23rd Annual Plenary Meeting
22-23 July 2005
Stanford University, California, USA
As the InterAction Council held its 23rd Annual Meeting at Stanford University, California, U.S.A., the world confronted a challenge governed by two fundamental forces: those that affect the planet as a whole and can only be dealt with by common international actions, and those that concern only certain parts of the world but whose evolution and consequences impact the entire international community. Action is long overdue.
Present State of the World
1. Worldwide, democracy is making progress. Democratic values are gaining ground in the aspirations of people, providing serious hope that democracy will continue to spread.
2. Fighting terrorism, extreme poverty, and implementing the Rule of Law can be effectively pursued only at a global level. Increasing global economic imbalances, a growing nuclear threat, continued poverty in the Third World, and increased terrorism each present complex and troublesome issues on the world stage. To address these issues, it is imperative to strengthen an international system which is trusted and respected. Our most established system, the United Nations, is simply as effective as its individual members; the failure of the UN to solve global issues is simply the failure of its individual members to adequately address them. As the most powerful nation, it is particularly important for the United States to play a constructive role and provide leadership. The UN Secretary-General has proposed a major reform of the United Nations. This reform is essential to the improved effectiveness of the UN and should be supported.
3. Regionally, in the Middle East, a degree of optimism has arrived in the wake of three elections. Whether this optimism will last remains highly uncertain. With continued insurgency in Iraq and myriad challenges facing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, keeping the window of opportunity open in the Middle East is a key priority. The U.S. must exert its influence to achieve a just settlement between Israel and Palestine.
4. The rejection of a constitutional treaty is a major setback in Europe. The European Union must incorporate its planned reforms, including increased majority voting, a stable presidency, and an increase in the powers of the Parliament. It is in the interest of the world as a whole that Europe surmounts its current crisis and renews its march toward stronger union.
5. The increase in poverty in Africa cannot be tolerated by the international community. The Council welcomes the priority given to Africa at the G8 summit in Scotland July 6th-8th and calls upon the heads of government to establish effective mechanisms to ensure that proposals for increasing aid, reducing debt, and liberalizing trade are clearly established. It is particularly important that the international community increase grant aid. For the G8 to show global leadership on African development, heads of government must agree on a comprehensive plan of specific actions to address Africa’s complex and interlinked problems. They should begin by building on the work and recommendations of the Commission for Africa, the New Partnership for African Development, and the African Union. In addition, countries must push vigorously for a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations.
6. It is likely that China’s rapid growth will continue and this will strengthen the world economy. The emergence of China as a significant global player will see a change in the dynamic within and between regions and nations. We will need far sighted diplomacy to manage this change.
7. With the projected growth in the world population, more attention will be needed on the issue of immigration to increase understanding and to reduce tensions.
Therefore, the Council recommends:
• That the United States returns to its traditional role of multilateral leadership.
• That states support the Secretary General’s proposals for the reform of the United Nations contained in the report “In Larger Freedom.”
• That the EU implements the major innovations of its Charter.
• That the G8 commit to a doubling of international aid and a radical reduction of rich countries’ agricultural subsidies.
• That developed countries re-commit to the UN goal of 0.7% of GDP for overseas aid. This is crucial to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the United Nations in 2000.
• That the international community renew its commitment to ensuring basic human rights, even in the context of terrorism.
• That the U.S. takes a lead role to establish a viable Palestinian state and to provide security guarantees for Israel and Palestine.
8. Nuclear weapons are illegal, morally unacceptable, militarily unnecessary and extremely dangerous. To reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe, states should achieve the objectives of Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to move to the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.
9. The first short term goal for states is to reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons and the risk of deliberate or accidental use. The Council urges the U.S. and Russia to remove all strategic nuclear weapons from “high alert” status.
10. Specifically, states should:
• Enhance security of non-strategic nuclear weapons, consolidate their existing stocks, reduce their absolute numbers, and move toward elimination.
• Develop the “Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty” and eliminate highly enriched uranium in the civilian nuclear sector as soon as technically feasible.
• In particular, the United States and Russia should make the 1991 and 1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives to reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons legally binding, verifiable and irreversible.
11. The Council encourages the provision of assistance to states seeking to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (April 2004) which explicitly affirms that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
12. The Council emphasizes the important but under-utilized role of education in disarmament and non-proliferation. Continued ignorance can be catastrophic. The Council encourages the use of new teaching techniques and information and communication resources to provide nuclear education to diverse audiences for the purpose of developing critical thinking skills and changing mindsets and belief systems.
13. Nuclear issues relating to North Korea and Iran must be resolved peacefully. Continued rhetoric about forced regime change has proved counterproductive to this goal, and will make resolution more difficult to achieve.
14. There should be a debate within NATO and among alliance members about tactical and strategic policy concerning the use of nuclear weapons. In the Council’s view, such a debate about NATO strategy would underline the fact that there is no continued practical use for any nuclear weapons other than to deter a nuclear armed opponent from their use.
Therefore, the Council recommends:
• That the United Nations Security Council monitor progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and the adequacy of the regime against nuclear proliferation.
• That declared nuclear weapons states adopt a “no first use” policy in relation to nuclear weapons.
• That Russia and the United States remove strategic nuclear weapons from a status of “high alert.”
• That nuclear states secure all vulnerable nuclear weapons in order to combat nuclear terrorism, and fully implement the 1991/1992 Declarations on Tactical Nuclear Weapons.
• That the international community bans the production of highly enriched uranium and eliminates it from the civilian nuclear sector.
• That the United States ends its development of destabilizing weapons systems, which breaks its commitment to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
• That North Korean and Iranian issues be resolved diplomatically, with North Korea returning to its NPT obligations. Further, the NPT should be significantly strengthened.
• That NATO members begin debate concerning the tactical and strategic use of nuclear weapons forthwith.
• That nations utilize education as an essential non-proliferation tool to rebuild the foundation of leadership and to change fundamental beliefs and ideas about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
• That the G8 states support a series of practical and effective steps leading to the ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.
Small Arms Trade
15. Nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous; yet, small arms and light weapons kill over 500,000 people annually, approximately one person per minute, day and night. Access to illegal arms is increasing. It is critical to coordinate reforms in legal frameworks governing arms transfers, possession, and use throughout affected regions. States must ensure that domestic legislation reflects a firm commitment to international humanitarian law and human rights.
16. Arms producing countries should recognize their special obligation to reduce proliferation of small arms and light weapons and should take steps toward controlling trade. In addition, arms manufacturers should adopt and implement a restrictive code of conduct to eliminate arms transfers to zones of conflict and human rights abuse. Current United Nations’ efforts under the Program of Action should be supported and expanded. The purpose should be to give the Program universality and the force of law.
Therefore, the Council recommends:
• That arms producing states take a lead role in the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty to limit and regulate international trade in small arms.
• That the international community supports the United Nations in its Program of Action, to eliminate the illicit trade in small arms and to establish mechanisms for tracking their sale.
• That these recommendations are relayed at the upcoming G8 meeting, where the question of the conventional arms trade is already on the agenda.
Human Rights and Human Responsibilities in the Age of Terror
17. Since the Council began its work on responsibility in 1987 the concept of responsibility has come to the fore in a growing number of groups and settings. The Council welcomes this development, but also recognizes that there has been dangerous slippage particularly in the wake of September 11th.
18. Since September 11th, we have seen adherence to basic principles of human rights challenged on many fronts. Democratic nations that were once leaders advancing human rights norms – nations that once steadfastly defended principles of due process and the rule of law – have succumbed to abrogating basic rights to fight terrorism. The Council believes that the true test of the commitment to human rights is willingness to preserve those rights even when confronted by the most ardent enemy. Even in the age of terror, it is the responsibility of all persons and all states to observe human rights.
19. Human rights are the inalienable possession of all people, including future generations. The departure from basic human rights is to be deplored. This reversion cannot be allowed to continue. There are some who believe that the acceptance of basic human responsibilities, and particularly the focus of the proposed Declaration of treating people humanely and telling the truth, would do much to change this situation and to once again advance the cause of human rights.
20. Without leaders and governments making ethical decisions that allow citizens the opportunity to enjoy those rights, the goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can not be adequately achieved. The international community would do better in the war against terror if it could demonstrate that the war will be fought while respecting and implementing rights and responsibilities.
21. What is required in the global architecture is a document which outlines core principles of moral responsibility, a code of ethics which places a premium on truth, respect for every individual, and concern for the security and well being of all. Many problems are caused by the absence of political will, the failure of which underlines the need for a publicly stated code of ethics.
22. The Council’s document on human responsibilities recognizes the importance of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but also acknowledges the need to expand the concept of “duties owed by everyone” as articulated in Article 29. As noted in the Council’s document, there must be explicit attention to the truth-telling responsibilities of individuals, corporations, private associations, non-governmental organizations, the media, and governments, among other responsibilities.
23. The Council should engage in an educational campaign to promote the concept of responsibility to all of these groups. This effort will create a more receptive environment for the adoption of the concept by governments and the United Nations. Rights and responsibilities are both critical to the welfare of all peoples. Rights for all, responsibilities from all.
Therefore, the Council recommends:
• All collective bodies – corporations, labor unions, NGO’s, the media, and others – that have a charter or a code of ethics, to re-examine them with the intention of formulating a statement of rights and responsibilities.
• That we recognize that our responsibilities to our children, elders, friends, local community and international community are not exhausted by rights alone, and that the examination of responsibilities greatly enriches our moral perspective and vocabulary.
• That states adhere to human rights in all circumstances.
• That renewed efforts be made to advance the concept of human responsibilities.
The InterAction Council members expressed during the Opening Ceremony of the 23rd Annual Meeting their deep condolences to the families, friends and compatriots of the late Prime Minister Lord Callaghan of Cardiff of the United Kingdom and applauded the achievements of the late Takeo Fukuda, the founder of the InterAction Council, on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
The InterAction Council extends its warmest thanks to the Hoover Institute, Saga Foundation and other local hosts as well as to the Government of Japan and the Government of Korea for their continued generous support.
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