Friday, April 24, 2015 INTERNATIONAL

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Need for Tamil contribution to national change

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The inability of the government to force through its decisions, and the appearance of opposition forces supportive of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa gaining ground, has generated concerns about the government’s longer term stability.  The defeat of the government’s money bill in Parliament has highlighted the structural weakness of the government.  The difficulty that the government has been experiencing in fulfilling its main election promises, catching the corrupt and passing the 19th Amendment, has eroded public confidence in the government’s strength. Currently the SLFP has a majority in Parliament with 126 seats while the UNP plays the role of a ‘minority government’ with 41 Parliamentary seats from a total of 225 seats. Without the assistance of the SLFP, the government is unable to obtain even a simple majority of votes to implement its plans. If the opposition parliamentarians could have their way it would be former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who would be the Prime Minister. 
The anxiety about the government’s stability is especially articulated in the ethnic minority-dominated North and East. Whether in Jaffna, Mannar or Batticaloa the question that people worry about is whether former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is about to stage a comeback.  Those are the parts of the country that delivered the biggest majorities to President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential elections held four months ago.  The Tamil voters of the North and East in particular had to contend with boycott calls from within the Tamil polity itself.  They also had to overcome the apprehension that the incumbent government would take some action that would prevent them from expressing their will at those elections.   But the voters there were prepared to take risks in voting against the incumbent government because they strongly desired change. 
Those from the Tamil polity who wanted the Rajapaksa government to continue and therefore called for a Tamil boycott of the elections were basing their advocacy on a certain logic.  They could see the Rajapaksa government was antagonising the international community and wanted this to continue till a point was reached when the international community directly intervened against the Sri Lankan government.  This logic is in accordance with a belief in sections of the Tamil polity that nothing positive can be expected from the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan polity with regard to their grievances and aspirations.  Therefore, they look towards the international community and to international intervention as their only hope of getting what they want.

Rejected boycott
The large voter turnout in the North and East at the presidential election, however, showed that the Tamil voter did not accept the boycott argument.  They had already seen the devastating impact of an earlier Tamil boycott that took place in 2005.  The LTTE imposed the boycott at the point of the gun, reduced the Tamil vote that would have gone to Ranil Wickremesinghe and effectively assisted Mahinda Rajapaksa to become the president, a position of concentrated power he held for ten years until his election defeat. Like the present day promoters of a Tamil boycott, the LTTE too thought that the international community would support them against the nationalism of President Rajapaksa. The reality was different and the Tamil population on the ground was at the receiving end.
Hardly anyone in the Tamil polity was willing or able to oppose the LTTE at that time, when they were at the peak of their power and arrogance, shooting dead those who differed from them.  Many democratic Tamil leaders lost their lives for being traitors according to the LTTE.  One of the few Tamil leaders to take a different posture publicly was the Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph, who together with his fellow Tamil Bishop of Jaffna, Thomas Savundranayagam, opposed the LTTE’s boycott.  The moral authority and courage of the two bishops was not sufficient to overcome the fear psychosis that gripped the Tamil community at the 2005 presidential elections in the face of the LTTE’s military power and the propaganda of Tamil nationalists both locally and living abroad.
During the run-up to the presidential elections  of 2015, when the call of a Tamil boycott once again reared its head, Bishop Rayappu Joseph stepped forward a second time to oppose the boycott call.  He urged the Tamil people that the way forward was by participating in the democratic process and being part of the process of change that they wanted.  This time around, with no LTTE guns to back up the boycott call, the Tamil people rejected the siren call to remain separate and uninvolved in the electoral process.  Instead they heeded the call of democracy and, together with their Sinhalese and Muslim co-voters, participated in bringing about the change they wanted.

Bridging role
The anxiety that exists in the North and East of the country today is about a possibility of the return of the old order, in which the ethnic minorities are mistrusted and mistreated and ethnic majority nationalism prevails.  When Tamil political leaders make extremist and Tamil nationalist statements they will only give a boost to those who promote extremist nationalism on all sides.  Instead, the Tamil leadership needs to reassure the Tamil people and give them, and the rest of the country, the message that they wish to participate in the process of bringing constructive change in the country together, and not separately with the international community.  The attempt of sections of the Tamil polity to utilise the international community to achieve their ends increases Sinhalese apprehensions, is counterproductive and can bring about the very situation that the Tamil community fears.
There is a need for the Tamil polity to convey to the people in the rest of the country their needs, fears and aspirations.  When I met him recently Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph said that it was his intention to engage in this vocation and that he was gathering a team for this purpose.  At the same time it is important that the Tamil polity should learn about the needs, fears and aspirations of the others who live in Sri Lanka.  The Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims all need to get to know each other through dialogue and communication.  The government appears determined to work with South Africa on the issue of dealing with the past. It has promised that it will establish a domestic mechanism that will meet international standards. In South Africa, there were many who gave leadership to this dialogue, but the person who gave the symbolic leadership due to his moral authority was Bishop Desmond Tutu who was appointed Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  In African and Asian societies religious clergy continue to enjoy a great deal of respect, and are also close to the people.
In Sri Lanka, one of those who could be a leader in this dialogue of truth and reconciliation is Bishop Rayappu Joseph.  A week ago he celebrated his 75th birthday in Mannar at an event that was attended by the Chief Minister of the North, C V Wigneswaran who gave recognition to the important role that the Bishop has played in the life of the Northern Tamil community.  He stood in opposition to violence in all its forms and was always for a negotiated political solution.  He needs to be recognised for his contribution to supporting democratic institutions when they were under threat.  Catholic bishops are required to retire at the age of 75 though there is provision for extension of service.  At a time when Sri Lanka is turning the corner and democratic politics that respects human rights is on the ascendant, it is important that a Tamil religious leader of Bishop Joseph’s calibre should stay on in service as an educator and help to bridge the communal divide by getting us to know each other better.

Comment

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The inability of the government to force through its decisions, and the appearance of opposition forces supportive of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa gaining ground, has generated concerns about the government’s longer term stability.  The defeat of the government’s money bill in Parliament has highlighted the structural weakness of the government.  The difficulty that the government has been experiencing in fulfilling its main election promises, catching the corrupt and passing the 19th Amendment, has eroded public confidence in the government’s strength. Currently the SLFP has a majority in Parliament with 126 seats while the UNP plays the role of a ‘minority government’ with 41 Parliamentary seats from a total of 225 seats. Without the assistance of the SLFP, the government is unable to obtain even a simple majority of votes to implement its plans. If the opposition parliamentarians could have their way it would be former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who would be the Prime Minister. 
The anxiety about the government’s stability is especially articulated in the ethnic minority-dominated North and East. Whether in Jaffna, Mannar or Batticaloa the question that people worry about is whether former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is about to stage a comeback.  Those are the parts of the country that delivered the biggest majorities to President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential elections held four months ago.  The Tamil voters of the North and East in particular had to contend with boycott calls from within the Tamil polity itself.  They also had to overcome the apprehension that the incumbent government would take some action that would prevent them from expressing their will at those elections.   But the voters there were prepared to take risks in voting against the incumbent government because they strongly desired change. 
Those from the Tamil polity who wanted the Rajapaksa government to continue and therefore called for a Tamil boycott of the elections were basing their advocacy on a certain logic.  They could see the Rajapaksa government was antagonising the international community and wanted this to continue till a point was reached when the international community directly intervened against the Sri Lankan government.  This logic is in accordance with a belief in sections of the Tamil polity that nothing positive can be expected from the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan polity with regard to their grievances and aspirations.  Therefore, they look towards the international community and to international intervention as their only hope of getting what they want.

Rejected boycott
The large voter turnout in the North and East at the presidential election, however, showed that the Tamil voter did not accept the boycott argument.  They had already seen the devastating impact of an earlier Tamil boycott that took place in 2005.  The LTTE imposed the boycott at the point of the gun, reduced the Tamil vote that would have gone to Ranil Wickremesinghe and effectively assisted Mahinda Rajapaksa to become the president, a position of concentrated power he held for ten years until his election defeat. Like the present day promoters of a Tamil boycott, the LTTE too thought that the international community would support them against the nationalism of President Rajapaksa. The reality was different and the Tamil population on the ground was at the receiving end.
Hardly anyone in the Tamil polity was willing or able to oppose the LTTE at that time, when they were at the peak of their power and arrogance, shooting dead those who differed from them.  Many democratic Tamil leaders lost their lives for being traitors according to the LTTE.  One of the few Tamil leaders to take a different posture publicly was the Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph, who together with his fellow Tamil Bishop of Jaffna, Thomas Savundranayagam, opposed the LTTE’s boycott.  The moral authority and courage of the two bishops was not sufficient to overcome the fear psychosis that gripped the Tamil community at the 2005 presidential elections in the face of the LTTE’s military power and the propaganda of Tamil nationalists both locally and living abroad.
During the run-up to the presidential elections  of 2015, when the call of a Tamil boycott once again reared its head, Bishop Rayappu Joseph stepped forward a second time to oppose the boycott call.  He urged the Tamil people that the way forward was by participating in the democratic process and being part of the process of change that they wanted.  This time around, with no LTTE guns to back up the boycott call, the Tamil people rejected the siren call to remain separate and uninvolved in the electoral process.  Instead they heeded the call of democracy and, together with their Sinhalese and Muslim co-voters, participated in bringing about the change they wanted.

Bridging role
The anxiety that exists in the North and East of the country today is about a possibility of the return of the old order, in which the ethnic minorities are mistrusted and mistreated and ethnic majority nationalism prevails.  When Tamil political leaders make extremist and Tamil nationalist statements they will only give a boost to those who promote extremist nationalism on all sides.  Instead, the Tamil leadership needs to reassure the Tamil people and give them, and the rest of the country, the message that they wish to participate in the process of bringing constructive change in the country together, and not separately with the international community.  The attempt of sections of the Tamil polity to utilise the international community to achieve their ends increases Sinhalese apprehensions, is counterproductive and can bring about the very situation that the Tamil community fears.
There is a need for the Tamil polity to convey to the people in the rest of the country their needs, fears and aspirations.  When I met him recently Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph said that it was his intention to engage in this vocation and that he was gathering a team for this purpose.  At the same time it is important that the Tamil polity should learn about the needs, fears and aspirations of the others who live in Sri Lanka.  The Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims all need to get to know each other through dialogue and communication.  The government appears determined to work with South Africa on the issue of dealing with the past. It has promised that it will establish a domestic mechanism that will meet international standards. In South Africa, there were many who gave leadership to this dialogue, but the person who gave the symbolic leadership due to his moral authority was Bishop Desmond Tutu who was appointed Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  In African and Asian societies religious clergy continue to enjoy a great deal of respect, and are also close to the people.
In Sri Lanka, one of those who could be a leader in this dialogue of truth and reconciliation is Bishop Rayappu Joseph.  A week ago he celebrated his 75th birthday in Mannar at an event that was attended by the Chief Minister of the North, C V Wigneswaran who gave recognition to the important role that the Bishop has played in the life of the Northern Tamil community.  He stood in opposition to violence in all its forms and was always for a negotiated political solution.  He needs to be recognised for his contribution to supporting democratic institutions when they were under threat.  Catholic bishops are required to retire at the age of 75 though there is provision for extension of service.  At a time when Sri Lanka is turning the corner and democratic politics that respects human rights is on the ascendant, it is important that a Tamil religious leader of Bishop Joseph’s calibre should stay on in service as an educator and help to bridge the communal divide by getting us to know each other better.


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 ISLAMABAD DIARY

Reham’s concern for street children

Jonaid Iqbal

Reham Khan fancies Khyber Pakhtun children wearing shoes.

Mrs Reham Khan, Imran Khan’s spouse, is stepping in the shoes of Khan‘s  former wife, Jemima (now Jemima Marcella Goldsmith, sinc Oct. 2014).
In 1996 Jemima invited to Lahore, the late Princess Diana, who visited Shaukat Memorial Cancer Hospital, resulting in a huge publicity capital for Khan as well as launching this hospital in the international charity donor circles.
Again, in 2012, Jemima assisted Khan to film anti-drone protest rally that reached D.I. Khan, instead of promised Waziristan. These earlier efforts were for charity and political v?ntures.
This time round in Karachi last week, Reham Khan took hold of social proj?cts that lands right into the breasts of local population: praising her husband as the most valuable jewel fit for spouses to wear with pride – a message of good health for sustainable marriage.
This week Mrs. Khan took over another assignment as Ambassador for Street Children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (old NWFP) her husband’s political hinterland.
Speaking at an event held in the Chief Minister’s House, Peshawar, she wanted every man and women to spare a shoe for each child they see going about with naked feet on the street of their village or town. The people should treat naked footed children as their own childrn. She said that street children should be considered ‘state children’—-this is the responsibility of the government to protect them.
For this purpose the KP government has promised to set up for her an academy for such children to impart them regular technical education but she has asked for a survey to be undertaken for determining the number of street children in  Abbotabad, Mardan and Peshawar.  According to newspaper reports KP government has Rs. 49 billion development fünd, unutilised in its kitty. If Mrs Reham Khan pursues her case well she may get hold of at least Rs one billion for the proposed academy promis?d to her.
For the lack of survey one is not sure how many street children are languishing in KP province. However, a few year old national survey, reports 1.5 million street children in the country who are found begging and are unable to get aid. This index may not be up to date in the context of population of say, Karachi, with its 20 million populations. It may be safe to assume that in Karachi alone we might find one million stre?t children, many of them run away from home or forced t leave their home after going through violence.  Street children are also in abandon in workplaces like automobile workshops, who may be vulnerable to abuse by mafias, and persuaded to children murder. In daily mirror one read a letter from one serial killer, imprisoned in Lahore jail, who confessed to the murder of 100 street children.
Since PTI is a national party, thronged by youth, one hopes that Reham Khan can persuade her financiers to include the w?lfare of all street children across the country, not merely of KP. May be she needs to prove her credential first at achieving success with street children of KP, and then she could enlarge her work territory outside KP province.
Email: spectator1pk@gmail.com

Comment

Jonaid Iqbal

Reham Khan fancies Khyber Pakhtun children wearing shoes.

Mrs Reham Khan, Imran Khan’s spouse, is stepping in the shoes of Khan‘s  former wife, Jemima (now Jemima Marcella Goldsmith, sinc Oct. 2014).
In 1996 Jemima invited to Lahore, the late Princess Diana, who visited Shaukat Memorial Cancer Hospital, resulting in a huge publicity capital for Khan as well as launching this hospital in the international charity donor circles.
Again, in 2012, Jemima assisted Khan to film anti-drone protest rally that reached D.I. Khan, instead of promised Waziristan. These earlier efforts were for charity and political v?ntures.
This time round in Karachi last week, Reham Khan took hold of social proj?cts that lands right into the breasts of local population: praising her husband as the most valuable jewel fit for spouses to wear with pride – a message of good health for sustainable marriage.
This week Mrs. Khan took over another assignment as Ambassador for Street Children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (old NWFP) her husband’s political hinterland.
Speaking at an event held in the Chief Minister’s House, Peshawar, she wanted every man and women to spare a shoe for each child they see going about with naked feet on the street of their village or town. The people should treat naked footed children as their own childrn. She said that street children should be considered ‘state children’—-this is the responsibility of the government to protect them.
For this purpose the KP government has promised to set up for her an academy for such children to impart them regular technical education but she has asked for a survey to be undertaken for determining the number of street children in  Abbotabad, Mardan and Peshawar.  According to newspaper reports KP government has Rs. 49 billion development fünd, unutilised in its kitty. If Mrs Reham Khan pursues her case well she may get hold of at least Rs one billion for the proposed academy promis?d to her.
For the lack of survey one is not sure how many street children are languishing in KP province. However, a few year old national survey, reports 1.5 million street children in the country who are found begging and are unable to get aid. This index may not be up to date in the context of population of say, Karachi, with its 20 million populations. It may be safe to assume that in Karachi alone we might find one million stre?t children, many of them run away from home or forced t leave their home after going through violence.  Street children are also in abandon in workplaces like automobile workshops, who may be vulnerable to abuse by mafias, and persuaded to children murder. In daily mirror one read a letter from one serial killer, imprisoned in Lahore jail, who confessed to the murder of 100 street children.
Since PTI is a national party, thronged by youth, one hopes that Reham Khan can persuade her financiers to include the w?lfare of all street children across the country, not merely of KP. May be she needs to prove her credential first at achieving success with street children of KP, and then she could enlarge her work territory outside KP province.
Email: spectator1pk@gmail.com


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U.N. warns of divide between nuke haves and have-nots

Thalif Deen in United Nations

Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, addresses the 2013 session of the Conference on Disarmament.

As she prepared to leave office after more than three years, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane painted a dismal picture of a conflicted world: it is “not the best of times for disarmament.”
The warning comes against the backdrop of a new Cold War on the nuclear horizon and spreading military conflicts in the politically–volatile Middle East, including in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
“The prospects for further nuclear arms reductions are dim and we may even be witnessing a roll-back of the hard-won disarmament gains of the last 25 years,” she told the Disarmament Commission recently.
In one of her final speeches before the world body, the outgoing U.N. under-secretary-general said, “I have never seen a wider divide between nuclear-haves and nuclear have-nots over the scale and pace of nuclear disarmament.”

Current impasse
Kane’s warning is a realistic assessment of the current impasse – even as bilateral nuclear arms reductions between the United States and Russia have virtually ground to a standstill, according to anti-nuclear activists.
There are signs even of reversal of gains already made, for example, with respect to the longstanding U.S.-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.
No multilateral negotiations on reduction and elimination of nuclear arsenals are in sight, and all arsenals are being modernised over the next decades.
And contrary to the promise made by the 2010 NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) Review Conference, a proposed international conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East never got off the ground.
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (LNCP), told IPS: “As the world heads into the NPT Review Conference, Apr. 27  -  May 22, is nuclear disarmament therefore doomed or at least indefinitely suspended?”
 

“The return to Cold War mindsets by the U.S. and Russia and the negative record of all the nuclear weapon states have converted the goal of a nuclear weapon free world into a mirage.”

Not necessarily, he said.
The tensions – with nuclear dimensions – arising out of the Ukraine crisis may yet spark some sober rethinking of current trends, said Burroughs, who is also director of the U.N. Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).
After all, he pointed out, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis served to stimulate subsequent agreements, among them the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco establishing the Latin American nuclear weapons free zone, the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the 1972 US-Russian strategic arms limitation agreement and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Strengthened review process
Jayantha Dhanapala, former U.N. under-secretary-general for disarmament affairs, said the “Thirteen Steps” agreed upon at the 2000 NPT Review Conference and the 64-point Action Programme, together with the agreement on the Middle East WMD Free Zone proposal and the conceptual breakthrough on recognising the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, augured well for the strengthened review process.
“And yet the report cards meticulously maintained by civil society on actual achievements, the return to Cold War mindsets by the U.S. and Russia and the negative record of all the nuclear weapon states have converted the goal of a nuclear weapon free world into a mirage,” he added.
Unless the upcoming NPT Review Conference reverses these ominous trends, the 2015 Conference is doomed to fail, imperiling the future of the NPT, Dhanapala warned.
A stocktaking exercise is relevant, he added.

Nine nuke armed states
In 1995, he said, “We had five nuclear weapon states and one outside the NPT. Today, we have nine nuclear weapon armed states – four of them outside the NPT.
“In 1970, when the NPT entered into force, we had a total of 38,153 nuclear warheads. Today, over four decades later, we have 16,300 – just 21,853 less – with over 4,000 on deployed status and the promise by the two main nuclear weapon states to reduce their deployed arsenals by 30 percent to 1550 each within seven years of the new START entering into force.”
Another NPT nuclear weapon state, the UK is on the verge of renewing its Trident nuclear weapon programme, he pointed out.

740,000 people die each year
Turning to the issue of conventional weapons, Kane said: “We are flooded daily with images of the brutal and internecine regional conflicts bedevilling the globe – conflicts fuelled by unregulated and illegal arms flows.”
It is estimated that more than 740,000 men, women, and children die each year as a result of armed violence.
“However, in the midst of these dark clouds, I have seen some genuine bright spots during my tenure as high representative,” Kane said.
The bitter conflict in Syria will not, in the words of the secretary-general, be brought to a close without an inclusive and Syrian-led political process, but Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, facilitated by the Framework for the Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons agreed upon between the Russian Federation and the United States of America, has been one positive outcome from this bloody conflict, she added.
“We have seen the complete removal of all declared chemicals from Syria and the commencement of a process to destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities.”

Disarmament malaise
Emerging from the so-called ‘disarmament malaise’, the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament, supported by a clear majority of states – as illustrated by the 155 states that supported New Zealand’s statement in the First Committee – has continued to gather momentum, Kane told delegates.
“This is not a distraction from the so-called ‘realist’ politics of nuclear disarmament. Rather, it is an approach that seeks to underscore the devastating human impact of nuclear weapons and ground them in international humanitarian law,” she said.
“This movement is supported by almost 80 percent of U.N. member states. The numbers cannot be ignored.”
One of the international community’s major achievements in the last year has been to bring the Arms Trade Treaty into force only a year and a half after it was negotiated.
This truly historic treaty will play a critical role in ensuring that all actors involved in the arms trade must be held accountable and must be expected to comply with internationally agreed standards, Kane said.
This is possible, she pointed out, by ensuring that their arms exports are not going to be used to violate arms embargoes or to fuel conflict and by exercising better control over arms and ammunition imports in order to prevent diversion or re-transfers to unauthorised users.
“To my mind, these achievements all highlight the possibility of achieving breakthroughs in disarmament and non-proliferation even in the most trying of international climates,” Kane declared.
— IPS
The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

Comment

Thalif Deen in United Nations

Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, addresses the 2013 session of the Conference on Disarmament.

As she prepared to leave office after more than three years, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane painted a dismal picture of a conflicted world: it is “not the best of times for disarmament.”
The warning comes against the backdrop of a new Cold War on the nuclear horizon and spreading military conflicts in the politically–volatile Middle East, including in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
“The prospects for further nuclear arms reductions are dim and we may even be witnessing a roll-back of the hard-won disarmament gains of the last 25 years,” she told the Disarmament Commission recently.
In one of her final speeches before the world body, the outgoing U.N. under-secretary-general said, “I have never seen a wider divide between nuclear-haves and nuclear have-nots over the scale and pace of nuclear disarmament.”

Current impasse
Kane’s warning is a realistic assessment of the current impasse – even as bilateral nuclear arms reductions between the United States and Russia have virtually ground to a standstill, according to anti-nuclear activists.
There are signs even of reversal of gains already made, for example, with respect to the longstanding U.S.-Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.
No multilateral negotiations on reduction and elimination of nuclear arsenals are in sight, and all arsenals are being modernised over the next decades.
And contrary to the promise made by the 2010 NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) Review Conference, a proposed international conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East never got off the ground.
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (LNCP), told IPS: “As the world heads into the NPT Review Conference, Apr. 27  -  May 22, is nuclear disarmament therefore doomed or at least indefinitely suspended?”
 

“The return to Cold War mindsets by the U.S. and Russia and the negative record of all the nuclear weapon states have converted the goal of a nuclear weapon free world into a mirage.”

Not necessarily, he said.
The tensions – with nuclear dimensions – arising out of the Ukraine crisis may yet spark some sober rethinking of current trends, said Burroughs, who is also director of the U.N. Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).
After all, he pointed out, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis served to stimulate subsequent agreements, among them the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco establishing the Latin American nuclear weapons free zone, the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the 1972 US-Russian strategic arms limitation agreement and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Strengthened review process
Jayantha Dhanapala, former U.N. under-secretary-general for disarmament affairs, said the “Thirteen Steps” agreed upon at the 2000 NPT Review Conference and the 64-point Action Programme, together with the agreement on the Middle East WMD Free Zone proposal and the conceptual breakthrough on recognising the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, augured well for the strengthened review process.
“And yet the report cards meticulously maintained by civil society on actual achievements, the return to Cold War mindsets by the U.S. and Russia and the negative record of all the nuclear weapon states have converted the goal of a nuclear weapon free world into a mirage,” he added.
Unless the upcoming NPT Review Conference reverses these ominous trends, the 2015 Conference is doomed to fail, imperiling the future of the NPT, Dhanapala warned.
A stocktaking exercise is relevant, he added.

Nine nuke armed states
In 1995, he said, “We had five nuclear weapon states and one outside the NPT. Today, we have nine nuclear weapon armed states – four of them outside the NPT.
“In 1970, when the NPT entered into force, we had a total of 38,153 nuclear warheads. Today, over four decades later, we have 16,300 – just 21,853 less – with over 4,000 on deployed status and the promise by the two main nuclear weapon states to reduce their deployed arsenals by 30 percent to 1550 each within seven years of the new START entering into force.”
Another NPT nuclear weapon state, the UK is on the verge of renewing its Trident nuclear weapon programme, he pointed out.

740,000 people die each year
Turning to the issue of conventional weapons, Kane said: “We are flooded daily with images of the brutal and internecine regional conflicts bedevilling the globe – conflicts fuelled by unregulated and illegal arms flows.”
It is estimated that more than 740,000 men, women, and children die each year as a result of armed violence.
“However, in the midst of these dark clouds, I have seen some genuine bright spots during my tenure as high representative,” Kane said.
The bitter conflict in Syria will not, in the words of the secretary-general, be brought to a close without an inclusive and Syrian-led political process, but Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, facilitated by the Framework for the Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons agreed upon between the Russian Federation and the United States of America, has been one positive outcome from this bloody conflict, she added.
“We have seen the complete removal of all declared chemicals from Syria and the commencement of a process to destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities.”

Disarmament malaise
Emerging from the so-called ‘disarmament malaise’, the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament, supported by a clear majority of states – as illustrated by the 155 states that supported New Zealand’s statement in the First Committee – has continued to gather momentum, Kane told delegates.
“This is not a distraction from the so-called ‘realist’ politics of nuclear disarmament. Rather, it is an approach that seeks to underscore the devastating human impact of nuclear weapons and ground them in international humanitarian law,” she said.
“This movement is supported by almost 80 percent of U.N. member states. The numbers cannot be ignored.”
One of the international community’s major achievements in the last year has been to bring the Arms Trade Treaty into force only a year and a half after it was negotiated.
This truly historic treaty will play a critical role in ensuring that all actors involved in the arms trade must be held accountable and must be expected to comply with internationally agreed standards, Kane said.
This is possible, she pointed out, by ensuring that their arms exports are not going to be used to violate arms embargoes or to fuel conflict and by exercising better control over arms and ammunition imports in order to prevent diversion or re-transfers to unauthorised users.
“To my mind, these achievements all highlight the possibility of achieving breakthroughs in disarmament and non-proliferation even in the most trying of international climates,” Kane declared.
— IPS
The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com


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NAGORNO-KARABAKH, ROHINGYA PEOPLE, ETC. Abridged text of other issues of concern to OIC H.E. Iyad Ameen Madani
PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE NEXT DECADE Draft tabled by OIC Experts Group
 OIC Diary, March 2015 February Assessment of OIC Islamophobia Observatory Increase of hostility in the US and decline in Europe
OIC Diary, March 2015 OIC Delegation in China
OIC Diary, March 2015 OIC hail Preliminary Agreement on peace and reconciliation in Mali
OIC Diary, March 2015 OIC advocacy at the United Nations, in Geneva
 OIC Diary, March 2015 High-level Segment of the UN Human Rights Council, 28th Session OIC Secretary General’s address
OIC Diary, March 2015 Senior Officials’ Meeting, Preparatory to the Tenth Session of COMIAC
 OIC Diary, March 2015 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY IPHRC calls upon all stakeholders to translate women empowerment goals into reality
 OIC Diary, March 2015 Yemeni president’s call for national dialogue in Riyadh
 OIC Diary, March 2015 Terrorist Attacks in Mali Condemned
 OIC Diary, March 2015 President Museveni receives OIC Secretary General
 OIC Diary, March 2015 OIC reservations about Sweden’s foreign minister remarks
 OIC Diary, March 2015 Ambassador of South Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia visits OIC
OIC Diary, March 2015 Deputy Chairman of the council of the Russian Federation visits OIC
 OIC Diary, March 2015 Draft Programme of Action of OIC for the next decade tabled
OIC Diary, March 2015 Terrorist Attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis condemned
 OIC Diary, March 2015 CAUTION AGAINST YEMEN SLIDING INTO CIVIL WAR OIC calls for resumption of national dialogue
 OIC Diary, March 2015 22nd session of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy
 OIC Diary, March 2015 Visiting Al-Quds is Recommended (mandoob): Shar’i
 OIC Diary, March 2015 Terrorist attack on hotel in Mogadishu condemned
 OIC Diary, March 2015 OIC Humanitarian Delegation Calls for Close Cooperation in Pakistan Relief Work Two OIC housing projects for flood-affected people completed
 OIC Diary, March 2015 Arab Summit at Sharm el-Sheikh
 OIC Diary, March 2015 OIC Secretary General Congratulates Uzbek President on Re-election
OIC Diary, March 2015 President Macky Sall of Senegal receives the OIC Secretary General
OIC Diary, March 2015 38th Session of the Islamic Commission for Economic,
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