person:horst koehler

  • Time for EU to stop being bystander in Western Sahara

    The Western Sahara conflict is at a turning point.

    UN peace talks towards a negotiated settlement are expected as early as November.

    With the recent appointment of a new UN secretary general’s special envoy, former German president Horst Koehler, and the upcoming renewal of the UN peacekeeping operation (MINURSO) in a conflict that has been frozen for nearly 40 years, there is a rare window of opportunity to change the status quo.

    It is in the interest of the EU, and the future of the Maghreb region as a whole, for decision makers in Brussels to stop being a bystander in the political process and use their effective policy options to create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.

    This is not about the EU doing the UN’s job. But instead about the EU being an active player in the security and stability of its Southern neighbourhood.

    Unfortunately, the EU’s current approach is defined by a narrow and misguided focus on trade with Morocco at the expense of the Saharawi people. This has clear negative implications for the UN political process.

    In successive judgements, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU-Morocco trade agreements could not be applied to Western Sahara – which in line with international law is deemed “separate and distinct” from Morocco.

    But the EU has continued on a course of undermining its own legal rulings and somehow finding a process that would support the illegal trading of Western Saharan resources through Morocco.

    As the prospects of renewed UN peace talks approach, the EU cannot continue to ignore the grave consequences of its actions. As the recognised representative of the Saharawi people, the Polisario is duty bound to protect the interests of our people and of our natural resources.

    We are left with no choice but to go back to the courts, which will only tie up our and the EU’s bandwidth, all at the same time when the UN and UN Security Council members are asking us to focus all our resources on the political process.

    The negative impact of the EU’s actions goes further.

    While the Polisario has stated clearly and publicly our position to negotiate with no pre-conditions, when the talks likely resume in November we will be sat opposite an empty chair.
    Happy with status quo

    Put simply, Morocco will not come to the negotiating table to agree to peacefully give up its illegal occupation of Western Sahara while the EU continues to sign trade deals which implicitly help to strengthen the status quo.

    The uncomfortable reality for the EU is that Morocco neither wants negotiations nor a genuine political process; yet it is being rewarded for the illegal occupation and exploitation of our natural resources.
    What about Saharawi?

    A key missing element in the EU’s approach has been the will of the Saharawi people.

    The EU has sadly afforded preferential treatment to Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara including by knowingly excluding from the trade talks the thousands of Saharawis forced to live in exile in refugee camps as a result of the occupation.

    To highlight this, 89 Saharawi civil society organisations wrote to EU leaders earlier this year to highlight their deep concerns over EU’s trade negotiations, the absence of consent, and to remind EU leaders of the dire human rights situation under Morocco’s brutal and illegal occupation.

    This leaves the Polisario with no other choice but to pursue all available legal avenues to ensure such agreements do not continue to violate our rights under international and European law.

    Against this backdrop, an urgent change of approach is needed, which would see the EU finally play a genuine, impartial, and constructive role in supporting peace – including by suspending all ongoing trade negotiations and agreements which concern the territory or territorial waters of Western Sahara, appointing an EU envoy to support the UN political process on Western Sahara, and using preferential trade agreements as a peace dividend to incentivise the successful conclusion of a peace agreement.

    During his recent visit to the region Koehler was clear: the ultimate goal of the political process is the self-determination of the Saharawi people.

    International law is unequivocal on this.

    It is high time for the EU to get behind this international objective for the sake of a sustainable future for the Maghreb built on democratic stability, prosperity, and the rule of law.

    https://euobserver.com/opinion/142566
    #Sahara_occidental #conflit #Sahraoui
    cc @reka

    • The EU has built #1000_km of border walls since fall of Berlin Wall

      European Union states have built over 1,000km of border walls since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a new study into Fortress Europe has found.

      Migration researchers have quantified the continent’s anti-immigrant infrastructure and found that the EU has gone from just two walls in the 1990s to 15 by 2017.

      Ten out of 28 member states stretching from Spain to Latvia have now built such border walls, with a sharp increase during the 2015 migration panic, when seven new barriers were erected.

      Despite celebrations this year that the Berlin Wall had now been down for longer than it was ever up, Europe has now completed the equivalent length of six Berlin walls during the same period. The barriers are mostly focused on keeping out undocumented migrants and would-be refugees.

      The erection of the barriers has also coincided with the rise of xenophobic parties across the continent, with 10 out of 28 seeing such parties win more than half a million votes in elections since 2010.

      “Europe’s own history shows that building walls to resolve political or social issues comes at an unacceptable cost for liberty and human rights,” Nick Buxton, researcher at the Transnational Institute and editor of the report said.

      “Ultimately it will also harm those who build them as it creates a fortress that no one wants to live in. Rather than building walls, Europe should be investing in stopping the wars and poverty that fuels migration.”

      Tens of thousands of people have died trying to migrate into Europe, with one estimate from June this year putting the figure at over 34,000 since the EU’s foundation in 1993. A total of 3,915 fatalities were recorded in 2017.

      The report also looked at eight EU maritime rescue operations launched by the bloc, seven of which were carried out specifically by the EU’s border agency Frontex.

      The researchers found that none of the operations, all conducted in the Mediterranean, had the rescue of people as their principal goal – with all of them focused on “eliminating criminality in border areas and slowing down the arrival of displaced peoples”.

      Just one, Operation Mare Nostrum, which was carried out by the Italian government, included humanitarian organisations in its fleets. It has since been scrapped and replaced by Frontex’s Operation Triton, which has a smaller budget.

      “These measures lead to refugees and displaced peoples being treated like criminals,” Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, researcher for Delàs Center and co-author of the report said.

      At the June European Council, EU leaders were accused by NGOs of “deliberately condemning vulnerable people to be trapped in Libya, or die at sea”, after they backed the stance of Italy’s populist government and condemned rescue boats operating in the sea.

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-border-wall-berlin-migration-human-rights-immigration-borders-a862

    • Building walls. Fear and securitization in the European Union

      This report reveals that member states of the European Union and Schengen Area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls, the equivalent of more than six times the total length of the Berlin Walls, since the nineties to prevent displaced people migrating into Europe. These physical walls are accompanied by even longer ‘maritime walls’, naval operations patrolling the Mediterranean, as well as ‘virtual walls’, border control systems that seek to stop people entering or even traveling within Europe, and control movement of population.
      Authors
      Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, Pere Brunet
      In collaboration with
      Stop Wapenhandel, Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau
      Programmes
      War & Pacification

      On November 9th 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, marking what many hoped would be a new era of cooperation and openness across borders. German President Horst Koehler celebrating its demise some years later spoke of an ‘edifice of fear’ replaced by a ‘place of joy’, opening up the possibility of a ‘cooperative global governance which benefits everyone’. 30 years later, the opposite seems to have happened. Edifices of fear, both real and imaginary, are being constructed everywhere fuelling a rise in xenophobia and creating a far more dangerous walled world for refugees fleeing for safety.

      This report reveals that member states of the European Union and Schengen Area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls, the equivalent of more than six times the total length of the Berlin Walls, since the nineties to prevent displaced people migrating into Europe. These physical walls are accompanied by even longer ‘maritime walls’, naval operations patrolling the Mediterranean, as well as ‘virtual walls’, border control systems that seek to stop people entering or even traveling within Europe, and control movement of population. Europe has turned itself in the process into a fortress excluding those outside– and in the process also increased its use of surveillance and militarised technologies that has implications for its citizens within the walls.

      This report seeks to study and analyse the scope of the fortification of Europe as well as the ideas and narratives upon which it is built. This report examines the walls of fear stoked by xenophobic parties that have grown in popularity and exercise an undue influence on European policy. It also examines how the European response has been shaped in the context of post-9/11 by an expanded security paradigm, based on the securitization of social issues. This has transformed Europe’s policies from a more social agenda to one centred on security, in which migrations and the movements of people are considered as threats to state security. As a consequence, they are approached with the traditional security tools: militarism, control, and surveillance.

      Europe’s response is unfortunately not an isolated one. States around the world are answering the biggest global security problems through walls, militarisation, and isolation from other states and the rest of the world. This has created an increasingly hostile world for people fleeing from war and political prosecution.

      The foundations of “Fortress Europe” go back to the Schengen Agreement in 1985, that while establishing freedom of movement within EU borders, demanded more control of its external borders. This model established the idea of a safe interior and an unsafe exterior.

      Successive European security strategies after 2003, based on America’s “Homeland Security” model, turned the border into an element that connects local and global security. As a result, the European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) became increasingly militarised, and migration was increasingly viewed as a threat.

      Fortress Europe was further expanded with policy of externalization of the border management to third countries in which agreements have been signed with neighbouring countries to boost border control and accept deported migrants. The border has thus been transformed into a bigger and wider geographical concept.
      The walls and barriers to movement

      The investigation estimates that the member states of the European Union and the Schengen area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls on their borders since nineties, to prevent the entrance of displaced people and migration into their territory.


      The practice of building walls has grown immensely, from 2 walls in the decade of the 1990s to 15 in 2017. 2015 saw the largest increase, the number of walls grew from 5 to 12.

      Ten out of 28 member states (Spain, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) have built walls on their borders to prevent immigration, all of them belonging to the Schengen area except for Bulgaria and the United Kingdom.

      One country that is not a member of the European Union but belongs to the Schengen area has built a wall to prevent migration (Norway). Another (Slovakia) has built internal walls for racial segregation. A total of 13 walls have been built on EU borders or inside the Schengen area.

      Two countries, both members of the European Union and the Schengen area, (Spain and Hungary) have built two walls on their borders for controlling migration. Another two (Austria and the United Kingdom) have built walls on their shared borders with Schengen countries (Slovenia and France respectively). A country outside of the European Union, but part of of the so-called Balkan route (Macedonia), has built a wall to prevent migration.


      Internal controls of the Schengen area, regulated and normalized by the Schengen Borders Code of 2006, have been gone from being an exception to be the political norm, justified on the grounds of migration control and political events (such as political summit, large demonstrations or high profile visitors to a country). From only 3 internal controls in 2006, there were 20 in 2017, which indicates the expansion in restrictions and monitoring of peoples’ movements.


      The maritime environment, particularly the Mediterranean, provides more barriers. The analysis shows that of the 8 main EU maritime operations (Mare Nostrum, Poseidon, Hera, Andale, Minerva, Hermes, Triton and Sophia) none have an exclusive mandate of rescuing people. All of them have had, or have, the general objective of fighting crime in border areas. Only one of them (Mare Nostrum) included humanitarian organisations in its fleet, but was replaced by Frontex’s “Triton” Operation (2013-2015) which had an increased focus on prosecuting border-related crimes. Another operation (Sophia) included direct collaboration with a military organisation (NATO) with a mandate focused on the persecution of persons that transport people on migratory routes. Analysis of these operations show that their treatment of crimes is sometimes similar to their treatment of refugees, framed as issues of security and treating refugees as threats.

      There are also growing numbers of ‘virtual walls’ which seek to control, monitor and surveil people’s movements. This has resulted in the expansion, especially since 2013, of various programs to restrict people’s movement (VIS, SIS II, RTP, ETIAS, SLTD and I-Checkit) and collect biometric data. The collected data of these systems are stored in the EURODAC database, which allows analysis to establish guidelines and patterns on our movements. EUROSUR is deployed as the surveillance system for border areas.

      Frontex: the walls’ borderguards

      The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) plays an important role in this whole process of fortress expansion and also acts and establishes coordination with third countries by its joint operation Coordination Points. Its budgets have soared in this period, growing from 6.2 million in 2005 to 302 million in 2017.


      An analysis of Frontex budget data shows a growing involvement in deportation operations, whose budgets have grown from 80,000 euros in 2005 to 53 million euros in 2017.

      The European Agency for the Border and Coast Guard (Frontex) deportations often violate the rights of asylum-seeking persons. Through Frontex’s agreements with third countries, asylum-seekers end up in states that violate human rights, have weak democracies, or score badly in terms of human development (HDI).


      Walls of fear and the influence of the far-right

      The far-right have manipulated public opinion to create irrational fears of refugees. This xenophobia sets up mental walls in people, who then demand physical walls. The analysed data shows a worrying rise in racist opinions in recent years, which has increased the percentage of votes to European parties with a xenophobic ideology, and facilitated their growing political influence.

      In 28 EU member states, there are 39 political parties classified as extreme right populists that at some point of their history have had at least one parliamentary seat (in the national Parliament or in the European Parliament). At the completion of this report (July 2018), 10 member states (Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Sweden) have xenophobic parties with a strong presence, which have obtained more than half a million votes in elections since 2010. With the exception of Finland, these parties have increased their representation. In some cases, like those in Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden, there has been an alarming increase, such as Alternative for Germany (AfD) winning 94 seats in the 2017 elections (a party that did not have parliamentary representation in the 2013 elections), the Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland winning 235 seats after the 2015 elections (an increase of 49%), and Lega Nord’s (LN) strong growth in Italy, which went from 18 seats in 2013 to 124 seats in 2018.

      Our study concludes that, in 9 of these 10 states, extreme right-wing parties have a high degree of influence on the government’s migration policies, even when they are a minority party. In 4 of them (Austria, Finland, Italy and Poland) these parties have ministers in the government. In 5 of the remaining 6 countries (Germany, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, and Sweden), there has been an increase of xenophobic discourse and influence. Even centrist parties seem happy to deploy the discourse of xenophobic parties to capture a sector of their voters rather than confront their ideology and advance an alternative discourse based on people’s rights. In this way, the positions of the most radical and racist parties are amplified with hardly any effort. In short, our study confirms the rise and influence of the extreme-right in European migration policy which has resulted in the securitization and criminalization of migration and the movements of people.

      The mental walls of fear are inextricably connected to the physical walls. Racism and xenophobia legitimise violence in the border area Europe. These ideas reinforce the collective imagination of a safe “interior” and an insecure “outside”, going back to the medieval concept of the fortress. They also strengthen territorial power dynamics, where the origin of a person, among other factors, determines her freedom of movement.

      In this way, in Europe, structures and discourses of violence have been built up, diverting us from policies that defend human rights, coexistence and equality, or more equal relationships between territories.

      https://www.tni.org/en/publication/building-walls
      #rapport

      Pour télécharger le rapport:
      https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/building_walls_-_full_report_-_english.pdf

      #murs_virtuelles #surveillance #murs_maritimes #murs_terrestres #EUROSUR #militarisation_des_frontières #frontières #racisme #xénophobie #VIS #SIS #ETIAS #SLTD