Category Archives: prevention of armed conflict

Syria Statement from the International Crisis Group

The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation Set up in 1995, it is committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.

Today it issued a statement on the Syria situation and US deliberations.  The following is an extract

Assuming the U.S. Congress authorises them, Washington (together with some allies) soon will launch military strikes against Syrian regime targets. If so, it will have taken such action for reasons largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people. The administration has cited the need to punish, deter and prevent use of chemical weapons – a defensible goal, though Syrians have suffered from far deadlier mass atrocities during the course of the conflict without this prompting much collective action in their defence. The administration also refers to the need, given President Obama’s asserted “redline” against use of chemical weapons, to protect Washington’s credibility – again an understandable objective though unlikely to resonate much with Syrians. Quite apart from talk of outrage, deterrence and restoring U.S. credibility, the priority must be the welfare of the Syrian people. Whether or not military strikes are ordered, this only can be achieved through imposition of a sustained ceasefire and widely accepted political transition. 

To precisely gauge in advance the impact of a U.S. military attack, regardless of its scope and of efforts to carefully calibrate it, by definition is a fool’s errand. In a conflict that has settled into a deadly if familiar pattern – and in a region close to boiling point – it inevitably will introduce a powerful element of uncertainty. Consequences almost certainly will be unpredictable.

and 

Whether or not the U.S. chooses to launch a military offensive, its responsibility should be to try to optimise chances of a diplomatic breakthrough. This requires a two-fold effort lacking to date: developing a realistic compromise political offer as well as genuinely reaching out to both Russia and Iran in a manner capable of eliciting their interest – rather than investing in a prolonged conflict that has a seemingly bottomless capacity to escalate. 

In this spirit, the U.S. should present – and Syria’s allies should seriously and constructively consider – a proposal based on the following elements:

1.     It is imperative to end this war. The escalation, regional instability and international entanglement its persistence unavoidably stimulates serve nobody’s interest.

2.     The only exit is political. That requires far-reaching concessions and a lowering of demands from all parties. The sole viable outcome is a compromise that protects the interests of all Syrian constituencies and reflects rather than alters the regional strategic balance;

3.     The Syrian crisis presents an important opportunity to test whether the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran can work together on regional issues to restore stability;

4.     A viable political outcome in Syria cannot be one in which the current leadership remains indefinitely in power but, beyond that, the U.S. can be flexible with regards to timing and specific modalities;

5.     The U.S. is keen to avoid collapse of the Syrian state and the resulting political vacuum. The goal should thus be a transition that builds on existing institutions rather than replaces them. This is true notably with respect to the army;

6.     Priority must be given to ensuring that no component of Syrian society is targeted for retaliation, discrimination or marginalisation in the context of a negotiated settlement.

 

Such a proposal should then form the basis for renewed efforts by Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint United Nations/Arab League envoy, and lead to rapid convening of a Geneva II conference. 

Debate over a possible strike – its wisdom, preferred scope and legitimacy in the absence of UN Security Council approval – has obscured and distracted from what ought to be the overriding international preoccupation: how to revitalise the search for a political settlement. Discussions about its legality aside, any contemplated military action should be judged based on whether it advances that goal or further postpones it.  

http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2013/mena/syria-statement.aspx.

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MAJOR PEACE PRIZE FOR TESSA MORRIS-SUZUKI, ANU

A leading Asian studies scholar from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific has won one of the academic world’s most prestigious awards –

Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki, a leading Asian studies scholar from the School of Culture, History and Language, at Australian National University had won the academic laureate in the 2013 Fukuoka Prize for her outstanding achievements in the field of Asian studies and her work on regional cooperation.

Professor Morris-Suzuki current research focusses on grassroots movements in East Asia.

Professor Morris-Suzuki emphasised Fukuoka’s ongoing role in building links across the region saying, that it was more important than ever. With East Asia now the world’s economic powerhouse and a place of enormous cultural diversity, it was essential countries in the region work together and not let rivalry or nationalism pull them apart.

“In one part of my recent research, I have been looking at local grassroots movements in Japan which work to build bridges between Japan and other Asian countries,” said Professor Morris-Suzuki.

“Japan has a remarkably rich tradition of such movements, and their work has had a really profound impact on person-to-person, cross-border relationships in the region.

“Yet for some reason this work does not get the recognition it deserves from mainstream media or politics, either in Japan or in other countries. So I’m really delighted to have the opportunity to highlight the work of these groups, and to make this a celebration of their ongoing achievements.”

In awarding the academic laureate to Professor Morris-Suzuki, the Fukuoka Prize committee noted her outstanding achievements as a scholar working with people at the “boundaries of society”.

Professor Morris-Suzuki always focuses on people in the margins of society, those remote from power. In recent years, in addition to her academic work, she has been active as Convenor of the Asian Civic Rights Network, based in multicultural Australia,” read the award citation.

From her chosen perspective in the margins of society, Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki has formulated a new way forward for regional cooperation, which can reach beyond the national borders, and has contributed to mutual understanding between Asian people.

To find out more go to http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/news-events/all-stories/peace-builder-wins-major-academic-prize

Moving Beyond Militarism & War: Women-driven Solutions for a Nonviolent World

We are very excited to invite you to join us online from May 28-30 for the Nobel Women’s Initiative’s fourth biennial conference, Moving Beyond Militarism & War: Women-driven solutions for a nonviolent world. The conference – hosted in Belfast by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire – will for the first time bring together all six Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. They will be joined by over 80 influential activists, academics, and decision makers from across the globe whose work focuses on ending militarism and war with nonviolent strategies for peace.

War, militarism, and violence affect communities around the world on a horrific scale. Of those affected by conflict, women are often among the most vulnerable and marginalized. Alarmingly, militarism and war are on the rise; the last two decades have witnessed a steady rise in global military spending while funding is diverted from critical social services such as healthcare and education. In particular, sexual violence, inequality, environmental destruction, and natural resource conflicts jeopardize women’s security.

Moving Beyond Militarism & War: Women-driven solutions for a nonviolent world will explore the root causes and effects of militarism and war, as well as the nonviolent strategies women are undertaking in bringing about change. While often the most marginalized by war and violence, women are also at the forefront of creative and innovative nonviolent action. By listening, learning, and amplifying women’s voices, we hope to bring attention to the gendered impacts of war and violence and advance global movements for peace.
Click here for more information on the international conference, “Moving Beyond Militarism & War: Women-driven Solutions for a Nonviolent World”.

Latest update from Reaching Critical Will on the Arms Trade Treaty Negotiations – Disappointing

Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will – a WILPF sponsored program –  has prepared a useful summary of the progress on Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).  The title says it all The second draft: a treaty behind its time.

To read the summary go to http://ht.ly/joGk6

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He reports that the President’s second draft of the arms trade treaty (ATT) released Friday evening fails to resolve almost all of the major problems in the draft text and as it stands is ultimately inadequate to truly prevent human suffering or enhance peace and security.

If adopted as is, it will provide legal cover for states to sell arms regardless of the consequences for human lives and well-being, for true peace and security.

In his assessment the draft text

“still retains vague and ambiguous obligations such as “measures may include”, “where necessary and feasible”, “as appropriate”, “encouraged to”, etc. A general reading of the text is still less like a binding treaty and more like a political declaration or resolution.

In some cases …the provisions of the treaty undermine existing international obligations. This is unacceptable and such issues must be fixed if this treaty is to be adopted. The vast majority of states have demanded changes to strengthen the treaty that are not reflected in this draft. National positions of just a few countries cannot allow international law to be eroded just so that they can continue profiting from poor regulation.

The ATT could be a constructive element in a larger human security architecture. Instead, it is being used to perpetuate the status quo of irresponsible arms transfers and an outdated concept of state-centric security. This concept no longer makes sense in our interconnected world where policies that enhance human security are much better suited to addressing current challenges.

In short, this treaty as currently drafted is behind its time. If it is not substantially fixed by the end of this week, it will represent a tragically lost opportunity.

[PDF] (0.98 MB)

The evolution of a global peace system

The terrible violence in Gaza has had many of us wondering if there will ever be any sustainable progress  towards building a peaceful and just settlement in this region.  For this reason I am posting this video as a bit of an antidote.  It was  sourced from Kevin Clements a dedicated Quaker peace scholar and activist.

http://warpreventioninitiative.org/index.php/evolution-of-global-peace-system

Sometimes stepping back and taking a longer term view of things can provide a fresh and perhaps more hopeful perspective.

It was produced by the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation and based on historian Kent Shifferd’s “From War to Peace“.   This slideshow describes 28 trends leading to the evolution of a global peace system.

You are warmly encouraged to send in your feedback.

Call for an Australian Inquiry into the Iraq War

In August ACT Branch members participated in the launch of a Call for an Australian inquiry into the Iraq War at Parliament House in Canberra. The launch was organised by the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW).

All WILPF Australian Section members are encouraged to virtually ‘sign the appeal’ by visiting the Inquiry website at http://iraqwarinquiry.org.au/ . The website also provides access to a comprehensive information booklet, with a foreword by the Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH and contributions by other significant Australians. Recommended reading!!!

Gender and Preventive Action Experts Gather in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire for Exchange on Gender-sensitive Conflict Analysis

Press release:

Press Conference to Feature Peacebuilders from 10 countries in the Africa and Asia regions.

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire – Thursday, June 7, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., on the 2nd Floor of IVOTEL Abidjan, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding Côte d’Ivoire (WANEP-CI), the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) organized a press conference following a Learning Exchange program on gender-sensitive approaches to peacebuilding and preventive action practice.

The three-day Exchange provided specific recommendations on key challenges and successful approaches in conflict prevention and highlighted the importance of gender perspectives to enhance  preventive action practice, conflict transformation and resolution. The international delegates, based on direct international experience in conflict zones, discussed what can be done to ensure that conflict analysis reflects the different roles of men and women and other stakeholders in violent conflict as a basis for preventive action. The recommendations will inform preventive action strategies and tools used by civil society in local contexts in Asia and Africa, as well as collaboration with international stakeholders.

The decision to organize the exchange in Abidjan allowed the group to share experiences with Ivorian women active in peacebuilding to reflect on gender sensitive approaches to post conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding in Côte d’Ivoire.

Main reflections and recommendations from the Exchange include:

  • An effective preventive action and early response strategy needs to be informed by gender-sensitive conflict analysis. This will enhance the scope of any conflict intervention to include relevant groups affected by conflict.
  • Acknowledging masculinities as well as femininities as dynamics in conflict is essential to holistic action planning as it highlights the constraints and opportunities connected to each.
  • The transformative power of positive masculinity as a strategy of empowering women needs to be further explored and utilized in analysis and action.
  • Acknowledging the diversity of stakeholders in conflict, realizing their multiple roles and interests and building on their potential to contribute to positive change.

“For preventive action and conflict transformations we need to build bridges across cultures, ethnicities, gendered identities and regions. We have to transform strangers into friends” says Paula Banerjee of Calcutta University and the Calcutta Research Group.

“The agenda for gender equality will be achieved when men stand as allies with women to challenge and transform notions of dominant masculinities across cultures and promote positive masculinities and social justice. Men also have much to gain in health, general wellbeing and safety through this change.”, says Alimou Diallo of WANEPs Regional Office in Accra.

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is the largest peacebuilding network in Africa with structural presence in all the countries of ECOWAS. Currently, WANEP network membership is over 450 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) spread across its 12 national networks; and has special consultative status at the United Nations. WANEP is also the civil society implementing partner of the ECOWAS early warning and response programme, ECOWARN – and is a permanent member of the African Union security cluster (ECOSOCC). WANEP also holds the Regional Secretariat in West Africa for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). WANEP Côte d’Ivoire was established in 2003 and focuses on four programmes: democracy, good governance and elections programme, strengthening women’s participation in peacebuilding programme, peace justice and human rights programme and early warning and conflict prevention programme.

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) is a global civil society-led network which seeks to build an international consensus on peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict. It was established in 2003 in response to the call made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for an international conference of civil society organizations working in the field of conflict prevention in his 2001 report Prevention of Armed Conflict. GPPAC builds civil society networks for peace by linking local, national, regional and global levels of action and by developing multi-stakeholder partnerships with key stakeholders including governments, the UN system and regional organizations. www.gppac.net

The Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) is a program of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), an international and interfaith movement of socially engaged citizens committed to active nonviolence as a tool for social transformation. IFOR’s mission is to empower civil society through active nonviolence, and to promote cultures of peace based upon the values of tolerance, inclusion, cooperation and equality. Established as a program of IFOR in 1997, the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) works to support and empower women peace activists and actively advocates the recognition of women’s experiences of war and conflict and the integration of a holistic gender perspective including masculinities in peacebuilding processes.

For more information contact Coulibaly Tiohozon at wanepci@yahoo.fr or Gesa Bent at g.bent@gppac.net .