Tag: <span>Red Cross</span>

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…

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Donetsk and Luhansk Appeals

Vital Autonomy for the People’s Republic of Donetsk and…

Featured Image: Return of released citizens to the territory controlled by Ukraine, December 29, 2019. By President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

There are many dimensions to the current tensions on the Ukraine-Donbas-Russia frontiers, both geopolitical and domestic considerations.  There are long historic and strategic aspects to the current crisis.  Security crises are deeply influenced both by a sense of history and by current perceptions.  There have been bilateral discussions between U.S. and Russian authorities, between Russian and French leaders, between Russian and Chinese  leaders, between the Ukrainian leader and a number of others and multilateral discussions within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), within NATO, at the U.N. Security Council, and within the European Union.  For the moment, there has been no de-escalation of tensions nor a lowering  of troop levels.

Currently, there is only one permanent structure for multilateral negotiations on the Ukraine tensions – the “Normandy Format” which brings together the representatives of Ukraine and Russia, France and Germany primarily to negotiate on the status of the separatist People’s Republics.

Ukraine

The famous Independence Square in Kiev on a sunny day. Photo by Euan Cameron on Unsplash.

You might be interested in reading: Ukraine-Donbas-Russia: Can the Normandy Format Be Reactivated?.

Special Status.

The Minsk II Agreement of 12 February 2015 agreed that the areas covered by the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics would not be separated from Ukraine but would be given a “Special Status” set out in a new Ukrainian Constitution.  However, beyond some rather vague discussion on decentralization, the nature of the Special Status has not been agreed upon, and no Ukrainian government administrative measures have been put into place.

In the period since 2015, the socio-economic situation in the two People’s Republics has gotten worse.  Many people have left either for Ukraine or Russia.  There are constant violations of the ceasefire agreements which are monitored by observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  Thus it its 15 December 2021 report the OSCE monitors noted that between 10-12 December, there were 444 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and 104 in the Luhansk region. However, the freedom of movement of the OSCE observers is restricted.  The number of violations, usually exchanges of small arms fire, is probably higher.

The Association of World Citizens.

Solving the Donbas aspect of the conflict on the basis of  a real and vital autonomy and trans-frontier cooperation should be a top priority for action. The Association of World Citizens has always stressed the importance of developing appropriate forms of government as a crucial aspect of the resolution of armed conflicts.  The Association has particularly highlighted the possiblities of con-federalism and the need for trans-frontier cooperation. The Association was involved at the start of the Abkhazia-Georgia conflict in August 1992 and the  first efforts at negotiations carried out in Geneva with representatives from Abkhazia who were in Geneva and officials from the United Nations and the  International Committee of the Red Cross.  Thus we know how a cycle of action-reaction can deepen a conflict and how difficult it is to re-establish structures of government once separation has been established.

The need to  progress on the structure of Ukraine stands out sharply at this time when there are real possibilities of escalatory risks.  There is a need for confidence-building measures reaching out to different layers of society in a cumulative process.  Advances on the Special Status would be an important step in the de-escalation of tensions.   As long as the two People’s Republics are kept weak, they will be dependent on support from Russia.  It is when they are economically and socially strong that they can have useful trans-frontier relations both with Russia and the rest of Ukraine. Discussions on the Special Status must be carried out by those living in Ukraine. 

However, government representatives as well as non-governmental organizations in Russia, Germany, and France can also contribute actively.  The new German Foreign Minister, the ecologist Annalena Baerbach, coming from a federalist-structured State with many local initiatives possible, may bring new visions to these discussions which are increasingly under way.

Annalena Baerbock

The new German Foreign Minister, the ecologist Annalena Baerbock.  By Stefan Kaminski (photography), Annalena Baerbock (full rights of use), CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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…

1 2 12

Tigray Appeals

Ethiopia’s Tigray, a New Biafra?.

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

On 4 March 2021; at the United Nations, Mark Lowcock; the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; warned that a campaign of destruction is taking place in Ethiopia’s Tigray  Provence; saying that nearly five million of the six million population of the Provence, needed food assistance.  For the first time; a high U.N. official highlighted the role of the Eritrean Defense Forces fighting along side of the Ethiopian central government’s forces were committing crimes of war.  He indicated that as the Tigray fighting enters its fourth month;

there are “multiple credible and widely corroborated reports from Tigray of widespread atrocities, involving mass killings, rapes, and the abductions of civilians.”

The fighting in Tigray began at the time of the harvest of agricultural production. Much of the harvest has been destroyed as well as farm markets.  Thus; there is wide-spread hunger.  The question which;  we must ask is if famine is a consequence of the fighting;  or a deliberate policy to starve the Tigray resistance – starvation as an arm of war.  The famine situation in Tigray today brings to mind the Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967-1970.

The International Committee of the Red Cross.

During the Biafra war; I was a member of a working group of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.  The armed conflict was the first in Africa; in which only an African State was involved; no colonial party used to the European laws of war. The International Committee of the Red Cross faced a new socio-cultural context; in which to try for the respect of humanitarian law.

We find many of the same elements in the lead up to the fighting in Tigray: a change in power in the central government;  an effort of the new administration to centralize the administration; demands for autonomy or independence based on ethnic criteria; a flow of refugees toward other provinces of the country; the influence of neighboring or other States in the conflict. The Nigeria-Biafra war dragged on for 30 months; and at least one million lives were taken.

Blocking food aid to Biafra became a deliberate policy. Starvation became not a consequence of war; but an arm of war.  The policy of starvation is remembered and still colors politics in Nigeria. (1)

 

To Uphold Human Dignity.

The fighting in Tigray becomes more complex by the day as Ethiopian Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, ethnic militias from the Amhara region face Tigrayan forces. There is a buildup of Sudanese government forces on the Ethiopian-Sudan border; and there are growing ethnic conflicts; in the Benishangul-Gumuz region; as Tigrans flee into Sudan.  Reporting on the war is very limited.  Communications are deliberately cut; and journalists unwelcome and under heavy government pressure.  Starvation as a government war policy is denied. One would not expect otherwise.

However; we know little of the military planning of the central Ethiopian government. For the moment; all efforts for mediation proposed by the United Nations or the Organization of African Unity have been refused by the Ethiopian central government; and the former officials of the Tigray province have fled.  For the moment; we on the outside can only watch.

We need to do more to uphold human dignity.

 

Note.

1) See: Ifi Amadiume and Abdullah An-Na’im (Eds)  The Politics of Memory: Truth, Healing and Social Justice; (London: Zed Books, 2000, 207 pp.)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.