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Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War

Dear Friends and Supporters of Article 9,  

We are pleased to send you our quarterly eNewsletter for January - March, 2014 with some information about the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War's recent activities and related developments, amidst intense debate on revising Japan's peace constitution.

In This Issue




In recent weeks, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has accelerated the pace of his efforts to change Japan’s security policy, notably by pushing forward with the re-interpretation of war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution, which comes in the way of Japan exercising the right to collective self-defense. He has also announced that defense expenditures will increase, for the second consecutive year, to about 5 trillion yen, and made significant moves towards relaxing the country’s longstanding arms-export ban. These moves have attracted much criticism from the Japanese public and political figures, even in Abe’s own camp, and abroad.

Advisory Panel
On February 21, the government-appointed Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security held a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. Outlining preliminary conclusions of the panel’s report, Deputy Chairman of the advisory panel Kitaoka Shinichi presented some of the recommendations that will be submitted to Prime Minister Abe in the final report.

Panel’s five conditions
Laying out circumstances that it considers would allow circumventing the restrictions imposed by Article 9, the panel lists five conditions deemed necessary for the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. Those are: 1) that a nation with close ties to Japan comes under attack; 2) that the nation under attack makes a clear request to Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense; 3) if operations necessitate to pass through the territory or territorial waters of third parties, those grant explicit permission for the same; 4) that Japanese security would be put in jeopardy if action were not taken; and 5) that the Cabinet obtains Diet approval (preferably before exercising the right, but if not possible beforehand, later approval would be acceptable too.)

In addition, the report will propose that parts of Article 9 be re-interpreted, notably the prohibition to use “the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Kitaoka said the panel would seek to change the meaning of the phrase, so far understood to mean all international disputes to signify “those in which Japan is involved”. The report will further call for relaxing restrictions on arms exports, and for Japanese forces in UN-led peacekeeping operations to be allowed to use force in a broader range of situations.

Constitutionalism in jeopardy
The advisory panel is scheduled to release its report in April. Abe has indicated that his Cabinet will then endorse the change of interpretation before June 22, when the current Diet session ends.

In his efforts to hasten the process, Abe has, on several occasions, suggested that he intends to go ahead with re-interpretation, be it in disregard of constitutional processes and lack of public and political support. He has further suggested he intends to reshuffle his Cabinet and Liberal Democratic Party leadership positions before then, presumably as a way to free his hands from those in place who oppose his move.

“Ultimately, the Cabinet will approve the reinterpretation,” Abe announced at a February 12 session of the Lower House Budget Committee. “And I am the one who is ultimately responsible for the Cabinet,” he controversially added.

Abe’s comments are not only ignoring the constitutional procedure outlined by Article 96 that requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet and must be ratified by a public referendum. It is also in complete disdain for years of Diet debate and successive opinions of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau that have over and again concluded that amending the constitution is necessary for Japan to engage in collective self-defense.

Facing much criticism from opposition and the media for these comments, Abe has later claimed he never intended to say that he, alone, has the power to make the final decision.

However, Abe and his administration seem nonetheless determined to go ahead with changing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution despite the lack of public and political support.

According to a nationwide telephone survey carried by Kyodo News on January 26, more than half of the respondents (53.8%) are against Japan exercising its right to collective self-defense, while only over a third (37.1%) favors it. Another survey, conducted by NHK on March 7-9 and published in the Wall Street Journal, indicates that 33% of those polled oppose Abe’s position to reinterpret the constitution to allow collective self-defense against 17% who approve it, with 43% undecided.

Echoing popular skepticism, a number of media, public and political figures, both in the opposition and within the ruling coalition, have publicly expressed their concerns – and in some cases even strong sense of disagreement – about moving forward with constitutional reinterpretation, as well as about the way Abe is handling it.

In an editorial, the popular Asahi Shimbun qualifies Abe’s rush toward collective self-defense as “unacceptable”, stating that “allowing Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense actually means making Article 9 a dead letter. It would undermine the foundation of Japan’s pacifism.”

A number of critical voices have come forward regarding the way Prime Minister Abe is pushing for the move. Among them, head of the LDP Upper House caucus Mizote Kensei criticized Abe’s advisory panel for “ appear[ing] set to reach an expected conclusion” and expressed concern that it “should not be taken as the government’s view.”

More generally, former Cabinet Legislation Bureau Director General Akiyama Osamu has cautioned that “if exercise of the right is allowed, it would set a precedent that would let those in power freely change interpretations of the Constitution.” He added: “The Constitution also contains such fundamental elements as respect for basic rights, freedom of expression and separation of state and religion. What is most worrisome is that administrations could move toward unilaterally changing the interpretation of such elements as well.”

Veteran LDP lawmaker Murakami Seiichiro even refered to one of the darkest time in history: "In the same way that the Nazis passed a law and twisted the Weimar Constitution, there is a danger that Japan could again tread a mistaken path."

For his part, Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Yanagisawa Kyoji warned: "Gaining the understanding of the public and going through the proper process (of amending the Constitution) is the basis of democracy", adding that "to ignore that for expediency's sake is tantamount to saying the public's good sense can't be trusted, that democracy has failed."

Other officials who added their voices in cautioning Abe include Justice Minister Tanigaki Sadakazu, Secretary-General of the ruling the Liberal Democratic Party Ishiba Shigeru, Chairman of the junior coalition party Komeito’s Diet Affairs Committee Urushibara Yoshio, LDP Lower House member Murakami Seiichiro, and Secretary General for the LDP caucus in the Upper House Waki Masashi, among others.

At the international level, the New York Times’ editorial board dedicated an unusually critical opinion piece on the issue. Entitled “War, Peace and the Law”, the piece accused Abe of “getting dangerously close to altering a cornerstone of the national Constitution through his own reinterpretation rather than by formal amendment” and qualified his methods of reflecting “an erroneous view of constitutionalism.”

Repercussions in East Asia
At an unusual informal LDP informal General Council meeting held on March 17, Lower House LDP member Noda Takeshi questioned: ““I wonder how Japan’s neighbors will look at the change?”

Indeed, in a tense regional climate referred to by Abe as similar to the one preceding World War I, Japan’s moves are raising alarms among its neighbours, who perceive a change in interpretation as yet another step towards remilitarisation of Japan.

As a matter of fact, China’s Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has already qualified Japan “a de facto trouble-maker harming regional peace and stability", while South Korea's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Cho Tai-young has called on Japan to conduct the debate over collective self-defense in a way that adheres to its peace constitution and addresses its neighbors' skepticism.

In an editorial, Japan Times confirms their assessment, writing that “Abe’s attempt will only increase tension in the region, thus worsening the security environment of Japan rather than improving it.”

“The changing security environment in Northeast Asia makes it all the more important for Japan to work out a diplomatic strategy based on the spirit of Article 9 that would allow it to work to reduce regional tensions. The basis of this effort should be strict self-restraint on the use of force and a firm determination not to provoke any nation,” concludes the piece.

Picture credit: Associated Press


On January 28-29, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held its second summit in Havana, Cuba

Founded in 2011, CELAC is a regional bloc of 33 Latin American and Caribbean states. A brainchild of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, CELAC has been created as a way to strengthen regional integration (with the exclusion of the US and Canada), establish a space for dialogue and political coordination, and serve as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS).

The Havana meeting, considered by many in the region as a “historic summit”, concluded with a series of commitments towards food security, access to free public education, universal public health, better job opportunities and land tenure, as instruments to reduce inequalities in one of the “most unequal region” of the world.

CELAC as a zone of peace
Significantly, participants in the summit also declared the region as a zone for peace
and restated their commitment towards nuclear disarmament.

In his opening statement, Raul Castro vowed to establish “a common political space, in which we make progresses towards the achievement of peace and the respect among our societies.” (Raul Castro in opening statement)

In the meeting’s 83-point final document referred to as the Havana declaration, CELAC heads of state or government “pledge[d] to continue working to consolidate Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone where differences among nations shall be settled through dialogue and negotiation or any other peaceful means in compliance with International Law”.

Qualifying peace as “a substantial element of Latin America and Caribbean integration and a principle and common value of the Community”, the document also reaffirmed that the process of regional “integration consolidates the vision of a fair International order based on the right to  peace  and  a  culture  of  peace,  which  excludes  the  use  of  force  and non-legitimate means of defense, such as weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in particular.”

In addition, in a separate statement declaring the region as a zone of peace, the States of the region reaffirmed their “permanent commitment to solve disputes through peaceful means with the aim of uprooting forever threat or use of force in our region.” They further pledged to use this Declaration to “guide themselves … in their International behavior”, including to “continue promoting nuclear disarmament as a priority objective and to contribute with general and complete disarmament, to foster the strengthening of confidence among nations”.

Existing Latin American peace pledges
Despite the fact that the region suffers a number of bilateral and internal conflicts, Latin America already has an impressive track-record in this area, with a number of its members’ constitutions making similar commitments. Notably:

  • Article 12 of the Costa Rican constitution (1948) abolishes the military;
  • Article 310 of the constitution of Panama (amended in 1994) declares that “Panama will not have a military army”;
  • Article 5 of the Ecuadorian constitution (2008) declares the country as a territory of peace" and prohibits the establishment of foreign "military bases or installations with military goals within its territory";
  • Article 10 of the Bolivian constitution (2009) proclaims the country as “a pacifist State, which promotes a culture of peace and the right to peace, as well as cooperation among peoples of the region and the world, in order to contribute to mutual understanding, equitable development and the promotion of interculturalism, with full respect for the sovereignty of states.” It further “rejects any war of aggression as a way of settling disputes and conflicts between states, and reserves the right to self-defense in case of aggression that compromises the independence and integrity of the state” and prohibits the installation of foreign military bases on Bolivian soil”;
  • The preamble of the Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) (2008) promotes a culture of peace and a world free of nuclear weapons

Costa Rica to chair CELAC’s in 2015
At the end of the summit, Cuba, which held CELAC’s rotating presidency, turned over to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has already announced its priorities, which include boosting the post-2015 development agenda and nuclear disarmament, among other issues. CELAC’s third summit will be held in January 2015 in San Jose.

Download CELAC’s Declaration of Havana here.

Read CELAC’s Proclamation of Latin America and Caribbean as a zone of peace here.

Picture credit: EFE


On February 13-14, the government of Mexico hosted the Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, with the participation of 146 governments from all regions of the world, as well as UN agencies, academics, former military officials, and civil society organizations.

The meeting, held in Nayarit, Mexico, is the latest event of a process that started at the 2010 NPT Review Conference and has since gained growing support. Although for obvious reasons nuclear weapon states have chosen to stay away from this initiative, the international debate on nuclear disarmament, which had traditionally focused on military and technical aspects, has been increasingly reframed in terms of humanitarian considerations, notably the human and environmental costs, as well as the humanitarian consequences that any use of nuclear weapons would have.

Following-up on the discussions started at the First International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo, Norway in March 2013, the Nayarit meeting was presented with further information, analysis and evidences of the catastrophic impact that a nuclear weapons detonation would have, notably on public health, food security, humanitarian assistance, economic and social infrastructures, the environment, and more.

Among the many interventions, four Hibakusha (survivors of the A-bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) gave personal testimonies of the disastrous humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Likewise, representatives from the Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine spoke of the sufferings and long-lasting effects their countries have endured following nuclear testings and the Chernobyl accident.

“It is time for action”
In light of this indisputable evidence of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and the incontrollable risk they pose, a majority of governments in Nayarit expressed interest in examining a new way forward. In their statements, a growing number of governments called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and in some instances even explicitly for a treaty banning them. “The broad-based and comprehensive discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons should lead to the commitment of states and civil society to reach new international standards and norms, through a legally binding instrument,” concluded the Mexican Chair of the meeting.

Indeed, the best way to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used is to eliminate them. As the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) put it in its closing statement: “History shows that legal prohibitions of weapon systems — their possession as well as their use — facilitate their elimination. Weapons that have been outlawed increasingly become seen as illegitimate. They lose their political status and, along with it, the money and resources for their production, modernisation, proliferation, and perpetuation.”

In his closing summary of the meeting, the Mexican chair declared: “time has come to initiate diplomatic process” towards the development of “new international standards and norms, through a legally binding instrument”. He further called for this process to conclude within a specific timeframe, suggesting the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as “the appropriate milestone to achieve our goal.”

Nayarit - a “point of no return”
The Chair described the event as “the point of no return”. And indeed, in most of the participants’ view, the meeting undeniably created a sense of momentum.

On the first day of the meeting, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz announced his country would host the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna later in the year, as a follow-up to this humanitarian initiative.

The Austrian announcement has been largely received positively, as it represents the concrete next step to move the process forward. As ICAN puts it, this “announcement signals a strong commitment to achieve real and tangible progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons.”

“Civil society has been clear from the beginning that the only reasonable conclusion from discussions on the impact of nuclear weapons is that they must be prohibited and eliminated. The Vienna meeting is the place for states to act on that conclusion,” ICAN’s Beatrice Fihn said.

For further resources about the meeting in Nayarit, visit Reaching Critical Will’s dedicated page here.

Picture credit: Los Alamos Study Group


Did you know that, in the last 40 years, more than 150 new constitutions have been created and every year, some 20 national constitutions are reformed or adopted? Yet, access to information about the complex process of designing a constitution are scarce and experience sharing among between practitioners is limited.

International peacebuilding organization Interpeace has put in place a Constitution- Making for Peace Program to develop tools and resources that will help international and national constitution-makers to improve the process constitution-making and provides technical assistance.

As a result of five years of intensive work, Interpeace has developed and made public a handbook, entitled ‘Constitution-making and Reform: Options for the Process’.

The handbook draws upon 30 different constitution processes over the last 40 years to highlight key stages in the process, including the role of a constitution, how a constitution contribute towards democracy and peace and how can civil society and other external actors play a positive role.

Drafted by constitutional experts, the handbook lays out the options to create a modern constitution that is legitimate in the eyes of the people and that has been developed through an inclusive process, in order to maximize chances that future constitutions provide strong foundation for lasting peace.

Download the handbook here.


Preparations are well under way for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) to be held on Monday, 14 April 2014.

In the USA, Tax Day actions will be held on 15 April and some groups will combine the GDAMS actions with those. In other places, activists are organizing actions on days preceding or following GDAMS.

Similarly, the themes featured by each group will vary according to domestic and regional political circumstances. Some groups are focusing on opposing the governments’ purchase of more war hardware: F-35 and Gripen fighter planes and drones; re-negotiating the Pentagon budget in the U.S.; calming the drumbeat on regional political tensions; resisting amendments to laws that would lead to militarism; demanding an end to military violence, and the ultimate goal of persuading governments to reallocate military expenditures to peace, sustainable development, environment (especially climate change and biodiversity loss),  social justice and green employment creation.

GDAMS’ Secretariat at IPB is in charge of coordinating and liaising among all those who want to get involved, including negotiating with SIPRI – as in previous years – a pre-view of the basic data which can be made available to partners one week ahead of time, subject to signing an agreement not to release it ahead of 14 April.

Information on planned events can be found in the world map of actions. For inspiration, you may find it fruitful to look at the Organizer’s Materials or have a look back at the regional actions done in the previous editions of GDAMS.

For more information and assistance, visit the GDAMS website here and contact the GDAMS Team at IPB.

Thank you for your interest in and support for the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War.


The Article 9 Team

Newsletter Editor:
Celine Nahory, International Coordinator
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War / Peace Boat

Our mailing address is:
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