Office to the United Nations - Geneva

World Citizens Welcome Serious Considerations of Federalist Government Structures for Ukraine, but Warn Against Simplified Concepts

In Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Europe, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace on April 16, 2014 at 2:22 PM


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The Association of World Citizens (AWC), in an April 14, 2014 message to the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), welcomed the serious consideration of federalist government structures for Ukraine being proposed both by the current President of Ukraine in an April 13 statement and by the authorities of the Russian Federation.

As Professor René Wadlow, President of the AWC, pointed out in the message, such proposals can have a positive impact to lessen the growing tensions both within Ukraine and among the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the European Union. The President recalled that World Citizens have always stressed that government structures should be as close as possible to the people so that their views can have a direct impact on government decisions. Federalist forms of government can facilitate the balance between the need for larger government units for policy making and units close to local communities so that those impacted are able to influence policy.

The current tensions, first within the Ukraine, followed by the change of status of Crimea and its integration into the Russian Federation, the massing of Russian troops on the Ukraine frontier with Russia, and the violent demonstrations within parts of Ukraine have created the most serious European tensions since the conflicts related to the breakup of the Yugoslav federation.

Efforts of both governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) must be undertaken to lessen tensions and to create opportunities for creative dialogue. Proposals for new governmental forms within Ukraine offer a possibility for such creative dialogue.

The current tensions in Ukraine highlight two crucial political and economic orientations possible for Ukraine. On one side, there is a growing but not clearly defined revival of an economic and strategic zone with the Russian Federation as the main motor. This possible “Eurasian Customs Union” could include Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and perhaps Moldova and Ukraine. Such a Eurasian association would probably develop into more than a common market. However, the full structure and tasks of such a Eurasian association have not been fully discussed publicly.

On the other side is the European Union (EU) with which Ukraine has already some treaty agreements. The refusal by the then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, to sign a more detailed plan of action with the EU was the reason or a pretext for the start of the massive demonstrations in Kiev.

The current situation in Ukraine does not lead itself to calm considerations of basic orientations or for compromises. Both the EU and Russian diplomacy will weigh in the Ukraine decisions, and the USA and Chinese diplomacy is not likely to be absent.

World Citizens who have a long history of reflection on federalist approaches, warn against simplified concepts in the Ukraine discussions. Federalism is not a first-step to the disintegration of the Ukraine. But it is not a “magic solution” either. Government structures are closely related to the aims which people wish to achieve. The aims of the Ukrainians are multiple. Dialogue and open discussion is needed so that these aims are seen more clearly and then structures created to facilitate these aims. Those outside Ukraine, both governments and NGOs must facilitate discussions of aims and structures so that common interests may be found and current tensions reduced.

Les Citoyens du Monde Refusent l’Expulsion de Jeunes Militants Égyptiens par la France

In Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Democracy, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa, Solidarity, World Law on March 28, 2014 at 7:25 PM

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L’Association of World Citizens, Organisation Non-Gouvernementale dotée du Statut Consultatif aux Nations Unies et accréditée auprès du Conseil des Droits de l’Homme, appelle le Gouvernement de la République française à honorer la tradition historique et constitutionnelle de la France en renonçant à toute poursuite, pénale ou administrative, contre les jeunes Egyptiens qui ont été arrêtés le 25 janvier dernier après avoir protesté pacifiquement devant l’Ambassade d’Egypte à Paris.

Depuis 1948 et les débuts de notre mouvement, nous, Citoyens du Monde, avons toujours œuvré pour le respect des Droits de l’Homme pour toutes et tous, au-delà de toutes les frontières, qu’elles soient nationales, politiques, religieuses ou autres.

Avant les révolutions arabes, le mot « frontière » était un symbole des régimes en place en Tunisie, en Egypte et ailleurs. Assumant un rôle de gardes-frontières pour des pays occidentaux qui n’étaient pas pressés d’accueillir des migrants en provenance d’Afrique du Nord, les régimes répressifs obligeaient souvent celles et ceux qui n’avaient d’autre choix que de fuir la misère, ou la persécution, souvent les deux, à « brûler » les frontières, à devenir ce que la langue arabe appelle « harraga », une personne qui « brûle » la frontière de son pays, et avec, toute sa vie passée.

Aujourd’hui, la décision des autorités françaises de renvoyer en Egypte des jeunes gens qui, ici en France, ne cherchaient qu’à faire usage de la liberté d’expression que consacrent tant la Constitution française que les engagements internationaux de la France en matière de Droits de l’Homme est incompréhensible. Nous voulons que les frontières ne soient pas des murs pour les migrants, mais pour ce qui est du respect des Droits de l’Homme, nous refusons que les frontières nationales ne s’ouvrent, comme c’est apparemment le cas ici, que pour laisser entrer la répression.

En voyant nos différentes structures – associations, syndicats, partis politiques et autres, unir ainsi leurs forces aujourd’hui, nous sommes certains que le Gouvernement de la France finira par nous entendre et par se montrer digne des valeurs de respect des normes universelles de Droits de l’Homme qui sont celles de ce pays, ces normes universelles qui, avec l’adoption de la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme au Palais de Chaillot, ont pris naissance en 1948 ici même, à Paris.

Professeur René WADLOW, Président

Bernard HENRY, Officier des Relations Extérieures du Bureau de Représentation auprès de l’ONU à Genève


World Citizens, Opposed to the Death Penalty, Question the Egyptian Government’s Sentencing to Death 528 People in a Mass Trial

In Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Uncategorized, World Law on March 25, 2014 at 5:51 PM

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In a March 26, 2014 message to the Acting President of Egypt and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prof. René Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens (AWC), stated that the mass trial of Muslim Brotherhood members accused of the murder of a police officer and terrorist acts during the August 2013 protests was an insult to the Spirit of Justice and a violation of the rule of law.

The AWC has repeatedly called upon governments to declare a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty – a penalty that extensive research has shown has little or no impact on the level of violent crime and too often opens the door to judicial errors and injustice.

The speed of the two-day trial during which defense lawyers were not able to develop their arguments is unprecedented and points to the political motivations of the current military-influenced Government.

There is a possibility to appeal the verdict, but the timing and modalities are unclear. There are some 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood supporters awaiting trial, and this trial in the Minya Criminal Count does not indicate a rule of law but rather of revenge and a desire to inspire fear of possible Government action.

The verdict now goes to Egypt’s Grand Mufti, a religious authority, for approval or rejection. It is not clear on what basis religious authorities review and make decisions on what are essentially secular trials. In practice, death sentences in Egypt are often handed down, but few have been carried out in recent years. The aims of the trials and the sentences are political: to show that death is a real possibility if one “steps out of line”.

Such a misuse of the court system undermines trust in the legal order and is in violation of the spirit and provisions of human rights law.

The AWC is devoted to the universal application of human rights law which includes fair trials and the right to adequate defense. Therefore, the AWC calls upon the Government of Egypt to revise this court case by a speedy appeal procedure and to see that the subsequent trials concerning Muslim Brotherhood members or supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi are carried out in conformity with established international norms.


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