Welcome to the Saturday February 28, 2009 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
In this issue we start with Darfur and the imminent action to charge Sudan's President Bashir. Because of the pressing nature of this action, this email will be shortened in order to get it out. But we will also give an action for the Congo that is a long-term first step that might help reduce the support for the strife. And we end with a couple of positive stories.
______________________________________________________DARFUR - PEACE OR JUSTICE ??
On Wednesday, March 4, 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to charge Sudan's President Bashir with crimes that could range from war crimes, crimes against humanity to even genocide. In the past eight months since the ICC prosecutor submitted the ten charges to the court, President Bashir has sought the backing of various parties to have any such charges deferred. He has also given a wide range of statements about ignoring it, seeing it as an attempt by the West to destabilize Sudan, threatening to kick out UN peacekeepers and aid workers, giving veiled threats against any Westerners in Sudan. On the other hand he has made sure to be seen constructively engaging the issues, such as the "confidence-building" agreement this week with JEM, one of Darfur's rebel groups, signed in Doha, Qatar.
The JEM rebel group earlier indicated it will try to topple the regime if the ICC charges Bashir, though it has stated it is committed to this new Doha peace process. Even as I write this, the US has weighed in, saying it might consider deferring the charges if the government replaces Bashir or substantive reforms ensued. To see a fuller set of dynamics and implications, see the ICC section in: www.UntilAll.org/Darfur.htm.
To be clear, what is at stake is more than Darfur, in the west. Sudan's North-South agreement, which ended a 20 year war that killed 2 million people, verges on collapse, and the repercussions of the ICC action could be the tipping point.
Thus, while no one knows what will transpire in the next few weeks, it is critical to have the international community fully engaged to do all possible to find that extremely narrow path that might bring peace and justice together. As such, you are encouraged to take the following actions (it seems quite likely that President Obama will soon name a Special Envoy, but the action should still be taken to reinforce the size of the constituency).
Tell U.S. President Obama to Appoint Special Envoy to Sudan:
Tell Canada to make Darfur a Priority:
______________________________________________________CONGO: INITIATE "CONFLICT-FREE" ELECTRONICS
The Democratic Republic of Congo is extremely rich in a variety of minerals, and has found a lucrative market in the electronics industry. Everything from your computer to cell-phone uses material most likely obtained from the Congo. The value of these minerals has fuelled and supported much of the violence in the Congo. A new initiative is being created, similar to the "blood diamonds" and "conflict-free diamonds" - to tell the electronics companies to create a certification process that will ensure their electronics will be "conflict-free." These are the first steps of a long process, but the companies need to know that people are aware of the linkage and want an alternative. You can help by taking the action below.
Tell Electronic Companies to Use "Conflict-free" Materials:
______________________________________________________GOOD NEWS SECTION
From time to time I like to highlight some positive stories - here are a couple; no web-based action is required.
1. Ministers Agree to Start Talks on Mercury Treaty:
Even some amounts of mercury can have devastating effects on people's nervous system, an despcially on the development of young children. Finally the international community appears to be getting serious about reducing the mercury used in industry:
2. Phillips Will Recycle its Products:
Philips has announced a change in its recycling policy, taking responsibility for the cost of recycling its own products. They had been the biggest obstacle in the electronics industry to tackling the growing problem of e-waste. There has been activist pressure on them to change since 2007. A Thank-you if you were part of that process to bring about the change:
UWAA: This endeavour is being placed under the overall rubric of "Until Well-being is Achieved for All."
Volunteers Needed: If you can provide one hour per week or month, tracking down concrete actions to help strengthen this effort, please click the UWAA Reply button below, and add a Subject Line: “UWAA: Edit” and place any comments in the body. Diverse perspectives especially welcome.
Want to get these actions sent directly to your email address? If so, then click the UWAA Subscribe button below, add a Subject Line: “UWAA: Subscribe”; You can also optionally place any additional comments in the body.