(Une version française suit en dessous)

Are economic sanctions a violation of human rights?

Here are some quotes from CPNN articles that raise this question.

2017: (We are) “convinced that ending the Korean War officially is an urgent, essential step for the establishment of enduring peace and mutual respect between the U.S. and the DPRK, as well as for the North Korean people’s full enjoyment of their basic human rights to life, peace and development – ending their long sufferings from the harsh economic sanctions imposed on them by the U.S. Government since 1950.”

2019: “Alfred de Zayas, the first UN special rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years, told the Independent(1/26/19) that US, Canadian and European Union “economic warfare” has killed Venezuelans, noting that the sanctions fall most heavily on the poorest people and demonstrably cause death through food and medicine shortages, lead to violations of human rights and are aimed at coercing economic change in a “sister democracy.”

2019: “On 3 August 2018, the U.N.’s General Assembly received the report from the U.N.s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. . . . The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

2020: Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire: “The USA should lift sanctions placed on Iran, North Korea, Cuba, etc., and all 54 countries where these sanctions bring death and destruction to citizens, leaving their governments with no money for medicine and food or to help them cope with the coronavirus.”

2020: The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty : “International sanctions that include food and agriculture trade are war crimes. Moreover, blanket economic sanctions decimate nation’s livelihoods and developing countries’ international trade relations. Countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are suffering from sanctions initiated and backed by US and its G20 allies – severely limiting their policy options in facing a pandemic like the coronavirus. In Venezuela and Bolivia, the US tried to put into power political allies using sanctions that created shortages and economic restrictions that the population suffered through within the script of the Hybrid War. The economic and financial embargo imposed by the US against Cuba has impeded export of goods and services, procurement of resources, and trade since 1958. In particular, food trade, access to medicine and medical supplies, and exchange of scientific knowledge were greatly restricted, impacting the Cuban peoples for many decades.”

2021: “The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, today [12 February] urged the United States, European Union and other States to drop unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela. At the end of a two-week visit to Venezuela, Douhan said the sanctions have exacerbated pre-existing calamities. They have resulted in the economic, humanitarian and development crisis, with a devastating effect on the whole population of Venezuela, especially but not only those in extreme poverty, women, children, medical workers, people with disabilities or life-threatening or chronic diseases, and the indigenous populations.”

2022: “The United Nations special rapporteur said the “outrageous” sanctions the West has imposed on Syria are “suffocating” millions of civilians and “may constitute crimes against humanity.” The country’s economy contracted 90%. Nine out of 10 Syrians live in poverty.”

2023“Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said he had personally urged Biden to attack the root causes of migration to the US southern border, namely the “poverty and abandonment” endemic to those countries — and which US sanctions have unquestionably played a major role in causing.”

The sanctions against Cuba are universally condemned by the United Nations and Human Rights organizations. Quoting Wikipedia, “The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution every year since 1992 demanding the end of the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, with the U.S. and Israel being the only nations to consistently vote against the resolutions. . . . Human-rights groups including Amnesty International,[2] Human Rights Watch,[18] and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights[19] have also been critical of the embargo. . . . In 1997, the American Association for World Health stated that the embargo contributed to malnutrition, poor water access, lack of access to medicine and other medical supplies and concluded that “a humanitarian catastrophe has been averted only because the Cuban government has maintained a high level of budgetary support for a health care system designed to deliver primary and preventative medicine to all its citizens.”

Should sanctions be considered as terrorism? Keep in mind that the definition of terrorism, according to Oxford Dictionary is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

When the American Empire wants to justify its designation of enemies, such as China and Russia at this moment of history, what are its accusations? Violations of human rights and acts of terrorism. Such hypocrisy!

Fortunately, as described in last month’s blog, for the first time there will be now be an alternative source for development financing that can allow countries to avoid both the damage and the risk of American sanctions: the New Development Bank of the BRICS Association.

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Les sanctions économiques sont-elles une violation des droits de l’Homme ?

Voici quelques citations d’articles de CPNN qui soulèvent cette question.

2017: (Nous sommes) « convaincus que la fin officielle de la guerre de Corée est une étape urgente et essentielle pour l’établissement d’une paix durable et d’un respect mutuel entre les États-Unis et la RPDC, ainsi que pour la pleine jouissance par le peuple nord-coréen de sa vie humaine fondamentale. droits à la vie, à la paix et au développement – mettant fin à leurs longues souffrances dues aux dures sanctions économiques imposées par le gouvernement américain depuis 1950. »

2019: “Alfred de Zayas, le premier rapporteur spécial des Nations Unies à se rendre au Venezuela en 21 ans, a déclaré à l’Indépendant (26/01/19) que la “guerre économique” des États-Unis, du Canada et de l’Union européenne a tué des Vénézuéliens, notant que les sanctions tombent le plus lourdement sur les personnes les plus pauvres et causent manifestement la mort par des pénuries de nourriture et de médicaments, conduisent à des violations des droits de l’Homme et visent à contraindre le changement économique dans une «démocratie sœur».

2019: « Le 3 août 2018, l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies a reçu le rapport de l’Expert indépendant des Nations Unies sur la promotion d’un ordre international démocratique et équitable, concernant sa mission au Venezuela et en Équateur. . . . Les effets des sanctions imposées par les présidents Obama et Trump et les mesures unilatérales du Canada et de l’Union européenne ont directement et indirectement aggravé les pénuries de médicaments comme l’insuline et les antirétroviraux. Dans la mesure où les sanctions économiques ont causé des retards dans la distribution et ont ainsi contribué à de nombreux décès, les sanctions contreviennent aux obligations des pays qui les imposent en matière de droits humains. De plus, les sanctions peuvent constituer des crimes contre l’humanité au sens de l’article 7 du Statut de Rome de la Cour pénale internationale.

2020: La lauréate du prix Nobel de la paix Mairead Maguire : « Les États-Unis devraient lever les sanctions imposées à l’Iran, à la Corée du Nord, à Cuba, etc., et aux 54 pays où ces sanctions entraînent la mort et la destruction de citoyens, laissant leurs gouvernements sans argent pour les médicaments et la nourriture ou pour les aider à faire face au coronavirus.

2020: The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty : « Les sanctions internationales qui incluent le commerce alimentaire et agricole sont des crimes de guerre. De plus, les sanctions économiques générales déciment les moyens de subsistance des nations et les relations commerciales internationales des pays en développement. Des pays comme le Soudan, le Zimbabwe, l’Iran, la Syrie, la République populaire démocratique de Corée souffrent de sanctions initiées et soutenues par les États-Unis et leurs alliés du G20 – limitant considérablement leurs options politiques face à une pandémie comme le coronavirus. Au Venezuela et en Bolivie, les États-Unis ont tenté de mettre au pouvoir des alliés politiques en utilisant des sanctions qui ont créé des pénuries et des restrictions économiques que la population a subies dans le cadre du scénario de la guerre hybride. L’embargo économique et financier imposé par les États-Unis contre Cuba a entravé l’exportation de biens et de services, l’approvisionnement en ressources et le commerce depuis 1958. En particulier, le commerce alimentaire, l’accès aux médicaments et aux fournitures médicales et l’échange de connaissances scientifiques ont été considérablement restreints, impact sur les peuples cubains depuis de nombreuses décennies.

2021: « La Rapporteuse spéciale des Nations Unies sur les mesures coercitives unilatérales et les droits de l’Homme, Alena Douhan, a exhorté aujourd’hui [12 février] les États-Unis, l’Union européenne et d’autres États à abandonner les sanctions unilatérales imposées contre le Venezuela. Au terme d’une visite de deux semaines au Venezuela, Douhan a déclaré que les sanctions avaient exacerbé les calamités préexistantes. Ils ont entraîné la crise économique, humanitaire et de développement, avec un effet dévastateur sur l’ensemble de la population du Venezuela, en particulier mais pas seulement sur les personnes en situation d’extrême pauvreté, les femmes, les enfants, le personnel médical, les personnes handicapées ou souffrant de maladies mortelles ou chroniques, et les populations indigènes.

2022: « Le rapporteur spécial des Nations Unies a déclaré que les sanctions « scandaleuses » que l’Occident a imposées à la Syrie « étouffent » des millions de civils et « peuvent constituer des crimes contre l’humanité ». L’économie du pays s’est contractée de 90 %. Neuf Syriens sur 10 vivent dans la pauvreté.

2023“Le président mexicain Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a déclaré qu’il avait personnellement exhorté Biden à s’attaquer aux causes profondes de la migration vers la frontière sud des États-Unis, à savoir la” pauvreté et l’abandon “endémiques à ces pays – et dont les sanctions américaines ont incontestablement joué un rôle majeur rôle dans la cause.

Les sanctions contre Cuba sont universellement condamnées par les Nations Unies et les organisations des droits de l’Homme. Citant Wikipedia, ” à l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies, de nombreuses résolutions proposant aux États-Unis de cesser leur embargo sur Cuba ont été votées, à une très large majorité. En juin 2021, seuls deux États, les États-Unis et Israël, sur plus de 190 ont voté contre la résolution demandant la fin totale de l’embargo.” Et citant la version anglaise de Wikipedia, “Des groupes de défense des droits de l’Homme, dont Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch et la Commission interaméricaine des droits de l’Homme ont également critiqué l’embargo. . . . En 1997, l’Association américaine pour la santé mondiale a déclaré que l’embargo contribuait à la malnutrition, au manque d’accès à l’eau, au manque d’accès aux médicaments et autres fournitures médicales et a conclu qu’« une catastrophe humanitaire n’a été évitée que parce que le gouvernement cubain a maintenu un niveau élevé d’un soutien budgétaire à un système de soins de santé conçu pour fournir une médecine primaire et préventive à tous ses citoyens et cityoyennes.”

Les sanctions doivent-elles être considérées comme du terrorisme ? Gardez à l’esprit que la définition du terrorisme, selon Oxford Dictionary est “l’utilisation illégale de la violence et de l’intimidation , en particulier contre des civils, dans la poursuite d’objectifs politiques ».

Quand l’Empire américain veut justifier sa désignation d’ennemis, comme la Chine et la Russie à ce moment de l’histoire, quelles sont ses accusations ? Violations des droits de l’Homme et actes de terrorisme. Quelle hypocrisie !

Heureusement, comme décrit dans le blog du mois dernier, il y aura désormais pour la première fois une source alternative de financement du développement qui peut permettre aux pays d’éviter à la fois les dégâts et le risque de sanctions américaines : la New Development Bank de l’association BRICS.



(Une version française suit en dessous)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the great documents of history.

With that in mind, it is especially ironic and unfortunate when human rights is used by the culture of war as part of its weaponry.

During the Cold War from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, the United States and its allies used accusations of their human rights violations as a way to justify labelling the Soviet Union as the enemy.

After all; the culture of war cannot function without an enemy. It is not enough to claim that the enemy is arming in order to attack us, but it is necessary to add that the enemy is barbaric and against our values such as the values of human rights. This requires government control of information which has become the principal arm of the culture of war.

Of course, the Soviet Union was not innocent of human rights violations. They were abundantly documented by writers such as Solzhenitsyn. But the West’s accusations were hypocritical. There were political prisoners in the USA as well as the Soviet Union. The West’s exploitation and intervenions in Africa and Latin America were, if anything, worse than the exploitation and interventions by the Soviet Union in its allied countries.

Ironically, the Soviet Union ratified the economic and social part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, guaranteeing housing, employment and medical care to its citizens, whereas the United States has never ratified this, and continues to have high levels of homelessness, unemployment and millions of people without medical care.

The Nobel Peace Prize this year returns us to the use of human rights hypocrisy as a weapon of the culture of war. It was awarded to those who accuse Russia and its allies of human rights violations, and even includes one organization funded and following the pro-war line of the American government. There is no attempt to criticise the abundant human rights violations of the West or mention the serious human rights violations of Ukraine.

Human rights hypocrisy is not confined to the new Cold War against Russia. It applies also to the the new Cold War against China. As described in this blog last year, the commercial media decries Chjnese human rights violations in camps of the Uighur people of Mongolia. But the media sources are funded by the CiA. And to add to the hypocrisy, the camps were establlshed by China in response to CIA-funded terrorist operations. When the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet returned from a fact-finding mission to visit the Uighur people without documenting these claims, she was denounced by Americans and their allies.

Earlier this year, Russia was expelled from the UN Human Rights Commission, again on the demand of the US and its allies. The vote was far from unanimous, however, as it was not supported by over 70 countries of the South. Another recent UN vote provides similar results: 66 countries called for negotiations to end the war in the Ukraine, almost all of them coming from the South.

The commercial media in Europe and North America is almost unanimous in supporting the claims of the West against Russia and China and ignoring human rights violations in the West, while much of the media in the rest of the world are not following this line.

We return to the question of government control of information. To what extent is the Western media infiltrated by CIA agents? Difficult to know since CIA actions are top secret. However, we should recall the US Senate hearings after the Vietnam War which considered this question. Few people would know about these hearings were it not for an article by the reporter Carl Bernstein. Bernstein’s report was not accepted for publication by “main-line” media and he was only able to publish it in the alternative press, the Rolling Stone Magazine . The Bernstein article reveals that the Church Committee found extensive secret CIA infiltration of the mass media, including the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. The data revealed by Bernstein and the Church Committee were only the tip of the iceberg, however. As Bernstein explains, the Committee was blocked from going further with its investigation.

The human rights hypocrisy of the Americans, Europeans and their military allies adds to the growing gulf between the North and South. As shown by the UN votes mentioned above, many countries of the South do not agree with their human rights hypocrisy. Many of them have also come under similar attacks, not to mention economic sanctions, exploitation and in some cases assassinations or military interventions. Important countries of the South such as India, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina are joining the BRICS countries looking for an alternative to the domination of the US dollar.

To quote the World Social Forum, another world is possible.

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La Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme est l’un des grands documents de l’histoire.

Dans cet esprit, il est particulièrement ironique et malheureux que les droits de l’Homme soient utilisés par la culture de la guerre comme faisant partie de son armement.

Pendant la guerre froide, des années 1950 aux années 1980, les États-Unis et leurs alliés ont utilisé les accusations de violations des droits de l’Homme par l’Union sovietique pour justifier celle-ci comme l’ennemi.

Après tout; la culture de guerre ne peut fonctionner sans ennemi. Il ne suffit pas de prétendre que l’ennemi s’arme pour nous attaquer, mais il faut ajouter que l’ennemi est barbare et contre nos valeurs telles que celles des droits de l’Homme. Cela nécessite un contrôle gouvernemental de l’information qui est devenu l’arme principale de la culture de guerre.

Bien sûr, l’Union soviétique n’était pas innocente des violations des droits de l’Homme. Elles ont été abondamment documentées par des écrivains comme Soljenitsyne. Mais les accusations de l’Occident étaient hypocrites. Il y avait des prisonniers politiques aux États-Unis comme en Union soviétique. L’exploitation et les interventions de l’Occident en Afrique et en Amérique latine étaient, en tout cas, pires que l’exploitation et les interventions de l’Union soviétique dans ses pays alliés.

Ironiquement, l’Union soviétique a ratifié la partie économique et sociale de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme, garantissant le logement, l’emploi et les soins médicaux à ses citoyens, alors que les États-Unis ne l’ont jamais ratifiée et continuent d’avoir des niveaux élevés de sans-abris, de chômage et de des millions de personnes sans soins médicaux.

Le prix Nobel de la paix de cette année nous ramène à l’utilisation de l’hypocrisie des droits de l’Homme comme arme de la culture de guerre. Il a été décerné à ceux qui accusent la Russie et ses alliés de violations des droits de l’Homme, et comprend même une organisation financée par le gouvernement américain pour suivre une ligne pro-guerre. Il n’y a aucune tentative à critiquer les nombreuses violations des droits de l’Homme de l’Occident ou de mentionner les graves violations des droits de l’Homme de l’Ukraine.

L’hypocrisie des droits de l’homme ne se limite pas à la nouvelle guerre froide contre la Russie. Cela s’applique également à la nouvelle guerre froide contre la Chine. Comme décrit dans ce blog l’année dernière, les médias commerciaux dénoncent les violations des droits de l’Homme en Chine dans les camps du peuple Ouïghour de Mongolie. Mais les sources médiatiques sont financées par la CiA. Et pour ajouter à l’hypocrisie, les camps ont été établis par la Chine en réponse aux opérations terroristes financées par la CIA. Lorsque la commissaire de Droits de l’Homme de l’ONU, Michelle Bachelet, est revenue d’une mission d’enquête pour visiter le peuple Ouïghour sans documenter ces allégations, elle a été dénoncée par les Américains et leurs alliés.

Plus tôt cette année, la Russie a été expulsée de la Commission des droits de l’Homme de l’ONU, toujours à la demande des États-Unis et de ses alliés. Le vote était cependant loin d’être unanime, car il n’était pas soutenu par plus de 70 pays du Sud. Un autre vote récent de l’ONU donne des résultats similaires : 66 pays ont appelé à des négociations pour mettre fin à la guerre en Ukraine, presque tous venant du Sud.

Les médias commerciaux d’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord sont presque unanimes à soutenir les revendications de l’Occident contre la Russie et la Chine et à ignorer les violations des droits de l’Homme en Occident, alors que la plupart des médias du reste du monde ne suivent pas cette ligne.

Nous revenons à la question du contrôle gouvernemental de l’information. Dans quelle mesure les médias occidentaux sont-ils infiltrés par des agents de la CIA ? Difficile à savoir puisque les actions de la CIA sont top secrètes. Cependant, rappelons-nous les audiences du Sénat américain après la guerre du Vietnam qui ont examiné cette question. Peu de gens seraient au courant de ces audiences sans un article du journaliste Carl Bernstein. Le rapport de Bernstein n’a pas été accepté pour publication par les médias « principaux » et il n’a pu le publier que dans la presse alternative, le Rolling Stone Magazine. L’article de Bernstein révèle que le comité du Sénat a découvert une vaste infiltration secrète de la CIA dans les médias de masse, y compris le New York Times, CBS et Time Inc. Les données révélées par Bernstein et le comité du Sénat n’étaient cependant que la pointe de l’iceberg. Comme l’explique Bernstein, le Comité a été empêché d’aller plus loin dans son enquête.

L’hypocrisie des droits de l’Homme des Américains, des Européens et de leurs alliés militaires ajoute au fossé grandissant entre le Nord et le Sud. Comme le montrent les votes de l’ONU mentionnés ci-dessus, de nombreux pays du Sud ne sont pas d’accord avec leur hypocrisie en matière de droits de l’Homme. Beaucoup d’entre eux ont également subi des attaques similaires, sans parler des sanctions économiques, de l’exploitation et, dans certains cas, des assassinats ou des interventions militaires.

Etant donné que d’importants pays du Sud tels que l’Inde, l’Afrique du Sud, le Brésil et l’Argentine rejoignent le groupe des a href=”″pays BRICS à la recherche d’une alternative à la domination du dollar américain, le fossé entre Nord et Sud devient non seulement politique, mais aussi économique. Pour citer le Forum social mondial, un autre monde est possible.

The UN Resolution for the Culture of Peace


(Une version française suit en dessous)

This summer and fall is seeing an increase in the number of international conferences dedicated to the culture of peace and basing their analysis on the Declaration and Program of Action for a Culture of Peace that was adopted 20 years ago by the UN General Assembly.

The UN resolution provides a holistic, positive view of peace. For each of the eight aspects of the culture of war, it proposes the alternative as described here. The resolution proposes specific actions to promote each of these eight program areas. And furthermore, it calls for a global movement for a culture of peace through partnerships between an among international, national and civil society organizations promoted through sysems of information exchange (such as the Culture of Peace News Network) on their initiatives.

The struggle for a culture of peace could gain much more force if this resolution were used as the basis for analysis and practice by more organizations around the world, but unfortunately it is relatively unknown.

The situation reminds me of the use of another landmark UN document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR).

The adoption of the UNDHR by the UN General Assembly in 1948 did not immediately yield results. For the first 40 years the document sat on the shelf and was rarely mentioned, as shown in the following graph which shows the citations of human rights in academic publications as monitored by the Science Citation Index. It has only in recent years that references have exploded into thousands of times per year.

Figure drawn from my book World Peace throught the Town Hall.

Now over 70 years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been taken up by thousands of other organizations and struggles in all social movements as a powerful tool for justice.

We may assume that the increased attention to human rights after the 1970s was largely due to the Nobel Peace Prize of 1977 to Amnesty International because of their efforts for human rights.

Hopefully, we will not have to wait another 20 years for such effective use of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. The work for culture of peace has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recent years, and if it were to be recognized by the Prize, that could help produce the kind of universal recognition and historical impact as that of the UNDHR.

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La résolution des Nations Unies pour la culture de la paix

Pour cet été et cet automne, le nombre de conférences internationales consacrées à la culture de la paix a augmenté. Leur analyse est souvent basée sur de la Déclaration et Programme d’action pour une culture de la paix adoptés il y a 20 ans par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies.

La résolution de l’ONU offre une vision globale et positive de la paix. Pour chacun des huit aspects de la culture de la guerre, il propose une alternative (voir ici). La résolution propose des actions spécifiques pour promouvoir chacun de ces huit domaines de programme. En outre, il appelle à un mouvement mondial pour une culture de la paix par des partenariats entre des organisations internationales, nationales et de la société civile, promues par des systèmes d’échanges et d’informations (comme CPNN) sur leurs initiatives.

La lutte pour une culture de la paix pourrait gagner beaucoup plus de force si cette résolution était utilisée comme base d’analyse et de pratique par plus d’organisations dans le monde, mais malheureusement, elle est mal connue.

La situation me rappelle l’utilisation d’un autre document historique des Nations Unies, la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme (DUDH).

L’adoption de la DUDH par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies en 1948 n’a pas immédiatement donné de résultats. Pendant les 40 premières années, le document était sur l’étagère et rarement mentionné, comme l’illustre le graphique ci-dessous, qui montre les citations des droits de l’Homme dans des publications universitaires suivies par le Science Citation Index. Ce n’est que ces dernières années que les références ont explosé des milliers de fois par an.

[Figure tirée de mon livre “Paix mondiale à travers les municipalites”.]

Aujourd’hui, plus de 70 ans après son adoption, la Declaration universelle des droits de l’Homme a été reprise par des milliers d’organisations et de luttes dans tous les mouvements sociaux, en tant que puissant outil de justice.

Nous pouvons supposer que l’attention accrue portée aux droits de l’Homme après les années 1970 était largement due au prix Nobel de la paix de 1977 attribué à Amnesty International en raison de ses efforts en faveur des droits de l’Homme.

Espérons que nous n’aurons pas besoin d’attendre encore 20 ans pour une utilisation aussi efficace de la Déclaration et du Programme d’action pour une culture de la paix. L’œuvre pour la culture de la paix a été nominée pour le prix Nobel de la paix ces dernières années. Si elle devait être reconnue par le prix, elle pourrait contribuer à produire le type de reconnaissance universelle et d’impact historique de la DUDH.


The Paradox of the United Nations: Peace vs. Culture of Peace


If we consider the purpose for which the United Nations was formed: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” it is failing badly. This spring, when we hoped that the United Nations would convene a High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, the meeting was cancelled due to pressure from the United States and its allies. And most recently, we see that the proposal for a peacekeeping force to protect the Palestinian people cannot be implemented because of the American veto.

This month in the CPNN bulletin, we look at recent moves towards peace in the Philippines, Colombia, Korea and Etheopia/Eritrea. What is remarkable is the absence of the United Nations from these initiatives. Only in Colombia did the United Nations play an important role by supervising the disarmament of the FARC guerilla army.

This impotence of the UN is not new. We saw it two decades ago when our work for peace in El Salvador and Mozambique was not supported by the US and its allies.

On the other hand, if we look at the culture of peace, the 90% of the iceberg of peace which is not visible on the surface, we see that the UN is continually developing a culture of peace at the local level.

Education for peace: the ‘Back to Learning’ education campaign of UNICEF will benefit half a million children in South Sudan.

Democratic participation: UN Women contributed to the historic leap in Tunisia where women now make up 47 per cent of local government.

Sustainable development: UNESCO and UNWTO are encouraging cultural tourism as a means of fostering sustainable development.

Women’s equality: As described in their annual report, UN Women is supporting women politicians, electoral officials, voters, lawmakers, civil society activists and many others to claim their equal right to lead and be heard.

Human rights: Although the task is often frustrating, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights works for implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights which is the keystone of work in this area.

Tolerance and solidarity: The United Nations continues to support youth projects for tolerance and solidarity through the Youth Solidarity Fund.

Free flow of information: In Africa UNESCO supports the development of local radio initiatives against gender violence.

Disarmament: Although the UN is failing at the highest level for disarmament, it is quite capable of action when the member states support it, as described above in the case of Colombia.

And on a more general level, the United Nations continues to hold annual high level forums dedicated to the development of a culture of peace and UNESCO continues to support the development of a culture of peace in Africa.

Imagine how effective the UN could be if the stranglehold of the member states as expressed by the veto of the United States were to be replaced by a radical revision of the UN management with direction by representatives of cities or parliaments, as I have repeatedly proposed!

The struggle to eliminate violence against women is essential to the culture of peace


The advance this year of the struggle to eilmininate violence against women is an important step forward for the global movement for a culture of peace. Here’s why.

First of all, violence against women has always been an intrinsic component of war. This goes back to prehistory when women were excluded from war due to the fact the practice of patrilocal exogamous marriage (husband remains in his native village and marries a wife from outside) ensured that wars were conducted between the husband of a woman on one side and her father and brothers on the other side. As a result, since warriors were exclusively men, they were free to capture and rape the women they found when vanquishing another community.

The male domination of the culture of war has characterized all human societies since the beginning of history. The male rulers of the first empires were not only the military commanders but also the heads of the state religion. Female heads of state and religion were so rare that they are considered to be curiosities of history: for example the pharaoh Hatshepsut in ancient Egypt, and the (mythical?) female Catholic Pope in the Middle Ages.

The male domination of the culture of war has come down to our present world system transformed by previous changes in economic systems, from slavery to colonialism to neo-colonialism, but all of these systems remain essentially sexist.

Huge economic industries, part of the culture of war, are essentially sexist. Of course, female prostitution goes back to the beginning of recorded history. But what about modern advertising the use of scarcely clad female models to sell automobilies, beauty products, etc. etc.? In capitalist economies, women are often considered as a commodity to be bought and sold. Seen in this context, rape can be considered in many cases as the forceful theft of the female commodity.

Apart from physical violence the exploitation of women in the modern economy is a form of structural violence. Women are not paid for their essential work in the bearing and raising of children. And in the workplace they continue to be paid substantially less than men in the equivalent occupation.

Political leaders often echo the sexism. The current US President is an example as reported on many occasions (for a list see the this article in The Guardian). Fortunately, we find more political leaders speaking out against sexism, such as the Presidents of France, Turkey and Canada as described in this month’s CPNN bulletin.

Second, violence against women diminishes their capacity to play their essential role as leaders in the transition to a culture of peace. Their role is essential as a result of their exclusion and suffering from war and the culture of war which gives them special reason to take action. In fact, we find women in leadership wherever there are campaigns for a culture of peace, but it would be even greater if all women were free from the threat of violence.

Third, the struggle for any one of the eight program areas of the culture of peace is a struggle for the others as well, because the movement for a culture of peace is an integral and synergistic struggle. For example, the rights of women are an important component of human rights in general. Similarly, sustainable and equitable economic development and democratic participation require the economic and political equality of women. Education for peace requires that girls have the same access to education as boys. In fact, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said, unless the international community tackles the problem of violence against women, the world will not eradicate poverty or reach any of its other goals.

In general, we should not make the mistake of thinking that the struggle to eliminate violence against women is just a struggle of the women themselves. It has to be the struggle of everyone, men as well as women, if we are to advance towards a culture of peace.

The dialectical pace of history


(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

History does not progress at an even rate, but by long periods of slow development punctuated by sudden revolutionary changes, as described by dialectical philosophy.

The news in CPNN this month illustrate the slowness of the development of the culture of peace.

The development of the peace process which led to this month’s signing of a peace accord in Colombia comes after a half century of war and many years of peace negotiations. The case is similar for the progress towards a peace accord with the communist movement in the Philippines. When I took part in the UNESCO international conference for a culture of peace in the Philippines twenty years ago, negotiations were already underway.

Development is similarly slow for city peace commissions. We began the New Haven City Peace Commission in the 1980’s and it is still trying to find its identity. The newest city peace commission, that of Santos, Brazil, was begun six years ago, and only this year has it been officially formalized. As they say: ” It is a long walk on a road that builds itself as we walk over it; we cannot see the end of it, but it is known that the end is a much better place than the one we are living today.”

Human rights are widely recognized and respected today, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ignored and unknown for the first 40 years after its adoption by the United Nations. It was only after the Nobel Peace Prize to Amnesty International in 1977 that it began to get recognition. The equivalent UN resolution for a culture of peace was adopted in 1999. If the same pace is followed as that for human rights, it may not gain universal recognition for another 25 years!

When development is very slow, it is hard to see. As the activists of the new Ashland Culture of Peace Commission state, “we need to acknowledge the important and often unnoticed work that is being done in our community that moves us toward a better world.”

The culture of war has dominated humanity for more than 5000 years. Should we expect it to be replaced by a culture of peace in a short period of time?

On the other hand, at the present time, there are other historical tendencies developing that may come quickly to the point of sudden revolutionary change. In his most recent column, Johan Galtung considers that “the world ‘right now’ [is] so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps. . . . power imbalance that can lead to war ‘before it is too late’, to passive coexistence, or to active coexistence, peace.  Very, very dynamic indeed.  No stability.”

The “peace” mentioned by Galtung would seem to be a relative peace in the sense of the absece of war, caused by the exhaustion of the warring parties. However, even if that comes about, we will still be far from the culture of peace that we need and that is developing much too slowly.

      • Le rythme dialectique de l’histoire

        L’histoire ne progresse pas à un rythme constant, mais par de longues périodes de développement lent entrecoupées de changements soudains et révolutionaires comme le définit la philosophie dialectique.

        Les nouvelles de CPNN ce mois-ci illustrent la lenteur du développement de la culture de la paix.

        Le développement du processus de paix qui a conduit à la signature d’un accord de paix en Colombie ce mois-ci aboutit après un demi-siècle de guerre et de nombreuses années de négociations. Le cas est similaire pour les progrès vers un accord de paix avec le mouvement communiste aux Philippines. Quand j’ai pris part à la conférence internationale de l’UNESCO pour une culture de la paix aux Philippines il y a vingt ans, les négociations étaient déjà en cours.

        Le développement est similairement lent pour les commissions de paix des villes. Nous avons débuté la Commission de Paix de la Ville de New Haven (USA) dans les années 1980, mais elle chereche est encore son identité. La toute derrière commission municipale de la paix, celle de Santos, au Brésil, commencé il y a six ans, n’a été officiellement formalisé que cette année. Comme le disent ses membres: «C’est une longue marche sur une route qui se construit alors que nous marchons dessus, nous ne pouvons pas en voir la fin, mais nous sommes sûr que la fin est un endroit bien meilleur que celui où nous vivons aujourd’hui.”

        Les Droits de l’Homme sont largement reconnus et respectés aujourd’hui, mais la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme a été ignorée, voire inconnue les 40 premières années suivant son adoption par les Nations Unies. Ce fut seulement après le Prix Nobel de la Paix décerné à Amnesty International, en 1977, qu’il a commencé à aovir une reconnaissance. La résolution de l’ONU équivalente pour une culture de la paix a été adoptée en 1999. Si le même rythme est suivi, nous devrons attendre encore 25 ans pour une reconaissance universelle !!

        Lorsque le développement est très lent, il est difficile de le voir. Comme disent les militants de la Commission de la cultre de la paix de Ashland, “nous devons reconnaître le travail important et souvent inaperçu qui se fait dans notre communauté qui nous pousse vers un monde meilleur.”

        La culture de la guerre a dominé l’humanité depuis plus de 5000 ans. Faut-ils attendre à son remplacement par une culture de la paix dans un court laps de temps ??

        D’autre part, à l’heure actuelle, il existe des tendances historiques en développement qui peuvent venir rapidement au point de changement soudaine et révolutionnaire. Dans sa chronique plus récente, Johan Galtung estime que «le monde en ce moment ‘[est] si instable avec des déséquilibres partout et ce que nous vivons sont des flux et des sauts…. Déséquilibres du pouvoir qui peuvent conduire à la guerre “avant qu’il ne soit trop tard”, à la coexistence passive, ou à la coexistence actif, i.e. la paix. Très, très dynamique en effet. Pas de stabilité.”

        La «paix» mentionné par Galtung semble d’être une paix relative dans le sens de l’absence de guerre, provoquée par l’épuisement des partries belligérantes. Cependant, même si cela arrive, nous serons encore loin de la culture de la paix dont nous avons besoin et qui se développe beaucoup trop lentement.

  • Importance of Truth Commissions


    First, Truth Commissions are important because they break the secrecy of the state which is one of the key defenses of the culture of war.

    This month, as described in the CPNN bulletin, there are several examples of this.  The US government, and in particular its CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has kept secret the details of its torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and elsewhere in recent years, as well as its invasion of Panama in 1989.   Despite opposition by the CIA, the torture report by the US Senate has revealed details of the torture, while the upcoming Truth Commission in Panama promises to reveal details of the invasion.   Similarly, despite a law by the Israeli authorities that forbids discussion of the Nakba, the NGO Zochrot has launched a Truth Commission to discuss it.  Other Truth Commissions in Canada, Brazil and Burundi  are revealing atrocities previously previously shrouded in secrecy by their states.

    Second, they promote such key aspects of  a culture of peace as human rights and democracy, by revealing and condemning their violations.

    And third, Truth Commissions are designed to launch the process of reconciliation, a process that will be necessary for the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace. The classic example is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa in the transition from Apartheid to democracy under the leadership of Bishop Desmond Tutu and the presidency of Nelson Mandela.  Since then, according to Amnesty International, there have been truth commission in more than 25 countries (as of 2007), most of them dedicated to reconciliation as well as truth.  The commissions mentioned here continue this important historical trend.

    Other than Canada, today’s commissions are still far from the stage of reconciliation.  Those in Burundi and Panama are just getting underway.  The Truth Commission in Brazil is still far from the stage of reconciliation, and there is so much opposition that one doubts that the U.S. Senate will be able to go beyond its initial stage and achieve any reconciliation.

    It is not surprising that the cases of Israel and the United States are the furthest from reconciliation.  Israel is supported by the U.S. and the American empire is the center of the culture of war in the 21st Century, having organized torture not only in Guantanamo, but also in countries around the world, especially in Latin America.  See a similar analysis by the dean of peace researchers, Johan Galtung.  The strong defense of state secrecy by the U.S. and Israel  is revealed by the continued house arrest of Mordecai Vanunu in Israel for having revealed its nuclear arsenal and the continuing attempts by the U.S. to capture and punish Julian Assange and Edward Snowden for having divulged its secrets.

    In my utopian novel about how we arrive at a culture of peace, I imagine that one of the key moments is when Jerusalem, after a process like that of South Africa (with the involvement of Bishop Tutu), becomes an international city of peace where people of all religions are able to coexist with mutual respect.  As for the United States, I can only that its empire will crash like that of the Soviet Union, giving us the chance to establish a radically new economic and political system in the world.



    The Use and Misuse of Human Rights


    In this month’s CPNN bulletin, we consider both positive and negative sides of the discourse about human rights.

    On the positive side, the state of human rights is a good indicator of progress towards a culture of peace. In this regard, the lead taken by Latin American countries to ratify and enforce human rights treaties reflects the fact, often noted in this blog, that they are the most advanced continent towards a culture of peace. The rights of women, of democratic participation, of sustainable equitable development, of honest information, all these are essential components of a culture of peace.

    On the negative side, there is often a great deal of hypocrisy in the international accusations of human rights violations. This dates from the days of the Cold War when Western accusations of human rights violations in the socialist countries of the East were used as a propaganda arm of the culture of war. We see the same thing being done today as the United States, with the help of the commercial media, and (unfortunately) the leading human rights organizations, is accusing Venezuela of human rights violations in its handling of the mass political demonstrations. Actually, these demonstrations are being orchestrated by the United States as a means of overthrowing the government that was elected there. There is a further danger that the U.S. will use the pretext from this propaganda to justify a military intervention, using the so-called “right of humanitarian intervention.”.

    There are two major components to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: political and economic. During the Cold War while the West refused to accept the economic provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they attacked the East for their record on political rights. In fact, the West continues to be deficient in guaranteeing economic rights to its citizens. Recently, in doing a report on the state of the culture of peace in my American city, I found that human rights was the one aspect of the culture of peace that is going backwards. Each year, Americans have less and less economic rights such as food, shelter, employment and trade union representation. Meanwhile, the US government continues to use political human rights as a propaganda tool to attack other governments that they wish to overthrow.

    In fact, history shows that any good concept can be mis-used. That is true for Culture of Peace, just as it has been true for Human Rights. For example, if you search “culture of peace” in Google news, you will often find statements by Israeli officials criticizing the Palestinians for their lack of a culture of peace. What hypocrisy!!!

    Words are not enough. For this reason, one of the basic rules of CPNN is that articles must refer to specific actions: “Reports should refer to specific events, projects or productions rather than be vague and over-generalized abstract comments. .. they do not have to be “breaking news.” Instead, they may reflect the “slow news” of processes that develop slowly over long periods of time.”