An Interview with Dr. Klaus Schlichtmann, a Short-listed Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize 2022
NOBEL LAUREATES, 14 Mar 2022
Dissonance Searching for Resonance
12 Mar 2022 – “An international peace order must be one where the law reigns supreme, where the power of the law replaces the law of power. Klaus Schlichtmann has dedicated his life to this cause and has eminent historical insights with a thorough knowledge of the creation of the UN and works tirelessly to empower the Security Council and encourage UN member nations to renew their loyalty to the principles of world peace enshrined in the UN Charter.”
― From the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 Nomination by Professor Winston Langley, Boston, USA (Transcend Media Service)
Robert Kowalczyk: Not many Germans recently have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Please explain the essence of your thoughts and why they are crucial at this moment in our world’s history.
Klaus Schlichtmann: I am happy that my country, Germany, has shown itself as a peaceful country after the Second World War. In many ways, it embodies my ideal for our world. In Germany’s 1949 postwar Constitution, we committed ourselves to peaceful cooperation, non-aggression (Article 26), and a significant limitation of national sovereign powers. This commitment was meant for taking legislative action to “enter into a system of mutual collective security” and “bring about and secure a lasting peace in Europe and among the nations of the world.” (Article 24). These Articles are perhaps two of the most significant statements Germany came up with after the war. They are something I am very proud of, and which I hope will eventually be implemented.
The German Articles were preceded by the 1946 French Constitution, in which France agreed to limitations of its national sovereignty “for the organization and defense of peace.” In 1947, Japan incorporated Article 9, and in 1948 Italy followed. These articles aimed to empower the United Nations and begin eliminating the threat and use of force worldwide. Interestingly in 1949, both houses of the United States Congress passed Resolutions, calling for the development of the United Nations “into a World Federation, open to all nations.” Unfortunately it was already the beginning of the Cold War, and six months later the East German communist state constituted itself.
I believe these Articles in the national Constitutions of France, Germany, Japan, and Italy should become the focus of international attention in order to create an atmosphere more productively leading towards true global peace and cooperation. For many years I have rallied for support among politicians, peace activists, and scholars to use the German peace provision to set an example to follow by moving forward to take legislative action. This is what I continue to advocate. And if you consider Japan’s Article 9 as a prime example, in today’s crisis with war in Ukraine and the potential for conflict in many other geopolitical situations, this may well be the step needed for a solution to move forward and away from such bellicose and volatile confrontations.
Robert: Knowing your lifelong detailed research, what are some of the historical precedents of this ideal?
Klaus: Well, as you know I’m a historian and a peace researcher. Precedents are an extremely important material every researcher has to consider. In modern history the idea of universal peace first really took off with the The Age of Enlightenment. The world by the end of the eighteenth century already was becoming “truly round,” as Orientalist Raymond Schwab wrote. The Enlightenment took place not only in Europe but simultaneously also in India, Japan, and America.
The Congress of Vienna was a good precedent for a stable order within what was called the European Concert. But it was limited to Europe. With the Enlightenment the entire world was coming together, and it became apparent that the peoples of the world wanted to share their knowledge and culture and organize an international society based on an order of peace. All this culminated in the Hague Peace Conferences which the Russian Tsar Nicholas II initiated in 1898. The two international conferences in 1899 and 1907, convened in times of peace, were the first official gatherings with the aim to establish an international order based on the rule of law, and were attended by nations from Europe, Asia, the USA, and South-America. The international court originated here, as the world was coming together.
In 1889 the Interparliamentary Union (IPU), aiming to become the world’s parliament, was founded. The IPU was (and is) made up of MPs from countries all over the world. In 1924 it recommended that nations revise their Constitutions declaring war a crime, indeed proposing the “constitutional outlawry of war,” as the German pacifist and international lawyer Hans Wehberg saw it.
Little more than a generation later, in 1961, the USSR and the USA agreed on a far-reaching disarmament proposal that would have ended the Cold War. These McCloy-Zorin Accords were unanimously adopted in the UN General Assembly on December 20 of that year. Again, with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, in January 1992, at the “first-ever” UN Security Council summit in New York, nations were united by their commitment to achieve genuine collective security, disarmament, and peace.
Robert: You’ve written that several countries have this ideal as articles to their constitutions; however, it seems that most of them have never addressed it properly. Would you please further explain this?
Klaus: My research has shown that there is a mechanism intended to initiate the process of establishing an international peace based on justice and order. I already referred to the French Article and Italy’s Article 11: “Italy renounces war as an instrument of offense to the liberty of other peoples or as a means of settlement in international disputes, and … agrees to the limitations of her sovereignty necessary to an organization which will ensure peace and justice among nations…” There are altogether more than twenty similar articles in the Constitutions of the European countries.
For example, Denmark’s 1953 Article 20 enables the legislator to transfer powers to international authorities “through a bill, to promote international legal order and cooperation.” Similarly, the Norwegian Article 93 (today’s Article 115), permits limitations of national sovereignty with the aim “to secure international peace and security” and “promote international law and order and cooperation between nations.” Both articles came out of an IPU Conference that took place in 1952.
One of the main items on the 1952 IPU agenda was “Limitations of State Sovereignty,” aimed to facilitate the process envisaged in the UN Charter of conferring “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” on the Security Council. (Article 24) It is obvious that all these articles are intended to enable the European nations’ integration into an international organisation of peace, the UN. Some Constitutions, such as Germany’s Article 24, specifically mention “collective security.” Portugal’s 1976 Article 7 aims at “the dissolution of political-military blocs and the establishment of a system of collective security, in order to create an international order capable of assuring peace and justice in relations among peoples.”
Confirming the drafters’ original intention, John F. Kennedy in 1945, attending the San Francisco United Nations Conference as a young journalist, called for a people’s movement to achieve “the international relinquishing of sovereignty” which “would have to be so strong that the elected delegates” would be compelled to take action. The kind of action required is specified in the European post-WWII Constitutions which I quoted.
Robert: With the Corporate-Media-Military Complex being what it is, and with a recent tendency for asserting national sovereignty such as Brexit has shown, excuse me for asking if what you are proposing are not the dreams of the past rather than realities of the present.
Klaus: You’re talking about what began with Brexit. Did you know that four weeks before the Brexit vote practically all British newspapers―The Times, The Guardian, Express, Independent, The Telegraph, and Mail―published a virtually identical article, which, in the words of The Guardian, asked, “Is there a secret plan to create an EU army?” All articles appeared on the same day, 27 May 2016. What impact did this have on the Brexit vote? It is well known that not only Britain but also the Americans opposed the idea of an EU army.
Shortly after the vote a document was published, entitled Joint Vision, Collective Action: A Stronger Europe. A Global Strategy for EU Foreign and Security Policy, which replaced the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS). This document envisioned extensive investments in “security and defence,” to “systematically encourage defence cooperation” and “create a solid European defence industry.” It wanted to militarily “invest in the resilience of states and societies to the east stretching into Central Asia, and to the south down to Central Africa.” It meant business.
Apparently many Britons opposed to establishing a “European Army” had voted for Brexit. How important are the weapons industry and arms trade for the EU countries? This might very well have tipped the balance…
Robert: As of this writing and with the trinity of the current global crisis (the global Coronavirus Pandemic, the War in Ukraine with high potential for conflict in many other areas, and the great challenges of Climate Change) what do you propose as the next realistic steps?
Klaus: The abolition of war seems to be an impossible task. The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 had been unsuccessful in their attempt to outlaw war and create an international court with binding jurisdiction. Since the vote on the court had to be unanimous, the veto of a small minority was able to bring down the project. At the second conference in 1907 the Americans called in vain for a majority vote, and this being rejected they abstained, as did Japan. But the failure at The Hague led some 40-50 years later to the inclusion of peace provisions in many national constitutions, which I have already referred to. Failures are the stuff for amendments in the future.
The 1961 McCloy-Zorin Accords I referred to earlier, also known as the Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations, are another example. It is worth looking at the actual text which the Americans and the Russians agreed on. They wanted to “ensure that disarmament is general and complete and war no longer an instrument for settling international problems.” Disarming was to be “accompanied by the establishment of reliable procedures for the peaceful settlement of disputes,” similar to what had been the aim of the conferences at The Hague some sixty years earlier.
It is useful to take a look at the entire list they agreed on, which included “disbanding of armed forces, the dismantling of military establishments, including bases, the cessation of the production of armaments,” further “the elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and other weapons of mass destruction,” the total “cessation of military training, and the closing of all military training institutions,” and the “discontinuance of military expenditures.” Astounding!
Now, suppose some country like Germany for example had at that exact time taken legislative action to confer security sovereignty on the UN Security Council. The German Constitution is particularly well adjusted to the task, stipulating that the country can, “by a law, transfer sovereign powers to international organisations.” This was what the Constitution drafters had originally intended, and it was aimed at the UN. Furthermore, with a “view to maintaining peace, the Federation may enter into a system of mutual collective security; in doing so it shall consent to such limitations upon its sovereign powers as will bring about and secure a lasting peace in Europe and among the nations of the world.”
I hope the war in Ukraine may be the last such major confrontation, demonstrating to the world for the last time the absurdity and ineffectiveness of military conflict resolution.
Interestingly, according to a recent statement by Ukranean President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukraine wants to have a collective security agreement in the future that should include all its neighbors as well as the world’s leading countries―the United States, France, Germany, Turkey, and others, in other words: a genuine UN Collective Security System that would enable all UN Member states to disarm.
Perhaps the ideas and concepts we, as the SA9 Campaign, have been propagating for the past more than three years have been slowly trickling through and are perhaps beginning to be seriously considered by a number of the responsible political actors and decision makers.
Dr. Klaus Schlichtmann is author of numerous scholarly articles and several books, including Japan in the World. Shidehara Kijuro, Pacifism and the Abolition of War (Lexington 2009), and A Peace History of India. From Ashoka Maurya to Mahatma Gandhi (Vij Books 2016). Born in Hamburg, in the 1960s he traveled overland to India, and returning to Germany he became a peace activist and environmentalist. As Chairman of the West-German branch of the World Federalist Movement (WFM) from 1980-1992 and a member of International Peace Research Association (IPRA) he participated in many international conferences. Having received a scholarship to do research in Japan, his dissertation on Shidehara and Article 9 was published in German in 1997. Dr. Schlichtmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Kowalczyk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is former Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Intercultural Studies in the School of Art, Literature and Cultural Studies of Kindai University, Osaka, Japan. Robert has coordinated a wide variety of projects in the intercultural field, and is currently the International Coordinator of Peace Mask Project. He has also worked in cultural documentary photography and has portfolios of images from Korea, Japan, China, Russia and other countries. He has been a frequent contributor to Kyoto Journal. Contact can be made through his website portfolio: robertkowalczyk.zenfolio.com.
*** With appreciation to Transcend Media Service (TMS) its Editor, Antonio C.S. Rosa, and writers, readers, and contributors. Please leave a comment below for Dr. Klaus Schlichtmann and consider a donation to TMS, the peace journalism website that works hard to encourage and support peacebuilders worldwide.
Tags: Nobel Peace Prize
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 Mar 2022.
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