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Peace from Harmony
James T. Ranney: World Peace and Harmony through International Law

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.


Bio: 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.

Economic Progress
Why we should formalize our shared humanity into a Global Constitution
Apr 24, 2019

World Peace Through Law

Replacing War with the Global Rule of Law

By James Taylor Ranney

2018 Routledge

126 pages




World Peace Through Law:Rethinking an Old Theory and a Call for a UN Peace Force

by James T. Ranney (2009)[1]


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.[2]


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.


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


Intl Bureau of Weights & Measures & Intl Meteorological Org.


Intl 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, Intl 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




World Bank




United Nations


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 (Intl Atomic Energy Agency)


Antarctic Treaty


OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development)


McCloy-Zorin Agreement (draft plan for nuclear disarmament)


Hotline Agreements


WFP (food)


UNCTAD (integrating developing countries into world economy)


UNDP (development)


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


ABM Treaty


UNEP (environment)


SALT I Interim Agreement


Threshold Test Ban Treaty


Intl 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


Intl 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.]


Intl 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.[3]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.[4]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.[5]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.[6]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.[7]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[8] 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[9].


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 humanitys 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.[10]


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.[11]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.[12]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.[13]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 childrens literature of all cultures, and the like.And since law is merely public sentiment crystallized, each of us has a crucial role to play.[14]


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.[15]And in the short term, we need a UN Emergency Peace Service,[16] we need to sign the ICC Treaty,[17] and we need to abolish nuclear weapons.[18]


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 areillegal, immoral, and cowardly weapons designed to boil, fry, incinerate, and irradiate thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women, and childrenthen 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 worlds 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.[19]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[20] 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.[21] 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.[22]


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.[23]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.[24]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.

[1] Any comments may be sent to jamestranney@post.harvard.edu.

[2] See, e.g., C. Hamer, A Global Parliament:Principles of World Federalism (1998; available free off the internet; o­ne of the most thoughtful expositions available); Lusky, Four Problems in Lawmaking for Peace, 80 Political Science Quarterly 341 (1965)(also very thoughtful work); and G. Clark & L. Sohn, World Peace Through World Law (3d ed. 1966)(the classic work).

[3] For an excellent overview of the growth and importance of international law, see M. OConnell, The Power and Purpose of International Law:Insights from the Theory & Practice of Enforcement (2008).For something of a counterbalance to such views, see J. Stone, Of Law and Nations:Between Power Politics and Human Hopes (1974)(hard-headed analysis of some of the limits of international law per se).

[4] Cf., e.g., Oona Hathaway, Why We Need International Law:Undoing the Bush Administrations Damage, The Nation, 11-19-07, at 35-36 (remarkable internal documents show deep aversion to international law) and Delahunty & Yoo, Peace Through Law?The Failure of a Noble Experiment, 106 Mich. L. Rev. 923 (2008)(yes, its John Yoo, who wrote the memos justifying torture).Cf. generally P. Sands, Lawless World:America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules from FDRs Atlantic Charter to George W. Bushs Illegal War (2006).

[5] See Steinberg, Judicial Lawmaking at the WTO:Discursive, Constitutional, and Political Constraints, 98 Am. J. Intl L. 247 (2004) and Zangl, Judicialization Matters!A Comparison of Dispute Settlement Under GATT and the WTO, 52 Intl Studies Q. 825 (2008)(also noting increased political independence of the Appellate Body and the use of legal reasoning instead of political bargaining).

[6] Cf. generally www.un.org/Depts/los.For a good synopsis of the early history and issues, see Hudson, The Scramble for the Seas, Global Report, at 3-8 (Center for War/Peace Studies, v.13 no. 3, 1975).

[7] This aspect of the Convention is of particular interest.This Law of the Sea approacha functionalist approach keyed to a particular problem and neatly avoiding the constraints of the P-5 veto--could be utilized in other problem areas.See Center for War/Peace Studies, What Elliot Richardson Thinks, Global Report, at 1 (No. 4, 1978)(Amb. Elliot Richardson is interviewed by Richard Hudson, and states:To me the Law of the Sea Conference offers the hope of a major contribution in the building of a global order.It may well be the single most important potential to build it.

[8] Some international and some not.See Noah Feldman, When Judges Make Foreign Policy, N.Y.Times, 9-28-08 (nice discussion of two recent U.S. Supreme Court cases where the Court was forced to deal with international law in resolving domestic cases).See also a classic instance:Trial of German Major War Criminals (Goering et al), International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg), Judgment and Sentence (Sept. 30 & Oct. 1, 1946)(Cmd 6964, HMSO, London), at 40:The law of war is to be found not o­nly in treaties, but in the customs and practices of States which gradually obtained universal recognition, and from general principles of justice applied by jurists.

[9] Increasingly, international law has what the German international legal scholar-philosopher Georg Jellinek called practical validity (praktische Geltung).See M. Koskenniemi, The Gentle Civilizer:The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960, at 200 (2001).See also J. Goldstein, M. Kahler, R. Keohane, & A. Slaughter, eds., Legalization and World Politics, at 1, 4 (2001)(while eager to disavow any teleological view, the authors find that [i]n many issue-areas, the world is witnessing a move to law.).

[10] See also Ranney, How World Federalism Will Likely Come Into Existence, The Federalist Debate, v. 19 no. 2, p. 13 (June 2006).

[11] See, e.g., W. LaFave & A. Scott, Criminal Law, at 619 n.3 (1972)(crime of larceny by bailee finally recognized in 1473).

[12] See generally J. Ranney, Heritage of Our Freedoms (1987 slideshow and coursebook).

[13] See Bill Wickersham (Draft of speech captioned The Prevention of Nuclear War sent to author ca. 1985, while a law professor teaching Law and World Peace):When people tell there is nothing they can do to prevent nuclear war, my usual reply is, Yes, there is something you can do.You can educate yourself and others.Education is an essential ingredient for the solution of any social problem.In order for us to free ourselves of the nuclear warfare trap, we obviously have to have social and political change.Social and political change requires attitudinal change.Attitudinal change requires education.

[14] See Dwight David Eisenhower (I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than are governments.Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that o­ne of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.); Noam Chomsky ([Y]ou keep plugging awaythats the way social change takes place.Thats the way every social change in history has taken place, by a lot of people, who nobody ever heard of, doing work.); Abraham Lincoln (Public sentiment is everything.With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without public sentiment nothing can succeed.Hence, he who molds public sentiment goes farther than he who drafts statutes or pronounces decisions.He makes statutes or decisions possible or impossible to be executed.); and, of course, Margaret Mead (Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the o­nly thing that has.).See also Lawrence Wittner, The Struggle Against the Bomb (3 vols., 1993, 1997, 2003)(fabulous work of scholarship, including research into o­nce-secret government archives, proving that change comes from the People).

[15] All that would be needed is what every criminal justice system needs:cops, courts, and corrections (what I used to call the three Cs back when I was a law professor teaching constitutional criminal procedure).That, plus the critical element of what might be called an Operational Mechanism (left vague o­n purpose) controlling when and how a UN Peace Force would be committed.This would have to be negotiated over time, and is perhaps the subject of a future article or book.Some will say that I have merely pushed off the problem of global governance unless this key command and control issue is resolved in advance.But I think that some kind of procedural mechanism (whether a weighted-voting or other device) can be negotiated, just like the LOS Treaty was negotiated.

[16] See generally R. Johansen, ed., A United Nations Emergency Peace Service:To Prevent Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity (2006); www.globalactionpw.org; www.wfm.org; and H. Res. 213 (may be found via www.thomas.loc.gov).

[17] In addition to the ICC and the International Court of Justice (with compulsory jurisdiction), we may eventually need to resort to the ancient idea of an international equity tribunal of some kind, dispensing pure equity in a compulsory arbitration setting (preceded by mandatory mediation).See OConnell, supra note 6, at 12-13, 31, 46-52, 196 (tracing history of this idea back to Grotius and his predecessors).Also cf. H. Kelsen, Peace Through Law, at 49 (1944)(a Central American Court of Justice was created by a treaty signed o­n December 20, 1907 between Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Salvador which provided for compulsory arbitration of all controversiesof whatsoever nature; it came to an end in 1918, after hearing o­nly a few cases [www.pict-pcti.org/courts/CACJ/html]).On the other hand, it is possible that a reformed (veto-less) Security Council could handle such matters.A third possibility is that a reformed Security Council could have the option of referring such issues to an equity tribunal or to the ICJ with an added jurisdiction to sit specially as an equity tribunal.

[18] See generally www.projectfornuclearawareness.org; www.globalzero.org; and www.iiss.org/events-calendar/2008-events-archive/September-2008/press-launch-abolishing-nuclear-weapons (conference at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace o­n Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, Sept. 22, 2008; the best discussion of this issue Ive seen in 25 years).

[19] See John Logue, Grotius, Justice and World Federalism, in Asser Instituut, International Law and the Grotian Heritage, at 253-56 (1985)(classic arguments along these lines).

[20]See, e.g., Economist, May 6, 2006, at 58 (Holes in the net)(since shopping for low tax rates is no crime, multi-national corporations to avoid paying billions in taxes); The Week, May 8, 2009, at 13 (Where money goes to hide)(tax havens worldwide hold $12 trillion in assets and allow 83 of USAs 100 largest companies to avoid paying an estimated $100 billion a year in tax revenue); Economist, May 20, 2006, at 10 (One Basel leads to another)(international bank regulation needed); and Bernstein, A Major Swipe at Sweatshops, Business Week, May 23, 2005, at 98.See generally P. De Senarclens and A. Kazancigil, Regulating Globalization (2007).

[21] Compare Falk & Strauss, On the Creation of a Global Peoples Assembly:Legitimacy and the Power of Popular Sovereignty, 36 Stanford J. of Intl Law 191 (2000) with P. Kennedy, The Parliament of Man:The Past, Present and Future of the United Nations, at 215 (2006)(Its a lovely, idealistic proposal, but its destined for the dustbin of history.).

[22] See G. Evans, The Responsibility to Protect:Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes o­nce and For All, at 215-217 (2008); Ranney, Beyond Minimal DeterrenceAn Approach to Nuclear Disarmament, 4 Journal of World Peace 18, 19 (Spring, 1987); and Ranney, supra note 9 at 13 nn. 6-10 (noting websites re a UNPF).

[23] As hard as it is right now to envision reconciliation with our current worst enemies, I believe that we will eventually see precisely that, especially as there is a decline in what may be called religious extremism, o­n all sides.This will be the culmination, worldwide, of the Age of Reason.Cf. T. Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)(devastating attack o­n organized religion, in particular the divinity of Christ, while arguing for existence of God).Cf. also www.strategicforesight.com (fabulous organization working o­n an inclusive world); Mishra, The Misunderstood Muslims, N.Y. Review of Books, 11-17-05, at 15-16 (reviewing books arguing that religious and gender rights reform is already under way in most of the Muslim world); K. Armstrong, The Battle for God:Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (2000)(the author in 2008 called for creation of an interfaith Charter of Compassion devoted to shared moral priorities to foster greater global understanding); I. Manji, The Trouble With Islam Today:A Muslims Call for Reform in Her Faith (2008)(arguing for a return to the original Muslim emphasis upon critical thinking); and Z. Karabell, Peace Be Unto You:The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence (2008).

[24] Cf. J. Ranney, Many Paths to Peace (1984)(slideshow presentation outlining four categories of things we need to do to move to a more peaceful world:i) rethinking and changing certain strategic doctrines and force postures [move away from first-strike-capable weapon systems, improving crisis control mechanisms, etc.]; ii) arms reductions; iii) strengthening international legal and other mechanisms for peaceful dispute resolution; and iv) increasing understanding between peoples).





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.


GCFs 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 processas 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.[1]


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.[2]We will collectively find the solutions to at least some of the above problems.


GCF and Impact Institutes:


  1. 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].
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
    1. 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.[3]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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.


  1. 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, Chinas 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).


Contact information:

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:jamestranney@comcast.net; jamestranney@post.harvard.edu

Web address:www.globalconstitutionforum.org [under revision]

[1] We joke that we are too naïve and/or stupid to know that what we are planning is impossible.Or, as o­ne wag puts it (part of his Universal Laws):Anything is possible if you dont know what you are talking about.

[2] Indeed, we are not alone.There are many organizations doing excellent work o­n some of the above issues.But there are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to o­ne who is striking at the roots.(Thoreau).In terms of groups that (1) have a broad scope/big picture focus; (2) an open, inclusive, collaborative, interdisciplinary, consensus-building approach; (3) with an emphasis o­n dialogue; and (4) an ideas-into-action orientation, we believe that nobody else is doing all of the above.

[3] In addition to the usual topics of voter registration reform, electoral college reform, election day holiday (and vote by mail and/or early voting), verifiable voting (e.g., optically scanned paper ballots) and independent exit polling, nonpartisan districting, felon enfranchisement (constitutional right to vote), instant runoff voting, public funding of elections and free air time, and nonpartisan election management, this sub-unit might look at innovative ways of involving youth (e.g., Costa Rica has special mock elections for kids) and even ways to encourage good candidates to run for office.


© Website author: Leo Semashko, 2005; © designed by Roman Snitko, 2005