J.D. James T. Ranney
With Mikhail Gorbachev at the UN (April 20, 2005)
Mr. Ranney is a 1969 graduate of Harvard Law School (and University of Wisconsin, 1966), with prior experience as an assistant district attorney (Philadelphia, 1970-1976), law professor (University of Montana, 1977-1987)(constitutional criminal procedure; legal history; and peace studies seminar); University Legal Counsel (1987-1988); and private solo practice (Missoula, Montana and Philadelphia, PA)(criminal law; employment law; and class actions).He left a very successful law practice in order to return East to do more and better work on the peace issue.
He founded or co-founded the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center; Montana Lawyers for Peace; and Global Constitution Forums.
World Peace Through Law:Rethinking an Old Theory and a Call for a UN Peace Force
by James T. Ranney (2009)
World federalists make an argument for world federalism which runs as follows.There are only two ways to resolve true conflict (meaning conflict that cannot be mediated) at the international level:(1) by war (not such a good idea any more, since WWIII would entail the almost certain extinction of at least our species), and (2) by law.Therefore, they say, choose law.And by “law,” they mean law that is the only kind worth having, enforceable law, enforceable upon individuals, i.e., world law, created by a global legislature and enforced by global courts and global police, unlike the inadequate currently-existing international “law” and the weak system of UN-based “collective insecurity” that we now have.
One can spend much time arguing about the feasibility and desirability of such schemes.Or one could realize that there are perhaps other ways of securing “world peace through law,” both in the short term and in the long run.
As a former law professor, amateur legal historian, practicing attorney, and on-again off-again world federalist myself, I would like to suggest this:We are already on our way, while scarcely realizing it, to “world peace through law” through the one-step-at-a-time brick-by-brick, law-by-law, norm-by-norm accretion of a body of mere “international law” which is gradually becoming a body of genuine “world law” right before our unsuspecting eyes.And this has been happening even during the recent administration of a U.S. government more scornful of international law and international institutions than any in U.S. history.
What am I talking about?Well first, I am talking about a huge body of international law, built up over several centuries.It is worth looking at a mere “short-list” of the highlights of international law and institutions over the years, to remind ourselves of the progress that has been made, despite the many shortcomings that yet remain.
MILESTONES IN INTERNATIONAL LAW
Hugo Grotius’ On the Law of War and Peace (attempts to describe what he insists on calling “a common law of nations,” albeit one that he freely admits is often as not observed in the breach)
Peace of Westphalia (early attempt at international arbitration)
Final Act of Congress of Vienna (principles for cooperative use of rivers; procedures for conducting diplomacy; etc.)
Paris Declaration on Maritime Law (regulating maritime warfare)
International Red Cross
International Telecommunications Union
Institut de droit international founded
Universal Postal Union
Int’l Bureau of Weights & Measures & Int’l Meteorological Org.
Int’l Copyright Union
First Hague Convention (against poison gas, dumdum bullets)
Permanent Court of Arbitration
Second Hague Convention (outlaws war to collect debt; sets duties of an occupying power;)
International Labor Organization
International Civil Aviation Organization
League of Nations [but not the U.S.]
World Court [later, Int’l Court of Justice (1945)]
Kellogg-Briand Pact (normative principle outlawing war, but w/o enforcement mechanism)
Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War
Bank for International Settlements
FAO (food & agriculture)
Nuremberg War Crimes Trials begin
GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
World Health Organization
Geneva Conventions on War Crimes
European Coal & Steel Community
European Convention for Protection of Human Rights
European Economic Community (EEC, Treaty of Rome)
IAEA (Int’l Atomic Energy Agency)
OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development)
McCloy-Zorin Agreement (draft plan for nuclear disarmament)
UNCTAD (integrating developing countries into world economy)
Outer Space Treaty
Treaty of Tlatelolco (first of several NFZ treaties)
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Seabed Arms Control Treaty
SALT I Interim Agreement
Threshold Test Ban Treaty
Int’l Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights [not U.S.]
Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women [id.]
Law of the Sea Convention [id; entered into force, 1994]
Montreal Protocol (re ozone layer; entered into force 1989)
Convention on the Rights of the Child [only U.S. & Somalia not!]
UN Framework Convention on Climate Control
Int’l Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
WTO (more court-like sanctions than GATT)
UN Framework Convention on Rights of the Child [not U.S.]
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [not approved by U.S. Senate]
Ottawa Landmines Treaty [not U.S.]
Chemical Weapons Convention
Kyoto Protocol [not U.S.]
Int’l Criminal Court [not U.S.; entered into force, 2002]
UN General Assembly "Responsibility to Protect" Resolutions
Convention on Cluster Munitions [not U.S.]
What the above partial list makes clear is that, starting from the smallest steps, on up through the sweeping changes of the post-WWII years, a growing body of global law of considerable depth and breadth has gradually been accumulated.And while current international law and institutions are weak and ineffective (especially in the area of global security), they have grown stronger, despite the desperate opposition and scorn of the real-politikers.To take one example in the area of international trade:Initially the GATT (1947) operated only upon a consensus decision-making basis.Now, however, as of 1994 the new WTO has precisely the reverse rule:sanctions are now automatic upon a finding by the WTO tribunal in the absence of a consensus blocking them.Similarly, the Law of the Sea Treaty (1982) replaces conflicting power-based claims with a comprehensive rule-based framework to regulate all ocean space (70% of the globe), its uses and resources, from navigation rights to definition of territorial waters and related boundaries to fishing limits and other ocean resources regulation, all enforced via compulsory dispute settlement procedures.Although the Law of the Sea Convention is the result of a number of UN-sponsored conferences, the UN has no direct operational role in its implementation, so that it is free of the P-5 veto in the Security Council.These two examples of “stronger” international law are emblematic of the kinds of evolutionary changes that have taken place and will only continue to occur over time.And gradually, as the edifice of “international law” becomes more and more impressive and gains greater acceptance, the philosophical debates between the “legal positivists” and the so-called “natural law” school will become largely irrelevant, as people awake to the simple notion that “law” is merely the body of decisions of those empowered to decide controversies or legislate international norms, and that that power can come from mere general acceptance in the real world and need not come from a World Parliament.
It is true, of course, that many of the more recent advances (e.g., the ICC and the Law of the Sea Treaty) have not yet been signed by the United States.This, despite the fact that many in the U.S., such as Ambassador Elliot Richardson, chief U.S. negotiator at the Law of the Sea Conference, and Bill Pace, Convenor of the NGO Coalition for an International Criminal Court, played a key role in their creation.But this will change.America will eventually see through the neo-con con games and their politics of fear, and, in short, come to its senses and rejoin the world community.We will also come to realize that the cost of being World Cop is something we can no longer afford, with our current financial difficulties hastening this realization.
When that happens, and we (the U.S. and the world) gradually reform a host of international laws and institutions to (1) accord greater respect for human rights, (2) create a meaningful UN Peace Force, available within days instead of months, to address genocide and other threats to world peace (rapidly evolving into the only acceptable and, eventually, the only possible way of using force at the international level), (3) implement economic development in a fair and sustainable way, and (4) institute other reforms long urged by globalists of all sorts, we may find that we have arrived at a place where we have in fact substituted the rule of law for the use of force to resolve international conflict.If and when that day comes, we will have realized humanity’s long-time dream of world peace through law, regardless of whether or not world federalists would want to call it true world federalism and/or world law.
This ongoing historic process, which is gradually turning weak “international law” into enforceable “world law,” is very like the growth of the early common law.In twelfth and thirteenth-century Britain, the common law crimes and torts grew up one by one, gradually converting various self-help mechanisms into Pleas of the Crown and causes of action enforceable in the central royal courts.Similarly, various legal institutions, such as trial by jury and an independent parliament, only gradually came into existence, after much hard work and acts of individual courage and even occasional battles, transforming what were arms of royal power into democratic individual-freedom-enhancing legal institutions.This, it is submitted, is what can happen and will happen and is already happening at the international level.
What will it take?It will of course take more than mere “legal” change.It will take social and political change.It will take increased understanding amongst countries, facilitated by vastly increased exchange programs, twinned-universities, worldwide internet and interfaith exchanges, a sharing of the most precious children’s literature of all cultures, and the like.And since law is merely public sentiment crystallized, each of us has a crucial role to play.
Short-range policy prescription:Assuming that the above theory of long-term social change is correct, what are the practical implications in terms of short-range action plans or at least mid-range strategic vision?For me the answer is simple.I believe that we do need some kind of meaningful UN Peace Force, such as the founders of the UN appear to have contemplated prior to the outbreak of the Cold War.This could be effectuated via a “Law of the Sea approach,” avoiding the veto problem of the UN Security Council, and without the need to create a global government.And in the short term, we need a UN Emergency Peace Service, we need to sign the ICC Treaty, and we need to abolish nuclear weapons.
That is my vision.I do not claim that this is the only way or even the most likely way to a world beyond war.But I believe it is growing more likely every day.We are already reducing nuclear forces down to “minimal deterrence” levels.As we gradually come to view these remaining forces for what they are—illegal, immoral, and cowardly weapons designed to boil, fry, incinerate, and irradiate thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women, and children—then we may find the seemingly difficult jump to the zero option less difficult than imagined.The abolition of nuclear weapons, accompanied by reductions in conventional weapons and their restructuring toward “defensive-only” postures (such as fixed anti-tank emplacements, which can be used only defensively), will result in an infinitely safer world.And as we gain greater experience with already-existing UN peace forces, increasing their capacity and competence, we will reach a situation where the normal expectation will be that a UNPF is considered the only proper means of dealing with international conflict.Rather, the expectation will be that such conflict should be subjected to a comprehensive array of international legal dispute resolution mechanisms.At that point, we will have reached the de facto replacement of the rule of force with the rule of law at the international level.That will itself constitute a whole new world.Regardless of whether these de facto systems are subsequently converted into de jure systems, with the UNPF becoming the enforcement arm for an all-encompassing system of international justice, the main point is that a lasting structure for peace is possible in the near term via a Burkean step-by-step process without having to re-invent the world’s entire political superstructure in one giant leap.
As to possible objections:It is true that a UNPF might be less than perfect.And it might not be (at least at the outset) precisely the kind of institution that a left-leaning-liberal such as myself would thoroughly approve.But in the real world, it seems that just about nothing is perfect and, in fact, there are disadvantages to almost everything.Further, the fact that a UNPF might at some point be partially co-opted as a good idea by the very neo-conservatives that I so excoriate does not deter me.Unless a few ideas of the peace movement are “co-opted,” they will never go anywhere.
It may be said, also, that the above mid-range policy prescription is altogether too minimalist to secure world peace because it neglects social justice.It is true that ways need to be found to address such concerns, not only poverty and healthcare, but also major areas of economic regulation and the environment.And it may be that something on the order of a parliamentary assembly would be a good way to better address such concerns. But just as you cannot have peace without justice, you certainly cannot have justice without peace.And nothing seems quite so intuitively central to securing world peace as some kind of UN Peace Force.
Finally, it may be objected that there is an alternative and even simpler vision for a peaceful and just future world which is the classic idea of a mere gradual but steady decline in militarism and military spending worldwide, as part of a generalized increase in understanding amongst countries.Just as we now would not think of going to war with Canada (any more) and just as Great Britain and France would no longer think of going to war (any more), so too we and Russia and others may arrive at a similar point of mutual understanding in our joint destinies.And this would be accompanied by the de facto resort to readily available legal dispute resolution systems.Thus, there might not be much need for a UNPF or at least not a very large one.
Of course, it is altogether likely that aspects of both visions will prove necessary, each in fact supplementing the other.Indeed, there are indubitably many paths to peace, things that we can do, collectively and individually, to secure a safe and sustainable world, but we must “keep everlastingly at it.”For we (America and the world) face a fundamental choice:between what we have been doing for decades--bleeding the private and public sectors white with military spending while in the end inevitably falling prey to the age-old pattern in which individual empires rise and fall--and a whole new paradigm, a whole new world, providing global solutions to global problems in a world without war and with social justice.The choice is ours.
GLOBAL CONSTITUTION FORUMS
Mission Statement:Our goals are simple:global peace and justice.By “peace” we mean a world not merely free of nuclear weapons but also a world beyond war.By “justice” we mean not only a world which no longer spends a trillion dollars a year on arms, but also a world that begins to secure a modicum of social goods, such as economic justice, environmental sustainability, human rights, and grassroots participatory democracy.To secure these ends, we believe that we will need fundamental changes in global governance, a re-imagined United Nations (or totally new UN 2.0), an international peacekeeping force, and other international institutions which create the effective rule of law at the global level.Although a primary focus is on security issues, both in the long run (avoiding nuclear war) and in the short run (preventing genocide), we also address a broad range of interrelated global problems.
GCF’s Methodology:GCF will effectuate the above goals by two primary methods:(1) a series of forums and symposia; and (2) four outreach and impact institutes designed to disseminate and implement the best consensus ideas:
1.Global Constitution Forums:
a.Biennial face-to-face meetings.
2.Impact Institutes [tentative names]:
a.The American Idea Institute.
b.Barristers Without Borders.
c.Corporations Serving Humanity.
d.Edward R. Murrow Journalism Institute.
Mission and Method:In a sense, our method is our mission:DIALOGUE.In order to move to a world beyond war, we believe we will need what we call a “Broad March Toward Peace.”In order to begin that march, we need to elevate the dialogue, both amongst ourselves and with others.
Thus, we propose to:1) elevate the dialogue, and 2) disseminate the resultant consensus and transform it into right action.
We do not come with ready-made solutions.These will come from those who choose to participate in this dialogic process—as speakers, attendees, student volunteers, faculty collaborators, and funding entities.Our role is simple:to foster and maintain the integrity of the dialogic process.
We do believe that a new “global architecture for peace” is necessary, if we are to move beyond the Nuclear Age.Hence, the word “constitution” in our name.But precisely what that architecture might look like and how we might get there is subject to much debate:hence, these “forums.”
At these forums, we will bring some of the finest minds in the world, of somewhat varying views and disciplines, to participate in candid explorations of issues such as:
1)What forms of global governance, including world federalism, might be necessary for a safe and sustainable future?
2)Is UN reform worthwhile or a hopeless cause; what kinds of changes might work; are there alternative approaches that might work, such as the Law of the Sea approach, which bypass the UN Security Council altogether?
3)Is it possible to create a meaningful UN peacekeeping force and the concomitant global institutions that could prevent genocide?
4)Is it possible to abolish nuclear weapons without alternative global security arrangements already in place, or can the existing treaty system manage to do this, ala the McCloy-Zorin Agreement of 1961?
5)Is nuclear energy a viable partial answer to the problem of global warming, or is it instead a threat in view of waste disposal, nuclear proliferation, and terrorist-targeting problems?
6)What actually works in the area of economic development?
7)What is the nature of social change, and what is the role of education, People Power, and leaders?
8)What to do next?
These are merely illustrative of the broad range of topics we might address.These are difficult questions, issues that need to be fully and deliberately explored, in an interdisciplinary process over several days, days in which participants will be more or less forced to learn about the interrelatedness of the problems, and each other.
Of course, these are more than “issues,” these are terribly serious problems and whatever differences there may be as to their solution, it is clear that our current approaches are not working well.But we are optimists.If we can do the Manhattan Project, we can also do a “Reverse Manhattan Project.”
In sum, the need is clear and the time is now.Anyone who has had their ear to the ground in recent months has picked up on a growing groundswell movement for social change.But we need everyone.We cannot do this alone, and we will not do this alone.We will collectively find the solutions to at least some of the above problems.
GCF and Impact Institutes:
- GCF and its Allies:GCF is a new 501c3 corporation run by a Board of Directors and assisted by an Advisory Council [see below].Further, we have another group, Citizens for Global Solutions-Philadelphia Region, which has voted to focus on helping GCF as their “project” for 2007.We also maintain collaborative ties with a number of other groups both locally and nationally, including UNA, WILPF, and Project on Nuclear Awareness (a consortium of local groups, such as PSR-Philly and Global Security Institute and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities).Finally, we have been making contact with a host of other organizations, who we believe might wish to attend our GCF forums [our “invitees” list is over 60 pages].
- Global Constitution Forums:We want to have biennial face-to-face gatherings of some of the finest minds in the world, of various disciplines and somewhat varying views, and bring them into deep dialogue, in order to “elevate the dialogue” on how to secure global peace and justice.This is worth doing.This will be an antidote to the excessive specialization found at most universities, and will bridge differences between groups that for too long have pursued their particular agendas in isolation.We believe profoundly in the value of “that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.” [University of Wisconsin Bascom Hall plaque].In fact, it was precisely that kind of dialogic process that led to the shape that the GCF forums now take.We intend to have a combination of academics and activists, current diplomats and retired military, and just a good mix of viewpoints, including some people that we know in advance have views other than our own.
- Symposia:As we identify particular topics of special immediacy and pertinence, we will hold symposia on single topics, e.g.:a) the proposal for a UN Emergency Peace Service; b) Iraq (what to do); c) the Middle East (what to do); d) UN 2.0; and e) nuclear energy.These need not be held in Philadelphia.
- Impact Institutes:GCF is committed to converting ideas into action.Although the following proposed institutes are only in the planning stages, they give an indication of our theory of social change:
- The American Idea Institute:Designed to educate the “next generation” of Americans as to our constitutional roots and the American idea, while restoring us as a beacon of hope in the world, this separate entity could focus on Teacher Training Institutes [and course enrichment modules], American Idea Reading Groups, American Idea Theatre, and Restoring Our Democracy projects.Care must be exercised to avoid being too controversial or too parochial, and we believe it is possible to obtain this happy medium with the help of advisors and board members and consultants such as Gordon S. Wood, John Bogle, Bill Moyers, Walter Isaacson, Akhil Reed Amar, Marty York, and Richard Dreyfuss.
- Barristers Without Borders:Attorneys and judges from 193 countries would form up 193 individual chapters, providing input to GCF on a wide variety of possible topics, e.g.: i) the role of law in securing peace and justice; ii) human rights; and iii) international tax law reform.GCF would not try to control or define in advance the mission of BWB, leaving that to its own independent board.
- Corporations Serving Humanity:While some are ready to abolish corporations because of the excesses of a few, we believe that they are a powerful resource (many are post-university universities) which should be used, involving prominent business leaders, to do some real good in the world.Among the names that come immediately to mind that could constitute such a powerhouse board are:John Bogle [Founding Chair, National Constitution Center; author of “Battle for the Soul of Capitalism”]; Warren Buffett [concerned re nuclear weapons]; Ted Turner [has done more to improve East-West relations and the world in general than just about anybody]; Yang Yuanqing [Chair, Lenovo]; Jeffrey R. Immelt; Sir Richard Branson; and Bill Gates.Again, an independent board would define their mission, which could relate to matters such as economic development, grassroots-based-local-materials-eco-housing,green buildings; and innovative health products such as LifeStraw.
- Journalism Institute:We would like to name this institute after Edward R. Murrow.It would work with existing institutes to improve the competence and independence of the media, especially in the area of global peace and justice.An independent board made up of the likes of Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers, George Clooney, Tim Russert, Helen Thomas, David Gregory, Keith Olberman, Christiane Amanpour, Robert Fisk, and Jon Stewart could help with this work.
- Interrelationships and leveraging:Although GCF will be independent of the four institutes, and each will be separately incorporated with their own agendas, there is an opportunity for very productive cross-fertilization of ideas and resources here, which will permit a very efficient leveraging of any resources obtained.
Conclusion:Some of us feel that we have spent all of our lives preparing to be where we are now, in our thinking and this work, and that we have “one last shot” at making a difference in the world.And this is it.If that sounds a bit much, so be it, because we have made tremendous sacrifices to come as far as we have come.If at times we sound a bit like Lazarus-come-from-the-dead and we know it all, we apologize for that, but we are rather proud of the results of our own internal dialogic process, and hope that we will yet be permitted to do some good, now, before it is too late.
Who We Are
Advisory Council:Oscar Arias (Nobel Peace Laureate, Costa Rica); Prof. David Christensen (Illinois; taught “Alternatives to War”; author of two books:“Healing the World” and “Earth is Overpopulated Now”); Ambassador Carlton Coon (Wash., D.C.; author of “One Planet”); Susan Curry (Pres., Alliance for a Sustainable Future);Doug Everingham (Former MP, Australia; Member, Australian National Consultative Committee on Peace and Disarmament); Prof. Dietrich Fischer (Dir., European Centre for Peace Studies, Austria); Prof. Ashok Gangadean (Dir., Global Dialogue Institute, Haverford College); Myron Kronisch (Trustee, Citizens for Global Solutions; New Jersey); Cleo Michelsen (Charter Member, United World Federalists; Virginia); Robert Muller (Former UN Undersecretary General; author of “Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness”); Joel Mynders (Businessman, Lecturer & Author, Philadelphia); Prof. Dingli Shen (Founder, China’s first arms control NGO; did post-doctoral work on arms control at Princeton); Sanjeev Singh (Economic Development Consultant, South Africa); Robert Stuart (Chair Emeritus of Association to Unite the Democracies, Florida); Dr. Keith Suter (Director of Studies, International Law Association, Radio & TV Commentator and Mentor of JTR for past 25 years; Australia); Henry Thiagaraj (Founder, Human Rights Education Movement, India); Prof. Kenji Urata (Vice-President of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Japan); and Lucy Law Webster (Exec. Dir., Center for War/Peace Studies, NYC).
Board of Directors:James T. Ranney, Esq. (Chair, GCF; former law professor [taught seminar on “Law and World Peace”]); Vince della Penna (Business Development Consultant; Wash., D.C.); Marjorie Ewbank (Former Pres., Campaign for World Government; Newtown, PA); Joy Harbeson (Former Chair, Citizens for Global Solutions, Philadelphia); Chuck Melchior (Citizens for Global Solutions, Kennett Square, PA); Pamela Packard (Treasurer, Citizens for Global Solutions, Merion, PA); Paul Raynault (Founder, Student World Assembly, Englewood, NJ); Hank Stone (Pres., Coalition for a Democratic World Government, Rochester, NY); and Barbara Walker (Princeton, NJ; author of “Uniting the Peoples and the Nations”).
J.D. James T. Ranney, Chair
Global Constitution Forums
Former law professor [taught seminar on “Law and World Peace”])1018 W. Cliveden St., Philadelphia, PA 19119-3701; 215-849-9165
Email addresses:firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Web address:www.globalconstitutionforum.org [under revision]