For International Day Of Peace :
I have made peace signs & doves and I am going into my community to talk to the people that live in this town about this very special day.
I plan on taking paper,scissors,markers & glue and having the people I meet draw me a "Hand for Peace".On their hand I will ask them to write about their thoughs and feelings about peace.They will decorate their hand any way they wish. My goal is to collect as many hands made by all friends & family as… Continue
Love your work your doing its very inspirational....! It makes me want to do something & I think I will I've got an idea to put a peace sign like a dove or fingers one write it on my hand & see how people react because I work at a not so peaceful place at times so I want to see what the results will be!
.The contested election in Iran highlights the need for international election monitors, and I am pushing for a UN General Assembly resolution to study the possibility of such a service (Nothing is ever done at the UN without a first "study" phase). Diplomats are now at work on the issues that will be presented when the General Assembly starts mid-September. Thus letters proposing the idea should be sent now. I propose two short letters which would be sent with my article below which sets out in more detail what such a service should be. One letter should go to the Mission of your country.. The second letter should go to the President of the General Assembly. The President must work by consensus so that he rarely takes any public initiative. However he likes to know what is going on, what new ideas may be around. Sometimes he can help informally. The President for this year is H.E. Mr Ali Abdussalam Treki, Mission of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the United Nations, 309-315 East 48th Street, New York, NY, 10017. He should be addressed as "Your Excellency"
I put below the sample letter addressed to the US Ambassador with the US Mission address. Normally, all ambassadors are addressed as "Your Excellency" with no "Dear" However US protocol uses "Dear Ambassador and the person's name". With your help, I think that the issue can come to the attention of many governments.
Best wishes, Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
H.E. Dr Susan Rice, Permanent Representative, US Mission to the UN, 799 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017-3505:
Dear Ambassador Rice:
The contested election results in Iran reflect the need to have international election monitors. The presence of such monitors encourages free and fair elections. The election monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have provided useful help in elections in States in transition toward democracy.
We believe that the United Nations should have a universal election-monitoring agency. A General Assembly resolution establishing a study of such an election monitoring service would be welcome. Therefore I am pleased to send you a recent article on the topic. We hope that the US will take a lead for such a resolution this fall. Sincerely yours (or Respectfully yours) XYZ
International Election Monitors:
Agents of Free Elections
The post-election demonstrations in Iran which have led to deaths and arrests indicate that a large number of Iranians believe that the election count has been the result of fraud. The regime had hoped to prevent a massive show of democratic stirring by a show of force and by cutting off means of communication — web sites and cellphones. However, the fact that hundreds of thousands came out on the avenues of Tehran and in less numbers in other cities indicates a failure of the repressive policies. Even if large protests do not continue, a ‘wind of change’ has blown over Iran.
The Iranian government had declined the offers of international monitoring of the elections, and thus the world community is left with only the word of the Iranian government that the election process was free and fair. The wide victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — 62.6 percent against some 34 percent for his main challenger, Mir Hussein Moussavi, goes against earlier opinion polls and an increasing popularity of Moussavi in the late stages of the election campaign. Mir Hussein Moussavi had been Prime Minister during the long and costly-in-life war with Iraq (1980-1988).
After four years of President Ahmadinejad’s weak economic policies as well as his confrontation with many other countries, many Iranians were looking for a change. For the elections, President Ahmadinejad tried to build his support in the rural areas with last moment rural development efforts which his opponents saw as transparent ‘bribes’. He had lost much support among educated Middle Class urban voters who wanted a better standard of living, employment opportunities for the young, and greater personal freedoms.
Thus, the election could have been close even if Ahmadinejad had won fairly, having the resources of the State at his control. Now, there is great scepticism concerning the outcome both in Iran and in the world community. The scepticism is so great that a promise by the Guide of the Iranian regime, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been made concerning a recount in certain contested areas. However, electoral fraud is rarely at the counting stage. One can recount a stuffed ballot box and come up with the same number of votes. This is why the whole electoral process needs to be monitored by independent election agents.
Citizens of the World have often called for international, basically UN supervision, of elections. The organization of elections remains a prerogative of the national – administrative sub-divisions of the State, and local governments. However, in cases where the election campaign can be tense and prone to violence as was the presidential election of Zimbabwe, or when there has been a past history of fraud, international, independent monitors are important agents of fair elections and help to protect human rights, to strengthen the rule of law and to ensure pluralistic democracy.
Election observation work is an important activity for the 56 member States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights housed in Warsaw, Poland. The Office for Democratic Institutions, originally called the Office for Free Elections, first played an important role in the democratic transition in post-communist countries. While its observation of elections is its most visible task, the Office also conducts a number of other useful election-related activities: reviewing electoral legislation, training observers, and publishing guidelines and handbooks about electoral issues.
The Office for Democratic Institutions is concerned with a wholistic approach to election monitoring including the following:
- Respect for basic fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of assembly, of association, and expression;
- Respect for the civil and political rights of the candidates and voters;
- Compilation of accurate voter lists;
- Equal opportunities to campaign in a free environment;
- Equitable access to the media;
- Impartial election administrative bodies;
- Unhindered access for international and domestic election observers;
- Effective representation and participation of women:
- Effective representation of national minorities;
- Access for disabled voters;
- Honest and transparent counting and tabulation of the votes;
- Effective complaints and appeals process with an independent judiciary.
The United Nations has no comparable permanent election monitoring office, but on an ad hoc basis the UN played an important monitoring role in the first multi-racial elections in South Africa, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has provided election aid and monitoring in countries such as Nepal as that country was coming out of a decade of armed violence.
The Iranian government would have been wise to request international monitoring for its presidential elections. Now it is too late. It is unlikely that a new election will be held to replace the contested one. The Iranian elections have indicated a wide current of support for change. The hesitations of the ruling circle concerning post-election manifestations have highlighted division of views within this ruling circle. The demonstrations have also indicated to the world community as a whole the need for independent election monitoring. Steps should be taken quickly for the UN to provide such services drawing on the rich experience of the OSCE.
*Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
The meeting in London on 2 April of Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev is placed under the sign of needed cooperation to deal with the world-wide financial and economic crisis. There is also a need to deal with a number of on-going tension areas such as the Russia-Georgia-Abkhazia-South Ossetia conflict where negotiations in Geneva are making slow progress. However, it is in the nuclear-weapon field where quick bilateral agreements can be reached. An agreement to reduce nuclear arsenals on both sides and to take weapons off hair-trigger alert would signify to the world that major agreements can be reached to provide common security.
There have always been at least two major aspects of nuclear issues — one is to prevent the proliferation to new states such as Iran or North Korea, the other is to reduce the number of warheads among existing nuclear-weapon states. The reduction of the number of warheads seems to be on the table for new USA-Russia negotiations. The number of 1000 each seems to be a common goal. Speedy negotiations can be encouraged by the Obama-Medvedev discussions.
The USA and Russia have reduced strategic nuclear weapons by more than two-thirds since the 1991 end of the Cold War, but neither country has begun planning for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. Much strategic thinking in both countries remains bound to the Cold War past and is at best vague on what use nuclear weapons have in the new world society. While strategic frameworks have historical, cultural and economic roots, they must also evolve to meet new realities.
A new willingness to strengthen cooperative political relationships between the USA and Russia is an essential requirement for creating an atmosphere of political confidence that will draw other nuclear-weapon states into the process of weapon reduction. There is a world-wide danger of continued reliance on nuclear weapons with outdated strategic thinking. The USA and Russia can show the way to eliminate those sources of instability that are driving other states to develop nuclear weapons. A common US-Russian commitment to work for a Nuclear-weapon Free Zone in the Middle East would be a sign of a renewed willingness to deal seriously with the security issues of the Middle East.
An easily-achieved mutual confidence-building measure would be to lower the operational status of nuclear arsenals, basically to take nuclear weapons off ‘hair trigger’ alert. Such a measure would enhance confidence and transparency. The lowering of operational readiness of nuclear-weapon systems has been urged by United Nations General Assembly resolutions starting in 2007. Such a change of status by the USA and Russia would be an important mark of respect for world opinion in the lead up to the 2010 review conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The last few years have been years of drift in US-Russian relations. A quick agreement on nuclear issues would be a sure sign of a willingness to put relations back on track.
* Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed in Resolution A/61/L22, the year 2009 as the International Year of Reconciliation “recognizing that reconciliation processes are particularly necessary and urgent in countries and regions of the world which have suffered or are suffering situations of conflict that have affected and divided societies in their various internal, national, and international facets.” The Resolution was introduced by Nicaragua’s representative who stated that “reconciliation between those estranged by conflicts was the only way to confront today’s challenges and heal wherever fraternity and justice were absent from human relations.”
Yet we need to ask how can genuine reconciliation take place between people and groups with bitterly held beliefs and a violent history? How can the needs for national healing be reconciled with the demands for justice by the victims of terrible violence?
The General Assembly resolution gives a partial answer by stressing that “dialogue among opponents from positions of respect and tolerance is an essential element of peace and reconciliation.”
For there to be a respectful dialogue among opponents, certain barriers that prevent negotiations must be dismantled as a sign of a willingness to enter into a process of negotiations. Some barriers are physical, some psychological, others ideological. These barriers must be overcome if we are to progress on the long road to reconciliation. Let us, with the New Year, start now both as individuals and as members of movements in the spirit of the historian Howard Zinn’s “People are Practical”
They want change but feel powerless, alone,
do not want to be the blade of grass that
sticks up above the others and is cut down.
They wait for a sign from someone else
who will make the first move, or the second.
And at certain times in history
there are certain intrepid people who take the risk
that if they make that first move others will follow
quickly enough to prevent their being cut down.
And if we understand this, we
might make that first move.
…And if we do act, in however small a way,
we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.
The future is an infinite succession of presents,
and to live now as we think human beings should live,
in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself
a marvellous victory.
Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens