Category Archives: global

United Nations General Assembly Adopts Three Resolutions on Culture of Peace

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from the United Nations (abbreviated)

The General Assembly today (December 12) adopted three resolutions on the culture of peace, highlighting the need to foster interreligious and cultural dialogue, temper social media and bolster education in efforts to prevent future clashes between and within societies.


Bangladesh Ambassador Rabab Fatima introduced the culture of peace resolution

Introducing a draft on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”, the Philippines’ representative said the resolution aimed to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue in achieving peace and stability as well as strengthen constructive dialogue across divergent divides.  The resolution also stresses the important role the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United National Alliance of Civilizations play in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue at all levels, he said.

Bangladesh’s delegate, introducing a text on “Follow‑up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”, noted that it welcomes the High‑level Forum on Culture of Peace held on 13 September 2019, the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action.  The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace continues to find relevance across the three pillars of the United Nations in addressing contemporary global challenges, he said.

A final text designates 20 July as World Chess Day . . .

Addressing the drafts, delegates warned that clashing cultures are a growing reality in numerous societies, with antisemitism resurfacing and Islamophobia becoming more pervasive.  Libya’s representative pointed to waves of violence, displacement, death and destruction due to increases in violent extremism, terrorism and hatred.  “It is sad to see flagrant and daily violations of human rights,” he said.

They also observed that the international community today is facing more complex challenges undermining the culture of peace than in the past, including religious tensions and violence.  Kuwait’s representative observed that violent extremism is used as a mode of expression on social networks, stressing that the international community must ban content inciting extremism and terrorism.

Also arguing that social media platforms can threaten the culture of peace, Saudi Arabia’s delegate emphasized that using digital messages constructively can achieve the opposite result.  Echoing that sentiment, Ecuador’s representative emphasized that the more such media are used to disseminate hate speech the more people must use positive digital missives to counter them.

Several speakers emphasized the importance of quality education and dialogue as tools to forge peaceful understanding between countries and societies.  Interreligious and intercultural dialogues with faith leaders, civil society and academia are important for building intellectual and moral solidarity, India’s delegate said.  Home to a significant number of practitioners of practically every major religion in the world, his country is a narrative of conversations between different civilizations, he said. . . .

The Assembly had before it two reports of the Secretary‑General on “A world against violence and violent extremism,” (document A/74/195) and “Promotion of a culture of peace and interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (document A/74/476).

Also speaking today were the representatives of Sweden, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Cuba, Morocco, Panama, Pakistan, Brunei Darussalam, Azerbaijan, Canada, Nicaragua and United States, as well as an observer for the Holy See. . . .

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution titled “Follow‑up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/74/L.23), said the text welcomes the High‑level Forum on Culture of Peace held on 13 September 2019, the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action.  Bangladesh appreciates that the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace continues to find relevance across the three pillars of the United Nations in addressing contemporary global challenges.  It further appreciates that the High‑level Forum provided an opportunity for Member States, United Nations entities, civil society, non‑governmental organizations and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and make suggestions on how to build on and further promote the culture of peace in the twenty‑first century.  Finally, the text notes its support for Member States in promoting the culture of peace at the national level. . . .

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines), introducing the draft resolution titled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document L/74/L.25), said that the international community is experiencing a growing trend of xenophobia and religious intolerance, underpinned by the politics of identity, as well as the emergence of extremist ideologies.  There was a time when terror was the weapon of the weak against the strong in fights for freedom and justice.  Today, terror is pursued for itself.  It is not a means but the end that terrorism seeks:  a society built on fear where every person is afraid of another.

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

This annual resolution is more relevant than ever and has two aims:  to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue to achieve peace and stability, and to strengthen the mechanism that promises constructive dialogue across the most divergent divides, she said.  The Philippines strived to use the objectives of this resolution by maintaining an open, inclusive and transparent approach during the negotiation process.  An example of this is operative paragraph 9, which appreciates the landmark initiative to open up the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor and welcomes the agreement achieved between Pakistan and India in record time.  The resolution also stresses the important role of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the invaluable contributions of the United National Alliance of Civilizations in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue at all levels.

Statements

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that ASEAN continues to advance the vision the association had when it was founded 52 years ago:  to have an integrated, peaceful and stable community throughout the region which enjoys prosperity, lasting peace and stability.  The association’s decision‑making process has been carried out in the ASEAN way:  completed with the consensus of all 10 member countries.  The ASEAN way has worked to expand peace and stability in the region, and it carries out the same process with its dialogue partners to within the region and beyond its borders.

ASEAN continues to engage in meaningful dialogue with its external partners through ASEAN‑led mechanisms, such as the Preventive Diplomacy and Confidence‑Building Measures under the ASEAN Regional Forum, he continued.  ASEAN also supports the Security Council’s women, peace and security agenda and multi‑stakeholder initiatives.  For example, the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme helps foster a culture of peace through the active participation of women and youth.  ASEAN believes that the promotion of cooperation on sustainable development also helps foster a culture of peace, he said.

CARLOS RON MARTÍNEZ, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs for North America of Venezuela, said that building and strengthening a culture of peace calls for real commitment from the international community.  This must go beyond occasional speeches to real action.  Achieving solidarity with the most vulnerable people is essential in this regard.  “We must understand each other and recognize each other without judging each other,” he added.  A world of peace will only be possible when social justice, health, food and dignity are accessible to all people regardless of their social class, gender or any other construct.  Venezuela rejects xenophobia and discrimination.

Political will and dialogue without exclusion and under equal conditions will allow people to feel like real actors of change in the world, he continued. Venezuela has made major contributions to multilateralism, cooperation and solidarity.  This has been recognized by various States, social movements and academics.  The country remains involved in initiatives that promote economic solidarity, self‑determination and peaceful coexistence.  Venezuela is also dedicated to establishing a judicial system that strengthens peace, integrity and the rule of law.  He condemned the illegal implementation of unilateral coercive measures by the United States against his country.  “They are criminal and inhumane collective punishment,” he said, demanding such measures be lifted immediately. . . .

AHMED NASIR (Maldives) said that education is a key element in cultivating and nurturing a culture of peace.  Despite much progress in that regard, there are still some 262 million children worldwide who do not go to school.  Inequality remains one of the biggest obstacles to creating a culture of peace.  For decades, Maldivians who lived in islands outside of the greater Malé region have not had the same level of development or access to the same basic resources.  They have not been accorded the same level of priority in policymaking circles.  The current Government is committed to implementing a decentralization policy aimed at rectifying this.  The Declaration and Programme of Action on a culture of peace rightly identifies Governments, civil society, media and individuals as key actors for its effective implementation.  Moreover, he said that without adequate regulation, social media has become a tool to spread populist rhetoric, political extremism, racism, xenophobia and falsehoods.  “We call on social media companies to take more responsibility, especially in monitoring divisive content,” he said.

Mr. ALMABROK (Libya) said the world is witnessing waves of violence, displacement, death and destruction, due to an increase of violent extremism, terrorism and hatred.  The root causes are poverty, unemployment, impunity and marginalization. “It is sad to see flagrant and daily violations of human rights,” he said, calling on all countries to work together to provide greater resources and the courage to put an end to these violations.  Peace can only exist where there is justice.  He expressed concern that unregulated social media is exposing young people to extremist ideology.  Member States should demonstrate a collective will to resolve conflict and war and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign States.  Respect for cultural and religious diversity is also important.

ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), warning that the world today produces more bullets than books, stressed that so long as nuclear deterrence is used as a method to contain war, human beings will not enjoy a culture of peace.  There can be no peace without full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the self‑determination of peoples.  The use of unilateral coercive measures as a foreign policy tool must cease.  Ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba would be an action in favor of peace.  There is no culture of peace when the United States launches a new slander campaign to discredit Cuba, she stressed. . . .

YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the Baku Process has proved itself as one of the leading international platforms to foster dialogue and cultural diversity.  Its important role was emphasized by the Secretary‑General in his report to the Assembly’s seventy‑second session and most recently, in the outcome documents of the eighteenth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non‑Aligned Movement, held on 25 to 26 October in Azerbaijan.  An integral part of the Baku Process is the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, organized biennially by Azerbaijan since 2011 in partnership with UNESCO, the Alliance of Civilizations, the World Tourism Organization, the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  The fifth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which took place this May in Baku, focused on dialogue as an instrument for action against discrimination, inequality and violent conflict.  In November, Azerbaijan hosted the second Summit of World Religious Leaders, which drew participants from about 70 countries, and adopted the Baku Declaration at its outcome.  The outcome emphasized the role of religious leaders in promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue. . . .

The U.S. is trying to get out of paying climate damages to poor countries

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A blog by Emily Atkin at Heated World

Activists say the Paris agreement will be “on the verge of collapse” if rich countries don’t commit to paying poor countries for devastating climate-related losses.


This is what climate activist Greta Thunberg said . . .

After a three week catamaran journey  across the Atlantic Ocean—and a train ride from Portugal—famed youth climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in Madrid, Spain on Friday for the United Nations climate change conference known as COP25: the last time nations will come together before the Paris climate agreement is officially implemented in 2020.

Thunberg’s immediate message was one of frustration and urgency.

“We have been striking for over a year, and basically nothing has happened,” she told activists shortly after her arrival, and shortly before leading a march of 500,000 people  through Madrid. “The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power, and we cannot go on like this.”

There are people who will take Thunberg’s statement as a knock on her own activist movement. But those people willingly misinterpret her intention. Clearly, Thunberg is not saying that the climate strikes haven’t changed public opinion and understanding about climate change.

She’s saying that, despite a sea change in public opinion and understanding about the climate crisis, no one with any true power to change the global emissions trajectory has yet done anything about it. She’s saying that no one with any true power at the U.N. climate talks seems to understand the urgency of this crisis.

And she’s right. As an example, just look at what the United States is doing at COP25.

A proposal to avoid paying for climate impacts on the vulnerable

Last night, a source at the U.N. climate talks sent HEATED a photograph of a proposal being floated by the Trump administration’s diplomatic team. The proposal surrounds the problem of “loss and damage,” which refers to the “unavoidable and irreversible impacts of climate change, where mitigation has failed, and adaptation is not possible.”

I’m not sharing the photograph directly because it contains identifying information about the person who shared it, which would put that person’s job at risk. But here’s what the U.S. proposal on loss and damage says—and fair warning, to anyone who isn’t intricately involved with international climate politics, it reads like complete gibberish:

The decision package from the WIM to serve the COP in addition to the CMA could have the following components:

1. Serves both the CMA and COP as a single-consulted body with a single agenda, in accordance with past COP decisions/Paris Agreement

2. The agreement in paragraph 51 of 1/CP.21 on liability and compensation apples to work of the WIM serving the CMA and the COP

3. All Parties to the Convention (including those that are not Parties to Paris) and eligible to serve on the Excom

4. Annual report by the Excom to the COP and CMA considered jointly by the SBI and SBSTA in a single joint contact group


Fortunately, Harjeet Singh helped translate the document into real person words. Singh is the global lead on climate change for ActionAid, and has been following the U.N. negotiations about how to deal with climate loss and damage for a decade.

With this proposal, Singh said, “The U.S. is now attempting to add further protections for itself and fossil fuel companies against liability claims into the complex web of international climate legislation.”

And if this proposal is adopted at COP25 this week, Singh said, “the countries least responsible for the crisis, but are suffering the most, could stand even less chance of receiving financial support to recover from the devastating impacts of increasingly frequent and severe droughts, flooding and sea level rise.”

(article continued in right column)

Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

(Article continued from the left column)

How in the world is that what the proposal says?

The U.S. proposal surrounds the WIM—that is, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. This mechanism was established by the U.N. in 2013, so that rich countries that are most responsible for the climate crisis could help financially support poorer countries already experiencing climate disasters, since those countries hold far less responsibility for the crisis.

The WIM sounds pretty cool, but there’s always been a problem with it. The WIM has never had a finance mechanism —meaning, there’s been no way for rich countries like the U.S. to actually pay into it, because it doesn’t say how much countries like the U.S. should compensate countries for the impacts of global warming.

So that’s one thing countries are trying to figure out at the U.N. climate talks this week: How to fix the WIM so that the most vulnerable people on the planet don’t have to pay for billions—or more likely, trillions—in climate damages they didn’t cause.

The U.S.’s proposal, however, doesn’t attempt to add a financing mechanism to the WIM. Instead, Singh said, “The U.S. is using the opportunity to make changes to the way the WIM is governed, to cover its own back and keep developing countries hit by climate disasters mired in debt and poverty.”

This is making climate justice activists—not to mention people from actual developing countries—very mad.

At a press conference at the U.N. on Monday morning, Singh didn’t cite the U.S. proposal explicitly, but warned that wealthy countries were trying to get out of creating a financing mechanism for the WIM, and therefore avoid the obligation for paying poor countries for the damage they caused.

“If rich countries do not allow this architecture to be created … the Paris agreement is on the verge of collapse before it properly begins next year,” he said.

An unsurprising development

It’s not particularly surprising that the United States government would try to avoid financial responsibility for other countries’ climate damages—nor is the attempt unique to the Trump administration, said Taylor Billings, the press secretary for Corporate Accountability, a group that launches global campaigns on holding fossil fuel companies and other corporations accountable for climate change.

“The U.S. is always trying to get out of its historical responsibility for climate change,” she said.

Indeed, as the New York Times reported last year, industrialized nations including the U.S. have routinely failed on their promises to help poor countries deal with devastating climate effects.

In 2009, they pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 for that purpose. But that money “has been slow to materialize,” the Times reported, “with only $3.5 billion actually committed  out of $10.3 billion pledged to a prominent United Nations program  called the Green Climate Fund.” Both Obama and Trump failed to fulfill pledges, the Times reported—though Trump has been much worse. Not only is he attempting to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement; last year, he straight-up canceled $2 billion in promised climate aid to poor countries.

With this new proposal, Billings said, “The U.S. is trying to torch the Paris agreement on its way out.” Justice for poor and developing nations “is the core of what the Paris agreement should do,” she said. “If the U.S. gets its way, that won’t happen.”

The week ahead

Whether the U.S. proposal on loss and damage will be adopted is anyone’s guess. Obviously, it’s in developed countries’ interest to avoid creating a financing mechanism for the WIM—but developing countries will depend on that mechanism for their survival. Meetings on proposals like this tend to be closed to press, so the outcome will likely depend on whether representatives from developing countries push back strongly enough.

Meanwhile, activists like Thunberg are trying to direct some media attention away from themselves and toward those countries currently experiencing unjust loss and damage from the climate crisis.

“We have noticed there is some media attention,” Thunberg said at a press conference at the U.N. this morning. “And we thought it is our moral duty to use that media attention .. .to lend our voices to those who need to tell their stories.

We are privileged, and our stories have been told many times over and over again. It is not our stories that need to be told and listened to.

It is the others, especially from the Global South and Indigenous communities who need to tell their stories. Because the climate emergency is not just something that will impact us in the future. It is not something that will have an impact on children living today when they grow up. It is already affecting countless people today. People are suffering and dying from it today.

So that’s why we’ve created this event, to hope it will be some kind of platform to share the stories that need to be shared.

Six justice activists shared their stories at the press conference. You can listen to them all by clicking HERE.

We’ll have more on their stories this week, along with the promised investigation into fossil fuel advertising in news media. Stay tuned—and don’t forget to subscribe!

Pope Francis’ declaration in Hiroshima marks another historic step in the fight for the total elimination of nuclear weapons

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press release from 7ZEIZH

Pope Francis’ declaration in Hiroshima is another historic step in the fight for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, Roland Nivet and Edith Boulanger, national co-spokespersons of Mouvement de la Paix, have jointly declared.

The declaration of Pope Francis in Hiroshima on November 23, 2019 in which he states that “the use of atomic energy for military purposes is a crime” and that “a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary” and finally that “The time has come to renounce nuclear weapons and build a collective and concerted peace” is another historic step in the struggle for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. In his time the academician Jean Rostand speaking of the atomic weapon said “to prepare a crime it is already a crime”.

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

(Continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

(Continued from left column)

Six months into the beginning of the work of the review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the UN in May 2020 which will bring together all states, we can only welcome the fact that the Pope also calls “To support all international instruments of nuclear disarmament, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Nuclear Weapons Banning Treaty” adopted at the United Nations on 7 July 2017.

Pope Francis’ proposal for the money devoted to these works of death to be devoted to human development and the struggle for the climate corresponds to the slogan adopted by the 160 or so organizations of the Collective On the Move for Peace, which called for September 21 (International Day of Peace) to march “for peace, climate, social justice and nuclear disarmament”.

All peace-loving people, regardless of their ideological, religious, trade union or political beliefs or affiliations, will, we believe, find an additional reason to act for a world without nuclear weapons.

A few days ago we sent a letter to all French Parliamentarians proposing the adoption, as part of the preparation of the Budget 2020 of France, an amendment to this Finance Act to freeze the credits planned in 2020 to the modernization of nuclear weapons.

While the majority of the government has voted to double the funds earmarked for atomic weapons, we hope that the Pope’s statement will perhaps cause them to reflect and take into consideration our amendment proposal.

Pope Francis Calls Nuclear Weapons Immoral as Catholic Activists Face Jail For U.S. Nuke Base Action

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Democracy Now (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License).

Over the weekend, Pope Francis visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the United States dropped the first atomic bombs in 1945, killing more than 200,000 people. Pope Francis said, “A world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary.” The leader of the Cathoilc Church met with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and declared the possession of nuclear weapons to be immoral. The Pope’s visit comes as a group of seven Catholic peace activists are awaiting sentencing for breaking into the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia on April 4, 2018. The activists, known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, were recently convicted of three felony counts and a misdemeanor charge for entering the base armed with hammers, crime scene tape and baby bottles containing their own blood.


Video of interview

We speak with Martha Hennessy, one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. She is the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. We are also joined by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. His most recent book is titled, “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” Daniel Ellsberg was blocked from testifying in the recent trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!. I’m Amy Goodman. “A world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary.” Those were the words of Pope Francis this weekend as he visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bombs in the world.—it was 1945—killing over 200,000 people. Pope Francis met with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and declared the possession of nuclear weapons to be immoral. In Hiroshima, Pope Francis spoke at the city’s Peace Memorial Park.

POPE FRANCIS: [translated] The use of atomic energy for the purpose of war is today more than ever a crime not only against the dignity of human beings, but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for the purpose of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I already said two years ago. We will be judged by this. Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth. How can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war? How can we speak of peace even as we justify illegitimate actions by speeches filled with discrimination and hate?

AMY GOODMAN: The Pope’s visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki comes as a group of seven Catholic peace activists are awaiting sentencing for breaking into the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia. It was April 4th, 2018. The activists, known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, who broke in on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, were recently convicted of three felony counts and a misdemeanor charge for entering the base armed with hammers, crime scene tape and baby bottles containing their own blood. They also carried an indictment charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace. The Kings Bay Naval Base is home to at least six nuclear ballistic missile submarines, each of which carries 20 Trident thermonuclear weapons. The activists said they were following the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”

We are joined now by two guests. Martha Hennessy is with us in New York, one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. And joining us from Berkeley, California, Pentagon paper whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, his most recent book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Dan Ellsberg was blocked from testifying in the recent trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Martha, can you respond to Pope Francis going to Hiroshima, Nagasaki and saying that nuclear weapons are immoral?

MARTHA HENNESSY: Thank you, Amy. It’s good to be here. I think that we have before us a remarkable Pope, and he is certainly exhausting himself with this work of peacemaking and global solidarity-building. He is unequivocally speaking out against nuclear weapons. He does support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. My heart rejoices to hear his words and to see him. He is very purposefully going to places that—places of sin and sorrow and grief and pain. He calls it a sacramental act to go to the sites. I feel complete affirmation in what he is trying to do with regards to our own action of walking onto the Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay.

AMY GOODMAN: Has he weighed in on your trial or your sentencing?

MARTHA HENNESSY: I don’t think so. Not publicly, verbally, but he knows what is happening.

AMY GOODMAN: So describe what you did very briefly. You have been on before and described it. But also the sentence that you face. You were found guilty.

MARTHA HENNESSY: Yes, we were convicted, found guilty on all counts, October 24th.

AMY GOODMAN: And those counts were?

MARTHA HENNESSY: Conspiracy, depredation of governmental property, destruction of Naval property and trespass. And we are awaiting sentencing. We are facing—the initial threat was 20 years in prison, and I believe that the prosecution is now calling for 18 to 24 months. The judge has a reputation of ruling perhaps in the middle of the road. But I expect that I will receive a minimum of one year in federal prison.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to Pope Francis Sunday holding a holy mass for over 30,000 Catholics at the Nagasaki Stadium in Japan.

POPE FRANCIS: [translated] In the belief that a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary, I ask political leaders not to forget that these do not defend us from threats to national and international security of our time. We need to consider the catastrophic impact of their use from a humanitarian and environmental point of view, renouncing to strengthen a climate of fear, mistrust and hostility fueled by nuclear doctrines.

No one can be indifferent to the pain of millions of men and women who still today continue to affect our consciences. No one can be deaf to the cry of the brother who calls from his womb. No one can be blind to the ruins of a culture incapable of dialogue.

(Continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

(Continued from left column)

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Pope Francis this weekend in Nagasaki, Japan. On August 9th, 1945, the U.S. dropped the second U.S. atomic bomb in the world on Nagasaki. Three days before, August 6, 1945, they dropped the first on Hiroshima. As you protest nuclear weapons, Martha Hennessy, at the Kings Bay Naval Base, you left a copy of Daniel Ellsberg’s book The Doomsday Machine on the site of your action. Why?

MARTHA HENNESSY: Daniel Ellsberg has brought us such critical information. The author of the Pentagon Papers releasing the scandal and the trauma of what the Vietnam War was and the other half of his story laid buried for many years regarding the nuclear arsenal. He was an insider who had to do research on understanding what the nuclear chain of command was for pressing the button, and he found out it was rather chaotic. It was unclear to the president. There were many people who actually had the capacity to press the nuclear button. And we felt the necessity of sharing his book and we wanted the people working at the base to read the book and to understand the history here.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Dan Ellsberg is joining us from the University of California, Berkeley, who wrote The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Can you respond to this historic trip of Pope Francis to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, calling nuclear weapons illegal? This was your world. This was your work, Dan Ellsberg, as a high-level Pentagon and RAND Corporation official. The Plowshares 7 left your book at the site at Kings Bay. You attempted to testify at their trial. You were blocked. What would you have said?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: I believe that actions like theirs are necessary to moving this world away from nuclear weapons, as the Pope has called for. Many other approaches have been tried in the last 50 years and they have essentially failed. There is a major reason that runs through that history, and that is that we are, on the one hand, obliged by treaty, the highest law of the land, a ratified treaty, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Article VI, to move in good-faith negotiations—in particular with what was in the Soviet Union, now Russia, but with all nuclear weapons states—for the effective elimination of all nuclear weapons. The U.S. has not considered negotiating for that goal for one minute of that half century. There has never been a minute of good faith, of intent to carry out Article Six.

So when the Pope Francis now, yesterday, makes this—puts—urges the same goal on the U.S. and all other countries, nuclear weapons states, it might seem redundant but it isn’t. He is saying that this should be taken seriously and he could not be more right. And of course, he’s a powerful voice in the world. I hope that—he has obviously undergone a considerable education on this, as have the people in Plowshares movement. And if he can pass that requirement on and its urgency to the bishops throughout the world, it will I am sure create conditions in which our own representatives will call on our executive branch at last to carry out what they are obliged to do in the treaty and what they have never done, and that is to negotiate seriously moving toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, a verifiable mutual elimination of nuclear weapons.

AMY GOODMAN: Martha, The New Yorker Magazine wrote a piece. The headline was The Pope and Catholic Radicals Come Together Against Nuclear Weapons.

MARTHA HENNESSY: Pretty significant. I would like to believe that Dorothy Day herself, my grandmother, very much influenced the U.S. Catholic Church in terms of holding on to the concept of peace and letting the U.S. bishops know how she felt about war. She opposed every war that occurred in her lifetime. It’s grand to see the Pope speaking out now. He is a Pope after the heart of Dorothy Day.
We can’t express our gratitude to people enough, to people like Dan Ellsberg and the many of those who have come before us—the Berrigan Brothers—all in their efforts—the Pope has said it’s not enough to simply speak out against nuclear weapons; we must act. We must walk. We walked onto that base. We need to raise a voice very clearly and even be willing to put our bodies on the line to help the world to understand that the malevolence, the secrecy, the lack of democracy from beginning to end with this nuclear arsenal, the production, the maintaining, the threat of using—it’s the greatest evil in the world that any of us can face in our lifetimes.

AMY GOODMAN: One of your sister protesters, Liz McAlister, the widow of Philip Berrigan, was one of the Plowshares 7. Last week, she just celebrated her 80th birthday. She, too, faces these charges and was in prison for a year and a half as she awaited the trial. Dan, what would you have said to the jury?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: What did I expect of the jury?

AMY GOODMAN: What would you have said? And why were you blocked?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: The judge refused to allow a defense of necessity or justification, a very old principle in English common law and American common law that an act under which under some circumstances or many circumstances would be illegal, like blocking a roadway, perhaps stealing a life preserver to throw it to somebody who was drowning, taking it from a nearby boat—an act like that that is meant as necessary to prevent an imminent greater evil, the death of someone, various things, would be legal. Not merely extenuating circumstances in a sense, but would actually be legal because it was the right thing to do under these circumstances. I am convinced from my own experience that that’s true of the acts here.

I would never have thought of risking prison for 115 years, which Nixon had in mind for me or indicted me for, in order to put out the Pentagon Papers, without the immediate example of people, all of whom had been influenced by Dorothy Day, among others, by the Berrigans, by Gandhi, by Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
I was led by those people to study those works and then I saw people enacting that in their own lives, risking prison to make the strongest possible case—that there was an emergency, in this case; in that case, to end the Vietnam War—and that it took special acts of conscience to wake people up to that necessity and get them to join in the protest. I felt the power of that act on my own life.

And I would not have thought of doing an act, copying these papers and giving them to the newspapers, without that example. They put in my head the question, “What can I do to help end this war now that I’m ready to go to prison, as they were?” And the question that really needs to be asked much more generally is by people confronting climate change, confronting the nuclear emergency, confronting wrongful wars like Yemen is, “Am I doing enough? Am I doing all that I could, including considering acts that would involve personal cost for me or some risks to my career?” Very few people can answer that comfortably in the notion that there’s really nothing more they can do.

So acts like this have proven in the women’s right to vote, in the unionization of autoworkers, for example, and other workers, in civil rights and gay rights—all of these things were proved essential—part—not all, but part of the movement—to regain these rights and ensure them, that people were willing to challenge laws that were in the way of those rights.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Martha Hennessy, your grandmother Dorothy Day is in the process of beatification and canonization on the way to becoming a saint in the Catholic Church?

MARTHA HENNESSY: Yes, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us. Martha Hennessy, when is your sentencing?

MARTHA HENNESSY: We don’t even have a date yet. Sixty to 90 days is what she said to us, the judge said, on October 24th. And we’re processing—we’re doing some motion filing. And so it takes time. And meanwhile, we just don’t know.

Top 5 takeaways from the Amazon synod

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article by Luke Hansen, S.J. in America, the Jesuit Review

The three-week Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region, on the theme, “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for Integral Ecology,” concluded on Oct. 27 in Rome. Here are five key takeaways from the synod.


Indigenous people carry offertory gifts as Pope Francis celebrates the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 27, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

1. The synod was prophetic in placing Amazonian and indigenous communities at the center of the synod process and for making a clear option for these communities over foreign economic interests.

In the two-year preparatory process for the synod, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, or REPAM, coordinated about 300 listening sessions in the Amazonian region. About 22,000 people were directly involved in the territorial assemblies and smaller dialogue groups, and another 65,000 people participated in parish groups.

At the synod itself, there were 16 representatives of different Amazonian indigenous communities who shared their faith and cultural heritage with the synod and delivered compelling personal testimonies about the negative effects of climate change and extractive activities. Several of these indigenous leaders appeared at Vatican press briefings during the synod, speaking passionately about what is at stake for their communities.

On Oct. 16, Yesica Patiachi Tayori, a bilingual teacher and member of the indigenous pastoral team in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, described the decimation of her people, the Harakbut indigenous community, used as cheap labor and murdered by the thousands after the invasion of their land by rubber companies.

A few decades ago the Harakbut were as many as 50,000; they have been reduced to as few as 1,000 people today. Ms. Tayori said she made a direct appeal to Pope Francis to bring their story to the international level so that her people, faced with continuing external threats, do not go extinct.

At the synod, “the periphery speaks from the center with the awareness that its experience is heard as a prophetic voice for the whole church,” said Antonio Spadaro, S.J., a synod member and the editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, in an interview with Vatican News. “And, precisely for this, it is judged by some as disturbing.”

2. At the heart of the synod process and the final document is conversion at the pastoral, cultural, ecological and synodal levels.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., a special secretary for the synod,  presenting the final document at a Vatican briefing on Oct. 26, underlined the synod’s call for these four conversions (pastoral, cultural, ecological and synodal)because, he said, there are “no new paths” and “no real change” without these conversions.

“With the Amazon burning,” he said, “many more people are realizing that things have to change. We cannot keep repeating old responses to urgent problems and expect to get better results.” Referring to the urgent need for ecological conversion at both the personal and communal levels, the cardinal said the ecological crisis is so deep that if we don’t change, “we’re not going to make it.”

Several synod participants pointedly challenged Europeans and North Americans to examine and change their lifestyles and engage in political action in solidarity with Amazonian communities who bear the burden of climate change and the activities of multinational companies involved in mining and deforestation.

People who live in Europe and North America have a “heightened responsibility” for political action in support of indigenous communities since “we live from the benefits of this tragic exploitation in most parts of the world,” said Josianne Gauthier at a Vatican briefing on Oct. 14.

Ms. Gauthier, a Canadian and the general secretary of CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic solidarity organizations, said her role at the synod was “to listen to voices we don’t have direct access to all the time” and to consider how to support indigenous communities after the synod through “political pressure” in international political instruments.

3. This special synod—the first Synod of Bishops to be organized around a distinct ecological territory—sought to practice what it preached regarding “integral ecology” and care for our common home.

In this regard, synod organizers undertookseveral important measures: implementing an online registration process in order to avoid printing paper; utilizing bags, pens and cups made with biodegradable materials rather than plastics; and most significantly, to be a “carbon neutral” synod, the organizers offset the emissions spent to get more than 200 participants from South America to Rome—estimated at 572,809 kilograms of carbon dioxide—with the purchase of 50 hectares (123 acres) of new growth forest in the Amazon.

(Article continued in right column)

Question for discussion

The understanding of indigenous peoples, Can it help us cultivate a culture of peace?

Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

(Article continued from left column)

“The synod is a son, a daughter, of ‘Laudato Si’,’” the encyclical published by Pope Francis in 2015, said Mauricio López, the executive secretary of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, inan interview with America.

“The synod is not the end of the road,” Mr. López said, “but the beginning of a new stage for the church in the Amazon, planting the seeds of metanoia, of radical conversion, from within, at this kairos moment.”

4. All 120 paragraphs of the synod’s final document (currently available in Spanish only) were approved with the necessary two-thirds majority vote, including proposals related to married priests and women deacons.

Even though these highly debated proposals had the most votes against them, the synod was able to find language to satisfy large majorities of voting members. It is a remarkable accomplishment, considering that even discussion about such questions was strongly discouraged in previous papacies.

In the paragraph on married priests, the synod noted that many Amazonian communities go for a year or more without the Eucharist and other sacraments because of a serious shortage of priests; that celibacy is a “gift from God” but also “not required by the very nature of the priesthood”; and that criteria should be established for the priestly ordination of “suitable and esteemed men of the community, who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate.” The bishops supported the proposal, 128 to 41.

In the paragraph on women deacons, the synod acknowledged that in “a large number” of the consultations carried out in the Amazon, “the permanent diaconate for women was requested,” adding that the theme was also important during the synod. Then, referring to the Study Commission on the Diaconate of Women that Pope Francis had established in 2016, the synod expressed its desire “to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and await its results.” This paragraph received the support of 137 bishops, with 30 against.

In his remarks at the synod’s closing session, Pope Francis decided to immediately respond to this proposal, assuring the 265 synod participants that he would reconvene the commission, perhaps with new members. “I take up the challenge” for the synod “to be heard” on this topic, the pope said, as the synod hall responded with applause.

Several bishops and other participants spoke strongly in favor of women deacons throughout the synod, but perhaps the most compelling case was made by Bishop Evaristo Pascoal Spengler, O.F.M., of Marajó, Brazil, on the eve of the highly anticipated voting on the final document.

At the synod’s conclusion, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, a papal appointee to the Amazon synod, told America in an interview, “It was clear to me that the majority of bishops at the synod were in favor of recommending women to be in the diaconate.”

The bishop also said the pope’s closing comments “certainly signaled” that the papal commission would have “a new perspective and new people” looking at the possibility of women deacons “to see is there a way that this can be accomplished.”

5. Since his election as pope in March 2013, Pope Francis has transformed the Synod of Bishops into a privileged place of discernment and conversion.

Through the enhanced preparatory process, the increased participation of lay women and men as experts and auditors, the encouragement to speak freely on controversial topics and the rich discussions in small groups, Pope Francis has ensured that the synod is a place of encounter, listening and dialogue with others and with the Spirit, in which everyone is invited to let go of expectations and be open to conversion.

The synod is “not a discussion, not a parliament,” but there is “a spiritual dynamic,” said Giacomo Costa, S.J., the synod’s secretary for information, at a Vatican press briefing on Oct. 16. The biblical image, he said, is “the blind man who throws away his cloak to go to God,” and for the synod it means “to leave behind the safety of your arguments.”

The synod “is a path of discernment” that must “leave space for the Spirit,” Father Costa said.

On the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops in 2015, Pope Francis said that God expects the church to follow the “path of synodality” in the third millennium.

Synodality refers to the active participation of the whole People of God in the life and mission of the church, according to the International Theological Commission. It means embracing the diversity of charisms, vocations and ministries of God’s people.

In a major win for the environment, world’s largest bank says goodbye to fossil fuel financing

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Nation of Change

Environmentalists have a reason to celebrate this week. The European Investment Bank (EIB) announced on Thursday that it will phase out its financing completely for fossil fuels within the next two years.


A power station in Poland. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The bank’s decision to end all financing of oil, gas, and coal projects after 2021 will make it the first multilateral lender to rule out financing for projects that contribute to the climate crisis.

EIB’s board voted on the decision on Thursday. They hope that this step will make EIB, which is the world’s largest multilateral financial institution, the world’s first “climate bank.”

“Climate is the top issue on the political agenda of our time,” said the bank’s president, Werner Hoyer. “We will stop financing fossil fuels and launch the most ambitious climate investment strategy of any public financial institution anywhere.”

(continued in right column)

Question for this article:

Divestment: is it an effective tool to promote sustainable development?

(continued from left column)

EIB’s vice president, Andrew McDowell, went even further, calling this step “an important first step – not the last step, but probably one of the most difficult.”

Environmentalists are praising the bank’s decision. Bill McKibben of 250.org called it a “truly amazing win” and Friends of the Earth Europe said  the decision is a “significant victory for the climate movement.”

The decision is part of the bank’s new energy lending policy, passed with overwhelming support, and doesn’t outright ban fossil fuel projects but makes most of them impossible by instilling the following guidelines:

“Energy projects applying for EIB funding will need to show they can produce one-kilowatt hour of energy while emitting less than 250 grams of carbon dioxide, a move which bans traditional gas-burning power plants.”

According to Reuters, “Gas projects are still possible, but would have to be based on what the bank called “new technologies,” such as carbon capture and storage, combining heat and power generation or mixing in renewable gases with the fossil natural gas.”

Although the announcement is a year later than climate activists were hoping for, it calls for limited approval for projects already under appraisal by the bank. This could cause massive problems for the oil and gas industry, which according to The Guardian  has more than $200 billion in liquified natural gas projects planned over the next five years.

Regardless of the timing, the blow to fossil fuel industries is sure to be massive. Environmental groups have estimated that between 2013 and 2018 EIB handed out €6.2m every day to fossil fuel companies.

In the words of 350 Action Germany campaigned Kate Cahoon, this is “the beginning of the end of climate-wrecking fossil fuel finance.”

Book review: What if the government abolished the military?

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

A book by Jorgen Johansen and Brian Martin as described in Transcend

As entrenched as the military is in our society and minds, a new book shows that civilians can defend a society without using violence.


Banksy – CND Soldiers, first released by Pictures on Walls of London, 2005

Imagine that government leaders make an announcement:

“We’re going to abdicate responsibility for defense. Over the next few years, our military forces will be phased out. They are too dangerous and counterproductive. It will be up to everyone to figure out how to defend us all without violence.”

Environmentalists immediately get to work setting up local renewable energy systems. They know that an aggressor can hold a society to ransom by controlling a few refineries and large power plants. In contrast, aggressors, and terrorists too, will see little point in attacking energy-efficient buildings and rooftop solar panels.

Town planners adopt the same thinking. They rapidly expand opportunities for travel by foot and cycling, thereby reducing dependence on imports of fuel. A “walkable city” is far less attractive to any aggressor.

Feminists and anti-racist organizers take the lead in building an inclusive network for mobilizing resistance in case of an attack. They know about divide-and-rule tactics, and that it is important that the community be unified against any threats. They are aware of divisions that have hampered activist campaigns in the past, and aim at involving all segments of the population, including different sexes, ages, ethnicities and abilities.

Nonviolent action trainers are in big demand. They run regular workshops on methods of direct action, decision-making in a crisis, and strategy. They realize they are too few in number for the task, so put a priority on sharing their skills so that others can lead workshops.

Teachers in schools have many priorities. They encourage their students to learn about the history and practice of nonviolent action. They also encourage investigation of the politics and culture of nearby societies, especially those that might pose a military threat, seeking to learn ways of reducing the risk.

Specialists in language, culture and politics are in high demand. They put their skills towards making links with groups in other countries, especially groups resisting repressive governments — indeed any governments that might become aggressive.

Workers play crucial roles. They prepare to be able to shut down workplaces, either by striking, working in or destroying or modifying key bits of machinery or software. They run drills doing this, rather like fire drills, that are simulations of how to resist attempts to take over their workplaces or induce cooperation.

Communication specialists have numerous tasks. They run sessions on how to win over aggressor troops through conversations. They design and practice communication systems that will be resilient in the face of attack. They prepare for a shutdown of the Internet and for hostile surveillance of communications.

An immediate start is made on converting military facilities to peaceful purposes, supporting efforts to build self-reliance in energy, water, transport, agriculture and health. Soldiers, with their specialist skills, become workers in the civilian sectors of the economy. They also deploy their skills in rescue and emergency intervention.

(Article continued in the right column)

Question for this article:

Can peace be guaranteed through nonviolent means?

(Article continued from the left column)

Principles

The people’s efforts were based on several things they had learned from their studies and earlier campaigns. Most importantly, they avoided any use of physical force. After all, what is the point of an alternative to the military if it relies on violence? The resistance had to be nonviolent. Careful thought was given to every action. The people decided that some forms of sabotage were acceptable, for example deleting computer files and disabling weapons.

Every attempt was made to enable everyone to be involved in preparations and resistance, but without compulsion. This meant that women, children, elders and people with disabilities played important roles. This was in direct contrast with armed forces, which rely heavily on young fit men.

The change to a nonviolent defense system had strong links with other campaigns and social movements. It connected with environmental, feminist, labor, peace and other movements. The common threads were equality, participation, self-reliance and resilience.

In making the transition, people learned from history. They studied cases of spontaneous resistance to invasion, notably in Germany in 1923 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. They studied the dynamics of nonviolent action. They recognized the importance of engaging with aggressor troops, trying to win them over, a process called fraternization, that is crucially important in nonviolent overthrowing of dictators.

They studied everything they could find written about defending against aggression without violence. There were many valuable studies, most of them written in the 1950s through the 1980s. They adopted ideas that seemed most helpful. When they had ideas about resistance techniques, they ran simulations to see whether they worked.

As they proceeded, they shared their experiences and knowledge with like-minded groups around the world. This turned out to be a vital step. It reduced the risk of aggression, because government leaders realized that attacking a community without an army might lead to an internal uprising in their own societies.

Probably the biggest challenge was confronting people’s beliefs that violence is always superior to nonviolence, and that defense is someone else’s responsibility, namely something for the military to handle.

It’s just a scenario

At least two things about this scenario are quite unrealistic. First is that any government would dissolve its military forces. It did happen once, in Costa Rica in 1948, but has never occurred in any large country (there are 15 to 20 small countries without armies). It is unlikely that any government would abdicate without fighting to maintain its existence and its power over its subjects.

The second unrealistic feature of this scenario is the speed with which social movements undertook efforts to build a people’s nonviolent defense system. Even when this alternative is on the agenda, few movements use it as a guide for their activities and campaigns. They easily could.

For the past century, inspired by nonviolent campaigns, a few writers have imagined an alternative to military forces based on popular nonviolent action. In the 1950s and 1960s, some researchers developed the idea. In the 1980s, there were groups in a dozen countries dedicated to promoting this sort of alternative.

Nonviolent community resistance to aggression, as an alternative to military defense, has several names: social defense, nonviolent defense, civilian defense, civilian-based defense and defense by civil resistance. We call it social defense. The basic idea is that instead of relying on an army, the people in a community deter and resist aggression using a wide range of nonviolent methods.

In our just-published book Social Defence, we explain what’s involved and try to bring the discussion about social defense up to date since the 1980s, when interest was highest. There have been quite a few developments since then to consider: the rise of neoliberalism, the collapse of state socialism, the Internet, and a huge expansion in awareness and use of nonviolent action. Some of these developments are favorable for social defense, some are negative, and some just make things different.

Military systems are deeply entrenched, politically, economically and in people’s thinking. It may be a long time before significant moves are made towards alternatives. But in the meantime, activists can use ideas about social defense in designing their campaigns, their organizations and their thinking.

Gorbachev: Nuclear Weapons Putting World In ‘Colossal Danger’

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Radio Free Europe 

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that the current standoff between Russia and the West is putting the world in “colossal danger” due to the threat from nuclear weapons.


Mikhail Gorbachev speaks during the presentation of his book at a bookstore in Moscow in October 2017.

(Continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

(Continued from left column)

In an interview with the BBC  published on November 4, Gorbachev called for all countries to declare that nuclear weapons “must be destroyed” in order to “save ourselves and our planet.”

“As far as weapons of mass destruction exist, primarily nuclear weapons, the danger is colossal,” he said.

The 88 year-old Gorbachev sat down slowly at the start of the interview and spoke deliberately at times in the handful of brief clips that were interspersed with other material in the BBC’s video report.

The interview comes three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, amid hints of a return of the Cold War.

Asked to describe the current tensions between Moscow and the West, Gorbachev said, “Chilly, but still a war.”Fears of a renewed nuclear arms race have heightened since both the United States and Russian this year withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that was signed by Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Based on reporting by the BBC

Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

A Worldwide Revolution Is Underway

…. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ….

An article from Democracy Now (The original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.)

Puerto Rico. Hong Kong. Ecuador. Haiti. Lebanon. Iraq. And now, Chile. People are rising up around the world against austerity and corruption, defying police forces unleashed to suppress them. Many of these mass movements share a fierce critique of capitalism. In Santiago, Chile, more than 1 million people flooded the streets last weekend, and mass protests continue. There, the brutal Pinochet dictatorship from 1973-1990, during which thousands of progressive activists and leaders were tortured, disappeared and murdered, was followed by decades of neoliberal policies, with rampant privatization, union busting, stagnant wages and increased costs for education, health care, transportation and other services. Chile, among the richest countries in South America, is also one of the most unequal. At least 20 people have been killed during recent protests there, further angering and emboldening the crowds. 

These global protests also occur at a critical inflection point in history, with as few as 10 years remaining for humanity to transition from a fossil fuel economy to one powered by renewable energy. On Wednesday, Chile’s embattled, billionaire president, Sebastian Pinera, abruptly announced that his country was cancelling plans to host two major international summits, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in mid-November, and the United Nations climate summit, the 25th “Conference of the Parties,” or COP25, in the first two weeks of December.

Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s COP25 president-designate, said, “The citizens have expressed in a strong way their legitimate social demands that require the full attention and all efforts from the government.”

Chile’s cancellation of the COP could be a setback for global action on climate. But climate activists should take heart: This renewed spirit of rebellion around the world signifies a rejection of the status quo, and could portend accelerated, grassroots mobilization to avert irreversible, catastrophic climate change.

(Article continued in the right column)

Questions related to this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

How effective are mass protest marches?

(Article continued from the left column)

“Social injustice and the climate crisis have a common root cause,” the Climate Action Network said in a release not long after Chile’s COP cancellation. “Climate justice and solidarity is fundamentally about the protection of human rights and a better quality of life for all.”

The climate crisis touches everyone, first and most forcefully the world’s poor. The mass uprising in Puerto Rico that forced the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello was the culmination of decades of frustration with Puerto Rico’s colonial status and the more current exploitation by Wall Street vulture funds. But the discontent was fueled by the utter devastation of the back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria two years ago. “The austerity policies that have been implemented have put the people of Puerto Rico in a position of vulnerability. Social inequality has increased to levels that we have never seen here,” Manuel Natal, a member of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour days before Rossello’s resignation. “We need more democracy, not less democracy. We are on the brink of a political revolution here.” Rossello’s ouster was the first time in U.S. history that a governor was forced from office by popular protest.

Indigenous people are also leading the way, often at the front lines, confronting resource extraction with disciplined, nonviolent resistance. Hundreds of indigenous and campesino social leaders in Colombia have been murdered in recent years, simply for standing up for justice and environmental protections.

The Paris climate agreement specifically notes the importance of climate justice, and pledges to work “in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.” One of the enduring conflicts that has hampered international climate negotiations has been the refusal by wealthy nations, principally the United States, to accept the simple premise that “polluters pay.” The United States is the wealthiest nation in human history because, in part, it has polluted its way to the top, using cheap, dirty power: coal-fired power plants, diesel locomotives and now, so-called clean-burning fracked gas.

The Green Climate Fund was supposed to raise billions of dollars to finance renewable projects in poorer countries. The fund’s pledging conference last week fell short of its goal, primarily because the Trump administration reneged on the U.S.’s $2 billion commitment. Australia and Russia followed suit, refusing to make contributions.

A new study by Climate Central, a news and science organization, shows that climate-induced coastal flooding will likely be far worse than previously predicted, forcing between 200-600 million people, rich and poor, to flee their homes later in the century. Climate change-fueled wildfires are now raging across California, with hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from their homes and at least 1 million people without power.

Popular uprisings are also spreading like wildfire, though, against corrupt autocratic leaders, austerity and inequality. People are also flooding the streets, globally, linking the movements against inequality with the fight for a just, sustainable world powered by renewable energy.

Sign the petition: Down with war, let’s build peace!

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A petition on Change.org

Mouvement de la Paix has launched this petition addressed to politicians, elected officials and decision-makers. . .

We, women and men from all continents of the world want to develop a culture of peace on a global level, and know that for the future of humanity the only route is peace.

(continued in right column)

Question for this article:

What can be accomplished with petitions for peace?

(continued from left column)

We also know that it constantly requires the action of citizens, people, and states, to maintain a state of peace.

That is why, faced with the dangers for peace that consist of: a globalization that puts the burden on the people of excessive military expenditure, nuclear weapons that threaten the survival of humanity, and climate disruption,

we call on all women and men, around the world, to mobilize for peace by getting all political leaders, elected officials, heads of state and heads of international institutions to create some form of multilateral disarmament measures (especially nuclear), to protect the planet and develop human rights and education for the culture of peace in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

100 years after the armistice of November 11, 1918, down with war, let’s build peace!

This article is available in French and in Spanish.

The text is available in different languages: French, German, Spanish, Welsh, Italian, Esperanto, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, through the following link: www.mvtpaix.org

Click here for a list of personalities from around the world who appeal for signatures.