The Normative Current


Robert Kowalczyk interviews Klaus Schlichtmann - TRANSCEND Media Service

Dr. Klaus Schlichtmann [Short-Listed for the Nobel Peace Prize 2022] on a Natural and Continued Flow towards Rebuilding World Peace

13 May 2023 – From the onset of the Covid pandemic, almost every day appears to advance an onslaught of existential threats to our planet. Aside from global climate change and GAI (Generative Artificial Intelligence), the most immediate and catastrophic are the growing possibilities for nuclear war.

One looks for a key for hope.

With this interview, Dr. Schlichtmann points out the obvious, the current geopolitical crises will only deepen unless we have an organization, such as a renewed and reinforced United Nations, that can act as a guide and regulatory force for all other countries to work with in facing the coming storms.

The Normative Current towards such an organization for world peace that Dr. Schlichtmann provides is born from past wisdom that has been building towards this moment. This may be the most natural, significant, and perhaps the only viable key at hand to confront the daunting challenges of this complex age.


Robert Kowalczyk: The United Nations seems to be functioning far from its potential while the global situation continues to deteriorate. What remedies would you suggest?

Klaus Schlichtmann: You’re asking me to explain my vision of an empowered, effective UN. Strictly speaking, I prefer to think that this is not my vision, but a vision and a concept that has been developed against much opposition, over the past 120 years or more.

I think we must fully realize what the UN Charter plan originally wanted to accomplish. Let me give you some evidence.

On June 26, 1945, the day the UN Charter was signed, U.S. President Harry S. Truman said it must be “expanded and improved as time goes on.” It was not yet “a final or a perfect instrument,” and it “will require readjustments.” This directly relates to my research into what I call The Normative Current.

The original plan for the UN has a certain stringency and logic behind it, based on the historical development of an organization aimed at working to maintain peace. The understanding here is that there existed a recognition that world peace must be organized.

It is interesting to also note that the five great powers that attended the Hague Conferences in 1899 and 1907, who on principle were in favor of disarmament and an international court with compulsory jurisdiction, eventually became the UN Security Council’s permanent members.

So, to answer your question, the remedy would be to realize the original plan. That is what sensible people in the West as well as China and Russia, among other countries, also say they want.

Robert: You’ve mentioned your idea of The Normative Current. Would you please explain what that term means to you?

Klaus:  In my research, I have found there is a close relationship between the UN Charter and European nations’ peace constitutions; they are meant to complement and reinforce each other and start the process of transitioning towards an organized and sustainable world peace.

The best example is Article 24 of the German Constitution, which states: “The Federation may by legislation transfer sovereign powers to international organizations. With a view to maintaining peace, the Federation may become a party to a system of collective security; it shall consent to such limitations upon its sovereign powers as will bring about and secure a peaceful and lasting order in Europe and among the nations of the world.”

The constitutions of Italy, Denmark, Norway, and France, along with several other European countries have similar provisions. Historically, this goes back to the interwar period’s diplomatic efforts to outlaw war in national constitutions.

The 1924 Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was aimed at outlawing war in national constitutions. To quote the German international law expert, Hans Wehberg: “The constitutions of the various states are very important for the outlawry of war.” Also, importantly, “during the deliberations of the judicial commission of the Inter-Parliamentary Union … there was no opposition to the idea of the outlawry of war in the constitutions.”

Hans Wehberg also referred to a resolution presented to the US Senate “by Senator Donald Mackay Frazier and later elaborated by the Women’s Peace Union, which called for the outlawry of war in the United States Constitution.”

These were precedents leading towards the war-abolishing Japanese Article 9, suggested by Shidehara Kijuro who was Foreign Minister at the time of the IPU Conference. All these cases are well-known components of The Normative Current toward a strengthened and empowered United Nations.

Robert: How are these related to Article 106 of the UN Charter’s Article 24 about which you also have frequently written?

Klaus: Article 106 must be seen in conjunction with the UN’s Article 24 (Conferring primary responsibility on the Security Council). These are significant components of a very comprehensive plan that would allow nations to develop the UN into an effective system for peacebuilding, policing, and maintaining order.

Over the past 120 years, academics, diplomats, specialists, and international lawyers, along with ongoing peace movements, have been working on these concepts, regarding the best way to organize peace.

Randall Forsberg, the founder of the Nuclear Freeze movement, believed the transition will lead to a functioning system of collective security that would allow nations to disarm to a minimum. Forsberg envisioned “a ten-year ‘transitional regime’ to establish a standing UN peace force.”

Interestingly, in 1950, during the Korean crisis, the Russians asked to implement Article 106, so that Russia could join the UN Collective Security against the North’s aggression. The document is on the UN website. And, most significantly, the work of the preparatory U.S. Commission to Study the Organization of Peace led to the inclusion of Article 106 in the UN Charter.

It’s important to include what Margaret Mead wrote in 1942: “When we talk about policing the world, this is meant to be a transition from army to police, from seeing the world as a set of warring national entities to seeing it as one civic unity.”

Robert: What do you feel is Germany’s role in your vision for a more effective UN?

Klaus: Of course, nobody wants Germany to be seen as the bad guy again, but the recent surge in Neo-Nazi activities and the omission to implement my country’s constitutional provisions for peace deeply concerns me.

Germany should be at the forefront, implementing the Outlawry of War constitutional provision that was derived from the IPU conference in 1924.

As chairman of the German World Federalist organization from 1980 to 1992, I have corresponded for many years with political parties, international lawyers, and others regarding the implementation of Germany’s Article 24, to confer primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security on the UN Security Council.

To my great consternation and indignation, none of this has been implemented, despite several positive responses from political parties.

In one, I received a letter from the office of Willy Brandt which said: “It is correct that Article 24 of the Basic Law provides a means to relinquish sovereign powers in favor of a system of collective security. In view of the declaration in the Constitution to serve world peace, it would be quite logical to reject block formations in favor of a collective security system in Europe and the world.” This gives us an idea of what must be done.

 Robert: You’ve also written that the 1999 Hague “Appeal for Peace” failed in its purpose. Without pointing any fingers of accusation, why do you feel that it was a failure?

Klaus: The 1999 Third Hague Peace Conference in the Netherlands was the largest civil gathering of international peace activists in history, with nearly 10,000 people from more than 100 countries in attendance, giving participants opportunities to discuss mechanisms for abolishing war and creating a culture of peace.

24 years after that historic meeting there are very few, if any, concrete results. War has not been abolished and no proposals on how to improve the United Nations system and make it work have been realized.

We need to take seriously what General Douglas MacArthur has said,
“The leaders are the laggards!” and acknowledge that there are big names in the peace movement as well, who fall into this category. We should not think only of politicians. Left-wing political activists and those of the far-right complement each other in their disregard of the UN Charter.

 Robert: Our world appears to be on the brink of a worldwide war, caused by multiple geopolitical fractures clearly seen across the globe. However, the mass media in most countries seems not overly concerned. Why do you think there is such relative calm within these ominous building storms?

Klaus: I don’t see the media as not being concerned. They seem to demonstrate a biased interest, with war having become an everyday headline. However, the media appears ignorant of what President Harry S. Truman said in 1945, regarding the transitional nature of the UN Charter, or what Margaret Mead wrote in 1942 about the “transition from army to police.”

Also, there is little criticism of NATO, which has been accepted, at least in the global north, as the universal system of collective security. The fact is, as the American historian Richard N. Current put it: “Systems of collective security were designed for ‘police action’ against an ‘aggressor,’ not for ‘war’ against an ‘enemy.’”

Robert: Briefly, what do you think is the cure, or some steps towards a cure, for the current crises?

Klaus: The first steps must be to address these neglected issues, and seriously consider, investigate, and discuss them — such as collective security, the normative current, the transition of the UN, and Article 24 of the German Constitution, along with Article 9 of Japan, among others.

Based on what I’ve said about the importance of the European nations’ peace constitutions, it appears that there is a historic duty on the part of the Europeans to take action to bring about the required peaceful change and make the UN system work. This is an issue that must be addressed. It is also something that seems to be what China, Russia, and other countries want.

The essential question remains: Why are the Europeans so reluctant to act, while at the same time condoning German inaction in finding a path towards a lasting peace?

This article is meant as a stimulus for discussions concerning The Normative Current, the United Nations and its future, and all related significant issues. We encourage you to JOIN THE DISCUSSION BELOW.


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 a world federalist and a member of the 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

 Robert Kowalczyk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is former Professor and 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:

*** With appreciation to Transcend Media Service (TMS) its Editor, Antonio C.S. Rosa, and writers, readers, and contributors. Please consider a donation to TMS, the peace journalism website that works hard to encourage and support peacebuilders worldwide.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 May 2023.

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