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Many to Many

 

March 2003

 

 

 

I.               EDITORIAL – Looking beyond Terrorism

 

      II.        CREATING A CULTURE OF PEACE: Banner of Peace – Manifesto

                  2000

 

III.           FROM GRASSROOTS TO GLOBAL: the power of thinking small

 

IV.           A GLIMPSE INTO THE PLIGHT OF REFUGEES

 

V.             INTERNATIONAL DISTINCTION TO THE UNESCO CHAIR OF THE ARISTOTLE UNIVERSITY OF THESSALONIKI

 

VI.           GOVERNING GLOBALISATION : Issues and Institutions

 

VII.         NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE MASS SUICIDE – statement by Mary Lou Cook

 

VIII.       COOPERATION IS A TWO-WAY STREET – by Keith Suter

 

IX.           2003 – INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF FRESHWATER

 

X.             GREAT INVOCATION – in English and Swedish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                   

 

 

I. Looking beyond Terrorism

 

If there is anything that is becoming clearer in today’s chaotic, confused and mistrusting world, it could be that nothing any longer can be judged by its appearance or categorized by what it seems to be. And the contours between fact and fiction are becoming ever harder to tell. This at the same time as issues of human and planetary concern seem to draw us closer together, demanding our individual as well as collective attention..

 

The shadow of terrorism looms high over us all, descending in ever shifting shapes into our neighbourhoods, defying definition and hiding in unexpected places.

 

But when terrorists strike, unlawfully violating a country’s or a person’s space with murderous intent, and when governments or persons responding in kind are also breaking internationally agreed codes of conduct, causing similar human suffering – people everywhere must wonder what the future will bring.

 

Terrorism in all its shapes and forms, whether on domestic or international levels, is not merely unlawful and criminal, but is also an assault on the dignity of the human spirit and despoiling our culture. No wonder that one of the characteristics of a terrorist has always been the deliberate dehumanization of the opponent so as to justify and ease the way for any immoral and illegal course of action or retribution.

 

Today governments are seeking to polarize humanity into two camps through the simple but very effective means of inclusion or exclusion. But humanity at large seems reluctant to oblige. As a human family we feel responsible for our tragically misguided sons and daughters. And while having little or no sympathy for terrorism of any description, people are expressing more understanding of the connection between the deep-running resentments, the violence, intolerance and disrespect for human rights experienced in every society, which – all fanned by the fires of frustration and hopelessness - can result in desperate acts of destruction and self-destruction.

 

There is a growing public feeling that perhaps these heinous attacks on people and their places of living and working mark the end of an era. That it is fully possible that we stand on the threshold of a new civilization which embraces all cultures and peoples as equals, upheld by domestic and international lawfulness and conscience, and in which globalisation has come to mean a sense of wholeness.

 

Although fighting terrorism by military might and muscle could be deemed necessary, it is not a remedy, and many people throughout the world are choosing a path of reconstruction, understanding and healing of all relationships – bringing into being a new civilization.

 

 

II. CREATING A CULTURE OF PEACE

Banner of Peace – Manifesto 2000

 

BACKGROUND

Wanganui Culture of Peace Sculpture – “Handspan”

 


”Handspan” is the name of a large sculpture created to symbolize a culture of peace in the New Zealand city of Wanganui. Peace Through Unity initiated and fundraised for this Culture of Peace project. The sculpture was designed by local artist and potter Ross Mitchell-Anyon and, on the 21st September 2002, dedicated by the Governor-General of New Zealand, the Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright to “a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world”.

 

Preparing for and the building of this unique, interactive work of art, has taken almost exactly two years. The “Handspan” design was chosen from among other entries to a culture of peace sculpture design competition. This impressive structure is approximately 20m in diameter and 3 meters high and consists of a double-spiral pathway on which one can walk to the top. On each side of the pathway are walls covered with more than 4000 clay hand casts, made mostly from hands of community members of all ages, although some hand casts from outside Wanganui have also been included. Approximately 50 hand casts made in glass (by Wanganui UCOL glass studio), are also placed on the walls, through which a fibre-optic lighting system illumines the path way of the sculpture at night.

 

Apart from the gathering, making and firing of the thousands of hand casts, which has involved the work of many volunteers, the construction of the sizeable structure itself has required the skills and expertise – and often the ingenuity – of many other crafts people. Engineers and architects, construction workers, electricians, plumbers and plasterers and others, under the supervision of master-builder Jamie O’Leary, all made invaluable contributions to the completion of the sculpture. Community involvement, cooperation and generosity are the qualities that have given life and meaning to this culture of peace work of art.

The sculpture stands on public land donated by the Regional District Council – on a hill at the heart of Wanganui, steeped in the history of the Maori and early Settlers.

 

Book launch 

 

On 20 December 2002, a coffee-table type of book, published by Peace Through Unity, was launched which describes the process of building the sculpture and tells about the people involved in the project.

 

It also mentions some of the visionaries who helped initiate the idea of a culture in which all cultures can stand united for peace, and prompted the UN General Assembly to pronounce 2001-2010 the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.

 

The book, called “Wanganui Culture of Peace – 2002”, begins with a statement by Peace Through Unity saying: “Through this book we have sought to express our thankfulness to the One Life pulsating through all creation, each heartbeat offering new opportunities for learning and growing and loving together; the dream carried in the heart of humanity not even a breath away – its realization in our hands”.

 

It is now truly up to us, the world’s peoples, to resolve to work together for the emergence of an assembly of peoples and cultures – for peace.

 

(Hard copies of this book can be obtained from Operation Peace Through Unity and will be sent on request. To recover printing cost and costs of posting and packaging a donation of US$30 would be much appreciated)

 

 

THE PROPOSAL

 

In September 1999 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2001-2010 the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.

 

We – all of us – must become involved and work together for such a culture to come about. A sense of unity – within which all cultural, religious and racial differences are recognized and respected – must be established as the firm foundation on which a culture of peace can be built..

 

Great visionaries within humanity have already begun this work and provided us with tools and inspiration on which to build.

 

In 1935 the historical “Roerich Pact”, with its symbol the “Banner of Peace”, was signed by the official representatives of the USA and all members of the Pan-American Union.

 

This pact asks that all educational, artistic and scientific institutions, together with all the people working within these fields of human endeavour, will forever be protected in times of upheaval and warfare, and that the banner be displayed as a sign of the neutrality and commitment to peaceful co-existence of all places of culture.

 

Nicholas Roerich envisioned that the day would come when people, from childhood onwards, would “witness that there exists not only a flag for human health (the red cross flag) but also there is a sign of peace and culture for the health of the spirit”. He hoped and believed that this banner would be unfurled over all centers of spirit, beauty and knowledge, summoning “the conscience of men to the protection of that which in essence belongs not to one nation alone, but to the entire world and constitutes the real pride of the human race.”

 

The symbol on the Banner of Peace – three spheres surrounded by a circle – is an ancient one, used by cultures throughout the world. Recently this symbol has been used in connection with Peace Through Unity’s Culture of Peace Sculpture Project, completed September 2002 in the New Zealand city of Wanganui.

 

The large illustrated book describing the Peace Sculpture project outlines Nicholas Roerich’s vision and concludes with the question: “Can we not hope that this sacred symbol, touching so many cultures throughout human history, may be revived in the international decade for a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world and come to stand for an assembly of races and cultures – for peace?”

 

The book also refers to Manifesto 2000, a pledge formulated by the Nobel Peace Prize winners, which to date has been signed by some 75 million people worldwide. Through signing the pledge, which in its simplicity comprises every aspect of our complex global community, a commitment is made to: respect all life; reject violence; share with others; listen to understand; preserve the planet; rediscover solidarity.

 

On the foundation of this pledge all our many efforts, campaigns, projects and strivings towards building a better, fairer and more enlightened world can be united. And this unity could be made visible through the banner, carrying a symbol which has been used by humanity throughout the ages – a unity through which each endeavour will be strengthened.

 

Peace through Unity’s proposal is that:

 

            to display the banner of peace as a visible symbol of unity of purpose:

 

“I/we (individual/organization/institution…) hereby resolve to promote actively, consistently, and in every way possible the creation of a culture of peace, built upon the foundation of right human relations and the basic oneness of all life.

 

In accordance with Manifesto 2000, I/we (individual/organization/institution…) make the solemn pledge to:

respect all life; reject violence; share with others; listen to understand; preserve the planet; and rediscover solidarity.

 

Peace Through Unity invites cooperation and welcomes any thoughts, comments and suggestions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III. From Grassroots to Global: the power of thinking small

 

The above is the title of a “Greenpaper” published for the 2002 Johannesburg Summit for Sustainable Development by the Economics Institute and the New Orleans Bread for the World, both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based in Loyola University New Orleans’ Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice.

 

In the “Greenpaper” the Economics Institute seeks to explain the basic idea behind its proposal for helping economically disenfranchised people the world over through using the image of a beautiful resilient plant, setting down firm and healthy roots “in the tiniest sidewalk crack”. Likewise the Institute will find and identify a “crack” in the economic system and then demonstrate how economic strength can “spring from the smallest niche”.

 

As evidence that this simple model works, the Economics Institute describes in some detail its flagship project, the Crescent City Farmers Market. Having first identified a “crack”, namely the lack of a direct market mechanism for local growers to sell to local consumers, this farmers market was created, which now offers local growers in the Greater New Orleans region three opportunities weekly to sell their produce directly to New Orleans consumers.

 

The “Greenpaper” discussed the difference between the so-called “grass-root model” and the top-down economic development and poverty reduction programmes which can sometimes bypass or even harm the people they aim to assist. Top-down development models may for instance insist on indigenous farmers accepting genetically engineered seeds from a giant conglomerate “from whom they then must purchase fertilizer and pesticides to produce a crop that can only be sold at the price the conglomerate names to the conglomerate itself”. It is no surprise that this type of aid more often than not ends up benefitting the conglomerate first and the local growers last – if at all.

 

By contrast the model proposed by the Economics Institute, called the “organic gear” model, will involve the local stakeholders, through looking into:

 

The Economics Institute together with the New Orleans chapter of Bread for the World has created the Global Network for Justice.

Contact: Global Network for Justice, Loyola University New Orleans, 7214 St. Charles Ave, Box 907 New Orleans, LA 70118, USA

www.globalnetwork4justice.org

 

IV. A Glimpse into the Plight of Refugees

 

The desperate plight of a group of Colombian Refugees in Costa Rica, a country noted for its relatively good human rights record, nevertheless calls for attention because, although only about a thousand in number, their suffering and treatment may well typify that being experience by millions of refugees worldwide. According to 2002 figures, there are approximately 50 million uprooted people around the world – refugees seeking safety in another country as well as people displaced within their own country. And 75-80 per cent of these are women and girls.

 

Costa Rica has signed up to many different conventions and international agreements regarding the treatment and human rights of refugees. The UN High Commission is actually based in San Jose. Yet the very basic human rights of these refugees are being denied them.

 

Radio for Peace International, based in Costa Rica, has taken up their cause, claiming that the discrimination against them on the part of the Costa Rican authorities is no longer tolerable and have published a detailed account highlighting their treatment and inviting a response from the public.

 

The report mentions an interview with a 67 year old grandmother, who for years has lived in Costa Rica, revealing that she has never received the right to health care. Women applying for appointments to have their qualifications recognized so that they can obtain work are being told: “there is nothing for you here. Why don’t you go into prostitution?”

Although 170 countries have signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, such an attitude is not uncommon in many places. One in five women worldwide are victims of rape, more than half of these girls under 16.

 

The refugees complain that the High Commission for Refugees is allocated funds for the specific purpose of ensuring their well-being, but the funds are not being distributed

 

The Association for the Defense of the Human Rights of Colombian Refugees are appealing through Radio for Peace International for e-mails to be sent to Ruud Lubbers c/- Alto Comisionado para los Refugiados: lubbers@unhcr.ch , requesting the High Commission to play its part in protecting the refugees and to ensure that their rights under the conventions are upheld.

 

Peace Through Unity hopes this course of action will lead to improvement in the treatment of the Colombian refugees but also will send a message to other countries where the treatment of refugees urgently needs to be improved.

 

Radio for Peace International began 13 years ago, initially operating in an area “little bigger than a closer”. Fulfilling a long-term vision they today have offices and studios and a high-powered short wave transmitter capable of providing a quality signal with 24 hour programming to their listeners. RFPI claims to have trained over 300 peace journalists in the areas of human rights, social justice and environmental reporting.

Contact: RFPI, POB 75, Cuidad Colon, San Jose, Costa Rica, Central America.

E-mail info@rfpi.org or rfpiradio@yahoo.com website www.rfpi.org and click on Pay Pal icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

V. International Distinction to the UNESCO Chair of the

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

 

The UNESCO Chair on Education for Human Rights and Peace of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, has recently received the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Award for its outstanding and multidimensional activities.

The abovementioned distinction was awarded to a small number of UNESCO Chairs throughout the world, during the 1st World Forum of UNESCO Chairs (Paris, November 2002) for the celebration of the 10th Anniversary (1992-2002) of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme.

It is worth noting that the UNESCO Chair of the A.U.Th.  was the only awarded Chair in the field of Education for Human Rights and Peace. The Award was received by the Director of the UNESCO Chair, Professor Dimitra Papadopoulou.

In the Presentation Ceremony of the UNESCO Awards, it was stressed that the UNESCO Chair at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki illustrates the great potential of Higher Education “to construct peace in the minds of men and women”, according to the constitutional mission of UNESCO. Emphasis is also laid on the UNESCO Chair’s capacity to activate and involve a significant number of academics, teachers and students in its various programmes and activities. Furthermore, the Chair’s ability to cooperate closely with the academic community both at national and international levels, as well as with IGOs (UNICEF in particular) and NGOs, is of major importance. The UNESCO Chair of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is described as “an active and substantial contributor to UNESCO’s related programmes”. 

 

Some Information on the UNESCO Chair

 

The UNESCO Chair on Education for Human Rights and Peace of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, was founded in the beginning of 1997 by a bilateral Agreement between UNESCO and the Aristotle University.

The purpose of the UNESCO Chair is “to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation activities in the field of human rights, peace and democracy at local, sub-regional and regional level”.

 

The activities of the UNESCO Chair are designed according to the spirit of:

i) the U.N. Decade for Human Rights Education, 1995-2004

ii) the Τransdisciplinary Project of UNESCO “Towards a Culture of Peace”

iii) the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010

 

The UNESCO Chair of the A.U.Th. maintains a profile of academic-educational as well as community-oriented activities. Academic activities include an undergraduate and a graduate course, whereas those community oriented involve specific actions ranging from training courses, conferences and seminars to cultural events (art exhibitions, concerts, theatre etc.).

Through its activities, the “Chair” attempts to sensitise as many Target Groups as possible, from University Professors and Schoolteachers of Primary and Secondary Education, to students, pupils and to youth in general, military officers and the public at large.

From the beginning, the “Chair” has adopted an interdisciplinary / pluridisciplinary approach in all its activities by making use of the expertise and knowledge of University Professors from all disciplines and University Schools. 

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and other Universities of the country have wholeheartedly responded to the “Chair’s” invitation, supporting its target actions by teaching and contributing voluntarily whenever this is required.   

Since its establishment, the UNESCO Chair of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki adopted a tactic of cooperating with all the Schools of the A.U.Th., with other Greek Universities, IGOs (UNICEF, UN International Centre - Athens), NGOs (Amnesty International, Doctors Without Frontiers, Doctors of the World, Organisation Mondiale pour l' Education Prescolaire, etc.), with the Greek Army, with teachers of primary and secondary education, artists, etc. Due to the above mentioned cooperations, the activities of the UNESCO Chair have always had a significant impact on the academic community as well as the intellectual and cultural life of Greece on issues related to Education for Human Rights and Peace and to the Culture of Peace.

Throughout its six-year existence (1997-2003), the UNESCO Chair of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, has continuously worked with full devotion for the promotion of the values-components of the Culture of Human Rights and Peace and for the construction of defenses of Peace in the minds of men and women.

 

 

Activities

 

During the period 1997 - 2002, the UNESCO Chair has been engaged in the following activities:

v    Interfaculty, Interdisciplinary Academic Programme on Education for Human Rights and Peace

(Undergraduate level - Title:“Contemporary World Problems and the Scientist's Responsibility: an Interdisciplinary Approach”)

The Programme is designed and directed by the UNESCO Chairholder  Professor Dimitra Papadopoulou. It is offered to undergraduate students of almost all Schools of the A.U.Th. Since 1997 more than 40 Professors from 19 Faculties have given lectures on 55 different topics, such as Non-violence and peace research * Xenophobia, Racism, Social Exclusion * The rights and protection of political refugees * Chemical Weapons and its consequences etc. Around 1200 students have enrolled and attended the Programme since 1997.

v    European Master’s Degree Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation

The “Chair” participates in this programme since 1998, representing Greece through the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. UNESCO and UNICEF Officials and Professors from 4 Schools of the A.U.Th. have taught in the Programme.

v    National Network of Schoolteachers for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence

Created in 2001, the Network directs its activities towards the promotion of the values of the UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme, according to the UNESCO Manifesto 2000 for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence and other UN/UNESCO Resolutions. Since 1998, the UNESCO Chair, through its programme Education for Human Rights and Peace in Schools in collaboration with the Institute of Education for Peace, organises Educational Interventions in Schools in order to sensitise pupils on basic concepts of Human Rights and Peace.

v    Collaboration with the Greek Armed Forces

Since 1998, the Higher School of War (MA Degree level, Thessaloniki) and the School of National Defence (Ph.D. level, Athens) invite the UNESCO Chairholder, Professor Dimitra Papadopoulou, to give lectures on topics concerning the Culture of Human Rights and Peace to high ranking officers of the Greek Army. 

v    Conferences, Symposia, Cultural Events

The UNESCO Chair has organised two International Conferences and one Pan-Hellenic Conference, on the topics: “50 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (1998), “Towards a Culture of Human Rights and Peace – The Role of Universities” (1999), “The Role of Teachers in the Culture of Human Rights and Peace” (2001).

The UNESCO Chair also organised two Symposia: “Youth for a Culture of Peace” (1998) and “2000 – International Year for a Culture of Peace” (2000), and several cultural events: Concerts, Painting exhibitions, Documents Exhibition on Children’s Rights etc.

 

Plans for the future

The UNESCO Chair plans to expand its activities in the coming years. More specifically, the Chair plans

¨     to create a Network of Greek Universities which will offer programmes of courses related to the Culture of Peace, so that the Education for Human Rights and Peace be introduced to the Curricula of other Greek Universities in addition to the A.U.Th.

¨     to launch a Mediterranean Summer School on Education for Human Rights and Peace

¨     to initiate a Post-Graduate Programme of Study in the above-mentioned field.

 

VI. GOVERNING GLOBALISATION:

Issues and Institutions

 

“Governing Globalisation: Issues and Institutions” is the title of a two-year study, conducted by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University.

 

The study finds that there is an urgent need for reform of the United Nations system as well as the Bretton Woods institutions, stressing that changes and events in the world since these institutions were created – in particular in the last decade – have eroded their credibility and effectiveness.

 

The response of the international community and the UN system to humanitarian crises, such as helping refugees, peace keeping and supporting reconstruction, has been “ad hoc, inadequate, or simply not forthcoming”. Furthermore, insists the report, there is no system in place for taking care of or preventing “complex humanitarian emergencies”.

 

The policy brief offers many suggestions for reforming the United Nations, pointing out that crises should be welcomed as “catalysts for change”. The Security Council’s membership should be increased, and the five permanent members’ veto powers be “circumscribed”. It also calls for the establishment of a volunteer peace force to provide a prompt, collective security response whenever emergencies arise.

 

The study calls for the creation of an Economic Security Council, which should govern globalisation and act as “an international regulatory authority”.  Without effective international coordination “international public “bads” (such as international crime, or international trade in drugs, arms, organs and people) are bound to increase while public “goods” (such as world peace and sustainable development) are most likely to decrease”.

 

The study identifies what it believes to be two fundamental flaws in the performance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund:

 

The editor and co-author of this important policy brief, Deepak Nayyar, says that the time has come to “reform reformers”, to re-think conditionality and to dispense with the standardized package of policies. Because, says the co-author, “one size does not fit all”.

 

Governing Globalisation furthermore calls for the establishment of a Global Peoples Assembly, running parallel to the General Assembly, modeled after the European Parliament.

 

Contact: Ara Kazandjian,Media and Public Relations, World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations Universityl

Katajanokanlaituri 6 B, 00160 Helsinki, Finland.

e-mail ara@wider.unu.edu  website: www.wider.unu.edu

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VII. NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE MASS SUICIDE -

statement by Mary Lou Cook

 

“Mankind is on the brink of self-annihilation. Nuclear weaponry is humanity’s absolute urgent issue! Any thinking person has to be deeply concerned with this instrument of death. In full scale nuclear war, its destructive capacity could kill almost everyone. For unlucky survivors, everything left would be lethal, with agonies of disease, poisons in the air and water, complete absence of medical care, on and on. And the hopeless sense of a civilization destroyed for nothing, knowing that we could have prevented it and did not.

 

These dangers are known, but so depressing that we are in denial and don’t wish to face them. If we had a realistic sense of the actual consequences, we would be more willing to confront our leaders re their continual support of nuclear terror. Billions, nay trillions are spent, nations competing with one another in stockpiling, testing and improving weapons systems. It is insanity to continue with this madness. Yet it’s never too late to change, even though it’s 11:55 on the nuclear clock.

 

Where is the justification and common sense for this huge build-up to kill people? Have we learned anything from the endless, devastating history of warfare? War solves nothing. We see no other possibility for sustained life on our planetary home without the positive, social and healing force of peace. We long for this with all our hearts.

 

There is another way. Nuclear disarmament and peace are the signposts toward the path of a brighter human condition that is life giving, rather than life taking. Senator Dennis Kucinich of Ohio suggests a national Department of Peace, wherein we can through conscious efforts change the context of our existence from peril to peace.

 

This is appropriate work for the human family, of people demanding that governments put down their weapons and respond in this crisis to protect the planet. Now is the time for new thinking, to organize and achieve both nuclear disarmament and peace. Kucinich has a practical vision for peace, indeed he is the wise leader we have been waiting for. Look him up at http://www.house.gov/kucinich/action/peace.htm

 

Mary Lou has initiated a campaign for the establishment of a New Mexico Department of Peace.

 

Contact: Bishop Mary Lou Cook, 321 Calle Loma Norte, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Tel: 505/083-2894 – Fax: 505/983-5828

 

 

 

 

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VIII. COOPERATION IS A TWO-WAY STREET

 

The following article, sent to us by Keith Suter, first appeared in The Canberra Times, Friday 5 July, 2002, under the title: “US needs to help UN to do its job

 

The Bush Administration is in favour of law and order at home – but not evidently overseas. The United States has taken its opposition to the new International Criminal Court a step further by trying to block an extension of the UN peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.

 

There are two immediate concerns. First, will the US be hostile to all UN peacekeeping operations, or just those in which American forces are deployed? If it is the latter, then this is not a major problem because the US is not a major supplier of personnel to UN operations. The US prefers to mount the operations that it will run itself (such as Afghanistan). A poor country like Pakistan has supplied more forces to the UN than the US.

 

Meanwhile at the military operational level, the antics of politicians do not count for much. The US has not accepted the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions dealing with international conflicts and the treaty banning land mines. But Allied defence personnel and Amerian personnel have found ways to continue their military cooperation regardless. America’s non-involvement in the court will not be a problem at the operational level.

 

But if the US takes its blanket opposition to the court to be a blanket opposition to all UN peacekeeping operations, then this will be a major problem. There are about 15 UN operations under way around the world at present. Given the increasing fragmentation of countries, we can expect that other operations will have to be mounted. But other governments may decide not to offer personnel to the UN if there is a risk that they will be enmeshed in a dispute over the court.

 

Looking to the longer term, the dispute over the court creates three problems. First, what is the US actually worried about? Many international lawyers still remain unclear as to what is the fear of the US about the International Criminal Court. America says that it is worried that its personnel could be brought before the court. But the treaty makes it clear that the court will not be able to handle a case that is being, or has been, investigated by the country concerned. Presumably the US will always investigate allegations of war crimes committed by its own personnel itself, and so what is it worried about?

 

America’s opposition to the court may be more a matter of domestic political considerations overshadowing foreign policy. Being seen as aggressive towards the UN may be a good vote-getter at home, but it is a poor way for the world’s superpower to run its foreign policy.

 

Second, is there any treaty that President Bush likes? He has opposed a string of them, with this court treaty and the Kyoto Protocol on climate change being only the most recent examples. On the one hand, the US expects countries to rally around and help it in its war on terrorism, but on the other hand the US does not want to play its part in developing the international legal order.

 

Third, there is the worry that the US has a longer-term policy of opposing international cooperation because, with the end of the Cold War, it now has a policy of aggressive unilateralism. Other than the war on terrorism, the US has evidently decided that it does not need close allies. It can browbeat countries into accepting its view.

 

However, some countries have not accepted that dominance quite so easily. On the Bosnian vote, for example, Britain and France have disagreed with the US. Even quiet little Australia has its moments: it is one of the vast majority of countries that vote in the General Assembly each year for the US to end its unilateral sanctions against Cuba. Only Israel and Uzbekistan support the United States over Cuba.

 

Therefore, America’s allies need to make it explicitly clear that international cooperation – such as over the war on terrorism – is a two-way street. If the US wants support then it has to be equally willing to work with them in promoting the international legal order.

 

Dr Keith Suter is a Senior Fellow at Global Business Network Australia.

e-mail kdsuter@wesleymission.org.au

 

 

IX. 2003 – INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF FRESHWATER

 

During this year all UN member states, the entire UN system and all major groups are encouraged to raise public awareness of the essential importance of Freshwater resources “for satisfying basic human needs, for health and food production and the preservation of ecosystems, and for economic and social development in general”

 

One of the major conferences of the year, the Third World Water Forum, will be held in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan, from 16 to 23 March.

 

Several important publications will be launched on this occasion. Among these are: the “WORLD WATER DEVELOPMENT REPORT”, prepared by the UN system; two volumes of the “ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS” released by UNESCO, and UNICEF, who has prepared much material including child-friendly versions of key documents,  is also co-organising with children and young people the Children’s World Water Forum at Kyoto, which will include a panel discussion on the theme “children and young people as stakeholders in water and sanitation sector”.

 

In the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the UN member states resolved to halve (by 2015) the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water; to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing water management strategies and to promote both equitable access and adequate supplies.

 

In the material provided by the United Nations to help raise public awareness on the central role water, freshwater in particular, plays in all our lives, we are reminded that – although 70 per cent of the world’s surface is covered by water, only 2.5 per cent is freshwater, of which 70 percent is frozen in ice caps. The remainder is present as soil moisture, which leaves less than one per cent of the world’s freshwater resources accessible for human use.

 

While space probes are searching for water on other planets as the first and foremost sign of life, we here on earth tend to forget, ignore or take for granted this essential resource on which all life depends. Perhaps it is high time we are all reminded of its importance. Yet 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water at the same time as others are wasting it needlessly. 2003 International Year of Freshwater is urging us all to use this precious commodity wisely.

 

wateryear2003@un.org  

 

 

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X.  THE GREAT INVOCATION

 

From the point of Light within the Mind of God

Let light stream forth into the minds of men.

Let Light descend on Earth.

 

From the point of Love within the Heart of God

Let love stream forth into the hearts of men

May Christ return to Earth.

 

From the centre where the Will of God is known

Let purpose guide the little wills of men –

The purpose which the Masters know and serve.

 

From the centre which we call the race of men

Let the Plan of Love and Light work out

And may it seal the door where evil dwells.

 

Let Light and Love and Power restore the plan on Earth.