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oD 50.50 Editorial highlights 2016

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Debate and articles on nuclear non-proliferation and strategies for peacebuilding. See also our coverage of the Nobel Women's Initiative.

 

From Fukushima to Hinkley Point

The stories of people trying to revive abandoned villages left contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster raise concerns about plans for a new generation of nuclear power reactors in Britain, starting with Hinkley C.

Wheels on the ground: women’s ‘peace train’ to The Hague

The women who have come to the WILPF conference in the Hague from Australia and Aotearoa- New Zealand, say that travelling with your feet on the ground, or at least with your wheels on the track, is the road to peace.

Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice

In 1915 a thousand women met in the Hague to demand an end to war. A thousand women are doing so again this week. It is time the women were heard and their vision shared.

The Austrian pledge to ban nuclear weapons

Driven by “the imperative of human security for all", Austria pledged at the HINW conference to work to "stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks”.

Conscientious objection: Virginia Woolf's ideas live on

In her 1938 essay Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf defined patriarchy, militarism and nationalism as sources of war. Marta Correia explores how Women in Black Belgrade are acting out Woolf's call to 'disobedience' - and paying a price.

Beyond armistice: women searching for an enduring peace

Women peace activists meeting in Zurich in 1919 understood the capitalist system of profit and privilege as a root cause of war. Women said it then, and say it now, as they tackle the perennial question facing all peace-seekers: what policies can assure a peace that will endure?

An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts

Wars may be started for trivial or mistaken reasons, as happened in 1914, but they are fuelled by arms industries. It’s time to look at the alternative history of efforts to prohibit the weapons that feed wars, causing widespread humanitarian suffering.

Executed: what were the principles for which Edith Cavell lived and died?

Nurse Edith Cavell was shot by a German firing squad in 1915. The words 'For King and Country' are inscribed on her monument in London, but so too are her own words, 'Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone'. Cynthia Cockburn explores this contradiction.   

The 'White Feather Girls': women's militarism in the UK

The suffrage movement was split by the Great War. Most often remembered are the pacifists. But the militant history of feminist war supporters in Britain, and the audacity of the 'White Feather Girls' who shamed young men into enlisting, must also be remembered in this centenary year

Sarajevo peace event: addressing the root causes of war

The recent international Peace Event in Sarajevo was simultaneously a commemoration of war and a renewed commitment to organization and action for peace. Heidi Meinzolt travelled from Germany and reflects on the journey for peace

Stopping sexual violence in conflict: gender politics in foreign policy

Consistent promotion of gender equality has to drive foreign, security and development policy if sexual violence in conflict is to be stopped.

'None of us have the right to be who we were': a tribute to a peacebuilder

Among Northern Ireland’s peacemakers Inez McCormack was unusual: she was an architect of the parallel peace process, which sought equality as the prerequisite of peace and reconciliation

Is war ever justifiable? A divisive issue for women peacebuilders

There is no greater challenge to principled pacifism than intolerable oppression. The surge of nazism and fascism made the 1930s a testing time for those who, like the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom refused all military options.

A common vision: The abolition of militarism

"If our common dream is a world without weapons and militarism, why don’t we say so? Why be silent about it? It would make a world of difference if we refused to be ambivalent about the violence of militarism". Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate, speaking at the Sarajevo Peace Event.

Women in Northern Ireland should be leading peacebuilders again

Women Together played a crucial role in the peace process. As violence and tension mount again, Anne Carr argues that women must be leading peacebuilders, driving a Civic Forum to be a central voice for peace. Part 2 of a two part piece (see Part 1).

Women Together in the darkest days of the 'Troubles'

Women Together brought Catholic and Protestant women into talks and cooperation in the 1970s, standing in solidarity against the government and paramilitary groups to help end the violence in Northern Ireland. Anne Carr describes their peacework. Part one of a two-part piece (see Part 2).

Nuclear non-proliferation in a time warp

The mood was cheerful as the international Non-Proliferation Treaty conference ended in New York last Friday, but the atmosphere was sustained at the expense of tackling the real world nuclear challenges. Rebecca Johnson reports from the conference, and examines what role the NPT really plays in today's world.

Peacework: women in action across Europe

The full engagement of women at all levels of negotiations is essential in order to promote nonviolent solutions that address the causes of conflict and build peace and justice. Sue Finch and Liz Khan report from the European Women in Black conference in Belgium on a critical moment for Europe’s future.

Dealing with Northern Ireland’s past: a guide to the Haass-O’Sullivan talks

In late 2013, negotiations seeking to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland failed to reach agreement. As part of our series on women and peace building in Nothern Ireland, Louise Mallinder presents a guide to the talks, the reasons for their failure and the urgency of continuing to press for agreement.

Insulting the women of Northern Ireland

Racist abuse directed at the politician Anna Lo is indicative of the disrespect shown to women in Northern Ireland who are speaking up for peace at a time of rising tensions. Anne McVicker told Niki Seth-Smith it is time to go "back to basics".

The holistic approach to peacebuilding: From hubris to practicalities

In 50.50's series of articles marking the centenary of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Madeleine Rees responds to Cynthia Cockburn, calling for a pragmatic approach that challenges and provides an alternative to the compartmentalisation of peace, security, disarmament, justice, development and human rights in the international system.

Why are the hopes of the Good Friday Peace Agreement still unfulfilled?

At the launch of 50.50's series on women peacebuilders in Northern Ireland, we explore the connection between the failure to include women at all levels of political life in building a shared future and the ongoing search for peace in Northern Ireland.

Women's power to stop war: Hubris or hope?

In the first of a series of articles marking the hundredth year of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Cynthia Cockburn explores the roots of the women's peace movement and its aim not just to outlaw war, but to root out its causes. 

Peacebuilding: The factor that makes a difference

Donors funding in conflict affected environments would be wise to focus on women’s leadership in conflict rather than women as victims of violence in conflict. This is key to changing the power structures which underlie violence, and to supporting sustainable peace efforts.

Troop withdrawals and women’s rights in Afghanistan

The ‘liberation of Afghan women’ was part of the dominant rhetoric used by international forces to justify military intervention and the ‘war on terror’ in post- 2001 Afghanistan. Yet, Afghanistan’s struggle for women’s rights did not begin with the arrival of troops, nor will it end upon their withdrawal

Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence

There are patriarchal reasons why women are disproportionately made to suffer in wars. It should not be surprising that women are disproportionately active in resisting and challenging violence, wars and armed oppression, says Rebecca Johnson.

Sri Lanka: women in conflict

What happened to the aspirations of Tamil women in the national liberation struggle which lasted nearly 30 years? Rahila Gupta covered the conflict in the mid-80s, and reflects on the situation today when the war appears to be decisively over, but the post-war reality remains as harrowing as ever, particularly for women.

Bosnia and the universal theme of police brutality

In the Bosnian protests of the last months, the global scenario of police brutality has been re-enacted, with local specifics.  And the violence of the police is itself a symptom of the failure of the current Bosnian political order. 

Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer

Bosnian women live with the malign consequences of a peace agreement engineered by internationals between male war leaders. Syrian peace negotiations are heading the same way. Recently Syrian women met with Bosnian counterparts to strategize for a peace that delivers on the interests of women and civil society.  

Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return

The Nayarit conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons demonstrated beyond doubt that preventing nuclear catastrophe is the responsibility and right of all. As Austria picks up the baton, the challenge will be to move forward in a process that is open to all and blockable by none

The anti-women gag law in Afghanistan: the pitfalls of hasty conclusions

Does the new criminal procedure code in Afghanistan signal the demise of all efforts to curb violence against women? An accurate reading of the law, and a nuanced understanding of the post-NATO developments and impact on women’s rights tells a different story.

"We are hungry in three languages": citizens protest in Bosnia

Demonstrations have spread rapidly across Bosnia, with citizens organizing popular assemblies to voice their frustration with the country’s institutional paralysis.  Through the adamantly non-ethnic nature of the demonstrations, the protesters are taking aim at the entire political elite. Valerie Hopkins reports from Sarajevo.

The UK government's stand against humanitarian disarmament

Why is the UK government boycotting a key multilateral conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons? Rebecca Johnson analyses the implications for British nuclear policy as governments and civil society convene in Mexico to take forward a new humanitarian disarmament process

Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia

On the fifth day of ongoing demonstrations in Sarajevo, a routine is establishing itself and there is a feeling of something new in the landscape of Dayton-constitution Bosnian purgatory – citizens are breaking up with their fears.

"Rehearsing the revolution": theatre in Israel-Palestine

In Israel/Palestine, former combatants are using the Theatre of the Oppressed to move towards an end to the occupation. Recently London theatre group Cardboard Citizens invited a former Israeli officer to share his experience of making theatre for peace.

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