United Nations

 

President Trump’s UN and a Good Time Had by All

BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS
, 23 January 2017

Rene Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

President Donald Trump has tweeted that “The UN has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time.”

It takes less to have good time for some people than for others. Having sat through many long sessions in human rights bodies at the UN in Geneva, I could hardly wait to get out and have a good time elsewhere. I recall one year in particular when the UN Commission on Human Rights went on repeatedly till three in the morning. The “coffee bar” which was just outside the meeting room would close around 8 PM, but they would leave a couple of buckets of ice cubes on the bar so we could serve ourselves.

I had a woman friend from New York, a leading human rights lawyer, who would come each year. She was blind so I would take care of her “seeing eye” dog in the Palais des Nations and take the dog out for a run in the UN park. In compensation, she would bring a couple of bottles of “duty-free” whisky which I would put in a flask and around 10 PM we would have a couple of drinks in the coffee bar to keep us going to the end.

There was only one year that the meetings went till 3 AM. The other years the sessions would stop at midnight because UN staff – interpreters etc – had to be paid for a full day even if they had worked only from midnight until 3 AM. But the 3 AM year, I had with me the “Man Friday” of the Dalai Lama, a monk who is usually with him to get things, meet people etc. The monk had not had a vacation in a long time, and the Dalai Lama thought that he might have a good time by staying in Geneva for a week. It was a week of the Commission on Human Rights so I always had him with me and would try to explain what was going on, the meaning behind the speeches.

At 10 PM he would come with me for our nightly whisky, but as a monk he did not drink alcohol, though I always offered him the possibility. He must have said some mantras for strength because he always held out till 3 AM as well.

When not listening to talks and having a good time, what is the role of Non-governmental representatives at the UN – people probably not at the front of President Trump’s vision of the UN? However,there is growing interest in the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within the United Nations system in the making and the implementation of policies at the international level. NGOs are more involved than ever before in global policy making and project implementation in such areas as conflict resolution, human rights, humanitarian relief, and environmental protection.

NGOs at the UN have a variety of roles — they bring citizens concerns to governments, advocate particular policies, present alternative avenues for political participation, provide analysis, serve as an early warning mechanism of potential violence and help implement peace agreements.

The role of consultative-status NGOs was written into the UN Charter at its founding in San Francisco in June, 1945. As one of the failings of the League of Nations had been the lack of public support and understanding of the functioning of the League, some of the UN Charter drafters felt that a role should be given to NGOs. At the start, both governments and UN Secretariat saw NGOs as an information avenue — telling NGO members what the governments and the UN was doing and building support for their actions. However, once NGOs had a foot in the door, the NGOs worked to have a two-way avenue — also telling governments and the Secretariat what NGO members thought and what policies should be carried out at the UN. Governments were none too happy with this two-way avenue idea and tried to limit the UN bodies with which NGOs could ‘consult’. There was no direct relationship with the General Assembly or the Security Council. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Article 71 of the Charter was the body to which “consultative-status NGOs” were related.

What in practice gives NGOs their influence is not what an individual NGO can do alone but what they can do collectively. ‘Networking’ and especially trans-national networking is the key method of progress. NGOs make networks which facilitate the trans-national movement of norms, resources, political responsibility, and information. NGO networks tend to be informal, non-binding, temporary, and highly personalized. NGOs are diverse, heterogeneous and independent. They are diverse in mission, level of resources, methods of operating and effectiveness. However, at the UN they are bound together in a common desire to protect the planet and advance the welfare of humanity.

The role of NGO representatives is to influence policies through participation in the entire policy-making process. What distinguishes the NGO representative’s role at the UN from lobbying at the national level is that the representative may appeal to and discuss with the diplomats of many different governments. While some diplomats may be unwilling to consider ideas from anyone other than the mandate they receive from their Foreign Ministry, others are more open to ideas coming from NGO representatives. Out of the 193 Member States, the NGO representative will always find some diplomats who are ‘on the same wave length’ or who are looking for additional information on which to take a decision, especially on issues on which a government position is not yet set. Therefore, an NGO representative must be trusted by government diplomats and the UN Secretariat. As with all diplomacy in multilateral forums such as the UN, much depends upon the skill and knowledge of the NGO representative and on the close working relations which they are able to develop with some government representatives and some members of the UN Secretariat. Many Secretariat members share the values of the NGO representatives but can not try to influence government delegates directly. The Secretariat members can, however, give to the NGO representatives some information, indicate countries that may be open to acting on an issue and help with the style of presentation of a document.

It is probably in the environmental field — sustainable development — that there has been the most impact. Each environmental convention or treaty such as those on biological diversity or drought was negotiated separately, but with many of the same NGO representatives present. It is more difficult to measure the NGO role in disarmament and security questions. It is certain that NGO mobilization for an end to nuclear testing and for a ban on land mines and cluster weapons played a role in the conventions which were steps forward for humanity. However, on other arms issues, NGO input is more difficult to analyse.

‘Trans-national advocacy networks’ which work across frontiers are of increasing importance as seen in the efforts against land mines, for the International Criminal Court and for increased protection from violence toward women and children. The groups working on these issues are found in many different countries but have learned to work trans-nationally both through face-to-face meetings and through the internet web. The groups in any particular campaign share certain values and ideas in common but may differ on other issues. Thus, they come together on an ad hoc basis around a project or a small number of related issues. Yet their effectiveness is based on their being able to function over a relatively long period of time in rather complex networks even when direct success is limited.

These campaigns are based on networks which combine different actors at various levels of government: local, regional, national, and UN (or European Parliament, OSCE etc.). The campaigns are waged by alliances among different types of organizations — membership groups, academic institutions, religious bodies, and ad hoc local groupings. Some groups may be well known, though most are not.

There is a need to work at the local, the national, and the UN levels at the same time. Advocacy movements need to be able to contact key decision-makers in national parliaments, government administrations and intergovernmental secretariats. Such mobilization is difficult, and for each ‘success story’ there are many failed efforts. The rise of UN consultative-status NGOs has been continual since the early 1970s. NGOs and government diplomats at the UN are working ever more closely together to deal with the world challenges which face us all.

NOTES:

(1) This interest is reflected in a number of path-making studies such as P. Willets(Ed.) The Consciences of the World: The Influence of Non-Governmental Organizations in the UN System (London: Hurst, 1996), T. Princen and M. Finger (Eds) Environmental NGOs in World Politics: Linking the Global and the Local(London: Routledge, 1994), M.Rech and K. Sikkink Activists Without Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998), Bas Arts, Math Noortmann and Rob Reinalda (Eds) Non-State Actors in International Relations (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001) and William De MarsNGOs and Transnational Networks (London: Pluto Press, 2005).

______________________________________

René Wadlow, is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

Robert M. Hutchins: Building on Earlier Foundations
Rene Wadlow

Much of our current work for a more just and peaceful world builds on the thinking and efforts of earlier foundations. An important foundation is the leading role of Robert M. Hutchins, long-time President of the University of Chicago (l929 -1951) whose birth anniversary we mark on 17 January.

Hutchins' father, William,was President of Berea, a small but important liberal arts college, so Robert Hutchins (1899-1977) was set to follow the family pattern. He went to Yale Law School and stayed on to teach. He quickly became the Dean of the Law School and was spotted as a rising star of US education. When he was 30 years old, he was asked to become President of the University of Chicago, a leading institution. Hutchins was then the youngest president of a US university.

In the first decade in his post as president, the 1930s, his ideas concerning undergraduate education − compulsory survey courses, early admission after two years of secondary school for bright and motivated students, a concentration on “Great Books” - an examination of seminal works of philosophy in particular Plato and Aristotle − divided the University of Chicago faculty. There were strong and outspoken pro and anti Hutchins faculty groups. Moreover Hutchins' abolition of varsity football and ending the University's participation in the “Big Ten” university football league distressed some alumni whose link to the university was largely limited to attending football games. For Hutchins, a university was for learning and discussion, not for playing sports. As he famously said “ When I feel like exercising, I sit down until the feeling goes away.”

It is Hutchins' creation and leadership of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution in 1945 which makes him one of the intellectual founders of the movement for world federation and world citizenship. After the coming to power of Hitler in Germany in 1933 and his quick decision to ban Jewish professors from teaching in German universities, many Jewish scientists and professors left Germany and came to the USA. Some of the leading natural scientists joined the University of Chicago. Thus began the “Metallurgy Project” as the work on atomic research was officially called. The University of Chicago team did much of the theoretical research which led to the Atom Bomb. While Hutchins was not directly involved in the atomic project, he understood quickly the nature of atomic energy and its military uses. He saw that the world would never return to a “pre-atomic” condition and that new forms of world organization were needed.

On 12 August 1945, a few days after the use of the atom bombs, Hutchins made a radio address “Atomic Force: Its Meaning for Mankind” in which he outlined the need for strong world institutions, stronger than the UN Charter, whose drafters earlier in the year did not know of the destructive power of atomic energy.

Several professors of the University of Chicago were already active in peace work such as Mortimer Adler, G.A. Borgese, and Richard McKeon, Dean of the undergraduate college. The three approached Hutchins saying that as the University of Chicago had taken a lead in the development of atomic research, so likewise, the university should take the lead in research on adequate world institutions. By November 1945, a 12-person Committee to Frame a World Constitution was created under Hutchins' chairmanship. The Committee drew largely on existing faculty of the University of Chicago − Wilber Katz, Dean of the Law School and Rexford Tugwell who taught political science but who had been a leading administrator of the Roosevelt New Deal and Governor of Puerto Rico. Two retired professors from outside Chicago were added − Charles McIlwain of Harvard, a specialist on constitutions, and Albert Guerard of Stanford, a French refugee who was concerned about the structure of post-war Europe.

From 1947 to 1951, the Committee published a monthly journal Common Cause many of whose articles still merit reading today as fundamental questions concerning the philosophical basis of government, human rights, distribution of power, and the role of regions are discussed. The Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution was published in 1948 and reprinted in the Saturday Review of Literature edited by Norman Cousins and in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists some of whom were in the original “Metallurgy Project”. The Preliminary Draft raised a good deal of discussion, reflected in the issues of Common Cause. There was no second draft. The Preliminary Draft was as G.A. Borgese said, quoting Dante “...of the True City at least the Tower.”

In 1951, Hutchins retired from the presidency of the University of Chicago for the Ford Foundation and then created the Ford Foundation-funded Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions where he gathered together some of his co-workers from the University of Chicago.

Two ideas from The Preliminary Draft are still part of intellectual and political life for those concerned with a stronger UN. The first is the strong role of regional organizations. When The Preliminary Draft was written the European Union was still just an idea and most of the States now part of the African Union were European colonies. The Preliminary Draft saw that regional groups were institutions of the future and should be integrated as such in the world institution. Today, the representatives of States belonging to regional groupings meet together at the UN to try to reach a common position, but regional groups are not part of the official UN structure. However, they may be in the future.

The other lasting aspect of The Preliminary Draft is the crucial role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should play. The then recently drafted UN Charter had created a “consultative status” for NGOs, but few of the UN Charter drafters foresaw the important role that NGOs would play as the UN developed. The Preliminary Draft had envisaged a Syndical Senate to represent occupational associations on the lines of the International Labour Organization where trade unions and employer associations have equal standing with government delegates. In 1946, few people saw the important role that the NGOs would later play in UN activities. While there is no “Syndical Senate”, today NGOs represent an important part of the UN process.

Hutchins, however, was also a reflection of his time. There were no women as members of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, and when he created the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions with a large number of “fellows”, consultants, and staff, women are also largely absent.

The effort to envisage the structures and processes among the different structures was an innovative contribution to global institution building at the time, and many of the debates and reflections are still crucial for today.

Notes

For an understanding of the thinking of those involved in writing The Preliminary Draft see:
Mortimor Adler. How to think about War and Peace (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944)
Rexford Tugwell. Chronicle of Jeopardy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)
G.A. Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1953)
Scott Buchanan. Essay in Politics (New York: Philosophical Library, 1953)

For a life of Hutchens written by a co-worker in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions:
Harry Ashmore. Unreasonable Truths: the Life of Robert Maynard Hutchens (Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1989)

Rene Wadlow

New Challenges and Responses:
A Framework for Action by Citizens of the World

  René Wadlow*

  The New Global Context


  2017 is in the process of becoming an important year in the emerging
world society. The United Nations has a new Secretary General and is in
the process of evaluating its priorities. Likewise, Non-governmental
organization are reviewing their capacity of action to meet new
challenges of armed conflicts and persistent poverty.

  Although
progress has been made in many social and economic fields, persistent
poverty still remains the daily life of many people − what Paul Collier
has called "the bottom billion". (Paul Collier. The Bottom Billion: Why
the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It Oxford
University Press, 2008)

  Citizens of the World have always stood
for a simple yet powerful idea that humanity must think of itself as one
society and thus must unite in developing the basic policies that
advance peace with justice.  A central task is to develop a
problem-solving,future-oriented global view which addresses the issues
of our new era:
to overcome persistent poverty;
to reduce ecological degradation;
to develop conflict-resolution measures to abolish armed violence.


  The United Nations and world citizens have been at the forefront of
efforts to promote an economic system which puts the basic needs of
people first.  The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
incorporated economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to
work, the right to social security, the right to an adequate standard of
living, the right to health, and the right to education. World Citizens
hold that people-centered economic growth will be the result of
economic and social policies which are consciously designed to meet
basic needs − policies and practices which are ecologically-sound. 
Ecologically-sound development requires a new orientation of moral and
spiritual values.  Concepts of caring, respect, sharing and cooperation
with others must be at the center of the values of Citizens of the
World.

  World Citizens are helping with this vast transformation
toward a culture of peace. A culture of peace is a set of values,
attitudes and ways of life which promote nonviolence through education,
dialogue and cooperation.

  There is a need for a focus on
conflict resolution to prevent armed conflicts when possible and also to
make efforts after armed conflicts to prevent them from reigniting. The
Association of World Citizens through its consultative status with the
United Nations has put its emphasis on the resolution of armed conflicts
which cause death, destruction and refugee flows, especially the
conflicts in Syria-Iraq, Ukraine, and northern Nigeria.  There is a need
to expand Track II diplomacy − that is, informal discussions among
those in conflict − and when possible, mediation among the parties in
conflict.

  Thus, we need to be alert to what is unfolding.  We
need to be ready to act creatively with a deep planetary awareness to
meet the global challenges and opportunities of our time.

  * René Wadlow is President and a representative to the United Nations (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens.

 

 

 

 

Dag Hammarskjold (29 July 1905 - 18 Sept. 1961) Crisis Manager and Longer-Range World Community Builder

BIOGRAPHIES, 25 July 2016

Rene Wadlow 

You wake from dreams of doom and −for a moment− you know: beyond
all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing, love's calm
unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn.
Dag Hammarskjold  Markings

Dag Hammarskjold became Secretary-General of the United Nations at a
moment of crisis related to the 1950-1953 war in Korea, and he died in a
plane crash in 1961 on a mission dealing with the war in the Congo. The
first Secretary-General of the UN, Trygve Lie, had resigned in November
1952 in the light of the strong opposition of the Soviet Union and its
allies to the way the United Nations Command operated in Korea. Even
though it was called the "United Nations Command", the main fighting
forces and the logistic support were provided by the United States.

Among UN Security Council members and other important delegations, it
was felt that, given the way Trygve Lie was pushed out before a second
term, he should be replaced by a person from a Nordic country, and the
name of Dag Hammarskjold started to be proposed as a suitable candidate
from an appropriate country, Sweden. It took five months of discussions
before on 10 April 1953 Hammarskjold took office in New York.

Little in his background or experience had prepared Hammarskjold to
be a crisis manager. He cane from a distinguished Swedish family.  His
father had been Prime Minister, and other members of his father's family
had been civil servants or military officers.   On his mother's side,
the family had been well-known Lutheran clergy and academics. Dag
Hammarskjold was known for his active interest in literature, art and
music − interests which he continued throughout his life.  However, he
was trained in economics and by age thirty-six he was chairman of the
National Bank of Sweden, concerned with long-range economic trends.  He
was not a stock-market trader having to make quick decisions with very
incomplete information to "buy or sell".

Dag Hammarskjold

Hammarskjold had a very strong sense of duty. As he wrote to himself in 1951 in a dairy published after his death as Markings (1) "Only he deserves power who everyday justifies it."

Hammarskjold came to the United Nations just as socio-economic
development was being considered as a permanent mandate for the UN
Secretariat.  At the time of the creation of the United Nations in 1945,
economic and social issues were considered as the functions of
specialized agencies formally related to the UN through the Economic and
Social Council but in effect, independent with their own governing
boards, budgets and administrative procedures: the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund in Washington, and UNESCO, FAO, ILO, WHO,
all located in Europe.  By 1949, influenced by the "Point Four" idea of
US President Harry Truman, there started to grow the idea that the UN
itself should become operative in providing economic, administrative,
and technical assistance. A modest "Expanded Program of Technical
Assistance to Underdeveloped Countries" was created in 1949, and through
different incarnations has become the UN Development Program (UNDP)'s,
complex and multi layered activities.

Hammarskjold was a strong supporter of economic and social programs. 
He appointed well-known and active economists to guide these programs. 
By training and temperament, he would have wanted to follow economic
and social issues as he saw such programs as important buildings blocs
of the world community.

However, it was as a crisis manager that he filled his days.  These
were often long days, and he was able to work for 18 hours a day for
long stretches of time.  He started as Secretary-General when the war in
Korea was ending, but peace had not been established.  Korea was still
divided into two hostile States, a large number of people had been
uprooted and much of the economic infrastructure destroyed.  The French
war in Indochina was still going on, and many observers feared that
there could be a generalized Asian conflict.  In 1952, the UN General
Assembly created the "Commission on the Racial Situation in South
Africa" - the start of a decades-long concern.  The French war in
Indochina was followed by the start of the war in Algeria.  In April
1955, the "Asian-Africa Conference" was held in Bandung, Indonesia, a
sign that decolonization would stay on the agenda of world issues for a
long time.  In November 1956, the first session of a UN Special General
Assembly condemned the military aggression of the UK, France and Israel
against Egypt, which later led to the use of UN Peacekeeping forces.

Dag Hammarskjold became an expert crisis manager, to the point that
there was a common slogan in the UN- "Leave it to Dag". He liked to work
alone but had created a team of people working under him who were
highly competent and totally devoted to him.

His last crisis-management effort was in the former Belgium Congo
which had become independent in July 1960, followed quickly by violence,
the breakdown of public order, the murder of the former Prime Minister
Lumumba, the effort of Moise Tshombe to create a separate state in
Katanga, and the sending of UN troops.  USA-USSR Cold War tensions
increased over Congo issues. Hammarskjold was to try an effort of
mediation at the airport of Ndola, now in  Zambia when the UN plane
crashed, and all were killed.

Shortly after assuming office Dag Hammarskjold set out his view of
his task as a world public servant faced by conflicting government − a
vision which he fulfilled fully;

"The Secretary-General should express with full frankness to the
governments concerned and their representatives the conclusions at which
he arrives on issues before the organization.  These conclusions must
be completely detached from any national interest or policy and based
solely on the principles and ideals to which the governments have
adhered as members of the United Nations."

At a time when there are active discussions on the selection of the
next UN Secretary General, it is important to recall the drive and
initiatives of Dag Hammarskjold.

Note:

Dag Hammarskjold. Markings (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964, 222pp.)

_________________________________

René Wadlow, is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

 


 

 

 

30 July: UN-designated Day for Developing Awareness of Human Trafficking

Rene Wadlow

The recent interception by the Italian Navy of two
ships filled with refugees from Syria and other migrants has highlighted
in a dramatic way the ever-growing trade in persons. On both ships, the
captain and crew had abandoned the ship which were heading toward a
rocky shore when the ships were boarded by the Italian Navy.

30 July has been designated by a UN General
Assembly Reolution in 2013 (A/RES/68/192) as a day to develop awareness
of human trafficking. Awareness has been growing, but effective remedies
are slow and uncoordinated. Effective remedies are often not accessible
to victims of trafficking owing to gaps between setting international
standards, enacting national laws and then implementation in a humane
way.

The international standards have been set out in
the "United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime"
and its "Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, Especially Women and Children." The Convention and the Protocol
standards are strengthened by the "International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their
Families." The world-wide standards have been reaffirmed by regional
legal frameworks such as the "Council of Europe Convention on Action
against Trafficking in Human Beings."

Despite clear international and regional standards,
there is poor implementation, limited government resources and
infrastructure dedicated to the issue, a tendency to criminalize victims
and restrictive immigration policies in many countries.

Trafficking in persons is often linked to networks
trafficking in drugs and arms. Some gangs traffick in all three; in
other cases agreements are made to specialize and not expand into the
specialty of other criminal networks. These networks often act with a
high degree of impunity from government services.

Basically there are three sources of trafficking in
persons. The first, as highlighted by the intercepted ships, are
refugees from armed conflicts. Refugees are covered by the Refugee
Conventions supervised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
in the country of first asylum. Thus Syrian refugees are protected and
helped by the UNHCR in Lebanon, but not if they leave Lebanon. As ¼ of
the population of Lebanon are now refugees from the conflicts in Syria,
the Lebanese government is increasingly placing restrictions on Syrian's
possibility to work in Lebanon, to receive schooling, medical services,
proper housing etc. Thus many Syrians try to leave Lebanon or Turkey to
find a better life in Western Europe. Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan,
Sudan follow the same pattern.

The second category are people leaving their
country for economic reasons − sometimes called "economic refugees."
Migration for better jobs and a higher standard of living has a long
history. Poverty, ethnic and racial discrimination, and gender-based
discrimination are all factors in people seeking to change countries.
With ever-tighter( immigration policies in many countries and with a
popular "backlash" against migrants in some countries, would-be migrants
turn to "passers" − individuals or groups that try to take migrants
into a country, avoiding legal controls.

A third category − or a subcategory of economic
migration − is the sex trade, usually of women but also children. As a
Human Rights Watch study of the Japanese "sex-entertainment" businesses
notes " There are an estimated 150,000 non-Japanese women employed in
the Japanese sex industry, primarily from other Asian countries such as
Thailand and the Philippines. These women are typically employed in the
lower rungs of the industry either in 'dating' snack bars or in low-end
brothels, in which customers pay for short periods of eight or fifteen
minutes. Abuses are common as job brokers and employers take advantage
of foreign women's vulnerability as undocumented migrants: they cannot
seek recourse from the police or other law enforcement authorities
without risking deportation and potential prosecution, and they are
isolated by language barriers, a lack of community, and a lack of
familiarity with their surroundings." We find similar patterns in many
countries.

The scourge of trafficking in persons will continue
to grow unless strong counter measures are taken. Basically, police and
governments worldwide do not place a high priority on the fight against
trafficking unless illegal migration becomes a media issue, as did the
interception of the two ships.

Thus real progress needs to be made through
non-governmental organizations (NGOs),such as the Association of World
Citizens. There are four aspects to this anti-trafficking effort. The
first is to help build political will by giving accurate information to
political leaders and the press. The other three aspects depend on the
efforts of the NGOs themselves. Such efforts call for increased
cooperation among NGOs and capacity building.

The second aspect is research into the areas from
which children and women are trafficked. These are usually the poorest
parts of the country and among marginalized populations. Socio-economic
and educational development projects must be directed to these areas so
that there are realistic avenues for advancement.

The third aspect is the development of housing and
of women's shelters to ensure that persons who have been able to leave
exploitive situations have temporary housing and other necessary
services.

The fourth aspect is psychological healing. Very
often women and children who have been trafficked into the sex trades
have a disrupted or violent family and have a poor idea of their
self-worth. This is also often true of refugees for armed conflict.
Thus, it is important to create opportunities for individual and group
healing, to give a spiritual dimension to the person through teaching
meditation and yoga. There are needs for creating adult education
facilities so that people may continue a broken education cycle.

There are NGOs who are already working along these lines. Their efforts need to be encouraged and expanded.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

Building on the UN summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants

By Rene Wadlow

On 19 September 2016, the UN General Assembly held a one-day Summit
on « Addressing Large Movements o Refugees and Migrants »  - a complex
of issues which have become important and emotional issues in many
countries. Restrictive migration policies deny many migrants the
possibility of acquiring a regular migrant status, and as a result, the
migrants end up being in an irregular or undocumented situation in the
receiving country and can be exposed to exploitation and serious
violations of human rights.

Citizens of the world have been actively concerned with the issues of
migrants, refugees, the « stateless » and those displaced by armed
conflcts within their own country.   Thus we welcome the spirit of the
Summit Declaration with its emphasis on cooperative action, a humane
sense of sharing the responsibilities for refugees and migrants and on
seeking root causes of migration and refugee flows. There are three
issues mentioned in the Summit Declaration which merit follow up action
among the UN Secretariat, world citizens and other non-governmental
organizations :

1) The migration of youth ;

2) The strong link between migration, refugee flows, and improving the structures for the resolution of armed conflicts ;

3)  Developing furher cooperation among non-governmental
organizations for the protection and integration of refugees and
migrants.

The Migration of Youth

Youth leave their country of birth to seek a better life and also to
escape war, poverty, and misfortune. We should add to an analysis of
trans-frontier youth migration a very large numbe of youth who leave
their home villages to migrate toward cities within their own country. 
Without accurate informaion and analysis of both internal and
trans-frontier migration of youth, it is difficult to deelop appropiate
policies for employment, housing, education and health care of young
migrants  and refugees. It is estimated that there are some 10 million
refugee children, and most are not in school.

Studies have noted an increasing feminization of trans-frontier
migration in which the female migrant moves abroad as a wage earner,
especially as a domestic worker rather than as an accompannying family
member.  Migrant domestic workers are often exposed to abuse,
exploitation and discrimination based on gender, ethnicity and
occupation. Domestic workers are often underpaid, their working
conditions poor and sometimes dangerous. Their bargaining power is
severly limited. Thus, there is a need to develop legally enforeable
contracts of employment, setting out minimum wages, maximum hours of
work and responsibilities ;

The Association of World Citizens recommends that there be in the
follow ups to the Summit, a special focus on youth, their needs as well
as possibilities for positive actions by youth.

The strong link between migration, refugee flows, and improving the structures for the resolution of armed conflicts.

The United Nations General Assembly which follows immediately the
Migration-Refugee Summit is facing the need for action on a large number
of armed conflicts in which Member States are involved.  In some of
these conflicts the United Natins has provided mediators ; in others, UN
peace-keepes are present.  In nearly all these armed conflicts, there
have been internally-displaced persons as well as trans-frontier
refugees.  Therefore there is an urgent need to review the linkages
between armed conflict and refugee flows. There needs to be a realistic
examination as to why some of these armed conflicts have lasted as long
as they have and why negotiations in good faith have not been undertaken
or have not led to the resolution of these armed conflicts.  Such
reflections must aim at improvements of structures and procedures.

Developing further cooperation among non-governmental organizations for the protection and integration of refugees and migrants.

We welcome the emphasis in the Summit Declaratin on the important
rôle that non-governmental organizations play in providing direct
services to refugees and migrants. NGOs also lobby government
authorities on migration legislation and develop public awareness
campaigns.  The Summit has stressed the need to focus on future policies
taking into account climate change and the growing globalization of
trade, finance, and economic activities.  Thus, there needs to be strong
cooperation among the UN and its Agencies, national governments, and
NGOs to deal more adequately with current challenges and to plan for the
future. Inclusive structures for such cooperation are needed.

Rene Wadlow

Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World
Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status
with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international
cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Tune with the Infinite : A New Thought influence on Gandhian nonviolence

Rene Wadlow*

2 October has been proclaimed by the UN
General Assembly as the International Day for Nonviolence, setting the
day appropriately on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi
drew on a variety of thinkers to develop his approach to nonviolence:
the Jain convictions of his mother, the later writings of Leo Tolstoy,
Edwin Arnold, author of a verse biography of the Buddha The Light of Asia whom Gandhi knew when he was a law student in London, and the writings of the American New Thought writer Ralph Waldo Trune.

When Gandhi returned to India from his work in
South Africa in January 1915, he was known among the political elite of
India for his South African campaigns, but he was not part of any
existing Indian organization and had no political base of his own. He
was confronted with three basic facts of life: First, the world was at
war and English troops were heavily engaged.

Secondly, the British administration in India (who
also governed what is now Burma, decision-making being done from
Calcutta), were preoccupied with stability and not with the nature of
colonial decentralization. A fairly liberal Indian Council Act of 1909
had given some aspects of representative government at the level of
provincial governments and most British administrators thought that this
was "going far enough for the moment."

Thirdly, the one major Indian national political
movement, the Indian National Congress, founded in 1885 by the English
Theosophist, A.O. Hume, former high administrator who died in 1915 just
as Gandhi returned, was made up of elite, educated Indians such as its
later President of Congress, Motilal Nehru, father of Jawaharlal Nehru
but with little impact among the Indian masses.

As in South Africa, with Tolstoy Farm, Gandhi began
his work in India with the creation of an ashram, a small intimate
community in which life could be disciplined both on a spiritual and a
physical level. Some of the members of the ashram were relatives and
others had been with Gandhi in South Africa. Life consisted of a routine
of prayer with reading of scriptures of different faiths, singing and
talks, of manual labour, of social service to nearby villages and
training in non-violence. Ashrams are part of religious life in India,
but it must be noted that none of the Hindu religious leaders who had
their own ashrams joined Gandhi's non-violent efforts, nor invited
Gandhi to join them. Gandhi became a Mahatma - a great soul - to
ordinary Indians and to Indian intellectuals such as Rabindranath
Tagore, who was the first to publicly use the term, but not to Hindu
religious leaders.

At the ashram, Gandhi steadily Hinduized his public
persona and his manner of life. He quoted from Hindu
religious-political reformers such as the founder of the Arya Samaj,
Dayanand Saraswati (1824 -1883) and the Bengali reformer Vivekananda
(1863-1902) who was one of the first Indian religious leaders to go to
the USA. Gandhi spent nearly 15 years in preparation for the March 1930
Salt March, Gandhi's first large public nonviolent effort in India, in
training his close followers, in developing contacts throughout the
country and in trying to understand the issues which would move people
to action.

It is from his Satyagraha Ashram that Gandhi at
sixty-one years of age set out for the Salt March, early morning of
1March after a long evening prayer meeting at which some 2000 people
participated. Gandhi closed by saying to his band of 79 marchers, "I
have faith in our cause and the purity of our weapons... God bless you all
and keep off all obstacles from the path in the struggle that begins
tomorrow. Let this be out prayer."

Gandhi had been for some months before March
thinking about what issue he could select around which to organize a
campaign of non-violence that would have national significance, would be
meaningful to many Indians and send a strong signal to the British
administrators that their rule would no longer be tolerated. The
decision-making body of the Congress Party with which Gandhi had an
on-again-off-again relationship called the "Working Group" had met for a
week over New Year's Day, 1930. Gandhi drew up a grab bag of eleven
demands around which he thought that Congress could organize non-violent
campaigns. The first was the total prohibition of making and drinking
alcohol and the eleventh was that Indians should be able to buy fire
arms, there being a total prohibition on the sale of fire arms. Among
the eleven demands was the abolition of the Salt Tax. The Working Group
thought that the non-payment of taxes could be done without violence but
had no idea as to how to carry this out in a dramatic way. Gandhi
returned to his ashram and kept largely to himself in meditation. Then,
as Gandhi later wrote, the answer came to him "like a flash".

The importance of intuition - of ideas that come as
a flash once the form has been created in another dimension - came to
Gandhi largely through the writings of the American New Thought writer
Ralph Waldo Trine (1866-1958). His parents were from New England and
named him after Emerson.

Kathryn Tidrich has written an interesting new biography of Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life
(London: I.B.Tauris, 2006, 380pp.). Tidrich puts the accent on the
spiritual and intellectual contacts that Gandhi had when a law student
in London and in his years as a lawyer and non-violent activist in South
Africa. She highlights the friendship with Edward Maitland and Gandhi's
connections with the Esoteric Christian Union founded by Anna Kingsford
and Maitland in 1891. It is probably Maitland who introduced Gandhi to
the writings of Ralph Waldo Trine.

It is from Trine's writings that Gandhi
received the term "soul power or soul force " - the term Gandhi used as a
translation into English of his Indian term satyagraha. Satyagraha is more often translated today by the term nonviolence, but there was already in use in India the term ahimsa- a meaning non and hinsa, violence. Gandhi wanted another term that was more active, and he took from Trine the term soul force.

As Kathryn Tidrich notes "All Trine's books
contained the same message: spiritual power - also termed 'thought
power' and 'soul power' - could be acquired by making oneself one with
God, who was immanent, through love and service to one's fellow men ...The
Christ he followed was one familiar to Gandhi - the supreme spiritual
exemplar who showed men the way to union with the divine essence. Trine
promised that the true seeker, fearless and forgetful of self-interest,
will be so filled with the power of God working through him that 'as he
goes here and there, he can continually send out influences of the most
potent and powerful nature that will reach the uttermost parts of the
world."

Gandhi seems to have remained interested in Trine. He read his My Philosophy and My Religion (1921)
in Yeravda jail in 1923, and in 1933, as he recovered from his 21-day
fast for self-purification, he observed that the fast had sprung from 'a
yearning of the soul to merge in the divine essence. How far I have
succeeded, how far I am in tune with the Infinite, I do not know.' In Tune with the Infinite was the title of Trine's best known book. In Tune With the Infinite or Fullness of Peace, Power, and Plenty (New York: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1899, 175pp.)

For Trine, thought was the way that a person came
into tune with the Infinite. "Each is building his own world. We both
build from within and we attract from without. Thought is the force with
which we build, for thoughts are forces. Like builds like and like
attracts like. In the degree that thought is spiritualized does it
become more subtle and powerful in its workings. This spiritualizing is
in accordance with law and is within the power of all.

"Everything is first worked out in the unseen
before it is manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized
in the real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material. The
realm of the unseen is the realm of cause. The realm of the seen is the
realm of effect. The nature of effect is always determined and
conditioned by the nature of its cause.

"The great central fact in human life is coming
into a conscious vital realization of our oneness with this infinite
Life, and the opening of ourselves fully to this divine inflow. In just
the degree that we come into a conscious realization of our oneness with
the Infinite Life, and open ourselves to this divine inflow, do we
actualize in ourselves the qualities and powers of the Infinite Life, do
we make ourselves channels through which the Infinite Intelligence and
Power can work. In just the degree in which you realize your oneness
with the Infinite Spirit, you will exchange disease for ease, inharmony
for harmony, suffering and pain for abounding health and strength."

For Gandhi, the Salt Tax, because unjust and
touching especially the poor, had already been abolished within what
Trine called "the realm of cause". Gandhi had the intuition to see that
salt was then freely available for all who would take it from the sea of
life (either the actual sea or from rock salt on land). Into the realm
of effect one had to walk to manifest this change, and so the march to
the Dandi beach on the Gulf of Camby began.

*Rene Wadlow, president and a representative to the UN,Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens

 

 

 


 

 

 

World Food Day: A Focus on Food Security in Yemen

BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS

 

, 10 October 2016

Rene Wadlow - TRANSCEND Media Service

René Wadlow

 

16 October
is World Food Day, so designated by the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization - a yearly reminder that there are people who
are constantly hungry due to inadequate agricultural methods, poor
distribution, poor food storage, and armed conflict.

A central theme which citizens of the world have long stressed is that there needs to be a  world food
policy and that a world food policy is more than the sum of national
food security programs. World food security has too often been treated
as a collection of national security initiatives. Yet for the
formulation of a dynamic world food policy, world economic trends and
structures need to be studied, and policy goals made clear. There needs
to be a detailed analysis of the role of speculation in the rise of food
commodity prices. Banks and hedge funds, having lost money in the real
estate mortgage packages, are now investing massively in commodities. 
For the moment, there is little government regulation of this
speculation. There needs to be an analysis of these financial flows and
their impact on the price of grains.

A world food policy for the welfare of all
requires a close look at world institutions, patterns of production and
trade. As Stringfellow Barr wrote in his 1952 book Citizens of the World "Since
the hungry billion in the world community believe that we can all eat
if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust
that some men die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to
live."

However, in addition to setting out a
broad, comprehensive world food policy, attention must be given to
national and local issues of food production, distribution, and food
security.  Attention needs to be given to cultural factors, the division
of labor between women and men in agriculture and rural development, in
marketing local food products, to the role of small farmers, to the
conditions of landless agricultural labor, and to land-holding patterns.
There is also a need to look at the longer-range consequences of
climate change on agricultural production.

While on some issues of food and
agriculture there can be legitimate differences of opinion as to
techniques of improvement, there is no doubt that war and armed
conflicts have a negative impact on food production and food security.
Yemen is a sharp example, and this year's World Food Day needs to focus
on Yemen. There is a double need: one is to bring in food aid in safe
conditions; the second is to re-start negotiations to bring the armed
conflict and Saudi-led intervention to an end.

As a result of Saudi bombing raids,
started on 24 March 2015, Yemen's underdeveloped socio-economic
infrastructure has been largely destroyed. Even prior to the start of
the bombing raids, Yemen was already a poor country which needed to
import much of its agricultural and food supplies. The fighting among
Yemeni factions and the bombing raids have led to the displacement of
many people and thus the abandonment of agricultural areas. The fighting
has led to the creation of hard-to-reach zones. The United Nations
Office of Humanitarian Affairs has estimated that some 14 million people
in Yemen are suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition with cases
of severe malnutrition.

There is wide agreement in UN circles that
Yemen is in a quagmire, with the free-fall of its economy, a collapse
and destruction of its health services, its food imports blocked, and
humanitarian aid workers unable to reach safely large areas of the
country.

Thus World Food Day this year must be a
constant reminder of the link between armed conflict, poverty and food
insecurity. Yemen is a living reminder of the need for concerted action
for resolving armed conflicts.

____________________________________

René Wadlow, a member of the
Fellowship of Reconciliation and of its Task Force on the Middle East,
is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association
of World Citizens and 
editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment

 

 

 

Ending Marginalization and Exclusion

Ending Marginalization and Exclusion
by Rene Wadlow
2016-10-17 11:10:37

17 October
was set by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 47/196 as
the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  October 17 was
chosen as the anniversary of a 17 October 1987 meeting in front of the
Trocadero in Paris near where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
was signed in 1948.  The 1987 meeting was called as a reminder that the
victims of extreme poverty, hunger and violence do not enjoy the rights
that are set out in the Universal Declaration.

pov01_400_02

In some ways the
1987 meeting is an indication of how long ideas and values take to be
institutionalized in the world society.  It took nearly 40 years for
awareness to grow that there were people who fell outside the
development and welfare provisions of governments. It took another four
years for that awareness to be enshrined in a General Assembly
resolution.  Nevertheless, we must be thankful for resolutions which
highlight the obvious. We can build upon that awareness and the
resolution.

Somewhere along the
line of the growing awareness that poverty exists came the realization
that the eradication of poverty was not only the concern of governments
but also of the poor and marginalized themselves. To use the most
commonly-used image: poverty reduction is not only a "top-down" effort
(governments toward citizens) but also a "bottom-up" process (of the
poor toward the holders of wealth and the governmental
decision-makers.)  Thus today, there is an awareness that the
marginalized sections of society should be involved in the
decision-making process which determines the socio-cultural, economic,
and political life of the State. This awareness is often termed "popular
participation", "community organizing" and "grass-roots organizations."

As an Asian Committee for People's Organization states in its manual for organizers Organizing People for Power "It
is the oppressors who, after all, control corporate decision-making,
the government apparatus, the media, and the police.  Although the
people vastly outnumber the oppressors, in their disorganized conditions
they lack the power to oppose their enemy.  By themselves, the poor
farmers, workers or slum dwellers are no match for the oppressors in
terms of money or resources...The transfer of power from the hands of
the oppressors to those of the oppressed is not easily accomplished at
one fell swoop.  Part of the difficulty lies in the 'culture of silence'
that has been inculcated into the people's consciousness by centuries
of domination.   By slow degrees, the oppressed have internalized a
subservient mentality that is reinforced by their daily
experience.  They find it difficult to see their liberation in terms of
their own strength, and look instead outside themselves to an external
force to come and save them.  The oppressed cannot imagine that the
power they await lies within them, and therefore, they lapse into a
state of passivity awaiting liberation from heaven or a messianic
leader."

However, there are
growing efforts by which people are released from their culture of
silence and demand a meaningful participation in society through
socio-economic projects which enhance their bargaining power. Such
approaches involve tensions and conflicts, but conflicts can have a
potential for creativity. As a set of notes for workers engaged in rural
development and adult education written by the Xavier Institute of
Social Service in Ranchi, India states "Projects should be the result of
a process where people have perceived the need for them.  This will
require a clear-cut vision and manifestation of a just
society.  Projects can be undertaken as instruments for social
transformation, and development programmes must make the conscious
effort to translate these projects into useful tools to hasten the
establishment of a just society."

wc00

Today, different
social conditions, identities, religious beliefs shape our one
humanity.  We share the responsibility to ensure the dignity of each
individual.  We need to find creative ways of ending marginalization and
exclusion of groups and individuals. 17 October should stand as a time
of re-dedication to finding creative paths to this goal.

 **********************************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

 

UN Day: Changing of the Guard

By Rene Wadlow

UN Day, 24 October, this year is marked by
preparations for a changing of the guard. The ten years of Ban Ki-moon
as Secretary-General will give way on one January 2017 to the new
Secretary- General, Antonio Guterres, who was during the same ten-year
period the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. As with the changing of
the guard in front of a palace or national monument, the persons change
but the guards have the same uniform.

Ban Ki-moon brought his long experience in
South Korean diplomacy and a certain non-confrontational Asian style -
somewhat similar to that of the Berman U Thant- to the UN. (1) The major
road marks of UN action during his leadership of the organization were
related to socio-economic development: the setting of the 2015-2030
Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Both agreements are important and needed a good deal of "behind the
meeting hall" efforts to reach consensus. However development goals and
anti-poverty measures have been relatively the same since the early
1960s when the former African colonies joined the UN. As has been said,
setting goals is relatively simple, reaching them is more difficult.

Development is at the heart of the UN system -
the UN and its programmes and the major Specialized Agencies (FAO, ILO,
WHO, UNESCO) as well as the two financial bodies (the World Bank and
the IMF). There are issues of coordination and overlap of tasks, but
basically the development efforts continue with few changes.

The same steady continuation can be said to
be true of the UN's human rights efforts. The international norms have
been set, but the UN Secretariat has relatively few ways of control or
pressure on what member States do in the human rights field. In keeping
with the development focus of the UN system, there has been a somewhat
greater emphasis on socio-economic rights and the fight against poverty,
but most of these goals had also been set earlier.

The reputation of the UN Secretary General
most often rests on peace-making and conflict resolution. The UN was
designed in 1945 as a bulwark against invasion of one State by another
on the model of the Second World War. In today's world, security is more
often threatened rather by forces acting trans-nationally such as ISIS
or by the internal disintegration of a State on the model of Somalia. On
the "peace front" there have been no breakthroughs or radical
improvements under Ban Ki-moon. There has been some increase in combined
UN-regional organization- basically the African Union - peace-keeping
missions, but with little increased impact on armed conflict resolution.
UN military can keep people apart by controlling a road as they do in
the Central African Republic, but the military can do little to bring
people together which requires non-military skills and techniques.


The leadership of Antonio Guterres as High Commissioner for Refugees was
appreciated by many in the UN system. He faced an unprecedented flow of
refugees without the funds necessary nor much cooperation from
governments. He was confronted with the need to deal with the armed
conflicts which cause the refugee flows. He was able to develop strong
cooperation with non-governmental organizations which are at the heart
of work with refugees, their care and their re-settlement. He had good
working relations with his staff as well as with the diplomatic milieu.

Thus many of us who have close relations with
the UN system have high hopes for the role that Antonio Guterres will
play. The UN in New York has recently taken the comic strip character of
Wonder Woman as a role model for the equality and dynamism of women.
Unfortunately, there are no Wonder Woman or Superman in real UN life.
Overly high expectations of what one individual can accomplish can lead
to disappointment. We must accompany Antonio Guterres with our
encouragement, but more important, we need to see how non-governmental
organizations can facilitate reaching UN goals.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

South Sudan: Limits of UN Peacekeeping

 BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS

 

, 7 November 2016

Rene Wadlow - TRANSCEND Media Service

René Wadlow

 

5 Nov 2016 - The
appropriately named UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is in crisis. In
fact, it has been a miss from the start as foreign military are not the
ideal agents for "State building".  South Sudan is not a "failed State";
it is a State only as an international fiction as developing a
functioning, pluralistic Sudanese State after decades of civil war was
impossible.

There have been two phases to the Sudanese
civil war. The first phase (1954-1972) had begun on the eve of
Independence and ended with negotiations facilitated by the All-African
Conference of Churches.  The 1972-1982 decade was one of relative peace,
but the decade was not used to heal the divisions or to work out forms
of government, administration and legal systems that would be acceptable
to all segments of Sudanese society.  International attention on Sudan
had diminished once the 1972 peace agreement was signed, and warning
signals that all was not well were ignored internationally. Thus in 1982
southern soldiers who had been integrated into the national army
revolted, and the second phase of the civil war continued from 1983
until the end of 2004. In 2003 began the armed conflict in Darfur,
western Sudan and continues to this day. However, the Darfur conflict is
only indirectly related to the North-South civil war.

During the 2005-2011 period there was an
effort to create a Government of National Unity, a central government in
Khartoum but with a largely autonomous Government of South Sudan ruling
in the south. The linchpin of the 2005 peace agreement was that after
five years, a referendum would be held in which the citizens of southern
Sudan would have the options of continuing the con-federal system put
in place by the peace agreement, of modifying it in way not set out, or
of succession, thus creating a new independent State of South Sudan.
When the peace agreement was being painfully hammered out over several
years of on-again-off-again negotiations, many hoped that the southern
Sudanese would vote to continue the con-federal form of government
which, after five years, would be seen to be working and bringing
benefits to the peoples of both north and south.

The historic leader of south Sudan, John
Garang de Mabior, was installed as first vice-president of the
Government of National Unity, and he spoke of his hope for a con-federal
but "New Sudan".  Although Garang had spent most of his life as a
military commander, he had a PhD in agriculture from a US university and
so had some feeling for the difficulties of establishing an
ecologically-sound agriculture. We had had several long discussions on
federal forms of government during a week-long visit to Geneva in 1999
of Garang and his close co-workers.

Unfortunately, just as he was made first
vice-president of the Unity Government, he died on 30 July 2005 in the
crash of Ugandan military helicopter on his return from a meeting with
the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni. As with many strong African
personalities, Garang had no entourage of strong, competent persons to
take over leadership positions. Salva Kiir Mayardit, a long-time
military companion of Garang in the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement
(SPLM) had been chosen by Garang as his second-in-command, knowing that
Kiir would take no personal initiatives.  On Garang's death, Kiir was
named President of South Sudan and first vice-president of the
Government of National Unity.

There had been little improvement in the
standard of living of the people in south Sudan since 2005 while there
had been a showy development of Khartoum with many new Chinese-built
buildings and roads. Thus the people of the south had seen few positive
benefits from the con-federal system.  Many in the south hoped that as
an independent State more of the revenues from the sale of oil to China
and other Asian countries would come their way. Thus, in the referendum,
the south voted to become an independent State. The Association of
World Citizens had been asked by the Sudanese government to be one of
the election observers, and we sent a five-person team.  The voting
itself was relatively fair, but voting is only the first step in
State-building. Kiir continued as President, and taking a big gamble,
took Rick Machar, a rival "war lord" as his vice-president.

President Kiir is a Dinka and Machar is a
Nuer.  The Dinka and the Nuer provided much of the southern leadership
and fighters during the civil war.(1) By July 2013, the two leaders
split, not so much because of their ethnic identities but over how to
divide the wealth and aid money between them. However, they dragged into
their split their two separate ethnic groups which began fighting,
causing large refugee and displaced-persons movements. Among the Nuer,
the Dinka and the Murle of South Sudan, Kalashnikovs have replaced
spears, and the limits on violence against women and children have
largely disappeared.  Traditional taboos against killing women, children
and the aged broke down during he civil war, and after 1991, the taboos
no longer held in south-south fighting.

The United Nations has had a peacekeeping
mission in South Sudan - some 12,500 persons - since before the 2011
independence. Troops, international, regional or national, can sometimes
restore "calm" but they rarely deal with the fundamental causes of
tensions. Other agents are needed to develop the economic and social
capacity of the State and to build bridges among communities.

In July 2016, South Sudanese troops
rampaged through the capital Juba  killing, looting and raping. Aid
workers in a hotel near the UN compound were brutally attacked, and the
UN troops did not respond to their cries for help. While there have been
many abuses and failures in areas with fewer international observers or
the media, the July attacks were in the center of the capital city.

The U.N. was under pressure to investigate
and it set up an independent investigation. The report stressed that
the U.N. force was badly disorganized and lacked leadership. Basically,
the U.N. troops did not want to get shot at by people who also had
guns.  On 1 November 2016, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
requested that Lieutenant-General Johnson Ondieki, the Kenyan force
commander be replaced as soon as possible.  The Kenyan Ministry of
Foreign Affairs replied accusing the U.N. of using Ondieki as a
scapegoat and announced that it would withdraw all its forces - some
1000 soldiers - from South Sudan.

As a new U.N. Secretary-General takes his post on 1 January 2017,
the UNMISS report may open a door to a serious consideration of the
role and limits of U.N. troops and of the need for other categories of
conflict-resolution workers.

NOTE:

(1) The classic study on the Nuer is E.E. Evans-Prichard The Nuer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940). For a more recent study see Sharon E. Hutchinson. Nuer Dilemmas: Coping with Money, War and the State(Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1996). Also see Sharon E. Hutchinson
and Jok Modut Jok " Gendered Violence and the Militarisation of
Ethnicity: A case from South Sudan" in Richard Werbner (Ed)Postcolonial Subjectivities in Africa (London: Zed Press, 2002.

_____________________________________

René Wadlow is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment


 

 

 

 

Robert Muller (11 March 1923 – 20 Sept 2010): Crossing Frontiers for Reconciliation

 

14 March 2016

Rene Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

“The time has come for the implementation of a spiritual vision of the world’s affairs. The entire planet must elevate itself into the spiritual, cosmic throbbing of the universe.”
Robert Muller (1923-2010)

          Robert Muller, whose birth anniversary we mark on 11 March, was the former Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Service of the United Nations, and, after his retirement, he served as Honorary President of the Association of World Citizens. He was brought up in Alsace-Lorraine still marked by the results of the First World War.   As a young man, he joined the French Resistance movement during the Second World War when Alsace-Lorraine had been re-annexed by Germany. At the end of the War, he earned a Doctorate in Law and Economics at the University of Strasbourg. Strasbourg was to become the city symbolic of French-German reconciliation and is today home of the European Parliament.

Determined to work for peace having seen the destructive impact of war, he joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1948 where he worked primarily on economic and social issues. For many years, he was the Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. His work with ECOSOC brought him into close contact with NGOs whose work he always encouraged

In 1970, he joined the cabinet of the then Secretary-General U Thant, who was Secretary-General from 1961 to 1971.   U Thant had a deep impact on the thinking of Robert Muller. U Thant’s inner motivations were inspired by a holistic philosophy drawn from his understanding of Buddhism, by an intensive personal discipline and by a sense of compassions for humans. U Thant had been promoted to his UN post by the military leaders of Burma who feared that had he stayed in the country, he would have opposed their repressive measures and economic incompetence. Although U Thant was reserved in expressing his spiritual views in public speeches, he was much more willing to discuss ideas and values with his inner circle of colleagues. U Thant held that “the trouble of our times is that scientific and technological progress has been so rapid that moral and spiritual development has not been able to keep up with it.”

Muller agreed with U Thant’s analysis. As Muller was a good public speaker, he often expressed these views both in UN meetings and in addresses to NGOs and other public meetings. Muller became increasingly interested in the views of the French Jesuit philosopher Pierrre Teihard de Chardin who had lived his last years of his life in New York City. For Teihard, as he wrote in Phenomenon of Man “No longer will man be able to see himself unrelated to mankind neither will he be able to see mankind unrelated to life, nor life unrelated to the universe.”

Muller saw the UN as a prime instrument for developing a sense of humanity as all members of one human family and for relating humans to the broader community of life and Nature. As Muller wrote “We are entering one of the most fascinating and challenging areas of human evolution. In order to win this new battle for civilization, we must be able to rely upon a vastly increased number of people with a world view. We need world managers and servers in many fields.”

I had the pleasure of knowing Robert Muller well as he was often in Geneva for his UN economic and social work and, at that time, had a home in France near Geneva, where he did much of his writing. Muller was also deeply influenced by the thinking of another Alsatian, Albert Schweitzer who had also spent most of his life outside France. I had known Albert Schweitzer when I was working for the Ministry of Education of Gabon in the early 1960s. Both Schweitzer and I, influenced by Norman Cousins, had been active against A-Bomb tests in the atmosphere, and so I had been welcomed for discussions at the hospital in Lambaréné. For Muller, Schweitzer with his philosophy of reverence for life and the need for a spiritual – cultural renewal was a fellow world citizen and a model of linking thought and action.

For Muller, the UN was the bridge that helped to cross frontiers and hopefully to develop reconciliation through a common vision of needs and potential for action.

Notes:

For two autobiographic books, see Robert Muller. What War Taught Me About Peace (New York: Doubleday ) and Robert Muller. Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness (New York: Doubleday, 1978)

_______________________________________

René Wadlow is president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

 

 
  Adlai Stevenson: Reducing Strife Without Eliminating Variety
by Rene Wadlow
 

At a time when the narrow nationalism of Donald Trump, expressed in semi-literate style, fills the US media, we can only look back in sadness at the internationalism expressed in an elegant and humerus way by Adlai Stevenson whose birth anniversary we mark on 5 February. Adlai Stevenson was among those who prepared the conference to write the UN Charter during 1944-1945 and later from 1961 to 1965 was the US Ambassador to the United Nations. His clear writing and speaking style had gained national and international attention during his campaign for US President in 1952 and 1956, both times against the World War II general Dwight D. Eisenhower who was easily elected twice.

Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) came from a politically prominent family in Illinois.  His grandfather, also called Adlai, was the US Vice President under Grover Cleveland from 1893-1897.  Cleveland was a moderately progressive president at a time of general economic prosperity. “A good man in a bad trade” wrote the journalist-editor H. L. Mencken. The first Adlai Stevenson benefited from the image. The second Adlai Stevenson studied at Princeton University on the advice given him by Woodrow Wilson, a friend of his father, graduating in 1922. He then took a law degree at Northwestern Law School near Chicago.

As a young lawyer, he went to Washington DC when President Franklin Roosevelt was creating his “New Deal” institutions. Stevenson worked for the Agricultural Adjustment Agency, newly created to deal with serious economic problems of US farmers. After four years of administration on domestic issues, he returned to Illinois to work with his father who was the publisher of a well-known Illinois newspaper. It was at this time, when war clouds were gathering in Europe that he turned his attention to international affairs.

He became a member of the executive committee of the World Citizens Association, created in 1939 under the leadership of Quincy Wright, professor of international law at the University of Chicago and of Henri Bonnet, who had been the Director of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations from its inception until 1931 when  he became a professor of international relations in Paris. In the late 1930s, Bonnet had moved to New York to teach and to be active in international efforts for peace. The aim of the World Citizens Association was “to develop the world community's awareness of itself so that eventually a world order may be evolved in which races, nations and cultural associations may be harmonized, thus reducing strife without eliminating variety; and to cultivate by all means in its power the habit of looking at problems from the world point of view.”

Unfortunately the clouds of war burst before the world community was harmonized. Stevenson was called to Washington to be the head lawyer of the Department of the Navy. However by 1944, work began on what would become the organization of the United Nations, and Stevenson was called to be part of the US team which was to write the UN Charter.  As he later wrote “I recall vividly the fears and hopes which filled and inspired us as a second world war ended − fears and hopes which brought us together in an attempt to insure that such a world catastrophe would never again occur.  We labored long and diligently; we tried to take into account the interests of all states; we attempted to subordinate narrow national interests to the broad common good.” He participated in the General Assembly sessions of 1946 and 1947, but he had already returned to Illinois to help edit his father's newspaper and to start law practice.

In the 1930s, politics in large US cities were run by what were called “political machines” - a combination of political leaders who would trade votes for small services to voters − getting a person a city job, paying back rent etc.  By controlling a large city, a political machine had a strong influence on state politics.  This was true of many states and was especially true for Illinois where the Democratic Party machine which held Chicago had a large influence on Illinois state politics.  Machine politics were rightly regarded as having few political ideas beyond holding power, and there was usually a good deal of corruption − the use of public funds for personal gain.

The Chicago political machine had a particularly bad reputation for corruption and manipulation of ethnic groups. At the end of World War II, many people in the USA wanted to see reflected in domestic politics some of the ideals that had been expressed during the war − democracy, respect for the individual, fairness in public administration. The Chicago machine felt that it needed a few “new faces” who had not been in machine politics before.  Paul Douglas, a liberal economics professor at the University of Chicago who had a fine record in combat during the war was chosen to run for US Senator and Adlai Stevenson for Governor of Illinois, though neither had held political office before.  Both were elected in the 1948 elections on a wave of demands for political reform.  Both Douglas and Stevenson were reform minded and eloquent speakers who attracted the attention of newspapers.(1)

1950 saw the start of the war in Korea, and there was a growing fear among US voters that the US-USSR Cold War which had started in 1945 and hardened in 1948 was going to be a permanent part of world politics. Of the possible candidates for President from the Democratic Party, none had experience in dealing with international issues. The two most likely candidates to succeed Harry Truman, Richard Russell and Estes Kefauver, both from the South, where known only for their positions on domestic issues.

Truman pushed for Stevenson to be the Democratic Party candidate, and although Stevenson had indicated a desire to have a second term as governor, he accepted to run against Eisenhower.  Eisenhower was unbeatable, given his role in the Second World War and then as commander of NATO forces.  He had the sort of foreign policy experience that many Americans felt was necessary to counter the USSR.  On domestic issues, Eisenhower had few views; what views he did express fitted a “middle of the road” ideology held by many.

Stevenson ran against Eisenhower in the 1956 election, and again lost by a large number of votes.  When not running for President, Stevenson practiced law in a powerful law firm with offices in Chicago, Washington and New York. It was when John F. Kennedy succeeded Eisenhower as President that Stevenson returned to the international affairs scene. Kennedy appointed Stevenson as the US Ambassador to the UN.  Although Stevenson had relatively little say in setting over-all US foreign policy, he was very effective at the UN. His calm eloquence fitted the diplomatic milieu better than the hurly burly of campaigning with appeals to crowds and shacking many hands of people never to be seen again.

Within the limits set by being the representative of a national government, Stevenson conserved the “habit of looking at problems from the world point of view.” 

 ******************************************** 

Notes

For Paul Douglas see: Paul Douglas. In the Fullness of Time. The Memoires of Paul H. Douglas (New York: Harcourt Brace Jananovich, 1971)

For Adlai Stevenson written by a close aide see: John Bartlow Martin. Adlai Stevenson and the World (New York: Doubleday, 1977)

 ********************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

World Interfaith Harmony Week

Rene Wadlow

 

We are here that we may elucidate the divine elements in the human spirit

Walter Rathenau

 

The first week of February is a United Nations-designated World Interfaith Harmony Week first celebrated at the UN in 2012. The Week arose from a resolution proposed by Jordan and adopted unanimously on 20 October 2010. The resolution recalls the UN efforts promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence and the importance of the “Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.” As the then Deputy Secretary-General Aska-Rose Migino said at the first celebration “Although faith is the glue that often bonds communities and cultures around the world, it is too often used as an excuse to emphasize differences and deepen divisions. Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples.”

 

There has always been a hope that understanding among leaders of different religious communities would lead to peace and cooperation. One of the early efforts was planned and convened by Akbar, the Mogul emperor of India. In 1578, he built the 'Tarda-Khana' (House of Discussion) and on Thursday evenings in the winter months he presided over meetings at which were gathered representatives of the religions of India.

 

Closer to our time, the first session of the World's Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago for 17 days in September 1893 and ended with the 4,000 participants chanting “Peace on earth, good-will to men.” Vivekananda in his address saw an end to “sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism...I fervently hope that the bell that toiled this morning in honor of this convention, be the death-knell to all fanaticism, to all persecution with the sword or the pen, and to all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal”. (1)

 

After all the destruction of the First World War and the creation of the League of Nations, the Church Peace Union founded by Andrew Carnegie held a 1928 multi-faith congress in Geneva with representatives of religions and secretariat staff of the League

to devise means by which men of all religious faiths may work together to remove existing obstacles to peace; to stimulate international cooperation for peace and the triumph of right; to secure international justice, to increase goodwill, and thus to bring about in all the world a fuller realization of the brotherhood of man.”

 

The Chinese Confucian delegate Dr Chen Huang-Chang stressed that “There are divisions of territories, but not of peoples as all people belong to one family. Therefore, peoples of the world, irrespective of their nationalities, should migrate freely, and should not be excluded by any nation. This is a fundamental means of unifying the whole world.”

 

The representative of the Religious Association of Japan, Professor T. Tomoeda, presented a resolution from a 1928 Japanese Religious Congress which stated “International peace is the fundamental condition for the welfare of mankind. The League of Nations is the most effective machinery to bring about this condition. The Congress considers that all Governments should endeavor to settle international problems by international cooperation based upon a diplomacy animated by the principles and spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations.” (2)

 

It has been said that courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'. The process of making peace requires a spirit of reconciliation, a genuine intention to search for a common ground. Religious organizations, as governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations, are often deadlocked in a 'dialogue of the deaf' unless we advance our means of communication so as to respect the fears and needs of others.

 

Today, we are faced with the challenge of creating a global world community based on a sense, in a large number of people, of an identification as citizens of the world. In the past, tribal membership, national affiliation, racial affinity, and religious community have all shown themselves capable of creating a sense of identity which enables individuals to move beyond individual egocentrism. However, often these identities have been built by stressing an “us-together” against a “them-over there” mentality. My tribe excludes others by definition of what my tribe is. Today, we also see a religious 'tribal-nationalism' which strengths a 'us/them' division. It will not be easy to move beyond these confrontations. The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides us with the opportunity for a realistic look at the steps to be taken.

Notes

1)Minot J. Savage The World's Congress of Religions (Boston: Arena Publishing Co. 1893)

2) The Church Peace Union. The World's Religions Against War (New York: Church Peace Union, 1928)

 

 

 

 

UN-designated day for developing awareness of human trafficking

    Rene Wadlow*

11 January has been designated by the UN General Assembly as a day to develop awareness of human trafficking.  Awareness has been growing, but effective remedies are slow and uncoordinated.  Effective remedies are often not accessible to victims of trafficking owing to gaps between setting international standards, enacting national laws and then implementation in a humane way.

The international standards have been set out in the “United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” and its “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.” The Convention and the Protocol standards are strengthened by the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.”  The world-wide standards have been reaffirmed by regional legal frameworks such as the “Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.”

Despite clear international and regional standards, there is poor implementation, limited government resources and infrastructure dedicated to the issue, a tendency to criminalize victims and restrictive immigration policies in many countries.

Trafficking in persons is often linked to networks trafficking in drugs and arms.  Some gangs  are involved in all three ; in other cases agreements are made to specialize and not expand into the specialty of other criminal networks.  These networks often act with a high degree of impunity from government services.

Basically there are three sources of trafficking in persons.  The first are refugees from armed conflicts.  Refugees are covered by the Refugee Conventions supervised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country of first asylum.  Thus Syrian refugees are protected and helped by the UNHCR in Lebanon, but not if they leave Lebanon.  As ¼ of the population of Lebanon are now refugees from the conflicts in Syria, the Lebanese government is increasingly placing restrictions on Syrian’s possibility to work in Lebanon, to receive schooling, medical services, proper housing etc.  Thus many Syrians try to leave Lebanon or Turkey to find a better life in Western Europe.  Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan follow the same pattern.

The second category are people leaving their country for economic reasons − sometimes called “economic refugees.”  Migration for better jobs and a higher standard of living has a long history.  Poverty, ethnic and racial discrimination, and gender-based discrimination are all factors in people seeking to change countries.  With ever-tighter immigration policies in many countries and with a popular “backlash” against migrants in some countries, would-be migrants turn to “passers” − individuals or groups that try to take migrants into a country, avoiding legal controls.

A third category − or a subcategory of economic migration − is the sex trade, usually of women but also children.  As a Human Rights Watch study of the Japanese “sex-entertainment” businesses notes “There are an estimated 150,000 non-Japanese women employed in the Japanese sex industry, primarily from other Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philippines.  These women are typically employed in the lower rungs of the industry either in ‘dating’ snack bars or in low-end brothels, in which customers pay for short periods of eight or fifteen minutes.  Abuses are common as job brokers and employers take advantage of foreign women’s vulnerability as undocumented migrants: they cannot seek recourse from the police or other law enforcement authorities without risking deportation and potential prosecution, and they are isolated by language barriers, a lack of community, and a lack of familiarity with their surroundings.”  We find similar patterns in many countries.

The scourge of trafficking in persons will continue to grow unless strong counter measures are taken.  Basically, police and governments worldwide do not place a high priority on the fight against trafficking unless illegal migration becomes a media issue.

Thus real progress needs to be made through non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  There are four aspects to this anti-trafficking effort.  The first is to help build political will by giving accurate information to political leaders and the press.  The other three aspects depend on the efforts of the NGOs themselves.  Such efforts call for increased cooperation among NGOs and capacity building.

The second aspect is research into the geographic areas from which children and women are trafficked.  These are usually the poorest parts of a country and among marginalized populations.  Socio-economic and educational development projects must be directed to these areas so that there are realistic avenues for advancement.

The third aspect is the development of housing and of women’s shelters to ensure that persons who have been able to leave exploitive situations have temporary housing and other necessary services.

The fourth aspect is psychological healing.  Very often women and children who have been trafficked into the sex trades have a disrupted or violent family and have a poor idea of their self-worth. This is also often true of refugees from armed conflict. Thus, it is important to create opportunities for individual and group healing, to give a spiritual dimension to the person through teaching meditation and yoga.  There are needs for creating adult education facilities so that people may continue a broken education cycle. There are NGOs who are already working along these lines.  Their efforts need to be encouraged and expanded.

 


Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

 

 

Wibisono’s Resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine

6 Jan

th

 

Commentary on the Resignation of Makarim Wibisono

 

(Prefatory Note: This post appeared on January 5th under a different title in the Electronic Intifada. It is published here in a slightly modified and extended form).

 

Makarim Wibisono announced his resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, to take effect on March 31, 2016. This is position I held for six years, completing my second term in June 2014.

 

The prominent Indonesian diplomat says that he could not fulfill his mandate because Israel has adamantly refused to give him access to the Palestinian people living under its military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” Wibisono explains.

 

His resignation reminds me in a strange way of Richard Goldstone’s retraction a few years ago of the main finding in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report, that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in the course of Operation Cast Lead, its massive attack on Gaza at the end of 2008.

At the time I responded to media inquiries by saying that I was shocked, but not surprised. Shocked because the evidence was overwhelming and the other three distinguished members of the UN fact-finding commission stuck by the finding. Yet I was not surprised because I knew Goldstone – a former judge of the South African constitutional court – to be a man of strong ambition and weak character, a terrible mix for public figures who wander into controversial territory.

 

In Wibisono’s case I am surprised, but not shocked. Surprised because he should have known from the outset that he was faced with a dilemma between doing the job properly of reporting on Israel’s crimes and human rights abuses and gaining Israel’s cooperation in the course of gathering this evidence. Not shocked, indeed grateful, as it illuminates the difficulty confronting anyone charged with truthful reporting on the Palestinian ordeal under occupation, and by his principled resignation Wibisono doesn’t allow Israel to get away with neutering the position of special rapporteur.

 

It is worth recalling that when Wibisono was selected as my successor, several more qualified candidates were passed over. Although the selection guidelines stress expert knowledge of the subject matter of the mandate, Wibisono apparently gained the upper hand along with the acquiescence of Israel and the United States precisely because of his lack of any relevant background.

 

I can only hope that now the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) will redeem its mistake by reviving the candidacies of Professor Christine Chinkin and Phyllis Bennis, both of whom possess the credentials, motivation and strength of character to become an effective special rapporteur.

 

The Palestinians deserve nothing less.

 

Honesty

 

When I met with Makarim Wibisono in Geneva shortly after his appointment as Special Rapporteur was announced, he told me confidently that he had been assured that if he accepted the appointment the Israeli government would allow him entry, a reassurance that he repeated in his resignation announcement. On his side, he pledged objectivity and balance, and an absence of preconceptions.

 

I warned him then that even someone who leaned far to the Israeli side politically would find it impossible to avoid reaching the conclusion that Israel was guilty of severe violations of international humanitarian law and of human rights standards, and this kind of honesty was sure to anger the Israelis.

 

I also told him that he was making a big mistake if he thought he could please both sides, given the reality of prolonged denial of fundamental Palestinian rights. At the time he smiled, apparently feeling confident that his diplomatic skills would allow him to please the Israelis even while he was compiling reports detailing their criminality. He told me that he was seeking to do what I did but to do so more effectively by securing Israel’s cooperation, and thus short circuiting their objections. It was then my turn to smile.

 

It is correct that the mandate itself is vulnerable to criticism as it does include an assessment of the responsibility of Palestinian administering authorities for violations of human rights, and only looks at Israeli violations. I tried to persuade the HRC unsuccessfully to have the mandate enlarged to encompass wrongdoing by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The arguments against doing so was that it had been difficult to get agreement to establish the mandate, and opening up the issue of its scope was risky, and also, that the overwhelming evidence of Palestinian victimization resulting from the occupation resulted from Israel’s policies and practices. Hence, it was argued by several delegations at the HRC that attention to the Palestinian violations would be diversionary, and give Israel a way to deflect criticism directed at the occupation.

 

Facing the heat

 

What I discovered during my six years as special rapporteur is that you can make a difference, but only if you are willing to put up with the heat.

 

You can make a difference in several ways. Above all, by giving foreign ministries around the world the most authoritative account available of the daily realities facing the Palestinian people. Also important is the ability to shift the discourse in more illuminating directions, instead of limiting discussion to ‘the occupation,’ address issues of de facto annexation, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid, as well as give some support within the UN for such civil society initiatives as BDS and the Freedom Flotilla. By so doing you have to expect ultra-Zionist organizations and those managing the ‘special relationship’ between Israel and the United States to react harshly, including by launching a continuous defamatory campaign that seeks by all means to discredit your voice and will mount inflammatory accusations of anti-Semitism and, in my case, of being a “self-hating Jew.”

 

What both shocked and surprised me was the willingness of both the UN Secretary General and US diplomatic representatives (Susan Rice, Samantha Power) at the UN to bend in Israel’s direction and join the chorus making these irresponsible denunciations focused on a demand for my resignation.

 

Although periodically tempted to resign, I am glad that I didn’t. Given the pro-Israel bias of the mainstream media in the United States and Europe, it is particularly important, however embattled the position, to preserve this source of truth telling, and not to give in to the pressures mounted.

My hope is that the Human Rights Council will learn from the Wibisono experience and appoint someone who can both stand the heat and report the realities for what they are. It is hampering the performance of a Special Rapporteur to be denied Israeli cooperation with official UN functions, which is itself a violation of Israel’s obligations as a member of the UN. At the same time, Israel’s behavior that flaunts international law is so manifest and reliable information easily available that I found it possible to compile reports that covered the main elements of the Palestinian ordeal. Of course, direct contact with people living under occupation would have added a dimension of validation and witnessing, as well as giving some tangible expression of UN concern for the abuses being committed under conditions of an untenably prolonged occupation with no end in sight.

 

Until the day that Palestinian self-determination arrives, the least that UN can do is to keep open this window of observation and appraisal. After all, it is the UN that undertook back in 1947 to find a solution to the Israel/Palestinian struggle that acknowledged the equal claims of both peoples. Although such an approach was colonialist and interventionist in 1947, it has plausibility in 2016 given the developments in the intervening years. The UN may not be guilty in relation to what went wrong, but it certainly has failed to discharge its responsibilities with regard to Palestinian fundamental rights. Until these rights are realized, the UN should give this remnant of the colonial era as much attention as possible.

 

Author : Richard Falk

https://richardfalk.wordpress.com

 

 

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.”

       

By Rene Wadlow*

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) [1].

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 man’s 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 world’s commitment to the high standards of world law set out in the Genocide Convention.

*René Wadlow is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives.
Notes

  1. Raphael Lemkin. Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for World Peace, 1944)
  2. For good overviews see: Walliman and Dobkowski (Eds) Genocide and the Modern Age (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987), F. Chalk, K. Jonassohn. The History and Sociology of Genocide (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), G.J.Andreopoulos(Ed) Genocide:Conceptual and Historical Dimensions (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), Samantha Power A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002), John Tirman The Death of Others (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), William Schabas Genocide in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 200

 

 

Crossing Cultural and Linguistic Boundaries: International Volunteer Day
by Rene Wadlow
 

Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries.  By giving their time and skills without expectations of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose.

                                                                        Ban Ki-moon

5 December has been selected as the International Volunteer Day by a 1985 UN General Assembly resolution. This year 5 December comes as government representatives and volunteers of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are meeting in Paris to develop a new international climate agreement, COP 21.  The NGO representatives are fewer in number than originally planned due to the 13 November shootings in Paris and thus tightened security conditions.  However, those that are present are doubly active as world media attention is focused on the conference and its outcome.

In practice, as with all major UN conferences, negotiations among governments have been going on for two years with a good deal of input from NGO representatives. At the Paris stage, there is a preliminary “Final Document and Action Plan” of some 30 pages with a good number of square brackets around words or sentences on which there is no agreement.  Negotiations concern making the document shorter so that the main ideas will stand out better and to remove square brackets. If a suitable word is not found, often the whole sentence will be dropped.

Both government representatives and NGOs are discussing post-Paris action and coalition building. There is also a concerted effort to bring the business community, especially transnational corporations into the action.  While the UN system has a structure of consultative status for NGOs through the Economic and Social Council, the world of business is largely not represented. Only the International Labour Organization with its headquarters in Geneva has a three-party membership : governments, trade unions and business associations from each of the member States. The business world is not really a “voluntary association” in the sense of NGOs.  Material reward is an important element in business.

COP 21 is a prime example of the need for cooperative action at the local, national and world level. As has been often said, the climate does not recognize national frontiers. The relations among ecologically-sound development, security, conflict resolution and respect for human rights have now assumed a more dynamic form than at any other time since the creation of the United Nations in 1945. To meet these strong challenges, NGOs, academic institutions, business and professional associations and the media  must work together cooperatively. International Volunteer Day can serve as a time of reflection on capacity building and improved networking.

 ****************************************************

Rene Wadlow, President and a representative to the UN, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens

 

After 70 Years: The UN Falls Short, and Yet..


8  Oct
 
 

(Prefatory Note: A shorter somewhat modified version
of this post was published in Al Jazeera Turka, but only in Turkish
translation. The thesis set forth is that the UN has disappointed the
expectations of those who took seriously its original promise of war
prevention, but that it has over its lifetime done many things that need
doing in the world. It also provided a meeting place for all
governments, and has developed the best networking sites for all those
concerned with the state of the world and what can be done by way of
improvement. The UN System faces an important test in the upcoming UN
Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris at the end of November.
The event is billed as the make or break session for the governments of
the world to agree finally to serve the human interest by
establishing a strong enough framework of constraint governing the
release of greenhouse gasses that will satisfy the scientific consensus
that global warming will not eventuate in human disaster. If Paris is
generally regarded as successful, the UN stock will rise steeply, but if
it should fail, then its stature and role of the Organization could
become even more marginalized. Either way, it is important to appreciate
that the UN as of 2015 is a very different kind of political actor than
when it was founded in 1945, disappointing to those who hoped for
permanent peace and some justice, while pleasing to those who sought
from the outset a wider global agenda for the Organization and felt that
its best contributions would likely be in a wide range of practical
concerns where the interests of major political actors more or less
overlap.]

 

 

After 70 Years: The UN Falls Short, and Yet..

When the UN was established in the aftermath of the Second
World War hopes were high that this new world organization would be a
major force in world politics, and fulfill its Preamble pledge to
prevent future wars. Seventy years later the UN disappoints many, and
bores even more, appearing to be nothing more that a gathering place for
the politically powerful. I think such a negative image has taken hold
because the UN these days seems more than ever like a spectator than a
political actor in the several crises that dominate the current agenda
of global politics. This impression of paralysis and impotence has risen
to new heights in recent years.

 

When we consider the waves of migrants fleeing war torn
countries in the Middle East and Africa or four years of devastating
civil war in Syria or 68 years of failure to find a solution for the
Israel/Palestine conflict or the inability to shape a treaty to rid the
world of nuclear weapons, and on and on, it becomes clear that the UN is
not living up to the expectations created by its own Charter and the
fervent hopes of people around the world yearning for peace and justice.

 

The UN itself seems unreformable, unable to adapt its
structures and operations to changes in the global setting. The Security
Council's five permanent members are still the five winners in World
War II, taking no account of the rise of India, Brazil, Indonesia,
Nigeria or even the European Union. Despite globalization and the
transnational rise of civil society, states and only states are eligible
for UN membership and meaningful participation in the multifold
operations of the Organization.

 

How can we explain this disappointment? We must at the outset
acknowledge that the high hopes attached to the UN early on were never
realistic. After all, the Charter itself acknowledged the geopolitical
major premise, which is the radical inequality of sovereign states when
it comes to power and wealth. Five permanent seats in the Security
Council were set aside for these actors that seemed dominant in 1945.
More importantly, they were given an unrestricted right to veto any
decision that went against their interests or values, or those of its
allies and friends. In effect, the constitution of the Organization
endowed the potentially most dangerous states in the world, at least as
measured by war making capabilities, with the option of being exempt
from UN authority and international law.

 

Such an architectural feature of the UN was not a quixotic
oversight of the founders. It was a deliberate step taken to overcome
what perceived to be a weakness of the League of Nations established
after World War I, which did look upon the equality of sovereign states
as the unchallengeable constitutional foundation of an organization
dedicated to preserving international peace. The experience of the
League was interpreted as discouraging the most powerful states from
meaningful participation (and in the case of the United States, from any
participation at all) precisely because their geopolitical role was not
taken into account.

 

In practice over the life of the UN, the veto has had a
crippling political effect as it has meant that the UN cannot make any
strong response unless the permanent five (P5) agree, which as we have
learned during the Cold War and even since, is not very often. There is
little doubt that without the veto possessed by Russia the UN would have
been far more assertive in relation to the Syrian catastrophe, and not
found itself confined to offering its good offices to a regime in
Damascus that never seemed sincere about ending the violence or finding a
political solution except on its own harsh terms of all out defeat of
its adversaries.

 

Of course, the General Assembly, which brings all 194 member
states together, supposedly has the authority to make recommendations,
and act when the Security Council is blocked. It has not worked out that
way. After the General Assembly flexed its muscles in the early 1970s
emboldened by the outcome of the main colonial wars geopolitics took
over. The GA became a venue controlled by the non-aligned movement, and
in 1974 when it found backing for the Declaration of a New International
Economic Order the writing was on the wall. The larger capitalist
states fought back, and were able to pull enough strings to ensure that
almost all authority to take action became concentrated in the Security
Council. The Soviet Union went along, worried about political majorities
against its interests, and comfortable with the availability of the
veto as needed. The General Assembly has been since mainly relegated to
serving the world as a talk shop, and is hardly noticed when it comes to
crisis management or lawmaking. Despite this development the GA is
still relevant to the formation of world public opinion. Its Autumn
session provides the leaders of the world with the most influential
lectern at which to express their worldview and recommendations for the
future. Even Pope Francis took advantage of such an influential platform
on which to articulate his concerns, hopes, and prescriptions.

 

There is an additional fundamental explanation of why the UN
cannot do more in response to the global crises that are bringing such
widespread human suffering to many peoples in the world. The UN was
constructed on the basis of mutual and legally unconditional respect for
the territorial sovereignty of its members. The Charter itself in
Article 2(7) prohibits the UN from intervening in matters that are
essentially internal to a state, such as strife, insurgency, abridgement
of human rights, and even civil war. Such an insulation of domestic
strife runs counter to the practice of intervention by geopolitical
actors, and in this respect gives the UN framework a legalistic
character that is not descriptive of the manner in which world politics
operates.  

 

True, when the political winds blow strongly in certain
threatening directions as was the case in relation to Serbian behavior
in Kosovo that seemed to be on the verge of repeating the Srebrenica
massacre of 1995, NATO effectively intervened but without the blessings
of the UN, and hence in violation of international law. Then again in
Libya the Security Council actually gave its approval for a limited intervention
in the form of a no-fly-zone to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe
befalling the besieged inhabitants of Benghazi. In that setting, the SC
relying on the new norm of 'responsibility-to-protect' or R2P to justify
its use of force. When NATO immediately converted this limited UN
mandate into a regime-changing intervention that led to the execution of
Qaddafi and the replacement of the Libyan government it was clear that
the R2P argument acted as little more than a pretext to pursue a more
ambitious, yet legally dubious and politically unacceptable, Western
agenda in the country. R2P diplomacy has been further discredited by the
failure to offer UN protection in the extreme circumstances of
Palestine, Syria, and now Yemen.

 

Not surprisingly, Russia and China that had been persuaded by
Western powers in 2011 to go along with the establishment of a
no-fly-zone to protect Benghazi felt deceived and manipulated. These
governments lost their trust in the capacity of the Security Council to
set limits that would be respected once a decision was reached. This is
part of the story of why the UN has been gridlocked when it came to
Syria, and why R2P has been kept on the diplomatic shelf. The Security
Council to be able to overcome the veto depends upon trust among the P5
sufficient to achieve a consensus, which was badly betrayed by what NATO
did in Libya. Human rights advocates have long put forward the idea
that the P5 agree informally or by formal resolution to forego the use
of the veto in devising responses to mass atrocities, but so far, there
has been little resonance. Similarly, sensible proposals to establish an
UN Peace Force that could respond quickly to natural and humanitarian
catastrophes on the originating initiative of the UN Secretary General
have also not found much political resonance over the years. It would
seem that the P5 are unwilling to relax their grip on the geopolitical
reins on UN authority established in the very different world situation
that existed in 1945.

 

Kosovo showed that, at times, humanitarian pressures (when
reinforcing dominant geopolitical interests) induce states to act
outside the UN framework, while Libya illustrates the long term
weakening of UN capacity and legitimacy by manipulating the debate to
gain support of skeptical states for intervention in an immediate
war/peace and human rights situation. The hypocrisy of the R2P diplomacy
by the failure to make a protective response of any kind to the acute
vulnerability of such abused minorities as the
Uighurs
in Xinjiang Province of China, the Rohingya in Rankhine State of
Myanmar, and of course the Palestinians of Palestine. There are, of
course, many other victimized groups whose rights are trampled upon by
the state apparatus of control that for UN purposes is treated as their
sole and unreviewable legal protector.

 

In the end, what this pattern adds up to is a clear
demonstration of the persisting primacy of geopolitics within the UN.
When the P5 agree, the UN can generally do whatever the consensus
mandates, although it technically requires additional support from
non-permanent members of the SC. If there is no agreement, then the UN
is paralyzed when it comes to action, and geopolitical actors have a political
option of acting unlawfully, that is, without obtaining prior authority
from the Security Council and in contravention of international law.
This happened in 2003 when the U.S. Government failed to gain support
from the SC for its proposed military attack upon Iraq, and went ahead
anyway, with disastrous results for itself, and even more so for the
Iraqi people.

 

It is helpful to appreciate that disappointment with the role
of the UN is usually less the fault of the Organization than of the
behavior of the geopolitical heavyweights. If we want a stronger UN then
it will be necessary to constrain geopolitics, and make all states,
including the P5 subject to the restraints of international law and
sensitive to moral imperatives.

 

Another kind of UN reform that should have been achieved
decades ago is to make the P5 into the P8 or P9 by enlarging permanent
membership to include a member from Asia (additional to China), Africa,
and Latin America. This would give the Security Council and the UN more
legitimacy in a post-colonial world where shifts in the global balance
are still suppressed.

 

Along with the above explanation of public disappointment,
there are also many reasons to be grateful for the existence of the UN
and to be thankful that despite the many conflicts in the world during
its lifetime every state in the world has wanted to become a member, and
none have exhibited their displeasure with UN policies to leave the
Organization. Given the intensity of conflict in the world, sustaining
this universality is itself a remarkable achievement. It perhaps
expresses the unanticipated significance of the UN as the most
influential and versatile hub for global communications.

 

There are other major UN contributions to human wellbeing.
The UN has been principally responsible for the rise of human rights and
environmental protection, and has done much to improve global health,
preserve cultural heritage, protect children, and inform us about the
hazards of ignoring climate change.

 

We could live better with a stronger UN, but we would be far
worse off if the UN didn't exist or collapsed. The only constructive
approach is to do our best in the years ahead to make the UN more
effective, less victimized by geopolitical maneuvering, and more attuned
to achieving humane global governance.

 

Author :  Richard Falk

https://richardfalk.wordpress.com


         
       
       
         

  Peace-building: A Focus for UN Day
            by Rene Wadlow
            2015-10-24
           

           

As we mark UN
                Day this 24 October, we are reminded that the United
                Nations remains the only universally representative and
                comprehensively empowered body the world has to deal
                with threats to international peace and security. As
                Brian Urquart, one of the early UN civil servants said
                "In the great uncertainties and disorders that lie
                ahead, the UN, for all its shortcomings, will be called
                on again and again because there is no other global
                institution, because there is a severe limit to what
                even the strongest powers wish to take on themselves,
                and because inaction and apathy toward human misery or
                about the future of the human race are unacceptable."
                However, the nature of the threats to international
                security is ever changing. The United Nations, just as
                the national governments which make it up, have
                difficulties meeting new challenges.


           

"From the outset of my mandate" said
              in 1993 then Secretary General of the UN Boutros
              Boutros-Ghali "I have been convinced that the structure of
              the Organization must mirror, as closely as possible, the
              tasks it is assigned to undertake. An institution must
              reflect the objectives it pursues...The UN therefore faces
              the difficult task of relating our aims to our means, of
              updating and reforming institutions set up at different
              times and with different imperatives." Boutros-Ghali
              proposed measures to promote coordination and
              decentralization within the UN system, greater cooperation
              with non-governmental organizations and regional bodies,
              and creating more effective UN financing and budget-making
              mechanisms.


           

He went on to stress the vast
              challenges of famine, drought, AIDS, civil wars, uprooted
              and displaced populations and deepening human misery in
              many parts of the world. These situations make dramatic
              demands on the UN system and require a better field
              presence and operational capabilities. The UN system is
              called upon to respond to very diversified requirements,
              often involving the provisions of crucial and direct aid
              to peoples in deep distress and involving sensitive new
              fields of social, economic and political transformations.
              However, the crisis we face is not about the
              administration of UN bodies, but about a tragically broken
              world where poverty and violence are ever more visible and
              where there is an ever-diminishing willingness to help
              those in need.


           

Over a decade later, Kofi Annan made
              many of the same observations as he set out his own
              proposals for structural reforms "In Larger Freedom".
              However, the current structures of the UN for the
              government representatives work "just well enough" that
              they do not want to take the risk of making changes.
              Increasingly, it is the representatives of
              non-governmental organizations who are pushing for change
              and are organizing to undertake tasks which some
              governments are unwilling to do.  We see this with the
              current flow of migrants-refugees to Europe where some
              non-governmental groups have stepped in to help refugees
              even when  their governments have an unwelcoming and
              negative policy.


           

One potentially important innovation
              is the creation within the UN of the Peace-building
              Commission. Hopefully this Commission will be more than a
              name change for the same functional relief efforts in
              post-conflict situations. The Peace-building Commission
              was created as a response to the observation that
              conflicts are rarely settled, and they often take on new
              forms of violence as we saw in the Afghanistan case after
              the end of the Soviet intervention, in Kosovo after the
              other ex-Yugoslav conflicts had died down, in Somalia
              despite repeated ceasefires and the creation of "unity
              governments".


           

We all have limited attention spans
              for crisis situations in which we are not directly
              involved or do not have strong emotional links. We are
              constantly asked to pay attention to a new crisis, to new
              tensions, to new difficulties. Political leaders have even
              shorter attention spans unless there are strong domestic
              reasons for remaining involved. Therefore, there is a need
              both within the UN system and within national governments
              for a group of persons will a long-range holistic vision,
              who are able to see trends and the links between
              situations; Such a body needs to be able to organize
              long-term cooperation drawing upon the knowledge and
              resources of universities, religious groups, NGOs and
              government services at all levels. There needs to be
              greater public awareness and the ability to organize to
              articulate values and the implementation of goals.


           

Just as ecological concerns require
              actions by a multitude of actors who do not always see the
              relationship between their actions, so peace-building has
              material, intellectual and spiritual dimensions. Finding
              the way these fit together in a manner understandable to
              policy makers is not easy. However, this is the challenge
              before us. The process will take time and vision.
              Peace-building can be a major focus as we mark UN Day on
              24 October.


           

*****************************************************


           

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

 

  World Food Day:A Renewal of Collective Action
by Rene Wadlow
2015-10-16

“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 humanity’s 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 world’s 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 one’s work.  We need to stabilize and then reduce world population and to encourage better distribution of the world’s 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 earth’s 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.

 *****************************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

World Interfaith Harmony Week
Rene Wadlow

We are here that we may elucidate the divine elements in the human spirit
Walter Rathenau

The first week of February is a United Nations-designated World Interfaith Harmony Week first celebrated at the UN in 2012. The Week arose from a resolution proposed by Jordan and adopted unanimously on 20 October 2010. The resolution recalls the UN efforts promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence and the importance of the "Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief." As the then Deputy Secretary-General Aska-Rose Migino said at the first celebration "Although faith is the glue that often bonds communities and cultures around the world, it is too often used as an excuse to emphasize differences and deepen divisions. Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples."

There has always been a hope that understanding among leaders of different religious communities would lead to peace and cooperation. One of the early efforts was planned and convened by Akbar, the Mogul emperor of India. In 1578, he built the 'Tarda-Khana' (House of Discussion) and on Thursday evenings in the winter months he presided over meetings at which were gathered representatives of the religions of India.

Closer to our time, the first session of the World's Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago for 17 days in September 1893 and ended with the 4,000 participants chanting "Peace on earth, good-will to men." Vivekananda in his address saw an end to "sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism...I fervently hope that the bell that toiled this morning in honor of this convention, be the death-knell to all fanaticism, to all persecution with the sword or the pen, and to all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal". (1)

After all the destruction of the First World War and the creation of the League of Nations, the Church Peace Union founded by Andrew Carnegie held a 1928 multi-faith congress in Geneva with representatives of religions and secretariat staff of the League
"to devise means by which men of all religious faiths may work together to remove existing obstacles to peace; to stimulate international cooperation for peace and the triumph of right; to secure international justice, to increase goodwill, and thus to bring about in all the world a fuller realization of the brotherhood of man."

The Chinese Confucian delegate Dr Chen Huang-Chang stressed that "There are divisions of territories, but not of peoples as all people belong to one family. Therefore, peoples of the world, irrespective of their nationalities, should migrate freely, and should not be excluded by any nation. This is a fundamental means of unifying the whole world."

The representative of the Religious Association of Japan, Professor T. Tomoeda, presented a resolution from a 1928 Japanese Religious Congress which stated "International peace is the fundamental condition for the welfare of mankind. The League of Nations is the most effective machinery to bring about this condition. The Congress considers that all Governments should endeavor to settle international problems by international cooperation based upon a diplomacy animated by the principles and spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations." (2)

It has been said that courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'. The process of making peace requires a spirit of reconciliation, a genuine intention to search for a common ground. Religious organizations, as governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations, are often deadlocked in a 'dialogue of the deaf' unless we advance our means of communication so as to respect the fears and needs of others.

Today, we are faced with the challenge of creating a global world community based on a sense, in a large number of people, of an identification as citizens of the world. In the past, tribal membership, national affiliation, racial affinity, and religious community have all shown themselves capable of creating a sense of identity which enables individuals to move beyond individual egocentrism. However, often these identities have been built by stressing an "us-together" against a "them-over there" mentality. My tribe excludes others by definition of what my tribe is. Today, we also see a religious 'tribal-nationalism' which strengths a 'us/them' division. It will not be easy to move beyond these confrontations. The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides us with the opportunity for a realistic look at the steps to be taken.
Notes
1)Minot J. Savage The World's Congress of Religions (Boston: Arena Publishing Co. 1893)
2) The Church Peace Union. The World's Religions Against War (New York: Church Peace Union, 1928)

 

World Day of Social Justice: The People's Revolution is On the March
Rene Wadlow*

The United Nations General Assembly, on the initiative of Nurbch Jeenbrev, the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the U.N. in New York, has proclaimed 20 February as the "World Day of Social Justice" .The World Day of Social Justice gives us an opportunity to take stock of how we can work together at the local, national and global level on policy and action to achieve the goals set out in the resolution of "solidarity, harmony and equality within and among states."

As the resolution states "Social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations, and that in turn, social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms."

The Preamble to the UN Charter makes social justice one of the chief aims of the organization using the more common expression of that time "social progress". The Preamble calls for efforts to "promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."

The US representatives who worked on the draft of the UN Charter were strongly influenced in their views of social progress by the "New Deal" legislation of President Roosevelt and its philosophy as it had been set out by his Vice-President Henry A. Wallace in 1942 when he set out the US war aims. Wallace's speech was the first time that the war aims of a country were not stated in terms of "national interest" and limited to the demands that had produced the start of the war. Wallace, who had first been the Secretary of Agriculture and who had to deal with the severe depression facing US agriculture, was proposing a world-wide New Deal based on the cooperative action of all of humanity. Wallace said "The people's revolution is on the march. When the freedom-loving people march - when the farmers have an opportunity to buy land at reasonable prices and to see the produce of their land through their own organizations, when workers have the opportunity to form unions and bargain through them collectively, and when the children of all the people have an opportunity to attend schools which teach them truths of the real world in which they live - when these opportunities are open to everyone, then the world moves straight ahead...The people are on the march toward ever fuller freedom, toward manifesting here on earth the dignity that is in every human soul."

The People's Revolution found its expression in the cry of the Tunisian uprising - Liberty-Work-Dignity. Today in the demands of "Liberty-Work-Dignity" we hear the demands of farmers to own land under sure conditions, to receive a fair price for their crops as well as the right to organize to protect their interests. We hear the crises of industrial and urban workers to be able to organize and to have their work appreciated for its full value. We hear the demands of students and the young for an education that opens minds and prepares for meaningful work.

The people's revolution is on the march. While the forces of the status quo are still strong and often heavily armed, the energy has shifted from the rulers to the people. The concept of Social Justice has articulated and focused deep demands for liberty, jobs, and dignity. The people's revolution is not that of an elite willing to replace the existing ruling elite. The people's revolution is a wave of all moving together, with deep currents below the surface. The tide moves with only a few visible waves but the collective demands for social justice and dignity is what makes the difference between the people's revolution and a military coup. This is the true meaning of the World Day of Social Justice.

*Rene Wadlow, President and representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

 

New Missions for the UN and a Secretary-General to Fit

 
Written by Rene Wadlow
Published: 13 May 2015
 

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.

Rene Wadlow is President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.

 

 

  26 June: Anniversary of the Signing of the UN Charter
                            Rene Wadlow
    26 June is the anniversary date of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.  While "UN Day" is usually celebrated 24 October when the UN Charter came into force after the ratification by States and especially the needed ratification by the five permanent members of the proposed Security Council, it was 26 June that the UN Charter was presented to the world. As a friend noted, "I prefer to celebrate the birth and not the baptism". Thus for this 26 June, we will look at two reports which outline challenges facing the emerging world society, and the role that the UN should play.
    The UN Charter was largely written by a small number of persons − largely Americans and English − meeting during September 1944 at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC.  For readers not living in Washington, Dumbarton Oaks is a large house and estate in a then calm part of Washington where those drafting the Charter could meet quietly, leading to the little poem written at the time:
            " A plan for peace, in war, evokes
              Few Yeas, and perfect floods of Buts
              Yet the original Dumbarton Oaks
              Were also, at the start, just nuts."
    The Dumbarton Oaks proposals were largely based on the structure of the League of Nations but with a larger role of the "Great Powers" such as the "veto" power in the Security Council to guarantee USA participation and that of the USSR which had been expelled from the League. Since the presentation of the Charter in 1945, there have been criticisms and proposals for reforms and revisions.   In August 1945, Milton Mayer, an active member of the Campaign for World Government and a journalist working closely with the University of Chicago-based Committee to Frame a World Constitution wrote "If San Francisco, embodying, as it does, all that is wrong with the world, not only embodying it, but sanctifying it, if San Francisco is the best we can get, are we so old, and sad and hopeless, that we have to accept it as the best we can get?"
    In response to criticisms, the UN Charter provided that a Review conference on the Charter would be put on the Agenda 10 years after the Charter's coming into force − that is in 1955.  With the end of the Korean War in 1953, there began an intense discussion of UN Charter revision during 1954 and the first half of 1955. In practice, neither the US nor the Soviet Union wanted a discussion of the Charter so the issue was "swept under the rug" in exchange for a USA-USSR agreement to allow a number of States whose entry to UN membership had been blocked by Cold War rivalries to gain membership. However, the issue of Charter revision was still a hot topic in 1955-1956.
    My first efforts as a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) representative at the UN was in 1955 when there was a 10th anniversary session in San Francisco.  Many of the 1945 "founding fathers" returned, some like the Soviet Foreign Minister V. Molotov still in power. We NGOs had a rich documentation of possible reforms for the UN system, thought possible as the end of the Korean War had produced a short-lived "Cold War calm". The Fall of 1956 with the revolts in Hungary and the English-French-Israeli attack on Egypt and the Suez canal put an end to the brief "era of good feelings", and academic research shifted from UN reform to the nature of "limited war."
    However for the 70th anniversary this June, two useful reports have been issued: the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance led by Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State and Ibrahim Gambari, former Foreign Minister of Nigeria and former UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs issued their report  Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance (1) At the same time, the UN-created High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, led by José Ramos Horta, former President of Timor-Leste issued its recommendations stressing that "Primacy of politics means that lasting peace is achieved through political solutions and not through military and technical engagements alone.  Political solutions must guide all UN peace operations."
    Both reports are worth reading as a reflection of current thinking.  Personally, I was glad to find no new ideas.  If there had been ideas and proposals that I had not heard before, I would have had the impression of getting old and being "out of things".  Rather, what is striking in both reports is the emphasis given to the crucial role of NGOs, now usually called by the larger but less clear term of "civil society".
    Both reports highlight the trend toward greater openness to the participation of NGOs in world policy processes and in the implementation of programs.  Both governments and the UN increasingly recognize the importance of having more diverse voices at the table and especially "on the ground". The Commission on Global Security report is structured around what it sees as the three crucial challenges facing the emerging world society: State fragility, climate governance and the stewardship of the world economy.  As the report states "Global governance is a mix of bilateral informal multilateral, and treaty-based relations among states increasingly influenced by nonstate actors' interests and activities."
    The report recognizes that any reforms of UN structures is difficult − basically impossible − because the system works "well enough" to suit most governments and that most governments are not willing to risk major changes in the world society because of unknown consequences. Therefore change and improvements will come only through forceful and coordinated efforts from the nonstate sector.  In the "nonstate sector" the report places NGOs  in consultative status with the UN, currently some 4000 NGOs, the 2000 largest business firms, most of which are active in more than one State, and the 750 largest cities which increasingly have trans-frontier impacts.
    Both the Commission and the High-Level Independent Panel consulted NGOs, but the NGO views are not presented as such.  For the moment, it is difficult to speak of a common NGO view, especially if we need to integrate the views of transnational corporations and city administrations.  NGOs come in all shapes and sizes, and some seek UN accreditation for domestic reasons and do not really participate in UN activities.  The reports set out the challenges well.  The next step is to develop a broad understanding among NGOs of these challenges and of the steps which they can undertake collectively − an appropriate birthday present.
       
                                Note
1) The Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance. Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance (The Hague: Hague Institute for Global Justice, 2015)

 

11January: UN-designated Day for Developing Awareness of Human Trafficking

Rene Wadlow

 

The recent interception by the Italian Navy of two ships filled with refugees from Syria and other migrants has highlighted in a dramatic way the ever-growing trade in persons. On both ships, the captain and crew had abandoned the ship which were heading toward a rocky shore when the ships were boarded by the Italian Navy.

 

11 January has been designated by the UN General Assembly as a day to develop awareness of human trafficking. Awareness has been growing, but effective remedies are slow and uncoordinated. Effective remedies are often not accessible to victims of trafficking owing to gaps between setting international standards, enacting national laws and then implementation in a humane way.

 

The international standards have been set out in the “United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” and its “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.” The Convention and the Protocol standards are strengthened by the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.” The world-wide standards have been reaffirmed by regional legal frameworks such as the “Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.”

 

Despite clear international and regional standards, there is poor implementation, limited government resources and infrastructure dedicated to the issue, a tendency to criminalize victims and restrictive immigration policies in many countries.

 

Trafficking in persons is often linked to networks trafficking in drugs and arms. Some gangs traffic k in all there; in other cases agreements are made to specialize and not expand into the specialty of other criminal networks. These networks often act with a high degree of impunity from government services.

 

Basically there are three sources of trafficking in persons. The first, as highlighted by the intercepted ships, are refugees from armed conflicts. Refugees are covered by the Refugee Conventions supervised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country of first asylum. Thus Syrian refugees are protected and helped by the UNHCR in Lebanon, but not if they leave Lebanon. As ¼ of the population of Lebanon are now refugees from the conflicts in Syria, the Lebanese government is increasingly placing restrictions on Syrian's possibility to work in Lebanon, to receive schooling, medical services, proper housing etc. Thus many Syrians try to leave Lebanon or Turkey to find a better life in Western Europe. Refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan follow the same pattern.

 

The second category are people leaving their country for economic reasons − sometimes called “economic refugees.” Migration for better jobs and a higher standard of living has a long history. Poverty, ethnic and racial discrimination, and gender-based discrimination are all factors in people seeking to change countries. With ever-tighter( immigration policies in many countries and with a popular “backlash” against migrants in some countries, would-be migrants turn to “passers” − individuals or groups that try to take migrants into a country, avoiding legal controls.

 

A third category − or a subcategory of economic migration − is the sex trade, usually of women but also children. As a Human Rights Watch study of the Japanese “sex-entertainment” businesses notes “ There are an estimated 150,000 non-Japanese women employed in the Japanese sex industry, primarily from other Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. These women are typically employed in the lower rungs of the industry either in 'dating' snack bars or in low-end brothels, in which customers pay for short periods of eight or fifteen minutes. Abuses are common as job brokers and employers take advantage of foreign women's vulnerability as undocumented migrants: they cannot seek recourse from the police or other law enforcement authorities without risking deportation and potential prosecution, and they are isolated by language barriers, a lack of community, and a lack of familiarity with their surroundings.” We find similar patterns in many countries.

 

The scourge of trafficking in persons will continue to grow unless strong counter measures are taken. Basically, police and governments worldwide do not place a high priority on the fight against trafficking unless illegal migration becomes a media issue, as did the interception of the two ships.

 

Thus real progress needs to be made through non-governmental organizations (NGOs). There are four aspects to this anti-trafficking effort. The first is to help build political will by giving accurate information to political leaders and the press. The other three aspects depend on the efforts of the NGOs themselves. Such efforts call for increased cooperation among NGOs and capacity building.

 

The second aspect is research into the areas from which children and women are trafficked. These are usually the poorest parts of the country and among marginalized populations. Socio-economic and educational development projects must be directed to these areas so that there are realistic avenues for advancement.

 

The third aspect is the development of housing and of women's shelters to ensure that persons who have been able to leave exploitive situations have temporary housing and other necessary services.

 

The fourth aspect is psychological healing. Very often women and children who have been trafficked into the sex trades have a disrupted or violent family and have a poor idea of their self-worth. This is also often true of refugees for armed conflict. Thus, it is important to create opportunities for individual and group healing, to give a spiritual dimension to the person through teaching meditation and yoga. There are needs for creating adult education facilities so that people may continue a broken education cycle.

 

There are NGOs who are already working along these lines. Their efforts need to be encouraged and expanded.

 

 

24 October: UN Day 2014

As citizens of the world, we strive that the United Nations becomes what it was intended to be− the guiding focus of a world society under law, based on justice and popular consent. As US President Franklin Roosevelt said in his fourth inaugural address on 20 January 1945 "We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community."

Within the United Nations, representatives of governments, members of the UN Secretariat, and non-governmental organizations meet, understand each other better, take inventory of our planetary conditions, and report back messages and warnings.

The present era of world history is one of immense transformations. Profound ideas are at work in the minds of many people. The global flow of information, goods, services, and money has led to a worldwide economy. New institutions and systems capable of meeting these changed conditions need to be put into place.

We need to find better ways to manage our common resources: the oceans, the atmosphere, forests, waterways, and the rich diversity of life. We all need to find ways to link the local situation over which we have some control with the larger national and world situations.

As citizens of the world, we are dedicated to the consciousness of humanity as one world community. Together, we help to overcome fear, antagonisms,violence and to develop a deep respect for life.

World citizens are part of a new, deep seated evolutionary process. We all have tremendous responsibilities which we can fulfill as creators of beauty and peace. In order to meet these new challenges, we must be able to rely upon the dedication and energy of our friends and an ever-larger circle of co-workers. We welcome your continued positive actions.


 

 

UN Human Rights Protection: Small Steps But No Turning Back

 

Rene Wadlow

 

The effectiveness of United Nations action to promote human rights and prevent massive violations grows by small steps. However, the steps, once taken, serve as precedents and can be cited in future cases. Once the steps taken, it is difficult to refuse such action later. Such small steps can be seen in the contrasting response to two situations: 1) the current situation in Iraq and Syria, in particular the areas held by the Islamic State (IS) and 2) the massacres and refugee flow from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in1971. I will contrast briefly the Special Session on Iraq held on 1 September 2014 in Geneva of the Human Rights Council with efforts at the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in August 1971 when I was among the non-governmental representatives which had signed a joint appeal to the Sub-Commission for action in East Pakistan.

 

The 1 September Special Session stands out for two precedents which can be important:

      1. The affirmation that non-State actors are bound to respect UN human rights standards;

      2. The speedy creation of a UN Committee of Inquiry by using members of the UN human rights secretariat.

 

 

The massive violations of human rights in those parts of Iraq and Syria held by the IS is the first time that a major UN human rights body, the Human Rights Council or the earlier Commission on Human Rights deals with an area not under the control of a State.

The diplomats working on a Special Session decided to focus only on Iraq. If Syria had been included, the actions of the Syrian government would have had to be considered as well.

 

Holding non-State actors responsible for violations of UN human rights norms is an important precedent and can have wide implications. The Declaration of the Eliminations of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 November 1981 sets the standard − a standard repeatedly being violated by the forces of the IS.

 

Likewise, the speedy creation of a Committee of Inquiry is a major advance. The Human Rights Council in the past, following a practice of the earlier Commission on Human Rights, has created “Commissions of Inquiry” also called “Fact-finding Missions.” Currently there are four such Commissions at work:

1) Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,

 

      1. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,

      2. The OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka,

      3. The Commission of Inquiry on Gaza.

 

 

Each commission has three, sometimes four, members each from a different geographic zone. The members have usually had experience in UN activities, and the chair is usually someone who has a reputation beyond his UN efforts.

 

Since the commissions are usually not welcomed by the government of the country to be studies, the fact-finding is done by interviewing exiles and refugees. NGOs, scholars as well as governments can also provide information in writing. The commission reports rarely contain information that is not already available from specialized NGOs, journalists, and increasingly INTERNET. However, the commission reports give an official coloring to the information, and some UN follow up action can be based on the reports.

 

It takes a good deal of time to put these commissions together as there must be regional balance, increasingly gender balance, as well as a balance of expertise. Moreover, the people approached to be a commission member are often busy and have other professional duties. It can sometimes take a month or more to put together a commission. In light of the pressing need presented by the situation in Iraq, it was decided that the members of the fact-finding group for Iraq would be members of the Secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights so that they can get to work immediately.

 

For the UN, this is a major step forward and must have led to a good deal of discussion before the proposal was presented in the resolution. As it is, India and China objected publicly in official statements just before the final resolution was accepted. Both States maintained that using Secretariat members went beyond the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner. They were worried by the increasing investigative role of the Office which should be limited only to helping develop national capacity building. Iraq today, Kashmir and Tibet tomorrow. The Indians and the Chinese are probably not the only governments worried, but they were the only States which spoke on the issue, Objecting strongly but saying they would not block consensus on the resolution.

 

In contrast to these steps: I had followed as closely as possible from Geneva, the events in East Pakistan, having at one stage helped a representative of the Bangladesh opposition to speak to relevant diplomats in Geneva. Later, he became the Ambassador of Bangladesh to the UN in Geneva, and for a year was president of the Commission on Human Rights.

 

In December, 1970, the Awami League led by Sheik Mujib Rahman won a majority of seats in the national assembly. The government of Pakistan refused to convene the national assembly, since it would result in shifting political power from West to East Pakistan. For three months, the government and the Awami League tried to negotiate a political settlement. On 25 March 1971, the government discontinued negotiations and unleashed the Pakistan army against the civilian population of East Pakistan. Hindus, members and sympathizers of the Awami League, students and faculty of the universities and women were especially singled out.

 

These atrocities continued until the Indian army which had been drawn into the conflict, in part by the large number of refugees that had fled to India, took control of Dacca on 1 December 1971.

 

The UN Security Council was unwilling or unable to deal with the human rights situations in East Pakistan. The US government strongly supported the Pakistan army while the Soviet Union supported India. For NGO representatives our hopes rested on the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities which was to meet in Geneva from 2 to 20 August 1971. At the time, the Commission on Human Rights and the bulk of the human rights secretariat was still in New York. However, the Sub-Commission would meet in Geneva once a year, usually in July or August. The Sub-Commission members were not diplomatic representatives of governments as was the Commission on Human Rights. Rather they were “independent experts”. The saying among NGOs was that some were more independent than others, and some were more expert than others. Most were professors of law in their countries − thus the August dates when universities were on vacation. It was easier to have informal relations with Sub-Commission members than with diplomats, and NGO representatives could get advice on the best avenues of action.

 

NGOs had two formal avenues of action. We could present written statements that were distributed as official documents, and we could make oral statements, usually 10 minutes in which to develop ideas and to call attention to additional elements in the written statement. Written statements could be that of a single NGO or, often to give more weight, there could be a “joint statement”. On the East Pakistan situation, with the violence being covered by the world media, it was decided to have a joint statement. The statement called upon the Sub-Commission “to examine all available information regarding allegations of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in East Pakistan and to recommend measures which might be taken to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of East Pakistan”. Twenty-two NGOs with representatives in Geneva signed the joint statement , and John Salzberg, a representative of the International Commission of Jurists, made an oral statement presenting the written joint statement.

 

Government representatives were always present in the room and had the right to make statements (and also to try to influence the independent experts behind the scene). Najmul Saguib Khan, the independent expert from Pakistan contended that the Sub-Commission could not consider East Pakistan since the UN role in human rights “did not extend to questions arising out of situations affecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and that attention to such situations would encourage those seeking the dismemberment of Member States.” The Indian diplomat, N.P. Jain, replied highlighting the influx of eight million refugees into India.

 

The Sub-Commission members took the “diplomatic way out” and said nothing. In drafting the report of the session, one member, Adamu Mohammed from Nigeria proposed deleting any reference to the discussion on East Pakistan. He held that the Sub-Commission had listened to, but had not considered the statements made by the representative of the International Commission of Jurists, the Sub-Commission member from Pakistan and the observer of India.

 

The NGO representatives were saddened by the lack of action but not totally surprised. No other UN human rights body took action, and the massacres stopped only after the 'lightning war' of India defeated the Pakistan army and occupied the country until a Bangladesh government could be set up.

 

There remains real danger that the situation in Iraq and Syria will continue through military means, but at least progress has been made within the UN in calling attention to conflicts within a State and holding all parties responsible for maintaining the standards of human rights

 

 

World Law advanced by the UN Special Session of the Human Rights Council on Human Rights Violations in Iraq.

 

Rene Wadlow*

 

Two major advancements in the universal application of world law were made by the UN Human Rights Council Special Session in Geneva on 1 September 2014. The Council met in response to wide-spread and converging accusations of human rights violations in territory in Iraq and Syria under the control of the Islamic State (IS) also called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIM) and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). I will use the term “Islamic State” which is the title that the movement most often uses now for itself.

 

For the past several years, the IS was one of a good number of shifting insurgency groups active in Syria in opposition to the government, and it did not receive more attention than any of the other insurgencies. It had no clear political program, and its ideology was not particularly different from that of other Islamist groups. Then suddenly in June 2014, under the leadership of the young Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group shifted its focus from Syria to Iraq. It was able to build on the growing resentment and sentiment of marginalization o the Iraqi Sunnis and the disorganization o the Iraq army to sweep through large parts of western Iraq and eastern Syria. IS's ideology does not recognize existing nation-states but rather a potentially unified Islamic world. One of its first symbolic moves was to destroy frontier wall and frontier posts on the Iraq-Syria frontier. Thus the name of Islamic State and the title of Caliphate for the area under its control.

 

In the areas under IS control, IS armed groups have killed prisoners of the Iraqi army and members of religious and ethnic minorities leading to larger scale displacement of people, often to the Kurdish Autonomous Area − some 800,000 during August. The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees has stated that this is a “humanitarian crisis” and appealed for support from governments and civil society to meet the urgent needs of the displaced. On 12 August 2014, Heiner Beilefeldt, the Special Rapporteur of the Council on Discrimination due to Religion or Belief warned of the destruction of religious minorities and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination activated its early warning and urgent action procedures.

 

During August, IS forces took areas close to the Kurdish Autonomous Area, areas in which there is a large Kurdish-speaking population but is outside the Kurdish Autonomous Area's boundaries. The Kurdish forces fought back, helped by US bombing missions aimed at IS military equipment and posts. The danger of a military escalation and a spreading of the conflict was (and still is) a real possibility.

 

Many looked toward the UN Human Rights Council to speak out. Both some governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) urged a Special Session of the Council, the highest profile action which the Council can take. It seems that France took the lead in the effort to get a Special Session. Although a minority of 16 States among the 47 Members of the Council is needed to call a Special Session, diplomatic sense requires that as many States as possible participate in the call and that they would vote positively on the resolution at the end of the Special Session.

 

In the case of this session, it was agreed by government negotiators to limit the discussion to IS actions in Iraq and not bring up violations in Syria on which governments hold differing views. The negotiators organizing the effort had to have the agreement of Iraq, the concerned State, of Iran which holds the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement and its 120 members. Iran is also heavily involved in the conflicts of Syria and Iraq. Pakistan needed to agree as Pakistan is the usual spokesperson for the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. Italy, as current president of the EU had to play a key role. The President of the Council, Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Elia had to be kept informed as the Special Session would be under his leadership.

 

It is difficult for someone not party to the government private negotiations to know how they are carried out and how the resolution is written, well in advance of the Session itself. In this case, the Ambassador of South Africa felt that he had been left out of the discussions and complained bitterly that the resolution had not been negotiated inclusively and transparently and had appealed to the President of the Council to defer until more time was given to delegates to negotiate the text. His request was turned down, and so South Africa was the only State to say after the resolution was passed by consensus without a vote that had there been a vote, he would have abstained.

 

As the final resolution is written and agreed upon prior to the start of the Session, all the statements of the Member States of the Council, the Observer States and NGOs are “for the record”. Each States wishes to have been seen as saying something in the very short time that each State is allocated. The factual information was presented at the start of the Session by Ms Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and Ms Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict. There is therefore a good deal of repetition in what government representatives have to say. There is a story in the USA about a mythical conference of comedians who have heard all the jokes before, so rather than tell a joke, they would just say a number, “number 10” and everyone would laugh. Along these lines, I have suggested that at the UN a good deal of time could be saved by having all ideas given a number, so the Ambassador could just say, “We believe, 7 9 15, Thank you” and a skilled technician would flash a red light if ever a new idea was mentioned. My suggestion has not yet been acted upon, and so one must listen carefully to “hear between the lines” and see who is saying something different or occasionally saying it very well.

 

Thus, it was impossible for the Ambassador of Syria not to mention that the IS was also in Syria, which the Canadian Ambassador did as well. Germany mentioned that there were Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan but did not go into more detail. Cuba and Venezuela mentioned that the problems of Iraq were due to the US invasion of 2003 “responsible or sowing the seeds of death and th social breakdown among the Iraqi people”. Ireland was the one State to mention “open and possibly genocidal attacks on minority communities” but did not mention the 1948 Genocide Convention. Austria spoke of the “ total annihilation of minorities but did not use the term “genocide”. Morocco called or Iraq to become a “cohesive State in which all citizens were equal and enjoyed their human rights.” Malaysia called upon “the voices of moderation to drown out the destructive and divisive voices of extremism and terrorism”. Lebanon called for actions by the International Criminal Court, especially against those bearing passports of States which wee party to the Rome Statute setting up the ICC. The Holy See (the Vatican) made a moving call or tolerance and understanding among all religions.

 

After the speeches “for the record”, what was the action proposal which was an advancement for world law? The action proposal followed a Council pattern but with a significant difference. The Council in the past, following a practice o the earlier Commission on Human Rights, has created “Commissions of Inquiry” also called “Fact-finding Missions”. Currently there are four such Commissions at work: Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka, and the Commission of Inquiry on Gaza. Each commission has three, sometimes four people, each from a different geographic zone. The members have usually had experience in UN activities, and the chair is usually someone who has a reputation beyond his UN efforts, such as Mr Martti Ahtisari, the former President of Finland who heads the Sri Lanka study.

 

Since the commissions are usually not welcomed by the government of the country to be studied, the fact-finding is done by interviewing exiles and refugees. NGOs, scholars as well as governments can also provide information in writing. The Commission reports rarely contain information that is not already available from specialized NGOs, journalists and increasingly the INTERNET. However, the commission reports give an official coloring to the information, and some UN follow up action can be based on the reports.

 

It takes a good deal of time to put these commissions together as there must be regional balance, increasingly gender balance, and a balance of expertise. Moreover, the people approached to be commission members are often busy and have other professional duties. It can sometimes take a month or more to put together a commission. In light of the pressing need presented by the situation in Iraq, it was decided that the members of the fact-finding group would be members of the Secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights so that they can get to work immediately.

 

For the UN, this is a major step forward and must have led to a good deal of discussion before being presented in the resolution. As it is, India and China objected publicly in official statements just before the final resolution was accepted. Both States maintained that using Secretariat members went beyond the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner. They were worried by the increasing investigative role of the Office which should be limited only to helping develop national capacity building: Iraq today, Kashmir and Tibet tomorrow. The Indians and the Chinese are probably not the only governments worried, but they were the only States which spoke up on the issue, objecting strongly but saying they would not block consensus on the resolution.

 

The other advance or world law arising from the Special Session is the principle of the universality of concern and thus of investigation. In no previous case, has the UN looked at the violations within an area not under he control of a Member State. In this case, the investigation concerns actions of a non-state actor who nevertheless controls territory and to some extent administers the territory trying to impose its vision of strict Islamic law. This is a major step forward and has implications or other state entities but which are not members of the UN or recognized by the majority o UN Member States such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistra, Nagorno-Karabakh, and if a state were set up in eastern Ukraine.

 

This principle was stated in a widely distributed text for the Special Session and which will come out as a written NGO statement at the regular session of the Council starting 8 September. With due modesty, I quote from myself: “The Association of World Citizens believes that 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 UN. 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 adopted by the General Assembly on 25 November 1981 “inadmissible”.

 

Citizens of the World stress the need for world law and certain common values among all the States and peoples o the world. We are one humanity with a shared destiny. The challenge before us requires inclusive ethical values. Such values must be based on a sense of common responsibility for both present and future generations.”

 

 

 

Tom Plate

Conversations with Ban Ki-moon: What the United Nations is Really Like: The View from the Top

(Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013, 238pp.)

 

So my message to national leaders, and particularly the young generation, has always been − widen your scope, and look beyond your national boundaries and try to become a global citizen. That is the best way for everyone to contribute - Ban Ki-moon

 

Ban Ki-moon comes from a Confucian tradition kept alive in certain Korean milieu: a leader leads by example in the hope that others will follow his example of hard work, honesty, concern for others. Can such a management style work in an organization such as the United Nations with people from many different cultures? Ban brought into the UN administration a small number of Koreans who are his most inner circle, people who had been with him when he was Foreign Minister of South Korea. They share the same management style and serve as a ring of protection around Ban.

 

Certainly some of the 8,000 staff at the UN headquarters in New York (some 63,000 world wide) are moved by the example. Others find the leadership by example distant. As a result, powerful but lower staff on the organization chart create their own management styles and set up their own fiefdoms.

 

As Plate notes “Western journalists would have to admit that ours is not a medium that cherishes the low-key. Ban's way can be, on the surface at least, so quiet as to be inaudible, the half dozen speech writers notwithstanding, and perhaps so spice-less as to give a whole new haze to the term unflashy. But Ban knows who he is and is comfortable within his quiet diplomatic/businessman's suit state of mind.” Many of the views were held of U Thant, the only other Asian UN secretary general.

 

Ban's management style, however, is also colored by his graduate studies at the Harvard Kennedy School and its focus on real politics and current diplomatic issues. As Ban says “ I am still in the process of improving my style or my leadership capacity, but my leadership style comes from a philosophy of collective leadership. There is a general tendency for people in the international community that they want to have a certain one person coming up with some strong political slogan or belief or leading in a dynamic way in what is termed so-called leadership. But when you run an international organization like this one, the effectiveness of leadership can come only from support from everyone...One who is a very strong ego-type person will never be successful in the UN, but if you are too soft you will again not be regarded as a relevant leader. Therefore, how to position the secretary general in this way is really an extraordinary difficult and sensitive task, but that's what I find myself doing as secretary general.”

 

If leading by by example causes difficulties within the UN Secretariat, it carries over even less well to influence the leaders of the Member States. Bann notes “The leaders of our member states are all politicians, but sometimes what you want to see is more statesmen, than politicians. Now, there are many politicians, big or small, high or low, but when the politician becomes a nation's leader, then he really needs to be a person who is committed to the global agenda. People say all politics is local and, of course, I can agree but when they come to the UN, they should come as one of the global leaders, as a member of the UN. They should talk global politics rather than local politics. That's what I expected. Unfortunately, I have not been able to see, here at the UN, many global leaders.”

 

Global thinking among national leaders and national diplomats requires a strong current of global thinking from below. The great challenge we face today is to leave behind the culture of violence and war and move forward to create a just and peaceful world society. We can achieve this historic task by casting aside our ancient national, ethnic, and racial prejudices and begin to think and act as responsible Citizens of the World. The UN and its Secretariat serve as a “flag ship” of the direction we must take, but for a ship to move forward, there needs to be a strong current in the waters below. The strong current is the combined work of NGOs in consultative status with the UN and the broader civil society.

 

 

Tribal Societies: Survival and Transformations
 

9 August has been chosen by the UN General Assembly as the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

As Paulo Freire has written “While both humanization and dehimanization are real alternatives, only the first is man's vocation. This vocation is constantly negated. It is hindered by injustice, exploitation, oppression, and the violence of the oppressors; it is affirmed by the yearning of the oppressed for freedom and justice, and by their struggle to recover their lost humanity.”

The world society is filled with many different types of collective actors: clans, tribes, castes, ethnic groups, cities, races, social classes, religious organizations, nation-states, multi-state alliances for military or economic goals, transnational corporations and associations. Each is the creation of individuals who have grouped together − or have been grouped together − to achieve goals considered common to the group's members. All such collective groups have techniques to socialize new members to share the common values, to accept the ideology and beliefs of the tribe, the nation-state or the association. This socialization process goes so deeply that a person's sense of identity becomes associated with these collective identity, the school, the army, the church, the political process and institutions − each propose a sense of group purpose.

Yet none of these groups is static and unchanging. Even clans and tribes whose members often consider that they have a common ancestor do, in fact, change. Tribes merge and divide; new identities are formed; new ancestors are created to justify the new groupings.

Some types of collective belonging are more easily left than others. One can move relatively easily from a city and take on the character, the values and the goals of a new city. Social mobility can produce changes in social class, and even caste lines become blurred. Persons change nationality or acquire new nationalities as frontiers are modified. Race is less easily changed but definitions of what constitutes a race do change. Ethnic identity is often associated with birth, but parents can belong to different ethnic communities, although the child is usually raised as belonging to the more dominant group. However the socialization process of group identity goes to the level of sub-conscious behavior and is not easily set aside.

Today the nation-state claims to be the dominant collective association − setting the boundaries of loyalty and identity. The State claims the right to set out the major collective goals and values. Through laws, the State claims the right to set out the rules by which other collective entities may pursue their goals; through taxation the State draws the resources to further the goals it has set, and the State claims to have the only legitimate use of violence to punish those who break the laws and rules it has set.

There have always been tensions between these collective groups for their spheres of goal-setting and value-setting have overlapped. Thus there have been tensions between religious organizations and the State as to who should set what goals and the means to achieve these goals. There have also been tensions between economic classes and the State when it was felt that the State was dominated by another economic class who used its power within State institutions not for the good of all but only to advance class interests. The same is true of other collective units − races or ethnic groups − excluded from power within State institutions.

Today in many parts of the world those most excluded from power within State institutions are people living in alternative structures of authority, goal-setting and rule-making: persons living in tribal societies.

Tribal societies predated most of today's nation-state. A tribal society usually has all the same functions as the nation-state: it sets out membership, loyalties, common goals and rules of behavior. It has sanctions against those breaking the laws of the tribe and has − or had − the monopoly of the legitimacy of using violence against those breaking the laws. Tribes are, in fact, more realistically “nation-states” if one defines nation as a common language, a common history and a common will to act together.

Thus because the tribal society is the closest in function to that of the nation-state, it is also the most feared. Tribes are institutions with whom it is difficult to compromise because they have the same pretensions as the State. It is relatively easy for a government to offer higher wages to the industrial worker or higher prices to the farmer as these social classes do not claim to carry out an alternative way the functions of the State. It is more of a challenge to the State's image of its role to allow tribal societies to set out a land policy or fishing rights or trans-frontier trading rights because these activities conflict directly with the functions that the government has set for itself.

Thus there has been a long history of the State destroying alternative institutions of governance on its territory. The nation-states of Europe were built upon the ruins of feudal institutions; much of Asia on the destruction of local rulers. We see the pattern today as we watch traditional chiefs in Africa loose their authority to the heads of State and the military. In the Americas, many of the indigenous tribal societies were destroyed. Others were pushed into areas that those who controlled the government did not want − the “reservations” of the USA and Canada.

In Latin America and Asia, there is still active struggle going on between those trying to preserve their tribal institutions and homelands and the State which claims complete authority over all its territory and who often wished to put new settlers on tribal lands.

The amount of violence and suffering is considerable. Slowly, the fate of tribal societies has come to the attention of the United Nations. The UN was set up to facilitate relations among nation-states. However because wide-spread violations of individual rights had been one of the consequences of the Second World War, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1948. The aim of the Declaration is to stress the rights of the individual − a natural consequence of the philosophy of the drafters. The rights of collective bodies which the drafters knew were also protected: trade unions, churches, professional associations. However tribal societies were not particularly thought of as one sees by reading the drafting negotiations. Thus, the Universal Declaration protects the rights of all individuals − including, of course, individuals living in tribal societies − but there is no direct recognition of the functions of tribal societies.

Thus for many years, indigenous and tribal peoples were the forgotten stepchildren of the UN system dealing with human rights. Yet they needed protection at least as much as those on whom the political limelight had focused. The situation began to change with the publication by the International Labour Organization's study Indigenous Peoples: Living and working conditions of aboriginal populations in independent countries (1953). This was followed by the study by Jose Martinez Cobo Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations of the UN Commission on Human Rights (1986). While the Cobo study was being written, a Working Group on Indigenous Populations was set up under the then-existing Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities under the dynamic leadership of Erica-Irene Daes.

From the Working Group, with a good deal of interaction with the representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations and tribal groups came a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A61/295) in 2007 after some 20 years of efforts. The Declaration sets out a useful framework for action.(1) A UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has been created and meets once a year in New York. Conditions “on the ground” change slowly but there is now a UN institutions where issues can be raised. It is still the task of non-government organizations and tribal groups to continue to draw attention and to seek cooperation with governments.

Note

See the useful Making the Declaration Work published by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (Copenhagen) available on their website: www.iwgia.org

.

********************************************************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

Anna C. Snyder

Setting the Agenda for Global Peace : Conflict and Consensus building

(Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003, 164pp.)

 

 

 

 

 

The content of Anna Snyder’s very useful study is somewhat narrower than the title of her book. She studies in detail the peace-agenda setting of NGOs preparing for the 1995 4th UN World Conference on Women (FWCW) held in Beijing, China. The first World Conference was in Mexico City as a highlight of the 1975 UN-sponsored International Year of the Women. As one year was hardly enough to bring about the goals of the year —equality, development and peace — the UN General Assembly transformed the Year into a 1975-1985 Decade on Women. There was a mid-term conference to evaluate progress in 1980 in Copenhagen, followed by an end of Decade conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985.

 

Then in the 1990s, there was a series of large UN conferences to try to set a world agenda of issues in the post-Cold War period. Conferences were organized on the environment, human rights, racism, food, population, and women in the hope that the end of the Cold War would facilitate progress on those issues which had often been blocked by the Cold War divisions. In practice, however, other divisions, often considered North/South, were evident at these conferences.

 

UN conferences nearly all follow the same pattern. There is a two-to-three year preliminary phase during which regional conferences on the subject are held, and a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) open to all States who wish to participate is created. The function of the PrepCom is to draft a declaration of principles followed by a plan of action which, hopefully, will be accepted by consensus without a vote.

 

At the conference itself, the declaration of principles and the plan of action are nearly impossible to change. Powerful countries or well-structured blocs can have a paragraph dropped but very rarely can a new idea be introduced.

 

Thus, it is at the regional meetings and especially at the PrepCom sessions that all the drafting of texts must be done. When, as with the women’s meeting, there have been earlier conferences, much of the language for the declaration and the plan of action is taken from the earlier declarations and plans of action. If the representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wish to influence the wording of the governmental documents, it must be done during the PrepCom phase usually by suggesting the wording of paragraphs to government representatives they know or to the representatives of countries friendly to the propositions the NGO is pushing. Once the PrepCom is over, NGOs will have little possibility to influence the final draft.

 

Thus for NGOs to have an impact on the drafting, they must have representatives in Geneva and New York where the PrepComs usually meet. The NGO representatives must know well some of the government delegates who can inform them of how the drafting is going since some drafting is done in informal or regional groups closed to NGO representatives. The NGOs must also be able to write in UNese, a language of its own with a high level of generalization, but no more esoteric than resolutions voted in national parliaments.

 

Thus, NGOs who have permanent representatives in New York and Geneva are able to function better than those who only come to the PrepComs who usually approach only the governmental delegates of their own country. There are, however, NGOs who do not know how the system works and who send representatives only to the final conference where they expect to be able to introduce ideas into the final text. These representatives often feel cheated and bitter.

 

The UN conferences have become “the best show in town”, and many NGOs wish to participate. Only NGOs in consultative status with the UN are allowed into the governmental conference, so parallel NGO conferences are held at the same time or a few days earlier. These NGO conferences resemble the governmental ones with much time spent on drafting declarations and plans of action, everyone wanting to see his own issue reflected in the final text. Such NGO texts have no impact on the governmental draft, which, at this stage, is already written. However, the NGO parallel conferences are useful for networking and coalition building since the problems addressed will not be solved by the UN conference and will require long and local efforts.

 

Anna Snyder was a participant-observer in the peace-oriented efforts leading up to the 1995 conference in which she also participated. Her participation and thus her analysis largely concerns the efforts of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), whose headquarters are in Geneva. They also have a UN office in New York. A WILPF representative, Gertrude Baer was the first NGO representative to follow the League of Nations and later followed arms control efforts when the UN returned to Geneva. Thus WILPF has much experience in UN work. The WILPF representatives had done much to have “peace” be one of the aims of the 1975 conference on women, at a time when many governments thought that they were making enough of an effort elsewhere, and that “peace” was not really a women’s issue. Strong from this first effort, WILPF has coordinated the peace aspect at the subsequent meetings — setting up a “peace tent” at which people could present their views and a “peace train” which went from Helsinki to Beijing for the 1995 World Conference.

 

As among governments, so among NGOs, there are tensions, personality conflicts, difficulties in “hearing” what is being said — or not being said. Anna Snyder describes with care and sympathy how such conflicts are discussed, how NGO agendas are set and declarations written. She deals in more detail with the difficulty of reaching consensus in an organization that does not want to take positions by voting.

 

She also describes the efforts of an independent group helped by WILPF to be active in the peace efforts — the Sudanese Women’s Voice for Peace (SWVP). The SWVP was formed in 1994 mostly by women in exile or refugees in Nairobi. The effort is helped by the Swedish Protestant research centre Life and Peace which has a Horn of Africa project. There have been a number of peace initiatives to bring the Sudanese civil war, whose current phase began in 1982, to an end. Talks have usually been held in Nairobi so that it is useful to have an independent peace group working there.

 

As UN conference declarations do not mention specific countries, the SWVP’s efforts in Beijing were for networking and support-building. There were also opportunities to meet with northern Sudanese women, though these were linked to the government and accompanied by male civil servants who did most of the talking. Snyder’s analysis of the SWVP is a good example of how a small group linked to an issue few people care about can try to use a large international meeting to highlight a specific situation and build contacts for the future. “ It is not what you say that is important but whom you meet” is often a justification for NGOs attending these parallel conferences, but it is often a valid justification. Without such UN meetings, face-to-face contacts would not be created, and such personal contacts are necessary to build up confidence in others— a function which will not be replaced by the internet.

 

Anna Snyder’s writing is lively and the persons she describes standout as real personalities. There is a good bibliography of books dealing with NGOs in the UN system and works on conflict resolution through dialogue — a book worth reading for those involved in international and intercultural peace efforts.

 

René Wadlow

 

 

 

UN Desert Decade

Rene Wadlow

 

The United Nations General Assembly has designated the decade 2010 to 2020 as the International Decade of Deserts and Desertification. It is estimated that dry lands cover approximately 40 percent of the world's landmass. Much of the dry lands are being degraded and risk turning into deserts.

 

What is the core of the desertification process? The destruction of land that was once productive does not come from mysterious and remorseless forces of Nature but from the actions of humans. Desertification is a social phenomenon. The causes of dry land degradation include overgrazing, deforestation, agricultural mismanagement, fuel wood over-consumption, industry and urbanization.

 

Thus, by preventing land degradation and improving agricultural practices, action to combat desertification can lead to increased agricultural productivity and alleviate poverty.

 

Citizens of the World stress that global environmental protection requires an inter-related approach, an ethic based on reverence for life, and practices based on ecologically-sound development.

 

For world citizens, an ecosystem is seen not as a collection of isolated organisms but rather as a set of inter-related systems and subsystems with open and overlapping boundaries. In the same way, an individual is a member of many groups − kinship, ethnic, religious, political and professional. Such groups overlap. They are not hierarchical in importance but rather, the groups interact.

 

The value of UN-designated decades is that the process of identifying major clusters of problems such as those of the UN Decade of Deserts brings together the best minds to bear on the issues. In this way, common political will can be found and creative actions will follow.

 

 

 

29 May: U.N. “Blue Helmets” Day

Rene Wadlow

 

How effective are U.N. peacekeeping operations in preventing and stopping violence? Are there alternatives to the ways that U.N. and regional organizations currently carry out peacekeeping operations? How effective are peacekeeping operations in addressing the root causes of conflicts? How does one measure the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations? 29 May is the date that the U.N. General Assembly has designated as the day to honor the efforts of U.N. Military peace keepers. Honor is due. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the “blue helmets” in 1988 − a testimony to the respect and confidence placed in them.

 

However, we must also ask questions of their effectiveness and if these military personnel should not be complemented by other forms of peace-building.

 

There have been recent news stories of U.N. Peace operations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These news stories often highlight the systematic rape of women in the area and the inability or unwillingness of U.N. Troops to stop the rapes which have become standard practice in the area on the part of both members of the armed insurgencies as well as by members of the regular Congolese Army. There are also other examples when “failure” is the key word in such evaluations of U.N. Forces.

 

The first reality is that there is no permanent U.N. trained and motivated troops. There are only national units loaned by some national governments but paid for by all U.N. Member States. Each government trains its army in its own spirit and values, though there is still an original English ethos as many U.N. troops come from India-Pakistan-Bangladesh-Nepal-Sri Lanka-Malaysia and Nigeria. Now China is starting to provide troops with a non-English tradition.

 

There have been proposals by some governments and non-governmental representatives for the creation of a permanent UN standby force. This has been rejected, usually on grounds of cost ( although it would be only a fraction of what is now spent on national armies.) There has also been an alternative proposal of creating within national armies specially-trained forces for UN use. In light of the fact that the great majority of UN troops come from south Asia, speak English and were originally formed in an English tradition, the creation of such units ready for quick use is a real possibility.

 

Moreover, there is no such thing as consistency and predictability in U.N. actions to preserve order. The world is too complex, and the UN Security Council resolutions are voted on the basis of national interest and political power considerations. U.N. “blue helmet” operations have grown both in numbers and complexity. Even with the best planning, the situation in which one deploys troops will always be fluid, and the assumption on which the planning was based may change.

 

To be successful, U.N. Peacekeeping operations need to have clear objectives, but such objectives cannot be set by the force commanders themselves. Peacekeeping forces are temporary measures that should give time for political leaders to work out a political agreement. The parties in conflict need to have a sense of urgency about resolving the conflict. Without that sense of urgency, peacekeeping operations can become eternal as they have in Cyprus and Lebanon.

 

U.N. Forces are one important element in a peacemakers tool kit, but there needs to be a wide range of peacebuilding techniques available. There must be concerted efforts by both diplomatic representatives and non-governmental organizations to resolve the conflicts where U.N. troops serve. Policemen, civilian political officers, human rights monitors, refugee and humanitarian aid specialists all play important roles along with the military. Yet non-military personnel are difficult to recruit.

 

In addition, it is difficult to control the impact of humanitarian aid and action as it ripples through a local society and economy because powerful factors in the conflict environment such as the presence of armed militias, acute political and ethnic polarization, the struggle over resources in a war economy will have unintended consequences.

 

As we honor the “Blue Helmets”, we need to put more effort on the prevention of armed conflicts, on improving techniques of mediation, and creating groups which cross the divides of class, religion, and ethnicity.

 

 

 

25 November: Silent Violence Against Women
Rene Wadlow*
 
            25 November is the UN-proclaimed International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Violence against women is a year-round occurrence and continues to an alarming degree.  Violence against women is an attack upon their bodily integrity and their dignity.  We need to place an emphasis on the universality of violence against women, the multiplicity of its forms and the ways in which violence, discrimination against women, and the broader system of domination based on subordination and inequality are inter-related.  The value of a special ‘Day’ is that it serves as a time of analysis of the issue and then of rededication to take both short-term and longer-range measures.
 
            Pierre Spitz, a former Geneva colleague, had coined the term “silent violence” for policies which not only perpetuate the existing system but in some cases reinforce it by forestalling the development of a political consciousness which might degenerate into social disorder. (1) In this spirit, we can speak of “silent violence” against women.  Both at the international UN level and at the national level, there have been programmes devoted to the equality of women and to the promotion of women in all fields.  There has been growing attention to physical violence against women, the creation of centers for battered women and attention given to the trafficking of women.  There has been just enough attention to women’s issues and enough advances of some women to prevent “the development of a political consciousness which might degenerate into social disorder.”  It has often been repeated that it is necessary to ensure the education, training, good health, employment promotion, and integration of women so that they can participate fully and effectively in the development process.
 
            Yet as Susan George, another former Geneva colleague, has written “That all governments are concerned for, and are representative of, the majority of their people is patent nonsense.  Plenty of governments are most concerned with enriching those who keep them in power.  Human rights, including the right to food, run a poor second.” (2).
 
            Women have largely remained invisible and inaudible by being allowed to have the key role in the “informal sector” — those sectors of the economy that are the least organized, often left out of the statistics of the formal economy as if it did not count. Women have turned to the informal sector — or have been pushed into it — as a way of sustaining a livelihood for their families.  Women’s work in this sector accounts for a large proportion of total female employment in most developing countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia.  The informal sector, though often considered marginal in economic planning, tends to account for a significant proportion of total employment.
 
            In this informal sector, women work as food producers, traders, home-based workers, domestic workers, recyclers of waste, prostitutes, and increasingly engage in drug trafficking — anything to earn an income to feed their children. The informal sector is their last hope for economic and social survival for themselves and their families.
 
            In the informal society, women survive and often have a major responsibility for the economy of the whole family.  Fathers are often absent by need or by choice.  Some women do well in the informal sector and serve as a model — or a hope — as to what others can accomplish.  Self-employed women are increasingly helped by micro-credit programs. These are useful but rarely do such loans allow a person to move outside the informal economy.
 
            There has been a good deal of research on women’s role in agriculture, on women’s informal-sector employment, and increasingly on women’s entrepreneurship.  Researchers in different world regions have pointed to the handicaps faced by women to obtain credit and in getting access to new agricultural technologies.  However, research has rarely been brought into the mainstream of global or national decision-making.
 
            Inequality and the walls built around the informal sector are the marks of the “silent violence” against women.  Amartya Sen defined the major challenge of human development as “broadening the limited lives into which the majority of human beings are willy-nilly imprisoned by the forces of circumstance.”  On 25 November, this day for the elimination of violence against women, we need to look closely at the social, cultural and economic walls that imprison.
 
(1) Pierre Spitz. “Silent violence: famine and inequality” International Social Science Journal Vol. XXX (1978)
 
(2) Susan George. Ill Fares the Land (Washington, DC: Institute of Policy Studies, 1988).
 
            * Rene Wadlow,President and representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

 

 

 

Citizens of the World Welcome the UN Security Council Resolution against Rape as a Weapon of War

 

         In a message to the President of the UN Security Council, the Ambassador of Great Britain, Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens, welcomed the Council’s unanimous resolution on 24 June 2013 demanding the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violence by all parties in armed conflict.  He stressed that “It is time that the United Nations takes a clear and strong stand against rape as a weapon of war and works to monitor sexual violence in armed conflict.  The Association of World Citizens welcomes the resolution as an important signal to perpetrators that their acts will no longer be tolerated and that they will be held accountable.  Even after a war ends, the effects of sexual violence continue in the form of unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted infections, discrimination and ostracizing of victims and often lasting psychological damage.”

 

         As Meredeth Turshen and Clotilde Twagiramariya point out in their book What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa (London: Zed Press, 1998, 173pp.) “There are numerous types of rape.  Rape is committed to boast the soldiers’ morale, to feed soldiers’ hatred of the enemy, their sense of superiority, and to keep them fighting; rape is one kind of war booty; women are raped because war intensifies men’s sense of entitlement, superiority, avidity, and social licence to rape; rape is a weapon of war used to spread political terror; rape can destabilize a society and break its resistance; rape is a form of torture; gang rapes in public terrorize and silence women and force them to flee homes, families and communities; rape targets women because they keep the civilian population functioning and are essential to its social and physical continuity; rape is used in ethnic cleansing; it is designed to drive women from their homes or destroy their possibility of reproduction within or “for” their community; genocidal rape treats women as “reproductive vessels”, to make them bear babies of the rapists’ nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, and genocidal rape aggravates women’s terror and future stigma, producing a class of outcast mothers and children — this is rape committed with consciousness of how unacceptable a raped woman is to the patriarchal community and to herself. This list combines individual and group motives with obedience to military command; in doing so, it gives a political context to violence against women, and it is this political context that needs to be incorporated in the social response to rape.”

 

         The Association of World Citizens first raised the issue in the UN Commission on Human Rights in March 2001 after the judgement of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia sitting in the Hague on 22 February 2001 in the case of Kumarac, Kovac and Vukovic.  The Tribunal maintained that there can be no time limitation on bringing an accused to trial.  The Tribunal also reinforced the possibility of universal jurisdiction — that a person can be tried not only by his national court but by      any court claiming universal jurisdiction and where the accused is present.

 

         The Association of World Citizens stressed the use of rape as a weapon of war in the Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights on Human Rights Violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has repeatedly drawn attention to the issue there since.

 

         Wartime rape is a dramatic example of violence against women, but we must keep in mind that world-wide, girls and women, across lines of income, class and culture, are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse.  Violence can take many forms including rape, genital mutilation, “honour” crimes, and sexual trafficking.

 

         However, women should not only be seen as victims of war.  They are often significantly involved in taking initiatives to promote peace and finding alternatives to violence.  UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (31October 2000) called for full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace processes and peace-building, thus calling for women to be fully involved in governance and leadership

 

         We need to have a peace-building approach which asks how does  political conflict degenerate into pervasive mass violence, generating new crises and new forms of violent conflict in the future.  How does a community pull itself out from the cycle of violence and set up sustainable ways of living in which different categories of people are able to contribute?

 

         The Association of World Citizens along with governments and other civil society groups will build upon the Security Council’s new resolution on rape as a weapon of war to help create new awareness, new attitudes, and new institutions of conflict resolution to promote human dignity.



 

25 November: Silent Violence Against Women
Rene Wadlow*
 
            25 November is the UN-proclaimed International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Violence against women is a year-round occurrence and continues to an alarming degree.  Violence against women is an attack upon their bodily integrity and their dignity.  We need to place an emphasis on the universality of violence against women, the multiplicity of its forms and the ways in which violence, discrimination against women, and the broader system of domination based on subordination and inequality are inter-related.  The value of a special ‘Day’ is that it serves as a time of analysis of the issue and then of rededication to take both short-term and longer-range measures.
 
            Pierre Spitz, a former Geneva colleague, had coined the term “silent violence” for policies which not only perpetuate the existing system but in some cases reinforce it by forestalling the development of a political consciousness which might degenerate into social disorder. (1) In this spirit, we can speak of “silent violence” against women.  Both at the international UN level and at the national level, there have been programmes devoted to the equality of women and to the promotion of women in all fields.  There has been growing attention to physical violence against women, the creation of centers for battered women and attention given to the trafficking of women.  There has been just enough attention to women’s issues and enough advances of some women to prevent “the development of a political consciousness which might degenerate into social disorder.”  It has often been repeated that it is necessary to ensure the education, training, good health, employment promotion, and integration of women so that they can participate fully and effectively in the development process.
 
            Yet as Susan George, another former Geneva colleague, has written “That all governments are concerned for, and are representative of, the majority of their people is patent nonsense.  Plenty of governments are most concerned with enriching those who keep them in power.  Human rights, including the right to food, run a poor second.” (2).
 
            Women have largely remained invisible and inaudible by being allowed to have the key role in the “informal sector” — those sectors of the economy that are the least organized, often left out of the statistics of the formal economy as if it did not count. Women have turned to the informal sector — or have been pushed into it — as a way of sustaining a livelihood for their families.  Women’s work in this sector accounts for a large proportion of total female employment in most developing countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia.  The informal sector, though often considered marginal in economic planning, tends to account for a significant proportion of total employment.
 
            In this informal sector, women work as food producers, traders, home-based workers, domestic workers, recyclers of waste, prostitutes, and increasingly engage in drug trafficking — anything to earn an income to feed their children. The informal sector is their last hope for economic and social survival for themselves and their families.
 
            In the informal society, women survive and often have a major responsibility for the economy of the whole family.  Fathers are often absent by need or by choice.  Some women do well in the informal sector and serve as a model — or a hope — as to what others can accomplish.  Self-employed women are increasingly helped by micro-credit programs. These are useful but rarely do such loans allow a person to move outside the informal economy.
 
            There has been a good deal of research on women’s role in agriculture, on women’s informal-sector employment, and increasingly on women’s entrepreneurship.  Researchers in different world regions have pointed to the handicaps faced by women to obtain credit and in getting access to new agricultural technologies.  However, research has rarely been brought into the mainstream of global or national decision-making.
 
            Inequality and the walls built around the informal sector are the marks of the “silent violence” against women.  Amartya Sen defined the major challenge of human development as “broadening the limited lives into which the majority of human beings are willy-nilly imprisoned by the forces of circumstance.”  On 25 November, this day for the elimination of violence against women, we need to look closely at the social, cultural and economic walls that imprison.
 
(1) Pierre Spitz. “Silent violence: famine and inequality” International Social Science Journal Vol. XXX (1978)
 
(2) Susan George. Ill Fares the Land (Washington, DC: Institute of Policy Studies, 1988).
 
            * Rene Wadlow,President and representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens




 
10 October: Abolition of the Death Penalty

Rene Wadlow



“I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death. I am not on his pay-roll. I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends nor of my enemies either.” Edna St Vincent Millay



10 October is the International Day Against the Death Penalty, set by the United Nations General Assembly. Since the end of World War II, there has been a gradual abolition of the death penalty with the rather obvious recognition that death is not justice. In some countries, executions have been suspended in practice but laws allowing executions remain; in other cases there has been a legal abolition.



The clear words of the American poet Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) have been a credo for those who have opposed executions on moral grounds:

This is a man

He is a poor creature

You are not to kill him

This is a man

He has a hard time

Upon the earth

You are not to kill him.



There are also those who oppose the death penalty on the practical grounds that it has little impact on the rate of killing in society.



10 October can also be a day to oppose all organized killings. In addition to State-sponsored official executions, often 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 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. This is what the United Nations called “enforced or involuntary disappearances.” Attacks by drones are also a form of State-organized executions without trial or the possibility of appeal.



There is also a growth in non-governmental targeted killings. Attention has focused recently on the drug-trade-related death of Mexico’s “drug lords”. These groups of organized crime have many of the negative attributes of States. Their opponents are designated for killing and executed by those on the pay-roll of death. These groups are not limited to Mexico. In addition, there are a good number of countries where non-governmental guerrilla groups exist and carry out executions.



Thus our efforts against executions need to be addressed both to governments and to those State-like non-governmental armed groups. The abolition of executions and the corresponding valuation of human life are necessary steps to building a just society. As the late Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations wrote in his essay The Right Not to Kill “In every epoch of history there are a few exceptional human beings who are blessed with a correct vision of the place of the human person on earth. This vision is always basically the same:

It recognizes the oneness and supremacy of the human family, irrespective of color, sex, creed, nation or any other distinctive characteristics;



It recognizes each individual human being as a unique miracle of divine origin, a cosmos of his own, never to be repeated again in all eternity;



It rejects all violence as being contrary to the sanctity and the uniqueness of life, and advocates love, tolerance, truth, cooperation and reverence for life as the only civilized means of achieving a peaceful and happy society;



It preaches love and care for our beautiful and so diverse planet in the fathomless universe;



It sees each human life and society as part of an eternal stream of time and ever ascending evolution;



It recognizes that the ultimate mysteries of life, time and the universe will forever escape the human mind and therefore bends in awe and humility before these mysteries and God;



It advocates gratitude and joy for the privilege of being admitted to the banquet of life;



It preaches hope, faith, optimism and a deep commitment to the moral and ethical virtues of peace and justice distilled over eons of time as the foundations for further human ascent.”



Muller went on to add “We must restore optimism and continue to sharpen our inborn instincts for life, for the positive, foe self-preservation, for survival and human fulfilment at ever higher levels of consciousness. We must conquer the duality, the negative, the suicidal. These all contain dangerous self-finding processes of destruction. We must turn instead to the mysterious self-generation powers of hope, creative thinking, love, life affirmation and faith.”



Thus, as we mark on 10 October our opposition to the death penalty, let us stress the dignity of all persons and the strength of the affirmation of life.



Rene Wadlow



 
The United Nations: The Reflection of the World Society
Rene Wadlow

In 1993, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote “From the outset of my mandate, I have been convinced that the structure of the Organization must mirror, as closely as possible, the tasks it is assigned to undertake. An institution must reflect the objectives it pursues.” He went on to stress the vast challenges of famine, drought, AIDS, civil wars, uprooted and displaced populations and human misery in many parts of the world. Thus Boutros-Ghali proposed measures to promote coordination and greater cooperation with non-governmental organizations.

All major problems and preoccupations concerning our planet are reflected in the discussions and studies of the United Nations. Such important challenges as preserving our environment, our cultural diversity, and our heritage of our past are under consideration in different parts of the UN system. All of us can take courage and hope in these efforts of the human community to solve environmental and social problems.

Through the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies, governments and people can obtain a planetary view of the human environment. Within the UN system, we can evaluate progress in issues of health, food, industry, and housing.

World cooperation has become a powerful asset, brought about by the deep forces which are at work in the present phase of evolution. To hold the human family together, to permit the further ascent, to prevent it from losing ground and falling into the abyss of despair, we must have a constant vision, a dream for the human family. The development of peace, justice, and cooperation rests largely in the hands of the people whop make up the 192 member States and the over 2000 non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN such as the Association of World Citizens.

Through the UN, bridges are being built. We are learning from each other. We are making constant progress in human relations. We are entering one of the most fascinating and challenging eras of human evolution. In order to meet this challenge we must be able to rely upon a vastly increased number of people with a world view. Developing such a world view is a major aim of the Association of World Citizens. The goal of the Association is the creation of a world in which the rich diversity of cultures exists together in an atmosphere marked by understanding, appreciation, and solidarity. A spirit of world citizenship builds on other aspects of personal identity such as gender, family, community and nationality. We strive to restore the great moral force of love, compassion and hope which is at the root of human progress.



 
Non-governmental Organizations in the United Nation: The Voices of the Future
Rene Wadlow

The Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) written just after the end of the destructive Second World War states that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the United Nations, such as the Association of World Citizens, have played an important role in changing attitudes both among the representatives of governments and among the wider public. NGOs have stressed the need for real cooperation in meeting the many challenges facing humanity, challenges which require new and innovative strategies.

It is abundantly clear that many challenges facing humanity require new and innovative strategies. The United Nations has a unique role to play in responding to these challenges. The United Nations is the only truly universal organizations with a mandate that covers virtually all areas of human endeavour. In an interdependent world, problems cannot be solved without a sense of commitment to the good of the whole.

There is a need for further empowerment of the UN system for conflict prevention as well as promoting the values of a culture of peace. Yet it is also clear that the UN cannot fulfil its weighty responsibility set out in the Charter alone. It needs to reach out to a wider circle of talents for we need to draw upon insights, ingenuity, determination and compassion to make this world a place of dignity and joy.

Thus, increasingly the energy and talent of members of non-governmental organizations are linked directly to UN efforts both as a source of ideas and as a powerful multiplier of actions to develop policies and structures of peace and non-violence.

The representatives of the Association of World Citizens are turned toward the future. As Fredrico Mayor, former Director General of UNESCO has said “One great task is to be the look-outs for the future, since in this way we shall be able to anticipate and prevent. Prevention is the greatest victory since it is what avoids suffering and avoids confrontation.”

The future belongs to those who give the next generation reasons to hope. A vision of the future precedes the creation of a new reality. If we cannot envision the world we would like to live in, we cannot work towards its creation. We need a vision of the future as a time of great healing and social transformation. With a vision of the future, we can see better how each of us can contribute to this wider transformation. The real future is the future which is built by the inspiration of a vision. A vision creates hope, enthusiasm and conscious actions to actualize the vision. Thus we need to keep an open mind, to seek truth and to inform ourselves of the points of view of others.

The actions of the Association of World Citizens are directed toward a future of freedom, dignity, and world unity.




 
Citizen Diplomacy of Women : The New Cycle Begins
Rene Wadlow
 
            On 31 October 2002, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1325  (2000)  urging “Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.”  Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was the first time that the UN Security Council acknowledged that women play a key role in promoting sustainable peace and stressed the participation of women in peace processes from the prevention of conflict, to negotiations, to post-war reconstruction and reconciliation.
 
            Work for such a resolution in the Security Council had begun at least five years earlier at the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women with its Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and especially at the non-governmental forum which had been held just outsideBeijing, where peacemaking was an important theme.
 
            In January 2000, to mark five years since the Beijing Conference, there was an important meeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) along with governmental observers, at the UN Palais des Nations in GenevaSwitzerland on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.  With more than 650 participants from 51 countries, there was a broad cross section of views.  It was the first such NGO conference since the 1990 end of the Cold War.  Thus there were a large number of representatives from Russia, other states of the former Soviet Union as well as Eastern Europe.
 
            The report of the Conference stressed in particular that “It is necessary that women participate politically in all decisions which influence their lives, specially at conception, execution and evaluation of development programmes and of official peace negotiations. Participation in economic decisions should be guaranteed at all levels of decision-making. Consideration must be given to women’s diversity: particularly young and older women must be fully integrated in decision-making and the policy process.  In order to assume women’s equality and participation at all levels of public life, governments must recognize NGOs as an essential factor of democracy.”
 
            A good number of the participants both women and men, including myself, had long experience with the UN system.  We thought that a resolution by the UN Security Council would have the most impact since it rarely discussed social issues. There had been numerous resolutions of the UN Economic and Social Council or the UN Commission on Human Rights dealing with the equality and importance of women.  However such resolutions had had limited impact on national governments’ policy or UN agencies.  A UN Security Council resolution would get more attention and indicate a link between the security of States —  the chief mandate of the Security Council — and what was increasingly called ‘human security’ — that is, the security of people.  Thus following theGeneva meeting, there was a need to convince the members of the Security Council, which meets usually in New York, that such a resolution was needed.
 
            Intense contacts were made between NGO representatives in New York and Security Council members, as well as with Foreign Ministry officials. It would be too much to say that there was enthusiasm for such a resolution, but there were few governments which wanted to say publicly that women are not important.  Moreover the 1990s had been a decade of intrastate conflicts especially in former Yugoslavia, the former USSR, andAfrica.  The fate of women and children was on the minds of many governmental delegates, and so the resolution called attention to the “special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction.”
 
            It was also important to find the balance between calling attention to the special needs of women and children in times of conflict and yet not to reinforce the stereotype of women as victims only.  Thus, there was a need to stress the important positive role that women play as peacebuilders and their potential role in peace processes and negotiations.
 
            NGO representatives and then friendly governments on the Security Council took up the issue, especially when government representatives saw that NGOs would take up such a resolution in a positive way and make efforts to inform women of the resolution and train women to move to action.  The planning of the Security Council meetings was such that the resolution was adopted on 31 October — a day which is marked in the USA as Halloween. At Halloween, children dress up in costumes such as ghosts and witches.  This led to some unkind but private remarks concerning the large number of women in the public section of the Security Council chamber that “the witches are out tonight.”
 
            Resolution 1325 is an important building tool for the role of women in peacemaking.  The resolution, by itself, has not changed things radically.  There are still few women at the table when serious peace negotiations or re-construction planning is undertaken.  However, Resolution 1325 sets out the guidelines, and now NGOs, governments, and UN agencies can work to transform these guidelines into practice.  In many cultures and spiritual traditions, there is the idea of the significance of seven-year cycles.  We can see the first seven years of Resolution 1325 as the planting of the seed. Now, seven years later, the plant may be ready to give fruit.  A new cycle begins.
 


 

 
 
 
World Citizens call for urgent action to end human trafficking — a modern-day slave trade.
        
 
            The Association of World Citizens in a 28 February 2012 message to the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr Sha Zuhang, underlines the recent increase in the scope, intensity and sophistication of trafficking of human beings around the world that threatens the safety of citizens everywhere and hinders countries in their social, economic, and cultural development.
 
            The smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of human beings for prostitution and slave labor have become two of the fastest growing worldwide problems of recent years. From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities — especially women and girls — are attracted by the prospects of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order bride catalogues, casual acquaintances, and even family members.
 
            However, trafficking in human beings is not confined to the “sex industry”.  Children are trafficked to work in sweatshops and men to work in the “three Ds jobs” — dirty, difficult, and dangerous.  The lack of economic, political and social structures providing women with equal job opportunities has also contributed to the feminization of poverty, which in turn has given rise to the feminization of migration, as women leave their homes to look for viable economic solutions.  In addition, political instability, militarism, civil unrest, internal armed conflicts and natural catastrophes increase women’s vulnerability and can contribute to the development of trafficking.
 
         Trafficking impacts the lives of millions of people — those trafficked and their family members — especially from poorer countries or the poor sections of countries. Trafficking of persons has become a multi-billion dollar business and ranks right after the trade in drugs and guns. Trafficking is often an activity of organized crime.  In some cases, it is the same organization which deals in drugs, guns and people.  In other cases, there is a “division of labor”, but the groups are usually in contact.
 
            Thus drugs, guns, illegal immigration — these form a nightmare vision of the dark side of globalization with untold human costs. Human trafficking affects women, men and children in their deepest being. It strikes at what is most precious in them: their dignity and their value as individuals.  Trafficked persons experience painful and traumatizing situations which can be with them for the rest of their lives. From recruitment to exploitation, they lose their identity and desperately struggle against a situation that reduces them to objects. Thus the root causes of trafficking in human beings are multiple and interlinked and include issues as gender inequalities, poverty, low economic conditions and employment opportunities.  Therefore, a multi-sector approach to tracking such root causes is crucial.
 
            The Association of World Citizens stresses that the fight against human trafficking must be waged in a global and multidimensional way by the United Nations, regional intergovernmental organizations, by national governments and by non-governmental organizations so that countries of origin, transit and destination develop cooperative strategies and practical action against trade in human beings.  One of the foundations of cooperation is mutual trust. When mutual trust is established, cooperation becomes a natural way to act.
 
            As trafficking in people is more often tolerated by the law enforcement agencies than drugs or guns, there has been a shift of criminal organizations toward trafficking in people. 116 governments have signed a UN-promoted 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking, Especially Women and Children which entered into force in December 2003.  However, trafficking in persons is often not a priority for national governments. Some countries which are important links in the trade of persons such as IndiaPakistan, andJapan have not yet signed.
 
            .For many governments, trafficking is considered a question of illegal migration, and there is relatively little (in some cases no) consideration of the problems of the individual being trafficked.  Human concern for those caught in the web is a prime contribution of non-governmental organizations.  Concern for physical and mental health is crucial.  There is also an obvious need to deal with the issues which have created these pools of people from which traffickers can draw.  The large number of refugees from Iraq — over two million in Jordan and Syria — await better political and economic conditions in Iraq so they can return home.
 
            Thus, Rene Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens stressed in the message that one of the aspects of trafficking in which non-governmental organizations can play a crucial role is the psychological healing of the victims. Unfortunately, the victim’s psychological health is often ignored by governments. Victims often suffer a strong psychological shock that disrupts their psychological integrity.  The result is a lack of self-esteem after having experienced such traumatizing events.
 
            Within the Association of World Citizens we must not underestimate the difficulties and dangers which exist in the struggle against trafficking in persons nor the hard efforts which are needed for the psychological healing of victims.  However, as World Citizens, we have the opportunity of dealing with a crucial world issue.
 

 
 
	Bas  Arts, Math Noortmann, Bob Reinalda (Eds.)
	Non-State Actors in International Relations
	(Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001, 318pp.)


	There is a growing interest in the role of non-governmental 
organizations (NGO) in the making and the implementation of policies at 
the international level.  Building on such path making studies as P. 
Willets (Ed.) The Consciences of the World: the Influence of 
Non-Governmental Organizations in the UN system (London: Hurst, 1996), 
T. Princen and M. Finger (Eds.) Environmental NGOs in World Politics. 
Linking the Global and the Local (London: Routledge, 1994), and M.Keck 
and K. Sikkink Activists without Borders: Advocacy Networks in 
International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998), a 
group of international relations scholars from the Netherlands look at 
the increasing role of NGOs in day-to-day politics at the United 
Nations and the European Union.

	There has always been something of a problem in defining institutions 
in a negative way.  NGOs are not governments and are not usually 
created by governments..Thus, while the term NGO is likely to continue 
to be widely used, the term “transnational advocacy networks” would be 
a better analytical term and covers the bulk of the new information in 
this book.

	Trans-national advocacy networks are most active at the United 
Nations, where, through time and persistent effort, NGO representatives 
have developed a structured role for themselves, especially in such 
fields as human rights, ecology and humanitarian relief.  NGOs are 
starting to play a role in the Organization for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe, and there are close links between the European 
Union and NGOs, especially in the field of development cooperation.

	The role of NGO representatives is to influence policies through 
participation in the entire policy-making process.  What distinguishes 
the NGO representative’s role at the UN from lobbying at the national 
level is that one may appeal to and discuss with the representatives of 
many different governments.  While some governments may be unwilling to 
consider the ideas of anyone other than the mandate they receive from 
the Foreign Ministry, others are more open. Out of the more than 100 
States usually present at most UN meetings, the NGO representatives 
will always find some which are “on the same wave length” or who are 
looking for additional information on which to take a decision.

	As with all diplomacy in multilateral forums such as the UN, much 
depends upon the skill and knowledge of the NGO representatives and on 
the close working relations which they are able to develop with some 
government representatives and some members of the UN Secretariat.  NGO 
representatives have little power – that is, a permanent ability to 
influence policy outcomes, but on specific issues where they have 
expert knowledge, they can have a real impact – though this is always 
difficult to measure objectively since only government representatives 
can vote.

	Bas Arts does propose some techniques for the objective study of NGO 
influence in his useful presentation of “The Impact of Environmental 
NGOs on International Conventions”.  This is more easily done in the 
environmental field as each convention – biological diversity, global 
warming, etc – was negotiated separately, but with many of the same 
NGOs present.  It is more difficult to measure the NGO role in 
disarmament and security questions.  It is certain that NGO 
mobilization for an end to nuclear testing and for a ban on land mines 
played a role in the conventions which were steps forward for humanity. 
 However on other arms issues, NGO input is more difficult to analyze.

	NGOs can work more easily and more effectively in a structured forum.  
The International Labour Organisation is the best example of an 
officially structured role for certain types of non-governmental 
organizations: labour unions and employers associations which have an 
equal vote with government representatives.  Gerda van Roozendaal’s 
analysis of “The Influence of Trade Unions on the Social Clause 
Controversy in the International Labour Organisation and its Working 
Party” is useful in showing how these three actors interact when faced 
with a new issue.

	“Trans-national advocacy networks” is also the best term to cover most 
of the recent mobilization efforts at the United Nations such as the 
landmine campaign, that for an International Criminal Court, or for 
increased protection from violence for women and children.  The groups 
working on these issues are found in many different countries but have 
learned to work trans-nationally, both through face-to-face meetings 
and on the internet.  The groups in the campaigns share a certain 
number of values and ideas but may differ on others.  Thus, they come 
together on an ad hoc basis around one project or a small number of 
related issues.  Yet their effectiveness is based on their being able 
to function over a relatively long period of time – at least a decade – 
in rather complex networks even when direct success or influence is 
limited.

	These campaigns are based on networks which combine actors of 
different types across various levels of government.  The campaigns are 
alliances among different types of organizations – membership groups, 
academic institutes, religious bodies, ad hoc local groupings, etc.  
Some groups are well known,   most are not.

	However, it is difficult for new actors to enter the field and for new 
issues to be put on the agenda.  Therefore, it is necessary for the 
campaigns to work with NGO representatives who are already known in the 
UN milieu and who are trusted by government representatives and the UN 
Secretariat.  Such NGO representatives can serve as mediators between 
the new advocacy coalitions and policy makers.

	There is a need to be able to work at the local, the national, and the 
UN level all at the same time.  Advocacy movements need to be able to 
contact key decision makers in national parliaments, government 
administrations and intergovernmental secretariats.  Such mobilization 
is difficult, and for each “success story” there are many failed 
efforts which were unable to build the necessary momentum.

	While this is not a handbook for trans-national advocacy campaigns but 
an academic analysis, the study will be of help to activists as well as 
a contribution to techniques of analysis on decision-making in 
international organizations.

									René Wadlow



 
 
Paul F. Diehl and Daniel Druckman
Evaluating Peace Operations
(Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2010, 238 pp)



	How effective are peacekeeping operations in preventing and stopping 
violence?  Are there alternatives to the ways that U.N. and regional 
organizations currently carry out peacekeeping operations?  How 
effective are peacekeeping operations in addressing the root causes of 
the conflict?  How does one measure the effectiveness of peacekeeping 
operations?  These are some of the questions which Diehl and Druckman 
address in this useful study with an emphasis on the methodology of 
evaluating peacekeeping operations.

	There have been recent news stories of the U.N. peace operations in 
the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Failure” is a 
often used word to describe the operation.  News stories often 
highlight the systematic rape of women in the area and the inability or 
unwillingness of U.N. troops to stop the rapes which have become a 
standard practice in the area both on the part of the members of the 
armed insurgencies as well as by members of the regular Congolese Army. 
  There are also other examples where “failure” is the key word in 
popular evaluations.  As the authors point out, “In the eyes of many, 
the lasting image from the peacekeeping efforts in Somalia is the body 
of a US soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.  Almost 
two decades after peace operations were first deployed there, Somalia 
is still a failed state, lacking a central government that controls all 
of Somali territory.  From this perspective, the two U.N. operations 
there, as well as the US mission, were miserable failures.  At the same 
time, peacekeepers provided food and medical care to hundreds of 
thousands of internally displaced Somalis and no doubt saved countless 
lives.  From that vantage point, the peace operations were successful.  
What explains the great divergence in assessment?  Clearly, much 
depends on the standards used to evaluate peace missions, as well as 
the evidence used to make judgements according to those standards.”

	Diehl and Druckman set out a complete, if rather complicated, 
framework for evaluation taking into consideration policy decisions as 
to goals and means.  Their framework concerns objectives, measures of 
progress, benefits, limitations and key questions which must be asked 
at every stage — prior to deployment, during and in the postconflict 
peacebuilding process.

	Their framework is more complete than the usual U.N. “lessons-learned” 
post mortem evaluations. Nor does it have the personal story aspect of 
Andrew Thomson, Kenneth Cain and Heidi Postlewait’s Emergency Sex and 
Other Desperate Measures (Miramax, 2004). A question arises concerning 
the Diehl-Druckman framework: is this more than an academic exercise 
for a rational world or will it help in the messy, ad hoc 
emergency-response world in which the U.N. has to work?  The first 
reality is that there are no permanent U.N.-trained and motivated 
troops.  There are only national units loaned by some national 
governments but paid for by all the U.N. member states. Each government 
trains its army in its own spirit and values, through there is still an 
original English ethos as many U.N. troops come from 
India-Pakistan-Bangladesh-Nepal and Nigeria.

	There have been suggestions, some even before the creation of U.N. 
peacekeeping efforts, that there should be a permanent U.N. force, 
trained to common standards, and on call for prompt action. As 
experience has shown that soldiers are not able to carry out fully all 
the tasks that need to be met, the proposals now often speak of a “U.N. 
Emergency Peace Service” that would include police, relief workers and 
judiciary to recreate a court system.  Former U.N. Secretary General 
Kofi Annan who had also been in charge of the Secretariat section 
overseeing peacekeeping has compared the job of building support and 
raising funds for each new U.N. peacekeeping mission to that of a 
volunteer fire chief who is forced to raise funds, find volunteers and 
secure a fire truck for each new fire.

	Moreover, the current U.N. peacekeeping troops are not trained for 
loyalty to the U.N. and its values.  While many U.N. troop members have 
served bravely, there are also those who in a difficult situation avoid 
getting shot at.  Issues of moral, loyalty, responsibility to follow 
soldiers and responsibility to civilians have always been 
considerations in the training of national troops. Most of these issues 
are passed over with generalities in the U.N. system.

	Diehl and Druckman highlight the context in which peacekeepers must 
operate.  One of their most important chapters is “Context Matters” 
where they set out categories to study the dimensions of the conflict 
environment. They mention but do not develop the idea of unarmed 
civilian peacekeeping. Basically, if U.N. troops are not going to shoot 
except in cases of direct attacks on them, are soldiers what are really 
needed? Could we not have non-violent peace brigades? The authors 
provide a useful bibliography of works on peacekeeping operations.  
Their study is a real contribution to an important on-going issue.

	Rene Wadlow
 



 
Citizens of the World Call for Increased Action and Cooperation in the 
Struggle Against Trafficking in Persons

Rene Wadlow*

	The old structures of oppression are crumbling — those of caste, 
class, gender, and nation.  They are being replaced by the values of 
equality, respect and cooperation with an emphasis on popular 
participation and people-centred development.

	One of the most destructive forms of oppression is that of trafficking 
in persons. Such trafficking is done in total disregard for the dignity 
of the person and of his welfare. The recent increase in the scope, 
intensity and sophistication of crime around the world threatens the 
safety of citizens everywhere and hinders countries in their social, 
economic, and cultural development. The dark side of globalization 
allows multinational criminal syndicates to broaden their range of 
operations from drug and arms sales to trafficking in human beings.

	The smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of human beings for 
prostitution and slave labour have become two of the fastest growing 
worldwide problems of recent years.  From Himalayan villages to Eastern 
European cities — especially women and girls— are attracted by the 
prospect of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory 
worker. Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, 
mail-order bride catalogues, casual acquaintances, and even family;

	The lack of economic, political and social structures providing women 
with equal job opportunities has also contributed to the feminization 
of poverty, which in turn has given rise to the feminization of 
migration, as women leave their homes to look for viable economic 
solutions.  In addition, political instability, militarism, civil 
unrest, internal armed conflict and natural catastrophes increase 
women’s vulnerability and can contribute to the rise of trafficking.

	However, trafficking in human beings is not confined to the ‘sex 
industry’. Children are trafficked to work in sweatshops, and men to 
work in the “three D jobs” — dirty, difficult and dangerous.

	Citizens of the world have constantly called upon the United Nations, 
National Governments and civil society organizations to cooperate 
better together to halt this trade, destructive of the dignity of the 
person and of mutual trust within society.

	We must not underestimate the difficulties and dangers which exist in 
the struggle against trafficking. It is a task which requires 
participatory action to change attitudes, overcome apathy and root out 
deep-set corruption.  Citizens of the World with their broad view of a 
just world society can play an important role in this common effort.

*Rene Wadlow, President and Representative to the United Nations, 
Geneva, Association of World Citizens



 
Isak Svensson and Peter Wallensteen
The Go-Between : Jan Eliasson and Styles of Mediation
(Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace, 2010, 170pp.)

	As the authors point out “In polarized situations of armed conflict
and humanitarian crisis, there is often a need for a go-between, an
international third-party mediator who can help to overcome barriers
and divisions that keep conflicting parties apart. There is a growing
awareness that international mediators can play a critical role in the
process from war to peace.”

	There are basically three sources of mediators. One, the focus of this
book, is the United Nations which has provided leadership opportunities
for negotiation, strategic coordination, and appropriate tools to
implement peace agreements.  The second source is national governments,
the “shuttle diplomacy” of Henry Kissinger in the Middle East being a
classic example or President Bill Clinton’s efforts in the same area,
or Richard Holbrook in the ex-Yugoslav conflict.  National government
mediation is now often called “Track I” mediation.  Track I efforts can
call upon the power and resources of a national government, but
national governments also have “national interests” and are not
necessarily neutral or seen as neutral.

	What is now called Track II diplomacy after the writings of Joseph
Montville are nongovernmental and thus unofficial efforts. Track I and
Track II can be used at the same time, but often Track II is used when
there are no Track I efforts going on or when one of the parties in the
conflict is not a State but armed non-governmental groups such as in
the current conflicts in Mali, Darfur, Sudan and the Democratic
Republic of Congo.

	The work of a UN-designated mediator fall between Track I and Track
II. There is an official mandate for action, often a resolution of the
UN Security Council.  However, the UN mediator can rarely use threats,
has no funds to promise aid to back up his suggestions, usually has a
very small staff and cannot call upon the type of diplomatic resources
that a national government has. It was only in 2007 that a Mediation
Support Office was set up within the UN.  Until then, UN staff had to
be pulled from other work, and seldom have UN mediators had offices on
the ground constantly monitoring developments.

	There is, as yet, no “training school” for international mediators,
and thus one of the only ways to learn is to look at the style and
techniques of experienced mediators.  This book looks at key efforts by
the Swedish diplomat and sometimes UN official Jan Eliasson in four
conflict situations: the Iran-Iraq war; two aspects of the Sudan
conflict: the North-South Sudan civil war and the armed militias in
Darfur; the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia,
and the 1992 refugee flow of Rohingyas from Burma to Bangladesh. (1) It
happens that in each of these conflicts I was involved at the same time
in Track II efforts but working largely from the UN in Geneva and knew
some of what Eliasson was doing from UN staff involved.  While this
review does not aim to “compare and contrast” official and unofficial
efforts, I have a feeling for the difficulties that Eliasson faced
though I had none of the “cards” which Eliasson had in his hand.

	Although Sweden is a democratic and in many ways an equalitarian
country, in practice there is a small, aristocratic elite which goes
into diplomacy, banking and to some extent, politics. Count Bernadotte,
the first UN Israel-Palestine mediator, Dag Hammarskjold and his less
well-known brother who was a UN Specialized Agency director, Olof
Palme, Prime Minister and then chair of an important arms control study
and Jan Eliasson all come from the same milieu.  They are able to call
upon others from the milieu for help and advice. Thus Eliasson could
call upon the Swedish Foreign Ministry for informal help in ways that
Djibril Bassolé who followed him as UN mediator in the Darfur conflict
could not call informally upon the same type of resources of the
Burkina-Faso Foreign Ministry.

	 Swedish diplomats in the UN system have always been open to
discussions with NGO representatives, and so in many ways it was
natural for Eliasson to discuss with field staff from NGOs in the
Darfur and Rohingya situations and was open to NGO views on Iran-Iraq
and Nagorno-Karabakh.

	The first and probably most important step in mediation is analysis.
“The mediator will need to diagnose the situation to get a proper
picture of what is possible. This is not simply a matter of practical
preparation but also a way to set the stage for direct negotiations.
It lays the groundwork and prepares both the parties and mediator for
the continuation of the process.  It is imperative for the mediator to
study the parties, their interests, and the issues and to assess
whether there is a real possibility to advance toward a negotiated
settlement.”

	A crucial aspect of the analysis is to set out who are the key parties
in the conflict — how inclusive should the mediation be?  Should
countries in the regional context be consulted? Should they play an
active role? One of the important issues in the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict was the role of Russia since the conflict had started when all
the parties were still part of the USSR. Ultimately the Karabakh
conflict froze — that is, the fighting stopped — but the basic
incompatibility remains unresolved to this day. One of the difficulties
in setting up talks in the Darfur conflict is that some factions
objected to the participation of other armed groups, especially those
who had split off from one of the other groups.  Thus, certain
important factions have not participated directly and their leaders had
to be interviewed elsewhere or by NGO  representatives.

	As with the Darfur situation, the longer a conflict lasts, the more
factions want to be players.  “In a conflict there is often likely to
be a struggle over power among different factions and/or personalities
within the opposing sides.  This may serve to limit the space for
agreement. If the question of who should hold power stands at the
forefront, less attention may be paid to crucially important issues for
long-term relationships, such as security, reconciliation, justice,
transparency and pluralism.”

	“Each step in the process is a daunting task requiring sensibilities
for the historical and cultural context in which mediation takes
place.”  The mediator needs to develop personal relationships and build
trust.  He can facilitate, but he must also have some idea of where the
negotiations should go and what is possible in the context.

	“The go-between may try to suggest proposals to settle the conflict.
One of the fundamental choices for a mediator in designing a peace
process is whether to aim for a complete solution directly, or for a
process with agreements on more limited issues.  The second approach
would begin with, for instance, procedural and confidence-building
measures, in the hope of this gradually leading to a fuller agreement.
This is the distinction between a comprehensive and a step-by-step (or
gradual) mediation strategy.”

	“An official mediator is seldom alone.  Conflicts attract many
interests.  Some will act as facilitators for a solution, others as
spoilers.  Thus, the international mediator must go not only between
the conflicting parties but also between such additional actors.
Indeed, in many cases, there can be competing mediation efforts not
coordinated with the lead mediation mission.  Not everybody wants to go
together with others in a cooperative spirit.  There are even those
working against mediation, actively advising primary parties to
continue to fight or to wait for a better deal.”

	In Eliasson’s mediation efforts, the goal was often to ease or keep
communications going between the primary parties, reduce the human
suffering from the conflict, stop the fighting for a specific period of
time, prevent a resumption or spread of the conflict, and find elements
for a final peace agreement.

	As the authors note after their analysis of Eliasson’s efforts “The
lessons on mediation resources can all be connected to one key
word—cooperation.”  There is a need for cooperation with local efforts
and forces for peace and between official and unofficial mediators.

	“The protracted nature of many peace processes — with negotiations and
peace agreements breaking down, followed by new attempts to settle
conflict — underline the importance of finding ways for learning the
optimal ways of mediation…Important in this regard is the cumulative
aspect of international mediation, meaning that initial progress can
pave the way for future success down the road.  Even seemingly
unsuccessful attempts can build the basis for progress later in the
process.”

	Svensson and Wallersteen have written a useful analysis, set out
questions for future research, and in the footnotes provide a good
bibliography of the field.

Rene Wadlow