Declarations and Campaigns for Equal Dignity (DCED)
HumanDHS is primarily grounded in academic work. We are independent of any religious or political agenda. However, we wish to bring academic work into "real life." Our research focuses on topics such as dignity (with humiliation as its violation), or, more precisely, on respect for equal dignity for all human beings in the world. This is not only our research topic, but also our core value, in line with Article 1 of the Human Rights Declaration that states that every human being is born with equal dignity (that ought not be humiliated).
We agree with Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, who advocates the building of bridges from academia as follows, "I have always believed that good scholarship can be relevant and consequential for public policy. It is possible to affect public policy without being an advocate; to be passionate about peace without losing analytical rigor; to be moved by what is just while conceding that no one has a monopoly on justice." We would like to add that we believe that good scholarship can be relevant and consequential not only for public policy, but for raising awareness in general.
We, as Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network and fellowship, receive innumerous messages, continuously asking us to support campaigns, often from opposing camps. One side in a conflict typically is in rage against the other, and everybody is enraged that we do not support their side against their "evil enemies." The "hotter" a conflict, the more there is a tendency toward "if you are not with us, you are against us."
We, as HumanDHS network, however, would like to keep in mind the following quote from Jeremy Bentham in 1789:
"Conscious or not conscious of your own bad intentions, you suspect theirs to be still worse. Their notion of your intentions is the same. Measures of mere self-defense are naturally taken for acts of aggression. The same causes produce, on both sides, the same effects; each makes haste to begin for fear of being forestalled. In this state of things, if on either side there happen to be a Minister [of War], or a would-be Minister, who has a fancy for war, the stroke is struck, and the tinder catches fire" (Jeremy Bentham, 1789, "Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace").
HumanDHS is a loosely knit cooperative community of scholars and activists. We are not a monolithic organization that speaks with one voice, neither do we wish to be a monolithic organization. There are other such organizations around, which we do not want to duplicate. Our aim is not to become a political group that engages in day-to-day campaigning, particularly not campaigning that "heats up" conflicts (please see reflections on this point here). We are not impartial - we are deeply partial in our rejection of all acts and institutions that humiliate, whoever the perpetrators are, while being deeply respectful towards all human beings, on all sides. During 27 years in prison, Mandela turned some of his prison guards into friends. We wish to follow his example.
As a non-monolithic network, with the Mandela-inspired vision of radical respect for every human being, on the background of equally radical rejection of humiliating acts and institutions, we can therefore not endorse any specific actions, movements or legislative campaigns "officially," as an organization. However, we like to make an effort to work in a long-term fashion and above fault lines. Even though we cannot sign petitions as a network, we thus encourage our members to get active wherever they see fit. Please see, among others, our Intervention Ideas as one way for our members to address specific issues that are related to dignity and humiliation.
We see our function as bringing to the attention of our friends and the general public instructive examples of compassionate advocacy, and encouraging each person to reflect on such examples and take action in accordance with their own values, abilities, convictions and circumstances. We wish to encourage every global citizen to become much more active than thus far, as an individual, and support the campaigns and declarations they feel they can stand for. We regard campaigns to be extremely important!
Foot binding in China, for example, was practiced for 1000 years, and ended within ten years, through public declarations and campaigns. Social change can be affected by using public declarations and campaigns, and a more dignified world can be built by using the same techniques.
Female genital cutting in Senegal is in the process of ending just as Chinese foot binding, as is being demonstrated by the work carried out by Tostan. Tostan, which means "breakthrough" in the language of the Wolof of Senegal and the Gambia, is a non-profit and non-governmental organization incorporated in the United States in 1991 and based in Thiès, Senegal. The mission of Tostan is to contribute to the human dignity of African people through the development and implementation of a non-formal, participatory education program in national languages. Tostan provides learners with the knowledge and skills to become confident, resourceful actors in the social transformation and economic development of their communities. Tostan pedagogy combines traditional and modern techniques to help bring about positive change on the personal, community and national level. A guiding principle of the Tostan method is based on the African tradition of participation and respectful consultation of all those concerned and affected by the implementation of any eventual decisions or policies. Villagers themselves determine their future goals and obstacles to overcome in order to achieve those goals. Quality, holistic education and development activities based on principles of human rights provide communities with the tools to direct their own social and economic transformation.
Since 1997, over 1,000 villages in Senegal and now also in Burkina Faso have publicly declared an end to harmful traditional practices including FGC and early or forced marriages upon completion of the Tostan program. The World Health Organization and the Population Reference Bureau have chosen the Tostan "model" as one of the most promising strategies for ending FGC. Using a human rights approach, Tostan provides communities with essential health information so that they may fairly evaluate the merits of tradition against a potentially harmful practice. Tostan's model is not simply an education program, however, but includes support for serious community mobilization and ultim
We look for interested people, who would like to develop our DCED page. Please see our Call for Creativity.
Please note that the entire HumanDHS website is maintained by volunteers since its inception in 2003, and this is mainly done by Evelin Lindner. Until 2012, she usually pasted interesting news into this Links section, since July 2012, she also tags interesting information here.
The System Improvement Process
SIP was developed to solve any difficult large-scale social problem. This includes the "excessive humiliation problem." Systems Engineer Jack Harich invites all researchers to study SIP (in a personal message, 15th January 2013).
A Call to Action, by Kamran Mofid, November 13, 2011
The world is riveting toward a possible turning point and we hope that you are able to stand with us in this call to action.
We, the undersigned, have co-authored the document noted below. We are now writing to seek your endorsement. Please if you wish to support our statement and are willing to stand in solidarity with us, then, by return of this email, add your name and affiliation to the signatories. As the current global crises have clearly shown, the whole world is waking up to the value of co-creation and the harnessing of knowledge from diverse sources, disciplines, experience and expertise. We plan to publicise this document widely and forward it to many relevant national and international agencies and bodies tasked with formulating new policies for a new type of world economy.
In anticipation of your support and endorsement, please kindly return your email to: Kamran Mofid at k.mofid[@]gcgi.info
Kamran Mofid PhD (ECON), Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (UK)
Jamshid Damooei PhD (ECON), Co-director, Centre for Leadership and Values, School of Management, California Lutheran University, USA
Steve Szeghi PhD (ECON), Dept of Economics, Wilmington College, Ohio, USA
The World Is Revolting Against the neo-liberal Economic and Business Model: A Call to Action
Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, employed and unemployed, black and white, men and women, have come together in a continuing and lasting global unity, partaking in a dialogue of civilisations and peoples in consideration for the common good. This global movement has risen in a thousand cities, in 82 countries on six continents, from Zuccotti Park in New York to Oakland, California; Wall Street to St. Paul’s in London; Frankfurt to Madrid, Rome to Athens, Chicago to Philadelphia, Sydney to Brisbane and more, rejecting neo-liberalism and its prevailing economic and business models, demanding a better, kinder and more humane world. The crises of ecological devastation and glaring social and economic inequality are pushing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.
Acrosss the globe there is an unquestioning, deeply justified sense that governments have capitulated to big business and big finance at the expense of the people. Both centralised states and free markets are separated and divorced from society, and society in turn is thus subjugated by a global market-state, dominated by corporate elites.
The line between corporate power and responsible government has steadily blurred, undermining our democracies and our economy, as well as our way of life. Politicians take money from corporations for their campaigns, make policies that reward them when in office, and then take high-paid jobs with them after they leave. This, in a nutshell, is corruption, plain and simple.
The collusion between big business and politicians, in the eyes of the people, generates a system that privatises profit, nationalises losses and socialises risk. From the very outset, the global economic turmoil was merely a symptom of a much larger moral, spiritual and ethical crisis. In short, the world is facing a crisis of values.
Time is Now for Radical Change: What is to be done?
At a time during the American Revolution, when things looked very dire and impossible, Tom Paine wrote:
"These are the times that try men's soul's. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and women. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. . . ”
As many round the world are saying loud and clear, “This is another of those times. Our souls are being tried. This is our opportunity to stand firm, to show our perseverance and fortitude. This is a time our children and grandchildren will sing about. Their ballads will praise us for bringing them the world we all deserve.”
Thus, it is time to question the functionality of the existing economic system that has created a massive and widening gap between a few super rich and the many in abject poverty. We need to examine the soundness of extracting growing profit from a highly leveraged and unsustainable real sector in the face of massive numbers of disenfranchised people who are deprived of a potentially prosperous economic life. We need to question the ability of mother earth to support the extravagance of our blind and ignorant consumerism. We also need to put self interest in perspective, and balance it with concern for the common good and for other species and the earth.
We should recall the wisdom of Adam Smith, “father of modern economics”, who was a great moral philosopher first and foremost. In 1759, sixteen years before his famous Wealth of Nations, he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which explored the self-interested nature of man and his ability nevertheless to make moral decisions based on factors other than selfishness. In The Wealth of Nations, Smith laid the early groundwork for economic analysis, but he embedded it in a broader discussion of social justice and the role of government. Today we mainly know only of his analogy of the ‘invisible hand’ and refer to him as defending free markets; whilst ignoring his insight that the pursuit of wealth should not take precedence over social and moral obligations.
We are taught that the free market as a ‘way of life’ appealed to Adam Smith but not that he thought the morality of the market could not be a substitute for the morality for society at large. He neither envisioned nor prescribed a capitalist society, but rather a ‘capitalist economy within society, a society held together by communities of non-capitalist and non-market morality’. As it has been noted, morality for Smith included neighbourly love, an obligation to practice justice, a norm of financial support for the government ‘in proportion to [one’s] revenue’, and a tendency in human nature to derive pleasure from the good fortune and happiness of other people.
Building a new economic and financial system will demand challenging and novel ways of thinking, perspectives that encompass the broad swath of human experience and wisdom, from the natural sciences and all the social sciences, to the philosophical and spiritual values of the world’s major religions and of indigenous peoples as well. The task before us is a daunting one, and wisdom in how to proceed will come from a multiple of sources, and must embrace the panorama of cultural and disciplinary perspectives. Practical steps are of the essence and we therefore propose some for you to consider. We also ask for your suggestions in expanding this list of practical steps, so that we can begin a dialogue on where we go from here in building a better world for ourselves and for future generations.
A few practical steps:
1, the right to a meaningful job and a minimum income to all individuals, guaranteed by society and/or government, and a "Special Fair Deal" for youth employment&job creation
2, a tax on financial transactions
3, access by the poor to credit markets
4, limits on executive pay in financial firms
5, taxing capital gains and dividends at the same rate as wages and salaries
6, elimination of too big to fail
7, massive use of usury free lending to provide basic human needs, and expand the quality of human life in ways that are environmentally friendly
8, a resurgence of financial regulations to reduce moral hazard, adverse selection, and to improve the flow of information to consumers
9, a serious global commitment to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, preserve habitat for endangered species, and to price goods and services with environmental costs in mind
10, an increase in funds for education at all levels, with education as a right
11, the grounding of Business and Economics education in social, moral, and ethical values and principle
12, a dramatic reduction in global military budgets
13, creation of an International Fund for Peace, recognizing that true peace must spring from the access of all to the means of life and the ability to be fully functioning members of the global community
14, the strengthening of multilateral global institutions and structures, the development of new ones, and the gradual elimination of the right of veto by major countries at the UN
15, increased investment in green technology, seeking the transition of regional and national economies away from carbon dependence
We call upon you to support this "Call to Action" by adding your name, affiliation and the country of residence, and any suggestions for additional practical steps to the end of this message and send it back to Kamran Mofid. Please forward this message to your friends and network. We suspect that you are as concerned as we are with these alarming trends in environmental destruction and growing inequality yet are finding encouragement in the chorus of voices rising against the existing financial and economic system. Please join us.
Kamran Mofid PhD (ECON)
Adjunct Professor, Dalhousie School of Business,
Dalhousie University, Canada
Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative(GCGI)
GCGI 2012 Conference, Dalhousie University, Canada
Member of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), the World Public Forum, Dialogue of Civilisations
Founding Member, World Dignity University, and Global Advisory Board, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies
60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Human Rights Action Center () developed an inspiring animation of the declaration (, created by Seth Brau and produced by Amy Poncher).
Every man, women and child on earth is born free and equal in dignity and rights
We are brothers and sisters of this world
We have reason and conscience and should be friendly towards one another
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights regardless of age, sex, race, religion, politics, color, nationality, wealth, language, beliefs, birthplace, traditions, economics, weight, skin, style thoughts, feelings, hairstyle, differences, size lifestyle, height, preference, orientation, (...)
You have the right to live in freedom and safety
Nobody has the right to treat you as their slave or torture you
The law is the same for everyone,
You have the right to legal protection
You have the right to a fair and public trial
No one shall be arrested put in jail or exiled without good reason
You are innocent until proven guilty
You have the right to privacy, to move throughout the world, to enjoy freedom from persecution in other countries
You have the right to a nationality
You have the right to marry and have a family
Your government should protect your family
You have the right to your own property and possessions
You have the right to think what you want and say what you like
To practice your religion freely and organize peacefully
You have the right to take part in your countrys political affairs.
Governments should be voted for regularly and all votes are equal
The society in which you live should help you to develop
You have the right to work and to a fair salary.
Each work day should not be too long
You have the right to expect a decent standard of living
You have the right to go to school.
Education should strive to promote peace and understanding among all people
You have the right to share in your communitys arts and sciences
You must respect the social order that is necessary for these rights to be available
You must respect the rights of others, the community and public property
Nobody shall attempt in any way to destroy the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
A Call for Consciousness Evolution by Evolutionary Leaders
by Healthy & Green Living Editors, October 24, 2008
The human family is in the midst of the most significant transformation of consciousness since its emergence in Africa over one hundred thousand years ago. Consciousness has been evolving for billions of years from the first cell to us. We are becoming aware that through our own consciousness the universe can know itself. This awareness reveals incredible new potential for our individual and collective humanity.
Simultaneously, we are the first species on this Earth aware that we can destroy ourselves by our own action. This may be the greatest wake-up call to the evolution of consciousness since the origin of Homo sapiens.
We now realize that we are affecting our own evolution by everything we do. This knowledge awakens in us the aspiration to become more conscious through subjective practices including meditation, reflection, prayer, intuition, creativity, and conscious choice making that accelerate our evolution in the direction of unity consciousness and inspire us to deeply align our collective vision.
At this juncture in human history, urgent global crises challenge us to learn to live sustainably, in harmony and gratitude with one another and with the living universe. The changes required of humanity are broad, deep, and far reaching. Only by acting swiftly and creatively can we birth a planetary culture that will bring well-being to every form of life in the Earth community.
The good news is that a compelling new story of our potential as a whole human species is emerging–a story of collaboration, citizen action, dialogue and new understandings propelled by unprecedented levels of democratic freedom, multicultural exchange, and access to communication technologies. It is nothing less than the story of our collective evolution.
Opportunities for Action
We recognize that the inner and outer aspects of life evolve together. A dramatic awakening in consciousness will involve an equally dramatic shift in outward aspects of our lives. In particular, we see the following as vital opportunities for our conscious evolution, both personally and collectively:
Cultivating a Paradigm of Aliveness:
We regard the universe as deeply alive and conscious by nature. In a living universe, our sense of subtle connection and participation with life around us is the basis for a compassionate and cooperative approach to living.
Educating for an Evolving Consciousness:
Awakening consciousness is the foundation for all the change we seek to see in the world. We can work to elevate our capacity for conscious reflection and creative action in our personal lives as well as our collective lives as communities. We must support research and educational strategies that optimize human capacities and explore the nature of consciousness.
Restoring Ecological Balance:
The balance of planetary ecosystems is fundamental to our survival. We must reverse the pollution of our global commons–the water, air and soil that nourish all life. We must encourage the proliferation of clean, renewable energy sources and expend all necessary resources toward mitigating the effects of climate change.
Encouraging Conscious Media:
We must find innovative ways to use the new electronic media as the mirror of our positive evolutionary story, investing in their capacity to reach across differences of generation, culture, religion, wealth, and gender to build a working consensus about our collective future.
Engaging in Social and Political Transformation:
More sustainable ways of living will require the support of a more conscious democracy and vibrant civil society from which more enlightened leaders will emerge. All individuals should be encouraged to use their gifts to create participatory, responsible and compassionate models of governance.
Working for Integrity in Commerce:
Conscious businesses that are aware of the scope, depth, and long-range impacts of their actions are key to achieving sustainability. Business must become an ethical steward of the Earth’s ecology and consciously establish an economic basis for a future of equitably shared abundance.
Promoting Health and Healing:
The science of mind-body-spirit health has demonstrated the profound connection between the health of a whole person and the health of the system in which he or she lives. Whole systems healing, respecting both traditional knowledge and modern sciences, must be supported in physical, social, and spiritual domains.
Building Global Community:
The new story is about all of us who share this planet. Together, we can create a culture of peace that eliminates the need for armed conflict, respecting and appreciating the glorious diversity of our human family.
For signing this petition, please go to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/248704259.
Unfairly Sentenced to Die
Rosita Albert wrote to the HumanDHS network (March 17, 2008):
"Dear friends: I thought you might join me in signing this petition today to prevent an injustice to Mr. Davis. Seven out of nine witnesses at Troy Davis' trial have since recanted or altered their testimony with many citing police intimidation. Stand with us in saying that Fairness Matters!"
Virtual Demos over Net Censorship
Thousands of people are taking part in "virtual protests" against countries accused of censoring the internet. For its first Online Free Expression Day, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has created virtual versions of nine public spaces...
Please read more at http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/7292130.stm.
The Elders Call for a Billion Signatures
2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
It‘s a time for a global conversation about human rights. To consider the values that unite society as one human family and one global village. But it can be more. For the last 60 years it‘s been governments that have been asked to sign the Universal Declaration. The Elders hope that 2008 can be the year that individuals, not just governments, sign the declaration. The Elders are calling for one billion signatures from across the world. The old generation of leaders wants yours to be one of them. They urge you to embrace the values and goals of the declaration; to protect the rights of fellow global villagers and encourage others to do the same in communities, workplaces and schools. To sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, click here.
Rosika Schwimmer and World Government
Rosika Schwimmer or Bédy-Schwimmer "Rózsa" Rózsika (1877-1948) tried to create a world government. In 1935 she formed the World Centre for Women's Archives with Mary Ritter Beard. She received a World Peace Prize in 1937 and formed the Campaign for World Government with Lola Maverick Lloyd. In 1947 she was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize but no one received it the next year...
Please read more on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosika_Schwimmer, or, please read also Remarks on the History of Hungarian Feminism by Judit Acsády.
The Earth Federation Movement
The Earth Federation Movement includes a worldwide association of World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) Chapters and affiliated independent organizations, such as many youth, environmental, and human rights organizations, that affirm the creation of a non-military, democratic Earth Federation under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We have several web sites associated with our work for global peace with justice, environmental sustainability, and prosperity such as www.earthfederation.info.
Dr. Glen T. Martin is the Secretary-General of WCPA and President of the Institute on World Problems. Since its founding in 1958, the WCPA has focused on creating a non-military, democratic Constitution for the Federation of Earth. It has done this through four Constituent Assemblies of World Citizens meeting from 1968 to 1991, when the Constitution was finally completed in its present form.
WCPA now works to get the nations and people of the world to ratify the Constitution through the criteria specified in Article 17. The Constitution is permeated by the concept of human dignity, focused especially in Articles 12 and 13 on human rights. WCPA sees the ratification of the Earth Constitution as a central structural change, creating global democratic institutions of unity in diversity, that can facilitate the deep spiritual change toward planetary maturity that is also necessary for a world of peace, with justice and sustainability.
Joseph P. Baratta
Joseph P. Baratta (2004)
The Politics of World Federation
Vol.1: The United Nations, U.N. Reform, Atomic Control.
Vol. 2: From World Federalism to Global Governance
Westport, CT: Praeger
Please see here the Introduction to both volumes.
Please see here an editorial on the work of Joseph Baratta and Virginia Swain.
Garry Davis: World Citizenship, World Passport, World Presidency, World Service Authority, World Government of World Citizens, World Government House
Garry Davis (Bar Harbor, Maine, July 27, 1921) is a peace activist who created the first "World Passport." A former World War II bomber pilot and Broadway actor, he renounced his American citizenship in Paris in 1948 to become a "citizen of the world." Davis founded the World Service Authority, which now issues the passports - along with birth and other certificates - to applicants. Davis first used his "world passport" on a trip to India in 1956, and has been variably admitted into or jailed by countries around the world after using his world passport. Up to 150 countries have purportedly accepted the world passport at one time or another. In France, his support committee was co-founded by writers Albert Camus and André Gide and the Abbé Pierre (quoted from wikipedia).
- www.onefilms.com and www.1worldcitizen.com.
- World Citizen Radio with Garry Davis interviewing Evelin Lindner, Global Radio Alliance, Sunday, November 11, 2012
- Garry Davis’s Speech at the 2007 Workshop on Humiliation and Violent Conflict (2007)
- Our dear Garry Davis went into hospice care on 18 July 2013, and died six days later. We mourn him in deep admiration for his life work and resonate with every word in Rene Wadlow's lovely reflection on Garry Davis: « And Now the People Have The Floor »
Rosika Schwimmer and World Government
Rosika Schwimmer or Bédy-Schwimmer "Rózsa" Rózsika (1877-1948) set out to create a world government. In 1935 she formed the World Centre for Women's Archives with Mary Ritter Beard. She received a World Peace Prize in 1937 and formed the Campaign for World Government with Lola Maverick Lloyd. In 1947 she was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize but no one received it the next year...
Please read more on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosika_Schwimmer, or, please read also Remarks on the History of Hungarian Feminism by Judit Acsády.
DECLARATION for actively caring decision-makers/ entrepreneurs:
"FAMILY PLANNING AND STDs/AIDS-PREVENTION SHALL BE INTEGRATED IN OUR PROGRAMS!"
Every hour: 9000 unwanted pregnancies cause 1/3 of the global population growth…
1. “Sexual and Reproductive Health Services (SRHS) are Human Rights and must therefore be available to those who are sexually active. Knowledge about safer sex and contraception must be given before young people are sexually active. SRHS shall be integrated into all our projects: Even if health workers are not available, at least A) condoms (dignified, attractive access) and B) information about STDs/AIDS, FP must be organized.”
Questions to Alec Gagneux: www.FairCH.ch / +41-56 441 91 75.
Citizens' Coalition to Reaffirm and Extend the Geneva Conventions
welcomes your participation.
Initial Call to Action -- by Dennis Rivers, MA
(Dedicated to three of my teachers, Joanna Macy, the late Prof. Walter Capps and the Quaker peace activist, Gene Knudsen Hoffman)
It's a very human attitude to imagine that laws, treaties and constitutions, once passed, will simply enforce themselves, without strenuous effort on our part. But experience shows otherwise. Experience shows that the passing of a bill or the signing of a treaty is not the end of the journey, but only the beginning. Over the past century, people of goodwill around the world have sought to limit the violence of war by entering into various Geneva Convention Treaties. But although we can receive the concepts of the Geneva Conventions from previous generations, we cannot inherit as passive beneficiaries the actual benefits of these treaties. If the Geneva Conventions (and the U.S. Constitution, for that matter) are going to mean anything in our time, it will be because we campaign actively for their study, observance and enforcement in our time. They are more like a handful of seeds than a handful of diamonds.
The Geneva Conventions are far from perfect and far from effective. It is widely estimated that 90% of the casualties in modern wars are civilians. The Bush administration seems determined to find clever ways around the Geneva Conventions, in order to allow itself to torture whomever it wishes (new euphemized as "alternative procedures" in an orgy of denial), and imprison without trial whomever it wishes. The technology of war has also dramatically changed since the first Geneva Conventions were framed. For example, the current use of depleted uranium anti-tank munitions constitutes a low-level atomic war on civilians that will go on for many generations. The toxic, radioactive dust left behind by the explosion of depleted uranium will stay toxic and radioactive for several billion years. A billion years is a long time to give cancer and birth defects to the inhabitants of a particular region, something the framers of the original Geneva Conventions could hardly have imagined. This poison dust will eventually circulate around the world, and our descendants, to some unknown degree, will suffer the same fate as the descendants of our enemies.
Confronted with these unhappy facts, reason and compassion suggest that we take up a new advocacy of the Geneva Conventions. Each citizen can sign a personal statement affirming the Geneva Conventions, and can send such statements to their elected representatives requesting that their representatives make every possible effort to uphold, and extend the scope of, the Geneva Conventions. We can also ask each candidate for federal public office to support the letter and the spirit of Geneva Conventions as part of their campaign for election.
The treaties that the United States enters into become part of the law of the United States. The Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed that in Geneva Conventions are part of the law of the United States. Therefore it is appropriate for every high school and college student in the United States to be introduced to the Geneva Conventions, to study them, and to reach their own conclusions about how the spirit of the Geneva Conventions will be carried forward in our particular time. If we do not persuade new generations to take up this cause, the cause will be lost.
The Citizens' Coalition to Reaffirm and Extend the Geneva Conventions is developing an educational web site to distribute statements of reaffirmation and study guides. We will also be inviting churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and civic groups of every sort to take up consideration of the Geneva Conventions, and to pass resolutions of reaffirmation as part of a global effort to both limit the violence of modern war and introduce new forms of conflict resolution.
The idea of extending the Geneva Conventions is important because regulating the conduct of war can easily be taken to imply acceptance of war as a legitimate policy option of nations and aggrieved groups. The truth is that wars are often monumentally stupid and misconceived, along with being extraordinarily cruel. (If you doubt this, please explain the compelling reason why at least 20 million people had to die in World War I.) There is now much more material available about non-violent and creative conflict resolution practices than was the case even as recently as the Vietnam war. Advocacy to restrain the conduct of war will only make sense to many people if it is immediately accompanied by new information about alternatives to war.
Along with a reaffirmation of the existing provisions against torture and the maltreatment of prisoners (which you can read at www.genevaconventions.org), and a ban on depleted uranium munitions, one of various needed extensions of the Geneva Conventions would be a strong "no evidence based on torture or coercion" principle. Anyone who reads the news carefully will notice how quickly the torture idea is spreading. Just two years ago it was all about "the ticking bomb" scenario in which we needed to torture suspects in order to interrupt a bombing plot already underway. But now the Bush administration proposes to use coerced evidence in some sort of quasi-judicial hearings with the intention of executing people, or at least keeping them locked up indefinitely -- a different and much larger goal than the immediate prevention of a bombing already launched. In a court that admits coerced evidence, a person might be imprisoned for confessing to whatever sympathies or activities he or she thought would stop the torture. Since "sympathizing with the enemy" could become a crime in itself, or a mark of being dangerous, there would be no facts that needed to be checked in order to justify incarceration or execution.
If you think this sounds far-fetched, consider that John Ashcroft, during his tenure as Attorney General of the United States, asserted in U.S. Senate hearings that all those who publicly questioned the wisdom of government plans to spy on US citizens "aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve," alluding to the definition of treason in the Constitution. This is exactly the sort of thought-crime for which one could be arrested in various dictatorships, past and present. The senators were spared prison and the rack, but we know for a fact that others, less privileged, were not. In Afghanistan, Mr. Dilawar and Mr. Habibullah were beaten to death by US troops over a period of several days simply because the troops had vague suspicions about them, based on false accusations made by a person later revealed to be a double agent. The lesson to be learned here is that interrogation by torture represents punishment without a trial, based on suspicion rather than evidence, in which the process of accusing becomes the process of convicting. Following in this direction will surely lead us toward the horrific injustices of the Middle Ages, Colonial witch trials and Soviet purges of the 1930s. How many innocents will have to be tortured as our security services search for the true terrorists? Thousands? Millions? And how will we live with the knowledge of what we have allowed? A newly affirmed global ban on both the process (coercive interrogation) and the product (coerced evidence) would help us step back from this moral abyss.
The United States is going through a difficult period right now, politically, psychologically and spiritually. The careful, systematic and compassionate advocacy of the Geneva Conventions would help people regain their emotional equilibrium and long-term perspective, and help people to resist the seductive appeals of fear, war and revenge.
We invite you to join us in these efforts and to send any web site references, educational materials or personal statements on the above topics to the address shown below. Also, please visit our evolving web site: www.SupportGenevaConventions.info which will be adding many new features and references over the next few months.
rivers @ newconversations.net
1563 Solano Ave. #164
Berkeley, CA 94707