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Letter from the President and Officers of the Association of World Citizens to the President of the French Republic

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2015 at 1:52 PM

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT AND OFFICERS OF THE ASSOCIATION OF WORLD CITIZENS TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

November 14, 2015

* * *

Dear President Hollande,

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to the French Republic for the tragic death of – at the time of writing – over 120 of its nationals in terror attacks in several parts of Paris, as a French-Germany football game was taking place at the Stade de France, even more people having been injured, some of them seriously. All our thoughts are with them.

Whatever the reason for which it may be used, terrorism is never justifiable or excusable, resorting to it being in every time and place, in the words of the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by Frenchman René Cassin and adopted in your very own capital, “barbarous acts which (outrage) the conscience of mankind”.

We hear you have declared a state of emergency on all of France’s territory, a move that is all too understandable under these circumstances.

We are sure that the French Government will know how to protect its own people while remaining respectful of its domestic laws and international commitments, as is required in the fight against terrorism which is a full-fledged part of the fight for human rights.

We hereby express our wholehearted solidarity and moral support in the face of this new ordeal imposed onto the French people.

Please accept, Dear President Hollande, the assurances of our highest consideration

Prof. René Wadlow, President

Bernard Henry, External Relations Officer

Cherifa Maaoui, Liaison Officer – Middle East & North Africa

Noura Addad – Attorney at Law –, Legal Officer

Lettre du Président et des Officiers de l’Association of World Citizens au Président de la République française

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2015 at 1:50 PM

LETTRE DU PRÉSIDENT ET DES OFFICIERS DE L’ASSOCIATION OF WORLD CITIZENS AU PRÉSIDENT DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE 

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

Le 14 novembre 2015

* * *

Monsieur le Président de la République,

L’Association of World Citizens tient à présenter à la République française ses sincères condoléances pour la mort tragique de plus de cent vingt de ses citoyens – à l’heure où nous écrivons – dans des attaques terroristes en plusieurs endroits de Paris, en marge du match de football France-Allemagne au Stade de France, plus encore ayant été blessés, certains dont le pronostic vital est engagé. Toutes nos pensées les accompagnent.

Quelle que soit la raison pour laquelle il y est fait recours, jamais le terrorisme n’est justifiable ou excusable, ses manifestations étant toujours et partout, selon les termes du Préambule de la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme, œuvre du Français René CASSIN et qui fut adoptée dans votre capitale, des «actes de barbarie qui révoltent la conscience de l’humanité».

Nous entendons que vous avez annoncé la proclamation de l’état d’urgence sur tout le territoire français, mesure ô combien compréhensible en de telles circonstances.

Nous sommes certains que le Gouvernement français saura protéger son peuple tout en respectant ses propres lois et ses engagements internationaux, comme il se doit de la lutte contre le terrorisme qui fait partie intégrante de la lutte pour le respect des Droits de l’Homme.

Vous exprimant toute notre solidarité et tout notre soutien moral dans cette nouvelle épreuve imposée au peuple français,

Nous vous prions de croire, Monsieur le Président de la République, en l’assurance de notre très haute considération.

Prof. René Wadlow, Président

Bernard Henry, Officier des Relations Extérieures

Cherifa Maaoui, Officier de Liaison, Afrique du Nord & Moyen-Orient

Noura Addad – Avocat –, Officier juridique

World Food Day: A Renewal of Collective Action

In Being a World Citizen, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Development, Human Rights, International Justice, Social Rights, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Uncategorized, United Nations, World Law on October 16, 2015 at 8:30 AM

WORLD FOOD DAY: A RENEWAL OF COLLECTIVE ACTION

By René Wadlow

 

[…] determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action for the purpose of raising levels of nutrition and standards of living […]” 

-Preamble of the Food and Agriculture Organization Constitution.

 

October 16 is the UN-designated World Food Day, the date chosen being the anniversary of the creation of the FAO in 1945 with the aim, as stated in its Constitution of “contributing towards an expanding world economy and ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger.” Freedom from hunger is not simply a technical matter to be solved with better seeds, fertilizers, cultivation practices and marketing. To achieve freedom from hunger for mankind, there is a need to eliminate poverty. The elimination of poverty must draw upon the ideas, skills and energies of whole societies and requires the cooperation of all countries. 

World Citizens have played an important role in efforts to improve agricultural production worldwide and especially to better the conditions of life of rural workers. Lord Boyd-Orr was the first director of the FAO; Josue de Castro was the independent President of the FAO Council in the 1950s when the FAO had an independent Council President. (The independent presidents have now been replaced by a national diplomat, rotating each year. Governments are never happy with independent experts who are often too independent.) The World Citizen, René Dumont, an agricultural specialist, is largely the “father” of political ecology in France, having been the first Green Party candidate for the French Presidency in 1974.

As Lester Brown, the American agricultural specialist says “We are cutting trees faster than they can be regenerated, overgrazing rangelands and converting them into deserts, overpumping aquifers, and draining rivers dry. On our croplands, soil erosion exceeds new soil formation, slowly depriving the soil of its inherent fertility. We are taking fish from the ocean faster than they can reproduce.”

To counter these trends, we need awareness and vision, an ethical standard which has the preservation of nature at its heart, and the political leadership to bring about the socio-economic changes needed. For the moment, awareness and vision are unequally spread. In some countries, ecological awareness has led to beneficial changes and innovative technologies. In others, the governmental and social structures are disintegrating due to disease, population pressure upon limited resources, and a lack of social leadership. Worldwide, military spending, led by the USA, dwarfs spending on ecologically-sound development and the necessary expansion of education and health services.

World Food Day

Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth. (World Food Program)

As Lester Brown has written “The sector of the economy that seems likely to unravel first is food. Eroding soils, deteriorating rangelands, collapsing fisheries, falling water tables, and rising temperatures are converging to make it more difficult to expand food production fast enough to keep up with demand…food is fast becoming a national security issue as growth in the world harvest slows and falling water tables and rising temperatures hint at future shortages.”

Yet there are agricultural techniques which can raise protein efficiency, raise land productivity, improve livestock use and produce second harvests on the same land. However, unless we quickly reverse the damaging trends that we have set in motion, we will see vast numbers of environmental refugees — people abandoning depleted aquifers and exhausted soils and those fleeing advancing deserts and rising seas.

David Seckler of the International Water Management Institute writes “Many of the most populous countries of the world — China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and nearly all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa — have literally been having a free ride over the past two or three decades by depleting their groundwater resources. The penalty of mismanagement of this valuable resource is now coming due, and it is no exaggeration to say that the results could be catastrophic for these countries, and given their importance, for the world as a whole.” Unfortunately, the International Water Management Institute does not manage the world’s use of water but can only study water use. While there are some planners who would like to be able to tax or make people pay for water, most water use is uncontrolled. Payment for water is a way that governments or private companies have to get more revenue, but the welfare of farmers is usually not a very high priority for them.

Yet as Citizens of the World have stressed, ecologically-sound development cannot be the result only of a plan, but rather of millions of individual actions to protect soil, conserve water, plant trees, use locally grown crops, reduce meat from our diets, protect biological diversity in forest areas, cut down the use of cars by increasing public transportation and living closer to one’s work. We need to stabilize and then reduce world population and to encourage better distribution of the world’s population through planned migration and the creation of secondary cities to reduce the current growth of megacities. We need to encourage wise use of rural areas by diversifying employment in rural areas. We also need to develop ecological awareness through education so that these millions of wise individual decisions can be taken.

In 1989 The Christians sang, “When will there be a harvest for the world?” Well … We wish we knew.

Lester Brown underlines the necessary link between knowledge and action. “Environmentally responsible behaviour also depends to a great extent on a capacity to understand basic scientific issues, such as the greenhouse effect or the ecological role of forests. Lacking this, it is harder to grasp the link between fossil fuel burning and climate change or between tree cutting and the incidence of flooding or the loss of biological diversity…The deteriorating relationship between the global economy and the earth’s ecosystem requires an all-out effort to bring literacy to all adults in order to break the poverty cycle and stabilize population.”

Education and vision require leadership, and it is ecologically-sound political leadership that is badly lacking today. Thus Citizens of the World and all of good will are called upon to provide wise leadership to work for a redirection of financial resources to protect the planet, and to encourage ecologically-sound individual and collective action. 

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

Iraq: Yazidis’ Genocide?

In Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, Uncategorized, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on August 11, 2014 at 7:05 PM

IRAQ: YAZIDIS’ GENOCIDE?

By René Wadlow

 

A mix of United States (U. S.) humanitarian airdrops of food and water to the stranded displaced people on Mount Sinjar as well as U. S. military air strikes against some of the positions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has focused international attention on the area. The Christian Peacemaker Teams have had a group working toward human rights protection and reconciliation in the Iraq Kurdistan for some years and are now posting daily updates on their website and Facebook [i].

I will not deal here with the broader issues of the impact of the ISIS on the possible geographic fragmentation and re-structuring of Iraq and Syria.

As a Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) representative to the United Nations, Geneva, and active on human rights issues, I had already raised the issues of two major religious minorities in Iraq at the UN Commission on Human Rights: the Yazidis and the Mandaeans. Here I ask if their fate can be identified as genocide under the 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. My concern with the Yazidi (also written as Yezidi) dates from the early 1990s and the creation of the Kurdish Autonomous Region. Many of the Yazidis are ethnic Kurds, and the government of Saddam Hussein was opposed to them not so much for their religious beliefs but rather that some Yazidis played important roles in the Kurdish community seen as largely opposed to the government. The Yazidis also had some old ownership claims on land on which oil reserves are found in northern Iraq.

My concern with the Mandaeans (also written as Sabean-Mandeans) came in the early 2000s after the U. S. invasion when the Mandaeans were persecuted as being supporters of Saddam Hussein and most fled to Syria. A word about the faiths of the two groups which helps to explain their special status. Although both are called “sects” and are closed religious communities which one can only enter by birth, they are faiths even if the number of the faithful is small.

The Mandaeans are a religious group formed in the first centuries of the Common Era in what is now Israel-Palestine-Jordan. Over time, they migrated to southern Iraq in the area of Basra as well as to what is now the Islamic Republic of Iran. One of their distinctive signs is the frequent purification by running water − baptism. They honor John the Baptist, described in the Christian Gospel of Luke, but are probably not direct descendents of his followers. At the time of John and Jesus, there were a good number of movements which had purification by water as one of their rituals. The Mandaean scripture The Book of John is probably a third-century collection. The Book of John was used in Mandaean rituals and services but was never published to be read by others. Given intellectual and historic interest in the Mandaeans, the Mandaean leadership authorized the publication of their scriptures. As a sign of respect, the first printed copy was given to Saddam Hussein as President of the country. In the confused situation after the U. S. occupation of Iraq, the book presentation was enough to have some accuse the Mandaeans of being Saddam Hussein supporters. Under increasing pressure, the vast majority of Mandaeans left Iraq for Syria (the frying pan into the fire image). Now they are caught in the Syrian civil war, unable or unwilling to return to Iraq. A small number of Mandaeans have been granted refugee status in the US and Western Europe.

There has been some intellectual mutual interplay among the Mandaeans and the Yazidis, but they are separate faiths and located in different parts of Iraq. The structure of the Yazidi worldview is Zoroastrian, a faith born in Persia proclaiming that two great cosmic forces, that of light and good, and that of darkness and evil are in constant battle. Man is called upon to help light overcome evil.

Sabean Mandeans perform baptisms for the faithful, in Iraq's Tigris River. (C) The Washington Post

Sabean Mandeans perform baptisms for the faithful, in Iraq’s Tigris River.
(C) The Washington Post

However, the strict dualistic thinking of Zoroastrianism was modified by another Persian prophet, Mani of Ctesiphon in the third century CE who had to deal with a situation very close of that of ours today. Mani tried to create a synthesis of religious teachings that were increasingly coming into contact through travcl and trade: Buddhism and Hinduism from India, Jewish and Christian thought, Helenistic Gnostic philosophy from Egypt and Greece as well as many smaller, traditional and “animist” beliefs. He kept the Zoroastrian dualism as the most easily understood intellectual framework, though giving it a somewhat more Taoist (yin-yang) flexibility, Mani having traveled in China. He developed the idea of the progression of the soul by individual effort through reincarnation − a main feature of Indian thought combined with the ethical insights of Gnostic and Christian thought. Unfortunately, only the dualistic Zoroastrian framework is still attached to Mani’s name − Manichaeism. This is somewhat ironic as it was the Zoroastrian Magi who had him put to death as a dangerous rival.

Within the Mani-Zoroastrian framework, the Yazidi added the presence of angels who are to help man in his constant battle for light and good, in particular Melek Tawis, the peacock angel. Although there are angels in Islam, angels that one does not know could well be demons, and so the Yazidis are regularly accused of being “demon worshipers” [ii].

The faravahar is one of the best-known symbols of Zoroastrianism, the state religion of ancient Iran.

The faravahar is one of the best-known symbols of Zoroastrianism, the state religion of ancient Iran.

With the smaller Mandaean faith, originally some 60,000 people, now virtually destroyed in Iraq and unable to function effectively in Syria, the idea of ridding a country of the near totality of a faith is not for the ISIS an “impossible dream”. There are probably some 500,000 Yazidis in Iraq. Iraq demographic statistics are not fully reliable, and Yazidi leaders may give larger estimates by counting Kurds who had been Yazidis but had been converted to Islam. There had been some 200,000 Yazidis among the Kurds of Turkey but now nearly all have migrated to Western Europe, Australia and Canada.

Already in the last days, some 150,000 Yazidis have been uprooted and have fled to Iraqi Kurdistan. Thus most Yazidis could be pushed into an ever-smaller Kurdish-controlled zone of Iraq and Syria. The rest could be converted to Islam or killed. The government of the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq has done little (if anything) to help the socio-economic development of the Yazidis, probably fearing competition for the Kurdish families now in control of the autonomous Kurdish government and society. Now the Kurdistan government and civil society groups are stretched well beyond capacity with displaced persons from Iraq and Syria.

Thousands of Yazidis previously trapped by Isis have been rescued by Kurdish peshmerga forces. (C) Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Thousands of Yazidis previously trapped by Isis have been rescued by Kurdish peshmerga forces.
(C) Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

If one is to take seriously the statements of the ISIS leadership, genocide − the destruction in whole or in part of a group − is a stated aim. The killing of the Yazidis is a policy and not “collateral damage” from fighting. The 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide allows any State party to the Convention to “call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide.” Thus far no State has done so by making a formal proposal to deal with the Convention.

With the incomplete evidence at hand, I would maintain that the ISIS policy is genocide and not just a control of territory. Although the UN “track record” of dealing with genocide is very mixed, the first immediate step is for a State to raise the issue within the UN in order to set a legal approach in motion [iii].

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

 

[i] See the website of the Christian Peacemaker Teams: www.cpt.org.

[ii] A Yazidi website has been set up by Iraqis living in Lincoln, Nebraska. The website is uneven but of interest as a self presentation: www.yeziditruth.org.

[iii] See the very complete study: William A. Schabas, Genocide in International Law (Cambridge Univesity Press, 2000).

World Citizens, Opposed to the Death Penalty, Question the Egyptian Government’s Sentencing to Death 528 People in a Mass Trial

In Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Uncategorized, World Law on March 25, 2014 at 5:51 PM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

WORLD CITIZENS, STRONGLY OPPOSED TO THE DEATH PENALTY, QUESTION THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT’S SENTENCING TO DEATH 528 PEOPLE IN A SHORT MASS TRIAL

In a March 26, 2014 message to the Acting President of Egypt and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prof. René Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens (AWC), stated that the mass trial of Muslim Brotherhood members accused of the murder of a police officer and terrorist acts during the August 2013 protests was an insult to the Spirit of Justice and a violation of the rule of law.

The AWC has repeatedly called upon governments to declare a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty – a penalty that extensive research has shown has little or no impact on the level of violent crime and too often opens the door to judicial errors and injustice.

The speed of the two-day trial during which defense lawyers were not able to develop their arguments is unprecedented and points to the political motivations of the current military-influenced Government.

There is a possibility to appeal the verdict, but the timing and modalities are unclear. There are some 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood supporters awaiting trial, and this trial in the Minya Criminal Count does not indicate a rule of law but rather of revenge and a desire to inspire fear of possible Government action.

The verdict now goes to Egypt’s Grand Mufti, a religious authority, for approval or rejection. It is not clear on what basis religious authorities review and make decisions on what are essentially secular trials. In practice, death sentences in Egypt are often handed down, but few have been carried out in recent years. The aims of the trials and the sentences are political: to show that death is a real possibility if one “steps out of line”.

Such a misuse of the court system undermines trust in the legal order and is in violation of the spirit and provisions of human rights law.

The AWC is devoted to the universal application of human rights law which includes fair trials and the right to adequate defense. Therefore, the AWC calls upon the Government of Egypt to revise this court case by a speedy appeal procedure and to see that the subsequent trials concerning Muslim Brotherhood members or supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi are carried out in conformity with established international norms.

Le droit universel à la fraternité

In Being a World Citizen, Cultural Bridges, Fighting Racism, Human Rights, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Uncategorized, World Law on February 11, 2014 at 9:25 PM

LE DROIT UNIVERSEL A LA FRATERNITE

Par Bernard Henry

(D’après « The Universal Right to Brotherhood », du même auteur :

https://awcungeneva.com/2014/02/10/the-universal-right-to-brotherhood/)

En tant qu’Organisation Non-Gouvernementale (ONG) dotée du Statut Consultatif auprès de l’ONU et active au sein du Conseil des Droits de l’Homme, l’Association of World Citizens a toujours défendu les Droits de l’Homme partout dans le monde, tous les Droits de l’Homme, qu’ils soient civils, politiques, économiques, sociaux, culturels ou autres, tels que ceux plus récemment reconnus au développement et à un environnement sain.

Depuis le début de la décennie, le désir mondial de Droits de l’Homme est plus visible que jamais auparavant. Mais les nombreux auteurs de violations auxquels le peuple du monde doit faire face – les gouvernements des Etats, les corporations multinationales, les groupes politiques non-étatiques, armés ou non – balaient ouvertement les Droits de l’Homme comme étant de simples revendications politiques qui en valent d’autres, leur refusant le moindre caractère de prérogatives universelles reconnues en droit international.

Parfois même, les gouvernements répressifs et autres entités qui le sont tout autant vont jusqu’à prétendre qu’ils agissent au nom même des Droits de l’Homme, accusant en cela leurs critiques et leurs opposants d’attenter eux-mêmes aux Droits de l’Homme.

C’est comme si chacun ne revendiquait plus les Droits de l’Homme qu’à son seul profit, ignorant superbement autrui et considérant les Droits de l’Homme comme étant tout ou rien – mes droits ou les leurs, l’un ou l’autre mais pas les deux. Rien ne saurait être plus contraire à l’idée même de défense des Droits de l’Homme.

Le Préambule de la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme, depuis 1948 clé de voûte du droit international des Droits de l’Homme, affirme très clairement qu’une protection effective des Droits de l’Homme par la loi est essentielle « pour que l’homme ne soit pas contraint, en suprême recours, à la révolte contre la tyrannie et l’oppression ». Même si certains peuvent voir en les Droits de l’Homme une question trop « conflictuelle » à aborder, ignorer ou renier les Droits de l’Homme rend bel et bien impossible à toute personne, tout gouvernement, ou toute autre entité que ce soit, d’espérer en tout bon sens atteindre une quelconque paix ou un quelconque progrès dont il ou elle puisse tirer parti.

L’Article Premier de la Déclaration se fait encore plus explicite sur ce point :

« Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. Ils sont doués de raison et de conscience et doivent agir les uns envers les autres dans un esprit de fraternité. »

Fraternité – c’est bien là le mot qui compte, car c’est là tout ce que les Droits de l’Homme veulent dire.

Se soucier de son prochain, un être humain comme soi-même. Accorder de l’importance à la vie, la liberté, la sécurité d’un ou d’une autre autant qu’aux siennes propres. Vouloir faire le bien des autres plutôt que de concevoir sa propre vie comme un combat permanent et inexorable contre tous. C’est cela, vivre « dans un esprit de fraternité », et partant de là, respecter les Droits de l’Homme, à commencer par le plus essentiel d’entre eux – le droit à la fraternité.

Même s’il est devenu très à la mode de chercher des noises à autrui en invoquant les Droits de l’Homme, se conduire ainsi n’a aucun sens, dans la mesure où la défense des Droits de l’Homme doit être par essence inclusive et jamais sectaire. Lorsque l’on reconnait le droit à la fraternité en tant que droit inaliénable devant être garanti à toutes et à tous, l’on en vient tout naturellement à reconnaître tous les autres droits consacrés par la Déclaration et par bien d’autres instruments internationaux de Droits de l’Homme – civils, politiques, économiques, sociaux et culturels.

La Déclaration universelle des Droits de l'Homme en langue française, langue maternelle de son principal créateur, le Français René Cassin.

La Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme en langue française, langue maternelle de son principal artisan, le Français René Cassin.

Dans la droite ligne de ce principe, la Déclaration se termine sur trois articles rappelant la primauté du droit à la fraternité sur tous les autres :

Article 28

« Toute personne a droit à ce que règne, sur le plan social et sur le plan international, un ordre tel que les droits et libertés énoncés dans la présente Déclaration puissent y trouver plein effet. »

Bien évidemment, cela veut dire que chacun a droit à la paix, et plus évident encore, il ne peut y avoir de paix sans la fraternité.

Article 29

« 1. L’individu a des devoirs envers la communauté dans laquelle seul le libre et plein développement de sa personnalité est possible. 

2. Dans l’exercice de ses droits et dans la jouissance de ses libertés, chacun n’est soumis qu’aux limitations établies par la loi exclusivement en vue d’assurer la reconnaissance et le respect des droits et libertés d’autrui et afin de satisfaire aux justes exigences de la morale, de l’ordre public et du bien-être général dans une société démocratique. 

3. Ces droits et libertés ne pourront, en aucun cas, s’exercer contrairement aux buts et aux principes des Nations Unies. »

Peut-on être plus clair ? L’on ne peut jouir de ses droits qu’au sein de la communauté humaine, « dans un esprit de fraternité », donc, ni en dehors de la communauté ni contre la communauté.

Article 30

« Aucune disposition de la présente Déclaration ne peut être interprétée comme impliquant pour un Etat, un groupement ou un individu un droit quelconque de se livrer à une activité ou d’accomplir un acte visant à la destruction des droits et libertés qui y sont énoncés. »

La plus forte, et la plus logique, conclusion possible à une déclaration universelle des droits – les droits ne peuvent être revendiqués, à plus forte raison utilisés, pour faire du tort à qui que ce soit, ce en aucune circonstance. En d’autres termes, si vous ne reconnaissez pas le droit à la fraternité, vous ne pouvez tout simplement pas vous prévaloir de vos droits du tout.

Jargon juridique mis à part, ce n’est là rien d’autre que ce que disait déjà Albert Schweitzer lorsqu’il a créé son concept de Respect de la Vie (Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben). Dans son livre paru en 1923, La Civilisation et l’Ethique, Schweitzer résumait ce concept ainsi : « L’éthique n’est rien d’autre que le Respect de la vie. Le Respect de la vie me fournit le principe fondamental de la morale, à savoir que le bien consiste à entretenir, assister et mettre en valeur la vie, et que détruire la vie, lui faire du tort ou y faire obstacle est mal. »

En un temps où il n’existait aucune véritable institution politique ou juridique au niveau mondial, ce qui s’en rapprochait le plus étant une Société des Nations bâtie pour l’essentiel sur des vœux pieux et dénuée de tout pouvoir de promulguer des lois, Schweitzer proclamait déjà, de la manière la plus claire qui puisse être, le droit universel à la fraternité.

En 1952, la philosophie de "Respect de la Vie" valut à Albert Schweitzer le Prix Nobel de la Paix.

En 1952, la philosophie du “Respect de la Vie” valut à Albert Schweitzer le Prix Nobel de la Paix.

Plus le « respect », selon l’idée que Schweitzer s’en faisait, du droit à la fraternité est important, plus l’oppression et l’injustice ont du mal à s’installer dans une société. Que l’on se batte contre une dictature, que l’on engage le combat contre des politiciens qui propagent le racisme, que l’on manifeste pour un salaire décent, que l’on dispense un enseignement à des enfants démunis ou que l’on fournisse à un village isolé l’accès à l’eau potable, l’on affirme une seule et même chose : nous sommes citoyens du monde entier, l’humanité est notre famille, et en tant qu’êtres humains, nous avons le droit de vivre en famille avec nos frères sur la Terre.

Bernard Henry est Officier des Relations Extérieures du Bureau de Représentation auprès de l’Office des Nations Unies à Genève de l’Association of World Citizens.

Release Razan Zaitouneh!

In Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Uncategorized, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on December 19, 2013 at 1:37 PM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

CITIZENS OF THE WORLD CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF ATTORNEY RAZAN ZAITOUNEH AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS CAPTURED IN WAR-TORN SYRIA

Paris & Geneva, December 19, 2013

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) calls for the immediate release of Ms. Razan Zaitouneh, a Syrian human rights lawyer, and three other Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) – Mr. Wael Hamada, Mr. Nazem Hamadi, and Ms. Samira Khalil, who were kidnapped by unknown assailants ten days ago.

On December 9, 2013, the four HRDs were abducted by masked armed men and taken to unknown whereabouts from the premises of the Center for Documenting Human Rights Violations in Syria, located in Douma.

Ms. Razan Zaitouneh has tirelessly defended the rights of political prisoners in Syria. When the revolution, initially a nonviolent one, started in 2011 she founded the “local coordination committees”. That year she received the Anna Politkovskaya award “RAW (Reach All Women) in WAR”.

Also active as a journalist, Ms. Razan Zaitouneh has been monitoring and reporting war crimes and human rights violations in Syria. Earlier this year she received the International Women of Courage Award for her outstanding work and efforts.

Since December 9 no one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, which took place in a zone where all parties to the conflict are represented, making it impossible to know for sure who the kidnappers were working for.

The one thing we know for sure is that, whoever they are, the kidnappers committed a war crime by deliberately abducting civilians in a context of armed conflict, especially HRDs who are specially protected under international human rights law.

Consequently, the AWC demands the immediate release of the four Syrian HRDs.

Nelson Mandela and the Struggle for Universal Human Rights

In Africa, Anticolonialism, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Fighting Racism, Human Rights, International Justice, The Search for Peace, Uncategorized, World Law on December 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM

NELSON MANDELA AND THE STRUGGLE FOR UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS

By René Wadlow

 

It is appropriate that a major part of the commemoration for Nelson Mandela should fall on December 10, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mandela was both a major actor in developing human rights in South Africa and a symbol of the worldwide struggle for the respect of human rights.  Pressure from human rights groups worldwide played an important part in his release from prison in 1990 as well as bringing an end to the deeply entrenched system of apartheid that enforced racial segregation in every aspect of South African life.

The efforts on the part of the Afrikaner-led National Party Government to enforce apartheid and to prevent opposition had led to many violations of human rights in South Africa: limits on press and expression, on the freedom of association, and the right to fair trial. Therefore, the dismantling of the apartheid system was a necessary pre-requisite for the establishment of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Nelson Mandela led the efforts to end apartheid, a victory without the blood bath that so many had predicted and feared. He led on the path of constructive reconciliation and an inclusive society.

There is still much to do to develop equality of opportunity in South African society.  Years of discrimination, of lack of education and training, of lack of access to resources leave deep structural divides.  However, much has been undertaken, and South Africa has the potential to be an economic and political leader in Africa.

Nelson Mandela is an example of courage and conviction to secure human rights, both in his own country and worldwide, an example of the long and continuing efforts needed for human freedom.

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

 

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