Tag: <span>Russia</span>

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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Russia-Ukraine Negotiations Appeals

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

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

President of France Emmanuel Macron was in China from 5-7 April 2023 and urged that China could play a major role in bringing peace to the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict. China’s 12 point plan to resolve the Ukraine conflict has indicated President Xi Jinping‘s willingness to be active in peace efforts. While the 12 point peace plan is incomplete, it does propose general principles which can serve as a useful framework. President Macron is accompanied by Ms Von der Leyen of the European Commission, a sign of the wide European concern with the positive role that the Chinese government can play.

After the positive role that Chinese mediators played in the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there is increasing a world-wide recognition of the talents of Chinese mediators. China is probably the only country with an ability to influence Russian policy-makers in a peaceful direction.

Emmanuel Macron

Presidents of France Emmanuel Macron in 2022. By President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Overview of the Normandy Proposal and its Potential Role in Future Agreements for Ukraine.

President Macron was the prime mover for action on what was called the Normany Proposal involving negotiation among Russia and Ukraine, France and Germany. The proposal was to build on the Minsk agreement concerning the two pro-Russian People’s Republics of Ukraine which would remain in Ukraine with a modified Ukrainian constitution recognizing a good deal of autonomy to the People’s Republics. The Minsk Agreement was never acted upon with no action to modify the Ukrainian constitution. Since the 2022 Russian invasion, the situation has grown more complex and difficult. However, the Normandy ideas are probably the basis of any future agreement after a first cease-fire.

Ms Ursula von der Leyen

The President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen and The President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nicos Anastasiades make statements to the Press. University of Cyprus campus, Lefkosia, Cyprus, 8. July 2021. By Stavros Ioannides, P.I.O. Photo Department., CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Anticipated Increase in Fighting in Ukraine and the Importance of Alternative Solutions.

Military observers predict an increase in fighting in Ukraine now that the winter is over and troops can move more easily. Thus the immediate need to present alternatives to more fighting and the start of serious negotiations. The Macron-Xi talks may have set the stage for at least the preliminaries.

President of China Xi Jinping

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping addresses Chinese and foreign journalists at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct 23, 2022. By China News Service, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

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Ukraine Appeals

Ukraine: Moving Toward Negotiations?.

Featured Image: a view of Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev, Ukraine (2018). By Juan Antonio Segal, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Frederick L. Schuman (1904-1981) was the U.S. international relations scholar whose writings on the Soviet Union were important contributions in the 1950-1960s and whose birth anniversary we note on 24 February. 

24 February is also the one-year anniversary of the Russian intervention in Ukraine.  The “Special Military Operation ” – Russian invasion of Ukraine has created security tensions we thought were left behind with the end of the Cold War in 1991.  In many ways, I have the feeling of being back to the early 1950s when I started to analyse world politics.  Thus I turned back to Frederich Schuman.

The Challenge of Anarchy in World Affairs: Striving for Peace and Stability.

He sets out the broad framework.  “In a world community lacking world government, and therefore afficted with anarchy in the relationships among rival sovereignties, the successive patterns of power politics which follow one another  bewildering in the kaleidoscope of world affairs change rapidly and radically through time.  They are never the product of the decisions of any one group of power-holders or policy-makers in any one sovereignty, but they are always the product of the confused interaction among rival policy-holders in rival sovereignties.  The resulting design for power, with no one willing the result, is sometimes a design for conflict and violence, and sometimes a design for peace and stability.” (1)

I would estimate that the current pattern is a design for conflict and violence.  Thus, as Citizens of the World, we have to promote policies that will lead to a design for peace and stability through negotiations in good faith.  We are challenged by the tensions of this time to strive for a vision of the steps needed.

Assessing Russian Policy and Motivations: The Challenge of Negotiating a Settlement for the Ukraine Conflict.

Schuman asked the questions which again face us today.  “How do the rulers of Russia behave toward the West and why do they behave the way they behave?  How may we expect them to behave in the future in light of the long past and in the light of the triumphs, the tragedies, and the immense transformations of the past years? (2)

The proposals for a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine conflict will be colored by the assessments of Russian policy and especially by the evaluation of the motivations of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.  Certain commentators have seen the conflict as a proxy war between NATO and Russia.   It is unclear how many of the NATO State leaders have a real influence in policy making on the Ukraine issue.  There are some proposals being publicly presented – trial balloons as they say.  We will have to see if they are shot down as was the Chinese balloon.

The Importance of Timing in Negotiations: A Historical Perspective on U.S.-Soviet Tensions.

It is certain that in situations where opinions are deeply divided, proposals for negotiations are often considered as “giving in to the other side.”  In the leadup to the 1948 elections in the U.S.A. Frederick L. Schuman was a key member of the committee drafting the Platform of the newly-created Progressive Party in July 1948.  Schuman wrote the foreign policy section with its emphasis on U.S.-Soviet tensions. “Responsibility for this tragic prospect of war is an American responsibility insofar as the leaders of the bipartisan foreign policy have placed monopolistic profits and military power ahead of peace in their dealings with other nations.  It is a Soviet responsibility insofar as the leaders of the Soviet Union have subordinated the preservation of peace and concord to aggaradizement and power politics.”

Schuman stressed that instead of the economic Cold War, the U.S.A and the U.S.S.R. should work together, through the United Nations for world economic reconstructions and development.  After demonstrating non-aggressive and humanitarian intensions, the United States and her allies should enter in good faith into negotiations with Russia and her allies, with a view to achieving a world settlement which would be in the best interests of all.

1948 was too early for such views to influence U.S. government policy.  In negotiations, timing is of crucial importance. 

Is the time ripe for negotiations on Ukraine?

Notes.

1) Frederick L. Schuman.”Toward a World Settlement. The Half-Way House of 1954″  Talk delivered before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 9 April 1954.
2) Frederick L. Schuman “The Cold War: Retrospect and Prospect”  (Baton Rouge, LA, Louisiana State University Press, 1967).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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International Humanitarian Law Appeals

Upholding International Humanitarian Law in Times of Armed Conflict:…

Featured Image: Ukrainian diaspora in Brussels protests the Russian invasion, Processed with VSCO with acg preset. By Bartosz Brzezinski from Chicago, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow.

The invasion by Russian troops into Ukraine has raised in a dramatic way the issue of the respect of international humanitarian law. There have been reports of the use of cluster munitions fired into civilian areas. The Association of World Citizens (AWC) was very active on efforts which led to the convention banning cluster weapons.

Regular military personnel of all countries are theoretically informed of the rules of the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and the Protocol Additional adopted in 1977.

When the 1949 Geneva Conventions were drafted and adopted, it was possible to spell out in considerable detail rules regarding prisoners of war and the protection of civilians, in particular Common Article 3 (so called because it is found in all four Conventions) provides that: 

“each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: Persons taking no active part in the hostilities…shall in all circumstances be treated humanely without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.”

 

The importance of Common Article 3 should not be underestimated. It sets out in straightforward terms important protections that all parties to a conflict must respect. In order to meet the need for additional protection, international humanitarian law has evolved to cover not only international armed conflict but also internal armed conflict. Today, international human rights standards are also considered part of international humanitarian law, thus providing additional protection for vulnerable population groups such as women, children, and minorities.

As situations of internal violence and strife proliferate, abuses committed by non-State actors, such as armed militias, are increasing concerns. Fundamental standards of international humanitarian law are intended to ensure the effective protection of human beings in all situations. The standards are clear. (1)

Geneva Conventions

Geneva Conventions – signing in 1949. By British Red Cross., CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

There are two major weaknesses in the effectiveness of International Humanitarian Law.

The first is that many people do not know that it exists and that they are bound by its norms. Thus, there is an important role for greater promotional activities, the dissemination of information through general education, specific training of the military, outreach to armed militias, and cooperation with a wide range of non-governmental organizations.

The second weakness is that violations of international humanitarian law are rarely punished. Governments too often tolerate these violations. Few soldiers are tried, or court-martialed, for the violations of international humanitarian law. This weakness is even more true of non-governmental militias and armed groups.

In fact, most violations of international humanitarian law are not actions of individual soldiers or militia members carried away by a sudden rush of anger, fear, a desire of revenge or a sudden sexual urge to rape a woman. Soldiers and militia members violating the norms of international humanitarian law are acting on orders of their commanders.

Thus, the only sold response is an act of conscience to refuse an order of a military or militia higher up and refuse to torture, to bomb a medical facility, to shoot a prisoner, to harm a child, and to rape a woman. Conscience, that inner voice which discerns what is right from wrong and encourages right action is the value on which we can build the defense of international humanitarian law. The defense of conscience to refuse unjust orders is a large task but a crucial action for moving toward a law-based world society.

Original Geneva Conventions

The original document of the first Geneva Convention from 1864, on loan to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland. By Kevin Quinn, Ohio, US, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes

(1) For useful guides to international humanitarian law see:

D. Schindler and J. Toman, The Laws of Armed Conflicts (Martinus Nihjoff Publishers, 1988)

H. McCoubrey and N.D. White, International Law and Armed Conflicts (Dartmouth Publishing Co., 1992)

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

 
 

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nuclear weapon saber rattling Appeals

Saber Rattling With Nuclear Weapons.

Featured Image: During the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (via videoconference). By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
On 21 September, the United Nations designated Day of Peace, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation in an address to the nations said:

” I am addressing you – all citizens of our country, people of different generations, ages and ethnicities, the people of our great Motherland, all who are united by the great historical Russia, soldiers, officers and volunteers who are fighting on the frontline and doing their combat duty, our brothers and sisters in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Kherson and Zaporazhye regions and other areas that have been liberated from the neo-Nazi regime.” 

He set out the dangers facing the Federation.

“The goal of that part of the West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country.  They are saying openly now that in 1991 they managed to split up the Soviet Union and now is the time to do the same to Russia, which must be divided into numerous regions that would be at deadly feud with each other… Washington, London and Brussels are openly encouraging Kiev to move hostilities to our territory.  They openly say that Russia must be defeated on the battlefield by any means, and subsequently deprived of political, economic, cultural and any other sovereignty and ransacked.”

 
      To meet these challenges he ordered a:

” partial mobilisation in the Russian Federation to defend our Motherland and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories.”

 

 
Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, set out the details in a public statement just after Putin’s address.  The mobilization will call up men below the age of 65 who have had military service.  There are some 300,000 people in this category.
     The nuclear saber rattling followed.  Putin went on:

” I am referring to the statements made by some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries on the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction –  nuclear weapons against Russia… In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our peole, we will certinaly use all weapon systems available to us.  This is not a bluff.” 

He ended by saying:

“The citizens of Russia can rest assured that the territorial integrity of our Motherland, our independence and freedom will be defended – I repeat – by all the systems available to us.”

Sergei Shoigu
    Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the opening ceremony of the international military-technical forum “Army-2021” and the International Army Games – 2021. By Пресс-служба Президента РФ, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
What makes the current situation more ambiguous and dangerous is that Vladimir Putin announced and confirmed by Sergei Shoigu that from 23 to 27 September 2022, there would be referendums in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and in the areas under Russian control in the Kherson and Zaporazhye regions on joining the Russian Federation.
People who are refugees in Russia from these areas will also be able to vote. A vote favorable to joining Russia is not in doubt.  Thus any future military operations by Ukraine forces in these areas could be considered by Russia as an attack on Russian territory.
     It is impossible to know to what extent the nuclear weapon saber rattling is serious, if it goes beyond a justification for the mobilization of former military – not a popular policy.  The situation calls for active efforts to decrease tensions on the part of the U.N. of national governments and of NGOs.  The next weeks may be crucial.
 
  René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Nuclear Weapons Appeals

Dark Clouds and Little Light at the Nuclear-Weapon Non-Proliferation…

Featured Image Photo by  Egor MyznikUnsplash.

After late night negotiations; the every-five-year Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; (The NPT Review) failed to reach a consensus on a final statement this past Friday.  The terms of the Review require a consensus and not a majority-minority vote.  This is not the first time that a NPT Review has failed to reach a consensus on a final documen; but the failure is an indication of strong tensions among nuclear-weapon states – in particular over the Russian Federation armed conflict in Ukraine.

151 States participated in the Review held at the United Nations in New York; however the Review is not a U.N. conference, thus the consensus rules of procedure.  There were 160 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accredited to participate in the Review.  I had chaired the NGO representatives at the first Review in 1975 held in Geneva, and also chaired the NGOs at the 1980 Review.  We were fewer then.  However getting consensus among NGOs is nearly as difficult as among States.  The impact of NGOs depends to a large part on preparation before the Review and follows up after.

The Treaty was negotiated in Geneva during a 10-year period with frequent consultations between the negotiators and the Foreign Ministries.  Many negotiators of non-nuclear-weapon States considered the treaty as uneven or unfair, giving a superior position to the five official nuclear-weapon States: China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.A. In “compensation” there is a crucial Article VI in which the nuclear-weapon States agree:

“to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” 

NGOs have cited Article VI at each Review deploring the lack of progress toward nuclear disarmament or any other type of disarmament.

Dark clouds hung over this Review with the statements of the Russian authorities on 24 February and again on 27 April threatening that nuclear weapons might be used if its forces in Ukraine were menaced.  As a reply, the States party to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons issued a 23 June consensus statement stating that:

“any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations” and condemned “unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.”

It is certain that the shadows of nuclear weapons exist in the thinking of some governments. The State of Palestine participated in the Review but not the State of Israel.  The Republic of Korea was there but not North Korea.  There is a need to deal both with regional tensions such as those of the Middle East or the two Koreas as well as the nuclear-weapon stockpile of the U.S.A. and the Russian Federation.  There are some possibilities of “Track II” – informal diplomacy – concerning the Middle East and the Koreas.  However there is less concerning U.S. and Russian nuclear policy where NGOs have made proposals for as long as I can remember but with little visible impact.  Yet the challenge is there.  The coming together of such a large number of NGO representatives may help build a platform for NGO consensus and action.

Korean Peace

Korean Peace Memorial By John Murphy, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Korean Peace Treaty Awaits: NGO Efforts Needed.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Korean Peace Appeals

Korean Peace Treaty Awaits: NGO Efforts Needed.

Featured Image: Korean Peace Memorial By John Murphy, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

27 July marked the anniversary of the 1953 Armistice ending the fighting in Korea.  A peace treaty was to follow, but such a formal peace agreement has never been signed.  Since 1953; there have been ups and downs of the degree of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.  Currently, tensions are toward the high end of the scale.

On 14 March 2013; the Association of World Citizens had sent a message to the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; urging a U.N.-sponsored Korean Peace Settlement Conference; now that all the States which had  participated in the 1950-1953 Korean War were members of the United Nations.  The 60th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice would be an appropriate occasion.

Such a Korean Peace Settlement Conference could build a framework for a broader, comprehensive approach to  Northeast Asian security. The Association of World Citizens stressed the need for strong diplomatic measures by concerned States such as China, Russia, the U.S.A. and Japan. The World Citizens highlighted that in the past, there had been a series of dangerous but ultimately resolvable crisis concerning the two Korean States.  However; there are always dangers of miscalculations and unnecessary escalation of threats.

Ban Ki moon

Ban ki-moon, 5 February 2016. By Chatham House, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Test The Waters.

The 60th anniversary went by without a Peace Conference.  Today, we are still at about the same point of trying to develop confidence-building measures between the two Korean States.  Small steps that do not overly worry the U.S.A. and China who watch events closely are needed.  It is unlikely that any progress will be made in the foreseeable future concerning demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula or unification.  Small steps are probably the order of the day.  The Association of World Citizens has proposed increased family contacts, cultural exchanges, and increased food aid to the Democratic People’s Republic, a lessening of economic sanctions, and an increase in trade.  There is a need to halt the automatic reaction to every provocation. There is a a need to “test the waters” for a reduction of tensions and building confidence-building measures.

In striving to build trust and political negotiations between two adversaries, confidence- building measures attempt to replace conflict with cooperation.  With the purpose to diffuse tensions; confidence-building measures try to initiate a process of dialogue by promoting better communications involving governments and non-governmental representatives in building bridges of trust; thus breaking walls of suspicion and mistrust.

Korean War

Montage for the Korean War Main Page in Wikipedia. By Madmax32, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Hawks” who are against confidence-building measures.

There is always  need to build support for confidence-building measures as in all countries there are “hawks”  who are against confidence-building measures while those favourable to confidence-building efforts fail to broaden their support base at the popular level.  Thus, there is an important role to be played by the media, by non-governmental organizations and by academics.

Such efforts are particularly needed today when tensions, in part related to nuclear programs, are growing.  Positive efforts need to be made.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Odessa Blockade Appeals

Lifting the Odessa Blockade.

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash.

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) urges action to lift the blockade on Odessa and other Black Sea ports; so that grain and other food resources can resume to flow. Ukraine has a vast agricultural base producing 46 percent of the world’s sunflower exports; and 10 percent of the world’s wheat exports. The Middle East and Africa are Ukraine’s food export market. Odessa has a large grain terminal; in which vast quantities of food exports are now stuck. It is not physically possible to transport large quantities of grain; by rail and road.

In part due to this blockade; food prices for grain have risen some 20 percent; hitting especially the poor. In some parts of Africa; due to climate conditions and armed conflict; there are near famine conditions. New food supplies are urgent.

 

Odessa Blockade

Odessa, Ukraine Port.

Russian authorities have said that they were ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for ships carrying food; but only in return for the lifting of U. S. and Western European sanctions. However; the Western sanctions have a multitude of sources. The lifting of the Odessa blockade and renewed grain shipments must be treated as a single issue; although it is obviously colored by the whole armed conflict.

There are diplomatic efforts underway; led by the African Union and the United Nations. It is urgent that speedy progress be made. Nongovernmental organizations may be able to play a creative role; as many NGOs are already involved in ecologically-sound development projects in areas under agricultural and food stress. The AWC; concerned with the resolution of armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith; appeals for creative diplomatic measures; so that the blockade is ended as soon as possible.

 

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

 

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Rape as a Weapon Appeals

A Step Forward in the U.N.’s Efforts Against Rape…

Featured Image: Photo by Stewart Munro on Unsplash.

On Tuesday, 23 April 2019; the United Nations Security Council voted for resolution N° 2467; concerning the use of rape as a weapon in times of armed conflict.  This resolution builds on an earlier resolution of 24 June 2013; which called for the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violation by all parties in armed conflicts. The new resolution introduced by Germany contained two new elements; both of which were eliminated in the intense negotiations in the four days prior to the vote of 13 in favor and two abstentions, those of Russia and China.

The first new element in the German proposed text concerned help to the victims of rape.  The proposed paragraph was:

“urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal and livelihood support and other multi-sectoral services for survivors of sexual violence, taking into account the special needs of persons with disabilities.”

Sexual and Reproductive Health.

The U.S. delegation objected to this paragraph claiming that “sexual and reproductive health” were code words that opened a door to abortion.  Since a U.S. veto would prevent the resolution as a whole; the paragraph was eliminated.  

There had been four days of intense discussions among the Security Council members concerning this paragraph; with only the U.S. opposed to any form of planned parenthood action. After the resolution was passed with the health paragraph eliminated, the Permanent Representative of France; Ambassador Francois Delatte spoke for many of the members saying:

“It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant should have the right to terminate their pregnancy.

Sexual violence in conflict situations.

The second concept of the German draft that was eliminated; was the proposal to create a working group to monitor, and review progress on ending sexual violence in armed conflict.  Such a working group was opposed by the diplomats of Russia and China; both of which have the veto power.  Thus, for the same reason as with the U.S. opposition; the idea of a monitoring working group was dropped. Both China and Russia are opposed to any form of U.N. monitoring; fearing that their actions on one topic or another would be noted by a monitoring group.  The Russian diplomat had to add that he was against the added administrative burden that a monitoring group would present; but that Russia was against sexual violence in conflict situations.

The Association of World Citizens.

Thus, the new U.N. Security Council resolution 2467 is weaker than it should have been; but is nevertheless a step forward in building awareness.  The Association of World Citizens first raised the issue in the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in March 2001 citing the judgment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia; which maintained that there can be no time limitations on bringing an accused to trial.  The Tribunal also reinforced the possibility of universal jurisdiction that a person can be tried not only by his national court but by any court claiming universal jurisdiction and where the accused is present.

The Association of World Citizens again stressed the use of rape as a weapon of war; in the Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights Violations; in the Democratic Republic of Congo; citing the findings of Meredeth Turshen and Clotilde Twagiramariya in their book What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa. (London: Zed Press, 1998).

Rape is …

They write “There are numerous types of rape.  Rape is committed to boast the soldiers’ morale, to feed soldiers’ hatred of the enemy, their sense of superiority, and to keep them fighting:

Rape is one kind of war booty women are raped because war intensifies men’s sense of entitlement, superiority, avidity, and social license to rape:

Rape is a weapon of war used to spread political terror; rape can destabilize society and break its resistance; rape is a form of torture; gang rapes in public terrorize and silence women because they keep the civilian population functioning and are essential to its social and physical continuity rape is used in ethnic cleansing; it is designed to drive women from their homes or destroy their possibility of reproduction within or “for” their community; genocidal rape treats women as “reproductive vessels”; to make them bear babies of the rapists’ nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, and genocidal rape aggravates women’s terror and future stigma, producing a class of outcast mothers and children – this is rape committed with the consciousness of how unacceptable a raped woman is to the patriarchal community and to herself. 

This list combines individual and group motives with obedience to military command; in doing so, it gives a political context to violence against women, and it is this political context that needs to be incorporated in the social response to rape.”

The Security Council resolution.

The Security Council resolution opens the door to civil society organizations to build on the concepts eliminated from the governmental resolution itself.  Non-governmental organizations must play an ever-more active role in providing services to rape victims with medical, psychological, and socio-cultural services.  In addition; if the U.N. is unable to create a monitoring and review of information working group; then such a monitoring group will have to be the task of cooperative efforts among NGOs.  It is always to be hoped that governments acting together would provide the institutions necessary to promote human dignity.  But with the failure of governments to act; our task as non-governmental representatives is set out for us.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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

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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.

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”…

1 2 11