The Continuing Resolution which carries the current Budget forward has adequate funding for the UN and its agencies and operations. Please let our Senators and Congressmen know that we support its passage. You may locate their contact information under the “Advocacy” tab.
Keep the Negotiations Going
Paul A. Olson, Anti-War committee chair, Nebraskans for Peace
David Forsythe, President, United Nations Association of Nebraska
We should watch what our senators are saying about Middle Eastern negotiations. Nebraskan for Peace and the United Nations Association of Nebraska do not agree on all matters of war and peace (we have differing foci for our work). However, we agree on three principles concerning American negotiations with Iran that we see our Nebraska senators as potentially going against: that we (1) should not bomb Iran in the present circumstances; (2) should work with the interim agreement with Iran and support ongoing UN negotiations; and (3) should not blow-up the present negotiations though imposing further sanctions.
The Iranians recently elected President Rouhani . In his campaign and presidency, he has repeatedly indicated, most recently In a speech at the U.N., that Iran would be willing to “engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties,” and that “nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions.”
Under the present interim deal Iran has pledged to halt its most sensitive nuclear efforts, those that might lead to nuclear weapons, under international inspection, and the West has agreed to provide modest sanctions relief.
This interim agreement should be observed. The Iranians seem to be implementing the agreement so far, and it keeps Iran far below the threshold that would have to be passed for bomb development. It is not reasonable to ask them to go to zero development of nuclear technology. The Israeli demand along these lines would require that Teheran fully capitulate and lose all face. We can ask that Iran change. We cannot ask that it abase itself before the world community, what we once did when the Eisenhower administration removed Iran’s duly elected president, Mosaddegh, with dire consequences for later history.
We should observe whether President Rouhani can get Supreme Leader Khamenei to moderate and give the US and UN a chance to deal with a more peaceful Iran. History tells us that all revolutions calm down sooner or later.
The Menendez-Kirk bill, supported by both Johanns and Fischer from Nebraska — as well as nearly 60 other senators, would add further sanctions on Iran now and eliminate any incentive it has to negotiate. Though the bill is stalled, it could have political force at almost any near- future time. According to the Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation, the bill requires the President to certify that Iran has not conducted missile tests, supported terrorism in the past, and that it has dismantled all of its uranium enrichment, including that for peaceful nuclear power. It also has to, and perform other actions touching on past history or future intentions that have nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Further, the bill provides that we are to support Israel if it takes action against Iran on the grounds of the possible existence of a nuclear weapons program.
The President and Secretary of State are charged with the conduct of foreign policy, the Secretary of Defense with that of military policy, in this case through the United Nations. The Congress should not burden them with further sanctions that will prove to the Iranians that we are not negotiating seriously. We should let the current interim agreement test the Iranian political will to step back from a possible nuclear weapons program.
There will be time in the future to return to full sanctions, or increase them, if the Iranians cheat. Adding sanctions now may blow up the best chance in a long time to: 1) get Iran to open its nuclear energy program to international inspection (Tehran has already moved somewhat in that direction); 2) Set the stage for a better deal when this one runs out; 2) Bring a more moderate Iran into the mainstream of international relations with implications for Syria, Iraq, and the balance of power in the Middle East.
Pentagon gaming and other studies indicate that a US or Israeli military strike will have multiple negative consequences without preventing Iran from expanding its nuclear efforts. The interim agreement could change the course of Middle East politics. We should give it a chance. If the Iranians are just buying time, there will be time to react later.
US intervention in Syria
Advocacy Position for Potential Action
September 4, 2013
The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a membership organization of individuals and organizations dedicated to inform, inspire, and mobilize the American people to support the ideals and vital work of the United Nations. For 70 years UNA-USA has worked to accomplish its mission through its national network of Chapters, youth engagement, advocacy efforts, education programs, and public events. An abiding commitment to peace, embodied in the United Nations Charter’s pledge to, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” underpins fundamental aspects of UNA-USA’s mission and work.
1. HUMANITARIAN CRISIS:
UNA-USA abhors the on-going and worsening human tragedy in Syria: more than 100,000 deaths, over 2 million refugees and displaced persons, violations of human rights, destruction of property, and devastation of the economy. This disaster is exacerbated by the death and incapacitation of over 1,000 innocent civilians in August 2013 – including many children & women – as a consequence of the use of chemical weapons. UNA-USA appeals to the US Government (and American organizations) to help address the needs of the Syrian people to respond to the escalating humanitarian crisis through the continued support of aid and assistance both directly and through the relevant UN organizations and Specialized Agencies that provide humanitarian relief and development assistance to meet urgent human needs of the Syrian people.
2. END OF VIOLENCE/WARFARE:
UNA-USA calls for a speedy resolution of violence and armed conflict in Syria that has caused death and destruction, displacement and despair, divisions and deprivation, and undermined human rights and meeting basic needs of the Syrian people. This warfare risks spreading violence and destruction into neighboring countries. Bearing in mind the important responsibility of the Security Council, as the Secretary-General noted in early September 2013, its members should “unite to develop an appropriate response, should the allegations of chemical weapons use prove to be true. The Security Council has a duty to move beyond the current stalemate and show leadership. This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria; this is about our collective responsibility to humankind.” UNA-USA, in particular, supports caution and restraint about introducing additional military action by the US Government, and calls for the fullest utilization of diplomatic, political and non-violent means to halt the current war and internal violence in Syria. As the Secretary-General noted, “We must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate a political resolution of the conflict.” UNA-USA, urges all sides of the conflict, as well as the US Government and other nations considering action, to carefully weigh the high costs of military action in both human and monetary terms. In accord with decisions of the United Nations, UNA-USA calls upon all parties to the conflict, and in particular the Syrian government, to recognize the primary responsibility of governments to protect all populations within their boundaries.
3. CHEMICAL WEAPONS:
UNA-USA calls on the United States and other Security Council members to give full support to the efforts of the UN and Arab League special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to convene a conference of all relevant Syrian and international parties, to negotiate without preconditions, and to press the Syrian parties to agree to a ceasefire and to negotiate in good faith a political compromise for Syria’s peaceful political transition. UNA-USA condemns the use of chemical weapons in any form and by any means: such weapons were banned in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 that were subsequently ratified by Syria, USA and other UN member governments, and are officially in force as part of international law in Syria as well as its neighboring countries. UNA-USA calls for the US Government – acting in concert with other member governments of the United Nations — to strongly condemn the recent use of chemical weapons; and for governments to hold into account those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, including when used against fellow citizens and innocent civilians of the same country. UNA-USA appeals for the US Government to fully utilize the instrumentalities of the United Nations, and to take into account the results of any investigations, tests, or missions that those entities undertake, recognizing that these uniquely-endowed UN organizations were established by the USA and other UN member governments for the purpose of monitoring, inspecting and reporting on the use of chemical weapons, and similarly for the development and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). UNA-USA expresses its belief that the use of chemical weapons by any party in Syria –most egregiously when by the government – is in violation of the Geneva Conventions and a crime against humanity of particular urgency that demands justice; and UNA-USA advocates support for the use of the International Criminal Court as a venue for redress.
4. CRITICAL ROLE OF THE UN:
UNA-USA expresses its support for the early and enduring role that the UN has played in investigating and documenting atrocities to guide international action, working ceaselessly to find a non-military solution to the civil war through diplomacy and pressures, spearheading the largest-ever appeal to the international community to provide aid to the Syrian people, and directly meeting the humanitarian needs of millions of displaced Syrians both inside and outside of the country. UNA-USA expresses its support for full US funding of its UN general obligation dues and peacekeeping assessment, as well as strong support for voluntary contributions to UNHCR, UNICEF, and the other UN funds and agencies that are playing a critical role in addressing this crisis, as they have demonstrated for decades, consistent with mandates repeatedly adopted by UN member governments. These contributions are essential for addressing critical challenges and supporting US national interests in Syria and throughout the world. UNA-USA also expresses its confidence in UN peacekeeping as a critical tool for addressing global crises and thanks the administration for including funds in the President’s budget for a possible peacekeeping mission in Syria.
Senator Johanns has joined the list of thirty-four senators opposing ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. If they all vote in opposition, the treaty cannot be passed during the post-election session of the Congress when it has been scheduled for a vote. The treaty has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and our Military. It is not opposed by any group or enterprise that alleges it would be harmed or limited by our ratification.
The opposition claims that our ratification and our joining in the body administering the treaty unduly limits our sovereignty and will get us no rights we cannot already secure through our strong navy. It alleges further that the treaty authorizes the distribution of profits from deep-sea oil drilling to regimes who might be in control of governments limiting the human rights of its citizens. It ignores the direct benefits and the leadership the treaty gives our country, and does not mention the consequences of non-participating nations in the settlement of rights at the North Pole as the ice cap melts.
We urge you to contact Senator Johanns and ask him to seriously consider supporting the ratification of the important Sea Treaty.