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Politics Beyond National Frontiers

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Democracy, Environmental protection, Human Development, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, International Justice, Migration, Modern slavery, NGOs, Nonviolence, Refugees, Religious Freedom, Social Rights, Solidarity, Sustainable Development, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, Women's Rights, World Law on May 24, 2023 at 6:38 AM

By René Wadlow

In our current globalized world society, there is an increased role for politics without borders. Politics no longer stops at the water’s edge but must play an active role on the world stage. However, unlike politics at the national level which usually has a parliament at which the actors can recite their lines, the world has no world parliament as such. Thus, new and inventive ways must be found so that world public opinion can be heard and acted upon.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly is the closest thing to a world parliament that we have today. However, all the official participants are diplomats appointed by their respective States – 195 member states. UN Secretariat members, the secretariat members of UN Specialized Agencies such as UNESCO and the ILO, are in the hallways or coffee shops to give advice. Secretariat members of the financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF are also there to give advice on costs and the limits of available funds. The representatives of Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) in Consultative Status with the UN who can speak at sessions of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council cannot address the General Assembly directly. However, they are also in the coffee shops and may send documents to the UN missions of national governments.

(C) Jérôme Blum

Politics without borders requires finding ways to express views for action beyond the borders of individual countries. Today, most vital issues that touch the lives of many people go beyond the individual State: the consequences of climate change, the protection of biodiversity, the resolution of armed conflicts, the violations of human rights, and a more just world trade pattern. Thus we need to find ways of looking at the world with a global mind and an open heart. This perspective is an aim of world citizenship.

However, World Citizens are not yet so organized as to be able to impact political decisions at the UN and in enough individual States so as to have real influence. The policy papers and Appeals of the Association of World Citizens (AWC) are often read with interest by the government representatives to whom they are sent. However, the AWC is an NGO among many and does not have the number of staff as such international NGOs as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace.

The First Officer and External Relations Officer, Bernard J. Henry, and the Legal and Mediation Officer, Attorney Noura Addad, representing the AWC at an OECD roundtable in March 2019 (C) Bernard J. Henry/AWC

We still need to find effective ways so that humanity can come together to solve global problems, that is, politics without borders. Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Biodiversity: A Pledge, Now Action

In Current Events, Environmental protection, Human Development, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on December 22, 2022 at 8:22 PM

By René Wadlow

In the early hours of December 19, 2022, the delegates to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biodiversity (COP 15) reached an agreement on a Biodiversity Framework after 12 days of intense negotiations. The theme of COP 15 was “Ecological Civilization: Building a shared future for all life on earth”. There were some 15,000 persons present during the meetings: government delegates, some 70 Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), academic research institutes and business companies. The global biodiversity framework, to be called the “Kunming-Montreal Framework”, sets out to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s land and water by 2030. Montreal, Canada, is the headquarters of the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, and Kunming is the city in the People’s Republic of China where the conference was to be held but was changed because of COVID 19 restrictions.

There is general agreement among specialists that world-wide there is a loss of biodiversity due to a number of factors such as increase in mono-culture agriculture, livestock grazing, the loss of forest lands through lumbering and firewood gathering, overuse of pesticides and the growth of urbanization. Many ecosystems are under stress and facing degradation. The tree and plant cover of the world have been taking increasing losses in almost all parts of the world. There is also the impact of climate change and a lack of rainfall in some parts of the world.

As with many UN conferences, a key issue of discussion is finance. The protection of biodiversity and the restoration of degraded areas costs money without necessarily bringing in new financial wealth. There is a Global Environment Facility which is called upon to manage increase funds.

It is hoped that NGOs can play a vital role at the international level on biodiversity protection. At the national level in many countries, NGOs have played an important role in the creation of national parks and protected areas. Can they play a vital role at the international level? While there are some long-standing international ecological organizations, none yet have been able to mobilize a wide international public opinion. However, what was new at Montreal was the concerted effort of women’s organizations to have a gender focus put into the Framework for the first time. They were successful, and the Framework states that the Framework should “ensure gender equality in the implementation of the Framework through a gender-responsive approach where all women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to contribute to the objectives of the Convention, including by recognizing their equal rights and access to land and natural resources and their full, equitable, meaningful and informed participation and leadership at all levels of action, engagement, policy, and decision-making related to biodiversity.”

There is also a growing movement among young people for the safeguard of biodiversity who may watch closely at the ways the Framework leads to action. As Marco Lambertini, Director General of World Wildlife Fund International, said, “The agreement represents a major milestone for the conservation of our natural world, and biodiversity has never been so high on the political and business agenda, but it can be undermined by slow implementation and failure to mobilize the promised resources. Governments have chosen the rights side of history in Montreal, but history will judge us all if we don’t deliver on the promise made today.”

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

Protecting the Environment in Time of War

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Environmental protection, Human Rights, NGOs, Solidarity, Sustainable Development, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on November 6, 2022 at 9:01 PM

By René Wadlow

November 6 is set by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in Resolution A/RES/56/4 as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Throughout history, in armed conflicts, water wells have been poisoned, crops set on fire, forests cut down, and animals killed to gain military advantage. Today, many armed conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources such as timber, diamonds, and fertile land and water.

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) has stressed that protection of the environment needs to be an important part of conflict prevention. The resource base that people depend upon for their livelihood needs to be safeguarded. Most recently, the AWC has highlighted the deliberate destruction of food-related resources in the armed conflict between the Ethiopian federal forces and the opposition movements in Tigray.

Humera in Tigray near the border with Sudan and Eritrea (C) Jnyssen

Since November 4, 2020, fighting has gone on in Tigray with the deliberate destruction of crops and agricultural infrastructures. UN-led humanitarian food relief was prevented from entering the area. Fortunately, at the start of November 2022, a ceasefire and a peace agreement facilitated by the African Union (AU) was signed in South Africa where the negotiations had been held. The AU has designated a team of 10 persons to follow up the process. However, the restoration of the agricultural infrastructure will be a lengthy process. It is not sure that all the factions involved will agree to the ceasefire. The situation merits a close watch.

There are currently other conflicts linked to natural resources, such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The International Day must serve as a reminder, but efforts of protection need to be permanent. The AWC will continue its efforts.

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

L’impact du désordre environnemental sur la migration sud-nord

In Africa, Asia, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Environmental protection, Human Development, Middle East & North Africa, Migration, NGOs, Refugees, Social Rights, Solidarity, Sustainable Development, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on August 10, 2022 at 7:01 AM

Par Nadia Belaala

Dans un premier temps, il nous semble important de faire un rappel de l’état des lieux environnemental dans lequel se trouvent la terre et ses ressources, en considérant les interactions entre l’humanité et les écosystèmes qui y vivent.

Selon le Rapport Planète Vivante de WWF (2020), les activités humaines ont amené à une diminution de 68% des populations mondiales de mammifères, d’oiseaux, de poissons, de reptiles et d’amphibiens en 50 ans.

En Europe, par exemple, l’Union Internationale pour la Conservation de la Nature (UICN) indique la disparition de 36 espèces entre 2015 et aujourd’hui, et plus de 11% sont menacées d’extinctions (dont 58% d’arbres endémiques et 40% de poissons d’eau douce).

En Afrique, ce sont 700 millions d’hectares de terres (soit plus de dix fois la surface de la France), qui ont été dégradées par la pression humaine,  et ce en lien avec la désertification et le surpâturage (source : la Banque mondiale, 2016). Cette situation crée un cercle vicieux, qui amène à une urgence alimentaire, laquelle nécessite à son tour une exploitation excessive des arbres et une sur-utilisation des engrais et pesticides[1].

Au niveau mondial,  le stock de poissons a reculé de 50% entre 1970 et 2010, les côtes africaines étant les plus pillées au monde, notamment par la Chine[2]. Il se pourrait que les stocks halieutiques exploités par les êtres humains déclinent jusqu’à disparaître en 2048, si l’on en croit les prévisions d’Isabelle Autissier, présidente de WWF-France (jusqu’en janvier 2021).

Quant aux villes, si elles n’occupent que 3% de la surface continentale mondiale[3], elles concentrent 55% de la population mondiale et consomment plus des deux tiers de la demande énergétique mondiale (source : Rapport de situation 2019 sur les énergies renouvelables dans les villes de l’ONU). Elles sont, par ailleurs, particulièrement vulnérables aux changements climatiques et aux catastrophes naturelles du fait, entre autres, de leur forte concentration humaine, tout en étant en partie les causes de ces aléas climatiques[4].

L’histoire de l’humanité est en train de se jouer, en notre défaveur à tous ; il n’y a pas de région, de pays ou de continent épargnés. Il y a une réelle urgence à s’en préoccuper, car si nous n’agissons pas, c’est notre propre espèce que nous mettons en péril.

Une des premières conséquences de ces désordres environnementaux est d’obliger, inexorablement, des populations à se déplacer.

Bien que l’histoire de l’humanité soit faite de migrations, ces dernières se multiplient fortement, depuis quelques années. Auparavant, c’était les guerres, les violences, maintenant, ce sont aussi les aléas climatiques qui poussent les êtres humains à quitter la terre qui les a vus grandir et qui leur a permis de construire leurs identifications fondamentales.

Nous savons que, d’une manière générale, toute migration, à laquelle s’ajoute celle due à l’environnement, provoque des perturbations socioculturelles énormes, autant pour ceux qui la subissent que pour ceux qui l’accueillent. Elle engendre des souffrances humaines indicibles qui questionnent et violentent notre humanité.

Lequel d’entre nous n’a pas encore, en mémoire, ces images insoutenables des migrants noyés gisants sur les plages, en particulier sur les deux rives de la Méditerranée ?

Parmi ces migrants, combien sont des réfugiés climatiques ? Nous n’avons pas encore assez d’études qui nous renseignent avec précision sur cette question, mais il est avéré qu’ils sont de plus en plus nombreux.

Pourtant, force est de constater que le sujet des réfugiés climatiques est le parent pauvre de la politique actuelle, le lien entre migration et réchauffement climatique faisant l’objet d’un silence assourdissant de la part de nos politiques. Pour autant, en 2013, un rapport du Conseil norvégien pour les réfugiés (NRC) fait état de 22 millions de personnes ayant été déplacées en raison de catastrophes naturelles, ce qui est trois fois plus élevé que le nombre des personnes fuyant un conflit.

Mais qui sont ces migrants, ces réfugiés de l’environnement ? Ce sont des personnes « qui sont forcées de quitter leur lieu de vie temporairement ou de façon permanente à cause d’une rupture environnementale (d’origine naturelle ou humaine) qui a mis en péril leur existence ou sérieusement affecté leurs conditions de vie »[5].

Alors comment sont catégorisés ces « réfugiés climatiques », appelés aussi « déplacés » ou « éco-migrants » ? Ils sont, d’emblée, intégrés aux seules catégories existantes: celles des « réfugiés économiques » ou des « réfugiés de la misère ». En effet, ils n’ont pas de statut juridique, car ils ne remplissent pas les critères de la Convention de Genève signée en 1951. 

Cette dernière n’accorde l’assurance d’une protection aux réfugiés que dans certains cas, à savoir, « des situations de persécutions liées à la race, à la religion, à la nationalité, aux opinions politiques, ou à l’appartenance à  certains groupes sociaux » (UNHCR).

De ce fait, les pays d’accueil, connus pour leur qualité de vie et leur sécurité, et vers lesquels se dirigent naturellement ces éco-migrants, ne disposent d’aucun budget pour recevoir ces derniers.

Selon le Rapport mondial sur le déplacement interne (2020) de l’ONG Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), chaque année, plus de 20 millions de personnes qui sont déplacées, le sont pour cause de catastrophes naturelles, dont 86% de nature hydrométéorologique.

Alors, quels sont les changements environnementaux qui provoquent de tels flux migratoires ?

L’Ined (Institut national d’études démographiques) fait état de 3 phénomènes[6] principaux :

1) L’intensité accrue des catastrophes naturelles.

En effet, entre 1995 et 2015, plus de 600.000 personnes sont décédées du fait de ces catastrophes météorologiques. Plus de 4 milliards de personnes ont en été blessées, ou sont tombées dans une forte précarité à la suite de ces catastrophes. (Source : rapport du Bureau des Nations unies pour la réduction des risques de catastrophes)

2) La hausse du niveau des mers.

Elle risque de rendre inhabitables certaines zones basses à forte densité de population.

C’est le cas de nombreuses régions du Bangladesh[7], par exemple. Ce pays, tout comme l’Inde, a vu s’accroître ses problèmes socio-économiques et politiques en raison notamment du déplacement des Rohingyas, forcés de fuir le Myanmar.

3) La raréfaction des ressources hydriques, aussi appelée stress hydrique.

Elle engendre sécheresse et désertification. C’est notamment le cas des États du Sahel, où les modèles climatiques prédisent une aggravation de la sécheresse dans les années à venir. Cette situation a déjà été à l’origine de déplacements majeurs de populations et d’une perte importante du bétail dans cette région d’Afrique. Le bétail, rappelons-le, constitue la principale source de production agricole[8].

Par ailleurs, et depuis quelques années, on assiste à une augmentation des inondations meurtrières notamment en Afrique de l’Ouest. Ces évènements sont dus à différents phénomènes tels que le changement de l’usage des terres, la réduction des jachères, ou encore la déforestation et l’urbanisation. Tout ceci rend les sols incapables d’absorber les eaux diluviennes notamment dans la zone du Sahel[9].

Ainsi, en 2018, ce sont 250.000 Afghans qui ont dû fuir leurs villages en raison des fortes chaleurs, induisant une vulnérabilité extrême de cette population, déjà exposée aux conflits armés.

Selon un rapport du Conseil norvégien pour les réfugiés, « en 2013, les catastrophes naturelles ont fait presque trois fois plus de déplacés que les guerres » (INED) et 85% d’entre eux sontdes pays en développement.

Pour une grande partie de ces populations, c’est l’exode vers l’Occident, et particulièrement l’Europe,  qui est le plus tentant et le plus tenté, dans l’espoir de vivre dignement, ou tout au moins de survivre …

Comment dès lors permettre à ces populations de vivre dans leurs territoires, d’y travailler et d’en utiliser les ressources ?

Certaines bonnes pratiques locales, simples d’accès, notamment pour les populations autochtones pourraient aider à lutter contre ces problématiques environnementales. Quelques-unes commencent d’ores et déjà à émerger et devraient faire, nous l’espérons, effet « boule de neige ».

À titre d’exemple, citons le mouvement de la ceinture verte au Kenya (Green Belt Movement) qui a été lancé par la biologiste Wangari Maathai et qui encourage les femmes à planter des arbres, ce qui leur permet, à terme, d’améliorer leur niveau de vie.

En Mongolie, toute une muraille verte a également vu le jour, pour résister à l’avancée du désert de Gobi.

Au Burkina Faso, des paysans construisent des cuvettes en demi-lunes qui permettent de concentrer les précipitations et réduire le ruissellement[10].

Au Rajasthan, pour récupérer l’eau des moussons, recharger les nappes phréatiques et réalimenter les rivières, les paysans ont remis au goût du jour le « johad », une technique agricole ancestrale, qui consiste à collecter les eaux de pluie pendant la saison des moussons et les utiliser en les faisant filtrer dans le sous sol pendant la saison sèche[11].

Wangari Maathai

On peut aussi évoquer la transformation de la villa « ASSIE GAYE » au Sénégal en 2009-2010, qui s’est faite grâce à l’utilisation de matériaux locaux, comme la terre crue argileuse. Elle est alimentée en énergies renouvelables, grâce à un générateur éolien, un générateur photovoltaïque et un collecteur thermique. Ce qui en fait une maison durable, à la fois sur le plan écologique et économique[12].

Enfin, nous devons rappeler qu’il est indispensable pour l’humanité de relever le défi majeur de ces problématiques environnementales et humaines qui s’offrent à elle. Il nous faut intégrer tous les possibles en matière de changement climatique annoncés par les rapports du Groupe GIEC, dans le but d’y répondre.

Il serait ainsi plus urgent d’attribuer certains budgets étatiques à la prise en charge des réfugiés climatiques, plutôt que d’augmenter, par exemple, ceux inhérents à la défense et à l’armement.

Par ailleurs, la lutte contre le fléau de l’évasion fiscale pourrait, éventuellement, profiter à ces mêmes réfugiés et ainsi limiter la pression sur les pays d’origine ou encore sur les pays accueillant ces migrants.

Pour clôturer mon propos, j’emprunte un peu de sa sagesse à Wangari Maathai qui précise  qu’« Aujourd’hui, nous affrontons un défi qui exige un renouvellement de notre mode de pensée, pour que l’humanité cesse de menacer le système qui assure sa propre survie. Nous sommes appelés à aider la terre à guérir ses blessures et, à guérir les nôtres – en fait, à embrasser la totalité de la création dans toute sa diversité, sa beauté et ses merveilles. »[13]

Nadia Belaala est architecte et ingénieure sociale, anciennement Officier du Développement durable de l’Association of World Citizens.

[1] Meyerfeld, B. (2016). Alerte érosion : l’Afrique s’effrite et ses terres s’appauvrissent dangereusement. Le Monde Afrique,

[2] Valo, M. (2013). Comment la pêche chinoise pille les océans de la planète. Le Monde,

[3] Boughriet, R. (2016). De nouvelles normes mondiales pour un développement urbain durable,,

[4] Desforges, D. (2009). Les villes face au changement climatique. Regards croisés sur l’économie, 2(2), 84-86.

[5] Cournil, C. (2010). Les “réfugiés environnementaux” : enjeux et questionnements autour d’une catégorie émergente. Migrations Société, 2(2), 67-79.

[6] VERON, J. (2014), Quels liens entre migrations et environnement ? Institut national d’études démographiques,

[7] Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Q. (2006). Changement climatique, inondations et gestion des crues : le cas du Bangladesh. Hérodote, 2(2), 73-94.

[8] LEBEL, T. (2018), Au Sahel, le climat durablement perturbé depuis la « grande sécheresse. Le Monde Afrique,


[10] (p.22)



[13] European think & do tank. (2016). Réchauffement climatique et migration, zoom sur un phénomène méconnu, p.3,

New Efforts for Land Renewal

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Environmental protection, Human Development, Human Rights, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on June 6, 2022 at 3:11 PM

By René Wadlow

The States Parties to the United Nations-sponsored Treaty on Desertification met in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on May 9-20, 2022. The 197 member states agreed to an appeal to work more actively to prevent continuing desertification and to win back lands currently under great pressure. Because the conference was being held in Africa, much attention was given to the advances of the desert in the Sahel states and the possibility of building a “Green Wall” of trees to stop the advance.

The Green Wall of Sahel (C) Sevgart

The Treaty was designed to be the centerpiece of a massive worldwide effort to arrest the spread of deserts or desert-like conditions not only in Africa south of the Sahara but wherever such conditions encroached on the livelihood of those who lived in the desert or in its destructive path.

The destruction of land that was once productive does not stem from mysterious and remorseless forces of nature but from the actions of humans. Desertification is a social phenomenon. Humans are both the despoiler and the victims of the process.

Increasingly, populations are eking out a livelihood on dwindling land resources. Thus, there must be renewed and strong efforts for land regeneration. Desertification needs to be seen in a holistic way. If we see desertification only as aridity, we may miss areas of impact such as humid tropics. We need to consider the special problems of water-logging, salinity or alkalinity of irrigation systems that destroy land each year. Because desertification disturbs a region’s natural resource base, it promotes insecurity. Insecurity leads to strife. If allowed to degenerate, strife results in inter-clan feuding between cultivators and pastoralists, cross-border raiding, and military confrontation.

Earth is our common home, and therefore in the spirit of world citizenship, we must organize to protect it. It is up to all of us concerned with ecologically-sound development to draw awareness to the dangers of desertification and the promises of land renewal.

It is important to understand the way of life of those who live on the edge of deserts. Hsuan Tsang (623-664) is a symbol of such an effort at understanding. Hsuan Tsang crossed the harshest deserts, in particular the Takla Mahan, and the tallest mountains on his quest for the innermost heart of Reality. He travelled from China to India to spend two years at the Nalanda Monastery in what is now Bihar State in northern India to study and translate into Chinese certain important Buddhist sutras. He also studied the lives of the people he met, showing an openness to the cultures of others, especially those living on the edge of the desert regions he crossed.

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.

En Colombie, la guerre contre la coca décime la terre et les espoirs de paix

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Environmental protection, Human Rights, Latin America, NGOs, Social Rights, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on May 16, 2021 at 8:23 PM

Par Bernard J. Henry

La Colombie vivra-t-elle un jour en paix ? Les événements actuels, la révolte sociale contre un projet de taxation du Président Ivan Duque qui l’a depuis abandonné, n’incitent qu’au pessimisme, dans un pays déjà longuement marqué par le conflit entre le Gouvernement et la rébellion des Forces Armées Révolutionnaires de Colombie – Armée du Peuple (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo ; FARC-EP) ainsi que par le narcoterrorisme des grands cartels de la drogue comme ceux de Cali et de Medellín. Aucune comparaison possible entre les trois, certes – mais seul le résultat compte.

Comme si déjà les affrontements entre êtres humains n’éprouvaient pas assez le pays, le Président Ivan Duque ouvre aujourd’hui un nouveau front, contre le dernier ennemi que devrait se donner quelque Etat que ce soit. Car la nouvelle ennemie de Bogota, c’est sa terre. Sa terre nourricière.

Coca veut-il toujours dire cocaïne ?

La déclaration de guerre, c’est le Décret 380, signé le 12 avril dernier par Ivan Duque et autorisant la reprise de la pulvérisation aérienne de glyphosate, herbicide produit au départ par la seule firme Monsanto sous la marque Roundup et dont le brevet appartient depuis 2000 au domaine public, pour l’éradication des cultures illicites. Sans surprise, c’est d’abord la coca qui est visée, et à travers elle, la culture de cocaïne. C’est oublier que cette plante, cultivée depuis plusieurs millénaires dans les Andes, représente bien davantage dans la culture locale.

Le mate de coca (C) Getty Images-iStockphoto

Jadis élément rituel des croyances incas de la Colombie jusqu’au Chili, toujours présentes dans les rites chamaniques, les feuilles de coca sont aujourd’hui consommées en infusion, le mate de coca. Elles sont riches en minéraux essentiels, en vitamines, en protéines et en fibres. Les âges leur ont aussi découvert des vertus médicinales contre le vertige, en anesthésiant, en analgésique ou en coagulant, leur taux élevé de calcium les ayant rendues tout aussi efficaces contre les fractures osseuses, parmi les nombreuses vertus que même la médecine moderne leur reconnaît.

C’est ainsi que la coca représentait, en 2012, 0,2% du Produit Intérieur Brut colombien. Mais de nos jours, pour Bogota, coca ne veut plus dire que cocaïne. Or, ce nom ne désigne pas forcément ce que l’on croit.

Sitôt le mot prononcé, «cocaïne» évoque une drogue dure. Or, ce n’est pas le sens premier du terme. La cocaïne est un alcaloïde, une substance parfaitement naturelle contenue dans les feuilles de coca. Elle est naturellement ingérée lorsque l’on consomme le mate ou, c’est son usage le plus courant, lorsque l’on en mâche les feuilles, comme le font les Andins depuis des milliers d’années. La coca agit ainsi comme un remède à la faim, la soif, la douleur ou la fatigue. Sous cette forme, elle ne crée aucune addiction.

Transformée en un produit stupéfiant, le chlorhydrate de cocaïne, puis «sniffée» en «rails», la cocaïne devient un psychotrope et crée une addiction particulièrement dangereuse sur le plan psychique. C’est là qu’elle devient une «culture illicite» car alimentant les économies des cartels mais aussi ceux de groupes paramilitaires, dont jadis les FARC-EP.

Le glyphosate de Monsanto, vendu sous la marque Roundup

Mais si la coca détient le problème, elle renferme aussi la solution. Pour les cocaïnomanes, la consommation des feuilles telles quelles, bénéfique et non addictive, offre un moyen de se désaccoutumer et guérir.

Bien que ne pouvant l’ignorer, pas plus qu’ignorer que de nombreuses communautés paysannes dépendent de la culture de la coca comme seul moyen d’existence, Bogota a décidé de l’éradiquer par la force, envoyant l’armée détruire cent trente mille hectares au risque même d’affamer sa population campesina et rallumer les feux mal éteints de la guerre civile.

Pour qui aurait cru que l’urgence sanitaire liée à la COVID-19, confinement compris comme dans tant d’autres pays du monde, aurait arrêté ou du moins suspendu les ambitions guerrières gouvernementales, comme la société civile colombienne qui demandait une suspension, peine perdue. Au moins sept départements colombiens ont vu l’armée mener pendant ce temps-là sa guerre à mort contre la coca. Une guerre d’autant plus inquiétante que le front en est proche, par trop proche, de celui de l’ancienne guerre contre les FARC-EP.

FARC-EP : Un accord de paix en danger

Dans les années 1980, dernière décennie de la Guerre Froide, donc du système international de Droits Humains antérieur à la Conférence de Vienne en 1993, plusieurs groupes d’opposition armés avaient été identifiés à travers le monde comme violateurs des Droits Humains au même titre que les gouvernements, parfois le gouvernement même qu’ils entendaient combattre. Parmi eux, les Khmers Rouges au Cambodge, le Parti des Travailleurs du Kurdistan (PKK) en Turquie, le Sentier Lumineux (Sendero Luminoso) au Pérou et, en Colombie, les FARC-EP.

L’emblème des FARC-EP

Pur produit de la Guerre Froide, apparues en 1964, les FARC-EP présentaient une idéologie marxiste-léniniste, prônant un système agrarien et anti-impérialiste en Colombie. Composées de plusieurs dizaines de milliers d’hommes et de femmes, les FARC-EP usaient de techniques militaires variées mais aussi du terrorisme, à l’image de l’ETA au Pays basque espagnol qui les soutenait ouvertement. Leur économie de guerre se fondait sur l’extraction minière illégale, le racket économique, l’enlèvement contre rançon – ainsi de la Sénatrice Ingrid Betancourt en 2002, qui demeura leur otage jusqu’en 2008 – et le trafic de stupéfiants.

En mars 2008, le décès du leader des FARC-EP Manuel Marulanda Vélez marqua un tournant dans l’histoire du groupe armé. Les désertions se multiplièrent et, bien que poursuivant leurs attaques terroristes contre la police, l’armée et le secteur de l’énergie, des FARC-EP jadis redoutables apparurent désormais craintives et fatiguées.

Un processus de paix fut lancé qui aboutit, en juin 2016, à la signature d’un cessez-le-feu entre le Président Juan Manuel Santos et les FARC-EP à La Havane. En août, Santos annonça un accord de paix formel, qu’il soumit à référendum en octobre mais qui fut rejeté de peu par l’électorat. Le mois suivant, un accord révisé fut signé puis finalement ratifié. Un an après le cessez-le-feu, en juin 2017, les FARC-EP prononcèrent leur dissolution en tant que groupe armé, remettant leur armement aux équipes des Nations Unies sur place et devenant, comme le prévoyait l’accord de paix, un parti politique.

Quelques milliers d’irréductibles poursuivirent la lutte armée et le trafic de drogue. En août 2019, plusieurs leaders des anciennes FARC-EP annoncèrent à leur tour y revenir, bientôt mis hors d’état de nuire par les troupes colombiennes. L’accord de paix perdura donc, dont les quatre premiers points montraient une volonté concrète de combattre à la fois le conflit et ses causes originelles – une réforme rurale exhaustive, la participation politique des membres des anciennes FARC-EP, une fin définitive des affrontements et, en Point 4, une «solution aux drogues illicites».

Un rapport parlementaire colombien rendu l’an dernier montrait que, si la culture du coca était en recul, non moins de quinze mille hectares ayant été perdus en un an, celle de cocaïne connaissait en revanche un regain de 15%. Peu surprenant dans la mesure où les solutions prévues par l’accord de paix, l’éradication manuelle et la mise en place de cultures de substitution, ont été largement ignorées par les autorités. Écarter ainsi les accords conclus et les solutions de bon sens qui les composent, c’était offrir un boulevard aux tenants du glyphosate, parmi lesquels le Ministre de la Défense Carlos Holmes Trujillo, qui ont donc fini par l’emporter.

Outre la santé, l’économie et l’écosystème des communautés campesinas, et malgré la victoire militaire sur la tentative de résurgence armée d’une partie des FARC-EP, le glyphosate met donc bel et bien en danger y compris l’accord de paix lui-même, au mépris de l’ancien groupe armé et de ses efforts vers la paix, mais aussi des décisions judiciaires et, rien de moins, des recommandations internationales.

La justice colombienne et l’ONU l’avaient dit

Une première fois pourtant, la Colombie avait mis fin à la pulvérisation aérienne. En 2015, l’impact avéré de cette pratique sur l’environnement et les Droits Humains, notamment le droit à la santé, avait amené Bogota à renoncer à en faire usage. Deux ans plus tard, c’était la Cour constitutionnelle (Corte Constitucional) qui se saisissait du sujet et se prononçait en son Arrêt T-236-17.

Pour la juridiction suprême, le glyphosate était indubitablement une substance toxique à même d’entraîner diverses maladies, dont le cancer. Elle ordonnait ainsi que la pulvérisation aérienne ne soit utilisée qu’en dernier ressort, après l’échec de toute substitution volontaire ou éradication manuelle. Et surtout, la Cour, sortant du pur plan agricole ou scientifique, investissait aussi le champ politique en appelant le Gouvernement à résoudre le problème en tenant compte du Point 4 des Accords de Paix avec les FARC-EP. Mais faute d’application crédible des programmes de substitution volontaire, bien que ceux-ci soient un pilier des accords de paix, il leur a été préféré l’éradication forcée.

L’ONU elle-même s’en est indignée et le 17 décembre dernier, dix de ses experts indépendants écrivaient à Ivan Duque en lui demandant de renoncer à la pulvérisation aérienne, porteuse « d’énormes risques » pour l’environnement mais aussi d’une possible atteinte aux engagements internationaux colombiens en matière de Droits Humains. Appel donc resté lettre morte.

La pulvérisation aérienne au glyphosate en action

Sans paix avec la terre, aucune paix pour l’avenir

Avec Carlos Holmes Trujillo, la «ligne dure», sans mauvais jeu de mots sur la cocaïne au demeurant, a gagné. Qu’importe si, à cause d’elle, des Colombiens vont se trouver démunis, et/ou malades, qu’importe si l’écosystème se trouve irrémédiablement endommagé, qu’importe si la terre devient stérile. Leur guerre totale contre d’anciens ennemis qu’ils veulent soumis plus que partenaires a dégénéré en guerre contre la terre colombienne elle-même, la Pachamama, «Terre-Mère» comme la désigne la cosmogonie andine depuis des temps anciens où, déjà, l’on mâchait la coca.

A l’instar d’autres organisations non-gouvernementales, l’Association of World Citizens (AWC) a pris attache avec le Gouvernement colombien en demandant que le Président Ivan Duque renonce à la pulvérisation aérienne de glyphosate, au profit des solutions préconisées par l’accord de paix avec les FARC-EP, éradication manuelle et substitution volontaire, telles que les demande aussi la Cour constitutionnelle.

«A moins d’étendre le cercle de sa compassion à tout ce qui vit, l’homme ne pourra lui-même trouver la paix», disait Albert Schweitzer, auteur du concept de Révérence envers la Vie et lui-même référence naturelle de l’AWC. Le drame colombien du glyphosate illustre on ne peut mieux cette pensée. Heureusement, il n’est pas trop tard.

Bernard J. Henry est Officier des Relations Extérieures de l’Association of World Citizens.

The Day of Mother Earth: Living in Harmony with Nature

In Being a World Citizen, Environmental protection, NGOs, Solidarity, Spirituality, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on April 22, 2021 at 8:24 PM

By René Wadlow

International Mother Earth Day on April 22 each year was established by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2009. Its aim is to promote living in harmony with Nature and to achieve a just balance among the economic, social, and environmental needs of present and future generations. The concept of living in harmony with Nature was seen by the UN delegates as a way “to improve the ethical basis of the relationship between humankind and our planet.” It is the biosphere to which we belong. It is becoming the common heritage of mankind which we must defend.

The term “Mother Earth” is an expression used in different cultures to symbolize the inseparable bonds between humans and Nature. Pachamama is the term used in the Andean cultures of South America. The Earth and the ecosystem are our home. We need to care for it as a mother is supposed to care for her children and the children to show love and gratitude in return. However, we know from all the folk tales of the evil stepmother as well as the records of psychoanalytic sessions that mother-children relations are not always relations of love, care and gratitude. Thus, to really live in harmony with Nature requires deep shifts in values and attitudes, not just “sustainable development” projects.

The UN began its focus on ecological issues with the preparations for the 1972 Conference in Stockholm. However, the concept of living in harmony with Nature is relatively new as a UN political concept. Yet it is likely to be increasingly a theme for both governmental policy making and individual action.

As Rodney Collin wrote in a letter, “It is extraordinary how the key-word of harmony occurs everywhere now, comes intuitively to everyone’s lips when they wish to express what they hope for. But I feel that we have hardly yet begun to study its real meaning. Harmony is not an emotion, an effect. It is a whole elaborate science, which for some reason has only been fully developed in the realm of sound. Science, psychology and even religion are barely touching it as yet.” (1)

Resolutions in the UN General Assembly can give a sense of direction. They indicate that certain ideas and concepts are ready to be discussed at the level of governments. However, a resolution is not yet a program of action or even a detailed framework for discussion. “Living in harmony with Nature” is at that stage on the world agenda. As Citizens of the World, we strive to develop an integrated program of action.

1) His letters have been assembled after his death by his wife into a book:
Rodney Collin, The Theory of Conscious Harmony (Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 1958)

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

U. N. Day: Strengthening and Reforming

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Democracy, Environmental protection, Human Development, Human Rights, International Justice, NGOs, Social Rights, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on October 25, 2020 at 4:11 PM

By René Wadlow

October 24 is United Nations (U. N.) Day, marking the day when there were enough ratifications including those of the five permanent members of the proposed Security Council for the U. N. Charter to come into force. It is a day not only of celebration, but also a day for looking at how the U. N. system can be strengthened, and when necessary, reformed.

There have been a number of periods when proposals for new or different U. N. structures were proposed and discussed. The first was in the 1944-1945 period when the Charter was being drafted. Some who had lived through the decline and then death of the League of Nations wanted a stronger world institution, able to move more quickly and effectively in times of crisis or at the start of armed conflict.

The official emblem of the League of Nations.

In practice, the League of Nations was reincarnated in 1945 in the U. N. Charter but the names of some of the bodies were changed and new Specialized Agencies such as UNESCO were added. There was some dissatisfaction during the San Francisco negotiations, and an article was added indicating that 10 years after the coming into force of the Charter a proposal to hold a U. N. Charter Review Conference would be placed on the Agenda – thus for 1955.

The possibility of a U. N. Charter Review Conference led in the 1953-1954 period to a host of proposals for changes in the U. N. structures, for a greater role for international law, for a standing U. N. “peace force”. Nearly all these proposals would require modifications in the U. N. Charter.

When 1955 arrived, the United States and the Soviet Union, who did not want a Charter Review Conference which might have questioned their policies, were able to sweep the Charter Review agenda item under the rug from where it has never emerged. In place of a Charter Review Conference, a U. N. Committee on “Strengthening the U. N. Charter” was set up which made a number of useful suggestions, none of which were put into practice as such. The Committee on Strengthening the Charter was the first of a series of expert committees, “High-Level Panels” set up within the U. N. to review its functioning and its ability to respond to new challenges. There have also been several committees set up outside of the U. N. to look at world challenges and U. N. responses, such as the Commission on Global Governance.

While in practice there have been modifications in the ways the U. N. works, few of these changes have recognized an expert group’s recommendations as the source of the changes. Some of the proposals made would have strengthened some factions of the U. N. system over the then current status quo – most usually to strength the role of developing countries (the South) over the industrialized States (the North). While the vocabulary of “win-win” modifications is often used, in practice few States want to take a chance, and the status quo continues.

Now, the Secretary General knows well how the U. N. works from his decade as High Commissioner for Refugees, U. N. reform is again “in the air”. There are an increasing number of proposals presented by governments and by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) associated with the U. N. The emphasis today is on what can be done without a revision of the Charter. Most of the proposals turn on what the Secretary General can do on his own authority. The Secretary General cannot go against the will of States – especially the most powerful States – but he does have a certain power of initiative.

There are two aspects of the current U. N. system that were not foreseen in 1945 and which are important today. One is the extensive role of U. N. Peacekeeping Forces: The Blue Helmets. The other is the growing impact of NGOs. There is growing interest in the role of NGOs within the U. N. system in the making and the implementation of policies at the international level. NGOs are more involved than ever before in global policy making and project implementation in such areas as conflict resolution, human rights, humanitarian relief, and environmental protection. (1)

NGOs at the U. N. have a variety of roles – they bring citizens’ concerns to governments, advocate particular policies, present alternative avenues for political participation, provide analysis, serve as an early warning mechanism of potential violence and help implement peace agreements.

The role of consultative-status NGOs was written into the U. N. Charter at its founding in San Francisco in June 1945. As one of the failings of the League of Nations had been the lack of public support and understanding of the functioning of the League, some of the U. N. Charter drafters felt that a role should be given to NGOs. At the start, both governments and U. N. Secretariat saw NGOs as an information avenue — telling NGO members what the governments and the U. N. was doing and building support for their actions. However, once NGOs had a foot in the door, the NGOs worked to have a two-way avenue — also telling governments and the Secretariat what NGO members thought and what policies should be carried out at the U. N. Governments were none too happy with this two-way avenue idea and tried to limit the U. N. bodies with which NGOs could ‘consult’. There was no direct relationship with the General Assembly or the Security Council. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Article 71 of the Charter was the body to which “consultative-status NGOs” were related.

A wide view of the 19th session of the Human Rights Council. (C) Jean-Marc Ferré / UN Geneva

What in practice gives NGOs their influence is not what an individual NGO can do alone but what they can do collectively. ‘Networking’ and especially trans-national networking is the key method of progress. NGOs make networks which facilitate the trans-national movement of norms, resources, political responsibility, and information. NGO networks tend to be informal, non-binding, temporary, and highly personalized. NGOs are diverse, heterogeneous, and independent. They are diverse in mission, level of resources, methods of operating and effectiveness. However, at the U. N., they are bound together in a common desire to protect the planet and advance the welfare of humanity.

The role of NGO representatives is to influence policies through participation in the entire policy-making process. What distinguishes the NGO representative’s role at the U. N. from lobbying at the national level is that the representative may appeal to and discuss with the diplomats of many different governments. While some diplomats may be unwilling to consider ideas from anyone other than the mandate they receive from their Foreign Ministry, others are more open to ideas coming from NGO representatives. Out of the 193 Member States, the NGO representative will always find some diplomats who are ‘on the same wave length’ or who are looking for additional information on which to take a decision, especially on issues on which a government position is not yet set.

Legal Officer Noura Addad representing the AWC during a meeting at UNESCO in November 2018 (C) AWC External Relations Desk

Therefore, an NGO representative must be trusted by government diplomats and the U. N. Secretariat. As with all diplomacy in multilateral forums such as the U. N., much depends upon the skill and knowledge of the NGO representative and on the close working relations which they are able to develop with some government representatives and some members of the U. N. Secretariat. Many Secretariat members share the values of the NGO representatives but cannot try to influence government delegates directly. The Secretariat members can, however, give to the NGO representatives some information, indicate countries that may be open to acting on an issue and help with the style of presentation of a document.

It is probably in the environmental field — sustainable development — that there has been the most impact. Each environmental convention or treaty such as those on biological diversity or drought was negotiated separately, but with many of the same NGO representatives present. It is more difficult to measure the NGO role in disarmament and security questions. It is certain that NGO mobilization for an end to nuclear testing and for a ban on land mines and cluster weapons played a role in the conventions which were steps forward for humanity. However, on other arms issues, NGO input is more difficult to analyze.

‘Trans-national advocacy networks’ which work across frontiers are of increasing importance as seen in the efforts against land mines, for the International Criminal Court and for increased protection from violence toward women and children. The groups working on these issues are found in many different countries but have learned to work trans-nationally both through face-to-face meetings and through the internet web. The groups in any particular campaign share certain values and ideas in common but may differ on other issues. Thus, they come together on an ad hoc basis around a project or a small number of related issues. Yet their effectiveness is based on their being able to function over a relatively long period of time in rather complex networks even when direct success is limited.

These campaigns are based on networks which combine different actors at various levels of government: local, regional, national, and U. N. (or European Parliament, OSCE etc.). The campaigns are waged by alliances among different types of organizations — membership groups, academic institutions, religious bodies, and ad hoc local groupings. Some groups may be well known, though most are not.

There is a need to work at the local, the national, and the U. N. levels at the same time. Advocacy movements need to be able to contact key decision-makers in national parliaments, government administrations and intergovernmental secretariats. Such mobilization is difficult, and for each ‘success story’ there are many failed efforts. The rise of U. N. consultative-status NGOs has been continual since the early 1970s. NGOs and government diplomats at the U. N. are working ever more closely together to deal with the world challenges which face us all.

(1) This interest is reflected in a number of path-making studies such as P. Willets (Ed.), The Consciences of the World: The Influence of Non-Governmental Organizations in the U. N. System (London: Hurst, 1996), T. Princen and M. Finger (Eds), Environmental NGOs in World Politics: Linking the Global and the Local (London: Routledge, 1994), M. Rech and K. Sikkink, Activists Without Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998); Bas Arts, Math Noortmann and Rob Reinalda (Eds), Non-State Actors in International Relations (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001); and William De Mars, NGOs and Transnational Networks (London: Pluto Press, 2005).

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

South China Sea Delimitation Disputes: Good Faith Negotiations Needed

In Asia, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Environmental protection, International Justice, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on July 28, 2020 at 11:42 AM

By René Wadlow


There are several maritime delimitation disputes that are currently dangerous and require good-faith negotiations to prevent increased tensions. World Citizens had played an important role in the Law of the Sea Conference (UNCLOS) negotiations and in the creation of the International Seabed Authority and its Tribunal on maritime deliberation issues. (1)

There are currently two major geographic areas in which there are maritime delimitation issues: the Arctic and the China Seas. The China Seas tensions are the most politically sensitive. Territorial sea disputes can be heated up by governments and cooled off at will when other political issues require attention elsewhere. Currently, we are in a “heating up” stage between China and Japan, China, and the USA, and to a lesser degree between China and Vietnam, China and Taiwan, and China and the Philippines. The broader China-U.S.A. tensions also color the South China Sea issues.

There are both economic and geo-strategic aspects to these tensions, and both need to be addressed if good faith negotiations are to lead to cooperation for the benefit of all. (2)

Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3)

Progress in maritime geology and predictions of metal shortages in the decade ahead have made seabed mining a concern of governments such as China, Japan, and South Korea. Minerals such as copper, gold, and many other industrial minerals as well as oil-natural gas are thought to be available through sea mining in this Pacific area.

The strategic-geopolitical aspects are less clear but they focus on the Chinese Navy creating permanent islands around what had been only rock formations of land that was visible only part of the year. There is a drive for influence in the area among China, Japan, the USA, and to a lesser extent, India. The drive has no doubt to do with the vision each State has of its leadership role, its growing or declining position, its ability to limit the influence and access of other States, and its “core interests.” Such political speculations are “immaterial” but can easily lead to mistaken calculations and consequent actions.

Factions in both Japan and China are playing a “nationalist card” concerning the maritime delimitations disputes, no doubt for reasons which go beyond the specific aspects of the disputes. Although the Chinese “nationalist” focus is directed toward Japan, there is a vision among some Chinese that the USA is the cause of the continuing problems with Taiwan and Japan.


Therefore, it is important that “non-nationalist” voices be heard, stressing cooperation for mutual benefit. The Association of World Citizens is among such voices, stressing that the settlement of maritime delimitation disputes through adjudication by the World Court is the ideal approach. For World Citizens, the quality of the Law of the Sea is of special significance. The greater part of the oceans is considered res communis, a global common beyond national ownership. Furthermore, the physical nature of the oceans suggests world rather than national solutions to the increasing need for management of marine resources and the marine environment.

Although most maritime delimitations are, in fact, achieved without recourse to adjudication and settled by bilateral negotiations, submitting a dispute to the World Court can better ensure that the results of the delimitation process conform to the rules of international law. We need to start a strong mobilization of voices calling for good-faith negotiations and for a vision of cooperation among the States of the China Seas.


1) See the writings of the Louis B. Sohn, in particular his course at the Hague Court legal summer school “Settlement of Disputes Relating to the Interpretation and Application of Treaties”, Recueil des cours, Vol. 150. 1976 II, pp. 205-294. For a useful approach to the delimitations issues see A. O. Adede, The System for Settlement of Disputes Under the UNCLOS (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1987)

2) Delimitation disputes are not new but reappear when politically useful for some reason. For a good overview of the history with maps of the disputed areas see Douglas Johnston and Mark Valencia, Pacific Ocean Boundary Problems (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1991).

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

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