ACTION ALERT Global Day of Action: May 27

May 26th, 2020 - by Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson & Charlotte Sjöström Becker / International Fellowship of Reconciliation

Fellowship of Reconciliation: Working for Peace and Justice through onviolence sine 1915

Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson / Fellowship of Reconciliation

(May 24, 2020) — As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, I met in solidarity with IFOR branches globally. Together, we decided to act. On May 19th, we sent an Open Letter to the UN Secretary General.

To commemorate International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, May 24th, I joined 240 women leaders in a Global Women’s Appeal for Human Security for Public Health, Peace and Sustainable Development.

On May 27th, we are joining IFOR’s Global Day of Action with the theme, Make Peace The New Normal, using the hashtag #MPNN. 

Throughout the day, FOR-USA will be sharing Peace By The Hour video messages via our social media to support this Global Day of Action.

We’re inviting our members and all interested in making peace the new normal to join us. Here are some ways that you and your community can participate:

Today, Memorial Day in the U.S., we remember the devastating cost of war. As we work to Make Peace The New Normal, we see that we do not need to take war post COVID. Join us on May 27th, and beyond — Make Peace the New Normal!

Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson is the Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation

Human Security for Public Health, Peace and Sustainable Development

A global women’s appeal to commemorate
International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament and the 75th anniversary year of the United Nations

On the occasion of International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament (May 24, 2020) we express our deep concern about the humanitarian and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aggravating impact of con ict and armed violence, and the existential threats to humanity and the environment from climate change and nuclear weapons.

As women legislators, religious leaders and civil society representatives from around the world we call on governments and policy makers to transcend national borders, differing political persuasions and diverse religious beliefs in order to advance humanity’s common interest for peace, public health, disarmament sustainable development and ecological responsibility.

We affirm the vital role of women in peacemaking, policy development and governance. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of women as heads of state, parliamentarians, policy-makers, physicians, scientists, health care workers, and caregivers for children and aged persons. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 highlights the value women can also contribute as active participants of peace and disarmament processes.

The Coronavirus pandemic has undeniably demonstrated that key issues of human security cannot be resolved through military means or independently by nations, but require global cooperation and nonviolent conflict resolution. We highlight the importance of the United Nations, and its agencies like the World Health Organisation and United Nations Environment Program, for building such cooperation, managing global issues and advancing human security.

The global military budget of $1,900 billion ($100 billion alone on nuclear weapons) should be substantially cut in order to better fund the UN (current budget of $6 billion) and support climate protection, public health, resilient economies and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN and WHO should consider establishing an improved process for transparency and information sharing, and for facilitating international cooperation and national management of future pandemics. This process should be developed in consultation with governments, experts and civil society.

We welcome Securing our Common Future, the Disarmament Agenda launched by United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres on International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament in 2018, which outlines the importance of disarmament for the achievement of sustainable development, and of engaging all constituencies in disarmament action, especially women and youth.

And we call for warring parties around the world to agree to the UNSG’s appeal of March 2020 for a global cease re to help combat the Coronavirus pandemic. Such a cease re should continue even as we emerge from the current pandemic, and should be accompanied with signi cant cuts in the production and trade of conventional weapons and small arms, with the goal of achieving sustainable world peace and reducing violence.

Whether we are from Russia or USA, India or Pakistan, North Korea or South Korea, Iran or Israel, East or West, North or South, we share one planet and a common future. It is vital that we use diplomacy, conflict resolution, cooperation, common security and law to address security issues, rather than the threat or use of armed force or punitive sanctions.

The United Nations was established with an array of mechanisms through which nations can resolve conflicts, negotiate disarmament and address humanitarian issues and achieve security through diplomacy not war. We urge all governments to make better use of these mechanisms, including to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice for international conflicts (74 countries have already done so), and to replace nuclear deterrence and provocative arms races with reliance on common security.

The very first resolution of the United Nations called for the elimination of “nuclear weapons and all other weapons adaptable to mass destruction.” Yet, 75 years later, over 14,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world’s arsenals, threatening current and future generations and costing $100 billion annually to modernize and maintain. These weapons must be abolished and the funds for their development and deployment transferred to meet the needs of genuine human security.

We act as leaders in our local communities and countries to address these human security needs. But, as women, we also recognize our shared humanity globally, and the need to collaborate on building a peaceful, secure, sustainable, more respectful and just world.

The world became more united to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. Let us build on that unity, and be torchbearers for a better world embracing human security for our common future.

See following pages for the list of endorsers of this appeal.

Open Letter to UN Secretary-General H. E. Mr. António Guterres and to the UN General Assembly 

Charlotte Sjöström Becker / The International Fellowship of Reconciliation

His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres
Secretary-General United Nations
Headquarters New York City 

Dear Mr. Secretary-General, 

(May 19, 2020) — We are writing to you as International Fellowship of Reconciliation, a global movement seeking to transform, through nonviolence, the world away from endless cycles of violence towards justice, reconciliation, and lasting peace.

As a concerned international NGO, accredited to the UN ECOSOC, we are writing to you to express our appreciation for your efforts dealing with the current health crisis in the world and to share some of our thoughts with you at this difficult time. We join with you in recognizing “the fury of [COVID-19] illustrates the folly of war,” and we thank you for your leadership in calling for a global ceasefire as a first step to “end the sickness of war”.

We are encouraged that your call has resonated with millions across the world, and gained endorsements from 70 Member States, with expressions of acceptance from parties to conflict, and non-state actors as well. We call on all UN member States to support your appeal, to the General Assembly and to the Security Council, and put it into practice. 

The pandemic has revealed the single common vulnerability of humankind, which knows no border. We who are but one of the species on the planet earth must shun our urge for identity superiority or risk even more devastating pandemics. With this shattered illusion of separateness, humanity cannot tolerate war and violence anywhere, as it threatens health and peace for everyone everywhere.

Countries are grappling internally with political, economic, racial, and social divides that exacerbate efforts to contain the virus, while inequity in the global community reveals the new depths of suffering in countries that already bear the brunt of the pain caused by climate change, hunger, economic sanctions and exploitation, and armed conflicts. 

While the impact of COVID-19 on the countries where we have active members has varied, together, we affirm the urgency for a new and creative way forward that builds human security globally through health, economic justice and peace. We therefore appeal: 

1. Prioritize the protection of poor and marginalized people. Economic inequality increases the impact of the pandemic and sets the stage for more devastation with the risk of even greater lethality. For instance, underinvestment in healthcare means many countries are unable to meet the simple challenge of providing personal protective equipment to those in need. Concentrated poverty means sheltering in isolation, and for women and children locked down with abusers, it promises new levels of violence, abuse, and death. 

2. Protect civil liberties and human rights. Emergency legislation rushed through in many countries may serve as cover for oppressive measures and the violation of human rights. Traditionally marginalized communities are forgotten or ignored, and vulnerable people are cut off from official support. We urge you, Mr. Secretary-General, to prioritize and support the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet to adapt the global index for human rights to ensure that it monitors abuses in a world now reshaped by COVID-19 legislation. We urge you to call on all member States for accountability. 

3. Use the momentum of this global crisis to shift resources to meet human needs and create lasting peace. Weapons of war cannot defeat a virus, address climate change, nor solve any other world problem. As States pursue ‘business as usual’ military strategies to contain the virus and create security, the world wastes opportunities to coalesce around creative responses that match the grave nature of this crisis, like protecting the most vulnerable from harsh economic impacts and working in solidarity to ensure global health emergency preparedness.

These are the kinds of creative responses that lead to lasting peace. We call for disarmament and a major reduction in military spending worldwide, starting with the abolition of all nuclear weapons. We call for the conversion of military industry to civilian production and for the end of exports of weapons to states at war or violating human rights.

Humanity will thrive with equitable local community investment and the shift from funding warfare to funding healthcare and peace. We urge the United Nations to invest more capacity and financial support in nonviolent conflict transformation, mediation and Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping. 

Now is the time to create a “new normal” built on a culture of peace and non-violence. We call for global bridge-building and cooperation, and global leadership encouraging increased global solidarity. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals recognize the interconnected reality of our world. With branches, groups, and affiliates in more than 40 countries, IFOR offers its support to UN agencies in achieving these goals.

By highlighting the centrality of peace to a world free from poverty and inequalities, the SDGs challenge the world to put into practice a new way of thinking. Addressing the issues named above ensures that nations can create roadmaps out of COVID-19 that leave no one behind. 

We wish you well and further success in your work. 

Charlotte Sjöström Becker
President of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation

* The present Letter has been sent in cc to H. E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, current president of the UN General Assembly and to the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council.