Tag Archives: global

Humanity’s just one misunderstanding away from ‘nuclear annihilation’ warns UN chief

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

As geopolitical tensions reach new highs, and some governments are spending billions on nuclear weapons in a false bid for peace and security, countries must uphold the nearly 80-year norm against their use, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in New York on Monday (August 1). 
 
The UN chief was speaking at the opening of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which runs through 26 August. 

Mr. Guterres highlighted some of the current challenges to global peace and security, with the world under greater stress due to the climate crisis, stark inequalities, conflicts and human rights violations, as well as the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Disarmament not disunity 

He said  the meeting is taking place amid these challenges, and at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War. 

“Geopolitical tensions are reaching new highs.  Competition is trumping co-operation and collaboration.  Distrust has replaced dialogue and disunity has replaced disarmament.   States are seeking false security in stockpiling and spending hundreds of billions of dollars on doomsday weapons that have no place on our planet,” he said. 

Currently, almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now being held in arsenals around the world, he added. 

“All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening.   And when crises — with nuclear undertones — are festering, From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. To the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and to many other factors around the world.” 

He said today, humanity was “just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” 

A new path 

The Secretary-General underlined the importance of the non-proliferation treaty, saying it is needed “as much as ever”, while the review meeting provides an opportunity “to put humanity on a new path towards a world free of nuclear weapons.” 

He outlined five areas for action, starting with reinforcing and reaffirming the norm against the use of nuclear weapons, which requires steadfast commitment from all parties to the treaty. 

“We need to strengthen all avenues of dialogue and transparency. Peace cannot take hold in an absence of trust and mutual respect,” he said. 

(Continued in right column)

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

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

(Continued from left column)

Countries also must “work relentlessly” towards the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, which begins with new commitment to shrink their numbers. 

This will also mean reinforcing multilateral agreements and frameworks on disarmament and non-proliferation, which includes the important work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

Address ‘simmering tensions’ 

For his third point, Mr. Guterres focused on the need to address the “simmering tensions” in the Middle East and Asia.  

“By adding the threat of nuclear weapons to enduring conflicts, these regions are edging towards catastrophe. We need to redouble our support for dialogue and negotiation to ease tensions and forge new bonds of trust in regions that have seen too little,” he said.   

The Secretary-General also called for promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology, such as for medical purposes, as a catalyst for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Finally, he urged governments to fulfill all outstanding commitments in the treaty, “and keep it fit-for-purpose in these trying times.” 

Unexpected dimension

The head of the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, spoke of how the “spectre of war” has brought a new and unexpected dimension to nuclear safety in Ukraine.

Rafael Mariano Grossi said that at the beginning of the conflict, now nearly six months old, he outlined Seven Pillars of nuclear safety that should never be violated.  They include respecting the physical integrity of nuclear power plants, and ensuring staff can carry out their duties without undue pressure.

“All these seven principles have been trampled upon or violated since this tragic episode started,” he told the conference.

While the IAEA was able to work with Ukraine to restore the systems at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the 1986 disaster, Mr. Grossi continues to push for a mission to the Zaporizhzhya plant, the largest in the country, which is occupied by Russian forces.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are ready to go,” he said. “We hope to be able to come to Zaporizhzhya because if something happens there, we will only have ourselves to blame for it. Not a catastrophe, not an earthquake, or tsunami.  It will be our own inaction to blame for it.”

Iran and DPRK

Mr. Grossi also addressed other issues, including related to monitoring of Iran’s nuclear programme. 

“We know that for us to be able to give the necessary and credible assurances that every activity in the Islamic Republic of Iran is in peaceful uses, we need to work collaborative(ly) with them,” he said.

“It can be done, we have been doing it in the past, but we need – and I say this very clearly – we need to have the access that is commensurate with the breadth and depth of that nuclear programme.”

The situation in the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) also remains a concern, and he expressed hope that IAEA inspectors will be able to return to the country.

(Thank you to Sarah Guerard for sending this article to CPNN.)

UN General Assembly declares access to clean and healthy environment a universal human right

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from the United Nations

With 161 votes in favour, and eight abstentions*, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution on Thursday (July 28), declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right.

The resolution, based on a similar text adopted last year by the Human Rights Council, calls upon States, international organisations, and business enterprises to scale up efforts to ensure a healthy environment for all. 

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, welcomed the ‘historic’ decision and said the landmark development demonstrates that Member States can come together in the collective fight against the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

“The resolution will help reduce environmental injustices, close protection gaps and empower people, especially those that are in vulnerable situations, including environmental human rights defenders, children, youth, women and indigenous peoples”, he said in a statement released by his Spokesperson’s Office.

He added that the decision will also help States accelerate the implementation of their environmental and human rights obligations and commitments.

“The international community has given universal recognition to this right and brought us closer to making it a reality for all”, he said.

Guterres underscored that however, the adoption of the resolution ‘is only the beginning’ and urged nations to make this newly recognised right ‘a reality for everyone, everywhere’.

Urgent action needed

In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also hailed the Assembly’s decision and echoed the Secretary-General’s call for urgent action to implement it.

“Today is a historic moment, but simply affirming our right to a healthy environment is not enough. The General Assembly resolution is very clear: States must implement their international commitments and scale up their efforts to realize it. We will all suffer much worse effects from environmental crises, if we do not work together to collectively avert them now,” she said.

Ms. Bachelet explained that environmental action based on human rights obligations provides vital guardrails for economic policies and business models.

“It emphasizes the underpinning of legal obligations to act, rather than simply of discretionary policy.  It is also more effective, legitimate and sustainable,” she added.

A resolution for the whole planet

The text, originally presented by Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland last June, and now co-sponsored by over 100 countries, notes that the right to a healthy environment is related to existing international law and affirms that its promotion requires the full implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.

It also recognises that the impact of climate change, the unsustainable management and use of natural resources, the pollution of air, land and water, the unsound management of chemicals and waste, and the resulting loss in biodiversity interfere with the enjoyment of this right – and that environmental damage has negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of all human rights.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr. David Boyd, the Assembly’s decision will change the very nature of international human rights law.

“Governments have made promises to clean up the environment and address the climate emergency for decades but having a right to a healthy environment changes people’s perspective from ‘begging’ to demanding governments to act”, he United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm, which ended with its own historic declaration, was the first one to place environmental issues at the forefront of international concerns and marked the start of a dialogue between industrialized and developing countries on the link between economic growth, the pollution of the air, water and the ocean, and the well-being of people around the world.

UN Member States back then, declared that people have a fundamental right to “an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being,” calling for concrete action and the recognition of this right.

(article continued in right column)

Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

(Article continued from the left column)

Last October, after decades of work by nations at the front lines of climate change, such as the Maldives archipelago, as well as more than 1,000 civil society organisations, the Human Rights Council finally recognised this right and called for the UN General Assembly to do the same.

“From a foothold in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the right has been integrated into constitutions, national laws and regional agreements. Today’s decision elevates the right to where it belongs: universal recognition”, UN Environment chief, Inger Andersen, explained in a statement published this Thursday.

The recognition of the right to a healthy environment by these UN bodies, although not legally binding— meaning countries don’t have a legal obligation to comply— is expected to be a catalyst for action and to empower ordinary people to hold their governments accountable.

“So, the recognition of this right is a victory we should celebrate. My thanks to Member States and to the thousands of civil society organizations and indigenous peoples’ groups, and tens of thousands of young people who advocated relentlessly for this right. But now we must build on this victory and implement the right”, Ms. Andersen added.

Triple crisis response

As mentioned by the UN Secretary-General, the newly recognised right will be crucial to tackling the triple planetary crisis.

This refers to the three main interlinked environmental threats that humanity currently faces: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss – all mentioned in the text of the resolution.

Each of these issues has its own causes and effects and they need to be resolved if we are to have a viable future on Earth.

The consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, through increased intensity and severity of droughts, water scarcity, wildfires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms and declining biodiversity.

Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is the largest cause of disease and premature death in the world, with more than seven million people dying prematurely each year due to pollution.

Finally, the decline or disappearance of biological diversity – which includes animals, plants and ecosystems – impacts food supplies, access to clean water and life as we know it.

* States who abstained: China, Russian Federation, Belarus, Cambodia, Iran, Syria, Kyrgyzstan and Ethiopia.

(Note from the editor: Here is a translation of the explanation of their vote by the Russian Federation.

Mr Chairman, We would like to start by thanking the delegations of Slovenia, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Maldives and Morocco as the main sponsors of the draft resolution “The human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment” for their openness and constructive approach upon approval of the document.

The Russian Federation attaches great importance to the protection of environment and gives it increased attention both at the national, as well as at the international level. The theme of the draft resolution is at the intersection of two branches of law – international human rights law and international environmental law. However, neither universal environmental agreements nor international human rights treaties do not disclose the content of such concepts such as “clean environment”, “healthy environment”, “sustainable environment” or any similar concepts.

The wording of the existing international acts differ significantly. The main legal content of these concepts today occurs in national level. Each of the countries, based on the situation prevailing there and conditions, defines its own standards.

In this regard, the proclamation of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, without defining at least minimum standards universal character, prematurely.

Moreover, we are convinced that a new right can be recognized exclusively within the framework of international treaties, which are carefully prepared by authorized experts and approved by states. Only in this case can we speak of legal recognized law to be taken into account by States. Chosen one the authors of the method – the recognition of the right through the resolution of the General Assembly – is, at least controversial from a legal point of view, and in the future may lead to negative consequences.

In view of the foregoing, the Russian Federation cannot support the submitted draft resolution A/76/L.75 and puts it on vote. However, recognizing the importance of the topic under consideration as a whole, the Russian delegation will not oppose, but will refrain from voting.

Thank you for your attention.

(Thank you to Georgina Galanis for sending this article to CPNN.)

Call for Applications: Strengthening Young Women Peacebuilders’ Capacity in Complex Crises

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An announcment from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

Are you a young woman peacebuilder or human rights defender leading a local organization? Are you working to build and sustain peace, provide humanitarian relief in your community, prevent conflicts, or fight for human rights and equality? If your answer is YES, do not miss this opportunity!

WHAT IS THE PROGRAMME ABOUT?

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), in collaboration with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), are launching the pilot initiative Strengthening Young Women Peacebuilders’ Capacity in Complex Crises, a programme that seeks to support young women leading civil society organizations in fragile and/or conflict-affected countries.

The objective of this initiative is to provide capacity-building for young women-led organizations to strengthen their fundraising skills, and to create a space for peer exchange, networking, sharing of best practices, and lessons learned among young women peacebuilders.

A 4-day, in-person workshop will be held in November 2022 in Tbilisi, Georgia. You will learn about:

* Key policy areas such as peacebuilding and sustaining peace, the women, peace, and security (WPS) and the youth, peace, and security (YPS) agendas;

* Key project management skills: designing and drafting project proposals (including conflict analysis, theory of change, logical frameworks), fundraising, donor outreach, and reporting.

(continued in right column)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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

(continued from left column)

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

* Be a young woman between 18 and 30 years old. LGBTIQ+ individuals are encouraged to apply.

* Be a citizen of, and be living in, one of the following countries or territories: Afghanistan, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.

* Have not yet received funding from the United Nations.

* Be a founding or key member of a legally registered civil society organization working on peacebuilding, human rights, women’s rights, youth rights, or related.

* Have a working knowledge of either English, French, or Spanish.

HOW TO APPLY

Please fill in the online application form  before 15 August 2022.

For any inquiries, please send an email to marie.doucey@unwomen.org.

Satish Kumar to Receive the 2022 Goi Peace Award

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from The Goi Peace Foundation

The Goi Peace Foundation will present the 2022 Goi Peace Award to Satish Kumar, peace activist and environmental thought leader.

The selection committee has chosen Satish Kumar for the Goi Peace Award in recognition of his lifelong dedication to campaigning for ecological regeneration, social justice, and spiritual fulfillment. Through his writings and educational activities, and as an embodiment of ecological and spiritual principles of living simply, he has inspired many people to transform themselves in order to transform the world.


Photo from the Dartington Trust

Satish Kumar will receive the award during the Goi Peace Foundation Forum 2022 to be held on November 23, 2022. (More information about the event will be announced soon.)

Satish Kumar, a former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, has been quietly setting the global agenda for change for over 50 years. He was just nine when he left his family home to join the wandering Jains, and 18 when he decided he could achieve more back in the world, campaigning for land reform in India and working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a renewed India and a peaceful world into reality.

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

In 1973 Satish settled in the UK becoming the editor of Resurgence magazine, a position he held until 2016, making him the UK’s longest-serving editor of the same magazine. During this time, he has been the guiding spirit behind a number of now internationally respected ecological and educational ventures. He cofounded Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies, where he continues to serve as a Visiting Fellow.

His autobiography, No Destination, first published by Green Books in 1978, has sold over 50,000 copies. He is also the author of You Are, Therefore I Am; The Buddha and the Terrorist; Earth Pilgrim; Soil, Soul, Society and Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well.

He continues to teach and run workshops on reverential ecology, holistic education and voluntary simplicity and is a much sought-after speaker both in the UK and abroad.

About the Goi Peace Foundation and the Goi Peace Award

Based in Japan, the Goi Peace Foundation  is a public benefit organization supported by members around the world working together to create a culture of peace. Its mission is to foster a sustainable and harmonious global society by promoting consciousness, values and wisdom for creating peace, and building cooperation among individuals and organizations across diverse fields, including education, science, culture and the arts.

Established by the Goi Peace Foundation in 2000, the Goi Peace Award  is an international award presented annually to honor individuals and organizations in various fields that have made outstanding contributions toward the realization of a peaceful and harmonious world as envisioned in the Declaration for All Life on Earth.

Novel Approach to Nuclear Disarmament

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Received at CPNN by email from Nomad, Damon
 
Dear Colleague for Peace,
 
There are many organizations, campaigns, and initiatives for nuclear disarmament.   Unfortunately, few people can focus on the message, sounds too complex or it’s lost in the buzz of our busy lives.  I have spent the last three years working full-time on a novel way to advocate for the cause, literally novels.  I have written a three-novel trilogy, dedicated to the cause of eliminating nuclear weapons, in the framework of espionage thrillers, without gratuitous violence and wars.

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

I want to get people interested in disarmament by reading an exciting thriller, founded on science, international relations, and policy.  I have worked and found a publisher. I have no advertising budget or social media platform. I am reaching out to the community of interested people and organizations to help.
 
Please pass the message on, see the link below to the first book published by Speaking Volumes.
 
Phantom in the Desert (Nuclear Proliferation Trilogy): Nomad, Damon: 9781645406402: Amazon.com: Books
 

One year driving action for gender equality. One year of Generation Equality

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from the Generation Equality Forum

One year ago, the Generation Equality Forum brought together leaders from governments, civil society, youth and the private sector to take bold global action on gender equality, marking the start of an ambitious 5-year journey convened by UN Women.

Since the Forum, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the Governments of France and Mexico, countries and partners have already initiated implementation of commitments made  through six Action Coalitions, and a series of global, innovative, multi-stakeholder partnerships for gender equality., In addition, signatories to the Women, Peace and Security, and Humanitarian Action Compact are beginning to make progress on Compact framework actions, designed to drive progress on implementation of existing global commitments to the women, peace and security, and gender in humanitarian action agendas.

Progress made throughout the first year of the Generation Equality initiative includes  work by the Government of Kenya, global leader of the Action Coalition on Gender Based Violence, to make strides in advancement on the implementation of their 12 commitments, which include national gender-based violence prevention and response policies, resource allocation on programmes for prevention and response to gender-based violence, consultations with civil society and violence survivor, production of gender-sensitive data and evidence, and the ratification of international conventions, amongst other actions, including an investment of over US$1 million to eliminate female genital mutilation in the next four years. As part of the one-year anniversary of the Forum, Kenya published a report on the progress that has been made on each one of their commitments.

Other important advancements have been achieved by the Global Alliance for Care Work, which in the last year has presented new evidence on the impact of policies that grant remuneration, recognition and redistribution of care work done by women, helping to develop new national policies and bringing together care work activists and decision-makers to the table.

(continued in right column)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

(continued from left column)

Youth activists have also made progress in coordination with UN Women by leading the Generation Equality localization of commitments, which provides the opportunity for young activists to share how they have leveraged their experiences during the Generation Equality Forum to localize activities in their communities, and in June 2022 a workshop was organized with 32 adolescents and girls to discuss actions and sharing experiences to strengthen the impact at a local level. During CSW66, youth networks convened to outline recommendations for Compact Signatories to increase youth participation and leadership in the women, peace and security and humanitarian space.

The 2021 Generation Equality Forum secured over 1,000 policy, advocacy and financial commitments for gender equality and a historic US$40 billion pledged to make gender equality a global reality. One year on, those commitments have doubled to more than 2,000 and advocates are beginning the important work of ensuring accountability with a first progress report due for publication in September. 

New commitments include high-impact actions, such as the one presented by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality and LGBTI, consisting of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the autonomous areas of Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands. The Nordic Council of Ministers presented a joint commitment to invest in gender-conscious climate solutions and to implement domestic policies that interweave sustainable development, gender equality, and youth engagement with climate action. The private sector has also stepped up commitments, an example being the Koc Group, which will mobilize its Group of companies in support of the Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality.

These and other Action Coalitions commitments by Member States, private sector, foundations, civil society and youth leaders can be viewed through the Generation Equality Commitment Dashboard, launched recently by UN Women: https://commitments.generationequality.org/dashboard/directory/.

The Compact, which calls for the redesign of peace and security and humanitarian processes to systematically and meaningfully include women and girls, has seen more than 160 signatories   pledging investments to over 1000 Compact Framework actions. In the last year, Compact leaders and signatories have developed a Compact Monitoring Framework to track progress and gaps over the next five years, and Compact Signatories have prioritized financing, programmatic, policy and advocacy actions to address women’s and girls’ rights in conflicts and crises in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Myanmar, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.


Compact Signatory Actions can be explored on the Compact Dashboard here: https://wpshacompact.org/wpsha-compact-dashboard/.

A progress report on the first year of Generation Equality implementation will be launched in September at an event in conjunction with the UN General Assembly. Further details will be available closer to the date.

La Via Campesina calls on States to exit the WTO and to create a new framework based on food sovereignty

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release June 15 from La Via Campesina

La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement representing the voices of more than 200 million small-scale peasants from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, has been mobilizing all week against the WTO. The food crisis that is currently hitting the world is further proof that free trade – far from bringing about food security – is making people starve.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has once again failed to offer a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes. For more than eight years, rich countries have been blocking concrete proposals from African and Asian members of the G33 in this regard.

Jeongyeol Kim, from the Korean Women Peasant’s Association and an International Coordination Committee (ICC) member of La Via Campesina, points out that:

“Free Trade Fuels Hunger. After 27 years under the rule of the WTO, this conclusion is clear. It is time to keep agriculture out of all Free Trade Agreements. The pandemic, and the shock and disruptions induced by war have made it clear that we need a local and national food governance system based on people, not agribusinesses. A system that is built on principles of solidarity and cooperation rather than competition, coercion, and geopolitical agendas.”

Burry Tunkara, from the Gambian Organization of Small-scale Farmers, Fishermen and Foresters and one of the main youth leaders of La Via Campesina, echoes the same sentiment in this testimony:

“The WTO only defends the rich and their commercial interests. It is a tool of neo-colonialism. It only serves the interests of multinationals to find new markets and cheaper labour. It’s time to stop that!

The socio-economic agenda of the poorest and low-income countries is not a priority for the WTO. The proof: its inability to provide a safeguard mechanism against the “dumping” of rich countries and its approach to fisheries subsidies to the detriment of small-scale fisherfolk. There is no point in trying to reform an institution built to favour the business interests of a handful of multinational corporations.

Perla Álvarez from Paraguay, and member of the Latin American Coordination of La Via Campesina (CLOC) stated that a systemic change is urgent and necessary:

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the article in French or click here for the article in Spanish).

Question for this article:

What is the relation between movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

“The global food crisis is our moment of reckoning. There is no place for a ‘business as usual’ approach here. We are presenting short-term and long-term proposals that can radically shift the way in which trade affects farming communities around the world.”

Today, June 15, from Geneva, while the WTO Ministerial Conference has once again betrayed the expectations of the populations that have been most affected by the food crisis, we, La Via Campesina, share our proposals;

La Via Campesina calls on all national governments to rebuild public stocks and to support the creation of food reserves at the community level with local products from agroecological practices. LVC also called on all governments to put in place the anti-dumping legislation necessary to prevent exporters from destroying local markets.

Yudhvir Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, one of the unions that spearheaded the historic mobilization of Indian peasants in 2021, shared his country’s experience with public food stocks:

“Peasants need strong public policies, such as minimum prices and public stock, to continue to make a decent living by producing food. The WTO’s attacks against our model of market regulation are extremely dangerous. The G33 must continue to resist and build based on the aspirations and hopes of small-scale producers.”

La Via Campesina has called for an immediate suspension of all existing WTO rules that prevent countries from developing public food stocks and regulating market and prices. Governments should have the right to use self-selected internal criteria to protect and promote their food sovereignty. Each country should be able to develop its own agricultural and food policy and protect the interests of its peasants, without harming other countries. The use of agricultural products for agro-fuels should be prohibited. La Via Campesina has also called for a halt in speculation.

“Agrarian Reform is necessary to build food sovereignty,” added Zainal Arifin Fuat of Serikat Petani Indonesia and member of LVC’s International Coordination Committee. “Governments must put an end to grabbing water, seeds and land by transnational corporations and ensure small-scale producers fair rights over common resources.”

We, La Via Campesina, insist that within the framework of the pandemic and the global supply crisis, governments should prioritize local markets.

Morgan Ody, peasant in Brittany, France, and general coordinator of La Via Campesina, stated on behalf of the global peasant movement:

“The World Trade Organization is a failed project. Our global peasant movement calls on all States, especially those in the South, to leave the WTO immediately. We must create a new international framework for agriculture and trade based on food sovereignty. Only then can we defend the interests of small-scale food producers.”

For queries, write to press@viacampesina.org | Press Kit: https://linktr.ee/laviacampesina

Note: La Via Campesina counts 181 peasant organisations in over 80 countries as its members. The global peasant network and its allies led the negotiations in the UN for 17 years, resulting in the United Nations adopting a UN Declaration for Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) in 2018.

Vienna: first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

The historic first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons concluded in Vienna today 23 June with the adoption of a political declaration and practical action plan that set the course for the implementation of the Treaty and progress towards its goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

States parties met amid heightened tension and growing risks of the use of nuclear weapons, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its threats to use nuclear weapons. Addressing the opening session of the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility. More than 13,000 nuclear weapons are being held in arsenals across the globe. In a world rife with geopolitical tensions and mistrust, this is a recipe for annihilation.”

During the meeting, many states parties condemned Russia’s actions, expressing their determination to move ahead with implementing the TPNW and eliminating nuclear weapons, based on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their use and the growing risks that such use could occur. These discussions were supported by harrowing testimony from survivors of use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Hibakusha) and representatives of communities harmed by testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific, Kazakhstan and elsewhere, which illustrated the grim reality of nuclear weapons and highlighted the importance and urgency of the meeting’s work.

Nagasaki survivor Masao Tomonaga said “This political declaration is a very strong document, despite many difficulties we face. With this powerful document we can go forward, and all Hibakusha support this,it is a great document to make my city, Nagasaki, the last city ever to suffer from an atomic bombing”. 

Representatives of youth groups emphasized the need to engage young people in universalizing and implementing the treaty, and the role that they could play in helping to achieve the treaty’s aims. A delegation of parliamentarians from 16 countries (including nine NATO members) highlighted the work of parliamentarians in building support for the TPNW domestically, persuading governments to join, and speeding the processes of ratification.


The meeting concluded with the adoption of a Declaration  and Action Plan. In the Declaration, states parties expressed their alarm and dismay at threats to use nuclear weapons, and condemned unequivocally “any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” Affirming that the TPNW is needed more than ever in these circumstances, the states parties resolved to “move forward with its implementation, with the aim of further stigmatizing and de-legitimizing nuclear weapons and steadily building a robust global peremptory norm against them.”


The Declaration reiterated the humanitarian basis of the treaty and the moral, ethical and security imperatives which inspired and motivated its creation and which now drive and guide its implementation. States parties resolved to move ahead with implementing all aspects of the treaty, including the positive obligations aimed at redressing the harm caused by nuclear weapons use and testing. They also reaffirmed the complementarity of the treaty with the international disarmament and nonproliferation regime, including the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), and undertook to continue to support the NPT and all measures that can effectively contribute to nuclear disarmament.

(Continued in right column)

(Click here for an article in French .)

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

(Continued from left column)


The Declaration concluded that “In the face of the catastrophic risks posed by nuclear weapons and in the interest of the very survival of humanity … We will not rest until the last state has joined the Treaty, the last warhead has been dismantled and destroyed and nuclear weapons have been totally eliminated from the Earth.”


The Action Plan contains 50 specific actions for taking forward the mission of the treaty and realizing the commitments made in the Declaration. The Action Plan includes actions on universalization; victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation and assistance; scientific and technical advice in support of implementation; supporting the wider nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime; inclusion; and implementation of the treaty’s gender provisions.

The meeting also took a number of decisions on practical aspects of moving forward with implementation of the treaty. These included:

* Establishment of a Scientific Advisory Group, to advance research on nuclear weapon risks, their humanitarian consequences, and nuclear disarmament, and to address the scientific and technical challenges involved in effectively implementing the Treaty, and provide advice to states parties.

* Deadlines for the destruction of nuclear weapons by nuclear-armed states joining the treaty: no more than 10 years, with the possibility of an extension of up to five years. States parties hosting nuclear weapons belonging to other states will have 90 days to remove them.

* Establishment of a program of intersessional work to follow the meeting, including a coordinating committee and informal working groups on universalization; victim assistance, environmental remediation, and international cooperation and assistance; and work related to the designation of a competent international authority to oversee the destruction of nuclear weapons.

On the eve of the meeting, Cabo Verde, Grenada, and Timor-Leste deposited their instruments of ratification, which will bring the number of TPNW states parties to 65. Eight states told the meeting that they were in the process of ratifying the treaty: Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Mozambique, Nepal and Niger.


ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn welcomed the outcome of the meeting and the many concrete actions agreed. “This meeting has really been a reflection of the ideals of the TPNW itself: decisive action to eliminate nuclear weapons based on their catastrophic humanitarian consequences and the unacceptable risks of their use. The states parties, in partnership with survivors, impacted communities and civil society, have worked extremely hard over the past three days to agree on a wide range of specific, practical actions to take forward every aspect of the implementation of this crucial treaty. This is how we are building a powerful norm against nuclear weapons: not through lofty statements or empty promises, but through hands-on, focused action involving a truly global community of governments and civil society”
 
Read ICAN’s preliminary analysis of the Declaration and Action Plan here.

Further reading:

– Experts and governments meet to discuss the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

– Caribbean nations rally behind UN nuclear weapon ban treaty

– Namibia ratifies UN nuclear weapon ban treaty

– Saint Kitts and Nevis ratifies UN nuclear weapon ban treaty on Nagasaki anniversary

– Belgian Parliament to vote on ending nuclear weapons

SIPRI: Global nuclear arsenals are expected to grow as states continue to modernize

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

13 June 2022. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today launches the findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2022, which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security. A key finding is that despite a marginal decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2021, nuclear arsenals are expected to grow over the coming decade.

Signs that post-cold war decline in nuclear arsenals is ending

The nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)—continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals and although the total number of nuclear weapons declined slightly between January 2021 and January 2022 (see table below), the number will probably increase in the next decade.

Of the total inventory of an estimated 12 705 warheads at the start of 2022, about 9440 were in military stockpiles for potential use. Of those, an estimated 3732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2000—nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the USA—were kept in a state of high operational alert.

Although Russian and US total warhead inventories continued to decline in 2021, this was due to the dismantling of warheads that had been retired from military service several years ago. The number of warheads in the two countries’ useable military stockpiles remained relatively stable in 2021. Both countries’ deployed strategic nuclear forces were within the limits set by a bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty (2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, New START). Note, however, that New START does not limit total non-strategic nuclear warhead inventories.

‘There are clear indications that the reductions that have characterized global nuclear arsenals since the end of the cold war have ended,’ said Hans M. Kristensen, Associate Senior Fellow with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

‘All of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies,’ said Wilfred Wan, Director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme. ‘This is a very worrying trend.’

Russia and the USA together possess over 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons. The other seven nuclear-armed states are either developing or deploying new weapon systems, or have announced their intention to do so. China is in the middle of a substantial expansion of its nuclear weapon arsenal, which satellite images indicate includes the construction of over 300 new missile silos. Several additional nuclear warheads are thought to have been assigned to operational forces in 2021 following the delivery of new mobile launchers and a submarine.

The UK in 2021 announced its decision to increase the ceiling on its total warhead stockpile, in a reversal of decades of gradual disarmament policies. While criticizing China and Russia for lack of nuclear transparency, the UK also announced that it would no longer publicly disclose figures for the country’s operational nuclear weapon stockpile, deployed warheads or deployed missiles.



(Click on table to enlarge)

(Continued in right column)

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

(Continued from left column)

In early 2021 France officially launched a programme to develop a third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals, and both countries introduced and continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery system in 2021. Israel—which does not publicly acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons—is also believed to be modernizing its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear programme as a central element of its national security strategy. While North Korea conducted no nuclear test explosions or long-range ballistic missile tests during 2021, SIPRI estimates that the country has now assembled up to 20 warheads, and possesses enough fissile material for a total of 45–55 warheads.

‘If the nuclear-armed states take no immediate and concrete action on disarmament, then the global inventory of nuclear warheads could soon begin to increase for the first time since the cold war,’ said Matt Korda, Associate Researcher with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Senior Research Associate with the FAS Nuclear Information Project.

Mixed signals from nuclear diplomacy

There were several landmarks in nuclear diplomacy during the past year. These included the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in January 2021, having received the required 50 state ratifications; the extension for five years of New START, the last remaining bilateral arms control agreement between the world’s two leading nuclear powers; and the start of talks on the USA rejoining, and Iran returning to compliance with, the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

During 2021, the nuclear-armed permanent members (P5) of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA—worked on a joint statement that they issued on 3 January 2022, affirming that ‘nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’. They also reaffirmed their commitment to complying with non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control agreements and pledges as well as their obligations under the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and pursuing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Despite this, all P5 members continue to expand or modernize their nuclear arsenals and appear to be increasing the salience of nuclear weapons in their military strategies. Russia has even made open threats about possible nuclear weapon use in the context of the war in Ukraine. Bilateral Russia–USA strategic stability talks have stalled because of the war, and none of the other nuclear-armed states are pursuing arms control negotiations. Moreover, the P5 members have voiced opposition to the TPNW, and the JCPOA negotiations have not yet reached a resolution.

‘Although there were some significant gains in both nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament in the past year, the risk of nuclear weapons being used seems higher now than at any time since the height of the cold war,’ said SIPRI Director Dan Smith.

A mixed outlook for global security and stability

The 53rd edition of the SIPRI Yearbook reveals both negative and some hopeful developments in 2021.

‘Relations between the world’s great powers have deteriorated further at a time when humanity and the planet face an array of profound and pressing common challenges that can only be addressed by international cooperation,’ said Stefan Löfven, Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board.

In addition to its detailed coverage of nuclear arms control and non-proliferation issues, the latest edition of the SIPRI Yearbook includes insight on developments in conventional arms control in 2021; regional overviews of armed conflicts and conflict management; in-depth data and discussion on military expenditure, international arms transfers and arms production; and comprehensive coverage of efforts to counter chemical and biological security threats.

For editors

The SIPRI Yearbook is a compendium of cutting-edge information and analysis on developments in armaments, disarmament and international security. Three major SIPRI Yearbook 2022 data sets were pre-launched in 2021–22: total arms sales by the top 100 arms-producing companies (December 2021), international arms transfers (March 2022) and world military expenditure (April 2022). The SIPRI Yearbook is published by Oxford University Press. Learn more at www.sipriyearbook.org.

Media contacts

For information and interview requests contact, Alexandra Manolache, SIPRI Media and Communications Officer (alexandra.manolache@sipri.org, +46 766 286 133), or Stephanie Blenckner, SIPRI Communications Director (blenckner@sipri.org, +46 8 655 97 47).

UN rights chief concludes China trip with promise of improved relations

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

An article from the United Nations

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet during her visit to China, in Ürümqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. (Photo from OHCHR)

At the end of her official visit to China, the first such trip in 17 years, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet announced new areas of engagement between her office and the Chinese Government on rights issues, and summarized the many rights issues raised during her six-day May mission.

During Saturday’s virtual press conference, Ms. Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, outlined the new opportunities for dialogue between her office and the Chinese authorities that were discussed during the visit, which include an annual senior strategic meeting, and a working group that will meet in Beijing and Geneva, as well as online.

The working group, explained Ms. Bachelet, will discuss specific thematic areas, including development, poverty alleviation and human rights, minority rights, business and human rights, counterterrorism and human rights, digital space and human rights, judicial and legal protection, and human rights.

The High Commissioner pointed out that, as her Office does not have a presence in China, the working group will allow for structured engagement on these and other issues, and provide a space for her team to bring specific matters of concern to the attention of the Chinese Government.

Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong on the agenda

During her mission, Ms. Bachelet spoke with a range of government officials, several civil society organisations, academics, and community and religious leaders. In addition, she met several organizations online ahead of the visit, on issues relating to Xinjiang province, Tibet, Hong Kong, and other parts of China. 

(continued in right column)

Question for this article:

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

(continued from left column)

In Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, Ms. Bachelet raised questions and concerns about the application of counterterrorism and de-radicalisation measures and their broad application, and encouraged the Government to undertake a review of all counterterrorism and deradicalization policies, to ensure they fully comply with international human rights standards, and are not applied in an arbitrary and discriminatory way.

On the Tibet Autonomous Region, Ms. Bachelet reiterated the importance of protecting the linguistic, religious, and cultural identity of Tibetans, and allowing Tibetans to participate fully and freely in decisions about their religious life, and for dialogue to take place. 

Regarding Hong Kong, Ms. Bachelet urged the Government to nurture – and not stifle – the tremendous potential for civil society and academics in Hong Kong to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. She described the arrests of lawyers, activists, journalists and others under the National Security Law as “deeply worrying”, and noted that Hong Kong is due to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee in July.

“To those who have sent me appeals, asking me to raise issues or cases with the authorities – I have heard you”, she declared. “I will continue to follow up on such issues and instances of concern on a sustained basis”.

‘China has a very important role to play’

The rights chief praised China’s “tremendous achievements” in alleviating poverty, and eradicating extreme poverty, 10 years ahead of its target date. 

The country, she added, has gone a long way towards ensuring protection of the right to health and broader social and economic rights, thanks to the introduction of universal health care and almost universal unemployment insurance scheme. 

A number of other developments in the country were welcomed by Ms. Bachelet, including legislation that improves protection for women’s rights, and work being done by NGOs to advance the rights of LGBTI people, people with disabilities, and older people.

The UN rights chief underscored the important role that China has to play, at a regional and multilateral level, and noted that everyone she met on her visit, from Government officials, civil society, academics, diplomats and others, demonstrated a sincere willingness to make progress on the promotion and protection of human rights for all. 

(Editor’s note: Bachelet’s trip does not support US propaganda claiming that China is engaged in genocide in Xinjiang.)