BECK index

Clark-Sohn Plan for World Law and Disarmament

Nuclear Weapons and World Government
Grenville Clark's Peace Plan
Clark-Sohn Proposal for World Law
McCloy-Zorin Disarmament Effort

This is a chapter in World Peace Efforts Since Gandhi, which is published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

Click below to see and hear this chapter.


What can fairly be called peace
is the result only of enforceable law;
under modern conditions,
general disarmament is the precondition
of enforceable world law.
Grenville Clark

The proposition "no peace without law"
also embodies the conception that
peace cannot be ensured by a continued arms race,
nor by an indefinite "balance of terror,"
nor by diplomatic maneuver,
but only by universal and complete national disarmament
together with the establishment of institutions
corresponding in the world field to those which
maintain law and order within local communities and nations.
Clark and Sohn

Either world problems will be settled
through real world organization, meaning world law,
or they will be settled by world war.
Norman Cousins

Nuclear Weapons and World Government

In 1913 the prophetic H. G. Wells wrote the novel The World Set Free in which he described a war that was fought with "atomic bombs." This war was so catastrophic that the survivors initiated a world government to end the war and use science for beneficial purposes. Nuclear physicist Leo Szilard read this book in 1932 and could not forget it. Four years later he realized that nuclear fission was so dangerous that scientists must work together to prevent a disaster. After conducting an experiment proving fission in 1939, Szilard urged his colleagues to be careful not to let the Nazis become aware of this. In September 1942 Szilard warned in a memo,

We cannot have peace in a world in which
various sovereign nations have atomic bombs
in the possession of their armies
and any of these armies could win a war
within twenty-four hours after it starts one.1

By early 1945 Szilard realized that Germany was losing the war and that the only likely use of the atomic bomb would be offensively against Japan. On March 25 Albert Einstein gave Szilard a letter of introduction so that he could meet with President Roosevelt. In his memo Szilard warned that using atomic bombs could "precipitate a race in the production of these devices between the United States and Russia."2 After Roosevelt died, President Truman had his new Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, meet with Szilard. Byrnes argued that using the bomb would justify the great expense of the Manhattan Project and that it would make it easier to manage the Russians in eastern Europe. General Groves assured Byrnes that the Russians did not have uranium, though Szilard tried to contradict this. In June 1945 Szilard met with the Committee on Social and Political Implications of Atomic Energy, and their report written by Eugene Rabinowitch and Szilard argued against using the bomb in combat against Japan, warning,

If the United States were to be the first to release
this new weapon of indiscriminate destruction upon mankind,
she would sacrifice public support throughout the world,
precipitate the race of armaments,
and prejudice the possibility of reaching
an international agreement on the future control of such weapons.3

They recommended demonstrating the weapon in an uninhabited area. However, Secretary of War Henry Stimson told his assistant John J. McCloy that the bomb would help the US regain the lead from the Soviet Union, and he was intent on using it for military victory and to enhance postwar power.

In July Szilard circulated a petition that collected 68 signatures of scientists, mostly from the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory. A more moderate petition to warn the Japanese was supported by 67 scientists at the Oak Ridge Lab. Gen. Groves kept the petitions for a week and gave them to Stimson on the first of August, but he did not show them to President Truman until after the bombs were dropped. On August 6 the first uranium bomb killed about 100,000 people in Hiroshima immediately, and nearly that many would die later from burns and radiation sickness. Three days later the first plutonium bomb killed about 75,000 people in Nagasaki, and again about that many would die later.

This experience resulted in millions of Japanese becoming critics of military force and especially nuclear weapons. Several hundred thousand people joined the War Resisters International (WRI) that had been founded after the First World War, while many religious people became members of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) that had been initiated before World War I by Quaker Henry Hodgkin and German pastor Friedrich Siegmund-Schultze, who was arrested 27 times during the First World War and was in exile during the Second. The first annual Memorial Day was held at Hiroshima on August 6, 1946. A campaign to make August 6 World Peace Day spread around the world. Norman Cousins returned from the 1949 memorial ceremony with a peace petition signed by 110,000 Hiroshima residents, but President Truman refused to accept it. The US military was still occupying Japan when the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic weapon on August 29, 1949, and they made sure the news was censored from Japanese newspapers. They also tried to suppress Japanese post-war novels such as City of Corpses by Yoko Ota and Summer Flower by Tamiki Hara. John Hersey's powerful novel Hiroshima was published in 1946, but it was not allowed into Japan until the Authors' League of America protested in 1949. On September 1, 1951 in Tokyo 20,000 people gathered for a peace rally.

H. G. Wells had also portrayed the need for world government in his 1933 novel, The Shape of Things to Come, which was made into a successful film with Raymond Massey in 1936. Republican Wendell Wilkie, who had lost the presidential election in 1940 to Roosevelt, published One World in 1943; this book was serialized in a hundred newspapers and sold two million copies in two years. Perhaps the most effective advocacy of world government was The Anatomy of Peace by Emery Reves that came out in June 1945 and was translated into twenty languages by 1950. Soon after the Hiroshima bomb exploded, Norman Cousins wrote his famous editorial for Saturday Review that "modern man is obsolete," arguing that the need for world government could no longer be ignored. By 1949 the United World Federalists (UWF) had 720 chapters in the US with 46,775 members.

By early 1946 the new Federation of American Scientists (FAS) had 3,000 members, and Rabinowitch started the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists with its "doomsday clock," which they set at seven minutes to midnight and still revise periodically. The FAS published the book One World or None, which included articles by Einstein, Bohr, Urey, Bethe, Oppenheimer, and Szilard. They supported the Baruch Plan for the international control of atomic weapons, but this effort failed. When President Truman announced in February 1950 a program to develop the hydrogen bomb, the FAS warned that the Russians would build them too. On November 1, 1952 the United States tested a thermonuclear device (H-bomb) that was a thousand times more powerful than an atomic bomb. Less than a year later the Soviet Union tested their first hydrogen bomb. The Communists around the world supported the World Peace Council; but in most countries it had little influence over non-Communists because they refused to criticize the policies of the Soviet Union.

Many philosophers and proponents of world peace have expressed ideas similar to the credo of the World Federalists, that world peace depends upon world justice, which depends upon enforceable world law, which depends upon world government. Probably the most discussed plan for effective world law is the comprehensive proposal to strengthen the United Nations delineated by Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn in their book World Peace Through World Law.

Grenville Clark's Peace Plan

Grenville Clark graduated from Harvard Law School in 1906. Foreseeing the likelihood of American involvement in the First World War, he put forward the "Plattsburgh Idea," which led to the recruitment of 60,000 line officers between 1915 and 1917. During the First World War he served in the United States Army. He supported the New Deal, helping to draft the Economy Act of 1933. Yet he opposed FDR's scheme to pack the US Supreme Court in 1937.

At the beginning of World War II when the Nazis had occupied Norway, Clark initiated the Selective Service Act of 1940 to prepare the US for the war. He served as a consultant to Secretary of War Stimson for the next four years. He was aware of the A-bomb development, but in June 1944 he left that position "in order to devote myself to efforts to prevent future wars, the appalling results of which on the assumption of nuclear weapons were already apparent in 1944."4 He wrote a letter to the New York Times that was published on October 14, 1944 in which he criticized the Dumbarton Oaks proposals for repeating the basic errors of the League of Nations. He complained that by giving each nation only one vote in the General Assembly it was bound to be only a subordinate organ because it would not be fair to the large nations. When Bernard Baruch proposed on June 12, 1946 that the United States transfer its monopoly on nuclear weapons to an international authority, Clark strongly supported the idea.

In 1950 Clark published A Plan for Peace, asserting that disarmament of all arms by all nations is the only real hope for enduring peace, and this "disarmament must be supported by institutions of world law through a world federation of universal membership."5 He recommended a federal structure in which all powers, not expressly delegated to war prevention, be reserved to the nations and their peoples. In the promotion of economic and social welfare the powers of United Nations agencies to inquire and recommend should be strengthened. Written from an American perspective, Clark's plan was submitted to the United States Congress. Five essential points of the plan are to:

1) encourage discussion of the shocking implications of a third world war;
2) recognize that complete disarmament is necessary to a stable and peaceful world, and that disarmament requires effective world law and government;
3) urge the United States to explore proposals for disarmament and revision of the United Nations;
4) maintain military resistance to Communist expansion while working toward an overall settlement; and
5) realize that executive officials need new ideas from the people and help from Congress.

Clark explained why the "peace by strength" doctrine of deterrence is so insecure and leads to a continuous arms race. In deterring Russia the United States had also alarmed her, resulting in a vicious circle in which each side accused the other of aggression and imperialism, while each increased its armaments, engendering more suspicion and fear, and thus more armaments, etc. A Pax Americana achieved through conquest, like the Pax Romana, could never last. A constructive plan for general disarmament and enforceable world law is needed.

Clark faced the obstacles to his plan and also looked at the counter forces working in its favor. The nations' reluctance to modify their claims to unlimited sovereignty is a major problem. People must overcome their fear of "foreigners" and develop a world consciousness. Conflicts of religion, particularly between Christians and Communists, could be a stumbling block, but with some tolerance it should not prevent a solution. Recriminations between the east and west were a great psychological handicap, but this atmosphere could be improved with effort. Pessimism that such a new system could ever be instituted in a short time could be a negative self-fulfilling prophecy; but again, working for a realistic solution could dissolve that attitude. Skepticism about the Russians' willingness to negotiate in reasonable terms is a common attitude in America. Yet a plan that is in everyone's interest would be beneficial to Russians as well as Americans.

Most of the counter forces to these obstacles are steadily increasing in strength. The severity of modern war is becoming worse rapidly. A world war is becoming more likely to be instant mass suicide. Self-interest is enhanced with world order. The crushing economic burden of armaments would be drastically reduced, and the psychological relief could be euphoric. Besides the problem of the superpower rivalry, there is a general need for peace to prevent the various small wars and to use resources to improve the general welfare. The federal principle of government is being understood by more people because of political evolution in various countries and regions. New generations are producing new leaders with new ideas that are more appropriate to our new problems. Clark had great vision, and he prophetically remarked that a crisis often gets worse until the proud opponents look down into the dark abyss that awaits them if they do not change. The closer we get to the brink of disaster, the more likely we are to find a solution.

Clark-Sohn Proposal for World Law

Louis B. Sohn was born in Lwow, Poland the year World War I began. He earned his first law degree at John Casimir University in Lwow. He participated in the San Francisco Conference that established the United Nations, and he was a legal officer in the United Nations Secretariat for two years. In 1951 he joined the faculty at Harvard Law School. He also worked on the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Clark and Sohn collaborated in suggesting a Revised United Nations Charter in their book World Peace Through World Law, which was first published in 1958. They refined their ideas in a second, revised edition in 1960. Subsequent revisions in 1966 and 1973 offered an additional alternative to a revised UN Charter by suggesting a new world security and development organization to supplement current UN functions. This discussion will focus on the proposed UN Charter Revision.

The basic premise agreed with President Eisenhower's statement in 1956, "There can be no peace without law."6 Thus for world peace, enforceable world law is required. By presenting a detailed plan Clark and Sohn hoped to stimulate world-wide discussion of the needed world institutions. World law is essential because of the increasing number and destructive power of modern weapons, because more nations are acquiring nuclear weapons, and because of the resources wasted on the arms race; in 1973 Sohn added the concern about protecting the environment and natural resources. They proposed revising the United Nations because of the UN's established functions and purpose of preventing war. However, they admitted that forming a new institution could also serve the same principles. In fact, in 1962 Clark and Sohn formulated their proposals in the form of a comprehensive Draft Treaty between the US and USSR, which would not require revision of the UN Charter.

The Clark-Sohn Plan is based on these principles. First, genuine peace depends on an effective system of world law which can ensure complete disarmament with institutions to state clearly the law, courts to apply the law, and police to enforce the law. Second, world law must be formulated in a constitution and statutes forbidding nations to use violence, except in self-defense, and must be applicable to all nations and individuals. Third, world judicial tribunals and organs of mediation and conciliation must be established in order to use peaceful means of adjudication instead of violence or the threat of violence in the solving of all international disputes. Fourth, a permanent world police force must be maintained, with careful safeguards against abuse, in order to suppress any violation of the world law that prohibits international violence. Fifth, complete disarmament of all nations must be "accomplished in a simultaneous and proportionate manner by carefully verified stages and subject to a well-organized system of inspection."7 Sixth, the tremendous disparities in the economic conditions of different regions of the world must be mitigated by world institutions in order to resolve conflicts and instability. Seventh, humanity's common resources and environment must be managed and protected equitably.

Supplementary principles suggested that the world law must apply to all nations and individuals, and nearly all nations must be participating actively in the institutions. Also, the basic rights and duties of all nations should be clearly defined in the constitutional document with the world body's powers limited primarily to the area of war prevention, while all other powers are reserved to the nations and their peoples.

Now let us briefly outline the features of the Clark-Sohn Plan for a Revised Charter of the United Nations. For the plan to go into effect, nearly every major nation must agree to become a member. Every independent state in the world would be eligible for membership, and ratification would require at least five-sixths of all nations, nations combining at least five-sixths of the world population, plus all four of the largest nations and at least six of the ten next largest nations in population. The few remaining non-member nations would be required to comply with the disarmament plan and world law.

Voting in the General Assembly would be adjusted according to a nation's population, and the Assembly would be given adequate powers to maintain peace and enforce the disarmament process. The 1973 Clark-Sohn voting proposal suggested the following: the four largest nations would have thirty representatives each; the next ten largest nations would have twelve each; the next fifteen nations would have eight each; the next twenty nations six each; the next thirty nations four each; the next forty nations three each; and the smallest nations, those with under one million inhabitants, would have one representative each. This particular scheme of weighted voting is perhaps one of the weakest elements of their plan, but they admit that they are not dogmatic about its specifics. Certainly, if the General Assembly is going to be given greater powers, some system which takes into account the population differences among nations must be devised. Clark and Sohn suggested stages eventually leading to the election of representatives by popular vote, although at first some nations would probably insist on choosing them in their national legislatures.

An Executive Council would replace the Security Council, and the veto power would be abolished. The four largest nations (China, India, USSR, and US) would be permanent members. Five of the next ten largest nations would alternate with the other five as members, and the remaining eight members would be chosen by the Assembly. "Important" matters would require a vote of twelve of the seventeen members, a majority of the nine larger nations, and a majority of the eight other members. The Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council would be continued and enlarged for greater responsibilities subject to the General Assembly.

Disarmament is carefully worked out by Clark and Sohn to eliminate national military forces in a step-by-step process. Complete disarmament down to the level of local police is required because of the destructive power of modern weapons. Even a small number of nuclear weapons or biological and chemical weapons would leave the world very insecure, and they would make it difficult for the world police force to deter or suppress international violence. Besides, nations would not need armies if the world police force is protecting every nation and their people from international aggression. Each nation would need only enough police forces and weapons to quell internal disruptions and the violence of criminals.

The original Clark-Sohn Plan scheduled the verified disarmament process over twelve years, but the Draft Treaty cut that time in half. Nevertheless, the process was essentially the same. The first two years (or one in the Draft Treaty) would stop further military build-up, establish the UN Inspection Service to make a detailed arms census for every nation, and allow time to verify those facts. Then each nation would disarm ten percent of their forces each year (or six months) for the next ten years (or five years). Each step would be carefully verified by the Inspection Service, and if necessary the process would be delayed until compliance was achieved. A Nuclear Energy Authority would become responsible for all nuclear materials. An Outer Space Agency would also be created to ensure the peaceful use of space. Some of the national armaments would be given to the UN Peace Force, which would come up to its full strength by the end of the disarmament process. Every nation in the world would be bound by the disarmament and at its conclusion would be reduced to lightly armed police.

A World Police Force would be the only military force permitted in the world, once disarmament was completed. Clark and Sohn devised various safeguards to prevent any nation from taking control of the World Force. Thus major roles are given to people from the smaller countries. This force would be under the direction of the General Assembly and would have between 200,000 and 400,000 professional soldiers, drawn mostly from the smaller nations. No more than three percent of the force could be from any one nation, and the forces would be scattered around the globe in various regions with no permanent military bases in any of the larger countries. A Peace Force Reserve would have between 300,000 and 600,000 volunteers on call in case of an emergency. The Peace Force would be equipped with the most modern weapons; but biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons would be forbidden. If nuclear weapons somehow were illegally produced and became a threat, the General Assembly could order the Nuclear Energy Authority to release nuclear weapons to the Peace Force. Otherwise nuclear weapons would be forever banned. A Military Staff Committee of five persons drawn from the smaller nations would direct the Peace Force under the civilian authority of the Executive Council and ultimately the General Assembly.

The Revised Charter required every nation to settle all international disputes by peaceful means such as negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, etc. All nations would be obligated to submit any "legal question," which in the opinion of the General Assembly (or the Executive Council) endangers the peace of the world, to the International Court of Justice for a final and binding decision. Those disputes which are not of a legal nature would be brought to the World Conciliation Board for a voluntary agreement or would be referred to the World Equity Tribunal for a solution, which could be made binding by the General Assembly. The International Court of Justice would have compulsory jurisdiction on all cases submitted to it by the Assembly as well as disputes over treaties, international agreements, and the UN Charter. Individuals responsible for violations of the disarmament provisions could also be prosecuted. A civil police force of less than 10,000 would aid the Inspection Service in detecting such violators.

A World Development Authority would aid the underdeveloped areas of the world in improving their economic conditions in order to alleviate the immense disparities between their circumstances and those of the industrialized nations. A United Nations Ocean Authority would manage the resources of the seas. A UN Environmental Protection Authority would coordinate environmental programs, collect data, and monitor and assess services. As of 1973 Sohn suggested $75 billion for world development, $12 billion for the Peace Forces, and $3 billion for the other agencies. This budget of $90 billion represented less than half of the world's military expenditures for the year 1970. Obviously the world economy would be greatly enhanced by such a plan. They also suggested an over-all limit of three percent of the gross world product for the UN budget. Each nation would be taxed by the General Assembly according to its gross domestic product with a "per capita deduction" for the poorest nations. No nation could be taxed more than four percent of its GDP, and each nation would collect its own taxes for the UN fiscal office in the nation. Once the Revised UN Charter was ratified, no nation would be allowed to withdraw.

A Bill of Rights is annexed to the Revised Charter to protect individual rights such as freedom of religion, communication, assembly and petition, and a fair trial without double jeopardy, ex post facto laws, excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments, unlawful detention, or unreasonable searches and seizures. The many useful organs of the United Nations would be continued, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the World Health Organization (WHO). The purpose of the Clark-Sohn Plan was not to delete any of these useful functions but to strengthen the UN's ability to prevent war by making the General Assembly and Security Council more representative and filling the major lacks of the UN, namely the lack of effective disarmament, the lack of a standing world police force, the lack of a judicial system with compulsory jurisdiction over international disputes, and the lack of a reliable revenue system.

To the obstacles Clark saw in 1950, Sohn added the resistance of the vested interests in armament, both in the military and industry, as well as the vested interests in traditional diplomacy. However, the advanced "delivery systems" of nuclear weapons had made the problem much more urgent. In addition, pollution of the environment is becoming more critical as is the disparity between the developed northern hemisphere and the underdeveloped southern hemisphere.

McCloy-Zorin Disarmament Effort

The year after the Clark-Sohn Plan was first proposed, Soviet Premier Khrushchev visited the United Nations and on September 19, 1959 suggested in a speech that general and complete disarmament could be the best approach to peace. The next day the "Declaration of the Soviet Government on General and Complete Disarmament" was filed with the United Nations. On December 1, 1959 the United States, the Soviet Union, and ten other major countries agreed to the Antarctic Treaty, which banned all weapons and military activities from Antarctica. The next year the two superpowers negotiated reduction of forces and limiting nuclear testing.

Although he had campaigned on an erroneous contention that the United States was behind the Soviets in a "missile gap," President Kennedy fulfilled another campaign pledge to create the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; he was greatly aided in this by Republican John McCloy. On September 25, 1961 President Kennedy spoke before the United Nations General Assembly and said, "Mankind must put an end to war-or war will put an end to mankind."8 The goal of disarmament must no longer be a dream but had become a practical question of life or death; its risks were small compared to the costs of an unlimited arms race. Kennedy presented the American plan and asked that negotiations continue "without interruption until an entire program for general and complete disarmament has not only been agreed but has been actually achieved."9 He suggested that the logical place to begin was with a test-ban treaty.

In this speech at the UN Kennedy also said that it was not enough to destroy arms, they must also create world-wide law with enforcement as they outlaw world-wide war and weapons, saying, "We prefer world law, in the age of self-determination, to world war, in the age of mass extermination."10 He suggested that UN machinery be improved to provide for "the peaceful settlement of disputes, for on-the-spot fact-finding, mediation and adjudication, for extending the rule of international law." He concluded that his generation would be remembered either for destroying the planet or for saving future generations from war. Never before did the world have so much to gain and so much to lose. "Together we shall save our planet, or together we shall perish in its flames."11

On September 20, 1961 the Soviet Union and the United States issued a "Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations" known as the McCloy-Zorin Agreement. This agreement declared,

The United States and the USSR have agreed
to recommend the following principles as the basis
for future multilateral negotiations on disarmament
and to call upon other States to cooperate in reaching
early agreement on general and complete disarmament
in a peaceful world in accordance with these principles.
1. The goal of negotiations is to achieve agreement
on a program which will ensure that
(a) disarmament is general and complete
and war is no longer an instrument
for settling international problems, and
(b) such disarmament is accompanied by the establishment
of reliable procedures for the peaceful settlement of disputes
and effective arrangements for the maintenance of peace
in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
2. The program for general and complete disarmament
shall ensure that States will have at their disposal
only such non-nuclear armaments, forces, facilities
and establishments as are agreed to be necessary to maintain
internal order and protect the personal security of citizens;
and that States shall support and provide agreed manpower
for a United Nations peace force.
3. To this end, the program for general and complete disarmament
shall contain the necessary provisions,
with respect to the military establishment of every nation, for:
(a) Disbanding of armed forces,
dismantling of military establishments, including bases,
cessation of the production of armaments
as well as their liquidation or conversion to peaceful uses.
(b) Elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear, chemical,
bacteriological, and other weapons of mass destruction
and cessation of the production of such weapons;
(c) Elimination of all means of delivery
of weapons of mass destruction;
(d) Abolishment of the organization and institutions
designed to organize the military effort of States,
cessation of military training,
and closing of all military training institutions;
(e) Discontinuance of military expdenditures.12

The Joint Statement also suggested that disarmament be implemented in stages with adequate verification for each stage by effective international control. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Zorin would not agree on the verification terms recommended by McCloy because the Soviets suspected they could be used as "legalized espionage." McCloy put the US position on record by including the following statement in a letter the same day to Zorin: "Such verification should ensure that not only agreed limitations or reductions take place but also that retained armed forces and armaments do not exceed agreed levels at any stage."13 The McCloy-Zorin Statement is considered a high point in disarmament efforts during the Cold War. An 18-nation committee on disarmament was formed in December 1961. The Soviet Union presented a draft treaty for general and complete disarmament on March 15, 1962 and proposed a nuclear-free zone in Europe on March 28. The United States presented their draft treaty for disarmament on April 18, and by August both superpowers were negotiating a draft treaty to present to the 18-nation disarmament committee.

In May 1962 Clark and Sohn recast their proposals as a "Proposed Treaty Establishing a World Disarmament and World Development Organization within the Framework of the United Nations." The US proposal gave the International Court jurisdiction over disputes on the disarmament during the first stage, while the Soviet version did not mention the International Court at all. The Clark-Sohn Plan offered incentives to most people in the world with its development provisions, but the Soviet and US proposals ignored this need. The Soviets were reluctant to give up their veto in the Security Council, and the American proposal was vague on how the UN would enforce disarmament. However, the Clark-Sohn treaty gave the new disarmament organization enforcement authority. The Soviet Treaty would have led to a disarmed world, but it would not have provided a workable system for settling international disputes. The US treaty would have begun to try to deal with international conflicts only after the first stage of disarmament.

Both the US and Soviet plans would have resulted in a balance of national power instead of the world-based enforceable world law of the Clark-Sohn approach. The Clark-Sohn Plan had the advantage of solving unanswered questions prior to agreement and implementation so that confidence in the future could be gained. Obviously none of these proposals were implemented. After the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, the Soviets decided to catch up with the US in the nuclear arms race.

The Clark-Sohn proposals were presented as a useful basis for discussion of these questions, and they did stimulate much thought. Saul Mendlovitz and Richard Falk used World Peace Through World Law as a foundation upon which to build elaborate teaching materials for discussions on world order. The Institute for World Order developed outstanding educational materials from experts around the world in their World Order Models Project (WOMP). Such notables as Herman Kahn and Andrei Sakharov recommended careful study of the Clark-Sohn proposals. As early as 1973 these materials had been studied in about 500 colleges and universities in the United States.

Why have these ideas not yet succeeded? Richard Falk pointed out in a Study of Future Worlds that change-oriented groups have not been responsive to law-based appeals, which are at the same time both radical and conservative. Law and order is a conservative approach, while giving up national sovereignty to world institutions is a radical change. Amitai Etzioni in The Hard Way to Peace asked what could be done to accelerate the historical processes that would lead to these solutions. He suggested the formation of supranational communities and also economic and political development around the world. Falk and Mendlovitz credited the Clark-Sohn Plan with providing a framework of international law within which the widest possible shaping and sharing of human values could take place.


1. Quoted in One World or None: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement Through 1953 by Lawrence S. Wittner, p. 20.
2. Ibid., p. 24.
3. Ibid., p. 25-26.
4. Grenville Clark: Public Citizen by Gerald T. Dunne, p. 141.
5. A Plan for Peace by Grenville Clark, p. ix.
6. World Peace Through World Law by Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn, p. xv.
7. Ibid., p. xvi.
8. A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., p. 484.
9. Ibid.
10. Kennedy by Theodore C. Sorensen, p. 521-522.
11. A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., p. 484.
12. Documentary History of Arms Control and Disarmament, p. 470-471.
13. Ibid., p. 469.

Copyright © 2003-2005 by Sanderson Beck

This is a chapter in World Peace Efforts Since Gandhi, which is published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

Gandhi's Nonviolent Revolution
Wilson and the League of Nations
United Nations and Human Rights
United Nations Peacekeeping
Einstein and Schweitzer on Peace in the Atomic Age
Pacifism of Bertrand Russell and A. J. Muste
Clark-Sohn Plan for World Law and Disarmament
King and the Civil Rights Movement
Lessons of the Vietnam War
Women for Peace
Anti-Nuclear Protests
Resisting Wars in Central America
Gorbachev and Ending the Cold War
Mandela and Freeing South Africa
Chomsky and Zinn on US Imperialism
Protesting the Bush-Iraq Wars
Nonviolent Revolution for Global Justice
Appendix: My Efforts for World Peace


Chronology of Peacemaking

BECK index