Tuesday, 31 July 2012

UN Ends Arms Trade Treaty Talks Without Deal

Filed under: Disarmament — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:45 PDT

Talks at the United Nations over a potential treaty limiting the illicit flow of weapons ended last week without a deal.

Ban Ki-Moon, the U.N. secretary-general, lamented the fact that nations couldn’t agree on common standards to regulate the arms trade across borders, calling the lack of a conclusion a “setback.”

“However, I am encouraged that this is not the end of the [Arms Trade Treaty,] and that states have agreed to continue pursuing this noble goal,” Ban said in a statement.

For the deal to be struck, all 193 U.N. nations had to agree on the text of the agreement. The New York Times reported that the U.S. faced internal pressure from gun-rights groups to walk away from the talks.

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Monday, 30 July 2012

“Time is ripe for a robust international legal framework to limit and regulate the arms trade”

Filed under: Disarmament,Human Rights — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:42 PDT

GENEVA – States that are currently negotiating the first legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty must make the most of this opportunity to limit and regulate the arms trade in a way that prevents grave human rights violations, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Mr. Alfred de Zayas, urged on Friday.

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Friday, 27 July 2012

Omar Khadr: Why Canada Should Take Back Its Troubled Child

Filed under: children and youth,Human Rights,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 16:07 PDT

When President Barack Obama meets Prime Minister Stephen Harper on February 19th , he may be surprised to learn that Canada has changed. Sure, we still have the iconic loonie on our currency, the maple leaf on our flag, and the snowmen in our front yards, but these things belie our newly hardened, cynical interior. As Obama inspires millions with his promise of possibility, respect and unity (“yes we can!”), north of the 49th parallel has wrested itself into an identity crisis (“no we can’t!”).

No, we can’t deploy peacekeepers to Darfur, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, even if we ‘invented’ the concept. No, we can’t reach the United Nations target of 0.7% of our gross national wealth as a contribution to overseas development assistance – we can’t even get half way there – even though that target was set by lauded former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson forty years ago. And no, we can’t repatriate Omar Khadr, even though we helped draft and were among the first to ratify the Optional Protocol on child soldiers.

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Lopez Lomong’s Story: Olympic Athlete

Filed under: Africa files,children and youth — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 15:52 PDT

Despite being kidnapped by African rebel soldiers as a boy, Lopez … runs for South Sudan.

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths

Filed under: Disarmament — administrator @ 20:58 PDT

What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

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South Africa needs a ‘second reconciliation’, says former president

Filed under: Africa files,Transitional Justice — administrator @ 20:56 PDT

FW de Klerk, the Nobel peace laureate and former South African president, has warned that the country is again being poisoned by racism from political leaders, leaving Nelson Mandela’s spirit of reconciliation “almost totally gone”.

De Klerk suggested that the now retired Mandela must feel sad about the betrayal of the non-racial consensus he espoused as South Africa’s first black president, and that only a “second reconciliation” could restore it.

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Prosecution nixed Omar Khadr guilty pleas two years before conviction

Filed under: children and youth,Human Rights,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:30 PDT

TORONTO — Two years before the plea deal that was supposed to mean his quick exit from Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr offered to plead guilty to terrorism charges in Canada in exchange for a relatively lenient sentence and speedy transfer to Canada, documents show…

The convening authority rejected the proposal without giving reasons, but encouraged further negotiations.

In an agreement essentially written by the prosecution, Khadr finally pleaded guilty in October 2010 to all five charges he faced — including murder in violation of the law of war. In return, he was sentenced to a further eight years in custody, with only one to be served in Guantanamo Bay.

Ottawa’s subsequent delay in allowing his transfer to a Canadian prison to serve out his sentence as per the plea deal has drawn fierce criticism from Khadr’s supporters and others who argue the government is riding roughshod over his rights as a Canadian citizen.

Kuebler, who was fired as Khadr’s lawyer in April 2009, refused to discuss the proposed deals.

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‘Political truth’: MacKay’s denial on Libya mission costs had Forces brass scrambling

Filed under: Africa files,Middle East,News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 10:20 PDT

OTTAWA — A senior Canadian general was prepared to admit he’d made a mistake after Defence Minister Peter MacKay directly contradicted him in May by saying he did not know the Libya mission was estimated to cost more than $100 million.

But while Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Vance was ready to “own up” to making an error, a military public affairs officer waved him off by telling Vance he wasn’t necessarily wrong, and that “a political truth can sometimes be different.”

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Israel’s concerns about Syria increase

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:37 PDT

Israel is following events in Syria warily. The Arab country’s arsenal of chemical weapons could prompt Israel to military intervention to prevent them falling into the hands of militants.

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Israeli bid to raze hamlets

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:31 PDT

The Israeli government has asked its Supreme Court to allow the demolition of eight Palestinian hamlets in the Hebron hills in the occupied West Bank so the area can be used for military training.

The shepherds who live in the hamlets had been returned to their homes by court order after an earlier forced evacuation by the state.

Advocates for the Palestinians contend that the move is part of a broader government effort to reduce the number of Palestinians living in parts of the occupied West Bank, known as Area C, which is under interim Israeli control.

”It was never a declared Israeli policy to take over Area C, it was a policy that was taking hold on the ground,” said Shlomo Lecker, a lawyer who represents about 200 families in the area. ”It’s in many ways retreating from any agreements with the Palestinians, with the US, any kind of arrangement of two states. Where will be the two states if Israel will take over?”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/israeli-bid-to-raze-hamlets-20120724-22n9j.html#ixzz21YTKz7Am

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Cameron Is Said to Plan to Talk Syria With Putin at Olympic Judo

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:22 PDT

David Cameron aims to use a proposed visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the judo event at the London Olympics to discuss the worsening conflict in Syria, two people familiar with the U.K. premier’s plans said.

The U.K. government is urging Putin, an ally of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, to help secure a peaceful resolution to the fighting between the government and opposition forces. The conflict, which began in March 2011 as a largely peaceful protest movement, has cost more than 19,000 lives, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Iran backs Kofi Annan’s peace plan on Syria

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:21 PDT

Iran supports six-point peace plan of the UN-Arab League joint envoy for Syria Kofi Annan as a means to move out of the Syrian crisis, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday.

Talking to reporters during his weekly press briefing, Mehmanparast dismissed some media reports that Annan’s peace plan on Syria has failed.

Annan’s six-point peace plan emphasises political and diplomatic settlement of the crisis in the conflict-torn Arab country.

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Why I Work With Christians To Divest From the Occupation

Filed under: Middle East,Nonviolence,Peaceworkers in the news,Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:12 PDT

At first glance, my work as a rabbi may look untraditional. Instead of serving a congregation, I do my rabbinic work by organizing for justice and equality for all the people of Israel and Palestine. This work includes supporting the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s efforts in Pittsburgh this past week to pass an overture calling for selective divestment from companies that profit from human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

As a spiritual leader, I feel blessed that this work allows me to engage with my Christian counterparts in deep and transformative ways.

My work alongside Christians is one way I live my commitment to interrupting today’s violence and hatred. I no longer believe Jews are inevitably alone in the world, but in fact quite the opposite. I now see just how much we are there for each other, as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu reminds us in speaking of the effort to end apartheid in South Africa: “We could not have won our freedom in South Africa without the solidarity of people around the world who adopted non-violent methods to pressure governments and corporations to end their support for the apartheid regime.”

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Arab League backs plan to seek UN General Assembly recognition of Palestine, but no date set

Filed under: Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:11 PDT

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Arab League on Sunday backed a Palestinian plan to ask the U.N. General Assembly to recognize a state of Palestine, but stopped short of setting a date for the bid, Palestinian officials said.

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Pros and cons of Western Palestinian solidarity

Filed under: Human Rights,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:10 PDT

The posture of solidarity with the struggle of “the other” is more complex than it might appear at first glance. It seems a simple act to join with others in opposing severe injustice and cruelty, especially when its reality is experienced and witnessed first-hand, as I have for several decades in relation to the Palestinian struggle…

In recent years, partly by chance, most of these energies of solidarity have been associated with the Palestinian struggle, which, in my case, has involved bearing witness to abuses endured by the Palestinian people living under occupation or in varying forms of exile, especially in my role as UN Special Rapporteur…

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Intifadas are born from neglected springs

Filed under: Media and Conflict,Middle East,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:09 PDT

RAMALLAH: “Why has the Arab Spring not reached Palestine?” Such has become a common question among analysts, pundits, and polemicists. Over the last two years, innumerable articles have regularly seeped into corporate media outlets, attempting to explain Palestinian political stagnancy, on the one hand, or the supposedly inevitable Third Intifada, on the other.

Last month, a New York Times editorial ran under the title “The Third Intifada is inevitable,” where Nathan Thrall furthers the notion that Palestinian violence is unavoidable, stating that “a number [of Palestinians] would welcome the prospect of an escalation, especially among supporters of Hamas, who argue that violence has been the most effective tactic in forcing Israel and the international community to act.”

By adopting this line of thought, Thrall squarely places the entirety of the blame on Palestinians (whether by design or not), insinuating that Israel’s recent uptick in expulsions, settler violence, land theft, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, are tangential details. The Third Intifada, after all, is “inevitable.”

Arguments to this effect are founded on uninformed, indeed vacuous, assumptions that take for granted the unique specificities of the daily hardships of the Palestinian life under the systematic violence of the Israeli military occupation. Unfortunately, these positions characterize the dominant strain of thought published in corporate media, and lead to the belief that Palestinians are inherently violent and immune from the Arab Spring…

Meanwhile, a genuinely grassroots, nonviolent movement for self-determination has been developing in Palestinian society. Palestinian and international activists have adopted tactics such as peaceful marches, sit-ins, and hunger strikes.

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Settlements Not an Obstacle to Peace? Get Serious.

Filed under: Human Rights,Media and Conflict,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:08 PDT

Today, Peace Now released a new report entitled “Torpedoing the Two State Solution — The Strategy of the Netanyahu Government,” detailing a number of trends in settlement expansion that directly, and it seems, deliberately, undermine the viability of the two-state solution.

This report stands in sharp contrast to the meme which appears to be gaining currency among defenders of the occupation status quo, arguing that settlements aren’t really an issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since they take up only a tiny fraction of the West Bank ( see Dore Gold in Slate and Evelyn Gordon in Commentary).

Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran confirms: the built-up area of settlements comprises around 1 percent of the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem), but that doesn’t mean that the meme-mongers are right.

Because that 1 percent doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.

Since 1967, Israel — using various means — has taken control of around 50 percent of the West Bank. Almost all of that land has been turned over to the settlers. The 1 percent of the West Bank on which the built-up areas of settlements are located is just the beginning. Because almost 10 percent of the West Bank is included in the “municipal area” of settlements. That is, the jurisdictional borders of settlements, as drawn by Israel, are so large as to allow settlements to expand many times over onto land that is in the meantime totally off-limits to Palestinians. In addition, almost 34 percent of the West Bank has been placed under the jurisdiction of the Settlement “Regional Councils.” That is more than an additional one-third of the West Bank under the control of the settler and totally off-limits to Palestinians.

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Give peas a chance’ bed-in catches attention: The cabbage has been given a stay of execution

Filed under: Environment,Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:09 PDT

MONTREAL – The cabbage has been given a stay of execution.

A Sunday bed-in to “give peas a chance” caught the attention of the powers that be.

A Drummondville couple who ran afoul of authorities with their front-lawn vegetable garden have been given a reprieve – they won’t have to uproot the offending plants until Sept. 1.

Michel Beauchamp and Josée Landry were facing fines of as much as $300 a day in bylaw violations for transforming their lawn into a garden of leafy delights this summer.

In an attempt to cultivate a healthier lifestyle, the couple decided to grow their own produce.

But the municipality says the front lawn must be 30-per-cent grass.

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Conflict, Trauma and Development: enhancing resilience and community-led change in unstable contexts

Sunday, 2 December 2012 17:00 PDT to Friday, 7 December 2012 12:00 PDT

 Course description

“If we have relative peace today, how can we ensure that we can have a durable peace tomorrow?”

Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, The Wajir Story

Conflict, Trauma and Development: enhancing resilience and community-led change in unstable contexts focuses on interventions in fragmented and disempowered communities living in intractable conflict or the immediate aftermath of war. The course will explore processes for weaving together the contributions of reconstruction, healing, development and peacebuilding in a way that builds on existing capacities and initiatives, addressing immediate needs with a long term view to the future.

Course aims

The course will provide an opportunity for participants to enhance their understanding of the causes of conflict and its dynamics and will enable them to further develop skills and strategies that will support community-led change. It will create a space to seek practical responses to the complex questions facing NGOs in both intractable and rapidly changing contexts. The course aims to enhance individual, community and national wellbeing.

Course objectives

 Participants will:

  • Assess community needs and possibilities at different levels (which could include development, rights, governance, social reconstruction)
  • Explore the psychological and emotional needs of those caught up in violence
  • Consider theories of change and building visions for the future taking into account issues of justice and reconciliation
  • Identify what actions need to happen at what levels, taking into consideration conflict sensitive approaches to development and social re-integration
  • Enhance their own resilience and capacity for imaginative and effective action

Suitable For

 The course is designed for those who are responsible for implementing or managing programmes in unstable and complex environments that are fragile and changing rapidly.

Methodology

 The facilitators will engage participants in a participative and varied learning experience. With a combined wealth of over 50 years of conflict transformation, social reconstruction and development experience this dynamic team will bring together theoretical and practical approaches to working in unstable and rapidly changing environments. Models and case studies will be used. First hand experiences, fresh insights and perspectives will be complemented with practical tools and strategies that have been proved to be effective.

For more information about the course and to apply, please visit our website www.respond.org or contact us at courses@respond.org

Dates: 02-07 December 2012 (starts evening of Sunday 02 and ends midday Friday 07)

Location: Birmingham, UK

Course Fee: £990 (Includes full board accomodation from the evening of 02 – afternoon of 07 December)

 

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Monday, 23 July 2012

Syria can find peace if its minorities seek common ground

Filed under: Human Rights,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 19:27 PDT

The Syrian people have given their lives in their attempts to depose one dictator – they won’t likely settle for another taking Assad’s place.

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