June 14, 2011
A coalition of Asian Indigenous Peoples advocacy groups delivered a Collective Statement to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in United Nations Headquarters, New York,
16-27 May, 2011, which brings up the issue of U.S. militarization in Okinawa (Henoko & Takae) < http://okinawabd.ti-da.net/e3421074.html>. The groups utilized the U.N. Declaration on on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to challenge the imposition of U.S. military bases on indigenous territories. Chamorro activist and legal scholar Julian Aguon wrote a short article about how the Declaration applies to issues and problems facing Kanaka Maoli people in Hawai’i.
The statement addresses the failure of the Japanese government to recognize Ryukyuan/Okinawan people as an indigenous people and blasts the U.S. military bases in Okinawa as a form of discrimination against the Okinawan people:
Second, regarding the Ryukyuan/Okinawan people, the Government of Japan has not implemented the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which call on the government to recognize Ryukyuan/Okinawan people as an indigenous people. As a result, as reported by UN Special Rapporteur Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Doudou Diene, the heavy presence of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa remains as a form of discrimination against the people of Okinawa. At present, two new military bases construction plans are being carried out under the agreement between the governments of Japan and the U.S., despite the longtime opposition from local indigenous peoples’ communities.
One massive military base is being constructed in Henoko and Oura bay. While the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) expressed its concerns on this plan in the closing statement of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) in Nagoya in 2010, the Government of Japan has ignored the concerns raised in the statement and is proceeding with the plan. Another military base, six new helipads, is being constructed in Yambaru forest, Takae district of the Okinawa island. In response to their protest, the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the local agency of the Government of Japan, has filed Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP) against local indigenous community members.
The reluctance of the Japanese government to implement the UNDRIP at the local level violates Ainu and Okinawan rights to participate in the decision-making process. The authorization of the construction of the Industrial Waste Dumping Site in Mombetsu city, Hokkaido Prefecture, and the construction of military bases in Henoko and Oura bay and helipads in Takae, not only violates Article 29 of the UNDRIP but also seriously violates the indigenous peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) which is clearly stated in Article 32. It also denies the important role of indigenous and local community to preserve bio-diversity as stipulated in Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The statement calls for:
1. We recommend the Government of Japan shall establish national and local systems in conjunction with indigenous peoples to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, in accordance with the UNDRIP.
2. We recommend that the city government of Mombetsu shall respect Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the local Ainu community concerned, and to reconsider the authorization of the Industrial Waste Dumping Site.
3. We recommend that the Goverments of Japan and the U.S. immediately stop the construction of the military bases in Henoko and Oura bay as well as helipads in Takae and review the plans.
4. We request the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people shall use his good office to directly intervene in the Government of Japan regarding the construction of the Industrial Waste Dumping Site in Mombetsu city, Hokkaido Prefecture, and the construction of military bases in Henoko and Oura bay and helipads in Takae, Okinawa Prefecture.
Jen Teeter wrote a great article about the issue on the Ten Thousand Things blog:
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Ainu and Okinawan Human Rights- United Nations Forum on indigenous issues
The tenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues convened at the United Nations Headquarters, New York from the 16th to 27th of May. Shimin Gaikou Centre (Citizens’ Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) vice president, Makiko Kimura, on behalf of her organization, Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, Forest Peoples’ Programme, Citizens’ Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa, No Helipad Takae Resident Society, and Mo-pet Sanctuary Network, submitted a collective statement to the forum.
These organizations urge the Japanese government to fully realize the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and address human rights violations against the Ainu and Okinawan communities. Japan ratified UNDRIP in 2007, and subsequently recognized the Ainu people as the indigenous people of Japan, but does not recognize the indigeneity of the Okinawan people despite UN recommendations.
The report addresses how the government of Japan has violated Articles 29 and 32 of UNDRIP by authorizing projects which affect the lands and/or resources of indigenous peoples (including Okinawans) without “free, prior and informed consent” of the indigenous inhabitants. The report highlights a proposed industrial waste facility project in Monbetsu, Hokkaido, and the (de)construction which will result from the proposal of a new U.S. military base and helipads in Okinawa. The organizations request the direct intervention of the Special Rapporteur to the forum to halt further construction and ensure the establishment of a system by which the Ainu and Okinawans must provide free, prior, and informed consent before such projects are authorized.
March 21, 2011
After obtaining a United Nations Security Council resolution establishing a “no fly zone” and authorizing “all necessary measures” to stop Libyaʻs military assault on rebel forces, the U.S. and European began their attack on Libya. The AP wrote:
The U.S. claimed initial success two days into an assault on Libya that included some of the heaviest firepower in the American arsenal — long-range bombers designed for the Cold War — but American officials on Sunday said it was too early to define the international military campaign’s end game.
The New York Times reported:
American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Saturday, unleashing warplanes and missiles in a military intervention on a scale not seen in the Arab world since the Iraq war.
The mission to impose a United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zone and keep Colonel Qaddafi from using air power against beleaguered rebel forces was portrayed by Pentagon and NATO officials as under French and British leadership.
But the Pentagon said that American forces were mounting an initial campaign to knock out Libya’s air defense systems, firing volley after volley of Tomahawk missiles from nearby ships against missile, radar and communications centers around Tripoli, the capital, and the western cities of Misurata and Surt.
And while the Pentagon is reporting that the initial missile and bombardment campaign was successful, the U.S. strategy is unclear. Another AP article reports that the western campaign in Libya could last “a while”:
The U.S. military, for now at the lead of the international campaign, is trying to walk a fine line over the end game of the assault. It is avoiding for now any appearance that it aims to take out Gadhafi or help the rebels oust him, instead limiting its stated goals to protecting civilians.
Britain also is treading carefully. Foreign Secretary William Hague refused Monday to say if Gadhafi would or could be assassinated, insisting he would not “get drawn into details about what or whom may be targeted.”
“I’m not going to speculate on the targets,” Hague said in a heated interview with BBC radio. “That depends on the circumstances at the time.”
So, the legal and moral justification for the military intervention is “humanitarian”, to protect civilians. But the real objective is regime change. As Global Research reports, the Security Council resolution was not unanimous; Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India abstained from the vote. A Russian commentator also remarked that the “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia was the precedent for the latest U.S. attack on Libya and that Libya was the fourth country in twelve years to be directly attacked by the west. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticized the UN Security Council resolution authorizing military attacks against Libya:
“The Security Council resolution is deficient and flawed; it allows everything and is reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade,” Putin told workers at a ballistic missile factory in the Urals region. “It effectively allows intervention in a sovereign state.”
Analysis from Stratfor suggests that while the immediate objective is regime change, the long term strategy in Libya is unclear:
The Libyan war has now begun. It pits a coalition of European powers plus the United States, a handful of Arab states and rebels in Libya against the Libyan government. The long-term goal, unspoken but well understood, is regime change — displacing the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and replacing it with a new regime built around the rebels.
The mission is clearer than the strategy, and that strategy can’t be figured out from the first moves. The strategy might be the imposition of a no-fly zone, the imposition of a no-fly zone and attacks against Libya’s command-and-control centers, or these two plus direct ground attacks on Gadhafi’s forces. These could also be combined with an invasion and occupation of Libya.
The question, therefore, is not the mission but the strategy to be pursued. How far is the coalition, or at least some of its members, prepared to go to effect regime change and manage the consequences following regime change? How many resources are they prepared to provide and how long are they prepared to fight? It should be remembered that in Iraq and Afghanistan the occupation became the heart of the war, and regime change was merely the opening act. It is possible that the coalition partners haven’t decided on the strategy yet, or may not be in agreement. Let’s therefore consider the first phases of the war, regardless of how far they are prepared to go in pursuit of the mission.
Rick Rozoff points out in Global Research that the war on Libya is NATOʻs first direct African conflict as well as the first war for the newly created U.S. African Command (AFRICOM). He also points out that the humanitarian war justification for the attack on Libya has not been applied consistently the current wave of protest in the Arab world:
A crisis in Yemen is rapidly escalating. A standoff centered on the presidential palace is taking place between security forces in the capital city of Sanaa while embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to resist stepping down, claiming that the “majority of Yemeni people” support him. While a Western-led military intervention in Libya is dominating the headlines, the crisis in Yemen and its implications for Persian Gulf stability is of greater strategic consequence. Saudi Arabia is already facing the threat of an Iranian destabilization campaign in eastern Arabia and has deployed forces to Bahrain in an effort to prevent Shiite unrest from spreading. With a second front now threatening the Saudi underbelly, the situation in Yemen is becoming one that the Saudis can no longer leave on the backburner.
The turning point in Yemen occurred March 18 after Friday prayers, when tens of thousands of protesters in the streets calling for Saleh’s ouster came under a heavy crackdown that reportedly left some 46 people dead and hundreds wounded. It is unclear whether the shootings were ordered by Saleh himself, orchestrated by a member of the Yemeni defense establishment to facilitate Saleh’s political exit or simply provoked by tensions in the streets, but it does not really matter. Scores of defections from the ruling party, the prominent Hashid tribe in the north and military old guard followed the March 18 events, both putting Saleh at risk of being removed in a coup and putting the already deeply fractious country at risk of a civil war.
Read more: Yemen in Crisis: A Special Report | STRATFOR
The U.S. has conducted secret military operations in Yemen to hunt Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Last year it was reported Yemenʻs President Saleh and General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central Command held closed door meetings during which arrangements were made for the U.S. to establish a military base on the Yemeni island of Socotra.
July 11, 2010
Special Committee decision concerning Puerto Rico
The Special Committee,
Bearing in mind the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, as well as the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico,
Considering that the period 1990-2000 was proclaimed by the General Assembly, in its resolution 43/47 of 22 November 1988, as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and that by resolution 55/146 of 8 December 2000, the General Assembly declared the period 2001-2010 the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism,
Bearing in mind the 28 resolutions and decisions adopted by the Special Committee on the question of Puerto Rico, contained in the reports of the Special Committee to the General Assembly, in particular those adopted without a vote in recent years,
Recalling that 25 July 2010 marks the one hundred and twelfth anniversary of the intervention in Puerto Rico by the United States of America,
Noting with concern that despite the diverse initiatives taken by the political representatives of Puerto Rico and the United States in recent years, the process of decolonization of Puerto Rico, in compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee on Puerto Rico, has not yet been set in motion,
Stressing the urgent need for the United States to lay the groundwork for the full implementation of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico,
Noting that the inter-agency Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status designated by the President of the United States, which submitted its second report in December 2007, reaffirmed that Puerto Rico is a territory subject to United States congressional authority and that initiatives concerning Puerto Rico’s status have been subsequently presented to the Congress of the United States,
Also noting the “Panama Proclamation”, adopted by the Latin American and Caribbean Congress for the Independence of Puerto Rico, which was held in Panama from 17 to 19 November 2006 and attended by 33 political parties from 22 countries of the region, the conclusions of which were reaffirmed in Mexico City on 29 March 2008 at the meeting of the Standing Committee for Puerto Rican Independence; and the declaration of the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, adopted at its meeting in Buenos Aires in April 2010, supporting a review of the case of Puerto Rico by the United Nations General Assembly,
Further noting the debate in Puerto Rico on the search for a procedure that would make it possible to launch the process of decolonization of Puerto Rico, and aware of the principle that any initiative for the solution of the political status of Puerto Rico should originate from the people of Puerto Rico,
Aware that Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, was used for over 60 years by the United States Marines to carry out military exercises, with negative consequences for the health of the population, the environment and the economic and social development of that Puerto Rican municipality,
Noting the consensus existing among the people and the Government of Puerto Rico on the necessity of ensuring the clean-up, decontamination and return to the people of Puerto Rico of all the territory previously used for military exercises and installations, and of using them for the social and economic development of Puerto Rico,
Also noting the complaints made by the inhabitants of Vieques Island regarding the continued bombing and the use of open burning for clean-up, which exacerbate the existing health problems and pollution and endanger civilian lives,
Further noting the consensus among the people of Puerto Rico in favour of the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, some of whom have been serving sentences in United States prisons for more than 29 years for cases related to the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence,
Noting the concern of the people of Puerto Rico regarding violent actions, including repression and intimidation, against Puerto Rican independence fighters, including those that have recently come to light through documents declassified by federal agencies of the United States,
Also noting that in the final document of the Fifteenth Summit of the Non Aligned Movement, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 11 to 16 July 2009, and at other meetings of the Movement, the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence is reaffirmed on the basis of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV); the Government of the United States is urged to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence; the Government of the United States is urged to return the territory and occupied installations on Vieques Island and at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station to the Puerto Rican people, who constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation; and the General Assembly is urged to actively consider the question of Puerto Rico in all its aspects,
Having heard statements and testimonies representative of various viewpoints among the people of Puerto Rico and their social institutions,
Having considered the report of the Rapporteur of the Special Committee on the implementation of the resolutions concerning Puerto Rico,
1. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence in conformity with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution to the question of Puerto Rico;
2. Reiterates that the Puerto Rican people constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation that has its own unequivocal national identity;
3. Calls upon the Government of the United States of America to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people fully to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, in accordance and in full compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico;
4. Notes the broad support of eminent persons, governments and political forces in Latin America and the Caribbean for the independence of Puerto Rico;
5. Again notes the debate in Puerto Rico on the implementation of a mechanism that would ensure the full participation of representatives of all viewpoints prevailing in Puerto Rico, including a constitutional assembly on status with a basis in the decolonization alternatives recognized in international law, aware of the principle that any initiative for the solution of the political status of Puerto Rico should originate from the people of Puerto Rico;
6. Expresses serious concern regarding actions carried out against Puerto Rican independence fighters, and encourages the investigation of those actions with the necessary rigour and with the cooperation of the relevant authorities;
7. Requests the General Assembly to consider the question of Puerto Rico comprehensively in all its aspects;
8. Urges the Government of the United States, in line with the need to guarantee the Puerto Rican people their legitimate right to self-determination and the protection of their human rights, to complete the return of occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and in Ceiba to the people of Puerto Rico; respect fundamental human rights, such as the right to health and economic development; and expedite and cover the costs of the process of cleaning up and decontaminating the impact areas previously used in military exercises through means that do not continue to aggravate the serious consequences of its military activity for the health of the inhabitants of Vieques Island and the environment;
9. Requests the President of the United States of America to release Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres, who have been serving sentences in United States prisons for over 28 years, and Avelino González Claudio, all of whom are Puerto Rican political prisoners serving sentences in United States prisons for cases relating to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico;
10. Notes with satisfaction the report prepared by the Rapporteur of the Special Committee,1 in compliance with its resolution of 9 June 2008;
11. Requests the Rapporteur to report to the Special Committee in 2010 on the implementation of the present resolution;
12. Decides to keep the question of Puerto Rico under continuous review.
“Priorities and Concerns of Civil Society Relating to the Decolonization of Guam as a UN Non Self-Governing Territory”
May 29, 2010
STATEMENT OF GUAHAN COALITION FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE and THE CHAMORRO STUDIES ASSOCIATION
By HOPE A. CRISTOBAL
THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONISATION
Pacific Regional Seminar
Noumea, New Caledonia
18 – 20 May 2010
“Priorities and Concerns of Civil Society Relating to the Decolonization of Guam as a UN Non Self-Governing Territory”
CHAMORU SELF-DETERMINATION PA’GO
Hafa Adai! (Greetings) Your Excellency Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Special Committee on Decolonization.
Dangkolu na si Yu’os ma’ase (sincere thank you) for your invitation to participate at this revolving seminar to assess the progress of decolonization and to discuss priorities regarding the Question of Guam on the final year of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism in the 21st century.
Also, I bring warm Hafa Adei greetings from our indigenous Chamorro people to our fellow Kanaky people of New Caledonia. We thank you for graciously hosting this United Nations Pacific Seminar. We extend a heartfelt “Dangkolu na si Yu’os ma’ase” (sincere thank you) for the opportunity to join Your Excellency, the Special Committee and my esteemed fellow delegates today.
As you may know, the Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands have cultural and linguistic ties to the Kanaky people of New Caledonia through our common Austronesian heritage that spans Oceania. As peace loving peoples of the great Pacific, we hope one day to be able to share in a history of freedom from colonial dominance espoused by this Special Committee and the rest of the UN body.
I am Hope Alvarez Cristobal, a Chamorro former Senator of Guam. I am here as a representative of Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice, a Guam based coalition made up of grassroots organizations advocating for the political, cultural, social, environmental and human rights of the people of Guam. We formed in September 2006 as a result of the announcement of the United States-Japan Realignment Initiatives signed in May 2006 in our awareness and desire (consistent with our traditionally matrilineal social order) to organize and give voice to concerns of women and female children in a highly militarized environment.
Our focus on peace and justice is central in light of the ongoing issue of the denial of our Chamorro people’s inalienable human right of self-determination and decolonization of Guam as a modern-day colony of the United States. Particular emphasis is made on keeping Guam, our island home, safe and sustainable for our children and generations to come. The Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice is comprised of the following member organizations: Chamorro Studies Association; National Association of Social Workers, Guam Chapter; Conscious Living; Guam’s Alternative Lifestyle Association; and Nasion Chamoru.
II. THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND
Guam’s unincorporated (permanent colony) status designation under the 1950 Organic Act of Guam legitimized US military land takings with rights of eminent domain of the only 147,000 acres of land—with only 116.5 miles of natural shoreline available to it for all purposes. Of this 147,000 acres, the military currently possesses 40,000 acres constituting 27.21% of the island’s landmass with the US National Park Service possessing 695 acres for 0.47% and the US Fish & Wildlife Service currently possessing 385 acres for 0.26% of the island. The local government possesses 37,673.36 acres for 25.6% of that total and with private lands consisting of only 68,246 acres for 46.43% of Guam’s land mass. [Ref. legislative Resolution 258-30 (COR)].
With a history of US land takings and the possibility of more land condemnation through the current US militarization plans, the 29th Guam Legislature passed public law 29-113 which clarifies that the disposition of public lands is exclusively the purview of the Guam Legislature and not the US military. This law stipulates that duly enacted legislation by the Guam Legislature is needed to authorize “the acquisition by condemnation or otherwise of private property” by means of Congressional appropriation to acquire property for public use.
The current 30th Guam Legislature also passed another law which tasks the local government’s Guam First Commission to determine which land the Federal Government may intend to lease or sublease, exchange for other land, or purchase, and to report their findings to the Guam Legislature and the Governor of Guam. This law also requires the Legislature’s approval of any federal acquisition of Government of Guam property, whether by lease, sub-lease, exchange or sale.
Guam’s colonial status continues to pave the way for US application of federal laws over our air space and sea lanes; our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone; all our resources, control of exit and entry of our borders, control of our land, the environment and whatever can be defined as “a possession of but not a part of the United States.” It is clear that the Guam Legislature is now struggling as it finds itself with little power to protect local government assets under the laws of the administering power. For a small colonial people, the alienation of property by laws of the colonial power is one of the fundamental tenets of colonialism. In Guam, so much of the alienation has occurred through military seizure—but other forms of alienation have the same effect.
III. SECOND INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR THE ERADICATION OF COLONIALISM
Mr. Chairman, people of the 16 remaining NSGTs still under the yoke of colonialism have been denied the benefits of decolonization as provided by the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples [UN Resolution 1514 (XV)] and that despite the Special Committee’s diligent work emphasized in the proclamation of the two International Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism the world’s political map have not had any major transformation. We can honestly say that in the case of Guam, rather than the eradication of colonialism, the US administering Power has deepened its colonial roots.
What we find unacceptable, Mr. Chairman, is that the administering power’s WWII adversary, Guam’s brutal occupier of WWII, Japan, is now complicit in Guam’s modern day colonization and militarization through its joint Bi-lateral Agreement with the U.S. With respect to Guam, the Special Committee’s work was not only stymied; rather, it has been made to fail in its mission to make colonialism a fact of the past—in not having developed a programme of work for the decolonization of the NSGT of Guam in view of the US’s active, massive militarization plans. Included is the failure in dispatching a UN visiting mission at the time Guam was actively negotiating its political status over two decades ago; and today, with US plans for our militarization.
For 21st century Guam, it is déjà vu old-style colonialism again. This time it is not 17th C. Spain but the US administering Power utilizing its military forces in a kind of “reduccion” process of “subduing, converting and gathering the natives through the establishment of missions and stationing of soldiers to protect those missions.” (Ref. Rob Wilson, 21st Annual Conference, “Crosscurrents: New Directions in Pacific and Asian Studies,” University of Hawaii, Manoa, March 10, 2010.) The exploitation of our colonial status as a people, U.S. militarization, assimilationist immigration policies, the rising tide of cultural genocide, environmental degradation and contamination, the dispossession of our lands, etc., are direct violations of our rights as NSG people under:
a. The UN Charter, in particular, Articles 1, 55 and 73e which addresses the rights of peoples in non self-governing territories who have not yet attained a full measure of self-government, and commands states administering them to “recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants are paramount.” Furthermore, that administering powers, accept as a “sacred trust” the obligation to develop self-government in the territories, taking due account of the political aspirations of the people.
b. UN Resolutions 1514 that states, the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination, and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the UN and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation.
c. UN Resolution 1541 affirming three ways NSGTs could attain a full measure of self-government that must be the result of the freely expressed wishes of the peoples of NSGTs.
d. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—the latest UN international human rights instrument to explicitly expand the universe of the holders of the right of self-determination with its Article 3 that specifically recognizes, using the classic formulation of the right of self-determination enshrined in the 1966 Human Rights Covenants, that indigenous peoples hold the right.
e. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, (known collectively as the 1966 Human Rights Covenants) that enshrine self-determination as a right.
f. And, other relevant UN documents on decolonization.
Clearly, the US continues to behave contrary to its concrete UN obligations as the administering Power over Guam. There is no mistaking that US dominance and subordination of Guam is a consequence of US military power dynamics over the Asia-Pacific region. And, without the United Nations assertion of its moral authority and oversight of its non self-governing territory of Guam, our home island and our people will continue to be treated as inferior having no sovereignty or agency in relation to US foreign policy and security interests. Gone unchallenged, the possibility of a free, decolonized and self-governing Guam will be sealed and buried under by our own administering Power.
At his opening statement of the House Armed Services Committee hearing on March 25, 2010, Congressman Ike Skelton spoke about the rebasing of U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam as “one of the largest movements of military assets in decades”—estimated to cost over ten billion dollars. He further stated that the changes being planned as part of that move will not only affect U.S. bilateral relationship with Japan; they will shape U.S. strategic posture throughout the critical Asia-Pacific region for 50 years or more. Congressman Skelton stated that the US “must be proactively engaged in the Asia-Pacific region on multiple fronts,” and that U.S. actions may well influence the choices and actions of others.”
For Guam, our exclusion from the decision made about the massive militarization of our island home through US military expansion and restructuring of its bases and military operations is unconscionable. Moreover, we have had no choice and no options offered vis-à-vis our colonial status or US actions having political implications on our colonial status. Guam is a colony and remains a colony until the Chamorro people is allowed to exercise our human right of self-determination and is allowed to decolonize.
IV. OUR HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
Mr. Chairman, the U.S. military’s militarization plans bodes great harm for the people and our island home environment. These plans include the construction of facilities and structure to support the full spectrum of warfare training for some 8,600 marines (and their dependants) being relocated from Okinawa to Guam; the construction of a deep-draft wharf in Guam’s only harbor to provide for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, destroying over 287,000 sqm (71 acres) of healthy and endangered coral reef; the construction of an Army Missile Defense Task Force modeled on the Marshall Islands-based Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, for the practice by US military personnel of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles; the forcible land-grabbing of an additional 2,200 acres of indigenous Chamorro land; the desecration of Pagat, one of Guam’s oldest ancient villages dating back to 2,000 B.C.; the dangerous over-tapping of Guam’s water system to include the drilling of 22 additional wells; and the denial of the most fundamental human right of the Chamorro people of Guam to self-determination.
The militarization plan calls for an alarming 80,000 new residents within the next five years. These new residents include the 8,600 Marines and 1,000 Army troops with 9,000 of their dependents and large numbers of construction workers that will add to our current 180,000 residents. This is obviously not about demographics alone as we see US hegemony flourish and cultural genocide work for the administering power. As non-US citizens after WWII, we were over 95% of the population. As United States citizens 50 years later, our population is reduced to 42% (2000 Census). Five years ago, we comprised some 35% of our home population. But with the new US plan, the Chamorro population can be expected to drop to around 24%! This is perhaps the most plausible reason why all information impacting our people’s lives were kept secret until the official release of the draft environmental impact study last November 20, 2009.
This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (OEIS) was intended to, “assess the potential environmental effects associated with the proposed military activities” (DEIS, Executive Summary, Abstract) for the relocation of US marines to Guam, enhancement of infrastructure and logistic capabilities, improvement of pier/waterfront infrastructure for transient US Navy nuclear aircraft carrier (CVN) and placement of US Army ballistic missile defense (BMD) task force. It is supposed to report the overall impacts that the military’s plans will have on Guam’s environment. It was a document of 11,000 pages and we were given a 90-day window to comment (ending Feb. 17, 2010) with a Final EIS to be completed in July and a Record of Decision to be released in 30 days.
The selective and exclusive sharing of information on the military’s plans prevented our full participation and served to silence our voices in this critical process. The community scrambled to respond to the 11,000-page report within the rigid schedule. The “record speed” of a two-year environmental impact study for such unprecedented militarization of a non self-governing territory was obviously suspect. We were not told about the 80,000 people or that the US had planned to go outside their existing footprint. At the public outreach meetings, hundreds spoke resoundingly against the military’s plans. At the close of the public comment window, the military received over 10,000 comments from various indigenous Chamorro groups, community members and stakeholders and other external stakeholders.
The fear of being overwhelmed by the construction of a new US Marine base has permeated the community. In reference to the local government’s costs grossly underfunded in the plan, Lt. Governor Michael Cruz, M.D. who himself is a Colonel in the Army National Guard, stated “Our nation knows how to find us when it comes to war and fighting for war, but when it comes to war preparations—which is what the military buildup essentially is—nobody seems to know where Guam is.” Government officials put the total direct and indirect costs of coping with the military buildup at about $3 billion, including $1.7 billion to improve roads and $100 million to expand the already overburdened public hospital.
Last January 22, the 30th Guam Legislature adopted a resolution expressing the “strong and abiding opposition of the Guam Legislature and the People of Guam to any use of eminent domain [condemnation] for the purpose of obtaining Guam lands for either the currently planned military buildup or other U.S. Federal Government purposes, or both.” Copies were transmitted to the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, the President Pro-Tem of the U.S. Senate, to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and other officials. Another resolution (No. 275-30 (LS)) was introduced and adopted relative to presenting to President Obama and the US Congress, the sentiments expressed by the people of Guam regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Guam military build-up; to enumerating the findings of the Legislature that have led to the conclusion that the DEIS is grossly flawed; to providing a list of essential elements which must be favorably resolved; to restate Guam’s agenda of priority concerns relative to federal-territorial issues that must be addressed concurrently with the buildup; and to asserting additional findings on actionable items relative to the DEIS.
Of grave concern is the fact that Chamorro self-determination and decolonization was not even addressed by the military in the DEIS and the fact that decisions have been made in the context of a huge power imbalance in which the US has the ultimate decision-making power with the social, cultural and political implications to the Chamorro community being grossly understated. It is no secret that the US and its military representatives are fully cognizant of the irreversible and significant consequences that their decision will have on its colonial people. Broad concerns relating to local infrastructure, environmental, labor and workforce, socio-economic and health and human services are being discussed among government and military officials. But the difference is: The US has completely ignored the negative implications to its colonial people’s human, political and legal right to self-determination. Just as select private businesses collectively predict positive gain by Guam’s militarization, the Chamorro people alone have historically and will predictably bear the unequal proportion of the burden.
On the last day of the public comment period, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued the lowest possible rating of the DEIS of “environmentally unsatisfactory” and providing “inadequate information.” In its strongly worded six-page letter, the US EPA stated that “The impacts are of sufficient magnitude that..…action should not proceed as proposed and improved analyses are necessary to ensure the information in the EIS is adequate to fully inform decision makers.” Specifically, the EPA stated that the military’s plan would lead to:
a. A shortfall in Guam’s water supply, resulting in low water pressure that would expose people to water borne diseases from sewage.
b. Increased sewage flows to wastewater plants already failing to comply with the Clean Water Act regulations.
c. More raw sewage spills that would contaminate the water supply and the ocean.
d. “Unacceptable impacts” to the 287,000 sqm (71 acres) of a high quality coral reef.
But even with this indictment of its draft EIS, the military continues with its military expansion and restructuring plans today.
In Congress, Guam’s delegate introduced a bill that would provide for public education on Guam’s political status options. This bill was amended in the House of Representatives and now includes the other two NSGT’s: American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands and would “include but not (be) limited to the 3 internationally recognized options.
The implication is that the educational program could also include other options, albeit not defined in the bill. There is no reference to any referendums nor provision of a specific budget although Congressional estimate of the costs is some $2 million in the next 5 years for all the territories. It remains to be seen what will happen in the US Senate.
If the draft Guam Commonwealth bill or the Guam War Reparations bill or the bill to amend the US Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (to give compensation to the “down winders” (Guam included)) are any example, it will end up taking many forms over many years without resolution or action. Only time will tell. And, time, Mr. Chairman is not on our side.
The Question of Guam shall remain a question of Chamorro self-determination and decolonization for Guam. As a process of decolonization, the exercise of Chamorro self-determination must necessarily occur outside the influences of the administering Power and with the cooperation of the United Nations.
We make the following recommendations to this seminar:
1. That the inalienable right of the Chamorro people of Guam to self-determination in conformity with all relevant UN documents be given utmost priority by the Special Committee on Decolonization in view of the administering power’s massive militarization planned from 2010 to 2014.
2. That a customized process of decolonization for the Chamorro people of Guam be immediately adopted in view of the severe irreversible impacts on Guam by the US administering power.
3. That an investigation be conducted as to the compliance of the administering power with its treaty obligations under the Charter of the United Nations to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territories as related earlier in this text.
4. That a study must be conducted on the implications of US militarization plans on Guam’s decolonization and that UN funding be allocated immediately.
5. That the UN denounce the militarization of the non-self-governing territory of Guam without the consent of the people of Guam due to irreparable harm to the inalienable human rights of the Chamorro people and interests of the people of Guam.
6. That a work programme be adopted by the Special Committee to carry out its objectives for the decolonization of Guam.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and delegations for the opportunity to make this presentation. My people’s journey towards decolonization is at a very critical juncture. We can only rely on the United Nations to assure that the US live up to its obligations under the United Nations Charter and to its promise of self-determination and decolonization for the people of Guam.
May 28, 2010
U.N. Official To Call For End Of CIA Drone Strikes
by Corey Flintoff
May 28, 2010
A soon-to-be-released United Nations report will call into question the use of unmanned aircraft for targeted killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The report, to be released next week by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, will call on the United States to stop allowing the Central Intelligence Agency to carry out drone attacks on suspected militants.
The special rapporteur, New York University law professor Philip Alston, told The New York Times that the CIA does not have the public accountability that’s required of the U.S. military. Alston says the use of the drones and their firepower should be restricted to the armed forces.
Alston told The Associated Press that he sees “no legal prohibition on CIA agents” piloting the remotely controlled aircraft, but that the practice is undesirable because the C.I.A. doesn’t comply with “any of the requirements as to transparency and accountability which are central to international humanitarian law.”
A CIA spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, responded. “Without discussing or confirming any specific action or program, this agency’s operations unfold within a framework of law and close government oversight. The accountability’s real, and it would be wrong for anyone to suggest otherwise,” he said.
Alston, an Australian, is expected to deliver his report on the subject to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.
He told the Times that the report will not say it is a war crime for nonmilitary personnel to fly combat drones, but some legal experts have said the pilots who operate the aircraft for the CIA could be liable for criminal prosecution.
David Glazier, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says he agrees that the drone strikes are not war crimes. But he says that the CIA pilots who fly the drones could be regarded as common criminals. “They have no legal authority to be killing anyone,” Glazier says. “They have committed the crime of murder under Pakistan’s law.”
Glazier says that the issue comes down to who is considered a “privileged belligerent” in a conflict. Soldiers in organized armies are considered privileged belligerents who can’t be prosecuted for war crimes if they kill enemy soldiers in battle.
But someone who doesn’t wear a uniform, or belong to an army — such as a member of a terrorist group, or a civilian CIA pilot — might be prosecuted for murder, Glazier says.
That comment drew a response from a U.S. official: “Those who think we strike at terrorists over the objections of the Pakistani government are mistaken. This is a common fight against those who menace both our countries. That fact alone renders absurd the notion that U.S. officials might be tried in a Pakistani court for counterterrorism operations.”
The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity because the United States has never officially acknowledged that the CIA has a program to use Predator drones and other remotely controlled aircraft to attack suspected Taliban and al-Qaida militants, but the program has been widely reported in U.S. media.
Last December, U.S. counterterrorism officials told reporters that the Obama administration had approved an expansion of the program, which has been credited with the killings of militant figures such as Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, who reportedly died in a CIA drone attack.
Most recently, security officials in Pakistan said a U.S. drone attack killed six militants in a village in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan.
May 12, 2010
A dugong, the endangered sea manatee of Okinawa, a sacred animal deity that is recounted in ancient Okinawan songs, was recently seen in Henoko, proposed site of the military base relocation from Futenma. A ho’ailona (sign)?
Meanwhile, Carolyn Raffensperger, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network., asks “what is sacred?” She reflects on the new science that is showing how environmental contamination can be linked to many diseases formerly blamed on “lifestyle choices”. She also refers the recent adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the protections it enshrines for indigenous peoples of the world. Not mentioned in Raffensperger’s article is another clause referring to militarization:
1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned.
2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.
In Hawai’i, the military destruction of sacred places like Lihu’e, Mauna Kea, Makua and Mokapu continues despite protests. Clearly in the case of Okinawa, Guahan/Guam, Hawai’i, these conditions were not met.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
See the following link from Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting news report!
Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting (QAB) captured a Dugong, swimming in the Eastern Coast of Nago City.
Both Environmental Ministry and Defense Ministry have admitted that the ocean area from Henoko Bay to Kayo Bay is “the important sea area for the inhabitant of Dugong.”
The Nature Conservation Society of Japan is warning that, “seagrass beds, which feed dugong, are distributed in the shallows in front of the Camp Schweb. Therefore, even the pier plan proposed by the government, surely vanish the seagrass beds. Moreover, change of sea current would possibly vanish the distribution of the seagrass.”
Thursday, May 6, 2010
What is Sacred?
The following article has been written by Carolyn Raffensperger, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network.
What is sacred? What does the law recognize as sacred? These were the questions that haunted me yesterday, the third full day of the delegation’s trip to Nevada and Arizona to join with indigenous people to protect sacred sites from defilement and desecration.
Our first stop was at a uranium mine owned by Dennison Mines Corp.
The mine is one of the stand-by projects of Dennison. The corporation is awaiting the price of uranium to go up and the boom of nuclear power to resume. Dennison, according to its website, “enjoys a global portfolio of world-class exploration projects…” The problem is that the neighbors of the mine, in this case Navajo and Havasupai do not enjoy the exploration or the mining. The legacy of uranium mining in the Southwest is grievous. Cancer, contaminated land, and water are the consequences of six decades of a nuclear weapons program and nuclear power. Indigenous people bear the brunt of the environmental problems associated with uranium mining.
This is personal for me. One of my dearest friends, an indigenous woman, grew up playing in the mine tailings near Tuba City AZ. Monday she had surgery for her third cancer. She is in her 30s. The mining official we met with yesterday argued that the uranium miners’ high cancer rate was caused by their smoking rather than the radioactivity associated with the radon in the mines or the uranium itself.
The old argument that most cancers are a result of lifestyle “choices” is increasingly discredited by science. Just today the President’s Cancer Panel, a distinguished group of scientists issued a new report on environmental causes of cancer. Radon is fingered as one of the culprit carcinogens.
Northern Arizona is full of places sacred to the Hopi, Navajo, Havasupai and other tribes that have called this place home for millennia. But it is also pock marked by uranium mines and old mine tailings. Over 10,000 new uranium mine claims were staked between 2005 and 2009.
U.S. law, particularly the antiquated General Mining Act of 1872 treats all mines and potential mines as part of the wild frontier, the cowboy west. There are few barriers to mines except some procedural hoops that might delay a mine from opening for a few months or years.
The tribes consider this land to be sacred. There are springs and mountains, canyons and buttes that hold the religion, the stories and the histories of these people. It is the relationship of a community of humans to a place that makes that place sacred. Yet U.S. law only recognizes religion, which amounts to beliefs held by individuals. Indigenous spirituality is made up of the web of exquisitely-tended relationships that manifest and express beliefs.
We are only beginning to shape laws to reflect the sacred. The U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People includes this statement:
“Article 25: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.”
While not law in the United States, the Declaration sets the standard for how the law should treat the sacred places and relationships of indigenous people. The Declaration was not signed by the United States because it clashes with the U.S. private property regime. Private property trumps the sacred. Uranium mining trumps the rights of indigenous people to care for their springs and their holy sites.
The question of what is sacred sometimes only surfaces when we see what has been defiled–the rage we feel when we think a cancer might have been prevented, or an ocean might not have been polluted. How could we contaminate the very land from which we live? How can we contaminate the bodies of our children? How can we defile the places where we bury the dead? How can we destroy the places of great beauty and much history? All of these are sacred. We know this in our hearts.
January 17, 2010
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Affairs recently released a major report on the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Click here to download the UN State of Indigenous peoples summary of the 250 page report. Go to the link below to download the full document.
State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous peoples contribute extensibly to humanity’s cultural diversity, enriching it withmore than two thirds of its languages and an extrordinary amount of its traditional knowledge.
There are over 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries, living in all regions of the world. The situation of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world is critical today. Poverty rates are significantly higher among indigenous peoples compared to other groups. While they constitute 5 per cent of the world’s population, they are 15 per cent of the world’s poor. Most indicators of well-being show that indigenous peoples suffer disproportinately compared to non-indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples face systemic discrimination and exclusion from political and economic power; they continue to be over-represented among the poorest, the illiterate, the destitute; they are displaced by wars and environmental disasters; indigenous peoples are dispossessed of their ancestral lands and deprived of their resources for survival, both physical and cultural; they are even robbed of their very right to life.
In more modern versions of market exploitation, indigenous peoples see their traditional knowledge and cultural expressions marketed and patented without their consent or participation.
Of the some 7,000 languages today, it is estimated that more than 4,000 are spoken by indigenous peoples. Language specialists predict that up to 90 per cent of the world’s languages are likely to become extinct or threatened with extinction by the end of the century.
Although the state of the world’s indigenous peoples is alarming, there is some cause for optimism. The international community increasingly recognizes indigenous peoples’ human rights, most prominently evidenced by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples themselves continue to organize for the promotion of their rights. They are the stewards of some of the world’s most biologically diverse areas and their traditional knowledge about the biodibversity of these areas is invaluable. As the effects of climate change are becoming clearer, it is increaslingly evident that indigenous peoples must play a central role in developing adaptation and mitigation efforts to this global challenge.
The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is the result of a collaborative effort, organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Chapters were written by independent experts.
Foreword by Mr. Sha Zukang Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs
Introduction by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Chapter I: Poverty and Well Being by Joji Carino
Chapter II: Culture by Naomi Kipuri
Chapter III: Environment by Neva Collings
Chapter IV: Contemporary Education by Duane Champagne
Chapter V: Health by Myrna Cunningham
Chapter VI: Human Rights by Dalee Sambo Dorough
Chapter VII: Emerging Issues by Mililani Trask
September 25, 2009
This website has links to many documents related to the U.N. Security Council resolution on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
This has been an historic week at the United Nations. The US President chairing a summit of the Security Council and its adoption of a far reaching resolution on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is extraordinary. Moreover, it is indicative that we are on the road towards a safer planet.
The Global Security Institute offers this special e-alert that we hope you find informative, including a Huffington Post op/ed by Jonathan Granoff and Rhianna Kreger, articles by Tyler-Wigg Stevenson and Jim Wurst, links to the statements by world leaders and the historic documents that were adopted this week.
Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr. Ambassador Robert Grey, Jr.
Chairman, Bipartisan Security Group Director, Bipartisan Security Group
- “One Small Step for the Council, One Giant Leap for Humankind,” by Jonathan Granoff and Rhianna Tyson Kreger, Huffington Post.
- “No Nukes is Good Nukes,” by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Relevant magazine.
- “The Test-Ban Treaty, Inching Toward Full Approval,” by Jim Wurst, UNA-USA World Bulletin.
- UN-TV segment on CTBT (3:02)
September 25, 2009
Joseph Gerson posted this analysis of President Obama’s speech and resolution adopted at the athe U.N. Security Council on nuclear disarmament.
As we are making sense of the President Obama’s speech and the resolution adopted yesterday in the U.N. Security Council, as well as today’s focus on Iran’s covert enrichment facility, among other articles, I found the report in today’s New York Times helpful. I was particularly struck by Matthew Bunn’s statement that, “Today’s resolution had a different purpose….It was intended to win unanimous political support for remaking the nonproliferation treaty, strengthening inspections and getting everyone behind the idea of securing all nuclear materials in four years. And they got that agreement.”
The focus is on non-proliferation, even as some momentum toward a nuclear weapons free future – “perhaps not in [his] lifetime” is built. Note, among other aspects of his speach, his pointed reference to Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn in his Security Council speech.
Last I heard, President Obama is planning to have the debate over CTBT ratification during next year’s NPT Review conference. [Others may have more up to date information on the scheduling. If so, please chime in.] One can read yesterday’s speech and resolution, in part, as building pressure on the Senate (and seeking to win Republican votes for) CTBT ratification. I believe that Obama’s decision on sending more troops to, or beginning withdrawal from, Afghanistan may be the most critical decision of Obama’s presidency. As Caleb Rossiter put it last week, “Asian wars are the graveyard of social reform in the United States.” With good reason analogies to Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam are being made. After Afghanistan, winning a clean CTBT may prove to be as critical as the current health care debate in Congress in making or breaking Obama’s presidency. Without winning ratification, his vision and promises of a nuclear free future will be severely undermined, not only within the U.S. but globally, and there will be renewed incentive for some non-nuclear nations to break out of the NPT, and for the four nuclear powers which are outside of the NPT (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) to remain there.
At this stage, my guess is that Obama will continue to use the NPT Review conference as a means to, among other things, win ratification of the CTBT (clean or not,) and that if the Senate debate is held during the Review Conference, and the votes are not there for ratification, the final vote will be delayed in order to lock in what can be won in terms of non-proliferation at the review conference.
In any event, the full New York Times article follows,
American Friends Service Committee
Security Council Adopts Nuclear Arms Measure
By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: September 24, 2009
PITTSBURGH – President Obama moved Thursday to tighten the noose around Iran, North Korea and other nations that have exploited gaping loopholes in the patchwork of global nuclear regulations. He pushed through a new United Nations Security Council resolution that would, if enforced, make it more difficult to turn peaceful nuclear programs into weapons projects.
Some developing and nonnuclear nations bridled at the idea of Security Council mandates and talked of a “nuclear free zone” in the Middle East. That is widely recognized as a code phrase for requiring Israel to give up its unacknowledged nuclear arsenal.
The Security Council meeting was the last major business at the United Nations before Mr. Obama arrived here for an economic summit meeting of the Group of 20. It capped three days of intensive diplomacy leading up to the first direct negotiations with Iran in decades that will involve a representative of the United States, scheduled for next Thursday.
But Mr. Obama used the meeting to broaden the issue, hoping to stop an incipient arms race in the region and rewrite outdated treaties, starting with a review of the 1972 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty next year.
“This is not about singling out an individual nation,” Mr. Obama said. “International law is not an empty promise, and treaties must be enforced.”
Yet Iran was the subtext of every conversation.
At the end of Mr. Obama’s three days of public and private arm-twisting, it was still unclear how many other leaders were committed to what the White House once called “crippling sanctions” against Iran if it continued making nuclear fuel and refused to respond to questions about evidence it worked on the design of a nuclear weapon.
Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, sounded more open to supporting sanctions at a meeting with Mr. Obama in New York. But that position seemed at odds with statements last week by Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who regularly angered President George W. Bush for his refusal to sign on to sanctions that might seize the attention of Iran’s ruling elite.
Mr. Medvedev spoke generally, and did not embrace any specific ideas for sanctions, including discussion of cutting off Iran’s access to refined gasoline imports.
More mysterious is whether Mr. Obama persuaded China’s president, Hu Jintao.
“We’ve been trying to convince him that if this gets out of control, China’s own interests – especially in oil – will be hurt, so they better get involved,” one senior aide to Mr. Obama said.
But Mr. Hu talked instead at Thursday’s meetings of arms cuts among the major powers, noting that China possesses only “the minimum number of nuclear weapons” needed for its own security.
And while the White House celebrated the passage of a new Security Council resolution that “encouraged” countries to enforce new restrictions on the transfer of nuclear material and technology, the measure stopped well short of authorizing forced inspections of countries believed to be developing weapons.
In that regard, the resolution was less specific, as well as less stringent, than the last broad nuclear resolution passed, in 2004 under President Bush, known as Resolution 1540. That resolution required countries to secure their nuclear materials and supplies, and pass laws restricting their export.
“Today’s resolution had a different purpose,” said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. “It was intended to win unanimous political support for remaking the nonproliferation treaty, strengthening inspections and getting everyone behind the idea of securing all nuclear materials in four years. And they got that agreement.”
Mr. Obama accomplished that goal in part by acknowledging that the United States was part of the nuclear problem and would have to accept limits on its own arsenal – steps Mr. Bush always rejected. Mr. Obama committed to winning Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which President Bill Clinton could not get through the Senate, and acknowledged that the United States had an obligation under the treaty to move toward elimination of its own arsenal. The Bush administration had argued that this was dangerous in the extreme.
The test ban treaty appears bound for tremendous resistance in the Senate, where it was narrowly defeated during the Clinton administration.
The divisions on how to regulate nuclear trafficking appeared clear during the Security Council session as the leaders of nuclear-armed and nonnuclear states, in scripted remarks, described very different agendas.
Two of Mr. Obama’s closest allies in the confrontation with Iran, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, told the Security Council that if Iran continued to flout resolutions ordering it to halt its nuclear work, the Security Council would have little credibility.
Mr. Sarkozy was particularly passionate, arguing that years of gradually escalating sanctions against Iran resulted only in “more enriched uranium, more centrifuges, and a declaration” by Iranian leaders to “wipe a U.N. member state off the map,” a reference to Israel. He cited North Korea as a case of international failure, a country that has been the subject of Security Council resolutions since 1993, and in that time has conducted two nuclear tests and harvested enough nuclear fuel for what American intelligence agencies estimate could be 8 to 12 weapons.
Iran, in a statement a few hours after the Council meeting adjourned, rejected Mr. Sarkozy’s claim that it was seeking weapons.
The session was capped with a plea from the departing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, who told the Security Council that the world’s nuclear inspectors were working from a paltry budget, with outdated equipment and with insufficient powers to compel inspections.
“We often cannot verify whether a nation is pursuing weapons capability,” he complained.
Missing from the Security Council event was Israel. But its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told the General Assembly this week that “the most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge?”
Left unsaid was the possibility that if negotiations and sanctions fail, Israel might seek to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, a possibility Mr. Obama has been trying to head off. But at the same time, his representatives in New York were clearly using the possibility to political advantage, hoping it could spur the Security Council to action.
Andrew Jacobs contributed reporting from Beijing and David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Boston.
August 13, 2009
Check out the “Statehood Countdown” at StatehoodHawaii.org. Arnie Saiki has dug up interesting historical documents about the discussions and politics of Hawai’i being designated a state of the U.S. The countdown begins with the August 1st, 2009 post and continues for 21 days. Anti-communism was one of the big factors shaping U.S. policies regarding Hawai’i and Alaska.