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Challenging Nonviolence
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Monday, 11 March 2013

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 March 2013 )
Tuesday, 19 June 2012


The United Nations Arm Trade Treaty and the Importing & Transit States in East Asia

Nonviolence International Southeast Asia recently concluded a regional conference on the Arms Trade Treaty focusing on East Asia as importing and transit states entitled “Are the customers always right?”

The conference is part of a series of earlier meetings and years of work by the Control Arms coalition, with the support of the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK FCO), to engage states on the Arms Trade Treaty and provide them with timely practical research in the belief that dialogues and information can contribute to an effective and well meaning arms trade treaty which will be negotiated in New York in July 2012.

In the hopes of improving civil society engagement in the East Asian region, and conduct broader research and exchange of information pertinent to import and transit issues, a conference was held in Manila last March 12-13, 2012. Among those who attended were members of the civil society and state representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and United Kingdom. Pursuing a more meaningful discussion and to encourage participants to be more open of their opinions and findings, the second day of the conference was set under Chatham House Rule.

Prior to the conference, representatives of civil society organizations had a meeting to discuss the objectives of the conference, to compare the challenges from the different areas, and to come up with coordinated efforts in the region.

This paper does not represent any of the participants nor the presenters. This paper reflects the data, presentations and discussions prior to and during the conference. Although some of the tables and data used came from presenters, no part of this paper can be attributed to a single opinion.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 June 2012 )
On the Kidnapping of ICRC Personnel in Sulu PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 30 January 2009

[Statement of the Civil Society Initiatives for International Humanitarian Law (CSI-IHL)

The Civil Society Initiatives for International Humanitarian Law (CSI-IHL) joins other concerned quarters in condemning the recent kidnapping of three personnel of the impartial humanitarian body International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by armed elements in Sulu, and in calling for the safe soonest unconditional release of these ICRC persons, including in appealing to the better senses and consciences of their captors.  At the same time, all those concerned about and working for this safe release would do good to take stock of certain legal, factual and practical parameters.    

As has already been pointed out regarding this incident, ICRC personnel are humanitarian relief personnel who must be respected and protected under international humanitarian law (IHL), both under customary rules and under treaty provisions, and both in international and non-international armed conflicts.  Likewise, under these and other norms of international law, the taking of hostages is prohibited, even considered an act of terrorism, and in the case of the taking of ICRC personnel as hostages, a war crime. Aside from being part of IHL and international law, these rules and norms are derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and the dictates of the public conscience.  And in the Muslim law on war, the persons of the hostages are inviolable and they must be treated with much consideration.   

At the same time, the kidnapping incident in question cannot be simplified to have been done in the context of an armed conflict between government and dissident armed forces.  It cannot be simplified by automatically blaming the usual suspect, the "Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)."  Our own preliminary inquiries with Sulu sources point to a more mixed group of perpetrators with kinship interconnections in varying ways to the local police, military, politicians, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and ASG. Under the circumstances and based on experience, it is quite possible though that some "turnover" may be made to an established ASG commander in the vicinity in order up the ransom ante.  What we have here appears to be more the phenomenon of kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) in the Zamboanga, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (Zambasulta) area rather than a situation of internal armed conflict, even if contending armed forces are implicated.  

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 January 2009 )
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Three weeks before major negotiations start in Dublin for an international treaty to ban cluster munitions, Southeast Asian countries have met under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Bangkok 24-25 April to share views on the draft treaty and the weapon that has affected their region so severely.

The contamination caused by the use of cluster munitions in South East Asia is the most severe and widespread of any region on earth. Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia have dealt with the human, social and economic impacts of cluster munitions for four decades.

Cluster munitions with at least 380 million bomblets were scattered across these countries in the Vietnam War and according to the best estimates available at least 115 million of these were left on the ground unexploded and are maiming and killing civilians to this day.

"These weapons cause unacceptable harm and must be banned" said Alfredo Lubang,  member of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) and regional representative of Nonviolence International in Thailand.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 April 2008 )
Lessons learned from the crisis in Burma PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 October 2007

By Diana Sarosi

People from all walks of life have filled the streets around the world over the past few weeks in solidarity with the Burmese and their struggle for freedom and democracy. The Burmese strength to defy an extremely oppressive regime and their commitment to nonviolence is truly admirable. Although not much attention is paid to this, the Burmese have been defying the military regime nonviolently throughout the last twenty years, ranging from small acts of resistance in their daily lives, such as turning their lights of every night at 8, to public acts exemplified in the weekly Tuesday prayers for their icon Aung San Suu Kyi at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangoon. Although nonviolence has been questioned by many, the Burmese are not willing to give up on this noble idea. The recent events have once again demonstrated their strong conviction to remain truthful and not play by the rules of their ruthless opponent.

Tragically, states’ responses around the world have failed to match the strength of the Burmese. Government’s reactions, basically amounting to complacency with the Burmese junta, have once again provided evidence that that we are facing a global crisis.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 07 October 2007 )
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