22nd World Peace Council Assembly Held in Vietnam
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THE 22nd Assembly of the World Peace Council (WPC) was held in Hanoi, Vietnam from November 22-24, 2022. One hundred and eight delegates, representing 58 organisations from 53 countries participated in this Assembly. The Vietnam Peace Committee (VPC) hosted this event for the first time in Vietnam. Three representatives from the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO), one of the founder organisations of the WPC, participated in the Assembly.
The WPC Assembly was preceded by a meeting of the Executive Committee of the WPC on November 21. The Executive Committee finalised the draft political declaration that was placed before the Assembly. It also discussed the general rules of conduct of the Assembly and the various committees, along with the criteria for the election of the future leadership.
The president of the VPC, Uong Chu Luu welcomed the delegates to the Assembly. Socorro Gomes, the president of the WPC delivered the presidential address and inaugurated the Assembly. Athanasios Pafilis, general secretary of the WPC introduced the main political document and the tasks before the peace movement, which became the main basis for the discussions.
The speeches made by Socorro Gomes and Athanasios Pafilis underscored the new dangers and threats to peace, which were a result of the increasing imperialist interferences and aggression. These threats are acting upon the already deep economic, social and ecological crisis confronting the world. They also noted that the present time is conducive to new struggles of the peace-loving people of the world – the only way to counter and stop pro-war tendencies.
Though the 22nd Assembly was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was noted that the intervening six years between the last Assembly and the present one are rich with activity and struggles around the world. Many of the member organisations also reported that they were involved in organising street actions, demonstrations, seminars, debates, congresses, and regional meetings against the imperialist offensive during this period. In the present situation, imperialism is intensifying its aggressive policy of threats, sanctions, and blockade. This was visible in Latin America, where the US imposed sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela are a glaring example. Similarly, sanctions are imposed on Iran, DPRK, and Russia in order to weaken their economies and destabilise the elected regimes in these countries.
The report also noted the growing attacks on the rights of Palestinians. This very year more than 200 Palestinian citizens are killed by Israeli armed forces. With the open support of the US and UK and the complicity of the EU, Israel is aggressively attacking Palestine – it launched a military attack on Gaza, expanded its settlements throughout Palestine, and is implementing the Jewish National Law, which discriminates even Arab citizens of Israel. There cannot be any peace in West Asia and hence in the world unless Israeli attacks on Palestinians are stopped, the Palestinian State with June 4, 1967, borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital is recognised. Similarly, the right of Palestinians who were forced to migrate from their country due to the continuous attacks of Israel, to return to their motherland (UN Resolution 194) has to be accepted.
The report also noted the serious situation that has developed in and around Ukraine in recent years, particularly after the maidan coup in 2014. The reactionary governments that came to power in Ukraine after the coup included neo Nazi forces. These governments had attacked the eastern regions of Ukraine for the last eight years, which led to the death of more than 14,000 people by 2022. These attacks were carried out with the explicit support of the US and UK. The war in Ukraine had its genesis from the time NATO has started its expansion and encirclement of Russia.
The WPC does not endorse the war in Ukraine. It expressed its serious concern about the continuing loss of human lives and destruction caused by the war. The WPC Assembly opined that the people of Europe and the world are paying a heavy price due to this war. The growing prices of food grains, essential commodities, and more importantly, the energy crisis that it had led to is causing immense pain to people. With winter setting in, people in Europe are suffering immensely due to the lack of energy for heating. The Assembly demanded an immediate end to the war and called upon all the parties to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations. It also rejected the various sanctions imposed on Russia and the sabotage of gas pipeline carried out at the behest of US and UK State agencies and with their active connivance.
The WPC Assembly also condemned the US for its aggressive and interventionist policies in the Asia and Pacific region. It has also voiced its opposition to the new reactionary military treaties that are being signed in the region, including the QUAD and AUKUS. These are in addition to the already existing military treaties between the US and Japan and US and South Korea. The Assembly also condemned the US actions and provocations around Taiwan and reaffirmed its principled position on ‘one China’ policy. It also denounced the imperialist provocations and interference in the internal affairs of China.
The report also stated that the US is directly responsible for the deterioration of the situation in the Korean peninsular region. The US has more than 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea and also its THAAD missile defense system. It is regularly conducting military drills in the region. The continuing economic blockade of the DPRK is now reinforced by this renewed military aggression. The intensification of joint military maneouvers by the US and its allies is responsible for the escalation of tensions and is a grave threat to peace and stability.
The WPC also demanded the immediate withdrawal of the US 4th Fleet from the Latin American region and stop its moves to establish/construct new military bases in the region. It also condemned the interventionist policies of the US in the internal affairs of various countries in Latin America, encouraging coups in the region and its attempts to destabilise elected governments. The Assembly reiterated its unflinching solidarity with Cuba and demanded the immediate lifting of the criminal and inhuman blockade imposed on that country. It also demanded the immediate removal of Cuba from the list of State sponsors of terrorism. The WPC also extended its support to Puerto Rico, the people of Argentina, in their fight to gain control over their own territories from imperialist occupation. It also expressed its solidarity with the people of Venezuela and other fighting people in the region.
According to the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute (SIPRI), 2.2 per cent of the world GDP was spent on military and defense expenditures in 2021. This is roughly US $2.113 trillion. Out of this, NATO, as a group alone, spent more than 60 percent! According to estimates, a small amount of this expenditure, if spent on uplifting people’s lives would have resulted in the elimination of hunger, lack of clean water, and many curable diseases around the world. But the imperialist countries led by the US are not ready to undertake this task because they are more concerned about their hegemony and dominance over world markets and natural resources, rather than saving human lives and improving their living conditions.
The WPC Assembly concluded with a high hope of gaining strength in the coming days by uniting various forces that are involved in the struggle for peace and in solidarity with the people’s rights.
The political declaration of the WPC Assembly was thoroughly debated for two days and unanimously accepted along with an action plan for the coming days. On behalf of the AIPSO, Harchand Singh, Deputy General Secretary, participated in the discussions.
The Assembly elected a 40-member Executive Council and 13-member secretariat to carry forward the activities. AIPSO, through its general secretary, Pallab Sengupta was elected unanimously as the president of the WPC. In the process, Socorro Gomes, the representative of Brazilian Centre for Defence of Solidarity and Peace was relieved from her responsibilities. The Assembly gave a standing ovation and profusely thanked Socorro Gomes for her contribution in strengthening the peace movement. The Assembly reelected representatives of the Greek Committee of International Detente and Peace, Pafilis as the general secretary and Iraklis Tsavdaridis, as the Executive Secretary. In the regional meetings, convenors for regional coordination too were elected. The Nepal Peace and Solidarity Council was reelected as the regional coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region.
The 22nd Assembly concluded on the 24th evening by thanking the Vietnamese Peace Committee and the Vietnamese Union of Friendship Organisations for the excellent arrangements they had made for the successful conduct of the Assembly.
On November 25, a Hanoi Peace Conference was held, in which the newly elected president of WPC, Pallab Sengupta and representatives of various international fraternal organisations like the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIFD), World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and others spoke in four panels.
The hosts of the Assembly, VPC and VUFO arranged visits to the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the great anti-colonial freedom fighter and revolutionary. The president of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc met the delegation and interacted with them. Similarly, the President of Vietnam Fatherland Front also organised a reception for the delegates and had a brief interaction. On the last day, all the delegates were taken to Ha Long Bay, one of the seven modern-day wonders of the world.
The VPC and VUFO not only hosted the Assembly successfully but also showcased the transformation of Vietnam through progress and development.
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