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Syria: ISIS Iconoclasts Leave a Bloody Trail of Destruction

In Cultural Bridges, Current Events, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on August 25, 2015 at 11:31 AM

SYRIA: ISIS ICONOCLASTS LEAVE A BLOODY TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION

By René Wadlow

On August 18, 2015 Dr Khaled al-Assad, retired director of the Palmyra museum and an officer of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, had his neck cut and his body hung from a traffic light pole. The 83 year-old archaeologist had been held in seclusion (and probably tortured) for three weeks. In the public square of Palmyra an accusation was read out that he was “the director of pagan idols”. Khaled al-Assad had been born in Palmyra and had spent most of his career there, writing numerous articles as well as directing archaeological sites. He had few rivals in his knowledge of the ancient crossroad city of Palmyra, an important link on the trade routes between Asia, North Africa, and Europe.

The public killing of Khaled al-Assad renewed concern for the historic sites. It was widely believed that many of the sites had had explosives placed in them to provoke their destruction. Sites in Palmyra had already been damaged during the fighting in the spring as the soldiers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or Daesh in Arabic) took control of the city and the surrounding area. Then on August 23, some of the explosives were set off, damaging the important Temple of Baal, one of the most visited sites in Palmyra. Baal – the Lord of the Heavens – was represented by an eagle. He was also a storm god shown holding a lightning bolt in his hand.

From a distance, it is hard to know what elements within ISIS are responsible for the destruction and what are the motivations. ISIS has attracted fighters from a good number of countries, and it is impossible to know the chains of command or the motivations. Many Syrians are proud of the vestiges of pre−Islamic civilizations, proof that the area was an important actor and in some ways a rival of Rome. The Directorate General of Antiquities has some 2,500 employees with a record of preserving Syria’s cultural heritage. In addition, some Syrian citizens, risking their lives, have tried to defend heritage sites or to hide away cultural objects. Moreover, ISIS agents as well as persons belonging to other armed factions have been looting objects to sell outside the country, either for personal gain or to finance their political faction, rather than destroying them.

When ISIS/Daesh took Palmyra last May, many people feared they might blow up the ancient city at once. They didn't, but now the vestiges of the ancient civilization there were soon turned into a stage for ISIS/Daesh to use toward propaganda purposes.

When ISIS/Daesh took Palmyra last May, many people feared they might blow up the ancient city at once. They didn’t, but now the vestiges of the ancient civilization most inappropriately serve as a stage for ISIS/Daesh to use toward propaganda purposes.

Thus, it is not clear who wants to destroy works of art and cultural heritage. Are there sincere iconoclasts for whom any object that recalls pre-Islamic worship is an insult to the Islamic faith? Are there people who just want to destroy and will blow up most anything? Are there people who believe that public killings and destruction of heritage will facilitate military expansion and control of the population? Is there any possibility of rational discussion and good-faith negotiations with ISIS authorities to preserve cultural sites in Syria and Iraq?

Conserving a cultural heritage even in times of peace is always difficult. Weak institutional capabilities, lack of appropriate resources and isolation of many culturally essential sites are compounded by a lack of awareness of the value of cultural heritage conservation. On the other hand, the dynamism of local initiatives and community solidarity are impressive assets. These forces should be enlisted, enlarged and empowered to preserve and protect a heritage.

ISIS/Daesh members enthusiastically destroying a historical ancient site. They may bring down every reminder of the past they come by, but try as they might, they cannot change history.

Are there ways that those of us on the “outside” can reach those in Syria and Iraq who wish to preserve cultural heritage and to defend the lives of those who work to preserve protect and inform?

My belief is that the current military action against ISIS, either with ground troops or bombing from the air, will have little positive impact. Armed force may lead some of the ISIS forces to a “burned earth” policy, destroying as much as they can before retreating. I think that there needs to be initiatives taken by those currently living under ISIS rule but who do not share ISIS values. They need to take actions to show ISIS leaders that their policies are an error and will lead to greater divisions within the population.

There is always a certain irony for someone in a safe area to encourage others to take actions which can put their lives in danger. Therefore, the least that we can do is to have a loud outcry from cultural workers throughout the world so that those in Syria and Iraq who will act positively know that they are not alone.

 

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

The Continuing Humanitarian Crisis and Violations of Human Rights in ISIS-held Areas in Iraq and Syria

In Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on August 25, 2015 at 9:00 AM

THE CONTINUING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS AND VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISIS-HELD AREAS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA

By René Wadlow

In an August 25, 2014 statement, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the “appalling, widespread, and systematic violations of human rights” by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The violations mentioned included targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking of women, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of religious and cultural sites of significance and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious and sectarian affiliation.

Among those directly targeted have been the religious communities of Christians, Yezidi (also written Yazidi) and Sabeans (also called Sabean-Mandaeans). In addition to the violation of human rights, the High Commissioner cited other UN reports stressing the humanitarian crisis and the severe shortages of food, water and the lack of medical services.

This sign, here painted in red on a wall with a circle around it, is the letter N in Arabic. When the IS started seizing predominantly Christian-inhabited areas of Iraq by force, its militiamen immediately painted this on houses they knew or thought were owned by Christians, N being for “Nasrani” which is itself the Arabic for “Christian”. A long echo of the Nazis’ practices in pre-World War II Germany, when Hitler’s own militiamen would paint a Star of David on the front door of each Jewish-owned business. That was just before the “Final Solution” which claimed over 6 million lives.

This sign, here painted in red on a wall with a circle around it, is the letter N in Arabic.
When ISIS started seizing predominantly Christian-inhabited areas of Iraq by force, its militiamen immediately painted this on houses they knew or thought were owned by Christians, N being for “Nasrani” which is itself the Arabic for “Christian”.
A long echo of the Nazis’ practices in pre-World War II Germany, when Hitler’s own militiamen would paint a Star of David on the front door of each Jewish-owned business. That was just before the “Final Solution” which claimed over 6 million lives.

One year later, the situation remains much the same, but with an increased number of people uprooted as internally displaced persons and refugees. The political situation has grown more complex, with Turkey playing an increasing if unclear role. Efforts at mediation by the UN of the Syrian aspects of the conflict have not given visible results. Russian diplomats have been meeting with some Syrian factions as well as with the Syrian government, but there seem to be no advances toward broader negotiations. The political and military actions of ISIS have effectively linked Iraq and Syria so that each conflict is linked to the other. A global approach for conflict resolution is needed.

The conflict has increased religious sectarian attitudes. It is hard for an outsider to know to what extent religious differences are deeply felt or if religion is used as a “cover” for ethnic, tribal, and economic interests. It is certain that ISIS has tried to give a religious coloring to its policies, with forced conversions and destruction of non-Islamic communities which refused conversion. Therefore, there needs to be an emphasis on freedom of religion or belief as set out by the United Nations.

An image grab taken from a propaganda video released on November 16, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows members of the Islamic State jihadist group preparing the simultaneous beheadings of at least 15 men described as Syrian military personnel. In the highly choreographed sequence, jihadists march the prisoners by a wooden box of long military knives, each taking one as they pass, before forcing their victims to kneel in a line and decapitating them. (C) AFP PHOTO

An image grab taken from a propaganda video released on November 16, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows members of the Islamic State jihadist group preparing the simultaneous beheadings of at least 15 men described as Syrian military personnel. In the highly choreographed sequence, jihadists march the prisoners by a wooden box of long military knives, each taking one as they pass, before forcing their victims to kneel in a line and decapitating them. (C) AFP PHOTO

One of the major UN declarations confirming a deep sense of inherent dignity is the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, adopted by the General Assembly on November 25, 1981 after a number of years of study and discussion in which the Association of World Citizens (AWC) took an active part. The Declaration states “that it is essential to promote understanding, tolerance and respect in matters relating to freedom of religion and belief and to ensure that the use of religion or belief for ends inconsistent with the Charter, other relevant instruments of the United Nations and the purposes and principles of the present Declaration is inadmissible.”

Article One states clearly that “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.”

World law as developed by the UN applies not only to the governments of Member States but also to individuals and non-governmental organizations. The ISIS has not been recognized as a State and is not a member of the UN. Nevertheless, the AWC is convinced that the terms of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief applies to the ISIS and that the actions of the ISIS are, in the terms of the Declaration, “inadmissible”.

Syrian demonstrators in Paris, France, vowing for "a democratic future" in Syria "without [Syrian President] Bashar [al-Assad] and without Daesh [ISIS]". (C) AWC/Bernard J. Henry

Syrian demonstrators in Paris, France, vowing for “a democratic future” in Syria “without [Syrian President] Bashar [al-Assad] and without Daesh [ISIS]”. (C) AWC/Bernard J. Henry

Life in the emerging world society requires world law and certain common values among all the States and peoples of the world.  The challenges which face us all require inclusive ethical values based on a sense of responsibility for both present and future generations.  Such values are, I am sure, in the heart of many individuals who are now living in areas under the control of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We must find ways to reach such people with the message that the policies of the ISIS leaders are deliberate violations of world law and ethical standards.  The majority of the world society is not hostile to the people living under ISIS rule and we look forward to the time when human rights standards will be the law of the land. In the meantime, they need to work as best they can for a tolerant and open society.

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

International Day of Friendship

In Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Development, Human Rights, United Nations on July 30, 2015 at 7:23 PM

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FRIENDSHIP

By Rene Wadlow

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly established in 2011 July 30 as the International Day of Friendship. The Day was to be a continuation of the themes of dialogue and mutual understanding proposed in the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). I had been active in getting the General Assembly resolution voted, building on the earlier Year of the Culture of Peace. My effort, backed by UNESCO which had been at the start of the concept of a “culture of peace”, was to add the word “nonviolence” to make the concept still clearer. Then, some of us wanted a focus on children because who can be against doing things for the benefit of children. It turned out during the negotiations prior to the introduction of the resolution that the UK and the USA were against the whole concept but were pushing the idea that “we are already doing enough for children by supporting UNICEF”.

Finally, in light of wide support for having such a Decade, the UK and the USA backed off although they had made a strong try to get “nonviolence” out of the title. There was still some debate as to the wording of the Decade. A colleague in New York called me in Geneva about the debate over the title. I replied that “the title was too long for public relations reasons, but it was not up to NGO representatives to suggest cuts. Let the governments do as they want for the title as long as they vote the resolution by consensus.” The governments kept all the words, voted the resolution by consensus and then did very little else. Both peace and nonviolence did not standout strongly during the 2001-2010 decade.

At the end of the Decade, there was a need to continue the spirit, and “friendship” could be seen to combine peace and nonviolence. Thus we now have a yearly International Day of Friendship.

The idea of an International Day of Friendship had been first developed in the 1930s in the USA by the president of a well-known company which made Christmas cards, Birthday cards, and cards to send on Mother’s Day. He suggested that everyone send cards to their friends and even people they did not know indicating the joys of friendship and the need to keep ties active and strong.

For a few years, there was a certain active interest, but then it looked too much like a commercial venture for his company to sell cards. In the middle of the summer, there were no other Days to celebrate, so a Day of Friendship could be a form of sales promotion. By the end of the 1930s and the start of the Second World War, the idea of an International Day of Friendship celebrated by sending cards had disappeared.

Now, however, we live in a different period of time than in the 1930s. Although there are still many world tensions and local wars as in the Middle East, the idea of friendship among all the peoples of the world could become a real force for cooperation.

Emails and the Internet can spread the idea that friendship is the basis of freedom in the world as it elevates the spirit. Friendship is as a ray of light coming from the burning core of the soul. Friendship can be a kind of love, a happy feeling when sharing a secret.

Paper still has its uses, and one can write a short text on the importance of friendship within the family, the school, neighborhood, nation and the world and send it to friends known and not yet known. 30 July, a day to renew and deepen friendships.

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

The Trial of Hissène Habré: An Advance for World Law

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on July 21, 2015 at 10:18 PM

THE TRIAL OF HISSENE HABRE: AN ADVANCE FOR WORLD LAW

By René Wadlow

The trial of Hissène Habré, former President of Chad, which opened in Dakar, Senegal, on July 20 marks a new step in transnational law. Habré will be tried in a specially constituted court created by a treaty between the African Union and the State of Senegal. The court is modeled on the statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, but is to deal only with cases concerning Africans. It will be important to see if this new African court will be a one-time-only institution for the Habré trial or if it becomes a permanent institution of world law.

The ICC has been criticized by some African leaders as being overly focused on Africans. Arrests and arrest warrants have been issued nearly exclusively against Africans. What is not mentioned in polite company is that Africa is the only continent where state institutions have totally disappeared − Somalia, Central African Republic, Libya − or where vast areas of a State are not under the control of the central government: the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the northeast areas of Nigeria. In addition, there are a good number of African States where the court system is so under the control of the executive that “fair trials” are out of question.

Thus, if African leaders were reluctant to see the ICC take on new African cases, an “all-African” alternative had to be created, even if it is nearly identical in the types of crimes to be judged and the way that evidence is to be collected. The judges in Dakar have already interviewed some 2,500 persons even before the trial started.

Not even the fact that the current Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, is an African from the nation of Guinea could silence critics who claim the ICC has been exerting racial bias against suspects from Africa, a most unfounded charge in our view. (C) EPA/Evert-Jan Daniels dpa  +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Not even the fact that the current Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, is an African from the nation of Guinea could silence critics who claim the ICC has been exerting racial bias against suspects from Africa, a most unfounded charge in our view. (C) EPA/Evert-Jan Daniels – Bildfunk

Hissène Habré is a sad case of an intelligent man blinded by his quest for power and then for holding on to power. In this process he destroyed large segments of ethnic groups who he suspected of wanting power. He also had killed any potential rivals, even those who had shown no opposition. It is estimated that in his eight years of power, some 40,000 persons were killed, some in the military campaigns against ethnic groups, but also some 4,000 political figures killed individually in jails and specially-designed torture centers. In his very last days in power in December 1990 as the forces of his general Idriss Deby were moving to overthrow him, he had 300 persons in jail killed as a last gesture. His very last gesture, however, was to take all the money available in the Treasury with him into exile in Senegal − money which has allowed him to live well and to contribute to the well-being of Senegal political figures.

Hissène Habré is a member of the Toubou ethnic group in northwest Chad. His intelligence was spotted by his teachers, and at the independence of Chad in 1960, he was given an important post in the provincial government at age 18. After two years of administration, he was selected to go to France for university studies in law and development economics. He even has a diploma in federalist-decentralization studies so he had heard that there were ways of dealing with ethnic minorities other than by killing them. Habré spent 9 years in France, mostly in Paris, and has the equivalent of two Master’s degrees in law and development economics.

In 1972, he returned to Chad but rather than becoming a government administrator, he joined a militia band that was trying to overthrow the government, and then formed his own militia group. Habré had been deeply influenced by the example and writings of Che Guevara and saw power as coming from “the people in arms.” He first attracted international, especially French, attention by taking hostages. The most famous − if unclear case − is taking the woman anthropologist Francoise Claustre hostage from 1974 to 1977. What makes the case unclear is the Habré and Claustre knew each other as students in Paris, and there was some talk that the hostage-taking was a common plot to get money out of the French government. The French military officer sent to negotiate her release was murdered by Chadian government officials, but Claustre was later released.

By 1978, Habré and his troops had become powerful enough that he was named Prime Minister. He learned his way around the administration, and in June 1982 he overthrew the then President Goukouni Oueddei and became President. Habré abolished the post of Prime Minister. He wanted no rivals in sight and until December 1990 ruled ruthlessly, helped by his security organization: Direction de la Documentation et de la Sécurité (DDS). His repressive administrative practices were hardly secret. However his administration was heavily supported by the governments of France and the USA as a barrier to the expansion of Colonel Qaddafi’s Libya.

Hissène Habré, then President of Chad, and his French counterpart François Mitterrand on the doorsteps of the Elysée Palace in Paris, France on October 21, 1989. Habré was then an African head of state to be reckoned with; now he is a suspect in the dock of an African court and can no longer run away from his deeds. (C) Reuters/Christine Grunnet

Hissène Habré, then President of Chad, and his French counterpart François Mitterrand on the doorsteps of the Elysée Palace in Paris, France on October 21, 1989. Habré was then an African head of state to be reckoned with; now he is a suspect in the dock of an African court and can no longer run away from his crimes. (C) Reuters/Christine Grunnet

In 1973, Libya had claimed and then occupied a strip of land − the Aouzou Strip − on the frontier between the two countries. Modern State frontiers have little meaning to the nomadic tribes of that area and so the frontier had never been well delimited. However, there were fears that Qaddafi wanted to annex all of Chad and had expansionist aims toward other countries of the Sahel. Hissène Habré was willing to give a free hand to the CIA which tried to create an anti-Qaddafi military force from captured Libyan soldiers. Since the CIA was willing to pay large amounts of money to set up its training bases, Habré had no objection, especially as the area occupied by Libya was of no particular interest or support to him.

French aid was more obvious. French soldiers were sent as a mark of support to the Habré government. Each time that French troops were sent as security for the capital, Habré could use his own troops to attack minority areas. Thus in 1983 French troops, code named “Manta” landed, and in 1984 Habré’s troops attacked the Sara population of south Chad. In 1986, French troops, code named “Epervier” (“Sharp-shinned Hawk”) landed and in 1987 Habré’s troops attacked the Hadjarai tribes: this pattern went on through 1989 and the attacks against the Zaghawa tribes.

By 1990, one of Habré’s generals, Idriss Deby said “Why not me?” and with some troops loyal to him overthrew Hissène Habré. Deby is still President of Chad and his troops are the most battle-tested of African armies, now busy helping the Nigerian army against Boko Haram on the Nigeria-Chad frontier.

In 1987 Ronald Reagan, the then President of the United States, welcomed Hissène Habré to the White House during his official visit to America. (C) Jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma/Corbis

In 1987 Ronald Reagan, the then President of the United States, welcomed Hissène Habré to the White House during his official visit to America. As President of Chad, Habré was never short of powerful allies in the West; today, as he faces punishment for his deeds, he stands alone. (C) Jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma/Corbis

Since 1990, Habré has lived a comfortable but low profile life in Dakar. However victims and their families from his years of rule have cried for revenge (or at least justice). Different avenues to bring Habré to trial have been used, especially a universal jurisdiction law of Belgium which held that persons accused of certain crimes such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, systematic torture, no matter where committed, could be tried in a Belgium court. This Belgium law has since been revoked but not before evidence on the Chadian case could be presented to the Belgium judges.

Evidence concerning torture and the killing of potential opponents by Habré’s security forces was carefully collected under the driving energy of Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch. Habré had friends among the governing elite of then President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, who protected him so that no trial could take place. However, with the new President of Senegal, Macky Sall, in power and the accumulation of evidence, the African Union and Senegal felt that something had to be done. Thus, the creation of the special court and the start of the trial. It is unlikely that new facts will be uncovered. Habré’s government was fairly open in its repression. The degree of active support of France and the USA will probably be pushed under the rug. Yet the trial merits watching closely. There are still other African dictators, some retired, others still in power. What impact will the trial and the court have on the rule of world law?

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

UN Human Rights Council Reaffirms the Safeguards for Civilians in Times of War

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, The Search for Peace, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on July 5, 2015 at 7:33 PM

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL REAFFIRMS THE SAFEGUARDS FOR CIVILIANS IN TIMES OF WAR

By René Wadlow

“Accountability for breaches of international humanitarian law and for human rights violations, as well as respect for human rights, are not obstacles to peace, but rather the preconditions on which trust and, ultimately, a durable peace can be built.”

– Navanethem Pillay, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2009.

On July 3, 2015, the concluding day of its summer session, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council welcomed the report of the “Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry” which indicated that the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups may have committed war crimes during the Israeli “Operation Protective Edge” campaign. 47 member States of the Human Rights Council voted in favor of the resolution, 5 States abstained: Kenya, Ethiopia, Macedonia, India and Paraguay; the USA was the only Member State to vote against the resolution.

The Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry was led by the New York Judge Mary McGowan Davis with Doudou Diène of Senegal, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism (2002-2008), as the other ranking member. The Commission was to study the legal implications of an earlier UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. The Commission was not established to evaluate the results of the Fact-Finding Mission which had largely confirmed the death tolls provided by the Gaza Hamas administration, some 2,250 Palestinians killed of which 1,462 civilians. Rather the Commission had the task of setting out the world law applications of the facts collected earlier.

Judge Mary McGowan Davis (left) and Doudou Diène (right).

Judge Mary McGowan Davis (left) and Doudou Diène (right).

Thus the focus of the Commission was the “Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War” of August 12, 1949. The Geneva Conventions, for which the International Committee of the Red Cross is responsible, grew out of deliberations started in 1947 in the shadow of the abuses of the Second World War. By 1949, the negotiations among governments led to the 1949 Red Cross Conventions. The emphasis was on the principles of protection and not on the punishment of wrong doers. The International Committee of the Red Cross is not an international court. It bases its protection efforts on the belief that all sides in a conflict have an interest to follow the laws of war as its soldiers or civilians could meet the same fate. If there is to be any action on trials and punishment, such trials should be done in national courts.

From 1974 to 1977, as a result of the war in Vietnam, there were subsequent laws of war negotiated to cover “civil wars” − wars within a State where the parties involved may not be States. (1)

Today, however, there is the International Criminal Court which can investigate as well as having the mandate to hold court trials and pass judgment. Investigations and trials can also be carried out at the national level. The Israeli argument has always been that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) can and does carry out investigations and that there is a functioning national court system. The Hamas-led administration of Gaza makes the same argument.

Unfortunately, both Israel and Hamas have dismal records of investigating their own forces. I am unaware of any case where a Hamas fighter was punished for deliberately shooting a rocket into a civilian area of Israel − on the contrary, some Hamas leaders repeatedly praise such acts. While Israel has carried out investigations into alleged violations by its forces, the emphasis has been on the unauthorized actions of individual soldiers, not on policy makers. Yet the Gaza Conflict Commission stressed that “military tactics are reflective of a broader policy approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest levels of the Israeli government.”

A demonstrator raises the Palestinian flag during a July 2014 rally in Paris against the Israeli attack on Gaza. (C) AWC/Bernard J. Henry

A demonstrator raises the Palestinian flag during a July 2014 rally in Paris against the Israeli attack on Gaza. (C) AWC/Bernard J. Henry

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) active in UN human rights bodies, including the Association of World Citizens, have long stressed the importance of fact-finding carried out by the UN, intergovernmental bodies such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and NGOs themselves. (2)

There are now two follow-up steps set out by the Human Rights Council resolution:

1) A request is made that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (and thus the Secretariat) prepare a report on implementation measures;

2) A recommendation that the UN General Assembly take up the matter “until it is satisfied that appropriate action is taken to implement its recommendations.”

The Israeli government has replied angrily to the resolution, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva calling it an “anti-Israeli manifesto” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying “the UN Human Rights Council cares little about the facts and less still about human rights.”

Rather, I would say that the resolution is an important procedural advancement in the respect of world law in times of conflict. In the past, there have been UN-authorized fact-finding missions with the reports going directly to discussion in the UN Commission on Human Rights (as it was then) and then to the UN General Assembly. With the Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry we have a useful intermediary step. First there is a fact-finding effort as close in time to the events as possible to interview victims, to see the physical damage and to interview the military and other combatants. Such fact-finding is done, as it were “in the heat of the action”.

In late July 2014 Gazan doctors saved the life of little Shaima, an unborn child, by extracting her from the womb of her mother who was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Two days later, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the sole existing power plant in Gaza, thus stopping Shaima’s life support system and eventually killing the baby too.

In late July 2014 Gazan doctors saved the life of little Shaima, an unborn child, by extracting her from the womb of her mother who was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Two days later, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the sole existing power plant in Gaza, thus stopping Shaima’s life support system and eventually killing the baby too.

Then there is a calm, legal review of the fact-finding reports. In the past when I have been present at debates on fact-finding reports in the Commission on Human Rights, the debates were anything except calm and legal. They were political exchanges which reflected the evaluations of the original conflict. In this case of the Gaza Commission, we have an orderly presentation of facts, avenues to strengthen protection, and suggestions on the role of the International Criminal Court. There is no guarantee that the discussions in the next UN General Assembly will be calm and focused on legal procedures, but at least there will have been this useful intermediary step.

As things now stand, world law is not created by the decisions of a world parliament. World law is basically the “common law of mankind”’ based on small advances. Usually the first step is to set out the basic values in widely agreed-upon texts such as the Red Cross Geneva Conventions. This is followed by a recognition that there are repeated violations of these values in the practice of war, the torture of individuals, massive aggression against minorities. After repeated violations, there is the very slow realization that such violations are not acceptable and if nothing is done, the values themselves will be permanently undermined.

We are now at this last stage as concerns Gaza. The repeated bombings of the Gaza Strip do not bring peace, security or socioeconomic development. In fact, each bombing campaign creates a more difficult situation. It is not a function of world law to say what socioeconomic-political measures should be taken, though as NGO representatives we can and have made suggestions. The function of world law is to set out clearly the value basis of the law, to set out fair procedures to deal with possible violations and ultimately to see if there can be sanctions or punishment for wrong doers.

I believe that we still have many miles to go on the path for the respect of world law, but I believe that the direction is now set.

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

Notes

1)      See Hilaire McCoubrey and Nigel White, International Law and Armed Conflict (1992)

2)      See B. G. Ramcharan (ed), International Law and Fact-Finding in the Field of Human Rights (1983)

For NGO Fact-finding, see Hans Tholen and B. Verstappen, Fact-Finding Practice of Non-Governmental Organizations (1986)

June 26: Anniversary of the Signing of the UN Charter

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on June 26, 2015 at 6:24 PM

JUNE 26: ANNIVERSARY OF THE SIGNING OF THE UN CHARTER

By René Wadlow

June 26 is the anniversary date of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations (UN) in San Francisco in 1945. While “UN Day” is usually celebrated on October 24, when the UN Charter came into force after the ratification by States and especially the needed ratification by the five permanent members of the proposed Security Council, it was June 26 that the UN Charter was presented to the world.

As a friend noted, “I prefer to celebrate the birth and not the baptism”. Thus for this June 26, we will look at two reports which outline challenges facing the emerging world society, and the role that the UN should play.

Dumbarton Oaks: A New Beginning – With Old Recipes

The UN Charter was largely written by a small number of persons − largely Americans and Englishmen − meeting during September 1944 at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. For readers not living in Washington, Dumbarton Oaks is a large house and estate in a then calm part of Washington where those drafting the Charter could meet quietly, leading to the little poem written at the time:

“A plan for peace, in war, evokes

Few Yeas, and perfect floods of Buts

Yet the original Dumbarton Oaks

Were also, at the start, just nuts.”

The Dumbarton Oaks proposals were largely based on the structure of the League of Nations but with a larger role of the “Great Powers” such as the “veto” power in the Security Council to guarantee USA participation and that of the USSR which had been expelled from the League. Since the presentation of the Charter in 1945, there have been criticisms and proposals for reforms and revisions. In August 1945, Milton Mayer, an active member of the Campaign for World Government and a journalist working closely with the University of Chicago-based Committee to Frame a World Constitution wrote “If San Francisco, embodying, as it does, all that is wrong with the world, not only embodying it, but sanctifying it, if San Francisco is the best we can get, are we so old, and sad and hopeless, that we have to accept it as the best we can get?”

In response to criticisms, the UN Charter provided that a Review conference on the Charter would be put on the Agenda 10 years after the Charter’s coming into force − that is in 1955. With the end of the Korean War in 1953, there began an intense discussion of UN Charter revision during 1954 and the first half of 1955. In practice, neither the US nor the Soviet Union wanted a discussion of the Charter so the issue was “swept under the rug” in exchange for a USA-USSR agreement to allow a number of States whose entry to UN membership had been blocked by Cold War rivalries to gain membership. However, the issue of Charter revision was still a hot topic in 1955-1956.

Let the Voice of NGOs Be Heard At Last

My first efforts as a Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) representative at the UN were in 1955, when there was a tenth anniversary session in San Francisco. Many of the 1945 “founding fathers” returned, some like the Soviet Foreign Minister V. Molotov still in power. We NGOs had a rich documentation of possible reforms for the UN system, thought possible as the end of the Korean War had produced a short-lived “Cold War calm”. The Fall of 1956 with the revolts in Hungary and the English-French-Israeli attack on Egypt and the Suez canal put an end to the brief “era of good feelings”, and academic research shifted from UN reform to the nature of “limited war.”

However, for the 70th anniversary this June, two useful reports have been issued: the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance led by Madeleine Albright, former United States (U. S.) Secretary of State and Ibrahim Gambari, former Foreign Minister of Nigeria and former UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, issued their report Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance (1) At the same time, the UN-created High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, led by Jose Ramos Horta, former President of Timor-Leste, issued its recommendations stressing that “Primacy of politics means that lasting peace is achieved through political solutions and not through military and technical engagements alone. Political solutions must guide all UN peace operations.”

Left to right: Madeleine Albright, Ibrahim Gambari, and Jose Ramos Horta.

Both reports are worth reading as a reflection of current thinking. Personally, I was glad to find no new ideas. If there had been ideas and proposals that I had not heard before, I would have had the impression of getting old and being “out of things”. Rather, what is striking in both reports is the emphasis given to the crucial role of NGOs, now usually called by the larger but less clear term of “civil society”.

Both reports highlight the trend toward greater openness to the participation of NGOs in world policy processes and in the implementation of programs. Both governments and the UN increasingly recognize the importance of having more diverse voices at the table and especially “on the ground”. The Commission on Global Security report is structured around what it sees as the three crucial challenges facing the emerging world society: State fragility, climate governance and the stewardship of the world economy. As the report states “Global governance is a mix of bilateral informal multilateral, and treaty-based relations among states increasingly influenced by non-state actors’ interests and activities.”

The report recognizes that any reforms of UN structures is difficult − basically impossible − because the system works “well enough” to suit most governments and that most governments are not willing to risk major changes in the world society because of unknown consequences. Therefore change and improvements will come only through forceful and coordinated efforts from the non-state sector. In the “non-state sector” the report places NGOs in consultative status with the UN, currently some 4,000 NGOs, the 2,000 largest business firms, most of which are active in more than one State, and the 750 largest cities which increasingly have trans-frontier impacts.

Both the Commission and the High-Level Independent Panel consulted NGOs, but the NGO views are not presented as such. For the moment, it is difficult to speak of a common NGO view, especially if we need to integrate the views of transnational corporations and city administrations. NGOs come in all shapes and sizes, and some seek UN accreditation for domestic reasons and do not really participate in UN activities. The reports set out the challenges well. The next step is to develop a broad understanding among NGOs of these challenges and of the steps which they can undertake collectively − an appropriate birthday present.

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

Omar al-Bashir: As a Thief in the Night

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, The Search for Peace, United Nations, War Crimes, World Law on June 19, 2015 at 9:39 PM

OMAR AL-BASHIR: AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

By René Wadlow

In what was almost a “Pinochet moment” in South Africa, a South African nongovernmental organization (NGO), Southern African Litigation Centre, requested a South African court to serve two International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. The South African Supreme Court issued an order that al-Bashir not leave South Africa until the Supreme Court had been able to decide on the validity of the request. Al-Bashir had been in Johannesburg, South Africa, to participate in the yearly Summit of the African Union (AU). Al-Bashir left by his governmental jet on June 13 before the Supreme Court was able to meet.

The ICC arrest warrants of 2009 issued by a panel of three judges contains seven charges including crimes against humanity, murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, rape, attacks against civilian populations and pillaging. The through examinations of the evidence presented by the then Chief Prosecutor of the ICC confirmed the statements which NGOs, including the Association of World Citizens (AWC), had been making to the United Nations (UN) human rights bodies in Geneva since early 2004.

The charges against al-Bashir concern the conflict in Darfur which began in 2003 and not the 1982-2005 civil war between north and south Sudan which led to the creation of a separate State of South Sudan in 2011. The 1982-2005 civil war was the second half of a civil war which had started in 1954 on the eve of the independence of Sudan which was granted in 1956. The 1954-1972 war was stopped when a ceasefire largely organized by the World Council of Churches came into force. Unfortunately, the ten years of “non-war” were not used to deal with the basic issues of the structure of the State and the need for regional autonomy in light of the cultural-ethnic differences within the State. Thus in 1982 the civil war started again during which there were many violations of the laws of war (now usually called humanitarian law). The north-south civil war violations are not part of the ICC charges which concern only the Darfur conflict.

It was Baltasar Garzon, a Spanish judge, who in 1998 urged the United Kingdom to arrest Chile’s former military ruler Augusto Pinochet while he was on British soil, hoping to make him accountable for his deeds as leader of the country’s brutal military dictatorship from 1973 to 1989. Although the British government eventually allowed Pinochet to return to Chile without being prosecuted, the case did set a precedent in international law against enduring impunity for human rights violators. (C) AFP

Darfur (the home of the Fur) was always marginal to the politics of modern Sudan. In the 19th century, Darfur, about the size of France, was an independent Sultanate loosely related to the Ottoman Empire. Darfur was on a major trade route from West Africa to Egypt and so populations from what is now northern Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Chad joined the older ethnic groups of the area: the Fur, Massalits, Zaghawa, and the Birgit.

France and England left Darfur as a buffer zone between the French colonial holdings − what is now Chad − and the Anglo-Egyptian controlled Sudan. French-English rivalry in West Africa had nearly led earlier in the 1880s to a war. Thus a desert buffer area was of more use than the low agricultural and livestock production would provide to either colonial power. It was only in 1916 during the First World War when French-English colonial rivalry in Africa paled in front of the common German enemy that the English annexed Darfur to the Sudan without asking anyone in Darfur or in the Sudan if such a ‘marriage’ was desirable.

Darfur continued its existence as an environmentally fragile area of Sudan. It was marginal in economics but largely self-sufficient. Once Sudan was granted its independence in 1956, Darfur became politically as well as economically marginal. Darfur’s people have received less education, less health care, less development assistance and fewer government posts than any other region.

In 2000, Darfur’s political leadership and intellectuals met to draw up a ‘Black Book’ which detailed the region’s systematic under-representation in the national government since independence. The ‘Black Book’ marked the start of a rapprochement between the Islamists and the secular radicals of Darfur which took form three years later with the rise of the more secular Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Islamist-leaning Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). However, at the level of the central government, the ‘Black Book’ led to no steps to increase the political and economic position of Darfur. This lack of reaction convinced some in Darfur that only violent action would bring about recognition and compromise as the war with the South had done.

Members of the Sudanese Liberation Army in Susuwa, north Darfur. (C) Candace Feit/Reuters

Members of the Sudanese Liberation Army in Susuwa, north Darfur. (C) Candace Feit/Reuters

The two Darfur groups, SLA and JEM, in 2002 started to structure themselves and to gather weapons and men. Their idea was to strike in a spectacular way which they hoped would lead the government to take notice and to start wealth-sharing negotiations. Not having read the ‘Little Red Book’ of Mao, they did not envisage a long drawn-out conflict of the countryside against the towns of Darfur. By February 2003, the two groups were prepared to act, and in one night attacked and destroyed many of Sudan’s military planes based at El Fasher. The Sudan military lost in one night more planes than it has lost in 20 years of war against the South.

However, the central government’s ‘security elite’ − battle hardened from the fight against the South but knowing that the regular army was over-extended and tired of fighting − decided to use against Darfur techniques that had been used with some success against the South: to arm and to give free reign to militias and other irregular forces.

Thus the government armed and directed existing popular defense forces and tribal militias. Especially the government also started pulling together a fluid and shadowy group, now called the Janjaweed (“the evildoers on horseback”). To the extent that the make-up of the Janjaweed is known, it seems to be a collection of bandits, of Chadians who had used Darfur as a safe haven for the long-lasting insurgencies in Chad and the remains of Libya’s Islamic Forces which had once been under the control of the Libyan government but left wandering when Libyan policy changed.

A member of the murderous, death-sowing Janjaweed militia of Sudan. (C) Sudan Tribune

A member of the murderous, death-sowing Janjaweed militia of Sudan. (C) Sudan Tribune

The Sudanese central government gave these groups guns, uniforms, equipment and indications where to attack by first bombing villages but no regular pay. Thus the Janjaweed militias had to pay themselves by looting houses, crops, livestock, by taking slaves and raping women and girls. Village after village was destroyed on the pretext that some of the villagers supported either the SLA or the JEM; crops were burned, water wells filled with sand. As many people as possible fled to Chad or to areas thought safer in Darfur. The current situation in 2015 in Darfur remains complex and will be described in a later article.

The crimes which the ICC investigated and issued the arrest warrants concern the earlier 2004-2005 period. Although the SLA and the JEM have now divided into numerous armed groups, the type of violations of the laws of war continue and are about the same. There is a certain irony that the crimes cited by the ICC were less the work of the Sudanese Army which is more or less under the command of al-Bashir than of the Janjaweed. However, al-Bashir as President is responsible for all activities in Sudan.

President al-Bashir of Sudan may have escaped arrest and prosecution in South Africa, but now he is warned: Whatever country he may visit in the near future, he is no longer guaranteed to freely fly back to Sudan afterward and avoid answering for his crimes back home.

President al-Bashir of Sudan may have escaped arrest and prosecution in South Africa, but now he is warned: Whatever country he may visit in the near future, he is no longer guaranteed to freely fly back to Sudan and avoid answering for his crimes back home.

For the moment, the ICC has dropped active involvement in the al-Bashir case due to the impossibility of an arrest and a trial. Al-Bashir proclaimed that the recent dropping of the case was the same as being declared “innocent” but it is not. He had no doubt checked with the South African government what its policy would be in practice if he went there for the AU Summit. He must have been told that all the police in South Africa have a blind eye and would not see him coming or going. The government did not expect an NGO action or the Supreme Court order. But the South African police all do have a blind eye, and as a thief in the night, al-Bashir returned to Sudan.

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

Palmyra: Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Periods of Armed Conflict

In Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on May 22, 2015 at 9:16 PM

PALMYRA: PROTECTION OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF HUMANITY IN PERIODS OF ARMED CONFLICT

By René Wadlow

In a May 15, 2015 message to Madame Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) highlighted its Appeal for a Humanitarian Ceasefire in and around Palmyra, Syria, a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity site.

On May 15, there was an intensification of fighting around Palmyra between the forces of ISIS/Daesh and the Syrian Government. A humanitarian ceasefire was an appropriate measure at that time. Now, it seems that the ISIS/Daesh forces have taken control of the city and some of the area around it. Thus, the AWC Appeal must be addressed to the leadership of the ISIS/Daesh, although the AWC has no direct communication avenues to the ISIS/Daesh leadership.

Palmyra is a rich contribution to the cultural heritage of all the Syrian people, no matter to what political faction they may now belong. Moreover, Palmyra is for all of humanity a moving example of trade routes such as the Silk Road and cultural exchanges through the centuries. For some 400 years, Palmyra was an important outpost of the Roman Empire, a link between the Gulf and the Mediterranean.

The ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. Is ISIS/Daesh going to destroy such a place which stands out as a jewel of history in the Middle East?

The ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. Is ISIS/Daesh going to destroy this site which stands out as a jewel of history in the Middle East? (C) Encyclopaedia Britannica

We believe that if ISIS/Daesh wishes to be seen as a valid participant in future negotiations concerning the future of Syria and Iraq, it must show its willingness to respect world law.  The protection of the cultural heritage of humanity is an important element of world law binding on States, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals.

The AWC works in the tradition of the Roerich Peace Pact and its Banner of Peace for the protection of cultural institutions.

Early efforts for the protection of educational and cultural institutions were undertaken by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) a Russian and world citizen. Nicholas Roerich had lived through the First World War and the Russian Revolution and saw how armed conflicts can destroy works of art and cultural and educational institutions. For Roerich, such institutions were irreplaceable and their destruction was a permanent loss for all humanity. Thus, he worked for the protection of works of art and institutions of culture in times of armed conflict.  Thus, he envisaged a universally-accepted symbol that could be placed on educational institutions in the way that a red cross had become a widely-recognized symbol to protect medical institutions and medical workers.

Roerich proposed a “Banner of Peace” − three red circles representing the past, present and future − that could be placed upon institutions and sites of culture and education to protect them in times of conflict.

The Banner of Peace once proposed by World Citizen Nicholas Roerich.

The Banner of Peace once proposed by World Citizen Nicholas Roerich.

Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s for the establishment of this Banner of Peace.  Henry A. Wallace, then the United States Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President, was an admirer of Roerich and helped to have an official treaty introducing the Banner of Peace − the Roerich Peace Pact − signed at the White House on April 15, 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony.  At the signing, Henry Wallace on behalf of the USA said “At no time has such an ideal been more needed.  It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity.  It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs. Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in additions the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in one fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith.”

As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of his Pact “The world is striving toward peace in many ways, and everyone realizes in his heart that this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era.  We deplore the loss of libraries of Lou vain and Overdo and the irreplaceable beauty of the Cathedral of Reims.  We remember the beautiful treasures of private collections which were lost during world calamities.  But we do not want to inscribe on these deeps any worlds of hatred.  Let us simply say: Destroyed by human ignorance − rebuilt by human hope.”

 

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

POUR UN NOUVEL ANTI-ESCLAVAGISME

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, United Nations, War Crimes, Women's Rights on February 10, 2015 at 12:10 AM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

L’Association of World Citizens

dit

L’ESCLAVAGE,

PLUS JAMAIS CA !

  1. L’esclavage est IMMORAL,
  2. L’esclavage est CONTRAIRE AU DROIT MONDIAL,
  3. L’esclavage doit être VAINCU SANS RECOURIR A LA GUERRE.

L’asservissement, la vente tel du bétail, et le mariage forcé de femmes et de jeunes filles par l’ « Etat islamique » (Daesh) dans les zones de l’Irak et de la Syrie qu’il a soumises par la barbarie, ainsi que par Boko Haram dans le nord-est du Nigéria, appellent une réaction concertée, notamment dans la mesure où cette pratique risque de s’étendre à d’autres zones telles que le nord du Cameroun et du Niger si l’influence de Boko Haram continue de croître.

C’est pourquoi l’Association of World Citizens appelle à un effort aussi vaste que possible en direction d’un Nouveau Mouvement Anti-Esclavagiste, rappelant à cette fin la devise du Libérateur (1831-1865) de William Lloyd Garrison, «Notre pays, c’est le Monde, et tous les êtres humains sont nos compatriotes».

Aux Etats-Unis, l’abolition de l’esclavage ne fut qu’un aspect de la sanglante Guerre de Sécession qui n’a produit que de l’amertume et n’a eu d’influence sur les relations interraciales que négative. En France, une première abolition de l’esclavage dans la fureur guerrière de la Révolution n’a abouti qu’à son rétablissement sous un Premier Empire qui s’est montré tout aussi guerrier, l’abolition définitive n’étant venue, avec Victor Schoelcher, que lorsque les canons se furent enfin tus. C’est pourquoi nous croyons fermement que l’esclavage tel que le pratiquent Daesh et Boko Haram doit être vaincu sans qu’il y ait pour cela recours à une guerre.

A travers les frappes aériennes en cours contre Daesh et l’action militaire kurde pour enrayer les atrocités de ce dernier, les tambours de la guerre se font pourtant d’ores et déjà entendre. Les troupes tchadiennes et camerounaises se sont jointes aux forces armées nigérianes pour empêcher Boko Haram de nuire plus avant, ce qui ne fera toutefois qu’ajouter encore au conflit armé déjà violent dans la région. Des armées peuvent vaincre d’autres armées, mais comme le rappelle l’Acte constitutif de l’UNESCO, «Les guerres prenant naissance dans l’esprit des hommes, c’est dans l’esprit des hommes que doivent être élevées les défenses de la paix».

Nous croyons donc que la réponse au problème doit venir d’un mouvement social et populaire issu des sociétés irakienne, syrienne et nigériane, qui reconnaissent toutes que l’esclavage est immoral et constitue une violation du droit mondial. La prohibition de l’esclavage est un élément crucial du droit mondial, au sein duquel elle s’est manifestée historiquement tant par les interdictions du trafic d’esclaves au dix-neuvième siècle, obtenues grâce au combat du Mouvement Anti-Esclavagiste de l’époque, que par celles édictées plus tard par la Société des Nations et enfin par l’action des Nations Unies depuis leur création en 1945.

Aujourd’hui, c’est d’un Nouveau Mouvement Anti-Esclavagiste que nous avons besoin, afin d’en appeler à toutes celles et tous ceux qui, au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique, peuvent et veulent nous rejoindre pour réaffirmer et renforcer le respect de la dignité humaine, en particulier des femmes et des jeunes filles, ainsi que le respect des droits des minorités religieuses quelles qu’elles soient.

REJOIGNEZ-NOUS DANS CE COMBAT!

THE NEW ABOLITIONISTS

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Current Events, Human Rights, International Justice, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, United Nations, War Crimes, Women's Rights, World Law on February 9, 2015 at 11:19 PM

-- AWC-UN Geneva Logo --

The Association of World Citizens

says

 NO TO SLAVERY!

  1. Slavery is IMMORAL,
  2. Slavery is BANNED BY WORLD LAW,
  3. Slavery must be OVERCOME WITHOUT RESORT TO WAR.

The enslavement, sale, and forced marriage of women and girls by the Islamic State (ISIS) in parts of Iraq-Syria and by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria calls for concerted action, especially as the practice may spread to other areas such as northern Cameroon and Niger if the influence of Boko Haram grows.

Therefore, the Association of World Citizens calls for a broad effort of a New Abolitionist Movement, recalling the motto of The Liberator (1831-1865) of William Lloyd Garrison “Our country is the world; our countrymen are all mankind.”

As slavery was abolished in the United States only as an aspect of a bloody civil war which left long bitterness and influenced race relations negatively, we believe that slavery in ISIS and Boko Haram-held areas must be overcome without recourse to a war. The signs of war are already present in air strikes on ISIS positions and Kurdish military action. The joining of troops from Chad and Cameroon to Nigerian forces to combat Boko Haram can also lead to increased armed conflict.

Rather, we believe that reform must come from within Iraqi, Syrian and Nigerian society which recognizes that slavery is immoral and a violation of world law. The banning of slavery is a core element of world law: the unilateral bans on the slave trade of the nineteenth century in response to the efforts of the Abolitionist Movements, the League of Nations bans, and the continuing efforts of the United Nations.

Today, a New Abolitionist Movement is needed to reach out to those in the wider Middle East and Africa to join in strengthening respect for human dignity, respect of women and girls and respect of religious minorities.

JOIN US IN THIS COMMON CAUSE!

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