All posts by CPNN Coordinator

About CPNN Coordinator

Dr David Adams is the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Letter To President Biden: Sign The Nuclear Ban Treaty!


From the website Nuclear Ban

January 22, 2023 to: President Joe Biden, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden,

We, the undersigned, call on you to immediately sign, on behalf of the United States, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), also known as the “Nuclear Ban Treaty.”

Mr. President, January 22, 2023 marks the second anniversary of entry into force of the TPNW. Here are six compelling reasons why you should sign this treaty now:

1. It’s the right thing to do. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk increases with every passing day that these weapons will be used.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the world stands closer to “doomsday” than at any point even during the darkest days of the Cold War. And the use of even one nuclear weapon would constitute a humanitarian disaster of unparalleled proportions. A full-scale nuclear war would spell the end of human civilization as we know it. There is nothing, Mr. President, that could possibly justify that level of risk.

Mr. President, the real risk we are facing is not so much that President Putin or some other leader will purposely use nuclear weapons, although that is clearly possible. The real risk with these weapons is that human error, computer malfunction, cyber attack, miscalculation, misunderstanding, miscommunication, or a simple accident could so easily lead inexorably to a nuclear conflagration without anyone ever intending it to.

The increased tension that now exists between the US and Russia makes an unintended launch of nuclear weapons so much more likely, and the risks are simply too great to be ignored or downplayed. It is imperative that you take action to reduce those risks. And the only way to reduce that risk to zero is to eliminate the weapons themselves. That is what the TPNW stands for. That is what the rest of the world demands. That is what humanity requires.

2. It will improve America’s standing in the world, and especially with our closest allies.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the US response to it may have greatly improved America’s standing, at least in Western Europe. But the imminent deployment of a new generation of US “tactical” nuclear weapons to Europe could quickly change all that. The last time such a plan was attempted, in the 1980s, it led to enormous levels of hostility toward the US and nearly toppled several NATO governments.

This treaty has enormous public support across the world and especially in Western Europe. As more and more countries sign on to it, its power and significance will only grow. And the longer the United States stands in opposition to this treaty, the worse our standing will be in the eyes of the world, including some of our closest allies. 

As of today, 68 countries have ratified this treaty, outlawing everything to do with nuclear weapons in those countries. Another 27 countries are in the process of ratifying the treaty and many more are lining up to do so.

Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium (and Australia) were among the countries who officially attended as observers at the first meeting of TPNW last year in Vienna. They, together with other close allies of the United States, including Italy, Spain, Iceland, Denmark, Japan and Canada, have voting populations who overwhelmingly support their countries signing the treaty, according to recent opinion polls. There are also hundreds of legislators in those countries who have signed the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) pledge in support of the TPNW, including the prime ministers of both Iceland and Australia.

It is not a question of “if,” but only of “when,” these and many other countries will join the TPNW and outlaw everything to do with nuclear weapons. As they do, US armed forces and the international corporations involved in the development and production of nuclear weapons will face increasing difficulties in carrying on with business as usual. It is already punishable with an unlimited fine and up to life in prison if found guilty of involvement with the development, production, maintenance, transportation or handling of (anyone’s) nuclear weapons in Ireland.

As it states very clearly in the US Law of War Manual, US military forces are bound by international treaties even when the US does not sign them, when such treaties represent “modern international public opinion” as to how military operations should be conducted. And already investors representing more than $4.6 trillion in global assets have divested from nuclear weapons companies because of the global norms that are shifting as a result of the TPNW.

3. Signing is nothing more than a statement of our intention to achieve a goal that the United States is already legally committed to achieving.

As you know very well, signing a treaty is not the same as ratifying it, and only once it is ratified do the terms of the treaty enter into force. Signing is just the first step. And signing the TPNW does not commit this country to a goal it is not publicly and legally committed to already; namely, the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The United States has been committed to the total elimination of nuclear weapons since at least 1968, when it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agreed to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear arsenals “in good faith” and “at an early date”. Since then, the United States has twice given an “unequivocal undertaking” to the rest of the world that it would fulfil its legal obligation to negotiate the elimination of these weapons.

President Obama famously earned a Nobel Peace Prize for committing the United States to the goal of a nuclear-free world, and you yourself have reiterated that commitment on a number of occasions, most recently on August 1, 2022, when you pledged from the White House “to continue working toward the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Mr. President, signing the TPNW would demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to actually achieve that goal. Getting all the other nuclear-armed nations to also sign the treaty would be the next step, ultimately leading to ratification of the treaty and the elimination of all nuclear weapons from all countries. In the meantime, the United States would be no more at risk of nuclear attack or nuclear blackmail than it is at present, and until ratification, would still maintain the same arsenal of nuclear weapons as it does today.

In fact, under the terms of the treaty, the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons only takes place well after ratification of the treaty, in accordance with a legally-binding timebound plan that all parties must agree to. This would allow for staged reductions according to a mutually agreed timetable, as with other disarmament treaties.

4. The whole world is witnessing in real time the reality that nuclear weapons serve no useful military purpose.

Mr. President, the whole rationale for maintaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons is that they are so powerful as a “deterrent” they would never need to be used. And yet our possession of nuclear weapons clearly did not prevent the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Nor has Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons prevented the United States from arming and supporting Ukraine despite Russia’s threats.

Since 1945, the US has fought wars in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Libya, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Possession of nuclear weapons did not “deter” any of those wars, nor indeed did possession of nuclear weapons ensure that the US “won” any of those wars.

The possession of nuclear weapons by the UK did not prevent Argentina from invading the Falkland Islands in 1982. The possession of nuclear weapons by France did not prevent them losing to insurgents in Algeria, Tunisia or Chad. The possession of nuclear weapons by Israel did not prevent the invasion of that country by Syria and Egypt in 1973, nor did it prevent Iraq from raining down Scud missiles on them in 1991. India’s possession of nuclear weapons did not stop countless incursions into Kashmir by Pakistan, nor has Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons stopped any of India’s military activities there.

It is no surprise that Kim Jong-un thinks nuclear weapons will deter an attack on his country by the United States, and yet you would no doubt agree that his possession of nuclear weapons makes such an attack more likely at some point in the future, not less likely.

President Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons against any country that tried to interfere with his invasion of Ukraine. That was not the first time anyone has threatened to use nuclear weapons, of course. Your predecessor in the White House threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation in 2017. And nuclear threats have been made by previous US Presidents and the leaders of other nuclear-armed nations going all the way back to the aftermath of World War II. 
But these threats are meaningless unless they are carried out, and they are never carried out for the very simple reason that to do so would be an act of suicide and no sane political leader is likely to ever make that choice.

In your joint statement with Russia, China, France and the UK in January of last year, you clearly stated that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” The G20 statement from Bali reiterated that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.”

What do such statements mean, Mr. President, if not the utter pointlessness of retaining and upgrading expensive nuclear weapons that can never be used?

5. By signing the TPNW now, you can discourage other countries from seeking to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.

Mr. President, despite the fact that nuclear weapons do not deter aggression and do not help win wars, other countries continue to want them. Kim Jong-un wants nuclear weapons to defend himself from the United States precisely because we continue to insist that these weapons somehow defend us from him. It is no surprise that Iran might feel the same way.

The longer we go on insisting that we must have nuclear weapons for our own defense, and that these are the “supreme” guarantee of our security, the more we are encouraging other countries to want the same. South Korea and Saudi Arabia are already considering acquiring their own nuclear weapons. Soon there will be others.

How can a world awash in nuclear weapons possibly be safer than a world without any nuclear weapons? Mr. President, this is the moment to seize the opportunity to eliminate these weapons once and for all, before more and more countries are engulfed in an uncontrollable arms race that can have only one possible outcome. Eliminating these weapons now is not just a moral imperative, it is a national security imperative.

Without a single nuclear weapon, the United States would still be the most powerful country in the world by a very wide margin. Together with our military allies, our military spending outpaces all our potential adversaries put together many times over, every single year. No country on earth comes close to being able to seriously threaten the United States and its allies – unless they have nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons are the global equalizer. They enable a comparatively small, poor country, with its people virtually starving, to nevertheless threaten the mightiest world power in all of human history. And the only way to finally eliminate that threat is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. That, Mr. President, is a national security imperative.

6. There is one final reason for signing the TPNW now. And that is for the sake of our children and grandchildren, who are inheriting a world that is literally burning down in front of our eyes as a result of climate change. We cannot adequately address the climate crisis without also addressing the nuclear threat.

You have taken important steps to address the climate crisis, through your infrastructure bill and the inflation reduction act. You have been hampered by Supreme Court decisions and a difficult Congress from achieving more of what you know is needed to fully address this crisis. And yet, trillions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into developing the next generation of nuclear weapons, along with all the other military hardware and infrastructure you have signed off on.

Mr. President, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, please use this opportunity to switch gears and begin the transition to a sustainable world for them. You don’t need Congress or the Supreme Court to sign a treaty on behalf of the United States. That is your prerogative as President.

And by signing the TPNW, we can begin the monumental shift of resources that is needed from nuclear weapons to climate solutions. By signalling the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons, you would be enabling and encouraging the vast scientific and industrial infrastructure that supports the nuclear weapons industry to begin to make that transition, along with the billions in private finance that support that industry.

And most importantly, you would be opening up a door to improved international cooperation with Russia, China, India and the EU without which no action on climate will be sufficient to save the planet.

Mr. President, as the first country to develop nuclear weapons and the only country to have ever used them in war, the United States bears a special moral responsibility to ensure they are never used again. As you yourself said in a speech on January 11, 2017, “If we want a world without nuclear weapons—the United States must take the initiative to lead us there.” Please, Mr. President, you can do this! Please take the first clear step to nuclear abolition and sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty.

Yours sincerely,

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Question for this article:

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

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* Organizations in bold = official signatories, organizations not in bold are for identification purposes only

Timmon Wallis, Vicki Elson, Co-Founders, NuclearBan.US

Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action

Darien De Lu, President, US Section, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Ivana Hughes, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

David Swanson, Executive Director, World Beyond War

Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Co-Founders, CodePink

Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Ethan Vesely-Flad, Director of National Organizing, Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA)

Melanie Merkle Atha, Executive Director, Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Susan Schnall, President, Veterans For Peace

Hanieh Jodat, Partnerships Coordinator, RootsAction

Michael Beer, Director, Nonviolence International

Alan Owen, Founder, LABRATS (Legacy of the Atomic Bomb. Recognition for Atomic Test Survivors)

Helen Jaccard, Manager, Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

Kelly Lundeen and Lindsay Potter, Co-Directors, Nukewatch

Linda Gunter, Founder, Beyond Nuclear

Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, Nuclear Resister

Nick Mottern, Co-coordinator, Ban Killer Drones

Priscilla Star, Director, Coalition Against Nukes

Cole Harrison, Executive Director, Massachusetts Peace Action

Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director, Coalition For Peace Action (CFPA)

Emily Rubino, Executive Director, Peace Action New York State

Robert Kinsey, Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Rev. Rich Peacock, Co-Chair, Peace Action of Michigan

Jean Athey, Secretary of the Board, Maryland Peace Action

Martha Speiss, John Raby, Peace Action Maine

Joe Burton, Treasurer of the Board, North Carolina Peace Action

Kim Joy Bergier, Coordinator, Michigan Stop The Nuclear Bombs Campaign

Kelly Campbell, Executive Director, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Sean Arent, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Manager, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

Andrea Jones, Government Relations and Public Policy Director, Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc.

Lizzie Adams, Green Party of Florida

Lois Gagnon, Co-Chair, Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts

Doug Rawlings, Veterans For Peace Maine Chapter

Mario Galvan, Sacramento Area Peace Action

Gary Butterfield, President, San Diego Veterans For Peace

Michael Lindley, President, Veterans For Peace Los Angeles

Dave Logsdon, President, Twin Cities Veterans For Peace

Bill Christofferson, Veterans For Peace, Milwaukee Chapter 102

Philip Anderson, Veterans For Peace Chapter 80 Duluth Superior

John Michael O’Leary, Vice President, Veterans For Peace Chapter 104 in Evansville, Indiana

Jim Wohlgemuth, Veterans For Peace The Hector Black Chapter

Kenneth Mayers, Chapter Secretary, Veterans for Peace Santa Fe Chapter

Chelsea Faria, Demilitarize Western Mass

Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Program Director, Center for Nonviolent Solutions, Worcester, MA

Mari Inoue, Co-Founder, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World

The Rev. Dr. Peter Kakos, Maureen Flannery, Nuclear Free Future Coalition of Western Mass

Douglas W. Renick, Chair, Haydenville Congregational Church Peace and Justice Steering Committee

Richard Ochs, Baltimore Peace Action

Max Obuszewski, Janice Sevre-Duszynka, Baltimore Nonviolence Center

Arnold Matlin, Co-Convenor, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace

The Rev. Julia Dorsey Loomis, Hampton Roads Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (HRCAN)

Lorie Cartwright, Trustee, New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution Inc.

Jessie Pauline Collins, Co-Chair, Citizens’ Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT)

Keith Gunter, Chair, Alliance To Halt Fermi-3

Hendrica Regez, Chair, Galena Green Team

Julie Levine, Co-Director, MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles

H.T Snider, Chair, One Sunny Day Initiatives

Topanga Peace Alliance

Ellen Thomas, Director, Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Future

Lynn Sableman, Branch President, WILPF St. Louis

Mary Faulkner, President, League of Women Voters of Duluth

Sister Clare Carter, New England Peace Pagoda

Tracy Powell, No More Bombs

Ann Suellentrop, Program Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City

Robert M. Gould, MD, President, San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility

Cynthia Papermaster, Coordinator, CODEPINK San Francisco Bay Area

Patricia Hynes, Traprock Center for Peace and Justice

Christopher Allred, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

Jane Brown, Newton Dialogues on Peace and War

Steve Baggarly, Norfolk Catholic Worker

Mary S Rider and Patrick O’Neill, Founders, Father Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker

Jill Haberman, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

Rev. Terrence Moran, Director, Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity/Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Thomas Nieland, President Emeritus, UUFHCT, Alamo, TX

Henry M. Stoever, Co-Chair, PeaceWorks Kansas City

Rosalie Paul, Coordinator, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Maine

New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN)

Craig S. Thompson, White House Antinuclear Peace Vigil

Jim Schulman, President, A Thousand Friends of Virginia’s Future

Mary Gourdoux, Border Peace Presence

Alice Sturm Sutter, Uptown Progressive Action, New York City

Donna Gould, Rise and Resist NY

Anne Craig, Reject Raytheon Asheville

Nancy C. Tate, LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern)

Marcia Halligan, Kickapoo Peace Circle

Marie Dennis, Assisi Community

Mary Shesgreen, Chair, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice

Jean Stevens, Director, Taos Environmental Film Festival

Mari Mennel-Bell, Director, JazzSLAM

Diana Bohn, Coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action

Nicholas Cantrell, President, Green Future Wealth Management

Mary Hanson, Chair, Seattle Fellowship of Reconciliation

Charles Michaels, Coordinator, Pax Christi Baltimore

Sven Lovegren, Coordinator, UUCA Peace Network

Rachel Roberts Bliss, Founder and Administrator, Western North Carolina for Peace

Jane Leatherman Van Praag, President, Wilco Justice Alliance (Williamson County, TX)

Ernes Fuller, Vice Chair, Concerned Citizens for SNEC Safety (CCSS)

The World Is My Country

Carmen Trotta, Catholic Worker

Paul Corell, Shut Down Indian Point Now!

Patricia Always, West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

Thea Paneth, Arlington United for Justice with Peace

Carol Gilbert, OP, Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters

Susan Entin, Church of St. Augustine, St. Martin

Maureen Doyle, MA Green Rainbow Party

Lorraine Krofchok, Director, Grandmothers for Peace International

Jasmin Nario-Galace, Facilitation Committee, Pax Christi Asia-Pacific

Bill Kidd, MSP, Convenor, Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament

Ed Lehman, President, Regina Peace Council

Dr David Hutchinson Edgar, Chairperson, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament / An Feachtas um Dhí-Armáil Núicléach

Marian Pallister, Chair, Pax Christi Scotland

Ranjith S Jayasekera, Vice President, Sri-Lanka Doctors for Peace and Development

Juan Gomez, Chilean Coordinator, Movimiento Por Un Mundo Sin Guerras Y Sin Violencia

Darien Castro, Co-Founder, Wings for Amazon Project

Loreta Castro, Co-President, Pax Christi Philippines

Lynda Forbes, Secretary, Hunter Peace Group Newcastle, Australia

USA: Ilhan Omar Vows to Continue Speaking Out Against Israel’s Abuse of Palestinians


An article by Jake Johnson in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.)

Rep. Ilhan Omar vowed Thursday that the House GOP’s vote to remove her from the chamber’s foreign affairs panel would not stop her from criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, a pledge that came after the Israeli government carried out  its latest bombing campaign in the occupied Gaza Strip.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks to reporters on February 2, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“My critique of our foreign policy, Israel’s policy towards Palestinians, or that of any foreign nation will not change,” Omar (D-Minn.) wrote in a Twitter post   following passage of a Republican resolution forcing her off the House Foreign Affairs Committee—a seat she has used to speak out against human rights violations and demand accountability   for war crimes, including those committed by the U.S. and Israel.

“As a person who suffered the horrors of war and persecution,” Omar added, “my advocacy will always be for those that suffer because of the actions of governments.”

The House vote was held hours after Israel’s far-right government launched a series of airstrikes in the densely populated “open-air prison” of Gaza, bombings that came a week after Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians at a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. When two rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza in the wake of the massacre, Israel bombarded the enclave, reportedly hitting a refugee camp at the center of the strip.
During t
he floor debate ahead of the GOP resolution’s passage, Republican lawmakers made clear that Omar’s criticisms of Israeli policy—which are frequently conflated with antisemitism  —were a driving force behind the effort to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) specifically cited Omar’s past characterization of Israel as an “apartheid” state, calling the description “appalling”—even though mainstream organizations, including Human Rights Watch   and Amnesty International, have offered the same assessment of Israel’s decades-long occupation and brutalization of Palestinians.

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Question for this article

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

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“Rep. Ilhan Omar was booted off of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today for one reason only: her firm and unequivocal opposition to Israel’s brutal apartheid rule over the Palestinian people,” wrote   Josh Ruebner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the former policy director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

“All other pretexts,” Ruebner argued, “are just designed to obscure this fact.”

The House GOP passed its resolution kicking Omar off the powerful committee as rights groups warned that Israel is ramping up its assault on Palestinian rights and livelihoods.

“This circus is happening while the Israeli government is escalating an entirely new phase of state violence against Palestinians,” Beth Miller, political director of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, told The Intercept’s Akela Lacy, who argued   Thursday that congressional Democrats “paved the way” for the GOP’s attacks on Omar.

“If you actually look at what the Israeli government is doing right now,” Miller said, “the mask is off completely.”

Over the weekend, Israel moved to seal—and signaled plans to demolish—the West Bank homes of two Palestinians suspected of deadly attacks against Israelis. Human Rights Watch condemned   Israel’s response as an act of “collective punishment.”

“Deliberate attacks on civilians are reprehensible crimes,” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Thursday. “But just as no grievance can justify the intentional targeting of civilians in Neve Yaakov, such attacks cannot justify Israeli authorities intentionally punishing the families of Palestinian suspects by demolishing their homes and throwing them out on the street.”

Amnesty International noted earlier   this week that Israeli forces killed 35 Palestinians in January alone. Last year was one of the deadliest in decades   for Palestinians in the occupied territories.

“The devastating events of the past week have exposed yet again the deadly cost of the system of apartheid,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general. “The international community’s failure to hold Israeli authorities to account for apartheid and other crimes has given them free rein to segregate, control, and oppress Palestinians on a daily basis, and helps perpetuate deadly violence.”

“Apartheid is a crime against humanity, and it is frankly chilling to see the perpetrators evade justice year after year,” Callamard added. “Israel has long attempted to silence findings of apartheid with targeted smear campaigns, and the international community allows itself to be cowed by these tactics. Until apartheid is dismantled there is no hope of protecting civilian lives, and no hope of justice for grieving families in Palestine and Israel.”

Pope Francis: “Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hands off Africa”


An article from Pagina12 (translation by CPNN)

Pope Francis denounced on Tuesday “the economic colonialism” that loots the resources of Africa, shortly after arriving in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is the first leg of an African tour.”Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hands off Africa. Stop suffocating it. Africa is not a mine to be exploited or a land to be plundered”.

frame from video of Pope’s visit

“May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny,” Francis proclaimed before the authorities and the country’s diplomatic corps. In a speech at the presidential palace in Kinshasa, the Pope stated that the country’s history has been torpedoed by conflicts but also by the domination of foreign interests. “After political colonialism, an equally enslaving ‘economic colonialism’ has been unleashed. Thus, this country, abundantly pillaged, is not able to benefit sufficiently from its immense resources,” said the 86-year-old pontiff.

“The poison of greed has bloodied its diamonds. It is a drama to which the most economically advanced world often closes its eyes, ears and mouths. However, this country and this continent deserve to be respected and listened to,” added the Argentine Pope in his applauded speech.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a huge central African country that gained independence from Belgium in 1960, has huge mineral reserves, but is one of the poorest countries on the planet.

About two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2.15 a day, according to the World Bank. Likewise, the east of the country has been devastated by armed conflicts. For this reason, Francis encouraged peace efforts, stressing that “we cannot get used to the blood that has flowed in this country for decades.”

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of the article)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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He also stressed the importance of having “free, transparent and credible elections” in a country that plans presidential elections on December 20. “We must not allow ourselves to be manipulated or bought by those who want to keep the country in violence, to exploit it and do shameful business,” Francisco added. Sitting next to him was Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who came to power in 2018 in a highly disputed election.

Banners and chants

Joy overflowed the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, where Pope Francis arrived, who was received with banners, songs and in the midst of a strong security device.

“The Pope is here, no more useless fights. This is the support that the country was waiting for to be better served by the international community. We are happy,” Aime Mboyo, one of the hundreds of thousands of fervent Catholics and religious who rushed to receive the pontiff.

At Kinshasa’s Ndjili International Airport – where he was received by the Congolese Prime Minister, Sama Lukonde – and along Lumumba Boulevard, one of the main arteries of the city that Francis traveled in the popemobile, the faithful vibrated by waving their banners and palms. “We are a country of peace and hospitality. The Pope is at home and he can stay here if he wants to,” said Angélique Mutombo, an old woman waving a handkerchief with her hands from the Limete neighborhood in the northeast of the capital. the image of the pontiff.

In addition to the faithful, a strong security device made up of thousands of agents was activated this Tuesday in the capital. Large portraits of the Pope hung on billboards and banners with a welcoming message, such as “Welcome to our home”, were the accessories in the shower of crowds that accompanied Francis as he walked down the avenue on his way to the Palace of the Nation, where he would meet with President Tshisekedi.

“We deployed 7,500 members of the Congolese National Police to guarantee good security for this great guest in the country,” said General Sylvain Kasongo, the police officer in Kinshasa.

(Editor’s note: According to CNN , “on Friday the pope leaves Kinshasa for South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where he’ll be joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. “This will be a historic visit,” Welby said. “After centuries of division, leaders of three different parts of (Christianity) are coming together in an unprecedented way.”)

Lula’s address to CELAC “Nothing should separate us, since everything brings us together”


An article from Peoples Dispatch (republished under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license)

The much awaited return of Brazil to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was celebrated during the VII Summit of the bloc on Tuesday January 24. In his opening address to the Summit, Argentine President Alberto Fernández highlighted the return of Brazil to the bloc and emphasized that “a CELAC without Brazil is a much emptier CELAC”. 

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva addresses the VII CELAC Heads of State Summit. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert

Fernández received Lula on Monday January 23 at the Casa Rosada, the seat of the Argentine government, and the two leaders defended the resumption of diplomacy and cooperation between the two largest economies in South America.

Brazil left the CELAC during the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL), a measure that Lula classified as “inexplicable”.
In his speech, the Brazilian president defended points that can collaborate towards regional integration and a “peaceful world order”, such as the potential to participate in the energy transition of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Read the full speech of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva below:

Dear friend Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina, President pro tempore of CELAC and world football champion, who fraternally welcomes us in Buenos Aires,

Dear fellow heads of state and government of the countries that make up our region, and our friends who are present,

As fate would have it, Comrade Alberto Fernández, my first activity outside the country in this new mandate was in Argentina, and for a Summit meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations.

In my first speech after the election results, I stated that Brazil was returning to the world. Nothing could be more natural than to start this path of return through CELAC.

Throughout the successive Brazilian governments since the re-democratization, we have worked hard and with a sense of mission towards regional integration and the consolidation of a peaceful region, based on relations marked by dialogue and cooperation. The unfortunate exception was the recent years when my predecessor took the inexplicable decision to withdraw Brazil from CELAC.

During my first two mandates, I was dedicated, along with so many that I see gathered here today around this table, to the task of building a Latin America based on bonds of trust.

It is with great joy and very special satisfaction that Brazil is back in the region and ready to work side by side with all of you, with a very strong sense of solidarity and proximity.

Today I renew, with emotion, the spirit that animated us in 2008, when we hosted in Costa do Sauípe, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, the first Latin American and Caribbean Summit, which three years later would evolve into the format of this Community.

That meeting had a historical meaning that is still very current. Because it was the first time that the heads of state and government of Latin America and the Caribbean came together, without any foreign tutelage, to discuss our problems and seek our own solutions to the challenges we share.

This spirit – of solidarity, dialogue, and cooperation – in a region of the size and importance of Latin America and the Caribbean could not be more current and necessary.

The world is going through a time of multiple crises: pandemics, climate change, natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, pressures on food and energy security, threats to representative democracy as a form of political and social organization. All this against an unacceptable backdrop of increasing inequality, poverty, and hunger.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have stood up for Brazil and for the Brazilian institutions over the last few days in repudiation of the anti-democratic acts that took place in Brasilia. It is important to emphasize that we are a peaceful region that repudiates extremism, terrorism, and political violence.

Most of these challenges, as we know, are global in nature, and require collective responses. We do not want to import into the region particular rivalries and problems. On the contrary, we want to be part of the solutions to the challenges that belong to all.

CELAC has advanced and collaborated in this recent period to prove the importance and the potential of this mechanism. I was very pleased to learn how much has been built during the recent presidencies of Mexico and Argentina, which coincided with one of the most difficult international periods.

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Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

CELAC acted promptly during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the constitution of a plan to strengthen the production capacities of vaccines and medicines.

CELAC did not shy away from the challenges of food security, energy security, and climate change.

I am convinced that, with a pragmatic sense and based on collaboration with specialized organizations and agencies, such as FAO, WHO, and ECLAC, among many others, we have much to contribute to each of these issues.

In the area of energy, we have very special capacities to participate, in an advantageous way, in the global energy transition. We have diversified energy matrices and potential for growth in renewable and clean energies.

In addition to this, our territories are home to some of the main biomes; we have strategic natural resources, such as critical minerals; we preserve a significant portion of the planet’s biodiversity; and we are a powerhouse in aquifer resources, key to the future of humanity.

At the COP27, in Egypt, I announced that Brazil will soon convene a Summit of Amazon Countries. The cooperation that comes from outside our region is very welcome, but it is the countries that are part of these biomes that should sovereignly lead the initiatives to take care of the Amazon. That is why it is critical that we value our Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization – ACTO.

Brazil recently presented the candidacy of Belém do Pará to host the COP-30 in 2025. The support we are receiving from the CELAC countries is indispensable for us to show the rest of the world the richness of our biodiversity, the potential for sustainable development and green economy, and, of course, the importance of preserving the environment and fighting climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is a clear contribution to be made by the region to the construction of a peaceful world order, based on dialogue, the strengthening of multilateralism and the collective construction of multipolarity.

We consider essential the development and deepening of dialogues with extra regional partners such as the European Union, China, India, ASIAN and, especially, the African Union.

My friends

The various crises we are experiencing in the world today demonstrate the value of integration. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the risks associated with our excessive dependence on key inputs for the well-being of our societies.

This does not mean that we should close ourselves off from the world. It only highlights that this integration will be on better terms if we are well integrated in our region. We must join forces for better physical and digital infrastructure, for the creation of value chains between our industries, and for more investment in research and innovation in our region.

Our development strategy must go hand in hand with the reduction of inequality in its various dimensions, with guaranteed access to fundamental rights in the fields of education, health, and work, among many others. In order to grow in a sustainable way, we cannot continue to have unacceptable poverty and hunger rates, nor can we continue to live with the inequality and gender violence that affect half of our populations. It is necessary to respect and protect our Indigenous peoples that are still threatened and neglected. It is necessary to work so that the color of our skin no longer defines the future of our young people.

Nothing should separate us, since everything brings us together. Our colonial past. The intolerable presence of slavery that marked our profoundly unequal societies. The authoritarian temptations that even today challenge our democracy.

But also the immense cultural wealth of our Indigenous peoples and the African diaspora. The diversity of races, origins, and creeds. The shared history of resistance and struggle for autonomy. All this makes us feel part of something greater and feeds our search for a common future of peace, social justice, and respect in diversity.

For this reason, I could not end without paying tribute to an extraordinary Brazilian who dedicated himself to rethinking our region when a Latin American and Caribbean community was still a mirage.

Last October, Darcy Ribeiro, a public man and one of our greatest thinkers, would have turned 100 years old. Having lived in exile in the 1960s and 1970s, he was one of the first to speak of our unity in diversity. This Patria Grande, and the particular contribution to civilization that our region has to give to the world.

Brazil is once again looking to its future with the certainty that we will be associated with our neighbors bilaterally, in Mercosur, in UNASUR and in CELAC.

To comrade Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who takes over CELAC, I wish you all the luck in the world.

It is with this feeling of common destiny and belonging that Brazil returns to CELAC, with the feeling of finding oneself again.

Thank you very much.

English bulletin February 1, 2023


While it is clear that today’s older generation is mired in the culture of war, there is still the hope that the new generation, today’s youth, can start the needed change.

For that reason, it is a sign of hope that this month’s bulletin finds initiatives around the world that support the work of youth for a culture of peace.

The oldest program is that of the of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). They have announced this year’s Young Peacebuilders Program for Latin America and the Caribbean that will support 20 youth “to build more inclusive and peaceful societies.”

The youth programs of the UNAOC have been carried out regularly since 2006 when they were launched on the basis of a study and proposal that was researched and written by members of the Culture of Peace Corporation which manages CPNN.

The largest program is being launched in Colombia where President Gustavo Petro has announced a program to support 100,000 young “peace managers” as part of his plans for ” total peace” in the country. The proposal is based on a program of 10,000 “peace managers” that was implemented by Petro when he was the mayor of the capital city of Bogota.

In Gabon, the Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace continues its work that has been followed for several years now by CPNN, involving youth in the political process.

In Sri Lanka, iDove Hybrid International Youth Conference involved 300 youth from Sri Lanka, Uganda, Philippines and Kenya to foster youth based interventions for inter-religious coexistence and harmony.

In Jamaica, Youth Inspiring Positive Change (YIPC) works to train, support youth as agents of change to break the ongoing cycle of violence in that country.

This year’s International Children’s Peace Prize has been awarded to Kawasaki Rena, a 17-year old from Japan in recognition of her work to involve youth in political change. In previous years, the prize has been attributed to Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, among others.

And finally, the Basel Peace Office has announced the nine finalists of the 2023 PACEY youth award which include:

* Global Perspectives on Corporate Climate Legal Tactics (United Kingdom)
* Peace in our Schools with young Ukrainian refugees and Russian immigrants (Georgia)
* SAFNA Youth Forum database on nuclear disarmament and arms control (Switzerland)
* Adopt a tree, not a weapon (Democratic Republic of Congo)
* Ertis Mektebi school for children with special needs (Kazakhstan)
* Testimonies of victims of uranium mining in Meghalaya (India)
* Silence the Guns project of Children for Peace (Cameroon)
* Storytelling for Peace, Love, and Climate Justice by MENA Youth Network (Middle East and North Africa)
* Youth Peace Caravans in refugee settlements (Sudan/Uganda)

What we wrote in the 2006 report is still pertinent: “there is a remarkable consistency among youth in all parts of the world in their dreams and hopes for a better world. From a village in Bangladesh to an island in the Caribbean or Pacific, youth yearn for the same opportunities to become educated and to educate others to achieve a culture of peace and solidarity”, and as one youth group demanded, “Please no more declarations and statements! Young people in the Pacific want real projects that have real outcomes!”


Colombia: Government plans to provide 100,000 young peace managers with economic benefits


Policy dialogue: PaynCoP Gabon for youth participation


What is happening with solar energy?


The Elders warn urgent action on climate, pandemics, nuclear weapons needed to turn back hands of the Doomsday Clock



International Women’s Day 2023: “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”


Fifteen films bid for top prize in Africa’s premiere film fest


Iran: Key Labor Sectors Launch Major Strikes Amid Anti-State Protests


Lula: “We will rebuild relations with all the countries of the world.”

Havana Declaration Outlines Vision for Building Just World Economy


An article by Kenny Stancil in Common Dreams

Delegates to the Havana Congress on the New International Economic Order—a gathering organized  by the Progressive International and attended by more than 50 scholars and policymakers from 26 countries across all six inhabited continents—agreed over the weekend on a declaration that outlines a “common vision” for building an egalitarian and sustainable society out of the wreckage of five decades of neoliberal capitalism.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

“The crisis of the existing world system can either entrench inequalities,” the declaration asserts, or it can “embolden” popular movements throughout the Global South to “reclaim” their role as protagonists “in the construction of a new world order based on justice, equity, and peace.”

Delegates resolved to focus their initial efforts on strengthening the development and dissemination of lifesaving technologies in low-income nations.

This decision comes one year after Cuban officials announced, at a press conference convened by the Progressive International (PI), their plan to deliver 200 million homegrown  Covid-19 vaccine doses to impoverished countries abandoned by their wealthy counterparts and Big Pharma—along with tools to enable domestic production and expert support to improve distribution.

It also comes as Cuba assumes the presidency of the Group of 77 (G77), a bloc of 134 developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America where “the combined crises of food, energy, and environment” are escalating, PI noted.

“What is the common vision to guide the Global South out of this crisis?” the coalition asked. “What is the plan to win it? What is the New International Economic Order for the 21st century?”

“After two days of detailed discussions about how to transform our shared world, delegates agreed that a key priority must be to secure science and technology sovereignty,” PI general coordinator David Adler said  Sunday at the conclusion of the Havana Congress. “From pharmaceuticals to green tech, from digital currencies to microchips, too much of humanity is locked out of both benefiting from scientific advances and contributing to new ones. We will, as today’s declaration calls for, work to build ‘a planetary bloc led by the South and reinforced by the solidarities of the North’ to liberate knowledge and peoples.”

Speaking at the January 12 ceremony  during which Cuba ascended to the G77 presidency, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla emphasized the need for coordinated action across the Global South on science and tech, arguing that “scientific-technical development is today monopolized by a club of countries that monopolize most of the patents, technologies, research centers, and promote the drain of talent from our countries.”

The G77 Summit on Science, Technology, and Innovation, scheduled for September in Havana, seeks to “unite, complement each other, integrate our national capacities so as not to be relegated to future pandemics,” said Parrilla.

During his speech  on the first day of the Havana Congress, meanwhile, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called for a new non-aligned movement to “end the legalized robbery of people and Earth fueling climate catastrophe.”

(Article continued in the column on the right)

(Click here for the original Spanish version of the article)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

Read the full Havana Declaration on the New International Economic Order:

The Havana Congress,

Recalling the role of the Cuban Revolution in the struggle to unite the Southern nations of the world, and the spirit of the 1966 Havana Tricontinental Conference that convened peoples from Asia, Africa, and Latin America to chart a path to collective liberation in the face of severe global crises and sustained imperial subjugation;

Hearing the echoes of that history today, as crises of hunger, disease, and war once again overwhelm the world, compounded by a rapidly changing climate and the droughts, floods, and hurricanes that not only threaten to inflame conflicts between peoples, but also risk the extinction of humanity at large;

Celebrating the legacy of the anti-colonial struggle, and the victories won by combining a program of sovereign development at home, solidarity for national liberation abroad, and a strong Southern bloc to force concessions to its interests, culminating in the adoption of the U.N. Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order (NIEO);

Acknowledging that the project of decolonization remains incomplete, disrupted by concerted attacks on the unity of the South in the form of wars, coups, sanctions, structural adjustment, and the false promise that sovereign development might be won through integration into a hierarchical world system;

Emphasizing that the result has been the sustained divergence between North and South, characterized by the same dynamics that defined the international economic order five decades prior: the extraction of natural resources, the enclosure of ‘intellectual property,’ the plunder of structural adjustment, and the exclusion of the multilateral system;

Recognizing that despite these setbacks, the flame of Southern resistance did not die; that the pursuit of sovereign development has yielded unprecedented achievements—from mass literacy and universal healthcare to poverty alleviation and medical innovation—that enable a renewed campaign of Southern cooperation today;

Stressing that this potential for Southern unity is perceived as a threat to Northern powers, which seek once again to preserve their position in the hierarchy of the world system through mechanisms of economic exclusion, political coercion, and military aggression;

Seizing the opportunity of the present historical juncture, when the crisis of the existing world system can either entrench inequalities or embolden the call to reclaim Southern protagonism in the construction of a new world order based on justice, equity, and peace;

The Havana Congress calls to:

* Renew the Non-Aligned Movement: In the face of increasing geopolitical tensions born from a decisive shift in the global balance of power, the Congress calls to resist the siren song of the new Cold War and to renew the project of non-alignment, grounded in the principles of sovereignty, peace, and cooperation articulated at the 1955 Bandung Conference, 1961 Non-Aligned Conference, 1966 Tricontinental Conference, and beyond.

* Renovate the NIEO: To accompany the renewed non-aligned movement, the Congress calls to renovate the vision for a New International Economic Order fit for the 21st century; a vision that must draw inspiration from the original Declaration, but also account for the key issues—from digital technology to environmental breakdown—that define the present conditions for sovereign development; and to enshrine this vision in a new U.N. Declaration on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

* Assert Southern Power: The Congress recognizes that economic liberation will not be granted, but must be seized. As the original call for a New International Economic Order was won through the exercise of collective power in the coordinated production of petroleum, so our vision today can only be realized through the collective action of the South and the formation of new and alternative institutions to share critical technology, tackle sovereign debt, drive development finance, face future pandemics together, as well as coordinate positions on international climate action and the protection of national sovereignty over the extraction of natural resources.

* Accompany Cuba in the G77: The Congress recognizes the critical opportunity afforded by Cuba’s presidency of the Group of 77 plus China to lead the South out of the present crisis and channel the lessons of its Revolution toward concrete proposals and ambitious initiatives to transform the broader international system.

* Build a Planetary Bloc: The Congress calls on all peoples and nations of the world to join in this struggle to definitively achieve the New International Economic Order; to build a planetary bloc led by the South and reinforced by the solidarities of the North, whose peoples recognize their obligation to resist the crimes committed in their names; and to bring the spirit of this Havana Congress into the communities that we call home.

Tribunal in Washington Calls on President Biden to End Prosecution of Julian Assange and to Defend Rights of Journalists and Whistleblowers


An article by Chris Garaffa from Covert Action Magazine

Nearly 13 years after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released the video Collateral Murder exposing the brutal and intentional killing of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists, over 150 people packed the same room in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. for the Belmarsh Tribunal. January 20th’s sitting was the third of the Tribunal, following events in London and New York City in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Many thousands also watched the event live online. See video of Tribunal below.

Video of Tribunal

Organized by Progressive International and co-chaired by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and Croatian philosopher and author Srećko Horvat, the Belmarsh Tribunal brought together a panel of whistleblowers, activists, lawyers and more in support of Assange, WikiLeaks and journalistic freedom.

Held just two blocks from the White House, the Tribunal called on President Biden to end the prosecution of Julian Assange and to defend the rights of journalists and whistleblowers.

Belmarsh, the prison near London where Assange has been held since 2019 is a high-security facility often referred to as the “British version of Guantanamo Bay.” Beginning with the so-called “war on terrorism” in 2001, Belmarsh has been used to house suspected terrorists. Today, many of its prisoners are people who have committed brutally violent crimes like murder and rape.

States government under the Trump and Biden administrations seeks to bring him to trial in the U.S. He could face up to 175 years in prison under the Espionage Act for publishing proof of U.S. war crimes. It would be a death sentence for the 51-year-old whose physical and mental health has already deteriorated during his confinement.

Solidarity was a key theme of the event. Human rights lawyer Steven Donziger opened his remarks by saying “Half the battle is this” as he motioned around the crowded room. “It’s the solidarity,” he continued, expressing his appreciation for those who came out to defend him in his struggle. “I cannot tell you how completely uplifting that was. Part of the challenge when truthtellers speak truth to these entrenched pools of power is how to turn the attacks into opportunities.”

Donziger brought and won a lawsuit against oil company Chevron/Texaco on behalf of indigenous people in Ecuador for destruction of their lands through oil extraction in the Lago Agrio oil field. Chevron retaliated after a $9.5 billion award was levied against them, filing an outrageous RICO suit against Donziger, who was placed under house arrest for a total of 993 days (in addition to 45 days in prison) until he was finally freed in April of 2022.

Solidarity was also extended to Daniel Hale, a whistleblower who exposed the deadly U.S. targeted killing and drone program. Attorney Jesselyn Radack spoke on his case and its connection to Assange’s. Hale is being held in a Communications Management Unit (CMU) at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, A.K.A. “Gitmo North,” where his connection to the outside world is monitored and severely limited.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

“I have been shut out of my own clients’ unclassified hearings. The parts of the hearings that are public often include code words and substitutions that make the proceedings very difficult for the public to understand. In one case, the government attempted to prevent defense attorneys from using the word whistleblower, or the word newspaper.” Radack’s account suggests that should Assange be extradited to the United States, he will not be able to receive a fair and impartial trial.

The prosecution of Assange is an example of naked political aggression and intimidation. It’s not only aimed at Assange himself and WikiLeaks, but puts whistleblowers, journalists and activists squarely within the crosshairs.

Former UK Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “What’s Julian charged with? Telling the truth. Telling the truth all over the world about what governments do and what governments want to hide…I, as an elected politician, am very well aware that elected politicians don’t like being questioned on the decisions that they make. But it’s fundamental to a democratic society that they are constantly under surveillance and under question. [While] they are very keen on putting everybody else under surveillance, their decisions should be under surveillance at the same time.”

In addition to calling for the Biden administration to end his prosecution, Corbyn also called on journalists and media outlets to continue to stand up. In November 2022, an open letter from The New York Times, El Pais, Le Monde, The Guardian and Der Spiegel published an open letter with the same demand: “This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press. Holding governments accountable is part of the core mission of a free press in a democracy.”

Corbyn went further and called on journalists around the world to stand up for Assange: “I say this to journalists who may be watching this around the world: You might say ‘well ok that’s Assange, that’s different…’ sorry it’s not! It’s you as a journalist because if Julian Assange ends up in a maximum security prison in the United States for the rest of his life, every other journalist around the world will think ‘oh, should I really report this information I’ve been given? Should I really speak out about this denial of human rights, miscarriage of justice in any country around the world? Because the long arm of United States espionage might reach me and an extradition treaty might put me in that same prison.’”

Kristinn Hrafnsson, the current WikiLeaks Editor-In-Chief, appeared by video at the suggestion of his lawyers, as travel to the United States could be dangerous for him.

Hrafnsson broke down the story of WikiLeaks into two chapters: “One is about the publications, the most important journalistic work of this century. The other chapter is about the reaction to this work, and it is equally revealing.”

On one side of that reaction are the attacks on WikiLeaks and journalism, as well as the weakening of basic democratic norms, principles and domestic and international processes. On another is the attention and support that WikiLeaks, Assange and whistleblowing have received. Hrafnsson discussed his recent trip around Latin America, meeting with leaders to discuss the case.

“Argentinians, as do others in the region, know fully well the capability of the CIA in planning kidnapping or killing of individuals.” he said of his meeting with Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina. Bolivian President Luis Arce “fully committed himself in support of Assange.” The newly-elected President of Brazil, Lula, said “the fight to end the injustice entailed in the Assange case would be a priority in his foreign policy.” Gusavo Petro of Colombia also provided words of support, as did Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico.

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What Steps Can the US Take to Foster Peace Talks in Ukraine?


An article by Medea Benjamin and Nicholas Davies in Common Dreams

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has just issued its 2023 Doomsday Clock statement, calling this “a time of unprecedented danger.” It has advanced the hands of the clock to 90 seconds to midnight, meaning that the world is closer to global catastrophe than ever before, mainly because the conflict in Ukraine has gravely increased the risk of nuclear war. This scientific assessment should wake up the world’s leaders to the urgent necessity of bringing the parties involved in the Ukraine war to the peace table.

So far, the debate about peace talks to resolve the conflict has revolved mostly around what Ukraine and Russia should be prepared to bring to the table in order to end the war and restore peace. However, given that this war is not just between Russia and Ukraine but is part of a “New Cold War” between Russia and the United States, it is not just Russia and Ukraine that must consider what they can bring to the table to end it. The United States must also consider what steps it can take to resolve its underlying conflict with Russia that led to this war in the first place.

The geopolitical crisis that set the stage for the war in Ukraine began with NATO’s broken promises not to expand into Eastern Europe, and was exacerbated by its declaration in 2008 that Ukraine would eventually join this primarily anti-Russian military alliance.

Then, in 2014, a U.S.-backed coup against Ukraine’s elected government caused the disintegration of Ukraine. Only 51% of Ukrainians surveyed told a Gallup poll that they recognized the legitimacy of the post-coup government, and large majorities in Crimea and in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces voted to secede from Ukraine. Crimea rejoined Russia, and the new Ukrainian government launched a civil war against the self-declared “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The civil war killed an estimated 14,000 people, but the Minsk II accord in 2015 established a ceasefire and a buffer zone along the line of control, with 1,300 international OSCE ceasefire monitors and staff. The ceasefire line largely held for seven years, and casualties declined substantially from year to year. But the Ukrainian government never resolved the underlying political crisis by granting Donetsk and Luhansk the autonomous status it promised them in the Minsk II agreement.

Now former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have admitted that Western leaders only agreed to the Minsk II accord to buy time, so that they could build up Ukraine’s armed forces to eventually recover Donetsk and Luhansk by force.

In March 2022, the month after the Russian invasion, ceasefire negotiations were held in Turkey. Russia and Ukraine drew up a 15-point “neutrality agreement,” which President Zelenskyy publicly presented and explained to his people in a national TV broadcast on March 27th. Russia agreed to withdraw from the territories it had occupied since the invasion in February in exchange for a Ukrainian commitment not to join NATO or host foreign military bases. That framework also included proposals for resolving the future of Crimea and Donbas.

But in April, Ukraine’s Western allies—the United States and United Kingdom in particular—refused to support the neutrality agreement and persuaded Ukraine to abandon its negotiations with Russia. U.S. and British officials said at the time that they saw a chance to “press” and “weaken” Russia, and that they wanted to make the most of that opportunity.

The U.S. and British governments’ unfortunate decision to torpedo Ukraine’s neutrality agreement in the second month of the war has led to a prolonged and devastating conflict with hundreds of thousands of casualties. Neither side can decisively defeat the other, and every new escalation increases the danger of “a major war between NATO and Russia,” as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently Questions related to this article:

Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Continued from left column)

For years, President Putin has complained about the large U.S. military footprint in Eastern and Central Europe. But in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has actually beefed up its European military presence. It has increased the total deployments of American troops in Europe from 80,000 before February 2022 to roughly 100,000. It has sent warships to Spain, fighter jet squadrons to the United Kingdom, troops to Romania and the Baltics, and air defense systems to Germany and Italy.

Even before the Russian invasion, the U.S. began expanding its presence at a missile base in Romania that Russia has objected to ever since it went into operation in 2016. The U.S. military has also built what The New York Times called “a highly sensitive U.S. military installation” in Poland, just 100 miles from Russian territory. The bases in Poland and Romania have sophisticated radars to track hostile missiles and interceptor missiles to shoot them down.

The Russians worry that these installations can be repurposed to fire offensive or even nuclear missiles, and they are exactly what the 1972 ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union prohibited, until President George W. Bush withdrew from it in 2002.

While the Pentagon describes the two sites as defensive and pretends they are not directed at Russia, Putin has insisted that the bases are evidence of the threat posed by NATO’s eastward expansion.

Here are some steps the U.S. could consider putting on the table to start de-escalating these ever-rising tensions and improve the chances for a lasting ceasefire and peace agreement in Ukraine:

* The United States and other Western countries could support Ukrainian neutrality by agreeing to participate in the kind of security guarantees Ukraine and Russia agreed to in March, but which the U.S. and U.K. rejected.

* The U.S. and its NATO allies could let the Russians know at an early stage in negotiations that they are prepared to lift sanctions against Russia as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.

* The U.S. could agree to a significant reduction in the 100,000 troops it now has in Europe, and to removing its missiles from Romania and Poland and handing over those bases to their respective nations.

* The United States could commit to working with Russia on an agreement to resume mutual reductions in their nuclear arsenals, and to suspend both nations’ current plans to build even more dangerous weapons. They could also restore the Treaty on Open Skies, from which the United States withdrew in 2020, so that both sides can verify that the other is removing and dismantling the weapons they agree to eliminate.

* The United States could open a discussion on the removal of its nuclear weapons from the five European countries where they are presently deployed: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Turkey.

If the United States is willing to put these policy changes on the table in negotiations with Russia, it will make it easier for Russia and Ukraine to reach a mutually acceptable ceasefire agreement, and help to ensure that the peace they negotiate will be stable and lasting.

De-escalating the Cold War with Russia would give Russia a tangible gain to show its citizens as it retreats from Ukraine. It would also allow the United States to reduce its military spending and enable European countries to take charge of their own security, as most of their people want.

U.S.-Russia negotiations will not be easy, but a genuine commitment to resolve differences will create a new context in which each step can be taken with greater confidence as the peacemaking process builds its own momentum.

Most of the people of the world would breathe a sigh of relief to see progress towards ending the war in Ukraine, and to see the United States and Russia working together to reduce the existential dangers of their militarism and hostility. This should lead to improved international cooperation on other serious crises facing the world in this century—and may even start to turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock by making the world a safer place for us all.


Medea Benjamin is co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace. She is the co-author, with Nicolas J.S. Davies, of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, available from OR Books in November 2022.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist and a researcher with CODEPINK. He is the co-author, with Medea Benjamin, of War in Ukraine:

Iran: Key Labor Sectors Launch Major Strikes Amid Anti-State Protests


An article from Iran Human Rights

More than three months into anti-state protests across Iran that state security forces have been unable to crush despite the use of lethal force, oil workers, truckers, public transportation workers, and factory workers are joining other labor groups now waging strikes across the country.

“These workers are the backbone of the Iranian economy,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “The fact that so many workers are striking even while labor leaders are among the thousands who’ve been arrested since September speaks to the level of discontent against the government.”

While strikers’ demands have primarily focused on the longstanding issue of unpaid wages, chants of “Death to the dictator” can be heard in video footage  of truck drivers on strike at the Akbarabad Terminal in Tehran on November 22, echoing the anti-state slogans that have characterized the ongoing protests in Iran.

While strikers’ demands have primarily focused on the longstanding issue of unpaid wages, chants of “Death to the dictator” can be heard in video footage  of truck drivers on strike at the Akbarabad Terminal in Tehran on November 22, echoing the anti-state slogans that have characterized the ongoing protests in Iran.

Solidarity with Iran’s Protest Movement Expressed by Strikers

On November 23, 2022, the Union of Truck Owners and Drivers of Iran issued a statement  calling for nationwide strikes as of November 26 to protest the government’s lack of response to the problems facing its members.

“How can we ignore the plight of our innocent colleagues and other people in Kurdistan, Baluchistan and Izeh and other blood-stained cities?” said the statement, referring to the ongoing lethal state crackdown  on protests in multiple provinces, in which security forces have killed at least 451 people, including women and children, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency.

“The strikers, who along with the young women and men who have been protesting against the Islamic Republic’s tyranny, have shown incredible bravery in the face of the state’s ongoing violence, and they require meaningful international solidarity,” said Ghaemi.

“This includes ejecting the government of Iran  from the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) governing board, and expelling the Islamic Republic from the UN Commission on the Status of Women,” he added.

“As long as Islamic Republic security forces continue to gun down peaceful protesters and throw labor leaders behind bars, governments around the world should employ all diplomatic means of condemnation,” Ghaemi said, “including recalling ambassadors for consultations and summoning Iran’s diplomats for censure.”

(Article continued in the right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

Is there progress in the struggle for human rights in Iran?

(Article continued from the left column)

Since mid-September, when the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini in Iranian state custody sparked nationwide anti-state protests, strikes have occurred in the following industries according to social media postings by Iranian labor rights groups:

Oil and Gas
Public Transportation
Auto Manufacturing
Steel Manufacturing
Home Appliance Manufacturing
Food and Snack Manufacturing

November saw an uptick in labor strikes, with at least 20 reported in cities across at least 12 of Iran’s 31 provinces, including Tehran; Yazd; Kerhmanshah; Kurdistan; Isfahan; Hormozgan; Fars; Khuzestan; Bushehr; Qazvin; Alborz; and East Azerbaijan.

According to Article 27 of Iran’s Constitution, “Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.”

Yet peaceful labor activism is treated as a national security offense in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where independent labor unions are not recognized, strikers are often fired and risk arrest, and labor leaders are prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms. These actions are all in profound violation of the ILO’s Fundamental Principles.

While it is unknown how many laborers have been arrested in total, at least 12 labor rights activists have been arrested since September, according to research by CHRI:

Davoud Razavi – Tehran
Erfan Kahzad- Karaj
Neda Naji – Tehran
Abed Tavancheh – Tehran
Mozaffar Salehnia – Sanandaj
Lotfollah Ahmadi -Sanandaj
Zanyar Dabbaghian – Sanandaj
Khabat Dehdar – Sanandaj
Amir Chamani – Tabriz
Hossein Koshi – Tabriz
Kamran Sakhtemangar – Sanandaj
Salah Zamani – Sanandaj

Meanwhile, imprisoned labor activist Reza Shahabi was transferred from Evin Prison in Tehran to Imam Khomeini Hospital for spinal issues on November 27, according to the Free Workers Union of Iran’s Telegram channel.

The channel had previously reported on November 24 that imprisoned labor activist Nasrin Javadi, also in Evin, was suffering from severe influenza. It is not known whether she was allowed to receive proper medical treatment.

“The Islamic Republic is making a mockery of the international institutions to which it belongs by violating every one of their most basic principles,” said Ghaemi. “To maintain their credibility these institutions should take immediate action against the government of Iran.”

Read this article in Persian