Tag: <span>Afghanistan</span>

World Humanitarian Day Appeals

World Humanitarian Day: A Need for Common Actions.

Featured Image: Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 19 August as “World Humanitarian Day” to pay tribute to aid workers in humanitarian service in difficult and often dangerous conditions.  19 August was designated in memory of the 19 August 2003 bombing of the UN office building in Baghdad, Iraq in which Sergio Vieira de Mello,  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and at the time Special Representative of the UN Secretary General was killed along with 21 UN staff members. Over 200 UN employees were injured. The exact circumstances of the attack are not known, and why USA and UN security around the building was not tighter is still not clear. A truck with explosives was able to dive next to the building and then blew itself up.

Sergio de Mellow had spent his UN career in humanitarian efforts, often with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and at other  times as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. As an NGO representative to the UN in Geneva and active on human rights issues, I knew him during his short 2002-2003 tenure as High Commissioner for Human Rights. Many of us had high hopes that his dynamism, relative youth (he was 54) and wide experience in conflict resolution efforts would provide new possibilities for human rights efforts. His death along with the death of others who had been Geneva-based was a stark reminder of the risks that exist for all engaged in humanitarian and conflict resolution work.

Sergio de Mello
Brazilian diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Melo. By Wilson Dias/ABr, CC BY 3.0 BR <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Collateral Damage.

This year the risks and dangers are not just memories but are daily news. On 3 May 2016, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2286 calling for greater protection for health care institutions and personnel in light of recent attacks against hospitals and clinics in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Afghanistan.  These attacks on medical facilities are too frequent to be considered “collateral damage.” The attacks indicate a dangerous trend of non-compliance with world law by both State and non- State agents.  The protection of medical personnel and the  treatment of all the wounded − both allies and enemies − goes back to the start of humanitarian law.

The Association of World Citizens has stressed the need for accountability, including by investigation of alleged violations of the laws of war.  The grave violations by the Islamic State (ISIS) must be protested by as wide a coalition of concerned voices as possible. There is a real danger that as ISIS disintegrates and no longer controls as much territory, it will increase terrorist actions.

(Red Cross) Conventions.

The laws of war, now more often called humanitarian law, have two wings, one dealing with the treatment of medical personnel in armed conflict situations, the military wounded, prisoners of war, and the protection of civilians. This wing is represented by the Geneva (Red Cross) Conventions. The second wing, often called The Hague Conventions limit or ban outright the use of certain categories of weapons. These  efforts began at The Hague with the 1900 peace conferences and have continued even if the more recent limitations on land mines, cluster weapons and chemical weapons have been negotiated elsewhere.

The ban on the use of weapons are binding only on States which have ratified the convention. Thus the current use of USA-made cluster weapons in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is, in a narrow sense, legal as the USA, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have not signed the cluster weapon ban. The Association of World Citizens was one of the NGOs leading the campaign against cluster weapons. My position is that when a large number of States ratify a convention (which is the case for the cluster-weapons ban) then the convention becomes world law and so must be followed by all States and non-State actors even if they have not signed or ratified the convention. The same holds true for the use of land mines currently being widely used by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The current situation concerning refugees and internally-displaced persons can also be considered as part of humanitarian law.  Thus those working with refugees and the displaced within their country are also to be honored by the World Humanitarian Day.  To prevent and alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human person − these are the core values of humanitarian law.

There needs to be a wide public outcry in the defense of humanitarian law so that violations can be reduced. The time for action is now.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Women-Life-Liberty Appeals

Iran: Women-Life-Liberty

Featured Image: Thousands turn out in Melbourne to stand in solidarity with protests that have broken out in Iran following the death of 22-year old Mahsa (also known as Jina or Zhina) Amini at the hands of the country’s brutal dictatorship and its ‘morality’ police. By Matt Hrkac from Geelong / Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

28 Sep 2022 – The cry “Women-Life-Liberty!” is going up in many different parts of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  It is not possible to know in advance how strong the protests will be and what will be the specific reforms demanded.

Morality Police.

The protests began on 13 Sep 2022 at the announcement of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Anini in police custody, having been arrested by the “morality police” for not having the proper dress.  She was an ethnic Kurd.  The protests began in the Kurdish areas but soon spread to all ethnic groups and many parts of the country.  However, the government is worried that support for the demonstrations from Kurds, especially some in Iraq, could grow and lead to multi-ethnic tensions.

Women have been a central focus of the social policy of the Islamic government.  Even before coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomenini from his exile in France had said that the overly great liberty of women was a chief obstacle to his policies.  Repressive policies against women with compulsory veiling laws were quickly put into place.

However, unlike the Taliban in Afghanistan, women were not barred from higher education.  It is estimated that some 65 percent of university students are women.  Many play important roles within society but must keep a low profile, dress according to the code and be under the control of a man, at least when visible in public.

Ayatollah Khomenini

Portrait of Ruhollah Khomeini By Mohammad Sayyad. By Mohammad Sayyad – محمد صیاد, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Women – Life – Liberty.

Now the cry “Women – Life – Liberty” proclaimed by many women and some men indicates the changes in outlook.  Obviously, the government led by the Guide Ali Khamenei and the conservative President Ebrahim Raisi are worried.  The police, the Revolutionary Guards, and other paramilitary forces have been called out.  Some protesters have been killed, others wounded.  The number of arrested is unknown.  Journalists have been prevented from reporting, and internet services have been cut or are irregular.  Thus there are few photos of the demonstrations.

Ali Khamenei

Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei delivers Nowruz message in his office (2016). By Khamenei.ir, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

There have been waves of protests in Iran before without bringing about major changes in policy.

However, some observers believe that there is a new spirit in these protests.  “Women – Life – Liberty” may be the wave of the future and should be watched closely.

Ebrahim Raisi

The eighth president of Iran Ebrahim Raisi. By Khamenei.ir, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Professor Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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World Day for Cultural Diversity Portraits of World Citizens.

World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development.

Featured Image: These students together in a public school in the capital city of Nigeria celebrates World Day for cultural Diversity for dialogue and development on May 21st of each year; which is a significant event anchored by United Nations. By Joemadaki, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

In December 2002; the United Nations General Assembly; in Resolution 57/249, declared that 21 May each year should be the World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development. The Day was created as a response to the destruction of the Buddha statues of Bamiyam in Afghanistan in 2001.

Thus the day has a double theme.  The broader aim is to create an enabling environment for dialogue and understanding among cultures. Achieving a true rapprochement of cultures must be nourished by a culture of peace and non-violence and sustained by respect for human rights.

The second theme, closely linked to the destruction of the Buddha statues is the protection of the cultural heritage of humanity at the time of armed conflict. In light of the subsequent destruction of UNESCO selected heritage of humanity sites in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Mali, I will stress the protection aspect by looking at the post-World War I efforts of Nicholas Roerich as an example of non-governmental mobilization.

“Only the bridge of Beauty will be strong enough for crossing from the banks of darkness
to the side of light”.

                                                                                                                      Nicholas Roerich.

Buddha of Bamiyan (reconstitution)

Buddha of Bamiyan (reconstitution). By MOs810, Saiko, Adam Jones Adam63, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Nicholas Roerich.

One of the spiritual visionaries of the 1920s-1930s was Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) a Russian and world citizen; a painter and researcher into cultures. Nicholas Roerich had lived through the First World War and the Russian Revolution; and saw how armed conflict can destroy works of art and cultural institutions.  For Roerich; such institutions were irreplaceable, and their destruction was a permanent loss for all humanity.

Thus; he worked for the protection of works of art and institutions of culture in times of armed conflict.  He envisaged a “Banner of Peace” that could be placed upon institutions and sites of culture which would protect them; as the symbol of the Red Cross is supposed to protect medical workers and medical institutions in times of conflict.

Nicholas Roerich

Nicholas Roerich (between 1940 and 1947). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Banner of Peace.

Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s and early 1930s for the establishment of this Banner of Peace.  Henry A. Wallace; the US Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President was an admirer of Roerich; and helped to have a formal treaty introducing the Banner of Peace — the Roerich Peace Pact — signed at the White House on 15 April 1935; by the 21 States of North and South America in a Pan American Union ceremony.  At the ceremony; Henry Wallace on behalf of the USA 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.”

Henry A. Wallace

Henry Agard Wallace, 1888–1965, bust portrait, facing left. (1940). By Photo copyrighted by D.N. Townsend; no renewal in the U.S. Copyright Office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Hague Convention.

After the Second World War; UNESCO has continued the effort; and there have been additional conventions on the protection of cultural bodies in times of conflict — such as the Hague Convention of May 1954; though no universal symbol such as the three red circles proposed by Nicholas Roerich has been developed.

Conserving a cultural heritage even in times of peace is always difficult.  Weak institutional capabilities; lack of appropriate resources and isolation of many culturally essential sites are compounded by a lack of awareness of the value of cultural heritage conservation.  On the other hand; the dynamism of local initiatives and community solidarity systems are impressive assets.  These forces should be enlisted, enlarged, and empowered to preserve and protect a heritage.  Involving people in cultural heritage conservation both increases the efficiency of cultural heritage conservation; and raises awareness of the importance of the past for people facing rapid changes in their environment and values.

The Hague Convention.

The First International Peace Conference, the Hague, May – June 1899. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important.

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 and enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully. It is important to retain the best of traditional self-reliance; and skills of rural life and economies as people adapt to change.

Traditional systems of knowledge are rarely written down: they are implicit, learnt by practice and example, rarely codified or even articulated by the spoken word.  They continue to exist as long as they are useful; as long as they are not supplanted by new techniques.  They are far too easily lost.  It is the objects that come into being through these systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important. The objects that bear witness to systems of knowledge must be accessible to those who would visit and learn from them.

As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of a draft of the Pact; largely written by the French jurist Dr George Chklaver:

“The world is striving toward peace in many ways, and everyone realizes in his heart that this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era…We deplore the loss of the libraries of Louvain and Oviedo and the irreplaceable beauty of the Cathedral of Rheims.  We remember the beautiful treasures of private collections which were lost during world calamities.  But we do not want to inscribe on these deeds any words of hatred.  Let us simply say: Destroyed by human ignorance — rebuilt by human hope.”

Thus for the World Day;  let us work together to preserve the beauty of the past and create beauty for future generations.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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Quincy Wright Rapprochement of Cultures.

Quincy Wright: A World Citizen’s Approach to International Relations

Featured Image: Quincy Wright, Professor of International Law at the University of Chicago, from the 1940 MacMurray College Yearbook, where he was one of the speakers on “The Essential Elements of a Durable Peace” at the MacMurray Institute. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Contemporary movements that stressed the need for world citizenship started on the eve of World War II when the spirit of aggressive nationalism was at its height in the policies of Germany, Italy and Japan.  There was a need to develop balance by stressing the unity of humanity and the interdependence of the world.  These concepts of world citizenship were articulated by a leading professor of international law, Quincy Wright (1890-1970) of the University of Chicago who felt that States must shape their domestic laws and foreign policies in such a way as to be compatible with the tenets of international law.

A Study of War

Quincy Wright spent most of his teaching life at the University of Chicago.  He was active in debates among international relations specialists on the place of law – and thus of universal norms – in the conduct of States.  In 1942 he published his massive  A Study of War  which combined a philosophical-legal approach with a more statistical-quantitative one.  He was very concerned with the quality of university teaching on war and peace.  His 1955 The Study of International Relations remains an outstanding multi-disciplinary approach to the study of world politics. (1)

World Citizens Association

         He served as a bridge between professors of international relations and the growing ranks of peace researchers and the world citizens movement.  Quincy Wright was a leader of a first World Citizens Association founded in 1939 serving as its Secretary with Anita McCormick Blaine as Chairman. (2)

         Unfortunately, the strength of the nationalist tide was too great, and a balance by stressing world unity could not be created in time. The Second World War broke out in Europe shortly after the creation of the World Citizens Association. Japanese nationalism had already brought violence to China, but too few people reacted. Japanese nationalism continued in an unbalanced way, leading to the attack on the US base at Pearl Harbor, which  provoked U.S. entry into the war.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A small boat rescues a seaman from the 31,800 ton USS West Virginia burning in the foreground. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred. Note the two men in the superstructure. The USS Tennessee is inboard (7 December 1941). By Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In the modern world, the security and prosperity of all individuals and all groups are closely bound together.  The preservation of civilization depends upon the ability of national states and diverse peoples to live together happily and successfully in this rapidly shrinking world.  Since all individuals today suffer or benefit by conditions the World over, every man has interests and responsibilities as a world citizen.”

Second World War and The Cold War.

         Even though the Allies won the Second World War, the start of the Cold War presented many of the same issues as had been present in 1939.  In his 1949 address as President of the American Political Science Association, Wright posted a dark picture.

While inventions in the fields of communications and transport and interdependence in commerce and security make for one world, the actual sentiments of people have been moving toward more exclusive loyalty to their nations,  more insistence that their governments exercise totalitarian control over law, defense, economy, and even opinion.  Materially the world community steadily becomes more integrated, but morally each nation gains in solidarity and the split in the world community becomes wider.  Under these conditions, people await with a blind fatalism the approach of war.  Disaster seems as inevitable as in a Greek tragedy.”

Montage of Cold War pictures. By 麩, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

What have world citizens to propose?

   Wright sets out three steps which remain the framework for world citizen action today.  As a first step, world citizens must provide a process of systematic observation: what new political conflicts are likely to develop?  What methods are likely to be used? What goals are likely to be striven for?  In short, what is the nature of current tensions, struggles and conflicts?

System of world law

         The second essential step is to provide proposals for negotiated resolutions to these struggles and conflicts within the framework of a system of world law.

  What arrangements will assure that world politics operates with reasonable respect for human personality, for civilization, for justice, for welfare – all values which most men will recognize?  How do we work so that the political struggles going on in the world will utilize only methods consistent with human dignity and human progress?  World citizens are willing to take one step at a time anticipating that if one step in the right direction is taken, it will be easier to win sufficient consent for the next steps.”

Education for World Citizenship

         Thus today, the Association of World Citizens which builds on the earlier efforts of the World Citizens Association has made proposals for mediation, conciliation, and confidence-building measures for armed conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma) and the Ukraine-Russia conflicts.

Education for Global Citizenship.

The third step which Wright proposed was longer term but essential: education for world citizenship.  If men must be world citizens as well as national citizens, what picture of the world can command some of their loyalties however diverse their cultures, economies and government? 

The primary function of education – developing in the individual attitudes appropriate to the values of the society in which he is to live – and, in progressive societies of adapting those values to changing conditions – all citizens need to feel themselves citizens of the world.”

         Thus, through education, a widespread sentiment of world citizenship must be developed.  Thus,  the Association of World Citizens works in cooperation with UNESCO’s major program “Education for Global Citizenship.”

         Today,
the Association of World Citizens is proud to build on the steps outlined by
Quincy Wright.  We face the challenges of
our time as he faced the challenges of his time.

 Notes:

1) See Quincy Wright. The Study of International
Relations
(New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1955)

    See also
Quincy Wright. The World Community (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1949)

2) For biographies of Anita Blaine, see! Gilbert A.
Harrison. A Timeless Affair. The Life of Anita McCormick Blaine (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1979) and

Jacqueline Castledine. Cold War Progressives.
Women’s Interracial Organizing for Peace and Freedom
(Urbana: University of
Illinois Press, 2012)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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The Hazara Appeals

We Must Protect the Rights of the Hazara Population…

Featured Image: Hazara people in the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan 2020. By Shaah-Sultaan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) is strongly concerned by possible repression against the Hazara population in Afghanistan, repression of such an extent that it could be considered genocide. While it is still too early to know what the policies and practice of the Taliban toward minorities will be now, during the past Taliban rule (1996-2001) there was systematic discrimination against the Hazara and a number of massacres.

There are some three million Hazara whose home area is in the central mountainous core of Afghanistan, but a good number have migrated to Kabul, most holding unskilled labor positions in the city. The Hazara are largely Shi’a in religion but are considered as non-Muslim heretics or infidels by the Taliban as well as by members of the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K), now also an armed presence in Afghanistan.

In the past there was a genocidal period under the rule of Abdur Rahman Khan. During the 1891-1893 period, it is estimated that 60 percent of the Hazara were killed, and many others put into slavery-like conditions.

To understand fully the concern of the AWC for the Hazara, it is useful to recall Article II of the 1948 Convention against Genocide.

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Abdur Rahman Khan

Abdur Rahman Khan, King of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. By Frank A. Martin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There have been repeated appeals to make the 1948 Genocide Convention operative as world law. The then United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said in an address at UNESCO on December 8, 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 our out time too, a stark and haunting reminder of why our vigilance but be eternal.”

The 1948 Convention has an action article, Article VIII:

Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide […]

Despite factual evidence of mass killings, some with the intent to destroy “in whole or in part”, no Contracting Party has ever called for any action under Article VIII. (1)

The criteria for mass killings to be considered genocide does not depend on the number of people killed or the percentage of the group destroyed but on the possibility of the destruction of the identity of a group. It is the identity of the Hazara and their religious base which is the key issue. Events need to be watched closely, and nongovernmental organizations must be prepared to take appropriate action.

Kofi Annan

Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan spoke with the media at the United Nations Office at Geneva following the June 30, 2012 Meeting of the Action Group for Syria. By US Mission in Geneva, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Note.

(1) For a detailed study of the 1948 Convention and subsequent normative development see: William A. Schabas, Genocide in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2000, 624 pp.)

 

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

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

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Afghanistan Appeals

Start of a New Round in Afghanistan?.

 Featured Image: Afghan pro-government forces (including militia and army troops) assemble in Jowzjan Province during 2021 Taliban offensive. By File:Afghan government forces in Jowzjan Province during 2021 Taliban offensive.png: Abdulbasir Ilgor (VOA)derivative work: Berrely, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There are real dangers of increasing armed conflict and regression of civil society in Afghanistan as the Taliban advance and opposing forces organize. On 5 August 2021, the United Nations Security Council met under the presidency of the Ambassador of India, T.S. Tirumrti. The Council heard a report from the the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan who said that the country was at a dangerous turning point.

Regional States – Pakistan, Iran, China, India and the Central Asian republics – are all involved in different ways. The withdrawal of the U.S.A. and NATO forces is not complete, and private contractors will stay on. There is a flow of refugees. Persons who had worked for the U.S. or NATO troops are being given refuge abroad. Many other persons are also looking at the possibility of leaving, and few are considering returning from abroad.

Since its overthrow in 2001, the Taliban has regrouped, launched an insurgency and has assumed control of a significant portion of the country. In addition to the Taliban, there are an estimated 10,000 foreign fighters in some 20 Islamist groups who are also anti-governmental. Among these are fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) who had been active in Iraq and Syria. Many of these foreign fighters operate independently from the Taliban.

There have been different efforts to facilitate meaningful negotiations among government representatives, the Taliban, representatives of civil society and other groups from within Afghanistan. These negotiations seem to be at a standstill and have produced no clear guidelines for a lasting settlement. It is impossible to know what discussions among more limited groups may be going on. There may be discussions with a low profile or under the cover of religious authorities. There may be locl initiatives for a local ceasefire. However, the results of earlier talks does not make one optimistic on an overall agreement.

Since the start of the Soviet intervention in January 1980, Afghanistan has become increasingly divided, and the population war weary. After 2001, a good number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) became active, often in cooperation with foreign NGOs. Education and health services were developed. At this stage, it is difficult to know what lasting impact these NGO efforts will have. To some extent foreign NGO workers depended on U.S. and NATO troops for protection. It is likely that the protection of foreign NGOs will not be a high priority for governmental troops and may be prime targets of the Taliban.

The current complexity of international relations, with only weak efforts of cooperation for peace processes with the United Nations system and shrinking space for civil society efforts are the dark background of the current Afghan situation. The growing dangers of violence and repression may creat a new energy for peacemaking or on the opposite, discouragement and fear. The situation merits close analysis to see if there are any opportunities for positive action.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

 

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

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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world citizens UN: Growth of World Law.

Citizens of the World Diplomacy.

Picture by  Artem Beliaikin on Pexels

The crisis today in human affairs is represented not by the absence of human capacity, but by the failure to recognize that the capacity exists. What gives hope its power is the release of human energies generated by the longing for something better”.

Norman Cousins.

The Association of World Citizens.

Douglas Mattern;  was the founding  president of the Association of World Citizens;  when in 1975 he brought together individuals;  who considered themselves as Citizens of the World;  but were working within a host of other prizce organizations. He has since died;  but his efforts for world citizen diplomacy has continued and expanded.

One of the primary duties of State leaders;  is to identify and then to defend against enemies. As soon as a pair of states begins to identify one another as enemies; as the USA and the Soviet Union did in 1945 at the end of the World War;  they take steps that confirm and amplify the initial fears;  thus starting a cycle of action and reaction.

For American leaders;  the Soviet Union represented not only an expansionist state;  but was also a leader of a more vague and undefined “international communism”. For the Soviets the USA was an atomic-weapon state; but also the champion of an effort to destroy the “socialist system”.

Many citizens feel that if a government fails to be vigilant in its “threat assessment” of the present danger;  then that administration does not deserve to govern.

Cycles of Distrust and Resort to Arms.

We see after “9/11”; the same political and security mechanisms made all the more difficult; because “Islamic Fascism” is even more vague and undefined than “International Communism”; and does not have a specific “home state”; as the Soviet Union or China had for Communism.

There are basically two types of activities; which people can take to modify; such cycles of distrust and resort to arms.

The first is the role of “kibitzer” — the person; who is on the sideline in a game of cards; who says after each hand

“I would not have played the Ace of Hearts then.”

Likewise we can say :

“If I were in the place of President Bush; I would not have gone into Afghanistan, much less Iraq.”

A good deal of world citizen energy; has gone into efforts to convince governments that nuclear weapons; nuclear-weapons testing; and keeping nuclear weapons on “hair-trigger alert” is unwise.

It is likely that had there not been the anti-nuclear efforts starting in 1945; when as Albert Einstein said 

“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking; and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe”.

Governments would have continued to develop and test nuclear weapons; driven by only technical and strategic considerations.

Photograph by Orren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. Modified with Photoshop by PM_Poon and later by Dantadd., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community-Based Moral Voices.

Much of the drive for arms control and disarmament has come from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and from community-based moral voices; such as that of Martin Luther King, Jr who said :

“I do not minimize the complexity of the problems; that need to be faced in achieving disarmament and peace. But I am convinced that we shall not have the will, the courage; and the insight to deal with such matters unless in this field; we are prepared to undergo a mental and spiritual re-evaluation; a change of focus which will enable us to see that the things that seem most real and powerful are indeed now unreal; and have come under sentence of death.

It is not enough to say ‘We must not wage war!’; It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the eradication of war; but on the affirmation of peace.”

Martin Luther King, picture: Colors by Emijrp, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The value of being a “kibitzer” at the United Nations through non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN; is that one can give advice to a host of governments. Out of the 192 UN members; some governments will be interested and take up ideas which; later may be found in resolutions.

NGO representatives cannot claim “ownership” of the ideas; but the constant repetition of basic ideas of conflict resolution, human rights, and a fairer economic system; keep these ideals in front of decision makers.

Citizen Diplomat.

Another approach is the role of “citizen diplomat”. As Douglas Mattern notes:

Citizen diplomacy is an idea whose time has come. With modern technology; individuals and organizations from diverse parts of the globe; can have instant communication through the Internet, telephones, and fax machines.

The marvel of telecommunications; along with the relative ease and speed of travel; provide the capability for joint activity among people that was not previously possible.”

Mattern tells of his experiences as a citizen diplomat in the Soviet Union; on “Citizen Diplomacy Volga Peace Cruise” — trips starting in 1983; organized by Alice and Howard Frazier of Promoting Enduring Peace.

During the eleven hundred mile trip on the Volga with stops at major cities along the way; there were workshops and exchanges of views and perceptions. Later in 1986; there was a return trip down the Mississippi; during which thousands of Americans came to greet the Russians on the Delta Queen steamboat; and to extend their own message of peace and friendship.

The multiplication of such examples of citizen diplomacy; helped to break down the walls which the Cold War had created; both physical and mental walls. Mattern sets out the basic aims of citizen diplomacy:

“ Our unyielding task is to build a world community that respects law and justice, the sharing of resources, and the creation of a new civilization based on respect for life, respect for the environment, and respect for each other.”

Rene Wadlow; President, Association of World Citizens.

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

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