(that I can think of … how about you?)
With all the depression over the future of our world these days, I have hope. I am in agreement with many from the past who have looked at long-term solutions to this world’s enormous problems and come up with one solution: A world united through some type of global governance. This summer I had the chance to join many others who feel the same.
There are many proposed avenues to a better structured world, such as having a world constitution or setting up regional federations, such as the wildly successful European Union. But, at this time, the most easily imaginable way is to start with the United Nations.
Growing up, I never heard about the United Nations. However, immediately after the horrors of WWII, the majority of Americans believed in more global governance – A world based on the rule of law, was the only solution to a safer, less warlike world. But then came the Cold War, and the UN lost most of its power because of the deadlock between the US and the Soviet Union. Thus, many of us spent those years with nightmares of being obliterated by a nuclear war.
Then, in 1990, the Soviet Union fell and a window for UN effectiveness appeared once again, though the superpowers squandered their golden chance to build a better world. Now it is time to correct that mistake.
The UN is a fascinating and extremely hopeful organization that is designed to handle the largest problems of our planet (global warming, war, drug and human trafficking, worldwide disease, famine, refugees, and so much more).
In Milwaukee and all across the country, there have always been chapters of supporters of the United Nations. Mayor Frank Zeidler was President of the Milwaukee chapter for 30 years. He and I both belonged to the United Nations Association and another great organization — Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the “World Federalist Association”). This year the Milwaukee UNA chapter sent me to the National UNA conference in Washington, DC.
What happens at a UNA conference?
Hundreds from around the country and world start out with a great breakfast and then dive into different sessions with speakers talking on:
Since this world will apparently only change when we grassroots people rise up, we had a workshop on how Americans currently view the UN. Taking into account a money-driven media that seldom speaks well of the United Nations and seems to care little beyond short-term economic interests, we analyzed the attitude and belief systems of Americans and studied how we can hone our message to discuss our ideas. A hint: The only PERFECT way to frame your support of the UN is to speak to the issue that means the most to you.
A large area of discussion involved how the UN is helping the poor in the world. In 2000 the Millennium Development Goals were instituted. The “MDGs” are a practical step supported by all the big nations who have agreed to contribute .7 of 1% of their gross domestic product to the most destitute nations, raising up health, environment, and women’s lives, and alleviating disease and poverty. Americans have to show our Congress we are interested in having them fulfill this goal, or they will ignore it.
Why Isn’t the UN More Effective?
The UN is asked to handle so much in the world, but most do not understand that, until its 5 most powerful nations (the “Security Council”) give it resources, it cannot be as effective to handle what is needed. For example, our U.S. government has promised aid to those being massacred in Darfur, but has not supplied ONE helicopter! (Helicopters are needed to stop the murderers who ride on horseback, since the country is vast and doesn’t have many roads). Other countries are equally guilty in overlooking obligations to humanity.
How the U.N. Can be Made More Effective
The UN was created largely by the U.S., but it does have structural flaws. It needs:
Until these are in place, the UN has to beg for its resources; after all, the UN isn’t its own sovereign body – it is only what the nations give it power to be.
When countries DO fund the UN, peacekeeping costs 5 times less than U.S. intervention alone, and is more effective — a real bargain! Yet, while our country spends $500+ billion a year on our military, we won’t pay the mere $2.3 billion we owe (by treaty) to the United Nations, which does a comparatively much better and efficient job. (The UN budget is only the size of the New York fire department!)
Even with the structural flaws, the UN has had so much success in peacekeeping, fair elections, health care, refugee relocation, women’s rights, land mine removal, climate change monitoring, ocean and fishing standards, drug eradication, economic reform, worker’s rights, travel standards, intellectual property, global communications, protecting historic sites, children’s issues, and much more. By the way, under the UN programs, Smallpox has been eliminated worldwide, and other diseases are on their way out too.
Should We Fear a World Government?
Some say right now we have the scariest of world governments in the form of the international corporations, which are bigger than most countries, can do as they wish with the environment, don’t pay for pollution cleanup, and work in secrecy, free to exploit the poor of the world. The world’s people currently have no say in how corporations profit from their use of our world! Many of us would like to see a thin layer of world law governing only the massive problems countries cannot handle alone, but which affect all on this planet.
Is This All Utopia?
Nope! It’s already happening. In 2002 the International Criminal Court came into operation for the first time. Today 106 countries are ruled under its auspices to try the worst perpetrators of crimes against humanity. And now, in the last 2 weeks, the President of Sudan (think “Darfur”) will be investigated for the terrible genocide in his country, as well as the alleged mass murderer, Karadzic, in Serbia. Justice will be held for the victims of terrible crimes and future violators will think twice.
And the former bitter enemies of (recent!) World War 2 are now living cooperatively together in the powerful European Union. When more groups (countries) combine together into secure blocks like this, the burden is shared and the standard of living rises for all. Sure, there are problems, but with a good justice system and police that all can respect, legal decisions are accepted peacefully, instead of rushing to the madness of war.
There are many “causes” to get involved in in our world, but to me, they can all be potentially handled in the large umbrella of an empowered but overseen and safeguarded United Nations, or maybe even another type of global order someday. The question is, will humankind think proactively and set a sane world course in motion before we are forced into it suddenly with a nuclear war or total environmental collapse? It is up to we “global citizens” to force that to happen in whatever little (or large!) way we can add to the goal. It is only fair to the many children who deserve a decent world after we are through with it.
We, as Americans, with our televisions, computers and newspapers, are privileged to have powerful voices that can speak loudly for the destitute who have no say at all in our world. It is calculated that each hand-written letter to a Congress person represents 700 people who don’t write. Some in Congress have never received one pro-UN letter! It is time to speak out! If we don’t organize and express our views, nothing will change. And how exciting, rewarding and fun it is to work together with the great folks in these groups who care about all people in the world and believe they can be an instrument of change.
Just remember the words of the astronauts and cosmonauts who flew together:
“You look down there and you can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you crossed. At the Mideast you know there are hundreds of people killing each other over some imaginary line that you can’t see. Up here the thing is a whole, and it’s so beautiful. And you wish you could take one from each side in hand and say, “Look at this. What’s important?”
“From space I see myself as one more person among the millions and millions who lived, live, and will live on Earth. Inevitably, this makes one think about our existence and the way in which we should live to enjoy and to share our short lives as fully as possible.”
For More Information:
You don’t have to be a “Brainiac” to become an activist for a more unified world. It is easy to learn the general principles through our Milwaukee UNA group, the following web sites, and many other sites over the Internet
What Leaders Say About Global Governance: (http://www.vcn.bc.ca/wfcvb/quotesdm.html)
Or feel free to write me (Debbie) at DebForUN@yahoo.com
Praise for cooperation on international courts
August l, 2008
Debbie Metke - Milwaukee
Praise for cooperation on international courts. It is wonderful that
international forces have caught the alleged war criminal Radovan
Karadzic, the former Serb leader, and that he will now be tried
before a United Nations tribunal (“Two faces of evil,” Editorial,
Another victory was the news that the International Criminal Court
has indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on accusations of
genocide in Darfur.
As far as I’m concerned, the only way for this world to proceed is by
cooperation such as this, using international police and courts. It
certainly beats bombing other nations.
One hundred and six nations are now cooperating in the International
Criminal Court. However, the Bush administration “unsigned” the ICC
statute after Bill Clinton left office.
I hope our new president will join the other nations.
Then perhaps we can use our bounty for developing a better life for
all, instead of the billions this world spends yearly on wasteful,