Tag: <span>NGO</span>

Peace Planners Appeals

 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 Clausewitz that war is a continuation of politics by other means.  Thus there is a need for the peace planning community to be awake and be equally busy.  The challenges which humanity faces today: armed violence, persistent poverty, mass migration, and the consequences of climate change, require strong collective action at the local, the national, and the world level.

Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831). By Karl Wilhelm Wach, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.   

For peace planners, we need to analyse current armed conflicts and the strong tensions which may lead to violence.  Sometimes these tensions start as small localized events, such as tensions between military forces on the India-China frontier, but such tensions contain the seeds for later armed violence.  The recent trip of the 100 year old Henry Kissinger across the Pacific to discuss with the Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu is an indication that tensions in the Indo-Pacific area are being taken seriously.

Chinese Minister of National Defence, General Li Shangfu in Singapore at the Shangri La Dialogue on Sunday, 4th June 2023. By Photographer: Danial Hakim, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

NGOs bring their early warning capacities and problem-solving.

    For peace planners, there is a need to stregthen measures for early intervention.  Too often intervention by the United Nations or other intergovernmental agencies such as the African Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe occurs only once the conflict has become a serious dispute involving violence.

    For those of us who are outside of governmental institutions, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGO) for peace planning.  NGOs on bring their early warning capacities and problem-solving knowleadge to the United Nations and regional intergovernmental organizations.  Among NGOs, exchanges of information, the creation of regional or thematic working groups, and co-ordinated information campaigns are vital needs. 

Henry Kissinger at the 2009 premiere of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Photographer’s blog post about event and photograph. By David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Adlai Stevenson.

As soon as well-researched material is available, the issue is to get the information to the right people, at the right time, and in the right wording.  Timeliness and clarity of message are crucial.  Many governmental decision-makers receive thick reports, jargon-laden faxes, and briefing notes.

    The challenge for us who plan for a more peaceful world is to help develop processes for dialogue.  As Adlai Stevenson said at the U.N.

“We do not hold the vision of a world without conflict.  We do hold the vision of a world without war – and this inevitably requires an alternative system for dealing with conflict.”

Adlai Stevenson, Democratic candidate for president. Note: Contrast slightly increased from original image (see below) (1956). [1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.   

René Wadlow, President, 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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Torture Education of World Citizenships.

26 June: International Day Against Torture.

Featured Image: Painting in museum DPRK. By AgainErick, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Torture has a bad name among the police and security agencies of most countries. Thus torture is usually called by other names.  Even violent husbands do not admit to torturing their wives.  Thus;  when NGO representatives started to raise the issue of torture in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in the early 1980s;  the government representatives replied that it was a very rare practice;  limited to a small number of countries and sometimes a “rogue” policeman or prison guard. 

However;  NGO representatives insisted that, in fact; it was widely used by a large number of countries; including those that had democratic forms of government.

Sean MacBride (1904-1988).

Getting torture to be recognized as a real problem;  and then having the Commission on Human Rights create the post of Special Rapporeteur on Torture; owes much to the persistent efforts of Sean MacBride (1904-1988); at the time the former chairman of the Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1974). MacBride had been the Foreign Minister of Ireland (1948-1951);  and knew how governments work.

However; He had earlier been a long-time leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA); being the son of John MacBride; an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising – an attack on the Dublin Post Office. With his death; John MacBride became an Irish hero of resistance.  Later Sean had spent time in prison accused of murder. He told me that he had never killed anyone;  but as the IRA Director of Intelligence; he was held responsible for the murders carried out by men under his command.  Later, he also worked against the death penalty.

Torture

Seán MacBride. By Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

As examples of the current use of torture kept being presented by NGO representatives and as some victims of torture came to Geneva to testify; the Commission on Human Rights named a Special Rapporteur and also started to work on what became the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel  Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Treaty came into effect on 26 June 1987; and in 1997 the UN General Assembly designated 26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Independent Experts.

Human Rights treaties negotiated within the UN create what are known as “Treaty Bodies”; ­ a group of persons who are considered to be “independent experts”. As the saying around Geneva goes; “some are more ‘expert’ than others, and some are more ‘independent’ than others.  Countries which have ratified a human rights convention should make a report every four or five years to the specific Treaty Body. For the Torture Treaty;  it is every four years to the 10-person expert group.

Many States are late, some very late, in meeting this obligation. There are 158 States which have ratified the Torture Convention;  but some 28 States have never bothered to file a report. States which have not ratified the treaty do not make reports.

Concluding Observations.

NGO representatives provide the experts with information in advance and suggest questions that could usefully be asked. The State usually sends representatives to Geneva for the Treaty Body discussions; as the permanent Ambassador  is rarely able to answer specific questions on police and prison conditions. At the end of the discussion between the representative of a State and the experts; the experts write “concluding observations” and make recommendations.

Unfortunately; the Convention is binding only on States.  However; increasingly non-governmental armed militias;  such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq carry out torture in a systematic way. The militia’s actions can be mentioned but not examined by the Treaty Body.

While there is no sure approach to limiting the use of torture; much depends on the observations and actions of non-governmental organizations.  We need to increase our efforts; to strengthen the values which  prohibit torture; and watch closely how persons are treated by the police, prison guards and armed militias.

 

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

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

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.

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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Nuclear weapons Appeals

The NPT and Broader Human Security.

Featured Image: Castle Romeo nuclear test (yield 11 Mt) on Bikini Atoll. It was the first nuclear test conducted on a barge. The barge was located in the Castle Bravo crater. By United States Department of Energy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power, in the unspeakable human suffering they cause, in the impossibility of controlling their effects in space and time, in the risks of escalation they create, and in the threat they pose to the environment, to future generations, and indeed to the survival of humanity.”

Jakob Kellenberger, then President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; (known as the NPT Review to its friends); began on 1 August 2022 at the United Nations in New York.  The Secretary- General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres opened the Review by stressing that :

“From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. To Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more.”

Jakob Kellenberger

 Jakob Kellenberger (born 1944), President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) since 2000 at Dies academicus 2003 of the University of Fribourg. By Charly Rappo, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

As I chaired the representatives of the non-governmental organizations (NGO) at the 1975 and the 1980 Reviews, then held in Geneva, I have a feeling of repeating myself, especially as I participated in the 1985 and 1990 Reviews, after which the Reviews moved to New York.

As the Reviews were not U.N. meetings but were held in U.N. buildings, we were able to negotiate a greater role for NGOs at the review conferences than at the U.N. disarmament meetings.  Yes, there was a time when the U.N. had a Conference on Disarmament which held regular meetings. In addition, there were three U.N. General Assembly Special Sessions of Disarmament, 1978, 1982, 1988.  Disarmament has largely disappeared from the U.N. Agenda, and NGOs are forced to hand out arms control proposals to government U.N. missions, one step away from distributing pornography.

General Asembly

Image by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?

Military Spending Remains Constant.

The month-long NPT Review aims at having a final resolution highlighting the discussions.  This final resolution must be agreed upon by consensus making bold proposals difficult.  These proposals might be agreed upon if there were majority-minority voting but impossible by consensus.  Another major difficulty is that there are crucial States outside the NPT framework: India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea.

The world’s nuclear arms race arose as a classic case of the security dynamic – a situation in which one State tries to make itself more secure by building weapons and military forces which it says are defensive.  NGOs have constantly stressed that money spent on the nuclear weapons industry would be better spent on public health, climate stabilization and ecologically-sound development.  However, military spending remains constant.  NGOs have also stressed during the Reviews the need for developing confidence-building measures.  But confidence remains in short supply.

The debates and the results of the NPT Review merit being watched closely.

Ending the nuclear weapons era will require dedication, sustained effort and increased cooperation among NGOs. NGO action and cooperation led to the treaties on chemical weapons, land mines and cluster weapons.  Developing the framework for a broadly defined human security is the next major step.  The debates and the results of the NPT Review merit being watched closely.

 

René 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…

1 2 12

United Nations UN: Growth of World Law.

The United Nations as One

Featured Image: Photo by Brandi Alexandra on Unsplash.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

” The outer message of the United Nations is peace.
The inner message is Oneness.
Peace – we strive to structure;
Oneness – we manifest.”

Dag Hammarshjold has written that the United Nations was:

“the beginning of an organic process through which the diversity of peoples and their governments are struggling to find common ground upon which they can live together in the one world which has been thrust upon us before we were ready.”

Basically, the function of the UN is to create consensus (being of one mind) on crucial world issues. Such consensus-building is slow, and it is done by repeating endlessly in resolutions of the General Assembly and other UN bodies, year after year, the same idea until it becomes common place. Slowly national governments align their policies upon this common core as non-governmental organizations and the media take up the issues – sometimes a little ahead of governments and sometimes only later.

Dag Hammarskjöld (1950s). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.

In 60 years, there have been six issues which have moved from the stage of the ideas of a few to become common policy. This evens out to an idea per decade, and the UN has tried to push “theme decades” with only limited success as we see from the current “UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.”

I see the six ideas as follows:

  • 1. The end of direct colonialism. There grew from the start of the UN until the mid-1960s the idea that colonial administration had ended its usefulness as a form of government. The end of colonialism owes much to the UN system, though, of course, inequality and domination, the signs of colonial status, have not been overcome.

  • 2. Apartheid as a bad structure for South Africa and for other countries tempted by similar structures of racial division was a theme of many resolutions and speeches. Slowly, the image of a multi-racial and multi-cultural society took hold, encouraged by enlightened leadership at the national level.

  • 3. There are basic human rights and these should be respected. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the Preamble to the UN Charter are the two lasting documents of the UN and stand as the guide for common action.

  • 4. Closely related to the idea of human rights but needing a special effort at consensus building is the idea that women are equal to men and should be so treated. Although the idea is obvious, both the UN and national governments have found it difficult to put into place.

  • 5. The ecological balance of the world is in danger and needs remedial action. The ecological efforts of the UN began in 1971 and are enshrined in the “Covenant with Nature” – a text of equal importance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although not as well known.

  • 6. There should be a Palestinian state. From the 1947 partition plan to today, this idea has been repeated. There is a broad consensus, but such a state has not been created. Without the constant discussion in the UN, the Israel-Palestine tensions would have become a bilateral issue of interest to few other states, as the issue of Kashmir, created at the same time, has faded from the UN stage to become an India-Pakistan issue.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948. By UN, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There is now a seventh idea, increasingly articulated but not yet manifested in action.

  • The idea is that there is a relationship between the goals of the UN – an idea often stressed by Kofi Annan during his period as Secretary-General: the need to accept or acknowledge the indivisible links between security, development, and human rights. “It is clear that security cannot be enjoyed without development, that development cannot be enjoyed without security, and neither can be enjoyed without respect for human rights.”

Many of us as NGO representatives have tried to push other ideas within the UN system, especially disarmament and improved techniques of conflict resolution, without success. Today, the UN has little impact on issues of violence, but no other organization does either.

Thus we have violence and a good number of tension areas where greater violence may break out. Violence-reduction is probably the chief task facing the new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. There is little common ground on what can be done to reduce violence and settle conflicts peacefully. We must not underestimate the time and difficulty that it takes to build consensus within the UN, but I believe that violence-reduction (sometimes called peace) is the next “big idea” whose time has come to the UN.

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

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Paulo Freire Book Reviews

Paulo Freire: Popular Participation.

Featured Image: Paulo Freire Panel. CEFORTEPE – Center for Training, Technology and Educational Research Prof. “Milton de Almeida Santos”, SME-Campinas. By Luiz Carlos Cappellano, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow.

In the Declaration of Principles and Programme of Action;  adopted by the 1976 World Employment Conference it is stated,

A basic needs-oriented policy implies the participation of the people in making the decisions which affect them through organizations of their own choice.”

          Marshall Wolfe of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) defines participation as: 

“the organized efforts to increase control over resources and regulative institutions in given social situations, on the part of groups and movements often excluded from such control.”

Paulo Freire

Photo of Paulo Freire (1977). By Slobodan Dimitrov, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Fathers of Popular Participation.

Among the intellectual “fathers” of popular participation is Ivan Illich and the Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire (19 Sep 1921 – 2 May 1997) (l). Illich urged the ‘deprofessionalization’ in all domains of life − schooling, health care, planning − in order to make “ordinary people”  responsible for their own well-being. 

The strongest affirmation of the superior value of participation over elite decision-making comes from Freire;  who held that the touchstone of development is whether people;  who were previously treated as mere objects;  and acted upon can become subjects of their own social destiny. When people are oppressed or reduced to the culture of silence;  they do not participate in their own humanization.

Conversely;  when they participate;  thereby becoming active subjects of action;  they begin to construct their properly human history; and engage in processes of authentic development.  Paulo Freire stresses this inclusion of the marginalized in his discussion of agricultural extension efforts.  The ideal to be sought in agricultural extension is true communication or reciprocal dialogue;  not the mere issuance of information by expert agronomists to peasants or farmers.

Ivan Illich

 Ivan Illich. By Adrift Animal, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Participation.

“Participation”  is a term that is often used in three different ways.  It is sometimes used;  as in much agricultural extension activities;  as induced from above by some authorities;  who usually seek some social control over the process.  Such State-promoted participation usually aims at getting people to produce more effectively.  This is not popular participation in the sense that the Basic Needs Approach uses the term “participation”;   although in practice State cooperation is usually needed.

“Participation”  in the Basic-Needs – inclusion of the marginalized sense – springs from below during a crisis;  and in response to some threat to a community’s values or survival.  Often with no prior plan or precedent;  some hitherto passive group mobilizes itself to protest, to resist, to say “No”.  As the world citizen  Albert Camus wrote:

 “Any oppressed group’s refusal to accept its conditions is always the latent bearer of all affirmations of possible new orders.  To say “no” is to open up possibilities for saying “yes” in a multitude of ways.  Those who begin by saying “No” to their oppressors soon feel the need to utter some “Yes” of their own.”

 

Albert Camus     Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner, half-length portrait. By Photograph by United Press International, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Basic Needs Approach.

 “Participation”  in the Basic Needs Approach can also be used to define the catalytic action of third party change agents − technicians, community organizers, missionaries or members of a specialized NGO. Most such change agents view self-reliance of the poor and marginalized as a desirable goal.  Accordingly;  they see their own activation of the marginalized as “facilitation”;  destined to disappear after the people awaken to their dormant capacities to decide and act for themselves.

Popular participation usually  follows a sequence of steps:

  • Initial diagnosis of the problem or condition;
  • a listing of possible responses to be taken;
  • selecting one possibility to enact;
  • organizing, or otherwise preparing oneself to implement the course of action chosen;
  • self-correction or evaluation in the course of implementation;
  • debating the merits of future mobilization or organization.

If participation is to influence decision-making at a level;  where it makes a difference in national development; there is a necessary transition from the micro, local area to the macro, national planning dimension. 

A Basic Needs Approach;  provides an opportunity for previously powerless communities to enter into national development thinking.  Participation can fruitfully be understood as a moral incentive; enabling hitherto excluded groups to negotiate new packages of material incentives in areas such as food, housing and access to education.

Participation − an active role by intended beneficiaries − is an indispensable feature of the Basic Needs Approach to Development Planning.

Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire Panel. CEFORTEPE – Center for Training, Technology and Educational Research Prof. “Milton de Almeida Santos”, SME-Campinas. By Luiz Carlos Cappellano, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes:

  1. For Ivan Illich see: Toward A History of Needs (New York: Pantheon, 1978).
  2. Ivan Illich. Deschooling Society (New York: Harper and Row, 1983).
  3.  For Paulo Freire see: Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970).
  4.  Paulo Freire. Education for Critical Consciousness (New York: Seabury Press, 1973).

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

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