The Elders warn of escalating nuclear tensions following termination of INF Treaty

Alarmed over the imminent termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, The Elders call on US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to act in the interests of all humanity rather than following short-sighted agendas.

The Elders warned on July 29th that the imminent termination of the INF Treaty between the United States and Russia risks sparking an ever greater escalation of nuclear tensions and a breakdown of global security structures.

They noted that each side has blamed the other in a deepening cycle of recrimination. Even if the responsibilities for this breakdown of the INF Treaty are not shared, both sides share responsibility for the future to uphold arms control treaties and pursue disarmament.

The Elders thus called on US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to act in the interests of all humanity rather than following short-sighted agendas, noting that the consequences of the termination of the INF will be acutely felt in Europe and Asia and will exacerbate global tensions ahead of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2020.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Elder and former Prime Minister of Norway, said:

“The INF Treaty helped to end the Cold War and restore peace and security in Europe. I fear this legacy risks being squandered by one side or the other through a mix of bellicosity and hubris. The leaders of Russia and the United States must refocus their strategies in favour of nuclear disarmament, not escalation. Both leaders have at times spoken in this sense. They must turn their positive words into realistic action.”

The Elders noted with alarm that the probable termination of the INF is only one element of destabilising uncertainty around the future of arms control, given the lack of clarity around the extension of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), reports that the US could “unsign” the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and the overall lack of dialogue on any form of arms control between the US and Russia.

Increased geopolitical tensions from the Korean Peninsula to the Indo-Pakistan frontier and the Gulf make it all the more imperative to have a serious, substantial discussion between the nuclear powers to defuse tensions and restore trusted channels of dialogue.

Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said:

“There is a very real risk that the whole security architecture around nuclear non-proliferation that was built up during the decades of superpower confrontation may collapse, through neglect, miscalculation and ill-founded threat analysis. It is crucial that the US and Russia agree to extend New START as soon as possible, and for the P5 states to get serious about making progress on disarmament ahead of the NPT Review Conference in 2020.”

In the event that the United States proceeds with its intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty by 2 August, 2019, The Elders called on all leaders to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from actions that would further raise security tensions in the European arena. They urged Russia and the US in particular not to unilaterally develop or deploy new INF-range weapons systems, and to consider creative solutions that could help preserve the benefits provided by the INF Treaty as far as possible.
Existing arms control frameworks need not only to be preserved but expanded to counter new technological developments such as hypersonic weapons and space-based delivery systems. This should be done on a multilateral basis with all parties acting in good faith.

Ernesto Zedillo, Elder and former President of Mexico, said:

“The world cannot afford a return to the threat of nuclear annihilation we endured in the Cold War. Multilateral engagement is crucial to securing global peace and disarmament. Today’s leaders need to reassert the key message of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev a generation ago: a nuclear war can never be won, and must never be fought.”

Source: https://theelders.org/news/elders-warn-escalating-nuclear-tensions-following-termination-inf-treaty
Photo: President of The Russian Federation

The Elders call for end to Gulf brinkmanship, urge Iran to continue to abide by JCPOA

On June 21st, The Elders called on all states to refrain from any actions or rhetoric that could further inflame tensions in the Gulf region and the wider Middle East. They specifically called on all concerned to encourage Iran to continue to abide by its commitments under the nuclear deal reached with the international community in 2015.

They noted there is a strong, shared global interest in nuclear non-proliferation across the Middle East, and in maintaining safe and peaceful conditions in the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz.
Upholding the Iranian nuclear deal is an integral part of securing these common interests. Recent moves by the US Administration to tighten economic sanctions and restrict Iran’s ability to sell oil to third parties does nothing to promote stability, and risks emboldening opponents of any form of cooperation or reconciliation.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, said:

“The JCPOA was a genuine triumph of multilateral diplomacy which should be used as a building block for further diplomacy with Iran and for non-proliferation efforts elsewhere, not dismantled in favour of unilateral agendas. President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif have shown commendable fortitude thus far. Iran must stay the course now at this critical moment.”

The Elders also condemned the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Strait as a dangerous and reckless provocation and looked to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to launch an independent investigation to determine who is responsible.

They reaffirmed their strong support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and applauded the fact that Iran has to date stuck by its commitments despite the unilateral decision of US President Donald Trump in 2017 to withdraw from the agreement.

This respect for the agreement, despite the US withdrawal, has ensured the JCPOA’s other signatories – China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union –are united in their desire both to preserve the deal and to use diplomacy to address their other
differences with Iran, for instance over ballistic missiles and regional conflicts. Breaching the deal could fracture this hard-won consensus.

Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said:

“I am deeply concerned by the current tensions in the Gulf. They highlight the dangers posed by the lack of an effective Middle East security framework, and the folly of the US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. This rash move not only weakens regional stability, but also sends the wrong signal to ongoing negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear issues.”

The Elders called on all parties to the JCPOA, and the United States, to resume dialogue on the longer- and broader-term prospects for Iran’s security relations with the region, beyond the “sunset provisions” of the nuclear deal, as well as its reintegration into the international economic system.

They welcomed the recent statements by President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo that the US does not want a war with Iran, and encouraged leaders and policymakers in Washington and Tehran to approach the issue in a spirit of good faith and mutual respect.

The current tensions in the Gulf, the wars in Yemen and Syria, the lack of progress towards a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian problem, and the malign roles of foreign-backed militias and proxy forces acting with impunity in much of the Middle East all highlight the need for a comprehensive peace and security framework that goes beyond the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Lakhdar Brahimi, Elder and former UN diplomat, added:

“True and lasting peace in the Middle East will prove elusive as long as the core issue of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people is not addressed properly, and any country in the region is treated unfairly. Responsible leadership is needed in the region and from all parties interacting with the region; Iran and its neighbours must all act wisely and refrain from provocations. The US must learn from past failures and foreswear any talk of ‘regime change’, and Europe must stand by its own commitments under the JCPOA. The world cannot afford another reckless confrontation in the Middle East.”

ENDS

Source: The Elders

Ban Ki-moon stresses on multilateralism at the UN Security Council

On June 12th, upon the invitation of the United Nations Security Council, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attended the Council’s meeting with Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia.

Robinson pointed that nuclear weapons and the climate change are the two greatest existential threats to our planet now. “It is in the interests of the P5 to get serious about disarmament if they wish to maintain the near-universal international commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation, particularly in the lead up to next year’s NPT Review Conference,” added Ban.

When the Security Council can cooperate and speak with a strong common voice, “its decisions can have a decisive impact,” Ban Ki-moon told the Chamber as a former Secretary-General of the UN.

“This strong, common voice is needed more than ever at this current time, when the deceptive allure of populism and isolationism is growing across all continents, from North and South America to Africa, Asia and Europe” he stated.

Ban highlighted areas where the Security Council can show effective leadership to support the work of the Secretary-General and improve general conditions for peace and conflict resolution.

Conflict prevention and mediation are two of “the most important tools at our disposal to reduce human suffering” current SG of the UN Antonio Guterres said.

He noted some “encouraging signs,” such as successful constitutional transfers of power in Mali and Madagascar; the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea; the revitalized agreement in South Sudan; and, after decades of dispute, “the designation of the Republic of North Macedonia to be internationally recognized”.

Read more: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1040321

Ban Ki-moon concerns about “what is happening over multilateralism”

On June 11th, 2019, a morning briefing session was held by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, US. President Richard Haass of the Council moderated the session and introduced the high-level speakers:

  • Ban Ki-moon, BKMC Co-chair and a member of The Elders
  • Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia

On stage, the world leaders discussed on the topic of “Leveraging Multilateralism to Prevent Conflict.” Asked about the current tensions regarding North Korea’s nuclear program, Ban regretted failure of Hanoi Summit and called for more concerted trust-building between the US and North Korea, stressing the need for more focus on humanitarian crisis and food shortage.

“As a global citizen, I am deeply concerned and angry at what’s happening over multilateralism,” said Ban. He praised the US leadership on climate change under former President Barack Obama and expressed his concerns on withdrawal from the Paris Agreement under the current US government.

Robinson explained why climate change and nuclear threat are two priorities existential threats to humanity. On the current issues in Sudan, Sirleaf said that “the will of the people must be respected” but that this requires strong institutions that can withstand pressures to retain military rule and oppression.

Learn more about the Council on Foreign Relations: https://www.cfr.org/
Source: The Elders

Ban Ki-moon urges the UK to go carbon neutral by 2050

As the UK’s Climate Change Committee publishes its latest recommendations for UK government action to drastically reduce carbon emissions, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General and Deputy Chair of The Elders said:

“The Elders welcome the recommendations of the UK’s Climate Change Committee. Committing the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050 will send a clear message to other G20 nations and beyond that the UK truly is a leader on climate action. Such a decision, should the UK Government take it, will be unprecedented and will put pressure on other nations to do the same. The scale and urgency of the climate challenge we face needs this kind of ambitious #leadership – it would mark a significant political moment in efforts to keep global temperatures in line with a 1.5C rise.”

Source: https://www.theelders.org/news/ban-ki-moon-uk-must-commit-go-carbon-neutral-2050
Photo by David Iliff

The Elders delegation meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping

The delegation of The Elders met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China on April 1st, 2019. The delegation consisted of Chair of The Elders and former President Mary Robinson of Ireland, Deputy Chair of The Elders and BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, and former President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico.

During the meeting, President Xi pointed out that the world today faces profound changes unseen in a century, while the prospect of international cooperationsolutions to global challenges and the future of human society were being thought on by more and more insightful people.

The Elders delegation expressed that China has played a responsible and constructive role at a crucial moment when multilateralism is faced with challenges, adding that China has adhered to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and taken an active part in the cause of peace and development in Africa.

Source: https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/t1650933.shtml

Photo by Xinhua

Ban Ki-moon urges leaders to invest in “Health for All” with the launch of the UHC Day

December 12th is endorsed by the United Nations as the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day to call for collective action to ensure that everyone across the world gets access to quality health services without having to suffer from any financial difficulties.

UHC is a fundamentally political goal rooted in the human right to health and is also considered an important investment that countries should make. The UHC Day on 12 December aims to mobilize diverse stakeholders to call for stronger, more equitable health systems to achieve universal health coverage, leaving no one behind. It has become the annual rallying point for the growing global movement for ‘Health for All.

On an ed-op on “Why public finance is Key to Delivering the human right to health,” BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon calls on political leaders to demonstrate their will to finance the public health systems.

“Our advice to US states, to India, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya and other countries approaching the cross roads like Nigeria and Pakistan is to take this path, as this is the only navigable route to health for all and just, stable and prosperous societies,” said Ban.

“Health is a human right,” Ban says “When people are not able to access the healthcare they need, especially if this is for reasons of cost, their human rights are denied. It is vital for the wider fight for rights, justice and sustainable development that policymakers’ actions are informed by this linkage.”

 

Read the ed-op: https://theelders.org/…/why-public-finance-key-delivering-h…
Learn more about the UHC Dayhttp://universalhealthcoverageday.org/
Photo: The Elders

Ban Ki-moon underlines healthcare is a “human right” and should be “for the people”

On September 25th in New York, the US, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon made comments on the US healthcare system at an interview with the Guardian. As Ban has worked on promoting the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a member of the Elders, he urged the leaders in the US to enact publicly-financed healthcare.

Having the most expensive healthcare system in the world, the US citizens have to bear more than 10,348 USD for their health insurance that accounts for nearly one-fifth of their GDP.

“Why such a country like the United States, the most resourceful and richest country in the world, does not introduce universal health coverage,” said Ban.

He expressed his concerns that “almost 30 million people are not covered by insurance” in the US and emphasized that a healthcare system is a “human right” and thus it should be “for the people.” Ban suggested that the UHC could be introduced either in California or in New York, which then may encourage other states to follow.

He said, “leaders are elected because they vowed that they would work for the people” and “they are abandoning people because they are poor, then these poor people cannot find a proper medical support.”

Read the original article here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/25/ex-un-chief-ban-kioon-says-us-healthcare-system-is-morally-wrong

Photo: Ali Smith for the Guardian

Ban Ki-moon stresses the importance of the Universal Health Coverage

A day before the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco, the US, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon—who is also a member of the The Elders—delivered a keynote speech on the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and addressed climate change issues at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG).
“Universal health coverage is built on principles of equity and fairness, with health services allocated according to people’s needs and the health system financed according to people’s ability to pay. It means that healthy wealthy people subsidise health services for the sick and the poor, recognising both their own interest and the common benefits in a healthy society,” Ban said.
He continued, “global evidence shows that the only way to reach truly universal health coverage is through switching to a health financing system that is dominated by public financing – either through general taxation or progressive social health insurance.”
 
Watch the full speech: https://bit.ly/2QOk1cs

Read more about the event in the original articles:
Photo: The Elders

The Elders met in India to urge the country leaders to achieve UHC

The Elders, which Co-chair Ban Ki-moon is a member of, met in India and urged the leaders of countries and states to make a series of ambitious health reforms which have the potential to improve the health and well-being of all.
 
The Elders’ report contains four key recommendations to achieve UHC (Universal Health Coverage), which helps people everybody receive the necessary health services without having financial difficulties:
 
1. Increase public financing for health to 2.5% of GDP by 2021
2. Focus on reaching full population coverage and prioritizing the needs of the poor and vulnerable
3. Focus additional resources on primary healthcare services including vital public health services
4. Guarantee universal access to free essential medicines and diagnostic services
 
Ban added,
“Universal Health Coverage should not be seen as a vague aspiration, but a commitment India’s government made when it signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. I urge people in India to see UHC as your right to affordable healthcare and that you hold your leaders to account for its delivery.”
Source: https://www.looktothestars.org/news/18282-the-elders-commend-indian-leaders-for-ambitious-healthcare-reforms