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Why Vladimir Putin Favors Secretary Clinton in the American Presidential Campaign

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While the Trump campaign has vociferously applauded the Kremlin and its alleged support, the reality is that the joke is on Donald Trump.  The other reality is that Moscow would much prefer to deal Secretary Clinton as president.  Secretary Clinton is predictable, based not only on her tenure as Secretary of State from 2009 through 2013, but also during her eight years as First Lady from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001.

Mr. Putin has used dark public relations or “Black PR”, a process of destroying the target’s reputation. It started on December 15, 2015 when Mr. Putin issued a statement that stopped short of endorsing Mr. Trump for president, stating, “[Donald Trump is] a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt.  It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race.  He says he wants to move on to a new, more substantial relationship, a deeper relationship with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome that.”

While a recent WikiLeaks dump of 20,000 emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee has caused political sensation, it has never been proven that the documents were obtained from Russian intelligence.  This was followed by July 2016 media reports that the Kremlin had obtained all 31,830 emails sent from a private server by Secretary Clinton’s during her tenure as Secretary of State.  Even though Russian intelligence is considered to be the most capable nation-state cyberespionage and cyberwarfare power, it has not produced a single email. And, one must consider the fact that as Secretary of State, her private and government accounts both during and after her official tenure were actively monitored by U.S. intelligence officials to prevent hacking from ever occurring in the first instance.

“Those who follow Kremlin propaganda understand that it is not necessary for Putin to have Clinton’s e-mails to cause serious damage to a Clinton presidency… The Kremlin knows that repeated lies are eventually taken as truth, so that an unsourced narrative, repeated, will eventually become the “truth.”,” stated Paul Roderick Gregory, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford and Cullen Professor of Economics at the University of Houston specializing in Russian politics (Emphasis in Original).

As for Trump, many Russian scholars have depicted him as an undesirable wildcard, vastly unpredictable and not someone Mr. Putin has any intention of working with on sensitive matters affecting global stability and security.   Among the many comments made:

  • A lawmaker in Russia’s upper house of parliament speaking anonymously said a potential Trump presidency, “…sounds very attractive but it could end as a catastrophe for everyone. The problem? He is unpredictable.”
  • “Clearly the conservatives are pro-Trump, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the top people really want Trump. It could be incredibly disruptive. Can you imagine if all the things he has said come true?” I think that there are very few sane politicians of any kind, including Russians, who would actually want a Trump presidency. But they are enjoying the spectacle…,” said Maxim Trudolyubov, a senior fellow with the Kennan Institute.
  • Igor Ivanov, president of the Russian International Affairs Council, stated that a ““newcomer” would be harder to deal with: inconsistent, unpredictable, given to subjective and emotional decisions that can be very hard to rectify later on.”
  • Having a “…flighty and irascible populist who changes his mind three times a day” at the head of a nuclear superpower “may pose danger to the whole world and for Russia in particular,” opined Pavel Demidov, a professor at the Russian state MGIMO University.
  • Konstantin Kosachev, head of the international affairs committee in the Federation Council, stated that under a Trump presidency, “a certain window of possibilities may naturally appear. But not all those possibilities may be desirable… Trump is not predictable enough.”

Secretary Clinton is predictable.  While it is likely that she will continue many of Obama administration’s policies, she is also equally likely to be influenced by her husband, former President William Clinton.

During the Clinton Administration, the U.S.’s relationship with Russia vastly improved.  President Clinton enjoyed a cordial relationship Boris Yeltsin, with whom he met with on 18 occasions.

As Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton was responsible a “reset” in U.S. relations with then Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who served under then President Dmitry Medvedev, at a meeting held in Geneva.

In this March 6, 2009 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presents Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a device with a red button symbolizing the intention to “reset” U.S.-Russian relations during their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo, File)

Called the “Moscow Spring”, it revitalized the relationship with Russia resulting in a nuclear arms-control treaty and Russia acquiescing to NATO-led military intervention in Libya.  The Geneva meeting also resulted in a tentative agreement to resolve the Syrian War; an agreement the Obama Administration failed to back.

After Mr. Putin was elected a second time in 2012, protesters accused Mr. Putin of having rigged recent elections, Mr. Putin blamed Secretary Clinton, who had called the election results “dishonest and unfair” of giving “a signal” to demonstrators working “with the support of the U.S. State Department” to undermine his presidency. The decisive blow came when the U.S. sanctioned Russia on July 17 2014 based on unlawful aggressions in Ukraine and the shooting down of flight MH17.  In October 2014, Foreign Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that a reset of relations with the U.S. was “impossible”, and that relations had been damaged by “destructive” and “stupid” Western sanctions.

Going forward, what Secretary Clinton has thus far stated that the United States must work with Russia on issues of common interest whenever possible, like arms control, but also partner with allies to limit Russia’s transgressions when needed, as in Ukraine.  The United States should respond by strengthening the NATO alliance and improving the energy security of European states.  At no time, has Secretary Clinton called for further economic sanctions and has made no reference to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

In sum, more than a Trump presidency, the Kremlin may simply be enjoying watching the myriad of problems unfold, many of which seem illusory at best, in the American presidential race.  It is also likely that the propaganda war was not conceptualized to impact the American elections but, to serve as a subterfuge for the Kremlin’s aggressions in the European Union, most notably in Germany.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague writing for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive.  Her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

“Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and U.S.-Russian Relations,” Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State, as found on the www at https://history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/clinton-yeltsin.“Berlin’s mayor warns of growing AfD support”, August 21, 2016, DW, as found on the www athttp://www.dw.com/en/berlins-mayor-warns-of-growing-afd-support/a-19491229.

Clinton on the Issues, The Council for Foreign Relations, as found on the www at http://www.cfr.org/campaign2016/hillary-clinton/on-russia.

Gregory, Paul Roderick, “What If Vladimir Putin Has Hillary Clinton’s Emails?”, Forbes, February 12, 2016, as found on the www at http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2016/02/12/vladimir-putin-hillary-clinton-emails/#352c4cf57fe6.

Roth, Andrew, “The Kremlin may savor Trump – but still might prefer Clinton,” August 3, 2016, The Washington Post, as found on the www at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-kremlin-may-savor-trump—-but-still-might-prefer-clinton/2016/08/03/8395275c-58eb-11e6-8b48-0cb344221131_story.html?tid=a_inl.

Healing America’s Racial Divide

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Deep-seated hatreds, prejudices and inequities as to African-Americans have divided the America since the days of slavery.  The United States has never accepted responsibility and atoned for the vestiges of slavery, with prejudice and the disparate treatment of African Americans continuing to this very day despite civil rights legislation dating back to 1964.  For this reason, the United States remains plagued by racial problems. 

Almost every day appears another sad news story about an unarmed black man being unjustly shot or, after the fact, the utter unaccountability in the judicial system, giving rise to an unbridled rage now indiscriminately directed at police officers who are being murdered.  Historical monuments and symbols from the Civil War, which only commemorate “white history” are being desecrated, while similar monuments and symbols as to the suffering endured by African-Americans are sorely lacking. 

Our nation’s leaders – political, religious, educational and civic – at the local, state and federal level must come together to heal a nation that is fractured and hurting.  The means is through the creation of truth commissions.

What Is a Truth Commission?

A truth commission is a bilateral process between individuals, communities and nations.  Truth commissions are founded upon mutual goodwill allowing for open dialogue about past injustices and inequities. A truth commission works toward the releasing of historical hatreds and prejudices so that the process of healing may commence. 

When a truth commission is convened painful stories are shared by both the aggrieved and the offended, even if such grievances are historical in nature.  In all cases, a sincere apology is offered, whether it be for one’s own offenses or the offenses committed by one’s ancestors.  In many cases, reparations are made. 

“Cradle to Prison Pipeline”

The shootings of unarmed black men followed by a lack of accountability or redress in the legal system has become an endemic despite efforts by the United States Department of Justice to make some sense out of the senseless.  The numbers are bleak:  

  • Police killed 102 unarmed black people in 2015, nearly twice each week;
  • Nearly 1 in 3 black persons killed by police in 2015 was unarmed; although the actual number may be higher due to underreporting;
  • 37% of unarmed people killed by police were black in 2015 despite black people representing only 13% of the population:
  • Unarmed black people were killed at 5x the rate of unarmed whites in 2015;
  • Only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only 2 of these deaths resulted in the conviction of the officers involved;
  • The number of blacks killed has included an increase in the number of black female fatalities: and
  • In the first half of 2016, blacks continued to be shot at 2.5 times the rate of whites with less than 10 percent having been unarmed and one-quarter having been previously diagnosed as mentally ill.

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror of lynchings in the past.  Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” stated Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, Chair the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

The U.N. working group found that, in 2014, 37 percent of the state and federal prison populations were made up of black males. It suggested that the U.S. implement reforms, including reducing the use of mandatory minimum laws, ending racial profiling and excessive bail, and banning solitary confinement.

There are other salient statistics.  One in five American children live in poverty today, placing the U.S. as having the second highest child poverty rate among developed nations.  Among black children the poverty rate approximates 40 percent.  Ultimately, poverty creates a lack of hope among young black teenagers who have no expectation of living to maturity.  As such, a black male has a one in three probability of being incarcerated.  One out of nine black males will be imprisoned between the ages of 20 and 34.

“This is America’s pipeline to prison — a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment and often premature death. Although the majority of fourth graders cannot read at grade level, states spend about three times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil,” according to the Children’s Defense Fund.

“Arguably the most important parallel between mass incarceration and Jim Crow is that both have served to define the meaning and significance of race in America. Indeed, a primary function of any racial caste system is to define the meaning of race in its time. Slavery defined what it meant to be black (a slave), and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be black (a second-class citizen). Today mass incarceration defines the meaning of blackness in America: black people, especially black men, are criminals. That is what it means to be black,” penned Michelle Alexander, who coined the phrase “America’s cradle to prison pipeline”.

Lynchings and Other Vestiges of Slavery

Lynchings occurred as recently as 1950.  Between 1877 and 1950, in 12 southern states, there were 3,969 lynchings, 700 more than research previously indicated, according to civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, who authored a 2015 report, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).

The twelve states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia – have brushed this history under the rug while displaying monikers representative of white supremacy, practices that continue to this day.

The ancestors of many victims, fearing for their own lives, fled to the north.  For instance after a 1912 lynching in Forsyth County, Georgia, white vigilantes distributed leaflets demanding that all black people leave the county or suffer deadly consequences.  By 1920 the county’s black population had plummeted from 1100 to just thirty. This is a form of ethnic cleansing and it was a crime against humanity.

According to the EJI report, “The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s challenged the legality of many of the most racist practices and structures that sustained racial subordination but the movement was not followed by a continued commitment to truth and reconciliation.”

The Necessity for a Truth Commission Uniting America

“It’s difficult to deal emotionally with the history of slavery in America, which is why many whites have chosen not to. Yet it’s imperative that we do, because until we see clearly the line of development leading from slavery to the Civil War to the Ku Klux Klan to the civil rights movement to “benign neglect” to the “prison-industrial complex,” America will continue to misunderstand the real problem. This is not just about how many bullets were shot into Michael Brown. The shots that matter most here are way, way too many to count,” stated spiritualist Marianne Williamson.

The means to deal with this sordid history is through the creation of a truth commissions at the local, state and federal levels to address slavery and ongoing racial injustices and inequities.  Both sides have be willing to come to the table with goodwill and with the hope that they can build a better and more peaceful future for generations to come. 

While there have been a few truth commissions emanating from self-organizing community-based grassroots groups, the entire nation must be part of the process.  Examples of local efforts include the Greensboro, North Carolina Truth and Reconciliation Commission which exposed the truth of a 1979 massacre of anti-racism activists by the Ku Klux Klan, in which the local police were complicit. It collected testimonies from survivors, Klan members and the police.  It culminated in official apologies, public monuments, museum exhibits, a community justice center, a police review board, and anti-racism training for police. 

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There was also the Mississippi Truth Project, involving the racial misconduct of public officials between 1945 and 1975.  It created a safe place where a racially divided community could come together to engage in truth-telling and collective remedial action. 

It is now time for America to collectively engage in a truth commission. 

“This process of reconciliation is messy and challenging. But it is also a source of hope.  Through deep dialogue, truth-telling and taking action to make things as right as possible, we can forge new futures based on the mutual recognition of one another’s humanity.  In this way, we can finally leave our past behind us… To move toward a reconciled America, we have to do the work ourselves,” stated advocate Fania Davis.

Due to the complexity of the issues presented and widespread differences between communities, regions, and states, this must occur at many levels supported by not only the state and the federal governments, but also by religious, educational and civic leaders.

Examples of Truth Commissions

While this seems to be a monumental undertaking, there have been two successful truth commissions at the national level; one in Germany and the other in South Africa.  They are models for the United States to look to for guidance.

In South Africa truth commissions as the harm done by Apartheid were created by peacekeeper and statesman, the late Nelson Mandela.  In 1994, after Mr. Mandela was elected President of South Africa, he convened a Truth and Reconciliation Commission understanding that the greatest healing would come from three considerations: first, that uncovering the truth about atrocities and injuries that occurred during apartheid was a central component of healing; second, that truth would not be able to be found without the co-operation of the perpetrators; and third and lastly, that the hatred and retribution had to begin to end with one side or the other.

South African author Colleen Scott reflected on the post-Apartheid era, “Reconciliation after war and a hideously grotesque pattern of gross violations of human rights is a matter of creating peace in the present, and of sustaining peace in the future…  In and of itself, no Truth Commission can create reconciliation.  Much less can a Truth Commission create peace.  However, they do create conditions which make reconciliation and peaceful coexistence possible… The TRC has made it possible for the citizens of this country to begin to understand why people participated in such grotesque actions, and it has made clear what must be done to prevent such things from happening again…  This was accomplished [by the TRC choosing] to work with a restitutive, rather than a retributive concept of justice.”

In Germany truth commissions successfully redressed the wrongs committed during Hitler’s Nazi reign.  After World War II, Germany fell into a period scholar Lily Gardner Feldman refers to as the “big silence”; their country had been divided and what remained was morally and physically shattered. 

“The country was beyond bankrupt as the gruesome details of the Nazis’ systematic murder of 11 million Jews, Poles, Russians, Roma, homosexuals, and others were exposed,” stated Ms. Feldman. 

Amidst the rubble, some chose to try burying the sordid past while others started a grassroots movement that evolved into a national initiative.  Germany proactively rehabilitated its post-war international reputation by reconciling with Nazi victims and acknowledging the atrocities Germany had committed. 

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently stated, “”We Germans will never forget the hand of reconciliation that was extended to us after all the suffering that our country had brought to Europe and the world.” 

To this day, Germany is still paying an estimated $1.1 billion dollars annually in reparation for the damages it caused.

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Conclusion

The UN report concluded that “…the United States should consider reparations to African-American descendants of slavery, establish a national human rights commission and publicly acknowledge that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity.” 

If Germany can make reparations for over 60 years, then certainly U.S. state and federal lawmakers can come together to devise a plan for not only supporting grassroots truth commissions, but also for reparations.  Reparations can extend beyond monetary payments made to individuals to programs tailored to reduce the “cradle to prison pipeline”, and to the erection of monuments commemorating the black experience from the slavery to the present day.  

For instance, Head Start, an early intervention program created by United States Department of Health and Human Services provides comprehensive center-based early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families designed to foster stable family relationships, enhance children’s physical and emotional well-being, and establish an environment conducive to the development of stronger cognitive skills. Head Start only reaches a fraction of impoverished families and extends only to families with children ages three through five.   The program begins too late and ends too soon.  In addition, the program fails to provide essential wrap-around services to the families, such a home visits by social workers and food for the entire family.

Programs like Head Start must be re-conceptualized and new programs developed to end inequities and to eradicate the “cradle to jail pipeline”.  Such a program has already been developed in the area of counter-terrorism, where the United States has spearheaded the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative intended to foster environments derailing radicalization.  CVE is premised on widespread community involvement, especially that of religious leaders, supported by governments around the world.  In the African-American community, its religious leaders, who are highly respected by their congregations, can play an integral role in educating their own congregations as well as starting safe and constructive dialogues with white congregations and interfaith groups.

History books need to be rewritten to tell one history.  This has occurred in Europe, where the history books in countries, such as France and Germany, taught differing national accounts of World War II. This is being remediated by a European Council initiative, the European Association of History Educators, referred to as Euro Clio, whose mission statement, in part, reads:

…EUROCLIO has worked in many European countries and beyond on a large variety of issues related to the learning and teaching of history. A special focus has been on countries in political transformation and in particular those with inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. It also worked in regions that have experienced recent violent conflicts such as Former Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Lebanon and the Caucasus. The work has brought together hundreds of historians and history educators to share experiences, to implement innovative learning about the past, discussing also sensitive and controversial issues and therefore creating new and inclusive historical narratives.

There also needs to be education in our schools to derail traditional hatreds and prejudices.  As Nelson Mandela wrote, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

One effort at education, unification and healing is already underway as the Smithsonian Institution prepares to open the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on September 24, 2016. Its website states that “The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.”

The UN report suggested that monuments, markers and memorials be erected to facilitate dialogue, and that “…past injustices and crimes against African-Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice.”  Not only must this occur but the call for the removal of or, worse, the desecration of civil war monuments and artifacts, such as the Confederate flag, must come to an end as they are as much as a part of U.S. history, as that which is lacking, no matter how disturbing.  

Former KKK member and white nationalist David Duke just announced that he is running for the United States Congress.  Mr. Duke stated, “Thousands of special-interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, et cetera, et cetera.  The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate — one man in the Congress — who will defend their rights and heritage.”  Mr. Duke would continue to fuel racial tensions rather than heal his home state of Louisiana, let aid the United States in healing.  He is the antithesis of goodwill.

While this paper addressed the African-American experience, truth commissions can also be convened as to other marginalized groups:  Native American, Muslim and migrant populations. 

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

Alexander, Michelle, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, 2010, The New Press.

“Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Campaign”, Children’s Defense Fund, as found on the www at http://www.childrensdefense.org/campaigns/cradle-to-prison-pipeline/?referrer=https://www.google.nl/#sthash.Go61YP6w.dpuf.

Davis, Fania, “Truth and reconciliation is coming to America from the grassroots”, February 26, 2015, The Guardian, as found on the www at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/26/truth-and-reconciliation-is-coming-to-america.

European Association of History Educators, as found on the www at http://euroclio.eu/association/.

Haskins, Ron, and Barnett, W. Steven, “NEW DIRECTIONS FOR AMERICA’S EARLY CHILDHOOD POLICIES1”, 2010, Brookings Institute, as found on the www at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Reports/2010/10/13-investing-in-young-children-haskins/1013_investing_in_young_children_haskins_ch1.PDF.

Holland, Jesse, “U.N. Group Says U.S. Should Consider Reparations”, January 29, 2016, U.S. News and World Report, as found on the www at http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-01-29/un-working-group-suggests-us-work-on-racial-reconciliation.

Lardner, Cynthia, “One Nation Under God:  Divided”, July 18, 2015, as found on the www at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/one-nation-under-god-divided-cynthia-lardner-deverouxcleary; https://cynthiamlardner.wordpress.com/one-nation-under-god-divided/; and http://cmlardner.blogspot.com/2015/07/one-nation-under-god-divided.html.

Lardner, Cynthia, “Rethinking Ferguson”, June 28, 2015 as found on the www at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rethinking-ferguson-cynthia-lardner-deverouxcleary.

Mapping Police Violence, as found on the www at http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/.

Scott, Colleen, “Harrowing the Ground so That Others May Build,” 1999, The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as found on the www at https://sites.google.com/site/nitzanscourses/transitional-justice/unit-5-south-africa/trc/harrowring-the-ground.

Stevenson, Bryan, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror”, 2015, Equal Justice Initiative, as found on the www at http://www.eji.org/files/EJI%20Lynching%20in%20America%20SUMMARY.pdf.

Williamson, Marianne, “RACE AND REPENTANCE IN AMERICA”, as found on the www at https://marianne.com/race-and-repentance-in-america/.

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P5

Justice, Security and Rule of Law: How the United Nations Security Council Has Failed You

P5

By:  Cynthia M. Lardner

In today’s turbulent world “…three core themes come to the fore: justice, security, and rule of law,” stated Dr. Abi Williams, President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, who has previously served under United Nations Secretary Generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon.

When it comes to global justice, security and Rule of Law, the United Nations (U.N.) is the international organization that the world relies upon.  The U.N. was created in 1945 to restore world order after World War II and to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.  On July 12, 2016 an issue arose challenging the U.N.’s ability to fulfill its essential purpose.

On July 12, 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague issued an opinion in a territorial dispute between People’s Republic of China and the Philippines, commonly referred to as the South China Sea (SCS) Dispute. The sweeping opinion found in favor of the Philippines ruling that China, which had boycotted the proceedings calling them illegal, violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); an agreement about territorial seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), in claiming sovereignty over the 80% of the SCS, known as the “nine-dash line”, encompassing almost 80% of the SCS. China has militarized the region rich in natural gas deposits.

The PCA held that:

Having found that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also held that fishermen from the Philippines (like those from China) had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels.

In advance of the decision, China stated that it would not honor the PCA decision; a tribunal to which it is a member nation. As the PCA has no enforcement authority, enforcement falls on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The conundrum is that China is also a permanent member of the UNSC, which can veto UNSC enforcement of PCA decisions.  Rather that upholding its obligation as a permanent member of the UNSC to honor international law, China, in advance of the opinion, stated it will go to war to protect the “nine-dash line” region, leaving enforcement to the smaller nations in the region and their allies.

This calls into question whether China can ethically maintain its position on the UNSC.

This paper analyzes whether not only China but, also the Russian Federation should be permitted the ongoing privilege of sitting as an UNSC permanent member. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Where there is great power there is great responsibility.”  Russia and China have failed in their responsibility to the other 191 member nations of the U.N.

United Nations Security Council’s Permanent Five

Created by the Rome Statute, to which all 193 U.N. member nations are signatories, the U.N.’s mission, as articulated in its Charter is:

“To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

The U.N. General Assembly, via the U.N. Charter, delegated the sole responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The UNSC is comprised of five permanent member nations, and ten rotating member nations elected by the five permanent members to staggered two-year terms.  At the time of its creation, the world’s five greatest superpowers were afforded the privilege of serving as permanent UNSC members:  the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Russia and China (P5).  There is no provision in the U.N. Charter requiring that designation as a UNSC permanent member ever be reviewed or revisited.

The UNSC is responsible for authorizing U.N. peacekeeping operations.  Chapter VII of U.N. Charter authorizes the UNSC to deploy U.N. peacekeeping operations, including joint operations with allied forces and NATO, into volatile post-conflict settings where the state is unable to maintain security and public order.  Invocation of Chapter VII denotes a legal basis for taking action, and “…is viewed as a statement of firm political resolve reminding the parties to a conflict and the wider U.N. membership of their obligation to honor UNSC decisions.”  Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted on 28 April 2006, requires the UNSC to proactively protect civilians in an armed conflict, including taking action against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity

The UNSC is also imbued with the singular responsibility for voting on U.N. member state applications, selecting the Secretary-General, and the creation and oversight of hybrid criminal courts.

The P5 have de facto control over the UNSC by virtue of their exclusive veto power over exercised when any permanent member casts a “negative” vote on not only “substantive” draft resolutions but as to what constitutes a substantive issue.

The veto power extends to the discretionary enforcement of decisions rendered by the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, which issues legal advisory opinions and hears cases involving crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the PCA.

China and Russia’s Abuses of P5 Power

The P5 has come under a great deal of criticism for failing to deliver justice, provide security, and adhere to Rule of Law, including its responsibility to protect (R2P) from statespersons, such Kofi Annan, the seventh U.N. Secretary-General and Nobel Laureate, former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Canadian Foreign Minister Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, calling into question whether the U.N. Charter needs to be amended.

The South China Sea Dispute

Along with the matter decided by the PCA, China has also been engaged in similar territorial SCS disputes with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

It is incomprehensible that China, a P5 member, can flagrantly ignore not only the PCA’s decision, which is final and binding upon the parties, but also UNCLOS, the treaty governing territorial rights.  Rather, than adhere to international law, China is prepared to go to war with the U.S. and other countries over the SCS. Complicating the matter is the joint military build-up by China and Russia in the South China Sea.

An Article VII draft resolution as to the enforcement of the PCA opinion or peacekeeping operations in the SCS would be vetoed by China and Russia.  Given that NATO has already stated it will not become involved in the SCS Dispute, if armed conflict erupts, defense against China and, likely Russia, military superpowers, will be the responsibility of the smaller nations in the region, the United States, France and their allies.

“Only when everyone plays by the same rules can we avoid the mistakes of the past, like when countries challenged one another in contests of strength and will, with disastrous consequences for the region,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Russia, Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula

Russia’s relationship with NATO, its member nations, allies and partners deteriorated following Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and military aggressions in Ukraine.  On July 15, 2015, rather than abstain, Russia vetoed a resolution as to its illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, shielding itself from accountability under international law.  Russia President Vladimir Putin recently stated that there will never be any diplomatic discussion of the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia’s aggressions in Ukraine were to have been resolved by the September 5, 2014 Minsk Protocol, confirming Ukraine’s sovereignty, which was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic, and the Lugansk People’s Republic.  Despite being called upon by the international community to implement the Minsk Protocol, including the G20 in April 2016, and at the February 2016 Munich Security Conference, Russia has refused.  As a P5 member, there will never be Article VII action to protect the Ukraine people from ongoing aggressions, including genocide, a war crime.

It is noteworthy that Russia, a P5 member, is not a member nation of the International Criminal Court under the Rome Statute, which prosecutes state actors for crimes against humanity, including genocide.

The Birth of Responsibility to Protect

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Minister of Canada, cited the UNSC’s 1999 failure to act under Section VII in Kosovo based on Russia’s veto of U.N. peacekeeping troops to force the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo.  Dr. Axworthy stated that he and then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were emotionally and morally sickened by the mass genocide in Kosovo.  Dr. Axworthy stated that he and then Secretary Albright asked themselves, “Could we stand by and let people be murdered?”

NATO intervened in what came to be known as “Madeleine’s War”.

As then President Bill Clinton stated, “”It’s to our advantage to have a Europe that is peaceful and prosperous. And there is the compelling humanitarian case: if the U.S. walks away from an atrocity like this where we can have an impact, then these types of situations will spread. The world is full of ethnic struggles, from Ireland to the Middle East to the Balkans. If we can convince people to bridge these tensions, we’ve served our interests as well as our values.”

LlyodAxworthy

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy speaking at The Hague Institute for Global Justice on July 12, 2016

This Kosovo incident gave rise to the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) under which “We [humanity] must be prepared to stop mass atrocities” and where sovereignty is “…not a divine right but an obligation to protect your people,” stated Dr. Axworthy during a July 12, 2016 talk on “Pursuing Justice in a Globalized World:  Reflections on the Commitment of Madeleine K. Albright”.

Since the war, Kosovo has been unable to secure U.N. member state status based on Russia’s veto.

Responsibility to Protect

R2P was later adopted by the U.N. obligating the international community, including the UNSC to prevent and protect individuals from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Yet, both China and Russia have and are engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing; with Russia focused on Jewish populations and China on Tibet.

Russia and China’s Recent P5 Vetoes

At a time when Dr. Axworthy noted that “…human rights in a position of limbo,” Rule of Law has been increasing ignored by the UNSC.

There have been many instances of Russia and China misusing their UNSC veto power in contravention of international law:

  • On June 15, 2009, Russia vetoed action concerning its 2008 Georgian invasion, which culminated in a March 18, 200 treaty on alliance and integration signed between the South Ossetia region of Georgia and Russia on 18 March. This so-called treaty is yet another move by the Russian Federation that hampers ongoing efforts by the international community to strengthen security and stability in the region.  It violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and blatantly contradicts the principles of international law;
  • Between 2012 and 2014, Russia and China have double vetoed four draft U.N. resolution concerning the crisis in Syria, including a referral to the International Criminal Court and the imposition of U.N. sanctions;
  • On July 8, 2015, Russia vetoed taking action with respect to the genocide that occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina in clear contravention of Security Council Resolution 1674; and
  • Russia vetoed a referral to the International Criminal Court to hold those state actors accountable for having shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight No. MH17 on July 17, 2014.

The U.S. has also used its UNSC veto power in the past, primarily to block resolutions concerning Israel.  However, this is unlikely to reoccur as during 2015 the Obama Administration’s foreign policy position as Israel and Palestine underwent a drastic shift away from favoring Israel.  The U.K. and France have never used their veto power.

“A security council that is fractured into special national interests, abusing the right of the veto; warlords and dictators who kill with impunity to advance their greed for riches or power; and the weakening of resolve in North America and Europe to act in a collective manner, and thus far a confused set of objectives by the emerging states. As Kofi Annan clearly concludes, our level of governance is not up to the task posed by world realities,” stated Dr. Axworthy.

No nation should be allowed to sit on the United Nations Security Council, let alone be afforded permanent status, if it fails to adhere to Rule of Law, minimally, international law.

Selection of the Next Secretary-General

With Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s second term set to expire, the selection process by the UNSC has also been sharply criticized. “The selection of the Secretary-General has previously been a process shrouded in secrecy, and, ultimately, decision-making lies under the almost complete control of the five permanent members” stated Tom Brookes, Programme Office at The Elders Foundation.  While the current selection process has involved an open debate between ten of the 12 individuals under consideration, it has no impact on the selection process.

Hybrid Courts

The UNSC has failed to convene, offer oversight and provide funding of hybrid criminal courts, i.e. courts created to address war crimes or crimes against humanity in any given country. By way of example, according to Ambassador David John Scheffer, the UNSC has not funded The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, commonly known as the Cambodia Tribunal or Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which is relegated to raising funds to cover its annual $3 million operating budget, with funding coming primarily from the U.S.

By the Numbers

In addition to flagrant misuse of their P5 veto power, there are three indices three global indices measuring positive and negative peace, corruption and adherence to Rule of Law which statistically support the restructuring UNSC.

First is the 2016 Global Peace Index, issued by Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), which empirically ranked 175 independent states and territories based on their levels of peacefulness.  Peacefulness is measured based on two primary components: positive peace or resilience, and negative peace, defined as the presence of violence or fear of violence.  Overall scores are normed on the basis of one to five.

GPI.1

Camilla Schippa speaking on June 24, 2016 at The Hague Institute for Global Justice on the GPI

“We see peace as a measure of conflicts.  And the Global Peace Index found an overall increase in conflict with a widening gap between the most and least peaceful countries,” stated Camilla Schippa, IEP Director of Operations.

The cost to humanity is mindboggling.  Violence costs 13.3% of the world’s GDP or $13.6 trillion dollars.  This breaks down to $1,876 annually or $5.00 per person every single day.

Second, Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) measures perceived levels of public sector corruption in 167 countries.  The four areas measured are bribery, corruption, whistleblowing, and Rule of Law.  The CPI defines Rule of Law as the, “Legal and political systems, structures and practices that condition a government’s actions to protect citizens’ rights and liberties, maintain law and order, and encourage the effective functioning of the country.”

CPI.2015

“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world.” stated José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.

Third is the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2015 Rule of Law Index® (RLI). According to the WJP, “The rule of law is the foundation for communities of peace, opportunity, and equity—underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.”  The RLI provides original, impartial data on how the Rule of Law is experienced by the general public in 102 countries. The RLI measures nine variables — constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil and criminal justice, informal justice – generating an overall score ranging from .35 to .87.

Russian Federation

Russia’s overall GPI Score was the lowest of the P5: 3.079/5, ranking it 151 out of 163, or in the bottom 10 percent of the countries evaluated. Russia also performed the worst out of the P5 on the CPI, ranking a meager 29 or 119/168.  Thus, it is no surprise that Russia also had the worst P5 score on the RLI:  .47 overall, placing it near the bottom quartile, or 75th out of the 102 nations.

People’s Republic of China

On the GPI, China ranked 120 out of 163, with an overall GPI of 2.288/5.  China also performed poorly on the CPI, ranking 37 or 83/168.  China also fared poorly on the RLI, having a composite score of .48, ranking it 71.

The United States

On the GPI, the U.S. ranked 103 out of 163 nations, with a composite score of 2.154/5.  According to Ms. Schippa, the U.S.’s score was negatively impacted by the number of incarcerated individuals and access to firearms, required, to date, by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The U.S. ranked 76 or 16/168 on the CPI, with its score having steadily improved over the last four years. On the RLI, the U.S.’s composite score was .73 ranking it 13th out of the 102 countries measured.

United Kingdom

On the GPI, the U.K. ranked 47 out of 163, having generated a composite score of 1.830/5.  The U.K.’s CPI was 81 or 10/168.  Great Britain fared well on the RLI, with an overall score of .78 ranking it 12th.

France

France ranked 46 out of the 163 nations measured by the GPI, with an overall score of 1.829/5. On the CPI, France ranked 70 or 23/168.  On the RLI, France’s overall score was .74, placing it 18 out of 102 countries.

The Call for Reform

Kofi Annan astutely reflected that:

Where we collectively realize that we do not live in a zero-sum world where someone’s gain automatically comes at another’s expense. I envision a world where these values are supported by an international architecture, a modernized United Nations that reflects the changing balance of global power brought about by the rise of China, Brazil, India, South Africa, and other emerging countries.

But above all, of a United Nations that serves not only states but foremost peoples — and becomes the forum where governments are held accountable for their behavior toward their own citizens. A forum where the shared values of pluralism, tolerance, solidarity, democracy and dialogue triumph over unilateralism, ultra-nationalism, and over the politics of identity…

You may argue that this is a pipe-dream, that around the world, personal liberty, human rights, and democracy are being eroded — even in countries that have embraced democratic ideals. Let us renew and strengthen this international system. From epidemics to climate change, we need to set our narrow self-interests aside and realize that we are in this world together, for better or for worse. Hitting each other on the head has not done us much good in the past. It is time to move beyond that, to embrace our common humanity and resume our journey towards a fairer, more peaceful world.

Mr. Annan concluded that, “A United Nations for the twenty-first century would have to create new partnerships, respond to the needs of the individuals and stand for the principle that national sovereignty could never be used as a shield for genocide or a gross violation of human rights.”

“Yet the Security Council, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, acting on behalf of all the member states, is still dominated by the same five permanent members that were designated all those years ago, being the five great powers that had just won the war. The governments of those five powers have become so used to their exalted status, which is protected by their ability to veto any change in the Charter, that they think of it almost as their natural right, sometimes forgetting that it is above all a responsibility. They assume that the world will continue to respect their authority, and fail to notice that, year by year, that authority is eroding,” stated a release issued by The Elders, a group of former statespersons who comprise a nonpartisan peacekeeping group.

As a result of the criticisms from around the globe, they have been numerous statespersons, commissions and entities calling for reform of the U.N., particularly the UNSC.  For instance, the 14-member Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance Commission convened by The Hague Center for Global Justice consisting of numerous ex-foreign ministers adamantly called for U.N. reform citing a “crisis in global governance.”

The Commission’s findings, “Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance”, was launched at the Peace Palace in The Hague on 16 June 2016. Commission Co-Chairs Secretary Albright and Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary-General.  The Commission called for “…an expansion in Security Council membership and better engagement with nontraditional actors. Specifically, it seeks to create more opportunities for countries, regional organizations, local authorities, and business and civil society groups to contribute to peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace-building while, at the same time, increasing the council’s representative legitimacy and restraint in the use of the veto, particularly when a state fails in its responsibility to protect its own citizens.”

Secretary Albright warned that continuing failures within the U.N. “risks prolonging and deepening” global crises.

At the launch of the ‘Strengthening the U.N.’ initiative at the 2015 Munich Security Conference, The Elders proposed a model for expanding the UNSC, that the P5 agree a code of conduct on veto restraint, and argued that the UNSC provide greater opportunity for civil society groups to be heard through greater use of informal “Arria formula” meetings.  Arria formula meetings are informal, confidential gatherings which enabling the UNSC to have a frank and private exchange of views, within a flexible procedural framework, with individuals, groups or nations outside of the UNSC.

Another group, Uniting for Consensus (UfC), comprised of 111 of the U.N.’s 193 member states, mission is to increase the number of non-permanent UNSC members, from the existing ten rotating seats, to a composition and number reflecting greater regional representation.  In a March 26, 2015 press release the UfC stated:

[W]e could support a UNSC of up to 26 members in total – a Council that is more representative of the international community as a whole while preserving the principles of democracy and accountability to Member States. The legitimacy of the Council depends not only – or even primarily – on its composition, but on its transparency, accountability and effectiveness. It is not just about who takes decisions, but most importantly the inclusive and democratic nature of decision-making.

In 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established a 17-member independent panel on U.N. Peace Operations to comprehensively assess the state of current and emerging UN peace operations.  The panel issued 104 page report, containing detailed and voluminous recommendations for change:

At the heart of …peace operations is the message that the United Nations must unite its strengths — of politics, of partnership and of people — to meet those challenges. This means that, where deployed, United Nations peace operations must be mandated and empowered to support the political resolution of threats to international peace and security. To succeed, United Nations peace operations must find a way to strengthen partnership at all levels, namely with regional organizations, with host Governments and with the local population, to overcome deep-rooted conflicts. United Nations peace operations must answer to “We the peoples”, the ultimate beneficiaries of peace and the survivors of conflict. Their perceptions and their assessments, particularly those of women and youth, are the critical barometer of the success, or failure, of United Nations peace operations.

The panel concluded that the U.N. requires “modernized approaches and structures to enable flexible and better United Nations system responses.”  However, the panel failed to state the structures and approaches to which it was referring.  As all substantive action of the U.N. requires UNSC approval, it can only be assumed that the panel was indirectly criticizing the UNSC.

Changes Supported by Sustainable Development Goal 16

On September 25, 2015, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which include 17 Global Goals.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the move as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.  The new agenda is a promise by U.N. leaders to all people everywhere.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”, adopted to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

SDG 16 has been broken down to eleven measurable targets. SDG 16.3 is promote Rule of Law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.  SDG 16.6 requires the development of “effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.” This includes, under SDG 16.7, an increase in decision-making at all levels which is responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative, which is tied to SDG 16.8, which seeks to broaden and strengthen participation by developing countries in global governance.  Also relevant is SDG 16.10, which is promote fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

In 2004, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed that for the U.N. Rule of Law is “a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires as well measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency”.

SDG 16 cannot be achieved without amending the U.N. Charter to change the powers vested in the UNSC, and the increasing the number of UNSC members, to insure greater regional representation, or even eliminate the P5 or the UNSC in its entirety.

Amending the U.N. Charter

“A true United Nations would rise above the interests of individual countries. It would place the good of the planet and its people above the good of governments. The organization now based in New York cannot do this. Perhaps no world body ever will,” stated Stephen Kinzer, senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

The path to a true U.N., involves amending the U.N. Charter.  Following a conference, this requires a majority vote by the General Assembly and a vote by any seven UNSC members.  Despite all of the criticism, there has yet to be a call for a conference to amend the U.N. Charter. There has never been a better time than now for the General Assembly to come together and act to amend the U.N. Charter to insure justice, security, and rule of law for generations to come.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

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Axworthy, Lloyd, “Kofi Annan’s Advice to the United Nations”, February 21, 2013, Huffington Post Canada, as found on the www at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lloyd-axworthy/kofi-annan-united-nations_b_2733531.html.

Brookes, Tom, “Observing change at the United Nations”, June 16, 2016, TheElders.org., as found on the www at http://theelders.org/article/observing-change-united-nations.

“Corruption Perception Index 2015”, Transparency International, as found on the www at http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015.

Global Peace Index 2016”, Vision of Humanity, Institute for Economics and Peace as found on the www at http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/indexes/global-peace-index.

“Identical letters dated 17 June 2015 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council”, June 17, 2015, General Assembly Security Council, UN Doc, as found on the www at http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/446.

Kinzer, Steven, “There is no United Nations”, October 15, 2015, Boston Globe, as found on the www at https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/10/15/there-united-nations/ReCzzbHtpQXzK04B6Psw4I/story.html.

Lardner, Cynthia, “In Deep Waters with China and Russia”, June 10, 2016, as found on the www at http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/06/13/deep-waters-china-russia/; https://issuu.com/nafelosangeles/docs/e_magazine_june_2016_issue_draft_1_; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/deep-waters-china-russia-cynthia-lardnerhttp://cmlardner.blogspot.com/2016/06/in-deep-waters-with-china-and-russia.html; and https://cynthiamlardner.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/in-deep-waters-with-china-and-russia/.

 

Lee, Michael, R., “On UNSC Reform, New UfC Paper Calls for Transparency, No New Permanent Seats”, March 25, 2015, Inner City Press, as found on the www at http://www.innercitypress.com/unscreform1ufc032515.html;  Swart, L., and Pace, Cile, “Changing the Composition of the Security Council: Is There a Viable Solution?”, March 1, 2015, Center for U.N. Reform, as found on the www at http://www.centerforunreform.org/?q=node/629.

“Linkages between the rule of law, democracy and sustainable development”, April 19, 2012, International for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, as found on the www at http://www.idea.int/un/upload/Concept-Note-IDEA-IDLO-Italy-rev-5-0-Final.pdf.

“Mandates and the legal basis for peacekeeping”, United Nations Peacekeeping, U.N. Doc, as found on the www at http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/pkmandates.shtml.

“Rule of Law Index 2015,” World Justice Project, as found on the www at http://data.worldjusticeproject.org/.

“THE SOUTH CHINA SEA ARBITRATION (THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES V. THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA)”, July 12, 2016, Permanent Court of Arbitration, UN Doc., as found on the www at https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH-CN-20160712-Press-Release-No-11-English.pdf.

“The Responsibility to Protect”, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, UN Doc, as found on the www at http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/responsibility.shtml.

“UN adopts new Global Goals, charting sustainable development for people and planet by 2030”, September 25, 2015, UN News Centre, UN Doc, as found on the www at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51968#.V4SlYLh9600.

“U.N. reform urged by veteran diplomats”, June 16, 2015, DW, as found on the www at http://www.dw.com/en/un-reform-urged-by-veteran-diplomats/a-18519580.

BKM

Combatting Violent Extemism

The fight against violent extremism is being fought by a shift in global consciousness resulting in a collective effort by governments, NGOs and stakeholders, including individuals at the local level. Radicalized extremism, which has nothing to do with religion, is an ideology founded on inducing fear of imagined or future danger. It is a feeling, not an action.  Simply stated, extremism is psychological warfare.

The effectiveness of any extremist act is not the act itself, but the extent of the fear evoked in the general public.  The public’s apperception of fear is a miscalculation as the attack has already occurred and the likelihood of being personally involved in a future attack is less than negligible. In turn, we subconsciously transfer our fear to the Muslim population giving rise to widespread bigotry and hatred.  We have permitted the real battleground to be a mental schema that we have been conditioned to experience for more than fifteen years.

What are we so afraid of? 

The U.S. Department of State defines extremism as “…premeditated politically-motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

Violent attacks are staged by radicalized extremists to maximize publicity.  For instance, attacks are often scheduled for Friday mornings triggering a seemingly nonstop barrage of sensationalized weekend media reports.

Targets are chosen to not only symbolize what extremists oppose but, also those which will generate the most media coverage and public sympathy. Sympathy was the motive behind November 13, 2015 Paris attack on a nightclub frequented by young people and at an international sporting event, and the June 12, 2015 attack on a gay bar was in Orlando, America’s favorite family destination.  Recent examples of acts based on opposition were the March 22, 2016 Brussels attacks, which came days after the Belgium arrest of the last known suspect in the Paris attack, and the January 7, 2015 Paris Charlie Hebdo attack in objection to its re-publication of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons of Muhammad.

Other more random attacks are undertaken by individuals with no identifiable nexus to extremist leaders even though the attackers claim allegiance to the ideology, as was the case in the December 2, 2015 San Bernardino shooting.

Regardless of the motive, the result is an “An anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby – in contrast to assassination – the direct targets of violence are not the main targets”; the United Nations’ 1992 definition.

The target is you, the general public.

By the Numbers

The chance of a Westerner being killed by a violent extremist act is exceedingly low: about a one in three million each year.

Between 9.11 and 2013, foreign-inspired violent acts of extremism only claimed two dozen lives in the United States. Globally, the U.S. Department of State reported that, in 2011, only 17 U.S. civilians were killed worldwide by extremists, including deaths in all theaters of war.

The 2011 Report on Terrorism from the National Counter Terrorism Center stated that Americans are as likely to be “crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year” as they are to be killed by an extremist.   As one Washington Post headline read, “You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist”.

Abandoning the Schema

In a recent statement, President Barack Obama stated:

“Groups like ISIL and al-Qaida want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West. If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.

But we are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mind-set and this kind of thinking can be. We are starting to see where this kind of rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we are fighting, where this can lead us. This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don’t have religious tests here. Our founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights are clear about that.

And if we ever abandon those values, we wouldn’t only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect, the pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties, the very things that make this country great, the very things that make us exceptional.

And then the terrorists would have won. And we cannot let that happen.”

How, Why and Where Radicalization Transpires

According to John Horgan, PhD, Director the Pennsylvania State University’s International Center for the Study of Terrorism, people who are predisposed to extremist recruitment and radicalization tend to:

  • Feel angry, alienated or disenfranchised;
  • Believe that their current political involvement does not give them the power to effect real change;
  • Identify with perceived victims of the social injustice they are fighting;
  • Feel the need to take action rather than just talking about the problem;
  • Believe that engaging in violence against the state is not immoral;
  • Have friends or family sympathetic to the cause; and
  • Believe that joining a movement offers social and psychological rewards such as adventure, camaraderie and a heightened sense of identity.

Mosques Are Not Enclaves for Terrorist

Loners by nature, “More than 80 per cent who join the Islamic State do so through peer-to-peer relationships, mostly with friends and sometimes family. Very few join in mosques or through recruitment by anonymous strangers… radicalization rarely occurs in mosques,” stated Scott Atran, co-founder of the Center for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University.

Charles Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, co-author of a 2010 report “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans”, also found that, “Very few of these [extremist] individuals are regular participants at American mosques. In fact, in a number of cases they have expressed hostility toward their local religious leaders. Unfortunately, it seems to be a pattern that these individuals engaged in violent extremism move away from the mosque as they become radicalized and are interacting less with the religious leaders who preach peace.”

The Islamic Community

The American-Muslim community has publicly and privately denounced terrorism and violence, is willing to report radical individuals to law enforcement, and encourages community building and political engagement.

A 2010 study conducted by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill determined that these programs are an effective deterrent to radicalization.  That study also found that “48 of the 120 Muslims suspected of plotting domestic terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, were turned in by fellow Muslims, including parents, mosque members and even a Facebook friend.”

Mosques around the world have created programs to engage vulnerable youth to prevent radicalization by the rampant extremist propaganda, easily accessed on social media.  Countering radicalization has been a topic in sermons and at national conferences.

When ISIS emerged, the world’s most prominent Muslim leaders and scholars published an open leader to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi renouncing the militant group’s religious claims, including that of the Caliphate.

Yet, despite its best efforts, the Muslim community is so stigmatized that after the Paris attack the hashtag #NotInMyName emerged on social media.

The Media’s Role

First and foremost, the media’s disproportionate focus on Western acts of terror reinforces such mistaken perceptions. “Extremely vivid image[s] of death and damage” resulting from terrorist attacks are “reinforced by media attention and frequent conversation,” leaving us with highly accessible memories of such events, stated Daniel Kahneman, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.

For instance, CNN International, six days after the Orlando shooting, was still displaying headline “Terror in Orlando”, fostering the apperception that there exists cause for fear of another and imminent attack.

“When people who have been exposed to such coverage later assess how likely more terrorism is, such events come readily to mind — and so they are likely to assign probabilities biased upward,” stated former Pentagon official Andrew Shaver.

Second, by engaging in nonstop and repetitive reporting the media is acting as ade facto public relations department for extremist organizations.  Media must shift its focus from repeatedly showing videos of attacks to the courage and solidarity exhibited by first responders, the community, surviving family and friends, and committed law enforcement officials.

Consider that just one additional New York Times article about an attack in any country increased the probability of ensuing attacks in that country by between 11% and 15%. On average, that additional NYT article results in between one and two casualties from another attack within the next week.

Fourth, the question is always posed of a government official or expert, “What could the government have done to prevent this attack?”  After a brief pause, the interviewee utters something vague.

Take for example the attack on the Brussels airport.  Over and over again, reporters asked officials what they could have been done to prevent the attack.  One “expert’ opined that security should have been moved outside of the building.  The reality is that all this would have accomplished is moving the queue to another location.  The correct answer is there was probably nothing that could have been done to prevent that attack.

With an increasing number of “homegrown” extremists, there is even less intelligence available to thwart attacks.

Yet, for days after an attack line of questioning continues when the focus in the aftermath ought to be on the inherent strength and resiliency of Western communities and the good work done by law enforcement officials.

Fifth, the word choices made by the news and entertainment industries are often inflammatory.  For instance, the term “suicide bomber” is almost always used as opposed to the more accurate term “homicidal extremist”.  Continuous headlines such as “Terror in Orlando”, rather than “Solidarity in the Midst of Tragedy” or “Law Enforcement Responded With Flying Colors”, not only sends the wrong message to the public but furthers extremist objectives.

Sixth, oftentimes, the reporting is inaccurate.  For instance, after the November 2015 Paris attack, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer reported that the “Caliphate” was responsible.  ISIS’ claim that its leader is the Caliphate, or a prophet sent by God to provide just governance for all of Islam, could not be farther from the truth.  But, given Mr. Blitzer’s credibility, the public readily believe what he says.

To successful combat violent extremism responsible journalism is essential.

Donald Trump is Even More Culpable

As the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump ought to be upholding the principles so carefully articulated by the United States’ founding fathers in the Constitution.  Rather, he actively promotes hatred and bigotry giving rise to violent and large protests at his public appearances.

Oddly, political commentators seem to have no knowledge of the Fighting Words Doctrine, which the United States Supreme Court in 1942 held to be a limitation that freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.  In a unanimous decision, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the High Court held that “insulting or ‘fighting words,’ are those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace”.  Can there be any doubt that Mr. Trump’s remarks rise to the level of fighting words?

On Monday, June 13, 2016, Mr. Trump added to the plethora of anti-Muslims statements when he promised that, if elected, he would “suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats.” Perhaps Mr. Trump should learn about the International Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the Convention and Protocol Related to the Status of Refugees, which grants individuals the right, under international law, to seek political asylum.

Mr. Trump further stated that, if president, he would insure that mosques were monitored.  Apparently, he has not read the research.  In the wake of 9/11, after more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.

As President Obama stated, “We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States to bar all Muslims from immigrating into America. We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complacent in violence.”

Combatting Violent Extremism

“Violent extremists are not a new threat; they have raged against civilization as long as we have tried to build it. What is new is how the United States and our partners around the world are pushing them back – with a more comprehensive, preventive, and civilian-centered approach we call Countering Violent Extremism, or CVE,” stated Sewall, Sarah, Unite States Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

As explained by The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, “CVE programmes include an astonishing range of activities, from messaging to community outreach, to religious argumentation, to economic development. Programmes proposed under the rubric of CVE can range from individual interventions to efforts to rewrite the script for entire societies, from the economy to social mores.”

Richard Stengel, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, stated that efforts against extremism should focus “not only countering their message, but creating a positive alternative for people who may be attracted to their message”.

Thus, CVE has two overlapping goals:

  • Disengagement to dissuade individuals from violent participation in and material support for violent extremist organisations and movements.
  • De-radicalization/counter-radicalization to dissuade individuals from adopting extremist ideologies.

The global movement behind these goals includes the RESOLVE network brought about in February 2014 at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, which launched a comprehensive CVE effort that now encompasses over 100 countries, 20 multilateral bodies, and 400 civil society organizations.

As a result, foreign governments are developing CVE strategies providing meaningful roles for those outside government.

According to Ms. Sewall, “Many of those actors – like young people, mayors, and women – have launched their own global networks to learn from each other’s experience countering violent extremism in their communities.”

What Can You Do?

Get involved at the local level with CVE initiatives. A list of resources can be accessed at https://www.dhs.gov/publication/countering-violent-extremism-resources.

Write to the media to express your concerns, refuse to watch inflammatory programming, have the self-control to know when “enough is enough” and the wisdom to understand that what is real and what is fiction.

For those of us in the European Union and the United States, we must exercise our right to vote for politicians who respect national and international law, and who promote harmonious and peaceful relationships among diverse populations and governments.

Write or petition school and government officials to offer compulsory education. “Without anti-racism education, war will continue to prevail and peace will continue to be what it is; a falsehood that distracts the world populace from the reality on the ground… Otherwise, we will continue to have the rise of terrorist states,” stated Ahmad Moussa, a Palestinian-Canadian professor and author.

Participate in global interfaith activities to learn more about not just the Islamic faith but, other faiths that differ from your own.  Most people are unaware that the three major world religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all share a common belief in Jesus.

We can open our minds and hearts to the moderate Muslim populations in our communities.  For instance, many mosques and Islamic community centers host programs that are open to the general public.  Attending events will reduce conditioned fear.

We should also be diligent in reporting activity that we feel is suspicious.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The bottom line is that we can all participate in the war on extremism.

“The only way to change the world is to change the story,” stated Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Sufi teacher and scholar.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Sources

Berger, J.M. “Making CVE Work: A Focused Approach Based on Process Disruption”, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague 7, no. 5 (2016), as found on the www at http://icct.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/J.-M.-Berger-Making-CVE-Work-A-Focused-Approach-Based-on-Process-Disruption-.pdf.

Boehlert, Eric, “Pushing For Mosque Surveillance, Fox News Is Fighting The Last War”, June 16, 2016, Media Matters for America, as found on the www at https://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/06/16/pushing-mosque-surveillance-fox-news-fighting-last-war/210989.

Doward, Jamie, “Media coverage of terrorism ‘leads to further violence’”, August 1, 2015, The Guardian, as found on the www athttp://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/aug/01/media-coverage-terrorism-further-violence.

Horgan, John. “Walking Away from Terrorism” (Routledge, 2009).

“How the U.S. is countering the Islamic extremist propaganda machine”, June 16, 2016, PBS Newshour, as found on the www athttp://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/how-the-u-s-is-countering-the-islamic-extremist-propaganda-machine/.

Moussa, A., The Islamic State and the Jewish State, October 17, 2014, Counterpunch, as found on the www athttp://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/17/the-islamic-state-and-the-jewish-state/.

Sewall, Sarah, “Countering Violent Extremism: How Human Rights and Good Governance Help Prevent Terrorism”, February 29, 2016, United States Department of State, as found on the www at http://m.state.gov/md253870.htm.

Shaver, Andrew, “You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist”, November 23, 2015, Washington Post, as found on the www athttps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/11/23/youre-more-likely-to-be-fatally-crushed-by-furniture-than-killed-by-a-terrorist/.

(140520) -- SHANGHAI, May 20, 2014 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin sign a joint statement aimed at expanding cooperation in all fields and coordinating diplomatic efforts to cement the China-Russia all-round strategic partnership of cooperation after their talks in Shanghai, east China, May 20, 2014. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei) (mp)

In Deep Waters with China and Russia

The Threat to Global Stability and Security

Geopolitical tensions have risen to a level where another major war or even world war is no longer outside the realm of possibilities.  There has been a military build-up by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea (SCS), and by Russia in the Baltic and Western European regions.

China’s SCS Dispute with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines over oil rich territory rich is most troubling.  Both China and Russia have increased their military presence in the northern Pacific Ocean where they have been engaging in joint military exercises.  An eruption of armed conflict involving China, may result in both responding.

There are also the ongoing concerns regarding erratic North Korea, which has restarted plutonium fuel production.

Russia’s relationship with NATO, its member nations, allies and partners deteriorated following Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its unlawful aggressions in Ukraine.  This precipitated a sharp shift in Western foreign policy toward Russia.  The West has moved away from the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Stability and beyond a policy of containment to a position of deterrence.  Knowing that NATO will respond, it is unlikely that Moscow will engage in armed conflict on European soil.

Less likely would be a scenario where armed conflict develops in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres as it is questionable whether the U.S., the European Union, NATO and their allies could adequately respond.

 The South China Sea – A Deepening Rift

While China and Russia are embroiled in territorial disputes in the Pacific Ocean, it is China’s SCS Dispute that is particularly troublesome.  The expansionist goal of the two countries is that they gain control the maritime activities in the region, impeding routine missions patrolling the area and impeding the territorial rights of other nations, and allowing them to exploit the region’s rich oil reserves.  In the SCS there are 11 million estimated barrels of oil, 190 trillion cubic square feet of natural gas, and $5.3 trillion in annual trade passing through the region.

Competing South China Sea Claims

China’s sweeping claims of sovereignty over the SCS have antagonized Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, each of which has competing territorial and jurisdictional claims in the SCS.  China has grown increasingly more assertive in advancing its position in these disputes, known as the South China Sea Dispute, by substantially modernizing its maritime paramilitary forces and increasing its naval capabilities.  In recent months, tensions in the South China Sea have steadily grown, amid global concerns over China’s constructions of artificial islands in the Spratly Islands and its continuing militarization in the Paracel Islands.

There is one pending case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague between China and the Philippines concerning lawful sovereignty over an area rich in natural gas deposits. The matter was brought by the Philippines as to the legality of China’s “nine-dash line”.  China has never clarified the parameters of the “nine-dash line”, which encompasses approximately 80% of the SCS. The Philippines claims that China violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); an agreement about territorial seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

China’s motivation is not the preservation of ancestral waters or historical fishing sites, protected by the UNCLOS; rather China seeks to complete a “strategic triangle” in the SCS to monitor and control regional maritime activities, to bolster its naval position, and to gain access to much-needed natural resources. To further its interests, China has built man-made islands and artificial harbors on reefs creating more than 3,200 acres, and increasing its EEZs by 200 nautical miles or 370 km, and its territorial seas by 12 nautical miles or 22 km, on which it has installed airfields and surveillance systems, and a radar tower.  China now plans on installing an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, covering the SCS. An ADIZ demarcates a zone outside a country’s national airspace where planes must identify themselves for security reasons and follow the country’s military instructions.

Newly constructed radar dome on Chinese-controlled Subi Reef

The Pentagon has accused China of using “coercive tactics short of armed conflict.”

The Philippines is expected to prevail in proceedings boycotted by China.  China called the PCA arbitration illegal and stated that it would ignore the PCA’s decision, even though China is one of five permanent United Nations Security Council members.  As the PCA has no enforcement authority, enforcement will fall upon other nations both in and outside of the SCS region.

“Only when everyone plays by the same rules can we avoid the mistakes of the past, like when countries challenged one another in contests of strength and will, with disastrous consequences for the region,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on June 3, 2016.

The U.S. could also be drawn into this conflict based on 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines. The Treaty states, “Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”  If the U.S. failed to respond, it could damper its relationship with other nations in Asia.

Also relevant is the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea, in which ASEAN and China agreed upon multilateral risk-reduction and confidence-building measures.  DOC requires that territorial and jurisdictional disputes be resolved without resorting to the threat or use of force.

Chinese and Russian Joint Military Buildup

In advance of the G7 Summit, China warned Japan not to involve the G7 in the SCS Dispute.  Russian Prime Minister Sergei Lavrov, on April 14, also issued a statement that, while international law ought to be respected, Russia disapproved of internationalization of the dispute, stating, “Our position is determined by the wish, natural for any normal country, to see disputes resolved directly between the countries involved in a peaceful political and diplomatic manner, without any interference from third parties or any attempts to internationalize these disputes.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reacted “by heralding the two countries’ converging position on the South China Sea.”

Ignoring the Chinese and Russian warnings, but without mentioning China, the G7, from which Russia has been excluded since annexing Crimea, expressed concern over Chinese aggression in the SCS.

A Fact Sheet released by the White House sumarized the April 7, 2016 G7 Summit:

“G-7 leaders reiterated their commitment to a rules-based order at sea, peaceful dispute settlement, and respect for freedom of navigation and overflight.  G-7 leaders also reaffirmed the importance of states’ making and clarifying their claims based on international law [including the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea]; refraining from unilateral actions; not using force or coercion; and seeking to settle disputes by peaceful means including through juridical procedures.’”

On April 29, 2016 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a joint press conference in Beijing declaring shared opposition to “interference from third parties” and “attempts to internationalize” the dispute.  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China and Russia should join together to oppose “internationalising” the disputes.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated on May 23, 2015 that, “Russia would deploy top-of-the-line Bal and Bastion coastal defense systems — with ranges of up to 450 kilometers — as well as Russia’s new Aeleron-3 drones. The apparent goal is to create an area-denial zone around the Kuril Island chain similar to those recently fielded in Crimea and Syria.”

The purpose of the Bastion-P is to engage various surface ships, as well as carrier battle groups, convoys or landing craft. In some cases missiles fired from this system can strike surface targets.  The Bastion-P launcher carries two P-800 Oniks/Yakhont and SS-N-26 Strobile anti-ship cruise missiles, having a range of 300 km, with hi-low flight trajectory and 120 km with low-low flight trajectory. The warhead, weighing 200-250 kg., can carry nuclear or conventional warheads.

At first, Mr. Shoigu alleged Russia’s Red Pacific Fleet was sending six of its warships carrying 200 troops, launched in April, to conduct a three-month “expedition” to the Kuril Islands.  The real mission is to establish a Russian military base on Matua Island, one of the Kuril Islands involved in its dispute with Japan.  The Matua Island base will hold 87 contract troops, 700 units of military equipment and weaponry, 60 new aircraft and helicopters, three vessels and over 20 drones. Based on a photograph released by Russian controlled state media, the warships were accompanied by nuclear-powered submarines.

Large landing ships “Admiral Nevelskoi,” foreground, “Nikolai Vilkov” and Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarine © Vitaliy Anko / Sputnik

Days prior to the May 30-31, 2016 “Russia and China: Taking on New Quality of Bilateral Relations international Conference”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated, “[W]e closely cooperate on the international arena, where our cooperation serves as a very important stabilizing factor. We will continue to jointly with the Chinese friends advance the necessary steps in order to ensure that our cooperation reaches new levels.”

 Lavrov added that proposals for all directions of cooperation were being drawn up “with the goal to further deepen cooperation in politics, economy and humanitarian area.”

“Russia and China are priority diplomatic partners for each other within the framework of their strategic coordination. Our countries implement close interaction in the international arena. Russian-Chinese relations are an important factor in the world peace and stability. During Vladimir Putin’s visit to China, the two leaders will exchange views on the development of bilateral relations and on international issues,” stated Hua Chunying, Deputy Director of Foreign Ministry Information Department of the People’s Republic of China.

At the conference, Western economic sanctions against Russia were deemed moot by Russia as it is looking to the East for economic growth and stability with China and Russia agreeing to increase trade from $90 billion in 2016 to $200 billion within four years.

Calling the SCS Dispute a man-made problem “forged by the United States… both Chinese and Russian leadership understand that we are better together and we are not so worried about America and its attitude to this issue,” stated Boris Titov, co-chairman of the Russian-Chinese Friendship committee and Russia’s ombudsman.

Moreover, Russia and China have been engaging in joint naval exercises in SCS.  According to the Russian press service, Russia and China commenced their first joint computer anti-missile defense exercises Aerospace-Security-2016.  Russia and China will use the results to formulate proposals on Russian-Chinese military cooperation in the field of anti-missile defense.

China’s “waves -2″ submarine-launched ballistic missile launched from underwater

“My sense is that each country will try and oppose the U.S. where it feels that its national interests require it, and that in a number of instances their national interests converge,” stated former Dutch Diplomat Joost Dirzwager.

The U.S. and France have bolstered their presence in the SCS.  The Pentagon sent a guided-missile destroyer to maintain maritime rights. This was the third time in under a year that the U.S. has conducted freedom of navigation operations in the SCS.

U.S. Freedom of Navigation (FON) Program, created in 1983 “…provides that the United States will exercise and assert its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms on a worldwide basis in a manner that is consistent with the balance of interests reflected in the Law of the Sea (LOS) Convention. The United States will not, however, acquiesce in unilateral acts of other states designed to restrict the rights and freedoms of the international community in navigation and overflight and other related high seas uses.”

According to DoD spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza, on May 17, 2016, when the U.S. sent an unarmed U.S. military aircraft on routine patrol over the SCS, China responded with two fighter jets carrying out an interception at less than 50 feet forcing the U.S. plane to rapidly descent, which the Pentagon deemed unsafe.

China insists that reconnaissance activities undertaken without prior notification and without permission of the coastal state violate Chinese domestic law and international law. The U.S. responded by stating that the UNCLOS does not negates the right of military forces of all nations to conduct military activities in EEZs without coastal state notice or consent.

Days after Russia requested Vietnam permit it naval access, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Vietnam at which time a 50 year arms embargo was lifted, enabling Vietnam to obtain U.S. sourced radars and sensors, surveillance planes and drones to monitor and deter Chinese forces.  The U.S. Navy has requested access to Cam Ranh Bay, the most coveted deep water harbor in the western SCS.  If permitted, it would complement U.S. naval facilities in the Philippines on the SCS’ eastern edge.

Japan and Russia’s Kuril Islands Dispute

Japan has been embroiled in a long-standing dispute with Russia over a portion of the Kuril Islands, an archipelago stretching 1,300 km or 810 mi, from northern Japan to Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean.  As part of its territory, Japan claims the four ancestral islands; two southernmost and large Kuril Islands, Iturup and Kunashir, as well as the Shikotan and the Habomai Islets.

On February 7, 1855, Japan and Russia signed the Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation, which established boundaries in the Northern Territories.  Japan lost control of several of its islands at the end of World War II, when they were claimed by Russia.  Japan has rejected Russian sovereignty over the islands in a dispute that has come to be known as the Northern Territories Dispute.  Japan does not dispute Russian sovereignty over the other Kuril Islands.

As recent as this past April, Japan has engaged Russia in frequent but, unsuccessful dialogue in an effort to diplomatically resolve the conflict, going so far as to state that it would not displace Russians occupying the islands as Joseph Stalin did to the Japanese people.

The U.S. supports Japan’s claim in the Northern Territories Dispute.

“A conflict involving China over the East and South Seas was more likely than a Russo-Japanese conflict over the Kuril Islands/Northern territories,” stated Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow Brookings Institute Fellow, and former U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer.

The Kuril Islands are salient based on Russia’s military build-up there.  While Russia and Japan are not predicted to engage in armed conflict over the Northern Territories Dispute, the military build-up is nonetheless significant as it relates to the SCS Dispute.

Insecurity in the European Union

Russia’s Methodology

“Russia’s interest in breaking up Europe is clear and it uses a variety of means, anything it can possibly do, to achieve its breakup,” stated Russian scholar and analyst Anne Applebaum.

Russia’s toolbox of hybrid warfare i.e. that without physical aggression, includes weaponising information; intelligence gathering; and cyber, political, psychological, and energy warfare.

Russia has been accused of cyber warfare in Estonia, the German parliament and in Bulgaria.  Russia has backed the far right front in France, the Hungarian Jobbik, and the German AFD, and has secured the support of Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Ukraine and Crimea

Recent geopolitical tensions between the West and Russian can be traced to Russia’s annexation of Crimean Peninsula, which the West deems illegal, and its military aggression in Ukraine, which the West stands firm in stating that in so doing Russia failed to implement the pre-existing Minsk Agreement.  Statements have recently issued from both sides.

“The path NATO has chosen is one of strong deterrence combined with meaningful dialogue. There cannot be any return to business as usual until Russia comes back into compliance with international law,” stated NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow.

Mr. Vershbow noted that ‘the first step toward that end should be the full implementation of the Minsk agreements – ending the Russian-backed insurgency in Eastern Ukraine, implementing a real ceasefire, withdrawing Russian forces and heavy weapons, and creating conditions for free and fair elections under Ukrainian and OSCE supervision aimed at re-integrating the occupied portions of Donbas into Ukraine.’

At the May 2016 G7 Summit, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union condemned Russia’s “illegal annexation” of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. In a formal declaration the G7 threatened “further restrictive measures” but indicated sanctions could be scaled back if Russia implemented the Minsk Agreement to respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Mr. Putin responded by stating that, “As far as Crimea is concerned, we consider this question is closed forever. Russia will not conduct any discussions with anyone on this subject.”

The Baltic States, Poland and Romania

On April 1, 2014 following the annexation of Crimea, NATO member nations unanimously voted to suspend all cooperation with Russia save essential diplomatic dialogue.  Since then, Russia has conducted military exercises involving 30,000-80,000 troops in close proximity to the Baltic region.

“To the east and north we face a resurgent and aggressive Russia, and as we have continued to witness these last two years, Russia continues to seek to extend its influence on its periphery and beyond. We are prepared to fight and win if we have to … our focus will expand from assurance to deterrence, including measures that vastly improve our overall readiness,” stated NATO Supreme Commander General Phillip Breedlove on March 31, 2016, just days after the conclusion of the Munich Security Conference.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said NATO is strengthening its deterrence and defence posture by implementing the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), which includes a 5000-strong Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, in response to a more assertive and aggressive Russia.

Russia’s interest in the Baltic States is multi-faceted. First and foremost, Russian President has stated over and over again that it is his responsibility to protect Russians, regardless of where they now live in the European Union.  Russia, having allowed its Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad to deteriorate has, until recently, relied upon Baltic States’ modern and ice-free ports to transport its oil throughout Europe.

The deployment of Iskander-M missile complexes in Kaliningrad will “fundamentally change the balance of security in Europe,” stated NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO responded by bolstering its position in many countries flanking the Russian border. NATO is deploying 4,000 additional troops to the Baltic countries and to Poland.  Another 4,200 troops are set to be deployed in early 2017.  NATO has also just committed to sending four rotating groups of combat battalions to Poland.

Despite NATO having voted to suspend cooperation with Russia, NATO members are complying with the May 27, 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation (Founding Act), even though some NATO members believe it to have been violated by Russia.  Under the Founding Act, significant numbers of troops cannot be permanently stationed in Eastern Europe.  The Founding Act does not define “significant”.  By rotating troops in the Baltic States or the East, Russia is deprived of the pretext of a Founding Act violation to engage in armed conflict.

The “Visegrad Four” – the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – have proposed to NATO that they create a common “rotational” force to bolster defence in the Baltics starting in 2017.  Also in 2017, the U.S. military plans on an increased rotational presence in the East of up to 5,000 troops, including in both Romania and Bulgaria. A number of other countries have committed to or are considering sending troops to the Baltic Region and Poland; with the issue to be discussed at the July NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland.

A 2015 Rand study suggested the need for seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigade, to have a chance of stopping a major Russian offensive. This exceeds NATO’s present capacity. Moreover, such a force would appear overly provocative to Moscow, posing a potent ground offensive less than 400 kilometers from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.

Also bypassing the Founding Act, the air forces of 16 different NATO member states have been actively securing the Baltic air space.  There have been many incidents of these peacekeeping flyovers being improperly threatened by Russian fighter jets.

“There should be no gaps. Deterrence must be the new normal,” stated Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.

If the rotational troops and increased air surveillance caused Russian ire, the U.S.’s recent activation of a land-based SM-3 missile defence interceptor or shield at its base in southern Romania, with a second defence system to be operational by 2018 in Warsaw, has only amplified the situation.  The radar, similar to that on U.S. Navy warships, detects and identifies incoming missiles, then launches interceptor missiles destroying the incoming missile in space.

“To put it simply, our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s Allies. It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO Allies,” stated U.S. President Barack Obama.

Mr. Putin stated that Russia will respond to the U.S. installation of missile defence shields in Romania and Poland as they directly threaten Russian security.

“We are convinced unconditionally that the deployment of an antimissile defense system does indeed pose a threat to the security of the Russian Federation,” stated Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

Analysis

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advised that, “To play a responsible role in the evolution of twenty-first century world order [each country] must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself:

  • What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? The answer defines the minimum condition of the survival of society.
  • What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? These goals define the minimum objectives of the national strategy.
  • What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? This defines the outer limits of the country’s strategic aspirations as part of a global system.
  • What should we not engage in, even if urged by a multilateral group or an alliance? This defines the limiting condition [of a country’s] participation in world order.
  • Above all, what is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? What applications depend in part on circumstances?”

The West seeks to prevent the denigration or disregard of Rule or Law.  It has done so through NATO, it member nations and their alliances and partners.  This is and has been the driving principle for all actions it has undertaken in the Baltic Region, Western Europe, Ukraine, Crimea and the SCS.  With the exception of Crimea, the West has unequivocally indicated it will go to war if provoked by Russia.

As to what Russia seeks to achieve, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has stated, that Russia wants to be treated as an equal partner in foreign affairs, especially in Europe, but that the European Union has failed attribute to Russia the credence that it feels due and justified.  The reality is that Russia will never gain the acceptance of the European Union or the U.S. until it demonstrates adherence to Rule of Law.  This tests the outer limits of Russia’s foreign policy initiatives.

Nonetheless, given the powerful statements from the Kremlin, the European Union may yet be able to positively engage Moscow. After all, a Cold War is nothing more than failed diplomacy.  The European Union must consider the truth; if conditions deteriorate in either the East or the West, the West, in its current state, is not equipped to engage in deterrence let alone defence. In addition to the ongoing fight against terrorism and the distressing presidential elections in the United States, there is a lack of cohesion among European Union members impeding cooperative efforts with NATO and its other partners and alliances.  These are the limiting conditions that the West cannot ignore.

An alternate and more plausible explanation is that Russia, expert at psychological warfare and the use of propaganda, has used the ruse of an attack on the Baltic States, Poland or Romania to deflect public attention away from the South China Sea Dispute.

As for China, “There are a number of political and economic factors which militate against a military conflict, though the probability is not zero,” stated Mr. Pifer.

China seeks to achieve a leadership role in global financial stability.  It has strengthened its global financial position through the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank, known as The BRICS, to which many foreign powers, save the United States, have acceded to one or both.  China’s limiting condition is jeopardizing the many trade relationships it has built, not only with Western countries, such as Great Britain and the U.S., but with countries around the world.  The reality for China it that if SCS aggressions continue, especially in tandem with Russia, it may destroy positive relationships.

A second reality, based on Mr. Kissinger’s decision-making tree, is that China continues its military build-up in the SCS, with or without Russia, and that those countries adhering to Rule of Law are forced by treaty to respond.

As to joint Chinese and Russian military cooperation, while China and Russia have been bound to some degree by a shared ideology, it has thus far never extended to joint military cooperation or to an expansionist philosophy based on the use of force.  In this scenario, diplomatic relations with China might produce a positive result, not just in the SCS, but China may influence Russian interactions elsewhere in the world.

“The United States will make it clear that we are looking for a peaceful resolution to …  the disputes of the South China Sea. Let’s not resolve this by unilateral action; let’s resolve this through rule of law, through diplomacy, through negotiation. And we urge all nations to find a diplomatic solution, rooted in international standards and rule of law,” stated U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during Sangri-La talks held on June 7, 2016 in Beijing.

US Secretary of State John Kerry attends the US – China High Level Consultation on People to People Exchange at the National Museum in Beijing, June 7, 2016. (Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urging other European Union members to undertake “regular and visible” SCS patrols, stated, “If we want to contain the risk of conflict, we must defend this right, and defend it ourselves.”

Previously, the G7 members signed on G7 statements on maritime security and freedom of navigation.

India’s Prime Minister Narenda, following a visit to the White House, stated that it had no comment on the SCS Dispute.  India struggles to meet the energy demands of its citizens.

The necessary diplomacy might transpire at the G20 Summit – comprised of 19 individual countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States—along with the European Union (EU) – to be hosted by September 4 to 6.  While less than 100 days away, it provides ample time for all parties to re-evaluate the current diplomatic posture.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist focusing on geopolitics.  Ms. Lardner is a contributing editor for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive, and her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

Cover Photo Courtesy of Xinhua.

Sources available upon request.

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Allotment Gardens: A Lesson in Sustainable Urban Renewal

In most major American cities, the land adjacent to expressways and railroad tracks is more often than not peppered by low income housing, scrap yards, fast food restaurants, bill boards, porn shops, vacant lots and litter. That’s not the case in many European countries which have a legacy of allotment gardens.  An allotment garden is a piece of land leased from the local government on which city dwellers yearning to be outdoors can cultivate gardens.  Some of these gardens contain structures; some large enough to spend a weekend or even the entire summer.  The gardens are as varied as the gardeners who lovingly tend to them.

Such is the case in the Netherlands where I visited Tuinpark Eigen Arbeid on the outskirts of The Hague[i].  Eigen Arbeid is sandwiched between major thoroughfares and open fields, where wild flowers bloom and cattle lazily graze. For an annual fee of 800 Euros, Eigen Arbeid offers its gardeners a large lot on which they can construct a shelter no larger than 20 square meters or 66 square feet.  While the shelters are more akin to cottages, overnight stays are not permitted at Eigen Arbeid, although that is not the case at all allotment gardens.

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Eigen Arbeid, which also serves as a public park, evokes a feeling of peace, tranquility and being one with nature. There was a quiet buzzing around the garden’s beehives, the silent paddling of ducks around the reeds and lily pads in its corridors of canals, and the sing-song of birds merrily chirping.  Gardeners were seen biking through the Eigen Arbeid; pushing wheelbarrows bursting with plant material, riotous in color; quietly tending their vast array of plants; and relaxing or entertaining on patios made of pavers; some of which were elaborate in pattern. It was so charming that I felt as if I were wandering through an enchanted world.

Some of the gardens were dedicated to vegetables, others were more floral, with the majority being a combination gardens.  A few of the gardens were reminiscent of formal English or Italian gardens.  As unique as the gardens, were the cottages and their owners.  For instance, Gotfriedt and Anneke Meer had a floral garden, where the plant material included anemones, peonies, forsythia, daffodils, tulips, butterfly shrubs, coral bells, ferns, cherry and apple trees.  A focal point was the gently gurgling water fountain.  Behind their garden was a canal and across from the canal, was an open expanse where cattle were spotted grazing off in the distance.

The Meer’s were gracious enough to not only show me around their garden but also invited me into their cottage.  Gotfriedt explained that such cottages cost between 2,000 and 20,000 Euros to construct.  The cottage’s interior was constructed of all natural, unstained wood and contained everything anyone would need for not only a pleasant but, a most comfortable day.  There was couch that opened into a bed, in case the need for a nap arose, cozy pillows, floral curtains fluttering in the breeze, a small table topped with thick novels, wicker arm chairs for guests, a small refrigerator, toaster oven, microwave, propane powered stove and a half bath.  All this without gas or electricity.  Rather, the cottage was powered by four solar energy panels, used rainwater collection, and had a propane stove.  I would be remiss if I did not say that it would mean the world to me to have such a haven to retreat.

After promising to return later in the year, I next met Harry and Reit Burgh.  While their garden and cottage differed, their willingness to share their private world and its history with me was equally humbling.  They acquired their allotment garden in 2006.  Framed on the wall of the cottage was a photo collage showing the garden as it existed in 2006 and the process by which the new cottage was constructed by Harry and their son.  It was rightfully a source of family pride.  The inside of Burgh’s cottage had many if not all of the same amenities as the Meer’s.

Their garden was divided between florals and vegetables.  Reit seemed to be in charge of the flowers, which as the pictures reflect, were already blooming profusely in early May.

The vegetables were already in the ground and thriving due to a series of greenhouses and cold frames.  There was endive, Bibb lettuce, radishes, two kinds of beans, cucumbers, cauliflower and tomatoes.  Harry also had cherry, plum and apple trees; with the apple tree adorned with delicate white blossoms, a promise of the fruit to come.

As the area receives an infinite amount of rainfall, moss and algae growing between the patio’s pavers is problematic.  I know, because my patio in The Hague suffers the very same problem.  Reit showed me how to eliminate the problem using only azijn or vinegar, as only organic gardening is allowed; commercial pesticides and fertilizers are prohibited.  Harry had used a bit of beer in a tin can, its edge level with the soil, as that’s how you catch plant devouring slugs!

At the back of the garden, the Burghs had two compost barrels guaranteeing a continuous supply of nutrient rich soil; a natural fertilizer.

The Burghs told me that during the summer months they often entertained friends and family at their garden oasis.

At Groenewoud Gardens in nearby Utrecht, office buildings are interspersed among the green surroundings of the allotment gardens; some of which are even maintained by the business owners.. The architecture of the shelters was specified to compliment that of the commercial buildings.  The combination created a better office environment and eliminated ground maintenance costs[ii].

Allotment gardens or volkstuinen are by no means new in the Netherlands.  In 1911 the Netherlands passed its first national law on allotment gardens.  There are now over 240,000 allotment gardens in the Netherlands covering 0.12 percent of the Netherlands’ total land area. The average size of an allotment garden is 2 hectares or almost half an acre[iii].  Allotments without a shed or shelter may be as small as 15 square meters or 7 x 7 feet.  Each allotment garden has its own rules, such as whether overnight stays are allowed.  Every spring, the Dutch queue for their chance at an allotment.  Once an allotment is leased, that lease continues indefinitely; a family death often results in the garden being passed down to the next generation.

Allotment gardens not only facilitate social cohesion but, research shows that spending half an hour in an allotment leads to a 22 percent drop in the stress hormone cortisol, twice the amount reading a book[iv].

Agnes van den Berg, from Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, said: “Taken together, our findings provide the first direct empirical evidence for health benefits of allotment gardens. Having an allotment garden may promote an active life-style and contribute to healthy ageing[v].”

Allotment gardens can be found in many European countries, including Great Britain, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.

Allotment gardens are consistent with many of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and serve as a model for both developed and underdeveloped nations.  Goal 1 is to reduce poverty.  Allotment gardens provide a way to not only grow food but to sell any surplus.  Goal 2, Zero Hunger, is closely related.  The organic gardening techniques further Goals 14 and 15; ‘Life Under Water’ and ‘Life on Land’, respectively.  Groenewoud Gardens is an example of SDG 13, ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’.  The use of solar power exemplifies SDG 7, ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’. The documented positive health effects further SDG 3, ‘Ensure Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All at All Ages’.  SDG16 seeks to ‘promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development’; a benchmark met by the social cohesion facilitated by allotment gardens.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner is a journalist, holding degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology. Her blogs are read in over 37 countries.  As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Living in Den Hague or The Hague, she is currently looking for a challenging position in foreign policy, journalism, or social justice.

Endnotes

[i] https://translate.google.nl/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=https://eigenarbeid.nl/&prev=search.

[ii] Stekelenburg, Erik “Garden Shed as Architectural Assignment”, June 17, 2003, as found on the www at https://www.archined.nl/2003/06/garden-shed-as-architectural-assignment.

[iii] “Over 200 hectares of allotment garden liquidations within a decade”, September 17, 2009, as found on the www at https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2009/38/over-200-hectares-of-allotment-garden-liquidations-within-a-decade.

[iv] Adams, Stephen, “Allotments really are good for your health”, November 23, 2010, The Telegraph, as found on the www atwww.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8151638/Allotments-really-are-good-for-your-health.html.

[v] van den Berg et al, “Allotment gardening and health: a comparative survey among allotment gardeners and their neighbors without an allotment”, November 23, 2010, BioMed Central Ltd. 2010, as found on the www athttp://link.springer.com/article/10.1186%2F1476-069X-9-74#article-actions.

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A Royal Inauguration of the International Criminal Court

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On Tuesday, April 18, 2016, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands officially inaugurated the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) new court complex.  The new ICC buildings are located in the dunes between The Hague and the North Sea. Its six gleaming towers can accommodate up to 1200 staff members.

The President of the Court, Sylvia Fernández de Gurmendi, and Sidiki Kaba, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, welcomed His Majesty to the ICC.

From left to right, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the Court, Sylvia Fernández de Gurmendi. and His Majesty King Wilhelm-Alexander of the Netherlands

Dignitaries and diplomats from around the world attended the opening ceremony, including the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders; United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fat Bensouda; and Convener of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, William R. Pace.

Since its July 1, 2002 inception under the Rome Statute, the ICC has stood as an independent international organisation separate from the United Nations system. Recognised by 124 member states, it is a court of last resort, intervening only when member states are unwilling or unable to prosecute to prevent those guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes from evading justice.

The ICC is here to “insure adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law… Perpetrators of crimes must be brought to justice,” stated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Unlike the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, the ICC can prosecute individuals as well as governments. This has created heightened deterrence.

“Accountability a nonnegotiable objective,” stated her Excellency Judge Fernádez.

“The judges administer justice without fear,” stated his Excellency Kaba.

Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, explained that the ICC was effective based on two human faculties: its empathy and its collective resolve.

“Threats to humankind are met by the collective action,” stated her Excellency Judge Fernádez.

Empathy was emphasized by Mr. Ki-moon, who stressed the ICC’s respect for the needs of the victims, who not only offer testimony, but can present their views and concerns at all stages during the proceedings.

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC has a companion organization, the Trust Fund for Victims, which is funded by member states for those situations where the perpetrators are unable to make reparations to the victims.

Several speakers stated that every country that adheres to Rule of Law, akin to core democratic values, ought to belong to the ICC.

To date, the United States, Egypt, Iran, Israel and Russia have signed the Rome Statute, it was never ratified by their governments.  The United States’ reluctance to ratify the Statute was and is based on its desire to protect its troops from potentially politically motivated or frivolous prosecutions.  Most recently, however, the Obama Administration has made efforts to improve relations with the ICC.

China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Turkey are not parties to the Rome Statute.

At the conclusion of the program, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander opened a book; a symbolic gesture of a new era in the ICC.  In accordance with protocol, His Majesty made no formal statement.

After the ceremony was over, the His Majesty and the Secretary-General, as well as other dignitaries, joined the reception where they interacted with the guests.

The author with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.