“Not one statesman in a position of responsibility has dared to pursue the only course that hold out any promise of peace, the courage of supra-national security, since for a statesman to follow such a course would be tantamount to political suicide.”
– Albert Einstein’s last written words, Apr 1955. Quoted by Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden in Einstein on Peace
1 Jan 2018 – Given the massive shift of world collective consciousness emergent after, among other astonishing developments, U.S. President Donald Trump’s arguably intended to provoke and dangerous Jerusalem announcement – and especially considering the dramatic response by member states at the United Nations (UN), now would seem the perfect storm, confluence-of-events time for the world’s genuine peacemakers to conduct an energetic push towards long-overdue reform of the UN, and making wars of aggression punishable. Or, in plain-speak, now is the opportune time to end forever in all its dimensions impunity for war criminals.
In the United States, for example, the Constitution allows for adjustments by the people as time goes by and societal conditions evolve, and the supreme U.S. law-of-the-land document has been amended a number of times when deemed necessary. Similarly, and invariably, the world and humanity evolves and conditions change to the point of requiring necessary actions correspondent to newly developed circumstances.
Let us call the proposed United Nations reform to the UN Charter a similar legally binding amendment, or treaty, or instrument, but – no matter the name and/or process necessary for bringing about truly effective legal enforcement on a global level – the vital point of such an initiative is making wars of aggression an action individuals (historically, in most instances the wealthiest and most powerful) will certainly think long, hard and twice about, because they are (now) subject to prosecution and punishment. This describes the basic foundation of deterrence, the legal term fully understood by any man or woman with a reasoning, functioning brain.
The reform we propose is as simple as simple gets, yet at the same time tremendously consequential in its potential:
Make it mandatory for each United Nations member state to sign the Rome Statute and agree to come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, or face their nation’s expulsion from the United Nations – period. Perhaps it is beneficial at this point to look at the history-changing example of what the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and its hundreds of global support groups accomplished:
May we suggest that a similar effort to end impunity for war criminals, embodied in and anchored on the simple United Nations reform just described, led by a new globally supported organization with the name “International Campaign to Abolish War”, would become the next recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for year 2018? It’s safe to say every human being on Earth would gladly welcome the elimination of both nuclear weapons and wars of aggression from the Earth.
Most men and women who pass this way and read these words feel the extraordinary nature of current events in aspects equally historical, international, and spiritual, and especially in the sense of intensifying inevitableness. Both ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn and 85-year old survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack, Setsuko Thurlow, spoke passionately to the world after accepting the organization’s richly-deserved 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance speech on behalf of ICAN, Ms. Fihn clearly and powerfully articulated that widespread, growing sense of inevitableness, when she said:
“Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us? One of these things will happen.”
ICAN’s name suggests the sole goal of the organization is abolition of nuclear weapons from the face of this Earth. But it can be said: given the likelihood any escalation of violence today approaching the destructive levels of World War I and World War II would involve the use of nuclear weapons – so in the ultimate, logical path sense ICAN’s vision is all about total abolition of both nuclear weapons and war.
Many are comparing the international situation today as more dangerous than that which existed during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and it’s likely the majority of men and women who come to read these words will agree. One senses that humanity is closing in fast on the time of maximum moral decision, or has perhaps even already arrived at its greatest collective rendezvous with destiny in recorded history. The decision upon which civilization now will depend for their very lives to continue, and begin again for those to come in future generations, is whether to take right action or not.
Deciding to abolish war forever is clearly taking right action.
There is only one human family. Arguably, an overwhelming majority of people the world over wish to live in human-created conditions guaranteeing their opportunities for experiencing some significant level of love, peace and harmony. War is undeniably in the way, and represents the absolute obstacle to achieving humanity’s highest vision. There is only one simple, yet immeasurably profound and unavoidable question. Why not take right action, and take it now?
Jerry Alatalo is a peace activist and writer from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the United States.