If Korea re-unites a lot of money will be lost by the US military industry. Will they let this happen? Can President Obama move on this? A call to action on this 70 years old “Forgotten War” is brought up now by an international women’s group.
International women peacemakers are planning a peace walk across the De-Militarized Zone to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country.
The year 2013 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. The temporary ceasefire has never been replaced with a peace treaty, and the 2 mile-wide and 155 mile-long demilitarized zone (DMZ) continues to divide the Korean peninsula with recurring tensions that serve as a sobering reminder of the possibility of renewed war.
Traversing the seemingly impermeable border, five New Zealanders crossed the DMZ in August 2013. They rode their motorbikes from Mt. Paekdu on the northern border with China all the way down the peninsula to Mt. Halla on the southernmost island of Jeju. This inspired me to begin imagining a women’s peace walk across the DMZ by international women peacemakers – many from countries that fought in the Korean War – to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country. After talking to one of the organizers of the August 2013 crossing, I decided to sequentially follow their blueprint and reached out first to the North Korean government
A year ago, I went on this peacebuilding mission to Pyongyang to discuss an international women’s peace walk across the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. To my relief, Pyongyang responded very favourably towards our proposal, but with a stern caveat: only if the conditions were favourable.
Today, despite New Year calls for engagement by both Korean leaders, tensions remain very high. And this month, the United States and South Korea are conducting a two-month long period of military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which the North Korean Rodong Sinmun believes are “aimed to occupy the DPRK through pre-emptive strikes.”
The conditions are not favourable, but we are still planning the women’s peace walk across the DMZ this May. We have formed an organization called Women De-Militarize the Zone, and thirty women from more than a dozen countries have signed dup to walk for peace and the reunification of Korea. They range from Nobel peace laureates to artists, academics, humanitarian aid workers, and faith leaders.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea by the United States and the former Soviet Union. For nearly seven decades, Koreans on both sides of the DMZ have long awaited a peace treaty to formally resolve the 1950-53 Korean War that only ended with a ceasefire agreement. Instead, 70 million Koreans across the peninsula, from the northern border of China down to the southern-most Jeju Island, have endured political repression and an endless arms race.
In 1945, after Japan’s defeat in WWII, the United States landed in Korea, which had been under brutal Japanese colonization for 35 years. Without the consent of Koreans, who were awaiting its liberation and sovereignty after an entire generation under Japanese occupation, the two Cold War powers – Washington and Moscow – divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel. It was supposed to be a temporary division, but instead the creation of two separate states precipitated the 1950-53 Korean War.
Despite the massive loss of human life and destruction, the Korean War has come to be known as the “forgotten war.” More bombs were dropped on Korea from 1950 to 1953 than on all of Asia and the Pacific islands during World War II, and President Truman came seriously close to deploying an atomic bomb. One year into the Korean War, US Major General Emmett O’Donnell Jr. testified before the Senate, “I would say that the entire, almost the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everything is destroyed. There is nothing standing worthy of the name . . . There [are] no more targets in Korea.” According to University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings, during the Korean War, U.S. airstrikes led to the destruction of 18 of 22 major North Korean cities. Cumings cites Hungarian journalist Tibor Meray, who recalled, “I saw destruction and horrible things committed by American forces… Everything which moved in North Korea is a military target, peasants in the field often were machine gunned by pilots, who, this was my impression, amused themselves to shoot targets which moved.”
In 1953, after nearly 4 million people were killed, mostly Korean civilians, North Korea, China and the United States, representing the United Nations Command, signed the armistice agreement with a promise within three months to sign a peace treaty. Over 60 years later, we are still waiting for a peace treaty to end war.
What has ensued instead for the past six decades is an endless arms race between North and South Korea. Whether we like it or not, the fact that the Korean War ended with a temporary cease-fire rather than a permanent peace treaty gives both Korean governments justification to invest heavily in the country’s militarization. According to the Ploughshares Fund World Nuclear Stockpile Report, North Korea possesses less than 10 nuclear weapons of the 16,300 worldwide that are predominantly held by Russia and the United States. North Korea invests approximately $8.7 billion — significantly higher than the $570 million Pyongyang claims — or one-third of its GDP in the military, according to the South Korean government-run Korea Institute of Defense Analyses. In 2013, to great surprise, Pyongyang acknowledged how the un-ended war has forced it “to divert large human and material resources to bolstering up the armed forces though they should have been directed to the economic development and improvement of people’s living standards.”
But it’s not just North Korea. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2014 Yearbook, South Korea was the world’s 10th highest military spender, with its expenditures reaching $34 billion for the year. World Bank data shows that in 2012, 13.6 percent of the central government’s expenditures in South Korea went towards defence spending. According to a North Korea expert at Seoul National University, Suh Bohyuk, in 2011, South Korea became the world’s number-two weapons importer. In September 2014, South Korea spent $7 billion for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. “The reason that we are building up our military is to counter North Korea’s attacks and provocations,” said a South Korean military official. According to political science professor Yang Seung-ham of Yonsei University, “The Park administration is rapidly purchasing many advanced weaponry for military security, which does not help in easing inter-Korea tensions.” Conservative hawks in Washington are also pushing South Korea’s militarization. According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, although Washington withdrew 11 types of nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, hawks in U.S. Congress are now advocating for the return of U.S. nukes.
North Korea’s heavy military spending isn’t just to defend against South Korea, but against the world’s most powerful military in the world: the United States, which has since it landed on Korean soil in 1945 maintained thousands of soldiers and bases throughout the southern half of the peninsula. Washington regularly conducts military exercises with Seoul, simulating the invasion of North Korea. In January, in order to promote dialogue on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang offered a moratorium on nuclear testing in exchange for the United States to postpone war game exercises with South Korea. The olive branch came a day after the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Years Day speech in which he offered to meet President Park if “the mood was right” and that the two Koreas should promote reconciliation on the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule. North Korea’s gesture to lessen tensions was rebuffed by Washington, which recently passed another round of sanctions against North Korea for its alleged hacking of the corporation, Sony.
In 2012, Washington spent $682 billion on its military, or 39 percent of the world’s total spending. While the Pentagon uses China’s military spending, which has grown annually in the double digits, to justify Washington’s Asia-Pacific Pivot, the unresolved Korean War gives regional powers such as the United States, China, and Japan justification to further militarize, including expanding missile defence systems and building new military bases, as they continually lack funds for social welfare, such as education or childcare. Last year, at a March 25 Senate Defense Committee hearing on the 2015 budget, the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK), General Curtis Scaparrotti, argued that while the 28,500 U.S. troops based in South Korea were “fully resourced,” he was concerned about the readiness of “follow-on” forces needed if fighting erupted. According to investigative journalist Tim Shorrock, during heightened tensions with Pyongyang in 2013, Washington deployed a new THAAD portable defense system to Guam and that plans are underway for a massive expansion of the U.S. missile defense system in Alaska and along the west coast as a “precautionary” measure against a possible North Korean missile strike.
Since military intervention is not an option, the Obama administration has used sanctions to pressure North Korea to de-nuclearize. Instead, North Korea has since conducted three nuclear tests, calling sanctions “an act of war”. That is because sanctions have had deleterious effects on the day-to-day lives of ordinary North Korean people. “In almost any case when there are sanctions against an entire people, the people suffer the most and the leaders suffer least,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on his last visit to North Korea.
International sanctions have made it extremely difficult for North Koreans to access basic necessities, such as food, seeds, medicine and technology. Felix Abt, a Swiss entrepreneur who has conducted business in North Korea for over a decade says that it is “the most heavily sanctioned nation in the world, and no other people have had to deal with the massive quarantines that Western and Asian powers have enclosed around its economy.”
A less obvious legacy of the Korean War is how governments use the state of war to justify repression in the name of preserving national security. Whether in Pyongyang, Seoul or Washington, the threat of war or terrorism is used to justify government repression and overreach, such as warrantless surveillance, imprisonment and torture in the name of preserving national security.
While repression in North Korea is widely known, less known is how the South Korean government uses the antiquated 1948-enacted National Security Law (NSL) to prosecute political dissidents, particularly those sympathetic towards or seeking to engage North Korea. In South Korea, the Constitutional Court recently abolished the Unified Progressive Party, a liberal opposition party, on charges of being pro-North. Amnesty International says that this case “has seriously damaged the human rights improvement of South Korean society which has struggled and fought for freedom of thoughts and conscience and freedom of expression.” And in January, the South Korean government used the NSL to deport and ban for five years Shin Eun-mi, a 54-year old Korean-American housewife who had written about her travels to North Korea, including describing North Koreans as warm-hearted and urging Korean reunification.
There is wide consensus that replacing the temporary armistice agreement with a permanent peace treaty would go a long way towards de-escalating tensions that have long plagued Korea and the region. In a 2011 paper, the U.S. Army War College warns that the only way to avert a catastrophic confrontation is to “reach agreement on ending the armistice from the Korean War” and “giv[e] a formal security guarantee to North Korea tied to nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” U.S. Ambassadors to Korea since the 1980s have argued for engagement and a formalized peace process. James Laney, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in the Clinton administration prescribed, “to remove all unnecessary obstacles to progress, is the establishment of a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since 1953. One of the things that have bedeviled all talks until now is the unresolved status of the Korean War…. Absent such a peace treaty, every dispute presents afresh the question of the other side’s legitimacy.”
Perhaps most tragic about Korea’s division is the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone that separates millions of Korean families. In April 2014, South Korean President Park said in her Dresden speech on Korean reunification that in 2013, “some 3,800 people who have yearned a lifetime just to be able to hold their sons’ and daughters’ hands — just to know whether they’re alive – passed away with their unfulfilled dreams.”
To end the state of war and help reunite families, international women peacemakers have come together to form Women De-Militarize the Zone, an organization dedicated to promoting the peaceful reunification of Korea through women’s leadership. From Northern Ireland to Liberia, we have seen how women’s participation in peace negotiations makes peace attainable, and that peace itself is inextricably linked with the advancement of women. We will work towards seeing the passage of a peace treaty to defuse dangerous tensions in Northeast Asia and de-militarizing our world. We must act now to give hope to Koreans that peace and reunification is tenable in their lifetimes and to the thousands of Korean elders that they will be able to embrace their loved ones across the DMZ before they pass away.
David Lee, CEO of Shakr Media spoke at The Korea Society on Korea and Startups.
David Lee is the founder & CEO of Shakr Media, the Seoul & SF-based startup that makes great video accessible to everyone. David has built an international development team in Seoul, while raising $2.75M in venture capital from both Korean & U.S. investors including NHN Investment and 500 Startups.
Under David’s leadership, Shakr has appeared as a presenter at Techcrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield in Beijing, and has earned top honors at beLAUNCH 2013 in Seoul and beGLOBAL 2013 in Palo Alto.
Attention to South Korea becoming the next Global Hub for Tech Startups comes from Alan McGlade of Forbes Magazine:“American business has long led the way in high tech density or the proportion of businesses that engage in activities such as Internet software and services, hardware and semiconductors. The US is fertile ground for tech start-ups with access to capital and a culture that celebrates risk taking. Other countries have made their mark on the world stage, competing to be prominent tech and innovation hubs. Israel has been lauded as a start-up nation with several hundred companies getting funded by venture capital each year. A number of these companies are now being acquired by the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google. Finland and Sweden have attracted notice by bringing us Angry Birds and Spotify among others. But a new start-up powerhouse is on the horizon – South Korea.”
Bloomberg News recently published the Bloomberg Global Innovation Index and ranked South Korea first among all nations by comparing a group of indicators such as research & development capability, productivity, tech density and patent activity. South Korea’s ranking is not a surprise. In recent decades, South Korea has transformed into an economic heavyweight, having systematically applied substantial resources to research and development. As a result, South Korea has become the world leader in patent activity, and information and communication technology. The country has the highest broadband penetration in the world at 97 percent and is a leader in broadband speed with an average peak connection of close to 50 megabits per second.
Increasingly young technologists are fueling a fledgling start-up scene that is led by mobile game developers and social media innovators. This is complemented by entrepreneurs returning from overseas with an eye on conquering the globe. These entrepreneurs are coming back with a sense of how to take on the US market, a greater willingness to assume risk, and an interest in building things that aren’t just made for Korea. This has attracted the notice of American technology companies. Google has taken an active role in nurturing South Korean companies, introducing their favorites in the US to help them build a global profile. A company called Sparklabs was formed a little over a year ago with offices in Seoul and San Francisco to incubate Korean start-ups.
It is logical for South Korea to follow this path. The country is smaller than the state of New York, is not rich in oil or other natural resources, and has limited agriculture and manufacturing capacity. Korean’s must promote technology and innovation to be competitive as a nation since it is not enough to just contend on cost or scale. While the South Korean Chaebols, or large family-controlled corporate groups, focus on exporting and manufacturing, there is a clear recognition that South Korea needs to have a more diverse economy. Thus, the tides are shifting towards supporting smaller businesses and promoting entrepreneurship.
Many of the fundamentals are already in place. Just as Samsung transformed the consumer electronics business, Korean start-ups are poised to have an explosive impact on digital media and services.
To me the most interesting thing I heard from Mr. David Lee was his description of the recent evolution of the Korean psyche – it is really based on the fact that the country developed so much in the last 20 years and the fact that the young people have taken ownership of this success. He said that “they feel they own the story and are proud of it” and that this is the secret of their success. This success is here – in he Palo Alto and New York City High Tech region and in the fact that many of these young people go now back to Korea and are ready to be creative at home.
Sounded interesting – and led me to decide the following day to go and have lunch – under the New York Restaurant Week plan – at the newest high-quality Korean Restaurant in town – the Kristabelli (near Fifth Avenue at 8 W. 36th Street). As expected – the place filled up with young Koreans.
The lower cost these two weeks was seemingly what brought in this clientele. They came not just because it was an eatery – but seemingly to enjoy their time there. It is al these little dishes and close attention to the food that stretched out my lunch for nearly two hours. The three course meal ($25)
Gujeolplan (an Emperor’s Assortment of nine different thinly sliced sauteed vegetables and beef served with blini stile small crepes, a rib eye cut small barbeque with lots of additives and some blini in a vinaigrette liquid, and a terrific ice cream bread pudding for desert – and paired with three containers of Korean wines ($15) – a rice wine infused with sweet potato vodka, a black raspberry wine and a plum flower wine. Quite interesting when one thinks that 20 years ago Korean immigrants in New York were known only as vegetable marketeers and for finger-nail cosmetic stores.
Thinking of our website and the fact that from start I had Korea as one of the promising Nations on my homepage – I feel totally justified. Further, obviously, helped by the US originally, now I think that further advancement by Korea calls for a more independent policy by South Korea.
It is obvious that all powers – China, Japan, India, the US, Russia – have no interest in the reunification of Korea – but the Koreans themselves ought to keep Germany in mind and learn from the German experience that through re-unification they have a chance to grow. This is simply a question of an internal market that makes them independent of the vagaries of a global market. Forget any kind of revenge – just work hard to supply the unending needs of a backward North Korea like Germany did for East Germany. This will then bring Korea into the front line of the emerged powers and the real competitor with China in its region.
Further – looking up the maps – North Korea borders Manchuria of China – the Jilin and Liaoning Provinces and there is an Autonomous Prefecture for Koreans at the border – Yanbian – in the Jilin Province. The kind of place that might someday lead to conflict. Also, the islands in the Yellow Sea (Korea Bay and Bohai Sea) were divided amicably between North Korea and China in 1962 as per the ethnicity of the inhabitants. This again may eventually be disputed.
Some more about the visit of UNSG Ban Ki-moon to Jerusalem, and what he learned about the Middle East from Israeli leaders on location. Will this show in the way the UN Secretariat speaks about the States of the region?
According to Al-Monitor:
“UN Leader’s Visit to Israel Shows Waning US Influence in Mideast.”
By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on August 23.
While on a visit to Israel on Aug. 15-16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held some interesting talks, receiving the red carpet treatment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who oversees the slow yet chanceless negotiations with the Palestinians.
I would like to suggest to you not to talk about the settlements, Livni told Ban. At around that time, Israel was issuing new tenders for construction in the territories, mainly in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs. Ban wanted to know why. Since your position on this issue is well-known, Livni replied, I would propose that you do not talk about it at this particular time. According to her, any statements to that effect at this juncture would only render the negotiations harder, forcing Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to say something harsh, which could perhaps then undercut the possibility of progress. Abu Mazen cannot come off as more moderate than the UN. He, too, faces an opposition.
Livni explained to Ban how sensitive the situation was, imploring him not to make the same mistake the Americans had made during US President Barack Obama’s first term. Back then, the administration put Abu Mazen on a high horse from which one cannot dismount peacefully. You can only fall off, and they left him to his own devices. Finally, the negotiations resumed, she told him, and the future of the settlements will have to be determined in the bilateral discussions. That’s why at this point it’s better to be smart than right and leave the talking to us (the recent sentences are my own interpretation.)
Livni adopted the same approach when the discussion touched on the Palestinian prisoners-murderers whom Israel had released just two days earlier. What I would like to suggest to you, she said, is not to issue a statement in support of the release. When the secretary-general wanted to know why, she explained to him that some 85% of the Israeli public was opposed to the release. If you find out what those people were convicted of, you would understand too. No other country in the world would have released such prisoners. This is an open Israeli wound. This move is hard for everyone, myself included, mainly because Israel did not get anything real in return.
In other words, Livni suggested to Ban that he let the Israelis and Palestinians run their own affairs without interfering by making unnecessary statements. When all is said and done, the peace treaties that Israel signed with the Arabs — Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians in Oslo — were always accomplished through direct negotiations between the parties without involvement, interference, pressure or threats. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made such a strategic decision and executed it, and the same is true of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The world can only stand in the way. Whenever the world meddled, wielded pressure or lectured, it all came crashing down.
Then, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn. That was interesting, too. Netanyahu is a weak prime minister, a failed manager and a controversial leader. However, when it comes to public diplomacy he is unmatched. Having studied Ban, he knew exactly how to strike a chord with him.
Netanyahu presented Ban the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel that comes across from the Palestinian curriculum which continues to call for Israel’s obliteration from the face of the earth, while describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” etc. Then it was time for [Prime Minister Netanyahu] Bibi to get to the punch line. The prime minister compared the Palestinian campaign of incitement and lies against Israel to North Korea’s unending and unbridled incitement against South Korea. Bibi had a long list of examples which left the secretary-general dumbfounded.
Then, as was to be expected, Bibi proceeded to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. He drew a similar comparison to North Korea, or, to put it more precisely, to North Korea’s nuclear project. Netanyahu masterfully delineated the similarities between Iran’s nuclear program and that of North Korea. The latter didn’t give a hoot about the world or the United States, until South Korea woke up one morning only to find out that its neighbor to the north has a nuclear bomb.
In that case, too, the world believed that diplomacy could postpone or do away with the bad news — a belief which proved to be baseless. When Netanyahu switched over to the Iranian nuclear project, he let Ban understand how dangerous Iran is to world peace — not just to Israel. He explained to the secretary-general how messianic Iran’s leadership is and how it is guided by radical religious edicts. The Iranians must not be allowed to do what the North Koreans did, Netanyahu said. Iran is a huge country with immense oil deposits and high capabilities. Such a country cannot be isolated the way the West has isolated North Korea. A nuclear Iran will exact a heavy price from the world — a price it cannot afford.
The comic relief in the meeting between Ban and Netanyahu took place when the Israeli premier started talking about “construction in the settlements.” Most of the construction takes place in Jerusalem — Israel’s capital. It is carried out in places that everyone understands will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement, Netanyahu explained. For example, we build in Gilo, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem across the Green Line, the premier explained. Then took the UN secretary-general to the window and pointed out the neighborhood. Can you possibly imagine that we won’t be able to build here, a place you can see from the prime minister’s office? Bibi asked.
Fortunately, Ban is not familiar with Jerusalem.
On the one hand, Bibi is right. The Palestinians know all too well that Gilo will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement. On the other hand, you cannot see Gilo from the prime minister’s office. What Bibi showed Ban is the Israel Museum, which is not too far from his office. But Ban is from South Korea. As far as he is concerned, the Israel Museum can represent Gilo, can’t it?
Incidentally, Ban did not hear anything substantially different from the leader of the opposition, Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich (chairwoman of the Labor party). When it comes to these issues, there is a consensus in Israel.
Later during his visit, it felt like the UN secretary-general had listened closely to what the Israeli leadership had said to him in that room. His statements sounded relatively mellifluous to Israeli ears.
I would assume that Ban is well-aware of the fact that the only capital in the Middle East where he can move about freely nowadays — without the fear of being targeted by rockets, car bombs, chemical missiles, mass demonstrations or other similar perils — is Jerusalem. He cannot do this in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli or Sanaa. Even Amman is not what it used to be. By way of comparison, Jerusalem and Ramallah are a paradise of leisure, although this is temporary, too. In the Middle East the tables can turn in a matter of a split second.
Since I last described here in Al-Monitor the relative quiet in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel was hit by rockets fired at Eilat on Aug. 13 (which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system) and at the Western Galilee on Aug. 22 (likewise intercepted). On Aug. 19, 25 Egyptian policemen were executed by armed militants in Rafah in the Sinai, a car bomb exploded in Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut on Aug. 15 and the Syrian regime killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians in a chemical attack in east Damascus on Aug. 21.
Whenever we think that the Middle East has hit rock bottom, we hear heavy pounding from below, and then it turns out that hitting rock bottom is still quite a ways away. There’s one truth, however, that’s emerging right before our eyes: The West is losing control over the events. Western deterrence is already nonexistent. The days when everybody would hold their breath waiting for the daily press briefing from the White House are long gone. US President Barack Obama has made a mockery of himself, so much so that nobody really cares about what America thinks, says or does.
This is best illustrated when drawing a comparison between the events in Cairo and Syria. The Americans had long ago set a “red line” for Syria, namely the use of chemical weapons.
However, when a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer revealed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Americans gagged, got muddled, denied and ultimately confirmed this. Preposterously enough, they announced that “there might have been a possibility” that the Syrian regime had indeed masterminded the recent chemical attack in Damascus. Great. If that’s the case, what will you do? Nothing, it seems.
I’m not calling on the Americans to act in Syria. If I were the US president, I would not intervene in Syria no matter what. Anyone in his right mind has to steer clear from that. Intervention in Syria would pay off and be deemed legitimate only if it were supported by the entire international community. Since this is not going to be the case, there’s no point in goading this or that sheriff to hold the reins in Syria. The world has to come to terms with the new reality: You cannot avert every horror across the globe. Using moral principles, it’s very hard to decide between two similar devils — such as the warring factions in Syria.
It is against this backdrop that the Western conduct in connection with Egypt is becoming more perplexing. My friends, when will it dawn on you that what the Egyptian army is trying to do is to prevent replicating the harrowing reality in Syria? The nonsense of Western democracy and values are unsuitable for societies that still enslave women, minorities and weak castes.
The Americans placed their bet on the Muslim Brotherhood two years ago and now they find it hard to accept that they bet on the wrong horse. The Egyptian public doesn’t want “the brothers” to dictate their life, laws and customs. In Egypt, there are no checks and balances as one would find in a true democracy, at least not for now. So the only way of coping with the events is to determine that having the Egyptian army take control for a transitional period and disperse the riots with force is better than the alternative.
What’s the alternative? That’s simple. The alternative is an armed gang that takes 25 plainclothes men off two minibuses, forces them to lie on the ground and shoots all of them — one by one — to death in broad daylight. This is the face of radical Islam, of which all of us — regardless of religion, sex, color, race or nationality — should be afraid of.
Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.
UPDATED: Jeremi Suri of Texas has an answer to Robert Parry – “Bomb North Korea before It’s Too Late” this may avoid having to bomb Iran later. // US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Beijing and Seoul this week-end write Washington and Tokyo.
Op-Ed Contributor of the New York Times
Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late.
By JEREMI SURI,
The UK and the US Welcome the decision taken by the United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty – 2 April 2013. With 22 countries abstaining – including China, India and Indonesia, it is quite untrue to say that it was accepted by consensus. Thanks to Matthew R. Lee for pointing this out – it takes good reporting to get facts about the UN. And What Probability For A US Senate Ratification?
Statement by UK Ambassador Joanne Adamson, Head of Delegation, to the United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty – 2 April 2013
Thank you, Mr President.
Last Thursday, we were disappointed that success was deferred. Today, we have taken a decision that will save lives. It was the right decision, and we are proud of it.
Today, I have seen statements from my Prime Minister, my Foreign Secretary, my Deputy Prime Minister, and I have been in touch with our Foreign Office Minister, Mr Alistair Burt, who has been watching these negotiations with baited breath for the last two weeks.
This is a great success for the United Nations today and we in the UK are extremely proud.
Our action today is the product of ten years of campaigning and seven years of negotiation. But now, we must look ahead, to the future generations that will have a better chance to live safe and peaceful lives if this Treaty fulfills its promise.
It is up to us to make this happen. Today, we have shown what the United Nations can achieve. We have a strong text. We made it together. But it is the global implementation of this text that will make a real difference. The United Kingdom stands ready to play its part. We will work with others to ensure this Treaty matters.
So what we have achieved today is a significant milestone on our journey to a better world. But it is just one part of the process. We cannot rest now. Today is the end of the beginning. Tomorrow we begin the practical work of changing lives and improving the future.
As we move forward we will keep together that team – the team of diplomats, of people working in civil society, of people from our industry, of our politicians, of public opinion. I pay tribute to everyone who has been involved in this long journey and my message to the conference today is let’s move forward together.
Don’t look back in anger.
Let’s take the next step.
And the US joins its voice for the regulation of passing on arms to other countries:
Mr. President, the United States is proud to have been able to co-sponsor and vote in favor of adopting the Arms Trade Treaty. The treaty is strong, balanced, effective, and implementable, and we believe it can command wide support. We join others in congratulating Ambassador Peter Woolcott for his tireless efforts in guiding the negotiation.
The treaty is the product of a long, intensive negotiation, and I know that no nation, including my own, got everything it may have sought in the final text. The result, however, is an instrument that succeeds in raising the bar on common standards for regulating international trade in conventional arms while helping to ensure that legitimate trade in such arms will not be unduly hindered.
The negotiations remained true to the original mandate for them from UN General Assembly Resolution 64/48, which called for negotiating a treaty with the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms and for the negotiations to be conducted in an open and transparent manner, on the basis of consensus. The consensus rule remains important
Mr. President, as the United States has urged from the outset, this Treaty sets a floor – not a ceiling – for responsible national policies and practices for the regulation of international trade in conventional arms. We look forward to all countries having effective national control systems and procedures to manage international conventional arms transfers, as the United States does already.
We believe that our negotiations have resulted in a treaty that provides a clear standard, in Article 6, for when a transfer of conventional arms is absolutely prohibited. This article both reflects existing international law and, in paragraph three, would extend it by establishing a specific prohibition on the transfer of conventional arms when a state party knows that the transfer will be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, or the enumerated war and other crimes. Article 7 requires a state party to conduct a national assessment of the risk that a proposed export could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, as well as acts of terrorism or transnational organized crime. Taken together, these articles provide a robust and complementary framework that will promote responsible transfer of decisions by states parties.
Thank you, Mr. President.
At UN, ATT Passes With 22 Abstentions, Woolcott Tells ICP of Speakers List
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 2 — When the Arms Trade Treaty was blocked on March 28 under the rules of consensus, the headlines read that only three countries were against it: Syria, North Korea and Iran.
But even then, in speeches like Sudan’s and Belarus’, one could hear abstentions coming.
And Tuesday in the UN General Assembly there were 23 abstentions, including the two most populous countries on Earth, China and India, and the most populous predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia.
Afterward, Inner City Press asked ATT president Peter Woolcott, after thanking him on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, about criticism of his allowing, before a promised ruling, Mexico and others to make an argument against the UN meaning of consensus.
He replied that there was speakers list that he followed. He said he personally does not favor negotiating under the rule of consensus. Other might say: it showed.
Inner City Press asked Mexico’s Luis Alfonso de Alba, who gave a thoughtful answer about “no vetoes,” that may resonate in the UN Budget Committee.
It was announced that Angola did not abstain, but voted Yes (hence, 22 abstentions, still quite populous.)
In speeches before Tuesday’s vote, as Syria’s Bashar Ja’afari spoke, US Ambassador Susan Rice was walking out. After that, a full hour into the speeches, Qatar’s delegation rolled in. They ended up abstaining. Qatar supports rebels in Syria.
Sudan on the other hand said it was abstaining, citing the failure to address the arming of “mutinous” groups, like the SPLM-North and rebels in Darfur.
Russia, which by a point of order Thursday night put an end to the Mexico-launched attempt to redefine consensus, on Tuesday morning zeroed in on what knowledge of genocide might mean, in Article 6.3. Its Ambassador Churkin said Russia would not have broken consensus on March 28, but would now abstain, as did China. It’s hard to call this consensus.
U.N. Treaty Is First Aimed at Regulating Global Arms Sales.
Published by The New York Times on-line April 2, 2013 – 107 Comments
Readers’ Comments: “There are too many in Congress who owe allegiance to the NRA and the armaments industry and not to the best interests of the U.S.” RHSchumann, Bonn
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a pioneering treaty aimed at regulating the enormous global trade in conventional weapons, for the first time linking sales to the human rights records of the buyers.
Although implementation is years away and there is no specific enforcement mechanism, proponents say the treaty would for the first time force sellers to consider how their customers will use the weapons and to make that information public.
The goal is to curb the sale of weapons that kill tens of thousands of people every year — by, for example, making it harder for Russia to argue that its arms deals with Syria are legal under international law.
The treaty, which took seven years to negotiate, reflects growing international sentiment that the multibillion-dollar weapons trade needs to be held to a moral standard.
The hope is that even nations reluctant to ratify the treaty will feel public pressure to abide by its provisions.
The treaty calls for sales to be evaluated on whether the weapons will be used to break humanitarian law, foment genocide or war crimes, abet terrorism or organized crime or slaughter women and children.
“Finally we have seen the governments of the world come together and say ‘Enough!’ ” said Anna MacDonald, the head of arms control for Oxfam International, one of the many rights groups that pushed for the treaty. “It is time to stop the poorly regulated arms trade. It is time to bring the arms trade under control.”
She pointed to the Syrian civil war, where 70,000 people have been killed, as a hypothetical example, noting that Russia argues that sales are permitted because there is no arms embargo.
“This treaty won’t solve the problems of Syria overnight, no treaty could do that, but it will help to prevent future Syrias,” Ms. MacDonald said. “It will help to reduce armed violence. It will help to reduce conflict.”
Members of the General Assembly voted 154 to 3 to approve the Arms Trade Treaty, with 23 abstentions — many from nations with dubious recent human rights records like Bahrain, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
The vote came after more than two decades of organizing. Humanitarian groups started lobbying after the 1991 Persian Gulf war to curb the trade in conventional weapons, having realized that Iraq had more weapons than France, diplomats said.
The treaty establishes an international forum of states that will review published reports of arms sales and publicly name violators. Even if the treaty will take time to become international law, its standards will be used immediately as political and moral guidelines, proponents said.
“It will help reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement after the United States, the biggest arms exporter, voted with the majority for approval.
But the abstaining countries included China and Russia, which also are leading sellers, raising concerns about how many countries will ultimately ratify the treaty. It is scheduled to go into effect after 50 nations have ratified it. Given the overwhelming vote, diplomats anticipated that it could go into effect in two to three years, relative quickly for an international treaty.
Proponents said that if enough countries ratify the treaty, it will effectively become the international norm. If major sellers like the United States and Russia choose to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world negotiates what weapons can be traded globally, they will still be affected by the outcome, activists said.
The treaty’s ratification prospects in the Senate appear bleak, at least in the short term, in part because of opposition by the gun lobby. More than 50 senators signaled months ago that they would oppose the treaty — more than enough to defeat it, since 67 senators must ratify it.
Among the opponents is Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican. In a statement last month, he said that the treaty contained “unnecessarily harsh treatment of civilian-owned small arms” and violated the right to self-defense and United States sovereignty.
In a bow to American concerns, the preamble states that it is focused on international sales, not traditional domestic use, but the National Rifle Association has vowed to fight ratification anyway.
The General Assembly vote came after efforts to achieve a consensus on the treaty among all 193 member states of the United Nations failed last week, with Iran, North Korea and Syria blocking it. The three, often ostracized, voted against the treaty again on Tuesday.
Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian envoy to the United Nations, said Russian misgivings about what he called ambiguities in the treaty, including how terms like genocide would be defined, had pushed his government to abstain. But neither Russia nor China rejected it outright.
“Having the abstentions from two major arms exporters lessens the moral weight of the treaty,” said Nic Marsh, a proponent with the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. “By abstaining they have left their options open.”
Numerous states, including Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, said they had abstained because the human rights criteria were ill defined and could be abused to create political pressure. Many who abstained said the treaty should have banned sales to all armed groups, but supporters said the guidelines did that effectively while leaving open sales to liberation movements facing abusive governments.
Supporters also said that over the long run the guidelines should work to make the criteria more standardized, rather than arbitrary, as countries agree on norms of sale in a trade estimated at $70 billion annually.
The treaty covers tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber weapons, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and launchers, small arms and light weapons. Ammunition exports are subject to the same criteria as the other war matériel. Imports are not covered.
India, a major importer, abstained because of its concerns that its existing contracts might be blocked, despite compromise language to address that.
Support was particularly strong among African countries — even if the compromise text was weaker than some had anticipated — with most governments asserting that in the long run, the treaty would curb the arms sales that have fueled many conflicts.
Even some supporters conceded that the highly complicated negotiations forced compromises that left significant loopholes. The treaty focuses on sales, for example, and not on all the ways in which conventional arms are transferred, including as gifts, loans, leases and aid.
“This is a very good framework to build on,” said Peter Woolcott, the Australian diplomat who presided over the negotiations. “But it is only a framework.”
Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York, and Jonathan Weisman from Washington.
New Japanese activism – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is in Mongolia to strengthen the ties between the two countries. It is about economic relations and energy, and also about North Korea. Then, April 8 he will host Mexico in Tokyo as part of the belated Campaign to join the Trans-Pacific Alliance.
ULAN BATOR – After meeting with Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag in Ulan Bator, Abe told a news conference the two sides will accelerate ongoing bilateral negotiations toward inking a free-trade accord. The two sides agreed to hold a third round of trade liberalization talks in the Mongolian capital from Tuesday.
“As Mongolia is rich in natural resources, Japan’s technological cooperation will lead to a win-win scenario for both countries,” Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to visit Mongolia in nearly seven years, said after the talks.
Abe also pushed the participation of Japanese companies in developing one of the largest coal deposits in the world, at the Tavan Tolgoi site in the Gobi Desert, during the talks. Japan hopes to secure cheaper supplies of natural resources abroad while its nuclear power stations remains stalled in view of the Fukushima disaster.
The suspension of atomic power plants will drive up utilities’ fuel costs for the operation of thermal power stations to a sky-high ¥3.2 trillion in fiscal 2012, which ends Sunday, far in excess of levels seen before the 2011 meltdowns crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
As well as its abundance of coal, Mongolia is also known for rich mineral resources such as gold, copper and uranium, while rare metals and rare earths deposits could also possibly be extracted.
Aside from economic issues, Tokyo also considers Mongolia an important ally from a diplomatic and security perspective since it has diplomatic relations with North Korea — unlike Japan, which has no formal ties with the communist country — and borders China to the south and Russia to the north.
On North Korea, Abe said the two countries had agreed to deal with its recent provocations to the international community in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions. Given Ulan Bator’s ties with Pyongyang, Abe was especially eager to secure its support in resolving the long-standing issue of the North’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and ’80s, government officials said.
Last November, Ulan Bator hosted the first talks between senior Japanese and North Korean officials since 2008 on the abduction issue.
Meanwhile, Japan, the largest donor to Mongolia, also intends to provide technical assistance to help the country cope with serious air pollution in the capital and assist the building of new transport infrastructure as a way of alleviating heavy traffic in and around it.
Japan was Mongolia’s fourth-largest trading partner last year, when the fast-growing country’s economy jumped 17.3 percent from a year earlier. China, Russia and the United States occupied the top three positions.
UPDATED: THIS IS NOT A JOKE – Syria, North Korea and Iran are leading the UN with Russian backing. Can the UK wrestle the UN Secretary-General to take position on an INTERNATIONAL ARMS TREATY that is opposed by those three Ingenious States?
THE UPDATE DIRECTLY FROM THE UN CORRIDORS : On the Arms Trade Treaty – So Some Try to Re-Define Consensus.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 28 — The Arms Trade Treaty talks were to have concluded this afternoon; chairman Peter Woolcott has scheduled a press stakeout at 6 pm.
But as delegates continued milling around in Conference Room 1, Inner City Press observed the UN Television stakeout being taken apart at 6:10 pm.
By 6:45 pm, Iran, North Korea and Syria had formally objected, blocking consensus.
Mexico and some others argued that the ATT could still be adopted — without a vote — since there is no definition of consensus.
But Syria cited a definition, from the World Health Organization in 1987. Russia echoed that. Iran went further, saying that those trying to change the rules should “leave the building.”
Iran had earlier spoken up with sample objections; sources told Inner City Press their main issue was the inclusion of a reference to UN Security Council Chapter 7 sanctions, which they are under.
North Korea, too, is under them. So is Sudan, but several sources told Inner City Press Sudan does not want to stand alone, or even, as a source put it “be seen as one of the rogues.”
But there are principles, and the proponents of the ATT if they wanted consensus might have paid more attention to them.
As delegates milled around on the first floor, Inner City Press nearly alone staked out the second floor protocol room NLB-2109. Iran’s Permanent Representative came out with his Syrian counter-part Bashar Ja’afari. Soon thereafter, the objections were made, then the attempts to re-define consensus. Only at the UN.
Privately a speaker said, we can’t just change the rules. Another said, the US pushed for the ATT to be under the rule of consensus, to be able to block it — then “pushed Iran to block it.”
Inner City Press asked the head of the US delegation about this; he did not disagree, including saying, it’s not a criticism. Alright then.
Update of 9:30 pm – We’d be told there would be a Woolcott stakeout, to get his side. But it’s canceled. To be fair we’ll make his argument: there was a list of speakers.
Update of 10:26 pm – after a long stand off resulting in the phrase, “there was no consensus and the draft decision was not adopted.” There’s laughter, cheering – and a cloud over the UN.
General Assembly could vote on arms treaty next week.
The United Nations was prevented today by Syria, North Korea and Iran from adopting a proposed international arms treaty.
But the U.K., on behalf of multiple countries, sent the draft treaty to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asking the General Assembly to vote quickly on it. “Most people in the world want regulation and those are the voices that need to be heard,” says Joanne Adamson, the chief U.K. delegate.
Even the United Nations Foundation (UNF) seems to have had enough of this UN. What will the US of President Obama say? Can the US oppose the Conventional Arms Control Treaty as previous US Administrations did?
UK Statement on the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty delivered by Ambassador Jo Adamson – 28 March 2013
A good strong treaty has been blocked by the DPRK, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Syria. But most people in most of the world want regulation and those other voices that need to be heard. So we have sent a text for decision by the United Nations General Assembly.
This treaty will be the first international, legally binding agreement on the transfer of small arms and light-weapons, and the seven UN categories of conventional arms.
It will have an explicit requirement for a national control system, with controls to apply to the broadest range of arms.
It will prohibit exports that will be used for genocide, crimes against humanity, or a broad range of war crimes.
It will have a mandatory requirement for arms exports – including ammunition, munitions, and military parts and components – to be assessed on the basis of criteria including peace and security, human rights, international humanitarian law, terrorism, which many had called for, and transnational organised crime.
It will require mandatory refusals for transfers that pose unacceptable risks.
It will have a requirement to take into account in export licensing decisions, the risks of serious acts of gender based violence, violence against women and children and corruption.
It will have a requirement for states to regulate arms brokering.
It will have mandatory record keeping and regular reporting on authorization.
It will have regulation, where feasible, on imports, transit and transhipment.
It will have strong provisions to prevent diversion of weapons to illicit trafficking or use. And those provisions on diversions will have been negotiated, and I use the word negotiated, in a process which you established for us, the states, to take our own responsibility and to produce by consensus within the United Nations, which we cherish go dearly, a consensus outcome. That new article which we saw in the course of this conference was negotiated following many requests from countries who said that the 26th of July text was not strong enough in this area. It was negotiated. It is in the treaty.
It contains provisions to help the treaty keep up to date with perhaps future, new types of weaponry, and to take our treaty, which we will have up to date and to make sure it is future-proofed. This will be a treaty on which we today can build. This is the sense of this room. This is why we are working right now to bring this treaty, which you gave us the opportunity to create, home. You gave us that opportunity. The overwhelming majority took that opportunity and negotiated this treaty.
I pay tribute to you. I cannot hold back my disappointment that we have been unable to take the opportunity to build on negotiations, which from my perspective, were rigorous, organised, transparent, and which involved Member States of the United Nations taking their responsibilities working on texts late into the night and producing, with your help, an excellent text.
This is success deferred. This is not failure. We will have the Arms Trade Treaty. We will go to UNGA soon. I pay huge tribute to you for your fairness, for your rigor, for demanding high standards of us. That is the kind of Arms Trade we want to have. It is the same as the way you have run this conference.
I thank you, Mr President.
UK Press Release: Foreign Secretary remains determined to secure Arms Trade Treaty
Foreign Secretary signals UK’s continued commitment to securing an Arms Trade Treaty following failure to reach consensus in the United Nations.
The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:
“I am deeply disappointed that the negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty closed today without consensus. After 7 years of intensive work, the international community had never had a better chance to agree a global, legally binding Treaty that would make the world a safer place.
“The UK has played a leading role and spared no effort to secure a Treaty which would be both strong and globally applied, based on consensus.
“We have come very close. It is disappointing that three countries blocked the historic agreement that lay within our reach.
“UK Ministers and officials in London, New York and in overseas capitals worked intensively to achieve the strongest possible outcome. I would like to thank everyone involved, including our close partners in civil society and industry, who have worked so hard together towards our common goal, and whose disappointment we share.
“This Treaty is too important for us to let it end here. The overwhelming majority of the international community want this Treaty and we are determined to take it forward.
“We will now focus our efforts on securing the adoption of the Treaty at the UN General Assembly as soon as possible. We will encourage the widest possible support for it, so that it delivers its promise of greater security, protecting human rights, challenging poverty and helping to secure sustainable development across the globe.
“When adopted, this will be the first international, legally-binding Treaty setting controls on the transfers of weapons. It will prohibit transfers that would be used for genocide or war crimes. Arms exports will be refused if they pose unacceptable risks. Strong steps will be taken to prevent weapons being diverted into the illegal market. Authorisations of exports will be reported and arms brokering regulated. It will also protect the legitimate trade in arms and promote international collaboration.
“The UK will not rest until we have secured an effective global Arms Trade Treaty.”
From the United States: Statement by Secretary Kerry on the U.S. Support for the Arms Trade Treaty 0n 3-15-13
The United States looks forward to working with our international partners at the upcoming conference from March 18-28 to reach consensus on an Arms Trade Treaty that advances global security and respects national sovereignty and the legitimate arms trade. We supported and actively participated in negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty held at the United Nations in July 2012. Those negotiations made considerable progress, but ended before a treaty could be concluded. Accordingly, the United States supported a UN General Assembly resolution December 24, 2012 to convene the conference this month to build on those efforts.
The United States is steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability. An effective treaty that recognizes that each nation must tailor and enforce its own national export and import control mechanisms can generate the participation of a broad majority of states, help stem the illicit flow of conventional arms across international borders, and have important humanitarian benefits.
The United States could only be party to an Arms Trade Treaty that addresses international transfers of conventional arms solely and does not impose any new requirements on the U.S. domestic trade in firearms or on U.S. exporters. We will not support any treaty that would be inconsistent with U.S. law and the rights of American citizens under our Constitution, including the Second Amendment.
While the international arms trade affects every country, over one hundred states today do not have a system for control of international conventional arms transfers. We support a treaty that will bring all countries closer to existing international best practices, which we already observe, while preserving national decisions to transfer conventional arms responsibly. The international conventional arms trade is, and will continue to be, a legitimate commercial activity. But responsible nations should have in place control systems that will help reduce the risk that a transfer of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including those involving terrorism, and serious human rights violations.
I wish the conference well and hope that we can reach consensus on a treaty that improves global security, advances our humanitarian goals, and enhances U.S. national security by encouraging all nations to establish meaningful systems and standards for regulating international arms transfers and ensuring respect for international law.
Statement of Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman
Arms Trade Treaty Conference
Morning Plenary Session
March 25, 2013
Thank you, Mr. President. For years now, the United States has sought to achieve an Arms Trade Treaty that is strong, meaningful, and implementable — a treaty on which the United States could join consensus, a treaty the U.S. government could sign, and ultimately recommend to our Senate for ratification. Thanks to you, Mr. President and your exceptional team, that goal is in sight and the U.S. will spare no effort to achieve it.
To give you examples of how hard we have worked with you and other delegations, let me mention Article 6, which was just mentioned by our friend from Norway. Last week, we endorsed a suggestion by Japan, which we saw as a sound basis for negotiation, and which led to a discussion among the U.S. and many others that has made real progress towards addressing an important issue. We will, of course, take this latest proposal by Norway into consideration. Article 6 and 7 together are the heart of the treaty, a barrier against the misuse of conventional arms.
We have worked toward a compromise on Article 5.2 but none has been found. In the end, we cannot accept language that is contrary to the plain meaning of the treaty.
My delegation came to this final UN conference prepared to work, as the General Assembly decided, on the basis of the July 26 text, a text that had its flaws but was the result of real, politically balanced compromise, a text that would both be meaningful and attract the widest possible consensus. At that time, 90 countries said they could accept that text. Since that time, your March 22 text is stronger, clearer, and more implementable. I would hope all those who could accept the July text could accept this stronger one.
Let me remind you that this is not an arms control treaty, not a disarmament treaty — it is a trade treaty regulating a legitimate activity. Allow me to comment on its two primary purposes. A minimum requirement for national action is to regulate, in a fashion that will curb abuses against humanity and common sense, what is, nonetheless, a very legitimate international activity: the transfer of conventional arms to enhance, rather than undermine, peace and security — this is the heart of the regulation provisions. This text contains strong language on these points that would bring the world closer to the standard of the United States and other major exporters. On the second major goal, combating diversion, we are prepared to work on meaningful language either in a separate article or in clauses throughout the text. Some diversion occurs between exporter and importer. More diversion occurs after receipt by the importer. To address all aspects of diversion, we are ready to work on meaningful language that expands international cooperation but recognize it must have language that respects domestic jurisdictions over domestic criminal activity.
Let’s be honest with each other; we are barely 48 hours away from a final text. It is much too late to try to reopen some of the hard-fought compromises that were achieved last July — or to push the treaty into something new. The U.S., like other delegations, has been constructive and leaned forward as much as we could, but trying to stretch that attitude into new topics at this point in time simply risks the rubber band snapping back and leaving us with a far less useful result than we already have seen. So I would urge my colleagues to keep their focus on the object we share: ensuring that we produce and agree on, at the end of the week, an instrument that will optimize — not maximize, but optimize — the prospects for completing the full process of making an effective Arms Trade Treaty a working and living instrument.
September 10, 2012 – TODAY’S TOP STORIES of the JAPAN TIMES online:
LATEST OP-ED STORIES:
By RALPH COSSA
The political leadership in Tokyo and Seoul apparently has never learned a cardinal rule of diplomacy: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
By PAVIN CHACHAVALPONGPUN
ASEAN has assiduously sought to assuage tensions between Japan and China by giving both more room to maneuver so that each feels less victimized.
By FRANK CHING
Although Japan and China re-established diplomatic ties 40 years ago, their territorial dispute over uninhabited islets has left them loath to celebrate.
AND FROM CHINA DAILY:
President Hu Jintao urged the Japanese government on Sunday to realize the seriousness of the tension over the Diaoyu Islands and stop “nationalization”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday dismissed any talk of a trade war with Europe over a European Commission competition investigation into state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom.
A nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East ahead of the Arabs and Iran accepting the notion that Israel is part of the region? The UN atom-games to move next year to Finland. In preparation November 21-22, 2011 the IAEA in Vienna will meet to learn why the Middle East is now different from any other part of the World.
The factors contributing to increasing interest in nuclear power have not changed told the UN General Assembly in New York Mr. Yukiya Amano, the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These include increasing global demand for energy, as well as concerns about climate change, volatile fossil fuel prices and security of energy supply.
Mr. Amano also reported on the agency’s continued safeguards activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran and Syria. He urged Iran to take steps to “establish international confidence” in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, and urged DPRK to fully comply with relevant IAEA and Security Council resolutions.
He announced that the agency will hold a forum in Vienna on 21 and 22 November to consider the relevance to the Middle East of the experience of Africa, the South Pacific, South-East Asia, Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.
A UN-sponsored conference is slated to be held next year on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. All States in the region are expected to attend the meeting, which will be hosted by Finland.
UN Dodges Press on Crackdowns in Sudan, Seeks To Cancel Noon Briefings, Spokesman Out for 40 Days?
By Matthew Russell Lee
They had no comment on crackdowns on the press in Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire, nor on protests of the UN in Nepal and even just across First Avenue by Haitians demanding reparations for the introduction of cholera.
Even why Ban gave out the post of “Commissioner-General of the UN” to Samuel Koo in South Korea did not get an answer, twenty hours after it was asked at Tuesday’s noon briefing.
Nor, despite two requests from Inner City Press, has the UN been able to provide any information about Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro’s month-long “official travel” in Tanzania.
Now comes word that Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky is taking even more time off, reportedly from now until September 17. During this unheard of absence by a lead spokesman, Nesirky’s acting deputy Farhan Haq is “canvassing” select reporters in order to say that they don’t actually want the UN to hold noon briefings, despite events ranging from Syria to Yemen to Somalia and Sudan.
Even though Haq runs “his” briefing in such a way that it takes less than ten minutes a day — by limiting the Press to three questions, most of which are not answered — even this is apparently too much, despite there being other people in the UN Office of the Spokesperson.
Forget whether or not the UN will comment on crackdowns in Cote d’Ivoire or Bahrain: as an organization that has over 100,000 armed personnel out in the field, is it too much that they should stand and take questions for ten minutes a day, five days a week?
Especially when, as of today, the UN has in place no chief of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as Alain Le Roy leaves as long ago announced, and the next Frenchman — Jerome Bonnafont, Inner City Press reported six weeks ago — is not in place, not even interviewed? We’ll see.
Update: some Missions and Permanent Representative of the UN, even among the Permanent Five members of the Security Council, somewhat surprisinly watch the UN noon briefing on UN TV, and some have expressed surprise at the length of leave and move to shut off even the short televised briefings. But are the member states being canvassed? Who is being canvassed? Watch this site.
* * *
At UN, No Answers on Migiro’s “Official Travels,” Budget Chief Leaving, Ban’s Job Gift to Koo.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 9 — With the UN’s two top officials both out of New York, their spokespeople are having trouble explaining what they are doing.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in South Korea, while Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro is listed on “official travel” from July 18 to August 16.
Yet despite two requests from Inner City Press for an explanation of this “official” travel, not a single official UN act has been described.
Nor does Ban’s spokesperson’s office, when asked, seem to know what Ban is doing in his native South Korea. On August 9, Inner City Press asked Ban’s acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about one of Ban’s actions while away:
Inner City Press: Ban Ki-moon has named Samuel Koo as the UN Commissioner-General for the Yeosu Expo. This was in the South Korean press, and I just wanted to know, what is this Commissioner-General position? Is it a paid position? What’s this all about?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: It’s not an announcement that we have made from here. We’d have to check what the report is on this particular thing. It’s certainly not an appointment that we’ve announced from here, however. Have a good afternoon, all.
But for the rest of the afternoon, and evening, no answer at all was given. The Korea Herald had reported:
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Samuel Koo, a former U.N. official and journalist, as the U.N. commissioner-general for the 2012 Yeosu Expo… In Korea, Koo has also held posts related to culture, tourism and convention, including culture ambassador for the Foreign Ministry and president of Seoul Tourism. Koo now chairs the culture and tourism committee of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding.”
So Ban gave out a grandiose-sounding UN position without his spokespeople knowing, or even bothering to look into and provide an answer on for sixteen hours and counting. Koo was also at one time a UN correspondent, seeking information not without success from the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General in the past. And now?
Meanwhile, Inner City Press has twice asked about DSG Migiro’s month-long “official travel,” first asking Ban’s lead spokesman Martin Nesirky, who said he would look into it and provide an answer, then when he didn’t, asking Haq on August 8:
Inner City Press: this was actually just kind of a follow-up. It’s something I had asked Martin last week, I don’t have an answer, so it’s not really a follow-up. It’s a reiterated question. Everyday in the Spokesperson’s Office there is a sheet saying that the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General] is on official travel, and he’d said he’d look into it. I wanted to know, what is that official travel?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: She is on home leave. She is on home leave in [the United Republic of] Tanzania, but she does have some official functions and we’ll let you know about those as they come.
But a day and a half later and counting, not a single official act has been reported. Inner City Press followed up:
Inner City Press: what’s the distinction, because I have seen sometimes things listed as leave, but this has been a full month stated as official travel. What’s the distinction?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Like I said, it is home leave, but it does include some official functions.
What are those functions? Sources tell Inner City Press that the African Group of member states at the UN is being lobbied to get Ms. Migiro a second term, like Ban got. Others say there is a European for that position.
When Ban came in, through his now long-time chief of staff he said that the expectation was that none of his officials would serve more than five years in their jobs. But many have been there longer now, with no move to replace them.
There is a near total lack of transparency: Inner City Press has twice asked when Controller Jun Yamasaki is leaving, without answer.
His job was already advertised in The Economist; another UN source tells Inner City Press Yamazaki is slated to leave on August 18, but might stay on for a month. But why won’t the Secretariat answer these things?
For the just-filed Iraq envoy post, Inner City Press reported that there were three candidates, all German. A regional Permanent Representative asked Inner City Press, “Which Germany will get it?” It’s like Ban’s UN has deemed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations a French post, with three candidates, all French. This is UN reform? Watch this site.
Before Thanksgiving, Seton Hall University of New Jersey honors UNSG Ban Ki-moon and gives him the podium to make a re-election speech. Will the US fall for it? What effect will have North Korea Shenanigans?
UNITED NATIONS, November 22, 2010, by Matthew Russell Lee — When Seton Hall hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, it told the Press to expect a “major policy address entitled, ‘Can the UN Deliver What the World Needs?’”
At a time when for example the UN is accused of playing a role in the introduction and spread of cholera in Haiti, and has killed at least one Haitian demonstrator, one expected this issue to at least be mentioned in the major policy address. But Ban’s speech, as distributed under embargo to the UN press corps, did not even mention Haiti.
Amazingly, Ban’s speech praised his and the UN’s role in Myanmar and went on that “We did the same in Darfur. For years, conflict raged… today, the mission continues to protect civilians.” This right after the slaughter at Tawila, which even Ban acknowledged raised issues about the UN peacekeepers freedom of movement and protection of civilians.
Ban did not mention Sri Lanka, a country where he has been burned in effigy and where after tens of thousands of deaths, the International Crisis Group said the UN’s inaction should be investigated.
Not a mention of the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, and the UN peacekeepers’ inaction. After each of these incidents, the UN has said it can and will do better. But this is soon forgotten, not even mentioned amid the self congratulation.
This speech is described in house as Ban’s re-election speech: “all the great things I have done” (and none of the short falls, none of the need to or commitment to reform – spin, in short.)
An Inner City Press correspondent at the speech reports on questions about the South Sudan referendum, Afghanistan and terrorism, still nothing on cholera in Haiti, mass rape in the Congo.
At Monday’s noon press briefing, Ban’s acting deputy spokesman was asked if Ban would be receiving an honorary degree, as Seton Hall itself had been announcing since last week. Haq would not confirm it. But the speech, even as embargoed, began with thanks for the award. Great Communications system in place at the UN!
The above was followed with the exchange dated November 24, 2010 – www.innercitypress.com/ban2seton112410.html
November 23, 2010, 9:56 am
A Line in the Sea Divides the Two KoreasBy ROBERT MACKEY, a New York Times blogger.
Korea Herald A screenshot from the Web site of The Korea Herald shows the location of Yeonpyeong island, in disputed waters.
Updated | 5:21 p.m. The residents of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, who rushed to air-raid shelters on Tuesday as they came under attack from North Korea, are well aware that they live on the edge of a geopolitical fault line. The island is in disputed waters claimed by both countries, just two miles from the so-called Northern Limit Line, a maritime border the North has never recognized, and only eight miles from the North Korean coast.
Last year, my colleague Martin Fackler visited Yeonpyeong and reported:
As another colleague, Choe Sang-Hun, has explained, the Northern Limit Line — known to Koreans as the N.L.L. — is a reminder that the Korean War is formally on hold, not over.
Two experts on the long-simmering border dispute, Mark Valencia and Jenny Miller Garmendia, explained on The Times Op-Ed page in 1999 that the N.L.L. is “equidistant between five islands occupied by South Korea and the North Korean coastline.” They added:
Reuters South Korean protesters expressed their support of the Northern Limit Line in 2007.
The disputed maritime border has led to several clashes between the armed forces of the two Koreas in recent years. In August, after North Korea seized a squidding boat and South Korea carried out aggressive naval exercises in the area, the North fired 100 artillery rounds into the sea near Yeonpyeong.
In March, an explosion sank the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship, in the same disputed waters. After the ship went down, killing 46 sailors, South Korea and a team on international investigators blamed a North Korean attack.
The two Korean navies also clashed over the N.L.L. in 1999, 2002 and 2009.
Before that, as Reuters reported on Tuesday, North Korea paid only fitful attention to the maritime border — not objecting at all until 1973 and then seeming to agree to recognize it in 1992.
As Mr. Valencia and Ms. Garmendia explained in their 1999 Op-Ed, the clash that year was precipitated by what seemed like unlikely cause for an international incident on a nuclear-armed peninsula: a “concentration of valuable crabs south of the N.L.L.”
Last year, Reuters reported from Yeonpyeong that local fishermen there “said they are losing out on the best crabs to hundreds of Chinese trawlers that pass through the North’s waters to fish in waters off limits to them. When tensions are low, the South’s fishermen try to push as close to the N.L.L. as possible.”
In a succinct analysis of Tuesday’s events on the BBC’s “World Update” program, Brian Myers, an American academic at Dongseo University in South Korea, argued that North Korea’s government needs to provoke military clashes of this kind: both to distract its population from its own economic failures and to bolster its claim to be defending national pride in the face of what it calls American imperialism on the peninsula. Mr. Myers said:
Earlier this year, Mr. Myers wrote, in an essay for Foreign Policy, that his study of North Korean propaganda suggested that the regime’s ideology was not really Communist, but rather, a kind of “paranoid nationalism” that is essentially “racist,” in its affirmation of Korean superiority.
A discussion of the maritime frontier of the N.L.L. in a 2007 report by North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, gives a sense of the North Korean perspective on the border and its southern neighbors. The report praises an article in another state-run publication for, “disclosing the truth behind the ‘northern limit line’ and clarifying once again the principled stand of [North Korea] on it in connection with the fact that the warlike forces of [S]outh Korea are perpetrating the intrusion into the waters of the north side in the West Sea of Korea not just as a mere provocation but are pursuing the brigandish purpose of bringing under control those waters invaded by them.”
The North Korean report called the N.L.L. “an illegal ghost line… that the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops unilaterally drew… after occupying [S]outh Korea under the helmets of the ‘U.N. forces.’” It adds that “The U.S. imperialists, utterly exhausted after sustaining an unprecedented defeat in the Korean war, ordered Clark, the then commander of the ‘U.N. forces,’ to fix the so-called ‘northern limit line.’”
As for South Korea’s government, the North Korean agency suggested, “The [S]outh Korean authorities, steeped in flunkeyism and submission to the marrow of their bones, seek to attain their political and strategic aims to put an end to [moves toward] reunification and aggravate the north-south relations in a bid to please their American master at any cost.”
China Faces a Nettlesome Neighbor in North Korea.
Interactive Feature: The North Korean Challenge.
What do you really do about the UN Circus where North Korea teaches the US about Human Rights? The Obama Administration was proud of joining the United Nations Human Rights Council and opened the way to be admonished by North Korea on Human Rights. That was foreseeable fun – unimportant what Americans think of the issues. We are told of some foreseeable events. Next there will be the Durban III hootenanny at the September 2011 in New York festivities
U.N. Circus by by Joseph Klein on Nov 8th, 2010
Once the Obama administration decided last year to join the circus known as the United Nations Human Rights Council, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. faced judgment day on its own human rights record before this dysfunctional UN body.
Our turn came on November 5, 2010. “It is an honor to be in this chamber,” said Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer to the council on the occasion of America’s examination. ”Star chamber” would be a more fitting description.
The “honor” that Brimmer was referring to was being present at the council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing. The UPR is a rotating periodic examination of all UN member states’ human rights records by the Human Rights Council. The council includes such countries as China, Cuba, Libya and Saudi Arabia. These serial human rights abusers exploit the UPR process to heap praise on each other and whitewash their own abysmal records, while scoring propaganda points against Western democracies with baseless accusations.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that monitors the Human Rights Council, captured perfectly the absurdity of America in the dock: “the U.N. system failed today by allowing non-democracies to hijack the session for political propaganda and to drum up anti-American sentiment worldwide.”
Predictably, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China, Algeria, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Libya, and other dictatorships and terrorist-sponsoring states accused America of genocide, war crimes, and systematic anti-Muslim and anti-African racism.
For example, Cuban ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez called on the U.S. to end its blockade of the island country, calling it a “crime of genocide.” In addition, Cuba condemned the U.S. for “violations against migrants and mentally ill persons” and called on America to “ensure the right to food and health” for all citizens.
Iran’s delegation demanded the U.S. “halt serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law and even told the United States it needed to “combat violence against women.” Meanwhile, Iran is preparing to execute a woman on trumped up adultery charges.
Libya complained about U.S. “racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.”
North Korea, whose people are literally starving while the regime pursues its militaristic ambitions, told the U.S. “to address inequalities in housing, employment and education.”
The Obama administration should have seen this “bash America” circus coming. Just last year, a report highly critical of the United States — prepared by the United Nations’ former special rapporteur on “contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” Dr. Doudou Diène — was submitted to the very same UN Human Rights Council that is judging the United States’ human rights record today. Diène comes from Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country and a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
In his report, which Diène wrote following his three week “fact-finding” tour in this country that included meetings with various Islamic groups, Diène concluded that “racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society.” He went on to say that the “historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life of American society” and lashed out at what he characterized as “racial profiling” against “people of Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Middle-Eastern descent.”
The current special rapporteur who replaced Diène, Githu Muigai, is not as anti-American as Diène, but has still managed to take a gratuitous swipe at the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law which, he claimed, compromises basic international human rights that migrants are entitled to.
“This is the sort of statute that opens a floodgate, equips a policeman or such other law enforcement person on the beat with such immense powers as to compromise…the very fundamental human rights that ought to be enjoyed in such an enlightened part of the world as Arizona,” Muigai told reporters at a press conference at UN headquarters last week. He contined:
It has been often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. Yet that is precisely what the Obama administration has done in submitting our country’s human rights record to the judgment of the UN Human Rights Council, knowing full well the biases that prevail there.
As former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton put it, “For the Obama administration, this is an exercise in self flagellation, which they seem to enjoy. But it doesn’t prompt equivalent candor from the real rights abusers.”
Friday October 22, 2010, at the UN they had a de-facto Korea Pageant. They looked at the G-20 meeting in Seoul, ate Korean food at the soon to-be-closed Delegate’s Dining Room, had a Korean Concert – the wags say that this was the Ban Ki-moon reelection campaign marred by North Korean behavior.
Is it a conflict of interests if the Korean UN Secretary General glows up to his eyes in Korean problems and glamor?
Our information comes from Matthew Russell Lee reporting and from widely available further sources that start asking more and more about the future of the World with a shivering nuclear Korean Peninsula. So, we cannot but contemplate again and again at how will the neighbors react to a Peninsula reunification that leaves in the Middle of the China, Russia, Japan triangle a nuclear Korea based on the present South Korea technology married to the North Korean appetite for mischief. But can North Korea stand up much longer by itself alone on chicken legs? If China moves in what will the neighbors be compelled to do? That would be one way to put an end to globalization and the World economy woes.
China can not take this easy – will it intervene? Will this bring in the US? Can the US allow itself another adventure? Will the US and China agree to keep Mr. Ban Ki-moon on so he can speak the language of North Korea? Will they trust him to be neutral? Will China risk its overseas markets?
in above context – this last Friday looked like the UN Administration circling the wagons around the Secretary-General and we find this amusing. Please see for yourselves and use the link to get more.
At UN, Korean Themes of Seoul G-20 & Ban 2d Term, DPRK Human Rights Meeting: Links to Transcripts.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, October 22, 2010. — The theme at the UN on Friday was Korea, Korea, both North and the South.
Alongside a festival of Korean food in the soon to close Delegates’ Dining Room — the shinsunro spicy seafood soup was particularly good — and a UN Day concert by a Korean symphony, South Korean UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed a closed meeting of member states about the upcoming G-20 meeting in Seoul.
Sources tell Inner City Press that statements of support for a second term for Ban are being solicited to be unveiled in Seoul at the G-20, as they were not at the General Debate last month in New York.
Across the hallway of the UN’s North Lawn Building in Conference Room 1, North Korea was the topic of a Third Committee of the GA, on human rights. Numerous western speakers urged North Korea, formally the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to allow a visit by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in that country, Marzuki Darusman.
If you got the flavor please get more of it at: