From War to Peace https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/6711/all cached version 08/02/2019 18:20:21 en From Fukushima to Hinkley Point https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-fukushima-to-hinkley-point <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:DoNotOptimizeForBrowser ></w> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-style: italic;">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. </span><span style="font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-bidi-font-style: italic;"></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This article was first published in 2012</em></p><p>A week after getting back from Fukushima, I found myself talking with three women in Bristol who were handing out leaflets and urging people to take action to stop the building of the new <a href="http://stophinkley.org/">Hinkley C nuclear power reactor</a> in Somerset.&nbsp; Their leaflet showed the evacuation zones if Hinkley were to suffer the kind of accident that caused fires and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.&nbsp; Cardiff lies 20 miles away, across the Bristol Channel. At those distances from Fukushima, Japanese families with young children or women of child-bearing age have been evacuated. I saw their homes and schools standing eerily empty, with rampant weeds choking the play equipment and pushing through broken windows and greenhouses.</p><p>I visited Fukushima together with doctors from Australia, India, Britain, Germany, Canada, Finland and the United States. We had earlier been in Hiroshima for a meeting of the <a href="http://www.ippnw.org/">International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War</a>. Our trip, which took a couple of hours by train and bus from Tokyo, was organised by a group of <a href="http://fukushima.greenaction-japan.org/">Japanese physicians</a> (PANW), who had arranged for us to meet local doctors, farmers and politicians. </p><p>The fields, homes and roadside verges as the bus left Fukushima City were immaculately tidy, as expected in Japan.&nbsp; This was the familiar rural landscape of Japan – pretty houses interspersed with fluorescent green rice paddies or dark green soya bean fields, with long greenhouse frames or poly-tunnels of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other summer vegetables.</p><p>A few miles out of the city the scene suddenly changed. Gone were the tidy squares of rice and other crops. Instead, a riot of wild vegetation climbed up buildings and telegraph poles, obscuring the welcoming road signs with their waving cartoon characters.&nbsp; Now the roads were practically empty of cars, though our bus passed a few police vehicles and heavy diggers. Like the boarded-up schools, some of the empty shops and houses still had gardens where bright flowers fought for space against the creeping weeds.&nbsp; In fields and lining the roadside we saw rows of bulging sacks, which local doctors told us were filled with contaminated topsoil and vegetation awaiting collection for disposal as radioactive waste.</p><p>Decontamination is a never-ending job here, as rain washes more radiation down from the hills and forests into ‘decontaminated’ fields and gardens.&nbsp; Pink tape marked the boundary of a decontaminated area behind a health clinic we visited, but the doctors admitted this was relative.&nbsp; In front of the clinic an electronic counter displayed current levels of radioactivity.</p> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Rebeccan%20Johnson%202.JPG" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p><em>Measuring radiation levels outside a health clinic in Fukushima prefecture</em></p> <p>For us, as temporary and middle-aged visitors, the radioactivity shouldn’t be a problem, as we took basic precautions.&nbsp; But it’s not healthy for babies or families who have or want children.&nbsp; The shocking implications of this became clear when we reached Kawauchi village. Around 12-15 miles south-west of the crippled nuclear power station, Kawauchi is closer than the abandoned villages we passed through earlier, which suffered heavier contamination as the wind at the time of the explosions and fires sent the main radiation plume towards the north-west.&nbsp; We met the local mayor, Yuko Endo, who expressed his determination to keep the village alive.&nbsp; He evaded questions about the nuclear power plant, but spoke of the evils of the evacuation, saying that 63 people from the area had died due to ‘evacuation stress’, and that the elderly suffered most as their communities were disrupted and they lost touch with their friends.</p><p>On the outskirts of Kawauchi we stopped at a beautiful farmhouse near a little duck pond next to rice and soybean fields. Things looked almost normal. But the 67 year-old farmer, Sonoko Akimoto, told us that the ducks were being used as a means to monitor the levels of contamination.&nbsp; She and her husband had practically retired and handed over to the next generation, but after the nuclear power disaster their children and grandchildren had to be evacuated, so now they were alone and struggling to keep things going.&nbsp; They had planted their crops this year in the knowledge that – like last year’s – they would have to be dug up, bagged up and treated as radioactive waste.&nbsp; Maybe next year’s crops could be eaten, she said hopefully. But the clicking geiger counter warns of a bleaker future. </p> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Rebecca%20Johnson%201.JPG" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p><em>Sonoko Akimolo with contaminated soybeans on her family farm near Kawauchi</em></p> <p>Kawauchi village spans the 20 km total exclusion zone, known locally as the ‘red zone’.&nbsp; Rather than leave the area completely, some evacuees preferred to move a few miles into temporary housing built in and around Kawauchi.&nbsp; Some had worked at the power plant and are now employed on various decontamination projects.&nbsp; One woman dabbed at tears as she showed us round a tiny anonymous room in her evacuation hut and spoke of her beloved home near the sea where she had lived with her son and his family.&nbsp; To protect his children, her son had moved to Tokyo and was now living with relatives. She stayed in response to the mayor’s call to keep the community alive, but misses her family dreadfully.&nbsp; Her final, sad question continues to haunt me: “How can we keep this village going without any children or young people?”</p><p>Thousands more people died in the towns flattened by the March 2011 tsunami along Japan’s North-Eastern coast, but where as these are now ringing to the sounds of active rebuilding and the laughter of children, the villages of Fukushima are quietly slipping into long term depression.&nbsp; Local doctors say there are few signs of illness directly attributable to the outpourings of radioactivity, but confirm raised levels of suicides and health problems due to disruption and stress.</p><p>Since March 2011, Japan has significantly cut its energy consumption, increased investments in sustainable energy and subsidised micro-production. In my two weeks in Japan the consequences were immediately visible, as solar panels grace more houses and small businesses than before, and many villages and factories are building wind turbines to provide for their local needs. Citizens groups are organising the largest anti-nuclear demonstrations in decades, marshalling tens of thousands in Tokyo every week against the planned re-start of any of the nuclear power plants that had been shut down.&nbsp; Yet, for the contaminated zones in the Fukushima area it appears that ‘out of sight’ means ‘out of mind’. </p> <p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Rebecca%20Johnson%203.JPG" alt="" width="460" /></p><p><em>Bales of contaminated crops awaiting disposal as radioactive waste.</em></p> <p>Having seen how these communities are being slowly suffocated, I look again at the area around the new nuclear power plant that EDF Energy (Electricité de France) plans to build at Hinkley Point, with generous subsidies from the UK government.&nbsp;&nbsp; Bridgwater and the M5 motorway are less than 10 miles from Hinkley, so would be well within any total exclusion zone if Hinkley C were to be built and suffer a nuclear accident.&nbsp; Depending on wind direction for a radioactive plume, Cardiff, Taunton and Bristol are close enough to be turned into ghost towns bereft of children and women of child-bearing age.&nbsp; Think about it.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p>When the Fukushima nuclear reactors were built, there was some local opposition – pointing out the dangers of radiation, earthquakes and tsunami.&nbsp; But most people supported the construction, which brought jobs to an area dependent on farming and fishing.&nbsp; They were happy to believe that the Japanese nuclear industry was the safest and best managed in the world. They were assured that the reactors would be earthquake proof.&nbsp; The government provided subsidies and local politicians rallied support, ignoring the few dissenters who warned of potential catastrophe. </p><p>Now the same thing is happening here, with far less excuse. Britain doesn’t have significant earthquakes or tsunami, but that isn’t the point.&nbsp; We do have accidents, terrorist attacks and sometimes even hurricanes.&nbsp; Any of these could precipitate a ‘perfect storm’ scenario in which a power plant’s cooling system and its ‘fail-safe’ back-ups were destroyed, leading to radiation releases from the exposure of reactor fuel or a meltdown.&nbsp; Climate change is undoubtedly a major security threat, but it can’t be solved with the 20th century’s catastrophic nuclear technologies.</p><p>Japan, an industrialised island nation with twice Britain’s population, has been shocked into radically altering its energy policies. It plans to reduce reliance on both nuclear and fossil fuels, conserving through reduced consumption and shifting from centralised production towards greater micro-generation and sustainable solar, wind and tidal energy production.</p><p>Far from justifying nuclear power, climate chaos makes the rush to nuclear even crazier.&nbsp; Sea level rises and increases in extreme weather will exacerbate nuclear risks, not least because most power plants are built close to seas and rivers due to their insatiable need for cooling water.&nbsp; EDF’s design for Hinkley C is neither tried nor tested.&nbsp; The nuclear industry is trying to revive itself at our expense, though it has still not solved the problems of decommissioning and radioactive waste disposal from 50 years of nuclear power operations.</p><p>We may not be able to do much to help the stricken communities near Fukushima. But we could help ourselves to avoid such a calamity occurring here.&nbsp; The <a href="http://stopnewnuclear.org.uk/">demonstrations at Bridgwater and Hinkley on October 6-8</a> give us an opportunity to show that we, like Japan, are learning the lessons of Fukushima.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/after-fukushima">After Fukushima</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/fukushima-foreseeable-consequence-of-nuclear-dependency">Fukushima: a foreseeable consequence of nuclear dependency</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/non-proliferation-treaty-ground-is-shifting">Non-Proliferation Treaty: the ground is shifting</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-challenging-nuclear-powers-fiefdom">NPT: challenging the nuclear powers&#039; fiefdom</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-gulf-between-nuclear-haves-and-have-nots">NPT: the gulf between the nuclear haves and have-nots</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/is-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime-fit-for-purpose">Is the nuclear non-proliferation regime fit for purpose? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/occupy-movement-and-women-of-greenham-common">The Occupy movement and the women of Greenham Common </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-weapons-beyond-non-proliferation">Nuclear weapons: beyond non-proliferation?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nato-fiddling-with-nuclear-bombs-while-planet-burns">NATO: fiddling with nuclear bombs while the planet burns</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Sat, 30 Jul 2016 15:27:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 68087 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Wheels on the ground: women’s ‘peace train’ to The Hague https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/wheels-on-ground-women%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98peace-train%E2%80%99-to-hague <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:DoNotOptimizeForBrowser ></w> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> </p><p>The women who have come to the <a href="http://www.womenstopwar.org/">WILPF </a>conference in the Hague from Australia and Aotearoa- New Zealand, say that t<span style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"></span>ravelling with your feet on the ground, or at least with your wheels on the track, <em>is</em> the road to peace. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Arrival_in_Budapest_1.jpg" alt="Women hold a WILPF banner in front of a train" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The peace travellers from Australia and New Zealand are greeted at Budapest Keleti station.</span></span></span>In April 1915, when more than a thousand women gathered for an international peace congress in The Hague, Netherlands, they made long and arduous journeys by land and sea. This week, precisely a hundred years later, we are assembling again in our hundreds here in this same city, marking the centenary of that event, which gave <span><a href="http://www.womenstopwar.org/">birth to WILPF</a></span>, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. And this time the great majority of us flew here, from all around the world, in a matter of hours. </p> <p>But… a handful of WILPF members from the most distant countries, eight from Australia and two from Aotearoa-New Zealand, decided to travel like their predecessors, by the slow, terrestrial route. They would take a train journey for peace. The idea was reminiscent of the women’s Peace Train that travelled from Helsinki to Beijing in 1995, carrying delegates to the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women. Indeed their original intention had been no less ambitious, involving women from Japan, the Philippines, India and Lebanon too, in a train trip that would have spanned Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Time and cost however scotched this plan, and the actual outcome was more modest: ten women departed from Istanbul, the city that marks the juncture between Asia and Europe, on 13 April and arrived in The Hague on 21 April. </p> <p>Listening to the travellers soon after their arrival, I began to understand that it was by no means just incidental that the motivation for the peace train came in part from Australia. Del Cuddihy told me, ‘It’s something we’ve learned from the indigenous peoples of Australia. They continually stress the importance of land, of connectedness to the land. We wanted to travel by train because we wanted to feel the land under our feet, to tread it. It’s only by walking on the others’ soil that you get to know them, have conversations, learn their culture’. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Peace_Journeyers_Day_2.jpg" alt="Group photo of travellers" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The travellers in Hagia Sofia Cathedral, Istanbul, where two world religions meet under one roof. </span></span></span>The group stayed four days in Istanbul, and one of the stretches of land they trod was the beach at Gelibolu, the place where in April 1915 thousands of Australian soldiers landed on Turkish soil to meet their death in the debacle the world remembers now as ‘Gallipoli’. Several things during the women’s few days in Turkey caused the group to reflect on failures of communication. First, these soldiers had been mere lads from the other side of the world, ignorant and innocent, knowing nothing of the culture or terrain they were invading. And likewise the women travellers themselves felt, it has to be said, a little out of touch on arrival in Turkey, having failed to make connection in advance with local feminist antiwar organizations. The Turkish Government had apparently blanked out the <span><a href="http://wilpf.org/International">WILPF International website</a></span> and <span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/wilpf">Facebook</a></span> page in its censorship of Internet media. &nbsp; </p> <p>The women were also frustrated to learn that at the very start of their overland journey they were going to have to fly the first leg, for the railway line from Istanbul to Bucharest was under repair. That trusty communication technology of the 19th Century was letting them down in the 21st. Nonetheless, they reached Bucharest, then Budapest, getting a warm reception and welcoming events in both cities, before travelling on to Munich, Utrecht and eventually The Hague. And on the way they did indeed have several memorable conversations with individuals they encountered that served to ground them in the lands through which they were travelling. </p> <p>One was with Emma, a young Romanian woman, a dentist, who spoke sadly about the many problems of her country. Romania had been on the winning side in the Great War. For all that, it had not become a prosperous country. And indeed, looking from the train window the travellers had noticed that, although many of the buildings they saw were historic and beautiful, everywhere seemed to be in a state of neglect and disrepair. It resembled, still, some kind of war zone. ‘No matter what we do we don’t seem able to win!’, Emma said. She spoke of the misunderstanding and disparagement Romanians feel from the ‘West’. ‘People from Romania don’t have a good reputation in the rest of Europe.’&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/A_male_supporter_in_Bucharest.jpg" alt="Group photo around breakfast table" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Breakfast in the hotel at Bucharest, Romania, joined by supportive fellow guests.</span></span></span>Racist differentiation like this was a theme in another memorable conversation the travelling group had – this time with a man, a ticket inspector on the train as it passed through the Netherlands. He had seen the women to be a group, engaged with each other, clearly on some kind of project. He sat down to talk with them. They were as interested in him as he was in them. He told them that his family originated in Morocco, though he himself had been born in the Netherlands. He had received a higher education and aspired to be an accounts auditor, but said he found it difficult to get the professional work for which he was qualified. Was it, he wondered, because of his beard and dark skin? </p><p>Talking among themselves, the women reflected on these stories they were hearing of negative stereotyping, how they gained authenticity from being told by the individuals experiencing it, from within their own cultures. Such encounters were confirming them in their conviction that travelling with your feet on the ground, or at least with your wheels on the track, <em>is</em> the road to peace.&nbsp; </p> <p>Del was continuing to reflect on the contrasted experiences they were having along the road of good communication and failures of communication. She had been reading a book, <em><span><a href="http://blog.jackvinson.com/archives/2005/08/14/great_information_disasters.html">Great Information Disasters</a></span>,</em> edited by Forest Horton and Dennis Lewis, and in particular a chapter that told the story of the Yir Yoront, one of the Aboriginal tribes in Australia. In the first decade of the 20th century, these people were still using stone axes. These were more than tools to them, they were symbolic objects, their transfer from one person to another a complex means of communication. When white Australians introduced steel axes to the Yir Yoront, it rapidly destroyed their culture. This may well, Del said, recounting the story to me, not have been deliberate– merely a profound failure of understanding, of communication, predicated on a massive imbalance of power. </p> <p>The significance of Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand as an origin of this peace train was becoming more clear to me. While there had been no Antipodean women at the first Hague Congress, by the Zurich Congress of 1919 there had been three. One was <span><a href="http://www.worldcat.org/title/quest-for-peace-as-i-have-known-it-in-australia/oclc/38093106">Eleanor Moore</a></span>. Jane Addams, president of WILPF, had asked her at the time, ‘Do you feel it is worthwhile your travelling so far to this meeting?’ Moore had answered in the affirmative. But she had added that she was feeling a profound difference of perspective setting her apart from the European and North American women around her. Interestingly, seven years later, when WILPF first organized a Pan-Pacific Congress in Hawaii, sixteen Australian and New Zealand women had attended, Eleanor Moore among them. And here, Eleanor Moore remarked that the issues discussed were more regional, more local, more <em>grounded. </em>The alienating euro-centricity of 1919 was absent. </p> <p>Australia’s painful history, the despising and destruction of indigenous cultures by European colonizers, has generated a much needed debate about inter-regional cultural power relations. In her book <em><span><a href="http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-March-2008/connell.html">Southern Theory</a></span></em>, a forceful critique of academic imperialism,<em><span> </span></em>Australian sociologist <span><a href="http://sydney.edu.au/education_social_work/about/staff/profiles/raewyn.connell.php">Raewyn Connell</a></span> writes, ‘The enormous spectrum of human history that the sociologists took as their domain was organised by a central idea: difference between the civilisation of the metropole and other cultures whose main feature was their primitiveness…. Within the colonised world, Australia had the distinction of being&nbsp;<em>the most primitive of all</em>, illustrating the extremity of degradation or backwardness.’ It was also no accident that one of the earliest critiques of the assumption of authority by Western feminists, <em><span><a href="http://www.amazon.com/World-Womens-Movement-Chilla-Bulbeck/dp/8120202775">One World Women’s Movement</a></span></em>, was written by an Australian, academic and writer <span><a href="http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/chilla.bulbeck">Chilla Bulbeck</a></span>. </p> <p>At the WILPF Congress this week members will debate a Resolution to embrace leadership from the ‘Global South’. The text reads, ‘We can practice the fine art of learning from and being led by new ideas from cultural heritages, from acknowledging the leadership of our sisters from South and Central America, from Africa, from Asia, from the Middle East and from the Pacific’. As the League enters its second century there is a chance, then, that it may become the truly global and inclusive organization it has always aspired to be. </p><p><strong><em>Cynthia Cockburn is speaking at the <a href="http://www.womenstopwar.org/">WILPF centenary conference</a> in the Hague April 22 - 29.&nbsp; </em></strong><strong><em>Read read more articles in 50.50's series <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/women%27s-power-to-stop-war">Women's Power to Stop War </a>addressing feminist strategies to outlaw war and root out its causes. </em></strong><strong><em>Marion Bowman and Jennifer Allsopp are reporting for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50.</a></em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/violence-is-not-inevitable-it-is-choice">Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/this-is-what-feminist-foreign-policy-looks-like">This is what a feminist foreign policy looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/scrapping-trident-holistic-approach">Scrapping Trident: the holistic approach</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jacqui-true/why-we-need-feminist-foreign-policy-to-stop-war">Why we need a feminist foreign policy to stop war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/christine-ahn/walking-together-imagining-new-chapter-in-korean-history">Walking together: imagining a new chapter in Korean history </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/reem-assayyah/we-feel-that-we-found-our-self-after-we-lost-it-in-war">We feel that we found our self after we lost it in the war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson-jaine-rose/guerilla-woolfare-against-madness-of-mutually-assured-destruction">Guerilla woolfare: against the madness of mutually assured destruction</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/emily-bowerman/our-duty-to-stranger-remembering-helen-bamber">Our duty to the stranger: Remembering Helen Bamber</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick Delene Cuddihy Cynthia Cockburn Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:33:33 +0000 Cynthia Cockburn and Delene Cuddihy 92212 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/marion-bowman/violence-is-not-inevitable-it-is-choice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Big chain hotels in major cities can throw up some unusual bed fellows. This morning at the Novotel in The Hague, Netherlands, the lift was full of grim-faced men all heading off to the 9th annual <a href="http://refiningsummit.com/">Global Refining and Petrochemical Summit</a> at the convention centre next door. The oil refinery business isn’t doing so well because of industry over-capacity and environmental costs, so they were there to work out how to make more money. </p><p>By the evening, in the ebb and flow of arrivals and departures, a group of cheerful British women filled the hotel foyer. They were floristry students on a study tour, in Holland to visit the tulip fields, observe flower auctions, visit growers and learn more about flower arrangement.</p> <p>Although neither group would have known it, they both had links to another gathering, just down the road at The Hague’s famous Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice. Members of the world’s oldest international women’s peace movement were meeting there to mark their organisation’s centenary.&nbsp; </p> <p>On April 28, 1915, 1,136 women met in The Hague in an International Women’s Congress to try to bring the First World War to a halt. It was a war that was fuelled by competing <a href="http://www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net/History/Oil_and_the_Origins_of_World_W/oil_and_the_origins_of_world_w.HTM">imperialist ambitions for oil</a>,&nbsp; a war best remembered now through the symbol of one flower, the <a href="http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm">red poppy</a> of Flanders’ fields. </p> <p>The women who met in 1915 failed in their objective. On the very day they met, just 104 miles to the south, 122,000 men died or were wounded on the sixth day of the Second Battle of Ypres, when a chemical weapon, <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50648#.VTgAy_DCaSo">chlorine gas</a>, was used for the first time in history. In total, 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died during the conflict. Several empires collapsed and the victors put in place a new world order which is still playing out in pulsating circles of war and violence. </p> <p>But if the warmongers have kept going, so have the women peace-makers. The women of 1915 created the <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom</a> (WILPF), where this week and next their successors from 36 countries are finalising a new manifesto against war for the 21st century.&nbsp; </p> <p>Major John McCrae wrote <em>In Flanders Fields</em>, the poem that gives the red poppy its iconic power, after the death of a friend in the Second Battle of Ypres on May 2, just days after the women’s 1915 Congress. In the final verse he urges:</p> <p>Take up our quarrel with the foe:<br /> To you from failing hands we throw<br /> The torch; be yours to hold it high.<br /> If ye break faith with us who die<br /> We shall not sleep, though poppies grow<br /> In Flanders fields.</p> <p>The women of 2015 and of the intervening years have taken up the quarrel and are holding high the torch, keeping faith with their foremothers. One delegate this week in The Hague is Robin Lloyd, whose grandmother Lola Maverick Lloyd was one of the Americans present in 1915. Down the generations and across the globe, the foe is militarism, militarisation and war itself, and the torch illuminates a vision of the impossibility of peace without the full participation of women in the exercise of power. </p> <p>WILPF has deep roots in the 19th century movements for equal political rights and social justice. Helen Kay, WILPF’s historian, records that the 1915 congress was originally intended to be an international meeting in Berlin devoted solely to women’s suffrage. With the outbreak of war it was cancelled. When it was re-convened in the Netherlands, a neutral country, attendance was contingent on commitment to two things: votes for women and the resolution of conflict through peaceful means. Men in power were alarmed and women’s patriotism, as they defined it, was called into question. The 180 British women who applied for passports in order to be able to attend were called ‘these dangerous women’ by Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. Only 24 were allowed to travel and only three managed to get to The Hague. Some of the German women attending were imprisoned on their return home.</p> <p>This time, the constraints on women attending their Hague meeting are not so very different. Ten women from the Democratic Republic of Congo, half of their delegation, were refused visas and one of the key figures in the organisation, Joy Onyesoh of Nigeria, well travelled in Europe, may not get to the Netherlands. She should be in The Hague now and is due to act as a lead facilitator for WILPF next week, but her visa application has been blocked.</p> <p>Despite such perennial limitations and the power of the war-mongers, the mood of many of the women is upbeat, their long history and wide-ranging connections, of both people and ideas, a source of inspiration and encouragement. A group from Australia has travelled from Istanbul to The Hague on a ‘peace train’, having meetings about peace-making along the way, mirroring the peace train that went from Scandinavia to Beijing in 1995 for the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women. Gisele Noublanche, the 86 year old President of WILPF’s French section, who worked with children tortured during the Algerian war of independence from France (1954 – 62), asked what has kept her in the movement, says: ‘We must keep on resisting – that’s how we advance. Is there anything else to do? We love life and want it to continue the best it can be on this planet.’ Odile Hugonot Haber, a nurse from the US, was originally involved in the student and worker rebellions in Paris in 1968 then brought middle class doctors and nurses together with workers in a centre for activists in San Francisco before taking on the role of chair of WILPF US’s Middle East committee. </p> <p>Although the century since WILPF’s founding has seen war, violence and conflict unimaginable even to those who witnessed the mechanised carnage and mass slaughter of 1914-18, women around the world continue to join the organisation.&nbsp; Cameroon is the latest country to be represented, being endorsed as a new section this week. </p> <p>‘There is peace in Cameroon,’ says Nathalie Wokam Foko, a 42 year old who used to work in commerce and is now studying law to become a magistrate. ‘But the peace hides something. There is poverty. Our electoral system is not always good for everyone. And Boko Haram is coming. They are threatening our peace in the north and Seleka rebels from Central African Republic are in the east. There are internally displaced people.’ Wokam Foko says women in particular are victims in this scenario, so must organise as women. ‘We can’t get to conflict areas, so we must work together where we are and get involved in peace processes and negotiations’. Annie Matundu of WILPF’s Democratic Republic of Congo section, who helped the Cameroon women connect with the global movement, says: ‘Peace is in the middle of everything. Without peace nothing else works.’</p> <p>In 1948 WILPF was one of the first civil society organisations to receive consultative status at the UN. Over 50 years later, in 2000, WILPF reached a key moment in its history when the UN Security Council adopted Resolution <a href="http://www.usip.org/gender_peacebuilding/about_UNSCR_1325">1325</a>,&nbsp; the international legal framework that addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.</p> <p>Nevertheless, women continue to be <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">excluded</a> from participation in peace processes, as international talks about the war in Syria show, . And this very week, with a humanitarian crisis involving hundreds of desperate people dying in the Mediterranean Sea, the EU is being asked to <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32420900">consider military action</a>, as the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi frames the problem as a ‘war’ with human traffickers. </p> <p>&nbsp;The EU meets today (April 23) to discuss the crisis. Mr Renzi should perhaps have a word with someone from WILPF first, Gisele Noublanche, maybe, who says: ‘It is very important that women have a vision of a world that is demilitarised’. Men too, for that vision is in short supply, but without it the dying and horror will continue. As WILPF’s manifesto for the 21st century, to be launched next week says: ‘Violence is not inevitable. It is a choice….To pursue our task of ending war we have to be able to imagine peace.’&nbsp; It really is time the women were heard and their vision shared.</p> <p>In Flanders fields the poppies blow<br /> Between the crosses, row on row,<br /> That mark our place; and in the sky<br /> The larks, still bravely singing, fly<br /> Scarce heard amid the guns below.</p><p><strong><em>Marion Bowman and Jennifer Allsopp are reporting for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a> from the&nbsp; <a href="http://www.womenstopwar.org/">WILPF centenary conference</a> in the Hague April 22 - 29.&nbsp; </em></strong><strong><em>Read read more articles in 50.50's series <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/women%27s-power-to-stop-war">Women's Power to Stop War </a>addressing feminist strategies to outlaw war and root out its causes. </em></strong></p><p><strong><em></em></strong><strong><em></em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/this-is-what-feminist-foreign-policy-looks-like">This is what a feminist foreign policy looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - 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Dekha Ibrahim Abdi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Conflict Equality International politics Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick feminism gender gender justice patriarchy violence against women women and militarism women and power women's movements young feminists Marion Bowman Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:27:33 +0000 Marion Bowman 92209 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Austrian pledge to ban nuclear weapons https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/austrian-pledge-to-ban-nuclear-weapons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Driven by “the imperative of human security for all", Austria pledged at the <a href="http://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-foreign-policy/disarmament/weapons-of-mass-destruction/nuclear-weapons-and-nuclear-terrorism/vienna-conference-on-the-humanitarian-impact-of-nuclear-weapons/">HINW</a> conference to work to "stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks”. <strong><br /></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The <a href="http://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-foreign-policy/disarmament/weapons-of-mass-destruction/nuclear-weapons-and-nuclear-terrorism/vienna-conference-on-the-humanitarian-impact-of-nuclear-weapons/">Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons (HINW)</a>, closed last week with a compelling <a href="http://www.bmeia.gv.at/fileadmin/user_upload/Zentrale/Aussenpolitik/Abruestung/HINW14/HINW14_Austrian_Pledge.pdf">“Austrian Pledge”</a> to “identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons”.&nbsp; </p> <p>A comprehensive&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bmeia.gv.at/fileadmin/user_upload/Zentrale/Aussenpolitik/Abruestung/HINW14/HINW14_Chair_s_Summary.pdf">Chair’s Summary</a> was the anticipated outcome of the Vienna Conference, and few were expecting Austria to go beyond this.&nbsp; In presenting the Austrian Pledge, Secretary-General of Austria’s Foreign Ministry Dr <a href="http://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/the-ministry/the-secretary-general/">Michael Linhart</a> explained that the facts and findings of the Vienna Conference – as well as previous HINW conferences held in &nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/fetishists-of-nuclear-power-projection-have-had-their-day">Oslo</a> and <a href="http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014">Nayarit</a> – had showed that more diplomat action was needed. </p> <p>The Austrian pledge will go down in history. Driven by “the imperative of human security for all and to promote the protection of civilians against risks stemming from nuclear weapons”,&nbsp; Austria promised to disseminate the evidence and findings from the Vienna Conference and “cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, states, international organisations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements, parliamentarians and civil society to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks”.&nbsp; </p> <p>While the Austrian Pledge is widely interpreted as a commitment to take forward a multilateral process to ban nuclear weapons, Dr Linhart also called on “nuclear weapons possessor states” to take “concrete interim measures to reduce the risk of&nbsp; nuclear weapons detonations, including reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons and moving nuclear weapons away from deployment into storage, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrines, and rapid reductions of all types of nuclear weapons.” </p> <p>The Vienna Chair’s Summary fulfilled its primary role of giving a broadly balanced “birds eye view” of the main findings from the in-depth panels and the major themes drawn from the closing debate, in which over 100 of the 158 governments participated, along with representatives from international NGOs.&nbsp; With many looking ahead to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in May 2015, it was important that so many NPT states welcomed how the Vienna, Nayarit and Oslo conferences have reframed the debate and re-energised efforts to fulfill the NPT’s nuclear disarmament (Article VI) obligations.&nbsp; In one panel, two of the ambassadors most responsible for the successful outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference – Libran Cabactulan and Axel Marschik – discussed the adoption and relevance of the paragraph in the <a href="\ttp\--www.un.org-ga-search-view_doc.asp?symbol=NPT-CONF.2010-50%20(VOL.I)">disarmament action plan in the final outcome document from the 2010 NPT conference</a> that expressed “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons&nbsp; and reaffirms the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.” &nbsp; </p> <p>Building on this, at least 45 governments in Vienna explicitly called for further multilateral negotiations to prohibit nuclear weapons, some echoing the <a href="http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014">&nbsp;Nayarit Conference</a> Chair’s call for “the commitment of states and civil society to reach new international standards and norms, through a legally binding instrument”. </p> <p>For the first time in the HINW process two NPT nuclear-armed states – the United States and Britain – attended, as well as India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed nations that have rejected the NPT.&nbsp; In addition, though the Chinese government was not formally represented behind a name plate, they sent observers to Vienna to keep them in the loop.&nbsp; Though these nuclear-armed governments were warmly welcomed, some of their statements were troubling, as they seemed unable to engage with the evidence demonstrating the security dangers and military uselessness of such weapons of mass suffering, choosing instead to underline their desperate reliance on nuclear weaponry for the foreseeable future. </p> <p>The United States shocked many – including its own allies – by following the powerful testimonies of two survivors of American nuclear testing, <a href="http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2014/11/25/hsr-giving-downwinders-a-global-voice-st-george-woman-represents-usa-at-vienna-nuclear-conference/#.VIZMcSidBSU">Michelle Thomas of Utah</a>, USA and&nbsp; <a href="http://nuclearfreebasesfreeph.org/?p=396">Abacca Anjain-Maddison</a> of the Marshall Islands, with a tone deaf, standard text that just reiterated US nuclear policies and positions. &nbsp;A later<a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements"> US statement</a> tried to regain some of the goodwill engendered by the Obama administration’s decision to participate in the Vienna HINW conference, but still largely missed its mark.&nbsp; Evoking the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-By-President-Barack-Obama-In-Prague-As-Delivered">speech President Obama gave in Prague</a> in April 2008 by saying that “the United States stands with all those here who seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”, the US noted the “growing political will” to pursue a practical disarmament agenda. &nbsp;But rhetoric about “strategic stability” with Russia and post cold war reductions in its nuclear weapons no longer suffice, even though many will welcome that the US wants to work with the UK and others to “trust and verify further nuclear reductions” and deal with relevant “technical problems”.&nbsp; If these governments can take the lead in putting the technical and verification solutions in place to persuade their nuclear-armed partners, rivals and nuclear establishments to achieve genuine disarmament, that would be very helpful. But that doesn’t mean they can carry on modernising and producing nuclear weapons.&nbsp; Quoting Obama’s endorsement of the “voices for peace and progress” is not enough if the president is not listening or is too politically hamstrung to respond effectively to what those voices are saying. As discussed widely in Vienna, a diplomatic process to prohibit nuclear weapons will increase the pressure on all the nuclear-armed states to accelerate and accomplish the kinds of steps that the United States says it wants to take. </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements">UK statement</a> agreed that “devastating humanitarian consequences could result from the use of nuclear weapons”. The point, said Ambassador Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque, was what conclusions to draw from that fact.&nbsp; Although UK governments have accepted that banning and eliminating chemical and biological weapons is conducive to national and international security, this statement asserted that nuclear weapons ensure “stability and security” that might be jeopardised by steps to ban and eliminate them. &nbsp;Reitering that the UK intended to “maintain a minimum credible nuclear deterrent” for as long as might be deemed “necessary”, the UK delegation seemed to assume Trident replacement would go ahead with a nuclear warhead stockpile of “180 by the mid-2020s”. </p> <p>This complacent statement was received glumly by British participants in Vienna, including a number of MPs from the Westminster Houses of Parliament, the European Parliament, and the Scottish Parliament.&nbsp; Also in attendance was a Scottish Government official responsible for dealing with nuclear accidents and emergencies in Scotland, which hosts two nuclear weapons bases at Faslane and Coulport, just north of Glasgow. It turned out that the Scottish Government had requested that this official be included on the UK delegation as his role and expertise were so relevant to the issues being discussed in Vienna. After hearing nothing back from the Foreign Office, he attended informally, joining the ranks of civil society experts. </p> <p><a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements">India and Pakistan</a> also spoke. Referring to “the serious threat to the survival of mankind that could be posed by nuclear weapons” India argued for “increased restraints on the use of nuclear weapons in a step by step manner”, and suggested that the Conference on Disarmament (CD) ought to do this job. Pakistan also accepted that the “use of nuclear weapons will have far reaching destructive impact even beyond the zone of conflict”. Recognising that “only real solution for negating this threat is the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” Pakistan also suggested the CD as the place to commence negotiations on a “comprehensive convention” that would prohibit all aspects of nuclear weapons including their possession, production, use and threat of use.&nbsp; Only 65 states are members of the CD, which has been deadlocked since 1996, in large part due to Pakistan’s opposition to CD negotiations on the incremental step of a fissile materials cut-off treaty (FMCT).&nbsp; Frustration with the CD’s cold war structure and political problems have prompted the <a href="http://www.icanw.org/">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)</a> and a growing number of governments to conclude that the only appropriate forum and process for negotiating a nuclear ban treaty must be “open to all and blockable by none”, as underscored in <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements">ICAN’s Vienna statement</a>. </p> <p>Some of the <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements">strongest statements were from African and Latin American countries</a>, many of whom put their weight behind negotiations to ban nuclear weapons. In addition to many national statements, <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements">Opanal,</a> the <a href="http://www.opanal.org/welcome/Welcome.htm">Agency for the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty and nuclear free zone that prohibits nuclear weapons throughout Latin American and the Caribbean</a> said: “We must act to delegitimize nuclear weapons at the political level and to criminalize them as has been done in the case of other weapons of mass destruction”.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements">South Africa</a>, which “voluntarily destroyed its nuclear weapons” in the 1990s, recognised that it had a “legal obligation and … moral responsibility to contribute to the humanitarian initiatives”, and was therefore “currently considering options, including our role in any follow-on activities and meetings”.&nbsp; </p> <p>In her opening testimony to Vienna, atomic bomb survivor <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/hinw/vienna-2014/statements">Setsuko Thurlow</a> from Hiroshima wanted the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 2015 to propel governments to achieve the goal of prohibiting and eliminating all nuclear weapons, urging: “Let us start this process, beginning with negotiations on a ban treaty, here and now in Vienna.”&nbsp; </p> <p>Austria’s courageous Pledge – and many, but not all, governments – have heeded the wisdom of Setsuko and the other indomitable nuclear weapon survivors, the Red Cross and humanitarian and disarmament experts.&nbsp; Though formal negotiations have not yet been launched, filling the legal gap between prohibition and elimination will necessitate a universal treaty that at the very least bans the use, deployment, production, stockpiling, transfers and proliferation of nuclear weapons, requiring their total elimination.&nbsp; </p> <p><em>This is the third report from the Vienna Conference by Rebecca Johnson. Read the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/gathering-speed-to-ban-nuclear-weapons">first</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">second</a> reports</em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">Nuclear survivors&#039; testimony: from hell to hope </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/gathering-speed-to-ban-nuclear-weapons">Gathering speed to ban nuclear weapons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson-jaine-rose/guerilla-woolfare-against-madness-of-mutually-assured-destruction">Guerilla woolfare: against the madness of mutually assured destruction</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rebecca-johnson-rupert-read/after-scotland-decides-build-citizencentred-democracy-through">After Scotland decides: build citizen-centred democracy throughout Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts">An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-point-of-no-return">Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/uk-governments-stand-against-humanitarian-disarmament">The UK government&#039;s stand against humanitarian disarmament </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/new-nuclear-weapons-for-uk-challenge-labour-can%E2%80%99t-dodge">New nuclear weapons for the UK: a challenge Labour can’t dodge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-banning-nuclear-tests-to-banning-nuclear-weapons">From banning nuclear tests to banning nuclear weapons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-fukushima-to-hinkley-point">From Fukushima to Hinkley Point</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/fukushima-foreseeable-consequence-of-nuclear-dependency">Fukushima: a foreseeable consequence of nuclear dependency</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Mon, 15 Dec 2014 07:48:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 88861 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Conscientious objection: Virginia Woolf's ideas live on https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/marta-correia/conscientious-objection-virginia-woolf%27s-ideas-live-on <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In her 1938 essay <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Three-Guineas-Virginia-Woolf/dp/0156901773">Three Guineas</a>, </em>Virginia Woolf<em> </em>defined patriarchy, militarism and nationalism as sources of war. Marta Correia explores how <a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?lang=en">Women in Black Belgrade</a> are acting out Woolf's call to 'disobedience' - and paying a price.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/virginiaWoolf.jpg" alt="Black and white drawing of a woman smiling" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Virginia Woolf</span></span></span>When I first read <a href="http://www.virginiawoolfsociety.co.uk/">Virginia Woolf’s</a> <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Guineas">Three Guineas</a></em> her words sounded somehow contemporary. Her diaries and letters, which date back to 1915 and end only with her death in 1941, reflect a constant preoccupation with the evils of war. They refer to food shortages, having to hide from air raids, deaths and injuries among family and friends, the threat of conscription and the fact that a number of her relations were conscientious objectors. In the 1930s she witnessed the rise of fascism and national-socialism in Europe, experienced the death of her nephew serving in the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and shared the growing fear of another global conflict. Specifically, in her long essay <em><a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199536603.do">Three Guineas</a></em> she seeks to answer the question: what can women (and men) do to prevent war? </p> <p>When I set out to demonstrate how valid Woolf’s ideas are to this day, I came across <a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?lang=en">Zene u Crnom protiv Rata</a> -&nbsp; <a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/en/belgrade">Women in Black against War</a> - in Belgrade, Serbia. When this extraordinary group of feminist antimilitarist women came together in 1991, half a century after Woolf's death, it was in response to a threat similar to the one her generation experienced, one the world believed could never reoccur: the descent of a region into virulent nationalism, when whole communities were persecuted, interned in concentration camps and exterminated because of their ethnicity. </p> <p>Virginia Woolf was a thinker, a writer, a theorist; Women in Black are primarily activists on the street and in the community, but in Belgrade they consciously recognize the value of Woolf's thinking. A Serbo-Croat translation of <em>Three Guineas </em>features on their selected reading list. And as well as maintaining a highly visible and active presence on the street and elsewhere, WiB Belgrade have written and <a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=blogcategory&amp;id=2&amp;Itemid=4">published</a> extensively since the early 1990s. In their manifesto <em>Always Disobedient</em> the group stress the importance of creating 'an alternative women's history by writing about women's resistance to war'. They aim to fill what Virginia Woolf <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199536603.do">referred</a> to as 'a gap on your shelves', the lack of books written by and about women. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/WiBBelgrade.jpg" alt="Women march holding a banner" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Members of Women in Black Belgrade marching with their banner through the streets of Leuven, Belgium. Photo (c) Marta Correia</span></span></span>In their publication <em><a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=blogcategory&amp;id=19&amp;Itemid=12">Women for Peace</a></em> they declare, '[w]e Women in Black Belgrade wish to stimulate different values than those dominated by the patriarchal spirits which are imposed upon us…'. The group's slogan is 'Always disobedient to patriarchy, war, nationalism and militarism'. They bitterly opposed the nationalist discourse of some academics<em> </em>and of the Orthodox Church. In <em><a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199536603.do">Three Guineas</a> </em>Virginia Woolf included photographs depicting a similar set of contemporary authorities she deemed responsible for the state of affairs in Britain in 1938: a soldier, royal heralds representing the proud subjects of the regime, academics, a judge and an archbishop. </p><p>A significant similarity between Virginia Woolf and Women in Black Belgrade is the problematization of male power. WiB declare themselves 'radically anti-patriarchal because patriarchy is not only a system of domination…; patriarchy is the main cause of war'. They <a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=blogcategory&amp;id=19&amp;Itemid=12">denounce</a> militarism as 'armed patriarchy' and group together 'sexism, nationalism and militarism' as the 'patriarchal triad' that led their country to the extreme violence of the 1990s and left visible wounds in Serbia today. For Woolf, likewise, the figure of the dictator/patriarch is 'a very dangerous as well as a very ugly animal'. </p><p>Women in Black Belgrade have also sought to undermine the patriarchal portrayal of the masculine soldier as the embodiment of courage and honour, propagated by the government at the time of the war and at all times by the military who sustain their glamorous and valiant image of soldiers by ignoring 'the photographs of ruined houses and dead bodies' they leave behind, as <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199536603.do">Woolf put it</a>. In 1998 in their <a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=blogcategory&amp;id=19&amp;Itemid=12">proclamation</a> <em>I am a Conscientious Objector,</em> they pledged 'for the recognition of conscientious objection as a fundamental human right' and established that refusal to serve signifies 'a right to a choice… It is an expression of disobedience to patriarchy'. The fact that these women activists fight for the right of men not to engage in military conflict clearly evokes Woolf in <em>Three Guineas</em> when she <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199536603.do">writes</a> that since the patriarch/dictator 'is interfering now with your liberty; he is dictating how you shall live … a common interest unites us'. She believed men and women must fight together against the oppression of patriarchy and dictatorship, which are one and the same force. In a similar spirit, WiB Belgrade welcome some male military deserters into their group - provided they are comfortable to be identified as 'Women in Black'. Together they engaged energetically in the movement for a right of conscientious objection that succeeded in gaining recognition, and led eventually to the abolition of compulsory military service, by the Serbian government. </p><p>Two other campaigns of WiB Belgrade reflect the ideas of Virginia Woolf. One calls for reduction in expenditure on arms and militaries. WiB <a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=blogcategory&amp;id=19&amp;Itemid=12">contrast</a> the poverty of the Serbian population, and of women in particular, to the 'tremendous budgetary sums' allocated to the Yugoslav National Army, advocating reduction of military expenditures and transferring these funds to the civil sector. Similarly, Virginia Woolf <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199536603.do">notes</a>, of Britain of the 1930s, 'we are spending £300,000,000 annually upon arms' compared to 'the minute income' of women's movements and the Society for the Abolition of Slavery, causes she considers important for the construction of a fairer society. </p> <p>The second parallel is between WiB's and Woolf's emphasis on education. WiB identify the educational system as one of the structures that needs urgent reform, and they <a href="http://zeneucrnom.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=blogcategory&amp;id=19&amp;Itemid=12">advocate</a> 'a radical change in the dominant values system, which is sexist, nationalist, militarist, xenophobic, and homophobic, through changes in the educational system at all levels. We pressure institutions to include gender equality, non-violence and multiculturalism in compulsory education'. Again, Virginia Woolf's <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199536603.do">words</a> resonate: 'since the old education of the old colleges breeds neither a particular respect for liberty nor a particular hatred of war it is clear that you must rebuild your college differently'. With just such an objective in mind, the Serbian women have devised an educational project which values the triad education, information and memory, and aims to turn education into a tool for peace. </p><p>For their principled disloyalty to state and nation, their refusal of patriarchal and clerical authority, Women in Black run risks in contemporary Serbia that Virginia Woolf, notwithstanding the conservatism and authoritarianism of 1930s England, did not herself experience. They have&nbsp; been violently challenged on the street by right-wing forces, they have been questioned frequently by police, their premises and homes searched. Recently the attacks upon them have taken a sinister turn. In March this year the spokesperson of the anti-terror unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, Radomir Počuča, used his Facebook account to call explicitly on 'hooligans' to assault the activists. </p><p>While suspected Serbian war criminals go unpunished and occupy positions of power in Serbia today, those who, like WiB Belgrade, strive for a just, secular and civil society, are demonised. I am convinced that Virginia Woolf herself would support the work of the Women in Black <a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/">international network</a> and would surely sign up to the current <a href="http://www.siawi.org/article7822.html">campaign</a> of solidarity with Stasa Zajovic and other women human rights defenders in Belgrade. </p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/peacework-women-in-action-across-europe">Peacework: women in action across Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts">An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heidi-meinzolt/sarajevo-peace-event-addressing-root-causes-of-war-0">Sarajevo peace event: addressing the root causes of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/holistic-approach-to-peacebuilding-from-hubris-to-practicalities">The holistic approach to peacebuilding: From hubris to practicalities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/peacebuilding-and-nation-state-towards-nonviolent-world">Peacebuilding and the nation-state: towards a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/quest-for-gender-just-peace-from-impunity-to-accountability">The quest for gender-just peace: from impunity to accountability </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/no-woman%E2%80%99s-body-should-be-battlefield">No woman’s body should be a battlefield</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vanina-serra/peacebuilding-factor-that-makes-difference">Peacebuilding: The factor that makes a difference </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/shelley-anderson/vital-peace-constituencies">Vital peace constituencies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women%E2%80%99s-power-to-stop-war-rereading-virginia-woolf">Women&#039;s power to stop war: rereading Virginia Woolf</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/what-kind-of-feminism-does-war-provoke">What kind of feminism does war provoke?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/executed-what-were-principles-for-which-edith-cavell-lived-and-died">Executed: what were the principles for which Edith Cavell lived and died?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Serbia Civil society Conflict Equality Ideas Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women and power women and militarism patriarchy everyday feminism women's work young feminists Marta Correia Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:33:15 +0000 Marta Correia 86549 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Beyond armistice: women searching for an enduring peace https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/felicity-ruby-edith-ballantyne/beyond-armistice-women-searching-for-enduring-peace <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>When more than a thousand women from twelve belligerent and neutral countries met in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">congress</a> at The Hague in the midst of World War I, they failed in their mission to bring an end to the conflict. But they determined to come together again, whenever the war should end, to shadow the meeting of victors that would settle the terms of peace. This meeting&nbsp; eventually took place in June 1919, in Paris. However, because the German and Austrian women were not permitted to enter France, the men met in Versailles, while the women's congress was relocated to Zurich, Switzerland. The terms of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles">Treaty of Versailles</a> were announced while they were there, and these women were among the first in the world to react publicly to its vindictive terms. </p> <p>That Zurich gathering of 1919 is particularly instructive for the peace and women’s movements of today. It tackled a tough, perennial question facing all peace-seekers. What forward-moving policies, beyond and after mere 'armistice', can assure a peace that will endure? </p> <p>The women were scathing of the punitive terms that issued from Versailles, convinced that they sowed the seeds of yet more war - and they would prove right.&nbsp; As British delegate <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_Snowden">Ethel Snowden</a> put it, 'Germans have to pay five thousand million of British pounds, an incomprehensible sum which they cannot and ought not to pay…The capitalists and imperialists of the conquering countries are compelling German men and women to pay for their own miserable exploits.' And pay they did - long and heavily. The <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/29/germany-reparations-first-world-war">reparations payments</a> were envisaged to end in 1983, but&nbsp; it was not until October 2010 that the final payment was made. </p> <p>Letters home from the American women at Zurich in 1919 exclaim at the scarcely recognizable faces of their friends from the defeated countries, for many of them were painfully thin and gaunt. Their hunger derived not from the privations of war but now, one year into the 'peace', from the&nbsp; food blockade imposed by the Allies. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Hamilton">Alice Hamilton</a> wrote from the conference, 'Food is a subject that has never left my mind for a day since I came here.' </p> <p>The 1919 Zurich gathering is where the <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/about-us/history/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom</a> first took its name. You could say the League was born out of profound dismay at the unjust outcome of Versailles. A worn old volume is our one extant copy of the report of that conference. Holding it in our hands as we prepared this article, we saw anew just how central had been the women's preoccupation with economic issues. The report summarizes the speeches and debates among the women in the several committees into which they divided, each to consider the resolutions and material before the conference from three different points of view; the first was political, the second adopted the lens of the status of women, while the third took the perspective of education, social and ethical questions.&nbsp; </p> <p>Ethel Snowden presented the draft resolution of the Political Committee, seconded by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeannette_Rankin">Jeanette Rankin</a>, first-ever woman member of the US Congress. It stated, 'By the financial and economic proposals a hundred million people of this generation in the heart of Europe are condemned to poverty, disease and despair, which must result in the spread of hatred and anarchy (sic) in each nation'. </p> <p>So it was the practical issue of economic justice that preoccupied the women at Zurich. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Addams">Jane Addams</a> telegraphed President Wilson in Paris demanding that the food blockade be lifted.&nbsp; He cabled back that 'practical difficulties' and 'extremely uncompromising' attitudes in Versailles made him pessimistic.&nbsp; Notwithstanding, the women issued a statement on the duty of world citizenship being an end to the starvation suffered in Europe and elsewhere.&nbsp; They demanded that: </p> <p><em>all the resources of the world, food, raw materials, finance, transport, shall be organized immediately for the relief of the peoples from famine and pestilence, just in the same way that all the resources of the allied countries have been organized for the relief of the people from 'the yoke of militarism', so that in this way a great demonstration be given that nations can cooperate and organize to save life as efficiently as they can cooperate and organize to destroy life.</em> </p> <p>Soon after this resolution was adopted, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmeline_Pethick-Lawrence,_Baroness_Pethick-Lawrence">Emmeline Pethick Lawrence</a> explained that information about the real post-war economic conditions was unreliable, and there was no clear method to deal with returning the world to normal trade and regulations.&nbsp; She proposed a committee of WILPF experts on economic conditions and industrial dislocation be formed to collect information from governments, media, the Red Cross and other relief societies and actions taken by the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Economic_Council">Supreme Economic Council</a> established by the Paris Peace Conference. </p> <p>The women identified capitalism as the principal source of conflict between nations. Anticapitalist thinking was far from acceptable among the social class from which most of these women came. Yet, in a congress resolution in support of a League of Nations, it was the capitalist system, along with nationalist rivalry, that the women identified as the key challenge: </p> <p><em>abolition of the rule of any class, and the gradual transformation in all countries of the capitalistic system, by the introduction of equal opportunity for earning and education, so that cooperation in the life of individuals and peoples may take the place of competition, and mutual help replace combat.&nbsp; We affirm the rights of existence, free development and self-government for individuals and nations.</em> </p> <p>They called for free trade, the removal of all customs controls, complete freedom of communications, the adoption of a universal system of coinage, weights, measures and stamps and the just regulation of labour. </p> <p>Economic analysis was inserted into WILPFs Constitution of 1926, with a reference to, 'economic justice for all, without distinction of sex, race, class or creed.'&nbsp; This was adapted to a set of aims and principles that included, 'the establishment of a just economic and social order founded on meeting the needs of all peoples and not on profit and privilege.'&nbsp; This was later upgraded to, 'WILPF sees as its ultimate goal the establishment of an international economic order founded on the principles of meeting the needs of all people and not those of profit and privilege'. </p> <p>WILPF and other organizations working for peace have always found it relatively un-divisive to campaign against <em>militarism and militarization</em>. After all, it is hardly radical to do so. Ending the obscene waste of human and economic resources through military expenditure features in the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter5.shtml">UN Charter</a> itself (see Article 26) and - even though it is seldom acted upon - is central to the brief of the Security Council.&nbsp; Far more controversial than challenging the profits of military corporations and states' so-called 'defence' budgets, is pointing the finger at the system that produces, prioritizes and distributes economic resources towards these ends.&nbsp; </p> <p>When the USSR disintegrated and the Cold War ended, one celebrated author touted the notion of the ‘end of history’ - there would be no more strife over alternative modes of production. The idea was widely scoffed at, and did not take hold. Nonetheless, what has become widespread during the ensuing two and a half decades is the belief that 'there is no alternative’ to the system that won out over state communism - that we are stuck for all time with neoliberal global capitalism. The left everywhere has become disoriented. There have been encouraging surges of opposition to the policies of the IMF and World Bank, including the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Social_Forum">World Social Fora</a>. '<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street">Occupy</a>' has challenged the oligarchs on behalf of the 99%. But these movements are proving painfully slow to grow and cohere. </p> <p>This demoralizing sense of 'no alternative' has impacted on the thinking of the peace and women's movements too. Yet, we are resourced today with factual evidence of the economic oppression and inequality at the root of war, data of a scope and accuracy that the women of 1919 sorely lacked. The <a href="http://hdr.undp.org/en">UN’s Human Development Report</a> provides us annually with a clear picture of who profits and who lives in poverty.&nbsp; The recent scandal of the so-called Global Financial Crisis has brought to view hard evidence of the subsidy made available to the financial institutions and individuals responsible, while a hyper-capitalism is imposed upon populations through austerity measures that attack public services, and on labour standards and conditions hard won over decades. </p> <p>Today, given the palpable rivalry of corporate interests and their national backers for control of resources and markets, peace activism can scarcely afford to ignore the causality of capitalism in militarization and war.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/getting-to-peace-what-kind-of-movement">Getting to peace: what kind of movement?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts">An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/shelley-anderson/vital-peace-constituencies">Vital peace constituencies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. 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A divisive issue for women peacebuilders</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Conflict Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism feminism 50.50 newsletter Edith Ballantyne Felicity Ruby Mon, 01 Sep 2014 08:07:33 +0000 Felicity Ruby and Edith Ballantyne 85559 at https://www.opendemocracy.net An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Writing in <em>the Guardian</em>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/28/first-world-war-century-anniversary-peacemakers">Adam Hochschild</a> called World War One the ‘War of Unintended Consequences’. He’s right to do so.&nbsp; The most heavily armed nations are most likely to resort to war. Yet most, if not all wars result in upheaval and serious negative consequences for the societies and leaders that rely on military force, whether or not they are officially deemed to have won or lost. Think of recent wars from Vietnam to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, from the US/NATO war in Afghanistan to Iraq, and Israel’s devastating and ill-judged war on the Palestinians in Gaza. </p> <p>Hochschild also hailed peacemakers, such as Jane Addams, founder of the <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)</a>.&nbsp; As well as commemorating the peacemakers, the 100th anniversary of that War of Unintended Consequences is a good time to look at the last century’s humanitarian efforts to prohibit and eliminate some of the most inhumane types of weapons.&nbsp; Diplomatic and legal initiatives to resist some of the worst technological innovations that arms manufacturers offered to gung ho leaders have proved generally successful, and form an important context for today’s <a href="http://www.icanw.org/">campaigns to achieve a nuclear ban treaty</a>. </p> <p>In order to prevent wars as well as make peace, we have to continually work on disarmament and address the causes of conflict.&nbsp;&nbsp; Those who keep investing in armaments and prioritising the making and selling of weapons generally get rewarded with more wars.&nbsp; And quite often the inhumane weapons developed for their own use spread to others, fuelling unanticipated conflicts that come back to haunt their makers. </p> <p>From the 1914-18 'Great War of Unintended Consequences' to the 1939-45 Second World War, and beyond into the US-Soviet Cold War with its proxy wars, arms sales lead to proliferation and war.&nbsp;&nbsp; From low tech ‘small arms’ to high tech weapons of mass destruction – biological and chemical as well as nuclear weapons -&nbsp; weapons beget wars.&nbsp;&nbsp; What the arms industry markets as defensive weapons, such as the ‘air defence’ rockets that destroyed the MH17 passenger plane, or the US and Israeli ‘missile defence’ systems, never work as intended. </p> <p>On the contrary, they just lead to an “offence-defence spiral” whereby more sophisticated weapons are developed to get past the so-called defences, which are themselves often weapons systems, like rockets and ballistic missiles… so on ad infinitum, if we let the destructive game continue.&nbsp; The only winners in offence-defence spirals are the arms manufacturers who keep governments tied into their hugely expensive dependence on each new type of military illusion, marketed as the next necessity in a never-ending computer game.&nbsp; No-one is now protected as a civilian or non-combatant. The profits go to multinational warmongers, while short sighted and corrupt leaders whip up nationalist fervour and silence dissent. </p> <p>It is instructive to read the similarities between Imperial Britain’s defence of inhumane weapons in the past, and the arguments in favour of replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system now.&nbsp; For most of history it was assumed that the greater the barbarity, the more effective the weapon. But something new happened in the 1860s.&nbsp; In 1863 the <a href="http://www.icrc.org/eng/who-we-are/history/index.jsp">International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)</a> was founded in Switzerland to provide humanitarian support and protection for soldiers (and subsequently all victims) in armed conflicts.&nbsp; In 1864, while the American Civil War still raged, President Lincoln put forward the <a href="http://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/110?OpenDocument">Lieber Code</a>, which was the first known attempt to codify the laws of war.&nbsp; The 1868 St Petersburg Declaration then introduced the concept of <a href="http://www.unidir.org/files/publications/pdfs/viewing-nuclear-weapons-through-a-humanitarian-lens-en-601.pdf">humanitarian limits on weaponry</a>, stating that the “use of arms, projectiles, and material of a nature to cause unnecessary suffering is prohibited”<em>.</em> </p> <p>In 1899 and 1907, the<a href="http://www.cfr.org/international-law/hague-conventions-1899-1907/p9597"> Hague Conventions</a> went further, and outlawed dum dum bullets. More importantly, they enshrined some basic humanitarian principles for war, referring to ‘unacceptable’ weapons and practices. Nowadays many of us might question the concept of ‘acceptable’ weapons and practices in war, but for that time and place the Hague Conventions marked a significant development. They did not prevent the 'Great War of Unintended Consequences', however. </p> <p>Following the appalling suffering caused by chlorine and mustard gas to the young men in the trenches, the <a href="http://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/280?OpenDocument">1925 Geneva ‘Gas’ Protocol</a> prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons, at least in war. Its preamble stated: “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices, has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilised world.”&nbsp; While leaders in the Second World War by and large eschewed the use of such weapons against combatants, so keeping to the “in war” letter of the Geneva Protocol, chemical agents were used by the Nazis to murder millions of Jewish, homosexual, Roma and other civilians in the gas chambers. And Japanese military authorities also experimented with chemical and biological substances on civilian populations in China and Manchuria during the 1930s and 1940s.&nbsp; And, of course, 1945 saw the testing and use of a new kind of weapon – the atomic bomb – immeasurably more devastating in its chemical, biological and incendiary effects than the toxic and asphyxiating agents envisaged by the 1925 Gas Protocol. </p> <p>In 1949, as the Cold War took root, <a href="http://www.icrc.org/eng/war-and-law/treaties-customary-law/geneva-conventions/">the Geneva Conventions</a> wrote into international humanitarian law the principle that the right of parties to a conflict to choose methods or means of warfare “is not unlimited”.&nbsp; This was said as a growing number of countries began pursuing nuclear weapons programmes, but before the full horrors of all out nuclear war and ‘mutually assured destruction’ were recognised.&nbsp; Even so, the first resolution in the UN General Assembly, which was held in London in 1946, was all about how to deal with the “problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy”. </p> <p>Fifteen years later, <a href="http://nwp.ilpi.org/?p=1403">UN General Assembly resolution 1653 (1961)</a> declared that the use of nuclear weapons “would exceed even the scope of war and cause indiscriminate suffering and destruction to mankind”.&nbsp; The <a href="http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/pdf/Partial_Ban_Treaty.pdf">1963&nbsp; Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT)</a> didn’t manage to curb the US-Soviet nuclear arms race or ban all nuclear testing,&nbsp; but its preamble continued with the humanitarian theme, “desiring to put an end to the contamination of man’s environment by radioactive substances”.&nbsp; </p> <p>With disarmament seeming to be impossible in the Cold War, the best that could be achieved was the <a href="http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Treaties/npt.html">Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)</a> in 1968, which aimed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the five that had by that time already become ‘nuclear-weapon states’.&nbsp;&nbsp; Though US-Russian rivalry made it impossible to have more than a very weakly worded disarmament obligation, humanitarian concerns were clearly highlighted in the preamble: “Considering the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples...” </p> <p>In addressing only the spread of nuclear weapons, rather than prohibiting their use and deployment for everyone, the NPT ran contrary to treaty-making developments. </p> <p>By contrast, two important treaties banned biological and chemical weapons, in 1972 and 1993 respectively, going beyond the 1925 Geneva protocol which had prohibited only the <em>use </em>of biological and chemical weapons <em>in war</em>.&nbsp; These two disarmament treaties clearly prohibited the use, production and stockpiling of biological and chemical weapons, and required their total elimination. Cold war politics prevented implementation and verification requirements being incorporated formally into the <a href="http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Bio/">1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention</a>, whereas the <a href="http://www.opcw.org/chemical-weapons-convention/">1993 Chemical Weapons Convention</a> had verification provisions and timelines for current arsenals to be dismantled and eliminated.&nbsp; </p> <p>Two post cold war treaties reinvigorated and added to International Humanitarian Law. Both the <a href="http://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/580">1997 treaty</a> that banned anti-personnel landmines, and the <a href="http://www.clusterconvention.org/">2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions</a> were achieved by worldwide coalitions of governments and civil society.&nbsp; Both are regarded as successful examples of humanitarian-based disarmament.&nbsp; The weapons they prohibited had many more military uses and justifications than nuclear or other WMD, but they needed to be banned because of their inhumane, indiscriminate and unacceptably harmful effects on civilians, with disproportionate consequences for women and children. </p> <p>Though the multilateral negotiating processes went outside traditional UN forums – which were then, and&nbsp; continue to be, paralyzed by vetoes and blocking tactics wielded by one or more states with large weapons industries – both treaties were overwhelmingly adopted by the UN General Assembly, and have entered into force, with more governments signing up every year since.&nbsp; Importantly,&nbsp; among the small number of countries that have remained outside those humanitarian disarmament treaties, almost all – including the United States – are constrained to fit in with most if not all their provisions.&nbsp; The UK government opposed both treaties when they were proposed,&nbsp; but for political reasons felt the need to join the negotiations, and then rushed to be among the first to sign and ratify them. </p> <p>The point about these treaties - and the <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/publications-and-research/publications/8654-a-treaty-banning-nuclear-weapons">Nuclear Ban Treaty</a> that is advocated by a growing number of governments, as well as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), with over 390 partners in 93 countries -&nbsp; is that they recognise that the elimination of weapons takes place after they are banned, not the other way around. For legal and technical reasons, the physical dismantlement and elimination of national arsenals must generally be undertaken by the countries that have them. Banning weapons is a diplomatic, political and security right of all nations. International treaties that prohibit inhumane weapons may not get all the weapons possessors on board early on, but they are crucially important in creating incentives as well as legal and political conditions to promote and accelerate disarmament. </p> <p>Today’s humanitarian initiatives are proving quicker and more effective than the cold war arms control approaches because they ride the wave of history in which human needs and security are becoming more important than past considerations such as national status and military-industrial interests.&nbsp; Humanitarian disarmament advocates acknowledge that the producers and countries that make, deploy and use these weapons believe they have economic, political or military interests at stake. But they refuse to privilege these industrial and nationalist interests above the needs and security interests of civilians and nations that do not make, deploy, or use the most inhumane weapons. </p> <p>So as we commemorate the hideous mistakes and carnage of the Great War of Unintended Consequences that began a hundred years ago today, let’s learn the salient lessons, and listen with far greater attention to promoters of disarmament, nonviolent resolution of conflict and makers of peace.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-point-of-no-return">Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/uk-governments-stand-against-humanitarian-disarmament">The UK government&#039;s stand against humanitarian disarmament </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/to-eliminate-wmd-we-need-to-disarm-patriarchy">To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/north-korea-and-trident-challenging-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime">North Korea and Trident: challenging the nuclear non-proliferation regime </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/fetishists-of-nuclear-power-projection-have-had-their-day">The fetishists of nuclear power projection have had their day</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/standing-on-threshold-banning-nuclear-weapons">Standing on the threshold: banning nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-fukushima-to-hinkley-point">From Fukushima to Hinkley Point</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/is-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime-fit-for-purpose">Is the nuclear non-proliferation regime fit for purpose? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nato-fiddling-with-nuclear-bombs-while-planet-burns">NATO: fiddling with nuclear bombs while the planet burns</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-challenging-nuclear-powers-fiefdom">NPT: challenging the nuclear powers&#039; fiefdom</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-nonproliferation-in-time-warp">Nuclear non-proliferation in a time warp</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-toothless-in-face-of-real-world-dangers">NPT: toothless in the face of real world dangers </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-this-time-lip-service-will-not-be-enough">Banning nuclear weapons: this time lip service will not be enough</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Mon, 04 Aug 2014 08:07:07 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 84910 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Executed: what were the principles for which Edith Cavell lived and died? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/executed-what-were-principles-for-which-edith-cavell-lived-and-died <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Nurse Edith Cavell was shot by a German firing squad in 1915. The words '<em>For King and Country'</em> are inscribed on her monument in London, but so too are her own words, '<em>Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone'. </em>Cynthia Cockburn explores this contradiction. &nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/EdithReduced.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/EdithReduced.jpg" alt="Women hold signs reading: Women in Black against miliarism and war & Only justice for palestinians can bring peace for Israelis" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women in Black against War, holding their weekly vigil around the statue of Edith Cavell in London</span></span></span>Today, 4 August 2014, the media will be consumed by commemorations of the entry of Britain into the First World War. A service will be held tonight in Westminster Abbey, the last candle snuffed out at 11 pm, the very moment the government declared war on Germany. During the last few months, as this date approached, some of us have feared the memorialising of the First World War might feature triumphalism. That fear has proved unfounded. The crude facts of the war itself, overwhelming in their horror, have inhibited glorification. The dominant mood in authoritative speeches and in the media has rather been one of respect for the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/speech-at-imperial-war-museum-on-first-world-war-centenary-plans">'courage, toil and sacrifice'</a> those who paid the price. Nonetheless, what the memorialisation has become a platform for is <em>nationalism.</em> More subtle, less inflammatory - but nonetheless dangerous. </p> <p>Consider what the dead are represented as having bought with the price they paid. In the hindsight of the memorialisers, the war was fought for democracy and freedom. David Cameron, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/reopening-of-the-imperial-war-museum-david-camerons-speech">reopening</a> the refurbished Imperial War Museum on 17 July, deplored that 'too many have cast it as a pointless war'. He reminded his audience that it had been necessary 'to prevent the domination of Europe by one power: to defend the right of a small country - Belgium - to exist'. </p> <p>Though it is the German attack on Belgium that is signalled by the date August 4, on the larger scale the war was fought for world dominance between rival empires. On the one hand the British had authority over one-fifth of the world's land-mass and one-quarter of its people. On the other the Austro-Hungarian empire held sway over large expanses of eastern and southern Europe, and the German Reich had gained colonies in the 19th century scramble for Africa. Also in play on the world stage were the Russian and the Ottoman Empires. The rivalry was also between capitalist structures. The late 19th and early 20th centuries had seen the growth of mega-corporations such as US Steel, J.P.Morgan, Siemens and AEG competing for domination of resources and markets. A significant source of profits was states' massive expenditure on armaments in the years preceding the war. </p> <p>A certain sensitivity to anti-colonial sentiment today seems to have impeded a revival of pride in the victorious British empire that narrowly defeated its rivals in the 1914-18 conflict. Nonetheless, what is being widely expressed in the commemorative discourse is pride in 'nation'. David Cameron in his <span><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/speech-at-imperial-war-museum-on-first-world-war-centenary-plans">speech</a> </span>at the Imperial War Museum, announcing an expenditure of £50 million to 'make this centenary a truly national moment'&nbsp; said 'I want a commemoration that captures our national spirit' in a manner similar to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. </p><p>However, today's peace movements, including <a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/">Women in Black</a> against War to which I belong, are saying that this is no time for nationalism. The cost of that terrible war was paid by people of every colour and every name on every continent. The punitive peace terms imposed by the victors led to a surge of nationalism in Germany and Italy that gave rise to the Second World War. The defeated Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires were dismembered into a multitude of nation states. Nationalism has been our nemesis ever since. It continues to put democracy, inclusion and peace beyond reach. </p><p>Women in Black, an international network, has active groups in many cities of the world. Every Wednesday evening our London group is accustomed to gather at a spot near St. Martin in the Fields Church, near Trafalgar Square, and stand for one hour in silent vigil for peace with justice. </p> <p>Of some poignancy, particularly on this date of August 4, is the site of our vigils: we stand around the plinth of the memorial to <a href="http://www.edithcavell.org.uk/">Edith Cavell</a>, a nurse commemorated for having been tried for treason by the German military authorities during the First World War, and executed by firing squad. As I stand there, my shoulders to the cold stone of the monument, I find myself puzzling over two facts that seem to me in stark contradiction. Here is Edith Cavell, heroised by the British authorities for having forfeited her own life to save the lives of British soldiers from the enemy. Indeed inscribed above her head on the monument are the words <em>For King and Country</em>. Yet - what we know of Edith Cavell suggests a very different truth. The reality is that she defied British war policy and succoured the enemy. What's going on here? </p> <p>In 1914, Edith Cavell, then in her late forties, was a nurse in Brussels. She had been practising nursing in Belgium for seven years already, and was by now a successful professional, publishing a nursing journal, <em>L'Infirmière</em>, and running a clinic with training programmes for nurses who would work in Belgian hospitals, schools and kindergartens. During July that year she <a href="http://primaryfacts.com/2780/edith-cavell-facts-and-information/">travelled home to Norwich</a> for a holiday with her widowed mother. </p> <p>Europe was under growing threat of war in these summer months. Everyone could see it coming. Austria-Hungary and Serbia were in conflict by late July. Germany demanded passage through neutral Belgium to stage an invasion of France. Belgium refused, re-asserting its neutrality, and on 31 July mobilized its defence forces. </p> <p>Alert to the news, back home in Norfolk, Edith Cavell packed her bags to go back to her job. She <a href="http://www.edithcavell.org.uk/">stated,</a> 'At a time like this I am more needed than ever'. Deaf to the argument of friends and family, and clearly untouched by any sense of loyalty to 'her' nation, she returned to Brussels on 3 August, the day that Germany declared war on France. The following day, 4 August, they declared war on Belgium, and Britain in turn declared war on the German Empire. That was the day Edith Cavell unpacked her holiday clothes, put on her nurse's uniform and quietly renewed her work in a Belgian clinic. </p> <p>As she must have foreseen, within two weeks the Belgian government had fallen and abandoned Brussels to the German forces. Her clinic became a Red Cross facility. She cared without distinction for all who needed nursing care - Belgians, Germans of the occupying forces, and others. In the autumn, the 'others' began to include some injured British soldiers and, as well as nursing them clandestinely, she put them in touch with Belgian activists organizing an escape route from the occupied country. When this was discovered by the German authorities Cavell was arrested, tried for treason and, on 15 October 1915, after some weeks in prison, executed by firing squad. </p> <p>The British government recognized this incident as a propaganda windfall. Wellington House, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Cavell">British War Propaganda Bureau</a>, set about honouring Edith Cavell as an English patriot, martyred by the national enemy. Cavell's remains were returned to Britain and a&nbsp;<a title="State funeral" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_funeral">state funeral</a>&nbsp;held at&nbsp;<a title="Westminster Abbey" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Abbey">Westminster Abbey</a>. The authorities wished to bury her there, but the family refused, and took her coffin home to the village of <a href="http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/remembering_the_courage_of_norfolk_s_edith_cavell_during_the_first_world_war_1_3705238">Swardeston</a>, in Norfolk, where her father had been vicar. Many years later, Rev Phillip McFadyen, a subsequent vicar of Swardeston, would write of the manipulative way Cavell's execution had 'been used to sway neutral opinion against Germany and eventually helped to bring the USA into the war'. He <a href="http://www.edithcavell.org.uk/">reports</a> that propaganda around her death caused voluntary military enlistment to double for eight weeks after it was announced.&nbsp; </p> <p>What would Edith Cavell herself have made of all this? Curiously, on her statue in London, in contradiction to that phrase <em>For King and Country</em> inscribed above her head, her own words, with very different import, appear on the plinth beneath her feet. They were spoken to a chaplain the night before her execution: <em>Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.</em> Cavell is clearly referring here, not to her assistance to British escapees but to the fact that she nursed German war-injured. The statement appears to be a sharp rebuff to the British government, who nonetheless paid for the stone on which it is carved. </p> <p>An apocryphal story has it that <a href="http://www.ppu.org.uk/e_publications/sheppard.html">Dick Sheppard</a>, the well-respected pacifist Anglican priest, vicar of St.Martin in the Fields, intervened to get Cavell's words carved there. Coming out of his vicarage one day, at 6 St.Martin's Place, just a few yards from the site at which the monument was being erected, he peered beneath the tarpaulin covering the half-finished statue. Shocked to see the inscription <em>For King and Country</em>, he protested to the authorities that they betrayed Cavell's pacifist and humanitarian values, and insisted that her own words be added. </p> <p>Patriarchy and nationalism are deeply intertwined in this story. In the exploitation of Edith Cavell for 'England' a central trope was her womanhood. She was portrayed, like innocent Belgium, as the victim of a rapacious monster. Interestingly, the German Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Alfred Zimmermann, made the following statement about Cavell to the press on behalf of the German government. </p> <p>It was a pity that Miss Cavell had to be executed, but it was necessary. She was judged justly…It is undoubtedly a terrible thing that the woman has been executed, but consider what would happen to a State, particularly in war, if it left crimes aimed at the safety of its armies to go unpunished because committed by women. </p><p>The period following the First World War was one of nation-making for a new world order. It was simultaneously a <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/reconstructing-patriarchy-after-the-great-war-erika-kuhlman/?k=9780230602816">reaffirmation of patriarchy</a>. It is symptomatic that the Versailles Treaty of 1919 did not make the vote for women a condition of the peace. Furthermore, it denied women the right to their own national identity, regardless of that of their husband: fifteen European nations introduced new legislation annulling a woman's nationality on marriage to a foreigner. </p> <p>Standing around Edith Cavell's statue this week we shall be commemorating not her 'patriotism', but her professionalism as a nurse and her courageous refusal, in sailing back to her clinic in Belgium, to stick with her 'side' in the conflict of masculine nations. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/getting-to-peace-what-kind-of-movement">Getting to peace: what kind of movement?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/shelley-anderson/vital-peace-constituencies">Vital peace constituencies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heidi-meinzolt/sarajevo-peace-event-addressing-root-causes-of-war-0">Sarajevo peace event: addressing the root causes of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marie-sandell/is-war-ever-justifiable-divisive-issue-for-women-peacebuilders">Is war ever justifiable? 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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</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/whiteFeather-ArnoldBennettColliersWeekly.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/whiteFeather-ArnoldBennettColliersWeekly.jpg" alt="Drawing of a woman 'jabbing a white feather' into a man's waistcoat with two women looking on." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image from 'The White Feather: A Sketch of English Recruiting' by Arnold Bennett, Collier’s Weekly 1914</span></span></span>In 1914 and '15, notorious bands of women roamed the cities of England giving white feathers of cowardice to men wearing civilian clothes. Why would so-called 'white feather girls' wish to humiliate men not in uniform? This question has puzzled feminists for 100 years, since the first feathers of World War I&nbsp; were pinned to the lapels and hatbands of young men by disdainful flappers wishing them to enlist in the army. The 'White Feather Brigade'&nbsp; was established in Folkstone by Admiral Charles Penrose Fitzgerald, an ardent war-supporter who wished to see Britain institute mandatory military service. His idea spread through the country with astonishing rapidity. As young women combed beaches, high streets, trams, theaters, and places of resort, pinning tiny <span><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/176011">white feathers</a> </span>&nbsp;to men casually strolling or socializing with their friends, they sent shock waves through society.&nbsp; Not only were those men pinned with the mocking 'Order of the White Feather'&nbsp; profoundly humiliated, but commentators began to decry the immodesty of forward young women who had the audacity to insult perfect strangers and tell men what to do. Remarkably, <span>the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMCOzuE1Lvo;%20http://theantifeminist.com/white-feathers-during-world-war-ii-caused-the-suicides-of-two-teenage-boys/">recollections</a> </span>of male victims suggest that they continued to feel this stain upon their honor well into old age. Why would women use their sexual power to shame men into the army when their pacifist sisters were meeting, organizing, and in 1915, braving great danger to travel to The Hague, with precisely the opposite aim: to stop the war?</p> <p>The Order of the White Feather raises interesting questions about women’s response to the Great War. For pacifist feminists, ranging from <span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Pankhurst">Sylvia Pankhurst</a></span> to <a href="http://www.genderandeducation.com/issues/peace-education-and-virginia-woolf/">Virginia Woolf</a>, as well as the many rank and file members of the <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom</a>, the obvious feminist position on war was to be against it. Yet, to fully understand the dynamics behind the white feather campaign, we need to recognize the range of both feminist and feminine response to war and to examine why those militarist women who supported the conflict might have chosen the path they did. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/389px-1915_Women_of_Britain,_say_Go!.jpg" alt="Woman and her two children gaze from a window at soldiers marching to war. Text says: Women of Britain say 'Go!'" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Poster issued in 1915 by the British Parliamentary Recruiting Committee</span></span></span>The Great War split the feminist movement with seismic violence. Despite a multiplicity of philosophical differences among pre-war suffragists, most had been united in their opposition to war. Yet, in 1915, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) – Britain’s largest suffrage organization – expelled its pacifist members as <a href="http://www.biographyonline.net/politicians/uk/millicent-fawcett.html">Millicent Fawcett</a><span> </span>&nbsp;admonished her followers to 'show ourselves worthy of citizenship, whether our claim to it be recognized or not.'&nbsp; Meanwhile, the <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09612025.2013.820597#.U49IZ3Z258E">Women’s Social and Political Union</a> (WSPU) turned itself into a junta of pro-war militants, distinguished by an enthusiasm for war that rivalled the radical right. Indeed, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_feather">confluence</a> between the ideology of the WSPU and the actions of the white feather girls was so striking that Christabel Pankhurst’s pacifist sister, Sylvia, even surmised that the two groups were one and the same. While the extraordinary war enthusiasm of both the WSPU and the white feather girls has made them <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Birds-Feather-Maisie-Dobbs-Book/dp/0143035304">objects</a> of peculiar, and often horrified, curiosity, uncovering the sources of their radical nationalism offers insight into the pro-war sentiments of many more moderate women who, during World War I, repudiated the pacifist cause. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/312px-Remember_Belgium.jpg" alt="German soldier with Kaiser mustache drags away a girl. Text says: "Remember Belgium. Buy Bonds. Fourth Liberty Loan."" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>World War I, US propaganda poster</span></span></span>Why would feminists split over the question of peace, a value that had once stood at the heart of the suffrage movement? First, the representation of the war itself was carefully designed to appeal to women. The brutal German <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_invasion_of_Belgium">invasion</a> of Belgium&nbsp; in August 1914 was immediately characterized as a 'rape', and graphic <a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/2171507;%20http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Belgium#mediaviewer/File:Remember_Belgium.jpg; h">images of sexual assault</a><span>&nbsp; </span>&nbsp;and the torture of women and children began to pour out of the occupied territories, gaining primacy as Britain’s ostensible reason for entering the war. Like news of mass rape in Darfur, Taliban femicide, or the <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/5050/yifat-susskind/what-we-owe-nigeria%E2%80%99s-kidnapped-schoolgirls">kidnapping</a> of Nigerian School girls, the 'Rape of Belgium' brought forth evocative images of women in danger and electrified world opinion in favor of a war with complex causes that were difficult for feminists to oppose. </p> <p>As pacifism grew in power after the war, <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1478-0542.2011.00798.x/abstract">atrocity stories</a> were increasingly cast into doubt. If accounts of German 'barbarism' had little basis in reality, the slaughter of millions of idealistic young men appeared catastrophic and senseless. While <a href="http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/memoryofwar/the-rape-of-belgium-revisited/">new scholarship</a> suggests that the Germans terrorized invaded populations and precipitated a refugee crisis of enormous magnitude, the invention of '<a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1478-0542.2011.00798.x/abstract">propaganda</a>' as a sociological concept in the 1930s nevertheless fostered the growing reputation of World War I as a futile waste of life.&nbsp; If we consider that the feminist militarists of World War I believed what they read in the press, and that more of it was true than we once believed, their nationalism becomes more comprehensible. For many feminists who supported the Government war effort, the enemy was not the British military state, but the militarized masculinity of a rapacious German Army. </p> <p>The war also opened up a host of opportunities for women. The <span>Pankhursts </span>sponsored <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&amp;dat=19150717&amp;id=kgtQAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=DwoEAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=5333,5404059">gigantic parades</a><span> </span>demanding female admittance to union jobs, while engaging in a theatrical <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Blood-Our-Sons-Renegotiation/dp/1403967105">strike-breaking campaign</a> in the North, where they argued that women workers would never 'down tools'. Similarly, the NUWSS raised and equipped <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Blood-Our-Sons-Renegotiation/dp/1403967105.;%20http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Union_of_Women%27s_Suffrage_Societies;%20%20http://books.google.com/books?id=U6nmAgAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PA51&amp;lpg=PA51&amp;dq=nuwss+first+world+war+hospital+u">women’s ambulance corps</a> and hospital units, many of which were shipped to the front in an enduring spectacle of women’s bravery, patriotism, and capacity to aid in righteous war. As <span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radclyffe_Hall">Radclyffe Hall’s</a></span> fictional Stephen Gordon recognized, for many 'odd' women, competent, strong, and in Stephen’s case lesbian, the war finally offered a sense of true purposefulness. </p> <p>Shrewd feminists like Pankhurst and Fawcett realized that patriotic sacrifice could greatly enhance women’s claim to citizenship as well.&nbsp; When the issue of franchise reform reemerged in 1916, the case for women’s suffrage was far more difficult to oppose.&nbsp; Not only were women loyally supporting the war effort, making munitions, and doing jobs formerly done by enfranchised men, but many were risking their lives as doctors, nurses, and ambulance drivers at the front.&nbsp; As press campaigns pilloried un-enlisted 'shirkers', they simultaneously praised women for their valiant contributions.&nbsp; Indeed, the <span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representation_of_the_People_Act_1918;%20http://archive.org/stream/representationof00frasrich/representationof00frasrich_djvu.txt">Representation of the People Bill</a> </span>of 1918 not only re-enfranchised soldiers, but included female householders over thirty, under aged veterans, and military nurses, while disenfranchising conscientious objectors for seven years. Patriotism, rather than sex, was the new qualification for the vote. </p> <p>Surely, however, such arguments meant little to the bands of teenage girls hopping cheekily onto buses and trams to offer white feathers. That many of them were slapped, pinched, knocked down or – most mortifyingly of all – confronted with a handless stump or footless leg, attached to a disabled veteran who had inadvertently been given a feather, should surely have dissuaded them from this irritating hobby.&nbsp; Why then did they continue to give out white feathers, even after the adoption of conscription in 1916? For some, the act was clearly a gesture of liberation and a moment of excitement and fun. One veteran claimed that he would go to the theatre district in the hope of getting a feather and then make off with the 'feather girl' once he had revealed he was a soldier. Stories in women’s magazines played on this trope, offering <span><a href="http://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/arnlod-bennetts-the-white-feather/">fictional tales of white feather girls</a> </span>&nbsp;whose “pluck” brought them into the arms of a heroic VC.&nbsp; As music hall stars sang 'We don’t want to lose you but we think you ought to go', and posters like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1915_Women_of_Britain,_say_Go!.jpg;">'Women of Britain, SAY GO!</a>' shouted from hoardings, daring girls felt increasingly entitled to echo these themes to the flesh-and-blood men lingering in their midst. </p> <p>If some women were looking for a bit of fun as they policed the boundaries of acceptable masculine behavior, others were clearly just angry at those men who refused to serve.&nbsp; The contempt many white feather-givers felt for the un-enlisted can be read in the <span><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2631822/What-chicken-The-shameful-story-boy-aged-TEN-handed-white-feather-labelled-coward-First-World-War.html;%20https://wolverhamptonswar.wordpress.com/tag/express-and-star/">anonymous letters</a></span>&nbsp; that were often enclosed with a feather sent through the mail.&nbsp; A Bath railway porter was invited by a girl scout troop to come join them, as washer up; a conscientious objector seeking exemption was called a 'trench dodger' and a 'Chicken heart', while an underage boy was sent a feather and told to wear 'a frilly white dress'.&nbsp; For women, some of whom had probably been subject to harassment or hoots from men as they travelled on trams or walked home from work, the opportunity to harass and shame men in return must have been somewhat tempting. </p> <p>Sadly, women had more to gain from supporting the war than from opposing it.&nbsp; As feminist pacifists were pilloried as 'cranks', and Sylvia Pankhurst found herself pelted with paint and rotten fruit by angry soldiers who objected to her peace meetings, militarists like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmeline_Pankhurst">Emmeline</a> and Christabel Pankhurst became darlings of the conservative press and even received the coupon of coalition endorsement when Christabel stood for Parliament in the famous <span><a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09612025.2013.820597#.U49d9XZ258E">Khaki Election of 1918</a></span>. Partial though the suffrage victory was, it opened the door to an <span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representation_of_the_People_%28Equal_Franchise%29_Act_1928">equal franchise</a></span> ten years later, and temporarily eclipsed the achievements of those women who had striven for peace.</p> <p>As the guns quieted in November 1918, and the war receded into a nightmarish memory for those who served, the price of the dead hardly seemed worth the chimerical victory consolidated at <span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles">Versailles</a></span>. Haunted by the apparent futility of the Great War, we as feminists have understandably celebrated our pacifist sisters while conveniently forgetting the militant history of those feminist war-supporters who helped force open the door of the parliamentary vote.&nbsp; Only if we understand them too – with their calculation, their boldness and their ability to win the approval of powerful men -- will we recognize the allure of right wing causes for Conservative women who wish to share political power without challenging the social values that have helped bring about war.&nbsp; Feminist pacifists in western democracies may have an even greater challenge than striving for gender equality: we must make the cause of permanent peace more desirable than the siren-call of popular nationalism, which has so long led both men and women into tragic events like the now ironically remembered, “War to End all Wars.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marie-sandell/is-war-ever-justifiable-divisive-issue-for-women-peacebuilders">Is war ever justifiable? A divisive issue for women peacebuilders</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heidi-meinzolt/sarajevo-peace-event-addressing-root-causes-of-war-0">Sarajevo peace event: addressing the root causes of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/holistic-approach-to-peacebuilding-from-hubris-to-practicalities">The holistic approach to peacebuilding: From hubris to practicalities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/peacework-women-in-action-across-europe">Peacework: women in action across Europe </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Nicoletta F. Gullace Mon, 30 Jun 2014 07:27:03 +0000 Nicoletta F. Gullace 84068 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sarajevo peace event: addressing the root causes of war https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heidi-meinzolt/sarajevo-peace-event-addressing-root-causes-of-war-0 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The recent international <a href="http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/">Peace Event</a> 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</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Sarajevo2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Sarajevo2.jpg" alt="Photo of the street corner in Sarajevo where Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"The street corner that started the 20th century. 1914 - 1918"</span></span></span>Sarajevo hosted the <a href="http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/">Peace Event</a>, 6-9 June, which brought together around 900 people from 32 countries. Weighing in for the experienced generation were the likes of <a href="http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/">Mayors for Peace</a> and <a href="http://www.paxchristi.net/">Pax Christi</a>, while at the youthful end of the spectrum many international young people, including young Bosnians, were drawn by a creative and dynamic youth camp. The Peace Event was a statement that 'peace is possible'. In scores of workshops and round-tables ideas were exchanged on alternatives to militarism, violence and war. </p><p><strong>Memories of recent and historic wars</strong><strong></strong></p><p>In my journey to Sarajevo from Germany I crossed the Bosnian border on a brilliant morning, to be immediately confronted by the effects of the disastrous floods that only two weeks earlier had destroyed homes, gardens and streets. Nobody had foreseen this disaster, and many, unable to escape the rising waters in time, lost their lives. Now, as we followed the course of a river once again returned to a gentle flow down a romantic green valley, we learned how local communities had helped each other during this emergency, in a way that seemed to attest to a degree of reconciliation between the war-torn communities of Bosnia-Herzegovina. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Sarajevo1_0.jpg" alt="Skyline of village" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Yet memories of the Bosnian war of the nineteen-nineties were evoked continually as we passed through one village and town after another on the way to Sarajevo. The scars from the conflict are still surprisingly visible. We could only imagine the deeper wounds that must remain in the hearts and souls of the people here. It is still difficult to really understand, despite reading and listening to many analyses and narratives, how this devastating war of ethnic aggression could have come about in the heart of Europe at the end of the 20th century. During our journey to Sarajevo we were obliged to return over and again to the issue of ethnicity. Our driver pointed to three ruined houses standing on the hill beside the road: 'Serbian houses' he explained. That woman coming home from the supermarket carrying bread and tomatoes - who was she? &nbsp;Does the headscarf tell us anything? Who are her neighbours - are they former enemies? Is this area we are passing through still in a war-zone? As we travelled we were warned about land mines remaining from the conflict, some now exposed by the floods. Bosnian's told us stories of war criminals, either unpunished or having served brief sentences, at home in their former communities, so that some victims are obliged to continue living next door to their violators. We heard of the economic stress that has provoked significant social and political street protests in Bosnia recently. </p> <p>Arriving in Sarajevo, we parked behind the municipal museum at the very street corner where the the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand and his wife were murdered. The museum announces a photo exhibition of World War I. These images recall the millions of victims across the continent - and the inability of the many who saw war approaching to forestall it. They have to be mentally and emotionally processed in parallel with those in a nearby art gallery that recall the genocide in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-yugoslavia/srebrenica_2651.jsp">Srebrenica</a> just short of a century later, and the failure of the international community to prevent that. </p> <p>Looking now at the wonderful green mountains surrounding Sarajevo and the lively partying-zone in the city centre, a place for tourists now, it was an effort to re-evoke the two years of Serbian siege, the sniper attacks, the starvation of the city's population. But the extraordinary number of cemeteries in and around the city, with deaths recorded from the years 1992-4, serve as a continual reminder. </p> <p><strong>The Peace Event</strong><strong></strong></p> <p>The Peace Event opened with a strong video message from <a href="http://www.chomsky.info/">Noam Chomsky</a>: 'World War I should have been a lesson!', he said. It closed with a very personal and wise contribution by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-feffer/serbias-future-back-to-th_b_2251188.html">Sonia Biserko</a>, Serbian author and human rights activist, on the root causes of war. She made strong reference to the many continuing social and political problems in the Balkans, the undiminished nationalisms and xenophobia, and the responsibility they pose for the international community. South African <a href="http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/bishop/bdowk.html">Bishop Kevin Dowling</a>, of Pax Christi, quoted Nelson Mandela's <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Walk_to_Freedom">Long Walk to Freedom</a></em><em>. </em>There is still a long walk to peace he said, 'but we carry in our hearts the cries of the oppressed and the oppressor that must be answered'. During the Peace Event's many sessions we heard numerous concrete proposals for shared campaigns, such as 'Disarmament for Development' <a href="http://www.ipb.org/">(International Peace Bureau</a>) and 'You Get What You Pay For', an initiative of the <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.ch/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom</a> (WILPF) and were advised of upcoming events, such as the <a href="http://www.no-to-nato.org/">No-to-Nato</a> counter-summit in Cardiff in September, and the <a href="http://www.alternatives.ca/en/content/story/world-social-forum-going-back-tunis-2015">World Social Forum</a> in Tunis 2015. These were a source of optimism, giving a sense of the strength of the contemporary peace movement. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Sarajevo3.jpg" alt="People seated in a full conference room." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>WILPF offered a workshop, led by Helen Kay from Scotland, Tatjana Kurtiqui from Albania, Nela Porobic from Bosnia, Ite van Dijk from the Netherlands and Irmgard Hofer and myself from Germany. Participants were invited to take a closer look at the more than 1200 courageous women who had come together in 1915 at the height of WW1 in an <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">International Congress in The Hague</a>, and who are so often neglected by official history. Helen quoted the words of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aletta_Jacobs">Aletta Jacobs</a> at the opening of that congress. 'In these dreadful times in which so much hate has been spread among different nations, the women have to show that we retain our solidarity and that we are able to maintain our mutual friendship'. &nbsp;She recalled the women's resistence to war propaganda, their clear-minded and very modern analysis of the root causes of war, such as the accumulation of arms, the pursuit of rival economic interests and the absence of international arbitration. She reminded us of the personal risk they had been taking, and of their twenty resolutions to stop the war in its tracks and avoid all future wars. She said, 'they have a vibrance that continues to resonate today'. The women who after the congress were delegated to carry its demands for a peace process to many of the leaders of both belligerent and non-belligerent countries, could be an inspiration for WILPF's return to The Hague for their <a href="http://wilpfact.wordpress.com/tag/centenary-of-wilpf/">centenary congress</a> in April 1915. </p><p>In my contribution to WILPF's workshop I chose, in contrast to that historical theme, to look to the future. I spoke of the tasks foreseen in our draft centenary Manifesto that we believe will face WILPF in coming decades. The 21st century presents new challenges that call for an ever stronger investment by women in peace. I spoke of the militaristic propaganda supporting casino banking, predatory capitalism and geo-strategic interests in the name of competition for resources. I spoke of growing corruption and unjust distribution, of practices of exclusion, and of environmental depredation. Food sovereignty, access to clean water - in short <a href="http://www.humansecurityinitiative.org/definition-human-security">'human security'</a> - are vital interests that women will need to defend. It is clear we need a profound political shift away from military responses to crisis and towards the non-violent transformation of conflicts. Above all we must ensure the equal participation of women in negotiation processes and mediation. Nela illustrated this shift by speaking of the recent unprecedented and encouraging peace dialogue WILPF had organized recently, right here in Sarajevo, between <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/plotting-for-woman-shaped-peace-syrian-and-bosnian-women-confer">Bosnian and Syrian women</a>. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Sarajevo4.jpg" alt="Seven women in a group photo" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>Women in War – an important side event</strong></p> <p>There was also a significant women's seminar offered as a 'side event' to the main Peace Event in Sarajevo. It was organized by the academic network <a href="http://womeninwar.org/wordpress/">'Women in War'</a>, based in Paris and with a branch in Sarajevo, devoted to the study of gender in armed conflict. Led by WiW's <a href="http://carolmann.net/wordpress/">Carol Mann</a>, thirty women experts from all over the world analysed war and genocide through a gender lens, linking scientific research to the grounded experiences of survivors, victims and war-resisters. </p><p>For example, Carol Mann spoke of how, during the siege of Sarajevo from 1992-4, women had developed a culture of survival and sustained an imagining of a peaceful future. She spoke of Dobrinja, a district of the city that sustained heavy attacks. It was, she said, 'a middle-class environment where ethnicity did not exist before'. During the war it was populated mainly by women and children. The women had organized hospitals, laundries and civil defence. They had shared resources, re-discovered old techniques of food conservation and written a cookbook which they subsequently presented to UNPROFOR. They continued to dress well 'like in Paris', she said, and even 'wore high heels even in the sights of the snipers'. Though schools were closed, adults had gathered children for classes beneath protective staircases. 'Such women are the unknown heroes in all wars!', she said.</p><p>We left Sarajevo after the event inspired and encouraged, but in no doubt that there is indeed still a 'long way to peace' but know that, at the same time, 'peace is the way'. Now we are preparing for a continuation of these debates at the forthcoming Women's International League for Peace and Freedom centenary congress in The Hague next April.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/plotting-for-woman-shaped-peace-syrian-and-bosnian-women-confer">Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/listen-to-bosnias-plenums">Listen to Bosnia&#039;s plenums</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-slavenka-drakulic/slavenka-drakuli%C4%87-violence-memory-and-nation">Slavenka Drakulić: violence, memory, and the nation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jasmin-mujanovi%C4%87-heather-mcrobie/evolution-of-bosnia%E2%80%99s-protest-movement-interview-with-jasmin-m">The evolution of Bosnia’s protest movement: an interview with Jasmin Mujanović</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sumeja-tulic/bosnia-and-universal-theme-of-police-brutality">Bosnia and the universal theme of police brutality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jasmin-mujanovi%C4%87/elections-and-ethnic-cleansing-in-bosniaherzegovina">Elections and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sumeja-tulic/breaking-up-with-lame-protests-in-bosnia">Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hopkins/we-are-hungry-in-three-languages-citizens-protest-in-bosnia">&quot;We are hungry in three languages&quot;: citizens protest in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Bosnia and Herzegovina Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Heidi Meinzolt Mon, 30 Jun 2014 07:10:27 +0000 Heidi Meinzolt 84060 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Stopping sexual violence in conflict: gender politics in foreign policy https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz/stopping-sexual-violence-in-conflict-gender-politics-in-foreign-policy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Consistent promotion of gender equality has to drive foreign, security and development policy if sexual violence in conflict is to be stopped.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;Last week, what was billed as the world’s largest <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/sexual-violence-in-conflict">summit</a> on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, co-hosted by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Angelina Jolie, concluded in London. It was not the size of the gathering (with almost 2000 participants) that mattered; it was that it signalled how firmly this long-ignored issue has been accepted as the business of peace and security institutions. The meeting assembled government representatives (from 123 countries), prosecutors and gender crimes investigators, academics, survivors of violence, human rights defenders, officials from international organizations, and military commanders. For the many feminist policy activists - including myself - who have struggled for decades on the margins to generate action on this issue, a gathering of so many people with the power to make a difference was something few could have imagined. Feminist policy activists have become increasingly worried, however, that the focus on security solutions may come at the expense of broader strategies to fight gender inequality and empower women. </p> <p>The stated focus of this four-day meeting was developing strategies to prevent abuses and punish the perpetrators of sexual violence. In the opening plenaries speakers used variants of the threat: ‘we will come after you’. The main formal output of the Summit was an ‘International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict’, a practical manual designed to assist in prosecuting sexual violence as a crime under national and international law.&nbsp; </p> <p>The pugilistic ‘we’ll get you’ and ’you’ve been warned’ discourse received an enthusiastic response: finally international leaders were standing up for rape victims around the world. The speakers had tapped a deep well of resentment at the international community’s historically weak response to this crime. Military metaphors peppered plenary speeches. However, the get-tough rhetoric particularly in the case of sexual violence tends to reinforce the conventional notion of women as victims and (mainly male) military actors as their protectors.&nbsp; It was acknowledged of course that deploying troops in anti-terrorism or in peacekeeping missions – whether in Afghanistan or the Balkans – has not always led to the protection of women. Although the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chairs-summary-global-summit-to-end-sexual-violence-in-conflict/chairs-summary-global-summit-to-end-sexual-violence-in-conflict">Summit’s conclusions</a> called on defence ministers to take responsibility for preventing sexual violence by their armed forces, the problem is a political one that won’t be addressed fully by new recruitment and training strategies. There was little discussion of how the prospect of <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">prosecution for abuses</a> might affect the willingness of countries to supply peacekeepers.&nbsp; </p> <p>The conference’s focus on military and justice responses was a consequence of the way in which sexual violence in conflict was re-framed by the United Nations Security Council in 2008. UN Security Council resolution <a href="http://www.peacewomen.org/themes_theme.php?id=16&amp;subtheme=true">1820</a> identified sexual violence in conflict as a threat to international peace and security and a tactic of warfare that required a security response. Sexual violence would no longer be a subject only for humanitarian relief. Resolution 1820 was in part driven by increased awareness of innovative peacekeeping tactics that had been used to prevent organized sexual violence. For instance, UN force commander Major-General Patrick Cammaert improved the security environment for women in some areas of Eastern DRC through intelligence-collection from women on impending threats, patrolling in the areas (and at the times) that sexual violence was known to occur, and enabling women to alert peacekeepers of anticipated attacks.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Resolution 1820 also called for political action – requiring the Secretary-General and his envoys to raise the issue of sexual violence when seeking to resolve conflicts. The intention of actors within and outside the UN who pressed for this resolution was to compel the UN’s peacekeeping and peacemaking bureaucracies to make ending conflict-related sexual violence central to their work. Within the UN this took institutional form in the creation of the cross-UN collaboration ‘<a href="http://www.stoprapenow.org/">UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict</a>’ which was intended to make sexual violence no longer just a ‘women’s issue’ or a matter for humanitarian agencies. </p> <p>Sexual violence in war is now out of the ghetto. But the security and law enforcement focus may have encouraged the notion that sexual violence in conflict can be addressed without intensifying the political project of ending gender inequality that produces sexual violence even in peacetime. Advocacy language suggesting ‘it’s not about sex/women/gender, it’s about war’ may have helped to convince the Security Council that this was a subject requiring their attention, but may also have unwittingly downplayed the importance of the feminist emancipatory projects of empowering survivors, and ensuring that protection and recovery efforts contribute to transformation in gender relations.&nbsp; </p> <p>Conflict-related sexual violence is indeed an illegal tactic of warfare. But unlike other prohibited methods, such as the use of chemical weapons and landmines, sexual violence comes from and reproduces unequal gender relations. Even in a war zone, sexual violence that qualifies as a crime against humanity or a war crime may be a minor portion of the sexual attacks women suffer as social protections disintegrate and male predation is normalized. Whoever the perpetrator, whatever the purpose of the attack, the destructive impact of sexual violence comes from gender ideologies that humiliate and silence victims, and that keep prosecutions of rapists rare.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Leymah Gbowee, who shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, reminded a formal plenary of government ministers that <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">sexual violence in war is linked to sexual violence in peacetime</a>.&nbsp; UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka told the conference that a commitment to women’s empowerment must infuse all protection efforts. Australia’s Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison (a You Tube sensation for his tirade about allegations of&nbsp; sexual abuse in the army) connected the societal ‘squandering of women’s talent and the traducing of their potential’ to&nbsp; the brutal sexism of militaries around the world. Expert panels called for more women in public office, in leadership roles in the military, foreign service, and judiciary. They recommended using quotas for women in delegations to peace talks, something that has never seriously been discussed. Establishing reparations systems for sexual violence survivors, and funding women human rights defenders were also discussed.&nbsp; The announcement on the day after the Summit of the award of OBEs to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/sexual-violence-access-to-justice-and-human-rights">Madeleine Rees</a> and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/brigid-inder/welcome-to-international-gender-justice-dialogue">Brigid Inder</a>, two brave and energetic activists for women’s rights and justice, was an acknowledgement that decades of global women’s peace and justice activism is the reason why the issue of war crimes against women are getting the attention we saw at the Summit.</p> <p>Wartime sexual violence thrives on the silence of its victims, so ensuring that survivors are heard is both a political act and a means of generating appropriate responses. Survivors and the organizations that support them were not, however, as visible as many had expected. Male survivors had prominent speaking roles.&nbsp; This gave admittedly overdue <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4116256.ece#tab-4">attention</a> to sexual violence against men and boys. The high visibility of male survivors was no accident in a meeting so heavily invested in optics: the celebrities, the media coverage, the advertisements in the London underground, the choreographed plenaries. But as one UN official noted, 98% of victims are female so this crime is a matter of women’s subordination. Even if rape of men is much more widespread than we realize, the basic fact that women are its principal victims will still mean that getting an appropriate response involves a feminist project of emancipation.</p> <p>William Hague’s closing speech indicated that his office had not lost sight of the women’s empowerment agenda. He acknowledged that conflict-related sexual violence had languished for so long off the diplomatic radar because of the way societies discriminate against women and tolerate abuses of their rights. He condemned the continued exclusion of women from peace negotiations, despite repeated calls by the Security Council for more action.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Hague has made this his signature issue.&nbsp; No other foreign minister - not even Hillary Clinton before leaving office last year - worked so assiduously to generate international action. By the time of the conference, 155 countries agreed to take at least some kind of action, national or multilateral, to stop sexual violence. Hague’s focus on this issue has already triggered modest policy actions. For instance, when it was known that the UK would be placing sexual violence on the agenda of last year’s G8 summit, members (except Russia) rushed to finalize their National Action Plans on women peace and security.</p> <p>Adopting this issue requires Hague and the UK government to expend little political capital. That conflict-related sexual violence must be ended is now uncontroversial, and the need for security and justice responses more or less universally accepted. But pressing for women’s leadership is a much tougher sell, and will require the UK government to exert leverage, which <em>does </em>consume political capital. In theory, Security Council resolution 1325 commits all UN member states to promote women’s legal, political and economic empowerment as an investment in international peace and security.&nbsp; In practice, little has changed because women’s empowerment MW LINK is still not considered a priority subject of international decision-making.&nbsp; </p> <p>The true test of the UK’s commitment to ending sexual violence in conflict will be whether it uses its considerable financial and diplomatic resources to insist on concrete measures to elevate women’s voices and participation in tandem with protection measures. The UK is the Security Council lead on all elements of women, peace and security: protection as well as participation. Implementing the Security Council resolutions that set out obligations to include women in peace talks, state rebuilding, and security organizations must be an integral part of ending sexual violence in conflict.&nbsp; As a major foreign policy issue, conflict-related sexual violence must be raised in all of the UK’s bilateral and multilateral relationships.</p> <p>A strong commitment to promoting women’s leadership as part of the effort to address conflict-related sexual violence would have implications for the allocation of foreign aid. Compared with the hundreds of millions spent on demobilizing combatants, the sums available for women’s empowerment and protection in conflict situations and fragile states remain puny. Reparations programmes and the many services that survivors need (especially access to safe abortions) are notoriously poorly funded. Organizations that promote women’s rights or support survivors of sexual violence need way more funding too&nbsp; Economic recovery programmes need substantial allocations to support women’s enterprises or access to jobs. A multi-donor agreement is needed similar to the UN’s 2010 <a href="http://www.un.org/en/peacebuilding/pbso/pdf/seven_point_action_plan.pdf">commitment</a> to devote at least 15% of peacebuilding funds to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Negotiating a commitment of that magnitude would be a huge foreign policy coup. </p> <p>In the conference’s concluding session, Hague said that he was saddened that women’s groups still have to ask to participate in peace talks as a favour rather than to be entitled to automatic inclusion. The UK government could insist that peace processes in which it has a financial or diplomatic stake require the negotiating parties to include women, and that the mediation support teams include gender experts and consult with women’s civil society organizations. The UK could also press forcefully for gender issues to be on the agenda in peace talks and in the donor conferences that follow. Within the Security Council, this commitment must be expressed in consistent questioning of peacekeeping mission leaders and envoys regarding their efforts to support gender equality. Mandates for UN missions are already relatively consistent in addressing sexual violence; now they should include much stronger directives to ensure women’s participation in elections, access to identity documentation, transitional justice processes, and post-conflict recovery institutions and state-building processes. These proposals are nothing new: <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">feminist peace activists</a> have made them for years.&nbsp; International supporters of peace talks often lament that they did try, but that resistance from the negotiating parties, or fragile state governments, or a lack of qualified gender experts, or simply time constraints, make such an inclusive approach impossible. But the UK and other governments championing this issue must make it clear that such answers are not acceptable.&nbsp; Isn’t that what diplomacy is for?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/hopes-and-fears-summit-to-end-sexual-violence-in-conflict">Hopes and fears: Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/sexual-violence-access-to-justice-and-human-rights">Sexual violence, access to justice, and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/content/war-and-sexual-violence-issue-of-security">War and sexual violence: an issue of security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/sexual-violence-healing-imperative">Sexual violence: the healing imperative</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/blog/rosemary-bechler/2008/06/05/sexual-violence-not-just-a-gender-issue">Sexual violence: not just a gender issue</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blog/csw-2009/2009/03/08/sexual-violence-the-un-gets-serious-about-data-collection">Sexual Violence: the UN gets serious about data collection </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/war-and-1325-principles-or-diversity-checkbox">War and 1325: principles or diversity checkbox ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jane-gabriel/war-that-can-be-won">A war that can be won</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blog/nobel-womens-initiative-2009/isabel-hilton-unknown-com/2009/05/12/the-neglected-story-of-war">The neglected story of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis/syrian-women-refugees-out-of-shadows">Syrian women refugees: out of the shadows</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/lessons-of-hummingbird">Lessons of the hummingbird</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/we-are-visible">We are visible</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/laura-carlsen/within-hell-of-war-lies-private-hell">Within the hell of war lies a private hell</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/who-do-they-think-they-are-war-rapists-as-people">Who do they think they are? 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All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>On the English side of the Irish Sea, the icons of peace tend to be represented as the benign British government confronted by brawling paddies, and saintly, good people who begged the men of the guns to lay down their guns. &nbsp;Inez McCormack, who died last year, was not one of them. She was not a household name in England.&nbsp; But everyone knew her in Northern Ireland, where she was loved by both working class protestants and catholics, women and men. In Dublin and Washington, she was well known as a daring and ingenious change-maker. There were people in the British establishment who regarded her as dangerous – not because she was a black-beret, AK-47 wielding combatant – but because her mission was to transform a scornful, sectarian and sexist state into an egalitarian democracy. </p><p class="MsoNormal">McCormack foxed her enemies because she put change as the condition of peace, recognition of disadvantage and redress as the condition of reconciliation.&nbsp;That may sound modest, but it was seriously radical.&nbsp; Avila Kilmurray, feminist activist and one of the founders of the <a href="http://www.c-r.org/accord-article/northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-women%E2%80%99s-coalition-institutionalising-political-voice-and-ensuring"><span><span class="MsoHyperlink">Women’s Coalition</span></span></a>, argues that the change agenda challenged the view of the conflict as ‘an aggravated crime wave’. Prof Christopher McCrudden, one of the architects of the equality agenda, insists that it was also a pre-condition of nationalists and republicans signing up to power sharing.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Whilst the equality agenda was attractive to those organisations closest to the combatants and to the women and men suffering inequality, the Northern Ireland Office and the Conservative government viscerally resisted making equality a ‘constitutional’ duty. McCormack was at the centre of an alliance between public sector workers, feminists, human rights activists and scholars that created a parallel peace process.&nbsp; Their focus was radical reform as the condition of reconciliation. That infused the Good <span class="aqj">Friday</span> Agreement, the 1998&nbsp;peace treaty, with an ‘internationally unique’ <a href="http://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2013/03/29/christopher-mccrudden-equality-and-the-good-friday-agreement-fifteen-years-on/">constitutional commitment</a> to transform Westminster’s inegalitarianism in Northern Ireland into equality and multiculturalism.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Peace for McCormack was not merely the end of violence, but the transformation of the state and political culture – and the people, too. ‘None of us has the right to be who we were,’ she insisted.&nbsp; The equality agenda, uniquely, challenged the sectarian and sexist structure of Northern Ireland Society. Of course, its success was always going to be contingent on the will to implement. In these neoliberal times, and what Prof John Morison calls the spread of privatised ‘fugitive states’, it provided a model for democratic accountability that reached beyond the state itself to outsourced goods and services procured by the state – a model for peacemaking then and good governance now. Crucially, the equality agenda enlisted the participation of the people themselves in policymaking processes. &nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Corruption, MacBride and bringing in America</span></strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In the 1960s, the young Inez McCormack went to Biba in London for frocks. She went on marches. Back home she witnessed the extravagant brutality that met the civil rights movement when it campaigned<strong> </strong>for equal voting rights, housing and jobs. She witnessed the state’s readiness ‘to shed real blood’ in response to civil rights. Brought up amidst bigoted Protestantism, she encountered the ‘perplexing mixture of political radicalism and social conservatism of catholic culture.’&nbsp;Her work as a peacemaker changed form – if not focus – in each of the following three decades up to the 1998 Good <span class="aqj">Friday</span> Agreement that finally resolved the conflict. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">In the 1970s she became a union organiser for the small National Union of Public Employees, driving up hill and down dale with her baby in the back of her car. She was later to become the leader of what, by then, became Unison, the biggest union in Northern Ireland and the only one to be growing during the bleak era of Thatcherism. It was as the union representative on Northern Ireland’s Equal Opportunities Commission that she confronted the institutionalised sectarianism of the very body supposed to be doing something about discrimination. She embarked on one of the great political partnerships during the conflict – after an administrative worker called Patricia McKeown turned up at her house with concrete evidence of the EOC’s corrupt sectarian bias. The scandal they exposed caused it to collapse.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In the 1980s, in the aftermath of the 1981 hunger strikes by Republican prisoners, McCormack searched for ways past the impasse of a seemingly impregnable state and Margaret Thatcher’s intransigence. &nbsp;This thing would not be resolved internally – Northern Ireland needed the vigilance of external pressure.&nbsp;There were 40 million Americans of Irish descent. In the early 1980s religious orders, black civil rights veterans, Irish American public servants and labour movement activists, reprised an earlier approach to apartheid in South Africa, refined it and directed towards Northern Ireland. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">This agenda came to be known as the McBride Principles: not a boycott, but a strategy by pension funds and state legislators to make American employers and corporations involved in Northern Ireland deliver equality practises. &nbsp;McCormack was one of the signatories to the McBride Principles. The implications were foretold in 1983 when the US government placed a contract with Short Brothers, the publicly owned Belfast plane-manufacturer: it employed 500 catholics and 10,000 protestants. The Irish National Caucus warned the US government about the ethics of its contract and faced the company with the loss of a massive order. Short Brothers instantly promised to introduce the affirmative action that it had, hitherto, resisted.&nbsp; </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Even today, only 16 per cent of the workforce is catholic at Short Brothers, sold off by the government in 1987 to Bombardier, although overall the proportion of catholic<strong>s</strong> and women in the labour market has moved <span><span class="MsoHyperlink">steadily closer</span></span> to their proportions in the population.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Dozens of state legislatures, pension funds and corporations signed up to the McBride Principles, to the chagrin of the British government. Tory Northern Ireland minister Richard Needham admitted, ‘we spent a lot of time sending local catholic politicians and civil servants around American state legislatures counteracting the republican propaganda which was clamouring for the Principles to be adopted.’ It wasn’t Republican propaganda, of course, but the slur revealed what the government really thought about equality and the causes of the conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">US corporations challenged the legality of the Principles – <span><span class="MsoHyperlink">and lost</span></span>. The British government, too, lost the argument. By the end of the decade new fair employment legislation was introduced, according to Needham, as a result of ‘the power that a combined Dublin-Washington alliance had over a British government.’</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But towards the end of the 1980s, the government was mired in controversy about <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24987465"><span>shoot-to-kill tactics</span></a>; it was restraining the legal rights of its opponents. And at the very moment – in 1987 – when combatants on both sides began to canvass peace, the British security services covertly re-armed and re-invigorated loyalist militarism. &nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Bill Clinton endorsed the McBride Principles in his 1992 election campaign, and thereafter Washington became a permanent player in the peace process.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/InezwithHilaryClinton.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/InezwithHilaryClinton.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>McCormack with Hilary Clinton and Meryl Streep. All Rights Reserved</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Equality, women and the Washington Three</span></strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In the 1990s an Equality Coalition was formed by Unison and the human rights organisation, the Committee on the Administration of Justice. They alighted on another international instrument to produce change: an unlovely European directive - the Policy Appraisal and Fair Treatment directive, PAFT - that aimed to simultaneously address poverty, inequality and disempowerment by influencing policy-makers and enlisting the participating of the disadvantaged.&nbsp;The beauty of this was its utility for both Protestants and catholics, and for the poorest of all – women. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Historically, class politics had not been a unifying presence in Northern Ireland. After the decline of the mills, the great cathedrals of manufacturing, and their unions, had been largely closed to<strong> </strong>catholics and to women. Trade unions had been instrumental in the sectarian defeat of the first power-sharing agreement in 1974-5. But now, both communities could see equality and PAFT, as a class and gender resource. It was among the most disadvantaged, women, that this seemingly technical protocol became incendiary. They breathed fire into the equality agenda, and the Equality Coalition captivated two of the most charming politicians on the planet – Mary Robinson and Bill Clinton.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">McCormack ensured that for the first time an Irish President – Robinson – would come to the North. London resisted fiercely and finally announced that it could not ensure her safety. Then I will, pledged McCormack. It was a historic visit that, crucially, was designed to end the demonisaton of catholics in the north, and Clinton famously shook hands with the devil – Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at the White House.&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It was during the early 1990s that McCormack engaged Dublin and Washington in the promotion of the equality agenda as a condition of a peace process, whilst London insisted on disarmament as a pre-condition of participation in peace talks – terms that came to be known as the Washington Three. &nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Despite the ceasefires announced in 1994, London now demanded disarmament - a proxy for defeat of the republicans. Years were wasted. Only when Labour won the 1997 general election was the peace process re-invigorated. This time, the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, backed the equality agenda.&nbsp;It became one of the major themes of the Good <span class="aqj">Friday</span> Agreement, supported by everyone and, crucially, by the parties closest to the combatants. It was signed on Good <span class="aqj">Friday</span> 1998 and endorsed in referenda both sides of the border.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">That didn’t stop the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) trying to roll back and re-write the deal during the legislating process. That summer, McCormack, McCrudden and Martin O’Brien from the <a href="http://www.caj.org.uk/">Committee on the Administration of Justice</a> were locked in line-by-line textual combat with senior civil servants. Blithely disregarding the ‘settled will’, the NIO tried to disable the equality duties and re-instate their own agenda: prioritising reconciliation – which, of course, did not require redistribution or redress. That status quo was endorsed by some on the centre and centre left, notably members of <a href="http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/dd/">Democratic Dialogue</a>, who believed that naming interests and identities fixed sectarianism, and was, in any case, <span><span class="MsoHyperlink">a Republican agenda</span></span>. However, the status quo was defeated by a three-letter word: policymakers were to have ‘due’ regard to equality in all their work. &nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In McCormack’s life-work, she sought to give voice to the unseen and unheard, the harmed and the humiliated. <span>&nbsp;</span>Hers was a quest for alliances that could cross political frontiers – not by denying differences but by naming them, by denying difference as a source of domination. She pursued these aims by uniting equality with human rights and by reaching to internationalism beyond the sequestered cloisters of Westminster to force change. &nbsp;If, on the English side of the Irish Sea, we don’t know about her, it is because the dominant narrative prevails – that the conflict was ‘an aggravated crime wave’ rather than the dirty business of a disreputable state.&nbsp; That bad old habit is compounded by the toxic impact of neoliberal hegemony, which is inimical to the spirit of the Agreement, to the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kellie-odowd/%E2%80%98peace-will-bring-prosperity%E2%80%99-northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-big-lie">London government’s austerity</a>; and Westminster’s indifference to the renewal of democracy yielded by devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but not in England. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/InezinUnisonBelfastOffices(Patriciaisfarright).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/InezinUnisonBelfastOffices(Patriciaisfarright).jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="326" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>McCormack in the Unison offices. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal">Inez McCormack 1943-2013</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kellie-odowd/%E2%80%98peace-will-bring-prosperity%E2%80%99-northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-big-lie">&#039;Peace will bring prosperity&#039;: Northern Ireland’s big lie?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kathryn-stone/dealing-with-past-there-must-never-be-hierarchy-of-pain">Dealing with the past: &quot;There must never be a hierarchy of pain&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lynn-carvill/women-in-northern-ireland-sharing-learning">Women in Northern Ireland: sharing the learning</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-carr/women-together-in-darkest-days-of-troubles">Women Together in the darkest days of the &#039;Troubles&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-carr/women-in-northern-ireland-should-be-leading-peacebuilders-again">Women in Northern Ireland should be leading peacebuilders again</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-mcvicker/insulting-women-of-northern-ireland">Insulting the women of Northern Ireland </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/niki-sethsmith/why-are-hopes-of-good-friday-peace-agreement-still-unfulfilled">Why are the hopes of the Good Friday Peace Agreement still unfulfilled? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Northern Ireland </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Northern Ireland Women and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women's movements women and power women and militarism feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Beatrix Campbell Mon, 16 Jun 2014 07:12:27 +0000 Beatrix Campbell 83704 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Is war ever justifiable? A divisive issue for women peacebuilders https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/marie-sandell/is-war-ever-justifiable-divisive-issue-for-women-peacebuilders <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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 <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom</a> refused all military options.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>This summer, the centenary of the onset of the First World War, historians, the media and peace movements are delving anew into the political circumstances of 1914, asking how and why we allowed ourselves to be led into such an ill-judged conflict. This article jumps ahead to the 1930s when the threatening rise of the ultra-right in Europe and militarist nationalism in Japan foreshadowed a second World War. With little evidence of armed conflict abating, understanding the roots of war have become ever more important to peace movements’ work to eliminate the causes of wars. . </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom</a> has its origins in the First World War, when more than a thousand participants from twelve nations divided by the conflict came together in a women's congress at The Hague in an attempt to bring leaders to the peace table. The League lives on today as a world-wide movement with sections in thirty-one countries. But, as the post-war moment of the 1920s traversed into the pre-war moment of the 1930s, its coherence and conviction were shaken by division and self-doubt. This time, impending war presented peace movements with a serious challenge to belief in total pacifism. When democracy and social justice were being extinguished around us, should the urgency of their defence override the pacifist principle? It is a period that merits careful review, for a similar dilemma faces us even now when tyrannical regimes, as in Iraq in 2005, Libya in 2011 and Syria today, give rise to calls for military action in the name of 'humanitarian intervention' by the 'international community'. </p> <p>The viciously punitive terms of the 'peace' imposed on Germany and its allies in the 1919 <a href="http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/treaty_of_versailles.htm">Treaty of Versailles</a>, were fiercely condemned by WILPF, as by many others who feared, rightly as it proved, that the poverty and degradation imposed on the peoples of the defeated nations would lead to resentment, resurgence and a renewed threat of war. Indeed in 1922 WILPF organised a special Emergency Conference of women in The Hague to consider <a href="http://explore.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=moreTab&amp;ct=display&amp;fn=search&amp;doc=BLL01003966987&amp;indx=1&amp;recIds=BLL01003966987&amp;recIdxs=0&amp;elementId=0&amp;renderMode=poppedOut&amp;displayMode=full&amp;frbrVersion=&amp;dscnt=2&amp;fromLogin=true&amp;tab=local">'A New Peace'</a>, urging revision of the Peace Treaties. </p> <p>During the 1920s WILPF’s message of peace, justice and equality resonated with many women and permitted good collaboration between organisations and with the League of Nations. In this period of expansion and optimism its membership grew.&nbsp; By the end of the decade WILPF had twenty-eight affiliated national groups around the world. However, while 'peace' was a unifying force in the 1920s, it became a considerably more contested issue in the 1930s due to a deteriorating world situation. As members of WILPF, and many other international women’s organisations, worked tirelessly to prevent any further wars, the practical organisation of peace activism became more difficult. And here WILPF was not alone. Most international women’s organisations in Europe were badly affected. For example, most societies lost sections in Italy, Germany and Austria, and associations in Spain and Czechoslovakia were likewise practically inoperative in the 1930s. The totalitarian regime in Italy closed down<strong>&nbsp; </strong>women’s societies and forbade women to attend conferences, while <a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/collections/featuredCollections/womensLibraryLSE.aspx">German branches</a> were ordered to accede to unconditional submission <strong>&nbsp;</strong>to the Führer, recognise the special tasks assigned to women by the Nazi State (i.e. mainly social welfare), exclude Jewish members from the National Board of Officers as well as from the boards of all affiliated associations and local councils, and accept the imposed appointment of Nazi women to leading positions. In <a href="http://www.jwu.ac.jp/eng/nmh.html">Japan</a> too, women’s organisations working for peace experienced difficulties. &nbsp; </p> <p><strong>1930s:&nbsp; Co-operation for disarmament</strong> </p> <p>All the same, deteriorating international relations during the 1930s directed all international women’s organisations more firmly towards peace work, and in particular, the question of disarmament. Disarmament, a vital issue in itself, also had advantage as a <a href="http://www.peacewomen.org/themes_theme.php?id=7">campaigning theme</a> over more general calls for 'peace' in that it clearly called equally on <em>all </em>parties to pull back from an arms race. Indeed, this activity resulted in new forms of interaction: greater collaboration between organisations, the widening of regional co-operation, and in particular increased liaison with the League of Nations. For example, in 1930, six women’s international organisations joined forces and presented to the League of Nations an ‘<a href="http://explore.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=moreTab&amp;ct=display&amp;fn=search&amp;doc=BLL01003966983&amp;indx=1&amp;recIds=BLL01003966983&amp;recIdxs=0&amp;elementId=0&amp;renderMode=poppedOut&amp;displayMode=full&amp;frbrVersion=&amp;dscnt=1&amp;scp.scps=scope%3A%28BLCO">Appeal of Women to the World’s Statesmen</a>’,declaring women’s anxiety for the future and the urgent need for peace work. The same year, a <a href="http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1067-mca">delegation</a> of American, British, French and Japanese women urged substantial reduction in naval armaments at the London Naval Conference. </p> <p>This upsurge in cross-organisational co-operation is best demonstrated by the disarmament campaign initiated by WILPF in the early 1930s, when it began a petition that was translated into eighteen languages, published and discussed around the world. The campaign grew as it was combined with similar efforts carried out by other organisations and enjoyed the backing of prominent peace activists, including Gandhi. At the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments which began in 1932 ( often referred to as the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Disarmament_Conference">World Conference on Disarmament </a>&nbsp;millions of signatures of both women and men from around the world were presented by the representatives of women’s organisations from fifty-six countries. </p> <p>Women’s extensive work for peace through disarmament during the 1930s received public recognition, and individual women were publicly honoured in a range of ways. Newspapers at the time highlighted how women occupied the centre stage at the League of Nations’ disarmament conference. In particular the appointment of Margery Corbett Ashby, president of the International Alliance of Women, as a substitute member of the British delegation received extensive <a href="http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1067-mca">press coverage</a>. Moreover, in 1931, WILPF president <a href="http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1931/">Jane Addams</a> received the ultimate accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. </p> <p>Notwithstanding all this press interest, few histories of the League of Nations credit the contributions made by women to the disarmament campaign and the 1932 Geneva Conference.&nbsp; Some statesmen of the period, including Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister at the time, while interested in women's work for peace, also suggested that they were rather <a href="http://explore.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=moreTab&amp;ct=display&amp;fn=search&amp;doc=BLL01007213752&amp;indx=2&amp;recIds=BLL01007213752&amp;recIdxs=1&amp;elementId=1&amp;renderMode=poppedOut&amp;displayMode=full&amp;frbrVersion=&amp;dscnt=0&amp;tab=local_tab&amp;dstmp=1401">naïve in their quest for peace</a>. Of course, opinions were sharply divided on the best course of action in dealing with the instabilities of the interwar years. WILPF, from the start committed to uprooting the very causes of war, including inequality, oppression and exploitation, stood out among peace organisations for its political (but not party political) approach to peace.&nbsp;&nbsp; It often came under attack for its views and activism, and, especially in the USA, was <a href="http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com/wilpf/intro.htm">targeted</a> as 'Red' and 'unpatriotic'. Attitudes such as these, in addition to the already difficult political climate, made their work for peace especially challenging in the 1930s. Indeed, the impact of the disarmament campaign was limited, and the political and economic situation deteriorated further towards the end of the decade. </p> <p><strong>Division: is war ever justifiable?</strong> </p> <p>WILPF and other international women’s organisations all believed that women had a special contribution to make to peace, justice and tolerance, and that their involvement in the disarmament campaign, in particular, was crucial. But these were delicate matters, which caused disagreement and division between and within organisations over what course of action to take. Within WILPF, the League’s principles were repeatedly discussed and debated during meetings and conferences. For example, already at its executive committee meeting in <a href="http://www.ub.gu.se/samlingar/kvinn/">Paris in 1926</a> some national sections, including the American, British, Polish, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, had expressed opposition to the strong wording of WILPF's objective, adopted at the <a href="http://explore.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=moreTab&amp;ct=display&amp;fn=search&amp;doc=BLL01003966955&amp;indx=2&amp;recIds=BLL01003966955&amp;recIdxs=1&amp;elementId=1&amp;renderMode=poppedOut&amp;displayMode=full&amp;frbrVersion=&amp;dscnt=1&amp;scp.scps=scope%3A%28BLCO">1924 Washington Congress</a>, which opposed all war, including 'defensive war', a position that made it impossible for members to support the use of 'military sanctions' by the League of Nations as permitted by the Geneva Convention.&nbsp; The Scandinavian sections also proposed a compromise to the effect that WILPF should accept as members 'educated people' who were&nbsp; 'interested in' pacifism, yet not prepared to support all WILPF's principles.</p> <p>This debate continued in the League’s paper <em><a href="http://explore.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=moreTab&amp;ct=display&amp;fn=search&amp;doc=BLL01003966983&amp;indx=1&amp;recIds=BLL01003966983&amp;recIdxs=0&amp;elementId=0&amp;renderMode=poppedOut&amp;displayMode=full&amp;frbrVersion=&amp;dscnt=1&amp;scp.scps=scope%3A%28BLCO">Pax</a>,</em> where&nbsp; members joined with the Scandinavian sections in arguing for greater flexibility regarding new admissions, partly to be achieved by providing education on peace questions upon affiliation. Other members, though, stressed the importance of holding to WILPF’s original role of attracting women who were determined to fight for peace, internationalism and social justice under <em>all</em> circumstances. Strength in numbers, they <a href="https://catalogue.lse.ac.uk/Record/502330">believed</a> was an illusion, if it came at the price of weakening the League's position in such a way that it no longer differed greatly from that of numerous other pacifist organisations - organisations which, they claimed, kept silent and even supported their war-prone governments at the moment of crisis. The opponents of a ‘softening’ of WILPF’s objective, in order to increase its membership,&nbsp; included prominent members such as <a href="http://www.alettajacobs.org/atria/Aletta_Jacobs/English/War_and_Peace">Dr Aletta Jacobs</a>, one of the founders of WILPF. </p> <p>WILPF was always bolder and more visionary than other international women’s organisations, and declared at its 1937 Congress that it sought a ‘<a href="http://explore.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=moreTab&amp;ct=display&amp;fn=search&amp;doc=BLL01003966963&amp;indx=2&amp;recIds=BLL01003966963&amp;recIdxs=1&amp;elementId=1&amp;renderMode=poppedOut&amp;displayMode=full&amp;frbrVersion=&amp;dscnt=1&amp;scp.scps=scope%3A%28BLCO">New International Order</a>’, far different from the existing situation characterised by disorder and chaos, in which not only individuals but states would behave according to moral laws. Yet, members continued to disagree on the matter of what action to take: while some members wanted to make bold statements, others preferred taking more prudent steps. As pointed out by <a href="http://explore.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=moreTab&amp;ct=display&amp;fn=search&amp;doc=BLL01007423366&amp;indx=4&amp;recIds=BLL01007423366&amp;recIdxs=3&amp;elementId=3&amp;renderMode=poppedOut&amp;displayMode=full&amp;frbrVersion=&amp;dscnt=2&amp;fromLogin=true&amp;tab=local">Catherine Foster</a>, the German and French sections, whose members were feeling the brunt of Nazi politics earlier and more directly than those in Britain, Scandinavia and North America, favoured intense action through an alliance with radical movements, for example the Bolsheviks.&nbsp; </p> <p>Thus, even though the WILPF managed to avoid an actual split, the organisation was undeniably weakened by internal disagreement during the interwar period. The <a href="http://spartacus-educational.com/Wpeacecrusade.htm">Women's Peace Crusade</a> a British umbrella organisation that included the British section of WILPF and affiliates of other international women's associations, was also faced with divisions based on whether or not to take political action, which usually involved closer co-operation with more radical left wing movements as well as more direct action such as strikes and violent demonstrations, as this move was seen as reducing their public appeal and the number of other organisations willing to collaborate with it. This also caused problems for the <a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/collections/featuredCollections/womensLibraryLSE.aspx">International Council of Women</a>, whose leading members initially hesitated over whether or not to join the disarmament campaign, as its constitution prevented the organisation from giving its view on political issues such as these. Yet, the fact that the ICW did eventually join, highlights the degree of flexibility deployed by the organisations at this time because of the severity of the instabilities facing Europe.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Sustaining internationalism <br /></strong></p> <p>At the same time as Europe's collapse into another war began to seem inevitable, demands for national independence elsewhere were destabilising Western empires, and in the process challenging many non-western women’s commitment to international feminism. The 1930s therefore saw a growth of regional co-operation among women outside the parameters of Europe, in the context of growing resentment against colonialism. For example, an All-Asian Women’s Conference was held in Lahore in 1931, and similar gatherings were also <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07075332.2011.620737#.U43Bp_JOXcc">organised</a> by Middle Eastern feminists in Damascus and Tehran. Meanwhile, most major international women’s organisations remained silent on the issue of imperialism, a choice that was clearly influenced by their non-political stance, as well as the fact that the topic seemed to have little relevance for western women, who continued to dominate these organisations. WILPF, by contrast, was markedly ‘progressive’ on international relations. Indeed, it was generally more accommodating of differences, not only in its support for anti-imperialism but also in its more radical stance on inequalities. Nonetheless, its peace work and international expansion were inevitably affected by conflicts and disputes in the non-Western context of colonial areas, which prevented local female activists from making full commitments to WILPF’s principle of opposing every kind of war. </p> <p>Thus, by the end of the 1930s many female peace activists were disappointed by the general lack of an 'international spirit', and especially by the <a href="http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1067-mca">failure</a> of the Geneva Disarmament Conferences. (Corbett Ashby resigned from the British delegation in 1935 over the failure of leadership and Britain’s refusal to support practical measures for mutual defence and security). This was <a href="https://catalogue.lse.ac.uk/Record/502330">described</a> by a contributor to <em>Pax,</em> who argued that even though there was no shortage of international organisations and congresses, the spirit of international 'preparedness' was hollow and 'degraded to national interests' as compared with earlier times. </p> <p>Yet, despite the complexities of the interwar period, WILPF’s commitment to transnational co-operation among women to end all wars and to establish equality between the sexes persisted. As another war approached and eventually engulfed Europe, WILPF's contribution to peace took on a more practical and humanitarian dimension that was nonetheless international: assistance to refugees. The League survived not only the challenging 1930s decade but the Second World War itself, and continues today, almost a hundred years from its foundation, to channel the energies of women worldwide in their bid to stop war. </p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Conflict Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick women and power women and militarism feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Marie Sandell Mon, 09 Jun 2014 08:06:27 +0000 Marie Sandell 83402 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A common vision: The abolition of militarism https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"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 <a href="http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/what-is-it.html">Sarajevo Peace Event</a>. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Dear friends, </p> <p>We are all aware that this is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of&nbsp; Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo which led to the start of the First World War in l9l4. What started here in Sarajevo was a century of two global wars, a Cold War, a century of immense, rapid explosion of death and destruction technology, all extremely costly, and extremely risky. </p> <p>A huge step in the history of war, but also a decisive turning point in the history of peace. The peace movement has never been as strong politically as in the last three decades before the break-out of WWl.&nbsp; It was a factor in political life, literature, organization, and planning, the Hague Peace Conferences, the Hague Peace Palace and the International Court of Arbitration, the bestseller of Bertha von Suttner, ‘<a href="http://www.bartleby.com/71/1115.html">Lay Down your Arms</a>’. The optimism was high as to what this ‘new science’ of peace could mean to humankind.&nbsp; Parliaments, Kings, and Emperors, great cultural and business personalities involved themselves. The great strength of the movement was that it did not limit itself to civilizing and slowing down militarism, it demanded its total abolition. </p> <p>People were presented with an alternative, and they saw common interest in this alternative road forward for humankind.&nbsp; What happened in Sarajevo a hundred years ago was a devastating blow to these ideas, and we never really recovered.&nbsp; Now, a hundred years later, must be the time for a thorough reappraisal of what we had with this vision of disarmament, and what we have done without it, and the need for a recommitment, and a new ambitious start offering new hope to a humanity suffering under the scourge of militarism and wars. </p> <p>People are tired of armaments and war. They have seen that they release uncontrollable forces of tribalism and nationalism.&nbsp; These are dangerous and murderous forms of identity and above which we need to take steps to transcend, lest we unleash further dreadful violence upon the world. To do this, we need to acknowledge that our common humanity and human dignity is more important than our different traditions. We need to recognize our life and the lives of others are sacred and we can solve our problems without killing each other. We need to accept and celebrate diversity and otherness. We need to work to heal the ‘old’ divisions and misunderstandings, give and accept forgiveness, and choose nonkilling and nonviolence as ways to solve our problems.&nbsp; So too as we disarm our hearts and minds, we can also disarm our countries and our world. </p> <p>We are also challenged to build structures through which we can co-operate and which reflect our interconnected and interdependent relationships. The vision of the European Union founders to link countries together economically, in order to lessen the likelihood of war amongst the nations, is a worthy endeavour.&nbsp; Unfortunately, instead of putting more energy into providing help for EU citizens, we are witnessing the growing militarization of Europe, its role as a driving force for armaments, and its dangerous path, under the leadership of the USA/NATO, towards a new ‘cold’ war and military aggression. The European Union and many of its countries, who used to take initiatives in the UN for peaceful settlements of conflicts, particularly allegedly peaceful countries, like Norway and Sweden, are now one of the US/NATO most important war assets. The EU is a threat to the survival of neutrality. Many nations have been drawn into being complicit in breaking international law through US/UK/NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. </p> <p>I believe NATO should be abolished. The United Nations should be reformed and strengthened, and we should get rid of the veto in the Security Council so that it is a fair vote and we don’t have one power ruling over us. The UN should actively take up its mandate to save the world from the scourge of war.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>But there is hope. People are mobilizing and resisting non-violently. They are saying no to militarism and war and insisting on disarmament. Those of us in the peace movement can take inspiration from many who have gone before and worked to prevent war insisting on disarmament and peace.&nbsp; Such a person was Bertha Von Suttner, who was the<a href="http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1905/suttner-bio.html"> first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize</a> in l905, for her activism in the Women’s rights and peace movement.&nbsp; She died in June, l9l4, 100 years ago, just before WWl started.&nbsp; It was Bertha Von Suttner who moved Alfred Nobel to set up the Nobel Peace Prize Award, and it was the ideas of the peace movement of the period that Alfred Nobel decided to support in his testament for the Champions of Peace, those who struggled for disarmament and replacing&nbsp; power with law and international relations. That this was the purpose is clearly confirmed by three expressions in the will, creating the fraternity of nations, work for abolition of armies, holding Peace Congresses.&nbsp; It is important the Nobel Committee be faithful to his wishes and that prizes go to the true champions of peace that Nobel had in mind. </p> <p>This 100 year old programme for disarmament challenges those of us in the peace movement to confront militarism in a fundamental way.&nbsp; We must not be satisfied with improvements and reforms, but rather offer an alternative to militarism, which is an aberration and a system of dysfunction, going completely against the true spirit of men and women which is to love and be loved, and solve our problems through co-operation, dialogue, nonviolence, and conflict resolution. </p> <p>Thanks to the organizers for bringing us together. In the coming days we shall feel the warmth and strength of being among thousands of friends and enriched by the variety of peace people, and ideas. We shall be inspired and energized to pursue our different projects, be it arms trade, nuclear, nonviolence, culture of peace, drone warfare, etc. Together we can lift the world!&nbsp; But soon we shall be back home, on our own, and we know all too well how we all too often are being met with either indifference or a remote stare.&nbsp; Our problem is not that people do not like what we say, what they understand correctly is that they believe little can be done, as the world is so highly militarized. There is an answer to this problem,- we want a different world and people to believe that peace and disarmament is possible. Can we agree, that diverse as our work is, a common vision of a world without arms, militarism and war, is indispensable for success. Does not our experience confirm that we will never achieve real change if we do not confront and reject militarism entirely, as the aberration/dysfunction it is in human history?&nbsp; Can we agree to work that all countries come together in an agreement to abolish all weapons and war and to commit to always sort out our differences through international law and institutions? </p> <p>We cannot here in Sarajevo make a common peace programme, but we can commit to a common goal. If our common dream is a world without weapons and militarism, why don’t we say so?&nbsp; Why be silent about it?&nbsp; It would make a world of difference if we refused to be ambivalent about the violence of militarism. We should no longer be making scattered attempts to modify the military, each one of us would do our thing as part of a global effort. Across all divisions of national borders, religions, races. We must be an alternative, insisting on an end to militarism and violence. This would give us an entirely different chance to be listened to and taken seriously. We must be an alternative insisting on an end to militarism and violence.&nbsp; </p> <p>Let the Sarajevo where peace ended, be the starting point for the bold beginning of a universal call for peace through the wholesale abolition of militarism. </p> <p><em>Read articles published by <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a> stemming from the <a href="http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women's Initiative's</a> biennial conferences <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative/nobel-womens-initiative-2013">here</a></em></p><p><em>Read more articles in 50.50's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/peacework-human-security">Peacework and Human Security</a> dialogue </em></p><p>&nbsp;</p>&nbsp;<fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp-jessica-nhkum/daring-to-speak-militarism-and-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-burma">Daring to speak: militarism and women’s human rights in Burma</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/plotting-for-woman-shaped-peace-syrian-and-bosnian-women-confer">Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. We’re tired of war&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/shelley-anderson/vital-peace-constituencies">Vital peace constituencies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/building-culture-of-love-replacing-culture-of-violence-and-death">Building a culture of love: replacing a culture of violence and death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/peacework-women-in-action-across-europe">Peacework: women in action across Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/to-eliminate-wmd-we-need-to-disarm-patriarchy">To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/fetishists-of-nuclear-power-projection-have-had-their-day">The fetishists of nuclear power projection have had their day</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ndeye-marie-thiam/women-of-senegal-agents-of-peace">Women of Senegal: agents of peace </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/women-and-language-of-peace-protest">Women and the language of peace protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/foundation-of-human-security-in-every-society">The foundation of human security in every society</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/patriarchy-and-militarism-in-egypt-from-street-to-government">Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/beyond-war-women-transforming-militarism-building-nonviolent-world">Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/is-it-time-for-worldwide-strategy-for-building-of-peace">Is it time for a worldwide strategy for the building of peace?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/call-to-engender-turkey%E2%80%99s-peace-process">A call to engender Turkey’s peace process</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp-jessica-nhkum/daring-to-speak-militarism-and-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-burma">Daring to speak: militarism and women’s human rights in Burma</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/militarism-and-non-state-actors-%E2%80%98-other-invasion%E2%80%99">Militarism and non-state actors: ‘the other invasion’ </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Conflict Women's Power to Stop War From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Mairead Maguire Sat, 07 Jun 2014 11:27:33 +0000 Mairead Maguire 83519 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women in Northern Ireland should be leading peacebuilders again https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-carr/women-in-northern-ireland-should-be-leading-peacebuilders-again <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Women Together</em> 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 <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-carr/women-together-in-darkest-days-of-troubles" target="_blank">Part 1</a>).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><em>This article is part of 5050's series on <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/women-and-peacebuilding-in-northern-ireland" target="_blank">women and peacebuilding in Northern Ireland</a>. </em></strong></p><p><em></em>The 9th of February, 1996. That was a Friday evening I will never forget. When I heard the news of the Canary Wharf bombing, the breakdown in the IRA ceasefire, I stopped everything. With the support of Women Together members I started to help organise a vigil to take place outside City Hall, Belfast, at 12 noon the following Monday. </p> <p>We in Women Together had been concerned for some time at the lack of progress in the peace process and were worried that the delicate negotiations would flounder. In the preceding weeks we had painstakingly cut out over 3000 little white paper doves, individually, whilst talking together and building understanding and trust between many different women. We had planned that if violence returned we would invite the people to stand together and tell the world that we wanted peace and a resolution of differences through negotiation and dialogue. At 12 noon on Monday, 12th February 1996, over five thousand people made their way to the front of Belfast City Hall and in two minutes of silence raised the little white paper doves above their heads. This image <a href="http://www.itnsource.com/shotlist//RTV/1996/02/25/605281240/?s=eire">travelled the world</a> via global media. It was a very significant message and its impact was phenomenal. The people of Northern Ireland wanted peace not violence. </p> <p>The stabilization of the ceasefires brought new opportunities. Throughout the lead up to the Belfast Agreement or Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Women Together was at the heart of the moving forward together campaign. We lobbied and challenged politicians to take the risks for peace necessary to bring about an agreement as a foundation on which to build and cultivate a new inclusive society. The women involved found that dialogue became their daily focus. We helped people understand what the peace process was all about, come to terms with the proposed changes and support those who had suffered the most during the devastating decades of conflict.</p> <p>It was in the light of this that Women Together began the transformation process to focus on a new initiative, People Moving On. &nbsp;In the early post Agreement, post Referendum period, we worked very hard, campaigning and lobbying for the full implementation of our Agreement. It was at this time that our new Assembly collapsed several times and direct rule government <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/feb/12/northernireland.johnmullin1">returned</a>. As part of the People Moving On initiative, fed up with the lack of progress, we&nbsp; took a large table and chairs to the gardens of Parliament Buildings. Wearing T shirts emblazoned with the names of all the political parties, we sat down around the table and had a discussion on a big issue of the time: future maternity services for women in Belfast. We hung a loaf of bread and a pound of butter on a clothes line over the table to emphasise the importance of collectively addressing “bread and butter” issues. Several politicians joined our conversations that day. We campaigned using an iron and ironing board and the slogan “Iron Out the Differences, Implement the Agreement” and a vacuum cleaner with the slogan “Fill the Vacuum, Implement the Agreement”. We also challenged the blame game with a public poster campaign, “Pointing the Finger is Missing the Point”. Lunchtime meetings were held in the Women Together offices, planning our campaigning and discussing how we could support the moving on process.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PeopleMovingOn.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PeopleMovingOn.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="240" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>People Moving On cheering the Mitchell agreement, Nov 1999.</span></span></span></p> <p>Whilst our campaigning work through People Moving On was in full flow, I represented Women Together in the tentative early conversations about the need for continued dialogue amongst ordinary people. We saw politicians having conversations behind closed doors and wanted to ensure that people on the ground, from across all the divided communities, understood what our Agreement was all about and could hear one another on the difficult, challenging issues like policing, parading, sectarianism and identity. These were very quiet, very in-depth, very challenging processes to help people who had hurt, were devastated, even full of hate, to come together with the aim of &nbsp;building understanding and ease with difference. <a href="http://www.communitydialogue.org/">Community Dialogue</a> was born, an organization still operating in Belfast. I moved across to become Dialogue and Research worker with Community Dialogue in May 2001 with the support of Women Together. We closed our office, transferred our material assets, energy and enthusiasm for reconciliation and change to this new organization.</p> <p>In these two pieces, I have told the story of just some of the invaluable work done by women during the conflict to help bring about peace. It is without doubt that women in Northern Ireland were central and key to keeping society functioning and families coping during the very darkest days of the conflict. It is without doubt that women were key to the campaigning for an end to violence and the dialogue required to build enough trust to see a sharing way forward. It is without doubt that women suffered immensely, the tragedies of loss of loved ones, caring for the injured and bereaved, the fear of attacks on their children, picking up the pieces when so many men went to prison, taking the risks for peace. It is without doubt that without the women involved in the talks process that led to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement the outcome may have been very different.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Nobel Women Bus Tour 29th May 2013.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Nobel Women Bus Tour 29th May 2013.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nobel Women's Initiative Bus Tour provides a women's history of Belfast</span></span></span></p> <p>So where are the voices of women today? It is my opinion that since the establishment of our new Assembly and Executive, the voices of women have to some extent been silenced.</p> <p>Pre Agreement, it was often women who direct rule Ministers engaged with and sought opinions from in relation to moving on. I spent many an evening in Stormont Castle, Parliament Buildings, sharing my thoughts on building a peaceful society, important stepping stones and creating ease with difference. It was in small community centres over a cup of tea that politicians from both John Major's and Tony Blair’s governments got a real sense of the pain, suffering, fears and also hopes, possibilities and determination of ordinary women doing remarkable things with little or no resources.</p> <p>To date, the Civic Forum, an integral part of our Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, has not been properly put in place, save for a short period in the late 1990's when a brief Forum was established and then brought down again. The Civic Forum was <a href="http://tulane.edu/newcomb/upload/teaching_notedinosaurs.pdf">an initiative</a> of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition and was to be the crucial and central voice for ordinary people, community and voluntary organisations, church groups, young people, older people, a wide and varied representative body that could be the centre of the peace building dialogue processes underpinning the work of politicians in the new Assembly and Executive. We were told very clearly that the Agreement would be implemented in full - "no cherry picking" was the term used by politicians. The process of building a sharing community was never intended to be implemented by politicians alone. </p><p>As we still have a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">serious under representation</a> of women in our Assembly, Executive, Local Councils and in other decision making roles, a Civic Forum would be the ideal place for these crucial voices to be heard. Indeed, why not have women in Northern Ireland drive the Civic Forum, create the sort of inclusive processes that would really start to address the difficult issues like dealing with the past, flags and emblems and creating a shared future. Women could be the essential missing catalyst for change, really lead the way and give politicians the opportunity to follow.</p> <p>Women’s organisations like Women Together, <a href="http://womensinfoni.com/">Women's Information Group</a>, women's centres and women’s community groups led the way in challenging sectarianism and violence during the darkest days of our conflict, provided the havens of calm and support for so many injured and bereaved. They kept families together and children off the streets and safe and did the hard lifting in campaigning relentlessly for an end to violence and common sense inclusive ways forward. The few women present in the recent <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/louise-mallinder/dealing-with-northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-past-guide-to-haasso%E2%80%99sullivan-talks">Haass/O'Sullivan talks process</a> and the many criticisms I have heard from working class women on the ground that nobody asked their opinions is so sad. </p> <p>When we as a society really start to value the important role so many women played in keeping this society together during the darkest, bloodiest days; played in campaigning for an end to the violence; play daily in challenging sectarianism and building relationships across divides; and play in supporting those who were bereaved, injured and traumatised; maybe, just maybe we will create an environment where compromise is not only possible but embraced enthusiastically.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-carr/women-together-in-darkest-days-of-troubles">Women Together in the darkest days of the &#039;Troubles&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/louise-mallinder/dealing-with-northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-past-guide-to-haasso%E2%80%99sullivan-talks">Dealing with Northern Ireland’s past: a guide to the Haass-O’Sullivan talks</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-mcvicker/insulting-women-of-northern-ireland">Insulting the women of Northern Ireland </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/niki-sethsmith/why-are-hopes-of-good-friday-peace-agreement-still-unfulfilled">Why are the hopes of the Good Friday Peace Agreement still unfulfilled? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Women and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Anne Carr Fri, 16 May 2014 08:37:27 +0000 Anne Carr 82881 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women Together in the darkest days of the 'Troubles' https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-carr/women-together-in-darkest-days-of-troubles <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Women Together</em> 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 <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-carr/women-together-should-lead-again-for-northern-irelands-peace">Part 2</a>).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Part of our series on <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/5050/women-and-peace-building-in-northern-ireland"><em>women and peacebuilding in Northern Ireland</em></a>. </strong></p><p>In September 1990, I walked into the Women Together office, enthusiastic and passionate, driven by a deep desire to do what I could to end the devastating violence destroying lives and livelihoods on an almost daily basis in Northern Ireland.</p> <p>Women Together was founded in the mayhem of 1970, those early and dangerous days when standing up to a growing paramilitary presence was so difficult. Two women founded the organization: one Protestant, Ruth Agnew, who lived in the working class Gasworks area of the Ormeau Road, Belfast; and one a Catholic woman, Monica Patterson, an English woman living in South Belfast. The violence on the streets in 1969 and 1970 was horrific with many deaths, injuries and families torn apart. Because of the rising fears of one another, many families had to leave their homes and even jobs in mixed areas and move across town to safer segregated areas. These two women came together and called a meeting of all women fed up with this mayhem who wanted to take a stand together against violence and sectarianism. The meeting was held in the War Memorial building in Waring Street, Belfast, and hundreds of women arrived, some in buses from difficult working class areas. On that night in October 1970, Women Together was born. </p> <p>Twenty years after it was founded, in September 1990, I began my role at Women Together after returning to work in Belfast from Newcastle. I had lived in Newcastle, 32 miles from Belfast, since 1980 when my twins were very young. We had to seek out a community where we would feel safe to live as I was Protestant and my husband was Catholic. Belfast was just too dangerous.&nbsp; I had become aware of Women Together during my time in Newcastle, when I was deeply involved in the development of a new integrated primary school. I had heard that Women Together had established groups right across Belfast and in local towns and women worked together to protect their homes, families and communities. They often formed human chains across roads to keep stone-throwing youths apart, and took children out of violence-ridden areas for breaks in the country. They stood as women in solidarity together to challenge the government and paramilitary groupings to end the violence. Some husbands and families of the women involved didn't know that the women were working together in this way, such was the fear and anger of the time.</p> <p>On starting at Women Together as a part-time development officer I was introduced to my new colleague Pat Campbell, a dedicated member of the Lisburn Women Together group, also starting that day. We were both brought on to help Women Together move forward as it celebrated its 20th anniversary.</p> <p>As part of the 20th Anniversary events, new aims were agreed as follows:</p> <p>1. To bring about a cessation of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.</p> <p>2. To give support to the victims of sectarianism.</p> <p>3. To give women a "voice" in society.</p> <p>4. To create a pluralist society where there is mutual understanding and respect for our&nbsp; diversities.</p> <p>Pat and I became great friends and before long we were working with women from across the many divides, not only in Belfast but across Northern Ireland. We developed what we called Talking and Listening Circles, creating spaces where women could start to talk to one another about their lives, their difficulties bringing up children in a divided and sometimes dangerous society, their hopes, fears and dreams. We always encouraged open and honest dialogue. These were real women, real life situations, real pain, real fear, real challenges. We brought together women from across the divides in Northern Ireland, from the South and eventually from the Church of Scotland Guild as well: women engaged with sharing, shifting and shaping a society free from violent conflict, where every single person could feel at home and welcome. </p> <p>Inspired by our visit to the Ulster Hall in Belfast to see the Aids Memorial Quilt in 1991 – a deeply moving immense quilt where each piece told a story of a loved one lost to this cruel disease – we decided to work with women across our divides to weave our own quilt. This project took on a life of its own. We collectively crafted not one but three extremely special, inspiring, memory filled quilts, which to this day travel the world as a visual representation of peacebuilding and reconciliation. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/1.quilt_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/1.quilt_.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="364" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women Together's Northern Ireland Peace Quilt</span></span></span></p> <p>From the very early days of Women Together, the devastation of the violence and the tragic loss of life had deeply affected its members. Many had suffered loss themselves. As a little gesture of support, two women from the organisation, one Protestant and one Catholic, would go to the home of bereaved families and bring some flowers and say a very heartfelt sorry and let these families know they were thinking of them and working together to try and end the violence. We also organised many vigils following horrific events, always with the same message: end the violence and start the talking. In the aftermath of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrington_bomb_attacks">Warrington bombing</a> in England by the IRA on 20th March, 1993, which resulted in the death of two little boys, Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry, we organised a special service in St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast and walked together, Protestant and Catholic women, through Belfast City Centre, carrying a beautiful spray of white flowers which we lay in the Garden of Remembrance at City Hall. Following this tragedy we worked with the Parry and Ball families over several years to highlight the futility of violence and helped in the early development of the <a href="http://www.thepeacecentre.org.uk/">Warrington Peace Initiative</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/1.MrandMrsParry.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/1.MrandMrsParry.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="277" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mr and Mrs Parry at their son's grave.</span></span></span></p> <p>It was in the early 1990's that we became very conscious of the lack of support for families bereaved and injured in the violence that had been raging since 1969. We did our little bit and we knew of the work of CRUSE Bereavement Care and small community organisations doing what they could, but the lack of statutory support led us to start asking questions. We contacted Marion Gibson, then chair of Victim Support Northern Ireland, to ask why so little was available over twenty years after the beginning of the conflict. With Marion’s help, we managed to establish a working group to map the support available and identify the gaps in provision, of which there were many. The report from this working group raised the issue at government level and we were delighted that this led to the Bloomfield Report of April 1998, "<a href="http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/violence/victims.htm">We Will Remember Them</a>": the first serious effort to look at support in an ongoing way to victims and survivors of the conflict.</p> <p>On 9th January, 1992, the day started in the Women Together office as normal. Pat and I were working on a forthcoming women’s residential and Ann, our secretary, was getting the programme typed up.</p> <p>Pat left early to go with her husband Gerry to a hospital appointment and all was well until that telephone call, memories of which to this day send shivers down my spine. Pat’s 28-year-old son Philip, the youngest of five, an innocent young man working in his burger van on the Moira Roundabout near the airport, had been shot dead. Shot eight times in the back and the watch his mum bought for him for Christmas shot off his arm. Loyalist paramilitaries had carried out this vicious attack, on a defenseless young Catholic man, a chef by profession, making and serving burgers from a roadside van. Another senseless murder, part of the tit-for-tat madness that was so commonplace at this time.</p> <p>We did what we could to support Pat and her family through the nightmare days that followed. The media covered Philip’s death and the funeral and through the pain and the sorrow Pat vowed to keep on working to end this madness. Together we continued to build relationships of trust among women and to organize vigils in memory of those lost to violence from across our community and appeal for an end to violence and for the dialogue to begin.</p> <p>Throughout the mid 1990’s, spurred on by the tragic loss of Philip and so many other deaths and injuries, we in Women Together stepped up our campaigning and relationship-building work. We trained women in mediation, challenging sectarianism and racism, conflict transformation and used many creative processes to encourage understanding of difference. We held seminars in confidence building, personal development, public speaking and leadership. I represented women from Northern Ireland on the Women's National Commission, attending meetings with women from all over the UK on leadership, women's representation in politics and in public life. We did what we could to make visible the needs and demands of women from across the religious and community divides.</p> <p>We knew that women working together, being loud and bold and consistent in our message, would have an impact. </p><p><strong>See Part 2: '<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-carr/women-in-northern-ireland-should-be-leading-peacebuilders-again">Women in Northern Ireland should be leading peacebuilders again</a>'</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-carr/women-in-northern-ireland-should-be-leading-peacebuilders-again">Women in Northern Ireland should be leading peacebuilders again</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/niki-sethsmith/why-are-hopes-of-good-friday-peace-agreement-still-unfulfilled">Why are the hopes of the Good Friday Peace Agreement still unfulfilled? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-mcvicker/insulting-women-of-northern-ireland">Insulting the women of Northern Ireland </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/louise-mallinder/dealing-with-northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-past-guide-to-haasso%E2%80%99sullivan-talks">Dealing with Northern Ireland’s past: a guide to the Haass-O’Sullivan talks</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Women and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Anne Carr Fri, 16 May 2014 08:37:21 +0000 Anne Carr 82874 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nuclear non-proliferation in a time warp https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-nonproliferation-in-time-warp <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>On Friday, the UN-hosted meeting of around 140 of the 190 states that are party to the 1968 <a href="http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/NPT.shtml?lang=en">Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons</a>&nbsp; (NPT) ended with <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom14/documents/procedural-report.pdf">procedural successes</a>, but there was no agreement on the substantive issues, including nuclear disarmament, safety and security of nuclear technologies and the Middle East. It was good news that this meeting obtained early consensus on the agenda for the more important 2015 NPT Review Conference, scheduled for four weeks next April-May.&nbsp; It was also helpful that this meeting could agree on allocation of issues to committees, background documents and most of the conference posts for 2015. No-one has yet been nominated to chair the 2015 Review Conference, but it is expected that the African Group, whose turn it is, will soon put a name forward. </p> <p>The successes on getting procedural decisions adopted were not accompanied by any substantive agreements, however. The Chair, Peruvian Ambassador Enrique Roman-Morey, was obliged by the rules of procedure to seek consensus on recommendations for the 2015 Review Conference. He made a solid diplomatic effort to pull together a <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom14/documents/draft-recommendations.pdf">paper</a> summarising recommendations that he thought might be accepted. As with much of diplomacy, he used agreed language from previous meetings to paper over cracks in the most significant and contentious areas, and consulted with certain countries more than others. Common denominator compromises meant that all sides complained that the paper did not reflect their views, and failed to take account of important changes since the last review conference in 2010.&nbsp; </p> <p>The Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of mostly ‘global south’ countries argued that the Chair’s draft failed to reflect their groups’ proposals for more action on disarmament and the Middle East. They pointed out that the concrete undertaking in 2010 to hold a Conference in 2012 to discuss how to move forward towards ridding the Middle East of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had not been implemented, and there was still no date to hold the conference. They also wanted the recommendations to include an explicit call on Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear state. Nonetheless, they said they would be willing to use the draft text as a basis for continued negotiations.&nbsp; </p> <p>Ireland, speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) of six significant non-nuclear nations from Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Pacific, had submitted three important working papers, covering&nbsp; <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom14/documents/WP25.pdf">nuclear disarmament</a>, ‘<a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom14/documents/WP19.pdf">the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons: known risks and consequences</a>’, and ‘<a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom14/documents/WP18.pdf">Article VI of the NPT</a>’.&nbsp; Ambassador Patricia O’Brien joined others in publicly appreciating the Chair’s efforts, but expressing disappointment that developments since 2010 and most, if not all,&nbsp; the progressive proposals on disarmament had been left out.&nbsp; Ireland, Mexico and Egypt openly argued for devoting the remaining sessions of the PrepCom to negotiating more representative recommendations. By contrast, the United States and Russia argued that the draft’s weaknesses with regard to the Middle East and other issues would be impossible to resolve in the remaining time.&nbsp; Saying that it was more important to maintain the good atmosphere that characterised this meeting, they proposed that the draft should be reissued as a working paper, making clear that these were the Chair’s personal recommendations and not the product of collective negotiations.&nbsp; </p> <p>And that’s what happened. We got the rest of the day off, Roman-Morey improved his draft on the basis of the comments he had received, and this was issued as the Chair’s own recommendations to 2015 in <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom14/documents/WP46.pdf">Working Paper 46</a>. The next morning the PrepCom swiftly adopted the procedural decisions and finished early. </p> <p>By avoiding the contentious issues, the good atmosphere prevailed to the end. But at the expense of tackling the real world nuclear challenges that perpetuate nuclear weapons and undermine collective efforts to make concrete progress towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons, as mandated by this treaty and many UN resolutions. Despite earlier fears and predictions, the growing conflicts convulsing Ukraine and the military sabre rattling in the Pacific, did not visibly sour the atmosphere -&nbsp; though the issues bubbled just below the surface. </p> <p>Where nuclear issues are concerned, the ‘P5’ nuclear-armed Security Council members – the United States, Russia, France, China and the UK - increasingly bond together. There is a positive side to this. One of the highlights this week was the long-awaited signing by the P5 of negotiated security protocols for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, following negotiations on a <a href="http://cns.miis.edu/nwfz_clearinghouse/">Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone</a>.&nbsp; And it can be negative, such as the decisions these nuclear-armed states took to boycott the International Conferences on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons held in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/fetishists-of-nuclear-power-projection-have-had-their-day">Oslo in March 2013</a> and in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-point-of-no-return">Nayarit in February 2014</a>.&nbsp; All five have vested considerable political and economic resources in maintaining nuclear arsenals and status. Faced with growing pressure to comply in concrete ways with long-standing nuclear disarmament obligations under the NPT, the P5 delegations presented a united front, and highlighted their efforts, such as compiling a glossary of nuclear definitions they might one day be able to agree on. </p> <p>Their attitude epitomises what is wrong with the <a href="http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/NPT.shtml?lang=en">NPT</a>.&nbsp; It is generally agreed that it served a useful purpose in the past, particularly in the years between 1968 and 1995.&nbsp; But what role does the NPT play now?&nbsp; Many now argue that the decision to extend the treaty, and make it permanent in 1995, was a strategic mistake that embedded the privileges of nuclear-armed states at the expense of the vast majority of nuclear free nations. </p> <p>The entry into force of the NPT in 1970 undoubtedly influenced the nuclear policies of governments and helped to constrain the spread of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. But the burden of obligations have always fallen more heavily on nuclear free countries. The “P5” use the NPT to justify their nuclear weapons policies, including modernisation of arsenals.&nbsp; And because the NPT invented a two tier system with different requirements for five defined ‘nuclear-weapon states’ and the rest, it lets states off the hook if they refuse to sign, as India, Pakistan and Israel have done. And when faced with North Korea announcing its withdrawal in 2002, and then its nuclear weapons production and testing, the NPT parties appeared weak and toothless. </p> <p>The two-tier regime might have seemed practical in the Cold War, but it has fed into nationalist arguments that obstruct and weaken non-proliferation and disarmament efforts in the post-Cold War world. The NPT requires disarmament and non-proliferation, but doesn’t even mention the use, deployment or stockpiling of nuclear weapons. So the countries that already possess the weapons argue that it’s permissible to carry on with active modernisation and deployment operations, as well as doctrines of “deterrence” that involve nuclear targeting and sharing bombs as part of military alliances with “non-nuclear” weapon states. In the absence of disarmament, is it any wonder that nuclear weapons look desirable to some leaders?&nbsp; </p> <p>As <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom14/statements/28April_NAC.pdf">Ireland’s ambassador to the NPT, Patricia O’Brien stated</a>, the “security reasons” given by nuclear-armed states are “in effect, an unintended invitation to proliferate”.&nbsp; Ireland is credited as the key diplomatic originator of the resolution that gave rise to the NPT.&nbsp; Ireland also founded the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Agenda_Coalition">New Agenda Coalition</a> in 1998, working closely with civil society from around the world to drive an innovative and successful strategy to get agreement at the 2000 NPT Review Conference on a multifaceted programme of <a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/dd/dd46/46npt.htm">“thirteen steps”</a> to achieve nuclear disarmament, which the P5 nuclear-armed states agreed to. The ease with which the P5 have ignored those agreements in the past 14 years has contributed to undermining the NPT. </p> <p>Though many of the challenges are political, it has to be recognised that the NPT’s structure is a big part of the problem. </p> <p>In failing to prohibit the use, deployment, and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, the NPT is way behind more recent international disarmament treaties, including the other WMD treaties that prohibit biological and chemical weapons and require their total elimination. By instituting two different classes of state, and failing to create the kind of universally applicable obligations prohibiting use that are found in other global treaties, the NPT gets in the way of nuclear prohibitions, and obligations becoming universalised. One reason for promoting negotiations on a universally applicable nuclear weapons ban treaty is to create universally applicable, non-discriminatory international law. </p> <p>As we saw recently with chemical weapons, the use of those WMD in Syria was addressed legally through applying the <a href="http://www.opcw.org/">Chemical Weapons Convention</a> (CWC) even though the Syrian government had not (at that time) signed the CWC. The NPT can’t play that important role under international common law because the prohibitions and obligations apply differently to certain states. North Korea, India and Pakistan are happy to say they would join the NPT as ‘nuclear-weapon states’, but will not accept non-nuclear obligations under that treaty. Israel is a ‘free rider’ on the regime, able to exert pressure on US positions from the comfort of a ringside seat, as NPT meetings wrestle unproductively to make progress on making the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons.&nbsp; </p> <p>In view of the importance and attention given to the NPT by so many of our governments, civil society is stuck in a double bind.&nbsp; Having tried to make the regime work better and deliver progress on disarmament, we’re stuck with almost annual meetings and five-yearly review conferences that absorb considerable resources without achieving much in the real world. There’s a large ‘business-as-usual’ industry attached to the NPT in many of the nuclear-armed and alliance states, co-opting and trapping too many academics and NGOs in the non-proliferation narrative dominated by the P5. This is fuelled by funders that have downgraded peace and disarmament, and increasingly make the NPT and US-Russian arms reductions their priorities for grants.&nbsp; Ignoring the NPT, or carping from the sidelines, isn’t the answer either -&nbsp; since that just renders civil society invisible as far as most governments are concerned.&nbsp; </p> <p>The run up to the 2015 NPT Review Conference provides us with unprecedented opportunities, as well as challenges. It may look like a game played by governments and NGOs, but the humanitarian stakes are deadly serious. Austria’s ambassador Alexander Kmentt chose this PrepCom to invite all governments and relevant civil society to participate in the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, which will be held in Vienna on 8-9 December. The next year will see the NPT circus create a great deal of sound and fury, but probably not much else. If the Chair’s recommendations from this PrepCom are the most the P5 will accept, what will happen? </p> <p>The many NGOs that have become partners in the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/icanw.org">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons</a> recognise that to carry the governments we need, we have to connect humanitarian initiatives for a globally applicable treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons with the existing partially applicable NPT regime. As before, it will be a juggling act for civil society to be informed enough to exercise influence without becoming co-opted, irrelevant, or sunk under the NPT’s flawed premises and vested interests. This will be a major challenge in the coming year. </p> <p>Governments are fond of calling the NPT the cornerstone of non-proliferation. Cornerstones need to be built on, or they end up as stumbling blocks half hidden in weeds. So let’s use the NPT cornerstone to construct more secure walls, and fix in place a higher, broader roof for the world without nuclear weapons that people all over the world want. </p> <p>In 2015 we cannot let the NPT carry on being a stumbling block used by nuclear-armed states to break disarmament’s legs! </p><p><strong><em>Read Rebecca Johnson's series of in-depth articles on</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-non-proliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation</a></strong></p><p><strong><em>Read more articles on <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a> exploring women's critical perspectives on peace, justice and equality</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/peacework-human-security">Peacework and Human Security</a></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-this-time-lip-service-will-not-be-enough">Banning nuclear weapons: this time lip service will not be enough</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/uk-governments-stand-against-humanitarian-disarmament">The UK government&#039;s stand against humanitarian disarmament </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/to-eliminate-wmd-we-need-to-disarm-patriarchy">To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jody-williams/jody-williams-true-path-to-nuclear-non-proliferation">Jody Williams: The true path to nuclear non-proliferation </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-banning-nuclear-tests-to-banning-nuclear-weapons">From banning nuclear tests to banning nuclear weapons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-toothless-in-face-of-real-world-dangers">NPT: toothless in the face of real world dangers </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cunacceptable-and-continuous-failure%E2%80%9D-egypt-walks-out">The NPT’s “unacceptable and continuous failure”: Egypt walks out</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-and-risks-to-human-survival-inside-story">NPT and risks to human survival: the inside story </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/fetishists-of-nuclear-power-projection-have-had-their-day">The fetishists of nuclear power projection have had their day</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/is-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime-fit-for-purpose">Is the nuclear non-proliferation regime fit for purpose? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-challenging-nuclear-powers-fiefdom">NPT: challenging the nuclear powers&#039; fiefdom</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/standing-on-threshold-banning-nuclear-weapons">Standing on the threshold: banning nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/summoning-political-will-to-rid-middle-east-of-wmd">Summoning political will to rid the Middle East of WMD</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/north-korea-and-trident-challenging-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime">North Korea and Trident: challenging the nuclear non-proliferation regime </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-fukushima-to-hinkley-point">From Fukushima to Hinkley Point</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 openSecurity 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Tue, 13 May 2014 08:03:27 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 82762 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Peacework: women in action across Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/peacework-women-in-action-across-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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 <a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/">Women in Black</a> conference in Belgium on a critical moment for Europe’s future. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/DSC_8790.jpg" alt="A hundred women, dressed in black, with banners and flags " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Over 100 Women in Black (<a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/en/vigil">WiB</a>) from 22 countries met in Leuven, Belgium to discuss challenges to peace and security in Europe, and of people around the world suffering the impact of European economic and military policies. Deeply concerned at the levels of militarism and nationalistic and sexual violence in our countries, the European conference called for the full engagement of women at all levels of negotiations to promote nonviolent solutions that address the causes of conflict and build peace and justice.&nbsp; </p> <p>The international <a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/">Women in Black</a> - <em>For Justice, Against War</em> network was forged out of opposition to militarism and ethnic cleansing in Israel-Palestine, then the Balkans.&nbsp; Opening on May Day, in the 100th anniversary year of the destruction of Leuven in World War 1, the European conference explored critical issues for Europe. These included Ukraine’s recent crises, Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestine, and European arms sales and military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, DR Congo and Mali…. to name just a few.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/DSC_8110.jpg" alt="Women in a workshop session discussing one of the topics" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Key themes included the expansion of NATO, implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, lesbians in the peace movement, and feminist activism against nuclear weapons and militarism in Europe.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Women against NATO <br /></strong></p> <p>Cynthia Cockburn from WiB London led a workshop on the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (<a href="http://www.nato.int/">NATO</a>). Women who organised <a href="http://www.no-to-nato.org/en">against</a> the Strasbourg NATO Summit in 2009 made the case that NATO perpetrated wars that had dire and gendered effects, and increased the militarisation of the EU and the risk of war through its patriarchal logic and language of enmity. NATO has expanded to include 12 ‘Eastern bloc’ countries, 28 countries in all, and is trying to secure control of the melting Arctic by putting pressure on Finland and Sweden to join. </p> <p>The current NATO Strategic Plan pursues full-spectrum dominance worldwide through its ‘Mediterranean Dialogue’ (Israel and North Africa), ‘Istanbul Initiative’ (Middle East) and ‘Partnership for Peace’ (Japan, South Korea etc) arrangements, as well as approaches to Caribbean and South American countries. Increasing interference in former Soviet states like Armenia and Azerbaijan, the continued NATO commitment to nuclear weapons, and the conflict with Russia over Ukraine mean that peace and security are increasingly threatened. </p> <p><strong>Peace Event Sarajevo 2014</strong></p><p>The largest international peace event in 2014 will take place in <a href="http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/">Sarajevo, June 6 - 9th </a>with over 170 workshops, arts activities and a youth camp. A century after the beginning of World War I and two decades after the end of the bloodiest war in Europe since World War II, 1914-2014 can be seen as a century of a “<em>Culture of War and Violence</em>”. This event will bring together world-wide peace movements, nonviolent actions and alternatives to war and violence.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Action against the NATO summit in Wales <br /></strong></p> <p>A week of activities organised by <a href="http://www.no-to-nato.org/en">No to Nato</a> from August 30th – September 5th against the NATO summit in Newport, Wales, on September 4-5th. There will be 60 world leaders, including President Obama, attending the summit. Plans include two counter conferences in Newport on August 30th and Cardiff on September 1st, both with sessions on women and militarism; a demonstration in Newport on August 30 th; and a peace camp during the week of action. European Women in Black groups agreed to hold vigils and demonstrations outside parliaments in their own countries at the same time.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>UN Security Council Resolution 1325 <br /></strong></p> <p>London and Belgrade Women in Black presented a workshop carrying forward the resolution made at the international WiB conference in Montevideo, to launch a campaign <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">against the immunity of peacekeeping forces from prosecution</a> for rape and sexual exploitation. They showed that despite attempts by the UN, including Kofi Annan's zero tolerance policy, and measures set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1325, to prevent and prohibit sexual violence, and punish the perpetrators, abuses still continue to be reported. <a href="http://www.unfpa.org/women/1325.html">Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security</a> (passed in 2000 following pressure from 40 women’s organisations) promotes the <em>prevention</em> of sexual violence, human trafficking, domestic violence and other forms of violence primarily affecting women and girls in conflict-affected contexts, the <em>protection</em> of women and girls from such acts, and the <em>participation</em> of women in conflict-resolution and security enforcement strategies. Although some progress has been made since the first reports came out of post-war Bosnia, troop contributing countries are still failing to prosecute their peacekeepers. </p> <p>WiB agreed to take part in an action on UN day, and to write letters to their governments calling for an end to impunity.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions </strong></p><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/DSC_8884.jpg" alt="Two women stand arm-in-arm holding a sign each: one in English, one in Arabic. The one in English says: Stop the Occupation" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></strong>Marijke Kruyt from the Netherlands introduced different aspects of <a href="http://www.bdsmovement.net/">Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions</a> (BDS) that many WiB groups are working on: </p><p><strong>Boycott </strong>- personal economic boycott of goods from Israel, cultural boycott of Israeli artists and cultural institutions, academic boycott of Israeli academics (who work in Israeli universities) and research collaborations, and sports boycott. </p> <p><strong>Divestment</strong> - lobbying companies to stop investing and collaborating with Israeli companies, purchasing/distributing/selling Israeli products etc. </p> <p><strong>Sanctions </strong>-<strong> </strong>EU regulations are in place but not enforced. </p> <p>Sama Aweidah from the Women’s Studies Centre in East Jerusalem reported that in 2005 they started to work around BDS, with the aim of alerting and informing the world about what is happening in Palestine. She sketched the economic background: in 1967/8 Palestinians left or were made to leave working on the land, to get work for higher wages in Israeli factories, and this trend is difficult to reverse. Much of the land they left is now occupied by settlers. Today, Palestinians work mostly in the Israeli settlements, as it’s easier to get permits for work there than for work in Israel (especially for women). </p> <p class="ListParagraph">Another Palestinian speaker, Nabila Espanioly, stressed the need for international solidarity to put pressure on the Israeli government, and to fight for human rights, and that any campaign from the ‘outside’ helps Palestinians ‘inside’ and also helps to break down their isolation. She suggested that <a href="http://www.whoprofits.org/">checking out companies and products</a> can help to develop BDS strategies and priorities. </p> <p>Yvonne Deutsch (Israel) explained that in the wake of the effect of the <a href="http://www.whoprofits.org/">Who Profits</a> website, Israeli laws were changed to ensure that anyone calling for a boycott can be sued by someone who claims to be negatively affected by the boycott. This makes is very difficult to organize a boycott from inside Israel, so the focus of WiB Israel is to ‘end the occupation’. Participants agreed to lobby MEPS to enforce the agreed sanctions.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Lesbians in the peace movement <br /></strong></p> <p>Lepa Mladjenovic (Serbia) and Rebecca Johnson (London) led a workshop about discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transexuals (LGBT). Audre Lord said that each one of us has some power, as little as it may be, and it is our responsibility to define it and use it in the service of what needs to be changed. </p> <p>Key actions agreed included supporting LGBT rights in countries where it is a criminal offence, and supporting refugee lesbians/gays to gain asylum from countries where they are defined as criminals.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Feminist activism against nuclear weapons and militarism in Europe <br /></strong></p> <p>Rebecca Johnson and Heena Thompson from WiB London facilitated a workshop on the ways that militarism disproportionately harms women’s lives, needs and security. Nuclear weapons have reinforced militarism for the last 70 years. Over a 1000 nuclear weapons are deployed across Europe and neighbouring countries: in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey and Russia. Crises from the Ukraine to the Middle East are used to boost support for more militarism and nuclear weapons. Governments are cutting health, education and other services that support women’s needs and security, while spending billions on keeping and renewing nuclear weapons in Europe. </p> <p>Participants agreed that information on the costs of militarisation was key to successful campaigning – as well as information about the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons. 146 countries had met in Mexico in February as part of a new Humanitarian process to lay down the basis for an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons led by the non-nuclear states. </p> <p><strong>Action at Aldermaston Weapons Establishment on August 9th <br /></strong></p> <p>On Saturday August 9th - the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki – the <a href="http://www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk/">Wool Against Weapons</a> action will see thousands of people hold a pink knitted Peace Scarf running between Aldermaston Weapons Establishment and Burghfield (another Nuclear Weapons Establishment site 7 miles away) in Berkshire – to protest against the UK’s ongoing involvement with nuclear weapons, and the money the UK Government is intending to spend on <a href="http://www.awe.org/">renewing Trident nuclear missiles</a> (over £100 billion) The seven miles of pink scarves (1 metre x 60cm) will be recycled to create blankets for homeless people and refugees afterwards. </p> <p>The European WiB conference ended with a demonstration and flashmob dancing in the main square of Leuven, followed by a Reception at the gothic town hall hosted by the Deputy Mayor. She talked about the devastation that war had brought to Leuven and thanked the Leuven women, and all Women in Black, for their continuing contribution to peace.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/en/London">Women in Black in London</a> continues its <em>21st year of weekly vigils</em>, on Wednesdays from 6 – 7 pm around the Edith Cavell statue in St Martin’s Place London WC2 (near Trafalgar Square). All are welcome ! </p> <p>We will be taking the lovely peace bells used at the European conference to the next international Women in Black conference in Bangalore, India, in November 2015.</p><p><em>Read more articles on <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a> exploring women's critical perspectives on peace, justice and equality</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/peacework-human-security">Peacework and Human Security</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/niki-sethsmith/why-are-hopes-of-good-friday-peace-agreement-still-unfulfilled">Why are the hopes of the Good Friday Peace Agreement still unfulfilled? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/quest-for-gender-just-peace-from-impunity-to-accountability">The quest for gender-just peace: from impunity to accountability </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/vanina-serra/peacebuilding-factor-that-makes-difference">Peacebuilding: The factor that makes a difference </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/no-woman%E2%80%99s-body-should-be-battlefield">No woman’s body should be a battlefield</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/peacebuilding-and-nation-state-towards-nonviolent-world">Peacebuilding and the nation-state: towards a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/plotting-for-woman-shaped-peace-syrian-and-bosnian-women-confer">Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/to-eliminate-wmd-we-need-to-disarm-patriarchy">To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/women-and-language-of-peace-protest">Women and the language of peace protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. We’re tired of war&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp-jessica-nhkum/daring-to-speak-militarism-and-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-burma">Daring to speak: militarism and women’s human rights in Burma</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/beyond-war-women-transforming-militarism-building-nonviolent-world">Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/patriarchy-and-militarism-in-egypt-from-street-to-government">Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ndeye-marie-thiam/women-of-senegal-agents-of-peace">Women of Senegal: agents of peace </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/foundation-of-human-security-in-every-society">The foundation of human security in every society</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender justice patriarchy violence against women women and militarism women and power women's human rights women's movements women's work Sue Finch Liz Khan Fri, 09 May 2014 08:27:54 +0000 Liz Khan and Sue Finch 82615 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Dealing with Northern Ireland’s past: a guide to the Haass-O’Sullivan talks https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/louise-mallinder/dealing-with-northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-past-guide-to-haasso%E2%80%99sullivan-talks <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In late 2013, negotiations seeking to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland failed to reach agreement. As part of our <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/women-and-peace-building-in-northern-ireland">series</a> 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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em></em><strong>Why now?</strong></p> <p>Fifteen years after the Good Friday Agreement, the latter half of 2013 saw a new round of political negotiations in Northern Ireland, in which local politicians grappled with the legacy of the past. These negotiations were launched following growing concerns over the security situation. For example, the Belfast City Council decision in December 2012 to fly the Union Flag at City Hall only on designated days (rather than every day) triggered repeated civil unrest by Loyalist communities across Northern Ireland. Furthermore, threats posed mostly by dissident Republicans resulted in the Army’s bomb disposal team being called to an average of more than one security alert per day during 2013. Many in Northern Irish society linked these ongoing threats to unresolved issues from the peace process.</p> <p>There was also growing dissatisfaction with existing mechanisms to address the past. For example, a <a href="http://www.dojni.gov.uk/justice-minister-responds-to-review-report-on-historical-enquiries-team">damning report</a> by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary on the Historical Enquiries Team (a body established by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to investigate all conflict-related deaths) had raised serious questions over whether the institution was fit for purpose.</p> <p>In this context, the Northern Irish political parties tasked themselves with reaching an agreement on parades, flags and dealing with the past. This was the first time such an initiative had been led by local actors. The negotiations, known formally as the Panel of the Parties of the Northern Ireland Executive, or more colloquially as the Haass-O’Sullivan talks after the negotiation chairs (Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan), lasted from July to December 2013. The parties made significant progress in several areas, but were unable to reach a consensus on all aspects by the agreed deadline of 31 December 2013. Following the deadline, the last draft of the proposed agreement was published. <strong></strong></p> <p><strong>Assumptions underpinning the draft agreement</strong></p> <p>Throughout the draft agreement, a number of underpinning assumptions are articulated to justify the proposed recommendations. In brief, these assumptions are that Northern Irish society remains divided, fifteen years after the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and that these divisions are contributing to political instability and civil unrest. The promises made in our peace agreements have not been fully delivered and members of society are still “struggling” with needs resulting from the conflict. Failure to act will increase levels of public disengagement with political institutions and processes. Finally, the passage of time adds urgency to these proposals, particularly since many persons with knowledge of past crimes have already died. </p> <p><strong>Parades</strong></p><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/parades.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/parades.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Orange Order parade, Belfast. Demotix / Stephen Barnes</span></span></span></strong></p><p>In addressing parading, the draft agreement was careful to recognise that this is an important cultural and historical tradition for many in Northern Irish society. It also situated its proposals squarely within the framework of international human rights law. In doing so, it suggested that the guarantees for freedom of expression and assembly under the European Convention on Human Rights must be balanced against freedom from sectarian harassment and right to respect for private and family life for those who oppose a parade. </p><p>The Panel’s proposals called for new Northern Irish legislation to establish a Code of Conduct and create two new institutions. The first institution, the Office for Parades, Select Commemorations and Related Protests, would receive all event notifications for parades and would seek to streamline approval for non-contentious events. If disputes arose, the Office could facilitate dialogue between event organisers and local communities, and if necessary, refer the parties to outside mediators.</p> <p>Where mediation efforts are unsuccessful, the Office would refer contentious parades to the second institution, the Authority for Public Events Adjudication. This body would be headed by a lawyer and composed of other members of the community. It would be tasked with hearing representations from interested parties and adjudicating based on human rights standards and transparent criteria. It would be able to order that events be changed or cancelled. Its decisions would be subject to judicial review.</p> <p>The proposed Code of Conduct for parades would require participants to abide by decisions of the Authority and the rule of law, to refrain from wearing paramilitary clothing, to respect the rights of others, and to demonstrate sensitivity at interface areas, places of worship, war memorials, and cemeteries.</p> <p><strong>Flags and Emblems</strong></p><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BelfastCityHallflag.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BelfastCityHallflag.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Union Jack flown at Belfast City Hall. Demotix / Stephen Barnes</span></span></span></strong></p><p>The negotiators identified two discrete issues under this theme: the flying of flags on official buildings and the unofficial display of flags and emblems in public spaces. They were unable to reach consensus on either issue. The draft agreement suggests this is due to the relationship of flags and emblems to broader ideas of sovereignty and identity that were beyond the Terms of Reference of the talks. </p><p>On this basis, the draft agreement proposed the creation of a Commission on Identity, Culture, and Tradition. The goal of this body would be to increase the understanding among citizens of the appropriateness and importance of identities in Northern Irish society by holding public and televised discussions across Northern Ireland on issues related to identity, culture and tradition. The draft agreement proposed a number of issues that could be topics of discussion. This list included gender, which is the only place where gender is explicitly mentioned in the draft agreement.</p> <p><strong>Dealing with the Past</strong></p> <p>This is the most substantive part of the draft agreement and occupies almost half of the document. It contains a number of different issues that will each be dealt with below.<strong><em></em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>(1) Support for Victims and Survivors</em></strong></p> <p>The section begins by highlighting the leadership role that many victims and survivors have played in the Northern Ireland transition. It then notes that many of them continue to “suffer from physical disabilities, emotional trauma, social anxiety, and other concerns stemming from the conflict”. The draft agreement endorses the recommendations of the Commission for Victims and Survivors (CVS) for improving the Victims and Survivors Service. In addition, it calls for the CVS to establish or fund a Mental Trauma Service and consider the needs of the injured. This section concludes by noting that the parties could not reach agreement on who could be considered a “victim”.</p> <p><strong><em>(2) Acknowledgement</em></strong></p><p><strong><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Shankillmural.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Shankillmural.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="510" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mural commemorating victims on the Shankill Road</span></span></span><br /></em></strong></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/rubberbullets.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/rubberbullets.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Remembering victims on the Falls Road</span></span></span></p><p>The draft agreement asserts that there is an enduring desire among victims and survivors for acknowledgements from individuals, paramilitary organisations and governments responsible for deaths, injuries and the loss of homes and businesses. It further contends that the absence of meaningful acknowledgement is undermining public trust in political leaders and the peace process.</p> <p>The drafters of the agreement were careful to note that all parties to the conflict were not equally responsible for the harms experienced by victims and survivors. The agreement further asserts that requiring both states and paramilitary organisations to acknowledge the suffering caused by their actions does mean that the blame for past violence is equally shared between these groups.</p> <p>The draft agreement then sets out some conditions for acceptable forms of acknowledgement, stating that it should be an unqualified acceptance of responsibility, express an understanding of the human consequences for individuals and society and include sincere expression of remorse. The draft agreement further encourages individuals, organisations and governments to work together on issuing acknowledgement statements “including by discussing language, timing, and other matters in private before public statements are made”.</p> <p>Finally, the agreement asserts a hope that statements of acknowledgement by public officials and the leaders of paramilitary organisations will encourage members of these institutions to participate in the information retrieval process (see below).<strong><em></em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>(3) Justice</em></strong></p> <p>In response to the challenges and criticisms faced by existing processes to investigate conflict-related deaths and historic complaints against the police, the draft agreement proposes that the work of the Historical Enquiries Team and the historical unit of the Office of the Police Ombudsmen would be replaced by a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU). Other existing processes to deal with the past (ie coroner’s inquests and the British and Irish governments’ discretion to establish public inquiries) would be unchanged.</p> <p>The HIU would be empowered to conduct thorough, <a href="http://www.yourrights.org.uk/yourrights/the-human-rights-act/the-convention-rights/article-2-right-to-life.html">Article 2-compliant</a><strong> </strong>reviews and investigations. These powers would enable it to be independent from the Police Service. It would initially focus its investigations on reviews that have not yet been completed by the HET or OPONI, but following this work, families could request that it reopen previously completed reviews where there are concerns that those investigations were flawed or where new evidence comes to light. In addition, the HIU will initially focus on conflict-related deaths, but once these reviews are completed and if resources permit, it may also review situations resulting in serious injury. In all cases, if sufficient evidence is found, the HIU could refer a case to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).</p> <p>The HIU would review all cases within its remit. Victims and survivors could decide whether to opt into this process<strong>.</strong> If they declined to opt in, they would not be notified of the progress or results of a case review, except where a case is referred to the PPS. If they opted in, they would be offered the services of an advocate-counsellor unconnected with any work on their file who could provide logistical guidance and emotional support through each stage of the process. Following the conclusion of the review, if the case was not referred to the PPS, they would receive “a report outlining the extent of information known about the case as it affected them”. The review process could also produce more general reports to be shared with persons who were injured in the same event should they wish to receive them. </p><p>This section concludes by noting that “The passage of time and loss of evidence through decommissioning, decay, destruction of evidence, and other means will often mean that there is too little admissible evidence for the prosecutor to proceed with a trial”. It is due to these concerns that the draft agreement proposes a separate information recovery process.<strong><em></em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>(4) Information Recovery</em></strong></p> <p>The draft agreement calls for the creation of an Independent Commission for Information Recovery (ICIR), led by an international person of high calibre, to create opportunities to retrieve as much information as possible. Individual cases could be initiated before this commission in two ways:</p> <p>Victims and survivors could opt into the process (before, during or after review of their case by HIU), which would prompt the commission to liaise with its designated intermediaries within organisations and governments, “who will seek out individuals within their networks who may have information relevant to the request”.</p> <p>Individuals, current and former paramilitaries, members of political parties, NGOs, and current and former state employees with information about violent acts could approach the commission directly or through an intermediary.</p> <p>Unlike the HIU, the ICIR will be entirely separate from the criminal justice system. Where individuals provide information to the Commission, they would be offered “limited immunity”. This means that any statements that they provide would be inadmissible in criminal or civil court proceedings. This would apply to the person who provided the evidence as well as to any other individual identified in the information provided. However, this would not shield individuals from legal proceedings based on evidence coming to light from other sources. Individuals who provided testimony would also be given the opportunity to do so anonymously. The commission would question all persons providing information and will cross-check their testimony against other sources of evidence before issuing any reports.</p> <p>In addition to seeking information in individual cases, the ICIR would also have a Themes Unit, which would be tasked with investigating the causes and patterns of violence, and revealing institutional responsibility. This Unit would be able to select its own themes to investigate on the basis of documentary evidence and testimony gathered by the ICIR, or in response to recommendations from the Implementation and Reconciliation Group. The draft agreement suggests the following possible themes:</p> <ul><li>&nbsp;- Collusion</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- “Ethnic cleansing” in borders and interface areas</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- “Shoot-to-kill” policy</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Targeting off duty security force personnel</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Ireland’s support for IRA</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Intra-community violence by paramilitaries</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Use of lethal force</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Detention without trial</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Mistreatment of detainees and prisoners</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Disappeared</li><li> </li><li>&nbsp;- Financing and arms for paramilitaries</li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><p>The Themes Unit would publish a report addressing all themes investigated and it would also report on the degree of cooperation with this process by governments and paramilitary organisations.<strong><em></em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>(5) Narratives and Archives</em></strong></p> <p>To document the lived experiences of the conflict for persons across Northern Irish society, the draft agreement proposes that the NI Executive establish an “archive for conflict-related oral histories, documents, and other relevant materials from individuals of all backgrounds, from Northern Ireland and beyond, who wish to share their experiences connected with the conflict”. This archive would be independent from political interference. It would collate individual narratives but would not analyse them to establish a common narrative or “fact-check” individual testimonie. It would provide an online resource for historians, genealogists, writers and members of the public. </p><p>There would be a “screening process” to make sure that inflammatory or irrelevant material is not accepted into the archive. Legislation would be adopted to protect individuals from self-incrimination or libel claims and individuals would have a choice over when their contributions became publicly available.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>The final stages of the draft agreement proposed that an Implementation and Reconciliation Group be created within six months of the parties endorsing the agreement. This group would be composed of politicians from parties in Executive, plus representatives of victims, NGOs and other parties. It would be empowered to monitor and advise the institutions set up under the agreement.</p> <p>Following the<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-25556714"> failure of the parties to reach a consensus </a>by 31 December 2013, the negotiators continued to meet on a weekly basis and asserted their commitment to reaching an agreement. However, progress stalled in February 2014 when the revelation of the administrative process to review the evidence against individuals who were suspected of being “on-the-run” from criminal proceedings for conflict-related offences <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-26376541">provoked a political crisis</a>. This administrative process is now the subject of a judicial inquiry which is due to report after the May 2014 European Parliament and local government elections. It seems unlikely that progress will be made on the Haass-O’Sullivan proposals before the inquiry reports. However, given the pressures outlined at the start of this article, this process cannot be shelved indefinitely. Indeed, the recent political crises over the On-the-Runs makes clear how fundamental addressing the legacy of the past is for the legitimacy and stability of Northern Ireland’s political institutions.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-mcvicker/insulting-women-of-northern-ireland">Insulting the women of Northern Ireland </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/niki-sethsmith/why-are-hopes-of-good-friday-peace-agreement-still-unfulfilled">Why are the hopes of the Good Friday Peace Agreement still unfulfilled? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Northern Ireland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Northern Ireland Civil society Conflict Equality Women and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism patriarchy feminism 50.50 newsletter Louise Mallinder Thu, 08 May 2014 09:44:25 +0000 Louise Mallinder 82383 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Insulting the women of Northern Ireland https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-mcvicker/insulting-women-of-northern-ireland <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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". </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This article is part of 5050's series on <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/women-and-peacebuilding-in-northern-ireland" target="_blank">women and peacebuilding in Northern Ireland</a>. </em></p><p><strong><em></em>On International Women's Day this year in Belfast, loyalists directed racist abuse at Anna Lo, a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). There was a rally from the Art College to Belfast City Hall, where the women were to be welcomed by the Lord Mayor. I hear there was a problem with loyalist <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/5050/niki-sethsmith/why-are-hopes-of-good-friday-peace-agreement-still-unfulfilled">flag protesters</a>? <br /></strong></p> <p>Well it just so happened that the flag protesters took over. They placed themselves strategically where our stage was. The crowd started to take control and edge forward to force the flag protesters back - the crowd was absolutely brilliant. The Lord Mayor wanted to meet the rally as has happened ever year, but security had come out and said to me that given that the flag protesters were there, it could be quite volatile if the Lord Mayor came out. I said that's okay, there was a reception later at City Hall and he could meet us there. I had forgotten about Anna Lo. </p> <p><strong>Anna Lo is a member of the <a href="http://allianceparty.org/">Alliance Party</a> and has recently <a href="http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/flags-row-sours-giro-ditalia-as-alliance-mla-anna-lo-targeted-by-racist-thugs-30022161.html">come under attack</a> for proposing that flags and sectarian murals be removed on the route of the Giro d'Italia cycling tour to be held this month. Was that the issue that fuelled the abuse against her?</strong>&nbsp; </p><p>Number one, she's Alliance, then there's how the flag debate started. And she's Chinese. They started to turn on her: they said, "Go back to China, you Chink", absolutely awful. Anna couldn't actually get off the stage. We were trying to get the police - there was only one set of steps so that was the way she had to exit. The police weren't prepared to get involved. Someone doesn't need to touch you for it to be an assault - they were shouting into her face, and there were things thrown on stage, empty coffee cups aimed at Anna. I have to say she got a great reception [from the rally crowd]. It was people from the rally that made the corridor that got her down the steps. We, the rally organisers, have put in a complaint with the police, which will go to the Ombudsman.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/annalopeaceful.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/annalopeaceful.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>International Women's Day, Anna Lo is far right. Demotix / Seah Harkin</span></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IWD flag protesters.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IWD flag protesters.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>International Women's Day rally with flag protestors. Demotix / Stephen Barnes</span></span></span></p><p><strong>So there are several factors here: her gender, her race, and her decision to <a href="http://sluggerotoole.com/2014/03/20/anna-lo-a-united-ireland-would-be-better-placed-economically-socially-and-politically/">discuss issues</a> she has said herself, "a lot of people are maybe scared of speaking out about".</strong>&nbsp; </p><p>Anna is a brave woman. Today, she made a comment that Ireland is a very small place; it would make more sense for it to be united. They're all on the radio, on the <em>Nolan Show,</em> on <em>The View</em> last night, saying ‘how dare she, how dare she make a statement like that?’</p> <p><strong>Didn't the abuse also show disrespect to women more generally, given that this was International Women's Day and women were being silenced?</strong>&nbsp; </p><p>Yes it was. There was a young speaker, Meadhbh Bermingham, only twenty, talking about her experience as a young gay woman. There were people saying 'pack o' lezzies'. Usually the reception in the City Hall would be around 100 people. Because of what happened it was crowded, last count it was 380 and we ended up in a bigger room, the ballroom. It was great; everyone had a great time. </p> <p><strong>Given that encounter, how can women in Northern Ireland and women's groups reach out to the flag protesters? </strong></p> <p>This has been going on since the Christmas before last. They're still assembling every Saturday [outside Belfast City Hall] and there'll be more of them if they know something's going on. We need to go back to basics with them: talk. Even at the [International Woman's Day] rally there were conversations going on. One of the flag protesters said 'this doesn't concern me, I've got two sons'. Someone from the rally said, 'if you had daughters, wouldn't you want them to be treated like your sons are?' It's really about going back to basics.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/RealAnneMcVicker.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/RealAnneMcVicker.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="393" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anne McVicker. Demotix / Sean Harkin</span></span></span></p><p><strong>Women's centres continue to play a a crucial part in the work of peace building and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Yet there appears to be a deliberate move by the government to &nbsp;de-politicise the women's centres. </strong></p> <p>That's been going on for a long time. I remember back when I was director of <a href="http://www.shankillwomenscentre.org.uk/">Shankill Women's Centre</a>. It must have been about 1996 and we were about to go into a partnership with the North and West Health and Social Services Trust and move into this big social services building. It was a really big jump for us. I remember being put under pressure from social services: 'Can you not call yourselves a family centre?' It would have made it easier but we stuck to our guns. Now some of the centres work with men. That takes services and resources away from women and children. I object to that. There are already agencies that provide services for men. Some of the women's centres have lost their way. </p> <p>But women's centres are doing great work in education, training, support, drop-ins - they have different specialisms: some specialise in counselling, or have excellent advice provision… some really innovative work is going on. In terms of welfare reform, through RTA (Reclaim the Agenda) we have been bringing women's centres together, protesting, doing pickets at various government offices. The protest against the Welfare Reform Bill belongs really to the women's centres.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Through the <a href="http://opendemocracy.net/5050/louise-mallinder/dealing-with-northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-past-guide-to-haasso%E2%80%99sullivan-talks">Haass-O'Sullivan talks</a>, there is a new commitment from government to ‘Deal with the Past’. Are women's voices being listened to here? </strong></p> <p>You have to remember that the political parties invited Haass; it was never intended to be based in the community. The whole process was about the parties getting agreement….you have a dearth of women in the political parties, there were only two women at the talks: Naomi Long and Jennifer McCann. The <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/31/northern-ireland-draft-proposals-published">Haass [draft] proposals</a> are probably workable, but there isn't the willingness of the parties to push them through. In the absence of that, we don't have a chance.</p> <p>Personally I think victims and survivors are being used by the government. They pull in the victims saying, 'How do the victims feel? How are they going to get justice?' Well maybe if the government pulled their finger out and started agreeing before the survivors die? Quite honestly, the politicians have done nothing for us. It's just a carve up between the DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] and Sinn Fein. The DUP are in a situation where they have to appease grassroots loyalism, they're trying to put the PUP [Progressive Unionist Party] out of business. That's the game that they're playing and if they're playing that game nothing's going to happen. </p> <p>Incidents of domestic violence have tripled since the Good Friday Agreement, look at the stuff that's coming out on sexual abuse. There's an awful lot more to come. While the conflict was going on, there was a lot of stuff that wasn't dealt with. Gerry Adam's niece was an example of that: because she was Gerry Adam's niece, whenever she went to the police to make a complaint, the police were more concerned with getting Gerry Adams than dealing with that. There were a couple of brothers sentenced last week who abused one of the brother’s daughter and son. They were connected to the INLA [Irish National Liberation Army]… more is going to come out here.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>What needs to be done to address the gender imbalance in <a href="http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/">Stormont</a> and the absence of women’s real influence in politics?</strong></p> <p>The 'Troubles' was a conflict, but they don’t recognize that. That’s why <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps/">1325</a> isn’t implemented. I think if 1325 had been implemented it would have made so much difference with women having a say. The joke has always been that the woman that gets closest to the table is the one that cleans it. This is about countries coming out of conflict and post-conflict reconstruction. They're so bloody arrogant to think they are the only ones that can handle that. What about women, 52 percent of the population? </p> <p>I don't believe in a woman's party. The Woman's Coalition wasn't about that: it was about trying to promote women, saying women need to be involved. All the parties should do better. It's not just about quotas for political parties, there should be quotas set for public appointments and decision-making bodies. There are 108 MLAs, I think its 18 percent or less who are women. The two women MEPs are a fluke. And the DUP has dynasties: that's why [MEP] Diane Dodd is in there. Anna Lo is standing. It would be a laugh if there were three MEP's who are women!&nbsp; </p><p>Why can't you have affirmative action? It's within the law that they can do that but they choose not to do it. We do it for communities! At Shankill Women's Centre we advertised in Catholic newspapers by putting a statement, 'we welcome applicants from different communities, from Catholic communities'. Everybody had to do it. I don't know what this big deal is, saying we don't do quotas, we don't do affirmative action. I think it's insulting when people say, 'why should women who aren't up to the job end up getting it?' Does that mean people in the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland] are only there because they're female or Catholic or from an ethnic minority group? I find that attitude insulting.&nbsp; </p><p>If women were involved more at all levels, it wouldn't suddenly be 'happy days', but women bring a different perspective. 52 percent of our valuable resources are not being used, are being ignored. I just think we're a poorer society because of that.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/niki-sethsmith/why-are-hopes-of-good-friday-peace-agreement-still-unfulfilled">Why are the hopes of the Good Friday Peace Agreement still unfulfilled? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Northern Ireland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Northern Ireland Democracy and government Women and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women's human rights women and power women and militarism violence against women 50.50 newsletter Anne McVicker Tue, 06 May 2014 07:53:18 +0000 Anne McVicker 82363 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The holistic approach to peacebuilding: From hubris to practicalities https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/holistic-approach-to-peacebuilding-from-hubris-to-practicalities <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In 50.50's <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/womens-power-to-stop-war">series of articles</a> marking the centenary of the <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom,</a> Madeleine Rees responds to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Cynthia Cockburn</a>, 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. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyCopy"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/492836.jpg" alt="60 or so people arranged in concentric circles around a large conference table." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The UNSC meeting on Women Peace and Security 2011. Photo (c) UN / Eskinder Debebe</span></span></span>Cynthia Cockburn posed a question in her article on 50.50, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women's power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a>. Her analysis of the different struggles in which women had been engaged prior to their activism seeking to stop World War 1, is a timely reminder that peace is a composite. What those women had been engaged in was ending the excesses of exploitation in various contexts, and demanding specific civil rights. Those rights were not just related to suffrage, but to civil, social and economic justice. Only by achieving them, they argued, would there be the possibility of peace. What Cynthia has done is to underline that peace can only be achieved through a re-conceptualisation of power; understanding better how the elements that create power are interlaced, are interactive and interdependent, and how it is highly gendered. All of which sound a little daunting - but since when did that stop feminist activism! </p> <p>For almost a century, <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom</a> ( WILPF ) has articulated the need to address the primary causes of war, end militarism, invest in peace, and support multilateralism. Most obviously, WILPF has also argued the necessity of women’s participation as fundamental to addressing the political economy of power, and as vital to the prevention and ending of armed conflict. There have of course been some successes, among them the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security - although what is implemented in practice is far from what was written in these documents. Besides, can we say honestly that we have been able to make the multilateral system actually work to realise the promises of the UN <a href="http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/">Charter</a> and the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/">Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a> ? </p> <p>In this sequel article, I want to look at what Cynthia set out as being necessary, and seek to describe how we could make this work in practice. </p> <p>Context is everything. What was <a href="http://www.ukwilpf.org/history/how-did-wilpf-start">argued</a> in 1915 by the 1136 peace-seeking women who came together from 12 countries, was right. But today there is a new context within which we have to work to address the issues. A deeper analysis of power has led to a greater understanding of the importance of gender and gender relations as a causative factor in determining who has power, and who has not. This is brought out in the work that has been done by feminists such as <a href="http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/jacqui-true/">Jacqui True</a> and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/yakin-erturk">Yakin Erturk</a> on the political economy of violence, which, apart from helping us to see how gender determines power in almost all areas of our lives, including in the home, is also extremely useful as a diagnostic. At the risk of generalising, where there is a greater divide in how gender roles are created and assigned, and they are accompanied by emphasis on the stereotype of male /female difference, then there is a greater risk that societies will <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heather-mcrobie/what-sex-means-for-world-peace">use violence</a> as a means of conflict resolution. There is considerable research, including by <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/valerie-hudson">Valerie Hudson</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Enloe">Cynthia Enloe</a>, and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Cohn">Carol Cohn</a>, which underlines this…obvious though it would seem to those who have ever experienced conflict. </p> <p>I do not believe that all men are violent. I maintain that men are violent because they are afraid. Afraid of other men, afraid of not being successful, of not being the strong man, the protector, the bread winner, of failing their families. Afraid of having no power at all. Those roles have been constructed, as have the reciprocal roles created for women, so we think we need men to be our protectors / providers. A vicious cycle is perpetuated, which, despite knowing its cost, we continually fail to break.&nbsp; </p> <p>Sadly, in the Ukraine, we have a living example of how this works in practice, and how the response by the multilateral system has been causative in creating the crisis, and is singularly failing to approach resolution without resort to the time worn rhetorics. The consequences are predictable. No need to look at how the press is reporting what is going on. Suffice it to say there is little&nbsp; truth in most of it, whether Russian or Western. Each has a dog in this fight and is anxious to win supporters to its side ….because there can only be two! ( We know this from Syria and other conflicts).&nbsp; In the meantime, the truth is that when the Maidan Square protests started, the EU and Russia were squaring off to deny Ukraine a choice in its future economic activity, as if Ukraine did not have multiple borders and a need to trade across all of them. Indeed, the right to trade as a nation makes economic sense. Instead, this has become a narrative of 'pro-Russia or pro-West'. </p> <p>Then look at the gender dimensions of this. First, Ukraine is not the most gender equal of societies. A brief glimpse at the inflight magazines, and the portrayal of women in the media, is sufficient to see there are “issues"- even without deeper analysis. Women were not welcomed as part of the revolution.They were told their roles were back in the kitchen, or cleaning the streets so as to support the revolutionaries. Those revolutionaries became more violent in response to the violence to which they were subjected by the security forces. </p> <p>Fast forward to post Yanukovich. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund get into agreements with the non-elected transitional government. Neoliberal policies of austerity. Who starts losing jobs, particularly in the civil service and&nbsp; the state-related professions, first?&nbsp; Economics is also gendered. On the streets, the militias continue, and they are armed. The nonviolent men are under increasing <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">pressure to join</a> as the concept of traditional masculinity kicks in. The narrative deepens, and the “with us or against us” is now dangerously armed and militarized.&nbsp; Women? No one is interested. </p> <p>The gender analysis coming out of the international organisations monitoring and reporting, including OHCHR, is non-existent at present. They have said that since there is, as yet no sexual violence in this instance, there is no gender dimension. Sadly this is similar to <em>the</em> approach to gender adopted by those responsible for investigating human rights abuses - that is to say, it equates gender analysis with investigation into the prevalence of sexual violence. That is insufficient. When conflict is pending or happens, they too revert to the gendered narrative. Reports emanating from these bodies determine, or at least contribute, to the response, as happened in Syria where a similar approach by the Commission of Inquiry does not raise the necessary questions. This has to change. </p> <p>What <em>could</em> have happened is where we could all make a difference. That “holistic, multi-faceted struggle for a nonviolent revolution in the relations of gender, class, ethnicity and nation” that Cynthia <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">referred</a> to through the lens of supporting the multilateral system in order to get it right. </p> <p>We have learnt from <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosni">Bosnia</a>, from Kosovo, from <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syria</a>, what happens when the multilateral system breaks down because it has let things get to the place where national interest overcomes international obligation. The obligation becomes re-interpreted so as to endorse the interest of that member state. Age old, tried and tested, and because of the structures of the system, it prevails. </p> <p>What if it was done differently? What if, for example, the emphasis was very much on prevention and gender was used as a diagnostic ? This would be fed through the various treaty body mechanisms, and the universal periodic review of the Human Rights Council. What if we monitored arms supplies and access in countries where there are indications of a possible rupture? What if we looked at the foreign policy priorities of states, their trading and financial policies, and analysed these as part of their human rights obligations in their dealings with other states in the multilateral system? Had that been done, the warning signs would have been writ large in Ukraine, in Syria, in Bosnia.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>What was and is needed, is the ability to get the analysis of the political economy into the multilateral system, use it to see how the politics of exclusion and economic policies, national and international, are causative of gender discrimination, to understand how that would play out, and ensure that the responses are addressed to defusing the situation rather than antagonising it.&nbsp; It is not complicated. It needs good information from the ground, good analysis and advocacy in the relevant fora, and for states to actually comply with their international obligations. In short, an integrated holistic approach. </p> <p>Now women in Ukraine are re-grouping from all parts of their country, no matter what&nbsp; language they consider their mother tongue, to try to bring a saner analysis into the public domain. We need their version of reality to be heard in the multilateral fora that have been set up to stop conflict and which are failing. It was the UN itself which blocked the voices of women and civil society in Syria for far too long, and now there is no process at all. It was the multilateral system which created the Dayton agreement for Bosnia and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heather-mcrobie/listen-to-bosnias-plenums">failed to take into account the gender dimension</a> and the need for inclusivity. </p> <p>WILPF is committed to 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. The model we have now, as Bosnia, Syria, and Ukraine exemplify, is distant from the real experiences of the people it is supposed to be serving. It's a narrative which is both dictated and created from existing political, social and cultural norms. It has failed. We must change it.</p> <p>I remain convinced that we can do this, but only if we consciously and constantly bring all the pieces to the table that are needed to make up the composite that is peace. </p><p><em>Read more articles on <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a> exploring women's critical perspectives on peace, justice and equality</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/peacework-human-security">Peacework and Human Security</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope">Women&#039;s power to stop war: Hubris or hope?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/occupy-movement-and-women-of-greenham-common">The Occupy movement and the women of Greenham Common </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/vanina-serra/peacebuilding-factor-that-makes-difference">Peacebuilding: The factor that makes a difference </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/quest-for-gender-just-peace-from-impunity-to-accountability">The quest for gender-just peace: from impunity to accountability </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/bruce-kent/from-culture-of-war-to-culture-of-peace">From a culture of war to a culture of peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-war-on-terror-to-austerity-lost-decade-for-women-and-human-rights">From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. 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International media, when they accept a simplified story whereby the conflict often called the ‘Troubles’ has ended, can overlook this reality. Yet the upsurge of civil unrest played out in the flag protests since December 2012 and the recent row over the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-26376541">On the Run revelations</a> demonstrate that the peace process is far from being complete, and there are signs that it is regressing. The recent <a href="http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/gerry-adams-arrest-how-the-story-has-developed-so-far-30235572.html">arrest of Gerry Adams</a>, president of Sinn Fein, the second largest party in the Northern Irish Assembly, over the murder of Jean McConville in 1972, shows again that the past has not been dealt with in many cases, but brushed under the carpet. Why have the hopes invested in the Good Friday Agreement not been fully met, sixteen years after it was signed? </p><p>The Good Friday Agreement was much more than a power-sharing settlement between political parties. It harnessed the knowledge and insight of civil society to envision a transformed Northern Ireland. Central to this vision was the input and leadership provided by women, who not only played a key role in these negotiations through their work in women’s centres, organisations and networks and through the Women’s Coalition, but who throughout the conflict held communities together and helped to build a shared future. The ‘Agreement’, as Beatrix Campbell sets out in her <a href="http://www.beatrixcampbell.co.uk/books/agreement/">book of the same name</a>, was intended to address gender inequalities, as well as the disadvantage and exclusion suffered by both Protestant and Catholic working-class people. There was a commitment to build a new Northern Ireland on the foundations of inclusion, equality and human rights. </p> <p>That vision of a transformed, peaceful and stable Northern Ireland is yet to be fulfilled. This series of articles will make&nbsp; the case that this failure, and the failure to deliver on commitments to women’s full and equal participation in Northern Irish society made in the Good Friday Agreement are intimately linked. The argument that state security is best achieved through implementing gender equality has been <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/heather-mcrobie/what-sex-means-for-world-peace">convincingly made</a> by Valerie Hudson in her book ‘What sex means for world peace’. Her observations on the correlation between a country or region’s treatment of women and the likelihood of conflict are acknowledged in part by the United Nations resolution 1325 on Women and Peace building. Yet that resolution has not been implemented in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the history of women’s role in peace building since the conflict began has been written out of most history books.</p> <p>A new round of negotiations is now underway in the shape of the ongoing, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-26511269">although stalled</a>, Haass / O’Sullivan talks. This is an opportunity to recognise the key role played by women peace builders in Northern Ireland, and propose that women’s voices must have equal weight if current challenges to the region’s fragile and compromised peace are to be confronted. It is also an opportunity to engage with a wider global audience, and allow for a sharing and comparison of transitional justice perspectives.&nbsp; </p><p>The ongoing protests over the flying of the Union Jack at Belfast City Hall <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/dec/09/ulster-union-flag-protests">began</a> on 3 December 2012, when Belfast City Council voted to fly the flag only on days of celebration or commemoration in line with the rest of Britain, rather than all year round as had been the practice in the region for more than a century. In response, loyalists began holding street protests throughout Northern Ireland. While many were peaceful, by November of last year 560 people had been <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-24986841">charged or reported</a> over the protests, following riots and clashes with police. The <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-25429676">Haass-O'Sullivan talks</a>, which began in late 2013, are part an attempt to address this latest upsurge of civil unrest. There is also a growing security threat from dissident Republicans, with bomb disposal officers called to <a href="http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/one-security-alert-in-northern-ireland-for-every-day-of-the-year-29871264.html">more than one alert per day</a> during 2013. The Haass-O'Sullivan talks, named for the negotiation chairs, Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan, were launched with a remit to contend with the past and to deal in particular with 'parades and protests' and 'flags and emblems'. </p><p>The arrest of Gerry Adams last week looks set to destabilise the peace process still further. The leader of Sinn Fein turned himself in to police on Wednesday 30th April, over allegations of his involvement with the killing of Jean McConville in 1972. McConville is one of the fifteen<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-10814888"> Disappeared</a>, having been accused by the IRA of being a British informer. To date, only eight of the bodies have been found, including McConville's, on an Irish beach in 2008. Adams, whose party is active in Northern Ireland and the Republic, has now <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-27278039">been released</a> without charge after five days of questioning. He has never denied involvement with the IRA but branded the McConville accusations a "sustained, malicious, untruthful campaign" against him. Deputy first minster and former IRA commander Martin McGuiness had warned that Sinn Fein could <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/northernireland/10805252/Northern-Ireland-tensions-at-boiling-point-over-Gerry-Adams-arrest.html">withdraw its support</a> of the Northern Ireland police if Adams was charged. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/flagprotests_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/flagprotests_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flag protesters at City Hall, March 2013. Demotix/ Sean Harkin</span></span></span></p><p>This latest upheaval comes on the back of the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-26359906">On the Run letters</a> revelations in March, which led to a stall in attempts to resurrect the Haass talks that had failed to reach consensus by the deadline of 31 December 2013. The On the Run letters relate to a previously secret scheme involving individuals suspected of crimes relating to the conflict. First Minister Peter Robinson accused Westminster of sending out <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-26376541">'get out of jail free cards</a>' to suspects fleeing justice without his knowledge. Details of the scheme were only made public in March this year, when the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10661084/Peter-Hain-astonished-at-Hyde-Park-bombing-suspect-John-Downey-arrest.html">trial of John Downey</a> led to Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly stating that 187 people had received letters assuring them that they did not face arrest and prosecution for IRA crimes. The shockwaves this sent through the Assembly, with Robinson threatening to resign, and the arrest of Gerry Adams causing anger and dissent amongst nationalists and Republicans, has brought up once more the issue of <a href="http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/debateni/blogs/mark-brotherston/john-downey-hyde-park-bomb-case-caused-shock-at-stormont-on-the-run-is-murky-and-squalid-issue-30058529.html">problems of the past</a> having been ‘plastered over’ or ‘swept under the carpet’ in Northern Ireland. </p> <p>Haass / O’Sullivan had a mandate to contend with the past and “seek the views of, and evidence from, interested stakeholders on how&nbsp;best to address the issues that cause community division.” In its consultation process, the Panel held over 100 meetings with over 500 individuals, and received more than 600 submissions from individuals and organisations. It offered confidentiality but some chose to make their submissions public. The Women’s Resource and Development Agency, an umbrella organisation that supports women’s groups across Northern Ireland, provided a submission to the talks in <a href="http://www.wrda.net/Research%20Reports.aspx">writing</a> and in <a href="http://www.viewdigital.org/haass-talks-urged-not-to-sweep-womens-concerns-under-the-table/">a meeting</a>. It was drawn from the concerns expressed by 200 women who attended an October 2013 conference on dealing with the past. The Northern Ireland’s Women’s European Platform also made its <a href="http://blog.niwep.org/2013/12/niwep-submission-to-dr-richard-haass-and-panel-of-parties/">submission</a> public. </p> <p>These submissions both express a number of concerns including the ongoing influence of paramilitary organisations in controlling communities; the insufficient support for sufferers of mental illness; the inequalities experienced by women in participating in public discourse and policymaking; the extent of socio-economic inequalities and the high rates of domestic and sexual violence. These concerns were not reflected in the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/31/northern-ireland-draft-proposals-published">Haass-O’Sullivan draft proposals</a>, which only mentions gender explicitly once, in the list of issues to be covered by a new Commission on Identity, Culture and Tradition, to be created in order to “increase the understanding among citizens of the appropriateness and importance of identities in Northern Irish society”.&nbsp; <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belfast_City_Hall_flag_protests">According</a> to MP Naomi Long, Northern Ireland is once again facing "an incredibly volatile and extremely serious situation." Long was one of only two women on a panel of twelve participating in the talks. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Haass.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Haass.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan, Dec 2013. Demotix / Kevin Scott</span></span></span></p> <p>The failure of the Haass / O’Sullivan talks reflects a larger failing of Northern Irish society to fulfill commitments made in the Good Friday Agreement to "the right of women to full and equal political participation" and for the government to pursue "the advancement of women in public life". Today, women make up only 19 per cent of MLAS and have occupied around a third of all public appointments for the last two decades. A further obstacle is the failure to enforce <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps/">UN Security Council Resolution 1325</a>, which requires signatories to adopt gender perspectives in post-conflict reconstruction. Disagreements over the definition of conflict in relation to Northern Ireland have prevented the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Northern Ireland, an issue we will be publishing on in the series.&nbsp; Despite links being made between the Good Friday Agreement and UNSCR 1325, there has been little real action to ensure women's participation in the latest round of negotiations for a peaceful, safe and stable Northern Ireland.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/LaganLadyAidanMcMichaelSomeRightsReserved.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/LaganLadyAidanMcMichaelSomeRightsReserved.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="231" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Beacon of Hope or 'Lagan Lady'. Flickr / AidanMcMichael</span></span></span></p> <p>Peace building is still considered to be a man's business, and accounts of negotiations in Northern Ireland tend to tell of political parties and paramilitaries, not of the actions of civil society and the women's movement. As Margaret Ward <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">describes</a> in a piece that helped inspire this series, the role of women in the peace process has been overlooked, and the opportunities for women to speak and share their views have only decreased throughout the peace process. Yet Northern Ireland cannot deal with the past and move towards a shared future without recognition of the differential impact of the conflict on women. The legacy of conflict, including chronic mental and physical health issues as well as drug and alcohol dependency – Northern Ireland has the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-16028713">highest recorded levels of PTSD</a> – have produced a set of gendered problems. There is a perception among communities that domestic and sexual violence in Northern Ireland is increasing, while sexual exploitation of young girls within paramilitary settings <a href="http://www.wrda.net/Documents/Belfast%20Women%20Dealing%20with%20the%20Past%20Report_8%20Oct%202013.pdf">continues</a>. Some women living in areas with issues of anti-social behaviour and criminality, say <a href="http://www.wrda.net/Documents/Belfast%20Women%20Dealing%20with%20the%20Past%20Report_8%20Oct%202013.pdf">they felt 'safer'</a> during the conflict. These are only some examples of the many ways in which the experience of the conflict and violence, its legacy and of the peace process, is gendered.</p> <p>As more than 50 per cent of the population, women are entitled to equal representation and participation in peace building. A convincing case has also been made that such full and equal participation is in fact a necessary requisite for building just societies and sustainable peace. Research such as Cynthia Cockburn’s <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Space-Between-Negotiating-Identities/dp/185649618X">work</a> on Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Israel-Palestine shows common patterns across conflict and post-conflict areas in the relation between the treatment of women and state security. The argument for the full inclusion of women in peace building in Northern Ireland is strengthened further by the central role that women have played in the history of building a shared future in the region, one that has to a large extent been written out of history.&nbsp; </p><p>This series of articles aims to profile the critical perspectives of women peacebuilders in Northern Ireland as they build the argument. At a time of resurgent tension and renewed negotiations, this is an urgent task. As the series will set out to show, without women’s voices included at all levels, Northern Ireland’s currently fragile and compromised peace may be further jeopardized, and a true and lasting peace can only be established when the voices of all are heard.&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-mcvicker/insulting-women-of-northern-ireland">Insulting the women of Northern Ireland </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Northern Ireland </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openSecurity Northern Ireland Civil society Conflict Women and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Niki Seth-Smith Mon, 05 May 2014 08:10:20 +0000 Niki Seth-Smith 82178 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women's power to stop war: Hubris or hope? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/womens-power-to-stop-war-hubris-or-hope <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the first of a series of articles marking the hundredth year of the <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom,</a> 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.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/WILPFwomen_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/WILPFwomen_0.png" alt="Four women of the early 20th Century" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>(L-R) Jane Addams, Aletta Jacobs, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Rosika Schwimmer</span></span></span>Today, 28 April, ninety-nine years ago, was the sixth day of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_battle_of_ypres">Second Battle of Ypres</a>, one of the First World War's most futile and costly engagements. Chlorine gas, a new weapon of choice, was seeping over the trenches. The battle would end in stalemate, leaving 105,000 dead and wounded men. </p> <p>On that day, a mere hundred miles north of the battlefield, at The Hague, in neutral Netherlands, more than a thousand women assembled to talk peace. They travelled there from twelve countries, on both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the conflict, drawn by a belief that women could achieve something male leaders were unwilling or unable to do: stop the carnage. When the congress ended, they despatched women envoys to heads of state in belligerent and neutral countries, urging them to initiate a peace commission. In vain. The war continued for another three years until 37 million men, women and children had died..</p> <p>The organization emerging from the Hague Congress called itself the International Women's Committee for Permanent Peace. A few years on, it would be renamed the <a href="http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/women%27s-international-league-peace-freedom-1915-1965/page-1/">Women's International League for Peace and Freedom</a>, and establish an office in Geneva. So, today, we of WILPF are mourning the victims of Ypres and simultaneously marking our 99th birthday. As we do so, and prepare for our centenary a year hence, we are rolling out a world-wide mobilization under the bold banner-headline: <em><a href="http://www.womenstopwar.org/">Women's Power to Stop War</a></em>. </p> <p>Bold… but also bald. The slogan stops people in their tracks, we find. They pause and puzzle over it. Are WILPF making a statement of fact here, or is this mere aspiration? The story of the Hague Congress hardly inspires confidence in women's power to stop war. Besides, the very fact that we have a centenary to 'celebrate', that we have had wars to contest throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, suggests not power but impotence. </p> <p>If we really mean women have the power to stop war, in what does that ability reside? why has it been ineffective till now? how may we believe in it?&nbsp; Recently I was invited to sketch out the first draft of a new Manifesto for WILPF. It will be debated in the organization throughout this year, and a final version issued at our centenary Congress a year from now, when we shall once more assemble in The Hague. To prepare for this daunting writing job (or to put it off a little longer?) I sat down, as is my wont, to <em>read</em>.&nbsp; Setting aside for the moment women's failure in 1915 to achieve a peace initiative and end the war, I took from my shelf some books about women's activism in the preceding period, in the early 20th and late 19th century. </p> <p>What they reminded me was that the concern with 'peace' of many of our fore-runners emerged from, or combined with, engagement in other social movements. They did not limit themselves to the injunction 'thou shalt not kill', but addressed injustice, inequality, exploitation and unfreedom, laying the groundwork for a women's peace movement in the 20th century that would understand these wrongs as presaging violence, and indeed as of themselves violent. Women's campaigning tended to be joined-up, <em>holistic.</em> </p> <p>The rapid urbanization of Britain, the USA and other industrializing societies in the latter part of the 19th century had brought widespread, and highly visible, suffering to the poor. Exploitative conditions of labour, together with appalling housing conditions, lack of sanitation and consequent disease experienced by the growing industrial workforce and their families gave rise to socialist and social <a href="http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Family_Fortunes.html?id=1xQHrNyTHkwC&amp;redir_esc=y">reform movements</a>. Many women gave their energies to humanitarian philanthropic work. Others were active in the anti-slavery movement. And some joined campaigns against war - the Crimean war, the American civil war, the Franco-Prussian war, the Boer war. </p> <p>Middle class women's exposure to the oppression of others heightened consciousness of their own oppression as women. The more involved they became in social and charitable projects, the more they felt the injustice of their inferiorisation by the confident public men who led these institutions. (For decades after their foundation in 1816 the Peace Societies did not allow women members to speak at meetings. It would be 73 years before the men <a href="http://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/isbn/0198226748/page-1/">agreed</a> to accept a woman on the national committee.) Unlike male pacifists, then, whether secular or religious, women were liable to note the gender implications of war. Had not Mary Wollstonecraft, first and boldest of feminist writers, stated emphatically way back in 1792 that militarism threatened women by reinforcing masculine habits of authority and hierarchy? She wrote, in <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Vindication_of_the_Rights_of_Woman">A Vindication of the Rights of Women</a>,</em> 'Every corps is a chain of despots…submitting and tyrannizing without exercising their reason'. The failure of successive Reform Acts to accord women the vote led to a surging suffrage movement, at its height just before the outbreak of World War I. </p> <p>Now - look where the founders of WILPF learned their activism. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_addams">Jane Addams</a>, who presided over the Hague Congress, was already well-known figure in the USA for her pioneering social work. She founded Hull House in Chicago, one of the first settlements, a refuge for the poor. She was incipiently socialist, campaigning nation-wide for child labour laws and trade unions. She espoused women's rights, joining the suffrage movement. Then, as war threatened, she embraced peace campaigning. Addams was nothing if not holistic in her activism.&nbsp; Historian Catherine Foster writes of her, 'Partly because of her work with poor people [she] believed strongly that there could be no peace without social and economic justice'. </p> <p>Then consider how many of the women who founded WILPF came to it directly from the struggle for women's political representation. In Britain as war approached there were two strong suffrage organizations, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies with 50,000 members, and the smaller Women's Social and Political Union. Both split on the war issue. While most of their members supported the government, some became the backbone of the women's peace movement. Suffrage and peace activism remained tightly linked in the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_the_United_Kingdom">International Women's Suffrage Alliance</a>, to which many anti-war pro-suffrage women shifted their allegiance. </p> <p>Consider two women who travelled from Europe to the USA in 1914 to galvanize women's opposition to the war and support the launch of a National Woman's Peace Party in Washington. One was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmeline_Pethick-Lawrence,_Baroness_Pethick-Lawrence">Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence</a>, a British woman whose activism had been formed in both socialist and suffrage movements and whose concern with peace was founded, as she wrote, on 'the idea of the solidarity of women [that] had taken a deep hold upon many of us; so deep that it could not be shaken even by the fact that men of many nations were at war'. Another was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosika_Schwimmer">Rosika Schwimmer</a>, a Hungarian feminist and suffragist, member of the IWSA. Often sharing a platform, these two women from enemy nations would later be present at the Hague Congress and go on to be active in the League. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aletta_Jacobs">Aletta Jacobs</a>, an opening speaker at the Congress, was president of the Dutch suffrage movement. Thus there was in the 1915 peace initiative a deeply embedded belief that women's entry into politics bringing with them a wealth of fresh and gender-specific experience, their full acceptance on equal terms in public life, would of itself contribute to ending militarism and the taken-for-granted use of war as foreign policy. </p> <p>The imbrication of struggles for social reform and women's rights with the women's peace movement showed its effects in WILPF's campaign for a just peace after the 1918 Armistice.&nbsp; The leaders that gathered in Paris in 1919 to dictate the terms of peace to the defeated Central Powers were all men, despite women's appeal for the inclusion of women delegates. Women from seventeen countries therefore autonomously organized their own congress. It took place in Zurich just as the text of the <a href="http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/women%27s-international-league-peace-freedom-1915-1965/page-1/">Treaty of Versailles</a> was issued. The women were shocked by its savagely punitive terms which condemned the defeated populations to hunger, poverty and disease for a generation to come.&nbsp; And here we see clearly women's distinctive 'take' on war - a recognition of the link between the power relations of the powerful and weak nations, the ruling and ruled class, and the dominant and subordinated sex. </p> <p>The Women's Charter issued by WILPF (which took its present name at the Zurich congress) was of course an appeal for universal disarmament, an international mechanism to ensure permanent peace and an end to the 'right' of any government to make war. But it also called for the social, political and economic status of women to be recognized as of supreme international importance. They demanded the franchise, freedom from dependence and full equality for women universally. They called for recognition that women's services to the world as wage earners and homemakers are essential to peace. Women should be eligible for every position in the anticipated League of Nations. In addition, they showed concern for minority rights and racial equality; called for self-government for colonized peoples; the right of asylum for those fleeing persecution. They also had a revolutionary economic vision: fair distribution; and controls on capitalists and profiteers. They expressed sympathy for workers' (nonviolent) uprising. </p> <p>In this way, in explicitly seeking, beyond the end of one war, the eradication of war itself, WILPF was obliged to identify and address war's root causes. It thus became a holistic movement for freedom and justice, against oppression and exploitation - in other words a movement against both physical violence and what would come to be termed 'structural violence'. In doing so it drew strength and experience from the campaigns from which it had originally sprung: those for social reform and women's rights. </p> <p>It is this holistic, multi-facetted struggle for a nonviolent revolution in the relations of gender, class, ethnicity and nation to which we shall soon commit ourselves anew in our forthcoming centenary Manifesto. If we assert, with breath-taking optimism, <em>Women's Power to Stop War</em>, it's not to suggest that women 'have power' - on most counts we have little. Rather, it's to remind ourselves that we have <em>agency.</em> Of course, not all women lack privilege and security. Nonetheless, women as a sex have seen millennia of injustice, many of us have learned how to organize, and above all we have <em>reach</em>, into every corner of life, into the heart of families, into civil society and, increasingly, into the structures of governance. '<a href="http://www.womenstopwar.org/">Our weapons', reads our campaign website, 'are dialogue, knowledge and insistence</a>.' Women as women are the ones who have the potential to translate the principle and practice of 'care' from the individual to collective, so that a caring society becomes the principle of politics, embraced by men and women alike. And war becomes unthinkable.</p><p><strong><em>This is the first in a major series of articles that 50.50 will be publishing regularly in the run up to the Centernary Conference of WILPF <a href="http://www.womenstopwar.org/">Uniting a Global Movement of Women's Power to Stop War</a>, and our writers will report from the worldwide gathering in April 2015</em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/getting-to-peace-what-kind-of-movement">Getting to peace: what kind of movement?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/beyond-war-women-transforming-militarism-building-nonviolent-world">Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/shelley-anderson/vital-peace-constituencies">Vital peace constituencies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/building-culture-of-love-replacing-culture-of-violence-and-death">Building a culture of love: replacing a culture of violence and death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. We’re tired of war&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/to-culture-of-peace-from-culture-of-war">To a culture of peace from a culture of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/peacebuilding-and-nation-state-towards-nonviolent-world">Peacebuilding and the nation-state: towards a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/diana-francis/strongest-power-of-all">The strongest power of all</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openSecurity Civil society Conflict Equality Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism patriarchy gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter Cynthia Cockburn Northern Ireland conflict Mon, 28 Apr 2014 09:27:48 +0000 Cynthia Cockburn 82177 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Peacebuilding: The factor that makes a difference https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/vanina-serra/peacebuilding-factor-that-makes-difference <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Donors funding in conflict affected environments would be wise to focus on women’s<em> leadership </em>in conflict rather than women as<em> victims of violence </em>in conflict<em>.</em> This is key to changing the power structures which underlie violence, and to supporting sustainable peace efforts.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/4312313.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/4312313.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Filipino Muslims celebrate the peace agreement. Demotix / George Calvelo</span></span></span></p><p>On 27 March 2014, a historic first was achieved: a peace agreement led by a woman chief mediator was signed. The Filipino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the&nbsp; <a href="http://www.opapp.gov.ph/ct/comprehensive-agreement-on-the-bangsamoro">Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)</a>, putting an end to four decades of civil war and almost two decades of peace negotiations. This is, clearly, an historical event for the Philippines and the region. But this agreement is not making history only for the peace that it will hopefully bring to the country - the CAB is also the first comprehensive peace agreement with a <a href="http://www.opapp.gov.ph/milf/news/women-make-history-signing-gph-milf-comprehensive-peace-deal">woman, Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, affixing her signature as chief mediator</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>The international community committed to increase women’s participation in conflict prevention, post-conflict and peace-building in the landmark <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1325%282000%29">Security Council Resolution 1325</a> in the year 2000. However, despite the obligation to promote women’s participation in the different phases of peace processes found in this and several subsequent <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/News/In%20Focus/Open%20Debate%20on%20WPS%202013/2013%20SG%20report%20on%20WPS%20pdf.pdf">UN Security Council Resolutions</a>, women’s inclusion in peace processes has continued to be limited both in numbers and in roles. <a href="http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/03AWomenPeaceNeg.pdf">UN WOMEN research</a> on a sample of 31 key peace processes between 1992 and 2011 showed that out of the total signatories, only 4% were women and that women were only 2.4% of chief mediators, 3.7% of witnesses and 9% of negotiators. No women were involved as chief mediators in processes leading to the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreements. Significantly, the UN&nbsp; has never appointed a woman chief mediator in peace process it has sponsored. </p> <p>But why is it so important to have women included in peace processes? </p><p>First and foremost, excluding women means excluding half or more of the population from a key decision-making moment. Conflict and post-conflict situations disrupt social relationships and are a time when prevailing ideas and established ‘truths’ are thrown into flux. As such, these periods of struggle, also violent and horrible, can offer the chance of truly transformative change – by providing the foundations for re-distributing power between social classes, ethnic groups and genders, and addressing (and solving) the underlying causes of conflicts and inequalities. </p><p>Secondly, evidence shows that if women and their views are included in decision-making, at negotiating tables and in governance and accountability structures, the result will be more sustainable peace and development. According to research more than 50 percent of peace agreements fail within <a href="http://www.inclusivesecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2011-Colloquium-Report_FINAL.pdf">five years</a> of signature, in part because they do not include a variety of different voices in their negotiation. </p><p>Finally, if women are not included in peace talks their demands for justice will be almost certainly ignored, with processes&nbsp;&nbsp; resulting in peace agreements that do not include <a href="http://www.iccwomen.org/news/docs/Womens_Voices_May_2009/WomVoices_May09.html#drc1">vetting mechanisms</a> for those responsible for violating human rights during conflicts, including those who perpetrated violence against women. For example, the Goma Peace Agreements, signed in 2009 between the Congolese government and armed groups in Eastern DRC, included provisions for the <a href="http://www.iccwomen.org/news/docs/WI-WomVoices12-12-FULL/WomVoices12-12.html#2">reintegration</a> in the regular army of members of the rebel groups. These included <a href="http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/situations%20and%20cases/situations/situation%20icc%200104/related%20cases/icc%200104%200206/Pages/icc%200104%200206.aspx">Bosco Ntaganda</a>, wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2006 for war crimes. It is not uncommon for war criminals to be integrated in post-conflict governments in the name of a fragile peace which serves the interests of a few powerful people. This is well captured in Abigail Disney’s film on the Liberian peace process, <a href="http://praythedevilbacktohell.com/">Pray the Devil Back to Hell</a>, when one of the women peace activists equates the peace talks to a job hunt. </p> <p>Bringing women negotiators to the table means bringing different views and experiences which can then contribute to better, more inclusive, peace agreements. However, women’s presence at a peace table cannot be considered in itself a guarantee for a more successful and sustainable peace. Not all women are gender experts and not all women are interested in their community more than in their personal interests. What has been proved to really have an <a href="http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/03AWomenPeaceNeg.pdf">influence</a> on the promotion of gender equality in a peace agreement is the existence of a strong women’s movement in the country, a movement of which female representatives at the peace table are the expression, and with which they maintain strong linkages. <span>The <a href="http://www.mbali.info/doc233.htm">gender equality commitments</a> </span><span>contained in the 1996 peace agreement in Guatemala, for instance, are largely attributed not only to the negotiation skills of </span><span><a href="http://www.inclusivesecurity.org/network-bio/luz-mendez/"><span>Luz Méndez</span></a></span><span>, the only female member of the <em>Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca</em> delegation, but also to her links and continuous communication with the women’s movement of her country. </span>However, as highlighted by the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/News/In%20Focus/Open%20Debate%20on%20WPS%202013/2013%20SG%20report%20on%20WPS%20pdf.pdf">UN Secretary-General in his 2013 report on women, peace and security</a>, ’much of women’s conflict prevention work continues to go unrecognized and lacks consistent funding and institutional support’.&nbsp; </p> <p>Funding women’s movements in countries with a volatile security context in a consistent, long-term and flexible way is key in supporting women’s role in conflict prevention. And, if prevention is unsuccessful and a crisis does arise, the existence of a strong and broad-based women’s movement allows women to mobilise quickly, and make it less likely they will be excluded from formal peace processes when the time for this comes. Donors funding in conflict-affected contexts would be wise to ensure their approaches focus on <em>women’s leadership in conflict</em> rather than <em>women as victims of conflict</em>. This is key to supporting sustainable peace efforts, which is why important initiatives such as the one promoted by the <a href="http://preventsexualviolenceinconflict.tumblr.com/">UK government to stop sexual violence in conflict</a> need to maintain attention on the role that women as leaders can and do have in changing the power structures which underlie violence and oppression. Focusing exclusively on sexual violence in conflict without supporting the efforts of women organising against the root causes that foster such violence’s widespread use would miss the factor that makes the difference: women’s everyday participation and leadership in peacebuilding.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Hopefully Professor Coronel-Ferrer will not be an isolated case for long. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/plotting-for-woman-shaped-peace-syrian-and-bosnian-women-confer">Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/peacebuilding-and-nation-state-towards-nonviolent-world">Peacebuilding and the nation-state: towards a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/beyond-war-women-transforming-militarism-building-nonviolent-world">Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/siham-rayale/narrating-peace-somaliland-women%E2%80%99s-experiences">Narrating peace: Somaliland women’s experiences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rob-jenkins/women-food-security-and-peacebuilding-from-gender-essentialism-to-market-fundamenta">Women, food security and peacebuilding: from gender essentialism to market fundamentalism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/najwa-adra/women-and-peacebuilding-in-yemen-challenges-and-opportunities">Women and peacebuilding in Yemen: challenges and opportunities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/patriarchy-and-militarism-in-egypt-from-street-to-government">Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/aesha-aqtam-piera-edelman/peacework-to-love-stranger">Peacework: to love a stranger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/what-kind-of-feminism-does-war-provoke">What kind of feminism does war provoke?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/orzala-ashraf-nemat/troop-withdrawals-and-women%E2%80%99s-rights-in-afghanistan">Troop withdrawals and women’s rights in Afghanistan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amel-gorani/sudanese-women-demand-justice">Sudanese women demand justice </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ndeye-marie-thiam/women-of-senegal-agents-of-peace">Women of Senegal: agents of peace </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/lessons-of-hummingbird">Lessons of the hummingbird</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Philippines </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Philippines Civil society Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick women and power women and militarism violence against women patriarchy gender 50.50 newsletter Vanina Serra Moro Islamist separatism in the Philippines Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:27:27 +0000 Vanina Serra 81265 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Troop withdrawals and women’s rights in Afghanistan https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/orzala-ashraf-nemat/troop-withdrawals-and-women%E2%80%99s-rights-in-afghanistan <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Military withdrawal and the departure of international forces have been framed as a nightmare scenario for women’s rights by different groups inside and outside Afghanistan. However, the ironic fact about the much vaunted withdrawal is that so far, at least, there is no concrete proposal that operationalises a scenario of full withdrawal by 2014 - or what is known as the “zero option”. The “zero option” is repeatedly deployed as a form of pressure or implied threat to the government of Afghanistan to facilitate the signing of the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/24/nato-talks-afghanistan-obama-zero-option">bilateral strategic agreement</a> (BSA). The telephone conversation between Obama and Karzai on February 25th 2014 is not an exception in this <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/09/daily-briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-07092013">context.</a> As events have developed, NATO representatives have met and in a carefully diplomatic fashion have <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/27/uk-afghanistan-nato-idUKBREA1Q1FR20140227">stated</a>: "Today we agreed the need to plan for all possible outcomes including the possibility that we may not be able to deploy to Afghanistan&nbsp;after 2014 due to the persistent delays we have seen".&nbsp;What is happening, I believe, is more closely related to the political bargaining over matters that concern the future of the government of Afghanistan, the role of president Karzai versus that of internationals in fashioning the upcoming presidential elections, and mediating a “peace process” or bringing the Taliban into direct contact as well as negotiations with the government. </p> <p>What is really at stake is a change in the mode of relations between Afghanistan’s government and its international donors, although it must be noted that even such change is not expected to be dramatically transformative. In other words, now that the troops’ <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jun/23/us-surge-afghans-development">surge</a> is over, there are possibilities that special forces operations will be limited, and more importantly, that the intense funding that flooded into Afghanistan -&nbsp; particularly during the surge years (2009-2012) -&nbsp; is going to <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Programs/foreign%20policy/afghanistan%20index/index20140110.pdf">decrease.</a> And it is this decrease in funding flows, rather than the presence or absence of international personnel in uniform <em>per se</em>, that will have an important impact on Afghanistan’s future, and how the systems and institutions that have been created in the context of acute donor dependency will survive once the funding flow dries up or diminishes. </p> <p>The way things are developing in domestic politics point to an increasing level of continuity with what is already in place, at least concerning the government and its commitments about what it will deliver to its people as the country transitions to a new presidency after the April 2014 elections. This continuity means that while there is a possibility of less eventual international engagement and support for women’s rights, the newly elected government will continue to have a mixed position, supporting some and resisting other aspects of women’s full inclusion in different public spheres. For instance, the government’s efforts focusing on service delivery in the fields of education, health and access to justice will continue, while it is possible that Afghan women will face a backlash and resistance to further advances in their political decision-making roles. This is mainly because women’s public role and their presence in decision-making have been symbolic - and driven primarily by the international donors, or by government initiatives to please international supporters. Given the acute donor dependency of these efforts, as funding levels decline this will affect every aspect of these struggles in the years to come. Having said that, one cannot ignore the fact that a momentum has been created that brought women into the public sphere. In other words, while “donor-driven <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">activism</a>” might have provided a push, Afghan women from grass-roots organisations, and those working as civil servants across the country, have become active and more conscious of the importance of their presence in the public sphere. An example of this can be found in the case of Laghman province’s women’s affairs directorate position that did not remain vacant even after the second director’s <a href="http://www.stripes.com/the-most-dangerous-job-in-afghanistan-1.213694">assassination.</a> Although the dangers of women’s civic and political rights remaining symbolic persist, the impact of sustained international&nbsp; interventions -&nbsp; despite all their problems - cannot be simply ignored. The notion that things will regress to the situation of the late 1990s is impossible. </p> <p>Afghanistan’s commitment towards women’s rights, and ensuring that the advancement of Afghan women in different fields can be sustained, will continue to be important sources of concern for the coming years, as will anxiety that the future leadership might compromise women’s rights for the sake of political deals with conservative forces inside or outside the government. With the support of international donors, and under pressure from civil society and the media, the current government has managed (despite challenges) to make some improvements in different political, social and economic <a href="http://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1871/Top%2010%20Accomplishments.pdf">fields</a>. However, there are serious concerns over the lack of balance between what the vast majority of women who live in rural areas are gaining from these achievements, and what the smaller numbers of urban-based women who are closer to the centre get. Although Afghanistan’s rural women have manifested a strong level of agency, neither they nor the programmes and projects that were implemented such as National Solidarity Program (NSP) in their communities, have encouraged them to transcend their socially prescribed gender roles. This is mainly because Afghan women have learnt lessons from the <a href="http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=CPVZo2FF5fkC&amp;pg=PR15&amp;lpg=PR15&amp;dq=PDPA+policies+in+Afghanistan,+women&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=1iU-2TJO6m&amp;sig=FnuaE9KYnSPry2LJ8zaGTQ6aCEs&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=olITU4WOM8mshQf-ioDwDQ&amp;ved=0CE4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&amp;q=PDPA%20policies%20in%">past experience</a> of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan's ( PDPA) radical approaches to changing society. A now prevalent approach by women, particularly in the rural context, has been to pursue gradual and moderate change rather than a radical transformation. Hence, while women are active and working, they continue their own ways of resistance under a strongly patriarchal system of norms and rules. </p> <p>The parliament of Afghanistan on the other hand, has a mounting record of rejecting laws and bills that support women rights. It rejected the Elimination of Violence Against Women’s Law (EVAW) in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/torunn-wimpelmann/problematic-protection-law-on-elimination-of-violence-against-women-in-afghan">2009 and in 2013.</a> It resisted the idea of gendered <a href="http://www.gender-budgets.org/">budgeting</a> when some of female MPs raised the question of how national budgeting would affect women across sectors. It has been locked in controversy over the issue of protection of women’s shelters, calling them <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/world/asia/womens-rights-seen-as-vulnerable-to-reversal-in-afghanistan.html?_r=0">centres for immorality</a>.&nbsp; Although part of the resistance by highly influential conservative members of parliament has to do with a dominant mentality in Afghan society that takes the subordination of women for granted, another part is mainly to do with the politics of relations between the president and the parliament. In other words, there is ongoing bargaining between the legislative and executive branches of government when&nbsp; ministers appointed by the president are not approved by the parliament, and when parliament uses its power to block laws intended to protect women that come to them through the Ministry of Justice. The question of women’s rights serves as a bargaining chip in these cases, establishing their respective legitimising agendas. Although the conservative MPs may not establish clear technical grounds for their refusal, they resort to invoking a particular version of Islamic interpretation to “prove” how “<a href="http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2013/05/27/protesting-women-say-no-changes-evaw-law">un-Islamic</a>” these laws or bills or mechanisms are. Given that not all members of the parliament are well-informed and competent on the technical aspects of the laws, they follow the verdicts of the so -called “scholar” or the man whose appearance is more “Islamic”, rather than hearing the voices of women or other MPs. </p> <p>The overall effects of donor assistance on women’s rights in Afghanistan have been quite <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">problematic</a>. At the heart of the problem is an interventionist approach, where not only the funding but the soft-ware aspects of the planning are normative, and applied in a cut-and-paste fashion - overlooking the demands of the context in which they are applied. One example of such an approach is the facile assumption that has influenced international perceptions, namely portraying the Taliban as the sole enemy of women’s rights in Afghanistan. </p> <p>It has been proven repeatedly over the past decade that there are other conservative forces within the system who cannot tolerate the active presence of women in any sector. The parliamentarian <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22579098">blockage</a> of EVAW law, and the anti-safe house <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/9346779/Afghan-women-in-shelters-are-prostitutes-says-justice-minister.html">reactions</a> by Ministry of Justice and other government officials are examples of this. Most of the programmes and projects put in place have somehow ignored this reality, and have fallen into the trap of not seeing the enormous challenge that women’s rights defenders and activists are facing, not only by being targeted, threatened or humiliated by the Taliban, but also by other forces who appear modern - being clean-shaven and in suits and ties - and who occupy seats in Afghanistan’s parliament or other government positions. These men are as conservative as those whose appearance automatically singles them out as conservative and misogynist. This also suggests that a critical lesson could be learnt from the past decade: that it is necessary to address the mentality underlying the subordination of women as key to discrimination, rather than just accepting at face value the superficial jargon that some use to claim the extent of their “respect” for women’s rights. The fact that gender equality was turned into a political slogan by the international donors and was used as justification for military intervention, meant that Afghan women on the ground were given less opportunity to take an active part in the formulation, design and implementation of the programmes, and the gap was filled by those who might have had “technical” expertise in the field of gender, but lacked&nbsp; familiarity with the local context and its dynamics. </p> <p>In sum, it is hugely problematic to connect the status of women’s rights to the presence or absence of international security forces in Afghanistan. Such an assumption or understanding is tantamount to believing that the troops were here to ‘liberate’ Afghan women, which was certainly not the case. It can also be argued that the subordination of women and their discrimination is not the monopoly of one group who led Afghanistan between 1996-2001, such as the Taliban. It goes well beyond that since there are conservative forces within the current system who over the past decade have continued to jeopardize women’s rights in the fields of legal reform, political participation and across governance sectors. As we move on to the next phase, while a real “zero option” is not so far seriously part of the agenda, the decrease of funding levels and political commitment by the international community certainly is. The question remains as to whether the main slogans such as “reform and continuity”; “moderation and equality”, “reform and convergence” of the leading presidential <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/03/afghanistan-election-guide-candidates-list">contenders</a>, carrying messages of continuity and preservation and protection of the achievements of the past decade, will go beyond empty promises. This will be crucial not only to sustain these achievements, but also to take corrective action by addressing past failures. This can only be achieved by opening new spaces for Afghan women, as well as men, working for women’s rights, to come together and take stock of the lessons learnt in order to ensure that the next phase is more inclusive of women across the country, in rural and urban areas, than it has been for the past decade. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mohammad-jawad-shahabi-torunn-wimpelmann/anti-women-gag-law-in-afghanistan-pitfalls-of-hasty-co">The anti-women gag law in Afghanistan: the pitfalls of hasty conclusions</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/torunn-wimpelmann/problematic-protection-law-on-elimination-of-violence-against-women-in-afghan">Problematic protection: the law on Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">Gender in Afghanistan: pragmatic activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/negotiating-with-taliban-view-from-below">Negotiating with the Taliban: the view from below</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/afiya-shehrbano-zia/taliban-agent-or-victim">Taliban: agent or victim? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sara-mojtehedzadeh/meeting-in-monochrome-women-and-afghanistan-conference">Meeting in monochrome: women and the Afghanistan conference</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Afghanistan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Afghanistan Civil society Equality From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter women's movements women's human rights women and power women and militarism patriarchy gender fundamentalisms Orzala Ashraf Nemat Thu, 13 Mar 2014 11:49:33 +0000 Orzala Ashraf Nemat 80235 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="blockquote-new">“<em>As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world</em>.” (Virginia Woolf ) </p> <p>On Monday, the British Library hosted a meeting on <a href="http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event156332.html">“Sisterhood: Greenham in Common”</a>. This brought together film director Beeban Kidron (now a baroness in the House of ‘Lords’); Labour MP Dame Joan Ruddock, former Chair of CND; Sasha Roseneil, Professor of Sociology and Social Theory at the University of London’s Birkbeck Institute, and me. Each of us was involved with the Greenham Common Women’s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenham_Common_Women%27s_Peace_Camp">Peace Camp</a> in the 1980s – in rather different ways. The panellists and several audience members commented how Greenham – “the largest feminist social movement in recent times” has been almost completely left out of mainstream histories and retrospective programmes on the 20th century.&nbsp; That got me thinking. </p> <p>Feminist campaigning gets acknowledged (mostly) when we focus specifically on issues viewed as female – equal pay, reproductive rights, and so on – but not when we mobilise on the broader, human issues like militarism, weapons, war, security, poverty and peacebuilding. As male commentators line up to present anniversary programmes on the patriotic men who followed their leaders into the trenches of the First World War, few mention the courageous intelligence of the 1,136 women from Europe and North America, who met in the Hague in April 1915 to challenge the militaristic stupidities that were engulfing Europe in yet another bloodbath.&nbsp; </p> <p>The 1915 Congress of Women was the start of the&nbsp; <a href="http://www.ukwilpf.org/history">Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom</a> (WILPF), which continues to be at the forefront of international initiatives on peace and security 99 years later.&nbsp; With participants from all the nations involved in destroying those hundreds of thousands of dutiful young men, the Congress formulated some 20 resolutions with practical proposals that ranged from the immediate – to halt the carnage and mediate between the warring governments – to longer term solutions, including establishing “a world institution that would provide continuous machinery to mediate arising conflicts [and] prevent them from growing into wars”.&nbsp; Some met with US President Woodrow Wilson, who reportedly “borrowed” and applied many of the women’s proposals. Prophetically, WILPF later critiqued the Versailles Treaty, recognising how its punitive approach towards defeated Germany would pave the way for later, even bloodier wars. </p> <p>Nearly a hundred years later, WILPF is going stronger than ever. Headed now by human rights lawyer Madeleine Rees, WILPF is at the forefront of proposals to involve women in the peace processes of <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syria</a> and Afghanistan, together with the <a href="http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women’s Initiative</a> (NWI), <a href="http://www.codepink4peace.org/">Code Pink</a> and <a href="http://www.madre.org/">Madre</a>.&nbsp; Closer ties between these feminist peacebuilders have been forged over years of campaigning, organising separately and together, developing feminist strategies through gatherings such as last year’s <a href="http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/our-blogs/women-beyond-war/">Belfast Conference on Moving Beyond Militarism and War,</a> hosted by several NWI Nobel laureates, to learn from our different experiences and plan joint actions and ways to support each other.&nbsp; These links amplified all our work, from banning nuclear weapons and killer robots, to dealing with the pervasive violence that blights women’s lives and development in places ravaged by rape gangs, drug warlords and religious militias, with leadership from the African and Latin American laureates. </p> <p>In the Cold War, WILPF was largely dismissed – at least in the United States –as a communist front. Once the Cold War was over, WILPF had a difficult transition, but came back stronger and more relevant than ever.&nbsp; With help and encouragement, it was ideally placed (with offices close to the United Nations in Geneva and New York) to expand the cutting edge reporting and analysis of UN disarmament talks that <a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym</a> initiated in the 1990s on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).&nbsp; As it brought a new generation of bright young women into civil society diplomacy through <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/">Reaching Critical Will</a>, WILPF also founded <a href="http://www.peacewomen.org/">Peacewomen.org</a>, and has continued to play an important role in many disarmament networks, most recently the <a href="http://www.icanw.org/">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)</a>, providing thought-provoking analyses on the humanitarian consequences – and imperative – to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. </p> <p>There are patriarchal reasons why women are disproportionately made to suffer in wars. It should not be surprising that women have also been disproportionately active in resisting and challenging violence, wars and armed oppression.&nbsp; But you wouldn’t think so by looking at mainstream media or the ‘peace negotiations’ led by the UN and nations wielding vetoes in the Security Council.&nbsp; Lip service to involving women may be paid, as that is regarded these days as a necessary nod to UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).&nbsp; In fact, women continue to be <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">silenced and excluded</a> – mainly because we don’t fit into the ‘sides’ or ‘categories’ that political men use to frame who and what are important in the world. </p> <p>Feminist work on peace and security doesn’t ‘fit’ the patriarchal narratives of women’s work and men’s importance, or of ‘good’ and bad’ sides with strength and power.&nbsp; Mainstream historians just fail to comprehend the many ways in which our multifaceted challenges have changed history.&nbsp; We don’t fit into limited histories that are embedded in misogyny, racism and the limitations of military-industrial propaganda, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t there.&nbsp; </p> <p>War is never simple or reducible to ‘people like us’ versus ‘evil enemies’.&nbsp; No matter what the messy causes, corrupt and stupid leaders, ideological justifications and money made by weapons profiteers, it makes a difference if you choose to be on the multiple sides of the women, civilians, duped cannon fodder and displaced. Feminist peacebuilding promotes the security needs of all the vulnerable people who get trapped in the middle of violence perpetrated by militias, militaries, terrorists and gangs that are barely distinguishable apart from some uniforms and nationalistic insignia. </p> <p>As women we’ve understood that military victories are generally transient and pyrrhic. Peace requires disarmament, justice, and the longer term creation of responsive institutions and shared decision-making, to support the needs and aspirations of all ‘sides’.&nbsp; Sustainable peace requires paying attention to what women say are the causes and solutions to conflict in our communities and countries.&nbsp; Women don’t speak with one voice any more than men do, so putting a token woman on a delegation changes little. Sustainable security requires putting at least 50 percent women – from all backgrounds – front and centre of negotiations for peace and disarmament, not just occasionally but in every significant meeting and negotiating forum. </p> <p>As I write this I have just heard that <a href="http://www.codepink4peace.org/">Code Pink</a> co-founder Medea Benjamin was beaten up, detained and deported from Egypt this week, and <a href="http://www.codepink4peace.org/article.php?id=6648">Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and Irish peace activist Ann Patterson</a> were among peace-women who were arrested and deported for trying to take food and medicines to Gaza.&nbsp; Having spent time blockading the UK’s Faslane and Aldermaston nuclear bases with Mairead and Ann, I wasn’t surprised to hear they had chosen to become personally involved to bring practical aid and support for the Palestinian women and families, trapped between the manipulations and injustices of warring patriarchal factions and nuclear-armed Israel’s Occupation policies.&nbsp; Peace-making isn’t just about talk or diplomatic resolutions, but about practical action to help the vulnerable and promote fundamental change. From Egypt, Libya and Syria – and now Ukraine – what started as civil society ‘awakenings’ have been distorted by militarised factions seeking control. Unsurprisingly, most of these appear to be dominated by men who condone violence against women and the suppression of dissent, including arrests and brutality to silence journalists and citizen bloggers.&nbsp; </p> <p>Virginia Woolf wrote “As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”&nbsp; This is our feminist credo: from <a href="http://www.womeninblack.org/en/vigil">Women in Black</a> (founded in Jerusalem in 1989, taken up in Belgrade in 1992, and now a worldwide feminist network against militarism and war)&nbsp; to <a href="http://www.millionwomenrise.com/">Million Women Rise</a>, who march on International Women’s Day opposing violence against women and linking with campaigns against racist tolerance of violence perpetrated in the name of ‘culture’;&nbsp; from forced marriages to the rape of lesbians, from the genital mutilation of little girls to the maiming of everyone’s minds through pornography, sexual trafficking and the peculiarly British Page 3 displays of young women’s semi-naked bodies in daily newspapers.&nbsp; </p> <p>As a woman, my country is still being formed: by millions of feminist peacebuilders, sharing power and working for disarmament, peace, justice and – yes – control over our fertility and our sexuality, and over our minds and bodies. </p><p><em>Read more articles by Rebecca Johnson on 50.50's dialogue</em>: <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-non-proliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation </a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-ward/excluded-and-silenced-women-in-northern-ireland-after-peace-process">Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/plotting-for-woman-shaped-peace-syrian-and-bosnian-women-confer">Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/occupy-movement-and-women-of-greenham-common">The Occupy movement and the women of Greenham Common </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/what-kind-of-feminism-does-war-provoke">What kind of feminism does war provoke?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/to-eliminate-wmd-we-need-to-disarm-patriarchy">To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-slavenka-drakulic/slavenka-drakuli%C4%87-violence-memory-and-nation">Slavenka Drakulić: violence, memory, and the nation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/building-culture-of-love-replacing-culture-of-violence-and-death">Building a culture of love: replacing a culture of violence and death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sumeja-tulic/breaking-up-with-lame-protests-in-bosnia">Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/longing-for-%E2%80%98normality%E2%80%99-women%E2%80%99s-experience-of-post-war-bosnia-herzegovina-0">Longing for ‘normality’: women’s experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/is-it-time-for-worldwide-strategy-for-building-of-peace">Is it time for a worldwide strategy for the building of peace?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-point-of-no-return">Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/where-we-must-stand-african-women-in-age-of-war">Where we must stand: African women in an age of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/no-woman%E2%80%99s-body-should-be-battlefield">No woman’s body should be a battlefield</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter women's movements women and power women and militarism patriarchy gender feminism bodily autonomy women's work Rebecca Johnson Fri, 07 Mar 2014 08:27:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 80049 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sri Lanka: women in conflict https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/sri-lanka-women-in-conflict <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/tamilProtest.jpg" alt="Women holding a banner" title="" width="240" height="152" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>On 8th March 2014, <a href="http://www.uktamilnews.com/tamil/english/news/latest-updates/international-womens-day-in-uk-2014.html">Sri Lankan Tamil women</a> will form a contingent to join the million women rise <a href="http://www.millionwomenrise.com/">march</a> in central London with a banner declaring, ‘Raped, Abused, Widowed and Forgotten: Tamil Women in Sri Lanka Still in Tears’. What happened to the aspirations of Tamil women in the national liberation struggle which lasted nearly 30 years? I covered the beginnings of this conflict for Outwrite, a feminist anti-racist newspaper in the mid-80s, and it <strong>is </strong>particularly poignant to return to this issue when the war appears to be decisively over but the post-war situation remains as harrowing as ever, particularly for women.</p> <p>As with all ex-colonies of Britain, Sri Lanka was left a divided society at independence in 1948. The minority Tamils had been given preference in educational opportunities and jobs under the British, sowing discontent among the majority Sinhala community who after independence sought to establish their hegemony through a number of discriminatory policies such as replacing English with Sinhala as the official language. This prevented Tamils from getting jobs in government or having to resign because they lacked fluency in Sinhala. Admission of Tamil students to universities was restricted in favour of Sinhalese students by raising the qualifying marks needed by Tamil students. Numerous pogroms against the Tamil community took place in the 50s and 70s. The elected representatives of the Tamil community were ineffective in preventing the onslaught against the community. Unemployed, educated and disaffected young men in the North and East of SL came together to form a militant organisation in the 70s which eventually came to be known as the LTTE (Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam) or Tamil Tigers for short. Their key demand was for an independent homeland for Tamils: Eelam.&nbsp; It all kicked off in 1983, when the Tigers carried out an attack on the Sri Lankan army, killing 13 soldiers. Mobs orchestrated by the government took their revenge by going on the rampage against the Tamil community. The fighting continued until 2009 when the government cornered the Tigers and approximately 300,000 refugees in a ‘no-fire zone’ which was nonetheless bombarded by planes, killing 40,000 people in the final five months of the conflict <a href="http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/The_Internal_Review_Panel_report_on_Sri_Lanka.pdf">according to the UN</a>. </p> <p>Against the background of this very complex and prolonged war, I want to explore the ways in which women were able to exercise agency in roles which are both prescribed and proscribed by patriarchy: women as political agents; as active participants in the war; and as survivors during the war and afterwards. Unlike other South Asian countries, literacy rates for women in SL are extremely high at around 90 per cent and they were not generally subject to some of the more extreme oppressions such as dowry deaths, infanticide, or seclusion of women although FGM is practised within its small Muslim community. </p> <p>Again and again in conflict situations and not just in Sri Lanka, we see women lead on peace initiatives – a political role which is accepted and even encouraged by wider society because essentialised narratives of gender associate women with mothering, nurturing, caring and peace. However, a tipping point is reached beyond which the dominant national narrative, which sustains the war, is undermined and the safe ‘prescribed’ role for women becomes subversive and intolerable. Take Women for Peace, a mainly Sinhalese initiative, which was active in the mid-80s: as mothers who had lost their sons, they reached out to Tamil women, for example, the Mothers’ Front of Jaffna, who had also lost their sons (in those days any male from the ages of 14 to 25 would be rounded up by the army as potential terrorists, more recently it was the Tigers who were forcibly abducting children and turning them into fighters). Both groups campaigned against a military solution. As mothers grieving for lost sons, they were given a certain amount of latitude. However, when their campaign strayed into critiques of militarization, rapes by the army, detention without trial and when they hosted joint workshops with Tamil women, they came under attack for being unpatriotic, pro-Tiger and therefore pro-terrorist. They also faced the more familiar gender based slurs of being whisky drinking lesbians who were embezzling foreign aid.</p> <p>The Mothers’ Front in Jaffna faced similar hostility.&nbsp; The battlefront was mainly in the North, the change in their material circumstances had shaken conservative social mores. For example, there was little public transport available, so women started riding motorbikes, sometimes 3 women on one, throwing pamphlets as they whizzed by. In response, an anonymous pamphlet was put out called the 10 Commandments for Women which included strictures like, don’t cut your hair, don’t wear short dresses, don’t ride bikes, don’t go out with men who are not your husbands and so on. Incidentally, the Tamil community in the north was much more conservative than the mixed, cosmopolitan society down South; a phenomenon that is seen all over the world and is common to minority communities in Britain – a community under siege, discriminated against, closes in on itself and preserves its traditions in aspic. But the liberation struggle had thrown all this up in the air. Tamil women started to question the four virtues by which they had to live – acham (fear especially of unknown men), madam (honesty), nanam (bashfulness especially in sexual matters) and payirpu (subordination to men). Tamil feminists also started asking, <em>Why is it that the militant boy who gets injured is a hero and the girl who gets raped is expected to commit suicide? </em></p> <p>Whilst these peace initiatives took women into a public sphere which had been more or less closed to them and attracted the venom of conservative sections of society, there was also, in my opinion, a valid political critique to be made of the equivalence implied in the reaching out to each other when in actual fact there was no level playing field. When the mainly Sinhalese Women for Peace published a pamphlet in the mid-80s carrying accounts of a Tamil woman and a Sinhalese woman mourning the loss of their sons, it equated the suffering of both sides and diminished the political context that one community had to take to arms to protect itself against a brutal and racist state. The Sinhalese women supported a federal solution with greater autonomy for the Tamils, they saw it as an ethnic question and not a national one. For the Tamil women, nothing less than an independent homeland would protect them. The underlying politics seemed irreconcilable.* </p> <p>The Tamil Tigers erupted from this society, producing pamphlets on their vision of a utopian independent state run along secular Marxist lines. In November 1983, they released a pamphlet, ‘Women and revolution’ written by Adele, the Australian wife of their chief ideologue Anton Balasingham and leader of the Women’s Wing of the Tigers. It encouraged women to join the national liberation struggle by looking at the role of women in liberation struggles in Palestine, South Africa, Eritrea and Nicaragua. It advocated ’participating in the struggle for national freedom [because] women free themselves from the constraints of social oppression, replacing traditional norms and values with revolutionary conceptions of women’s place in society.’&nbsp; At Outwrite, we critiqued these high sounding ideals because in the early days, women were playing the traditional roles of nursing, cooking and acting as couriers for the struggle. To make matters worse, the Tigers put up posters asking women to have more children i.e. cannon fodder for the movement. The women put out a counter leaflet refusing to co-operate with the demand. This was in the 80s. </p> <p>However, in the 90s, women became active in combat in fairly large numbers. The first group of <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/alison/research/cogs_in_the_wheel/cogs_in_the_wheel.pdf">women were trained</a> for combat in 1985 in India and their presence as fighters really grew in the 90s. The naval force, the Sea Tigers was predominantly made up of women and the Black Tigers, the suicide squad had a large female presence. In fact, the daring suicide bombing which killed Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian PM in 1991, was carried out by a woman. Loss of men was an important reason for the Tigers to recruit women. According to <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/alison/research/cogs_in_the_wheel/cogs_in_the_wheel.pdf">Miranda Alison</a> who interviewed women Tigers in 2002, their motivation in joining included the killing of a loved one, displacement, the suffering of the community, nationalist sentiment, the desire for a homeland in which they would not be discriminated against on ethnic and gender lines,&nbsp; breaking of gender&nbsp; taboos, escaping traditional constraints, gaining equality by joining the militants, anger at rapes carried out by IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) and the Sri Lankan army, but also the search for protection from rape that they felt they would be accorded by the Tigers. “Driving tanks for the Tigers when they weren’t even allowed to ride bikes as kids” was part of the liberation that the women delighted in. </p> <p>Although forcible child recruitment, murder, ethnic cleansing and the brutality of the Tigers towards traitors and rival groups are well-documented, what is also well-documented is that <a href="http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/blog/entry/no-war-doesnt-have-to-mean-rape">women did not generally face sexual violence</a> from their fellow Tigers. According to <a href="http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/blog/entry/no-war-doesnt-have-to-mean-rape">Elizabeth Woods</a>, ethnic cleansing is “a classic setting for widespread rape.” Although the Tigers forcibly displaced 75,000 Muslims from northern Sri Lanka, there were no reports of sexualised violence. From a feminist point of view, when all of us are working to bring about a society where sexual violence will be eliminated, this is extremely interesting. For women to feel safer in a ‘proscribed’ role than the ‘prescribed’ says a lot about the presumed safety of remaining within socially prescribed roles..</p> <p>Elizabeth Woods believes that it could be attributed to the Tigers’&nbsp; ‘deep political training’ and that it is possible to train soldiers to abide by anti-rape policies just as they are trained to fire guns. Jo Becker, a child soldier expert at Human Rights Watch, was also surprised by the lack of sexualised violence in the Tiger ranks. She says, “Although girls recruited as child soldiers in other conflicts have routinely reported rape or being forced to become a wife/sexual slave to a military commander, the Tamil Tigers were remarkably disciplined in prohibiting even consensual sexual activity between their cadres.” Another <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Lines-Childhood-Batticaloa-Lilienthal/dp/0520245164">researcher</a> found that when a group of Tigers gangraped a 13 year old girl, their hands were tied and they were dragged behind a tractor, crying out for water as they died. </p> <p>In the short-term, the effectiveness of resolving violence with violence may achieve its goal, but what kind of values are being promoted in the long term. Feminist <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/alison/research/cogs_in_the_wheel/cogs_in_the_wheel.p%60">critiques</a> have focussed on the militant and militarist nature of the LTTE as being inherently anti-feminist and have argued that so many years of armed conflict cannot be seen as a project of empowerment. And yet, we must acknowledge the high levels of participation by women in a variety of roles in the struggle. Alison was struck by the confidence and poise of the Tiger women she interviewed, as compared to women in the general populace. </p> <p>We cannot judge whether this empowerment would have been sustained in the new nation because “<a href="http://www.icanpeacework.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Slanka-final.pdf">Sri Lanka</a> is lauded as the first country to eradicate terrorism on its own soil”. We have seen with other liberation struggles like that in Zimbabwe or the Indian Independence movement that women’s entry into the public sphere proved to be temporary. </p> <p>The war may have ended but the violence continues. There has been no systematic disarmament and reports of violence in private and public spheres are endemic. There has been an explosion of domestic violence. Women reported that levels of domestic violence used to be lower in Tiger-controlled areas because the Tigers had a de facto justice system to <a href="http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/alison/research/cogs_in_the_wheel/cogs_in_the_wheel.pdf">deal with domestic violence</a>. “At the first complaint of domestic violence the abuser is given a warning, at the second he is fined, and at the third he may be put in an LTTE prison.” Tamil women are once again vulnerable to rape by the Sri Lankan army which has moved into the north to carry out ‘reconstruction’. There are 90,000 widows under the age of 40 and although women have been flexible in stepping out of their ‘prescribed’ roles of housework and childcare into male jobs such as fishing, mechanics and cement making, unemployment levels are double that of men. The stigma of widowhood is strong in Hindu culture which has resulted in forced marriages at a scale which was previously non-existent. Survival in this devastated community has also led to an increase in sex work and trafficking to the Middle-East as maids. There are also reports that some <a href="http://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/tamil-women-soldiers-recruited-to-sri-lankan-army/">Tiger women have joined the SL army</a>, stationed as civil affairs co-ordinators in the Tamil majority areas and are welcomed by the Tamil communities who feel safer in their presence. </p> <p>There are many issues raised here which need further interrogation. When we talk of equality for women in a liberation struggle, it begs the question: is it liberating for a woman to pick up a gun? That begs a further question: if it is a war of liberation rather than aggression fought in the belief that it will deliver a nation where women can live as equals and if taking up arms is the only way left, then is it justified? Do peace initiatives across historical divides necessarily mean further compromise for the unequal partner? If sexualised violence is absent from some conflicts, or fighting forces, what lessons can be learnt so that rape is no longer a regular feature of war?</p> <p><em>This article is based on a talk by the author, ‘Women in Conflict’ given at King’s College, University of Cambridge for International Women’s Day.</em></p> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter women's movements women and power women and militarism violence against women gender justice gender feminism women's work Rahila Gupta Fri, 07 Mar 2014 08:12:33 +0000 Rahila Gupta 80032 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bosnia and the universal theme of police brutality https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sumeja-tulic/bosnia-and-universal-theme-of-police-brutality <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the Bosnian protests of the last months, the global scenario of police brutality has been re-enacted, with local specifics.&nbsp; And the violence of the police is itself a symptom of the failure of the current Bosnian political order.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all instinctively grasp an idea of globalisation – the <em>individual global we,</em> who wear the same clothes, likes the same websites, and love and hate the same public figures. Yet, every now and then, we are surprised by our lack of individuality – at least I am disappointed by my own. One thinks she is living a particular life, with a particular scenery and a unique form of Weltschmerz – then, surprise, surprise! From Caracas to Kiev and further, comes the fist of global conventions, the waves of universal themes, dictating the everyday, causing problems and shaping solutions.</p> <p>Still, in small places, of which Sarajevo is an examplary case, people believe that in the heaven of the small they are secured from the most cruel aspects of the global – the absense of personal connections that are fading with each new block of buildings that are built, with each advancment of the smart technology that facilitates constant human interaction. For God's sake, Sarajevo is hardly expanding! And even if it does expand, the social distance between two people is one item of gossip away from social security numbers and family secrets revolving around the ancestor who was born with a pig's&nbsp;tail. &nbsp;</p> <p>This is why I’m never ready – even years into reading <a href="https://www.civilrightsdefenders.org/news/police-violence-against-demonstrators-in-bosnia-herzegovina-must-be-investigated/">reports</a> and professional concerns – to interview a minor who has been beaten and humiliated by a policeman in Sarajevo. It happens everywhere – in New York you might get frisked and shot at if you are wearing a hoodie and the wrong skin tone, but that is New York and we in Sarajevo are one big family, apparently.</p> <p>After the burning of the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26086857">public building in Sarajevo,</a> around 38 boys and men were detained. Their account of the events following the hours of February 7 are set in detention units and are about fists, slaps, heavy boots and police bats shoved at defenseless bodies, handcuffed hands and heads leaning down.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/Bosnia police CRD.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/Bosnia police CRD.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Image courtesy of <em>Civil Rights Defenders</em></p> <p>A demonstrator, a wrestler, enters the room to tell his story.&nbsp; He walks with difficulty and even a week after the events he looks angry. He starts his story like any of Ivo <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/specials/kosovo/article24.html">Andric’s</a> characters – by softly hinting at the metaphysical in the very physical. “It all started when they threw us in the river,” he said. On February 7th, the police had employed a local lyrical metaphor of one women’s’ suicidal attempts, by throwing people we are supposed to guard into the river.</p> <p>The river in question is a dull and smelly one, which you notice only when needing to find the nearest bridge to cross it. Demonstrators, some pensioners and women, were standing next to a wall dividing the pedestrian part of the street from a steep hill that ended in that smelly dull river. After the wrestler regained consciousness at the riverbank, he took a bat wrapped in the senseless hands of an unconscious man lying next to him. He took the bat and climbed up to find the policeman that pushed him down.</p> <p>The South Slavs that left agriculture and went to live in cities and work in factories have an illustrative metaphor used to describe the instance when one is being taken advantage of. They say <em>You are being fooled like an old and simple aunt from the countryside whose urban relatives take money from a bundle she uses as a wallet. </em>Every citizen of Bosnia is a prototype of this aunt from the countryside, but some of us are more so. The ‘more so’ among us – desperate, neglected, hungry and even homeless – were most of the 38 who were detained. </p><p>Beating them, warning them to lie to the doctor and say that they fell down &nbsp;the stairs, ordering their parents to sit on their knees and keep their hands above their heads while waiting in the police stations<em> –</em> all of this is part of the global scenario of police brutality that the many ‘police trainings’ and ‘reformatory processes’ facilitated by the international community in its many incarnations have not prevented.&nbsp; It plays out with the same repeated acts in spite of local differences.</p> <p>The silver lining of all this is that the marks left by our own – our men, our people – are finally visible. So far, in modern Bosnian history, it has been the other – the aggressor, the enemy, the supposed one and the real one – that has scared us. Finally, we see the master political scam that runs through the veins of the <a href="http://balkanist.net/an-open-letter-to-the-international-community-in-the-bosnia-and-herzegovina/">ethno-nationalist set up</a>. Boundless, unaccountable, criminal power is just that. The genealogy of who’s holding the bat and smashing your teeth doesn’t matter.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sumeja-tulic/breaking-up-with-lame-protests-in-bosnia">Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/stef-jansen/bosnia-and-herzegovina-putting-social-justice-on-agenda">Bosnia and Herzegovina: putting social justice on the agenda</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/bosnias-error-of-othering">Bosnia&#039;s error of othering</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/heather-mcrobie-sadzida-tulic/ratko-mladi%C4%87s-arrest-start-but-let-it-not-obscure-how-much-more-is-nee">Ratko Mladić&#039;s arrest: a start, but let it not obscure how much more is needed for justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hopkins/we-are-hungry-in-three-languages-citizens-protest-in-bosnia">&quot;We are hungry in three languages&quot;: citizens protest in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-slavenka-drakulic/slavenka-drakuli%C4%87-violence-memory-and-nation">Slavenka Drakulić: violence, memory, and the nation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/longing-for-%E2%80%98normality%E2%80%99-women%E2%80%99s-experience-of-post-war-bosnia-herzegovina-0">Longing for ‘normality’: women’s experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? human rights europe Bosnian Citizens Protest 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Sumeja Tulic Spotlight on Bosnia Mon, 03 Mar 2014 09:27:33 +0000 Sumeja Tulic 79833 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Plotting for a woman-shaped peace: Syrian and Bosnian women confer https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/cynthia-cockburn/plotting-for-woman-shaped-peace-syrian-and-bosnian-women-confer <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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. &nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/3SarajevoView.jpg" alt="Cityscape in black and white" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sarajevo, new and old. Photo: Cynthia Cockburn</span></span></span></p><p>The war now raging in Syria differs in many ways from the frenzy of ethnic aggression that afflicted Bosnia-Herzegovina twenty years ago. Nonetheless, when twenty Syrian women sat down in Sarajevo on February 10 for a five-day exchange of experience with Bosnian counterparts they found plenty of common ground. Both groups described hyper-masculinized societies featuring the sexual abuse of women as men's weapon of choice for humiliating enemy males. And Bosnian women recognized themselves in Syrian women's stories of misogynistic religious conservatism encroaching on their secular and civil space. Even in areas where you are safe from bullets or barrel bombs, 'It's ever harder to go out of doors without head cover and a man,' said one young Syrian participant. </p> <p>This conference in Sarajevo, organized by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) brought Syrian women directly from the conflict, and yet others from refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The meeting coincided with UN-mediated peace negotiations being conducted in Switzerland, at which Syrian women's organizations, despite support by <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/">UN Women</a>, <a href="http://www.wilpfinternational.org/">WILPF</a> and other international NGOs, had so far failed to get representation. The purpose of the Sarajevo conference was for Syrian women to strategize in the light of Bosnian women's experience of exclusion from the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dayton_Agreement">Dayton peace negotiations of 1995</a>, and the consequent marginalization of women's interests in the post-conflict decades. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/4Nawal&amp;Two2.jpg" alt="Three women on a panel at a talk." title="Panel" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nawal Yazeji of the Syrian Women's League (centre), with Oula Ramadan (left) and Reem Aleppo (right). Photo: Cynthia Cockburn</span></span></span></p><p>Bosnian women recalled how the war had galvanized them in projects of self-help and mutual help. Memories of unity in Yugoslav days had enabled some of them to reach out across the ethnic conflict lines and support each other in work for women refugees and survivors of war rape. But the negotiation of a peace agreement, when the moment came, had taken place five thousand miles away at an airbase in Dayton, Ohio. The negotiators, dragged to the table by international actors, were the male war leaders, their sole motivation to retain territory and maximize power. Women and civil society had no presence and no voice in that process. What's worse, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dayton_Agreement#Content_of_the_agreement">Dayton peace accord</a> simultaneously created a state and a constitution. It drew territorial lines between the now deeply antagonized Serb, Croat and Bosniak (Muslim) identity groups in such a way that each became a dominating majority in one part and disadvantaged minority in the others. What's more, the constitution set up a clumsy fourteen-level political and administrative system, further subdividing the population, impeding public services and inviting corruption. </p><p>'You see,' Gorana Mlinarević told the meeting, 'the Dayton Peace Agreement taught us precisely how <em>not </em>to live together'. The lesson for the Syrians was: get your act together now, with all the international support you can muster, to achieve a voice in the peace negotiations. And on no account allow the negotiators to double as constitution-builders. The constitution must be hammered out later, back home, in an inclusive, democratic process. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/2Nela&amp;Gorana2.jpg" alt="Two women look at a computer together" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" width="400" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nela Porobić, coordinator of WILPF's Syria programme, with Gorana Mlinarević (right). Photo: Cynthia Cockburn</span></span></span></p><p>The Syrian women reflected on the Bosnian experience in separate daily strategy meetings. They also discussed what they could learn from Bosnian women's struggle for '<a href="http://ictj.org/about/transitional-justice">transitional justice</a>' after the war. They learned how, post-war, the Bosnian women had pressured the government for legislation giving women survivors of rape in the war the right to acknowledgment and reparation. They were deeply touched by the testimony of Nura Begović and Hatidža Mehmedović, two elderly members of the <a href="http://www.srebrenica.ba/index.en.php">Srebrenica Women's Association </a>who are still pursuing the perpetrators of the massacre of ten thousand men in that Bosnian enclave in July 1995. Many of the Syrian women told how they are trying right now to document human rights abuses occurring in the course of the fighting, to get autopsies done, medical evidence of injuries recorded and deaths certified, with a view to taking war criminals to court when the fighting ends. </p><p>The solidarity that grew between the Bosnian and Syrian women during these intense five days was heart-warming to see. Bonding was fostered by the organizers' understanding that emotions matter as much as thoughts: participants could take a break at any moment to enjoy "wellbeing" sessions run by feminist therapists. Another gift was skilled and sensitive three-way language interpretation between Arabic, Bosnian and English. </p> <p>However, it early became apparent that, despite sharing a language, the Syrian women were seriously challenged to reconcile their political differences. Attendance at the conference had been by open application. The women who came were of different ages, differently feminist, and active in women's organizations with a range of views as regards a solution of the conflict. Some, like those of the <a href="http://passblue.com/tag/syrian-womens-league/">Syrian Women's League</a>, and its partner organizations in the <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/56993/World/Region/Syrian-Womens-Forum-for-Peace-kicks-off-in-Cairo-.aspx">Coalition of Syrian Women for Democracy</a>, including Msawat (Equality), were already deeply committed to gaining access to the Geneva peace negotiations. Others saw a certain elitism in such venerable women's NGOs, and perhaps wondered whether long survival under the Assad regime had compromised them. Some, particularly younger participants, were involved with groups that had sprung up during the war, such as Refugees Not Slaves (Lajiaat La Sabaya), prioritizing the urgent needs of displaced and refugee families. Najlaa Alsheek, for instance, told me her own appalling story - how the regime detained her husband and her father, how she fled a bombed house with an injured child, how she escaped across the border to Turkey. Now she was running a project from her small temporary home to empower a group of refugee women through making and selling handicraft products. At one moment in the conference, a women involved in the Geneva initiative called out to Najlaa, "Leave the knitting! Come with us to the peace talks!" She was unshaken by this scornful evaluation of her daily work for refugee women. No, she said, I stick with the knitting. </p> <p>Some of the Syrian participants were living in 'liberated' areas, and had close relations with the armed opposition forces. Some of these were suspicious of the word 'reconciliation' and hungered for victory as much as peace. Others were part of the Syrian NonViolent Movement (<a href="http://www.alharak.org/">Alharak</a>, or 'Uprising'), who disagree with an armed response to Assad. How were these women to find common ground, meeting each other here in a foreign city? One said, "In Syria we so like to attack each other. We need to start respecting each other, even if we disagree. Personally I need to work on that. I have seen it modelled here among the Bosnian women." Nawal Yazeji, a leader of the Syrian Women's League, candidly admitted in the concluding session, "This has tested my ability to learn from the younger generation. But if I am open to them, I myself am young." Najlaa too, notwithstanding the knitting jibe, told me that in these five days she had come to understand the importance of the work some women were doing to influence peace negotiations. These new relationships had changed her, she said. </p> <p>The Syrian women, in telling their story to Bosnian counterparts, constantly referred back to women's presence in the <a href="http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/05/25/the-syrian-revolution-a-one-year-summary/">'revolution' of 2011</a>, their moment in the Arab 'Spring' before nonviolent uprising was brutally crushed by the regime and turned into civil war. What gave added meaning to our conference was that, during the week before we arrived, and even as we spoke, Bosnians were out on the streets in their own 'strike for dignity' - as the Syrians put it. Protests were happening in Sarajevo, Zenica, Tuzla, Mostar and other towns. Buildings had been burned. Already four cantonal authorities had resigned in response. Several Bosnian women,&nbsp; among us all day, were out in town at night doubling as protesters. They ferried news back to us from a thousand-strong plenary, at which a third of the speakers had been women. They confirmed our sense that these were the first stirrings of a unified popular rejection of the divisive and corrupt nationalist authorities installed by Dayton. We learned that protesters were demanding the governments' resignation; drastic cuts to the inflated salaries and perks of political leaders and officials; diversion of mis-spent money into public social spending; and a reversal of the privatization of industry. </p> <p>The Bosnian women felt this rebellion clinched their argument. The Bosnian political system was a stitch-up between rival nationalisms - militaristic, patriarchal and corrupt - reducing ordinary people, and especially women, to penury and impotence. Learn the lesson, they warned their Syrian friends. If civil society doesn't get a say in shaping post-war Syria, before long you too will need another revolution.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sumeja-tulic/breaking-up-with-lame-protests-in-bosnia">Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syrian-women-demand-to-take-part-in-peace-talks-in-geneva">Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-slavenka-drakulic/slavenka-drakuli%C4%87-violence-memory-and-nation">Slavenka Drakulić: violence, memory, and the nation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/bosnias-error-of-othering">Bosnia&#039;s error of othering</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/longing-for-%E2%80%98normality%E2%80%99-women%E2%80%99s-experience-of-post-war-bosnia-herzegovina-0">Longing for ‘normality’: women’s experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hopkins/we-are-hungry-in-three-languages-citizens-protest-in-bosnia">&quot;We are hungry in three languages&quot;: citizens protest in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/what-kind-of-feminism-does-war-provoke">What kind of feminism does war provoke?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/getting-to-peace-what-kind-of-movement">Getting to peace: what kind of movement?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/beyond-war-women-transforming-militarism-building-nonviolent-world">Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/listen-to-bosnias-plenums">Listen to Bosnia&#039;s plenums</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Syria Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil society Conflict Equality Bosnian Citizens Protest 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Editor's Pick UN Resolution 1325 - 15 years on 50.50 newsletter gender justice patriarchy women and militarism women and power women's human rights women's movements Cynthia Cockburn Mon, 24 Feb 2014 09:07:27 +0000 Cynthia Cockburn 79623 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-point-of-no-return <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>“Nayarit is a point of no return” declared Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, Mexico’s Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, delivering the <a href="http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/images/stories/cih/ci.pdf">Chair’s Summary</a> as he closed the <a href="http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014">Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons</a>.&nbsp; “The broad-based and comprehensive discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons should lead to the commitment of states and civil society to reach new international standards and norms, through a legally binding instrument.”&nbsp; </p> <p>As the Nayarit Conference applauded the <a href="http://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/foreign-ministry/news/press-releases/2014/kurz-paradigmenwechsel-bei-der-nuklearen-abruestung-ist-ueberfaellig.html">decision by Austria’s Foreign Minister</a> to host the third Conference in Vienna later in the year, the spotlight now turns to Europe, which has the highest concentration of nuclear-dependent countries, including Britain, France, Russia and NATO, with US nuclear weapons still stationed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey.&nbsp; </p> <p>Humanitarian perspectives are changing the way the world looks at nuclear weapons. Side by side in Nayarit were representatives from 146 states, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), many national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the World Health Organisation (WHO), humanitarian response organisations, academics and civil society organisations from all around the world, who were coordinated through the <a href="http://www.goodbyenuk.es/petitions/follow">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons</a> (ICAN).&nbsp; </p> <p>Whereas traditional arms control tends to focus on weapons numbers and the sensitivities of the nuclear-armed states, the Nayarit panels looked at nuclear challenges from the perspective and concerns of everyone’s security. There were discussions of&nbsp; the risks of single and multiple nuclear uses, accidents, miscalculation, human or cyber error or terrorist activity, and implications for “public health, humanitarian assistance, the economy, development and environmental issues, climate change, food security”. </p> <p>After strong opening statements from the Mexican Foreign Minister, Dr. José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, and ICRC Vice-President Christine Beerli, the Nayarit Conference heard moving testimonies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors, known in Japan as “Hibakusha”, including a high school student who suffers third generation consequences deriving from the exposure of her Hibakusha grandmother.&nbsp; A Senator from the Marshall Islands spoke powerfully of the continuing and appalling health, environmental and long term effects on his Pacific nation following US testing in the 1950s.&nbsp; </p> <p>Government representatives from Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine reminded the conference of the birth defects and tragedies they suffered from Soviet nuclear testing, production and the massive accidental explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. Hearing them compete to claim credit for being the first to get rid of their Soviet nuclear weapons and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear-weapon states in the early 1990s gave heart to the Conference -&nbsp; a positive example of a nuclear disarmament race, which today’s nuclear-armed countries would do well to emulate!</p> <p>Among the nine current nuclear-armed states, only India and Pakistan participated in Nayarit. Although most of NATO was represented, Britain, China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia, and the United States stayed away. They missed <a href="http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014">hearing</a> some compelling new US research on the climate effects of nuclear detonations (“nuclear winter”) and consequent agricultural disruption leading to worldwide famine. They would also have heard the history of “near-nuclear uses” from the UK think tank Chatham House, and of the risks and problems affecting safety, command and control procedures in existing arsenals from US author of “Command and Control” Eric Schlosser,&nbsp; and former US military officer Bruce Blair - who told how he was trained to fire 50 “Minuteman” nuclear missiles within 60 seconds.&nbsp; During discussions, Pakistan’s delegate vehemently denied that any of the safety and security problems that had caused risks and near misses for other nuclear-armed states could possibly befall Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, but the more he spoke, the less reassuring he was. </p> <p>Drawing together the conclusions of the Conference, Mr Gómez Robledo highlighted that the effects of nuclear detonation could not be constrained by national borders, and human suffering would be “widespread, the poor and vulnerable being the most severely affected”. It would not be possible to establish effective national or international capacities to “address or provide the short and long term humanitarian assistance and protection needed in case of a nuclear weapon explosion”. Since the risks and threats from nuclear weapons would affect everyone, this is an “issue of deep concern shared by all”.&nbsp; Paying tribute to the important role of civil society, Mexico endorsed the arguments from history that showed that “in the past, weapons have been eliminated after they have been outlawed", and called on governments to recognise that the humanitarian approach, implementation of the NPT, and steps such as entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are “mutually reinforcing processes”. </p> <p>The Nayarit Conference took place in Latin America on the anniversary of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tlatelolco">Tlaatelolco Treaty</a>, which established the first nuclear weapon free zone spanning the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean. The next humanitarian nuclear conference will be held in Europe, the most nuclear-weapon infested region in the world.&nbsp; </p> <p>On the opening day of the Nayarit Conference on 13 February, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz&nbsp; <a href="http://bit.ly/1opePIE">announced in Vienna</a> that his government would host a further conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons later this year.&nbsp; In doing so, he emphasised that “Nuclear disarmament is a global task and a collective responsibility.” Describing the existence of nuclear weapons as a “Sword of Damocles above our heads,” Mr Kurz said that “Nuclear weapons are not only a permanent threat to all humankind but also a relic of the cold war that we must finally overcome.” Underscoring that “reliance on nuclear weapons is an outdated approach to security.” He argued that “a concept that is based on the total destruction of the planet should have no place in the 21st century…” </p> <p>In convening the next humanitarian conference Austria is taking on a very serious responsibility, and is likely to come under&nbsp; heavy pressure from the nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent governments that currently deploy nuclear forces in Europe.&nbsp; As a nation that has experienced both empire and occupation, and one of the few European Union countries that is not part of the NATO nuclear alliance, Austria well understands the vulnerabilities and responsibilities of its situation among nuclear-dependent nations. </p><p>Vienna is not only the seat of important international organisations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), that help to oversee and implement important security and prohibition treaties such as the NPT, CTBT and Outer Space Treaty. It is also a place that understands at the deepest cultural level how the best opera and music will harness the power and ‘voices’ of many different but equally important instruments to weave harmonies that inspire and move the world, not only to dream, but to act.&nbsp; </p> <p>Building on the evidence presented at the 2013 Oslo Conference, Nayarit went into greater depth on a broader range of nuclear risks and humanitarian impacts. A <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/others/hinw/nayarit-2014">Reaching Critical Will analysis</a> of the discussions shows a growing number of governments calling explicitly for nuclear weapons to be banned, as a concrete measure all nations can take to accelerate and facilitate their elimination. Others focussed on steps that the nuclear-armed states need to take, though some of these acknowledged that in the past twenty years, multilateral steps have not got very far in the <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/">NPT and Conference on Disarmament</a>.&nbsp; Because they can veto or impede anything they don’t like, nuclear-armed members of those fora feel in control there, and use their power to delay and obstruct concrete measures that would restrict their nuclear options.&nbsp; </p> <p>By focussing on human impacts, Nayarit has demonstrated beyond doubt that preventing nuclear catastrophe is the responsibility and right of all. The Chair’s Summary was a clarion call to act on this knowledge, endorsing the conclusion expressed by <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45981&amp;Cr=general+debate&amp;Cr1=#.UwO_oiidBSU">Austria’s President Heinz Fischer at the UN in September</a>, when he said that nuclear weapons need to be “stigmatised, banned and eliminated”.&nbsp; </p> <p>Austria’s task is now to bring governments, international organisations and civil society together to discuss what needs to be done, and how to take humanitarian disarmament forward in a process that is open to all and blockable by none. </p><p><em><strong><em>Read more articles by Rebecca Johnson on the case for nuclear disarmament on 50.50's platform</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-non-proliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation </a></strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/uk-governments-stand-against-humanitarian-disarmament">The UK government&#039;s stand against humanitarian disarmament </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jody-williams/jody-williams-true-path-to-nuclear-non-proliferation">Jody Williams: The true path to nuclear non-proliferation </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/fetishists-of-nuclear-power-projection-have-had-their-day">The fetishists of nuclear power projection have had their day</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/standing-on-threshold-banning-nuclear-weapons">Standing on the threshold: banning nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-banning-nuclear-tests-to-banning-nuclear-weapons">From banning nuclear tests to banning nuclear weapons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-challenging-nuclear-powers-fiefdom">NPT: challenging the nuclear powers&#039; fiefdom</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-fukushima-to-hinkley-point">From Fukushima to Hinkley Point</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-this-time-lip-service-will-not-be-enough">Banning nuclear weapons: this time lip service will not be enough</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/is-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime-fit-for-purpose">Is the nuclear non-proliferation regime fit for purpose? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-weapons-beyond-non-proliferation">Nuclear weapons: beyond non-proliferation?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openSecurity Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Wed, 19 Feb 2014 10:39:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 79467 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The anti-women gag law in Afghanistan: the pitfalls of hasty conclusions https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mohammad-jawad-shahabi-torunn-wimpelmann/anti-women-gag-law-in-afghanistan-pitfalls-of-hasty-co <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>More than one million people around the world have signed a petition against a new law in Afghanistan on the grounds that it offers the perpetrators of violence against women de-facto immunity. Referred to as the “anti-women gag rule”, the law has been denounced as the culmination of a series of belligerent attempts by the conservative government to undo the momentum in women’s protection initiatives over the last decade.&nbsp; Yet in Kabul, there are few signs that the law was ever part of any such deliberate strategy, pointing towards the need for a more nuanced approach to the fault lines of gender politics at the dawn of post- NATO Afghanistan. </p><p>On Tuesday the 4th of February, the Guardian published <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/04/afghanistan-law-victims-violence-women">an article</a> titled ‘New Afghanistan law to silence victims of violence against women’. It stated that the new law would ‘allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called "honour" killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic&nbsp;abuse.’ The law in question was the new criminal procedure code, and more specifically article 26, which, the Guardian alleged, would ban the testimony of relatives of the accused and thus make the prosecution of violence against women almost impossible. News of the law, by then approved by both houses in parliament and&nbsp; about&nbsp; to arrive on the President’s desk for his final signature, led to activists declaring their exasperation about a conservative backlash, and their intent to mobilise&nbsp; in order to prevent the President signing the law into force, calling upon western governments to honor their commitments to Afghan women by speaking out against the law. Shortly after the Guardian article, a petition circulated by the online campaign <em>Avaaz </em>had attracted one million signatures against the law. </p> <p>International press coverage of the law has focused on what is now an established narrative: that the fragile progress of the last decade, carefully nurtured by western governments, is at risk of imminent reversal as these governments lose interest and conservative forces in Afghanistan seize on the chance to abolish the laws and institutions which have provided women with a measure of protection from domestic&nbsp; abuse in the last few years. The near fatal blow administrated by conservative legislators to the <em>Law on Elimination of Violence against Women</em>( the EVAW law)<em>&nbsp; </em>in parliament in the spring of 2013 marks&nbsp; <a href="http://www.cw4wafghan.ca/Afghanistan_EVAW_Law">a key event in this story</a>. Hailed as a landmark piece of legislation, the unwillingness by conservative MPs to approve the law, by then already in force for four years in the form of presidential decree, was interpreted as a sign of things to come. Now, with the parliament passing a criminal procedure code allegedly banning the testimonies of relatives, their agenda to cancel the progress of the last decade appears completed. Unless international pressure can persuade the Afghan president to veto the law in its current form, the major achievements in the field of women’s protection in Afghanistan look fated to disintegrate. </p> <p>However, this is a narrative in need of some nuancing. Firstly, some of the gains of the last decade run only skin deep. Afghanistan’s 2003 ratification of the Convention of Elimination Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), remarkably without any of the reservations most other Muslim countries have made, appears to have been an act with little government buy in, at a time when there was neither an elected head of state nor a parliament. It took nine years and considerable donor efforts before the country submitted its first CEDAW report, an event which has seemingly generated limited interest within Afghanistan itself. </p> <p>Likewise, some of the gender-sensitive, elaborate policy frameworks put in place, such as the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan <a href="http://mowa.gov.af/en/page/6686">(NAPWA)</a> was evidently largely written by external consultants, with limited bearing on government practice. And the EVAW law, which has gradually gained the status of a landmark accomplishment in international circles,&nbsp; <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/torunn-wimpelmann/problematic-protection-law-on-elimination-of-violence-against-women-in-afghan">came into force</a> as a presidential decree, and in contradiction with other legislation signed by President Karzai at the same time. As such, the presidential decree appeared more as an act designed to placate certain constituencies (women’s rights activists and western embassies) than a commitment to significant change. For four years, some female parliamentarians have attempted to get the law ratified by parliament, whilst others have opposed this strategy, arguing that insufficient support for the EVAW law in the legislative would mean that were it to be put to the vote, the law might be repealed rather than ratified. Thus, while the symbolic effect of the law and the efforts by women’s groups and international donors to disseminate and implement it have undoubtedly had some impact, its rather tenuous legal status can hardly be said to constitute a decisive victory. There are limits, therefore, to the impact of the legal and policy reforms adopted under western tutelage, both when it comes to the substantive&nbsp; changes in women’s status overall, and specifically in the area which has been the primary&nbsp; focus for both donors and Afghan activists; violence against women. This is to some extent because - ironically - whilst a great deal of energy has been put into the legal protection of women, activists and their supporters have been largely unable to make headway with the legislative process itself.</p> <p>The notion that the new criminal procedure law represents a concerted attempt by conservative law makers and government officials to stall whatever momentum has been created is not at all clear. In fact, after the news about the parliamentary approval of the law broke during the first week of February, the substantial group of internationals involved in judicial reform in Afghanistan - UN personnel, diplomats and aid workers, together with Afghan justice officials, lawyers and civil society actors - found it necessary to scrutinize the law, organize numerous translations of it, and discuss at length its exact meaning and implications. To many, particularly many Dari speakers who can read the entire text in its original language, the law does not prohibit family members of the accused to testify in court but gives them the option to <em>refuse </em>to testify. Others concede that this is a possible interpretation, but argue that the wording is nonetheless ambiguous enough to allow for an interpretation to the effect that relatives cannot testify even if they wish to do so.&nbsp; </p> <p>At the centre of the controversy is chapter 5 of the law. While article 25 in this chapter¸ <em>Testimony,</em> explains that persons who have information about crimes can and should be summoned as witnesses, article 26; <em>Prohibition of the questioning of witnesses</em> (<em>man’e estejwab-e shaahed</em>) lists ‘relatives of the accused’ as one out of several categories of people who ‘cannot be questioned as witnesses’ (<em>namitavan menhais-e shaahed mawred-e estejwab qarar daad</em>). Yet, even if when read on its own, this provision indeed appears to ban relatives from testifying, article 26 goes on to say that prosecutors, justice officials and the court are obliged to inform the categories of people listed above of their right to silence. Article 27 further allows witnesses not to answer questions that could lead to their own or one of their relative’s prosecution.</p> <p>Taken together, the most obvious meaning of the articles in chapter 5 is that relatives of the accused are given the right to refuse giving testimony, as opposed to them being prohibited from doing so. However, in the eyes of many officials, both international and Afghan, article 26 should nevertheless be amended in order to remove any ambiguity. Whether the parliament, or the Afghan government are willing to consider such revisions have been an open question for some time. Many have speculated that the government might consider it sufficient for the Supreme Court to issue a directive that the application of the law should not exclude relatives of the accused from providing testimony but instead give them the right not to answer questions as witnesses in court. An added complication has been that the Afghan government might be particularly reluctant to consider revisions coming from international quarters, not necessarily because they disagree with their content, but as a matter of principle in a climate of rapidly deteriorating&nbsp; trust between President Karzai and his erstwhile western allies. At the time of writing however, reports were coming in that the law will not be signed by the president in its current form and instead will be sent to the Ministry of Justice for amendments. </p> <p>In any case, and despite the flaws of the current text, no hard evidence has emerged so far to indicate that it represents a strategic attempt to dismantle the protection mechanisms for women erected since 2001. MPs present at the parliamentary commission meeting where the final version of the law was being agreed upon report that they were satisfied by their colleagues’ explanation that the law did not prevent the testimony of relatives. </p> <p>There is little doubt that one of the flashpoints of current Afghan gender politics is over the rights and obligations of the government to protect women against family abuse. As elsewhere, there is a direct contradiction between the realities of patriarchal power and the possibility of women making independent claims against male guardians to an outside institution. No wonder then that the drive to increase government prosecution of violence within the family has been correctly perceived by conservatives inside and outside of parliament as a direct assault on male privilege. Their framing of women’s shelters as brothels, and of the EVAW law as a law ruining the basis of the family are attempts to cloak the reassertion of male power in a language of moral restoration. On their part, activists have correctly observed that compared to the early years following the 2001 invasion, putting in place reformist laws and frameworks have become increasingly&nbsp; difficult. </p> <p>But this is not exclusively because conservative forces are becoming stronger as western disengagement looms, but also because, pro-women’s rights actors find themselves increasingly immersed in Afghan domestic politics rather than operating in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">a parallel, technocratic</a> universe underwritten by donor support and pressure. In other words, whereas the early years of the post 2001 period was a time of significant formal progress, the reversals of the last years are not necessarily a sign that the conservatives- who were always dominant in the parliament- are on the ascendance. It could equally be a sign that Afghan activists after years of being able to put in place progressive frameworks by stealth and under the radar screen are now starting to encounter reactionary forces and interests head on.&nbsp; </p> <p>While there is every reason to be vigilant about what is in store for Afghan women as the post-NATO political order in Afghanistan takes shape, it is nonetheless helpful to avoid an overly simplistic model of Afghan gender politics, one in which outcomes are reduced to a question of the amount of pressure the West is willing apply to halt a conservative resurgence. Firstly, many of the celebrated items of progress of the last decade have remained more symbolic than real, showing the limits of&nbsp; the formal changes ushered in in large part by way of international lobbying. Secondly, Afghan domestic politics plays a key role in consolidating and sustaining change, and fortunately - while there are certainly plenty of misogynists in the country&nbsp; to go around - not every event that takes place in Afghanistan, or in the parliament, for that matter, needs to be understood as part of a conservative upsurge </p> <p>It seems unlikely, for instance, that the criminal procedure code, which has created a small storm around the world, was ever part of an agenda to deprive women of government protection. Rather the problem seems to be the unclear language of the law, open to multiple interpretations. Perhaps the international exasperation with President Karzai, whose overtures to hard line conservative&nbsp; actors, including&nbsp; the Taliban, are believed to be an attempt to secure his post-NATO survival, has been projected onto the entire Afghan political landscape. However, while there is a possibility that post-NATO Afghanistan will witness a political constellation with conservative gender politics as one of its pillars, this is not necessarily a given, and we must not read everything that happens into this logic. In this respect, it is interesting to note&nbsp; that many of the presidential frontrunners; Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Zalmai Rasool and Dr Abdullah, have adopted a rhetoric which is, if anything, more moderate than the positions expressed by the current president in recent years. In the same way that the 2001 invasion was misleadingly hailed as a definite moment of liberation for Afghan women, we should not fall into the trap of equating the NATO withdrawal with the certain demise of their rights. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/torunn-wimpelmann/problematic-protection-law-on-elimination-of-violence-against-women-in-afghan">Problematic protection: the law on Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">Gender in Afghanistan: pragmatic activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/massouda-jalal/karzai-legacy-of-failure-on-afghan-womens-rights">Karzai: a legacy of failure on Afghan women&#039;s rights? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/massouda-jalal/afghanistan-blind-pursuit-of-peace-and-reconciliation">Afghanistan: the blind pursuit of peace and reconciliation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/negotiating-with-taliban-view-from-below">Negotiating with the Taliban: the view from below</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/afiya-shehrbano-zia/taliban-agent-or-victim">Taliban: agent or victim? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/massouda-jalal/afghanistan-all-time-struggle-for-women">Afghanistan: an all-time struggle for women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/massouda-jalal/afghanistan-fundamentalism-education-and-minds-of-people">Afghanistan: fundamentalism, education, and the minds of the people </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Afghanistan </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Afghanistan 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women's human rights women and power violence against women patriarchy gender fundamentalisms feminism 50.50 newsletter Torunn Wimpelmann Mohammad Jawad Shahabi Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:03:27 +0000 Mohammad Jawad Shahabi and Torunn Wimpelmann 79430 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "We are hungry in three languages": citizens protest in Bosnia https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valerie-hopkins/we-are-hungry-in-three-languages-citizens-protest-in-bosnia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Body">Demonstrations have spread rapidly across Bosnia, with citizens organizing popular assemblies to voice their frustration with the country’s institutional paralysis.&nbsp; Through the adamantly non-ethnic nature of the demonstrations, the protesters are taking aim at the entire political elite.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">Valerie Hopkins reports from Sarajevo.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body">On Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after a Sarajevo canton’s premier declared that the people of Sarajevo would not riot because there was “no hunger” in Bosnia’s capital, his administrative building was in flames. So was the presidency and 16 other government buildings across the country, in what has been the worst episode of violence since Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.</p> <p class="Body">The politician, Suad Zeljkovic, had been responding to protests that began on Wednesday in the northern city of Tuzla after those laid off from several formerly successful factories took to the streets.&nbsp; His remark was reviled by citizens in a country with an official unemployment rate of 27.5 percent (estimated to climb into the 40s with the grey economy included.)</p> <p class="Body">“They should have leveled [the building],” said an old man at the protests, in a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX_7aax7AEg&amp;feature=share">video</a> now circulating on youtube.&nbsp; “These are the people who are burying us…Twenty years they’ve been suffocating us, holding us down.”</p> <p class="Body">The Dayton Peace Agreement, brokered by American Diplomat <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/search?qt=dismax&amp;sort=score+desc&amp;query=richard+holbrooke&amp;submit=">Richard Holbrooke</a>, ended the war that killed 100,000 people, but also made Bosnia one of the most governed countries in the world.&nbsp; The accords were an opus on power-sharing that created a bureaucratic quagmire with three presidents, one for each of the predominant ethno-national groups —Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims, now called Bosnjaks— and substantial veto power.&nbsp; It also created two political entities, Republic of Srpska and the ‘Federation,’ which is sub-divided into a further ten cantons.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">Zeljkovic was the head of the cantonal government of Sarajevo until he tendered his resignation on Saturday morning as the flames of his administration building were still being put out.&nbsp; Three other cantonal leaders have resigned, including in Tuzla, where the original unrest began, the outgrowth of months of peaceful protests there by laid off or unpaid workers.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">The fate of the Konjuh furniture factory in Tuzla is in many ways a metonymy for Bosnia: founded in the 1880s by the ruling Austro-Hungarians, the business employed more than 5,000 workers during the 40 year reign of Marshal Josip Broz Tito.&nbsp; After a failed post-war privatization, there were only 400 employees by the end of 2013, and it went <a href="http://www.tuzlainfo.ba/novosti/7904-vlada-federacije-povukla-ruku-spasa-fabrika-namjestaja-konjuh-odlazi-u-stecaj">bankrupt</a> in January.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">Bosnians are angry about unemployment and hunger, but is is this unwieldy, redundant, blockage-prone ethnic-based power system that is the real target of the protesters’ ire.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">A protest sign reads “we are hungry in three languages,” referring to the country’s three official languages: Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian, which are more akin to dialects.</p> <p class="Body">Though it is true that protests are drawing more people in the Federation, the protests are adamantly non-ethnic. The protest gatherings, now peaceful, have continued daily in more than 30 cities across the country without violence, but with mounting anger at politicians who have been earning salaries without improving the quality of ordinary citizens’ lives. &nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">Despite RS president Milorad Dodik’s statements that the protests are an attempt to destroy the entity he leads, people have taken to the streets in the de facto entity capital Banja Luka, where one man was fined 550 BAM, or 280 Euro, and in <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-serbs-cast-suspicious-eye-over-protests">Prijedor</a>.&nbsp; Average pensions and salaries in the RS are lower than in the Federation, and there is widespread discontentment there too.</p> <p class="Body">The comprehensive sets of checks and balances afforded to each of the warring parties have made much-needed constitutional reform impossible.&nbsp; Discord has even stymied a <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/131113/bosnia-census-results-threaten-power-sharing-system">census</a> that would tell the government just how many constituents it has after two decades of war and displacement.</p> <p class="Body">“[One politician’s] salary is 28 times my pension,” said the same old Sarajevan, affectionately referred to as “Dedo,” or “old man.”&nbsp; “I worked for 40 years, 7 months and 18 days.&nbsp; My pension is 304 Bosnian Marks (150 Euro).”</p> <p class="Body">Where are the tax dollars going?&nbsp; After the most recent general elections, in 2010, it took 16 months to form a government.&nbsp; That coalition fell apart after two months.&nbsp;&nbsp; The bureaucracy may be dysfunctional, but it is bloated: in a country whose population is 3.8 million, an estimated 1 million jobs are paid for out of government coffers.</p> <p class="Body">“We keep taking loans from the IMF and other granting institutions, but these funds are not used for social programs or give people dignified pensions, they are used to sustain the high salaries of politicians and administrations,” said Sumeja Tulic, a 29 year old human rights lawyer who has been at the protests every day.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body"><em>“Why do we need these levels of administration in such a small country?”</em></p> <p class="Body">In just several days, the assembled have agreed on a set of concrete demands. In Tuzla, ten people representative of the population have been selected to negotiate next steps with those in power.&nbsp; They include young activists as well as factory workers.&nbsp; The six demands of the workers in Tuzla consist of the resignations of local government officials and their replacements with expert technical governments who are politically unaffiliated and removal of privileges for those in power.</p> <p class="Body">In Sarajevo, a citizens’ “<a href="https://www.facebook.com/PlenumSa">Plenum</a>” convened on <a href="http://plenumsa.org/content/poziv-gra%25C4%2591anima-i-gra%25C4%2591ankama-sarajeva">Wednesday</a>, an experiment in direct democracy for a country that still has hundreds of European troops stationed in the country and an international viceroy, called the High Representative, who has the power to impose or revoke laws and fire politicians, now rarely used.&nbsp; The Plenum is necessary because there is no strong opposition that has widespread support, hence the demand for a temporary government of experts.</p> <p class="Body">Other than a widely criticized statement by High Representative Valentin Inzko that EU troops could be called upon for reinforcement if violence escalated, the international response has been muted. The European Union, in a statement Monday, said they “encourage the continuation of normal public life.”</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;<span>But what could be more normal than protesting such deep political paralysis?</span></p> <p class="Body">In the words of one Plenum organizer, Svjetlana Nedimovic, “Normal life here means so many difficulties in the basics of the basics.”</p> <p class="Body">In recent months, Western diplomats have privately murmured that Bosnians should be out in the streets protesting the sorry state of affairs, saying that they can only work with the politicians the people elect.&nbsp; It seems they did not have a plan of what to do when the revolt against all elected politicians began.</p> <p class="Body">Perhaps it is best for the international community, which has spent years trying to cut failed deals on constitutional reform with the leaders of six parties who refuse to agree, to take a backseat as disparate groups of citizens organize.&nbsp; Then they should create an avenue for incorporating ordinary citizens into the negotiations.</p> <p class="Body">Nedimovic and many others have condemned the damage to state institutions, but acknowledge that politicians only responded to Friday’s violence.</p> <p class="Body">“We stood for dogs, for babies, for gay rights, for everything,” says Nedimovic, referring to short-lived protests in the past few years, including one this summer after the government could not agree on a law on identity numbers, resulting in the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/17/us-bosnia-identity-baby-idUSBRE95F0HR20130617">death of a baby</a> who could not leave the country for medical treatment.</p> <p class="Body">“We stood peacefully for workers, for retired people, but they only responded to us on Friday.”</p> <p class="Body">And anyway, goes the word on the streets of Sarajevo, what are the buildings, when the politicians have been destroying the institutions for so many years?</p> <p class="Body">“I don’t know why people are complaining that this country is falling apart,” said Mirna Kusturica, 25.&nbsp; “It was, and has been, but Friday everything changed. We are going to put it together again.”</p> <p class="Body">Bosnian-born Yugoslav writer Mesa Selimovic <a href="http://metrourbanbox.blogspot.com/2010/05/little-tale-about-bosnians.html">famously wrote of Bosnians</a>, “When they are together they are in trouble, for this they do not like to be together often.”&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">The unity shows the depth of Bosnia’s political crisis, and its only solution.</p> <p class="Body">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sumeja-tulic/breaking-up-with-lame-protests-in-bosnia">Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bedrudin-brljavac/bosnia-and-herzegovina-and-europeanization-between-ethnic-national-and-european-id">Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europeanization: between ethnic-national and European identities </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wanda-troszczynska-van-genderen/bosnia-citizenship-and-detention">Bosnia: citizenship and detention </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/bosnias-error-of-othering">Bosnia&#039;s error of othering</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/longing-for-%E2%80%98normality%E2%80%99-women%E2%80%99s-experience-of-post-war-bosnia-herzegovina-0">Longing for ‘normality’: women’s experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict-yugoslavia/article_217.jsp">Bosnia&#039;s war of memory</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bosnia and Herzegovina </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? Bosnia and Herzegovina democracy & power europe Bosnian Citizens Protest 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Valerie Hopkins Spotlight on Bosnia Thu, 13 Feb 2014 09:51:42 +0000 Valerie Hopkins 79303 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK government's stand against humanitarian disarmament https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/uk-governments-stand-against-humanitarian-disarmament <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Over 140 governments are gathering in Nayarit, Mexico, for the <a href="http://www.sre.gob.mx/en/index.php/humanimpact-nayarit-2014">Second International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons</a>, hosted by the Mexican Government. The nations in Nayarit include most of the European Union and NATO states and the UK's&nbsp; Commonwealth and Non-Proliferation Treaty partners from Africa, Asia-Pacific, and of course Latin America. But the British government is officially absent. Despite strong recommendations for attendance from the Liberal Democrat side of the Coalition and a number of senior diplomats, William Hague, the British Foreign Minister, decided to follow France, Russia, the United States, Israel and North Korea in boycotting this meeting. </p> <p>As one of the nine nuclear-armed states, wouldn’t it be sensible for us to engage with other governments and experts such as the Red Cross, humanitarian response agencies, climate scientists and doctors in order to&nbsp; find out the latest research on the devastating health, environmental, economic, agricultural and developmental consequences that would result if nuclear weapons were used, either by accident or by design? </p> <p>The government’s main reason to boycott the Nayarit Conference is to avoid being drawn into a situation where they have to acknowledge others’ concerns about the foreseeable humanitarian consequences of nuclear detonations. They understand that any realistic assessment of the global impacts will make the majority of governments want to take collective action to prohibit these weapons and demand their elimination. They’ve seen this happen before, with landmines and cluster munitions, as Nobel Laureate Jody Williams highlighted in a recent <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jody-williams/taking-action-to-ban-nuclear-weapons_b_4769645.html">article</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>Looking at how far the humanitarian initiative has developed since 2010, nuclear-armed states like Britain are understandably nervous that a concerted nuclear ban process would irrevocably change the legal and international context within which financial, political and operational decisions regarding nuclear weapons would be taken. But we shouldn’t let them off the hook. </p> <p>Humanitarian arguments to facilitate disarmament are not new. Recognition of the indiscriminate, disproportionate and uncontrollable impacts of other weapons of mass destruction created strong incentives for banning biological and chemical weapons in 1972 and 1993 respectively. More recently, the unacceptable humanitarian harm caused by conventional weaponry became a driving motivator in successful campaigns to ban landmines and cluster munitions. When states with vested economic or military interests in these weapons obstructed efforts in established fora, cross-regional governmental and civil society coalitions bypassed the blockages and achieved effective prohibition treaties. Whether they accede or not – and many erstwhile opponents have! – all states have ended up having to change their behaviour because of the stigmatisation and restrictions placed on weapons banned under International Law. </p> <p>Military and production rationales generally dominate debates about armaments. The humanitarian approach sidelines these interest groups.&nbsp; Pressured by civil society to find sustainable ways to prevent further human suffering caused by certain weapons, governments – eventually including the UK – turned conferences on humanitarian impacts into successful treaty negotiations. It’s no secret that the humanitarian discussions in Mexico are intended to lay the groundwork for accelerating nuclear disarmament. At the UN High Level Meeting on 26 September 2013, Austria’s President Heinz Fischer was pretty clear about this, saying: “Nuclear weapons should be stigmatized, banned and eliminated before they abolish us.” </p> <p>The nuclear-weapon states, for their part, have begun a desperate rearguard action to stop such a process from developing. When Norway convened the Oslo Conference in March 2013, they tried ignoring it. Now they do their best to dismiss it. They brief willing NGOs and media with arguments about how it’s all very well to talk about humanitarian impacts “within the arms control and disarmament process” but those that want this to lead to a nuclear ban treaty don’t take into account “the domestic and inter-state dynamics of the nuclear weapons states, and the psychology of insecurity that surrounds their nuclear postures”, as <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/rebecca-cousins/rethinking-nuclear-catastrophe">Rebecca Cousins wrote</a> on openSecurity. </p> <p>This is precisely what the UK government wants you to think: only nuclear-armed states can understand the complexity of the role they assign to nuclear weapons. Only they can unravel the dynamics and psychologies of their own complex relationships.&nbsp; Only they can undertake nuclear disarmament, at their own pace, in their own club, and very very slowly, “step by step”.&nbsp; In the meantime, they need to update their nuclear forces and procure the next generation, because nuclear weapons are Really Important. How could it be possible for a bunch of countries that have already renounced nuclear weapons (the “non-nuclear-weapon states” in the Non-Proliferation Treaty) to initiate – let alone carry to fruition – a treaty that outlaws nuclear weapons operations such as use, deployment, production, transporting and stockpiling.? Those activities are not covered by the NPT, and so they are deemed to be the UK’s&nbsp; right to continue, as long as leaders express rhetorical commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons at least once every five years!&nbsp;&nbsp; In other words, nuclear weapons are solely the business of the states that wield them, and, apart from showing up at NPT meetings, the rest of the world should shut up. </p> <p>These are the considerations that Cousins thinks the humanitarian disarmament strategists have failed to take into account.&nbsp; On the contrary. Since those attitudes justify and promote perpetual nuclear weapons modernisation and proliferation, <a href="http://www.goodbyenuk.es/petitions/follow">humanitarian disarmament strategies</a> recognise the need to bypass them. Stuck in cold war military dependencies, these are the problem psychologies that ignore the real security concerns of today’s world and perpetuates nuclear business as usual, with all the attendant risks.&nbsp; </p> <p>The humanitarian strategy recognises how irrational such narratives are, and also how embedded in the policies of the nuclear-armed states. A nuclear ban process will not be comfortable for Britain because it refuses to feed into those weapons-clinging narratives. Mobilising domestic civil society actors as well as states, it aims at helping nuclear-dependent governments&nbsp; to confront the circular logic that perpetuates nuclear possession and proliferation. New possibilities for disarmament and security open up when the legal and political context is changed through a multilateral nuclear ban. </p> <p>For a while longer the UK will try to ignore and dismiss the humanitarian approach. At present, with all three of the major parliamentary parties committed to replacing Trident, mainstream politicians and media seem incapable of looking beyond the wrangling over how many nuclear ‘platforms’ the UK can afford, and whether a particular version of deterrence doctrine requires that at least one nuclear-armed submarine must be on continuous at-sea ‘deterrent’ patrol (CASD) at all times. With Scotland’s independence referendum scheduled for September 2014, there are also some media discussions about what would happen if an independent Scotland carries out the Scottish National Party’s manifesto commitment to demand removal of the submarines and warheads from Faslane and Coulport, where they are currently based.&nbsp; </p> <p>Those are the peculiarly domestic preoccupations of the British. For mainstream media, the idea that nuclear-free nations may take the lead and ban nuclear weapons in the near future, with or without the nuclear armed states, is barely acknowledged. Behind the scenes, however, the government is taking it very seriously. </p> <p>Imagine, for example, how the British debate on replacing Trident would be changed if an international nuclear ban treaty is on the books. Would we still be debating arcane “angels on a pinhead” doctrines and CASD?&nbsp; Unlikely. Instead we might find the Ministry of Defence&nbsp; quietly enhancing the rest of the tools we have in the political, military and diplomatic toolbox for deterrence.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;Even if the government declares its unequivocal opposition to joining an international nuclear ban treaty, how many MPs would be left arguing for billions of pounds to be spent on renewing a weapons system that the rest of the world had prohibited?&nbsp; As Jody Williams and others have noted, experience from past treaties shows that public and international pressure can turn adamant opposition one day into enthusiastic endorsement the next. Especially once the treaty nears completion. </p> <p>As the humanitarian initiative goes forward into its next stage, putting the spotlight back on Europe, even the possibility of a nuclear ban treaty is likely to cause a fundamental rethink about British nuclear policy. Regardless of whether the price tag for Trident replacement is calculated as close to £100 billion, as CND, Greenpeace and the Liberal Democrats have calculated, or the ridiculously low £20 billion figure that is evoked by nuclear proponents, it would be prudent not to rush ahead with Trident expenditure until the prospects of the current humanitarian initiatives become clearer.&nbsp; </p> <p>As the rest of the world gets more serious about banning nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds, it will become much harder for anyone to keep funding, making and deploying these WMD, and any use would be recognised as a crime against humanity.&nbsp; At the very least that is worth a try!</p> <p><em>Read more articles on the case for nuclear disarmament on 50.50's platform</em> <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-non-proliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation </a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jody-williams/jody-williams-true-path-to-nuclear-non-proliferation">Jody Williams: The true path to nuclear non-proliferation </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/rebecca-cousins/rethinking-nuclear-catastrophe">Rethinking nuclear catastrophe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/fetishists-of-nuclear-power-projection-have-had-their-day">The fetishists of nuclear power projection have had their day</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-banning-nuclear-tests-to-banning-nuclear-weapons">From banning nuclear tests to banning nuclear weapons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/standing-on-threshold-banning-nuclear-weapons">Standing on the threshold: banning nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-challenging-nuclear-powers-fiefdom">NPT: challenging the nuclear powers&#039; fiefdom</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-toothless-in-face-of-real-world-dangers">NPT: toothless in the face of real world dangers </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-gulf-between-nuclear-haves-and-have-nots">NPT: the gulf between the nuclear haves and have-nots</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-fukushima-to-hinkley-point">From Fukushima to Hinkley Point</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-this-time-lip-service-will-not-be-enough">Banning nuclear weapons: this time lip service will not be enough</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/is-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime-fit-for-purpose">Is the nuclear non-proliferation regime fit for purpose? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-weapons-beyond-non-proliferation">Nuclear weapons: beyond non-proliferation?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ann-wright/i-protest-challenging-war-policies-of-united-states">&quot;I protest&quot;: challenging the war policies of the United States</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/north-korea-and-trident-challenging-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime">North Korea and Trident: challenging the nuclear non-proliferation regime </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Thu, 13 Feb 2014 09:09:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 79298 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sumeja-tulic/breaking-up-with-lame-protests-in-bosnia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="MsoNormal">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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>On the fifth day into the ongoing <a href="http://kosovotwopointzero.com/en/article/1005/nothing-in-bosnia-is-ever-announced">demonstrations</a> in Sarajevo a routine has established itself – at noon, citizens meet around the tram station across from the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the shouting starts (<em>Resignations! Thieves!</em>). Someone steps on the street, everybody follows. The street is blocked. Some time passes, more people gather, then everybody starts walking towards the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After spending some time there, everybody is back on to the main crossroad overlooking the burned down buildings of the municipality, Canton and the Presidency.</p> <p>The hours there are filled with conversations between people who have just met, often from different walks of life and different socio-economic <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/10/anger-bosnia-ethnic-lies-protesters-bosnian-serb-croat">backgrounds</a>.&nbsp; A glare of surprise, and silent shock over how similar their outlooks on the situation are and, how much, actually, the other is lovable and “ok” takes place. Past dawn everybody is still warning each other’s of the infiltrators paid by this or that political party.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/sarajevo protest cigarette_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/sarajevo protest cigarette_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Photograph courtesy of the author.</em></p> <p>Most often, suspicion falls on the political party of the rich Minister of Security who did nothing to prevent the <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2014/02/07/bosnia-rocked-by-third-day-of-anti-government-unrest/">burning of the state institutions</a> last Friday. Other conversations are more practical – <em>Should we have a band playing here?</em> <em>Why not have sit up demonstrations? This eight hour standing business is tiring! </em>That sight is deserted after seven or eight o’clock in the evening, when everybody is leaving with by-then cold coffee in a plastic cup and an empty and greasy wrapper from the bakery.</p> <p>While all this is happening on the crossroad, others are carrying on with their regular activities – taking long walks along Tito’s street, drinking coffee in one of city’s shopping malls. It is not clear why they are not demonstrating, but on the fifth day into the demonstrations, this sight which renders the ‘every day Sarajevo’ is almost comforting. As if it promises that down the road from the crossroad life will be good, almost perfect.</p> <p>However, this passive phenomenon is not a novelty. Those who remember the days before the <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/04/20-years-since-the-bosnian-war/100278/">outbreak</a> of 1992-95 war, could go on and on about how they sat and had lunches in sunny Sarajevo while Eastern Bosnia was being taken by the military and paramilitary forces of Serb nationalists. Even with the tanks pointed at them from the hills above the city, life felt too warm and unclouded to actually worry and take precautionary measures.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/ostavke bando.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/ostavke bando.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Photograph courtesy of the author.</em></p> <p>Going home from the demonstrations is the hardest. Firstly, there one realises how tiring is “this protesting business”, and secondly, there is the TV where what just happened on the street looks different.&nbsp; It is too painful to name all the adjectives and prospects that the media coverage attributes to the demonstrations. The imagery is subtracted from, among other interviews, interviews with the political establishment. These interviews are collages of statements offending common sense. </p><p>A winning statement among many of this sort was that the demonstrators were ‘energised’ by 12 grams of narcotics. One wonders how someone – if not for reason’s sake, then out of superstition – can use the same arguments once used by Qaddafi, a crazy dictator who died suffocating in his own blood. But, the multitude of some humans’ ability and desire to underestimate, insult and subjugate simply never fails to impress.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/sarajevo protest.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/sarajevo protest.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Photograph courtesy of the author</em></p> <p>Before sleep comes the masochism of reading the statuses of Facebook friends who are still, days after, fixated on what things have burned out and how savage was it. To be honest, that is a fading trend. The new opposition to the demonstrations, how ever I try to elevate its essence here, boils down to a well known fear of people from Sarajevo – to be part of something that is <em>ofirno</em> (lame). The social perception of <em>ofirno </em>or ‘lame’ is that it is worse than death. Whilst you are lame or part of something lame, people are judging you, most probably laughing at you, days and nights, and you are a live witness to it all. Here, I should say that writing like this is an exemplary of what is <em>ofirno</em>.</p> <p>In general, immunity towards fears generated in smaller places is something banal, looks funny in sitcoms, at times is embarrassing or annoying, but like quitting inhaling and exhaling less than 1 gram of tobacco wrapped in paper, it is really hard. What people do in Sarajevo each day looks easy but it is really hard. Every day they are breaking up with fears of the other; fear of being incapable, weak and insignificant; fears of all that being pointless; fear of being lame.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/1920029_251057701731773_628932091_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536137/1920029_251057701731773_628932091_n.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Photograph courtesy of the author.</em></p> <p>Due to its entertaining qualities, the wisdom of&nbsp;<em>Back to the Future</em> films – even the wisdom contained in its well-picked title – is often overlooked. Simply, sometimes one needs to go back and forth in time to establish a just equilibrium in the present, and secure a bearable one in the future. Today in the afternoon citizens of Sarajevo will time-travel to the practices of ancient Greece – after <a href="http://bhprotestfiles.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/larisa-kurtovicthe-spectre-of-a-lost-future/">twenty years </a>of no meaningful ‘citizenship’ under the Dayton constitution, a citizens' plenum will convene in the heart of the student campus. Unlike in ancient Greece, however – to this plenum, women are invited.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/syria-women-peacework-and-lesson-from-bosnia">Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/peter-lippman/bosnia-blood-honey-and-wars-legacy">Bosnia: blood, honey, and war&#039;s legacy </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heather-mcrobie-sadzida-tulic/ratko-mladi%C4%87s-arrest-start-but-let-it-not-obscure-how-much-more-is-nee">Ratko Mladić&#039;s arrest: a start, but let it not obscure how much more is needed for justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/bosnias-error-of-othering">Bosnia&#039;s error of othering</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/longing-for-%E2%80%98normality%E2%80%99-women%E2%80%99s-experience-of-post-war-bosnia-herzegovina-0">Longing for ‘normality’: women’s experience of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bosnia_civil_society_paths_from_srebrenica">Bosnia&#039;s civil society: paths from Srebrenica</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wanda-troszczynska-van-genderen/bosnia-citizenship-and-detention">Bosnia: citizenship and detention </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bedrudin-brljavac/bosnia-between-ethnic-nationalism-and-europeanization">Bosnia between ethnic-nationalism and Europeanization</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? reimagining yugoslavia politics of protest Bosnian Citizens Protest 50.50 Women, Peace & Security From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick women's human rights women and power gender justice 50.50 newsletter Sumeja Tulic Spotlight on Bosnia Wed, 12 Feb 2014 09:54:33 +0000 Sumeja Tulic 79276 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Rehearsing the revolution": theatre in Israel-Palestine https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/niki-seth-smith/rehearsing-revolution-theatre-in-israel-palestine <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>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.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.cardboardcitizens.org.uk/p1.html">Cardboard Citizens</a>, the theatre group, is well known for working with homeless and displaced people to create vibrant, edgy shows. Its latest play, <a href="http://www.cardboardcitizens.org.uk/p2s81.html">Glass House</a>, opens today and is expected to garner rapturous reviews. But the group is less known for its role as an international hub for the <a href="http://www.theatreoftheoppressed.org/en/index.php?useFlash=0">Theatre of the Oppressed</a>, the practice they use to create shows here in Britain. Developed by Brazilian practitioner Augusto Boal in the 1960s, the Theatre of the Oppressed creates a dialogue between the performers and the audience. Audience members become "spect-actors", with the ability to intervene in the action. By changing the theatre’s reality for the better it becomes, in Boal’s words, “a rehearsal for the revolution”. The charity recently flew an Israeli ex-officer to London, to share his experience of practicing the Theatre of the Oppressed in Israel/Palestine. I went along to hear more about the practice. Was it just another way to make drama lovies feel warm inside? Or was it powerful enough to have an impact on one of the most entrenched conflicts in modern history?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Chen Alon.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Chen Alon.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chen Alon. Image: Dubi Roman</span></span></span></p> <p>In the charity’s new Whitechapel offices, tucked away between kebab shops and Islamic clothes stores, Chen Alon addresses us. He’s built like a tank and looks every inch the officer before his troops. "Do I look like a killer to you?" he banters with the chair. Adrian Jackson, CEO Cardboard Citizens, laughs and shakes his head.&nbsp; They're old acquaintances, and there was nothing threatening in the question. After fifteen years service in the Israeli army and reserves, Alon became a ‘refusenik’ and served time for his decision to stop bearing arms. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t like confrontation. “Conflict is development,” he tells us. That’s why he helped to found <a href="http://cfpeace.org/">Combatants for Peace</a>, a movement of Israelis and Palestinian veterans who have found new ways to fight for an end to the violence. </p> <p>Combatants for Peace use the Theatre of the Oppressed to communicate experience, combat myths and ultimately help build a shared world for Israelis and Palestinians. Alon founded the movement in 2005 and they currently work with around 150 activists from both communities, most of whom have seen violent action. They advocate a <a href="http://cfpeace.org/?page_id=289">two-state solution</a> and an end to the occupation, stopping the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that perpetuate the conflict. However they believe change won’t only come from a political settlement but from building new ways of relating between individuals and communities on the ground.&nbsp; </p><p>They perform in the West Bank and elsewhere, often in risky situations. A <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA5tSkXg2G4">video</a> of a performance staged at a road block of Shufa village shows a scene all too familiar to both communities. A sick Palestinian grandfather is trying to get back to his home in the village and is stopped by Israeli soldiers. As they act out the scene, a group of actual IDF soldiers hover nearby, as do a crowd of Palestinian villagers. The blurring line between theatre and reality becomes too much, and the soldiers order them to stop. Against their will, they have become a kind of “spect-actor”. Alon describes how the actors confront the guards by "mirroring how they look" in order to "shoot embarrassment on them”. That was in 2010, and after four years in Shufa the company had helped provide electricity to the village and remove roadblocks. Today, they are trying the same in Izbat Tabib, as in this <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3FJAireLwM">recent performance on the demolition of homes</a>, where the audience is invited to stop the action and intervene. </p><iframe width="400" height="250" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/BA5tSkXg2G4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p>Members have narrowly escaped arrest following performances and a group were <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.568202">severely beaten in 2011</a> while carrying out an action to farm olives on occupied land. Despite the danger, Alon believes that "theatre always reduces violence" through its ability to “change minds”. His own life supports this belief. He describes how he grew up as a boy with the story that “Zionism saved my grandfather”, who had left Nazi Germany for what was then Palestine and became the sole survivor of his family. Alon’s dad fought in the wars of '67 and '73 and it was never a question that son would follow father. After his extended four years conscription, Alon joined an acting school in 1992, beginning the period of his life when he would swap treading the boards for a month every year as an officer in the reserves. He recalls how he took part in a night arrest in a Palestinian home, and the shock as he discovered that the "terrorist" was a 10-year-old boy. Later, as he was delivering an explanation to his soldiers, he had the curious feeling of acting a role that felt wrong. "I needed more to justify the character than what I was telling them," he says with a wry smile.&nbsp; </p><p>The Theatre of the Oppressed can expose and challenge the roles that Israelis and Palestinians play on a daily basis. Alon talks of "making everything which is invisible between us visible" by “putting ourselves in the shoes of the other." This doesn't only apply to war veterans. He is concerned that, while the Israeli members of Combatants for Peace have roughly equal women and men, there are hardly any women amongst the Palestinians. "I ask them, where does your responsibly lie? What part of this oppression of women is the occupation?" He tells me that the Theatre of the Oppressed has changed his relationship with his wife, leading him to confront inequalities between them.&nbsp; </p><p>Here in Whitechapel, Alon sees many examples of “Us and Them” that could benefit from what Combatants for Peace have learned in Israel/Palestine. “I look around here… in London there is a lot of polarisation.” He mentions prisoners and free citizens, drug addicts and non-dependents, the Islamic community and those that harbor fear and anger against them, a tension with which he has more than enough experience. An important aspect of Cardboard Citizens’ work is to bring together practitioners from across Britain and the world to share knowledge and learn about the Theatre of the Oppressed. They train around three hundred people a year, most of whom work in theatre, but also social workers and others who confront oppression in their work and lives.</p> <p>Can theatre really bring about social change? Alon is fiercely aware that the situation in Israel/Palestine has only worsened since he began Combatants for Peace. An end to the occupation remains a distant hope. What is certain is that the movement can provide an alternative to the idea that non-violence is passive. It is a way to struggle for a resolution without bearing arms. Last year, around 2,500 people came to the Combatants for Peace <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/thousands-of-israelis-attend-alternative-memorial-day-ceremony-in-tel-aviv.premium-1.515530">joint memorial service</a>, instead of the all-Israeli Memorial Day celebrations. This was not ‘drama’ in the strict sense, yet the Theatre of the Oppressed sees performance as only the start of the process. “The objective is to encourage autonomous activity,” Boal said, “to set a process in motion, to stimulate transformative creativity, to change spectators into protagonists.”</p> <p>While fervent advocates, Cardboard Citizens are aware of the potential weaknesses of the practice. Jackson touches on the dangers of “losing a political compass in the warm fuzzy feeling of we’re all human together, wooly and reconciled.” Yet it’s clear that concrete gains have been made in Israel/Palestine. It may be easier to point to an ended roadblock than to gauge the number of homeless and displaced people in Britain who have benefited form the work of Cardboard Citizens. Overall, I am convinced that the Theatre of the Oppressed can make real social change – but perhaps that’s the wrong way of phrasing it. It’s the blurring of reality between drama and real life that appears to make the practice so effective in confronting injustice. The Theatre of the Oppressed doesn’t end when the curtain falls. You could argue that this is when it really begins.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/land-loss-and-longing-women-and-equalities-in-north-of-israel-palestine">Land, loss and longing: women and equalities in the north of Israel Palestine</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/brigitte-beauzamy/confronting-militarist-mindsets-in-israeli-society-interview-with-n-0">Confronting militarist mindsets in Israeli society: interview with New Profile founding members</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/katherine-natanel/this-american-life-in-israel-palestine">&#039;This American Life&#039; in Israel-Palestine</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/email/checkpoints-and-counter-spaces">Checkpoints and counter spaces</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/aesha-aqtam-piera-edelman/peacework-to-love-stranger">Peacework: to love a stranger</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Israel Civil society Conflict Culture 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence From War to Peace 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Niki Seth-Smith Tue, 04 Feb 2014 11:19:47 +0000 Niki Seth-Smith 79051 at https://www.opendemocracy.net