All posts by CPNN Coordinator

About CPNN Coordinator

Dr David Adams is the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly.

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

The initial articles on this subject were written by Marielza Cunha Horta about the The Eco Citizen project in Brazil, and she gave us the title: “Cultivate plants, Cultivate peace.” Since then, subsequent articles bear out this approach.

According to the CPNN article about the largest tropical reforestation effort in history that aims that aims to restore 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon, “The reforestation project fills an urgent need to develop the region’s economy without destroying its forests and ensuring the well-being of its people.”

When announcing a great tree-planting project in Zambia, the President emphasized that it would involve young people, especially school children so that “when our learners appreciate the importance of trees, it will in turn create a positive impact in families and the communities at large.”

And describing the Green Belt Project that will cross the entire African continent with trees, CPNN noted that “Although the project was conceived on a grand scale, continental in scope, the actions must take place at a local level. . . [so that] the populations of different villages, communities and cities will develop mutual understanding, respect and confidence.”

Here are the CPNN articles on this subject:

Great Green Wall Brings Hope, Greener Pastures to Africa’s Sahel

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Issa Sikiti da Silva for the Inter Press Service (reprinted by permission)

Hope, smiles and new vitality seem to be returning slowly but surely in various parts of the Sahel region, where the mighty Sahara Desert has all but ‘eaten’ and degraded huge parts of landscapes, destroying livelihoods and subjecting many communities to extreme poverty.

The unexpected relief has come from the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI), an eight-billion-dollar project launched by the African Union (AU) with the blessing of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the backing of organizations such as the World Bank, the European Union and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


The icon of GGW shows the path of the Great Green Wall. Credit: greatgreenwall.org

(Editor’s note: The Great Green Wall was initiated by Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Mathai as described in a CPNN article in 2011.)

The Sahara, an area of 3.5 million square miles, is the largest ‘hot’ desert in the world and home to some 70 species of mammals, 90 species of resident birds and 100 species of reptiles, according to DesertUSA.
 
Restoring landscapes

The GGW aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives in one of the world’s poorest regions. This will be done by, among others, planting a wall of trees in more than 20 countries – westward from Gambia to eastward in Djibouti – over 7,600 km long and 15 km wide across the continent.

The countries include Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Senegal. There is also Algeria, Egypt, Gambia, Eritrea, Somalia, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Popularity

Elvis Paul Nfor Tangem, AU’s GGWSSI coordinator, told IPS that the project was doing well, gaining popularity and generating many other ideas as the implementation gains momentum.

Tangem also said that the AU had begun working with the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Namibian government for the extension of the GGWSSI concept to the dry lands of the Southern Africa region.

Namibia, which borders South Africa, is located between the Namib and Kalahari deserts. Namib, from which the country draws its name, is believed to be the world’s oldest desert.
 
Largest project ever

If the GGW is indeed extended to Southern Africa, it will take the number of countries drawn to the project to over 20, making it one of the world’s largest projects ever.

Fundraising for beneficiaries countries is being done through bilateral negotiations, as well as through national investments, the AU said.

International partners including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Sahara and Sahel Observatory (SSO), among others, are also playing a critical role to ensure that the project is being successfully implemented, and upon its completion by 2030 will become the world’s largest living structure and a new Wonder of the World.

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Question for this article:

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

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Food security

The GGW is set to create thousands of jobs for those who live along its path and boost food security and resilience to climate change in the Sahel, one of the driest parts of the world, where the FAO said an estimated 29.2 million people are food insecure.

The project founders said that by 2030 the ambition is to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land and sequester 250 million tons of carbon.

Asked if the project is being implementing one country after the other, Elvis replied: “The implementation of the initiative is first and famous country-based, meaning all the countries are undertaking implementation at their levels.

“However, the common factor among all the countries is the fact that their activities are based on the Harmonized Regional Strategy and their National Action Plans (NAP). We are supporting the production of the NAP in Cameroon and Ghana and also working on the SADC region.”

Returning home?

In Senegal, a total of 75 direct jobs and 1,800 indirect jobs, including in the nurseries sector and multipurpose gardens, have already been created through the GGW in the last six years, according to official statistics.

Also in Senegal, where desertification has slashed 34% of its area, the GGW has since ‘recovered’ just over 40,000 hectares out of the 817,500 hectares planned for the project.

This is good news for people like Ibrahima Ba and his family who left their homeland to move to Dakar in the quest of greener pastures.

Now, he is contemplating a return home. “I’m planning to go back towards the end of the year to rebuild my shattered life. The Sahara hasn’t done anybody any favor by taking away our livelihood,” Ba, a livestock farmer Peul from northern Senegal, told IPS.

An estimated 300,000 people live in the three provinces crossed by the GGW in Senegal.
 
Participatory approach

However, Marine Gauthier, an environmental expert for the Rights and Resources’ Initiative, (RRI) said a participatory approach was needed if the project was to be implemented successfully.

“In a conflictual region, where people depend on the land for their survival and where there are numerous transhumance activities from herders peoples (Peuls) potentially impacted by the project, a careful participatory approach is needed,” Gauthier said.

“Conflicts have already arisen a couple of years ago with Peuls (herders practicing transhumance, whose travels were to be restrained by the project). Just like any other environmental protection project, its capacity to engage with local communities, to make them first beneficiaries of the project, is the key to its success on the long term.

“Participatory mapping is a very successful tool that has been used within other projects and that could be of great help in defining and establishing the Great Green Wall,” Gauthier said.

Furthermore, Gauthier said empowering communities would be very interesting at the scale of the Great Green Wall. “It would take a lot of efforts, consultations, financial and human resources. It is however the only way to ensure that this project, which people are talking about for more than 10 years now, reaches its goal.

“Because when the communities are empowered and when their rights on the land are secured, it benefits directly to the environment and to preserving this land from more damage.”

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Leading from the Front: Zambia Launches Plant a Million Trees Initiative

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Friday Phiri for the Inter Press Service (reprinted by permission)

As global climate experts meet in Bonn this week [May 3] to discuss how to take climate action forward, Zambia counts itself amongst the leaders as President Edgar Lungu officially launches the Plant a Million (PAM) trees Initiative.

In fact, the initiative is even more ambitious than its name implies, and aims at planting at least two billion trees by 2021. According to President Lungu, the initiative is in line with the country’s Seventh National Development Plan whose aim is to diversify the economy from copper dependency.


President Edgar Chagwa Lungu planting a tree while Minister of Lands and Natural Resources looks on. Credit: Munich Advisors Group

President Lungu says the initiative, which targets young people through schools, colleges and universities, will be used as a vehicle for mindset change among Zambians to begin to value the importance of planting trees as a tool for economic diversification.

“This initiative marks the beginning of growing money through trees and government stands ready to support it and ensure that it succeeds,” he said during the launch at Kapasa Makasa University in Muchinga Province, Northern Zambia.

In line with the country’s commitments to international treaties, especially the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change, President Lungu said government envisages not only creating a tree-based economy, but also mitigating climate change through the initiative.

He is particularly concerned with the country’s alarming deforestation rate of 276,021 hectares per year, making Zambia one of the most deforested countries in Africa.

“The Plant A Million initiative will significantly contribute to reducing deforestation which has earned Zambia a bad name of being one of the most deforested countries in Africa as a result of uncontrolled harvesting of trees,” he said.

The Zambian president added that he was impressed with the youth involvement model through schools, colleges and universities, saying it will help push the agenda of mindset change because “when our learners appreciate the importance of trees, it will in turn create a positive impact in families and the communities at large.”

Speaking earlier, Higher Education Minister Nkandu Luo said her Ministry would use the initiative to redefine the education system from exam-based to real-world practices.

“Over the years, the thinking in our school system has been that education is passing exams but we are redefining this thinking, so that people know that education is total transformation of a human being, and this programme is one of the ways to do it,” she said.

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Question for this article:

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

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As one of the brains behind the initiative, Professor Luo said that Zambia was aiming to break the world record of planting the most trees, which is currently held by India. Last year, Volunteers in India planted more than 66 million trees in just 12 hours in a record-breaking environmental drive.

About 1.5 million people were involved in the huge campaign, in which saplings were placed along the Narmada river in the state of Madhya Pradesh throughout Sunday.

India committed under the Paris Agreement to increasing its forests by five million hectares before 2030 to combat climate change.

“We are aiming to beat the world record, to go above 66 million trees done by India. We aim to plant at least a billion trees by 2019, and another billion plus by 2021; and I am positive that with universities’ involvement, it is doable,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata is optimistic that the initiative will not only add value to people’s livelihoods through income from the sale of fruit and other forest products, but also contribute to the country’s ambitious mitigation targets as set in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

“As you may be aware, tree planting plays an important role in addressing impacts of climate change, and mitigating effects of climate change. In this regard, the Zambia Plant A Million initiative is also responding to national efforts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Zambia has undertaken, and is still implementing, several tree planting and preservation projects across the country. Central to such initiatives has been the goodwill of the country’s first president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who was a pioneer of tree planting during his time in office.

And according to Emmanuel Chibesakunda, PAM initiator and project manager, the initiative wants to build on this foresight and activism of the 94-year-old freedom fighter and founding father of the nation.

“I am pleased to announce this morning that Dr. Kenneth Kaunda has kindly agreed to be the goodwill ambassador for this initiative,” announced Chibesakunda amid thunderous applause from those who gathered to witness the ceremony in a district which is also home to Dr. Kaunda. “Dr. Kaunda did not only lead our country into independence, but also pioneered tree planting in Zambia.”

Chibesakunda shared his inspiration for the initiative, which he said was from his father who taught him that talent was like a seed which needed to be planted in the right soil to germinate into beautiful fruit. This led to his passion for trees, and especially the involvement of children and young people.

“My father told me that we all have talents, but what matters is where we plant them,” he told the gathering. “And my desire for this project is that we plant the knowledge in the young generation, let us put the future into their hands.”

So far, tree nurseries have been set up at 12 schools in Lusaka, and the project expects to reach 720 schools in the next two years in 60 districts across the country.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

What’s the G7’s ‘Charlevoix Blueprint’ all about?

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

While much of the focus at the G7 summit in Québec was on the antics of Donald Trump, the meeting actually produced something of a breakthrough for climate adaptation by coastal communities.

US President Donald Trump’s unconventional behaviour at the meeting of Group of Seven leading industrial powers dominated  most media coverage  of the summit. The US leader arrived late, left early, absented himself from the formal discussions on climate change, promoted fossil fuels instead, and then refused to sign the G7 final official communiqué due to its reaffirmation of the Paris Agreement.

Meanwhile, some real breakthroughs on international commitments to climate adaptation, coastal communities and issues at the crossroads of oceans, plastic pollution and global warming, were achieved during the high-level gathering hosted this year by Canada in Charlevoix, just northeast of Québec City.

The other G7 leaders came together to endorse the “Charlevoix Blueprint:” a new strategy for enhancing ocean and coastal “resilience,” a term that is increasingly used within the climate community to mean going beyond adaptation to global warming, but to maintain function in a way that improves on what went before.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Specifically, the Blueprint aims to develop better climate adaptation planning, emergency preparedness and recovery. The signatories are to identify policy gaps, vulnerabilities, and share expertise. In response to disasters, the Blueprint nations are to develop coastal management strategies that enable communities to “build back better,” with provisions to reconstruct both physical infrastructure and natural systems.

Where it can be done, nations are to favour “nature-based solutions” such as protection of wetlands, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. These represent natural habitats that protect communities  against the impacts of storms and waves. Such strategies also represent what is coming to be called “low carbon resilience”—those actions or behaviours that are adaptive to climate change and mitigate it at the same time. These natural habitats prevent flooding and erosion, but because they can be carbon sinks, they also work to limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

]The Blueprint signatories also want to support such strategies amongst least developed countries, in particular the small island developing states (SIDS), including the efforts to develop early warning systems for extreme weather events. Canada for its part announced $162 million in this regard, focusing on the expansion of climate-risk insurance for Caribbean SIDS and coastal clean energy systems.

The Blueprint included an Ocean Plastics Charter, committing signatories to limiting plastic pollution. This was signed by five of the G7 member states but not Japan. Recent research  mapping the origin of plastic waste aggregating in the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch concluded  that the majority comes from abandoned fishing nets and fishing gear, primarily from Asian nations. Scientists reckon as much as 20 percent is debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

The G7 are also to launch an initiative to deploy Earth observation technologies to improve coastal zone management and support disaster risk prevention. G7 energy, environment and oceans ministers are due to meet in Halifax in the fall to develop concrete new actions in this area.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Singapore Agreement Breaks ‘Last Remaining Cold War Legacy’ – S Korean President

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from Sputnik News

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that his country intends to ensure full implementation of the latest agreements that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump signed at the Singapore summit earlier in the day.

The South Korean president also stated that Seoul will “accompany Pyongyang on the path of peace and cooperation,” vowing to write a “new history” with North Korea.

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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“Leaving dark days of war and conflict behind, we will write a new chapter of peace and cooperation… The June 12 Sentosa Agreement will be recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on Earth” Moon said in a statement released by his office.
Earlier in the day, Moon Jae-in expressed hope that the US-North Korean high-level summit would pave the wave for an “era of complete denuclearization” and peace in the region. However, his adviser previously stated, echoing the words of the Japanese government secretary, that the complete denuclearization of North Korea might take up to a decade.

On Tuesday Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a document after a long-awaited historic summit in Singapore. Addressing the results of the negotiations, Trump said North Korea’s denuclearization process would be starting “very quickly,” while the North Korean leader stated, that the world was about to see “a major change.”

South Africa: Sisulu – UN Security Council Tenure Will Be Dedicated to Mandela’s Legacy

. FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from All Africa

South Africa is honoured and humbled by its election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and will dedicate its tenure to late former president Nelson Mandela, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Saturday.


Video of Sisulu press conferece

The election marks the country’s third term on the council, having previously served in 2007/8 and 2011/12.

“Our tenure in the Security Council will be dedicated to the legacy of President Nelson Mandela and his commitment to peace,” Sisulu said in a statement.

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Question related to this article:
 
Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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“In marking his centenary this year, a Summit on Peace will be held on the eve of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly in September.”

Sisulu said the focus would be on promoting the maintenance of international peace and security through advocating for the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue.

“South Africa’s diplomatic efforts over the past two decades include conflict resolution, prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. We firmly believe that, while we must strengthen the tools at the Security Council’s disposal in addressing conflicts as they arise, the focus should be on preventative diplomacy and on addressing the root causes of conflicts.”

Sisulu said peace could not be achieved without women’s participation in various activities.

“During our tenure, we will ensure that a gender perspective is mainstreamed into all Security Council resolutions in line with UNSC Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.”Sisulu said they were guided by the African Union’s resolution to ‘Silence the Guns’ by 2020.

“Only when we have peace and a culture of peace, can we have sustainable development and we in Africa need that and resources most. Our energies now have to be directed at the betterment of the lives of our people.”

US Conference of Mayors Resolution for Peace

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

A press release from Mayors for Peace received by email at CPNN

Today [June 11], at the close of its 86th Annual Meeting, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), unanimously adopted a sweeping resolution “Calling on the Administration and Congress to Step Back From the Brink and Exercise Global Leadership in Preventing Nuclear War.”

In the resolution, “the USCM welcomes the dramatic diplomatic opening between the U.S. and North Korea and urges President Trump to patiently and diligently work with North and South Korea for a formal resolution of the Korean War and normalized relations with a denuclearized Korean peninsula.”

The USCM also “reaffirms the importance and efficacy of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by Iran, the U.S. and 5 other nations to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, and calls on [the] U.S. Administration to pursue diplomacy and normalized relations with Iran with the goal of establishing a zone free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the Middle East.”

The resolution notes that tensions between the United States and Russia “have risen to levels not seen since the Cold War” and warns that “this is only one of many nuclear flashpoints, from the Korean Peninsula, to the South China Sea to the Middle East and South Asia, where all of the nuclear-armed states are engaged in unpredictable conflicts that could catastrophically escalate out of control.”

The resolution also warns that the February 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review “manifests a commitment to an increasing and long-term reliance on nuclear arms, lowers the threshold for use of nuclear weapons”, proposes new warheads and missiles, and “endorses current plans to sustain and upgrade existing nuclear forces and infrastructure projected to cost well over a trillion dollars over the next three decades.”

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Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Noting that “in 2017 the United States spent $610 billion on its military, more than two and a half times as much as China and Russia combined, amounting to 35% of world military spending”, and that this huge amount is slated to rise significantly in coming years ”the USCM “calls on the President and Congress to reverse federal spending priorities and to redirect funds currently allocated to nuclear weapons and unwarranted military spending to support safe and resilient cities” and to meet basic human needs.

The USCM resolution expresses deep regret that the United States and the eight other nuclear-armed states boycotted last year’s negotiations for a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and urges the U.S. government to “embrace the TPNW as a welcome step towards negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the achievement and permanent maintenance of a world free of nuclear arms”.
 
Finally, “the USCM calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first; ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack; taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons; and actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.”

The resolution was sponsored by Mayors for Peace U.S. Vice-President T.M. Franklin Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa and 25 co-sponsors including USCM President Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina and USCM International Affairs Committee Chair Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio.

The USCM, the nonpartisan association of 1,408 American cities with populations over 30,000, has unanimously adopted Mayors for Peace resolutions for 13 consecutive years. Resolutions adopted at annual meetings become USCM official policy.

As noted in this year’s resolution, “Mayors for Peace, which is working for a world without nuclear weapons and safe and resilient cities as essential measures for the realization of lasting world peace, has grown to 7,578 cities in 163 countries and regions, with 213 U.S. members, representing in total over one billion people”. Mayors for Peace, founded in 1982, is led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

See full text of resolution with list of 26 co-sponsors: http://wslfweb.org/docs/USCM2018MfPres.pdf

Contact: Jackie Cabasso, Mayors for Peace North American Coordinator,
wslf@earthlink.net

Adopting Resolution 2419 (2018), Security Council Calls for Increasing Role of Youth in Negotiating, Implementing Peace Agreements

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from the United Nations

Recognizing the role youth could play in conflict prevention and resolution, the Security Council today urged the Secretary‑General and his Special Envoys to take their views into account in security‑related discussions, and to facilitate their equal and full participation at decision‑making levels.


Participants attend the Somali National Youth Conference held in Mogadishu, Somalia (December 2017). UN Photo/Ilyas Ahmed

Unanimously adopting resolution 2419 (2018), the Council called on all relevant actors to consider ways for increasing the representation of young people when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, recognizing that their marginalization was detrimental to building sustainable peace and countering violent extremism, as and when conducive to terrorism.  In that context, it noted the independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, titled, “The missing peace”.

By other terms, the Council called on Member States to protect educational institutions as spaces free from all violence, ensure they were accessible to all youth and take steps to address young women’s equal enjoyment of their right to education.  It recommended the Peacebuilding Commission include in its advice ways to engage young people in national efforts to build and sustain peace, particularly urging appropriate regional and subregional bodies to facilitate their constructive engagement.

The Council went on to request the Secretary‑General to consider including in his reporting progress made towards young people’s participation in such processes as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and interlinked community violence reduction programmes.  He might also consider internal mechanisms to broaden young people’s participation in the work of the United Nations, the Council stated, asking him to submit, no later than May 2020, a report on the implementation of the current resolution, as well as resolution 2250 (2015).

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Question for this article

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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Introducing the draft, Olof Skoog (Sweden) said it built on and complemented resolution 2250 (2015).  It underlined the contribution young people could make to peace and security if actively engaged, recognizing both their diversity and the need to counter any stigmatization or homogenization.  Further, the resolution highlighted that the youth, peace and security agenda was a crucial part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Indeed, it marked an advance in the collective determination to ensure youth could play their rightful and necessary role in the Council’s work and in building peace around the world.

Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru), speaking after the vote, said the resolution underscored the important role that youth were called on to play in the prevention and resolution of conflict.  Highlighting Jordan’s initiative to place the topic on the Council’s agenda in 2015, he said young people were crucial to forging an inclusive vision of a shared future.  The resolution represented a major contribution to the Council’s work and he underscored the importance of follow up on its provisions, and of combating stereotypes that perpetuated violence against women.

Karel J. G. van Oosterom (Netherlands) expressed hope that the resolution’s request for a follow‑up report would receive the attention it deserved.  The text welcomed the Council’s intention to invite youth organizations as briefers and encouraged the Secretary‑General to include information on youth participation in peace processes.  The Progress Study, meanwhile, had given voice to 4,000 young people who would not otherwise have had the chance to participate in a policy‑shaping exercise.  He expressed hope that the Council would continue to increase youth participation in issues of peace and security.

Elaine Marie French (United States), while commending Peru and Sweden for working to ensure the Council recognized the role of young people, nonetheless voiced regret that the resolution did not contain language on the prevention of violent extremism.  The concept was not new and should not be controversial, as its goal was to address the factors that motivated people towards violence.  The Council had missed an opportunity to ensure that youth were involved in action plans to prevent violent extremism.  There was no reason why it could not support such efforts.  She cautioned against rolling back language on technology and the Internet.  Instead, the Council should have used language contained in resolution 2396 (2017), which should be the baseline for going forward.

Toward a Truly Indigenous Peace in the Korean Peninsula

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by Simone Chun for Foreign policy in focus (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons Attribution licence)

Why is the Democratic Party making peace in Korea more difficult?

Last month, I took part in an international women’s peace delegation to South Korea, led by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and Women Cross DMZ founder Christine Ahn.

It was my first visit to my native Korea in over three years. Everywhere I went, I witnessed the afterglow of the inspiring candlelight movement that restored democracy to the country last year, and I sensed the deep conviction with which Koreans support the current peace process initiated by President Moon Jae-in.

Women’s delegation cross Unification Bridge (Nobel Women’s Initiative via Flickr)

Our delegation noted in one of its first official statements following its arrival in Korea:

What initiated the Panmunjom Declaration was the completely non-violent and peaceful civil revolution in 2016 that began with orderly marches of demonstration with warm candlelight through the winter. The candlelight revolution was a true example of the UN’s Culture of Peace.


In addition to meeting with diplomatic representatives from the United States, UK Japan, Sweden, and Canada, we participated in an all-day peace symposium at the National Assembly side by side with South Korean women peace activists. One of our South Korea colleagues commented that while women have been conspicuously absent from the process of war-making in the Korean peninsula (at least from a policy standpoint) they most certainly ought to be part of the peace process.

On the same day that President Moon and Chairman Kim held their second summit in Panmunjom, our delegation, accompanied by over 1,200 Korean women, walked over five kilometers in the sweltering heat to cross the Unification Bridge on foot. Christine Ahn summed up all our sentiments when she later commented:

“We were the first civilians to walk across the Unification Bridge. As I took my first step onto the bridge, tears streamed down my face as I thought about how Korea was divided by the US and the former Soviet Union after 35 years of Japanese colonial occupation.”

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Question for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

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Returning to the United States however, I found a starkly different reality in the sustained rightwing attacks on the peace process and even the very idea of a peace treaty. Pundits, neocon hawks, and corporate media have been promoting an aggressively maximalist standard according to which North Korea must give up its entire nuclear weapons program before any serious discussions can take place. In this dialogue, the four million Korean and 35,000 American lives lost to the Korean War, as well as the 80 million Koreans whose lives would hang in balance in any renewed conflict, are presented as mere footnotes. North Korea in particular, where poverty is rampant and 25% of children suffer from malnutrition, is presented as the perpetually “threatening other,” fully deserving to suffer from US-led sanctions. American exceptionalism is celebrated without reservation.

In a recent declaration, seven leading Democratic senators continued this disregard for the interests of Koreans themselves in this nominally inter-Korean conflict with their demand that President Trump hold to a hard line in any negotiations with North Korea. The letter – signed by Senators Bob Menendez, Chuck Schumer, Richard Durbin, Mark Warner, Diane Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, and Sherrod Brown – completely overlooked the recent progress toward peace of the inter-Korean summit and the Panmunjom Declaration, and discounted the overwhelming support for the current peace process by Koreans. The letter offers no alternative vision for peace on the Korean Peninsula and considers Korean interests only insofar as they serve the narrow political agenda of the Democratic Party.

On the occasion of our delegation’s visit to Korea, I reached out to renowned scholar Professor Noam Chomsky for a statement in support of our mission. Contrasting the significance of the April 27 Declaration between the two Koreas with the apparently incoherent foreign policy approach of the United States, which plays a dominant role in any prospect for inter-Korean peace, Chomsky commented:

The April 27 Declaration of the two Koreas was a historic event, which promises a bright future for the people of Korea. It calls for the two Koreas to settle their problems “on their own accord” and lays out a careful schedule to proceed, something quite new. It also calls on the international community (meaning Washington) to support this process. Unfortunately, the signals from Washington are at best mixed.  National Security Council advisor John Bolton, who has called for bombing North Korea at once, and Vice-President Mike Pence both invoked the “Libya model,” knowing full well its import. President Trump cancelled the Singapore summit a few hours after North Korea had destroyed its main testing site as an important gesture of conciliation. But these are pitfalls, not termination of the process. With determination and good will the two Koreas can move forward with the plans outlined in the Declaration. It is the task of the people of the United States to support them in this historic endeavor and to ensure that their own government does not undermine or in any way impede the process. That can succeed. It must succeed, for the welfare of Korea, and all of us.

Noam Chomsky is right in pointing out that this initiative carried forward by the two Koreas is in fact “something quite new.” The minimum that the United States can do at this historic moment is to refrain from harming the inter-Korean peace process. It’s time that American politicians, both Democratic and Republicans, give Koreans a chance to shape their own destiny.

Mexico: Tlalnepantla Continues Work to Eradicate Gender Violence

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Ordenador

To raise awareness among citizens about the importance of eradicating gender violence and promoting a culture of peace throughout the municipal territory, the Tlalnepantla government continues to carry out activities of comprehensive attention to women, including a variety of services.

Each month the Municipal Institute for Women’s Equality and Development (IMIDM) carries out an average of 12 days of activities in various communities to prevent more women from being victims of some type of violence.


At their stands, attendees are given information on this topic, and it is expected that they in turn replicate this knowledge among their families and neighbors, to detect situations of violence in their communities.

During conferences, psychologists specialized in this subject offer a talk in which they teach the definition of violence and how to detect it; what is the gender violence alert, and what is the cycle of violence. Attendees are provided with emergency numbers to be called in case of violence.

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Question for this article

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

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After the presentation, attendees have the opportunity to participate in a “Workshop to promote self-employment”, which is carried out free of charge, with the purpose of empowering women to generate their own economic resources to access a better quality of life.

Among the activities carried out in this workshop, crafts are taught for the preparation of candy, bags, baskets, portraits and key rings, as well as the manufacture of products for cleaning the home, which can then be marketed to obtain additional income

Those interested in participating in this workshop should contact the IMIDM, gather a group of at least 25 people and have an adequate space for the preparation of food.

It is worth mentioning that these days are carried out in coordination with the Municipal Health Institute and with the Municipal DIF System, which is why services such as eye examinations, pressure collection and vital signs, dental check, among others, are also available.

For his part, Edgar Mauricio Zepeda Montes, a resident of Santa Monica, acknowledged that this type of conference serves to raise awareness among people about gender violence and the way in which it harms the development of society.

Monica Bribiesca Barrera, from Valle Ceylán, said that these activities contribute to improve the environment in their communities “because there should be no violence of any kind, at any age, not even towards animals. Violence denigrates all of us as living beings.”