March 2008 International Peace and Security E-News

March 2008 International Peace and Security E-News

Peace and Security




March, 2008

WILPF International Peace and Security

Working Group



Share your own news and Action suggestions!

  1. Human Rights: UN submits questions to U.S. government in response to U.S. Section shadow report on the Child Soldier Protocol. The UN questions, arising from the WILPF report, can be accessed on the CRC website. Scroll down to very bottom of the two blue charts to second U.S. flag. In fourth column (Lists of Issues and Written Replies) click on E for English (F for French, S for Spanish). Questions from 3 to 11 arise from WILPF report. Click here to access UN questions. Are other Sections using the shadow reporting process, one of the best tools we have for promoting government compliance with ratified human rights treaties? For more information on the process and three other U.S. WILPF shadow reports click here.
  2. Race Relations/Human Rights: Special to the Italian and US Sections: Read WILPF reports on UN CERD committee's examination of Italy and U.S. compliance with CERD. Have any Sections contributed shadow reports on their own government's submissions re CERD?
  3. News on UNSCR 1325 from Dutch Section. Peace Women promises a report soon on Columbian, Nepalese, Swedish and United States Sections participation in WILPF UNSCR 1325 related side events at the Commission on the Status of Women. Those who attended the CSW are invited to send reports and comments to Sam Cook by March 28.
  4. Disarmament: Costa Rican WILPF Section will work with their government to promote control of the arms trade on the UN Security Council and invite us all to join them! And they tie this effort to achieving more human rights during the 60th year celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you haven't seen the article they are sending to other members of the Security Council scroll down to Cost Rican WILPF Statement on the Arms Trade and Human Rights at the end of this e-letter. Can we campaign with our own governments to support Costa Rica's efforts? (And can Costa Rica also use their new Security Council position to promote the Model UN Nuclear Weapons Abolition Treaty that country and Malaysia have already introduced to the UN?)
  5. Disarmament: Wellington conference on banning cluster bombs declared a success. Next will be negotiation of the treaty in Dublin, May 19. Read the final declaration from Wellington. Read WILPFer Katherine Harrison's day-by-day commentary on the February meetings in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Let's make sure our own governments support the treaty. (U.S. Section, as usual, has hard work to do to prevent undermining of the treaty.)
  6. Disarmament: Download the WILPF flier on You Get What You Pay For on the devastating effect of military spending on women and our world. Also read related reports on the WILPF international Women's Day seminar in Geneva on Women, Wars, Military Spending and Prevention of Conflict. Also read the seminar statement to the Conference on Disarmament.
  7. Disarmament: Deadline for NPT Prep Com registration is March 23. Get your registration submitted before then or follow the proceedings in Geneva April 28 to May 9 in the WILPF daily News in Review. More information on these important meetings on Reaching Critical Will.
  8. Disarmament: WILPF sponsored seminar on Space Law or Space Warfare at the WILPF co-sponsored Global Network International Conference April 11-13 in Omaha, Nebraska, home of U.S. Strategic Command, will feature Rhianna Tyson and Jennifer Nordstrom, both formerly with Reaching Critical Will. US WILPF joins GN in declaring Omaha the most dangerous place on earth. Conference details here.

Costa Rican WILPF Statement

on Human Rights and the Arms Trade

Statement from Costa Rican WILPF (LIMPAL) circulated in English and Spanish to members of the UN Security Council. Contact them at

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom - Costa Rica

Human Rights and the Arms Trade

This year celebrates the 60th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to which most of the nations of the world subscribe.

Although this important document has been praised and copied throughout its history, it remains basically a piece of paper. Abuses toward humanity abound and the biggest threat to human rights, wars and threats of war, continues to be viable in the politics of most countries because governments will not give up arms as a means of controlling populations and resources, and the arms industry will not give up such a lucrative business.

There are at this minute wars in Iraq, the Middle East, Colombia, and Afghanistan, and threatening situations in the Congo, Burma and Darfur. These conflicts have gone on for years without resolving the crucial problems that created them. All have caused deaths of military and civilians, the destruction of homes, food, water supplies, the infrastructure, the environment, and have exhausted funds that are needed for maintaining a decent life, and in the end, all will be settled by negotiation. Military solutions do not solve problems. They create more.

Wars also affect neighboring countries prompting them to increase their military in their own defense as is happening in Venezuela, Turkey, Lebanon and Pakistan.

The United States led incursion to topple Saddam Hussein and find the weapons of mass destruction has led to five years of war which has killed an estimated 650,000 civilians, injured many more, forced millions to abandon their homes and even their country, and has caused threatening diseases from shortages of food, potable water and medicines, and increases of cancer, leukemia and birth defects as a result of depleted uranium used in weapons. Damage to the environment from bombing, burning, and the destruction of resources is insurmountable.

Even after truces are signed it takes years for a country to recuperate and return to a normal civil society. This is obvious here in Central America which is still trying to ‘rebuild’ twenty years after the civil wars ended.

Yet military budgets go up every year. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which monitors military spending, 2006 was a record year with $1204 billion to beef up the arms trade and provide overloaded arsenals for the nations of the world, and the biggest arms dealers of all are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council!

What about the buyers? Many are countries that have critical needs in basic services such as schools, water and electricity, or are not involved in conflicts with other countries. Some of the countries that increased their military spending, according to SIPRI are Mexico with $3.1 billion, Canada with $3,401 million, Venezuela with $1,924 million, Kenya with $315 million, Pakistan with $4,572 million, Indonesia with $3,695 million, Senegal with $145 million and Saudi Arabia with $29,032 million. And the biggest spender of all, the United States which spent $528,692 million. This year’s military budgets promise to be even higher.

Unfortunately, with all the arms trading around the world and the upgrading of weaponry, the availability of arms, new or used, for non-governmental groups, private security forces, rebel groups, narcotrafficers, terrorists and criminals is also more widespread. Anyone with dollars to spend will find a seller.

Costa Rica as a new member on the UN Security Council wants to use its position to call for disarmament, or at least, more control over the buying and selling of arms. The Arias government, recognized for its peace position, will push for a Treaty on Arms Transfers that would oblige countries to monitor arms sales and prohibit sales to countries with gross human rights abuses. The adoption of such a treaty could be a start toward international disarmament and a saner way for the world to live.

Wilpf Costa Rica

For further news check Peace Women, Reaching Critical Will and the Disarmament, Human Rights, Racial Justice and UN (Global governance) sections on the WILPF Geneva website.

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