1 Mar 2020 – A proliferation of city and mayoral organizations are filling the void left by the failure of the nation-states. As stated by one of the most recent, the Strong Cities Network: “Nation states have dominated the global political arena for centuries, but with more than half of the world’s population today residing in cities, it may be time to rethink who should be at the table when it comes to decisions on how we can reduce violence.”
The latest issue of the CPNN bulletin lists recent actions by the following organizations and forums of cities and mayors contributing to nuclear disarmament, sustainable development, reduction of international tensions and reduction of urban violence :
Mayors for Peace
Cities Appeal of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
World Urban Forum
ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability)
Global Parliament of Mayors
International Cities of Peace
Strong Cities Network (SCN)
World Forum on Cities and Territories of Peace
United Cities and Local Governments
We may suppose that this proliferation of initiatives reflects a growing realization that the system of nation states is failing as we have documented over the past couple of years in CPNN.
Sustainable development. The CPNN bulletin of January 1 this year is devoted to the Global Climate Change Conference in Madrid which failed just as the previous Conferences failed.
Nuclear disarmament. The CPNN bulletin of June 1, 2018 was devoted to the United Nationsl Disarmament Conference that never took place because of the opposition of the nuclear states.
Around the world we see the beginning of failed states, consumed by violence: Libya, Yemen, and a case can be made for Mexico. Johan Galtung has gone so far as to imagine that the United States will split into two countries as the American Empire crumbles.
The situation is so serious that UN Secretary-General Guterres devoted his annual press conference on February 4 to the “wind of madness” sweeping the globe. ” From Libya to Yemen to Syria and beyond — escalation is back. Arms are flowing. Offensives are increasing.” And the “doomsday clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been moved to the closest to midnight of an apocalypse since the lock was first started in 1947 to warn of the dangers of nuclear war.
We may point our finger at the United Nations Security Council as the key element of the failure. The Council was established after World War II to ensure peace and stability in the post-war world. For the first half of its existence it was hobbled by the Cold War, and there were hopes that after the falll of the Soviet Empire it would be able to fulfill its function. But now, it is now evident that the nation-states are not capable of this.
The time has come to begin a process of transferring the decision-making of the UN Secuity Council from the nation-state to the city.
Cities have no interest in nuclear weapons. They are not invested in the arms race or in the polluting industries that cause global warming. They have no frontiers to defend or tarrifs to impose.
The process can be started now with a Mayors’ Security Council (MSC) similar to the Virtual Parliament recently begun by the Global Parliament of Mayors. The MSC would regularly issue press releases stating how they would vote on issues facing the UN Security Council. Immediately they would begin the process of nuclear disarmament. And they would be more serious in addressing the global climate crisis. They would raise the hope that “another world is possible.”
To survive at this point in human history, we need a new vision and a new approach. The MSC could begin this process.
Dr. David Adams is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace. Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence. Send him an email.