obama_nobelRight-wing bloggers blazed at the audible gasp that went up from the crowd when the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced (first in Norwegian, then English) that it had awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama.  In its press statement, the Committee described Obama as heralding a “new climate in international politics” in which  “multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position” with emphasis on “dialogue and negotiations” and the role played by the United Nations and other international institutions (tho not civil society). (more…)

marae_rekohuAt the end of September, I had the great privilege to visit the Chatham Islands as a guest of the Moriori people and part of a 50-strong delegation of officials and peace activists from New Zealand and overseas. We went to renew the Moriori code of non-violence and passive resistance and, in that special way, “bless” the World March for Peace and Nonviolence that began in Wellington on 2 October 2009 and will end in Argentina three months later. (more…)

dsc_0110My friend bought me a gift back from her mid-winter vacation in Fiji, a bottle of “Freedom Water” that promises the consumer the “power or right to act, speak, of think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” I guess the thought is carefree, but hardly applicable to Fiji right now.

According to my friend, Kiwis holidaymakers should no longer expect a warm welcome in Fiji (no matter what you pay). Locals expressed support for the interim government put in place by the military regime two and a half years ago, while local media reported fluff and nothing of substance.

Fiji was the subject of collective hand-wringing at the Pacific Forum leaders meeting in Cairns last week. Human Rights Watch called for stronger action to tackle Fiji’s ongoing abuses. Australia and New Zealand secured “agreement” for a free trade deal with Pacific nations barring Fiji, while they weakened the climate change goal in the final communique.

“Freedom Water” is bottled of Fijian company Aqua Pacific, which has been criticised by pro-military bloggers. We should probably all be wary of bottled water – it might taste good, but it ain’t helping the planet…

dsc_0184After spending time in Turkey this northern summer I’m pretty sympathetic to calls for the return of artifacts stolen by colonial powers and others.  So it has been exciting to read about the parliamentary debate in the France over the return of Maori remains to Aotearoa New Zealand. The upper house/Senate voted unanimously on 29 June in favour of a bill calling for France’s museums to return all Maori heads still in their possession to New Zealand. The bill now heads to the National Assembly for approval. France’s newly appointed ministry of culture, Frederic Mitterrand, has supported the legislation and said, “these mummified heads led to a particularly barbaric trade, fuelled by the sinister curiosity of travellers and European collectors.”  France has about 15 Maori heads, including eight at Paris’ Quai Branly museum of tribal arts, which opened in 2006.

dsc_01021The UN Secretary General has launched a cyber campaign to promote nuclear disarmament. Through Twitter and Facebook the 100-day “We Must Disarm” campaign features some lame celebrities (anyone under 50 years???) and a MySpace by a 27-year-old male and single, Virgo UN employee [not this guy!]. The campaign sounds out three reasons to promote nuclear disarmament, because: (more…)

cdThis morning I had a “Forrest Gump” making history moment at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, where we were launching our new Banning Cluster Munitions report. Before our press conference got underway, Thomas Nash and I decided to pop upstairs to see if the notice that the Conference on Disarmament (CD) was open to ther public was true. We walked into the viewing gallery of the grand room just as the CD chair was concluding a statement outlining a possible programme of work for the CD diplomats to negotiate a new treaty on fissile materials, which would ban production of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium used to make nuclear bombs. (more…)

fijiOver the past month the situation in Fiji has deterioated dramatically. The past two years since the military took power in December 2006 were bad, but now the situation is untenable. According to my count, four people have died in or after being held in military and/or police custody and dozens more have been detained and assaulted.  It was not exactly a “bloodless” coup nor is the situation as “calm” now as some portray it. (more…)


My long-time colleague and friend Tun Channereth, who received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), greeted the opening and delivered the campaign’s statement to a regional meeting on the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty that I attended in Bangkok, Thailand on 2-3 April 2009.

Thailand’s Foreign Minister  Kasit Piromya also spoke at the Bangkok Workshop opening and made a point of acknowledging the Cambodian delegation to before he left. This was in part because the day before he had been quoted as calling Cambodian’s Prime Minister Hun Sen a ‘thug.’ The minister claimed he had been mistranslated. (more…)

london25mar09The problem with taking photos is that you can’t take ‘em when you speak – that’s what happened at the London event to launch the Disarm DVD on 25 March 2009. It was fun evening though and thanks for Thomas for his photo!  About 60 guests attended the event at Portcullis House in the British parliament, which featured a panel comprised of Dogwoof’s Andy Whittaker member of parliament Frank Cook, former BBC journalist and parliamentarian Martin Bell, and Disarm director Mary Wareham. Co-director Brian Liu was unable to attend the London launch. (more…)

dsc_0033There was a march up Connecticut Avenue in Washington DC today by the campaign to free Tibet. You couldn’t miss their brightly coloured flags and clothing. The protesters headed up to the Chinese embassy where they held a rally in front of assorted police. No one came out from the embassy to greet them. March 10th marks the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising of 1959, when more than tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed by Chinese troops and the Dalai Lama fled over the mountains to India. It also marks one year since violent protests swept across Tibet.

Today the Dalai Lama issued a strong statement charging China with creating “hell on earth” in Tibet, describing the “untold suffering and destruction” that Tibet has borne oveer the past 50 years. This received media coverage, but competition is fierce. Afterall this week also marks the 50th birthday of the Barbie doll. A couple of days ago a Tibetan Barbie doll was even launched by Chinese entrepreneurs.

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