Archive | July, 2013

Justice for Genocide: Work in Progress

27 Jul

17 July 2013 marked, the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the international community in Rome, Italy on July 1998. The adoption is commemorated annually as International Criminal Justice Day. In celebration, the United Nations held a panel discussion on Justice and Accountability for Genocide and Atrocity Crimes.

The opening panel moderated by Mr. William Pace, Convener of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court, raised questions concerning the effectiveness of current justice strategies and highlighted the importance of the International Criminal Court (ICC), its current challenges and recommendations going forward.  “We need to see faster proceedings that are effective and efficient,” stated Amb. Christian Wenaweser of Liechtenstein, while shedding light on the lessons learnt from the ICC. Amb. Eduardo Ulibarri of, Costa Rica and Amb. Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. Office of Global Criminal Justice, looked at the challenges faced by the court through the lens of a “global fabric of justice” which needs to be strengthened by mending situations of grave violence to civilians utilizing both the ICC and other legal mechanisms.

The opening panel effectively conveyed the message that the threat of punishment is insufficient to deter individuals or governments from committing genocide or other mass atrocity crimes. Given this, Mr. Adam Dieng, the Secretary General’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, proposed that states must do more to earn the trust of their people by creating and then respecting strong institutions of government. Karen Mosoti, Head of the Liaison Office of the ICC to the UN, speaking on behalf of the ICC president, emphasized as well the “power” of justice.

The roundtable discussion with NGO leaders and survivors that followed, moderated by Hon. Thomas H. Andrews, president of United to End Genocide, highlighted some of the troubling events that have taken place in the Democratic Republic of Congo and also reaffirmed the need to bring to justice figures such as Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir who have been accused of atrocity crimes. The overarching theme of the discussion focused on holding perpetrators accountable by providing justice for victims.

Over the years, the ICC has been dealing with a number of elites-induced conditions of mass violence where leaders engage in some form of cost-benefit calculation and aim at the acquisition or sustained exercise of power. A possible reason for this behavior could be related to the pattern of empty threats made by the international community. As Ambassador Rapp reinforced, “these acts of violence are not sudden and random, they are planned and instigated. These crimes are seen as a pathway to power but this can be broken only when we tell them that this commission will not lead to power.”

The threat of punishment – let alone an empty threat – has limited impact on government or other militant figures already intoxicated with hatred and violence. Thus the expectation of immediate relief in many conflict zones or post conflict settings should not be too high. With full regard for the timing and resource challenges associated with ending mass violence, the panel concluded with an unanswered but rather thought-provoking question posed by Ms. Eugenie Mukeshimana, “When and how do we declare the conclusion of a genocide?”

Overall, the event provided for a good discussion on issues pertaining to international justice. The title of the event implied that the event would be more focused on the legal aspect of prosecutions. Rather the discussion focused mostly on the political aspects of achieving justice for mass atrocity crimes. Nonetheless, the opening remarks as well as the roundtable discussion intersected around one important conclusion – the need for more positive interaction with the Security Council, including more regular communication with the ICC and more reliable funding made available to the Court to help prosecute the gravest of crimes.   GAPW will continue to contribute where and how we can to the evolution of more open and collaborative interactions between the Council and the UN’s various mechanisms for ensuring justice for the most serious of crimes.

 Kritika Seth

Ecuador Applies the Concept of Self-Determination Or: “The spirits that I’ve cited…”

19 Jul

Truth has proven to be relative and is often modeled after those who are in the position of defining and shaping realities. Sometimes simply overpowered by, sometimes in comfortable alliance with those powers, Latin American countries have experienced long periods of political and economic dependency, predominantly linked to Western concepts of free market trade and governance.

It is a system from which these same nations are detaching themselves in many places–slowly but steadily–and by doing so, feeding into an ongoing process that might turn the world into more of a multipolar power system. However, this is not always met with appreciation from some of the traditional global players.  They are used to treating that region of the world as their proverbial “back-yard” for the extraction of important resources.

But interests and power federations are in flux. Some Latin American countries are now finding new business allies in Asia. Chile, for example, completed free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea. Mexico, Peru and Chile became members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), alongside with China, Japan, Russia, Australia and the U.S.  

Ecuador, a small Latin American country has quite regularly made the news for many different reasons over the past seven years. In particular for its new head of state Rafael Correa, thanks to his sometimes maverick but certainly charismatic style of leadership, and his seemingly undaunted sympathy for whistleblowers. The “charismatic leader” for better or worse, has become an approved concept in Latin America. Ecuador, the land on the equator, has been the setting for a string of unstable governments, combining a presidential democracy with a fragmented party system that often promotes corruption.

Author Jonas Wolff points out in his article, “About Ecuador’s most recent history,” for the German Federal Centre for Political Education (BPB), “The confrontation and mutual blockade of government and parliament dominate the political events since 1979, and the politicized judiciary is less a supervisory body as a tool in the ‘battle of state powers.’”

Immediately upon assuming office in January 2007, President Correa focused his attention on transforming Ecuador’s political system as the essential framework for a fundamentally better-functioning society.

At the core is a new Constituent Assembly, a crucial democratic tool for the implementation of a timely constitution, which Correa and his political allies were able to enforce against the resistance of the political parties of the center-right spectrum. The price the new government paid was a foreseeable clash of powers between the executive and legislative branches, which culminated in the dismissal of 57 opposition MPs.

In the past, inexperience in democratic procedures that facilitated instability in Latin American countries, in combination with outside influences and interests that often times favored authoritarian governments, lead to inadequate societies that were not able to serve its citizens appropriately.

Author John Perkins, the converted American “economic hit man,” wrote in 2005, “Ecuador today is in far worse shape than the country was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking and engineering. (…) Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50% to 70%, under- or unemployment increased from 15% to 70%, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. (…) Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20% to 6%. The top 1% of third-world households accounts for 70-90% of all private financial wealth and real estate ownership in their country.”

Today, in year seven of Rafael Correa’s tenure as Ecuador’s President, his Defense Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa proudly announced in an interview during her latest visit to New York City, “We are coming from fifty years of darkness in terms of the oil exploitation. If you go to the areas where Ecuador is extracting oil now, you will see the best services and best schools. People are feeling that they are recovering their dignity, and their condition as citizens.” Ecuador managed to renegotiate their oil contracts, significantly increasing the quality of labor for Ecuadorians involved, with oil still being the country’s main source of income, but not without upsetting powerful international interests.

“Between 1964 and 1990, Texaco — which merged with Chevron in 2001 — dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater while drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The pollution caused local indigenous people to suffer a wave of stomach and mouth cancer, birth defects and spontaneous miscarriages. Besides having been found guilty by Ecuadorian courts, Chevron maintains its innocence and brought its own case against the prosecutors. The company was fined $19 billion by Ecuador in 2011 and has been fighting the verdict since”, describes the International Business Times.

Perkins points out in his 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man how he would talk lesser developed nations into accepting vast loans from institutions such as the World Bank or USAID. Once indebted to an extent they could not hope to pay back, nations such as Ecuador would have to accept political influence and pressure coming from the U.S. on a level that would fundamentally compromise national sovereignty.

The accuracy of Perkins’ descriptions has been questioned by major Western media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, or the German weekly Der Spiegel. At the same time however, it has left some authors with a glimpse of the possibility that Perkins accounts might not be far from the truth. Author Thomas Schulz wrote for Der Spiegel, “At the end of the day his ‘confessions’ about the entanglements of American politics and economy do not sound that unbelievable, if one remembers well documented historical incidences of the recent past.” Schulz is referring to the United Fruit case, the corporation better known today as Chiquita, as one example.

When in 1953, Guatemala’s President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán expropriated a portion of the vast plantations of the U.S. company in the Latin American country and distributed it to small farmers, he was violently removed from his office through a coup d’etat, supported by the CIA. Or, as a document released by The National Security archive at the George Washington University depicts, “Arbenz was elected President of Guatemala in 1950 to continue a process of socio-economic reforms that the CIA disdainfully refers to in its memoranda as ‘an intensely nationalistic program of progress colored by the touchy, anti-foreign inferiority complex of the ‘Banana Republic.'” The first CIA effort to overthrow the Guatemalan president – a CIA collaboration with Nicaraguan dictator Anastacio Somoza to support a disgruntled general named Carlos Castillo Armas and codenamed Operation PBFORTUNE–was authorized by President Truman in 1952.”

Times seem to have changed. To the super powers’ and its allies’ big surprise, Ecuador’s President Correa, an American and European schooled economist, renegotiated Ecuador’s external debt of US $10.97 billion – unilaterally. In May 2007 author Gail Hurley published a paper, titled, “Ecuador in the spotlight as government seeks to renegotiate debt on its terms,” with the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad). Here she writes that “certain developed country governments” and “multilateral institutions” were sent into a “state of anxiety” when they learned about Correa’s perky proposal.

The Financial Times piece in February 2007, titled, “Ecuador threatens to become the first debtor with the ability to pay,” disregarded that the external debt service as a percentage of Ecuador’s government revenues used to be extremely high.

In 2006, a total of 38% of government revenues were paid to balance Ecuador’s external debt. The United Nations recommends that developing nations spend not more than 10-13% of revenues for external debt repayments. Correa, readily vilified as a “socialist” by many, an overused term that never fails to frighten, nevertheless seems to find his admirers in the West.

Reuter’s writer Felix Salmon pointed out in his piece “Lessons from Ecuador’s bond default” from May 2009, “But in the short term, Ecuador has elegantly managed to buy back a very large chunk of its debt at just 35 cents on the dollar. Old Ecuador hand Hans Humes, of Greylock Capital, summed up how spectacularly successful the Ecuador strategy was, calling it ‘one of the most elegant restructurings that I’ve seen’.”

Salmon explains further that Correa’s insightful economic incentive could not have been timed better. The default was implemented in December 2008, two years after Correa was elected President. At that point in time global debt markets had plummeted into chaos. “And Correa didn’t pull the trigger until he could see the whites of his opponents’ eyes: He announced that he was defaulting on the 2012 global bonds at exactly the time that three huge hedge funds, which held Ecuador’s debt, were being forced by their prime brokers to liquidate their holdings. As a result, the selling pressure on Ecuadorean bonds sent them tumbling from the 70s to the 20s almost overnight.”

Only last week Reuters announced that Ecuador now plans to return to international debt markets late this year or early next year.

Since the debt default in 2008, Ecuador has relied mostly on credits from China for financing needs. Ecuador’s Finance Minister Fausto Herrera announced in early July that Ecuador is seeking as much as $ U.S. 1.4 bn in order to bankroll this year’s budget. Detlef Nolte from the German Federal Centre for Political Education (BPB) describes China’s increasing interest in Latin America as follows. “Although China’s involvement in Latin America is primarily economic in nature, the Chinese government is also pursuing political interests. On one hand, Beijing is looking for allies for her vision of a multipolar world order. In this context, it considers Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela as strategic partners. On the other hand, 12 from 26 governments in Latin America and the Caribbean still entertain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, in exchange for monetary favors. The Chinese government, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province tries to counteract this.”

The authors Mark Weisbrot, Jake Johnston, and Stephan Lefebvre published an analysis of Correa’s financial sector reform in February this year with the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC. The findings of their study point out that Ecuador’s new head of state is indeed a capable architect of financial frameworks for his home country by combining private investment initiatives with a healthy dose of government involvement, a concept that creates nearly hysterical public outcries in the U.S.  Ecuador’s central bank is now under government oversight and brought back about $2 billion of reserves from abroad. The money was used by Ecuador’s public banks to give out loans for infrastructure, housing, agriculture, and other domestic investment.

“The new constitution defined the financial sector as composed of the public, private, and popular and solidarity-based sector, which includes cooperatives, credit unions, savings and loan associations, and other member-based organizations.” The Ecuadorian government created the Programa de Finanzas Populares in 2008. A program that is supposed to expand the popular financial sector that is supposed to focus lending to smaller financial institutions that in return will lend to small businesses. “In January 2007 co-op loans stood at 11.1 percent of private bank lending; by July 2012 this percentage had nearly doubled, to 19.6 percent. Co-op loans have also seen a large increase in the absolute total amount, tripling in real (inflation-adjusted) terms during this period.” Conclusively, the authors explain, “Ecuador is a relatively small, middle income developing country with an open economy that does not even have its own currency, yet in five years it has accomplished some of the most comprehensive financial reforms of any country in the 21st century.”

While Ecuador’s Defense Minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa recognizes the successes of her government, she admits, “It is a long process. We are trying to build a new society through a truly cohesive, comprehensive, integrative process. That will take time.”

Finding individualized economy and policy related solutions to secure national and regional interests independently, even if that means finding new partners, accepting failure at times, or possibly creating new dependencies long term, seems to work out for Ecuador at the moment. The concept of self-determination shouldn’t be perceived  as too alienating by Western states.

Lia Petridis Maiello

The article was originally published by The Huffington Post.

 

 

 

Disabling Discrimination that Undermines Development

17 Jul
On Wednesday, July 17, delegations and civil society representatives gathered in the North Lawn for what is one of the most hopeful, positive events in the UN calendar – the Sixth Conference of States Parties on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The conference room was full, not only with UN representatives but with persons from many walks of life – the blind, the deaf, persons in wheelchairs and others — who made the sometimes arduous journey to UN headquarters to insist that persons with disabilities have access to the full range of health, education and employment opportunities available to other citizens.

The chair of the conference, Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, gave stirring opening remarks linking directly the status of persons with disability with the more general discussions taking place around the UN on the status of the Millennium Development Goals in the post-2015 period.  Ambassador Kamau, who also serves as Co-Chair of the Open Ended Working Group on Sustainable Development, is particularly well placed to make essential connections to this conference, both to the remainder of the human right treaty processes and to the important work of establishing fair and transparent benchmarks for guaranteeing adequate development within and across national borders.

As Mr. Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights mentioned during his remarks, it is essential that conversations continue in relevant UN bodies to ensure that human rights are placed at the center of sustainable development planning.   Such rights are completely and comprehensively relevant to all persons with disabilities living under diverse political and economic conditions.

For GAPW this Conference provides a welcome respite from some of the more frustrating aspects of the UN system – including diplomatic pessimism, inflexible secretariat bureaucracy and NGO self-importance.  Much like events focused on the needs of indigenous persons and youth, this conference reminds diverse UN stakeholders in tangible and unambiguous terms that the world outside our bubble is not much like the world within; that legitimate struggles in life are not all about status and career; that people who might not easily function in this diplomatic and policy setting have rights, dignity and important testimony to share, at least on a par with our own.

We have no illusions about the difficulties that remain as persons with disabilities lobby for the fair and equal treatment which should already have been their inheritance.   Neither do we minimize the struggles ahead as development goals are crafted so as to accommodate persons in all circumstances.   But the energy and courage evident in this conference room is unmistakable.  It would do the entire UN community good to breath in some of this fresh and positive air.

 Dr. Robert Zuber

Trust Busters

9 Jul

The General Assembly held an informal discussion on July 8 focused on the problem of ‘inequality.’  The debate was based in part on a report issued by the Secretary General (A/67/394) in 2012.

GAPW strongly supports the decision of the GA president’s office to hold this discussion. The issue of inequality is one that (at personal and professional levels) has preoccupied us for some time, not only because of the deep commitments to leveling access among and within populations, but also based on our firm conviction that the UN cannot be an honest broker on equal access when its own structures remain greatly imbalanced with regard to operational power and access.

We have been heartened by the efforts of the States associated with the ACT group to highlight and remediate some of the (less controversial) power imbalances in the UN system, particularly those focused on the working methods of the Security Council. We are convinced that trust in the UN’s concern for the inequalities that define life for so many of the world’s peoples is enhanced when the UN itself demonstrates a commitment to more equality of power and authority among Member States.

How do we understand these inequalities?  Speakers, including the Secretary General, the GA President, H.E. Vuk Jeremic,  H.E. Mr. José Miguel Insulza of the Organization of American States, and H.E. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett,  Foreign Minister of Guyana, underscored most of the important challenges facing the international community.  While Mr. Jeremic noted some of the normative aspects that can help shape a response to the “growing divide between haves and have not’s,” most of the speakers were more pragmatic, highlighting equal access to employment, education, participation in political and social affairs, justice for violence against women and other tangible symbols of inequality within and between States.

As noted by Minister Rodrigues-Birkett, “the new global human order represents a call for concerted multilateral action to reverse the persistent and considerable disparities between rich and poor, within as well as among countries, and to advance a people-centered development agenda.”   But as speakers also recognized, such an agenda must also include a commitment to good governance. The fact is that more and more citizens do not have sufficient trust in their government to turn over to them the keys to more equal access to power and resources. In too many parts of the world, government is seen as an enabler of inequality rather than a bulwark against a significant and in some cases accelerated tilting of educational, health and economic opportunity. The ‘season of discontent’ that several speakers referred to cannot be addressed without a commitment of governments to re-establish trusting relations with citizens increasingly anxious that their window for pursuing equal access, a window that has barely cracked open, is already closing.

Any remedial actions that emerge from a debate such as this, at least those actions initiated or leveraged by the UN, must also include a commitment to re-mediate the UN’s own disparities of power and access.   As good national governance is essential to the trust needed to create strong, sustainable partnerships with diverse citizens, good global governance is also needed is essential to the trust of states and the constituents they seek to represent.  Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, and whether it is entirely justified or not, the UN has its own trust issues to resolve. The inequalities of this system, regardless of how they are explained (or explained away), set a less than comfortable tone for smaller States being urged to deal with their internal inequalities.

The concerns raised in the context of this debate, as well as some of the proposed solutions, are potential ‘game changers.’  It is important that the UN keeps up pressure on States to address inequality, especially in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.  At the same time, it is not unreasonable to expect that the UN could invest significant energy resolving its own inequalities as it seeks to inspire relevant State action within national borders.

Dr. Robert Zuber

Millennium Development Goals in Least Developed Countries: Missing Agendas

8 Jul

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have served as a framework for cooperation and global action on development since the year 2000. Over the past decades the MDGs have become a central reference point for aid and international cooperation, not only providing a concrete platform for international development, but also a yardstick through which development progress can be measured. As the 2015 end date approaches policy makers focus on the progress and the challenges faced by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

LDCs are the most vulnerable Member States of the United Nations. They exhibit the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with widespread poverty, high vulnerability to conflict, underdeveloped productive capacity and a lack of global economic integration thus leading to constrains on their economic and social development.  In these situations, the framework of MDGs is critical – while securing higher levels of peace and prosperity are the main goals, mapping out locally effective programs are important as one means to continue to stimulate social, political and ecological progress within these Member States.

A recent panel at the United Nations, co-organized by the Office of the High Representatives for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), provided honest and pragmatic solutions that privileged qualitative progress over quantitative measurements.   

Despite some skepticism by the panel regarding progress on the MDGs, the Chair, Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya along with his panelists, Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, Mr. Saleemul Huq, H.E. Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou and Mr. Matthew Sherry Dewa focused on the different layers of challenges the LDCs need to be dealt with before moving on to the post-2015 agenda. “You cannot have progress if you don’t deal with unsustainable patterns” explained Mr. Acharya, Under Secretary-General for UN-OHRLLS, in his introductory remarks. During the discussion each panelist focused on one challenge the LDCs face and provided honest interpretations and viable solutions. H.E. Zinsou addressed the issue of complex country profiles and the need to increase productive capacity; Mr. Rahman provided his analysis on the three levels of coherence – vertical, sequential and horizontal; Mr. Huq recommended a twin track policy of climate change and eradication of poverty, while Mr. Dewa analyzed the fundamental issue as being the gap between global discourse and local realities.

At the end of the discussion it was clear, Least Developed Countries need a more robust engagement with issues including media, gender, ecology, poverty eradication, and illicit arms flows. The panel succeeded in setting the right tone for these pursuits.  Nonetheless, Global Action to Prevent War teased out three factors of concern that, properly addressed, can contribute towards much needed, sustainable progress of the LDCs.

  1. Participation of Women:  Unlike some other Member States that have done much to ensure inclusion of women in economic, social and environmental processes, many of the LDCs have made uneven progress in this regard regards. For example, Bangladesh’s population consists of 56.9% of males and 43.1% of females, out of which only 19.2% of women are associated with the parliament even though the target by 2015 was predicted to be 33%. LDCs must fully adopt the responsibility to include women in high level decision making processes as well as all sectors of government.

 

  1. Ending Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons: Although national and regional efforts have been moving towards combating the illicit arms trade, more international assistance and cooperation is essential for the effective implementation of relevant arms control measure such as the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the recently concluded Arms Trade Treaty.  Many of the LDCs are known for their vulnerability to conflict, much of that due to the widespread availability of illicit weapons in their regions. Such insecurity undermines development, educational opportunity, participation by women, and much more.   

 

  1. Media Reform: Today there is an immediate need for the media to take the lead in making global audiences aware of both constraints on the LDCs and the many ways in which citizens of LDCs are engaged in hopeful, life saving activity. Nevertheless, over 1 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty and 1.9 million children are infected with the HIV virus.  Through Media Global and other providers, GAPW urges a more consistent involvement of media in LDC s to ensure that the voices, aspirations and activities of those living in these countries can be heard.

Even though pressing issues like gender and education were not addressed by the panel, the speakers did provide the audience with honest and pragmatic strategies though which development and security goals could be sustained.  

Kritika Seth

Sounds of Silence: Low Level Energy for a High Level Opportunity

2 Jul

On July 2, the GA president’s office and UNODA conferred a preparatory session for diplomats whose governments are expected to attend the high level summit on nuclear disarmament to be held on September 26 at UN headquarters.

The briefing included discussion of efforts to attract “regionally balanced” heads of state to headline the gathering, the need for time constraints on delegate presentations, and the possibility of having short presentations from civil society near the close of the day-long discussions.

Responses from the delegations who attended (there was limited P-5 involvement) were few and far between.  Speaking on behalf of the NAM, Indonesia made welcome reference to the possibility that the event will send a “strong political message” on the need for continued scrutiny and movement on nuclear disarmament.  The Nigerian delegation, speaking on behalf of the Africa Group, reminded delegates that the “only solution” to the threat of nuclear weapons is their elimination and complete disavowal of use.   The Nigerian delegate also mentioned the need to promote more WMD-free zones (such as in the Middle East) and to strengthen those zones that already exist.

After these statements, the room fell silent.    The briefing was adjourned in less than 25 minutes much to the surprised of onlookers – and even the security guards!

In our many presentations here at headquarters and in the field, we have learned to interrogate audience silence.  There are times when silence means satisfaction.  The audience has gotten what they need from the event and energy is now shifting to their next responsibilities. Silence might also indicate some confusion about expectations, specifically regarding the need for delegations to respond directly to specific proposals from the GA president’s office.  If indeed there was some confusion about expectations, the silence in the Trusteeship Council Chambers would then seem more appropriate.   Diplomats, after all, rarely speak out in situations where they are not prepared to adequately represent the policies of their respective missions.

Silence can also indicate disinterest, a polite but disengaged response to what is being shared or proposed.  At the UN, especially, it is highly unusual for delegations to publicly question the relevance of a briefing or other event, even if they were hoping for or expecting more.   Diplomats are skilled at endurance through multiple events – even on disarmament – that they might otherwise interpret as not of personal interest nor relevant to their missions.   The fact that this meeting was virtually bereft of inspiration contributed to our concern that the energy of the room might reflect something more troublesome than polite attentiveness to high level logistics.

Those of us who are deeply involved with First Committee diplomats and issues certainly hope that this last interpretation of ‘silence’ is not pertinent here.   Despite some understandable frustrations with the UN’s disarmament machinery, most participating diplomats understand well the stakes of September 26 for international security.   While none of us know when we will reach the breaking point on resistance to nuclear disarmament, a high level event such as this can certainly move us closer.  It must be given every opportunity to do so.

The silence in Tuesday’s briefing was deafening.   The volume needs to be turned up much louder in September.

Dr. Robert Zuber