Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Corporations and NGOs: When Accountability Leads to Co-optation

Filed under: Humanitarian work,Latin America & Caribbean — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:10 PDT

As both corporations and NGOs face increased public scrutiny, partnerships between them are supposed to represent a “win–win” for both sides, providing enhanced legitimacy to corporations and increased revenue and/or influence to NGOs. Ideally, if both sides become more accountable for their actions and face greater public scrutiny, their overall impact on society should improve over time. In particular, one could expect that if increased collaboration across the for-profit/nonprofit divide can be shown to yield such positive results, civil society could play a heightened role in shaping business practices and could thereby at least partially compensate for diminished governmental capacities in advancing human rights and environmental protection.

Yet, counter to the claims that increased accountability demands will improve business practices and strengthen the voice of NGOs, we argue here that such pressures—especially when translated into partnerships between corporations and nonprofits—actually increase the likelihood of co-optation and compromise the independence of NGOs.

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In Search of the ‘New Informal Legitimacy’ of Médecins Sans Frontières

Filed under: Humanitarian work,Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:06 PDT

Humanitarian action is a prominent part of the political and moral landscape of this 21st century. It has been a source of relief for innumerable people, and an essential expression of cosmopolitan solidarity. At the same time, it is a versatile concept, including Northern/Western expressions of mainstream humanitarianism, which encompass an ideology, a profession and a movement (Donini, 2010). Humanitarianism has been criticized on all these accounts (Pfeifer, 2004; Barnett and Weiss, 2008). Critics and analysts include scholars from various disciplines, such as political sciences, sociology and anthropology. Their reservations relate to the three broad categories of arguments: humanitarian actions themselves, political linkages (De Waal, 1997) and media representations (Hours, 1998a; Boltanski, 2000).

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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Threats and Violence Continue against Salvadoran Environmentalists

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,Environment,Human Rights,Latin America & Caribbean — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 19:26 PDT

Violence and intimidation continue in El Salvador against environmental activists and human rights defenders who have publicly opposed metallic mining. The latest round of threats targetted a Salvadoran Catholic priest, Father Neftalí Ruiz, and a community radio station, Radio Victoria.

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Transit: A Photojournalist’s Quest to Tell the Stories of People on the Run

Filed under: Africa files,Art of Peacework — administrator @ 09:00 PDT

Espen Rasmussen, an Oslo-based photographer, has spent seven years documenting displaced people around the world for his Transit project, a multimedia work that includes photography, video, a website, and an exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. The videos blend Rasmussen’s photographs and interviews, edited together by Anna Stevens at Panos Pictures, to tell the personal stories of people coping in the wake of devastating events. In this segment, he interviews women in a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 1.9 million people have been displaced. The photographer reflects on the ongoing project in an interview below.

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It Takes Two to Engage

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,Dispute resolution and negotiation,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:55 PDT

Just over three years have passed since President Barack Obama extended a hand to the Islamic Republic of Iran in the hope of stopping its quest for nuclear weapons. Today his policy of engaging Tehran is judged by many to be a disaster. The headlines daily reinforce this conclusion: As Iran’s nuclearization drive hurtles to the point of no return, the governing mullahs plot assassination on U.S. soil and threaten American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. A diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue remains as elusive as it was when the Obama administration first assumed power.

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Judge in Argentina investigates Franco violations in Spain

Filed under: International Law: War,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:54 PDT

LIMA, Peru – An Argentine judge has opened a criminal investigation into human-rights violations committed in Spain during the 1936-1975 Franco dictatorship.

Maria Servini de Cubria, a federal judge in Buenos Aires province, has launched the case based on a complaint lodged by lawyers from both countries representing several Spanish human-rights groups including the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH by its Spanish initials).

The case marks a novel reverse of fortunes. Spanish prosecutors have in recent years pursued human-rights abusers from several of Latin America’s military regimes of the 1970s and 1980s, including Argentina…

Unlike many other countries transitioning from authoritarian or repressive regimes to democracy, including Chile, Argentina, Peru and Guatemala, Spain never held truth and reconciliation hearings.

Nor were there any prosecutions for human-rights violations, and in 1977, the country passed a general amnesty covering the Franco period and the preceding civil war, during which 113,000 disappeared or were killed, many buried in unmarked mass graves.

Separately, an estimated 30,000 children were taken from their parents, often socialist or communist opponents of the Franco regime.

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Truth & Reconciliation, Spanish Style

Filed under: International Law: War,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:53 PDT

I’m just back from 9 days in Madrid — my first visit, and it was great. Of course, while there I couldn’t ignore the international law-related story of the day. Judge Baltasar Garzón (of Pinochet, al Qaeda, and Eta fame) is at it again. This time he’s agreed to open a criminal investigation into thousands of disappearances and executions surrounding Spain’s half-century old civil war. It is a move that has some significant political support; it comes on the heels of recent legislative efforts to offer symbolic reparations to Republican victims of Franco-era atrocities…

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Garzon trial grips Spain

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:14 PDT

Judge Baltasar Garzon is on trial in Spain, accused by two right-wing groups of breaking a 1977 amnesty by investigating the deaths or disappearances of more than 100,000 civilians in the Spanish Civil War and the aftermath of the Franco dictatorship.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Baltasar Garzón: judge on trial – video profile

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:09 PDT

This film follows Baltasar Garzón, a Spanish judge best known for having Chile’s General Pinochet arrested, during his suspension from his job charged with an abuse of power. His trial marks a decisive moment for Garzón’s career, for Spain’s judicial system, and for the justice for which Garzón has become a standard-bearer

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Canada looks to Chicago to reduce ‘honour’ crimes

Filed under: gender,Human Rights,Nonviolence,Peaceworkers in the news — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:38 PDT

At first glance, gang crime in a U.S. city would seem to have little in common with the family conflicts that led to the killing of several women in Canada in recent years.

But one Canadian group is taking ideas gleaned from the streets of Chicago to tackle the troubling phenomenon of so-called honour crimes.

The Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration in London, Ont. will announce Tuesday that it has a partnership with the renowned Chicago anti-violence group CeaseFire to develop the Family Honour Project, which its creators hope will soon spread to other communities.

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Monday, 23 January 2012

First Nations leaders seek ongoing dialogue with PM

Filed under: Indigenous Peoples — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:55 PDT

CORNWALL ISLAND — An historic meeting between the Prime Minister and First Nations leaders is taking place today.

It is the first meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the collective First Nations leadership.

The Crown-First Nations Gathering is aimed at re-setting the relationship between the First Nations and the federal government, according to the Assembly of First Nations.

However, Akwesasne Grand Chief Mike Mitchell doesn’t expect all First Nations concerns to be resolved with this one-day meeting.

“We expect Canada to begin discussions from a fundamental understanding that the federal government has an historic relationship with First Nations based on aboriginal and treaty rights,” Mitchell said in a statement.

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EU Eases Myanmar Sanctions After Political Prisoners Freed

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:51 PDT

The European Union lifted travel restrictions on Myanmar’s top leaders after they freed political prisoners, easing some sanctions before an April by-election in which Aung San Suu Kyi will participate.

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Myanmar military fuels forced labour, sexual violence -HRW

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:50 PDT

BANGKOK – Myanmar and its army are continuing a “systematic repression” of citizens, namely in ethnic areas with ongoing conflicts, despite the government’s promise of reform and its ceasefire agreements with some ethnic armed groups, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

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Rwanda war-crimes suspect deported after almost two decades in Canada

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Rwanda,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:49 PDT

MONTREAL – A man accused of crimes related to the Rwanda genocide was deported back there Monday after losing a lengthy legal fight to stay in Canada.

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Sharia Law: Coming to a Courthouse Near You?

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation,gender,Human Rights,Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:48 PDT

Public fears and ignorance about sharia law have led to a series of state referenda in the US that would ban state courts from considering or using Islamic law, if passed. One of the first states to pass such an amendment after a public referendum was Oklahoma, where a 70 percent majority passed a ballot proposal to “forbid courts from looking at international law or sharia law when deciding cases” in November 2010.

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Nonviolent Nigeria: The Roots and Routes of Resistance

Filed under: Africa files,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 20:48 PDT

It is tough now to believe: Chidi Nwosu was murdered just a little over one year ago. He was hardly the first prominent Nigerian human rights leader to be assassinated, nor was he the last before the Occupy Nigeria movement of 2012 began taking to the streets, forming a new, nationwide emphasis on the need for sweeping economic and political change in one of the most populated and resource-rich corners of the planet. Nwosu, founder and president of the Human Rights, Justice and Peace Foundation (HRJPF), was a friend and colleague of the secular pacifist War Resisters International—but his death was anything but nonviolent…

Fast forward 13 months: Monday, January 16, 2012 was a particularly important day in modern Nigerian history…

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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Becoming Detroit: Reimagining Work, Food, and the Very Meaning of Humanity

Filed under: Religion and peacebuilding — administrator @ 16:40 PDT

This trip to Detroit came about because of technological failure. It was a tremendous gift, and a revelation.

The technological failure was the connection between my voice and Grace Boggs. Her ears, after all, are 96. And when we weren’t able to have a real, fluid conversation between St. Paul and Detroit, I immediately decided we would fly to interview her in her home. This was a relief, really, as preparing for the interview had made me long to meet her.

Ever since my conversation with Vincent Harding last year, her name kept coming up. Her identity is full of unlikely conjunctions: Chinese-American and an icon of African-American civil rights, philosopher and activist, elder and change agent. She was born Grace Lee above her father’s Chinese restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island. She received a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1940. She had a heady life in intellectual, revolutionary circles of the early twentieth century, from Europe to Africa. Wall of Photos at Grace Lee Boggs’ HomeShe moved to Detroit when she married the legendary African-American autoworker, organizer, and civil rights thinker Jimmy Boggs. Together they were the heart and soul of civil rights in the Motor City.

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Filed under: Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:34 PDT

Journalists are schooled in investigating and reporting events objectively and when it comes to conflicts, they report on the progress of wars, gang violence, white color crime and what might have caused these to occur. For opinions, one would usually check the editorial page.

The team at the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab challenges this notion. What if journalists, in combination with their current jobs, could also promote peace and find ways to facilitate peace by soliciting creative ideas on social media platforms?

Change of this type can provide huge benefits, however it can also be a slippery slope. Proactively influencing world events, beyond simply reporting events, makes one complicit and responsible for the consequences. As with the physician’s oath of “First, do no harm,” before soliciting and selecting ideas it was important to make sure the framing, direction and decision criteria were well thought through. In short, a good design brief was needed.

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Reverse Orientalism of Looking For an ‘Arab Spring’ in Central Asia

Filed under: Media and Conflict,Nonviolence — administrator @ 08:23 PDT

In 1978, Edward Said defined orientalism as “a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.” The Muslim world, he argued, is rarely seen as significant and complex in its own right, but derives its significance from its relationship with the West: a comparative framework that guarantees a delusory bias. The Orient is the West’s “surrogate and underground self”, an “Other” that allows the West to define its cultural identity while justifying its imperialist goals.

Though ostensibly meant to include the broader Muslim world, the theory of orientalism has never worked well with Central Asia. As I’ve previously noted, Central Asia is “not the “other” but the other’s “other” — Russia’s orient, a region whose history and political complexities are poorly understood even by some who proclaim to be experts; a region whose best-known ambassador is Borat. Unlike the Arab world, Central Asia is not demonized and degraded in the Western public imagination: it is disregarded. The region connotes nothing – except perhaps obscurity itself.

There is a certain irony, therefore, in the new identity that has been forged on Central Asia since January 2011: that of the Arab world’s aspirational doppelganger…

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UM Committee on the Rights of the Child examines report of Myanmar

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,children and youth,Human Rights,Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:17 PDT

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Myanmar on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child…

Just two days ago the Government of Myanmar had ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography… [T]he National Committee on the Rights of the Child was reconstituted in May 2011. Reforms had been carried out in healthcare, with maternal, newborn and child health at the centre, and free and compulsory primary education had been introduced. The Government placed high priority on the prevention of child labour, particularly child recruitment into the military, and was taking punitive action against perpetrators from the armed forces…

Kamla Varmah, Committee Expert acting as Co-Rapporteur for the report of Myanmar, expressed concern that the age of criminal responsibility was seven [7] years old, that the employment age was 13, and that there was no minimum age for marriage for boys while girls as young as 14 could be married with parental consent. Ms. Varmah raised issues including adoption, birth registration, the high infant and under five mortality rate, chronic malnutrition of children and the right of children to be heard. She noted that only 1.3 per cent of the national budget was spent on health services and 2009 figures showed that only 0.6 per cent of gross domestic product was spent on education compared to the 80 per cent spent on the military and State-owned enterprises.

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