by Tom DeWeese at www.americanpolicy.org
(editors note: If you read nothing else in this article, please read the second to last paragraph and the local report at the end. It summarizes what every rural community, including Big Timber, faces.)
One rarely hears of it. Few elected officials raise an eyebrow. The media makes no mention of it. But power is slowly slipping away from our elected representatives. In much the same way Mao Tse-tung had his Red Guards, so the UN has its NGOs. They may well be your masters of tomorrow, and you don’t even know who or what they are. There are, in fact, two parallel, complimentary forces operating in the world, working together to advance the global Sustainable Development agenda, ultimately heading toward UN global governance. Those two forces are the UN itself and non-governmental organizations (NGOs.)
Beginning with the United Nations, the infrastructure pushing the Sustainable Development agenda is a vast, international matrix. At the top of the heap is the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Created in 1973 by the UN General Assembly, the UNEP is the catalyst through which the global environmental agenda is implemented. Virtually all of the international environmental programs and policy changes that have occurred globally in the past three decades are the result of UNEP efforts.
But UNEP doesn’t operate on its own. Influencing it and helping to write policy are thousands of non- governmental organizations (NGOs). The phrase “non-governmental organization” came into use with the establishment of the United Nations Organization in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter. The term describes a consultative role for organizations that are neither government nor member states of the UN. True NGOs are officially sanctioned by the United Nations. Such status was created by UN Resolution #1296 in 1948, giving NGOs official “Consultative” status to the UN. That means they can not only sit in on international meetings, but can actively participate in creating policy, right along side government representatives.
There are numerous classifications of NGO’s. The two most common are “Operational” and “Advocacy.” Operational NGOs are involved with designing and implementing specific projects such as feeding the hungry or organizing relief projects. These groups can be religious or secular. They can be community-based, national or international. Advocacy NGOs are promoting a specific political agenda. They lobby government bodies, use the news media and organize activist-oriented events, all designed to raise awareness and apply pressure to promote their causes which include environmental issues, human rights, poverty, education, children, drinking water, and population control – to name a few.
Today these NGOs have power nearly equal to member nations when it comes to writing U.N. policy. In fact, most U.N. policy is first debated and then written by the NGOs and presented to national government officials at international meetings for approval and ratification. It is through this process that the individual political agendas of the NGO groups enter the international political arena.
The policies sometimes come in the form of international treaties or simply as policy guidelines. Once the documents are presented to and accepted by representatives of member states and world leaders, obscure political agendas of private organizations suddenly become international policy, and are then adopted as national and local laws by U.N. member states. Through this very system, Sustainable Development has grown from a collection of ideas and wish lists of a wide variety of private organizations to become the most widely implemented tool in the U.N.’s quest for global governance.
Who are the NGOs? The three most powerful organizations influencing UNEP policy are three international NGOs. They are the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN). These three groups provide the philosophy, objectives and methodology for the international environmental agenda through a series of official reports and studies such as: World Conservation Strategy, published in 1980 by all three groups; Global Biodiversity Strategy, published in 1992; and Global Biodiversity Assessment, published in 1996.
These groups not only influence UNEP’s agenda, they also influence a staggering array of international and national NGOs around the world. Jay Hair, former head of the National Wildlife Federation, one of the U.S.’s largest environmental organizations, was also the president of the IUCN. Hair later turned up as co-chairman of the Presidents Council on Sustainable Development.
The WWF maintains a network of national chapters around the world, which influence, if not dominate, NGO activities at the national level. It is at the national level where NGOs agitate and lobby national governments to implement the policies that the IUCN, WWF and WRI get written into the documents that are advanced by the UNEP. In this manner, the world grows ever closer to global governance.
Other than treaties, how does UNEP policy become U.S. policy? Specifically, the IUCN has an incredible mix of U.S. government agencies along with major U.S. NGOs as members. Federal agencies include the Department of State, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service (NPS) the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Fish and Wildlife service. These agencies send representatives to all meetings of the UNEP.
Also attending those meetings as active members are NGO representatives. These include activist groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Zero Population growth, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, the National Education Association, and hundreds more. These groups all have specific political agendas they desire to become law. Through their official contact with government agencies working side-by-side with the UNEP, their political wish lists become official government policy.
How can it be that the NGO wish list becomes law, you ask? How can private organizations control policy and share equal power to elected officials? Here’s how it works.
When the dust settled over the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, five major documents were forced into international policy that will change forever how national policy is made. More importantly, the Rio Summit produced the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). UNCED outlined a new procedure for shaping policy. The procedure has no name, nor is it dictatorial. It is perhaps best described as “controlled consensus” or “affirmative acquiescence.” Put in simple street language, the procedure really amounts to a collection of NGOs, bureaucrats and government officials, all working together toward a predetermined outcome. It is the procedure used to advance the radical, global environmental agenda.
The UNCED procedure utilizes four elements of power: international government (UN); national governments; non-governmental organizations, and philanthropic institutions.
The NGOs are the key to the process. They create policy ideas from their own private agendas. The policy idea is then adopted by one or more U.N. organizations for consideration at a regional conference. Each conference is preceded by an NGO forum designed specifically to bring NGO activists into the debate. There they are fully briefed on the policy and then trained to prepare papers and lobby and influence the official delegates of the conference. In this way, the NGOs control the debate and assure the policy is adopted.
The ultimate goal of the conference is to produce a “Convention,” which is a legally- drawn policy statement on specific issues. Once the “Convention” is adopted by the delegates, it is sent to the national governments for official ratification. Once that is done, the new policy becomes international law. Then the real work begins. Compliance must be assured. Again, the NGOs come into the picture. They are responsible for pressuring Congress to write national laws in order to comply with the treaty. One trick used to assure compliance is to write into the laws the concept of third-party lawsuits.
NGOs now regularly sue the government and private citizens to force policy. Their legal fees and even damage awards are paid to them out of the government treasury. Through a coordinated process, hundreds of NGOs are at work in Congress, in every state government and in every local community, advancing some component of the global environmental agenda.
However, the United States Constitution’s Tenth Amendment bars the Federal Government from writing laws that dictate local policy. To bypass this roadblock, NGOs encourage Congress to include special grants to help states and communities to fund the new policy, should they want to “voluntarily” comply.
Should a community or state refuse to participate “voluntarily,” local chapters of the NGOs are trained to go into action. They begin to pressure city councils or county commissioners to accept the grants and implement the policy. Should they meet resistance, they begin to issue news releases telling the community their elected officials are losing millions of dollars for the community. The pressure continues until the grant is finally taken and the policy becomes local law.
Americans must begin to understand that the debate over environmental issues has very little to do with clean water and air and much more to do with the establishment of power. NGOs are gaining it, and locally elected officials are losing it, as the structure of American government changes to accommodate the private agendas of NGOs.
The most important NGO in our area promoting Sustainable Development and Smart Growth which has the capability of executing all the requirements to achieve transformation according to ICLEI is Yellowstone Business Partnership (YBP). In 2005, YBP partnered with the Nature Conservancy which is one of the lead NGOs recognized formally by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Using the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating system as a format, they developed a regionally – relevant rating system tailored specifically to the greater Yellowstone area called the GY-Framework. The purpose of this rating system was to encourage green building and sustainable land use in the 25 county area surrounding Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. YBP selected eleven pilot projects to test the GY-Framework on the ground. One of those pilots was Dornix Park in Big Timber, Montana.
YBP has developed a regional concept of governance for the Greater Yellowstone Area, and now has created a “consortium” of local Metropolitan Planning Organizations, planning departments and others that are buying into “smart growth” and “sustainable development”. The consortium members are being lured with grant money and, if they buy into the terms of these grants, they will be obligated to abide by the planning rules of the grant maker. This will change existing planning documents and force them to comply with the regional standards required for the development of “smart growth” cities. The grantor will most likely be the EPA, HUD, DOT Partnership for Sustainable Development. So much for local sovereignty.