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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.

Flag_of_the_Donetsk_Republic_(Organisation).svg

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.

OSCE_SMM_monitoring_the_movement_of_heavy_weaponry_in_eastern_Ukraine_(16544233550)

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.

GDR-stamp_Clara_Zetkin_1957_Mi._592

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.

rev01_400

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.

Nicholas_II_by_Boissonnas_&_Eggler_c1909

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.

OSCE: Strains and Renewal in the Security Community

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Democracy, Europe, Human Development, Human Rights, The Balkan Wars, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, World Law on August 2, 2015 at 9:29 AM

OSCE: STRAINS AND RENEWAL IN THE SECURITY COMMUNITY

By René Wadlow

On August 1, 2015, the Helsinki Final Act, the birth certificate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) turned 40. The Final Act signed in Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall was the result of three years of nearly continuous negotiations among government representatives meeting for the most part in Geneva, Switzerland as well as years of promotion of better East-West relations by non-governmental peace builders.

Basically, one can date the planting of the seeds that grew into the OSCE as 1968 in two cities: Paris and Prague. The student-led demonstrations in Paris which sent shock waves to other university centers from California to Berlin showed that under a cover of calm, there was a river of demands and desires for a new life, a more cooperative and creative way of life.

In Prague, the Prague Spring of internal reforms and demands for a freer European society was met by the tanks of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in August. Yet some far-sighted individuals saw that 1968 was a turning point in European history and that there could be no return to the 1945 divisions of two Europes with the Berlin Wall as the symbol of that division. Thus, in small circles, there were those who started asking “Where do we go from here?”

A Security Community: A Halfway House

In 1957, Karl W. Deutsch (1912-1992) published an important study, Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton University Press). Karl Deutsch was born to a German-speaking family in Prague in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His family was active in socialist party politics and became strongly anti-Nazi. Seeing what might happen, Deutsch and his wife left Prague in 1939 for the USA where he became a leading political science-international relations professor. I knew Karl Deutsch in the mid-1950s when I was a university student at Princeton, and he was associated with a Center on International Organization at Princeton. It was there that he was developing his ideas on types of integration among peoples and States and that he coined the term “security community” to mean a group of people “believing that they had come to agreement on at least one point that common social problems must and can be resolved by processes of peaceful change.” For Deutsch, the concept of a security community could be applied to people coming together to form a State: His approach was much used in the 1960s in the study of “nation building” especially of post-colonial African States. A “security community” could also be a stage in relations among States as the term has become common in OSCE thinking. For Deutsch, a security community was a necessary halfway house before the creation of a State or a multi-State federation. Deutsch stressed the need for certain core values which created a sense of mutual identity and loyalty leading to self-restraint and good-faith negotiations to settle disputes.

Core values established and quickly disappeared

During the negotiations leading to the Helsinki Final Act, a set of 10 core values or commitments were set out, sometimes called the OSCE Decalogue after the “Ten Commandments”. “Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty and non-intervention in internal affairs” set the framework as well as the limitations of any efforts toward a supranational institution. The two other related core values were “the territorial integrity of States and the inviolability of frontiers.”

The core values were not so much “values” as a reflection of the status quo of the Cold War years. By the time that the Charter of Paris for a New Europe was signed in November 1990, marking the formal end of the Cold War, “territorial integrity and the inviolability of frontiers” as values had disappeared.

The 1990s saw the breakup of two major European federations − that of Yugoslavia and the USSR. Most of the work of the OSCE has been devoted to the consequences of these two breakups. Yugoslavia broke into nearly all the pieces that it could with a few exceptions. I had been asked to help support the independence of Sandzak, a largely Muslim area in Serbia and part of Montenegro. I declined, having thought at the time that with a few modifications the Yugoslav federation could be kept together. I was wrong, and the OSCE is still confronted by tensions in Kosovo, renewed tensions in Macedonia, an unlikely form of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as social issues of trafficking in persons, arms, drugs and uncontrolled migration.

The breakup of the Soviet Union has led to a full agenda of OSCE activities. The republics of the Soviet Union had been designed by Joseph Stalin, then Commissioner for Nationalities so that each republic could not become an independent State but would have to look to the central government for security and socio-economic development. Each Soviet republic had minority populations though each was given the name of the majority or dominant ethnic group called a “nationality”.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, there have been recurrent issues involving the degree of autonomy of geographic space and the role of minorities. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh had already started before the breakup, but continues to this day with its load of refugees, displaced persons and the calmer but unlikely twin, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Moldova and Transdniestria remain a “frozen conflict” with a 1992 ceasefire agreement. The armed conflicts in Chechnya and violence in Dagestan highlighted conflicts within the Russian Federation. The 2008 “Guns of August” conflict over South Ossetia between Russia and Georgia showed that autonomy issues could slip out of control and have Europe-wide consequences.

(C) Sadankomitea

(C) Sadankomitea

A Cloudy Cristal Ball

Predictions, especially about the future, are always difficult. In 2013, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Leonid Kazhara, said “We wish to contribute to the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community free of dividing lines, conflicts, spheres of influence and zones with different levels of security … There is a pressing need to, first of all, change our mindsets from confrontational thinking to a cooperative approach. I am confident that Ukraine, with its rich history, huge cultural heritage and clear European aspirations is well placed for carrying out this mission.”

Today, Ukraine’s rich history has a new chapter, recreating old dividing lines and spheres of influence. The shift in “ownership” of Crimea indicates that “territorial integrity of States” is a relative commitment. The large number of persons going to Russia as refugees and to west Ukraine as internally-displaced persons recalls the bad days of displacement of the Second World War. NATO has dangerously over-reacted to events in Ukraine.

It is not clear that the current leaders of the 57 governments of the OSCE have the wisdom or skills to lead to a renewal of the Security Community. Yet when one looks at the photos of the government leaders who did sign the Helsinki Final Act 40 years ago, there are few faces indicating wisdom or diplomatic skills so perhaps all is not lost today. Very likely, as in the period between the events of 1968 and the start of government negotiations in 1972, there will need to be nongovernmental voices setting out new ideas and creating bridges between people.

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

Ukraine: The Dogs of the Cold War are Awakened

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Democracy, Europe, Human Rights, International Justice, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on June 12, 2014 at 9:11 PM

UKRAINE: THE DOGS OF THE COLD WAR ARE AWAKENED

By René Wadlow

 

“Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war!”

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

 

The dogs of the Cold War (1945-1990) had largely fallen asleep after the 1990 Summit Conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Paris had put a formal end to the European aspects of the Cold War. A New Europe was the slogan of both governments and non-governmental currents that had been working for a Europe without its East-West divisions symbolized by the Berlin Wall.

Many of us had been involved in the April 1980 European Nuclear Disarmament Appeal, often shortened to END, of which the English historian E.P. Thompson was a leading spokesman. Mient Jan Faber of the Dutch Inter-Church Peace Council was the link to those working within church/religious groups on the same lines. Obviously, the level of arms − and thus disarmament − was not the only aspect of the moves necessary to move beyond the Cold War embodied in bureaucratic, and military-industrial forms.

There was a necessary ‘healing process’ − a need to remove the barbed wire in people’s minds and hearts.

The hope was that moving beyond the Cold War would become a citizens’ search for common projects, bringing together widening constituencies in a direct discourse beyond Cold War agendas and the media’s framing of the debates.

Many of us met in Prague in what was still Czechoslovakia in October 1990 for the creation of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly with an aim of a democratic integration of Europe. Vaclav Havel who had become Head of State spoke to the opening session on the power of acting from principle guided by our consciences to build a thoroughly new Europe undivided into blocs.

Vaclav Havel (1936-2011), the Czechoslovakian dissident playwright who in 1989 led the country's 'Velvet Revolution', eventually becoming President of Czechoslovakia. From 1992 to 2003 Havel was President of the Czech Republic after Czechoslovakia was eventually dissolved.

Vaclav Havel (1936-2011), the Czechoslovakian dissident playwright who in 1989 led the country’s ‘Velvet Revolution’, eventually becoming President of Czechoslovakia. From 1992 to 2003 Havel was President of the Czech Republic after Czechoslovakia was dissolved. (C) John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

“Helsinki Citizens” had been chosen by the organizers as the name because Helsinki had been the city which saw the formal start of the governmental process in 1975 leading first to a certain stabilization of the European Cold War structure and progressively to tension-reduction under the title of “détente”. Since much of the governmental detente seemed to be aimed only at making a more stable status quo, citizen activists spoke of “detente from below”, as going beyond the current structures.

The visions of a better world differed among peace, green, and human rights groups. However all agreed that the future forms of Europe was beyond the current status quo.

I had gone to Prague already concerned with ethnic-nationalities tensions. These tensions were colored by the Cold War but also had non-Cold War roots as seen in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the then USSR. Through contacts in Geneva, I had become concerned by Nagorno-Karabakh and thought that good faith negotiations could lead to a resolution of the conflict. I was also concerned with the growing tensions in Yugoslavia. My paper read at the Prague conference “Future of Europe” was published in the Belgrade Review of International Affairs in December 1990.

Since 1990, the conflicts linked to the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the conflicts of Abkhazia-South Ossetia-Georgia, and Transnistra-Moldova all confirm my analysis that the key problem of our time is the manifestation of narrow nationalism. This narrow nationalist ideology must be countered by a strong cosmopolitan-world citizen ideology and practice.

The hope at Prague in 1990 was to build a pan-European movement participating in public debates, offering opinions and discussing alternatives in each country but also able to come together and act in a conflict resolution way in times of strong tensions and armed conflicts. There were a few efforts of the Helsinki groups during the Yugoslav conflicts, but they were not coordinated nor of massive size. I had participated in some of these undertakings at the UN in Geneva when the conference on Yugoslavia was in session there.

The Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, which houses the Headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (C) Bernard Henry

The Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, which houses the Headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (C) Bernard Henry/AWC

Since 1990, we have seen the rise in some European countries of hard line nationalist groups − often Right wing and some with Neo-Fascist aspects. This rise was illustrated by the May 25, 2014 elections to the European Parliament. The entry of an additional number of narrow nationalists will not have much impact on the way the European Parliament operates, but it will give the nationalists a media platform and a degree of legitimacy in their home country. There has not been a significant rise in cosmopolitan-world citizen movements, although cosmopolitanism as an intellectual framework has become increasingly common.

Without a well-organized movement of pan-European peace-green-human rights movements, “Europe from Below” has been unable to act in the Ukraine crisis. Individual governments, in particular Russia and the USA, have taken a highly visible role. The media in both countries dusted off the Cold War vocabulary and political analysis.

Talk of a “New Cold War” has been common. The OSCE − with Switzerland as President for 2014 − has called for restraint and negotiations. There has been no equivalent “high profile” efforts on the part of non-governmental groups. Today, there is no Vaclav Havel to serve as a bridge of respect among both governments and non-governmental movements. Certainly, the dogs of the Cold War have awakened to remind us that they are still there. In addition, new nationalist, and authoritarian tendencies are emerging. Although these nationalist movements are sometimes led by comic figures, they need to be taken seriously.

Counter voices also need to awaken, and the ability for nongovernmental conflict resolution groups to act must be strengthened.

 

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

Ukraine: What Future for ‘Self-Rule’?

In Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, The former Soviet Union, The Search for Peace on May 24, 2014 at 7:59 PM

UKRAINE: WHAT FUTURE FOR “SELF-RULE”?

By René Wadlow

 

On the eve of the election for President in Ukraine, the heated tensions among factions within the country and between the Russian Federation, the European Union (EU) and the USA seem to be cooling. Talk of a new ‘Cold War’, of economic sanctions, of Russian or NATO imperialism is lessening. More rational discussion on the structures of the Ukrainian State and its relations with other countries now seems possible.

Ukraine faces real internal problems: political, economic and social. There is a need for dialogue, trust-building, and reconciliation within the country − all stepping stones to stable internal peace. The earlier situation in Ukraine did not lend itself to calm considerations of basic orientations or for compromises.

In an April 15 report, the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights had warned that “Misinformation, propaganda and incitement to hatred need be urgently countered in Ukraine to avoid further escalation of tensions in the country… It is critical for the Government to prioritize respect for diversity, inclusiveness and equal participation of all − including minorities in Ukraine.”

One possibility of lowering tensions on a longer-term basis is to start serious discussions on a federal-decentralized government structure that would not divide the country but would foster local and regional autonomy. World Citizens who have a long history of reflection on federalist approaches as elements of conflict resolution have warned against simplified concepts in the Ukraine discussions. Federalism is not a first step to the disintegration of the Ukraine. But it is not a “magic solution” either.

When Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in late 1991 the country's Russian community did not have any objections. However, since the eviction of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, oddly enough, many of Ukraine's Russians have risen up against Kiev and demanded reunification with Russia. (C) (AFP / Genya Savilov)

When Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in late 1991 the country’s Russian community did not express any objections. However, since the eviction of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, oddly enough, many of Ukraine’s Russians have risen up against Kiev and demanded reunification with Russia. (C) (AFP / Genya Savilov)

Factions in eastern Ukraine decided to hold a referendum on Sunday 11 May in a hastily organized way, with little if any public debate on the consequences of the referendum and strong pressure to vote “yes” on the only option presented. The central government, the EU and the USA have all indicated that they considered the referendum and its results as not valid − in fact, illegal. President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation had suggested on the eve of the referendum that it be postponed or not held. However, after the referendum, the Russian government indicated that the referendum showed the “will of the people” and that Russia would abide by the results.

The referendum was organized in only part of eastern Ukraine, in what is newly proclaimed as the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. The question posed concerned “yes” or “no” on the Russian word samostoyatelnost which can be translated as “self rule”. Since there had been no real public discussion, the term could mean − and did mean − different things to different people − everything from greater autonomy within the existing constitution of Ukraine but with a greater recognition of Russian language and culture, autonomy within a to-be-created new Ukrainian federation, an independent state along the lines of Abkhazia, formerly part of neighboring Georgia, or a willingness to join the Russian Federation on the model of Crimea. People were discouraged from voting “no” and few did.

Since Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, leading to the declaration of independence of the two Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as separate republics, Moscow has made all efforts to assert regional leadership and pressure all neighboring countries into recognizing local Russians as its own nationals. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

Since Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, leading to the declaration of independence of the two Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as separate republics, Moscow has exerted substantial political and military pressure to assert regional leadership over Russians both at home and abroad and have all neighboring countries recognize local Russians as Moscow’s own nationals. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

Thus one possible model for the Donetsk and Luthansk People’s Republics are the states created earlier in Republics at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union: Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistra in Moldova, Nagorno-Karabagh still torn between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the ill-fated Chechen Republic. One reason that President Putin suggested not having a referendum in Ukraine may have been his fears that the pattern of holding an unauthorized referendum would spread. There are a good number of peoples in Russia who are unhappy with the current constitutional status of their area and could look to creating a referendum to express their wishes. “You know where things start but not where they end.”[i]

With the lowering of tensions, the options of creating an independent State on the model of Transnistra or of integration into Russia on the Crimea pattern seems to be ever less likely. Thus the option of greater autonomy under the existing constitution by Parliamentary action seems the more likely, though there may be demands for a constitutional convention and the institutionalizing of autonomy in a new constitution.

The Ukraine crisis showed how easily the dogs of Cold War can be awakened from their sleep. The military, intelligence services and ad hoc armed groups are never far away. While many of us who had worked for better relations between the USA-USSR, NATO-Warsaw Pact during the 1960-1990 period have often gone on to other conflict resolution issues such as the conflicts in the wider Middle East and Africa, the Ukraine events point out dramatically that there is still work to do in Europe.

 

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

 

[i] For a useful and detailed history of the creation and current status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia see: George Hewitt Discordant Neighbors: A Reassessment of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian Conflicts (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2013, 389pp.)

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