International Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on Forei.

The United Nations at fifty : hearing before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, October 24, 1994 online

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Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiThe United Nations at fifty : hearing before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, October 24, 1994 → online text (page 10 of 10)
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is clearly many years down the road.

But what I do propose is that we set this essential concept as our essential aspiration
for dealing with the Bosnias and the Rwandas that will surely come again. What I do
propose is that we do not have to tolerate "non-vital interest slaughters" like Bosnia and
Rwanda forever until the end of time. What I do propose is that we can aspire toward a
world with universal standards of civilized behavior which apply to every individual on the
planet every place on the planet, and with sure and certain enforcement mechanisms to
ensure that those standards are for the most part respected and upheld. What I do propose is
that our descendants can live under a world rule of law, where barbarities of a certain nature
and magnitude will simply not be permitted by the family of humankind. A standing
volunteer world army enforcing universal world law is humankind's best hope to be able to
say in response to Bosnia and Rwanda and Auschwitz: "Never again."


Mr. Chairman, I have spoken about two broad global issues where I believe we ought
to set broad goals for ourselves regarding the kind of global structures we ultimately would
like to create. These, of course, are only two of a wide range of global issues, albeit among
the most significant. But there are a wide variety of other issues where it is imperative that
humankind begin designing global structures adequate to address the global challenges of the
21st century.

Contemporary Global Challenges

In November 1992, a collection of 1575 scientists from around the world, including
104 Nobel prize winners, issued a joint declaration which they called "The World Scientists
Warning to Humanity." The statement maintained that global macrotrends such as
deforestation, ozone depletion, ocean degradation, rapid species loss, and the underlying
engine of global population growth were moving inexorably to threaten the viability of our
planetary biosphere itself. If not soon addressed, these interrelated processes would likely
lead to "conflicts over scarce resources ... mass migrations with incalculable consequences
for developed and undeveloped nations alike... (and) spirals of ... social, economic and
environmental collapse." "No more than one or a few decades remain," said the scientists,
"before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost, and the prospects for
humanity immeasurably diminished."

As our global community becomes increasingly interconnected, isolated problems no
longer exist. Drug trafficking, terrorism, AIDS and other pandemic disease, unregulated
global arms profiteering, the vast waste of human capital engendered by perpetual poverty,


the chronic hunger and starvation which destroys the lives of hundreds of millions of human
souls every year, mass migration, inexorable population growth, the relentless degradation of
our common biosphere — these now affect our common human community far more
immediately than the great power conflicts the United Nations was originally designed to

An Anachronistic Global Charter — But A Charter Open to Change

Mr. Chairman, I assure you that I am not proposing that any possible kind of "new
United Nations Charter" can provide all the answers to these great global challenges of the
21st century. But today's Charter doesn't even address the questions. The Charter of the
only global political organization we have today says absolutely nothing about most of the
major global issues we face today. The words "population," "migration," "famine,"
"poverty" and "environment" do not even appear in the 1945 UN Charter (let alone words or
concepts such as "biosphere" and "ecosystem"). The 1945 UN Charter contains not a single
word about the myriad of challenges which increasingly pose the greatest threats to our
common human security. These were not the sorts of problems the San Francisco framers
were thinking about. They were developing global structures to address entirely different
challenges in an entirely different world.

We obviously cannot blame the San Francisco framers for these omissions — they
could not possibly have foreseen such things as the possibility that billions of internal
combustion engines burning carbon-based fuels could lead to the irreversible warming of our
entire planetary biosphere. But one thing they could foresee, and did, is that their already
rapidly changing world was going to continue to rapidly change, and that the global
structures they designed for the global challenges of their own age would have to change as

That is why they included in the United Nations Charter Article 108, which allows
Charter amendments upon the approval of two thirds of the member states including all five
permanent Security Council members, and Article 109, which provides for a "general
charter review conference" upon the approval of the same two thirds including any nine
members of the Security Council. Moreover, the San Francisco framers apparently hoped
that such a general conference would take place relatively soon. In Article 109 (3) they
lowered the threshold, so that if such a conference had not been called by the tenth General
Assembly session — 1955! — it could then be convened upon the approval of only a majority of
the General Assembly and of any seven members of the Security Council. Unfortunately, by
then the world and the United Nations was paralyzed by the great confrontation between
East and West, and policymakers largely forgot that the provision was there.

Fulfilling the Original Intent

Mr. Chairman, now that that great Cold War confrontation has passed onto the rubble
heap of history, it's time for us to remember the "original intent" of the San Francisco
framers. I recommend that next year, during the United Nations 50th anniversary in 1995,
the international community should inmate a series of world meetings, similar to the
meetings held at Dumbarton Oaks and Bretton Woods in 1944, that would lead by 1998 to a
"World Summit for a New UN Charter," similar to the conference held in San Francisco in
1945. This process would aim to consider alternative world order possibilities, to engage in
discernment and decision about the best possibilities, and to develop and agree upon a better
United Nations Charter, containing global structures both more democratic and more


appropriate for the looming challenges of the dawning new millennium. And I don't see any
reason at all why the culminating World Summit shouldn't be held right here, in the city of
San Francisco. The process finally would send the new Charter back home for ratification,
and would aim to enact and put into force a imaginative new UN Charter before the end of
this century.

In American constitutional law the "original intent" of the framers is often cited as
the final standard of judgement. If we look to the original intent of the framers of the UN
Charter, it seems clear that they did not intend for their Charter to serve as a permanent
structure for an impermanent and fast-changing world. Those who revere the present UN
Charter, and who feel that we "ought to give it a chance to work," ought to revere the whole
Charter and the whole intent of the framers — most especially, their apparent desire not to bind
their heirs forever to the global structures they created for their own particular time and

Expanding Our Global Political Imaginations

A commitment by the international community in 1995 to convene some kind of
general UN Charter review conference by 1998 can serve as the engine of our global
political imagination. Scheduling such a conference would provoke a great conversation in
the public space, and would generate innumerable ideas about improving our global
structures for the emerging world. Many of the people in this room could become deeply
involved in innumerable commissions and symposia and working groups and preparatory
conferences, laboring as the architects of the global structures of the 21st century. Setting a
deadline for such a conference would generate the political will to deliberate over and decide
upon the best of the ideas. And aiming for ratification and enactment by the year 2000 would
engage all the symbolism and inspiration accompanying the dawn of a new millennium.

Mr. Chairman, as I'm sure you're aware, I'm not the only person talking about this
idea. You may be familiar with the Stockholm Initiative on Global Security and Governance,
which shortly after the Gulf War received the endorsement of such international political
luminaries as Benazir Bhutto, Willy Brandt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Ingvar Carlson, Jimmy
Carter, Bernard Chidzero, Vaclev Havel, Robert McNamara, Julius Nyerere, and Eduard
Shevardnadze, and which proposed such bold measures as "the elaboration of a global law
enforcement mechanism," "the levying of fees on the emission of pollutants affecting the
global environment," "a review of both the composition of the Security Council and the use
of the veto," and the convening of "a World Summit on Global Governance, similar to the
meetings in San Francisco and Bretton Woods in the 1940s."

In the spring of 1993 the respected Americans Talk Issues Foundation conducted a
nationwide opinion poll, and found that 62% of American registered voters would support
U.S. participation in a world conference to review whole of the United Nations Charter, with
less than a quarter (24%) neutral and only 10% opposed. I think that result will come as
some surprise to those in the international policymaking community who think there's
nothing to talk about other than putting Germany and Japan on the Security Council. And
how, I wonder, might such a poll come out if one were taken just among citizens of the San
Francisco Bay area?

Moreover, many individuals of great distinction have talked about comprehensively
redesigning the UN Charter throughout its 50 year history. Robert Maynard Hutchins was
president of the University of Chicago for nearly a quarter century, and is considered by


many the leading educational reformer of the 20th century. President Hutchins thought that
the United Nations Charter was already so obsolete by 1947 that he wanted to skip Article
109 altogether, and instead convened a distinguished group of scholars which called itself
"The Committee to Frame a World Constitution." In 1969 C. Wilfred Jenks, the great
British international legal scholar and longtime official of both the League of Nations and
the United Nations, wrote a book called The World Beyond the Charter, which he opened by
saying that "an increasing number of responsible voices can be heard to say that just as the
League of Nations was superseded by the United Nations, so must the United Nations be
superseded by something more effective."

And I imagine, Mr. Chairman, that you are familiar with Governor Harold Stassen of
Minnesota. He is, I believe, the only living delegate to San Francisco Conference and the
only living signatory of the United Nations Charter of 1945. 1 like to think of him as a voice
in the wilderness, a man with the courage to challenge conventional wisdom and to speak
unseasonable truths. In 1990 the only living signatory of the San Francisco Charter authored
a "Draft Charter for a Better United Nations Organization." In the preface to that document,
he wrote: "I am realistic about the difficulties ... (although) I do not consider (them) to be as
great as were those we confronted in making the original start 45 years ago. ... We were not
naive, we did not declare that we had guaranteed future peace. We said we had established
a beach-head in the age-old struggle of the peoples to find the path of lasting peace."
Governor Stassen invites us to begin to pursue the same sort of process today.

Less Satisfactory Outcomes

The global problems identified by those 1575 scientists will be addressed in the
coming half-century one way or another. Some of you may know Professor Richard Falk of
Princeton University — I know Congressman Smith of the Subcommittee represents New
Jersey. Falk maintains that "some variant of geo-govemance" is bound to emerge in the
decades ahead, "but the form it will take depends on the outcome of struggle and the politics
of conviction." The human community, says Falk, can try to get a handle on global
population growth today, or we can wait for war, famine, disease, and sociopolitical
breakdown to do the job for us tomorrow. I just heard a radio commercial for a transmission
shop or something, where the punchline was: "you can pay me now, or you can pay me
later." We can endeavor to build some form of workable global structures and global
community, or we can wait for the emergence of global cataclysms and global fascisms — in
forms difficult today to imagine.

Mr. Chairman, not only do I believe that next year is an extraordinary opportunity to
launch a process of global deliberation over the whole of the United Nations Charter, but I
believe that Security Council recomposition alone would be literally the worst-case scenario
for the United Nations. Security Council restructuring by itself in 1995 would simply
change the actors without rewriting the play, and leave the global structures created a long
half century ago essentially in place. Moreover, it would almost certainly take all the steam
out of any attempt at UN Charter revision for many years to come. No great debate would
occur in the second half of this decade about the best possible democratic global structures
for the emerging new world. And the human community could be stuck for another 10 or 20
or 50 years with global structures both profoundly undemocratic and profoundly inadequate
for confronting our greatest global problems.

Citizens Movements, Political Leaders, and American Interests

It's time for the policymaking community to start asking not "who should sit on the
United Nations Security Council," but "what kind of United Nations Charter would we
design if we were designing it from scratch today?' As you know, Mr. Chairman, I
represent a nascent organization which aspires to move policymakers to start asking that
kind of question. The Campaign for a New United Nations Charter. Our sole objective is to
build both policy credibility and political constituency for the idea of "activating Article
109," and convening something like a "World Summit for a New UN Charter." Our
"Citizens Petition" does not advocate any particular structures of global governance for our
emerging new world. It maintains instead simply that the human community should not take
the San Francisco system we have inherited as a given, but should launch a process of
deliberation to expand our global political imagination. We are trying to assemble a broad
coalition of supporters who might have a number of different world order visions, but who
can all agree on a call for a global process of discernment and decision about the most
appropriate vision for the challenges of the 21st century. I believe that such a call to action
can mobilize a mighty citizens movement and become a major force in the 1995 UN policy
debate — a force, Mr. Chairman, that government policymakers can lead if they seize the

Alvin Toffler, who as I'm sure you know writes about the rapid and still accelerating
pace of change in virtually every aspect of human existence, has said that what led him to
write his influential work Future Shock in the first place was his perception that "99% of
what politicians do is keep systems running that were laid in place by previous generations
of politicians." I think a great opportunity exists for a visionary political leader to get out in
front of this issue, to take the lead in promoting the idea of modernizing the United Nations
Charter for our emerging global challenges, and perhaps even of convening a world summit
for that purpose right here in San Francisco. I think it presents one of Toffler' s "1%"
opportunities, an opportunity to get in the arena and to grapple with the movement of history.

If no American political leaders manage to seize that opportunity, it is quite possible
that the United States will be forced to participate in such summit in any case. I'm sure you
noticed, Mr. Chairman, that under Article 109, the permanent five members of the UN
Security Council cannot veto the convening of a general Charter review conference. It does
not seem to me at all inconceivable that the forces which currently have essentially no voice
in global decisionmaking could muster enough support to cross the Article 109 threshold,
even if every single one of the permanent five members were opposed. And then we would
see the dismaying spectacle of the United States of America being dragged kicking and
screaming into such a world conference, with the rest of the world perceiving us as
promoting rather than hindering the forces of human progress.

Mr. Chairman, the United States is the greatest power in the world today. I want to
see the United States take the lead in developing and promoting a vision of world order for
the 21st century. An Article 109 conference might not come out exacdy as the United States
might want it to come out. But we have substantial international political influence and
capital to invest in such a process, and would significantly influence the outcome. And if we
took such a lead in promoting such a process it would reflect very well on the United States,
and would create immeasurable political capital with much of the rest of the world. It would
produce a legacy of visionary American leadership in global affairs that would last well into
the 21st century.

The Legacy of San Francisco

Mr. Chairman, I don't know if you've read much about the history of the conference
here in San Francisco in 194S. Something very dramatic and moving happened during that
assemblage, because right in the middle of the conference, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died.
If you drive from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge and turn left, before long
you will arrive at John Muir Woods, home of the oldest living things on Planet Earth. I
imagine you've been there, Mr Chairman. If you walk along the right path back into the
forest a few miles, you will come across a heavy metal and stone plaque set solidly into the
earth. It's dated April 29, 1945 — more than a week before the surrender of Nazi Germany,
more than three months before the atomic devastation and surrender of Imperial Japan, less
than three weeks since the death of perhaps the greatest statesman of the age. The plaque
says this: "Here in this grove of enduring redwoods, preserved for posterity, members of the
United Nations Conference on International Organizations met on April 29, 1945, to honor
the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Thirty-Fust President of the United States, Chief
Architect of the United Nations, and Apostle of Lasting Peace for all of Humankind."

Mr. Chairman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and Cordell Hull
and Harold Stassen designed a pretty good world organization for preventing another
Adolph Hitler. And I have little doubt that the spirit of FDR, out there in those woods, is
looking today for the architects of a world organization to face the quite different challenges
of the dawning new millennium. And I have little doubt too that President Roosevelt would
encourage us, and maybe even give us a swift kick in the seat of the pants, to get busy on
developing better global structures for the world of the 21st century, democratic global
structures adequate to address global problems and to promote human progress, global
structures that can bring lasting peace for all of humankind. Thank you very much.



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Online LibraryInternational Organizations United States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiThe United Nations at fifty : hearing before the Subcommittee on International Security, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, October 24, 1994 → online text (page 10 of 10)