Alexander Kmentt receives the Seán MacBride Award: Vienna, Austria

On Saturday, 2 December from 7-9pm, the International Peace Bureau awarded Alexander Kmentt with the Seán MacBride Peace Prize. The ceremony was held at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria. Kmentt officially received the award in 2021, but the pandemic delayed the ceremony. We were happy to honor Alexander Kmentt in-person for his dedication to disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons. 

Alexander Kmentt is the Ambassador and Director of the Department of Disarmament, Arms-Control and Non-Proliferation Department of the Austrian Foreign Ministry. In his acceptance speech, Kmentt discussed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the passionate activists and diplomats who made such a treaty possible, as well as the international role that Austria can play in terms of disarmament. Kmentt noted that “the risks of nuclear conflict [are] higher than in decades… [we] must realize with urgency that the nuclear weapons issue is back as an existential threat to the survival of humanity.” 

Sean Conner, Executive Director of IPB, presenting the award to Alexander Kmentt

Featured speakers included Angela Kane (Former United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs), Emil Brix (Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna), Rosa Logar (WILPF Austria – Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom), Elayne Whyte Gómez, (Costa Rican diplomat and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations in Geneva [2014-2020]), Beatrice Fihn (Executive Director of ICAN), Sean Conner (Executive Director of IPB) and Reiner Braun (outgoing Executive Director of IPB). Nadja Stiegler and Maria Kasznia (piano) from DuoArte enchanted the room with several musical numbers. 

Watch the award ceremony here.

Press releases: Die Presse & Die Furche

Conference Review: ‘From Conflict to Beloved Communities: A Series of International Gatherings on Peace, Justice and Nonviolence’ in Juba, South Sudan

Tyson in Juba, South Sudan

From 03-21 November, the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan in conjunction with the Organization for Nonviolence and Development hosted the conference “From Conflict to Beloved Communities: A Series of International Gatherings on Peace, Justice and Nonviolence.”

IPB council member and Executive Director of 4kids International, Tyson Smith Berry Jr., hosted IPB Day at the conference on 08 November. The program, titled “Climate Change & Common Security: challenges and solutions in Africa and the world at large,” included various seminars and workshops.

Read Tyson’s report here:

Click here to learn more about IPB Day in Juba!

Matt Meyer, Secretary-General of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), also shared afterthoughts from the events in Juba:

Open Letter Launch on military spending and climate finance

In a collaboration between the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) , World BEYOND War (WBW), and the International Peace Bureau (IPB), we come to present you two Open Letters written especifically for the occasion of the COP27 happening in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egipt from the 6th to the 18th of November.

The first letter is addressed as an Appeal to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chang (UNFCCC) to Study Climate Impacts of Military Emissions and Military Spending for Climate Financing. The second one, as a Global Appeal to Reduce Military Spending and Re-Allocate to Climate Financing, is addressed to Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund.

“It is inconceivable that while millions of people are waiting for vaccines, medicines or food to save their lives, the richest countries continue to prioritize their resources in armaments at the expense of people’s well-being, climate, health and equitable recovery.”

We appeal to the UNFCCC and the IPCC to do a special report and assessment of the climate impacts of war and the military. Global military spending has risen to over $2.1 trillion USD. We urge the UNFCCC to call on member states to cut military spending for climate financing.

In 2021, global military spending rose to $2.1 trillion (USD), the highest ever in history. This is 20 times more than the $100 billion pledged for climate finance, a target that Western countries failed to meet. 

The military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels and biggest carbon emitter in the governments of state parties. Countries must demilitarize to decarbonize.

Military emissions and expenditures are derailing progress on the Paris Agreement. Peace, disarmament and demilitarisation are vital to mitigation, transformational adaptation, and climate justice. We also appeal to the Green Climate Fund to study the reduction and re-allocation of military spending for climate financing facilities.

Conference Program: ‘From Conflict to Beloved Communities: A Series of International Gatherings on Peace, Justice and Nonviolence’ in Juba, South Sudan

“From Conflict to Beloved Communities: A Series of International Gatherings on Peace, Justice and Nonviolence” is being hosted by the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan in conjunction with the Organization for Nonviolence and Development.

Full program:

IPB council member and Executive Director of 4kids International, Tyson Smith Berry Jr., will be hosting IPB Day at the conference. The program is taking place on November 8, at 3-5pm CAT (2-4pm CET) under the title “Climate Change & Common Security: challenges and solutions in Africa and the world at large.”

To learn more about IPB Day, click here!

Live from COP27: Climate Change, Militarism, and Justice

The Conference of the Parties (COP27), taking place from 6-18 November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, intends to bring nations together in a new era of implementation by turning their commitments under the Paris Agreement into action. In the midst of the discussions to happen, how can climate change, militarism, and justice be approached to build an environment of peace?

Join us live from COP27:

Monday, 7 November | 12.00 CET

What to expect from cop27: How is Militarism (not) Addressed? 

Join the International Peace Bureau and CODEPINK as Nancy Mancias gives us the first impressions on the ground in Sharm El-Sheikh at the start of COP27. The discussion will include what is expected to take place in the first week, the atmosphere of a COP in the context of a militarized police state, and the overlap of peace and climate.

Registration: bit.ly/COP27LIVE

Wednesday, 9 November | 16.00 CET/10.00 EST

COP27 Finance Day: Cut Military Spending for Climate Finance

Join IPB and WILPF for a conversation led by Tamara Lorincz, who will provide us insights into what activists are doing in Sharm El-Sheikh to push for reductions in military spending as a tool to support the climate transition and to provide funding for loss and damage resulting from climate change. We will discuss the open letters to the UNFCC and Green Climate Fund, the controversial F-35 carbon impact, and how these ideas are being brought forward at COP27.

Registration: https://bit.ly/COP27LIVE3

Saturday, 12 November | 17.00 CET/11.00 EST

Week 1 Wrap-Up: What have we learned? What to expect in week 2?

Join the International Peace Bureau and CODEPINK as Nancy Mancias shares her experiences from the first week of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, including the range of civil society activities in the Green Zone, established connections between peace and climate, and what to expect for the second week.

Registration: bit.ly/COP27LIVE2

Tuesday, 15 November | 13.00 CET

Emissions and Spending – A Report from the Blue Zone

Join IPB and Tipping Point North South for a conversation led by Deborah Burton, who will share the results of her organization’s official COP side event, which includes the launching of a methodology around counting of military emissions. We will also discuss a newly-released briefing on military spending and explore the COP’s Blue Zone.

Registration: https://bit.ly/COP27LIVE4

Thursday, 17 November | 19.00 CET/13.00 EST

No War, No Warming: Demilitarization and Climate Justice

Join IPB and Ramon Mejia of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance for a conversation about their groundbreaking events “No War, No Warming” in the Blue Zone of COP27 and further activities in Sharm El-Sheikh to fight for climate justice and peace.

Registration: https://bit.ly/COP27LIVE5

Geneva Peace Week 2022

Join us in celebration of Geneva Peace Week with a video made by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in partnership with IPB and the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS), titled “Yes, peace is possible: Perspectives on global & local applications of Common Security & Human Security.”

Link to video here.

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“Yes, peace is possible: Perspectives on global & local applications of Common Security & Human Security”

This project is the product of a collaboration between the International Peace Bureau (IPB), the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU), and the World Academy of Arts and Science (WAAS). This video gathers various observations of the current state of affairs on the international scene, the shortcomings of peace processes and the flaws of the overall peace-building system. The world is at a point where the traditional and military understandings of security are coming to an impasse and the status quo must be challenged for its shortcomings. We interviewed experts, activists, members of international organizations, and parliamentarians and gathered their insights to paint a picture of the concrete solutions that are at the disposal of decision- makers around the world.

What we offer here are insights in the concepts and applications of Human Security and Common Security, in the hope that decision-makers around the world will see them as two useful lenses to recent decisions around the needs of the people and anchor the resolution of conflicts in dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. For us to move beyond securitization, we must learn from the mistakes of the past and move ahead with practices grounded in an absolute compassion for the human condition and a renewed commitment to addressing global issues multilaterally.

The IPU, WAAS, and IPB will continue working with these concepts and further promote human security and common security as universally applicable tools at every level of governance. Tomorrow’s peace depends on today’s change of perspective – Human Security and Common Security are what make peace possible.

Text by IPU for Geneva Peace Week in partnership with IPB and WAAS. View full text here

Image from Geneva Peace Week Website.

60 Years of the Cuban Missile Crisis – A message by Noam Chomsky

Sixty years ago, the world experienced a direct and dangerous confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, when the two superpowers came closest to a nuclear conflict in the midst of the Cold War. The leaders from both countries engaged in a tense, 13-day political and military standoff in October 1962 over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles from U.S. shores.

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Sixty years later, the world finds itself living a confrontation that flirts and mentions the threats of nuclear armament. These past months we came close to seeing how mistakes from the past still reverberate, and that on present days we need more than ever a look back to understand the seriousness of even considering the use of such weapons.

In this message, Noam Chomsky enlightens us with his experience tracing a parallel between present struggles and the Cuban Missile Crisis, highlighting different and common characteristics, and pointing out aspects that can guide us through the resolution of such conflicts in current times.

More info:

www.ipb.org

www.cpdcs.org

An Appeal for Peace in Armenia

We Demand Peace!

We, a group of people who stand for peace, from the post-Soviet space
and its neighborhood exhausted by never-ending wars and growing
imperialist rivalry on our territories, are full of rage as we have
observed Azerbaijan’s recent large-scale attack on Armenia. This,
coupled with Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine and the renewed
military clashes in border areas between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,
raises heavy concerns regarding possible future escalations not only
in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict but all other conflicts in the
post-Soviet space.

The recent attack on Armenia has costed hundreds of lives within two
days from both sides of the conflict, caused serious destruction to
civil infrastructure in Armenia, displaced thousands, and further
widened the gap between the countries and their people. We raise our
persistent voices against the continuing warfare.

The second Karabakh war two years ago was a devastating experience,
from which the Armenian and Azerbaijani societies have not yet
recovered and remain deeply antagonized. Officials need to finally
understand that military means cannot solve the conflict but they only
deepen the divide between the two countries and cause more violence
and human suffering. We welcome the truce that halted the violence on
September 15 and demand for permanent return to the negotiation table
without any further escalations or violence.

The Azerbaijani side should realize that the “corridors” cannot be
opened, and a peace treaty cannot be achieved through military
aggression. Such prospects are unacceptable for people whose daily
lives would presumably be crossed over by these “corridors,” as they
will not let borderland populations on both sides cooperate with each
other. No one can be forced into peace. Officials in Armenia, in turn,
should recognize the damage their rigid negotiation position had done
for over 30 years, including the displacement of hundreds of thousands
of Azerbaijanis, and their refusal to compromise and settle the
conflict in a timely manner.

Negotiations “mediated” behind closed doors, that do not take into
consideration the livelihood and human needs of people affected, are
doomed to fail. The best mediators for interstate negotiations are
non-state peace-oriented/peacebuilding communities of both countries
who have a great experience of overcoming their own disputes and
facilitating dialogues between other people from their countries with
antagonistic positions.

We see the clear connection of the developments in
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and peace processes with the dynamics of
the war in Ukraine. The deadly war in Ukraine has caused great
turbulence and instabilities in the wider region, exposing the simple
truth that violence creates more violence. There is no military
solution to any conflict and human life is of absolute value. The only
priority should be nonmilitary diplomatic solutions that are always
possible regardless of whatever statesmen try to convince us. The
inability or unwillingness of states to solve the problems through
non-violent means and ensure human security can no longer be
tolerated.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we’ve lived through decades
of violence. We continue to suffer through regularly recurring warfare
on the territory of Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan,
and Kyrgyzstan. We are deeply concerned about overt attempts to reopen
the Moldovan/Transdniestrian, Georgian/Abkhaz and Georgian/Ossetian
conflicts. The confrontation between NATO and the Russian Federation
on the territory of Ukraine is playing out primarily at the expense of
lives of people in Ukraine and, increasingly, residents of Russian
regions adjacent to Ukraine. Moreover, hundreds of military men from
Ukraine and Russia are killed daily.

If we stay on the current trajectory, it is only a matter of time
until the ongoing and recurring warfare in different regions of
Eurasia will synergize with one another and with wars in other parts
of this world, turning into a bigger regional or global war and
sacrificing more and more people from numerous countries.

We cannot afford this! We do not call for peace – we demand peace! We
demand that governments commit to non-use of force, to engage in
genuine search for diplomatic solutions that prioritize human
security, and to stop interfering with, and better yet, support
people-to-people contacts and peacebuilding.

We demand that international actors involved in the official
negotiations ensure that the voices of people affected by conflict are
heard and that people-to-people negotiations and human security
considerations are at least on an equal footing with the official
negotiation process.

For more information: https://postsovietpeace.mailchimpsites.com/

To join the statement, send us your full name, country and profession
at postsovietpeace@gmail.com.




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.”