Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

European Parliament Calls for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and a UN Reform Summit in 2020

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from the DWFed, Democratic World Federalists

In a resolution adopted today [July 27], the European Parliament called on the EU’s governments to advocate “the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly” (UNPA) and to support a “UN 2020 summit” that will consider “comprehensive reform measures for a renewal and strengthening of the United Nations.”

TAccording to the European Parliament, a UNPA should be established “within the UN system in order to increase the democratic character, the democratic accountability and the transparency of global governance and to allow for better citizen participation in the activities of the UN and, in particular, to contribute to the successful implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The directly elected parliament of the EU’s citizens called on the EU’s 28 member states represented in the Council of the EU to advocate the creation of a UNPA at the upcoming 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly which will start in September.

European parliamentarian Jo Leinen (S&D) who had initiated the call for a UNPA said that “the UN urgently requires more openness and stronger democratic foundations.” He added that “the European Parliament therefore calls for the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly within the United Nations system” and that “the European Union and its member states should now play an active role in the implementation of this innovation.”

The European Parliament’s rapporteur on this year’s recommendations on the EU’s UN policy, Eugen Freund (S&D), said that since he first encountered UN reform forty years ago “unfortunately, not much has changed.” He added that “the General assembly has more members now, but it is still a body of unelected diplomats. Therefore, the idea of eventually complementing them with elected parliamentarians is a very appealing one. They would certainly be closer to the populace and thus would have to regularly answer to their constituency. Whether that would also streamline the decision-making processes remains to be seen.”

Other supporters of the call for a UNPA in the parliament’s committee on foreign affairs included Elmar Brok (EPP), Soraya Post (S&D), Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D), Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL), and Andrey Kovatchev (EPP).

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Question for this article:

Proposals for Reform of the United Nations: Are they sufficiently radical?

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The European Parliament’s resolution was welcomed by Ivone Soares, a parliamentarian from Mozambique and a member of the African Union’s Pan-African Parliament. “With resolutions passed by the European Parliament, the Pan-African Parliament and the Latin-American Parliament, the time has come for progressive governments in these three major world regions to consider the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly,” Soares said.

Daniel Jositsch, a member of the Swiss Council of States commented that “the escalating crisis in international cooperation shows that new ways must be found to combat global problems. It is therefore very positive that the European Parliament is calling on the European states to speak out in favour of the creation of a UN Parliament. It is important that they will not simply pay lip service to this goal, but that concrete implementation measures are being taken.”

“From the many initiatives in favor of a more peaceful, fair and democratic world the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly is the decisive one. The recent support given by the European Parliament to this proposal shows that the members of the most important supranational parliamentary body are ready to work for its creation,” commented Fernando Iglesias, a member of the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina.

Jo Leinen, Ivone Soares, Daniel Jositsch and Fernando Iglesias are co-chairs of the parliamentary advisory group of the international Campaign for a UNPA which has been endorsed by over 1,500 elected representatives worldwide. The campaign’s secretary-general, Andreas Bummel, said that the European Parliament’s call for a UNPA was “a bold and important step at a time when multilateralism is under attack.” “Governments interested in defending and strengthening the UN and democracy worldwide should urgently work for the democratisation of global institutions and a UN Parliamentary Assembly is a key to achieve this,” he added. Recently, the Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney stated that Ireland was “open minded” relative to proposals for a UNPA.

The European Parliament’s resolution on the EU’s UN policy also recommended, among other things, the establishment of “an open and inclusive intergovernmental preparatory process under the auspices of the UN General Assembly for a UN 2020 summit, on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary” that would consider “comprehensive reform measures for a renewal and strengthening of the United Nations.”

Earlier this year Jo Leinen and Andreas Bummel published a book on the history, today’s relevance and future implementation of the proposal of a world parliament and on improving democratic world governance.

USA: Former Marine to Create Legacy of Peace

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from Ploughshares

On May 1st, 1952, two thousand Marines waited in the Nevada desert for the detonation of an atomic bomb. Crouched in foxholes just two miles from ground zero without protective equipment, they were instructed to keep their heads down. “The bottom of my foxhole turned a brilliant, bright white I’ve never seen except in chemistry classes,” Bud Johns remembers, adding, “We were told to stay down until that light changed, and then immediately leave the foxholes and double time with full packs and rifles toward ground zero.” The explosion to which these Marines were exposed was the 19 kiloton Shot DOG, the fourth of a series of eight atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission as part of Operation TUMBLER-SNAPPER. According to a government fact sheet, “Tactical maneuvers were designed both to train troops and to test military tactics.”


Photo: Bud and Fran Johns

“When we got to ground zero,” Bud said. “where they had built a mock village with houses, sheep and goats, there was nothing but ashes. That made me a pacifist.”

Asked about his exposure to radiation, Bud shared, “We were guinea pigs. We wore badges to record how radioactive we were. We were lucky in our test because the wind disbursed the mushroom cloud and its radioactivity. The next test dropped a radioactive hotspot near St. George, Utah, where it killed farm animals. The hotspot remained, and years later when they were filming The Conqueror many of the cast and crew ended up dying of an identical cancer. Nobody paid much attention until John Wayne died.”

“The tests were widely publicized, so we weren’t sworn to secrecy afterwards,” Bud explained, “but we never talked about it.” Looking at a photo of Shot DOG that appeared in newspapers at the time, Bud noted he might be among the Marines pictured in front of a giant mushroom cloud. When results of US nuclear tests were declassified, Bud learned that his radiation exposure fell within acceptable AEC standards.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Completing his Marine service in 1953, Bud returned to his home state of Michigan where he renewed a career in journalism as a political reporter for the Flint Journal. Having worked his way through Albion College, Bud came to San Francisco in 1956 as a newspaper bureau chief.

Not long after arriving in San Francisco, Bud met Sally Lilienthal. Sally was horrified to learn of Bud’s experience. “I’ve never shared my story publicly, only individually, and I told Sallie I wanted no part of anything like that ever again. I became involved with Ploughshares Fund as soon as Sally started it,” Bud said. Bud and Fran Johns were married in 1992. Having dated while Fran attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and Bud was in the Marines, they were reintroduced after 40 years by family. According to Bud, “When Fran first came to San Francisco, I brought her to a party and introduced her to Sally with, ‘I want you to meet a great lady.'” Fran, a life-long writer who has written extensively in the fields of death and dying and reproductive justice, added, “So, I married into Ploughshares.”

Reflecting on Bud’s experience, Fran said, “Every time I hear about a test, I have to wonder what human participation they had that we’ll never hear about. When you look at the fallout on the soldiers and the film crew, you get an idea of how related we all are. We can’t just think that if North Korea drops a bomb somewhere the effects will only impact that place.”

“And the bombs are so much more powerful now than the bomb I saw,” Bud added. “It’s like comparing the M1 rifle I carried to an AR15.”

Commenting on his decades-long annual support of Ploughshares Fund, and his decision to include Ploughshares Fund in his will, Bud said, “The work it does is important, and it’s a battle that doesn’t have the support it should. You have to chip away at it, and that’s what Ploughshares Fund does. I’m probably the only member of Ploughshares who has seen an A-bomb blast. Politicians often think in terms of a war machine. A lot more of them would be pacifists if they had experienced the foxhole and seen the results at ground zero.”

Fran expressed her hope that people will see how Ploughshares Fund works to, “stop us from going down this horrendous path we’re on.” She said, “Other than voting, the individual doesn’t have the power to stop this, so supporting Ploughshares Fund is one little way for people to help stop the planet from self-destructing,” Ploughshares Fund is honored to list Bud and Fran Johns as members of the Nuclear-Free Legacy Society. For more information about the Nuclear-Free Legacy Society, or about ways to support Ploughshares Fund through your will or trust, contact Elizabeth Warner at 415-668-2244 or ewarner@ploughshares.org.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)
 

I Am the Flame

. DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Irene Kai

I am honored to be telling my story as a peace builder, and an immigrant in the United States of America. I met my partner David Wick in 1999. He worked with Avon Mattison and Joanie (Misrack) Ciardelli since 1980 on the foundation of Pathways To Peace (PTP) which became a United Nations NGO. Pathways To Peace then developed Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and works with the U.N. Centre for Human Rights, U.N. Centre for Human Settlements, UNESCO, UNICEF and other Agencies. It is also an official Peace Messenger of the United Nations.


World Peace Flame Monument, Snowdonia Mountain Lodge, Wales

I arrived in New York’s Chinatown from Hong Kong in 1965 at the age of fifteen, not knowing how to speak English. I learned quickly that for me to survive, I had to learn the language, get educated and assimilate into the American culture. In the process, I learned to be a keen observer of both cultures. I soon recognized and retained what serves me. From the Chinese, I work hard, fiercely adhere to devotion, discipline and humility, from the American, I am creative and daring to forge new paths. I am a quick learner, I apply what I learned into practices, therefore, I created my own culture.

David introduced me to Avon Mattison not long after we met. I joined PTP as a director and assisted in various projects and created the Culture of Peace Initiative logo which is seen on this CPI newsletter and a print of this image hangs in the United Nations.

On September 21, 2015, the International Day of Peace, David and I launched the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ashlandcpc.org) which was based on the years of experience working with PTP and the United Nations. This was a unique opportunity to organize on the ground, in a dynamic and creative community and a small city, the principles, practices and insights of what a Culture of Peace can be.

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Question related to this article:

How can we produce positive peace events, that open peoples hearts as well as their minds?

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A week before the launch of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, I traveled to the UK for an art exhibit created by Banksy with my daughter. We decided to visit Wales since we had rented a car. Deep in the Snowdonia Mountains, I needed to turn my car around to go back to town and I turned into an outlet behind the mountain and I was stunned to see a glass monument with a flame near the top with the words “World Peace Flame” etched on the glass. I gazed at the flame in awe. The flame ignited the sacred flame in my heart and I knew instantly, peace starts with me – I am the flame.

In 1999, seven sacred flames from five continents were joined in Wales to become the World Peace Flame. The Asian flame was lit from the eternal flame at Gandhi’s memorial. My deep desire to bring the World Peace Flame to Ashland, Oregon, USA is to share the inspiration with each person to take responsibility to practice peace. There is only one other World Peace Flame in the United States, it is in the Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King. Peace is not just a concept or to help some other causes in faraway places. It is a daily practice. I experienced and learned about tremendous anger in communities in our country and in the world. Anger is an expression of deep passion; the same fierce passion also was expressed by Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King for peace. It is a choice.

My family is from China, immigrants to the United States. Many of us are immigrants in this country. I am proud to be an American. I am not defined by the US national politics. I traveled to many countries and experienced many cultures and America is the only country that offers freedom and the opportunity for a girl from New York Chinatown, who did not speak English, to have a vision and then through hard work and determination is bringing the World Peace Flame to the United States. The World Peace Flame is being lit on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2018 in Ashland, Oregon.

There is only one race in this country and in the world – the Human Race. We have different history and habits, but we share the same humanity. We put the stake in the ground, we light the World Peace Flame along with the sacred flame in our hearts. We declare that we are defined by our desire and action to bring peace to ourselves and to the world. We unite with our hearts to protect and care for each other, our children, our community, our country and our planet. We choose Peace.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Campaign Nonviolence National Convergence in Washington, DC this September 21-22, 2018

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An email received on July 14, 2018 from Ryan Hall of the Pace e Bene Community//Campaign Nonviolence

We’re working hard to get the word out about the Campaign Nonviolence National Convergence in Washington, DC this September 21-22, 2018.

[Editor’s note: Click here for the Campaign’s actions last September


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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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In preparation, John Dear has put together a Covenant of Nonviolence that we wil be using for the Saturday march from the King Memorial to the White House. It’s also a great tool to use for any actions you hold locally during the September CNV Action Week.

John Dear writes that, “This covenant of nonviolence is based on the guidelines of nonviolence which Dr. King used in the Birmingham, AL Campaign, in the Spring of 1963. We encourage everyone to reflect on these guidelines and to deepen their nonviolence during our time together and the days ahead.” Read the covenant here. If you plan to join us in DC, let us know by filling out the form on the Convergence page here.

Be sure to also let us know if you’re planning a CNV Action this year. So far we’ve got over 1000 actions against war, poverty, racism and environmental destruction being planned this September. Let us know about yours here if you haven’t done so yet.

Finally, John Dear has a new 4 week online course coming up next month organized by Monasteries of the Heart focused on the Beatitudes of Peace. Learn more about it and how to register here.

BDS Victory: Irish Senate Approves Bill Boycotting Israeli Settlement Goods

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An article from Telesur TV

Ireland becomes the first country to ban trade with Israel’s illegal settlements.

The Ireland senate approved the Occupied Territories Bill, which bans all trade with illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Wednesday. The Irish government opposed the legislation, but 25 independent and opposition lawmakers secured its approval.

Ireland is on its way to becoming the first country to prohibit “the import and sales of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories.” 

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded to the decision saying that “the Irish Senate has given its hand to an aggressive, dangerous and radical populist anti-Israel boycott initiative that undermines prospects for a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.”

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also protested, saying the bill “is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.”

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a Palestinian-led international campaign launched in 2005 to push for the end of Israel’s over-50-year-long military occupation of Palestine, the end of the apartheid regime, and for the recognition of the right to return of the over five million Palestinian refugees.  

Despite attempts to discredit the BDS movement, Israel’s lethal response against protesters who participated in the Great March of Return, which began on March 30, has given the international campaign more relevance and victories.
 
The bill was introduced by Frances Black, a well-known singer and member of the Seanad, the upper house in Ireland’s Parliament. 

There is international consensus on the illegality of these settlements. Earlier this year the United Nations Human Rights Council published a report  on the role businesses play in Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, “contributing to Israel’s confiscation of land, facilitate the transfer of its population into the Occupied Palestinian Territory and… the exploitation of Palestine’s natural resources.”

(Thank you to the Transcend Media Service for bringing this to our attention.)

ICC judges order outreach to victims of war crimes in Palestine

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Ali Abunimah in The Electronic Intifada

Judges in The Hague have ordered the International Criminal Court to reach out to victims of war crimes in Palestine. It is a sign the court may be inching towards ending Israeli impunity.

On Friday, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber 1 ordered court administrators to establish “a system of public information and outreach activities for the benefit of the victims and affected communities in the situation in Palestine.”


Relatives mourn over the body of Amir al-Nimra, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 14 July along with his friend Louay Kuhail. Both boys were 14 years old.Mohammed ZaanounActiveStills

The Pre-Trial Chamber is a panel of judges that supervises how the ICC prosecutor’s office carries out its investigative and prosecutorial activities. It has the responsibility to guarantee the rights of suspects, victims and witnesses during investigations by the prosecutor.

The court will also create a page on its website “especially directed to the victims in the situation in Palestine.”

The decision facilitates the gathering of evidence that could be used in indictments or trials of suspected war criminals.

Death threats

The order instructs the court’s public information and victims participation sections to “take a central role in the initial phase of approaching victims, nongovernmental organizations and intermediaries.”

Anticipating the dangers victims may face coming forward, the judges say that court officials “may consult with the Victims and Witnesses Unit regarding protection issues.”

Nongovernmental organizations, particularly the Palestinian human rights groups Al-Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, have played a key role in collecting evidence of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity that they have handed over to the ICC prosecutor.

In September, the groups turned over dossiers detailing crimes of persecution, apartheid, the extensive theft, destruction and pillage of Palestinian property and evidence of the “wilful killing and murder” of hundreds of Palestinians since 2014 in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Previously, they gave the prosecutor evidence related to crimes committed by senior Israeli civilian and military officials during Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.

While doing this work, human rights defenders have faced death threats and harassment  likely perpetrated by Israel  or its surrogates.

Those death threats have been investigated  by authorities in the Netherlands, where the ICC is based.

In a joint statement, Al-Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights express hope that the Pre-Trial Chamber’s order “would be implemented in an effective manner.”

Worry in Israel

The decision to reach out to victims is causing worry in Israel, as a discussion on Israeli public television channel Kan indicates . . . .

In the discussion, translated and subtitled by activist Ronnie Barkan, a commentator calls the judges’ decision “outrageous” and “a dramatic statement advancing towards an investigation of Israel and Israelis.”

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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Israel is refusing to comment  officially, but Alan Baker, a former senior Israeli diplomat, called the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision “quite crazy” and claimed that the ICC was “openly turning itself into a Palestinian propaganda engine, similar to the [United Nations] Human Rights Council.”

Foot dragging

Yet the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision does not by itself indicate that the ICC prosecutor’s office, headed by Fatou Bensouda, is about to issue indictments against Israeli war crimes suspects.

The Palestinian human rights groups note in their statement that the Pre-Trial Chamber’s order to reach out to victims was not taken by, or at the request of, the chief prosecutor.

The situation in Palestine has been under preliminary examination  by the prosecutor’s office since 2015.

A preliminary examination is the first step in the process to determine whether to open a formal investigation, which can then lead to indictments and trials.

But while a preliminary examination is carried out whenever a referral is made, it is open-ended and can continue for years, at the chief prosecutor’s discretion.

However in April, Bensouda issued an unprecedented warning  that Israeli leaders could ultimately face trial for the killings of unarmed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the Great March of Return  protests that began at the end of March.

The chief prosecutor’s warning was surprising given her foot-dragging on the preliminary investigation and her demonstrated reluctance in another case to hold Israel to account.

Late last year, Bensouda reaffirmed  there was a “reasonable basis to believe” that the Israeli military committed “war crimes” when it attacked an activist flotilla to Gaza in 2010.

But she claimed that there was “no potential case” of “sufficient gravity” under the court’s founding Rome Statute to proceed with a formal investigation.

Her insistence that the court did not need to act in the case of an extraordinary military attack on civilian vessels in international waters flew in the face of scathing criticism from the Pre-Trial Chamber.

In 2015, the ICC judges had ordered Bensouda to re-examine an earlier decision not to proceed with an investigation into the flotilla case.

In December, the law firm for the victims of the Mavi Marmara attack told The Electronic Intifada that it was “lamentable that the prosecutor has been considering only the question of whether to open an investigation for over four years now.”

The lawyers, who said they would once again appeal, added that Bensouda’s office “could have by now in actual fact investigated the case, instead of avoiding its responsibility to strive to end impunity for international crimes.”

The Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to reach out to victims in Palestine now shows that even if Bensouda continues to drag her feet, the judges at least understand the urgent need for justice and the importance of hearing testimony from Palestinian victims.

In the meantime, Israel continues to create new victims.

On Sunday, Palestinians buried  Amir al-Nimra and Louay Kuhail, two friends who were playing on the roof of the unfinished al-Katiba building in Gaza City when they were killed in an Israeli airstrike  the previous day.

Al Mezan reported  that the boys were both 14 years old.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

First International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases November 16-18, 2018, Dublin, Ireland

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An announcement from the  international network “No to war – no to NATO”

Dear Friends of Peace Around the World,

We are deeply concerned, and frightened, by the threat of war that permeates the present Global atmosphere.

The increasingly aggressive and expansionist actions of US/NATO forces in violation of international law and the sovereign rights of all nations, the raging wars in the Middle East, the burgeoning arms race devastating the national treasuries, the bellicose language replacing diplomatic negotiations, the economic crises facing country after country, and the destruction of the global environment through war and unfettered exploitation, and their impact on public health, have all created crises that, unless checked by popular opposition, can lead to unimaginable catastrophe and war.


None of us can stop this madness alone from within our national borders. The global peace forces must come together, mobilizing the millions in our countries, and around the world, for peace. We cannot, and should not, allow our possible differences on other issues to separate us. WE MUST UNITE FOR PEACE!

On the basis of our shared understanding, we have initiated a Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases, and are inviting you and your organization, recognized as a voice of your people for peace and national sovereignty, to join this new Global Campaign by signing our Global Unity Statement. It is our sincere hope that you will accept this invitation and join in our global effort to oppose all forms of war and aggression against sovereign nations.

To join the Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases, please sign our Global Unity Statement: NoUSNATOBases.org.

As the first step toward launching our Global Campaign, we will be holding our first International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases on November 16-18, 2018, in Dublin, Ireland, hosted by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). It is our sincere hope that you will help us in mobilizing the maximum level of participation in this International Conference.

Additional details for the Conference, including registration and the Conference program, will be announced shortly.

As you are well aware, organizing such a broad-based International Conference requires a great amount of human and financial resources, especially since we are trying to invite experts from across the globe to make presentations. It is our sincere hope that you and your organization, based on your sense of solidarity with our common cause for peace, will make a generous donation toward covering the costs of this very important and historic Conference.

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Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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For updated information on the Conference, or to make a financial contribution, please visit our web site at: NoUSNATOBases.org.

You can also contact us via email at: contact@NoUSNATOBases.org

Looking forward to your support and participation.

Yours in Peace,

Founding Organizations:

Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), Ireland

Roger Cole, President • Ed Horgan, International Secretary • John Lannon, Member of the National Executive

Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, USA

Coordinating Committee: Bahman Azad (Coordinator), U.S. Peace Council • Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace • Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK • Leah Bolger, World BEYOND War • Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN-USA • Sara Flounders, International Action Center • Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space • James Patrick Jordan, Alliance for Global Justice • Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace • Joe Lombardo, United National Antiwar Coalition • Alfred L. Marder, U.S. Peace Council • Kevin Martin, Peace Action • Nancy Price, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom — US Section • Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation • David Swanson, World BEYOND War • Ann Wright, Veterans For Peace, CODEPINK • Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance

Sponsoring Organizations:

• World Peace Council (WPC) • Movimiento Cubano por la Paz y la Soberania de los Pueblos (MOVPAZ) — (Cuba) • Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade aos Povos e Luta pela Paz (CEBRAPAZ)— (Brazil) • Stop the War Coalition — (UK) • Okinawa Peace Action Center — (Japan) • Japan Peace Committee — (Japan) • Gangjeong International Team — (Jeju, South Korea) • Conselho Português para a Paz e Cooperação — (Potugal) • Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals — (Serbia) • Peace Committee of Turkey — (Turkey) • Cyprus Peace Council — (Cyprus) • Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE) — (Greece) • Philippine Peace & Solidarity Council (PPSC) — (Philippines) • Foro Contra la Guerra Imperialista y la OTAN — (Spain) • Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity — (Palestine) • Canadian Peace Congress — (Canada) • Lebanese Peace Council — (Lebanon) • Peace and Solidarity Committee in Israel — (Israel) • Czech Peace Movement — (Czech Republic) • South African Peace Initiative — (South Africa) • German Peace Council — (Germany) • All India Peace and Solidarity Organization — (India) • Nepal Peace & Solidarity Council — (Nepal) • Swiss Peace Movement — (Switzerland) • British Peace Assembly — (Britain) • International Action for Liberation (INTAL) — (Belgium) • International League of Peoples Struggle — (Netherlands) • Comitato Contro La Guerra Milano (CCLGM — (Italy)

Global community responds to recent positive progress in Ethiopia, Eritrea relations

..DISARMAMENT & SECURITY..

An article from Xinhua News

Recent positive developments concerning the relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea have given the global community with more confidence that relations among the two arch-rivals are normalizing.

The United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), and the European Union (EU) are some of the various international actors that welcomed recent positive moves made by the two East African nations that experienced one of Africa’s deadliest wars and the subsequent two-decade-long armed standoff.


Isaias Afwerki

Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki, on Wednesday broke two weeks of Eritrean silence to Ethiopia’s offer to unconditionally implement the decisions of peace agreement that ended a two-year border war from 1998-2000, which is estimated to have killed 70,000 people from both sides.

The decision to send a delegation by Eritrea is the first formal response from the Red Sea nation since Ethiopia’s surprise announcement to accept the peace deal that was signed some 18 years ago, eventually igniting the normalization of relations among the two countries.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in a statement issued on Thursday commended the efforts of the leaders of both countries to achieve sustainable peace and good neighborly relations which, in turn, “will have positive repercussions in the entire Horn of Africa region.”

“The Secretary-General welcomes the positive steps taken recently by Ethiopia and Eritrea to resolve the outstanding issues regarding the normalization of relations between the two countries,” the statement read.

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Question for this article:

Can the African Union help bring a culture of peace to Africa?

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Guterres also pleaded to support the two countries’ efforts by providing “all support that may contribute to advancing and consolidating the process of engagement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

The decision of President Afwerki to dispatch a delegation to Ethiopia for constructive engagement with Ethiopia was also welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who commendes Afwerki’s decision.

AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, also commended the two countries and their leaders “for these bold and courageous steps,” according to an AU statement.

Mahamat further encouraged the two countries to persevere on this path, in order to open a new chapter of cooperation and good neighborliness between Eritrea and Ethiopia, according to the statement.

Mahamat stressed that sustainable peace between the two countries “will have a tremendously positive impact on peace and security, as well as development and integration, in the Horn of Africa region and the continent as a whole.”

“This will also be a significant contribution to the goal of ending all conflicts and wars on the continent by 2020, as pledged by the African Heads of State and Government in May 2013,” AU’s statement read.

The chairperson also reiterated AU’s readiness to assist the two member states, “in whichever way deemed appropriate, in addressing the challenges at hand and taking all steps required towards the full normalization of their relations.”

EU’s High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, also welcomed the move by Ethiopia and Eritrea to resolve their longstanding differences, saying it denotes “decisive steps towards the resolution of the longstanding differences between the two countries.”

“Ethiopia and Eritrea have a critical role in promoting stability and prosperity in the Horn of Africa,” Mogherini said.

Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament: Plowshares activists in the USA

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by Kathy Kelly in Transcend Media Service

In the state of Georgia’s Glynn County Detention Center, four activists await trial stemming from their nonviolent action, on April 4, 2018, at the Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay. In all, seven Catholic plowshares activists acted that day, aiming to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.” The Kings Bay is home port to six nuclear armed Trident ballistic missile submarines with the combined explosive power of over 9000 Hiroshima bombs.


Banner held outside of Nuclear Submarine Base, King’s Bay
Photo credit: Beth Brockman

This week [June 19], five people have gathered for a fast and vigil, near the Naval Base, calling it “Hunger for Nuclear Disarmament.”

Kindly hosts in Brunswick, GA turned over their Air B and B to us. The accommodation is a remodeled garage, – were we not fasting we might find the kitchen a bit crowded, but for us, this week, the accommodations are ideal. Egrets, ospreys and vultures glide overhead. Huge live oaks surround us, looming and beautiful, draped in Spanish moss. Tannins released from the oak trees seep into the nearby river, historically a source of fresh water because the tannins killed the bugs. Centuries ago, colonizers would fill huge containers with “brown” water from the river, water in which the bugs couldn’t survive, and use that water for their drinking needs throughout their voyages back to Europe.

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Question for this article:

How can we continue civil disobedience to effectively promote peace?

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When we travel along the roads, vast stretches of wetlands extend as far as the eye can see. Recent laws mandate conservation of these marshy grounds.

Our small community here longs to preserve all life, to end potential omnicide.

During vigils at the Naval Base, in front of the detention center and at the District Court House, we hold banners, one of which says “Disarm Trident, Love One Another. Steve Baggarly, one of the fasters, carries copies of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, negotiated in July 2017, by 122 nations.  “Most of the world is tired of being held hostage by omnicidal weapons and wants nuclear disarmament,” said Steve. “The U.S. and the 8 other nuclear powers who boycotted the Treaty negotiations are the outliers.” Baggarly added that, “Our true national security lies in achieving the long overdue objective of nuclear disarmament.”

The Kings Bay action was the latest of 100 similar actions taken around the world since 1980 and the first plowshares action to take place since the global treaty banning nuclear weapons was signed.

This afternoon, when we ended our vigil, we visited a small park, opposite an entrance to the base, which marks the site of a sugar factory owned by John Houstoun MacIntosh. The memorial plaque in front of the factory ruins makes it sound as though MacIntosh built the factory and mansion. Hardly the case! In 1825, slaves assuredly constructed the buildings and cultivated the sugar cane, risking their lives in the dangerous process.

Eventually, small groups of abolitionists working to end the slave trade gained momentum. Disarmament activists today draw inspiration from their struggles. “Nuclear weapons are a theft from the poor,” said fast participant Beth Brockman. “People here in Georgia and across the South are in desperate need of the resources squandered on the war economy.”

Two highlights of the day were conversations with Mark Colville and later Steve Kelly, both of whom called us from the Detention Center. Each had begun the day reading the same reflection we had earlier shared, which included a passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Choosing to “go the extra mile,” our friends who face trial bring to life the spirit of early abolitionists and the ancient call to choose life that you and your descendants might live.

South Korea reactions after Trump-Kim summit

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Deutsche Welle (reprinted by permission)

One day after the historic summit between North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, there are a mix of reactions in South Korea.

The initial results of local elections taking place on Wednesday with the inner-Korean rapprochement in the background showed positive outcomes for the governing Minjoo party.

14 out of 17 mayoral posts and 10 of 12 parliamentary seats up for election went to Minjoo candidates. The results could considered be a vote of confidence for President Moon Jae-in’s North Korea policy.

Among South Korean conservatives, however, there is a growing feeling of disillusionment after Trump and Kim signed a letter of intent. For them, the potential denuclearization of North Korea now seems farther off than ever before.

Nam Sung-wook from Korea University was quoted in the largest South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo as saying the “complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament is no longer a question.”

“Scam of the century”

A major point of contention is Trump’s statement suspending US-South Korean military maneuvers, citing them as “expensive and provocative war games.” There are concerns that the longstanding military alliance between the US and South Korea could be weakened.

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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Professor Park Won-gon from Handong Global University told DW that the letter of intent was “the biggest scam of the century that fulfilled 99 percent of North Korea’s wishes.”

In the US, major media outlets also reacted with concern after the summit. The New York Times wrote “North Korea is a nuclear power, get used to it.”

Joseph Yun, a foremost Korea expert in Washington said “North Korea wanted exactly this, and I cannot believe that our side allowed this to happen. I am totally surprised that months of negotiations have led to so few results.”

Surprise suspension of military exercises

President Trump’s plan to suspend military exercises was reportedly not agreed upon in advance with the South Korean government in Seoul. According to a South Korean government speaker, they were not entirely sure exactly what Trump meant by “war games.”

President Moon has called for a national security meeting to take place on Thursday in order to discuss the results of and potential ramifications of the summit.

In the past, South Korea’s government has expressed willingness to reduce the biannual military exercises. Nevertheless, the US and South Korea both consider the exercises to be an integral part of their decades-long alliance. The US current has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

The military exercises do regularly stir controversy with North Korea, which considers them to be a provocative act of war. Seoul and Washington say they are purely defensive.

For South Koreans, the potential to end the Korean War and achieve peace with the North is something many people are paying attention to.

“I think agreeing on denuclearization is good, but I had expected that Trump and Kim would announce the end of the Korean War,” a middle-aged South Korean on a city street in Seoul told DW. “Of course I know that everything can’t happen at once.”