The Global Citizen: Prevent War
In 2005, several hundred small bags of fertilizer began washing up on in the mangroves of a village in Guinea-Bissau. The villagers were catching it on their fishing lines and began using it to fertilize their soil until they realized that it seemed to be killing plants instead of enhancing their growth.
What they did not realize until later was that this white powdery substance that washed up from a run-aground cargo ship, was not, in fact, a fertilizer; but rather, it was the narcotic drug cocaine. And by the time the majority of the population realized it, an illicit drug trade was already underway.
US researchers currently estimate that over 30 tons of cocaine pass through Guinea-Bissau every year. In 2010, before Sierra Leone's international airport had security measures like metal detectors and scanners, it was estimated that over 60 tons of cocaine passed through it in transit. By some estimates, a quarter of all European cocaine arrives from a transit point Africa.
On September 20th, GlobalSolutions.org, hosted a panel discussion titled It Can Be Done: U.S. Personnel in International Peacekeeping. During this event, attendees were treated to the perspectives of three prominent U.S. peacekeepers: Lynn Holland, William Stuebner, and Deborah Owens.
First, Lynn Holland provided her perspective on the importance of U.S. involvement in peacekeeping missions, as well as her take on the role that women have in future peacekeeping missions. Next, William Stuebner provided a realistic perspective on future U.S. engagement in international peacekeeping, providing a number of conditions that must be met in order for the United States to engage in the process. Finally, Deborah Owens provided some of her perspectives that she gained through service in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia.
The panel discussion was the last in a series of events held to promote a report we published last year in conjunction with the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping, entitled “U.S. Engagement in International Peacekeeping: From Aspiration to Implementation.” Thanks to generous support from the Compton Foundation, we were able to hold events education policy makers, government officials, fellow NGO staff, and students on the benefits of U.S. engagement in peacekeeping efforts.
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will not pass this year and sources suggest the United States was central to its failure. The US showed little dissatisfaction throughout the month-long conference, but raised major concerns in the final hours of negotiations that ultimately killed the treaty.
The potential treaty would have been a historic advancement for international peace and security. It sought tougher regulation of the international sale of arms and the transfer of arms to perpetrators and potential perpetrators of atrocities.
GlobalSolutions.org remains committed to passing a meaningful arms treaty. We highlighted the broad significance of the treaty by sending the names of over 5,000 supporters to Secretary Clinton and other top diplomats. The Control Arms coalition also presented negotiators with several hundred thousand petition signatures supporting more regulation.
- The United States was the largest exporter of weapons 9 out of the last 10 years
- In 2010, the top five largest arms exporters made $19.4 billion
- Nearly 1 million of the 7-8 million firearms produced every year are lost or stolen
- Africa loses approximately $18 billion per year due to armed violence
- In the nine years leading up to the Syrian crisis, import of major weapons increased by 580%
*Provided by Oxfam and Howard Friedman
A letter, signed by 130 Representatives urging President Obama and Secretary Clinton to oppose the United Nations Conference of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was released today as negotiations got underway in New York.
Modern tension on the Korean Peninsula dates back to 1945 when the Soviet Union declared war on the current occupiers, Japan. In years prior, the peninsula had been controlled by a series of dynasties, but was invaded and annexed by Japan in 1910. After the end of World War II in 1945, the territory was divided along the 38th parallel between the United States and Soviet Union. Hope for unification faded in June 1950 when North Korea breached the border leading to the outbreak of the Korean War. After three years of intense fighting between American, Chinese, Soviet, and Korean troops, the war officially concluded with the formalization of a interstate border called the demilitarized zone. However, low-level fighting and frequent rhetorical provocations keep the conflict on the radar of many relevant states.
In the past, North and South Korea marched together in the Olympics on three separate occasions: 2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens, and 2006 in Turin. Describing the event as "highly emotional," athletes from North and South Korea travelled to the stadium together and marched in the opening ceremonies as one unified entity. Using the flag of the Korean Peninsula, a simple flag with a blue silhouette of the Korean Peninsula and a white background, the group showed one of the very few instances of Korean bilateralism in the last few decades.
A group of experts on the Syrian crisis gathered last Friday at the Turkic American Alliance in conjunction with the Rethink Institute. They discussed the nature of the opposition fighting against the Assad regime and strategies to resolve the conflict. The panel included analysts from the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, SETA-DC, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a counselor at the Turkish Embassy, and the president of the Higher Revolutionary Council in Syria. As violence continues and news of massacres in Houla and al-Qubeir emerge, the situation becomes more urgent, desperate, and heartbreaking. The experts debated the best course of action for the international community to take going forward. The foundational debate was between those who think military intervention is a necessity and those who want to rely on economic and political pressure.
This Sunday, we honor the women in our lives that gave us life and shaped us into the people we are today. Daughters, mothers, and grandmothers, will receive flowers, candy, or breakfast in bed prepared by the kids.
But did you know that Mother’s Day was originally founded as a Women’s Day for peace and disarmament? In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, the author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” advocated for the creation of Mother’s Day, dedicated to promoting “the amicable settlement of international questions, and the great and general interests of peace.”
We can cherish the women who nurtured, protected, and cared for us by sending a Mother’s Day card that honors the original spirit of the holiday. Click here to choose a free e-card that celebrates the special women in your life and commemorates women working for peace around the globe.
To women who work hard for peace around the world, around the house, around their communities and around their country -- thanks for all that you do!
Feel free to share our eCard or post it on a facebook wall (just right-click to save the image or the url):
Early this morning, Sudan has endorsed the African Union's "peace road map" to avoid an all-out war with South Sudan. This came after South Sudan had endorsed the AU's plan themselves. The AU's plan includes seven specific steps, including a deadline of this Tuesday to restart negotiations and a three-month grace period after that to agree upon a more concrete solution.
Just yesterday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution that would take "appropriate measures," including nonmilitary sanctions, if Sudan and South Sudan did not resolve all outstanding issues, namely border disputes, uneven divisions of oil revenues, and the citizenship of Sudanese and South Sudan peoples. As previously mentioned, tensions have flared between the two nations just a few months after South Sudan's July 2011 independence, which followed a peace treaty signed in 2005.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addressed a party rally in Khartoum last week, vowing to never compromise with the “poisonous insects” of South Sudan, using frightening rhetoric reminiscent of the Rwanda genocide.
Although neither Sudan, nor South Sudan, have declared war on the other, Sudan littered its neighbor with eight bombs following these hateful words. This violence has all been attributed to the disputed borders between the long-rivaling neighbors and unresolved issues over nearby oil reserves. Since April 10, when South Sudan took control of the oil-rich town of Heglig, the two nations have been, as many describe, on the brink of war.
Prompted by the recent violence that erupted, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing yesterday to examine the current conflict and discuss possible policy options the United States and other nations should explore in order to avoid an all-out war in the region.
President Obama spoke this morning at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to observe a Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust and announce the launch of a new Atrocities Prevention Board. Obama was introduced by author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Both speakers gave moving testimony on the horrors of the Holocaust and how we can achieve the promise to "never again" allow such atrocities to occur.
Obama spoke to the need to more formally intervene to prevent mass atrocities and genocide, saying "national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your own people." He said that "never again is a challenge to us all," adding that "remembrance without action changes nothing."
The President used the speech to outline several key actions the administration is taking to truly achieve the goal of "never again." Chief among these was the issuance of an executive order that allows for U.S. officials to impose sanctions against foreign nationals found to have used new technologies, including cell phone tracking and Internet monitoring, to help carry out grave human rights abuses. These sanctions will hopefully help address the repression of regimes, particularly Iran and Syria, who have used the internet to control and censor democracy and human rights activists.
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