Tag: <span>Ukraine armed conflict</span>

Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific Appeals

Confidence-building Measures in Asia-Pacific: Reversing the Slide to Violence.

Featured Image: Photo by wu yi, Unsplash

With U.S. and Chinese military engaged near Taiwan, a miscalculation could lead to armed violence. The armed conflict in Ukraine has heightened the debate on the possibility of armed conflict between China and Taiwan.

Tensions between the two Korean states remain high. The border clash between Indian and Chinese forces in June 2020 has highlighted residual tensions between the two countries. One could add other tensions in the Asia-Pacific area to the list.

Less obvious are the possibilities of confidence-building measures that would reduce these tensions and might open doors to cooperation in the security, economic and social spheres.confidence-building.

Ukraine Conflict

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

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

Confidence-Building.

There are confidence-building measures that can be undertaken by governments. Where as we, outside of governmental positions, can make suggestions as to steps that governments could take, we nevertheless have little possibility to oblige action by them. Thus we have to consider what confidence-building measures we as academics and non-governmental organization activists can undertake.

Fortunately, we have long experience of working to reduce the tensions between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union (NATO and the Warsaw Pact) which led to the Helsinki Agreements and finally the end of the Cold War. Much of the analysis is still of value such as Mary Kaldor (Ed) Europe from Below (London: Verso: 1991). Many of the peace organizations that were involved are still in existence and could focus on Asia-Pacific issues.

There have also been efforts on confidence-building in the Israel-Palestine conflict and in the wider Middle East. Repeated efforts concerning tensions between India and Pakistan often focused on the tensions in Kashmir.

Mary Kaldor

Mary Kaldor, The World Transformed 2018 in Liverpool. By Kevin Walsh from Preston Brook, England, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Processes of Dialogue have a Value.

Today, there is a need to draw upon these experiences to impart conflict resolution skills to new individuals and groups, thereby building and expanding the constituencies working for conflict reduction measures. New participants can have backgrounds in psychology, religion, law and communications with experience in social movements and community action programs.

There is also a need to draw upon categories of people who were not directly involved in earlier efforts. Often women were marginalized not only in government negotiations but even in non-governmental efforts. These processes of dialogue have a value in deepening understanding of a situation.

However, the emphasis should be on developing proposals for confidence-building measures.

Need for concerted action to reduce the slide to violence.

Tensions in the Asia-Pacific area are growing, and there is a need for concerted action to reduce the slide to violence. As Don Carlson and Craig Comstock point out in their book, Citizen Summitry: Keeping the Peace when it matters too much to be left to politicians (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tacker, Inc. 1986):

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”

 

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Track Two Efforts Appeals

Ongoing Armed Conflicts and the Need for Stronger Track…

Featured Image: Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash.
 
The continuing armed conflict in Ukraine and the likelihood that the conflict will drag on through the winter, the 11th year of the armed conflict and repression in Syria, the renewal of armed conflict in the frontier area between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo forces us to ask if more can be done on the part of non-governmental organizations such as the Association of World Citizens to encourage negotiations in good faith among the parties in conflict. 
 
 
 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.

Upholding International Humanitarian Law in Times of Armed Conflict: A World Citizen Appeal.

Track One. Official governmental negotiations.

 
Lengthy armed conflicts severely weakens the social structure of a society.  A culture of violence is developed.  A sense of mistrust makes collaboration within that society more difficult to achieve.
     There have been efforts by the United Nations Secretariat and by individual governments to encourage ceasefires and negotiations in these conflicts, but in each case negotiations seem deadlocked.  It must be hoped that the U.N. and government efforts will continue.
     These governmental efforts can be called Track One. 
 
Track One diplomacy is official governmental negotiations.  Governments have their backup resources of intelligence agencies.   Governments can also use “back channels” of informal and unofficial contacts.
 
United Nations
 
Image: Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Unsplash.

The United Nations: The Shift in Perspectives and Action.

Track Two. Non-official effort.

 
     Track Two is a non-official effort, usually carried out by a non-governmental organization often in cooperation with an academic institution or at least with individuals working on conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
     No non-governmental organization has the resources of a government with people trained and funds available. 
Therefore, Track Two efforts must often be the work of a cooperative alliance among a number of non-governmental organizations, often using people of different nationalities or cultures but motivated by the same desire of finding ways to the resolution of the armed conflict.
     Preparing for Track Two efforts is an important task.  Leadership rarely arises spontaneously.  There is a need for preparation and training.  However, there is also a need for continuity.  There are rarely sudden victories in Track Two efforts.  One must be ready to try again the next day.
     Often Track Two efforts are undertaken in tension areas that have a possibility to become violent but that are not yet in open armed conflict such as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians or between North and South Koreans.  (1)
 
Israelis and Palestinians
 
Picture: Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jerusalem-Gaza Cease-fire: Broad Negociations Are Now Needed.

 

Track Two efforts are becoming increasingly important in world politics.

 
More and more armed conflicts exist between a government and one or more armed movements as we see in Yemen, with the ethnic minorities in Myanmar, with the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Governments are often reluctant to negotiate with armed groups fearing to give them legitimacy or fearing to encourage action by other such armed movements.  Yet peace negotiations require discussion with such armed groups.  We must not underestimate the difficulties of establishing contact with armed groups and bringing them to a willingness to negotiate.  Thus, the need for a deep understanding of how Track Two proceses can be carried out.  (2)
     It is likely that non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the United Nations are the best placed to undertake Track Two efforts.  (3)
     Track Two efforts must also keep doors open to government representatives, and government representatives must have confidence in those working on a Track Two program. 
 
As the Quaker economist and peace worker Kenneth Boulding wrote:
   

 “When Track One will not do,

      We have to travel on Track Two.

      But for results to be abiding,

      The Tracks must meet upon some siding.”

                             
Democratic Republic of Congo
Image: Movement militiamen M23 and Type 85 heavy machine gun. By Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Increasing Tensions and Danger of Violence.

Notes.

 
1) See Hussein Agha, Shai Feldman, Ahmad Khalidi, Zeev Schiff.  Track II Diplomacy: Lessons from the Middle East (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).
2) See John Davies and Eddy Kaufman. Second Track/Citizen’s Diplomacy: Concepts and Techniques in Conflict  (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002).
     W.E. De Mars.  NGOs and Transnational Networks (London: Pluto Press, 2005).
3) See P. Willets (Ed). The Conscience of the World. The Influence of NGOs in the UN System  (London: Hurst, 1996)
   Rene Wadlow

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The Uprooted.

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Rape Appeals

U.N. Highlights Rape as a War Weapon in Ukraine.

Image Featured: Photo by Melanie Wasser,  Unsplash 

Pramila Patten, the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on sexual violence in times of conflict reported mid-October 2022 that rape is increasingly used in the armed conflict in Ukraine as a weapon to humiliate and discourage the populations.  Therefore, there had been an earlier 27 September report to the High Commissioner for Human Rights setting out many of the same facts and calling for international action.

Patterns of systematic rape become part of International Humanitarian Law.

In the past, sexual violence had often been dismissed as acts of individual soldiers, rape being one of the spoils of war for whom rape of women was an entitlement.  However, with the 2001 trials of war crimes in former Yugoslavia by the International  Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia, the first convictions of rape as a crime against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war were handed down against Bosnian Serb soldiers.  Bosnian Serb fighters were charged with mass rape and forced prostitution involving dozens of Muslim women and girls some only 12 years old.  The case had taken five years of investigations and more than 30 witnesses for the prosecution.  The three soldiers being tried were given a sentence of 12 years imprisonment.

Since then, we have seen patterns of systematic rape become part of International Humanitarian Law, and since 2002 one of the crimes that can be prosecuted within the International Criminal Court.  (1)

Pramila Patten
Pramila Patten. Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Film Festival: Fighting Stigma Through Film in London, 23 November 2018. By Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rape as a war weapon.

There have been reports of systematic rape in Ukraine since 2014 with the creation of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Louhansk by both Ukrainian and separatist soldiers.  However, little international attention was given to these reports.  It is only with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on 24 February 2022 that international attention has focused on reports of rape especially in areas that were for a time under the control of the Russian military or the militias of the two People’s Republics. (2)

Unfortunately, it would seem that the armed conflict in Ukraine will drag on.  There are few signs of a willingness for a negotiated settlement.  International Humanitarian Law moves slowly.  Rape as a war weapon is used in other armed conflicts, such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Sudan, and Syria. Strong non-governmental pressure is needed to keep governmental and United Nations efforts going.

People's Republics of Donetsk and Louhansk
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.

Vital Autonomy for the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Luhansk. The Way Ahead.

 

Notes:

1) For a good overview of both specific armed conflicts and the slow but steady international response see Carol Rittner and John K. Roth (Eds) “Rape: Weapon of War and Genocide” (St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 2012)
2) See Amnesty International “Ukraine 2021”     www. amnesty.org Secretaru General’s Report, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.   www.osce.org

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

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Uyghurs Appeals

U.N. Human Rights Report: Spotlight on the Fate of…

Featured Image:  Khotan (Hotan / Hetian) is an oasis city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. Uyghur people at sunday market. By Colegota, CC BY-SA 2.5 ES <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/es/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.

On the final day in office, 31 August 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented the long-awaited report on the violations of the human rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim populations of the province of Xinjiang.  The 46-page Report highlights massive detention in camps, torture, sexual violence against women, restriction of religious practices, forced sterilization of women and separation of families.  Many of the facts in the U.N. Report had already been set out by non-governmental human rights organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and in newspaper reports.

The Office of the high Commissioner for Human Rights had been collecting information on the situation since 2018 when Michelle Bachelet became High Commissioner.

Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet (2018). By Ministerio Secretaría General de Gobierno, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Influence on NGO positions. 

The possible strong impact of the Report will depend in large measure on what pressure NGOs will be able to develop on the Chinese authorities.  Chinese government influence within the U.N. Secretariat has been growing.  Chinese diplomatic pressure on government diplomats within the U.N., always active, has also been growing in part linked to trade and debt consideration.  While Chinese diplomats watch the representatives of NGOs closely during meetings of the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. human rights bodies, the Chinese diplomats have little influence on NGO positions. 

“Re-Education”.

NGOs have developed close links with scholars working on Chinese policies and with a number of research institutes and “think tanks”.  Some of the same NGOs representatives, such as those of the Association of  World Citizens, had earlier been involved with the human rights of Tibetans, often facing the same type of repression and efforts at “re-education”.  The Chinese diplomats at the U.N. have grown in sophistication and must not be underestimated.

However, with the U.N. Report in hand, objective and based on a wide range of observations and interviews, NGOs have a clear avenue for action.  Although the armed conflict in Ukraine and tensions concerning Taiwan draw attention of  governments and NGOs, the Uyghur issues are a test for NGO effectiveness and should be watched closely.

Tibetans

Sakya Monastery, Tibet. Sakya Monastery was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo and is situated about 130 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet?.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

The Uprooted.

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

1 2 12