Tag Archives: global

Mikhail S. Gorbachev (1931 – 2022) / Imaginative and Unexpected Proposals

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION .

A eulogy by Federico Mayor Zaragoza in Other News (translation by CPNN)

“Politicians alone cannot encompass or face all the challenges that the world presents today. Politics needs interaction with civil society and the intellectual community. Consequently, dialogue is absolutely essential, a wide-ranging dialogue that helps us develop bold and feasible approaches to solve the challenges of our globalized world. The world needs a vision with the will and perseverance to make it a reality. We need to cultivate a new culture and push new approaches, because the world needs a culture of peace.”

This is how Mikhail Gorbachev opened the third meeting of the World Political Forum, held in Bosco Marengo, Italy, on July 8, 2002. At that time, the former president of the Soviet Union had already become one of the most important figures in history.


Image from Wikicommons/MT

Once again, listening to him, I thought of the mistake made by Western leaders in not taking seriously the words of this man who had set the example, with extraordinary imagination and ability, by solving one of the most important challenges of the contemporary world without the use of weapons, without a single drop of blood. Obsessed with accounts and dividends, Western leaders look the other way. As a result they have led humanity to the current systemic crisis.

On December 15, 1984, Gorbachev arrived in London at the head of the Supreme Soviet delegation. It was the first visit by a Soviet delegation to Britain in some 15 years. His speech to the House of Commons was extraordinarily audacious: the nuclear age called for new “political thinking.” The danger of war was a reality; the cold war constituted an abnormal state of relations that propitiated the danger of warlike confrontation. In a nuclear war there could be no winners. No state can ensure its own security by threatening the security of others. In the limitation and elimination of armaments, and in particular in the case of nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union was prepared to go as far as its Western interlocutors wished…”. In his speech a phrase was especially remarkable: “Regardless of how much may separate us, we live on the same planet. Europe is our common home; a house, and not a battlefield.” It was clear already in 1984 that Mikhail Gorbachev was speaking in a different language.

On that occasion he unfolded a large map on which all the major nuclear arsenals were marked. “Each one of these small squares is enough to end any life on Earth… Thus, with the stocks accumulated in nuclear weapons we could annihilate our civilization a thousand times over.” His address to the British Parliament on December 18 had a great impact, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

In October 1986 the Issyk-Kul Forum met. Mikhail Gorbachev himself described it as follows: “In October 1986 an event had occurred that would have considerable importance in the years of perestroika. I am referring to the meeting at the ISSYK-KUL lake, which brought together leading artists from all over the world, including Arthur Miller, Alexander King, Alvin Toffler, Peter Ustinov, Zulfu Livanelly, Federico Mayor and Afework Teklé… Its initiator was the writer Chingiz Aitmatov. There was talk of nuclear danger, ecological catastrophes and the progressive lack of dignity, also in politics. My meeting with the participants of that Forum took place on October 20, a week after Reykjavík…”.

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

Question related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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It was after the meeting by the Issyk-Kul lake, when that distinguished group of intellectuals and creators – to which must be added James Baldwin, Augusto Forti, Rustem Khairov, Yaser Kemal, Lisandro Otero and Claude Simon – had with the secretary overall an extraordinarily interesting meeting. I was entrusted with the presidency and it was a memorable occasion for me to be able to learn about the vision and approaches of people who spoke not only of freedom but of responsibility, and how we could better advise the secretary general of the Soviet Union so that he could carry out the transformations necessary. How could we collaborate to put perestroika into practice?

In order to better understand the context in which the first meeting of the Issyk-Kul Forum took place, I would like to highlight President Gorbachev’s statements at a press conference he gave on October 14, 1986 after the Reykjavik Summit. Gorbachev highlighted all the proposals made to President Reagan on the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons, with effective verification; including total elimination by the Americans and the Soviets of “middle-range” missiles.…Gorbachev openly described that, at one point, a “real battle” had taken place between the two approaches on politics on a world scale – including the ending of the arms race and nuclear warheads … “I realized, indicated Mikhail Gorbachev, that the American president is a captive of the United States military-industrial complex”. This assertion is especially relevant and had already been made clear by President Eisenhower at the end of his term. “I think that the president of the United States and I have to reach an agreement on my next visit to Washington. Otherwise, a great historical opportunity will have been lost.”

In October 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize. He could not go to the corresponding ceremony in Oslo due to having to attend to very urgent responsibilities. For this reason, he delivered the “Nobel Lecture” in Oslo on June 5, 1991, in which he spoke at length and in depth about the need for peace to prevail over all other conditions. He expressed his confidence that solidarity and change had been accepted by the “whole world to face global challenges”.

How awesome! Who would have thought that it would be a politician from the Soviet Union who, with great imagination and skill, would be able to end the “Cold War” without a single casualty, placidly. while President Reagan spoke of “star wars”…?

Mikhail Gorbachev, very concerned about preserving the quality of human life, created in Geneva a “Green Cross International” whose objectives are the global challenges of security and the eradication of poverty and environmental degradation. President Gorbachev also founded “The World Political Forum.” He was accompanied by Andrei Grachev in the World Political Forum and by Alexander Likhotal in the Green Cross.

I want to mention the emotion that the event held in the great Albert Hall in London -full to the brim- produced in me on Gorbachev’s 80th birthday, in 2011. “The man who changed the world”, was in the center of a large arch in the immense Hall. I thought about the contrast between this man who had redirected so many erroneous tendencies, on the one hand, and the other impassive, short-sighted and irresponsible leaders, on the other hand, who are incapable of benefiting from such unexpected historical developments. And, in the midst of the applause, I thought of what Gorbachev had written in 1991: “The Berlin Wall collapsed because a system based on equality had forgotten freedom. Now, the alternative system will also collapse because, based on freedom, it has forgotten equality. And both have forgotten justice”.

On the first day of October 2016, from Moscow, he joined the “Disarmament for Development” campaign, sponsored by the Geneva International Peace Bureau, led by Ingeborg Breines and Colin Archer, in order to redirect 10% of the colossal daily investments in weapons and military spending. In Berlin, that symbolic city, many people marched for peace “unter den Linden”. Despite his express support and that of Pope Francis… the media paid no attention. But there have been many and in the future there will be many more who will be inspired by Gorbachev’s fabulous career. His imaginative and unexpected proposals have been and will continue to be very relevant guidance in my own daily behavior.

Gorbachev is a giant and luminous star. He gives us guidance for tomorrow. His legacy will remain as glimmers of hope for a future that has yet to be achieved.

NPT Review Conference ends without agreement: What next?

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Unfold Zero

Can new actions/initiatives come from the NPT deliberations?
On Friday (August 26), after four weeks of deliberations, the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty  concluded with no final agreement.


flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency

A 35-page long draft final document prepared by the Review Conference President Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen had agreement of most, if not all, of the NPT States parties except one – Russia. (See No consensus at NPT review conference after Russia blocks draft document , NHK, August 27, 2022).

A key objection of Russia was the opposition expressed in the draft document to the military activities conducted near or at nuclear power plants, in particular the Zaporizhzya nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which has been occupied and militarized by Russia. These activities pose severe risks to the integrity of the nuclear power plant that could result in a nuclear catastrophe of a similar or worse nature than the Chernobyl nuclear accident. (See In Ukraine, a Nuclear Plant Held Hostage , NY Times, August 23, 2022).

The draft document also affirmed that the security of non-nuclear States must be protected, and that States Parties must refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

While not mentioning Russia by name, this language was correctly perceived by Russia as condemning their invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine relinquished nuclear weapons, which they possessed at the break-up of the Soviet Union, in return for security guarantees in the Budapest Memorandum   which protect their territorial integrity. Russia has violated both the UN Charter and the Budapest Memorandum by its invasion of Ukraine.

The international community should welcome the principled refusal of the other NPT States Parties to delete these important provisions. Such deletion would have been required to get agreement from Russia, but would have resulted in a weak final document that did not address real nuclear threats of today. Consensus should not be achieved by abandoning important principles and international law.

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

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What now: New action from a ‘failed’ NPT Review Conference?

The failure of an NPT Review conference to adopt a final document does not necessarily imply a failed conference. Proposals discussed during an NPT Review Conference can take a life of their own despite of – or even stimulated by – the lack of agreed outcome.

This happened for example in 2015. A final document was unable to be agreed. The main dispute was on the proposal to convene a UN conference to establish a Middle East Zone from Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction regardless of whether or not all states in the region participated in the UN Conference. A secondary dispute was on the proposal to start negotiating a threat to prohibit nuclear weapons regardless of whether or not nuclear armed and allied states joined such negotiations.

Despite no final agreement, the NPT Review Conference provided the incubation space for both proposals, which then were taken up through the UN General Assembly resolutions.

These resulted firstly in the UN Open Ended Working Group being reconvened in 2016 to prepare the basis for a nuclear ban treaty, which was then negotiated and adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2017. This was followed in 2018 by the UN General Assembly establishing a UN Conference on a Middle East Zone free from Nuclear Weapons and other WMD , which convenes annually (except during the COVID-19 pandemic) until it concludes a legally binding treaty.  

Issues/initiatives at the 2022 NPT Review Conference that drew a lot of attention, possibly paving the way for action in other forums, included nuclear risk reduction, non-use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict, the adoption of no-first-use policies and negative security assurances.

The call for adoption of no-first-use policies, for example, found much stronger support than in previous NPT Review Conferences, and for the first time ever was included in the draft final document (up until the final few days). This was in large part due to the campaign activities of NoFirstUse Global, including the presentation to the NPT Review Conference of the Open Letter Fulfil the NPT: From nuclear threats to human security , and advocacy in capitals and during the Review Conference.

In addition, informal discussions were held during the NPT Review Conference, on a proposed United Nations General Assembly resolution on reducing the threat of nuclear-weapons-use arising from armed conflicts including the Ukraine conflict.

UNFOLD ZERO, NoFirstUse Global   and other partner organizations will use the momentum generated at the NPT Review Conference on these initiatives (and others) to make progress in the UNGA and other relevant forums. We encourage you to stay tuned and engaged in this.   

According to Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen, President of the NPT Review Conference, the conference was “very meaningful.” “Delegations engaged in discussions on very complex issues, and the lack of an outcome document did not diminish their work. It is like we had a movie for four weeks, but we couldn’t take a picture at the end of the movie. So not having the picture of that doesn’t reflect that the movie didn’t exist.” (See UN Chief disappointed nuclear treaty conference ends without consensus , UN News, August 27, 2022)

War Abolisher Awards 2022

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An article from the website of the Action Network

The War Abolisher Awards will be presented at an online event on September 5. To attend, fill in the information and register here..

World BEYOND War’s Second Annual War Abolisher Awards will recognize the work of an environmental organization that has prevented military operations in state parks in Washington State, a filmmaker from New Zealand who has documented the power of unarmed peacemaking, Italian dock workers who have blocked the shipment of weapons of war, and British peace activist and Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn who has taken a consistent stand for peace despite intense pressure.

The Whidbey Environmental Action Network (WEAN), based on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, will be awarded the Organizational War Abolisher of 2022 award.

The Individual War Abolisher of 2022 award is going to New Zealand filmmaker William Watson in recognition of his film Soldiers Without Guns: An Untold Story of Unsung Kiwi Heroes. Watch it here.

The Lifetime Organizational War Abolisher Award of 2022 will be presented to Collettivo Autonomo Lavoratori Portuali (CALP) and Unione Sindacale di Base Lavoro Privato (USB) in recognition of the blocking of weapons shipments by Italian dock workers, who have blocked shipments to a number of wars in recent years.

The David Hartsough Lifetime Individual War Abolisher of 2022 Award will be presented to Jeremy Corbyn.

Whidbey Environmental Action Network (WEAN):

WEAN, an organization with 30 years of accomplishments  for the natural environment, won a court case in April 2022 in Thurston County Superior Court, which found that Washington’s State Parks and Recreation Commission had been “arbitrary and capricious” in granting the United States Navy use of state parks for military training. Their permission to do so was vacated in an unusual and lengthy ruling from the bench. The case had been filed by WEAN  with the support of the Not in Our Parks Coalition to challenge the Commission’s approval, given in 2021, for its staff to proceed with permitting the Navy’s plans for war training in state parks.

The public had first learned that the U.S. Navy was using state parks for war rehearsals in 2016 from a report at Truthout.org. There followed years of research, organizing, education, and mobilizing of the public by WEAN and its friends and allies, as well as years of lobbying pressure by the U.S. Navy, which flew in numerous experts from Washington, D.C., California, and Hawaii. While the Navy can be expected to keep pushing, WEAN won its court case on all counts, having persuaded the court that unannounced warlike actions by armed troops in public parks was damaging to the public and the parks.

WEAN impressed people for years with its dedicated efforts to expose what was being done and to put a stop to it, building a case against the environmental destruction of war exercises, the danger to the public, and the harm to resident war veterans suffering PTSD. The state parks are locations for weddings, for the spreading of ashes following funerals, and for seeking quiet and solace.

The Navy’s presence in the Puget Sound region is less than positive. On the one hand, they tried (and will likely try again) to commandeer State Parks for training in how to spy on park visitors. On the other hand, they fly jets so loud that the state’s flagship park, Deception Pass, becomes impossible to visit because jets are screaming overhead. While WEAN took on the spying in state parks, another group, Sound Defense Alliance, addressed the Navy’s making life untenable.

A small number of people on a small island are having an impact on Washington State and developing a model to be emulated elsewhere. World BEYOND War is very pleased to honor them and encourages everyone to attend.

Accepting the award and speaking for WEAN will be Marianne Edain and Larry Morrell.

William Watson:

Soldiers Without Guns, recounts and shows us a true story that contradicts the most basic assumptions of politics, foreign policy, and popular sociology. This is a story of how a war was ended by an army without guns, determined to unite people in peace. Instead of guns, these peacemakers used guitars.

This is a story that should be much better known, of a Pacific Island people rising up against the largest mining corporation in the world. After 10 years of war, they had seen 14 failed peace agreements, and the endless failure of violence. In 1997 the New Zealand army stepped into the conflict with a new idea that was condemned by the national and international media. Few expected it to succeed.

This film is a powerful piece of evidence, although far from the only piece, that unarmed peacekeeping can succeed where the armed version fails, that once you actually mean the familiar statement that “there is no military solution,” real and surprising solutions become possible.

Possible, but not simple or easy. There are many courageous people in this film whose decisions were critical to success. World BEYOND War would like the world, and in particular the United Nations, to learn from their examples.

Accepting the award, discussing his work, and taking questions on September 5 will be William Watson. World BEYOND War hopes that everyone will tune in.

Collettivo Autonomo Lavoratori Portuali (CALP) and Unione Sindacale di Base Lavoro Privato (USB):

CALP was formed by about 25 workers in the Port of Genoa in 2011 as part of the labor union USB. Since 2019, it has been working on closing Italian ports to weapons shipments, and for much of the past year it has been organizing plans for an international strike against weapons shipments at ports around the world.

In 2019, CALP workers refused to allow a ship to depart Genoa with weapons bound for Saudi Arabia  and its war on Yemen.

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Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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In 2020 they blocked a ship carrying weapons meant for the war in Syria.

In 2021 CALP communicated with USB workers in Livorno to block a weapons shipment to Israel for its assaults on the people of Gaza.

In 2022 USB workers in Pisa blocked weapons  meant for the war in Ukraine.

Also in 2022, CALP blocked, temporarily, another Saudi weapons ship  in Genoa.

For CALP this is a moral issue. They have said that they do not wish to be accomplices to massacres. They have been praised by and invited to speak by the current Pope.

They have also advanced the cause as a safety issue, arguing to port authorities that it is dangerous to be allowing ships full of weapons, including unknown weapons, into ports in the centers of cities.

They have also argued that this is a legal matter. Not only are the dangerous contents of weapons shipments not identified as other dangerous materials are required to be, but it is illegal to ship weapons to wars under Italian Law 185, Article 6, of 1990, and a violation of the Italian Constitution, Article 11.

Ironically, when CALP began arguing for the illegality of weapons shipments, the police in Genoa showed up to search their office and their spokesperson’s home.

CALP has built alliances with other workers and included the public and celebrities in its actions. The dock workers have collaborated with student groups and peace groups of all types. They have taken their legal case to the European Parliament. And they have organized international conferences to build toward a global strike against arms shipments.

CALP is on TelegramFacebook, and Instagram.

This small group of workers in one port is making a huge difference in Genoa, in Italy, and in the world. World BEYOND War is excited to honor them and encourages everyone to hear their story, and ask them questions, on September 5.

Accepting the award and speaking for CALP and USB on September 5 will be CALP Spokesperson Josè Nivoi. Nivoi was born in Genoa in 1985, has worked in the port for about 15 years, has been active with unions about 9 years, and has worked for the union fulltime for about 2 years.

Jeremy Corbyn:

Jeremy Corbyn is a British peace activist and politician who chaired the Stop the War Coalition from 2011 to 2015 and served as Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party from 2015 to 2020. He has been a peace activist all his adult lift and provided a consistent parliamentary voice for the peaceful resolution of conflicts since his election in 1983.

Corbyn is currently a member of the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe, the UK Socialist Campaign Group, and a regular participant at the United Nations Human Rights Council (Geneva), Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Vice President), and Chagos Islands All Party Parliamentary Group (Honorary President), and a Vice president of the British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Corbyn has supported peace and opposed the wars of many governments: including Russia’s war on Chechnya, 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and Indonesia’s war on the West Papuan people: but, as a British member of Parliament, his focus has been on wars engaged in or supported by the British government. Corbyn was a prominent opponent of the 2003-begun phase of the war on Iraq, having been elected to the Steering Committee of the Stop the War Coalition in 2001, an organization formed to oppose the war on Afghanistan. Corbyn has spoken at countless antiwar rallies, including the February 15 largest-ever demonstration in Britain, part of global demonstrations against attacking Iraq.

Corbyn was one of just 13 MPs to vote against the 2011 war in Libya and has argued for Britain to seek negotiated settlements to complex conflicts, such as in Yugoslavia in the 1990s and Syria in the 2010s. A 2013 vote in Parliament against war Britain joining the war in Syria was instrumental in dissuading the United States from dramatically escalating that war.

As Labour Party leader, he responded to the 2017 terrorist atrocity at the Manchester Arena, where suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 concert goers, mainly young girls, with a speech that broke with bipartisan support for the War on Terror. Corbyn argued that the War on Terror had made British people less safe, increasing the risk of terrorism at home. The argument outraged the British political and media class but polling showed it was supported by the majority of the British people. Abedi was a British citizen of Libyan heritage, known to the British security services, who had fought in Libya and was evacuated from Libya by a British operation.

Corbyn has been a strong advocate for diplomacy and nonviolent resolution of disputes. He has called for NATO to be ultimately disbanded, viewing the build up of competitive military alliances as increasing rather than decreasing the threat of war. He is a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons and supporter of unilateral nuclear disarmament. He has supported Palestinian rights and opposed Israeli attacks and illegal settlements. He has opposed British arming of Saudi Arabia and participation in the war on Yemen. He has supported returning the Chagos Islands to their residents. He has urged the Western powers to support a peaceful settlement to Russia’s war on Ukraine, rather than escalate that conflict into a proxy war with Russia.

World BEYOND War enthusiastically awards Jeremy Corbyn the David Hartsough Lifetime Individual War Abolisher of 2022 Award, named for World BEYOND War’s co-founder and longtime peace activist David Hartsough.

Accepting the award, discussing his work, and taking questions on September 5 will be Jeremy Corbyn. World BEYOND War hopes that everyone will tune in.

These are the second annual War Abolisher Awards.

World BEYOND War is a global nonviolent movement, founded in 2014, to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace. The purpose of the awards is to honor and encourage support for those working to abolish the institution of war itself. With the Nobel Peace Prize and other nominally peace-focused institutions so frequently honoring other good causes or, in fact, wagers of war, World BEYOND War intends its awards to go to educators or activists intentionally and effectively advancing the cause of war abolition, accomplishing reductions in war-making, war preparations, or war culture. World BEYOND War received hundreds of impressive nominations. The World BEYOND War Board, with assistance from its Advisory Board, made the selections.

The awardees are honored for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book A Global Security System, An Alternative to War. They are: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace.

Proposal for a nuclear weapon trade-off to end the Russia/Ukraine war

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Received by email from Unfold Zero (info@unfoldzero.org)

On July 19, The Hill (which goes to most US congressional offices) published Nuclear strategy and ending the war in Ukraine, a very interesting article by Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Costa Rica; and Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, a co-founding organization of UNFOLD ZERO.

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

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Mr Arias and Mr Granoff propose that the United States and NATO “plan and prepare for withdrawal of all U.S. nuclear warheads from Europe and Turkey” as a way to “get Putin’s attention and bring him to the negotiating table” and possibly agree to end the war.

It’s a very interesting and bold proposal that could possibly work. It would allow Putin a way to end the invasion by claiming domestically (to Russians) that he had scored a victory – the elimination of US nuclear weapons in Europe. At the same time it would not diminish the security (or perception of security) NATO countries ascribe to nuclear deterrence, as such deterrence does not rely on the US nuclear weapons currently based in Europe.

According to the two authors “NATO’s nuclear arsenal failed to deter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has almost no utility as a weapon of war. But NATO’s nuclear weapons can still be put to good use, not by threatening to launch them and escalate the war, but by withdrawing them to make room for new negotiations and eventual peace.”

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. 


Sculpture at the United Nations created by Zurab Tsereteli. It depicts St. George slaying a dragon created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 missiles and United States Pershing nuclear missiles that were destroyed under the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987.

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. 

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

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

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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.

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Question for this article:

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

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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.

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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

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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.

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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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.