The following is an excerpt from Planethood, by Benjamin B. Ferencz and Ken Keyes, Jr.
Since the end of World War II, our failure to create an effective world system to govern the planet has resulted in millions killed, many more injured, businesses disrupted, lives twisted through fear and hatred, property destroyed, environmental pollution and degeneration accelerated, and money wasted on killing machines (this term includes both people and guns). The insanity of nuclear killing machines is making us realize that World War III (with possibly 5 million fatalities) may bring about the end of all people on this planet. It is the plea of PlanetHood that we end the arms race—not the human race.
The First Four Steps
Let’s briefly review the steps we’ve covered so far. Step One requires us to assert our ultimate human right to live with dignity in a healthy environment free from the threat of war. Step Two asks us to understand the new top layer of government we need in order to nail down this ultimate human right for you and your family for all time – no more international anarchy. We need to complete the governmental structure of the world with a limiting constitution setting up a lawmaking body (representing the people of the world), a world court (staffed with the wisest judges chosen from among the nations of the world), and an effective system of sanctions and peacekeeping forces to enforce the agreed standards of national behavior. This final layer of government would globally ensure our basic human rights, protect the sovereignty of nations, settle disputes legally, and protect the environment.
By taking Step Three we realize what it means to become a Planethood Patriot. We are urged to step into George Washington’s footsteps in creating and supporting a new constitution to govern the nations of the world. The Federal Republic of the World must be strong enough to avoid ineffectiveness, and have checks and balances to limit power and avoid tyranny. This is secured by a wise balance of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
In Step Four we acknowledge our enormous progress over the past century in creating international law. We have been gradually globalizing. We note how the nations of the world have been getting accustomed to working with each other – gradually and safely yielding small portions of their sovereignty in order to benefit from binding international agreements for the common good. We see that nation-states are already merging into larger economic and political entities to meet their common needs – such as the European Union. There is a growing awareness that the world system must change to meet the challenge of the 21st Century.
In Step Five we will discuss updating our vehicle for survival – the U.N. – as we move toward an effective world system with checks and balances to protect our rights and freedoms. This step is primarily concerned with spelling out how we need to reform the U.N. to ensure world peace.
After the carnage of World War II with 35 million dead, many nations were determined not to go through that again. Toward the end of the war we began to plan the United Nations Organization. In October 1945 the Charter was ratified by 50 nations at San Francisco. Enthusiasm ran high. “The U.N. Charter can be a greater Magna Carta,” said John Foster Dulles, our Secretary of State, who was a delegate to the San Francisco conference.
It’s interesting to note that the U.N. Charter was completed on June 26, 1945 – six weeks before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This may help explain its weakness. The delegates were unaware of the devastation we would face in the nuclear era. They did not know that humanity’s survival would be at stake. They failed to understand that we could no longer drag our feet in replacing international anarchy with enforced international law.
The Security Council
The Charter provides for a Security Council and a General Assembly. The Security Council was supposed to be the enforcement arm. Its five permanent members were victorious in World War II: the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China (in 1971 the People’s Republic of China replaced Nationalist China on the Security Council, in 19__, the Soviet Union was replaced by Russia). In addition, there are now ten rotating members – originally there were six.
It was deliberately set up so that the big powers could ignore any vote they didn’t like. Any one of the five permanent members of the Security Council can veto any enforcement action—even If the rest of the world is for it! Since the Big Five have been behind most of the trouble in the world, it’s like setting up the foxes to guard the chicken coop.
Because of the distrust and conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States (and because we usually vote to support our friends and they usually support their friends), deadlocks on all important issues involving war and peace have usually blocked effective action by the U.N. For example, the U.S. in 1990 vetoed a resolution for the U.N. to send a fact- finding mission to get information on the Jewish-Arab conflict in the occupied territories. An impartial understanding of what’s happening is a needed first step in the peace process. This lack of respect for legal, peaceful conflict resolution has set a poor example for the other nations of the world.
Brian Urquhart, U.N. under secretary-general for special political affairs, lamented, “There are moments when I feel that only an invasion from outer space will reintroduce into the Security Council that unanimity and spirit which the founders of the Charter were talking about.” Let us hope that the shock of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the threat to Saudi Arabia will begin to do it for us!
Thus we have a toddling Security Council that under the Charter is empowered to send armed forces anywhere on earth to stop war. And it is usually rendered impotent because of the Charter requirement for the unanimous vote of the permanent members of the Security Council to act in preserving peace. In 1945 we weren’t quite ready yet to take the final step. Perhaps we’re now waking up to the idiocy of living in an ungoverned world!
The General Assembly
In addition to the Security Council, the Charter of the United Nations set up the General Assembly. It has been called a “town meeting of the world” by former Secretary-General Trygve Lie. Each nation has one vote in the General Assembly, which has grown from the original 50 nations to 160 today. Thus small nations, regardless of size, have the same vote as large nations, regardless of population. For example, Grenada with about 90,000 people has an equal vote with the United States, which has 1/4 billion people.
Since the Security Council has all the power to act, the big powers gave the other nations of the world the power to talk! It’s interesting to note that when a resolution passes the General Assembly, it goes to the Security Council as a recommendation only. The General Assembly has no Charter power to require any action to keep the peace – or to do anything but suggest!
Thus we are heading for the 21st Century with 160 “But the hard fact remains,” comments Richard Hudson in his newsletter Global Report, “that the decision-making system in the world body is too flawed to deal with the awesome gamut of our planet’s problems in the coming decades. It is neither morally right nor politically sensible to leave veto power in the Security Council in the hands of the five nuclear powers. It is plainly absurd to have decisions made on the basis of one nation, one vote in the General Assembly, thus giving countries with minute populations and minuscule contributions to the U.N. budget the same influence in decision- making as the bigger countries that have to pay the bills. Moreover, a central global decision-making body that can pass only non-binding recommendations is not what the world needs for the 21st century.”
The Need for Reform
Patricia Mische, co-founder of Global Education Associates, tells a story that compares the United Nations to a dog that is expected to give protection from thieves and murderers. The dog is a good dog, but it has three problems. First, the masters muzzle the dog so the dog can bark but not bite, and thieves and murderers know this. Second, the masters don’t feed the dog very well, so the dog is always hungry and anxious for itself, and lacks energy to do its job well. Third, the dog has 160 masters, and they often give conflicting directions and confuse the dog.
Here is the prescription for rebuilding the UN: Remove the muzzle, feed the dog, and reform the masters, so they will not be confusing the dog.
Vernon Nash wrote in The World Must Be Governed, “. . . if Hamilton or any other founding father returned to the United States today and read a. current article about the performance and prospects of the United Nations, he certainly would say to himself, ‘This is where I came in.’. . . Then, as now, men kept trying to get order without law, to establish peace while retaining the right and power to go on doing as they pleased.”
The United States, which was the principal mover in creating the World Court, gave the appearance of accepting compulsory jurisdiction over “any question of international law.” But that was quite deceptive. By special reservations, the U.S. excluded certain types of disputes, which the U.S. could by itself decide it wanted solely within its own domestic jurisdiction.
A nation undermines the Court when it gives the appearance of accepting the Court and, at the same time, denies to the tribunal the normal powers of every judicial agency. A nation that defies the Jurisdiction of the Court when it becomes a defendant shows contempt for the Court. A nation that ignores the Court when it doesn’t like a judgment against it undercuts the process of law. When these things are done by – the U.S., which helped establish the World Court, it diminishes respect for itself.
Despite technical legal arguments that were raised to justify the U.S. position when Nicaragua in 1984 complained that we were mining its harbors and seeking to overthrow its government, the fact is that the U.S. refused to honor the Court or its judgments. This was seen throughout the world as a hypocritical manifestation of scorn for the tribunal – which the United States praised when decisions went in its favor. Defiance of law is an invitation to disaster. What may have been tolerable in the pre-nuclear age is intolerable now.
In a world of law and order, aggressor nations should clearly be identified as outlaws for rejecting the rule of law. This is not to suggest that justified grievances should be ignored; sincere efforts must be made to find just solutions. But a handful of states, or a small group of fanatics, should not be permitted to thwart humankind’s progress toward a more lawful and peaceful world.
Supporting the U.N.
In 1986 the U.S. Congress reduced its financial support of the United Nations by over half, largely because it did not like certain expenditures. Since the total U.N. budget is less than New York City’s, any reduction of its annual $800 million income is crippling. In the past the Soviet Union has also failed to pay its U.N. dues for the same reason. In October 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev talked of invigorating the Security Council. To back up his words, the Soviet Union announced that it would pay all its overdue U.N. bills, which came to $197 million. And they’ve followed through on this promise.
That left the United States in October 1987 the outstanding delinquent, who still owed over $414 million, including $61 million for peacekeeping forces that the U.S. opposed! As of December 1989, the U.S. was behind $518 million – in violation of its treaty obligations. In his last budget request, President Reagan asked for full U.N. current funding and about a 10% payment on our past dues. Bush in his first budget made the same request. Our Congress was still unwilling to honor our obligations. The cost of only one Stealth bomber would cover our disgracefully broken contractual agreements with the U.N. – and with humanity’s future.
The world spends only $800 MILLION a year on peace through the U.N., and about $1 TRILLION on national military budgets – over a thousand times more!!! Does it come as a surprise that we are today 1,000 times more effective at waging war than at waging peace?
There are amazing parallels between our situation with the United Nations today and the dangerous situation in the United States two centuries ago. Tom Hudgens in his book Let’s Abolish War points out that the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation:
- Had no independent taxing powers.
- Could not regulate interstate and foreign commerce.
- Had no powers of direct enforcement of its laws.
- Was ineffective in foreign affairs.
- Had no chief executive.
- Had no binding court of justice…
“Do you realize,” Hudgens asks, “that every one of these charges can be leveled at the United Nations today? We are living today under the Articles of Confederation except we call it the United Nations.”
Instead of starting all over again, the U.N. may be our best bet to rapidly ensure our ultimate human right. A redrafting of the Charter and its ratification by the nations of the world is needed. It won’t be easy to persuade nations to mend their ways, but it can be done.
For years, the officials of the U.N. have known what needs to be done. They’re powerless unless authorized by the nations of the world. They’ve been waiting for you to take the needed steps to alter the views of the entrenched diplomats, which would permit them to respond effectively to international lawlessness – and thus set the stage for a new era of prosperity and peace on earth.
Confederation vs. Federation
In order to take Step Five by working to make the U.N. more effective in the nuclear age, you must clearly understand the key differences between the U.N. today and the world federation we need for tomorrow. Just as the terms “Confederation” and “Federation” were confusing to the 1787 delegates at Philadelphia, people usually don’t understand their significance today. The World Federalist Association in its pamphlet We the People helps us clarify the crucial differences between a league or confederation, and a federation or union:
- In a league or confederation (like the U.N.), each state does as it pleases regardless of the consequences to the whole; in a federation or union (like the U.S.), each state accepts some restrictions for the security and wellbeing of the whole.
- In a league, the central body is merely a debating society without authority to control the harmful behavior of individuals; in a federation, the central body makes laws for the protection of the whole and prosecutes individuals who break them.
- In a league, any enforcement is attempted only against member states; in a federation, enforcement of laws is directed against individual lawbreakers.
- In a league, conflicts among members continue unabated, resulting in costly arms races and wars; in a federation, conflicts among states are worked out in a federal parliament and in federal courts.
- A league has no independent sources of revenue; a federation has its own supplemental sources of revenue.
- In a league, state loyalty overrides loyalty to the wider community; in a federation, loyalty to each state is balanced by loyalty to the wider community.
Finding the Best Way
Could you feel secure if a congress made up of people from all over the world enacted binding international laws? Would you be taken advantage of? Too heavily taxed? Your rights ignored? Could a dictator grab power? Can we set up a world legislature, court, and executive branch that will be more protective of the U.S. than the Pentagon? How can we actually increase our “defense” through a reformed U.N.? How do we reform the U.N. to avoid ecocide?
As George Washington and Benjamin Franklin would testify, there is no one simple way to hammer out a new constitution. It takes an open-minded willingness to consider all points of view, to lay aside one’s prejudices and psychological certainties, and to be patient enough to listen and search until effective answers are found and agreed upon. Just as success in 1787 required that various states be satisfied, in like manner we must create a reformed U.N. that meets today’s needs and interests of the nations of the world.
There have been many proposals to improve the United Nations and make it more effective as the keeper of the peace. One suggestion, known as the “Binding Triad,” comes from Richard Hudson, founder of the Center for War/Peace Studies. It requires two basic modifications of the U.N. Charter:
The voting system in the General Assembly would be changed. Important decisions would still be adopted with a single vote, but with three simultaneous majorities within that vote. Approval of a resolution would require that the majority vote include two-thirds of the members present and voting (as at present), nations representing two-thirds of the population of those present and voting, and nations representing two-thirds of the contributions to the regular U.N. budget of those present and voting. Thus, in order for a resolution to pass, it would have to be supported strongly by most of the countries of the world, most of the population of the world, and most of the political/economic/military strength of the world.
The powers of the General Assembly would be increased under the Binding Triad so that in most cases its resolutions would be binding, not recommendations as at present. The new General Assembly, now a global legislature, will be able to use peacekeeping forces and/or economic sanctions to carry out its decisions. However, the Assembly would not be permitted “to intervene in matters which are essentially within the jurisdiction of any state.” If the jurisdiction were in doubt, the issue would be referred to the World Court, and if the court ruled that the question was essentially domestic, the Assembly could not act.”
This is only one possibility for giving the General Assembly limited legislative powers. A World Constitution for the Federation of Earth has been drafted by the World Constitution and Parliament Association headed by Philip Isely of Lakewood, Colorado. There are many ways to reform the U.N. to give the world binding international laws, a binding court of international justice, and an executive branch to enforce the law with effective economic sanctions and an international military force that replaces national armies, navies, and air forces.
A 14-point program is shown on the next page. Models of new international systems to create world order have been prepared by many scholars, among who are Professor Richard Falk of Princeton University, Professor Saul Mendlovitz of Rutgers, and Professor Louis Sohn of Harvard University. With wise checks and balances, we can set up an overall system that will enable the world to work! Political leaders lack the political will to make the required changes in the U.N. It’s time for the public to speak out.
Once the world union is formed, do we want to permit an easy divorce if a nation wants to get out when it disagrees about something? The American Civil War in 1861-1865 settled whether states could leave the federal union if they disagreed with its policies. The victory by the Union dearly established that no state could secede from the federal government once it agreed to be a member.
If politicians in a nation become angry and could whip up the people to get out, it would signal the end of the world system. Once a nation agrees to the reformed U.N., it must be permanent. By resigning from the organization,” Cord Meyer warns, “a nation could free itself from international supervision, forcing a renewal of the armament race and certain war. In view of the nature of the new weapons, secession would be synonymous with aggression.
As we’ve pointed out, there is no one way to transform the United Nations into an effective world government. It is important that you give thought to this vital matter and arrive at your own conclusions on how to do it. Then discuss them with your friends and neighbors, who will no doubt develop their own ideas. It is only from the clash of opinions that a living truth will emerge that will point to an effective way to complete the governmental structure of the world.
The Challenge of Our Age
We are at a crucial point in history. We are on the threshold of great progress. We have reached the stage where large-scale wars are no longer compatible with the future of the human race. We have gone beyond the point where such military power is protective. Instead it threatens to kill us all. We are gradually fouling our environment so that it cannot support human life. And we now know that we must have global institutions to solve our global problems.
“Environmental knowledge and concerns,” according to Pamela Leonard, “have risen at an increasingly rapid rate in recent years, and many nations have enacted laws and set up agencies to deal with them. Yet little has been done to create laws or institutions on an international scale, despite the fact that the impacts of air and water pollutants travel as easily across national boundaries as across municipal boundaries.”
Even if we were not threatened by nuclear war or environmental ruin, we would benefit enormously by a reformed U.N. Through a world republic, our children will have greater prosperity, more personal opportunities for a good life, better maintenance of our precious planet, and better protection of their human rights and freedoms.
Imagine what a difference this would make in your life and that of your loved ones. The heavy taxes that spill your “economic blood” year by year would no longer be used to feed a greedy war machine. Your children could then feel confident that they would have a future. Business could be liberated from the import and export fences that limit opportunities. We could effectively begin to improve the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Education, medical care, and quality of life would vastly improve when the world no longer spent $1.5 million each minute on increasing its killing capacity. A small international peacekeeping force of several hundred thousand well-trained and equipped people could replace the millions of soldiers now under arms who constantly disrupt the peace of the planet.
Over the past several centuries there has been a gradual awakening to the importance of international law that can override the military passions of the 160 separate nations around the globe. We have tried world courts and have found that they work if we want them to. We have set up international organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. Each has been a step forward. All this experimenting, testing, trying, and hoping have been important steps up the ladder of international growth toward the completion of the governance of our world. We now have the glorious challenge of creating lasting peace and prosperity by reforming the United Nations into a world republic.
Many nations today, and eventually all nations, will be willing to cooperate in a reformed United Nations. They will respond to the insistence of their people that we do not let our planet be ruined or blown apart through war. These nations will want to benefit from the much safer and far less costly protection of their national rights and freedoms that only a world government can offer them.
At long last, the people of this world can get out of the arms race and enjoy a much higher standard of living, environmental protection, education, culture, medical care, etc. We need a world governance that, unlike the present Security Council, cannot be vetoed by one of the five victorious nations of World War II. It will be able to effectively respond to environmental problems that threaten the security of everyone everywhere.
It is now time for the people to insist on reforming the U.N. Charter. They will become a powerful force when they unite and act together. Sooner or later, those who resist at first will join in – just as holdout states discovered they could not afford to pass up the many benefits of becoming a part of the United States two centuries ago.
The draft of the U.N. Charter was discussed at Dumbarton Oaks, a private estate in Washington, DC. On a tablet in the garden was inscribed a prophetic motto: “As ye sow, so shall
ye reap.” When the final instrument was accepted by 50 nations on June 26, 1945, everyone knew that it was less than perfect. The Secretary of State reported to President Truman: “What has resulted is a human document with human imperfections but with human hopes and human victory as well.”
We need a new “Dumbarton Oaks” to the 21st Century. On December 23, 1987, our Congress passed a law calling for the appointment by our President of a bipartisan U.S. Commission to Improve the Effectiveness of the United Nations. Commissioners should have been appointed by June 1, 1989. By August 1990 there was still no indication that our President would comply with this law of Congress. Let the voice of the people be heard!
Send a copy of PlanetHood to the President and to your congressional leaders. Tell them you’re tired of delay and indecision. If they get flooded with reminders from the voters, they’ll soon take notice. It is time to act NOW so that the dreams of the U.N. founders may finally become a reality.
We can no longer pretend that we don’t know what needs to be done. How long will It be until a president, prime minister, or general secretary calls for a Conference to Reform the United Nations or an International Constitutional Convention—and invites all nations to send delegates? Here is an opportunity for statesmanship and fame of the highest order. Let us seize this history- making opportunity and accept the challenge to create a more peaceful world.
Like Paul Revere, let’s awaken our neighbors. Let’s give ourselves effective international law, world courts, and enforcement in a safe system of checks and balances. Let’s work continuously to bring about the day when our front lines of defense consist of brigades of international attorneys practicing before a binding world court. Then we’ll have finally secured our ultimate human right to live in dignity in a healthy environment free from the threat of war.
We need a reliable cop on the international corner. Will you help our ungoverned world to create a world system that can work?
You’ll be taking the Fifth Step toward planethood when you play your part in making the U.N. effective for the 21st Century. As a Planet- hood Patriot, you’ll know that you are doing what you can to make your life count. You will have saved yourself, your family, and all of the men, women, and children throughout our beautiful planet – now and for generations to come.
IT DEPENDS ON YOU!
If we want peace, we must reform, restructure and strengthen the United Nations.
– Dr. John Logue, Director Common Heritage Institute, 1985
When we get to the point, as one day we will, that both sides know that in any outbreak of general hostilities, regardless of the element of surprise, destruction will be both reciprocal and complete, possibly we will have sense enough to meet at the conference table with the understanding that the area of armaments has ended and the human race must conform its actions to this truth or die.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President, April 4, 1965
When there is a problem between two small nations, the problem disappears. When there is a problem between a big country and a small country, the little country disappears. When there is a problem between two big countries, the United Nations disappears.
– Victor Belaunde, Peruvian U.N. Ambassador
A Security Council that can be rendered impotent by the vote of one nation obviously cannot begin to guarantee security. A General Assembly that can pass resolutions with the votes of nations representing less than 10 percent of the world’s population, and some 3 percent of the gross world product, will not have, and cannot get, the respect it must have if its decisions are to be taken seriously.
– Dr. John Logue, Director Common Heritage Institute
”A More Effective United Nations” New Jersey Law Journal December 26, 1985
As Secretary General of this organization, with no allegiance except to the common interest, I feel the question must be justifiably be put to the leading nuclear powers: By what right do they decide the fate of all humanity?…No one can expect to escape from the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear war on the fragile structure of our planet. The responsibility assumed by the Great Powers is now no longer to their populations alone; it is to every country and every people, to all of us.
– Javier Perez de Cuellar, U.N. Secretary General December 1984
The cause of the United Nations is inseparable from the cause of peace. But we will not have peace by afterthought. If the United Nations is to survive, those who represent it must bolster it, those who advocate it must submit to it, and those who believe in it must fight for it.
– Norman Cousins, President World Federalist Association
Author, Anatomy of an Illness
The United Nations is an extremely important and useful institution provided the people and governments of the world realize that it is merely a transitional system toward the final goal, which is the establishment of a supranational authority vested with sufficient legislative and executive powers to keep the peace.
– Albert Einstein
World federalists are working for disarmament by seeking the ways to end all use of force in international relations. The only real alternative to war is an international legal system which provides common security for all states through the peaceful and just resolution of disputes according to law. This is vitally important in a world which has nuclear weapons. World federalists believe the test of sincerity of all who claim to want disarmament is their willingness to create and to be bound by a common world law and by agreed procedures for preventing aggression and solving conflicts peacefully.
– World Federalism
World Association for World Federation
We seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system… capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can fully be abolished… This will require a new effort to achieve world law.
– John F. Kennedy, U.S. President
The proposed system of comprehensive security will become operative to the extent that the United Nations, its security council and other international institutions and mechanisms function effectively. A decisive increase is required in the authority and role of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
– Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet General Secretary, address to U. N., September 1987
This planet is in bad political shape and is administered appallingly. An outer-space inspection team would undoubtedly give us an F (failure) or a triple D (dumb, deficient, and dangerous) in planetary management. Our world is afflicted by a good dozen conflicts almost permanently. Its skies, lands, and oceans are infested with atomic weapons which cost humanity 850 billion dollars a year, while so many poor people are dying of hunger on this planet. And yet, I have seen the U.N. become universal and prevent many conflicts. I have seen the dangerous decolonization page turned quickly and with infinitely less bloodshed than in Europe and the Americas in preceding centuries. I have seen a flowering expansion of international cooperation in thirty-two U.N. special agencies and world programs.
– Robert Muller, Former U. N. Assistant Secretary General
There is enough bad people to make world federal government necessary, and there is enough good people to make it work.
– Source Unknown
Many of these proposals may appear unpatriotic or even treasonous to those who identify being patriotic with the worship of American military power… If patriotism is an active concern for one’s freedom, welfare and survival of one’s people, there is no patriotic duty more immediate than the abolition of war as a national right and institution.
Peace or Anarchy
Let us also think about establishing an emergency environmental aid centre within the U.N. Its function would be to promptly dispatch international groups of experts to areas that have experienced a sharp deterioration in the environmental situation.
Soviet General Secretary
Address to the U.N., New York
December 7, 1988
It is dangerous in the most literal sense of the word, when streams of poison flow into the rivers, when toxic rains fall on the earth from the sky, when towns and entire regions are suffocating in an atmosphere saturated with the fumes put out by industry and by vehicles, when the development of nuclear power is accompanied by unacceptable risks.
– Mikhail Gorbachev
Soviet General Secretary
Address to U.N., September 1987
A federation of all humanity, together with a sufficient means of social justice to ensure health, education, and a rough equality of opportunity, would mean such a release and increase of human energy as to open a new phase in human history.
– H.G. Wells
With all the positive news that’s coming from Eastern Europe and the U. S. government about significant nuclear arsenal reductions (as much as 50%), it’s easy to get lulled into complacency about the nuclear arms race. But consider this: the U.S. is still building and testing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. We are still building the ultimate doomsday device known as star Wars. Even with these reductions in our arsenals, U.S. and Soviets will still have enough fire power to blow the world up 5,000 times, not to mention the French, Israeli, or Chinese stockpiles (as well as the rest of the world). And what about all the toxic wastes? Where will the madness end?
– Richard Gold
Eugene Peace Works
The founding of the United Nations embodies our deepest hopes for a peaceful world. And during the past year, we’ve come closer than ever before to realizing those hopes. We’ve seen a century sundered by barbed threats and barbed wire, give way to a new era of peace and competition and freedom. This is a new and different world. Not since 1945 have we seen the real possibility of using the United Nations as it was designed, as a center for international collective security.
– George Bush
U.S. President, October 1, 1990
Address to the United Nations
Environmentalists and politicians can argue the costs and benefits of international action on global warming from now until doomsday, and they probably will. But nothing will get done without an institutional mechanism to develop, institute, and enforce regulations across national boundaries.
– Elliot Richardson
Head of the U. S. Delegation
Law of the Sea Conference
|A 14-POINT PROGRAM for Reforming the United Nations
For more information, write to Campaign for U.N. Reform, 418 Seventh Street, S.E., Washington, DC 20003. Phone: (202) 546-3956
|PRESERVING THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT
Prepared by the World Resources Institute, Washington DC, and the American Assembly, affiliated with Colombia University, founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1950.
Three indivisibly linked global environmental trends together constitute an increasingly grave challenge to the habitability of the earth. They are human population growth; tropical deforestation and the rapid loss of biological diversity; and global atmospheric change, including stratospheric ozone loss and greenhouse warming. These trends threaten nations’ economic potential security therefore their internal political security, their citizen’s health (because of increased ultraviolet radiation), and, in the case of global warming, possibly their very existence. No more basic threat to national security exists. Thus, together with economic interdependence, global environmental threats are shifting traditional national security concerns to a focus on collective global security.
The degradation of the global environment is integrally linked to human population growth. More than 90 million people are added each year – more than ever before. On its present trajectory, the world’s population could nearly triple its current size, reaching 14 billion before stabilizing. With a heroic effort, it could level off at around 9 billion. However, today’s unmet need for family planning is huge: only 30 percent of reproductive age people in the developing world outside of China currently have access to contraception. Women’s full and equal participation in society at all levels must be rapidly addressed.
Tropical deforestation and the loss of a diverse set of species rob the earth of its biological richness, which undermines long-range ecological security and global economic potential. Nearly 20 million hectares of tropical forests are lost every year. Conservative estimates put the extinction rate at one hundred species per day: a rate unmatched since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Escalating human populations, deforestation, disruptions of watersheds, soil loss, and land degradation ate all linked in a vicious cycle that perpetuates and deepens poverty, and often creates ecological refugees.
The depletion of the ozone layer by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) allows increased ultraviolet B radiation from the sun to enter the earth’s atmosphere, threatening human health and the productivity of the biosphere.
There is a scientific consensus that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases will cause global climactic change. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased 25 percent since the beginning of the industrial era.
Therefore, the earth is set to experience substantial climate change of unknown scale and rapidity. The consequences are likely to include sea level rise, greater frequency of extreme weather events, disruption of ecosystems, and potentially vast impacts on the global economy. The processes of climate change are irreversible and major additional releases could be triggered from the biosphere by global warming in an uncontrollable self-reinforcing process (example: methane release from unfrozen Arctic tundra).
We call attention to the immediate need for immediate international action to reverse trends that threaten the integrity of the global environment. These trends endanger all nations in the common interest. Our message is one of urgency. Accountable and courageous leadership in all sectors will be needed to mobilize the necessary effort. If the world community fails to act forcefully in the current decade, the earth’s ability to sustain life is at risk.
Excert from Preserving the Global Environment: A Challenge of Shared Leadership. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990.
 Ecocide is the deliberate destruction of the natural environment, as by pollutants.
 For more information and a videotape on the Binding Triad, write the Center for War/Peace Studies, 218 E. 18th Street, New York, NY 10003. Phone: (212) 475-1077.
 After World War II, the Soviet Union took over Lithuania by military conquest – not the free vote of the people. You will recall that the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787 clearly specified that the vote of the people – not the politicians – was required to join the United States of America. Lithuania’s desire today for independence is not considered aggression.
 Pace Law School in White Plains, New York has a Center for Environmental Legal Studies headed by Professor Nicholas A. Robinson. He teaches lawyers about environmental problems now facing our nation and the world.
 From Effective Global Environmental Protection by Pamela Leonard. Published by World Federalist Association, May 1990.