Commonwealth of World Citizens
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The Commonwealth of World Citizens (later named 'Mondcivitan Republic' after the Esperanto) was initiated by Hugh J. Schonfield, an associate and disciple of H.G. Wells. It was founded in 1956 and organized under its own democratic government as a nation to serve mankind - a Servant-Nation.
Birth and goals
Hugh Schonfield was a biblical scholar, one time Hebrew Christian, who was later best known for his book The Passover Plot. Schonfield first felt the need for a Servant-Nation for the impartial service of all nations as far back as 1938.
The years from 1938 to 1950 were devoted to the consideration of all aspects of the venture, including questions of international law. What was created was a worldwide people, not an organisation, a people with a valid and recognised citizenship and having a relationship with the governments of every country. When the United Nations was formed, notification was given to the Secretary-General and to all the states concerned of the intention to proceed with the plan to bring into being a Mondcivitan Republic.
Initial action commenced in November 1950. In the summer of 1951, a General Assembly of the first citizens was held in Paris, which appointed a Secretariat as the acting administration with offices in London. By 1952 the Republic had citizens in 14 countries, by 1954 in 25 countries and by 1955 in 30 countries. The second General Assembly in 1953 set up a commission to draft the text of the constitution of the new people. After amendment at the third General Assembly of 1955, the Provisional Constitution was approved for adoption. In the same year humanitarian activities were initiated by the creation of the World Service Trust as a specialised agency of the Republic.
The birth of this nation arose from the need felt by many people throughout the world to give organic expression to the idea of the fundamental unity of the human race by developing a common way of life and government, which experimentally would be a preparation by example for a co-operative World community embracing all peoples.
The Republic was to be the sum total of persons holding its citizenship at any given time, without regard for colour or ethnic origin. In its political expression it was a free and self-governing people and world community denying to itself the possession of a national homeland.
The new nation expressed the concept of world unity based on the Brotherhood of Man. The idea was that in the capacity of a Servant-Nation, it should labour for international reconciliation and the resolving of international problems and conflicts. The loyalty it demanded was higher than that given to any state, requiring in the individual full dedication to the principles and purposes of the new nation, yet at the initial stage without forfeiting state citizenship.
For the Mondcivitan, state citizenship was to be always secondary to Mondcivitan citizenship. He or she was expected to be primarily concerned with the affairs and policies of the Republic. Taking part in war, aggression of oppression was strictly prohibited and the citizen had to be prepared if need be to suffer the penalties. All citizens were expected to live and abide by a set of seven principles:
- No-one is an Enemy
- No-one is a Foreigner
- Service to All
- Complete Impartiality
- Work for Peace
- True Democracy
- Equity and Justice
With citizens in 33 countries it was decided in 1956 that the Mondcivitan Republic should be proclaimed in being de facto and that all governments should be advised accordingly and furnished with a copy of the constitution. A Constituent Assembly of the citizens was convened at the Temple of Peace, Cardiff, headquarters of the United Nations Association in Wales. The constitution was adopted on August 29 and the flag of the Commonwealth hoisted over the building. A council was elected to prepare the way for parliamentary government.
In 1958 a democratic general election was held giving opportunity to citizens of the Republic in countries where they resided to elect deputies to the first parliament which met in Vienna in May 1959. Up to this time the Nation had used the title, "Commonwealth of World Citizens" which was abandoned in favour of "The Mondcivitan Republic". Dr. Hugh Schonfield, the pioneer of the enterprise, was elected acting president and a government was formed headed by a young citizen, Donald Hanby as prime minister.
During the life of the first parliament good relations were developed with a number of countries and the new nation was responsible for various initiatives to promote world peace and international understanding, both directly and by preparing helpful resolutions for sponsorship by member states in the United Nations General Assembly. All measures taken were in the spirit of the objectives to which the Republic was uniquely committed on behalf of Mankind as a Servant-Nation.
In 1963, the Mondcivitan Republic held its second parliament. The term of this parliament was to be for five years. In accordance with the constitution, a presidium of five was elected under the name of the Supreme Council, each member of which would hold the office of president for one year in turn. Those elected, in the order of their presidency, were Mrs. Frieda bacon, Dr. Justo Priesto, Nguyen-Huu, Anthony Brooke and Hugh J. Schonfield, the last named to take office at the end of August 1967. The post of Prime Minister was relinquished and replaced under the constitution with that of Commissioner-General and Mr. Donald Hanby was re-elected to that office.
At this time, the International Arbitration League, founded at the beginning of the 20th century by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Sir William Randal Cremer, decided that its work could best be continued by the Mondcivitan Republic and was duly incorporated. The benevolent work of the World Service Trust continued and a housing agency, the Cremer Housing Association, was brought into being, which later provided new premises for use by the Republic.
In 1971, it was decided to suspend the Provisional Constitution to make way for formulating a full constitution. To enable the Republic to ensure the best means of government, an Executive Council was appointed to take full responsibility for the nation's affairs in the interim period. It was hoped that a full constitution and self-government could be achieved by 1975. This, unfortunately did not happen.
At this time Hugh Schonfield's book about the fundamental ideas behind the Servant-Nation, The Politics of God, was published and received much interest, particularly because it had been preceded by the best-seller, The Passover Plot, which had created much discussion and aroused interest in the concept of Messianism. It became increasingly important for the vision and the mission of the Republic to be clearly stated in its role as Servant-Nation as many had been confused by the reference to world citizenship and the movement which carries that name and the emphasis on service to mankind and the Messianic nation was re-instated as the core principle. Many projects were started, some of which are described below:-
The Community school project was an exciting experiment which the Republic's citizens commenced at that time. It provided a viable alternative to the prevalent educational concepts. Its primary aim was to give each child freedom, experience, resources and love to develop his, or her, whole self to the fullest. It was believed that this should take place in, and directly concerned with, the community as a whole, encouraging children to take an active, positive interest in the community, serving and changing it for the betterment of the whole of mankind. Various methods of achieving these aims were implemented. The school was completely non fee-paying and was supported by generous donations from citizens. Many of the children were "problem" children from the neighbourhood of the school who have since been able to lead productive lives.
The World Service Trust
The World Service Trust was founded in 1955 as a special agency of the Mondcivitan republic for the purpose of giving impartial aid to people and countries in circumstances of poverty, famine, disease and epidemics, as well as natural disasters. The Trust was also designed to assist education and improve standards of living.
The Hugh and Helene Schonfield World Service Trust
In 1980 the Trust became a foundation and was renamed "The Hugh and Helene Schonfield World Service Trust". With funds contributed to it by the Schonfields, it took on the specific responsibility of acting as the guarantor of the Servant-Nation vision and has given grants to organisations which it is felt will promote the ideology and spirit of Hugh Schonfield's visionary inspiration.
The Republic fell into decline after the 1980s, but its archives are being incrementally presented in the Internet. The activities have become more centred in Germany as the community initiated by Wilhelm Haller felt a more decentralised and less bureaucratic approach was necessary. A new initiative was started in 2004 with the founding of the 'International Leadership and Business Society' which hopes to encourage the application of the original Mondcivitan principles in business and everyday life. The Hugh & Helene Schonfield World Service Trust continues its work particularly with its responsibility for the archiving and publicising of the work of the late Hugh J. Schonfield and research into the concepts of Messianism, Humanitism and Servant-Nationhood and methods to find their practical realisation. A small museum and the archives of the Mondcivitan Republic are kept in the Trust's center in Germany and can be accessed for research on request.
- The politics of God Hugh Joseph Schonfield - 1970 "There shall be identical treatment of those outside the Commonwealth as of those within it, treatment that is founded on reverence for the human personality. 3. The Commonwealth of World Citizens shall ever promote and actively assist ..."
- World citizenship and mundialism: a guide to the building of a ... - Page 23 John Charles de Villamar Roberts - 1999 "The Commonwealth of World Citizens offered itself as an example of a new "nation" devoted solely to serving humanity. Its founder, Dr. Hugh Schonfield, a distinguished Biblical scholar, had worked for world citizenship and mundialism ..."
- No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe - Page 141 Matt Young - 2001 "Hugh Schonfield was a New Testament scholar who was educated at King's College, London, and earned a doctorate in sacred literature at the University of Glasgow. He was a prolific author but received attention mostly for The Passover Plot..."
- Alternative approaches to world government Hanna Newcombe - 1967 "The Commonwealth of World Citizens, or Mondcivitans , was founded long before Garry Davis. In 1938, Dr. Hugh Schonfield, distinguished British Jewish scholar and diplomat, conceived the civilized world's need for a new "independent and ...
- The Cramoisy Queen: A Life of Caresse Crosby - Page 168 Linda Hamalian - 2009 All that was required, she thought, was formal official status, and so she merged with the legally established Commonwealth of World Citizens founded by Dr. Hugh Schonfield, a British historian and scholar of what the West called the ..."
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