Posted by Antonio C. S. Rosa, Editor – TRANSCEND Media Service – 23 November 2015*
The Barcelona Declaration – Refugees: Meeting the Challenge to Our Humanity
We, the Nobel Peace Laureates and Peace Organisations, in the presence of youth from all over the world, gathered together in Barcelona from 12 – 15 November 2015, have considered issues affecting world peace – with special emphasis on the current refugee and migration crisis.
We are profoundly shocked and outraged by the barbaric killing of more than 150 innocent people in Paris on the evening of 13 November. We express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with the families of the victims and with the people of France.
This outrageous attack stresses the urgent need to address the root causes of the current refugee crisis and insecurity in the world. This situation should not be abused to demonise refugees and the Muslim community.
As Nobel Peace Laureates and Laureate organisations we join with millions of individuals, organisations, communities and cities who every day make a difference by working for a better and more peaceful world.
We collectively raise our voices in compassion for the millions of refugees who have been forced to leave their homes. We affirm that the manner in which we honour and protect their inherent dignity and human rights is a measure of our own humanity.
We are particularly concerned about the plight of women and children whose lives have been devastated by conflict, repression and deprivation. We must and can eliminate the conditions that compel people to leave from their homes.
The refugee and migration crisis does not exist in isolation. It is a symptom of the broader problems that confront humanity that include
- continuing conflict in many countries;
- the consequences of militarism, extreme nationalism and the use of force and proxy wars by global powers in pursuit of strategic, financial and ideological interests;
- distorted religious beliefs that lead to horrific acts of violence;
- the failure of governance characterised by rampant corruption, persecution and the absence of democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law;
- the gross inequalities in opportunities and in economic and social wellbeing between and within the so-called developed and developing countries;
- the failure to accommodate, tolerate and appreciate the value of religious, cultural and ethnic diversity;
- the growing impact of climate change that will increasingly threaten food security and disrupt the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the most vulnerable societies; and
- the criminal exploitation of refugees by human smugglers.
We believe that many of these problems can be solved if the international community fulfils its commitment to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that nations have already adopted as the framework for a comprehensive, practical and achievable path to a secure and peaceful future.
We also call on the international community to
- address the root causes of the refugee and migration crisis while assuring access to asylum;
- redouble efforts to bring peace to Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Ukraine, Palestine/Israel, Somalia, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and other societies in conflict in a process that includes the peoples involved – especially women – and concerned nations;
- denounce and reject the use of distorted religious doctrines and ideologies to justify violence by placing perverted beliefs above compassion and other universal values;
- ensure that refugee children have adequate access to education and health care;
- promote good governance based on respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law;
- prevent ethnic conflict and repression by recognising the value of diversity and by protecting the rights of minorities;
- achieve and implement international agreements to combat climate change that bind all elements of society including government, business, finance and the military – with special focus on the forthcoming conference in Paris;
- identify and prosecute those responsible for human smuggling; and
- provide much greater support to countries bordering conflict areas which are hosting refugees – and underfunded humanitarian organisations aiding refugees.
True security will never be achieved by military force or by the possession and threat of nuclear weapons. It requires adherence to international humanitarian law and global cooperation in meeting the authentic needs of humanity. We call on the nations of the world to
- redirect each year at least 10% of annual military expenditure of over 1.8 trillion dollars to implement the programs required for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals;
- implement fully the Arms Trade Treaty and end illicit arms trading;
- put an immediate end to any new arms race – especially the modernisation of nuclear arsenals and the pursuit of fully autonomous weapons systems; and
- fulfil the legal obligation to commence negotiations now to eliminate nuclear weapons.
True personal, national and global security is found in the practical application of compassion.
We Nobel Peace Laureates and Laureate Organizations remain seized of and address more fully these specific critical issues in the following Appendix:
- The Sustainable Development Goals:
The nations of the world have collectively agreed to a set of goals to be obtained by 2030. These commitments when put into practice will be a model of cooperative security. It is worthwhile to list the specific goals and their underlying policy commitments, targets, and demand political leaders enact programs to achieve them. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on September, 25, 2015, contains 17 Goals and 169 associated targets (http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/69/L.85&Lang=E)
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-1/>
- End hunger, achieve food securityand improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-2.html>
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-beingfor all at all ages <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-3.html>
- Ensure inclusiveand equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-4.html>
- Achieve gender equalityand empowerall women and girls <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-5.html>
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-6.html>
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-7.html>
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent workfor all <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-8.html>
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrializationand foster innovation <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-9.html>
- Reduce inequalitywithin and among countries <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-10.html>
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-11.html>
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-12.html>
- Take urgent action to combat climate changeand its impacts <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-13.html>
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resourcesfor sustainable development <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-14.html>
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversityloss <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-15.html>
- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justicefor all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-16.html>
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-17.html
2. Nuclear Disarmament
Nine nations: United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, United States, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea possess and currently threaten to use nuclear weapons. There are around 16,000 of these horrific devices, with over 95% possessed by Russia and the United States. There is a legal obligation to negotiate their universal elimination contained in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and clearly set forth in a unanimous decision of the International Court of Justice.
Heightened tensions in volatile parts of the world, including Ukraine, the Middle East and South Asia, have raised concerns that regional conflicts could escalate out of control, leading to the use of nuclear weapons. Moreover, we know that the medical and environmental consequences of even a regional nuclear war would be unprecedented in scale and scope and would render an effective humanitarian response impossible. If less than 1% of the world’s 16,000 nuclear weapons were to be used in a conflict, a cooling of the earth’s atmosphere and the ensuing Nuclear Famine would not only lead to 2 billion deaths by starvation around the world, but also escalate existing conflicts over limited resources and intensify the refugee crisis beyond all managable dimensions. The prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons is therefore first and foremost a humanitarian obligation.
International Humanitarian Law prohibits the use of any weapon in a manner that does not discriminate between civilians and combatants or inflicts unnecessary suffering. Furthermore, it is illegal to threaten populated areas with weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons violate these prohibitions. Their horrific capacity for destruction renders the threat of their use immoral and in breach of International Humanitarian Law. Policies founded on this threat are an unstable, unacceptable manner of pursuing security.
The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty requires the prohibition and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons. The nuclear-armed states have failed to comply with these nuclear disarmament obligations. They must be called to account by the international community and compelled to act responsibly. In the past two years, a new momentum has built up in the movement to ban and abolish nuclear weapons. Three international state conferences in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna provided much of the expert evidence that has now been summarized and submitted to the 2015 NPT Review Conference and to the 70th session of the UN General Assembly as the humanitarian basis for nuclear disarmament.
A “Humanitarian Pledge”, launched at the conclusion of the Vienna conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons in December of 2014, has already been joined by 121 states. The Pledge identifies a legal gap that has enabled the nuclear-armed states to evade compliance with their disarmament obligations and calls for action to close that gap in order to “stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate nuclear weapons.” We are inspired by the Five Point plan of United Nations Secretary Genearl Ban Ki-moon which calls for a convention or framework of legal instruments eliminating nuclear weapons as well as the powerful new insight of Pope Francis and the Holy See which has identified the possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons to be immoral. Its analysis is that deterrence theory which serves to justify possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons is premised on the intent, readiness and willingness to annihilate millions of innocent people and that such a posture cannot be considered moral, therefor both the threat to use as well as the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral.
As Nobel Peace Laureates, we urge all States to join the Humanitarian Pledge, to make the evidence about the consequences of nuclear weapons a central focus of political and diplomatic process to ban and eliminate them, and to build upon the momentum of this new humanitarian initiative in order to ensure that there are no further delays on the road to a nuclear-weapons-free world
Pending the obtaining of the legal, verifiable, enforceable elimination of these weapons and consistent with commitments already made under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to diminish the Role of nuclear weapons in security policies, we urge non-first use pledges and a Security Council resolution prohibiting targeting populated areas. Furthermore, pending entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, we urge a Security Council resolution deciding that no state may engage in nuclear weapons explosive testing.
We also commend strongly the hard work of the diplomats and the success obtained by the Security Council Resolution 2231 on Iran that prevents further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East Diplomatic efforts were equally successful in ending Syria’s chemical weapons program and demonstrate that when the political support and will is there, solutions to pressing security threats can be achieved. We urge such commitment to the commencement of negotiations on the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. Such an endeavor must begin now and can take place simultaneously at multiple forums. We commend the creation of the Open Ended Working Group in the UN General Assembly with a mandate to “substantively address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that will be need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons” and hope it will energize nuclear abolition efforts.
We condemn the billions of dollars that several nuclear weapons states are committing to spending to modernize their arsenals as well as the arm race such actions are stimulating.
- Climate Change:
The recent 5th Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sent three overarching messages to the world: 1) Human influence on the climate system is clear, and growing, 2) we must act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid increasingly destructive outcomes and 3) we have the means to limit climate change and build a better future. The report addressed explicitly the implications of climate change on human security, including migration, displacement and violent conflicts. The key findings of the IPCC in this regard are as follows:
Climate change over the 21st century is projected to increase displacement of people. Displacement risks increase when populations that lack the resources for planned migration experience higher exposure to extreme weather events, in both rural and urban areas, particularly in developing countries with low income. Expanding opportunities for mobility can reduce vulnerability for such populations. Changes in migration patterns can be responses to both extreme weather events and longer-term climate variability and change. However, migration can also be an effective adaptation strategy.
Climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and inter-group violence by amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks. Multiple lines of evidence relate climate variability to these forms of conflict.
The impacts of climate change on the critical infrastructure and territorial integrity of many states are expected to influence national security policies. Some transboundary impacts of climate change, such as changes in sea ice, shared water resources, and pelagic fish stocks, have the potential to increase rivalry among states, but robust national and intergovernmental institutions can enhance cooperation and manage many of these rivalries.
Building a low-carbon world to stabilize the climate will create new opportunities for individuals, companies and countries to share.
Climate change will increasingly affect all citizens and economic sectors around the world and will hit the poor and least favored hardest.
It is therefor imperative that the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change to be held in Paris, France on 30 November-11 December 2015, establish a comprehensive agreement to support swift and decisive action by all member States to address adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.
*Submitted by TRANSCEND Member, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 November 2015: TRANSCEND Media Service – TMS: Statement of the 15th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates