Saturday, 31 October 2009

Caring for What Happens in the World vs Moral Indifference or Moral Apathy

Filed under: Human Rights,Humanitarian work — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:24 PDT

I guess we all have, now and again, the feeling that it’s strange that we go about our business as usual, being content or even happy, when at the same time in another place in the world, someone is suffering, being tortured, killed, raped or whatever. Normally, we don’t think about these facts, because that would make our lives impossible. Thinking about it causes feelings of guilt and unease. Even though we’re often not directly responsible for what happens to these people, there’s always the lingering thought that there may be something we can do to help. And probably there is something we can do, especially if we invested some more effort in associating with others. (Individually we may indeed be powerless).

And there’s an even more unsettling thought lurking deeper in the backs of our minds, namely that we are responsible to some extent, even for the suffering of people thousands of miles away, people we don’t know and will never know. Thomas Pogge for instance has claimed – correctly in my view – that in our globalized world we all contribute, to some extent, to institutions, rules and processes that violate human rights. For example, we buy clothes from companies that use child labor or ban trade unions; we still profit from colonial exploitation that happened more than a century ago; we acquiesce in democratically enacted laws that exclude poor producers from our markets etc.

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The New Face of Mediation: New tv series called “Facing Kate”

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation,Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:23 PDT

Mediation may soon be shown in a more glamorous way thanks to USA Network, which is developing a new tv series called “Facing Kate” for Sarah Shahi, in which she will be playing a lawyer who decides to become a mediator. (see story in the Hollywood Reporter) This has to be good news for the public image of mediation. Now people will start seeing mediation as sexy and exciting.

Mediators, however, may have to worry about cleaning up their acts. Lest participants be disappointed when they see how ordinary most of us look compared to the actors on tv…

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Reviving Tsawwassen’s voice

Filed under: children and youth,Indigenous Peoples — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:22 PDT

A group of preschoolers stand in a semi-circle clutching handfuls of fall leaves in red, orange, yellow and green.

Their small, cheerful voices sing “autumn leaves are falling down/falling down/falling down” to the tune of the well-known London Bridge is falling down nursery rhyme.

After singing the English version, teachers Peggy Plumstead McLeod and Jen McCrystal encourage the youngsters to sing again—in Hən’q’əminəm’.

It’s circle time at the Smuyuq’wa’ Lelum/Ladybug Lodge Early Childhood Development Centre at the Tsawwassen First Nation. Three times a week language coordinator Barb Joe joins the class to help incorporate Hən’q’əminəm’ words into their routine, such as colours, seasons, nursery rhymes and body parts.

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ABSTRACT: Just forest governance: how small learning groups can have big impact

Filed under: Africa files,Books, reports, sites, blogs,Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:39 PDT

Forests are power bases, but often for the wrong people. As attention turns from making an international deal on REDD to making it work on the ground, the hunt will be on for practical ways of shifting power over forests towards those who enable and pursue sustainable forest-linked livelihoods. The Forest Governance Learning Group – an alliance active in Cameroon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda and Vietnam – has developed practical tactics for securing safe space, provoking dialogue, building constituencies, wielding evidence and interacting politically…. (full report)

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Court upholds Mu Sochua conviction

Filed under: Cambodia,Human Rights — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 06:37 PDT

THE Court of Appeal has upheld the defamation conviction of opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, an outcome the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian described as “politically motivated”.

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Friday, 30 October 2009

Canadian court gives longest possible sentence in historic Rwanda war crimes case

Filed under: International Law: War,Rwanda — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 06:59 PDT

MONTREAL — A Canadian judge has imposed the toughest sentence possible on a man convicted of committing atrocities during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, described as the worst possible crime a human being can commit.

In a historic case, Desire Munyaneza was sentenced Thursday to life imprisonment without possibility of parole for 25 years.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Andre Denis handed down the sentence in a case international legal observers followed closely because of the implications it could have on similar prosecutions both here and abroad.

He is the first person convicted under Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, enacted in 2000.

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Why Women Are The Real Architects Of Peace

Filed under: gender — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 06:58 PDT

While much criticism has been leveled at the Nobel committee’s selection of our president as the recipient of this award, I think the committee’s award choice was intended to serve a larger purpose than just the acknowledgment of a single human’s efforts. I think it was more about using Obama’s moment in the historical spotlight to harness his charisma as a leader to engage the world in a new conversation about how to achieve peace in our lifetime.

Here at home in the U.S., Obama has a golden opportunity to take a huge step in that direction by issuing an executive order establishing a Department of Peace with a cabinet level Secretary of Peace as its head.

Want to really make strides and advance another cause at the same time? Appoint a female as our peacemaker-in-chief! Doesn’t that sound like a job cut out for Oprah? OK, probably not, but it surely is a job cut out for a woman.

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UNV programme mourns the deaths of two volunteers in Afghanistan

Filed under: Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 06:45 PDT

Kabul, Afghanistan: The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of two UNV volunteers, Ms. Jossie G. Esto, 40, from the Philippines, and Ms. Yah-Lydia Wonyene, 47, from Liberia, who were killed in an armed attack on a United Nations guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan today.

The attack killed three other United Nations personnel and wounded several others, including a UNV volunteer.

The Executive Coordinator of UNV, Ms. Flavia Pansieri, expressed condolences on behalf of the organization’s 8,000 volunteers and staff to the families of the two UNV volunteers. She noted that the two women were in Afghanistan to support democratic elections. “Jossie and Lydia dedicated their knowledge and experience as volunteers to support the people of Afghanistan. As volunteers, they demonstrated a true commitment to the cause of peace and development and their sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

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Thursday, 29 October 2009

Afghanistan: More Schools, Not Troops

Filed under: children and youth,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:29 PDT

Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.

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Don’t shift poverty money to climate

Filed under: children and youth,Environment,Human Rights,Humanitarian work — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:28 PDT

In the early 1970s, rich countries committed to give 0.7 percent of their income in the form of aid to poor developing countries as Overseas Development Assistance. In the past decade a few countries have actually reached this target and others have plans to achieve it in the next few years. This money is used primarily for poverty reduction and long-term development goals in developing countries.

But climate change is now creating additional burdens on poor communities across the world. This means that poor communities need additional support to adapt and cope with climate-related changes, including increases in the frequency and severity of weather-related disasters and other slow changes such as sea-level rise, melting glaciers and shifting seasons.

The poor are least responsible for causing climate change but are most affected. Under the laws of natural justice, that suggests richer nations need to stem climate change, and help poorer nations cope with the damage done.

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Osgoode Hall Law School convenes consultation on UN Corporate Law Tools Project of UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,Human Rights — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:19 PDT

TORONTO – York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School is convening next month’s Expert Consultation on Corporate Law and Human Rights: Opportunities and Challenges of Using Corporate Law to Encourage Corporations to Respect Human Rights.

The expert consultation, which is being held November 5 and 6, 2009 at Osgoode Professional Development Centre, will bring together corporate lawyers, civil society, academics, government regulators and industry representatives in support of the Corporate Law Tools Project of Harvard University Professor John Ruggie, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights (SRSG).

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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

What Obama’s Doing With Fox News

Filed under: Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:24 PDT

I think some people are under the impression that the White House wants Fox News to disappear. Nothing, I suspect, could be further from the truth. The White House is in fact delighted that Fox News and its merry cast of commentators exists. Nor is the White House vexed that its every pronouncement concerning Fox News solidifies Fox’s core audience; that’s actually the plan. The point is not to moderate Fox News by accusing it of being biased/not a real news organization/running or being the propoganda arm of the GOP; if anything, the point is to make it more extreme in the views it airs.

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Church of England dismisses Christian peace poll and backs the military

Filed under: Art of Peacework,Peaceworkers in the news,Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:15 PDT

In the run-up to Remembrance Day, a Church of England spokesperson has dismissed a poll at a major Christian arts festival which suggests that many British Christians want troops out of Afghanistan, an end to UK arms exports and a more decisive stand for peace by the churches.

The survey was taken at the Greenbelt Festival in August and the results, released this week, suggest that a large percentage of British Christians now see peace and nonviolence as central to their faith.

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US | Students Can Opt Themselves Out So That Schools Don’t Hand Their Info to Military Recruiters

Filed under: children and youth,Human Rights,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:15 PDT

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 (NCLB) required schools to hand over identifying student information to military recruiters. Military recruiters routinely use these lists to try to meet their quota, known as their “mission,” by making repeated and persistent phone calls to students and family members. And in order to meet these quotas, too many military recruiters lie to students (see a compilation of military recruiters caught lying on tape). There is an opt-out provision of the NCLB which allows parents or students to opt themselves out of this invasion of privacy and attempt to militarize youth, but this provision is widely misunderstood and underutilized as a method for helping to spur student activism.

I know most opt-out periods are over or almost over, but I’ve been in touch with a few folks in recent weeks who have said they’ve been having difficulties getting schools to recognize students’ rights to opt themselves out of their schools’ hand-over of their identifying data to military recruiters.

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November 11 | Martin of Tours: Patron Saint of Concientious Objectors

Filed under: Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:18 PDT

Saint Martin of Tours (Latin: Sanctus Martinus Turonensis), (Savaria, Pannonia {now Szombathely, Hungary}, 316 – November 8, 397 in Candes-Saint-Martin, Gaul {central France}; buried November 11, 397, Candes, Gaul) was a Bishop of Tours whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Communist monasteries in Nepal. Around his name much legendary material accrued and he has become one of the most familiar and recognizable Roman Catholic saints. He is considered a spiritual bridge across Europe, given his association with both France and Hungary.[2]

While Martin was still a soldier at Amiens he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. He was at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers when he met a scantily dressed beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clad me.” (Sulpicius, ch 2) ..

The dream confirmed Martin in his piety and he was baptized at the age of 18.[3] He served in the military for another two years until, just before a battle with the Gauls at Worms in 336, Martin determined that his faith prohibited him from fighting, saying, “I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight.” He was charged with cowardice and jailed, but in response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops. His superiors planned to take him up on the offer, but before they could, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service.[4]

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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

What is a Civil Peace Service?

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation,Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:26 PDT

Kai Fritjof Brand Jacobsen of the European Network for Civil Peace Service.

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USA | Twitter Jitters: Can What You Tweet About Police Land You in Jail?

Filed under: Human Rights,Media and Conflict,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:12 PDT

“SWAT teams rolling down 5th Ave. … Report received that police are nabbing anyone that looks like a protester. … Stay alert watch your friends!” Pennsylvania State Police arrested New York social worker Elliot Madison last month for being part of a group that posted messages like those on Twitter

This “Twitter arrest” comes at a time when Web-based social networks are becoming the favored forums of political engagement. According to a September 2009 Pew Internet & American Life Project study on Internet and Civic Engagement, almost 20 percent of all Internet users have posted material about political or social issues on a social networking site for a civic or political engagement.

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Rwanda: Now the Tragedy has Irony

Filed under: Humanitarian work,Media and Conflict,Rwanda — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:13 PDT

Rwanda is a place where the generally accepted and reported narrative is increasingly diverging from the facts on the ground.

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Monday, 26 October 2009

The Fun Theory: The easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do

Filed under: Art of Peacework — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 17:38 PDT

The easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do…

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Saturday, 24 October 2009

Will Canada help the UN meet tomorrow’s challenges?

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:35 PDT

United Nations Day offers an opportunity to celebrate the UN’s many accomplishments which include the transition from colonial rule to independence for many countries, the advent of peacekeeping, the evolution of human rights and new International Criminal Court, and the tremendous day-to-day work by UN programs and agencies promoting social and economic development.

But to meet tomorrow’s changing global challenges, the UN must adapt.   Canada could contribute by championing two vital initiatives.

First, the UN needs its own standing emergency peace service that would include a robust military component in addition to civilian teams for disaster assistance, human rights monitoring and conflict resolution.  By acting immediately before problems escalate, such an agency could save billions of dollars and millions of lives. (read more…)

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