Tag Archives: global

Upcoming Virtual Events


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayors for Peace Adopts New Vision and Action Plan


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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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

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

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

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

United Nations: Landmark gender equality forum concludes with concrete commitments, plan to advance parity by 2026 


An article from the United Nations

With the chief of the UN’s gender empowerment agency declaring that women are still “sitting in the corridors when men are inside at the table negotiating peace”, the historic Generation Equality Forum  in Paris concluded on Friday [July 2] with new commitments designed to address that, and other injustices.

Photo: UN Women

Close to $40 billion was pledged in new investments, as well as ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, civil society and others, to help fuel a new global five-year action plan to accelerate true gender parity, by 2026.  
“The Generation Equality Forum marks a positive, historic shift in power and perspective”, said  Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. 

The Forum has been held at a critical moment, as the world assesses the disproportionate and damaging impact of the  COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls. 

Gender equality advocates took the opportunity to press for gender-responsive stimulus and recovery plans to ensure that women and girls are not left behind as the world re-builds. 

Timely commitments  

The $40 billion in investments represent a major step-change in resourcing for women’s and girls’ rights, as lack of financing has been a major reason for slow progress in advancing gender equality and in enacting the women’s rights agenda of the milestone 1995 Beijing Conference, according to UN Women.
Governments and public sector institutions have committed to $21 billion spending on gender equality investments, the private sector $13 billion and philanthropy $4.5 billion.
UN entities, international and regional organizations committed an aggregate of $1.3 billion.  

“The Forum’s ecosystem of partners – and the investments, commitments and energy they are bringing to confront the greatest barriers to gender equality – will ensure faster progress for the world’s women and girls than we have seen before”, said the head of UN Women. 

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(Click here for the article in French.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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

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Multilateral approach
Many organizations have made strong policy and program commitments, including 440 civil society organizations and 94 youth-led organizations.  

Hosting the event, the French Ambassador and Secretary-General of the Forum, Delphine O, said the it had “reversed the priorities on the international agenda and made gender equality, for too long underestimated, a long-term issue for the international community, along with climate, education and health. France will continue to be at the forefront to accelerate gender equality progress”. 

Others speak out 

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Anne Hathaway, gave her personal commitment to “continue to be a global advocate for the legal and policy changes that will empower both women and men to begin the equal distribution of care responsibilities that will help change our world”. 

Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who now heads the US international development agency, USAID, offered “a simple message, informed by decades of evidence: if you want peace in this world, trust women to deliver it”. 

African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, Nyaradzayi 
Gumbonzvanda, said: “This week, I relived the experience of 1995, when I was a young women’s rights activist at the Beijing Conference…Now it’s time to invest in girls and young women even more – for resources to reach rural and marginalized communities, for technology for public good and available to all, and for Member States’ greater accountability to human rights of women and girls”. 

Taking the lead 

Over the past three days, the Forum engaged nearly 50,000 people in a mainly virtual format to rapidly advance of gender justice.  
It launched a  Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality  designed by six Action Coalitions, partnerships that have identified the most critical actions required to achieve gender equality, ranging from gender-based violence and technology to economic and climate justice.  

The Forum also launched a Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, and announced new gender equality initiatives focused on health, sports, culture, and education. 

UN Women will maintain a critical role driving the Forum’s 5-year action plan, overseeing the implementation of commitments to ensure accountability and progress. 

“Together we have mobilized across different sectors of society, from south to north, to become a formidable force, ready to open a new chapter in gender equality”, said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Women must no longer be ‘squeezed into a small corner’, landmark Forum declares 


An article from the United Nations News Service

In a bid to put gender equality at the heart of COVID recovery, UN Women kicked off a three-day “landmark effort” in Paris on Wednesday, aiming to lay out ambitious investments and policies to bridge the chasm between where women stand in the world today, and where they should be, by 2030.
“Gender equality is essentially about power, and power in a world that is still largely male dominated, with a culture that is still largely patriarchal”, Secretary-General António Guterres said at the Generation Equality Forum, launching a “five-year action journey”, based on the UN Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality

UN Women/Johis Alarcón People protest in a demonstration for women’s rights in Ecuador.

Noting that “power is very rarely given. You have to take it”, he stressed as one of his five priorities, the importance of parity to redistribute power and create the necessary conditions for true equality.  

Setting priorities 

The UN chief said that to achieve equal rights, discriminatory laws around the world must be repealed and transformed into ‘de facto’ equality.  

He said women in the informal economy, were “paying a heavy price for the pandemic”, also highlighting economic equality in pay, employment, and social protections. 

Noting a surge in violence against women and girls during COVID, Mr. Guterres said that putting an end to it must be “a central element of all policies and all of our objectives”.
Finally, he highlighted the importance of intergenerational dialogue as “another fundamental instrument for gender equality” to allow young people to be a part of decision-making in today’s digital society. 
Women worth more than a quarter 

In her statement, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that “women everywhere in the world are squeezed into a small corner”.  

She highlighted how they make up a quarter of all managers, parliamentarians, climate change negotiators and “less than one quarter of those who negotiate peace agreements”.  

“One quarter is not enough. One quarter is not equality. Equality is one half, where both men and women are together”, she spelled out. 

Moving forward 

Generation Equality is about change, the UN Women chief said, it’s about “moving from making promises” to saying what has been done to advance women worldwide. 

She detailed that Member States, the private sector and others, have made nearly 1,000 commitments to change the lives of women, including to change policies.  
However, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka continued, “the fight still has to continue…We need to be pushing upwards all the time, so that there is a race to the top” 

(continued in right column)

(Click here for the article in French or here for Spanish.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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

(continued from left column)

Stepping up funds 

The UN Women chief concluded by detailing that countries of the Global South, regional organizations, young people and civil society groups, have all “put their foot forward” raising $40 billion, saying “and we are still counting”. 

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Germany “is actively involved in the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights” and would invest an “additional €140 million, making a total of around €240 million in the International Action Coalition”. 

And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would spend $2.1 billion to advance global gender equality. 

Achieving ‘tangible progress’ 

At the same time, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched a set of commitments  to achieve “tangible progress” towards gender equality over the next five years. 

The UN agency will support girls’ education  with quality gender-transformative teaching for 28 million learners in over 80 countries; work to close the digital gender divide, empower women scientists, and promote ethical Artificial Intelligence; and in Africa, empower  women economically in creative industries.  

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay had called upon women worldwide to “take control and full leadership in every aspect of life and domain of society to build back a better future for all”. 

Co-host comments 

Co-hosting the event, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the struggle for gender equality is “far from won”. 
“It’s a battle today, but tomorrow it must be a matter of fact”, he underscored.
His counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico, said: “We must continue to fight against sexism. We must not forget economic and social equality, which is fundamental to achieve a better society”.  

Call to action from Clinton, Harris 

United States Vice President Kamala Harris, warned that “democracy is in peril” around the world. 

“I believe, resolutely, that if we want to strengthen democracy, we must fight for gender equality…Democracy is strongest when everyone participates – and it is weaker when people are left out…without doubt, gender equality strengthens democracy”, she said. 

Back in1995, at the World Conference on Women  in Beijing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton proclaimed: “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all” . 

At today’s meeting she sent a message that “it’s no longer enough to talk about women’s rights…[as] they are nothing without the power to claim them. And we know that when women have the power to raise our voices, assert our rights, and rebuild economies, everyone will be better off”. 

Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, drew attention to the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, or the Istanbul Convention

“Last year, we saw a surge in domestic violence during COVID lockdowns. The Convention provides three advantages that no country alone can: it raises national standards; provides a monitoring mechanism; and ensures co-operation between governments in the prosecution of these crimes”, she said.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

WWF report: The custodians of nature crucial to any and every effort to protect our planet


An article by Lilian Gikandi from World Wide Fund For Nature (reprinted according to Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 3.0 License)

2021 is the super year for our planet. Global leaders will convene in a series of meetings to determine solutions to the planet’s climate, nature and sustainable development challenges and it is critical they support nature’s original custodians – the world’s Indigenous peoples and local communities. Any global conservation efforts including calls to protect and conserve at least 30% of the world’s land, freshwater and oceans by 2030 hinge on strong IPLC participation and leadership and will be unattainable without them.

A new, first of its kind collaborative study compiled by conservation organizations and experts, with guidance from and peer reviewed by Indigenous Peoples experts and organizations highlights the importance of recognizing and respecting the rights, governance, and conservation efforts of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC) as custodians of their lands. 

Photo © Luis Barreto / WWF-UK

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Question for this article

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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The study finds that Indigenous peoples and local communities’ lands and territories cover at least 32% of the planet’s terrestrial surface and the majority (91%) are considered to be in good or fair ecological condition today. This is mostly because IPLCs have lived sustainably for generations in their ‘territories of life’ and safeguard many of the world’s remaining natural landscapes. Many of these areas support unique cultural and spiritual values and practices, and are critical in combating nature loss and climate breakdown. 

IPLC knowledge and practices have helped preserve their lands for generations. And yet, more than a quarter of IPLC lands could face high development pressures in the future, underlining the need to secure the rights, governance and practices of those who are best-placed to safeguard many of the natural systems on which we all depend.

As countries meet to negotiate a new Global Biodiversity Framework  later this year, we hope the findings of this report catalyze  support for Indigenous peoples and local communities so that they can defend and restore their lands and territories as part of global conservation efforts.   

Only with IPLCs leading, will conservation that benefits both people and the biodiversity on which we all depend, be fruitful.

Read the The State of the Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ lands and territories report here.

United Nations Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Holds General Discussion on Rights of Indigenous Women


An article from United Nations Geneva

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women today held a discussion on the rights of Indigenous women and girls.

The first part of the general discussion focused on equality and non-discrimination with a focus on Indigenous women and girls and intersecting forms of discrimination.

In her opening remarks, Gladys Acosta Vargas, Committee Chairperson, said today’s discussion was the first step in the process of elaborating a general recommendation for the rights of Indigenous women and girls, and provided an opportunity for the Committee to receive input in that context. Underlining that rights had individual and collective dimensions, the Chairperson said self-identification determined who was an Indigenous woman or girl.

Paulo David, Chief of the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Committee’s consolidation of its past work and findings in the form of a general recommendation would clarify and reinforce the normative legal framework at a point in time when the rights of Indigenous women and girls remained fragile in several countries. Commending the Committee for its pioneering work on embedding an intersectional approach in the understanding of States’ obligations, he stressed that not all women and girls experienced discrimination in the same way.

Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, recommended that the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against All Women be interpreted in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation, said that a false dichotomy between individual and collective rights had been promoted both in the Indigenous peoples’ movement and the women’s movement; the active participation of Indigenous women in that debate allowed it to be better handled now.

Laila Vars, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stressed that it would be important for the Committee to highlight the interplay between collective and individual rights in its upcoming general recommendation.

Speaking were: Sweden, Ukraine, Argentina, Denmark, Armenia, Ecuador, and Brazil, UN Women and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Also taking the floor were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations: The National Human Rights Commission of India, The Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Indigenous Girls and Women Collective, Colectiva Ixpop, Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, MADRE – Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Organizaci ón Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú, Right Livelihood Award Foundation and Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua , and the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

The Committee then turned to the second part of the general discussion, which concerned the effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life.

Anne Nuorgam, President of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said Indigenous women were survivors who had an important role to play in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Patriarchy, racism and discrimination were central factors in Indigenous women’s limited access to political participation.

Tarcila Rivera Zea, President of the Executive Council of the Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, remarked that that since existing instruments did not fully reflect the realities of Indigenous women, it was cause for hope that the Committee was moving toward the adoption of a general recommendation which might do so.

Speaking were Peru, Brazil, Norway, Guatemala, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Also taking the floor were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations: State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Consejo Nacional para la Igualdad de Género de Ecuador, Philippines National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, The National Human Rights Commission of India, African Indigenous Women’s Organization, International Indigenous Women’s Forum, Article 19, Colectiva IXPOP, National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, MADRE—Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Tebtebba (Indigenous People’s International Centre for Policy Research and Education), Human Rights Council of Greenland, ESCR-Net International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Grupo Santo Domingo Soriano, and another non-governmental organization.

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.

The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will reconvene on Thursday 1 July to close the seventy-ninth session.

General discussion part 1: “ Equality and non-discrimination with a focus on Indigenous women and girls and intersecting forms of discrimination”

Opening remarks

GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Committee Chairperson, said that the Committee was very pleased with the positive response to its invitation to stakeholders to participate in this day of general discussion. Thanking those who had provided written submissions, she said she had received more than 70. All written and pre-recorded video statements received would be posted on the website of the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Today’s discussion was the first step in the process of elaborating a general recommendation for the rights of Indigenous women and girls, and provided an opportunity for the Committee to receive input in that context. Underlining that rights had individual and collective dimensions, the Chairperson said self-identification determined who was an Indigenous woman or girl. Different forms of discrimination were always mixed, intersecting, and mutually reinforcing, she added.

PAULO DAVID, Chief of the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said giving close and systematic attention to Indigenous women and girls’ rights had made a difference in many States Parties. The Committee’s consolidation of its past work and findings in the form of a general recommendation would clarify and reinforce the normative legal framework at a point in time when the rights of Indigenous women and girls remained fragile in several countries. It was crucial to link the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the Committee’s forthcoming general recommendation. The Declaration had been a considerable step forward, and was the result of 30 years of constructive consultation with Member States and Indigenous representatives, he recalled. The Declaration recognized rights that would no doubt feature in the general recommendation.

Commending the Committee for its pioneering work on embedding an intersectional approach in the understanding of States’ obligations, he stressed that not all women and girls experienced discrimination in the same way. This held true for Indigenous women and girls who were not an homogenous group: they spoke different languages, faced different challenges and multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination. Such forms of discrimination could be based on factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, disability, status, poverty or colonialism. Their right to self-determination was linked to their deep connection to ancestral lands and territories, as well as to natural resources. The COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated racism against Indigenous peoples across all continents, with Indigenous women facing additional risks related to gender-based violence, he added.

Keynote presentations

FRANCISCO CALÍ TZAY, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, recommended that the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against All Women be interpreted in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He invited the Committee to follow the example of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by inviting Indigenous women and girls to consultations as it drafted a general recommandation on Indigenous rights.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation, said that, when examining the rights of Indigenous women and girls, it was vital to consider the unique historical and current experiences of Indigenous communities. A false dichotomy between individual and collective rights had been promoted both in the Indigenous peoples’ movement and the women’s movement; the active participation of Indigenous women in that debate allowed it to be better handled now.

LAILA VARS, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, noted that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples placed collective rights at the centre of the international human rights framework. She added that it would be important for the Committee to highlight the interplay between collective and individual rights in its upcoming general recommendation. She further urged the Committee to consider including recommendations on the need for investment in leadership of women and girls in Indigenous communities and decision-making structures.

Statements by States

Sweden said Indigenous women who were human rights defenders experienced complex, multidimensional and mutually reinforcing human rights violations and abuses, especially if they challenged traditional gender roles. That had to stop. States had a responsibility to uphold human rights, and ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. Sweden would continue to implement its feminist foreign policy.

Ukraine said a draft national law on Indigenous peoples aimed to promote the rights of Indigenous peoples as prescribed by the United Nations Declaration, despite a disinformation campaign aiming to discredit the effort. As many Crimean Tatar men were detained, women had to be breadwinners and “champions for justice” in the face of Islamophobia, sexism and intimidation.

Argentina said that its National Institute of Indigenous Women had a rights-based focus. Nationally, dialogues on gender-based violence against Indigenous women were underway. As for access to sexual and reproductive rights, while there were challenges in empowering women, the State was trying to use different strategies to achieve progress.

Denmark, also speaking on behalf of Greenland, welcomed the Committee’s effort to elaborate a general recommendation on the rights of Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous women faced significant barriers to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as a lack of information and services. Support for Indigenous women’s organizations was vital.

Armenia welcomed the Committee’s decision to focus on addressing specific and multifaceted barriers faced by Indigenous women and girls. Against the backdrop of climate change and environmental degradation, the strong connection of Indigenous peoples to natural resources should be nurtured and appreciated. The economic rights and empowerment of Indigenous women were particularly significant in that regard.

Ecuador said its National Council for the Equality of Peoples and Nationalities sought to ensure respect for the right to equality and non-discrimination. Ecuador aimed to have a “culture of peace” that developed human capacity, focusing on equality and non-discrimination. Its equality agenda encompassed fields such as education and health.

Brazil said Indigenous women faced many challenges on a daily basis, such as economic challenges, and challenges in accessing health services. Illiteracy was a barrier to participation in political processes. A lack of economic and social participation of Indigenous women contributed to inequality; however Indigenous women should not be considered as simple victims. More Indigenous women in leadership roles would contribute to addressing structural problems.

Statements by United Nations bodies

UN Women said its regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean was working closely with Indigenous women and girls. The proposed general recommendation should recognize the link between Indigenous women and Mother Earth, water, and the land. Indigenous women’s presence in public life should be strengthened, and the multiple forms of violence suffered by Indigenous women and girls should be eliminated.

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said Indigenous women with disabilities were not identified in statistics, and this prevented their inclusion in public policies. Women and girls with disabilities, including Indigenous peoples living in remote areas, must be empowered; they needed means of communication such as sign language.

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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

(continued from left column)

Statements by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions

The National Human Rights Commission of India said the Indian Government did not recognize Indigenous groups, instead recognizing ethnic groups as “scheduled tribes”. There were currently 705 so-called “scheduled tribes”. Seats had been reserved for those groups on some representative assemblies. Their access to education and other rights was still far behind that of other groups.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs said that, in 1876, the Indian Act imposed a patriarchal system under which First Nations were robbed of their Indian status upon marriage to non-Indian men, and prevented them from transmitting their status to their children. Within their territories, Indigenous women and girls were on the front lines of the protection of the environment from climate change and the effects of destructive resource extraction.

Indigenous Girls and Women Collective called for the Committee to provide programmes and awareness-raising campaigns on sexual health directed at Indigenous boys, girls, and young people. It was important that the Committee entered into direct dialogue with Indigenous groups.

Colectiva Ixpop said that, in Guatemala, inequality, racism and discrimination were social problems that remained latent. They were experienced by Indigenous women in particular. Racism and patriarchy had established ideas and practices that had been normalized and presented as a natural part of social, political and labour relationships.

Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network said Canada was known internationally for its severity towards, and criminalization of, people living with HIV/Aids. People were afraid to disclose their status due to punitive measures while fear and stigma drove HIV transmission. Indigenous women involved in sex work could not reach out to police without risking charges themselves. Culturally appropriate programmes and services developed by people with lived experiences must be developed and supported.

The speaker from MADRE – Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, stating that she was an Indigenous woman with disabilities from a rural region of Nepal, said Indigenous women were a very diverse group, experiencing multiple forms of discrimination, including some based on racism. They wanted to be treated equally, on par with other women, and wanted their collective rights and intersecting identities to be protected and promoted.

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact said Indigenous women and girls consisted of some of the most diverse yet marginalized groups in Asia. Multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination were perpetuated by the lack of legal recognition. She called on the Committee to emphasize legal recognition of Indigenous peoples as paramount. Gender-based violence against Indigenous women and girls was part of a continuum of structural violence.

Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú welcomed the initiative for a general recommendation. In Peru, the government had passed laws and adopted standards that promoted extraction activities that exacerbated climate change and undermined Indigenous land rights. This had detrimental effects on access to clean water and food.

Right Livelihood Award Foundation and Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua said permanent insecurity, harassment, and armed attacks had caused the forced displacement of entire communities, and disproportionately affected Indigenous women, teenagers and girls. There was no guarantee of access to justice for Indigenous women who had been victims of gender-based violence and discrimination.

The speaker for the Centre for Reproductive Rights, stating she was an Indigenous woman, said she and her family had been defending the territory of their ancestors, when, as punishment for her role as a leader, she had been raped. Given the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care in Honduras, she had been forced to accept motherhood – something she did not want. She asked the Committee to urge States Parties to take measures against violence against Indigenous rural women, and guarantee access to emergency contraceptive pills and safe abortion.

Closing remarks

FRANCISCO CALÍ TZAY, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, said it was very valuable for the Committee to take into account the issues raised by the speakers. It was important to recall what the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples said about the participation of, and respect for, Indigenous peoples

GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Committee Chairperson, thanked the keynote speakers as well as all participants in the discussion for participating despite difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second segment of the discussion would focus on the effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life.

General discussion part 2: “ Effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life”

Opening Remarks

GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Committee Chairperson, said the discussion would focus on the effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life. The Committee would study all the contributions it had received, which would also be published on its website.

Keynote Speakers

ANNE NUORGAM, President of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said Indigenous women often faced exclusion from social and political life. And yet, they were survivors who had much to contribute to societies and to national and international debates. Stressing that they had an important role to play in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, Ms. Nuorgam said patriarchy, racism and discrimination were central factors in Indigenous women’s limited access to political participation.

TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, President of the Executive Council of the Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, said that since existing instruments did not fully reflect the realities of Indigenous women, it was cause for hope that the Committee was moving toward the adoption of a general recommendation which might do so. Indigenous women were diverse, and their full, representative and effective participation in political, economic, social and cultural life was the gateway to other rights. It was also a fundamental factor in ensuring accountability of States with regards to their obligations.

Statements by States

Peru said it had reached important milestones in the participation of women in its political sphere. Following elections held in April, 37 per cent of Peru’s Parliament was composed of women. There were factors limiting Indigenous women’s participation in public life that
could not solely be explained by the actions of the State.
Brazil said Indigenous women were natural leaders in their communities throughout the Americas. Women, girls and the elderly remained outside of processes pertaining to free, prior and informed consent. It was important that communities and all their members have the opportunity to participate in the entire process of free, prior and informed consent, including mediation with national authorities.
Norway said the right to participate in the development of one’s society as a whole, in one’s own language and community was essential. Indigenous women had the right to full, equal and meaningful participation in public life, and must be consulted before decisions that affected them were taken. The education gap between Indigenous children and the mainstream population remained critical.

Guatemala said that, in the country, there were specialized agencies for education, health, security, justice, and development in Indigenous communities. Through the Ombudsman for Indigenous Women, Guatemala had been providing comprehensive attention to victims of human rights violations. Indigenous women and girls were a group targeted by the national plan for development, as well as Guatemala’s strategic planning on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Kingdom recognized that climate change could undermine the enjoyment of human rights, but it should not detract from States’ obligations to uphold the rights of everyone, including Indigenous women and girls. The United Kingdom continued to work with international institutions to improve the situation of Indigenous women and girls. In the panellists’ opinion, what more could States do to uphold sustained and meaningful engagement with Indigenous women throughout policymaking?

Spain said Indigenous populations were overrepresented among people affected by poor living conditions and a lack of access to basic services. High levels of poverty and barriers to participation in the job market were among causes of this phenomenon. Spain upheld a strong commitment to the rights of Indigenous peoples, and in particular those of Indigenous women, by taking an active role in international fora.

Other statements

State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan said there were many cultural centers and public associations dealing with the issue of Indigenous peoples in Azerbaijan. Over 15 newspapers and magazines were published in the languages of ethnic communities of Azerbaijan. Women of other nationalities were active in the women’s branches of political parties, and their participation was ensured at all levels.

Consejo Nacional para la Igualdad de Género de Ecuador said the process undertaken by the Committee was cause for optimism, because equality for women and girls, particularly those who were Indigenous, was a pending debt. The Indigenous population still suffered from discrimination. It was important to recommend concrete actions that could properly fulfil the needs of those whose rights had been violated because of colonial and patriarchal patterns.

Philippines National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, explaining that it was a State mechanism mandated to respect, recognize, protect and promote Indigenous peoples’ rights, said that the equal enjoyment of opportunities by Indigenous women and men in matters which might affect their rights, lives and destinies, was important.

The National Human Rights Commission of India said the Government of India had taken a stand on the concept of Indigenous peoples, stating that it was not relevant to India. The State instead recognized ethnic groups under the category of “scheduled tribes,” who accounted for 8.6 per cent of the population of India. In tribal communities, the role of women was substantial and crucial.

Statements by civil society organizations

African Indigenous Women’s Organization said that an important issue for Indigenous girls was climate change, as it had led to droughts and increased levels of harmful cultural practices. Indigenous girls lacked awareness of their rights, because educating girls was not seen as a priority in many households. The lack of access to reproductive health care was also a problem. Member States needed to ensure that existing laws were implemented.

International Indigenous Women’s Forum said Indigenous women and girls had traditionally been at the forefront of the struggle for rights. The Committee should center its general recommendation on the Convention, which Member States should ratify and implement. Social and economic rights were the priorities.

Article 19 said Indigenous women and girls around the world were confronting some of the greatest threats to their human rights. Article 19 had worked for the promotion of the right of Indigenous women to access information, and had documented that the violation of that right had implications for other human rights. Political violence continued against Indigenous women when they were in decision-making positions, Article 19 added.

Colectiva IXPOP said Indigenous women and female youth were breaking stereotypes when they claimed their rights. The Committee should request that national and transnational extractive companies withdraw from Indigenous lands, as extractive industries were the principal cause of climate change.

National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal said the number of Indigenous women with disabilities was estimated to reach 28 million across the globe. They faced historical invisibility both within the Indigenous community and in society as large. Indigenous women with disabilities were statistically more likely to have been victims of violence. The Committee should ensure the meaningful participation of Indigenous women with disabilities.

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action said that, since 1876, in Canada, the Indian Act had functioned as a tool of assimilation, treating women differently from men and forcing thousands into the non-Indigenous population. The general recommendation should ensure that women’s right to equal enjoyment of their Indigenous culture was understood to encompass equal participation in the institutions and governance of their nations.

MADRE—Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung said the political participation of Indigenous women should be seen from the perspective of Indigenous movements and their involvement in community, local, national, regional, and international life. The Committee should increase the visibility of the experiences, processes, and trajectories of Indigenous women, and help them access information.

Tebtebba (Indigenous People’s International Centre for Policy Research and Education) said there were thousands of undocumented Indigenous people, most of them Indigenous women and girls, who faced discrimination by the mainstream population. That was a hurdle to the collection of data on Indigenous women and girls. The general recommendation should seek to strengthen the institutionalization by States of data disaggregation based on ethnicity.

Pope urges inclusive and sustainable food systems


An article by Robin Gomes from Vatican News

As the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) kicks off its 4-day Conference on Monday, Pope Francis has pledged the support of the Holy See and the Catholic Church for their “dedication to a more just world, at the service of our defenseless and needy brothers and sisters”.  He urged special attention for the poor rural food producers, who are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and hunger. 

A vegetable and food vendor in a market in Jakarta, Indonesia  (ANSA)

The Pope made the remarks on Monday in a message to Michal Kurtyka, the Polish Minister of Climate and Environment, who is chairing FAO’s 42nd Conference at it headquarters in Rome, June 14-18.  While reviewing the state of food and agriculture in the world, the virtual session has as its overall theme, “Agriculture Food Systems Transformation: From Strategy to Action”.

Creating inclusive and sustainable food systems

FAO coordinates international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security. The Pope said that this task assumes a special prominence during the Covid-19 pandemic, as “many of our brothers and sisters still do not have access to the food they need, either in quantity or quality”.  Last year, he noted, the number of these people was the highest in the last five years. With conflicts, extreme weather events, economic crises, together with the current health crisis, the future could be worse. Hence, policies capable of tackling the structural causes of these growing vulnerabilities need to be adopted.

In this regard, a circular economy, which guarantees resources for all, including future generations, and promotes the use of renewable energies, will help create resilient, inclusive and sustainable food systems that will provide healthy and affordable diets for everyone. However, the fundamental factor in recovering from the crisis that is ravaging us is an economy tailored to mankind, not subject only to profit, but anchored in the common good, friendly to ethics and respectful of the environment.

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Question for this article:

What is the relation between movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?

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Farming and rural communities

The reconstruction of post-pandemic economies should take into account the valuable role of family farming and rural communities. The Pope lamented that those who produce food are the ones who suffer from the lack or scarcity of food. “Three-quarters of the world’s poor”, he said, “live in rural areas and depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihoods”.

However, due to lack of access to markets, land ownership, financial resources, infrastructure and technologies, they are most vulnerable to food insecurity.

Pope Francis expressed appreciation for the international community’s effort to enable individual countries achieve food autonomy while preserving local ecosystems and biodiversity. He urged innovative ways to support and help small producers improve their capacities and resilience.

Fraternity vs virus of indifference

As the world prepares to re-launch after the pandemic, Pope Francis said it is fundamental to promote a culture of care against the individualistic and aggressive tendency to discard, which is very present in our societies.

“While a few sow tensions, confrontations and falsehoods”, he said, “we, on the other hand, are invited to patiently and decisively build a culture of peace, which is directed towards initiatives that embrace all aspects of human life and help us to reject the virus of indifference”.

Pope Francis said mere outlining of programs is not enough. Tangible gestures are needed that have as their point of reference the common belonging to the human family and the fostering of fraternity. Gestures that facilitate the creation of a society that promotes education, dialogue and equity.

He urged that all welcome the current trial as an opportunity to prepare for a future for all without discarding anyone, warning, “without an all-embracing vision, there will be no future for anyone”.

The Conference is FAO’s supreme governing body whose main functions are to determine the policies of the Organization, approve the budget, and make recommendations to members and international organizations. 

US-Russia Summit advances key points in international Open Letter


An email received from Unfold Zero

At their Summit Meeting in Geneva yesterday, President’s Biden and Putin adopted a U.S.-Russia Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability in which they reaffirmed ‘the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’ and announced that they will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future. ‘Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.’

This agreement advances key points in the Open Letter to Presidents Biden and Putin in Advance of their June 16, 2021 Summit, which was sent to the two leaders last week. The Open letter was endorsed by over 1200 political, military and religious leaders, as well as legislators, academics and scientists and other representatives of civil society.

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Question related to this article:
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Endorsers included UN Messengers for Peace Michael Douglas and Jane Goodall; public visionary Deepak Chopra; two former UN Under-Secretary Generals for Disarmament Sergio Duarte and Nobuyasu Abe; Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire; former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson; and a number of former foreign and defense ministers, generals, UN ambassadors and other officials of nuclear armed, allied and non-nuclear countries.

From Joint Presidential Statement to concrete policy

In addition to affirming that “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, the Open Letter calls on the USA and Russia to make a ‘joint commitment that their nations will not use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances, and to make this a key step toward fulfilling the United Nations goal to totally eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet.’ The adoption of such No First Use (NFU) policies should be one of the objectives of the Strategic Stability Dialogue that the two leaders are embarking upon.

There is growing traction globally for the adoption of NFU policies by the nuclear armed (and allied) states, as evidenced by legislative action, public appeals and NFU campaigns including the global campaign NoFirstUse Global.

The adoption of such policies would not only reduce the risk of nuclear attacks, but aso pave the way to the adoption of more comprehensive nuclear disarmament measures toward the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. See Why No-First-Use.

Building peace, from the bottom up: A Q&A with Séverine Autesserre


This interview, conducted by Jessica Alexander, was originally published by The New Humanitarian, a news agency specialised in reporting humanitarian crises. It is reprinted here by permission.]

As the number of displaced people around the world reached 80 million people due to conflict and persecution last year, Filippo Grandi, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, acknowledged: “The international community is failing to safeguard peace.” 

Séverine Autesserre addresses these failures and offers a different, more hopeful outlook on ending conflict in her new book, The Frontlines of Peace, released today [May 13]. 

Severine Autesserre with UN peacekeepers

Drawing from research in 12 conflict zones around the world – from the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Afghanistan, to Colombia – Autesserre details what’s wrong with what she refers to as “Peace, Inc.” This traditional approach to ending wars, she explains, relies on foreign-led peacebuilders who lack an in-depth understanding of the societies and cultures in which they work and the causes of violence. 

Lasting peace, she explains, isn’t imported by externals, or driven from elites sitting in capitals. Instead, it relies on the activism of ordinary citizens. It’s time, Autesserre says, for those inside Peace, Inc. to change their relationships with local insiders, shed their unhelpful assumptions, and recognise the potential and power of grassroots initiatives to end conflict. 

Autesserre sat down with The New Humanitarian to talk about her new book and the ways in which international peacebuilders can do better. She describes places like Idjwi, an island in Lake Kivu in Congo that has become a peaceful sanctuary amidst a decades-long conflict. She talks about the way a mother knows that peace has come because her child starts speaking in the future tense.

And she explains why some peacebuilding efforts fail, yet others flourish. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

The New Humanitarian: Your new book is full of examples of successful local level peace initiatives. Why did you feel the need to write this book? And why are its messages especially relevant today? 

Séverine Autesserre: I didn’t set out to write a book about local peace initiatives; I wanted to write a book about how to end violence. One and a half billion people live under the threat of violence in more than 50 countries around the globe. Even countries like France and the United States are facing an increasing number of hate crimes, gang fighting, terror attacks. It’s critical that we do something.

When I started working on The Frontlines of Peace, I had already written two books and dozens of articles on why and how we fail to stop war and end violence. So I wanted to look at success – at what actually works to build peace during and after mass violence.

And it’s because I looked more at the success of peacebuilding that I ended up writing about grassroots efforts, because what works is usually innovative grassroots initiatives that are sometimes supported by foreigners, and they also often use methods that are shunned by the international elite.

TNH: Which kinds of methods are shunned? Can you give an example? 

Autesserre: Take Idjwi, an island in the middle of Lake Kivu near the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. The DRC is home to one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II, but the island of Idjwi itself is a haven of peace. When you look at how Idjwi has maintained peace for the past 20 years, it’s not the usual suspects – the state or the police – who have managed to control tensions; it’s not foreign peacebuilders or peacekeeping missions or international organisations; it’s members of the community themselves.

When I talk with international peacebuilders and peacekeepers, they tell me that ordinary citizens do not have the skills to build peace; they cannot help their situation. And I show that they do.

Residents of Idjwi have what they call a culture of peace – they resolve conflicts through grassroots structures, community meetings, and many other local initiatives that international peacebuilders often dismiss as being completely irrelevant. 

People in Idjwi draw on a very strong belief that helps deter violence by both insiders and outsiders. For instance, you have blood pacts – traditional promises between two parties who agree never to hurt each other. You also have beliefs around witchcraft:

There is a myth that Idjwi is the home of the most powerful sorcerers – that makes Idjwi this kind of place where Congolese in surrounding provinces are afraid to attack because they worry that the sourcerers will attack them back. 

There are many different methods, beliefs. They vary depending on the context, but they are all very specific, local, and rooted in society and cultures. 

TNH: If these local initiatives may have a better chance, and foreign intervention may mess things up or make the situation worse, how do you distinguish which efforts are worthy? 

Autesserre: I don’t say that local initiatives have a better chance, or that foreign intervention messes things up. What I say is that certain local initiatives have a better chance, and certain foreign intervention efforts mess things up; just like there are certain local initiatives that are doomed to fail, and certain foreign intervention efforts that actually make a positive difference – both at the highest level and on the ground. 

In the book, I detail foreign peacebuilders who come from all over the world – working for different organisations in very different countries. They are what I call model interveners, who do actually make a difference at the highest level and on the ground. 

There are a few characteristics which they have in common. They don’t believe that they, as outsiders, know better, or that they have the right theories, skills, and expertise, or that they bring the ideal solutions to people’s problems. Instead, they respect local residents; they listen to them. They are open minded; they understand that other people have a different understanding of peace, democracy, and development.  

They know the local context well; they speak at least some of the local languages; and they have extensive local networks. They are in it for the long run; they stay on-site for years, sometimes decades. They don’t put themselves at the forefront of peace efforts. They don’t put their logos everywhere. Instead, they maintain a low profile and they turn the spotlight on the achievements of their local partners: elites, local staff, ordinary people. 

They are flexible. They keep adapting their strategies based on the results and feedback that they get and the way the situation evolves. They understand that sometimes there are hard choices, because all these things may not fit together so we may have to choose between worthy goals. The best interveners understand that they should not be the ones to make these choices: The people who have to live with the consequences of the decision should be the ones making it.  

TNH: So, it’s not a dichotomy of only local; it’s about having a mix?

Autesserre: Yes, we need top-down and bottom-up. We need both insiders and outsiders. We don’t want to replace top-down with bottom-up or international with local grassroots peacebuilding – we need both. But the reason why I insist on more grassroots bottom-up efforts is because currently most of the international resources and attention is on top-down efforts working at the national and international levels. We need international involvement, but as I show in the book, we also need to change the way we work at the highest level. We need to follow the characteristics of the model peacebuilders which I’ve outlined. 

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Question for this article:

What are the most important books about the culture of peace?

(Continued from left column)

TNH: How do you define success in peace efforts? 

Autesserre: When I was doing the research for the book, I didn’t come in with my own definition of success. I asked people: ‘Do you have peace in your neighborhood, your village, your district or country, and do you think this or that initiative has been successful and, if so, why?’ 

“It’s things like a mother in Congo telling me that my child is now speaking in the future tense; a woman in Colombia saying I know that there is peace in my village because I can sleep in my pajamas.”

Peace and success which I document in the book are based on what peace practitioners and people on the ground feel and experience. It can take a lot of different forms, some of which I would never have thought about. It’s not love and harmony between world leaders or country leaders. It’s things like a mother in Congo telling me that my child is now speaking in the future tense; a woman in Colombia saying I know that there is peace in my village because I can sleep in my pajamas. Before, she always thought there would be fighting during the night and she would have to get dressed and run out, so it was better to go to sleep fully dressed. To her, peace was sleeping in her pajamas. In Colombia, many people mention how they sleep as an indication of peacefulness – with the windows open, the doors unlocked. There are so many other examples: You can use the toilet in your garden when you don’t have toilets in your house at night; you don’t have to use a chamber pot. These are definitions of peace and ways that people perceive peace and success that I would have never thought about.  

TNH: We are hearing similar calls today within the humanitarian sector to take a look in the mirror, to decolonise the humanitarian system and make aid more localised. 

Autesserre: We are all due for a good look in the mirror – peacebuilding, development, humanitarians. I got a message from a friend, a leader of a big humanitarian organisation who said she’s given the book to her board and to her operations director, because we still use too much of “Aid, Inc.” I receive a lot of messages like that, by leaders or people lower down in the chain saying that they are using the book to help advocate for the ideals that they believe in and that I believe in. 

The book is hopefully helping not by showing what we do wrong, but that we can approach peacebuilding and aid differently, and it’s actually effective and possible within all kinds of organisations, countries, and cultures.

TNH: TNH has a new coverage series exploring peacebuilding  – often at the community level – and some of the reports show the power of locally driven approaches. But they also seem vulnerable to political dynamics beyond the community’s control, at the regional and national levels. How do you propose we address that?

Autesserre: A really big issue with our standard approach to peace is that many conflicts revolve around political, social, economic issues that are distinctively local – at the level of individuals, families, and the community. So our common approach [to peacebuilding], which is focused on governments and elites in capital cities, isn’t enough.

I realised this in one of my first visits to Congo in 2003. I met a woman my age, her name was Isabelle. Local militia had attacked her village. They had killed many men, raped many women, looted everything, and tried to kidnap her. Her husband defended Isabelle and said, ‘no, take me’. He went with the militia and Isabelle never saw him again. 

Isabelle told me that the rebels attacked her village not because of the national and international tensions that everyone is talking about, meaning the war between Congo and Rwanda. It was because the rebels wanted to take the land that the villagers needed to survive. I remember her story all these years because it’s about the awful consequences of local conflicts that foreign peacebuilders and peacekeepers and international organisations so often ignore. 

“What I’ve seen when investigating conflicts around the world, is that ordinary citizens and grassroots leaders have a lot more power, skills, and ways to resolve their own problems than we usually believe.”

Locally driven peace approaches are also about building on insiders: people who lead the conflict. Of course, local leaders, ordinary citizens, are not by definition better, more peaceful, or less corrupt than national and international elites. But to me, they are better placed to address the local context, the grassroots issues, because only they know the ins and outs of their specific situation.

What I’ve seen when investigating conflicts around the world, is that ordinary citizens and grassroots leaders have a lot more power, skills, and ways to resolve their own problems than we usually believe. In every single conflict that I’ve researched, in every country, I’ve found examples of ordinary citizens and grassroots activists who use their personal connections to convince the leaders of surrounding armed groups to come and negotiate. What is fascinating is how personal peacebuilding actually is. It is fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters reaching out to family members who are fighting. Teachers, who go to meet their former students, or village leaders within their own community, telling them they had to stop fighting. 

Take Somalia, which is extremely violent, has terror attacks, and violence every week, versus Somaliland, an autonomous region in the north of Somalia that has experienced very little violence for the past 20 years, very little terrorism, has a well functioning state, decent public services, and even some kind of functioning democracy. The key difference to me is that Somaliland benefited from sustained grassroots peacebuilding initiatives that were led by insiders, by Somali leaders themselves. If you look at the rest of Somalia, you see the usual top-down, outsider-led Peace, Inc. approach used. To me, Somaliland is important to keep in mind because it shows that, yes, there are places where the local peace can be jeopardised by an armed group or the government, but Somaliland shows you there are ways to make bottom-up peace very robust and sustainable. 

TNH: When you look at today’s violence in Tigray: a cross-border conflict and a civil war – surely a place where you would need foreign involvement  – what advice would you have for leaders at this stage in finding peace? 

Autesserre: You should ask people in Tigray, not me. We need to ask and not just jump in no matter what. Listen and respect the wishes of the people you’ve been talking to before jumping in. 

TNH: Local power dynamics can exclude the voices of some – like women in a place like Afghanistan. How can that be addressed? 

Autesserre: You have the same problem with national and international dynamics. The fact that local power dynamics exclude the voices of women is not specific to local dynamics. It’s something that happens with all kinds of peace agreements and peace processes. When you look at the representation of women in the current Afghan peace talks – and virtually all other international and national peace talks for that matter – it’s highly problematic.

Representation of women is very low. And it’s not only women – there are also a lot of minority communities that are excluded from these processes. 

“When you ask me, how do we address power dynamics which cut out the voice of some, you have to ask people who are excluded –  what do they want?”

One of the characteristics of the model peacebuilders that I talk about is that sometimes there are hard choices. Sometimes we have to choose between worthy goals – for instance, between peace and democracy or peace and justice. If you take peace and democracy, there has been a lot of research showing that elections organised right after the end of the conflict often fuel violence rather than promote peace. So you have tension between peace and democracy. 

It’s the people who have to live with the consequences of the decision who should be the ones making it. When you ask me, how do we address power dynamics which cut out the voice of some, you have to ask people who are excluded –  what do they want? Ask women in Afghanistan what they want us to prioritise. 

TNH: Syria talks on a possible new constitution seem stalled before they got started. Is there a point at which the UN should throw its hands up and recognise when talks aren’t going anywhere? 

Autesserre: If you’re asking me when should we stop trying to build peace, my answer is never. When should we stop using what I call the Peace, Inc. approach and consider an alternative way to build peace? Well, my answer is right now. 

Source of this article

Movement Letter to Facebook


A petition from Facebook We Need to Talk

dear sheryl sandberg,

We write as civil society organizations in the United States, Palestine, and beyond, angered and disturbed by the recent censorship of Palestinian users and their supporters on your platforms. We are equally horrified by the high levels of inciting content directed towards Palestinians on Facebook’s platforms. At this moment, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are often Palestinian protestors’ and residents’ only tools to share information to keep each other safe in the face of repression by the Israeli government and police, and during attacks on civilians. These platforms also play a key role in Palestinian users and their allies in documenting Israeli government human rights violations, and sharing the images, videos, and accounts of the murder and violent dispossession of Palestinians being perpetrated by the Israeli government and Zionist Israeli settlers. This blatant censorship of Palestinian political content is putting these activists further at risk. 

As Palestinian residents defend their homes in Jerusalem from forced dispossession by the Israeli government and state-sanctioned Zionist settler groups, their calls for support have received widespread international attention—inspiring social media campaigns and mass protests around the world. This international outcry only grew after the Israeli military attacked Ramadan worshippers at al-Aqsa mosque and started brutally bombing Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip —an ongoing onslaught that killed over 200 people, including at least 60 children. And the the international community continued to mobilize as, immediately in the wake of a ceasefire, Israeli police fired stun grenades on Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa complex and embarked on a mass-arrest campaign of Palestinian citizens of Israel that has resulted in over 1,500 arrests targeting protestors.

Facebook executives’ decision at this moment to directly collaborate with Israeli Defense and Justice Minister Gantz on content moderation, without appropriate parity of government engagement until prompted by civil society, is beyond outrageous. Facebook may need to consult governments on various content and policy issues in its work; however, to coordinate with the Israeli government — which the United Nations and multiple human rights organizations have called an apartheid state — publicly in the middle of a military assault on Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, attacks on Palestinian citizens in Israel, and forcible displacement of Palestinians in East Jerusalem is dangerous overreach at best. 

In addition, the numerous reports of removal or chilling of political speech that several of our organizations have received over the past two weeks, combined with the report released by 7amleh last week that includes 429 reported incidents from Instagram and Facebook, raise concerns about Facebook’s relationship with the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s extra-legal Cyber Unit. The fact that since May 6 there has been widespread removal of Palestinians’ content or supportive content (including removal of content and deactivation of accounts or pages based on Community Standards violations, as well as the mass removal of Instagram stories) that after review have been restored for lack of any violation, indicates that Facebook is perhaps voluntarily agreeing to takedowns recommended by the Israeli Cyber Unit. This unclear relationship between Facebook and the Israeli Cyber Unit is concerning, as it is not subject to any formal governmental or legal process. 

Such indications of Facebook’s privileged relationship with the Israeli government contradict the assurances that Facebook community engagement and content policy representatives have repeatedly made to those of us that have engaged in good faith as stakeholders in Facebook’s content policy process, specifically over the past six months around Facebook’s possible reinterpretation of “Zionist.” When expressing concern that current or future policies (such as those stifling criticism of “Zionists” or “Zionist” institutions) would silence Palestinians and those of us organizing to hold the Israeli government accountable, we have often been assured that Facebook does not have a privileged relationship with the Israeli government —that our concerns are unfounded. Given Facebook’s decision to collaborate with the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Justice, the possible relationship between Facebook and the Israeli Cyber Unit, and The Intercept’s recent investigation regarding Facebook’s content moderation rules silencing criticism of Israel, our communities’ mistrust of the company is increasing.

Facebook must take the following urgent and crucial steps to repair this mistrust with our communities and ensure that we can count on Facebook and Instagram as free civic spaces and tools for holding governments accountable:

  1. Uphold your own commitment to respect human rights and “to be a place for equality, safety, dignity and free speech” as set in your corporate human rights policy, engage with human rights organizations and civil society groups to immediately address the concerns we have raised, and stop censoring Palestinians on your platforms.

  2. Provide transparency on how Facebook is applying content policies, such as those around hate speech and incitement of violence, as it relates to the following ethnic and religious identities and political ideologies: Palestinians, Jews, Israelis, and Zionists. 

  3. Evaluate Facebook’s relationship with the Israeli government across ministries and sever ties with Israel’s Cyber Unit, which may be directing the takedown of content that does not violate any community standards and, therefore, may be leading to the censorship or chilling of political speech. 

  4. Preserve and share all data on content removals. This includes, but is not limited to, information about which takedowns did not receive human review, whether users tried to appeal the takedown, and reported incidents from Facebook and Instagram users that were not acted upon.

  5. Allow independent researchers and stakeholders to review blocked or removed content and all data related to such content removals, subject to data protection and privacy requirements. This good-faith gesture will allow external oversight of moderation mechanisms to vetted researchers and independent stakeholders with relevant expertise to provide additional oversight of redress mechanisms and the fairness and effectiveness of appeal mechanisms, particularly for historically marginalized groups, and work to rebuild trust with those groups.

 Urgent action is required from Facebook to examine its complicity with the Israeli government’s apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies. We urge you to reply to this letter publicly and engage with us immediately. 

(Continued in the column on the right.)

Questions related to this article:

Is Internet freedom a basic human right?

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

(Continued from the column on the left.)


(list as of May 27)

7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media

Access Now

Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)

Adalah Justice Project

American Friends Service Committee

American Muslims for Palestine

BDS Berlin

BDS France

Center for Constitutional Rights


Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

docP – BDS Netherlands

Een Andere Joodse Stem, Another Jewish Voice, Belgium

Fight for the Future

For Us Not Amazon

Free Speech on Israel (UK)

Friends of Sabeel North America

ICNA Council for Social Justice


Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Jetpac Resource Center

Jewish Voice for Just Peace (Ireland)

Jewish Voice for Labour

Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Network for Palestine

Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA)


La ColectiVA

Masaar – Technology and Law Community


MENA Rights Group


MPower Change

National Lawyers Guild

National Students for Justice in Palestine

Palestine Legal

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Ranking Digital Rights

R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)



The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy

United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR)

Uplift – A People Powered Community (Ireland)

We Are Not Numbers