The winds of change - links and articles

18 October 2005

There are men in suits and other men in suits. That the UK was a key signatory power presiding over the birth of  UN Resolution 1325 five years ago is thanks in large part to Sir Jeremy Greenstock who, it is said, led Britain’s representatives and indeed the whole process ‘from the front’ . Today, his article joins Lesley Abdela’s vigorous call to action and I urge you to have a look.  We are putting a permanent link in to the openDemocracy 1325-related articles so that you can get there easily.

Greenstock is a rather remarkable man of vision – which makes it all the more frustrating this week-end to discover that the publication of his eagerly-awaited fly-on-the-wall memoir of his period as the Prime-Minister’s envoy to Iraq may well never see the light of day because the Foreign Office has finally got cold feet and demanded drastic cuts in the manuscript. The memoir draws on conversations between Greenstock and other key players such as Tony Blair and Jack Straw to extract what Greenstock calls some ‘important lessons from the saga in Iraq’ which have led the senior diplomat to conclude that the conflict is ‘politically illegitimate’. These conversations and other sections have now been effectively censored.

While we are mentioning men who have made significant contributions to 1325 and peacebuilding, and while I’m pointing you to the larger website in which we currently blog – I would like to recommend Paul Rogers’ regular openDemocracy column on Global security. This week, Paul is taking his customarily cool-headed look at the findings of the Human Security Report which will be published this November and which I see has attracted some interest in the 1325 e-lists.

Rogers provides a refreshing counterpoint to what normally passes as ‘the news’. His conclusion is importantly qualified, but nevertheless he stresses the significance of the Report’s key, controversial finding that , ‘In many different ways over the past fifteen years there really has been a much-increased effort to prevent conflict, to resolve it when it happens and to improve the world’s capacity for post-conflict peace-building.’  You will find A Safer World also on the front page.

It seems that despite the worldwide promotion of a politics of fear which likes to emphasise our impotence in the face of ‘evil’, it is, in fact, possible to make a difference.  And of course this is when life starts getting interesting. There are moments when a report or an article or a campaign break through the deluge of the ‘normal way of seeing things’ – bringing revelation. Cindy Weber and Sarah Lindon have been discussing one such article, Judith Butler’s 2002 lecture, ‘On Being Beside Oneself’, which I hope they’ll return to because I’d like to join in…  Another article that can be transformative was sent to us last week-end by Rebecca Johnson from the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. Rebecca is giving a talk today in one of the UN’s series of lectures to mark the 5th anniversary of 1325. The seminar, entitled Gender, Weapons and Militarism, is organised by Global Action to Prevent War & Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and takes place at 1:15-3pm, in Conference Room A, UN HQ, New York.

Rebecca is talking about, “Ridding the world of nuclear weapons: why does gender matter?”, and by way of background, she sent me a link to a piece in the current issue of her Disarmament Diplomacy journal by Carol Cohn, Felicity Hill and Sara Ruddick. We liked it so much that we linked to, ‘The Relevance of Gender for Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction’ as one of yesterday’s Daily Links ( October 17): I just don’t want you to miss it if you are interested.

This article is packed with thoughts that shed new light on old problems, and again – the ending, where the authors draw their conclusions about Resolution 1325 is surprisingly, even shockingly, upbeat:

“ This resolution has attracted more interest than many other Security Council resolutions, forging new networks, publications, organisations, initiatives and budgets, as an active global constituency develops to further the resolution's aims and monitor implementation. By placing gender within the UN's mandate of maintaining international peace and security, UNSCR 1325 provides legitimacy for work on raising gender awareness in all aspects of security and defence.

The debate on that resolution and its follow up have brought into sharper focus the enormous contribution of women as stakeholders in peace, disarmament and conflict prevention. The role of men and a certain kind of masculinity in dominating the political structures that organise wars and oversee security matters is beginning to be questioned. The result has been a greater awareness of the gender dimensions of security issues in conflict and post-conflict situations throughout the international community. Even NATO is convening workshops on the significance of UNSCR 1325 to its work!”

As for today’s Daily Links – how great to be beginning to carry a smattering of links to the differences you are making, dear fellow-bloggers, in your work. A reader sent us a link to Angela Castellanos’  remarkable article on an all-female team of ‘minor mayors’ in Bogota running the city – don’t miss it! We could do with a few more like that…

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