The Foreign Service Journal, September 2006

world do something like this no matter where they live? Even if only advisory, such a world assembly could give people who feel impotent and powerless somewhere to go to express themselves on the great challenges facing the human race. It might even move some to choose this as the vehicle for conveying their grievances — rather than suicide bombings or crashing airplanes into sky- scrapers. Getting the Ball Rolling One strategy to actualize many of these potential strengths was envisioned by the San Francisco framers themselves in Article 108, which details the process for making particular revisions to the U.N. charter, and Article 109, for summoning “a general conference … for the purpose of reviewing the present Charter.” Moreover, convening such a conference is not subject to the great-power veto. Such a meeting can be called by a vote of two-thirds of the General Assembly and any nine of the 15 Security Council members. (Incidentally, the language of Article 109, Section 3, indicates that the framers expected the member states to summon such a “general conference” after only 10 years — in 1955.) A call for an Article 109 charter review conference could become a powerful mobilizing force in civil society. It would provide something tangible and specific to urge upon our governments, while leaving open what might ultimately emerge from the process. It could assemble a broad coalition of supporters who might hold a number of different visions for a world order, but who could all agree on pursuing the process laid out in the charter itself to define the most appropriate vision for the challenges of the 21st century. In 1945, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, feared that the simultaneous dawn of both a timid U.N. charter and a new atomic age meant that “mankind has made up its mind for self destruction.” So he assembled some of the greatest intellectuals of the day, and grandly designated them “The Committee to Frame a World Constitution.” Are there any philan- thropists out there who might consider launching a “Committee to Frame a New U.N. Charter” today? It is hard to imagine anything that might better serve as an engine of our global political imagination. Singapore’s U.N. ambassador, Kishore Mahbubani, says the organization is “based on the strange principle that nation-states pursuing national interests will some- how take care of our global commons.” John Kenneth Galbraith, who died earlier this year, said not long ago: “The greatest political conflict of our time [is] that of national interest as opposed to transnational concern and responsibility.” And the late George F. Kennan, arguably America’s pre-eminent 20th-century foreign policy sage, floated the idea of a global “House of Councilors,” whose members would explicitly not represent nations or regions, but instead strive to identify the perspective of the whole, the transnational vital interest, the global pub- lic good. Perhaps we can peer even further into the future. Many thinkers have maintained that it is within the power of the human imagination to envision abolishing war itself. Many have suggested that organizing the world into separate sovereign states, each pouring enor- mous quantities of treasure, talent and often blood into the ability to make war on other states, is perhaps not the end of history. Many have imagined that someday there may be a next step in the social evolution of the human species. Nearly 700 years ago, in his De Monarchia , Dante insisted, “to achieve a state of universal peace and well- being, a single world government is necessary.” That remarkable proposition was elaborated in Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace , Jean Jacques Rousseau’s A Lasting Peace Through the Federation of Europe , H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia , Emery Reves’s The Anatomy of Peace , Vernon Nash’s The World Must Be Governed , Wendell Willkie’s One World , Bertrand Russell’s Toward World Government , G.A. Borgese’s Foundations of the World Republic , Mortimer Adler’s How to Think About War and Peace , and Grenville Clark and Louis Sohn’s World Peace Through World Law. And that same proposition was forcibly defended — especially around the middle of the last century — by figures like Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Sigmund Freud, Arnold Toynbee, E.B. White, Norman Cousins, Oscar Hammerstein, Carl Van Doren, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Owen Roberts and William Douglas, and future U.S. Senators Alan Cranston, Harris Wofford, Paul Simon and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Many of them felt their hearts as well as their heads moved by the words that had been uttered a century ear- lier by Alfred Lord Tennyson, who dreamed of the hour when we might “hear the war drum throb no longer, see the battle flags all furled, in the parliament of man, the federation of the world.” F O C U S 38 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 6