mercredi 27 avril 2011

Are Cluster Bombs Still in Use in Thai-Cambodian Fighting?

 Cluster Bombs
There are serious reports, but unconfirmed by independent observers, of the use of cluster weapons by Thai forces in the Good Friday, April 22, 2011, attack on Cambodian forces. This would be a direct violation of the ban on cluster weapons although neither Thailand nor Cambodia has ratified the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Laos is the only Southeast Asian State to have ratified. However, 108 States have signed the Convention and 56 have ratified by March 2011. Such a large number of signatures makes the Convention a central element of customary humanitarian law even if a State has not signed it.(1)
The early morning Good Friday fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops took place near the ancient temples of Ta Krabey and Ta Moan Thom, some 150 kilometres southwest of the better-known 900 year old Preah Vihear Temple where fighting had broken out in February 2011.  There have been repeated clashes around the Preah Vibear Temple, especially after 2008 when UNESCO enshrined Preah Vibear as a World Heritage site for Cambodia over Thai objections.  The World Court had in 1962 decided that Preah Vibear was on the Cambodian side of the frontier. However, the only roads for easy access to the temple are from Thailand.
The new round of fighting, which continued on Saturday April 23rd, along with the evacuation of the population of villages near the frontier, indicates that the situation remains volatile. The villages on the Cambodian side are relatively densely populated so that unexploded cluster weapons make farming difficult. Farming is the only civilian activity of the area, and the loss of livelihood is an emotional issue on which Cambodian officials can play.
The fighting in February 2011 had been brought for mediation to a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia which currently holds the rotating chairmanship agreed to send military observers to the frontier area.  However, they have not yet been sent, and Thai officials considered them unnecessary.
There have been suggestions that the renewed fighting is part of planning by factions within the Thai military in light of June legislative elections. There have even been suggestions that the fighting is a prelude to a military coup in Thailand. Obviously, there is no way to analyse motivations and tactics within the Thai Army. The fighting can also be a flair-up among nervous soldiers posted along the frontier and may have no lasting consequences.
However, the accusations of the use of cluster weapons pose clearly the issue of the investigative and complaints procedures of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Since the negotiations in the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD) during the 1969-1970 session on the convention banning the placement of nuclear weapons on the sea-bed (the Sea-Bed Treaty), the formula for investigation and complaint has been “appropriate international procedures.” “Verification pursuant to this Article may be undertaken by any state party using its own means, or with the full or partial assistance of any other state party, or through appropriate international procedures within the framework of the United Nations and in accordance with its Charter.”
At the time “appropriate international procedures” represented the highest common denominator of agreement between those CCD members led by Canada which wanted the verification procedures laid down in the treaty to accord a leading role to the UN Secretary-General and those led by the Soviet Union, which wanted verification to be the exclusive responsibility, within the UN, of the Security Council. To this day, verification procedures and follow-up sanctions in arms control treaties have always remained vague.
Now, in the same month, there have been two accusations of violations of the cluster weapons convention. The NGO Human Rights Watch has released a report that cluster weapons made in Spain have been used by Libyan Government forces in the attacks on Misrata, the vital seaport. The strength of international humanitarian law and of arms control treaties lies in their application and in the way that accusations of violations are treated. The case of Libya and Thailand is crucial, and we need to watch how “appropriate international procedures” are applied.
1. See “Banning Cluster Bombs: Light in the Darkness of ConflictsToward Freedom, 17 March 2010
Rene Wadlow is a Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

Modernizing the United Nations System: Civil Society’s Role in Moving from International Relations to Global Governance

John E. Trent
Modernizing the United Nations System: Civil Society’s Role in Moving from International Relations to Global Governance
(Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2007, 285pp.)

         Professor John Trent of the Department of Political Science, University of Ottawa, Canada sets out clearly the framework of this important study of the possible reforms of the United Nations. “Time and again, our international organizations have proven they cannot reform themselves.  The reasons are manifold.  There is no political will among their members.  Due to built-in interests and habits, transformation of human institutions is always long and arduous.  Nation-states concentrate on their own national interests. Politicians and diplomats are so busy managing the system that they have little time to think about its reform. Because of a lack of information, most citizens in most countries are unaware of the nature of international institutions and politics, and therefore feel uninvolved and incapable of influencing the global future…The world is strewn with the skeletons of noble ideas for ‘perpetual peace’ dating from the time of Emmanuel Kant in the 1790s.  Everyone has his pet ideas about specific reforms.”  As the long-time U.N. environmentalist Maurice Strong has said “These reform studies and recommendations have become something of an industry, and the fact that actual reforms have thus far been minimal is not for a lack of ideas but for lack of political will and a sufficient degree of consensus among member governments.”

            Trent provides a useful section on the main areas of U.N. reform which have been proposed by different study groups starting with the Commission on Global Governance and its 1995 report Our Global Neighbourhood as well as many more recent studies.  Websites are given for each study so that the specific recommendations may be analysed.  As Trent says of this list “The above table provides a good sample of the efforts to reform and innovate the international institutional framework, but it does not include the many individual scholars, activists and practitioners who contribute to the growing reform movement.  It is useful to note that some prominent individuals have dedicated a lot of energy to the reform agenda, either through scholarly contributions or advocacy.”

            The book begins with an analysis of the reforms carried out and proposed by the then Secretary-General Kofi Annan whom Trent calls ‘the Reforming Secretary-General’. As Kofi Annan said in his 2003 Report to the General Assembly “We can no longer take for granted that our multilateral institutions are strong enough to cope with all the challenges facing them.  I suggest in my conclusions that some of the institutions may be in need of radical reform.”

            Kofi Annan was the only U.N. Secretary-General to have spent his whole career within the U.N. system, first in Geneva and later in New York.  He knew well what changes he could make on his own authority as Secretary-General and those changes for which he would need larger intellectual consensus which he tried to develop with the creation of High Level Panels of largely retired government leaders and diplomats such as the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and a High Level Panel on Civil Society. Lastly, there were the reforms that required a vote of governments within the General Assembly such as the transformation of the Commission on Human Rights which was a sub-body of the Economic and Social Council into the Human Rights Council so that it now ranks on the official U.N. structure chart at the same level as the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  By writing new rules of procedure for the Human Rights Council, the governments were able to destroy all the advances that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had made over the years in the Commission on Human Rights and that NGOs were able to justify by precedent. “If it is done once, we want to be able to continue doing it.”

            Government representatives exist to limit the scope and actions of the representatives of NGOs, and I fear that any U.N. “reforms” will find ways to push NGO representatives even further into the shadows.  I believe that advances will come also by precedent-making decisions such as the current use of force by U.N. troops in the Ivory Coast.  If there, why not  in the Democratic Republic of Congo? If there were a U.N. commission set up to consider the use of force by U.N. troops, there would be no decision that would permit U.N. helicopters to fire on troops guarding Laurent Gbagbo’s house.

            Very little came from the proposals for reform that arose from the High Level Panels, and they had little impact on the policy of NGOs.

            If governments have no desire for structural reforms (other than to weaken NGOs which they can do in other ways), to whom can we turn to transform our international institutions?  Trent replies “Only one group has the competence and resources to influence government and public opinion both at the national and international levels.  This immense group is composed of the large transnational associations and the rest of civil society.  They have demonstrated that they have the capabilities, the specialized knowledge, and the altruistic reputation to lead governments and the public on the long complex journey to global transformation.  They have the potential but not yet the organizational will and muscle to do the task.  But it is not just its new structural presence on the international scene that presupposes a transformational role for civil society.  History shows us that it was leading citizens and groups, not governments, who were primarily responsible for the origin and evolution of international organizations. Governments react to threats and opportunities.  Civil society entrepreneurs act on foresight and principle … Not only have international non-governmental organizations become legitimate, recognized international actors, but the current confluence of the global system opens up opportunities for influence at the multiple locales and levels of global governance (defined as various forms of diverse and overlapping authorities in the world that have legitimacy in their field of endeavour so that their decisions are accepted and carried out.) Will civil society entrepreneurs seize the opportunity?  Will they mobilize public opinion to oppose international domination by the few and seek more representative global institutions and governance?”

            As Sidney Tarrow points out in his The New Transnational Activism (2005) “Even as they make transnational claims, these activists draw on the resources, networks, and opportunities of the societies in which they live.  Their most interesting characteristics is how they connect the local and the global.  In today’s world we can no longer draw a sharp line between domestic and international politics…Acting collectively requires activists to marshal resources, become aware and seize opportunities, frame their demands in ways that enable them to join with others, and identify common targets.”

            Tarrow stresses the importance of what he calls ‘campaign coalitions’ which may be the wave of the transnational future.  “ Their focus on a specific policy issue, their minimal institutionalization, their capacity to shift venues in response to changing opportunities and threats, and their ability to make short-term tactical alliances according to the current focus on interest.”

            Trent adds that “In such a sprawling world the advantage goes to those who can organize widespread networks.  Leadership has fallen to international non-governmental organizations that have the knowledge, time and money to experiment and the latitude to operate outside the interests of single countries and to develop long-term strategies.  The power base of these global associations and more generally of civil society is their specialized information, technical expertise, telecommunications, networks and relative ease of public participation and access.”

            Yet as Maurice Strong has pointed out “Civil society is therefore much more diverse and fragmented than governments and international organizations.  This is, of course, one of its virtues, but it leads to difficulty in providing for the participation of civil society in the official processes of governance.  Many civil society groups and organizations hold common positions on particular issues, but it is seldom feasible for them to present a united front. Sometimes the very number of small and fragmented organizations inhibits agreement on common positions.”

            As Trent concludes “It is probably true that the world needs far-sighted visionaries who can set the agenda for the future. But we also need to find a way to bring the various sorts of reformers together so that differences can be debated and perhaps overcome, and effective paths to the future elaborated.”

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

World Citizens call for a Thai-Cambodian Peace Zone

World Citizens call for a Thai-Cambodian Peace Zone: From Periodic Flair-ups to Permanent Cooperation
In a 23 April Appeal to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Rene Wadlow, Senior Vice-President and Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens called for renewed efforts to promote a zone of peace along the Thai-Cambodian frontier where fighting had broken out on Good Friday, 22 April, and was continuing on Saturday  the 23rd.  “Quick UN action is required to halt these periodic flair-ups and to create a zone of peace that would facilitate permanent cooperation” said the World Citizen Appeal.

         The early morning Good Friday fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops took place near the ancient temples of Ta Krabey and Ta Moan Thom some 150 kilometres southwest of the better-known 900 year old Preah Vihear  Temple where fighting had broken out in February. There have been repeated clashes around the Preah Vibear Temple, especially after 2008 when UNESCO enshrined Preah Vibear as a World Heritage site for Cambodia over Thai objections. The World Court had in 1962 decided that Preah Vibear was on the Cambodian side of the frontier.  However the only roads for easy access to the temple are from Thailand.

         The World Citizen proposal for a Thai-Cambodian peace zone is based on a “peace park-condominium zone of peace” between Ecuador and Peru proposed by Professor Johan Galtung at a time of growing military confrontations between the two South American countries and published in his collection of peace proposals: Johan Galtung 50 Years (Transcend University Press, 2008, 263pp.)

         The troops of the two countries would disengage and withdraw, and procedures would be established for joint security, patrolling, and early warning of military movements.  A code of conduct would be drawn up.  Thus the two countries with a history of hostility could use conflict creatively to grow together at the disputed point and at the speed national sentiments would tolerate and demand.  Such a zone of peace would be important both for conflict resolution and for protection of the ecology.

         The fighting in February had been brought for mediation to a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia which currently holds the rotating chairmanship agreed to send military observers to the frontier area.  However, they have not yet been sent, and Thai officials considered them unnecessary.

         However, the new round of fighting and the evacuation of the population of villages near the frontier indicate that the situation remains volatile. Joint cooperation between the United Nations and ASEAN would be important to create a stable form of third-party mediation. As Rene Wadlow pointed out in the World Citizen Appeal “Buddhist groups in both Thailand and Cambodia have been working for reconciliation based on the common value of compassion. There is a growing role for citizen diplomacy and mediation efforts. The Thai-Cambodian conflict is one in which such citizen diplomacy can play an important role, especially in building up the institutions of a zone of peace with joint centers for Buddhist study and practice as well as increased protection of the fragile environment. However, in light of the increased dangers of renewed fighting, swift action by governments is needed. The UN Security Council is best structured for deciding on the swift action needed”.

* Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens 

dimanche 24 avril 2011

Exposition HOPE sur l'Olypisme

Le Musée olympique de Lausanne consacre une exposition interactive aux idéaux du mouvement olympique et montre comment les Jeux peuvent parfois apaiser les tensions du monde. En accordant tout de même une petite place aux épisodes plus douloureux de l’olympisme moderne.

L'exposition «Hope – quand le sport peut changer le monde» à voir jusqu'au 6 novembre à Lausanne. (DR)

- Plus de détails sur l'évènement visibles en cliquant sur ce lien çi

et un lien vers le musée de l'olympisme là:

jeudi 21 avril 2011

Dixième session de l’Instance permanente sur les questions autochtones



Ordre du jour provisoire de la dixième session de l’Instance permanente

1. Élection du Bureau.
2. Adoption de l’ordre du jour et organisation des travaux.
3. Suite donnée aux recommandations de l’Instance permanente :
a) Développement économique et social;
b) Environnement;
c) Consentement préalable, donné librement et en connaissance de
4. Droits de l’homme :
a) Application de la Déclaration des Nations Unies sur les droits des
peuples autochtones;
b) Dialogue avec le Rapporteur spécial sur la situation des droits de
l’homme et des libertés fondamentales des peuples autochtones et
avec les autres mécanismes des Nations Unies compétents en
matière de droits de l’homme.
5. Discussion d’une demi-journée sur l’Amérique centrale, l’Amérique du
Sud et les Caraïbes.
6. Concertation globale avec les organismes et fonds des Nations Unies.
7. Travaux futurs, y compris les questions intéressant le Conseil
économique et social et les questions nouvelles.
8. Projet d’ordre du jour de la onzième session de l’Instance permanente.
9. Adoption du rapport de l’Instance permanente sur les travaux de
sa dixième session.

Pour plus d'informations veuillez cliquez sur ce lien :

samedi 16 avril 2011

Preventive Diplomacy

The idea of preventive diplomacy – acting at the first sign of conflict before a pattern of violence sets in – has been made popular by the then UN Secretary General Dr Boutros Boutros Ghali’s report Agenda for Peace (United Nations, 1992).  An earlier Secretary General U Thant has summed up preventive diplomacy as “one which is not heard of until it is successfully concluded or even never heard of at all.”  Preventive diplomacy is normally non-coercive, low-key, and confidential in its approach. 

                                   Preventive diplomacy is an aspect of the multi-layered relations between security, conflict resolution, respect for human rights, the development of democratic institutions, and the rule of law.  Preventive diplomacy works only if there is trust in the wisdom and impartiality of those taking the first steps.  This presupposes a strong, efficient, and independent international civil service whose integrity is beyond question and which has the financial base with which to act.

                                   A main component of preventive diplomacy is the creation of an effective early warning system.  At the first signs of conflict, such as persistent violations of human rights or refugee flows and the internal displacement of populations, a crisis team should be set up to monitor events.  There should follow increased analysis of the situation and fact finding.  Such efforts should be coupled with increased international pressure for negotiations and help to set up local-level activities to reduce tensions.  At some point in the process of preventive diplomacy, the leaders of the countries in crisis need to be informed that the process cannot remain confidential.  Even the most repressive leaders watch to see how much they can get away with before triggering an outraged external response.

                                   Basically, preventive diplomacy is predicated on the assumption of good faith on the part of governments and armed opposition groups.  There is a hope that governments and opposition will place the welfare of people as a whole over narrow interests.  Sadly, we know that easy optimism about the disinterestedness of political leaders would be misplaced.  A close analysis of power considerations in a crisis is an important part of successful diplomacy.

                                   Thus, preventive diplomacy is not restricted to United Nations or national government officials.  Non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and the media can all play a role.  It is important to find balanced and harmonious ways in which many different actors can play a positive role to prevent dangerous increases of violence.  A particularly effective example of non-governmental preventive diplomacy is the Pugwash Movement.  The Pugwash Movement was born from a Manifesto issued by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in London in 1955 when there was little communication between the Soviets and the Americans.  The non-aligned nations were not yet playing a major role and only scientists, especially those dealing with atomic physics, had the prestige that would make governments listen to what non-scientists had been saying since at least 10 years before.  We are speaking” says the Manifesto “on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt.  Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable:  Shall we put an end to the human race or shall mankind renounce war?  People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.

                                   It is this task of active reconciliation which must be undertaken by people acting outside of government structures.  Reconciliation must be the aim, compassion the spirit, non-violence the means.  The first step is to call upon all those with creative powers, with spiritual insight, and with true courage to make themselves known.  Each will have to act, alone and collectively, to overcome the trends toward violence in his own area.  But just as violence today is world wide and inter-related, so must non-violence have a world-wide vision and capacity for action.

                                   Thus, the second step is to organize so that the spirit of compassion may manifest itself across State frontiers.  Violence which crosses frontiers must be met with non-violence which crosses frontiers.  Each success of the work of reconciliation will bring new requests for help in mediation.  Thus, we must help prepare mediators who can work in different cultural settings.  These tasks of reconciliation will require persons from all cultures and all spiritual backgrounds.  Many of these “seed groups” of reconciliation and non-violent action already exist, but the seriousness of the political crisis requires new energies and additional people to express compassion in action.  We must all help to build trans-national networks of non-violent agents for reconciliation.

*Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

mardi 5 avril 2011

Hommage à Juliano Mer Khamis

tous droits réservés
Triste nouvelle hier en apprenant la mort de Juliano. On tue ceux qui sont à même de bâtir la paix.
C'est un coup dur porter à ceux qui par leur travail sur le terrain tentent doucement mais surement de construire une paix pour les générations à venir.
Des hommes masqués et armés auraient tiré plusieurs coups de feu en direction de Mer-Khamis, âgé de 52 ans, devant le théâtre qu'il avait lui-même fondé dans le camp de réfugiés de Jenine. Le Premier ministre palestinien Salam Fayyad a dénoncé le meurtre dans un communiqué.
 Ces dernières années, il dirigeait le Théâtre de la liberté à Jénine,

Mer Khamis était né à Nazareth d'une mère juive et d'un père arabe israélien de religion chrétienne. Il avait servi comme parachutiste dans l'armée israélienne. Il a joué dans près de trente films, notamment en 1984 dans La petite fille au tambour, une réalisation américaine, avec Diane Keaton