Tag Archives: United Nations

SADC and United Nations honor Nelson Mandela

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An article in the Jornal de Angola (translation by CPNN)

In recognition of Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom of peoples, the executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Stergomena L. Tax rendered homage to Nelson Mandela “Madiba” for his realization of peace, freedom and social justice in South Africa and in the consolidation of democracy on the continent and in the world.


Mandela was remembered yesterday, Photography: DR

Stargomena Tax said that Nelson Mandela represents the symbol of democracy and freedom not only for the people of South Africa, but also the southern region of the continent and the world. “After 10 years, the world continues to reaffirm its commitment to honor and honor the man who has done everything for the liberation of his people and for peace in the world,” the statement said.

July 18 marks the date of Nelson Mandela’s birth and was established as the Day of the South African leader in December 2009 by the United Nations General Assembly.

It is celebrated every year around the world as Mandela Day.

The SADC executive secretary reaffirmed in the communiqué the commitment of Africans to honor Mandela’s achievements as a legacy for the preservation of peace, the consolidation of democracy and the sustainable development of member countries.

For his achievements, Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Under the leadership of Mandela the South African Government focused on the dismantling of apartheid, combating institutionalized racism, poverty, inequality and promoting racial reconciliation.

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(Click here for the original article in Portuguese.)

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Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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Homage in New York

“With hate speech casting a growing shadow around the world, Nelson Mandela’s calls for social cohesion and an end to racism are particularly relevant today,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said yesterday. “Nelson Mandela was such an extraordinary global defender of dignity and equality that anyone in the public service should emulate,” Guterres said.

As “one of the most emblematic and inspiring leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela was an example of courage, compassion and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice.”

“He lived by these principles and was prepared to sacrifice his freedom and even life for them,” Guterres said. “As we work collectively for peace, stability, sustainable development, and human rights for all, it would be well to remember the example given to us by Nelson Mandela. Our best tribute is actions,” he added.

The statement recognized the period from 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace. Mandela or Madiba, as he is affectionately known to South Africans is remembered for his humility and compassion, while acknowledging his contribution to the struggle for democracy and the promotion of a culture of peace.

“Over the course of 67 years, Mandela has dedicated his life to the service of humanity as a human rights lawyer and international mediator for peace and social justice,” he said. In allusion to all the time of his work, Nelson Mandela International Day suggests that each person spend 67 minutes helping others.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, and died on December 5, 2013, and was the first black man to serve as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, elected in a multiracial and fully representative Free South Africa. Although initially committed to nonviolent protest in 1961, Mandela led a campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, tried and convicted for conspiracy against the Government and sentenced to life imprisonment. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison.

As President, he established a new Constitution and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations in the country.

Mandela received more than 250 awards from around the world in recognition of his commitment to others.

Several public activities were carried out by United Nations officials and delegates in an initiative organized by the New York authorities.

The Non-aligned Movement must continue to defend respect for sovereignty and the right to self-determination

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An article from Television de Venezuela (translation by CPNN)

“The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (MNOAL) must continue to strongly defend respect for sovereignty, the right to self-determination, international solidarity, as well as peace and the development of all peoples, including those who remain under the yoke of foreign domination and occupation, “said on Saturday the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), Maria Fernanda Espinosa.

In a video broadcast at the Ministerial Meeting of the MNOAL Coordination Bureau, which took place in the city of Caracas with the participation of 120 international delegations, she said that since its inception the Mnoal became and continues to be a strategic partner for the United Nations, by having almost 2/3 of the membership and 55% of the world population.

In this regard, she said that the participation of this body is essential to respond to the great challenges facing society: eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, protect the environment and ensure health, education and decent work for all people.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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She argued that both organizations agree on the objective of maintaining peace and preventing conflicts, promoting dialogue, cooperation and fair solutions.

She recognized the leadership of Venezuela in this instance for bringing together 120 member countries and applauded that the MNOAL has promoted the declaration of the International Day of Mutilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, which was commemorated for the first time on April 24 of this year in a plenary session. High Level of the General Assembly. “On that occasion, with your support and leadership, we achieved a clear message in defense of an international system based on the rule of law.”

In addition Espinosa remarked that we live in a critical moment faced with the danger of resurgent extreme nationalisms, narratives of confrontation and threats of the use of force or the imposition of unilateral coercive measures contrary to international law. These contradict the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and undermine the dignity of peoples.

The President of the 73rd Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, described multilateralism and international law as the only formula to achieve a true and sustainable peace.

She said that next September 13, she will convene a High Level meeting on the Culture of Peace, on the occasion of the 20 years of the emblematic declaration and Action Program on the Culture of Peace.

She will continue to advocate a culture of peace and respectful dialogue among nations.

‘Young people care about peace’: UN Youth Envoy delivers key message to Security Council

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An article from the United Nations Press Service

After visiting refugee camps in Jordan, UN-backed schools in Gaza, municipalities in Kosovo and Youth Councils in Denmark, the UN’s Youth Envoy visited the Security Council on Wednesday [July 17] with a simple message from the field that “young people care about peace”.

However, Jayathma Wickramanayake made clear that “young women and men still suffer from stereotypes, myths and policy panics that harm their agency and affect realizing their full potential for peace”. 

She blamed the susceptibility to being labelled on a “small minority” of young people attracted to extremism and “fueled” by the victimization of youth, “especially young women.”

The principal consequence of framing young people as “a problem to be solved and a threat to be contained”, according to Ms. Wickramanayake, is that it contributes to their “marginalization and stigmatization”. 

Moreover, she flagged that it “detrimentally skews youth, peace and security programmatic responses towards hard security approaches and away from prevention”, while ignoring the fact that “most young people are in fact not involved in violence”. 

Youth, peace and security

The Council first addressed youth, peace and security in 2015 with an open debate on the “role of youth in countering violent extremism and promoting peace”. That led to the adoption of resolution 2250, which, among other things, urged Member States to provide young people with a conducive environment for violence-prevention activities and peacebuilding efforts. 

It also mandated an independent study on youth, peace and security that later served as the basis for resolution 2419, which recognizes the key role of young people in conflict prevention.
 
Ms. Wickramanayake cited these resolutions as important in today’s world of growing terrorism, organized crime and extremist violence, to “make sure that perspectives on youth are not distorted by contagious stereotypes that associate young people with violence”. 

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(Click here for a French version of this article.)

 

Question related to 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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The youth envoy also addressed the need to protect young peacebuilders whose activities put them in the spotlight. 

“In the past months I have noticed with grave concern, incidents of young peacebuilders and young human rights defenders being subjected to threats, intimidation, violence, arbitrary arrest and retaliation by State and non-State Actors”, she said.

“I would like to recall and remind all of us with great emphasis that ‘protection’ is an integral pillar of the resolution 2250”, she stressed, calling on governments to “uphold and protect the fundamental rights of young people, including their freedom of expression both online and offline”. 

She reminded the Council that the Youth, Peace and Security agenda is being recognized and institutionalized within the UN as “core” to the Organization’s priorities for young people, and that the UN Youth Strategy, Youth 2030, identifies peace and resilience building as “one of its five core priorities for the UN System’s work for and with young people”. 

“With this first-ever UN Youth Strategy, we have set out on a new path and will support young people in all their diversity in accessing education, decent work, social protection and their health, while we will stand with young people when they oppose injustice and will work with them to prevent conflict and build peace”, maintained Ms. Wickramanayake.  

Through this, “the UN System will promote an environment that recognizes young people’s important and positive contributions to peace and security, while creating safe spaces and expanding opportunities for young people”, she added. 

We Are Here

With a nod to the First International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes, which was held last March in Finland, the youth envoy officially launched the policy paper WE ARE HERE: An Integrated Approach to Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes.
“I hope this is the beginning of a process…for concrete actions to bring peace”, she said. 

Ms. Wickramanayake also announced that Qatar would host the second Symposium in 2020, focusing on young women’s participation in peace processes, which she hopes “will be a good opportunity to further explore the interlinkages between resolutions 2250 and 1325”.

Sustainable peace must be democratized “to include the communities most affected”, she said, arguing that “young people are our best chance in succeeding at that”. 

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Youth, Peace, Security Agenda Starting to Make Difference for Young People in Conflict Zones, But Much Work Remains, Advocates Tell Security Council

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An article from the United Nations Press Service

The Security Council’s youth, peace and security agenda is beginning to make a difference for young people in conflict zones and other vulnerable situations, but much work remains to effectively incorporate their voices, energy and ideas into efforts to build and sustain peace, youth advocates told the 15-member organ today.

Wevyn Muganda, Programme Director for HAKI Africa, a national human rights organization in Kenya, said that, if fully implemented, the youth, peace and security agenda can transform the lives of young people and societies.  She went on to describe her Sundays spent with young people in informal “chill spots”, known in Mombasa as maskani, where she connects with influencers and activists.  She added that her blog, “Beyond the Lines”, has helped to build an online community of peacebuilders and activists.  “[United Nations] Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) has secured me and my young peers a seat in the car,” she said, emphasizing that young people must be at the wheel to reach the desired destination.  She noted, however, that police have been accused of entering these spaces to harass and illegally arrest young people.

Sofia Ramyar, Executive Director of Afghans for Progressive Thinking, said that the bombing of her family’s home in 1995 and life as a refugee in Pakistan led her to work for peaceful coexistence in Afghanistan, with human rights for all.  “I want to assure you that the youth, peace and security agenda is preparing a generation of young women and men in Afghanistan that will lead our country towards peace, development and prosperity,” she said, while acknowledging that hierarchical relationships between men and women, as well as between elders and youth, remain dominant.  “This needs to change,” she stressed.

Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth, said “our effort to build and sustain peace needs to be democratized to include the communities most affected”, pointing out that young people provide the best chance for achieving that.  In an increasingly globalized world, Member States must keep going back to Security Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) to ensure that youth perspectives are not distorted by stereotypes that associate young people with violence, she emphasized.  With 408 million of the world’s 1.8 billion young people living in contexts affected by armed conflict, “we need to engage young people not only as beneficiaries, but as equal partners in all our efforts, especially our efforts to prevent conflict and build peace”, she added.

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Question related to 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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In the ensuing debate, Council members agreed on the importance of giving young people a bigger say in peace and security matters, with many underscoring the need to address root causes of conflict, combat terrorism and violent extremism, provide better education and dignified employment, promote the rights of women and girls, and address the challenges of climate change.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa, urged support for national Governments and regional organizations in implementing the youth, peace and security agenda at the national level.  With many young people living in fragile countries, especially in Africa, the African Union attaches great importance to youth inclusion, he said.  Several African countries are working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to support initiatives for reducing the radicalization of young people, he noted.

Kuwait’s representative said many young people in the Middle East face challenges to the attainment of their aspirations, with poverty depriving them of the right to dignity and terrorism hijacking their innocence.  He went on to highlight progress in implementing the youth, peace and security agenda in such places as Colombia, Iraq and Kosovo.

Indonesia’s representative declared:  “It is time that we transform our youth from a demographic dividend into a peace dividend,” emphasizing that the youth, peace and security agenda is not meant for Council members alone, but for all Member States.  He went on to cite his country’s experience in empowering young people to combat radicalization, including its adoption of legislation integrating youth empowerment into the national development plan.

The representative of the United States said the Council should hear directly from young people more often.  While diplomats spend a lot of time talking behind closed doors, the reality is that young people are driving and setting the political agenda, she noted.  “They are the change that is happening,” working to end tyranny and speaking up for human rights and accountability, she added.

Agreeing that the United Nations must pay greater attention to youth, the Russian Federation’s representative emphasized, however, that the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and their subsidiary bodies are better placed to address the subject.  Bringing it before the Council does not help the work of the Special Envoy on Youth, he said, warning also that some external players use radicalized youth to overthrow legitimate Governments.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Dominican Republic, France, Poland, Belgium and Peru.

(click here for the full text of their statements.)

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

8th Annual UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace

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by Anne Creter, GMCOP

The 20th anniversary of the landmark UN “Culture of Peace” Resolution passage is being observed at the UN on 13 September, at this year’s Eighth annual High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace in UN headquarters. The Global Movement for the Culture of Peace at the UN (GMCOP) is urging global citizens throughout the world to join us during this special observance — to amplify the importance of fully implementing this normative-setting Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace Resolution A/RES/53/243 – NOW — at this perilous time of worldwide existential violence.

The resolution’s evolutionary passage in the General Assembly by consensus on 13 September 1999 was a watershed moment in UN history for it set peacebuilding standards through its many actions in 8 domains, based on the science of nonviolence and peace studies, that when fully implemented will build the culture of peace.

The High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace seeks to strengthen the Culture of Peace global movement, bringing together citizen’s groups, international agencies and governments actively working to build the Culture of Peace. This year’s High Level Forum will be convened by Her Excellency President of the General Assembly Maria Fernandes Espinoza of Ecuador. Bearing in mind the broader dimension and potential impact of the Culture of Peace, the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly chose this year’s theme to be “The Culture of Peace: Empowering and Transforming Humanity.”

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What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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In addition to the day-long High Level Forum which is broadcast worldwide on the UN webcast – www.un.org/webcast/index.asp, a unique mind-body spirit Day -2 Culture of Peace event on Saturday, 14 September — On, By and For Youth — is being planned near the UN by Pathways for Peace. A universal meditation on the Culture of Peace is also in the works. GMCOP will provide details of these and other observances as they become available. So please stay “woke” and proactive if you want to participate.

Further, we invite you and / or your organization to align with these efforts around 13 September by creating and / or participating in events of your choosing within your community to demonstrate your commitment to the Culture of Peace. Suggested actions could be: mention Culture of Peace anniversary on your website front page, conduct a Culture of Peace workshop, initiate an educational Culture of Peace campaign, advocate with your government officials for Departments, Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace, citing the Culture of Peace resolution as the basis for them.

Pathways for Peace has set up a website dedicated to the Culture of Peace 20th anniversary that is designed to collect all the Culture of Peace actions taken around the world in observance of this milestone anniversary. A world map will be produced from the data showing the range and depth of Culture of Peace activities occurring globally. Civil society is encouraged to provide input to it at this link: www.internationaldayofpeace.org.

In conclusion, GMCOP at the UN is in the planning stages of putting together what we hope will be a fitting and memorable Culture of Peace 20th anniversary observance. Please become involved and join us. Peace is a group effort.

United Nations: More Unified, Early Action Key for Preventing Conflict, Reducing Human Suffering, Speakers Tell Security Council

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An article from the United Nations

The United Nations should explore greater use of conflict prevention and mediation tools enshrined in its founding Charter, speakers told the Security Council today [June 12], as it examined the Organization’s long-standing culture of spending billions of dollars on addressing crises after failing to contain them before they fester.

“When we act early, and are united, we can successfully prevent crises from escalating, saving lives and reducing suffering – fulfilling the most fundamental mandate of the United Nations, as set out in the Preamble to the Charter,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Along with successful constitutional transfers of power in Mali and Madagascar, the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the revitalized agreement in South Sudan have created a sense of renewed hope, he said.  Elsewhere, however, such as Yemen, Syria and Libya, serious challenges remain.  Governments must make full use of the broad range of conflict prevention and resolution tools set out in Chapter VI of the Charter and the Council should use its authority to call on parties to pursue them.

Citing examples of his good offices and those of his envoys to help parties peacefully resolve differences, he said members of his High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation have given discreet counsel to him and his representatives on various political processes.  Mediation advisers on the Standby Team have supported processes in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Papua New Guinea and Syria.  The United Nations has also deepened its strategic and operational partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, with a special focus on Africa.  However, prevention and mediation will not work without broader, more unified political efforts by all States.  “That is the only way to meet our responsibilities to the people we serve,” he emphasized.

Mr. Guterres’ predecessor, Ban Ki-Moon, who is now Deputy Chair of The Elders – a group founded by Nelson Mandela of independent global leaders that promotes peace, justice and human rights – warned that the risk of nuclear conflict is at its highest in decades.  Deeply concerned about the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, he said there is a very real risk that the global arms control and nuclear non-proliferation architecture is in danger of collapse through neglect, hubris and ill-founded threat analysis.  That issue goes to the heart of the Council, whose five permanent members are all nuclear armed States with a unique and heavy responsibility.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders, said the Council should be seen as an instrument of deliverance, a defender of rights and a provider of protection.  “But too often over the decades the Council – and, particularly, its five permanent members – has failed to live up to its responsibilities and has favoured realpolitik or short-term power stratagems rather than meeting the solemn commitments outlined in the United Nations Charter,” she said.  Moreover, insufficient attention has been paid to the role and voice of women on the ground in preventing conflict.

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What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and Council President for June, speaking in his national capacity, said conflicts today are increasingly complex and intertwined, but they could have been prevented through effective use of such Council tools as Chapter VI, which reaffirms the Council’s preventative role, and Chapter VIII, which encourages the peaceful resolution of local conflicts through regional mechanisms, as well as Article 99 which refers to the Secretary-General’s good offices.  Mediation can save a lot of trouble, sorrow and pain, as well as the billions of dollars spent on peacekeeping operations and humanitarian action.

The representative of the United States, supporting that view, said mediation is an “underappreciated tool” that can save billions of dollars and many lives.  More women should participate, he said, pointing to a study that showed peace agreements are 35 per cent more likely to last for 15 years when women are involved. His own country has been a leader in mediation efforts, he said, citing successes in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Indonesia’s delegate said the Organization should focus on helping national and regional efforts to peacefully settle disputes, noting that his country and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have relied fundamentally on dialogue and consultation.  Regional entities enjoy unique bonds of history and knowledge, he said, adding that “neighbours know best” and urging the Council to engage such entities from the earliest signs of potential conflict.  Greater funding and more reliable support from the United Nations regular budget should underpin prevention and mediation efforts.

France’s delegate said that greater investment is also needed in post-conflict peacebuilding, including reconciliation, transitional justice and reconstruction to prevent conflict from reoccurring.

The speaker for the Russian Federation warned that conflict prevention is not a panacea and should not be used as a shield for interfering in States’ internal affairs.  The situations in Iraq, Libya and Syria are examples of the consequences of shameless outside intervention, he said, adding that the most successful mediation in Venezuela is being conducted by States that are not taking sides there.  United Nations mediators should be selected on the basis of objective criteria and with respect for regional balance, he stressed.

Also speaking today were representatives of China, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Germany, South Africa, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, Poland, Côte d’Ivoire and Belgium.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Bolivia to Foster a Culture of Peace at UN

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An article from Prensa Latina

 Bolivia will be Chair of the First Commission of Disarmament and International Security of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly with the responsibility of building a culture of peace at an international level, the newspaper Cambio pointed out on Monday [June 10].

Bolivia’s permanent representative to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, referred in an interview with Cambio newspaper to the tasks and missions with which he will start his administration.

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What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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TAs he explained, the UNA’s First Committee’s mission starts in September. It has been scheduled for just one year, where Bolivia will argue for building a culture of peace, respectful of human rights and Mother Earth, for cordial resolution of disputes and in defense of multilateralism, international law, as well as principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

Cessation of the arms race in terms of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and preventing such a war are among teh main issues stressed by Llorenti during his term of office..

We will be also working on the implementation of arrangements in relation to conventional weapons, regional disarmament agreements and other measures to guarantee the United Nations fulfills its role in terms of disarmament and international security, he added.

It is about the first time in the history of the UN that Bolivia takes on the chair of the First Committee. In this regard, the Bolivian ambassador highlighted the leadership of President Evo Morales and export models in terms of economic growth, poverty reduction, inequality, recovery of natural resources, fight drug trafficking and peaceful resolution of disputes.

He also harped on that Bolivia is nowadays enjoying an independent and sovereign diplomacy, which along with aforesaid elements allow it to reach leading roles on the international stage, he said.

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.

Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny – UNESCO Peace Prize

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An article from UNESCO

Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is named as laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for his actions in the region and, in particular, for having been the instigator of a peace agreement between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The jury also recognizes the laureate’s worthiness for the reforms undertaken to consolidate democracy and social cohesion. Finally, the jury considers this distinction as an encouragement to pursue his commitment to the promotion of a culture of peace in the region and across the African continent.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of the article or here for a version in French.)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

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The Jury met on 29 April at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to designate the laureate of the 2019 edition of the prize, which will mark the 30th anniversary of its inception.

The jury was composed of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate (2011), Mr François Hollande, Former President of France, Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan – UNESCO Special Envoy for science for peace, Mr Michel Camdessus (France) – Former Director General of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Professor Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh), founder of Grameen Bank – Nobel Peace Laureate (2006) and Mr. Forest Whitaker (United States of America), founder of the Peace and Development Initiative.

In 1989, in order to pay tribute to President Félix Houphouet-Boigny’s action for peace in the world, 120 countries sponsored a resolution unanimously adopted by UNESCO’s Member States to establish the  Félix Houphouët-Boigny Prize – UNESCO Peace Prize. The Prize is intended to honor living individuals and active public or private institutions or bodies that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on an official visit to Ethiopia on 2 and 3 May on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, will meet with the Prime Minister and convey her warm congratulations.

Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace  Gabon : The work begins

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An article from Gabon Review

Weeks after its election and the official presentation of the new officers to the Resident Representative of Unesco, the National Co-ordination of the Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace (PAYNCoP Gabon) unveiled its roadmap. The different actions to be carried out over the next two years are listed there.


Photo © PAYNCoP Gabon

Chaired by Vincenzo Fazzino, Resident Representative of Unesco, a meeting was held on April 24 in Libreville between the new PAYNCoP Gabon team and the UN system leaders in the country. Its purpose was to present the latter with the recent road map developed by the pan-African organization coordinated by Jerry Bibang, in order to “gather the opinions and orientations” of the various actors in the field. For PAYNCoP Gabon, it was also a question of reinforcing the partnership with the UN system in Gabon and to allow a better collaboration, especially in the promotion of the culture of peace and non-violence.

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( Click here for the French original..)

 

Question related to this article.

Will UNESCO once again play a role in the culture of peace?

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

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According to the national coordination of PAYNCop Gabon, the roadmap presented to the heads of the United Nations system is an “action plan [which] provides for four strategic axes, including the popularization of PAYNCoP, the promotion of a culture of peace, the appropriation of Resolution 2250 (youth, peace and security) and the transformation of PAYNCoP into a social enterprise “.

“Recognizing that the promotion of the culture of peace is also about the fight against unemployment and the economic empowerment of young people, our fourth axis has the specific objectives of training young people in social entrepreneurship and the implementation of projects. community development. Also, we are planning the creation of income generating activities to effectively encourage the financial independence of young people, “says the organization.

For the implementation of this roadmap, the National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon has called for the intervention of professionals from various sectors of activity, such as education, higher education, communication, communication and communication. culture and politics. “Everyone has a role to play in this challenge,” said Jerry Bibang, not without remembering that the roadmap presented by the office in his charge “is part of the logical continuation of the work started by [its ] predecessors “. This, says the organization, “covers a period of two years (2019-2021) and takes into account the key issues of youth in peace and security at the national level.”

For PAYNCoP Gabon, “peace is not limited to the absence of war [but] involves other things as well, including social justice, respect for human rights, democracy, fight against poverty, etc.”