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by Klaus Schlichtmann


ART. IX / 九条




Walther SCHÜCKING, The International Union of the Hague Peace Conferences


INDIA and the Quest for an effective UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION


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India and the Quest for an Effective United Nations

The Stakes, 1917 to 1947*

Klaus Schlichtmann


Since the September 11 terrorist attacks new uncertainties have alerted the international community. In order to define and better understand the new dangers we may have to look at old histories. Could the threat of terrorist fundamentalism present an opportunity for restructuring and strengthening the United Nations? Can the mistakes of the past be put right and how? Is there still a message for us today in Gandhi’s ideas of peace and non-violence?





‘I say again that … World War II has put the cruel science of mass murder into new and sinister perspective … the oceans have ceased to be moats which automatically protect our ramparts. … We must have collective security to stop the next war…’[1]

‘…public international law issues of peace and security should … be governed … by legal certainty.’[2]


In this narrative, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is the central character.

‘Mahatma’ Gandhi may well be regarded as the twentieth century’s foremost pacifist. Albert Einstein considered him ‘the only truly great political figure,’ and ‘the greatest political genius’ of his time.[3] In March 1942, following the United States entry into the war, the British government sent a mission to India that provoked the most remarkable movement during the war, culminating in the “Quit India” Resolution of 8 August. Irving Horowitz in his 1957 The Idea of War and Peace in Contemporary Philosophy maintained that at this decisive moment of India’s struggle for independence Mahatma Gandhi put forward a novel and striking solution that would ‘revolutionize the world’s outlook upon peace and war.’[4] As ‘a mode for arriving at a world state,’[5] Gandhi in 1942 envisaged an international order transcending the nation-state, or as he put it, ‘a world federation established by agreement’[6] based on non-violence and founded on the United Nations. This paper will give an historic account of the political developments on the subcontinent, to determine India’s ‘place in the world’, by considering her avowed aims and principles between 1917 and 1947.


I. The Groundworks

Though nominally India was a founding member of the League of Nations, politicians like Jawaharlal Nehru were critical: ‘This is nonsense. The so-called representatives (to the League of Nations) cannot be the representatives … unless the people of India choose them. They are … nominees of the Government of India, which … is just a department of the British Government.’[7] Indeed, while the Chinese were led by Wellington Koo, the ‘voice of India came, then and for too many years thereafter, not from the vast spaces of the subcontinent but from the dusty corridors of Whitehall.’[8]

India had entered the “comity of nations” late, unlike China, Japan, Persia and Siam, who had participated in the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907.[9] For the subject Indians political freedom meant the ‘absence of an absolute monarch and the presence of an assembly of representatives of the people.’[10] In 1917, Edwin S. Montagu, Secretary of State for India, in a ‘revolutionary declaration’, ‘promised’ the country ‘freedom.’[11] Prompted by the First World War, when ‘India’s support of the British war effort was of major importance in terms of men and money’,[12] Montagu declared in the House of Commons on 20 August that Britain aimed at ‘increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration, and the gradual development of self-governing institutions, with a view to the progressive realization of a responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire.’[13]

Though only about 3% of India’s most highly propertied populace could vote, a bicameral legislature was to replace the old unicameral legislative body at the national level, while the provinces of Madras, Bombay, Bengal, the United Provinces (U.P.), the Punjab, Bihar and Orissa, the Central Provinces, Assam and the North-West Frontier Province remained under direct British rule, with single-chamber legislatures. Montagu and the Viceroy Lord Chelmsford hoped that ‘as power was devolved by stages Muslim apartness and princely aloofness would diminish sufficiently to enable India to become a single self-governing unit.’[14] Consequently, from 1917 India was allowed to participate in the imperial conferences alongside the self-governing dominions.[15]

With the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms the Indian members of the executive were ‘in charge of “transferred subjects” like education, health and local government, whereas the British members held the “reserved” portfolios for home, revenue and finance.’[16] Foreign affairs and defense remained in British hands.

In December 1919, the constitutional reforms became law. Yet, the ‘complex process of restructuring’ was slow and created ‘inconsistencies’,[17] by retaining separate electorates for the Muslims, ‘incompatible with responsible government.’[18] Furthermore, the Rowlett Bills in 1919, though ‘never actually invoked,’[19] extended the wartime restrictions on individual liberties,[20] which dampened the impact of the reforms. The resultant protests provided the first opportunity for Gandhi, who had returned from South Africa in 1915, to test non-violent resistance ‘on a national scale.’ Subsequent events like the random shootings in Amritsar on 13 April, by a British Brigadier, on an unarmed crowd, killing at least four hundred people, boosted unexpected mass protests.[21]

Nevertheless, in 1920 India obtained ‘diplomatic recognition in London’ through appointment of a High Commissioner.[22] And while Gandhi conceded that ‘foreign affairs, political relations and defence’ could be ‘reserved in some manner to be defined,’ to the British government,[23] the British also appeared willing to discuss Dominion Status for India, and preparations were made for the first ‘Round Table’ conference.

Surprisingly perhaps, Gandhi himself did not attach much importance to “the constitutional niceties” of Dominion Status, saying: ‘I can wait for the dominion status constitution, if I can get the real dominion status in action, if … there is a real change of heart … to make the partnership a power for promoting peace and goodwill in the world…’[24] This line of argument corresponds to Gandhi’s Presidential Address at the Belgaum Congress in December 1924 asserting India’s ‘ability to be totally independent without asserting the independence.’ On this occasion Gandhi said:[25]

‘In my opinion if the British Government mean what they say and honestly help us to equality, it would be a greater triumph than a complete severance of the British connection. I would therefore strive for swaraj within the Empire, but would not hesitate to sever all connection, if severance became a necessity through Britain’s own fault. I would thus throw the burden of separation on the British people. The better mind of the world desires today not absolutely independent States warring one against another but a federation of friendly inter-dependent States. … I see nothing grand or impossible about our expressing our readiness for universal inter-dependence rather than independence.’

Both Nehru and Gandhi were obviously aware of the general trend to give the League of Nations “teeth” and far-reaching powers close to those of a ‘limited’ world government, when the Geneva Protocol was adopted in 1924. The positive intent by Britain to depart ‘from the paternalism of “tutorial commissions”,’ signaled the ‘tangible beginning’ of a ‘multi-racial Commonwealth.’[26]

The outcome of three Round Table conferences was the Act of 1935, which gave India a new constitution and anticipated a federal system but did not fulfill congress demand for ‘complete independence’.[27] The federation would become a reality when a sufficient number of states, i.e. half the state population of India agreed to join. Unfortunately this did not materialize.[28]

Most importantly, the conferences had not overcome the “three dualities”, i.e. ‘between the [British] Raj and its aspirant successor, the … government of the Indian National Congress’, ‘between Hindu India and Muslim India’ and lastly that ‘between British India and the Indian States’ ruled by the princes. Though India ‘advanced steadily towards freedom’, it also drifted ‘inexorably towards division.’[29]


II. Times of War

‘Gandhism and all it stands for must ultimately be grappled with and finally crushed.’(Churchill, 1935)[30]

When in September 1939 the war started in Europe, ‘the British Government unilaterally committed India to the conflict’,[31] and, ‘without even going through the motions of consulting Indian politicians about it.’[32] Not surprisingly,[33] some Congress leaders first had doubts whether this was ‘an anti-fascist war or … just an imperialist war aimed at maintaining the status quo,’ and requested that they be given a ‘declaration of the British war aims with regard to India,’[34] which was turned down. With Gandhi’s backing all Indian National Congress ministers immediately resigned from their offices in the provincial governments, and as a result of this “constitutional crisis,” British governors took their posts.[35]

As the urgency increased to procure greater Indian cooperation in the war effort, because of the advance of the Japanese in Southeast Asia, Britain not only was forced to finally make a declaration of its war aims[36] but also to consider a compromise to accommodate India’s political ambitions. The cabinet therefore sent Sir Stafford Cripps, a friend of Jawaharlal Nehru, on a mission to India in 1942, to negotiate a deal, even though Prime Minister Winston Churchill was ‘an uncompromising opponent’ of Indian freedom. When Churchill and US president F.D. Roosevelt had proclaimed the Atlantic Charter on 14 August 1941, enunciating ‘certain common principles … on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world,’ including ‘the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live,’ Churchill determined this had ‘no application to India.’[37]

Since the war had started, Gandhi was haunted by the ‘horror of seeing India militarised.’ As the fighting ‘ceased to be a distant spectacle’ and approached the Indian homeland, debate among the A-ICC over the question of defense intensified. Nehru wrote: ‘At no time … was the question of non-violence considered in relation to the army, navy, or air forces, or the police. It was taken for granted that its application was confined to our struggle for freedom.’ Yet it was ‘true that it had a powerful effect on our thinking in many ways, and it made Congress strongly favor world disarmament and a peaceful solution of all international … disputes.’[38] In 1940 the A-ICC completely followed Gandhi in applying non-violence also to India’s external affairs, declaring it ‘firmly’ believed

‘in the policy and practice of non-violence, not only in the struggle for Swaraj, but also, in so far as this may be possible of application, in free India. The Committee is convinced, and recent world events have demonstrated, that complete world disarmament is necessary and the establishment of a new and just political and economic order, if the world is not to destroy itself and revert to barbarism. A free India will, therefore, throw all her weight in favour of world disarmament … it is with this objective in view that the people of India desire to attain the status of a free and independent nation.’[39]

Interestingly, just prior to Cripps’ arrival,Gandhi and Chiang Kai-shek, ‘a friend of Indian self-determination,’[40]in February 1942, met in Calcutta. It is ‘one of those events which may change the course of history,’ John Gunther observed in his momentous Inside Asia. Chiang who had recently become Supreme Allied Commander, sought to attain ‘the unity of the 450,000,000 people of China and the 388,000,000 people of India in a common war effort, and to stimulate the Indian nationalist movement.’[41] Needless to say, Gandhi and Nehru had full sympathy for China’s cause, and wanted India to participate as an equal partner in the fight against Japanese aggression; for that Gandhi was willing even to compromise by allowing Indians to actually fight,[42] and letting the Allied Powers under some kind of treaty ‘keep their armed forces in India and use the country as a base for operations against the threatened Japanese attack.’[43]In an interview with Reuter’s on 21 June Gandhi specified what he had in mind: ‘...a treaty between United Nations and India for the defence of China against Japanese aggression.’[44]


III. The Cripps Mission

On 23 March Sir Stafford Cripps arrived in India. Conditions for the mission’s success were favorable, as there had been a reshuffling of the British cabinet friendly to the Indian cause. At that time it had been pronounced that ‘India would be given a seat in the war cabinet, like the dominions, and on the Pacific War Council.’ Also, Lord Cranborne, the ‘new colonial secretary, stated in the House of Lords that Britain “is in favor of India’s political freedom”.’ Apparently, Cripps had ‘agreed to enter the government only on this condition.’ Furthermore, US president Roosevelt in a statement on 2 February had reassured the Indians that the Atlantic Charter was to apply to ‘the whole world,’ contradicting Churchill’s previous statement.[45]

The Chinese Premier, supporting the Indian position, said:

‘I hope Britain, without waiting for any demand on the part of the Indian people, as speedily as possible will give them real political power so they will be in a position to develop further their spiritual and material strength. … For the sake of civilization and human freedom, China and India should give their united support to the principles of the Atlantic Charter and ally themselves against aggression.’[46]

Within a few days, however, it became clear that the British government had no intention to give the Indians any responsible positions in the government and defense of India. As Nehru later recounts, it suddenly ‘transpired that all our previous talk was entirely beside the point, as there were going to be no ministers with any power.’[47] After the breakdown of the negotiations,[48] following his initial “Quit India” call in April, Gandhi wrote to the “Generalissimo” on 14 June:

‘I am anxious to explain to you that my appeal to the British power to withdraw from India is not meant in any shape or form to weaken India’s defence against the Japanese or embarrass you in your struggle. India must not submit to any aggressor or invader and must resist him. I would not be guilty of purchasing the freedom of my country at the cost of your country’s freedom. That problem does not arise before me as I am clear that India cannot gain her freedom in this way, and a Japanese domination of either India or China would be equally injurious to the other country and to world peace. That domination must therefore be prevented and I should like India to play her natural and rightful part in this. I feel India cannot do so while she is in bondage.’[49]

While Gandhi did believe that non-violent resistance could also be applied against the invading Japanese, and had tried to influence Chiang on this account, by mid-1942, ‘the gap between Gandhi and most of his Congress colleagues closed,’ when ‘the apostle of total pacifism’ finally adopted ‘a measure of political realism and agreed that India could not in the event of immediate independence do without the assistance of allied soldiers for her defence.’[50]

Of course anyway, Gandhi was not so naïve as to believe that Indian security or for that matter, world peace and international relations could be based solely on goodwill and non-violence. Peace, justice and security required organization. As Kenneth Boulding argued some time ago:

‘Just as war is too important to leave to the generals so peace is too important to leave to the pacifists. It is not enough to condemn violence, to abstain from it, or to withdraw from it. There must be an organization against it; in other words, institutions of conflict control or, in still other words, government. The case for world government to police total disarmament … seems to me absolutely unshakeable ... In general, we know the main lines of the kind of world organization that can eliminate the present dangers and give us permanent peace. What we do not know is how to get to it. … Where, then, are the new ideas and the new images of the future that look like upward paths? One is clearly the idea of non-violent resistance associated with the name of Gandhi.’[51]

Gandhi had reiterated his stance in an interview to the New York Times on 22 April 1940,[52] saying he would ‘welcome a world federation of all the nations of the world.’ But he considered a ‘federation of the Western nations only’ would be ‘an unholy combination and a menace to humanity. In my opinion a federation excluding India is now an impossibility. India has already passed the stage when she could be safely neglected.’


            Attempts at Mediation

Gandhi’s peace efforts included attempts to convince the Axis powers to put an end to their aggressive pursuits. In a letter to Hitler in December 1940 (which, however, was not sent) he stressed: ‘we would never wish to end the British rule with German aid,’ and warned the “Führer”:

‘You are leaving no legacy to your people of which they would feel proud. They cannot take pride in a recital of cruel deed, however skillfully planned. I, therefore, appeal to you in the name of humanity to stop the war. You will lose nothing by referring all the matters of dispute between you and Great Britain to an international tribunal of your joint choice. If you attain success in the war, it will not prove that you were in the right. It will only prove that your power of destruction was greater. Whereas an award by an impartial tribunal will show as far as it is humanly possible which party was in the right.’[53]

In July 1940 he had written an appeal to ‘every Briton’, ‘wherever he may be now,’ commending that they ‘accept the method of non-violence instead of that of war for the adjustment of relations between nations’; ‘non-violent non-cooperation’ was a ‘matchless weapon’: ‘I have applied it in every walk of life, domestic, institutional, economic and political. I know of no single case in which it has failed.’[54] And now, prior to launching the Quit India movement, he wrote another appeal, ‘to every Japanese’. In this he ‘took care to make it plain that the demand for the British to quit India signaled no welcome for the Japanese but quite the reverse: they could expect to meet both allied troops and a resisting population if they invaded an India granted its liberty.’[55] Gandhi wrote:[56]

‘I must confess at the outset that though I have no ill-will against you, I intensely dislike your attack upon China. From your lofty height you have descended to imperial ambition. You will fail to realize that ambition and may become the authors of the dismemberment of Asia, thus unwittingly preventing World Federation and brotherhood without which there can be no hope for humanity. … I was thrilled when in South Africa I learnt of your brilliant victory over Russian arms. … It was a worthy ambition of yours to take equal rank with the great powers of the world. Your aggression against China and your alliance with the Axis powers was surely an unwarranted excess of the ambition. … You have been gravely misinformed, as I know you are, that we have chosen this particular moment to embarrass the Allies when your attack against India is imminent. … Our movement demanding the withdrawal of the British power from India should in no way be misunderstood.’

Shortly afterwards, Gandhi replied to a question in his Ashram’s question box concerning world federation: ‘Instead of striving for India’s freedom why would you not strive for a far greater and nobler end – world federation? Surely this will automatically include India’s freedom as the greater includes the less.’ This was his answer:

‘There is an obvious fallacy in this question. Federation is undoubtedly a greater and nobler end for free nations. It is a greater and nobler end for them to strive to promote federation than be self-centred, seeking only to preserve their own freedom. … The very first step to a world federation is to recognize the freedom of conquered and exploited nations. Thus, India and Africa have to be freed. The second step would be to announce to and assure the … the Axis powers, that immediately after the war ends, they will be recognized as members of the world federation in the same sense as the Allies. … If this is not forthcoming, the federation will fall to pieces … it has to come about voluntarily. … non-violence is the basis of voluntariness. It is because of …that … (India) must have immediate freedom to … play its part.[57]


            IV. The “Quit India” Resolution

The original Draft by Gandhi of the “Quit India” resolution is dated 27 April 1942.[58] As Gandhi related to Louis Fischer in a week-long interview, it was ‘the Cripps fiasco that inspired the idea’ of asking for the ‘complete and irrevocable withdrawal’ of British power from India,[59] because in this way, and in this way only could India become part of and help in the United Nations effort to win the war. The resolution strongly disapproved of the British ‘policy of mistrust’, and obfuscation, and spelled out the ‘principles of nonviolent non-cooperation’, but was rejected by the All-India Congress Working Committee in favor of a modified version submitted by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

The aforementioned Resolution stressed Congress was ‘agreeable to the stationing of the armed forces of the Allies in India, should they so desire, in order to ward off and resist Japanese or other aggression and to protect and help China.’ Obviously, the call for British withdrawal was ‘never intended to mean the physical withdrawal of all Britishers from India.’[60] There was an intense awareness that Indian unity was at stake. To Louis Fischer’s question concerning Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s aim to create an independent Pakistan, Gandhi answered: ‘I have told you before, he will only give it up when the British are gone and when there is therefore nobody with whom to bargain.’[61]

In his speech to the All-India Congress, introducing the final “Quit India” Resolution, Gandhi on 7 August confirmed:

‘We do not want to remain frogs in a well. We are aiming at world federation. It can only come through non-violence. Disarmament is possible only if you use the matchless weapon of non-violence. There are people who may call me a visionary, but I am a real bania [shrewd business man] and my business is to obtain swaraj [home rule]. … I want you to adopt non-violence as a matter of policy. With me it is a creed, but so far as you are concerned I want you to accept it as policy. As disciplined soldiers you must accept it in toto, and stick to it when you join the struggle.’[62]

The Resolution finally adopted on 8 August spelled out with precision and lucidity that ‘the immediate ending of British rule in India is an urgent necessity, both for the sake of India and for the success of the cause of the United Nations. The continuation of that rule is degrading and enfeebling India and making her progressively less capable of defending herself and of contributing to the cause of world freedom.’ This measure would ‘not only affect materially the fortunes of the war, but will bring all subject and oppressed humanity on the side of the United Nations,’ and fill the ‘peoples of Asia and Africa … with hope and enthusiasm.’ Furthermore, it would have to be ‘clearly understood’ that countries presently under Japanese control ‘must not subsequently be placed under the rule or control of any other Colonial Power.’ More specifically, the Committee expressed its

‘opinion that the future peace, security and ordered progress of the world demand a world federation of free nations, and on no other basis can the problems of the modern world be solved. Such a world federation would ensure the freedom of its constituent nations, the prevention of ag­gression and exploitation by one nation over another, the protection of national minorities, the advancement of all backward areas and peoples, and the pooling of the world’s resources for the common good of all. On the establishment of such a world federation, disarmament would be practicable in all countries, national armies, navies and air forces would no longer be necessary, and a world federal defence force would keep the world peace and prevent aggression. An independent India would gladly join such a world federation and cooperate on an equal basis with other countries in the solu­tion of international problems. Such a federation should be open toall nations … In view of the war, however, the federation must inevitably, to begin with, be confined to the United Nations, such a step taken now will have a most powerful effect on the war, on the peoples of the Axis countries, and on the peace to come. … Lastly … the A-ICC wishes to make it quite clear … that by embarking on a mass struggle, it has no intention of gaining power for the Congress. The power, when it comes, will belong to the whole people of India.’[63]

With the resolution passed, ‘a mass struggle on non-violent lines on the widest possible scale’ started all over India.[64] ‘In the early hours of August 9, 1942, only a few hours after the termination of the climactic session … in Bombay … shortly after the many leaders gathered there had returned to their residences’, police began arresting all of them,[65] many of whom were taken to Ahmadnagar Fort. Gandhi was taken to Aga Khan Palace near Poona, while subsequently all over the country arrests were made. As the revolution swept across the country, by October in Bihar province alone, ‘jails were crammed with 27,000 prisoners.’[66] Muslims generally ‘kept aloof, offering support neither to the nationalist uprising nor to their supposed British benefactors,’ and to the surprise of Lord Linlithgow there was no communal violence.[67]


V. The United Nations, Hope in an Imperfect World

Obviously, having been an alleged founding member of the League of Nations, India should have participated in the Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco United Nations Conferences on her own terms.[68] On hindsight it appears as a serious handicap that the U.N. should have started off with such a dissonant note.[69] Indeed today, not the fact that the permanent members of the Security Council represent the victors of the Second World War is the handicap, but that the Council enshrines European colonial power, as a relic of days long past.

On the eve of the United Nations conference held in San Francisco Gandhi issued the following statement: ‘There will be no peace for the Allies and the world unless they shed their belief in the efficacy of war and its accompanying terrible deception and fraud and are determined to hammer out real peace based on freedom and equality of all races and nations. Exploitation and domination of one nation over the other can have no place in a world striving to put an end to all wars. … War is a natural expression of the desire for exploitation and [the] atom bomb its inevitable consequence.’[70] Gandhi warned that the ‘fruits of peace must be equally shared,’ and there should be ‘no armed peace imposed upon the forcibly disarmed,’ pleading that ‘[a]ll will be disarmed.’ In addition, as indeed the U.N. Charter later stipulated, there should be ‘an international police force to enforce the highest terms of peace.’[71]

As noted above, Gandhi wanted world federation to come about ‘voluntarily,’ insisting non-violence was ‘the basis of voluntariness.’ This formula – “by agreement” or “voluntarily” – was frequently used by pacifists.[72] Similarly, Albert Einstein in answer to a young German refugee and pacifist on 20 March 1951 stressed: ‘Revolution without the use of violence was the method by which Gandhi brought about the liberation of India. It is my belief that the problem of bringing peace to the world on a supranational basis will be solved only by employing Gandhi’s method on a large scale.’[73]

Before 14 August 1947, Gandhi and Nehru worked untiringly to keep the subcontinent from being broken up. At about this time also, a great number of international pacifists, including Aldous Huxley, Rabindranath Tagore, Reginald Reynolds and Jawaharlal Nehru planned a “World Pacifist Meeting” for 1948 in Santiniketan, ‘to provide an opportunity … to meet and discuss with Gandhiji the ways of achieving a Pacifist World Order.’[74] Before the project could be realized, Gandhi was assassinated.

Nehru, as also later the Indian President, professor Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan,[75] and others, repeatedly after independence spoke up for a politically unified world. In a broadcast in September 1946, Nehru said:

‘The world, in spite of its rivalries and hatreds and inner conflicts, moves inevitably towards closer cooperation and the building up of a world commonwealth. It is for this One World that free India will work, a world in which there is free cooperation of free peoples, and no class or group exploits another.’[76]

And on 22 January 1947 Nehru said:

‘We wish for peace. We do not want to fight any nation if we can help it. The only possible real objective that we, in common with other nations, can have is the objective of cooperating in building up some kind of world structure, call it One World, call it what you like. The beginnings of this world structure have been laid in the United Nations Organization. It is still feeble; it has many defects; nevertheless, it is the beginning of the world structure. And India has pledged herself to cooperate in its work.’[77]

When Nehru traveled in the United States between October and November 1948 he had the opportunity to address the issue not only with US President Harry Truman but with a great number of people including Eleanor Roosevelt, John Dewey, nuclear physicists J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. In a speech before the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and the Foreign Policy Association he asserted that ‘World Government must come … The alternative to a World Government is a disaster of unprecedented magnitude.’ The basis for this much-needed development was the United Nations.[78]

Albert Einstein in fact had sent a long letter to the Soviet Academy of Sciences in December 1947 asking the Soviets to cooperate in bringing the world under the rule of law,[79] a proposal that was rejected.[80] While there was disappointment in some quarters about the “minimalist” U.N. Charter, the movement for abolishing war (and creating the necessary institutions toward that end), was strong among Western democracies, in India and Japan. A good two years later Einstein could still say: ‘I feel that the influence of India in international affairs is growing and will prove beneficent. I have studied the works of Gandhi and Nehru with real admiration. India’s forceful policy of neutrality in regard to the American-Russian conflict could well lead to an unified attempt on the part of the neutral nations to find a supranational solution to the peace problem.’[81] In retrospect India perhaps, by remaining neutral, not only helped restrain the USSR but also eventually contributed to the disposal of communist rule in Russia.



‘Whatever the subjective intent, the objective fact is clear. The rejection of violent means, the faith in the power of love, the rejection of material gain, was a philosophy that promoted the cause of nationalism in the specific historical circumstances modern India found itself. But in so doing, Gandhi revealed an uncomfortable truth, that pacifism became a call to action, to conflict as it were. …just as the individual must transcend his ego, the State must overcome its essentially violent nature, that is, it must abolish itself. In its place is to be “a world federation established by agreement”.’[82]

            As a result of our inquiry we may draw certain definite conclusions. Gandhi’s aims in 1942 were: to (1) rally all Indians, Hindus and Muslims, to a single cause; (2) avert Indian partition; (3) guarantee India’s full independence from British dominance; (4) make India an example to follow for decolonization; (5) cooperation with Asian and African counterparts for world peace and development; (6) ensure genuine Indian participation in the post-war peace conference; (7) make India a champion of world disarmament, and (8) a constitutive member of a future world federation without which disarmament and a permanent peace would be impossible. His great accomplishment for all time was to recognize the aspirations and requirements of the times, and to take the action necessary to accomplish these aims. While this was foiled by Great Britain, his example remains to be followed in the world.



Having cast terror on the world twice in the last century, and being the chief responsible party for more than hundred years of colonial exploitation, the effects of which are still felt today, it may be the Europeans who might want to take steps toward a just and peaceful world order, based on the rule of law and the consent of the governed, by conferring on the UN their combined strength and good will. Europe can make the United Nations work – and fulfill a great historic purpose. To be successful it will have to aim ‘at the eradication of the seeds of war from the social and economic life of man.’[83]

When the Europeans have decided their place in the world,[84] defined their new position and purpose in the Security Council and in the process injected the necessary changes in its constitution, by purging the U.N. of an anachronistic, colonial relic, and implementing a common European representation, the permanent members are reduced to four. Replacing the colonial proxies, now the empty seat can go to the South. This automatically and unquestionably would make the Council vastly more representative.[85] If India were willing to take the responsibility and make its armed forces, assistance and facilities available to the Security Council, this – granting at the same time certain privileges to India’s neighbors – would greatly enhance stability in South and Central Asia, and the world, for a long time to come.

At the same time, a definite time frame should be set for future comprehensive U.N. reforms, enlargement of the Security Council to represent other regions (including pacifist Japan), and to obtain general and complete disarmament under strict and effective control.[86]


*  Lecture at the 19th General Conference of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), Seoul, Republic of Korea, 2-5 July 2002.


[2]  Thilo Marauhn, “The Debate about a Revolution in Military Affairs – A Comment in the Light of Public International Law,” Die Friedens-Warte 77, no. 4 (2002), p. 426.

[3]  Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden, eds. Einstein on Peace (New York: Schocken, 1968), p. 569 and 584.

[4]  Wit and Wisdom of Gandhi, ed. and introd. H.A. Jack (Boston, 1951), p. 165, quoted in Irving L. Horowitz, The Idea of War and Peace in Contemporary Philosophy, Introductory Essay by Roy Wood Sellars (New York: Paine-Whitman, 1957), p. 100.

[5]  Horowitz, Idea, p. 105 (emphasis added).

[6]  Wit and Wisdom, p. 121, in Horowitz, Idea, p. 105.

[7] Jawaharlal Nehru, Glimpses of World History (Oxford University Press, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, 1982), p. 463. And ibid., p. 682: ‘India, curiously enough, became an original member of the League, in flat contradiction of the provision that only self-governing States could be members. Of course by “India” was meant the British Government of India and by this clever dodge the British Government managed to get an extra representative.’

[8] F.P. Walters, A History of the League of Nations (London, New York and Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1960), p. 117.  However, in 1924, a delegation was for the first time led by an Indian. Ibid., p. 414.

[9]  Perhaps understandably from an Indian point of view, Pandit Nehru dismissed the Hague conferences, discarding and denying their relevance with respect to the development of binding world law and order, and failing to see them as the logical outcome of the age of enlightenment, and the “oriental renaissance”. In his opinion, they were ‘a curious attempt at peace’, in which ‘[n]othing of the least importance was done’. Nehru, Glimpses, p. 615. For an argument asserting the significance of the oriental renaissance for the development of the idea of organized peace see Klaus Schlichtmann, “The West, Bengal Renaissance and Japanese Enlightenment. A Critical Inquiry into the History of the Organization of the World Around 1800,” Kieler Festschrift für Hermann Kulke zum 65. Geburtstag (Hamburg: EB-Verlag, 2003), and, by the same author, ‘Japan, Germany and the Idea of the two Hague Peace Conferences’, in: Peter van den Dungen and Lawrence S. Wittner (eds.), Historical Studies of Peace Activism at the Grassroots and Elite Levels, Special Issue of the JOURNAL OF PEACE RESEARCH (2003).

[10]  Nirad C. Chaudhuri, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (Mumbay etc: Jaico), 1998, p. 261.

[11]  R.J. Moore, The Crisis of Indian Unity, 1917–1940 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), p. vii. Already in 1858 Queen Victoria had ‘explicitly promised equal treatment to her Indian subjects.’ Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, A History of India (Calcutta etc.: Rupa), 1991, p. 270.

[12] Kulke/Rothermund, History, p. 272.

[13] Judith M. Brown, Gandhi Prisoner Of Hope, Bombay (Calcutta and Madras: Oxford University Press), 1992, p. 104.

[14] Moore, Crisis, p. vii.

[15] Ibid., p. 7.

[16] Kulke/Rothermund, History, p. 272 and 273. By a ‘strange construction of “diarchy” … the provincial executive was split into two halves – an Indian one responsible to the legislature, and a British one which remained irremovable and “irresponsible”.’ Ibid., p. 273.

[17] Moore, Crisis, p. 10. Of course Bengal, which at that time comprised also Assam, Bihar and Orissa, had already been divided by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, in 1905, an act that was ‘obviously meant to strike at the territorial roots of the nationalist elite of Bengal.’ In 1911 Bengal was repartitioned, with Bihar and Orissa forming new provinces.

[18] Kulke/Rothermund, History, p. 273. The Morley-Minto constitutional reform of 1909 had also resulted in separate electorates for Muslims and Hindus, a somewhat “fateful construction”. In 1916 the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League agreed to Muslim over-representation in the provincial legislatures where there was a minority, while it was the reverse in the two Muslim majority provinces Bengal and the Punjab, where the Hindus were a minority. Ibid., p. 272.

[19] Percival Spear, A History of India, vol. II, (Penguin, 1978), p. 190.

[20] This meant ‘No trial, no lawyer, no appeal.’ Kulke/Rothermund, History, p. 283.

[21] As a result of the massacre Rabindranath Tagore renounced the knighthood he had obtained in 1915. Luckily, ‘Gandhi’s influence prevented large-scale outbreaks of violence.’ Spear, History of India, p. 191.

[22] Moore, Crisis, p. 7.

[23] Moore, Crisis, p. 46.

[24] Moore, Crisis, p. 97.

[25] “Presidential Address at Belgaum Conference”, 26 December 1924, in: CWMG, Vol. XXV, p. 481-482.

[26] Moore, Crisis, p. 93, 313 and 94.

[27] Area Handbook for India (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, May 1970), p. 80.

[28] Sir Atul Chandra Chatterjee, The New India (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1948), p. 67-68.

[29] Moore, Crisis, p. 313 and 317.

[30] Quoted in Louis Fischer, Gandhi. His Life and Message for the World (New York: Mentor, New American Library, 1954/1982), p. 135.

[31] Paul F. Power, Gandhi on World Affairs (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1961), p. 31.

[32] Kulke/Rothermund, History, p. 296.

[33] Already in 1938, the Indian National Congress had issued a policy statement ‘in regard to foreign relations and war’, declaring Indian ‘cooperation must be founded on a world order and a free India will gladly associate itself with such an order and stand for disarmament and collective security.’ J.C. Kundra, Indian Foreign Policy 1947-1954. A Study of Relations with the Western Bloc (Groningen: J.B. Wolters, 1955), p. 38.

[34] In Britain, too, there was a ‘demand for explicit British War Aims in 1939’ that appeared ‘as a revival of the War Aims controversy of 1917-18,’ in that it was a ‘movement to anticipate and avert a repetition of this betrayal,’ that had resulted in an ineffective League of Nations. H.G. Wells, Phoenix. A Summary of the Inescapable Conditions of World Reorganisation (London: Secker & Warburg, 1942), p.93.

[35] The Muslims, apparently, were serving their own ends. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Gandhi’s Muslim counterpart, on 4 September 1939, ‘met Lord Linlithgow and pledged to Britain the loyalty of Indian Muslim troops – nearly 40 per cent of the British Indian army – and help with Muslim recruitment. The Muslim League resolution of March 1940 demanding ‘independent states for the Muslims of India’ was passed after Jinnah, through Khaliq-ul-Zaman, obtained the support for Muslim states [i.e. Pakistan] from Lord Zetland, the secretary of state for India.’ Narendra Singh Sarela, ‘Creation of Pakistan – Safeguarding British Strategic Interests’, Times of India, March 17, 2000.

[36] In fact, it was the American allies who ‘finally forced the British cabinet to make a declaration of its war aims so as to obtain India’s full support for the war effort.’ Kulke/Rothermund, History, p. 297.

[37] Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi etc.: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 438 and 442. Churchill confirmed this view on 10 November 1942, when he declared in response to the Quit India resolution: ‘We intend to remain the effective rulers of India for a long and indefinite period … We mean to hold our own. I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.’ Francis G. Hutchins, India’s Revolution – Gandhi and the Quit India Movement (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1973), p. 143.

[38] Nehru, Discovery, p. 442-4.

[39] Ibid., p. 446-7.

[40] Power, Gandhi on World Affairs, p. 31.

[41] John Gunther, Inside Asia. 1942 War edition, completely revised (New York and London: Harper, 1942), p. 219-220. During their five-hours talks Madame Chiang acted as interpreter. A series of meetings also took place between Chiang and Jawaharlal Nehru. CWMG, Vol. LXXV, p. 306f. and 313.

[42] See Nehru, Discovery, p. 447: In the months ‘leading up to August, 1942, Gandhiji’s nationalism and intense desire for freedom made him even agree to Congress participation in the war if India could function as a free country. For him this was a remarkable and astonishing change … The practical statesman took precedence over the uncompromising prophet.’

[43] “Letter to Chiang Kai-shek”, Sevagram, 14 June 1942, CWMG, Vol. LXXVI, p. 225.

[44] Ibid., p. 236.

[45] Gunther, Inside Asia. p. 506.

[46] Quoted in Gunther, Inside Asia. p. 506.

[47] Nehru, Discovery, p. 461; see also Kulke/Rothermund, History, p. 298.

[48] The Muslim League also rejected the Cripps proposals.

[49] “Letter to Chiang Kai-shek”, Sevagram, 14 June 1942, CWMG, Vol. LXXVI, p. 223-4.

[50] Brown, Gandhi Prisoner Of Hope, p. 323, with sources.

[51] Kenneth E. Boulding, Conflict and Defense, A General Theory (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), p. 334, 335-36.

[52] The interviewer asked: ‘Have you any views about world federation (Streit’s scheme of 15 white democracies with India excluded at present) or about a federation of Europe with the British Commonwealth and again excluding India? Would you advise India to enter such a larger federation so as to prevent a domination of the coloured races by the white?’ CWMG, vol. LXXII, p. 11. See Clarence K. Streit, Union Now. Shorter Version (New York and London: Harper, 1940).

[53] CWMG, vol. LXXIII, p. 254-255. Later Gandhi offered to the British ‘to go to Germany or anywhere required to plead for peace not for this interest or that but for the good of mankind.’ CWMG, vol. LXXII, p. 101.

[54] CWMG, vol. LXXII, p. 229-230.

[55] Brown, Gandhi Prisoner Of Hope, p. 323.

[56] The letter dated 18 July 1942 was apparently published in Japan by three newspapers, the Nichi Nichi, the Yomiuri, and the Miyako. CWMG, vol. LXXVI, p. 309-312.

[57] Written ‘on or before’ 2 August 1942, while still in Sevagram Ashram. CWMG, vol. LXXVI, p. 350-351 (emphasis added).

[58] “Draft Resolution for A.I.C.C.”, CWMG, vol. LXXVI, p. 63-65.

[59] Appendix V, “Interview with Louis Fischer”, 8 June 1942. CWMG, vol. LXXVI, p. 449.

[60] Appendix VI, “Resolutions Passed by Congress Working Committee”, 14 July 1942. CWMG, vol. LXXVI, p. 453.

[61] “Interview with Louis Fischer”, 8 June 1942, p. 450.

[62] “MOHANDAS K. GANDHI'S SPEECH (EXCERPTS) TO THE ALL-INDIA CONGRESS”, Bombay, 7 August 1942, New York Times, 8 August 1942.

[63] CWMG, vol. LXXVI, p. 460-461 (emphasis added).

[64] Ibid., p. 463. Gandhi discarded the charge of being responsible for the subsequent disturbances, since the Viceroy had ‘not wait[ed] for the letter which [he] … had declared he would write before starting any action.’ CWMG, vol. LXXVII, p. v. 

[65] Hutchins, Indias Revolution, p. 217.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Hutchins, Indias Revolution, p. 237. A year later, in what almost seemed like a follow-up to the world federalist “Quit India Resolution”, in the United States a Resolution was passed on 21 September 1943: ‘...Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress hereby expresses itself as favoring the creation of appropriate international machinery with power adequate to establish and to maintain a just and lasting peace, among the nations of the world…’ THE FULBRIGHT RESOLUTION (House Concurrent Resolution 25, Seventy-Eighth Congress. September 21, 1943), printed in: Pamphlet No. 4, PILLARS OF PEACE, Documents Pertaining To American Interest In Establishing A Lasting World Peace: January 1941-February 1946, Published by the Book Department, Army Information School, Carlisle Barracks, Pa., May 1946.

[68] In fact the British Government had ‘nominated’ V.T. Krishnamachari, A. Ramaswami Mudaliar, and Sir Firoz Khan Noon to represent India at San Francisco. In his “Statement to the Press,” The Bombay Chronicle, 18 April 1945, Gandhi suggested that this ‘camouflage of Indian representation through Indians nominated by British imperialism should be dropped. Such representation will be worse than no representation. Either India at San Francisco is represented by an elected representative or represented not at all.’ CWMG, vol. LXXIX, p. 390-391. The Statement then quotes the world federalist part in the 1942 “Quit India” resolution.

[69] Louis Fischer, The Great Challenge New York: Duell, Sloan and Peace, 1946), p. 165, admits: ‘Failure to meet the issues of 1942 aggravated the problems of 1945 and 1946’, and – one might add – ever after.

[70] Bombay Chronicle, April 18, 1945, quoted in Ramjee Singh and S. Sundaram, eds., Gandhi and World Order (Gandhian Institute of Studies, New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation, 1996), p. 236-237. The “Statement to the Press” is also found in CWMG, vol. LXXIX, p. 389-390. The last sentence in the quote is not found in the CWMG. The first mention of the atom bomb in the Collected Works apparently is in vol. LXXXI, p. 5 (“Speech at Cuttack”, January 20, 1946).

[71] CWMG, vol. LXXIX, p. 390.

[72] E.g. on 4 June 1910, in the U.S., H.J. Resolution 223 called for appointment of a commission ‘to consider the expediency of utilizing international agencies for the purpose of limiting the armaments of the nations of the world by international agreement, and of constituting the combined navies of the world in an international force for the preservation of universal peace … to lesson the probabilities of war.’ In Warren F. Kuehl, Seeking World Order. The United States and International Organization to 1920 (Nashville: Vanderbilt, 1969), p. 129-130. A later Resolution proposed the ‘establish­ment of an International Federation of the World’. H.J.RES.75, 64th Congress, 4 January 1916, “Joint resolution proposing the establish­ment of an International Federation of the World.”

[73]  Einstein on Peace, p. 543.

[74] Rajendra Prasad, “Foreword”, in: Kshitis Roy, ed., Gandhi Memorial Peace Number (Santiniketan: The Vishwa-Bharati Quarterly, 2 October 1949), p. ix. See also Arthur Moore, “World Government”, in the same issue, p. 196-203.

[75]The United Na­tions is the first step towards the creation of an authori­tative world order. It has not got the power to en­force the rule of law … Are we pre­pared to surren­der a fraction of our natio­nal sovereignty for the sake of a world order? Are we prepared to submit our disputes and quar­rels to ar­bitra­tion, to negotiation and settle­ment by peaceful methods?’ Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Towards a New World (New Delhi, Bombay: Orient Paperbacks, 1980), p. 45, 52 and 135.

[76] Jawaharlal Nehru’s Speeches, vol. I, Sept. 1946-May 1949 (Delhi: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Revised Edition, Third Impression, 1967), p. 3.

[77]  In a debate on the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly. Nehru’s Speeches, p. 21.

[78]  Pandit Nehrus Discovery of America, foreword by Eleanor Roosevelt (Madras: The Indian Press Publications, 1950?), p. 56.

[79]  Einstein on Peace, p. 449-455. See also p. 430ff. Interestingly, though too late, in June and July 1949, identical resolutions were passed in the U.S. by the House and the Senate proclaiming that ‘it should be a fundamental objective of the foreign policy of the United States to support and strengthen the United Nations and to seek its development into a world federation open to all nations with defined and limited powers adequate to preserve peace and prevent aggression through the enactment, interpretation and enforcement of world law.’

[80]  See the Moscow New Times, edition of 26 November 1947. Einstein on Peace, p. 443. Interestingly, in April 1988, the weekly Moscow New Times, republished and approved Einstein’s reply to the Soviets, which had originally appeared in the February 1948 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. See also World Peace News (777 U.N. Plaza, 11th floor, New York, N.Y. 20017, U.S.A.), issue of June-Sept. 1988.

[81]  “Letter to a Hindu correspondent on 24 March 1950.” Einstein on Peace, p. 525.

[82]  Horowitz, Idea, p. 106 and 105.

[83] Mahendra Kumar, Current Peace Research and India (Varanasi: Gandhian Institute of Studies, 1968), p. 34.  

[84] The Europeans could collectively or individually under Article 43 of the UN Charter, conclude with the Security Council ‘special … agreements … for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security … in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.’ See also Klaus Schlichtmann, “Die Abschaffung des Krieges. Artikel IX JV, Ursprung, Auslegung und Kontroverse” (The Abolition of War. Article IX, origin, interpretation and controversy), S+F, Vierteljahresschrift für Sicherheit und Frieden (Nomos), vol. 20, No. 4 (2002), pp. 223-229, for further references.

[85] Efforts by the UN in the 1990s, to revise the Charter and reform the Security Council have failed, for lack of a rational, historically reasoned, approach. Klaus Schlichtmann, “A Draft on Security Council Reform,” Peace & Change 24, no. 4 (October 1999), p. 505-535 advocates a ‘skilful surgeon’ approach to Security Council Reform, calculated to get maximum results with minimum effort.

[86] In addition, member states should start ‘developing … a parliamentary dimension’ of the UNO, i.e. a parliamentary assembly (preferably as a principal organ under Article 7 of the U.N. Charter). Recommendation 1476 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 27 September 2000. 



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Human, All too Human

284 The means to real peace. -

No government nowadays admits that it maintains an army so as to satisfy occasional thirsts for conquest; the army is supposed to be for defence. That morality which sanctions self-protection is called upon to be its advocate. But that means to reserve morality to oneself and to accuse one‘s neighbour of immorality, since he has to be thought of as ready for aggression and conquest if our own state is obliged to take thought of means of self-defence; moreover, when our neighbour denies any thirst for aggression just as heatedly as our State does, and protests that he too maintains an army only for reasons of legitimate self-defence, our declaration of why we require an army declares our neighbour a hypocrite and cunning criminal who would be only too happy to pounce upon a harmless and unprepared victim and subdue him without a struggle. This is how all states now confront one another: they presuppose an evil disposition in their neighbour and a benevolent disposition in themselves. This presupposition, however, is a piece of inhumanity as bad as, if not worse than, a war would be; indeed, fundamentally it already constitutes an invitation to and cause of wars, because, as aforesaid, it imputes immorality to one‘s neighbour and thereby seems to provoke hostility and hostile acts on his part. The doctrine of the army as a means of self-defence must be renounced just as completely as the thirst for conquest. And perhaps there will come a great day on which a nation distinguished for wars and victories and for the highest development of military discipline and thinking, and accustomed to making the heaviest sacrifices on behalf of these things, will cry of its own free will: ,we shall shatter the sword‘ - and demolish its entire military machine down to its last foundations. To disarm while being the best armed, out of anelevation of sensibility - that is the means to real peace, which must always rest on a disposition for peace: whereas the so-called armed peace such as now parades about in every country is a disposition to fractiousness which trusts neither itself nor its neighbour and fails to lay down its arms half out of hatred, half out of fear. Better to perish than to hate and fear, and twofold better to perish than to make oneself hated and feared - this must one day become the supreme maxim of every individual state! - As is well known, our liberal representatives of the people lack the time to reflect on the nature of man: otherwise they would know that they labour in vain when they work for a ,gradual reduction of the military burden‘. On the contrary, it is only when this kind of distress is at its greatest that the only kind of god that can help here will be closest at hand.  The tree of the glory of war can be destroyed only at a single stroke, by a lightning-bolt: lightning, however, as you well know, comes out of a cloud and from on high. (R.J. Hollingdale, transl., Human, All Too Human. A Book for Free Spirits, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (1996), pp. 380-81)