Stop the War Coalition 2013 National Conference

Resolutions passed by Stop the War members and delegates from affiliated organisations at Stop the War Coalition's National Conference on 9 September 2013, The Old Cinema, University of Westminster, London.
  1. Officers Group: No war upon Syria

    1. After 2 years of covert intervention, the United States government has made the decision to begin an overt war against Syria. The decision of Congress to authorise 90 days of military strikes against Syria, and the statement of Obama promoting regime change, cannot be characterised otherwise. Such a prolonged bombardment will be aimed at degrading the Syrian armed forces and infrastructure to such an extent that regime change will be achieved or accelerated.
    2. Conference restates its complete opposition to all forms of military action by NATO powers, and allies, against the Syrian people. Whilst there are inevitably different views on the Syrian government and the armed opposition, the campaign is united by our conviction that only the Syrian people can secure the future of their society. NATO, and its allies, will make a solution harder to secure, whilst imposing entirely unnecessary suffering upon the Syrian people.
    3. Conference congratulates those British MPs who denied the Coalition Government the authority to take part in military strikes against Syria. We note two factors that aided this decision. Firstly, the determination of the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., to decide their own future – secondly, the consistent activity of the anti-war movement over more than a decade. Together, these movements have helped create a big majority in British society of people who now oppose this further military adventure.
    4. Despite the vote, there is no doubt that there are those in government and opposition who will continue to press for British military involvement in a war upon Syria. A 2nd vote in Parliament may be fraught with difficulties for the government, but cannot be ruled out at a later stage. Equally, the government will want to go beyond “diplomatic” support for the US – whether this by with the use of bases, logistical support, arms to selected oppositionists, etc. In these circumstances, it is vital that STW keeps up the pressure upon the British government. A high level of national and local activity is required to prevent British military involvement.
    5. Conference also believes that STW has a responsibility to oppose the war when waged by the US, French or other allied governments. The focus for our work will express this in terms of continuing to organise events outside the US embassy.
    6. Conference does not accept that there is a moral or legal case for war. The refusal of the US government to wait for the UN inspectors to report indicates a refusal to seek independent assessment of the alleged use of chemical weapons. STW is not in a position to deliberate on the evidence. We reassert our opposition to the use of such weapons, in general. But we insist that the use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium in Iraq, and elsewhere, by the US and Israel are also examples of the use of chemical weapons.
    7. The war upon Syria carries the potential to spread to other countries in the region. In particular, we must note the chances of extensive military action against Lebanon by Israel; and the potential for NATO or Israeli action against Iran. The AGM reaffirms its opposition to the use of sanctions against Iran, and any future military action.
    8. Our work against the war upon Syria is as important as any of the Coalition’s activity in the past. We therefore agree to:
      1. Organise another national demonstration.
      2. Organise a programme of meetings, pickets, vigils, etc which allow us to demonstrate and explain the case against war upon Syria.
  2. SWP: Syria

    Conference notes:
    • The defeat in the House of Commons for David Cameron’s plans for Britain to join an attack on Syria. This is a serious blow to the warmongers and a vindication for all those who have marched and campaigned in the Stop the War Coalition.
    • Years of campaigning and the experience of Afghanistan and Iraq have made it harder for any government to claim that military action can have a humanitarian motive and impact.
    • Since the vote the danger of an attack on Syria led by the US remains and Barack Obama is already extending the remit for such a military intervention.
    Conference believes:
    • The West’s calls for military intervention in Syria are not motivated by desire to help the people of Syria or alleviate their suffering.
    • Their claims that bombing raids will constitute a "humanitarian" intervention ring hollow after the experience of a decade of imperialist war.
    • Western military intervention of any kind or duration will make the situation in Syria worse.

    Conference recognises that within the anti war movement activists have expressed different views on the nature of the struggle in Syria. But we have always united around the central question for our coalition which is determined opposition to western military intervention.

    Conference resolves to campaign against all western intervention in Syria and for the right of self determination of the Syrian people.

  3. Bristol Stop the War: Iran

    This motion is sponsored by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII).

    Conference notes:

    1. That the US/EU sanctions on Iran are a war of choice targeting Iranian population.
    2. That the sanctions are moving on the same deadly trajectory as in Iraq.
    3. That several rounds of negotiations between Iran and P5+1 have failed because of the US’s refusal to reciprocate Iran’s concessions with easing of sanctions and recognition of Iran’s NPT right to enrich uranium.
    4. That Iranian civil society members, NGOs, professional associations, workers’ unions, political and human rights activists, including political prisoners have issued statements demanding the removal of sanctions.

    Conference believes:

    1. That the high turnout for the presidential elections in June 2013, reiterates Iranian people’s rejection of foreign interference and intervention.
    2. That the conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme can be resolved if the US and its western allies on P5+1 reciprocate Iran’s increased transparency and engagement with the removal of sanctions and the recognition of Iran’s full NPT rights including its right to enrich uranium for Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

    Conference resolves:

    1. To note and publish the joint statement (appended) by CASMII and the Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Support (SCWVS) on its website.
    2. To allocate resources to lobby MPs and demand their public support for the removal of sanctions and military option.
    3. To demand the Cameron-Clegg government and Labour leader, Ed Milliband, to:
      1. Take heed of the demand of the Iranian people and immediately remove the sanctions
      2. Categorically withdraw and reject any threat of military attack against Iran
      3. Negotiate with Iran in good faith and recognise Iran's right to nuclear enrichment for its civilian nuclear programme within the framework of the NPT.

    Appendix: statement by CASMII and SCWVS

    Remove all sanctions against Iranian people!

    The comprehensive US/EU sanctions attacking the lifeline of Iranian economy is a criminal war of choice against the Iranian population. Far from the claims of sanctions as diplomacy aimed at the resolution of the conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme, sanctions are inflicting, both by design and default, unendurable pain and destruction on Iranian people, Iran’s infrastructure and civil society institutions.

    The sanctions on Iran are moving on the same deadly trajectory as in Iraq, both in the accumulative rate of death and destruction and as a prelude to military attack. With the acute shortage of food and pharmaceutical drugs and the official inflation rate at 37.5%, the President of Iran’s Academy of Medical Sciences writes in his letter of 21/08/2013 to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, that food and essential medicine “have become inaccessible to the most vulnerable of society including children, mothers, and the elderly, as well as disease-specific and cancer patients”. “We are, therefore, witnessing more and more cases of the gradual malnutrition and death of children and of patients with specific diseases”. In a recent UN meeting in Tehran, Gary Lewis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Iran has emphasised "the distress which sick people in Iran are suffering as a result of their inability to access life-saving medicines, as a result of the consequences of sanctions...”

    The revelation in April 2013 that both the US and the UK governments refused to allow Shell to repay its debt of $2.3 billion to Iran in the form of pharmaceuticals and grain, leaves no doubt that despite the international humanitarian laws forbidding boycotting of food and medication and the US and EU’s own sanctions regulations exempting humanitarian items, these laws and regulations are flouted with impunity and it is indeed the Iranian population which is the intended target of the strangulating sanctions. The aim is to use the suffering and discontent in the population as a lever to coerce Iran into submitting its nuclear rights and to manufacture a scenario for forced regime change.

    The high turnout for the presidential elections in June testifies to the Iranian people’s determination to effect change in domestic and foreign policy, and reiterates their rejection of foreign interference and intervention.

    President Rouhani’s mandate to resolve the nuclear issue and to ease tension in foreign policy is propelled by the united will of Iranian people who are actively calling for the removal of the western imposed sanctions. In recent weeks, Iranian civil society members, NGOs, professional associations, workers’ unions, political activists, including political prisoners have issued statements and are mobilizing into a mass movement against sanctions.

    Characteristically, having lost the manufactured pretext for scaremongering about Iran as a threat, Israel and the pro-war lobby in the US Congress are hard at work to pre-empt a successful resolution to the crisis and easing of sanctions. In fact, the inauguration of President Rouhani on 3 August was greeted by the concurrent passage (400-20) of yet another sanctions bill in the US House of Representatives on 2 August.

    International NGO’s, humanitarian organisations, peace and anti-war movements around the world, in contrast, are strongly opposed to the current western policies towards Iran that can only repeat the Iraq catastrophe on a much larger scale, if not stopped. They are united in their solidarity with the Iranian people and their universal demand that the US and the EU:

    • immediately remove the draconian sanctions which are devastating the lives of Iranian people;
    • categorically withdraw any threat of military attack against Iran;
    • negotiate with Iran in good faith and recognise Iran's right for a civilian nuclear programme within the framework of the NPT.
  4. Kurdish Federation: Syria

    Conference notes:
    • The Kurdish regions in Syria had been peaceful since the beginning of the conflict due to the organisation and political efforts of the PYD and a coalition of Kurdish parties, until recent provocations by al Qaeda affiliated groups led to the death of hundreds of Kurdish civilians since July.
    • In this period Syrian Kurds, led by the PYD, have put forward constructive proposals for a peaceful and democratic transformation of Syria.
    • The Kurdish people across the Middle East and the diaspora stand in full solidarity with all those resisting any Western intervention in Syria.
    Conference believes:
    • Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with support of the US and the UK, have been arming and financing jihadist groups with the aim of establishing an Islamic state and destabilising newly liberated regions of Syrian/Western Kurdistan.
    • The recent terrorist attacks against Kurdish civilians are part of an attempt supported by Turkey to undermine the self-governing Kurdish administration.
    • The Kurdish people have the right to self-determination in a united Syria that is free from Western or western-allied influence.
  5. Officers Group: campaigning and building Stop the War

    1. Stop the War's campaigning past and present was crucial to the defeat of David Cameron's Syrian war plans. That historic defeat has underlined the importance of permanent, dynamic anti-war organisation.
    2. Pressure for Western military interventions is growing. Economic crisis and challenges to US economic dominance are making the military option more rather than less attractive.

      Obama has tried to rebrand the War on Terror and refocus military effort towards the Pacific, increasing tensions on the Asian Pacific rim. But US-led interventions have widened in the last years to include Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Mali as well as Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The West's military presence in the African continent has been ramped up, and the Middle East remains the US' central preoccupation.

      Britain, France and other European countries have also been expanding their military ambitions. Both countries played a lead role in the attacks on Libya and Mali and both have been at the forefront of pushing for intervention in Syria.

      It is clear that the Coalition needs to step up its campaigning and strengthen its organization.

    3. The campaign against the war on Syria needs to be our central focus, the war can have untold consequences. But we also need to continue the campaign over the occupation in Afghanistan, where the planned withdrawal is likely to create another crisis for imperialism. It is crucial too that we pursue the campaign against the West's drone warfare which is spreading from Central Asia to the Middle East and Africa. The threat of an attack on Iran has been increased by intervention in Syria. Next year we will also be campaigning against the government's appalling plans to glorify the history of WW1.

      We need to work to ensure the anti-war message is a key component of the anti-austerity movement.

    4. The existence of Stop the War groups in most cities and many towns was crucial to our decisive response on Syria. We need to strengthen the groups. Large numbers of new people have been getting in touch and can be involved in building local organisation. We also need to start new groups, following the example of North London, Portsmouth and Frome and other places where groups have successfully been launched in the last few months.

      Very high levels of anti-war opinion are partly the result of our campaigning. We need to make sure we are putting anti-war arguments in every area as effectively as possible.

      Local groups also need to be ready to respond quickly to new crises. We recommend all groups build up an emergency fund so that they can book transport at short notice to emergency national demonstrations.

      Effective groups are creative and outward looking, with a routine of different political and cultural events and protests, constantly looking to widen the number of people involved in campaigning.

    5. We need to strengthen our central, national organisation. The means expanding our national office's capacity to produce material, respond to events and communicate with and support the local groups. To strengthen the national operation of Stop the War, we are launching a mass membership drive. Over a hundred and forty people have joined in the last few weeks. We are asking all local groups to recruit fifteen new national members by the end of the year.
    6. We should pay special attention to building Stop the War in universities and colleges. We ask all local groups to work to ensure around freshers' fare and beyond that students are organising in local colleges.
  6. Officers Group: guidelines for local groups

    We encourage all stop the war members and supporters to get involved in their local Stop the War group, or set one up if there is none.

    Stop the War represents the opinion of the vast majority of people in this country on foreign policy. Most polls show more than 70% oppose any attack on Syria and one recent poll showed 75% believe Britain should not be involved in any further foreign military interventions.

    It is important all local groups work hard to ensure the widest possible participation in order to reflect this breadth of opinion.

    Stop the War has very wide backing symbolised by the recent support from the TUC Congress. As well as the TUC this includes most of the national trade unions, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, CND, and many other campaigning organisations, the Green Party and a range of anti-war MPs as well as a long list of cultural figures, performers and journalists.

    1. Locally groups should actively seek support from the following:
      • All local trade union branches and regions
      • Trades councils
      • Student unions and relevant student campaigning groups
      • Anti-war MPs and councillors from all parties
      • Local anti-cuts and anti austerity groups
      • CND and other peace groups, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign against the Arms Trade
      • Churches, mosques, Quaker meeting houses and other faith groups and organisations
      • Community organisations representing people from the middle east, the Maghreb, Kurds, Somalia etc
      • Supportive political organisations
      • Local celebrities, cultural figures or journalists

      This is the minimum necessary to ensure that local groups match the breadth of the national movement

    2. All Stop the War groups need to organise annual general meetings and elect an organising committee annually. The aim should be to get as broad a leadership as possible, always looking to involve new activists.

      The role of the committee is to organise a regular routine of meetings, protests, cultural events in their area in order to maximise the profile and impact of the movement and our arguments.

      While we should encourage wide discussion, the public meetings should focus on the key campaigning issues and on the main task of ending Western intervention, not on potentially divisive political debates.

    3. As well as organising local protests, groups should be always prepared for national mobilisations. For this groups should establish an emergency fund so that they can organise transport to for urgent national demonstrations.
    4. Stop the War is funded entirely from members and affiliated groups. A part of the finance raised by local groups should go to the national organisation and groups should participate in the national membership drive.
  7. Wandsworth Stop the War: Welfare not Warfare

    Conference notes:

    The mass turnout at the Peoples Assembly this year which brought together all sections of the opposition against the ConDem Government’s austerity measures, and the huge support for the STWC rally held at the event.

    The level of trade union support for STWC and the mobilisation by major affiliated trade unions in support of STWC events and protest.

    STWC, alongside international contingents, has brought the ‘welfare not warfare’ message to major demonstrations against the cuts, austerity and unemployment, this following on from the success at the TUC Congress 2011 which passed a motion stating the “war on terror” had failed to bring promised peace and stability, stressing it was time Britain disengaged from the conflict.

    The ConDem Government’s domestic and imperialist foreign policy are directly connected to each other and both are a brutal assault on working people here and abroad, holding back progress and development, shattering lives, dividing peoples, and destabilising whole regions.

    It is vital that STWC continues its work to win over the Trade Union movement towards taking effective collective action to end Britain’s support for US/NATO-led imperialist wars.

    Inasmuch as STWC seeks to widen its support base, Conference instructs the incoming officers to build on past progress by:

    • Continue to fully support and liaise with the developing network of People’s Assemblies, a grassroots movement intent on developing a people/community based approach to political process, and that is vehemently opposed to all aspects of austerity programmes being enacted by a Conservative-led coalition government.
    • Organising another major Conference– to include highlighting the full cost of the war: human and economic.
    • Producing new resource materials explaining the links between war, cuts, poverty.
    • Ensuring STWC groups work systematically: to raise the full cost of war at TU/ anti-cuts forums, to encourage all to affiliate to STWC, especially Trades Councils.
    • Organising a significant STWC presence at TU meetings/ political conferences/TUC Congress.
    • Drafting an up to date model ‘cost of war’ resolution for use at TU Branches meetings.
    • Providing appropriate support for workers refusing to assist in the manufacture and supply of weapons to fight unjust and illegal wars.
  8. Manchester Stop the War: civil liberties

    We recognise that a large part of keeping the war alive means restricting the facts, restricting the debates and stifling debate.

    This has taken many forms. From the intimidation of anti-fascist activists by emboldened fascists as a result of the Woolwich murder, even going so far as to attack mosques, as well as trades unionists, and peace campaigners; to the intimidation and harassment of journalists and their researchers by state guided airport/border agency ‘security’. We resolve that the Coalition publicise and support anti-racist and anti-fascist initiatives, to be determined by local Stop the War groups.

    We reaffirm our commitment to supporting and campaigning for whistle-blowers whether journalists, researchers or ordinary workers who reveal the truth to inform us about military and 'security' issues. We will continue to support Chelsea Manning and draw attention to her case.

  9. Coventry Stop the War: arms companies & disinvestment

    The Stop the War Coalition takes it for granted that: the UK should not replace Trident, should not be building the super-carriers, should not supply weapons to tyrannical and repressive regimes, and should not supply weapons likely to fuel ongoing conflicts.

    Now we should tackle the arms-dealers themselves.

    We should campaign for the removal of investments in arms companies made through Pension Funds. The West Midlands Pension Fund, for example, contains arms company investments of £70 million. Across the country as a whole, several hundred millions of Council Tax-payers’ money goes this way.

    The Stop the War Coalition therefore urges members to undertake sustained action to expose and remove all investments in arms-dealers from pension funds under the control of local councils.