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The Diplomacy of Women: Norms into Practice Needed

In Solidarity, Women's Rights, Conflict Resolution, The Search for Peace, United Nations, Being a World Citizen, NGOs, Track II on October 23, 2021 at 9:25 PM

By René Wadlow

On October 31, 2002, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1325 (2000) urging “Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.” Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was the first time that the UN Security Council acknowledged that women play a key role in promoting sustainable peace and stressed the participation of women in peace processes from the prevention of conflict, to negotiations, to postwar reconstruction and reconciliation.

Work for such a resolution in the Security Council had begun at least five years earlier at the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women with its Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and especially at the nongovernmental forum which had been held just outside Beijing, where peacemaking was an important theme. It was thought that a resolution by the UN Security Council would have the most impact since the Security Council rarely discussed social issues. There had been numerous resolutions of the UN Economic and Social Council or the UN Commission on Human Rights dealing with the equality and importance of women. However, such resolutions had had limited impact on national governments’ policy or UN agencies. A UN Security Council resolution would get more attention and indicate a link between the security of States — the chief mandate of the Security Council — and what was increasingly called ‘human security’, that is, the security of people.

It was important to find the balance between calling attention to the special needs of women and children in times of conflict and yet not to reinforce the stereotype of women as victims only. Thus, there was a need to stress the important positive role that women play as peacebuilders and their potential role in peace processes and negotiations.

Resolution 1325 is an important building tool for the role of women in peacemaking. The resolution, by itself, has not changed things radically. There are still few women at the table when serious peace negotiations or reconstruction planning is undertaken. In fact, there are relatively few formal peace negotiations to help resolve armed conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya. The UN has provided mediators, but the armed groups are not speaking to each other at least not in public. For the moment, the best that can be done is to help create an atmosphere in which negotiations would be possible. Here women already play an active role, but more needs to be done. Resolution 1325 sets out the guidelines, and now NGOs, governments, and UN agencies can work to transform these guidelines and norms into practice.

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

October 16, World Food Day: Ecologically-Sound Development

In Being a World Citizen, Environmental protection, Human Rights, Social Rights, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on October 16, 2021 at 2:01 PM

By René Wadlow

Since the hungry billion in the world community believe that we can all eat if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust that some men die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live.
Stringfellow Barr, Citizens of the World (1954)

World Food Day was set by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly for October 16, the date of the creation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome in 1945 building on a Food Institute in Rome which had been Part of the League of Nations network. The Preamble of the FAO Constitution states, “determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action for the purpose of raising levels of nutrition and standards of living”. The Constitution stresses as one of its aims “contributing towards an expanding world economy and ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger.” To achieve freedom from hunger for humanity, there is a need to eliminate poverty. The elimination of poverty must draw upon the ideas, skills and energies of whole societies and requires the cooperation of all States.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030) aims by 2030 to “Double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets, and non-farm resources.”

Yet as Lester Brown, the U. S. agricultural specialist, has written,

“We are cutting trees faster than they can be regenerated, overgrazing range lands and converting them into deserts, over-pumping aquifers, and draining rivers dry. On our crop lands, soil erosion exceeds new soil formation, slowly depriving the soil of its inherent fertility. We are taking fish from the oceans faster than they can reproduce.”

To counter these trends, we need awareness and vision which has living in harmony with Nature at its heart. Thus, we need political and social leadership to bring about the socio-economic changes needed.

There is a consensus that strong measures are needed to deal with worldwide growing food needs. These measures must be taken in a coordinated way with actions going from the local level of the individual farmer to the national level with new government policies to the world level with better coordinated activities through the UN System.

A central theme which citizens of the world have long stressed is that there needs to be a world food policy and that a world food policy is more than the sum of national food security programs. While the adoption of a national strategy to ensure food and nutrition security for all is essential, a focus on the formulation of national plans is clearly inadequate. There is a need for a world plan of action with focused attention to the role which the UN system must play if hunger is to be sharply reduced.

There is also a need to keep in mind local issues of food production, distribution, and food security. Attention needs to be given to cultural factors, the division of labor between women and men in agriculture and rural development, in marketing local food products, to the role of small farmers, to the role of landless agricultural labor and to land-holding patterns.

Fortunately, there is a growing awareness that an integrated, comprehensive approach is needed. World Citizens stress that solutions to poverty, hunger and climate change crisis require an agriculture that promotes producers’ livelihoods, knowledge, resiliency, health, and equitable gender relations, while enriching the natural environment and helping balance the carbon cycle. Such an integrated approach is a fundamental aspect of the world citizen approach to a solid world food policy.

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

Current Searches for Appropriate Forms of Government

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law, Yemen on October 8, 2021 at 6:52 PM

By René Wadlow

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) strives to respond to situations in this turbulent and frequently violent world by making proposals for the resolution of armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith and by making proposals for developing appropriate forms of government, often based on con-federalism, decentralization, and trans-frontier cooperation. A current focus is on the situations in Yemen (1) and Somalia. (2)

In March 2015, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia attacked Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, held by a rebel force, the Ansar Allah Movement, commonly called the Houthis. Since that date, the armed conflict has continued, destroying the fragile economy, displacing a large number of persons, creating a humanitarian tragedy. So far, all mediation efforts have failed. The situation becomes more complex each day due in part to the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The state of Yemen was the creation of two separate units. One was the southern part originally known as the Aden Colony and the Eastern and Western Aden Protectorates under British rule. The northern part of the country had been under Ottoman rule until the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. From 1918 until 1962, it was ruled by Imams. In 1962, there was a military coup organized by officers who had been trained in Egypt and were influenced by Nasser’s views on Arab nationalism. The coup was followed by an eight-year-long civil war between the military forces called “republicans” and the forces of the Imam Bader. The republicans won, but the government was weak and unstable.

The south of the country after the British left took the name of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. In 1990, the two segments of Yemen were united, and the Republic of Yemen was established. However, the euphoria which had existed at the start was short-lived. The people in the south had been promised that their lives would be bettered after unification. Life did not improve, and many in the south felt marginalized. Today, there is a strong sentiment in the south for separation and independence.

When the fighting in Yemen stops, the creation of appropriate forms of government will have to be found. The return to two separate states presents real difficulties as people have moved from their original home areas due to changing economic conditions and to the armed conflict. Yet a single centralized government also seems impossible. As Martin Dent points out, where there is strong identity politics, there must be forms of government that fill the gap between unity and independence. (3) There is a need for Track II efforts to discuss possible structures of government in Yemen.

In Somalia, we have very similar conditions. The two Somali colonial areas, one under the control of Britain and the other under that of Italy were combined into one state in 1961. There had been a period of United Nations (UN) trusteeship after the end of the Second World War when the area of Italian colonial status had ended and before the two colonial territories were united. The political culture of the two territories was different. This impact of the colonial legacy was an element leading to the current situation. In January 1991, the military government of Siyad Barre was overthrown, and now different parts of the country demand independence, in particular Somaliland and Puntland, though their boundary claims overlap.

In addition to regional demands for independence, there is an armed Islamist movement, Al-Shabaab, which poses regional and international security issues which continue. Mediation efforts by the UN have not progressed. Again, Track II efforts may be helpful to find governmental structures able to provide autonomy without dividing the Somalia state into three or more independent states. (4) The Association of World Citizens stresses the need for creative thinking on the structure of a state, on the need for regional cooperation and a willingness to negotiate in good faith.

Notes

(1) Helen Lackner, Yemen in Crisis: Autocracy, Neo-Liberalism and the Disintegration of a State (London: Saqi Books, 2017, 330 pp.)

(2) Sarah G. Phillips, When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020, 227 pp.)

(3) Martin J. Dent, Identity Politics: Filling the Gap Between Federalism and Independence (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004, 232 pp.)

(4) Hurst Hannum, Autonomy, Sovereignty and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990, 503 pp.)

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

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