“The Spread of Equal Citizenship Rights Is the Gateway to Peace,“ Says Chairman of the Geneva Centre

By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, May 16 2018 (Geneva Centre)

The Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim appealed to societies worldwide to embrace models of equal citizenship and to harness the collective energy of religions, creeds and value-systems in the pursuit of equal citizenship rights.

Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim

Dr. Al Qassim made this appeal on the occasion of the 2018 International Day of Living Together in Peace which is observed annually on 16 May 2018. On 15 January 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 72/130 declaring 16 May the International Day of Living Together in Peace.

The Geneva Centre’s Chairman said that the “promotion of equal citizenship rights is the silver-bullet to eliminate the fear of the Other and to prevent potential social and/or religious tension or conflict that prevail within multicultural societies and across diverse nations. Inclusive citizenship both at the national and at the global level enables diversity to become a force for social progress.”

In the current context, Dr. Al Qassim noted that the “common good” is threatened by a “pincer movement of two extremes: violent extremism originating in the Middle East and xenophobic populism rearing its head in advanced countries.” He noted that “these trends undermine national, regional and global citizenship models” and contribute to the spread of “religious intolerance, bigotry and fear of the Other.”

Discrimination against, and marginalization of, people associated with specific religions hinder the realization of social harmony affecting adversely the prospects and promises of diversity,” noted Dr. Al Qassim.

To address these ominous trends, he called upon religious leaders and international decision-makers “to harness their collective energy in addressing religious intolerance in the pursuit of equal citizenship rights and in the promotion of global citizenship.”

The Geneva Centre’s Chairman noted that there must be “a process to enhance dialogue between major religious faiths, beliefs and/or other value systems, and to create an open space for interfaith and intercultural dialogue to foster social cohesion.”

In order to contribute to this noble goal, Dr. Al Qassim stated that the Geneva Centre will organize a World Conference on 25 June 2018 in Geneva on the theme of “Religions, Creeds and Other Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights.” This international conference – he noted – aims at uniting the voices of religious and lay leaders in a joint effort to promote equal citizenship rights. It will be held under the Patronage of HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan.

The conference will seek to chart a more inclusive understanding and forward-looking discussion of equal citizenship rights informed by religious pluralism and to unite the voices of religious and lay-leaders in their joint efforts to promote and advance equal citizenship rights. The conference will seek to capitalize on the convergence between religions, creeds and value systems to mitigate the marginalization of minorities worldwide.

Re-discovering the convergence of religions, creeds and value-systems in the pursuit of equal citizenship rights is needed more than ever to address the rise of ominous trends threatening peace, tolerance and co-existence.

The spread of equal citizenship rights is the gateway to the concept of global citizenship, a gateway in other words, to world peace,” concluded Dr. Al Qassim in his statement.

White House Should State Opposition to Saudi Threat to Acquire Nuclear Weapons

Japanese A-bomb survivors and ICAN demonstrate before the UN vote in October 2016. Credit: Peace Boat

By Daryl G. Kimball and Thomas Countryman
WASHINGTON DC, May 16 2018 (IPS)

We are deeply disappointed by the counterproductive response from the Trump administration to the statements from senior Saudi officials threatening to pursue nuclear weapons in violation of their nonproliferation commitments.

We call on the White House to immediately reiterate the longstanding, bipartisan policy of the United States that it will actively work against the spread of nuclear weapons to any country, friend or foe.

President Donald Trump’s reckless decision to violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has blocked Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons and put in place a robust monitoring system to detect and deter cheating, has not only opened the door to an expansion of Iran’s capability to produce bomb-grade nuclear material, but it has increased the risk of a wider nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which is already home to one nuclear-armed state.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir told CNN May 9, that his country, which, like Iran, is a party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), stands ready to build nuclear weapons if Iran restarts its nuclear program.

Al-Jubeir also praised Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and seek to reimpose sanctions on firms and business engaging in legitimate commerce with Iran.

Asked what his country will do if Iran restarts its nuclear program, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “we will do whatever it takes to protect our people. We have made it very clear that if Iran acquires a nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Asked to clarify whether that means the kingdom will work to acquire its own nuclear capability, al-Jubeir replied, “That’s what we mean.”

This follows similar comments by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a March 15 interview with CBS News that Saudi Arabia will quickly follow suit if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

When asked May 9 whether Saudi Arabia would “have the administration’s support in the event that that occurred,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

“Right now, I don’t know that we have a specific policy announcement on that front, but I can tell you that we are very committed to making sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons,” she stated.

The administration’s nonresponse to Prince Salman’s threat in March and Sanders’ weak response May 9 amounts to an irresponsible invitation for mischief.

They imply that Trump administration would look the other way if Saudi Arabia breaks its NPT commitments to pursue nuclear weapons.

It is bad enough that the Trump administration, by violating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has threatened the NPT regime by opening the door for Iran to expand its nuclear capacity.

President Trump and his advisors must not compound that error by swallowing their tongues when another NPT member state in the region threatens to pursue the bomb.

We call on the White House to immediately clarify that it is the longstanding policy of the United States, as an original party to the NPT:

…not to in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons …” and “… 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 ….”

We also call on the U.S. Congress to reject any proposed agreement with Saudi Arabia that permits U.S. nuclear cooperation if Saudi Arabia seeks to or acquires sensitive uranium enrichment or plutonium separation technology which can be used to produce nuclear weapons.