Gabon: Training to Prepare Project of Youth as Weavers of Peace


Special for CPNN from Jerry Bibang (translation by CPNN)

(Editor’s note: Two months ago, CPNN carried an article on the launch of the project Youth as Weavers of Peace in Gabon, as part of a project in the cross border regions with Cameroon and Chad, implemented by Unesco, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This article updates the initiative.)

The Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace, Gabon Section (PAYNCoP Gabon) recently took part in the training of trainers workshop as part of the project young people, weavers of peace. It was the town of Oyem, in the province of Woleu-Ntem, in the north of the country, which hosted this training of trainers workshop from May 30 to June 04, 2022.

The meeting brought together ten participants from the public administration, civil society organizations and United Nations experts, making it possible to build the capacities of the target actors on the related themes of culture of peace, social inclusion, human rights, gender-based violence (GBV), the fight against radicalization and violent extremism, human trafficking and migrant smuggling…

(This article is continued in the column on the right.)

(Click here for the original article in French.)

Question related to this article:

Solidarity across national borders, What are some good examples?

(This article is continued from the column on the left.)

Beyond theoretical knowledge, the training was an opportunity for participants to better equip themselves with the skills and competencies necessary for adult training.

“At the end of these six days of intense work, we are resolutely ready to deploy ourselves for the training of future weavers of peace”, declared Jerry Bibang, on behalf of the participants in the training.

“The Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace (PAYNCoP) as an implementing partner of this initiative is satisfied with the effective start of these trainings in Gabon and remains completely optimistic for the continuation of the activities,” he added.

The project Youth as weavers of peace in the cross-border regions of Gabon, Cameroon and Chad essentially aims to train and deploy 1,800 young people for the promotion of the culture of peace in the three countries concerned, in particular in the border towns of these three country.

In Gabon, 250 young people are concerned in the province of Woleu-Ntem, particularly in Oyem, Bitam, Meyo-Kye and Minvoul.

Alongside the deployment of young people to promote the culture of peace, the project also provides for the creation and support of a dozen community-based social enterprises to help young people become financially independent and combat unemployment, which constitutes a real threat to peace.

UNAOC Announces Call for Applications for the 2022 Edition of its Fellowship Programme


An announcement from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is pleased to launch the Call for Applications for the 2022 edition of its Fellowship Programme. The Call is open to participants between 25 to 35 years old, from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America, with a strong interest in intercultural exchanges and intercultural cooperation to challenge and deconstruct hate speech and stereotypes.

The theme of the Fellowship 2022 is “Countering discrimination and racism: the nexus to building pluralistic and diverse societies”. The choice of the theme stems from UNAOC’s core mandate of tackling racism and discrimination and finding ways to addressing root causes of polarization within and between societies.

The context of the current global challenges is more complex than ever before. Recent years have witnessed the rise of discrimination against various groups and hate crimes targeting vulnerable populations, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which revealed that no society is spared. Growing intolerance, xenophobia, discrimination, and hate speech pose an enormous threat to international peace and security. Peace is the central promise of the Charter of the United Nations and one of the principal global public goods the United Nations was established to deliver (Our Common Agenda, The report of the Secretary-General). Thus, investing in prevention and peacebuilding is paramount to building pluralistic and diverse societies.

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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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Discrimination and racism take many forms and impact all aspects of life. All of these can hinder the efforts of the international community to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The 2022 Fellowship Programme is designed to provide an excellent platform to build bridges across cultures, borders and beliefs and thus contribute towards achieving the Agenda 2030.

Intercultural dialogue represents an important tool to prevent conflict and build social cohesion, peace and stability. As a mainstay of UNAOC’s work, intercultural dialogue will remain a central focus of the Fellowship agenda with visits and activities aiming at providing participants with crucial comprehension tools to help them understand the plurality and the complexity of their surroundings, and to get an extensive grasp of their host country’s culture, politics, society, religion, media and more.

To be selected, candidates must be able to present professional achievements related to the theme. The Call will lead to the selection of a group of 8 young leaders from Europe, North-America (EUNA) and a group of 8 young leaders from the Middle East and North-Africa (MENA) who will travel together to selected countries in both regions for two weeks.

The goal of the Fellowship is to challenge perceptions and deconstruct stereotypes by providing participants with first hand exposure to cultural diversity. In every country they visit, UNAOC Fellows will interact with a wide range of local stakeholders. Together, they will explore opportunities for intercultural collaboration and exchange ideas and good practices on building pluralistic and diverse societies as a foundation for sustainable peace.

Candidates have until Sunday, 5 June 2022, 11:59 PM EDT to apply.



Palestine: Tears and hope from the last few days


A blog by Mazin Qumsiyeh
A world renowned journalist Shireen AbuAqleh was intentionally murdered by an Israeli sniper in Jenin. Millions of tears were shed for her including ours at the Palestne Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability ( We planted ten trees in her honor. The constellation of events and circumstances and her background actually were so amazing that it provided a huge dose of sadness but also a big ray of hope for us.

Jenin, where she was murdered, is a center of heroic resistance to occupation (resistance not suported by any government, international or even Palestinian). She was a journalist and wearing protective blue journalist vest and helmet. Thus she mobilized the media. She was beloved by every Palestinian home for her coverage of their daily miseries inflected by foreign occupiers for decades. She was a US Citizen thus exposed by her death the hypocrisy of the Zionist run state department that like with Rachel Corrie and other US citizens killed by Israel (a “special country immune from accountability because of a strong lobby in Washington DC). Her body underwent autopsy in Nablus att a Palestinian Medical School then taken to Ramallah and then to Jerusalem. That she is a Jerusalemite with both her Parents burried there was fortuitous bliss. She was also Christian and all Christian churches in Jerusalem rang their bells. Muslims prayed for her on their holy day in Friday just before she was burried. Millions watched and thousands participated in her burial in Jerusalem on a Friday. Mourners were Christians, Muslims, and conscientious Jews and adorned with Palestinian flags (forbidden by the Israeli occupation forces).

Occupation forces then attacked the funeral including pallbearers of Shireen after they murdered her. Here are the shocking video from different angles

Initial investigations and human righst statements on the murder of Shireen:
AlHaq investigation

The hypocrisy of the west is becoming even more blatant. In the murder of Shireen Aby Aqleh, they simply “call for investigation”. But Shireen was reporter number 49 murdered by occupation forces and certainly Israel murdered tens of thousands of civilians (including American citizens like Rachel Corrie). They always got away with it. Here is what the state department said about a reporter of the same age as Shireen killed in Ukraine: “We are horrified that journalists and filmmakers—noncombatants—have been killed and injured in Ukraine by Kremlin forces. This is yet another gruesome example of the Kremlin’s indiscriminate actions.” They did not call on the Kremlin to “investigate”. Now imagine if they were not hypocritical and said the same thing about Shireen. It would read: “We are horrified that journalists and filmmakers—noncombatants—have been killed and injured in Palestine by Zionist forces. This is yet another gruesome example of the Zionists’ indiscriminate actions.”

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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We did not hear of sanctions let alone ramping up pressure against the Zionist regime for doing a hundred fold more than Russia did in Ukraine. Like with South Africa, governments supported apartheid, people opposed it and engaged in demanding and putting together programs for boycott, divestments and sanction (BDS – see Western corporate media is also complicit and must be challenged.

How the media failed in their duty to honor one of their own

Meanwhile this same week, the Israeli regime with US government support approved removal of over 1200 people from the homes in South Hebron hills and simultaneously announced thousands of new housing units in illegal colonial settlements in the illegally occupied areas (both violations of international law). The announcement of 4427 new units was done after lengthy negotiations with the US who also was given greenlight from AIPAC to state they oppose them (even though they actually approved and funded them). The EU also produced empty words of opposition while continuing to fund the occupiers/colonizers. Here is what Jewish Voice for Peace (braver tahn all these arab and western governments) said on one incident: “Taking advantage of Palestinians’ grief [over the murder of Shireen], American Jewish settlers took over a Palestinian home in Hebron, known to Palestinians as Al Khalil before its Judaization. This theft of Palestinian homes by foreigners is a feature of Zionism, not a bug. Settlers — and of course their Palestinian victims — are clear on this. ‘We are continuing the Zionist endeavor of redeeming the Land, said Shlomo Levinger, a representative for the settler families said. And by “redeeming the land,” they mean Judaizing it, erasing Palestinians’ history and connection to it, and ethnically cleansing the Palestinians who live on it. To prevent future settler home theft, we must oppose Zionism, which has always required the forced displacement of Palestinians — as both early Zionists and today’s settlers have made explicit.”

Shireen’s voice is amplified by her murder just like Nizar Banat’s murder and just like >110,000 civilians murdered here in Palestine since Zionists arrived from Europe. We must amplify victims’ voices especially in cases like this where the constellation of events are what they are. Shireen was our voice to the world and now we must be her voice. A Jerusalem main street was taken over by its rightful owners – Palestinians with Palestinian flags and sounds of Christian and Muslim prayers. Shireen plby her sacrifice list the road for resistance and resilience. Her coffin, carried by Muslims and Christians, reminded us of what beauty and unity was like in Jerusalem before this horrific gruesome occupation. It was a sign of hope and it is a beacon of courage despite the overtime hasbara/propaganda that spends billions to keep western audiences in teh dark. We must redouble our efforts to end this nightmare and liberate Palestine. The harder we work the quicker this will happen and this in turn saves lives. 23-year old Palestinian Walid Al-Sharif died of wounds sustained two weeks ago in Al-Aqsa mosque by occupation forces who attacked Muslim worshippers. We all must say enough is enough of this. EVERYONE is called upon to act in their capacity to end this nightmare (exposing Western Hypocrisy is just one of many tools)

David Shulman- Israel Prize Winner on South Hebron hills

A great speech by Charlie Chaplain during the heat of the horrible 1940s when Hitler whipped-up hatred in the name of safety for the German people as the Zionist regime does today. Still valid today if people would listen. How much better we would be if Zionists stop regurgitating hate and oppression that was inflicted on hundreds of millions throughout the ages. Listen to these very powerful words

Chad, Cameroon and Gabon: Youth as Weavers of Peace in the border region


Special to CPNN from Jerry Bibang

With an information and orientation meeting on March 31, Gabon joined the project Youth as Weavers of Peace that has been developed by the other Central African countries of Cameroon and Chad.

The project team with members of PAYNCOP

The meeting took place in the town hall of the municipality of Oyem, in the province of Woleu-Ntem, in the north of Gabon bordering on Cameroon. It was chaired by the Governor of the province as the project involves the localities of Oyem, Minvoul, Bitam and Meyo – Kye.

The project aims to identify, train and operationalize 250 young people (young men and women 18-35 years old) to become weavers of peace in their respective communities.

(This article is continued in the column on the right.)

(Click here for the original article in French.)

Question related to this article:

Solidarity across national borders, What are some good examples?

(This article is continued from the column on the left.)

In addition, nearly 60 young leaders of community-based social enterprise projects will be trained and supported in order to launch their initiatives.

This work will be implemented by several organizations including the Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace (PAYNCOP) and will be coordinated by the United Nations System in Gabon, with UNESCO and UNODC as the lead agencies.

“This project comes at the right time because it gives young people the opportunity to contribute significantly to the prevention of violence and the consolidation of peace in our country. It is in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2250 that recommends States to involve young people as actors in peace and security issues,” explained Jerry Bibang, PAYNCoP Permanent Secretary.

“It will also be a real opportunity that will allow young women and men to embark on income-generating initiatives in order to contribute, even a little, to their economic empowerment and to fight against the youth unemployment that is growing in our country,” he added.

The launching ceremony of the project saw the participation of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Gabon, the Representative of UNESCO, the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the United Nations Office Drugs and Crime (UNODC), a representative of the government, and several civil society organizations.

Schools in the Sahel: lots of courage, but no teachers!


An article for CPNN by Emmanuelle Dufossez (translation by CPNN)

A few months ago, on the occasion of the Africa France Summit held in Montpellier, the need to enter into a phase of real cooperation with the the people of Africa was finally mentioned in an official and publicized framework, including by President Macron, who assured that this was an official engagement of France.

There is an urgent need to seize this opportunity to advance the project of peace in Africa; cooperation needs a common goal, and what more obvious issue then is that of Peace?

As a French teacher working with a colleague from the municipality of Tessalit in Mali, I would like to share our experience in order to demonstrate that cooperation is not only urgent but that it is above all possible, including in areas which, because they are declared dangerous, are deserted by institutionalized international NGOs and most journalists.

Video made by the students in Mali

Tessalit is in the Kidal region of northern Mali. France is very present on the spot, whether with the Barkhane force, or within the Minusma, whose camps are distributed in the North, most often quite close to the communes, although this is not always a factor of protection of civilians.

It is not a question of questioning the integrity of the blue helmets but of asking ourselves about their capacity for action on the ground without clear international cooperation with the populations on the spot. These people are quite simply the first victims of the conflict. In fact it is time, that this conflict is be clearly described.

Whatever the complexity of the situation, it is important to say that the populations, however abandoned by the successive governments of the country, are taking their destiny into their own hands. They do so within the very limited material conditions which are theirs, with courage and intelligence but without our support. France is aware of the situation, since there are effective collaborators on the spot when it comes to fighting an enemy for the common moment.

In December 2018, on a kind of optimistic collective whim, we had the idea, with my comrades from Tessalit, of organizing a meeting between a group of young people from my college in France and a group of the same age, accompanied of one of the few state teachers present in Tessalit. (See CPNN article of October 19, 2021.) Luckily, my Head of School, very sensitive to the situation in the Sahel, shared our enthusiasm, and had a web cam and microphone installed in my classroom. With the help of the CPE, we brought together a group of highly motivated students. For his part, my comrade Bakrene Ag Sidimohamed, convinced the head of the Minusma camp, located a few kilometers from the city, to welcome the group of young people, so that they could access an internet connection and equipment. allowing the exchange. And the adventure began! First in the form of these regular exchanges, then through joint, more targeted educational projects.

The purpose is not to describe our work at length here. What seems important to me is to provide, through our testimony, an example of how this beautiful idea of ​​cooperation can produce miraculous things: it was after the fact that we realized what we had succeeded in doing. with simple, obvious means, by combining the efforts, the skills, the material possibilities of each other, in France and in Mali. The projects that followed prove that mutual will is the essential ingredient of cooperation, since we have carried them out against all odds, and without any material support, except the provision of internet connection by our respective establishments (my high school in France, Minusma in Tessalit) (for a more precise description of the project, see article 2R3S)

By welcoming the students, the Minusma has fulfilled one of its missions in favor of peace. The positive consequences of this ongoing project are innumerable, but our satisfaction is mainly due to the surge of benevolent curiosity that it has provoked among young people.

We would like this to continue.

But the educational situation in Tessalit is a reflection of what is happening in the Kidal region, in northern Mali, and well beyond, on a good part of the Saharo-Sahel; public schools hardly exist, except sometimes on paper; there are no teachers, no material or so little that it amounts to zero. An example is Issouf Maïga, my colleague from Tessalit, who is almost alone with more than 350 students, who of course end up no longer coming to school, except for specific projects, such as those we are trying to set up together.

(continued in right column)

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

Question related to this article:
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

(continued from left column)

Since I started working with teachers and volunteers in the Kidal region, I have been touched by the incredible commitment of a whole section of the population to advance the cause of the school. The inhabitants build classrooms as best they can, which are sometimes only a roof of dry grass to bring the children together in the shade. They band together to pay a teacher who will accept this difficult and dangerous task, which he will have to face most of the time with equipment and in conditions that are disastrous.

The argument which invokes the dangerousness of the region to leave all the youth there abandoned is not admissible. It is absolutely possible to help this population out of the crisis by its own strength, the local associations and NGOs present on the spot are largely doing the work of the large organizations which have deserted the region: they are the natural intermediaries of cooperation projects, those on which it is possible to rely. By committing to the education of their children, the population of the region is clearly showing their need for peace. They no longer want to see their children go to war.

One can sincerely wonder why for so many years, the international community has failed to put pressure on governments to make education a priority in this region.

We can also wonder how it is possible that despite the multitude of calls for help, requests for subsidies, transport of equipment, nothing happens, even though we bring the pledges of serious work. Most of the time, it is the uncertainty of the viability of the project that is invoked to justify the refusal. But the uncertainty is only due to a series of prejudices about the capacity and the will of the inhabitants. We may be judging in advance, in the light of the many scandals that taint our own humanitarian industry. Yet this is about men and women who want to ensure a future for their children and above all, it must be said, this is something that often comes up, in the exchanges I attend: a future of peace.

Lack of education is an argument for enslavement. Concretely, child labor, particularly in gold mining, is one of the immediate consequences of the absence of schools. One can then wonder if education is really a logical priority, since child labor brings to the system very low cost of wages and therefore of goods.

This scandalous situation is neither recent nor unique.

Schools in the North have been closed since 2012, but the reality of the region is one of general abandonment; what continues to function, despite everything, is essentially the fruit of a collective will. The international community need not search for twelve o’clock to two o’clock forever: in Mali, as in Niger, there are young men and women, who have often been stymied in the midst of their own studies by conflict, and are struggling today for the education of their children. We need to rely on them and support the projects that exist with confidence.

There is no shortage of very concrete examples to put on the table, and beyond the closed schools of major municipalities, there is the question of the children of nomadic populations, a large part of the inhabitants of the region, who have been forced to settle to find some security. Can we really accept that these children are deprived of school, even though we have signed the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child and we are talking about Peace?

Since there are projects out there, why not work with those who are doing them? The question is not to send manuals or desks from time to time, but above all to provide targeted support to each project, relying on local associations and community leaders. We must accept a way of working different from ours in the management of the collective and help these nomadic peoples whose freedom seems unacceptable in the eyes of the powerful, to train their children in the current world.

Without the teaching of vernacular languages ​​and vehicular languages, mathematics and culture, how can these men and women of tomorrow imagine that they will be able to go and train in schools and universities, to come back as doctors, engineers, teachers , to build the Peace they are calling for? And who will train the craftsmen of tomorrow on site, while families struggle to feed themselves? Local professionals must be helped to pass on their skills.

The international community, the donors, must grant their trust without trying to reproduce a Western school model which is not always appropriate. We must start from the premise that the mothers and fathers of the Sahel want the best for their children as much as we do. Simply.

We were recently touched by the forum co-signed by more than 30 elected officials from French communities and published by Cité Unie France. Like us, they call for a consolidation of links with the representatives of the population in the region. Will these multiplied calls be heard, at a time when far too many leaders are tempted by military action? For my part, I remain hopeful, carried by the courage of my friends, and I hope that my call for schools will be heard.

With the Franco-Malian Association Tazunt, for which I am speaking, we can make very concrete and serious proposals to provide real support in educational matters, and we will be happy to respond to your comments. The call of the people of Intescheq must be heard, we attach it here. We can no longer leave these children without help, the situation is becoming more critical every day.

Contact: tazuntazunt (arobat)

Medellín and Barcelona advance in the project “Without Rumors We Build a Culture of Peace”, to avoid prejudice and stigmatization of vulnerable populations


An article by Yenifer Yepes Román for the Alcadía de Medellin

The Medellín Mayor’s Office, together with the Barcelona City Council, the Regional Corporation and social organizations are working on the construction of the project “Without Rumors We Build a Culture of Peace”, to counteract the transmission of disinformation, rumours, stereotypes and prejudices that affect human rights of people from vulnerable groups.

Photographer: Photo Mayor’s Office of Medellin

The strategy, which is now in its first phase, hopes to have a positive impact on LGTBIQ+ populations, women, Venezuelan migrants, the Afro-descendant population, indigenous people, the population with disabilities and peace activists who live in Medellín and in municipalities of the metropolitan area.

In the components of this project we do research, training, and participatory construction to generate an Antirumor Network of citizen culture and culture of peace. We invite all social organizations that want to join this work to contact us at the Secretariat of Non-Violence and together we fight against the rumors that affect citizens”, said the technical director for the Internationalization of the Secretariat of Non-Violence, Juan Camilo López.

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

Question for this article

How can we reduce prejudice and exclusion?

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This process is expected to increase the capacities of community organizations, institutions, social and sectoral networks in the city to detect and deconstruct rumors and stereotypes that affect coexistence, citizen dialogues for peace, recognition of diversities and inequalities. between the population, and to promote the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

The project has four phases that will continue until April 2023 involving journalists, businessmen, social groups, public officials and citizens in general. It is expected to create a broad territorial and citizen Antirumor Network, with 10 social and community organizations. The work has already begun in the 6-Doce de Octubre commune, the 16-Belén commune and the San Cristóbal district.

For us it is extremely important to participate in the project without rumors because people with HIV have been victimized by rumors since the 80s. , This topic generally does not appear in the scenarios of human rights”, expressed the project director of the Fundación Más que Tres Letras, Aron Zea.

The strategy is advanced, in an articulated manner, with the Barcelona City Council, which already has experience in anti-rumour pedagogical processes. In addition, the Regional Corporation and organizations such as the Picacho with a Future Corporation, young people from the Warmi Pacha collective, the La f@brica Foundation and the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) of Barcelona, ​​Spain, participate.

“This process is the best way in which we can contribute to establishing a culture of peace in Medellín. As a signatory, you would help us a lot to remove the stigma that has done us all so much harm and open up a more inclusive society,” said Wilmar Sucerquia, a signatory of the Peace Agreement.

The project invites citizens, when they see information that causes discrimination to stop for a moment, think, not share, assess the effect of its disclosure, invite reflection and, if necessary, denounce the message.

How the U.S. Started a Cold War with Russia and Left Ukraine to Fight It


An article by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies in the TRANSCEND Media Service

28 Feb 2022 – The defenders of Ukraine are bravely resisting Russian aggression, shaming the rest of the world and the UN Security Council for its failure to protect them. It is an encouraging sign that the Russians and Ukrainians are holding talks in Belarus that may lead to a ceasefire. All efforts must be made to bring an end to this war before the Russian war machine kills thousands more of Ukraine’s defenders and civilians, and forces hundreds of thousands more to flee.

Photo credit: CODEPINK

But there is a more insidious reality at work beneath the surface of this classic morality play, and that is the role of the United States and NATO in setting the stage for this crisis.

President Biden has called the Russian invasion “unprovoked,” but that is far from the truth. In the four days leading up to the invasion, ceasefire monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) documented a dangerous increase in ceasefire violations in Eastern Ukraine, with 5,667 violations and 4,093 explosions.

Most were inside the de facto borders of the Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics, consistent with incoming shell-fire by Ukraine government forces. With nearly 700 OSCE ceasefire monitors on the ground, it is not credible that these were all “false flag” incidents staged by separatist forces, as U.S. and British officials claimed.

Whether the shell-fire was just another escalation in the long-running civil war or the opening salvos of a new government offensive, it was certainly a provocation. But the Russian invasion has far exceeded any proportionate action to defend the DPR and LPR from those attacks, making it disproportionate and illegal.

In the larger context though, Ukraine has become an unwitting victim and proxy in the resurgent U.S. Cold War against Russia and China, in which the United States has surrounded both countries with military forces and offensive weapons, withdrawn from a whole series of arms control treaties, and refused to negotiate resolutions to rational security concerns raised by Russia.

In December 2021, after a summit between Presidents Biden and Putin, Russia submitted a draft proposal for a new mutual security treaty between Russia and NATO, with 9 articles to be negotiated. They represented a reasonable basis for a serious exchange. The most pertinent to the crisis in Ukraine was simply to agree that NATO would not accept Ukraine as a new member, which is not on the table in the foreseeable future in any case. But the Biden administration brushed off Russia’s entire proposal as a nonstarter, not even a basis for negotiations.

So why was negotiating a mutual security treaty so unacceptable that Biden was ready to risk thousands of Ukrainian lives, although not a single American life, rather than attempt to find common ground? What does that say about the relative value that Biden and his colleagues place on American versus Ukrainian lives? And what is this strange position that the United States occupies in today’s world that permits an American president to risk so many Ukrainian lives without asking Americans to share their pain and sacrifice?

The breakdown in U.S. relations with Russia and the failure of Biden’s inflexible brinkmanship precipitated this war, and yet Biden’s policy “externalizes” all the pain and suffering so that Americans can, as another wartime president once said, “go about their business” and keep shopping. America’s European allies, who must now house hundreds of thousands of refugees and face spiraling energy prices, should be wary of falling in line behind this kind of “leadership” before they, too, end up on the front line.

At the end of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact, NATO’s Eastern European counterpart, was dissolved, and NATO should have been as well, since it had achieved the purpose it was built to serve. Instead, NATO has lived on as a dangerous, out-of-control military alliance dedicated mainly to expanding its sphere of operations and justifying its own existence. It has expanded from 16 countries in 1991 to a total of 30 countries today, incorporating most of Eastern Europe, at the same time as it has committed aggression, bombings of civilians and other war crimes.

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

(Continued from left column)

In 1999, NATO launched an illegal war to militarily carve out an independent Kosovo from the remnants of Yugoslavia. NATO airstrikes during the Kosovo War killed hundreds of civilians, and its leading ally in the war, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is now on trial at The Hague for the appalling war crimes he committed under the cover of NATO bombing, including cold-blooded murders of hundreds of prisoners to sell their internal organs on the international transplant market.

Far from the North Atlantic, NATO joined the United States in its 20-year war in Afghanistan, and then attacked and destroyed Libya in 2011, leaving behind a failed state, a continuing refugee crisis and violence and chaos across the region.

In 1991, as part of a Soviet agreement to accept the reunification of East and West Germany, Western leaders assured their Soviet counterparts that they would not expand NATO any closer to Russia than the border of a united Germany. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker promised that NATO would not advance “one inch” beyond the German border. The West’s broken promises are spelled out for all to see in 30 declassified documents published on the National Security Archive website.

After expanding across Eastern Europe and waging wars in Afghanistan and Libya, NATO has predictably come full circle to once again view Russia as its principal enemy. U.S. nuclear weapons are now based in five NATO countries in Europe: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey, while France and the U.K. already have their own nuclear arsenals. U.S. “missile defense” systems, which could be converted to fire offensive nuclear missiles, are based in Poland and Romania, including at a base in Poland only 100 miles from the Russian border.

Another Russian request in its December proposal was for the United States to simply rejoin the 1988 INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), under which both sides agreed not to deploy short- or intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Trump withdrew from the treaty in 2019 on the advice of his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who also has the scalps of the 1972 ABM Treaty, the 2015 JCPOA with Iran and the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea dangling from his gun-belt.

None of this can justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the world should take Russia seriously when it says that its conditions for ending the war and returning to diplomacy are Ukrainian neutrality and disarmament. While no country can be expected to completely disarm in today’s armed-to-the-teeth world, neutrality could be a serious long-term option for Ukraine.

There are many successful precedents, like Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Finland and Costa Rica. Or take the case of Vietnam. It has a common border and serious maritime disputes with China, but Vietnam has resisted U.S. efforts to embroil it in its Cold War with China, and remains committed to its long-standing “Four Nos” policy: no military alliances; no affiliation with one country against another; no foreign military bases; and no threats or uses of force.

The world must do whatever it takes to obtain a ceasefire in Ukraine and make it stick. Maybe UN Secretary General Guterres or a UN special representative could act as a mediator, possibly with a peacekeeping role for the UN. This will not be easy – one of the still unlearned lessons of other wars is that it is easier to prevent war through serious diplomacy and a genuine commitment to peace than to end a war once it has started.

If and when there is a ceasefire, all parties must be prepared to start afresh to negotiate lasting diplomatic solutions that will allow all the people of Donbas, Ukraine, Russia, the United States and other NATO members to live in peace. Security is not a zero-sum game, and no country or group of countries can achieve lasting security by undermining the security of others.

The United States and Russia must also finally assume the responsibility that comes with stockpiling over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, and agree on a plan to start dismantling them, in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Lastly, as Americans condemn Russia’s aggression, it would be the epitome of hypocrisy to forget or ignore the many recent wars in which the United States and its allies have been the aggressors: in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Palestine, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

We sincerely hope that Russia will end its illegal, brutal invasion of Ukraine long before it commits a fraction of the massive killing and destruction that the United States has committed in its illegal wars.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

Non-violence in Africa and the actuality of peace


An article by Ester Masso Guijarro in The Conversation (translation by CPNN and republished under a Creative Commons license)

Did you know that ubuntu is much more than free software? Even more: the name of the famous system, like so many other things, like the human being itself, has its roots in Africa.

The growing war conflicts associated with globalization constitute a problem of maximum relevance in Africa. Along with the direct consequences of badly done decolonizations, new and old forms of conflict turn many parts of the continent into recurrent scenes of wars and massacres, words that also tend to occupy the usual news and contribute, once again, to the disastrous stereotype of inherently troubled and violent, backward non-modern, inexplicably “primitive” Africa.

Portrait of Sudanese women that is part of the exhibition ‘In Their Hands: Women Taking Charge of Peace’. UN Women / Flickr , CC BY-NC-ND

This reflection proposes to distance ourselves from the above and starting as a theoretical framework of studies on peace, to bring up African experiences that show their great dynamism in precisely the opposite of the various forms of violence: the broad and necessary field of peace. conflict resolution that heal deep social and human wounds through non-violence.

The culture of peace in Africa

The “International Day of Peace” (on September 21 since 2001, although recognized since 1981) and the “International Day of Non-Violence” (since 2007, on October 2, on the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi) are two different days. Two different things? Is it just a matter of purely dialectical interest that “non-violence” and “peace” are two different concepts – although obviously very related and converging–? Does it matter only to the social scientists, in their intellectua dens – remote and often useless –, or does the United Nations also care, means that it generates a social relevance and that it can matter to ordinary people?

The specific concept of “non-violence” refers to a whole field of studies, applications and interventions on what we now call “culture of peace”, as a necessary perspective to work on alternative ways of resolving conflicts in the globalized world.

On the other hand, speaking of non-violence in Africa means drawing attention to precisely what is often concealed in the most generalized public discourse on the continent: its potential for peaceful conflict resolution anchored in numerous traditions, values ​​and social practices. Let us examine this, instead of its alleged (oft-reported) violent potential.

Thus, we find many traditional African practices that serve for peace, thus distancing ourselves from the old dichotomy between tradition and contemporaneity. As much as many of these values ​​or practices have traditional roots, the fact is that they constitute a reality today.

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

Question related to this article:
Can we learn from the conflict resolution methods of pre-colonial Africa?

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The South African example

In recent decades, the examples of reconciling justice (not punitive) after South African apartheid and after the Rwandan genocide (with the gacaca transitional justice) have become essential paradigms. We will focus here only on the first.

Fast forward to April 15, 1996, the day the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission began the first public hearings on human rights violations committed during the apartheid era. Its main goal was to foster national unity and reconciliation, or what the South African people call ubuntu. As Mandela stated: “Let us build a national unity. We may not be able to forget, but we can forgive.” In order to instill that spirit, the South African people agreed to look into the past, because in order to look forward they had to know what came before.

The Commission devoted itself to examining the crimes committed over a period of thirty-three years with three primary objectives: to investigate the crimes, to offer compensation to some of the victims, and to grant amnesty to some of the offenders in exchange for truthful confessions. The process gave priority to rehabilitation, that is, it encouraged the community to welcome those who returned to it after confessing their crimes and showing remorse. This was a pure expression of the ubuntu spirit, which takes into account the totality of the humanity of the persons and their relationship with the community, instead of considering only the acts of transgression of the law committed by the individual.

The ubuntu justice constitutes an outstanding example of so many African cultural heritages that should be considered for their enormous potential for a culture of peace and non-violence, for their possibilities in terms of resilience and social cohesion; African practices and epistemologies that can constitute alternatives of non-violent citizen construction, of great democratic quality.


Ubuntu is surely one of the most paradigmatic examples, even cinematographic, of the matter that concerns us here. However, we could cite so many other practices of non-violence, in the African past and present, that would equally inspire us: the classical Sufi pacifist orientation at the origins of the Muriddiya tariqa in French-colonized Senegal, the Anuak Council of Justice in Gambella (Ethiopia), the ecofeminist movement of the “tree woman” Wangari Muta Maathai in Kenya or even the Senegalese movement Y’en a Marre, created in 2011 by Senegalese rappers and journalists, as non-violent examples of citizen intervention with great transformative power in politics.

In this reflection I distance myself, once again, from the diffusion of the infamous Africa shown by the media, violent and conflictive, devoid of its own resources to solve problems that are often externally generated by international competition.

How many other “Africas” are there that the media does not deal with at all, because good news is not news, it does not sell newspapers or, put more academically, socially adaptive and sustainable strategies do not represent an attraction for the mass media.

Without ever renouncing the necessary denunciation of the deep evils that the black continent is seeing aggravated by globalization, let us also in the West draw on its vast potentials and practices to inspire us in non-violent, just and equitable alternatives for collective life in the contemporary world.

Despite what the media tries to tell us, peace is in fashion in Africa and, luckily, it also has powerful traditions behind it that endorse, reinvent and vindicate it.


Ester Masso Guijarro is Professor of Moral Philosophy and member of the FiloLab is Unit of Excellence, University of Granada

The Conversation

The Pope : “The time has come to live in a spirit of fraternity and build a culture of peace”


An article by Carol Glatz of the Catholic News Service published by Catholic Philly

The time has come to live in a spirit of fraternity and build a culture of peace, sustainable development, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity, Pope Francis said.

Frame from video of the Pope’s message

“Now is not a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters or everything falls apart,” he said in a video message marking the International Day of Human Fraternity Feb. 4.

The international celebration is a U.N.-declared observation to promote interreligious dialogue and friendship on the anniversary of the document on human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt.

The pope, the sheikh and U.S. President Joe Biden all issued messages for the commemoration.

“Fraternity is one of the fundamental and universal values that ought to undergird relationships between peoples, so that the suffering or disadvantaged do not feel excluded and forgotten but accepted and supported as part of the one human family. We are brothers and sisters,” the pope said in Italian in his video message.

People must walk together, aware that, “while respecting our individual cultures and traditions, we are called to build fraternity as a bulwark against hatred, violence and injustice,” he said.

“All of us must work to promote a culture of peace that encourages sustainable development, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity,” he said.

People of different faiths all have a role to play, he said, because “in the name of God, we who are his creatures must acknowledge that we are brothers and sisters.”

And all of humanity lives “under the same heaven,” so believers in God and all people of goodwill should journey together, he added.

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(Click here for a French article on this subject and here for a Spanish article.)

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

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“Do not leave it to tomorrow or an uncertain future,” he said. “This is a good day to extend a hand, to celebrate our unity in diversity — unity, not uniformity, unity in diversity — in order to say to the communities and societies in which we live that the time of fraternity has arrived.”

“The path of fraternity is long and challenging, it is a difficult path, yet it is the anchor of salvation for humanity,” the pope said. “Let us counter the many threatening signs, times of darkness and mindsets of conflict with the sign of fraternity that, in accepting others and respecting their identity, invites them to a shared journey.”

The pope encouraged everyone to dedicate themselves to “the cause of peace and to respond concretely to the problems and needs of the least, the poor and the defenseless. Our resolve is to walk side by side, ‘brothers and sisters all,’ in order to be effective artisans of peace and justice, in the harmony of differences and with respect for the identity of each.”

In his video message, Sheikh el-Tayeb said, “This celebration means a quest for a better world where the spirit of tolerance, fraternity, solidarity and collaboration prevails. It also indicates a hope for providing effective tools to face the crises and challenges of contemporary humanity.”

“We have embarked on this path in the hope for a new world that is free of wars and conflicts, where the fearful are reassured, the poor sustained, the vulnerable protected and justice administered,” he said.

In Biden’s written statement commemorating the day, he encouraged everyone to work together to overcome the global challenges that no one nation or group of people can solve on their own.

“For too long, the narrowed view that our shared prosperity is a zero-sum game has festered — the view that for one person to succeed, another has to fail,” he wrote. “This cramped idea has been a source of human conflict for centuries.”

Problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and increased violence, “require global cooperation from people of all backgrounds, cultures, faiths and beliefs. They require us to speak with one another in open dialogue to promote tolerance, inclusion and understanding,” and to guarantee that “all people are treated with dignity and as full participants in society,” he wrote.

“On this day, we affirm — in words and in actions — the inherent humanity that unites us all,” the president wrote. “Together, we have a real opportunity to build a better world that upholds universal human rights, lifts every human being and advances peace and security for all.”

Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and member of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, said in a statement that the day “is an opportunity to advance the sense of responsibility toward the poor, vulnerable, homeless and oppressed.”

“I hope human fraternity will turn into a global movement of promoting moral values shared by all peoples from all walks of life,” the cardinal said.

Spain: More than 140 people participate in the first Congress ‘Aragon, culture of peace’


An article in El Periodico de Aragon (translation by CPNN)

More than 140 people are participating in the first Congress ‘Aragon, culture of peace’ to address the phenomenon of migration. The event, which began this Wednesday, is scheduled by the General Directorate for Development Cooperation and Immigration, in the Department of Citizenship and Social Rights of the Government of Aragon.

This initiative takes place on the occasion of the International Day of Migrants, which is commemorated on December 18. During two days, this Wednesday and Thursday, numerous experts will reflect on the phenomenon of migration and its enriching value for society.

In total, 144 people have enrolled from very different fields of knowledge, from nurses to social workers, doctoral students, civil servants and Administration personnel, and 85.7 percent have requested the issuance of an assistance diploma .

At the same time, this Congress will serve as a prelude to the Plenary of the Immigration Forum, a body that brings together the different actors working on immigration in Aragon, which meets again – the last time was in June – to update its work.

In 2019, there were 75,012 men and 73,212 women of foreign origin in Aragon. The Minister of Citizenship and Social Rights, María Victoria Broto, in charge of opening the congress, has pointed out that “Aragon is a host country, it is a territory of solidarity and it is necessary to address, at this time and in the current circumstances, what is the situation in the world, what needs are there and how they can be addressed from the point of view of the Administrations, institutions and entities “.

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

Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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“We are very happy to host this Congress in which we will listen to voices that will analyze the reality of migration also from the point of view of those who arrive and need to be understood and helped. After what they have experienced this year in which the covid has paralyzed everything, it is mandatory to stop and think and not forget that the needs are still out there and that, far from disappearing, they have increased, “he said.

For her part, the Director General for Development Cooperation and Immigration, Natalia Salvo, highlighted that, through this Congress, the intention is to continue with the commitment to research “as a source of rigor and seriousness” in order to implement public policies on migration.

“We have created a space for dialogue about migration, the management of cultural diversity and other phenomena such as international protection, all of this framed on an especially important date for us, the International Day of Migrants.”

The first presentation of the day this Thursday, which begins at 10:00 am, is led by Alberto Sabio, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Zaragoza and will address ‘Ideas about peace in contemporary times: a reflection from History’ .

Afterwards, there will be the presentation ‘Democracy and polarization: on how democratic systems can promote the culture of understanding and stop polarization’, by Luis Miller, the sociologist and head scientist of the Institute of Policies and Public Goods of the CSIC. At 12.30 pm, after the break, the president of the Spanish Association for Peace Research (AIPAZ), Ana Barreiro, takes up again with ‘Informative and discursive approach to migration’.


In the afternoon, it will be the turn for the presentation ‘Educating for social justice: social representations and construction of shared responsibilities’, by the coordinator of the research area of ​​the UNESCO Chair in Education for Social Justice, Liliana Jacott. Afterwards, the political scientist and member of ECODES, Cristina Monge, will speak about ‘Globalization and eco-social challenges for development and peace’.

On Thursday 17, the executive director of UNRWA Spain, Raquel Martí, will start with ‘A peaceful solution for Palestine’, which will be followed by the director of Migration Policies and Diversity in Instrategies and associate researcher at GRITIM-UPF, Gemma Pinyol-Jiménez , with ‘Migration, coexistence and culture of peace’.

The last presentation will be given by Carmen Magallón, the director of the Peace Research Seminary Foundation (SIP) and Honorary President of WILPF Spain, who will address the topic ‘Women, peace and security. 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325, a milestone that defends the incorporation of women in peace processes’.