Join the Campaign to Stop the Killer Coke Company!
This movement is seeking your help stop a gruesome cycle of murders, kidnappings, and torture of Union leaders and organizers involved in daily life-and-death struggles at Coca Cola bottling Plants in Columbia, South America. Hundreds of Coke workers in South America have been illegaly detained, beaten, tortured, and even assasinated because of their attempts to organize and unionize in order to imporve their quality of life. The Coca Cola Company has stood idly by and continue to allow these crimes against humanity to continue because it allows them to pay their South American factory workers minimal wages. Stand Up For our Latim Brothers and sisters. It is up to us to protect them from being exploited by Multinational Corporations. Click on the Picture to find out how you can help.
MARCHA EN EL ESPIRITU DEL GENERAL EMILIANO ZAPATA.
QUIERES AYUDAR A ORGANIZAR LA MARCHA?
ACUDE A LA REUNION ORGANIZATIVA EL PROXIMO JUEVES 18 DE MARZO DESDE LAS 7 PM. EN EL CENTRO DEL FUPA
EN LA CIUDAD DE BELL GARDENS.
DIRECCION: 6320 FLORENCE AVE # F
LA MARCHA SERA EL DIA
SABADO 10 DE ABRIL DE 9 AM A 6 PM.
COMIENZA EN EL 5 PUNTOS LORENA Y CESARM CHAVEZ EN EAST LA
ERES MIEMBRO DE ALGUNA ORGANIZACION Y CREES QUE TU ORGANIZACION O COMITE PUEDE ENDORSAR LA MARCHA.
ERES VENDEDOR DE ARTESANIAS, CAMISETAS O PROPAGANDA Y TE INTERESA TENER UNA MESA EL DIA DEL EVENTO?
ALTO A LA INTERVENCION YANQUI EN IRAK
LICENCIAS PARA TODOS
CUMPLIMIENTO DE LOS ACUERDOS DE SAN ANDRES DEL EZLN
LLAMANOS AL (323)854-2060
The Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles
is recruiting participants for the National School for Strategic Organizing,
a training program for activists who want to build a Left social movement.
With an amnesia hanging over a nation's history of racism, violence against women and colonization, building a grassroots social movement is a necessity. At the Strategy Center, an environmental and social justice "think tank/act tank," we are training organizers to face this challenge.
Organizers-in-training for the Strategy Center will participate in the Bus Riders Union, challenging corporate-driven transit policy and engaged in direct on-the-bus organizing to build a multiracial organization on wheels. Through the BRU and other projects participants in the School will help build economic, political and cultural alternatives and for concrete victories that build a new community and transform the organizer.
We are looking for activists who want to forge a union between Left politics and organizing. We want people who understand the flexibility and patience needed as organizers. We appreciate humility to learn from experienced organizers, bus riders and communities. At the same time, we need people with the initiative and confidence to contribute constructive, innovative ideas to the organization. Participants will be involved in the following:
- Our Flagship organizing campaign, "Fight Transit Racism with the Bus Riders Union" to implement our civil rights legal victory
- Classes on political and organizing theory
Other work in which organizers-in-training may be involved include:
- Global Warming/Climate Justice and Public Health Campaign
- Community Graphics and Make History Media Project
- Organizing Through Political Theatre
- Community Rights Campaign
For further information on applications, deadlines and all aspects of the school please contact Cynthia Rojas.
Applications can be downloaded from www.thestrategycenter.org and are due on March 14, 2004. The program runs from July 1st through December 23, 2004.
National School for Strategic Organizing
3780 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200; Los Angeles, CA 90010
voice: (213) 387-2800 fax: (213) 387-3500
The National School accepts classes of up to 5 students. Applicants with Spanish and/or Korean language proficiency and prior organizing experience are strongly encouraged to apply.
Assistance is provided in the form of:
* A weekly stipend
* A limited number of housing scholarships
* Passes for public transportation
* Healthcare for the duration of the program
The National School for Strategic Organizing is a project of the
Labor/Community Strategy Center, a multiracial, anticorporate think tank/act tank, based in Los Angeles.
The School is rooted in the Strategy Center's long-term organizing campaigns that demand comprehensive, structural and increasingly international solutions to the problems of urban poverty, racism, environmental degradation, and the escalating attacks on workers, women, peoples of color and immigrants
Dear Raza de Aztlán:
The Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) is slated to be Eliminated
by the Governator unless we as Raza make our voices and bodies heard.
The EOP has helped thousands of low-income, primarily students of
color, pursue higher-education. Without these programs, many of us
would not be the successful teachers, lawyers, social workers, doctors,
etc. that we are today. On July 1, 2004, these and other educational
programs will be Eliminated. The end of EOP will affect about 45,000
students statewide, including about 4,200 at Cal State Los Angeles.
A townhall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 4th at 7:00
p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the University Student Union. Your help is
Latin@s Against the War in Iraq is greatly concerned about the recent
actions of the Governator. While we all know what cutbacks he has
announced, we are concerned about the cuts he has not made and which
the media fails to spotlight. Furthermore, with the War in Iraq raging
without an end in sight, it is obviously clear the economic toll this
illegal war is having on our communities. The social and political
ramifications of the cutbacks will be felt for years in our
communities. The time to act is now.
The State Legislative Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan to End
Poverty in Californiais convening a Legislative Hearing on The Impacts
of The Governor's
Proposed Budget on California's working families, children, college
students, home health care workers and patients, the disabled, HIV/AIDS
patients, cancer patients, the poor and our neighborhoods.
FRIDAY, MARCH 5th, 2004
LOS ANGELES VALLEY COLLEGE
5800 Fulton Street
(Between Burbank Blvd. & Oxnard)
10:00 AM PRESS CONFERENCE
11:30 AM HEARING
In hopes of making this hearing as informative as possible, we are
asking all those organizations who have a one page summary and/or
analysis of the impacts of the budget on their constituencies/clients to
forward them to us (email is best) to be used in both a background
paper for the hearing
and to include in an informational packet for the public. Please feel
free to me at any time (818-901-5588) to discuss the hearing.
March 7, 2004, marks ten unrelenting years under the yoke of the brutal 3-strikes law.
We are holding a rally/vigil on March 6th,
to bring attention to the travesty.
The rally/vigil will be held at Leimert Park (corner of Vernon and Crenshaw) to begin at 4:30PM and end at 7:00 PM with a lighting of candles.
We will have drums, songs and spoken word.
If you have someone suffering under the law, please bring us a picture of your loved one, blown up (staples or Kinko's). Bring it to the office and we will laminate it for you.
Buried alive under the Three Strikes Law. We plan to turn Leimert Park into a cemetary with mock graves. The graves will have pictures of our loved ones
1994 * 2004
This can be very dramatic if we can show enough faces. Please help us put the pain of Three Strikes on the map during the period of the 10th anniversary.
Call our office for directions, information, or to get involved: 213/746-4844
"Yo quiero Human Rights!"
Unfortunately the boycott of Taco Bell continues as they continue to
deny their responsibility for the human rights and labor abuses of the
farmworkers who pick the tomatoes in their supply chain.
So, for the third year we are coming back to the Southern California
area. This year we are planning a 3-day, 44-mile march from East LA to
Irvine where Taco Bell's headquarters is located from March 2-4.
We hope to count on your support along the way as well as at our mass
rally on March 5 from 12-2pm. We are planning to have some great
music, speakers, and political theater this year.
A group of organizers including a couple of the farmworkers themselves
are already out in Southern California to prepare for the event in
March. We would love to meet with you, the organizations you work
with, etc to update you on the conditions of farmworkers on the East
Coast, the Taco Bell boycott, and the upcoming march, or even just to
drop by some flyers. If you are interested, please drop me an email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 239-986-0891.
It is always exciting for us to be a part of such and active and
dynamic community of artists and activists working for another world,
even if we're only around for a few months each year. Thanks again
for your support in the past and we look forward to seeing you again
Julia, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Announcing: The 2004 Taco Bell Truth Tour, taking the TRUTH of
exploitation behind the fast-food giant's profits to Taco Bell's
corporate headquarters in Irvine, CA, and Louisville, KY!
Key Dates: Feb. 27th, 2004 -- Protest and Rally at Yum Brands (Taco
Bell's parent company) in Louisville, KY
March 2-4 -- March from East LA to Irvine, CA, home of Taco Bell's
March 5 -- Noon to 12pm Rally at Taco Bell headquarters, Irvine, CA
-- music, speakers, political theater, and more!
Contact: For details on how you can join Immokalee workers on the 2004
tour: email us at email@example.com
Background: The fruits and vegetables we eat are produced, almost
without exception, in a world virtually unknown to US consumers. It is
a world hidden from our view by the bright neon logos of the fast-food
giants and the shining rows of neatly stacked produce lining the aisles
of WalMart supercenters from Miami to LA.
It is also a world of extreme exploitation and human rights violations.
In September, 2003, the Miami Herald published the results of an
extensive investigation of farm labor conditions in Florida's fields in
a Special Report, entitled "Fields of Despair." In the editorial that
accompanied the report, the Herald wrote, "Drinking a glass of orange
juice or eating lunch at a fast-food restaurant doesn't automatically
conjure up images of exploited farmworkers toiling in dusty fields like
indentured servants. But a connection between the two is an unpleasant
reality in Florida. The orange juice that accompanies your breakfast
eggs and the tomatoes in that salad may well be the product of a
process that begins with servitude -- some call it slavery -- that
decent people abhor."
Organized farmworkers from Immokalee, Florida, the state's largest
farmworker community, brought those conditions to the attention of Taco
Bell, one of the largest buyers of Florida tomatoes, in early 2000.
One year later, with no answer from the fast-food giant, the Coalition
of Immokalee Workers (CIW) called for a national boycott of Taco Bell,
demanding that the multi-billion dollar corporation recognize its role
in the exploitation of farmworkers who pick its produce and take steps
to clean up human rights violations in its supply chain.
Since then, the Taco Bell Boycott has become one of the fastest growing
movements for social justice in the country, and the Immokalee workers
have received national recognition for their work drawing the links
between corporate profits and farmworker poverty. In 2002, a caravan
of workers crossed the country in the first-ever "Taco Bell Truth
Tour," culminating in a massive march and rally at Taco Bell
headquarters in Irvine, CA. Last year, 75 workers and allies held an
unprecedented 10-day hunger strike outside Taco Bell's headquarters.
This past November, three CIW members received the 2003 Robert F.
Kennedy Human Rights Award for their work fighting modern-day slavery
and their leadership of the Taco Bell Boycott.
With public attention to the modern-day slavery and sweatshop
conditions in Florida's fields at an all-time high, this year's action
promises to be the most powerful yet in this growing, grassroots
campaign. The highlight of the 2004 Tour will be a three-day march,
from East LA to Irvine. From March 2-4, Immokalee workers will be
joined by allies from across the country on the 40-mile march, taking
the boycott to millions of consumers on Southern California streets.
The march will culminate in a huge, day-long rally on March 5th -- a
political, musical, cultural festival that will shake the foundations
of a fast-food industry built on the exploitation of workers and
Join us in Louisville and LA and as we ring the Bell for justice in
2004! Again, for more details on how you can join Immokalee workers on
the 2004 tour: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
|La Lucha Continua!
Global Democracy Without Hypocrisy:
We Must Reactivate and Reform the United Nations
As an Effective Alternative to Bushs Foreign Policy
By John Dale
Dear Activists for a Better Global Future:
There can be no doubt that a very basic change is needed in US foreign policy. That change is, IMO, to commit the United States to reactivate and constructively reform the United Nations and to strengthen its role in world society. The rest of this essay elaborates on this theme, particularly in light of the need for support for UN reform on the part of leaders of religious thought in light of what I call global spirituality.
A number of UN and UN reform web sites are also provided at the end for further follow-up.
Yours for global democracy without hypocrisy,
PS: If you would like a Word copy of this document as an attachment, please contact me.
Introduction: Global Spirituality and US Foreign Policy
The United States is currently an 800-pound gorilla on the world stage. Its behavior thus determines, to a large degree, the shape of the global future. But the US is not immune to or isolated from that future; that future feeds back to affect the US itself. On a sphere, things that go around, come around, and things we do wrongly now to the rest of the global community will come back to plague us as well.
Currently, US foreign policy is creating the wrong kind of future for Planet Earth: a future of double standards for world human rights and economic well being, one standard for the super-rich and those in control and another for the rest of us who are already in or sliding toward poverty and non-democracy. Under its current policies, the US is creating a future of global domination by the economic and military strength of one country alone and by one elite class within that country -- in short, a future that is not in line with global spirituality.
Global spirituality is universal spirituality applied to life on our planet. It is the holy and holistic spirit of honoring All That Is, of respecting the interdependent web of the world which holds all things together in reciprocal maintenance and dynamic equilibrium. It is the spirit of extending that honoring to our planet and to the life of all living creatures on it. It is the spirit of protecting our biosphere so that it will support future generations.
Religiously, it is the essence of the universal and dedicated benevolence cultivated by scriptural ethics in all constructive religions. It is the spirit of a world community in which nobody has a monopoly on truth and everyones ideas and dignity and rights are loved and respected, above and beyond any secondary theology. It is the theology of respect for beauty and possible truth from whatever sources they may shine.
Politically, it is the radiant spirit of being the best global citizens we can be, of everyone bridging out from themselves to meet the rest of humanity at least half way, the spirit of one for all and all for one at the global level, the spirit of even preferring others to oneself, the spirit of self-sacrifice for achieving solutions for the global problems that currently threaten humanity. It is the spirit of making sure that nobody is left behind, not just in the US but anywhere, the spirit of love and care and willing cooperation above and beyond national borders for creating a sustainable and equitable future, the spirit of redressing the deep injustices that divide and oppress humanity.
Overall, we can think politically of global spirituality as the spirit of global democracy without hypocrisy.
Given the 800-pound gorilla, and seen in light of its future benefits for everyone, bringing about a global democracy without hypocrisy reform of US foreign policy stands revealed as a pre-eminent spiritual duty of all citizens everywhere. Whoever can do something to promote it, must try to do so. We owe it to ourselves and to the future welfare of the entire planet.
To lead the way, to begin to help tame the 800-pound US gorilla and to channel its energy into a constructive, safer, more democratic, and more law-abiding future for everyone, we the Member Persons of the world community of the United Nations -- must first become serious about establishing ourselves as spiritually positive, democratic activists for global change. We must assert our individual inherent identity as world citizens and our sovereign ability to govern ourselves accordingly. We must pledge our allegiance to saving the future and commit ourselves to creating a global democracy without hypocrisy of people with similar aims and with positive common interests that transcend the privileges of any one national government. In the realm of spirit we must become global democrats, and then, in the realm of manifestation, we must begin to create and participate in forms of global self-government that can work for and spread democratically to everyone.
In essence, it is vital that we citizens world-wide of constructive ethical and religious faith begin now to assimilate a new vision of ourselves and our governing role in the world and to actively put forward to our own leaders, and particularly to the American people and government, and particularly to US religious leaders, a specific vision of a new US foreign policy that will:
* recommit the full constructive weight of the 800-pound United States gorilla to supporting and strengthening the United Nations process of global self-government;
* work legally and through the reformed United Nations for the enhancement of universal civil and political rights, and global economic, social, cultural, and ecological well being; and
* put an end to the US hypocrisy, self-privileging, and double standards in foreign policy that are currently polarizing the world community and heading it down the wrong path.
The remainder of this essay outlines in greater detail the problems of current US foreign policy and the specific core change that would begin to align the US with global democracy without hypocrisy. The change would take place and be formalized at a global conference to be convened in 2005, the 60th anniversary of the United Nations. It would consist of the adoption of specific constructive reforms of the United Nations Charter and its system of self-government and of a profound recommitment on the part of Member Citizens and all Member States, particularly the US, to the spiritual, political, legal, and financial health of the United Nations, by which I include of all of us and the system by which we together create the future.
We Must Reactivate and Reform the United Nations
As an Effective Alternative to Bush's Foreign Policy
Negative World Perceptions of Current US Foreign Policy
The world-wide perception of arrogance and hypocrisy in current United States foreign policy -- in its de facto abandonment of the United Nations and its exporting democracy to Iraq through preemptive warfare outside the framework of international law, to name only one instance -- has created an impasse in progress toward channeling global political will into constructive efforts to solve major global problems. This perception has alienated US allies and created a deepening culture of resistance and hatred toward the US. It has aroused worldwide popular demonstrations unprecedented in human history. In the US itself, this perception has given formidable ammunition to the political opposition in the upcoming US election. Coupled with the enormous federal deficits incurred as part of this foreign policy, it is increasingly causing even Republicans to wonder whether there isnt a better way.
Of course there is a better way a way that reflects and embraces the spirit of global community and of the global communitys current overall, inclusive institution for self-government: the United Nations.
Current US Foreign Policy, Iraq, and the Pursuit of Global Democracy
It is spiritually in keeping with the inherent dignity of every individual citizen or Member Person of the United Nations for a UN Member State to want to help spread democracy and human rights around the world and to bring an end to brutal dictatorships. For all or most Member States to work vigorously and peacefully together to help bring this about is entirely constructive and uplifting. This is in fact the aim of the United Nations process for global self-government.
But this is not how the US has been proceeding.
In its build-up for unilateral invasion of Iraq, the United States, based on its good intelligence about the imminent threat of Iraqs alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), deliberately ignored (1) the existence of alternative, less violent methods under the United Nations Charter for achieving political change in Iraq, including the UN weapons inspections that were already in progress, and (2) its ethical and legal duty to pursue such methods. UN weapons inspections could have been vastly expanded. Other UN inspections on problems such as human rights and humanitarian aid distribution could have been instituted. In conjunction with these, the US could have initiated systematic legal actions through an international criminal tribunal under the Security Council. Based on the results of the inspections and their implications for international peace and security, the US could have initiated moves through the Security Council to put Iraq under a UN humanitarian or international peace and security trusteeship.
But the United States did none of these things. Instead, it ignored world legal opinion, which vehemently opposed its proposed actions, and deliberately never sought the advance advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.
Following this, the US launched its invasion and occupied Iraq, which by pure coincidence was also geopolitically strategic to US interests and the second-most oil rich country on Earth. Then, when surprise! -- no WMDs were found in Iraq after the invasion even by the US itself, the US attempted to justify the war as part of 9/11 and the war against terror , and then on humanitarian grounds to eliminate a brutal dictatorship, and then as part of democratizing the Middle East. (Later President Bush had to admit publicly that there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11.)
In relation to humanitarianism, the invasion and occupation of Iraq have caused the death of a currently estimated 10,000 Iraqi civilians. US actions have fanned worldwide flames of religious and political fanaticism against the US and thereby weakened the war against terrorism. And prospects for democracy in Iraq, given the conditions in Iraq itself and the extreme feelings on the part of US opponents, remain problematic, to say the least. (The same prognosis holds for Afghanistan.)
If this were baseball, three strikes and the US would be out!
If only the US had worked within the United Nations, the Security Council in effect could have put Iraq under a temporary United Nations trusteeship, choked off the murderous dictatorship with minimum loss of life, and, with the aid of neighboring states, helped the people of Iraq to recover their health and their human rights. Such concerted UN actions would also have set a very powerful precedent for possible use in other dictatorial situations.
The approach taken by the United States has created problems at the global level not only spiritually, legally, and politically; it is also creating a global economic problem. Pursuing the above-mentioned alternative UN measures could have saved US taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and prevented a skyrocketing US federal deficit. Abandoning the United Nations and failing to make it work not only put a spiritual taint on the US leaders responsible for these failures but place an enormous future economic burden on the lower and middle classes in the United States and in other countries as well certainly not the mark of a wise or compassionate conservatism. Bottom line: pitting US strength against the spirit of global community and the due process of global self-government has been and will be detrimental not only in Iraq and the Middle East and to the US economy, it will also divert talent, time, attention, and money away from solving other pressing global problems such as AIDS, global warming, pollution, and the rapid extinction of thousands of species of life. All of humanity and the entire global system will suffer.
None of is a slam at any genuine effort to improve human rights and to end all dictatorships. On the contrary, the world movement for progressive democracy and human rights should indeed go forward. But the US has clearly led the world down the wrong path as to how these aims should be pursued.
Other US Foreign Policy Failures
Iraq is simply the most egregious example of the failure of US foreign policy to align itself with global spirituality. Other recent examples:
* the active effort of the US to undermine the newly created International Criminal Court;
* interference with the international criminal tribunal prosecuting war crimes in Eastern Europe;
* the repudiation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty;
* obstruction of the application of the Geneva Conventions to the Palestinians;
* obstruction of progress toward strengthening the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions and the Anti-Torture Convention;
* obstruction of the UNs global conference on sustainable development;
* obstruction of the UN World Summit on the Information Society, and;
* a total failure to do anything significant about improving the gas mileage of US motor vehicles, which has reached an all-time low for recent decades and which not only depletes a non-renewable resource but contributes to global climate change.
* Led backward by the US, the international community is also far from meeting its Millennium Goals for abating world hunger and poverty, ensuring adequate global education, combating diseases, etc. Instead of pursuing these obvious human benefits, the US does things like proposing to research and design new kinds of nuclear weapons and illegally placing weapons in outer space.
It is not, unfortunately, an exaggeration to say that the current US government behavior toward the rest of the world community is simply sociopathic and fails to connect with reality. The overall urgent task now objectively facing us as citizens of the global community, which US foreign policy is not addressing and behind which the United States must instead throw its whole constructive weight, is to make a decisive transition in the next few years toward a sustainable global future. This task includes:
* creating an ecologically sustainable world economy powered by renewable energy and fair to all,
* global control and reduction of weapons of mass destruction, and
* movement toward effective global democratic self-government and an end to both State- and non-State terrorism of all kinds.
These are each by itself an enormous task, but unfortunately these tasks cannot be taken separately. They must also be coordinated and undertaken in a coherent, simultaneous way. We the Citizens of the United States and of the United Nations must therefore begin to work together for a future that works for all of us. We must positively pre-empt warfare and dictatorial evil by beginning to act under the guidance of the spirit of genuine democratic world community. We must begin to protect our universal human rights, including our right to international peace and security, through universal political and legal institutions, and similarly we must protect our biosphere against those who are destroying its ability to provide for future generations.
Global Spirituality and the Upcoming US Election
But we are running out of time. Decisive movement towards a viable future must begin now. The upcoming American election is an election with enormous global implications. It is the worlds American election and Americas vote on the shape of the global future. Everyone on Earth will feel the impact of this election, but only a few will be able to directly, by their vote, determine its outcome.
Thus the need is great to get the word out to Americans about global spirituality and its connection with reform of and recommitment to the United Nations. However badly the United Nations may have worked on occasion, it is wrong to abandon it, as present US policy has done. Instead, based on positive global spirituality, we must all, as de facto Citizens of the United Nations, become informed about the affirmative United Nations role in global democratic self-government, and we must have a plan to strengthen that affirmative role and to do whatever it takes to make the UN work.
The core US attitude that must change first is a reversal of unilateralism and political self-privileging. Without this, nothing else can change.
The narrow, arrogant, self-privileging vision of a so-called New American Century of global US domination must be repudiated prior to the election and broadened into the vision of a New Global Human Community of respect for dignity and human rights a century of US cooperation in helping to build a sustainable global future through peaceful, democratic means, a century of global democracy without hypocrisy.
Based on that change of attitude, the United States must commit its full constructive weight to the United Nations and to affirmative regenerating and re-energizing the UNs mission in world society.
The United Nations was set up by the US and the Allied powers at the end of World War II as an enlightened harmonizer and inspirer of nations towards coordinated benevolence. It began a new era in human history. Since then, the UN has saved hundreds of millions of lives through political reconciliation efforts and humanitarian work. Its efforts for refugees and natural disaster relief, for women and children, for the environment and world public health, and to strengthen and protect universal human rights and democracy, and its ongoing programs for human betterment such as the Millennium Goals, the Global Compact, the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace, the Global Movement for Children all point the way toward a sustainable, peaceful, and better future for all humanity, a future the US must embrace in its totality. Despite failures of the Member States to finance the UN adequately and to fulfill the promise of the UN, the good it has already brought to humanity has been incalculable.
Reframing the Resistance
But there will be resistance to regenerating and re-energizing the United Nations, and activists must learn how to frame their programs and the resistance they will encounter into win-win dialogues and action.
The fact is that human life has become globally interdependent. In reality, we are global dual citizens: citizens of both our countries and of the entire planet.
Psychologically and politically speaking, however, our identities, affiliations, and citizenship loyalties are still largely trapped inside the box of the nation-state. We do not vote as citizens of the United Nations as a whole, nor do we pay taxes or serve in international peacekeeping as citizens at the global level. Failure of the Member States to formally globalize our citizenship in the United Nations and to assign definite functions to that citizenship creates a loyalty gap between our loyalty to the part and our loyalty to the whole. But loyalties which focus on a small national part of humanity to the negative exclusion of the global community distort the emotions of love and unity. They are out of line with global spirituality and a source of resistance to the United Nations.
Secondly, most people are factually challenged about how self-government currently works at the global level and how, through a reformed UN, it could work better. This distorts their cognition of cause and effect in the global system.
These distortions create suspicions and resistance to the mission of the United Nations and to re-energizing that mission. They add up to mass tendencies affecting politics, religion, education, and entertainment. I will deal in main with the first two.
1. Reframing Negative Politics. Based on these influences, leaders in certain national governments have very often neglected or even scorned the UN and have failed to put their full weight behind UN programs. They have acted against enlightened self-interest and against the global benefit of the Citizens of the United Nations. They have failed in the public schools to educate their citizens about the global spiritual aims of the United Nations, about the UN as the main tool for creating world community, and about the global ethical and civic duty to support and strengthen that tool to help it accomplish its mission.
They have thus initiated a downward spiral of negative political viewpoints that has blocked humanitys progress toward realizing its full democratic spiritual potential. As a result, the full benefits of global community through the UN have not only not yet been realized, on the contrary, humanity finds itself threatened with a dozen lethal crises which must be solved together through united and simultaneous effort. United States political leadership in solving these problems is vital, but the United States cannot unilaterally replace the collective role played by the United Nations in a democratic world community; the US must instead support and strengthen the UN role through reforms that make the UN work better to bring about democracy and other human benefits.
3. Reframing Negative Religion. The problem is not just in political leaders but also in their followers, and not just within politics but also religion -- the very sector of human society that should logically be doing the most to help us avoid and get out of our global predicament.
Religion and global civics should be walking hand-in-hand. They are not. Positive religious education about the aims, the importance, the structure, and the functioning of the United Nations has, unfortunately, reached an all-time low in the United States.
Instead, the United Nations -- this most hopeful seed of a democratic and enlightened world spiritual community, this child of a formerly enlightened (and Democratic) US global policy, this sign of what prophets world-wide have envisioned as the coming of the so-called Kingdom of God on Earth currently suffers from vast and systematic religious neglect and even attack. Instead of being critically supported and constructively re-energized, the UN is now perversely maligned in certain religious quarters as an incarnation of the Anti-Christ or at least as a threat to divinely guided unilateral US national sovereignty.
Other influences contribute to this or result from it:
* Ninety-nine percent of what the UN actually does is not covered by the US commercial or religious media.
* The entertainment industry rarely if ever dramatically portrays the United Nations and its often heroic efforts to better the human condition. Instead, it spirals the public downwards towards increasing violence and global civic idiocy.
But what are religious leaders and interfaith groups doing about this?
During both Republican and Democratic administrations, failures of the United States to pay its dues to the UN in a timely way have several times almost bankrupted the Organization. Under the current administration, the United Nations is openly threatened with irrelevance. Yet the voices of religious protest against these globally anti-spiritual behaviors are few and far between, and current efforts to actively reverse them in a coordinated, interfaith manner are weak.
It is wrong and extremely dangerous for these trends to continue. Under the influence of a positive global spirituality, religions and interfaith organizations must organize and educate their followers in Global Ethics 101. Focusing on the US governments crucial role in the world, they should emphasize that:
* The US government must recommit its strength to the United Nations.
* It must promise that the UN will be substantially modified and made financially, politically, and legally able to carry out its many good missions and to secure a sustainable future for everyone.
* It must again inform the public and the media about the aims and principles of the UN and how its policies are consistent with them.
Religions must not only advocate that the US government perform its proper role; they themselves need to clean house, theologically speaking, and reframe the issues. The basic reframing contrasts human theological fantasy with scientific facts and actual scriptural ethics. Examples:
* Massive energies are currently being put by some religious groups into apocalyptic theologies that mischaracterize the aims of the United Nations and make them seem opposed to Christianity. Activists must be able to constructively harness these energies and the positive desires for justice and goodness that such concerns demonstrate. They must praise the concern for the Good and the anxiety about injustice, and they must show the actual facts of what the UNs aims are and what the UN actually does as helping to reverse global injustice. The UN is imperfect, but it is not diabolical. It works for human rights, not against them. It needs constructive criticism and reform, not extreme or totally baseless hatred. Christians who hate the UN are clearly not doing what Jesus would ethically have them do.
* Activists should also point to the worldwide scriptural ethics of love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. True scriptural spirituality is the ethics of global community. In contrast to the subjective human interpretations of symbolic, esoteric, and apocalypotic scriptural material, which can never be completely proved or disproved, these basic axioms of global scriptural ethics are the same in every religion. In this, all religions are -- or should be -- partners working for human betterment.
* Activists should add to this the ethical fact that when humanity's global house is on fire, so to speak, it is not the time for disunity and theological fantasy-fiction but for global action to put out the fire and to build a new and better house.
* Many Christians tremble at the scenario of a future, literal, all powerful "one-world government," as well they should. They see the UN as the possible precursor of such a government and the UN Secretary General as a possible precursor of a globally charismatic anti-Christ figure. But in doing so, they get things upside down and backwards.
o They fail to see the diabolical world government that is actually already there: the Member States of the United Nations acting in spiritual disunity or failing to act at all while global problems multiply. The UN Organization and staff, on the other hand, are trying to solve global problems.
o They fail to see that spiritual disunity which is what Satan is all about in theological theory -- is the problem and that global spiritual unity aiming at the Good beyond forms and specific creedal differences, global spiritual unity acting righteously and ethically to save the future in face of the emergency facing the human habitat, is the basis of the realistic solution.
* They also fail to see that the United Nations Organization is not -- NOT -- a top-down super-government or a sinister crypto-dictatorship. It is an institution of the human self-government process at the global level. It is a facilitator of consensus and of human rights, of disarmament, of creating a sustainable future, and of national government cooperation in realizing these good and right aims. The UN is also a place where people look at the future from a global perspective. It is a tool by which human beings can then choose the future they want.
* "One world" of full and equal human rights and human dignity, far from representing an anti-Christian, or -Jewish, or -Islamic aim, or a false religion, or the outright secular replacement of religion, is the very essence of what worldwide religious tradition, prophecy, and social aspiration all point to. It is the Kingdom of God on Earth, the polishing of the material realm to mirror forth the spiritual. This is the aim and the justification of the United Nations, which must as an organization remain neutral as regards theology.
* One world of flagrant injustice is what we have; one world of justice and human dignity is what we want. In the final analysis, there is indeed only one world out there: the Citizens and Peoples of the United Nations governing themselves as best they know how in ways that can be spiritually better or worse, more or less based on democracy and human rights.
* The only question is: what form of self-government shall we choose and how shall we best proceed? Global self-government guided by the holy spirit of justice, democracy, and human dignity is the aim we are all moving toward. Soap opera theologies that delay or spiritually disable that movement are negative. Responsible theologies that promote it are positive.
* The return of Jesus in either a spiritual or literal sense must be connected with global spirituality, or else it would be empty of meaning. Even if Jesus were to literally return, what would you prefer that He find you engaged in: the universal ethical work of the Father for human betterment, or idly indulging yourself in human speculation?
The other half of the "Anti-Christ United Nations" idea is its frequent companion: that the United States -- and for some reason only the United States (and maybe Israel) -- is "divinely guided" in some sense that transcends or even contradicts the basic divine ethics taught by all religions that all nations should follow. The US has a special mission in its foreign policies that exempts it from the ethical standards that reason would hold up for everyone else.
* Questions: Why does God not guide the 190 other Member States of the United Nations? Why the need for a special mission? If all governments acted ethically, why would there need to be a special mission? Conclusion: the special mission notion is antithetical to world community and to scriptural ethics.
* Talk about the threat of the UN to allegedly divinely guided US unilateralism and national sovereignty can be reframed by a focus on the spiritually universal ethics of movement toward global democracy without hypocrisy and toward universal political compliance with UN legal standards of human rights.
o A concept of unilateral national sovereignty which permits rogue leaders to commit massive injustice and violations of human rights under allegations of personal divine guidance is self-evidently psychopathic and contrary to the spirit of inclusive and participatory world community. It must be replaced by a concept of national sovereignty in line with justice and human rights and the objective scriptural ethics of "love thy neighbor as thyself.
o The purpose of secular sovereignty, religions must point out, is to bring about justice and the globalization of human rights and dignity, which is the essential foundation of any desirable future.
o The United Nations, which represents the welfare and dignity interests of the entire global community, does not threaten national sovereignty but keeps such sovereignty from becoming criminal by defining through consensus or democratic vote the universal minimum standards of human rights which all national self-government systems or sovereignties must enforce.
o Among those standards, as enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the axiom that the will of the people constitutes the basis of the authority of government the basic axiom of democracy.
o Human rights, justice, respect, democracy, and positive spirituality all flow into one another. They are inextricable. In the global self-government context, the United Nations promotes or should promote -- national sovereignty and self-government in line with these qualities. The sovereignty, universal human rights, and equal dignity under the law of all the citizens of the United Nations i.e., their global spiritual integrity -- are what the whole UN organization is -- or should be -- set up to achieve.
To kick off the process of overcoming resistance and of recommitting the US to the United Nations, Democrats and a ground-swell of global spiritual activists at every level should call for the scheduling of a global review conference on the operations and Charter of the United Nations in 2005, the UNs 60th anniversary.
The time to start this call is now, during the US 2004 pre-election campaigns, to give it the most visibility and to begin to gain international public support.
To call intelligently for US recommitment to the UN and for changes in the United Nations, spiritual activists need to know where the UNs problems are and what to do about them.
Policy Measures to Make the UN Work
Reforms of the UN Security Council.
1. Need for a Supermajority World Community Override of the Veto Power. The veto power of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council is objectively undemocratic and is perceived widely as having been consistently abused. On current Middle East issues Iraq and Israel/Palestine US vetoes to prevent or undermine UN involvement and enforcement are widely perceived as the very reason this region continues to be the worlds major source of tensions. Many countries have called for the total abolition of the veto. A compromise would be to change the UN Charter to give the UN General Assembly the power to override a veto in the Security Council by a weighted supermajority vote, say 85 percent. (One method of weighting of the vote is described below.) Just as the US Congress can override a presidential veto, so too should the world community be able to democratically override a veto in the Security Council.
2. Representation and Ethical Criteria for Council Membership. The membership of the Security Council is not democratically representative of the world community. Major countries like India, Japan, Brazil, and Germany are not permanent members. Nor does membership, either permanent or temporary, represent a countrys conformity with UN human rights or other global moral or legal standards. Solutions include:
a. to allow the General Assembly to democratically override a veto in the Council, as mentioned above;
b. to increase the number of Council members to better represent the world community;
c. to strengthen a regional approach to international peace and security in certain areas;
d. to eliminate all permanent membership on the Council; and
e. to make all Council memberships dependent instead on:
i. acceptance of the mandatory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (see below);
ii. acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (see below);
iii. actual contributions to UN Security Council enforcement or prevention operations; and
iv. a good record of ratification and implementation of international human rights, arms control, and biosphere protection treaties, as judged by the General Assembly.
In this way Council membership would represent democratic and moral virtue in line with military and economic strength and not mere strength alone. The perception that the US operates on mere strength alone is pernicious to US/world relations, and in fact the US itself has proposed human rights records as one criterion for membership on certain UN bodies.
3. A Permanent UN Rapid Deployment Force and a Post-Conflict UN Civilian Police Force.
Genocides such as the one in 1994 in Rwanda could have been prevented if the Council had at its disposal a standing rapid deployment force for quick responses to emergency situations. Also, in post-conflict situations, a civilian UN police force is needed to restore and maintain law and order while the nation in question restabilizes. No Charter change is necessary: simply the political will of the Members. There is current proposed US legislation for these proposals that needs activist support. (See the Campaign for UN Reform, below: http://www.cunr.org.)
4. Consolidation of Efforts to Curb Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The Security Council needs to assume a much more active oversight of the multiple treaties for non-proliferation and reduction of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction. It needs to create a mandatory WMD-free zone in the Middle East. It is absurd that all countries are not already under orders from the Security Council to ratify and implement arms control and reduction treaties under international supervision. It is absurd that national leaders who continue to promote weapons of mass destruction or to resist UN WMD inspections are not labeled as international criminals. If the US had a will on this issue, there would a way to realize the aim.
5. Broadening the Jurisdiction of the Council.
Maintaining international peace and security the main task of the Council under the UN Charter -- can no longer be limited to preventing or countering outright military aggression. Large-scale economic, ecological, and social violations of human rights and of biospheric integrity must also be brought under the enforcement jurisdiction of the Council. This can be done through either informal interpretations of the Charter among Council members or through Charter revision and in linkage with other UN agencies and the International Criminal Court. See, e.g., Benjamin Ferencz, New Legal Foundations for Global Survival: Security Through the Security Council, http://www.benferencz.org.
Putting the full weight of the United States behind such reforms of the Security Council would create a world-wide democratic political and legal will for UN inspection and enforcement in situations involving human rights, arms control, and the global environment. Through this collective approach to strengthening the Council, the world can indeed achieve international peace and security and rid itself of terrorism and mass murderers such as Saddam Hussein.
Reforms of the UN General Assembly.
1. Weighted Voting.
The current one-nation/one-vote system, while reflecting the equality of nations before the law, is undemocratic and politically unrealistic in terms of making and respecting the law. Currently, minor or procedural issues are decided in the General Assembly by a simple 50-percent majority and important issues by a two-thirds majority. But in either of these majorities, tiny nations with 500,000 people have the same voting weight as China, India, Russia, or the United States, each with hundreds of millions of people. The UN voting system needs to be weighted to reflect national population and actual contributions to the UN budget. One possibility is the so-called Binding Triad method proposed by Richard Hudson of the Center for War/Peace Studies in New York, http://www.cwps.org
2. Weighted Supermajority Votes Should Be Internationally Binding.
In return, important UN General Assembly resolutions (two-thirds majority) need to have a more binding global quality, and the Assembly needs to be able specifically, through an extraordinary supermajority weighted vote (say 85 percent), as proposed above, to democratically override a veto in the Security Council.
Involving the Citizens of the UN in the UN: A Peoples Democratic Assembly.
As the world moves increasingly toward democratic forms of self-government, it makes more and more sense to give democratically elected representatives of the Peoples of the United Nations a focal point or organ within the General Assembly or the UN system. World-wide groups of elected members of national legislatures such as Parliamentarians for Global Action, http://www.pgaction.org, or the Inter-Parliamentary Union, http://www.ipu.org, along with citizen-supported Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), should be given a heightened consultative and proposal-making status within the UN.
Expanding the UNs Partnerships.
Partnerships with global business, such as the current Global Compact, need also to be strengthened. A global partnership with entertainment and art is now being created, and a global partnership with religions is also very much needed.
Reforms of the International Court of Justice.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is vastly under-utilized and under-respected, and its jurisdiction is too limited and weak. The US needs to be concerned with world perceptions of its actions; for example, in Iraq, it could have at least requested an ICJ advisory opinion. Instead, the US ignored the Court.
1. The Jurisdiction of the Court Must Be Compulsory. It is absurd for national governments to be able to avoid an international court of global law. Under the Reagan administration, unfortunately, the US withdrew from the so-called compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ when the Court found the US guilty of mining the harbors of Nicaragua. The US must return to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, and membership on the UN Security Council or even in the UN itself must be made dependent on acceptance of the ICJs compulsory jurisdiction.
2. The Jurisdiction of the Court Must Be Enlarged. Basically all international inter-governmental organizations and United Nations organs and agencies should be able to put cases in front of the Court. Currently only States can do so. All should be able to request an advisory opinion from the ICJ; currently only some can do so.
Reversing US Attacks on the International Criminal Court.
The USs active attempts to undermine the new International Criminal Court (ICC) are widely seen internationally as a scandal and a reversal of US commitments to international law. The aim of the ICC is to bring heads of state and leaders of governments under the rule of international human rights law, so that no government or person is above the law of human rights. People who try to commit genocide or other massive violations of human rights need to be tried and punished by the ICC as the criminals they are. The whole basic aim of the ICC is to depoliticize human rights and to make them a stronger and stronger objective part of global democratic self-government. The US attempt to immunize itself from this court reflects very poorly on US comprehension of or respect for this aim.
Reforming Financial Support of the United Nations.
All the above political and legal reforms of the United Nations need to be accompanied by financial reform. Given the enormous global needs of humanity, and compared with the worlds enormous military budget, the UN is criminally under-funded. As a result, UNICEF estimates that 30,000 to 40,000 children per day die around the world from easily preventable causes such as lack of food, clean water, and even minimal medication. The zero-growth limit imposed on the UN regular budget by the United States for the last several years minimizes the UNs effectiveness, which then tends to generate excuses for further US unilateralism an unnecessary and dangerous negative spiral.
Independent sources of income for the UN such as the so-called Tobin Tax a minuscule international tax on international currency speculation should be implemented to prevent the whole UN system from being able to be the financial hostage of the United States and to begin to give to the UN the resources which in any case it so desperately needs to create a sustainable future for all of us -- a future free of weapons of mass destruction, free of massive injustice, and free of global threats to the biosphere. The UN budget is not a problem as long as the money is being spent to help the human future. The UN budget must be managed, yes, but not choked to death.
Further Informational Resources
The following are some resources that spiritual activists can use to learn about the United Nations and to follow up on the above brief list of UN reform ideas.
United Nations Headquarters: http://www.un.org. This is place to learn about the UN, how it works, etc. It has material suitable for school children at UN CyberSchoolBus.
Renewing the United Nations: A Programme for Reform: Report of the Secretary-General. http://www.unog.ch/archives/reform/intro.htm.
United Nations News: http://www.un.org/News/ . The commercial media ignore 99 percent of what goes on at the UN. Subscribing directly to UN news is the only way to learn what the UN really does to help humanity. Another free source of UN news culled from what the media does report is UN Wire: http://www.unwire.org.
United Nations System Locator: http://www.unsystem.org. This will guide you to all the UN agencies and programs.
United Nations Global Movement for a Culture of Peace: http://www3.unesco.org/iycp/. See also, http://www.culture-of-peace.info. See also, http://cpnn-usa.org/learn/globalmovement.html.
The United Nations and Business: http://www.un.org/partners/business/index.asp.
The United Nations Global Compact: Human Rights, Labor, Environment: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/Portal/Default.asp.
The United Nations and Civil Society: http://www.un.org/partners/civil_society/home.htm.
Campaign for United Nations Reform: http://www.cunr.org. A vital organization for learning about UN reform issues, about current US legislation impacting the UN, and about the global statesmanship rating of US Senators and Representatives. It is currently reorganizing and merging into Citizens for Global Solutions (see below).
Center for UN Reform Education: http://www.unreformcenter.org. A vital organization for in-depth educational views of how to reform various aspects of the United Nations.
Center for War/Peace Studies: http://www.cwps.org. Promotes the Binding Triad reform of UN General Assembly voting.
Citizens for Global Solutions: http://www.wfa.org. The new name for the combined World Federalists Association and the Campaign for UN Reform.
Global Policy Forum: http://www.globalpolicy.org. Subscribe to their free weekly update list of links to current articles regarding the UN, the US empire, Iraq, NGOs, international justice, and other topics.
United Nations Association USA: http://www.unausa.org. Helps educate about the UN and to some extent about reform of the UN. Also covers US legislation and politics affecting the UN and, through its Business Council, helps support positive attitudes toward the UN among corporations who care about corporate citizenship. It is the major UN support group in the US. There are United Nations Associations in many other countries and a World Federation of them. See, http://www.wfuna.org.
Model United Nations: Search through Google.com for Model UN activity in your area and for the several organizations which coordinate this work.
Parliamentarians for Global Action: http://www.pgaction.org and The Inter-Parliamentary Union, http://www.ipu.org. These are groups of national legislators around the world that work on global issues, gender balance in politics, and support for the UN.
The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU UNO): http://www.uu-uno.org. UU is one of the few religious organizations that vigorously support the United Nations. It does so as part of its commitment to inclusive global spirituality beyond creedal theological commitments. It has a nation-wide system of UU UNO envoys at the local congregational level. It also supports conferences, study programs, action programs, and activist training.