The United Nations Prohibits Nuclear Weapons

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By Staff of ICAN – On 7 July 2017, the United Nations adopted a landmark agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Here we answer some frequently asked questions about how the treaty will operate. + What activities does the treaty prohibit? The treaty prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of those activities. In addition, nations must not allow nuclear weapons to be stationed or deployed on their territory. + Is the treaty legally binding? Yes. The treaty is legally binding on those nations that join it. + How many nations must join before it enters into force? Fifty nations must sign and ratify the treaty before it can enter into legal force. Signing is a relatively simple act performed by the executive branch of a government. Ratifying typically involves a legislative process. Once the treaty has entered force, further nations can join it at any stage.

On International Day, UN Promotes Cooperative Solutions For Social Inclusion

Coffee Handlers at Cooperative Café Timor Sifting Coffee Beans. Photo: UN Photo/Martine Perret

By Staff UN News Centre – 1 July 2017 – Cooperatives help to build inclusive economies and societies, and can help to eliminate poverty and reach the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the head of the United Nations labour agency today said, marking the International Day of Cooperatives. “Let us draw on the strengths of cooperatives as we pool efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and make sure that no one is left behind,” the Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder said, referencing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes the SDGs. Decent work is a fundamental mechanism for inclusion and social justice, Mr. Ryder said, noting that decent work is embedded in the SDGs. “It means being particularly attentive to the situation of working women and men who are at risk of exclusion and poverty, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees,” he said, highlighting this year’s theme for the Day, which is to ensure that no one is left behind. Cooperatives allow people to create their own economic opportunities through the power of the collective, the UN has said, but there are still more areas where cooperatives’ potential can be explored.

Women March Around The World To Demand Nuclear Disarmament

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By the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb took place as around 130 governments resumed negotiations in the United Nations on a ground breaking new treaty that will ban nuclear weapons. When adopted, such a treaty will make it illegal for any signatory country to possess nuclear weapons and will impose economic, legal, political, and social barriers to nuclear weapon possession. It will further stigmatize nuclear weapons and help compel their elimination. “The sufferings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have continued through generations. It is time for the governments to listen to the voices of women calling for elimination of nuclear weapons, and this is why you will find us on the streets today” stated Kozue Akibayashi, the President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), which is hosting the march.

Ban Nuclear Weapons? We Need To Ban U.S. Arrogance

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By Diana Johnstone for CounterPunch. The nuclear war peril is manmade, and some of the men who made it can even be named, such as James Byrnes, Harry Truman and General Lester Groves. The United States government consciously and deliberately created this danger to human life on earth. Faced with the United States’ demonstrated capacity and moral readiness to wipe out whole cities with their devices, other countries built their own deadly devices as deterrents. Those deterrents have never been used, which lulls the public into believing the danger is past. But the United States, the only power already guilty of nuclear manslaughter, continues to perfect its nuclear arsenal and to proclaim its “right” to launch a “first strike” whenever it chooses. The United States naturally calls for boycotting the nuclear arms ban conference.

Time To Ban The Bomb

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By Alice Slater for World Beyond War – This week, the Chair of an exciting UN initiative formally named the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination” released a draft treaty to ban and prohibit nuclear weapons just as the world has done for biological and chemical weapons. The Ban Treaty is to be negotiated at the UN from June 15 to July 7 as a follow up to the one week of negotiations that took place this past March, attended by more than 130 governments interacting with civil society. Their input and suggestions were used by the Chair, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UN, Elayne Whyte Gómez to prepare the draft treaty. It is expected that the world will finally come out of this meeting with a treaty to ban the bomb! This negotiating conference was established after a series of meetings in Norway, Mexico, and Austria with governments and civil society to examine the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. The meetings were inspired by the leadership and urging of the International Red Cross to look at the horror of nuclear weapons…

UN Must Face Scientifically Predicted Consequences Of Nuclear War

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By Steven Starr for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – The preamble of the treaty to ban nuclear weapons now under consideration at the UN will be greatly strengthened if it includes a summary of the long-term environmental consequences of nuclear war, as described by a series of peer-reviewed studies done by prominent scientists working at major US and Swiss Universities, as well as at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. These studies are considered to be the most authoritative type of scientific research—subjected to criticism by the international scientific community before final publication in scholarly journals—and the findings of these studies remain unchallenged. The research predicts that a nuclear war fought between emerging nuclear weapon states—with less than 1 percent of the explosive power contained in the global nuclear arsenals—can produce catastrophic long-term damage to global environment and weather. A war fought with 100 atomic bombs can result in the coldest average annual surface temperatures experienced in the last 1,000 years, and this prolonged cold (and drought) would last for several years before temperatures began to return to normal.

How & Why The UN Fails + A Very Unhappy Birthday To Corporate Personhood

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By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy – Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian, theocratic regime that routinely tortures, imprisons and executes dissenters. On top of that, they also are vehemently anti-woman. The guardian system in Saudi Arabia requires that a woman receive permission to do everything – from get an education to travel. Women are also not allowed to drive cars or leave the house without head to toe covering. When they do manage to make it out of the house, they are not allowed to interact with men and all shops, transportation and public areas are gender segregated. Based on this, it seems odd, even ludicrous, that Saudi Arabia would get a seat on a UN Council tasked with upholding and forwarding women’s rights around the globe. But indeed, that happened. Not only that but Saudi Arabia ALSO has a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Then again, so does the US – and many other human rights violating countries – from Brazil to China. So, what gives? What’s up with the UN’s human rights hypocrisies and does this international body really work? Could there be a better, more powerful iteration that actually holds human rights violators accountable, rather than periodically wagging a finger at them and ultimately putting them in charge of human rights?

Women Beware: Saudi Arabia To Shape Global Standards For Women

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By Medea Benjamin. It’s hard to sink to a greater depth of hypocrisy than voting Saudi Arabia onto a UN Commission charged with promoting women’s equality and empowerment. And yet, on April 23rd, that is precisely what the UN Economic and Social Council did. Of the 54 countries on the Council, 47 of them agreed to add Saudi Arabia to a four-year term on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. How did the US Ambassador to the UN and the democratic champions of Europe vote? The ballot was secret, and is it any wonder that the UN representatives refuse to reveal their votes? What is undeniable, however, is that the Saudis could not have received 47 votes without support from the Western democracies. The Saudi regime is notorious for its abysmal treatment of women.

No Joke: U.N. Elects Saudi Arabia To Women’s Rights Commission, For 2018-2022 Term

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By Staff of UN Watch – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch condemned the U.N.’s election of Saudi Arabia, “the world’s most misogynistic regime,” to a 2018-2022 term on its Commission on the Status of Women, the U.N. agency “exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “It’s absurd — and morally reprehensible.”“This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights,” said Neuer. Interview: Why Saudis Joined Women’s Rights Body“Saudi discrimination against women is gross and systematic in law and in practice. Every Saudi woman,” said Neuer, “must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia bans women from driving cars. Why did the U.N. choose the world’s leading oppressor of women to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women?” Saudi women feel betrayed by the UN. “I wish I could find the words to express how I feel right know.

The United Nations In The Age Of Global Dissent

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By Hans Von Sponeck, Denis Halliday and Richard Falk for New Statesmen – US President Donald Trump is ardently embracing a toxic form of messianic nationalism, while demeaning those who oppose him as corrupt, and dishonest enemies. His “America First” chant is creating severe international tension, promoting extremism – within and outside the US – and undermining the homeland security that he has so insistently pledged to enhance. Trump seems determined to implement policies and practices that could signal the weakening of democracy, and possibly even herald the onset of fascism. His programme to deport undocumented immigrants and to exclude all visitors from six designated Muslim majority countries is illustrative of a regressive and Islamophobic outlook. The groundswell of popular dissent is vibrant and worldwide, from Romania to South Korea, Gambia to Brazil, from the UK to the Ukraine. Trump is dangerously exploiting the frustration of citizens with the political establishment, which is unprecedented in its depth and breadth. The umbilical cord that connects those governing with those governed is becoming dangerously stressed.

A Shift In The Public Conversation To Ban The Bomb

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By Alice Slater for IDN – NEW YORK (IDN) – This week (March 27-31) the UN General Assembly held the opening session of a ground-breaking conference “to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” just as the world has already done to ban biological and chemical weapons as well as landmines and cluster bombs. The historic conference began with a bizarre Trumpian boycott on its first day, when Nikki Haley, Trump’s newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN , flanked by the ambassadors from the UK and France stationed in front of the closed doors to the UN General Assembly…

Head Of UN Agency Resigns After Refusing To Retract Report Calling Israel An ‘Apartheid Regime’

Rima Khalaf, former head of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. (Photo: ESCWA)

By Allison Deger of Mondoweiss – Rima Khalaf, the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). resigned today after she was asked to withdraw a report her agency published earlier this week that stated Israel is an “apartheid regime.” “The secretary-general demanded yesterday that I withdraw the report, and I refused,”Khalaf told reporters at a press conference in Beirut today, according to the Middle East Eye. “It was expected that Israel and its allies would put enormous pressure on the United Nations secretary general to renounce the report,” she also said, according to Reuters. Then Khalaf stated that the United Nations “had scrubbed the report from its website.”

On World Day Of Peace, Recognizing Those Who Work For Nuclear Disarmament

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By Gail DeGeorge for Global Sisters Report – In observance of the World Day of Peace January 1, we at Global Sisters Report join in prayer for peace in all regions, for all victims of war and for women religious around the world who dedicate their lives to helping them and to build peace. Sr. Megan Rice, a member of the Holy Child Jesus sisters, was released in May 2015 after serving more than two years in prison for trespassing on a Tennessee uranium enrichment facility. In December 2015, GSR had an interview with Rice about her peacemaking work. Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, a Sister of the Incarnate Word, has researched pockets of tolerance in hostile parts of the Middle East.

Why Security Council Resolution 2334 Matters A Lot More

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By Mark LeVine for Scoop – Those who long ago succumbed to cynicism and hopelessness when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can find many reasons to discount the importance of Security Council Resolution 2334, passed unanimously (14-0 with the U.S. as the only abstention) on December 23. It is certainly true that Israel will ignore and indeed work actively to undermine the Resolution just as it has ignored innumerable other resolutions demanding a halt to settlement construction or expansion. As one activist tweeted shortly after its passage, in all likelihood Israel will expand the seizure of Palestinian land and construction of settlements just to thumb its nose at the UN…

Israeli Hysteria Over UN Vote Solidifying It’s New Status, As Rogue State

An Israeli Defense Forces soldier at Masada in February 2015. (Israel Defense Forces / Evan Lang & Adi James Brown / Flickr)

By Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – President Obama’s decision to allow passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal has done more to change the shape of the conflict than any other action in the last ten years, even than Israel’s massacres in Gaza. He has nudged Israel, and the media, toward recognition of the country’s new status, as a rogue state; he has split the Israel lobby right down the middle, or down the side anyway; and he has given huge impetus to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).