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Tribute to World Citizen Garry Davis
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United Nations Association USA --  Santa Barbara United Nations Association USA -- Santa Barbara
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Santa Barbara , CA
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

 

Before reading the tribute below, have a look at the YouTube video that BarbaraGaughen-Muller contributed to this post.  She recalls that Garry Davis and Robert Muller were dear friends. 


Garry Davis, who died 24 July 2013, in BurlingtonVermont, was often called ?World Citizen N°1.? The title was not strictly exact, as the organized world citizen movement was started in England in 1937 by Hugh J. Shonfield and his Commonwealth of World Citizens. It was followed in 1938 by the creation jointly in the USA and England of the World Citizen Association. However, it was Garry Davis in Paris in 1948-1949 who reached a wide public and popularized the term ?world citizen.? ?

In May 1948, knowing that the UN General Assembly was to meet in Paris in September and earlier the founding meeting of the international world federalists was to be held in Luxembourg, he went to Paris. There he renounced his US citizenship and gave in his passport.  However, he had no other identity credentials in a Europe where the police can stop you and demand that you provide identity papers. So he had printed a ?United World Citizen International Identity Card,? although the French authorities listed him as ?Apatride d?origine americaine.? Paris after the War was filled with ?apatrides? (persons without patrias or states) but there was probably none other ?d?origine americaine?

Giving up US citizenship and a passport, which many of the refugees in Paris would have wanted at any price, was widely reported in the press and brought him many visitors.  Among the visitors was Robert Sarrazac, who had been active in the French resistance. He shared the same view of the destructive nature of narrow nationalism and the need to develop a world citizen ideology.  Garry was also joined by the young Guy Marchand, who would later play an important role in structuring the world citizen movement.

 

Despite the French police's official displeasure with people not having "valid" identity papers, they tolerated Garry Davis' camping out on the terraces of the Palais de Chaillot, which had become ?world territory? for the duration of the UN General Assembly's meeting there. He set up a tent and waited to see what the UN would do to promote world citizenship. In the meantime, Robert Sarrazac, who had many contacts from his resistance activities, set up a ?Conseil de Solidarite,? formed of people admired for their independence of thought and not linked to a particular political party.  The Conseil was led by Albert Camus, novelist and writer for newspapers, Andre Breton, the Surrealist poet, l?Abbé Pierre and Emmanuel Mounier, editor of Esprit, both Catholics of highly independent spirit, as well as Henri Roser, a Protestant minister and secretary for French-speaking countries of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

 

Davis and his advisors felt that world citizenship should not be left outside the General Assembly hall, but had to be presented inside as a challenge to the ordinary way of doing things, ?an interruption.? Thus it was planned that Garry Davis, from the visitors balcony, would interrupt the UN proceedings to read a short text; Robert Sarrazac had the same speech in French, and Albert Crespey, son of a chief from Togo had his talk written out in his Togolese language.

 

In the break after a long Yugoslav speech, Davis stood up.  Father Montecland, ?priest by day and world citizen by night,? said in a booming voice ?And now the people have the floor!? Davis said ?Mr. Chairman and delegates: I interrupt in the name of the people of the world not represented here. Though my words may be unheeded, our common need for world law and order can no longer be disregarded.? After this, the security guards moved in, but Robert Sarrazac, on the other side of the Visitors Gallery, continued in French, followed by a plea for human rights in Togolese. Later, near the end of the UN Assembly in Paris, the General Assembly adopted without an opposition vote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which became the foundation of world citizens? efforts to advance world law.

For additional information about Garry Davis, please see this article in the New York Times: "Garry Davis, Man of No Nation Who Saw One World of No War, Dies at 91." The foregoing paragraphs were excerpted from the essay "Garry Davis: And Now the People Have The Floor," by Rene Wadlow.

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Name: Barbara Gaughen-Muller
Group: United Nations Association USA Santa Barbara
Dateline: Santa Barbara, CA United States
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