Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

United Nations from the field: Desert artisans in Mali foster dialogue and tolerance

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

Two articles from the United Nations

Traditional arts and crafts are being used to build peace and dialogue in Mali thanks to the work of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MINUSMA.


MINUSMA/Gema Cortes. Tuareg women artisans produce leather goods as part of a project supported by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

Some 360 artisans based around Menaka, in the far northeast of the West African nation, some of whom fled as refugees to neighbouring Niger, have been encouraged to return to the town’s newly restored House of Artisans to practice a range of traditional crafts, including leatherwork, silver-smithing, sewing and carpentry.

MINUSMA, which supported the restoration, is hoping bringing artisans together from a range of ethnic groups will help to reinforce social cohesion, tolerance and improve security as well as providing much-needed employment.

The Menaka region is experiencing increasing insecurity as a result of attacks by terrorist groups and armed bandits.

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Using art to promote social cohesion in Mali

A related article from the United Nations

Taking a piece of leather in her hand, Bachira, a Tuareg artisan, starts weaving an ornament that will be sewed onto a new colourful tribal saddle cushion that may end up decorating a home somewhere.

Bachira is an accomplished leather worker. She is among 360 artisans in Mali sponsored by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to promote social cohesion and dialogue through traditional art.

“When I returned home from exile, the only personal belongings I brought were my knowledge and my hands. This project is helping me to make the most of what I have. It ensures I can cover my family essential needs. I want them to have a better life than mine,” she said.

Bachira Walet Mohamed, a 50-year-old mother-of-eight is from a village close to Menaka, in the far north-east of Mali. She fled her home with her family during the humanitarian crisis following the 2012 conflict. The whole family lived one year in exile in Niger, before returning in 2014.

Only last year did Bachira fully retake her tribal leather work. Thanks to “The House of Artisans’, a regional crafters association, rebuilt and equipped using MINUSMA support. “During those difficult years of violence shaking our town, the workshop was vandalized and as a result it closed down. I didn’t have anything, not even to buy food,” she recalled.

Art to foster dialogue and tolerance

MINUSMA saw the potential to promote peace and dialogue through traditional arts and crafts, thus the idea to restore “The House of Artisans” to its glory, through a Quick Impact Project (QIP). The Menaka ‘House of Artisans” was completely rebuilt and equipped with furniture, machines and tools for artisans working in jewelry, welding, leatherwork, forging metal, carpentry, sewing and wood carving.

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Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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The project, under USD$45,000, gave back an economic activity to up to 360 artisans from different ethnics’ groups It even improved the operating environment and enhanced their production and distribution capacities through training.

MINUSMA’s QIP objective is to contribute to the socioeconomic development by improving the income of artisans across the Menaka region, which is experiencing increasing insecurity as a result of attacks by terrorist groups and armed bandits.

According to Adass Ag Abdoul Karim, President of the Union of Artisans and coordinator of the project, art can break barriers and promote tolerance because “the objective to create a space for dialogue, tolerance and peace through art,” he said. “Thereby, reducing unemployment and improving family income of the artisans.”

Metalsmith (left) pictured with Adas Ag Abdoul Karim (right), President of Union of Artisans in Menaka, Mali. Photo: MINUSMA/Gema Cortes

Adass is grateful for MINUSMA’s continuous support to his community and for helping rebuild the confidence in Mali’s well-known craftsmanship. Nevertheless, he underlines the need for young people to be trained, in order to safeguard the ancient traditions of Malian artistry. By doing so, one is both promoting the quality and marketing skills of artisans, particularly those of women and the creation of employment. All leading to peace and stability.

Since 2013, MINUSMA sponsored more than 740 QIPs projects in Mali totalling USD$24 million benefitting over 10 million people. These projects contributed to strengthening social cohesion and security, improving access to basic health care and water, fostering training and education, promoting the use of agro-pastoral resources, creating temporary and long-term employment and supporting cultural heritage.

Providing a crucial lifeline for struggling artisans

While the temperature is reaching its peak in the sandy streets of Menaka, under e blazing sun, several Tuareg jewelers toil away inside the House of Artisans. Most of them are hand-engraving silver pieces homemade tools. This shows how little has changed in the traditional Tuareg jewelry making process.

Alhader Ag Tital is fifty-one-year-old. He is Tuareg, very quiet and a silversmith. He learnt the trade from his grand-parents and parents, becoming a master himself. His quietness ends up when he talks about his participation in this project. “I am very, very, very happy. It’s the first time we have a proper space for working. We now have a safe and operational place, and we are so grateful.”

Despite being the most dangerous active peacekeeping deployment in the world, with so far 158 blue helmets killed by hostiles forces, and dozens more killed by accidents and illness since its creation in 2013, MINUSMA remains committed to help rebuild sustainable peace in this landlocked north-west African nation. This project proves peace and dialogue can be achieve through numerous actions, involving all groups and different communities, and, at the same time promoting livelihoods and empowerment.

Cameroon : From a life of violence to a culture of peace

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

A young peace campaigner from Cameroon who turned his back on the violence prevalent in his hometown and became a youth civil society activist, has been telling the United Nations about how he is helping other young people to reject conflict, and take a greater role in building peace in the country.


© UNICEF/Salomon Marie Joseph Beguel
Young people in Cameroon are key to promoting a peaceful culture in the West African country.

Christian Achaleke spoke to the UN ahead of International Youth Day, which is marked annually on August 12th.

“My decision to become a peace activist was influenced by my personal experience. I grew up in a community plagued by violence: it was a way of life. At some point, I came to realize that violence leads us nowhere. I lost some friends and acquaintances, and others were thrown into jail.

I began volunteering in 2007, and this gave me a new perspective built around peace and helping to improve communities. It has been an inspiring, life-changing experience.

As a young person involved in peacebuilding and countering violent extremism, I find myself speaking to my peers. When I go to prisons to speak to other young people, I can show them that there are better ways to respond to the challenges they face than violence and develop solutions to the drivers of conflicts.

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

Question related to this article:
 
“Put down the gun and take up the pen”, What are some other examples?

Can a culture of peace be achieved in Africa through local indigenous training and participation?

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Underestimated youth

However, I would say that our role has been underestimated. Sometimes I feel that communities, leaders and institutions turn a blind eye to what we are doing, even though we are the ones who suffer the most in times of conflict. 

In Cameroon, we have tried to provide young people with the opportunity to engage in local community peacebuilding and peace process initiatives, giving them guidance, mentorship and support. 

We are telling the government, the UN and other organizations that it is a good strategy to involve youth, to give them the skills to take part in mediation and provide a safe space in which they can be a part of the process.

Culture, diversity and heritage are very important to me as a Cameroonian. They should serve as a unifying factor but, because we did not properly harness them, we are facing a violent conflict. 

That is why managing culture, heritage, diversity and our diaspora community is very important for peace, and it is something that we have been trying to practice for a long time.

Values to prevent conflict

To me, a culture of peace is a set of values, lifestyle, morals, and ethics which are developed as a way to prevent conflict or violence and also to engage people towards peaceful and ethical living. 

To create a culture of peace in Africa, young people and women need to be engaged, and at the forefront of the process. It is also important to provide opportunities for people and communities to be able to share experiences and ideas.

Little is being spoken about young people changing the face of the African continent but that does not mean that we are not doing good work. I am calling on heads of States, policy makers, communities and every person of good will, to stand and support young boys and girls, and ensure that they can lead the transformations of their countries, and build the African continent”.

UN pledges full support to Nagasaki voices fuelling ‘powerful global movement’ against nuclear arms

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

António Guterres has reaffirmed the full support of the United Nations to amplifying the powerful testimony of the survivors of the atomic bomb that was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, 76 years ago, which has helped build a “powerful global movement against nuclear arms”.


In his message to the Nagasaki Peace Memorial on the 9 August anniversary, the UN Secretary-General said he continued to be humbled by the “selfless acts of the hibakusha, the name given to those who survived and continue to bear witness.

“Your courage in the face of immense human tragedy, is a beacon of hope for humanity”, he said in his address, delivered on his behalf at the ceremony by the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu.

“I reaffirm the full support of the United Nations to ensuring that your voices are heard by the world’s people, and especially by younger generations.”

Out of the ashes

The UN chief told the people of the city that was devastated in 1945, just days after the first bomb was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima during the final days of World War Two, that they had built a “cultural metropolis” out of the ashes.

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

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“Your dynamic city exemplifies modernity and progress, while you work diligently to prevent devastation from ever befalling another city”, he said, warning however that the prospect of another nuclear weapon being used, were as dangerous now, as any time since the height of the Cold War between the US and former USSR.

“States are racing to create more powerful weapons, and broadening the potential scenarios for their use. Warlike rhetoric is turned up to maximum volume, while dialogue is on mute”, said the Secretary-General.

Grounds for hope

But two developments this year provide grounds for hope, in the form of the reaffirmation from the US and Russia, “that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, together with a commitment to engage in arms control talks.

Secondly, said Mr. Guterres in his message, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has now come into force, representing “the legitimate fears of many States, about the existential danger posed by nuclear weapons.”

And for the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the UN chief said they all parties now need to reinforce “the norm against nuclear weapons” at the upcoming Tenth Review Conference, and take real steps towards elimination.

It is incumbent on all Member States of the UN, “to seek the abolition of the most deadly weapons ever made”, said Mr. Guterres, and together, we must prevent the tragedy of Nagasaki’s nuclear destruction, “from ever occurring again.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

UNAC statement: Ban nuclear weapons starting with the US! Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A statement from the United National Antiwar Coalition

On August 6, we will once again recognize one of the most horrendous events ever to take place in human history. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the largely residential city of Hiroshima. Three days later they dropped a second nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. As many as 250,000 people, men, women and children were annihilated and many more died subsequently from the wounds, radiation poisoning and radiation-induced cancers. The United States is the only country to ever drop a nuclear bomb on people.

The stated reason for this barbaric act was to hasten the end of World War II. But many historians believe that Japan was ready to surrender before the dropping of the bomb especially once the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan and moved its forces into Manchuria. Germany had already surrendered, and Japan stood alone. At the time, some argued that the bomb should be dropped in Tokyo Bay in the water where it would have done far less damage and Japan’s leaders could see its destructive potential, but the decision was made to drop it on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. Once was not enough, they had to do it twice.


Many people now believe that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not to end WWII, which was in its final days but to start the Cold War and show the Soviet Union and the world what the US could do if any country dared to oppose it.

One also wonders if dropping the bomb on non-white people played a role. Were Japanese lives valued less by the white supremacist US government, which maintained a segregated military during World War II? After all, people of Japanese descent, including US citizens were put in internment (concentration) camps in the US while people of German descent were not.

There was also serious consideration by the US of using nuclear weapons in the Korean war. The US actually sent the B29 bombers used to drop the bombs on Japan to a military installation in Okinawa along with the nuclear bombs and the fissile cores needed to make them work. This was in preparation for their possible use in the war. President Truman told a press conference in November 1950 that he would take whatever steps were necessary to win in Korea, including the use of nuclear weapons. General Douglas MacArthur, who was the “supreme commander” of the US led forces in Korea disagreed with Truman on the use of nuclear weapons in the war. So, Truman fired MacArthur and replaced him with General Matthew Ridgway, who was given “qualified authority” to use the bombs if he felt they were necessary.

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

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The problem the US administration faced with in the use of the atomic bomb in Korea were two-fold. The first was that the US public and certainly the people of the world were horrified after seeing the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Much of this horror was accredited to the book Hiroshima by John Hershey which was published in its entirety in the New Yorker magazine in 1949. The book described the destruction and told the story of 6 survivors of the bombing. It led to a groundswell of opposition to nuclear weapons. The second problem for the US administration was that in 1949 the Soviet Union conducted their first tests of an atomic bomb, and the assessment was that they soon would have a workable weapon. Although nuclear weapons were not used in Korea, the military did several test-runs with their B29 bombers carrying conventional bombs.

Unlike WWII, the United States has consistently refused to end the Korean war. To the US government, it is still going on and they still intend to win. The US maintains a large troop presence in Korea at the border with the North and has conducted annual “war games,” which many consider practice invasions of the Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK), AKA, North Korea. These “war games,” typically include scenarios in which the US uses nuclear weapons against the DPRK. In recent years the US has provocatively sent nuclear capable bombers within 75 miles of the border with the DPRK. Yet in the upside-down logic of US Imperialism and its corporate media it is not the war games, the US troops on the border, or the nuclear capable flights that are provocative but the clearly defensive nuclear program of the DPRK.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki opened the nuclear arms race that has led to today’s reality where it is possible to kill off the entire population of the world several times over. This is supposed to make us safer.

But the nuclear arms race was always one-sided, with the US making the new and more advanced systems, and then the Soviet Union and later China taking steps to do the same to gain parity. After the development of the atomic bomb, the US made the more powerful hydrogen bomb, then the Soviets did the same. The US then made missile delivery system and multiple warhead missiles, nuclear submarines, etc. and then others scrambled to gain parity. And now the US has announced it will develop a space force, so other countries feel the need to find a way to counter or do the same. Without the investment of money and effort that was put into these weapons of mass destruction, the world may have been able to address global warming, hunger, poverty, etc. That would have made us safer.

In recent years the U.S. has unilaterally withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, has initiated a $1.5 Trillion program to modernize the US nuclear arsenal and started the creation of the new military space force.

For these reasons, the United National Antiwar Coalition sees the main danger of nuclear war coming from the United States and believes that we in the US have a special obligation to the world to oppose that danger.

Ban nuclear weapons starting with the US!
Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Nagasaki Peace Declaration

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A declaration by TAUE Tomihisa Mayor of Nagasaki

This year saw the passing of a Catholic monk. OZAKI Toumei spent his whole life following in the footsteps of Father Maximilian Kolbe, the man who was called the “Saint of Auschwitz.” Brother Ozaki spoke out about his experiences in the atomic bombing up until just before his life came to a close at the age of ninety-three. In his diary he left behind these words:

The countries of the world, all of them, must completely abolish nuclear weapons or there will be no peace on earth. Nuclear weapons are not conventional bombs. Only those who experienced the atomic bombings can understand the terror inherent in radiation. Parents, children, loved ones and many others were killed by these bombs. In order to see that they are not used again I keep saying, “This is wrong! This is wrong!” I keep screaming for the abolition of nuclear weapons.


Those of us who survived the hell of the atomic bombings want to make sure that we have peace without nuclear weapons before we die.

The “peace without nuclear weapons” that Brother Ozaki continued to call for has not as yet been realized. However, the wish he had has borne fruit in the form of a certain treaty.

This year marks the 76th year since humankind experienced the tragedy of the atomic bombings and we are now standing on a new horizon with regard to nuclear weapons. When the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force this January, it was the first time in human history that there had been an international law clearly stating that nuclear weapons are unequivocally illegal.

The process to make this newly-established treaty grow into a universal rule for the world and realize a world free of nuclear weapons will now begin. The point of departure will be the first meeting of state parties to the treaty, which will be held next year.

Conversely, however, the danger of nuclear weapons continues to grow. While the nuclear-armed nations have a responsibility to uphold the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and reduce nuclear weapons, moves such as the public announcement by the UK about increasing the number of nuclear warheads in that country show that dependence on such weapons is actually increasing. Furthermore, the competition to replace existing nuclear weapons with more sophisticated weapons and develop new types of nuclear weapons increases.

In order to follow a single path toward a world free of nuclear weapons amidst these two conflicting movements, world leaders must commit to nuclear arms reductions and build trust through dialogue, and civil society must push them in this direction.

I hereby appeal to the Government of Japan and members of the National Diet:

As the country that is most aware of the tragic consequences of nuclear weapons, please join as an observer to the first meeting of state parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in order to look into ways to develop this treaty. With regard to the stipulation in the treaty to provide assistance to victims of the use or testing of nuclear weapons, surely this is an area where Japan and its government can contribute more than any other country. In addition, please sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and see to its ratification at the earliest possible date.

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

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While adhering to the war-renouncing principle of peace in the Japanese Constitution, please look into building a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia that would create a “non-nuclear umbrella” instead of a “nuclear umbrella” and be a step in the direction of a world free of nuclear weapons.

I hereby appeal to the leaders of nuclear-armed nations and countries under their nuclear umbrellas:

You must face the reality that thinking of nuclear weapons as necessary to defend your countries under “nuclear deterrence” actually makes the world a more dangerous place. I ask you to see that substantial progress towards nuclear disarmament is made at the next NPT Review Conference, starting with greater steps by the U.S. and Russia to reduce nuclear weapons.

To everyone living on this earth:

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have experienced on a global scale the loss of everyday aspects of our lives that we previously took for granted. We have learned that in order to overcome this crisis it is necessary for each and every one of us to think of ourselves as concerned parties and act appropriately. Now we all ponder together the question of how we can build an even better future when the pandemic is over instead of just returning to the way things were before.

It is the same with nuclear weapons. Are we members of the human race going to choose a future in which we continue to maintain nuclear weapons that will pollute the earth and doom humanity?

Hasn’t the time come for us to raise our individual voices, as is being done in the movements for decarbonization and sustainable development goals, and speak out against the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons in order to bring about change in the world?

May Nagasaki be the last place to suffer an atomic bombing.

These words are sent from Nagasaki to people all over the world. Hiroshima will eternally be remembered in history as the first place to suffer an atomic bombing, but whether Nagasaki continues to take its place in history as the last place to suffer an atomic bombing depends on the future we build for ourselves. The unchanging resolve of the hibakusha to see that “no one in the world ever goes through that experience again” is expressed in these words, as is the goal clearly stated in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is a hope that each and every one of us should continue to hold onto.

Let us share these words with the people of the world and follow a clear path towards a nuclear- free world over the twenty-five-year period that begins this year and brings us to the one- hundredth anniversary of the atomic bombings.

While joining forces with young people of the last generation to directly hear the voices of the hibakusha, Nagasaki will continue to communicate the truth about what happened seventy-six years ago; facts that must never be forgotten.

The average age of the hibakusha is now over eighty-three. I ask that the Government of Japan provide improved support for the hibakusha and relief measures for those who experienced the atomic bombings but have not yet received official recognition as bombing survivors.

Ten years have now passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftermath. We will not forget what happened in Fukushima. We extend from the bottom of our hearts a call of encouragement to all those in Fukushima who continue to face a variety of hardships.

While extending our deepest condolences to those who lost their lives to the atomic bombs, I hereby declare that Nagasaki will work tirelessly alongside Hiroshima and all people who desire peace to spread a “culture of peace” around the world and bring about the abolishment of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal peace.

The City of Hiroshima: PEACE DECLARATION

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A declaration by The City of Hiroshima

August 6, 2021. On this day 76 years ago, a single atomic bomb instantly reduced our hometown to a scorched plain. That bombing brought cruel death to countless innocent victims and left those who managed to survive with profound, lifelong physical and emotional injuries due to radiation, fear of aftereffects, and economic hardship.One survivor who gave birth to a girl soon after the bombing says,”As more horrors of the bomb came to light, and I became more concerned about their effects, I worried less about myself and more about my child. Imagining the future awaiting my daughter, my suffering grew, night after sleepless night.”


“No one else should ever suffer as we have.”These words express the will of survivors who, having known horrors too painful to recall, were condemned to fear, frustration, and agony by the likely future of their children and their own irradiated bodies. When hibakusha tell their stories, they convey not only the horror and inhumanity of nuclear weapons but also an intense yearning for peace, born of compassion. Finally, after 75 long years of sustained activity, their demands have moved the international community. This year, on January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into effect. It remains now for world leaders to support this treaty, shifting their focus toward a truly sustainable society free from nuclear weapons.

The novel coronavirus still ravages our world. The community of nations recognizes this threat to humanity and is taking urgent measures to end it. Nuclear weapons, developed to win wars, are a threat of total annihilation that we can certainly end, if all nations work together. No sustainable society is possible with these weapons continually poised for indiscriminate slaughter. The combined wisdom of all peoples must be trained on their total abolition.

The road to abolition will not be smooth, but a ray of hope shines from the young people now taking up the hibakusha’s quest. One survivor who witnessed hell that day entrusts our future to the young with these words:”Start small, but I hope each of you will do whatever you can to promote and maintain the treasure we call peace ..” I ask our young to sustain an unshakeable conviction that nuclear weapons are incompatible with full, healthy lives for their loved ones. I further ask them to share that conviction persuasively with people around the world.

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

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We must never forget that young people can certainly compel world leaders to turn away from nuclear deterrence. Three years after the bombing, Helen Keller visited Hiroshima, encouraging its residents in the struggle to recover. “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Her words remind us that individuals, when united, have the power to change the world. If the determination to live in peace sweeps through civil society, people will elect leaders who share that determination. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate human violence. If civil society decides to live without them, the door to a nuclear-weapon-free world will open wide. The atomic bombed city of Hiroshima will never stop preserving the facts of the bombing, disseminating them beyond borders, and conveying them to the future. With the more than 8,000 Mayors for Peace member cities in 165 countries and regions, we will promote a worldwide “culture of peace.” In a global culture where peace is a universal value, world leaders will find the courage to correct their policies.

Given the uncertainty concerning nuclear weapons derived from stalled disarmament negotiations, I have an urgent demand to make of world leaders. The time has come for a profound tactical shift away from reliance on threats toward security based on trust derived from dialogue. Experience has taught humanity that threatening others for self defense benefits no one. Our leaders must understand that threatening rivals with nuclear weapons achieves nothing of value, but treating each other with empathy and building long-lasting friendships connect directly to national self-interest. To that end, I urge all world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, achieve a deeper understanding of the bombings, fulfill the disarmament mandate of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and join the discussions aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of the TPNW.

With respect to the Japanese government, I request productive mediation between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Furthermore, in accordance with the will of the hibakusha , I demand immediate signing and ratification of the TPNW, then constructive participation in the first Meeting of States Parties . Fulfilling the role of mediator must involve creating an environment that facilitates the restoration of international trust and security without reliance on nuclear weapons. The average age of our hibakusha is close to 84. I demand more generous assistance for them and the many others suffering daily due to the harmful physical and emotional effects of radiation. I demand as well immediate relief for those exposed to the black rain.

At this Peace Memorial Ceremony marking 76 years since the bombing, we offer heartfelt prayers for the peaceful repose of the souls of the atomic bomb victims. Together with Nagasaki and likeminded people around the world, we pledge to do everything in our power to abolish nuclear weapons and light the way toward lasting world peace.

MATSUI Kazumi
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima

Bangladesh: Dhaka to host World Peace Conference on Dec 4-5

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from the Dhaka Tribune

The government has fixed December 4 and 5 to hold the planned “World Peace Conference” as part of the ongoing celebration of birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen adressing the press in Dhaka on Thursday, May 20, 2021 Focus Bangla

“We have decided to hold the conference in the month of victory, and we are hopeful to make it in-person,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his residence on Monday.

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Question related to this article:
 
Are there countries that promote a culture of peace?

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He said that the “Bangabandhu Peace Award” would be introduced and conferred during the conference. Many countries introduce such awards after the name of their father of the nation, like Gandhi Peace Prize in India.

Momen also said Dhaka is not planning to invite any heads of states or governments to the conference, rather the government will gather the world-renowned peace activists, writers, poets, singers and global civil society figures to promote the culture of peace and tolerance.

A national committee headed by Speaker Shirin Sharmin Choudhury has already been formed to organize the peace conference successfully. The committee members sat for the first meeting on Monday.

At the conference, a special discussion would be held on the life of Bangabandhu as Bangladesh is now a model of peace following the path shown by its founding father, the minister said.

He added that Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is spreading the peace message across the world, which is the “culture of peace.”

Mayors for Peace Adopts New Vision and Action Plan

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

Text taken from the Mayors for Peace PX Vsion and Actio Plan

In order to achieve a world in which all people can perpetually benefit from peace by realizing the total elimination of nuclear weapons and by attaining and maintaining peaceful coexistence between the whole of humanity, subsequent to the 2020 Vision, Mayors for Peace adopted the Vision for Peaceful Transformation to a Sustainable World (PX Vision): Peacebuilding by Cities for Disarmament and Common Security at the 12th Executive Conference in July 2021. Based on this, we will build cities where citizens act with a strong sense of solidarity for the ultimate goal of realizing lasting world peace.


Participants in 12th Executive Conference
(click on image to enlarge)

As the Vision of a global network made up of heads of local governments, whose role is to ensure citizens’ safety and security, it centers on the objective “realize a world without nuclear weapons” in the quest for the eradication of the greatest threat to our peaceful lives.

Another objective, “realize safe and resilient cities,” has been set forth as a target indispensable to ensuring citizens’ safety and security by tackling the issues distinctive to each member’s region that are threatening the coexistence of the human race.

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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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While accomplishing these two objectives, we must also bring about a fundamentally important paradigm shift involving two things. Firstly, we will seek to change the “nation-minded” approach currently prevalent among global leaders, which prioritizes each country’s own interests, to a “civic-minded” approach, which values mutual aid and the recognition of shared interest. Secondly and more importantly, we will seek to build a consensus in civil society in favor of the realization of a peaceful, nuclear weapon-free world. Through the shift represented by these two things, we will urge policymakers to demonstrate decisive leadership to effect peace-oriented policy change. For this reason, we have set forth a third objective, “promote a culture of peace,” to establish a concrete base for the other two objectives. This entails cultivating peace consciousness and causing a culture of peace—a 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 a network composed of mayors of local governments, the most immediate presence to citizens, Mayors for Peace has concluded that promoting a culture of peace is the most significant role to fulfill both locally and internationally.

These three objectives to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world, safe and resilient cities, and a culture of peace are mutually reinforcing goals. Together, they aim to cultivate a shared sense of belonging to a single human family, regardless of our cultural, religious, or ethnic differences.

Furthermore, sustainable development of Mayors for Peace as an organization will be key to consistent implementation of various initiatives under this Vision. To that end, in conjunction with further expansion of our membership, we will enhance our members’ initiatives, work in collaboration with a diverse range of groups, strengthen the functions of the Secretariat, and improve our financial capability.

Based on the following Vision and the 2021 – 2025 Action Plan, and in solidarity with 8,037 member cities in 165 countries and regions, we hereby express our determination to continue our utmost efforts toward our goal of realizing lasting world peace.

US: Why Daniel Hale Deserves Gratitude, Not Prison

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Kathy Kelly in Transcend Media Service

“Pardon Daniel Hale.” These words hung in the air on a recent Saturday evening, projected onto several Washington, D.C. buildings, above the face of a courageous whistleblower facing ten years in prison.

The artists aimed to inform the U.S. public about Daniel E. Hale, a former Air Force analyst who blew the whistle on the consequences of drone warfare. Hale will appear for sentencing before Judge Liam O’Grady on July 27th.


Image of Daniel Hale projected on a building in Washington, D.C. on June 26, 2021. Photo credit:  Nick Mottern

The U.S. Air Force had assigned Hale to work for the National Security Agency. At one point, he also served in Afghanistan, at the Bagram Air Force Base.

“In this role as a signals analyst, Hale was involved in the identifying of targets  for the US drone program,” notes Chip Gibbons, policy director for Defending Rights and Dissent, in a lengthy article about Hale’s case. “Hale would tell the filmmakers of the 2016 documentary National Bird  that he was disturbed by ‘the uncertainty if anyone I was involved in kill[ing] or captur[ing] was a civilian or not. There’s no way of knowing.’”

Hale, thirty-three, believed the public wasn’t getting crucial information about the nature and extent of U.S. drone assassinations of civilians. Lacking that evidence, U.S. people couldn’t make informed decisions. Moved by his conscience, he opted to become a truth-teller.

The U.S. government is treating him as a threat, a thief who stole documents, and an enemy. If ordinary people knew more about him, they might regard him as a hero.

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Question for this article:

Drones (unmanned bombers), Should they be outlawed?

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

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

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Hale was charged  under the Espionage Act for allegedly providing classified information to a reporter. The Espionage Act is  an antiquated World War I era law, passed in 1917, designed for use against enemies of the U.S. accused of spying. The U.S. government has dusted it off, more recently, for use against whistle blowers.

Individuals charged under this law are not allowed  to raise any issues regarding motivation or intent. They literally are not allowed to explain the basis for their actions.

One observer of whistleblowers’ struggles with the courts was himself a whistleblower. Tried and convicted under the Espionage Act, John Kiriakou spent  two and a half years in prison for exposing government wrongdoing. He says  the U.S. government in these cases engages in “charge stacking” to ensure a lengthy prison term as well as “venue-shopping” to try such cases in the nation’s most conservative districts.

Daniel Hale was facing trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, home to the Pentagon as well as many CIA and other federal government agents. He was   up to 50 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

On March 31, Hale pled guilty  on one count of retention and transmission of national defense information. He now faces a maximum of ten years in prison.

At no point has he been able to raise before a judge his alarm about the Pentagon’s false claims that targeted drone assassination is precise and civilian deaths are minimal.

Hale was familiar with details of a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker. He saw evidence that between January 2012 and February 2013, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed  more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

Had he gone to trial, a jury of his peers might have learned more details about consequences of drone attacks. Weaponized drones are typically outfitted with Hellfire missiles, designed for use against vehicles and buildings.

Living Under Drones, the most complete documentation  of the human impact of U.S. drone attacks yet produced, reports:

“The most immediate consequence of drone strikes is, of course, death and injury to those targeted or near a strike.  The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs.  Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss.”

A new variation of this missile can hurl about 100 pounds of metal through the top of a vehicle or building; the missiles also deploy, just before impact, six long, whirring  blades intended to slice up any person or object in the missile’s path.

Any drone operator or analyst should be aghast, as Daniel Hale was, at the possibility of killing and maiming civilians through such grotesque means. But Daniel Hale’s ordeal may be intended to send a chilling message to other U.S. government and military analysts: keep quiet.

Nick Mottern, of the Ban Killer Drones  campaign, accompanied artists projecting Hale’s image on various walls in D.C. He engaged people who were passing by, asking if they knew of Daniel Hale’s case. Not a single person he spoke with had. Nor did anyone know anything about drone warfare.

Now imprisoned at the Alexandria (VA) Adult Detention Center, Hale  awaits sentencing.

Supporters urge people to “stand with Daniel Hale.” One solidarity action involves writing Judge O’Grady to express gratitude that Hale told the truth about the U.S. use of drones to kill innocent people.

At a time when drone sales and usage are proliferating worldwide and causing increasingly gruesome damage, President Joe Biden continues to launch  killer drone attacks around the world, albeit with some new restrictions.

Hale’s honesty, courage, and exemplary readiness to act in accord with his conscience are critically needed. Instead, the U.S. government has done its best to silence him.

Barcelona will host the Second International Peace Congress from October 15-17, 2021

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Pressenza

Under the title “(Re)imagine our world: Action for Peace and Justice”, participants from around 70 countries will attend the meeting of the international peace movement and other social movements, with renowned activists and experts.


The congress will have a hybrid format, with face-to-face activities, conferences, workshops and cultural events, but with the possibility of following many of them online.

The International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) are the main organisers of the Second International Peace Congress to be held in Barcelona from October 15-17, 2021.

Under the title “(Re)imagine our world. Action for Peace and Justice”, participants from around 70 countries will attend this event with face-to-face activities, conferences and workshops, most of which will take place at the CCCB (Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona).

The main goal of the congress is to invigorate international pacifism and peacework, offer a meeting point for different actors, redefine action for peace, and, as the motto of the congress says, reimagine the world through the prism of a culture of peace.

According to the IPB Co-President, Philip Jennings, the congress aims to be the largest gathering of activists for peace in 2021, the year that the United Nations has declared the International Year of Peace and Trust. “It’s also a big year for IPB, as we celebrate our 130th anniversary and as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Olof Palme report on common security; the time has come to develop a new blueprint for common survival”, he adds.

“The IPB World Peace Congress in Barcelona will allow so many of us to meet in person for the first time in almost two years. Networking among peace and disarmament activities in different countries and regions is our most essential resource”, says Lisa Clark, IPB Co-President.

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

Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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The congress seeks to foster synergies between organisations and individuals and between interconnected social movements fighting for global justice: peace and disarmament advocates, feminist and LGBTQIA+ activists, environmentalists and climate activists, anti-racists and indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and trade unionists.

During the three days of the congress, there will be talks and lectures by more than thirty speakers. Featured names include Noam Chomsky, Martin Chungong, Jeremy Corbyn, Beatrice Fihn, Wada Masako, Vandana Shiva and Jody Williams.

A congress with a long history

The first peace congress in history was held in 1843 in London, then in Paris in 1889 and Rome in 1891 when the IPB was created.

In 2016, the World Congress returned with the idea of putting disarmament on the global agenda. This first congress of this new stage took place in Berlin, and now the continuation will take place in Barcelona five years later.

The IPB has their headquarters in Berlin and offices in the Catalan capital and Geneva.

“Barcelona is a city of peace – one of the few in the world with an organized and resourced commitment to promote and campaign for peace – and it has opened its arms to the IPB, with both the city and the region playing an active role in preparing for the congress”, says Jennings.

The city is the home of one of the congress hosts, Centre Delàs, an IPB member and a hive of peace, research, and campaigns regionally and globally. The IPB has a unique presence at Centre Delàs, where the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) is based and animated.

The co-organiser of the Barcelona Congress is the ICIP, a research, dissemination and action organisation created by the Parliament of Catalonia in 2007 to promote peace in Catalan society and internationally and make Catalonia play an active role as an agent of peace in the world.

For more information, you can contact Sean Conner (sean.conner@ipb-office.berlin or +49 176 5688 5567).

If you need photographs, videos or other materials, you can access this link:
https://trello.com/b/MPBI8oQZ/wpc2021

You can download the programme draft here.