Dear Friends and Supporters of Article 9,
We are pleased to send you some information about the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War's recent activities and related developments.
POTENTIAL CONFLICT AGAINST IRAN PROMPTS NEW ROUND OF DISCUSSIONS OVER JAPAN'S PEACE CONSTITUTION
As international pressure is mounting against Iran and Tehran threatens to cut off international access to the Strait of Hormuz, it has been revealed by public statements by senior officials that Japan is preparing for a potential military conflict over Iran's nuclear program and considering its possible involvement.
A conflict in the Persian Gulf would "affect Japanese national interests," said Japanese Prime Minister's Special Adviser for the Middle East Nagashima Akihisa, given that 20% of Japan's gas and 80% of its oil comes through the Strait of Hormuz, and that oil shipments from Iran represent 8.8% of the country's total energy imports.
On February 10, Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko said the Diet should consider dispatching Self-Defense Forces in case "something happened" to disrupt shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.
Some local conservative newspapers (such as the Sankei Shinbun) report that Japanese Self Defence Forces (SDF) are already preparing for the possibility of a blockade of the Strait, including considering the dispatch of Maritime Self Defence Forces' Aegis warships to escort Japanese-owned or operated gas and oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz.
According to some observers, these internal considerations come as an answer to US prompting for Japanese involvement in case of conflict. The weekly magazine The Tokyo Diplomat reports that "the day before Prime Minister Noda made his comments in the Diet, the US Pacific Commander Robert Willard instructed the Japanese government that they should consider sending the Self-Defense Forces to the Persian Gulf in the event of military conflict."
Article 9 of Japan's constitution prohibits the use of force and the dispatch of its land, sea or air forces abroad. However, in order to circumvent this clause, some special measures laws have been passed to govern SDF activities abroad in the context of anti-terrorism and anti-piracy operations.
Enacting a new special measure law is precisely what Nagashima suggested on March 5, so as to authorize the MSDF to escort Japanese gas and oil tankers through a blockaded Hormuz Strait. But as the Shingestsu News Agency observes, doing so would involve a serious risk of direct military conflict between Japan and Iran - a move that would violate the spirit of Japan's peace constitution.
Discussions regarding Japan's involvement in the event of a conflict over Iran's nuclear program take place at a time when the Liberal Democratic Party is pushing for a new round of discussions over revising the country's constitution.
The new draft - a revised version of the proposals put forward by the LDP in 2005 - will notably include a provision that would give the prime minister the authority to declare a state of emergency in cases of armed attack on the country, terrorism or massive natural disaster. Though the proposed text would conserve the war-renouncing first paragraph of Article 9, language would be added to ensure it could be interpreted more broadly so as to authorize collective self-defense. It would, however, get rid of the second sentence which prohibits the maintenance of armed forces and other war potential and the right to belligerency.
Internal LDP considerations of the proposals are set to take place in April.
A March 2012 poll conducted by the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun suggests an increased proportion of Japanese public opinion favors a more flexible role of Japan's SDF in foreign military operations, although a majority continues to support the ban on Japan's participation in conflict overseas. If 39% of those polled favor a revision of Article 9 (a 7% increase from last year), another 39% prefer "handling issues related to the article through interpretation and implementation," and 13% believes "Article 9 should be strictly interpreted to prevent Japan from participating in all foreign military operations."
The push for constitutional revision by opposition party the LDP is expected to face opposition from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan which controls the lower house of the Japanese Diet. It is unclear whether the ruling and opposition parties will be able to agree on a special measures law to secure Japan's shipping through the Persian Gulf, even in a post-Fukushima context that has increased the country's need for energy security.
GLOBAL CONFERENCE FOR A NUCLEAR FREE WORLD
On January 14-15, 2012, thousands of experts, activists, survivors and concerned citizens from Fukushima, Japan, and the world gathered in Yokohama, Japan to participate in the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World. Together, they discussed proposals both to assist the survivors of the March 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi Plant in their struggle for justice and to ensure that the world never has to suffer another nuclear tragedy.
Coordinated by an Organizing Committee comprised of six Japanese NGOs, including Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, FoE Japan, Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies and Peace Boat, the event was supported by a great number of endorsing organizations and corporations, and supporting organizations.
The conference promoted active participation. In addition to the officially planned program, more than 100 groups held self-organized events, including around 20 organizations from Fukushima, and several international groups including from Australia, Germany, Sweden and Taiwan.
The event was attended by a total of 11,500 participants, including 100 international participants from over 30 countries. In addition, the conference was broadcast live over the internet, with an audience of approximately 100,000.
One of the major outcomes of the conference was the adoption of the "Yokohama Declaration for a Nuclear Power Free World" that calls for:
1) Protection of the rights of those affected by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident;
2) Responsibility of the Japanese Government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO);
3) Minimization of residents' exposure to radiation;
4) A global road map for the phase out of the nuclear fuel cycle and the decommissioning of all nuclear power plants;
5) The permanent closure of those Japanese nuclear power plants currently shut-down;
6) The prohibition of export of nuclear power plants and components, especially to industrializing nations;
7) An emphasis on the role of local and municipal authorities;
and declares to develop a global network to support Fukushima.
Read the full text of the declaration in English here. Also available in Japanese, French, Italian, Arabic and Korean.
A Special Mayors' Forum was also held at the conference, joined by eight current and former mayors, including two from Fukushima. Here, the decision was taken to form a network of mayors to work to break free from nuclear power. Preparations for the network are now continuing, and it will be officially launched at an event in Tokyo on April 28, 2012.
Moreover, the "Declaration by Three Hundred Eleven Representatives for A Nuclear Free East Asia" - named after the date of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima disaster - was initiated at the conference. Signed by 311 notable public figures from Japan, Korea, China, East Asia and beyond, the document is a first step towards organizing a network in East Asia to break away from nuclear power and promote renewable energy in the region.
The 311 Declaration was officially announced on March 11, 2012 at an event marking the first anniversary entitled "Peace on Earth" in Tokyo.
Read the 311 Declaration here and view the list of signatories here.
The diverse proposals for action made by conference participants are being gathered on a web site entitled the "Forest of Action for a Nuclear Power Free World." These many proposals include a range of levels, from recommendations to governments to suggestions of what individuals can do, and this website provides a forum to develop concrete future actions.
Visit the Forest of Action for a Nuclear Power Free World here.
For more information about the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World, download a short report of the conference here or visit the official website here.
TIME IS RIGHT FOR THE HUMAN RIGHT TO PEACE
By Anwarul K. Chowdhury *
This piece was originally published in IDN-InDepth News on January 23, 2012
No time is more appropriate than now to build the culture of peace. No social responsibility is greater nor task more significant than that of securing peace on our planet on a sustainable foundation. Today's world with its complexities and challenges is becoming increasingly more interdependent and interconnected. The sheer magnitude of these requires all of us to work together. Recognition of the human right to peace by the international community, particularly the United Nations, will surely generate the inspiration in creating the much-needed culture of peace in each one of us.
Nearly thirteen years ago in 1998, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, a group of civil society organizations launched a global campaign for the recognition by all of the human right to peace. They declared, "We are convinced that after this century with its horrible wars, barbarism and crimes against humanity and human rights, it is high time for the 'Human Right to Peace' ".
They elaborated by underscoring that "the right to live is not applied in times of war - this contradiction and the undermining of the universality of human rights must be ended by the recognition of the human right to peace". They called upon all "to prevent violence, intolerance and injustice in our countries and societies in order to overcome the cult of war and to build a Culture of Peace".
Both objectives still remain elusive, unattained - human right to peace has not yet been fully, formally and directly recognized as well as efforts needed for advancing the culture of peace remain sidelined in the UN system.
The international community over the years has been endeavoring to establish the universality of peace and human rights. The United Nations, in its Charter, recognized peace as central to its existence and affirmed that it is both a prerequisite and a consequence of the full enjoyment of human rights by all.
The collective dimension of the human right to peace was codified in the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, as the responsibility to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war lies with the peoples.
The collective right of peoples to peace and security was also proclaimed by Article 23.1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights of 1981. Also, in 1984, the UN General Assembly proclaimed that "the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace"; and declared that "the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each State".
With regards to peace, the 1999 Conference of The Hague Appeal for Peace is worthy of mention, because it approved an ambitious political document entitled "Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century". The Agenda comprised four main appeals on disarmament and human security; prevention, resolution and transformation of violent conflicts; international humanitarian and human rights law and institutions; and the root causes of war/the culture of peace.
Since then civil society has assumed that peace, justice, development, disarmament and the respect for human rights are essential elements to build the culture of peace to challenge our current culture of violence.
Pioneering steps in this context were taken with the Istanbul Declaration, adopted in 1969 by the XXI International Red Cross Conference, which states that human beings have the right to enjoy lasting peace as well as with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution in 1976, which affirms that everyone has the right to live in conditions of peace and international security.
I am very proud to say that the civil society organizations have been the most forward-looking advocating for the recognition of human right to peace. The leadership role in this campaign has been played by the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law (SSIHRL). They adopted a landmark document in October 2006 titled the "Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace" that articulates a very forceful and comprehensive expose of the subject and hopes that it would be considered by the United Nations General Assembly "in the near future." Five years have passed in between.
A very valuable aspect of the Luarca Declaration is that it crafts all the various "elements of human right to peace" bringing together, in an effective manner, the universality, interdependence and indivisibility of human rights and the overriding need to achieve international social justice. It also affirmed very boldly and rightly that the effectiveness of the right to peace will not be achieved without the realisation of equal rights for men and women.
The recognition of "enabling" human rights, such as peace and development, is required to achieve a coordinated response on a worldwide scale to those threats to human rights arising from the global interdependence of all peoples and nations. Indeed, the prevailing condition of extreme poverty, hunger and disease in the world mean not only a clear violation of fundamental human rights, but also a real threat to millions of human beings.
The Luarca Declaration was further elaborated in the Bilbao Declaration that was subsequently reviewed by the International Drafting Committee - ten experts from five regions of the world - meeting in Barcelona which adopted on 2 June 2010 the Barcelona Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, thus providing international acknowledgment to the private codification process initiated in Luarca in 2006. I had the honor and pleasure of being the Chairman of that International Committee. The Barcelona Declaration got endorsed by the broad-based International Congress held in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Since 2007 the Human Rights Council is reaffirming the fundamental value of solidarity in global relations. The Millennium Declaration adopted by the United Nations in 2000 affirmed that "global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes costs and burdens fairly, in accordance with basic principles of equity and social justice, and that those who suffer, or who benefit least, deserve help from those who benefit most".
In the international community, there was also increasing recognition of what is being called ad the third generation of human rights closely linked to the fundamental value of solidarity - first generation being political and civil rights and the second being the economic, social and cultural rights. Nearly 1800 civil society organizations joined together to form in Geneva an alliance in support of the recognition of the human right to peace by the Council and ultimately by the UN General assembly.
Human right to peace
Addressing the arguments raised by the detractors of the proposal in relation to the allegedly vague content of the human right to peace, Canadian peace exponent Douglas Roche underscores that the human right to peace "is the product of a paradigm shift at the international level. Rights that focus solely on the relationship between the State and the individual are not sufficient in responding to a globalized world in which problems are no longer defined purely in national terms. The same global circuitry that fuels transportation, information, finance and organization has also increased the power of the arms trader, the warlord, the religious fanatic, the deranged political leader, the human trafficker and the terrorist. There is, thus, a technological burden with which the other two generations of human rights were never designed to cope, and the human right to peace is an attempt to respond to the perils of the modern interconnected world. Dismissing the human right to peace as vague and declaring that it offers nothing new is an exercise that misses the mark. The human right to peace is innovative and addresses a whole swathe of new and interconnected global challenges".
Although international law and politics acknowledge the prevailing interrelationship between human rights and peace, the recognition of the right to peace as an autonomous human right has not yet been achieved by the UN General Assembly. Nevertheless, I and like me many believe that the right to peace should be qualified as a right of solidarity.
The international solidarity requires international cooperation, union of interest and joint action in order to preserve not only the fabric and very survival of international society, but also to achieve the collective goals. All means used to achieve this global purpose are shared by the right to peace, because the "cooperation for the maintenance of international peace and security is an absolute necessity for the implementation of this right". Once the right to peace is established as a new human right, it would provide a solid basis to the culture of peace. Its recognition would also give fresh impetus to the struggle against violence and attitudes based on force, imposition and gender discrimination.
Culture of peace
Recalling Einstein's comment that "Peace cannot be kept by force ... it can only be achieved by understanding", my dear friend and colleague Federico Mayor, who has been a visionary leader of UNESCO, said, "we must understand today that if peace is the right of all people, then a culture of peace is the responsibility of all people". So profound and so appropriate!!
Promotion of peace needs to be understood not only in the passive sense of the absence of war, but also in the positive sense of creation of conditions of equity, gender and racial equality and social justice. Indeed, depriving people of their economic, social and cultural rights generates social injustice, marginalization and unrestrained exploitation. It follows that there exists a correlation between socio-economic inequalities and violence.
Thus, the realization of the right to development is vital to reduce any kind of internal or external violence within society. It is therefore necessary to reincorporate into the international agenda the issue of the right to peace, which had disappeared since the end of the Cold War. The United Nations should re-engage in the real sense in favour of solidarity, human rights, international cooperation, disarmament and peace as a whole.
As we step into the second decade of the 21st century, we could surely take lessons from our past in order to build a new and better tomorrow. One lesson learned is that to prevent history repeating itself - the values of non-violence, tolerance and democracy will have to be inculcated in every woman and man - children and adults alike. As former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace laureate Kofi Annan has said, "Over the years we have come to realize that it is not enough to send peacekeeping forces to separate warring parties. It is not enough to engage in peace-building efforts after societies have been ravaged by conflict. It is not enough to conduct preventive diplomacy. All of this is essential work, but we want enduring results. We need, in short, a culture of peace."
With that objective, a landmark decision was taken by the United Nations to adopt the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace in 1999. I had the honor of chairing the nine-month long negotiations for reaching consensus on this norm-setting document.
Peace is a prerequisite for human development. And peace cannot be achieved unless the mind is at peace. Peace is meaningful only when we have peace within and peace outside.
We should never forget the profound words incorporated in the UNESCO Constitution that "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." The flourishing of culture of peace will generate the mindset that is a prerequisite for the transition from force to reason, from conflict and violence to dialogue and peace.
No time is more appropriate than now to build the culture of peace. No social responsibility is greater nor task more significant than that of securing peace on our planet on a sustainable foundation. Today's world with its complexities and challenges is becoming increasingly more interdependent and interconnected. The sheer magnitude of these requires all of us to work together. Global efforts towards peace and reconciliation can only succeed with a collective approach built on trust, dialogue and collaboration. For that, we have to build a grand alliance for the culture of peace amongst all, particularly with the proactive involvement and participation of the communities.
In today's world, more so, the culture of peace should be seen as the essence of a new humanity, a new global civilization based on inner oneness and outer diversity.
Seed of peace exists in all of us. It must be nurtured, cared for and promoted by us all to flourish. Peace cannot be imposed from outside; it must be realized from within.
A key ingredient in building the culture of peace is education. Peace education needs to be accepted in all parts of the world, in all societies and countries as an essential element in creating culture of peace. The young of today deserves a radically different education - "one that does not glorify war but educates for peace, non-violence and global cooperation." They need the skills and knowledge to create and nurture peace for their individual selves as well as for the world they belong to.
All educational institutions need to offer opportunities that prepare the students to be responsible and productive citizens of the world and should introduce the teaching that builds the culture of peace.
We should not also be oblivious that non-violence can truly flourish when the world is free of poverty, hunger, discrimination, exclusion, intolerance and hatred - and when women and men can realize their highest potential and live a secure and fulfilling life.
Here let me underline a point very strongly that much of the dynamic progress towards culture of peace derives inspiration and hope from visions and actions of women who constitute half of the world population. Promotion of equality between women and men and equal participation of women in all decision-making are essential prerequisites to attaining sustainable peace.
As has been said, "For generations, women have served as peace educators, both in their families and in their societies. They have proved instrumental in building bridges rather than walls." I believe with all my conviction that when women are marginalized and their equality is not established in all spheres of human activity, neither the human right to peace is worthwhile, nor the culture of peace is possible.
Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury is former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations and at present, the Senior Special Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly. This Viewpoint is adapted from the speech Ambassador Chowdhury made on 25 September 2011 at the Platform Meeting at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
Picture's credit: United Nations
|APRIL 17: PARTICIPATE IN THE GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION ON MILITARY SPENDING (GDAMS) 2.0
On April 17, 2012, the second Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) will be held.
GDAMS will coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's (SIPRI) new annual figures on world military expenditures.
In 2010, global military spending surged to an all-time high of US $1.63 trillion - an increase by $100 billion, even at a time of economic crisis. Figures for 2011 will certainly not show any significant change in this upward trajectory.
Indeed, recent data already published by SIPRI reveal that over the last five years (2007-2011), the volume of worldwide arms transfers was 24% higher than in the preceding period, with the top five arms importers coming from Asia. Another recent study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) demonstrates that Asia spent 262 billion dollars on military expenditures in 2011, with China accounting for about a third of it.
Not only is this of particular concern, given that several conflicts continue to threaten to inflame the Asian region, including those between India and Pakistan, and the Cross-Straits and Korean Peninsula regions, to name but a few. It also raises questions about national and global priorities, given that India and Pakistan, which rank among the world's top weapons importers, are also among the countries that have the most pressing development needs.
However, in these times of global crises, there may be a window of opportunity to operate a change of priorities, not least thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement started in the US and the Idignado movement in Spain that have re-energized the people's call for social and economic justice worldwide. Some European countries have already reduced their defense spending, while the US is considering cuts in Pentagon spending.
In this context, people on all continents will join together in joint actions on April 17 for the second edition of GDAMS, to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities.
Last year, more than 100 GDAMS events took place in 35 countries. UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte strongly endorsed the initiative. Participating organizations produced videos, staged dramatic photo opportunities, and captured the attention of major media outlets.
This year, organizers expect to double the number of events and participating countries. And to put global military spending on the agenda of the international community.
While each location will craft its own approach, all actions will have a common focus on calling attention to the overall size of global military spending. This would need in most cases to be linked to a related national (or local) issue and reality, such as the war in Afghanistan, anti-bases efforts, arms trade deals, work against small arms, resources for nonviolent conflict resolution, the Global Article 9 Campaign etc. GDAMS organizers hope that peace groups will use this as an opportunity to connect up with anti-poverty, environmental, pro-democracy organizations and others who share the same perspective.
Read GDAMS 2.0's Call to Action here (available in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Russian and Arabic).
Check out the new video highlighting GDAMS 2011 and promoting GDAMS 2.0 here.
Visit GDAMS website for reports from last year's events, news and analyses, background information and more here.
Thank you for your interest in and support for the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War.
Celine Nahory, International Coordinator
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War / Peace Boat