Tag Archives: Mideast

Many Peaces in Iraq: Creating a Foundation for Conflict Transformation Through Peace Studies

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Aala Ali, Adham Hamed & Muntather Hassan from Impakter

“We heard children singing ISIL songs, and saw them role play executions in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp playground. We were distributing humanitarian aid. It was then that I realized, if we don’t do anything about this … a new, more extremist generation will be born,” Ziena, 27 years old.

Ziena graduated from one of six youth-training workshops hosted by UNDP Iraq partner, Iraqi Al-Amal Association, in 2018. Focused on preventing violent extremism (PVE) and conflict transformation, Ziena is one of 146 university students and youth activists who have been supported to carry out creative community-based activities in their universities and local communities.


In the Photo: IDP Camp Children with Song Book. Photo Credit: Iraqi Al-Amal/2019

Struck by her own experience in an IDP Camp, Ziena created a children’s songbook; filled with words of peace and ideas that support a non- discriminative, gender equal, and non-violent future for Iraq. Each page of the book is decorated with the artwork of IDP children, which today, Ziena and her team of volunteers take to IDP camps to share. She hopes that music and song will guide these children toward a culture of peace and a future free from divisive ideologies.

But, whilst her story is heartwarming and her hands are those working to directly mend the hearts of conflict-affected communities, Ziena is addressing just one layer of conflict in Iraq’s peace-building process. She is instrumental in building a bridge between academic ideas and concepts required to frame a new culture of peace in Iraq, and the tangible actions made in her community, where she encounters survivors of conflict every day. Both aspects are necessary, and indeed complimentary, but there is another layer which is critical to ensuring sustainability of peace in Iraq — the structures that enable peace. For this, the active engagement of the government is crucial.

Recognizing the complexity of this task, the UNDP-funded project, Education for Peace in the Iraqi Higher Education System,” implemented by national NGO Iraqi Al-Amal Association  and the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck’s Unit for Peace and Conflict Studies, is designed to address all three levels of conflict — grass-roots, middle and high-level — through a combination of community level programming, curriculum development with the Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies and government engagement through the  Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research (MOHESR).

Between October 2018 and March 2019, this culminated in the development of the first national Diploma for Peace and Conflict Studies, which will be piloted at the University of Baghdad later this year. Such an endeavor required an in-depth reflection about the potential meanings of peace and the impact of different notions of peace in the Iraqi context.

Defining Peace

UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) calls for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development — providing justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. In the same vein, on the International Day of Peace 2018, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated, “There is more to achieving peace than laying down our weapons.”

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.

So, what are the potential meanings of peace beyond the absence of war and direct violence? The preamble of the UNESCO constitution provides a helpful reference point: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Such an understanding of peace opens up a possibility to think about the idea of peace beyond a single universal notion that could be applied in all places and all times, regardless of the respective socio-political and cultural circumstances.

Wolfgang Dietrich, UNESCO Chairholder for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck, proposed the idea of “many peaces;” a concept that suggests that there are as many interpretations of peace as there are human beings in the world. This perspective provides an alternative avenue to universalist notions of how peace ought to be. By contrast it introduces a human-centered approach that puts people and the diversity of their lived experiences at the center of conflict transformation work. In the Iraqi context, which has long experienced external interventions, this makes the radical shift of agency to Iraqi citizens, who are now considered the central agents for formulating their own understandings of peace.

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Question related to this article:

A culture of peace in Iraq, Is it possible?

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Conflict and Violence in Iraq

From the first Gulf War and the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein, to the 2003 invasion, the subsequent 8-year Iraq war and ISIL’s occupation between 2014-2017, it is no surprise that the scars of war and conflict have marred the economic and social development potential of Iraq, despite its considerable oil resources. In 2017, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the economic impact of violence on the global economy was 14.76 trillion US Dollars or the equivalent of 12.4% of the global GDPBeyond Conflict Resolution

If it were the case that families, communities and societies could be fixed like the engine of a broken car, narrowly focusing on the material aspects of conflict might be a sufficient response. However, human relationships are more complex than the mechanistic qualities of an engine and they are not always rational, with messy human traits tied up in our experience, including crucial sexual, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions that all constitute a part of human existence.

All of these aspects contribute to the tangible costs of conflict, and using short-term solutions alone to address them will only temporarily suppress conflict — with a strong likelihood that it will appear again, somewhere new. This is why, beyond the idea of simple conflict resolution, a more comprehensive approach to conflict transformation needs to put the relationships of people living and surviving in protracted conflicts at the center of a journey toward peaceful communities.

We know from experience that conflict transformation processes require years, decades or even generations, in the case of large-scale violence. The concept of the “200-years present,” first introduced by sociologist Elise Boulding, explains how an experience of violence will continue to resonate in subsequent generations, through the trans-generational dimensions of trauma. Which is why episodes of violence, such as those experienced during ISIL’s occupation of Iraq, will likely affect the relatives of survivors and witnesses for many years to come.

Hence, while immediate interventions for peace are necessary to address the material dimensions of conflict, such as reconstruction, it is equally crucial to consider the mid and long-term processes of relational work through trauma healing and peace education. This is not only much more cost-effective than investing in further securitization and militarization, but it also opens up the possibility for long-term change processes through the education sector, strengthened to provide platforms for peace. Peace education provides a possibility to think about “many peaces” and conflict transformation as a means of addressing personal and collective challenges that remain deeply ingrained in families, communities and societies moved by the experiences of war and violence. It’s an approach that in the spirit of the UNESCO Constitution starts with the human mind as a central resource for defending peace. And, from experience we know that this may not only contribute to the prevention of further outbreaks of direct violence but that it’s actually a means of transforming cultures of violence to cultures of peaces; equipping people with alternative and effective tools to transform their conflicts peacefully, such as dialogue, and mediation.

Peace education can also be used to help people develop their own ways of living and fostering cultures of peace, and to avoid the belief that their reality is directed by external forces. In Iraq there is a widespread belief that violent conflict is merely imposed by foreigners. This sense is built up from the community level and challenges the notion that people were living in peace before foreign intervention. Whilst we can recognise that there are many external factors contributing to instability in Iraq, we also see how this recognition is used as a strategy to avoid personal responsibility and agency, limiting the possibility of addressing conflict from within one’s own context. Avoiding agency frequently occurs as part of a denial phase after trauma. However, the inclusive, and elicitive approaches in peace education can facilitate ownership for Iraqis, enabling them to take forward this type of peace work and enhancing their level of responsibility on foundational issues.

A Catalyst for Change

The development of a national pilot curriculum for a “Diploma of Peace and Conflict Studies” is an intervention that has come after many years of armed conflict. At the beginning of this project, promoting peace education in the Iraqi higher education sector was the goal, but how can you continue academic life in a context marked by war, where lecture halls and libraries have been destroyed or burnt to the ground? And beyond material damage and destruction: How do you continue academic work and life in a meaningful way after experiencing the kind of atrocities that put all meaning of life into question?

Whilst the circumstances in post-ISIL Iraq are in many ways different from the political, cultural and social situation in Europe post-World War II, there are also certain parallels. Most strikingly we see a new-found momentum to establish a foundation of Peace and Conflict Studies as an academic discipline — and a recognition that the neighboring discipline of International Relations, founded after World War I, was largely unsuccessful in finding the answers to prevent genocide and the use of weapons of mass-destruction. This had a direct effect on the development of a broad range of applied conflict transformation methods, which have been of utmost use for transforming conflicts in a non-violent manner, and which, with the right methodologies, may achieve positive results in Iraq too. This consideration was at the heart of the “Education for Peace in the Iraqi Higher Education System” project. But why academia? Because Iraqi academics have collectively demonstrated a desire to actively contribute to national reconciliation, with a strong will to work together to address the questions of peace and conflict transformation through establishing Peace and Conflict Studies as a new discipline in Iraq.

This culminated in the formation of The Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies, between 2016-2017, with support from Iraqi Al-Amal, UNDP Iraq and Eastern Mennonite University. The Consortium — comprised of academics from the Universities of Baghdad, Tikrit, Anbar, Basra, Karbala, Kufa and Mosul — became a vocal advocate for the development of Peace Studies in a post-conflict Iraq and actively participated in capacity building activities to train academics and in-turn contribute to the development of a context appropriate curriculum.

Jordanian National Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security 2018 – 2021

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from UN Women – Jordan

The (2018-2021) Jordanian National Action Plan (JONAP) for advancing the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325), and its subsequent resolutions, was developed to respond to the country’s latest security and military challenges. It is in line with Jordan’s commitments to promote and respect human rights, justice, equality and participation—all of which are embodied in various national frameworks, such as The National Strategy for Jordanian Women (2013-2017) and The Comprehensive National Plan for Human Rights (2016-2025).

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Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

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The JONAP for advancing the implementation of UNSCR 1325 aims to integrate a gender-based approach towards women’s participation in prevention and protection processes during conflicts, as well as in peace building, and maintaining stability and sustainable security.

Parallel to these efforts, the JONAP specifically responded to the 2015 UN Security Council resolution 2242, which highlights the importance of cooperation with civil society and the role of women as key partners in preventing and combating violent extremism. It also reiterates the importance of engaging men and boys as partners in promoting women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts.

The process of drafting the JONAP on resolution 1325 began as Jordan and other countries were endorsing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Agenda’s overall objectives—and Goal 5 and its targets in particular—represent an opportunity to transform development and planning approaches and mechanisms for implementation, to ensure equality of opportunity and the empowerment of women. Furthermore, they provide a means to ensure the inclusion and participation of all segments of society, for the fair and efficient implementation of comprehensive and sustainable development. 

Mohamed Sahnoun, 1931-2018: Advisor for Culture of Peace

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An obituary from Initiatives of Change International

September 24, 2018. It is with immense sadness that we announce that Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, former President of Initiatives of Change International, died on 20 September 2018.
Mohamed Sahnoun was chosen by two UN Secretary-Generals as their Special Representative in some of Africa’s most intractable conflicts. They knew him as a man with a remarkable ability to persuade warring factions to meet and talk.


Photo from Early History of the Culture of Peace

FThis was partly a product of his wide experience as a diplomat. He had been Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity and of the Arab League. He had served as Algeria’s Ambassador to Germany, France, the USA and Morocco.

But even more, it was a product of his approach to life. As a young man, during Algeria’s struggle for independence from France, he had been arrested by the French authorities and severely tortured. Yet as a diplomat he established warm relations with French leaders. As he said later, ‘My passion is to save endangered populations from the extreme insecurity of war, famine, drought and disaster,’ and he sought to enlist all who could help in that task.

His approach did much to resolve the tensions arising from the process of decolonisation across the African continent. His help was sought in situations large and small. His most satisfying task, he said, was mediating the transition of South-West Africa into the new country of Namibia. But he also dealt with innumerable places where towns and villages, divided by colonial straight-line borders, had to be adjusted. Sahnoun was often the person who mediated a solution.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali chose him as his Special Representative to Somalia in 1993, when the country had erupted into severe conflict. Sahnoun reached out to all sides, and a basis for resolving the conflict was emerging. Then Boutros Ghali told him that the USA intended to intervene militarily. Sahnoun protested vehemently and, when told that the decision had been made, resigned. The US intervention was a disaster.

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Questions for this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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Sahnoun was always searching for more effective ways to bring peace. He supported the UNDP initiatives for ‘human security’, which focused on meeting the basic needs of citizens and thereby overcoming insecurity. He advised UNESCO on its Culture of Peace programme and advised Kofi Annan on environmental and development issues. He was a member of the Brundtland Commission.

He served as co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which developed the concept of Responsibility to Protect. ‘Mohamed had an extraordinary capacity to bring people together and bind wounds,’ wrote his co-chair, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans. ‘He played an indispensable role in searching out the common ground between North and South which made possible the birth of Responsibility to Protect. We will particularly remember his delightful capacity to defuse tensions, usually with African parables involving lions, monkeys, crocodiles, scorpions or all of the above.’

In 2008, together with Cornelio Sommaruga, former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, he launched the Caux Forum for Human Security. As he said in an interview with the Huffington Post, ‘The idea came from my sense of the deep insecurity in today’s world. Insecurity is born of fear. We must look to the root causes of that fear, and address it with far more energy and cohesion.’

He chose the IofC centre in Switzerland, Caux, as the venue because ‘it is a place where interreligious dialogue is deeply established. I had heard about Caux and Moral Re-Armament (the previous name of Initiatives of Change) from friends over many years. Caux was a safe place where people could build trust in one another.’

In Sahnoun’s view, achieving human security depended on progress in five areas, which he defined as just governance, inclusive economics, intercultural dialogue, environmental sustainability and healing historical wounds. ‘So often the understanding of security has focused purely on physical security,’ he said. ‘But human security is about the very fundamentals of our existence. I place special emphasis on healing wounded memories. In Algeria, Northern Ireland, the Balkans and other places of long pain and violence, the feelings run so deep that a special effort is called for.’

The Caux Forum brought together several hundred people each year, who explored these five concerns jointly. Many initiatives have emerged. In Eastern Europe there is a new emphasis on uncovering and healing the wounds resulting from war and authoritarian rule. And Caux is now doing much to bring the importance of land restoration to international attention.

Sahnoun served as President of Initiatives of Change International for two years [2007-2008], and his insights have helped shape Initiatives of Change programmes throughout the world.

Watch Mohamed Sahnoun’s opening speech  of the 3rd Caux Forum for Human Security in 2010 and an  interview  with him in 2011. 

Pope hopes his Arabian trip will help Islam-Christian relations

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Philip Pullella from Thomson Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Pope Francis said on Wednesday [February 6] he hoped his historic trip to the Arabian peninsula will help dispel the notion of an inevitable clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam.


Photo: Pope Francis leads the weekly general audience at Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Max Rossi
(click on photo to enlarge)

Francis returned to Rome on Tuesday from the United Arab Emirates, where in Abu Dhabi he presided at the largest public Mass ever celebrated on the peninsula where Islam was born.

“In an era, like ours, where there is a strong temptation to see a clash between Christian civilization and the Islamic one, and even to consider religions as a source of conflict, we wanted to send another clear and decisive signal that encounter is possible,” he said at his regular general audience.

Francis was referring to a document he signed during the trip with Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque and university, one of the most authoritative theological and educational institutions in Islam.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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The pope said the “Document on Human Fraternity” was proof that “it is possible to respect each other and hold dialogue, and that despite differences in culture and traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and protect common values …”

The document, signed on Monday, called on “all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression.”

He invited everyone to read the document, saying it would offer ideas on how individuals can work for tolerance and coexistence.

Ultra-conservative Catholics have been opposed to any dialogue with Islam, with some saying its ultimate goal is to destroy the West.

On the plane returning from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, a reporter asked Francis about possible negative reaction to the document by Catholics “who accuse you of allowing yourself to be used by Muslims”.

Francis, a progressive who has been in the crosshairs of conservatives since his election in 2013, responded with a joke: “Not only the Muslims. They accuse me of allowing myself to be used by everyone, even journalists. It’s part of the job.”

But he said “from a Catholic point of view, the document had not strayed a millimeter” from teachings on inter-religious dialogue approved by the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

“If anyone feels bad, I understand. It is not an everyday thing. But it is a step forward,” he said on the plane.

The project of Arab cultural capitals and cities: 22 years later, diagnosis and perspectives

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article by Mohamed Salah Kadri from Leaders (translated by CPNN and abbreviated)

The Cultural Capitals project originated in Europe in November 1983 . . . , when Melina Mercouri (1920-1994), then Greek Minister of Culture, invited her European peers to “rethink the role of culture in a European construction first based on the economic integration of its members”. The Council of European Ministers responsible for culture responded to this call and Athens (1985), Florence (1986), Amsterdam (1987) and West Berlin (1988) were respectively dedicated to “European cities of culture”

Also, at the end of the treaty of the Union of the Ibero-American Cultural Capitals (UCCI) signed on October 12th, 1982, Bogota was declared in 1991, Cultural Capital and La LaPaz, was benefited of this title in 1999 and now, after almost twenty years, the title is again awarded. . . The cities Montevideo (1996) and Havana (1997) were chosen as part of the UCCI. . . .
This recognition of belonging to a common cultural area is also at the heart of the “East Asia City of Culture” program, which seeks to foster mutual understanding between Japan, South Korea and China. . . .

Cultural capitals and cities in the Arab region

The objectives documented in the feasibility paper of the Arab Cultural Capitals Project prepared by ALECSO and endorsed by the 1998 Conference of Ministers of Culture in Arab Countries, were summarized as follows:

– to reaffirm the importance of Arab cultural unity and present a clear image of the Arab-Muslim civilization,

– to promote the participation of local populations in cultural life,

– to include culture as a vector of economic and social development,

– to encourage cultural and creative industries in Arab countries,

– to strengthen cultural cooperation between Arab countries and with the rest of the world.

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(Click here for the original in French.)

Questions for this article:

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

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The program of Arab capital cities and cultural cities continued on a regular basis from 1996, with one capital per year. From 1996 to 2018, a number of 21 Arab capitals enjoyed the title: Cairo (1996), Tunis (1997), Sharjah (1998), Beirut (1999), Riyadh (2000), Kuwait (2001) , Amman (2002), Rabat (2003), Sanaa (2004), Khartoum (2005), Muscat (2006), Damascus (2008), Jerusalem (2009), Doha (2010), Sirte (2011), Manama (2012), Baghdad (2013), Tripoli (2014) , Constantine (2015), Sfax (2016), Luxor (2017) and Oujda (2018). For the next five years, these will be: Port Sudan (2019), Bethlehem (2020), Irbid (2021), Kuwait (2022) and Tripoli (Lebanon 2023).

The merits and the limits of the project: some observations

The record of the Arab Cultural Capitals to date proves that they have the potential to act as a catalyst for local development and cultural tourism. The event was a good opportunity for new infrastructure to be built and others refurbished. Historical and archaeological sites are highlighted and artistic activities have multiplied. However, the lack of a cell or structure, even ad-hoc, at the level of the ALECSO responsible for monitoring this program makes it difficult, today to establish an exhaustive report of the actions carried out. . .

There is a tendency, more and more, to be limited to an opening ceremony and a closing ceremony. . . .

While the Arab Cultural Capitals project was a milestone on the agenda of the Arab Decade for Cultural Development (2005-2014), it is eminently recommended now with the launch from Tunis on 22 June 2018, by ALECSO, of an Arab Decade of Cultural Law for the period 2018-2027, to rehabilitate the project of the Capitals of Arab Culture in the light of the objectives of the said Decade. The Capitals of Culture chosen for the next few years should take into account in their programs new developments, namely to protect cultural rights as human rights and to promote the culture of peace, tolerance and the improvement of culture. mutual understanding between Arab countries and the rest of the world. In addition, it also seems advisable to work towards mutual alliances, to form partnerships and to make twinnings between the Arab Cultural Capitals and their African, Islamic, European, Asian and Ibero-American counterparts. De facto, a work on the image of the winning city requires borrowing cultural policies likely to enroll the younger generations in the era of time and prepare them to live in a plural world. On the other hand, did the 29th Arab Summit held in Dhahran (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) on April 15, 2018, present an opportunity to rethink the status of culture in Arab countries, calling for the organization of an Arab summit exclusively dedicated to the cultural question “Better to keep one promise than to renew one hundred”.

Women for Yemen Network: Joint Statement in Advance of the Yemeni Peace Talks in Sweden

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from the Nobel Women’s Initiative

After four years of devastating war, the people of Yemen demand peace. It is women who are the most-affected by the war and their voices need to be heard in the peace negotiations. We, as the Women for Yemen Network, call for women to be represented in peace talks, starting with the upcoming meeting in Sweden this December. We call on the international community to put pressure on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to ensure that women are present at the peace talks. When women’s voices are included, a more lasting peace is secured.

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Many issues, essential to building a lasting peace, are being neglected in the current peace negotiations. When women are present at the peace table, they ensure that the lived experiences of women and their communities are reflected in the final peace agreement.

No true peace will happen without addressing the following issues:

Women’s role in the peace process:

Ensure that women are present in the peace process. United Nations Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security calls for an increase in the participation of women in all decision-making, including in peace processes. In establishing peace in Yemen, as per the National Dialogue Conference of Yemen, women should comprise least with 30 percent of negotiators at the peace table.

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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Support, financially and politically, for women-led initiatives and organizations working on peace for Yemen at the grassroots level and in the diaspora.

Restoring normalcy in Yemen:

* Institute an immediate ceasefire.
* End the Saudi and UAE-led land, air and maritime blockade on Yemen.
* Ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the conflict-affected areas and that international aid focuses on income generation for families and communities.
* Release all illegally-detained persons and abductees held by all parties to the conflict.
* End the three-year, Houthi-imposed siege of Taiz.
 
Landmines:

Start the demining process and ensure that there is a clear map of where the landmines are located.

Child soldiers:

Release, immediately, all children enlisted in military operations and ensure that their physical and psychological needs are met.
 
Transitional Justice:

Ensure that the principle of transitional justice is adhered to and that compensation is provided for as a prerequisite to sustainable peace.

We are a network of women’s human rights defenders and journalists working for a women’s–centred approach to building a sustainable peace in Yemen.

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

Southern Sudanese leaders agree to promote a culture of peace

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article in Arabic from Radio Tavazuj (translated by Google)

A number of civil leaders from across southern Sudan have agreed to work to promote unity, preaching peace and renouncing hate speech to promote peace, in accordance with the peace agreement.

Sixty local leaders from Upper Nile, Bahr El Ghazal and Equatorial Regions held a three-day meeting last week in the state of the Yai River to discuss how to implement the peace agreement.

In a statement received by Tamazog Radio, the workshop’s Cebu organization said that the aim of the workshop is to strengthen the capacity of the civil leadership and civil society organizations in the peace-building process.

Question related to this article:

 

Can peace be achieved in South Sudan?

Sultan Qwai, representative of the Upper Nile region, told Radio Tamazaj that the workshop added new skills on peace signed by the parties recently. “Let’s come together and start a new life with peace,” he said.

Sultan Mtour Abaj, from Bahr al-Ghazal province, pledged to spread peace, peaceful coexistence and unity in order to ease the trauma suffered by the people of southern Sudan during the war.

Ayak Deng, from the Abyei region, called on tribal leaders in southern Sudan to work for peaceful coexistence. “Let’s show love and unity among us and fight tribalism and we will not let each other out,” she said.

The Minister of Gender and Social Welfare of the State of Yay, Christina Annette, thanked Cebu and its partners for organizing a workshop of local leaders from sultans and activists from all over southern Sudan to discuss peace issues.

The minister called for efforts to promote peace-building in conflict-affected rural areas of the state of the River Yai, indicating that the state government is working hard to restore peace and stability so that peace partners can reach rural areas.

Israeli women hold mass rallies to protest rising violence against women

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Press TV

Tens of thousands of women have held a general strike as well as protests across the Israeli-occupied territories to voice their anger at the Tel Aviv regime’s failure to stem a sharp increase in violence against women.

On Tuesday, protesters staged separate rallies in several cities, calling on Israeli authorities to take action to stop the killings of females during domestic violence-related incidents.


A general view of protest against violence against women in Tel Aviv, Israeli-occupied territories, December 4, 2018 (By AP)

Dressed mainly in black with red hats, and carrying red balloons and torches, some 30,000 demonstrators gathered in central Tel Aviv to urge the Israeli administration to address the issue.

“Today we made history,” the protest’s organizers told the crowd. “Today the silence on the violence against women has turned to screams.”

Some 200 pairs of women’s shoes, painted red, were also placed on display on Habima Square in central Tel Aviv in a sign of protest.

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Questions related to this article:

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

How effective are mass protest marches?

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In occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, demonstrators chanted for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “wake up,” carrying signs that read, “Women’s blood is not cheap” and “We are killed and the government is silent.”

Some women blocked the entrance to the city, holding signs stating, “Enough with the murder of females.”

Organizers of the protests demanded that a budget of nearly a $70 million be allocated to combating violence against women.

The strike was called last week in the wake of the recent murders of two teen girls, whose deaths brought the number of women, who were killed over the past year in domestic violence-related incidents to 24, the highest in years.

Over 300 institutions, municipalities, schools, and groups joined the strike and the protesters observed a moment of silence to mark the deaths.

A day earlier, activists poured red dye in public fountains in several cities to draw attention to the protest.

Shortly after the end of the rally, Netanyahu’s office announced that the prime minister would convene a meeting of the ministerial committee on violence against women on Wednesday morning.

On Monday, the opposition’s Zionist Union brought a no-confidence motion, denouncing the regime’s failure to curb such violence.

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

Book fair in Oujda, Morocco: Ambition for the Maghreb and Africa

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article by Bios Diallo for Le Point (translation by CPNN)

Oujda, the regional capital of the Moroccan East hosted from 18 to 21 October 2018 the 2nd edition of Maghreb book fair on the theme “Reinventing the universal”. It was a event full of depth.


Bordering with Algeria and gateway to Morocco, Oujda is a city rich with culture. This inspired the Minister of Culture and Communication, Mohamed Al Aaraj, to say that the Lettres du Maghreb exhibition resembles the city that hosts it: a melting pot of spiritual and intellectual cultures. Moreover, Oujda has been designated, in 2018, “capital of Arab culture”!

More than 300 writers and editors were present. And beyond the authors from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, this edition also welcomed writers and poets from Lebanon, Palestine , Syria, Iran, Latin America and Europe. Sub-Saharan Africa was also present throughout Côte d’Ivoire, a country of honor. The president of the show, Mohamed Mbarki, spoke of a “Maghreb and African ambition” to build through letters.

Towards universality

It remains to be seen how to promote and lead Maghreb literatures towards universality. Writer Jalal El Hakmaoui, who is also curator of the show, said: “It is not a question of creating universality, but of putting it into perspective through the contributions of thinkers. It means transcending the conflicts of the world and the ideologies of hate, to move towards a world that is open and respectful of the other. With “Reinventing the Universal”, the speakers invited positive ideas to combat the discourses that exploit fear.

The public was spoiled for choice of themes. The halls were filled by visitors thirsty for knowledge and debate. The subject “Islam and modernity” catalyzed many passions of the Maghreb. Indeed, between radicalization and violence, enlightenment is needed. And if Islam, as a personal faith, is not refractory to modernity, the external gaze on it is now biased. “No, Islam is not violent,” protests Algerian publisher and translator Sakhr Benhassine. And for good reason, if one investigates those who perpetrate violence, one discovers those with limited religious and human qualities. It is therefore for other motives that the ignoble is committed, and not Islam. At the round table “Sufism and the culture of peace”, rapper, slammer and writer Abd al Malik agreed: “It is our duty to enlighten those who do not really have access to the book,” he argues. “Since I am interested in Sufism, as I travel through the world of the original texts, I discover the strength and spirit of peace contained in the sacred writings. You just have to believe that people are badly informed.”

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(click here for the French original of this article)

Question for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

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Themes that challenge current events

“The Maghreb seen from elsewhere” and “Being a migrant today” overlap by the fact of departure and return, the gaze of the other and of oneself. The Maghreb, itself a land of confluences, is now experiencing many crossings to Europe. Just as it has known the loss of its youth in search of better horizons towards Europe, Canada and the United States. But because, among other things, attacks and violence often committed by individuals claiming Islam, migrants and non-migrants are stigmatized. “However,” said Fodé Sylla, a great activist of the 2000s in France and moderator of one of the meetings, “we will not give in to the fear of the other. Neither the Muslim nor the migration carries the genes of violence. The culture of violence is dishonestly imposed on them. “We must avoid rigid judgments and identities,” adds Moroccan novelist Naima Lahbil Tagemouati.

The imagination of languages, the creation, the dream of elsewhere, the edition and circulation of the book will not be left out. And if Maghreb literature comes from brilliant writers, it must be recognized that their talents evolved elsewhere, an elsewhere more attractive, but at the expense of a deprived land. This is what the show wants to correct, say the organizers. The Wali of the region, keen on the readings, questions: “Will we always be condemned to see our authors celebrate elsewhere?” Mouaad Jamai refuses to abdicate:” What are we able to value here in the Maghreb! Oujda is a favorable environment. We can express here loud and clear a common will to bring about a Maghreb edition that is coherent and solidaire on the scale of the subregion around our authors and editors.”

The junction of two worlds

Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa share the same dilemma. “Our literature is still behind, regrets the Ivorian poet Henry Nkoumo. Produced elsewhere, little disseminated and encouraged at home, it can not be otherwise. But it is time for us to be able to produce on our own, and to allow our schoolchildren and readers to have access to our productions as they should! This is no doubt why the Maghreb Book Fair focuses on youth (writing workshops, comics, news and images with writers and illustrators) and local editions.

And the necessary construction of bridges. “Designating an African country as guest of honor for each edition,” said Abdelkader Retnani, president of the Union of Publishers of Morocco and one of the mainstays of the event, is part of the will of the kingdom to mark its anchor as African. For this second edition, Côte d’Ivoire succeeds Senegal. Maurice Kouakou Bandaman, Minister of Culture and Francophonie of Côte d’Ivoire, sees this as a comforting sign: “By making the Maghrebi Book Fair of Oujda a unifying door open to the world, the organizers give Morocco beautiful colors and the expectations of our book industry. ”

The visitors left with their hands full of books, with ideas to mature before 2019!

AUNOHR University unveils the “Knotted Gun” Sculpture in Beirut

. . . EDUCATION FOR PEACE . . .

special to CPNN

On the occasion of October 2, The International Day of Non‐Violence, the Academic University for Non-Violence and Human Rights – AUNOHR launched “The National Day of Non-Violence in Lebanon” and unveiled the universal “Sculpture of Non‐Violence” (The iconic knotted gun by the late Swedish painter, sculptor and peace activist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd), in a first Arab capital, Beirut, on October 2nd 2018, in the presence of Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma, Mr. Blaise Oberson, CEO of the Non-Violence Project Foundation (NVPF) which owns the rights of the sculpture, and Ms. Ingeborg Breines, former UNESCO and former co-president of the International Peace Bureau and member of the International Advisory Council of AUNOHR.

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The Oct 2nd celebration was a cultural commemoration, under the patronage of the Prime Minister Mr. Saad Hariri who was represented by the Minister of Culture Mr. Ghattas Khoury, with the participation of officials, ambassadors, artists, intellectuals, media, academics, civil society, international organizations, youth and students from all the country.

It was an impressive event, broadcasted live on the main Lebanese TV channel (LBCI), and supported by BDL, UNICEF, LACR, individuals and many contributions in kind.

On the basis of AUNOHR’s initiative, a Ministerial Decree was declared in October 2016 to establish officially the National day for the culture of non-violence in Lebanon, and thus to coincide with the International Day of Non-Violence, adopted by the UN in 2007, October 2nd, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

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Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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Arun Gandhi’s presence as guest of honor inspired the audience; he was on a first visit to Lebanon as a member of the International Advisory Council of the University. When he learned about the founding of AUNOHR in 2009, he was overwhelmed “My grandfather always dreamed of a professional institution that teaches non-violence that will continue through generations and liberate nations… I was ecstatic when I heard that an Arab University for Nonviolence is taking shape in Lebanon and I am happy to be associated with this venture…”

Celebrating Pioneer Achievements

Dr. Ogarit Younan, AUNOHR Founder and the initiator of the event and these pioneer achievements, emphasized that it is our responsibility to choose non-violence over violence by following the idea of ​​this statue and the words of Gandhi “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. She expressed the founders’ satisfaction in introducing the culture of non-violence into the decision of the Council of Ministers and the institutionalizing of non-violence culture in school curricula through a pioneering agreement with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Lebanon. She also extended the founders’ appreciation for this courageous initiative establishing a “knotted gun” in a public place in Beirut especially in view of prevalent circumstances… numerous conflicts, extremism and violence.

Arabic Version of “Imagine” by Children

With charming and touching voices, eight children from the Arabic program “The Voice Kids” from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, sang John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, a special and impressive compilation arranged by Jean-Marie Riachi, a peaceful artistic achievement produced by the University for its wide dissemination throughout the Arab world.

Schoolchildren Designed the “Knotted Gun”

Many children from different schools, regions and religions in Lebanon, designed the “knotted gun” with their creative ideas after being trained on the meaning of the sculpture and the Day of non-violence, and participated in this first celebration with their teachers and parents. They overwhelmed the place with their paintings, a rose in their hands with a certificate of appreciation offered by AUNOHR.

These children and young singers will be the voice of the “knotted gun” and the ambassadors for the culture of peace and non-violence for generations to come…