Chile: Who won? Those same as always

– by Pablo Ruiz (19/09/2022)

With 61.86% of the votes cast, the triumphal rejection to the proposal for a New Constitution in Chile, on the September 4th plebiscite, should invite us to a profound reflection on the exercise of democracy and its contradictions, such as the strong impact of the hegemonic media dominated by conservative sectors in Chile.

A truthful democratic country would never have a constitution whose origins and birth arise in a military dictatorship. Unfortunately, in the case of Chile, we have been governed for more than 32 years by the 1980s Constitution imposed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and tolerated, by the political elite, in this long transition to a true democracy.

The Constitution of 1980 has been the fundamental pillar through which the model of neoliberal and individualistic society has been maintained, in which economic, social, and cultural rights, among others, are not guaranteed to the majority of the population. According to a 2020 study by the World Inequality Database, with available information of 175 countries, Chile is the 8th country in the world with the highest concentration of wealth, where the 10% with the highest income gets 60.2 % of the country’s total income.

The Proposal for the New Constitution, which was rejected, stated that workers must have equitable, fair, and sufficient salaries. That all people have the right to health, education, housing, to care and to be cared for, to not suffer violence or torture, to fair trials. It recognized domestic work, the rights of our elders and children, of diversity, nature, native peoples, of the disabled. There are so many and, in a few words, it enshrined human rights so that people could live with full dignity.

It also stated that our nation “is committed to maintaining the region as a zone of peace” and that the Armed Forces and the police must “act with respect for international law and the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution.” However, these proposals were rejected by a large majority of the Chilean population, incredible as it may seem.

The power of big media

The proposal for a New Constitution for Chile, which has been rejected, represented a major danger to the economic interests of the Chilean elite and the large corporations that control and concentrate the wealth generated in Chile. We can then understand why the US newspaper Financial Times was right when it noted in an editorial that “Chile’s decision to forcefully reject a utopian constitution” is “a remarkable example of civic maturity.”

Some say that it has been a punishment for the management of the new president Gabriel Boric, who is facing, as in many countries in the world, high economic inflation and that, logically, it affects broad social sectors. However, Gabriel Boric won the presidential elections with 55.87% of the votes in his favor – particularly, he obtained 4,620,890 votes. In his elections, voting was voluntary and 55% of the electorate with the right to vote chose to do it.

The option “I approve of the New Constitution Proposal” obtained 4,860,093 votes, even more votes than President Gabriel Boric when he won. However, in this plebiscite the vote was mandatory and the rejection option prevailed with 7,886,434 votes. Many factors can explain the Rejection of the New Constitution proposal. Some of them could be:

1 – During the last elections close to 50% of Chileans who have the right to vote did not vote and it is surely the first time they exercised this right. Why didn’t they vote voluntarily earlier? This sector of the population is very disinterested in the entire political system and in Chilean democracy, which is why they have not participated.

2 – The neoliberal system has strengthened the culture of individualism as a way of solving one’s own needs. A large portion of the population is not fully aware that human rights are an obligation of States.

3 – Perhaps the most important factor is that the Chilean elite, with the media support of the large Chilean and foreign Press Media, controlled by the large corporations, campaigned against deep and substantial changes in Chile from the beginning.

According to the newspaper La Tercera, the Rejection campaign had 200 times more funding than the Approval campaign. The big media and propaganda played a very important role in the results that we know based on a campaign of fear based on lies and distortion of the real content that was proposed in the New Constitution.

Although the Rejection option prevailed, the path is not entirely closed for Chile to have a new Constitution that governs its destiny in the future. In the coming weeks, Congress must determine a law for the creation of a new Constitutional Convention. The members who are elected must prepare a new Constitution proposal which will very possibly go to a plebiscite in 2023. The social movements must continue working to achieve true democracy and for the consecration of human rights in a new Constitution for Chile.

– Pablo Ruiz is part of the Observatory for the Closure of the School of the Americas in Chile, and a close contact of the International Peace Bureau in Latin America.

Peace Agenda for Ukraine and the World

Statement of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, adopted at the meeting of Ukrainian Pacifists on the 21st September 2022, International Day of Peace (video).

“We the Ukrainian pacifists demand and will strive to end the war by peaceful means and to protect human right to conscientious objection to military service.

Peace, not war, is the norm of human life. War is an organized mass murder. Our sacred duty is that we shall not kill. Today, when the moral compass is being lost everywhere and self-destructive support for war and the military is on the rise, it is especially important for us to maintain common sense, stay true to our non-violent way of life, build peace and support peace-loving people.

Condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine, the UN General Assembly called for an immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and emphasized that parties to the conflict must respect human rights and international humanitarian law. We share this position.

Current policies of war until absolute victory and contempt for criticism of human rights defenders is unacceptable and must be changed. What is needed is a ceasefire, peace talks and serious work to correct the tragic mistakes made on both sides of the conflict. Prolongation of the war has catastrophic, deadly consequences, and continues to destroy the welfare of society and environment not only in Ukraine, but throughout the world. Sooner or later, parties will sit at the negotiating table, if not after their reasonable decision, then under the pressure of unbearable suffering and weakening, the last better to be avoided by choosing the diplomatic path.

It is wrong to take the side of any of the warring armies, it is necessary to stand on the side of peace and justice. Self-defense can and should be carried out by non-violent and unarmed methods. Any brutal government is illegitimate, and nothing justifies the oppression of people and bloodshed for the illusory goals of total control or conquest of territories. No one can evade responsibility for his own misdoings by claiming to be a victim of misdoings of others. Wrong and even criminal behavior of any party cannot justify creation of a myth about an enemy with whom it is allegedly impossible to negotiate and who must be destroyed at any cost, including self-destruction. A desire for peace is a natural need of every person, and its expression cannot justify a false association with a mythical enemy.

Human right to conscientious objection to military service in Ukraine was not guaranteed according to international standards even in peacetime, not to mention the current conditions of martial law. The state shamefully avoided for decades and now continues to avoid any serious response to the relevant suggestions of the UN Human Rights Committee and public protests. Although the state cannot derogate this right even in time of war or other public emergency, as says the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the army in Ukraine refuses to respect the universally recognized right to conscientious objection to military service, denying even to replace coercive military service by mobilization with an alternative non-military service according to the direct prescription of the Constitution of Ukraine. Such scandalous disrespect to human rights should have no place under the rule of law.

The state and society must put an end to the despotism and legal nihilism of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, manifested in policies of harassment and criminal punishment for refusal to be engaged in war effort and the forced turn of civilians into soldiers, due to which civilians cannot move freely within the country nor go abroad, even if they have vital needs to rescue from danger, to obtain an education, to find means for living, professional and creative self-realization, etc.

Governments and civil societies of the world appeared to be helpless before the scourge of war, drawn into the funnel of conflict between Ukraine and Russia and wider enmity between NATO countries, Russia and China. Even the threat of destruction of all life on the planet by nuclear weapons had not put an end to the mad arms race, and the budget of the UN, the main institution of peace on Earth, is only 3 billion dollars, while global military expenditures are hundreds of times larger and have exceeded a wild amount of 2 trillion dollars. Due to their inclination to organize mass bloodshed and coerce people to kill, nation states have proven to be incapable of non-violent democratic governance and the performance of their basic functions of protecting life and freedom of people.

In our view, the escalation of armed conflicts in Ukraine and the world are caused by the fact that the existing economic, political and legal systems, education, culture, civil society, mass media, public figures, leaders, scientists, experts, professionals, parents, teachers, medics, thinkers, creative and religious actors are not fully perform their duties of strengthening the norms and values of a non-violent way of life, as envisages the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the UN General Assembly. Evidences of the neglected peace-building duties are the archaic and dangerous practices which must be ended: military patriotic upbringing, compulsory military service, lack of systematic public peace education, propaganda of war in the mass media, support of war by NGOs, reluctance of some human rights defenders to advocate consistently for the full realization of human rights to peace and to conscientious objection to military service. We remind stakeholders of their peace-building duties and will steadfastly insist on compliance with these duties.

We see as goals of our peace movement and all peace movements of the world to uphold human right to refuse to kill, to stop the war in Ukraine and all wars in the world, and to ensure sustainable peace and development for all the people of the planet. To achieve these goals, we will tell the truth about the evil and deception of war, learn and teach practical knowledge about peaceful life without violence or with its minimization, and we will help to the needy, especially those affected by wars and unjust coercion to support army or participation in war.

War is a crime against humanity, therefore, we are determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.”

Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration ceremony – Berlin

Last Saturday, August 6, 2022 – 77 years after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the U.S. – Sean Conner, Deputy Executive Director of IPB, spoke at a Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration ceremony in Berlin. The ceremony was organized by the german association ‘Friedensglockengesellschaft’ and took place in Volkspark Friedrichshain at the world peace bell.

In remembrance of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he reminded the audience that the world has not become safer with nuclear weapons to date and the legal frameworks of disarmament, the NPT and the TPNW, are the only way to prevent further nuclear disasters. But it is not only the danger of a nuclear war which needs immediate action, but also the climate emergency which the world is facing. A faster push towards renewable energies and a significant cut in military spending are the necessary and long overdue actions the world has to take. In order to find long-term solutions to  these challenges, security has to be rethought. The concept of Common Security, originally developed in the 1980s and revived this year, does that. It means that no state can achieve security at the expense of another state, which is what has led to the arms race in the first place.

Please find the full speech in German and English language here: https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Speech_Friedensglocke_Sean_Conner.pdf

Publication of the report “NATO, Building Global Insecurity”

On the 25th of June, at the occasion for the Peace Summit Madrid 2022, the Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau, in collaboration with the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS), issued its 53th report under the name “NATO, Building Global Insecurity” (La OTAN, Construyendo Inseguridad Global” in the original) with the coordination of Gabriela Serra and contribution of many authors.

This report on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) presents an updated and detailed reading of military alliances, taking into account the global context of simultaneous crises and the increase of the tensions caused by the invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of 2022.

NATO’s modus operandi is reflected in its Strategic Concepts, and from the last two approved we can draw some conclusions that help us understand the Alliance’s objectives: on the one hand, it attempts to promote a broad conception of defense, which it makes it possible to greatly expand its scope of action to deal with “new threats”, many of them non-military; There is also an attempt to make submission to the Charter of the United Nations more flexible, situating itself in what has been described as “legal deregulation of war”; Similarly, NATO expands its geographical scope of action beyond what is established by the North Atlantic Treaty, as happened in the case of Afghanistan; Lastly, the democratic deficit with which this strategy is decided, which breaks the most basic rules of parliamentarism, is notable. In June 2021, a new Strategic Concept will be approved in Madrid which, predictably, will focus on reinforcing deterrence and defense, which is equivalent to increasing all military capabilities, whether nuclear, conventional or cyber. It will also include an express reference to the relationship with China, which it considers a “systemic challenge.” In addition, it will state that it will not only respond to armed attacks, but that NATO could intervene militarily against any threat to its security (…)

Therefore, this publication defends the “No to war, no to NATO”, as an amendment to the whole, to a predatory militarism of lives and human resources, of habitats, of economies. peace is not only a hackneyed slogan, but a relationship policy that must be deployed at all levels, from the interpersonal to the interstate, now more than ever”

At the adjunct (annex), from pages 47 to 49, you can find the contribution of Reiner Braun – Executive Director of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) – addressing the Olof Palme Report “Common Security 2022: For our Shared Future”, focusing on how Common Security serves to avoid disasters regarding nuclear armament and militarization. The Common Security report aims to encourage that “in times of acute crisis, there must be those who look forward and give a vision of a better future”, complementing in many ways the words of Centre Delàs’ report.

Click in this link to have access to the full report or visit Centre Delàs’ website.­­

North American launch of the Common Security Report 2022

The new Common Security 2022 report was released on April 28 in North America!

The webinar was co-sponsored by Peace Action, PeaceQuest in Canada and the IPB. Speakers included:

Anna Sundstrom – Secretary General, Olaf Palme Foundation (Sweden) Reiner Braun – Executive Director, International Peace Bureau (Germany) Anuradha Chenoy –Jawaharlal Nehru University & Asia-Europe People’s Forum (India) Sergio Duarte – President Pugwash Conference (Brazil) Alexey Gromyko – Russian Academy of Science (Russia) Alexander Kmentt – Ambassador and Director, Dep’s for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation (Austria) Zhao Tong – Tsinghua University (China)

In case you missed the event, please watch the recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MsgBxOtNes

Find more information on https://commonsecurity.org/

Interview with Philip Jennings and Sean Conner on the launch of the Common Security Report 2022

What are today’s global challenges? How can the concept of common security counteract with these? And most important, what can you do to engage in common security?

Find all of these questions answered in an interview with Philip Jennings (Co-President of IPB) and Sean Conner (Deputy Executive Director of IPB) on the launch of the Common Security Report 2022. The interview was conducted by Nina Engelbracht (Assistant Coordinator of IPB) on April 21, 2022 right after the official launch event of the Common Security Report 2022 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Watch here: https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GMT20220421-134441_Recording_640x360-1.mp4

You can also find the video our Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/EhyEk6_J1No

Common Security Report 2022 – For Our Shared Future (EN/DE/FR/ES/RU)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Olof Palme’s Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues. The Commission presented its report in 1982, at the height of the Cold War, and the Commission developed the concept of Common Security – the idea that nations and populations can only feel safe when their counterparts feel safe.

The new Common Security 2022 report comes at a time when the international order faces severe challenges. The world stands at a crossroads. It is faced with a choice between an existence based on confrontation and aggression or one to be rooted in a transformative peace agenda an common security. In 2022, humanity faces the existential threats of nuclear war, climate change and pandemics. This is compounded by a toxic mix of inequality, extremism, nationalism, gender violence, and shrinking democratic space. How humanity responds to these threats will decide our very survival.

The Common Security Report 2022 is published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Olof Palme International Center. More information on https://commonsecurity.org/.

Find the full report in here:

English: https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/CommonSecurity_Report_2022_EN.pdf

Deutsch: https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Palme_Report_2022_CSDE.pdf

Français: https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Palme_Report_2022_CSFR.pdf

Español: https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Palme_Report_2022_CSES.pdf

Русский язык: https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Palme_Report_2022_CSRU.pdf

IPB Statement of Solidarity with Demonstrators in Russia and the People of Ukraine & Russian Petition

The International Peace Bureau stands in solidarity with those who are actively speaking out against the actions of the Russian government in Ukraine and the victims of the aggression. We welcome the peace protests in Moscow and many other cities of Russia.

Continue reading “IPB Statement of Solidarity with Demonstrators in Russia and the People of Ukraine & Russian Petition”

IPB Statement on Ukraine, 24 February 2022

The IPB condemns Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.
The bombardments must be stopped immediately. What is needed is a comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of all troops and a return to the negotiating table.

There is no military solution, only a political solution based on the principles of common security.