Monday, 30 April 2012

First nations can reap economic benefits of reconciliation

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,Indigenous Peoples — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:10 PDT

Reconciliation is a complex concept but we can all agree it compels action – right now.

I suggest it can be best approached as the building of a renewed foundation with four cornerstones: rights recognition and implementation, healing and education, capacity and, finally, seizing economic potential.


Aboriginal reconciliation: An open letter to Stephen Harper

Filed under: Environment,Human Rights,Indigenous Peoples,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:09 PDT

Dear Prime Minister:

When I heard your words in the House of Commons that were deemed an apology for the debacle of Canada’s residential school system, I was heartened. At that time, it was nothing short of amazing to hear a prime minister use the word “wrong” in reference to Canada’s treatment of aboriginal people. Now, nearly four years later, I look at the astoundingly hurtful cuts to organizations whose sole purposes are the re-empowerment and well-being of aboriginal people, and I am disheartened. Hell, Mr. Harper, I am downright angry.


Suu Kyi, her party to attend Myanmar’s parliament Wednesday, say they still dispute oath

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:43 PDT

YANGON, Myanmar – Aung San Suu Kyi said she and other lawmakers in her opposition party will attend Myanmar’s parliament on Wednesday for the first time and will take the oath of office though they still fiercely dispute its wording.

Suu Kyi said she was not backing down on the issue, however, and that her party would continue to seek constitutional change through legislative actions. The oath is part of the constitution, and her party also seeks to change other statutes it considers undemocratic.

“Politics is an issue of give and take,” she told reporters in the main city, Yangon, on Monday. “We are not giving up, we are just yielding to the aspirations of the people.”

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy object to phrasing in the oath that obligates them to “safeguard the constitution,” which was drafted under military rule and ensures the army inordinate power.

The party wants “safeguard” replaced with “respect,” a change made in other laws including electoral legislation that enabled Suu Kyi’s party to officially enter politics for the first time in decades.


Myanmar to beef-up peace effort to end Kachin conflict

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:37 PDT

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, April 30 – Myanmar will choose a team of 50 peace negotiators led by a vice-president to settle a conflict in Kachin State and bring all ethnic groups into the political fold ahead of 2015 elections, the main government peace envoy said on Monday.


War crimes trial in Ottawa starts with jury selection: Jacques Mungwarere arrested in Windsor for allegedly participating in Rwandan genocide

Filed under: International Law: War,Rwanda,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:36 PDT

The selection of 12 bilingual jurors, from a pool of about 1,200, begins today in Ottawa in the war crimes trial of a man accused of participating in the mass genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Jacques Mungwarere, 39, is the second Rwandan to be prosecuted under Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which was introduced in 2000 and allows for prosecution no matter where or when an alleged war crime may have been committed.

The first person prosecuted under the act is Desire Munyaneza, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2009.


Iraq’s sagging safety net

Filed under: Humanitarian work,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:31 PDT

Salina, KS – In February 2011, with grassroots uprisings having toppled the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, unrest was swelling in Iraq as well. In response, the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that it was postponing a planned purchase of F16 fighter planes from the United States. The money saved by not buying the 18 jets would be used, said al-Maliki, to provide Iraq’s poorest citizens with increased monthly rations from the country’s public food distribution system (PDS). The cancellation was a stark acknowledgment that when people are hungry, armaments won’t keep a country secure.


IRAQ-SYRIA: Samia, “Why can’t they just take us out of here?”

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:30 PDT

DUBAI – Syria is home to the largest Iraqi refugee population in the world – an estimated one million people, of whom 102,000 are registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

For years, it was a stable and welcoming refuge, but since an uprising against the government began last year, Syria, too, has become a dangerous place.

Among the refugees are 18,000 who were in the pipeline or final stages for resettlement abroad. Initially delayed due to new US security procedures, the cases have now been put on indefinite hold because resettlement countries have had more difficulty conducting interviews amid the unrest.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Vancouver: Riots and Restorative Justice featuring Dr. Theo Gavrielides | May 8 (RSVP by May 4)

Filed under: Conferences, Events,Restorative justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:57 PDT
Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Riots and Restorative Justice
featuring Dr. Theo Gavrielides
2012 Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue

Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 7-9pm (reception to follow)
SFU Woodward’s, 149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Room 3200

This lecture is free, however pre-registration is required.
RSVP by Friday, May 4

The role of Restorative Justice following riots will be the focus of the next Bruce and Lis Welch Community Dialogue. Honored guest Dr. Theo Gavrielides will provide insights into this new field of practice, including how Restorative Justice was proposed and implemented after Britain’s August 2011 riots, where 15,000 rioters caused an estimated £500 million in damages.

Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot has many parallels to the British experience, including a desire to provide victims with a better sense of reparation and closure, as well as an interest in reducing the risk of re-offense. Spontaneous responses to the riot demonstrated a desire from community members to participate with officials in the process of ensuring accountability, bridge building, and restoring the social fabric of the affected areas.

U Thein Sein

Filed under: Myanmar,Southeast Asia — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:54 PDT

Since he took office a little more than a year ago, the President of Burma, U Thein Sein, has proved himself the architect of one of the most unlikely democratic transitions anywhere in the world…

And whether or not he succeeds will be important not just for Burma’s 55 million people but for all of Asia.


Monday, 16 April 2012

Rwanda: While Gacaca Brought Justice, Reconciliation Is Long-Term Process

Filed under: Rwanda,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 18:23 PDT

Given that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis took place on the basis of deep social divisions, justice and reconciliation were top priorities when the country emerged from the 100-day cataclysm. “Justice was the first thing that those who lost loved ones claimed,” explains Domitilla Mukantanganzwa, the executive secretary of the national jurisdiction of Gacaca courts.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Her job is listening to stories of survival | TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson

Filed under: Indigenous Peoples,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 15:10 PDT

There are times that Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Marie Wilson finishes a day of hearings and heads for a hot bath and a good cry.

That happens after she has struggled to hold back tears while listening to stories from residential school survivors, not wanting to discourage anyone with the courage to publicly unearth their memories.

“My job, in some ways, is easy because I say to myself: ‘All I have to do is hear this. I didn’t have to live it.’ So that helps a lot,” said Wilson, who shares the task of listening to the stories with commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair and Chief Wilton Littlechild.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was formed as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement with the mandate to inform Canadians about what happened in the schools. It has federal government support in an effort to facilitate reconciliation and understanding between aboriginal people and Canadians.


Friday, 13 April 2012

The doctrine of intervention: Today’s political ethics are surprisingly similar to the doctrine of discovery set by the Vatican back in 1452

Filed under: Business, Human Rights, Environment,Environment,Human Rights,Indigenous Peoples — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:05 PDT

New York, NY – One does not think of archaic papal bulls when witnessing democratic states like Brazil or the United States building dams on Amazon rivers or drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Yet today’s political ethics are surprisingly similar to the doctrine of discovery set by the Vatican back in 1452.

Fifteenth-century papal bulls that declared war against all non-Christian peoples also encouraged the conquest and exploitation of enemy territories throughout the world. European explorers like Columbus took possession of newly “discovered” non-Christian lands with the express authorisation of the Catholic Church.

This internationally recognised doctrine allowed claims to be made on “empty” invaded lands outlasted European absolute monarchies and has become enshrined in secular nation-states. In the US, for instance, Chief Justice John Marshall used the right of discovery in 1823 to invalidate native claims over their land and to assert the authority of the US government over land titles.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) recently disowned the doctrine of discovery, perhaps in light of its centrality at the 11th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this coming May in New York. Better late than never.

Yet from the Amazon to Iraq, policies still attempt to save the barbarians from themselves, export the truth of democracy or teach natives how to best preserve their own habitat. The problem is that the doctrine justifying the conquest and exploitation of certain states survived colonial times to evolve into a broader – and more resilient – self-arrogated right of intervention.


Hidden depths in South China Sea tensions

Filed under: Southeast Asia — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:07 PDT

Disputes over the South China Sea must be conducted and solved peacefully. This sentence summarizes most statements released by government officials after bilateral or multilateral meetings on the issue, but also highlights the absence of a real political will and the continuing unpredictability and instability in the region.

Disputes related to sovereignty about land and jurisdiction over maritime areas show that tensions can only increase in the months ahead; or at least until a new and more binding Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea is agreed upon by China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN). Lastly, the claim to be looking for a “peaceful solution”, as expressed by the parties, has not prevented a new arms race in the region.


Myanmar: Elections and building trust

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:00 PDT

The successful completion of the by-elections of April 1 provides grounds for renewed hope for future developments in Myanmar. In spite of dire predictions of manipulation, the results indicate that the government of President Thein Sein has essentially fulfilled its promise of a fair set of by-elections – ones that were swept by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), which won 43 of 45 seats.

The government-supported political organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which had previously held those seats, lost.

Now, however, if Myanmar is to evolve into a state that begins to approach its political, social and economic potential, the delicate process begins – the building of multiple levels and layers of trust between and among the various forces in the complex maze of societies that comprise Myanmar.


The Lady and the generals meet half-way

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:59 PDT

Myanmar’s highly anticipated by-elections, held on April 1 for some 45 parliamentary seats, has borne its first diplomatic fruit. The United States announced a relaxation of certain economic sanctions and movement on the resumption of full diplomatic relations with Naypyidaw in reward for the country’s recent democratic progress.

However, the opposition National League for Democracy’s landslide victory of 43 out of the 45 seats may be somewhat overstated and questions remain about the sincerity of President Thein Sein’s government’s commitment to sustainable reform.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Reform in Myanmar: One Year On

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:44 PDT

One year into the new semi-civilian government, Myanmar has implemented a wide-ranging set of reforms as it embarks on a remarkable top-down transition from five decades of authoritarian rule. In an address to the nation on 1 March 2012 marking his first year in office, President Thein Sein made clear that the goal was to introduce “genuine democracy” and that there was still much more to be done. This ambitious agenda includes further democratic reform, healing bitter wounds of the past, rebuilding the economy and ensuring the rule of law, as well as respecting ethnic diversity and equality. The changes are real, but the challenges are complex and numerous. To consolidate and build on what has been achieved and increase the likelihood that benefits flow to all its citizens, Myanmar needs the international community to come closer, seeking opportunities for greater engagement rather than more reasons why sanctions should be sustained.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Dispute Resolution under the New Family Law Act

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:04 PDT

On November 24, 2011, the new Family Law Act received Royal Assent. It is anticipated that the majority of the new Act will come into effect twelve to eighteen months after Royal Assent was granted. The new Act contains numerous changes to the statutory scheme governing family law in this province. Family law lawyers are working to educate themselves about the substantive changes made to the law, particularly as they relate to division of property.

Viewed from the perspective of cultural change in the legal profession, perhaps the most significant change the new Act brings is its design around an overarching and fundamentally different mandate for resolving family law disputes. Unlike the Family Relations Act, which was drafted with the assumption that cases would at least begin in the court system, the new Act is a deliberate and sophisticated move toward promoting cooperative approaches to resolve family law disputes. It has been drafted with the assumption that most cases settle and that the public deserves a variety of high quality dispute resolution options.


Solving Disputes Using the Web – ODR

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 14:21 PDT

Most lawyers are as yet unaware of the growing discipline known as Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). ODR taps into technology (principally the communication abilities of the Internet) to help resolve disputes between parties. While it is seen as the online equivalent of ADR, it really is much much more.

ODR was born by the combination of ADR and Information and Communication Technologies. In ADR, there are three parties: the plaintiff, the defendant and the third neutral party (a mediator or arbitrator for example). However, ODR differs from this three party system by introducing computers and software – an independent fourth party that can help manage the dispute.


Thursday, 5 April 2012

UK | Responding to Conflict: Strengthening Policy and Practice: Meeting the challenges of working in complex environments | 21-26 October 2012

Filed under: Conferences, Events — administrator @ 07:03 PDT

Sunday, 21 October 2012 to Friday, 26 October 2012

Responding to Conflict

Strengthening Policy and Practice: meeting the challenges of working in complex environments

Dates: 21-26 October 2012

Location: Birmingham, UK

Course fee: £990 (includes full board accommodation from the evening of 21 – afternoon of 26 October)

Course description

Strengthening Policy and Practice: meeting the challenges of working in complex environments is designed to draw on the experience and practice of participants, working in development, humanitarian aid or peacebuilding to influence internal policies and programmatic approaches. The course will identify how organisations can strive to balance their organisational mandate with the demands of working in complex and rapidly changing political contexts.

 Course aims

The course will enable participants to contribute to developing constructive organisational and programmatic policies that will guide practical responses in the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding fields. It will draw on the experience of participants and tutors to examine the key issues that are emerging from field-based work.

Course objectives

Participants will:

  • deepen their understanding of their work, from a conflict transformation perspective
  • apply appropriate  conflict analysis to their own organisational contexts
  • explore the relationship between organisational policy and practice in situations of instability, conflict or violence
  • examine issues relating to aid and conflict in order to develop conflict sensitive policies for their organisations
  • consider the key policy and practice issues relating to the prevention of violent conflict and of building peace
  • strengthen their competence to contribute pro-actively to the  development of appropriate policies and best practices in their organisation/ institution  for working in environments affected by conflict or violence

Suitable for

This course is for staff of international and national agencies and those with advisory and management responsibility for emergency, relief, development, and peacebuilding programmes. It is particularly relevant for those engaged in the planning and implementation of field-based programmes, and those concerned with developing policies for appropriate responses in complex political emergencies.

2012 participant feedback

“This course is critical to all those working in conflict resolution and development. It was an eye opener and gave hope; we can make a difference if we work towards change.

  “I would recommend this course not only to friends and colleagues but to the whole world – everybody needs to learn this if we are to have a peaceful world.”

  “The trainers were very inspiring and knowledgeable and indeed are experts.”

For more information about the course and to apply, please visit our website  or contact us at

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

ICRC chief visits Syria to gain access to detainees, expand aid as violence continues

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

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross is holding talks in Damascus on Tuesday aimed at expanding aid operations and gaining access to all detainees, the agency said, as Syrian forces press on with their crackdown on dissent.

Jakob Kellenberger, who will be in Syria until Wednesday, will push the ICRC’s proposal made in February for a daily two-hour ceasefire to evacuate wounded and deliver life-saving supplies to civilians.

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