World Citizen Priorities
I am pleased to send you a message of good wishes that I sent to Prof Glen Martin, Secretary-General of the World Constitution and Parliament Association for their July meeting at a Sri Aurobindo centre in India.
Prof Glen Martin, Secretary-General
World Constitution and Parliament Association
I would like to send, through you, my best wishes for the session of the Parliament. I am sure that your meeting in a center devoted to meditation and spiritual progress will help provide the vision and inner calm needed to meet the challenges that humanity faces. As I am along with Jagdish Gandhi a member of the Executive Council of World Union, an organization inspired by the thought of Sri Aurobindo and housed at the Ashram in Pondicherry, I partage in many of the same concerns as you.
I recall having participated in November 1957 at the Shoreland Hotel near the University of Chicago, where I was a graduate student in International Relations, at the first meeting with Philip Iseley and Thane Read of the effort to revive the idea of a Constitutional Convention called by governments to draft a world constitution. When the governments failed to respond to the call for such a Convention, it fell to those of us who believed in the need for stronger world institutions to try to draft such a constitution, and the World Constitution and Parliament Association was born.
I had participated in a conference in Geneva in 1962 when the drafting began under the leadership of the Swiss international lawyer, Max Habicht, and I had organized a conference for WCPA at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies in Geneva where I taught in May 1967 where we reviewed our efforts in the light of the dangerous conflict in Indochina at the time.
I was in disagreement with the form that the draft of a world constitution was taking and have not signed the final document. Nevertheless, I have folllowed some of the activities of the WCPA and continued working closely with Max Habicht on federalist issues until his death.
For consideration by the Parliament, I see three world issues of growing importance where leadership by world citizens is required.
1) Nuclear-arms issues. Since the late 1980s when the danger of a USA-USSR war deminished, nuclear-arms issues had ceased to be a major issue of world diplomacy. For a number of reasons, nuclear arms and the possibility of nuclear-weapon free zones have again come to the fore.World citizens should present a coherent set of proposals at the May 2010 Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Since there are a number of organizations and research centers working on nuclear arms issues, cooperation with others will be important.
2) A World Food Policy. 2008 saw a number of international conferences sponsored by the UN and the FAO on the world food crisis in which proposals of the Association of World Citizens were presented. Although food issues have been overshadowed recently by financial issues and the general downturn of the world economy, food security remains a key issue. Food is an issue on which world citizens played an important role in the late 1940s and the 1950s. It is an issue where we can build on earlier efforts and provide a certain degree of leadership.
3) Migration Migration for economic and ecological reasons is increasing. There are also important refugee and internally displaced persons flows. Many countries are not prepared for migration on a large scale. Again, this is an issue on which world citizens should provide leadership.
Your action to help provide leadership on these world issues will be appreciated.
Again, with best wishes for the session,
Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN,
The reality of the Peoples Congress
From the beginning, the Brasilia meeting intends to discuss ALL issues considered as relevant to the participants, with the restriction of participation time of specially invited people that could not attend the whole event.
The decentralized, democratic vision of the Organising Committee planned to adjust details of the programme when all participants will be gathered.
As usual, no financial support to air tikets is offered to anybody.
I am writing this message as a personnal reaction to both Liliane / Daniel letters, with each suppport group/representation. In our opinion (the OC has shared this issue two weeks ago) the only REALITY of Peoples' Congress is the whole actions from its members, as well as our projects and future visions. Please visit our website www.cdpbrasilia2009.wordpress.com and let your comments and proposals there.
Another communication will be written when I translate and discuss this issue with my colleagues of the OC, in a consensual process as we are managing the different aspects of the Brasilia meeting.
I wish to remind you all that since the first invitation any participation shall be welcome if we receive recommendations and concrete proposals. No voice shall be excluded. Consensual processes will take place around different issues, affinity groups and any other criteria you may suggest. Nothing will prevent us to move forward in the construction of a more fair and sustainable world for all.
What the Peoples Congress is intending to do ?
Unfortunately, I am somewhat reluctant to come to Brazil unless I can first know what the Peoples Congress is intending to do afterwards and that we will begin to work seriously to achieve our agreed goals. If I know this, then it would seem to me to be worth the time and effort if those attending will agree to make a serious commitment to actually achieve the things that we say we will do. Otherwise, it might be better for me to wait and see what emerges from the meeting in Brazil before Idecide how much of a commitment I want and can make to the organizing effort.
When I first read through the materials and agenda for the Meeting I saw some very interesting topics of discussion; but nothing about how we are going to try to get the Peoples Congress going, to achieve our broader goals, or take effective action to make a difference on any of the topics being discussing. Did I miss something here? Will a significant amount of time be set aside to talk about and make plans for these types of things?
Currently, I am already serving on the Executive Committee for the World Alliance for Transforming the United Nations; and we have quite a number of projects underway with people working seriously on each of them and several big opportunities coming up. And I am on the ad-hoc organizing committee for the World Transforming Initiatives that is attempting to bring many of the leading civil society networks together to try to support one common agenda which can then be promoted and supported by as many of the world's people as possible. Right now this includes representatives of the Club of Rome, Alliance for a New Humanity, World Spirit Forum, Alliance for a Responsible Plural and United World, Earth Charter International, World Future Council, CONGO (UN NGOs with consultative status), etc.
I have been dedicating a lot of my time to these initiatives, which have somewhat similar strategies and goals as the Peoples Congress, and I am working on many other projects and initiatives as well. So I am somewhat hesitant to travel to Brazil unless I know that it will really be worthwhile.
I need to read through the materials that you have sent out again. However, in the meantime can you please tell me how many of the elected delegates have confirmed so far that they will be coming to Brazil; and how many you have received a response from in total?
Anyway, I remain committed to the goals that the Peoples Congress has agreed to; and whether I come to Brazil or not I can tell you that I will help with its development if it does begin to make significant progress towards achieving the agreed goals. Also, you mention that, "distance participation shall be promoted before, during and after the event, both through TV SUPREN, a television channel ran by Planetary Union (www.tvsupren.com.br) and a blog." If I am not able to come to Brasilia I would certainly like to participate by other means. Can you please tell me if you will be able to televise some of the event, if I can contribute to some of the sessions using skype, and respond to blog postings, etc?
Thank you for all of your work on this meeting and in general. Sincerely,
to develop a detailed agenda
I want to share some thoughts with you in preparation for the meeting in Brazil and about the overall purpose and workings of the Peoples Congress. First let me respond to the agenda for the meeting. If you want to adjust a detailed agenda in Brasilia, I think that would be fine. But to wait to develop a detailed agenda until everyone gets to Brasilia I think would be a major mistake - which was pretty much one of the same mistakes that was made in Liege. Liliane had suggested an agenda before we arrived but unfortunately shortly before the meeting; and then people wanted to change much of it and the end result was that we did not have a very productive meeting. We had many good discussions but did not complete a strong plan of action for how we would effectively continue our work. I am concerned that the same thing could happen again now.
I say this for several reasons. First, the topics that are listed present a very ambitious agenda. It is a lot to cover for a fairly small group of people in just a few days. Second I see very little time scheduled for how we are going to proceed with our work and activities; to discuss who will do what to coordinate and work on things; and to talk about how we are going to achieve our broader goals, etc. Third, I see very little time scheduled that focuses more specifically on our broader goals - that is creating an effective global rule of law; a world parliament; or getting millions of people to pay attention to, register, and support the Peoples Congress. These are all things that should be discussed and planned for before arriving in Brasilia.
Indeed one of the big challenges that we faced in Liege was what the relationship would be between the Registry and Congress, how funds could be raised and shared cooperatively between these two entities and organizing efforts and to fund the overall work, etc. This seems to me to be a central question that as far as I know has still not been dealt with. I am also not aware of what either the officers or executive committee has been doing to organize things since Liege, which is also a crucially important issue and question. If we are not able to establish a process for these committees or groups to operate effectively and to communicate effectively with the Peoples Congress as a whole, then it will be difficult for us to achieve success. I do not even know the relationship between the officers and the organizing committee that has been working on this meeting of the Peoples Congress.
We also talked in Liege about what to do with and about inactive members of the Peoples Congress; but I have seen no plans or discussion about what to do about this since then. If the Congress is going to be successful then we need to know who is planning to actively participate and ensure that we have enough people to successfully carry out the work, to make legitimate and good decisions, etc. It greatly concerns me that these things do not seem to have been discussed, and are still not being discussed, as we prepare for this new meeting. It seems to me that these things should have been worked out well before now and that they should be discussed between now and the meeting.
So, I would suggest that there are also a couple of other things that we should be thinking about and discussing now. First, how do we think that the Peoples Congress and our work should be any different from the hundreds of other civil society organizations and initiatives that are focusing on these very same issues. Certainly, we need to become something more than what the other organizing efforts are doing if it is going to be worth the effort to do the organizing work. Here are a couple of ideas about what this "something more" could be:
a) We could try to list many of the most promising initiatives and responses, proposed and worked on by others, for each of the primary topics or issue areas that we address on the Peoples Congress website. Then we could address each of these topic areas in general terms supporting a number of the proposals rather than any of them more specifically. However, we could then follow existing international and intergovernmental processes and give our input as to what we think should be done about them. In other words we would try to represent the opinions of civil society and the world's people on international and global issues that are currently being decided by governments and give our input as a part of the process. This would require making our interventions publicly known through mainstream and alternative media and attending intergovernmental processes and making official presentations on behalf of the People's Congress.
b) We could design the Peoples Congress website in such a way that we could welcome input from the world's people and civil society organizations on any topic that we might be addressing; and then we could try to sift through the different suggestions so as to be able to adequately represent the people. In short we would be acting as somewhat of a "shadow government or legislature" which is trying to come up with the best proposals for solving our global challenges and is welcoming the input of the people in doing this. If we would want to do this we could collaborate with the World Parliament Experiment, World Vote Now, and/or other internet based opinion and voting processes so that we could include Direct and Participatory means of democracy and decision making. In other words, the Peoples Congress could sort through the main proposals and ideas and try to come up with a number of good proposals for adequately dealing with key issue areas or global challenges; and then we could post the proposals on a website and let people vote on them. The voters could actually be people that would register as World Citizens. Then we could present the responses as a part of or our intervention in intergovernmental decisionmaking processes.
c) I think that one of our primary goals should be, and already seems to be, to promote and advance the establishment of a World Parliament and effective system of global governance and binding and enforceable international rule of law. We should thus make this a, if not the, primary focus of the Peoples Congress and of the meeting in Brasilia. I would suggest that there are several things that we could do in this regards. There are many proposals for achieving this that people are working on and there is a new World Democracy web portal focusing on this. We thus ought to collaborate with the Web Portal organizers and develop a listing of the different initiatives. The listing would describe the differences between the different proposals and initiatives and provide an analysis as to what each offers, how it could become successful, and how people can support it. One of these would obviously be the Peoples Congress itself; but then in addition there would be such initiatives as the UN Parliamentary Assembly; the World Alliance for Transforming the UN through a UN Charter Review Conference; Direct Democracy projects like the World Parliament Experiment; UBUNTU proposals for the In-Depth Reform of our International Institutions; the World Constitution and Parliament Association's Constitution for the Federation of the Earth; and quite a number of other intergovernmental and civil society processes focusing on strengthening our systems of global governance.
d) We need to focus specifically on how the Peoples Congress can become more of what it was intended and has always meant to be - an evolutionary step towards modeling and actually becoming a directly elected World Parliament answerable to and welcoming the input and participation of civil society and the world's people. The World Citizens Registry and voting process would be central to this. The next election is only a year and a half away now, so if we want to really model this, then we should be preparing to enroll as many people in the registry as possible, promote the candidates and election much more so than we have done in the past, and plan now for how we can best organize this and present ourselves as the model of an effective and democratically elected World Parliament that is truly representative of and welcomes the participation of the world's people. We should probably thus endeavor to have more equal balance among the various continents and regions of the world, become more multi-lingual, include gender equity, involve more youth and younger people, and try to make our presence known around the world.
Well I would like to know what the organizers of the meeting think of my concerns and suggestions and I would like to know what everyone else thinks about these things as well. Again, I think that we need to discuss and agree on what the relationship should be between the Registry and Peoples Congress and how they can work cooperatively together to promote and fund our shared purposes. We need to know which of the Peoples Congress Members is and intends to continue to be active and make sure that we have enough people in the Congress and ASCOP to carry out our activities effectively. We need to make sure that the Officers and Executive Committee are carrying out their work effectively and communicating adequately with the Congress. And we need to focus on how the things we decide to do during the meeting in Brazilia will contribute to the ongoing success and achieving the stated goals of the Congress.
Thanks again everyone for your commitment, interest, and hard work on organizing the meeting and conference.
Why the Peoples Congress
Thank you for your note and also for sending us the link to the article by Alfred Rodriguès-Brent. I very much appreciated the article and history; and I agree with pretty much everything he said. You may very well be right that there are those that will attempt to block any transformation of our international institutions and it might be very difficult to achieve. In fact the easiest way may indeed be to build new institutions alongside the old. However this does not mean that we should not continue to attempt to improve upon the old, particularly as the UN Member States have invested an incredible amount of time and effort into the existing system and are not too likely to want to replace it with anything else any time soon.
However, they can surely see that it is not nearly good enough as it is structured and operates today. Thus I have hope that we can demonstrate a better way of doing things and raise awareness about the improvements that are needed - which is a good part of the reasons that I have been working to strengthen and democratize the UN. There are actually quite a number of things that could be done to make the UN a much more effective organization without much trouble at all. Primarily the UN Member States would just need to agree to do them.
For example, the General Assembly could simply pass a resolution that it would negotiate agreements, treaties, and outcome documents using the original process found in the Charter of making important decisions with a 2/3rds vote and all others with a simple majority instead of by consensus. Or if they would prefer they could decide to use some type of a Binding Triad decision making process. Similarly, the General Assembly could simply pass a resolution stipulating that its decisions from now on will be binding and enforceable rather than advisory; and that all agreements will have to include sufficient means, mechanisms, and funding in order to achieve the agreed goals.
Meanwhile however I think that one of the best things that we could do would be to model what an adequate system of global governance and world law could actually achieve. I certainly agree that it would of course be best if any new institutions can be trans-national rather than supra-national. If you, or others, have not yet come across the writings of Andy Strauss and Richard Falk I would suggest you read them. They talk about how a new global parliament could be established alongside the existing system and initial be chartered with the participation of only a handful of states. I would suggest that this model could be very compatible with the further development of the Peoples Congress. However I think it would be well worth our while to consider and present many other possibilities and proposals as well.
To organize things as effectively as possible
Thank you for your response to my letter. While it still may be possible for me to come to Brasilia; I am not sure that this is the most important thing to think about right now. I am more concerned with making sure that I can participate constructively to the ongoing process of the Peoples Congress and that we will organize things as effectively as possible. The Peoples Congress has a very important role to play in the needed emergence of an effective system of global governance and world law. I was elected to a nine year term and to the Executive Committee and you are the President; so it is our responsibility, along with many others, to ensure that it can and does do so. I am thus hoping that a sufficient amount of time will be scheduled for this at the meeting so that we can achieve good results.
Now, I need some information please so that I can help us to determine the best way to proceed right now, which relates to the questions I asked in my earlier message. First can you tell me how many people are registered to attend the Brasilia meeting that are elected Members of the Peoples Congress, of ASCOP, and other people (thus the number for each category) and also the names of the Peoples Congress members that are planning to attend?
Then I would like to know how many of the total Peoples Congress members have indicated that they want to or will be active since the last election? This could be determined by seeing how many have contributed to the email discussions or have responded to your messages about the Brasilia Meeting.
Second I would like to know what is going to be done about translation in Brasilia? Have you made arrangements for people to do translation and in what languages and for how much of the time will these people be available? Will you be able to send reports and updates on the Congress meeting in multiple languages?
Thirdly, we need to make arrangements for translation on our list serve discussions. I believe that we agreed in Liege that Esperanto would be the official language of the Peoples Congress, if so then all messages on the list serve should be translated into at least English, French, and Esperanto; and we should provide information to all of the Delegates as to resources and materials that will help them to learn Esperanto fairly easily. I use http://www.stars21.com and www.freetranslation.com to read messages written in other languages and between the two of them it is pretty understandable; but it takes quite a bit of time and effort and often I can't get the Esperanto to work at all. Also I have no idea how good the translation is when I use the online translators to translate from English into other languages.
I would thus suggest that we need to get or buy some software that will enable a couple of us to translate all of the Peoples Congress messages quickly into all 3 languages; and then we need to get a few volunteers that speak the 3 languages that will read through the machine translations and make the confusing parts more understandable (maybe FPH would help us with this). It would be good if arrangements could be made for this before the Brasilia meeting; but if not it should be discussed there and done shortly thereafter.
Fourth, we need to post the existing status of each of the elected members of the Peoples Congress on the Peoples Congress website along with a short Bio or CV. Our goal should be to get as many of the Delegates to be active as possible. So we should list whether each one is or isn't active; and if they are not how long it has been since they have actively participated in the Peoples Congress. Then we should write to everyone explaining that we are doing this and ask them to begin to participate actively. A way to ask them for their participation could first be to ask them to send us a short updated Bio or CV that we can post on the website; and then to agree to participate in the decisions of the Brasilia Congress whether they will be attending in person or not. Then a process should be developed enabling those that can't attend to do so.
Finally, given the large number of themes that we will be discussing, I would suggest that some initial proposals be drawn up for each of themes, or at least a short outline or overview of the main ideas or considerations be circulated for our consideration and review before the meeting. Thus we will be able to begin to get some sense of what we are going to try to do and accomplish before the Meeting. I think that this is important for a number of reasons. First, we need to develop a sense of what kind of proposals we are looking for and then what kind of actions we could take to support them.
For example, let me just refer to the topic of the Global Environment for now. I have no idea what anyone else might be interested in or want to propose; but because I have been quite active in the field of sustainable development I can give some suggestions. First, it is quite likely that a UN Earth Summit Conference will again be held in 2012 as preparations have already begun for this. Thus the Peoples Congress could frame any proposals it wants to make in reference to this. See: http://www.earthsummit2012.org.
Similarly, MDG7 is to achieve environmental sustainability and it requires the "integration of sustainable development into country policies and programs." The UN Member States have also agreed to develop and implement National Strategies for Sustainability; but most of those in the developing world don't have the resources for doing this. Also the UN has not developed a review process to ensure that all countries can and are doing this, nor to determine the extent to which sufficient progress is being made. So, the Peoples Congress could certainly make some recommendations about these types of things.
And finally, there has continued to be discussions about strengthening Environmental Governance and perhaps establishing a Global Environmental Agency at the UN. So, there are many things that the Peoples Congress might want to champion; and if we choose to do so then we should spend even more time discussing how we might best be able to do this and even more importantly how we could develop the resources and support to be able to do it in an effective and successful manner.
So, again, if we at least have some idea as to the possibilities and opportunities before the Brasilia Meeting then I think it is much more likely that we will be able to come away from the meeting with a good plan of action, sense of where we are going, and what we want to accomplish. Again, nothing is likely to happen unless particular people make the commitment to organize, work on, and follow up on each thing that we agree to do.
Well thanks again,
Peoples' Assemnbly (René Wadlow)
When A. Rodrigues Brent, Maurice Cosyn and Jacques Savary started to propose a Congrès des Peuples (A Peoples Assembly) in the mid 1950s, much of the worlds population was not represented in the UN. It was only in 1955 with a Package Deal that the States blocked by the Cold War division entered the UN. Japan joined only in 1956 and Germany much later. At the time, most of Africa was in colonial status. The war in Algeria which began in November 1954 was a sign of danger that violence might overtake all of Africa. The French war in Indochina had just ended, but there were fears that all of Asia might follow the Vietnamese pattern. Most African governments joined the UN in the early 1960s; fortunately, independence came with relatively little violence.
Thus the idea of a Peoples Assembly where the unrepresented voices could be heard was an appropriate proposal in the mid-1950s. I helped to publish the first version in English of the proposal by Brent and Cosyn in the little monthly bulletin One World edited by Everett Millard in Chicago. I was a graduate student in international relations at the University of Chicago and would help edit the bulletin. The proposal was integrated into the book drawn from the monthly bulletin: Everett Millard. Freedom in a Federal World (New York: Oceana Publications, 1959).
However today, there are 192 member states in the UN, two observer States (Palestine and the Vatican) and observers at the General Assembly of intergovernmental organizations such as the European Union, the African Union, the Leagues of Arab States as well as some mixed bodies such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Out of this multitude of voices, there are always a few that propose useful things. In my experience as an NGO representative to the UN, Geneva, I have always found some States willing to propose ideas and wording for resolution that I proposed. Since I am interested in promoting the idea, not in having recognition for having drafted a section of a resolution, it does not bother me that Costa Rica or other States get credit for having proposed the idea. I have found that there are always governments willing to propose ideas for the general good, sometimes governments which have a poor record on other issues. One example: it was the Polish government, at the time in the 1980s under martial law, that led the effort for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There is a need to build good working relations with diplomats at the UN to see which are open to proposing ideas.
Thus it is not clear to me what useful role the Congrès des Peuples can play today. I am one of those elected for life, like African Presidents. I have not resigned because I have always tried to give a hand in efforts at the start. Thus I was active in the 1957 start with Philip Isley to write a World Constitution and did a good deal of the writing until the mid-1960s when the final draft was too similar to a national State projected onto the world. I dropped out of the effort, although I continued to see people that Isley sent to Geneva to see me.
I regret that I cannot come to Brazil. At just about the same dates, I will be at a conflict resolution meeting in Cambodia. I had been in Cambodia in 1991 and 1994 to help set up education/child-welfare projects, and I would like to see what has gone on since.
I hope that the meeting in Brazil will go well. I think that it can be an opportunity to develop contacts in Latin America where the world citizen/world federalist movements have not had many contacts in the past. As an active member of the Theosophical Order of Service, I am sorry not to be able to learn more about the spiritual/New Age movements in Brazil. I hope that there will be other opportunities.
My emphasis at the UN in Geneva for the Association of World Citizens is on conflict resolution, often linked to issues of human rights violations. My current focus is on the Wider Middle East: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Syria. However, there are always continuing issues on which I have worked in the past: Burma, Sri Lanka, Kashmir (India-Pakistan), China-Tibet. I am always pleased to be in contact with world citizens concerned with conflict resolution.
Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
Works of the Executive Committee
Daniel mentioned in a recent email I believe that there were a couple of meetings of the Executive Committee after the Liege Congress. I remember that there was one scheduled meeting of ASCOP and/or the Congress that I was not able to attend; but I am not aware of any other meetings besides that. I do not believe that I received any report on that meeting nor any other meeting of the Executive Committee. I went to the website today to see if I could find a report on any activities of the Executive Committee or about that meeting; but I did not find anything. Could you thus please send me any reports, minutes, or information about the work of the Executive Committee or the Peoples Congress that has taken place since Liege??
I am sorry that I have not asked about this before now; but to tell you the truth I became quite discouraged after the Liege Congress, was busy with many other things, and was thus waiting to see what was being done (by the Bureau and others) before getting more involved again. In any case I am very glad that preparations have been made for the Brasilia Meeting; and if a good number of us want to make a serious commitment to continue to develop the work and activities of the Peoples Congress then I would like to help with the organizing effort.
When I went to the website I did find the report from the Liege Congress. It includes many things that we agreed to do; several of them that I do not think have been done yet. Thus I think that one of the key things that should be done both before and during the Brasilia Meeting would be to review the Report from Liege and to discuss what needs to be done to ensure that we can make substantial progress on carrying them out.
We elected an Executive Committee but I do not think that it has been meeting on a regular basis nor have I been receiving reports from the Bureau. I would thus suggest that we ought to schedule regular meetings of the Executive Committee by Conference Call or on-line Chat (if we can deal with any language and translation challenges) and if this is not possible then the Executive Committee should address specific agenda items through email on a regular basis. In addition, I think that the Bureau should be tasked with submitting a report to the Executive Committee at least a week before it holds its conference calls or online meetings; and that the Executice Committee calls or meetings should be held at least every other month (or in other words every two months).
The Executive Committee should thus be tasked with ensuring that the agreements made in Liege and before, along with the new ones from Brasilia, are indeed carried out and it should be the responsibility of the Bureau to then implement and coordinate decisions of the Executive Committee. Most of this work should thus be of a procedural, coordinational, and organizational nature; while the substantive and issue oriented work of the Congress should be carried out and implemented by the Peoples Congress committees or by the Congress itself as a whole, with the support and assistance by ASCOP.
Among the things that I think we still need to follow through on from the Liege Meeting are:
1. How to finance the Peoples Congress? 2. How to revitalize the AMIP (World Press Agency)? 3. Which forms or reforms of global governance are we going to promote? 4. By which steps / actions could we go from a virtual worldwide government to a real worldwide government? 5. How can we best promote and take advantage of World Citizens/World Unity Day?
So far I have asked primarily for 6 or 7 things to be done before the Brasilia Congress Heloisa. This would include:
A) a listing of who is planning to come to Brazil and which/how many of the elected Delegates of the Congress have indicated that they want to and will be active on an ongoing basis; B) an effort to make sure that a process and resources are made available for Translations both for the meeting in Brazilia and on an ongoing basis in at least 3 or 4 languages; C) a process be developed and put in place for distance participation for Delegates that are not able to come to Brasilia; D) that specific suggestions and/or proposals be made and communicated before the Brasilia meeting dealing with the substantive issues areas that will be discussed, so that we can begin to think about the things that might be proposed and so that all of us can give input and discuss them whether we will be in Brasilia or not; E) that a significant amount of time be devoted during the Brasilia Meeting to focus on the elements of the Peoples Congress Mission that have to do with global governance, establishment of a democratic world parliament, and a binding and enforceable global rule of law; F) that the report from the Liege Congress be reviewed and a process be put in place to ensure that the decisions from that meeting and the Brasilia meeting will be implemented; G) that a process be established so that the Executive Committee and Bureau carry out their work in a professional manner and report back to the Peoples Congress on a regular basis.
I know that you may be very busy right now; thus if you do not have time to follow up on all of these things yourself perhaps you can ask some of the other Bureau Members to do so.
Thank you once again,
Rob Wheeler Executive Committee Member Peoples Congress
Long Distance Participation
Thank you for following up on Liliane's message and the others with your note of clarification. I believe that you said that you will be traveling for several days now; and then we will make some plans for long distance participation after that. This is fine with me; however I want to make a suggestion now so that people can begin to think about it. I have no idea how your actual program is organized however so that is also something to consider.
Anyway, I would like to suggest that you do two things. The first is that each day someone be given the responsibility to write up a report on any specific proposals that are made as well as short succinct overviews of the discussions that have taken place and that you send these out to the Peoples Congress on the list serve as soon as you can after that day's sessions have ended. Then the next morning, as a first item of business, we could hold a Conference Call enabling any of those of us that are not able to travel to Brasil to give our input on the topics and especially proposals that were made the day before.
Of course arrangements would have to be made for good translation services with a Conference Call so that we can participate fully in whatever languages are needed. And as you know if we are translating what each of us says we will have to be as concise and succinct as possible when we speak so that it does not take too much time. We could also send SHORT written comments or responses that could be read at the start of the meeting and could be written in multiple languages.
Thus the first item of business would be a review and then vote on any proposals that were made the day before. If the morning session begins at 9:00 AM, then that would be 8:00 AM in the US, early afternoon in Europe and Africa, and evening in Asia and the Pacific which should work well for everyone.
The second thought is that you could pick a specific time in the afternoon or a hour or two before your session concludes for the day, during which you will send out any specific proposals that have been made during the day and then those that are not there can respond at that time with either Short email messages or by Skype.
Anyone that is on Skype should be able to participate pretty cheaply in the Conference Calls where-ever they are in the world if you can either connect with us by Skype or Call in to a free Conference Call service where we can call in as well. I know of a Free Conference Call service that does this in the US; but I do not know if there are similar services in other parts of the world.
Of course if you are also able to broadcast some of the sessions on the Web or post them on YouTube or whatever that would also be quite wonderful. Thanks again for your note and I look forward to reading your responses to my other messages when you have the time.
Réponse of the President
I am induced to make a proposal, based on the People's Congress Regulation to assure our quorum during our next meeting in Brasilia.
Art.6.3 All decisions are taken at the simple majority, but the quorum of 4/10 must be reached TAKING IN ACCOUNT THE NUMBER OF PROXY. In case the quorum is not reached, mail vote is organized .
Art.1.8 An absent delegate can give a proxy to another delegate of his choice.
Mail voting is good but using proxy is better, I think, because some of us are not in the best condition for mailing, as for example, Kuwabara, Bernard Chuzeville, Joel Luegern or Henri Cainaud.
Therefore I propose to invite all delegates, not participating the event, to send their PROXY to the Committee in Brasilia, indicating or not the delegate chosen to represent him or her.
This is very important, because may be even the internet contacts in the event site can not be guaranteed for all always.
At this moment I invite the following delegates to task the Committee in Brasilia with their Proxy in order to guarantee the best proceeding of the event.
We will have ASKOP members, invited guests, organized world-citizens, but for decision-makers, i.e. elected delegates, we are only a small number. So, please understand the importance of the proxy- votes.
This is my suggestion for a certain success of our next World Assembly and I am sure that all elected Delegates understand their responsibility and their moral commitment to their electorate.
I am definitely coming to Brasilia
I am definitely coming to Brasilia and will soon be seeing you at the Congress meeting. I include my flight information below. I managed to get a much cheaper flight by leaving from New York than I was able to find a couple of weeks ago. I hope that Liliane will also decide to come to Brasilia if she is still able to. I have decided that there is enough participation (and really good people and organizers) that we can really make something good and important from the Peoples Congress if we will all decide to do so.
Liliane has written about some organizational difficulties that we have had that I think need to be taken seriously and corrected and as a priority during the Congress meeting. We should thus plan accordingly and be honest about what has and has not worked. First we need to have a functioning Bureau and Executive Committee. Thus they should meet and begin to work cooperatively together in Brazilia so that they are functioning well before leaving Brazil. It should be clearly agreed and understood what the duties and responsibilities are for each of them. This would include how often they will meet; accountability between the two bodies; etc. There should be no reason to complain afterwards that the Bureau or Executive Committee is not doing what it is supposed to do. Instead if one of them is not working adequately, then the problem should be taken up with the other committee so that the problem can be solved. If neither of the committees is functioning adequately and the committees are not dealing responsibly with the situation, then it should be taken up with the Peoples Congress as a whole.
But what we need to do is to make sure in Brazilia that any problems from the past are first resolved; and that procedures are then put in place so that these committees will operate responsibly in the future. I know that it is not always possible for us to do everything that we say we will do in a timely manner; because so many of us have so many responsibilities and much more to do than we can personally manage. So, we have to be honest with each other and communicate responsibly when we run into challenges, so we can continue to make progress in a responsible and reasonable manner.
For example, Liliane has suggested that I might be interested in serving on the Bureau in the future. I would be; but I also recognize that I already have more commitments than I have been able to follow through on as well as or as responsibly as I would like. So, I have to be very careful about any new commitments. I can contribute to coordinational and decision making processes; but probably could not take on much more than that in terms of the work of the Bureau. And I cannot participate in the coordinational and decision making work unless it is done in an effective and well managed manner. I just don't have the time for anything else.
Liliane also suggested that what I am "doing with other organisations could all be run and included under the CDP's wing and we would become bigger and bigger and known around the world." I would like to clarify this. Most of the work on these other projects is being done by other organizations precisely because it needs to be done by them and not by the Peoples Congress. However, the point that Liliane is making is important. The Peoples Congress should be actively linked with and cooperatively developing and participating in such initiatives. This will in turn help to ensure that ASCOP and the Peoples Congress do become bigger and better known.
For example, a group of people are developing a world democracy web portal called Global Demo. See: www.globaldemo.org. The idea is to support all of the different approaches and organizations trying to create World Democracy. The Peoples Congress should thus have a good listing there; and we should do our part in developing and promoting the portal so as many people as possible will learn about our movement and can support and participate in the approach that best resonates for them.
Our mission also includes comparing and contrasting different approaches towards world democracy; so we could do the Portal a big favor if we would take the lead on putting together a good paper doing this that can then be used for both our website and Global Demo. So what is needed is not to get everyone else to join and put their projects under the Peoples Congress; but instead to collaborate with other organizing efforts so that we can cooperatively develop projects and activities that will best serve us all in a win-win manner. We will succeed not by competing with other likeminded initiatives; but instead by drawing many new people to the movement.
Well, thanks again everyone,
totally opposed to proxy voting
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. For the record, I am totally opposed to proxy voting, other than to ensure that we have a quorum for any procedural matters and decisions that need to be dealt with immediately during the meeting. We should of course however agree that on procedural matters during the meeting itself those Delegates attending are a legitimate quorum and can proceed (on procedural matters only) accordingly.
However in this day and age there is no reason that our Delegates cannot and should not be making their own decisions on substantive issues or procedural matters that do not have to be decided immediately. And what will it say about the Peoples Congress if our elected Delegates are not able to vote for themselves? Proxy voting just gives those holding the proxy twice as much voting power as the others - not a very democratic procedure.
I know of no reason that we have to make quick or immediate decisions on most matters, thus no reason that we can't wait a week or two for as many Delegates to discuss and vote as possible.
Regarding setting a quorum, I think this is a very good idea. However I think that we can do better than selecting 40%. What I think that we need to do is to first determine how many Delegates agree to be Active Participants and then set the quorum based on that. I would suggest a 2/3rds quorum of all Actively Declared Participants. Thus let us assume that we could get 30 Delegates to agree to participate actively. We would then need 20 Delegates to vote before a motion or proposal could be passed. We could thus set a time limit that the vote would be held open, say a week or two, thus the votes of as many Delegates as possible would be counted during that period; however if we would not yet get 2/3rds to vote then we could hold the vote open for say another two weeks or until 2/3rds of the Delegates have voted.
If Delegates do not vote on say 3 or 5 (or whatever number of times we would choose) consecutive votes, then they would be declared Inactive; unless and until they indicate that they want to participate actively again. If a Delegate is Inactive for a given period of time, then their voting privileges could be suspended indefinitely - thus enabling us to begin to replace inactive participants with new Delegates that will make a commitment to actively participate over the upcoming years.
My intention with these suggestions or proposals is to ensure that the Peoples Congress operates as much like a real congress or parliament as possible and thus can best model the workings of a legitimate World Parliament.
After Rob Wheeler's comments and after looking at the interesting website www.globaldemo.org, I wish to make a comment on the use of terminology in multi-cultural settings such as the United Nations and in work with Non-Governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN.
I think that the usefulness of the term "democracy" has been destroyed by the George W. Bush administration for at least a generation. "Spreading democracy" is thought of as a technique to increase US influence.
The term "people" or "peoples" was likewise destroyed by Stalin and will continue to be a term meaning "communist" for as long as people recall the existence of the USSR - at least another generation as well.
The term "federalism" now means techniques for the decentralization of a State, no longer a term meaning the association of several states. Even pro-EU people rarely call themselves "European Federalists" and the term "world federalist" creates no picture in the minds of diplomats. "Federalism" is discussed as a possible way of structuring the state of Nepal now that the centralizing efforts of the King have been overthrown.
Thus the term "citizen of the world" is the term which is most clearly understood, even if its content is not always clear. It is the same with the term "ecologist".
We have the International Registry of World Citizens in Paris; Registry sounds bureaucratic in English, but after 60 years a change of name is not useful.
We have the Association of World Citizens (AWC) which, being in consultative status with the UN, is the public face vis à vis governments and other international NGOs of the world citizen movement. Not all world citizens groups are members of the AWC. There is a World Citizens' Association in Greece which is a member of the Geneva-based federation of peace groups - the International Peace Bureau- but is not a member of AWC.
However, for diplomats, UN Secretariat and representatives of international NGOs, the AWC is the best-known organization with a world citizen ideology
Thus, I think that the term "Citizen of the World" or "World Citizen" is the most appropriate term to use.
The best terms
I agree that world citizen and citizen of the world are the best terms. However, I think we should and can reclaim the concepts implied by the term democratic world federation for our movement. Most people who have given the matter any thought know that democracy cannot be imposed by violence and that GW Bush was wrong. Likewise, I often refer to ideas as pro people and pro planet. Clearly there are cases such as the existence, practices and name of the DPRK that prolong the legacy of Stalin to undermine the idea of peoples democracy, but this is one of many terms that we can reclaim by putting things in context intelligently. And I know of no one better able to do that than Rene Wadlow. As for the value of the term federalism, I think it is our duty to demonstrate that this concept is the corollary of human sovereignty, that people are sovereign and it is for each of us to determine which aspects and levels of governance serve us best with respect to each rule and action of governance; we are in a complex interactive system that needs our sensitive guidance. Federalism relates both to decentralization AND to greater empowerment of larger regional, sub-regional and global structures. Most people can see the logic and symmetry of this. At the UN in New York I find that most of the delegates whom I meet know this.
Lucy Law Webster, www.lvistas.net
Al-Bashir and the ICC:The Shock of Responsibility
Written by René Wadlow
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Omar Hassan al-BashirAfter a thorough examination of the evidence presented by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo, a panel of three judges has issued an arrest warrant against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan. There are seven charges against al-Bashir including crimes against humanity, murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, rape, attacks against civilian population and pillaging. The ICC confirms the statements which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been making to UN human rights bodies since early 2004.
The evidence against al-Bashir had been collected at the request of the UN Security Council and had been added to by the High Level Mission established by the UN Human Rights Council in December 2006 chaired by Professor Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate for her work on a ban on landmines. The High Level Mission confirmed that there is a high level of destruction, millions of people are displaced, and a large number of people have been killed. There is a refugee flow to Chad and a danger of the conflict spreading to Chad and the Central African Republic. The High Level Mission also indicated that the responses of the Sudanese government are inadequate. Their report stated that "Mechanisms of justice and accountability, where they exist, are under-resourced, politically compromised and ineffective. The region is heavily armed, further undercutting the rule of law, and meaningful disarmament and demobilization of the Janjaweed, other militias and rebel movements is yet to occur. Darfur suffers from longstanding economic marginalization and underdevelopment, and the conflict has resulted in further impoverishment."
The indication that the national court system is inadequate is crucial, as the ICC can act only when the national court system is unable or unwilling to prosecute the person in question.
This first ICC arrest warrant against a ruling head of state is an historic moment in the development of world law. There is a distinction between "international law" and "world law" that is made, at least by advocates of world citizenship and some international law professors such as the late Louis Sohn of Harvard Law School. International law is basically treaty law and deals with relations among states. World law is the law of the world community and thus deals with individuals. Most human rights standards, the ICC and the ad hoc courts dealing with former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone can be considered "world law" as they deal with individuals. The ICC deals with an individual not an entire state. However, the standards against which the individual is judged have often been set out in treaties and conventions such as the 1948 Convention on Genocide. Thus there is a close relationship between international law and world law, but it is intellectually useful to make the distinction between the two. World law is likely to grow.
The earlier heads of state to face an international court had already lost power prior to being arrested: Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Charles Taylor of Liberia, Radovan Karadzic of Republika Srpska, the Serbian unit of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Taylor and Karadzic have not yet been tried.
The fate of al-Bashir is uncertain. Only speculation is possible. He originally came to power in June 1989 as the front man for the intellectual ideologue Hassan al-Turabi who became Speaker of the Parliament. Al-Turabi had the intellectual vision of a new Islamic-based society. Al-Bashir had no ideas but as a military man with an outgoing personality he fitted the image of a head of state. Al-Bashir and Al-Turabi parted ways in February 2001. Al-Bashirs power base is narrow, mostly security people from the army and the police. My guess is that he will be eased out of power and go into exile in some safe haven such as Arabia which was willing to take in Amin Dada of Uganda whose crimes were at least as evident.
In the meantime al-Bashir is still able to make life worse for the people of Sudan. His first move was to expel 13 foreign humanitarian NGOs and to close down one of the more active Sudanese relief agencies. Some observers fear that the situation in Sudan could get worse without al-Bashir, but it is difficult to see how the situation can get worse. There is no obvious replacement for al-Bashir from within his own camp. However, there is a good deal of political talent in Sudan if the political structures were more open. There are probably a good number of people who see themselves in the presidents chair once al-Bashir is pushed out. Hopefully, there can be enough international pressure to speed his departure, even if his arrest and transfer to the ICC, I believe, is unlikely.
Leaders of the African Union and the Arab League are watching the situation closely in a state of near shock. If one of their own can be held responsible for crimes against humanity by the ICC, does this not open a courtroom door for many of them?
After the ICC arrest warrants, things are starting to fall into place. Hassan al-Turabi "for reasons of health" was released from jail in Port Sudan on March 9th and sent by government plane to his home in the suburbs of Khartoum. Al-Turabi has been, since his break with al-Bashir in 2001, in-and-out of jail but most of the time under house arrest. In January 2009, after suggesting that al-Bashir was guilty of the crimes charged by the ICC and should give himself up to the Court, al-Turabi was re-arrested and placed in a prison in Port Sudan, far from his supporters, many still in government service in Khartoum. Al-Turabi has a good number of people influenced by his thinking in all sections of the Sudanese elite, including among the Darfur insurgencies. His release is a sign that a post-al-Bashir future is being considered, though not yet openly discussed.
Sri-Lanka (René Wadlow)
To comment briefly on the presentation of ideas to government officials: As Rob Wheeler points out, one needs to develop avenues of communication because there are a good number of people trying to reach a Head-of- State, a Foreign Minister, a member of parliament etc. Building such avenues of communication takes time and differs from country to country. One must also use more than one avenue: a combination of newspaper articles, direct letters, personal meetings when possible, use of intergovernmental organizations etc. One's ideas must be clear. One must be considered 'legitimate' , that is, that one has the 'right' to address ideas to the person to whom one is writing. Lastly, I believe that it is useful to address only one issue at a time. In most countries, there is a 'desk' in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Executive which deals with an issue, an Africa 'desk' a South Asia 'desk', a nuclear arms proliferation 'desk'. There is no 'desk' for a list of unrelated propositions.
I give an example of what I mean: For the last three weeks, I have been stressing the respect of humanitarian law in the current Sri Lanka Government/LTTE conflict, in part by sending the text below to people in Sri Lanka, to NGO contacts and to people in south India as there may be a refugee flow to south India from Sri Lanka, depending on how the fighting stops.
The Association of World Citizens, because of its consultative status with the United Nations is considered 'legitimate', that is, has the right and responsibility to deal with all issues that are discussed at the UN and does so regularly. Humanitarian law, basically the Red Cross Conventions, is such an isssue. I have had contacts with the Sri Lanka Mission to the UN in Geneva over the years, since 1983 when the current phase of violence began. My concern has been with federalist/decentralist ideas as a possible structure of the Sri Lankan state. I have also been in contact with the diplomats of Norway who were trying to mediate in the Sri Lankan conflict.
Thus my appeal is not 'Let's save the LTTE at the last moment' but is a continuation of concern for the people of Sri Lanka and the need to find more acceptable relations among the groups making up the population. I have received a good number of messages of appreciation from people in Sri Lanka that we are concerned with their safety.One of the persons to whom the appeal was sent had the email addresses of key government officials and sent the message on. This has led to a good number of exchanges among officials in Sri Lanka, not always writing in English so I do not know all the themes of the exchanges.
The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have now made similar appeals, and I received letters of appreciation for my efforts for the respect of humanitarian law. In the short run, my efforts have changed nothing: the Army and the LTTE forces grind on, and many people are caught between the two forces. However, there will be soon a 'post-armed-conflict' stage when ideas about the future need to be discussed seriously. This may give citizens of the world an entry point into these discussions building on a histrory of concern for all the people. Best wishes, Rene Wadlow
Citizens of the World Appeal: NGO Efforts For Respect of Humanitarian Law in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka : The Last Round ?
With the Sri Lankan government troops closing in to the remaining Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) stronghold, it looks as if this is the last round of a military struggle that began in 1983 but whose roots go back at least to independence in 1948. The ongoing conflict between the Sinhala and the Tamils that has ebbed and flowed derives its emotional force, in part, from competing beliefs that began during the colonial period about legitimate rule, economic wellbeing, and sacred authority.
The Office to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens has had a long-standing concern with the conflict in Sri Lanka and has made frequent calls for good-faith negotiations on the political and administrative structure of the State. I had thought that reason would win out over the irrational drive to settle complicated issues of social-political structures through armed violence. I seem to have been wrong since both the government and the LTTE gave up negotiations in exchange for a military solution. A military victory seems now possible for the government forces.
There are two short-term dangers. There are some 200,000 people trapped between the LTTE militias and the government troops. There have been appeals from the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross for a cease-fire so that civilians, especially the sick and wounded, can leave the fighting area. As this is being written (11 Feb. 2009), there is no cease-fire and none seems in view.
There have been calls from the Government to the LTTE leadership to lay down their arms and end the fighting. Again, this is a logical possibility, but given past LTTE willingness to fight to the bitter end, a massive rendition seems unlikely. Thus, there may be a heavy loss of life of those caught in the cross-fire.
The second danger is revenge killings on a large scale. The Tamil-Sinhalese conflict has been extremely bitter. Many families in both communities have lost kin. Although binding up the wounds of war should be the first priority, there is always a danger that revenge killings take place. Logically, the establishment of social cohesion that is, an ongoing process of developing a community of shared values and opportunities based on a sense of trust, hope and reciprocity should be the prime aim of government policy. However, there are small groups of violent individuals who may be ready to kill for revenge or to get rid of rivals.
Therefore, the Office to the UN, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens has sent a three-point appeal to the President of Sri Lanka, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa:
1) calling for the respect of international humanitarian law as expressed in the Red Cross Geneva Conventions;
2) appealing for the protection of all civilians both during the on-going conflict and especially in the period following the end of armed conflict during which there is a danger of revenge killings. We are sure that Sri Lanka will respect universally-recognized human rights standards;
3) appealing further that serious consultations on the governmental and administrative structures of the State be undertaken so as to facilitate national unity based on the respect of individual views and aspirations.
Wide support for these three aims would be welcome. Letters could be sent to the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York:
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
630 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10017, USA
Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
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