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Yemen: Basic Needs Planning is Necessary for Post-War Region

Written by Rene Wadlow Published: 16 August 2016
As a result of Saudi-led bombing raids, Yemen's underdeveloped socio-economic infrastructure has been largely destroyed. The UN-mediated peace negotiations led by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania, who had been earlier the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, have been broken off and most probably will not meet again in the near future.
The most probable next steps will be a division of the country into two with several, largely autonomous areas within both. The country's present form dates from 1990 when south Yemen (Aden) was more or less integrated into the north, but the country remains highly fractured along tribal, sectarian and ideological lines with the tribal structures being the most important. In the best of worlds, one could envisage a federal Yemen with the rule of law. More realistically, we could hope that these largely autonomous tribal areas do not fight against each other actively. On a short-term basis, we can hope that there will be minimum cooperation among the factions to allow necessary food imports and medical supplies linked to a cease-fire on Saudi air raids.
There is a serious need first for post-war planning to be followed by international aid for development. “Reconstruction” would be the wrong term since there was little that had been “constructed.” Rather, we need to look to a post-war socio-economic construction developed on a basic needs approach.
The Basic Needs Approach to Development with its emphasis on people as central to the development process is embodied in the June 1976 World Employment Conference Declaration of Principles and Program of action. (1) The Declaration underlines the importance of the individual and the central role of the family and household as the basic unit around which to work for development.
Although the Basic Needs Approach builds on the development thinking of the United Nations and national governments of the 1950s and 1960s such as rural development, urban poverty alleviation, employment creation through small-scale industries, the Declaration of Principles is a major shift in development strategies with its focus on the family with the objective of providing the opportunities for the full physical, mental, and social development of the human personality. The Program of Action defines a two-part approach: “First, Basic Needs includes certain minimum requirements of a family for private consumption: adequate food, shelter and clothing, as well as certain household equipment and furniture. Second, Basic Needs includes essential services provided by and for the community at large, such as safe drinking water, sanitation, public transport, health, education and cultural facilities.”
The Program added a basic element to the actions: “A Basic Needs-oriented policy implies the participation of the people in making the decisions which affect them through organizations of their own choice.”
The Basic Needs Approach concentrates on the nature of what is provided rather than on income − income having often been used as the criteria for drawing a 'poverty line.' The Basic Needs Approach is concerned not only with the underemployed but also with the unemployable: the aged, the sick, the disabled, orphaned children and others. Such groups have often been neglected by the incomes and productivity approach to poverty alleviation and employment creation.
For Yemen, which is largely structured on the basis of clan- extended family institutions, the Basic Needs Approach is most appropriate. In practice, there are few institutions or associations beyond the clan level, although tribal and religious identities are often mentioned. Tribes and religious identity are “shorthand” terms as it is impossible to mention the multitude of clans. However, a family welfare – meeting basic needs is the most appropriate strategy on which to base post-war planning. Although the fighting continues sporadically and agreement on a possible “unity government” seems far away, Basic Needs Planning must start now.
Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens                      
Note
1) See the Director General's Report and the Declaration in the International Labour Office. Employment, Growth and Basic Needs: A One World Problem (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1977, 224pp.)
   
 
   


Antoine de Saint Exupery: Solitude and Solidarity
by Rene Wadlow

Antoine de Saint Exupéry (1900-1944), whose birth anniversary we note on 29 June was a cosmopolitan humanist in the Stoic tradition. He belonged to the rural nobility of France and could have used the title of Count but never did. His mother, however, did use the title of Countess and raised her five children in a large property in central France, near Lyon, her husband having died shortly after the birth of her fifth child. Saint Ex as he is usually called was the middle child and the older boy. He always recalled the calm atmosphere of the property where he grew up, “spoiled” by his mother and older sisters.

The Saint Exupéry family was traditionally Roman Catholic, and his mother was very attracted to Catholic practice. Antoine, however, by temperament and intellectually grew early to hold views close to those of Henri Bergson, a belief in an impersonal cosmic energy that was the motor of evolution. Some would call this cosmic energy “God” though Saint Ex rarely did. However, out of respect for his mother, he never expressed anti-clerical ideas. A reflective youth, he was often called “dreamy” and was most at ease in solitude. Solitary reflection in a state of harmony with Nature was his character throughout life, and in this he was close to the Greek and Roman Stoics.

In secondary school and at university, he studied science, and later in life with his experience as a pilot, he held several patents for airplane improvements. France had a system of universal military service for men when one reached 21. Thus in 1921 Saint Ex was taken into the military and trained as a pilot − the importance of the military use of the air force having been shown in the 1914-1918 First World War. On finishing his military service and with no set career plans, he used his air force training to join the newly created postal air service between Europe and the French colonies of Africa and later to South America.

These experiences of early flights over ocean, desert and mountain obstacles create the framework for Saint Ex's writings. The theme is the solitude of the individual facing nature and the solidarity among the men who are facing these common dangers.

The Saint Exupéry family had friends in the publishing world, and Antoine was encouraged to write on his experiences. In 1928, his first book Courrier Sud is published on his experiences of flying mail to Africa and saving his colleagues who had crashed. In 1930, he is sent to South America to create the air postal service there. He drew from the experience to write Vol de nuit with a preface by André Gide, then at the height of his literary influence. Saint Ex also brought back from South America a wife, Consuelo Suncin. It was in today's terminology a very “open marriage”. St Ex, good looking and famous, had many female adventures, but his wife had no fewer.

In the mid-1930s, the private postal service companies were “nationalized”. Saint Ex, in personality clashes, was pushed out of what had become Air France. His fame as a writer opened the door to writing for newspapers, especially that he already knew many of the publishers. In 1935, he spent a month in Moscow and was impressed by the solidarity of the First of May celebrations. However, Saint Ex had no political or economic views, and his Moscow reports are more on the solidarity of Russians among themselves.

In 1936, the civil war started in Spain, and Saint Ex was sent to report on the battles. Again, he had no particular views of the ideology of the Republicans and the Fascists, but he was struck by the solidarity among the soldiers on both sides. In 1937, he was sent to report on Hitler's Germany. He had no sympathy for the Nazi cause but was impressed by the “togetherness” of the Nazi mass ceremonies.

On the eve of the war in 1939, his best known book Terre des hommes was published. In English, it became Wind, Sand, and Stars and was widely read in the USA. Although Saint Ex was against war, believing that “all men can be brothers”, once the war with Germany was declared, by a sense of duty, he joined the French army air force until the armistice was signed with Germany. From this war experience, he wrote Pilote de guerre, translated into English as Flight to Arras, the city where was posted.

As France started to be occupied by German troops, he left for North Africa and then quickly moved to New York City where his writings were well known in literary circles and where he had friends. While in New York, he published his philosophical tale Le Petit Prince which became his most translated book. When the US troops liberated North Africa and the Free French government was established there, Saint Ex returned to North Africa to rejoin the French air force. Although at 43, he was “overage” to pilot the US war plane Lightning P38, his fame was such that he could not be refused. It is with a Lightning that he carried out a number of reconnaissance missions over Italy and France. On 31 July 1944 his plane was shot down by German fire and was lost in the Mediterranean.

A book of his philosophical thoughts on which he had been working for a number of years Citadelle was published in 1948 after his death. Saint Ex for the style was influenced by Frederic Nietzche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra which he had read. However, the spirit is much closer to Khalil Gibran's The Prophet. There is no indication that he had read Gibran in Saint Ex's period in New York. It is more likely that both writers shared a common outlook on life. Saint Ex's outlook was basically that of the Stoics: the common nature of all humans whatever the cultural differences, harmony with Nature, and calm in the face of danger.

**********************************************

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


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Education for a Culture of Peace
 27 June 2016
Rene Wadlow 
The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June 2016 at the United Nations Department of Public Information-Non-governmental Organizations conference. The Plan of Action aims to develop a fully conscious sense of Global Citizenship. The Plan states “Education for Global Citizenship aims to develop an education based on creative and critical thinking that enables all people to contribute actively to political and development processes in a complex, interlinked, and diverse global society both within and beyond their borders.”
    Education for Global Citizenship builds on what in the late 1940s was called in UNESCO “Education for World Citizenship.” The preparations for the creation of UNESCO were carried out in London through the efforts of the British Council of Education in World Citizenship which brought together education specialists from Europe then in exile in London.  Later, the term “world citizenship” was dropped in UNESCO work as perhaps too “political” a term and “Education for International Understanding” became the terminology. Now “Global Citizenship” has become the term widely used, but the values are largely the same as the earlier “world citizenship education”.
    Education for Global Citizenship also builds upon the values and activities of the 2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World.  The UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade stating that the Decade “would greatly assist the efforts of the international community to foster peace, harmony, all human rights, and democracy throughout the world.”  The Decade proclamation called upon UN bodies, NGOs, religious bodies and educational institutions, artists and the media actively to support a culture of nonviolence for the benefit of every child of the world.  The Decade was to lead to “the promotion of democracy, tolerance, dialogue, reconciliation and solidarity as well as to international cooperation and economic development, and thus to sustainable human development.”
    Although I recall the 2001-2010 Decade as one of chaos, crime, war and terror, there was useful work carried on to develop elements of a culture of peace and nonviolence.  I was part of an International Coalition for the Decade, and we were pushing to “revise and modify school programmes so that they do not contain elements that incite violence, intolerance or violent resolution of conflicts, and that prejudices and stereotypes toward any person or group are eliminated from them.”
    We are still at an early stage in the creation of a culture of peace. Such a culture is not only an aim or an ultimate goal to be achieved.  It is also a comprehensive process of long-term action to construct the defenses of peace in the minds of women and men.  A culture of peace means changing value systems, attitudes and behavior.  We already have much on which we can build.  We have, for example, the rich body of knowledge and experience in peace education and in the many efforts to improve learning methods and content so as to help students gain in self-confidence and harmony within themselves, with Nature, and with their fellow human beings.
    Peace and nonviolence education is an intellectual and psychological preparation of the student in the aim of developing the student’s critical spirit to reflect on the stages of conflicts and their nonviolent resolution.  The purpose of peace and nonviolence education is to allow students to acquire knowledge, know-how and a set of behavioral and interpersonal skills so that they may cultivate peaceful, cooperative and harmonious relations with others.
    We know that access to education and to various forms of learning is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a culture of peace. A comprehensive system of education and training is needed for all groups of people at all levels and forms of education, both formal and non-formal.  The development of a holistic approach, based on participatory methods and taking into account the various dimensions of education for a culture of peace is crucial.
    Yet education is not for children alone. If we wish to create a new world society with world-conscious citizens with a sense of responsibility for life on the planet, we need to consider how to transform the world view of those in political power today. Most will not go back to school. Many have been formed in a narrow “national interest” frame of mind.  Yet they hold political and economic power and are likely to continue to play a pivotal role at both the national and the international levels. Therefore, as world and global citizens we need to organize in a cooperative and dynamic way so that new ideas and values are clearly presented and heard in the halls of power.
_______________________________
René Wadlow, is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.
 





Education for a Culture of Peace
 27 June 2016
Rene Wadlow 
The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June 2016 at the United Nations Department of Public Information-Non-governmental Organizations conference. The Plan of Action aims to develop a fully conscious sense of Global Citizenship. The Plan states “Education for Global Citizenship aims to develop an education based on creative and critical thinking that enables all people to contribute actively to political and development processes in a complex, interlinked, and diverse global society both within and beyond their borders.”
    Education for Global Citizenship builds on what in the late 1940s was called in UNESCO “Education for World Citizenship.” The preparations for the creation of UNESCO were carried out in London through the efforts of the British Council of Education in World Citizenship which brought together education specialists from Europe then in exile in London.  Later, the term “world citizenship” was dropped in UNESCO work as perhaps too “political” a term and “Education for International Understanding” became the terminology. Now “Global Citizenship” has become the term widely used, but the values are largely the same as the earlier “world citizenship education”.
    Education for Global Citizenship also builds upon the values and activities of the 2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World.  The UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Decade stating that the Decade “would greatly assist the efforts of the international community to foster peace, harmony, all human rights, and democracy throughout the world.”  The Decade proclamation called upon UN bodies, NGOs, religious bodies and educational institutions, artists and the media actively to support a culture of nonviolence for the benefit of every child of the world.  The Decade was to lead to “the promotion of democracy, tolerance, dialogue, reconciliation and solidarity as well as to international cooperation and economic development, and thus to sustainable human development.”
    Although I recall the 2001-2010 Decade as one of chaos, crime, war and terror, there was useful work carried on to develop elements of a culture of peace and nonviolence.  I was part of an International Coalition for the Decade, and we were pushing to “revise and modify school programmes so that they do not contain elements that incite violence, intolerance or violent resolution of conflicts, and that prejudices and stereotypes toward any person or group are eliminated from them.”
    We are still at an early stage in the creation of a culture of peace. Such a culture is not only an aim or an ultimate goal to be achieved.  It is also a comprehensive process of long-term action to construct the defenses of peace in the minds of women and men.  A culture of peace means changing value systems, attitudes and behavior.  We already have much on which we can build.  We have, for example, the rich body of knowledge and experience in peace education and in the many efforts to improve learning methods and content so as to help students gain in self-confidence and harmony within themselves, with Nature, and with their fellow human beings.
    Peace and nonviolence education is an intellectual and psychological preparation of the student in the aim of developing the student’s critical spirit to reflect on the stages of conflicts and their nonviolent resolution.  The purpose of peace and nonviolence education is to allow students to acquire knowledge, know-how and a set of behavioral and interpersonal skills so that they may cultivate peaceful, cooperative and harmonious relations with others.
    We know that access to education and to various forms of learning is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a culture of peace. A comprehensive system of education and training is needed for all groups of people at all levels and forms of education, both formal and non-formal.  The development of a holistic approach, based on participatory methods and taking into account the various dimensions of education for a culture of peace is crucial.
    Yet education is not for children alone. If we wish to create a new world society with world-conscious citizens with a sense of responsibility for life on the planet, we need to consider how to transform the world view of those in political power today. Most will not go back to school. Many have been formed in a narrow “national interest” frame of mind.  Yet they hold political and economic power and are likely to continue to play a pivotal role at both the national and the international levels. Therefore, as world and global citizens we need to organize in a cooperative and dynamic way so that new ideas and values are clearly presented and heard in the halls of power.
_______________________________
René Wadlow, is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.
 

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The artillery exchange with several hundred killed may be a cry of the Imburi and the need for more creative attention to the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict − all the more so that the armed conflicts in Yemen and Somalia have implications for both Eritrea and Ethiopia.

http://www.transconflict.com/2016/06/ethiopia-eritrea-cry-imburi-206/

26 June: International Day Against Torture
by Rene Wadlow

Torture has a bad name among the police and security agencies of most countries. Thus torture is usually called by other names.  Even violent husbands do not admit to torturing their wives.  Thus, when NGO representatives started to raise the issue of torture in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in the early 1980s, the government representatives replied that it was a very rare practice, limited to a small number of countries and sometimes a “rogue” policeman or prison guard.  However, NGO representatives insisted that, in fact, it was widely used by a large number of countries including those that had democratic forms of government.
Getting torture to be recognized as a real problem and then having the Commission on Human Rights create the post of Special Rapporteur on Torture owes much to the persistent efforts of Sean MacBride (1904-1988), at the time the former chairman of the Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1974). MacBride had been the Foreign Minister of Ireland (1948-1951) and knew how governments work. He had earlier been a long-time leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), being the son of John MacBride, an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising – an attack on the Dublin Post Office. With his death John MacBride became an Irish hero of resistance.  Later Sean had spent time in prison accused of murder. He told me that he had never killed anyone but as the IRA Director of Intelligence he was held responsible for the murders carried out by men under his command.  Later, he also worked against the death penalty.
As examples of the current use of torture kept being presented by NGO representatives and as some victims of torture came to Geneva to testify, the Commission on Human Rights named a Special Rapporteur and also started to work on what became the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Treaty came into effect on 26 June 1987 and in 1997 the UN General Assembly designated 26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
Human Rights treaties negotiated within the UN create what are known as “Treaty Bodies” ­ a group of persons who are considered to be “independent experts”. As the saying around Geneva goes, “some are more 'expert' than others, and some are more 'independent' than others.  Countries which have ratified a human rights convention should make a report every four or five years to the specific Treaty Body. For the Torture Treaty, it is every four years to the 10-person expert group. Many States are late, some very late, in meeting this obligation. There are 158 States which have ratified the Torture Convention but some 28 States have never bothered to file a report. States which have not ratified the treaty do not make reports.
NGO representatives provide the experts with information in advance and suggest questions that could usefully be asked. The State usually sends representatives to Geneva for the Treaty Body discussions as the permanent Ambassador  is rarely able to answer specific questions on police and prison conditions. At the end of the discussion between the representative of a State and the experts, the experts write “concluding observations” and make recommendations.
Unfortunately, the Convention is binding only on States.  However, increasingly non-governmental armed militias such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq carry out torture in a systematic way. The militia's actions can be mentioned but not examined by the Treaty Body.
While there is no sure approach to limiting the use of torture, much depends on the observations and actions of non-governmental organizations.  We need to increase our efforts, to strengthen the values which  prohibit torture, and watch closely how persons are treated by the police, prison guards and armed militias.
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Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens
 

20 June: World Refugee Day
by Rene Wadlow

    20 June is the UN-designated World Refugee Day marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot” political issue in many countries, and the policies of many governments have been very inadequate to meet the challenges.  The UN-led World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey 23-24 May, 2016 called for efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts by “courageous leadership, acting early, investing in stability, and ensuring broad participation by affected people and other stakeholders.”
If there were more courageous political leadership, we might not have the scope and intensity of the problems that we now face.  Care for refugees is the area in which there is the closest cooperation between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the UN system. As one historian of the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has written “ No element has been more vital to the successful conduct of the programmes of the UNHCR than the close partnership between UNHCR and the non-governmental organizations.”
The 1956 flow of refugees from Hungary was the first emergency operation of the UNHCR. The UNHCR turned to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies which had experience and the finances to deal with such a large and unexpected refugee departures and resettlements.  Since 1956, the UNHCR has increased the number of NGOs, both international and national, with which it works given the growing needs of refugees and the increasing work with internally displaced persons who were not originally part of the UNHCR mandate.
    Along with emergency responses − tents, water, medical facilities − there are longer-range refugee needs, especially facilitating integration into host societies.  It is the integration of refugees and migrants which has become a contentious political issue.  Less attention has been given to the concept of “investing in stability”. One example:
    The European Union (EU), despite having pursued in words the design of a Euro-Mediterranean Community, in fact did not create the conditions to approach its achievement.  The Euro-Mediterranean partnership, launched in 1995 in order to create a free trade zone and promote cooperation in various fields, has failed in its purpose.  The EU did not promote a plan for the development of the countries of North Africa and the Middle East and did nothing to support the democratic currents of the Arab Spring.  Today, the immigration crisis from the Middle East and North Africa has been dealt with almost exclusively as a security problem.
    The difficulties encountered in the reception of refugees do not lie primarily in the number of refugees but in the speed with which they have arrived in Western Europe. These difficulties are the result of the lack of serious reception planning and weak migration policies. The war in Syria has gone on for five years.  Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, not countries known for their planning skills, have given shelter to nearly four million persons, mostly from the Syrian armed conflicts. That refugees would want to move further is hardly a surprise. That the refugees from war would be joined by “economic” and “climate” refugees is also not a surprise.  The lack of adequate planning has led to short-term “conflict management” approaches.  Fortunately NGOs and often spontaneous help have facilitated integration, but the number of refugees and the lack of planning also impacts NGOs.
    Thus, there is a need on the part of both governments and NGOs to look at short-term emergency humanitarian measures and at longer-range migration patterns, especially at potential climate modification impact.  World Refugee Day can be a time to consider how best to create a humanist, cosmopolitan society.
 ***********************************
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

    Dear Colleague, It seems that the first and last maxim of national governments is "all measures short of law". Yet as citizens of the world, such as those united in the Association of World Citizens, we believe that there are unmistakable trends toward the respect of world law. One of the foundations of world law is the respect of the laws of war: the protection of medical workers, of the wounded, and of prisoners of war.  These core elements of world law are being violated in the current battles in Iraq and Syria. The Association of World Citizens has repeatedly called for negotiations in good faith for political compromises and for the creation of more inclusive government in Syria and Iraq. However, armed conflict continues in both States. Therefore our current Appeal is now for the respect of the laws of war.  I would be pleased if you could share this Appeal with law associations, lawyers, Red Cross officials and others who can make a strong Appeal to all parties to respect the laws of war. Sincerely, Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Battle for Fallujah: Protests Needed against Violations of Humanitarian Law

Rene Wadlow – 

    12 June 2016 – In simultaneous, if not necessarily coordinated operations, there are attacks against the forces of the Islamic State (ISIS or Daech in its Arabic abbreviation) in Syria and Iraq.  ISIS had abolished in practice the frontier between Iraq and Syria, which had been created in 1916 by the agreement of Sir Mark Sykes for the UK and Francois Georges−Picot for France. Particular attention must be paid to the current battle for Fallujah and reports of mass violations of the laws of war.
    The United Nations Secretariat has raised an alarm concerning the fate of some 400 Iraqi families held by the ISIS forces for possible use as “human shields” in the battle for the city of Fallujah, held by ISIS since January 2014.  The use of civilians as “human shields” is a violation of the laws of war set out in the Geneva Conventions.  ISIS leaders have been repeatedly warned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which, by treaty, is responsible for the respect and application of the Geneva Conventions.
    In addition to the some 400 families who have been rounded up and are being held as a group in the center of Fallujah, there are a large number of children −UNICEF estimates 20,000 − trapped in the city and who may be used in military ways, either to fight or as suicide bombers.
    The danger from the disintegrating ISIS is that there are no longer the few restraints that existed among some of the ISIS leadership for the laws of war.  As Iraqi troops have drawn closer to Fallujah, they have found mass graves with both soldiers and civilians killed. One of the fundamental aspects of the laws of war is the protection of prisoners of war.  Once a person is no longer able to combat, he must be treated as a prisoner and no longer a combatant.  Not killing a prisoner is a core value of humanitarian law, and ISIS has deliberately violated this norm.
    However, ISIS may not be alone in the systematic violation of the laws of war.  The NGO Human Rights Watch has reported that it has received credible allegations from the areas around Fallujah of summary executions, enforced disappearances and mutilations of corpses by Iraqi government forces or militias such as the Popular Mobilization Forces supported by the Iraqi government.
    There is a real danger that, as the Islamic State disintegrates and no longer controls territory, it will increase terrorist actions and deliberate violations of the laws of war.  The Association of World Citizens has stressed that the laws of war have become part of world law and are binding upon States and non-State actors even if they have not signed the Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols.
    World law does not destroy violence unless it is bound up with an organized, stable and relatively just society. No society can be stable unless it is broadly based in which all sectors of the population are involved.  Such stability does not exist in either Syria or Iraq. However, repeated violations of the laws of war will increase the divide among groups and communities.  Only by a wide public outcry in defense of humanitarian law can this danger be reduced. These grave violations by ISIS and others must be protested by as wide a coalition of concerned voices as possible. The time for action is now.
_____________________________________
René Wadlow, is president and a U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.
 

MIDDLE EAST The crumbling Islamic State: Its desperate violations of humanitarian law
Islamic militant with the flag of ISIS (Photo: Courtesy of WikiCommons)
The crumbling Islamic State: Its desperate violations of humanitarian law

By Rene Wadlow*
    In simultaneous, if not necessary coordinated operations, there are attacks against the forces of the Islamic State (ISIS or Daech in its Arabic abbreviation) in Syria and Iraq.  ISIS had, in practice, abolished the frontier between Iraq and Syria which had been created in 1916 by the agreement of Sir Mark Sykes for the UK and Francois Georges-Picot for France.
    When the Allied forces landed in North Africa in 1942, Winston Churchill was asked if this was the beginning of the end of the Axis.  He replied to the effect that it was perhaps not the beginning of the end, but it was certainly the end of the beginning of the Second World War. Current events, however, may be the beginning of the end of ISIS but not of its capacity for violence and continuing violations of humanitarian law.
    The United Nations Secretariat has raised an alarm concerning the fate of some 400 Iraqi families held by the ISIS forces for possible use as “human shields” in the battle for the city of Fallujah, held by ISIS since January 2014.  The use of civilians as “human shields” is a violation of the laws of war set out in the Geneva Conventions.  ISIS leaders have been repeatedly warned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, who, by treaty, is responsible for the respect and application of the Geneva Conventions.
    In addition to the some 400 families who have been rounded up and are being held as a group in the center of Fallujah, there are a large number of children − UNICEF estimates 20,000 − trapped in the city and who may be used in military ways, either to fight or as suicide bombers.
    The danger from the disintegrating ISIS is that there are no longer the few restraints that existed among some of the ISIS leadership for the laws of war.  As Iraqi troops have drawn closer to Fallujah , they have found mass graves with both soldiers and civilians killed.  One of the fundamental aspects of the laws of war is the protection of prisoners of war.  Once a person is no longer able to combat, he must be treated as a prisoner and no longer a combatant. Not killing a prisoner is a core value of humanitarian law, and ISIS has  deliberately violated this norm.
    The Association of World Citizens has stressed the need for accountability, including by investigating alleged violations of the laws of war.  These grave violations by ISIS must be protested by as wide a coalition of concerned voices as possible.  There is a real danger that, as the Islamic State disintegrates and no longer controls territory, it will increase terrorist actions.  Only by a wide public outcry in defense of humanitarian law can this danger be reduced. The time for action is now.

Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues.


Action for World Citizenship
Our Earth is a Small Star

Our earth is a small star in the
great universe, yet of it we can
make, if we choose, a planet unvexed
by war, untroubled by hunger or fear,
undivided by senseless distinctions of
race, color, or theory
Stephen Vincent Benet, US poet, author of John Brown's Body

The proposals of World Citizens for positive social changes helps to foster a vision of an emerging world society in an era of serious challenges represented by armed violence, persistent poverty and ecological destruction. Such proposals create images of a world that has not yet existed but is emerging from the structures of the old − the positive pregnancy of our time.

We need to expand our field of awareness as much as possible as we face new challenges. We need to develop a willingness to participate in our social evolution. A global consciousness will help the individual to involve himself in the global issues of the day − as both a creator and participant in the emerging world society.
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