Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Biden’s Announcement That Trump Got Military Spending Just Right Is Dead Wrong

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by David Swanson

President Joe Biden is proposing a level of Pentagon spending so close to that of Trump’s last year in office that Bloomberg  calls it a 0.4% reduction adjusting for inflation while Politico  calls it a 1.5% increase and “effectively an inflation-adjusted budget boost.” I call it a disgusting violation of the will of the public spent in the hypocritical name of a grand battle against autocracies by so-called democracies, driven in reality by the influence of war profiteers and contempt for the fate of the planet and the people on it.


The U.S. public, according to polling, would reduce military spending if it had something resembling a democracy.

Just five weapons dealers poured  $60 million into U.S. election campaign bribery in 2020. These companies now sell more weapons abroad than to the U.S. government, with the U.S. State Department acting as a marketing firm, and with U.S. weapons and/or U.S. military training and/or U.S. government funding going to the militaries of 96%  of the most oppressive governments on earth.

U.S. military spending is $1.25 trillion  per year across numerous departments. Even just taking the $700 billion and change that goes to the Pentagon and stands in for the full amount in media coverage, U.S. military spending has been climbing for years, including during the Trump years, and is the equivalent  of many of the world’s top military spenders combined, most of which are U.S. allies, NATO members, and U.S. weapons customers.

Still using that artificially reduced figure, China is at 37% of it, Russia at 8.9%, and Iran is spending 1.3%. These are, of course, comparisons of absolute amounts.  Per capita  comparisons are extreme as well. The United States, every year, takes $2,170 from every man, woman, and child for wars and war preparations, while Russia takes $439, China $189, and Iran $114.

“Takes” is the right word. President Eisenhower once admitted it out loud, saying, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

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Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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When a mere $30 billion could end  starvation on earth, there is no question that militarism kills first and foremost through the diversion of funds from where they are needed, while of course risking  nuclear apocalypse and driving  environmental collapse,  justifying  secrecy,  fueling  bigotry, and degrading  culture.

The madness of militarism is not new, but it is always newly happening in an environmentally riskier world in more desperate need of a redirection of resources, and is happening now in the midst of a pandemic. Meanwhile President Biden proposes to pay for things he wants to spend money on with slight corporate taxes over 15 years, as if no other expenses will come up between now and 2036.

A bill in both houses of Congress called the ICBM Act would move funding from intercontinental ballistic missiles to vaccines. Dozens of Congress Members say they favor moving funding from militarism to human and environmental needs. Yet, not a single one has made a public commitment to voting against any bill that fails to reduce military spending, and not a single one has introduced a war powers resolution to end a single war, now that Trump’s veto cannot be relied on to render such an action harmless.

It is a real shame that President Biden is not a member of the Democratic Party whose 2020 Platform reads: “Democrats believe the measure of our security is not how much we spend on defense, but how we spend our defense dollars and in what proportion to other tools in our foreign policy toolbox and other urgent domestic investments. We believe we can and must ensure our security while restoring stability, predictability, and fiscal discipline in defense spending. We spend 13 times more on the military than we do on diplomacy. We spend five times more in Afghanistan each year than we do on global public health and preventing the next pandemic. We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less.”

It’s just bad luck that President Biden does not subscribe to the religion professed by the Pope who remarked  last Sunday: “The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened.”

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. military arsenal is being strengthened in a proper progressive manner: “The $715 billion Pentagon ‘topline’ is likely to be presented as a compromise to Democrats pressing for cuts in defense spending, as some of the money would be slated for the Pentagon’s environmental initiatives.”

With friends like the Pentagon, the environment has no need of enemies, real or imagined.

According to Politico, wildly out-of-control military spending that Biden believes Donald Trump got just about exactly right is actually a demonstration of restraint because “Pentagon budgeteers” have been hoping for more. Let us weep for them in our own private ways.

Activists Block Rail Route for General Dynamics Armoured Vehicles Bound for Saudi Arabia, Demand Canada Stop Fueling War in Yemen

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from World Beyond War

Members of anti-war organizations World BEYOND War, Labour Against the Arms Trade, and People for Peace London are blocking railway tracks near General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a London-area company manufacturing light armoured vehicles (LAVs) for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


The activists are calling on General Dynamics to end its complicity in the brutal Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen and calling on the Canadian government to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia and expand humanitarian assistance for the people of Yemen.

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Saudi-led, Western-backed coalition’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war, leading to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

It is estimated that 24 million Yemenis need humanitarian assistance – some 80% of the population – which is being thwarted by the Saudi-led coalition’s land, air, and naval blockade of the country. Since 2015, this blockade has prevented food, fuel, commercial goods and aid from entering Yemen. According to the World Food Program, nearly 50,000 people in Yemen are already living in famine-like conditions with 5 million just a step away. To add to the already dire situation, Yemen has one of the worst COVID-19 death rates in the world, killing 1 in 4 people who test positive.

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Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic and calls from the United Nations for a global ceasefire, Canada has continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia. In 2019, Canada exported arms valued at $2.8 billion to the Kingdom—more than 77 times the dollar value of Canadian aid to Yemen in the same year.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has exported over $1.2 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, the bulk of which are light armoured vehicles manufactured by General Dynamics, part of a $15 billion arms deal brokered by the Government of Canada. Canadian weapons continue to fuel a war that has led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen and heavy civilian casualties.

The light armoured vehicles manufactured by General Dynamics in London, Ontario are being transported by rail and truck to port where they are loaded onto Saudi ships.

“Since the multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia was first signed, Canadian civil society has published reports, presented petitions, protested at government offices and weapons manufacturers across the country, and delivered several letters to Trudeau in which dozens of groups representing millions have repeatedly demanded Canada stop arming Saudi Arabia” said Rachel Small of World BEYOND War. “We’ve been left with no choice but to block the Canadian tanks headed to Saudi Arabia ourselves.”

“Workers want green, peaceful jobs, not jobs manufacturing weapons of war. We will continue to put pressure on the Liberal government to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia and work with unions to secure alternatives for arms industry workers,” said Simon Black of Labour Against the Arms Trade, a coalition of peace and labour activists working to end Canada’s participation in the international arms trade.

“What our community needs is government funding for rapid conversion from military exports back to production for human needs, as these plants used to do,” says David Heap of People for Peace London. “We call for immediate public investment in much-needed green transport industries that will ensure good jobs for Londoners while protecting peace and human rights in the world.”

Follow twitter.com/wbwCanada and twitter.com/LAATCanada for photos, videos, and updates during the rail blockade.

Civil society in northeast Syria promotes women’s role to fight extremism

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Akhin Ahmed in the Al-Monitor

The Democratic Solutions Organization  (Demos), a civil society organization operating in northern and eastern Syria with the aim to build a democratic state to fight extremism, wrapped up its first annual conference on Feb. 17 in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli. 

Some 42 public figures, including 15 women, in addition to activists, media professionals, politicians, representatives of civil organizations and community leaders, took part in the conference to discuss the results of Demos’ project dubbed “Promoting Positivity of Life to Counter Violent Extremism.”

The project was launched a year and a half ago and directly targeted about 13,000 people and indirectly targeted many more across Hasakah, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. 

Abbas Ali, the project manager, discussed with Al-Monitor the goals of the project, saying, “Our project aims to boost the steadfastness of local communities in the cities of Hasakah, Qamishli, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor against extremism.” 

He noted, “The project also aims to strengthen the role of women, youth and the displaced in fighting violent extremism through a number of workshops Demos held in the past year and a half as part of its project.”

Abbas added that through its project, Demos focuses on several topics, most notably countering violence against women’s rights and promoting pride in cultural identity.

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Question related to this article:

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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Mirna Namis, one of the participants and supervisors of the Demos workshops, told Al-Monitor, “In the absence of a role for women in fighting extremism and terrorism, we sought — through our [Demos] project — to support women in this field. We sought ways to engage women in ensuring the safety and security of their families and protecting them from terrorism and extremism. We also discussed ways to involve women in confronting negative forces in society and the effective role that they can play in their surroundings, whether inside or outside their homes, in order to instil a culture of peace as an alternative to hatred.” 

Namis praised the prominent role of education and the press in rejecting the culture of extremism and violence. 

She added, “Our project directly targeted about 13,000 people and was implemented in Hasakah, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The participants in the conference included decision-makers in the region, in addition to politicians, civil society activists and representatives of civil organizations, independent figures and media professionals.” 

Rakan Dargham, a civil activist from Raqqa who participated in the conference, told Al-Monitor, “The conference included sessions on the role of the internet in spreading violence and extremism on the one hand, and its role in combating extremism on the other.”

He explained, “Our project addressed the role of the internet as a double-edged sword. The internet is used by militant groups to influence the minds of young people and recruit them.

The Islamic State  [IS] and other radical groups have used the internet in their recruitment process. But the internet and the media are also used to expose the true intentions and plans of these radical groups, such as IS, that influence and lure a large number of youth and convince them to commit crimes.”

In regard to the possibility of women serving as a catalyst in the peace process in Syria, Abbas said, “Women can play a key role in instilling peace by preventing their husbands, sons  or brothers from participating in wars and armed conflicts and getting involved in the activities of extremist groups. Women are inherently peace-loving and their awareness of the importance of peace reflects positively on the environment in which they live. They can be a catalyst in the peace process in the country.” 

United States: Who Is Clare Grady and Why Should We Care that She is in Federal Prison?

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Jeremy Kuzmarov from CovertAction Magazine

On April 4, 2018—a date symbolically chosen because it is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination—Clare Grady and six other activists broke into the Kings Bay Submarine base in St. Mary’s, Georgia, the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. 

They carried hammers and baby bottles filled with their own blood. Their purpose? To symbolically “beat swords into plowshares,” as prophesied in Isaiah 2:4, by disarming one of the world’s deadliest swords—the Trident nuclear submarine. 


Plowshares 7 congregate outside courthouse during their trial for breaking into the Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia. Martha Hennessy, Kathleen Rumpf (co-defendent in another Plowshares case), Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Carmen Trotta, Patrick O’Neill, Liz McAlister. (July 12th, 2019)  [Source: beyondnuclearinternational.org]

It was no walk in the park

First, using a bolt cutter, this unlikely commando team of 60-, 70- and 80-year-old priests, grandmothers and grandfathers squeezed themselves through a remote gate on the base. Then they trekked, slopped, and splashed through two miles of notoriously inhospitable Southern Georgia swampland, swarming with ticks, fire ants, earwigs and mosquitoes—not to mention poisonous rattlesnakes—as well as venomous scorpions only an inch in length but whose sting can be fatal, and alligators, of which Georgia boasts a population of more than 200,000.

Finally, as reported by World Socialist Website, they reached a location “where they prayed, read from Scripture, splashed bottles of their own blood onto a wall, spray-painted messages against nuclear weapons onto a sidewalk, hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles and hung protest banners.”

As agreed in advance, all seven participants—Clare Grady, Father Stephen Kelly, Mark Colville, Martha Hennessy, Elizabeth McAlister, Patrick O’Neill, and Carmen Trotta—remained at the site, peacefully awaiting the police, so they could explain the reason for their actions. They were arrested, tried, and then convicted on October 24, 2019, in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Georgia for the crime of conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval installation, depredation of government property, and trespass.

Clare Grady was sentenced to a one-year prison term in Alderson Federal Prison in West Virginia, which began on February 10th, 2021. 

As for the other six activists: Carmen Trotta was sentenced to 14 months; Patrick O’Neill to 14 months followed by two years of supervised probation. (He has appealed the sentence.); Steve Kelly to 33-months less time served and three years of supervised probation; Martha Hennessy to 10 months; and Elizabeth McAlister to time served, which was the 17 months she had spent in prison awaiting trial. (She was also sentenced to three years of probation.). Mark Colville will be sentenced in April.

“Festival of Hope” in Celebration of Clare Grady and the Plowshares 7

Going to prison has not discouraged Clare Grady, nor will it deter her from continued opposition to the makers of war and mass death who control our national government. To celebrate Clare Grady’s resilience and determination, and that of her six companions, the antiwar group Code Pink  hosted a “Festival of Hope” webinar in honor of Clare and the Kings Bay Plowshares 7  on February 7, 2021, three days before the start of Clare’s prison term.

Try watching this video on www.youtube.com

Many who spoke at this virtual convocation are long-time activists who have spent their lives in the service of world peace and universal community. They include: 
* Agnes Williams, a Seneca leader working in western New York;
* Leona Morgan, a Diné leader from the Navajo Nation, working in New Mexico and Arizona to stop uranium production and dumping on their lands;
* Clare Daly, Irish Parliamentarian and a co-defendant in an Irish trial of civil resistance to U.S. warplanes refueling at Shannon Airport;
* Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor who has worked tirelessly to end nuclear weapons and has been instrumental in the enactment of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that went into force last week;
* Professor Russell Rickford, Cornell University historian of the Black Freedom Struggle and the Black Radical Tradition and an organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America;
* Emma O’Grady, writer, and actor from County Galway, Ireland;
* Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Detroit theologian, author, nonviolent community activist and civil resister to water shut-offs, who offered a closing prayer.

Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima bomb survivor voiced her support for Grady and the Plowshares 7 in a pre-recorded statement that was played at the “Festival of Hope.”

In the statement, Setsuko described in vivid detail her experience in Hiroshima on the fateful day of August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped.

At the time, Setsuko was on an excursion away from her school. Suddenly, she said, she was “blown into the air” and felt herself “floating” before she woke up to find herself in darkness under a collapsed building.

After hearing a male voice telling her “not to give up,” a soldier helped free Setsuko from the building, which was now on fire.

Outside, the air was filled with particles, and people moved on the streets as if they were ghosts, with their hair standing up to the sky, and their skin and flesh burned.

Some of the people had their intestines bulging out while others had their own eyeballs in their hands.

Setsuko escaped to a hill which was packed with dead bodies and people were begging for water.

Among the thousands of innocent people killed on that day were nine members of Setsuko’s family, including her aunt, uncle, sister and four-year-old nephew, whose small body became unrecognizable.

Setsuko stated that “this is what nuclear war does; it results in indescribable mass killing and suffering. Today, the weapons are even more destructive than in 1945, and could kill a million people in a quick moment.”

Standing up for Humanity

Setsuko’s warning was heeded by other speakers at the webinar who further emphasized the health hazards of nuclear energy and its contamination of the environment.

Clare Daly, a member of the European parliament who was jailed for protesting against U.S. military planes flying out of Shannon Airport in Ireland, stated that the “stance taken by Clare [Grady] was absolutely moral and courageous, she is a beacon to activists around the world. Clare joins people like Julian Assange in going to jail for standing up for humanity.”

Grady’s daughter, Leah, read a letter from Plowshares 7 activist Martha Hennessy, currently serving out her ten-month sentence at the Danbury Correctional Institution in Connecticut, who recalled how she and Clare had been imprisoned together for protest acts in the early 1980s and that Clare had taught her how to be a role model to other incarcerated women.

Patrick O’Neill, who is serving a 14-month sentence, sent a message from the Elkton Correctional Institution in Ohio that Clare will be a “light in the darkness” for women in her next stop, “a den of oppression and despair.”

At the trial, Plowshares 7 attorneys had tried to argue that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protected the protest because the seven were motivated by their faith  and that nuclear weapons are illegal, as an indictment Hennessy taped to the door of the base alleged.

When Hennessy attempted to show the jury photos of bodies at Hiroshima, the judge objected.

At their sentencing, Plowshares activists invoked the Nuremberg principle, stating that it was their duty to try to stop another nuclear holocaust, and that those who “say nothing in the face of evil, are contributing to evil by their collective silence.”

Steve Kelley, who is a Jesuit priest said that he considered himself a “prisoner of conscience for Christ,” preaching against  “the sin that flourishes in weapons of mass destruction.”

Grady stated at her sentencing that the weapons she had tried to sabotage were “not private property, they belong to the people of the United States, they belong to me, to you, to us.”

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Question for this article:

How can we be sure to get news about peace demonstrations?

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These weapons kill and cause harm in our name, and with our money. This omnicidal weapon doesn’t just kill IF it is launched, it kills every day. Indigenous people are, and continue to be, some of the first victims of nuclear weapons—the mining, refining, testing, and dumping of radioactive material for nuclear weapons all happens on Native Land. The trillions of dollars spent on nuclear weapons are resources STOLEN from the planet and her people.”[1]

History

Most members of the Plowshares 7 are affiliated with the Catholic Worker movement which is committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken.

Art Laffin, co-editor of Swords into Plowshares—Nonviolent Direct Action for Disarmament explained  that “the main symbols used in plowshares actions are hammers and blood. Hammers are used to literally begin the process of disarmament that thousands of talks and numerous treaties have failed to accomplish. The hammer is used to take apart as well as create, and to point to the urgency for conversion of war and weapons production to products that enhance life.”

Liz McAlister has been an anti-war activist since she and her late husband, Philip Berrigan, destroyed draft cards during the Vietnam War, and Martha Hennessy is the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the Catholic Worker Movement founder  who is on her way to being canonized as a saint by the Vatican.

The Plowshares group has carried out more than 100 civil disobedience acts to protest the U.S. warfare state since September 1980 when eight peace activists—including Daniel and Philip Berrigan, who had been known for their antiwar activism in the Vietnam era—entered the General Electric plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where the nose cones for the Mark 12-A nuclear warheads were manufactured.

With hammers and blood, the eight enacted the biblical prophecies of Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:3) to “beat swords into plowshares” by hammering on two of the nose cones and pouring blood on documents

The Plowshares 8’s subsequent legal battle was recreated in Emile de Antonio’s 1982 film In the King of Prussia, which starred Martin Sheen  and featured appearances by the Plowshares 8 as themselves.


Since the Plowshares 8 action, others have entered military bases and weapons facilities and symbolically and actually disarmed components of U.S. first-strike nuclear weapons systems: the MX, Pershing II, Cruise, Minuteman ICBMs, Trident II missiles, Trident submarines, B-52 bombers, P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, the Navstar system, the ELF communication system, the Milstar satellite system, a nuclear capable battleship and the Aegis destroyer.

Combat aircraft used for military intervention, such as the F-111 fighter bomber, the F-15A fighter, the F-18 bomber, the A-10 Warthog, the Hawk aircraft, as well as combat helicopters and other conventional weapons, including aircraft missile launchers, bazookas, grenade throwers, and AK-5 automatic rifles, have also been targeted.

One of the most successful actions took place at the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear facility in July 2012  when Mike Walli, Sr., Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, poured blood and spray-painted antiwar messages on it. Because of so-called security issues, this action prompted authorities to close what has been called the “Ft. Knox of Uranium,” for an unprecedented three weeks.

According to William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, the limited mainstream media coverage of the Oak Ridge protest and Congressional reaction—as with the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 action—“were more about how to protect the weapons from protesters than to protect us from the weapons. This rhetoric about safety and security of the weapons complex, and protecting ‘special materials’—a euphemism for ingredients for bombs that can end life as we know it—distracts from the real issue: These are weapons of mass slaughter that must be eliminated before they eliminate us.”

Kings Bay Base

When the Plowshares 7 cut through a padlock and entered the 17,000 acre Kings Bay Base on April 4, 2018, they were equipped with crime-scene tape, banners reading “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide” and “Nuclear Weapons: Illegal—Immoral,” and an indictment charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace, along with the hammers and blood.

One of their main challenges was to avoid detection from the guard towers as a loudspeaker overhead blared: “Deadly force is authorized!

After splitting up, the activists went to three sites on the base: the SWFLANT administration building, the D5 Missile monument installation, and the nuclear weapons storage bunkers.

Patrick O’Neill attached a poster of Martin Luther King, Jr., to a mock-up of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile at the welcome area, commenting afterwards: “I mean, my God, you’re gonna build a statue for something that if it’s used would blow up a whole city full of people. This is your idea of welcoming people? I mean, it’s sick.”

Home to more than 1,000 enlisted and civilian government workers and their families, Kings Bay houses at least six nuclear submarines, each armed with 20 Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles of the multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) variety. Each missile contains numerous nuclear warheads, providing a thermonuclear force multiplier and overwhelming first-strike capability as part of the U.S. nuclear triad.

According to the Navy, the ballistic missile submarines serve as a launch platform for intercontinental missiles that are designed specifically for stealth and the precise delivery of nuclear warheads.

If the Trident were ever launched, it would cause 100 times more damage than the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima.

Patrick O’Neill called it “the most insidious and evil weapon of mass destruction ever constructed.”

The Kings Bay site was opened in 1979 during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the former Governor of Georgia and a Navy veteran and submarine officer who promoted a naval buildup.

The decision to base the Trident submarines at Kings Bay started the largest peacetime construction program ever undertaken by the U.S. Navy. It took nine years to build at a cost of $1.3 billion.

In preparation for the arrival of new submarines mandated under a trillion dollar nuclear weapon modernization program, a major renovation is coming to the Kings Bay waterfront.

The project, estimated to cost more than $840 million, will include $500 million in upgrades to the dry dock and other infrastructure, as well as a $138.6 million nuclear regional maintenance facility, which makes the Plowshares work ever the more urgent.  

In the Shadow of the Berrigan Brothers and Oscar Romero

Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman situated Clare Grady and the Plowshares 7 at the “Festival of Hope” in the tradition of Daniel and Philip Berrigan, and Oscar Romero, El Salvador’s archbishop who was murdered by death squads in 1980 after he spoke out against the ruling oligarchy and for the poor and oppressed.

Cornell University historian Russell Rickford compared Grady to Mae Mallory, an antiwar and Black Power militant who was close with Malcolm X.

Flattered by such comparisons, Grady reiterated at the “Festival of Hope” that she had been motivated by “religious principle and the desire to oppose violence and the normalization of killing; the unrepentant killing that hardly raises eyebrows anymore.”

Grady noted that “the U.S. government plans to spend $100,000 per minute for the next ten years on nuclear weapons and has 800 military bases.

The cost to keep one soldier in Afghanistan for one year is one million dollars, and the cost to keep a prisoner in prison for one year is up to $70,000 while the cost to keep a student in college for a year is far less.”

While dreading going back to prison—or what she calls the belly of the beast—Grady said she has encountered some of her best teachers of resistance in prison, and was inspired by inmates in St. Louis who broke out of their cells and broke windows and threw furniture but did not engage in violence in pressing for more humane conditions.

Grady’s sister Mary Ann, as the last speaker at the webinar, compared the present moment to 1979 when the anti-nuclear movement was just getting off the ground. By the end of the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev had worked together to reduce the nuclear stockpiles of the U.S. and Russia, which is urgently needed today.

With the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock sitting at 100 seconds to midnight, Grady said that the peace movement should continue pushing for divestment from nuclear-weapons’ producing companies—which New York’s City Council has recently proposed—while supporting acts of civil disobedience along the model of the Plowshares 7 who will have left their mark on history.

The African Continental Free Trade Area as a contribution to the culture of peace

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A synthesis by CPNN based on recent articles in The Africa Report (based in Paris), This Day Live (Nigeria), The Herald (Zimbabwe), The Independent Online (South Africa), Euractiv (Belgium), Southern Times (Namibia), and the United Nations News Service quoted here in CPNN

In March 2018, African countries signed a landmark trade agreement, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), committing the countries to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, progressively liberalise trade in services, and address a host of other non-tariff barrier.” Following a summit of AfCFTA in December 2020, the agreement began operation on January 1, 2021.


Forty-four African countries signed an agreement establishing the AfCFTA in Kigali. (Xinhua/Gabriel Dusabe) Credit:CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/1803221658

This may become an important contribution to the culture of peace. According to The Africa Report , “The AfCFTA, if well implemented, would no doubt transform conflicts across the continent by reducing the incentives for participating in conflicts, via the creation of jobs.”

Addressing the recent AU Summit of Heads of State and Government, incoming President Tshisekedi said his priorities would be tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and fostering peace and security on the continent.

The agreement has the potential to promote women’s equality in Africa. In remarks to the AU Summit, outgoing President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that AfCFTA should ensure financial inclusion of women for the trade pact to deliver sustainable and meaningful development. As cited by the Southern Times, President Ramaphosa said state parties would report annually on progress made in strengthening women’s participation in continental trade matters. “This includes tailor made financial products for women with reliable means to save, access, transfer and borrow money,” he expounded. “As the AU, we should also develop a decade action plan to help member states develop key flagship activities towards women’s economic empowerment.” He called for a “women-led Peace Forum to be attended by Heads of State and Government and to implement decisions of the Peace and Security Council to institutionalise the office of the special envoy on women, peace and security.”

According to the World Bank, as quoted in This Day Live, the . . . agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. “The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.

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Question for this article:

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

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“The scope of AfCFTA is large. The agreement will reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regu­latory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing and natural resources sectors.

This will be a major change because at the present time as indicated by According to The Africa Report, intra-African trade accounts for only 18% of overall trade across the continent.

In a related development, the newly-elected head of the World Trade Organization is an African woman, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. As indicated by The Herald (Zimbabwe), “For strategic reasons, the appointment could not have come at a better time for Africa . . . With an anticipated economic boon following the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the continent stands in a better position to lobby for an increase in its world trade share because it can now do so as one single unit and get a sizeable share.”

According to This Day Live, “The rubrics, goals and objectives of the AfCTA aren’t incompatible in anyway with those of the WTO, and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala could help pilot it towards more support for the continent. That could be in offering technical help, trade analysis and policy expertise, turning the dream of free trade across Africa into reality. In addition, she will possess the moral capacity to pressure African political leaders to design and implement sensible trade policies that support growth.”

AfCTA is a major component of Agenda 2063, the 50-year master plan established by the African Union. As described in the Southern Times, the Agenda also includes “the construction of an integrated high speed rail network connecting African capitals; the formulation of an African commodities strategy that unlocks the value of our resources, and creates value chains based on local value addition; and the realisation of an African passport for promotion of free movement of people across our continent. Other flagship programmes are development of 43,200MW Grand Inga Dam; a single African air transport market; and establishment of African financial institutions such as the African Investment Bank, Pan-African Stock Exchange, the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank.”

China and the European Union, major trading partners with Africa, have welcomed the AfCTA. The new Ambassador-designate of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, as quoted by Independent Online, stated, among other things, that the AfCTA can contribute to peace and to sustainable development. “China and Africa fought side by side against imperialism, colonialism and apartheid, and the yearning for peace has long been in the blood of the Chinese and African people. The AU Agenda 2063 emphasises that Africa shall realise peace and security, and Africa’s road to modernization is bound to be one of peaceful development.” “The AU Agenda 2063 advocates building a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, which speaks volumes about Africa’s pursuit of harmony between man and nature in its modernization process.”

In a new report adopted on 28 January, as quoted by Euractiv, the European Union called for “long-term EU financial and technical support for African countries to boost climate adaptation; EU support for African regional integration to help reduce dependence on foreign imports; and for the EU to support the new African continental free trade area which was launched in January.”

African Union Office of the Youth Envoy: Winners Announced fo Youth Silencing The Guns Awards

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An announcement from the African Union Youth Envoy

As part of Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign “Advancing Youth Roles and Capacities to Silence the Guns” launched by the African Union (AU) on 24th July 2020, the Office of the Youth Envoy (OYE) in collaboration with partners provided grants to youth projects through Youth Silencing the Guns Awards to celebrate, elevate and recognise youth impact in the communities with concrete support to grassroots efforts, as well as amplify young peacebuilders initiatives and stories through wide platforms. A total of Four Awards issued under five categories granting each winner $5,000.


Silencing the Climate Crisis Award
to project Ibn El Bitar (Algeria)

Congratulations to Ms. Sakina Benabdelkader from Algeria for winning the Award for Silencing the Climate Crisis. Her project, Ibn El-Bitar, focuses on protecting natural resources and wildlife linked to medicinal and aromatic plants and their transformation into Bionatural products. The projet is protecting the regional natural resources of North African medicinal and aromtic plants by cultiating and practicing beekeeping on the same agricultural land, contributing to the protetion of regional bees.

Silencing Gender-Based Violence Award
to #ShutItAllDown movement (Namibia)

The #ShutItAllDown is a citizen led, owned and organized movement demanding radical and substantive action in curbing the prevalent ocurrance of sexual and gender based violence in Namibia. To date, the movement has protested ten times nation wide, emphasizing the demands of the Shut It All Down Petition. The first of these protests were attended by one thousand young women and men in the capital city, Windhoek. In response, young women and men of the movement ha several meetings with the President of Namibia, the Minister of Justie, and the Peace and security corps. These interventions are targeted at addressing and narrowing the rape crisis in Namibia.

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Question for this article:

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

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Silencing Corruption Award
to Citizens Gavel Foundation for Social Justice (Nigeria)

Project lead: Nelson Olahipekun. Gavel is a not for profit non-governmental organization that increased the pace of justice delivery through access to justice, digital technology and citizens’ engagement. Since inception, Gavel has worked on over 2000 cases and provided legal support to the #ENDSARS movement in Nigeria with over 400 human rights abuses documented.

Silencing Youth Unemployment Award
to Garden of Hope Foundation (Kenya)

Project Lead: Victor Odhiambo. This Leadership and Entrepreneurship Project equipped vulnerable youth with sustainable skills that help them secure employment or start their own income-generating initiatives. The project targeted youth who have dropped out of school and who couldn’t continue with their education, including youth at risk of joining violent extremist groups or local gangs In addition to youth who are sometimes used by politicians to cause political violence. Since he inception of the project, over 1,000 youth have been trained, mentored, and funded to start their business ventures. This enabled the creation of sustainable social and economic opportunities for youth who are living in urban slums and rural communities.

Book review: African peace: Regional norms from the Organization of African Unity to the African Union

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Political Settlements Research Programme

A book by Kathryn Nash published in 2021 by Manchester University Press

African regional organizations have played leading roles in constructing collective conflict management rules for the continent, but these rules or norms have not been static. Currently, the African Union (AU) deploys monitors, authorizes peace support operations, and actively engages to resolve internal conflicts. Just a few decades ago, these actions would have been deeply controversial under the Organization of African Unity (OAU). What changed to allow for this transformation in the way the African regional organization approaches peace and security?

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Question for this article:

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

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African peace examines why the OAU chose norms in 1963 that prioritized state security and led to a policy of strict non-interference – even in the face of destabilizing violence – and why the AU chose very different norms leading to a disparate conflict management policy in the early 2000s. Even if the AU’s capacity to respond to conflict is still developing, this new policy has made the region more willing and capable of responding to violence. Nash argues that norm creation largely happened within the African context, and international pressure was not a determinant factor in their evolution. The role of regions in the international order, particularly the African region, has been under-theorized and under-acknowledged, and this book adds to an emerging literature that explores the role of regional organizations in the Global South in creating and promoting norms based on their own experiences and for their own purposes.

Biden asks Congress to ban ‘weapons of war on our streets’ as he uses 3rd anniversary of Parkland shooting to demand gun control

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from RT (see note below)

President Joe Biden has released a statement allowing a closer look at what his “commonsense” policy on gun laws will be, demanding, among other things, that Congress pass universal background checks and ban “assault weapons.” [CPNN readers will recall that students throughout the United States have rallied to demand such action.]


Photo © REUTERS / Brian Snyder

“Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms,” Biden said in his Sunday statement. The timing matched the third anniversary of the Parkland shooting, which saw a gunman open fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 and wounding another 17.

Biden has long promised to put his weight behind stricter gun laws if he were elected president and his ideas run down the list of common demands gun-control advocates often push for. The president is calling for universal background checks on all gun sales, banning high-capacity magazines, an “assault weapons” ban, and “eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

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(Click here for an article on this subject in French.)

Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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“We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now,” Biden said.

Though he is calling on Congress to act, Biden promised his administration will “not wait for the next mass shooting” to take action.

With Democrats holding a majority in the House and an even split in the Senate leaving Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, Democrats find themselves in a slightly favorable position when it comes to potential new gun laws.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that Biden is “personally committed” to pushing new “gun safety measures” while in office.

Leaders of gun-control advocacy groups also recently met with Susan Rice, who leads the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Cedric Richmond, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and walked away confident new gun laws will be pushed through, not only via Congress but by executive action as well.

“President Biden is committed to taking executive action and working with Congress to put in place reforms that will keep this country’s kids and communities safe,” Peter Ambler, head of the gun-control group Giffords, said after the meeting.

(Editor’s note: Readers may note that we often use Russian news sources to obtain information about events in the West, although almost identical information is available in Western news sources. News sources in the West generally prohibit the reprinting of their reports, while websites like RT welcome the publicity they receive when their articles are reprinted. For example, RT says in its usage statement: “The information on the website is considered public (unless otherwise indicated) and may be distributed or copied for non-commercial purposes (for personal, educational, scientific, etc.), always referring to the link of actualidad.rt.com.” )

New African Union chair President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC sets ambitious agenda for 2021

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

The 34th Session of the African Union Summit ended on 7 February 2021 with the new Chair, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), outlining an ambitious agenda for the year.


Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Addressing a virtual gathering of fellow heads of state and government at the two-day summit, President Tshisekedi said his priorities would be tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and fostering peace and security on the continent.

Combating climate change, expediting regional integration, investing in human capital, promoting Africa’s culture and empowering women and youth will also get his attention.

The theme for this year’s summit and the rest of 2021 is Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.

President Tshisekedi stressed that “Arts, culture and heritage constitute the basis for African renaissance” and afford an opportunity to “look back at our roots.”

He added: “Culture is the beginning and the end of everything; it covers every aspect of human life.”

President Tshisekedi took over from President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa as AU Chair.

Before handing over the reins of the rotating chairmanship of the AU, President Ramaphosa remarked that Africa, like the rest of the world, was confronting a pandemic that is exacerbating inequalities and threatening the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

Africa’s recovery requires debt relief, new funding and debt deferment, Mr. Ramaphosa said, and called for “an injection of fresh resources by the IMF through reallocating and issuing new special drawing rights, with a bias towards the developing world.”

The South African leader said that was necessary to “correct glaring inequalities in fiscal stimulus measures between advanced economies and the rest of the world.”

He highlighted several mechanisms that can help Africa succeed in its development aspirations, among which are the AfCFTA, which will help drive trade, investment and job creation, and enable a stronger and faster recovery.

Another mechanism is the “Silencing the Guns” campaign, which has been extended to 2030, and now consists of a roadmap and practical steps to achieve its objectives. There will be a two-year periodic review of implementation.

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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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The AU-declared Decade of Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion (2020-2030) is expected to support women’s access to financial services, he said.

As well, the Africa Medical Supplies Platform will assist countries to access affordable medical supplies.

“We are committed to developing African solutions to African problems,” Mr. Ramaphosa added.

Insecurity decried

On his part, Mr. Tshisekedi bemoaned insecurity in some parts of Africa. He listed The Sahel region, Central African Republic (CAR), eastern DRC, and northern Mozambique as some of the places currently affected by varying levels of insecurity.

The Summit also witnessed the re-election for a second term of the AU Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat. “I am deeply humbled by the overwhelming and historic vote of confidence,” Mr. Mahamat tweeted after his victory.

A highlight of the Summit was the election of Monique Nsanzabaganwa as the AUC’s first-ever female deputy head.  Before her elections she was the deputy governor of the National Bank of Rwanda.

The new US President Joe Biden delivered a special video message to African leaders, his first to an international gathering since assuming office.

President Biden said: “The United States stands ready now to be your partner, in solidarity, support and mutual respect.”

In his response, the AUC Chairperson Mr. Faki said he was looking forward to “resetting the strategic AU-USA partnership,” signaling renewed multilateralism in addressing global challenges after an apparent frosty relationship with the previous US administration.

On his first day as president, Mr. Biden lifted the ban imposed by the Trump administration on travelers from many African countries, including Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated Mr. Faki on his re-election, saying that, “You can count on my support to continue building on the successful partnership between the AU and the UN, rooted in shared values and mutual respect.”

Before the Summit, Mr. Faki took stock of the significant achievements of his first term, including the establishment of the AfCFTA in March 2018 and the launch that year of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) or “Africa’s Open Skies,” which liberalizes Africa’s airspace.

He said progress had also been made in efforts at resolving the conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, the CAR and the Sudan.

In his next term, Mr. Faki intends to focus on “Silencing the Guns” in conflict countries, promoting the AfCFTA, empowering women and youth, strengthening ties with strategic partners, among others.

“Africa and Asia, Africa and Europe, Africa and America—how can we not be proud that our continent is today at the centre of these immense geostrategic entities?” he posed.

[Editor’s note: Tshisekedi also confirmed the AU participation in the 2nd Biennale of Luanda on the Culture of Peace to be held in Angola in 2021.]

Mayors for Peace : Report on 2020 Vision (Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons)

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

A news article from Mayors for Peace

In October 2003, Mayors for Peace launched the 2020 Vision (Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons, hereinafter referred to as “the Vision”, see Appendix I), a set of concrete action guidelines aiming for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020. Based on this Vision, Mayors for Peace has promoted various initiatives aimed at achieving total elimination of nuclear weapons while the hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) are still alive. In spite of our best efforts, these initiatives did not lead to global abolition by 2020. However, we have taken solid steps toward that goal with milestones such as the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

In conjunction with our initiatives implemented under the Vision, we have committed ourselves to the expansion of our membership. As a result, Mayors for Peace has grown into a global network of cities for peace, composed of over 8,000 member cities all around the world. By expanding our membership, we are establishing a concrete foundation for municipalities both to share challenges more directly related to the activities of local governments, as encapsulated in our objective of “realization of safe and resilient cities,” and to promote greater collaboration throughout a wide range of fields toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The Vision has acquired an excellent reputation and many have expressed their support for it to date—including the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, the EU Parliament, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the Japan Association of City Mayors, and the National Council of Japan Nuclear-Free Local Authorities. Notably, the USCM has unanimously adopted Mayors for Peace resolutions for 15 consecutive years since 2006.

2. Overall Evaluation

Based on the Vision and with the hibakusha’s sincere desire for peace at its core, Mayors for Peace has been engaged in various activities (see Appendix I) to foster and expand international public support for the abolition of nuclear weapons in partnership with our diverse partners around the world, including member cities, their citizens, and many peace NGOs.

In particular, we have taken the opportunity to actively promote the principles of Mayors for Peace while attending United Nations conferences concerning nuclear disarmament, which are precisely where the norms of international society are established. These principles have been formulated both through years of persistently implementing initiatives in solidarity with other NGOs, and through carrying out activities with citizens of our member cities, such as petition drives among many others.

Amid such circumstances, in the process of drafting and negotiating for the TPNW, Mayors for Peace proposed to add an article or clause to enable later development of the treaty as circumstances evolve. The proposed addition would cover crucial issues such as verification, in order to ensure wider participation in the treaty, including by the nuclear-armed states. Such an article was subsequently stipulated in the text, and the TPNW was successfully adopted at the United Nations in July 2017. In October 2020, the number of countries ratifying the treaty reached 50, and it entered into force on January 22 this year.

Thus, two out of the four objectives set in the Vision, “immediately start substantive negotiations toward a universal nuclear weapons convention” and “conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention”, bore fruit as the TPNW, bringing beneficial and progressive outcomes. The international legal obligation not to produce, possess, use, or threaten to use nuclear weapons has been substantially reaffirmed and strengthened by the entry into force of the TPNW. Nuclear weapons are now even more stigmatized, making it much more difficult for the nuclear-armed states to use them in actual practice. However, the treaty does not legally bind nations beyond its contracting parties. Without the nuclear-armed states concluding the treaty, we expect that achievement of the global abolition of nuclear weapons will not be immediately forthcoming.

The two other objectives, “immediately de-alert all nuclear weapons” and “physical destruction of all nuclear weapons,” yet remain. The nuclear stockpile of the world did indeed decline in number, from over 16,500 in 2003, when the Vision was promulgated, to about 13,400 in 2020. Yet the current international situation surrounding nuclear weapons has worsened, with no prospect of achieving these two objectives in the near future. Specifically, nuclear disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime is now stagnant. Notably, while the United States and Russia together possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, their progress on nuclear disarmament has stalled, to the point that they have even stopped negotiations. Nuclear arsenals are being modernized, and nuclear warheads are getting smaller in size—in other words, being upgraded for more likely use. Progress toward the abolition of nuclear weapons is backsliding.

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

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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With the threat felt at this alarming trend and with growing recognition of the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, since around 2010, there has been a change in the perception of nuclear disarmament by non-nuclear weapon states. In the past, nuclear disarmament was discussed mainly in terms of security assurance between nations. However, it has now come to be addressed more with a humanitarian approach that stresses the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. The non-nuclear weapon states, along with NGOs and civil society actors including Mayors for Peace, took action to affect this change and support each other in doing so. Such actions formed a solid base for the birth of the TPNW, and allowed the voices of the hibakusha to be highlighted in the text of the treaty.

3. Achievements Obtained through Substantial Initiatives

While promoting substantial initiatives under the Vision, Mayors for Peace has been taking concrete steps to expand and strengthen its global network of cities in solidarity across borders. In terms of its degree of influence as an organization and its comprehensive activities, it has grown into an entity expected to achieve tangible and successful outcomes. The following are achievements obtained through the implementation of substantial initiatives under the Vision.

The first of these is the expansion of our membership. Our network has grown more than 14-fold, from 554 member cities in 107 countries and regions in October 2003, when the Vision was announced, to 7,974 member cities in 165 countries and regions as of December 2020. This outstanding development shows that we have succeeded in spreading the peace-seeking spirit of Hiroshima and Nagasaki throughout the world, thus expanding the base of members of the public who support the philosophy and principles of the Vision.

With the growth of our membership, we identified a new objective as our second pillar: “realize safe and resilient cities” in drawing up the current Action Plan (see Appendix II) developed in 2017. This pillar is set forth to proactively promote efforts by member cities to address local issues they confront that are unique and distinctive to their respective regions. Although taking a different approach than the first pillar (“realize a world without nuclear weapons”), it is rooted in the same earnest desire of citizens for peace. The second pillar represents Mayors for Peace’s role as a network of local governments from all around the world that work together in solidarity to address and resolve global issues.

Furthermore, since the late 2010s, we have been further strengthening our activities to stimulate young people, the future leaders of society, to take an interest and be engaged in peace activities. These include running the Youth Exchange for Peace Support Program, hosting young officials from member cities in Hiroshima, and holding the Children’s Art Competition “Peaceful Towns.” These initiatives are not only enhancing the sustainability of peace activities in member cities around the globe, but also building the groundwork for Mayors for Peace to be a permanent presence that pursues and realizes its mission well into the future.

4. Our Forthcoming Challenges: The Next Vision

The next Vision will be outlined and adopted at the 10th General Conference of Mayors for Peace, which has been postponed to August this year. It goes without saying that its centerpiece will be the first pillar of the current Action Plan, “realize a world without nuclear weapons.” As mentioned above, in the midst of stagnation in nuclear disarmament, the entry into force of the TPNW does indeed shine a light of hope. Yet many challenges remain to make the treaty a comprehensive and fully effective legally binding instrument.

First of all, encouraging further participation in the treaty is of critical importance to secure the TPNW’s greater influence in international society. With this greater influence, we will urge the nuclear-armed states and their allies to participate in discussions for effective implementation and development of the treaty, to attend meetings of States Parties as observers, and ultimately, to become States Parties. Upon the 50th ratification of the treaty, Mayors for Peace immediately issued an open letter making such an appeal, and we plan to attend the first meeting of States Parties, to be convened within one year, as an observer. It is also significant to address the existing NPT, which fundamentally shares the same ultimate goal of abolishing nuclear weapons. At the 2020 NPT Review Conference, which was postponed to August 2021, we will once again faithfully convey the hibakusha’s urgent plea—“no one else should suffer as we have”―to press national governments on abolition.

In addition, the 11th Executive Conference of Mayors for Peace, held in November 2019, agreed to set forth “promote a culture of peace” as a third pillar, to be newly included in the next Vision. Promoting “a culture of peace” is an essential objective in order to cultivate peace consciousness in civil society and stimulate members of the public throughout the world to be active for peace. This will, in turn, create real momentum for peace and prompt policymakers to take decisive leadership for policy changes toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Mayors for Peace is therefore determined to: work for further expansion of its membership, aiming to achieve 10,000 member cities; strengthen initiatives in close and robust global coalition with member cities, including those in nuclear-armed states and their allies; accelerate and make substantial progress on nuclear disarmament; and continue our utmost efforts toward the ultimate goal—the abolition of nuclear weapons and realization of lasting world peace.