The Global Citizen: Prevent War
A guest blog post by Jessica Ziegler:
For me, the Fourth of July brings to mind many different kinds of sensations: the scratchy feel of grass on bare feet, the sour taste of lemonade on parched lips, the tangy aroma of food cooking on a grill, the soft touch of a gentle breeze that blessedly dissipates Tennessee humidity, the sight of patriotism and national pride manifested everywhere in countlessAmerican flags, and, of course, the magnificent fireworks that boom and crackle and light up the sky.
More than anything, this holiday is one that brings people together for the same timeless rituals, and I will readily admit that I find great personal pleasure in picnicking outdoors, catching fireflies, tapping my toes along to the tune of a Sousa march, and watching the spectacular fireworks show put on each year by my city. On the Fourth of July, I feel very connected to my heritage and am proud to be an American, one of those privileged individuals who lives in a country that is materially wealthy, democratically sound, and full of opportunity.
John Danforth, a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN (2004-05), and a Republican U.S. senator from Missouri (1976-94) just published an excellent article in USA Today laying out why it is in the United States' interest to stay engaged in the UN.
He says that while Congress has been debating whether to limit contribution to the UN, the real debate is:
"how we can best influence the institution to accelerate the adoption of reforms while not shutting down the organization's work, decreasing U.S. influence, and costing American taxpayers more money."
His bottom line is this:
"Cutting or limiting our funding, particularly at a time when the world is facing a number of global challenges, can only handicap U.S. diplomacy and give our adversaries a stronger hand."
I hope his former colleagues on the Hill are listening to this Republican icon from the "Show Me" state. Click here to send a message to your representatives supporting U.N. funding.
The world's eyes, most recently focused on such hot spots as Libya and Cote D'Ivoire, turned back to Sudan this weekend as forces from the northern part of the country captured a key town in the disputed Abyei region on May 21st. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called for the northern forces to pull out immediately, a call which the government of Sudan has rejected.
Sudanese President Bashir-currently charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), but yet to be arrested-claimed that the South attacked Northern Sudanese troops who were part of a UN peacekeeping convoy on May 19th while they were withdrawing from the region, and the North responded in self-defense. South Sudan's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) denied this charge and accused the North of taking a step towards "full-scale war."
Last night I was watching television when the news broke of Osama bin Laden's death. Needless to say that was not what I expected to hear. Just the day before news had broke that Col. Qaddafi's son had been killed at his compound in Libya - and I assumed that the momentous breaking report would have something to do with more news coming out of the UN backed mission in Libya. Citizens for Global Solutions has been advocating for the protection of civilians in Libya, not the overthrow of Col. Qaddafi, but we understand that in order for this story to end something will need to change in Libya. But I digress from the point - Osama bin Laden is dead - and this is a cause for what, celebration?
In his article Why attack Libya and not Syria?, CNN's Alan Silverleib lays out the many political reasons the United States and international community intervened in Libya but refrained from intervention in Syria, including:
- Libya happened first
- A large portion of Libya was controlled by the rebels and not Moammar Gaddafi
- There was international will to intervene in Libya, while there is no consensus on Syria
- The Arab League supported multilateral action in Libya but not in Syria
- Arab leaders are generally closer to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than they were to Libyan leader Gaddafi
- Israel content with Assad at the moment sees upheaval of Syrian leadership as risky
These are all sound political reasons not to intervene in Syria and probably designates military action in Syria impractical imprudent. But what about the Syrian people? What about the over 400 innocent Syrian civilians who have been killed since protest started in March? I think it's important that we examine precisely what the responsibility to protect demands from the international community. Maybe Syria is a case in which RtoP requires us to take action but real world political consequences make such action impossible.
In the coming weeks, we must keep a close eye on the policy of the United States government in Yemen, another Arab country experiencing mass protests and calls for change. Demonstrations, inspired by the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, have protested the presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's leader for the past 33 years.
Mr. Saleh responded to the protests with both violent crackdowns and attempts at appeasement. On March 18, government forces fired on people who had just finished praying, killing 50 and injuring 100. The violence continued in April, and over 100 people have been killed in total since March. Because of the spike in government-sanctioned killings, many high profile officials in Yemen's government have resigned and left the country.
Mr. Saleh has attempted to offer various compromises to protesters and to the Joint Meetings Parties, Yemen's opposition coalition. His offer to not seek reelection in 2012 was soundly rejected by his opponents. The Joint Meetings Parties proposed an agreement in which Mr. Saleh would step down at the end of 2011, but protestors rejected the plan, demanding Mr. Saleh to step down immediately.
The situation in Libya is looking grim and stagnant as opposition forces remain unable to make any real progress in the war against Moammar Gaddafi's government. The UN's recent call for a cease-fire has had little impact, and conditions for many Libyan civilians remain harsh. The UN has had some success in gaining access to civilians in need of humanitarian assistance in major Libyan cities such as the rebel stronghold Benghazi, Misrata, and even Gadaffi-controlled Tripoli.
But as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said on Monday, it appears the struggle has become a "stalemate" between a strong, organized government force and a weak, confused rebel army, relying heavily on NATO airstrikes. NATO is having its own share of problems, as officials have said they haven't been able to target Gaddafi's troops from above because of unreliable intelligence and the camouflage techniques being used by the government's forces. People in Misrata, an opposition-held town currently besieged by Gaddafi's troops, are unsatisfied with NATO's efforts. They continue to be bombarded with rockets and mortar bombs every day.
On Monday, April 18, Citizens for Global Solutions ran a full page advertisement in the New York Times that calls for three essential actions for the U.N. to take in Libya. We are reaching out to Americans because we now live in a new age where the international community has accepted its responsibility to protect. But you can’t protect babies from 30,000 feet nor should this be the job of the U.S. and its allies alone. The United Nations must have the support and tools that it needs to get these jobs done:
- Deployment of U.N. Peacekeepers On the Ground to Protect Libyan Civilians;
- Provision of Food, Water, Medicine and Shelter for Displaced People in Libya;
- U.N. Sponsored Elections to Bring Democracy and a Legitimate Government.
After months of bloody conflict in Côte D'Ivoire following the hotly contested 2010 election, former president and tyrant, Laurent Gbagbo has finally been apprehended by the forces of his rival, Alassane Ouattara. The international community widely recognizes Mr. Ouattara as the winner of the November elections, but president Gbagbo refused to step down. Instead of allowing for the peaceful transfer of power essential to a stable democracy, Mr. Gbagbo initiated a civil war between his supporters and those of Mr. Ouattara. Over 1,500 people have been killed in the conflict, mostly involving gangs referred to as "death squads" roaming the streets of the nation's capitol, Abidjan and killing civilians. Many more people have fled Côte D'Ivoire because of the violence.
The turning point in the fighting occurred when the United Nations and France began attacking Mr. Gbagbo's headquarters and heavy artillery in Abidjan, prompting Mr. Gbagbo to mount a feeble attack on the UN headquarters in Côte D'Ivoire before being defeated and captured by Mr. Ouattara's forces.
One thing I've heard a lot lately is the question: If we're using military force in Libya, why aren't intervening in other places? Why not Côte D'Ivoire for example? Well the answer is not simple or conclusive, but there are key differences between Libya and Côte D'Ivoire which can help to explain why action was necessary in Libya but not Côte D'Ivoire.
First, the conflict in Côte D'Ivoire is much more than a dictator trying to hold onto power against the will of his people. The Ivorian Civil War ('02-'04) and the ongoing violence of the past decade stems primarily from religious and geographic cleavages in the country. The north is primarily Muslim while the south is mostly Christian. For years, southerners, spurred on by Laurent Gbagbo's government, have considered northerners to be "foreigners". In the 2010 elections, many northerners were simply taken off lists of registered voters before the elections. The ethnic and religious dimensions of this conflict make it much more complicated than Libya and make resolution of the conflict that much more difficult.
Second, both sides seem to have committed mass atrocities. On April 2, between 300 and 1000 people were killed in the town of Douékoué where the militias of Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Ouattara clashed. According to the UN, more than 100 people were killed by Mr. Gbagbo's fighters, while about 200 were killed by forces loyal to Mr. Ouattara.
- Arms Control (22)
- Become a Member (3)
- Become a Member (1)
- Capitol Hill (165)
- CGS Political Action Committee (PAC) (17)
- Chapters (4)
- Civilian Protection (133)
- Climate Change (94)
- Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (2)
- Congressional Report Card (7)
- Current Campaigns (8)
- Election News & Analysis (101)
- Fellows (2)
- Gender Based Violence (26)
- Genocide Prevention (113)
- Get Involved (70)
- Home (12)
- Human Rights (223)
- Human Rights Council (31)
- International Criminal Court (167)
- International Criminal Justice (51)
- Law & Justice (211)
- Law of the Sea Treaty (55)
- Nuclear Disarmament (81)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (2)
- Other (33)
- PAC: 2010 Election Endorsements (3)
- Partners for Global Change (2)
- Peacekeeping (104)
- Prevent War (182)
- Rights of the Child Treaty (10)
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) (19)
- Support Us (15)
- Take Action (24)
- Tax Deductible Giving (2)
- UN Funding (71)
- UN Reform & Revitalization (43)
- United Nations (321)
- usaforicc.org (1)
- WFI (5)
- Women's Rights Treaty (CEDAW) (47)