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Milestones Along the Way: Our Achievements

The World Federalists of Canada and the World Federalist Foundation

The World Federalists of Canada, a unique policy and activist organization, approaches the world’s pressing needs for peace, human rights, sustainable economic development and environmental protection by advocating structural change and the application of democratic principles to improve the way the world community governs itself. The World Federalists of Canada is a nonprofit organization of Canadians who for more than 50 years have promoted the development of democratic world institutions for the governance of matters of common global concern. It is strictly nonpartisan.

Its charitable partner organization, the World Federalist Foundation, has since 1986 supported the research and education function of the world federalist movement in Canada – the study of peace, international organization, world law and federalist social development.

The World Federalists of Canada is the lead organization in the Canadian Network for an International Criminal Court and is a member in both the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and the Canadian Peacebuilding Co-ordinating Committee. The World Federalists of Canada is one of 24 national organizations belonging to the World Federalist Movement, which has its headquarters in New York. As a member of the World Federalist Movement, the World Federalists of Canada participates in international coalitions and other initiatives in support of democratic global governance.

Milestones Along the Way: Our Achievements

  • 1951 - Five independent world federalist groups – in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatoon – came together to form the World Federalists of Canada. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the world federalists understood the structural constraints of the United Nations Organization and the urgent need to develop democratic world institutions that could make and enforce world law. In the same year, a separate world federalist committee in the Canadian Parliament coalesced, growing over time to include more than a third of the House of Commons and the Senate and members from all political parties.

  • 1955 - A World Federalists of Canada delegation briefed the Department of External Affairs during a two-hour session in Ottawa about the possibility of a general conference on revision of the United Nations charter as provided under Article 109 of the charter. This was the first of many meetings with the Department on a number of world federalist positions.

  • 1960 - Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, a world federalist, voiced support for two world federalist proposals – the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the establishment of an international force strong enough to restrain nations from aggression (still not implemented by the world’s nations). That year, the Diefenbaker government also passed a Canadian bill of rights for every citizen, which Canadian world federalists had advocated in a 1950 brief to the Senate Special Committee on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

  • 1961 - The World Federalists of Canada supported the establishment of the independent Peace Research Institute in Oakville, Ontario, mandated to carry out an intensive and fundamental study of the problems associated with the maintenance of world peace. This was a quarter century before Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau created the autonomous, government-supported Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security.

  • 1967 - The World Federalists of Canada, with assistance from the Voice of Women, United Nations Association and service clubs, persuaded the Town Council of Dundas, Ontario to proclaim Dundas the first “mundialized” municipality in Canada, i.e., a fragment of world territory wishing to live in peace with the peoples of the world and to enjoy with them world government under the rule of law. Twenty-nine other Canadian municipalities eventually followed Dundas’ example and pursued symbolic activities associated with mundialization, including intercity twinning – a program that helped ease Cold War tensions.

  • 1969 - The World Federalists of Canada began urging the Government of Canada to support the proposal for UN jurisdiction over the use and conservation of the deep sea and ocean floor. The international agreement creating the International Seabed Authority, the Law of the Sea, finally came into force in 1994.

  • 1970 - The World Federalists of Canada worked with their American colleagues and others to create the International Peace Academy, a New York-based training facility for peacekeepers.

  • 1972 - Former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson became the first recipient of the World Federalists of Canada World Peace Award, perhaps the oldest continuing world peace award in Canada. The 2001 recipient, the 24th Canadian so honoured, was Lloyd Axworthy.

  • 1976 - The World Federalists of Canada led in the conception, launch and early financing of Operation Dismantle, which organized municipal referenda on global disarmament across Canada and the US.

  • 1986 - The World Federalists of Canada spearheaded the Nuclear Weapons Legal Action in Canada, mobilizing lawyers, activists, nongovernmental organizations and municipalities around the case against nuclear weapons and their use. The project, which produced a significant body of legal research, was the forerunner of the international World Court Project. It resulted in the 1996 advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the illegality of nuclear weapons.

  • 1987 - The World Federalist Foundation, formed in 1986, adopted Our Planet in Every Classroom project, through which copies of a poster displaying a NASA photograph of Earth as seen from outer space were placed in classrooms around the world.

  • 1993 - The World Federalists of Canada proposed a parliamentary assembly of elected citizens for the United Nations, modelled on the experience in the European Union. The evolving European Parliament has served as a model for this and other world federalist proposals. The World Federalists of Canada later applied this concept to the World Trade Organization to address its democratic deficit.

  • 1996 - The World Federalists of Canada assembled and chaired the Canadian Network for an International Criminal Court, part of the international coalition convened by the World Federalist Movement. In the year 2000, Canada ratified the Rome Statute for an International Criminal Court, a permanent court that will enable the world community to try individuals accused of crimes against humanity, thereby weakening the case for punishing an entire nation.

  • 1999 - The World Federalists of Canada co-ordinated Canadian participation in the monumental Hague Appeal for Peace conference, initiated by the World Federalist Movement and three partner organizations. The conference, which attracted over 9,000 people, coincided with the centennial anniversary of the first International Peace Conference in The Hague in 1899 and the culminating year of the UN Decade of International Law. In the same year, the Canadian world federalist journal on global governance issues, Mondial, was launched.

  • 2000 - The World Federalists of Canada identified 15 people from low-income countries to benefit from Canadian International Development Agency support and attend the UN Millennium Forum in New York on ways to strengthen and reform the UN. The World Federalist Foundation held a special event in Toronto on the theme of climate change as well as a banquet in Ottawa honouring World Peace Award recipient Madame Justice Louise Arbour.

    “Canadian World Federalists can look back with pride on their record of promoting peace and justice over the last five decades. You have consistently been at the forefront of Canadians working to build a world based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

    – Warren Allmand, President, Rights and Democracy, 2001

    Some Famous Canadian World Federalists of the Last 50 Years

    Warren Allmand, Solicitor General of Canada
    Allan Blakeney, Premier of Saskatchewan
    John Bosley, Speaker of the House of Commons
    Iona Campagnolo, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia
    Brock Chisholm, Director General of the World Health Organization
    William Dennison, Mayor of Toronto
    Marion Dewar, Mayor of Ottawa
    John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada
    Tommy Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan
    Herbert Hannam, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture
    Harold A. Innis, Head of the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto
    Leonard Johnson, Major General
    David MacDonald, Minister of Communications
    Flora MacDonald, Secretary of State for External Affairs
    N.A.M. MacKenzie, President of the University of British Columbia
    Elizabeth Mann Borgese, Professor of Political Science, Dalhousie University and Chair of the International Ocean Institute
    Mark MacGuigan, Minister of Justice
    Walter McLean, Minister of State for Immigration
    Ted McWhinney, MP and President of the Institut de Droit International
    Ovide Mercredi, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
    Roland Michener, Governor General of Canada
    Charles H. Millard, Canadian Director of the United Steelworker’s Union
    Howard Pawley, Premier of Manitoba
    Geoffrey Pearson, President of the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security
    Jean-Luc Pepin, Minister for External Relations
    Elmore Philpott, MP and Vancouver columnist
    John Polanyi, Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner
    W. Gunther Plaut, Rabbi of Holy Blossom Synagogue, Toronto
    Douglas Roche, Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament
    Edward W. Scott, Primate of the Anglican Church in Canada
    Lois M. Wilson, Senator and Moderator of the United Church of Canada
    Ian Waddell, M.P. and B.C. Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

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