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


An article from the government of Brazil (translation by CPNN)

Alongside representatives of other Mercosur countries, the Minister of Human Rights and Citizenship, Silvio Almeida, signed this Friday (May 12), the “Declaration for a Culture of Peace and Democracy and for Combating Expressions and Hate Speech”. The document, written during the plenary of the 41st Meeting of High Authorities on Human Rights of Mercosur (RAADH), in Buenos Aires, shows the position of the bloc’s countries on this issue.

Minister Silvio Almeida represented Brazil during the RAADH meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo: Isabel Carvalho – Ascom/MDHC)

During the discussions at the Plenary of High Authorities, the minister took a strong position against the use ;of hate speech. “Fascists have no political opinion they have hatred. As the state, we have the duty to fight any and all hate speech and to act without borders against fascists and Nazis”, he said. 

The text of the declaration condemns the circulation of hate speech and expressions of racism, xenophobia and all forms of oppression. It also condemns manifestations posted on social networks and media that intentionally attack people and groups in vulnerable situations and those historically discriminated against. 

The senior authorities addressed, during the plenary session, the theme of Human Rights and the exercise of Citizenship. The Brazilian delegation reiterated the country’s commitment to policies for the protection and promotion of the elderly, highlighting the urgency of the need for specific human rights policies for this population, including inclusion processes. In addition, data on the aging of the population in Brazil and in the region were presented, highlighting that the elderly still suffer violations of rights and age discrimination.

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

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Question related to this article:
Are we making progress against racism and hate speech?

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Work group 
The declaration also agreed on the creation of a working group (GT) to create a series of guidelines to be used internally by the signatory countries. The guidelines aim to guarantee the protection and promotion of the human rights of the people who inhabit their territories through prevention and treatment actions to face all other forms of discrimination, as well as to promote all types of subsequent accountability.

“Latin America has a history of political instability and attacks on sovereignty and disrespect for human rights. It is important that we take a stand in defense of democracy and institutional stability, combating all kinds of threats”, said the minister. 

Brazil’s participation in the event marks the country’s return to discussions on the human rights agenda in Latin America, after four years of absence.


The 41st RAADH took place throughout the week and, at the end, the authorities presented in the plenary a compilation of information from the thematic meetings with the suggestions they consider important to be adopted by all the countries of the Mercosur bloc.
Among the topics discussed by Brazil are issues related to children and adolescents, women’s rights, people with disabilities, the elderly, education and culture, communication, social participation, memory, truth and justice, and social equality. 


The place chosen to host the Plenary of High Authorities on Human Rights had a special symbolism. It was held at the Sitio de Memoria ESMA, a former torture and extermination center that today serves as a memorial site for the atrocities committed against the victims of the last military coup in Argentina (1976 to 1983). The holding of the 41st RAADH in such an emblematic place was highlighted by the participants of the event and was included in the Final Act of the Plenary.

In addition to Minister Silvio Almeida, representing Brazil, the Plenary was attended by Horacio Pietragalla, Secretary of Human Rights of Argentina; Silvia Patiño Santacruz, Deputy Minister of Justice of Paraguay; Tomas Ignacio Pascual Ricke, Director of Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile; and Carlos Alberto Chocano Burga, Ambassador of Peru to Argentina.


The Meeting of High Authorities on Human Rights of Mercosur (RAADH) takes place every six months and is responsible for reflecting on and dictating the bloc’s human rights agenda. 

The 42nd edition of the event will take place next semester in Brazil, when the country will exercise the Pro Tempore presidency of Mercosur and will host the bloc’s discussions.

Celebrating Rachel Corrie


Excerpts from the website of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice

Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on 26 March 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.

Her 44th birthday was celebrated on April 10, 2023 at the Rachel Corrie Foundation in Olympia with speakers and discussion to remember her and the commitment of the Foundation to continue her work for Palestine.

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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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Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, who established the Foundation, were the special guests at a virtual discussion March 22 on their fight for justice fo Rachel over the decades.

Video of event Remembering Rachel 20 years later

(Editor’s note: In a related development, a new Gallup poll shows that for the first time more American Democrats sympathize with Palestinians than Israelis.)

Greece and Turkey commit to dialogue


An article from Neos Kosmos

During a visit by Greece’s Minister for National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos to areas affected by the disastrous earthquake in February, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar emphasised the need for peaceful means to address longstanding issues, including maritime boundaries and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

A handout photo made available by the Turkish Defence Ministry Press Office shows, Turkish Defence Minister Akar Hulusi (L) and Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos (R) in a helicopter in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: AAP /Turkish Defence Ministry handout

The earthquake brought about an opportunity for both nations to work together and offer support, leading to a de-escalation of tensions. The willingness of both countries to collaborate during times of crisis highlights the potential for future cooperation and conflict resolution.

“I hope that as two civilized countries, Turkey and Greece can solve these problems within the framework of good neighbourly relations (…) through peaceful means and methods and amid mutual respect and dialogue,” Akar told reporters.

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Question related to this article:

Solidarity across national borders, What are some good examples?

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“Our hope and expectation is that the positive, constructive atmosphere we experienced after the earthquake disaster will continue (…) and the doors of dialogue will remain open,” he said.

The Defense Ministers of Turkey and Greece recently visited areas affected by an earthquake to survey the damage and discuss ways to ease tensions between their countries. The officials traveled to the hardest hit province of Hatay and flew over the affected areas via helicopter. Additionally, Greece’s Minister for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, visited a refugee camp located near the Turkish-Syrian border to assess the situation and provide support.

Panagiotopoulos said “The symbolic message that comes from tragedies and natural disasters of this scale go far beyond any disagreement and differences that we may have. They may act as a lever to reduce tension and create the circumstances to facilitate better communication between the two sides.”

“The aim (…) and we must work toward that, is to create an atmosphere of cooperation and stability between our two countries,” he added.

Greece and Turkey resumed high-level meetings following the earthquake, including talks aimed at boosting trade and other cooperation in areas unrelated to the disputes.

Prior to that, tensions had flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas in the Mediterranean Sea where Greece and Cyprus claim their own exclusive economic zone, leading to a naval standoff.

Turkey had also blasted Greece for maintaining a military presence on eastern Greek islands that it maintains violates international treaties. Greece countered that it faces a direct threat from Turkey, which has a significant military presence on the Turkish coast near the islands.

Niger has made dialogue with violent extremist groups an important part of its strategy


An article from ISS Africa (republished according to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence)

On 10 February, Niger suffered one of its deadliest attacks  when gunmen with suspected links to violent extremist groups ambushed a military convoy in Banibangou, a community in the Tillabéri region. Seventeen soldiers died and 13 were injured, ending months of relative calm in the area.

Violence had diminished as a result of two special operations conducted in northern Tillabéri between July and October 2022 by Niger with reinforcements from 250 French troops . Codenamed Almahaou (whirlwind in Zarma) and Niya (will in Hausa), the offensives targeted groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State. The February attack highlights the limits of such operations and lends credence to the country’s use of dialogue as a key part of its counter-terrorism strategy.

In early 2022, Nigerien authorities recognised the need for dialogue with jihadist leaders in Tillabéri. This was inspired after several Nigeriens defected from their extremist groups, and violence in the Diffa region decreased after a disarmament and reintegration process  launched in 2016. A total of 386 former Boko Haram fighters went through deradicalisation and professional training.

The use of dialogue in Tillabéri shows strong political will on the part of the government, which is keen to disincentivise engagement with extremist groups, and stabilise the region. Niger’s approach, which combines dialogue and military action, starkly contrasts with the regional trend. Neighbouring countries have reinforced their military tactics through diversifying strategic alliances  and employing armed civilians .

Niger has a long tradition of dialogue following its successful management of Tuareg rebellions . The country has strived to institutionalise this tradition to allow for a more holistic approach to addressing its security challenges. A core step has been establishing the High Authority for the Consolidation of Peace, hosted within the Presidency, and the National Coordination Unit for Stabilisation and Disengagement Programmes supervised by the Interior Ministry.

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Question for this article

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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To prevent recruitment by terrorist groups, the government initiated several talks in 2022 to foster intra- and inter-communal dialogue for peace, reconciliation and social cohesion in various regions . These were followed by community mediation efforts, one of which led to the signing of a peace agreement  between the Fulani and Zarma communities in Banibangou on 21 January 2023. The deal is important, as jihadist groups exploited decades-long conflicts between the two communities for recruitment purposes.

To build consensus around the process, President Mohamed Bazoum has involved a range  of political, religious and civil society leaders, as well as security and administrative officials.

Ongoing dialogue and the personal commitment of Bazoum, supported by his advisory team, have facilitated contact with several jihadists through community emissaries . Recent Institute for Security Studies (ISS) research provides evidence that roughly 100 ex-combatants are being gathered in the capital Niamey, pending transfer to the socio-economic reintegration centre in Hamdallaye, in Tillabéri. They will go through deradicalisation and receive toolkits for setting up their own trades as mechanics, welders, plumbers, carpenters or dressmakers.

The dialogue process does, however, face some challenges. Interviewees told ISS Today that some community emissaries facilitating contact with jihadists were not necessarily the most qualified. They said those with stronger credibility and social influence had been sidelined. There were also concerns about how to effectively integrate ex-combatants into communities following their release from the Hamdallaye centre.

To succeed, Niger should adopt a more inclusive approach involving various influential actors. Better coordination between the institutions involved is also essential to avoid the dispersion of efforts. The government should ensure that the dialogue process is not bogged down, and is informed by lessons  learnt through the disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement process in Diffa. This will minimise the risk of recruitment by jihadist groups, including of ex-combatants.

By including dialogue in its counter-terrorism efforts, Niger is experimenting with an approach similar to those in Algeria  and Mauritania , which underpin their decade-long protection against jihadist violence.

Niger’s neighbours in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea that are affected by violent extremism should take inspiration from the country’s strategy as they tackle the insecurity afflicting their populations. A coordinated regional approach would also exert pressure on terrorist groups and ultimately deprive them of human resources.

Pope’s Video: “Let Us Develop A Culture Of Peace”


An article from Exaudi

We publish below the text of the Pope’s Video with the prayer intention for the month of April spread through the Pope’s World Prayer Network on the theme: “For a culture of non-violence”:

The video

(Text of video in right column.)

(Click here for the French version of this article, or here for the Spanish version .)

Question for this article

Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

(Text of video)

Living, speaking, and acting without violence is not surrendering, losing, or giving up anything, but aspiring to everything.

As Saint John XXIII said 60 years ago in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris, war is madness. It’s beyond reason.

Any war, any armed confrontation, always ends in defeat for all.

Let us develop a culture of peace.

Let us remember that, even in cases of self-defense, peace is the ultimate goal, and that lasting peace can exist only without weapons.

Let us make non-violence a guide for our actions, both in daily life and in international relations.

And let us pray for a more widespread culture of non-violence, that will progress when countries and citizens alike resort less and less to the use of arms.

Azueï: the union of Dominicans and Haitians through art


An article by María Luisa López in Acento

For a group of Dominicans and Haitians to come together to create art may seem unusual, given the complex relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

However, in August 2015, a small group of people decided to come together to create a project that would promote a culture of peace and thus guarantee a space for dialogue through art and culture between the two peoples.

Here is the wall painted on the border by graffiti artists from the Azueï movement. Photo: Josué Azor

The meeting took place on the shores of the lake that separates Haiti from the Dominican Republic: Azueï. From there arose the name of this movement between local artists and from the neighboring country with which they also seek to undo prejudices, value the wealth of the island’s heritage and the proximity of both cultures.

“We decided to create a movement to have another way of doing things with each other. To strengthen the culture between the two nations, create joint works and through this common creation we are discovering each other”, Rachèle Magloire, president of the Azueï association in Haiti, told ACENTO.

In this regard, the filmmaker also narrates her own experience: “I particularly never had a Dominican friend. That never even occurred to me. The dynamics of collaboration and solidarity between the two countries had been completely broken. Now I even speak a little Spanish and I have Dominican friends.”

Younès Karroum, a founding member of the movement, explains that Azueï is multidisciplinary, since it is made up of musicians, graffiti artists, filmmakers and social activists.

When asked about the complexity that uniting citizens of both nations can entail, due to the cultural differences of each one, Karroum highlights artistry and trust.

“The keys to how to generate trust do not lie in the discourse, but in how to work in the arts; to find, first, a common language to be able to build whatever. For that, you have to identify the other as someone with whom I can share, I can work, and this is built through practice and the dynamics of creation… ”, he says.

To this he adds that, many times, the complex thing is to put aside the national reading that one can have when going from one country to another.

“In other words, when we have these meetings, these moments, I take off this contextual reading cap that I can have from my country and I take the gaze of the other and try to have another vision. Open your mind. And this works in Azueï. Azueï artists have developed this new identity that “we are Azueï”. And the discourse of the artists themselves has evolved a lot in these seven years because we already assume things from the other that we did not assume before ”, she specifies.

(Click here for the original version in Spanish.)

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Question related to this article:

Solidarity across national borders, What are some good examples?

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?

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An island united by art

Both Magloire and Karroum agree that art is the most suitable way to unite both peoples, and they assure that the key that has worked for them is to do it from a constructive position.

They define art as a key tool to change mentalities, both Dominicans and Haitians, and the perception they have of each other.

“Because I think that, in the end, there have been voluntary policies to paint a neighbor in a way for political interests and this with many resources, in the Dominican Republic in particular. This has generated the establishment of a mentality towards the other based only on these criteria, not based on day-to-day reality. In the Dominican Republic there is a lot of interaction with Haitians. There are many examples of solidarity. There are many organizations working on the issue, there are many cases of positive relationship”, indicates Karroum.
On his side, Magloire also puts the issue of discrimination in context and assures that it not only occurs towards Haitians, but also towards Dominicans.

“We also see discrimination against Haitians because our artists were imprisoned or mistreated. We have some who live here. But we also discovered discrimination against Dominicans. Racism is not only against Haitians. There is deep racism here (on the island), which is not talked about,” he indicates.

Activities in the country

These days, Azueï is immersed in a tour of the Dominican Republic that has included demonstrations, workshops, rehearsals, recording of documentaries and music sessions.

“The activities began in February with a residency at Xiomara Fortuna’s Campeche ecological ranch with the graffiti artists from the Azueï team, and representatives of Haitian and Dominican cultural organizations that we have financed within the QuisqueyArt project to encourage exchanges beyond us. Other organizations are invited to undertake these cultural exchanges. Because in the Dominican there is a need for cultural projects with Haiti, and just as in Haiti this connection is needed”, Karroum points out.

He explains that their residence, carried out as a dynamic of conflict transformation through the arts, worked on the concept for a mural on the border between Dajabón and Juana Méndez.

Among the activities of the tour in the country they also included a conversation
with the entire team of the movement in El Portal Cultural, in the Colonial City.
In the same place on Friday, they will have a session with all the Azueï musicians for those who want to go and play with them.

And to close the tour they will perform a concert at the Cultural Center of Spain, in the Colonial City, at 8:00 p.m., in which they will play all the songs from their album Artybonito.

Exclusive interview with General Djibril Bassolé from Burkina Faso on the sidelines of the Global Security Forum in Doha (Qatar)


An article from Financial Afrik (translation by CPNN)

“We must dialogue with armed terrorist groups”. This serious sentence pronounced by General Djibril Bassolé, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, caused a sensation during the very restricted Global Security Forum in Doha (Qatar). On the sidelines of this international forum held from March 13 to 15, 2023 and dedicated to leaders and experts in international relations, strategy and security, the former United Nations and African Union mediator for Darfur and former special envoy of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for Mali and the Sahel, spoke with Financial Afrik.

“I am one of those who think that in Africa, the centralized Jacobin State that we inherited it from the colonizer is showing its limits”

FA: Hello General! You are currently in Doha to take part in the Global Security Forum and to advocate dialogue with terrorist groups. Can you explain to us exactly how dialogue with such extremist groups is possible and can lead to peace?

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the Qatari authorities and the organizers for inviting me to take part in this Doha forum and to make a presentation during the panel on the experiences of conflict prevention and resolution by mediation.

I will answer your question by telling you what I have already explained to the panelists on the importance of dialogue. In most African countries that suffer from terrorist attacks, the origin of the aggressors has undergone a significant evolution.

Initially, it was exclusively an ideological and cross-border jihadism. In other words, the aggressors came from outside and often decided to die as suicide bombers. No dialogue was possible with such assailants.

Nowadays, jihadism takes the form of local or regional armed insurgencies. Young nationals of the targeted countries have massively enlisted in jihadist groups, in strategic and ideological alliances to wage armed struggles against their States. They attack the defense and security forces (symbols of State authority) and their fellow citizens with unprecedented violence.

FA: What explains why nationals massively adhere to jihadist organizations?

Presumably, the jihadists offer them a more promising social project. You know, the regions in Africa in which they operate are generally desert areas, which are characterized by precarious living conditions. As I said to the panellists, the jihadist phenomenon is superimposed on pre-existing local tensions and crises that we must never ignore. We must recognize that feelings of marginalization and frustration exist in certain regions that are disadvantaged by nature and can push a section of its populations, mainly young people, to join terrorist movements in order to benefit from their guidance and support.

FA: However, General, it will not be easy to separate things. Is a distinction possible between these jihadist groups, foreign attackers and local insurgents?

I agree it is difficult. But, given the complexity of the phenomenon, it must also be admitted that the military solution alone will not be able to eradicate it. To maximize the chances of restoring a lasting peace, States must promote channels of dialogue alongside robust military arrangements well suited to the nature of the terrorist threat because dialogue does not mean capitulation. A constructive dialogue needs a strong and credible state.

FA: The dialogue you advocate would be about what and with whom?

To establish a dialogue, a contact with the local insurgents, is essential. They are nationals who follow the jihadist movements because they have no other alternatives. A dialogue makes it possible first of all to better assess the situation of insecurity, to make a precise diagnosis and to identify the root causes of the massive adhesion of young nationals to terrorist actions.

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

Question for this article

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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Dialogue then makes it possible to reform the system of governance because I am one of those who think that in Africa, the centralizing Jacobin State as we inherited it from the colonizer is showing its limits. It will be necessary to reform the State so that it is better able to promote the general interest, to guarantee better governance, to ensure a better distribution of natural resources, in short, to give populations control of their destiny.

Finally, the dialogue will eventually make it possible to envisage peace talks or even negotiations, knowing that lasting peace generally passes through a national dialogue which will consolidate national cohesion.

In any case, dialogue is one of the typically African means of settling conflicts and easing tensions. I think that as Africans we must find our own ways to resolve the crises that have undermined our societies. In places, jihadism takes the form of an armed insurrection that could lead to a civil war.

FA: Do you know that part of public opinion is fiercely opposed to any form of dialogue with these terrorist groups?

I know this and I understand this entirely human reaction to the barbarity and cruelty of the crimes committed by armed terrorist groups. The question is how to stop the phenomenon of the rapid spread of terrorist acts and above all how to succeed in ensuring that young people are not attracted to this jihadism which they consider to be a form of armed struggle which will improve their living conditions.

Firmness and military response are essential to deter and protect populations and their property. But to create the conditions for a lasting peace, it is necessary to talk to and understand the young people who are attracted by the jihadist armed struggle.

In some cases like Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, or elsewhere in the Sahel, the forces of evil have succeeded in pitting communities against each other on a massive scale.

Can you imagine how many young soldiers will still have to be sacrificed and how many young jihadist nationals will have to be neutralized to consider that state X has won the war? And even if the regular defense forces would take over militarily, the problem would not be permanently solved.

Not to mention the humanitarian disaster of people fleeing conflict-ridden areas, the thousands of schools closed, the freezing of social and economic activities, etc.

FA: Qatar, where you are, is often accused of supporting jihadist organizations, particularly in the Sahel. What do you know?

I have never experienced this kind of support. When I was the United Nations and African Union Mediator for Darfur, Qatar hosted the peace talks that lasted almost 3 years and we succeeded in passing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD ) in July 2011. More recently, Qatar hosted in Doha for 5 months the representatives of the Chadian Government as well as the delegations of the armed opposition (called the politico-military) I worked with the Qatari mediation to achieve the signing in Doha, on August 8, of the so-called Doha agreement for peace in Chad.

During these common experiences, I rather found among the Qataris a good disposition to work for peace, stability and development in Africa. Above all, I remembered from them this culture of peace, tolerance and openness with a certain humility.

I have also taken the liberty during this forum to ask them to get involved in the search for lasting peace and development in the Sahel for the States that wish it of course. I also asked them to help provide emergency relief to displaced populations and above all to help these States to reopen schools in areas affected by conflict in order to save a whole generation of children from the jihadist danger.

Regarding you personally, General, how is your health?

I thank God for the completely satisfactory evolution of my health according to the attending physicians. I underwent a major surgery that saved my life. The follow-up and periodic checks are continuing well by the specialized center of the Saint Louis hospital in Paris, which took good care of me.

Where are you with the legal proceedings that pronounced a sentence against you for your involvement in a case of attack on state security in Burkina Faso?

This question, like all those of a political nature, arouses so much passion and controversy that I prefer to leave it to my lawyers to manage it in serenity and respect for the rules of procedure. As for me, I only wish that, what is in reality only a cabal (all those who know the case agree) and the appalling legal hassles there, will have a happy ending with a truly independent justice in the greatest transparency.

For the time being, I find it wiser to concentrate my energies on rebuilding myself and making myself useful, particularly in the area of crisis resolution and armed conflict, as I have had the privilege of doing throughout my career in security service and then diplomacy.

Payncop Participates in the Training of Young Weavers of Peace in Gabon, Cameroon and Chad


An article by Jerry Bibang (translation by CPNN)

As part of the project “Youth, Weavers of Peace in the cross-border regions of Gabon, Cameroon and Chad”, financed by the United Nations Secretary General’s Fund for the Consolidation of Peace, 86 young men and women from associations , cooperatives and youth movements in the Department of Woleu benefited from capacity building during training workshops organized by UNESCO and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), from 14 to 19 February 2023 in Oyem.

The Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace, Gabon section (PAYNCoP Gabon) is a partner of the project, participating as trainers in this important activity. These training sessions follow those already conducted in Minvoul (Haut-Ntem) and Bitam-Meyo-Kyé (Ntem).

The objective of the training was to strengthen the knowledge and skills of the participants to enable them to carry out their mission effectively as weavers of peace. The young men and women aged between 18 and 40, of various statuses, were trained in the concepts of peace, conflict, human rights, social inclusion, violence based on (GBV), the fight against radicalization and violent extremism among young people, etc., as well as on communication techniques for behavioral and social change.

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(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?

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After the training, these weavers of peace will be deployed in their respective communities in order to sensitize individuals and groups, to build peace in hearts and minds, for better social cohesion and living together. For the preservation of peace in Gabon, peaceful coexistence constitute an individual and collective imperative, to which everyone is called upon to contribute, with a view to the sustainable development of the country.

“Given the national context, notably the organization of the upcoming elections, although not being trained specifically for this purpose, the weavers of peace, in their deployment, will certainly make their contribution to the promotion of the culture of peace during the election period, tolerance, the fight against hate speech and fake news, among others,” explained Jerry Bibang, the Permanent Secretary of PAYNCOP.

The session received the surprise visit of the Minister of Health on Friday, February 17, on mission in the Province, who provided valuable advice to young people in formation, but also through them, to their peers.

The cross-border project “Weavers of Peace” provides support for young people in the field of social entrepreneurship. In each of the project sites in Gabon mentioned above, the capacities of the young men and women peace weavers are being strengthened on social entrepreneurship, and some income-generating initiatives with a view to facilitating their socio-economic integration and strengthening the community fabric.

Following the training sessions, from February 22-24, PAYNCOP book part in a meeting in Ebolowa, Cameron, organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UNESCO to strengthen and consolidate cross-border cooperation on the issues of combating illicit drug trafficking and natural resources. PAYNCOP was represented by National Secretary Jerry Bibang from Gabon and the National Coordinator of PAYNCOP Cameroon, Loïck Nkoulou Atangana.

The representatives of PAYNCOP pointed out that the early warning mechanism of the Weavers of Peace, designed initially for issues of peace and security can also be adapted to the fight against drugs and various types of trafficking. This is how it was tested in Cameroon by the Weavers of Peace, particularly in schools to dismantle a network of young drug-using students.

Let’s “work together for peace”, Nuns, Clergy Appeal after South Sudan Peace Pilgrimage


An article from ACI Africa

The ecumenical visit to South Sudan undertaken by Pope Francis, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields, is a challenge to be instruments of peace and hope to the people of God in the East-Central African nation, ACI Africa has been told.

Pope Francis ended his ecumenical trip in South Sudan with a farewell ceremony at Juba international after presiding over Holy Mass at the grounds of Dr. John Garang Mausoleum.

Photo credit: Vatican Media

More than 100,000 people participated in the Papal Mass that was held at the Mausoleum commemorating Dr. John Garang, a liberation leader known as the “father of South Sudan”.

In an interview with ACI Africa at the Papal Mass venue, a member of Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS), an initiative of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG), established in response to a request from the members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), described the ecumenical trip as an “epoch-making visit”.

“The fact that the three of them have come together to visit us in South Sudan gives a great signal that we can come together as Christians to work together for peace,” Sr. Cecilia Nya said.

The Nigerian-born member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) emphasized, “South Sudan is mostly a Christian country, so we can come together to work together for peace.”

Sr. Nya who serves at the Good Shepherd Peace Center went on to recall the 11 April 2019 dramatic gesture when Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar among other South Sudanese political leaders.

She is both ecumenically and interfaith minded and works “The powerful gesture that Pope Francis made … by inviting the President and the Vice presidents and the politicians of this country to Rome for a special retreat was a fantastic gesture and in fact I heard somebody saying one of the politicians who was there saying that he cried,” she told ACI Africa on February 5 just before the Papal Mass started.

Sr. Nya who has previously been part of SHCJ Leadership Team continued, “This coming of the Pope to South Sudan is a clarion call that let our hearts be broken, not our garments torn. I think it is a big call for all of us to join hands to fan into flame the fire that Pope Francis has ignited by this visit.”

“All of us from the top to the bottom, from the grassroots, everybody has to be more committed to working for peace, to ensuring that peace is restored in the land,” she said.

The SHCJ member who, from 2009 to 2014, served on the Board of Directors of UNANIMA International, a non-governmental organization advocating on behalf of women and children, immigrants and refugees, and the environment, expressed confidence in realizing peace in South Sudan, saying, “We can make it; we’ve got the Spirit working in and through everybody.”

On her part, Sr. Mary Moraa told ACI Africa that the Apostolic Journey of the Holy Father was “timely and appropriate for us here in South Sudan, especially for what has been going on in these past days.”

The member of the Pious Society of the Daughters of St. Paul (FSP) explained, “South Sudan is a country that has suffered so long in civil wars since 1956. So, in a way, the Pope comes to call us, that we become the people who give hope and peace to the people of South Sudan.”

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Question for this article

Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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“People live without hope because of the so much suffering that they have gone through,” Sr. Moraa said during the February 5 interview, adding that “as a person who is supposed to become salt and light, I’m supposed to become that hope that there is a better tomorrow … to bring light in the moment of darkness for these people who have suffered for so long.”

The Kenyan-born FSP member who has been in South Sudan since last August further said, “I pray and hope that the words of the Pope will sink deep into the hearts of our leaders and that they will implement them.”

“Differences on tribal lines should be kept aside and we all work for peace,” Sr. Moraa went on to say, and added, “We need a break from this suffering; all the blood that has been poured has to come to an end … We need a better tomorrow; we need a better South Sudan.”

She reflected on their apostolate in the light of the exhortations of the Holy Father. “As a Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Paul, I think we are also called to become these channels of peace and hope to the people through our apostolate,” she said.

“We are involved in the means of social communication,” Sr. Moraa who has previously served in Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and her native country of Kenya said, and added, “in the books that we distribute, the major theme in this our South Sudan should be peace and hope so that all the tribes feel that we are working for them.”

“I feel that it’s a challenge that has been brought to us as Daughters of St. Paul to work on this peace in South Sudan in our own ways through the means of social communication that we use in our apostolate,” she said during the February 5 interview in Juba, moments after the Holy Father left for Rome in the company of Archbishop Welby, and Rev. Dr. Greenshields.

“The visit of the Pope has just ended, and from it I take the following for myself: to become Moses, to become salt and light for the people of South Sudan,” Sr. Moraa told ACI Africa.

In carrying out the apostolate as Daughters of St. Paul in South Sudan, she continued, “we are not favoring anybody but we are working for all of them to become one, to become peaceful in their coexistence among themselves, so that we have one country, not a country that is divided among individuals on the lines of tribes and clans.”

Also speaking to ACI Africa after the Papal Mass on the grounds of Dr. John Garang Mausoleum, a member of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) said he was touched by the simple gesture of Pope Francis visiting South Sudan.

“I am touched by the simple gesture of the Holy Father coming to our land. This land where there is violence, there is war and all kinds of atrocities yet this Holy man, this humble man comes to us, to be with and to reassure us that better days will surely come,” Fr. Charles Taban said.

The South Sudanese Catholic Priest who ministers among young people in Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of El Obeid added in reference to Pope Francis, “We are encouraged by his presence.”

“We admire the Holy Father for the powerful messages he has left to us,” Fr. Taban said, and added, “The message of hope that he has left to us will give us a kind of impetus to move forward and to work for peace and reconciliation in this country,”

He continued, “I am certain of our politicians; they are all Christians and for certain they have been moved by the message of the Holy Father and above all by the gesture that he made by coming to be with us.”

The native of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese urged all people of goodwill to “to help us in whichever way you can, in your own capacity to help us build a true culture of peace in South Sudan.”

For the Archbishop of Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Archdiocese, the realization of the previously postponed Papal trip to Africa was “a great joy”.

“A great joy that he finally came to South Sudan because as you know he was supposed to come some months back but he finally came and greeted the people,” Berhaneyesus Demerew Cardinal Souraphiel said about Pope Francis, adding, “He is an instrument of peace and South Sudan needs peace and he spoke also to the leaders yesterday, to the nation (about) enough conflict, enough war.”

In the February 4 interview with ACI Africa at St. Theresa’s Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese, the Cardinal who serves as the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) said South Sudan “is a beautiful country; it is a young country that needs peace and reconciliation and reconstruction.”

“I have the confidence that his (Pope Francis) message has gone down to the people and also to the political leaders,” Cardinal Souraphiel, a member of the Congregation of the Mission (CM) said.

USA: Ilhan Omar Vows to Continue Speaking Out Against Israel’s Abuse of Palestinians


An article by Jake Johnson in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.)

Rep. Ilhan Omar vowed Thursday that the House GOP’s vote to remove her from the chamber’s foreign affairs panel would not stop her from criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, a pledge that came after the Israeli government carried out  its latest bombing campaign in the occupied Gaza Strip.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks to reporters on February 2, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“My critique of our foreign policy, Israel’s policy towards Palestinians, or that of any foreign nation will not change,” Omar (D-Minn.) wrote in a Twitter post   following passage of a Republican resolution forcing her off the House Foreign Affairs Committee—a seat she has used to speak out against human rights violations and demand accountability   for war crimes, including those committed by the U.S. and Israel.

“As a person who suffered the horrors of war and persecution,” Omar added, “my advocacy will always be for those that suffer because of the actions of governments.”

The House vote was held hours after Israel’s far-right government launched a series of airstrikes in the densely populated “open-air prison” of Gaza, bombings that came a week after Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians at a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. When two rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza in the wake of the massacre, Israel bombarded the enclave, reportedly hitting a refugee camp at the center of the strip.
During t
he floor debate ahead of the GOP resolution’s passage, Republican lawmakers made clear that Omar’s criticisms of Israeli policy—which are frequently conflated with antisemitism  —were a driving force behind the effort to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) specifically cited Omar’s past characterization of Israel as an “apartheid” state, calling the description “appalling”—even though mainstream organizations, including Human Rights Watch   and Amnesty International, have offered the same assessment of Israel’s decades-long occupation and brutalization of Palestinians.

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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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“Rep. Ilhan Omar was booted off of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today for one reason only: her firm and unequivocal opposition to Israel’s brutal apartheid rule over the Palestinian people,” wrote   Josh Ruebner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the former policy director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

“All other pretexts,” Ruebner argued, “are just designed to obscure this fact.”

The House GOP passed its resolution kicking Omar off the powerful committee as rights groups warned that Israel is ramping up its assault on Palestinian rights and livelihoods.

“This circus is happening while the Israeli government is escalating an entirely new phase of state violence against Palestinians,” Beth Miller, political director of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, told The Intercept’s Akela Lacy, who argued   Thursday that congressional Democrats “paved the way” for the GOP’s attacks on Omar.

“If you actually look at what the Israeli government is doing right now,” Miller said, “the mask is off completely.”

Over the weekend, Israel moved to seal—and signaled plans to demolish—the West Bank homes of two Palestinians suspected of deadly attacks against Israelis. Human Rights Watch condemned   Israel’s response as an act of “collective punishment.”

“Deliberate attacks on civilians are reprehensible crimes,” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Thursday. “But just as no grievance can justify the intentional targeting of civilians in Neve Yaakov, such attacks cannot justify Israeli authorities intentionally punishing the families of Palestinian suspects by demolishing their homes and throwing them out on the street.”

Amnesty International noted earlier   this week that Israeli forces killed 35 Palestinians in January alone. Last year was one of the deadliest in decades   for Palestinians in the occupied territories.

“The devastating events of the past week have exposed yet again the deadly cost of the system of apartheid,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general. “The international community’s failure to hold Israeli authorities to account for apartheid and other crimes has given them free rein to segregate, control, and oppress Palestinians on a daily basis, and helps perpetuate deadly violence.”

“Apartheid is a crime against humanity, and it is frankly chilling to see the perpetrators evade justice year after year,” Callamard added. “Israel has long attempted to silence findings of apartheid with targeted smear campaigns, and the international community allows itself to be cowed by these tactics. Until apartheid is dismantled there is no hope of protecting civilian lives, and no hope of justice for grieving families in Palestine and Israel.”