U.N. Structure Resolutions


Resolutions of the Task Force on
U.N. Structural Reform

Conference on Re-forming the United Nations:
Toward a Humane Global Society
John F. Kennedy Library, Boston
11 November 1995


            1.  Whereas the history of national states demonstrates that the political community and the government of that community develop in interaction with each other — government helping to create community, and community originally creating government; and

            2.  Whereas every stable community learns to accept the rule of law as its members abandon the state of nature and undertake to respect the rights of others as well as to enjoy their own rights and freedoms in civil society; and

            3.  Whereas democratic communities particularly value governing institutions that provide for the participation of the people in the making of the laws, to which they directly, or through their freely chosen representatives, give their consent; and

            4.  Whereas republican communities particularly value governing institutions that aim at the common good, and not the good only of one interest, class, race, gender, nationality, or any other distinction for preference in political life than that of individual merit; and

            5.  Whereas the international community as it approaches the 21st century is finding that the structures of international organization based on the absolute sovereignty of states are inadequate to meeting the challenges of the global problématique;  and

            6.  Whereas a humane global society remains an aspiration for the future, since international and ethnic conflict, economic inequality, social injustice, destruction of the environment, and in short injustice  is for too many people a daily reality; and

            7.  Whereas violence of all kinds, especially against the most vulnerable in societies — women, children, the aged — remains endemic throughout the world community, while non-violence is recognized as the ideal for the peaceful settlement of disputes in the U.N. Charter; and

            8.  Whereas the United Nations has often gone through periods of “reform,” but never of its fundamental structures, while the Charter has been amended only four times; and

            9.  Whereas increasing the powers vested in the United Nations cannot prudently be undertaken without also improving the structures of representation and democracy in its organs, lest an important check be lost on abuse of power; and

            10.  Whereas powers should never be raised from the state level to the international one, as not from the province level to that of the state, nor from the city to the province, unless necessary for the general good, in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, as in Europe, or with the Tenth Amendment, in the United States; and

            11.  Whereas actions to reform the structures of the United Nations system of organizations will realistically continue to rely on responsible and cooperative policies of states members, especially those which have the capacity to exert the greatest influence; and

            12.  Whereas structural reforms must be designed to strengthen customary and treaty-based international law as well as to prepare the U.N. for the enactment by democratic processes of world law reaching to individuals; and

            13.  Whereas  the transition to a more lawful, just, and humane world order will necessarily utilize a range of supranational institutions, whereby states and their national peoples will learn that it is safe as well as advantageous to accept the rule of law at the world level;


            Now, therefore, let it be:

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            8.1.  Resolved that current tendencies to regard the individual, like states,  as a “subject” of international law, as under human rights treaties or the Genocide Convention, should be actively supported by the United Nations and the international community, the United States and other states, and the public, since this step advances the rule of law.

            8.2.  Resolved that proposals to give the individual, businesses, and non-governmental organizations, in addition to states, “standing” before the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals should be encouraged by all, since non-state actors deserve justice at the level of their operations and such standing widens the jurisdiction of developing world courts. The application of the new Law of the Sea to non-state “entities,” such as deep sea-bed mining companies and ships violating international agreements, and over individuals, such as those accused of illegal fishing or obstructing international passages, is a progressive step.

            8.3.  Resolved that, since states, businesses, and labor unions are already represented in the International Labor Organization (and have been since 1919), the prospect of widening representation in the General Assembly or the assemblies of the specialized agencies, as in the “Binding Triad” proposal for majority voting on the basis of state sovereignty, population, and wealth, should be regarded as possible and supportive of the legitimacy of international authority.

            8.4.  Resolved that consensus, when consent of every state is not required for implementation, may be regarded as the source of the legitimacy of the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, and other organs of the United Nations.  Although consensus can be abused as a cover for widening veto powers, usually it is a device to avoid voting on the rather unrealistic basis of sovereign equality.  Hence, consensus is a step toward majority rule and genuine legislative authority based on majorities of popularly elected representatives.

            8.5.  Resolved that the participation of people and non-governmental organizations in the political life of states and international organizations is a democratic right and a source of authority in the state as in the U.N. and associated international organizations.  International authority depends on a reputation for consent or consensus, participation, impartiality, and universality.

            8.6.  Resolved that all the human rights instruments (declarations, charters, covenants, conventions, protocols, and the like) must be rationalized and more widely ratified in order to complement the now recognized International Bill of Human Rights (Universal Declaration, two International Covenants, and Optional Protocol).  This Bill treats all humanity for the first time as one body politic.  Humanity, then, constitutes the future constituency of world governing institutions dedicated to the protection and promotion of the rights and freedoms of all people.

            8.7.  Resolved that peacekeeping, based on the U.N. Charter’s unwritten “Chapter VI and 1/2,” deserves to be regarded as a step away from the enforcement of international law by military force and toward its enforcement by the relatively non-violent means of police power, which will be basic to the acceptable rule of world law.  The adaptability of the Charter, even without amendment, to justify new international functions not therein explicitly mentioned, as in peacekeeping or protection of the environment, must be preserved in future structural reforms.

            8.8.  Resolved that the U.N.’s supervision of such multilateral arms control and disarmament treaties as the Convention against Environmental Modification (1977), the Outer Space Treaty (1979), the Convention against Excessively Injurious Conventional Weapons (1981), and the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993) deserves to be regarded as a trustworthy precedent for further vesting powers in international organizations to supervise general disarmament without sacrifice of national security.  On the basis of such experience, states and peoples can progress toward establishment of an International Arms Control Verification Agency or an International Disarmament Organization to safely guide the world community toward reduction of arms to levels needed only for domestic order, and hence toward the political conditions needed for the enactment and voluntary observance of world law reaching to individuals in the limited field of war prevention.

            8.9.  Resolved that regional and world economic planning and supervision has already begun in such international organizations as the European Community, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, and the U.N. Economic and Social Council and hence may be regarded as the beginnings for establishing such new, more powerful institutions as the European Union or a “third-generation” Economic United Nations.  One such urgent change is the creation of a World Development Authority, which would replace, or guide and regulate, the present International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).  We must also create a World Central Bank, which would replace and include the present functions of the International Monetary Fund (see Resolution No. 8.24).  The new, “contractual” World Trade Organization could return to the design of the original International Trade Organization (1948) dedicated to seeking full employment in all countries and negotiating equitable terms of trade.


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            8.10.  Resolved that the United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council and as a state-member without whose leadership no real reform can be accomplished within the United Nations system, shall seek the admission of Japan and Germany to the Security Council as “standing” members (permanent members, but without veto), if their constitutions will permit them to exercise their international military responsibilities,  by amendment of the U.N. Charter’s Article 23.  The purpose of this structural reform is to make the Security Council, which is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, more representative of the realities of international life fifty years after 1945.  In addition, consistent with the above amendment, references to the “enemy” states at the end of World War II, as in Articles 53 and 107, should be deleted.

            8.11.  Resolved that the United States and the other permanent members should support the admission of one country from each of South Asia, the Islamic world, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America as standing members of the Security Council, in addition to Japan and Germany.  The purpose is again to make the Security Council more representative, this time by the admission of these large developing countries in South Asia, the Islamic world, Africa, and Latin America.  But if they are admitted, they must be prepared to exercise the responsibilities of standing members.

            8.12.  Resolved that the United States and other permanent members, if standing members are admitted, should also enlarge the Security Council by the number admitted (e.g., 2 or 6), lest opportunities for rotating members be curtailed.

            8.13.  Resolved that the United States and other permanent members — realizing that the veto has become a symbol of their refusal to accept the minimal democratic standards of the United Nations, as well as a necessary device to ensure their consent when commitments of their troops and money are required — enter into a voluntary concordat, perhaps as early as 1998, on limitation of the veto to only those matters affecting their independence and self-preservation; then, perhaps by 2005, after prolonged periods when the veto has not been needed, the permanent members could abolish the veto by amendment of Article 27.  Voting arrangements in the Council of the Law of the Sea, Article 161, could be a guide to Security Council voting without veto.

            8.14.  Resolved  that the United States and all states members make available, by the “special agreements” provided for in Article 43, trained units of their armed forces to be held in readiness as standby forces of the Security Council.

            8.15.  Resolved that the United Nations, with the support of the United States and all states members, establish, by “special arrangement,” an individually recruited quick-reaction peacekeeping force of about 20,000 troops (the “legion”), trained in the relatively non-violent techniques of peacekeeping but available for deployment within 72 hours to trouble spots of the world on decision of the Security Council.

            8.16.  Resolved that the necessary establishment or strengthening of international armed forces, standby forces, peace enforcement forces, quick-reaction peacekeeping force, and traditional peacekeeping forces not   become a substitute for the full exercise of the means for the peaceful settlement of disputes as provided for in Chapter VI — namely, negotiation, inquiry, good offices, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, adjudication, resort to regional agencies, or other means chosen by the parties to the dispute.

            8.17.  Resolved that decisions to undertake humanitarian intervention to protect the human rights of persons caught in domestic or ethnic disputes of so grievous a character that they affect international peace and security (e.g., genocide) be made by the Security Council, provided that the Council seek a preliminary finding or advisory opinion from the new International Criminal Court (in cases of alleged international crimes) or the new World Court of Human Rights (in cases of violations of human rights treaties not defining punishable crimes).  If, in emergency situations, either Court defers to the Security Council, the Courts should retain powers of judicial review of cases after humanitarian intervention in order to develop guidelines for the Council in the future.  Exceptions to the protection of domestic jurisdiction from interventions by the U.N. now provided in Article 2(7) should be made in amendments to that article in order to prevent future confusion or abuse.  In the interim, the General Assembly’s “Guiding Principles for Coordination of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance” (A/RES/46/182, 19 December 1991) offer guidance.


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            8.18.  Resolved that the United States and all state members support reforms of the General Assembly affecting its composition, functions, and voting in order to modify the one-nation, one-vote rule, by amendment of the Charter’s Articles 9, 10, 13, and 18.  The principle of the sovereign equality of states is a recognition that the distinctions between “large,” “medium sized,” and “small” states is an accident of history that ought not to detract from the invaluable contributions of all states, their diplomats,  statesmen and women, and their citizens.  No state has a monopoly on wisdom, nor may the rights of any state be neglected.  Especially in recent years, the contributions of medium sized and small states to the work of the United Nations has been invaluable.  Nevertheless, since the founding of the U.N., and even more so since the beginnings of decolonization, the admission of many mini-states, island states, and states formed by secession from former members of the U.N. has demonstrated the malleable nature of sovereignty (supreme authority to enact law) and has challenged, particularly in the minds of large and medium sized states, the notion of the equal representation of all the organized states on the earth.  Because of gross inequalities, the larger states will not vest real powers in the General Assembly.  Moreover, the non-state actors (international businesses, professional associations, communities of faith, and non-governmental organizations) do not have representation in the world’s deliberative body.  To some extent, consensus decision making has supplied the want of realistic two-thirds majority rule, but the international community can no longer evade the necessity of amending its voting rules.  The global problématique requires effective global solutions. 

            8.19. Resolved that, in the interest of balancing size and responsibility of states,  the international community support such further reforms of the General Assembly as the Binding Triad, which would provide for approval of recommendations and decisions by two-thirds of the states, by a majority of the states representing two-thirds of world population, and by a majority of the states representing two-thirds of economic power as measured by financial contributions to the U.N.  A similar proposal is the establishment of a “second chamber,” a Parliamentary Assembly, initially, like the European Parliament, representative of national parliaments but eventually directly electable by the peoples of the earth.  Neither the Binding Triad nor the Parliamentary Assembly need, at first, to involve an increase in decision making powers in the U.N.  The Assembly’s powers could remain advisory until the world community is confident that the reconstituted Assembly can safely be entrusted with greater powers.  The intent of such reforms is to improve the representation of states and peoples so that the leaders of states today will have greater confidence in the trustworthiness of the General Assembly and will be more inclined to delegate to it powers approximating those of a world legislature.

            8.20.  Resolved that the United States, all states members, and the public in civil society support proposals to establish a Forum of Civil Society, representative of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accredited to the U.N., to meet annually before the opening of the General Assembly in order to advise it on items in its upcoming agenda.  Again, the intent is to give a voice to the presently disfranchised.

            8.21.  Resolved that the United States, all states members, civil society, and the business community support proposals to bring transnational corporations, multinational enterprises, and international business generally into the U.N. system, either by recreating the Commission and Centre on Transnational Corporations, or by creating new offices, programs, fora, or the like, which, like the Forum of Civil Society above, would represent business and give it a voice in the General Assembly.  International business cannot be expected to accept universal codes of conduct, in the common interest of establishing a uniform and predictable business environment, unless it has channels of influence, in which it has confidence, to the intergovernmental bodies negotiating the codes.  Unless international business is brought into the world’s governing institutions, it will continue to form new centers of economic and hence political power rivaling the states and eventually the nascent world community.

            8.22.  Resolved that the United States, all states members, civil society, the business community, and labor support the continued development of common labor standards, particularly as a global market develops, by more general adherence to the recommendations and conventions of the International Labour Organisation, especially Conventions 87, Freedom of Association; 98, Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively; 100, Equal Remuneration for Men and Women; 105, Abolition of Forced Labour; and 111, Non-discrimination in Employment and Occupation.


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            8.23.  Resolved that the United States, all states members, civil society, international business, and labor support reforms of the Economic and Social  Council (Ecosoc) that would give it powers to coordinate economic policy on the world level analogous to those now vested in regional organizations like the Organization for Economic Cooperation in Europe or the European Union.  Because Ecosoc has been enlarged to an unmanageable 54 members and does not attract state participation at the finance minister or treasury secretary level, most proposals call for replacement of Ecosoc by new organs, which would surely require Charter amendment to Chapter X.  One proposal — considered practical in today’s political climate — would replace Ecosoc with an Economic Council and a Social Council,  coordinated by a “Global Alliance for Sustainable Development,” an annual forum of finance ministers.  This seems to be a return to the original concept of Ecosoc and might be effectively achieved by minimal amendment of Chapter X.  Other proposals call for General Assembly resolutions to make the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) the “Executive Committee of the U.N. System,” to establish a new post within the Secretariat of “Deputy Secretary-General for International Economic Cooperation and Sustainable Development,” and to establish a new “U.N. System Consultative Board” to bring the specialized agencies into the originally conceived close relations with the U.N. Organization.  Still other proposals call for establishment, in place of Ecosoc, of an Economic Security Council.  We recommend that debate begin on these three proposals.

            8.24.  Resolved that the United States, all states members, civil society, and international business support the convening of a new Bretton Woods conference, before the turn of the century, in order to bring the world’s monetary, financial, and trade organizations into closer coordination in the face of far larger but anarchical forces of international financial speculation and foreign direct investment.  Particular attention must be paid to the U.N. Charter’s Articles 57-59 and 63, which provided for close coordination of a legally decentralized international system.


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            8.25.  Resolved that the United States, all states members, civil society, and international business support the transformation of the Trusteeship Council, whose work is done with the completion of decolonization (one of the triumphs of the United Nations), into a Trusteeship Council either for the “Global Commons” (environment) or for “Diversity, Representation, and Governance” (human rights).  Charter amendments to Chapters XI, XII, and XIII would seem to be required, or perhaps Article 85 could be construed to allow the General Assembly to make the changes.  The reason for preservation of the Trusteeship Council for new purposes is that it has established a tradition of effective concern for people.  Probably two Trusteeship Councils are required.  One would bring concern for the environment into the Charter and would become the seat of the Commission on Sustainable Development and of other bodies created by the proposed Convention on Sustainable Development.  The second would provide an appropriately high organ for the protection of human rights and could become the seat of the proposed Council for Petitions.



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            8.26.  Resolved that the United States, all states members, and civil society support the establishment of a World Court of Human Rights, by convention like the European and the American Conventions on Human Rights, in order to grant the individual ultimate appellate protection against violations of rights by states or the United Nations.  A position of World Attorney General should be created, with sufficient powers in the World Court of Human Rights, International Court of Justice, and other tribunals of the United Nations system to bring about a redress of individual grievances.  The jurisdiction of the ICJ necessarily must be extended to include individuals and non-governmental organizations, the recognition of whose standing under international law is overdue.


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            8.27.  Resolved that the United States and its citizens support U.S. return to acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ or World Court) for legal disputes, in accordance with Article 36(2) of its Statute, substituting for the Connally reservation (1946) the proposed reservation of the American Bar Association’s Working Group on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations [International Lawyer,  29 (Summer 1995): 293-334].

            8.28.  Resolved that all states members and civil society support general acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court in the common interest of strengthening international law in accord with “the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world.”



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            8.29. Resolved that the United States, all states members, and civil society support the establishment of an International Criminal Court in order to make permanent the achievements of the Nuremberg Tribunal and of the newer Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in extending the rule of law.



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            8.30.  Resolved that all states members rededicate themselves to the principles of an independent international civil service, uninstructed by states members and uninfluenced by them (Article 100).

            8.31.  Resolved  that the Secretary-General be limited to a single term of seven years, in order to avoid any temptation to curry favor with certain states on seeking a second term.  The Secretary-General represents the world organization, not states directly, and must never suffer the least suspicion of loss of integrity.



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            8.32.  Resolved that the United States and its citizens support U.S. return to UNESCO in order to cooperate with other countries in the development of educated citizens in whose minds the defenses of peace have been constructed.  The speedy return of Great Britain and Singapore to UNESCO is also urged.


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            8.33.  Resolved that the United States and all states members work to bring about an end to the chronic financial crisis of the United Nations.  On acceding to the Charter, states accept financial obligations under international law; moreover, especially since the end of the Cold War, states have made increasing demands on the Organization, yet the resources they provide remain inadequate.  The benefits of international organization cannot be enjoyed unless it has an independent and reliable revenue.  Use of withholdings and arrears as a weapon against the U.N. is a violation of Articles 2(2), 19, and 100(2).  All member states, including especially the United States, should be required to immediately pay their dues in arrears plus interest.  Article 19 should immediately be enforced, denying General Assembly voting to any state two years or more in arrears.  The United Nations must have independent and reliable revenue sources, which could include:

 • Levying a tax on arms sales not recorded in the U.N. Register,

using IMF special drawing rights during current account imbalances;

• Taxing international currency transactions as proposed by James Tobin;

• Charging rents and fees for use of the global commons;

• Taxing ocean freight, air cargo, or international trade in goods or services;

• Requiring a U.N. stamp on international mail;

• Taxing international phone calls during “U.N. Day”;

• Establishing an executive committee of finance ministers for Ecosoc if it is given real economic management and development powers.

Civil society could remedy the situation by creating a well advertised U.N. account to which private contributions in support of the United Nations could be sent.  Allowing the U.N. to borrow during shortfalls is desirable, though borrowing is not strictly a source of revenue.  Paying for peacekeeping out of national defense budgets is also desirable, though it hardly promises to be reliable.


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            8.34.  Resolved that states members and civil society, with a view to creating an effective and accountable United Nations in the 21st century, should support a U.N. Charter review conference in accordance with Article 109 no later than 2005, the date suggested by the Commission on Global Governance for when the Security Council veto might safely be relinquished, following several years of a voluntary concordat.  (If possible, we urge an earlier date, even before 2000.)  Article 109(3) should be amended to provide, as originally proposed, regular ten-year review conferences for amendment of the U.N. Charter.  Such a conference would have to be prepared with at least as much care as the San Francisco conference in 1945, and at least one great power, preferably the United States in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, must lead.  We, the peoples, are ready.


Action Steps


            Structural reform of the United Nations will require two fundamental steps:


1.  Establishing a policy, within the United States and other national states, of seeking the reform of the United Nations, in the context of fully implementing the existing U.N. Charter and international law generally;

2.  Undertaking amendment of the Charter by diplomatic discussions in accordance with Article 108, as was done by 1965 and 1973 to enlarge the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, or by convening a Charter review conference in accordance with Article 109.

             The first step will lead to the second, which cannot be undertaken without it.  In the first step, those reforms that can be accomplished by executive policy or loose construction of the U.N. Charter — such as fully implementing human rights treaties,  strengthening the international regimes protecting the environment, establishing an International Criminal Court, convening a new Bretton Woods conference, returning to the spirit of the “agreements” under Article 63 for the relationship of the specialized agencies to the U.N., or even some proposals for reorganizing the Economic and Social Council — will necessarily precede amendments of the fundamental treaty affecting international life. 

            But most of the substantial reforms contemplated above, in the resolutions of the other task forces of our public conference, in the books Our Global Neighborhood and The United Nations in Its Second Half Century, and in such other books on U.N. reform as Maurice Bertrand’s The Third Generation World Organization, will require Charter amendment.  This is true although virtually all authors stress reforms without Charter amendment.  The Charter can grow by interpretation, as has the U.S. Constitution, but times arrive when there can be no further evasion of the necessity to amend the fundamental law of a free and well ordered community.

            Hence, practical steps by the people and citizens of the United States, and of other states, aiming at a policy and then a conference on U.N. reform, include actions to:

Build public opinion by conversations, conferences, writing articles and books, and approaches to the media;


Join one of the very many existing citizens’ organizations devoted to improving international cooperation;


Invite the organization you join to become a member or co-sponsor of the Coalition for a Strong United Nations;


Cooperate with others in coalitions like ours;


Meet with a small group of activists (3-5 people) to select perhaps five local electoral campaigns in which you will seek candidates who will commit, if elected, to moving their town council or board of aldermen to recommend that the Governor of Massachusetts urge the President of the United States to develop a policy of U.N. reform;


Continue to approach reporters in the press, radio, and television in order to impress on the media that the people care;


Form a small group to select five  newspapers to visit in order to support an editorial policy to increase coverage of U.N. efforts other than peacekeeping;


Form a team of writers, perhaps Task Force chairpersons and others active in the Coalition for a Strong United Nations, to “divvy up” topics on U.N. reform and write 2-3 op-ed essays each for submission to local and national papers;


Raise the issue in public meetings during electoral campaigns;


Hold town meetings on U.N. reform, as during the Freeze campaign;


Seek statements from candidates to office who offer their leadership;


Introduce a plank into the platforms of the main political parties;


Seek political office ourselves at city, state, and federal levels;


Write elected Congresspersons and the President and Vice-President;


Hold public rehearsals of a Charter review conference, perhaps on the model of the United Nations Association’s Model U.N.s for high school and college students;


Introduce classes on the United Nations in your school or offer courses on international organization and U.N. reform at a college or university;


Conduct classes on U.N. reform at neighborhood centers for adult education;


Speak at meetings of Rotary clubs, other business associations, professional associations, scholarly conferences, and especially churches, since they traditionally have sought peace on earth;


Attend conferences on international affairs and raise questions from the floor about the weaknesses of the United Nations and the necessity for reform;


Contribute directly to a U.N. account in order to demonstrate directly the will of the people to ensure a revenue to the organization pledged to end the scourge of war on earth;


Build the institutions of civil society, international networks of people, the non-profit and voluntary sector, as is already well begun, since civil society offers a basis for future international life that breaks with the traditions of threat and use of force still practiced by national states;


Keep a smile on your face and a song in your heart;


Keep the faith; pray!


Drafted by:

Joseph P. Baratta

Winston Langley

Ruth Weizenbaum

13 October 1995


Revised and approved by the public

11 November 1995