Tag Archives: global

UN chief launches new disarmament agenda ‘to secure our world and our future’


An article from United Nations News

“The United Nations was created with the goal of eliminating war as an instrument of foreign policy,” Secretary-General António Guterres said, unveiling his new agenda, entitled, Securing Our Common Future, at the University of Geneva, in Switzerland.

“But seven decades on, our world is as dangerous as it has ever been,” he warned.

“Disarmament prevents and ends violence. Disarmament supports sustainable development. And disarmament is true to our values and principles,” he explained.

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The launch comes at a time when “arms control has been in the news every day, sometimes in relation to Iran and Syria, sometimes the Korean Peninsula,” said the UN chief.

The new Agenda focuses on three priorities – weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons, and new battlefield technologies.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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First, he stressed that disarmament of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons could “save humanity,” noting that some 15,000 nuclear weapons remain stockpiled around the world and hundreds are ready to be launched within minutes.

“We are one mechanical, electronic or human error away from a catastrophe that could eradicate entire cities from the map,” he warned.

Mr. Guterres said the States that possess nuclear weapons have the primary responsibility for avoiding catastrophe. In that regard, he appealed to Russia and the US to resolve their dispute over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; to extend the New START treaty on strategic offensive arms, which is due to expire in just three years; and to take new steps towards reducing nuclear stockpiles.

Second, he said disarmament of conventional weapons could “save lives,” in particular those of civilians who continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict.

The UN chief said that beyond the appalling numbers of civilians killed and injured, conflicts are driving record numbers of people from their homes, often depriving them of food, healthcare, education and any means of making a living.

At the end of 2016, more than 65 million people were uprooted by war, violence and persecution, he said.

“My initiative will have a strong basis in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world’s blueprint for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet,” he said, noting that excessive spending on weapons drains resources for sustainable development.

In fact, more than $1.7 trillion dollars was spent last year on arms and armies – the highest level since the fall of the Berlin Wall. That is around 80 times the amount needed to meet the humanitarian aid needs of the whole world, he said.

Third, he said that new technologies, when used maliciously, could help start a new arms race, endangering future generations. “The combined risks of new weapon technologies could have a game-changing impact on our future security,” he said.

Nuclear Weapon States’ Long Arm Seen Behind Deferral of Landmark UN Conference


An article by Alyn Ware for Indepth News

May 14, 2018 was supposed to see the opening at the United Nations of a three-day High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, scheduled to discuss “effective nuclear disarmament measures to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons, including, in particular, on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons.”

The UN General Assembly decided five years ago to hold such a conference in 2018, following a series of annual, one-day, high-level meetings at the United Nations.

Security Council meeting on Maintenance of international peace and security, Nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The importance of the 2018 High-Level Conference only increased during these five years with a range of nuclear-weapons related conflicts heating up – Russia vs. NATO, North Korea vs. USA, India vs. Pakistan – to such an extent that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  in January 2018 moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 2 Minutes to Midnight. This is the closest humanity has been to nuclear Armageddon since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Uncertainty over the future of the Iran nuclear deal following the withdrawal of the United States on May 8 has only added fuel to the nuclear fire.

A High-Level Conference (scheduled for May 14-16) would have provided a powerful platform for world leaders to support diplomacy and nuclear-risk reduction in these nuclear-related conflicts, as well as to advance nuclear disarmament measures such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons  which was concluded by non-nuclear States at the UN in July 2017 but has not yet entered into force.

Right at a time when such a conference is needed the most, it has surprisingly been postponed to an uncertain future date.

Civil society representatives, many of whom had already booked their flights to New York for the conference, were left perplexed. The High-Level Conference had been initiated by the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which in the past has led on a number of nuclear disarmament initiatives, such as challenging the legality of the threat and use of nuclear weapons in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)  in 1994.

Many of the Non-Aligned countries were also active in the 2017 negotiations that concluded the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. So why would the NAM now reverse itself and drop such an important event?

The Indonesian Mission (Embassy) to the UN, which serves as the UN Coordinator for NAM, indicated that they had not found a suitable country to chair the conference. This indeed appears to be true. Several candidates invited to chair the conference had declined. But this still begs the question why? Wouldn’t one or more of the NAM countries want to chair the conference and elevate their standing in the international community as a broker for peace and disarmament?

It appears from informal conversations with some NAM members that there are deeper reasons, most of which fall back to the long-arm influence and intransigence of nuclear-armed States on nuclear issues. This plays out in a number of ways.

Firstly, it appears that the NAM was unsuccessful in persuading leaders of nuclear-armed and allied states to commit to coming to the UN High-Level Conference. Having a conference where these states are represented only at ambassador level (or even lower) would undermine the conference and would limit the degree to which these countries would commit to any nuclear risk-reduction or disarmament measures.

This argument would be totally understandable if the NAM had indeed put strong pressure and invested political capital to move the leaders of nuclear armed and allied states to come. But this did not seem to be the case. Leaders of countries are not moved to come to UN Summits or High-Level Conferences solely on the basis of a UN resolution.

They would be so moved if NAM leaders announced that they themselves were coming to the UN conference at the highest level (President or Prime Minister), publicly called on the nuclear armed and allied states to do the same and made this a priority in their bilateral meetings with the leaders of the nuclear armed and allied States.

The fact that NAM did not appear to do this indicates that something else is happening within NAM that appears to have reduced their collective resolve and impact on nuclear disarmament issues.

Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, a number of NAM members, like many other non-nuclear States, have developed closer trade, financial and political relationships with specific nuclear-armed States. They appear hesitant to do anything that would seriously impact on such relationships. These countries are ready to support nuclear disarmament statements and resolutions that look good but have little impact on their nuclear-armed friends. They are hesitant to adopt measures that might impact significantly on the practices of the nuclear-armed states and incur the wrath or even counter measures from them.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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This was evident, for example, in the negotiations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The nuclear-armed States and the allied states under extended nuclear deterrence relationships have all indicated that they won’t join the Treaty which means that the general Treaty obligations will not apply to them.

However, there were proposals to include Treaty provisions that would have had direct impact on practices of the nuclear-armed States. These included prohibiting transit of nuclear weapons in the land, sea and air spaces of Treaty parties, and to ban financing of nuclear weapons, i.e. investments in nuclear weapons corporations. The fact that the states negotiating the Treaty rejected these proposals demonstrated their unwillingness to confront the nuclear-armed States.

This was also evident in the recent case taken by the Marshall Islands against nuclear-armed States in the ICJ. This was a direct legal challenge of the nuclear-armed States violating their nuclear disarmament obligations.

However, not one other non-nuclear country joined the Marshall Islands in the case. None wanted to come into direct confrontation with the nuclear-armed States. As a result, the ICJ determined that it was not a real legal dispute regarding the disarmament obligation, and they dismissed the case.

It appears that this low level of resolve by NAM and other non-nuclear States to confront the nuclear-armed States is not the only reason for the deferral of the UN High-Level Conference.

Another reason appears to be that the heightened tensions between nuclear-armed States make it difficult for even the strongest disarmament advocates and the best ‘bridge-builders’ to succeed in bringing the nuclear-armed States together to cooperate in such a forum.

An indication of this is the responses of the nuclear-armed States to two recent initiatives by Kazakhstan, a country that had been incredibly influential and successful as a bridge-builder at the end of the Cold War. Kazakhstan was instrumental in bringing Russia and the United States together in 1991 to cooperate on nuclear threat reduction, the dismantling of the nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus and the securing of nuclear materials in these countries.

However, two of Kazakhstan’s more recent attempts to encourage cooperation between nuclear-armed States (and especially USA and Russia) have had much less success. These included the Universal Declaration for a Nuclear Weapon-Free World, which did not get unanimous support, and the Security Council session on confidence building and weapons of mass destruction which Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev chaired on January 18, 2018.

The U.S. used the opportunity of the Security Council session not to discuss confidence-building measures, but rather to launch a multifaceted attack against Russia. Russia then responded in kind. This, and other indications of increased antagonism between nuclear-armed States, appears to have convinced some NAM countries that now was not an optimum time to hold the High-Level Conference.

On the other hand, it is understood that other NAM countries believed that this dynamic and other tensions and conflicts such as in North-East Asia, were the very reason that a High-Level Conference would be so important at this time.

Many civil society organizations share the latter view. “If ever there was a time when there was a need for a high-level summit … it is now,” said Jackie Cabasso, executive director of Western States Legal Foundation speaking at a press conference at the United Nations  on March 28.

“One of the things I think we’re here to say is that this opportunity should be seized upon by the nuclear powers which are confronting each other now in a very, very dangerous way that threatens all of us,” continued Cabasso. “This high-level conference could provide support and encouragement especially as it comes between the planned summit between the two Koreas in April and the U.S.-North Korea summit in May/June.”

There is concern that the postponing of the UN High-Level Conference might be a sign of ‘wet feet’ from the Non-Aligned Movement leading to it being cancelled altogether. “NAM needs to hear from civil society and from other non-nuclear governments that the High-Level Conference must proceed, either later in 2018 or in 2019,” says John Hallam, Convener of the Abolition 2000 Nuclear Risk Reduction Working group.

“The threats to humanity and the planet from the conflicts and policies of the nuclear armed States are too high, too risky, and too important to leave to them alone. The High-Level Conference is vital to pull them back from the nuclear abyss and set the world on a path to nuclear disarmament,” he adds.

Civil society action has been successful in the past in re-building the resolve of NAM to take action in the face of strong opposition from the nuclear-armed States.

In 1993, as a result of pressure from the nuclear-armed States, the NAM withdrew their resolution to the United Nations requesting the International Court of Justice to rule on the illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. At that time, it appeared as though the initiative was lost.

However, a coalition of over 700 civil society organizations took action and convinced the NAM to resist the pressure from the nuclear-armed States and to re-submit the resolution to the UN General Assembly in 1994. The result was a successful vote in the UN General Assembly, followed by an historical case where the court affirmed the general illegality of the threat and use of nuclear weapons and the universal obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament.

A similar campaign by civil society in support of the UN High-Level Conference could convince NAM to move the UN General Assembly this October to re-schedule the UN High-Level Conference for 2019. Civil society organizations are meeting in New York to discuss the issue.

Solar Leads Record Renewables Investment


An article Jeremy Hodges for Renewable Energy World

Solar investments eclipsed all other forms of electricity generation in 2017 as China’s green boom accelerated. Investors worldwide plowed a record $161 billion into solar energy last year, more than half the investment in all renewables apart from large hydroelectric projects, according to a report jointly published by the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Total investment in renewables rose 2 percent to $280 billion.

In its bid to no longer be seen as the world’s worst polluter, China invested $127 billion in renewable energy last year. More than two-thirds of that was for 53 GW of solar energy, enough capacity to power more than 38 million homes.

Renewables made up a record 61 percent of net power generation capacity added worldwide in 2017. Actual output from clean energy sources accounted for just 12 percent of electricity production, illustrating the gap that needs to be bridged before clean energy can overtake fossil fuels.

“The world added more solar capacity than coal, gas, and nuclear plants combined,” said Nils Stieglitz, president of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, which contributed to the report. “This shows where we are heading, although the fact that renewables altogether are still far from providing the majority of electricity means that we still have a long way to go.”

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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The costs of solar and wind energy have shrunk dramatically in recent years, making the economic case to transition away from carbon-intensive energy sources all the more compelling. Even though coal and gas are still the cheapest sources of electricity, that’s likely to change as soon as 2023, according to BNEF.

China, Australia and Sweden saw the largest increase in investment, which declined for markets that have historically led the way for renewables. U.K. investment fell by 65 percent while Germany’s slipped by more than a third.

Global emissions rose to a record last year in the first annual increase since 2014.

Other figures from the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report include:

* In 2017, $103 billion was invested in new fossil fuel generators while $42 billion went into new nuclear reactors, and $45 billion to large hydro dams

* Renewable energy investment in the U.S. was $40.5 billion, down 6 percent

* Developing economies accounted for a record 63 percent of global investment in renewable energy in 2017, up from 54 percent in 2016

* Europe’s share of world investment fell to just 15 percent in 2017, the lowest recorded since the data series began in 2004

* Renewable energy prevented the emission of 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2017

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for calling our attention to this article.

Physician Leaders Urge All States to Sign Nuclear Weapons Treaty


An article from the World Medical Association

Deep concern about nuclear armed states who have decided to modernise their nuclear weapons and retain them indefinitely, has been expressed by the World Medical Association.

At their Council meeting in Riga, Latvia, delegates from the WMA called for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide and urged all states to promptly sign and implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. (see the Council Resolution)

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Delegates from almost 40 national medical associations expressed their strong concern about the growing threat of nuclear war and spoke about the catastrophic consequences of these weapons on human health and the environment.

WMA President Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura said: ‘It is our duty as physicians to preserve life, to safeguard the health of patients and to dedicate ourselves to the service of humanity. Members of the WMA have a responsibility to remind their governments of the devastating and long-term health consequences of using nuclear weapons and to urge them in the strongest possible terms to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

‘We join with others in the international community in urging all states to sign, ratify and implement the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’.

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for calling our attention to this article.

Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network meets in Berlin to promote women’s role in peace processes

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from UN Women

About 150 representatives from UN Member States, regional and international organizations and civil society from around the world met in Berlin, Germany, for the annual capital-level Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network (WPS-FPN) meeting on April 9-10, 2018.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and other participants at the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network meeting in Berlin. Photo: Xander Heinl/photothek.net

The Network, initiated by Spain in 2015 during the high-level review of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 and launched in 2016, serves as a cross-regional forum to exchange experiences and best practices to advance the implementation of the UN agenda on women, peace and security, and to improve coordination of funding and assistance to programmes.

Today, women remain a minority in all peace processes, representing only 4 per cent of the military component of UN peacekeeping missions, and 10 per cent of the police component. Despite increases since 2010, the percentage of gender-specific provisions in peace agreements declined in 2016. Violations against women human rights defenders persist and access of women and girls to justice and security remains hindered. In addition, harmful gender norms and structural barriers continue to contribute to inequalities and violence. Women in peacekeeping operations have been found to increase the credibility of forces, gain access to communities and vital information, and lead to an increase in reporting of sexual and gender-based crimes.

In his opening address, Heiko Maas, German Foreign Minister, emphasized that “Women can and must play an active role in conflict prevention, peace talks, reconstruction, reconciliation in societies and particularly in post­conflict situations.”

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Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

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He noted that one objective of the meeting was to “highlight how alliances can promote this agenda – alliances with regional organizations or strong partners such as the G7, with other networks and initiatives, but also, and very importantly, with civil society.”

Organized by Germany as current Chair of the Network, in close collaboration with Spain, Namibia and UN Women, the meeting focused on “Building Alliances to Advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda” deepening the discussion on accountability mechanisms for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. Resources, professionalization of data collection and evidence finding were highlighted as key to promoting accountability, while comprehensive gender-sensitive conflict analysis and budgeting processes were highlighted as mechanisms to help ensure the implementation of strategic priorities and appropriate financing for the women, peace and security agenda across sectors.

In her keynote address on the second day, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström underlined that “Gender equality is the issue of our time. It is not a women issue, it is a peace and security issue.”
UN Women Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme, Yannick Glemarec, urged participants to seize the opportunities offered by the Network to effect tangible changes in the way challenges of implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda are addressed.

During the meeting, the Focal Points reflected on the critical need for streamlining the different reporting mechanisms and consultation processes on women, peace and security to foster an enabling environment for accountability by Member States and regional organizations. At the local level, they advise for specific timelines, aligned indicators, adequate budgets and the active involvement of civil society actors as key components for successful national action plans.

The Focal Points agreed on key actions for the Network from the meeting, which is reflected in a joint communiqué  which will be issued as an official document of the UN Security Council.

In closing remarks, Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, who will Chair the Network in 2019, said of the Network, “We are there to show the way for women to never give up hope.” The Network is expected to host additional meetings in New York in the coming months and during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for calling our attention to this article.)

Pontifical Council, WCC develop joint text on education for peace


An article from the World Council of Churches (reprinted as non-commercial use)

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) of the Vatican and the Office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) met in Geneva from 16-18 April for their annual meeting. Staff from the two offices united in prayer, fellowship and joint work on a document titled “Education for Peace in a Multi-Religious World”.

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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The PCID delegation also met with Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary. Expressing his delight at the forthcoming visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the WCC on the occasion of WCC’s 70th anniversary, Tveit emphasized that the papal visit would be both a testimony of hope as well as an opportunity for further ecumenical collaboration in the service of our common humanity.

The PCID delegation also acknowledged with gratitude the friendship and collaboration they experienced during the tenure of Dr Clare Amos, who retired recently from the WCC.

Both delegations agreed to continue their close collaboration in fostering interreligious dialogue ecumenically.

Nonviolence Charter: Progress Report 12 (April 2018)


An article by Robert J. Burrowes, Anita McKone & Anahata Giri in the Transcend Media Service (abridged)

This is the latest six-monthly report on progress in relation to ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ together with a sample of news about Charter signatories and organizations.

Robert J. Burrowes, Anita McKone & Anahata Giri

Our collective effort to build a worldwide consensus against the use of violence in all contexts continues to make progress, even against rather overwhelming odds!

Our last report on 5 October 2017 was kindly published by Antonio C. S. Rosa in the TRANSCEND Media Service Weekly Digest. At the time of today’s report, we have signatories in 104 countries with our first signatories in Bolivia, Rwanda and Slovakia since the last report. We also have 114 organizations/networks from 36 countries with our first organization in Rwanda. If you wish, you can see the list of organizational endorsements on the Charter website.

If you wish to see individual signatories, click on the ‘View signatures’ item in the sidebar. You can use the search facility if you want to look for a specific name.

The latest progress report article ‘Nonviolence or Nonexistence? The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’ was recently distributed to many progressive news websites: it was published by a number of outlets in 15 countries, thanks to very supportive editors (several of whom are Charter signatories: special thanks to Antonio Rosa, Gifty Ayim-Korankye, Korsi Senyo and Pía Figueroa). If you like, you can read the article (in English and Spanish), published on the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. here: ‘Nonviolence or Nonexistence? The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’ and ‘¿No violencia o No existencia? El legado de Martin Luther King Jr.’

If you feel inclined to do so, you are welcome to help raise awareness of the Nonviolence Charter using whatever means are easiest for you. Given recent revelations of the corruption of Facebook, this Charter account has been closed.

And our usual invitation and reminder: You are most welcome to send us a report on your activities for inclusion in the next report. We would love to hear from you!

Anyway, here is another (inadequate) sample of reports of the activities of individuals and organizations who are your fellow Charter signatories.

Given that dysfunctional parenting is ultimately responsible for the behaviour of those individuals – including political, corporate, military and religious leaders – who generate and perpetuate violence, a number of Charter signatories are now making ‘My Promise to Children’ so that we start to produce a higher proportion of functional individuals who know how to powerfully resolve conflicts in their lives without resort to violence. Still other signatories are now prioritizing their own recovery from childhood violence by ‘Putting Feelings First’.

Some other signatories are developing more sophisticated nonviolent strategies to deal with peace, environment and social justice issues more effectively, or so they can be more strategic in their liberation struggle. If you are interested in nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle, these websites (which include photos of several Charter signatories) will be helpful:

Nonviolent Campaign Strategy

Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy

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Question for this article:

Can peace be guaranteed through nonviolent means?

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If any of you have high quality photos of nonviolent actions that you are willing to have published on these sites, please send them to Robert All photos will be acknowledged where published.

If you would like to see Venezuelan Antonio Gutiérrez Rodero’s Spanish translation of the Nonviolence Charter, it is available here.

Deciding to recognize some of the many fine peace and justice leaders around the world, Charter signatory Professor Kathleen Malley-Morrison and her colleague Professor Anthony J. Marsella researched the efforts of hundreds of fine activist leaders. They compiled these names into a succession of ‘lists of 100’ and had these lists published. You can see the names of the people they decided to recognize, including many Charter signatories, in the first three lists here:

‘In Pursuit of Peace and Justice: 100 Peace & Justice Leaders and Models’.

‘In Pursuit of Peace and Justice: 100 Peace & Justice Leaders and Models (List #2)’.

‘100 Living Peace and Justice Leaders and Models (List #3)’.

Thank you for all your work Kathie and Tony.

Daniel Dalai’s visionary initiative Earthgardens, originally based in Bolivia and now in Guatemala, provides opportunities for girls to realize and practice their inherent leadership potential, particularly as part of Eco Teams in preserving natural biodiversity. Their beautiful website has just been updated and the stunning photos alone will tell you much about what these remarkable girls are doing. See Earthgardens.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers, mentored by Hakim, continue their visionary work in ‘Pursuing Peace Despite Everything’ in war-torn Afghanistan. Recently, on 21 March – which was ‘Nao Roz’ or ‘New Day’, the Afghan New Year – a suicide bomb attack occurred near Kabul University, not very far from the Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre of the Afghan Peace Volunteers; it killed 32 people. ‘Despite the complicated fears and emotions that arise with each security incident, Zekerullah, Bismillah, Nisar and others gathered at the Centre, built a peace sign and lifted it up into the air with multi-coloured balloons.’ You can see their beautiful achievement and beautiful faces in the photos at the link above.

Among her ‘endless’ activist commitments, including with the Afghan Peace Volunteers, Kathy Kelly still manages to write regularly to tell us what she is experiencing and, often enough, what others are experiencing as a result of being targeted by the US military. This thought-provoking article ‘From the Ground Up’ begins by describing the experience of Afghan mothers living in a perpetual war zone.

Pía Figueroa in Chile is Co-Director of ‘Pressenza International Press Agency’, ‘a site that feeds media every day for free with news, opinions, interviews and contributions regarding peace, nonviolence, disarmament, human rights, nondiscrimination and humanism in eight different languages, thanks to the volunteer work of more than 100 people based in 25 different countries.’ Pía is also a writer; her books have been published in several languages and presented in more than forty places. She specializes in Silo’s proposals on inner development and the creation of a Universal Human Nation, where all kinds of violence and discrimination will be surpassed. Pía presently lives in Santiago de Chile, where she is an active member of the Humanist Party and the Frente Amplio political coalition. Nevertheless, she travels a lot, participating in public events and journalistic forums as well as in nonviolent gatherings, since she considers herself a global activist for peace. In a recent insightful commentary on politics in Chile, Pía wrote The era is decisive’. . . .

Click here for additional reports from Cambodia, Morocco, West Papua, Slovakia, Russia, Malaysa, USA, Nigeria, Ghana, Iraq, Brazil, Palestine, Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, D.R.Congo, New Zealand, Myanmar, India, Denmark, UK, Rwanda and Bolivia,

(Click here for the Spanish version of this article)

United Nations General Assembly Concludes High-Level Debate on Sustaining Peace


A press release from the United Nations

The General Assembly capped its high-level debate on peacebuilding and sustaining peace today [April 26] with a consensus resolution welcoming the Secretary-General’s January 2018 report on those activities and deciding to further discuss his recommendations to address existing gaps.

Adoption of the text, titled “Follow-up to the report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding and sustaining peace”, coincides with the passage of a similar one in the Security Council (please see Press Release SC/13319), both encouraging action by Member States and the United Nations to implement the “twin” sustaining peace resolutions of 2016.

By its terms, the Assembly invited the relevant United Nations bodies and organs — including the Peacebuilding Commission — to further advance, explore and consider implementation of the report’s recommendations and options during its current and upcoming sessions.

By other terms, the 193-member body requested the Secretary-General to present, during its seventy-third session, an interim report elaborating on his recommendations and options, including for financing United Nations peacebuilding activities.

During the seventy-fourth session, he was requested to submit a report in connection with the next comprehensive review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, focusing on continued implementation of resolution 70/262 and progress in the implementation of his recommendations and options contained in his report (document A/72/707-S/2018/43).

Throughout the day, delegates commended United Nations peacebuilding assistance as an important instrument for helping States overcome conflict and preventing its recurrence, while calling for more coordinated efforts among United Nations agencies and structures. Expressing concerns about sovereignty, several speakers called for interventions to be carried out in line with the United Nations Charter and according to the desires of Member States.

Calling for more national ownership, several underscored that peacebuilding and sustaining peace were the primary responsibility of Governments. Among them was Indonesia’s representative, who said that if the affected countries did not take charge of their destiny, lasting peace could not be achieved on the ground. The international community must listen to those countries, especially as they transitioned into the post-conflict phase.

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Question(s) related to this article:

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

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Other speakers said national efforts would only succeed with predictable and sustained financing. Calling for increased contributions to help countries with capacity-building, several delegates underscored the importance of aligning resources and working effectively with regional and local partners.

In that context, Sudan’s representative called for structural changes to humanitarian assistance and a new generation of peacekeeping, with a view of boosting development. Noting that the lack of development was a main reason behind the conflict in his country, he said investment was needed to help achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adding that the transfer of peacekeeping assistance towards that agenda would have a major impact on States.

Trinidad and Tobago’s delegate highlighted the unique security concerns of small island developing States, which must rely on the rule of law, strict observance of the Charter, and collective security mechanisms to guarantee their right to a secure, sovereign and peaceful existence. In her country, sustainable development was intricately linked to the safety and security of its people.

Meanwhile, the speaker from the University for Peace stressed that without education, societies would be condemned to repeating cycles of conflict and violence. That involved education for non-violence, for social inclusion and for the rule of law, with a focus on promoting skills, values and behaviours.

Reflecting on the success of the high-level meeting, Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said the international community had recognized that holistic approaches and a culture of peace were needed for sustaining peace. While that goal was a difficult task, the international community had not shied away. Indeed, amid conflict and crises, it had a shared responsibility to bring sustaining peace to the people on the ground.

In other matters, the Assembly adopted a draft decision titled “United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament”, postponing the conference and its one-day organizational meeting to a date to be determined.

Subsequently, the Assembly elected Chad and Italy as members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2020.

Also speaking were representatives of Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Serbia, Angola, Namibia, Ethiopia, Andorra, United States, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Belarus and Syria, as well as the Permanent Observers of the Holy See and the State of Palestine.

Speakers from the Inter-Parliamentary Union and International Development Law Organization also addressed the Assembly.
The representatives of Iran, Turkey and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 30 April, for the International Law Commission.

[Note: Individual Statements are available here.]

Earth Day 2018 Events Popping Up Worldwide


An article from Earth Day

Earth Day Network, the organization that coordinates Earth Day events worldwide, today [April 20] released a highlights list of Earth Day events that are taking place from Karnataka in India to Seattle in the United States of America.

“Every organization from the Smithsonian to the government of Quebec and local organizations in Rome are holding meaningful events that encompass the Earth Day spirit – global reach, local action,” said Kathleen Roger, President of Earth Day Network.

Here are just a sample of events for Earth Day 2018 that show the breath and the depth of involvement on Earth Day of government, organizations, businesses and individuals:

Earth Day The Gambia 2018, coordinated mainly by volunteers, will bring in the town of Bansang, 100 public officials, experts, teachers, extension workers, community leaders, students and citizens together to learn and develop action plans to improve waste management practices. A rally at the Bakoteh Dumpsite and a beach cleanup at Serekunda Beach are part of the program. 

On Earth Day, Sunday April 22, 2018 the Earth Day Global Broadcast will air globally on PeaceChannel.com, in collaboration with Earth Day Network. Actor and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. and Rachel Carson-Begley will host. 

From the 21st through the 25th of April in the Villa Borghese (Rome, Italy) an event will take place organized by Earth Day Italia and the Focolare Movement. The event will include five days of music, sport, culture and activities dedicated to the protection of the planet. The 2018 event will focus in particular on the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through 5 talk shows dedicated to the 5Ps of sustainability: People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership, Peace.

Sappraiwan Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand has committed to planting 300 trees on this Earth Day.  They are partnering with the Phitsanulok Province Government to give 300 trees to the community on Earth Day and help them plant the trees. Residents may choose to plant the tree at their home or at the Sanctuary.

Tokyo, Japan joins the world in celebrating Earth Day with an array of events coordinated under the Green Room Festival that attracts thousands of people.  NGO’s and other charities are spreading the word. The events include beach clean ups, music presentation, arts exhibits and yoga classes. 

Earth Day Network has relaunched its Billion Acts of Green campaign in China for Earth Day 2018 with the theme of ‘End Plastic Pollution’. Events will the held with the participation of schools, college student associations, museums and local nonprofits to educate and activate people to prevent plastic pollution from affecting human’s health and littering our environment. As of now there are 37 events registered in 22 cities in China and they are expecting at least 20,000 participates.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has 37,000 personnel involved in Earth Day. The USACE is comprised of nine divisions and 45 districts covering the entire United States and more than 91 foreign countries. 

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Question for this article:

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

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A “No-Plastic” pop-up event will take place in Karnataka State in India. The event will bring together organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power, and zero-waste living. The event will include workshops led by these leaders who will talk about their journey in low pollution living and equip the audience with methods through which they can start their own journeys.

Now live for Earth Day, the #StirCrazy campaign aims to eradicate plastic stirrers from the world by 2020.  It combines chains (coffee and food stores and suppliers) and the public and government including Romania and UK. 

The Native American Student Association at Mississippi Southern State University will be holding an Earth Day Fair on April 20, with tabling and live music in front of the Billingsly Student Union in Hattiesburg, MS, USA.

The Great American Clean Up will take place in Palm Beach, FL, USA to encourage citizens to get involved with efforts to remove waste from the environment and drastically improve their communities. 

The Bi-State Watershed Cleanup is an annual event taking place along the Hackensack River Watershed to clean waste and debris from the waterbodies in both New York and New Jersey, USA. The Park Ridge Green Team received the 2013 State of NJ Clean Water Award and the 2015 Collaboration Award from Sustainable Jersey. 

A zero-waste recycling expo will take place on Earth Day in Colchester, UK. Its goals are to inspire and promote the repair, reuse, and recycling of all materials to a wider audience. 

In an event titled Earth Day – A Day on Environmental Protection for the Benefit of All, in London, UK on the 22nd of April, there will be an event including world renowned speaking topics related to the preservation of our planet, global/local issues like sustainability, and plastics pollution. There will also be a panel discussion, short films, and stalls promoting local green businesses, and fun activities for all ages. 

Earth Day by the Bay will take place in San Francisco, California, USA and around the greater Bay Area. The planned event is a family friendly, sustainable and educational expo celebrating Earth Day! 

Earth Day at the Finnish Embassy co-sponsored by Earth Network, “A Dialogue on Ending Plastic Pollution – Opportunities for the Public and Private Sectors,” will take place on Monday, April 23 in Washington, DC, USA.
The National Museum of Natural History in Santiago, Chile has invited citizens to participate on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 April to celebrate Earth Day with talks on biodiversity conservation, extension and trees. 

Earth Day, New York University, and the government of Quebec event April 20 in New York, USA co-sponsored by Earth Day Network will explore ways to stem plastic pollution, especially from plastic bags.

Bullitt Foundation Earth Day 2018 – Denis Hayes, the original coordinator of Earth Day 1970 and Chair Emeritus of Earth Day Network as well as President and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle, USA, held an Earth Day event on April 17.  

The Sierra Club has released its list of things people can do on Earth Day.


The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN), the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, works with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries to build environmental democracy and to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. For more information, visit  www.earthday.org

Snapshots of March for Science Signs Across the Globe


A photo essay by Kimberly M. S. Cartier from Eos: Science policy and funding (abbreviated)

For the second year in a row, people across the United States and on all seven continents held rallies in support of science. Speakers and marchers at more than 230 events around the world advocated for increasing diversity in science, defending science from funding cuts and government interference, and promoting science literacy and trust.

Saturday’s March for Science events [April 14] may have drawn smaller crowds than last year, but the participants were as enthusiastic as ever about the advancement of science. Here are some of our favorite posters that captured the spirit of these marches.

Demonstrators holding signs at the 2018 March for Science in Washington, D. C. Credit: Peter Weiss

@WIRED Science Siyu Feng, a PhD student in biology at UCSF, is one of many participants at San Francisco’s #MarchforScience today.

Marchers in New York City, this time with a math pun. @jonathanrlarkin. Happened to stumble across the #marchforscience2018 today. Loved this sign.

Signs from Philadelphia, Pa. @guertin. So excited to have @PSUBrandywine students supporting science at @PHLScienceAct #RallyforScience! #STEMstudents #MarchForScience #Philly

In Los Angeles, Calif., a protester brings on the biology. @jaimecor_94 It’s @march4sciencela time y’all! #MarchForScience #MarchForScienceLA

Marchers in San Antonio, Texas, with a touch of magic. @MaremaAnne @ScienceMarchSA #MarchforScienceSA18

One protester in Colorado, calling out federal science agencies that have been known to censor information.@alibranscombe Baby’s first march in Colorado #MarchForScience2018

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Question for this article:

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

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And in Sacramento, Calif., one demonstrator turned her attention to scientific misconduct on the international stage. Her sign translates to “No to the adjustment of science in Argentina.” @NeCesiTo1TiemP0 Make Science Great Again ! #marchforscience2018 #Sacramento

In Abuja, Nigeria, scientists and advocates marched to promote public trust in science and to emphasize that scientific advancement benefits the entire population. @ScienceAlly Standing up for science — Abuja, Nigeria. @OFABnigeria @Nigerians4GMO #marchforscience2018

Marchers of all ages in Narrandera in New South Wales, Australia, with signs saying “Science, not silence,” “Heads in books, not heads in sand,” and “Science…the spectrum of awesome.” @FionaMagic Narrandera has now been added as an official #MarchForScience location!

One marcher in London simultaneously raised awareness of rising sea levels and promoted gender diversity in science.@jfabrombacher #MarchForScience

Demonstrators at an event in Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. @SPINSciPolicy Powered by science and strengthened by diversity! Speaking up for science at the #marchforscience2018 @ScienceMarchYVR today with fellow supporters!

In Quezon City in the Philippines advocates held signs proclaiming “Climate justice” and “March for science, march for the people.” In Blantyre, Malawi, supporters’ signs read “Science not silence” and “Mad scientist.” And in Chennai, India, activists marched with placards urging “Science unites! Stand up for science!” and “Defend science and scientific outlook.”@luckytran Happy #MarchforScience day! One of my favorite parts of waking up today is seeing so many photos of communities standing up for science, equity, & justice all around the world. See you in the streets! #KeepMarching

Meanwhile in Antarctica, the team of climate scientists at Neumayer Station III proclaimed, in the translated words of Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, “Knowledge and recognition are the joy and the right of humanity.”@AWI_Media
Message of support from Antarctica: overwinterer at the Neumayer Station support the #MarchForScience @ScienceMarchDC