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“There is nothing heroic about war”

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 6 2013 (IPS) - A mother holds on to a blood-soaked pair of jeans her son was wearing when he was gunned down during a battle.

Another mother is helplessly screaming after her toddler son dies at a hospital due to paucity of medicines.

From skulls of genocide victims in Rwanda to charred remains of bodies in Hiroshima —a film constituting graphic images of violence depicting the horrific nature of wars set the tone for a panel discussion on the “Scourge of War” and modern day challenges associated with wars. The discussion took place at the United Nations Thursday.

War is not just about sectarian violence or ethnic clashes, it “is about greed and power –either to get more power or to control resources or cling to power if you are losing it,” Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who also chairs the Nobel Women’s Initiative, told IPS.

Williams who was the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) called for greater implementation of plans adopted by various world bodies and international organizations.  It’s easy to hide behind words but words written on a sheet of paper are useless unless the words are put into action, she said.

In fact, more than anything else, one must realise that “there is nothing heroic about war,” she said. “It is about conceiving murder in the name if war.”

For countries still reeling under the scourge of war, and where landscapes are still littered with landmines, Williams called for vigorous mine clearance operations.

“Countries should develop national plans to prioritise the places that have the most impact on people and demine them first and move to the entire country until it is done,” she told IPS.

While nuclear disarmament and drone attacks are important issues, the greatest threat in the future is from “killer robots,” she said.

The robots are the new weapons being developed in secrecy by the powerful countries and it will give birth to a new arms race, said Williams, who is part of the “Stop the Killer Robot” campaign launched this year.

But, it’s a stronger concept of statehood that can actually prevent wars, said Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland.

In 1928, the Kellogg–Briand Pact legally banned war as a means of national policy. “Did it end wars? No, but it laid a foundation for making aggression a crime,” he said.

While every step is a step forward in order to ensure peace around the world, “a lack of political will among member states continues to persist,” said Nounou Booto Meeti, programme manager, Centre for Peace, Security and Armed Violence Prevention.

Asked if she thinks that the U.N. as an organization gets entangled into too much bureaucracy, Meeti said, “We had more than 60 Security Council resolutions on the Congo situation. One must realise that if a situation is urgent, it is urgent …how and why do we need to wait for bureaucracy?”

In fact, the Arms Trade Treaty which underwent negotiations for almost seven years, is being hailed as a landmark agreement that can regulate arms flow around the world rocked the Congress and generated a heated debate within the United States’ political circles.  Some countries abstained from signing the treaty while some refused to sign the treaty.

But the dialogue has to continue, said experts. Ending war is not an overnight process and there is no magic solution, said Ralph Zacklin, former U.N. Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs.

In the coming days various countries will further analyse the pros and cons associated of the treaty, but at a much broader scale what is required is a leadership that is dialectic and greater commitment from member states, suggested the panelists.

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