EUROPEAN NETWORK FOR PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
We thought you would like to know what happened at the Cordoba Dialogue on Peace and Human Rights in Europe and the Middle East, which took place on 25/26 November.
By general consent, the meeting was a breakthrough. Forty-five people from twenty countries participated. The discussion was informative and thoughtful. After two full days in plenary session, the meeting resolved to establish a continuing network to further the cause of peace and human rights, bringing together interested organisations in Europe, the United States and the Middle East/West Asia region. This resolution is pasted below.
The meeting also agreed resolutions on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the Kurds, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the US military presence in the Middle East, and on human rights in Chechnya (texts available on request).
Bahig Nasser from Egypt submitted a keynote paper on the Middle East and New US Military Policies, which will be of great interest to peace movements everywhere. This is also available on request.
We also paste below a short article about the Cordoba meeting which records some of its main achievements. Please feel free to publish it.
With every good wish.
Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
Resolution on Continuing Dialogue
The dialogue which has begun in Cordoba this November already shows how urgent it is that we should foster closer co-operation between those who support peace and human rights in Europe, the United States and the Middle East.
War now directly threatens not only the people of Iraq but also the peoples of a far wider region, and particularly in Iran. War can resolve none of the advertised problems in these areas. On the contrary, as the Afghan conflict has plainly shown, it leaves behind vast problems of social dislocation in destroyed infrastructure. Huge impoverishment becomes endemic.
The condition of the Palestinian people can only be aggravated as the more aggressive forces in Israel are emboldened, while international support may be eroded in a climate of war hysteria.
Human rights, far from being upheld, are undermined not only in and around the war zones, but within the dominant powers themselves, as rational argument becomes more difficult and hysteria rules.
In the effort to continue the work we have begun, we resolve to establish a permanent network to link movements in Europe, the United States and the Middle East to exchange information and co-operate in joint activities against war and for social justice, and to carry on our work in future meetings and exchanges.
The imminent danger of war in Iraq has led to the launching of an international peace network embracing Europe, the United States and the Middle East. The first steps for this were taken at a conference of peace and human rights movements from these three regions, which was held in the historic Spanish city of Cordoba on 25 and 26 November.
The choice of venue was symbolic, as Cordoba was one of the great cities of Islamic civilisation in Spain, where a spirit of tolerance many centuries ago led to a flowering of culture. The conference, organised jointly by the Municipality of Cordoba and the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, was in itself a dialogue of civilisations in miniature, which brought together representatives of peace movements in the United States and Europe with those from the International Islamic Committee for Human Rights, Iran's Islamic Human Rights Commission and Palestinian, Kurdish, Turkish, Syrian, Yemeni and other Middle Eastern organisations. Algeria's founding President, Ahmed Ben Bella, played an active role.
The emphasis was very much on the devastation that could result from a war in Iraq, and the erosion of human rights, in the United States and elsewhere, that has already begun as a result of the war against terrorism.
Although opposed to war in Iraq, the Cordoba conference heard a number of critical voices of the policies of Saddam Hussein: the Iraqi Communist Party and Kurdish representatives were particularly opposed to his regime. But there was a widespread anxiety that the present US administration is using Saddam Hussein's policies as an excuse to advance its own designs for world conquest.
A major part of the conference's attention was devoted to the Palestinian question, as the main issue over which violence is currently going on in the Middle East. The final statement adopted on this subject stressed that "the root cause of the problem in Palestine is the fact that Israel is still occupying Palestinian lands".
The statement also said that "it is the responsibility of the United Nations to force the Israeli government to abide by international law, starting with implementing Security Council resolutions." The participants in the conference also called on the international community "to take a strong position opposing the ongoing war crimes committed by Israel against basic Palestinian human rights."
During the two days of intensive discussions on current tensions and threats to peace, and the dangers to human rights in a number of countries, the need was stressed for the Middle East to be made a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, Israeli as well as Iraqi.
The most important decision of the conference was to establish "a permanent network" to link peace and human rights movements in Europe, the United States and the Middle East: "War now directly threatens not only the people of Iraq but also the peoples of a far wider region and particularly in Iran," according to the final statement of the conference, and if war breaks out, "the condition of the Palestinian people can only be aggravated, as the more aggressive forces in Israel are emboldened, while international support (for the Palestinian cause) may be eroded in a climate of war hysteria."
It warned that "human rights, far from being upheld, are undermined not only in and around the war zones, but within the dominant powers themselves, as rational argument becomes more difficult and hysteria rules."
The conference concluded that the threat of war over the Iraq crisis makes it urgent "that we should foster closer co-operation between those who support peace and human rights in Europe, the United States and the Middle East." The network will be "an effort to continue the work we have begun" and will "exchange information and co-operate in joint activities against war and for social justice, and carry on our work in future meetings and exchanges."