The New Year: Review and Renewal
EDITORIAL, 3 Jan 2022
There is a wide-spread pattern among many to mark the coming of the New Year by reviewing events of the past year and making “New Years’ Resolutions” of improvements to make in the coming year – a time of renewal. Many will make their own review of the events of 2021 which marked their lives, their country, or the broader world society. Thus we highlight two events that start 2022 and which may provide frameworks for renewal for conflict transformation.
The first event, starting 4 January 2022 at the United Nations in New York, is the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (The NPT). The Review that is held every five years, starting in 1975, was originally scheduled for May 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.
The Review conferences provide the opportunity for both governments and non- governmental organizations to review their policies toward nuclear weapons, their dangers, their potential use, and the policies to move beyond a nuclear age conceived in fear and born with destructive results. As Albert Einstein warned,
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
The Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was an effort to limit the number of states having nuclear weapons. However, the Treaty also has an Article VI, often quoted by non-governmental representatives, in which governments promised to
“Pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament and to a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
The aim of general and complete disarmament under international control has fallen off the agenda of national governments and is rather in the distant background of most non-governmental organizations (NGO). In practice both governments and NGOs have placed an emphasis on reducing the possibilities of armed conflict that might escalate into a nuclear exchange ins specific areas, such as a conflict between the nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
During this 2022 Review, a group of NGOs will highlight the need for the creation of a Nuclear-weapon Free Zone that covers the two Korean states taking into account the nuclear-weapon program of the Korean Democratic Republic. A second geographic emphasis will be on a Nuclear-weapon Free Zone in the Middle East sparked by the nuclear-weapon program of Israel and the potential nuclear-weapon program of Iran.
On many critical issues, political leaders remain prisoners of old ways of thinking and old policy measures. Obviously, putting into place new policies will have to continue after the month-long, 4-28 January 2022 Review. However, guidelines for renewal can be put into place at the start of the New Year.
The second opportunity for renewal at the start of the New Year is the proposed Russian-U.S.A. High-level talks to be held in Geneva during January. It is not clear at this stage how many persons will be in the two delegations, but the national security advisors Iouri Ouchakow and Jake Sullivan are most likely to be the leaders.
During December 2021, tensions among Ukraine, Donbas, Russia have increased, and there has even been talk of war. Tensions between Russia and the U.S.A. in one way or another concern many other countries. Thus, we who are concerned with the resolution of conflicts have a particular interest in building upon what is done in these bilateral discussions.
As the Commission on Global Governance, chaired by Ingvar Carlsson and Shridath Ramphal wrote in their report Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford University Press, 1995):
“At the moment, political caution, national concerns, short-term problems, a certain fatigue with international causes have combined to produce a dearth of leadership on major international issues. The very magnitude of global problems seems to have daunted potential international leaders. And yet without courageous long-term leadership at every level – international and national – it is impossible to create and sustain constituencies powerful and reliable enough to make an impact on problems that will determine the future of the human race on this planet.”
Thus at the start of 2022, we need to prepare the ground for world-level positive leadership. However, leadership rarely arises spontaneously. An analysis of the avenues of leadership, how world agenda items are set and the mobilization of consent are among the tasks to be explored in these TRANSCEND pages.
René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.
Tags: Conflict Transformation, NPT, Nuclear Abolition, Nuclear Weapons, Russia, USA
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 3 Jan 2022.
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