Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Mayors for Peace: Join us in promoting the culture of peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An news flash from Mayors for Peace

Mayors for Peace outlines three objectives in the Vision for Peaceful Transformation to a Sustainable World (PX Vision): Peacebuilding by Cities for Disarmament and Common Security. One of them is to promote the culture of peace, which the PX Vision explains as follows:

[W]e will cultivate peace consciousness and cause the culture of peace—the culture in which the everyday actions of each member of the public are grounded in thinking about peace—to take root in civil society as the foundation of lasting world peace.

This April Issue of the Mayors for Peace News Flash features some of Mayors for Peace initiatives promoting the culture of peace. We hope these examples will inspire your city to implement initiatives.

Celebrate the month for the culture of peace

We encourage your cities to celebrate one particular month of the year as the “Month for the Culture of Peace”, holding a variety of cultural events to raise peace awareness among citizens. The aim is to have them think about the importance of peace through music, fine art, and other forms of art expressing desire for peace, as well as through sports and other activities that emotionally connect people across language barriers.

The City of Hiroshima, since 2021, has designated November as the “Month for the Culture of Peace.” This Month sees a variety of events under the theme of the culture of peace held intensively in cooperation with private sector companies and groups of citizens. These events include, for example, lectures on the culture of peace and stage performances and art exhibitions by youths. To raise the public awareness of This Month, we also put banners and run digital signage in some gathering sites and streets of city center.

“Month for the Culture of Peace 2023” by the City of Hiroshima (in Japanese): https://heiwabunka.info/

Organize Events to Commemorate the International Day of Peace

We recommend your cities organize outreach activities and commemorative events on the UN’s International Day of Peace, which is observed on September 21st every year, to have as many citizens as possible share in the wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Pass down Atomic Bomb Experiences through Testimonies

We encourage member cities to provide their citizens with opportunities to hear hibakusha’s testimony while using online video conference platforms or on video to have as many people as possible share in the hibakusha’s sincere desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons and to encourage them to take action for peace.

If your city wishes to set up an opportunity to hear a testimony online, please contact the Secretariat.

Providing opportunities to hear hibakusha’s testimony (Mayors for Peace
website): https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/testimonies/

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Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Hold Mayors for Peace Atomic Bomb Poster Exhibitions

Mayors for Peace provides member cities with “Mayors for Peace Atomic Bomb
Posters,” which visually present the realities of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, consequences of nuclear weapons use, and Mayors for Peace initiatives, featuring photos, drawings created by hibakusha, and other images. Posters are available in the following nine languages: English, German, French, Russian, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, and Japanese. To have more citizens deepen their understanding of the realities of the atomic bombings and share in the wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons, we encourage member cities to organize poster exhibitions at facilities to which many residents have access, such as city halls, community centers, and public libraries.

Mayors for Peace Atomic Bomb Poster Exhibition (Mayors for Peace website):
https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/posters/

To download the posters from the above webpage, please contact the Mayors for Peace Secretariat to obtain a user ID and a password.

Exhibition organizers are encouraged to set up a petition booth at the venue for visitors to sign the petition calling for all states to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the earliest day. The petition form and the poster encouraging people to join the petition are available on the Mayors for Peace webpage below.

Petition drives calling for all states to join the TPNW at the earliest date (Mayors for Peace website): https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/petitions/

Nurture seeds and seedlings from atomic bomb survivor trees

We distribute to member cities seeds from hibaku trees—atomic bomb
survivor trees which have survived the atomic bombings of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. We encourage you to raise second-generation hibaku
trees, which serve as symbols of peace, to help raise citizens’ peace
consciousness.

Should you wish to receive seeds from hibaku trees, please contact the
Secretariat.

Distribute and nurture seeds from atomic bomb survivor trees
(hibaku trees) (Mayors for Peace website): https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/trees/

Participate in the Children’s Art Competition “Peaceful Towns”

Mayors for Peace organizes the annual Children’s Art Competition “Peaceful Towns” for children in all the member cities to further promote peace education in the member cities.

We organize the competition this year, too. Click here for details.

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‘Make Peace More Profitable Than War,’ UN General Assembly Hears, as It Adopts Text to Mark 25 Years Of Landmark Declaration on Culture of Peace

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

As speakers discussed the importance of collective efforts to promote a culture of peace in a world torn by conflict and crisis, the General Assembly today adopted a draft resolution in pursuit of that goal, in addition to draft texts on a variety of other topics.

The draft resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/78/L.57), adopted without a vote, proposes several activities to observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action, including the convening of a day-long high-level forum during the 163-member organ’s seventy-eighth session. 


Presentation of resolution by Bangladesh ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith.

The representative of Bangladesh, who introduced the draft, recalled that Dhaka, in 1998, initiated the process leading to the Declaration, stating that his country — born out of a devastating war rooted in discrimination, intolerance and subjugation — made promoting peace fundamental to its foreign policy.  Today, amid spiralling conflict, “we must rekindle the brighter and harmonious faculties of the human minds, foster respect for equality and equal value of all human beings,” he urged. “And, most importantly, we must make peace more profitable than war.” 

In a debate on the topic, Member States outlined their views on what must be done at the international and national levels to promote a culture of peace in a fractious global context.

The representative of Brunei Darussalam, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recognized the necessity of institutionalizing a culture of prevention amid today’s sustainable-development challenges, socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination.  Voicing concern over borderless threats — such as extremist ideologies — she underscored the need to promote tolerance and mutual respect, adding: “Achieving peace among peoples and nations requires collective efforts, transcending individual endeavours.”

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Question for this article:

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

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Similarly, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, underlined the importance of multilateralism and observed: “This is the only way to respond collectively and efficiently to global crises, challenges and threats that no one can tackle alone.”  Additionally, she underscored the need to ensure freedom of the press and to protect civic space, both online and offline, and spotlighted the importance of safeguarding freedom of religion and instilling a culture of peace in children through inclusive, quality education.

For his part, Venezuela’s representative, speaking for the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, warned against mistakenly justifying racism, racial discrimination and hate speech by invoking the freedom of expression.  In that context, he condemned anti-religious sentiment, the glorification of Nazism and the stigmatization of migrants.  “Fostering understanding and respect among various cultures and religions is of paramount importance in our shared pursuit of global peace,” he emphasized.

Bahrain’s representative, also stressing the need to promote dialogue, understanding and mutual respect among religions, detailed his country’s efforts to promote tolerance and coexistence at the international and regional levels.  These include establishing the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence and calling for the adoption of an international convention to criminalize religious or racial hate speech.  He also joined others in calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility and stop the “current catastrophic humanitarian situation” in Gaza.

“Development and prosperity cannot be envisaged in a society that does not enjoy peace,” such as in Gaza, stressed the representative of Mauritania, also pointing out:  “We cannot preserve peace and stability in the midst of poverty and inequality.” Mauritania, therefore, created a national commission to provide health and education services and assist the victims of historical injustice.  He also spotlighted his country’s diplomatic efforts to enshrine peace in Africa.

In the same vein, Togo’s peace strategy for the Sahel and West Africa is based on exporting its vision of positive, authentic peace “which goes beyond the simple lack of war”, said that country’s representative.  Such vision supports democratic transitions, reconciliation efforts through mediation and inclusive governance, he said, also stressing that African ownership and responsibility are key concepts for managing crises on the continent.  Underlining the African Union’s peace and security architecture, he quoted former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela to observe:  “It is so easy to break and to destroy — heroes are those who make peace and who build.”

(Editor’s note: The resolution was initially proposed by Bangladesh, Kiribati, Qatar, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and United Republic of Tanzania and eventually co-sponsored by 112 countries. The exact list of co-sponsors had not yet been published by the UN as of May 9. The resolution this year is the same as last year’s resolution except for three paragraphs stressing that this year is the 25th anniversary of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.)

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UN Security Council Holds Rare Nuclear Disarmament Debate

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Daryl G. Kimball and Shizuka Kuramitsu in Global Issues

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa a rare, high-level UN Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation on March 18.

Although the meeting underscored the urgency of addressing the growing threats posed by nuclear weapons, it also highlighted the chronic divisions among key states on disarmament and nonproliferation issues.

“The world now stands on the cusp of reversing decades of declines in nuclear stockpiles. We will not stop moving ahead to promote realistic and practical efforts to create a world without nuclear weapons. Japan cannot accept Russia’s threats to break the world’s 78-year record of the nonuse of nuclear weapons,” she added.


Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa chairs a UN Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament in New York on March 18. She has warned that “the world now stands on the cusp of reversing decades of declines in nuclear stockpiles.” Credit: Japanese Foreign Ministry

UN Secretary-General António Guterres; Robert Floyd, executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization; and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, director of the nonproliferation program at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, were invited to brief the meeting.

All Security Council members were represented, including the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Many stressed the urgency of addressing growing nuclear weapons threats.

But the exchange also underscored the extent to which rising geopolitical tensions and long-standing divisions among leading states impede tangible progress on disarmament and nonproliferation issues.

In his opening remarks, Guterres warned that “umanity cannot survive a sequel to Oppenheimer. Voice after voice, alarm after alarm, survivor after survivor are calling the world back from the brink.”

“And what is the response?” he asked. “States possessing nuclear weapons are absent from the table of dialogue. Investments in the tools of war are outstripping investments in the tools of peace. Arms budgets are growing, while diplomacy and development budgets are shrinking.”

Guterres said the nuclear-armed states in particular “must re-engage” to prevent any use of a nuclear weapon, including by securing a no-first-use agreement, stopping nuclear saber-rattling, and reaffirming moratoriums on nuclear testing.

He urged them to take action on prior disarmament commitments under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), including reductions in the number of nuclear weapons “led by the holders of the largest nuclear arsenals, the United States and the Russian Federation, who must find a way back to the negotiating table to fully implement the and agree on its successor.”

To catalyze action, he reiterated his call for “reforms to disarmament bodies, including the Conference on Disarmament …that could lead to a long-overdue fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield criticized Russia’s “irresponsible…nuclear rhetoric” and said that “China has rapidly and opaquely built up and diversified” its nuclear arsenal. In addition, “Russia and China have remained unwilling to engage in substantive discussions around arms control and risk reduction,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield reiterated the U.S. offer to “engage in bilateral arms control discussions with Russia and China, right now, without preconditions.”

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, said that his country shares “the noble goal” of a nuclear-weapon-free world. Nevertheless, he described the possession of nuclear weapons as “an important factor in maintaining the strategic balance.”

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Polyanskiy countered criticism of Russian nuclear threats by charging that it is the “clearly Russo-phobic line of the United States and its allies creates risks of escalation that threaten to trigger a direct military confrontation among nuclear powers.”

He said the current situation is largely the result of the “years-long policy of the United States and its allies aimed at undermining the international architecture of arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation.”

Polyanskiy added, “As for the issues of strategic dialogue between Russia and the United States with a view to new agreements on nuclear arms control, they cannot be isolated from the general military-political context. We see no basis for such work in the context of Western countries’ attempts to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia and their refusal to respect our vital interests.”

Maltese Ambassador Vanessa Frazier called on the nuclear-weapon states to fulfill their disarmament obligations under the NPT. “Current tensions cannot be an excuse for the delay…. Rather they should be a reason to accelerate the implementation,” she said.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun acknowledged that “the risk of a nuclear arms race and a nuclear conflict is rising” and “he road to nuclear disarmament remains long and arduous.”

He reiterated Beijing’s long-standing position that “nuclear weapons states should explore feasible measures to reduce strategic risks, negotiate and conclude a treaty on no first use of nuclear weapons against each other” and “provide legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states.”

Apparently in response to U.S. criticism of a Chinese nuclear buildup and refusal to engage in substantive arms control and risk reduction talks, Zhang said these “allegations against China do not hold any water.”

“Demanding that countries with vastly different nuclear policies and number of nuclear weapons should assume the same level of nuclear disarmament and nuclear transparency obligations is not consistent with the logic of history and reality, nor is it in line with international consensus, and as such will only lead international nuclear disarmament to a dead end,” the Chinese envoy said.

Some states proposed new initiatives. In response to U.S. concerns that Russia may be pursuing an orbiting anti-satellite system involving a nuclear explosive device, Japan and the United States announced they will “put forward a Security Council resolution, reaffirming the fundamental obligations that parties have under this Treaty,” which prohibits the deployment of weapons in space. (See ACT, March 2024.)

Japan also announced the establishment of a cross-regional group called Friends of FMCT “with the aim to maintain and enhance political attention” and to expand support for negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

For decades, the 65-nation CD has failed to agree on a path to begin FMCT talks. Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, the UK, and the United States will join the FMCT group, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

High-level Security Council debates focused on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation have been infrequent in the post-Cold War era, and few of them result in consensus statements or resolutions.

In 2009, the council held a summit-level meeting chaired by U.S. President Barack Obama on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. It adopted Resolution 1887, which reaffirmed a “commitment to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons” and outlined a framework of measures for reducing global nuclear dangers.

In September 2016, the council adopted Resolution 2310, which reaffirmed support for the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It called on states to refrain from resuming nuclear testing and called on states that have not signed or ratified the treaty to do so without further delay.

More recently, the council has held briefings on nuclear disarmament issues but without tangible outcomes.

The last such meetings were in March 2023, when Mozambique chaired a discussion on threats to international peace and security, including nuclear dangers, and in August 2022, when China organized a meeting on promoting common security through dialogue in the context of escalating tensions among major nuclear powers.

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“We should focus on the culture of peace”: 25th demonstration in Bourges (France) for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Marie-Claire Raymond in Le Berry (translation by CPNN)

A new demonstration took place this Saturday March 30, in Bourges, against the war in Gaza, at the call of the Cher Collective. This was the twenty-fifth gathering, and it brought together between 80 and one hundred people committed to defending “lasting peace in Palestine”.

Among the comments was the regret that the “go to war” spirit has been brought to the fore in France: “For this, we waste our finances and we justify military budgets, we prepare to mobilize troops and we put the resources into military industry. Instead, we should focus on the culture of peace. »


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

Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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

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Franck Carrey, president of the international solidarity association Medina, called for “an immediate and definitive ceasefire. And unconditional access to humanitarian aid for the inhabitants of Gaza. »

“A month ago, we set up a mobile psychological support team for children,” he adds. We had a lot of trouble finding the psychologist and the facilitators. We have problems transferring funds to pay salaries. Schools are used for emergency accommodation and no longer for teaching. Politically, we must achieve a just and lasting peace. »

The Cher collective brings together twenty organizations: Attac18, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, CNT-SO, FSU, Ki-6-Col’, La Cimade, the Vigilance Committee-Madera, the LDH section of Bourges, LFI18, Medina, MJCF18, Peace Movement, NPA18, Palestine18, PCF-Fédération du Cher, PCOF18, POI, Solidaires18, UD-CGT du Cher and the Libertarian Communist Union.

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Search for Common Ground in Israel and Palestine

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

Excerpts from the webpage and videos of Search for Common Ground

Our CEO, Shamil Idriss, is currently in the heart of Jerusalem (featured here in front of the Damascus Gate), meeting with our team on the ground and other key figures. He filmed several videos to provide a few updates on the critical work happening there, and you can click the button below to view them.

Video 5. Click on image to see the video

° video 1 with an update on the work we have been doing in Israel and Palestine, including our work in Gaza with hygiene kit distributions and how we are supporting pregnant women.

° video 2 with a bit of good news in our inter-religious work in the middle of the dark situation. “We’ve been working on interfaith education for tolerance and respect for seven years now, and for the first time one of the municipalities where we work has decided to integrate the program into their planning and budget.”

° video 3 describing the look and feel on the ground and how people are affected by the war. For Israeli Jews the images of the hostages are on banners everywhere making it hard for people to imagine a secure future side by side with Palestinians. The Arab Israeli population are feeling very much under threat and traumatized by the images from Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

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

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° video 4 on how Search is working with women to take a more significant role in the peace process right now. “We’ve been working with a really powerful and growing community of women leaders, including activists, lawyers, former Knesset members, former Palestinian ministers in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv working to ensure that they are not left out of whatever peace process that will have to come out of this war. We are supporting them as they develop their own thinking and strategy for how to accelerate and influence that kind of peace process. It’s well known that peace processes that involve women last much longer and are more viable.”

° video 5 on why Shamil is in Israel to support the work on the ground and help gain more support to continue this necessary work. “I am here to support our team and maybe open a few doors for potential partners and donors. But mostly so I can be more informed when I appeal to our supporters in the States and elsewhere to support the work of peacebuilders here. Solidarity is understandable, but It’s very clear that the end of this war and the prevention of future such wars won’t come simply through solidarity. It’s going to have to come through peacebuilding. Inter-communal solidarity has to be built, even if it is unimaginable right now. The people we’ve been talking to, a former foreign minister, a former prime minister, former ministers in Ramallah, and grass roots activists as well, they recognize that the only way out of this is through a legitimate peace process ad the building of trust. So when I speak to our supporters I can can effectively appeal that in addition to any solidarity with your own community, that you support the peacebuilders here across both Palestinian and Israeli society.

We hope these videos offer a reminder that there’s nothing abstract about your partnership, that it’s issuing into real relief and peacebuilding for real people, right now.

Your commitment to peacebuilding is invaluable. Would you join us in supporting this work on the ground?

Additionally, if you’re particularly interested in peacebuilding in the Middle East, don’t miss our upcoming virtual conversation with Shamil on Thursday, March 21 at 2 p.m. ET. He will delve deeper into the situation on the ground and discuss the pathways to peace in Israel/Palestine. click here for the video

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to building a better world.

Kremlin, NATO at odds over pope’s call for Ukraine to show ‘white flag’ and start talks

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Gray in Reuters reprinted by permission

 The Kremlin on Monday(March 11) said a call by Pope Francis for talks to end the Ukraine war was “quite understandable”, but NATO’s boss said now was not the time to talk about “surrender”.


Rescuers work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged during a Russian missile attack, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine January 23, 2024. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Vatican ambassador, known as the papal nuncio, to express its “disappointment” with Francis’ comments in an interview recorded last month that Ukraine should have “the courage of the white flag” to negotiate an end to the conflict.

The ministry said the pope’s comments “legalise the right of might and encourage further disregard for the norms of international law”.

In an attempt to defuse the situation and clarify Francis’ remarks, his second in command at the Vatican said in a newspaper interview on Tuesday that the first condition for any negotiations is that Russia should halt its aggression.

As the West grapples with how to support Ukraine and the prospect of a sharp change in U.S. policy if Donald Trump wins November’s presidential election, Putin has essentially offered to freeze the battlefield along its current front lines, a premise Ukraine rejects.

“It is quite understandable that he (the pope) spoke in favour of negotiations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He said President Vladimir Putin had repeatedly said Russia was open to peace talks.

“Unfortunately, both the statements of the pope and the repeated statements of other parties, including ours, have recently received absolutely harsh refusals,” Peskov said.

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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Russia says it sent its troops into Ukraine in February 2022 in a “special military operation” to ensure its own security. Kyiv and the West decry it as a colonial-style war of conquest.

Moscow’s offers to negotiate have invariably been predicated on Kyiv giving up the territory that Moscow has seized and declared part of Russia – more than a sixth of Ukraine.

THE KREMLIN: A WESTERN MISCONCEPTION

Peskov said Western hopes of inflicting a “strategic defeat” on Russia were “the deepest misconception”, adding: “The course of events, primarily on the battlefield, is the clearest evidence of this.”

But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said negotiations that would preserve Ukraine as a sovereign and independent nation would only come when Putin realised that he would not win on the battlefield.

“If we want a negotiated, peaceful, lasting solution, the way to get there is to provide military support to Ukraine,” he told Reuters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Asked if this meant now was not the time to talk about a white flag, he said: “It’s not the time to talk about surrender by the Ukrainians. That will be a tragedy for the Ukrainians.”

He added: “It will also be dangerous for all of us. Because then the lesson learned in Moscow is that when they use military force, when they kill thousands of people, when they invade another country, they get what they want.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the nuncio, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, had been told the pope “would be expected to send signals to the world community about the need to immediately join forces to ensure the victory of good over evil.”

Ukraine wanted peace, it said, but one that was fair and based on U.N. principles and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s peace plan.

Zelenskiy said on Sunday the pontiff was engaging in “virtual mediation” and his foreign minister said Kyiv would never capitulate.

Zelenskiy, who signed a decree in 2022 ruling out talks with Putin, said last week Russia will not be invited to a peace summit due to be held in Switzerland.`

Zelenskiy’s peace plan calls for a withdrawal of Russian troops, a return to Ukraine’s 1991 borders, and due process to hold Russia accountable for its actions. Russia says it cannot hold any talks under such a premise.

Ukrainian Pacifists Decide to Participate in Implementation of the Ukrainian Peace Formula

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A report by video from the Ukrainian pacifist movement

At the general assembly of Ukrainian Pacifist Movement on 24.02.2024, on the sad occasion of two years anniversary of lethal and devastating Putin’s invasion, a statement was adopted regarding participation of unarmed pacifist forces in implementation of the Ukrainian peace formula. Also, practical approaches to nonviolent resistance to Russian aggression, human rights defense and organizational questions were discussed. New members Afanasiy Kolisnyk, Viacheslav Zastava, and Oleksandr Ivanov solemnly proclaimed the WRI declaration.

Executive secretary Yurii Sheliazhenko reported about advocacy of legal guarantees of the right to conscientious objection to military service, protests against anti-constitutional draft laws with draconian measures to impose mandatory military registration, situation with the persecution of conscientious objectors to military service and activists of the peace movement. The general assembly unanimously approved a decision of the executive secretary to expel Ruslan Kotsaba for refusal to participate in nonviolent resistance to Russian aggression and violations of principles of peaceful communication.

Participation of unarmed pacifist forces in implementation of the Ukrainian peace formula (A statement, adopted by the general assembly of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement on 24 February 2024).

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, bearing in mind the formula that peace is not equal to war (Peace≠war), supports and will implement in our activities the values of peace, democracy, and justice, declared in the Ukrainian peace formula of President Zelensky.

° We agree with condemnation of Russian aggression, demands of withdrawal of troops and compensations of damages.

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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° Nobody could feel safe while the war is considered normal and dictates its rules of lawlessness.

° We will act on the basis of belief that democratic society and democratic world must be united for common good and common security.

° We will resist nonviolently to Russian aggression and all forms of militarism and war.

° We will support preservation and development of democracy. We will protect  human rights and rule of law.

° Pacifism is a vital part of diversity of thoughts and beliefs in the democratic society. We will preserve pacifist identity, which gives hope for better future without wars, and we will uphold our right to refuse to kill.

Practical approaches to nonviolent resistance to Russian aggression

– Society and the state must unite for nonviolent resistance and unarmed protection of civilians.

– The basis of nonviolent resistance is individual and collective action as a manifestation of values: reason, conscience, hope, truth, love, dialogue, work.

– Keeping the light and banishing the darkness from your home is also a resistance to the aggression that awakens our dark instincts

– In the unofficial discussion group of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, methods and joint actions for non-violent resistance to Russian aggression and all forms of war, tyranny and militarism should be discussed, starting with the simplest ones, which can be practiced both independently and together with others: spreading hopes, visions, knowledge for a future just peace; to seek honest and dignified reconciliation and understanding in peaceful dialogue; care about your own safety by avoiding risks (shelter, relocation, etc.); to speak the truth against war propaganda; protect human rights, especially the absolute right to conscientious objection to military service, by all legal means; to refuse cooperation and manifest civil disobedience to Russian aggression and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the military and militant authorities.

– We confirm the decision: to endorse refusal to kill, protection of human rights, peace education, truth telling, political protests, international solidarity as forms of nonviolent resistance; support activists of peaceful resistance to militarism and war in Ukraine and everywhere in the world, including the occupied territories of Ukraine; prepare a report on perspectives of resistance.

The UN Summit of the Future: a fight at the end of the tunnel?

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

An article by Richard Gowan for Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

Ongoing crises keep multilateralism in turmoil, but ambitious reforms are still on the table. What to expect from the September 2024 UN Summit of the Future?

Germany faces a tough task trying to build consensus among members of the United Nations on how to strengthen multilateralism in the year ahead. The German mission in New York is working with Namibia to facilitate preparations for the Summit of the Future, an event that will take place during the annual high-level week of UN meetings in September 2024.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres originally proposed this summit in 2021 as an opportunity for presidents and prime ministers to debate improvements to the global system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with arguments over Ukraine and Gaza simmering at the UN, diplomats fear it will be hard to make new agreements on international cooperation this year.

The right summit at the wrong time?

Guterres and his advisers argue that it is necessary to take a hard look at the state of multilateralism for three main reasons. Firstly, it is clear that existing international institutions lack the mechanisms and authority necessary to deal with challenges such as pandemics and climate change effectively. Secondly, there are as yet no serious global regimes to regulate new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), which the Secretary-General predicts will profoundly reshape societies, economies and international relations. Lastly, many non-Western countries feel that they lack real influence at the UN and in other international organizations, where the U.S. and European countries often still dominate decision-making.

The mood at the UN is currently very sour

In a best-case scenario, the Summit for the Future would be an opportunity for UN members to tackle these challenges simultaneously, reforming existing institutions to make them more inclusive and effective, and establishing new bodies to fill gaps in the system. Guterres has, for example, floated the idea of establishing a new international agency to regulate the uses of A.I., as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) oversees the uses of nuclear power.

While diplomats acknowledge the Secretary-General’s breadth of vision, many question whether this is a propitious moment to tackle such big issues. The mood at the UN is currently very sour. Developing countries have become increasingly vocal in criticizing richer states’ failures to meet past pledges to invest more in development aid and climate adaptation. The war between Hamas and Israel has reopened old wounds in the UN General Assembly. The bulk of states from the so-called “Global South” have condemned the U.S. and many European countries for failing to show solidarity with the Palestinians. Arab diplomats ask how the UN can hold talks on “the future” when there is no future for young people in Gaza.

A ‘Pact for the Future’: Germany and Namibia taking the lead

Germany and Namibia have volunteered for the unenviable task of managing preparations for the Summit of the Future against the bleak backdrop. The two co-facilitators are working on the initial draft of a Pact for the Future for leaders to adopt in September. Once they circulate this text – which is meant to be ready by the end of January – negotiations on the document will begin in earnest. This is likely to be a grinding and protracted process, as the General Assembly has agreed that UN members will have to agree the final Pact by consensus.

An opportunity for civil society groups that advocate a stronger multilateral system

This is not a prospect that fills New York-based diplomats with glee. Many see the existence of the summit as a problem to be solved, not an opportunity to be seized. But this may be a mistake.  For as long as hostilities drag on in Gaza, it will be difficult to focus on the Pact of the Future.

But if and when the war recedes, talking about improving the international system – even in quite technical ways – could be one pathway to restoring some sense of common purpose among UN members, although it is unlikely to erase memories of recent disputes. The Summit is also an opportunity for civil society groups that advocate for a stronger multilateral system to focus attention on global issues, even if they cannot secure big reforms.

Mind the gaps: climate change and human rights missing

While Germany and Namibia led preparatory talks on the substance of the Pact last year, UN members were only able to agree on a skeletal outline. There will be chapters on: peace and security; development; science and technology; future generations and global governance. UN officials and diplomats say that they expect the paper to be 20 to 30 pages in length at most, and to be pitched at the strategic level. This means that even if negotiators do agree to some big reforms in principle through the Pact, it won’t go deep into the details.

The exact contents are still up for debate

Some observers have highlighted two potentially worrying gaps in this outline. One is climate change, which Guterres has previously argued should be an overarching theme for the organization.  UN officials say that they hope the Pact will endorse existing agreements and processes for dealing with global warming, even if it doesn’t propose any new ones. The second notable omission from the outline is a dedicated chapter on human rights, although the Pact is supposed to refer to the rights-related dimensions of the other topics it covers. Many Western diplomats worry that the UN system as a whole is paying less attention to rights issues than in the early post-Cold War period, and are likely to insist that the Pact refers to common values and freedoms.

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Question for this article:

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

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More broadly, the exact contents of the Pact are still up for debate. The negotiators have no shortage of material. In the course of 2023, Guterres released a series of eleven policy briefs  on issues ranging from education to the governance of outer space to stimulate the negotiations. He also convened a High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism  which released a report on potential reforms to international institutions last summer. But everyone involved in the process recognizes that UN members will pick and choose topics.

Reforming the international financial architecture

It seems certain that developing countries will want to focus a lot of upcoming discussions around the Pact on the oversight and activities of international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Many non-Western officials would like to gain a greater share of decision-making power in these institutions, which are currently still dominated by the U.S., the EU and other major Western economies.  They would also like to see these global lenders make it easier for poor countries to access financing. While the Biden administration and European governments agree that it is necessary to get money flowing to vulnerable nations, it may be harder to get a deal on governance reforms.

UN Security Council reform

Another tricky global governance issue waiting in the wings is UN Security Council reform. Since Russia used its veto to block criticism of its all-out aggression against Ukraine in 2022, many UN members have argued that it is time to overhaul the membership and rules of the Council. While the Biden administration has also used its veto to protect Israel from pressure over its campaign in Gaza, the U.S. still claims to want reform. Germany, as a long-time aspirant to a permanent Council seat, might like to see progress too. There is, however, no chance that UN members will agree on a broadly acceptable model for reform in the next nine months. The best possible outcome may be for member states to agree to hold a set of high-level talks on the issue pegged to the 80th anniversary of the UN Charter in 2025.

Governing A.I. and other new technologies

If Security Council reform is a well-worn subject for UN diplomacy, the planned chapter of the Pact on “science and technology” could open up new fields for discussion.  In addition to his proposal for an IAEA-type body to oversee A.I., Guterres has proposed  that UN members agree a treaty banning Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) by 2026, and establish new mechanisms to manage biotechnologies. Some powerful players at the UN agree that it is time to start developing more international rules of the road in this area. The U.S. has floated a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution on the use of A.I. to promote sustainable development. In parallel with the main Pact for the Future process, Sweden and Zambia are co-facilitating talks on a Global Digital Compact  which could also be adopted in September; this agreement would outline guiding principles for managing the internet, A.I., and data.

Coalitions of member states may table more ambitious side agreements

But if this is a good time to talk about new technologies, diplomats and scientific experts seem less convinced that this is the right moment to establish new institutions and binding agreements around those new technologies. Marietje Schaake, a former Member of the European Parliament who participated in a panel advising Guterres on A.I. last year, recently argued  that it is premature to start designing new agencies to govern this evolving field. Instead, she argues that governments and A.I. developers need to hammer out the basic principles and laws that should govern A.I. before building international frameworks to monitor them. The Summit of the Future offers a hook for exploratory discussions of this type, but it is probable that UN debates about how to govern such new technologies will extend well into the future.

Given the many obstacles to agreeing major reforms in the Pact of the Future, some UN members are already predicting that the document will prove fairly insubstantial. This does not mean that the Summit of the Future will necessarily be a dud. As I have argued elsewhere, coalitions of member states may table more ambitious side agreements – which would not require all UN members to assent – on advancing priorities such as women’s rights that can be signed off in September. As a leading advocate for focusing on the security implications of climate change, to take another example, Germany could well be part of a coalition pushing for greater UN engagement on climate and peace, even though Russia – which vetoed a 2021 resolution on the topic in the Security Council – would want to keep this out of the Pact.

The role of civil society

While UN member states will formally take the lead on these initiatives, civil society organizations can also add some extra energy to the pre-Summit process. Many diplomats, especially from smaller missions in New York, admit that they have had little time to think in depth about what the Summit can deliver. The Secretary-General has put a significant number of complex issues on the table for discussion while other urgent issues such the war in the Middle East, have sucked up time. In the coming month, non-governmental actors can step in to advise UN members on what the Summit can achieve on issues like new tech.

Civil society can add some extra energy pre-summit

Civil society actors can also use their global networks to focus more global attention to the Summit of the Future. UN officials admit that they have struggled to get the international media to focus on the event, given the sheer flow of bad news stories coming out of the UN in recent times. While Guterres would like to draw political leaders into this discussion about global issues (and gave visiting heads of state and government packs of his policy briefs at the UN last September) very few capitals are prioritizing UN reform.  A push by international civil society networks in the coming months to raise awareness of the Summit would be welcome.

The way forward

Nonetheless, Germany and Namibia must make the best of their roles in preparing the Pact of the Future. There will surely be arguments among member states along the way.  But the co-facilitators can at least aim to frame this process as an opportunity to promote diplomatic dialogue among UN members about the future of multilateralism after a very divisive period. It may be possible to agree on common starting principles and begin long-term dialogues on issues such as new technologies and international financing which, even if they do not lead to spectacular results in 2024, could pave the way for more substantive deals down the road. 

About the author 

Richard Gowan is the UN Director of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and oversees the organization’s advocacy work at the United Nations in New York.

Proposal to the UN Summit of the Future for a UN Council of Peace

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

A submission on the UN Website for the Summit of the Future

From Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace (GAMIP), https://gamip.org Organizational sponsor: Paul Maillet, Board Member, pmaillet48@gmail.com

Chapeau

Project – Creation of a UN Council of Peace

The challenge of our times is in daring to create new thinking about peace.

Our proposal is to incrementally increase a focus of peace away from the existing central attention to global security through military means, with the establishment of a UN Council of Peace. This council will require enough resources so it will be sustainable and effective with sufficient authority and leadership so that over time it will help bring a new paradigm/worldview of peace.

In the preamble for the UN Charter, to achieve its stated ends, it is written that UN members are to practice tolerance and live together in peace as good neighbours, followed by a goal to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.
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Sadly, the maintenance of international peace has been constructed through a perpetual threat of military dominance and annihilation.

The UN Charter was developed with two world wars as background history. At that time, the victors of the Second World War chose to become the leaders of global security. In retrospect, it would have been difficult not to place peace within the security framework at that time. For 75 years, these leading states have practiced “tolerance of one another” by imposing a nuclear threat regime upon the world.

Why Now?

The UN needs to strengthen itself to better face the onset of the climate crisis, war and conflict, the erosion of democracies, and the current dominance of military security.

Peace is often an after-thought, for when military affairs of conflict get settled. Since the inception of the UN , the priorities and rivalries managing current affairs have failed Peace. The world is desperate for a UN Council of Peace, as part of UN fiscal priorities, so that nations can prioritize the establishment of new, effective peace-driven institutions.

What is Peace?

We agree that “peace is a human right. It is essential to the realization of human rights. Peace is also a product of human rights: The more a society promotes, protects and fulfils their obligations towards these rights, the greater the chances for curbing violence and resolving conflict peacefully.”

In the current worldview of security, peace is narrowly defined as the absence of hostility, violence, conflict or war; and now perceived as “stable” by nuclear deterrence.

However, a worldview of peace as an intrinsic state of relationships, becomes an intergenerational vision of freedom, political social justice, harmonious co-existence, and a movement away from the primacy of military means.

Question for this article:

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

What is missing at the UN?

There exists many initiatives regarding UN and peace, such as the Agenda for Peace, the New Agenda for Peace and UN A/RES/52 -243. “Declaration and Programme for a culture of peace”; all that require structure to be effective.

The UN project of “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets have integrated peace into their objectives. It “seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom.” It reveals a determination “to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”

In particular, goal SDG 16 is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

However, there is abundant proof for the need to do much better. The creation of a UN Council of Peace could provide a means to help fulfill the original and optimistic ideals of the UN Charter. We believed that peace must be the foundational framework for global decisions and not an elusive outcome of the present-day “primacy of military” security context.

Potential Organizational Factors

Both the General Assembly (Chapter 4, article 22) and the Security Council (Chapter 6, article 29) can establish subsidiary organs as they deem necessary for the performance of their functions.

Usually, membership of UN organs has been provided through UN Member representation. However, other bodies such as credible academic institutions, peace movements or expert individuals should be welcome, and their participation in a founding Council of Peace would be encouraged.

For example, one could envision the inclusion of The Elders group, whose engagements and values would benefit the elevation of peace as a primary, hopeful value, together with their commitments towards Multiculturalism, Human Rights, Gender equality and Women in Leadership and intergenerational dialogue.

One could envision a fulsome reform of the UN Trusteeship Council to focus on codifying new major principles of international relations, centering on peace first, prohibition of the use of force in international relations, and a commitment to disarm the planet.

Lastly, one could envision a wider public citizen engagement for partnership and funding, recognizing that citizens rarely have a say in priorities and spending for national and international security.

Potential Status

The vision of this project would see the UN Council of Peace initially empowered as an advisory group and ultimately with decision making authorities within the United Nations, in relation to the Secretary General, the General Assembly and Security Council. We believe that the time is now, for the Creation of the UN Council of Peace. In the name of humanity, let us “Give Peace a Chance.”

We remain available should you have any questions on this proposal, Paul Maillet, pmaillet48@gmail.com, Canada Dr. Sylvie Lemieux, slemieux3599@rogers.com, Canada

(Editor’s note: On the UN website, the proposal is accompanied by footnotes citing the documents that are mentioned.)

Exclusive: Putin’s suggestion of Ukraine ceasefire rejected by United States, sources say

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion of a ceasefire in Ukraine to freeze the war was rejected by the United States after contacts between intermediaries, three Russian sources with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.

The failure of Putin’s approach ushers in a third year of the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two and illustrates just how far apart the world’s two largest nuclear powers remain.


Frame from video about proposal

A U.S. source denied there had been any official contact and said Washington would not engage in talks that did not involve Ukraine.

Putin sent signals to Washington in 2023 in public and privately through intermediaries, including through Moscow’s Arab partners in the Middle East and others, that he was ready to consider a ceasefire in Ukraine, the Russian sources said.

Putin was proposing to freeze the conflict at the current lines and was unwilling to cede any of the Ukrainian territory controlled by Russia, but the signal offered what some in the Kremlin saw as the best path towards a peace of some kind.

“The contacts with the Americans came to nothing,” a senior Russian source with knowledge of the discussions in late 2023 and early 2024 told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

A second Russian source with knowledge of the contacts told Reuters that the Americans told Moscow, via the intermediaries, they would not discuss a possible ceasefire without the participation of Ukraine and so the contacts ended in failure.

A third source with knowledge of the discussions said: “Everything fell apart with the Americans.” The source said that the Americans did not want to pressure Ukraine.

The extent of the contacts – and their failure – has not previously been reported.

It comes as U.S. President Joe Biden has for months been pushing Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine, but has faced opposition from allies of Republican presidential nomination frontrunner Donald Trump.

The Kremlin, the White House, the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) all declined to comment.

U.S. SAYS ‘NO BACK CHANNEL’

Putin sent thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, triggering a full-scale war after eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces on the one side and pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian proxies on the other.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence and the West casts Putin’s invasion as an imperial-style land grab that challenges the post-Cold War international order.

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he will never accept Russia’s control over Ukrainian land. He has outlawed any contacts with Russia.

A U.S. official, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, said that the U.S. has not engaged in any back channel discussions with Russia and that Washington had been consistent in not going behind the back of Ukraine.

The U.S. official said that there appeared to have been unofficial “Track II” conversations among Russians not in the government but that the United States was not engaged in them.

The U.S. official said Putin’s proposal, based on what has been publicly reported, was unchanged from past demands that Russia hold on to Ukrainian territory. The official suggested that there appeared to be frustration in Moscow that Washington had repeatedly refused to accept it.

Putin told U.S. talk-show host Tucker Carlson last week that Russia was ready for “dialogue”.

CONTACTS

Intermediaries met in Turkey in late 2023, according to three Russian sources.

A fourth diplomatic source said that there had been Russian-U.S. unofficial contacts through intermediaries at Russia’s initiative but that they appeared to have come to nothing.

The U.S. official said he was unaware of unofficial contact through intermediaries.

According to three Russian sources, Putin’s signal was relayed to Washington, where top U.S. officials including White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met.

The idea was that Sullivan would speak to Putin’s foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, and set out the next steps, one of the Russian sources said.

But when the call came in January, Sullivan told Ushakov that Washington was willing to talk about other aspects of the relationship but would not speak about a ceasefire without Ukraine, said one of the Russian sources.

The U.S. official refused to be drawn on any details of Sullivan’s purported calls, or whether such a conversation with Ushakov took place.

PUTIN ‘READY TO FIGHT ON’

One of the Russian sources expressed frustration with the United States over Washington’s insistence that it would not nudge Ukraine towards talks given that the United States was helping to fund the war.

“Putin said: ‘I knew they wouldn’t do anything’,” another of the Russian sources said. “They cut off the root of the contacts which had taken two months to create.”

Another Russian source said that the United States did not appear to believe Putin was sincere.

“The Americans didn’t believe Putin was genuine about a ceasefire – but he was and is – he is ready to discuss a ceasefire. But equally Putin is also ready to fight on for as long as it takes – and Russia can fight for as long as it takes,” the Russian source said.

The Kremlin sees little point in further contacts with the United States on the issue, the Russian sources said, so the war would continue.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson