Arms and the New Age

Arms and the New Age

Postby Rene Wadlow » Mon Aug 28, 2006 9:58 pm

From the Duel to the Fluid : Armaments, Disarmament and International Security
Rene Wadlow

There are a number of reasons to turn to the SIPRI Yearbooks* on armaments. One is to confirm the impression that not much is going on in the disarmament field. I always have a suspicion that there might be secret disarmament treaties arrived at secretly. But the Wilsonian hope of open diplomacy openly arrived at has taken hold. There was a “New Yorker” drawing that showed a man and a woman reading newspapers and the woman is saying “There is always something going on in Geneva, but I can never figure out what it is.”
Although Geneva is still the home of the UN Conference on Disarmament and part of the UN Disarmament secretariat, there has been no visible action. The days of the Soviet-American SALT negotiations in Geneva are now memories. As an NGO representative to the UN, I used to be invited to briefings at the Soviet and US missions to hear their position on nuclear weapons. I would go thinking that I would deserve glasses of good wine in exchange, but, alas, the best wines must have been kept for the negotiators.

Another reason for close reading of the Yearbook is to see that the “usual suspects” are still selling the great bulk of arms: USA, Russia, France, Germany and the Netherlands in that order. The only thing that I did not know, pointed out in the chapter “International Arms Transfers” is that some Israeli arms as components are sold through West European countries since “Made in Israel” may not be what Islamic armies want to be seen on the arms they buy. Not surprising, but worth knowing as the “merchants of death” often have more ingenuous techniques than peace groups.

This year, the SIPRI Director Alyson J.K. Bailes, a former UK diplomat, looking back to 1969 when the first SIPRI Yearbook was published offers a useful overview of trends since the 1990 end of the Cold War. In the same spirit Stanley Hoffmann , that civilized voice in which scepticism and hope are admirably balanced, wrote of his fellow international relations scholars for whom the Cold War was the focus of analysis for two generations “We have concentrated for fifty years on one particular kind of nightmare, the nightmare of a bipolar nuclear conflict between two superpowers – the traditional duel of Athens and Sparta – and it concentrated the mind because the risks were so obvious. I fear that the mind is much more difficult to concentrate on the kind of chaos we face now.”

During the Cold War, the superpowers, driven by fear of nuclear war, devised by trial and error, a network of rules and restraints aimed at avoiding direct military collision. The United States and the Soviet Union set out “rules of the game” through negotiations between themselves. These “rules of the game” were a combination of international treaties which could gain wide consensus among other states and a balance of power with mutual respect for spheres of local preponderance.”

Hoffmann in his book “World Disorders: Troubled Peace in the Post- Cold War Era” stresses that today “We are dealing with an extraordinary complex system in which we still find all the traditional goals that states used to pursue: prestige, influence, might; even territory is still often important insofar as it is (for instance, in the Arab-Israeli conflict) a component of national identity. And yet next to traditional goals we also have new ones, particularly in the world economy, where one of the main stakes is really control of market shares. Finally, we confront the problem of the failed state, formidable both because of its human consequences – chaos, civil wars, refugees – and because of the risk of external meddling.”

In the chapter “Major armed conflict” Caroline Holmqvist contrasts the dual aspect of the Cold War – the potential shootout at O.K. Corral –with the “fluidity” or “liquidity” of the present situation. In some ways this fluidity is to be expected, but in “Peace Matters” trends are not usually analysed in terms of astrological-historical cycles. Yet the former President and long-time member of the Peace Pledge Union, Sir Michael Tippett, entitled his 1974 collection of essays “Moving into Aquarius”. For those who have not read the difficult but key book of Carl Gustav Jung “Aion”, Aquarius refers to the sign of the period into which we are moving. Humanity is at the transition of a 2000-year cycle, leaving the Piscean period which is marked by the birth of Jesus and is symbolized by the two fishes of early Christian symbolism – the Piscean Period. We have moved in the year 2000 into the Aquarian Age symbolized by the fluid pouring of water .

The last 25 years of a cycle is the foundation for the cycle to come. Thus in 1975, the Helsinki accords created what is now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although at the time the accords seemed as a Piscean event – the signature of a status quo agreement between the two duelists – the OSCE , in fact, is the foundation of the Aquarian fluidity which marks the end of the Cold War, the break up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and the passing of much African leadership which had come to power in 1960.

The passage to the Age of Aquarius is conditioned by the way in which the previous cycle – the Piscean Period – is released: whether gently or violently, with compassion or animosity, with courage or fear. As Sri Aurobindo has said “The end of a stage of evolution is usually marked by a powerful recrudescence of all that has to go out of evolution.”

Geographically, the Piscean heartland, again marked by the birth of Jesus and the early Christian period, is the area of Iran (from which came the three Magi) through Israel-Palestine, Lebanon-Syria, Egypt and northern Sudan which was part of the Egyptian Empire 2000 years ago. The summer of 2006 with the conflicts in Israel-Palestine, and Lebanon, the tensions over Iran, the growing violence in Iraq, and the continuing conflict in Darfur, Sudan are there as a key example of the narrowness and hates which have “to go out of evolution”. The conflicts of the Piscean heartland need to be resolved before we can move smoothly into Aquarius. The mindsets of the area – religious, sectarian, tribal, gendered, nationalistic – are the mindsets and values which had usefulness in the Piscean Period but which are now dated and hindering advance into the New Age.

The transition of astrological-historical ages gives us the framework in which we need to work. For those who do not believe in such cycles, the conflicts highlighted this summer in the Middle East may be reason enough for a focus on the area and enhanced conflict resolution efforts. The SIPRI Yearbook gives us some of the information we need for informed action.

• SIPRI Yearbook 2006: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security
• (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, 888pp.)
Rene Wadlow is the editor of and the representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of Association of World Citizens
Rene Wadlow
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Arms and world citizenship

Postby Rene Wadlow » Fri Sep 15, 2006 11:10 am

Douglas Mattern
Looking For Square Two : Moving from War and Violence to Global Community
(Salt Lake City, UT: Millennial Mind Publishing, 2006, 176pp.)

“The crisis today in human affairs is represented not by the absence of human capacity, but by the failure to recognize that the capacity exists. What gives hope its power is the release of human energies generated by the longing for something better”
Norman Cousins

Douglas Mattern, president of the Association of World Citizens, here presents some of the ways to tap the capacity of people and to move from our current “Square One” of outdated balance-of-power relations between states to “Square Two” — a world society of peace and justice.

One of the primary duties of state leaders is to identify and then to defend against enemies. As soon as a pair of states begins to identify one another as enemies, as the USA and the Soviet Union did in 1945 at the end of the World War, they take steps that confirm and amplify the initial fears, thus starting a cycle of action and reaction. For American leaders, the Soviet Union represented not only an expansionist state but was also a leader of a more vague and undefined “international communism”. For the Soviets the USA was an atomic-weapon state but also the champion of an effort to destroy the “socialist system”. Many citizens feel that if a government fails to be vigilant in its “threat assessment” of the present danger, then that administration does not deserve to govern.

We see after “9/11” the same political and security mechanisms made all the more difficult because “Islamic Fascism” is even more vague and undefined than “international Communism” and does not have a specific “home state” as the Soviet Union or China had for Communism.

There are basically two types of activities which people can take to modify such cycles of distrust and resort to arms. The first is the role of “kibitzer” — the person who is on the sideline in a game of cards who says after each hand “I would not have played the Ace of Hearts then.” Likewise we can say “If I were in the place of President Bush, I would not have gone into Afghanistan, much less Iraq.” A good deal of world citizen energy has gone into efforts to convince governments that nuclear weapons, nuclear-weapons testing, and keeping nuclear weapons on “hair-trigger alert” is unwise. It is likely that had there not been the anti-nuclear efforts starting in 1945 when as Albert Einstein said “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe”, governments would have continued to develop and test nuclear weapons driven by only technical and strategic considerations.

Much of the drive for arms control and disarmament has come from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and from community-based moral voices, such as that of Martin Luther King, Jr who said “I do not minimize the complexity of the problems that need to be faced in achieving disarmament and peace. But I am convinced that we shall not have the will, the courage, and the insight to deal with such matters unless in this field we are prepared to undergo a mental and spiritual re-evaluation, a change of focus which will enable us to see that the things that seem most real and powerful are indeed now unreal and have come under sentence of death. It is not enough to say ‘We must not wage war!’ It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the eradication of war but on the affirmation of peace.”

The value of being a “kibitzer” at the United Nations through non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN is that one can give advice to a host of governments. Out of the 192 UN members, some governments will be interested and take up ideas which later may be found in resolutions. NGO representatives cannot claim “ownership” of the ideas, but the constant repetition of basic ideas of conflict resolution, human rights, and a fairer economic system keep these ideals in front of decision makers.

Another approach is the role of “citizen diplomat”. As Douglas Mattern notes “Citizen diplomacy is an idea whose time has come. With modern technology, individuals and organizations from diverse parts of the globe can have instant communication through the Internet, telephones, and fax machines. The marvel of telecommunications, along with the relative ease and speed of travel, provide the capability for joint activity among people that was not previously possible.”

Mattern tells of his experiences as a citizen diplomat in the Soviet Union on “Citizen Diplomacy Volga Peace Cruise” — trips starting in 1983 organized by Alice and Howard Frazier of Promoting Enduring Peace. During the eleven hundred mile trip on the Volga with stops at major cities along the way, there were workshops and exchanges of views and perceptions. Later in 1986, there was a return trip down the Mississippi during which thousands of Americans came to greet the Russians on the Delta Queen steamboat and to extend their own message of peace and friendship.

The multiplication of such examples of citizen diplomacy helped to break down the walls which the Cold War had created, both physical and mental walls. Mattern sets out the basic aims of citizen diplomacy: “ Our unyielding task is to build a world community that respects law and justice, the sharing of resources, and the creation of a new civilization based on respect for life, respect for the environment, and respect for each other.”

Rene Wadlow
Rene Wadlow is the editor of and the representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of Association of World Citizens
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Arms and the New Age: Cluster Bombs

Postby Rene Wadlow » Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:15 pm

Ban Cluster Bombs ! A UN Call
Written by Rene Wadlow
Thursday, 16 November 2006

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for urgent actions to address the disastrous impact of cluster munitions — warheads that scatter scores of smaller bombs, especially when used in populated areas as happened in this summer’s conflict in Lebanon.

Mr Annan was addressing the start of the Review Conference on the Convention on Prohibitions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects — the “Inhumane Weapons’ Convention” to its friends — on 7 November 2006 in Geneva. He stressed that “Recent events show that the atrocious, inhumane effects of these weapons — both at their time of use and after the conflict ends — must be addressed immediately so that civilian populations can start rebuilding their lives.”

The UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) working in southern Lebanon reported that their density there is higher than in Kosovo and Iraq, especially in built up areas, posing a constant threat to hundreds of thousands of people, humanitarian and reconstruction workers as well as to UN peacekeepers. It is estimated that one million cluster bombs were fired on south Lebanon during the 34 days of war, many during the last two days of war when a ceasefire was a real possibility. The Hezbollah militia also shot off rockets with cluster bombs into northern Israel.

There is as yet no commonly accepted definition of cluster munitions but basically cluster munitions can be described as a container that holds a number of submunitions such as ‘bomblets’ or ‘grenades’ ranging from a few to hundreds. Cluster bombs can be air-delivered or ground-launched.

It is thought that the Israeli cluster bombs were “made in the USA” while those of Hezbollah came from Iran. Therefore one of the first necessary steps is a ban on the transfer of cluster munitions. Annan highlighted the transfer issue. “I also urge you to freeze the transfer of these cluster munitions that are known to be inaccurate and unreliable and to dispose of them.”

Thirty-four countries are known to produce cluster weapons and at least 73 states stockpile them — an estimated four billion. With that many around, there is a real threat that non-state armed groups will also be able to buy them on the “grey market”.

The failure rate of cluster munitions is high, ranging from 30 to 80 percent. But “failure” may be the wrong word. They may, in fact, be designed to kill later. The large number of unexploded cluster bombs means that farm lands and forests cannot be used or are used with great danger. Most people killed and wounded by cluster bombs in the 21 conflicts where they have been used are civilians, often young. Such persons often suffer severe injuries such as loss of limbs and loss of sight. It is difficult to resume working or schooling.

Thus, there has been a growing momentum on the part of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to study the impact of cluster bombs and to call for their ban. Handicap International which deals directly with victims and which had played a role in the efforts to ban the use of landmines has highlighted the impact of cluster weapons. Human Rights Watch has played a leading role, and the Mennonite Central Committee among religious groups. The International Committee of the Red Cross called for a stop on the use of cluster bombs and urged countries possessing them to destroy their stockpiles. The Red Cross has suggested calling a conference of experts in 2007 on the possibility of banning cluster weapons. Such a Red Cross expert meeting would follow the pattern that had led to the drafting of the “Inhumane Weapons’ Convention.”

In 1973, in light of the war in Vietnam, the International Committee of the Red Cross had called together a Working Group on Conventional Weapons. The wide use by US forces of napalm in Vietnam had been brought to public attention through photos and television reporting. Thus a ban on incendiary weapons was at the center of the discussions. Less well known except to experts was the increasingly wide use by US troops of an ancestor of cluster bombs —“flechettes” made of hard plastic which are intended to injure but are not detectable in the body by x-rays.

The Working Group report came out in 1975 just as the war ended in Vietnam. There was a wide-spread feeling among certain diplomats that not only had the United Nations not been able to prevent the wars in IndoChina but had been largely absent from the negotiations on ending the wars. The least that could be done was to try to reduce as much as possible the suffering that such conflicts cause.

Thus, largely led by Sweden, a country active in proposing disarmament measures, a conference was started in Geneva on a treaty that would ban or limit the use of certain conventional weapons such as incendiaries which had been widely used or laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness which were still at a trial stage.

The basic principle of the treaty was to again make central a principle set out at the Hague Conferences at the start of the 20th century that the combatants’ choice of means of combat utilized is not unlimited and thus combatants must refrain from employing weapons that might cause unnecessary suffering or have indiscriminate effects. The resulting Convention is an umbrella treaty containing general principles to which can be attached protocols, each dealing with a single category of weapon. There are currently five protocols.

While the nature of war has not changed radically there still being unnecessary suffering and indiscriminate effects, the Convention is part of that slow process of building the walls of law against the practice of war. Napalm and landmines are increasingly seen as beyond the limits of what is permissible. Public reaction to the use of napalm linked to a general reaction against the war in Vietnam was the starting point of the effort carried first by NGOs and a small number of governments.

Perhaps in the same way, the indiscriminate use of cluster bombs against Lebanon and a growing realization of the dangers in the Middle East will lead to sustained efforts first, a freeze on the use, then a ban on transfers, and a ban on production, followed by a destruction of stockpiles. NGO efforts for such a ban need to be in as many countries as possible, and there needs to be highly visible public support before the International Committee of the Red Cross Working Group meets in 2007 to look at the technicalities of such a ban. The UN call is clear. It is now up to us to build the momentum.

Rene Wadlow


Rene Wadlow is editor of the online journal of world politics and an NGO representative to the UN, Geneva. Formerly, he was professor and Director of Research of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies, University of Geneva.
Rene Wadlow is the editor of and the representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of Association of World Citizens
Rene Wadlow
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Postby Rene_Wadlow » Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:32 am

The United Nations as One

Rene Wadlow

"The outer message of the United Nations is peace.

The inner message is Oneness.

Peace — we strive to structure;

Oneness — we manifest."

Dag Hammarshjold has written that the United Nations was “the beginning of an organic process through which the diversity of peoples and their governments are struggling to find common ground upon which they can live together in the one world which has been thrust upon us before we were ready.”

Basically, the function of the UN is to create consensus (being of one mind) on crucial world issues. Such consensus-building is slow, and it is done by repeating endlessly in resolutions of the General Assembly and other UN bodies, year after year, the same idea until it becomes common place. Slowly national governments align their policies upon this common core as non-governmental organizations and the media take up the issues — sometimes a little ahead of governments and sometimes only later.

In 60 years, there have been six issues which have moved from the stage of the ideas of a few to become common policy. This evens out to an idea per decade, and the UN has tried to push “theme decades” with only limited success as we see from the current “UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.”

I see the six ideas as follows:

1) The end of direct colonialism. There grew from the start of the UN until the mid-1960s the idea that colonial administration had ended its usefulness as a form of government. The end of colonialism owes much to the UN system, though, of course, inequality and domination, the signs of colonial status, have not been overcome.

2) Apartheid as a bad structure for South Africa and for other countries tempted by similar structures of racial division was a theme of many resolutions and speeches. Slowly, the image of a multi-racial and multi-cultural society took hold, encouraged by enlightened leadership at the national level.

3) There are basic human rights and these should be respected. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the Preamble to the UN Charter are the two lasting documents of the UN and stand as the guide for common action.

4) Closely related to the idea of human rights but needing a special effort at consensus building is the idea that women are equal to men and should be so treated. Although the idea is obvious, both the UN and national governments have found it difficult to put into place.

5) The ecological balance of the world is in danger and needs remedial action. The ecological efforts of the UN began in 1971 and are enshrined in the “Covenant with Nature” – a text of equal importance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although not as well known.

6) There should be a Palestinian state. From the 1947 partition plan to today, this idea has been repeated. There is a broad consensus, but such a state has not been created. Without the constant discussion in the UN, the Israel-Palestine tensions would have become a bilateral issue of interest to few other states, as the issue of Kashmir, created at the same time, has faded from the UN stage to become an India-Pakistan issue.

There is now a seventh idea, increasingly articulated but not yet manifested in action. The idea is that there is a relationship between the goals of the UN — an idea often stressed by Kofi Annan during his period as Secretary-General: the need to accept or acknowledge the indivisible links between security, development, and human rights. “It is clear that security cannot be enjoyed without development, that development cannot be enjoyed without security, and neither can be enjoyed without respect for human rights.”

Many of us as NGO representatives have tried to push other ideas within the UN system, especially disarmament and improved techniques of conflict resolution, without success. Today, the UN has little impact on issues of violence, but no other organization does either. Thus we have violence and a good number of tension areas where greater violence may break out. Violence-reduction is probably the chief task facing the new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. There is little common ground on what can be done to reduce violence and settle conflicts peacefully. We must not underestimate the time and difficulty that it takes to build consensus within the UN, but I believe that violence-reduction (sometimes called peace) is the next “big idea” whose time has come to the UN.

Korean Nuclear Agreement

Postby Rene Wadlow » Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:32 pm

The Korean Peace Process : A Major Step Forward
Rene Wadlow

On 13 February, the six-State negotiations on the North Korean nuclear programme took a major step forward, but it is not yet the end of the road toward a Northeast Asian security zone. The diplomats of the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China, and the USA meeting in Beijing reached an intelligent compromise which decreases world-wide tensions on nuclear proliferation issues and opens the door to broader security negotiations for the two Koreas and their relations with China, Japan and the USA.

The compromise owes much to active Chinese diplomacy, a sign of an ever growing role of China in world politics. The active Chinese initiatives in setting up these negotiations are probably a reflection of new and younger Chinese leadership both in the top echelons and among the foreign policy administrators.

This new assertive diplomacy of China needs to be watched closely to see if it reflects a growing role in the United Nations and world politics in general. For the moment, China’s Korean policy is based on easily demonstrated national interest. China has a vital interest not to have trouble on its doorstep; not to have massive refugee flows from a disintegrating State and a disorganized society; not to have the USA and Japan active in its backyard, and not to give a pretext for the Japanese to develop nuclear weapons and to limit any nuclear aspirations on the part of Taiwan. Thus, the Chinese, motivated by specific national interests, were able to bring together the key States of the area, some motivated by the short-term nuclear crisis, others by longer-range aims.

The main outlines of the compromise were already set out in a 15 September 2005 text of broad principles leading to a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with security assurances and economic assistance – in particular energy and food – which North Korea needs. Over a year was lost through US Treasury Department sanctions on North Korean banking, especially through a Macau bank. While the banking issue is real — an effort to stop funds linked to the drug trade and counterfeiting — its importance fades quickly in the light of broader security concerns.

The 9 October 2006 nuclear test by North Korea indicated that security and non-proliferation, not banking abuse, were the real issues. Negotiations restarted on issues that were largely already settled, and a compromise was reached quickly considering that the talks had started in August 2003. Thus North Korea has agreed to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for food, fuel, and other aid from China, South Korea, Russia, and the USA. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will monitor to see that the conditions of the compromise are carried out.

The door is now open to wider security negotiations. Five working groups are to continue within the framework of the six-State negotiations. The working groups will deal with five key issues: denuclearization, normalization of USA-North Korean relations, normalization of Japan-North Korean relations, economic and energy cooperation, peace and security.

While the nuclear-weapon proliferation issue is likely to provide the steam for these six-State negotiations, it is important to have a broader view of security and cooperation in Northeast Asia. It is difficult to know what sort of confidence-building measures are worth proposing given the long length of time between setting out a proposal and a change in reality.

North Korea remains a closed society with a small leadership base. There is a lack of transparency and a lack of any public debate. The closed nature of North Korean society also creates uncertainty and fears among the other negotiators who have seen the terms of past agreements set aside. Inter-Korean peace building is complicated and requires a lessening of tensions, confidence-building measures and arms reduction.

There is a diplomatic adage that “the best way to solve an intractable problem is to enlarge it.” Thus, one approach is to move beyond the difficult six-State negotiations to the larger United Nations framework, especially as the new UN Secretary-General is a specialist of inter-Korean issues. The possible UN approach would be to sponsor a formal end to the 1951 – 1953 Korean War and so dismantle the present armistice arrangements. The Korean War had been fought under the authority of the UN, although in practice the USA called the shots. Thus the UN would be the proper forum to bring the war to an end and to sponsor a broader Northeast Asia security zone.
Rene Wadlow is the editor of and the representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of Association of World Citizens
Rene Wadlow
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A Nuclear-Age Philosophy

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:03 pm

David Krieger and Daisaku Ikeda
Choose Hope: Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age
(Santa Monica, CA: Middleway Press, 2001, 202pp.)

"Hope does not just occur. It is a conscious choice, an act of will. One must choose hope in the face of all we know…Hope makes change possible. It opens the door on a future that is generous and decent instead of simply a projection of the past" says David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation based in California and a long-time worker for a world order that prohibits war and weapons of mass destruction, that upholds human rights for all peoples everywhere and that holds leaders accountable under international law for crimes against humanity.

Ikeda agrees: "Today, we confront the need to turn human history away from its customary course of war and violence and toward peace and harmonious coexistence. One of the most important aspects of the task is the abolition of nuclear weapons." Daisaku Ikeda is president of Soka Gakhai International, a lay Buddhist movement in the Nichiren tradition. The two first leaders of Soka Gakhai had opposed Japanese war policies during the Second World War and had been imprisoned. In the late 1950s, Soka Gakhai became an important strand of the Japanese anti-nuclear weapons movement, a spiritual voice in a movement largely dominated by more politically motivated groups - "to use the spirit arising from the depths of life to struggle against all external restricting forces - violence, authority, financial power - that violate human dignity."

The book is written as a Socratic dialogue between the two, for both also agree that dialogue is a crucial path to peace. "Dialogue is the surest way to open each available pathway to peace. It is impossible to move the human mind without employing dialogue in which communication takes place at the deepest level of life" says Ikeda. David Krieger likewise adds "Dialogue is a way that probes and explores, a way from which hopefully both participants grow in their own understanding of the world. The world needs more dialogue, but dialogue that is aimed at action."

Thus we have a dialogue between two men who share a common three-point agenda:

1) There is a need for ecologically-sound development to "promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom" as the UN Charter presents it, with a special emphasis on those people mired in poverty. The Soka Gakhai has been particularly active in support of the "Earth Charter" - a comprehensive statement of ecologically-sound development.

2) There is a need for a growth of international law among states, for the rule of law and respect for human rights within states, and for improved mechanisms for dispute settlement. As Krieger has said "There are powerful forces at work against peace, driven by fear, greed, prejudice and hatred. Peace is not an end that we achieve but rather a process of building and being. In one sense peace means stopping wars from occurring. It also means building institutions that will allow for conflicts to be resolved without violence…Lasting peace itself will only be achieved by creating a fabric of institutional structures based on underlying attitudes supporting non-violent means of resolving conflicts."

3) There is an urgent need for abolishing nuclear weapons and for progressive disarmament of all weapons. Basically, this is a call to abolish war as a means to advance one's interests. In this technological age, a global equitable community, to which we all belong as world citizens, has become a vital necessity.

None of these ideas is new, and both participants make repeated references to the choices presented in the 1955 Bertrand Russell-Albert Einstein Manifesto "There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity and forget the rest."

There has been slow and uneven progress on this three-point agenda for world action:

The UN's "Millennium Declaration" of September 2000 has focused attention on ecologically-sound development and poverty eradication. There is a hope that these goals for poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and gender equality will galvanize disparate and sometimes competing development agendas and that monitoring mechanisms will be created.

Although there was a 1990-1999 UN Decade for Strengthening International Law, there has been relatively little progress in this field, apart from the creation of the International Criminal Court. The World Trade Organization works on universal trading rules, but many question the justness of the rules and the ideological framework on which they are based.

It is in the field of disarmament that there has been the least progress. As we see today, diplomatic efforts are concentrated on keeping such states as North Korea and Iran out of the "nuclear club" rather than on abolishing nuclear weapons from the nuclear-weapon holding states. Yet both nuclear and general disarmament are called for in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control."

Yet in the UN Conference on Disarmament, general disarmament has fallen off the intellectual agenda, and the governments have been unable even to build a framework for nuclear-weapons negotiations, much less start any negotiations.

Hopefully, non-governmental organizations can bring the conscience of the global community to bear on serious problems that transcend territorial boundaries. As David Krieger concludes "Eliminating nuclear weapons is a critical issue for democratic action. It is incumbent upon people everywhere to understand that they are responsible and that this issue cannot be delegated to political leadership. Leaders have to take responsible action, but political will arises from the people themselves…The world will change when the number of those united to seek a better world by non-violent means - with liberty, justice and dignity for all-reaches critical mass."

René Wadlow

Undermining Violence

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:08 pm

Adam Curle
To Tame the Hydra: Undermining the Culture of Violence
(Charlbury, UK: Jon Carpenter Publishing, 1999, 103pp.)

Adam Curle has set himself a difficult task: to take a symbol (the Hydra) from a classical Greek myth (the 12 labors of Heracles) in order to have readers understand the many-sided and inter-related nature of our global culture of violence. As P.D. Ouspensky notes in his In Search of the Miraculous (1949) "The aim of 'myths' and 'symbols' was to reach man's higher centres, to transmit to him ideas inaccessible to the intellect and to transmit them in such forms as would exclude the possibility of false interpretations. 'Myths' were destined for the higher emotional centre; 'symbols' for the higher thinking centre."

Because interdependence is the fundamental characteristic of the world society, interdependence must be recognized as the fundamental premise on which the transformation of a violent and unjust world society must be built. Curle stresses this in a prose-poem which he rightly titled "The First Lesson"

The most important lesson
But one that's seldom adequately learned
Is that, like sub-atomic particles,
Everything with life exists within a field of force
In which all affect and are affected
By each one of the others;
And that we, the individuals,
And all other individuals like
A blade of grass, whale or bacterium,
Are not self-existent, but the products,
Of this unceasing reciprocity.

When this interaction favours
Growth and fruitful change
We call it ecologically sound,
Understanding that death and demolition
Are part of the process
Of development -
Kali is goddess both of creation and destruction.

But when this interaction
Is impaired by false beliefs,
Illusions one might say, of personal
Supremacies and needs,
Elements within the field of force
May be eliminated
Or suffer deadly damage.

Through war, poverty imposed
By others greed, oppressive persecution
And gluttonous violations of the planet
Whole tribes, forests, civilizations, fish-filled seas,
Species, forms of art, religions,
Are annihilated.

The total field is then impoverished
And many lives
One might have thought quite separate
Are dismally affected;
Our choices are diminished,
The scope of evolution narrows down.

We best can counter this
By widening our vision of the truth
And acting in accordance with it.

When this consciousness of inter-relatedness is positive, when we feel that all - humans and nature - are evolving together to fulfill our potential, Curle uses the Indian and Tibetan symbol of Indra's net where each bead reflects every other. The net is woven of an infinite variety of gems, each with many facets. Each gem reflects every other gem, creating a many-colored web. Indra's web is the inter-relatedness of order. The image comes from the spider's web, which while highly intricate, can only take one form according to the nature of the spider and is built in the air. Curle writes "The boundaries between us are hallucinations, we are indeed members of one another, dancing together, spontaneously like the hadrons containing each other."

There is also a negative form of inter-relatedness whose symbol is the Hydra. Readers will recall that the Hydra who lived in a swamp, was relatively formless - or kept changing forms especially if one of her limbs was cut. She terrified the neighborhood. The Hydra is a water symbol, fluid, not yet formed, only its most fundamental traits are known. Curle uses the Hydra as symbolic of the as yet formless forces of globalization: the inter-relatedness of many currents - arms sales, drugs, prostitution, trafficking of persons - which have no logical link but that are increasingly associated - "the interwoven and increasingly interacting worldwide forces of economic, political and military power: a global culture of violence."

This inter-relatedness of negative currents is seen in violence and war. As Adam Curle said in a lecture "The Scope and Dilemmas of Peace Studies," " Many of the conditions associated with war continue throughout large areas of the world: people are driven from their homes, unjustly imprisoned, separated from their families, flung into detention camps, virtually enslaved, exploited by landlords, victimized by the police, oppressed by the government, starved and malnourished because of official neglect or official policies; they are humiliated and have their perceptions distorted by propaganda; many in fact die because of these conditions. Circumstances such as these inflict such damage on human life, health, capacity for creative and happy existence and work and for the development of potential, that I find it impossible to refer to them as peaceful: they inflict upon human beings, though in a less direct and concentrated form, many of the same destructive horrors as does war."

The question which Adam Curle poses is fundamental: how can globalization be transformed from the inter-relatedness of the Hydra to that of Indra's net? It is here that we must move through the symbol back to the myth. The Hydra symbol has stimulated our higher thinking centre. We now know at a deep level that patterns are inter-related and that it will not be easy to overcome the structures, attitudes, and policies of violent globalization. Thus we must also stimulate our higher emotional centre in order to find the energy and the intuition to carry out the necessary transformation.

From the myth, we recall that Hercules (Heracles in the Greek version) is a hero, a servant of the larger good but also 'everyman' going forth to the 12 gates of the Zodiac. Hercules is given gifts from the gods but not the knowledge of how to use them. Knowledge of the proper use of the gifts comes through their use in the 12 labors.

Hercules understood that the Hydra's strength came from the water of the swamp, and that by bending low - by becoming like water in the Taoist sense - he could lift her and hold her in the air where she would 'dry out' and loose her energy. A Taoist policy is to flow with the larger currents of life but also to transform them so that basic fundamental needs are met. Adam Curle sets out a 'Taoist' vision of taming the Hydra by a life of harmony and creativity. He sets out his goal with five words beginning with the letter S.

"The first is Sufficiency. This means that we have enough employment, nutritious food, adequate shelter, health care, education, family stability, etc to provide a strong physical and mental basis for the full development of our potential.

" Then Satisfaction, meaning that all these sufficiencies are provided in a pleasant fashion - for example, that the nutritious food is also tasty, that education is interesting and imaginatively stimulating, and that there is ample scope for enjoyable communal activities.

" Thirdly, Safety or Security, that is to say secure in the knowledge that there will be no war, no marauding warlords, no corrupt or unaccountable police, no death squads; more positively, that one can rely on the judicial system, that provision will be ensured for those suffering medical or financial crises beyond the range of family assistance.

"Next, Stimulus in the sense of encouragement and opportunity to follow personal talents and interests in work, art and other creative fields of study or sport.

" Lastly, Service. This particularly means the chance to take some role in the ordering of local, national, or international affairs."

Adam Curle presents a moving program for both inner and outer growth. It is only by such joint action that we can hope to transform the Hydra.

René Wadlow

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:48 am

Banning Cluster Bombs: Light in the Darkness of Conflicts
Rene Wadlow

In a remarkable combination of civil society pressure and leadership from a small number of progressive States, a strong ban on the use, manufacture, stocking cluster bombs was agreed to by 111 countries in Dublin, Ireland, on 30 May. All bright sunlight casts a dark shadow, and in this case the shadow is the fact that the major makers and users of cluster munitions were deliberately not there: USA, Russia, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan.

Yet as arms negotiations go, the cluster bomb ban has been swift. They began in Oslo, Norway in February 2007 and were thus often called the “Oslo Process.” The negotiations were a justified reaction to their wide use by Israel in Lebanon during the July-August 2006 conflict. The UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) working in southern Lebanon reported that their density there is higher than in Kosovo and Iraq, especially in built up areas, posing a constant threat to hundreds of thousands of people, as well as to UN peacemakers. It is estimated that one million cluster bombs were fired on south Lebanon during the 34 days of war, many during the last two days of war when a ceasefire was a real possibility. The Hezbollah militia also shot off rockets with cluster bombs into northern Israel.

Cluster munitions are warheads that scatter scores of smaller bombs. Many of these sub-munitions fail to detonate on impact, leaving them scattered on the ground, ready to kill and maim when disturbed or handled. Reports from humanitarian organizations and mine-clearing groups have shown that civilians make up the vast majority of the victims of cluster bombs, especially children attracted by their small size and often bright colors.

The failure rate of cluster munitions is high, ranging from 30 to 80 per cent. But “failure” may be the wrong word. They may, in fact, be designed to kill later. The large number of unexploded cluster bombs means that farm lands and forests cannot be used or used with great danger. Most people killed and wounded by cluster bombs in the 21 conflicts where they have been used are civilians, often young. Such persons often suffer severe injuries such as loss of limbs and loss of sight. It is difficult to resume work or schooling.

Discussions of a ban on cluster weapons had begun in 1979 during the ndegotiations in Geneva leading to the Convention on Prohibition on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects — the “1980 Inhumane Weapons Convention” to its friends.

The indiscriminate impact of cluster bombs was raised by the representative of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and myself with the support of the Swedish government. My NGO text of August 1979 for the citizens of the world on “Anti-Personnel Fragmentation Weapons” called for a ban based on the 1868 St Petersburg Declaration and recommended that “permanent verification and dispute-settlement procedures be established which may investigated all charges of the use of prohibited weapons whether in inter-State or internal conflicts, and that such a permanent body include a consultative committee of experts who could begin their work without a prior resolution of the UN Security Council.”

I was thanked for my efforts but left to understand that world citizens are not in the field of real politics and that I would do better to stick to pushing for a ban on napalm — photos of its use in Vietnam being still in the memory of many delegates. Governments always have difficulty focusing on more than one weapon at a time. Likewise for public pressure to build, there needs to be some stark visual reminders to draw attention and to evoke compassion.

Although cluster munitions were widely used in the Vietnam-Indochina war, they never received the media and thus the public attention of napalm. (1) The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research recently published a study on the continued destructive impact of cluster bombs in Laos noting that “The Lao People’s Democratic Republic has the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the world” (2). Cluster-bomb land clearance is still going on while the 1963-1973 war in Laos has largely faded from broader public memory.

The wide use by NATO forces in the Kosovo conflict again drew attention to the use of cluster bombs and unexploded ordnance. The ironic gap between the humanitarian aims given for the war and the continued killing by cluster bombs after the war was too wide not to notice. However, the difficulties of UN administration of Kosovo and of negotiating a “final status” soon overshadowed all other concerns. Likewise the use of cluster bombs in Iraq is overshadowed by the continuing conflict, sectarian violence, the role of the USA and Iran, and what shape Iraq will take after the withdrawal of US troops.

Thus, it was the indiscriminate use of cluster bombs against Lebanon in a particularly senseless and inconclusive war that has finally led to sustained efforts for a ban.

The ban on cluster bombs follows closely the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction which came into force in March 1999 and has been now ratified by 152 States. Many of the same NGOs active on anti-personnel mines were also the motors of the efforts on cluster bombs — a combination of disarmament and humanitarian groups.

States plan to sign officially the treaty in December in Oslo where the negotiations began. If the momentum can be kept up, parliaments should ratify the treaty quickly, and it could come into force by mid-2009. It is important to contact members of parliament indicating approval of the ban and asking for swift ratification. A more difficult task will be to convince those States addicted to cluster bombs: USA, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan. The ban may discourage their use by these States, but a signature by them would be an important sign of respect for international agreements and world law. Pressure must be kept up on those outside the law.

(1) See Eric Prokosch, who called attention to the range of weapons used in the Vietnam war in his Technology of Killing: A Military and Political History of Anti-personnel Weapons ( London: Zed Books, 1995)

(2) R. Cave, A. Lawson and A. Sherriff.Cluster Munitions in Albania and Lao PDR (Geneva: UN Institute for Disarmament Research, 2006)

Rene Wadlow is the Representative of the Association of World Citizens to the UN, Geneva, and the Editor of

Postby Rene_Wadlow » Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:11 am

Ten Years of the International Criminal Court: The Slow but Sure Growth of World Law
René Wadlow*

For nearly a half a century — almost as long as the United Nations has been in existence — the General Assembly has recognized the need to establish such a court to prosecute and punish persons responsible for crimes such as genocide. Many thought that the horrors of the Second World War — the camps, the cruelty, the exterminations, the Holocaust — could never happen again. And yet they have. In Cambodia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Rwanda. Our time — this decade even— has shown us that man’s capacity for evil knows no limits. Genocide is now a word of our time too, a heinous reality that calls for a historic response.
Koffi Annan, then UN Secretary-General

July 17 marks the 10th anniversary of the Diplomatic Conference in Rome that established the International Criminal Court — a major step in the creation of world law. Citizens of the world have usually made a distinction between international law as commonly understood and world law. International law has come to mean laws that regulate relations between States, with the International Court of Justice — the World Court in The Hague — as the supreme body of the international law system. The Internatiional Court of Justice is the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice that was established at the time of the League of Nations following the First World War. When the United Nations was formed in 1945, the World Court was re-established as the principal judicial organ of the UN. It is composed of 15 judges who are elected by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.

Only States may be parties in cases before the World Court. An individual cannot bring a case before the Court, nor can a company although many transnational companies are active at the world level. International agencies that are part of the UN system may request advisory opinions from the Court on legal questions arising from their activities but advisory opinions are advisory rather than binding.

Citizens of the world have tended to use the term “world law” in the sense that Wilfred Jenks, for many years the legal spirit of the International Labour Organization, used the term the common law of mankind: “By the common law of mankind is meant the law of an organized world community, contributed on the basis of States but discharging its community functions increasingly through a complex of international and regional institutions, guaranteeing rights to, and placing obligations upon, the individual citizen, and confronted with a wide range of economic, social and technological problems calling for uniform regulation on an international basis which represents a growing proportion of the subject-matter of the law.” It is especially the ‘rights and obligations’ of the individual person which is the common theme of world citizens.

The growth of world law has been closely related to the development of humanitarian law and to the violations of humanitarian law. It was Gustave Moynier, one of the founders of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a longtime president of the ICRC who presented in 1872 the first draft convention for the establishment of an international criminal court to punish violations of the first Red Cross standards on the humane treatment of the sick and injured in periods of war, the 1864 Geneva Convention. The Red Cross conventions are basically self-enforcing. “If you treat my prisoners of war well, I will treat yours the same way.” Governments were not willing to act on Moynier’s proposition, but Red Cross standards were often written into national laws.

The Red Cross Geneva conventions deal with the way individuals should be treated in time of war. They have been expanded to cover civil wars and prisoners of civil unrest. The second tradition of humanitarian law arises from the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and deals with the weapons of war and the way war is carried on. Most of the Hague rules, such as the prohibition against bombarding undefended towns or villages, have fallen by the side, but the Hague spirit of banning certain weapons continues in the ban on chemical weapons, land mines and soon, cluster weapons. However, although The Hague meetings made a codification of war crimes, no monitoring mechanisms or court for violations was set up.

After the First World War, Great Britain, France and Belgium accused the Central Powers, in particular Germany and Turkey of war atrocities such as the deportation of Belgian civilians to Germany for forced labor, executing civilians, the sinking of the Lusitania and the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman forces. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919 provided in articles 227-229 the legal right for the Allies to establish an international criminal court. The jurisdiction of the court would extend from common soldiers to military and government leaders. Article 227 deals specifically with Kaiser Wilhelm II, underlining the principle that all individuals to the highest level can be held accountable for their wartime actions. However, the USA opposed the creation of an international criminal court both on the basis of State sovereignty and on the basis that the German government had changed and that one must look to the future rather than the past.

The same issues arose after the Second World War with the creation of two military courts — the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Some have said that these tribunals were imposing ‘victors’ justice on their defeated enemies, Germany and Japan. There was no international trial for Italians as Italy had changed sides at an opportune time, and there were no prosecutions of Allied soldiers or commanders.

In the first years of the United Nations, there was a discussion of the creation of an international court. A Special Committee was set up to look into the issue. The Special Committee mad a report in 1950 just as the Korean War had broken out, marking a Cold War that would continue until 1990, basically preventing any modifications in the structure of the UN.

Thus, during the Cold War, while there were any number of candidates for a war crime tribunal, none was created. For the most part national courts rarely acted even after changes in government. From Stalin to Uganda’s Idi Amin to Cambodia’s Pol Pot, war criminals have lived out their lives in relative calm..

It was only at the end of the Cold War that advances were made. Ad hoc international criminal courts have been set up to try war crimes from former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Just as the Cold War was coming to an end, certain countries became concerned with international drug trafficking. Thus in 1989, Trinidad and Tobago proposed the establishment of an international court to deal with the drug trade. The proposal was passed on by the UN General Assembly to the International Law Commission, the UN’s expert body on international law. By 1993, the International Law Commission made a comprehensive report calling for a court able to deal with a wider range of issues than just drugs — basically what was called the three ‘core crimes’ of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

By the mid-1990s, a good number of governments started to worry about world trends and the breakdown of the international legal order. The break up of the federations of the USSR and Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, the breakdown of all government functions in Somalia, the continuing north-south civil war in Sudan — all pointed to the need for legal restraints on individuals. This was particularly true with the rise of non-State insurgencies. International law as law for relations among States was no longer adequate to deal with the large number on non-State actors.

By the mid-1990s, the door was open to the new concept of world law dealing with individuals, and the drafting of the statues of the International Criminal Court went quickly. There is still much to be done to develop the intellectual basis of world law and to create the institutions to structure it, but the International Criminal Court is an important milestone.

*Rene Wadlow is the Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens and the editor of the online journal of world politics and culture

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