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WILPF US statement
5 October 2001
We in the United States Section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) share in the grief over the recent loss of precious human lives at the World Trade Center, in the four civilian aircraft and at the Pentagon. We wish to join those calling for sanity in our nation's response to the attack.
WILPF has rejected violence and war as a means of settling disputes since our founding in 1915 by Jane Addams and women from twelve other countries. We have worked always for peaceful societies under law with liberty and justice for all. We were among the first to propose the League of Nations, and have consistently supported the United Nations and the development of international law.
We commend those in the US government who, in this present time of crisis, grief and national mourning, have had the courage to speak out and refuse to let us become the evil we deplore. We especially commend Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California who cast the lone vote against surrendering the right of Congress to declare war, and failing in its duty to serve as a check on the Pentagon and the Administration. We hope other members of Congress have since reflected on their own votes, and realize that, in handing over to the President and his military advisors the right to decide when and where to use military force without public debate, they have set a dangerous precedent.
We do have some serious concerns about this resolution, however, and ask the General Assembly to make certain that terrorism is adequately defined, that civil liberties are upheld, and that if force is employed, it must not be directed against civilian populations and should be the minimum necessary to achieve the goal. In no case should weapons already considered illegal under the United Nations, such as those employing toxic chemicals, biological weapons, land mines, depleted uranium or nuclear weapons in any form, be used by our own or any other country to control terrorism.
Now we call on Congress, in addition, to require our government to utilize the court system of the United Nations. These courts are designed to substitute rule by law for the terrorism of war. Countries accused of harboring terrorists, despite the UN Security Council Resolution, can be brought before the International Court of Justice. Individuals accused of supporting or utilizing terrorism can be brought before an ad hoc tribunal under the Security Council. The new International Criminal Court of Justice, which already has 44 of the required 60 ratifications, is expected soon to become operational. Members of Congress and the Administration should support, rather than hinder, its evolution as an important instrument in the international effort to reduce or eliminate terrorism.
Even as we grieve, we believe it is a time for deep reflection, and we hope members of Congress, and thoughtful citizens in the Administration, in the military, in the media, and in the general populace will join us. What changes in policy must we make if we are to lead our own country and our world into a future with human security and human rights for all? How are we to help create a livable world for our own children, and the children in all nations everywhere?
Over half of the United States annual discretionary budget now goes to the military, and less than 1% to non-military foreign aid. The US is the greatest military power in the world, and is responsible for 36% of the world's military expenditures and 50% of the arms sales. Yet our military could not protect us from this attack. Indeed, terrorists tend to turn our own weapons and training against us. Only a stable and peaceful world and international cooperation can protect us -- yet we have withheld funds from the United Nations and its agencies, and also withheld support from international efforts under the UN to control trade in small arms, to eliminate land mines and to control and eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
The United States has the most sophisticated and lethal arsenal of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in the world. The actual use of these weapons is unthinkable to any who call themselves human, and has now been declared illegal under international law. Yet our country has been slow to rid itself of these weapons, and the administration has recently withdrawn, or threatened to withdraw, support from treaties already in force to eliminate biological weapons, to keep weapons out of space, to eliminate nuclear testing, to control nuclear proliferation and to proceed step-by-step toward nuclear disarmament. Where does this bring us? Certainly we realize that our stockpiles of these weapons make us vulnerable to sabotage and terrorist attack within our own country, and could lead to many more deaths than those that occurred on September 11.
We are also hearing calls for restrictions on our own civil liberties, and for a return to the use of assassinations by our CIA. The former can only destroy the greatest gift we have to share with the world, the latter will make us criminals under international law and, again, draw us deeper into the evil we deplore.
Finally, we urge our fellow citizens to at least listen to those who, out of love of country, dare to say what many do not wish to hear. Our government, too, has in the past supported terrorists -- including some of the very groups we fear today -- and used the methods of terrorism to unseat democratically elected governments in the service of our own perceived national interest. Let us have the maturity to face this and other difficult truths about ourselves, and to bring our own policies into harmony with the visions set forth in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
So we in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, with undiminished hope for the future, call on Congress, the Administration, and US citizens everywhere to show the best loved face of our country to the world. Let us show forth our love for one another, our sense of community, our compassion and generosity, our civil liberties, our courage and creative intelligence, and our ability to work hard locally and globally to build a better world. Let us go forward asserting our faith in democracy, in human rights, in the rule of law at home and internationally, and in our hope for a demilitarized world at peace, with liberty and justice for all.
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (US).