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.

Are there countries that promote a culture of peace?



A negative and pessimistic view is provided in the blog Democratic participation is advancing – from below:

It is not by accident that the progress in democratic participation is being made at the level of the city and not at the level of the nation state.

At the level of the nation state, there is no progress. Instead, we are going backwards. More and more the American model is being imposed at the level of the state: a two-party system with alternation of electoral victories for the two sides, both of which are controlled by “big money”, i.e. the capitalist class. This is accomplished by control of the mass media. Voters are given the “choice” of two capitalist alternatives and are forced to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” Electoral candidates at the national level spend millions of dollars and are usually millionaire capitalists themselves. A few exceptions are elected from time to time, but they have only a few votes against hundreds of others that simply represent the interests of the capitalist class.

But one should not be surprised at this. As I have shown in the History of the Culture of War, the nation-state has literally become the culture of war in the course of recent centuries. And it is the capitalist class that continues to profit from the culture of war. Socialism does not survive in the competition of nation-states, because it does not profit as much from the culture of war. We saw this most clearly in the case of the Soviet Union, but we see it today in countries like Cuba and Vietnam.

As a result, the budget of the modern state is largely devoted to preparation for war since military domination is necessary for the success of the capitalist class. Not surprisingly, since it heads up the American empire, the most extreme example is the United States where more than half of the national budget is devoted to the military expenditures, nuclear weapons and interest payments on previous military expenditures.

But perhaps there are exceptions to this negative picture.

This is the theme of the organization, Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace. See also Building Infrastructures for Peace.

Here are some CPNN articles and discussions that support a more positive view.

Discussion question: Does Costa Rica have a culture of peace?

Bangladesh: Dhaka to host World Peace Conference on Dec 4-5

Bangladesh: Dhaka to host World Peace Conference on Dec 4-5

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from the Dhaka Tribune

The government has fixed December 4 and 5 to hold the planned “World Peace Conference” as part of the ongoing celebration of birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen adressing the press in Dhaka on Thursday, May 20, 2021 Focus Bangla

“We have decided to hold the conference in the month of victory, and we are hopeful to make it in-person,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his residence on Monday.

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Question related to this article:
 
Are there countries that promote a culture of peace?

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He said that the “Bangabandhu Peace Award” would be introduced and conferred during the conference. Many countries introduce such awards after the name of their father of the nation, like Gandhi Peace Prize in India.

Momen also said Dhaka is not planning to invite any heads of states or governments to the conference, rather the government will gather the world-renowned peace activists, writers, poets, singers and global civil society figures to promote the culture of peace and tolerance.

A national committee headed by Speaker Shirin Sharmin Choudhury has already been formed to organize the peace conference successfully. The committee members sat for the first meeting on Monday.

At the conference, a special discussion would be held on the life of Bangabandhu as Bangladesh is now a model of peace following the path shown by its founding father, the minister said.

He added that Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is spreading the peace message across the world, which is the “culture of peace.”

Culture of Peace and the Luanda Biennale

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from UNESCO (translation by CPNN)

Brief history

Inspired by the Constitution of UNESCO, the definition of the concept of a culture of peace is the culmination of a long process of maturation initiated by the Yamoussoukro Declaration on peace in the minds of men developed at the Congress International on Peace in the Minds of Men, organized jointly in Yamoussoukro (Côte d’Ivoire), from June 26 to July 1, 1989, by the Ivorian Government and UNESCO.


© UNESCO

The reflection on the concept of a culture of peace was further developed at the first International Forum on a Culture of Peace, organized from February 16 to 18, 1994, in San Salvador (El Salvador). The San Salvador Forum defied the basic principles for the development and implementation of national programs for the culture of peace. Between 1993 and 1996, apart from the National Program for a Culture of Peace in El Salvador, national programs were in fact envisaged by the Organization in several countries: Mozambique, Burundi, Kenya, South Africa, Congo, Sudan , Somalia, Philippines, Bosnia, Haiti.

During this period, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted, at its 28th session, the promotion of a culture of peace as an essential guiding objective of the Organization’s Medium-Term Strategy for 1996- 2001. This decision of the General Conference resulted in the implementation of a transdisciplinary project “Towards a culture of peace.” It inspired the objective of the “United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education”, described in the General Assembly resolution 50/173 , in 1996. By this resolution , the concept of a culture of peace was put for the first time on the United Nations agenda.

According to the resolution 52/13 of January 15, 1998 of the UN General Assembly , the culture of peace consists “of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society,”

The United Nations General Assembly then proceeded, the same year, to the proclamation of the “International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Non-violence and of Peace for the Benefit of the Children of the World” (2001-2010) , the adoption in 1999 of the “Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace” and the celebration of the year 2000, the International Year for the Culture of Peace, under the direction of UNESCO.

Among the many activities marking the celebration of the international year for the culture of peace was the publication of the Manifesto 2000 It was the basis for a world campaign in favor of the culture of peace. According to this Manifesto, the culture of peace is a personal commitment to:

(i) “respect the life and dignity of every human being without discrimination or prejudice”;

(ii) “practise active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economic and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents”;

(iii) “share my time and material resources in a spirit of generosity to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression”;

(iv) “defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to listening and dialogue without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others”;

(v) “promote consumer bhaviour that is responsible and development practices that respect all forms of life and preserve the balance of nature on the planet”;

(vi) “contribute to the development of my community with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles in order to create together new forms of solidarity. ”

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

Question related to this article:

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

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Signed by nearly 76 million people worldwide, the Manifesto 2000 contributed to the creation of a “World Movement for a Culture of Peace” which had been called for in the “Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace.”

Thirteen years later, for the Africa region, the call for the creation of a “continental and sustainable movement for peace” was included in the “Action plan for a culture of peace in Africa / Agissons for peace “. This plan was adopted at the end of the Pan-African Forum “Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace” , organized jointly with the Angolan Government and the African Union, in Luanda, from March 26 to 28, 2013.

The objective of the forum in 2013 was “to rely on the sources of inspiration and on the potential of the continent’s cultural, natural and human resources to identify avenues and concrete actions to build a lasting peace as the cornerstone of endogenous development and pan-Africanism.” In this context, the decision was taken to create a Biennial of the culture of peace.

As a follow-up to the call for the creation of a “continental and sustainable movement for peace”, several networks of African and Diaspora civil society organizations were created under the aegis of UNESCO and the AU, with the support of a certain number of Member States,:

1. In September 2013: the “Network of Foundations and Research Institutions for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa.” ​​It now includes more than 50 organizations, including UNESCO Chairs. The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for Peace Research is in charge of the permanent secretariat of the network and its head office is therefore based in Côte d’Ivoire, more precisely in Yamoussoukro.

2. In December 2014: the “Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace.” It includes around 60 organizations, including National Youth Councils. The permanent secretariat of this network of young people is hosted by Gabon.

3. In June 2018 the idea of ​​creating a network of research organizations on women and the culture of peace in Africa and in the Diasporas was launched through the creation in Gabon of a national organization aptly named “Pan-African Women’s Network for the Culture of Peace and Sustainable Development.” This was extended in September 2019 through the holding of a women’s forum at the first edition of the Luanda Biennale,.

The Luanda Biennale

Launched in 2019, the Biennale de Luanda – “Pan-African Forum for a Culture of Peace” , aims to strengthen the Pan-African Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence, by setting up:

1. A global platform for cooperation for the development of violence and conflict prevention strategies and the dissemination of initiatives and good practices, with a view to building sustainable peace and development in Africa (Thematic Forums);

2. A space for exchange between the cultural identities of Africa and its Diasporas, a privileged meeting place for the arts, cultures and heritage as instruments of dialogue, mutual understanding and tolerance (Festival of cultures);

3. A multi-actor partnership between governments, civil society, the artistic and scientific community, the private sector and international organizations. A major opportunity to support emblematic programs for Africa by developing on a larger scale projects and initiatives that have proven to be successful at the local, national or sub-regional level (Alliance of partners for the culture of peace in Africa).

The second edition of the Luanda Biennale will take place between October 4 and 8, 2021

Bibliography:

Adams (David), Early history of the culture of peace

Prera-Flores (Anaisabel) and Vermeren (Patrice), Philosophy of culture of culture, Paris, Editions L’Harmattan, 2001

Tindy-Poaty (Juste Joris), The culture of peace: an African inspiration, Paris, Editions L’Harmattan, 2020

The arrival of the first peace fellows at the new peace center in Kampala, Uganda, heralds the beginning of a new era for Rotary and the continent

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

Excerpts from an article by Jeff Ruby on the website of Rotary (abridged)

In the last week of February, in Kampala, Uganda, 15 Rotary Peace Fellows gathered at Makerere University for the inaugural session of Rotary International’s new peace center. Among them, the peace center’s first cohort represented 11 countries and spoke, in addition to English, a dozen African languages, including Luganda, Swahili, and Zulu. “Coming from diverse backgrounds, and yet with a shared desire for peace in Africa, they are the epitome of unity in diversity,” said Anne Nkutu, a member of the Rotary Club of Kampala Naalya and the host area coordinator for the Makerere University peace center.


Photography by Tobin Jones

With an average age of 40 when they were admitted to the program, the fellows are not novice peacemakers. These are established professionals with a minimum of five years of experience in peace and development. They arrived at Makerere University — home to an established program in peace and conflict studies — already working on an initiative, or with an idea for one, that promotes peace or social change within their workplace or community. “The fellows are more interested in the practical side of peacebuilding,” said Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala, the director of the peace center. “They want to see how things are done, as opposed to our regular students, who are more interested in the theoretical aspects. So the fellows come off as, and indeed are, change agents.”

Prior to arriving at Makerere, the peace fellows began their studies with a two-week online session, the first stage in Rotary’s new yearlong certificate program in peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and development. (The peace center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, which previously offered a three-month version of the certificate program, has also adopted this new model.) Following the 10-week session in Kampala, they will return home to begin implementing their social change initiatives, checking in periodically with their instructors and fellow students. They will return to Makerere in early 2022 to complete the program.

Earlier this year, as they prepared to depart for Kampala, Rotary magazine spoke with six of the peace fellows via Zoom and WhatsApp. The conversations were a crash course in African history and politics. They were also an inspiration, offering a glimpse of the possibilities that lie ahead for Africa once these peace fellows — and those to follow in the years ahead — complete their studies at Makerere and disperse across the continent to share what they have learned.

The 10-week session in Kampala “enabled the peace fellows to network and share experiences in and out of class,” says Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala, the peace center’s director.

Patience Rusare

. . . . As a journalist in Zimbabwe, Patience Rusare used her reporting to help shape public policy toward just and equitable ends . . . . Rusare is an editor and a senior political journalist for The Patriot, a newspaper based in Harare. In 2013, after years of writing business stories, she changed her focus. She began covering conflicts, whether political crises in Lesotho and Mali in 2014 and 2015, hostile Ugandan elections in 2016, or a coup d’état in her native Zimbabwe in 2017, often tracing underlying issues back decades to explain the current climate.

“People were not making informed decisions,” Rusare says. “And that lack of information can make people desperate and easy to manipulate.” As she wrote in an unbiased manner, she began to see a direct correlation between the information in her stories and public policy. In Lesotho, Rusare says, mediation from a Botswana-based intragovernmental organization called the Southern African Development Community led to a resolution that was influenced by a story that she had written for The Patriot. “I feel like I really made positive change in the world there,” she says. “They have some lasting peace in Lesotho.”

I want my children to grow up in an environment where all people love each other regardless of the ethnic groups they belong to. They will know that we are all diverse, but we are all one. . . .

Peter Pal

. . . .As a community educator for the Victorian Electoral Commission in southeastern Australia, Pal is trained in peacebuilding and diplomacy. “The electoral process is critical for good government, for choosing the right leadership and learning to exercise democracy,” he says. “People have the right to make the final decision about what’s right for them.” When he heard about the Rotary Peace Fellowship, he recognized an opportunity to use his skill set on a global level — and take it back to his home country nearly 8,000 miles away.

Now living in Australia, Peter Pal plans to return to South Sudan on a peacebuilding mission. . . .

As part of his social change initiative, Pal plans to engage with professional peacebuilders to explore alternative dispute resolution. Of particular focus is the need to restore dignity for the most vulnerable victims of South Sudan’s continued crisis: mothers and children. “Ignorance continues to dehumanize them in Africa,” Pal says. “Women continue to give birth to children who don’t really flourish. And though they’re not part of the politics, they are the ones who suffer when people die in a reckless war.”

Despite all that Pal has experienced, he remains hopeful. And why not? Twenty years ago, he escaped a violent civil war in Africa, and now he has returned on a peacebuilding mission. “If we are not optimistic, we will all be stuck focusing on what’s in our own hand rather than looking into alternatives that can be applied for the betterment of all society,” he says. “Not just in South Sudan, but for Africa and the world.”

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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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Jew Moonde

. . . . For nearly half his life, the Lusaka native has been a consultant with the Zambia Center for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID); working with this Lusaka-based NGO, he’s dedicated to building an infrastructure to ensure free and fair elections, whether by meeting with politicians to sensitize them to the gender imbalance or training people on how to manage conflict in the electoral process. After two decades, many of ZCID’s legal reform proposals have been passed into law by parliament.

But getting women involved in the political process is only part of Moonde’s mission. He wants to get the younger generation on board, too. “Politics is predominantly for old folks in Zambia,” says Moonde, who has degrees in psychology and peace and conflict studies. “Unemployed youths are the implementers of violence, and they’re also the victims.” To engage them, ZCID focuses on social media outreach and youth-oriented community radio stations; it also helps young people develop skills that might one day help them find a rewarding career. “If you want change to come, empower people with the knowledge that they have the right to something,” says Moonde.

If all goes as planned during his peace fellowship, Moonde wants to acquire the knowledge to help transform ZCID into a statutory body: a permanent peace structure that provides an official platform for dialogue and mediation in Zambian politics. “I start hearing politicians talking and youths talking, exercising their rights to expression,” says Moonde. “It shows us that what we do has an impact on people. No one will help Zambians unless they do it themselves.”

Paul Mushaho

. . . . After establishing an enterprising Rotaract club in a refugee camp in Uganda, Paul Mushaho now envisions using the skills acquired at Makerere to accomplish even greater things.

Soon, with an assist from the American Refugee Committee (known today as Alight) and Rotary clubs in Uganda and Minnesota, Mushaho was launching his own Rotaract Club in Nakivale. Its members have taught farming and masonry skills, planted trees, established a women’s community center, and delivered blankets and mattresses to people who have taken in orphaned children. “I tell them: All we have given you is a sign of appreciation for all you do in the community,” Mushaho says.

A charismatic 29-year-old, Mushaho has an almost supernatural ability to find ways to help. When he saw that the camp’s elderly population found themselves marginalized, he organized lunches where they could share their experiences as former diplomats, engineers, teachers, and doctors. When he noticed that young refugees of different nationalities weren’t interacting, he helped organize a soccer tournament. More recently, Mushaho’s team made and delivered 14,000 masks and 8,000 bars of soap to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Nakivale. “I see people who are happy, simply by receiving what they are supposed to get,” says Mushaho. “We are creating hope in people who have lost their hope. . . .”

Catherine Baine-Omugisha

. . . . A Kampala attorney specializing in conflict resolution, Catherine Baine-Omugisha wants to focus on the prevention of domestic violence.

With her composed demeanor and pragmatic approach, Baine-Omugisha rose through the male-dominated world of law in Uganda, serving as a magistrate, a lecturer, a technical adviser in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and, currently, a private practitioner with her own consulting firm in Kampala.

. . . .In 2000, while serving as a magistrate at Masaka Chief Magistrate Court in southern Uganda, Baine-Omugisha joined a pilot program called the Chain Linked Initiative; to enhance access to criminal justice, it encouraged collaboration among police, prosecutors, prisons, probation officers, welfare agencies, and the judiciary. The program worked so well that it was rolled out nationwide. . . . .
Now she is hoping her fellowship will enable her to apply that spirit of cooperation on a larger scale. . . . .

Fikiri Nzoyisenga

. . . . . Nzoyisenga survived an unstable childhood that included civil wars in Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo (where he lived for five years), went on to study law, and began volunteering for women’s empowerment organizations. It was only a matter of time before he became a community organizer. Through Spark MicroGrants, he led programs that empowered nearly 3,000 households from more than two dozen villages across Burundi. With Semerera, a team of 14 has assisted more than 8,200 women and girls through socioeconomic initiatives, leadership empowerment, and free legal support to victims of abuse and discrimination. . . . .

After completing his Rotary fellowship, Nzoyisenga plans to expand his work to two more provinces of Burundi, where he will mentor other young people through campaigns around peaceful cohabitation, cohesion, and human rights. “My father taught me tolerance and acceptance, and respecting others no matter their differences,” he says. “In time, we hope more men and women in Burundi will come to understand that things need to change. . . .”

Meet the other Makerere Peace Fellows

Olusina Ajao
Nigeria; security and crisis management

Eleanor Curl
United Kingdom; psychosocial support and trauma treatment

Sunny Dada
Nigeria; conflict transformation and violence prevention

Ronald Kasule
Uganda; disability rights and inclusion advocacy

Pinkie Mothibedi
Botswana; community empowerment and social justice

Stephen Sempande
Uganda; youth protection and social service development

Thomas Sithole
Zimbabwe; media and information literacy

Nobantu Taylor
Liberia; civil society engagement and skill-building

Amina Warsame
Somalia; gender equality and human rights policy

African Union: Interview with Special Envoy for Women Peace & Security

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from The African Union

In line with the implementation of various programs by the African Union marking 2019 as the year dedicated to refugees, returnees and internally displaced people and galvanizing global visibility on the issues of forced displacements in Africa, the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Mme. Bineta Diop shares the findings of her visit to the “Triangle of Death. In the first of a two-part series of “the plight of women and girls as forcibly displaced persons; deliberate actions towards sustainable solutions”,’ she also gives insights into why women and girls are worst affected in the appalling situation of forcibly displaced persons.

1. The adverse effects of forced displacement are more pronounced for women and girls, who ordinarily are less advantaged even in stable communities. 
What unique challenges confront women and girls who are refugees, returnees and IDPs

Migration is the fabric of more inclusive, tolerant and diverse societies. Migration has over the years, enriched cultures and civilizations, with migrants contributing to major advancements in their host societies, hence, the African Union’s call for ease of regional trade, free movement and the introduction of the African Passport, all of which are flagship projects of Agenda 2063. The migration of persons then, only becomes an issue of concern in the context where people are forced to flee their homes. Forced displacement is the worst kind of people’s movement as it means not only losing a home, but entails a disruption of one’s dreams, plans, identity and moving to unfamiliar territories with hopelessness and fear.

The adverse effects of forced displacement are more pronounced for women and girls, who ordinarily are less advantaged even in stable communities. There is a pervasive culture of discrimination, and sexual and gender-based violence are a daily reality. These vices destroy the lives of our women and girls and has devastating consequences to the society at large. As you know, rebuilding a psychologically broken person is not as easy as rebuilding infrastructure. Often times these scars remain for life thereby affecting future generations as women are the nurturers of the young.

Moreover, women, children and family members of actors in the conflict situations are more prone to becoming targets and weapons of war. The Chibok girls are a case in point. In many cases this happens to a whole community of wives and children who are left behind by their husbands and sons.

In 2017 July, I was part of the UN-AU high level Solidarity Mission to the Republic of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In both countries, the delegation met grass root women leaders, and the Chibok Girls, who have been rescued from Boko Haram.  There are big camps for IDP’s including the Dalori camp in Nigeria, and the Mugunga IDP camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We held a focus group discussion with women IDPs to further gain understanding and learn from their experiences: which are very similar. The women end up trading sex for food, or end up being raped. It is not only sexual violence that they face.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

(Article continued from left column)

During the same mission we visited an area commonly known as -‘Triangle of Death’- i.e. Beni, Ouicha and Bunia, where we met women refugees living in the most atrocious situations. They had settled, built their huts and were looking after their kids. Earlier that week, they had gone out to fetch firewood and water, and upon their return they saw from afar smoke and the ruins of their huts. Militia men had come and destroyed the whole camp and moved on. This is not uncommon in camps. Women are double victims and the cycle goes on, which is really tragic.

2. Geographically, which areas face these challenges and why?

It is important to note that the issue of refugees and IDPs rarely remains a national issue, it also adversely affects the whole region.

In Africa, recent data shows that the continent hosts at least 6.2 million refugees and asylum seekers. Moreover, the number of IDPs is ever increasing and currently stands at over 16 million. These people are distributed throughout Africa, but mostly in the Sahel, Central Africa, in the Horn of Africa and other volatile places on the continent, such as Libya.  One unfortunate fact is that the trend of people’s displacement and sexual violence worsens as the conflict goes on. It is important to note that the issue of refugees and IDPs rarely remains a national issue, it also adversely affects the whole region. Currently, the G5 is suffering from violent extremism, with the Boko Haram and other violent extremist groups finding their breeding ground and transferring their terrorist activities into neighboring countries thereby destabilizing the region.  

3. Why should forcibly displaced African women and girls residing outside the continent look forward to returning back home?

Despite the common perception and depiction that African migrants and refugees move mostly to Europe, statistics indicate that more than half of migrants and refugees remain on the continent. At the global scale, Africa hosts a third of the world’s refugees and IDPs. This fact has to be interrogated in view of the fact that the host countries host them at great cost to their fragile economies. Moreover, there seems to be fatigue on the part of partners who are not so willing to support the host governments financially, or take on refugees as third country hosts.  Therefore, it is imperative that our solutions be inward looking.

These movements are not necessarily, motivated by pull factors but rather by the push factors. These are mainly insecurity- conflict, poverty and climate change. Devastating droughts have led to refugees crossing onto neighboring countries. This understanding helps us to prioritize our strategy. Women and children are running away in search of safety and security. Therefore, the best way to secure the women and children is to ensure sustainable peace, which in turn will assure development.

It is important to keep in mind that the other face of a migrant and or refugee is that of the youth. The youth, and here I’m referring specifically to the migrants, leave their home countries aspiring for better socio-economic conditions and the potential for access to education and job opportunities. Creating a peaceful environment therefore needs an all-inclusive cross cutting peace building and reconciliatory process where women, youth and other victims are represented. Such dialogue and reconciliation platforms and infrastructure, as well as youth employment has to be prioritized at all levels, including under the AU-UN Joint framework. 

In the second part of this series, Mme. Bineta Diop shares her insights into the synergy in interventions to address the challenges that remain, and how to avert an emergence of new crises. The second part will be published in the July edition of the AU Monthly Newsletter.

A reflection contributions by African women to peace and security agenda in the continent

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from The African Union

The African Union (AU) advocates for the meaningful participation and leadership of women and their efforts towards silencing the guns, enhancing good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice, the rule of law towards a peaceful and secure Africa as outlined in Agenda 2063. In recognition of African women who have exceptionally advanced the women, peace and security agenda in Africa, the African Union and the United Nations will publish a commemorative book to celebrate the contribution of women in achieving Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063 and as part of the activities for the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security

In July 2019, The African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) launched the call for nominations of African women who have exceptionally advanced the women, peace and security agenda in Africa. The selected women will be featured in an upcoming commemorative book set to be launched in the year 2020. View the Nominations Page Here

Twenty (20) African women will be featured in the book. A chapter will be dedicated to each woman to share her story or contribution to either of the four pillars of Resolution 1325 namely; prevention, protection, participation and/or relief and recovery as part of the peace and security activities.

The book aims to send a message of encouragement to women across our continent and in the rest of the world, by reflecting the exceptional stories and contributions of women to peace and security on the continent and serve as a learning experience and motivation to other women, especially young women involved in mediation, peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

(Article continued from left column)

The commemorative book will be launched at the margins of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of State and Government of the African Union (AU Summit), scheduled for February 2020 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will also align with the launch of the African Union theme of the year 2020 on Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive conditions for Africa’s Development.

The AU’s commitment to promoting women’s participation in the peace and security agenda and in Africa’s overall development is demonstrated in its policy formulation and allocation of resources – human, institutional and financial- towards attaining gender equality and women’s empowerment, as a critical goal and strategy in the realisation of Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 that recognises the centrality of women in Africa’s development. These efforts also act as a catalyst the achievement of the goals of UN  Security Council Resolution 1325 to further drive the women agenda in the peace and security architecture.

In 2014, Mme. Bineta Diop  was appointed as the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security mandated to promote and elevate the voices of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution, as well as advocate for the protection of their rights, including putting an end to sexual and gender-based violence. Her efforts are also complemented by other mechanisms such as the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation – commonly known as FemWise-Africa. FemWise-Africa has vigorously mobilised women and girls from all over the continent and the Diaspora as it aims to promote and professionalise the role of African women in mediation processes, conflict prevention and peace-making efforts. 

Over the years, Africa has also developed strong, progressive and articulate policies to support the commitment towards the realisation of real transformation for gender equality and women’s empowerment. To ensure effective assessment of, and reporting on the delivery of the commitments at the continental, regional and national levels in Africa, the AU Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the WPS Agenda in Africa is a key reference tool and it provides twenty-eight (28) indicators for tracking and reporting on the implementation of the WPS Agenda. 

Read- Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the WPS Agenda in Africa.
 
For More Information, read : CONTINENTAL RESULTS FRAMEWORK

Upcoming Virtual Events

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

At CPNN, we are beginning to receive notices of free virtual events concerning the culture of peace. In order to inform our readership of these events, we will try an experiment: a “rolling article” about these events. We will try to update the listing every day or two, removing the events that are past (listed here) and adding new events as they are received at our contact email address. To be included here, an event must be free and must provide a registration link. Unless otherwise indicated the events are in English.

We will also include here the application deadlines for initiatives promoting the culture of peace.


Zoom is one of many new technologies available for virtual conferences.

SÁBAD0 10 de JULIO, 8:00 am a 11:00 am – Hora Colombia – México
Seminario ” Introducción a las Comunicaciones en proyectos en Derechos Humanos y Culturas de Paz.
– Comunicación Radial. Producción de contenidos radiales. Lenguaje y libreto para distintas piezas radiofónicas. Planificación de Programas radiales.
SABADO 17 de JULIO, 8:00 am a 11:00 am – Hora Colombia – México
– Teoría de las Comunicaciones. Comunicación No Violenta. Elementos Básicos que lo caracterizan. El lenguaje joven en la estructura comunicacional actual.
SABADO 24 de JULIO, 8:00 am a 11:00 am – Hora Colombia – México
– Principios fundamentales para la comprensión de los Derechos Humanos como sistema de garantías y defensa en la sociedad actual. Su aplicación y desarrollo en el mundo juvenil.

Se espera convocar a jóvenes de la región a profundizar conocimientos y prácticas sobre el análisis de las comunicaciones vinculadas a estos temas – particularmente la comunicación radial – , fortalecer los grupos de trabajo existentes y crear nuevos en el ámbito universitario, comunitario, organismos gubernamentales e instancias públicas y privadas. . . . Es nuestro deseo que este Seminario promueva en la región latinoamericana participación juvenil e interés en las acciones y proyectos solidarios mediante prácticas concretas de Voluntariado, creando redes de colaboración y trabajo conjunto entre las Juventudes participantes
Link de Inscripción al seminario

Wednesday, July 21 • 4:00pm Eastern Standard Time (USA)
Civil Resistance Against Climate Change: What’s Happening and What Works?

The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) is pleased to host Robyn Gulliver and Winnifred Louis as they discuss their forthcoming monograph, co-written with Kelly Fielding, Civil Resistance Against Climate Change: Strategies, Tactics and Outcomes of a National Climate Change Movement in Australia. Beginning with an overview of the groups which engage in climate change civil resistance and the tactics they use, the presenters will then discuss the extent to which this activity is succeeding in achieving its goals. The webinar will also include a discussion of the dynamics and outcomes of two case study campaigns (the Stop Adani anti-coal mine campaign and the Divestment campaign), before concluding with consideration of how different levels of the Australian government is responding to climate change related civil resistance.
Click here to register

Jul 23, 2021 03:00 PM (Central European Time)
Launch of Nuclear Games

As athletes gather in Japan for the start of the Olympic Games, much attention is being given to the value of the Games for sports, protection at the Games from the COVID virus, and the Olympic Ideal for Peace and Humanity. But there are other, threatening and deadly Games involving Japan – and the entire world – that will continue during the Olympics and after. These Games involve the deadly nuclear arms race and the misguided pursuit of nuclear energy. Nuclear Games, which will be launched on July 23, tells five nuclear age stories – in new, animated web documentary and ‘manga’ formats – designed to educate and engage.
zoom registration

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 • 12:00-1:30 PM • Eastern Daylight Time (US)
Walking a Path to a World Beyond War – The Abraham Path Initiative

How can walking lay a path for a world beyond war? The Abraham Path Initiative (API) has been developing walking trails in Southwest Asia (aka “the Middle East”) since 2007. This U.S.-based NGO promotes walking as a tool for economic development, intercultural experiences, and fostering friendships across the challenging divides of our times. When basic needs are met and people are seen in the fullness of their humanity, a foundation for fruitful engagement becomes possible. When people walk together toward a shared destination, their visions for what may be possible also align.
— In this webinar, we explore the work, successes, and challenges of creating walking trails in a region known for conflict. We meet API’s executive director and it’s consultants in Palestine and Iraq. The conversation will be moderated by Salma Yusuf, Advisory Board Member of World BEYOND War, and Q&A facilitated by David Swanson, Executive Director of World BEYOND War.
— click the “Register” button to sign up and receive the Zoom info for the event

Mayors for Peace Adopts New Vision and Action Plan

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

Text taken from the Mayors for Peace PX Vsion and Actio Plan

In order to achieve a world in which all people can perpetually benefit from peace by realizing the total elimination of nuclear weapons and by attaining and maintaining peaceful coexistence between the whole of humanity, subsequent to the 2020 Vision, Mayors for Peace adopted the Vision for Peaceful Transformation to a Sustainable World (PX Vision): Peacebuilding by Cities for Disarmament and Common Security at the 12th Executive Conference in July 2021. Based on this, we will build cities where citizens act with a strong sense of solidarity for the ultimate goal of realizing lasting world peace.


Participants in 12th Executive Conference
(click on image to enlarge)

As the Vision of a global network made up of heads of local governments, whose role is to ensure citizens’ safety and security, it centers on the objective “realize a world without nuclear weapons” in the quest for the eradication of the greatest threat to our peaceful lives.

Another objective, “realize safe and resilient cities,” has been set forth as a target indispensable to ensuring citizens’ safety and security by tackling the issues distinctive to each member’s region that are threatening the coexistence of the human race.

(article continued in right column)

Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

(article continued from left column)

While accomplishing these two objectives, we must also bring about a fundamentally important paradigm shift involving two things. Firstly, we will seek to change the “nation-minded” approach currently prevalent among global leaders, which prioritizes each country’s own interests, to a “civic-minded” approach, which values mutual aid and the recognition of shared interest. Secondly and more importantly, we will seek to build a consensus in civil society in favor of the realization of a peaceful, nuclear weapon-free world. Through the shift represented by these two things, we will urge policymakers to demonstrate decisive leadership to effect peace-oriented policy change. For this reason, we have set forth a third objective, “promote a culture of peace,” to establish a concrete base for the other two objectives. This entails cultivating peace consciousness and causing a culture of peace—a culture in which the everyday actions of each member of the public are grounded in thinking about peace—to take root in civil society. As a network composed of mayors of local governments, the most immediate presence to citizens, Mayors for Peace has concluded that promoting a culture of peace is the most significant role to fulfill both locally and internationally.

These three objectives to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world, safe and resilient cities, and a culture of peace are mutually reinforcing goals. Together, they aim to cultivate a shared sense of belonging to a single human family, regardless of our cultural, religious, or ethnic differences.

Furthermore, sustainable development of Mayors for Peace as an organization will be key to consistent implementation of various initiatives under this Vision. To that end, in conjunction with further expansion of our membership, we will enhance our members’ initiatives, work in collaboration with a diverse range of groups, strengthen the functions of the Secretariat, and improve our financial capability.

Based on the following Vision and the 2021 – 2025 Action Plan, and in solidarity with 8,037 member cities in 165 countries and regions, we hereby express our determination to continue our utmost efforts toward our goal of realizing lasting world peace.

US: Why Daniel Hale Deserves Gratitude, Not Prison

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Kathy Kelly in Transcend Media Service

“Pardon Daniel Hale.” These words hung in the air on a recent Saturday evening, projected onto several Washington, D.C. buildings, above the face of a courageous whistleblower facing ten years in prison.

The artists aimed to inform the U.S. public about Daniel E. Hale, a former Air Force analyst who blew the whistle on the consequences of drone warfare. Hale will appear for sentencing before Judge Liam O’Grady on July 27th.


Image of Daniel Hale projected on a building in Washington, D.C. on June 26, 2021. Photo credit:  Nick Mottern

The U.S. Air Force had assigned Hale to work for the National Security Agency. At one point, he also served in Afghanistan, at the Bagram Air Force Base.

“In this role as a signals analyst, Hale was involved in the identifying of targets  for the US drone program,” notes Chip Gibbons, policy director for Defending Rights and Dissent, in a lengthy article about Hale’s case. “Hale would tell the filmmakers of the 2016 documentary National Bird  that he was disturbed by ‘the uncertainty if anyone I was involved in kill[ing] or captur[ing] was a civilian or not. There’s no way of knowing.’”

Hale, thirty-three, believed the public wasn’t getting crucial information about the nature and extent of U.S. drone assassinations of civilians. Lacking that evidence, U.S. people couldn’t make informed decisions. Moved by his conscience, he opted to become a truth-teller.

The U.S. government is treating him as a threat, a thief who stole documents, and an enemy. If ordinary people knew more about him, they might regard him as a hero.

(Article continued in right column)

Question for this article:

Drones (unmanned bombers), Should they be outlawed?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

(Article continued from left column)

Hale was charged  under the Espionage Act for allegedly providing classified information to a reporter. The Espionage Act is  an antiquated World War I era law, passed in 1917, designed for use against enemies of the U.S. accused of spying. The U.S. government has dusted it off, more recently, for use against whistle blowers.

Individuals charged under this law are not allowed  to raise any issues regarding motivation or intent. They literally are not allowed to explain the basis for their actions.

One observer of whistleblowers’ struggles with the courts was himself a whistleblower. Tried and convicted under the Espionage Act, John Kiriakou spent  two and a half years in prison for exposing government wrongdoing. He says  the U.S. government in these cases engages in “charge stacking” to ensure a lengthy prison term as well as “venue-shopping” to try such cases in the nation’s most conservative districts.

Daniel Hale was facing trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, home to the Pentagon as well as many CIA and other federal government agents. He was   up to 50 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

On March 31, Hale pled guilty  on one count of retention and transmission of national defense information. He now faces a maximum of ten years in prison.

At no point has he been able to raise before a judge his alarm about the Pentagon’s false claims that targeted drone assassination is precise and civilian deaths are minimal.

Hale was familiar with details of a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker. He saw evidence that between January 2012 and February 2013, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed  more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

Had he gone to trial, a jury of his peers might have learned more details about consequences of drone attacks. Weaponized drones are typically outfitted with Hellfire missiles, designed for use against vehicles and buildings.

Living Under Drones, the most complete documentation  of the human impact of U.S. drone attacks yet produced, reports:

“The most immediate consequence of drone strikes is, of course, death and injury to those targeted or near a strike.  The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs.  Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss.”

A new variation of this missile can hurl about 100 pounds of metal through the top of a vehicle or building; the missiles also deploy, just before impact, six long, whirring  blades intended to slice up any person or object in the missile’s path.

Any drone operator or analyst should be aghast, as Daniel Hale was, at the possibility of killing and maiming civilians through such grotesque means. But Daniel Hale’s ordeal may be intended to send a chilling message to other U.S. government and military analysts: keep quiet.

Nick Mottern, of the Ban Killer Drones  campaign, accompanied artists projecting Hale’s image on various walls in D.C. He engaged people who were passing by, asking if they knew of Daniel Hale’s case. Not a single person he spoke with had. Nor did anyone know anything about drone warfare.

Now imprisoned at the Alexandria (VA) Adult Detention Center, Hale  awaits sentencing.

Supporters urge people to “stand with Daniel Hale.” One solidarity action involves writing Judge O’Grady to express gratitude that Hale told the truth about the U.S. use of drones to kill innocent people.

At a time when drone sales and usage are proliferating worldwide and causing increasingly gruesome damage, President Joe Biden continues to launch  killer drone attacks around the world, albeit with some new restrictions.

Hale’s honesty, courage, and exemplary readiness to act in accord with his conscience are critically needed. Instead, the U.S. government has done its best to silence him.

Key witness in Assange case admits to lies in indictment

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from Stundin (Iceland)

A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud, made the admission in a newly published interview in Stundin where he also confessed to having continued his crime spree whilst working with the Department of Justice and FBI and receiving a promise of immunity from prosecution.


MYND: SAMSETT / STUNDIN

The man in question, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, was recruited by US authorities to build a case against Assange after misleading them to believe he was previously a close associate of his. In fact he had volunteered on a limited basis to raise money for Wikileaks in 2010 but was found to have used that opportunity to embezzle more than $50,000 from the organization. Julian Assange was visiting Thordarson’s home country of Iceland around this time due to his work with Icelandic media and members of parliament in preparing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a press freedom project that produced a parliamentary resolution supporting whistleblowers and investigative journalism.

The United States is currently seeking Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom in order to try him for espionage relating to the release of leaked classified documents. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison. The indictment has sparked fears for press freedoms in the United States and beyond and prompted strong statements in support of Assange from Amnesty International, Reporters without borders, the editorial staff of the Washington Post and many others.

US officials presented an updated version of an indictment against him to a Magistrate court in London last summer. The veracity of the information contained therein is now directly contradicted by the main witness, whose testimony it is based on.

No instruction from Assange

The court documents refer to Mr Thordarson simply as “Teenager” (a reference to his youthful appearance rather than true age, he is 28 years old) and Iceland as “NATO Country 1” but make no real effort to hide the identity of either. They purport to show that Assange instructed Thordarson to commit computer intrusions or hacking in Iceland.

The aim of this addition to the indictment was apparently to shore up and support the conspiracy charge against Assange in relation to his interactions with Chelsea Manning. Those occurred around the same time he resided in Iceland and the authors of the indictment felt they could strengthen their case by alleging he was involved in illegal activity there as well. This activity was said to include attempts to hack into the computers of members of parliament and record their conversations.

In fact, Thordarson now admits to Stundin that Assange never asked him to hack or access phone recordings of MPs. His new claim is that he had in fact received some files from a third party who claimed to have recorded MPs and had offered to share them with Assange without having any idea what they actually contained. He claims he never checked the contents of the files or even if they contained audio recordings as his third party source suggested. He further admits the claim, that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers in order to find any such recordings, is false.

Nonetheless, the tactics employed by US officials appear to have been successful as can be gleaned from the ruling of Magistrate Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser on January 4th of this year. Although she ruled against extradition, she did so purely on humanitarian grounds relating to Assange’s health concerns, suicide risk and the conditions he would face in confinement in US prisons. With regards to the actual accusations made in the indictment Baraitser sided with the arguments of the American legal team, including citing the specific samples from Iceland which are now seriously called into question.

Other misleading elements can be found in the indictment, and later reflected in the Magistrate’s judgement, based on Thordarson’s now admitted lies. One is a reference to Icelandic bank documents. The Magistrate court judgement reads: “It is alleged that Mr. Assange and Teenager failed a joint attempt to decrypt a file stolen from a “NATO country 1” bank”.

Thordarson admits to Stundin that this actually refers to a well publicised event in which an encrypted file was leaked from an Icelandic bank and assumed to contain information about defaulted loans provided by the Icelandic Landsbanki. The bank went under in the fall of 2008, along with almost all other financial institutions in Iceland, and plunged the country into a severe economic crisis. The file was at this time, in summer of 2010, shared by many online who attempted to decrypt it for the public interest purpose of revealing what precipitated the financial crisis. Nothing supports the claim that this file was even “stolen” per se, as it was assumed to have been distributed by whistleblowers from inside the failed bank.

More deceptive language emerges in the aforementioned judgment where it states: “…he [Assange] used the unauthorized access given to him by a source, to access a government website of NATO country-1 used to track police vehicles.”

This depiction leaves out an important element, one that Thordarson clarifies in his interview with Stundin. The login information was in fact his own and not obtained through any nefarious means. In fact, he now admits he had been given this access as a matter of routine due to his work as a first responder while volunteering for a search and rescue team. He also says Assange never asked for any such access.

Revealing chat logs

Thordarson spoke with a journalist from Stundin for several hours as he prepared a thorough investigative report into his activities that include never before published chat logs and new documents.

The chat logs were gathered by Thordarson himself and give a comprehensive picture of his communications whilst he was volunteering for Wikileaks in 2010 and 11. It entails his talks with WikiLeaks staff as well as unauthorized communications with members of international hacking groups that he got into contact with via his role as a moderator on an open IRC WikiLeaks forum, which is a form of live online chat. There is no indication WikiLeaks staff had any knowledge of Thordarson’s contacts with aforementioned hacking groups, indeed the logs show his clear deception.

The communications there show a pattern where Thordarson is constantly inflating his position within WikiLeaks, describing himself as chief of staff, head of communications, No 2 in the organization or responsible for recruits. In these communications Thordarson frequently asks the hackers to either access material from Icelandic entities or attack Icelandic websites with so-called DDoS attacks. These are designed to disable sites and make them inaccessible but not cause permanent damage to content.

Stundin cannot find any evidence that Thordarson was ever instructed to make those requests by anyone inside WikiLeaks. Thordarson himself is not even claiming that, although he explains this as something Assange was aware of or that he had interpreted it so that this was expected of him. How this supposed non-verbal communication took place he cannot explain.

Furthermore, he never explained why WikiLeaks would be interested in attacking any interests in Iceland, especially at such a sensitive time while they were in the midst of publishing a huge trove of US diplomatic cables as part of an international media partnership. Assange is not known to have had any grievances with Icelandic authorities and was in fact working with members of parliament in updating Iceland’s freedom of press laws for the 21st century.

On the FBI radar

Thordarson’s rogue acts were not limited to communications of that nature as he also admits to Stundin that he set up avenues of communication with journalists and had media pay for lavish trips abroad where he mispresented himself as an official representative of WikiLeaks.

He also admits that he stole documents from WikiLeaks staff by copying their hard drives. Among those were documents from Renata Avila, a lawyer who worked for the organization and Mr. Assange.

Thordarson continued to step up his illicit activities in the summer of 2011 when he established communication with “Sabu”, the online moniker of Hector Xavier Monsegur, a hacker and a member of the rather infamous LulzSec hacker group. In that effort all indications are that Thordarson was acting alone without any authorization, let alone urging, from anyone inside WikiLeaks.

What Thordarson did not know at the time was that the FBI had arrested Sabu in the beginning of June 2011 and threatened him into becoming an informant and a collaborator for the FBI. Thus, when Thordarson continued his previous pattern of requesting attacks on Icelandic interests, the FBI knew and saw an opportunity to implicate Julian Assange.

Later that month a DDoS attack was performed against the websites of several government institutions.

That deed was done under the watchful eyes of the FBI who must have authorized the attack or even initiated it, as Sabu was at that point their man. What followed was an episode where it seems obvious that Icelandic authorities were fooled into cooperation under false pretenses.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

Ögmundur Jónasson was minister of interior at time and as such the political head of police and prosecution and says of the US activities: “They were trying to use things here [in Iceland] and use people in our country to spin a web, a cobweb that would catch Julian Assange”.

“They were trying to use things here [in Iceland] and use people in our country to spin a web, a cobweb that would catch Julian Assange”

Jónasson recalls that when the FBI first contacted Icelandic authorities on June 20th 2011 it was to warn Iceland of an imminent and grave threat of intrusion against government computers. A few days later FBI agents flew to Iceland and offered formally to assist in thwarting this grave danger. The offer was accepted and on July 4th a formal rogatory letter was sent to Iceland to seal the mutual assistance.. Jónasson speculates that already then the US was laying the groundwork for its ultimate purpose, not to assist Iceland but entrap Julian Assange:

“What I have been pondering ever since is if the spinning of the web had already started then with the acceptance of the letter rogatory establishing cooperation that they could use as a pretext for later visits,” says Jónasson.

Icelandic policemen were sent to the US to gather further evidence of this so-called imminent danger and Jónasson says he does not recall anything of substance coming out of that visit and no further attacks were made against Icelandic interests.

But the FBI would return.

Icelandic officials deceived by the US

Towards the end of August, Thordarson was being pursued by WikiLeaks staff who wished to locate the proceeds of online sales of WikiLeaks merchandise. It emerged Thordarson had instructed the funds be sent to his private bank account by forging an email in the name of Julian Assange.

Thordarson saw a way out and on August 23d he sent an email to the US Embassy in Iceland offering information in relation to a criminal investigation. He was replied to with a call and confirmed that he was offering to be an informant in the case against Julian Assange.

The prosecutors and FBI were quick in responding and within 48 hrs a private jet landed in Reykjavik with around eight agents who quickly set up meetings with Thordarson and with people from the Icelandic State Prosecutors office and the State Police Commissioner.

Mid day, Mr. Jónasson, then Minister of Interior got wind of this new visit and requested confirmation that this related to the same case as earlier in the summer. “I asked on what rogatory letter this visit was based and if this was exactly the same case”, Jónasson says in an interview with Stundin. “I then found out that this was of a totally different nature than previously discussed”. He says he put two and two together and said it was obvious that the intention was to lay a trap in Iceland for Assange and other staff members of WikiLeaks.

Such actions were according to Jónasson way outside the scope of the agreement and thus he ordered that all cooperation with the agents be stopped and that they would be informed they were acting in Iceland without any authority. Only days later he learned that the agents and prosecutors had not yet left the country so the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the US embassy with the demand they halt police work in Iceland and leave the country.

They did, but left with the new informant and “star witness”, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson who flew with them to Denmark.

Not a hacker but a sociopath

Thordarson has been nicknamed Siggi the hacker in Iceland. That is actually an antonym as several sources Stundin has talked to claim that Thordarson’s computer ability is menial. This is supported by several chat logs and documents where he is requesting assistance from others doing rather uncomplicated computer jobs. Once he even sought FBI expert help in uploading a video from his own phone.

The meeting in Denmark was the first of a few where the FBI enthusiastically embraced the idea of co-operation with Thordarson. He says they wanted to know everything about WikiLeaks, including physical security of staff. They took material he had gathered, including data he had stolen from WikiLeaks employees and even planned to send him to England with a wire. Thordarson claimed in interviews he had refused that particular request. It was probably because he was not welcomed anymore as he knew WikiLeaks people had found out, or were about to firmly establish, that he had embezzled funds from the organization.

After months of collaboration the FBI seem to have lost interest. At about the same time charges were piling up against Thordarson with the Icelandic authorities for massive fraud, forgeries and theft on the one hand and for sexual violations against underage boys he had tricked or forced into sexual acts on the other.

After long investigations Thordarson was sentenced in 2013 and 2014 and received relatively lenient sentences as the judge took into account that he changed his plea at court and pleaded guilty to all counts.

According to a psychiatric assessment presented to the court Thordarson was diagnosed as a sociopath, incapable of remorse but still criminally culpable for his actions. He was assessed to be able to understand the basic difference between right and wrong, He just did not seem to care.

Incarceration did not seem to have an intended effect of stopping Thordarson from continuing his life of crime. It actually took off and expanded in extent and scope in 2019 when the Trump-era DoJ decided to revisit him, giving him a formal status as witness in the prosecution against Julian Assange and granting him immunity in return from any prosecution.

The New York Times Problem

In the month following Assange’s arrest in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on April 11th 2019 a new rogatory letter arrived in the Ministry of Justice in Iceland. This time the request was to take a formal statement from Thordarson in Iceland in the presence of his lawyer. The Ministry had a new political head at the time, who had limited knowledge of the prior history of the case.

Although the Department of Justice had spent extreme resources attempting to build a case against Julian Assange during the Obama presidency, they had decided against indicting Assange. The main concern was what was called “The New York Times Problem”, namely that there was such a difficulty in distinguishing between WikiLeaks publications and NYT publications of the same material that going after one party would pose grave First Amendment concerns.

Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson and Julian Assange

President Donald Trump’s appointed Attorney general William Barr did not share these concerns, and neither did his Trump-appointed deputy Kellen S. Dwyer. Barr, who faced severe criticism for politicizing the DoJ on behalf of the president, got the ball rolling on the Assange case once again. Their argument was that if they could prove he was a criminal rather than a journalist the charges would stick, and that was where Thordarson’s testimony would be key.

In May 2019 Thordarson was offered an immunity deal, signed by Dwyer, that granted him immunity from prosecution based on any information on wrong doing they had on him. The deal, seen in writing by Stundin, also guarantees that the DoJ would not share any such information to other prosecutorial or law enforcement agencies. That would include Icelandic ones, meaning that the Americans will not share information on crimes he might have committed threatening Icelandic security interests – and the Americans apparently had plenty of those but had over the years failed to share them with their Icelandic counterparts.

In any event, Assange has never been suspected of any wrongdoing in Iceland. Stundin has seen confirmation of this from the District Prosecutor in Iceland, the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police. Assange has no entry in the LÖKE database of any police activity linked to an individual collected by the Icelandic State Police Commissioner from 2009-2021.

Assange’s lawyer also inquired in the Icelandic Foreign Ministry if the points in his updated indictment where Iceland is referred to as NATO country 1 meant that his case had any relevance to Icelandic membership to NATO, the bilateral defense agreement between USA and Iceland or any national security interests. All such connections were dismissed in a reply from the defense attache at the Ministry.

Immunity and a new crimespree

According to information obtained by Stundin the immunity deal between DoJ and Thordarson was presented at the Headquarters of the Reykjavik police where the only role of the Icelandic policeman was to confirm the identity of Thordarson before leaving him alone with his lawyer in the back room where he met the US delegation.

It is as if the offer of immunity, later secured and sealed in a meeting in DC, had encouraged Thordarson to take bolder steps in crime. He started to fleece individuals and companies on a grander scale than ever; usually by either acquiring or forming legal entities he then used to borrow merchandise, rent luxury cars, even order large quantities of goods from wholesalers without any intention to pay for these goods and services.

Thordarson also forged the name of his own lawyer on notices to the Company House registry, falsely claiming to have raised the equity of two companies to over 800 thousand US dollars. The aim was to use these entities with solid financial positions on paper in a real estate venture.

The lawyer has reported the forgery to the police where other similar cases, along with multiple other reports of theft and trickery, are now piling up.

When confronted with evidence of all these crimes by a Stundin journalist he simply admitted to everything and explained it away as normal business practice. He has not yet been charged and is still practicing this “business”. Local newspaper DV reported last week that Thordarson had attempted to order merchandise on credit using a new company name, Icelandic Vermin Control. Despite using a fake name and a COVID face mask he was identified and the transaction was stopped. He was last seen speeding away in a white Tesla, according to DV.