Sunday, 31 October 2010

Did the Harper Conservatives ever really want a Security Council seat..?

Filed under: Middle East,News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:15 PDT

I served with the PPCLI and, during that time, I served on three United Nations (UN) missions. Two out of the three missions were in the Middle East. After leaving the military I applied this experience to both my undergraduate degree and graduate work. I did so not because it was convenient or familiar, but because I had learned a great lesson in humility from these experiences.

Before going overseas I, like many people, assumed that Israel was in the right, especially in regards to their stance regarding the Palestinians. To be clear, I did try my best to read more than the information presented in the newspapers…

So, when I finally met Iraqis, Iranians, Turks, Saudis, and, yes, even the nefarious Palestinians, I was both shocked and troubled to realize exactly how wrong my perspectives were, and how deep my biases ran. When I returned to Canada and finally left the military (after one more tour of duty), the direction of my studies was driven by a quest to understand; to find out how I could have been so wrong when I was genuinely trying to understand.

After much research, studying, discussions, and presentations, I found myself adding my voice to the Palestinian ‘Right to Return’ movement (under the oft ignored UN Resolution 194). I did not do so because I am against Israel…

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Saturday, 30 October 2010

St. Anne’s anti-bullying program… bringing down bullying incidents

Filed under: children and youth,Dispute resolution and negotiation,Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:28 PDT

It is lunchtime at St. Anne Catholic School in Kanata, Ont., and a squabble is under way at a hockey net in the playground. Hannah Gartland, 10, and Sarah Cousineau and Nick Kidd, both 11, march over, a mini riot squad in their bright yellow vests that read “Peer Mediator.” The Grade 1 boys, immersed in bickering over who should get to play goal, stop immediately and spill their sides of the story. “How about every goal, you guys switch,” Nick suggests. “You can be defence,” Sarah tells one boy. “Does that sound fair?” Problem solved, a little grudgingly. “Great,” Hannah says cheerfully. “Have a good game.” The three walk off, alert to more playground mayhem.

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The world’s attempt to control blood diamonds is teetering

Filed under: Africa files,Business, Human Rights, Environment,Human Rights,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:24 PDT

The world’s attempt to control blood diamonds is teetering on the brink of collapse as nations squabble over how to regulate the lucrative trade from Zimbabwe’s violence-plagued diamond fields.

The sensational Zimbabwe diamond discovery – which could represent up to 25 per cent of the world’s supply of rough diamonds within two years – has massive implications for the world’s diamond industry, in which Canada is now one of the top producers….

At a meeting in Jerusalem next week, diplomats and civil-society activists will try to hammer out the conditions that Zimbabwe must accept if it wants its diamonds to be certified as “conflict-free.”

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Friday, 29 October 2010

Peacekeeping passes Canada by

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:58 PDT

Peacekeeping is so deeply embedded in Canada’s cultural DNA that it even featured in the famous “Joe Canadian” beer commercials a decade ago. “I believe in peacekeeping, not policing,” the actor in the Molson commercials declared. “My name is Joe, and I am Canadian!”…

For nearly 40 years, Canada was one of the top UN mission contributors. By the 1990s, more than 50,000 Canadian soldiers had become peacekeepers – more than any other nation. A poll found that 69 per cent of Canadians considered peacekeeping “a defining characteristic of Canada.”

It all began to go sour in the early 1990s…

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Don’t write off the future of peacekeeping

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:54 PDT

The enduring loyalty of Canadians to United Nations peacekeeping should not be treated – as it often is these days – as an unwanted remnant of the past. Canadians are correct in believing that peacekeeping has a vital role to play in the increasingly challenging world of global conflict.

Contrary to the impression often left by our political leaders, peacekeeping has not died, nor has the demand for it dissipated. There are currently 122,000 peacekeepers from 115 countries deployed in 15 UN operations worldwide.

This growth is unprecedented – although largely unknown in Canada, since our soldiers have largely disappeared from UN peacekeeping operations during the past dozen years.

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Thursday, 28 October 2010

DON’T MOVE – Mines Action Canada

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 15:50 PDT

Mines Action Canada’s goal is to make this inspiring and educational kinetic film go as viral as possible – and this is where we need YOUR help!! We are asking you to post it on your facebook page as a link or as your status, make it your Skype status, tweet about it and encourage other people in your networks to the same.

Arnotts to avoid child labour chocolate

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,children and youth,Human Rights,Humanitarian work — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 14:21 PDT

BISCUIT company Arnotts will source ethical cocoa that has not been processed with the use of child labour for all of its chocolate-based products, World Vision says.

In response to a public campaign by World Vision earlier this year, Arnotts said it was committed to playing its part by sourcing sustainable cocoa that avoids the use of child trafficking and unacceptable forms of child labour by the end of September 2010.

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Lobbying blitz helps kill mining ethics bill

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 14:20 PDT

The House of Commons has defeated Liberal legislation aimed at encouraging Canadian mining firms to act ethically abroad after a fierce lobbying battle that pitted the industry against its international and domestic critics.

Human rights and environmental advocates had argued that the bill would help prevent corporate abuses abroad and recounted accusations of rape, corruption and violence against the industry during parliamentary hearings.

Mining firms called the allegations disturbing lies and “hogwash” when they presented their case against the bill. Industry officials said ethical guidelines are already in place and warned the measures would cost jobs and give their critics a forum for frivolous accusations.

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Land Mines Are War Crimes: Just ask Joao Silva

Filed under: Disarmament,International Law: War,Media and Conflict,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:55 PDT

The land mine that took Joao Silva’s feet worked perfectly.

Silva, a brilliant and courageous photojournalist on contract to the New York Times — and, in the eyes of many colleagues, one of the finest combat photographers of his generation — suffered grievous injuries Saturday after stepping on a mine while embedded with U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan… Silva didn’t die because he wasn’t supposed to. The weapon’s maker — given its location, probably an old Soviet arms manufacturer — had calculated the exact formula of explosives and shrapnel required to maim, shredding tissue and smashing bones, but not to kill.

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To the Women of Afghanistan

Filed under: gender,Humanitarian work,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:48 PDT

Women of Afghanistan, it is time to go to the barricades. Now is the hour to claim your rights. Negotiations are under way in earnest; the Taliban are at the table, so are the warlords and bandits, tribal elders and the president. There’s not a woman in sight. Yet everyone knows you are the ones who can yank Afghanistan into the 21st century.

Even über-economists like Jeffrey Sachs of millennium-goals fame are saying there is a direct correlation between the status of women and the economy — where one is flourishing, so is the other, where one is in the ditch so is the other. Every indicator says it’s the women who can lead Afghanistan away from the abyss. So go ahead and claim your space.

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Africa: Ignoring Women With Guns

Filed under: Africa files,children and youth,gender — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:44 PDT

Johannesburg — The perception that women are only ever victims of conflict ignores the large numbers of female combatants, which can result in their exclusion from disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report, State of the World Population 2010: From Conflict and Crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change, released on 20 October 2010, acknowledges the role women play in forging peace, but cautions against the assumptions of women as nurturers and “natural peace-makers … [choosing] non-violent solutions rather than conflict whenever possible”.

Megan MacKenzie, a fellow of Harvard University’s gender and security programme and now teaching at Victoria University in the New Zealand capital of Wellington, states: “Little is written about women and girls as agents within the civil conflict.

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Youth Drama Tackles Religious Tolerance in Lebanon

Filed under: children and youth,Media and Conflict,Middle East,Peaceworkers in the news,Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:25 PDT

MROUJ – “Kilna Bil Hayy” (“All of us in the neighborhood”) is a weekly Lebanese television drama that tells the story of six children who live in the same neighborhood and attend the same school.

The children are all from different religious backgrounds and ethnic groups that comprise Lebanon: Lara is Druze, Kevin is Christian, Nadim is Sunni, Sara is Shiite, Mohammad is Palestinian, and Pateel is Armenian…

Some episodes deal with other universal issues such as bullying at school or the consequences of an unchecked competitive spirit and small lies. One episode deals with the topical problem of reckless driving.

The show targets children aged between 10 and 14 and is produced and created by the nonprofit organization Search For Common Ground…

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Child Soldier Makes a Deal

Filed under: children and youth,Human Rights,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:29 PDT

“Omar Khadr is not a victim. He’s not a child soldier,” Navy Captain John F. Murphy, the chief military commissions prosecutor, said today after Khadr reached a deal, in which he pleaded guilty to various crimes, that forestalled his trial in Guantánamo. “He’s convicted on his own words.”

“Not a child soldier” because he pleaded guilty? Did the plea deal involve changing his Canadian birth certificate? (He was born in Toronto on September 19, 1986.) No side in this case denies that Khadr was fifteen years old when he was pulled, half dead, from a battlefield in Afghanistan. The one who led him there was his father, an Al Qaeda associate. (I’ve written about Khadr’s case before.) He has been held without a trial for eight years, a third of his life, and is the youngest prisoner at Guantánamo. The plea deal, as Carol Rosenberg, of the Miami Herald, reported, is meant to “return him to Canada in a year to serve seven more years in prison there.”

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BC’s Inadequate Legal Aid Violates Equality Rights

Filed under: gender,Human Rights — administrator @ 07:43 PDT

The government of British Columbia must provide adequate legal aid funding and stop violating Canada’s international human rights obligations, says Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of Canadian human rights lawyers, in a report submitted today to the BC Commission on Legal Aid.

“United Nations human rights committees have criticized BC’s legal aid system for several years,” said LRWC Executive Director Gail Davidson.

Since 2006 the UN has cautioned that inadequate legal aid funding in BC prevents low income people from enforcing their rights, contrary to BC’s obligation to ensure the enjoyment of all protected right by all people. UN reports have criticized BC’s lack of access to justice for women, indigenous people and minorities especially in cases involving family and poverty law. (read more…)

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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Measuring Peace in the Media

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:30 PDT

LONDON –The Institute for Economics and Peace and Media Tenor have released “Measuring Peace in the Media”, the first study that takes a fact-based approach into understanding the accuracy of international television networks’ coverage of peace, violence and conflict.

The results show broad inconsistencies across geographies and networks, with US broadcasters much more focused on violence and conflict than their European and Middle Eastern counterparts. Al Jazeera was found to be the network providing the most balanced coverage on Afghanistan. BBC World led the way when it came to breadth of coverage. It regularly reported on 67 countries across six continents which is nearly twice as many countries as the average level of coverage.

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2010 Women PeaceMakers

Filed under: Africa files,gender,Peaceworkers in the news,Southeast Asia — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:29 PDT

Vaiba Kebeh Flomo of Liberia
Peace activist and social worker Vaiba Kebeh Flomo has worked since 1998 to heal both her nation and its women from the 14-year civil war between rebel groups and the Liberian army….

Sarah Akoru Lochodo of Kenya
Sarah Akoru Lochodo is the only woman – but a powerful one – negotiating among the semi-nomadic and pastoralist communities in her native Turkana District of northwestern Kenya, a region with a long history of violent confrontations…

Merlie “Milet” B. Mendoza of the Philippines
Peace practitioner and humanitarian Merlie “Milet” B. Mendoza of the Philippines has over two decades of peacebuilding experience ranging from the Office of the President in Manila to the conflicted frontlines of Mindanao…

Nora Chengeto Tapiwa of Zimbabwe
A dedicated activist, Nora Chengeto Tapiwa works to protect and procure the peace and human rights of her fellow Zimbabweans – in both Zimbabwe and South Africa…

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Cambodia passes on demining skills

Filed under: Cambodia,Disarmament — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:28 PDT

Clearing landmines and unexploded bombs for years has given Cambodia expertise it now shares to help other nations afflicted with similar problems.

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Why Sisterly Chats Make People Happier

Filed under: gender — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:21 PDT

“Having a Sister Makes You Happier”: that was the headline on a recent article about a study finding that adolescents who have a sister are less likely to report such feelings as “I am unhappy, sad or depressed” and “I feel like no one loves me.”

These findings are no fluke; other studies have come to similar conclusions. But why would having a sister make you happier?…

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Monday, 25 October 2010

PHILIPPINES: Launch of Women Corps in Mindanao’s Peace Process a Breakthrough – Peace Group

Filed under: gender,Peaceworkers in the news,Southeast Asia — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:20 PDT

The Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC), a Davao City-based peace advocacy group, considered Monday’s launching of the women contingent in the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) a breakthrough.

This is also a first time that Bangsamoro women, lumad women and Christian settlers joined their efforts, regardless of race and religion, to protect peace in Mindanao.

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Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Art of Social Change

In 1929, the Church of Scotland Mission, which had a long and successful history of missionary work among the Kikuyu in colonial Kenya, began a campaign to eradicate the practice of female circumcision. The results were hardly what church members hoped for. Large numbers of Kikuyu left the church, and Kenya’s leading anticolonial political organization mounted a vigorous attack on the church’s policies. Female circumcision became a nationalist issue, and a custom that might have gradually disappeared grew further entrenched. Nearly 40 percent of Kenyan women today are estimated to have undergone some form of it.

So if you care about the foreign victims of immemorial, immoral rituals, you will want to proceed carefully and perhaps learn from history. International humanitarian campaigns don’t have to backfire. It might be useful to look at their notable successes, in fact, and see what swung the balance.

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