Since 2001 the Peace and Neutrality Alliance in Ireland has campaigned against the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to and from wars. Polls show that 58 percent of the Irish people do not support any connection to these wars. Despite this fact, on May 23, President Obama visited Ireland to thank the government for the use of Shannon. Dozens of organizations have endorsed the following statement: “We support the Irish peace movement’s campaign to terminate the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to and from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Groups wishing to endorse the statement should send their notice to Ireland’s national TV station at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2005 a coalition of political parties, unions, and organizations representing Palestinian refugees and Palestinian citizens of Israel issued the “Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).” However, the groups backing this movement are not a cohesive force, for they differ in their levels of militancy. Some advocate a boycott of goods produced in settlements, while others call for a boycott of all Israeli goods, plus sanctions against the state and divestment from companies invested in Israel.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been too invested in the peace process to support large boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against all of Israel. Nevertheless, even without the PA’s imprimatur, nonviolent resistance has achieved notable successes this spring. For example, the United Methodist Church urged the international community to prohibit financial support for construction of illegal settlements. Also, the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation divested over $900,000 in Caterpillar shares because of its “production and sale of weaponized bulldozers to Israel.” South Africa announced that it will brand all products from the settlements as “Made in Occupied Palestine.”
There have been weekly protests in Bil’in against the separation wall. Moreover, prompted by Khader Adnan’s 66-day fast, about 1,600 detainees called attention to the Israeli practice of “administrative detention,” which allows Israeli forces to arrest Palestinians for up to six months without charge or trial. On May 13 Egypt brokered an agreement giving prisoners the right to have Gazan family members visit them and releasing 20 detainees from solitary confinement.
Source: Adam Gallagher, Program Administator for the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Program.
A preparatory conference for the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was held in Vienna in May 2012, with many workshops and panels organized by participating NGOs.
Considerable interest is focused on two future meetings. One is a conference on a Middle East WMD-free zone, as recommended by the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Finland will host it late in 2012 or early 2013. However, participation by Iran and Israel is uncertain at this point. Israel is not a signatory to the NPT and does not even send official observers.
The other important upcoming meeting will deal with the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Norway will host it next year and will follow up on the UN Secretary-General’s five-point plan for disarmament.
Source: Peter Nicholls
The Twelfth World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates was held in Chicago from April 23-25. Eight individual laureates and 13 organizations participated in the meeting, which was also attended by 6,000 other people, including 2,000 students. Mikhail Gorbachev, who had initiated these peace laureates’ summits, was present, as were the Dalai Lama, Shirin Ebadi, Mohammed Yunus, Jody Williams, Fredrik de Klerk, Lech Walesa, Jimmy Carter, the United Nations, the Red Cross, the UNHCR, Medecins sans Frontieres, Pugwash, IPB, ILO, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, UNICEF, the American Field Service, IPPNW, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Amnesty International.
Instead of formal speeches the laureates all participated in panel debates and lunch/ dinner speeches. Events were live-streamed and viewed by about 130,000-150,000 individuals. The Peace Summit Award was given to the actor Sean Penn, primarily for humanitarian action in Haiti.
Some summit participants met with Occupy Chicago groups who were preparing for the NATO counter-summit, which was to meet in Chicago soon. The Occupy activists, inspired by the young people in Cairo, insisted on their fight to freedom of expression. They felt they were allowed to protest only as long as the protest did not risk being effective.
Source: Ingeborg Breines, Co-president, International Peace Bureau.