Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Peter Kuznick on the Significance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from World Beyond War

Peter Kuznick answered the following questions from Mohamed Elmaazi of Sputnik Radio and agreed to let World BEYOND War publish the text.

1) What’s the significance of Honduras being the latest country to join the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons?

What a remarkable and ironic development, especially after the U.S. had been pressuring the previous 49 signers to withdraw their approvals. It is so fitting that Honduras, the original “banana republic,” pushed it over the edge–a delicious fuck you to a century of U.S. exploitation and bullying.


Peter Kuznick on Sputnik

2) Is it possibly a bit of a distraction to focus on countries that have no nuclear capability?

Not really. This treaty represents the moral voice of humanity. It may not have a universal enforcement mechanism, but it clearly states that the people of this planet abhor the power-hungry, annihilation-threatening madness of the nine nuclear powers. The symbolic significance can not be overstated.

3) There already is a Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation which came into force in 1970 and which has been nearly every country on the planet is a party to. Is the NPT being lived up to?

The NPT has been lived up to to a surprising extent by the non-nuclear powers. It is amazing that more countries have not gone the nuclear path. The world is fortunate that more haven’t made that leap at a time when, according to El Baradei, at least 40 countries have the technological capability of doing so. The ones who are guilty of violating it are the five original signatories–the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France. They have completely ignored Article 6, which requires the nations possessing nuclear arsenals to reduce and eliminate those arsenals. The total number of nuclear weapons may have been cut from an absolutely insane 70,000 to a slightly less insane 13,500, but that is still enough to end life on the planet many times over.

4) If it isn’t, what good will yet another treaty, such as the one Honduras just joined, be in such an environment?

The NPT didn’t make possession, development, transportation, and threat to use nuclear weapons illegal. The new treaty does and explicitly so. This is a major symbolic leap. While it won’t put the leaders of the nuclear weapons states on trial by the International Criminal Court, it will put pressure on them to heed global sentiment as has been the case with chemical weapons, land mines, and other treaties. If the U.S. wasn’t concerned about the effect of this pressure, why did it make such an effort to block the treaty’s ratification? As Eisenhower and Dulles both stated during the 1950s, it was the global nuclear taboo that stopped them from using nuclear weapons on several occasions. Global moral pressure can constrain bad actors and sometimes even force them to become good actors.

In 2002 the US administration of George W Bush Jr withdrew from the ABM treaty. The Trump Administration withdrew from the INF Treaty in 2019 and there are questions as to whether the New START treaty will be renewed before it expires in 2021. Both the ABM and the INF treaties were signed between the US and Soviet Union to reduce the risk of nuclear war.

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

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5) Explain the consequences of the US withdrawal from key nuclear controls treaties such as the ABM and the INF treaty.

The consequences of U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty were enormous. On the one hand, it allowed the U.S. to continue with implementation of its still unproven and costly missile defense systems. On the other, it induced the Russians to begin research and development of their own countermeasures. As a result of those efforts, on March 1, 2018, in his State of the Nation address, Vladimir Putin announced that the Russians had now developed five new nuclear weapons, all of which can circumvent U.S. missile defense systems. Hence, abrogation of the ABM Treaty gave the U.S. a false sense of security and by putting Russia in a vulnerable position, it sparked Russian innovation that has put the U.S. in a weakened position. Overall, this has only made the world more dangerous. Abrogation of the INF Treaty has similarly resulted in introduction of more dangerous missiles that can potentially destabilize relations. This is what happens when shortsighted, advantage-seeking hawks make policy and not responsible statesmen.

6) Why do you think the US has been moving away from these nuclear arms control treaties that it originally signed with the Soviet Union? Have they not been serving their purpose?

The Trump administration policymakers do not want to see the U.S. constrained by international treaties. They believe the U.S. can and will win an arms race. Trump has said so repeatedly. In 2016, he declared, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” This past May, Trump’s chief arms control negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, similarly stated, “We can spend Russia and China into oblivion in order to win a new nuclear arms race.” They are both insane and should be taken away by the men in white coats. In 1986, during the previous arms race before Gorbachev, with a little late help from Reagan, injected some sanity into the world, the nuclear powers had accumulated approximately 70,000 nuclear weapons, equivalent to some 1.5 million Hiroshima bombs. Do we really want to get back to that? Sting sang a powerful song in the 1980s with the lyrics, “I hope the Russians love their children too.” We were lucky that they did. I don’t think Trump is capable of loving anyone other than himself and he has a straight line to the nuclear button with no one standing in his way.

7) What is New START Treaty and how does it fit into all of this?

The New START Treaty limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 and also limits the number of launch vehicles. Because of technicalities, the number of weapons is actually higher. It is all that is left of the nuclear arms control architecture that has taken decades to erect. It is all that stands in the way of nuclear anarchy and the new arms race I was just talking about. It is set to expire on February 5. From Trump’s first day in office, Putin has been trying to get Trump to extend it unconditionally for five years as the treaty allows. Trump disparaged the treaty and established impossible conditions for its renewal. Now, desperate for a foreign policy victory on the eve of the election, he has tried to negotiate its extension. But Putin refuses to accept the terms that Trump and Billingslea are proposing, making one wonder just how firmly Putin really is in Trump’s corner.

8) Where would you like to see policy makers go from here, in particular among major nuclear powers?

First, they need to extend the New START Treaty for five years, as Biden has promised he will do. Second, they need to reinstitute the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) and the INF Treaty. Third, they need to take all weapons off hair-trigger alert. Fourth, they need to get rid of all ICBMs, which are the most vulnerable part of the arsenal and require immediate launch if an incoming missile is detected as has happened numerous times only to be found to be false alarms. Fifth, they need to change command and control to insure that other responsible leaders have to sign off besides just the president before nuclear weapons are ever used. Sixth, they need to reduce arsenals below the threshold for nuclear winter. Seventh, they need to join the TPNW and abolish nuclear weapons entirely. Eighth, they need to take the money they’ve been wasting on weapons of annihilation and invest them in areas that will uplift humanity and improve people’s lives. I can give them lots of suggestions of where to begin if they want to listen.
 
Peter Kuznick is Professor of History at American University, and author of Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists As Political Activists in 1930s America, co-author with Akira Kimura of  Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japanese and American Perspectives, co-author with Yuki Tanaka of Nuclear Power and Hiroshima: The Truth Behind the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power, and co-editor with James Gilbert of Rethinking Cold War Culture. In 1995, he founded American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute, which he directs. In 2003, Kuznick organized a group of scholars, writers, artists, clergy, and activists to protest the Smithsonian’s celebratory display of the Enola Gay. He and filmmaker Oliver Stone co-authored the 12 part Showtime documentary film series and book both titled The Untold History of the United States.

Red Cross : Nuclear ban: “Today is an historic day. We call on world leaders to act with courage and join the right side of history”

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press release from  The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

October 24. Fifty States have now ratified the Treaty, meaning that it will enter into force as an instrument of international humanitarian law in 90 days. The Treaty is the first globally applicable multilateral agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. It prohibits their use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling. It also commits States to clearing contaminated areas and helping victims. By providing pathways for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the TPNW is an indispensable building block towards a world free of nuclear weapons


Photo: ICRC

Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:

“Today is an historic day: even a few years ago, the dream of a nuclear ban recognized by the international community seemed unfathomable. This is a victory for every citizen of the world, and it demonstrates the importance of multilateralism. I would like to congratulate all 50 States that have ratified the treaty and to call on all the other world leaders to act with courage and join the right side of history.

“The simple reality is that the international community could never hope to deal with the consequences of a nuclear confrontation. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation. What we cannot prepare for, we must prevent”, Mr Rocca said.

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

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There are over 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, thousands of which are ready to be launched in an instant. The power of many of those warheads are tens of times greater than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said :

“Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future. Too many times we have seen the dangerous logic of nuclear deterrence drag the world to the brink of destruction. Too many accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons allows us to imagine a world free from such inhumane weapons as an achievable goal.”

Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders have over the past years advocated with government leaders, parliamentarians, academics and with the public to reflect in depth on the humanitarian consequences of Nuclear weapons and the need to have a legally binding commitment for their prohibition and in the long term for their elimination. They also have urged the Nuclear possessing states to urgently take interim steps to reduce the immediate risks of use of nuclear weapons by intent, miscalculation or accident, and in the long term to sign and ratify the treaty.

Prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons is a humanitarian imperative, and a promise to future generations that they will never have to live under the threat of nuclear catastrophe as we have experienced the past 75 years.

“The use of nuclear weapons is, under any circumstances, unacceptable in humanitarian, moral and legal terms. We are ready, together with our Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, to continue our advocacy to build a world without nuclear weapons: we need to scale-up and intensify our efforts. We must do it for future generations,” concluded Mr Rocca.

United States : There Are Anti-War Candidates

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from David Swanson

I don’t have any use for PEP politicians (progressive except on the Pentagon), but there are going to be serious members of the U.S. Congress next year who aren’t afraid of flags and war songs. There are going to be a lot more than (AOC+3) four of them.


CORI BUSH

One is going to be Cori Bush from St. Louis who won her primary against a long-time incumbent. She’s recently tweeted the following:

“If you’re having a bad day, just think of all the social services we’re going to fund after we defund the Pentagon.”

“Militarization makes up 64% of our federal budget. Medicare & Health are 6%. Education is 5%. Social Security, Unemployment, and Labor together are 3%. Ignorance is thinking those priorities keep our families safe.”

“220K+ people, including 1,700 healthcare workers, have died from COVID-19 due to our government’s inability to protect its citizens & pass pandemic relief. Ignorance is Trump’s Pentagon taking $1 billion in funding designated for PPE production to make jet engine parts.”

“@BernieSanders and @EdMarkey proposed a 10% cut on the Pentagon budget to use to fund health care, housing, childcare and educational opportunities for cities and towns experiencing a poverty rate of 25% or more. Ignorance is blocking this bill knowing it would save lives.”

“Ignorance is paying Lockheed Martin more than $1 trillion over the course of a 60 year contract for a dysfunctional F-35 program. Ignorance is letting their CEO take a $20 million dollar salary while military veterans go homeless.”

“The Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit, yet we continue to give them money unchecked. Ignorance is the Trump administration *INCREASING* the Pentagon budget by more than $100 billion since he was elected.”

“Ignorance is giving weapons of war to local police departments with no accountability or oversight. Ignorance is calling us radical for saying that’s wrong.”

Cori Bush may appreciate this billboard going up in St. Louis. And I’m sure she fully appreciates that she’s up against Joe Biden on all of the above just as much as Trump. But she’s not going to be alone.

JAMAAL BOWMAN

Jamaal Bowman of New York said of his now-defeated primary competition:

“My opponent, Representative Eliot Engel, and I do not share the same foreign policy vision. He voted for one of the worst policy disasters of my lifetime — an unjust and costly 2 trillion dollar war in Iraq. He voted against President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. He went on CNN this past year and said he didn’t want to tie Trump’s hands when it came to strikes on Iran. He was one of only 16 House Democrats in 2016 to vote against an amendment that blocked the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia which has been relentlessly dropping them on Yemeni civilians. My opponent accepts donations from corporations and arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. He supports a hawkish and costly foreign policy agenda instead of focusing on the communities in our district that have been neglected for far too long. We must dramatically reduce the Pentagon’s budget over the next ten years, end the forever wars, and rebuild a diplomacy-first approach through the State Department. We have been in Afghanistan for 19 years, in Iraq for 17 years, and in Syria for five years. Congress must reassert its authority to bring our troops home.”

Engel stood by his warmongering and sank with it. This means that a different warmonger will become the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, while Engel likely heads off to make the big bucks from a yet-to-be-named weapons dealer.

MONDAIRE JONES

Mondaire Jones of New York also won his primary. His website says:

“The United States has been at war for most of my life — wars that have led to hundreds of thousands of people being killed and millions more displaced. We were led into the disastrous war in Iraq under false pretenses. The war in Afghanistan has been raging for almost 19 years. We are contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, in Yemen, by providing weapons to the Saudi-led coalition. Extreme war powers, and a reluctance by members of Congress to exert oversight, have enabled the Trump Administration to bring us dangerously close to the brink of war with Iran. . . . Enough is enough. Our national security depends on a sane approach to American foreign policy that centers diplomacy, peace, human rights, and cooperation on the challenges facing our world. We must stop fighting endless wars. As a member of Congress, I will fight to finally repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has given the executive branch a blank check to pursue foreign wars having nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. I will work to bring an end to existing conflicts, including the war in Afghanistan, through inclusive peace processes that center human rights, including women’s rights. I will support barring the sale of weapons to human rights violators, including Saudi Arabia, and I will support redirecting funds towards conflict prevention, including through development aid to reduce poverty and inequalities and combat climate change. . . . Our budgets reflect our values and priorities. Currently, the United States has chosen to prioritize investing in war and weapons ahead of providing for the basic needs of our people. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allocates a whopping $738 billion dollars for military spending. We spend more than approximately the next seven countries combined. It is estimated that we have spent almost $6 trillion dollars on the Global War on Terror alone. The United States maintains hundreds of costly military bases in dozens of countries throughout the world. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has gutted funding for the State Department and USAID, making the United States less able to lead on diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to address our world’s biggest challenges. As a member of Congress, I will push to reduce military spending and reinvest this money in the State Department, to strengthen diplomacy and peacebuilding, as well as domestically, in programs that meet the needs of our civilian population. I will fight to prioritize investment in human security approaches, which focus on meeting the human needs of people and protecting our environment.”

Those three are going to be added to Congress anew. That’s a big improvement. A couple more might get in, the first more likely than the second.

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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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MIKE SIEGEL

Mike Siegel, who won his primary in Texas, has not a word on his website but has said this:

“Let’s rebuild the State Department and our diplomatic corps. Let’s revamp our foreign aid spending to encourage the development of civil society and local economies. And instead of over-spending on war industries, let’s invest in the domestic safety net and the conditions for peace around the world.”

QASIM RASHID

Qasim Rashid, who won his primary in hyper-militarized Virginia, says on his website:

“The United States spends twice as much on national defense as China and Russia combined. We can spend this money more wisely and find ways to cut costs. US defense spending priorities must focus on foreign threats, assemble the defense infrastructure necessary to protect Americans from these threats, and support the men and women who defend our way of life, while they’re serving and after they serve.”

“[W]e should not be running our foreign policy through the Pentagon. It’s time to invest in diplomacy, and take time during the COVID-19 pandemic to think about what national security truly means in a 21st century world.”

Then there are incumbents.

PRAMILA JAYAPAL

This co-chair from Washington State of the extremely unreliable Progressive Caucus recently said:

“This will be a top priority of the progressive caucus — to really get some meaningful budget cuts in Pentagon spending this next cycle.”

She recently tweeted:

“We must retire the days of incremental change and usher in a new age of bold, progressive transformation. That means finally cutting wasteful defense spending to make long overdue investments in health care, infrastructure, and clean energy.”

MARK POCAN

Jayapal and Pocan, of Wisconsin, recently wrote:

“Every dollar wasted at the Pentagon is a dollar not being spent on test kits, personal protective equipment or contact tracing. Every handout to Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman is money that could have been spent on ending this pandemic, keeping small businesses afloat and staving off an economic meltdown. We hope our colleagues will join us in voting to cut the Pentagon budget, so we can redirect funding to where it’s needed in our communities.”

KATIE PORTER

A possibly ally is Katie Porter who recently asked a Lockheed Martin executive:

“Why should the taxpayer foot the bill to help Lockheed Martin at this time?”

Then there are the five most reliably antiwar Congress Members of recent years:

ILHAN OMAR

RO KHANNA

RASHIDA TLAIB

AYANNA PRESSLEY

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ

That makes a possible baker’s dozen out of 435 House Members, not counting 100 Senators. There are more:

BARBARA LEE

In July, Congresswoman Lee of Oakland and Congressman Pocan announced the formation of a Defense [sic] Spending Reduction Caucus. I have been unable to learn who is in it.

PETER DEFAZIO

EARL BLUMENAUER

Defazio and Blumenauer of Oregon have been relatively outspoken, even on their websites.

JIM MCGOVERN

Congressman McGovern of Massachusetts is a pretty reliable vote.

There are others.

This year 93 House Members voted to move 10% of military spending to human needs on a vote that was not even close and on which none of them were threatened or bribed by their party “leadership” to vote the wrong way, and with Trump available as the target of their rhetoric. Could boosting the number of members willing to speak out against militarism to over a dozen boost the number willing to vote against it on even the weakest measures to over 93, even if the White House changes?

There are numerous other candidates for Congress whom people have claimed should be added to “the squad” but unless they will talk about war and peace, they’re not getting a jersey on my squad and they’re not serious about what they claim to be serious about.

There may be others I don’t know about. Please add them in the comments under this article on davidswanson.org.

Not a single one of these members of Congress has ever proposed their ideal federal budget. The Progressive Caucus has a budget proposal that is much improved over past years in that it would move a teeny bit out of military spending, specifically $63 billion out of the off-the-books slush fund, $38 billion out of supplemental spending, and $62 billion out of the Pentagon’s budget. That’s $163 billion moved to useful things out of well over $1 trillion going to militarism.

Most Democrats and all Republicans in Congress are not listed above. The same goes for almost all “white” Congress Members. Also wildly under-represented here: men in Congress. Almost all Democrats running for Congress have zero foreign policy or budget positions on their website at all, other than their great love for veterans. In my view, what happens will depend very largely on public activism. Can we make opposing militarism mainstream, respectable, acceptable? Can we make warmongering marginal, shameful, despicable? We have to try.

United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security Holds its Nineteenth Consultative Meeting on 16 October 2020

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press release from the United Nations

The United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security held its nineteenth consultative meeting via virtual platform on 16 October 2020. 

The meeting reviewed the status of the partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) with an update on the implementation of the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. The meeting discussed developments and cooperation in support to on-going electoral processes in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Guinea. The meeting also exchanged views on the situations in Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Western Sahara. 

The AU Commission and the UN Secretariat were represented respectively by Commissioners Minata Samaté-Cessouma (Political Affairs), Smaïl Chergui (Peace and Security); and the Under-Secretaries-General Rosemary DiCarlo (Political and Peacebuilding Affairs), Jean-Pierre Lacroix (Peace Operations), Atul Khare (Operational Support), Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union and Assistant Secretary-General Bintou Keita (Africa). The meeting was also attended by other senior officials from the two Organizations. 
 


The Joint Task Force took note of the considerable progress achieved in the UN-AU partnership including with regional economic communities and mechanisms in Africa together with international partners. These include sustained collaboration on support to African Union peace support operations, early warning and prevention initiatives, as well as coordinated support to national authorities for the conduct of timely, peaceful and inclusive elections as well as for the promotion and protection of human rights. Both organizations strengthened collaboration in mediation support and have begun to focus more on their joint initiatives on the women, peace and security, and youth for peace and security agendas.

The Joint Task Force took note of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security in Africa and welcomed the swift actions taken by the continent’s leadership to contain the spread of the pandemic. They further welcomed the collaboration between both organizations, Regional Economic Commissions and Member States in responding to the peace, security and humanitarian impact of the pandemic. 
 
The Joint Task Force exchanged views on the socio-political situations in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Guinea, ahead of the elections scheduled in October and December in those countries. The meeting agreed to foster complementarity in electoral support to Member States and undertake joint conflict prevention initiatives aimed at mitigating election related crisis. The Joint Task Force further agreed to work together in supporting Member States efforts in strengthening their electoral institutions and processes and in enhancing their capacities to organize peaceful, credible, transparent and inclusive elections which among others provide for the participation of women, youth, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

The Joint Task Force welcomed increased coordination and collaboration in supporting elections in West Africa. A joint UN-AU-ECOWAS analysis paper, joint messaging and joint solidarity missions to Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea illustrated this increased partnership. 
 


The Joint Task Force expressed concern about the tense environment ahead of the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire. They urged all stakeholders to refrain from incendiary speech and violence, and to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences and create an environment conducive to a peaceful, inclusive and credible election. They further encouraged the authorities, including the security forces to protect and uphold human rights in the electoral process. The Joint Task Force reassured the people of Côte d’Ivoire of the continued solidarity and support of the African Union and the United Nations. 
 


The Joint Task Force called on the relevant Ghanaian stakeholders to ensure the holding of peaceful, transparent, inclusive and credible elections. It further encouraged the competing parties to call on their supporters to adhere to the agreed code of conduct, to refrain from the use of hate or inflammatory speech and any acts of violence before, during, and after the general elections. The Joint Task Force further encouraged all parties to resolve any differences that may arise in connection with the elections through dialogue and in strict respect for the rule of law. The Joint Task Force remains confident that Ghana will, as in the past, continue democratic consolidation by delivering peaceful and credible elections. 
 


The Joint Task Force called on Guinean stakeholders to ensure the holding of peaceful and credible elections. They condemned the frequent recourse to hate speech and the manipulation of ethnicity for political purposes. They urged all actors to act with responsibility, refrain from violence and resolve through dialogue and legal means any disagreements that may arise in connection with the election. They further urged the defence and security forces to exercise utmost restraint and uphold international human rights standards in their conduct during the electoral process. The Joint Task Force reiterated the commitment of the African Union and the United Nations to continue supporting the people of Guinea in the consolidation of democratic gains. 
 


Further, the Joint Task Force exchanged views on the situation in Libya and welcomed the conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting on Libya co-chaired by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Foreign Minister of Germany, Mr. Heiko Maas, on 5 October 2020. They agreed that UN, AU, EU and LAS should continue to work towards enhanced cohesion through the Libya Quartet. 
 

 
 

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Question for this article:

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

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

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On the situation in Mali and the Sahel, the Joint Task Force took note of the start of the political Transition in Mali following the establishment of an inclusive transitional government headed by a civilian Prime Minister and a civilian President. The Joint Task Force welcomed the lifting of sanctions and reiterated the African Union and United Nations’ full support to the Transition authorities and people of Mali towards peace, stability and restoration of constitutional order. It committed to deepen the AU-UN collaboration to assist the transitional authorities in the preparation of elections and launch of priority reforms, within the 18-month transition period. 
 


The Joint Task Force urged the parties to uphold their commitment under the Agreement and prioritize the key institutional reforms of the peace process. It welcomed the participation of the signatory armed groups in the Transition Government and called on all stakeholders to work in a spirit of compromise to accelerate the implementation of the Peace Agreement. The Joint Task Force urged for enhanced participation of women in the peace process. It recognized the important role MINUSMA and MISAHEL continue to play in support of the Malian parties to advance the implementation of the Peace Agreement and to address the situation in central Mali. 


The Joint Task Force expressed concern over the alarming deterioration of the situation in Mali and the Sahel region, and reaffirmed the determination of both Organizations to continue supporting national, regional and international initiatives. The United Nations reiterated its commitment to support the African Union in the strengthening of its engagement in the Sahel, including through the deployment of 3,000 troops in support to the G5 Joint Force. The Joint Task Force also called on international partners to scale up their support, and provide the resources and assistance required by the G5 Sahel Joint Force to fully play its critical role in fighting terrorism and transnational organized crime. 
 


With regards to Ethiopia, the Joint Task Force noted the UN and AU’s support to the country’s ongoing reforms, including to domestic initiatives aimed at facilitating a consensus on key political, social and economic issues. The meeting commended the efforts of the AU to facilitate a mutually beneficial trilateral agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. 
 


On South Sudan, the Joint Task Force called to resolve pending issues particularly agreement on Transitional Security Arrangements (TSAs) and formation of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA). The meeting further committed to support the participation of women in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), and encouraged  the appointment of the head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).On Sudan, the Joint Task Force highlighted the continuing critical strategic and political partnership between the United Nations and the African Union and noted that the two organisations will continue to be close partners throughout Sudan’s transitional process. The meeting commended the engagement of the African Union in the planning process for UNITAMS, which will maximise the two organisations’ comparative advantages in support of the transition. The Joint Task Force welcomed the peace agreement signed in Juba on 3 October between the Sudan Revolutionary Front, the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi faction and the Government of Sudan and urged the non-signatories to the agreement to fully engage in the peace process. 
 


On Somalia, the Joint Task Force welcomed the resumption of political dialogue among the leaders of the Federal Government and the Federal Member States that led to the agreement on a model for elections, albeit indirect parliamentary elections for 2020/21, and stressed the importance of concerted efforts to work towards universal parliamentary elections in 2024/25. The meeting expressed hope that the upcoming electoral process would be timely, free, fair and inclusive of all sectors of Somali society including women, youth and minority groups, and guarantee at least a 30 per cent representation of women in Parliament. Recognizing that 2021 will be a transition year in Somalia toward a new political dispensation as well as towards Somalis taking the leading role on security, the Joint Task Force underscored the criticality for the dialogue among Somalia’s leaders to continue and extend to other priority areas including the constitutional review, building a federal Somali security sector and other institutions, and resolving outstanding differences between the Federal Government and Federal Member States. 


The Joint Task Force recognized AMISOM’s continued critical contribution to peace and security in Somalia and welcomed its efforts to collaborate with Somali Security Forces to consolidate and extend security gains, notwithstanding challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic The meeting took note of efforts underway to chart the way forward on the transition to Somali security responsibility, notably the Federal Government’s work to update the Transition Plan. With regards to the independent assessment, the AU highlighted that its views should be taken into account. The meeting called for continued efforts to strengthen a common approach among Somalia’s partners towards support to peacebuilding and state-building in the country. 
 


With regard to Western Sahara, the Joint Task Force looks forward to the appointment of a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and encourages the parties to refrain from rhetoric and actions that are harmful to a political solution to the conflict. The Joint Task Force discussed the resource shortfall for the humanitarian assistance for the Sahrawi refugees particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 


The Joint Task Force also discussed UN-AU cooperation in counterterrorism. While commending ongoing cooperation in counterterrorism, participants underlined the need for greater coordination and consultation to ensure synergies, build on each other’s efforts and avoid duplication. The meeting agreed therefore to work towards the establishment of a joint coordination mechanism that will be responsible for providing oversight and strategic level guidance to the joint working groups to be subsequently established. 
 


The next statutory meeting of the Joint Task Force will be hosted by the African Union Commission in February 2021, on the margins of the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. 

‘Democracy Has Won’: Year After Right-Wing Coup Against Evo Morales, Socialist Luis Arce Declares Victory in Bolivia Election

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Jake Johnson from Common Dreams (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

A year after former Bolivian president Evo Morales was ousted in a military coup that installed a brutal far-right regime, Morales ally Luis Arce declared victory in the South American nation’s high-stakes presidential election early Monday after exit polls showed the socialist candidate with a large advantage over his two main competitors.


Bolivia’s leftist presidential candidate Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism party celebrates with running mate David Choquehuanca early on October 19, 2020 in La Paz, Bolivia. (Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)

“Democracy has won,” Arce, who served as Morales’ finance minister, said in an address to the nation after one exit poll showed him leading the race with 52.4% of the vote and former president Carlos Mesa in a distant second with 31.5%. Right-wing candidate Luis Camacho—an ally of unelected interim President Jeanine Añez—won just 14.1% of the vote, according to the survey.

The Washington Post reported that “if the exit poll numbers are confirmed by the official count, which was being tabulated slowly late Sunday, it would be more than enough to avoid a November runoff and claim outright victory.”

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Question related to this article:

Why was Morales ousted from Bolivia by a coup d’etat?

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Arce characterized his apparently decisive victory, which even Añez was forced to acknowledge, as a mandate to continue the policies of the Morales government, which lifted millions of Bolivians out of poverty and expanded the nation’s economy.

“I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,” Arce said Monday.

Twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sunday’s election was a do-over of last year’s presidential contest, which was thrown into chaos after the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) leveled baseless allegations of “fraud” by Morales, who was eventually forced to resign and flee the country under threat by Bolivia’s military.

The coup against Morales sparked a wave of Indigenous-led protests that were violently repressed by the Bolivian military and police forces, which were granted sweeping immunity from prosecution by the anti-Indigenous Añez government.

“The OAS allegations were indeed the main political foundation of the coup that followed the October 20 election three weeks later,” Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, wrote last month. “But they provided no evidence to support these allegations—because there wasn’t any. This has since been established repeatedly by a slew of expert statistical studies.”

From exile in Argentina, Morales on Monday celebrated Arce’s apparent victory as a “great triumph of the people.”

“Brothers and sisters: the will of the people has been asserted,” Morales tweeted. “This is an overwhelming victory… We are going to give dignity and liberty back to the people.”

77 Heads of State and Ministers address UN High Level Meeting on Nuclear Weapons

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A message from Unfold Zero

77 Heads of State and Ministers took the opportunity to address the United Nations High Level Meeting on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons held yesterday (October 2) in the UN General Assembly and by virtual participation.

This is probably the highest number of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers to have addressed any of the high level meetings which have taken place annually since 2013 to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Such participation indicates widespread global concern, especially amongst non-nuclear governments, about the threat from nuclear weapons.


Volkan Bozkir, General Assembly President

Representatives from several regional groups and international organisations, as well as two representatives from global civil society, also addressed the meeting. The civil society representatives called on UN Member States to ‘de-escalate the nuclear arms race, redirect nuclear weapons budgets and investments to meet human security needs, and commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the UN.’

Click here for the full list of speakers for the event.

UN leadership

The event was chaired by H.E. Vlokan Bozkir, President of the UN General Assembly, who opened the event with a strong presentation reminding us that the UN was born out of the ashes of WWII and the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, and calling on UN member states to fulfill their obligations to end the nuclear arms race and achieve the comprehensive elimination of nuclear weapons.

H.E. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, followed with an impassioned speech warning that the world continues to live in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe. He urged nuclear armed states to take practical steps to reduce nuclear risks, and on all members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to work towards a positive outcome to the Review Conference next year that takes forward concrete nuclear disarmament steps.

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

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Statements by governments were introduced by their UN ambassadors sitting in the UN General Assembly, but then presented by the leaders (Presidents and Ministers) by pre-recorded video statements due to pandemic constraints on UN physical meetings.

The six hours of statements included many reports on nuclear disarmament action and calls for further action. These included to:

-adopt nuclear risk reduction measures such as de-alerting and no-first-use;

– support existing nuclear-weapon-free-zones and establish additional ones especially one in the Middle East;

– cut nuclear weapons budgets/investments and redirect these to addressing the pandemic and achieving the sustainable development goals;

– support existing treaties such as the NPT, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;

– negotiate a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention which includes the nuclear-armed countries and would prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons globally;

– commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by the 100th anniversary of the UN.

Click here for a short video (2mins) with selected quotes from speakers at the High Level Meeting. Click here for the video recording of Session 1 (3 hours). The videos of both sessions and all presentations will be posted online here early next week.

Civil society presentations

Two members of global civil society were invited to make presentations to the High Level event. They are Mr Saber Chowdhury MP (Bangladesh), Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and Ms Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic), Vice-Chair of PragueVision Institute for Sustainable Security and one of the convenors of #Wethepeoples2020.

Mr Chowdhury noted that ‘We all have a key role to play and engage with governments to ensure implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations, and in diverting resources from nuclear weapons to positive impacts for the economy, livelihoods and protection of nature.’ (Click here for his video presentation).

Ms Proskova noted that nuclear weapons ‘are dangerous whether they are used on purpose or due to a miscalculation. They are extremely harmful to the environment which we are so vehemently trying to protect. In the 21st century they are simply obsolete. And, what is more, they are phenomenally expensive.’ (Click here for her video presentation).

Both of the civil society representatives called on UN members to de-escalate the nuclear arms race, redirect nuclear weapons budgets and investments to meet human security needs, and commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the UN.

Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization welcomes Morocco’s role in promoting the culture of peace and dialogue between the Libyan parties

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Le Matin (translation by CPNN)

The Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization praised the role played by the Kingdom of Morocco in promoting and disseminating the culture of peace and dialogue between the Libyan parties. The organization expressed, in a statement, “its congratulations to the Libyan parties for their approach to political dialogue, their search for consensus and their desire to pursue with determination and constancy the political path to overcome the armed conflict in order to consolidate the legitimacy of the Libyan national civil state, which expresses the unity of the people and guarantees the stability of the country ”.


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Question for this article:

What is being done for peace in Libya?

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In this regard, the statement referred to the results of the second round of interlibyan dialogue organized from October 2 to 6 in Bouznika [Morocco]. In the final declaration of this second round, the delegations of the High Council of State and the Parliament announced that this round was consistent with the criteria and mechanisms for occupying positions of sovereignty in Libya as called for in Article 15 of the Libyan Skhirate Political Agreement [See the 2015 agreement].

(Click here for a version of this article in French.)

ECOSOCC / Morocco: Launch of the e-caravan of peace, flagship event of Amnesty Month in Africa

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Hicham Alaoui in MSN (translation by CPNN)

The e-Caravan of Peace, a flagship event of the “Month of Amnesty in Africa 2020”, was launched on Tuesday from Rabat, capital of Morocco, to travel [virtually] through all African countries, with the objectives of promoting values ​​of peace, tolerance, solidarity and pan-African integration.


(click on image to enlarge)

Initiated by the Moroccan Association Key to Peace for Development and Solidarity, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (ECOSOCC-UA) and the Moroccan national chapter of ECOSOCC-UA, this virtual caravan is part of the AU theme for this year namely “Silencing the Guns: Creating the Conditions for Africa’s Development”.

The silence of the guns on the continent, a wish of the populations of the African hemisphere, is a long process which requires a very strong commitment to implement the policies, frameworks of action and instruments of the African Union.

Indeed, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons is clearly linked to the violent conflicts that continue to undermine peace and development in Africa. This situation leaves the continent very vulnerable, these weapons causing enormous destruction and claiming many victims.

In Africa, the dynamics of conflicts and current trends in arms trafficking are changing due to the evolving nature and diversity of actors, such as pirates, terrorists and criminal organizations. This means that the existing challenges persist while becoming more complex.

The AU’s 2063 vision calls for a solid partnership to establish synergies and effective coordination between the various initiatives in order to reduce armed conflicts in Africa. It is to raise awareness of the importance of this theme of the year of the AU, that the e-Caravan of Peace, as an initiative of civil society, has mobilized to promote the culture of peace, solidarity and living together, to build a continent free of conflicts where the conditions for a decent life are guaranteed.

It is nonetheless true that in the face of the current dynamics of conflicts and new trends in the arms trade, a strong partnership with civil society is highly crucial. At this critical juncture, it is important to highlight the role it can play in ending conflicts, promoting peace and raising awareness in local communities.

The e-Caravan proposes to:

* fight against the illicit arms trade, destabilization and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Africa,

* undertake awareness-raising campaigns through traditional and social media in AU Member States,

* create an enabling climate the participation of civil society organizations in peace processes in Africa

* and establish a solid partnership between governments and ECOSOCC on issues related to peace and security in Africa.

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(Click here for a version of this article in French.)

Question for this article:

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

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According to the vice-president of ECOSOCC for the North African region, Khalid Boudali, the e-Caravan of peace is a solidarity event aimed at “rallying all stakeholders to participate in humanitarian action for help establish peace and security on the continent and free Africa from the yoke of armed conflict ”. For him, the e-Caravan constitutes a milestone in the efforts made for an Africa without conflicts or wars.

It is also designed to support the ongoing efforts of the various actors and at the same time take stock of the progress made so far with the objective of strengthening peace and security in Africa, said Mr. Boudali, who presides over the destinies of the Key International Association for Peace for Development and Solidarity. “The social, economic and political factors that motivate groups and communities to acquire these weapons must be addressed. It is undeniable that efforts to disarm communities must take into account security and development concerns and offer them alternatives to crime and other illicit activities,” he said.

As a conflict prevention tool, the African Peace and Security Architecture, and all its supporting instruments, appear to be very effective. However, it is important that the African Union continues its efforts to ensure that the implementation of Program 2063, launched to build a prosperous continent endowed with good governance, respecting human rights and encouraging popular participation. and development, remains at the center of its efforts.

It should be noted that the e-Caravan will take place on a virtual platform in all Member States of the African Union during the month of September. Awareness-raising actions and debates will be initiated every week at the national level, in cooperation with the national platform of civil society organizations with a series of webinars to present the results and recommendations made in each of the five regions of the continent.

The culmination of the e-Caravan will be the holding, on September 30, 2020, of an e-symposium on public policies, an event during which the overall report of the activities and the recommendations adopted during the various activities carried out at all levels, national and regional, will be presented.

The initiative to hold the Caravan as a virtual event was dictated by the current situation marked by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting consequences, in particular the closure of air, land and sea borders.

In fact, a Caravan of peace, solidarity and pan-African integration, which the Moroccan Key Association for Peace for Development and Solidarity intended to organize, and was going to travel through 12 African countries, was about to be organized. But with the arrival of the coronavirus, it was changed from a real-world event to a virtual event. Thus, the overland journey of this Caravan has turned into an e-journey.

Sudan: Darfur deal welcomed by UN chief as ‘historic achievement’

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

A peace agreement between Sudanese authorities and key armed movements from Darfur could provide a path to national unity, the head of the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said on Monday. Secretary-General António Guterres later described it  as an “historic achievement” towards lasting peace.


UNAMID/Albert Gonzalez Farran. UNAMID, in collaboration with the North Darfur Committee on Women, organised an open day session on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (file photo).

Sudan’s transitional Government initialled the deal alongside the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and Sudan Liberation Movement–Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM), at a ceremony held in neighbouring South Sudan. 

Determination, courage and commitment 

“The Secretary-General congratulates the people of the Sudan for this historic achievement and commends the parties to the negotiations for their political will and determination in working toward the common objective of peace”, said the statement released on Monday night in New York.

“He also thanks the Government of South Sudan and President Salva Kiir for their important role in facilitating the talks. The Secretary-General calls on the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North–Abdelaziz Al-Hilu and the Sudan Liberation Movement–Abdul Wahid Al-Nur to join the peace process.”

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved in South Sudan?

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Mr. Guterres said he was fully committed to supporting the implementation of the agreement, “which marks the start of a new era for the people of the Sudan and for people living in Darfur and the Two Areas, in particular. This will require sustained commitment and collaboration between the parties and the people of the Sudan.”

Earlier, Jeremiah Mamabolo, the UNAMID Joint Special Representative who attended the ceremony, said  the deal was a “significant step” and commended in particular the signatory parties for their “determination, courage and commitment to lasting peace in Sudan”.

17 years of brutal fighting

It is expected that the peace agreement will end 17 years of often brutal conflict in Darfur. 

Fighting between the forces of former President Omar al-Bashir, backed by allied militia, and various rebel movements, left around 300,000 dead, according to UN estimates, and millions displaced. 

President al-Bashir was overthrown in April 2019 following unrest that began in December 2018. 

 “We hope that this agreement is perceived as the start of a process that includes all in a positive move towards peace, justice and national unity. This includes the full realization of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all the people of Sudan, including Darfuris”, said Mr. Mamabolo. 

Praise for South Sudan mediation 

At the ceremony, the UNAMID chief conveyed greetings from UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki. 

He also applauded the South Sudanese mediation team for facilitating the negotiation process amidst challenges. 
Mr. Mamabolo hoped that those parties who remain outside will soon join the peace process to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the Sudanese people and the objectives of the December 2018 Revolution. 

“To that end, the United Nations and the African Union remain committed to supporting this process to the very last day of UNAMID’s mandate”, he said. 

US: The United National AntiWar Coalition – Call to Action

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

Announcement of webinar from The United National AntiWar Coalition

The past months of the Black Lives Matter Movement have confirmed once again the only way to challenge this racist, militarized system is with the explosive power of people making demands and shutting it down.

Regardless of what happens in November our only way forward is to stay mobilized! The people must lead from below through organized, strategic protest.


• Demanding justice and accountability against racist killer cops!

• For economic justice in response to the economic collapse.

– For a public health response to the pandemic with Medicare for all.

• In defense of migrants rounded up and deported!

• In solidarity with LGBTQ+ and disabled people

• Against endless wars, sanctions and occupations

We face the greatest capitalist crash in US history and an out of control COVID-19 pandemic. At every level of government from the president to Congress down to mayors and local officials, the response to the pandemic and economic collapse shows a failed state.

The people must remain mobilized through the election and beyond. We will not win the change we need at the ballot box. The two candidates of the parties of the billionaires ignore the super-majority of people in the US who support improved Medicare for all, a robust Green New Deal, an end to inequality and taxation of the wealthy, an end to the never-ending wars and US imperialism. Neither party is responding to the call to stop racist militarized policing, invest in alternatives to policing while cutting police budget and democratic community control of the police. No matter who is elected the people must be mobilized in 2021 to make the country ungovernable until the people’s demands are met.

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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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We defend:

• Resistance and uprisings against racism and police violence

• Education workers opposing dangerous school reopening

• Organizing for rent strikes and against evictions

• Black Lives Matter Movement everywhere

• Social movements seeking peace and justice

• Solidarity with all those resisting US imperialist violence

Click here to register: bit.ly/DNCRNCWebinar

An Online RALLY supported by: March on DNC and RNC, UNAC – United National Antiwar Coalition, ILPS – International League of Peoples Struggles, BAYAN – Philippine Coalition, NAARPR – National Alliance Against Racism & Political Repression, BAP – Black Alliance for Peace, IAC – International Action Center, VFP – Veterans For Peace, Cuba Si, IFCO, FIRE – Fight for Im/migrants & Refugees Everywhere, AFGJ – Alliance for Global Justice, Code Pink, Popular Resistance, SanctionsKill Campaign, US Peace Council, WILPF – Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom -US chapter, Peoples Power Assemblies NYC, December 12 Movement, Call to Action on Puerto, Colectivo de Mujeres Mexicanas NY, Jornada: Se Acabaron Las Promesas, USPCN – U.S. Palestinian Community Network, POWIR – People’s Opposition to War Imperialism, and Racism, Southern Workers Assembly, SDS- Students for a Democratic Society, The People’s Forum, other groups to be added.

Enddorse the call: bit.ly/KeepItInTheStreets

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