Rene Wadlow

Guest Blogger

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.

Olympic Truce: Time for NGO Efforts regarding Korea

Olympic Rings On Map of World

The holding of the Winter Olympics in  South Korea from 9 to 25 February followed by the Paralympics 9 to 18 March may be an an opportunity to undertake negotiations in good faith to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to establish, or re-establish, forms of cooperation between the two Korean governments.

Such negotiations in good faith would be in the spirit of what is known as the "Olympics Truce".  Truce in classic Greek meant a "laying down of arms". A truce was usually announced before and during the Olympic Games to ensure that the host city was not attacked and athletes and spectators could travel safely to the Games and return to their homes.

In 1924, Winter Olympics  were added to the Summer Olympics which had been revived earlier in an effort to re-establish the spirit of the Classic Greek games.  At the 2000 Sydney games at the opening ceremony, South and North Korean delegations walked for the first time together under the same flag.  Today, with greater tensions, there needs to be more than symbolic gestures. There needs to be real government-led negotiations to reduce tensions.  In addition to the two Korean States, the USA, China, Russia, and Japan are "actors" in the Korean "drama"

The Disintegrating Donbass. Is there a future for a con-federal Ukraine?

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine

The flight on 23 November 2017 of Igor Plotinitsky, President of the separatist Ukrainian area of the Lugansk People's Republic is a sign of the continuing difficulties of developing appropriate forms of constitutional government in the Ukraine.  Plotinitsky was in open conflict with his "Minister of the Interior" Igor Konet whom he had fired but who refused to give up his position.  It is reported that military troops are moving from Donetsk, the other People's Republic of the Donbass, and perhaps other troops from Russia but without signs of identification.

Much of the fate of the two Donbass People's Republics is in the hands of President Putin, but he is unwilling to take public responsibility.  Some have argued that two people's republics in Donbass is one too many and that the two republics will be unified under the leadership of President Alexandre Zakhartchenko of Donetsk.  Meanwhile the Ukrainian government has reinforced its troops on the frontier with the separatist zone.

Officially the Donbass is under an agreement signed in Minsk on 12 February 2015 among Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine acting under a mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  The agreement called for a ceasefire, local elections, a reintegration into the State of Ukraine but with constitutional reforms giving greater local autonomy.  In practice, the Minsk accords have never been carried out.

Yemen: Effective Humanitarian Aid Depends on a Peace Accord

United Nations Yemen Observation Mission (UNYOM)

The United Nations together with the governments of Sweden and Switzerland which have often led humanitarian issues in the U.N. system held a high-level pledging conference in Geneva on 25 April 2017 to again draw attention to the deepening humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen, currently the largest food security emergency in the world.  Some 60% of the population is in a food-insecure situation.

More than 3.5 million people have been displaced in the cycle of escalating violence.  "We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation. We must act now, to save lives" said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who presided over the conference. Realistically, he stressed that funding and humanitarian aid alone will not reverse the fortunes of the millions of people impacted.  Diplomatically, he called for a cessation of hostilities and a political settlement with talks facilitated by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General, the Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Chekh Ahmed.

UN officials and most diplomats are reluctant to call the armed conflict by its real name: "a war of aggression".  The aggression of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates) against Yemen began on 24 March 2015.  The Saudi-led coalition is helped with arms and "intelligence" by the USA and the UK which appreciate Saudi money for arms and do not want to antagonize a large segment of the Arab world when the conflicts of Syria-Iraq-Kurds-Turkey is still "on the table."