Office to the United Nations - Geneva

Could the Use of Rockets Be Banned in the Middle East?

In Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Middle East & North Africa, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on August 1, 2014 at 8:50 PM


By René Wadlow


The use of rockets by Islamic groups from Gaza toward Israel and the more deadly use of rockets and bombs by Israeli forces toward Gaza have raised in a dramatic way the possibility of banning rocket use in the Middle East.

Arms control in the Middle East has always been difficult as there is no equivalent of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Middle East. The United Nations (UN) as a universal organization has difficulty dealing with security matters on a regional basis. There are UN regional bodies to deal with economic and social issues but not for security matters. Thus, discussions and negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program is an ad hoc grouping. Likewise, negotiations on a Middle East Nuclear-weapon Free Zone often proposed by UN General Assembly resolutions as well as agreed upon during the 5-year reviews of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has never advanced, though Finland had proposed to host a governmental conference on the issue.

There had been in the 1992-1995 period the creation of the Arms Control and Regional Security Working Group (ACRS) which grew from the Madrid “peace process” with 14 States. In the words of the then United States Secretary of State, James Baker, the agenda of the Working Group was to consider “a set of modest confidence-building or transparency measures covering notification of selected military-related activities and crisis-prevention communications. The purpose would be to lessen the prospects for incidents and miscalculations that could lead to heightened competition or even conflict”. The approach followed the pattern of NATO-Warsaw Pact discussions as part of what was then still the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The ACRS confidence-building and transparency measures were so modest as to have been unseen when they ended in 1996.

A rocket being fired by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to counter an incoming rocket attack from Gaza. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A rocket being fired by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to counter an incoming rocket attack from Gaza. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Arms control can succeed when they are part of a larger process that addresses the human, social and psychological elements that undermine security. The NATO-Warsaw Pact confidence-building measures took place as the first “winds of change” were blowing in Eastern Europe and there were subtle signs of change in the Soviet Union leading to the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

Unfortunately, confidence and security-building measures that would lead to missile control do not seem to be high on the current agendas of Middle East governments. With violence exploding, hopes for positive steps toward an Israeli-Palestinian accord in the near future seem dim. Some believe that regional arms control can only come after a comprehensive peace has been established in the region, to be followed by a state of peace among peoples beyond the terms of a formal peace agreement. Only then can there be an arms control process linked to confidence-building measures. In this approach, arms are seen as a result of political tensions, not the cause of political instability.

Thus, some feel that pressures to force premature disarmament in the absence of reliable alternative security structures will be seen as efforts to gain unilateral advantage rather than part of a broader approach towards co-operative security and stability.

No one will argue that the general political “climate” is not important to arms control efforts. However, a “one-weapon at a time approach” has had some success at the world level concerning chemical weapons, land mines, cluster bombs, as well as the small-arms trade. In nearly all the “one-weapon at a time approach” non-governmental organizations played an important role in raising the issue at the start and then building momentum once a few governments took an interest and provided leadership within government meetings.

Islamic Jihad rockets, ready to fire, in northern Gaza. (C) Flash90/File)

Islamic Jihad rockets, ready to fire, in northern Gaza. (C) Flash90/File

Thus, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) proposed in an 18 July 2014 message to the UN Secretary General and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States that serious consideration be given to a pledge by States as well as non-State actors such as Hamas to refuse to use rockets and missiles at any time.

The AWC’s proposal is based on the “no first use” pledges concerning the use of nuclear weapons − a commitment never under any circumstance to initiate a nuclear attack. This commitment has become an accepted international norm though few nuclear-weapon States have made such a pledge. The norm is re-stated in UN General Assembly Resolution 36/100 which states in its Preamble, “Any doctrine allowing the first use of nuclear weapons and any actions pushing the world toward a catastrophe are incompatible with human moral standards and the lofty ideals of the UN.”

The AWC’s proposal follows the pattern of the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, often called the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The Protocol bans the use, not the possession of poison gas so widely used during the 1914-1918 World War. The idea of inspection and the total destruction of stocks of chemical weapons came much later. It was the signature by Syria of the 1925 Geneva Protocol that led to the recent agreement by Syria to honor the no-use provisions and ultimately to have destroyed existing stocks under the provisions of the more recent Chemical Weapons Treaty which Syria signed as part of the recent agreement. However, it was the 1925 Geneva Protocol, as incomplete as it is, which “opened the door” to effective action.

Thus, efforts to eliminate stocks of rockets and missiles seem unlikely of success in the current context. However, a ban on use might be a real possibility and merits speedy consultations.


Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Lettre au Ministre des Affaires Etrangères de la République française

In Anticolonialism, Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on July 30, 2014 at 9:07 PM





The External Relations Desk



Monsieur Laurent FABIUS

Ministre des Affaires Etrangères de la République française

Ministère des Affaires Etrangères

37 Quai d’Orsay

75700 PARIS



Le 25 juillet 2014



Monsieur le Ministre,

En tant qu’Organisation Non-Gouvernementale dotée du Statut Consultatif auprès de l’ONU et active à ce titre au sein du Conseil des Droits de l’Homme, l’Association of World Citizens (ci-après, AWC) tient à vous exprimer sa plus vive préoccupation quant aux positions adoptées par la République française au sujet des actuels événements violents et tragiques au Proche-Orient.

Depuis que l’Etat d’Israël a lancé, à travers la Force de Défense israélienne (ci-après, Tsahal), une opération dénommée « Gardiens de nos Frères », en réaction à l’enlèvement et l’assassinat, non élucidés à ce jour, de trois jeunes Israéliens originaires des colonies le 12 juin dernier, complétée par une autre opération de Tsahal portant pour sa part le nom de « Bordure de protection », celle-ci en réponse aux tirs de roquettes depuis la Bande de Gaza, votre pays exprime des positions favorables au seul Etat d’Israël, cependant que la population civile palestinienne de Gaza en semble oubliée.

Autant l’AWC ne peut que partager la méfiance des autorités françaises quant aux manières de faire avérées et intentions probables du Mouvement de la Résistance islamique (ci-après, Hamas), lequel contrôle la Bande de Gaza depuis sept ans, autant, pour une organisation telle que la nôtre qui a toujours dénoncé les atteintes aux Droits de l’Homme et appelé au respect de la dignité humaine sans considération de frontières, pas même de celles séparant l’Etat hébreu du Hamas ou de l’Autorité palestinienne, cette position de la part de la France est purement et simplement incompréhensible.

En particulier, nous ne pouvons pas nous expliquer que la France ait choisi, lors du vote du 22 écoulé au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme d’une résolution sur le respect du droit international dans les Territoires palestiniens occupés, de s’abstenir. Sachant quelle est l’histoire de la France au Proche-Orient, notamment à quel point votre pays s’est souvent distingué comme un interlocuteur hors pair entre les uns et les autres des belligérants, nous y voyons une occasion manquée d’aider à affirmer le principe de justice internationale et de favoriser un retour à la recherche de la paix.

Ensuite, l’AWC ne peut qu’attirer votre attention sur le rôle que joue inéluctablement la France dans le bombardement de zones civiles dans la Bande de Gaza, de par son statut de cinquième exportateur mondial d’armement à l’Etat d’Israël.

Selon le Quinzième Rapport de l’Union européenne sur les Autorisations d’Exportation d’Armes, pour la seule année 2012, votre pays a délivré des autorisations d’exportations à Tel Aviv pour plus de 200 millions d’euros.

A ce jour, plus de cinq cents Palestiniens ont été tués dans des attaques par les forces israéliennes, la grande majorité d’entre eux étant des civils, dont des femmes et des enfants. Du côté de l’Etat d’Israël, deux civils ont été tués ainsi que dix-huit membres de Tsahal.

L’AWC entend vous rappeler, à cet égard, la déclaration de Madame Navi PILLAY, Haute Commissaire des Nations Unies pour les Droits de l’Homme, rappelant aux parties en conflit à Gaza l’obligation qui leur est faite de se conformer aux principes de distinction, de proportionnalité et de précaution des attaques afin d’éviter les dommages civils, les exhortant au surabondant à mener des enquêtes promptes, indépendantes et sérieuses sur les allégations de violation du droit international.

A cette fin, il incombe à chaque pays du monde, plus particulièrement encore aux Membres Permanents du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU, de prendre en compte toutes les souffrances causées par ce conflit et de manière juste, non l’une plutôt que l’autre, ainsi que de tarir à la source la possibilité pour l’une ou l’autre des deux parties de faire perdurer le conflit, bien entendu en termes d’armement.

Seul l’avènement d’un système viable de droit mondial peut fournir le cadre travail propre à la création d’une société mondiale qui soit tout à la fois juste et pacifique. En tant que Citoyens du Monde, nous travaillons au renforcement du droit mondial ainsi que de son acceptation, de son fonctionnement ainsi que d’un système d’observation et de sanctions ô combien nécessaire en pareil cas.

C’est pourquoi nous sommes certains que votre Gouvernement ne manquera pas d’entreprendre tous les efforts afin,

D’une part,

– de condamner publiquement et fermement les attaques menées par Israël à l’encontre des Palestiniens tout autant qu’il condamne, à juste titre, les tirs de roquettes sur Israël en provenance de la Bande de Gaza,

– de soutenir dans les faits, malgré le vote français au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme, la création par les Nations Unies d’une mission d’enquête internationale qui soit chargée de faire la lumière sur les violations du droit international humanitaire et du droit international des Droits de l’Homme commises par les différentes parties depuis le 12 juin 2014,

D’autre part,

– de suspendre immédiatement toutes les livraisons de matériel militaire à l’Etat d’Israël et toute autorisation d’exportation délivrée en ce sens,

– d’œuvrer au Conseil de Sécurité pour un embargo général sur les armes à destination d’Israël, du Hamas et des groupes armés palestiniens, avec obligation préalable à toute fin à celui-ci de voir éliminé tout risque substantiel de voir ces armes utilisées pour commettre ou faciliter des violations graves du droit international humanitaire et du droit international des Droits de l’Homme.

Nous vous remercions par avance de mettre ainsi la France en conformité avec les normes internationales de Droits de l’Homme telles que définies par l’ONU, et ce faisant de rendre à votre pays le statut particulier que lui a depuis toujours conféré l’histoire dans la défense de ces droits au Proche et Moyen-Orient.

Nous vous prions de croire, Monsieur le Ministre, en l’assurance de notre haute considération.


Prof. René Wadlow



Bernard Henry

Officier des Relations Extérieures


Cherifa Maaoui

Officier de Liaison

Afrique du Nord & Moyen-Orient


Noura Addad, Avocat

Officier juridique

Attack on Gaza: Letter to the President of the UN Security Council

In Anticolonialism, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Human Development, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on July 15, 2014 at 7:24 PM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --




July 14, 2014


H. E. Mr. Eugène-Richard Gasana

Ambassador, Permanent Representative

of the Republic of Rwanda

to the United Nations

President of the United Nations Security Council



The Association of World Citizens (AWC), a Nongovernmental Organization in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), has been concerned with the status of Gaza as well as the broader Israel-Palestine context.

The current manifestations of violence are part of a recurrent cycle of violence and counter-violence with which You are familiar.

The AWC believes that there must be a sharp break in this pattern of violence by creating institutions of security, development, and cooperation. Such a break requires more than the ceasefire proposed by the Security Council. The Association believes that longer-lasting measures must be undertaken that will allow new patterns of understanding and cooperation to be established.

In an earlier United Nations (UN) discussion of Gaza tensions, the AWC had proposed in a written statement to the Human Rights Council, “Human Rights in Gaza: Need for a Special Focus and Specific Policy Recommendations” (A/HRC/S-12/NGO-1, October 14, 2009; see attached copy) that a Gaza Development Authority be created – a transnational economic effort that would bring together the skills, knowledge and finance from Gaza, Israel, the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, and Egypt to create conditions which would facilitate the entry of other partners.

Our proposal was obviously inspired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of the “New Deal” in the USA. The TVA was a path-making measure to overcome the deep economic depression of the 1930s in the USA and the difficulties of cooperative action across state frontiers in the federal structure of the USA.

Today, the deep divisions in the Israel-Palestine area require more than economic measures – although economy and raising the standards of living remain important elements. Today, there should be a structure that provides security as well as economic advancement.

Therefore, the AWC would like to propose the creation of an International Temporary Transition Administration for Gaza that would promote security, stabilization, economic development, and institution building. Such a Transitional Administration would be limited in time from the start, perhaps five years.

Unlike the earlier UN Trusteeship agreements which followed upon the League of Nations mandate pattern, the Gaza Transitional Authority would welcome civil society cooperation from outside the area.

Such a Transitional Administration cannot be imposed. We believe that the Members of the Security Council can raise the possibility publicly, request a UN Secretariat study on what such a Transitional Administration would require, and encourage’ discussion among those most directly involved.

As Jean Monnet, one of the fathers of the European Common Market, had said, “Men take great decisions only when crisis stares them in the face.” We believe that the current violence is such a time of crisis. Our hope is that the Members of the Security Council are prepared to take great decisions.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of our highest consideration.


Prof. René Wadlow



Bernard Henry

External Relations Officer



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