Editor of "Transnational Perspectives"
Elected Delegate at the People's Congress
18 December was set by the UN General Assembly to call attention to the role of migrants in the world society. The date was chosen to mark the creation of the UN-negotiated International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families . The aim of the Convention was to insure that migrants and their families would continue to be covered by the human rights standards set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenants, and other human rights treaties. In practice, migrants are often between two chairs - no longer of concern to the State they have left and not yet covered by the human rights laws of the State to which they have gone.
Ratifications of the Convention have been slow with a good number of governments making reservations that generally weaken the impact of the Convention. In 2004, a commission of independent experts was set up to study the reports to the UN of governments on the application of the Convention - a commission that is part of the Human Rights Treaty Body System. Reports from each government party to the Convention are to be filed once every four years. However, the discussions within the Migration Treaty Body and its subsequent report attract the attention of only a small number of people. However, the discussion deals with the report of only one government at a time while migration is always a multi-State issue and can have worldwide implications.
Moreover, many States consider that earlier International Labour Organization conventions deal adequately with migrant rights and see no need to sign a new convention.
Citizens of the world have stressed that the global aspects of migration flows have an impact on all countries. The changing nature of the world's economies modify migration patterns, and there is a need to plan for migration as the result of possible environmental-climate changes.
The current flow of migrants and refugees to Europe has become a high profile political issue. Many migrants come from areas caught up in armed conflict: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia. The leaders of the European Union (EU) have been divided and unsure in their responses. Local solidarity networks that offer food, shelter, and medical care are overwhelmed. Political debates over how to deal with the refugees have become heated, usually with more heat than light. The immediacy of the refugee exodus requires our attention, our compassion, and our sense of organization.
EU officials have met frequently to discuss how to deal with the migrant-refugee flow, but a common policy has so far been impossible to establish. At a popular level, there have been expressions of fear of migrants, of possible terrorists among them, and a rejection of their cultures. These popular currents, often increased by right-wing political parties make decisions all the more difficult to take. An exaggerated sense of threat fuels anti-immigration sentiments and creases a climate of intolerance and xenophobia.
Therefore, the Association of World Citizens, which is in consultative status with the UN, is calling for a UN-led world conference on migration and refugee issues, following earlier UN world conferences on the environment, food, housing, women, population, youth, human rights and other world issues. The pattern of such UN-led world conferences usually follows a common pattern: encouragement of research and data collection by UN agencies, national governments, NGOs, and academic institutions. Then regional meetings are held to study the regional dimensions of the issue. The regional conferences are followed by the world conference of government representatives with the participation of NGO delegates of organizations which hold consultative status. Usually there is also a parallel NGO conference with a wider range of NGOs present, especially those active at the local or national level. From such a world conference a plan of action is set to influence action by UN agencies, national governments, and NGOs.
Only a UN-led conference with adequate research and prior discussions can meet the challenges of worldwide migration and continuing refugee flows. There is a need to look at both short-term emergency humanitarian measures and at longer-range migration patterns, especially at potential climate modification impact. A UN-led world conference on migration can highlight possible trends and especially start to build networks of cooperation to meet this world challenge.
Environment and Climate Change: Building on the Momentum of the Paris Agreement
The Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, Twenty-first session (COP21) came to an end in Paris, Saturday afternoon, 12 December 2015, a day longer than planned to allow for last moment compromises and an agreement with a few States, mainly Saudi Arabia and Venezuela so that they would not block a consensus agreement. All 195 States plus the European Union had to agree. A treaty is not something that can be created by a majority vote as can be done in a UN General Assembly resolution. On 22 April 2016, there will be a high-level signature ceremony. The Treaty must be ratified by 55 States and will come into force in 2020.
The Treaty arising from the COP 21 will replace the Kyoto Protocol. The new Treaty is relatively short and clear. However, it is the Preamble of 140 paragraphs not legally binding but where all the analysis and aims are set out that caused difficulties to reach consensus among States with diverse interpretations of national interest, of short and longer-range perspectives, and of differing access to national expertise.
The preamble has been under negotiations for the past two years. Although most points had been agreed upon well before the Paris start, some crucial aspects had to be negotiated during the two-week session among both heads of government who came at the start and teams of negotiators, often with a Foreign Minister present, during the rest of the time.
Although it was decided that there would be no mention of migration-refugee flows - not even of climate refugees nor of terrorism - the 13 November terrorist shootings in Paris required very tight security from the French police outside the conference center and from UN guards inside the building. Fear was a widely-spread emotion reflected in the first round of 6 December voting to the French regional assemblies. The National Front, a far-right, xenophobic party, received a larger-number-than-usual votes. Fortunately, in the 13 December, second round of voting, the National Front was defeated and will lead no regional assembly. Although delegates to UN meetings come with instructions from their government, all feel the atmosphere of the place in which they are meeting.
The Paris agreement can be an important step toward a great transformation towards a sustainable world society, especially when seen in the framework of the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals recently agreed upon by these same States. The effectiveness of the steps toward transformation will depend for an important part upon non-governmental efforts at the local and national level.
As could be expected, the agreement is a framework for country-driven strategies - not a UN-imposed plan of action. Common but differentiated responsibilities is the key concept, with differentiated being the key word. The emphasis is on nationally-determined contributions. However, after 2020, this pledge mechanism will have an international review mechanism to see to what extent the national pledges have been met and if the world situation requires new measures.
An important aspect of this review process is the emphasis on transparency so that there can be adequate monitoring and verification of emission reductions. This emphasis on transparency and public access to information gives legitimacy to strong NGO monitoring of climate change processes and NGO proposals for improvements. In addition, the Paris preamble recognized that there are many stakeholders in climate change issues beyond governments: the corporate sector, cities, and academic institutions all have important parts to play.
More than in the past, attention was placed on eco-systems rather than on just one factor at a time, such as forests and the dangers of deforestation. An eco-system approach requires looking at forests, soil and water protection, housing, transportation, technology and capacity-building for those working on climate and environmental issues.
The Paris COP 21 has been important in awareness-building and in providing encouragement to cooperation among UN agencies, national governments and NGOs. Our role as NGO representatives is to build on this positive momentum, to increase our expertise and to network more closely with groups in the most vulnerable zones. Paris was an example of dedication and foresight among all the actors. The road ahead to a sustainable world society with green technology may still be long, but the directions is set.
The Genocide Convention an unused but not forgotten standard of world law
On the anniversary of the 1948 Convention on Genocide, it is imperative to identify a relevant existing body such as the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to strengthen in order to be able to deal with the first signs of tensions, especially direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
The 9th December is the anniversary of the 1948 Convention on Genocide, signed at the UN General Assembly held in 1948 in Paris. The Genocide Convention was signed the day before the proclamation on 10 December 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The two texts were much influenced by the Second World War. The crimes of Nazi Germany were uppermost in the minds of those who drafted the Genocide Convention in order to deal with a new aspect of international law and the laws of war. The cry was Never again!
The protection of civilians from deliberate mass murder was already in The Hague and Geneva Conventions of international humanitarian law. However, genocide is different from mass murder. Genocide is the most extreme consequences of racial discrimination and ethnic hatred. Genocide has as its aim the destruction, wholly or in part, of national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such. The term was proposed by the legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, drawing on the Greek genos (people or tribe) and the Latin cide (to kill) .
Genocide in the sense of a desire to eliminate a people has nearly always a metaphysical aspect as well as deep-seated racism. This was clear in the Nazi desire to eliminate Jews, first by forced emigration from Europe and, when emigration was not possible, by physical destruction.
We see a desire to destroy totally certain tribes in the Darfur conflict in Sudan that did not exist in the much longer and more deadly North-South Sudan Civil War (1956-1972, 1982-2005). Darfur tribes are usually defined by blood lines marriage and thus procreation is limited to a certain population, either within the tribe or with certain other groups with which marriage relations have been created over a period of time. Thus children born of rape considered Janjaweed babies after the government-sponsored Janjaweed militias are left to die or are abandoned. The raped women are often banished or ostracized. By attacking both the aged, holders of traditional knowledge, and the young of child-bearing age, the aim of the destruction of the continuity of a tribal group is clear.
We find the same pattern in some of the fighting in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo where not only are women raped but their sexual organs are destroyed so that they will not be able to reproduce.
As then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said at UNESCO in 1998,
Many thought, no doubt, that the horrors of the Second World War - the camps, the cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust could not happen again. And yet they have, in Cambodia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Rwanda. Our time - this decade even - has shown us that mans capacity for evil knows no limits. Genocide - the destruction of an entire people on the basis of ethnic or national origins - is now a word of our time too, a stark and haunting reminder of why our vigilance must be eternal.
Mr Nicodene Ruhashyankiko of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination of Minorities wrote in his study of proposed mechanisms for the study of information on genocide and genocidal practices A number of allegations of genocide have been made since the adoption of the 1948 Convention. In the absence of a prompt investigation of these allegations by an impartial body, it has not been possible to determine whether they were well founded. Either they have given rise to sterile controversy or, because of the political circumstances, nothing further has been heard about them.
Article VIII of the Genocide Conventions provides that Any Contracting Party may call upon the Competent Organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the UN as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III. Unfortunately no State has ever done so.
Thus we need to heed the early warning signs of genocide. Officially-directed massacres of civilians of whatever number cannot be tolerated, for the organizers of genocide must not believe that more widespread killing will be ignored. Yet killing is not the only warning sign. The Convention drafters, recalling the radio addresses of Hitler and the constant flow of words and images, set out as punishable acts direct and public incitement to commit genocide. The Genocide Convention, in its provisions concerning public incitement, sets the limits of political discourse. It is well documented that public incitement - whether by Governments or certain non-governmental actors - including political movements - to discriminate against, to separate forcibly, to deport or physically eliminate large categories of the population of a given State because they belong to certain racial, ethnic or religious groups, sooner or later leads to war. Therefore, the Genocide Convention is also a constant reminder of the need to moderate political discourse, especially constant and repeated accusations against a religion, ethnic and social category of persons. Had this been done in Rwanda, with regard to the radio Mille Collines perhaps the premeditated and announced genocide could have been avoided or mitigated.
For the United Nations to be effective in the prevention of genocide, there needs to be an authoritative body which can investigate and monitor a situation well in advance of the outbreak of violence. As has been noted, any Party to the Genocide Convention (and most States are Parties) can bring evidence to the UN Security Council, but none has. In the light of repeated failures and due to pressure from non-governmental organizations, the UN Secretary-General has named an individual advisor on genocide to the UN Secretariat. However, he is one advisor among many, and there is no public access to the information that he may receive.
Therefore, a relevant existing body must be strengthened to be able to deal with the first signs of tensions, especially direct and public incitement to commit genocide. The Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) created to monitor the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination would be the appropriate body to strengthen, especially by increasing its resources and the number of UN Secretariat members which service CERD. Through its urgent procedures mechanisms, CERD has the possibility of taking early-warning measures aimed at preventing existing strife from escalating into conflicts, and to respond to problems requiring immediate attention. A stronger CERD more able to investigate fully situations should mark the worlds commitment to the high standards of world law set out in the Genocide Convention.
Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Vital Role of NGOs
When the Convention on the Rights of the Child was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989, governments took a major step forward in establishing a framework of world law to protect the basic dignity and rights of children in all parts of the world. Thus on 20 November, we remember with gratitude those who worked to develop the concepts and reality of the Rights of the Child but also to measure the tasks that are before us, especially as members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This universal framework is based on the principle that each child should have the possibility to develop into an active and responsible member of society. The way in which a society treats its children reflects not only its qualities of compassion and protective caring, but also its sense of justice, its commitment to the future and its urge to better the human condition for continuing generations.
The effort to create a legal framework for the welfare of the child began early in the League of Nations efforts with the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924 which was largely based on a text written by the then newly-established NGO Save the Children International Union. Child welfare has always been a prime example of cooperative efforts among governments, scholars highlighting the conditions of children, and NGOs working actively in the field. The Geneva Declaration served as the basis for the UN General Assembly resolution on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted also on 20 November 1959. The 1959 Declaration was followed with more specific provisions of the Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, and the Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.
In 1978, some representatives of both governments and NGOs in the UN human rights circles in Geneva felt that it was time to bring together these different declarations and provisions into a single text that would have the legal force of a UN convention. The Polish delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights took the lead in this effort, but some governments felt that the different declarations needed to be closely reviewed and measured against changing realities. Thus a Special Working Group on the Rights of the Child was created in 1979 under the chairmanship of the Polish representative, the legal specialist Adam Lopatka. Government and NGO representatives worked together from 1979 to 1988 for a week each year. There was a core group, including the Association of World Citizens, which worked steadily and which represented a wide range of different beliefs, values and traditions, as well as a wide range of socio-economic realities.
As a result of serious discussions, the Convention covers a wide range of human rights which can be summarized as the three Ps: provision, protection and participation. Each child has the right to be provided with certain things and services, such as a name and a nationality, to health care and education. Each child has a right to be protected from certain acts such as torture, exploitation, arbitrary detention and unwarranted removal from parental care. Each child has a right to participate in decisions affecting their lives as well as in community life.
The Working Group managed to come to a consensus on the final version in time for the General Assembly to adopt it on 20 November 1989, the anniversary date of the Declaration. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is meant to provide guidance for governments to review national legislation and policies in their child-related initiatives. It is by examining national law and policy and the effectiveness of government structures and mechanisms that progress can be measured. The Convention also provides a framework of goals for the vital activities of NGOs. NGOs work on two lines simultaneously: to remind governments of their obligations through approaches to ministries, elected officials and the media and to undertake their own operational efforts.
To help governments to fulfill their obligations and to review national practices, a Committee on the Rights of the Child was created as called for in article 43 of the Convention. The Committee is composed of 10 independent experts elected for a four-year term by the States which have ratified the Convention. The Committee usually meets three times a year for a month each time in Geneva to review and discuss reports submitted by governments, once every four years. The sessions of the Committee are largely carried out in a non-confrontational dialogue with an emphasis on unmet needs.The discussion usually lasts six to nine hours for each country. The Committee members have received information and suggestions from NGOs in advance. The Committee members ask many questions and based on the government's responses, make suggestions for improving the promotion and protection of children's rights in the country.
By creating a common legal framework of world law, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has increased levels of governmental accountability, bringing about legislative and institutional reforms, and increasing international cooperation. As James P. Grant, then UNICEF Executive Director said Transcending its detailed provisions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child embodies the fundamental principle that the lives and the normal development of children should have first call on society's concerns and capacities and that children should be able to depend upon the commitment in good times and in bad, in normal times and in times of emergency, in times of peace and in times of war, in times of prosperity and in times of recession.
Yemen: Where humanity is flaunted
In an exceptional presentation on 31 October 2015, at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer presented an unprecedented joint warning. It is very rare that the ICRC makes public criticisms of governments, in part because of the fear that a criticized government would cut off relations and thus end the ICRC efforts to help the wounded, prisoners of war, and others covered by the Red Cross mandate. Thus the public and high-profile statement along side Ban Ki-moon is an indication of wide-spread fears that the recent attacks against hospitals in Afghanistan and Yemen could weaken, and perhaps destroy, the prohibitions and restraints in war which are now called humanitarian law. These restraints used to be called the laws of war, but since formal Declarations of War have gone out of diplomatic style and many conflicts are within the still-existing boundaries of a State, the term humanitarian law has become widely used.
Peter Maurer, standing next to Ban Ki-moon, said If States, other actors in conflict, and the international community as a whole do not act responsibly now, there will be millions more victims. Acting responsibly means redoubling efforts to achieve political solutions and, pending such achievements, ensuring that humanitarian principles and law are respected. Hospitals are being attacked, patients, doctors, nurses and humanitarian workers killed. When humanitarian law and principles are disregarded, when humanitarian needs are trumped by political agendas, when access to the wounded and sick is denied, and when security concerns lead to a suspension of operations, people are abandoned, the notion of protection loses its meaning, and humanity is flouted.
International humanitarian law (the laws of war) prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities and in attacks which do not distinguish between civilians and combatants. The essential core of humanitarian law is the prohibition on attacking hospitals, medical personnel and the wounded unable to continue fighting. These prohibitions go back to the early Geneva Conventions of July 1906 and were then updated in July 1929 in light of the experiences of the First World War. The Geneva Conventions were renegotiated in the light of the experience of the Second World War leading to the Four Geneva Conventions of August 1949. In light of the experiences of the wars in Nigeria-Biafra and Vietnam, new negotiations were held in Geneva leading to the Two Additional Protocols of 1977. As I had been a member of a working group of the ICRC during the Nigeria-Biafa war, I followed closely the efforts to adapt humanitarian law to internal non-international armed conflicts.
In addition to the Geneva Conventions (sometimes called the Red Cross conventions as the ICRC is the guardian of their respect), there is a second avenue of humanitarian law, usually called The Hague Laws arising for The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 where the emphasis is on banning the use of certain weapons that cause irreversible damage. Dum Dum exploding bullets were the first banned weapons. The most important was the ban in 1925 against poison gas as a result of its very destructive use during World War I. The ban against cluster munitions is the most recent ban within this Hague Law avenue. Unfortunately, none of the weapons bans has an inspection-dispute settlement mechanism except for the much more recent ban on chemical weapons.
The Association of World Citizens (AWC) was active in efforts which led to the treaty on the ban of cluster munitions. In a narrow sense, treaties are only binding on the States which have ratified the treaty. The USA, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Russia have not yet ratifies the cluster munitions ban. Thus, Saudi use of USA-made cluster munitions in Yemen is legal as is Russian use in Syria. However, the world citizen position is that when a large number of States ratify a treaty and that the treaty is constantly used as a standard in the UN as is the case of the cluster munitions ban - then the treaty becomes world law. Thus the cluster munitions use in Yemen and Syria is a violation of world law.
The essential character of world law is that it is the broadly-agreed upon rule of moral conduct. Although no significant revision of international humanitarian law is envisaged at the present, there is a constant need to reflect upon what actions are needed to adapt, promote and implement humanitarian law in the face of the changing realities of armed conflict. Above all we need to look at what we can do when there are violations of humanitarian law by State military or by non-State agents such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
For the moment, the most direct and open violation of the core elements of humanitarian law - the protection of hospitals, medical personnel and the wounded - has been by State actors - the USA in Afghanistan and the Saudi-led coalition (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates) in Yemen. There is an obvious lack of political will to deal with violations of humanitarian law. The USA is powerful, and most of the Saudi-led coalition is rich and active buyers of weapons. For the moment, strong protests can come only from non-governmental organizations, though there is little coordinated effort to protest against violence.
The hospitals attacked in both Afghanistan and Yemen were organized by the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the original French Doctors created in 1971 out of the experience during the Nigeria-Biafra war when the International Committee of the Red Cross did not speak out against the Nigerian policy of starvation as a war weapon for fear of no longer being able to carry out its relief work. The roving ambassador of Biafra to Europe was one of my former students who, when he was in Geneva, would stop by to see me and update me on events. Thus I knew the difficulties in getting the media to focus on starvation as a deliberate policy of war and not as unfortunate collateral damage. Thus, we must agree with the remarks of the then President of MSF, Dr James Orbinski, when the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize Silence has long been confused with neutrality, and has been presented as a necessary condition of humanitarian action. From its beginning, MSF was created in opposition to this assumption. We are not sure that words can always save lives, but we know that silence can certainly kill.
Women as Peacemakers : A 31 October Anniversary
Seeing with eyes that are gender aware, women tend to make connections between the oppression that is the ostensible cause of conflict (ethnic or national oppression) in the light of another crosscutting one : that of gender regime. Feminist work tends to represent war as a continuum of violence from the bedroom to the battlefield, traversing our bodies and our sense of self. We glimpse this more readily because as women we have seen that the home itself is not the haven it is cracked up to be. Why, if it is a refuge, do so many women have to escape it to refuges? And we recognize, with Virginia Woolf, that the public and private worlds are inseparably connected: that the tyrannies and servilities of one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other. Cynthia Cockburn Negotiating Gender and National Identities
October 31 is the anniversary of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 which calls for full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace processes, and peace-building, thus creating opportunities for women to become fully involved in governance and leadership. This historic Security Council resolution 1325 of 31 October 2000 provides a mandate to incorporate gender perspectives in all areas of peace support. Its adoption is part of a process within the UN system through its World Conferences on Women in Mexico City (1975), in Copenhagen (1980), in Nairobi (1985), in Beijing (1995), and at a special session of the U.N. General Assembly to study progress five years after Beijing (2000).
unw01_400Since 2000, there have been no radical changes as a result of Resolution 1325, but the goal has been articulated and accepted. Now women must learn to take hold of and generate political power if they are to gain an equal role in peace-making. They must be willing to try new avenues and new approaches as symbolized by the actions of Lysistrata.
Lysistrata, immortalized by Aristophanes, mobilized women on both sides of the Athenian-Spartan War for a sexual strike in order to force men to end hostilities and avert mutual annihilation. In this, Lysistrata and her co-strikers were forerunners of the American humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow who proposed a hierarchy of needs: water, food, shelter, and sexual relations being the foundation. (See Abraham Maslow The Farther Reaches of Human Nature) Maslow is important for conflict resolution work because he stresses dealing directly with identifiable needs in ways that are clearly understood by all parties and with which they are willing to deal at the same time.
Addressing each persons underlying needs means you move toward solutions that acknowledge and value those needs rather than denying them. To probe below the surface requires redirecting the energy towards asking what are your real needs here? What interests need to be serviced in this situation? The answers to such questions significantly alter the agenda and provide a real point of entry into the negotiation process.
It is always difficult to find a point of entry into a conflict, that is, a subject on which people are willing to discuss because they sense the importance of the subject and all sides feel that the time is ripe to deal with the issue. The art of conflict resolution is highly dependent on the ability to get to the right depth of understanding and intervention into the conflict. All conflicts have many layers. If one starts off too deeply, one can get bogged down in philosophical discussions about the meaning of life. However, one can also get thrown off track by focusing on too superficial an issue on which there is relatively quick agreement. When such relatively quick agreement is followed by blockage on more essential questions, there can be a feeling of betrayal.
Since Lysistrata, women, individually and in groups, have played a critical role in the struggle for justice and peace in all societies. However, when real negotiations begin, women are often relegated to the sidelines. However a gender perspective on peace, disarmament, and conflict resolution entails a conscious and open process of examining how women and men participate in and are affected by conflict differently. It requires ensuring that the perspectives, experiences and needs of both women and men are addressed and met in peace-building activities. Today, conflicts reach everywhere. How do these conflicts affect people in the society women and men, girls and boys, the elderly and the young, the rich and poor, the urban and the rural?
There has been a growing awareness that women and children are not just victims of violent conflict and wars -'collateral damage' - but they are chosen targets. Conflicts such as those in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia have served to bring the issue of rape and other sexual atrocities as deliberate tools of war to the forefront of international attention. Such violations must be properly documented, the perpetrators brought to justice, and victims provided with criminal and civil redress.
I would stress three elements which seem to me to be the gender contribution to conflict transformation efforts:
1. The first is in the domain of analysis, the contribution of the knowledge of gender relations as indicators of power. Uncovering gender differences in a given society will lead to an understanding of power relations in general in that society, and to the illumination of contradictions and injustices inherent in those relations.
2. The second contribution is to make us more fully aware of the role of women in specific conflict situations. Women should not only be seen as victims of war: they are often significantly involved in taking initiatives to promote peace. Some writers have stressed that there is an essential link between women, motherhood and non-violence, arguing that those engaged in mothering work have distinct motives for rejecting war which run in tandem with their ability to resolve conflicts non-violently. Others reject this position of a gender bias toward peace and stress rather that the same continuum of non-violence to violence is found among women as among men. In practice, it is never all women nor all men who are involved in peace-making efforts. Sometimes, it is only a few, especially at the start of peace-making efforts. The basic question is how best to use the talents, energies, and networks of both women and men for efforts at conflict resolution.
3. The third contribution of a gender approach with its emphasis on the social construction of roles is to draw our attention to a detailed analysis of the socialization process in a given society. Transforming gender relations requires an understanding of the socialization process of boys and girls, of the constraints and motivations which create gender relations. Thus, there is a need to look at patterns of socialization, potential incitements to violence in childhood training patterns, and socially-approved ways of dealing with violence.
There is growing recognition that it is important to have women in politics, in decision-making processes and in leadership positions. The strategies women have adapted to get to the negotiating table are testimony to their ingenuity, patience and determination. Solidarity and organization are crucial elements. The path may yet be long but the direction is set.
World Food Day : A Renewal of Collective Action
determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action for the purpose of raising levels of nutrition and standards of living Preamble of the Food and Agriculture Organization Constitution
16 October is the UN-designated World Food Day, the date chosen being the anniversary of the creation of the FAO in 1945 with the aim, as stated in its Constitution of contributing towards an expanding world economy and ensuring humanitys freedom from hunger. Freedom from hunger is not simply a technical matter to be solved with better seeds, fertilisers, cultivation practices and marketing. To achieve freedom from hunger for mankind, there is a need to eliminate poverty. The elimination of poverty must draw upon the ideas, skills and energies of whole societies and requires the cooperation of all countries.
World Citizens have played an important role in efforts to improve agricultural production worldwide and especially to better the conditions of life of rural workers. Lord Boyd-Orr was the first director of the FAO; Josue de Castro was the independent President of the FAO Council in the 1950s when the FAO had an independent Council President. (The independent presidents have now been replaced by a national diplomat, rotating each year. Governments are never happy with independent experts who are often too independent.) The World Citizen, Rene Dumont, an agricultural specialist, is largely the father of political ecology in France, having been the first Green Party candidate for the French Presidency in 1974.
As Lester Brown, the American agricultural specialist says We are cutting trees faster than they can be regenerated, overgrazing rangelands and converting them into deserts, overpumping aquifers, and draining rivers dry. On our croplands, soil erosion exceeds new soil formation, slowly depriving the soil of its inherent fertility. We are taking fish from the ocean faster than they can reproduce.
To counter these trends, we need awareness and vision, an ethical standard which has the preservation of nature at its heart, and the political leadership to bring about the socio-economic changes needed. For the moment, awareness and vision are unequally spread. In some countries, ecological awareness has led to beneficial changes and innovative technologies. In others, the governmental and social structures are disintegrating due to disease, population pressure upon limited resources, and a lack of social leadership. Worldwide, military spending, led by the USA, dwarfs spending on ecologically-sound development and the necessary expansion of education and health services.
As Lester Brown has written The sector of the economy that seems likely to unravel first is food. Eroding soils, deteriorating rangelands, collapsing fisheries, falling water tables, and rising temperatures are converging to make it more difficult to expand food production fast enough to keep up with demand food is fast becoming a national security issue as growth in the world harvest slows and falling water tables and rising temperatures hint at future shortages.
Yet there are agricultural techniques which can raise protein efficiency, raise land productivity, improve livestock use and produce second harvests on the same land. However, unless we quickly reverse the damaging trends that we have set in motion, we will see vast numbers of environmental refugees people abandoning depleted aquifers and exhausted soils and those fleeing advancing deserts and rising seas.
David Seckler of the International Water Management Institute writes Many of the most populous countries of the world China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and nearly all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa have literally been having a free ride over the past two or three decades by depleting their groundwater resources. The penalty of mismanagement of this valuable resource is now coming due, and it is no exaggeration to say that the results could be catastrophic for these countries, and given their importance, for the world as a whole. Unfortunately, the International Water Management Institute does not manage the worlds use of water but can only study water use. While there are some planners who would like to be able to tax or make people pay for water, most water use is uncontrolled. Payment for water is a way that governments or private companies have to get more revenue, but the welfare of farmers is usually not a very high priority for them.
Yet as Citizens of the World have stressed, ecologically-sound development cannot be the result only of a plan, but rather of millions of individual actions to protect soil, conserve water, plant trees, use locally grown crops, reduce meat from our diets, protect biological diversity in forest areas, cut down the use of cars by increasing public transportation and living closer to ones work. We need to stabilize and then reduce world population and to encourage better distribution of the worlds population through planned migration and the creation of secondary cities to reduce the current growth of magacities. We need to encourage wise use of rural areas by diversifying employment in rural areas. We also need to develop ecological awareness through education so that these millions of wise individual decisions can be taken.
Lester Brown underlines the necessary link between knowledge and action. Environmentally responsible behaviour also depends to a great extent on a capacity to understand basic scientific issues, such as the greenhouse effect or the ecological role of forests. Lacking this, it is harder to grasp the link between fossil fuel burning and climate change or between tree cutting and the incidence of flooding or the loss of biological diversity The deteriorating relationship between the global economy and the earths ecosystem requires an all-out effort to bring literacy to all adults in order to break the poverty cycle and stabilize population.
Education and vision require leadership, and it is ecologically-sound political leadership that is badly lacking today. Thus Citizens of the World and all of good will are called upon to provide wise leadership to work for a redirection of financial resources to protect the planet, and to encourage ecologically-sound individual and collective action.
The Death Penalty and Human Dignity
10 October is the International Day Against the Death Penalty. Since the end of World War II, there has been a gradual abolition of the death penalty due to the rather obvious recognition that putting a person to death is not justice. Moreover, on practical grounds, the death penalty has little impact on the rate of crime in a country. A number of States have a death penalty for those involved in the drug trade. To the extent that the drug trade can be estimated statistically , the death penalty has no measurable impact on the trade - a trade usually linked to economic or geopolitical factors.
deat01_40010 October can also be a day to oppose all organized killings by State agents. In addition to State-sponsored official executions, usually carried out publicly or at least with official observers, a good number of countries have State-sponsored death squads - persons affiliated to the police or to intelligence agencies who kill in the dark of the night - unofficially. These deaths avoid a trial which might attract attention or even a not guilty decision. A shot in the back of the head is faster. The number of targeted killings has grown. In many cases, the bodies of those killed are destroyed and so death is supposed but not proved, as has been the case of students protesting in Mexico. US assassinations with drones has also been highlighted both in the United Nations human rights bodies and domestically. However, the drone strikes continue, and there is very little legislative opposition.
A good deal of recent concern has been expressed on the death sentence in Saudi Arabia pronounced against Ali al-Nimr found guilty of going out to a number of marches, demonstrations, and gatherings against the state and repeating some chants against the state when he was 15 years old. He is to die by crucifixion. There is perhaps some chance of a change of penalty due to more historically-minded Saudis. The most widely known person crucified is Jesus. As the Roman count records have been lost, we have only the account written by his friends who stressed that he was innocent of the crimes for which he was condemned. His crucifixion has taken on cosmic dimensions. Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? The Saudis try to avoid some of the Jesus parallel by beheading the person before putting the rest of the body on the cross, but the image of the crucified as innocent is wide spread.
10 October is an occasion for us to stress the importance of human dignity. Our efforts against executions need to be addressed both to governments and to those state-like non-governmental armed groups such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The abolition of executions and the corresponding valuation of human life are necessary steps in developing a just world society.
Nobel Peace Prize highlights conflict-resolution role of NGOs
The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisian NGOs who in 2013, when the country was on the brink of civil war, provided for negotiations among socio-political factions leading to more inclusive and democratic structures for the country. The National Dialogue Quartet were the representatives of the General Union of Tunisian Workers, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers - all non-governmental Organizations (NGOs).
The transition from the 23-year rule of former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali began on 17 December 2010 with the suicide-protest of the young Mohamed Bouazizi, a college-educated street vender, and the police repression at his funeral.
Tunisia under Ben Ali was a police-state in the literal sense of the word. There was a constant presence of the police with arrests, lengthy interrogations, torture and for those with luck, exile. The press and other media were closely watched and in some cases owned by the Ben Ali-Trabelsi family.The Trabelsi are the family of Ben Alis powerful wife, Leila, and held important business positions.
Tunisia had had only two presidents since the end of the French Protectorate in 1956. The first was Habib Bourguiba and his Destourian Socialist Party. At independence, the literacy rate was about 15 percent, but many of those considered literate had received only limited education at traditional Koranic schools and could not read secular works. In 1958, Bourgiba initiated educational reforms and a vast program of building schools and universities leading Tunisia to having today a well-educated Middle Class. Bourguiba also stressed education and employment for women saying Female workers must be trained and given jobs. Work contributes to female emancipation. By her labor, a woman or young girl assumes her existence and becomes conscious of her dignity.
Jobs in government and the private sector opened to the newly educated by the departure of the majority of the French, Jewish and Italian populations between 1956 and 1966. There was also a significant possibility of migration to Europe, especially to France, until the mid-1970s after which it became more difficult to get work permits.
In November 1987, Bourguiba named Ben Ali Prime Minister. Ben Ali, a General, came from the military and had no well-developed ideology or policy. Thus he continued the economic and social policies of Bourguiba. Shortly after having been named, in what has been called a medical coup, Ben Ali said that Bourguibas mental and physical health had made him incapable of governing. Ben Ali auto-proclaimed himself president promising to revitalize the country which had fallen into stagnation as Bourguiba had become increasingly senile but refused to delegate authority.
Ben Ali continued Bourguibas major policies. An emphasis was placed on developing tourism, but this opened relatively few jobs for the educated and led to speculation on land. The agricultural sector, especially in the central and south of the country, had more people employed than needed for the level of production. From an economic point of view, there was a migration to the cities and larger towns of the coastal area in a frustrating search for suitable occupations. The unemployment rate was high, and among the educated youth, unemployment, lack of social mobility and the flashy life-style of those with links to political power led to demands for change. The demands centered on the creation of jobs and an end to wide-spread and highly-visible corruption. The popular demands centered on the creation of jobs and an end to wide-spread and highly-visible corruption.
Under Ben Ali, there were no real political party structures. Even the party of the President had only a name but no real structure. Into the political void after the 14 January 2011 departure of Ben Ali for Saudi Arabia came socio-political factions, some of whose leaders had been long in exile abroad. Some were Islamic; other more secular; others had served Ben Ali but had needed administrative and business experience, and still others wanted change but had a minimum of ideological coloring. There was no opposition leader who stood out as a natural next President.
In 2013, there were several high profile assassinations of political leaders followed by demonstrations and violence. The danger of socio-economic disintegration was real. It was then that long-structured NGOs became active in conflict resolution efforts. The trade union movement had existed even prior to independence in 1956 with leaders trained by the French trade union movement. The Tunisian trade union leaders were used to some degree of collective bargaining and structured negotiations. The Tunisian trade union leaders turned to their natural opponents but dialogue partners of the Confederation of Industry. In turn, the economic actors associated the legal profession to the effort - the Order of Lawyers and the Human Rights League.
Representatives of the four groups started taking contacts concerning a new constitutional structure, election rules, the type of new laws needed. They worked to see on what topics negotiations and compromise were possible. Above all, they stressed that violence was counter-productive, would destroy the confidence needed for external investments, and would harm tourism - an important element of the Tunisian economy.
As a result of these efforts, there is a new constitution, laws which respect human rights, and a degree of power sharing of administrative posts among political factions. There is still a good deal of socio-political instability and little economic change. However, organized violence is rare, and there is a willingness for dialogue and compromise among groups - unlike the conditions in Libya and Egypt which had changes in government during the same period.
Thus the committee in Norway which selects the Nobel Peace Prize laureates has highlighted the patient, on-going conflict-resolution work of NGO representatives. The Prize this year does not honor a well-known political figure as has often been the case in the past nor an intergovernmental organization such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees. As has been said, the Prize is also a recognition of the Tunisian people as a whole who were willing to step back from violence, to negotiate and to compromise - a reflection of the cry of the anti-Ben Ali revolution -Liberty-Work-Dignity.
26 September: UN-Led International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
The struggle against the nuclear weapon cult and threats it poses to the international peace, security and development, like all struggles against belief systems which have outlived their times, is going to be long and arduous.
K. Subrahmanyam, Nuclear Proliferation and International Security.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, being celebrated this year for the second time to enhance public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination in order to mobilize international efforts toward achieving the common goal of a nuclear-weapon free world.
Achieving global nuclear disarmament - or at least forms of nuclear arms control - is one of the oldest goals of the UN. Nuclear weapon control was the subject of the first resolution of the UN General Assembly and it is the heart of Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. A Review Conference on the Treaty is held at the United Nations once every five years since 1975, and the representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have constantly reminded governments of their lack of good faith. I chaired the NGO representatives at the 1975 and 1980 Review Conferences, and while our views were listened to with some interest, the Review Conferences have been a reflection of the status of world politics at the time not a momentum for change, as the 2015 Review showed.
There are still some 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world, largely in the hands of the USA and the Russian Federation, some on ready alert. There are plans to modernize nuclear weapons, and there are at least seven other States with nuclear weapons: North Korea, Pakistan, India and China in Asia, Israel in the Middle East and France and the UK in Europe. The instability and tensions of current world politics merit that we look at the ways in which governments and NGOs have tried to deal with the existence of nuclear weapons, their control and their possible abolition.
There have been four avenues proposed in the decades since 1945: presented, dropped, re-presented, combined with other proposals for political settlements, linked to proposals for general disarmament or focused on nuclear issues alone.
1) The first avenue proposed was the Baruch Plan, named after Bernard Baruch, a financier, often advisors to US Presidents going back to Woodrow Wilson and the First World War. He had been named a US delegate to the UN in charge of atomic issues. At the time, the USA had a monopoly of the scientific knowledge and technology needed to produce the A-Bomb, but the scientists who were advisors to Baruch knew that it was only a matter of time before other States, in particular the USSR, would also have the knowledge and technology. Therefore it seemed that the best hope of avoiding an arms race with nuclear weapons was to bring all the atomic energy industry under international UN control. The Baruch Plan proposed the creation of all International Atomic Development Agency which would have a monopoly of all activities connected with atomic research and development such as mining, ownership and management of refineries, and the construction of atomic reactors. The Agency staff would be internationally recruited and would be free from interference from national governments.
However, the Baruch Plan was proposed as the Cold War (1945-1990) was starting to heat up and become more structured. In 1949, the US nuclear monopoly was broken by the explosion of the first Soviet bomb, and then in 1950, war started in Korea. The Korean War led to the next stage, the second and third avenues in nuclear arms policy, someone contradictory but proposed at the same time, and in the light of the Korean War experience.
2) Avenue two proposed that limited war could be carried out but with nuclear weapons that were smaller than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and that would not necessary lead to an all-out war between the USA and the USSR. This avenue is most closely associated with Henry Kissinger and his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy.(1) The 1950-1953 Korean War showed that war was a real possibility, due perhaps to political miscalculations, erroneous intelligence, and failure to see how a local situation could have a much broader impact. The Korean War stopped without a victor, leaving a divided Korea, a situation which has gone on until today. The Korean experience augmented by the French-Vietnamese War which ended in 1954 led strategic thinkers to reflect on the nature of limited war. At the same time that Henry Kissinger was writing his book, reflecting largely in similar ways, Robert Osgood of the University of Chicago was teaching a seminar on limited war in which I was one of his students. The seminar led to the widely-read book: Limited War: The Challenge to American Strategy.(2)
3) It was in Europe where the opposing NATO-Warsaw Pact forces faced each other most closely, that the third avenue was proposed: nuclear-weapon free zones. In October 1957, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adam Rapacki, put forward a plan for creating a nuclear-weapon free and neutral zone in central Europe, usually known as the Rapacki Plan. The first stage would be the freezing of nuclear armaments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the two German States. The second stage would consist of a reduction of conventional armaments and complete de-nuclearization of the four States.
Although there had been intense discussions within the Warsaw Pact States before the Rapacki proposal was made public, mutual mistrust and suspicion among NATO and Warsaw Pact countries was such that no negotiations were undertaken. The situation was made all the more complicated by the Western refusal to recognize the German Democratic Republic. However, Rapacki had given birth to the innovative idea of negotiated nuclear-weapon free zones coupled with confidence-building measures.
Nuclear-weapon free zones took shape after the 1962 Cuban missiles crisis. Even today, it is difficult to know how close to a war the 1962 nuclear missiles in Cuba brought the USA and the USSR. It was close enough that it worried leaders in Latin America. Led by the Ambassador of Mexico to the UN and later Nobel Laureate, Alfonso Garcia Robles, negotiations for a Latin American nuclear-weapon free zone were started, and in 1967, 21 Latin American States signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco. In Latin America, two of the largest countries, Argentina and Brazil have nuclear power industries and a potential capacity to develop nuclear weapons. Thus the Treaty provides a confidence-building framework between these two regional powers, although the two States have none of the tensions between them that colored Warsaw Pact-NATO relations.
The Latin American nuclear-weapon free zone has led to other treaties creating nuclear-weapon free zones in the South Pacific, Africa and Central Asia.
4) The fourth avenue and the one most discussed at the UN these days is a convention to ban the possession and use of nuclear weapons on the lines of the conventions to ban chemical weapons, anti-personnel land mines and cluster munitions. These bans are based on the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, the inability to distinguish between civilians and military and other violations of the principles of humanitarian law.
A Nuclear Weapons Convention has captured the imagination of many in the disarmament community, initially among NGOs but increasingly within the governments of non-nuclear weapon States and the diplomatic community. The Nuclear Weapons Convention is strongly modeled on the Chemical Weapons Convention. Having followed from the sidelines the decade-long negotiations in Geneva which led to the Chemical Weapons Convention, I see two major differences. First, there had not been the wide discussions of the strategic use of chemical weapons as there had been on the strategic use of nuclear weapons in limited war situations. The second difference which had its impact is that the major chemical companies in Western Europe and the USA did not want to get involved in making chemical weapons. The costs for securing the manufacture of such weapons was greater than what they could charge governments for chemical weapons. Western governments were also reluctant to construct government-owned factories for making chemical weapons, all the more so that there existed a 1925 Geneva Protocol against their use. However, there is still money to be made in the nuclear weapons field.
My own view is that effective nuclear-weapon control will come from a combined regional conflict resolution and nuclear-weapon free zone approach that was first set out in the Rapacki proposals. I believe that the Korean Peninsula holds the most potential for a settlement within a nuclear-weapon free zone. There are proposals for re-starting six-power talks, and there are some Track II-NGO efforts along this line. A Middle East nuclear-weapon free zone coupled with conflict resolution and security provisions would be the most necessary given the current tensions and armed conflicts. The recent agreement with Iran may be a step in this direction. India-Pakistan tensions have gone on so long that both States may know how not to push too hard, but there are always dangers of events slipping out of control.
26 September serves as a reminder of the avenues proposed for nuclear disarmament, but disarmament diplomacy has stalled too often and inconsistent policies by governments have made the goal of complete elimination seem unreachable in the short term. Nevertheless we, as non-governmental peacebuilders, must continue to work creatively to generate the groundswell of opinion that will create a momentum of political will to move to a world without war and without nuclear weapons.
(1) Kissinger. H. (1957) Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. New York: Harper.
(2) Osgood. R. (1957) Limited War: The Challenge to American Strategy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Refugee Mass Exodus: Need for a UN-led World Conference
The current flow of migrants and refugees to Europe has become front-page news. Many come from areas caught up in armed conflict: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia. The leaders of the European Union have been divided and unsure in their responses. Local solidarity networks that offer food, shelter, and medical care are overwhelmed. Political debates over how to deal with the refugees have become heated, usually with more heat than light. The immediacy of the refugee exodus requires our attention, our compassion, and our sense of organization.
It is estimated that nearly half of the refugees come from Syria. If one adds those coming from Iraq, the percentage would be well over half. Accurate figures are difficult to establish, and it seems that criminal gangs are now selling false Syrian passports with refugees thinking that Syrians will be accepted before others. Most Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan starting in 2012 believed that the war in Syria would soon be over and that they could return home. Today, the length of the war, the destruction of much of Syria's economy, and the difficulties of a negotiated settlement have led many to estimate that their exile will be long and, for some, permanent.
EU officials have been meeting to discuss how to deal with the refugees, but a common policy has so far been impossible to establish. In Europe, debate on the refugee flow has also been colored by the discussion on climate change migrationwhat some call "ecological refugees." This is an aspect of the climate conference COP 21, to be held in Paris in December 2015 and around which there is a good deal of preparatory activity on the part of both governments and non-governmental organizations.
Given the scale of the refugee flow and the resulting logistic aspects, most of the discussions among government officials have had a short-term focus. The European Union members of the UN Human Rights Council requested an "Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the human rights of migrants" which was held a month ago. However, the dialogue had not been "enhanced" by research or a longer-range perspective. Moreover, the scale of the crisis in Europe largely overshadowed other refugee flows such as those from Myanmar (Burma), which are also critical and may have long-range consequences
Thus, the Association of World Citizens, which is in consultative status with the UN (and which the author represents at the UN), is calling for a UN-led world conference on migration and refugee issues, following earlier UN world conferences on the environment, food, housing, women, population, youth, human rights, and other world issues. The pattern of such UN-led world conferences usually follows a common pattern: encouragement of research and data collection by UN agencies, national governments, NGOs, and academic institutions; regional meetings to study the regional dimensions of the issue; a world conference of government representatives with the participation of NGO delegates in consultative status; and a parallel NGO conference with a wider range of NGOs present, especially those active at the local or national level.
The most successful UN-led world conferences have been the two that built on widespread popular activities on the issue: the 1972 Stockholm conference on the environment, which benefited from the growing ecological concerns, and the 1975 Mexico City conference on women, which came at a time of a good deal of "women's lib" activity.
There is not the same NGO network on migration issues as there was on the environment and on women, but there is strong media attention and a realization that migration issues are here to stay.
So far, discussions on migration and refugees within the UN system have not attracted the "high profile" needed to provoke real government action. The UN sponsored World Refugee Year, June 1959-June 1960, but the Year was mostly devoted to clearing up the refugees left over from World War II who had not been adequately resettled. During the Year, some governments printed postal stamps to build awareness and to raise some money for refugee resettlement. But World Refugee Year left little lasting impact.
Within the human rights bodies of the UN, an International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families was drawn up, but ratifications have been slow, with a good number of governments making reservations that generally weaken the impact of the Convention. In 2004, a commission of independent experts was set up to study the reports of governments on the application of the Conventiona commission that is known as the Human Rights Treaty Body System. Reports from each government are to be filed once every four years. However, the discussions within the Treaty Body and its subsequent report attract the attention of only a small number of people. Moreover, the discussion deals with the report of only one government at a time while migration is always a multi-state regional issue and can have worldwide implications.
Thus, only a UN-led world conference with adequate research and prior broad discussion can meet the challenges of worldwide migration and continuing refugee flows. This year's UN General Assembly and its special summit to set the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals and marking the 70th anniversary of the UN Charter would be a most appropriate time to pass a resolution to organize such a UN-led world conference.
The Continuing Humanitarian Crisis and Violations of Human Rights in ISIS-held Areas in Iraq and Syria
In a 25 August 2014 Statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the appalling, widespread, and systematic violations of human rights by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The violations mentioned included targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking of women, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of religious and cultural sites of significance and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious and sectarian affiliation. Among those directly targeted have been the religious communities of Christians, Yezidi (also written Yazidi) and Sabeans (also called Sabean-Mandaeans) In addition to the violation of human rights, the High Commissioner cited other UN reports stressing the humanitarian crisis and the severe shortages of food, water and the lack of medical services.
One year later, the situation remains much the same, but with an increased number of people uprooted as internally displaced persons and refugees. The political situation has grown more complex, with Turkey playing an increasing if unclear role. Efforts at mediation by the United Nations of the Syrian aspects of the conflict have not given visible results. Russian diplomats have been meeting with some Syrian factions as well as with the Syrian government, but there seem to be no advances toward broader negotiations. The political and military actions of ISIS have effectively linked Iraq and Syria so that each conflict is linked to the other. A global approach for conflict resolution is needed.
The conflict has increased religious sectarian attitudes. It is hard for an outsider to know to what extent religious differences are deeply felt or if religion is used as a "cover" for ethnic, tribal, and economic interests. It is certain that ISIS has tried to give a religious coloring to its policies, with forced conversions and destruction of non-Islamic communities which refused conversion. Therefore, there needs to be an emphasis on freedom of religion or belief as set out by the United Nations. One of the major UN declarations confirming a deep sense of inherent dignity is the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, adopted by the General Assembly on 25 November 1981 after a number of years of study and discussion in which the Association of World Citizens took an active part. The Declaration states that it is essential to promote understanding, tolerance and respect in matters relating to freedom of religion and belief and to ensure that the use of religion or belief for ends inconsistent with the Charter, other relevant instruments of the United Nations and the purposes and principles of the present Declaration is inadmissible.
Article One states clearly that No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.
World law as developed by the United Nations applies not only to the governments of Member States but also to individuals and non-governmental organizations. The ISIS has not been recognized as a State and is not a member of the United Nations. Nevertheless, the Association of World Citizens is convinced that the terms of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief applies to the ISIS and that the actions of the ISIS are, in the terms of the Declaration inadmissible.
Life in the emerging world society requires world law and certain common values among all the States and peoples of the world. The challenges which face us all require inclusive ethical values based on a sense of responsibility for both present and future generations. Such values are, I am sure, in the heart of many individuals who are now living in areas under the control of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We must find ways to reach such people with the message that the policies of the ISIS leaders are deliberate violations of world law and ethical standards. The majority of the world society is not hostile to the people living under ISIS rule and we look forward to the time when human rights standards will be the law of the land. In the meantime, they need to work as best they can for a tolerant and open society.
Citizens of the World: Crisis and Response
Whenever the structure among States was too small to deal with the socio-economic and political challenges being faced, persons have worked for larger groupings: the United States rather than the Articles of Confederation, the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations. Today, the challenges concern the whole planet; an increasing number of people are speaking of the need for cosmopolitan thinking, calling themselves world citizens or global citizens.
In Platos Gorgias, Socrates says We are told on good authority that heaven and earth and their respective inhabitants are held together by the bonds of society and love and order and discipline and righteousness and that is why the universe is called an ordered whole or cosmos and not a state of disorder and license.
There was a powerful current of cosmopolitan thought among the Greek Stoics who stressed the unity of humankind and challenged the powerful prejudices of Greek superiority. Likewise, the Roman Stoics at the time when the Roman Republic was failing to meet the socio-economic challenges stressed a cosmopolitan viewpoint and also again when the Roman Empire was under stress. Cicero belongs to the mid-period of the Roman Stoics and Seneca and Marcus Aurelius to the late. As Seneca wrote The very reason for our magnanimity in not shutting ourselves up within the walls of one city, in going forth into intercourse with the whole earth, and in claiming the world as our country, was that we might have a wider field for our virtue. Is the tribunal closed to you, and are you barred from the rostrum? Look how many broad stretching countries lie open behind you, how many people?
We see the revival of cosmopolitan thought in seventeenth and eighteenth-century plans for European Union as the multitude of European States led to wars and a lack of progress. The Polish Comenius (Johannes Komensky), the French Denis Diderot, the Scot David Hume, all used the term citizen of the world to describe themselves, and Oliver Goldsmith wrote his then well-known Letters from a Citizen of the World to his Friends in the East.
The Welsh philosopher Richard Price advocated the virtues of engagement in foreign trade as leading every man to consider himself more a citizen of the world than of any particular state. As Olivier dArgenlieu points out in his book The Amazing Powers of World Citizens (1), today many people are involved in foreign trade. Finance, transportation, media, scientific research have all become trans-national and world wide. People travel for work, study, and pleasure. Some are forced to cross frontiers because of war or ecological mismanagement.
All who travel, trade and cross frontiers do not become world citizens but all realize that national frontiers have less and less meaning in reality. It would obviously be easier to cope with salient international problems of all kinds if the earth and its human inhabitants composed a single community in a political as well as an ecological sense.
For some the United Nations system of the UN, the Specialized Agencies, and the World Bank-IMF are adequate if they were used by farsighted persons and adequate leaders. The fundamental problem is not that the United Nations system is inherently unworkable, but that we are failing to use and develop the system with the foresight and courage necessary to come to grips with the major problems of the time. Further institutional development is eminently desirable but can never be a substitute for enlightened policies vigorously pursued.
For others, such as Olivier dArgenlieu, the UN is fatally flawed due to a lack of democratic legitimacy. Authority needs to be based on the will of the people. The UN General Assembly is not the needed World Parliament. As he writes, there is a need for
a representative body, a Global Assembly acting for all members of the community, who would pass laws and confer authority to the executive power. Experience has taught us that, to be respected and accepted by all, laws must be passed by a representative group of its members. This is the very principle of democracy. Furthermore, to be efficient, the body governing a community and taking public action in its name must do so with a mandate from the people it rules. This again is a democratic principle. Consequently, the next step to be taken in order to provide the world community with the necessary institutions would be to set up a representative body composed of representatives elected by all members of the global community, that is, by all the citizens of the world.
Today, we need an interlinked agenda for the twenty-first century, incorporating thinking about global institutions, their democratic oversight, the nature of world citizenship, ecological planetary consciousness, the practice and sense of world community and the moral principles upon which all this should be founded. As the Commission of Global Governance wrote in its report (2) Global governance, once viewed primarily as concerned with intergovernmental relationships, now involves not only governments and intergovernmental institutions, but also non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citizens movements, transnational corporations, academia, and the mass media. The emergence of a global sense of human solidarity reflects a large increase in the capacity and will of people to take control of their own lives.
10 August 2015
Yemen and World Law: Building from Current Experience
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Shall we not learn from life its laws, dynamics, balances? Learn to base our needs not on death, destruction, waste, but renewal? Nancy Newhall
The indiscriminate bombing of cities in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition highlights the need for renewal of the way that humanitarian law is observed in times of armed conflict especially in three areas:
Protection for women is enshrined in international humanitarian law which as world law should be binding on both States and armed opposition groups. This body of world law includes the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 written in light of the consequences of the Second World War and their two Additional Protocols of 1977 written due to the experiences of the war in Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia.(1)
In addition, the human rights standards as developed within the United Nations prohibit torture, unlawful killings, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and slavery. Women should also be kept safe from the use of prohibited weapons such as chemical and cluster weapons.
In international humanitarian law, women are afforded both general protection - on the same basis as men - and special protection reflecting their special needs as women. They are specially protected against attack, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution or indecent assault. The ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda were steps in the development of world law with the prosecution of rape as a war crime. Furthermore, under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and other forms of sexual violence constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and are war crimes. (Article 8 of the ICC Statute)
The fact that women have to bear so much of the burden of armed hostilities is primarily not because there are shortcomings in the rules and norms but because the norms are not sufficiently observed. Basically, compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law is based on self-restraint on the part of soldiers and other armed forces. While perpetrators of war crimes should be brought to justice, either at the national level or by international courts, this is rarely the case. Thus, it is the moral sense of the soldier, his sense of honor as to the code of the military profession which is the most immediate safeguard of civilian populations. There have been cases of airmen who refused to drop bombs on cities and villages where there are obviously civilians, but such cases are relatively rare.(2) I have not heard of cases in the Yemen conflict, but they are probably not highlighted by the military media people when they do happen.
Another consequence of the bombing in Yemen is the starvation of the civilian population due to lack of food and water. Due to the widespread use of defoliants in the Vietnam war, there was written as Article 54(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, a prohibition to destroy foodstuffs, crops, drinking water installations and irrigation works. Yemen is, at the best of times, short of food and drinking water installations. The bombing has deliberately increased the hardship as well as increasing the number of displaced people with resulting lack of access to food and water.
The need to protect works of art and cultural heritage has been a theme of efforts by UNESCO. Sections of Sana had been placed on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage of humanity due to the elaborate woodwork of doors and balconies, the result of skills that have largely withered away in modern times. These works of folk art have been destroyed, not as a policy such as that of the ISIS in Syria and Iraq but as a result of bombing. Nevertheless, the result is the same: items of value have been destroyed and are unlikely to be replaced when houses are rebuilt.
The aggression against Yemen has created a moral vacuum, an area devoid of the most basic human values both within Yemen and in the countries attacking it.
(1)See D. Schiller and J. Toman. The Law of Armed Conflicts (Martinus Nihjoff Publishers, 1988)
(2)For cases of Israeli airmen who have refused orders to bomb in the Gaza Strip and south Lebanon see Chem Ben-Noon Civil Disobedience: The Israeli Experiences (Paragon House, 2015)
More By René Wadlow:
OSCE: Strains and Renewal in the Security Community
On 1 August 2015, the Helsinki Final Act, the birth certificate of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) turned 40. The Final Act signed in Helsinki's Finlandia Hall was the result of three years of nearly continuous negotiations among government representatives meeting for the most part in Geneva, Switzerland as well as years of promotion of better East-West relations by non-governmental peace builders.
Basically one can date the planting of the seeds that grew into the OSCE as 1968 in two cities: in Paris and Prague. The student-led demonstrations in Paris which sent shock waves to other university centers from California to Berlin, showed that under a cover of calm, there was a river of demands and desires for a new life, a more cooperative and creative way of life.
In Prague, the Prague Spring of internal reforms and demands for a freer European society was met by the tanks of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in August. Yet some far-sighted individuals saw that 1968 was a turning point in European history and that there could be no return to the 1945 divisions of two Europes with the Berlin Wall as the symbol of that division. Thus, in small circles, there were those who started asking Where do we go from here?
A Security Community: A Halfway House
In 1957, Karl W. Deutsch (1912-1992) published an important study Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton University Press). Karl Deutsch was born into a German-speaking family in Prague in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His family was active in socialist party politics and became strongly anti-Nazi. Seeing what might happen, Deutsch and his wife left Prague in 1939 for the USA where he became a leading political science-international relations professor. I knew Karl Deutsch in the mid-1950s when I was a university student at Princeton, and he was associated with a Center on International Organization at Princeton. It was there that he was developing his ideas on types of integration among peoples and States and that he coined the term security community to mean a group of people believing that they had come to agreement on at least one point that common social problems must and can be resolved by processes of peaceful change. For Deutsch, the concept of a security community could be applied to people coming together to form a State: his approach was much used in the 1960s in the study of nation building especially of post-colonial African States. A security community could also be a stage in relations among States as the term has become common in OSCE thinking. For Deutsch, a security community was a necessary halfway house before the creation of a State or a multi-State federation. Deutsch stressed the need for certain core values which created a sense of mutual identity and loyalty leading to self-restraint and good-faith negotiations to settle disputes.
Core values established and quickly disappeared
During the negotiations leading to the Helsinki Final Act, a set of 10 core values or commitments were set out, sometimes called the OSCE Decalogue after the Ten Commandments. Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty and non-intervention in internal affairs set the framework as well as the limitations of any efforts toward a supranational institution. The two other related core values were the territorial integrity of States and the inviolability of frontiers.
The core values were not so much values as a reflection of the status quo of the Cold War years. By the time that the Charter of Paris for a New Europe was signed in November 1990, marking the formal end of the Cold War, territorial integrity and the inviolability of frontiers as values had disappeared.
1990s saw the breakup of two major European federations - that of Yugoslavia and the USSR. Most of the work of the OSCE has been devoted to the consequences of these two breakups. Yugoslavia broke into nearly all the pieces that it could with a few exceptions. I had been asked to help support the independence of Sandzak, a largely Muslim area in Serbia and part of Montenegro. I declined, having thought at the time that with a few modifications the Yugoslav federation could be kept together. I was wrong, and the OSCE is still confronted by tensions in Kosovo, renewed tensions in Macedonia, an unlikely form of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as social issues of trafficking in persons, arms, drugs and uncontrolled migration.
The breakup of the Soviet Union has led to a full agenda of OSCE activities. The republics of the Soviet Union had been designed by Joseph Stalin, then Commissar for Nationalities so that each republic could not become an independent State but would have to look to the central government for security and socio-economic development. Each Soviet republic had minority populations though each was given the name of the majority or dominant ethnic group called a nationality.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union, there have been recurrent issues involving the degree of autonomy of geographic space and the role of minorities. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh had already started before the breakup, but continues to this day with its load of refugees, displaced persons and the calmer but unlikely twin, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Moldova and Transdniestria remain a frozen conflict with a 1992 ceasefire agreement. The armed conflicts in Chechnya and violence in Dagestan highlighted conflicts within the Russian Federation. The 2008 Guns of August conflict over South Ossetia between Russia and Georgia showed that autonomy issues could slip out of control and have Europe-wide consequences.
A Cloudy Cristal Ball
Predictions, especially about the future, are always difficult. In 2013, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Leonid Kazhara, said We wish to contribute to the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community free of dividing lines, conflicts, spheres of influence and zones with different levels of security...There is a pressing need to, first of all, change our mindsets from confrontational thinking to a co-operative approach. I am confident that Ukraine, with its rich history, huge cultural heritage and clear European aspirations is well placed for carrying out this mission.
Today, Ukraine's rich history has a new chapter, recreating old dividing lines and spheres of influence. The shift in ownership of Crimea indicates that territorial integrity of States is a relative commitment. The large number of persons going to Russia as refugees and to west Ukraine as internally-displaced persons recalls the bad days of displacement of the Second World War. NATO has dangerously over-reacted to events in Ukraine.
It is not clear that the current leaders of the 57 governments of the OSCE have the wisdom or skills to lead to a renewal of the Security Community. Yet when one looks at the photos of the government leaders who did sign the Helsinki Final Act 40 years ago, there are few faces indicating wisdom or diplomatic skills so perhaps all is not lost today. Very likely, as in the period between the events of 1968 and the start of government negotiations in 1972, there will need to be non-governmental voices setting out new ideas and creating bridges between people.
NPT: Nuclear Weapons and Tension Areas
As Winston Churchill once quipped God so loved the world that he did not send a committee. The Drafting Committee of the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was unable to draft an outcome document or as it is sometimes called a final statement. Even with the last-days efforts of the President, Ambassador Taous Feroukhi of Algeria and the UN Disarmament Secretariat to smooth over the rough edges of the document by weakening all the controversial wording, there was no possible meeting of minds. In the end, the USA, UK, and Canada refused to accept the final document citing the paragraph proposing a nuclear-weapon free zone in the Middle East.
Since there has been no visible progress on the reduction of nuclear weapons through negotiations among the nuclear-weapon States - the USA and the Russian Federation hold some 95% of them - efforts have been made to make legally-binding nuclear-weapon free zones. The first nuclear-weapon free zone to be negotiated was a direct aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. A nuclear exchange between the USA and the USSR was close enough so that the Latin American leaders were moved to action. Mexico under the leadership of Ambassador Alfonso Garcia-Robbles at the UN began immediately to call for a de-nuclearization of Latin America. In February 1967 the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America was signed at Tlatelolco, Mexico. It established a permanent and effective system of control which contains a number of novel and pioneering elements as well as a body to supervise the Treaty.
The Latin American Nuclear-weapon Free Zone was followed by four other geographic zones: South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central Asia - basically States which have neither the financial or technical capacity to develop nuclear weapons.
Today, there are four tension areas that involve States which have nuclear weapons and where no negotiations to reduce tensions are going on: Korea, India-Pakistan, the wider Middle East, and USA-Russia. Only Korea and the Middle East were mentioned by name in the draft final statement. However when the draft speaks of nuclear-weapon States, they have the US and Russia in mind. The Conference notes with concern that, despite the achievements in bilateral and unilateral nuclear arms reductions, the total estimated number of nuclear weapons deployed and in stockpiles of nuclear-weapon States still amounts to several thousands and many remain on high alert. The Conference stresses in this regard that the reductions in deployment and in operational status are welcome but cannot substitute for the irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons as required under Article VI of the Treaty. The Conference notes concerns expressed by non-nuclear weapon States regarding programmes for the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons as well as the qualitative improvements of existing nuclear weapon systems.
There have been earlier calls for a Middle East Nuclear-weapon Free Zone. The NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995 called for a conference to negotiate such a nuclear-weapon free zone. The desirability of establishing such a zone and eliminating nuclear-weapon delivery systems is widely recognized. Indeed, the United Nations General Assembly has resolutions calling for such a zone, first introduced by Egypt and Iran in 1974. Since 1980, such resolutions have attracted consensus support, including the qualified endorsement of Israel which has supported the concept but argued that it cannot proceed until peace settlements are achieved with its neighbors.
The Israeli government continues to argue that negotiations on such a zone can only be considered following peace settlements with all of its Arab and Islamic neighbors. There is also the possible linkage between nuclear and chemical weapons, involving the perception that the nuclear option may be needed as security against chemical attack.
Mohamed ElBaradei, former Director of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called for negotiations on such a zone. This is the last chance to build security in the Middle East based on trust and cooperation and not on the possession of nuclear weapons.
At the NPT Review, it was the delegation of Egypt led by Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hashim Badr which was most active in pushing for the UN Secretary General to call for a conference in 2016 to discuss a Middle East Nuclear-weapon Free Zone, if Israel wants to attend the conference or not. He also called for the replacement of Ambassador Joakko Laajava of Finland for being ineffectual. Finland has been charged by the UN to organize such a conference. Finland has been willing to host it, but no visible progress has been made.
However the problems of the Middle East are not conditioned by the quality of diplomats from Finland. Finland, as a neutral between NATO and the Warsaw Pact States during the Cold War (1945-1990) developed a diplomatic service of greater skills and number than a State of that size would normally have. This is true for the same reasons of the Swiss diplomatic service, but Middle East tensions are such that neither Finland nor Switzerland have much influence.
There were some, myself included, who felt that the recent nuclear agreement with Iran would create an atmosphere that would allow for progress. I had written in mid-April at the start of the month-long NPT Review Today, all who are concerned with peace and cooperation in the wider Middle East region can take heart from the progress made in the accord on the Iranian nuclear program. There are still elements which need to be finalized, but the current accord is a witness to the value of good-faith negotiations to find avenues of common interest.
This search for security based upon common endeavors must continue and gain in momentum. The present improvement in relations with Iran is the time and the opportunity to undertake the task of building common security in the Middle East. Acting together, States and peoples, both those of the Middle East and those outside, must help to define a dynamic vision and program for achieving security and peace, a program that is realistic, achievable and that stimulates the large cooperative response that is so urgently needed.
I underestimated the difficulties that would arise in the Review Conference over the Middle East. Rather I had thought that US-Russian tensions over Ukraine and NATO reactions might prevent a consensus as the Soviet moves into Afghanistan in January 1980 had created such tensions that the 1980 NPT Review was unable to agree on a final statement. However, the Ukraine-related tensions did not come up publicly, and it was the Middle East Nuclear-weapon Free Zone that focused the disagreements.
A major difficulty of moving to good-faith negotiations on a Middle East Nuclear-weapon Free Zone is the absence of a regional organization involving all States in the wider region. There needs to be leadership from within the Middle East for constructive, institution-building action. I believe that there is an urgent need to take steps toward creating a broad security and cooperation zone which has conflict resolution, arms control, human rights, and economic cooperation dimensions.
The prime example of such a multi-purpose regional security organization is what is today the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The creation of such an organization arose from proposals and discussions in the late 1960s as an effort to find ways for structured discussions between NATO, Warsaw Pact and neutral countries of Europe. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a small number of Non-governmental organizations (NGO) which were first calling for a pan-European agreement.
Formal talks among government representatives started in Helsinki during the first half of 1973 and then were carried on from September 1973 to June 1975 in Geneva. However, prior to 1973 and during the Geneva stage of the negotiations there had been a good number of informal discussions including NGOs and academics.
Likewise today, it may be that there is still such great suspicion of the motives of States in the Middle East that NGOs must again take the lead. Helping to build an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East is a challenge to all of us of good will - a creative challenge which we must undertake together.
Another major difficulty for the governments to reach a consensus at the NPT Review is that there is no real UN forum to discuss disarmament and arms control. In the early NPT Reviews, compromises were reached because the most active disarmament ambassadors, such as those of Mexico, Sweden and Yugoslavia were willing to accept weak final statements knowing that they could fight again another day in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Today, the Conference on Disarmament is so soundly asleep that what arms control discussions are carried out in the UN are done at the UN General Assembly. However, the General Assembly was not designed for continued and technical discussions on arms issues. The NPT draft statement was polite yet noted that The Conference expresses its concern that since the 2010 Review Conference, the Conference on Disarmament has not commenced substantive work on any agenda item in the context of a comprehensive and balanced programme of work.
I tend to be pessimistic concerning the will of governments to deal with disarmament and arms control issues. I see no national leaders, and when States regularly met at the UN or in treaty reviews such as the NPT Review, there is constant repetition but little forward motion. Unlike human rights and socio-economic development where NGOs can work at the local level while at the same time trying to influence national and world policy at the UN, military strategy, arms production, deployment of military forces - all are in the hands of national executives with some small influence from legislatures.
The area where NGOs might have an impact, as I mentioned, is to focus on the creation of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East. Perhaps also efforts to reduce tensions concerning Ukraine and NATO reactions would be useful as the tensions have grown well beyond a reasonable evaluation of the situation. Strong and diverse NGO leadership is needed - leadership whose voices can be heard above the beating drums and saber rattling.
New Missions for the UN and a Secretary-General to Fit
What should be the role for the United Nations in dealing with the changing scene of world politics? What qualities should the Secretary-General and the leadership team around him possess? The Secretary-General, by the UN Charter but especially by history, is accorded a central role. We need a realistic vision of the responsibilities, the potential and the limitations of the UN Secretariat, and the broader leadership of world-level institutions - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the major Specialized Agencies such as the ILO, FAO, WHO, and UNESCO as well as programs within the UN such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Development Program, and the World Food Program.
The UN, the financial institutions, and the Specialized Agencies leadership must work together as a team. However, this broad leadership team must also symbolize the diversity of cultures and geographic areas of the world. Increasingly, there is also a need for gender balance, and some women must be visible at the highest level. The team must also symbolize independence, integrity and impartiality.
The United Nations was created, as the League of Nations before it, in the shadow of the destruction of world-wide wars. It was the start of the Second World War that was on the mind of those planning the UN Charter in 1944-1945: a conflict which began with a German aggression across the recognized state frontiers of Czechoslovakia and Poland with a formal declaration of war by most of the states involved.
Today, the majority of wars are fought within states, not between them. The United Nations faces the fundamental problem that the UN has no explicit mandate for internal armed conflicts beyond a vague threat to peace justification for action within a member state. The UN is a state-based organization with an emphasis on disputes among states and nonintervention in domestic affairs because those drafting the UN Charter were not thinking of the promotion of human rights at the national level, nor even of socio-cultural development which, of course, are interventions into domestic affairs.
Preventing intra-state conflicts cannot be done by the UN alone. Prevention and conflict resolution once violence breaks out requires a multi-track approach, harnessing the abilities of a wide range of actors: the UN, regional state organizations, individual states and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Today, many armed conflicts are not fought between competing state formations with clear command structures. State frontiers recognized by the UN are being challenged in pursuit of ethnic aspirations, local and provincial autonomy. Armed conflicts as we see in the Syria-Iraq-ISIS-Kurds conflicts are complex affairs between disparate militia groups with no over-all leadership. In addition, foreign states are involved, sometimes directly or involved through less visible security forces.
The old channels of state-controlled diplomacy with recognized officials are no longer operative in these new settings as we see in the difficulties of knowing who represents what in possible negotiations in the Syria-Iraq conflicts now under way in Geneva. Peace in such a conflict which is both trans-frontier and internal requires the participation of the internal combatants, external exile political groups, and the representatives of governments with an interest in the outcome.
The UN Secretary-General should be a person who can deal creatively with this changing nature of conflict. She or he must have the political skills to urge governments to give the UN the personnel and financial backing it so badly needs. In addition, the Secretary-General needs the active support of NGOs who have the skills and contacts to develop new approaches to tackling conflicts. Non-governmental organizations are increasingly the real agents of progress in such areas as ecologically-sound development, human rights, relief and health. Harnessing all stakeholders to solve problems is the way forward to mobilize talent and resources.
The UN system is operating in a world of much greater complexity today than when the UN was founded. In order to tackle the range of urgent problems now demanding concentrated attention, the leadership team needs to inspire broad confidence and a willingness to serve the world interest on the part of many. There is a need to improve the level of Secretariat personnel nominated by national governments and to improve the level of UN staff on-the-job trainings. This is particularly true of the UN humanitarian emergency operations. There is also a need to improve co-operation with NGOs and academic institutions.
Top quality UN personnel leadership is essential to address the quality of the UN civil service. Restoring the quality and morale of the UN civil service must start with a change in the attitude of member state governments. Thus to be effective, the UN, its program and Specialized Agencies need leadership which can promote world interests without undue influence of individual states. The challenges ahead for the emerging world society require strong and devoted leadership.
Iran Accord and Momentum-building
Citizens of the World welcome the agreements reached on the Iranian nuclear program. These long and serious negotiations carried out on the edge of the Lake of Geneva captured the Swiss spirit of compromise: agreements must provide benefits for all parties and must be seen as having long-range consequences.
A steady, systematic momentum is needed in everything. Now, motion is needed to develop a broad security and cooperation system for the Middle East, somewhat on the lines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The timing of the agreement on the nuclear program of Iran is an important prelude to the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which will start at the United Nations in New York on 27 April and run through most of the month of May. A nuclear-weapon- free Middle East has been one of the themes of previous NPT Reviews, held every five-years since 1975. Little or no progress has been made on this narrow concentration on nuclear weapons alone.
Thus, there is a need to focus on creating a broad security and cooperation zone, which like the OSCE, has conflict resolution, arms control, human rights and economic cooperation dimensions.As with the period prior to the August 1975 Helsinki Conference on European Security, strong and diverse leadership is needed, leadership coming from both governments and non-governmental and academic organizations. Track II diplomacy - informal and usually off-the-record talks - played an important role in leading up to the Helsinki agreement and its application.
Formal talks among government representatives had started during the first half of 1973 and then were carried on from September 1973 to June 1975 in Geneva. However, prior to 1973 and during the Geneva stage of the negotiations there had been a good number of informal discussions including NGO representatives and academics. The Middle East merits such strong and creative efforts as well.
A security and cooperation zone for the wider Middle East will need opportunities for open and good faith discussions on security, economic and cultural policies to be set which enhance the dignity of all sectors of the population. Such discussions require a vital and diversified civil society. Civil society must increase its contribution in terms of information and detailed analysis. This is a challenge which world citizens and all of good will must undertake.
Rob Wheeler : This is an excellent proposal and idea and it is very well and succinctly written. THANK YOU. I will be spending quite a bit of time at the UN during the next couple of weeks focusing on Financing for Development and the Sustainable Development processes. I will make copies of your note and distribute them during these sessions as well as forward it to various peace group list serves that I am on.
Nuclear-Weapon Free Zones: Delegitimizing Nuclear Weapons at a Regional Level
As we prepare to participate as non-governmental organization representatives in the 9th Non-proliferation Nuclear Weapons Treaty Review (NPT Review Conference) at the United Nations in New York, 27 April -22 May 2015, we recall as a major step forward the 14 February signing in 1967 of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and the leadership of Ambassador Alfonso Garcia-Robles. I had chaired the NGO representatives at the first 1975 and the second 1980 Review Conferences then held in Geneva and worked closely with Garcia-Robles, Ambassador of Mexico and Laureate of the Nobel Prize for Peace for his disarmament-related efforts.
The concept of nuclear-weapon-free zones has been an important concept in disarmament and regional conflict-reduction efforts and as a possible approach to a nuclear-weapon-free world. A nuclear-weapon-free zone was first proposed for the Korean Peninsula by Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev in 1957. However, the first detailed proposal with an outline of the necessary steps was put forward by the Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki at the United Nations General Assembly in October 1957 -just a year after the crushing of the uprising in Hungary.
The crushing of the Hungarian revolt by Soviet troops and the unrest among Polish workers at the same time showed that the East-West equilibrium in Central Europe was unstable with both the Soviet Union and the USA in possession of nuclear weapons, and perhaps a willingness to use them if the political situation became radically unstable. The Rapacki Plan, as it became known, called for the denuclearization of East and West Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The Plan went through several variants which included its extension to cover the reduction of armed forces and armaments, and as a preliminary step, a freeze on nuclear weapons in the area. The Rapacki Plan was opposed by the NATO powers, in part because it recognized the legitimacy of the East German state. It was not until 1970 and the start of what became the 1975 Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe that serious negotiations on troop levels and weapons in Europe began. While the Rapacki Plan never led to negotiations on nuclear-weapon policies in Europe, it had the merit of re-starting East-West discussions which were then at a dead point.
The first nuclear-weapon-free zone to be negotiated the Treaty of Tlatelolco was a direct aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. It is hard to know how close to a nuclear exchange between the USA and the USSR was the Cuban missile crisis. It was close enough so that Latin American leaders were moved to action. While Latin America was not an area in which military confrontation was as stark as in Europe, the Cuban missile crisis was a warning that you did not need to have standing armies facing each other for there to be danger.
Mexico under the leadership of Ambassador Alfonso Garcia-Robles at the UN began immediately to call for a denuclearization of Latin America. There were a series of conferences, and in February 1967 the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America was signed at Tlatelolco, Mexico. For a major arms control treaty, the Tlatelolco was negotiated in a short time, due partly to the fear inspired by the Cuban missile crisis but especially to the energy and persistence of Garcia-Robles and the expert advice of William Epstein, then the U.N.s Director of Disarmament Affairs. The Treaty established a permanent and effective system of control which contains a number of novel and pioneering elements as well as a body to supervise the Treaty.
On 8 September 2006, the five states of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan - signed the treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The treaty aimed at reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation and nuclear-armed terrorism. The treaty bans the production, acquisition, deployment of nuclear weapons and their components as well as nuclear explosives. Importantly, the treaty bans the hosting or transport of nuclear weapons as both Russia and the USA have established military airbases in Central Asia where nuclear weapons could have been placed in times of crisis in Asia.
The treaty was signed at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan which was the main testing site for Soviet nuclear tests. Between 1949 and 1989, some 500 nuclear tests took place at Semipalatinsk leaving a heritage of radioactivity and health problems. A non-governmental organization Nevada-Semipalatinsk was formed in the 1980s of persons in the USA and the USSR who had lived in the nuclear-weapon test areas. Its aim was to work to abolish nuclear weapons and to push compensation for the persons suffering from the medical consequences of the tests. Thus, Rusten Tursunbaev, the vice-President of Nevada-Semipalatinsk could say The signing of the agreement on a nuclear-weapon -free zone in Central Asia is a remarkable, unbelievable moment and event not just for Central Asia but for the whole world
It is an unfortunate aspect of world politics that constructive, institution-building action is usually undertaken only because of a crisis. However, the Treaty of Tlatelolco is also a fine example of the necessary team work between political advocacy and expert knowledge. Ambassador Garcia-Robles was a dynamic personality who had a free hand because there were few in Mexico who cared about arms control or who followed what was being proposed in Geneva. William Epstein, with whom I worked closely after he retired from the UN, was an expert but also a determined personality. I recall that we were in Moscow together in 1975 just after the end of the NPT review to discuss the results with high-level Soviet specialists of arms control. They wanted us to accept a joint statement which they had largely drafted and which was unacceptable to us. Epstein said to me At every meeting someone has to be a bastard, and I am willing that it be me. He argued forcefully and we ended with an acceptable joint statement. Leadership and expertise is a crucial part of all advances; alas, not always available.
There has been growing concern with the activities of Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and its spillover into northern Cameroon, Niger, and in the Lake Chad area. There has been a recent conference of the African Union on the issue, and military units from Chad, Cameroon and Niger are linking up with the Nigerian army to counter the growing power of the organization and its possible links with the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq-Syria. The practice of forced marriage, the slavery of women and girls, and arbitrary killing including beheading has led many to flee the area. This has resulted in a large number of displaced people, often living in difficult situations.
Boko Haram is not the first militant, anti-establishment Islamic movement in northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon. In the early 1980s, an Islamic sect, the Yan Tatsine unleashed an armed insurrection against the Nigerian security forces, especially in the Kano area. The revolts were led (or at least influenced by) a wandering preacher, Mohammed Marwa Maitatsine. Maitatsine was a nickname added to the family name of Marwa. The nickname originated from the Hausa word tsini meaning to damn. While preaching, he would name his enemies and their lifestyle and end with the phrase 'Allah ta tsini (May God damn you), thus the name the one who damns. Maitatsine, like Boko Haram, damned all those who enjoyed Western consumer goods, automobiles, radio, watches, and especially Western education, which was an avenue to these goods.
As with Boko Haram, there were ideological, economic and social aspects to the movement as well as reactions to the brutality of the Nigerian army's efforts to weaken or destroy the movement. In the case of Mohammed Marwa, his control of territory was largely limited to the city of Kano, and he was killed by Nigerian security forces relatively quickly after the start of the armed attacks of his movement. However, the socio-economic conditions which led to the rise of his movement have continued and have produced smaller and less violent currents until the creation around 2002 of Boko Haram, first as a sect closed in on itself in an isolated area of Borno State in northeast Nigeria, and then for the last four years as an armed insurgency holding an ever-larger territory - or at least creating insecurity in ever larger areas.
For the current leader of Boko Haram, Abubaka Shekau, as well as for others in the movement, Usman dan Fodio (also written as Usuman) and his 1804-1808 jihad is the model to be followed. Although radically different in many ways, Boko Haram is part of the long shadow of Usman dan Fodio and the creation of the Sokoto Caliphate, the largest state in West Africa in the nineteenth century. Toyin Falola describes the background to the jihad:
The background to the jihad was a crisis in the Hausa states and Islamic leaders' resort to Islam to reform society. During the eighteenth century, Hausa society witnessed conflicts between one state and another, between Muslims and non-Muslims, between rich and poor. The states were heterogeneous and highly developed with established kingships, talented Islamic scholars and jurists. Succession disputes were endemic while ambition for political domination was common. Gofir state in the northwest emerged as a dominant power, but not without costly and ruthless wars. Merchants and kings grew wealthy, and their ostentatious living displeased the poor and devout Muslims. Methods of wealth accumulation involved corruption and unjust treatment of the poor. Taxes and levies could be excessive, demand for free labor ruinous, enslavement was common and conscription for military service was indiscriminate. The practice of Islam was not always strict: many were Muslims only in name, traditional religion was synthesized with Islam in a way that displeased devout preachers and only a small minority committed itself to spreading the religion. (1)
Dan Fodio (1754-1817) was a Peul (plu. Fulani) and thus a member of a minority within the largely Hausa area. However, the Fulani are found throughout West Africa. Prior to 1800, there had been a gradual influx of Fulani into northern Nigeria, a migration which had spread over several centuries and which involved people who were ethnically and linguistically distinct from the Hausa. During the earlier migratory phases, they were largely pastoral herdsmen but increasingly they settled in Hausa towns.
As an educated Peul, dan Fodio felt excluded from political power as did other Fulani. The jihad and the distribution of power that followed led to the Sokoto Caliphate - a sort of unified theocracy. Old Hausa dynasties were replaced by new local leaders, mainly Fulani emirs. The caliphate was headed by a sultan, based in Sokoto, while local emirates were governed by an emir. The appointment of each emir had to be ratified by the sultan. Thus was created a Fulani-Hausa political area with elements still in place today.
Dan Fodio, often referred to as Shehu, was an educated preacher who gathered around him students who became the core of his jihad army. Dan Fodio knew the history of Islam and wanted to recreate the Muslim community of the time of the first four Caliphs, thought of as the 'Golden Age of Islam'. He thus broke down the existing Hausa state system of some 15 separate states into a loosely organized Fulani-Hausa confederation of some 30 emirates with loyalty beyond the clan and the traditional ruler within the embrace of a common religion.
Two features tended to characterize the emirate system. First, there was virtually no distinction between religious and political authority. The emir possessed both. Second, politics was conducted in an essentially despotic fashion. The common man was subservient to the emir and was dependent on his benevolence. The Fulani jihad fell short of establishing the just Islamic theocracy it had purported to create. Many saw the jihad as a road to power rather than to the purity of religious practice.
Boko Harma has kept the use of flags and flag bearers from dan Fodio's jihad as well as the arbitrary killing and indiscriminate marauding. In Boko Harma, there seem to be few Islamic scholars in their ranks, but there do seem to be some who have been to Islamic schools. The future from today is very uncertain. It is unlikely that there is a military answer. Changes in socio-economic conditions are likely to take a long time. From a distance, it is difficult to see how good faith negotiations can be carried out between governments and Boko Haram. Long shadows can last for centuries, but we must keep trying to see how negotiations can be carried out and if non-governmental organizations can play an intermediary role.
Romain Rolland: The Cosmopolitan Spirit
29 January: Birth Anniversary
see : rolland-an.htm
The attack by two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, of the satiric journal Charlie Hebdo in Paris, followed by a related hostage situation in a Paris kosher supermarket was nearly unbroken TV news from 7 to 11 January 2015. The killings have led to many discussions, spontaneous manifestations of support for freedom of expression and a government-organized march on Sunday, 11 January, with over 40 heads of state - some of whose conversion to freedom of expression is of recent date.
Charlie Hebdo, created in 1969 was a direct expression of May 1968 and the student-led demands for a change of society and government, then led by Charles de Gaulle. Charlie Hebdo, named after Charles Schultz's Charlie Brown of the Peanuts comic strip, was to be the opposite of what de Gaulle represented. De Gaulle was in power, a military general, a conservative Roman Catholic, and old enough not to have sex on his mind all the time.
There is a cartoon-satiric tradition in the French press, best expressed by Le Canard enchainé,
created during the First World War to avoid government press censorship. By saying that it was satire,
Le Canard could publish reports of events that the serious but censored press could not. Some of the Charlie Hebdo writers came from Le Canard, and some cartoonists drew for both publications.
Charlie Hebdo sold from 25,000 to 40,000 issues per week. A cartoon took up the whole cover page so that many people saw it on news stands, even if they did not buy it. Writers and cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo with ready wit and quips were often invited to radio and TV talk shows so they were known well beyond the regular readers of the magazine. Some of the cartoonists had published books of their drawings which also increased their visibility. Thus their death was felt by many as a loss of people they knew as well as by many others who knew little of Charlie Hebdo but who felt that shooting journalists was not a good thing.
Charlie Hebdo went on the news stands early every Wednesday morning, and the editors, writers and potential authors would meet Wednesday morning to plan the next week's issue. Thus all the editors, major writers, and some who might write an article were in the same room on Wednesday, 7 January, when the killers came in, having already shot two persons in the hall. Stephen Charbonnier, the chief editor, who signed as "Charb" had already been placed on a "Wanted Dead or Alive for crimes against Islam" poster published in the English-language journal and the website of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Thus Charlie Hebdo was under some police protection. A policeman in civilian clothes was near the editors and was killed with them. A second policeman from a near-by police station who arrived on the scene as the killers were leaving was also shot dead.
The killers were quickly identified, one brother having left his identity card in the car they had used when they abandoned it in favor of a different car whose driver they forced out. One brother had been in prison in 2005 for being part of a network to recruit men to go to Iraq to fight the US soldiers. The other brother had been trained in Yemen in the use of arms and both were on a "no fly" list of US security agencies.
They drove some 30 miles to a rural suburb of Paris where they held up a gas station for gas and food. The holdup thus indicated the broad area in which they were - relatively close to the main Paris airport. As they had a rocket launcher, seen but not used in the Charlie Hebdo attack, there was fear that they might attack the air port or a plane. Thus there was a h ugh deployment of police and military to the area. The roads were tightly controlled. The two brothers decided to wait or to fight from a small print shop in a rural town. An employee in the shop was hidden and informed the police as to what was going on by cell phone.
As soon as the attack on Charlie Hebdo was known via television, a friend of the Kouachi brothers, Amedy Coulibably, originally from Mali, went and killed a young policewoman in a Paris suburb and badly wounded a town employee who was standing with the policewoman, thus drawing some of the elite anti-terrorism Paris police in another direction. As soon as it was known that the police had surrounded the print shop with the two Kouachi brothers inside, Coulibaly went to a small kosher supermarket in Paris, killed four shoppers - all Jewish including the son of the chief rabbi of Tunis who was in France to learn marketing - and held others in the store hostage - again dividing the French police trained to deal with hostage situations. Cheerif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly had been in prison together, became more militant there, and afterwards the wives of the two became close friends.
The two Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly were killed by the police in the subsequent police actions, some 17 dead in the three days. Prior to the police's final actions, the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly had spoken separately via cell phones to TV stations indicating that their actions had been done on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Intelligence services are now trying to investigate if the three were part of "sleeper cells" and ordered into action from abroad or did the three claim to be part of larger networks in order to gain in importance.
As the two Kouachi brothers left the Charlie Hebdo offices, they shouted "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!" Obviously, this has led to wide-spread debates in France and elsewhere in Europe as to the place of Muslims in French society, to the relation between Islam and violence, to differences, if any, between radical and moderate Islam. These debates are not new, but they have been heightened by the shootings.
Likewise, the hostage taking and killing in the kosher market has led to a discussion of the place of Jews in French society and the capacity of Jews and Muslims to life side by side in France - a discussion again heightened by the public statement of the Israeli Prime Minister that Israel would always be a land of refuge for French Jews and that the four killed in the Kosher market would be buried in Israel.
There is also an ongoing debate, especially among the media, on the role of satire, of gratuitous offense to religion, of self-censorship, of the defense of free speech without approval of the content.
The events of the three days with nearly unbroken TV coverage have led to public debate but also to fears, strong emotions, possible backlash, and to political use of the events. On Saturday, 10 January, there were many, largely spontaneous street meetings in all parts of France with "I am Charlie" signs copied from the Internet. On Sunday, there was a government-sponsored manifestation in Paris with a million and a half people including government leaders from abroad and many French political and media personalities. Another two million people attended manifestations in other French cities and even smaller towns. The emphasis was placed on freedom of expression as a core value of the Enlightenment and on the value of "living together". Symbolic care was taken to showing the integration of the Muslim community. One of the policemen killed was a Muslim, and the dead policewoman was of African origin. Care was also taken to show that Jews were safe in France and valued members of French society. There was some, but not much, direct political use of the events. The Prime Minister was widely quoted saying" It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity."
The events will have echoes elsewhere, especially in Europe, and follow up will have to be watched closely.
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