Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

‘Glimmer of Hope’ as UN Security Council Approves Gaza Cease-Fire Resolution

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

An article by Brett Wilkins from Common Dreams

In a move that boosts the three-phase plan announced by President Joe Biden late last month, the United Nations Security Council on Monday voted 14-0—with permanent member Russia abstaining—in favor of a U.S.-sponsored resolution for a cease-fire in Gaza.


The ambassadors of the United Kingdom, United States, and Algeria raise their hands to vote in favor of a United Nations Security Council resolution for a cease-fire in Gaza in New York on June 10, 2024. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia chose not to exercise its power to veto the resolution, which urges Israel and Hamas to “fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

Responding to the vote, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement that “although the Biden administration should have allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass a permanent cease-fire resolution many months and many slaughtered Palestinians ago, we welcome today’s development as a positive and long overdue step toward ending the genocide.”

“The Biden administration must now use American leverage to force [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to agree to a permanent cease-fire so that the massacres of Palestinian civilians can end, all hostages and political prisoners can safely go free, international tribunals can begin holding those responsible for war crimes accountable, and the world can finally begin pursuing a credible end to the illegal occupation of Palestine that has fomented decades of injustice and oppression.”

As U.N. News explained:

Phase one includes an “immediate, full, and complete cease-fire with the release of hostages including women, the elderly and the wounded, the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.”

It calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from “populated areas” of Gaza, the return of Palestinians to their homes and neighborhoods throughout the enclave, including in the north, as well as the safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale.

Phase two would see a permanent end to hostilities “in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

In phase three, “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza” would begin and the remains of any deceased hostages still in the strip would be returned to Israel.”

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Question related to this article:

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

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The council also underlined the proposal’s provision that if negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the cease-fire will continue as long as negotiations continue.

“The only way to end this cycle of violence and build a durable peace is through a political settlement,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield—who vetoed several previous Security Council cease-fire resolutions— said following Monday’s vote.

The Biden administration has provided Israel with billions of dollars in military aid, arms and ammunition sales, and diplomatic cover.

In a statement, Hamas—which led the October 7 attack on Israel that left more than 1,100 people dead and over 240 others taken hostage—welcomed the resolution’s passage and affirmed  its willingness “to enter into indirect negotiations on the implementation of these principles.”

However, Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly, Israel’s representative at the U.N., said her country’s objectives in the war have not changed and vowed to keep fighting “until all of the hostages are returned and Hamas’ military capabilities are dismantled.”

“Israel will not engage in meaningless and endless negotiations which can be exploited by Hamas as a means to stall for time,” she added.

According to Palestinian and international agencies, at least 37,124 Palestinians—mostly women and children—have been killed by Israeli forces during the 248-day Gaza onslaught, which is the subject of an International Criminal Court genocide case  brought by South Africa and supported by more than 30 nations and regional blocs. Nearly 85,000 Palestinians have also been injured. At least 11,000 other Palestinians are missing and believed buried beneath the rubble of hundreds of thousands of bombed-out buildings.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking  arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders for alleged crimes including extermination.

Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama said  after Monday’s vote that “as a free and dignified people, the Palestinians will never accept living under occupation. They will never abdicate their fight for liberation.”

“This text is not perfect, but it offers a glimmer of hope to the Palestinians as the alternative is continued killing and suffering,” he added. “We voted for this text to give diplomacy a chance. It is time to halt the killing.”

The Security Council resolution’s passage follows last month’s vote by the U.N. General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood—a move supported  by 143 members of the World Body but vehemently opposed by Israel and the U.S. Only nine nations voted against recognizing Palestine as an independent state.

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Advances by the anti-war left in Israel: Interview with Uri Weltmann

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

An article by Federico Fuentes in Nueva Sociedad, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (translated by CPNN)

Standing Together is an Israeli Jewish-Arab social movement against racism and occupation and for equality and social justice. In this interview, Uri Weltmann, national organizer for Standing Together, talks about the growing peace movement in Israel, how activists are confronting far-right extremists who are trying to block humanitarian aid from reaching the Gaza Strip, and recent electoral advances of the left.

How has the peace movement within Israel evolved since October 7? Is it changing public opinion and counteracting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war efforts? What role does Standing Together play within the movement?

After October 7, the Israeli police limited people’s right to protest and exercise their civil liberties. It was almost impossible to get a permit to demonstrate. That’s why, throughout October and November, most of the actions undertaken by the peace movement – including Standing Together – were not necessarily marches, pickets or rallies. Instead, we hung street signs reading “Only peace will bring security” and organized emergency Jewish-Arab conferences in two dozen towns and cities across Israel, where we raised the demand for an alternative path to the government’s.

Only in December did the possibility of organizing larger protests arise. At the time, Standing Together brought together hundreds of people at a rally in Haifa on December 16 and another 1,000 people at a rally in Tel Aviv on December 28. In January, we held our first anti-war march, in which a coalition of more than 30 peace movements and organizations mobilized thousands of people.

The latest and largest demonstrations to date occurred in early May, featuring Palestinian and Jewish speakers and thousands of people marching in Tel Aviv under the slogan “Stop the war, bring back the hostages.” One of the speakers was Shachar Mor (Zahiru), whose nephew is held by Hamas in Gaza. He harshly criticized the cynicism of Netanyahu and his allies, and called for an end to the war to bring back the hostages. Avivit John, a survivor of the Kibbutz Beeri massacre, where many civilians were killed on October 7, told the crowd that although he had lost friends and family in the Hamas attack, he did not want us, as a society, to also lose our humanity. He called for an end to the war, recognition of the shared humanity of Israelis and Palestinians and the return of the hostages.

Along with the protests organized by the peace movement, there has also been a broader protest movement demanding the return of the hostages and which, over time, has taken an explicitly anti-war line. In the first months after October 7, family and friends of the hostages organized demonstrations to raise awareness about their plight, with the aim of putting pressure on the government. However, two months ago, this movement took a left turn by linking up with anti-Netanyahu organizations and publicly announcing that they had concluded that Netanyahu and his government were an obstacle to a ceasefire agreement that could facilitate the release of the hostages. Instead, they said, what is needed is a mass movement to force out the government and hold early elections.

A few weeks ago, when negotiations between Israel and Hamas seemed on the verge of reaching an agreement, the protest movement openly declared itself in favor of ending the war in exchange for the return of the hostages. They held one of their massive Saturday protests in Tel Aviv – attended by tens of thousands of people – under the slogan “Hostages, not Rafah”, and popularized the chant “Kulam Tmurat Kulam” (Hebrew for “[Liberation] of all of them, in exchange for all of them”), a call for the release of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails in exchange for the release of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

This broad protest movement has changed the political climate within Israel: the right-wing and far-right parties that make up Netanyahu’s coalition are losing ground among the population. Although they obtained 64 of the 120 seats in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in the November 2022 elections, according to the latest polls today they would only win between 45 and 52 seats. This poses a problem for Netanyahu, as it not only means that he would be removed from office, but that his corruption trial would be resumed and he could possibly end up in jail. So he has both a political and a personal interest in a long, extended war against Gaza, as his far-right coalition partners demand. He knows that a hostage deal will most likely mean the end of the war. And that the end of the war means the dismantling of his coalition government and the calling of early elections, with a consequent political defeat and the possible loss of his personal freedom. It is this assessment that has led the broad protest movement calling for the return of the hostages to realize that Netanyahu is an obstacle that must be removed and not merely an interested party that must be convinced.

Members of Standing Together have intervened in these mass protests – in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Kfar Sava, Karmiel and elsewhere – insisting that the safe return of the hostages must be accompanied by ending the war and the massacres of innocent civilians in Gaza. Furthermore, our message is that the long-term security of both peoples will not be achieved through war, occupation and siege. On the contrary, we demand an end to the occupation and a peace between Israel and Palestine that recognizes the right of everyone to live in freedom, security and independence. There are millions of Israeli Jews in our country and none of them are going to leave. There are also millions of Palestinians in our country and none of them are going to leave. This must be the starting point of our politics if we want to imagine a future of justice, liberation and security.

Standing Together formed the Humanitarian Guard to counter far-right attempts to block aid convoys heading to Gaza. What can you tell us about this initiative?

In mid-May, images and videos drew attention of violent and extremist settlers, known as The Young People of the Hill, attacking trucks at the Tarqumia checkpoint – the main border crossing connecting occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank with Israel – carrying food and other humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian truck drivers were beaten and hospitalized, the bags of flour and wheat were destroyed, and the trucks were set on fire. These violent attacks received local and international media attention, especially because they occurred in front of Israeli soldiers and police who did nothing to prevent them.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version.)

Question related to this article:

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

(article continued from left column)

In response, Standing Together announced the formation of the Humanitarian Guard, an initiative to bring together peace activists from across Israel to act as a physical barrier between extremist settlers and the trucks, document what was happening, and force the police to intervene. . To date, more than 900 people have signed up to volunteer for this initiative. Every day, dozens of people flock from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to the checkpoint. Our protective presence at the Tarqumia checkpoint has allowed the safe passage of hundreds of trucks during the first two weeks, delivering tons of food to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, where a growing famine and humanitarian catastrophe is occurring. .

The first day I was there, the police were forced to move the settlers away and allow the trucks to pass, whose drivers honked their horns in support. The settlers seemed visibly upset by our presence and the fact that we outnumbered them. They abandoned the checkpoint, but we learned from their WhatsApp group that they were regrouping on the road to attack the trucks before they reached the checkpoint. When we reached the intersection where they were, we found them looting a truck, destroying packages of food and throwing it on the side of the road. Only when we arrived did the police reluctantly move them aside, allowing the wrecked truck to drive away. We collected the food to put it on the next trucks. We also documented settler attacks and filed complaints, which led to the police arresting some of them.

We consider the Humanitarian Guard as both a way of expressing solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip and waging a fight for the character of our society: we refuse to allow Israeli society to be modeled after the moral frameworks of the fanatics of extreme right that dehumanize Palestinians and promote a politics of death. Standing Together, as a movement, is rooted within Israeli society, with all its complexities, and works to create changes in public opinion and organize the Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel to build a new majority within our society, one that allows us to move towards peace, equality and social and climate justice.

The United Nations (UN) recently voted to elevate Palestine’s status in that organization, while some European governments have officially recognized the Palestinian state. The United States has even refused to supply bombs to Israel to attack Rafah. Within Israel, is there a feeling that international support is being lost? What impact does this have on public opinion about the government?

The UN vote to give more rights to the Palestinians, as well as the decision by Spain, Norway and Ireland to formally recognize the Palestinian state, are important diplomatic steps to reinforce the international legitimacy of the struggle for liberation and the right to a Palestinian state. I am convinced – and there is a broad international consensus on this matter – that the UN resolutions constitute the best basis to allow the Palestinians to achieve their right to national self-determination, through the establishment of an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital and the Green Line (the border before June 4, 1967) as the border between the States of Palestine and Israel. Such a peace agreement would have to include the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law; a fair and consensual solution for Palestinian refugees based on UN resolutions; the demolition of the so-called Separation Wall built in the early 2000s; and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, including the more than 3,600 “administrative detainees” who remain in jail without charge, trial or conviction, in some cases for many years.

Within Israel, the mainstream media presents this shift in foreign public opinion and diplomatic developments as supposedly directed against all Israelis. The Israeli political class tries to identify the government and the State with ordinary people and presents the international criticism directed against the actions of the Netanyahu government in Rafah as criticism directed against all Israeli citizens, while the accusations of war crimes against Netanyahu and others in high positions are presented as accusations directed against all Israelis. This has the effect of consolidating people around Netanyahu’s government, so that even people who criticize his actions or are looking for a political alternative side with him against the Hague court.

This demonstrates the importance of creating a space within Israeli society to criticize the policies of the political establishment. If all the criticism is external, or if the criticism confuses the people with the government, the effect will be to close, rather than widen, the gap between the majority of the people and the current leaders.

In the midst of the war, local elections were held in which, for the first time, Standing Together gained representation in the municipal councils of Tel Aviv and Haifa. What can you tell us about these results and their importance for the construction of a new left in Israel?

On February 27, local elections were held in Israel. Initially scheduled for October, they were postponed due to the war. These elections, held every five years, determine the composition of the municipal councils. In the months prior to the elections, two new urban movements, both ideologically related to Standing Together, emerged in Tel Aviv and Haifa to compete in those elections.

In Tel Aviv, the local Purple City movement, led by Standing Together national leadership member Itamar Avneri, brings together a majority coalition of urban youth around housing and climate justice issues. In September, he joined with other left-wing sectors, such as the Communist Party, a local environmental movement and some community activists to form an electoral coalition called La Ciudad Somos Todos. This coalition obtained 14,882 votes (7.6%) in the elections and won 3 of the 31 municipal council seats. Avneri, who was the third candidate on the coalition’s list, was elected as a councillor.

In Haifa, the local City Majority movement, led by Sally Abed, from the national leadership of Standing Together, participated in the elections and obtained 3,451 votes (3%), which allowed Abed to be elected as a councilor. It was the first time that a Palestinian woman headed a list for the Haifa municipal council. The list also included as a candidate Orwa Adam, an openly gay Palestinian activist, something unprecedented in Israeli electoral history.

Both lists were joint Jewish-Arab movements and, although organisationally, legally and financially independent of Standing Together – as electoral laws require – both were publicly recognized as consistent with our political “mark”. These successful experiences of electoral movements organized from below are important for the construction of a new popular and viable left in Israel with roots in our communities, an internationalist orientation and grounded in socialist values. In the coming years, this is the main challenge facing all of us who hope to see a combative left in Israel capable of confronting the dominant institutional hegemony and building power around an alternative political project.

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Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press survey and analysis by CPNN

For many years now, CPNN has carried a discussion page on this question, Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

In his 1986 book, The Overburdened Economy, the economist Llloyd J. Dumas argued that in the long run military spending will undermine the ability of the economy to function efficiently; and cause a general decline in economic wellbeing. This is because it does not contribute to the standard of living as consumer goods do, or to the economy’s capacity to produce standard-of-living goods and services in the future, as producer goods do.

This analysis is repeated in his 2005 contribution to a symposium on The Political Economy of Military Spending.

Recent news articles by financial specialists suggest that the Dumas prediction is now coming true, in the form of the ballooning national debt of the United States.


The national debt based on data from the US Department of the Treasury Fiscal Service (click on image to enlarge)

I On May 2, The Economist ran an article with the headline “America’s reckless borrowing is a danger to its economy—and the world’s; Without good luck or a painful adjustment, the only way out will be to let inflation rip.” It blames “the costs of wars, a global financial crisis and pandemic, unfunded tax cuts and stimulus programmes.”

On May 1, Fortune Magazine summarized a number of financial sources as follows:

“The nation’s debt, currently over $34 trillion, is rampantly growing as U.S. lawmakers have been unable to agree to long-term budget reforms that could tame it. 

“Officials from several institutions warn a tipping point is near and it will only get worse if it snowballs into a crisis. The national debt is currently almost the same size as the entire U.S. economy, which is roughly $27.3 trillion, according to a Council on Foreign Relations report, and is on track to double within the next thirty years. 

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Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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“In the last few months, officials at several institutions including the International Monetary Fund, Congressional Budget Office and banking giant Goldman Sachs  Group have cautioned that the country’s skyrocketing debt is a big problem–literally bigger than ever before–and some fear similar market chaos  that derailed former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss’ economy when she was in office in 2022.  . .

“In the U.S., IMF officials have warned that public spending and borrowing will “overheat” the country’s economy, while pushing up funding costs  in the rest of the world. Phillip Swagel, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, said the country’s debt is on an “unprecedented” trajectory in an interview  with the Financial Times, and could risk a Truss-style economic crisis. John Waldron, the president and COO of Goldman Sachs, expressed a similar concern  at Semafor’s World Economic Summit on April 18

With the exception of the passing mention of “the costs of wars” in the Economist article, it is notable that military spending is not mentioned in the many articles quoted here, even though it is the largest contribution to the national debt. It is “forgotten” just as another recent Economist article headlines “Budgetary blindness – America’s fiscal outlook is disastrous, but forgotten.”

The Economist article refers to the fact that the debt problem is “forgotten” by the two main Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump. They continue to make the problem worse, as Biden increases military spending for the Ukraine, and Trump promises to reduce taxes on the rich.

Not mentioned are the positions of third party candidates Cornel West and Chase Oliver.

As reported in CPNN on April 6, Cornel West would address the debt problem by drastically cutting the military budget and instituting a wealth tax.>

And as reported in CPNN this week (May 29), Chase Oliver calls for “major cuts to the federal budget with an eye toward balancing the budget . . . and the closure of all overseas military bases and ending of military support to Israel and Ukraine.”

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Manifesto: European mobilization against increasing militarization and wars

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Excerpts from the website of Nomilitarism translated by CPNN with English version of Manifesto received by email

On the occasion of the European elections on June 9, 2024, we are promoting a European mobilization against growing militarization and wars.

We have started with a Manifesto signed by a wide range of organizations, movements and groups.


The manifesto will be presented before the electoral campaign, at public events in each locality in front of significant buildings that each territorial assembly will decide, taking into account the target audience (public institutions, parties…) and the communicative capacity (photo, video…) for a good media coverage.

It is proposed to present it publicly in all possible towns on May 23 in the morning, as a common date
.
The manifesto can also be sent to political parties, parliaments and national and European governments by mail or fax, registered as a petition and, of course, disseminated through the networks starting on May 23.

Territorial organizations and assemblies can take other actions to support the campaign.

Manifesto

NO TO MILITARIZATION AND NO TO WAR
For a Europe of détente, peace, and shared security

For months now, European political leaders have been laying the groundwork to prepare us for war. Regardless of whether the risk for a large-scale conflict is in fact real or overstated, the continent’s economies are already shifting towards war-time public budgets, and the dire consequences of this are already being felt as the cost of living is becoming unaffordable for large segments of the European population.

History teaches us that progressive steps towards militarization always constitute a prelude to war, and for years they have been building a discursive framework that only serves to legitimize and justify it. In 2014, members of NATO all agreed to increase their respective defense budgets to at least 2% of their GDP. After the invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing genocide in Palestine, the political priorities of NATO and the EU have shifted towards boosting their countries’ spending on acquiring new weapons, reintroducing compulsory military service, financing the military industrial complex to produce more, and creating more funding streams to develop new, more lethal and autonomous prototypes.

The EU has been stoking fears of a possible Russian invasion of Europe to garner public support for its policy of rearmament and militarization. Military expenditures by EU member states reached €289.3 billion in 2023, which represented an increase of more than 21.3 % since 2022. Adding EU community spending (€7.537 billion) and the expenditures of the United Kingdom and Norway (€77.323 billion), total military spending amounts to €374 billion, the second largest in the world, only behind the United States, and nearly four times that of Russia (€100 billion).

The European Union has been implementing a policy of military
deterrence that is proving absurd: it seeks to showcase its greater power and destructive capabilities to the adversary in order to dissuade any attack, but this self-destructive policy will inevitably lead to tensions escalating, an arms race, and a bellicose spiral, with the looming threat of a nuclear war, the catastrophic consequences being the destruction of life on the planet several times
over.

On June 9th, European elections will be held, and we consider it an opportunity to raise our demands to the political forces participating. This is crucial; either we choose to promote policies of peace, détente, and shared security, or we will end up in a militaristic escalation. Increasing defense spending means reducing resources to counter climate change, reduce inequalities and improve health, gender equity, harmonize salaries, or uphold the rights of all citizens.

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

Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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For all these reasons, the signing organizations propose:

● To advocate for détente, moving away from NATO’s threatening rhetoric and arms spirals, activating disarmament, opening the doors to dialogue and mutual trust with the aim of de-escalating conflicts through the use of diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation, and non-violence. These policies should lead to the end of armed violence in Ukraine, Palestine, and other places in the world. It is necessary to resume the commitment of the 1990s to a common and shared security without exclusions in Europe.

● To promote a foreign policy oriented towards peace, focused on human security, through instruments such as mediation,
diplomacy, defense of human rights, or civil intervention in
conflicts in order to build peace.

● To promote spaces for dialogue among social movements,
academics, and politicians aimed at developing proposals for
peace policies, civilian peace corps, civil defense, and unarmed security. Enhancing human and economic resources for the military-industrial conversion to civilian productive sectors of interest.

● To actively promote environmental peace grounded in scientific principles, with clear and secure decarbonization policies that minimize and repair the damages that will affect future generations. To promote policies that impact the improvement of people’s daily lives.

● To promote a human security policy focused on people’s needs, with their involvement and participation.

Initial signatories:

° Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau
° Fundipau
° Institut NOVACT de Noviolència
° UNIPAU
° Lafede.cat – organitzacions per a la justícia global
Coordinadora d’ONG Solidàries de les comarques gironines i l’Alt Maresme,
° Coordinadora d’ONG pel Desenvolupament, la Defensa dels Drets Humans i la Pau de Tarragona
° Campanya Aturemlesguerres.cat
° Plataforma Desmilitaritzem l’Educació de Catalunya
° Fundació Carta de la Pau dirigida a l’ONU
° Justícia i Pau
° Federació de la Xarxa de Cooperació al Desenvolupament del Sud de Catalunya
° Dones x Dones
° CIEMEN
° Alternativa Antimilitarista MOC/ADNV Canarias
° Ecologistas en Acción
° Moviment d’Objecció de Consciència MOC-València
° Asamblea Antimilitarista de Madrid
° Coordinadora de ONGD del Principado de Asturias
° Plataforma Aturem la Guerra
° Plataforma Catalunya per la pau
° WILPF (Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad)
° Llegat Jaume Botey i Vallès
° Coordinadora Valenciana de ONGD
° Comisión General Justicia y Paz
° Coordinadora Galega de ONGD
° Consell d’Associacions de Barcelona
° Ca la Dona
° Alternativas Noviolentas
° Mujeres de Negro contra la Guerra – Madrid
° Escola de Cultura de Pau de la UAB
° AIPAZ – Asociación Española de Investigación para la Paz
° Fundación Cultura de Paz
° Movimiento Por la Paz -MPDL-
° Comunitat Palestina de Catalunya
° Prou Complicitat amb Israel
° Campanya per la fi del Comerç d’armes amb Israel
° UGT de Catalunya
° CCOO de Catalunya
° Òmnium Cultural

Sign the Manifesto

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

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An news flash from Mayors for Peace

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

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

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

Celebrate the month for the culture of peace

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

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

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

Organize Events to Commemorate the International Day of Peace

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

Pass down Atomic Bomb Experiences through Testimonies

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

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

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

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

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Hold Mayors for Peace Atomic Bomb Poster Exhibitions

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

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

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

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

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

Nurture seeds and seedlings from atomic bomb survivor trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

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

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


Presentation of resolution by Bangladesh ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith.

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

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

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

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Question for this article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UN Security Council Holds Rare Nuclear Disarmament Debate

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

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

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

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


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

Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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

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

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

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

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Search for Common Ground in Israel and Palestine

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

Excerpts from the webpage and videos of Search for Common Ground

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

Video 5. Click on image to see the video

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

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

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

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Question related to this article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE KREMLIN: A WESTERN MISCONCEPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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