John Donne: Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
Comments by David G. Littman, NGO Representative for the Association for World Education (AWE) and World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) UN Geneva.
On Friday, November 28, the Association for World Education addressed an “˜Urgent Appeal” to the President of the Human Rights Council and the High Commission for Human Rights on the ongoing Jihadist massacres in India:
Mumbai: Condemn killings in name of God or Religion — any Religion.
On Monday, December 1, I concluded our brief oral statement (reduced from three to two minutes for all NGOs) to the 8th Special Session of the Human Rights Council (on the tragic “Situation of human rights in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo”) in referring to the Mumbai monstrosities by quoting John Donne and our “˜Urgent Appeal”. I was not ruled “˜out of order”.
Mr President, we wish to conclude by expressing our profoundest condolences to India and to all the bereft families of the more than 200 massacred, and the hundreds maimed and marked for life by that barbaric crime committed before the eyes of the world — and of this 8th Special Session. What more profound thought than those immortal words of the 17th century poet John Donne: “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” In this spirit of mourning, we are making available our “˜Urgent Appeal” to you and to the High Commissioner, delivered on Friday, and entitled: Mumbai: Condemn all killings in the name of God or Religion — any Religion.
This oral statement is reproduced below, as well as our written statement on the need for reconciliation Bridge-Builders in Congo (A/HRC/S-8/NGO/2).
The 8th Special Session concluded its deliberations by arriving at a “˜consensus” resolution (A/HRC/S-8/L.2/Rev.2) on: “Situation of human rights in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo” — with the EU and others accepting the Egyptian resolution (with revisions) and dropping their draft resolution. It is enough to compare the passage cited in our previous article from the EU text with the final “˜version” in the Egyptian revised draft resolution (African Union)
increasingly widespread cases of sexual violence, summary executions, recruitment and use of child soldiers by the armed groups, cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment, massive displacement of populations and plundering of villages”¦” (EU draft text)
in particular sexual violence and the recruitment by the militia of child soldiers.. (African Union final text)
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STATEMENT by Representative David G. LITTMAN — 1 December 2008
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL — 8th Special Session (28 November and 1 December)
The Situation of human rights in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Our session today [on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reminds us of the Special Session of the Commission in 1994 on the genocide in Rwanda. At that Special Session we all regretted that we had not read carefully the advance warnings contained in the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions where he had warned of growing tensions — warnings lost in the mass of documentation always presented to us at those sessions.
Ten years later on 7 April 2004, Secretary-General Kofi Annan offered [59th session of the Commission on Human Rights] his humble words of sincere, personal contrition:
We must never forget our collective failure to protect at least 800,000 defenceless men, women and children who perished in Rwanda ten years ago”¦we must all acknowledge our responsibility for not having done more to prevent or stop genocide.
Once again, the analysis of our Special Rapporteur on the DRC indicating that little was being done to deal with the root causes of the conflict has not been heeded — as with Darfur. In fact, it was precipitately decided at the March Council session eight months ago that the situation in the DRC concerned us so little that the post held by Special Rapporteur Titinga FrÃ©dÃ©ric PacÃ©rÃ© should be abolished. The harsh criticism of the Special Rapporteur and the improved rosy picture described on the ground, as described by some representatives whom we shall not name [Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Russia and others] can be seen on the webcast and need no further comment from us].
Now events come back to remind us that the efforts for the protection of human rights and reconciliation must be constant and at the local level. Thus we call attention to our written statement, which is available on the need for local level bridge-builders to begin their task now [A/HRC/S-8/NGO/2].
Mr President, we wish to conclude by expressing our profoundest condolences to India and to all the bereft families of the more than 200 massacred, and the hundreds maimed and marked for life by that barbaric crime committed before the eyes of the world — and of this 8th Special Session. What more profound thought than those immortal words of the 17th century poet John Donne: “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” In this spirit of mourning, we are making available our “˜Urgent Appeal” to you and to the High Commissioner, delivered on Friday, entitled: Mumbai: Condemn all killings in the name of God or Religion — any Religion.
Thank you Mr. President.
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Written Statement by the Association for World Education
(UN General Assembly document: A/HRC/S-8/NGO/2).
Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Need for Reconciliation Bridge-Builders*
The Association for World Educations welcomes this 8th Special Session of the Human Rights Council as violence is growing in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, basically the administrative provinces of North and South Kivu. The violence could spread to the rest of the country as Angolan troops may come to the aid of the Central Government as they have in the past while Rwandan troops are said to be helping the opposing militia led by Laurent Nkunda. While Nkunda and his Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) say that they are only protecting the ethnic Tutsi living in Congo, Nkunda could emerge as a national opposition figure to President Joseph Kabila.
The United Nations has some 17,000 peacemakers in Congo (MONUC), the UN”s largest peacekeeping mission, but their capacity is stretched to the limit. Their mission is to protect civilians, some 250,000 of which have been driven from their homes since the fighting intensified in late August 2008. Despite the MONUC troops, we note that there are large-scale occurrences of wilful violations of human rights and humanitarian law by all parties in the conflict, with massive displacement of populations, plundering of villages, systematic rape of women, summary executions and the use of child soldiers.
The eastern area of Congo is the scene of fighting at least since 1998 “” in part as a result of the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994. We regret that efforts at reconciliation, reform and reconstruction have not been carried out in the eastern provinces.We note that the illicit exploitation of natural resources, the inability to deal with land tenure and land use issues, the lack of social services and of socio-economic development have created the conditions which lead to the current violence.
The people in eastern Congo have lived together for many centuries and had developed techniques of conflict resolution, especially between the two chief agricultural lifestyles: that of agriculture and cattle herding. However, recent economic and political factors have overburdened the local techniques of conflict resolution and have opened the door to new, negative forces interested only in making money and gaining political power.
UN peace-keeping troops are effective when there is peace to keep. What is required today in eastern Congo is not so much more soldiers under UN command, than reconciliation bridge-builders, persons who are able to restore relations among the ethnic groups of the area. The United Nations, national governments, and non-governmental organizations need to develop bridge-building teams who can help to strengthen local efforts at conflict resolution and re-establishing community relations. In the Kivus, many of the problems arise from land tenure issues. With the large number of people displaced and villages destroyed, it may be possible to review completely land tenure and land use issues.
We were among those in the early 1950s who stressed the need to create UN peace-keeping forces with soldiers especially trained for such a task. Today, a new type of world civil servant is needed “” those who, in areas of tension and conflict, can undertake the slow but important task of restoring confidence among peoples in conflict, establishing contacts and looking for ways to build upon common interests.
* Text: Rene Wadlow, Main Representative, Association for World Education (UN-Geneva).