United States: Workers Rising in the South


A blog from the United Steel Workers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The consequences are dire.

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

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

(article continued in right column)

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

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

(article continued from left column)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Fortune 500 Companies Targeted by Unionization, 2021-2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

(article continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

Will trade unions increase democratic participation in governance?

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

(article continued from left column)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United States: Six years as a ‘City of Peace’: Happy anniversary, Ashland!


An article by David Wick in Ashland News

Tuesday, May 16, is the sixth anniversary of Ashland officially becoming a City of Peace and joining the International Cities of Peace Association. On May 16, 2017, Mayor John Stromberg, with a unanimous vote of the Ashland City Council , proclaimed that “…the City of Ashland, Oregon is a City of Peace in perpetuity and encourage city and community leaders to develop policies and procedures that promote a culture of peace in our region.”

City officials and Ashland Culture of Peace Commission Executive Director David Wick, center, tie the ribbon at the International City of Peace Ribbon Tying Ceremony in 2017, as a symbol of joining together. Graham Lewis photo

The focus and engagement on this accomplishment has lessened over the last three years due to the impact of COVID, but the legacy of Ashland, the 163rd International City of Peace, has never lessened internationally nor in the hearts of many community members.

Among the current 380 International Cities of Peace in Peace in 70 countries on all six inhabited continents, Ashland has always been held in high regard as an example to learn from. With the guidance of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC), working closely with the City of Ashland, many segments of our community, and other peacebuilding organizations, we are seen as an ideal way of co-creating an infrastructure of peace.

International Cities of Peace (ICP) is an association of citizens, governments and organizations who have by proclamation, resolution, or by citizen advocacy established their communities as official Cities of Peace. The fundamental focus of a City of Peace is on safety, prosperity and quality of life.

There is no 100% peaceful city — rather, all are on the path to “becoming” a more peaceful city. Various forms of violence or hostility affect every community, yet as Mahatma Gandhi reminded, “…acts of love and service are much more common in this world than conflicts and quarrels.” Hundreds of cities around the world are building on their legacy of peacebuilding in a forward commitment to work toward a community-wide culture of peace. Establishing a community as a peace city recognizes past achievements, encourages current initiatives, and inspires future generations for practical peace building.

(article continued in right column)

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

(article continued from left column)

The Ashland community and city have taken many steps to manifest a City of Peace, many more than can be listed here. This list includes: Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) and others assisting people in need, establishment of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, Chamber of Commerce action to support businesses, wildfire protection action by Rep. Pam Marsh, Travel Ashland (VCB) Advisory Committee initiatives, installation of the World Peace Flame with middle school Flame Keepers, initiation of the Police2Peace program, Ashland Food Bank, Peace House initiatives and Uncle Foods Diner, Peace Village Festival, the Peace Wall and climate action by The Geos Institute, among many others.

Being a City of Peace is a continual state of making daily choices individually, organizationally, systemically, every one of us. On May 16, 2023, what does this look like in Ashland now and moving forward? How do we want to increase the safety, prosperity and quality of life for all in Ashland, in our region? This can begin with a smile for the next person each of us sees.

Ashland.News Editor Bert Etling and Ashland Police Department Chief Tighe O’Meara both served as Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) Commissioners and were recently asked what they value about taking steps to co-create Ashland as a City of Peace.

Bert Etling responded: “I value ACPC’s raising awareness of values that too-often go unspoken and unrecognized, which makes them more likely to fall into disuse. The very existence of ACPC prompts people to think about qualities worth affirming and practicing. On a more concrete level, organization of and participation in events offering the opportunity for people of diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives and harmonious space builds peace in the community. And, of course, the Peace Flame as an ongoing reminder of that energy (in the wonderful Thalden Pavilion space), and sustaining learning about, sharing and passing along those values through the students tending to the site.”

Chief O’Meara’s reply is: “One of the things I value most about the ACPC is that through it we promote conversations, connections, and better mutual understanding. We may not always be able to agree, but unless we come together, we certainly won’t. In those connections and conversations, we have our best chance at understanding, and through that peace.”

As a city and community, we have gone through some rough patches and there are more to come in the challenging times we live in. And the choices and directions are in our hands both individually and collectively. Let’s co-create the very best ongoing City of Peace that we can, together.

An International City of Peace information center is being created at Catalyst Ashland, 357 E Main St., Ashland, 541-625-6565 by owners Precious Yamaguchi and Andres Rivero, and myself, David Wick of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission.

David Wick is executive director of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission ( and president of the Rotary EClub of World Peace. Email him at

Mayors for Culture of Peace


Excerpts from April Newsletter of Mayors for Peace

Join us in promoting the culture of peace

Mayors for Peace outlines three objectives in the Vision for Peaceful Transformation to a Sustainable World (PX Vision): Peacebuilding by Cities for Disarmament and Common Security. One of them is to promote the culture of peace, which the PX Vision explains as follows:

We will cultivate peace consciousness and cause the culture of peace—the culture in which the everyday actions of each member of the public are grounded in thinking about peace—to take root in civil society as the foundation of lasting world peace.

(article continued in right column)

(Click here for the French version of this article)

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

(article continued from left column)

This April Issue of the Mayors for Peace News Flash features some of Mayors for Peace initiatives promoting the culture of peace. We hope these examples will inspire your city to implement initiatives promoting the culture of peace.

Celebrate the Month for the Culture of Peace

We encourage your cities to celebrate one particular month of the year as the “Month for the Culture of Peace” holding a variety of cultural events to raise peace awareness among citizens. The aim is to have them think about the importance of peace through music, fine art, and other forms of art expressing desire for peace, as well as through sports and other activities that emotionally connect people across language barriers.

The City of Hiroshima, since 2021, has designated November as the “Month for the Culture of Peace.” This Month sees a variety of events under the theme of the culture of peace held intensively in cooperation with private sector companies and groups of citizens. These events include, for example, lectures on the culture of peace and stage performances and art exhibitions by youths.

See “Month for the Culture of Peace 2022” by the City of Hiroshima (in Japanese).

Organize Events to Commemorate the International Day of Peace

We recommend your cities organize outreach activities and commemorative events on the UN’s International Day of Peace, which is observed on September 21st every year, to have as many citizens as possible share in the wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

May Day around the world


Information compiled by CPNN from various sources as indicated

May Day was celebrated by workers around the world, as shown in these photos. Click on text to go to the source for more information or click on photo to enlarge or to go to video.

Video of rally in Athens with bilingual banners in Greek and French reading “The peoples will win”

Percussionists in traditional Lebanese clothing lead the chants in the annual Labor Day parade in Beirut (AP Photo/Hussein Malia)

In Buenos Aires, activists held banners and chanted slogans at a rally in front of the Presidential Palace to demand an increase in the minimum wage and protested the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal. (Reuters)

Government supporters rally marking May Day in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, May 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Scene from Colombia Foto: AFP

Members of the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation hold a May Day rally at Muktangan in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Map of May Day rallies in France with total estimated by the trade unions as 2.3 million participants, including over half a million in Paris alone.

In Germany, demonstrations took place in Berlin and Hamburg (Reuters)

On the occasion of International Labor Day, daily wage workers of Birbhanpur village (India) took out a rally, demanding employment and increase in wages from the government.

Scene from video of May Day rally in Istanbul under the motto “Labour is our future”.

May Day demonstration in the Horse Statue area of Jakarta (KONTAN:Francis Simbolon)

Bolivian President Luis Arce participates in the International Workers’ Day march organized by the Bolivian Workers’ Central (COB) in La Paz. 

Members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers raise their hats as they march to celebrate International Labour Day in Lagos, Nigeria. [Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP]

In London, the march comes down Clerkenwell Road, past Farringdon. (Photo by André Langlois)

Hundreds of Filipino activists took to the streets in Manila calling on the government for better wages and treatment of labourers. (Reuters)

Mexico City: Thousands of workers demonstrate on May 1 in the Zócalo. Foto María Luisa Severiano

Communist party supporters with red flags march near Red Square in Moscow, Russia. [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

Multan, Pakistan – Workers of different organizations are participating in a rally on the eve of World Labour Day. APP/SFD/TZD/MOS

(article continued in right column)

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

(article continued from left column)

Scene from video of rally in New York City including New York City Coalition for Domestic Workers

Women walk close to a banner reading “Domestic workers we do not agree with the Government,” during a May Day rally in Pamplona, northern Spain, May 1, 2023 (AP).

May Day demonstration celebrating Labour Day in Porto, Portugal (Reuters)

May Day in Potenza, Italy, the procession of CGIL, CISL and UIL

Scene from rally in Prague (AA)

Scores of workers gather at the Saulsville arena (Pretoria) to observe Workers Day. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

In Quito, people take part in a march on International Workers’ Day to demand that Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso, who is facing an impeachment process, leaves office amid rising crime and insecurity, (Reuters)

Rally in the heart of the Mission District of San Francisco with many immigrants from Latin America

A protester holds a sign that reads in Spanish “El Salvador, the biggest jail in Latin America” during an anti-government march on International Labor Day in San Salvador, El Salvador, Monday, May 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)

People attend a May Day, or Labor Day, rally in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, May 1, 2023.(AP)

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions march toward the presidential office in Yongsan following a Labor Day rally in downtown Seoul. (Yonhap)

The crowd at the May Day rally of the Marxist–Leninist communist party JVP, in Sril Lanka

Workers from various confederations and labor unions pass the South Sumatra DPRD office

Labour day parade march in front of the town hall in Vienna, Austria. [Lisa Leutner/AP Photo]

Medics hold slogans reading “I want benefits” during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Members of left-wing parties and trade unions march in traditional May Day parade, one of the smallest ever, to mark Labour Day, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, May 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

People take part in a ‘Feminist Revolution’ May Day protest rally and some clash with the police in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, May 1, 2023. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

International Cities of Peace: May Newsletter


Excerpts from the May Newsletter of International Cities of Peace


380 Cities of Peace; 71 Countries; 6 Continents — the global network of International Cities of Peace (ICP) continues to grow. Practical work is being done. Below the headlines of violence and war is a profound story of peacemaking in communities. Safety, prosperity, and quality of life are the Consensus Values of Peace and hundreds of International Cities of Peace, thousands on peace teams around the world, are at the forefront of a grassroots organizing principle: localizing a culture of peace.



An extraordinary benefit exclusively for ICP Liaisons

My team at the Media Education Centre and I would like to support our movement and promote as much as possible the Global Network of OUR Cities of Peace because supporting PEACE is more important than ever. . . . . And I believe that political solutions must guide all our peace operations. We must show that it is a Global Movement ready to INCLUDE, ready to PROMOTE and interested to SUPPORT the peace around the Planet. . . . The best way I can propose to all the International Cities of Peace is to help me to show how many cities in how many countries respect and promote peace. To invite many other cities to join us. If you like to support our idea, please be so kind as to express your goodwill to contribute to our promotion with a short video about your city. To be easier to communicate and exchange video and basic information please fill out the form and I (or somebody from my team) will back to you with instructions.


From Buenos Aires: International City of Peace in South America
May 31, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Av. Maipú 2502, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentine Republic.
There will be face-to-face meeting at the Conference with participation by the Ambassador of Peace, Nicolás Incolla Garay of U.N. ECOSOC, as well as Carlos Palma, Coordinator of the Living Peace Project, among other speakers.
Call to Action: Participate from your country by following the instructions in this simple form, you will be part of our summit on May 31, 2023.


Mesa, Arizona, U.S.A. has been an International City of Peace since 2022. Liaisons Paula Osterday and Dr. Ruth Lim, the focus of the peace initiative in Mesa is on the next generation. “We focus on three things in Mesa,” Dr. Lim notes.

We empower children and families to be advocates for peace and non-violence. Our Annual Week Without Violence showcases the community’s advocacy with posters and poetry in different school districts

We have community and business champions that support with Proclamations and Letters of support, including the Governor, the Mayor’s office, Rotary Club, community colleges, and nonprofits like Chicano Por La Causa working on community development.

We placed peace poles in community schools, churches, and colleges.

The Mesa Team was instrumental in Arizona’s observance of “A Week Without Violence”, which created awareness, educates, and strengthens the advocacy for non-violence which in return will help make their community a safer place to live. The Proclamation by Governor of the State of Arizona, Douglas A. Ducey, proclaimed peace as the “deepest hope” and “guiding inspiration” for all of humanity. There are several Cities of Peace in Arizona and many of the leaders are working toward Arizona becoming a State of Peace, the criteria of which is detailed below.

(article continued in right column)

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

(article continued from left column)


376th City of Peace! Kashojwa, Nakivale, Uganda

There are 74 villages in the Nakivale, Uganda Refugee Camp. Desperate, they come from D.R Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other countries. A peace leader in the Nakivale settlement of Kashojwa, Nakivale, Uganda has established his village as an International City of Peace. Iragi Bakenga is a Congolese national, a courageous young man, that is taking the leadership. “I have decided with my team to start volunteering for orphans and vulnerable teenagers and youths to fight illiteracy among them. What courage and resolve! (cities listing)

377th City of Peace! The Central District of Lima, Peru

Established as an International City of Peace by Ms. Rosi Castellaneos who leads an extensive peacebuilding network, Lima is a MegaCity with over 40 districts in a country that has recently had many political setbacks. Yet Rosi and her colleagues have many positive activities, including promoting the Roerch Flag of Peace, inspired by the work of Inés Palomeque and the Argentine-based Mil Milenios de Paz. Thank you, Rosi! (cities listing)

378th City of Peace: New Kigali, Nakivale, Uganda

“To see a developed community where women are fully employed, and children access education.” — this seems a universal vision, yet for January Mutimanw it is very personal. Congolese by nationality, he reached the Nakivale Refugee camp in Uganda in 2015 and envisioned himself as a young man destined to change the New Kigali community for the better. We are with you, January. Take advantage of the tools, resources and network of ICP — that is why we are here. (cities listing)


I like, as a woman, that we can do great work so that we women will fight to build peace in our country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.” The words of a current and future peacemaker go to the core of why International Cities of Peace is an extraordinary platform for youngers and elders. Ms. Bahozi Chance is 25 years old and is dedicated to fight for peace in her city of Bukavu and for parity between men and women. “We planted fruit trees and utilize Agro forestry,” Chance said, “to overcome the problem of natural disasters, erosion and floods in the city of Bukavu and live with nature.” Onward toward local/global peace! (cities listing)


Have you planned for Peace Day, 2023?

September 21st is less than four months away. Designated by the United Nations, International Day/Week/Month of Peace is a wonderful opportunity. WE celebrate peace, educate on peacebuilding, and YES! contemplate the work to be done. Many Liaisons use the time to gather their teams to plan for the next year of projects — how has safety, prosperity, and quality of life in your community made progress… or degenerated? Either way, peacemakers are necessary to keep the momentum or to create momentum for community peace.

The ICP sponsored Global Feast for Peace is in its 11th year. How you gather is entirely up to you. Yet through the Feast for Peace, we make a unified and profound statement to the world that peace is an active engagement. Plan an event, or many events, during September. Remember, peace is not something we keep inside, or among our friends and family. Peace must be shouted from the rooftops and mountains! We must rise together to overcome the silence. Invite the community. International Day of Peace is humanity’s gift from the United Nations.

Celebrate. Plan. Listen. Enjoy. Feast for Peace with hundreds of International Cities of Peace around the globe! (Peace Day)

J. Fred Arment
Chair, Lead Facilitator
International Cities of Peace

Search for Common Ground – Burkina Faso Promotes Community Resilience through Dialogue and Peace Initiatives in Ouahigouya


A press release from Search for Common Ground – Burkina Faso

Search for Common Ground – Burkina Faso partnered with the municipality of Ouahigouya to organize an unprecedented event to promote peace and social cohesion in the context of security challenges, the spread of violent extremism, and intercommunity tensions in Burkina Faso.

The event was organized within the framework of the project “Un Futur à Construire” (A Future to Build), funded by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany and Denmark through the PATRIP Foundation and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).

More than 500 participants, including local authorities, religious and customary leaders, and representatives of eight communities – Peules, Mossé, Samo, Gourounsi, Gourmantché, those of the Southwest (Lobi, Dagara Djan Pougli, Birifors), Bissa and the Malian community, which was invited as a guest of honor – took part in the event. The strong participation of women, with 300 present, underscored their crucial role in promoting resilience and community cohesion.

(Article continued in right column)

Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

Under the theme “Community Resilience in the Face of Security Challenges,” the event focused on building community resilience to combat insecurity and promote peace. Participants exchanged messages of peace, tolerance, and coexistence and shared inspirational quotes on the importance of unity and coexistence.

During the day, Adama, a local radio host, emphasized the importance of rediscovering the values that allowed their ancestors to live together peacefully, while Achille, the organizing committee’s communications manager, acknowledged his previous distrust of a particular community. However, he was moved by the message of that community’s representative and stressed the importance of analyzing one’s own prejudices and biases.

The event included games and a fair that lasted all day, promoting unity and friendship between the different communities. The participation of members of a community that was previously distrusted by others is a significant achievement demonstrating its courage and willingness to promote cohesion despite stigma and fear.

Community representatives expressed regret at escalating violence between the communities and called for dialogue to return to peaceful coexistence. The event was praised for the quality of the messages and the interest shown by the different communities towards each other, despite the initial tensions.

Search for Common Ground – Burkina Faso remains committed to promoting peace and social cohesion in Burkina Faso through various initiatives that encourage dialogue and collaboration between communities. We call on all stakeholders to join us in this effort to reduce conflict and promote sustainable peace in Burkina Faso.

(Click here for a French version.)

Niger: First edition of the Peace Festival in the agro-pastoral zone in Gadabedji


An article from Agence Nigérienne de Presse

The Minister of Culture, Tourism and Handicrafts, Mr. Hamid Hamed opened on March 18, 2023 in Gadabedji (Department of Bermo) the 1st edition of the Festival of Peace in Agro-pastoral Zone in the presence od the Minister of State at the Presidency, Mr. Rhissa AG Boula, delegations from the regions of Tahoua, Zinder, Agadez and Maradi, as well as craftsmen from all regions of our country.

Placed under the theme “Intercommunality-social cohesion-Peace and security”, this Festival of Peace in pastoral areas is initiated by leaders committed to supporting the State in its mission to strengthen social cohesion and community security. The initiative is motivated by the fear of violence spreading from the security situation prevailing in certain regions of the country and the persistence of hotbeds of tension in countries with which Niger shares long and porous borders.
(article continued in right column)

(Click here for the French version of this article)

Question related to this article:


Can festivals help create peace at the community level?

(article continued from left column)

For the organizers of this festival, it is a question of mobilizing the available energies to preserve peace in this area and to forestall insecurity by focusing on the dynamics of existing and latent conflicts. The objective is to contribute to the strengthening of security and social cohesion based on the traditional socio-cultural values.

Several activities, punctuated by musical and cultural interludes took place during this first edition. These are communications on banditry and the fight against the penetration of terrorists; communication on the dialogue between actors; on the management of shared resources; the contribution of the municipalities in connection with the themes presented and the declaration of the young people; messages from civil society and farmers’ organizations. These communications were moderated by panelists including Dr Elbak Adam, Dr Ali Saley, Dr Bodé Sambo and Col. Director of the Gadabedji reserve.

In his opening speech, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Handicrafts recalled that this festival is an inter-municipal initiative and it comes at the right time because the current context challenges us all, so that together we participate to the development of our country.

“This is why my Ministerial Department, in accordance with its mission of supervision and promotion of culture, has agreed to support this initiative which fits harmoniously into the dynamics of enhancing the cultural, tourist and artisanal potential of Niger. ” he said.

He added to the organizers that their idea of organizing a festival on the culture of peace fits perfectly with the daily concerns expressed by the highest authorities in Niger.

He expressed the wish to see this festival take place in fraternity and conviviality. “The objective of my Ministerial department is to see Nigerien culture valued in all its splendour. I urge you to take ownership of this project, to show discipline and to submit any suggestions for improvement,” he said.

The Manama Declaration: A message of hope from the Inter-Parliamentary Union


A press release from the Inter-Parliamentary Union

At the 146th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Manama, Bahrain, parliamentarians representing close to 140 countries adopted by consensus the Manama Declaration Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance and a landmark resolution on Cybercrimes: The new risks to global security.

Map from Wikipedia. The United States withdrew from the IPU in September, 2000. Reasons for continued absence are listed by Heritage Foundation.

The Manama Declaration: A message of hope

The Declaration follows a debate in which a record 151 parliamentarians spoke before an audience of their peers from every corner of the world.

In the Declaration, the parliamentarians pledge “to fight inequality through rights-based economic and social policies that put people before profit and the weak before the strong, and that uphold the equality and dignity of every person.” The declaration also urges parliamentarians “to implement the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 – leaving no one behind – as the best hope for peace, democracy and sustainable development for all.”

The Declaration is a message of hope which calls for a more tolerant world where diversity is celebrated, and where every human being is recognized for their contribution to society.

It also calls for parliamentarians to make “hate-motivated acts and all forms of violence linked to religion, belief, xenophobia, racism or intolerance of marginalized groups an offence under the law”

Cybercrimes: The new risks to global security

The IPU resolution is timely given the increase in cybercrimes worldwide due to a growing reliance on technology and the digitalization of many aspects of life, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also means that a forthcoming United Nations convention on cybercrime, expected in 2024, will have direct upstream input from parliaments.

There is no comprehensive definition of cybercrimes. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, cybercrimes are acts that violate the law and are perpetrated using information and communications technologies. Aside from attacks on computer systems, they include a wide range of other acts that can be facilitated by technology, including online child sexual exploitation and abuse..

(continued in right column)

Questions for this article:

How can parliamentarians promote a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

The resolution underlines the need for international cooperation to address cybercrimes, as well as to protect global peace, security and economic stability while upholding human rights, including freedom of speech.

The resolution emphasizes the responsibility of parliaments in building a regulatory framework to protect citizens in cyberspace in the same way as in the physical world. It notes that cybercrimes may constitute a serious threat to democratic processes, especially interference in elections through cybersecurity breaches or false social media accounts.

It acknowledges that women, young people and children are among the most vulnerable and suffer from the most aggressions on the internet.

The resolution is the result of a long consultative process, including a record 320 amendments received from Member Parliaments, often with opposing views, culminating in a final agreed text, demonstrating the importance and sensitivity of the issue today.

The resolution also shows that there is a growing appetite to include the voices of parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, in United Nations processes and conventions. The IPU resolution and the future United Nations convention should ultimately lead to stronger national legislation to combat cybercrimes.

Action on humanitarian crises

The Assembly also adopted an emergency item resolution on Raising awareness and calling for action on the serious humanitarian crises affecting the peoples of Afghanistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, Yemen and other countries, and on the particular vulnerability of women and children.

The resolution calls on the international community to collaborate to protect human lives, to alleviate suffering, to safeguard dignity, and to guarantee access to basic services such as food, medical care, water and shelter for all persons, regardless of their origins, through legal and policy measures at the national level.


With ongoing wars and multiple conflict situations around the world, the IPU stepped up its role at the Assembly as a global convener of parliaments, promoting dialogue and diplomacy between countries.

The IPU Task Force for the peaceful resolution of the war in Ukraine met again with high-level delegations of MPs from both the Russian Federation and Ukraine, separately, with a view to keeping parliamentary diplomatic channels open for future peacebuilding.

The IPU Committee on Middle East Questions brought together parliamentarians from the region, including MPs from Palestine and the first parliamentary delegation from Israel to visit Bahrain since the normalization of relations between the two countries through the 2020 Abraham Accords.

The IPU Group of Facilitators on Cyprus also met to take stock of and propose measures to soothe tensions on the island.

New report of Inter-Parliamentary Union shows that women MPs have never been so diverse


A press release from the Inter-Parliamentary Union

According to the latest IPU report, Women in Parliament 2022, women’s participation in parliament has never been as diverse and representative as it is in many countries today. And for the first time in history, not a single functioning parliament in the world is male-only. 

Celia Xakriaba, a climate activist, is one of 4 indigenous women to be elected to the Brazilian Parliament. Photo from Wiki Commons.

The findings in the annual IPU report are based on the 47 countries that held elections in 2022. In those elections, women took an average 25.8% of seats up for election or appointment. This represents a 2.3 percentage point increase compared to previous renewals in these chambers.

Brazil saw a record 4,829 women who identify as black running for election (out of 26,778 candidates); in the USA, a record number of women of colour (263) stood in the midterm elections; LGBTQI+ representation in Colombia tripled from two to six members of the Congress; and in France, 32 candidates from minority backgrounds were elected to the new National Assembly, an all-time high of 5.8% of the total.  

Other positive trends include technological and operational transformations, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which have increased the potential for parliaments to become more gender-sensitive and family-friendly. The influence of gender issues on election outcomes, with increased awareness of discrimination and gender-based violence, as well as alliances with other social movements, also helped drive strong results for women in some of the parliamentary elections.

However, overall progress towards global gender equality remains painfully slow: the global share of women in parliaments stood at 26.5% on 1 January 2023, a year-on-year increase of only 0.4 percentage points, the slowest growth in six years.

Mixed regional findings

Overall, six countries now have gender parity (or a greater share of women than men) in their lower or single chamber as of 1 January 2023. New Zealand joined last year’s club of five consisting of Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), at the top of the IPU’s authoritative global ranking of women in parliament.

Other notable gains in women’s representation were recorded in Australia (the strongest outcome of the year with a record 56.6% of seats won by women in the Senate), Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Malta and Slovenia.

High stakes elections in Angola, Kenya and Senegal all saw positive strides for women. Wide divides characterized results in Asia: record numbers of women were elected to the historically male-dominated Senate in Japan but in India, elections to the upper chamber led to women occupying only 15.1% of seats, well below the global and regional averages.

The Pacific saw the highest growth rate in women’s representation out of all the regions, gaining 1.7 percentage points to reach an overall average of 22.6% women in parliament. Every Pacific parliament now has at least one woman legislator.

In the 15 European chambers that were renewed in 2022, there was little shift in women’s representation, stagnating at 31%.

(continued in right column)

Questions for this article:

How can parliamentarians promote a culture of peace?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

(continued from left column)

In the Middle East and North Africa region, seven chambers were renewed in 2022. On average, women were elected to 16.3% of the seats in these chambers, the lowest regional percentage in the world for elections held in the year. Three countries were below 10%: Algeria (upper chamber: 4.3%), Kuwait (6.3%) and Lebanon (6.3%).

Bahrain is an outlier in the region with a record eight women elected to the lower chamber, including many first-time lawmakers. 73 women ran for election to the lower chamber (out of a total of 330 candidates) compared with the 41 women who ran in the last election in 2018. Ten women were also appointed to the 40-member upper chamber.

Quotas work

Legislated quotas were again a decisive factor in the increases seen in women’s representation. Legislated quotas enshrined in the constitution and/or electoral laws require that a minimum number of candidates are women (or of the under-represented sex). Chambers with legislated quotas or combined with voluntary party quotas produced a significantly higher share of women than those without in the 2022 elections (30.9% versus 21.2%).

Women’s leadership on climate change

Women in Parliament 2022 gives several examples of female climate leadership including Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland, who has pushed for net zero by 2035, and Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, who is aiming to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.

At COP27, the UN Climate Change Conference, Senator Sherry Rehman, the Minister of Climate Change in Pakistan, was one of the prominent advocates which led to the successful establishment of a loss and damage fund to support poorer countries who are greatly affected by climate change. However, despite this leadership, women continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions on climate. For example, women accounted for less than 34% of country negotiating teams and only 7 out of 110 Heads of State present at COP27.
Quotes from IPU leadership

Lesia Vasylenko, President of the IPU Bureau of Women MPs.

“Every woman who is elected brings parliaments one step closer to becoming more inclusive and representative. And it’s great to see much more diversity this year in many elections around the world. But overall progress is far too slow, with half the world’s populations still vastly under-represented. There is an urgent need to change this to strengthen democracy everywhere.”

Duarte Pacheco, IPU President

“The only way to make real progress toward achieving gender equality in parliaments is to share the responsibility between men and women. I call on my male colleagues in every parliament in the world to work with their female counterparts to move forward and accelerate the pace of change.”

Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General

“Our research shows that there are still too many barriers preventing women from entering parliament or indeed forcing them to leave politics, as we have seen recently. We have the data, tools and solutions to make gender equality a reality by, for example, making parliaments gender-sensitive and free of sexism, harassment and violence. What we now need is the political will at the highest level to make it happen.”


The IPU is the global organization of national parliaments. It was founded more than 133 years ago as the first multilateral political organization in the world, encouraging cooperation and dialogue between all nations. Today, the IPU comprises 178 national Member Parliaments and 14 regional parliamentary bodies. It promotes democracy and helps parliaments become stronger, younger, gender-balanced and more representative. It also defends the human rights of parliamentarians through a dedicated committee made up of MPs from around the world.