The Official Blog of the

Archive for the ‘The Search for Peace’ Category

Concerted Efforts Against Trafficking in Persons

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Europe, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa, Migration, Modern slavery, NGOs, Social Rights, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, Women's Rights, World Law on July 30, 2021 at 10:01 AM

By René Wadlow

On July 30, there should be a worldwide concerted effort against trafficking in persons. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in Resolution A/RES/68/192 in 2012 set out July 30 as a day to review and reaffirm the need for action against the criminal global networks dealing in trafficking of persons. The trafficking of human beings reveals the hunger of the global economy for human labor and the disrespect for human dignity. Drugs, guns, illegal immigration are the nightmare avenues of how the poor world becomes integrated into the global economy. These are intricate networks and are intertwined with interests in business and politics.

A recent UN report presented to the Commission on the Status of Women highlighted that human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries and one of the crucial human rights crises today.

From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities – especially women and girls – are attracted by the prospects of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order bride catalogues, casual acquaintances, and even family members. Children are trafficked to work in sweatshops, and men to work in the « three D jobs » – dirty, difficult and dangerous.

Despite clear international standards such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, there is poor implementation, limited governmental infrastructure dedicated to the issue. There is also a tendency to criminalize the victims.

Since 2002, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has collected information on trafficking in persons. The International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization – especially in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention – and the International Organization for Migration – all have anti-trafficking programs, but they have few «people on the ground» dealing directly with the issue.

Thus, real progress needs to be made through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Association of World Citizens which has raised the issue in human rights bodies in Geneva. There are three aspects to this anti-trafficking effort. The first is to help build political will by giving accurate information to political leaders and the press. The other two aspects depend on the efforts of NGOs themselves. Such efforts call for increased cooperation among NGOs and capacity building.

The second aspect is research into the areas from which persons – especially children and women – are trafficked. These are usually the poorest parts of a country and among marginalized populations. Socio-economic and development projects must be directed to these areas so that there are realistic avenues for advancement.

The third aspect is psychological healing. Very often persons who have been trafficked have had a disrupted or violent family life. They may have a poor idea of their self-worth. The victim’s psychological health is often ignored by governments. Victims can suffer a strong psychological shock that disrupts their psychological integrity. Thus, it is important to create opportunities for individual and group healing, to give a spiritual dimention through teaching meditation and yoga. There is a need to create adult education facilities so that persons may continue a broken educational cycle.

We must not underestimate the difficulties and dangers which exist in the struggle against trafficking in persons nor the hard efforts which are needed for the psychological healing of victims. July 30 can be a rededication for our efforts.

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

Letting the Soul of Europe Drown on the Shores of Libya

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Europe, Human Rights, Libya, Middle East & North Africa, Migration, NGOs, Refugees, Spirituality, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on July 26, 2021 at 6:15 PM

By Bernard J. Henry

Was Libya ever a part of the 2011 Arab Spring? If the term defines solely the ouster of a dictator who had been there for decades, yes, it was. After 41 years of autocratic rule, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was irreversibly overthrown. If the Arab Spring also means the transformation of nonviolent protests into all-out armed conflict, then again, Libya qualifies as a people’s revolution, following the path successfully taken by Tunisia, that ended up as a civil war between the Jamahiriya, ruled from Tripoli by Gaddafi, and the Qatar-backed National Transitional Council based in Benghazi. Ultimately, if it means frustration at the outcome of the fight, then Libya was indeed a part of the 2011 Arab Spring, remembering how unbearably long it took the rival factions there to create a Government of National Unity, after years of competition between two, sometimes three, would-be national leaders.

Another way that Libya – tragically – qualifies as part of the 2011 Arab Spring is the ever-growing phenomenon of harraga. In Algerian Arabic, harrag means “the one who burns something”, and in Algeria where French is an unofficial second language, overlooking a red light while driving a car is “brûler un feu rouge”, literally “burning a red light”. When harrag thus refers to anyone breaching a legal restriction, its plural harraga has come to mean “those who burn the border” – migrants who leave the country without permission, either from their home government or the authorities of the country they are traveling to, in both cases risking their very lives.

One reason the West reacted sometimes coolly to the end of decades-long dictatorships in North Africa was that, while in power, Ben Ali, Gaddafi, and Mubarak enforced strict regulations on migration to the northern bank of the Mediterranean, keeping their respective peoples away from both personal freedom and European border posts altogether. The fall of each of the three regimes meant the end of a controlled emigration that used to suit European needs nicely, and ten years later, one of the three countries stands out as the most graphic and tragic embodiment of the harraga phenomenon – Libya.

Yet Libyans do not make up the bulk of those vowing to reach Europe at any cost. Those vowing to reach Europe from Libya are migrants and refugees from other countries in Africa, with some foreign residents who had lived in Libya for many years but are now feeling insecure and want to move on abroad. Others still, coming from Niger, Chad, Sudan, Egypt, and Tunisia, do want to settle down in Libya. But for those whose destination is Europe, when failure does not come by drowning into the Mediterranean, it means a fate some would deem even worse.

Inhumanity in the name of the European Union

According to a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), North Africa is now offering three routes for migration to Europe – the Western Route from Morocco into Spain, the Eastern Route from Turkey into Greece, and the Central Route from Libya into Italy. Unsurprisingly, the Central Route is the most active, preferred by many refugees and migrants. They come from West, East, and Central Africa, some of them fleeing extreme poverty back home and the others running from war and persecution. Although Europe has the oldest and best-functioning human rights court in the world, nostalgic as it is of its unenviable dictator friends in North Africa, it will not lift a finger to help these people yearning for the freedom and dignity that Europeans enjoy them every day.

In a newly released report entitled ‘No One Will Look for You’: Forcibly Returned from Sea to Abusive Detention in Libya, Amnesty International explains how “men, women and children intercepted while crossing the Mediterranean Sea and forcibly returned to detention centers in Libya” get subjected to an array of human rights violations in detention centers, such as “torture and other ill-treatment, cruel and inhuman detention conditions, extortion and forced labor” as well as “invasive, humiliating and violent strip-searches”, when not rape.

The organization sheds light on the role played since 2020 by the Libyan Government’s Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) in sexual abuses against women.

But, in the words of Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, “The report also highlights the ongoing complicity of European states that have shamefully continued to enable and assist Libyan coastguards in capturing people at sea and forcibly returning them to the hellscape of detention in Libya, despite knowing full well the horrors they will endure.” Consequently, Amnesty urges “European states to suspend cooperation on migration and border control with Libya”.

Blocking unauthorized migration from North Africa to Europe was one thing, when many in Western countries deemed Arab peoples unable to sustain democracy, thus supporting dictators who both reined in their constituents at home and deterred them from seeking a better life, let alone freedom, abroad. Ten years later, as a stifled democracy proves unable to protect Tunisia from a deadly wave of Covid-19 and Egypt appears locked in an absolute monarchy in all but name, Libya has set a course on the abandonment of all standards of human decency, not just in the treatment of prisoners but in knowingly punishing people just for seeking a new life on the other side of the Mediterranean.

The European ideal betrayed

It is no secret that European leaders, however progressive and opposed to extreme right populists they claim to be, have long renounced any form of firmness toward these. No more dismissing the far right by comparing it to pre-World War II fascist movements; its trademark xenophobic rhetoric has now become trendy. Leaders who once blasted the extreme right can now be heard calling for tighter border controls, making life harder for those immigrants who do get admitted, and demoting asylum from an internationally recognized right to a temporary commodity granted at the pleasure of the state.

Denmark, once hailed as a model Scandinavian social democracy with a liberal line of thought, is now considering sending Syrian refugees back to their war-torn homeland and “outsourcing” other asylum-seekers to Rwanda, a distant central African country with no geographical, historical, or other ties to Denmark whatsoever. In Britain, Home Secretary Priti Patel has proposed a host of nonsensical, dangerous measures to keep undocumented migrants and asylum seekers from reaching the country, such as the creation of an offshore processing center in … Rwanda. Not the finest tributes to the scores of Rwandans trying to flee the ongoing genocide back in 1994 one might think of.

Once conservative, moderate, liberal, or progressive democrats, the leaders of Europe have now joined the extreme right if only in its crusade to spread an insane fear of millions of Arab and African Muslim migrants taking over Europe, replacing the European Convention on Human Rights with the Sharia, imposing the Islamic veil on all women, and flogging to death anyone who swallows a drop of alcohol. So much for the European dream of Konrad Adenauer and Winston Churchill, Frenchmen Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, and Italians Alcide de Gasperi and Altiero Spinelli – the latter’s name being part also of the history of the World Citizen and World Federalist movements.

As the motto of the European Union (EU) shifts from “United in Diversity” to “Freedom within, Fortress without”, Libya stands out as the most graphic, horrendous illustration of EU duplicity in championing human values at home, especially when opposing a Donald Trump in the USA or brutal leaders in China and Nicaragua, while condoning the total loss of humanity in North Africa where Libyan government agents keep its borders safe from – imagined – hordes of invaders poised to feast on Europe’s riches and force an Al-Qaida- or ISIS-like reactionary vision of Islam on all Europeans. That too is a sign, possibly the most important one, that when it comes to migration, European leaders are now being guided by the extreme right’s ideology, pretending to use facts but being really based on fantasy.

Europe must continue to stand for hope

It is no fantasy that people are dying at sea while trying to reach Europe. It is no fantasy that others, also trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean, are getting caught by the Libyan authorities and forcibly brought back to the country. It is no fantasy that, held in detention centers even though they have no crime to answer for, people are ill-treated, beaten, raped, all but killed, just because they tried to get to Europe. It is no fantasy that as many blatant violations of the European Convention on Human Rights are being committed while the EU, at best, turns a blind eye and, at worst, lends its support.

Regional integration as Europe has known it since World War II, including EU expansion after the end of the Warsaw Pact, cannot be allowed to result in such barbarity. Setting such a bad example will only be detrimental to the ongoing experiments toward regional integration in other parts of the world, obviously starting with Africa. Ultimately, the very idea of World Citizenship will be endangered too, should some raise the possibility of supranational integration, and accordingly global governance of any kind, leading to such brutal, inhuman conducts of that nature with literally nowhere to run.

Europe as we know it was born among the ruins of World War II. Neither its regional institutions nor its national governments, let alone its governmental partners overseas, can possibly let it drown on the shores of Libya, where its leaders from Rome up to Copenhagen are making the EU lose all honor, letting down both those in Libya hoping for a better future and their own citizens at home by nurturing them in fear when they should be taught pride, courage, and solidarity, both toward one another and with others in distress at the doorsteps of the Union.

Bernard J. Henry is the External Relations Officer of the Association of World Citizens.

Assault on Religious Liberty: July 20, 1937

In Being a World Citizen, Human Rights, NGOs, Religious Freedom, Solidarity, Spirituality, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on July 20, 2021 at 3:17 PM

By René Wadlow

The Nazi Government of Germany had first moved against the Jews, considered as both a racial and a religious group. The Jews had long been a target of the Nazi movement and the attack on them came as no surprise. However, the July 20, 1937 banning of the theosophical movement and of others «theosophically related» in the Nazi ideology was a turning point in Nazi repression.

On July 20, 1937, the Theosophical Society and the related Anthroposophical Society which had been founded by Rudolf Steiner who had been president of the German section of the Theosophical Society were banned. The banning order was signed by Reichsführer Reinhard Heydrich who warned that “The continuation and new foundation of this as well as the foundation of disguised succession organizations is prohibited. Simultaneously I herewith state because of the law about confiscation of property hostile to people and state that the property of the abovementioned organizations was used or intended for the promotion of intentions hostile to people and state.” Thus, all offices and buildings were confiscated.

At the time there was little organized protest. The League of Nations, while upholding tolerance and freedom of thought in general had no specific declaration on freedom of religion and no institutional structures to deal with protests. Now, the United Nations (UN) has a specific Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of November 25, 1981 which builds upon Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion : this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship or observance.” As with all UN Instruments relating to freedom of religion, Article 18 represents a compromise. One of its achievements was the inclusion of the terms “thought” and “conscience” which quietly embraced atheists and non-believers. The most divisive phrase, however, was “freedom to change one’s religion”.

The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief took nearly 20 years of difficult negotiations to draft. Preparations for the Declaration had begun in 1962. One of the most difficult areas in drafting the Declaration concerned the rights of the child to have “access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle.”

The Declaration goes on to state that “The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, respect for freedom of religion or belief of others, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the services of his fellow men.”

The Declaration highlights that there can be no doubt that freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and the elimination of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief are of a fundamental character and derive from the inherent dignity and worth of the human person.

The gradual evolution of UN norms on the issue of religious liberty has been a complex process and is often a reflection of bilateral relations among Member States. This was especially true during the 1980s – the last decade of the USA-USSR Cold War. However, the end of the Cold War did not end religious tensions as an important factor in internal and international conflicts.

The 1981 Declaration cannot be implemented by UN bodies alone. Effective implementation also requires efforts by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs play a vital role in the development of the right to freedom of religion or belief, especially by advancing the cause of those still struggling to achieve this right.

Thus, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) had been active in the late 1970s when the UN Commission on Human Rights moved from New York to Geneva on the formulation of the 1981 Declaration. Since then, the AWC has worked closely with the Special Rapporteurs on Religious Liberty of the Commission (now the Human Rights Council). The AWC has also raised publicly in the Commission certain specific situations and violations. The AWC stresses the need for sound research and careful analysis. Citizens of the World have an important role to play in bringing spiritual and ethical insights to promote reconciliation and healing in many parts of the world.

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

The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, Weak but Necessary

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, Uncategorized on May 29, 2021 at 9:53 PM

By René Wadlow

“I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms, the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world.”
U. S. President Donald Trump, September 18, 2017.

The deployment of UN peacekeeping forces is only one aspect of conflict resolution and peace building. However, UN peacekeeping forces are the most visible (and expensive) aspect of the UN peacebuilding efforts. Thus, our attention must be justly given to the role, the financing, and the practice of UN peacekeeping forces.

May 29 is the International Day of the United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers. The day was chosen in memory of the creation of the first UN interposition force in the Middle East. In the years since, 3,800 have lost their lives. Today there are 14 operations. The most difficult are in Africa where there has been large scale breakdown of State structures such as the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How effective are UN peacekeeping operations in preventing and stopping violence? Are there alternatives to the ways that UN and regional organizations currently carry out peacekeeping operations? How effective are peacekeeping operations in addressing the root causes of conflicts? How does one measure the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations? We must ask questions of their effectiveness and if these military personnel should not be complemented by other forms of peacebuilding.

There have been reports of UN Peace operations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in South Sudan which highlight the systematic rape of women in the area and the inability or unwillingness of UN troops to stop the rapes which have become standard practice in the areas on the part of both members of the armed insurgencies as well as by members of the regular army. There are also other examples when “failure” is the key word in such evaluations of UN forces.

The first reality is that there is no permanent UN trained and motivated troops. There are only national units loaned by some national governments but paid for by all UN Member States. Each government trains its army in its own spirit and values, though there is still an original English ethos as many UN troops come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Nigeria. Now China is starting to provide troops with a non-English tradition.

There have been proposals by some governments and nongovernmental representatives such as the Association of World Citizens (AWC) for the creation of a permanent UN standby force. This has been rejected, usually on grounds of cost (although it would be only a fraction of what is now spent on national armies). There has also been an alternative proposal of creating within national armies specially-trained forces for UN use. Because the great majority of UN troops come from south Asia, speak English and were originally formed in an English tradition, the creation of such units ready for quick use is a real possibility.

Moreover, there is no such thing as consistency and predictability in UN actions o preserve order. The world is too complex, and the UN Security Council resolutions are voted based on national interest and political power considerations. UN “blue helmet” operations have grown both in numbers and complexity. Even with the best planning, the situation in which one deploys troops will always be fluid, and the assumption on which the planning was based may change.

Peacekeeper Cpt. Dr. Barsha Bajracharya photographed with two of her nurses team mates at UN Post 8-30, Nepalese Headquarters, near the town of Shakra, South Lebanon. October 10, 2012 (C) Pasqual Gorriz/UNIFIL

To be successful, UN peacekeeping operations need to have clear objectives, but such objectives cannot be set by the force commanders themselves. Peacekeeping forces are temporary measures that should give time for political leaders to work out a political agreement. The parties in conflict need to have a sense of urgency about resolving the conflict. Without that sense of urgency, peacekeeping operations can become eternal as they have in Cyprus and Lebanon.

UN forces are one important element in a peacemaker’s toolkit, but there needs to be a wide range of peacebuilding techniques available. There must be concerted efforts by both diplomatic representatives and nongovernmental organizations to resolve the conflicts where UN troops serve. Policemen, civilian political officers, human rights monitors, refugee and humanitarian aid workers and specialists in anthropology all play important roles along with the military. Yet non-military personnel are difficult to recruit.

In addition, it is difficult to control the impact of humanitarian aid and action as it ripples through a local society and economy because powerful factors in the conflict environment such as the presence of armed militias, acute political and ethnic polarization, the struggle over resources in a war economy will have unintended consequences.

As we honor the International Day of UN peacekeepers, we need to put more effort on the prevention of armed conflicts, on improving techniques of mediation, and creating groups which cross the divides of class, religion, and ethnicity.

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

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

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

Par Bernard J. Henry

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

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

Coca veut-il toujours dire cocaïne ?

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

Le mate de coca (C) Getty Images-iStockphoto

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

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

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

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

Le glyphosate de Monsanto, vendu sous la marque Roundup

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

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

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

FARC-EP : Un accord de paix en danger

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

L’emblème des FARC-EP

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

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

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

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

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

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

La justice colombienne et l’ONU l’avaient dit

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

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

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

La pulvérisation aérienne au glyphosate en action

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

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

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

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

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

Appel Urgent à Cesser la Violence dans la Région de Jérusalem et Gaza

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, War Crimes on May 13, 2021 at 2:01 PM

L’Association of World Citizens, qui s’emploie à mettre fin aux conflits armés par des négociations de bonne foi, adresse un Appel Urgent à toutes les parties pour mettre fin à la violence dans la région de Jérusalem et Gaza. Dans cette situation hautement inflammable, tout instant ouvre la voie à une montée du conflit. La violence peut entraîner une violence encore plus importante et s’étendre à d’autres endroits encore, une indication en étant les récentes violences dans la ville de Lod.

L’Association of World Citizens en appelle à toutes les parties afin de s’abstenir de toute action provocatrice. Comme le disait le Citoyen du Monde et psychologue Bruno Bettelheim, «La violence est le comportement de quelqu’un d’incapable d’imaginer d’autres solutions aux problèmes qui se présentent». En conséquence, l’Association of World Citizens en appelle à une pensée créatrice pour trouver de nouvelles approches en vue d’une vie en commun coopérative et harmonieuse entre Israéliens et Palestiniens.

Le Professeur René WADLOW est Président de l’Association of World Citizens.

Urgent Appeal to Halt Violence in the Jerusalem-Gaza Area

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, War Crimes on May 13, 2021 at 2:01 PM

The Association of World Citizens, devoted to ending armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith, addresses an Urgent Appeal to all parties to halt violence in the Jerusalem-Gaza area. In this highly inflammatory situation, there can be an escalation to the conflict at any point. Violence can lead to ever greater violence and can spread to other areas, an indication of which is the recent violence in the city of Lod.

The Association of World Citizens calls upon all parties to refrain from provocative action. As World Citizen and psychologist Bruno Bettelheim wrote, “Violence is the behavior of someone incapable of imagining other solutions to the problems at hand.” Therefore, the Association of World Citizens calls for creative thinking for new approaches to cooperative and harmonious living together of Israelis and Palestinians.

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

International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, NGOs, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on April 26, 2021 at 7:40 PM

By René Wadlow

April 24, International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace was established by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and first observed on April 24, 2019. The resolution establishing the Day is in part a reaction to the “America First, America First” cry of the U. S. President, Donald Trump, but other states are also following narrow nationalistic policies and economic protectionism. The Day stresses the use of multilateral decision-making in achieving the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Yet as the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said, “Multilateralism is not only a matter of confronting shared threats, it is about seizing common opportunities.”

One hour after Trygve Lie arrived in New York as the first UN Secretary-General in March 1946, the Ambassador of Iran handed him the complaint of his country against the presence of Soviet troops in northern Iran. From that moment on, the UN has lived with constant conflict-resolution tasks to be accomplished. The isolated diplomatic conference of the past, like the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after the Napoleonic wars has been replaced by an organization continually at work on all its manifold problems. If the world is to move forward to a true world society, this can be done only through an organization such as the UN which is based on universality, continuity, and comprehensiveness.

Europe after the Congress of Vienna in 1815

Today’s world society evolved from an earlier international structure based on states and their respective goals, often termed “the national interest”. This older system was based on the idea that there is an inevitable conflict among social groups: the class struggle for the Marxists, the balance of power for the Nationalists. Thus, negotiations among government representatives are a structured way of mitigating conflicts but not a way of moving beyond conflict.

However, in the UN there is a structural tension between national sovereignty and effective international organization. In the measure that an international organization is effective, it is bound to impair the freedom of action of its members, and in the measure that the member states assert their freedom of action, they impair the effectiveness of the international organization. The UN Charter itself testifies to that unresolved tension by stressing on the one hand the “sovereign equality” of all member states and, on the other, assigning to the permanent five members of the Security Council a privileged position.

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in session

Nonetheless, what was not foreseen in 1945 when the UN Charter was drafted was the increasing international role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). “We the Peoples” in whose name the UN Charter is established, are present in the activities of the UN through NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. NGOs have played a crucial role in awareness-building and in the creation of new programs in the fields of population, refugees and migrants, women and children, human rights, and food. Now, there is a strong emphasis on the consequences of climate change as the issue has moved beyond the reports of climate experts to broad and strong NGO actions.

This increase in the UN related nongovernmental action arises out of the work and ideas of many people active in social movements: spiritual, ecological, human potential, feminist, and human rights. Many individuals saw that their activities had a world dimension, and that the UN and such Specialized Agencies as UNESCO provided avenues for action. Thus, as we mark the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, we recognize that there is the growth, worldwide, of a new spirit which is inclusive, creative, and thus life-transforming.

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

The Day of Mother Earth: Living in Harmony with Nature

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

By René Wadlow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugo Grotius: The Law of States

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, International Justice, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on April 13, 2021 at 7:50 PM

By René Wadlow

Hugo Grotius (April 10, 1583 – August 28, 1645) whose birth anniversary we mark on April 10 played a crucial role in the development of the Law of States, in particular through two books written in Latin Mare Librium (Liberty of the Seas) 1609 and De Jure Belli ac Pacis (Law in War and Peace) 1625) Grotius is a key figure in the transition between the older feudal period and the important role of city-states and the development of a state system.

Grotius showed his intellectual talents early in life and was considered a youthful genius. At 17, in 1601, he published Adamus Exul (The Exile of Adam). In the drama, Satan is sharply critical of God’s grand design and is jealous of Adam being prepared to share in it having done nothing to bringing it about. Grotius’s Eve is a lovely, loving and enchanting partner, but is bored and ready for an apple. John Milton who met Grotius in Paris and read Adamus Exul there used many of the same themes in his Paradise Lost.

Hugo Grotius was Protestant and also wrote on religious subjects. However, he was caught up in intra-Protestant theological disputes in what is today Holland. Due to these theological tensions, he lived most of his life in Paris – 1621 to 1644 – where he served as the Ambassador of the Court of Sweden, a Protestant country. He was well thought of by the French King, Louis XIll, and Cardinal Richelieu, the power behind the King.

As the feudal period was ending, laws had to be formulated so that relations among states were not to be based only on material strength. Just as Hugo Grotius was writing at a time of a historic shift from the structures of the feudal period to the creation of states, so today there is a shift from international law in which the focus is on law concerning states to an emphasis on law with the focus on the individual citizen. Just as feudal structures and city-states did not disappear, so today, states are still present but there is a shift in focus. Today, we have an increase in multistate entities such as the European Union, the African Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the one hand and multinational corporations and individuals on the other.

The shift to the law of the person grew from the lawlessness of states during the Second World War. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights created a new focus, and it was followed by the two International Covenants on Human Rights and then the Convention against Torture, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The system of monitoring, investigation and reporting set up by the United Nations (UN) human rights bodies are important avenues to focus upon individuals. As then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, “No shift in the way we think or act can be more critical than this: we must put people at the center of everything we do.” The UN’s influence is derived not from power but from the values it represents, its role in helping to set and sustain global norms, its ability to stimulate global concern and action, and the trust inspired by its ability to improve the lives of people.

UN efforts to extend international law to the practice of transnational corporations have not acquired the momentum that the focus on the rights and obligations of individuals has done. However, there is a growing emphasis on what is increasingly called “civil society”. The civil society that has emerged and evolved around the UN spans a wide range of interests, expertise and competencies. While there are UN structures for dealing with non-governmental organizations which are granted consultative status, there is no equivalent structure for dealing with transnational corporations although some have real influence on the policies of governments and the lives of people.

Today, there is a need to increase the rule of law within the world society. We need individuals with the vision and dedication of Hugo Grotius.

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

%d bloggers like this: