Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Full text of Nagasaki Peace Declaration on the 74th A-bomb anniversary

. . DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from The Mainichi

The following is the full text of the Peace Declaration read on Aug. 9 by Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue at a ceremony to mark the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.


A man bows at the hypocenter cenotaph in Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 2019, the 74th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the southwestern Japan city. (Kyodo)

Close Your Eyes and Listen
While thousands of arms and legs were torn off
Intestines drooping out
Maggots swarming in bodies,
Those still breathing searched for loved ones
And cremated the dead they found.
The smoke of burning corpses rose into the sky
And innocent blood stained the water of Urakami River.

Leaving only keloid scars, the war finally came to an end.

But
My mother and father are gone.
My brothers and sisters will never return.

People are weak and quick to forget;
They repeat the same mistakes again and again.

But
This one thing must never be forgotten.
This one thing must never be repeated
Under any circumstances whatsoever…

This poem was written by a woman exposed to the Nagasaki atomic bombing at 11:02 a.m., August 9, 1945. Seventeen years old, she lost her family and suffered serious injuries. The poem expresses her fervent belief that no one else in the world should ever have to experience the same tragedy.

The atomic bombs were built by human hands and exploded over human heads. It follows that nuclear weapons can be eliminated by an act of human will and that the source of that will is, without question, the mind of each human being.

The present world situation involving nuclear weapons is extremely dangerous. The opinion that nuclear weapons are useful is once again gaining traction. The United States is developing smaller, more manageable nuclear weapons, and Russia has announced the development and deployment of new nuclear weaponry. Moreover, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that ended the cold war arms race is facing dissolution, just as the continuation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is imperiled. The achievements of humankind and the results of our longstanding efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons are collapsing one after another, and the danger of a nuclear calamity is mounting.

Have the desperate appeals of the atomic bomb survivors, endeavoring to ensure that the living hell caused by nuclear weapons is “never repeated,” failed to reach the ears of the world?

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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The answer is no. There are many people in the United Nations, in governments and municipalities, and especially in civil society groups including the atomic bomb survivors who share the same opinion and are speaking out.

As a collection of small voices, civil society groups have shown the power time and again to change the world. The testing of hydrogen bombs in the Bikini Atoll in 1954 stirred up a wave of protests that swept across the globe and resulted in the conclusion of test ban treaties. Similarly, the power of citizens movements played an important role in the conclusion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017. The power of a single individual is small but by no means weak.

I call out to civil society throughout the world.

Let us continue to discuss our experiences of war and the atomic bombings and pass the information on to future generations. Knowledge of the horror of war is an important first step to peace.

Let us continue to promote trust between people across country borders. The bridges of trust built by individuals will help to prevent the outbreak of war due to national conflicts.

Let us inform our children about the importance of understanding the pain of others. That will sow the seeds of peace in children’s hearts.

There are many things that we can do in the cause of peace. Let us avoid despair and indifference and continue to cultivate a culture of peace. Let us raise our voices and insist that nuclear weapons are unnecessary.

This is the big role that all of us can play, however small we may seem.

Leaders of the world. Visit the atomic-bombed cities and see, hear and feel what happened under the mushroom cloud. Imprint in your minds the inhumanity of nuclear weapons.

Leaders of the nuclear states. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will reach its fifty-year milestone next year. All the nuclear states should recall the meaning of the treaty, which promises to eliminate nuclear weapons and compels each country to fulfill that duty. I appeal to the United States and Russia, in particular, to assume responsibility as nuclear superpowers by demonstrating to the world concrete ways to drastically reduce nuclear stockpiles.

I also appeal to the Japanese government. Japan has turned its back on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As the only country in the world to have experienced the devastation caused by nuclear weapons, Japan must sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as soon as possible. As a means to that end, I ask Japan to seize the trend toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and to initiate efforts to make northeast Asia a nuclear-free zone where all countries coexist under, not a “nuclear umbrella,” but a “non-nuclear umbrella.” And above all, I ask the Japanese government to uphold the spirit of “never resort to war” enshrined in the Japanese Constitution and to take the lead in disseminating that spirit around the world.

The average age of the atomic bomb survivors has exceeded 82. I ask the Japanese government to adopt further measures to support the aging survivors and take steps to assist the people who were exposed to the atomic bombings but are yet to be recognized as survivors.

As a city exposed to nuclear devastation, Nagasaki will continue to support the people of Fukushima, who are still struggling with radioactive contamination eight years after the nuclear power plant disaster.

My heartfelt thoughts go out to the people who perished in the atomic bombing, and I declare Nagasaki’s determination, along with Hiroshima and people everywhere committed to peace, to strive relentlessly for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting world peace.

U.S. students walk out again to protest gun violence

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Keith Coffman in Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Demanding an end to gun violence and tougher restrictions on firearm sales, thousands of students again walked out of classes across the United States on Friday in hopes of putting pressure on politicians ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Timed to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, students left classes at midmorning, many waving placards with slogans including “I should be worried about grades, not guns,” and “Enough is enough.”


Students gather for a rally in Washington Square Park, as part of a nationwide walk-out of classes to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting, in New York City, U.S., April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Organizers said students from more than 2,600 schools and institutions were scheduled to take part, but that was fewer than participated in a similar walkout last month. In some places, demonstrators even met with resistance from school administrators.

“Today is about being proactive and being empowered and really funneling all that energy and anger we have as young people into some productive change,” one of the student organizers, Lane Murdock of Connecticut, told Reuters.

Olivia Pfeil, a 16-year-old sophomore from a high school in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, held a sign bearing the names of mass shooting victims. “We’re expecting change or come next election cycle we will support politicians who are listening to the voices of the youth,” she said.

It was the second student walkout since the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the emergence of a national student movement to end gun violence and toughen restrictions on firearms sales.

Many of the demonstrators wore orange, a color that has come to represent the movement against gun violence. A 13-second silence was observed in honor of the 13 killed at Columbine.

At the Texas statehouse in Austin, about 1,000 students, many waving signs and chanting anti-NRA slogans, demanded stricter gun control measures.

“Because we can’t vote, this is the only way we can make our voices heard,” said Graeclyn Garza, a second-year student at McCallum High School in Austin, who waved a sign reading “Enough.”

Outside the White House, protesters sat in silence while they listened to the names of gun violence victims read aloud.

“It happened like 20 years ago,” said Ayanna Rhodes, 14, a student at Washington International School, referring to Columbine, “And we are still getting mass shootings in schools.”

Two gunman went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, leaving 12 students and a teacher dead before killing themselves in a massacre that stunned the nation. But since then, school shootings have become commonplace.

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Question related to this article:

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

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Even as students prepared for their protest on Friday morning, news broke that a 17-year-old student had been wounded in a shooting at a high school near Ocala, Florida. A suspect was arrested soon afterward, police said.

The latest gun violence unfolded about 225 miles (360 km)northwest of the Parkland high school, where two months ago a former student killed 17 people in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.

Despite widespread revulsion over the school shootings, the issue of gun control remains sensitive in Colorado and across the country, where the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.

‘OPPOSE THEM AT EVERY STEP’

Dudley Brown, president of the Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights, said the gun-control movement seeks to have the government take away constitutional rights.
“The main objective of these students is to ban firearms completely, and confiscate the firearms of law-abiding Americans,” Brown said. “We will oppose them at every step.”

In some conservative school districts, administrators told students they could face disciplinary steps if they walked out.

In suburban Dallas, a dozen students dressed in orange chanted “End gun violence!” as they huddled in a parking lot across the street from North Garland High School.

Freshman Victoria Fierro, 14, said school administrators blocked the doors when about 50 students tried to leave, so a small group exited through a side door.

“They told us we would get in trouble if we walk out, and we told them it was a peaceful protest, we’re not causing any damage,” Fierro said. “This is over a serious topic that people are pushing aside.”

The principal declined to answer questions from Reuters.

It was not immediately clear whether Friday’s turnout matched those of earlier protests. More than a month ago, tens of thousands of students from some 3,000 schools participated in the #ENOUGH National School Walkout to demand tighter gun control regulations.

On March 24, “March For Our Lives” rallies in cities across the United States were some of the biggest U.S. youth demonstrations in decades, with hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters taking to the streets.

On the evening before the walk-outs, Colorado gun control activists rallied near Columbine High School.

Carlos Rodriguez, a 17-year-old junior from Marjory Stoneman, traveled to Columbine for the anniversary and said he found a sense of solidarity in the outpouring of support.

“That’s the only thing that’s keeping us Douglas students alive right now: the distraction of fighting for our rights and advocating for our lives,” Rodriguez told Reuters.

There was no walkout on Friday at Columbine, which has not held classes on April 20 since the massacre. Students were encouraged to take part in community service instead.

Additional reporting by Lacey Johnson and Ian Simpson in Washington, Zach Fagenson in Miami, Lisa Maria Garza in Garland, Texas, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Edgar Mendez in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler

The Americas are preparing for the second World March for Peace and Nonviolence

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Pressenza (translation by CPNN)

North America

United States

A tribute to ML King was given in Helen Park. The core team will go through New York and San Francisco. A visit to the United Nations is planned for a possible reception by the Secretary General. The presentation of the documentary “The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons”. Through the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, a line of work for collaboration and convergence was opened under the program 2030 of the United Nations. Contacts with the United Nations Secretary-General on the theme of the refoundation of the United Nations and possible macro-consultations on the subject at the March.

Canada

Canada participated in the march for Earth Day with the message “Non-violence is ecological: without war, there are no dirty weapons”. A press release is being prepared to request spaces for the invitation to organize activities for the passage of the march. On Saturday, 27/4 we attended the Spring of the Alternatives event to find contacts.

Mexico

The World March is invited to participate in the Nobel Peace Summit to be held in Merida on 17 and 23 September 2019. During the visit of the core team, there will be an event at the border with the United States and a tribute to the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

Central America

Guatemala

Alliances have been formed between individuals and organizations to strengthen the group of promoters. Among these, different sectors are represented: Civil society organizations, DiverArte, Organizations related to community communication, Student organizations, National University: students of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala, Municipalities: Municipality of Mixco

Honduras

Formation of the school 60 which will lead to the construction of the symbol of peace. It will be realized by the children of the schools located in the border zones of Honduras and Guatemala, at the reception of the March. The association of medical students of the National University UNAH and two private universities organizes the accompaniment of the March during its tour in Central America. The municipalities of Omoa and San Pedro Sula, decide to participate in the March with a massive mobilization of the population. Conducting three simultaneous conferences at San Pedro Sula Universities on topics related to world peace.

Cuba

Contacts are ongoing with some Cuban organizations.

El Salvador

Activities will be launched from Andrés Bello University. Probably in several cities of the country: San Salvador, San Miguel, Chalatenango, etc.

Costa Rica

We presented the campaign of the global plan of action for non-violence at educational centers 11 – 22, July. The teacher training plan begins the third week of July. Meetings with government authorities, the municipality of San José and organizations to propose activities on the theme of non-violence. Meetings every two weeks on Wednesdays at CAP from 5p.m. Celebration with artistic activities, human symbols of the International Day of Peace 21 / 9. Celebration of the day of non-violence 2/10 and departure of the March. Participation in the labor day march, distribution of flyers and transport of the March cover. Declaration of Cultural Interest of the March by the Government of Costa Rica. During the March, 27 and 28 in November are expected to participate in the International Forum on “The Role of the Armies in the 21st Century”. Activities with 1000 children on the esplanade of the Children’s Museum. Concert for peace in the park of democracy. Realization of human symbols at the passage of the March and some cultural reception events.

Panama

Last year, a forum was held at the Inter-American University. Between the end of September and the beginning of October 2019, we will organize a forum at a local university (location, date and time to be confirmed). As part of the second Global March for Peace and Non-Violence, we invite stakeholders to participate in the forum “Culture of Peace, Non-Violence, Respect for Children and Nature for a Better Panama” . They can, in this environment, share information they deem relevant on actions, contributions and projects in this regard.

South America

Colombia

In Bogotá: Work with the 40 schools that supported us during the South American march. We will hold workshops on active nonviolence, murals, drawings, flag raising, stories and writings, symbols of peace in the area and parades. The symbol of peace will be held in the Plaza de Bolívar, inviting 5000 people. Realization of a great concert for peace and non-violence. In Barrancabermeja: There will be a conference in Unipaz and SENA. A walk through the city to gather 2000 people. Contacts will be established with the human rights entities we worked with during March. We will close with a great symbol of peace at Kolibri Park. In Medellin: Carnival of culture, conferences in a university on peace and non-violence. Contact government entities responsible for human rights and related organizations. In other cities of Colombia: (Cali-Popayan-Pasto-Cartagena-Tunia-Cucuta-Bucaramanga-Ipiales-Armenia-Neiva). Peace marches and symbols will take place. Contact with schools. Discussions on non-violence in universities and institutes.

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

Question for this article:

How can we be sure to get news about peace demonstrations?

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Ecuador

In Guayaquil, letters were sent to universities for forums. National schools that verbally communicated their interest were contacted. Contacts have also been established in other cities such as Manta, Ámbato and Quitó. In Guayaquil: Activities are planned at the University of Guayaquil and Casa Grande University. Inter youth sports club championship. Some colleges and the municipality of Guayaquil. On the cover: Activities are planned for the passage of the 2ª March in coordination with the Pan-American Round Table and the University of Manta.

Venezuela

Appointments every Sunday with personal development work and organization of the March. A diptych has been developed, institutions contacted. We were interviewed on the radio. And,the March was advertised in the Sao Paulo Forum through the women’s sector. We continue to contact people and institutions that support the March There will be forums with videos to advertise it.

Brasil

In Sao Paulo – SP: Meetings for the dissemination of the March and the formation of a group of volunteers to participate in the organization and dissemination of the March in Sao Paulo. Production of explanatory material on how to organize the symbols of peace and other global activities in schools and universities. In Cubatão – SP: Meeting with the director of education to create human symbols in schools in the region. In July, 22 met the directors of 75 to make human symbols in various schools in the towns of the Santos coast. Presentation of the March on July 23, this time to the directors and coordinators of the first years (1º to 5º degree). There was a very good positive energy, we encourage schools to achieve the symbol of peace at the launch of the World March, during the week of non-violence from 2 to October 4. Participation in the March for culture of peace to be held in August In Caucaia – SP: Presentation of the March to representatives of different religious groups of the city.  Participation in the March for the Culture of Peace, to be held in August by the Ministry of Sport and Culture of Cotia in collaboration with an interfaith commission. In Paraisópolis – MG: In August 29, we will have a meeting with all the schools of Paraisópolis to inform of the world March and propose activities. During the visit of the base team, an activity is planned with the children in the message room of the silo south of Minas Gerais. Em Salvador – BA: Trip to Bahia to broadcast the March, contact with Bom Fim Brothers in Salvador, Bahia, with the proposal to create a community of nonviolent resistance in the city. In Recife – PE: The meeting with the Ministry of Education of Jaboatão dos Guararapes took place in July 17. The 12th of August will be held as part of the training of the project on non-violence in schools with schools 30 of the metropolitan area of ​​Recife. In Curitiba – PR: We are planning a visit to the Lula Libre camp. We are trying to organize a base team visit to Lula to deliver the book of the South American March for Peace and Nonviolence.

Peru

Prevention and anti-violence workshops with prospective teachers and mothers in schools in Comas District, Lima. Prevention and fight against violence among school teachers in the district of Cañete. We have promoters in every city. We are coordinating to promote the activities at each point. We have a central location in Lima, provided by the University Ricardo Palma.

Bolivia

In La Paz: Activities focused on the printing and delivery of invitation letters to secondary and primary schools in the Sopocachi region of La Paz. Since July, workshops for teachers and students from the same region have started. In Cochabamba: Activities carried out at the University Mayor of San Simón during the peace march in South America to 2018. In Santa Cruz: The Silo Study Center began with the dissemination of World March activities . Beginning of dissemination activities in July.

Chile

We are starting organizational meetings with new people to fit into the activities. We are planning a tour of all regions of Chile to promote the formation of grassroots groups. They will rely on the production of materials of all kinds to cover the actions. The idea is to integrate people to continue the March in future editions. Also in Chile, we will strengthen support for the NPT (Nuclear Weapons Treaty). Progress has already been made with parliamentarians, we will now expand our action to municipalities. Contact in Chile with the Mexican environment Alicia Bárcenas (ECLAC) who has access to the UN and the governments of the region. The organizer of WOMAD offered to collaborate with the March in Chile for the realization of a mega symbol of peace. At the Latin American Humanist Forum of 11, 12 and 13 in May, the March for America was discussed at the Teatro del Puente. We will have a discussion of the network of teams for the March at the Americas level in July 27.

Argentina

There are promoters in the 8 provinces : Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, Cordoba, Mendoza, Rio Negro (El Bolsón), Bueno Aires (Tigre and Mar del Plata) and recently in the CABA (autonomous city of Bs. will be two main events in the country: Recognition of the mothers and grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo as heroes of the nonviolent struggle. Tribute to Silo [Mario Luis Rodríguez Cobos] . In the process of organization In Buenos Aires: Dissemination activities in Parque Lezama, Buenos Aires Province and CABA. The rest is under development. In Cordoba: The team of promoters of the city was formed and organizational meetings were organized. The March has already been declared of educational interest by the province of Córdoba. The application for membership of other institutions to the municipality and the chamber of legislators was presented. The following have been programmed: Work in Schools, The Making of a Wall Campaign, The Screening of the Documentary “The End of Nuclear Weapons”, A musical musical festival among other actions. In Jujuy: A small action is planned for the delivery of the book of the South American March, to Miracle House. Draft to declare week 1 of October the week of non-violence of 2019. In Salta: The Community for the human development and members of the General Direction of the community organization of the municipality presented to the Human Rights Commission and the constitutional guarantees of the Council of deliberation the plan to declare the week 1 of October the week of the nonviolence of 2019 and the Place of the Peace and Non Violence is inaugurated. Make a calendar with activities (1 per month) of diffusion: Cinema debate on the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons, Marathon or bike ride, Human symbols, Closure with a cultural festival. In Mendoza: In July 19, there was a workshop meeting with social organizations adhering to the 2MM. At the 02 of October, there will be marches of Las Heras in Centro de Mendoza. Symbols of peace of the students of the school of Mendoza. In Punta de Vacas: Celebration of the 10th anniversary of the First March on 02/01/2020.

The Americas prepare for the world march

Despite economic, social and political difficulties, each in his own way should try to participate in the project. If this is the case, you can do this by facilitating contacts of individuals, personalities or NGOs in the above-mentioned countries or in other countries through this e-mail address. .

Officials Urge Disarmament ‘Stepping Stones’

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Shervin Taheran for the Arms Control Association

Warning of a possible resumed nuclear arms race, senior officials from 16 nations urged nuclear-armed nations last month to advance their disarmament efforts as required by the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The June 11 meeting of foreign ministers and other high-level officials was hosted by Sweden as part of an initiative announced by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström at the NPT preparatory committee meeting in May. (See ACT, June 2019.)


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (left) and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström speak at a June 11 meeting in Stockholm on nuclear disarmament. (Photo: Claudio Bresciani/AFP/Getty Images)

The gradual downward trend of the global nuclear arsenal from its peak in 1986, should not be reversed,” the officials proclaimed in a joint declaration. “A potential nuclear arms race—which would serve no one’s interest—must be avoided.”

The participants represented non-nuclear, nonaligned countries, including Argentina, Ethiopia, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland, and nations that receive the cover of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, including Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, and Spain.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Their statement emphasized the importance of reaffirming the role of the NPT as “the cornerstone of the global disarmament and nonproliferation regime” and stressed the necessity of increased progress on the disarmament pillar of the treaty.

Toward that end, the ministers declared that they will seek an outcome at the 2020 NPT Review Conference that will identify “stepping stones” for the implementation of the NPT disarmament obligations, which commit the treaty’s five nuclear-weapon states to “pursue negotiations in good faith” to end the nuclear arms race and to achieve nuclear disarmament.

The officials highlighted concrete measures that could be taken to advance disarmament, as previously presented in a Swedish working paper, including more transparent declaratory policies, measures to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in doctrines, strengthening negative security assurance, working on nuclear disarmament verification, and addressing the production of fissile material.

Sweden first submitted the working paper to the NPT preparatory committee meeting in April. The United States also has pursued an initiative ahead of the review conference, titled “Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament”.

Citing the need to identify common ground on disarmament, Wallström told the May NPT meeting that “the NPT community cannot come empty-handed next year” for the review conference. The process laid out in the working paper could help to build trust and confidence and “unlock current diplomatic blockages,” she said.

Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan Elected Chair of Rotary Middle East Initiative Council

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. ,

An article from the Massis Post

The Executive Committee of Rotarian Action Group For Peace recently elected Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan as Chair of the newly-established Middle East Initiative Council. In the month of March, 2019, a high-ranking Rotary delegation headed by Dr. Der-Yeghiayan visited Israel and Palestine meeting with numerous government officials,leaders of peace-promoting organizations, university presidents and students. as well as Rotarians. The idea of establishing a peace council was conceived during the delegation’s visit to the Holy Land.


Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan

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Question related to this article:

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Upon his election, Dr. Der-Yeghiayan said: “This is a fresh approach led by Rotarians and youth groups to create a culture of peace. It is based on shared values and desired outcomes of all concerned to include: 1. Safety and Security; 2. Prosperity; 3. Quality of Life. We are committed to full participation in a process to equitably meeting the needs of current and future generations”.

The proposed projects of the Council include: Organizing peace conferences and workshops to address the root causes of conflict among parties with the participation of Rotarians and international thinkers with global experience. Offering a summer program for teens to help them learn about the history, culture and politics of the Middle East. Publishing position papers authored by Council Members and other scholars on events in the Middle East. Working collaboratively with like-minded peace organizations in the region to affect change. Organizing annual peace missions to the region to learn and to better understand the status quo.

The Council will be composed of prominent Rotarians, scholars,statesmen, peace-builders, former ambassadors, former members of parliaments and youth representatives.
Dr. Der-Yeghiayan is a seasoned Rotary leader. He is the first Armenian American elected to serve as a District Governor (California-Nevada, USA) in the history of Rotary International. He has held all senior positions in Rotary, including the chairmanship of Rotarian Action Group For Peace. He is the recipient of Rotary’s highest honors.

Dr. Der-Yeghiayan expressed his gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him and concluded: “Every conflict is an opportunity for better understanding. We encourage openness from people in disputes because direct communication is the best way to find solutions.”

Peacecamp Steinwenden, Germany, 28 June

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from the Ramstein Campagne

Between 23 and 30 June 2019, for the 5th year, a series of actions will be promoted to protest the continuation of the Ramstein Air Base – one of the biggest US-American military basis in the world, located in Germany. On this occasion, the campaign „Stopp Air Base Ramstein“ – together with the International Peace Bureau (IPB), the „No to War – No to NATO International Network“ & the European Left – invites you to the International Conference „Wars and Military Bases“, taking place on 28 June at the Apostelkirche in Kaiserslautern (Germany).

The meeting will be an opportunity for the peace movement to analyse the current international political situation, to report on actions around the world, and to discuss future actions and projects.

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Question for this article:

How can we be sure to get news about peace demonstrations?

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We live in a time of wars and violence. The armament race has been growing, especially among the NATO countries. Their goal: 2% of country’s GDP for war and war preparations. Foreign military bases play an important role in the policy of confrontation: they are a crucial element for the preparation of yet new wars, the promotion of regime changes and the nurture of repression. While the USA has, by far, the highest number of military bases outside its territory (currently over 800), countries such as the UK, France, Russia and China also rely on military bases to project and enlarge their power.
We believe that sustainable peace and international security are best achieved by pursuing an approach of common security that is based on cooperation, trust, understanding, diplomacy and respect. Foreign military bases are not compatible with this vision: they represent constant threats of military action and the subsequent destruction that war casts over human life, nature, environment and infrastructure.
Due to our limited financial means, we cannot cover travel and accommodation costs. If you have any questions and/or comments, contact Reiner Braun at hr.braun@gmx.net. The conference will be conducted in English.
 
Download the program >

Give peace a chance, says South Korean cardinal

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from La Croix International

A South Korean cardinal believes that permanent peace is within sight on the Korean Peninsula.

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung made the statement in a keynote speech at the 2019 Korean Peninsula Peace-sharing Forum hosted by the National Reconciliation Committee of Seoul Archdiocese and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism at the Catholic University of Korea on May 18.


Participants in the 2019 Korean Peninsula Peace-sharing Forum

Cardinal Yeom, the archbishop of Seoul, said that “this year’s forum will serve as a cornerstone for permanent and genuine peace on the Korean Peninsula” and emphasized that “no matter how small, we should practice love that sows the seeds of peace and friendship.”

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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Guzman Carriquiry, vice-president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, gave a lecture titled “A culture of encounter, pacification and reconciliation” in which he detailed the reconstruction of Europe following the devastation and destruction of the Second World War.

He said the culture of peace depends on “overcoming deep-rooted enmities and smoothing over tensions between the winners and the losers.”

Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo testified that amid the political and social vortex of transitional chaos, the Catholic Church could build true friendships and cooperative relations within the Church as well as with civil society and members of neighboring countries.

Father Jeon Young-joon, dean of the College of Theology at the Catholic University of Korea, emphasized the importance of welcoming “people on the move” such as refugees and foreign students, who need special care.

Professor Kim Hak-sung of Chungnam National University told the forum that the Korean Peninsula’s long-standing internal conflicts had made immediate reconciliation difficult. He proposed that a lower level of reconciliation should occur first with an emphasis on expanding the national union for peace and reconciliation.

The forum is holding a Mass for national reconciliation and unity on May 21.

USA: Veterans For Peace Board President Gerry Condon was violently arrested in front of the Venezuelan Embassy yesterday afternoon attempting to deliver food to people inside.

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Veterans for Peace

Over the last several days, VFP members from around the U.S. have joined the vigil outside the Embassy of Venezuela in support of VFP member Ken Ashe and other peace activists who are under siege inside the Embassy. The activists are in the Embassy at the invitation of the democratically elected government of Venezuela.


Video of arrest

On Tuesday night, five VFP members participated in a successful delivery of food, medicines, and clothing to our friends inside the Embassy. Despite intimidation and physical blocking from right-wingers, we remained nonviolent, and achieved our objective.

But Wednesday afternoon, while attempting a second food delivery, Gerry Condon was surrounded by Secret Service and thrown to the ground. See this Twitter thread to see how violently he was arrested while remaining completely peaceful.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Help us by taking action now!

Call the Secret Service

Call the Secret Service and tell them that you object to their violent treatment of peaceful protesters attempting to legally deliver food to the embassy: 202-406-8800.

Help More VFP Members Get to the Embassy

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Question for this article:

Can peace be maintained in the Caribbean region?

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More VFP members are on the way. Some have requested and are receiving travel assistance funds from Veterans For Peace. San Diego VFP has contributed $500 for travel assistance. Chapter 27 in Minneapolis has contributed funds for food for the Embassy Protection Collective (those inside the Embassy).

To donate to VFP efforts, click here!

Most VFP members can stay in DC for a few days to a week. So in order to maintain a VFP presence, we will need to keep a good rotation going. The situation has been made even more critical after the power and water were cut off.

See the full report on VFP joining the Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective

For those folks not in D.C., Veterans For Peace urges all members to participate in this call to action from About Face:

Last Tuesday, opposition politician and self-appointed president of Venezuela Juan Guaido called for Venezeulan military leaders to stop defending President Maduro in an escalation of the attempted coup. While it is clear to us that the crisis in Venezuela continues to be devastating and in dire need of resolution, it is also clear to us that yet another coup supported by the United States will only lead to more disastrous outcomes.

That’s why we have joined calls to end the sanctions on Venezuela (recently linked to 40,000 deaths in the country), and to resume diplomacy and foreclose the possibility of any military intervention by the US.

Fortunately there are options available to us to pressure our Congress members: H.R. 1004 and S.J. Res. 11, which were crafted to hold the Trump administration back from “introducing armed hostilities to Venezuela.” In this moment, reminding our elected representatives that we won’t let history repeat itself in Latin America is vitally important.

Please let them know TODAY that as a constituent, you want them to take action to prevent yet another war waged by the U.S. for private gain and to end the devastating sanctions on Venezuela.

Contact your elected leaders by calling the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121

Many Peaces in Iraq: Creating a Foundation for Conflict Transformation Through Peace Studies

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Aala Ali, Adham Hamed & Muntather Hassan from Impakter

“We heard children singing ISIL songs, and saw them role play executions in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp playground. We were distributing humanitarian aid. It was then that I realized, if we don’t do anything about this … a new, more extremist generation will be born,” Ziena, 27 years old.

Ziena graduated from one of six youth-training workshops hosted by UNDP Iraq partner, Iraqi Al-Amal Association, in 2018. Focused on preventing violent extremism (PVE) and conflict transformation, Ziena is one of 146 university students and youth activists who have been supported to carry out creative community-based activities in their universities and local communities.


In the Photo: IDP Camp Children with Song Book. Photo Credit: Iraqi Al-Amal/2019

Struck by her own experience in an IDP Camp, Ziena created a children’s songbook; filled with words of peace and ideas that support a non- discriminative, gender equal, and non-violent future for Iraq. Each page of the book is decorated with the artwork of IDP children, which today, Ziena and her team of volunteers take to IDP camps to share. She hopes that music and song will guide these children toward a culture of peace and a future free from divisive ideologies.

But, whilst her story is heartwarming and her hands are those working to directly mend the hearts of conflict-affected communities, Ziena is addressing just one layer of conflict in Iraq’s peace-building process. She is instrumental in building a bridge between academic ideas and concepts required to frame a new culture of peace in Iraq, and the tangible actions made in her community, where she encounters survivors of conflict every day. Both aspects are necessary, and indeed complimentary, but there is another layer which is critical to ensuring sustainability of peace in Iraq — the structures that enable peace. For this, the active engagement of the government is crucial.

Recognizing the complexity of this task, the UNDP-funded project, Education for Peace in the Iraqi Higher Education System,” implemented by national NGO Iraqi Al-Amal Association  and the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck’s Unit for Peace and Conflict Studies, is designed to address all three levels of conflict — grass-roots, middle and high-level — through a combination of community level programming, curriculum development with the Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies and government engagement through the  Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research (MOHESR).

Between October 2018 and March 2019, this culminated in the development of the first national Diploma for Peace and Conflict Studies, which will be piloted at the University of Baghdad later this year. Such an endeavor required an in-depth reflection about the potential meanings of peace and the impact of different notions of peace in the Iraqi context.

Defining Peace

UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) calls for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development — providing justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. In the same vein, on the International Day of Peace 2018, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated, “There is more to achieving peace than laying down our weapons.”

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.

So, what are the potential meanings of peace beyond the absence of war and direct violence? The preamble of the UNESCO constitution provides a helpful reference point: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Such an understanding of peace opens up a possibility to think about the idea of peace beyond a single universal notion that could be applied in all places and all times, regardless of the respective socio-political and cultural circumstances.

Wolfgang Dietrich, UNESCO Chairholder for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck, proposed the idea of “many peaces;” a concept that suggests that there are as many interpretations of peace as there are human beings in the world. This perspective provides an alternative avenue to universalist notions of how peace ought to be. By contrast it introduces a human-centered approach that puts people and the diversity of their lived experiences at the center of conflict transformation work. In the Iraqi context, which has long experienced external interventions, this makes the radical shift of agency to Iraqi citizens, who are now considered the central agents for formulating their own understandings of peace.

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Question related to this article:

A culture of peace in Iraq, Is it possible?

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Conflict and Violence in Iraq

From the first Gulf War and the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein, to the 2003 invasion, the subsequent 8-year Iraq war and ISIL’s occupation between 2014-2017, it is no surprise that the scars of war and conflict have marred the economic and social development potential of Iraq, despite its considerable oil resources. In 2017, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the economic impact of violence on the global economy was 14.76 trillion US Dollars or the equivalent of 12.4% of the global GDPBeyond Conflict Resolution

If it were the case that families, communities and societies could be fixed like the engine of a broken car, narrowly focusing on the material aspects of conflict might be a sufficient response. However, human relationships are more complex than the mechanistic qualities of an engine and they are not always rational, with messy human traits tied up in our experience, including crucial sexual, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions that all constitute a part of human existence.

All of these aspects contribute to the tangible costs of conflict, and using short-term solutions alone to address them will only temporarily suppress conflict — with a strong likelihood that it will appear again, somewhere new. This is why, beyond the idea of simple conflict resolution, a more comprehensive approach to conflict transformation needs to put the relationships of people living and surviving in protracted conflicts at the center of a journey toward peaceful communities.

We know from experience that conflict transformation processes require years, decades or even generations, in the case of large-scale violence. The concept of the “200-years present,” first introduced by sociologist Elise Boulding, explains how an experience of violence will continue to resonate in subsequent generations, through the trans-generational dimensions of trauma. Which is why episodes of violence, such as those experienced during ISIL’s occupation of Iraq, will likely affect the relatives of survivors and witnesses for many years to come.

Hence, while immediate interventions for peace are necessary to address the material dimensions of conflict, such as reconstruction, it is equally crucial to consider the mid and long-term processes of relational work through trauma healing and peace education. This is not only much more cost-effective than investing in further securitization and militarization, but it also opens up the possibility for long-term change processes through the education sector, strengthened to provide platforms for peace. Peace education provides a possibility to think about “many peaces” and conflict transformation as a means of addressing personal and collective challenges that remain deeply ingrained in families, communities and societies moved by the experiences of war and violence. It’s an approach that in the spirit of the UNESCO Constitution starts with the human mind as a central resource for defending peace. And, from experience we know that this may not only contribute to the prevention of further outbreaks of direct violence but that it’s actually a means of transforming cultures of violence to cultures of peaces; equipping people with alternative and effective tools to transform their conflicts peacefully, such as dialogue, and mediation.

Peace education can also be used to help people develop their own ways of living and fostering cultures of peace, and to avoid the belief that their reality is directed by external forces. In Iraq there is a widespread belief that violent conflict is merely imposed by foreigners. This sense is built up from the community level and challenges the notion that people were living in peace before foreign intervention. Whilst we can recognise that there are many external factors contributing to instability in Iraq, we also see how this recognition is used as a strategy to avoid personal responsibility and agency, limiting the possibility of addressing conflict from within one’s own context. Avoiding agency frequently occurs as part of a denial phase after trauma. However, the inclusive, and elicitive approaches in peace education can facilitate ownership for Iraqis, enabling them to take forward this type of peace work and enhancing their level of responsibility on foundational issues.

A Catalyst for Change

The development of a national pilot curriculum for a “Diploma of Peace and Conflict Studies” is an intervention that has come after many years of armed conflict. At the beginning of this project, promoting peace education in the Iraqi higher education sector was the goal, but how can you continue academic life in a context marked by war, where lecture halls and libraries have been destroyed or burnt to the ground? And beyond material damage and destruction: How do you continue academic work and life in a meaningful way after experiencing the kind of atrocities that put all meaning of life into question?

Whilst the circumstances in post-ISIL Iraq are in many ways different from the political, cultural and social situation in Europe post-World War II, there are also certain parallels. Most strikingly we see a new-found momentum to establish a foundation of Peace and Conflict Studies as an academic discipline — and a recognition that the neighboring discipline of International Relations, founded after World War I, was largely unsuccessful in finding the answers to prevent genocide and the use of weapons of mass-destruction. This had a direct effect on the development of a broad range of applied conflict transformation methods, which have been of utmost use for transforming conflicts in a non-violent manner, and which, with the right methodologies, may achieve positive results in Iraq too. This consideration was at the heart of the “Education for Peace in the Iraqi Higher Education System” project. But why academia? Because Iraqi academics have collectively demonstrated a desire to actively contribute to national reconciliation, with a strong will to work together to address the questions of peace and conflict transformation through establishing Peace and Conflict Studies as a new discipline in Iraq.

This culminated in the formation of The Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies, between 2016-2017, with support from Iraqi Al-Amal, UNDP Iraq and Eastern Mennonite University. The Consortium — comprised of academics from the Universities of Baghdad, Tikrit, Anbar, Basra, Karbala, Kufa and Mosul — became a vocal advocate for the development of Peace Studies in a post-conflict Iraq and actively participated in capacity building activities to train academics and in-turn contribute to the development of a context appropriate curriculum.

Latin America and the Caribbean need a culture of peace

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An letter to the editor of the Guyana Chronicle

Dear Editor,


THE situation in neighbouring Venezuela is very dangerous. It has led to many clashes between forces loyal to the government of President Maduro and the Opposition. The potential for escalation is great and the consequences for life and politics could be very serious.


Donald Ramotar, 
Former President of Guyana

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Question for this article:

What is really happening in Venezuela?

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What happens in Venezuela would have repercussions on our whole continent. Outside intervention can be both positive and negative. I wish to urge that all efforts must be put to preventing the escalation of violence and to oppose any type of coup and military intervention.

Any action that could lead to the forceful overthrow of Maduro’s government would renew the culture of military coups and bloody dictatorship in Latin America, reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s. The scars from military intervention in our region hasn’t been totally healed as yet. To move for regime change through violence would only complicate and worsen an already serious situation.

The greatest contribution that external intervention can play is to encourage democratic solutions and promote political negotiations and dialogue, for a peaceful settlement. Any other course, such as economic sanctions, will only worsen the situation and lead to bloodshed and violence. Latin America and the Caribbean need a culture of peace.

Regards

Donald Ramotar

Former President [of Guyana]