Peace education & global nuclear disarmament
Kia Ora & hello,
Today I'm not speaking on behalf of Aotearoa/New Zealand. I'm speaking on behalf of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), one of the partners of NFIP, and also from the experience of the Peace Foundation – which is one of the key peace education groups in Aotearoa and a member of the NFIP.
I'll go through some of the current international peace events and initiatives including opposition to the war against Iraq, some of what is happening at the United Nations on nuclear disarmament, and then I'll finish with peace and disarmament education initiatives internationally.
We're being prepared for Gulf War's Episode 2. There are some of the same old actors as in Gulf War One. And there are a few new actors in there also. We believe it's still preventable, even though the US says it’s inevitable. And one of the indications that the war is preventable is what has been done so far.
The US was raring to go back into war in October, but was held back by the United Nations Security Council. South Africa requested a special session of the Security Council, which was open to the media and all the countries and to Non-Governmental Organisations.
Normally the Security Council meets behind closed doors. This session brought the discussion out into the open and put pressure on the US to go along with the UN line. The US is still trying to push ahead with a war and with Security Council backing, but this will be difficult for them to do so.
Prior to the October Security Council meeting IALANA circulated papers to UN members and media at UN press conferences, outlining the illegality of the use of force. This helped pave the way for a UN resolution (1441) which, contrary to the wishes of the US, did not authorise the use of force but which established an enhanced inspection process and called on the Security Council to reconvene at the end of January to consider the UN inspectors' report and take a decision on what to do from there. So we still have an opportunity through the UN process to prevent the use of force.
Along with this have been huge anti-war protests throughout the world, particularly in the United States. Many of them you don't see in the media for some reason they are not carrying them. This is one on October 26, 400,000 people in Washington - it was a huge protest. There was another one on Saturday, which was in the tens of thousands, in Washington, and also in other centres around the world - including Tokyo and Wellington, and various other ones.
These show some of the people, the protests, Susan Sarandon, a film actress. As well as that there are a number of people who are going into Iraq as part of the Iraq Peace Team to place themselves between the forces, between the US and Iraq and say “No war. Some people call them human shields. They are voluntary ones though. They're not there put up by someone else to protect themselves. These are volunteers going in with a non-violence approach.
There have been numerous statements being made around the world. One of the ones I will just draw attention to is Abolition 2000, because the issue of going to war with Iraq is to get rid of their weapons of mass destruction, and Abolition 2000, an international network for the elimination of nuclear weapons, we say that you don't need to go to war to eliminate weapons - there are other ways of doing that. And NFIP is a member of Abolition 2000.
And some of the other projects we've been looking at, we'll be working on in collaboration. So some of the other things that have been happening – at the United Nations General Assembly they have a General Assembly session once a year, from September to December. Some of the key issues at the last General Assembly included the issue of the use of force against Iraq, as well as implementation of disarmament treaties, prevention of an arms race in outer space, implementation of the 1996 World Court Case on nuclear weapons, nuclear weapon free zones, and the UN study on disarmament and non-proliferation education.
The prevention of an arms race in outer space – one of the biggest programmes now being developed by the US Administration is missile defence. It's supposed to be to protect the United States from attack from various possible rogue states or terrorists. But, as you see here, the missile defence system wouldn't actually protect the United States against the sort of threats which are emerging. It wasn't designed, for example, to prevent aeroplanes crashing into the World Trade Centre or terrorist use of weapons, so it's a weapons system that doesn't really suit the threat that it's put up for.
The reason Ballistic Missile defense doesn't suit the threats it purports to prevent is that these are not the real reason for it – that’s only the publicly given reason. The real reason is that it’s part of US attempts to move their war/fighting capacity into space in order to dominate space. They see space as the new frontier. Just as the oceans were the frontier in the 19th Century, intelligence was sort of a frontier in the 20th Century, the 21st Century is space.
This comes from the United States Space Command vision statement, called Vision 2020. And these are the weapons' systems that are developing. So you see up on the right, a space operations vehicle, which would be used to shoot down targets from space. Generally, they will be targeting satellites in space – to shoot down satellites. We've got space-based laser, which could hit a target anywhere in the world within minutes, and this is a very aggressivesystem. This is part of the planning for the ballistic missile system, which could be used to attack targets anywhere. The other systems are communications, to support these weapons systems.
So this is what the US is now developing, because they see space as the way of dominating the world. There is a global network which has grown up to oppose the weapons and nuclear power in space - it's called the global network against weapons and nuclear power in space. There's a website – www.space4peace.org – they’ve got lots of great information and their annual conference is going to be in Melbourne, Australia, in May this year.
A little bit about nuclear free zones:
In Aotearoa. nuclear ships and submarines used to come into our ports. In the 1980s we had a successful campaign to prohibit nuclear weapons from our ports - we're now a nuclear weapon free zone. There are now also a number of regional nuclear weapon free zones – South Pacific, Latin America, Africa, South East Asia, Antarctica, the Seabed, and outer space.
One of the problems with the regional nuclear weapon free zone is that they don't yet prohibit the transit of nuclear weapons through those zones - they just prohibit the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territories within the zones. So there are efforts to strengthen the zones, and I'll come to those in a moment.
But one thing that I think which is good news is that the last remaining countries have ratified the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone. Tonga just ratified it last year - and in the Latin America Nuclear Free Zone, the final country has now ratified it - Cuba. So those two countries can be acknowledged for finally ratifying the treaties - making these two zones in effect for all the countries in the region. The African one isn’t in operation yet, as there are still a number of ratifications to go.
With regards to strengthening nuclear weapon free zones – there are a number of initiatives. I’m just going to mention three of them.
Internationally, there’s a new resolution calling for a southern hemisphere and adjacent areas nuclear weapon free zone, which is a way of developing cooperation between the different zones, so they can learn from each other. Some zones have aspects that others will be able to learn from or emulate, for example, the Southeast Asian Nuclear Free Zone prohibits the threat or use of nuclear weapons within the zone or into the zone. That could be something the other zones would like to adopt as a very useful next step to strengthening their own zones. They are also planning to have a declaration of intent from all of the zones and New Zealand and the Brazilian Governments are working on this. Mexico has called for a meeting of States Parties.
In addition, there’s a Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone that’s been negotiated, but hasn’t been signed yet.
World Court project
Pacific states, and the NFIP, were very much involved in the international campaign to take the issue of nuclear weapons to the International Court of Justice in 1995. I would like to recognise Hilda Lini, who was instrumental in getting the case to the World Court. The decision from the court was that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be illegal and it would exist under obligation to negotiate for complete nuclear disarmament.
We can’t really expect that, as a result of the Court’s decision, the UN Security Council would go around arresting the leaders of the nuclear weapons countries.
However citizens have been using the court case to do citizens’ weapons inspections of nuclear facilities and direct disarmament actions, where protestors enter a nuclear weapons facility and symbolically ‘disarm’ a weapons system. In one action against Trident nuclear submarines in Scotland, the protestors were acquited when the judge said that, according to the decision from the International Court of Justice, the Trident nuclear weapons system is illegal, and that protestors therefore had a right to conduct symbolic disarmament actions if other lawful methods had failed.
There’s also a United Nations General Assembly resolution following up from the World Court case calling for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. Recently the UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala, has recommended that Parliamentarians join the Parliamentary Network for Nuclear Disarmament in order to give effect to the opinion and international disarmament obligations (www.pnnd.org).
A UN study of disarmament and non-proliferation education has just been completed. It calls for disarmament and non-proliferation education throughout society, and was adopted by consensus and the United Nations, that’s all countries in the UN, have accepted it and it calls for a report date. So all countries are supposed to report back on what they’re doing to implement that study
Short history of peace education in Aotearoa - a pakeha perspective
1860 – 1880: Parihaka community, led by Prophet Te Whiti, taught and demonstrated use of non-violence as alternative to wars against oppression
1920s – 1930s: Secondary schools teach about League of Nations
1975: Peace Foundation established (www.peace.net.nz)
1978: UN Special Session on Disarmament recommends peace education at all levels of society
1980’s Establishment of Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa
1984: Mobile Peace Van launched by Minister of Education
1987: Peace Studies Guidelines finalised by Department of Education
1987: Peace and Disarmament Education Trust established
1992: Cool Schools Peer Mediation program launched – now in more than 300 schools
Peace Education since 2000
UN Decade of Non-violence for Children – New Zealand UNESCO Commission
Schools Peace Week launched – Aug 6 - 10
Prime Minister endorses Global Campaign for Peace Education (www.haguepeace.org)
Ministry of Education website includes peace and disarmament education units online (www.tki.org.nz)
With regard to peace education in Aotearoa/New Zealand, I don’t have time to go through the history of peace education, but just a few of the recent things – we’ve got a school’s Peace Week now that has been endorsed by the government. The Prime Minister’s also endorsed the global campaign for peace education, and there’s the website if you want information, and our Ministry of Education now includes peace and disarmament education news online, which means they are available to teachers anywhere and we help write those units.
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa
(Thank you very much)