All posts by CPNN Coordinator

About CPNN Coordinator

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

In memoriam: Walid Slaïby, co-founder Academic University College for Non-Violence & Human Rights (Lebanon)


An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education (translated by The Global Campaign for Peace Education from the original French version by Anne-Marie El-HAGE in L’Orient Le Jour , May 8, 2023)

He was one of those followers of non-violence who made Lebanese society and the Arab world better. A thought that he developed during the civil war, in the same way as secularism, in reaction to the destructive consequences of the Lebanese intercommunity conflict on the social fabric. Walid Slaïby is no more. He died on Wednesday, May 3 at the age of 68, overcome by a cancer that had been eating away at him for more than 20 years. His name, inseparable from that of his companion in life and struggle, the sociologist Ogarit Younan, will forever be linked to activism for the right to life within the framework of the fight for the abolition of the death penalty. Civil rights will also be at the heart of his fight for a Lebanese personal status law. Along with workers’ rights and social justice, from the early 1980s.

Walid Slaïby, follower of non-violence and death penalty abolitionist, died on May 3 at the age of 68. (Photo courtesy of Aunohr Media Services)
(Click on photo to enlarge)

An immense legacy

From his commitment to the service of Lebanon, he will leave an immense legacy. A multitude of books, publications, translations, bills, associations, tangible progress on the ground, always with Ogarit Younan. With the crowning achievement in 2015 of the Academic University College for Non-Violence & Human Rights (Aunohr), an educational institution dedicated to non-violence that continues to train generations of students, activists, trade unionists ready to take over. This course will see the duo rewarded several times, in particular by the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic in 2005, the Fondation Chirac Prize in 2019 and the Gandhi Prize for Peace awarded in 2022 by the Indian foundation Jamnalal Bajaj, named after the disciple of Mahatma Gandhi.

It is in his fight against the death penalty that Walid Slaïby initiated the most tangible progress. “He was a silent soldier against capital punishment. But his work was very important,” says Wadih Asmar, president of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH). After federating several associations around the National Campaign for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, the activist rallied part of the political and judicial class to the cause, during shock events that were highly publicized. In 1998, when two burglars, one of whom had committed a double murder, were hanged in Tabarja in the public square, he openly proclaimed during a nocturnal sit-in “mourning for the victims of the crime and for those of capital punishment “. As a result, the last executions date back to 2004 in Lebanon, even if justice continues to pronounce the death sentence. “Lebanon is now classified as a de facto abolitionist country. In 2020, for the first time in its history, it spoke out for a moratorium at the UN General Assembly, alongside 122 other states. A position recently reiterated”, welcomes former minister Ibrahim Najjar, a committed abolitionist. The lawyer did not personally know the deceased, but he said he was “respectful and admiring of the courage of Walid Slaïby and his companion Ogarit Younan, who behaved as convinced abolitionists”. “Because the fight is not easy. It is so easy to confuse revenge with capital punishment,” he points out. for the first time in its history, it came out in favor of a moratorium at the UN General Assembly, alongside 122 other states. 

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Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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A position recently reiterated”, welcomes former minister Ibrahim Najjar, a committed abolitionist. The lawyer did not personally know the deceased, but he said he was “respectful and admiring of the courage of Walid Slaïby and his companion Ogarit Younan, who behaved as convinced abolitionists”. “Because the fight is not easy. It is so easy to confuse revenge with capital punishment,” he points out. for the first time in its history, it came out in favor of a moratorium at the UN General Assembly, alongside 122 other states. A position recently reiterated”, welcomes former minister Ibrahim Najjar, a committed abolitionist. The lawyer did not personally know the deceased, but he said he was “respectful and admiring of the courage of Walid Slaïby and his companion Ogarit Younan, who behaved as convinced abolitionists”. “Because the fight is not easy. It is so easy to confuse revenge with capital punishment,” he points out. but he says he is “respectful and admiring of the courage of Walid Slaïby and his companion Ogarit Younan, who behaved as convinced abolitionists”. “Because the fight is not easy. It is so easy to confuse revenge with capital punishment,” he points out. but he says he is “respectful and admiring of the courage of Walid Slaïby and his companion Ogarit Younan, who behaved as convinced abolitionists”. “Because the fight is not easy. It is so easy to confuse revenge with capital punishment,” he points out.

For a Lebanese Personal Status Law

The personality of Walid Slaïby is no stranger to his great popularity. “Walid was a man of dialogue, attentive to his friends. It is through debate and acceptance of the other that he succeeded in laying the foundations of the culture of human rights in Lebanon, and in particular of non-violence”, affirms Ziad Abdel Samad, friend of the couple, engineer and teacher in political science. “Despite the divisions of Lebanese society, he managed to go beyond the militias and the borders to lead an avant-garde struggle and achieve remarkable progress”, he observes, referring to the efforts of the deceased to raise awareness among young people and bring closer Lebanese of different faiths and backgrounds. It is also in the institutionalization of the fight that Walid Slaïby drew his strength. “When I met him in the early nineties, he organized human rights training against religious discrimination, remembers activist Rima Ibrahim. Despite his illness, he never stopped dreaming of changing Lebanese society, to the point of institutionalizing the fight.

Several associations were then created, linked to the Lebanese Association for Civil Rights (LACR), notably Chamel and Bilad. In 2011, the militant couple launched their campaign to demand a Lebanese law on personal status which advocates, among other things, civil marriage. In Lebanon, family laws are governed by religious communities. They discourage inter-religious unions and discriminate against women. “For the occasion, we organized a sit-in and set up a tent for 10 months, place Riad el-Solh, in downtown Beirut. We have also prepared a bill,” recalls Rafic Zakharia, lawyer, teacher and member of the association. Signed by MP Marwan Farès, the text is presented to Parliament and transferred to the joint commissions. “The law has not been adopted. But our mobilization has never weakened”, assures the activist, whose “life has changed” since he met Walid Slaïby. “Non-violent thinking has become a way of life for me, not just a fight,” observes this death penalty specialist.

The happiness of having given hope to the Lebanese

The militant, the thinker, the humanist endowed with superior intelligence and a good dose of humor left with modesty and elegance, as he has always lived. “Walid Slaïby was both a great humanist and a man of science. Very solid in his convictions, he was flexible when it came to discussing. Never giving lessons, he was not a man to show off, but on the contrary was very discreet, ”describes the lawyer and former minister Ziyad Baroud, member of the board of directors of Aunhor, who knows him. for over 25 years. Multi-graduate, the disappeared was indeed a civil engineer (ESIB), a graduate in physics (UL) and in economics (AUB). Studies he completed with a DEA in social sciences (UL),

He will be missed by human rights defenders, starting with abolitionists around the world who pay tribute to him and his companion. “It was a star of light and reason in a world of shadow and madness”, sums up Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, director general of the international association ECPM (Together against the death penalty). “With Ogarit, they formed this incredible duo who have devoted their lives for more than 40 years for a modern Lebanon”, he continues, congratulating himself on having had “the chance to send him love before his death of the abolitionist community around the world. Walid Slaïby will especially be missed by his alter ego, his soul mate, Ogarit Younan, with whom he was to celebrate 40 years of love and activism. “We were expecting the weather to improve a bit. We wanted a nice party. We didn’t think he was so close to death. He loved life so much. He had so much humor,” she regrets sadly. And if the disease occupied a good half of their life together, he will at least have had “the happiness of serving his country and giving hope to the Lebanese”. “Lebanon must be happy, we have served it, consoles Ogarit Younan. But if Walid had not fallen ill, without a doubt, Lebanon would have been different…”

A united civil society push for Spain to join the TPNW


An article from The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Forty-five civil society organisations in Spain have come together to form a coalition with a single mission: to persuade the Spanish government to adhere to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The Alianza por el Desarme Nuclear  (Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament), which has the backing of ICAN, was launched in Madrid on 23 May. It will work to raise public awareness of the treaty’s importance and lobby decision-makers to endorse it.

Speaking at the launch event, the alliance’s coordinator, Maribel Hernández, urged the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, to “take a courageous step forward” and sign the TPNW “as a symbol of our country’s commitment to peace”. She stressed the danger of “normalising the existence of nuclear weapons” and promoting a security model based on the possession of such weapons. As a NATO member, Spain has repeatedly endorsed the notion that US nuclear weapons offer it “protection” and could, in certain circumstances, be used on its behalf.

Carlos Umaña, a co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War  and member of ICAN’s international steering group, recalled that Sánchez committed in 2018 to sign the TPNW, but this promise “remains unfulfilled”. It was part of a deal  struck with the leader of the Podemos political party, Pablo Iglesias. Umaña also noted that a majority of Spaniards – 89 per cent, according to a YouGov poll  in 2020 – want the government to sign the TPNW. “We are at the most worrying moment in history in terms of the risk of a possible large-scale nuclear war from which there would be no going back,” he warned.

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Question related to this article:
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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A broad coalition of organisations

The Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament comprises  a diverse range of organisations and other entities working in the fields of peace and disarmament, human rights, the environment, and social justice, including Centre Delás d’Estudis per la Pau, the Spanish section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, AIPAZ (Spanish Association for Peace Research), FundiPau, Fundación Cultura de Paz, Greenpeace, Desarma Madrid, Ecologistas en Acción, General Commission for Justice and Peace, Mayors for Peace, Gernika Gogoratuz, Women in Black Madrid, Pressenza and MOC (Movement for Conscientious Objection). Since its launch, many more groups and individuals have expressed an interest in joining the alliance.

The groups are asking local municipalities  and regional parliaments to appeal to the Spanish government to join the TPNW. Barcelona and dozens of other cities and towns have already pledged their support, as has the autonomous community of Navarre. Pending Spain’s accession to the TPNW, the alliance believes that the government should observe the official meetings of states parties to the treaty, held roughly every two years. The NATO members Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway observed the first  such meeting, held in Vienna last June. The second meeting will take place in New York this November.

Spain and the TPNW

The TPNW was negotiated at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and adopted with the support of 122 states. Spain opted not to participate in the process and has not yet taken any steps towards becoming a state party. Ahead of the treaty’s adoption, the foreign affairs committee of the Spanish congress of deputies passed a resolution  calling on the government to support the approval of the new treaty – but it was not heeded. In 2020, the same committee welcomed  the TPNW “as an effort to move towards peace, security, and disarmament”.

Three former Spanish foreign ministers – Ana Palacio, Javier Solana, and Carlos Westendorp – signed an open letter  in 2020 with dignitaries from other NATO states and Japan calling on current leaders to “show courage and boldness – and join the [TPNW]”. Solana is also a former NATO secretary-general. They noted in their letter that the TPNW does not prevent its parties from remaining in alliances with nuclear-armed states, such as NATO, “but we would be legally bound never under any circumstances to assist or encourage our allies to use, threaten to use, or possess nuclear weapons”.

Uk: A Win for Peace: UCU Opposes the War in Ukraine


An article from Stop the War Coalition

Stop the War Coalition congratulates delegates at the University and College Union who voted through a resolution at their congress this weekend calling for peace in Ukraine. The resolution condemns the Russian invasion and points out that NATO’s escalation in response has turned Ukraine into a battleground between the great powers. It is the Ukrainian people who are the main victims.

(Editor’s note: The University and College Union (UCU) is a British trade union in further and higher education representing over 120,000 academics and support staff.)

The success of the resolution has sparked a debate within the union which we welcome as there is so little discussion allowed in this country on the war in Ukraine. We condemn attacks on the union by pro-war figures and the use of UCU social media accounts to criticise the vote. The democracy of the trade union movement should be defended by all.

Trade unions have a long history of opposing government involvement in foreign wars and campaigning against militarisation and increased arms spending. This tradition is especially important in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

We urge trade unionists across the movement to put similar resolutions to their branches. We are happy to provide speakers for any meeting.

The resolution passed at the UCU is as follows:

Stop the War in Ukraine – Peace Now. City and Islington College Camden Road, University of Brighton, Grand Parade

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Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Continued from left column).

Congress notes:

1. One year after the brutal invasion, Ukraine has become a battleground for Russian and US imperialism.

2. It is estimated that 150,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians and 200,000 Russian soldiers have died since invasion.

3. Putin has threatened the use of nuclear weapons and unleashed war crimes.

4. The 2022 NATO summit committed to a US military base in Poland, a brigade in Romania, air missile systems in Italy and Germany and two additional F-35 squadrons in Britain.

5. Volodymyr Zelensky says he wants Ukraine to become a “big Israel”—an armed, illiberal outpost of US imperialism.

Congress believes:

a. Wars are fought by the poor and unemployed of one country killing and maiming the poor and unemployed of another.

b. We should say, “Russian troops out, no to NATO escalation and expansion.”

c. We should stand in solidarity with ordinary Ukrainians and demand an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.

d. NATO is not a progressive force: escalation risks widening war in the region.

e. Only through a peaceful resolution can lives be saved.


i. UCU to call upon Russian to withdraw its troops and for government to stop arming Ukraine.

ii. UCU to call for a peaceful resolution to the war.

iii. Congress resolves to support protests called by Stop The War, CND and other anti-war organisations.

English bulletin June 1, 2023


To begin the year 2023, we said that one bright spot for the preceding year was the advance of the culture of peace in Latin America and Africa.

Now, as we enter the second half of 2023, we see that this continues; the culture of peace continues to advance on these continents (see discussion : “Latin America, has it taken the lead in the struggle for a culture of peace?”).

We begin on the highest level, the meeting of the G7 countries. While the countries of Europe, North America and Japan continue to promote the culture of war, it was the newly-elected President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who addressed the meeting with a message of the culture of peace. It was Lula a few months earlier, who refused the demands of the United States to contribute to the war in Ukraine, saying that “Brazil Is a Country of Peace.

Not just words, but actions for a culture of peace mark the first few months of the new administration in Brazil.

With the potential for a major change on the global level, the first event of President Lula da Silva’s visit to China in April was the official swearing-in ceremony of Dilma Rousseff as president of the New Development Bank. The bank is seen as an alternative to the financial hegemony of Washington and Brussels, since it may finance development projects in local currencies instead of dollars. Rousseff, is also a former President of Brazil.

In a meeting with representatives of indigenous peoples, President Lula signed decrees demarcating six new territories for indigenous peoples, the first since 2018 and one of them in a vast territory in the Amazon.

Following a massacre of children at a day care center, the Minister of Justice announced a major national mobilization in favor of a culture of peace, including an inter-ministerial working group to prevent and confront violence in schools.

Along with Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Peru, Brazil has signed on to a “Declaration for a Culture of Peace and Democracy and for Combating Expressions and Hate Speech” that will lead to a guidelines to be used internally by the signatory countries. 

Elsewhere in Latin America, Mexico and Colombia continue to promote a culture of peace.

In Mexico, the city of León will host the First Ibero-American Meeting of Voices for Peace and the First Ibero-American Meeting of Journalism for Peace, to take place from June 1 to 3. The General Coordinator of State Social Communications stressed that Guanajuato will become the epicenter of the culture of peace in Mexico and Latin America (see discussion: “Is there progress towards a culture of peace in Mexico?”)

In Colombia, nine months into new efforts by Colombia’s administration to achieve “total peace” with remaining armed groups following decades of civil war, a network of 140 civic and community organizations is working to end violence. Quoting an activist from this network: “To advance peace, the government will need broad support from both Colombia’s grass roots and its international partners. A top priority in coming months needs to be a national process of dialogues among Colombia’s thousands of community-level civil society organizations.” (See discussion: “What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?”)

Meanwhile, in Africa, it is the women who are taking the leadership for a culture of peace. (See discussion:”Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?”)

In Kenya, women from Turkana, West Pokot and Marakwet communities have kicked-off talks with their Ethiopian and Ugandan counterparts to take leading roles in the restoration of peace in the North.

In Abuja, the African First Ladies Peace Mission was addressed by Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, who emphasised the significance of women’s role in conflict resolution: “As women leaders and mothers, our role in peace and security is to continue to say no to the culture and structures of violence.”

And in Luanda, the Angolan vice-president, Esperança da Costa, opened the 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, to reaffirm and strengthen political commitment to action on gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and their human rights, ensuring high-level engagement. The forum is part of the Luanda Biennial – Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, which is a joint initiative between the Government of Angola, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO) and the African Union (AU) (see discussion, “The Luanda Biennale: What is its contribution to a culture of peace in Africa?”)

While most of these initiatives are initiated and supported by the national governments of Latin America and Africa, in the long run, the most important is the development of grass-roots and civil society, as described above for Colombia and Kenya. This is especially true for Brazil as described in a recent blog from the CPNN representative in that country. As expressed in the Constitution of UNESCO: “a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and . . . peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.”


Brazil President Lula’s speech to the G7


Brazil signs in Buenos Aires declaration to combat hate speech on the internet


United Nations: Guterres urges countries to recommit to achieving SDGs by 2030 deadline


Zone of Peace, Trust and Cooperation of Central Asia



Angola Debates The Women’s Role In Building Peace And Democracy


World Movement of Poetry: for the Culture of Peace


The Washington Consensus Supporting Sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela Is Breaking


Mayors for Culture of Peace

Peace by Peaceful Means: International Summit for Peace in Ukraine


An announcement from Peace in Ukraine

We are calling for an international civil society gathering in Vienna, Austria on June 10/11*

The goal of the Peace Summit is to publish an Urgent Global Appeal, called the Vienna Declaration for Peace, calling on political leaders to act in support of a ceasefire and  negotiations in Ukraine.

Inviting Organizations: International Peace Bureau, CODEPINK, Assembly of the World  Social Forum, Transform Europe, IPPNW (D,AT,CH) (tbc), Europe4Peace, WILPF  International (tbc), International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace in Ukraine coalition

Local Organizers and Supporters: AbFaNG (Action Alliance for Peace, active Neutrality  and Non-violence), Institute for Intercultural Research and Cooperation (IIRC), Austrian  Center for Peace (ACP) in Stadtschlaining, Herbert C. Kelman Institute for Interactive  Conflict Transformation, ÖGB – Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, WILPF Austria (tbc), Internationaler Versöhnungsbund – österreichischer Zweig

The summit will have different parts:

A conference to discuss the controversial questions related to the Russian-Ukrainian war, to hear the voices of civil society representatives of the various NATO countries, as well as  representatives from Russia and Ukraine who support the aims of the Peace Summit.  Participants from the Global South will share the dramatic consequences this war has had  for the people in their countries and emphasize how they can contribute to peace. The  Conference will focus not only on critics and analysis, but also on creative solutions and  ways to end the war and how to prepare negotiations. This is not only the task of states and  diplomats but nowadays more and more also of global society.

The conference will include a combination of lectures, working groups, expert groups, and  dialogues.

After the summit a march in Vienna to the various NATO-country embassies, as well as  the embassies of Russia and Ukraine and international organizations located in Vienna will  take place to meet with embassy representatives and deliver the Vienna Declaration for  Peace from people around the world;

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Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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The summit will also be supported by a send-off for delegations to visit the capitals of  various European countries with the purpose of meeting with government officials and  international organizations. Also further events for late 2023 will be developed.

*The 9th of June is the 180th Birthday of the Austrian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bertha von Suttner, the first female Nobel Peace Prize laureate ever.

A call for peace 

We condemn the illegal Russian invasion in Ukraine. The war has caused death and injuries  of civilians and soldiers and created untold suffering for the Ukrainian people, destroying the  country’s environment and infrastructure, causing rising food and energy prices around the  world, exacerbating poverty and hunger – especially in the global South – and threatening the  entire world with a nuclear war.

It is time for the weapons to fall silent and for diplomacy to begin to resolve the conflict. We  must counter the logic of war with the logic of peace.

Let us gather to discuss the state and the wider context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the  positions of our various governments, the efforts, obstacles, and opportunities of the various  peace movements and most importantly, how we can work more effectively to promote a  ceasefire and negotiations, and peaceful solutions as the alternative to war.

Peace is not only the task of states and diplomats but nowadays more and more also of the  global civil society. What is urgently needed now is a global movement demanding that all  parties stop fighting and start talking. The international support garnered by the International  Peace Bureau’s Christmas ceasefire appeal, the appeals at the UN General Assembly and by  many governments, even comments from some political leaders of Russia and Ukraine show  that a window of opportunity may be opening.

Why Vienna? 

Austria is a neutral country. It is a “UN City” and the home to the Secretariat of the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which had been monitoring the  situation in the Donbas since the signing of the Minsk II agreement.

Join the Peace Summit! 

It is the responsibility of peace movements all around the world and of all peace-loving  peoples to strengthen these efforts. The Vienna Summit for Peace in Ukraine can be a  powerful sign of hope and a catalyst for more and stronger peace actions globally. The future of humanity hangs in the balance; we must seize the moment before it’s too late.

Contact: International Peace Bureau, Marienstraße 19-20, 10117 Berlin,

There will be also an opportunity to join the conference virtually. RSVP for more details!


June 10, 2023 at 9:00am – June 11, 2023 (GMT+2)

United States: Workers Rising in the South


A blog from the United Steel Workers

Workers at Blue Bird Corp. in Fort Valley, Ga., launched a union drive to secure better wages, work-life balance and a voice on the job.

The company resisted them. History defied them. Geography worked against them.

But they stood together, believed in themselves and achieved an historic victory that’s reverberating throughout the South.

About 1,400 workers at the electric bus manufacturer voted overwhelmingly this month to join the United Steelworkers (USW), reflecting the rise of collective power in a part of the country where bosses and right-wing politicians long contrived to foil it.

“It’s just time for a change,” explained Rinardo Cooper, a member of USW Local 572 and a paper machine operator at Graphic Packaging in Macon, Ga.

Cooper, who assisted the workers at Blue Bird with their union drive, expects more Southerners to follow suit even if they face their own uphill battles.

Given the South’s pro-corporate environment, it’s no surprise that Georgia has one of the nation’s lowest union membership rates, 4.4 percent. North Carolina’s rate is even lower, 2.8 percent. And South Carolina’s is 1.7 percent.
Many corporations actually choose to locate in the South because the low union density enables them to pay poor wages, skimp on safety and perpetuate the system of oppression.

In a 2019 study, “The Double Standard at Work,” the AFL-CIO found that even European-based companies with good records in their home countries take advantage of workers they employ in America’s South.

They’ve “interfered with freedom of association, launched aggressive campaigns against employees’ organizing attempts and failed to bargain in good faith when workers choose union representation,” noted the report, citing, among other abuses, Volkswagen’s union-busting efforts at a Tennessee plant.

“They keep stuffing their pockets and paying pennies on the dollar,” Cooper said of companies cashing in at workers’ expense.

The consequences are dire.

States with low union membership have significantly higher poverty, according to a 2021 study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Riverside. Georgia’s 14 percent poverty rate, for example, is among the worst in the country.

However, the tide is turning as workers increasingly see union membership as a clear path forward, observed Cooper, who left his own job at Blue Bird several months ago because the grueling schedule left him little time to spend with family.

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Question related to this article:
Will trade unions increase democratic participation in governance?

The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

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Now, as a union paper worker, he not only makes higher wages than he did at Blue Bird but also benefits from safer working conditions and a voice on the job. And with the USW holding the company accountable, he’s free to take the vacation and other time off he earns.  

Cooper’s story helped to inspire the bus company workers’ quest for better lives. But they also resolved to fight for their fair share as Blue Bird increasingly leans on their knowledge, skills and dedication in coming years.

The company stands to land tens of millions in subsidies from President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other federal programs aimed at putting more electric vehicles on the roads, supercharging the manufacturing economy and supporting good jobs.

These goals are inextricably linked, as Biden made clear in a statement congratulating the bus company workers on their USW vote. “The fact is: The middle class built America,” he said. “And unions built the middle class.”

Worker power is spreading not only in manufacturing but across numerous industries in the South.

About 500 ramp agents, truck drivers and other workers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina just voted to form a union. Workers in Knoxville, Tenn., last year unionized the first Starbucks in the South.

And first responders in Virginia and utility workers in Georgia and Kentucky also formed unions in recent months, while workers at Lowe’s in Louisiana launched groundbreaking efforts to unionize the home-improvement giant.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to tell any worker at any manufacturing place here that the route you need to take is the union. That’s the only fairness you’re going to get,” declared Anthony Ploof, who helped to lead dozens of co-workers at Carfair into the USW earlier this year.

Workers at the Anniston, Ala., company make fiberglass-reinforced polymer components for vehicles, including hybrid and electric buses. Like all workers, they decided to unionize to gain a seat at the table and a means of holding their employer accountable.

Instead of fighting the union effort, as many companies do, Carfair remained neutral so the workers could exercise their will. In the end, 98 percent voted to join the USW, showing that workers overwhelmingly want unions when they’re free to choose without bullying, threats or retaliation.

“It didn’t take much here,” said Ploof, noting workers had little experience with unions but educated themselves about the benefits and quickly came to a consensus on joining the USW.

“It’s reaching out from Carfair,” he added, noting workers at other companies in the area have approached him to ask, “How is that working out? How do we organize?”

As his new union brothers and sisters at Blue Bird prepare to negotiate their first contract, Cooper hopes to get involved in other organizing drives, lift up more workers and continue changing the trajectory of the South.

“We just really need to keep putting the message out there, letting people know that there is a better way than what the employers are wanting you to believe,” he said.

(Thank you to Nation of Change for calling our attention to this article.)

Colombian Civic Leader Offers a Grassroots Strategy for Peace


An article from the United States Institute of Peace

Nine months into new efforts by Colombia’s administration to achieve “total peace” with remaining armed groups following decades of civil war, that process should make room for the nation’s thousands of grassroots and community organizations to strengthen peace locally when the fighting stops, says a prominent civic leader from one of the country’s most violent regions. Stabilizing Colombia, where migration toward the United States and other countries soared last year, will require steady support from U.S. and international partners, said Maria Eugenia Mosquera Riascos, who helps lead a Colombian network of 140 civic and community organizations working to end violence.

President Gustavo Petro vows to expand Colombia’s implementation of a six-year-old peace accord with what was the country’s largest rebel group, and his administration has begun pursuing accords with other armed groups. Yet “the government cannot make peace alone,” thus a major initiative is needed from civil society, Mosquera Riascos said in an interview. Mosquera Riascos traveled from her home in Colombia’s economically impoverished and violent Pacific coastal region to Washington this month; she met U.S. officials and peacebuilding practitioners focused on Latin America after having last year received USIP’s Women Building Peace Award.

Mosquera Riascos’ struggle for peace carries resonance well beyond Colombia’s borders. Helping Colombia achieve lasting peace is integral to reducing the mass migrations across Latin America that are fueled notably by violent conflicts, poverty, and environmental damage, and to shrinking drug trafficking that exploits Colombia’s instability. U.S. officials counted more than 125,000 Colombians among those stopped at the U.S. southern border in 2022, up from about 6,000 the prior year.

In 2016, “after the peace accord was signed” with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), “the world got the impression that Colombia was now at peace,” Mosquera Riascos said through an interpreter. “But we can’t speak about a ‘post-conflict’ Colombia because the conflicts continue.”

Implementation of the accord has lagged for years, she noted. Modest improvements in rural governance, plus development programs and land distribution to rural populations, were meant to stabilize impoverished rural communities by helping people, including former guerrillas, pursue nonviolent ways to earn adequate incomes. But those changes came slowly and were never fully resourced.

“After the [2016] accord, we expected that state institutions would come and fill the voids” of governance across the rural regions where FARC had ruled, Mosquera Riascos said. Instead, “many different armed groups have filled those voids,” fighting for territory and control over illicit commerce that FARC once ran. Land distribution has operated in reverse in areas where those with arms or money have seized holdings from small farmers. The battles for rural control have included a surge in deforestation, violence and impoverishment in Colombia’s Amazon and Pacific coastal regions.

Colombia’s Violence: A Grassroots View

Mosquera Riascos helps lead a network called Communities Building Peace in Colombia (or CONPAZCOL) from her home region on the Pacific coast. In rural areas, Colombia’s main armed groups — the National Liberation Army rebel group (or ELN), the paramilitary Gulf Clan (also known as Gaitanistas) and dissident factions of the former FARC — are fighting to control lucrative smuggling routes for cocaine or illicitly extracted minerals or other natural resources, Mosquera Riascos said.

In the region around her home city of Buenaventura, these armed groups “have locked down entire communities along the rivers — many of them Indigenous people — preventing them from going out to fish or farm.” The combatants have forced some communities to leave the region altogether, she said. Violence in Buenaventura includes urban gangs that seek to profit from cocaine or other contraband that can be smuggled through its seaport, one of Colombia’s busiest.

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Questions related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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The Pacific region is a center of Colombia’s Black population, descendants of the country’s former African slaves, and of the poverty that makes Colombia “one of the most unequal countries in the world,” according to the World Bank. Armed groups threaten or kill civilians, many of them Afro-Colombians, whose land or compliance they want, Mosquera Riascos said. Gunmen seize people “who simply disappear,” she said.

The new government of President Petro “offers a lot of hope that we can now make better progress” on peace, Mosquera Riascos said. A signal of that hope, she said, is that Vice President Francia Marquez is an environmental and human rights activist — and the first Afro-Colombian to hold such a senior office. Afro-Colombians heavily supported this government’s election last year, Mosquera Riascos noted. Along with the Pacific region they are receiving heightened attention that she hopes will extend to support for the efforts of grassroots peacebuilders.

Seeking Better Strategies for Peace

To advance peace, the government will need broad support from both Colombia’s grass roots and its international partners, Mosquera Riascos emphasized. A top priority in coming months needs to be a national process of dialogues among Colombia’s thousands of community-level civil society organizations, she said. Groups working to build peace, justice, rule of law, economic development and the rights of marginalized ethnic groups, women, LGBTQ communities and victims of the war’s violence all need “to unify and synergize our proposals for working with this government,” she said. “We need to be able to say to the administration, ‘we are the civil society, and this is our proposal to support your program and build a real peace.’ That can help make progress toward peace sustainable.”

Petro has promised to pursue a “total peace” by seeking negotiated agreements with armed groups nationwide. A recent government estimate counted four major organizations and 23 urban gangs with more than 17,600 members, including more than 7,000 active combatants. The Petro administration quickly opened peace talks with the largest remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Army, and offered a new year’s truce with the paramilitary Gulf Clan, which pursues drug trafficking and operates as the de facto government in swaths of Colombia. The government halted that truce after 11 weeks because of what it said were the group’s continued attacks on police.

Mosquera Riascos voices support for the government’s overarching goal but stresses that too broad or unfocused an effort risks failure. She seeks a calibrated strategy across Colombia’s widely varied landscape of conflicts, many of them localized. In Washington, she met nongovernment organizations and U.S. officials focused on Colombia, urging a strategy that focuses first on localities where the conditions are most ripe for progress, with state capacities reinforcing civil society and local peacebuilders — an approach she calls “comprehensive peace.”

Why put local peacebuilders at the fore in this process? Mosquera Riascos gave examples of how such activists can use their local roots to build the customized initiatives required to advance peace in their localities — and can do so at lower cost than outsiders. One such effort, the Casas de Madre, has built six community-based dialogue centers across the country that host representatives of disparate groups that are key to local peacemaking, and who otherwise have no safe and organized place to meet. Local dialogue projects are vital not simply to lay foundations for peace but also to offer hope of better options to youth who are readily recruited by combatant groups, Mosquera Riascos said.

USIP has similarly found over decades that community-level dialogues are cost-effective tools for building peace. A series of dialogues in areas of Colombia previously ruled by the FARC rebels helped strengthen governance in areas that faced rising insecurity and other challenges amid a relative power vacuum following the 2016 peace accord. Courageous, creative local civic and government leaders are pursuing such projects, which can reinforce the conditions for peace and strengthen the country’s social fabric and trust in government.

While Colombia requires leadership from its grass roots to stabilize from the longest civil war in the western hemisphere, that process will require broad, sustained support from the United States and other international partners, Mosquera Riascos said. For one thing, Colombia’s government already “cannot afford the [financial] costs of the commitments in the 2016 peace accord,” she noted.

President Petro’s reception in Washington last month, when he met President Joe Biden, “was extremely important to us,” Mosquera Riascos said, “and we need the strong diplomatic support for the peace program to continue.” The presidents “discussed the ways to build peace and also to protect the environment” — twin efforts that need to advance in tandem, she said.

International organizations should bolster their focus on human rights in Colombia, particularly on continued threats and assassinations targeting civic leaders like herself who stand up to armed groups and powerful interests. International recognition of frontline peacebuilders, such as the USIP award she received last year, provides an “umbrella” of protection for those at risk, Mosquera Riascos said, and facilitates financial and moral support for their work. Especially, she added, Colombia’s partners should sustain their support for the country’s energetic peacebuilding efforts by women. Women struggled for years to achieve an unprecedented level of recognition and influence in Colombia’s peacemaking that has made the process a model for other countries in conflict.

Angola Debates The Women’s Role In Building Peace And Democracy


An article from the African Media Agency

The Angolan vice-president, Esperança da Costa, will open this Thursday, May 25, the 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, in an event that will also involve, as speakers, like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (former President of the Republic of Liberia), Epsy Campbell Barr – former Vice President of Costa Rica (Member of the UNHCR Permanent Forum for People of African Descent) and Zahira Virani (Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System Nations in Angola).

Video of the event

The 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, which takes place over two days (May 25th and 26th, at the Hotel Intercontinental Miramar), is an event that focuses on women’s struggle for equality, emancipation, continental development for Peace and Democracy, part of the Luanda Biennial – Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, which is a joint initiative between the Government of Angola, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO) and the African Union (AU).

Operatively coordinated by the Minister of State for Social Action, Dalva Ringote Allen, the 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, which takes place under the theme “Technological Innovation and Education for the Achievement of Gender Equality” and with the motto “Innovation Technology as a Tool for Achieving Food Security Combating Drought on the African Continent”, aims to:

* Reaffirm and strengthen political commitment to action on gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and their human rights, ensuring high-level engagement,

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(Click here for information in Portuguese)

Question for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

The Luanda Biennale: What is its contribution to a culture of peace in Africa?

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* Foment discussion events through round tables, high-level interactive dialogues, to exchange experiences, lessons learned and good practices.
* Debate on the status of gender equality on the African continent, identifying goals and achievements achieved, and challenges to fill existing gaps

The 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy also has the following specific objectives:

* Identify areas of convergence within the national chapters of the Bienal de Luanda and expand the position of groups of young women leaders at national level,

* Establish regional, continental and international cooperation protocols,

* Propose concrete actions for the qualification of young women, promoting opportunities for access to the labor market.

In order to materialize these objectives, five thematic panels were programmed, globally, for the two days of work, namely “The challenges of globalization in the process of gender empowerment”, “Technological innovation and education to achieve gender equality” , “Formalization as a mechanism for social and financial inclusion”, “Challenges of food security and climate change on the African continent” and “The role of women in consolidating peace and preventing conflicts”.

The program of the 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy includes two master classes in the conference auditorium of the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, with the themes “Challenges of Food Security and Climate Change on the African Continent”, by Papa Abdoulaye Seck (former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment and Ambassador of Senegal to Italy) and “Financing for Development in Africa Calls for a Paradigm Change: The Driving Role of Domestic Resources”, by Cristina Isabel Lopes Duarte – Adviser to the Secretary General of UN for Africa.

The 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy is aimed at Women Leaders of African Regional Organizations, Women Leaders, Heads of Government and members of the PALOPS, CPLP and OEACP. International and National Organizations, Representatives of Diplomatic Missions, Representatives of public sector entities, Public and private companies and Private sector entities.

United States: Labor’s Uptick Isn’t Just Hype


An article by Eric Blanc in Labor Politics (reprinted by permission)

Is the current labor uptick just more hype than reality? Numerous articles have recently made this   case, pointing to the continued decline in union density in 2022. This skepticism also appears to be the prevailing view among most national union leaders. Though rarely stated publicly, labor’s continued routinism suggests that few people up top see our moment as particularly novel or urgent.

Fortune 500 Companies Targeted by Unionization, 2021-2022

But contrary to these skeptics, there is compelling data indicating that things really are changing — and, therefore, that unions should immediately make a major turn to new organizing.

Consider, for instance, the statewide 2018 educators’ strikes, which were largely begun over viral rank-and-file Facebook groups. These were the first US strike wave since the 1970s, impacting millions of students and involving hundreds of thousands of school workers. Strike activity in 2018 rose to its highest peak since the mid-1980s and it remained high in 2019 as the wave spread to blue cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. The qualitative shift was even more significant: unlike in the Reagan era, the red state revolt consisted of work stoppages that were mostly illegal, statewide in scope, offensive in their demands, and generally victorious in their outcomes. 

Union membership numbers present a grimmer picture.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 273,000 workers joined unions last year. Yet because total employment rose at a faster rate, union density fell from 10.3 to 10.1 percent from 2021 to 2022. Clearly, we are not currently in an upsurge analogous to the 1930s. As exciting as recent campaigns may be, we should be sober about their very real limitations. 

Dwelling only on the continued decline of union density, however, misses the forest for the trees. One of the reasons why recent worker-driven campaigns are so qualitatively important is that they have won union elections at some of the largest corporations in the world. Amazon’s 1.1 million employees, for example, constitutes the country’s second largest workforce and Starbucks’ workforce is the eighth largest. 

Winning elections at these types of firms is a major development that is not captured by membership rolls alone. National unions have for decades generally avoided pushing for union elections at such large companies, believing not unreasonably that they were simply too powerful to defeat — at least under our current, threadbare and barely-enforced, labor laws. As such, the vast majority of years since the Fortune 500 was established in 1955 have witnessed zero, or at most one, union drives at the non-union companies on the list. In contrast, 2021 saw three such drives and 2022 saw eight. 

Given labor’s overall risk-aversion, it is not surprising that a majority of those organizing efforts were instances of what I call DIY Unionism — strikes and union drives that are initiated by self-organized workers and/or in which workers take on key responsibilities traditionally reserved for union staff.

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Question related to this article:

Will trade unions increase democratic participation in governance?

The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

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Labor’s opponents are well aware of this increase in worker-to-worker organizing. In a 2022 report, the notorious union-busting firm Littler Mendelson sounded the alarm:
“There has been a shift in how people are organizing together to petition for representation. What was once a top-down approach, whereby the union would seek out a group of individuals, has flipped entirely. Now, individuals are banding together to form grassroots organizing movements where individual employees are the ones to invite the labor organization to assist them in their pursuit to be represented.”

To be sure, workers at Amazon, Starbucks, Apple, Google, and other mega-corporations are still a long way away from winning a first contract. That will likely take many years, more intervention from state actors, and greater resources from established unions towards boosting, and defending, new organizing. But it is a major historical development that unionizing the US private sector’s biggest players no longer seems like a distant fantasy. 

The fact that these recent drives have won elections against such economic heavyweights helps explain why news coverage of unions shot up in 2022 — as does the fact that media outlets have become one of labor’s most dynamic growth areas.

Increased publicity about David versus Goliath workplace organizing, and negative publicity about union busting, is bad news for corporate America. Stories of ordinary workers taking on billionaire CEOs tend to spur copycat attempts. And coverage of illegal (or morally reprehensible) union busting tarnishes company brands, while increasing pressure on elected officials to defend and enforce labor law. 

When it comes to fomenting today’s pro-union zeitgeist, the growth of pro-union sentiment over social media is no less significant. To cite just a few examples: Antiwork — a misleadingly named Reddit group focused on exposing bad working conditions and promoting unionization — shot up from 80,000 members in early 2020 to 2.3 million members by late 2022. The labor-focused media outlet More Perfect Union has received 150 million views on its YouTube and TikTok videos. And videos of Starbucks workers walking out in response to illegal firings now regularly go viral, racking up millions of views and exposing the hypocrisy of a nominally progressive corporation. Starbucks’ Vice President of Partner Resources thus recently admitted that she had to turn off social media because it “has been very disheartening. And yet perception is reality in some way shape or form.”

Media attention on its own will not turn things around for unions, but it is nevertheless critical for keeping up momentum and bringing “the labor question” back to the center of US politics. Millions of workers are finally beginning to see that non-union jobs can become union jobs — and that they personally could play a role in making that happen.

No less important, coverage of recent union drives among white-collar and (largely female) pink-collar care workers has undercut the still-common myth that unions are just for white men in hard industry. Multiple worker organizer interviewees explained to me that the first thing they had to do was disabuse themselves and their colleagues of the assumption, to quote a New York Times tech worker named Vicki, that “unions are just for coal miners or something — not for us.”

Google analytics allows us to measure the increase in search queries last year asking the question: “How do I form a union?” The following graph captures a surge in bottom-up unionization interest, particularly in the wake of the highly publicized union win at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse on Staten Island. Today’s active interest in unionization constitutes a major contextual difference from the 1990s and 2000s when labor’s halting turn to new organizing stumbled over the high staff resources required to spark workers to unionize.

Qualitative data also indicates that there has been an increase in individual workers directly reaching out to unions asking them to organize them — what unions usually call “hot shops.” To quote a cannabis industry worker turned Teamsters organizer in Illinois, “these workers are reaching out to us for help, so that’s unusual. It used to be we were seeking them out and now they’re coming to us. Our phones are ringing constantly with workers who want protection, higher wages, better benefits and accountability from these companies.” 

Put simply: despite the immense power of the forces arrayed against them, rank-and-file organizers today are continuing to take big risks to win power and democracy at work. Unions should follow their lead.

Brazil President Lula’s speech to the G7


A publication by the Government of Brazil

(Editor’s note; News media in the US and Europe headlined the decisions of the G7 countries (US, UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan) in their recent meeting in Hiroshima that supported Ukraine president Zelensky and that attacked the “economic coercion.” of China and Russia. They fail to mention the following alternative vision presented at the meeting by Brazilian President Lula.)

In the official photo, the President of Brazil was placed between the Presidents of the Comores and Vietnam, while the President of the United States was placed between the Presidents of Canada and France

Hiroshima is a propitious setting for a reflection on the catastrophic consequences of all types of conflict. This reflection is urgent and necessary. Today, the risk of nuclear war is at its highest level since the height of the Cold War.

In 1945, the UN was founded to prevent a new World War. However, the multilateral mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution no longer work.

The world is no longer the same. Traditional wars continue to break out, and we see worrying setbacks in the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which necessarily will have to include the dimension of disarmament.

Nuclear weapons are not a source of security, but an instrument of mass destruction that denies our own humanity and threatens the continuity of life on Earth.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, there will always be the possibility of their use.

For this reason, Brazil was actively engaged in the negotiations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which we hope to be able to ratify soon.

In line with the United Nations Charter, we strongly condemn the use of force as a means of dispute settlement. We condemn the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

At the same time, as fighting continues, the human suffering, loss of life and destruction of homes increase.

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Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

Latin America, has it taken the lead in the struggle for a culture of peace?

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I have repeated to exhaustion that it is necessary to talk about peace. No solution will last unless it is based on dialogue. We need to work to open room for negotiations.

At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the challenges to peace and security currently plaguing the world go far beyond Europe.

Israelis and Palestinians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, Kosovars and Serbs need peace. Yemenis, Syrians, Libyans and Sudanese all deserve to live in peace. These conflicts should receive the same degree of international attention.

In Haiti, we need to act quickly to alleviate the suffering of a population torn apart by tragedy. The scourge to which the Haitian people is subject is the result of decades of indifference to the country’s real needs. For years, Brazil has been saying that Haiti’s problem is not just one of security, but, above all, one of development.

The gap between these challenges and the global governance we have continues to grow. The lack of a reform of the Security Council is the unavoidable component of the problem.

The Council is more paralyzed than ever. Permanent members continue the long tradition of waging unauthorized wars, whether in pursuit of territorial expansion or in pursuit of regime change.

Even without being able to prevent or resolve conflicts through the Council, some countries insist on expanding its agenda more and more, bringing in new themes that should be dealt with in other bodies of the UN system.

The result is that today we have a Council that does not deal with the old problems, nor the current ones, much less the future ones.

Brazil has lived in peace with its neighbors for over 150 years. We made Latin America a region without nuclear weapons. We are also proud of having built, together with African neighbors, a zone of peace and nuclear non-proliferation in the South Atlantic.

We are witnessing the emergence of a multipolar order that, if well received and nurtured, can benefit all.

The multipolarity that Brazil seeks is based on the primacy of International Law and the promotion of multilateralism.

Re-enacting the Cold War would be foolish.

Dividing the world into East and West or North and South would be as anachronistic as it is innocuous.

It is necessary to break with the logic of exclusive alliances and false clashes of civilizations.

It is urgent to reinforce the idea that cooperation, respecting differences, is the right path to follow.

Thank you very much.