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Last week (Oct 24-30) was UN Disarmament Week, during which member states voted on a range of disarmament decisions and resolutions PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 06 November 2018 14:27
BY Basel Peace Office
Last week (Oct 24-30) was UN Disarmament Week, during which member states voted on a range of disarmament decisions and resolutions. Decisions are binding on the United Nations. Resolutions are indications of governments' positions and intent – they are not binding but can be very authoritative and influential if supported by key countries.
The deliberations and votes took place in an environment of increasing tensions between nuclear armed States, and also an increasing divide between non-nuclear countries and those countries which rely on nuclear weapons for their security.
Nuclear risk-reduction:  Reducing nuclear danger A resolution Reducing nuclear danger submitted by India received 127 votes in favour (mostly non-aligned countries). It failed to get support of nuclear-armed or European countries, primarily because it only calls for nuclear risk reduction measures by China, France, Russia, UK and USA – leaving out the other nuclear armed States – India, Pakistan, DPRK and Israel.
A resolution Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems  Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems submitted by a group of non-nuclear countries, was much more successful receiving 173 votes in favour, including from most of the NATO countries and from four nuclear armed States (China, DPRK, India, Pakistan).
Civil society presents to the UN General Assembly First Committee, October 2018
Nuclear prohibition:
A resolution on the Treaty on the Prohibition Nuclear Weapons  Treaty on the Prohibition Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was supported by 122 countries. This is more than the number who have signed the Treaty, which is 68 (with 19 of these countries having now ratified). The vote indicates that more signatures are likely. However, the resolution was not supported by any of the nuclear-armed countries, nor any of the countries under nuclear deterrence relationships, i.e. NATO, Australia, Japan, South Korea. The opposition of nuclear-armed and allied States to the resolution is another indication that they do not intend to join the new treaty. In general, this means that they will not be bound by the treaty's obligations. However, the customary law against the use of nuclear weapons which is re-affirmed by the treaty will apply to all States regardless of whether or not they join.
A resolution on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons submitted by India received 120 votes in favour, including from themselves and another three nuclear-armed States (China, DPRK and Pakistan). Some non-nuclear States have historically opposed the resolution in response to India testing nuclear weapons and becoming a nuclear-armed State in 1998. India has requested these countries to reconsider their opposition, especially in light of the international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in which India participated and which highlighted the importance of preventing any use of nuclear weapons. 
UN Conferences:
A resolution affirming a previous decision to hold a UN High-Level Conference (Summit) on Nuclear Disarmament Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament,was supported by 143 countries. The resolution, entitled Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, also promotes negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention - a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons that includes nuclear-armed States (unlike the TPNW which does not include them). Despite getting a strong vote in favour, including from some nuclear armed states, the proposed conference does not yet appear to have enough political traction to be held. The resolution did not set a date for the conference.
The UNGA adopted a Decision to convene a conference no later than 2019 on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Despite the objective of a Middle East Zone being supported by most UN members in a separate resolution (supported by 174 countries), the decision to convene a conference in 2019 to ‘elaborate a legally binding treaty’ was supported by only 103 countries. The hesitation by many countries to support the resolution was due to the fact that they believed that concrete preparations and negotiations for a Middle East Zone Treaty would require the participation of all countries in the region, and currently there is at least one country (Israel) that is not ready to work on such a regional treaty.
Other discussions and resolutions
There were other disarmament discussions at the UN General Assembly last week – included a heated discussion  between Russia and the United States over the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Both US and Russia claim that the other party is in violation of the treaty, and last week President Trump announced that the US was initiating procedures to withdraw from the treaty.
In addition there were a number of other disarmament resolutions that were introduced, some of which were adopted and some of which are being actioned (voted upon) this week.
For more information see
UNGA First Committee
Press releases: Nov 1 and Nov 2.
Reaching Critical Will UN First Committee
Yours in peace
The Basel Peace Office team
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Wednesday, 24 October 2018 11:50


Position Statement on Forest Biomass Energy
We share a vision of a world in which thriving natural forests play a significant role in tackling climate change and contribute to a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for all life on earth. Burning forest wood for large-scale energy production cannot be part of that future for all of the reasons outlined below. Instead we must protect and restore natural forests, thereby reducing emissions and removing atmospheric carbon dioxide while supporting biodiversity, resilience and well-being.
Large-scale burning of forest biomass for energy:
Harms the climate
It is encouraged by flawed accounting – Current carbon accounting rules incentivise forest bioenergy by considering biomass combustion as a zero-emission technology, expressed as zero emissions in the energy sector. The assumption is that all emissions are instead to be accounted for when the biomass is logged, placing the burden on the forest producer rather than the biomass consumer. Yet emissions accounting of forests in the land sector is fatally flawed and generally understates emissions. The true carbon cost of biomass burning rarely appears accurately on any country’s balance sheet.
Over and Under Nutrition: Two Sides of an Unhealthy Coin PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 23 October 2018 10:00


Poor dietary intake and lack of food varieties affect huge numbers of children, who mostly hail from large, impoverished families in Nepal. Malnutrition is a significant concern in Nepal as around one million children under 5 years suffer from chronic malnutrition and 10 percent suffer from acute malnutrition. Credit: Naresh Newar/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 4 2018 (IPS) - A dramatic shift in the way we eat and think about food is more urgent than ever to prevent further environmental degradation and an even larger health epidemic.   

A diverse group of experts from academia, civil society, and United Nations agencies convened at the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the pervasive issue of food insecurity and malnutrition and potential solutions to overhaul the system.

“Sustainable food choices is starting to both look good and taste good which hasn’t been the story of the past.” -- founder of EAT Gunhild Stordalen


“It’s striking that we are still, despite all the advances we have seen in science and technology, we still have this big gap between those who eat too much and those who don’t have enough food to eat,” Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation’s head of media relations Luca Di Leo told IPS.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2018 22:47
Hundreds Of Millions Of Tons Of Mine Tailings Are To Be Dumped Into Norway's Fjords PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Sunday, 21 October 2018 11:10


October 21 2018
Despite public outcry, Norway has decided to stick with plans to dump mine tailings into the majestic fjords, “Førdefjorden” in Sogn and Fjordane and “Repparfjorden” in Finnmark. Mine tailings, known as "gruveavfall" in Norwegian, are what remain after mining for minerals and metals. Gruveavfall actually quite literally means mine (gruve) garbage (avfall) and can contain chemicals and hazardous materials. The plan is to dump an immense amount into these fjords, with 250 million tons of tailings in Førdefjorden alone!
The fight against mine tailing dumpings in Norway has been long and ongoing. In 2016, 80 activists even chained themselves to the Nordic Minings machinery alongside Førdefjorden. All together they were fined over 1 million kroner. Many people are understandably concerned and angry. These activities threaten the beautiful fjords and, most importantly, the life that resides in and around them. These fjords are homes to many animals including orcas, cod, spiny dogfish, eels and multiple species of birds, mammals and fish.
Last Updated on Sunday, 21 October 2018 11:18
COP21: fossil fuel states negotiated with a fossil fuel vision and ignored the UNFCCC PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 16 October 2018 13:59
By Joan Russow written for the Watershed Sentinel
December 2015
In the 2014 IPCC Report, the urgency of addressing climate change was reaffirmed;
The world is not ready for the impacts of climate change, including more extreme weather and the likelihood that populated parts of the planet could be rendered uninhabitable. The report argues that world leaders have only a few years left to reduce carbon emissions enough to avoid catastrophic warming, which would produce significant sea level rise and large-scale shifts in temperatures that would dramatically disrupt human life and natural ecosystems.
At COP21 Ban Ki-Moon urged that ‘the States to negotiate with a global vision not from specific national interests”.
A global vision is not just ‘recalling” (Paris Agreement) but abiding by articles 2, 3. 4 in the legally binding 1992 United |Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This Convention which has been ratified by all member states of the United has addressed many of the contentious issues at COP21.
In article 2 under the legally binding UNFCCC is the obligation:
….to stabilize of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system
A global vision to address article 2 would be to immediately end all subsidies for fossil fuel, to calculate the carbon budget for each state, to divest in fossil fuels and to reinvest in renewable energy, to conserve sinks, and to avoid all false solutions such as nuclear, geo-engineering and biofuels which would all violate principles within the UNFCCC.
*A global vision would be to abide by legally binding principles under article 3 in the UNFCCC-
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 October 2018 14:11
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