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The Court of Last Resort

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is responsible for prosecuting individuals who have been charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes. Currently the crime of aggression is included in the Rome Statute of the ICC. However the Court can only prosecute aggression if the ICC's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), amends the Statute to define the crime and sets out the conditions for the Court's exercise of jurisdiction.

One year ago, the ICC issued a global arrest warrant for the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir as a result of charges brought against him for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Bashir's warrant has also caused diplomats to refuse to attend meeting if he is there and to get up from lunch tables upon his arrival; in essence many of our nations leaders avoid him at all costs. The most recent manifestation of leaders wanting to avoid Bashir has come from Paris who made it very clear that Mr. Bashir would be on the guest list for the upcoming African-French summit meeting in Nice, France. Each and every time a President or Prime Minister refuses to be in the company of Bashir, that President or Prime Minister is making a profound statement, a statement which says "we will not tolerate war crimes or crimes against humanity." For more information, CLICK HERE.

Mother's Day: A Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament?

As hopefully everyone remembered, Sunday was Mother's Day!

This weekend, held its May Partners Call, a nationwide conference call with CGS members and expert speakers on nuclear security issues. This call, we focused on the New START Treaty with Russia that will cut back strategic nuclear weapons in each country by almost one-third. During the call, we learned quite a bit about the prospects of the New START treaty being ratified by the Senate as well as the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference that is going on right now. 

You might wonder why I'm talking about nuclear weapons in reference to Mother's Day. As I learned this weekend from one of our members in Cincinnati, Fr. Ben Urmston, Mother's Day was originally founded as a Women's Day for peace and disarmament in 1870. Julia Ward Howe is famously quoted as saying "From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!" Of course these women weren't talking about nuclear disarmament, but the quote is certainly prophetic.

In memory of the women that pioneered Mother's Day in the name of disarmament, let's continue to celebrate our mothers and grandmothers today.

Mass Atrocities Response Operations (MARO) Project Release Military Planning Handbook

Though the government supports preventive measures for stopping genocide from ever starting and organizations like advocate for genocide prevention, what can we do when prevention fails? This week, an important military planning handbook was released to guide the government's actions for Mass Atrocity Response Operations, otherwise known as MARO.

The book is a joint product of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard and the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, making the project a unique cooperation between academia and the military. MARO can become necessary when there is widespread and systematic killing of civilians, such as in the case of ongoing genocide. If the U.S. government makes the decision to intervene militarily in a situation in order to stop the killing and end the violence against civilians, this handbook gives options and scenarios for how that type of operation might be executed.

The Sixty-Fifth Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day: A Reason to Rejoice

"We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing..." These words were spoken by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on May 8th, 1945, immediately after he announced the German surrender that marked the end of the Second World War in Europe.  Sixty-five years later, the legacy of World War Two still exerts a powerful impact, particularly on issues such as genocide prevention and the International Criminal Court (ICC) which are fundamental to the mission of

Although the period of postwar rejoicing was to be "brief" because the war with Japan was not yet over (it would continue until August of that year), the British people and many others throughout Europe had good reason to rejoice on V-E Day.  The Second World War had been a human catastrophe unequalled in all of history.  However, despite the delirium of the crowds in London and other cities as they celebrated the end of the war, the reality was that much of the continent lay in ruins after the devastating six-year conflict.  Cities such as London and Berlin had suffered heavy bombing damage with many civilian casualties; others such as Warsaw were little more than smoking rubble.  In the former Soviet Union alone, a staggering total of approximately twenty-five million people had been killed during the war.  And the world's attention was brought as never before to the horrendous problem of genocide in the aftermath of the murders of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust at the hands of Nazi Germany.

Celebrate Mother's Day and Support Women Around the World

Here Don Kraus, CEO, and Abby Long, Programs Coordinator, talk about why CEDAW is so important:

We know that women and girls around the world face violence and discrimination daily. We also know that CEDAW, the Women's Treaty, helps women and girls to go to school, to own and inherit property, to take part in public life, and to fight violence and oppression. We need Senate action on the CEDAW Treaty (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) to give the U.S. greater clout to help women worldwide win these basic rights.

This Mother's Day, is working with dozens of national partners to ensure that we ratify CEDAW now. Please CLICK HERE to ask your Senators to celebrate Mother's Day by showing their support for the CEDAW Treaty.

While we celebrate our own mothers and grandmothers today (Happy Mother's Day, Mom!), let's stand together for women and girls around the world.  Click here to ask your Senators to support CEDAW today.

An NPT Review Conference Update: Iran stirs up trouble, U.S. announces size of stockpile, and Indonesia ratifies the CTBT!

The Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference has just wrapped up its 3rd day in what has been a highly charged arena: the place of a showdown between the U.S. and Iran and historic announcements from the U.S. and Indonesia.

On the first day, President Ahmadinejad's deriding speech was met with sharp criticism from Secretary Clinton and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Iranian cooperation with the IAEA.  Ahmadinejad insists that nuclear developments have peaceful intentions, but there is good reason to suspect that this is not the case. Thus far, Iran has made more enemies than friends. This might even be an opportunity for President Obama to garner support for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran and strengthen the role of the IAEA in monitoring Iran's development of nuclear capabilities. Plus, with Iran in the spotlight, the divide between the nuclear haves and have-nots seems less stark.

Secretary Clinton spoke after Ahmadinejad, making the long-awaited announcement that the U.S. arsenal contains 5, 113 deployed warheads (as of September 2009). The U.S. has never before released this number. It is down from 31, 255 in 1967, when the U.S. nuclear arsenal was at its height. Still, some NGOs estimate that there are 4,600 in reserve.

Global Solutions is off to the races - You can help

Want to know where your lawmakers stand on global issues?  As the 2010 midterm elections approach, is rolling out our 2010 Congressional Report Card.  This report "grades" members of the Senate and House of Representatives on their record of support for CGS legislative priorities over the past several years, as well as highlighting additional work certain members of Congress have undertaken which has helped to advance the goals of CGS.  It is the only publication that rates Congress based on their global votes.

The 2010 Congressional Report Card focuses on ten Senate and eleven House rollcall votes which took place between 2007 and 2009 on issues which are of particular importance to CGS and its supporters.  These votes cover topics such as providing appropriate levels of funding for international and multilateral organizations; addressing climate change; prohibiting torture; and ensuring protection of human rights around the globe.  Each member of Congress was given a grade between an A+ and an F based on how frequently their votes aligned with CGS's positions on these issues.

Additionally, since not all the hard work of members of Congress is revealed solely through their records on roll call votes, CGS invited House and Senate offices to apply for "extra credit" by telling us about other work they have done on these and other issues that are CGS priorities.  This extra credit might come from making floor speeches, sponsoring legislation, or publishing op-eds on issues important to CGS.  Lawmakers must earn extra credit in order to receive the highest grade of A+.

Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Begins Monday - There is still time to sign the petition!

Monday May 3 will mark the beginning of the 8th Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, and 189 governments party to the treaty and hundreds of NGOs will flock to New York to discuss our world's greatest security concern - nuclear weapons. The stakes are high, with issues such as demands of disarmament and Iranian development of nuclear weapons topping the agenda. The last review conference, held five years ago, was such an abysmal failure that the pressure is strong on all parties to reach agreement on the many controversial issues.

Yesterday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote an op-ed in the New York Times laying out the urgency of the Review Conference and some of the top considerations for the agenda. While stressing the importance of holding realistic expectations, Ban Ki-moon asserted that the opportunities presented by Review Conference must not fall by the wayside, especially on the topics of disarmament, non-proliferation, a nuclear weapons free-zone in the Middle East, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

In particular, Ban Ki-moon focused on the need for a serious and thorough consideration of disarmament. "The Earth's very future leaves us no alternative but to pursue disarmament," he said. "And there is little prospect of that without global cooperation."

If the Review Conference does not address the issue of disarmament, it is sacrificing an opportunity to start taking the necessary steps to make the world safer. The very real possibility of nuclear terrorism - highlighted in President Obama's recent Security Summit- reinforces the widespread relevance of the issue and underscores the necessity of international cooperation. "Nuclear terrorism is not a Hollywood fantasy," wrote Ban Ki-Moon. "It can happen."

UPDATE: S. 1067: LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 passes House Committee on Foreign Affairs

A step in the right direction!

On April 28, 2010, the members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted by voice vote on S. 1067 the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. A voice vote is a voting method used by the U.S. House of Representatives in which a vote is taken on legislation by responding verbally. The decision is made by the chair, although it can be challenged.

The bill is summarized here by the Congressional Research Service:

Directs the President to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a regional strategy to guide U.S. support for multilateral efforts to eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and to enforce the rule of law and ensure full humanitarian access in LRA-affected areas. Authorizes the President to provide assistance to respond to the humanitarian needs of populations in northeastern Congo, southern Sudan, and Central African Republic affected by LRA activity. Expresses the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State and Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) should work with the appropriate congressional committees to increase future assistance to Uganda if the government of Uganda demonstrates a commitment to reconstruction in war-affected areas of northern and eastern Uganda. Expresses the sense of Congress that the President should support efforts by the people of northern Uganda and the government of Uganda to: (1) promote local and national reconciliation including mechanisms outlined in the Annexure to the Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation between the government of Uganda and the LRA; and (2) assist internally displaced people, establish mechanisms for the demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, and enhance the competency of local institutions including the police.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference: Sign a Petition Calling on President Obama to Take Action

"I state with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." ~President Obama, Prague Nuclear Security Speech, April 2009

The existence of nuclear weapons remains the greatest threat to life on earth.  Sign the petition and call on President Obama to make good on the commitment he declared in Prague one year ago.  Call on President Obama to initiate talks on an international agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons. Call on President Obama to work with international leaders to abolish nuclear weapons – within our lifetimes.

You can be a part of the over 5 million signatures that will be delivered to the White House and the United Nations in early May to coincide with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York.  Click here to Sign the Petition Now.

In 1970, the NPT was created to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. But it is unequipped to deal with 21st century challenges, and the NPT alone cannot bring about a world free of nuclear weapons. The 8th Review Conference of the NPT (May 3-28, 2010) provides a key forum to initiate good faith talks on disarmament, and it is an opportunity for President Obama to publicly restate his commitment to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons must be eliminated to ensure a safer future for generations to come. Unite with more than five million voices and urge President Obama to begin multilateral talks on an international agreement to abolish nuclear weapons.

More on the 2010 NPT Review Conference: