By Daniel K White
Hailing from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, William Pace grew up in the post WWII era that brought about an unprecedented economic boom in America and witnessed a dynamic change in civil society with the emergence of a counterculture when Pace graduated from the University of Denver. Like so many other young American’s, Pace was faced with the possibility of being conscripted during the height of the Vietnam War. As his university’s student body president, he opposed the war and secured conscientious objector classification. In his moral and intellectual struggle with war, Pace stumbled upon Albert Einstein’s largely unknown but intriguing biography ‘Einstein on Peace’ and his struggle with “war” by Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden. Einstein’s thoughts on peace resonated deeply with Pace and it would become one of Pace’s greatest inspirations in pursuing a life devoted to protecting the environment, international justice, rule of law, human rights, and world peace.
Pace’s discovery of Einstein’s soul searching for world peace gave Pace the impetus to find out more about Einstein’s significant involvement in the World Federalist Movement (WFM). The campaign for world federalism began in the 1930’s in direct response of the failed attempt by the League of Nations to prevent the outbreak of another world war with the idea and concept becoming popularized in 1937 by two influential pacifists and feminists Rosika Schwimmer and Lola Maverick Lloyd.
After the movement gained momentum through the likes of Rosika Schwimmer, Lola Maverick Lloyd and others, similar groups with the same objectives aimed at preventing and abolishing war through peaceful means began to flourish. The movement for world federalism continued to grow with several publications such as ‘The Anatomy of Peace’ by Emery Reves in 1945 and early notable figures like Albert Einstein, Oscar Hammerstein II (Rodgers & Hammerstein) and Bette Davis were well known advocates for world federalism and instrumental in promulgating the movement.
The WFM founded in 1947 is today a non-profit, non-partisan organisation committed to the realisation of global peace and justice through the development of democratic institutions and the application of international and world law. The ongoing success of this historic movement can be attributed to many individuals, and owing to the foresight and initial efforts by Rosika Schwimmer and Lola Maverick Lloyd who envisioned world federalism, members of WFM-IGP today continue to gather from around the globe to collaborate and work effectively and tirelessly with one another in harmony towards preventing World War and establishing peace.
In 1983 the Institute for Global Policy (IGP) was implemented as an educational arm of the WFM and continues to this day to improve and better understand the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations. Its primary function is to research and form policy aimed at promoting human security, international justice, the prevention of armed conflict and protection of civilians. Given the gravity of work WFM-IGP is involved with, the movement has attracted influential and charismatic personalities even in contemporary times such as Martin Sheen and the late Sir Peter Ustinov who was well known for his humanitarian and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) efforts and served as International President of the WFM-IGP from 1994 – 2004.
Pace gained extensive experience working for many years for peace and disarmament causes, as well as work for Amnesty International and for preparations for the UN Decade of International Law and the Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development). Pace became acting Secretary-General of WFM in 1988 and began full-time service at the UN office of the WFM in 1994. During Pace’s tenure while he was Executive Director for the WFM-IGP (1994 – 2019) and since then, Pace has had a propitious career and tangible success with international justice, rule of law, environmental law, and human rights.
It was a seminal moment in July 1998 for international law and justice when by a vote of 120 – 7, the world’s governments adopted the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and four years later, in July 2002, 66 nations ratified the treaty establishing the ICC (now 123 nations ratified). Pace and the Coalition for the ICC comprising 2500 organizations worldwide was organized and hosted by WFM-IGP and were widely recognized as fundamental to the creation of the ICC both being nominated numerous times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Pace and WFM-IGP were asked by the government of Canada to organize a global coalition for another major new norm – the Responsibility to Protect – endorsed by more than a hundred nations. Thus, 2 monumental achievements were implemented and continue to serve the international community in preventing and ceasing aggression, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. In acknowledgement of Pace’s immeasurable contributions, he was awarded the William J Butler Human Rights Award 2002 from the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the ICC.
Despite the hurdles and challenges presented globally by various governments from all corners around the world, Pace has consistently been unabated in his pursuit for global peace and even served as the Secretary-General of the Hague Appeal for Peace (1996 – 1999) and chaired what has been called the largest peace conference in history, marking the 100th anniversary of the first Hague Peace Conference that involved more than 8,000 nongovernmental organizations, international institutions, and government representatives. When reflecting on the efficacy and ongoing role of the United Nations, in an article published by Pace in 2016 he stated the following “Let me state that I believe it is highly likely that the UN has prevented WW III – that is a war between P5 governments (Permanent Members: China, France, Russia, USA, UK and other states) using nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.” Given Pace’s expertise, he has been widely featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, CNN, Der Spiegel and while Pace’s overall achievements may not be widely known, his actions speak volumes of what can be accomplished through a life pursuing peace.
Today, Pace continues to devote his time on numerous transnational committees and leads the Center for Development of International Law where Pace has served as President since 1989. His contribution to justice, law, the environment, and humanity over the past 30 years is nothing short of remarkable. The old peace movement (WFM-IGP) which Pace has been a pivotal member of has not only managed to keep with the zeitgeist of the times, it offers everyone to be a part of a worldwide community who share the same honorable ideals for justice, law, environmental protection and human rights and values.
With devastating natural disasters, wars, and civil conflict around the world today, Einstein could not have been more insightful and profound in his quote for peace. “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
Pace is the embodiment and exemplification of what Einstein envisaged; long may he endure.