Archive | December, 2012

Remarks from Global Action’s Director at World Order Values Reception

10 Dec

We are here to highlight and celebrate the World Order Values: Peace, Social Justice, Economic Well-Being, Ecological Balance, Positive Identity

These are not values to inspire belief so much as values to guide and inspire practice.

These values have no hierarchy, but they have witnessed shifts in urgency. When I was younger at the World Order Models Project, it was the peace values that preoccupied most of us – more specifically peace in relation to the nuclear arms race.

The priorities have shifted over the years. Our climate now poses even deadlier challenges than our arsenals.

And, as we saw recently in Guatemala and South Africa, positive identity is more and more a requirement for healthy living, as important in its own way as clean air and a reliable security system.

  • No more are people content to remain trapped in self-concepts bequeathed by their captors or those who have otherwise humiliated them.
  • No more are people willing to ‘move on’ from gross abuse without as full an accounting of what happened to them as humanly possible.
  • No more are people willing to accept promises of assistance or respect from governments or corporations or even universities at face value.

The task in this season is not only to practice these World Order Values but to practice them in the right spirit  – a spirit of kindness and hospitality and attentiveness and humility. These values and the tasks associated with them represent a calling that is both high and common. ‘Common’ because everyone can contribute. ‘High’ because they demand so much of our spirits – our souls if you will – more sometimes than we seem willing to commit.

With all of the frustration that characterizes this work at times, all the travel to meetings that don’t result in real policy movement, all the strategic discussions that go nowhere, all the applications for grants or workshop opportunities that come back rejected, we have still – each in our own way and all of us together — helped to make world order values incarnate. We don’t know yet if it will be enough to turn energies and commitments away from consumption and competition and domination. But there is more in place now to help us reach our goals – more diplomatic infrastructure, more public awareness, more treaties and resolutions, more transparency, more skill.  This should reassure us that our task is only formidable, but not impossible.

The world order values have become for us more than candy sprinkles on our ice cream, more than adornments on our holiday trees.   They are the lifeblood of our work, the standards by which we will be judged by our grandchildren — and their grandchildren as well.

And so, a toast, to those children yet to come and to those of us who believe that Peace, Social Justice, Economic Well-Being, Ecological Balance and Positive Identity represent a future that is worthy of our progeny.


–Dr. Robert Zuber

The Way Forward for the Arms Trade Treaty: UNGA First Committee Resolution

4 Dec

One of the most anticipated items on the First Committee agenda this year, the resolution entitled “The arms trade treaty” (A/C.1/67/L.11), was adopted on the whole by a vote of 157-0-18, thereby authorizing a new round of ATT negotiations for March 2013. The resolution, which was tabled by the original “co-authors” group of Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom, was co-sponsored by more than 100 delegations. As the July 2012 Diplomatic Conference ended without adoption of a consensus treaty setting common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms, the fate of renewed negotiations has rested on the formulation of a General Assembly resolution detailing a way forward. Although no delegations voted against the resolution and all have expressed some degree of support for continuing the ATT process next year, there remains contention over the status of the President’s draft treaty text from 26 July 2012 as well as the operative rules of procedure. As such, a separate vote was requested on operational paragraph (OP) 2, which describes the rules of procedure for the “final” 18–28 March 2013 Negotiating Conference as “utilizing the modalities, applied mutatis mutandis, under which the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty of 2 to 27 July 2012 operated.” The result was 153-1-18 with the delegation of Iran dissenting. Likewise, a separate vote was also conducted on OP3, which designates the President’s 26 July text as “the basis for future work on the Arms Trade Treaty.” The result of this vote was 148-1-22 with Iran again representing the lone vote against retaining the paragraph.

Many delegations chose to offer explanations of vote (EOV) on the ATT resolution. Expressions of support were widespread as the representatives of Morocco, Norway, and Nigeria called on member states to support the resolution and remain committed to the continuation of negotiations. Nevertheless, discontent over some specifics within the President’s draft text was expressed by the Nigerian delegation, which underscored the need to more adequately address diversion and ambiguities in the Treaty’s scope. In addition, the delegation of Indonesia noted its abstention to OP2 and OP3 as the draft text “does not reflect its views and those of many other member states,” in particular on the matter of territorial integrity. Several delegations expressed their opposition to treating the President’s text as the sole basis for negotiations, including Belarus, Egypt, Iran, Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela, Pakistan, and Syria. The representative of Egypt called the draft “a work in progress,” while the delegation of Belarus warned that the document would prejudice the results of the work of the upcoming March conference. The representative of Iran also offered an EOV on his delegation’s vote against OP3 noting that the draft text is “vague and full of loopholes” and also provides for far too much subjectivity in application of assessment criteria. In particular, Iran noted that the parameters explicitly allow arms-exporting states on their own volition to export as many arms as they want to any country or region if in their view it can “contribute to peace and security”. Likewise, he complained that the current draft text gives too much preference to the commercial interests of exporting states than the security of importing states and other states in their regions.

With regards to the rules of procedure, as laid forth in OP2, delegations expressed their support for consensus, although some offered more detailed caveats. The Mexican delegation reiterated its well-known concern over allowing consensus to be interpreted as the right of one or a few delegations to impede general agreement. Similarly, the representative of Morocco supported consensus as “an effective tool” so long as it is not abused or misinterpreted as veto power or a demand for unanimity. Other delegations, including Egypt and India, also warned against placing artificial deadlines or timelines on negotiations.

While the ATT resolution has been adopted and a pathway forward has been identified towards a March Conference to finish work on common international standards for the transfer in conventional arms, there remains significant disagreement over the substance of the future treaty text on many issues from scope to criteria to enforcement mechanisms. This calls into question the status of the President’s draft text as the single basis for negotiations, as some states continue to express their unease with many of its contents.


—Katherine Prizeman