Updated: Mar 18
How to check off "Save the World" on your bucket list?
Welcome to Chapter 11 of the Planet Republyk project!
History of the Planetarist Movement, Part 6: Post-war explosions
I was very surprised, during my research, to find out how numerous and strong the voices defending the idea of a world government were, in the middle of the last century, during the five years following the creation of the UN; and that these facts, even for those interested in universal history, are relatively unknown.
Because this history is also ours.
Because it is unknown.
Because it should be taught in our schools in the same way as national history.
You gain strength, courage and confidence every time you take the time to look fear in the eye. Do what you think you can't do.
In 1946, at the age of 66, the Scottish physician, biologist, researcher and teacher Lord John Boyd Orr of Brechin (John Boyd Orr), another notable Westminster figure, served as the first Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rector of the University of Glasgow, and Peer of the UK Parliament.
In the early 1950s, he simultaneously held the presidency of the World Association of Parliamentarians for World Government and the World Union of Peace Organizations. He became, like Henri Usborne, an emblematic figure of the planetarist and pacifist movement.
In 1936, his report Food, Health and Income on the undernourishment of the British had made a great noise. Convinced that hunger was the worst threat to universal peace, he worked during the war to convince Roosevelt and Churchill that they must tackle world hunger if they were sincere in their desire to establish a lasting peace after the conflict. And he succeeded.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the very first specialized agency of the United Nations, was established in October 1945 in Quebec City, Canada. Its main objective, as reflected in its motto Fiat panis (bread for all), is to contribute to building a world free of hunger. However, this specific mission was subcontracted to the World Food Program when it was created in 1963. Notwithstanding the fact that it will have taken no less than seven decades, thanks to these international organizations, hunger will have been completely eradicated from the surface of the globe...
To be fair, we must recognize a certain improvement in the situation. The FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) succeeded in convincing the international community at the 1996 World Food Summit to commit to halving the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015.
In 2000, in New York, during the Millennium Summit at the United Nations headquarters, the international community reaffirmed its determination to achieve this goal.
However, at the time of the 2015 edition of the State of Food Insecurity in the World report[i], the FAO revealed that 11% of the world's population was still undernourished.
In absolute terms, this is still 216 million fewer people than in the early 1990s, despite the addition of 2 billion people to the world population over the same period. Nevertheless, the number of undernourished people in the world has only been reduced by 21% between 1990 and 2015. An obvious improvement, but less than half of the target set by the international community in 1996 in Rome.
In order not to risk a slowdown of the pace from 2015 onwards, the FAO, inspired by the success of the Fome Zero program launched in Brazil in 2003, prepared, as early as 2009, the next step[ii]. In 2015, the "Zero Hunger" Challenge was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly as a sustainable development goal. It aims to completely eliminate global food insecurity by 2030.
In light of the above-mentioned data alone, we can already afford to doubt the achievement of this new goal. All the more so since since 2015, hunger is again on the rise in the world[iii]. iii] Climate change is already a major factor in this decline (we will come back to this later) and its effects are likely to increase in the coming decades. We do not know, either, the extent of the after-effects of Sars-Covid-2 on the world economy in the medium or long term.
In September 2021, the FAO announced its revised forecast[iv], taking into account Covid, for the achievement of the "Zero Hunger" objectives for 2030. The organization estimated that due to the pandemic the number of undernourished people in the world had risen to 768 million by 2020. In the best case scenario, in 2030 this number would be down to that of 2015, the year the Zero Hunger Challenge was launched...
Democracy is a human invention that is very young on a historical scale. Its potential has not yet been fully understood or exploited.
The future does not look much brighter for access to safe drinking water around the world, even though some gains had been made in recent decades. In 2019, the joint publication of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) entitled Progress in Household Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2017 reveals that the percentage of the world's population without access to safe drinking water has slipped from 19% to 11% over these 17 years[v].
Perhaps this is not as great a success as we are led to believe when we see that, according to the WHO/UNICEF, basic needs are met when a community has a protected source of drinking water within a 30-minute walk of its home[vi]. Would citizens of developed countries accept this definition in their own country? If the answer to this question is no, then 1.3 billion people, or 17% of the world's population, must be removed from these statistics[vii].
Real progress of any kind will, in any case, be reversed in the coming decades as the water crisis, the main threat to world peace and security, worsens[viii]. A tool to predict conflicts related to the lack of drinking water has even been created by researchers from six international organizations[ix].
Already in 2019, the UN estimated that 25% of the world's population, living in 17 countries, was in a situation of severe water scarcity, close to "day zero" when no more water comes out of the tap, to which were added 44 other states facing high water stress[x]. By 2025, the World Health Organization estimates that 50% of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas[xi].
If the global community fails to perform on such critical social, economic and health issues as ending hunger and providing access to clean water, its effectiveness on all other issues is questionable.
What would Lord Boyd Orr think of this assessment seven decades later?
In 1948, still at the head of the FAO, but discouraged by the pitiful will of the British and American governments to respect their costly commitments to convert the military-industrial infrastructure of the war into an agri-food infrastructure, and now convinced that peace and the improvement of the lot of humanity would not come through the weak UN, he resigned and militated, from then on, for the rest of his life, for the establishment of a real world governance.
He published the same year Food: the source of world unity and received, in 1949, the Nobel Peace Prize. He is considered one of the fathers of the global citizenship movement.
We know today that there are no more islands and that borders are useless.
Perhaps the most skilful advocate of the need for a world government at that time was the American Cord Meyer Jr. A wounded veteran of World War II on the island of Guam, he returned from the front, where he had also lost his twin brother, absolutely convinced that atomic weapons would destroy humanity if it did not establish a world government to ensure peace.
At the age of 27, he became a leading figure in the American federalist movement, making fiery speeches on campus. He was named president of the United World Federalists (UWF). His book, Peace or Anarchy, a landmark work of the globalist movement, sold 50,000 copies in the United States. His eloquence contributed to the membership of many of the organization's 47,000 members in 1949.
The UWF was taken seriously; many prominent people became involved in the movement, including a former Supreme Court Justice and a former Governor of New Hampshire. They succeeded in convincing 17 states to pass a resolution urging the UN to begin the process of revising its constitution to create a world parliament. The state of Tennessee even passed a law in 1949 calling for formal elections to the Peoples Constituent Assembly. In the first vote in 1950, three deputies were elected. This electoral law was declared illegal in 1952 by an American court of justice[xii].
In 1947, noting the growing enthusiasm for the idea of a world government, some fifteen intellectuals gathered around the rector of the University of Chicago, Robert Hutchins, the Italian writer Giuseppe Antonio Borgese and Mortimer J. Adler, decided to take on the task of drafting a preliminary outline of a Constitution, which they entitled The Chicago Plan[xiii]
In August of the same year, in Switzerland, the Universal Movement for a World Confederation (UWMC) was founded. It brings together 250,000 members of 39 federalist associations in some 30 countries around the world, including those of the United World Federalists mentioned above. Since 1987 the organization has been called the World Federalist Movement (WFM). In 2019 its 27th Congress was held.
The ambition of the World Federalist Movement is "to invest international institutions with democratic political authority, to deal with problems that can only be dealt with at the global level, while recognizing the sovereignty of states in certain areas of their domestic policy. The movement advocates the strengthening and democratization of the United Nations, political regulation of the world economy and the establishment of large "regional federations" as an intermediate step towards a world federation.
In 1948, in Cologne, the German actress Giesela Schulster, claiming to be the "first world citizen", founded the World Citizens' Union. She received thousands of applications for membership.
That's it for chapter 11.
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[i] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "The State of Food Insecurity in the World. International hunger reduction targets 2015: uneven progress," Rome, 2015, p.8. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4646f.pdf
[ii]Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "FAO, from Fome Zero to #HungerZero," Press Release. http://www.fao.org/director-general/former-dg/da-silva/from-fomezero-to-zerohunger/en/
[iii]Mathilde Gérard, "For the third year in a row, hunger progresses in the world," Le Monde, July 15, 2019.
[iv] Figure 10, FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO "Summary of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021. Transforming food systems to make food security, improved nutrition, and healthy and affordable food a reality for all," Rome, 2021.
[v] United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), "Progress in household water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017. Focus on Inequalities." New York, 2019. file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/jmp-2019-wash-households-en.pdf
[viii] United Nations, Meetings Coverage, Security Council, "Security Council Reflects on How to Make Water an Area of International Cooperation Rather than a 'Vehicle for Conflict,'" Meeting 7818E, November 22, 2016.
[ix] The Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership, CONFLICT FORECAST OCTOBER 2019 - SEPTEMBER 2020, https://www.waterpeacesecurity.org/map
[x] World resources Institute, Rutger Willem Hofste, Paul Reig and Leah Schleifer, "17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World's Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress," August 06, 2019.https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/08/17-countries-home-one-quarter-world-population-face-extremely-high-water-stress
[xi] World Health Organization, "Water, Key Facts," Media Center, June 14, 2019.
[xii] Global Citizen Registry site, Globalist Studies, Chronology of Globalism and Global Citizenship: 1949: http://www.recim.org/stud/krono-fr.htm
[xiii] John K. Jessup, "World Constitution," Life, June 21, 1948, vol. 24 no. 25, pp. 49-55.