Tag: <span>Sudan</span>

Sudan Appeals

The Sky Darkens in Sudan.

Featured Image: Photo by Abdulaziz Mohammed on Unsplash.

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

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

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

The evildoers on horseback.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

World Refugee Day.

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Yemen Appeals

Yemen: Positive Action Still Needed.

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

Picture by Carl G. Friedrich

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

Arab Spring

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

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

Four steps of conflict resolution and negotiations in good faith:

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

Six-Region Federation as the Political Structure for Yemen.

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

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

Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi

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

South Arabia.

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

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

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

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

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

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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Reconciliation Appeals

Reconciliation in Africa: A Vital Need.

Featured Image: USAID has integrated reconciliation and trauma healing into peace building. This has helped communities moveout of the cycle of violence and revenge.Photo credit: Pact/Aernout Zevenbergen. By USAID in Africa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pope Francis’ Appeal to the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan for reconciliation and forgiveness stresses a vital need to overcome the divisions of the armed conflicts in the two countries.  A million people came to the Kinshasa airport to hear the Pope call for an end to the armed conflicts in the eastern Congo, basically the administrative provinces of North and South Kivu.  The area is huge, about the size of the U.S.A. east of the Mississippi River.  Originally, he had hoped to go to Goma, the major city of eastern Congo, with many refugees from the surrounding area. 

However, the security situation was such that the itinerary was modified.  However, his words reached the area.

Pope Francis in 2021. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a large Christian population.  The activity of Christian missionaries was part of the agreement to create the Congo Free State which was the personal property of the King of Belgium before becoming a Belgium colony.  Thus, the Pope’s influence can be real with a fairly strongly developed Catholic Church infrastructure to follow up.

However, the divisions within the country are deep and of long duration.  The divisions have both ethnic and economic roots.  The Congo’s vast mineral and timber riches have drawn in neighboring armies which have joined local insurgencies as well as local commanders of the national army to exploit the mines and to keep miners in near slavery.  The eastern area of Congo has been the scene of fighting at least since 1998 – in part as a result of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994.  In mid-1994, more than one million Rwandan Hutu refugees poured into the Kivus, fleeing the advance of the Tutsi-led Rwandan Front, now become the government of Rwanda led by Paul Kagame.

Rwandan PRESIDENT KAGAME ATTENDS THE NEPAD@20 SYMPOSIUM Virtual Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda (2014). By Вени Марковски | Veni Markovski, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Genocidaire.

Many of these Hutu were still armed, among them the “genocidaire” who a couple of months before had killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda.  They continued to kill Tutsis living in the Congo, many of whom had migrated there in the 18th century.  As the Rwandan groups created their own militias, so did different Congolese ethnic groups, often drawing on their ethnic brothers who deserted from the Congolese army.  Deserters and ethnic militias combined to rob and burn villages and to rape on a large scale.  Rape as an instrument of war has been widely practiced in eastern Congo.

Systematic rape is a crime which is covered by the mandate of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.  Rape is a violation of international humanitarian law.  Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions prohibits:

“violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture…outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault, slavery.”

Image: Photo by Stewart Munro on Unsplash.

A Step Forward in the U.N.’s Efforts Against Rape as a Weapon of War.

The MONUC.

Into this disorder, in 2002, the United Nations sent peacekeepers, the MONUC, currently some 18,000 persons – the largest U.N. peacekeeping operation.  The MONUC mandate has been prolonged with a new Security Council resolution each year that the sponsors hope will be the last.  Each year, there is so little improvement in the security situation that the mandate is continued with little debate and with general indifference of world public opinion.

On paper, the U.N. mandate is clear and comprehensive – to build the political, military, institutional, social and economic structures needed to create a secure environment.  However, there is no effective Congolese administration.  The U.N. troops are not trained to deal with the cultural issues – especially land tenure and land use issues, which are the chief causes of the conflict.  U.N. peacekeepers are effective when there is peace to keep.  Today, there are an estimated 120 separate armed militias in action.

What is required today in eastern Congo is not so much more soldiers under U.N. command as reconciliation bridge builders, persons who are able to restore relations among ethnic groups of the area.  Such bridge builders can help to strengthen local efforts at conflict resolution and the restoration of confidence among peoples in conflict. It must be hoped that the Appeals of Pope Francis will provoke creative action on the part of bridge builders.

 Picture: MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, Weak but Necessary.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

World Refugee Day.

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Genocide Convention UN: Growth of World Law.

Genocide Convention: 9 December 1948.

Featured Image: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Genocide Convention: 9 December 1948.
An Unused but not Forgotten Standard of World Law.

Genocide is the most extreme consequence of racial discrimination and ethnic hatred. Genocide has as its aim the destruction, wholly or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such. The term was proposed by the legal scholar Raphael Lemkin, drawing on the Greek genos (people or tribe) and the Latin cide (to kill).(1) The policies and war crimes of the Nazi German government were foremost on the minds of those who drafted the Genocide Convention, but the policy was not limited to the Nazi. (2)

The Genocide Convention is a landmark in the efforts to develop a system of universally accepted standards which promote an equitable world order for all members of the human family to live in dignity. Four articles are at the heart of this Convention and are here quoted in full to understand the process of implementation proposed by the Association of World Citizens, especially of the need for an improved early warning system.

Article I

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

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

Unlike most humanitarian international law which sets out standards but does not establish punishment, Article III sets out that the following acts shall be punishable:

  • (a) Genocide;
  • (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
  • (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
  • (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
  • (e) Complicity in genocide.

Article IV

Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

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 or any of the other acts enumerated in article III.

Numerous reports have reached the Secretariat of the United Nations of actual, or potential, situations of genocide: mass killings; cases of slavery and slavery-like practices, in many instances with a strong racial, ethnic and religious connotation – with children as the main victims, in the sense of article II (b) and (c). Despite factual evidence of these genocides and mass killings as in Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and in other places, no Contracting Party to the Genocide Convention has called for any action under article VIII of the Convention.

As Mr Nicodene Ruhashyankiko of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities wrote in his study of proposed mechanisms for the study of information on genocide and genocidal practices “A number of allegations of genocide have been made since the adoption of the 1948 Convention. In the absence of a prompt investigation of these allegations by an impartial body, it has not been possible to determine whether they were well-founded. Either they have given rise to sterile controversy or, because of the political circumstances, nothing further has been heard about them.”

Yet the need for speedy preventive measures has been repeatedly underlined by United Nations Officials. On 8 December 1998, in his address at UNESCO, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said:

“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 of our time, too, a stark and haunting reminder of why our vigilance must be eternal.”

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.

In her address Translating words into action to the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1998, the then High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, declared :

” The international community’s record in responding to, let alone preventing, gross human rights abuses does not give grounds for encouragement. Genocide is the most flagrant abuse of human rights imaginable. Genocide was vivid in the minds of those who framed the Universal Declaration, working as they did in the aftermath of the Second World War. The slogan then was ‘never again’. Yet genocide and mass killing have happened again – and have happened before the eyes of us all – in Rwanda, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and other parts of the globe.”

We need to heed the early warning signs of genocide. Officially-directed massacres of civilians of whatever numbers cannot be tolerated, for the organizers of genocide must not believe that more widespread killing will be ignored. Yet killing is not the only warning sign. The Convention drafters, recalling the radio addresses of Hitler and the constant flow of words and images, set out as punishable acts “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”.

Mary Robinson (2014). By Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Genocide Convention

The Genocide Convention, in its provisions concerning public incitement, sets the limits of political discourse. It is well documented that public incitement – whether by Governments or certain non-governmental actors, including political movements – to discriminate against, to separate forcibly, to deport or physically eliminate large categories of the population of a given State, or the population of a State in its entirety, just because they belong to certain racial, ethnic or religious groups, sooner or later leads to war. It is also evident that, at the present time, in a globalized world, even local conflicts have a direct impact on international peace and security in general.

Therefore, the Genocide Convention is also a constant reminder of the need to moderate political discourse, especially constant and repeated accusations against a religious, ethnic and social category of persons. Had this been done in Rwanda, with regard to the radio Mille Collines, perhaps that premeditated and announced genocide could have been avoided or mitigated.

For the United Nations to be effective in the prevention of genocide, there needs to be an authoritative body which can investigate and monitor a situation well in advance of the outbreak of violence. As has been noted, any Party to the Genocide Convention (and most States are Parties) can bring evidence to the UN Security Council, but none has. In the light of repeated failures and due to pressure from non-governmental organizations, the Secretary-General has named an individual advisor on genocide to the UN Secretariat. However, he is one advisor among many, and there is no public access to the information that he may receive.

Direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Therefore, a relevant existing body must be strengthened to be able to deal with the first signs of tensions, especially ‘direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” The Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) created to monitor the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination would be the appropriate body to strengthen, especially by increasing its resources and the number of UN Secretariat members which service the CERD. Through its urgent procedures mechanisms, CERD has the possibility of taking early-warning measures aimed at preventing existing strife from escalating into conflicts, and to respond to problems requiring immediate attention. A stronger CERD more able to investigate fully situations should mark the world’s commitment to the high standards of world law set out in the Genocide Convention.

Notes

1) Raphael Lemkin. Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (Washington: Carnegie Endowment for World Peace, 1944).
2) For a good overview see: Samantha Power. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002)
3) E/CN.4/Sub.2/1778/416 Para 614

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Darfur Appeals

Renewed Violence in Darfur: An Unstable Sudan.

Featured Image: Pro-government militia in Darfur. By Henry Ridgwell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

24 April 2022; saw renewed violence in the Darfur Provence of Sudan between Arab militias and the indigenous tribes of the area, the Masalit and the Fur. The violence began in 2003 and has caused some 300,000 deaths and some three million displaced. While most of the fighting was when General Omar al-Bashir was President; his overthrow by new military leadership has not fundamentally improved the situation.

Omar Al Bashir

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, listens to a speech during the opening of the 20th session of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 31, 2009. By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Darfur Conflict.

Darfur is the western edge of Sudan. Its longist foreign frontier is with Chad; but communication with Libya is easy for camel herders and gunrunners. To the south lies the Central African Republic – a state with a very unstable government; which feels the fallout from the Darfur conflict. Darfur served as a buffer area between the French colony of Chad and the English-held Sudan until 1916; when French-English rivalry was overshadowed by the common enemy, Germany, in World War I. Darfur; which had been loosely part of the Ottoman Empire; was integrated into Sudan with no consultation either with the people of Darfur or with those in Sudan.

Thus; Darfur was always the neglected child in Sudan – a child no one had asked to be there. Only after 1945 were some development projects undertaken; but basically Darfur remained an area of pastoralists – some tribes specializing in camels and others in cattle – and settled agriculturalists. Camel and cattle-raising tribes from Chad would move into Darfur and vice-versa. There were frontiers between tribes; but they did not correspond to state boundaries.

The Black Book: Imbalance of Power and Wealth in Sudan.

In May 2000; intellectuals and government civil servants from Darfur; calling themselves the Seekers of Truth and Justice wrote The Black Book: Imbalance of Power and Wealth in Sudan. The study ended with specific recommendations for governmental and social action. While the book was widely read; it produced no new initiatives in sharing power or wealth. Some leaders in Darfur had the impression that the government was withdrawing services; especially in health and education. Schools were closed; and the number of children in school decreased.

After the failure of the intellectual efforts of The Black Book; the conviction that only violence was taken seriously started to grow among Darfur leaders. They started thinking about a strategy of a sharp; and swift show of violent strength that would force the government to negotiate with Darfur. The insurgency in Darfur began in the Spring of 2003. As Julie Flint and Alex de Waal point out in their useful history of the start of the Darfur war “Darfur’s rebels are an awkward coalition of Fur and Masalet villagers, Zaghawa Bedouins out of patience with Khartoum; a handful of professional who dared to take on leadership. Few of Darfur’s guerrillas had military experience or discipline before they took up arms.

The two main rebel groups are united by deep resentment at the marginalization of Darfur; but are not natural bedfellows and could easily be split apart… In the first months of 2003, these half-formed and inexperienced rebel fronts were catapulted out of obscurity to face challenges for which they were totally unprepared.” (1)

Islamic Legion.

The government in Khartoum was also unprepared for the Darfur insurgency. The government’s attention, as well as the bulk of the army, was turned toward the civil war in the south of Sudan. The government turned the fight against the Darfur movements to its security agencies – a narrow group of men uniterested in internal politics or external relations.

They decided to use the air force to bomb villages; and to use foreign troops to do the fighting on the ground. The foreign troops came from Libya. Colonel Gaddafi had created in the early 1980s an “Islamic Legion” and recruited militiamen from Mauritania, Chad, Mali in his efforts to create a union of Libya and Chad – or to annex part of northern Chad. When Gaddafi’s Chadian interests faded at the end of the 1980s; the Islamic Legion soldiers were left to look after themselves and so were ready to work for new paymasters.

Gaddafi

Muamar Muhamad Abu-minyar el Gadafi. By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Evildoers on Horseback.

The Sudanese security people brought the Islamic Legion soldiers to Darfur; gave them weapons but no pay. They were to pay themselves by taking what they could from the villages they attacked. In addition; prisoners from Darfur’s jails were released on condition of joining the militias. Rape of women and young girls was widely practiced both as a means of terror and as a “reward” for the fighters; since they were not paid. These militias became know as the Janjaweed (“the evildoers on horseback”.)

Although the Darfur conflict has largely faded from the media headlines; it continues producing many refugees, internally-displaced persons, unused farmland and political unrest. The conflicts in Darfur have destroyed many of the older patterns of dispute settlement among groups; as well as much of the economic infrastructure. The social texture and trust among groups is likely to be more difficult to rebuild than homes, livestock and water wells.

The joint African Union – United Nations peacekeeping force has not been able to produce peace. Peacekeeping forces need a peace to keep; and while there have been lulls in fighting; there has been no peace to keep. Banditry, criminal activities and periodic military action continues. It is impossible to know if the current outbreak of armed violence has local causes; or if it is a reflection of instability at the central government level. The situation in Darfur remains critical and needs to be watched closely.

 

Note.

1) Julie Flint and Alex de Wall. Darfur: A Short History of a Long War (London, Zed Books, 2005).

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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NGOs Book Reviews

Oliver P. Richmond and Henry F. Carey (Eds); Subcontracting…

Featured Image: Prof. Oliver Richmond By Arianit, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Challenges of the NGO Peacebuilding (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2005, 267pp.)

As Kim Reimann writes in this useful overview of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the peacebuilding field; “In the past two decades, the number and influence of NGOs have grown dramatically; leading many scholars and observers in recent years to argue that a paradigm shift has taken place in politics and international relations theory”.

While the tone of much of the literature on NGOs has been positive; and has presented them in a progressive and idealistic light; the rise of NGOs has not been without controversy or critics.

As NGOs have grown in size and influence; their actions have come under much greater scrutiny… “During the course of the 1990s and early 2000s, a clearly defined set of critiques of NGOs have appeared focusing on:

  1. Their performance and actual effectiveness.
  2. Accountability issues.
  3. Issues of autonomy.
  4. Commercialization.
  5. Ideological and/or political interpretations of their rising influence.”

The rise of NGOs

These critiques are worth looking at and will serve as a framework for this review. However; it is worth looking at the roles that NGOs try to play in the peace-building field; and why there has been increased growth in activity.

The rise of NGOs; such as the Association of World Citizens as important agents in conflict resolution; and post-conflict development efforts comes from the changing nature of conflicts.

Cold War years (1945-1990)

During the Cold War years(1945-1990); governments were the chief actors. NGOs could give advice on disarmament measures for the resolution of certain conflicts, and could provide the setting for some TrackTwo informal meetings. On some special issues that were not directly security-related such as the Law of the Sea negotiations; or the first UN environmental meetings; NGOs already had significant input.

However, even during the Cold War years; in certain areas, especially Africa; we saw the rise of non-state armed forces such as the first civil war in Sudan(1956-1972); the different rebellions in the former Belgium Congo, the Viet Cong in South Vietnam.

The World Council of Churches.

Governments were unable or unwilling to deal with such non-state actors. Much of the negotiations which brought an end to the first Sudanese civil war in 1972; were carried out by the African Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

There are also cases; in which the government controlling the territory is suspect and some governments are unwilling to work with it. I was involved in the early 1990s; in helping to set up child welfare and educational programs through an NGO as the Vietnamese-backed.

Cambodian Government

The Cambodian government was not recognized by some governments and was suspect to others. It was only later that a massive UN-led effort was made in Cambodia. Under UN leadership, NGOs, the Cambodian government, and national government programs; cooperated to restore the country after war, genocide, and the failure of Vietnam to undertake development efforts for the government it helped to put into place.

The US Government and the European Union

Today; we see the same debates in the US government and the European Union; concerning a Hamas-led government in Palestine. There is the current talk of funding through NGOs so as not to deal with Hamas; considered by some a terrorist organization.

NGOs are thought to have speed, flexibility, relative cheapness, high implementation capacity; and lack of bureaucracy. They are also relatively independent from governments; often made up of multinational teams. There is also disillusionment with the role of states in constructing peace in conflict zones — governments are always suspected of acting for narrow self-interest.

NGO strengths can also be weaknesses

However; NGO strengths can also be weaknesses, and as Kim Reimann suggests; it is important to look at performance and effectiveness. It is also necessary to look at government-organized activities in the same places and in the same fields.

I would suggest that each situation presents difficulties linked to history, culture, and the current distribution of local power, and thus governments and NGOs face the same difficulties. NGOs cannot use the police or the military so they must depend on discussion and material rewards.

Performance and effectiveness depend; in large measure on the quality of the persons working for peacebuilding NGOs; thus is an issue of experience and training; background knowledge of the area in which one is working; and the organization’s ability to get information and supplies to workers in the field. Much also depends on relations with national and local authorities; local NGOs and others having local influence.

The national military is always on hand

Moreover; NGOs cannot have staffs who only wait for a crisis to arrive. The national military is always on hand. To meet a new crisis; NGOs have to find people who have worked for them before; or for like-minded NGOs. Many such people have jobs and families, and cannot ‘drop everything to respond to a call. Thus; there is a need for wide and up-to-date NGO networks of people with the needed skills.

There is a need to train people both in the culture of an area and in skills. One has to be able to draw upon a wide range of people; who know the culture of an area. We have seen the difficulties of the US government; depending on too narrow a range of Iraqi exiles for their background information on Iraq.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The number of people who know the history and culture of the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo; (probably the most difficult current conflict situation) is limited and rarely in one place.

Fortunately; there is a growing number of university-based peace studies programs; that can be helpful in training. Kim Reimann has also raised the issue of autonomy — that is the way in which NGOs can prevent being manipulated by their governments, and yet cooperate when governments undertake useful initiatives. There is a useful chapter on NGOs and the peace efforts of Norway by Ann Kelleher and James Taulbee.

Norway

Norway is known for having played a leading role in brokering the Oslo accord in the Israel/Palestine conflict as well as being active in Latin America —Guatemala and Colombia — and especially Sri Lanka. As Kelleher and Taulbee write “ As a peacemaker, Norway sprang suddenly from amid the confusion associated with the reshuffling of international roles after the Cold War. A relatively small, homogeneous population that enjoys a high standard of living has produced a highly educated, closely connected governing circle whose members move easily between public, private, and semi-official roles.

The Norwegian domestic political

The Norwegian domestic political process emphasizes consensus creation rather than confrontation. Norwegians are accustomed to the time-consuming process of sorting out strongly held convictions and dealing with shifting coalitions of interests.

They consider their consensus-building political style as aptly suited to the ambiguities and uncertainties of peacemaking.” Because there are exchanges of people between NGOs; especially church-related, academic life, and government in Norway, and because Norway has no Great Power interests; it is easy for NGOs in Norway to cooperate with the government in peace efforts as full partners; not as manipulated agents of government policy. We have similar conditions in Sweden and Switzerland — thus the important role that NGOs from these countries play in NGO peacemaking efforts.

NGOs are a crucial question

Resources for NGOs is a crucial question. Fundraising from individual givers helps strengthen NGO independence, but it is time-consuming and expensive. In an analysis of NGO activities in rebuilding Rwanda, Joanna Fisher writes:

“NGOs may be benefiting their own image rather than that of the populace that they serve; they plan strategically ar time so as to worry more about proving their worth to get funding instead of worrying about if those helped can survive in the long-term after NGOs leave.”

Accepting money from governments poses problems of independence from government policy but can also be useful.

Getting projects off the ground requires funds that NGOs do not usually have in reserve. We can agree with the editor Henry Carey in his conclusions “NGOs have a vital role in supporting societies emerging from conflicts, half of whom are relapsed old conflicts where earlier efforts at peacebuilding and prevention have failed. Greater assessments of best practices and lessons learned about the vast growth of NGO activity, both acting independently and in partnership with the UN, are needed… Finally, more investigation of how to empower local NGOs which still depend on external resources in most cases needs to be undertaken.”

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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nuclear weapon Appeals

Steps Toward Security in the Middle East.

Featured Image: Photo by Ilja Nedilko on Unsplash.

“The struggle against the nuclear weapon cult and threats it poses to international peace, security and development, like all struggles against belief systems which have outlived their times, is going to be long and arduous”   

K. Subrahmanyal. Nuclear Proliferation and Internationsal Securtiy.

 
    The U.N. Conference on the Establishlent of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction took place at the U.N. in New York, 29 November to 3 December 2021.
The Conference is open-ended – that is open to those States that wish to attend – with a mandate provided by General Assembly Resolution A/73/546 to continue meeting annually:
 

“until the confernce concludes the elaboration of a legally binding treaty establishing a Middle East Zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

The first session was held 18-22 November 2019.

K. Subrahmanyam
 K. Subrahmanyam (2010). By MarcEduard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
The process will not be easy in an area where armed conflicts exist and are undermining stablity. There are very real concerns concerning nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Regional conflicts could unleash a nuclear war through escalation of a conventional war, miscalculation or delibeate pre-emptive attack. This is the second time that the conference is held.  The 22 countries of the Arab League and Iran participated as did the U.K. and Russia.  Israel and the U.S.A. did not.  While the difficulties are real, the Conference provides opportunities for governments of the region to share perspectives, consider proposals and look at the institutional requirements to establish such a zone.
 
    While non-governmental organization representatives cannot participate as such in the Conference, a nuclear-weapon free zone is of vital interest to those organizations working on arms control, disarmament, and regional conflict resolution.
 
The Arab League
Emblem of the League of Arab States (2008). By Jeff Dahl, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
   
The idea of a Middle East nuclear-free zone was first put forth by a non-governmental organization, the Israeli Committee of the Denuclearization of the Middle East in April 1962.  Non-governmental organizations, often working closely with the United Nations disarmament secretariat, have played a role in the creation of regional nuclear-weapon free zones starting with the Treaty of the Tlatelolco for Latin America, after the dangers highlighted by the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 
As the “father” of the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco the Mexican Ambassador Alfonso Garcia Robles explained the concept of nuclear-weapon free zones as a step toward global disarmament:
 

“We should attempt to achieve a gradual broadening of the zones of the world from which  nuclear weapons are prohibited to a point where the territories of Powers which possess these terrible tools of mass destruction will become something like contaminated islets subjected to quarantine.”

Alfonso Garcia Robles
Alfonso Garcia Robles (1981). By Marcel Antonisse, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
    Non-governmental organizations have proposed that the following States be included in the Middle East process: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, the Palistinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen.  In looking at the list of potential members, we see that a nuclear-weapon free zone is not the only issue on the political agenda.  We also see that the possibilities of action for non-governmental organizations to work on security issues is not the same in each country.  There is deep mistrust and rivalries among many of these States.
 
    Thus, it is probably necessary for non-governmental organizations outside of the area to organize what are called Track II initiatives – a non-official way to discuss regional security issues and to provide policy advice to governments.  A first step is to identify opportunities,  areas of mutual interest, and then to make recommendations where progress can be made and where governmental diplomatic efforts could be made.  Civil society organizations can also reach out to youth in the Middle East who are interested in creating positive changes with in the region.
 
    A first opportunity to present proposals to government representatives will be the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT Review) to be held at the U.N. in New York during this January 2022. Nuclear-weapon free zones as well as the needed confidence-building measures have provided an important focus of earlier NPT Reviews. 
 
The Association of World Citizens has stressed the importance of Nuclear-weapon Free Zones at earlier NPT Reviews and will do so again for the January 2022 Review.
 
 
  Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Armed Conflict in Ethiopia Appeals

Negotiation Appeals for to end The Armed Conflict in…

Featured Image: National Ethiopia Flag. Photo by Kelly Lacy in Pexels.
 
The Association of World Citizens (AWC) now reiterates its Appeal to the parties in the armed conflict in Ethiopia for negotiations in good faith to end the fighting,  and to deal with the deep consequences of the conflict; especially the wide-spread hunger.
 
Mark Lowcock; the United Nations Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; has warned that nearly five million of the six million population of the Tigray Province needed food assistance;  and the number grows as fighting spreads to other regions.
 
   Shortly after fighting began on 3 November 2020; the Association of World Citizens, knowing the fragile nature of the confederation of provinces which make up the Ethiopian state;  had made a first Appeal for negotiations in good faith;  although information on the fighting was very limited.  Journalists were prevented from going to Tigray as were most humanitarian NGOs.
 
Mark Lowcock
Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator speaks at the Safeguarding Conference in London. 18/10/2018. By DFID – UK Department for International Development, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Fighting in Tigray becomes more complex each day.

 
However by February; enough information  had been  gathered from refugee sources, that Amnesty International presented a first report on the extent of human rights violations, with multiple credible and widely corraborated reports of widespread atrocities involving mass killings, rapes and the abduction of civilians.
 
   The fighting in Tigray becomes more complex each day as Ethiopian Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces and ethnic militias face Tigrayan forces.  There is a buildup of Sudanese government forces on the Ethiopian-Sudan border and refugees flee into Sudan.  The whole Horn of Africa already fragile is in danger of greater destabilization.
 
   For the moment all efforts for mediation proposed by the United Nations or the African Union have been refused by the Ethiopian central government. The former officials of Tigray Province have fled, and it is not clear who is in a position to negotiate for the Tigray factions were negotiations to be undertaken. There may be possibilities for non-governmental initiatives.
 
 
 
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Darfur Appeals

Continuing Instability in the Darfur Conflicts.

12 Mar 2021 – Despite the removal after 30 years of power of the Sudanese military dictator Omar Al-Bashir and his subsequent arrest; stability has not returned to Darfur; where fighting began in 2003. Although the Darfur conflict has faded from the headlines; it continues producing many refugees, internally-displaced persons, unused farmland, and political unrest.  The joint African Union-United Nations force (MINAUD); has not been able to produce peace.  Peacekeeping forces need a peace to keep;  and during the past 13 years there have been lulls in fighting; but no peace to keep.

The Darfur conflict of western Sudan; is a textbook example of how programmed escalation of violence can get out of control. Neither the insurgencies nor the government-backed forces; have been able to carry out good faith negotiations; or deal with the fundamental issue of how to get cattle farmers and settled agriculturalists to live together; in a relatively cooperative way.

South Sudan.

Darfur (the home of the Fur);  was always marginal to the politics of modern Sudan and to the two phases of the North-South civil war;  which took place from 1954-1972 and from 1982-2005; ultimately leading to the creation of a separate State, South Sudan.  Darfur;  about the size of France; had been an independent Sultanate; loosely related to the Ottoman Empire.  It was on a major trade route from West Africa to Egypt; and so populations from what is now northern Nigeria, Niger, Mali; and Chad joined the older ethnic groups of the area: the Fur, Masalit, the Zaghawa, and the Birgit.

However; Nomads from Libya also moved south into Darfur.  As the population density was low; a style of life with mutual interaction between pastoral herdsmen and settled agriculturalists; with some livestock developed. Increasingly, however; there was ever-greater competition for water and forage; made scarce by environmental degradation and the spread of the desert.

A “Marriage” was Desirable.

France and England left Darfur as a buffer zone between the French colonial holdings — what is now Chad — and the Anglo-Egyptian controlled Sudan.  French-English rivalry in West Africa had nearly led earlier to a war;  and so a desert buffer was of more use than its low agricultural and livestock production would provide to either European colonial power.  It was only in 1916,  during the First World War; when French-English colonial; rivalry paled in front of the common German enemy; that the English annexed Darfur to the Sudan; without asking anyone in Darfur or Sudan;  if such a ‘marriage’ was desirable.

Thus, Darfur continued its existence; as an environmentally fragile area of Sudan.  It was marginal in economics; but was largely self-sufficient.  Once Sudan was granted its independence in 1956; Darfur became politically as well as economically marginal.  Darfur’s people have received less education, less healthcare, less development assistance; and fewer government posts than any other region.  Southerners were given government and administrative posts; in the hope of diminishing the violent North-South divide.

Share the Wealth and Administrative Reform.

There was no such incentive to ‘share the wealth’ with Darfur.  Its political weight was even lessened; when Darfur in a 1995 ‘administrative reform’ was divided into three provinces: Northern Darfur, Western Darfur, and Southern Darfur.  Some areas that were historically part of Darfur; were added to Northern and Western Bahr El-Ghazal.  The division of Darfur did not lead to better local government; or to additional services from the central government.  It must be added that Darfur’s political leadership had a special skill in supporting national political leaders; just as the national leaders were about to lose power — first Al Sadig al Mahdi and then Hassan al-Turabi.

The Black Book.

In 2000; Darfur’s political leadership had met to draw up a Black Book; which detailed the region’s systematic under-representation in national government; since independence. The Black Book marked the start of a rapprochement between the Islamist and the more secular radicals of Darfur; which took form three years later with the rise of the more secular Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Islamist-leaning Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

However;  at the level of the central government; the Black Book led to no steps to increase the political and economic position of Darfur.  This lack of reaction convinced some in Darfur; that only violent action would bring recognition and compromise as the North-South civil war had done.

Little Red Book.

The two Darfur groups, SLA and JEM; started to structure themselves, gather weapons and men. The idea was to strike in a spectacular way; which would lead the government to take notice and to start power and wealth-sharing negotiations.  Not having read the “Little Red Book” of Mao; they did not envisage a long drawn out conflict of the countryside against the towns of Darfur.

By February 2003; the two groups were prepared to act;  and in one night attacked and destroyed many of Sudan’s military planes based at El Fasher.  The Sudan military lost in one night more planes than it had in 20 years of war against the South.

The Evildoers on Horseback.

However; the central government’s ‘security elite’ — battle hardened from its fight against the South starting in 1982;  and knowing that the regular army was over-extended and tired of fighting— decided to use against the Darfur insurgents; techniques which had been used with some success against the South: to arm and to give free reign to militias and other irregular forces.

Thus; the government armed and directed existing armed groups in Darfur — popular defense forces and existing tribal militias.  The government also started putting together a fluid and shadowy group; now called the Janjaweed (“the evildoers on horseback”).  To the extent that the makeup of the Janjaweed is known; it seems to be a collection of bandits of Chadians; who had used Darfur as a safe haven for the long-lasting insurgencies in Chad;  some from Libya’s Islamic Forces; which had once been under the control of the Libyan government; but left wandering when Libyan policy changed.

The SLA or The JEM.

The Sudanese central government gave these groups guns, uniforms, equipment and indications where to attack; but no regular pay. Thus; these militias had to pay themselves by looting homes, crops, livestock, by taking slaves and raping women and girls.  Village after village was destroyed; on the pretext that some in the village supported either the SLA or the JEM; crops were burned, water wells filled with sand.  As many people as possible fled to Chad; or to areas thought safer within Darfur.

Darfur represents a classic case of how violence gets out of control; and goes beyond the aims for which it was first used.   There have been splits within both the SLA and the JEM; mostly on tribal lines, making negotiations all the more difficult.  Darfur is also a classic example that U.N. military forces do not create stable civil societies. There is yet much to be done; and there are very few positive signs of necessary action.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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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.