Friday, 10 August 2012

In the Spirit of the Olympics, Can Dancing Promote Peace?

Filed under: Art of Peacework — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 17:46 PDT

What are the Olympics all about? Not, historically, the million-dollar endorsements, the extreme feats of nearly inhuman strength, and the inevitable cries of doping that accompany them. Look no further than the iconic, intertwined Olympic rings, which represent the five inhabited continents, for a reminder that the Olympics are about a set of values for living peacefully together on this planet. Or go back to Ancient Greece, where any wars happening between participating city-states were postponed until the Olympics were over.

Dance 4 Peace promotes conflict transformation through dance.

Peace is as foundational to the Olympics as athleticism. In fact, Sara Potler would underscore how closely the two are related. Just after college, Potler found herself in the toughest neighborhoods of Bogotá, Colombia, where she discovered a type of conflict resolution — or what she calls “conflict transformation” — through non-violent physical expression.

She calls it Dance 4 Peace. Her participants call it life-changing.

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War crimes by Syrian rebels must be condemned too

Filed under: Human Rights,International Law: War,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:38 PDT

How the international community responds to human rights in times of conflict has always been an issue when judgments are made about differential levels of culpability for war crimes.

In Iraq, a conflict I covered on the ground between 2003 and 2007, when the Shia death squads first began their campaign of murder there was a widespread resistance among US and UK officials to acknowledge that a problem existed. When they would acknowledge it, some – shamefully – chose to depict it as a natural consequence of the brutality of the Saddam era.

And while it is true that periods of brutality can condition the time that follows, it is not something that should be tolerated.

In Syria, a similar process is visibly occurring. It is not, as some have claimed, that human rights abuses by the Free Syrian Army are not being reported – they are including by this paper’s correspondents in the field – it is that in a wider political context, those atrocities have not attracted the same levels of opprobrium as those committed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime…

The reality, as organisations including both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have made clear, is that there is no excusing war crimes, whomever commits them.

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Congo Rebels Strengthen Hand as Summit Fails to End Conflict

Filed under: Africa files,Rwanda — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:32 PDT

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda failed to resolve a border-region dispute at a meeting yesterday, strengthening the position held by rebels whose insurgency has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.

After Congo accused Rwanda of supporting an ethnic Tutsi- led rebellion in the east of the country, President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame held a three-day summit with five other African leaders in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, which borders both countries.

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The Arab Spring Needs a Season of Reconciliation

Filed under: Middle East,Transitional Justice — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:30 PDT

What is the meaning of justice in the wake of massive injustices? This question confronts the countries of the Arab Spring, just as it confronted tens of countries emerging from war and dictatorship over the past generation.

How the Arab Spring countries address the evils of yesterday affects their prospects for peace and democracy tomorrow. Today only Tunisia is reasonably stable. Egypt has just experienced a polarizing election and faces continued uncertainty whether its military will relinquish power. Libya’s national government does not yet control the entire country. Yemen faces a separatist south. Syrian is sundered by civil war. All are rent by the fissures that the past has bequeathed.

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Reform dance in Myanmar

Filed under: Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:15 PDT

BANGKOK – A shake-up of Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government is in the pipeline, one that could highlight underlying tensions between reformists and hardliners in President Thein Sein’s delicately balanced administration. Extensive cabinet changes and an overhaul of the civil service are supposedly imminent, as the president seeks to reform and modernize the country’s outdated government machinery.

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Violence Doesn’t Work (Most of the Time)

Filed under: Latin America & Caribbean,Middle East,Nonviolence,South Asia — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:10 PDT

People have long assumed that violence is necessary for political change. Rulers never cede power voluntarily, the argument goes, so progressives have no choice but to contemplate the use of force to bring about a better world, mindful of the trade-off between a small amount of violence now and acceptance of an unjust status quo indefinitely. Terrorists invoke this trade-off to justify what would otherwise be wanton murder. Even their most vociferous condemners concede that terrorism, though highly immoral, is often efficacious.

Of course, Mohandas Gandhi, and later Martin Luther King Jr., argued the opposite—that violence, in addition to being morally heinous, is tactically counterproductive. Violent movements attract thugs and firebrands who enjoy the mayhem. Violent tactics provide a pretext for retaliation by the enemy and alienate third parties who might otherwise support the movement.

So how effective is violence? Political scientists have recently tried tallying the successes and failures of violent and nonviolent movements. The evidence is piling up that Gandhi was right—at least on average. In separate analyses, Audrey Cronin and Max Abrahms have shown that terrorist movements almost always fizzle out without achieving any of their strategic aims. Just think of the failed independence movements in Puerto Rico, Ulster, Quebec, Basque Country, Kurdistan, and Tamil Eelam. The success rate of terrorist movements is, at best, in the single digits.

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Myanmar Government Forms Core Press Council

Filed under: Media and Conflict,Myanmar — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 09:06 PDT

YANGON – Myanmar’s new government has formed a 20-member core press council aimed at protecting media persons, compiling journalism ethics and settling press disputes, the government announced Friday.

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Diversity of tactics and the 1 percent

Filed under: Nonviolence — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:58 PDT

In July I participated in an all-Britain Peace News camp in which we discussed, among other things, the idea of diversity of tactics. I was a little surprised when my fellow panelists wanted to turn it into a conversation about pacifism and whether violence can ever be justified.

Although I’m a pacifist, I didn’t get their point. Most people who participate in nonviolent campaigns aren’t pacifists; they choose nonviolent action strategically, because it increases their chance of winning. In Oman during the Arab Awakening, for example, the campaign began nonviolently but soon detoured into violence. The movement stopped, regrouped, began again nonviolently and won their objectives. Had the majority of Omanis somehow become pacifists? Of course not; they simply applied a sensible strategy.

Thanks to the work of political scientists Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan, we now know that, between 1900 and 2006, when mass movements tried to overthrow their regimes, they doubled their chances of winning by choosing nonviolent struggle.

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Nonviolent videos better for preschoolers’ sleep

Filed under: children and youth,Media and Conflict,Peace and health — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:49 PDT

NEW YORK – Preschoolers seemed to sleep better when their parents were encouraged to cut kids’ exposure to violent or age inappropriate videos throughout the day, in a new study.

Researchers found that within months after urging parents to switch their children’s viewing to nonviolent and age-appropriate videos, those children were about 20 percent less likely to have a sleep problem than kids whose parents didn’t receive the same advice.

“One of the things that’s exciting for me is that if families want to make these changes, it doesn’t require going to the doctor’s office or going to a person’s home,” said Michelle Garrison, the study’s lead author from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

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