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Nagorno-Karabakh: Uneasy Ceasefire, Key Issues Remain

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, Humanitarian Law, International Justice, NGOs, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on December 24, 2020 at 4:56 PM

By René Wadlow

December 9-10, 2020 marked the one-month anniversary of the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh by the Armenians. The ceasefire was negotiated by Russia between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The agreement was signed by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, the Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, and the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian. However, on December 11, the Russian Novosti Press Agency reported the first ceasefire violation, an exchange of fire between Azerbaijan and Armenian soldiers. There are some 2000 Russian peacekeepers on site, but it is always difficult to control a ceasefire. Moreover, a ceasefire is only the first step on what will be a long path of confidence-building measures and ultimately forms of cooperation.

Nicol Pachanian

The ceasefire agreement structures two safe avenues of road communication from the remaining Armenian areas in Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. In the same way there will be a safe avenue of road communication from the Azerbaijan areas to Nakhichevan, an Azerbaijan majority area within Armenia. The avenue to Nakhichevan close to the frontier with Turkey will allow Turkish goods to cross to Azerbaijan and from there through Central Asia to the frontier with China.

Turkey considers the outcome of the ceasefire as a victory for Turkey, especially that the Turkish drones and weapons used by the Azerbaijan forces played a large role in giving Azerbaijan a military advantage. In contrast, the outcome of the ceasefire is considered by many in Armenia as a defeat, creating an instability for the current government led by Pachinian. The results of the ceasefire have led to the naming of a new Foreign Minister, Ara Aivazian, on November 18.

The conflict has led to a large number of new refugees, of displaced persons and hopes among those in Azerbaijan who had fled Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the 1992-1994 armed conflict. The economy of the area, always marginal as Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous, largely rural area is largely destroyed. However, the area had highly symbolic meaning for both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Ilham Aliyev

The Group of Minsk, created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe after the 1992-1994 conflict has 11 States as members including Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Minsk Group has three co-chairs: Russia, France, the USA. The Group as a whole rarely meets. Rather it is diplomats from Russia and France who have met in bilateral meetings with representatives from Azerbaijan or Armenia. There has been little progress in finding confidence-building measures and virtually none on forms of cooperation.

Today, this armed conflict in an area that is troubled in a number of places may be a warning sign that negotiations in good faith should be a priority. The Association of World Citizens has been concerned with the tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh since the eve of the breakup of the USSR in 1991. We need to remain alert at possible efforts at Track II diplomacy or other forms of nongovernmental mediation.

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

Building Stronger Conflict Prevention Networks

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on November 9, 2020 at 1:44 PM

By René Wadlow

As we reflect on current armed conflicts on which the Association of World Citizens (AWC) has proposed measures for conflict resolution – Nagorno-Karabakh, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine-Donetsk-Lugansk-Russia – we ask ourselves if we are to be overwhelmed by an endless chain of regional wars capable of devastating entire countries or will we help build the structures for the resolution of armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith. Can we help build stronger conflict prevention networks?

In each of these current conflicts, there is a mix of underlying causes: ethnic tensions, social inequality, environmental degradation, and regional rivalries. In each conflict, there were warning signs and a building of tensions prior to the outbreak of armed conflict. This was particularly true in Syria where there were four months of nonviolent protests and local organizing for reforms before violence began. Not enough was done by external nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to strengthen and protect these nonviolent reform movements in Syria. Given the complexity of conflict situations and the often-short time between the signs of tensions and the outbreak of violence, external peacebuilding organizations have to be able to move quickly to support local civil society efforts.

In each of these four situations, the degree of civil society organizations differs. We need to look carefully at the different currents within the society to see what groups we might be able to work with and to what degree of influence they may have on governmental action. Governments tend to react in the same ways. Governments cling to the belief that there can be simple security-related solutions to complex challenges as we see these days with the current use of police and military methods by the government of Belarus.

There is often a pervading mistrust between the central government and outlying territories. Such mistrust cannot be overcome by external NGOs. We can, however, reflect with local groups on how lines of communication can be established or strengthened.

Preventing the eruption of disputes into full-scale hostilities is not an easy task, but its difficulties pale beside those of ending the fighting once it has started. NGOs need to have active channels of communication with multinational governmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). NGOs may have an easier time to be in contact with local nongovernmental forces in the conflict States as both the UN and the OSCE are bound by the decisions of governments.

Growing resource scarcity and environmental degradation, the depletion of fresh water and arable land played an important role in exacerbating conflicts in Yemen. The armed conflict has made things much worse. There is now a growing world-wide recognition of the environmental-conflict linkage. Thus, groups concerned with the defense and restoration of the environment need to become part of the network of conflict resolution efforts. There is much to be done. Building stronger conflict prevention networks should be a vital priority.

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

Velimir Khlebnikov (November 9, 1885 – June 28, 1922): The Futurian and World Citizen

In Being a World Citizen, Cultural Bridges, Literature, Poetry, Spirituality, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace on November 9, 2020 at 1:02 PM

By René Wadlow

Let Planet Earth be sovereign at last. Planet Earth alone will be our sovereign song.

Velimir Khlebnikov.

Velimir Khlebnikov was a shooting star of Russian culture in the years just prior to the start of the First World War. He was part of a small creative circle of poets, painters and writers who wanted to leave the old behind and to set the stage for the future such as the abstract painter Kazimir Malevich. They called themselves “The Futurians”. They were interested in being avenues for the Spirit which they saw at work in peasent life and in shamans’ visions; however, the Spirit was very lacking in the works of the ruling nobility and commercial elite.

As Charlotte Douglas notes in her study of Khlebnikov “To tune mankind into harmony with the universe – that was Khlebnikov’s vocation. He wanted to make the Planet Earth fit for the future, to free it from the deadly gravitational pull of everyday lying and pretense, from the tyranny of petty human instincts and the slow death of comfort and complacency.” (1)

Khlebnikov wrote “Old ones! You are holding back the fast advance of humanity. You are preventing the boiling locomotive of youth from crossing the mountain that lies in its path. We have broken the locks and see what your freight cars contain: tombstones for the young.”

The Futurian movement as such lasted from 1911 until 1915 when its members were dispersed by the start of the World War, the 1917 revolutions and the civil war. Khlebnikov died in 1922 just as Stalin was consolidating his power. Stalin would put an end to artistic creativity.

The Futurians were concerned that Russia should play a creative role in the world, but they were also world citizens who wanted to create a world-wide network of creative scientists, artists and thinkers who would have a strong impact on world events. As Khlebnikov wrote in his manifesto To the Artists of the World We have long been searching for a program that would act something like a lens capable of focusing the combined rays of the work of the artist and the work of the thinker toward a single point where they might join in a common task and be able to ignite even the cold essence of ice and turn it to a blazing bonfire. Such a program, the lens capable of directing together your fiery courage and the cold intellect of the thinkers has now been discovered.”

The appeal for such a creative, politically relevant network was written in early 1919 when much of the world was starting to recover from World War I. However, Russia was sinking into a destructive civil war. The Futurians were dispersed to many different areas and were never able to create such a network. The vision of a new network is now a challenge that we must meet.

Note

1) Charlotte Douglas (Ed.) The King of Time: Velimir Khlebnikov (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985)

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

Reignited Armed Conflict Between Armenia and Azerbaijan: Could Violence Spread?

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, NGOs, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on September 30, 2020 at 8:04 PM

By René Wadlow

On September 27, 2020, military forces from Azerbaijan moved into six villages held by Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh area. The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, warned in a television broadcast that the two countries were “on the edge of war with unforeseeable consequences”. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, declared martial law and called up reserve military. There have been calls for a ceasefire from Russia; however, Russia is generally thought to favor Armenia. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has repeated his support for Azerbaijan.

Nikol Pashinyan

On September 30, 2020, the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed a unanimous resolution calling on Armenia and Azerbaijan to halt fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and urgently resume talks without preconditions. There have been previous talks held under the leadership of the “Minsk Group” (Russia, France, USA), founded in 1994, of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). However, these talks have not modified the ever-tense situation. On September 29, the Association of World Citizens sent an Appeal to the authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan for a ceasefire and the start of negotiations in good faith.

Ilham Aliyev

The Nagorno-Karabakh issue arises from the post-Revolution, post-Civil War period of Soviet history when Joseph Stalin was Commissioner for Nationalities. Stalin came from neighboring Georgia and knew the Caucasus well. His policy was a classic ‘divide and rule’ carried out with method so that national/ethnic groups would need to depend on the central government in Moscow for protection. Thus, in 1922, the frontiers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia were hammered out of what was the Transcaucasia Federative Republic. (1)

Stepanakert, the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh. (C) Kylar Loussikian

Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian majority area, was given a certain autonomy within Azerbaijan but was geographically cut off from Armenia. Likewise, an Azeri majority area, Nakhichevan, was created as an autonomous republic within Armenia but cut off geographically from Azerbaijan. Thus, both enclaves had to look to Moscow for protection. This was especially true for the Armenians. Many Armenians living in what had been historic Armenia, but which had become part of the Ottoman Empire, had been killed during the First World War by the Turks. Armenians living in “Soviet Armenia” had relatives and friends among those killed by the Turks, creating a permanent sense of vulnerability and insecurity. Russia was considered a historical ally of Armenia.

The flag of the Flag of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.

These mixed administrative units worked well enough or, one should say, there were few public criticisms allowed until 1988, when the whole Soviet model of nationalities and republics started to come apart. In both Armenia and Azerbaijan, nationalistic voices were raised. A strong “Karabakh Committee” began demanding that Nagorno-Karabakh be attached to Armenia. In Azerbaijan, anti-Armenian sentiment was set aflame. Many Armenians who were working in the oil-related economy of Baku were under tension and started leaving. This was followed somewhat later by real anti-Armenian pogroms. Some 160,000 Armenians left Azerbaijan for Armenia and others went to live in Russia.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union and the independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan, tensions focused on Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1992, full-scale armed conflict started in and around Nagorno-Karabakh and went on for two years. During the two years of fighting, 1992-1994, at least 20,000 persons were killed and more than one million persons displaced. In 1994, there was a ceasefire largely negotiated by Russia. Nagorno-Karabakh has declared its independence as a separate State. No other State – including Armenia – has recognized this independent status, but in practice, Nagorno-Karabakh is a de facto State with control over its population and its own military forces. Some in Nagorno-Karabakh hope that the country might become the “Liechtenstein of the Caucasus”.

Azerbaijani refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh during the 1992-1994 war.

Armed violence has broken out before, especially in 2016. Many in Nagorno-Karabakh do not want to be at the mercy of decisions made in distant centers of power but to decide their own course of action. However, the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent State raises the issue of the status of other de facto ministates of the area, such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova.

Finding appropriate administrative structures which will permit real trans-frontier cooperation between Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia will not be easy, but it is a crucial step if peace is to be established. The Association of World Citizens has proposed forms of con-federation and trans-frontier mechanisms in such cases and will continue to make such proposals for Nagorno-Karabakh.

Note

1) For a good analysis of Stalin’s nationality policies, see Helene Carrere d’Encausse, The Great Challenge: Nationalities and the Bolshevik State 1917-1930 (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1992)

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

PRESS RELEASE – 20200911/Belarus/Democracy/Human Rights

In Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Democracy, Europe, Human Rights, NGOs, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union on September 11, 2020 at 11:42 AM

Press Release


Paris, September 11, 2020

*

LATEST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN BELARUS:

WHEN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS RUN FOR THEIR LIVES OR “DISAPPEAR”,

DEMOCRACY CAN NEVER BE WELL SERVED

*

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) has expressed deep concern over the crackdown on leaders of the opposition to the July 9, 2020 election of President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. Many consider the election to have been marked by serious irregularities and false counting of votes.


Members of the nonviolent opposition coordinating council have been forced into exile such as the opposition’s presidential candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, to Lithuania. Others, such as Maria Kalesnikova, were taken by masked security agents to the frontier with Ukraine.


Ms. Kalesnikova ripped her passport so that she could not enter Ukraine and be exiled. Other members of the opposition have “disappeared”, no doubt held by security forces in undisclosed locations. The AWC has specifically highlighted the abuses of such “disappearances” and the need for continuing efforts against such abuses: https://awcungeneva.com/2020/08/30/enforced-disappearances-ngo-efforts-to-continue/.

Violences contre les femmes : Qui a peur de la Convention d’Istanbul ?

In Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Democracy, Europe, Human Rights, Social Rights, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, United Nations, Women's Rights, World Law on September 8, 2020 at 11:22 AM

Par Bernard J. Henry

« You can kill the dreamer, but you cannot kill the dream », « Vous pouvez tuer le rêveur, mais vous ne pouvez pas tuer le rêve ». Le plus célèbre « rêveur » de l’histoire, Martin Luther King, Jr., qui avait dit à la foule rassemblée devant le Lincoln Memorial de Washington, le 28 août 1963, « I have a dream », « J’ai un rêve », se savait menacé. Il se disait ainsi conscient que d’aucuns saisiraient la première occasion pour l’assassiner, ce qu’ils ont fait le 4 avril 1968 à Memphis. Jamais le « rêve » ne s’est éteint, et l’année 2020 aux Etats-Unis a montré que plus il manquait à se concrétiser, plus il se transformait en cauchemar.

Lorsqu’une personne incarne à ce point sa cause, est-il toujours permis de penser que, pour peu que cette personne disparaisse, la cause lui survivra toujours ? La question se pose désormais en France, depuis le décès le 28 août dernier de Gisèle Halimi, légendaire avocate devenue femme politique puis diplomate et, depuis le Procès de Bobigny qui la fit connaître en 1973, défenseure emblématique de La cause des femmes.

S’il n’a jamais été aussi vigoureux, depuis l’affaire Harvey Weinstein ainsi que l’apparition des hashtags #BalanceTonPorc et #MeToo, le féminisme ne fait pourtant toujours pas l’unanimité. En Europe, certains chefs d’Etat semblent même tant le craindre qu’ils sont prêts à amputer la loi nationale d’un instrument majeur contre les violences liées au genre, au premier rang desquelles les violences conjugales. Quels sont ces dirigeants européens qui rêvent d’un retour en arrière et que cherchent-ils ainsi ? Pourquoi vouloir éloigner encore davantage le « rêve » de Gisèle Halimi de la réalité ?

La Convention d’Istanbul, instrument juridique et engagement politique

A quoi, d’abord, ressemblerait cette amputation ? Quel est cet instrument qui leur fait si peur ? Il s’agit d’un traité, plus précisément d’une convention du Conseil de l’Europe, et comme bien des conventions, celle-ci porte un nom barbare pour les non-juristes, alors le grand public préfère la désigner selon la ville où elle a été adoptée. La Convention du Conseil de l’Europe sur la prévention et la lutte contre la violence à l’égard des femmes et la violence domestique, adoptée le 11 mai 2011 à Istanbul (Turquie), est communément appelée la Convention d’Istanbul.

Entrée en vigueur le 1er mai 2014, elle compte à ce jour trente-quatre Etats Parties et, en tout, quarante-six signataires dont l’un n’est pas un Etat, puisqu’il s’agit de l’Union européenne en tant qu’institution supranationale. Instrument de son temps, la Convention fait référence, outre son illustre aînée la Convention européenne de Sauvegarde des Droits de l’Homme et des Libertés fondamentales, tout à la fois aux classiques du genre, tels que le Pactes internationaux relatifs aux droits civils et politiques ainsi qu’aux droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, bien sûr la Convention des Nations Unies sur l’élimination de toutes les formes de discrimination à l’égard des femmes, la fameuse CEDAW, et la Convention des Nations Unies relative aux droits de l’enfant, mais aussi des textes d’adoption plus contemporaine comme la Convention des Nations Unies relative aux droits des personnes handicapées, datant de 2006, et le Statut de Rome de la Cour pénale internationale.

La Convention justifie son existence non pas seulement en droit, mais aussi en fait, invoquant le « volume croissant de la jurisprudence de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme qui établit des normes importantes en matière de violence à l’égard des femmes », et affirmant reconnaître que « la réalisation de jure et de facto de l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes est un élément clé dans la prévention de la violence à l’égard des femmes ». La richesse et la pertinence particulière de la Convention proviennent pourtant de ce qu’elle puise sa force dans la sociologie même, son Préambule reprenant plusieurs réalités de première importance, tant historiques que contemporaines, telles que :

« la violence à l’égard des femmes est une manifestation des rapports de force historiquement inégaux entre les femmes et les hommes ayant conduit à la domination et à la discrimination des femmes par les hommes, privant ainsi les femmes de leur pleine émancipation »,

« la nature structurelle de la violence à l’égard des femmes est fondée sur le genre, et que la violence à l’égard des femmes est un des mécanismes sociaux cruciaux par lesquels les femmes sont maintenues dans une position de subordination par rapport aux hommes »,

« les femmes et les filles sont souvent exposées à des formes graves de violence telles que la violence domestique, le harcèlement sexuel, le viol, le mariage forcé, les crimes commis au nom du prétendu ‘honneur’ et les mutilations génitales, lesquelles constituent une violation grave des droits humains des femmes et des filles et un obstacle majeur à la réalisation de l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes »,

« les violations constantes des droits de l’homme en situation de conflits armés affectant la population civile, et en particulier les femmes, sous la forme de viols et de violences sexuelles généralisés ou systématiques et la potentialité d’une augmentation de la violence fondée sur le genre aussi bien pendant qu’après les conflits »,

« les femmes et les filles sont exposées à un risque plus élevé de violence fondée sur le genre que ne le sont les hommes »,

« la violence domestique affecte les femmes de manière disproportionnée et que les hommes peuvent également être victimes de violence domestique »,

« les enfants sont des victimes de la violence domestique, y compris en tant que témoins de violence au sein de la famille ».

La Convention n’est donc pas un traité de plus, venant s’ajouter à une liste déjà longue lisible des seuls juristes. Elle est un authentique engagement, non pas seulement judiciaire mais aussi politique, du Conseil de l’Europe contre la violence envers les femmes sous les multiples formes qu’elle peut revêtir.

Pour un Etat Partie, s’en retirer ne peut qu’être lourd de sens et tout autant de conséquences. Alors, qui parmi les chefs d’Etat européens peut vouloir en prendre le risque, et quelle peut être la justification d’un acte, même s’il reste hypothétique, aussi indéfendable ?

Pologne et Turquie, même combat – contre les femmes

Les deux pays concernés n’ont en commun ni géographie, ni langue, ni culture, ni religion. Mais aujourd’hui, une tentative identique de leurs dirigeants de déposséder leurs citoyennes de la protection européenne de leurs droits les unit pour le pire.

Le premier coup contre la Convention est venu du nord de l’Europe, d’un pays slave, majoritairement catholique et qui fut pendant la Guerre Froide une dictature communiste du Pacte de Varsovie. Varsovie, qui est aussi la capitale de ce pays puisqu’il s’agit de la Pologne.

Le 26 juillet, le Conseil de l’Europe s’alarmait publiquement de l’annonce du gouvernement du Président Andrzej Duda de son intention de dénoncer la Convention. Marija Pejčinović Burić, la Secrétaire générale du Conseil de l’Europe, déclarait par écrit : « Il serait fort regrettable que la Pologne quitte la Convention d’Istanbul, et ce retrait marquerait un grave recul dans la protection des femmes contre la violence en Europe ».

Zbigniew Ziobro

Devant le tollé, le parti Droit et Justice (PiS) au pouvoir ne tardait pas à se distancier du Ministre de la Justice Zbigniew Ziobro, auteur de l’annonce et représentant d’un parti de droite minoritaire de la coalition gouvernementale. Mais sans désavouer sur le fond le ministre et sans affirmer de soutien à la Convention, précisément jugée trop laxiste par le Gouvernement polonais.

En août, c’était le tour du premier pays à avoir signé et ratifié la Convention de parler à présent de la révoquer, le pays même où a vu le jour la Convention d’Istanbul, donc la Turquie. De nombreux analystes y voyaient un coup de barre à droite de la majorité gouvernementale islamo-conservatrice du Parti de la Justice et du Développement (AKP). Reçep Tayyip Erdogan, Président turc et, à l’époque de l’adoption de la Convention, Premier Ministre, déclarait néanmoins quant à lui qu’« un accord, une réglementation ou une idéologie qui sape les fondations de la famille n’est pas légitime ».

Seul le Parlement, en vacances jusqu’au 1er octobre, pourra décider du retrait ou non la Convention. Et le décès d’une grève de la faim, le 27 août, de l’avocate Ebru Timtik augure mal de la volonté des dirigeants turcs de sauver leurs administrées de violences qu’elles n’ont pas à subir.

Ebru Timtik

Que les partis conservateurs religieux, quelle que soit la religion qu’ils invoquent, n’aient jamais été les plus grands défenseurs des droits des femmes, ce n’est pas nouveau et encore moins secret. De tels partis savent pourtant, du moins devraient savoir, que risquer de perdre le vote des femmes n’est pas et ne sera jamais une stratégie politique sensée, mais bel et bien suicidaire. De là à en déduire que les femmes ne seraient pas la cible, du moins ultime, de ces menaces de départ de la Convention d’Istanbul, il n’y a qu’un pas. Et le franchir mène à une destination inattendue.

Le sexisme en cheval de Troie de la LGBTphobie

Derrière les attaques contre les femmes, dans les deux pays, la véritable cible, c’est la féminité. Non pas la vraie, mais une féminité fantasmée, crainte, maudite, celle qu’incarne aux yeux des conservateurs polonais comme turcs l’homosexualité, et au-delà, toute personne LGBT.

Car forcément, pour un conservateur, l’homosexualité est plus grave encore si elle est masculine puisque, dans son idée, elle féminise l’homme qui s’en réclame, et dès lors, foin du modèle viril patriarcal qu’exalte le conservatisme, cette abhorrée « féminité masculine » corrompt la famille et ronge toute la société.

Un certain nombre de villes de Pologne n’ont rien trouvé de plus intelligent que de se déclarer “LGBT-free”, “Libérées de l’idéologie LGBT”. Elles ont subi à juste titre la colère de leurs villes jumelles à l’étranger, de l’Union européenne, et parfois même de la justice polonaise.

Dès l’époque de son adoption, Zbigniew Ziobro avait été sans équivoque au sujet de la Convention, puisqu’il l’avait dénoncée comme « une invention, une création féministe qui vise à justifier l’idéologie gay ». Le ministre qu’il est devenu n’allait pas se priver de lui infliger le sort qu’elle mérite à ses yeux. Même coupé dans son élan par ses partenaires gouvernementaux, il en demeure capable.

En Turquie, l’anathème contre les personnes LGBT est identique, et c’est de Numan Kurtulmus, Vice-président de l’AKP, qu’il provient sous sa forme la plus explicite. Pour lui, la Convention est « aux mains des LGBT et d’éléments radicaux ». Ce à quoi ne s’attendait certainement pas, en revanche, le parti gouvernemental turc, c’est le soutien apporté à la Convention par l’Association Femmes et Démocratie, notoirement influente et qui a pour Vice-présidente Sümeyye Erdogan Bayraktar, la propre fille du chef de l’Etat.

Sümeyye Erdogan Bayraktar

Voir en la protection légale des femmes contre la violence une présumée manipulation politique des personnes LGBT, c’est tout au mieux du fantasme, au pire de l’homophobie et du sexisme morbides. Même s’il serait naïf de s’étonner de telles saillies haineuses de la part de conservateurs, comment accepter que ce qui est déjà inacceptable en parole devienne la clé qui verrouillera Polonaises et Turques hors de la Convention d’Istanbul ? A l’Europe comme au monde entier, Varsovie et Ankara en demandent ici trop.

Soutien aux femmes de Pologne et de Turquie

Et pendant que les deux gouvernements conservateurs laissent leurs fantasmes dicter leur politique, ailleurs en Europe, dans le nord scandinave, le Danemark met enfin sa législation sur le viol en conformité avec la Convention en l’acceptant enfin pour ce qu’il est – l’absence de consentement. Polonaises et Turques sont vent debout contre la menace. L’Association of World Citizens les soutient et restera à leurs côtés, de même qu’aux côtés des personnes LGBT si sournoisement visées à travers elles par ces intolérables politiques rétrogrades.

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

Migration in a Globalized World Economy

In Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Europe, Fighting Racism, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa, Migration, NGOs, Refugees, Social Rights, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on December 21, 2018 at 12:12 AM

By René Wadlow

The present era of globalization of the economy is not new, but as a term and also as an organizing concept for policy making, it dates from 1991 and the formal end of the Soviet zone of influence which had some of the structures of an alternative trading system.

Earlier, dating from the 1970s the term used was “interdependence”. The emphasis was on economic relations but there was also some emphasis on cultural and political factors. In a July 1975 speech, United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who had an academic background and kept himself informed of theoretical trends said “All of us – allies and rivals, new nations and old nations, the rich and the poor – constitute one world community. The interdependence on our planet is becoming the central fact of our diplomacy… The reality is that the world economy is a single global system of trade and monetary relations on which hinges the development of all our economies. An economic system thrives if all who take part in it thrive.”

Interdependence was to help build a world society based on equality, justice, and mutual benefit. As Secretary Kissinger said the need was “to transform the concept of world community from a slogan into an attitude.”

Interdependence was to be articulated into policies leading to disarmament, peaceful change, improved welfare especially for the poorest and respect for human rights. However, in practice the continuing USA-USSR tensions, questions of access to oil especially in the Middle East and the difficulties of establishing rules and controls for the world trade system kept “interdependence” as a slogan and not as a framework for policies and decisions of major governments.

The term “globalization” has progressively replaced that of “interdependence” The concept of globalization continues the interdependence focus on global economic linkages but adds an emphasis on the organization of social life on a global scale and the growth of a global consciousness. Global consciousness is the essential starting point of world citizenship. Globalization is a socio-economic process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural patterns recede and in which people become increasingly away that these geographic constraints are receding.

The rapid pace of globalization requires that research and practice keep up with the speed of changes in order to reduce unnecessary risks and to provide legitimacy and confidence in the world system. However, within the world society – as within national societies – there are many different interests. At the world level, there are not yet the web of consensus-building techniques found in public and private institutions at the national level.

There were recently two intergovernmental conferences being held at the same time which indicated the possibilities and the difficulties of reaching agreement among most of the States of th World: COP 24 held in Katowice, Poland devoted to issues of climate change and the conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, held in Marrakech, Morocco.

The COP 24 had the advantage of building on the 2015 Paris Climate Accord and on the serious scientific research carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Katowice conference was to develop a common system of rules, reporting and measurement for the Paris Climate Accord. This “rule book” was largely accomplished. A sub-theme was to show that the international spirit which had led to the Paris Agreement was still alive and well despite criticism and a lack of visible progress.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is the first of its kind, although there are earlier agreements on the status of refugees. In many countries, there has been sharp debates on immigration policy – often with more heat than light. Some States have already indicated that they will not sign the Compact even though it has been repeatedly pointed out that the Compact is not a treaty and thus not legally binding. The Compact sets out aspirations and strengthens some of the processes already in practice. The representatives of some States which signed indicated that they will be “selective” in the processes which they will put into practice.

Blue: Will adopt the Compact, Red: Will not adopt the Compact, Yellow: Considering not adopting, Gray: Undetermined

There was an agreement to hold a review conference in 2022. There is a growing tendency in inter-governmental treaties to set a review conference every four or five years to analyze implementation and the changing political and economic situation.

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) has been stressing for some years the importance of migration issues. Migration is likely to increase as climate changes have their impact. Thus, the AWC calls upon Nongovernmental Organizations to focus cooperatively and strongly on migration and the standards of the Global Compact.

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

The Disintegrating Donbass. Is there a future for a con-federal Ukraine?

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, Human Rights, NGOs, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on November 27, 2017 at 8:22 AM

By René Wadlow

The flight on November 23, 2017 of Igor Plotinitsky, President of the separatist Ukrainian area of the Lugansk People’s Republic is a sign of the continuing difficulties of developing appropriate forms of constitutional government in the Ukraine. Plotinitsky was in open conflict with his “Minister of the Interior” Igor Konet whom he had fired but who refused to give up his position. It is reported that military troops are moving from Donetsk, the other People’s Republic of the Donbass, and perhaps other troops from Russia but without signs of identification.

Much of the fate of the two Donbass People’s Republics is in the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he is unwilling to take public responsibility. Some have argued that two people’s republics in Donbass is one too many and that the two republics will be unified under the leadership of President Alexandre Zakhartchenko of Donetsk. Meanwhile the Ukrainian government has reinforced its troops on the frontier with the separatist zone.

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The flag of the “Republic of Donetsk” as written in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet

Officially the Donbass is under an agreement signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015 among Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine acting under a mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The agreement called for a ceasefire, local elections, a reintegration into the State of Ukraine but with constitutional reforms giving greater local autonomy. In practice, the Minsk accords have never been carried out.

The new crisis may return to the status quo of continuing tensions, occasional artillery exchanges, a lack of any effective cooperation, and a continuing economic decline. It is estimated that some 10,000 persons have been killed in the conflict since April 2014. However, there is a danger that the conflict slips out of control, and violence increases. The secretariat of the OSCE must be on high alert.

A crisis can at times be a moment to reconsider the possibilities and to seek a more long-lasting agreement. At the start of the Ukraine conflict in April 2014, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) had proposed the creation of a Ukrainian confederation with decentralization, respect for cultural autonomy, economic cooperation among the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the European Union. Some of the ideas are reflected in the Minsk agreement, but distrust is so high that no practical steps have been taken.

The current crisis may serve as a reminder of how dangerous a disintegrating Donbass can be. An alternative would be to study seriously the possibilities of a con-federal Ukraine.

The AWC has a longstanding interest in developing appropriate constitutional structures for States facing the possibilities of prolonged or intensified armed conflicts. In the recent past, we have proposed con-federal structures to deal with conflict situations in Mali, Ukraine, Myanmar, Libya and Cyprus as well as Kurdistan which involves both the structure of Iraq as well as positive cooperation among Kurds living in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.

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OSCE Special Monitoring Mission members monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine

Con-federation and autonomy are broad concepts, capable of covering a multitude of visions extending from very limited local initiatives to complete control over everything other than foreign policy. Autonomy can therefore incorporate all situations between nearly total subordination to the center to nearly total independence. The ways in which the elements and patterns of autonomy are put together requires political imagination, far-sighted political leadership, a willingness to compromise, and constant dialogue.

In none of the six situations on which we have made proposals have we found much of a climate for meaningful negotiations although there have been formal negotiation processes carried out in the Ukraine case by the OSCE and on Cyprus by the United Nations.

Negotiations means a joint undertaking by disputants with the aim of settling their disputes on the basis of mutual compromise. Negotiation is a basic political decision-making process, a way of finding common interests, to facilitate compromise without loss of what each considers to be essential objectives. For the parties in a conflict to seek a compromise requires a certain climate – an informed public opinion that will accept the compromise and build better future relations on the agreement.

The challenges posed by the conflicts in Mali, Ukraine, Myanmar, Libya, Cyprus and Kurdistan need to be measured against the broad concept of security. Barry Buzan of the University of Copenhagen sets out four types of security. “Political security concerns the organizational stability of states, systems of government, and the ideologies that give them legitimacy. Economic security concerns access to the resources, finances and markets necessary to sustain acceptable levels of welfare. Societal security concerns the sustainability within acceptable conditions of the evolution of traditional patterns of language, culture, religions and customs. Environmental security concerns the maintenance of the local and the planetary biosphere as the essential support system on which all other human enterprises depend.”

One of the difficulties in each situation is what I would call “the frozen image of the other”. In each case, the group or groups demanding new State structures are seen in the minds of the current government authorities as being the same people with the same aspirations as when the demands were first made: the Karen of Myanmar today are the same as the Karen of the Union of Burma in 1947; the Tuareg of north Mali today are the same as those calling for the creation of an independent State in 1940 when the withdrawal of French troops to Dakar had left a political vacuum.

However, there have been evolutions in policy proposals and in the level of education and experience of new leadership of those demanding autonomy. Yet “frozen images” exist and need to be overcome within all decision-makers involved. The modification of “frozen images” is one of the tasks of nongovernmental organizations and Track II diplomatic efforts.

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

March 8: Start of the Russian Revolution

In Being a World Citizen, Social Rights, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, Women's Rights, World Law on March 8, 2017 at 9:59 AM

MARCH 8: START OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
By René Wadlow

March 8 – International Women’s Day – was the start of the Russian Revolution that ended the rule of the Tsar. (It was February 23 by the Russian calendar then in use and so is called the “February Revolution”) International Women’s Day had been first proposed by Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen in 1911, and the idea spread quickly in progressive circles. By 1917, the idea of a day calling for the equality of women within a more just society was well developed among women in Petrograd.

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A former postal stamp of East Germany honoring Clara Zetkin. 

Thus, for International Women’s Day in Petrograd (as St. Petersburg had been renamed in 1914) a group of women factory workers and lower class housewives decided to demonstrate near the buildings of the government to protest food shortages and working conditions. When they crossed from the industrial suburb, they found another demonstration of upper class women who were demanding the right to vote. The two demonstrations joined forces and were soon joined by men, making for the largest demonstration in Petrograd since the 1905 uprising.

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The Tsar, Nicholas II, who was at the front inspecting his troops, telegraphed demanding the restoration of order. General Khabalov, commander of the Petrograd Military District called out the reserve infantry with tan order to shoot if necessary. As the regular army soldiers and officers were already fighting the Germans at the front, the reserves were made of persons who had returned to civilian life and thus had much in common with the demonstrators.

The crowd of demonstrators continued to grow, being joined by people from the countryside coming into the city. On February 26, some of the soldiers following the orders of their officers did fire, causing hundreds of casualties. The loss of life provoked wide-spread mutinies, in effect ending the regime. The door was open to power for the revolutionaries who called themselves the “Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers’ Deputies.” By March 15, Nicholas II had abdicated and was placed under house arrest at his palace.

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Nicholas II, the deposed Tsar of Russia.

The crucial issue facing the new Provisional Government was the war with Germany and the Central Powers. The Germans had allowed their eastern front to fall dormant waiting for the outcome of the Russian turmoil and the possibility of a negotiated end to Russian participation in the war. The Provisional Government reaffirmed its treaty obligations with the Allies (France and England) and pledged to fight on to victory.

The decision to continue the unpopular war provoked new demonstrations. A crisis in the governing cabinet in July 1917 brought in new cabinet members from the Marxist factions. The lawyer Alexander Kerensky shifted from being the minister of justice to the minister of war as well as President of the Council of Ministers. He became the “strong man” of the revised government, yet he could look for new support neither to his right nor to his left.

The radicalization of the country and the divisions of opinion over the war made the survival of the Provisional Cabinet dubious. The Provisional Government faltered and splintered. Lenin in Zürich and Trotsky in New York realized that February was only the beginning of their revolutionary opportunity, which came in early November (October 24) marking the “October Revolution.”

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

World Citizens Demand an End to All Hostile Maneuvers Toward Amnesty International in Russia

In Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Democracy, Europe, Human Rights, International Justice, Solidarity, The former Soviet Union, United Nations, World Law on November 4, 2016 at 9:20 AM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

WORLD CITIZENS DEMAND AN END TO ALL HOSTILE MANEUVERS
TOWARD AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IN RUSSIA

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) is concerned that the headquarters of the Russian Section of Amnesty International, based in Moscow, have been sealed off by the local authorities and the staff have been barred from accessing the premises.

Although the Russian authorities have contended that the rent for the Amnesty headquarters was overdue, the organization has proved that this contention was unfounded, thus demonstrating that the sealing is an unwarranted move and a violation of Amnesty International’s rights as an organization of Human Rights Defenders in line with the provisions of Resolution 53/144 of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

Compliance with international human rights standards can never harm the stability – political, administrative or other, of a given society, only improve it by establishing firm legal, political, and moral norms that every citizen can both claim in defense of their own rights and use to defend the rights of others when necessary.

The AWC calls on the authorities of the Russian Federation and the City of Moscow to restore free access to the headquarters of Amnesty International Russia for its staff, volunteers, members and anyone else who may wish to visit with the consent of the Amnesty leadership there.

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