Trade unions and armed conflicts: using the weapons of dialogue and solidarity, 25.11.2003
Iraq: Global Unions Deplore Unacceptable and Unjustified Decision To Go To War, 20.3.2003
Iraq: TUC General Council (U.K.) unanimously opposed to unilateral military action, 26.2.2003
Iraq: New Zealand CTU calls om Bush to abandon Crusade for War, 14.2.2003
Iraq: KCTU (South Korea) denounces US 'war drive' in Iraq, 13.2.2003
Iraq: Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO-Norway): No to war against Iraq, 30.1.2003
Iraq: SEIU (USA) Executive Board Outlines Principles on Iraq, 27.1.2003
Iraq: ICFTU warns of danger of a "slide into war" 24.1.2003
Iraq: American Federation of Teachers Strongly Supporting Efforts to Disarm Saddam Hussein, 23.1.2003
Iraq: CWA (USA) opposes unilateral US war on Iraq, 22.1.2003
Iraq: the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) - War is no solution!, 13.1.2003
Afghanistan: COSATU (South Africa) Statement on the US Attacks on Afghanistan, 8.10.2001
September 11: AFL-CIO (USA) Executive Council statement after September 11: A Call For Justice, 8.11.2001
Afghanistan: Transport Unions are against terrorism and war
DGB (Germany), Basic Programme (excerpt) Human rights, peace and disarmament
September 11: KCTU: (Korea) Oppose Terrorism & War! Start a Movement to Build Peace! 17.9.2001
12-page report published 25.11.2003
Brussels, 25 October (ICFTU OnLine): What can trade unions do in the face of an armed conflict, whether it be a conventional war between two countries, a civil war or even acts of terrorism?
As millions of Turks responded to the call of Turkish unions and NGOs to peacefully protest this weekend against the attacks that claimed over 50 lives last week in Turkey, attacks which the international trade union movement has strongly condemned, the ICFTU is today publishing a special report entitled "Trade unionists: social diplomats?".
Along with bread and freedom, peace forms part of a trio of essential priorities which has driven the international trade union movement since its early days. The priority of peace and security is indeed closely linked to the trade union struggle for democracy, human rights, social justice and non-discrimination.
The report covers the pioneering "Great Lakes inter-union movement" in East Africa, the international trade union campaign for the protection of Colombian trade unionists, the alliance of transport unions with Amnesty International to protect refugees, the post-genocide reconciliation efforts of the Rwandan unions and the Cypriot trade union forum for unity on the island. It also examines the international trade union movement's efforts to keep up the dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists and the fight waged by the Irish union centre ICTU against sectarianism, giving an overview of how trade unions are striving for peace, whether it be prevention or reconciliation, with the weapons of dialogue and solidarity.
Highlighting the example of the Central and Eastern European Women's Network, the report also sheds light on the role of women trade unionists as a driving force in conflict resolution.
As well-practiced negotiators, having signed millions of collective agreements aimed at improving the lives and working conditions of workers all over the world, trade unionists are experienced in the management and resolution of all types of conflicts. "The countries where the institutional participation of trade unions is greatest are also those where the level of conflict is the lowest," underlined ICFTU Assistant General Secretary Jose Olivio Oliveira, during a seminar recently organised by Belgian trade union movement on this subject. Therefore freedom of association, as the basic condition for the existence of independent, free and representative trade unions, is essential to fully enable labour organisations to play this vital role.
The United Nations plays a fundamental role in conflict prevention and resolution, as well as the post-conflict reconstruction work. This is one reason why the ICFTU insists on the need for the international community to have an effective UN organisation with adequate resources, and with authority that is respected by all.
As concluded by ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder, "From the international level, where unions are pushing for progress in effective global governance as a prerequisite for fair and just globalisation and for a peaceful and secure world, through to the regional level where unions are bringing together people from neighbouring countries to tackle the causes of actual and potential conflicts, to the national level, where trade unionists in a number of countries put their own lives at risk in defence of democracy and social justice, the trade union movement is in the forefront of campaigning for an end to conflict and an end to the causes of conflict."
20 March 2003
ICFTU OnLine (Brussels, 20 March 2003): The international trade union movement has repeatedly warned of the dangers of a “slide into war” in Iraq. The launching of this military conflict by certain governments in the absence of clear United Nations authority is unacceptable and unjustified. Real possibilities for resolving this crisis through peaceful means and with the broadest international support have been squandered by this rush to war.
For years, the Iraqi dictatorship has defied the United Nations and world opinion by violating the human rights of its people and through belligerent actions against others, and few would mourn the passing of this brutal regime. Global Unions* deplore the recourse to the rule of force rather than the use of legitimate UN processes at a time when the role of the UN and the multilateral system in ensuring global peace, security, human rights and economic development is needed as much as at any time in history. Nations must work to avoid and resolve conflicts through diplomacy and in accordance with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and international law. Governments must now take urgent action to restore commitment to the UN.
Global Unions are deeply concerned at the likely loss of life that will result from this conflict, and urges that every possible measure be taken to minimise casualties and protect life, including the lives of civilians, humanitarian workers, media workers and others whose work brings them into proximity with the conflict. We call upon all parties to the conflict to respect in full the principles enshrined in all relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.
Urgent action is required to deal with the looming refugee crisis and humanitarian emergency. The international trade union movement urges all countries to fulfill their obligations to assist and support those affected. A major re-building task in Iraq will also be required, and we urge all governments to work together through the UN to carry out this task. The governments which have initiated this conflict have particular responsibilities in financing the necessary reconstruction through the UN, and in ensuring that the Iraqi people themselves have full control over and benefit from the enormous potential wealth of the country. The UN’s International Labour Organisation should have a key role in this process, in supporting economic reconstruction and in ensuring respect for human rights and specifically the rights of working people as foundations for a truly democratic society.
Global Unions are gravely concerned at the likely wider implications of an armed conflict, in particular in the Middle East region. In the long term, peace and stability in the region depends crucially on the spreading and deepening of democracy, the full respect of workers’ and other human rights and just and sustainable development. It depends as well upon a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We urge the international community act without any further delay to help bring Palestinians and Israelis onto the road to peace, co-existing as two sovereign states on the basis of the relevant UN Resolutions.
Working people and their trade unions around the world have raised their voices to call for the Iraq crisis to be resolved peacefully and through the UN. Now, many trade unions are calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. The international trade union movement shares these concerns and fully supports all legitimate and peaceful protests by trade unions against this decision to go to war.
New determination and new initiatives to tackle conflict peacefully must now be the resolve of the entire international community, and we must redouble our struggle to make social justice a reality for all people.
The Global Unions grouping will continue and redouble its efforts to ensure that the paramount objectives of international peace and security are met at all times in accordance with the provisions of international law, through the United Nations. We call on all our affiliates to intensify their actions to promote respect for the United Nations and commitment to its vital role in avoiding and resolving conflicts peacefully.
26 February 2003
'The General Council recall and reaffirm the positions adopted by Congress in 2002, the key points of which were that the emphasis should be on a multilateral approach working through, and only with, the explicit authority of the UN Security Council; that they unambiguously opposed any military action being contemplated by the US or any other country on a unilateral basis; that the Government should seek to align with our EU partners its response to any initiative by the US Administration; and that military action should only be an option as a last resort, if all diplomacy failed, and if there was evidence made generally available which clearly demonstrated that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems and posed a real threat to world peace.
'On the evidence currently available, the General Council do not judge these conditions to have been met and for war to be justified. They reiterate the view of Congress that to avoid the desperate human cost that would arise in the event of war, particularly on the various peoples of Iraq and the massive refugee problem which may be caused, every effort should be made to find solutions through diplomatic and peaceful means with the UN playing a central role to ease tension and avoid war, with the clear objective of achieving disarmament and not regime change.
'The General Council are deeply concerned at increasing indications that the United States Administration backed by the British Government and some others, is intent on military action in Iraq within weeks, and that action might be taken without the explicit authorisation of the UN Security Council. They emphasise that this approach is not supported by working people and their families, their trade union organisations led by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade Union Confederation, and the majority of peoples and Governments worldwide. The General Council welcome the joint statement of the President of the AFL-CIO and the TUC General Secretary on 30 January in advance of the meeting in Washington of the US President and British Prime Minister.
'The General Council welcome the massive and historic demonstrations against war held in London, Glasgow, Belfast and other towns and cities around the UK on February 15, in which hundreds of thousands of trade unionists participated, and believe that no democratic government can embark on a war without the consent of the people. The General Council note the opposition to war of such leaders as Nelson Mandela, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and believe that moral repugnance towards any regime cannot on its own be sufficient justification for war. The General Council note that many British trade unionists will be affected directly or indirectly by any conflict, including as a result of the economic consequences of war. They are also concerned at the dangers of an increase in racial tensions and a possible increase in racist attacks and activities in the event of war.
'The General Council are concerned at the damaging consequences of action taken without the sanction of the Security Council for multilateral institutions, such as the UN and NATO, and for the future development of the European Union. Such action would further destabilise the Middle East region as a whole and exacerbate the problems in Israel and Palestine.
'The General Council reiterate the condemnation by Congress of the continuing political, national and religious oppression by the Iraqi regime which has resulted in great human suffering and a massive flow of refugees, as well as its persistent flouting of the decisions of the United Nations since 1991, which included 17 Resolutions. They insist that Iraq should respect the terms of UNSC Resolution 1441 and co-operate fully with the weapons inspectors.
'The General Council have considered the reports of the chief weapons inspectors to the UN Security Council on 14 February and the subsequent debates in the UN and in the EU Council. It was clear that the inspectors believed that, while Iraq did not meet the requirements of Security Council Resolution 1441 and previous Resolutions and should co-operate fully, particularly concerning large unaccounted-for quantities of deadly chemical and bacteriological agents and in respect of prohibited long-range missiles, they also believed that the inspection process had not run its course.
'The General Council believe that the monitoring and inspection process should be given the time required and be ongoing until the Security Council decide otherwise. The adoption now of a further Security Council Resolution aimed at short-circuiting this process would only undermine the unanimity reached over UNSCR 1441.
'The General Council are requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister to press him to use whatever influence he may have on the US Administration, even at this late date, to work towards a peaceful solution by all available means. The General Council will be closely monitoring events in the coming days and may be reconvened urgently - on an extended basis to include representatives from all affiliated unions - to consider the TUC’s position further.
'The General Council support the joint statement of the Foreign Secretary and the Norwegian Foreign Minister on 21 January that ‘the international community must take as much care to address the crisis in Israel and the Occupied Territories as the crisis that results from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction’. They call on the Prime Minister to press on the President of the United States the need for active support in seeking a lasting settlement based on the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions, notably 242 and 338, including the ending of the settlements policy and the creation of a viable Palestinian State alongside Israel.'
Read TUC press releases at www.tuc.org.uk
President George Bush C/o Ambassador Charles J. Swindells, Embassy of the United States of America, Wellington
Dear President Bush,
I write on behalf of the 34 unions which are affiliated to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, representing more than 300,000 working New Zealanders who are concerned and alarmed by the daily statements by you, and other US leaders, suggesting that the United States will take unilateral military action against Iraq outside any United Nations’ mandate and in apparent disregard of international law.
In Ambassador Swindell’s Christmas newsletter he noted that when the terrorist attacks in New York and Pennsylvania took place the New Zealand Government’s response was “quick, genuine, and very much appreciated.” All New Zealanders condemned the terrorism and grieved for the victims.
It is therefore bitterly ironical that we now face a situation where, as part of the U. S. Government’s “war against terror”, it intends to ignore our only world governance institution, breach international law and, in the face of overwhelming opposition from world opinion, take military action against Iraq which will inevitably result in the loss of many more innocent lives.
The Council of Trade Unions supports the strengthening and implementation of treaties and conventions for the elimination of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons through United Nations processes. We also support mandated international inspection of all countries developing and producing weapons of mass destruction.
However, we do not believe that a war is justified. If there is a decision whether or not to invade Iraq, it should be made by the United Nations in circumstances that are free from undue economic or political pressure on member nations, and in accordance with the UN Charter.
The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is also an affiliate of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and we fully agree with the comments of Guy Ryder, ICFTU General Secretary who has called for the crisis to be handled through the United Nations and warned that the poor will suffer most from war - whether in Iraq or in a developing world least able to absorb the economic dislocation of a major conflict.
We therefore urge you to abandon this crusade for war and seek instead a diplomatic solution that can unite the world against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and terrorist actions.
Ross Wilson PRESIDENT
Statement by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, February 13, 2003
The U.S. should stop immediately the war against Iraq and the military threat imposed on Korea peninsula!! -- Participating in the international day of action for peace and against war on February 15
Facing the eve of war on Iraq and the increasing threat of war on Korean peninsula by the U.S. imperialist, we, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, on behalf of working people in our country, express our warm solidarity to the international campaign against war and will join the international day of action on February 15 in collaboration with various Korean people's and social movements.
The U.S. had attacked Afghanistan using the excuse of 'war against terrorism' after Sept. 11. It resulted in tremendous victims and sufferings of innocent Afghanistan civilians. After the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. has shifted its military target into Iraq under the plea of a big threat to its security. Although there is no convincing evidence that the Hussein regime is supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction, a military action on Iraq seems imminent and the U.S. is now even touting the possibility of using nuclear weapons. In spite of international public opinion of anti-war, the U.S. declares unilateral invasion regardless of the absence of the consensus of the international community. Military action in Iraq not only threatens the livelihood of Iraqi people but also jeopardizes the safety and security of the entire world.
The U.S. is driving another war in the Korean peninsula addressing the North Korea nuclear issue. The U.S. has not only threatened North Korea with preemptive nuclear strike but also suspended the supply of heavy oil to the North, followed by the suspension of food aid. Regardless of the demands of the Korean people to solve the issue in a peaceful manner, the U.S. has increased military tension over the Korean peninsula by pushing ahead with additional military deployment. The threat of war on the Korean peninsula becomes more and more serious. We can confirm it in the open comment of "Next to North Korea" by British Prime Minister Blair.
We, the KCTU, oppose a US led war against Iraq and its unilateral militarism. We, the KCTU, oppose any plans of the Korean government to join the military action in Iraq which serves merely for anti-humanitarian mass destruction or to lend any form of support to the invasion of Iraq. We, the KCTU, ask the international community not to cooperate with the war against humanity.
In South Korea, the candlelight vigils to mourn the two teenage schoolgirls run over by a U.S. military vehicle shortly after the start of the World Cup is evolving into an anti-war campaign, not only for the normalisation of the unequal relation between Korea and U.S., but also for world peace. The candlelight vigils reflect justifiable demands of the Korean people to eradicate all kinds of crimes that have been committed by U.S. troops for more than the last 50 years. The Korean people also demand an end to unequal relationship.
Taking the opportunity of international day of action against war on Feb. 15, we, the KCTU, will struggle against war on Iraq and US military hegemonic project, which threaten the peace of Korean peninsula, in solidarity with workers and all peace loving people over the world.
February 13, 2003
30 january 2003
LO-Norway believes everything should be done to avoid war. A war will not solve the problems the world is facing today with regard to Iraq. A war will inflict even more suffering on the civilian population of Iraq. The country will be exposed to enormous destruction, and international terror will increase rather than decrease.
Statement from the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO-Norway)
No to war against Iraq
Iraq is one of the most repressive and totalitarian regimes in the world, with comprehensive and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The UN weapon inspectors have so far not found any evidence on Iraq having a secret stock of weapons of mass destruction. The USA is nevertheless carrying on its threats of war, and contributes to increased international tension, both globally and in the region.
LO-Norway believes everything should be done to avoid war. A war will not solve the problems the world is facing today with regard to Iraq. A war will inflict even more suffering on the civilian population of Iraq. The country will be exposed to enormous destruction, and international terror will increase rather than decrease.
The USA has no right to act as world police in this situation. Only the UN Security Council may make legitimate decisions with regard to measures to be taken against Iraq.
LO-Norway demands the Government to state clearly that every peaceful means must be used to avoid war. The weapon inspectors must be given the time they need to complete their investigations. The Government must insist that a military action against Iraq presupposes new discussions in the Security Council. A new and unambiguous mandate from the Security Council is an absolute precondition for the use of force in relation to Iraq.
Following thorough discussions in the Security Council, the Government must, according to the usual procedure, freely consider what Norway's stand shall be with regard to participating in a possible military action.
LO-Norway will carry on its active peace work, both nationally and internationally, and urges its members to participate in the large demonstration to be organised by the Peace Initiative on February 15.
On January 27, the SEIU International Executive Board -- which includes 60 local union leaders representing more than 85% of SEIU members -- sent the letter shown below to President Bush.
While our union cannot deal with every issue facing our nation and our communities, some issues rise to such importance and have generated enough activity by members and local unions to require our attention as the largest union in North America. The board decided that the pending U.S. invasion of Iraq is one of those issues.
The board agreed that it is important to allow for a discussion within the union on this issue so members can participate in a national decision that could seriously affect all of us.
January 27, 2003
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Bush:
SEIU members, like other Americans, have a wide range of opinions about important policy issues, but we all care about human life and about our country. It is the working people of America and our children whose lives will be on the line if our government cannot resolve conflicts without war. In that spirit, we want to express our concerns and outline our principles:
First, war involves enormous risks to our families and our communities and must be the last option, not the first. Many SEIU members serve in the Reserves, and many have relatives in the Armed Forces whose lives would be at stake in an expanded war in the Middle East. Additionally, any attack on Iraq runs the risk of sparking a new cycle of violence and provoking new acts of terrorism here at home, as well as distracting our government from combating terrorists abroad. A war also will drain away billions of our tax dollars at a time when our economy, our health care system, our schools, and vital state and local services desperately need to be strengthened.
Second, the goal of our foreign policy must be to promote a safer and more just world promoting peaceful, multilateral solutions for disputes. The U.S. should not take unilateral action unless our country or its close allies are under attack or face a clear, imminent threat. If we proclaim the unilateral right to attack and invade countries that have not attacked us, what is to stop others around the world from doing the same, creating a spiral of war that has no limits?
Third, U.S. foreign policy must give high priority to improving the lives of people around the world. In the labor movement, we have known for generations that when there is no justice there is no peace. America must work with other industrialized nations to fulfill our obligation to help developing countries reduce hunger, homelessness, and preventable disease. Our country should promote democracy, education, and opportunity; negotiate new trade agreements that raise living standards and environmental protection in all nations; and focus on finding a just peace in the Middle East.
Fourth, the rights and freedoms our government says it is fighting for abroad must be protected here at home. It is unacceptable to tell American workers in the Homeland Security Department or Justice Department or who screen baggage in airports that they are not entitled to the right to form a union that they have enjoyed for forty years. One of America’s greatest strengths is our basic civil liberties including the right to free speech, to privacy, and to due process. Today, hard-working, taxpaying immigrants are being targeted, held without rights, and forced to live in fear in a country they love. It is in moments of crisis like this that we test our commitment to our fundamental constitutional freedoms.
Our government’s current policies do not live up to these four tests. We urge you not to invade Iraq in violation of these principles and ask you to work with the Congress and the United Nations to set a course that will provide lasting security for all. That is the best way to honor those who died on September 11, who serve in our armed forces, and who work hard every day to make America work by providing the services our communities depend upon.
Andrew L. Stern, International President
on behalf of the SEIU International Executive Board
Read more: http://www.seiu.org/action_center/principles_iraq.cfm
24 January 2003
Brussels, 24 January, 2003 (ICFTU online): The ICFTU today warned of the dangers of a slide into war in Iraq, and called for the crisis to be addressed through the United Nations as the surest means for preserving peace and guaranteeing international security.
The rapidly escalating military build-up runs the risk of short-circuiting the processes which are currently taking place under the authority of the United Nations Security Council and which have the legitimacy of international law.
Military action outside the UN framework would undermine, not contribute to, international security. Such action is on present evidence unnecessary and would be unacceptable.
A peaceful solution to the real threats posed by the Iraqi dictatorship to its own people and to the world is possible and is needed urgently. The ICFTU renews its call upon the international community to work together, through the UN, to bring this about.
The ICFTU represents 158 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org
For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 475 67 08 33
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions(ICFTU)
Boulevard du Roi Albert II 5, B1, B-1210 Brussels, Belgium. For more information please contact ICFTU Press on: +32 (2) 224 0232 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommends coalition approach if military action is unavoidable
23 january 2003
Washington, D.C. - The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Executive Council, in recognition of the security threat that Saddam Hussein’s regime poses to the world, voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution that supports United Nations, NATO and congressional resolutions calling for his government to disarm.
"AFT supports the U.N. resolution with the hope that war can be avoided, but with the sober recognition that military conflict may become unavoidable as a last resort," reads the AFT resolution. It expresses the AFT’s strong preference that "military action in Iraq be taken in concert with an international coalition of allies or the United Nations," but "recognizes that the United States may at times have to act unilaterally in defense of its national security."
The AFT resolution stresses the importance of long-term American support to provide the Iraqi people "both the freedom and means to run their government" and to develop a democratic civil society. Recalling the post-World War II Marshall Plan to assist Europe in rebuilding its economies, the AFT called it "a moral and practical imperative that any international military action in Iraq must be followed by a comprehensive and fully funded international program."
The resolution also acknowledges the Executive Council’s concern that President Bush is pursuing a partisan domestic agenda at a time of war. "Nevertheless," the resolution states, "we know that our position on national security issues must be taken in response to security threats and not from our disagreement with the administration on other issues."
Before debating and voting on the resolution, AFT Executive Council members were briefed by Rend Rahim Franke, executive director of the Iraq Foundation. Ms. Franke spoke about the activities of the anti-Saddam Hussein Iraqi coalition and recounted the atrocities perpetrated against the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein’s government.
"This resolution reflects AFT’s long history of support for democratic movements, both nationally and internationally," said Sandra Feldman, AFT president. "Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, AFT supported the efforts of teachers and workers to fight the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and to overturn apartheid practices in South Africa, as well as to provide moral and material support to the Solidarity movement in communist Poland."
The AFT works with educators in many parts of the world to promote democracy through education. In 1989, AFT created Education for Democracy/International, a project that promotes educational activities that improve the teaching of democracy and civics throughout the world.
Read more: http://www.aft.org/about/resolutions/2003/iraq.html.
# # #
The AFT represents more than 1.2 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers, paraprofessionals and other school support employees, higher education faculty, nurses and other healthcare workers, and state and local government employees.
The CWA Executive Board approved the following statement on January 22, 2003:
Statement on War with Iraq, January 22, 2003
The September 11 attacks by al Qaeda brought together citizens in the United States and throughout the world. The horror and heartlessness of those events dispelled differences and united us in a demand for justice and in a promise to ourselves and to next generations: we would support all efforts to track down those guilty of killing thousands of innocents on that infamous day; we would support efforts to forge a new multilateral commitment to oppose terrorism worldwide; and we would, through these efforts, restore the sense of peace and security to our land and to the world that was lost during the attacks.
But the laser focus on bringing al Qaeda to justice has shifted even though that terrorist organization has not been tracked down. Instead, the Bush Administration has cast the spotlight on Iraq and Saddam Hussein. While Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator, he is not an imminent threat to our country. There is no credible evidence linking Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda, nor with any imminent attack on the United States.
CWA joins the AFL-CIO, other patriotic organizations, veterans of past wars, and concerned citizens in expressing our belief that we must defend our nation's security against any threat or incursion. Our view is supported by international law which allows a preemptive strike when there is clear evidence that an attack is imminent. But nothing in our history, nor in international law, sanctions a unilateral, preemptive war such as a U.S. invasion of Iraq would entail. Thus, we urge caution, patience and deliberation before engaging in war with Iraq. We urge unified, multilateral action through the United Nations.
History has taught us that we should not act unilaterally in military matters. The current situation shows that we need not. Following the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution, Iraq agreed to permit the resumption of weapons inspections. This was a major policy triumph for the United Nations and the rule of law. On January 27, 2003, the United Nations weapons inspectors will submit their first report, marking, as the weapons inspectors themselves point out, the beginning, not the end of the weapons inspection process. Our allies are urging caution, as this process requires time and patience. We should stand with our traditional allies and support the United Nations process.
We join with AFL-CIO President Sweeney and others in the labor movement who believe that our nation's long-term interests require that we assemble a broad international coalition for an aggressive and effective policy of disarmament in Iraq and work through the United Nations to the greatest extent possible to accomplish it.
At home, we have pressing domestic priorities as well. In the previous Gulf War, our allies shouldered their fair share of the burdens of war both in assigning fighting forces and funds. If we embark on a unilateral invasion, the full burden of a war with Iraq and the nation rebuilding that would follow would fall on the United States with an estimated cost extending to hundreds of billions of dollars.
War should always be the last resort. The sons and daughters of America’s workers will be the ones called upon to make sacrifices. Already, many National Guard members have had their tours extended. Planned military discharges have been canceled, disrupting families' lives. While we have answered the call to duty, there is inadequate evidence to support an invasion of Iraq at this time.
We urge Iraq to give complete access and cooperation to the United Nations inspection teams and immediately disclose any weapons of mass destruction that may exist on its territory.
Further, we urge the Administration and the Congress to support an invasion of Iraq only if it is sanctioned by the United Nations and enjoys the broad multinational support as existed in Desert Storm.
13 January 2003
Executive Board statementon the IRAQI conflict
It is with great concern that the DGB observes the deployment of US troops in the Gulf region. Although the United Nations arms controls have so far come up with no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime continues to harbour weapons of mass destruction, an attack on Iraq seems imminent.
The international community of nations has repeatedly condemned the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein and called on Iraq to respect fundamental human rights. Saddam Hussein is responsible for the plight of the Iraqi population and the brutal persecution of minorities and political opponents.
We support all peaceful means of fostering humanitarian improvement of the situation in Iraq and of contributing to lessening the threat in the crisis-ridden region. The DGB is firmly opposed, in this situation, to any attempt to achieve these goals by the use of military force.
• The international attempt to overcome terrorism and the potential for mass destruction, in particular in the hands of dictators, is a matter for he community of nations and not for a single country, even if that country is currently the only superpower. If the possibility of a lastresort use of force must be allowed for, this has to be subject to a United Nations’ decision, based on its global monopoly on the use of force, and the rules of international law.
• The DGB still believes the international alliance against terrorism to be essential. However, it sees the chances of success as lying above all in combating the evil at source. As long as poverty and misery, political oppression and social exclusion are part of people’s everyday experience in many parts of the world, the scourge of terrorism will not be eradicated. It is new economic, social and development policy initiatives that are needed, not recourse to military force.
• The DGB warns against the incalculable political and economic risks entailed by military intervention in Iraq and which could lead to destabilisation of the Middle East as a whole. Even worse is the fact that the main tribulations resulting from a military conflict would be inflicted upon the already sorely tried Iraqi civilian population.
• The DGB supports the German government in its stance of noninvolvement in another Iraqi war and calls upon it to broadcast this stance increasingly loudly and clearly in the coming weeks. All peaceful options to avoid conflict must be brought into play. It is the responsibility of the German federal government to enlist support for a peaceful solution in the UN Security Council.
Berlin, January 13, 2003
8 October 2001
COSATU condemns attacks against Afghanistan by the US and its allies on the 07 September 2001. While the attacks may appear justifiable and logical, in COSATU's view they add to a vicious cycle of violence. It is worrying that the US has hastened to attack Afghanistan without convincing the world beyond doubt about the culpability of Osama bin Laden and his crew in the deplorable attacks on the US on the 11 September. Preferably, the UN should have taken leadership in resolving the current impasse between the US and Afghanistan. The US track record as a referee and a player, particularly in the Middle East is questionable. Hence the need for an impartial world body such as the UN to play a key role in resolving the current impasse.
Unfortunately, the UN has become ineffective in resolving conflicts such as the current one mainly due to the attitude of the US and other dominant countries. When it suits their purpose the dominant countries use the UN and when it does not suit their agenda these countries act outside of the UN. This has discredited the UN and creates conditions for 'unilateralism' and for dominant countries to act with impunity.
In the final analysis the attacks may spark further retaliatory attacks and may mobilise support for Osama bin Laden and his group. This will plunge the world in an internecine spiral of violence that the world cannot afford, and ultimately undermine world peace and stability. In COSATU's view, this is a time for cool heads in search of political and not military solutions. At the end of the day it is the ordinary Afghan citizens, like in Iraqi that are going to suffer. This will further worsen the social crisis that has engulfed the country for some time. The humanitarian crisis that is now unfolding in that region compounds a famine that has faced Afghanistan.
COSATU believes that the world should seek justice and not vengeance. The perpetrators of the September 11 attacks on the US must be apprehended and placed before a court of justice. In the long run what is needed is a concerted and long-term campaign to combat terrorism not quick fix military strikes. The quick fix solutions have proven ineffective during the gulf war and in other regions where the US preferred military intervention.
The effects of the US actions, particularly the negative spillover effects on the economy, will be felt by the rest of the world. If the current attacks worsen the world economic situation, the poor will be the brunt of an economic slowdown. It is for this reason that there is a need for a co-ordinated political action under the auspices of the United Nations.
Against this background, COSATU calls on the US and British governments to reconsider their position of military action and seek a political solution under the auspices of the UN. COSATU is encouraged by the South African government decision not to participate in military action and hope that it will maintain this position throughout. The South African government has a duty to mobilise other UN members for a political solution to the current impasse.
Further, COSATU would like to urge the Taliban administration in Afghanistan to cooperate with the international community so that those that there is evidence that they participated or engineered the deplorable attacks should stand trial. Until there has been due process, the involvement or otherwise of bin Laden and his group, the accusations amounts to sheer and dangerous speculation. The US government must also swallow its pride and engage the Taliban in direct talks rather than issuing ultimatums.
The federation also condemns last night's attack on the mosque in Pretoria. Such attacks are misguided and fuels hatred towards people of different religious faith. The police must swiftly find the perpetrators. COSATU wishes to express its sympathy and solidarity to the Islamic community and appeals for calm and religious tolerance.
Issued by the COSATU General Secretary on behalf of the Federation
8 November 2001
Fighting the Terrorists
The AFL-CIO is firmly committed to bringing the perpetrators of the heinous September 11 attacks to justice. The United States is justified in invoking its international right of self-defense to attack those who initiated this horror, then celebrated it and promised further attacks on the American people. The terrorists have demonstrated their willingness to pursue malevolent aims through the vilest of means, without regard to the loss of innocent life or other costs. We are gratified that our NATO allies invoked Article 5 for the first time in the proud history of that alliance, declaring this attack on the United States an attack upon all. We are pleased the United Nations joined in a resolution imposing mandatory obligations on all member countries to cut off terrorist financing and to eliminate safe havens for terrorists. And we support our country's effort to assemble a global coalition to hunt and eliminate terrorists, their networks and their sanctuaries across the globe. Working people everywhere join in the condemnation of these terrorist crimes.
Decisive action is necessary to minimize the possibility of future attacks here and abroad and to defend the world's democracies. We support the president in his decision to use military force to eliminate the threat these terrorists pose, and we share the resolve of the president and Congress to root out terrorism, even as we recognize this struggle may well be long and difficult.
Let us be very clear. This war is not a war against Islam, but a war against terrorists who blaspheme this great and peaceable religion by purporting to act in its name. It is not a war against Arab nations, the birthplace and ancestral home of many who live and work here, contributing vitally to their communities and the nation. This is a war against lawless, stateless, murderous bands that wreak violence on peaceful societies, not only abroad but even in their own lands.
The union movement is deeply moved by the plight of the Afghani people, who have suffered through decades of conflict. But we brook no sympathy for the Taliban regime, which has given shelter and support to a variety of terrorist organizations, including those that celebrate the crimes of September 11. (...)
We recognize we cannot defeat terrorism with military force alone. Prevailing in this fight also will require aggressive diplomacy, economic and political isolation, intelligence information and operations. At the same time, we will not stop terror as a global menace by instilling fear, but by fostering hope. That requires a global offensive for equitable, sustainable, democratic development. The world community must rededicate itself to the defense of basic human rightsthe freedom to speak, to assemble and to organize as well as the freedom from starvation, from homelessness and from curable disease. This requires renewed global attention, cooperation and action. The industrial nations, in particular, must significantly increase our assistance for basic needs.
Ensuring Domestic Security and Restoring Economic Vitality
For the first time since Pearl Harbor, the United States is mobilizing to defend our nation and its people against external attack. The AFL-CIO strongly supports investing the resources necessary to bolster our domestic defenseby providing greater security to power plants, dams, bridges, highways, train depots, airlines and airports and other vulnerable targets. We must also make long overdue investments in our public health system to ensure in each city and state, knowledgeable experts on threats to public healthincluding biological or chemical warare available, ready and armed with adequate equipment, medication, staff and training.
Even as we take every reasonable step to defend ourselves, we cannot allow threats from abroad to justify an abrogation of civil rights and civil liberties here at home. While our fear is understandable, our history teaches us that too often external threats have occasioned internal repressiondating back to the Alien and Sedition Acts at the founding of the nation to the red scares after World War I and II and the shameful internment of Japanese Americans during the second World War. The AFL-CIO urges Congress not to allow hysteria to supplant judgment in granting new and secretive powers to the Justice Department and the intelligence agencies, and to monitor these agencies' actions carefully to protect the rights of individuals who are residing peaceably and lawfully in the United States. We must take particular care to preserve the rights of people of Islamic faith, Arab Americans and of immigrants from all nations. America's diversity is its great strength. We must not allow fear to justify blind racial profiling, hate crimes or xenophobic reactions. The AFL-CIO will work to protect its Arab American members from hate crimes, and continue to assert the diversity that is the trademark and the strength of our great movement.
The AFL-CIO is committed to the following:
We will support the United States government in its efforts to defend America and its people, through the just use of military force to bring the perpetrators of terror to justice, as well as unrelenting diplomacy, economic and financial pressure.
We will support the American and allied troops who are now engaged overseas in the military response to the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11 and the men and women in units activated here at home who have answered the call to duty to keep our nation safe and secure.
We will support efforts to assemble a humanitarian coalition to provide emergency assistance to the millions of Afghani refugees in dire need of food, medicine and shelter as the hard winter approaches.
We will work with global unions across the world to redress the conditions that provide terror its recruits and to support efforts to address poverty and hunger, relieve debt and empower workers.
We will redouble our efforts to build a global mobilization for justice that will give lie to the terrorist propaganda. The world community must show its capacity for compassion just as for force.
The union movement pledges never to forget those who lost their lives on September 11. We mourn their loss, and will work ceaselessly to build a new, more just world that will be a true and fitting memorial to their sacrifice.
Read the whole statement: http://www.newecon.org/aflcioresolution11801.html
We will work hard to bring world peace
JRU and JREU (East Japan Railway Workers' Union) asked fellow transport unions in the world to issue a joint declaration for peace last month.Many unions have kindly shared our concern and joined the declaration.
International Joint Declaration of Unions against Terrorism and Wars of Retaliation
Considering the alarming situation of repeated mass slaughters taking place in different parts of the world, we trade unionists have agreed to the following declaration to the people of the world.
The union signatories will work in their own countries to achieve these objectives.
(PHILIPPINES) - BKM - PNR - ITF/President/EdgarP.Bilayon
(AUSTRALIA) Rail, Tram & Bus Union/National Secretary/Roger Jowett
(NEW ZEALAND) Rail & Maritime Transport Union/General Secretary/Wayne Butson
(U.K.)Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers & Firemen/General Secretary/M D Rix
(CANADA)Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers/Vice President and National Legislation Representation/George Hucler
(THAILAND) The State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand/President/Somsak Kosaisock
(HUNGARY) Free Trade Union of Railway Workers/President/Istvan Gasko
(PAKISTAN) All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions /General Secretary/Zia Syde
(FRANCE) federation cgt des cheminots de france/Patrick Chamaret
(GREECE) Panhellenic Railwaymen Federation /President/Epaminondas Koukos /General Secretary/Leonidas Moschos
(TAIWAN) Taiwan Railway Labor Union/Zhang Wenzheng
(BURMA) Burma Transport Workers' Federation Formation Committee - Seafares’ Union of Burma/General Secretary/Ko Ko Khaing
Korean Federation of Transportation, Public & Social Workers’ Unions
Information & Communication: Korea Telecom Union
Transportation: Seoulsubway Labour Union / Busansubway Union / Korea Redical Railway Worker’s Organisation / Korean Airport Authority Union / Kal Flight Crew Union / Asiana Pilot Union / Stated-Owned Institute / Korean Researcher & Professional Union / Korean Scientist and Technician’s Union
Public Service: Korea Social Insurance Union / The Korea Cadastral Survey Group Corporation Union / Korea Mint Union / Korea Appraisal Board Union
Environment & Energy: Korea Power Engineering Company Union / Korea Electrical Safety Corporation Union / Korean Power Planet Industry Union
Economy & Social Welfare: Korean Foreign Trade Association Union / Korea Management Association, Small & Medium Industry Promotion Corporation Union / Government Employees Pension Corporation Union / Korean Driving School Worker’s Union
Professional Technician: Dacom Trade Union / Korea PC Telecom CO / Korean Construction Engineer’s Union
General: Seoul Public Facilities Maintenance Worker’s Union / Korea Municipal Worker’s Union / Korean Kyongido Union Worker’s Union / Korean Railway Workers’ Union / Peoples Solidarity for Participate Organisation Democracy / Green Korea / Korea Federation Environment Movement / Women Making Peace
Korea Catholic Federation for Justice / People’s Solidarity
Japan Confederation of Railway Workers’ Union; East Japan Railway Workers’ Union; Hokkaido Passenger Railway Labour Union; Central Japan Railway Workers’ Union; West Japan Railway Workers’ Union; Kyusyu Railway Workers’ Union; Japan Freight Railway Workers’ Union; Japan Telecom Workers’ Union; Railway Data System Workers’ Union; Railway Technical Research Institute Workers’ Union; Trade Union of Corporation for Advanced Transport & Technology; Hotel Jyuraku Union
Why is this declaration issued?
The new century has started with tragedies, the terrorist attacks of September 11th and air raids on Afghanistan. As trade unionists who seek peace, we cannot stand idly facing at this situation.
As to Afghanistan, although the Interim Government established, there are lots of problems remaining. With new rivalries and killings among warlords, the situation of the country is far from stable. The US military operations are still carrying out there, although it is not well reported now by media. The total number of Afghan people who were killed by “mistake bombings and attacks” is now said to surpass the number of the people who were killed on the September 11th attacks.
JREU and JRU have been sending officers and activists 5 times to Peshawar, Pakistan, to support Afghan refugees. JREU saw with its own eyes miserable situation of refugees and heard what was happening inside of Afghanistan from NGOs. The already torn-out country because of the long 20-year old war is actually devastated by thorough bombardments last year.
The United Nations has taken an initiative for rebuilding the country. However, we share concerns with hard-working NGOs whether the measures taken by them would match what the Afghan really needs. There are many problems such as: a contradiction that those who bombed Afghanistan lead rebuilding, a storm of business people trying to milk from this situation, soaring of local currency, concentration of aid in major cities, pressing of western or industrialized countries’ sense of value on them, and so on. Needless to say about land mines and unexploded bombs. The path for the Afghan, whose 90 % are farmers, to restore peaceful life must be bumpy indeed.
On the other hand circumstance in the USA is not easy either. While grief of victims and families of the September 11th attack is still difficult to heal, unemployment triggered by the attack has been increasing and the number of homeless people is said to be growing. It is a tragedy that new century has started in this way, and this situation seems to linger on even though place changes. As unionists who have witnessed the first terror and war in the 21st century, we think we have to speak up and make our stance clear on this now, although the war in Afghanistan is almost over. We should not dismiss it without making noises, in order to make the 21st century peaceful and prosperous for working people and their families.
Read more: http://www.jreu.or.jp/english/indexeng.htm
The postulations of the Enlightenment and the implementation of human rights describe the historical background and present commitment of the trade unions: freedom, equality, self-determination and dignity in our lives and work, without oppression, threats and poverty. In many parts of the world exploitation and suppression of human rights are still unresolved issues.
200 million children work around the world as cheap labour, millions of people are exploited through forced labour, union rights are still ground into the dust in many places, about a fifth of the world's population live in extreme poverty, 700 to 800 million people are without work. Women, ethnic minorities and political dissidents often see their rights heavily abused. The trade union movement strives for the universal application of human rights. Social, economic and ecological conflicts must be resolved by civilian means without military violence.
The United Nations must be developed into a universally respected world organization for peaceful co-existence of the peoples, for the respect of human rights and for humanitarian aid.
The trade unions therefore strive for a democratic reform and political strengthening of the United Nations as an important component of international development which is orientated towards justice and parity of interests.
The collapse of real socialism and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union have pulled the carpet from beneath a block-based confrontation. The dissolution of the bipolar structure has opened up new, historically unique opportunities for peace and disarmament. It is the task of politicians to seize this opportunity. Arms exports must be permanently reduced, military expenditure must be significantly downscaled.
The cardinal aim must be to achieve joint security and make war in Europe impossible. This requires more than the reduction of arms and forces. This joint security would offer the European nations a peaceful future and create real prospects of a better life for the peoples of Eastern Europe.
17 September 2001 - Statement:
Thousands of people have died or were injured in the September 11 terror attack on the U.S. The U.S. government has declared a war on Afghanistan and all those states which support or habour terrorists.
War is descending on the people of the world.
We cannot but voice our serious concern at the terrifying turn of events and prospects.
Our concern stems from the widely recognised prospect that the war that the U.S. is embarking on will not end terrorism but will spiral into more wars. It will not remain an isolated encounter between two known sides but will cast a heavy cloud of war all over the earth. It could even be a prelude to the unthinkable third world war.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is moved to express its serious concern over the choices being made and steps being taken by the U.S. Bush Administration. The U.S. government is abusing the grief and anger of the victims, their families, and ordinary Americans, including vast members of the American trade union movement, who are hard at work to salvage humanity from the ruins of destruction, to whip up a war frenzy.
We appeal to the U.S. government to examine the causes and mechanisms of the cycle of terrorist attacks and wars to arrive at measures of solution and efforts which will pave the way for peace for all people.
We convey our most heart-felt condolences to the thousands of victims and their families and share in the grief felt by all people. We join them in condemning the act of terrorism.
The human history has witnessed many incidences of "terrorism". Some of these have been associated with struggles of resistance against unjust domination, and efforts for progress. The history of efforts and struggles for human progress and liberation from oppression have been an arduous one, at times raising doubts as to whether progress is ever possible. It may be tempting to resort to acts of terror. But, what is, and has become, clear is that terrorism can never be means for speeding up progress. The September 11 "attack on America" has again clearly demonstrated that terrorism cannot be entertained as a means, let alone as a goal in itself, in the long march of humanity for progress.
In our moments of silence in memory of the victims, in finding words for condolences, and in formulating the strongest possible terms for condemnation of terrorism, we are moved to seek what lies behind all this and what we should be doing in the future.
One question we must dwell on is this: what is the environment that breeds such a "hatred" that blinds and arms the terrorist acts? The efforts in response must be directed at the sources, causes, and the conditions which breed such "hatred".
The U.S. government is absolutely committed to seeking retribution, launching attack in retaliation. "Terrorist" attack and the U.S. attack on terrorism stand on the same plane, on equal terms.
The various "explanations" for the objective of the terrorist act on the U.S. all point to "anti-Americanism". Everyone agrees that the September 11 terrorist attack was an attack against the U.S. Why? What has the U.S. done, or perceived to have done, to "warrant" such a retaliation in this kind of attack?
It is widely acknowledged that the U.S. is widely and deeply implicated in various acts of "crime" against various peoples around the world, especially those who are seen to be small and weak. Many Koreans identify themselves as victims of such "crimes" - crimes of willful acts, acts of aggression or callousness and arrogance, or even acts in fear and ignorance -- perpetrated by the U.S. (Even the "handling" of the "accusation" of "crimes" is received as further crimes stemming from callousness and arrogance.)
What we witness is a massive and incomprehensible asymmetry of power between the powerful and the weak, amplified by callousness and ironic fear that grips the powerful. This lies behind much of the cycle of wars and various large and small acts of terrorism. Perhaps the September 11 "attack on the America" may not be separable from this cycle.
The acts and behaviour of the Bush Administration, since its inauguration, has further aggravated the image of callousness of the sole superpower in the world.
We must reflect on the recent incidents with two clear eyes. We must grieve the death of thousands of people, paying respects to the dead and condolences to their families. At the same time, we must also remember all those people of smaller and weaker nations who have died at the receiving end of the "precision" fire power of the mighty military capacity of the U.S.
The American conglomerate media has carried live broadcasts of U.S. attack on various countries, as if they were computer games, blinding the spectators of the death and pain of the real people at the other end. We are concerned that when the U.S. launches its attack on Afghanistan, the world media is portray it as an "air show" of computer game-like high-tech weaponry. How will people of the world rise to find real solutions to real pains, and real angers of real people?
The KCTU appeals to all people, especially the trade union movement, to oppose the war drive and to rally for peace.
Read the whole statement: http://www.kctu.org/news/kctu-peace.htm