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World Citizen History

The Way We Were--And Still Are!

(Following is the text of a letter I wrote on November 23, 1948, to Dr. H. V. Evatt, president of the Third General Assembly of the United Nations, explaining my reasons for disrupting the Paris meeting.--Garry Davis)

Dear Dr. Evatt:

May I explain my motives in interrupting the proceedings of the General Assembly last Friday?

I must apologize, sir, not for the substance of my plea for a world constitutional convention, but for the manner in which I was obliged to present it. Although it was irregular, and likely to be called the work of an "exhibitionist" or "crackpot," I was firmly convinced that a dramatic appeal for world government as a route to lasting peace had to be made. Our world of troubled half-peace--a world of atom bombs, the Berlin impasse, of starving children and homeless men and women, of unreconstructed ruins and uncontrolled inflation, of the great arms race and cold and lukewarm wars--is fast moving toward the nightmare of Total War III.

I shall continue to work for the calling of a revisional conference under the provisions of Article 109 of the Charter, with the hope of getting at least a limited world federal government through the orderly processes of the United Nations.

Failing the achievement of this end, I shall join many others in working for the calling of an unofficial but strongly mandated People's Constitutional Assembly which will take an initiative which is not without precedent in history, although it has never been tried on a continental or world scale. The history of the forming of the American and Australian federal systems provides interesting evidence in support of the quasi-legal and extra-diplomatic roads toward governmental changes not achievable through conventional political means. (I naturally am not pointing to any exact parallels, but many of us believe that such an eventuality as an unofficial constitutional convention could succeed even in the face of strong and mature national sovereignties if the demand from the people is overwhelmingly manifest.)

You yourself have expressed concern over the structural weaknesses of the U.N., as have many other leaders today. In my opinion, the problem is so complex, and the changes so revolutionary, that our statesmen will not sincerely begin to try to effect a transferal of national sovereignty to a world authority until the demand from the people for this action is deafening, and can no longer be ignored.

Whether or not I am a fanatic, Dr. Evatt, is for you to judge, but in the light of present-day headlines, is my action so strange? We have fought as individuals; we shall die as individuals. May we not speak out positively for peace as individuals?

Please accept my assurance, Your Excellency, that my future plans include no more "out-of-order" demonstrations within the chambers of the U.N. But I shall continue to do my level best to mobilize public opinion everywhere else so that our statesmen may see that the people want them to take the "calculated risk" of world federal government. We must end anarchy among nations before it is too late.

This letter, sir, is not intended as a publicity release, and I shall not issue it to the press. It is sincerely directed to you, to explain my position.

Although my statement (Friday) was reported in the French press with little distortion, The Daily Mail (Continental Edition) published a completely fabricated account of what I said, apparently intended to make me out a Communist. I should like to mention, moreover, that the number of my friends and supporters in the audience Friday was exactly twenty-four, and even they were not instructed to act as a "claque." The audible support which astonished me as much as anyone else was honestly spontaneous.

With the warmest personal regard for your own courageous efforts toward peace in the face of almost impossible obstacles, I remain, sir,

Yours sincerely,

Garry Davis

Dr. Evatt's Reply

United Nations Nations Unis

Lake Success, N.Y.

Office of the President of the General Assembly

Paris, 24th November, 1948

Dear Mr. Davis:

I am much obliged to you for your letter of yesterday referring to the interruption of the proceedings of the General Assembly on Friday last.

I thank you for your explanations and at once accept your assurances as to your motives and objects.

I am extremely interested in your comments on the Charter of the United Nations, and any written communication that you care to address to me elaborating your opinions I shall certainly communicate to all the delegates of the Assembly.

Finally, I should like to thank you for your reference to my own work, and I hope that on some occasion you will pay a call upon the Secretary-General and myself.

Yours sincerely,

H. V. Evatt

President of the General Assembly

Mr. Garry Davis

Hotel Des Estats-Unis

135 Blvd. Montparnasse

Additional Support from England for the Oran Declaration

London, 29th November , 1948

We, the undersigned, have examined the attached declaration submitted by Garry Davis on the 19th November to the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It commands our full support.

We are conscious of the anguish and desperate desire for peace of the peoples of the world and humbly request that the Assembly shall extend its session for another week or at least one extra day to consider the Davis declaration.


W. Ayles, M.P.

Sir Loyd Boyd-Orr

Sir Adrian Boult

G. Cooper, M.P.

Lord Darwen

Rhys Davies, M.P.

Prof. Albert Einstein*

Lord Farrington

W. Forges (Member

Council, Crusade for

World Government)

Peter Freeman, M.P.

C.F. Grey, M.P.

C. Haden Guest, M.P.

Jean Mann, M.P.

*By telegram

From the Manchester Guardian, November 22, 1948


Paris, Nov. 21--The demonstration of the young American Mr. Garry Davis, "first citizen of the world," in the United Nations General Assembly has been given strong support by well-known French writers and journalists on the non-communist left. In Franc-Tireur M. Albert Camus, author of The Plague, writes:

"A man who refused the privilege of his nationality after accepting as an aircraft pilot the tasks it imposed during the war is not proscribed in the territory of the United Nations. A man who appeals for the peace of the world had not the right to raise his voice before these same nations. The lesson is clear. On the hill of Chaillot everything but the cause of peace is honoured. It is on that we must meditate."

M. Camus quotes the following French writers as giving their support to Mr. Davis: M. Andre Gide, M. Andre Breton (one of the founders of surrealism), M. Queneau (the novelist), Emmanuel Mounier (Editor of the monthly Esprit), Martin-Chauffier (a prominent art critic and left-wing journalist), and Jean Paulhan (former editor of the Nouvelle Revue Francaise). Claude Bourdet also gives strong support for Mr. Davis in Combat. It is evident he has acquired considerable importance as a symbol.

We Present Our Petition

4 December 1948

Rt. Hon. H.V. Evatt

President of the General Assembly

United Nations

Palais de Chaillot, Paris 16e

Dear Mr. Evatt:

On behalf of the few of the many who today support the ideal of world government, I have the honour to call to your attention, as President of the General Assembly, the following documents:

1) A petition acclaimed by an audience of 2000 in Central Hall, Westminster, on 29th November, and supported by Lord Boyd Orr, Prof. Einstein, and several British Members of Parliament.

2) A petition supported by an audience of 3000 in the Salle de Pleyel, and by the "Conseil de Solidarite."

3) A copy of a telegram from Professor Einstein to the meeting at the Salle Pleyel.

I should be glad if this material could be made available to the delegates for their consideration.

Most respectfully,

Garry Davis

Dr. Evatt's Response to Garry Davis' Letter of December 4, 1948

Dear Mr. Davis,

I have received your letter of December 4, 1948, and its appendices. I had copies of the letter and documents circulated among the Delegates.

I would add the following observations:

Above all, it is not possible for the General Assembly to proceed to examine formally and particularly your views and your statements. As you know, the agenda of the Assembly was extended to the special resolution regarding Mexico, inviting the Great Powers to make peace as soon as possible and to make other nations, which have contributed as allies to the victorious outcome of the war, work towards this effort.

This resolution sheds light on the fact that, without raising any doubt, the United Nations Organization, its General Assembly in particular, has not received the general power or the prerogative to make peace. Indeed the Charter itself (Article 107) stipulated that the Great Powers would make peace with Germany and Japan, outside of the body defined by the Charter, and the primary function of the United Nations would be to maintain international peace once this has been made (Article 27).

It is true that certain aspects of the problems of peace (for example, the Korean question, Trieste, the question of Berlin, the Italian colonies) have been included in the field or the jurisdiction of the United Nations. This is uniquely or principally because the Great Powers have not as yet reached an agreement on the arrangements of peace regarding Germany or Japan or even (in certain respects) Italy.

There is too much criticism, shortsighted, concerning the United Nations, on the part of those who have insufficiently studied their goals and their principles and in particular how the powers and the organization are defined and limited.

Every human of good will will see sympathetically the broad objectives of your Movement, which shares profoundly the desire for peace expressed by all the peoples of the earth. As for me, I would go further and I would be in full agreement with the ultimate goal of world federation and of world citizenship.

But the overly broad emphasis that is placed on this ideal objective tends sometimes to overshadow the necessity to realize the progress which leads toward this objective practically and gradually.

Those who take the position in favor of the ultimate goal, a world government, will tend to destroy this same goal, if they lack the support that is based upon the noble and practical goals of the United Nations.

There is nothing incompatible with providing support for the United Nations while simultaneously supporting the ideal of world federation.

We are in an era of cynicism and defeatism in large part because it just so happens that even before the peace had been made following World War II, people were disparaging the United Nations and people talked about the inescapability of a third world war.

As for me, I believe that the United Nations, by the actions of the General Assembly, of the Security Council, of the Economic and Social Council and of the other organs, will succeed in stopping the trend toward war, provided the people of all countries join together in the principles of the United Nations, as well as in their practical work conducted on a day to day basis.

Please be aware that the expression of the comments reflect my own position and is not officially that of the General Assembly.

I believe, however, that it is common to a very large majority of the Delegations, if not all of them.

I am confident in these terms that with you, your companions will clearly see their voice as a firm and practical aid "to give to the United Nations" every phase of their work.

In order to clarify certain citations in this letter, I have enclosed for you copies of the United Nations Charter.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Evatt

President of the General Assembly

Garry Davis' Speech at the Velodrome d'Hiver, December 9, 1948

At the Salle Pleyel last Friday I told you, in my bad French, my own story: I explained that I had given up my American passport at the American Embassy, because I understand that no passport can protect anyone against war.

You understood my bad French and you understood too that I was not going to deliver a speech. It is not only my case which is to be dealt with, It has long since gone beyond that.

On last Saturday I again went up to the steps leading to the Palais de Chaillot together with three friends of mine. We handed our collective petition to the office of the President of the Assembly.

We did not care about formalities nor policies.

On last Monday I went alone to see Dr. Evatt so as to draw his attention to the seriousness of our questions and the need for an urgent reply to the United Nations. Last night at 7 p.m. and then once more at 9 p.m., I rang up the office of Dr. Evatt and asked him: Where is the answer?

In this city, in this country and perhaps in all countries, a lot of people have joined us in waiting as they had joined in our appeal.

What are the "united" nations doing?

This afternoon, after 1 p.m., at the last minute, we received Dr. Evatt's reply.

Maybe, from a diplomatic point of view, it was clever to give us the reply so late. Just a matter of protocol, no doubt. But this proves as well as the text of the reply how great is the difference between the behavior of the United Nations and that of the people. In our good faith, simple and strong, we are concerned only with the urgent reality: to prevent the war which menaces us and which we do not want.

They are occupied with diplomacy and protocol.

But there is no protocol in death.

Dr. Evatt writes us that the General Assembly of the United Nations has not the power to make peace and that this is not its role. He says that "the principle function of the United Nations will be the maintenance of international peace after it has been made." As for our third question, he ignores it completely. He says that "it is not possible for the Assembly of the United Nations to consider officially our views and our declarations."

Our proposition for creating an organism which shall be able to effectively make and maintain a real peace do not interest the United Nations.

We can no longer permit ourselves to be led by statesmen who use us as pawns in the game of national interests.

We wish to be led by men who represent us directly: we, the individuals of the human community.

We want a world government.

Today's practical men have told us often: Yes, of course, a world government would perhaps be better, but that under present conditions, it is only a Utopia.

We believe, on the contrary, that it is utopian to think that a practical world menaced by famine and the blast of atomic bombs can long endure.

It has been said several times that my voluntary abandonment of my nationality could be considered as a symbol of the protest of the people against a world organization which is not fitted to the essentials needs.

Perhaps, but it is only a symbol like many others. It makes sense only if it can aid us in our fight.

Next December 22nd, the difficulty of official papers will begin again for me. Permit me to recall the facts to your minds.

My residence permit for France expired the 15th of August. The police let me know that it would be necessary to leave the country the 11th of September. The 12th I went to the Palais de Chaillot, and I spent a week on the steps. The 18th, the police led me to the Commissariat and an Inspector told me that the Minister of the Interior had prolonged my stay, "through kindness," until the 21st of December.

I replied to the Inspector that, for myself, I had not demanded any extension of my permit to stay and that, furthermore, I refused it.

The functionary was "ahuri" as the people at the American Consulate when I gave back my passport.

"What," he asked, "but what do you want then?

I told him what I came here to declare this evening.

I ask no privilege. I demand no expression of kindness.

All that does not interest me.

I demand that the status of a World Citizen be defined and recognized.

It is in my capacity as a citizen of the world that I intend to face the problems which will be put to me next December 22nd.

This is but the first step.

We have no illusions about the difficulties which await us.

But we have chosen between these difficulties and the massacre of war.

People of Paris, it is for you to act!

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