Commission 1: Right to Peace – Hanoi 2009

    Part of the Hanoi Congress – XVII Congress of IADL, June 2009

    Topics included:

    • UN Charter and abolition of war under national constitutions
    • Current problems of global and regional peace
    • Outlawing nuclear weapons and all Weapons of Mass Destruction
    • Right of self-determination and the role of United Nations
    • Peace and Reconciliation Processes.

    Report of Commission 1 on the Right to Peace

    The Commission 1 was about the “Right to Peace,” coordinated by Prof. Osamu Niikura (Japan).  The commission was chaired by Ms. Micol Savia (Italy) and Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoang Anh (Vietnam), and the Rapporteur was Ms. Rachel Pastores (the Philippines).  It started with a key note speech given by Prof. Hideo Yamagata (Japan), with more than 10 speakers who animated vigorous and sincere discussions over the theme.

    The following principles and main points were raised, discussed and agreed upon during the presentation of the papers to the Commission:

    Peoples around the world have a sacred right to peace.  The right of the peoples to peace transcends all other rights, as it enables the exercise of these rights by leading needed innovations for social development.  Peace, however, must be based on a pure concept of social justice, so as to be genuine and lasting.  It also requires analysis of the root causes of conflicts which are to be finally removed or redressed.  Immediate actions must be made to tackle on urgent issues such as poverty, environmental destructions, claims for land and natural resources, increasing gaps between rich and poor, and so on.

    Each state has a fundamental obligation to ensure preservation of the right of the peoples to peace.  State policies must be directed towards the elimination of threats of war, particularly nuclear war, and the renunciation of the use of force in international relations as well as the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations.

    Each State must adopt appropriate measures at both levels national and international to attain this end. International cooperation is necessary and required for its achievement.  In this regard, it is very important for us, lawyers, to make an appeal like the Stockholm Appeal of March 1950 which recalled the criminal character of nuclear weapons and proposed to bring to justice whoever first used such weapons for a crime against humanity.

    Except in the exercise of one’s right to self-defense to uphold national freedom and right to self-determination as recognized in international law, the prohibition on the threat or use of force in international relations as provided in the United Nations Charter, the prohibition on the manufacture, use and deployment of nuclear weapons, and total disarmament must be strictly adhered to.

    States must stop their investments into arms, and refrain from militarism for the sake of construction of peace between nations and even within a nation.  Massive education campaign must be made in order to foster better understandings of the right of the peoples to peace on the basis of social justice so that peoples’ strong will and aspiration to a just and peaceful world can be expressed and imposed upon the States.

    The United Nations should play a vital role in ensuring the right of the peoples to peace, especially the UN Security Council.  When faced with a problem that can represent a threat to international peace and security, the Security Council must first try to resolve it by peaceful means.  Unfortunately, however, the Security Council used to reinforce its decisions not only by enacting sanctions such as arms embargo or trade and finance restrictions, as well as ceasing of air and sea contact or diplomatic isolation, but also by authorizing Member States to use all the necessary means, including collective military actions.

    The Commission however observed that powerful countries especially the G8 use the UN Charter and the veto power of the Security Council for their own interests or to evade their own responsibilities in violation of the UN Charter.  The powerful states have reduced the UN to a bureaucratic instrument for their own purposes.

    The Commission also agreed that the veto power of the permanent members of the Security Council should be restricted and reviewed.  The Commission also stressed the illegality of the use of the veto power to protect the interests of the powerful states and to justify clear violations of the UN Charter.

    The Commission observed the bias of the Security Council in favor of powerful states.  It cited the case of the Security Council decision during the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq where enforcement measures were immediately applied including authorizing the use of force but its eyes remained closed on  Israel’s military aggression on Gaza and the attacks to and occupation of Palestine.  Similarly, the UN agreed and authorized the immediate use of force by NATO against the former Yugoslavia, while the military attacks of the United States and other NATO member states to Afghanistan and Serbia were placed outside the purview of the UN collective security.

    The Commission stressed that the overarching job of the UN is to maintain and preserve peace, and not to police activities that only legitimizes or authorizes (let alone make) war.

    The Commission cited the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1816 concerning the situation in Somalia, which called for the elimination of pirates with military force and even allowed the use of force and incursions into Somalian territorial waters by warships.  The Commission views this UN Security Council Resolution as deviation from the principles of international law.  The Commission agreed that the problem of piracy can be resolved through the improvement of the country’s economy so the people would no longer need to engage in piracy and not through the use of military action.

    The Commission fully supports the sincere efforts of North and South Korea towards a peace agreement.  The Commission agrees that the differences between North and South Korea can be resolved through negotiations between the two parties without the intervention of external forces especially the United States.  The Commission agrees to fully support activities that would eliminate the threats to peace in the Korean peninsula.

    The Commission also reiterated IADL’s support for the retention of Article 9 in Japan’s Constitution.  History tells us that it is very dangerous for Japan to engage in any form of military activity in Asia and around the world due to its nature of being aggressive. The Commission agreed that the adoption of a peace provision like Article 9 in each country’s constitution is timely and would largely contribute to ensure and maintain peace not only in Asia but throughout the world.  As experienced by Japan, Article 9 restricted its military deployments to Iraq and other countries.  It can also be used to prevent the production and use of weapons of mass destruction.  The Commission agreed to fully support and adopt Japan’s global Article 9 campaign.

    The Commission agreed that to ensure and maintain peace it is necessary to eliminate not only the causes of war but also the instruments of war.  The Commission agreed to support the struggle and call of the people in Okinawa and all people around the world to stop the continuous construction of US bases or military establishments.

    Similarly, the Commission need not emphasize the effects of the use of nuclear weapons as the experience of the people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima taught us.  The Commission agreed to support all activities for the denuclearization of countries engaged in the production of nuclear weapons.  The use and production of nuclear weapons is anathema to the peoples’ right to peace.  Each state must make concrete action plans for the reduction and thereafter complete abolition of nuclear weapons.

    The Commission believes that the IADL must participate and actively engage in activities to ensure the peoples’ right to peace.  In connection with this, the Commission would like to propose the following actions in addition to the calls mentioned in the papers submitted to the Commission:

    1)     Regarding the use of veto power, it is proposed that the IADL undertake theoretical research concerning the legitimacy of the use of the veto right of permanent members in the Security Council;

    2)     The IADL conduct activities and campaigns to educate the people regarding the responsibilities of states under the UN Charter to insure effective implementation and compliance by member states of the provisions of the Charter;

    3)     The IADL plan activities to campaign for the inclusion of a peace provision similar to that of Article 9 of the Japan Constitution to the constitution of other countries.

    Needless to say, the Global campaign for Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution should be conducted in order to reinforce our concerted efforts to make peace all over the world.  Nuclear disarmaments, or even the general and complete disarmament, should be sought in order to save future generations from the scourge of war forever.

    The road to peace based on social justice is long, winding and arduous.  There are no shortcuts in the genuine quest for genuine peace.

    Bearing in mind the fundamental principles of international law set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, all States and stakeholders must work together with mutual respect and with the common goal of seeking peace by upholding national freedom, genuine democracy and social justice.

    The IADL must unceasingly do its part and actively contribute for the attainment of the right of the peoples to peace and justice.

    Download papers presented at Commission 1 (Hanoi 2009):