Tag: <span>Ukraine</span>

Protecting Cultural Heritage. Appeals

Protecting Cultural Heritage in Time of War.

Featured Image: World Heritage flag, Stortorget, Karlskrona. By Henrik Sendelbach, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

War and armed violence are highly destructive of the lives of persons, but also of works of art and elements of cultural heritage. The war in Ukraine has highlighted the destructive power of war in a dramatic way. Thus, this May 18, “International Museum Day”, we outline some of the ways in which UNESCO is working to protect the cultural heritage in Ukraine in time of war.

International Museum Day.

May 18 has been designated by UNESCO as the International Day of Museums to highlight the role that museums play in preserving beauty, culture, and history. Museums come in all sizes and are often related to institutions of learning and libraries. Increasingly, churches and centers of worship have taken on the character of museums as people visit them for their artistic value, even they do not share the faith of those who built them.

Knowledge and understanding of a people’s past can help current inhabitants to develop and sustain identity and to appreciate the value of their own culture and heritage. This knowledge and understanding enriches their lives. It enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully.

Graphic identity for International Museum Day 2020. By Justine Navarro, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

It is widely believed in Ukraine that one of the chief aims of the Russian armed intervention is to eliminate all traces of a separate Ukrainian culture, to highlight a common Russian motherland. In order to do this, there is a deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and a looting of museums, churches, and libraries in areas when under Russian military control. Museums, libraries, and churches elsewhere in Ukraine have been targeted by Russian artillery attacks.

After the Second World War, UNESCO had developed international conventions on the protection of cultural and educational bodies in times of conflict. The most important of these is the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Hague Convention has been signed by a large number of States including the USSR to which both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are bound.

UNESCO has designed a Blue Shield as a symbol of a protected site. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, has brought a number of these Blue Shields herself to Ukraine to highlight UNESCO’s vital efforts.

Audrey Azoulay, Director General, UNESCO at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London (2019).Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Roerich Peace Pact.

The 1954 Hague Convention builds on the efforts of the Roerich Peace Pact signed on April 15, 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. In addition to the Latin American States of the Pan American Union, the following States also signed: Kingdom of Albania, Kingdom of Belgium, Republic of China, Republic of Czechoslovakia, Republic of Greece, Irish Free State, Empire of Japan, Republic of Lithuania, Kingdom of Persia, Republic of Poland, Republic of Portugal, Republic of Spain, Confederation of Switzerland, Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

At the signing, Henry A. Wallace, then U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President, said:

“At no time has such an ideal been more needed. It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity. It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs. Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in addition the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in one fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith. Thus we build a world civilization which places that which is fine in humanity above that which is low, sordid and mean, that which is hateful and grabbing.”

We still have efforts to make so that what is fine in humanity is above what is hateful and grabbing. However, the road signs set out the direction clearly.

Globally-used UNESCO World Heritage logo. By UNESCO; Designer: Michel Olyff.Uploaded by Siyuwj, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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

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World Hunger Appeals

 U.N. Security Council Focus On World Hunger.

Featured Image: Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash.

On 23 May, the United Nations Security Council will hold a special briefing to address the issue of food insecurity under the chairmanship of Mr Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation. During May, the rotating chairmanship is held by Switzerland led by the Swiss Ambassador to the United Nations, New York  Ms Pascale Baereswyl.  The meeting will have as background a 3 May 2023 report of the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) concerning early warning on areas facing acute food insecurity.

Some 250 million persons are living in this situation of acute food insecurity.

The report highlights that some 250 million persons are living in this situation of acute food insecurity with the Democratic Republic of Congo leading the list with some 27 million persons due to armed violence and the breakdown of governmental structures.  The Congo is followed by Ethiopia, largely due to fighting in the Tigray area.  The war in Ukraine is also having a negative impact limiting production and export of food goods -a principal export of Ukraine.  In addition to armed conflict, there is the growing impact of the consequences of climate change.

European Union, African Union and United Nations system.

    Today, cooperation on food insecurity is needed among the U.N. family of agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and the millions of food producers to respond to this food crisis.  These measures will have to be taken in a wholistic way with actions going from the local level of the individual farmer, the national level with new governmental policies, to measures at the multi-State regional level such as the European Union and the African Union, and at the world level with better coordinated action through the United Nations system.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano escorts H.E. Mr. Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, during his departure at the Vienna International Centre. Vienna, Austria, 8 January 2018. By IAEA Imagebank, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Additional funding for the U.N. World Food Programme and the release of national food stocks.

    There is a need for swift, short-term meaures to help people now suffering from lack of food and malnutrition due to high food prices, inadequate distribution, and situations of violence.  Such short-tem action requires additional funding for the U.N. World Food Programme and the release of national food stocks.  However, it is on the longer-range and structural issues on which we must focus our attention.

The Association of World Citizens has taken a lead in the promotion of a coordinated world food policy with an emphasis on the small-scale farmer and a new awareness that humans are part of Nature with a special duty to care and respect  for the Earth’s inter-related life-support system.  As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World (1952):

“Since the hungry in the world community believe that we can all eat if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust that some some die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live.”

    Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

Stringfellow Barr. Joining the Human Race.

A central theme which Citizens of the World have long stressed is that there needs to be a world food policy and that such a world food policy is more than the sum of national food security programs.  John Boyd Orr, the first Director General of the FAO proposed a World Food Board to stabilize food prices and supplies.  He resigned as Director General when the food board proposal was not accepted and then devoted much of his energy to the ,world citizen movement.

   For World Citizens, the emphasis must be placed on creating a world food policy which draws upon improving local self-reliance while not creating nationalistic policies which harm neighbours.  Food is a key aspect of deep structural issues in the world society and thus must be seen in a wholeistic framework.  The briefing and debate of the U.N. Security Council may give us strong elements  on which to promote a world food policy.

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.   

John Boyd Orr: A World Citizen’s Focus on Food.

René 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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tensions among China Japan and U.S.A Appeals

When will we meet again?

Featured Image: Picture By Boris Ulzibat: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/arquitectura-china-la-gran-muralla-china-lugares-de-interes-3262994/

In an article “Tensions in the Asian Trinity: China, Japan, U.S.A.” I noted that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to visit Beijine for talks on 5-6 February 2023 and then set out some of the issues that might be discussed:

After five years of growing tensions among China Japan and the U.S.A., U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make an official visit to Beijing on 5-6 February 2023.

There is a long list of possible issues to discuss although the list of common actions may be much shorter.  Probably at the head of the list is the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its geopolitical and economic impact.  There follows the status of Taiwan.  Some have made a parallel between the Russian intervention in Ukraine  and a possible attack on Taiwan. Russian difficulties in Ukraine have no doubt been discussed in Beijing, and the parallel discarded. 

The role of North Korea and its military potential is a concern to China, to the U.S.A. and also Japan.  The economic ties of North Korea to China as well as relations between North and South Korea is as aspect of the same Korean issue.  The dramatic growth of Japanese government investment in the military and security sector, no doubt related to its view of Chinese power, will be an aspect of the China-U.S.A. talks. A full two days is ahead of the delegations.

Until there are better conditions.  The reason given for the “postponment”.

Now, as an illustration of the tensions, the mission of Antony Blinken has been put off “until there are better conditions.  The reason given for the “postponment” by the U.S. officials was that there was a Chinese observation balloon floating over U.S. air space in the Western states – a violation of U.S. sovereignty.  The U.S. government officials put the focus on the fact that the balloon could observe military installations.  The Chinese officials replied that the balloon was a weather observation instrument (and implied but did not say that the Chinese had other methods to observe U.S. military installations).

Antony Blinken

This is the official State Department photo for Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, taken at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 9, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ronny Przysucha/ Public Domain]. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Weather Balloon.

One does not know what is behind the sending of the “weather balloon” at this time, the weather observations could wait.  From the U.S. side, the postponment may come as a relief since there was likely to be little progress on the key political issues.

The need to advance U.S. – China dialogue remains.  As mentioned earlier, it may be up to non-governmental representatives to take the lead.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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International Humanitarian Law Appeals

Stronger Respect for International Humanitarian Law Needed: NGO Action…

Featured Image: Foto de Pavel Danilyuk: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/estatuilla-burocracia-ley-firma-8112193/

The carnage in the Ukraine conflict and the continued actions by ethnic militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo has highlighted the fact that the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are not bedside reading for many people, even those engaged in war.  There are too many warlords whose only claim to the charisma of leadership is the ruthlessness with which they wield the gun.

Geneva Convention.

Since the adoption of the first Geneva Convention in 1864, international humanitarian law has evolved in stages resulting from the evolution of methods of warfare and the changing nature of armed conflicts.  Since the adoption of the four Geneva Conventions for the protection of war victims in 1949, the nature of armed conflicts has changed considerably, especially by the increased number of armed conflicts within a State.  It is currently estimated that there are 120 ethnic militias active in the eastern area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  There are many cases  in the country  of cruel and degrading treatment of persons, enforced disappearances and arbitrary executions.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Image: Movement militiamen M23 and Type 85 heavy machine gun. By Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 &lt;https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons.

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

Men were killed and women divided among the victors.

I had participated in an International Committee of the Red Cross study group during the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970). The aim of the study group was to see if there were traditional African values and practices which could be relied upon for better treatment of war prisoners and civilians.  There were no such practices. Traditionally, men were killed and women divided among the victors.  The only exceptions were conflicts within a clan. In chronic conflicts, there were techniques of symbolic or material restitution and ceremonies of reconciliation. Thus our study group had recommended the need for clear universal standards which can be applied in all cultures and in all types of conflicts.

Soldiers have a tendency to shoot first and read later.

Nevertheless, there have always been problems of the application of international humanitarian law.  Soldiers have a tendency to shoot first and read later.  Many people do not know that international humanitarian law exists and that they are bound by its norms.  Thus, there is a need for greater dissemination  of information through education and training to create a climate conducive to the observation of internationally recognized norms.  Such educational and training activities can be usefully undertaken by non-governmental organizations – an urgent need.

International Humanitarian Law

 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.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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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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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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World Food Policy Appeals

War-related Famine: Action Needed.

In a 11 November 2022 presentation to the Paris Peace Forum, David Beasley, Director of the United Nations World Food Programme warned that there are real dangers of famine in countries currently in armed conflict or which have been in armed conflict in recent years such as Afghanistan.  He mentioned in particular Somalia where the conflicts have not received the media attention they deserved.  (1)

He also mentioned the situation in South Sudan, in Ethiopia, in the countries of the Sahel, and in Yemen.  In each of these countries, the agricultural infrastructure has been sharply damaged.  Infrastructure rebuilding, the creation of water wells, the redevelopment of livestock, the establishment of functioning markets would take a great deal of effort even if peace is restored.  These conflicts have led to migration, especially of men which has further weakened the agricultural potential.  In many of the African countries he mentioned, there is also the impact of climate change and a reduction of rainfall.  The war in Ukraine has also had a negative impact on food supplies and on food prices.

World Food Policy

Executive Director David Beasley meets women and men resorting degraded land in Burkina Faso. Photo: WFP/George Fominyen (January 2021).
By Editorstandard, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The current World Food Crisis.

There is a growing consensus that radical measures are needed to deal with the current world food crisis.  These measures will have to be taken in a holistic way with actions going from the local level with the individual farmer to the national level with new government policies, to the multi-State regional level, embodied by the European Union and the African Union, and to the world level with better coordinated efforts through the United Nations. In the past, food security has too often been treated as a collection of national food security initiatives.  While the adoption of a national strategy to ensure food and nutrition security for all is essential, a focus on the formulation of national plans is clearly inadequate.  There is a need for a world plan of action.

Ukraine

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash.

Lifting the Odessa Blockade.

The world requires a World Food Policy.

Today, cooperation is needed among the U.N. agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations, and the millions of food producers to respond to the growing food needs.  There is a need for swift, short-term measures to help people now suffering from lack of food and malnutrition due to high food prices, inadequate distribution, and situations of violence.  Such short-term action requires additional funding for the U.N. World Food Programme and the release of national food stocks.  However, it is on the longer-range and structural issues on which we must focus our attention.  The world requires a World Food Policy and a clear Plan of Action coupled with increasingly effective measures of armed conflict resolution through negotiations in good faith.

World Food Policy

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.

John Boyd Orr: A World Citizen’s Focus on Food.

The promotion of a coordinated World Food Policy.

The Association of World Citizens has taken a lead in the promotion of a coordinated world food policy with an emphasis on the small-scale farmer and a new awareness that humans are part of Nature with a special duty of care and respect for the Earth’s inter-related life-support system.  As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World:

“Since the hungry billion in the world community believe that we can all eat if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust that some die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live”.  (2)

In a Special Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council devoted to the food crisis, I outlined five areas that should be of special concern: the impact of climate change, energy costs, the use of ethanol and other biofuels, the food production and export policies of major agricultural-production countries, and the role of speculation in commodities.  (3)  These issues still require attention as we develop a World Food Policy.  Short-term and longer-range action is needed.

World Food Policy

Photo by Steve Knutson on Unsplash.

Michelle Jurkovich. Feeding the Hungry: Advocacy and Blame in the Global Fight Against Hunger.

Notes.

1) For a good overview of the many-sided conflicts in Somalia see Serah G. Phillips. When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland. (Ithaca. NY: Cornell University Press, 2020, 227pp.)
2) Stringfellow Barr. Citizens of the World. (Garden City. NY: Doubleday and Co, 1952, 285pp.)
3) Association of World Citizens Written Statement: A/HRC/S-7, NGO/2,  21 May 2008

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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

The Uprooted.

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

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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.

 
 

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