Category: <span>Appeals</span>

politics without borders Appeals

Politics Beyond National Frontiers.

Featured Image: Photo by  Markus Spiske,  Unsplash.

In our current globalized world society, there is an increased role for politics without borders.  Politics no longer stops at the water’s edge but must play an active role on the world stage. 

However, unlike politics at the national level which usually has a parliament at which the actors can recite their lines, the world has no world parliament as such.  Thus new and inventive ways must be found so that world public opinion can be heard and acted upon.

Beyond The Borders of Individual Countries. 

The United Nations General Assembly is as close to a world parliament that we have today.  However, all the official participants are diplomats appointed by their respective States – 195 members.  U.N. secretariat members, the secretariat members of U.N. Specialized Agencies such as UNESCO and the ILO are in the hall ways or coffee shops to give advice.  Secretariat members of the financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF are also there to give advice on costs and the limits of available funds.  The representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in consultative status with the U.N. who can speak at sessions of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council cannot address the General Assembly directly. However, they are also in the coffee shops and may send documents to the U.N. Missions of governments.

Politics without borders requires finding ways to express views for action beyond the borders of individual countries. 

Today, most vital issues that touch the lives of many people go beyond the individual State:

  • The consequences of climate change.
  • The protection of biodiversity.
  • The resolution of armed conflicts.
  • The violations of human rights.
  • More just world trade pattern. 

Thus we need to find ways of looking at the world with a global mind and an open heart.  This perspective is an aim of world citizenship.

However, world citizens are not yet so organized as to be able to impact political decisions at the United Nations and in enough individual States so as to have real influence.  The policy papers and Appeals of the Association of World Citizens are often read with interest by the government representatives to whom they are sent.  However, the Association of World Citizens is an NGO among many and does not have the number of staff as such international NGOs as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace.

We still need to find effective ways so that humanity can come together to solve global problems – that is – politics without borders.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Protecting Cultural Heritage. Appeals

Protecting Cultural Heritage in Time of War.

Featured Image: World Heritage flag, Stortorget, Karlskrona. By Henrik Sendelbach, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

War and armed violence are highly destructive of the lives of persons, but also of works of art and elements of cultural heritage. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the destructive power of war in a dramatic way. Thus, this May 18, “International Museum Day”, we outline some of the ways in which UNESCO is working to protect the cultural heritage in Ukraine in time of war.

International Museum Day.

May 18 has been designated by UNESCO as the International Day of Museums to highlight the role that museums play in preserving beauty, culture, and history. Museums come in all sizes and are often related to institutions of learning and libraries. Increasingly, churches and centers of worship have taken on the character of museums as people visit them for their artistic value, even they do not share the faith of those who built them.

Knowledge and understanding of a people’s past can help current inhabitants to develop and sustain identity and to appreciate the value of their own culture and heritage. This knowledge and understanding enriches their lives. It enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully.

Graphic identity for International Museum Day 2020. By Justine Navarro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

It is widely believed in Ukraine that one of the chief aims of the Russian armed intervention is to eliminate all traces of a separate Ukrainian culture, to highlight a common Russian motherland. In order to do this, there is a deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and a looting of museums, churches, and libraries in areas when under Russian military control. Museums, libraries, and churches elsewhere in Ukraine have been targeted by Russian artillery attacks.

After the Second World War, UNESCO had developed international conventions on the protection of cultural and educational bodies in times of conflict. The most important of these is the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Hague Convention has been signed by a large number of States including the USSR to which both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are bound.

UNESCO has designed a Blue Shield as a symbol of a protected site. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, has brought a number of these Blue Shields herself to Ukraine to highlight UNESCO’s vital efforts.

Audrey Azoulay, Director General, UNESCO at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London (2019).Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Roerich Peace Pact.

The 1954 Hague Convention builds on the efforts of the Roerich Peace Pact signed on April 15, 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. In addition to the Latin American States of the Pan American Union, the following States also signed: Kingdom of Albania, Kingdom of Belgium, Republic of China, Republic of Czechoslovakia, Republic of Greece, Irish Free State, Empire of Japan, Republic of Lithuania, Kingdom of Persia, Republic of Poland, Republic of Portugal, Republic of Spain, Confederation of Switzerland, Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

At the signing, Henry A. Wallace, then U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President, said:

“At no time has such an ideal been more needed. It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity. It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs. Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in addition the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in one fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith. Thus we build a world civilization which places that which is fine in humanity above that which is low, sordid and mean, that which is hateful and grabbing.”

We still have efforts to make so that what is fine in humanity is above what is hateful and grabbing. However, the road signs set out the direction clearly.

Globally-used UNESCO World Heritage logo. By UNESCO; Designer: Michel Olyff.Uploaded by Siyuwj, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Child Labour Appeals

Let My Children Go: World Efforts to Eliminate the…

Featured Picture: Nepali girls working in brick factory. Krish Dulal, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Child Labour.

Your children are not your children;
They are the sons and daughters of
Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they
belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not
your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies, but not their souls.
Kahil Gibran

12 June is a red letter day on the UN agenda of events as the World Day Against Child Labour.  It marks the 12 June arrival in 1998 of hundreds of children in Geneva; part of the Global March against Child Labour; that had crossed a 100 countries to present their plight to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“We are hurting, and you can help us”; was their message to the assembled International Labour Conference; which meets each year in Geneva in June.  One year later, in June; the ILO had drafted ILO Convention N° 182 on child labour; which 165 States have now ratified — the fastest ratification rate in the ILO’s  history.

ILO Convention N°182 sets out in article 3 the worst forms of child labour to be banned:

  • a) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery; such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour; including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
  • b) The use; procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances.
  • c) The use; procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities; in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties.
  • d) Work which; by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out; is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

The Convention is supplemented by a Recommendation: the Worst Forms of Child Labour Recommendation N° 1999 which provisions should be applied in conjunction with the Convention: “Programme of Action (article 6): Among other issues, the situation of the girl child and the problem of hidden work situations in which girls are at special risk are explicitly mentioned; Hazardous work (article 3(d): In determining the types of hazardous work, consideration should be given, inter alia, to work which exposes children to physical, psychological or sexual abuse.

The ILO estimates there of the some 200 million child labourers in the world.

Today, millions of children, especially those living in extreme poverty, have no choice but to accept exploitive employment to ensure their own and their family’s survival.  Child labour was often hidden behind the real and non-exploitive help that children bring to family farms.  

However, such help often keeps children out of school and thus outside the possibility of joining the modern sector of the economy.  The ILO estimates that of the some 200 million child labourers in the world, some 70 percent are in agriculture, 10 percent in industry/mines and the others in trade and services — often as domestics or street vendors in urban areas.  

Globally, Asia accounts for the largest number of child workers — 122 million, Sub-Saharan Africa, 50 million, and Latin America and the Caribbean, 6 million.  Young people under 18 make up almost half of humanity, a half which is virtually powerless in relation to the other half.  To ensure the well-being of children and adolescents in light of this imbalance of power, we must identify attitudes and practices which cause invisibility.

Debt Bondage.

One of the most exploitive type of child labour is what is called “debt bondage” — most pervasive in India, Pakistan and western Nepal.  In these countries, the debt bondage pattern of exploitation is supported by long-standing traditions and cultural biases against low castes or minority ethnic groups. 

 Dept bondage is a practice by which parents pledge their children’s work to pay off debts.  The debts are very small at the start but with very high interest rates.  Thus the children may work for their entire childhood to pay off the debt because of fraudulent accounting mechanisms employed by debt holders.

Child Labour

A Child Street Vendor from India(Garhmukteshwar). Manuspanicker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kamaiya.

In western Nepal, where such bonded labourers are known as “Kamaiya”, the accounting schemes can keep families in debt for generations.  Since Kamaiyas are often not paid enough to meet their basic needs, many have no choice but to take new loans from their masters. 

 Many also carry inherited debts, sometimes going back for three or four generations in addition to their own.  Children sold to bond masters work long hours over many years in  an attempt to pay off these debts due to the astronomically high rates of interest charged and the low wages paid.  The eradication of child labour depends on an ethical awakening on the part of employers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations.

In India, child debt servitude has been illegal since 1933.  Since independence, India has adopted a host of additional protective legislation, most importantly the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act of 1976, which strictly outlaws all forms of debt bondage and forced labour.  

However, without political will to enforce them, these legal safeguards have little impact.  Whether due to corruption or indifference, the political will is lacking.  Labour laws are routinely flouted with virtually no risk of punishment to the offender.  This is why an ethical awareness must grow and all children seen as having dignity and potential for a fuller life.

Child Labour

A “No Child Labour” sign in a clothing factory in Bangladesh. By Scotted400, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Child labour is often related to conditions of extreme poverty.

There is still a long way to go to eliminate exploitive child labour.  Much child labour is in what is commonly called the non-formal sector of the economy where there are no trade unions.  Child labour is often related to conditions of extreme poverty and to sectors of the society where both adults and children are marginalized such as many tribal societies in Asia, or the Roma in Europe or migrant workers in general.

In addition to the worst forms of exploitive child labour, there is the broad issue of youth training and employment. The challenges ahead are very much a youth challenge.  The world will need to create millions of new jobs over the next decade in order to provide employment for the millions of new entrants into the labour market in addition to creating jobs for the millions of currently unemployed or underemployed youth.

There needs to be world-wide labour market policies that provide social protection measures, better training for an ever-changing work scene.

World Citizens support the demands of decent work for all.  We need to cooperate to build economies and societies where young persons participate fully in the present and the future.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

 Peace Planners: Awake!.

Featured Image: Photo by  Eddie Kopp,  Unsplash. The recent NATO Summit in Vilnius is an indication that the war planning community is busy at work in the spirit of Von…

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

Law of the Sea Appeals

Our Common Oceans and Seas.

Featured Picture: Photo by Alice Mourou on Unsplash.

The people of the earth having agreed that the advancement of man in spiritual excellence and physical welfare is the common goal of mankind…therefore the age of nations must end, and the era of humanity begin.”

Preamble to the Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution.

The Association of World Citizens has long been concerned with the Law of the Sea; and had been active during the 10-year negotiations; on the law of the sea during the 1970s; the meetings being held one month a year; alternatively in New York and Geneva. The world citizens position for the law of the sea was largely based on a

Three-point framework:

a) That the oceans and seas were the common heritage of humanity; and should be seen as a living symbol of the unity of humanity.

b) That ocean management should be regulated by world law created; as in as democratic manner as possible.

c) That the wealth of the oceans; considered as the common heritage of mankind should contain mechanisms of global redistribution; especially for the development of the poorest; a step toward a more just economic order; on land as well as at sea. 

The “Common Heritage”.

The concept of the oceans as the common heritage of humanity; had been introduced into the U.N. awareness; by a moving speech in the U.N. General Assembly by Arvid Pardo; Ambassador of Malta in November 1967. 

Under traditional international sea law; the resources of the oceans; except those within a narrow territorial sea near the coast line were regarded as “no one’s property” or more positively as “common property.”  The “no one’s property” opened the door to the exploitation of resources by the most powerful; and the most technologically advanced States.

The “common heritage” concept was put forward as a way of saying that “humanity” – at least as represented by the States in the U.N. – should have some say as to the way the resources of the oceans; and seas should be managed.  Thus, began the 1970s Law of the Seas negotiations. 

Arvid Pardo (2022). By User:MSacerdoti, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Elisabeth Mann Borgese.

Perhaps with or without the knowledge of Neptune; lord of the seas; the Maltese voted to change the political party in power; just as the sea negotiations began. Arvid Pardo was replaced as Ambassador to the U.N; by a man; who had neither the vision nor the diplomatic skills of Pardo.  Thus; during the 10 years of negotiations the “common heritage” flame was carried by world citizens; in large part by Elisabeth Mann Borgese; with whom I worked closely during the Geneva sessions of the negotiations. 

Elisabeth Mann Borgese  (1918-2002) whose birth anniversary we mark on 24 April; was a strong-willed woman.  She had to come out from under the shadow of both her father, Thomas Mann; the German writer and Nobel laureate for Literature; and her husband Giuseppe Antonio Borgese (1882-1952); Italian literary critic and political analyst. 

Frankreich, Bandol: Menschen; Elisabeth Mann (1936). By Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Thomas Mann.

From 1938; Thomas Mann lived in Princeton, New Jersey and gave occasional lectures at Princeton University. Thomas Mann; whose novel The Magic Mountain was one of the monuments of world literature between the two World Wars; always felt that he represented the best of German culture against the uncultured mass of the Nazis.  He took himself and his role very seriously; and his family existed basically to facilitate his thinking and writing.

Thomas Mann Picture: Nobel Foundation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese.

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese had a regular professor’s post at the University of Chicago; but often lectured at other universities on the evils of Mussolini.  Borgese; who had been a leading literary critic and university professor in Milan; left Italy for the United States in 1931; when Mussolini announced that an oath of allegiance to the Fascist State; would be required of all Italian professors.

For Borgese; with a vast culture including the classic Greeks, the Renaissance Italians, and the 19th century nationalist writers; Mussolini was an evil caricature; which too few Americans recognized as a destructive force in his own right; and not just as the fifth wheel of Hitler’s armed car.  

The Age of Nations.

Giuseppe Antonio Borgese met Elisabeth Mann on a lecture tour at Princeton, and despite being close to Thomas Mann in age; the couple married very quickly shortly after their  meeting. Elisabeth moved to the University of Chicago; and was soon caught up in Borgese’s efforts to help the transition from the Age of Nations to the Age of Humanity.

For Borgese; the world was in a watershed period. The Age of Nations − with its nationalism  which could be a liberating force in the 19th century as with the unification of Italy − had come to a close with the First World War.

The war clearly showed that nationalism was from then on only the symbol of death. However, the Age of Humanity; which was the next step in human evolution; had not yet come into being; in part because too many people were still caught in the shadow play of the Age of Nations.

A World Constitution for The Atomic Age.

Since University of Chicago scientists had played an important role in the coming of the Atomic Age; Giuseppe Antonio Borgese and Richard McKeon; Dean of the University felt that the University should take a major role in drafting; a world constitution for the Atomic Age.

Thus; the Committee to Frame a World Constitution; an interdisciplinary committee under the leadership of Robert Hutchins; head of the University of Chicago, was created in 1946. To re-capture the hopes and fears of the 1946-1948; period when the World Constitutions was being written; it is useful to read the book written by one of the members of the drafting team: Rexford Tugwell. A Chronicle of Jeopardy (University of Chicago Press, 1955). The book is Rex Tugwell’s reflections on the years 1946-1954; written each year in August to mark the A-bombing of Hiroshima.

Elisabeth had become the secretary of the Committee and the editor of its journal Common Cause.   The last issue of Common Cause was in June 1951. G.A. Borgese published a commentary on the Constitution; dealing especially with his ideas on the nature of justice. It was the last thing he wrote; and the book was published shortly after his death: G.A.Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (University of Chicago Press, 1953).

In 1950; the Korean War started. Hope for a radical transformation of the UN faded.  Borgese and his wife went to live in Florence; where weary and disappointed, he died in 1952.

A Constitution for the World.

The drafters of the World Constitution went on to other tasks.  Robert Hutchins left the University of Chicago to head a “think tank”- Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions – taking some of the drafters; including Elisabeth, with him. She edited a booklet on the Preliminary Draft with a useful introduction A Constitution for the World (1965) However; much of the energy of the Center went into the protection of freedom of thought and expression in the USA; at the time under attack by the primitive anti-communism of then Senator Joe McCarthy.

In the mid-1950s; from world federalists and world citizens came various proposals for UN control of areas not under national control: UN control of the High Seas and the Waterways; especially after the 1956 Suez Canal conflict; and of Outer Space. A good overview of these proposals is contained in James A.  Joyce. Revolution on East River (New York: Ablard-Schuman, 1956).

Law of the Sea.

 After the 1967 proposal of Arvid Pardo; Elisabeth Mann Borgese  turned her attention and energy to the law of the sea. As the UN Law of the Sea Conference continued through the 1970s;   Elisabeth was active in seminars and conferences with the delegates, presenting ideas, showing that a strong treaty on the law of the sea would be a big step forward for humanity.

Many of the issues raised during the negotiations leading to the Convention; especially the concept of the Exclusive Economic Zone; actively battled by Elisabeth; but actively championed by Ambassador Alan Beesley of Canada; are with us today in the China seas tensions.

While the resulting Convention of the Law of the Sea has not revolutionized world politics – as some of us  hoped in the early 1970s – the Convention is an important building block in the development of world law.

We are grateful for the values; and the energy that Elisabeth Mann Borgese embodied especialy at a time; when cooperative action through the United Nations is under attack by some narrow nationalist leaders. World Citizens are still pushing for the concept of the common heritage of humanity.

Arvid Pardo monument at the University of Malta. By Continentaleurope at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

World Hunger Appeals

 U.N. Security Council Focus On World Hunger.

Featured Image: Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash.

On 23 May, the United Nations Security Council will hold a special briefing to address the issue of food insecurity under the chairmanship of Mr Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation. During May, the rotating chairmanship is held by Switzerland led by the Swiss Ambassador to the United Nations, New York  Ms Pascale Baereswyl.  The meeting will have as background a 3 May 2023 report of the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) concerning early warning on areas facing acute food insecurity.

Some 250 million persons are living in this situation of acute food insecurity.

The report highlights that some 250 million persons are living in this situation of acute food insecurity with the Democratic Republic of Congo leading the list with some 27 million persons due to armed violence and the breakdown of governmental structures.  The Congo is followed by Ethiopia, largely due to fighting in the Tigray area.  The war in Ukraine is also having a negative impact limiting production and export of food goods -a principal export of Ukraine.  In addition to armed conflict, there is the growing impact of the consequences of climate change.

European Union, African Union and United Nations system.

    Today, cooperation on food insecurity is needed among the U.N. family of agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and the millions of food producers to respond to this food crisis.  These measures will have to be taken in a wholistic way with actions going from the local level of the individual farmer, the national level with new governmental policies, to measures at the multi-State regional level such as the European Union and the African Union, and at the world level with better coordinated action through the United Nations system.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano escorts H.E. Mr. Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, during his departure at the Vienna International Centre. Vienna, Austria, 8 January 2018. By IAEA Imagebank, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Additional funding for the U.N. World Food Programme and the release of national food stocks.

    There is a need for swift, short-term meaures to help people now suffering from lack of food and malnutrition due to high food prices, inadequate distribution, and situations of violence.  Such short-tem action requires additional funding for the U.N. World Food Programme and the release of national food stocks.  However, it is on the longer-range and structural issues on which we must focus our attention.

The Association of World Citizens has taken a lead in the promotion of a coordinated world food policy with an emphasis on the small-scale farmer and a new awareness that humans are part of Nature with a special duty to care and respect  for the Earth’s inter-related life-support system.  As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World (1952):

“Since the hungry 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 some die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live.”

    Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

Stringfellow Barr. Joining the Human Race.

A central theme which Citizens of the World have long stressed is that there needs to be a world food policy and that such a world food policy is more than the sum of national food security programs.  John Boyd Orr, the first Director General of the FAO proposed a World Food Board to stabilize food prices and supplies.  He resigned as Director General when the food board proposal was not accepted and then devoted much of his energy to the ,world citizen movement.

   For World Citizens, the emphasis must be placed on creating a world food policy which draws upon improving local self-reliance while not creating nationalistic policies which harm neighbours.  Food is a key aspect of deep structural issues in the world society and thus must be seen in a wholeistic framework.  The briefing and debate of the U.N. Security Council may give us strong elements  on which to promote a world food policy.

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.   

John Boyd Orr: A World Citizen’s Focus on Food.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Sudan Appeals

The Sky Darkens in Sudan.

Featured Image: Photo by Abdulaziz Mohammed on Unsplash.

On 15 April 2023, a long-brewing conflict between two generals who had seized power in a coup in 2021 broke into armed battles especially in Khartoum. Use of tanks, jets and artillery has been reported.  The split between General Abdel Fattah al-Burham, chief of the army and General Mohamed Hamdam Daglo, better known by his battle name “Hemetti”, chief of the Rapid Support Forces is no great surprise as there is often place for only one person in a military junta.

In April 2018, civilian protests began, and in early 2019 they led to the end of nearly 30 years of the dictatorship of President Omar al-Bashir.  Al-Bashir was himself a general, but he also controlled the security services and much of the administration.  He had overseen economic contacts with foreign countries, especially China.  He was given credit for the relative economic development and the creation of a middle class, especially in the cities.  However, he was under indictment of the International Criminal Court on seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the province of Darfur in western Sudan.  Thus, when Omar al-Bashir was forced out, there was a political gap that the civilian protesters were not able to fill.

Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan (2019). By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The evildoers on horseback.

The Rapid Support Forces of Hemetti are an outgrowth of popular defense forces and tribal militias active in Darfur, originally structured as the Janjaweed (“the evildoers on horseback”). To the extent that the makeup of the Janjaweed is known, it was a collection of bandits, of Chadians who had used Darfur as a safe haven for the long-lasting insurgencies in Chad, remains of Libya’s Islamic Forces which had once been under the control of the Libyan government but left wandering when Libyan policy changed. Thus, the Rapid Support Forces, true to its origins, has been willing to fight elsewhere, especially in cooperation with the Russian Wagner Group in Yemen.  It is estimated that there are some 80,000 men in the Rapid Support Forces and some 200,000 in the regular army.  Hemetti is from Darfur and have profitted from the mineral wealth of the province.

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (commonly known as Hemedti). He is in a conference room, behind a table and a flag of Russia in the foreground.(2022). By Government.ru, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The authorities of the African Union have asked for calm and dialogue.

The army under al-Burham still has many higher officers from the al-Bashir period, and they wish to hold on to the power and funds they control.  They have few contact and not much in common with the civilians who had protested against al-Bashir.

The violence in Sudan could spread.  Thus the neighboring countries of Egypt and South Sudan have proposed good offices and a ceasefire. The authorities of the African Union have asked for calm and dialogue.  The situation merits watching closely.

President of the Republic of Sudan Omar Bashir during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (2017). By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Israel-Palestine Appeals

Israel-Palestine: Tension-reduction Measures Urgently Needed.

Featured Image: Image by DEZALB from Pixabay.

The Association of World Citizens calls for urgently needed tension-reduction measures in the Israel-Palestine-Lebanon area.

    Tensions have led to a barrage of missils from Gaza and Lebanon and rapid Israeli missiles in return aiming at weaking Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Growing tensions had led to Israeli police  attacking Palestinian worshipers celebrating the holy month of Ramadan within the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on 5 and 6 April 2023.  The images of Israeli police firing teargas and beating worshipers were widely seen on social media outlets and other media.

High Alert.

    Tensions in the area have been growing since the formation of the Netanyahu – led government with right wing ministers.  Government proposals for changes concerning the court system and the appointment of judges have led to strong and wide-spread protest demonstrations.  However, Palestinian issues were not directly addressed by these demonstrations.

    Tensions between Israel and Iran and Iranian-backed groups in Syria have also been growing.  The dangers of further violence has been raised in the United Nations Security Council, but no positive actions were undertaken.  U.N. peace-keeping forces in Lebanon are on “high alert”.

Urgent call for creative and courageous actions.

    For the moment, there are no high-level public negotiations underway or planned.  Thus, tension-reduction measures must be undertaken as unilateral measures by the government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the government of Lebanon.  Such tension-reduction measures are urgently needed but may be unlikely.  Thus, the Association of World Citizens calls upon civil society organizations and persons of good will to consider what measures can be taken immediately and what structures may be established so that tension-reduction processes continue.  This is an urgent call for creative and courageous actions.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Syria Appeals

Syria: The Start of a Long Night of Sorrow.

Featured Image: Photo by Ahmed akacha: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/gente-demostracion-rally-protesta-7183546/

By Rene Wadlow.

On 13 March 2011 in Derra, in the south of Syria, 15 teenage boys were arrested by Syrian security police for having written hostile graffiti against President Bashar Al-Assad on a school wall. The arrests led to non-violent protests in Derra and by 15 March the protests had spread to other Syrian cities.

Bashar_al-Assad

Picture of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad with the Syrian flag next to him. By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arab Spring.

There were social, economic and ecological conditions in the country  which set the stage for such protests. Corruption, unemployment, high population growth, limited resources and a hugh budget for oversized security and military forces; were main obstacles for economic reforms. There was also the spirit of the “Arab Spring”; which had started earlier with the January 2011 end of the government of Ben Ali in Tunisia.

Unlike earlier protest movements in Syria; which were based on religious or ethnic; especially Kurdish identity, the early 2011 movement stressed the unity of all the people and their demand to have recognized their dignity. Women participated actively. Social media via the INTERNET was widely used.

Ben Ali

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia. By Presidencia de la Nación Argentina, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Police and Military Violence.

Fairly quickly the protesters stated to structure themselves in cities and larger towns. Protesters started to form local councils and to take up local administrative tasks. In 2011; Syria was a police state but under administrated concerning services of education, health and other public services. Rural areas were even less administrated. There was a strong rural to urban migration, especially to larger towns. Social service needs were not met.

The government responded to these demonstrations with police and military violence. By mid-April; a peaceful demonstration in Homs was repressed with a good number of demonstrators killed or wounded. Arrests, often followed by torture, became widespread.

Silence Any Opposition.

There were 12 different branches of the security forces and prisons were overcrowded. While there were local leaders of protests, there were no nation-wide leaders. With no identifiable leaders to arrest, the security forces arrested anyone who looked like a potential troublemaker. Due to the regime’s determination to silence any opposition, Syria’s political culture regressed into fear with an end to independent periodicals and intellectual forums.

By the end of 2011, the government increasingly called upon the regular military to replace the specialized security forces which were too few to deal with the spreading protests. Protesters started to carry weapons. Some of the regular military  who were of the same background as the protesters started to desert and to take their weapons with them.

A Non-Violent Civil Protest to a Violent Civil War.

Thus; the Syrian conflict was transformed from a non-violent civil protest to a violent civil war, leading to a large number of persons displaced within the country and a large number of refugees, especially to neighboring countries – Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon but also to Western Europe.

However, as the conflict grew several regional and international actors involved themselves: Russia and the USA, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Lebanon with Hezbollah as well as the Jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

However, efforts at mediation have been carried out nearly from the start by the Arab League, U.N.-appointed mediators, and broader U.N.-sponsored meetings in Geneva. While the mediators have made detailed proposals none have been acted upon.

Therefore; there have also been a few non-governmental efforts at mediation or at least efforts to keep avenues of communication open or to widen the persons involved, especially by increasing the role of women. On behalf of the Association of World Citizens, I have been involved in some of these non-governmental efforts but I have seen few advances. The long night of sorrow continues but we must watch closely for a possible dawn.

Arab League

Euler Diagram for the Arab League, and also any regional organizations with members all belonging the Arab League. By OIC-Diagram.svg:Nuvola_Bahraini_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Iraqi_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Jordan_flag.svg: *Nuvola_Palestinian_flag.svg: User:OrzettoNuvola_Kuwaiti_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Lebanese_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Oman_flag.svg: *Flag_of_Oman.svg: Open Clip Art websiteNuvola_Palestinian_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Qatari_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Saudi_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Sudanese_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Syria_flag.svg: ZarikNuvola_Tunisian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_UAE_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Yemeni_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Algerian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Djiboutian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Egyptian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Libya_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Mauritanian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Moroccan_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Somalian_flag.svg: Antigoniderivative work: Aris Katsarisderivative work: Aris Katsaris, LGPL <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

Yemen Appeals

Yemen: Positive Action Still Needed.

Featured Image: The UK hosted the Friends of Yemen meeting on 27 September 2012 in New York alongside co-hosts the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen. The meeting was attended by 38 States and International Organisations. Foreign Secretary William Hague with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, President Hadi and Vice Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Dr. Torki Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Kabir. By English: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, OGL v1.0OGL v1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Picture by Carl G. Friedrich

25 March is the anniversary date of the start of 28 days on continued bombing of Yemen in 2015 by the Saudi-Arabia-led coalition (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, United Arab Emirates helped by arms and “intelligence” by the U.S.A. and the U.K.). The aggression by the Saudi coalition turned what had been an internal struggle for power going on from the “Arab Spring” of 2011 into a war with regional dimensions which brought Iran into the picture. The role of Iran has been exaggerated both by the Iranian government itself and by those hostile to Iran. Nevertheless, the Iranian role is real.

Arab Spring

Arab spring participants (2020). By Paulinabial, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Since the Association of World Citizens (AWC) had been following possible constitutional developments in Yemen after the 2011 change of government, a couple of days after the 25 March 2015 bombing, the Association of World Citizens sent to government Missions to the United Nations an AWC Appeal for:

Four steps of conflict resolution and negotiations in good faith:

  1.  An immediate ceasefire ending all foreign military attacks.
  2. Humanitarian assistance, especially important for hard-to-reach zones.
  3. A broad national dialogue.
  4. Through this dialogue, the establishment of an inclusive unity government open to constitutional changes to facilitate better the wide geographic- tribal structure of the State.

Six-Region Federation as the Political Structure for Yemen.

While the constitutional form of the State structures depends on the will of the people of Yemen ( if they were able to express themselves freely) the Association of World Citizens proposes consideration of con-federal forms of government which maintain cooperation within a decentralized framework. In 2014, a committee appointed by the then President, Abdu Rabbu Mansur Hadi, had proposed a six-region federation as the political structure for Yemen.

Until 1990, Yemen was two separate States: the People’s Democratic of Yemen in the south with Aden as the capital, and the Yemen Arab Republic in the north with Sana’a as capital. In 1990, the two united to become the Republic of Yemen. The people in the south hoped that the union would bring the economic development which had been promised.

Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi

Sitting down for a meeting, Yemen President Abd Rabuh Mansur Hadi listens as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel welcomes him to the Pentagon July 30, 2013. By U.S Defense Department, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

South Arabia.

Since, even before the Saudi-led war began, there had been very little economic and social development in the south, there started to grow strong “separatist” attitudes in the south. People of all political persuasions hoped to develop prosperity by ending unification and creating what some have started calling “South Arabia” Today, these separatist attitudes are very strong, but there is no agreement on what areas are to be included in a new southern state, and the is no unified separatist political leadership.

Very quickly after 25 March 2015, many governments saw the dangers of the conflict and the possible regional destabilization. Thus there were U.N.-sponsored negotiations held in Geneva in June 2015. The Association of World Citizens worked with other NGOs so that women should be directly involved in such negotiations.

However women have not been added to any of the negotiations and are largely absent from any leadership role in the many political factions of the country. There have been U.N. mediators active in trying to get ceasefires and then negotiations. There have been some temporary ceasefires, but no progress on real negotiations.

Saudi Arabia and Iran under the sponsorship of the People’s Republic of China.

Today, the war continues with the country’s fragmentation, continued internal fighting and impoverishment leading to a disastrous humanitarian crisis. There is a glimmer of possible conflict resolution efforts due to the recent mutual recognition of Saudi Arabia and Iran under the sponsorship of the People’s Republic of China. However, creating a national society of individuals willing to cooperate will not be easy. Regional divisions will not be easy to bridge. There have already been divisions within the Saudi-led Coalition. Thus, positive action is still needed. Non-governmental organizations should seek to have their voices heard.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific Appeals

Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific: Reversing the Slide to Violence.

Featured Image: Photo by wu yi, Unsplash

With U.S. and Chinese military engaged near Taiwan, a miscalculation could lead to armed violence. The armed conflict in Ukraine has heightened the debate on the possibility of armed conflict between China and Taiwan.

Tensions between the two Korean states remain high. The border clash between Indian and Chinese forces in June 2020 has highlighted residual tensions between the two countries. One could add other tensions in the Asia-Pacific area to the list.

Less obvious are the possibilities of confidence-building measures that would reduce these tensions and might open doors to cooperation in the security, economic and social spheres.confidence-building.

Ukraine Conflict

 Image: Foto de Matti Karstedt: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/una-nina-protestando-contra-la-guerra-en-ucrania-11284549/.

Preliminaries to Russia-Ukraine Negotiations: The Key Role of China.

Confidence-Building.

There are confidence-building measures that can be undertaken by governments. Where as we, outside of governmental positions, can make suggestions as to steps that governments could take, we nevertheless have little possibility to oblige action by them. Thus we have to consider what confidence-building measures we as academics and non-governmental organization activists can undertake.

Fortunately, we have long experience of working to reduce the tensions between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union (NATO and the Warsaw Pact) which led to the Helsinki Agreements and finally the end of the Cold War. Much of the analysis is still of value such as Mary Kaldor (Ed) Europe from Below (London: Verso: 1991). Many of the peace organizations that were involved are still in existence and could focus on Asia-Pacific issues.

There have also been efforts on confidence-building in the Israel-Palestine conflict and in the wider Middle East. Repeated efforts concerning tensions between India and Pakistan often focused on the tensions in Kashmir.

Mary Kaldor

Mary Kaldor, The World Transformed 2018 in Liverpool. By Kevin Walsh from Preston Brook, England, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Processes of Dialogue have a Value.

Today, there is a need to draw upon these experiences to impart conflict resolution skills to new individuals and groups, thereby building and expanding the constituencies working for conflict reduction measures. New participants can have backgrounds in psychology, religion, law and communications with experience in social movements and community action programs.

There is also a need to draw upon categories of people who were not directly involved in earlier efforts. Often women were marginalized not only in government negotiations but even in non-governmental efforts. These processes of dialogue have a value in deepening understanding of a situation.

However, the emphasis should be on developing proposals for confidence-building measures.

Need for concerted action to reduce the slide to violence.

Tensions in the Asia-Pacific area are growing, and there is a need for concerted action to reduce the slide to violence. As Don Carlson and Craig Comstock point out in their book, Citizen Summitry: Keeping the Peace when it matters too much to be left to politicians (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tacker, Inc. 1986):

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”

 

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