Working for water and peace in the Tessalit area of Mali

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article received CPNN from Bakrene Ag Sidimohamed

To work for peace in the Tessalit area in the North of Mali, we need to develop actions for the control and sharing of water resources.

I. Introduction

The Tessalit region located in the far north of Mali just on the Algerian border is characterized by large-scale livestock activity, 80% of the populations are involved in livestock breeding (breeding of camels, cows, goats and sheep).

Livestock in addition to being a source of nutrition thanks to milk, cheese, butter and meat, is also an income-generating activity through the marketing of animals.

When we talk about livestock we are necessarily talking about pastures and water sources.

From 2012 to 2024 (start of the new instability in northern Mali) the practice of livestock farming increased significantly due to the economic growth of the Tessalit area and the interest of communities in the raising of animals.

This growth has had a direct and significant impact on the daily use of water points in areas with extensive grazing and especially during periods of extreme heat; thus creating traffic jams of people and their herds at water points for almost 24 hours a day.

This is a problem everywhere, including at very few existing sources created by drilling wells thanks to development partners such as MINUSMA and international NGOs.

Because of the intense competition people often get carried away by their emotions and lose their reasoning, causing disagreements and misunderstandings.

It is generally observed that the owners of water sources and the indigenous communities of a grazing site are disturbed by the regular arrival of other communities in search of water to water their herds and for their own consumption; hence the origin of a large part of inter- and intra-community conflicts.

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(Click here for the original article in French

Question for this article:

Scarcity of water: A growing source of conflict?

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These conflicts around water sources are regularly fueled by political and ideological oppositions and also external exploitation. Water being the main source of life in the greater SAHARA is regularly used by conflict actors as alibis to fuel tensions between communities and thus weaken the social fabric.

Rational management of water points is the best way to prevent and manage conflicts in the localities of northern Mali.

II. Challenges Related to Water Management

It is noted that several factors explain the insufficiency of water in the Tessalit area: we can speak of low rainfall and an often empty water table, abusive use of water in mining sites during the exploitation and artisanal refining of gold, great desertification linked to climate change and deforestation, the commercialization of water towards cities and above all the significant growth of herds.

Given these different natural and human phenomena, the following practices are needed for the rational and equitable management of water and above all maintaining peaceful coexistence within communities.

III. Recommendations

To restore and consolidate social cohesion around water points, certain actions constitute essential tools for the stability of the area.

° Establish and maintain management committees at public water sources
.
° Ask traditional authorities (fraction leaders, imams) to regularly disseminate awareness-raising messages and human habits favorable to living together.

° Separate water points for domestic use from those for commercial use while instructing gold miners to produce their own sources on their work sites.

° Advocate with development partners for the construction of mini-dams and water reservoirs.

° Organise awareness sessions for economic operators and large breeders
to drill for water in large pasture environments

° Develop citizen management committees at water sources and raise awareness among nomadic populations for the sharing of water resources

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The Inter-Malian Dialogue for Peace and National Reconciliation

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

A survey by CPNN based on multiple sources as shown (translation by CPNN)

Last month, we published on CPNN the proposal from Mali’s military leaders, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, for an Inter-Malian Dialogue for Peace and National Reconciliation. Since the dialogue concluded on May 10 and presented its recommendations, we searched the results online and found contradictions, depending on the country providing the narrative.


Photo by Maliweb

The official version, published by the presidency of Mali, included the following:

“Several recommendations and resolutions emerged from this national process. Boubacar SOW, General Rapporteur of the Steering Committee of the Inter-Malian Dialogue for Peace and National Reconciliation, summarized the recommendations resulting from the deliberations, including the creation of a framework of permanent dialogue, the dissolution of self-defense militias, and the use of local traditions for conflict management.

“Certain recommendations also aim to reduce public spending, create industrial units and promote entrepreneurship. Securing borders and creating a memorial site for the nation’s martyrs have also been suggested.

“Ousmane Issoufi MAIGA, President of the Steering Committee, affirmed that the dialogue had been a democratic and inclusive process, meeting the expectations of Malians for a new peace architecture based on endogenous values.

“President GOÏTA’s speech and the recommendations resulting from the dialogue mark a decisive turning point for Mali, promising profound transformations in the political, social, security, diplomatic and economic landscape of the country.”

An article in Maliweb added more details:

“On another note, it must be a priority to know Mali first through its history and geography in order to serve it. To do this, the delegates recommended the “compulsory” teaching of the history and geography of Mali in schools up to the university They also recommended “engaging in dialogue with all Malian armed movements.” They recommended the creation of “deradicalization structures” to promote education in the Mali culture of peace. In addition to all this, for the project of peace and reconciliation, the participants wished for the “Repatriation of the deplaced” who wish to return to their country.

“Regarding political and institutional issues, the participants asked to “harden” the conditions for the creation and to reduce the number and financing of political parties. Also to prohibit religious and village leaders from engaging in the political activism, to extend the transition from 2 to 5 years and to encourage the candidacy of Colonel Assimi Goïta in the next presidential election. They also expressed their wish to see Colonels Goïta, Diaw, Camara, Wagué , Koné and Maïga “elevated to the rank of general”. “Consensus” around the transition was desired by the delegates for its recovery and stability, they did not joke about “Control of the editorial line of preaching by religious people”. Independence of justice and the transparency of the judicial chain and the acceleration of “ongoing legal procedures” were also strong recommendations.”

The preceding articles were supported by articles published or republished in Niger, in Morocco, in Chad and in Turkey.

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

Question related to this article:

How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?

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The article published in Niger, a neighboring country that recently experienced a similar military coup against French rule, was particularly positive:

“In addition, the start of the operational phase was given on April 2, 2024, marking the start of a series of meetings orchestrated by the Steering Committee. These brought together a mosaic of national actors: republican institutions , customary authorities, religious leaders, political groups and representatives of civil society, with particular attention paid to women and youth.

“Similarly, the consultative meetings, held from April 13 to 15 in 763 communes and from April 20 to 22 in Bamako as well as in the 19 administrative regions, were distinguished by their participatory and inclusive character. The national mobilization was strong, each component of society having had the opportunity to contribute to the discussions.

“Moreover, the national phase of the Dialogue stood out for its exceptional participation, testifying to the representativeness of delegates from various horizons of Malian society. The regions, the district of Bamako, the diaspora, refugees, universities, the unions and the business community have all responded.

“Finally, this dialogue process illustrates the determination of the Malian people to forge, from within, solutions to the multiple challenges that are hampering their momentum towards progress and development. By adopting an inclusive and participatory approach, Mali is committed firmly on the path to consolidating peace and working for the advent of a stable and prosperous future, a promise of harmony for all of its citizens.”

The articles published in France are negative.

Le Monde republished a press release from a collective of Malian civil society parties and organizations which denounced the process as a “masquerade”, saying that the military “wants to persist in power by taking Mali hostage and the Malians.” They added that “the authorities ignore the daily difficulties of Malians, faced with insecurity, the high cost of living, unemployment and power cuts, and “have demonstrated their notorious incapacity to provide the slightest beginning of a solution.”

Radio France Internationale wrote that “the political parties of the Declaration of March 31, a coalition which brings together almost all Malian parties, all tendencies combined, reject the conclusions of this dialogue described as a “grotesque political trap”. In their eyes, the Malians “have been duped.” For the Malian political parties, whose activities were suspended last month, the objective of the colonels who have ruled the country for almost four years is clear: “They want to stay in power. by taking Mali and the Malians hostage.”

The article in Radio France Internationale was republished by Yahoo News and by All Africa.

The critique by the coalition of political parties of the March 31 Declaration was published in detail by Seneplus, based in Senegal.

Some other sources based in Africa were also critical, but to a lesser extent than those based in France.

An article from Bamada.net, based in Mali, says that “On reading certain recommendations, one easily understands that the Steering Committee was, at a given moment, carried away by the facts. This is why in the final document, no recommendations concern the guarantee of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as well as the accountability of the authorities towards taxpayers And yet these elements are essential for lasting peace.”

An article by LePays, based in Burkina Faso, says that “a good number of Malians did not take part in the talks and therefore do not feel committed to the conclusions that emerged. This is the case of a significant segment of the political class, civil society and armed groups in the North. These excluded from dialogue do not intend to watch, idly, the confiscation of power in Mali and are preparing to use all means at their disposal to be heard. . . . We cannot help but say that the discordant voices which are heard at the end of this dialogue process prove, once again, that the Malians have placed the emphasis on what divides them more than on what unites them.”
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Egypt: Role of Universities in Building Bridges of Understanding and Peace between East and West” International Conference

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An announcement from Alexandria University

Yesterday (May 15), the recommendations of the international conference entitled “The Role of Universities in Building Bridges of Understanding and Peace between the East and the West,” were announced.

The conference is organized by Alexandria University, the Association of Islamic Universities, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and Al-Alamein International University. Participants included a large number of symbols of the academic and cultural community, ambassadors and consuls of Arab countries, members of the House of Representatives and Senate, vice presidents of the university, as well as deans, vice deans, and students of various faculties.


Dr. Sami El-Sherif, Secretary-General of the Association of Islamic Universities, indicated that the conference’s recommendations included emphasizing that dialogue and understanding are the only way to sustain life on planet Earth, and the necessity of attention and hard work in order to spread the culture of dialogue, and recognition of the other’s right to human brotherhood, and the emphasis on spreading the culture of peace and coexistence. among all human beings, consolidating the ideals of peace and coexistence among various countries and peoples, providing protection and intellectual fortification for young people against all attempts of false awareness and brainwashing, for the benefit of regional and international powers seeking to control the nation’s youth, and calling on international institutions and organizations to carry out their duties in supporting aspects of truth, justice, equality and achieving the interests of the international community in general, and the need for universities to assume their responsibilities to develop a comprehensive strategy to confront extremism and terrorism, and expand the circle of confrontation to include besieging extremist individuals, groups and countries and preventing them from spreading their destructive ideas.
 
He added that the recommendations included emphasizing the role of universities in supporting research projects and scientific papers in multiple languages and publishing this output through scientific institutions and major international publishing houses, and the need to support all universities and educational institutions to consolidate their academic and research relations with international universities with the aim of cooperating in the field of combating terrorism and extremist ideology, and working to spread enlightened thought, and focusing on highlighting international initiatives and the initiatives of civil society organizations calling for understanding and dialogue, calling on universities to enrich the translation movement for scientific and cultural production in foreign languages and paying attention to translating books, studies, scientific research and publications produced by specialized international universities of value into the Arabic language, also calling on universities to adopt new ideas and innovations that would enrich dialogue and deepen cultural and human communication, and paying attention to developing scholarship programs for university employees to benefit from the modern technical, scientific and academic developments of highly-ranked international universities.
 
Participants in “Role of Universities in Building Bridges of Understanding and Peace between East and West” International Conference Emphasize Universities’ Role in Building Bridges and Enriching Youth Awareness

Created: 15 May 2024
 
Under the title “The Role of Universities in Supporting Dialogue and Understanding,” the activities of the first session of the International Conference “The Role of Universities in Building Bridges of Understanding and Peace between the East and the West” were held today, organized by Alexandria University, the Association of Islamic Universities, Bibliotheca Alexandrinq, and Al-Alamein International University, in the presence of a large number of prominent figures from the academic and cultural communities, ambassadors and consuls of Arab countries, members of the House of Representatives and Senate, vice presidents of the university, deans, vice deans and students of various faculties.
 
The session was chaired by Professor Dr. Abdelaziz Konsowa, President of Alexandria University, with the participation of Dr. Mofid Shehab, former Minister of Higher Education. In his speech, Dr. Shehab pointed out the importance of the conference, which highlights how to help societies achieve peaceful coexistence, and the role of universities in Islamic countries in supporting dialogue between the East and the West, by participating in building dialogue channels and setting rules for this dialogue to ensure its continuity and that its programs are practical and applicable.
 
Ambassador Nabila Makram, former Minister of State for Egyptians Abroad Affairs, pointed out the importance of the role of universities in enriching youth awareness and developing their abilities for dialogue, stressing the importance of preserving the mental health of young people who suffer from many challenges such as alienation and bullying. She praised the role played by psychological support units in faculties in helping students and opening prospects for dialogue to confront isolationism and extremism.
 
Dr. Mohamed Sami Abdelsadek, Vice President of Cairo University for Community Service and Environmental Development Affairs, pointed out that Cairo University is making great efforts to support dialogue as a lofty cultural value through joint academic degrees and bringing in foreign professors from various specializations. He stressed the need to focus on the critical thinking course for various students, dialogue activities between Egyptian and international students, and the Office for Promoting National and Heritage Identity.

Dr. Roshdi Zahran, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Al-Alamein International University, explained the role of universities in building bridges of understanding and peace in light of a world full of wars and conflicts, where universities work in addition to their academic role as cultural, intellectual, knowledge and creative centres through curricula, scientific programs, joint scientific research and various cultural activities to enhance the concept of dialogue, understanding and tolerance.
 
The session witnessed recorded interventions by Dr. Abdelhak Azouzi, Chairman of the Alliance of Civilizations in Morocco, and Dr. Abdelaziz Barghouth, President of the International Institute for Islamic Civilization and Thought and Vice President of the International Islamic University in Malaysia, to clarify the importance of the role of universities in spreading the values of peace, coexistence and dialogue among young people.
 
The second session was held under the chairmanship of Dr. Essam El-Kurdi, President of Al-Alamein International University, while participants included Dr. Abdelhay Azab, former President of Al-Azhar University, Dr. Fathi Abu-Ayana, former President of Beirut Arab University, and Dr. Hussein Amin, Director of the “Kamal Adham” Center at the American University, also participated from abroad Dr. Abdulmajid bin Abdullah Al-Benyan, President of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, where they talked about the role of universities in promoting human values, and the main human values that universities must promote to spread the goals of dialogue and tolerance among university students, the role of Alexandria University in spreading the culture of tolerance, and the role of universities in creating the appropriate environment to enrich dialogue and understanding between different peoples and civilizations.

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Question for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

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Inauguration of International Conference on “Role of Universities in Enriching Bridges of Understanding and Peace between East and West”

Professor Dr. Abdelaziz Konsowa, President of Alexandria University, His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa, President of the Association of Islamic Universities, Dr. Ahmed Zayed, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina , and Dr. Essam El-Kurdi, President of Al-Alamein International University, inaugurated today, Wednesday 15 May 2024, the activities of the International Conference of the Association of Islamic Universities, which was held under the title “The Role of Universities in Enriching Bridges of Understanding and Peace between the East,” in the presence of Dr. Osama El-Azhari, Advisor to the President of the Republic for Religious Affairs, Dr. Jacqueline Azer, Deputy Governor of Alexandria, Dr. Sami El-Sherif, Secretary-General of the Association ofIslamic Universities, and Bishop Bavli, the General Bishop of the Montaza and Alexandria Youth Churches, in addition to former presidents and vice presidents of the University, deans and vice deans of faculties and institutes of Alexandria University, a group of ambassadors and consuls of Arab countries, members of the House of Representatives and Senate, and university students.
 
In his speech, Dr. Konsowa stressed that universities in the East and the West are keen to play their role in building bridges of cooperation and dialogue, which are the two elements on which all positive relations between people are based, despite their differences. He pointed out that the means of dialogue and understanding lie in listening well to the other, expressing clearly, accepting the other, respecting different thought and avoiding bias, which are all pillars of dialogue that bring us together to reach humanity’s desired goal of achieving the dream of peace.
 
He added that universities have an essential role in achieving this highest goal, as they work to provide an environment for dialogue and platforms for open discussion that enhance social cultural diversity, and encourage understanding and tolerance in their programs, as well as encouraging scientific research that addresses the issues of different cultures and how to coexist with them, in addition to providing cultural exchange programs and the exchange of students and professors to enhance mutual understanding through their exposure to different languages, cultures, and viewpoints.
 
In this regard, Konsowa stressed that the university has established cross-disciplinary programs that focus on the relations between the East and the West and cover all scientific fields, to give students and researchers insights that enable them to recognize the differences between cultures, as well as creating language education programs that expand to include the languages of the East and the West, and the different cultures, values and customs that the languages carry. He added that the university also organizes conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and public lectures displaying the richness and diversity of other cultures. Konsowa pointed out that Alexandria University established the University of Beirut in 1960, and in 1972 it established the Centre for Graduate Studies and Research in cooperation with UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme. In 1985, the university established a centre for teaching Arabic to non-native speakers, and in 2010 the university established a branch in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena, as the first branch of an Egyptian university in the African region. In the same year the establishment of a branch of Alexandria University in the city of Tonj in South Sudan began, and another branch is being established in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. All this comes within the framework of the Egyptian state’s keenness, represented by Alexandria University, to extend bridges of cooperation with brothers on the African continent and the Nile Basin countries. At the end of his speech, the University President saluted the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza who are steadfast in the face of the brutal Israeli aggression.
 
His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa stressed the importance of the conference, which is an important start for strengthening cultural and civilizational construction through building bridges of understanding between different cultures and not abstract dialogue, so that the conference produces tangible valuable results. He pointed out that the world witnessed unfortunate debates and theories about the clash between the East and the West, pointing to the initiative that he presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in New York to reduce the gaps between the East and the West by organizing a conference for this purpose, which was greatly welcomed. His Excellency Sheikh Al-Issa added that the message of the Association is love and peace through effective initiatives and mobilizing the aspirations of universities in our Arab and Islamic world to move forward, providing solid, rational thought, not randomness, and playing their role in enhancing awareness through school curricula. He also pointed to the role of the family and educational institutions, starting with the school and then the university, and the influence of religion, so that they all do their part to enhance cultural construction. He also pointed to the Medina Document as the first document to consolidate the values of human brotherhood, peaceful and societal coexistence.
 
While Dr. Ahmed Zayed expressed his thanks and gratitude for choosing Bibliotheca Alexandrina to hold this important conference, which includes a huge crowd of thinkers and creators in the Arab world, pointing to the changes, wars and woes the world is witnessing, hence the urgent need to hold intellectual forums organized by universities, for their role in spreading understanding and cooperation between the East and the West, instilling understanding through universities, providing scientific research to monitor the successes and failures of the world, and developing school curricula so that young people can build a new world that is richer and more peaceful, learning about human issues away from extremism. At the end of his speech, Zayed stressed that Bibliotheca Alexandrina will organize the “Bibliotheca Alexandrina Forum for International Peace and Tolerance,” which will be held annually in order for the Alexandria Library to present a message to the world which contains the Egyptian point of view on understanding and coexistence among peoples and acceptance of others.
 
While Dr. Essam El-Kurdi confirmed that this conference is being held based on the initiative launched by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohamed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, President of the Association of Islamic Universities and Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, from the United Nations platform, entitled Building Bridges of Understanding and Peace between the East and the West. He stressed that today’s sessions discuss the role of universities to enrich building the bridges of understanding and peace between the East and the West, which is an important issue in international relations and international cooperation. He pointed out that the East and the West represent multiple and different geographical and cultural regions and share many common issues and challenges facing them in general. He stressed that universities play an important role in promoting understanding and cooperation between different cultures, as they are the place where young people from different social, cultural and religious backgrounds meet, and through these educational programs, student activities and scientific research, universities are adopting new ideas and innovations to enhance mutual understanding and respect between students from the East and the West, where students live in a multicultural environment, which contributes to increasing awareness and tolerance among them, in addition to the role of universities in providing protection and intellectual fortification for young people against all attempts to falsify awareness, and helping them build global networks for cooperation.
 
Dr. Sami El-Sherif, Secretary of the Association of Islamic Universities, pointed out that disagreement is a universal norm, and there must be communication between civilizations, and all institutions of society are required to play their role, especially universities, as they are among the largest institutions entrusted with building the character of students and training them in the etiquette of dialogue and the culture of difference. He added that the Association is working on integration and coordination among all its members, with the aim to develop programs and contribute to finding solutions to the problems facing the Islamic world by upholding the values of brotherhood, tolerance and peace among people.
 
While Dr. Jacqueline Azar pointed out the importance of the conference, especially since the world today is witnessing a continuous increase in cultural diversity, and this diversity is an opportunity for learning and understanding. She stressed that universities play an important role in achieving cooperation and understanding and spreading the culture of coexistence and understanding among individuals, adding that the topic of this conference is consistent with the vision of the Egyptian state, led by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, stressing the necessity of coexistence and acceptance of others, and spreading a culture of peace to encourage learning about different cultures to enhance understanding and coexistence with others.

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UN General Assembly presses Security Council to give ‘favourable consideration’ to full Palestinian membership

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

A news release from the United Nations

The UN General Assembly convened again in New York on Friday (May 10) for an emergency special session on the Gaza crisis and overwhelmingly passed a resolution which upgrades Palestine’s rights at the world body as an Observer State, without offering full membership. It urged the Security Council to give “favourable consideration” to Palestine’s request.

What does the resolution mean?

Here’s a quick recap of what this means: by adopting this resolution the General Assembly will upgrade the rights of the State of Palestine within the world body, but not the right to vote or put forward its candidature to such organs as the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Granting Palestinian membership requires a recommendation from the Security Council. At the same time, the Assembly determines that the State of Palestine is qualified for such status and recommends that the Security Council “reconsider the matter favourably”.

(Editor’s note: The negative vote of the United States on this resolution and their remarks quoted below suggest that they will continue to veto any resolution for UN membership of Palestine at the Security Council, as they did most recently on April 18).

None of the upgrades in status will take effect until the new session of the Assembly opens on 10 September.

Here are some of the changes in status that Palestine will have a right to later this year:

1. To be seated among Member States in alphabetical order
2. Make statements on behalf of a group
3. Submit proposals and amendments and introduce them
4. Co-sponsor proposals and amendments, including on behalf of a group
5. Propose items to be included in the provisional agenda of the regular or special sessions and the right to request the inclusion of supplementary or additional items in the agenda of regular or special sessions
6. The right of members of the delegation of the State of Palestine to be elected as officers in the plenary and the Main Committees of the General Assembly
7. Full and effective participation in UN conferences and international conferences and meetings convened under the auspices of the General Assembly or, as appropriate, of other UN organs

4:59 PM

Saudi Arabia: Re-establish the truth

Saudi Arabian Ambassador Abdulaziz Alwasil recalled General Assembly resolutions adopted over the years that reaffirmed the rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination.

“The resolution presented today is fully in line with those resolutions. It seeks to implement the will of the international community and contribute to building true peace in the Middle East based on the two-State solution,” he said.

“It is high time for the international community to re-establish the truth because the world can no longer ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people that has lasted for decades,” he added.

Ambassador Alwasil further noted Israel, the occupying power, has perpetrated “all sorts of crimes” against Palestinian people, scorning international law.

“Israel is convinced that they are above these resolutions and that they enjoy a certain level of immunity…which explains their ongoing hostile and brutal policies,” he said.

He highlighted the dire situation in Rafah, the last refuge for the Palestinian people which was also densely populated by those displaced from elsewhere and called he for a strong international position to put an end to the Israeli practices in Gaza.

Concluding his statement, the Ambassador expressed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting the right of Palestinian people to self-determination and to build their own independent State within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with relevant resolutions. 

4:43 PM

China: Resolution reflects the will of the international community

Ambassador FU Cong of China said that Palestine should have the same status as Israel and that Palestinian people should enjoy the same rights as Israeli people.

“It is the common responsibility of the international community to support and advance the process of Palestinian independent Statehood, and provide strong support for the implementation of the two-State solution and a lasting peace in the Middle East,” he said.

He further noted that on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, the United States repeatedly used its veto “in an unjustified attempt” to obstruct the international community’s efforts to correct the “historical injustice long visited on Palestine”.

“It is not commensurate with the role of a responsible major country,” he said.

He also recalled the overwhelming support for the General Assembly resolution, adopted earlier in the day, reaffirming the right of Palestinian people to self-determination and recommending that the Security Council reconsider favourably its application to join the United Nations.

“China welcomes this historic resolution, which reflects the will of the international community,” Ambassador Fu said.

“We believe that the special modalities adopted within the limits permitted by the UN Charter will enable the international community to listen more adequately to the voice of Palestine and help it to talk and negotiate with Israel on a more equal footing.”

3:04 PM

Assembly President Francis resumed the meeting, with about 72 speakers left to take the floor. The spokesperson for the General Assembly announced earlier in the day that due to the number of remaining speakers, the meeting will likely continue on Monday.

1:07 PM

With the last speaker for the morning having delivered their statement, the President of the General Assembly adjourned the meeting. It will reconvene at 3 PM New York time.

1:00 PM

Switzerland: Ceasefire urgently needed

Swiss Ambassador Pascale Christine Baeriswyl explained that her country’s abstention from the vote was in line with its position at the Security Council last month.

“We felt that in view of the great instability prevailing in the region, this stage was not conducive to improving the situation,” she said.

“Without opposing it, we believe it would be preferable to consider admitting Palestine as a full member of the United Nations at time when such a step would insert itself in the logic of emerging peace,” she added, noting that such admission would have to follow the procedures enshrined in the UN Charter.

She also voiced Switzerland’s firm support to the two-State solution, stating that only a negotiated solution in which two States – Israel and Palestine – live side by side in peace and security can lead to lasting peace.

Ambassador Baeriswyl also voiced deep concern over the catastrophic situation of civilians in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, stating that it could worsen further in the event of a major Israeli military offensive in Rafah.

“Such a prospect is unacceptable, and Switzerland reaffirms its opposition to such an operation,” she said, emphasising the need to ensure protection of humanitarians and respect for international humanitarian and human rights laws.

In conclusion, she called for an immediate ceasefire.

“Safety of civilians must be ensured. All hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally, and safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid must be allowed via all crossing points.”

12:10 PM

Firmly committed to two-State solution: UK

Barbara Woodward, Ambassador of the United Kingdom, said that her country remains “firmly committed” to the two-State solution that guarantees security and stability for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.

“We are abstaining from this resolution because we believe the first step towards achieving this goal is resolving the immediate crisis in Gaza,” she said, emphasising that the fastest way to end the conflict is “to secure a deal which gets the hostages out and allows for a pause in the fighting”.

“We must then work together to turn that pause into a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”

She added that “setting out the horizon” for a Palestinian State should be one of the vital conditions from moving from a pause in fighting to a sustainable ceasefire.

“Recognising a Palestinian State, including at the UN, should be part of that process,” she said.

Ambassador Woodward also noted that the UK remains deeply concerned about the prospect of a major operation in Rafah and that it will not support such an act, unless there is a “very clear plan” on protecting civilians as well as their access to aid and medical care.

“We have not seen that plan, so in these circumstances, we will not support a major operation in Rafah,” she said.

11:58 AM

France: High time for political solution

French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said his country voted in favour of the resolution, noting also the clarifications provided in the text on the right to vote and the right to be elected, which are the prerogatives of Member States alone.

“France recalls that the procedure for admitting a new Member State is defined by the UN Charter, and it must not be circumvented,” he said.

He also noted that France is in favour of the admission of Palestine as a full member of the Organization, which is why it voted in favour at the Security Council last month.

Reiterating his country’s condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas and other groups on 7 October, Ambassador de Rivière stated France’s demand for a ceasefire and release of all hostages.

“The offensive that has started in Rafah risks causing numerous victims and displacing people at a time where nowhere can be deemed safe today in Gaza. There is further risk of disrupting delivery of aid,” he said, expressing his country’s opposition to the military operation.

“All parties must do everything they can to protect civilians and guarantee access for humanitarian aid. It is high time to mobilise for a political solution,” he added.

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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

(continued from left column)

11:46 AM

Statehood must be negotiated: US

Explaining the US’s negative vote, Ambassador Robert Wood said that it did not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood.

“We have been very clear that we support it and seek to advance it meaningfully. Instead, it is an acknowledgement that statehood will come from a process that involves direct negotiations between the parties,” he said.

“There is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and future as a democratic Jewish State. There is no other path that guarantees Palestinians can live in peace and dignity in a State of their own,” he added.

He further expressed the US commitment to intensifying its engagement with Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East region to advance a political settlement that will create a path to Palestinian statehood and subsequent membership in the UN.

“This resolution does not resolve the concerns about the Palestinian membership application raised in April in the Security Council…and should the  Security Council take up the Palestinian membership application as a result of this resolution, there will be a similar outcome,” he said.

11:24 AM

Draft resolution passed overwhelmingly

The vote is in. It has passed overwhelmingly with 143 countries in favour, nine against and 25 abstaining.

11:22 AM

The Assembly just voted to pass the draft resolution as long as two thirds agree.

11:18 AM

Pakistan: Resolution vote will determine strong support

Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan said there will come a day when Israel will be held accountable for the crimes committed against Palestinians, especially in Gaza.

The insults hurled today are “the arrogance of the aggressor” reflecting the impunity of the occupier, he said, explaining his delegation’s position ahead of the vote on the draft resolution.

He also expressed hope that the international community will appropriately respond in that regard.

The Ambassador underscored that the resolution’s adoption will determine the widespread support for Palestine to be accorded full UN membership.

11:05 AM

Russia: A moral duty

The Assembly is now preparing to vote on the draft resolution.

Before that, some countries are exercising their right to make statements before the vote, starting with Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

He is criticising the US, saying that the resolution is complicated because it is attempting to advance Palestinian membership as far as possible without provoking another veto from Washington on full membership.

He said Palestine deserves nothing less than full membership at the UN. 

“It is the moral duty of everyone,” he said.

“Only full-fledged membership will allow Palestine to stand alongside other members of the Organization and enjoy the rights that this status implies.”

10:55 AM

Israel: Extra benefits for Palestine would appease terrorists

Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdan said that after Hitler’s rise to power, the Nazis had sought to annihilate the Jewish people and all those they deemed sub-human, but the forces of good fought to return peace to the world, and the UN was founded to ensure that such tyranny never raised its head again.

“Today, you are doing the opposite…welcoming a terror State into its ranks,” he said. 

“You have opened up the United Nations to modern-day Naziism. It makes me sick.”

The terrorist group Hamas controls Gaza and has taken over areas of the West Bank, he said, holding up a poster showing Hamas’s leader, who he described as “a terrorist diplomat whose stated goal is Jewish genocide”.

“Today, you have a choice between weakness and fighting terror,” he said, adding that the UN is appeasing “murderous dictators” and destroying the UN Charter. “This day will go down in infamy.”

In closing, he held up a mini portable electric document shredder and inserted the cover of the UN Charter.

10:48 AM

Palestinian flag ‘flies high and proud’

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the observer State of Palestine, recounted the devastating impacts of the ongoing war in Gaza, with over 35,000 Palestinians killed, a further 80,000 injured and over two million displaced.

“No words can capture what such loss and trauma signify for Palestinians, their families, their communities and for our nation as whole,” he said.

He added that the Palestinians in Gaza have been pushed to the “very edge” of the Strip “to the very brink of life” with “bombs and bullets haunting them”.

Mr. Mansour highlighted that despite the attacks and destruction, the flag of Palestine “flies high and proud” in Palestine and across the globe, becoming a “symbol raised by all those who believe in freedom and its just rule”.

‘Lives cannot be restored’

“It is true that we will not disappear, but the lives lost cannot be restored,” he stated.

The Permanent Observer said people have to make a decision: stand by the right of a nation to live in freedom and dignity on its ancestral land, standing with peace and recognising the rights of Palestinians or they can stand on the sidelines of history.

Mr. Mansour said after holding observer status for 50 years, “we wish from all those who invoke the UN Charter to abide by the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination guaranteed by the Charter.”

“A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for Palestinian existence; it is not against any State, but it is against attempts to deprive us of our State,” he added, stating that it would be an investment in peace and empowering the forces of peace.

10:29 AM

Security Council must heed global call for Palestinian statehood: UAE

On behalf of the Arab Group, Mohamed Issa Hamad Mohamed Abushahab, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN, introduced the draft resolution, saying it recommends that the Security Council reconsider Palestine’s full UN membership application.

“Today marks a defining moment,” he said.

The State of Palestine has demonstrated that it deserves full membership in the international community by acceding to international treaties, adhering to the UN Charter and meeting requirements of statehood. In addition, more than 140 countries now recognise Palestine as a State, he said.

Voting for the resolution amid the ongoing conflict would support the two-State solution to the crisis, he said, adding that the Security Council must respond to the will of the international community.

Vote to take place at 11:00 AM

After delivering his statement, the UAE Ambassador called on the Assembly to vote on the draft at 11:00 AM New York time.

Members agreed to do so and would afterwards resume the debate.

10:17 AM

Middle East on course for ‘full-scale catastrophe’, warns General Assembly President Dennis Francis

Mr. Francis said from the podium of the Assembly Hall that the Israel-Palestine crisis was the original crisis before the world body when it was founded in 1946.

Peace has remained elusive, and today has become an untenable situation that is deteriorating “at an alarming speed”, he told delegates.

This is “bringing countless innocent victims into its deadly fold and pushing the region further to the brink of full-scale catastrophe”.

He urged the international community to not look away from the dire situation that has unfolded since the  7 October terror attacks and the ensuing Israeli devastation of Gaza.

End the scourge of war

“Today, let us remember the legacy from which we hail. We stand proudly upon the shoulders of those who, many decades ago, recognised their ultimate responsibility to forge a peace that will banish the scourge and terror of war,” he urged.

“I therefore call upon the membership to purposely assess the situation before us, with nothing else in mind but a commitment to peace as our utmost ambition,” he said.

He called upon the parties to the conflict, supported by nations with leverage, to urgently come to an agreement on a ceasefire to bring to an end to the suffering of countless people and secure the release of all hostages.

“We must believe in the essential goodness of others,” he said, and “in the understanding that no problem of human relations is insoluble”, calling on them to help bring lasting peace, save lives and end the violence.

10:14 AM

He’s inviting the Assembly to recognise the fact that some members are in arrears with their mandatory contributions. If you don’t pay up, you lose your vote. Those are the rules. But, there are exceptions that have been made, including today. 

10:12 AM

The President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis has just gavelled in the resumed session on the Gaza crisis.

09:55 AM

Aid operations have come to a standstill since the start of the military’s ground operation in Rafah this week, with an estimated 100,000 Palestinians displaced once again in a highly fluid situation, according to humanitarians.

The Assembly is also expected to vote on a draft resolution, co-sponsored by a group of countries, concerning the status of the observer State of Palestine at the United Nations.

Read our explainer on Palestine’s status at the UN here.

The draft resolution follows the veto cast by United States at the Security Council on 18 April, which blocked Palestine’s admission as a full UN Member State. That draft resolution, submitted by non-permanent Council member Algeria, had received 12 votes in favour, with Switzerland and the United Kingdom abstaining.

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UN Women: Rebuilding the women’s movement in Afghanistan, one organization at a time

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from UN Women

After the Taliban takeover, former magazine-owner Siamoy* redirected her work towards women’s empowerment and capacity-building. Focusing on the most vulnerable women, including illiterate women and women with disabilities, her NGO now provides training and start-up funding for women-led businesses in five provinces.

“UN Women gave us hope – the kind of hope I had lost after the Taliban takeover,” says Siamoy. “I was in a deep depression. I thought I would go crazy. I had lost everything. … But now, thanks to UN Women, I have an office and employees.”

Hers is among the 113 women’s organizations being supported across 19 provinces through the ‘Rebuilding the Women’s Movement in Afghanistan’ programme. Launched in mid-2022, the UN Women programme provides tailored training, skills-building and seed funds for small-scale initiatives.


UN Women’s support includes a comprehensive set of training to help women’s organizations improve the way they operate. Photo: UN Women/Sayed Habib Bidell

Women’s rights and employment in Afghanistan 

According to International Labour Organization data, women’s employment rate was 25 per cent lower by the end of 2022 compared to before the Taliban takeover in 2021. With women also banned from working in national and international NGOs as of December 2022, and allowed to pursue a limited number of professions and run home-based small businesses, this programme is providing an essential lifeline for women to build their skills for future work and restore their hope.

“In this difficult situation, UN Women is standing with us,” adds Siamoy. “We will get stronger through this support. If we support 20 women, those women will help another 20 women.”

Since partnering with UN Women in October 2023, Siamoy is now able to pay seven full-time employees. They’ve also received five training sessions on strategic planning and project management.

“The training on project management is one of the best I’ve ever received,” she says. “I’ve changed some of my goals. I don’t want to work for just 20 or 40 women in Faryab anymore. I want to work for 500 to 1,000 women across Afghanistan. I don’t just want to give them tailoring machines. I want to build a factory for them to have a lifetime source of income. I’m dreaming big now.”

In a village in Ghor Province*, 43-year-old Bita* secretly surveys women to find out who are most in need. She established a local organization in 2011 that ran projects for elderly women but had to cease its activities. It wasn’t until 2022 that she was able to revive it, after partnering with UN Women.

(continued in right column)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

(continued from left column)

“When we established our organization, we had just a few members, no formal policies, plans or real structure,” Bita admits. “But a UN Women colleague supported us with developing a policy. Another colleague helped us devise our organization’s structure.  … This has boosted our confidence.”

Building skills, capacity and hope for women in Afghanistan

In Mazar, Balkh Province, 30-year-old Najiba* had established a women’s organization in 2019 and was working as a manager at a private company. But after losing her job following the Taliban takeover, she decided to focus her energy on her organization.

With support from UN Women since January 2024, Najiba can now pay her 10 employees, who hadn’t earned any income since joining. She says training on management, monitoring and proposal-writing have all been extremely helpful.

“We now have a lot of information, which has opened a window of hope for us, especially on safeguarding [beneficiaries from risks] – a topic we learned about for the first time. Trainings on how to make policies and define our goals have also helped us refine and make ours more professional,” says Najiba.

In Baghlan, 23-year-old former medical student Kamela* is a programme officer with a women-led organization dedicated to capacity-building for women and youth, who also received training from UN Women on project management.

“A key lesson I took from the training is my value as a programme manager. Employees have power and I must recognize my power and that what I am doing is really important,” says Kamela.

“The training motivates us to do more. … we’re starting from the ground-up to help each other. UN Women is so supportive, regularly coming to our office to coach us. They tell us that we are doing good, then tell us how we can do things even better. They tell us how to be more impactful with our actions and guide us step-by-step and face-to-face. When we go to the UN Women office, they convey knowledge in a way that really motivates us.”

According to UN Women Special Representative in Afghanistan Alison Davidian, supporting women-led grass-roots organizations is not only helping to keep them afloat but preparing them for future larger-scale work: “This is UN Women’s value added – our commitment to investing in women’s organizations, not only financially but through long-term, consistent technical investment and capacity-building to ensure their success, motivate them and promote their sustainability.”

As of May 2024, the “Rebuilding the Women’s Movement in Afghanistan” flagship programme has partnered with 113 organizations in 19 provinces and supported at least 515 women earn salaries. This programme is made possible through the generous support of donors including: the Governments of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

* Names, locations, and details changed to protect the identity of the protagonists. They are also not shown in the accompanying photos.

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“Workers Have Power”: Thousands Rally in NYC for May Day, Call for Solidarity with Palestine

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

A report from Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!

Workers around the world rallied Wednesday to mark May Day, with many calling on the labor movement to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause. In New York, Democracy Now! spoke to demonstrators who demanded that U.S. unions apply political pressure for a ceasefire in Gaza and to stop their government’s arms trade with Israel. “Workers do have the power to shape the world,” said Palestinian researcher Riya Al’sanah, who was among thousands gathered at a May Day rally in Manhattan.


Jamil Madbak speaking on the video

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org.
We end today’s show on yesterday’s May Day activities in New York. Thousands of students, workers and others rallied in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan to mark May Day.

JAMIL MADBAK: Jamil Madbak. In this current moment, after seven months of Zionist aggression against Gaza, is to underscore that there is a popular movement in support of Palestine, not just the students that are mobilizing, but also organized labor across the United States. That’s really important. After the mass arrests yesterday, we saw faculty at CUNY announce a sickout for today. We saw NYU faculty announce a grade strike. And we’ve seen other actions being taken in support of the students.
We know the United States manufactures bombs that are being dropped on the people in Gaza, the Palestinians, and the Arab population, more broadly. And in that sense, having an organized labor movement that is willing to advocate for the Palestinian struggle, to chip away at the strength of Western imperialism, more broadly, is essential. And for the Palestinians, the inverse is true. Like, it is our mandate to be part of a broader left in this country to help to struggle for worker rights here, understanding that a stronger labor movement means less of an ability to enact this destructive foreign policy.

PROTESTERS: Occupation no more! Occupation no more! Free, free, free Palestine! Free, free, free Palestine!

RIYA AL’SANAH: My name is Riya Al’sanah. I’m a Palestinian researcher, an organizer with the Workers in Palestine initiative. We at Palestinian unions have been organizing and calling for the colleagues in the labor movement and unions internationally to stop arming Israel.

So, since the call in October, on the 16th of October, workers internationally have galvanized and organized in solidarity with the call. We have seen workers in Barcelona port declare that they will not be — they will be stopping arms shipments destined to Israel. Workers in Belgium and transport workers have blocked the supply of weapons to Israel. At the Port of Oakland, we also saw workers here in the U.S. take concrete solidarity and action. Internationally, workers have been organizing in their workplaces and in their unions in solidarity and to heed the call. We see this also with the UAW here in the U.S. and other unions who have been calling for ceasefire and picking up the call from Palestinian workers and Palestinian unions.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
How can we be sure to get news about peace demonstrations?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

This year, May Day comes at a moment where we Palestinians are subjected to a kind of undescribable onslaught, an undescribable violence. And it’s an important moment in our history to remember that workers do have the power to shape the world. Workers do have the power to influence kind of what happens not only locally, but to influence processes of colonial violence and dispossession on a bigger scale.

The very brave students and faculty on campuses in the U.S. advocating for divestment of Israeli — of military industries is a prime example of the entrenchment of militarism and military industries to all aspects of our lives, including our educational institutions. These campaigns at the moment amplify how the campaign, the call from Palestinian workers to stop arming Israel is a transformative demand for all of us to be involved in on campuses, in our various workplaces, as well.

JULIA THERESE BANNON: As a UAW member and as the president of my local, UAW must use its political power to put teeth into their call for a ceasefire. I am done with the narrative that this is a right-wing attack on free speech. This is the Democratic Party attacking free speech. This is Joe Biden attacking free speech. This is Chuck Schumer attacking a local. These so-called Democrats are the ones threatening our democracy by silencing anyone who speaks against their genocide. UAW must revoke endorsements of these politicians, if they want to make good on their call for a ceasefire.

BHAIRAVI DESAI: I bring you message of solidarity from the 28,000 members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. We are here to say to Genocide Joe that as long as your bombs are there, we will remain here. How today, on International Workers’ Day, a day that is normally full of pride and celebration, but since October, we cannot have a day that feels like joy or celebration, because the level of death and destruction, it is crushing to our sense of being a human being.

HEALTHCARE WORKER: I stand here before you today as a member of Healthcare Workers for Palestine, New York City. This is a lot closer to them. So, I’m just going to forewarn that I’ll be speaking about the mass graves, that our media has so intentionally neglected. Last weekend —

PROTESTERS: Shame! Shame!

HEALTHCARE WORKER: Last weekend, at least 283 bodies were found in a mass grave in Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis in Gaza. These bodies, our families’ bodies, were found three meters into the ground, covered in waste, headless, skinless, organless, some of them zip-tied, and some of our healthcare workers still in their scrubs.

PROTESTERS: Shame!

HEALTHCARE WORKER: Three days later on Democracy Now!, we find out it wasn’t 283 bodies. It was at least 300. Three days after that, we find out it’s at least 400. And, y’all, we’re tired of playing this game of numbers.

NYU STUDENT: I am speaking to you as a student from the NYU encampment in solidarity with encampments and workers across the globe. To our administrations, we’re not going away. We hold our ground. We say to our administrations, to be suspended for Gaza is the highest honor.

PROTESTERS: Free, free, free Palestine! Free, free, free Palestine!

AMY GOODMAN: Special thanks to Hana Elias, Charina Nadura and Messiah Rhodes. Those voices from the Foley Square rally on May Day.

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Earth Day founder Denis Hayes says young climate activists carry the spirit of his generation

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Radio Canada

Denis Hayes can see activists of the past in today’s youth-led climate campaigns.

The environmentalist, who left Harvard University to co-ordinate the inaugural Earth Day in 1970, came of age during a period of growing understanding about human impacts on the planet. 

“We now have a generation coming up that seems to be very much in the spirit of the 1960s,” Hayes said in an interview with What On Earth host Laura Lynch.


Denis Hayes, co-ordinator of the first Earth Day and pictured here in 2015, reflected on the origins of the global event in an interview with What On Earth host Laura Lynch. (Jordan Stead/The Associated Press)

They care passionately about climate change and “want to do something to influence and really to shape policy, to guarantee themselves the future,” he added.

The scope of the planet’s problems have changed since the inaugural Earth Day where community events were the focus. The impact of carbon emissions are understood today to be global and have led to rapidly rising global temperatures.

A cohort of young climate justice activists — such as Swedish activist Greta Thunberg — connected worldwide via social media are now pushing for faster and more concrete action on an issue they see as an existential threat.

“We have a bunch of young people who are global citizens, digital natives who are comfortable talking with their peers around the world and capable of building an international movement of, I think, real force,” Hayes said.

Earth Day every day

Axcelle Campana, 34, an environmental justice practitioner and master’s student at Portland State University, says Earth Day can be an inspiring day to mark our commitment to the climate.

But there’s a risk that organizations actively contributing to climate change, like large corporations investing in fossil fuel projects, can co-opt that message.

“If we leave a vacuum, I think inevitably there will be a commercialization, and that will be the dominant narrative and the predominant force driving what Earth Day means,” he told Lynch.

`”We have to kind of step up and make it something in order for it to continue to be relevant.”

“When it comes to action, having one day is just simply not enough,” said Lauren Wright, a 19-year-old student and climate activist from Saskatoon. She is one of 15 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the federal government  claiming it hasn’t done enough to protect youth from the effects of climate change.

Wright says the increasing frequency of significant climate events — including record-breaking wildfire seasons and disastrous hurricanes  — has made it impossible for young people to ignore.

The ability to connect with other youth via social media has also made it easier to share these experiences and mobilize.

“I can see somebody who’s an activist in the Philippines telling their story about what’s happening to them right now, and then I can see something from somebody in the north of Canada who’s talking about how they’re being affected by brownouts,” she said.

Need for agency

Maria Vamvalis isn’t surprised that young people are turning to activism.

The PhD candidate and former public school teacher researches the impact of climate justice in education. 

(article continued in right column)

Question for this article:


Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

For many of the youth she’s spoken with as part of that work, grappling with these world-sized climate “polycrises” has left them feeling hopelessness over their futures — a shift she’s noticed in over two decades of teaching. 

(Article continued from the left column)

“When they talk about the future, [they say] I’m not going to be living past 50,” she said. “I didn’t have that experience with young people before at all.”

Those feelings can be mitigated when youth are able to directly engage in the challenges — and feel heard.

“Climate justice can become like a social imaginary that enables them to feel a sense of possibility — like if we actually were to centre climate justice, then so many things would change,” said Vamvalis, who teaches an online course on how educators can incorporate climate change education in the classroom with the Accelerating Climate Education Project.

Earth Day, then, can be a moment to reinvigorate a sense of agency for youth worried about the changing climate, she added. 

Wright describes it as a day to “refocus.”

“Earth Day is usually just a day of reflection and education more so than physical action,” she said.

Evolving priorities

When he started Earth Day, Hayes and his peers were focused on smaller scale challenges, such as air pollution from power planets and expansive highways separating communities.

“For years when we were talking about climate change, all we could do was point to lines crossing on a chart sometime out in the future before we got hit with droughts and hurricanes,” he said.

“Whereas if you’ve got a plume coming out of a smokestack and everybody in the neighbourhood is coughing, the debate is much easier to win.”

The way climate activism has changed over five decades reflects a shift in our understanding of changes to the environment itself, said activist Maria Blancas.

“To have a movement that is fighting for the same things … through these different decades, I feel like is really unrealistic,” said Blancas, who was born in Mexico but grew up in Washington state in a farmworker community

“So, for me, it feels like the future issues are probably going to be very different — hopefully, ideally would be different — than what we’re fighting for now.”

Some accuse the younger generation of taking part in an activism fad borne out of social media, Wright says, but the endurance of Earth Day proves otherwise.

“I’m not a young agitator that just came out of the woodwork. There’s been decades and decades of work done by activists and centuries, since time immemorial, of Indigenous land defenders caring for this place,” she said.

Looking forward

Looking ahead to Earth Day in 2050, Campana — who calls himself a “dreamer” — is ambitious.

April 22 is not just a day on the calendar, but a holiday off work and school for folks to get involved in their communities.

“We take commitment to the land and to the earth and to our home seriously enough where we actually provide the space and the time for lots of people to get involved,” he said.

Asked what lessons he would pass on youth activists today, Hayes was bashful.

“I suspect they are not waiting with bated breath for my pearls of wisdom,” he said.

“But I suppose the most important single thing I would say is don’t underestimate yourself…. Somebody is either going to have the torch passed to them, or they’re going to seize the torch, and it might as well be you.”

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Recasting the narrative of pro-Palestine student encampments: a commitment to nonviolent changemaking

. TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education by An Anonymous Student in Washington DC*

As an Arab-American woman, an activist, and a part of the collective human community, I take it upon myself to advocate for the men, women, and children in Gaza whose suffering has largely been overlooked and tolerated by the international community. These past few weeks, I have found great hope and pride in the actions of the American students who have established college campus encampments all across the country in an effort to direct funding away from the violence in Gaza. In their dedication to speaking out for the protection of human life, their commitment to non-violence, and their courage to act regardless of legal reprimand, thousands across the globe have found hope and regained a battle cry against the Palestinian genocide that continues to unfold. Through attending the George Washington University encampment, I have seen firsthand the nature of these spaces of protest — their spirit, their power, and their peace. Today, I write not only as an advocate for the encampments but also as an advocate for democracy. The pro-Palestine student encampments are valid and effective nonviolent protests that should not only be protected by the government but supported.

Photo Caption: Popular University for Gaza encampment at the University of Oregon demanding divestment from companies supporting Israel. Day 2, April 30, 2024. (Photo: Ian Mohr via flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED]).

 
On April 17, 2024, hundreds of student protesters occupied the South Lawn of Columbia University with demands that the university divest from companies with ties to Israel. Since then, thousands of students across the country have set up over 80 encampments, all calling for the divestment of university funds from organizations that provide financial support to the Israeli government and Israeli companies (Banerjee, 2024). Historically, sit-ins and occupations of campus buildings have been the more popular style of protest; however, the choice to hold encampments sends a message in itself. As stated by Sonal Churiwal, a sophomore at Washington University of St. Louis:

“We can do a march and one hour later it’s dispersed and no one’s there…but an encampment shows that we care and we’re willing to move our entire lives outside for a day, or however long we can, and really commit to this, because we know any inconvenience we’re facing is just a sliver of what Palestinians under occupation, under genocide, are facing” (Alonso, 2024).

Not only do the students sacrifice their comfort and convenience, but they also risk their safety and future security, as students at over 20 encampments have faced arrest charges due to ‘trespassing’ or ‘public disruption’ (Cutler, 2024). Along with the risk of arrest is the risk of harm. Most notably, on the night of April 30, violence broke out at the UCLA encampment as pro-Israeli groups attempted to tear down the encampment barricades. The ensuing clashes between protesters, police, and pro-Israeli groups lead to over 25 members of the encampment group being taken to the hospital due to injuries (Nazzal, 2024). These arrests and violence at the expense of peaceful protesters emerge from a lack of support and protection by the American government and its leaders. In fact, many members of Congress have directly spoken out against the encampments, calling them ‘un-American,’ recommending the National Guard to intervene, and requesting that federal funds be withdrawn from any campus allowing the protests to continue (Parkinson, 2024). The direct condemnation of the student encampments by national leaders has restricted the protesters’ ability to receive police protection and medical aid, putting thousands in harm’s way of police brutality and outside attacks.

The current political narrative also supports biased media coverage of the encampments’ nature and mission. Largely, the media and politicians have characterized the student encampment movement as a campaign built upon antisemitism that creates an unsafe environment for Jewish students on college campuses. These claims are not unfounded, as several protesters have expressed explicit support for Hamas terrorism and used antisemitic rhetoric against Jewish students (Campus antisemitism, 2024). In no way do I believe that these violent actions and words should be overlooked. Nor do I support antisemitism in any form, whether it be in connection to the Israel-Palestine conflict or not. However, there is much danger in directly conflating the student encampment movement with antisemitism, as this both undermines the true mission of the protest, as well as invalidates the Jewish experience of antisemitism. The encampments look to stop American university funding for Israeli military missions against Palestinian civilians, not to threaten, harm, or call for the eradication of the Jewish population. “Many of the student groups behind the protests said that individuals making inflammatory remarks [against the Jewish community] do not represent their groups or their values concerning the war in Gaza” (Alfonesca, 2024). Additionally, MIT Jews for Ceasefire criticized “school administration and politicians” for “co-opting” the Jewish “shared identity to silence Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, and Jewish students” alike (Alfonesca, 2024). They argue that blanketing all student protests as antisemitic “only serves to obfuscate real cases of antisemitism and put Jewish students at even greater risk” (Alfonesca, 2024). Therefore, the continued weaponization of ‘antisemitism’ within the political dialogue which condemns the student encampments leads to an inaccurate depiction of the protesters’ goals, undermines the genuine non-violent foundation of the movement, and puts the Jewish community at further harm of attack against their person and identity.

Since the student protests follow a legitimate framework of nonviolent methods within their behavior and organization, I look to redirect the current narrative surrounding the university encampments away from a story of hate and violence and towards one of true peaceful protest for a just cause. In his work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Gene Sharp researched and cataloged ‘198 methods of nonviolent action.’ Ranging from formal statements and physical intervention to drama and music, Sharp outlines a careful selection of nonviolent approaches for securing democratic rights and justice for social justice movements (198 methods). Within the past few weeks, the pro-Palestine student encampments have deployed a handful of these methods. Most notably, through a nonviolent occupation of space, but also through inviting political speakers, hosting indigenous dance groups, and directing university funds to alternative markets, among many other approaches to peaceful activism. Each encampment has its own set of values and regulations to ensure a commitment to nonviolence is upheld and enforced. At the George Washington University encampment, a whiteboard of ‘Community Guidelines’ greets protesters and visitors, outlining rules of ‘grace and patience,’ ‘respect and discipline,’ and ‘revolutionary optimism.’ The space is one of structure, transparency, acceptance, and diversity, which the media and politicians overlook within their characterizations and criticisms of the movement.

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Question related to this article:

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

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The student encampments are also in full alignment with the values and instruction of peace education. Peace education looks to promote a culture of peace through transformative understanding and approaches to conflict:

“Peace education would first invite the youth or adult learners to be aware of and to understand the ramifications and roots of a particular conflict and what the possible alternatives might be…peace education elicits well-thought-out alternatives from them to work for the conflict’s resolution and transformation through nonviolent ways” (Navarro-Castro, 2008, p. 26).

Those who participate in the student encampments have heavily immersed themselves in the history and nuance of the political dynamic between Palestine and Israel. They understand that the violence of the past few months is a result of decades of oppression and apartheid, as opposed to a conflict that began on October 7, 2023. These students come to universities with a specific, nonviolent resolution to divert funds away from the Israeli military and away from the general military-industrial complex of the United States. Their demands target an end to violence, and their methods reflect the same intention. The students’ dedication to their cause through peaceful protest is a true commitment to activism through a lens of peace education. Therefore, for the government to condemn their behavior is to take a stance against peaceful, visionary protest, which is a larger stance against the promotion of a culture of peace.

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly passed the “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (United Nations). Through the declaration, UNESCO defines a culture of peace as a “set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior, and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups, and nations” (U.N). Through their peaceful commitment to engage in dialogue with university leaders, the student encampments uphold a culture of peace within their ‘values, attitudes, and modes of behavior.’ The protesters’ actions — leading marches to diplomatic centers, inviting speakers to discuss the history of the Palestinian region, and hosting creative projects to preserve Palestinian art and culture— align with the promotion of nonviolent change outlined in UNESCO’s frameworks of cultural peace.

As a prominent member of the UN, the United States of America holds a responsibility to both the international community and the American people to uphold and enact UN resolutions. By criticizing and attacking the encampments, American politicians directly violate the 1999 resolution which calls for “the observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms” (United Nations). The declaration also places “special emphasis on democratic principles and practices at all levels of formal, informal and non-formal education,” highlighting students’ vital role in harnessing the democratic process to create change and promote peace (United Nations). To stand against the students is to stand against fundamental freedoms and democratic principles. While as, to stand with the encampments is to uphold the ideals outlined by the “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” in promoting a collective mindset that rejects violence and fuels civil dialogue.

As a citizen of this country and a member of the democratic process, I have placed my trust and my voice in the hands of my representatives. I look to those who have been given positions of power to use their platforms to defend the rights and livelihoods of not just my fellow Americans, but also my fellow human beings. I stand behind the American people in continuing to use our voices, our power, and our presence to speak out against the genocide of the Palestinian people, and I implore American leaders to listen to us.

The student encampments are not places of hate, they are places of love where nonviolence triumphs. These student activists are not un-American, for protesting injustice through the freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment is the most American thing one could do. Therefore, if the American government is truly committed to democracy and peace, our leaders have a responsibility not only to protect but also to support the pro-Palestine student encampments.

* My decision to publish this piece anonymously caused much inner conflict and reflection. My anonymity does not come from a lack of belief in my argument, nor does it endorse a lack of willingness to associate myself with this cause. Instead, I was influenced by recent government actions that criminalize pro-Palestinian viewpoints, as well as the potential consequences of future legislation on anti-Israeli dialogue. I feel much frustration with our current political environment, which discourages free speech surrounding the Palestinian genocide. In the future, I look to continue to advocate for social justice and influence government actions to uphold human rights. However, I cannot fulfill this mission if I am prohibited from entering the political sphere due to my stance on the student encampments. Therefore, my anonymity reflects a commitment to future activism and a hope to earn a platform to further promote democracy and peace.

References

° 198 methods of nonviolent action. AEI/ Empowering Humankind. (n.d.). https://www.aeinstein.org/198-methods-of-nonviolent-action

° Alfonesca, K. (2024, April 26). Student protesters denounce antisemitism amid criticism over pro-Palestinian encampments at college campuses. ABC News.

_ Alonso, J. (2024, April 24). Students set up on encampments from coast to Coast. Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs.

° Banerjee, I. (2024, May 2). Timeline: The “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” Columbia Daily Spectator.

° Campus antisemitism surges amid encampments and related protests at columbia and other u.s. colleges. (2024, April 22). Anti-Defamation League.

° Cutler, S. (2024, May 1) How colleges have responded to student encampments. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Navarro-Castro, L., & Nario-Galace, J. (2008). Peace education a pathway to a culture of peace. Center for Peace Education, Miriam College.

° Nazzal, S. (2024, May 1). After violent night at UCLA, classes cancelled, UC president Launches Investigation Into response. Los Angeles Times.

° Parkinson, J. (2024, April 30). Speaker Johnson, House Republicans ramp up criticism of “out of control” college protests. ABC News.

° U.N. International Day of peace. International Day of Peace. (n.d.). https://internationaldayofpeace.org/culture-of-peace/#:~:text=As%20defined%20by%20t he%20United,founding%20over%2060%20years%20ago%2C

° United Nations. (n.d.). Declaration and programme of action on a culture of peace. United Nations. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/285677?ln=en&v=pdf

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Mayors for Peace: Join us in promoting the culture of peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An news flash from Mayors for 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:

[W]e 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.

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.

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. To raise the public awareness of This Month, we also put banners and run digital signage in some gathering sites and streets of city center.

“Month for the Culture of Peace 2023” by the City of Hiroshima (in Japanese): https://heiwabunka.info/

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.

Pass down Atomic Bomb Experiences through Testimonies

We encourage member cities to provide their citizens with opportunities to hear hibakusha’s testimony while using online video conference platforms or on video to have as many people as possible share in the hibakusha’s sincere desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons and to encourage them to take action for peace.

If your city wishes to set up an opportunity to hear a testimony online, please contact the Secretariat.

Providing opportunities to hear hibakusha’s testimony (Mayors for Peace
website): https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/testimonies/

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

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Hold Mayors for Peace Atomic Bomb Poster Exhibitions

Mayors for Peace provides member cities with “Mayors for Peace Atomic Bomb
Posters,” which visually present the realities of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, consequences of nuclear weapons use, and Mayors for Peace initiatives, featuring photos, drawings created by hibakusha, and other images. Posters are available in the following nine languages: English, German, French, Russian, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, and Japanese. To have more citizens deepen their understanding of the realities of the atomic bombings and share in the wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons, we encourage member cities to organize poster exhibitions at facilities to which many residents have access, such as city halls, community centers, and public libraries.

Mayors for Peace Atomic Bomb Poster Exhibition (Mayors for Peace website):
https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/posters/

To download the posters from the above webpage, please contact the Mayors for Peace Secretariat to obtain a user ID and a password.

Exhibition organizers are encouraged to set up a petition booth at the venue for visitors to sign the petition calling for all states to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the earliest day. The petition form and the poster encouraging people to join the petition are available on the Mayors for Peace webpage below.

Petition drives calling for all states to join the TPNW at the earliest date (Mayors for Peace website): https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/petitions/

Nurture seeds and seedlings from atomic bomb survivor trees

We distribute to member cities seeds from hibaku trees—atomic bomb
survivor trees which have survived the atomic bombings of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. We encourage you to raise second-generation hibaku
trees, which serve as symbols of peace, to help raise citizens’ peace
consciousness.

Should you wish to receive seeds from hibaku trees, please contact the
Secretariat.

Distribute and nurture seeds from atomic bomb survivor trees
(hibaku trees) (Mayors for Peace website): https://www.mayorsforpeace.org/en/visions/initiatives/trees/

Participate in the Children’s Art Competition “Peaceful Towns”

Mayors for Peace organizes the annual Children’s Art Competition “Peaceful Towns” for children in all the member cities to further promote peace education in the member cities.

We organize the competition this year, too. Click here for details.

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‘Watershed Moment’: Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine Kicks Off in South Africa

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Brett Wilkins in Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

As Israeli forces continued their devastating assault on the Gaza Strip and deadly occupation of the West Bank, human rights defenders from around the world gathered Friday in South Africa—which is leading a genocide case against Israel at the World Court—for the inaugural Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine.


Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hold hands and talk at the Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine in Sandton, South Africa on May 10, 2024. (Photo: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO)

The conference began with a moment of silence for the nearly 35,000 Palestinians—most of them women and children—killed by Israeli troops during the 217-day war and "complete siege," which has also wounded more than 78,000 people, displaced around 90% of the strip's population, and starved at least hundreds of thousands of others—dozens of whom have died.

Meanwhile, Israel's illegal occupation and settler colonization have intensified in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where soldiers and settlers have killed at least 467 Palestinians and wounded or arrested thousands of others—some of whom were tortured—over the past seven months.

"This conference must make sure that we mobilize the world… and free the people of Palestine," Rev. Frank Chikane of the African National Congress (ANC) and World Council of Churches said at the start of the symposium.

Thanking Chikane for "spearheading" conference organizing efforts, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hailed the "watershed moment" of "anti-apartheid movements on Palestine from around the globe coming together and joining forces in the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people."

"It has never been so urgent for the progressive forces around the globe to come together in a collective effort to exert maximum pressure to end the genocidal campaign underway in Gaza, and to end the apartheid system in Israel and the occupied territories, which is worse than what we experienced in our own country," she asserted, echoing past remarks by other South Africans and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Pandor highlighted South Africa's December filing of a genocide case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, a move supported by over 30 countries and regional blocs and hundreds of advocacy groups. In January, the ICJ found that Israel is "plausibly" committing genocide in Gaza and ordered its government to prevent future genocidal acts—an order human rights monitors say Israel has ignored, largely by blocking humanitarian aid. In March, the ICJ ordered Israel to allow more aid into Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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"We will continue to do everything within our power to preserve the existence of the Palestinian people as a group, to end all acts of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people, and to walk with them towards the realization of their collective right to self-determination," Pandor said. "We continue to do so following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and will not rest until the freedom of the peoples of Palestine is realized."

Ronnie Kasrils—a communist who went from being a guerrilla fighter in the ANC's armed wing during the apartheid era to a government minister in a free South Africa—warned against compromising in the fight for freedom. He also reaffirmed Palestinians' legal right to "armed struggle, an international right of resistance against tyranny, against military occupation."

"There is no need to pussyfoot around the fact when we have our discussions about the rights of the Palestinians to resist with arms," Kasrils stressed.

Palestinian lawmaker, physician, and activist Mustafa Barghouti said that "we've woken the people of the world against genocide and injustice… and hypocrisy of international governments."

"Israel initiated this war but Israel will not be the one who decides how it ends," he added.

Lamis Deek, a New York-based attorney specializing in international human rights, called for "liberation of all the land from institutions of Zionist violence and supremacy, return, reparations, justice and accountability for every Zionist crime, and restitution."

Declan Kearney, a member of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly and national chairman of the Irish republican and democratic socialist party Sinn Féin, noted that "Palestinian and Irish freedom fighters share a special bond. Our commitment is absolute and unbreakable."

The Republic of Ireland said in March that it would intervene in the South African ICJ case and the country—along with fellow European Union members Spain, Slovenia, and Malta—is set later this month to join the nearly 140 nations that recognize Palestinian statehood.

The United Nations General Assembly voted 143-9 on Friday to approve Palestine's bid for full U.N. membership. The United States—Israel's leading international backer—and Israel voted against the proposal, which will head to the U.N. Security Council and an almost certain U.S. veto.

Kearney echoed other speakers who stressed the importance of international solidarity, applauding the "unprecedented" global outpouring of support for Palestine.

"We are with the Palestinian people on their long walk to freedom and will never abandon them," he vowed.

While many Israelis and their backers bristle at the apartheid label, Palestinians and individuals ranging from Carter to the late South African bishop and human rights campaigner Desmond Tutu to United Nations special rapporteurs have for decades called Israel's policies and actions in Palestine apartheid.

Major human rights organizations—including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli groups B'Tselem and Yesh Din—have also done so. So have prominent Israelis including a former Mossad chief, multiple former attorneys general and ambassadors, and a growing number of journalists, artists, veterans, and others.

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