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International Day of Friendship

In Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Development, Human Rights, United Nations on July 30, 2015 at 7:23 PM

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FRIENDSHIP

By Rene Wadlow

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly established in 2011 July 30 as the International Day of Friendship. The Day was to be a continuation of the themes of dialogue and mutual understanding proposed in the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). I had been active in getting the General Assembly resolution voted, building on the earlier Year of the Culture of Peace. My effort, backed by UNESCO which had been at the start of the concept of a “culture of peace”, was to add the word “nonviolence” to make the concept still clearer. Then, some of us wanted a focus on children because who can be against doing things for the benefit of children. It turned out during the negotiations prior to the introduction of the resolution that the UK and the USA were against the whole concept but were pushing the idea that “we are already doing enough for children by supporting UNICEF”.

Finally, in light of wide support for having such a Decade, the UK and the USA backed off although they had made a strong try to get “nonviolence” out of the title. There was still some debate as to the wording of the Decade. A colleague in New York called me in Geneva about the debate over the title. I replied that “the title was too long for public relations reasons, but it was not up to NGO representatives to suggest cuts. Let the governments do as they want for the title as long as they vote the resolution by consensus.” The governments kept all the words, voted the resolution by consensus and then did very little else. Both peace and nonviolence did not standout strongly during the 2001-2010 decade.

At the end of the Decade, there was a need to continue the spirit, and “friendship” could be seen to combine peace and nonviolence. Thus we now have a yearly International Day of Friendship.

The idea of an International Day of Friendship had been first developed in the 1930s in the USA by the president of a well-known company which made Christmas cards, Birthday cards, and cards to send on Mother’s Day. He suggested that everyone send cards to their friends and even people they did not know indicating the joys of friendship and the need to keep ties active and strong.

For a few years, there was a certain active interest, but then it looked too much like a commercial venture for his company to sell cards. In the middle of the summer, there were no other Days to celebrate, so a Day of Friendship could be a form of sales promotion. By the end of the 1930s and the start of the Second World War, the idea of an International Day of Friendship celebrated by sending cards had disappeared.

Now, however, we live in a different period of time than in the 1930s. Although there are still many world tensions and local wars as in the Middle East, the idea of friendship among all the peoples of the world could become a real force for cooperation.

Emails and the Internet can spread the idea that friendship is the basis of freedom in the world as it elevates the spirit. Friendship is as a ray of light coming from the burning core of the soul. Friendship can be a kind of love, a happy feeling when sharing a secret.

Paper still has its uses, and one can write a short text on the importance of friendship within the family, the school, neighborhood, nation and the world and send it to friends known and not yet known. 30 July, a day to renew and deepen friendships.

Prof. René Wadlow is President and Chief Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.

UN Fact-finding Report: The Yazidis of Iraq

In Children's Rights, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Democracy, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, Solidarity on March 21, 2015 at 9:17 PM

UN FACT-FINDING REPORT: THE YAZIDIS OF IRAQ

By René Wadlow

On Thursday, March 19, 2015, the United Nations (UN) investigative team on human rights violations in Iraq led by Ms. Suki Nagra raised accusations of genocide and war crimes against the Islamic State (ISIS) citing evidence that ISIS sought to “destroy the Yazidi as a group” − the definition of genocide in the 1948 Genocide Convention which has become a core element of World Law. The fact-finding group of members of the Secretariat of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had been established by a Special Session of the Human Rights Council in September 2014. (See article ‘World Law Advanced by UN Special Session of the Human Rights Council on Human Rights Violations in Iraq’)

The report to the current session of the Human Rights Council included testimony from Yazidi men who had survived massacres by shielding themselves behind the bodies of men who had already been killed. “It was quite clear that attacks against them were not just spontaneous or happened out of the blue; they were clearly orchestrated. Witnesses consistently reported that orders were coming through, by telephone in many cases, about what to do with them. There was a clear chain of command”.  Ms. Nagra reported to the Human Rights Council. (On the Yazidis as a religious community, see the article ‘Iraq: Yazidis’ Genocide?’)

The report also detailed evidence that Yazidi women and girls were abducted and sold into slavery as spoils of war in violation of some of the oldest standards of world law against slavery developed by the League of Nations and continued by the UN. There were also repeated cases of rape. The use of rape as a weapon of war has become of increasing concern to both the UN human rights bodies and to NGOs.

As the Association of World Citizens’ (AWC) written Statement to the Iraq Special Session stressed, “The Association of World Citizens believes that world law as developed by the United Nations applies not only to the governments of Member States but also to individuals and non-governmental organizations. The ISIS has not been recognized as a State and is not a member of the UN. Nevertheless, the Association of World Citizens is convinced that the terms of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief adopted by the General Assembly on 25 November 1981 applies to the ISIS.”

Citizens of the World stress the need for world law and certain common values among all the States and peoples of the world. We are one humanity with a shared destiny. The challenge before us requires inclusive ethical values. Such values must be based on a sense of common responsibility for both present and future generations.

Prof. René Wadlow is President and Chief Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.

POUR UN NOUVEL ANTI-ESCLAVAGISME

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, United Nations, War Crimes, Women's Rights on February 10, 2015 at 12:10 AM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

L’Association of World Citizens

dit

L’ESCLAVAGE,

PLUS JAMAIS CA !

  1. L’esclavage est IMMORAL,
  2. L’esclavage est CONTRAIRE AU DROIT MONDIAL,
  3. L’esclavage doit être VAINCU SANS RECOURIR A LA GUERRE.

L’asservissement, la vente tel du bétail, et le mariage forcé de femmes et de jeunes filles par l’ « Etat islamique » (Daesh) dans les zones de l’Irak et de la Syrie qu’il a soumises par la barbarie, ainsi que par Boko Haram dans le nord-est du Nigéria, appellent une réaction concertée, notamment dans la mesure où cette pratique risque de s’étendre à d’autres zones telles que le nord du Cameroun et du Niger si l’influence de Boko Haram continue de croître.

C’est pourquoi l’Association of World Citizens appelle à un effort aussi vaste que possible en direction d’un Nouveau Mouvement Anti-Esclavagiste, rappelant à cette fin la devise du Libérateur (1831-1865) de William Lloyd Garrison, «Notre pays, c’est le Monde, et tous les êtres humains sont nos compatriotes».

Aux Etats-Unis, l’abolition de l’esclavage ne fut qu’un aspect de la sanglante Guerre de Sécession qui n’a produit que de l’amertume et n’a eu d’influence sur les relations interraciales que négative. En France, une première abolition de l’esclavage dans la fureur guerrière de la Révolution n’a abouti qu’à son rétablissement sous un Premier Empire qui s’est montré tout aussi guerrier, l’abolition définitive n’étant venue, avec Victor Schoelcher, que lorsque les canons se furent enfin tus. C’est pourquoi nous croyons fermement que l’esclavage tel que le pratiquent Daesh et Boko Haram doit être vaincu sans qu’il y ait pour cela recours à une guerre.

A travers les frappes aériennes en cours contre Daesh et l’action militaire kurde pour enrayer les atrocités de ce dernier, les tambours de la guerre se font pourtant d’ores et déjà entendre. Les troupes tchadiennes et camerounaises se sont jointes aux forces armées nigérianes pour empêcher Boko Haram de nuire plus avant, ce qui ne fera toutefois qu’ajouter encore au conflit armé déjà violent dans la région. Des armées peuvent vaincre d’autres armées, mais comme le rappelle l’Acte constitutif de l’UNESCO, «Les guerres prenant naissance dans l’esprit des hommes, c’est dans l’esprit des hommes que doivent être élevées les défenses de la paix».

Nous croyons donc que la réponse au problème doit venir d’un mouvement social et populaire issu des sociétés irakienne, syrienne et nigériane, qui reconnaissent toutes que l’esclavage est immoral et constitue une violation du droit mondial. La prohibition de l’esclavage est un élément crucial du droit mondial, au sein duquel elle s’est manifestée historiquement tant par les interdictions du trafic d’esclaves au dix-neuvième siècle, obtenues grâce au combat du Mouvement Anti-Esclavagiste de l’époque, que par celles édictées plus tard par la Société des Nations et enfin par l’action des Nations Unies depuis leur création en 1945.

Aujourd’hui, c’est d’un Nouveau Mouvement Anti-Esclavagiste que nous avons besoin, afin d’en appeler à toutes celles et tous ceux qui, au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique, peuvent et veulent nous rejoindre pour réaffirmer et renforcer le respect de la dignité humaine, en particulier des femmes et des jeunes filles, ainsi que le respect des droits des minorités religieuses quelles qu’elles soient.

REJOIGNEZ-NOUS DANS CE COMBAT!

THE NEW ABOLITIONISTS

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, United Nations, War Crimes, Women's Rights, World Law on February 9, 2015 at 11:19 PM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

The Association of World Citizens

says

 NO TO SLAVERY!

  1. Slavery is IMMORAL,
  2. Slavery is BANNED BY WORLD LAW,
  3. Slavery must be OVERCOME WITHOUT RESORT TO WAR.

The enslavement, sale, and forced marriage of women and girls by the Islamic State (ISIS) in parts of Iraq-Syria and by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria calls for concerted action, especially as the practice may spread to other areas such as northern Cameroon and Niger if the influence of Boko Haram grows.

Therefore, the Association of World Citizens calls for a broad effort of a New Abolitionist Movement, recalling the motto of The Liberator (1831-1865) of William Lloyd Garrison “Our country is the world; our countrymen are all mankind.”

As slavery was abolished in the United States only as an aspect of a bloody civil war which left long bitterness and influenced race relations negatively, we believe that slavery in ISIS and Boko Haram-held areas must be overcome without recourse to a war. The signs of war are already present in air strikes on ISIS positions and Kurdish military action. The joining of troops from Chad and Cameroon to Nigerian forces to combat Boko Haram can also lead to increased armed conflict.

Rather, we believe that reform must come from within Iraqi, Syrian and Nigerian society which recognizes that slavery is immoral and a violation of world law. The banning of slavery is a core element of world law: the unilateral bans on the slave trade of the nineteenth century in response to the efforts of the Abolitionist Movements, the League of Nations bans, and the continuing efforts of the United Nations.

Today, a New Abolitionist Movement is needed to reach out to those in the wider Middle East and Africa to join in strengthening respect for human dignity, respect of women and girls and respect of religious minorities.

JOIN US IN THIS COMMON CAUSE!

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

awc-un-geneva-logo

ASSOCIATION OF WORLD CITIZENS

ASSOCIATION DES CITOYENS DU MONDE

 

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

Président

 

Bernard Henry

Officier des Relations Extérieures

 

Cherifa Maaoui

Officier de Liaison

Afrique du Nord & Moyen-Orient

 

Noura Addad, Avocat

Officier juridique

Liberating the Young Women Kidnapped by Boko Haram

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Rights, Solidarity, War Crimes, Women's Rights, World Law on May 12, 2014 at 1:53 PM

LIBERATING THE YOUNG WOMEN KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM

By René Wadlow

 

Citizens of the World, motivated by the spirit of compassion symbolized by Kuan Yin appeal to the members of Boko Haram to return the young women taken from the girls’ school in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria.

The actions of Boko Haram undermine the efforts of local and national educational services in Nigeria to overcome the persistent poverty and lack of development in northern Nigeria.

Although the name of the armed group which carried out the kidnapping can be roughly translated as “Western Education is Unlawful” of forbidden, its members know full well that education is neither “Western” or “Southern” but is an effort to train individuals to meet the challenges of life and to develop their full potential as persons. The members of Boko Haram know that education is a crucial need for the development of northern Nigeria and that the education of women is necessary for progress.

Kuan Yin is the bodhisattva (the "compassionate one") associated with compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists, usually as a female. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means "Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World." (Source: Wikipedia)

Kuan Yin (or Guanyin) is the bodhisattva (the “compassionate one”) associated with compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists, usually as a female. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World.” ((c) Wikipedia)

We are sure that many members of the Boko Haram group understand that their actions are morally wrong as well as unlawful under Nigerian law and in violation of the universally-recognized standards of human rights. Thus they will act to return the young women to their home area.

Armed violence will destroy the efforts being made to meet basic needs and to improve the standard of living of all in northern Nigeria. A spirit of compassion should motivate members of Boko Haram to return the young women to their families and to find nonviolent ways to better the lives of all in northern Nigeria.

 

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

Let My Children Go: World Efforts to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In Children's Rights, Human Development, Human Rights, Solidarity, World Law on June 11, 2011 at 11:52 PM

LET MY CHILDREN GO:

WORLD EFFORTS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR

By René Wadlow

 

June 12 is a red letter day on the United Nations (UN) agenda of events as the World Day against Child Labor. It marks the June arrival in 1998 of hundreds of children in Geneva, part of the Global March against Child Labor that had crossed 100 countries to present their plight to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

“We are hurting, and you can help us” was their message to the assembled International Labor Conference which meets each year in Geneva in June. One year later, in June, the ILO had drafted ILO Convention N° 182 on child labor which 165 States have now ratified — the fastest ratification rate in the ILO’s 89-year history.

The ILO is the only UN organization with a tripartite structure, governments, trade unions and employer associations are all full and equal members. All the other UN bodies are governments-only with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) playing a “fifth wheel” role. Yet NGOs within the UN system as a whole played an important role in highlighting children working in circumstances that put their physical, mental and social development at risk, children working in situations where they are exploited, mistreated and denied the basic rights of a human being. Today, millions of children, especially those living in extreme poverty, have no choice but to accept exploitive employment to ensure their own and their family’s survival. However, the ILO is the UN agency most directly related to conditions of work. Thus the ILO has often been an avenue for ‘unheard voices’ to be heard, usually through the trade union representatives; more rarely the employer representatives have played a progressive role.

The flag of the International Labor Organization.

Child labor and the increasing cross-frontier flow of child labor did not have a high profile on the long agenda of pressing labor issues until the end of the 1990s. At the start of the 1990s, there was only one full-time ILO staff member assigned to child labor issues; now there are 450, 90 percent in the field.

Child labor was often hidden behind the real and non-exploitive help that children bring to family farms. However, such help often keeps children out of school and thus outside the possibility of joining the modern sector of the economy. The ILO estimates that of the some 200 million child laborers in the world, some 70 percent are in agriculture, 10 percent in industry/mines and the others in trade and services — often as domestics or street vendors in urban areas. Globally, Asia accounts for the largest number of child workers — 122 million, Sub-Saharan Africa, 50 million, and Latin America and the Caribbean, 6 million. Young people under 18 make up almost half of humanity, a half which is virtually powerless in relation to the other half. To ensure the well-being of children and adolescents in light of this imbalance of power, we must identify attitudes and practices which cause invisibility.

The grim faces of child labor: In El Salvador, a 4-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother working to fill coal bags.

But statistics are only one aspect of the story. It is important to look at what type of work is done and for whom. The image of the child helping his parents on the farm can hide wide-spread bonded labor in Asia. Children are ‘farmed out’ to others for repayment of a debt with interest. As the interest rates are too high, the debt is never paid off and ‘bonded labour’ is another term for a form of slavery.

In Africa, children can live at great distances from their home, working for others with no family ties and thus no restraints on the demands for work. Girls are particularly disadvantaged as they often undertake household chores following work in the fields. Schooling for such children can be non-existent or uneven at best. There is often a lack of rural schools and teachers. Rural school attendance is variable even where children are not forced to work. Thus, there is a need for better coordination between resources and initiatives for rural education and the elimination of exploitive child labor.

There is still a long way to go to eliminate exploitive child labor. Much child labor is in what is commonly called the non-formal sector of the economy where there are no trade unions. Child labor is often related to conditions of extreme poverty and to sectors of the society where both adults and children are marginalized such as many tribal societies in Asia, or the Roma in Europe or migrant workers in general.

Thus, the task of both governments and NGOs is to understand better the scope of exploitive child labor, its causes, the possibility of short-term protection of children and the longer-range efforts to overcome exclusion and poverty.

 

René Wadlow is Senior Vice President and Chief Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.

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