Category Archives: DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION

Brazil: Policy for the Culture of Peace and Restorative Justice is prepared by the Municipality of Recife

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from the Diario de Pernambuco

On Monday [March 26], the City of Recife drafted a Bill 009/21 with a proposal for a new Municipal Policy for the Culture of Peace and Restorative Justice and sent it to the City Council. According to the press office of the City Hall, the project was the result of a broad debate with the society.


Centro Communitário de Paz, Recife

The press office also states that the capital of Pernambuco “is one of the first to have such a complete law and that it covers all areas of municipal competence.” Once the proposal is discussed and approved by Casa José Mariano, the Recife City Hall, through the Citizen Security Secretariat, will have a Municipal Council for the Culture of Peace and Restorative Practices.

(continued in right column)

(Click here for the Portuguese original of this article)

Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

(continued from left column)

The formulation of the proposal started at the 1st Municipal Conference on Culture of Peace and Restorative Justice, held on December 16 and 17, 2019, at the Catholic University of Pernambuco, where public and private institutions discussed the construction of paths and solutions to the difficulties that have been encountered by in the municipality in the field of security, justice and human rights.

“According to the adviser, at the final plenary session, after two days of debate, 123 proposals were approved covering the six axes:
* The Culture of Peace;
* Restorative Practices and conflict transformations;
* Human Rights and ethnic racial relations;
* Gender, sexuality and vulnerable populations;
* Social participation and citizen protagonism;
* Communication and training.

Several proposals are foreseen in the new municipal policy, among them is the training in conflict mediation and non-violent communication for teachers and traffic agents, integrative health practices, the creation of a policy of continuous training of Culture of Peace for employees of the City Hall, conducting restorative circles in prisons, conducting workshops against bullying and other forms of violence, among other proposals.

Weifang, China established their City as an International City of Peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Fred Arment for International Cities of Peace

TRULY HEARTENING. The millions of citizens of Weifang, China established their City as an International City of Peace in February. They are now deeply involved in peacemaking within their community and beyond. Take a look at this extraordinary magazine focusing on their City of Peace efforts. It is in Chinese language but, from the photos, you can see the budding of global peace in their community. This morning’s email from Weifang City of Peace Liaison Sun Li:


Special issue on peace city
(Click on image to enlarge)

“Dear Mr. J. Fred Arment,

Thank you very much for the congratulations’ link you sent me. Weifang has become an international city of peace, which is of great significance to Weifang and has attracted great attention from all walks of life in China. At the same time, with the help of Professor Liu Cheng, Weifang is making great efforts to do a good job in peace propaganda activities and fulfill the responsibility of a peaceful city.

(article continued in right column)

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

(article continued from left column)

Recently, we have held a lot of teaching activities. Our staff have entered many schools in Weifang City, carried out peace education, and led the children to do activities related to peace. We help children understand the meaning of peace and the beautiful vision of world peace.

Website links of some activities:
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/8nAhZYk3a4i-2KYabMeG2g
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/nXaaNy-keK1zKbkJga_yBw

In addition, we have published a special issue of peace city.
Link to the website of the special issue:
https://book.yunzhan365.com/dlyu/npqi/mobile/index.html

At present, Weifang is discussing cooperation with Professor Liu Cheng, planning to hold some activities on peace, hoping to let more people understand the true meaning of peace through publicity and education activities.
With respect and appreciation,
Sun Li

Financial Press Fears Brazilians Will Be Allowed to Elect President of Their Choice

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Alan MacLeod from FAIR – Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

The Brazilian Supreme Court this month  dismissed all charges  against former President Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva. A towering figure in national politics, Lula was the country’s president for eight years between 2003 and 2011. He was later convicted on highly dubious corruption charges and spent 18 months in prison, where his plight drew worldwide attention, making him, in the estimation  of Noam Chomsky, the “world’s most prominent political prisoner.”

Lula’s incarceration directly led to far-right authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro coming to power, as Lula, the  overwhelming favorite in the polls, was barred from running against him. Sergio Moro, the judge who imprisoned Lula—and secretly worked with the prosecution to convict him—became President Bolsonaro’s justice minister. The journalist who exposed  Moro’s secret dealings, Glenn Greenwald, was charged  with cybercrimes as a result of his reporting. (The charges were later dismissed.)

The Supreme Court’s ruling leaves Lula free to run against Bolsonaro in 2022—and gives Brazilians a chance to vote for the leader of their choice. But far from celebrating the news, the financial press is very disappointed that the world’s most popular  politician is finally free again. “Stock Exchange Loses 4% and Dollar Rises After Lula Charges Annulled,” ran Forbes Brasil’s headline (3/8/21). “Markets Reacted Badly to the Announcement” wrote the Financial Times (3/8/21).

Also seemingly disconsolate at the news was Reuters (3/9/21), who went with “Brazil Markets, on Shaky Foundations, Rocked by Lula Bombshell,” telling readers that investors were “gasping for air.” The report quoted a former central banker saying that Lula’s release would have  “dire consequences.” Not for people or democracy—Reuters was not interested in that—but for “asset prices in general.”

“Lula’s Comeback Adds to Long List of Brazil Investor Woes,” read Bloomberg’s headline (3/9/21). Its article quoted one consultant warning that Lula “will seek revenge, and he will blame the markets, the media and business leaders for the downfall of the Workers’ Party.” Why these institutions are not to blame was not explained.

The financial press has long been afraid of what Lula’s liberty would mean for the profits of its readers. The “worst-case scenario,” Forbes (11/10/19) wrote in 2019, would be if he returned to politics and began “rabble rousing” people against Bolsonaro. What he had already done in undermining confidence in the administration was “deeply irresponsible,” reporter Kenneth Rapoza wrote, noting that his criticism of the government that was then imprisoning him merely increased “polarization” and “pain” throughout the country.

(Article continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

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

Do the financial media support democracy?

(Article continued from left column)

A great many articles characterized Lula as “polarizing”—a media codeword used extensively in reporting on the Global South, meaning “enacting policies rich people don’t like.” CNBC (3/8/21), for instance, explained that the decision to drop charges against Lula would “polarize voters,”  and that financial markets were “roiled” by the latest news.

This is in complete contrast to two years ago, when the financial press lauded the election of the fascist Bolsonaro (FAIR.org, 10/31/18). The Financial Times (10/8/18) and CNBC (10/2/18) both noted that markets were “cheering” Bolsonaro’s lead in the polls, while Bloomberg (10/30/18) excitedly reported that he would be an “extraordinarily pro-business” president. “Jair Bolsonaro is a dangerous populist, with some good ideas,” said the Economist (1/5/19). It was the Wall Street Journal (10/29/18) that went furthest, however, endorsing him as a “credible” “reformer” and an “antidote” to the greed and corruption of Lula’s Workers’ Party.

Since then, corporate media have cooled on Bolsonaro: not because of his openly declared  racism, sexism, homophobia or nostalgia for dictatorship, but mostly because he has failed to fully carry out many of his promised “reforms”—another media codeword for pro-business policies which usually hurt the majority (FAIR.org, 2/16/185/8/16; CounterSpin, 8/28/1511/29/18). What Bolsonaro’s “reforms” entailed, JP Morgan (12/13/19) helpfully explained: a firesale of state-owned assets, huge cuts to public pensions, tax cuts for the wealthy and wage reductions for state employees.

Even worse, Lula’s release, the press explained, would close the door on these policies. As CNBC wrote (3/8/21):

Financial analysts said the prospect of Lula candidacy would likely drive Bolsonaro to abandon economic reforms he ran on in 2018 and further embrace populist measures to shore up support.

To decode this: CNBC and others who similarly predicted the end of Bolsonaro’s reform agenda (Financial Times, 3/8/21; Bloomberg, 3/9/21, Reuters, 3/9/21), were tacitly admitting that free-market shock therapy is exceptionally unpopular, and has no chance of implementation unless all credible opposition to it is forcefully suppressed.

If this were purely about profits, Lula should not generate such antagonism. “The financial press’ hostility and fear is pointless,” Brazilian journalist Nathalia Urban  told FAIR:

The market performed well with him for the eight years he was president, and with Dilma Rousseff for six years afterwards. If the market wants to make money by investing in production and having a strong consumer market, it has to like a government that has one of its pillars to increase the power of expenditure of the working class.

Instead, it is Lula’s position as an independent actor who has consistently stymied US imperial ambitions in Latin America and beyond  that is the real problem. Washington was also deeply implicated in his arrest and imprisonment, although corporate media have been hesitant to explore this connection (FAIR.org, 3/8/21).

The dismay over the freeing of the world’s most prominent political prisoner illustrates the opposition of the business press to human rights and the rule of law. Financial media were all too happy to see a far-right authoritarian gain power, as long as he implemented pro-rich policies. No matter what the evidence, the press’ response suggests they think that they still believe democracy just isn’t good for business.

Belarus: Women at the forefront of human rights struggle

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

Women who have played prominent roles in the protests sweeping Belarus are subject to reprisals and threats, Amnesty International said today. In a new publication, the organization highlights the important role women activists have played in the protests after widely contested presidential elections and reveals state reprisals against them.


Women activists told Amnesty International that they had been accused of being “bad mothers” and “bad wives”, and that the authorities had threatened to take their children away from them. They have also faced ill-treatment in detention, and prison sentences resulting from unfounded criminal prosecutions.

“Svyatlana Tshikhanouskaya, a presidential contender forced into exile, Maryia Kalesnikava, her chief of staff thrown into prison, Marfa Rabkova, a jailed human rights defender, and journalists Katsyaryna Bakhvalava and Darya Chultsova, both imprisoned for two years for livestreaming of a protest action – these are some of the many women whose names have become synonymous with the struggle for freedom and human rights in Belarus,” said Aisha Jung, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Belarus. 

(article continued in right column)

Click here for an article on this subject in French)

Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

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

(article continued from left column)

“In a deeply patriarchal society with endemic domestic violence, women in Belarus have risked everything to stand up for their beliefs. The Belarusian authorities have retaliated with measures intended to target women activists, and their organizations and families.”

Yuliya Mitskevich, a feminist activist who runs a gender-awareness organization called Aktyunym Byts Faina (It’s Great to be Active), and who is a member of a sub-group of the opposition Coordination Council, Femgruppa, was arrested on Friday 20 October 2020 outside the offices of her organization.

Yuliya was officially charged with “participation in an illegal gathering,” but she told Amnesty she believed she is being persecuted for her work on gender equality. The police officers who arrested Yuliya, and criminal investigators who interrogated her, asked her to sign a statement saying that she had taken part in illegal actions in her organizational role. 

“They offered me incentives and threatened me too. The first time they asked about Femgruppa, and about the women’s marches and finances, but the second time they were interested in my organization,” Yuliya told Amnesty International. 

“We call for solidarity with the brave women of Belarus in their fight for freedom and human rights. In their struggle, they are challenging patriarchal attitudes and a repressive government intent on suppressing human rights and stifling the change and progress that Belarusians are calling for,” said Aisha Jung. 

Background 

Amnesty International’s   global solidarity campaign was launched on 27 January 2021, with the publication of a  report  revealing how the Belarusian authorities have weaponized the justice system to punish survivors of torture rather than perpetrators. The organization produces regular publications that highlight how different sectors of Belarusian society are being targeted. Belarus is currently experiencing the most egregious clampdown on human rights in its post-independence history. Amnesty International activists around the world will participate in various actions to demonstrate their solidarity with peaceful protesters in Belarus. 

The Rotary Club of Pétion-Ville : promoting the culture of peace in Haiti

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Le Nouvelliste (translation by CPNN)

In line with the February priority of Rotary International for peace and the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the Rotary Club of Pétion-Ville held the first edition of its symposium for education to promote the culture of peace. It was held at the hotel Montana with the paarticipation of several representatives of organizations that work with children.


(article continued in right column)

(Click here for the original article in French.)

Question related to this article:

 
Are the people of Haiti making progress toward a culture of peace?

(article continued from left column)

Carine Cléophat, the president of the Rotary Club considered that it was a successful day. In her remarks to open the symposium, she said, “The Rotary Club of Pétion-Ville is launching a project to promote the culture of peace in the schools affiliated with the Club as well as the general public in order to commemorate the month of February, the month of peace for Rotary International.” As a first experiment, it was considered a success by the organization with regard to the different themes that were debated, and the testimonies of the participants who said in conclusion that they appreciated the idea that it will be continued in future years.

The symposium was organized around three dimensions (themes): Father Marc Henry Simeon took charge of the spiritual dimension. The psychologist Melodie Benjamin dealt with the family dimension. And the economist Etzer Emile considered the economic dimension of peace.

Following the interventions of the panelists, the organizers proposed practical applications. Groups were created to participate in workshops.

Means to establish a real peace were proposed. They were considered, studied and recorded by the organizers from the Rotary Club, according to President Carine Cléophat.

The next symposium is planned to take place in February 2022, to include a wider range of participants and additional publicity.

Ghana Election Petition Judgment: ‘Let’s Maintain Our Peace’

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Peace FM Online

The National Peace Council (NPC), has appealed to Ghanaians, especially, political actors to maintain peace in the country ahead of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the 2020 Presidential Election Petition.

 The NPC asked the citizenry to accept the judgment for peace to prevail.



Speaking at a virtual stakeholders’ convening on the roadmap towards the eradication of political vigilantism in Ghana, Mr George Amoh, Executive Secretary, NPC, pleaded that the feuding political actors impressed on their constituents to guard the peace currently being enjoyed in the country.

Mr Amoh said activities of political vigilantes, which did not manifest so much during the last elections were due to the work done by all stakeholders prior to the elections, which had been commended by well-meaning entities, and that such work was going to be continued.

He noted that the international community had commended Ghana over the reduction of activities of political vigilantism in the December polls and emphasized the need to sustain the gains.



Mr Amoh said the work led by the NPC in collaboration with NORSAAC, a pro-marginalised and policy influencing organisation, and other partners was paying off, adding that the monitoring group set up in the round up to the December 2020 general election to monitor vigilantism practices, was still in place, serving as early warning systems.



(Article continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

(Article continued from left column)

Nana Kojo Impraim, Deputy Director in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation, NPC, in a presentation, said as part of the processes to disband vigilantism in the country, the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress, were made to sign an agreement to commit themselves to the process.



Thus, the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act 2019 (Act 999) as well as the Roadmap and Code of Conduct to end political vigilantism in Ghana, also referred to as the roadmap, were put into action with the NPC as the lead implementer, partnering varied partnerships and support towards its enforcement.



He said NORSAAC with funding from STAR-Ghana Foundation, partnered the NPC to focus on the role of the monitoring team of the roadmap, while more stakeholders were engaged in a high level meeting to deliberate further on the course.



Mr Impraim said many advocacy work and sensitisation of citizens, as well as monitoring was undertaken in various districts, while mediation committees were set up to work towards a peaceful election.



In all those engagements, the need to build a culture of peace and coexistence were paramount, Mr Impraim stated, adding that it was also revealed that government would need to intensify its partnership with the private sector in addressing the socio-economic needs of the people, especially, the youth.



Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko-Amidu, Chief Executive Officer of the Star Ghana Foundation, commended the partnerships, emphasizing the need for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to partner the State and other stakeholders to source for funding to support peaceful, credible and transparent elections in Ghana.



He said there was also the need to start election education and awareness creation soon after one election was ended to forestall eventualities.



It is expected that deliberations of the virtual meeting participated in by officials of the Electoral Commission, Small Arms Commission, the Judiciary Service, MMDAs, Ghana Journalists Association and other CSOs, would contribute to decent elections project and “Enhance CSOs and the NPC’s partnership in ensuring public adherence to the Roadmap and Code of Conduct to End Political Vigilantism.”

Colombia: Cultural spaces for the construction of peace

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from RPTV Noticias

Young people have a role in building peace. This is how the organizations that make up the youth fabric have understood it, a group from the town of Rafael Uribe Uribe in Bogotá, one of the towns most effected by the armed conflict in the capital.


Video of Cultural Spaces

“What we want to show is that we have a conscience, we want a change and we are doing things to make that change real. Relating to the territory gives me the sense of belonging to the place where I have grown up, where I have been and it makes me realize the realities that are around me, ”said Nicolás Chávez.

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

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

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

(Article continued from left column)

With their actions the youth have worked to generate new ways of appropriating the territory, preventing violence and promoting inclusion through artistic expressions.

In this community work, the main protagonists are young people, who with art and culture reflect leadership as a fundamental pillar to transform their spaces.

“The initiative of the murals is the demilitarization of life. It is one of the most beautiful ways of expressing what we feel. It is a way of reaching young people since it is a part with which they identify,” said Sofia Alfonso Cantor.

Youth fabric interprerts peace as a space for exchange, based on respect and collective participation.

This is how Nicolás Chavez, resident of the Rafael Uribe Uribe town and who participates in these conferences, highlighted the importance of these spaces: “for us the construction of peace is a state of well-being, to be among everyone, in a place, a space where we can all feel good ”.

Youth fabric that is part of the research carried out by the Compaz Foundation, for its appropriation of the territory to build citizenship, to promote dialogue and collective decision-making, a clear example of the role played by civil society organizations in the building a culture of peace.

Oaxaca, Mexico: Judicial Power privileges culture of peace with alternative justice

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from NVI Noticias (translation by CPNN)

The head of the State Judiciary, Judge Eduardo Pinacho Sánchez, affirmed that mediation, conciliation, arbitration and restorative justice are alternative methods of conflict resolution through dialogue between the people involved. This allows them to resolve their problems without the need to go to a judge, since it gives the parties the opportunity to agree through free will, cooperation and communication, strengthening the culture of peace.

“It is often thought that the judicial process is a peaceful method of resolution, but sometimes it is not like that because it re-victimizes and is more difficult. Instead, there are more friendly procedures such as alternative justice”, he emphasized in an interview for an opinion radio space.

(Article continued in the right column)

(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Discussion questions

Restorative justice, What does it look like in practice?

Mediation as a tool for nonviolence and culture of peace

(Article continued from left column)

The president of the Superior Court of Justice and the Council of the Judiciary indicated that this is a traditional way used in Oaxaca for a long time by indigenous peoples and communities to resolve differences between their inhabitants in a daily and effective way.

After emphasizing that alternative methods of conflict resolution contribute to a peaceful environment, he pointed out that it is also an issue that must be promoted from the family and the basic levels of education to instill in young people the culture of peace and dialogue.

Among the challenges that persist is this issue, Judge Pinacho Sánchez mentioned the strengthening of training for mediators and having more human, material and technological resources.

For her part, the director of the Alternative Justice Center of the State Judicial Branch, Betzzaida Cruz Mendoza, commented that in Oaxaca the experience in conflict resolution through alternative methods has been positive in allowing to address neighborhood issues and matters of family, civil and even criminal conflict with good results since the objective of mediation is to promote the culture of peace.

The Alternative Justice Center of the State Judiciary is located on Madero road number 908 letter K. Former marquesado, Centro. The telephones are: 951 514 9191 and 800 821 67 89 and the services provided are free.

Call to strengthen the culture of peace and non-violence in Chiapas

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from NVI Noticias (translation by CPNN)

Launching the citizen campaign “Taking steps for equality” in the municipality of Suchiapa, Jorge Llaven Abarca thanked the participation of citizens in this comprehensive project that aims to strengthen the culture of peace and non-violence in Chiapas.


(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

After completing a 5-kilometer journey, accompanied by his wife Guadalupe Gómez Casanova and children, as well as Elena Torres Villanueva, president of the Granito de Arena International Foundation; César del Valle, musician from Chiapas, Llaven Abarca highlighted that this initiative includes different activities to generate healthy coexistence and to reinforce values ​​in the family and social environment.

“I thank all the people who joined this virtual race with their family and friends, the objective is to promote the culture of peace and non-violence. Society and government must walk hand in hand to build a more just and supportive society ”, he declared.

He pointed out that next Sunday, February 14, a sporting activity will be held in the municipality of Chiapa de Corzo: “The invitation is open for you to participate virtually practicing your favorite sport. All of us in unity will eradicate violence in Chiapas.”

Finally, Guadalupe Gómez Casanova asserted that the citizen campaign “Taking steps for equality” is also a call to children and young people to avoid the consumption of alcohol and drugs: “Let’s say yes to sports, it is a tool to get away from any vice. We want youth to be healthy and free of violence ”.

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

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

A news article from Mayors for Peace

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

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

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

2. Overall Evaluation

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

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

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

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

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

(article continued in right column)

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

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

(article continued from left column)

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

3. Achievements Obtained through Substantial Initiatives

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

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

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

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

4. Our Forthcoming Challenges: The Next Vision

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

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

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

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