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Food Sovereignty, a Manifesto for the Future of Our Planet | La Via Campesina

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Food Sovereignty, a Manifesto for the Future of Our Planet | La Via Campesina

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM LA VIA CAMPESINA, AS WE MARK 25 YEARS OF OUR COLLECTIVE STRUGGLES FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY


Food Sovereignty is a philosophy of life.

It offers a vision for our collective future, and defines the principles around which we organize our daily living and co-exist with Mother Earth. It is a celebration of life and all the diversity around us. It embraces every element of our cosmos; the sky above our heads, the land beneath our feet, the air we breathe, the forests, the mountains, valleys, farms, oceans, rivers and ponds. It recognizes and protects the inter-dependency between eight million species that share this home with us.

We inherited this collective wisdom from our ancestors, who ploughed the land and waded the waters for 10,000 years, a period in which we evolved into an agrarian society. Food Sovereignty promotes justice, equality, dignity, fraternity and solidarity. Food Sovereignty is also the science of life – built through lived realities spread across countless generations, each teaching their progeny something new, inventing new methods and techniques which sat harmoniously with nature.

As holders of this rich heritage, it is our collective responsibility to defend it and preserve it.

Recognizing this as our duty – especially in the late ’90s when conflicts, acute hunger, global warming and extreme poverty were too visible to ignore – La Via Campesina(LVC) brought the paradigm of Food Sovereignty into international policy-making spaces. LVC reminded the world that this philosophy of life must guide the principles of our shared living.

The ’80s and the ’90s were an era of unbridled capitalist expansion – at a pace never seen before in human history. Cities were expanding, growing on the backs of cheap, unpaid and underpaid labour. The countryside was being pushed into oblivion. Rural communities and rural ways of living were swept under the carpet by a new ideology that wanted to turn everybody into a mere consumer of things and an object of exploitation for profit. Popular culture and consciousness were under the spell of glittery advertisements goading people to “buy more”. In all this, though, the ones who produced – the working class in the rural areas, coasts and cities, which included the peasants and other small-scale food producers – remained invisible, while the ones who could afford to consume with wander took centre stage. Pushed to the edges, peasant1 workers and indigenous communities worldwide recognized the urgent necessity for an organized and internationalist response to this globalizing, free-market ideology propagated by the defenders of the capitalist world order. Food Sovereignty became one of the expressions of this collective response.

At the 1996 World Food Summit, in a debate about how we organize our global food systems, La Via Campesina coined the term food sovereignty; to insist upon the centrality of the small-scale food producers, the accumulated wisdom of generations, the autonomy and diversity of rural and urban communities and solidarity between peoples, as essential components for crafting policies around food and agriculture.

In the ensuing decade, social movements and civil society actors worked together to define it further “as the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

The introduction of Food Sovereignty as a collective right changed how the world understood poverty and hunger.

Until then, especially in the early years of the 21st century, a narrow idea of “Food Security” dominated governance and policy-making circles. Noble in its intent, food security treated those affected by hunger as objects of compassion, risked reducing them to passive consumers of food produced elsewhere. While it recognized food as a fundamental human right, it did not defend the objective conditions for producing food. Who produces? For Whom? How? Where? And Why? All these questions were absent, and the focus was decidedly on merely “feeding the people”. An overt emphasis on people’s food security ignored the hazardous consequences of industrial food production and factory farming, built on the sweat and labour of migrant workers.

Food Sovereignty, on the other hand, presents a radical overhaul. It recognizes people and local communities as the principal actors in the fight against poverty and hunger. It calls for strong local communities and defends their right to produce and consume before trading the surplus. It demands autonomy and objective conditions to use local resources, calls for agrarian reform and collective ownership of territories. It defends the rights of peasant communities to use, save, exchange seeds. It stands for the rights of people to eat healthy, nutritious food. It encourages agroecological production cycles, respecting climatic and cultural diversities in every community. Social peace, social justice, gender justice and solidarity economies are essential pre-conditions for realizing food sovereignty. It calls for an international trade order based on cooperation and compassion as against competition and coercion. It calls for a society that rejects discrimination in all forms – caste, class, racial and gender – and urges people to fight patriarchy and parochialism. A tree is only strong as its roots. Food Sovereignty, defined by social movements in the ‘90s and subsequently at the Nyeleni Forum in Mali in 2007, intends to do precisely that.

This year we celebrate 25 years of this collective construction.

The world is nowhere near perfect. Capitalism and free-market ideology continue to dominate policy circles even in the face of unprecedented inequality, rising hunger and extreme poverty. Worse, new attempts are also being made to envision a digital future – of farming without farmers, fishing without fishers- all under the garb of digitalisation of agriculture and to create new markets for synthetic food.

All these challenges notwithstanding, the Food Sovereignty Movement, which is now much more extensive than La Via Campesina and comprises several actors, has made significant advances.

Thanks to our joint struggles, global governance institutions such as the FAO 2 have come to recognize the centrality of peoples’ food sovereignty in international policy-making. The UN Declaration on Rights Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas further re-emphasizes this in Article 15.4, when it states, “ Peasants and other people working in rural areas have the right to determine their own food and agriculture systems, recognized by many States and regions as the right to food sovereignty. This includes the right to participate in decision-making processes on food and agriculture policy and the right to healthy and adequate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods that respect their cultures.”

Some nations have also given constitutional recognition to Food Sovereignty. The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the industrial food chains have further reminded national governments of the importance of creating robust local economies.

Peasant Agroecology, which is fundamental to ensuring food sovereignty in our territories, is now recognized at the FAO as central to our fight against global warming. Current and previous Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations have endorsed food sovereignty as a simple but powerful idea that can transform the global food system favouring small-scale food producers. Sustained campaign by social movements have also resulted in several legal victories against corporations producing agro-toxins, other chemical inputs and transgenic seeds.

Yet, what lies ahead of us is a road ridden with many barriers.

The promoters of the capitalist world order realize that food sovereignty is an idea that impinges on their financial interests. They prefer a world of monoculture and homogenous tastes, where food can be mass-produced using cheap labour in faraway factories, disregarding its ecological, human and social impacts. They prefer economies of scale to robust local economies. They choose a global-free market (based on speculation and cut-throat competition) over solidarity economies that require more robust territorial markets (local peasant markets) and active participation of local food producers. They prefer to have land banks where industrial-scale contract farming would replace small-holder producers. They inject our soil with agro-toxics for better short-term yields, ignoring the irreversible damage to soil health. Their trawlers will again crawl the oceans and rivers, netting fishes for a global market while the coastal communities starve. They will continue to try to hijack indigenous peasant seeds through patents and seed treaties. The trade agreements they craft will again aim to bring down tariffs that protect our local economies.

An exodus of unemployed youth, deserting village farms and choosing wage work in cities, sits perfectly with their urge to find a regular supply of cheap labour. Their unrelenting focus on “margins” would mean that they will find all means to depress farm-gate prices while trading it at higher prices at retail supermarkets. In the end, the ones who lose are the people – both the producers and consumers. Those who resist will be criminalized. A happy co-existence of the global financial elite with authoritarian governments would mean that even the highest institutions – nationally and globally – meant to oversee and arrest human rights violations will look away. Billionaires would use their philanthropic foundations to fund agencies that churn out “research reports” and “scientific journals” to justify this corporate vision of our food systems. Every global governance space, where the social movements and civil society members campaigned hard to gain a seat at the table, will make way for Corporate Conglomerates who will enter the scene as “stakeholders”. Every attempt will be made to deride those of us who defend Food Sovereignty as unscientific, primitive, impractical and idealistic. All this will happen, as it did over the last two decades.

None of this is new to us. Those condemned to the peripheries of our societies by a cruel and all-devouring capitalist system have no choice but to fight back. We must resist and show that we exist. It is not just about our survival, but also about future generations and a way of life handed down through generations. It is for the future of humanity that we defend our food sovereignty.

This is only possible if we insist that any local, national or global policy proposal on food and agriculture must build from the principles of food sovereignty. The young peasants and workers of our worldwide movement must lead this fight. We must remind ourselves that the only way to make our voice heard is by uniting and building new alliances within and across every border. Rural and Urban Social Movements, Trade Unions and civil society actors, progressive governments, academics, scientists and technology enthusiasts must come together to defend this vision for our future. Peasant women and other oppressed gender minorities must find equal space in the leadership of our movement at all levels. We must sow the seeds of solidarity in our communities and address all forms of discrimination that keep rural societies divided.

Food Sovereignty offers a manifesto for the future, a feminist vision that embraces diversity. It is an idea that unites humanity and puts us at the service of Mother Earth that feeds and nourishes us.

In its defence, we stand united.

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Ralph Nader: No to Nukes, Yes to Ketanji Brown Jackson

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Ralph welcomes nuclear weapons expert, MIT professor Theodore Postol, to give us his insights into the possibility and the ultimate consequences of Vladimir Putin employing tactical nuclear weapons in the Russian conflict with Ukraine. And our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, weighs in on the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Plus, Ralph answers your questions about the latest Boeing crash and money in politics.

The Ralph Nader Radio Hour is a weekly talk show broadcast on the Pacifica Radio Network. Ralph Nader is joined by co-hosts Steve Skrovan and David Feldman for a lively informative hour of interviews with some of the nation’s most influential movers and shakers and thought-provoking discussions of the week’s news.

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Chuck W.

CHUCK W.: How to create the future when the world is upside down?

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It has been well over 70 years since the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Created by Eleanor Roosevelt and colleagues after the atrocities of WW2, it shows how we can govern through the Rule of Law instead of War.

Combined with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, It provides a roadmap of what we can do to enable a peaceful and healthier co-Existence.
But it takes more than just words. It takes action.

After ongoing failures at U.N. symposiums, this public health leader discusses ways to prevent continual crises from famine and climate catastrophe to violence and safeguarding public health and human rights.

How can we go from thinking about our own Nations to realizing that all decisions we make in one location affect and impact those living in another nation?

This lively discussion features Mobilized News’ Jeff Van Treese and The Other Chuck Woolery (not the TV guy) discussing what we as a society can, could, and must do to prevent ongoing crises.

Chuck Woolery (not the Game show host)

Chuck’s professional grassroots organizing and advocacy successes on global health issues led to his elected position on the respected Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals). Later he was then elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans). His focus has been connecting local and global issues to US national security interests and using non-partisan fundamental principles to advance public thinking and US policy on vital systems and structures essential to forming a more perfect union and sustainable environment.


Chuck credits much of his successes to his mother’s love, father’s violence, the study of Biology and wrestling (having qualified for the 1972 Olympic Trials only to find out he was seriously not qualified – but was honored to make it that far after a childhood of obesity and sloth.) “We are all”, he says “always wrestling with issues and concerns our entire life. Or we should be — given the persistent changes in our bodies and the world.” “Loving persistence” and “ruthless compassion” are two qualities his mentors offered him. Admittedly to his detriment he usually offers people what they need to know instead of what they want to hear. Chuck is an avid quote collector… one of his many favorites — “Science is my passion, politics my duty.” Thomas Jefferson

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A web of Life for ALL Life

Truths or Consequences

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The Age of Consequences of Systematic Failure: Our existing situations are not problems. They are Consequences

By Chuck Woolery, Former Chair, United Nations Assn., Council of Organizations (not the TV host!) and Steven Jay, Creative Director, Mobilized

“At the root cause of our problems is the failure to recognize that Independence is a man-made concept. The truth of our reality is that everything is connected to everything and therefore, everything impacts everything.  Every action impacts the whole. Mobilized is firmly rooted in this natural law.” –Chuck Woolery

Every day is a new story of systematic breakdown, of tragedy, a shooting, a broken system, the election of an incompetent sociopath, a social media fiasco, or media companies at war with each other.  It’s a constant struggle to keep up with it all.

We feel like screaming from the roof “What the F%&K is going on here?”   Or,   we can go down the rabbit hole and discover the root cause–the epicenter of most of our inherent, continual, and seemingly unsolvable problems.

What follows is a blog Mobilized released a few years earlier.  It is even more relevant now.  Some edits have been made and a few recently relevant events added.  Please share it with others if you find it useful


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The Age of Consequences of Systematic Failure: Our existing situations are not problems. They are Consequences

By Chuck Woolery, Former Chair, United Nations Assn., Council of Organizations (not the TV host!) and Steven Jay, Creative Director, Mobilized

Summary:  After the Great Depression and the end of WWII the general sense of the common good generated by these global calamities gradually disappeared from public discussion.  With the exception of some civil rights activities that did yield important civil progress things have gotten worse. And most agree, things are going to worsen more, before they get better.  This is an examination into why things have gotten worse. And how we must change to change things for the better.

America’s success in the world and our fear of Communism helped fuel individualism, greed, and selfishness (the illusion of individual separation from the whole). This largely un-examined mindset eclipsed the ‘united we stand’ American character. It was an aberration of logic, compassion, and empathy that basically steamrolled American politics into the train wreck we have today. Recently, technology greatly accelerated this dysfunctional trend.  A trend that had been well established by a largely unregulated capitalism system that had spread the dangerous meme of independence globally for the past few decades.

The tragic and lethal consequences are now around us everywhere in the US and abroad.  And instead of recognizing our collective mental flaw that got us here, and confronting it, many people have doubled down on their narratives.  They want to make American Great Again or finance a Green New Deal to bring back the comforts, prosperous conditions, and selfish culture that tragically nurtured our disconnect from reality. The fundamental truth that “United We Stand” – still stands. And divided we are going to fall.   This time it will be a hard fall. One we may not recover from.

  • Trump is not the problem. He’s a consequence. …
  • Climate change isn’t the problem. It’s a consequence.
  • Unprecedented obesity rates, opioid deaths, mass shootings, and suicides rates are not health emergencies. They are consequences.
  • Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water, Honeybees’ Colony Collapse Disorder, Florida’s red tide… these are not environmental problems. They’re consequences.
  • The continuing violence in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria are all consequences.
  • The Russian/Ukraine dilemma threatening nuclear Armageddon or the use of biological/chemical weapons with the potential to spark a hot World War III.
  • Radical extremism, WMD proliferation, and China/Russian cyber hacks are now top national security threats.  Again, consequences a poorly engineered global governance system.
  • Growing economic inequality, fake news, and loss of privacy are not dilemmas.

They are all consequences.

  • These, and most of the other problems we are now encountering at a breakneck pace in newspapers and in our lives are the inevitable consequences of our thinking and actions.  They were not however inevitable.

They are the result of our collective failure to do what we know is needed to prevent such problems.

“Human behavior is the greatest threat to human existence”  Dr. Monty G. Marshall

All Americans have solemnly pledged dozens, if not hundreds of times, “Liberty and Justice for all”. But our desire for comfort, wealth, distractions, popularity, and freedom comes with all too real life and death consequences.

Americans love freedom. It is all we really have.  But freedom also comes with consequences.   Some freedoms have arguably been worth the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives and trillions of our tax dollars. But it has been our overindulgence with freedom without the responsibility that is the fundamental cause of our (and the world’s) growing list of profoundly dangerous, destructive, unhealthy, increasingly lethal, and persistent consequences. Unsustainable consequences that were predictable and often warned about.  Costly consequences that were, and remain, related to a simple conceptual flaw within our mental calculations.

We believe and then act out of that belief that we are independent.  We are not.  Yet, as Americans, we reinforce that sentiment every 4th of July.   In reality, it is only a concept that doesn’t exist anywhere in the known universe.  And it has zero accurate applications here on earth.  Our Declaration of Independence should have been titled the Declaration of Political Separation.  Not as catchy!  But powerfully accurate.

It has been and remains our unyielding faith in, allegiance to, and reflexive defense of this flawed human principle that has mentally disconnected us from much of our personal, civil, environmental, social, health, and economic responsibilities. Like Neo in the Matrix, we all sense something isn’t right… but can’t see the truth;

Every aspect of our lives is dependent on other people, the environment, our nation’s laws, other nation’s laws, and most importantly, the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” which is expressed in the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

“Everything is connected, everything is interdependent, so everything is vulnerable”… “this has to be a more than whole of government, a more than whole of nation [action]. It really has to be a global effort.”   CISA (the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) Director Jen Easterly  (Oct. 29, 2021)

The growing mass of undesirable consequences that threaten our freedom, security, and prosperity were as inevitable as they were unintentional. But they are only self-evident when we are honest with ourselves about reality.

Our Founding Fathers understood reality as “Truths to be Self-Evident” based on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”. Their catastrophic error was failing to codify this wisdom into their new government blueprint — the U.S. Constitution. The consequence was a civil war that killed more Americans than all the wars our nation has fought in since then, combined. And some of those consequences remain with us today.

Far more Americans will die from preventable causes in the years ahead related to global factors SUCH AS terrorism, pandemics, climate change, wars, and poverty because the systems and structures that our Constitution protects today on both the national and international level still fail to codify the wisdom of “liberty and justice for all” in a world of irrefutable and irreversible interdependence.

Interdependence is accelerating due to the advances in technology that are accelerating exponentially.  During the same time, our government’s capacity for change (or adaptation to change) has virtually stopped.  And in some areas, it has actually reversed.

Even before Trump was elected a survey of US national security experts put our own nation’s “government dysfunction” as the second greatest threat to our national security.  Just behind terrorism.  It was higher than, China, Russia, Iran, N. Korea, and Climate Change.  Pandemics were not on the list.

The illusion of Independence underlies most of our short-term thinking, long-term planning, slow policymaking, and reactive actions.

We assume without question our personal, budgetary, institutional, and national independence. The endless war against terrorism (a tactic that cannot be defeated) has only accelerated our loss of freedoms (including privacy) and security. Our modern world of unprecedented and increasingly powerful, affordable, and ubiquitous technological capacity for WMD creation – and the increasing difficulty in accurately attributing the identity of the attacker, put everything increasingly at risk.

Imagine the loss of lives, freedom, and prosperity from a bioterrorist attack or global pandemic far worse than Covid19 or the 1918 Flu epidemic.  Unlike nuclear war, such a biosecurity threat is inevitable. Yet we remain lethally unprepared for a catastrophe that will NEGATIVELY affect every system and structure in our bodies, our homes, our economies, and the world.
We have based our policies on our illusion of independence – instead of obeying nature’s fundamental principles that are used in science and technology to engineering things that work like magic.  Medicine, instant global communications, electrical appliances, and tools that work to save and protect life, while making our lives more comfortable, profitable, and secure.

It is our flawed human assumption of independence that leads us to abuse or misuse many of these amazing science and technology tools — that results in the creation and exacerbation of many of our current health and environmental problems.  Sometimes with catastrophic results.  But easily preventable problems if we had followed the laws of nature and nature’s God.

If you doubt this read the preamble of the U.S. Constitution.  As you do, offer a school grade to each of the five clearly stated intentions to form “a more perfect Union.”

Then consider the fact that Abraham Lincoln wrote that our “Declaration of Independence” is our “Apple of Gold” and our “Constitution” is its ‘frame of silver’.  Yet our elected officials swear an oath to protect the Constitution believing without reservation that it will protect our freedoms and security.  How’s that working out?

Now imagine a government that is engineered on the fundamental principles offered in the Declaration of Independence. A government that … soundly embraces and promotes the responsibility of inclusion with ‘liberty and justice for all’, globally.


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Some have asserted that the primary fundamental principle in both the laws of nature and nature’s God is justice. Note that the foundation of every major religion is the Golden Rule.  To do unto others as you would have them do to you.   Anyone experiencing an injustice doesn’t need to be a religious believer to understand the supreme value of this.  Our US Justice Department offers two quotes engraved in its exterior’s stone.

“Justice is found in the rights bestowed by nature upon man. Liberty is maintained in security of justice.”    And,

“Justice is the great interest of man on earth. Wherever her temple stands, there is a foundation for social security, general happiness and the improvement and progress of our race.”

Yet our federal (and lower) systems and structures of justice are profoundly unjust. They are in fact “legal” systems in which it is better to be guilty and rich than innocent and poor. Many of our laws are simply unjust.   And unacceptable injustices can also be found in our nation’s economic, electoral, education, healthcare, agriculture, military, foreign policy, and intelligence systems.

Is it really any wonder that things don’t work, that Trump has so many followers, wars persist, the environment is trashed, and our society is ailing?

Every time I witness another failing in our nation, a phrase I heard last year comes to mind;  “How healthy can we be if we are well adjusted to a profoundly sick society?” We are afflicted with a societal mental illness;  Before Covid, the Surgeon General rated ‘loneliness” as our nation’s greatest health risk.   Our mind has the capacity to believe anything! Literally, anything. We don’t even do what we know we should.  The spread of fake news and conspiracy theories are just consequences of a flawed and sometimes corrupt government system.   This should all be stunningly clear…as with our inappropriate worship of independence and freedom without responsibility or virtue.

Again.  Every system and structure in our body, our house, our environment, and our world is interconnected and interdependent.  And all depend on the health and sustainable functioning of a just world order.   Our mind’s illusion of independence … disconnects us from our vital needs of love, a safe community, healthy food, and functional relationships.   These vital things we have largely taken for granted.  Thus we have insufficient respect for the natural systems that maintain our planet’s capacity for sustaining all life, human health, future prosperity, and ultimately our species survival.

There is no guarantee … our nation will last.

The Federalists worried that hostile nations could exploit any domestic divisions. George Washington warned in his farewell address that partisan “factions” could rip the country apart. James Madison feared that liberty could be lost by the “gradual and silent encroachments of those in power.” John Adams said, “There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide”. But, many in our Republic praise democracy, and rightfully blame both parties that are dominating our flawed two-party system that persistently delivers the consequences we are suffering today.

Some are proposing the creation of a “People’s Party”.  This puts too much promise in the will of the masses.   It offers a platform based on creative progressive or conservative ideas that are often devoid of fundamental principles. In other words – they would be engineering a political party that relies on creative and popular proposals that could win a majority.  Yet completely incapable of transforming the profound flaws in our current system and structures at either the national or international levels.

FACT:  Earth has an expiration date. And we the American people (and probably most of humanity) still reflect the opinion offered in the second paragraph of their Declaration of Independence.   It states “accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.” That’s bad!

But the tragic news is that the suffering that’s coming in our age of Consequences may be so great that our species may expire long, long before Earth. Given the acceleration of technology (WMD proliferation and AI) already knocking on our door, the majority of Americans or others in the world may not even get the chance to suffer the full effects of climate change. Due to a multiplicity of factors, time is NOT on our side.

If you are seeking the most practical action to take, a ‘justice for all’ system it is obvious that it would not be welcomed immediately by most policymakers or political parties.  Such a goal would require the legal protection of inalienable human rights for all and our environment with the force of law (ie the Rule of Law:  laws made and enforced by a democratic process, applied equally to all, and only used to protect human rights and the environment.    The only other option is what we have now.  The law of force.   This is where the protection of national sovereignty is more important than protecting human rights or the environment.  The working definition of ‘national sovereignty (another human-created concept using international law as it exists today with the UN) is the right of any nation to do anything it wants, to anyone it wants, anytime it wants within its own borders.  And, if it has nuclear weapons, it can do these things anywhere it believes it can get away with it.  Again, this is what we have now.  An irresponsible and unaccountable use of force prioritizing national interests which tends to accelerate chaos.  Chaos that often leads to refugees, the loss of freedoms, lives, prosperity, and our planet’s vital life support system.

There is a third option.  It would require the funding of those rights by the force of political will.   President Roosevelt offered the basics in his four freedoms speech; freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and … fear.”  Eleanor Roosevelt led the passage of a detailed list known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Like our nation’s Bill of Rights on steroids- but with no means of government enforcement.   Seven decades ago (December 10, 1948) this Declaration was offered in the context of world security. Those who had experienced World War II, the holocaust, and a new weapon that could vaporize 100,000 people in a second understood the essentials of ‘justice for all’ and these fundamental human rights.  But the UN’s lack of democratic power left it useless in this context leaving states’ rights above human rights.  This structural flaw in the UN resembles the original flaw in the US Constitution that led to our catastrophic Civil War.

What are some of UDHRs rights intended as a foundation for peace?  Universal access to clean water, safe sanitation, adequate food, access to basic health services, basic education, and an equal opportunity to earn a living wage are good starters.

Fortuitously, the fastest, most affordable, practical, and effective means of maximizing this movement of ‘Liberty and Justice for all” (both here and abroad thus laying the foundation for maximizing humanity’s freedom and security globally) is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These have already been agreed on by every nation in 2015 to be achieved by the year 2030.

It’s obvious that we will not get an enforceable Global Bill of Rights any time soon. But we could virtually enforce most essential human rights by funding the SDGs. The growing array of global threats to our freedom and security demands that we do this as rapidly as possible.

WARNING!   We have been repeatedly warned of the consequences of failing in prioritizing this human security approach.

In 1980 a bipartisan Presidential Commission concluded  “In the final analysis, unless Americans — as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world — place far higher priority on overcoming world hunger, its effects will no longer remain remote or unfamiliar. Nor can we wait until we reach the brink of the precipice; the major actions required do not lend themselves to crisis planning, patchwork management, or emergency financing… The hour is late. Age-old forces of poverty, disease, inequity, and hunger continue to challenge the world. Our humanity demands that we act upon these challenges now…” Presidential Commission on World Hunger, 1980.

Its commissioners specifically warned …“The most potentially explosive force in the world today is the frustrated desire of poor people to attain a decent standard of living. The anger, despair, and often hatred that result represent real and persistent threats to international order… Neither the cost to national security of allowing malnutrition to spread nor the gain to be derived by a genuine effort to resolve the problem can be predicted or measured in any precise, mathematical way. Nor can monetary value be placed on avoiding the chaos that will ensue unless the United States and the rest of the world begin to develop a common institutional framework for meeting such other critical global threats… Calculable or not, however, this combination of problems now threatens the national security of all countries just as surely as advancing armies or nuclear arsenals.”

They also stated “that promoting economic development in general, and overcoming hunger in particular, are tasks far more critical to the U.S. national security than most policymakers acknowledge or even believe. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, most Americans have been conditioned to equate national security with the strength of strategic military forces. The Commission considers this prevailing belief to be a simplistic illusion. Armed might represents merely the physical aspect of national security. Military force is ultimately useless in the absence of the global security that only coordinated international progress toward social justice can bring.”

In 1990 the nations of the world (including the US) agreed on funding a less ambitious but measurable, achievable, and affordable goals for the year 2000.  This was World Summit for Children.  Even though all governments at the time signed a pledge to “make the resources available” to meet these goals, few were fully funded or achieved.

In 2000 another more ambitious set of “Millennium Development Goals” was set for the year 2015.  These were also shorted.  Contributing to the wars, terrorism, climate change, refugees, famines, revolutions, state failures, infectious diseases, international crime, and genocides we’ve seen around the world and hounding us today.  Not as separate issues!  But as interdependent consequence.

If we fail this time in achieving the SDGs the deteriorating global conditions may overwhelm any chance of us or our children setting things right.

The discouraging news would appear to be that achieving these 17 goals would cost trillions.  And especially after Covid’s systemic costs, most governments have no money to spare.

The exciting news is that they don’t need to.  Governments just need the political will to freeze and seize a good portion of the estimated $32 trillion dollars that has been stashed in offshore bank accounts for years.  Thousands of accounts obtained by kleptocrats (dictators), oligarchs (their cronies), criminal cartels (drugs, guns, sex, hackers), violent extremist groups (terrorists, white supremacists…), and the extreme wealthy (avoiding taxes).   Most of these ill-gotten gains…should have been going to basic government services.  Now they can be devoted to basic human rights and environmental protection.

The political will could be generated if the general public is aware that their nation’s security and cherished freedoms depend as much on meeting the SDGs as they do on more military spending or a new “Space Force”.

This level of political will in the US could be achieved by progressives working together. With their millions of members personally petitioning their own Members of Congress with loving persistence.  This strategy and daily tactic is infinitely more powerful than voting every 2 or 4 years, protesting, or counter-protesting. If the peace, environment, and economic/social justice movements and their thousands of organizations came together to focus on one piece of legislation on all 435 House members, 100 Senators, and anyone running for these offices, our currently dysfunctional Congress could finally prove useful.  And Americans would finally have a government of “We the people” “by the people, for the people” with “a new birth of freedom” with “liberty and justice for all” that “shall not perish from this earth.” 

In the long run (if we have one) it truly doesn’t matter who is in office or what party they represent.  If fundamental principles are codified into laws, budgets, and all government action we could have the world we know is possible.  On earth, as it is in heaven.  A sustainable global garden of eating.

Given the multiple threats we face as individuals, nations, and a species it must be clear that few threats can be stopped with military power.  And, many are exacerbated by its unprincipled use.

Our primary goal as voters and citizens must be to recognize our global interdependence as the human race and the profound value of ensuring “liberty and justice for all”.  Make it your personal goal to educate your policymakers on this fundamental reality and act as though your life and your children’s future freedoms and security depend on it.

Connect the dots (everything is connected). See the web of life (all systems and structures are interdependent). Work for justice (always and for all) …or prepare for the consequences (which will inevitably happen and be increasingly catastrophic).

Chuck Woolery, Former Chair, United Nations Association, Council of Organizations
Steven Jay, Founder and Creative Director, Mobilized.news

 


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Roses.

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America loves to think of itself as a rose, in bloom.  We trumpet our freedoms and strength as if they are bright red petals on a summer day.  It’s a damn shame though, that for most of the world, for 6 or 7 decades now, they look at us… and they only see the thorny stem.

It was merely August, 7 months ago, that I decried the pointless and fruitless war in Afghanistan.  It wasn’t ever necessary, was doomed to failure, and represented a complete failure by our leaders to learn any lessons from history.  

I am a pacifist.  War is not the answer, and we’ve had 15,000 years to figure that out.  Over and over again old grudges birthed new conflicts.  So I decry this stupid war as well, the one Putin has started because he has nearly completed looting his home nation of Russia and now needs new lands to loot.  It is a pattern seen over and over again, so the fact that he is the most successful mob boss in the history of the world should not blind us to the fact he is also just another tinpot dictator flailing about in an effort to preserve his gains.  

Those are points 1 and 2: war is bad, and this bum is pretty run of the mill.  Point 3 is less obvious, but the Ambassador from Kenya made it very well in his speech the other day: nurturing grudges from the past does no good, it’s better to look ahead and build a better future.  This is something that is still possible, even though it seems unlikely with tanks rolling into Ukraine.  

Point 4: it’s shockingly hypocritical how we have chosen to ignore so many other conflicts because this one feels ‘closer to home’ for our politicians.  Syria has been mired in a water war for 8 years at least, too bad for them.  Yemen has been trying to throw off the yoke of their Saudi neighbors, but gosh darn it Mohammed Bone Saw is our ally; so you Yemeni’s get to die.  Gosh darn it.  But oh look, Europe has gotten it’s feathers ruffled because 20 years ago a bunch of venal politicians lied to each other and now tempers have flared about it.

Point 5: We must go back to my very first statement: learning from history is a MUST.  We failed to do so in our last 4 wars – – and pretty thoroughly lost them all.  We failed to do so at the beginning of WWII, when we chose to let Spain fall to the Fascists, namely to some guy named Franco.

Not all of us, natch.  Many Americans rightly saw the looming threat, and formed the Lincoln Brigade.  They fought and bled and died alongside the Republicans in Spain.  They lost, but they were on the right side of history.  And so it is with point #5… we need to be on the right side of history here.  

For 9 decades, since fall of 1945, the entire planet has lived under the shadow of the mushroom cloud.  It has, to put it mildly, clouded our judgment.  Most folk have pretended since 1991 that the cloud had lifted, but of course nothing at all had changed.  And so now two very large armies are skirmishing in the winter mud outside of Kiev, and mothers across the planet are wondering how they will be able to shelter their children if fallout comes their way.  

It’s unfortunate that the Russian people are going to be victimized just as the Ukraine’s people are.  They didn’t want war.  But they are trapped under his murderous sway, just as with Stalin and Lenin before him.

Pete Seeger told us that even pacifists should defend their home if it was invaded.  For years I wrestled with that, I told myself that pacifism means nothing if it is not absolute.  Fact is Seeger was right.  And Putin isn’t just invading Ukraine.  He is laying the groundwork for another time of soviet-style darkness for the whole world.  

The rose that America deems itself to be cannot fail this time to prevent the rise of Putin-style Fascism.  It galls me to say it, but this time we must set aside points 1 through 4 because #5 outweighs them all.  This war was preventable, yet it is here, now.  We made a deal with Ukraine when they gave up their nukes, we promised to protect them.  Before all that we founded the United Nations and wrote the UN charter, which specifically demands action in defense of basic democracy and human rights.  For these reasons, and for the ideals that we clung to as we defeated Hitler, this madman must be stopped.  Don’t let Putin’s paid lackeys Carlson and Trump pull the wool over your eyes.  After all, they have labored for ages to undermine the ideals of freedom and democracy.  

So it comes to this: it’s time for the thorns.  

I’m appalled at myself to be calling for war.  So be it, the time for diplomacy came and went, regardless of how I felt about it.  

I am a pacifist, though I never have been much of one.  My hope now is that the Allies act swiftly, and fully.  Don’t ‘half-ass’ it like we did in Viet nam, Iraq, etc.  Make a plan and commit to it.  Make plans not just for the battles but also for their aftermath.  And do it now.  There should not need to be a Lincoln Brigade stood up this time, governments should take the initiative.

The lessons of the Nuremberg trials were stark, and clear, and demanded that we never forget why that war was fought.  Once again a madman seeks to enslave the world, starting with his next door neighbor.  This time we need to rise against the threat, early enough to prevent a global catastrophe.


https://youtu.be/zZXuuKwhVvI

This version of “Morning Dew” features the song’s author, Bonnie Dobson.  It also has a calmness to it that I appreciate, as an older dude.  Of course it’s the most famous anti-nuke song of all time, it has been covered by just about everybody.  I first heard it done by Blackfoot, their version is a barn-burner.  Nazareth, too, tore the walls down with their cover.  But I’m old.  And tired, and this version sums it up best.  No war, no nukes.  The endgame is too horrifying to contemplate.  


https://www.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson/posts/497064328455471

 

“Rather than form nations that looked ever backward into history with a dangerous nostalgia, we chose to look forward to a greatness none of our many nations and peoples had ever known,” Kimani said.

https://www.npr.org/2022/02/22/1082334172/kenya-security-council-russia?

 

https://truthout.org/articles/chomsky-outdated-us-cold-war-policy-worsens-ongoing-russia-ukraine-conflict/

 

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/02/ukraine-russia-invasion-putin-kyiv-interview.html

 

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/christopherm51/ukraine-bomb-shelters-russia-attack-kyiv

 

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/44296/what-putins-options-in-ukraine-really-look-like

 

“People who place themselves in the camp of Vladimir Putin are not patriots, they aren’t America First, they aren’t Christians, and they aren’t pro-life.

They’re also not people who get to drape themselves in the flag, or invoke allegiance to this nation, or feign offense at kneeling football players, or spout some red, white, and blue nationalistic nonsense—because they never cared about any of it.” – John Pavlovitz

https://johnpavlovitz.com/2022/02/23/when-americans-support-murderous-foreign-dictators/?

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