states, often not directly related to water use but which influences the possibility of water-use agreements.

Freshwater use can be a source of tensions and disputes among States. Therefore international legal instruments are crucial to govern and promote the cooperative and fair management of trans-national watercourses. The United Nations in 1997 proposed the UN Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, a first world-wide effort to resolve the perpetual conflicts of interests over water use. The Convention is a framework agreement which aims to provide coherent policy guidance for the adoption and implementation of sound and comprehensive watercourse agreements. The Convention stresses the utilization of rivers in an “equitable and reasonable manner” taking into consideration the geographic, hydrographic and ecological factors of a national character, as well as the social and economic needs of the watercourse States concerned. In addition, the Convention underscores that the interests of all populations dependent on a watercourse be respected and supported by all possible means.

Solid river-basin-wide cooperation requires the unanimous commitment to the principle of equitable utilization of watercourses enshrined in the Convention and the subsequent participation in the benefits derived from the water by all communities sharing the basin.

During 2013, the International Year of Water Cooperation, the Association of World Citizens will promote the ratification of the 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses. Only 16 UN-member States have as of the start of 2013 ratified or acceded to the Convention, 19 short of the required 35 States for its entry into force.

There are debates and conflict both at the national and at the trans-national levels concerning water use. At the national level, there are debates concerning the use of water in urban areas and water for irrigation within rural areas. The main causes of urban water conflicts are characterized by complex socio-economic and institutional issues related to urban water management. The debates about public water services versus private water suppliers are frequently associated with conflicts over water price and affordability. Likewise, the issue of centralization verses decentralization of water utilities is also discussed in the framework of institutional aspects of urban water management. A critical and interdisciplinary examination of the socio-economic and institutional aspects of national water management is important and one in which both government and civil society needs to be involved.

However, it is on trans-frontier cooperation that the Association of World Citizens will put its emphasis as the dangers of trans-boundary conflicts over water use, the creation of dams, and modification of river courses are real world issues in which world citizens have a role to play.

World Citizens in the past have stressed the creation of supra-national structures to handle water affairs among riparian States, based on the delegation of authority and responsibility by State parties to a body formed by their mutual and collective agreement and which views the region as one planning unit.

In one of the early presentations of world citizen proposals on economic issues, Stringfellow Barr called attention to the multi-purpose efforts of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for water management, farming and industrial development. Citizens of the World (New York: Doubleday, 1952, 285pp.). Barr cited Herman Finer’s analysis The TVA: Lessons for International Application published by the ILO then displaced from Geneva by the Second World War. (Montreal: International Labour Office, 1944). The TVA was proposed as a possible model for an Indus River Valley Authority and a Jordan Valley Authority.

Inter-governmental consensus and willingness to cooperate is crucial to watershed management. However, the implementation of watershed management actions must be undertaken at the local level by local governments and communities. Issues related to watershed management needs cooperation at the regional, national and local levels. 2013 should provide a favourable framework for the study of river systems and to add the necessary ratifications to the UN Convention.


(1)David L. Feldman. Water (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012)

The Association of World Citizens Promotes Knowledge and Skills for World Citizenship

The Association of World Citizens stresses that our oneness with humanity and our acceptance of the whole planet as our home involves a process of change both in the attitudes of individuals and in the policies of States. Humanity is clearly moving towards participation in the emerging World Society. An awareness of the emerging World Society and preparation for full and active participation in the emerging World Society is a necessary element of education at all levels, from primary schools, through university and adult education.

The Association of World Citizenship stresses that a World Citizens is one:

Aware of the wider world and has a sense of his role as a world citizen;

  • respects and values diversity;
  • has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally;
  • is outraged by social injustice;
  • is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place;
  • participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global.

The Association of World Citizens believes that World Citizenship is based on rights, responsibility and action.

The rights and freedoms are set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. These UN-sponsored human rights treaties are the basis of world law which deals directly with individuals and not just with States.

In most cases, there are procedures that exist for the redress of violations of these rights at the national, regional, and UN levels. These rights should enable all persons to participate effectively in national, regional and the world society.

The idea of responsibility has been often discussed within the United Nations, but it has been impossible to set out agreed-upon obligations. Rather, a sense of responsibility toward the Planet and toward others is left to the individual’s conscience and moral sense. Nevertheless, a sense of responsibility, an ethical concern for social justice, and the dignity of humanity is central to the values of a world citizen.

Action is at the heart of the attitude of a vibrant world citizen. Action must be based on three pillars: knowledge, analysis and skills.

Knowledge: Background knowledge, a sense of modern history, of world trends, and issues of ecologically-sound development is fundamental. As one can never know everything about issues that require action, one needs to know where to find information and to evaluate its quality for the actions one wants to undertake.

Analysis: It is important to be able to analyse current trends and events, to place events in their context, to understand the power relations expressed in an event. One needs to try to understand if an event is a “one-time only” occurrence or if it is part of a series, an on-going process, if it is a local event or if it is likely to happen in other parts of the world as well.

Analysis is closely related to motivation. If from one’s analysis, one sees a possibility for creative action alone or with others, one will often act. If from analysis, it seems that little can be done as an individual, then one can urge a government to act. The degree of personal involvement will usually depend on the results of the analysis of a situation.

Skills: Political skills are needed to make an effective world citizen. A wide range of skills is useful such as negotiation, lobbying, networking, campaigning, letter writing, communications technology and preparing for demonstrations. These are all essential skills to join with others for a strong world citizen voice in world politics. Some of these skills can be taught by those having more experience, for experience is the best teacher. It is by networking to new individuals and groups that one learns the potentials and limits of networking.

In our period of rapid social and political change, the past cannot provide an accurate guide to the future. Anticipation and adaptability, foresight and flexibility, innovation and intuition, become increasingly essential tools for creative political action.


World Interfaith Harmony Week : Steps Toward A Harmony Renaissance

The Association of World Citizens, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations, cooperates fully with the UN-designated World Interfaith Harmony Week. The United Nations General Assembly on 20 October 2010, by resolution A/RES/65/PV.34 designated the first week of February of every year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.

The General Assembly building on its efforts for a culture of peace and non-violence, in which the Citizens of the World played an active part, wished to highlight the importance that mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue can play in developing a culture of peace and non-violence. The General Assembly Resolution recognized “the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.” The week has a potential to promote the healing of religion-based tensions in the world.

As the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote “At a time when the world is faced with many simultaneous problems — security, environmental, humanitarian, and economic — enhanced tolerance and understanding are fundamental for a resilient and vibrant international society. There is an imperative need, therefore, to further reaffirm and develop harmonious cooperation between the world’s different faiths and religions.

Rene Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens, in a statement addressed to the United Nations, stressed that peace comes through cooperation beyond the boundaries and barriers set by ethnicity, religion and nationality. He called for a cultural renaissance based on the concept of harmony. Rather than concentrating primarily on conflicts, struggles and suffering, he suggested that the focus should be on cooperation, coexistence and visions of a better future. Harmony includes tolerance, acceptance, equality and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts. Harmony leads to gentleness, patience, kindness and thus to inner peace and outward to relations based on respect.

The Association of World Citizens underlines that harmony is a universal common value. In harmony we can find true belief that transcends all cultures and religions. The meaning of life is to seek harmony within our inner self. Humans are born with a spiritual soul that develops to seek self-fulfilment. Our soul has a conscience that elevates us. As our soul grows to maturity, we achieve our own harmony.

However, harmony is not only a personal goal of inner peace but a guideline for political, social and world affairs. The Citizens of the World believe that specifically at this moment in history, our action should enhance peace, reduce conflict and activate a harmony culture. The 21st century is the beginning of a Harmony Renaissance. Our world mission is to be ready for humanity’s next creative wave to lead us to a higher level of common accomplishment. The World Harmony Renaissance will bring the whole world into action for this new millennium of peace and prosperity with unfettered collective energy.

Rene Wadlow in his message to the United Nations underlined the strong contribution that Chinese culture could play in the creation of this harmonious culture. He called attention to an earlier period in Chinese thought when there was an important Harmony Renaissance. This was during the Sung dynasty (960-1279) which reunited China after a period of division and confusion. This was a period of interest in science — “the extension of knowledge through the investigation of things”. It was a period when there was a conscious effort to bring together into a harmonious framework currents of thought that existed in China but often as separate and sometimes hostile schools of thought: Confucianism, Buddhism, philosophical Daoism and religious Daoism. These efforts were called Tao hsuch — the Study of the Tao — an effort later called by Western scholars as “Neo-Confucianism”.

Chou Tun-yi (1017-1073), often better known as the Master of Lien-his, was a leading figure in this effort. He developed a philosophy based on the alternation of the Yin and Yang, each becoming the source of the other.

Thus today, after decades of conflict when the emphasis of the countries of the world both in policy and practice was upon competition, conflict and individual enrichment, there is a need for an emphasis on harmony, cooperation, mutual respect, and working for the welfare of the community with a respect for Nature. When one aspect, either Yin or Yang, becomes too dominant, then there needs to be a re-equilibrium.

Obviously, it takes time for a harmonious society at home and a harmonious world abroad to be put into place. The re-equilibrium of the energies of Yin and Yang do not take place overnight. Nor is this re-equilibrium only the task of the Chinese. The cultivation of harmony must become the operational goal for many. As Mencius (372-289 BCE) a follower of Confucius said “A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time.”

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is an opportunity to open new paths. Rene Wadlow in his message stressed that “as world citizens we must find a new guiding image for our culture, one that unifies the aspirations of humanity with the needs of the planet and the individual. We hold that peace can be achieved through opening our hearts and minds to a broader perspective. We are one human race, and we inhabit one world. Therefore we must see the world with global eyes, understand the world with a global mind and love the world with a global heart.”

René Wadlow


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