Threading Peace Together
TMS PEACE JOURNALISM, 5 Feb 2024
Reflections on “Peace, War and Consciousness” published by TMS on 25 Dec 2023
30 Jan 2024 – This is to confirm and assert that there exist strong motivations, real opportunities and adequate means to embark on the transition toward an International Peace based on Justice and Order. We require a “fuller understanding of the roads towards peace which are waiting to be taken.” (Robert Kowalczyk) The UN Charter’s prime purpose is
“To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace…” (Article 1.1)
What is the Normative Current and why normative? Norms are shared standards, rules or expectations that can be enforced, including beliefs and values generally supported by society. If they are written down legal norms, they are subject to interpretation. Article 24 of the UN Charter is a provision designed to ensure and guarantee the peace and security of the world we live in, of “We, the People”—to use the language of the UN Charter’s Preamble. UN Member states must “take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace” (Art. 1.1), to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations and bring about and establish a genuine system of collective security that allows Member States to rely on the United Nations for their peace and security and safely disarm. Article 24 stipulates:
“In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.”
To interpret a legal provision or statute certain guidelines are generally accepted, such as
- an interpretation strictly based on the wording;
- interpretation taking into account the context;
- interpretation based on the history, the origin, and
- an interpretation focussing on its actual purpose or telos (gr. fulfilment, goal or ultimate reason) and so on. It may be helpful, as jurist and legal philosopher Robert Alexy says, to Interpret “each norm in such a way that it fulfils its purpose.”
Nations must carefully plan the collective measures they are supposed to take, and how to ensure their effectiveness. For example, the 1946 post-war French Constitution stipulates: “On condition of reciprocity, France accepts the limitations of sovereignty necessary for the organization and defense of peace.” (Preamble, reconfirmed in 1958)
The French got it right. Others have gotten it wrong, lacking the knowledge and perhaps having a secret agenda. Yet ignorance is not the same as innocence. Who will judge the guilty? Can a camel go through the eye of a needle?
Paris-born Léon Blum (1872-1950), a lawyer and three-time French Prime Minister, played a significant role in drafting the post-WW2 French Constitution. When General Charles de Gaulle was head of the provisional government, during the war, he appointed Blum to chair the Constitutional Drafting Committee. In 1942 Léon Blum stated the French Constitution’s goals:
“The new order to which the world aspires is an orderly peace; there can be no orderly peace or peace without a sovereign international organization equipped with the means to enforce its sovereignty.” (Les idées politiques et sociales de la résistance, by H. Michel and Boris Mirkine-Guetzévich, published in 1954, p. 389)
Kiev-born Boris Mirkine-Guetzévich is the #1 authority on the history and development of the droit constitutionnel de la paix (constitutional law of peace), which deals with and details the articles in many national constitutions, the majority of them European, aimed at peace and collective security (as listed in our December 25 article). Interestingly, the Soviet Union approved Leon Blum’s collective security concept. What lessons are we to learn?
The L’œuvre de Léon Blum (publ. 1958) quotes from an August 1945 article in Le Populaire under the title: ‘Retour à la paix’ (return to peace), which concludes as follows:
“The [future world] organization must exclude the hegemony of one or more great powers; it must take the form of a federation of autonomous nations surrendering part of their sovereignty to an international body with its own leadership. This idea of super sovereignty was so present in the minds … [aiming at] equal rights between all nations, each, large or small, making the partial surrender of sovereignty indispensable to the functioning of collective security.” Required was a kind of ‘superstate’, “whose sovereignty surpasses and dominates national sovereignties. If the international community does not take this form from the outset, and is not endowed with this power, there will be no lasting peace...”
This corresponds to and is mirrored in the 1949 US Congress Resolution aiming to
“support and strengthen the United Nations and to seek its development into a world federation open to all nations with defined and limited powers adequate to preserve peace and prevent aggression through the enactment, interpretation, and enforcement of world law.” In Germany this was echoed by diplomat Ernst von Weizsäcker (1882-1951) who, before he died, called for a “peaceful and solidly united movement toward a federalist superstate.” (my translation from German)
Léon Blum spent two years in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Little later, in the winter of 1945 he was France’s special envoy to Washington, and in November 1946 he served as chairman of UNESCO’s programme committee. (See https://www.buchenwald.de/en/geschichte/biografien/ltg-ausstellung/leon-blum/)
When German politician Professor Carlo Schmid was in Paris between May and December 1946, he and Léon Blum discussed, among other things, the future collective security of the United Nations. Subsequently Carlo Schmid was instrumental in drafting the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, in particular Article 24.
The plan was that during the transition, stipulated in UN Charter Article 106, Member states would one by one confer primary responsibility for the maintenance of International peace and security on the Security Council, to make the UN system work.
To achieve the purpose of the United Nations and encourage the Europeans to implement the peace provisions in their constitutions, it would help to remember the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907, an important case of precedence, already aiming at an international order based on the rule of law, with an international court etc. Today’s International Court of Justice has its origin there. It failed because a minority of countries vetoed the proposals, which included the disarmament plans discussed at the conferences. People could easily understand that nations could not disarm into a vacuum, without first creating an international court with binding jurisdiction to ensure the rule of law.
Reference to the Hague Peace Conferences would help realise those goals.
The Japanese, too, have got it right. Some years ago I wrote to Professor Robert Alexy asking if a constitutional law provision like Japan’s Article 9 can be interpreted as a motion to be seconded by another country. Alexy who had been my professor in public law at Germany’s Kiel University answered:
“You are asking me if the Japanese ‘war-abolishing clause’ can be seen as a public law motion to abolish war as an institution. In a strict sense, this would not be the case. A public law motion is an initiative that sets in motion a formal legislative process … In that sense this here is not a legislative initiative. It can be said, however, that the war-abolishing Article stakes a moral and political claim to the effect that the institution of war should be abolished. This claim is implicit in the logic of the Article. On the basis of this claim, a formal proposition to abolish war as an institution could be made at the international level, especially at the UN.” (my translation from German)
For nations to abolish war and disarm, collective security has to be firmly established. On this issue Austrian jurist and political philosopher Hans Kelsen maintained:
“The idea of a universal international organisation for collective security is directed against the policy of alliances in general and the so-called balance of power in particular. Though intended as a means of guaranteeing a kind of security to the states adhering to them, these policies have ultimately led to war.” (Collective Security Under International Law, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1957, p. 39)
American political scientist Quincy Wright, an authority on international law, similarly stated, saying collective security
“envisages a policing action in which the agencies of the whole jural community enforce the law against a dissident member, while the latter [collective self-defense] implies action by a state or group of states to defend themselves against attack by an outside state or group over which they have no jurisdiction. The distinction between public police action and private self-defense is recognized in all legal systems, and is inherent in the idea of law. The frequent failure to make this distinction, as by referring to NATO as a ‘collective security’ organization, has impaired the effectiveness of the United Nations. Collective security tends toward a world rule of law, but collective self-defense tends at best to a stable balance of power and at worst to an arms race.” (Preventing World War III: Some Proposals, New York 1962, p. 432.)
To serve the peace of the world, Europe must go through the eye of the needle. If nations cannot one by one pass through this narrow gateway, abandoning a part of their national sovereignty for the sake of the organization of peace, humanity will be doomed.
A camel can go through the eye of a needle. Europe is a camel; Europe can go through the eye of a needle.
A.I. for Peace
The reader will want to know how these high objectives can be accomplished, if at all. How can Europe go through the eye of the needle? Isn’t that a crazy idea?! Germany in particular may be hard to convince. Philosopher and author Richard David Precht pointed out that Germany is “a country that, by international and world-historical standards, is one of the richest and therefore most contented societies that ever existed on this planet. Never before has there been a country in which so many people had so much to lose.” We are “under pressure to realize utopia.” (‘Wir stehen unter Utopiezwang’) Realizing a peaceful international order is not a utopian task!
As a symbol of the improbable 1648 Peace of Westphalia, the poet and Lutheran minister Johann Vogel (1589-1663) made an engraving of a dromedary camel passing through the eye of a needle. His famous ‘emblem book’ entitled Meditationes emblematicae de restaurata pace Germaniae (‘Emblematic Meditations on the Restored Peace of Germany’, 1649) was intended to convince the populace to accept the terms of the Peace of Westphalia. In it he depicted a camel passing through the eye of a needle to represent the seemingly impossible becoming possible, reflecting the unlikely and complex nature of the peace negotiations. Exactly three centuries later German lawmakers aimed high: “To serve the peace of the world,” Germany was to agree to limitations of its national sovereignty to “bring about and secure a lasting peace in Europe and among the nations of the world,“ (Article 24) confirming a 300-year-old tradition.
Why should something like this not be possible today, and once more bring peace to Europe and the world? The ways and means we have at our disposal today, including the internet and artificial intelligence, may yet provide a solution, to solve the problem and take steps to abolish war as an institution. “Fiunt, quae posse negabas.” Things denied before could come to pass.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), founded in Switzerland in 1865—at that time it was already aiming to bring the world together—is cooperating with the United Nations today, organizing a platform on A.I. called “AI for Good.” This project which, in partnership with 40 UN sister organizations, co-convened with Switzerland, is the leading, all-inclusive platform aimed primarily at realizing the 17SDGs. For this purpose”AI for Good” aims to identify various practical applications of A.I. to advance the United Nations sustainable development goals and scale those solutions for global impact. “AI for Good” wants to create an engaging discussion with distinguished panellists and world class A.I. experts and others in the neural network. This should be a worthwhile quest for peace research. For example, A.I. could help arms conversion programs gain ground, to change production from armaments to civil technologies. Research has shown that conversion is possible and can be organized without loss of work opportunities.
Some of the most pertinent of the 17 SDGs to be named are to promote peace and cooperation (development goals 16 and 17) as well as development goals, to end poverty and hunger (development goals 1 and 2)). All these, including also the environmental goals (development goals 6-15) require for their realization and enforcement a strengthened United Nations with real executive and coordinating powers, compelling governments to abide by the UN’s directives.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his introduction to the ‘AI for Good Global Summit’ convened by ITU recognizes, as he expressed it, “the joint responsibility of governments, the private sector, United Nations agencies, academia and others to ensure AI reaches its full potential while preventing and mitigating harms … This summit can help ensure that artificial intelligence charts a course that benefits humanity and boosters our shared values.”
It’s a moment that calls for action, to realize genuine collective security and disarmament, supervised by an empowered United Nations.
How can A.I. help empower the United Nations, when governments and politicians are unable to do so? In the 1970s it was possible to feed the computer at MIT certain data to get results that showed that it was necessary to limit growth, to define the limits, Man has to respect, in order to maintain a global equilibrium. The system of planet earth could deteriorate exponentially if measures were not taken to prevent it. Unfortunately politicians and governments couldn’t prevent the inevitable. In the present situation, because of ideological differences, miscalculations have resulted in capital Investments being allocated to the arms industry and war instead of being directed to benefit saving the natural environment. Instead of aiming at a block-free UN system of collective security, nations prefer military systems of collective self-defence that divide the world into competing blocks.
Post-war European constitutions clearly show that governments are meant to confer primary responsibility on the United Nations by ceding sovereign power regarding the right of belligerency. As a starting point France and Costa Rica, as well as Japan and perhaps some others, have agreed to limitations of national sovereignty, regarding their war-making powers, and are waiting for other countries to pick up the trail.
As stated in the main text, reference to the Hague Peace Conferences is an essential historical precedent that could raise awareness of what is both necessary and possible today.
Several of the proceedings of the ‘AI for Good Global Summit’ convened by ITU are available on YouTube. Please also check the websites ia4good.org and iaforgood.itu.int!
This is the follow-up of the article regarding The Normative Thread (or Current) aimed at initiating the process of the transition toward genuine UN Collective Security and disarmament—a process that can best be initiated by the Europeans. https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/12/peace-war-and-consciousness/
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 Ph.D. dissertation on Shidehara and Article 9 was published in German in 1997. He can be reached at email@example.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Consciousness, Peace, Peace Building, United Nations, Warfare
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 5 Feb 2024.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Threading Peace Together, is included. Thank you.
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