The Global Citizen: dkraus
The appointment of UN Ambassador Susan Rice as the National Security Advisor and nomination of Samantha Power to replace Rice at the UN is a solid move for the Obama administration, the US and the UN. Both Rice and Power have been close advisors to President Obama since before the 2008 elections.
Amb. Rice greatly improved the United States’ standing at the UN. In 2009, she lead the effort to pay back dues to the UN and erased the US’s status as a “deadbeat” nation. She successfully negotiated new sanctions on Iran and North Korea. She has witnessed the terrible face of genocide as one of the first Americans to enter Rwanda after its mass killings and understands the importance of stopping such atrocities. She led efforts to prevent Muammar Gaddafi from committing mass murders in Libya and to halt a brutal war in Cote d’Ivoire. She worked tirelessly for an election to determine the fate of South Sudan, rather than a civil war. She is a smart choice to head Obama’s national security team.
President Barack Obama's recent announcement that he believes Syria has used a small amount of chemical weapons ignited a debate. Has the Assad regime crossed the "red line" the White House laid down?
U.S. intelligence reports "varying degrees of confidence" that Syria used chemical weapons. "We have to act prudently," Obama said. "But I think all of us...recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations."
The situation in Syria is clearly dire, with more than 70,000 deaths. Over 2.5 million Syrian refugees (including 600,000 children) have overwhelmed the ability of the United Nations and neighboring countries to provide adequate care. Another 2 million kids are internally displaced within Syria.
But politicians seem more concerned about U.S. credibility than suffering Syrians. So what's next for Washington?
If I were president, I'd try to carefully navigate between two horrendous mistakes my predecessors made:
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News guest commentator, Erik Rush, tweeted "Yes, they're evil. Let's kill them all," to his nearly 40,000 twitter followers. Rush was talking about Muslims, who he had immediately blamed for the bombing.
The shocking and unacceptable nature of his words, however, has much deeper consequences. In the United States, free speech is valued -- after all, it is the first right guaranteed under our constitution. Yet what Rush tweeted is not protected as free speech because it insights violence. If one just ignores his words or dismisses them as being intentionally controversial -- they run the risk of encouraging and promoting hateful ideology and perpetuating the cycle of violence in humanity.
Encouraging others to "kill" an entire certain group -- whether a religious, racial, or ethnic group -- is polarizing and dangerous. Rush might explain the scandal away by saying he was only being sarcastic, but hate speech isn't something that we should ignore or just explain away.
Rush has a global platform that most do not -- he is invited to speak on Fox News as an unpaid commentator. His hate inducing words are completely unacceptable. Fox News should drop Erik Rush from their program, or else they will be endorsing his hateful ideology. It's time to take a deep breath and stop the cycle of violence.
On January 21, 2013 we lost Harlan Smith, educator, world citizen, peace activist, friend and leader. Harlan Smith's legacy will continue to impact thousands of young people and instill in them the desire to become the builders of a better world. What more could one ask for?
Let me tell you about this wonderful man. Harlan was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1914. During his sophomore year in high school he won second place in a peace essay contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In the essay, entitled "Heroes of Peace," Harlan reached the conclusion that a world government would be desirable to bring peace to the world. It set him on a trajectory that would guide him for the rest of his life.
While attending the University of Chicago, Smith joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a religious pacifist group formed initially by pastors from both sides during World War I and took the Oxford Oath not to participate in war.
After Pearl Harbor he secured a position with the Bureau of Labor Statistics Postwar Division in order to finance an anticipated stay in a conscientious objector camp during the war. He obtained conscientious objector status in 1943 and entered a conscientious objector camp run by the American Friends Service Committee in Big Flats, New York.
What do Iran, Syria, North Korea and the NRA have in common? They are all on the losing side of trying to block the creation of a new Arms Trade Treaty. This landmark agreement has been in the making since 2006 and will be the first international treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade. The most powerful way the United Nations can agree to a treaty is by "consensus", where all nations agree to the text. But these three rouge nations blocked agreement. It was a sad sight to witness.
But fortunately, the treaty’s sponsors did the next best thing and brought it to the General Assembly where it was agreed to by an overwhelming majority: 154 to 3, with the U.S. voting in favor. A treaty is born!
The Arms Trade Treaty is a great step forward in dealing with the unregulated and illicit global trade in conventional weapons and ammunition, which fuels wars and human rights abuses worldwide
The United States played a positive role in negotiating the Treaty which is designed to help prevent the more than 500,000 deaths worldwide that happen as a result of armed violence. Firearms are used in armed conflicts and to carry out human rights violations, including genocide and gang rapes. More than 250,000 children have been forced into combat as under-aged child soldiers.
Did you know that international laws dictate the rules of the game when it comes to selling bananas and iPods, but not grenade launchers and AK-47s?
It’s crazy but true. Fortunately, a solution is at hand. Negotiators at the United Nations will soon wrap up a global Arms Trade Treaty that will establish much-needed rules to prevent selling arms to human rights violators.
Every year, more than 500,000 people around the world are killed as a result of armed violence. Firearms are used in armed conflicts and to carry out human rights violations, including genocide, gang rape, and the practice of forcing children into combat as underaged soldiers.
There are about 250,000 child soldiers.
Roughly 60 percent of documented human rights violations involve the use of small arms (such as rifles and machine guns) and light weapons (such as grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles). In fact, more human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other category of weapon.
North Korea's latest nuclear test highlights the limits of what the United Nations and its member states can do when an outlaw nation is determined to run roughshod over existing international laws. Policymakers and diplomats in Washington, DC and at the UN are scrambling for a way to respond to the young dictator Kim Jong Un's latest delinquency. The bottom line is that North Korea's latest nuclear blast shows just how reliant we are on an effective global network of institutions and laws; and how relatively weak that network still is. Kim Jong Un's nuclear tantrum should be seen not only as a threat, but as a clear message that we need a cooperative global system with the capacity and means to ensure a safer future for us all. And we are not there yet.
This year I came up with the best Valentine's Day gift ever for my wife and daughter. It's inexpensive and, unlike a bouquet of flowers, should last beyond their lifetimes. They'll love it! I can't think of a better way to express how much I love them.
Rather than chocolates or jewelry, I am going to join a One Billion Rising rally to end the violence against women that has shattered lives and torn the fabric of societies around the world.
A billion women - one out of every three on the planet - will be raped or beaten sometime in their lifetime. That's one billion moms, sisters, daughters, and friends violated, one billion lives shattered, one billion hearts broken, and one billion reasons to rise up and put an end to this violence.
On February 14, rallies around the world are giving a billion women, and those who love them, an opportunity to dance, speak out and say, "Enough!" There are many ways to make a difference, but here in the United States we have a 32-year-old obligation that I'm focused on: Senate passage of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Does NRA stand for "No Rational Argument"? In response to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun group's CEO called for an armed cop in every school and a national database to track the mentally ill. Wayne LaPierre's widely broadcast proposal prompted the New York Daily News to ask whether this list "should include the paranoid, delusional man himself?"
But this is far from a laughing matter. When it comes to gun violence within the United States and around the entire world, the NRA makes our planet a much more dangerous place for our children and families by using lies, misinformation, and political arm-twisting to support easier access to assault weapons and ammunition.
In the days and weeks to come, debates will rage within the United States on how we can best address the 30 mass shootings that, since 1999, have left over 260 people dead and many more permanently disabled. The NRA will work hard to derail attempts in statehouses and in the nation's Capitol to tighten controls on the assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. But in New York, there's another debate brewing where the NRA will also attempt to play the role of spoiler: the upcoming negotiations at the United Nations to establish a worldwide Arms Trade Treaty. The gun group's antics could impact the lives of millions around the world.
On December 10th, Human Rights Day, we lost a wonderful friend and leader. Floyd Ramp was a great supporter of human rights and world peace. During World War II he served as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific where he witnessed the testing of the atomic bomb and the devastation wrought in Japan. He became committed to world peace and developing the laws and institutions to make it possible.
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