Guatemala: Two key elements to overcome the crisis


Excerpts from a document by Bernardo Arévalo in Nomada (translation by CPNN)

A peace agreement was signed, but nothing changed

The empty shell that is the Guatemalan State and its lack of agency for peace, has meant that our country lacks a comprehensive political strategy for reconciliation. Therefore it is necessary to navigate the ambiguities, complications and paradoxes generated by the unsatisfactory transactions that may be found in any negotiating process.


The recommendations of the Commission of Historical Clarification (CEH) [in 1999] would have been a good starting point. It was based on a social process for justice, memory, reparation and non-repetition that could facilitate a social dialogue on the interpretation of history. It provided hope for reconciliation, a new imaginary of coexistence and unity. However, within five years after its presentation, it had become clear that the political will necessary for such an effort did not exist.

The United Nations verification report of 2005 urged the political authorities and state institutions to “… sincerely commit themselves to comply with the recommendations of the CEH and with the commitments contained in the Peace Agreements that are still pending. . ” It was a diplomatic way of declaring that the necesssary sincerity was absent. . . It was acknowledged that
“… despite all the efforts made over the last few years to build a culture of peace, the culture of violence continues to be part of daily life” . . .

The document [of 2005], conceived as a strategy to return the spirit of the Peace Accords and its objectives a decade after its signing, included a long list of concrete actions and mechanisms to address issues ranging from the construction of participatory citizenship, strengthening of the rights of women and indigenous peoples and the use of the educational system to promote knowledge and understanding of the armed conflict and its consequences. It was an operational strategy that simultaneously addressed the past and intended to transform the future.

Without well-defined political actions, there is no reconciliation

But, nevertheless, the result was again disappointing. The Secretariat of Peace was allowed only a marginal role in successive government cabinets, which showed, despite the rhetoric, the low priority assigned to the implementation of the Agreements. The ambitious reparations program, although well designed, did not produce clear results due to quarrels between civil society groups and recurrent personnel changes with each new government. . . .

In fact, twenty years after the signing of the Peace Accords, Guatemalan society had not yet been reconciled. In 2015, the country arrived at a crisis of accumulated political and social tensions: government policies -or their absence- were destroying the few advances in social development indicators that had been registered after the agreements were signed. . . .

From an absent state to a participatory state of corruption

The judicial processes for corruption opened by the Public Ministry [following The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala – CICIG – in 2015], against the corruption networks that involved politicians and entrepreneurs of all levels marked a new stage: the State was no longer simply responsible for omission, but now for commission as well (i.e. corruption).

After the trial of the then President Otto Pérez Molina, the then Vice-President Roxana Baldetti and a good number of officials of his government, Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre assumed the Presidency of the Republic in an interim management marked by two minimum objectives: to allow the electoral elections that were already programmed, and to maintain the functioning of the administration while a new popularly elected president assumed office.

The elections, marked by the political crisis and the fight against impunity and corruption, were characterized by a strong rejection of traditional political parties. The political order established after 1996 was overtaken by a citizen spirit of repudiation of the “traditional politicians” that, together with a judicial dynamic that began to reveal its corrupt compromises, paved the way to victory for a newly created, unknown political party, and the election to the presidency of an improbable candidate whose only merit was his political anonymity, and his only virtue (self-proclaimed) was not to be “… neither corrupt nor thief”.

The new presidential term began with a new president duly elected as a results of the wave of anti-corruption and anti-impunity social protest. The preceding political class, largely corrupt, was rejected by an active citizenship. A judicial system was emerging; despite its limitations and deficiencies, it finally began to show signs of being able to function properly in a democratic state of law. The fight against corruption and impunity seemed to become a new space of convergence within society: a new ‘moral consensus’ beyond ideological, social and cultural positions, emerging as a vector for a conciliation / reconciliation hitherto elusive .

Like the crab: back to authoritarianism

Unfortunately, events moved in the opposite direction. A blanket of impunity covered the structures, modalities and arrangements of widespread corruption that had involved actors in the different spheres of society and that it had been ‘normalized’ by decades of customary practice.

Instead of applauding the punishment of the corrupt and shameless political class during the days of 2015, business actors who had been its partners began to consider the judicial zeal to be excessive, when it began to reveal their own involvement in corruption.

Within the Executive, the situation was no better. At first, President Jimmy Morales had seemed to support collaboration between the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the CICIG [the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala]. However, he explicitly refused to investigate the involvement of his brother and son in an operation which was not large in scope, but which received enormous media coverage. This was a costly political blow to the President, and it was badly handled by his advisors.

A civic coalition emerged around the anti-corruption effort but many
political and business actors migrated towards the constitution of what public opinion has called a “Pact of Corruption.” This included those actors who refused assume the consequences of past acts and others determined to use corruption as a mechanism of cooptation and capture of the State.

This perverse coalition poses new obstacles to the emergence of the ‘moral consensus’ necessary to develop peaceful coexistence in the society. And even worse, it intentionally and maliciously fosters social and political polarization. It attempts to overturn the struggle against impunity by claiming that the CICIG is an instrument of obscure ‘international interests’, that seek to undermine national sovereignty. . .

Political authorities in the Executive and Legislative bodies have taken up the ‘anti-CICIG’ struggle and its polarizing narrative, deploying a campaign aimed at expelling, or blocking the Commission’s capacity for action and resorting to to arbitrary actions that often border on illegality.

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(Click here for the Spanish version of this article)

Question related to this article:

Can a culture of peace be achieved in guatemala?

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In parallel, they have begun to implement authoritarian actions, claiming that they are needed to restore imaginary threats to national security. They are dismantling the institutional transformations that, within the framework of Democratic Security conceptions, had been taking place in the country prior to the signing of the Peace Accords. . .

In sum, Guatemalan society has not find its way to peaceful co-existence and reconciliation due to the absence of a State that assumes the responsibility to mediate between the different needs, interests and perceptions that are inherent in every society The absence of a State that facilitates the emergence of a shared and inclusive vision that cements peaceful coexistence and allows the permanent closure of the cycles of violence and coercion that have characterized our history. For two decades, this situation was explained by the combination of disinterest and inability of the political elites. Today, the highest authorities are actively defending impunity and corruption. Reconciliation, previously an elusive aspiration, has become a goal that is moving further away.

There is light at the end of the tunnel: leadership networks and State rescue

In these conditions, restoring peaceful coexistence to Guatemalan society will require strengthening the social agency for reconciliation, through the establishment of cross-sectoral “coalitions” that cut across the divisions among the various social groups and sectors and between the political system and the society, integrating them into networks capable of building consensus and mobilizing the system into effective transforming action.

These abilities that are not totally alien to us. Despite their insufficiencies and limitations, the transformations within the framework of the processes of democratization and peace of the last three decades have allowed the emergence of new social leaderships.

Facing the incompetence of the political system and state institutions, these initiatives of civil society have spurred state action leading to advances in security, in health, in the rights of women, in community development, etc.

This explains how, in the absence of a capable and determined state, we Guatemalans have managed to avoid, even in the context of a crisis of profound governability such as the Black Thursday in 2003 and the civic protest days of 2015, the recourse to violence that would have restored the cycles of repressive violence / vindictive violence that have been recurrent in our history.

But the capacities we have achieved to advance despite the weaknesses and contradictions of the “absent state” are insufficient to confront the “dissociative state”.

The ability to prevent the political and social deterioration that arises today from the cooptation of the State by the ‘Pact of Corrupts’ requires two developments.

The first is the development of leaders with the capacity to build bridges across social, cultural and political divisions and to unify efforts in the pursuit of shared objectives. This leadership must be able to of transcend the dissociative discourse and the artificial polarization that has been created around the fight against impunity and corruption, and the dynamics of fragmentation and distrust that have divided civil society, limiting their capacity for joint action.

We need leaders capable of cooperatively undertaking the construction of a truly shared agenda for change, . . . . the construction of an authentic “social contract”, which goes beyond institutional and legalistic formalities to forge, participatively and inclusively, the great social consensus necessary to build the construction of a nation of justice and solidarity.

The second is the political rescue of the State by these new leaders, through democratic mechanisms and strategies that are viable within the framework of the rule of law.

A rescue that:

– can expel corrupt and criminal networks from the spaces of political control over state institutions,

– can prevent the dismantling of the incipient advances that the country has made in terms of democratization in the last thirty years.

– can transcend the weaknesses and incapacities that marked the will of the political class that assumed the leadership of the State in the framework of the peace process,

– can encourage the emergence of a new political class that allows the State to become the effective manager of well-being and coexistence in society, and that synergizes the efforts of different social and political sectors to promote the establishment of conditions for peaceful coexistence.

Infrastructure power: collaborative relationships between society and authorities

The state that we need does not correspond to the rational-bureaucratic machinery of the Western liberal paradigm of Weberian roots, and certainly not of a State that rests on the capacity to use resources of force to impose the will of those who control it. It is a State that operates fundamentally from what Michael Mann has called “infrastructural power”: the ability to foster and take advantage of the development of collaborative relationships within society and between society and political authorities, as an instrument for the effective fulfillment of its functions.

We need a State conceived as

– the convergence between political and social leadership that works in concert towards common goals,

– that integrates them through an institutional framework, developed and legitimated collectively,

– that takes advantage of the agency capacity of the different social actors -groups, individuals, communities, sectors- coordinating them for common benefit

– a State whose strength does not depend on its ability to act out of society, but on acting with society.

[As of today], reconciliation, as a national process, can not depend exclusively on the political and material resources of the State when its highest political authorities are part of the Pact of Corruption.

Without the will and agency capacity of civil society and communities, the State is not in a position to generate the conditions that make peaceful coexistence viable.

In this sense, a social leadership for reconciliation is a sine-qua-non condition for the effective transformation of horizontal and vertical trust relationships in society.

[In the long run,] however, only the State is in a position to generate the normative and institutional capacities necessary to mediate among the multiple contradictory forces of the different sectors of society and to promote an inclusive society with the preconditions of peace: equality, justice, respect, dignity and a genuine democracy functioning within the rule of law.

The rescue of the State by a political leadership that is capable and democratic is therefore the most important task if we are to create a society of reconciliation in which the different social, political and cultural interests are no longer an obstacle to harmonious coexistence.

Note: This text is part of the document “From the post-conflict to the restoration of authoritariansm: the difficult road towards coexistece in Guatemala”, written by Bernardo Arévalo for FLACSO.

Ethiopia: Mystery behind the Peace Accord


An article by Neamin Ashenafi in The Reporter

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), who assumed the premiership months ago, extended his invitation to all exiled political groups to come back home and conduct their struggle through peaceful means. Hence, following the invitation, many political groups and forces started returning home.

Eventually, political groups and forces, which were labeled as terrorist organizations by the Ethiopian government such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), and Patriotic Ginbot 7, all came back home.

In an effort to reinforce the move, the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) unanimously voted on a motion to rescind the designation of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), and Patriotic Ginbot 7 from its terrorists list. The political groups were labeled as ‘terrorist’ groups back in 2010 in line with the much controversial bill dubbed ‘the Anti-terrorism Proclamation (Proc. 652/2009), which is currently under revision.

Following the invitation, the OLF on July 12, 2018 stated: “We believe that the recent meeting of a high-level delegation of the Oromo Liberation Front led by its chairman with the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), is one step forward towards resolving the existing political problem.”

Taking the seriousness of this affair into consideration the OLF declared a unilateral ceasefire in order to accelerate the initiated peace talks to a successful conclusion.

“We hope this temporary declaration of ceasefire will take us to the final declaration of bilateral cessation of hostilities once for all and the conclusion of the conflict,” the Front stated.

In that regard, the Oromo Liberation Front instructed the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which has been operating all over Oromia, to implement the temporary declaration of the ceasefire.

The agreement reached with the OLF was much publicized and a delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Workneh Gebeyhu (PhD) and President of the Oromia Regional State, Lemma Megerssa, traveled to Asmara, Eritrea to sign a peace agreement with the OLF, which aimed at ending the hostilities between the two.

Lemma and Chairman of the OLF, Dawd Ibsa, inked the peace agreement on August 7, 2018, in Asmara.

Subsequently, the top leaders of the OLF traveled to back home and were welcomed by thousands of their supporters at a rally that was held at Meskel Square. The then Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister, Fitsum Arega, tweeted a message that read in part: “We welcome warmly the leadership and members of the OLF to Ethiopia. A peaceful contest of ideas will move us from a culture of conflict into a culture of peace.”

This marked an important milestone in the long political turmoil that shook the nation and the leadership of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to its core. The peace agreement between the two was considered by many as the beginning of an all inclusive peaceful political struggle in the country. However, to the contrary, the return of the OLF was marred by clash between its supporters and residents of Addis Ababa, which caused the death of many and the destruction of private and public properties around the capital. 

The clash in the city and other problems led political commentators and ordinary citizens alike to inquire about the contents of the agreement that the Ethiopian government signed with the OLF. However, the content of the agreement as not been made public and is still an enigma.

Adding insult to injury, the government and the OLF started some verbal volleys over the matter of disarming the soldiers of the latter which also costs the lives of so many innocent civilians and the destruction of private and public properties throughout the country mainly in the Oromia Regional State.

And hence the leaders in the region and at the federal level and the leaders of OLF started to blame each other for the breach of agreement. Be that as it may, many still keep on asking about the detailed contents of the agreement.

While the verbal volley transformed into the clashes and confrontations, leaders of the OLF, in early October 2018, said that the OLF does not have a specific agreement with the government Ethiopia that requires it to disarm.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

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However, in a statement that sounds like a response for the statement issued by the OLF, the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) blamed the OLF for failing to implement the peace plan both parties had agreed upon, including the disarmament of the OLF.

Amid such tensions between the two, the OLF complained that the government, particularly the military, is behaving and acting in a way that violates the points in the agreements, and it would not be responsible for any possible outcomes, which may emanate from such actions.

At this stage many political commentators also started to ask the genuineness of the blames because, on the one side, the OLF has said that the agreement does not include disarmament and, on the other hand, it said that the OLF does not have any specific agreement with the Government of Ethiopia.

The verbal altercations eventually transformed into minor skirmishes and it was reported that armed groups linked to the OLF clashed with the military and in some instances such in Western Wollega the army wing of OLF blocked roads and took control of some government offices.

Such intensified clashes again led to another round of talks between the two sides so as to give a lasting solution to the problem. However, this time around, the negotiation was called by the Abba Gadaas, Hade Sinqe and prominent individuals from the region. This round of talks seems to have been fruitful as the two sides again signed a peace agreement in the presence of elders from the region, Abba Gadaas, and Hade Sinqe. Following the agreement, both sides confirmed their commitment to bring peace, stability and order.

Unlike the previous agreements, the recent one was agreed in the presence of a third party, which, according to many, might give negotiators a chance to review the development and implementation of the agreement.

In this regard, former President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and a former executive committee member of the erstwhile Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), Negasso Gidada (PhD) said: “To solve the problem between the two a committee which comprises some 71 individuals has been established and this is a great move to address the problems between the two. The committee will follow the developments and will contain problems and differences before they escalated to clashes.”

On the flip side, Wasihun Tesfaye, Head of Research Department of the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) considers the role of the committee or the elders as fragile. “Unlike other rounds of agreements it is good that the recent agreement between the two is being conducted with the involvement of elders in the region. However, I don’t believe that the elders have the tools and powers to enforce the agreements.”

“The recent agreement is based on consensus and the leaders in the region – by using their position within the society – will try to bridge the gap between the two and bring them to the table to sign the agreement. Nonetheless, what are they going to do if one party breaches the agreement? Do they have any detailed and well-articulated mechanism to force the parties to comply with their words?” Wasihun asks.

On the contrary, for Mulatu Gemechu, Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), the presence of a third party especially the Abba Gadaas and Hade Sinqes give the agreement more sense and reason to be implemented. According to him the clashes and confrontations reached to this level because the agreements were not attended by a third party. However, now, the Abba Gadaas and Hade Sinqes have played a pivotal role in bringing the two sides together and its up to them to monitor and pinch the one who breaches the agreement.

Similarly Negasso stated: “The committee will play its role in monitoring and implementing the agreements. The Abba Gadaas, Hade Sinqes and the general Oromo public are all part of this agreement; therefore, these groups will guarantee that there will not be another round of clashes between the two.”

On the contrary, Wasihun is skeptical about the implementation of the recent agreement and blames the federal government for its double standard treatment. “The Ethiopian people have been told that all exiled political forces that entered the country did so to pursue peaceful and unarmed struggle for justice and democracy inside the country. However, it is not clear how and why the OLF has managed to stay armed and then complain against federal government troops movements,” Wasihun says.

According to Wasihun, the federal government has the sole authority for carrying arms under the constitution. “If, indeed, the current government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is turning a blind to this development, it is creating a dangerous precedent where other parties will also want to arm themselves, leading the country into further lawlessness and anarchy,” he says, criticizing the federal government for being too lenient on the OLF.

Whether the federal government is too soft or not, the question that needs to be answered, according to many political commentators, is, what are the contents of the agreement that was signed between the two sides in Asmara and how long they will it stay undisclosed?

French Organizations Commemorate the Rejection of Nuclear Weapons by the UN in 1946


Press Release January 24, 2019

On 24 January 1946, the very first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly called for the elimination of atomic weapons. Despite this historic decision, the nucleararmed States still continue to ignore this call and, on the contrary, are embarking on a new nuclear arms race.

Since the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1970, the United Nations initiatives for nuclear disarmament have multiplied, until the adoption by 122 countries on 7 July 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In spite of these numerous resolutions and the commitment to nuclear disarmament by the NPT Nuclear-Weapon States enshrined in Article VI of the NPT, those states still reject the horizon of a world without nuclear weapons.

While the world stockpiles of nuclear weapons remain staggering, nuclear-armed states are developing new, more sophisticated and usable nuclear weapons that increase the risk of destruction of humanity caused intentionally (by nuclear war) or unintentionally (by human or technological error).

The threat of such destruction is now ranked among the highest for our planet.

In France, the absence of any objective debate on nuclear weapons suggests to public opinion that they would be an absolute guarantee of security. On the occasion of this anniversary of the first United Nations resolution, our leaders must become aware of the urgency of this situation and put an end to this absurd and suicidal nuclear arms race by finally committing to the path of general, progressive and controlled nuclear disarmament.

(Click here for the French version of this article.)

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

(Continued from left column)

Let us remember the statement by Theodore Monod, French scientist and humanist in 1999: “Nuclear weapon is the accepted end of humanity”.

Signatory organizations

AFCDRP – French Association of Local Governments for Peace

AMFPGN – French Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

GRIP – Research and Information Group on Peace and Security

IDN – Initiatives for Nuclear Disarmament

Mouvement de la Paix

Pax Christi France

Pugwash France

2019 Doomsday Clock Statement


Press release by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats—nuclear weapons and climate change—were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger.

Video of announcement

In the nuclear realm, the United States abandoned the Iran nuclear deal and announced it would withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), grave steps towards a complete dismantlement of the global arms control process. Although the United States and North Korea moved away from the bellicose rhetoric of 2017, the urgent North Korean nuclear dilemma remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the world’s nuclear nations proceeded with programs of “nuclear modernization” that are all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race, and the military doctrines of Russia and the United States have increasingly eroded the long-held taboo against the use of nuclear weapons.

On the climate change front, global carbon dioxide emissions—which seemed to plateau earlier this decade—resumed an upward climb in 2017 and 2018. To halt the worst effects of climate change, the countries of the world must cut net worldwide carbon dioxide emissions to zero by well before the end of the century. By such a measure, the world community failed dismally last year. At the same time, the main global accord on addressing climate change—the 2015 Paris agreement—has become increasingly beleaguered.The United States announced it will withdraw from that pact, and at the December climate summit in Poland, the United States allied itself with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait (all major petroleum-producing countries) to undercut an expert report on climate change impacts that the Paris climate conference had itself commissioned.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Amid these unfortunate nuclear and climate developments, there was a rise during the last year in the intentional corruption of the information ecosystem on which modern civilization depends. In many forums, including particularly social media, nationalist leaders and their surrogates lied shamelessly, insisting that their lies were truth, and the truth “fake news.” These intentional attempts to distort reality exaggerate social divisions, undermine trust in science, and diminish confidence in elections and democratic institutions. Because these distortions attack the rational discourse required for solving the complex problems facing humanity, cyber-enabled information warfare aggravates other major global dangers—including those posed by nuclear weapons and climate change—as it undermines civilization generally.

There is nothing normal about the complex and frightening reality just described.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board today sets the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight—the closest it has ever been to apocalypse. Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world. The current international security situation—what we call the “new abnormal”—has extended over two years now. It’s a state as worrisome as the most dangerous times of the Cold War, a state that features an unpredictable and shifting landscape of simmering disputes that multiply the chances for major military conflict to erupt.

This new abnormal is simply too volatile and dangerous to accept as a continuing state of world affairs.

Dire as the present may seem, there is nothing hopeless or predestined about the future. The Bulletin resolutely believes that human beings can manage the dangers posed by the technology that humans create. Indeed, in the 1990s, leaders in the United States and the Soviet Union took bold action that made nuclear war markedly less likely—and that led the Bulletin to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock far from midnight.

But threats must be acknowledged before they can be effectively confronted. The current situation—in which intersecting nuclear, climate, and information warfare threats all go insufficiently recognized and addressed, when they are not simply ignored or denied—is unsustainable. The longer world leaders and citizens carelessly inhabit this new and abnormal reality, the more likely the world is to experience catastrophe of historic proportions.

Ethiopian President Calls to Work for Peace and Security


An article from Prensa Latina

December 24: The president of Ethiopia, Sahlework Zewde, called to work for unity, peace, and stability that the country needs today to guarantee security and welfare of all citizens.

We must work together so that each person is protected by laws, and can exercise their rights and perform their duties because those are fundamental bases for democracy and the development of our nation, she said.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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We have several problems related to this and we must solve them soon, she emphasized in a meeting with Mother Ambassadors for Peace, a group composed of representatives of nine regional states and two municipal administrations.

According to Fana Broadcasting Corporate, Zewde said that the population has an unlimited desire to live in a peaceful situation, ‘and the people itself, with our cooperation, must work for the defense of peace, as the Ambassadors preach.’ 

Also, I praise this group that during the last 30 days toured the country with the aim of detecting deficiencies and propose actions to solve them.

Women have the ability to solve critical problems, and they would play an important role in resolving conflicts and bringing peace and security, she assured.

Special Train Departs for Railway Groundbreaking Ceremony in N. Korea


An article from KBS World Radio

A special train carrying about 100 South Koreans has left for North Korea for a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for a project aimed at modernizing and connecting roads and railways across the border.

Photo YONHAP News

The train carrying nine cars departed Seoul Station at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday [December 26] for the ceremony set for 10 a.m. at Panmun Station in the North’s border town Gaeseong. 

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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The South Korean delegation includes Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee, ruling Democratic Party of Korea Chairman Lee Hae-chan and floor leaders of ruling and opposition parties.

The North’s delegation will be led by Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country. He will be joined by high-ranking North Korean officials including Kim Yun-hyok, the railway minister.

The 50-minute ceremony will feature events in which officials of the two Koreas will sign a sleeper, connect railroad tracks and unveil a road sign.

The South Korean delegation will return on Wednesday afternoon after a lunch at a lodging facility in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.

Global arms industry: US companies dominate the Top 100; Russian arms industry moves to second place


A press release by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Sales of arms and military services by the world’s largest arms-producing and military services companies—the SIPRI Top 100—totalled $398.2 billion in 2017, according to new international arms industry data released today [December 10] by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The total for the SIPRI Top 100 in 2017 is 2.5 per cent higher than in 2016 and represents an increase of 44 per cent since 2002 (the first year for which comparable data is available; figures exclude China). This is the third consecutive year of growth in Top 100 arms sales.
US companies increase their share of total Top 100 arms sales 

With 42 companies listed in 2017, companies based in the United States continued to dominate the Top 100 in 2017. Taken together, the arms sales of US companies grew by 2.0 per cent in 2017, to $226.6 billion, which accounted for 57 per cent of total Top 100 arms sales. Five US companies were listed in the top 10 in 2017. ‘US companies directly benefit from the US Department of Defense’s ongoing demand for weapons,’ says Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Lockheed Martin remained the world’s largest arms producer in 2017, with arms sales of $44.9 billion. ‘The gap between Lockheed Martin and Boeing—the two largest arms producers in the world—increased from $11 billion in 2016 to $18 billion in 2017,’ says Fleurant.
Russia becomes the second largest arms producer in the Top 100

The combined arms sales of Russian companies accounted for 9.5 per cent of the Top 100 total, making Russia the second largest arms producer in the Top 100 in 2017—a position that had been occupied by the United Kingdom since 2002. Taken together, the arms sales of the 10 Russian companies listed in the Top 100 increased by 8.5 per cent in 2017, to $37.7 billion. ‘Russian companies have experienced significant growth in their arms sales since 2011,’ says Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘This is in line with Russia’s increased spending on arms procurement to modernize its armed forces.’

In 2017 a Russian company appeared in the top 10 for the first time since SIPRI started publishing its annual Top 100 list. ‘Almaz-Antey, which was already Russia’s largest arms-producing company, increased its arms sales by 17 per cent in 2017, to $8.6 billion,’ says Alexandra Kuimova, Research Assistant with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

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(Click here for a version of this article in French or here for a version in Spanish.)

Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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In 2017 a Russian company appeared in the top 10 for the first time since SIPRI started publishing its annual Top 100 list. ‘Almaz-Antey, which was already Russia’s largest arms-producing company, increased its arms sales by 17 per cent in 2017, to $8.6 billion,’ says Alexandra Kuimova, Research Assistant with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Along with Almaz-Antey, three other Russian companies in the Top 100 increased their arms sales by more than 15 per cent: United Engine Corporation (25 per cent), High Precision Systems (22 per cent) and Tactical Missiles Corporation (19 per cent).
The UK remains the largest arms producer in Western Europe
The combined arms sales of the 24 companies in Western Europe listed in the Top 100 increased by 3.8 per cent in 2017, to $94.9 billion, which accounted for 23.8 per cent of the Top 100 total. The UK remained the largest arms producer in the region in 2017, with total arms sales of $35.7 billion and seven companies listed in the Top 100. ‘The combined arms sales of British companies were 2.3 per cent higher than in 2016,’ says Fleurant. ‘This was largely due to increases in the arms sales of BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and GKN.’

BAE Systems, which is ranked fourth in the Top 100, is the UK’s biggest arms producer. Its arms sales rose by 3.3 per cent in 2017, to $22.9 billion.
Other notable developments

* The arms sales of Turkish companies rose by 24 per cent in 2017. ‘This significant increase reflects Turkey’s ambitions to develop its arms industry to fulfil its growing demand for weapons and become less dependent on foreign suppliers,’ says Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

* Taken together, the arms sales of the four Indian companies ranked in the Top 100 totalled $7.5 billion in 2017, representing a 1.9 per cent share of Top 100 arms sales.

* Sales of the top 15 manufacturing companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 totalled $2311 billion in 2017. This is almost 10 times greater than the total arms sales of the top 15 arms producers ($231.6 billion) in 2017, and almost six times greater than the total combined arms sales of the Top 100 ($398.2 billion).
The SIPRI Arms Industry Database

The SIPRI Arms Industry Database was created in 1989. At that time it excluded data for companies in countries in Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union. However, the current version contains data from 2002, including data for companies in Russia. Chinese companies are not included in the database due to the lack of available data on which to make a reasonable or consistent estimate of arms sales dating back to 2002.

‘Arms sales’ are defined as sales of military goods and services to military customers domestically and abroad. Unless otherwise specified, all changes are expressed in real terms. All changes between 2016 and 2017 are based on the list of companies ranked in 2017 (i.e. the annual comparison is between the same set of companies).

The SIPRI Arms Industry Database, which presents a more detailed data set for the years 2002–17, is available on the SIPRI website.
This is the first of three major data launches in the lead-up to the publication of the 2019 edition of the SIPRI Yearbook. In the first half of 2019, SIPRI will release its international arms transfers data (details of all international transfers of major weapons in 2018) as well as its world military expenditure data (comprehensive information on global, regional and national trends in military spending). All data will feature in SIPRI Yearbook 2019, SIPRI’s flagship publication, which will be published in mid-2019.

March For Our Lives wins International Children’s Peace Prize 2018


An article from Kids Rights

The March for Our Lives initiators, who started the American mass youth movement for safer schools and communities and against gun violence, have won the International Children’s Peace Prize 2018.

Watch a short documentary about March For Our Lives 

Today [20 November], on Universal Children’s Day, David Hogg, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch, received the prize from Archbishop Desmond Tutu during a special ceremony held in Cape Town, South Africa in the presence of distinguished guests and the world press. The International Children’s Peace Prize is an initiative of the international children’s rights organization KidsRights. The young winner’s message each year reaches millions of people worldwide.

During the ceremony, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has been the patron of The International Children’s Peace Prize and KidsRights for more than a decade, said that March For Our Lives is one of the most significant youth-led mass movements in living memory. “The peaceful campaign to demand safe schools and communities and the eradication of gun violence is reminiscent of other great peace movements in history. I am in awe of these children, whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can, no must, improve their own futures. They are true changemakers who have demonstrated most powerfully that children can move the world.”

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Questions related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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March For Our Lives

David, Emma, Jaclyn and Matt co-initiated March For Our Lives alongside more than 20 other students, after their school was the scene of a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida this past February, with 17 fatal casualties. Personally affected by the tragedy, they responded by organizing the March For Our Lives event in the spring of 2018 to demand safer schools and communities and to protest gun violence. Hundreds of thousands participated in the rally and more than 800 sister marches took place that same day across the US and beyond. For David, Emma, Jaclyn and Matt, this was only the beginning. In the summer of 2018 the group took to the road, visiting 80 communities in 24 states leading discussions and advocating for the creation of safer communities.

They lobbied, held town hall rallies, and motivated thousands of young people to register to vote. The March For Our Lives movement has continued to be highly vocal and very successful.

Since its advent, over 25 US states have passed more than 50 pieces of legislation in line with their cause.
A call on the international community to halt violence in schools

Marc Dullaert, founder of KidsRights and the International Children’s Peace Prize, said that out of the extremely impressive group of nominees, March For Our Lives was this year’s most deserved winner, if only due to the sheer size of the movement that it inspired in 2018: “March For Our Lives has transformed a local community protest into a truly global youth-led and peaceful protest movement. The initiators have utilized the skills and knowledge of young people to generate positive change, whilst mobilizing millions of their peers, controlling the public narrative on the issues that matter to them, and making people in power listen. This will shape the way in which children’s rights are campaigned in the future.”

During the ceremony today, Mr. Dullaert called upon the international community to halt the surge in school violence witnessed internationally. “Schools must be protected as safe havens for children. KidsRights calls upon the international community to halt this issue and to prevent schools from becoming battlegrounds.”

Macron, Merkel defend multilaterism as Trump avoids peace forum


An article from Thomson Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the Paris Peace Forum, which followed a ceremony in the French capital to mark the centenary of the end of World War One, with a warning that “blinkered” nationalism was gaining ground in Europe and beyond.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron hold hands after leaving books at the peace library at the Paris Peace Forum. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool

Echoing comments made by Macron, she said there was a worrying readiness by some to promote self-interest and ignore ties that have underpinned peace since the end of World War Two.

“Most of the challenges today cannot be solved by one nation alone, but together. That’s why we need a common approach,” Merkel told the audience. “If isolation wasn’t the solution 100 years ago, how can it be today in such an interconnected world?”

Macron hopes the forum can lead help avoid falling into the traps of the past by promoting multilateralism. He wants it to demonstrate the power of reconciliation a century after Europe was torn apart by one of history’s bloodiest conflicts.

Leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan were among those who listened as Merkel, Macron and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres lauded the U.N. and institutions like it that seek multilateral solutions to global problems.

Trump, who champions a policy of ‘America first’ and has said he is proud to be a nationalist, snubbed the event. Air Force One departed Paris for Washington shortly after the peace forum opened.

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Question related to this article:

Can the culture of peace be established at the level of the state?

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Macron has repeatedly called for “collective action” to tackle crises ranging from the environment, Islamist militancy and nuclear proliferation to anti-Semitism.

“Will today be a symbol of lasting peace or a last moment of unity before the world falls into more disorder?” The French leader Macron asked the gathering. “It depends solely us.”

Earlier on Sunday, Macron led a solemn ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the armistice that brought the Great War to an end, and appeared to take aim at Trump as he warned of the perils of resurgent nationalism.

Trump, who champions a policy of ‘America first’ and has said he is proud to be a nationalist, snubbed the event. Air Force One departed Paris for Washington shortly after the peace forum opened.

Macron has repeatedly called for “collective action” to tackle crises ranging from the environment, Islamist militancy and nuclear proliferation to anti-Semitism.
“Will today be a symbol of lasting peace or a last moment of unity before the world falls into more disorder?” The French leader Macron asked the gathering. “It depends solely us.”

Earlier on Sunday, Macron led a solemn ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the armistice that brought the Great War to an end, and appeared to take aim at Trump as he warned of the perils of resurgent nationalism.

Justin Vaisse, who organized the forum, told Reuters it was not intended to mediate solutions to existing conflicts, but seek ways to create strengthen multilateral organizations.

It is designed to be held annually and bring together a mixture of politicians, foreign policy experts, non-governmental organizations and representatives of civil society, he said.

Peace Boat brings anti-war message to Cuba


An article from Granma

The danger posed to the world by the existence of nuclear weapons marked the focus of the debate in the Forum for Peace and Revolution, organized by the Japanese Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Peace Boat, which this November docked at the port of Havana for the nineteenth time, and the second this year.

A message, signed by several civil society organizations, including the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, the Cuban Movement for Peace, and the Cuban Association of the United Nations, reiterated Cuba’s firm commitment to strengthening and consolidating international treaties on disarmament.

Departure of the Peace Boat, November 4, 2018, with 1,200 passengers from 22 countries on board. The Boat headed to Jamaica after its stay in Havana. Photo: Orlando Perea

“Seventy-three years have passed since the criminal atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and humanity continues to be threatened by the existence of more than 14,400 nuclear weapons, of which 3,750 are deployed and almost 2,000 are on operational alert,” read the text released in the presence of two survivors of the 1945 attacks on Japan.

In addition, young people were called on to join this struggle, raise awareness regarding the threat of a nuclear disaster, and defend humanity’s right to a future of peace. “Together with the nations that long for an end to all wars, and with the power of civil society at the international level, we will continue to demand that nuclear weapons prohibition agreements be complied with until their total elimination, and we will contribute to the construction of a culture of peace around the world,” highlighted the Cuban message.

The heartbreaking and eloquent testimony of those who experienced the horrors of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, known as hibakushas, moved those present in the forum, as they described horrific images of walking among a multitude of corpses and burned people, whose faces no longer resembled those of human beings, screaming desperately for water.

Michiko Tsukamoto and Tamiko Sora were just girls at the time of the explosion, but it remains present in their memory. They suffered the loss of their loved ones, and today are among the few remaining survivors. They continue to talk about the tragedy because they recognize that the magnitude of the atomic attack has not yet been fully understood by all.

The Forum was also attended by Mako Ando, a Japanese youth representative committed to a world free of nuclear weapons, who works to raise awareness of the dangers posed if humanity fails to denuclearize. Referring to the hibakushas, she noted: “They suffer when they tell their stories, but they do so again and again because they do not want anyone else to experience such barbarism.”

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(Click here for the Spanish version of this article)

Question related to this article:

Peace Boat: Building a Culture of Peace around the World

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Speaking on the panel, D.Sc Leyde Rodríguez Hernández condemned the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: “We live in a time of enormous threats to international peace and security. The United States, the same power that has imposed an unjust and illegal economic, commercial, and financial blockade on the Cuban people, causing enormous human and material damages, has taken the initiative to destroy multilateralism in international relations and, with its devastating policy, dismantle the system of international treaties and agreements that served as a foundation for peace and security after WWII.”

He explained that nuclear weapons and missile defense systems today represent a serious threat to humanity, and the fight for their prohibition and total elimination should be of the highest priority, as a duty and a right of the peoples.

“The maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons consumes much of the resources that could and should be destined for economic development, job creation, the reduction of poverty and hunger, health, education, and to prevent and combat natural disasters caused by global climate change. These resources should be redirected toward the development and fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals included in the 2030 Agenda,” the vice-rector of the Higher Institute of International Relations added.

The Forum for Peace and Revolution was dedicated to commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolutionary triumph, the 73rd anniversary of the criminal U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to the memory of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, who received members of the boat twice (in 2010 and 2012).

Natsue Onda, director of this Peace Boat trip, condemned the interventionist policy of the U.S. blockade against Cuba, and said she was pleased to hold the event aboard the ship, in the presence of so many Cubans. She highlighted the friendship between Cuba and the organization, who share the same commitments in this field.

The Peace Boat has been visiting Cuba since 1989, and this is its 99th voyage around the world, carrying a message of peace and friendship. On this occasion, the ship was carrying 1,200 passengers of 22 nationalities (most of them Japanese), who toured different historic and tourist sites of Havana, and exchanged with community organizations related to senior citizens, culture, and with students.

In a press conference, travel coordinator Adrián Godínez stressed that passengers were very interested in visiting the island, thanks to the stories of previous participants, who highlighted the warm welcome received. Other motivations to visit include the popularization of Cuban culture on the Asian continent, especially salsa music, and interest in the history of the Cuban Revolution and its leaders.

The Peace Boat promotes its voyages online, on posters in public spaces, and through the 11 friendship with Cuba organizations that operate in Japan. The NGO Peace Boat received the Order of Solidarity awarded by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba in 2009.

As a result of the first meeting with passengers of the ship in 2010, the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, wrote a reflection titled “We will never forget,” in which he noted: “Now, as for your slogan – which, in my view has very special value, ‘Learn from past wars to build a future of peace,’ will undoubtedly always have meaning – at this moment it is more relevant than ever. I would dare say, without fear of being mistaken, that never in the history of humanity was there such a dangerous moment as this…”