Part 2: Chapter 12: The Garry Davis Epic
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
How to check "Save the World" off your bucket list?
Welcome to Chapter 12 of the Planet Republyk project!
History of the Planetarist Movement, Part 7:
The Garry Davis Epic
I was quite 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.
And yet it should be taught in our schools in the same way as national history.
No thoughtful person can seriously dispute that State sovereignty and the anarchy it creates in a world that is becoming narrower by the day, are the fundamental causes of our present most serious difficulties.
Another emblematic figure of this golden age of the globalist movement is Garry Davis. Davis was another American veteran of World War II who lost a brother in the conflict. A bomber pilot, his plane was hit and crashed while bombing Germany. He was imprisoned in a camp in Sweden from where he managed to escape. He then crossed Germany to join the Allies. Upset by the destruction and misery he helped create, he participated in the creation, in 1949, of ''Citizens of the World''. This movement, according to the organization, will have 500 000 members, all over the world, one year later.
In Paris, in May 1948, he returned his passport to the American Embassy, thereby declaring himself the first citizen of the world. In September of the same year, still in Paris, he set up a camp for several months in the Trocadero Gardens, near the Palais de Chaillot, the then headquarters of the United Nations, to which he officially requested asylum. On September 17, at the request of the UN, he was imprisoned for the first time.
In November, exactly three weeks before the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly, Davis, Albert Crespey and Robert Sarrazac interrupted[i] in English, Togo and French the debates of a UN plenary session in order to call for the creation of a world government.
This speech, entitled La Déclaration d'Oran [i], which Davis did not manage to deliver (Sarrazac did) because he was expelled by the security guards from the compound, before being briefly incarcerated with some accomplices, was published a few days later. It was titled in homage to the author Albert Camus, co-author of the declaration, and native of Algeria:
Mr. President and delegates of the nations,
I interrupt on behalf of the citizens of the world who are not represented here, despite the possibility that my words will go unheeded.
Our common need for global legislation can no longer be ignored.
We the citizens of the world want peace and only a world government can guarantee that peace. The sovereign nations you represent are dividing humanity. They have led us to the abyss of total war.
I beseech you to no longer entertain us in this illegitimate political illusion. I enjoin you to convene a World Constituent Assembly forthwith to lay down rules to which all mankind may adhere, the norms of peace of a unified government for a unified humanity.
If you fail to convene this assembly, then make way, the people will have to convene a World Constituent Assembly themselves to create this world government. We can be served by nothing less.
The gesture of Davis and his cronies made a big splash in the media and among the Parisian population. Even within the UN, as evidenced by this corrosive editorial by Ernest Raynaud in the Canard enchaîné:
What an abominable scandal, you think! Daring to desecrate the temple where the bonzes come to officiate! What an awful sacrilege! It is as if the beggars, posted at the door of the church, thought of entering and interrupting the oath of the priest on charity [...]
One knows the song. Peace is always a utopia, a dream, a chimera... the world is never ready. The world is only ready when it comes to transforming the dream of scientists into an atomic bomb. The great mystification of governments? It is bursting out before our eyes [iii].
On December 3, nearly 5,000 people came to the Salle Playel to hear the man who had become known as "the little man" and his friends. A week later, nearly 20,000 people[iv] gathered at the Vélodrome d'Hiver in Paris. The member of parliament Henri Grouès, known as Abbé Pierre, a great humanist, eventually co-founder of the international organization Emmaus, and then vice-president of the Mouvement Universel Citoyenneté Mondiale (MUCM), made this speech:
Listen. When it comes to managing our municipal affairs, we are asked for our opinion and we are told: elect a mayor and councillors. When it comes to managing our departmental affairs, we are asked to designate a General Council. When it comes to national affairs, we are still given the floor to defend the interests of this national community.
And what right do we have today, when the unity of the world in economic and technical necessities is obvious, to delay so long in giving us a voice so that we ourselves can designate the men who will study and solve the world's problems?[v]
The day after this great gathering at the Velodrome d'Hiver, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted as planned, in Paris, by 50 of the 58 states sitting in the then United Nations General Assembly. The UDHR[vi] stipulates the inalienable rights of all human beings on earth and the duties of governments towards their citizens. However, without any real legal scope, it is in no way binding on the signatory states.
However, the 1945 United Nations Charter guarantees the right to education, security, food, health care, housing and fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and association, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion[vii]. Indeed, Article 104 of the Charter states that "the Organization shall enjoy in the territory of each of its members such legal capacity as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the fulfilment of its purposes[viii].
The Charter thus has, in principle, a real legal scope, although without the power of coercion to force its application, it is no more binding for the signatory States than the UDHR. Nonetheless, and relying in particular on this article 104, a growing number of citizens' groups are taking legal action against their national governments whose legislation violates their commitments to the United Nations Charter and, in some cases, to the European Convention on Human Rights. This is particularly true with respect to indigenous rights and climate inaction.
Citizens of the Netherlands were the first[ix] to take their government's irresponsibility to court. More than 900 of them, in partnership with Urgenda, an environmental NGO, filed the first citizen lawsuit against their government in the name of climate emergency in 2014.
It took nearly five years for these citizens to win their case. The Dutch Supreme Court confirmed in December 2019, a first verdict, appealed twice by the Dutch government, but still forcing it to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25%, compared to 1990 levels, before 2020.
Inspired by this Dutch initiative, nearly a thousand lawsuits have since been filed by citizens against their national governments, notably in Belgium, Nigeria, Norway, Micronesia, Pakistan, the Czech Republic, the United States, Ireland, India, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ukraine and Colombia[x].
There can be no world peace until a large part of humanity is able to meet its basic needs and believes that political and economic change can provide these necessities. World peace can only be achieved through abundance for all.
Lord John Boyd Orr
Four people played a leading role in the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): the Frenchman, René Cassin; the Lebanese, Charles Malik; the Canadian, John Humphrey and the American, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.
If Roosevelt's role in the development of the UN has been amply highlighted in the last few pages, we will probably never know all the influence that this exceptional woman had on the development of her husband's thinking, who did not hide the fact that she played, with him, the role of first advisor. Brilliant, altruistic and a non-conformist activist, this committed feminist and atypically loud for a first lady of the United States courageously stood up for the underprivileged, for women and for the American civil rights movement.
After her husband's death, she played a key role in the creation of the United Nations, chairing the Commission on Human Rights and the Drafting Committee for the Human Rights Charter.
As a sounding board for all this planetary bubbling, Pierre Bergé, the future French fashion and media magnate, launched the newspaper La Patrie mondiale in December 1948, to which Garry Davis, André Breton, Albert Camus, Maurice Rostand and Robert Jospin would also write.
The words[xi] of Pierre Bergé, in the editorial of the first issue, denouncing the war and the atomic risk still seem particularly relevant in our time of environmental peril:
Everyone must understand that today is an exceptionally serious time.
It is perhaps the last time that we have the opportunity to play our card.
Tomorrow it will be too late.
Tomorrow it will be over.
No more of our freedoms that have been ankylosing for ten years!
No more of our hopes that are fading every day!
It is now that we must act. Every hour, every minute, every second.
It is now that we must group together, because if we are not, today, united in life, we will be, tomorrow, united in death.
To unite, to group together, to gather together, these must be our concerns and our worries. An anti-war rally must be created in order to unite all free consciences, all men of good will against a common enemy. This is not about political or philosophical ideologies. It is a question of Life.
Life or Death!
La Patrie mondiale, which, incidentally, will only have two issues, will be far from being the only periodical devoted to the promotion of mundialism to emerge from this craze. Unité des peuples (Switzerland), Weltkurier (Germany), Citadino del Mondo (Italy), Parlement (Belgium), Peace News (Great Britain) and Common Cause (United States), to name but a few, also gave themselves this mission.
In France, in addition to La Patrie mondiale, Peuple du Monde, Le Mondialiste and Citoyens du Monde (Monde Uni since 1958) appeared at the same time in Paris. Elsewhere than in the metropolis, Le Citoyen du Monde, a fortnightly publication of La ligue des citoyens du monde (which in 1950 became the Mouvement des Citoyens du Monde) whose militants were mainly to be found in Bordeaux and Lyon, appeared.
In 1949, members of the "Friends of Davis" group that had formed to demand his release from prison in September 1948 founded the World Citizens Registry. The organization offers registration and issuance of cards and passports for those who claim this citizenship or for those who cannot access a passport.
This service still exists and to date, according to their calculations,[xii] 160,000 copies have been given to as many citizens in 114 countries. Among them are many influential intellectuals, artists and politicians, including : Albert Einstein, André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, French President Vincent Auriol, Lionel Jospin, Simone de Beauvoir and Eleanor Roosevelt.
These documents are, of course, only symbolic, but it would seem that they have been accepted at the borders of nearly 188 countries[xiii]. Border agent errors? Perhaps.
Other organizations issue documents of world citizenship, including the Organization for Universal Citizenship (O.C.U.) which since 2013, as an extension of its mission to fight for human rights, including those of migrants, issues passports of universal citizenship. A project in the making during various world social forums, it took shape during the Dakar forum in 2011, jointly carried by the Utopia Movement, a citizen's cooperative of popular education; Emmaus International and France Libertés. Since then, the international association has been promoting the global freedom of movement and settlement of people.
The Antartica World Passport project also issues world citizenship passports. It was born from the initiative of internationally renowned artists Lucy and Jorge Orta, who were inspired by the Antarctic International Peace Treaty, a symbol, in their eyes, of the unification of world citizens. In 2007, they embarked on an expedition to the Antarctic continent to install their ephemeral work "Antarctic Village - No Borders".
In 1949, the Davis organization established the World Citizens' Pact[xiv], which took up the ideas of the Oran Declaration. It opposes the pacts of states with a pact of humans, in which world citizens are invited to engage in active service to humanity until a constituent assembly of peoples is convened with a view to federal world governance.
It calls for a mobilization of peoples for peace so that they will not be "mobilized tomorrow by states for their war". Finally, it calls for "new heroisms in acts of refusal, courage and hope until the gathered World People have given the world a Constitution."
The new dangers that simultaneously threaten the elites and the masses of all countries and all classes impose today a common action to the totality of men, for the totality of things.
Gary Davis represents the quintessence of committed globalist activism. He himself performs those heroic acts of refusal, courage and hope that his "Pact" demands of the citizens of the world. He disturbs the establishment of the time; he will undergo all kinds of administrative harassments and he will be imprisoned more than thirty times. His attempts to cross a border with his unrecognized passport as a "citizen of the world" often served as justification for these harassments.
Charles Ronsac, an editorial writer for Franc-Tireur at the time, tried to explain the infatuation that the crusade of the ''little man'' aroused, for a brief moment in history:
''For the first time, a man was trying, above governments, states and their national and international assemblies, to speak to the people in the name of the people.''[xv]
In Le Monde, André Fontaine concurs, arguing that Davis and his friends were trying:
" To persuade the peoples that salvation was, beyond outdated nationalisms, in universal government and in finally bringing these peoples, if necessary over the heads of their respective governments, to give themselves globalized institutions."
Fontaine concludes: "The action for the World Government is a positive fight, a fight of men. What distinguishes it from so many others is that those who lead it have not given up hope. Let's face it, in this day and age it takes courage!" [xvi]
Davis returned to the United States in 1949 where he founded the World Service Authority, an independent civil registration company still active to this day, as well as the World Government of World Citizens dedicated to promoting his obsession.
Guy Marchand, Davis' secretary during his time in France, will take over in France, continuing to promote the principle that our primary membership is in humanity. With his wife, Renée Cosson, they created the Mundialist Press Agency (AMIP) as well as the Institute of Mundialist Studies, which set the seat of its summer university at their residence in the early 1990s. Mundialist studies seminars are still held episodically all over the world.
That's it for the penultimate chapter on the history of the planetarist movement!
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[i] Registry of World Citizens website: Declaration of Oran: http://www.recim.org/dem/1948-fr.htm
[ii] Site of the Registry of World Citizens: Declaration of Oran: http://www.recim.org/dem/1948-fr.htm
[iii] Michel Auvray, opus quoted, p.73.
[iv] André Fontaine, " Vingt mille Parisiens ont acclamé le ''citoyen du monde'' Garry Davis ", Le Monde, 11 December 1948.
[v] Speech " Donnez la parole à l'humanité ! " by Abbé Pierre at the Vél' d'Hiv' in Paris, December 9, 1948
[vi] Official site of the United Nations, Documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. https://www.un.org/fr/universal-declaration-human-rights/
[vii] Official site of the United Nations, collection of treaties, depositary, status of treaties: Charter of the United Nations, San Francisco, June 26, 1945. https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CTC/uncharter-all-lang.pdf
[viii] Official website of the United Nations, Treaty Collection, Depositary, Status of Treaties: Charter of the United Nations, San Francisco, 26 June 1945, p. 52. https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/CTC/uncharter-all-lang.pdf
[ix] Aude Massiot, "Les Pays-Bas définitivement condamnés pour inaction climatique," Libération, December 20, 2019. https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2019/12/20/les-pays-bas-definitivement-condamnes-pour-inaction-climatique_1770386?fbclid=IwAR12gEnROtTQNWnigMKN1UoTHNPqB2PcSM4AvENhIGqo8fMU78wSry4gzAE
[x] United Nations Environment Programme, The Status of Climate Change Litigation - A Global Review, May 2017, p.12. http://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/20767/climate-change-litigation.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
[xi] Bergé, Pierre " Devant l'abîme ", Patrie Mondiale, December 1948, Paris.
[xii] Website of the Registry of World Citizens: http://www.recim.org/cdm/edito-fr.htm
[xiii] World Service Authority website: http://www.worldservice.org/visas.html
[xiv] Website of the Registry of World Citizens: World Citizens' Pact of April 14, 1949: http://www.recim.org/cdm/pact-fr.htm
[xv] Michel Auvray, opus quoted, p.89.