Month: <span>November 2022</span>

Convention on the Rights of the Child Appeals

Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Vital…

Featured Image: Photo by Yannis H on Unsplash.

When the Convention on the Rights of the Child was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989; governments took a major step forward in establishing a framework of world law to protect the basic dignity and rights of children in all parts of the world. 

Therefore on 20 November; we remember with gratitude those who worked to develop the concepts and reality of the Rights of the Child; but also to measure the tasks that are before us; especially as members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  This universal framework is based on the principle that each child should have the possibility to develop into an active and responsible member of society. The way in which a society treats its children reflects not only its qualities of compassion and protective caring, but also its sense of justice, its commitment to the future and its urge to better the human condition for continuing generations.

General Asembly

 Image by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?.

“Save the Children International Union”. 

The effort to create a legal framework for the welfare of the child began early in the League of Nations efforts with the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924 which was largely based on a text written by the then newly-established NGO “Save the Children International Union”.  Child welfare has always been a prime example of cooperative efforts among governments, scholars highlighting the conditions of children, and NGOs working actively in the field.

However, the Geneva Declaration served as the basis for the UN General Assembly resolution on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted also on 20 November 1959.  The 1959 Declaration was followed with more specific provisions of the Declaration on Social and Legal Principles; relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice; and the  Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict.

League of Nations

Featured Image: Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

Special Working Group on the Rights of the Child.

In 1978, some representatives of both governments and NGOs in the UN human rights circles in Geneva felt that it was time to bring together these different declarations and provisions into a single text that would have the  legal force of a UN convention.  The Polish delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights took the lead in this effort; but some governments felt that the different declarations needed to be closely reviewed and measured against changing realities.

Thus a Special Working Group on the Rights of the Child was created in 1979  under the chairmanship of the Polish representative; the legal specialist Adam Lopatka. Government and NGO representatives worked together from 1979 to 1988 for a week each year.  There was a core group; including the Association of World Citizens; which worked steadily and which represented a wide range of different beliefs, values and traditions, as well as a wide range of socio-economic realities.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

As a result of serious discussions, the  Convention covers a wide range of human rights which can be summarized as the three “Ps”: provision, protection and participation.  Each child has the right to be provided with certain things and services, such as a name and a nationality, to health care and education.  Each child has a right to be protected from certain acts such as torture, exploitation, arbitrary detention and unwarranted removal from parental care.  Each child has a right to participate in decisions affecting their lives as well as in community life.

The Working Group managed to come to a consensus on the final version in time for the General Assembly to adopt it on 20 November 1989, the anniversary date of the Declaration.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child is meant to provide guidance for governments to review national legislation and policies in their child-related initiatives.  It is by examining national law and policy and the effectiveness of government structures and mechanisms that progress can be measured. The Convention also provides a framework of goals for the vital activities of NGOs.  NGOs work on two lines simultaneously: to remind governments of their obligations through approaches to ministries, elected officials and the media and to undertake their own operational efforts.

Article 43 of the Convention.

To help governments to fulfill their obligations and to review national practices, a Committee on the Rights of the Child was created as called for in article 43 of the Convention. The Committee is composed of 10 independent experts elected for a four-year term by the States which have ratified the Convention. The Committee usually meets three times a year for a month each time in Geneva to review and discuss reports submitted by governments, once every four years. The sessions of the Committee are largely carried out in a non-confrontational dialogue with an emphasis on “unmet needs”. The discussion usually lasts six to nine hours for each country. The Committee members have received information and suggestions from NGOs in advance.  The Committee members ask many questions and based on the government’s responses, make suggestions for improving the promotion and protection of children’s rights in the country.

By creating a common legal framework of world law, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has increased levels of governmental accountability, bringing about  legislative and institutional reforms, and increasing international cooperation.  As James P. Grant, then UNICEF Executive Director said:

Transcending its detailed provisions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child embodies the fundamental principle that the lives and the normal development of children should have first call on society’s concerns and capacities and that children should be able to depend upon the commitment in good times and in bad, in normal times and in times of emergency, in times of peace and in times of war, in times of prosperity and in times of recession.”

Unicef

Flag of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an organization of the United Nations. By Delehaye, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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International Humanitarian Law Appeals

Upholding International Humanitarian Law in Times of Armed Conflict:…

Featured Image: Ukrainian diaspora in Brussels protests the Russian invasion, Processed with VSCO with acg preset. By Bartosz Brzezinski from Chicago, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow.

The invasion by Russian troops into Ukraine has raised in a dramatic way the issue of the respect of international humanitarian law. There have been reports of the use of cluster munitions fired into civilian areas. The Association of World Citizens (AWC) was very active on efforts which led to the convention banning cluster weapons.

Regular military personnel of all countries are theoretically informed of the rules of the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and the Protocol Additional adopted in 1977.

When the 1949 Geneva Conventions were drafted and adopted, it was possible to spell out in considerable detail rules regarding prisoners of war and the protection of civilians, in particular Common Article 3 (so called because it is found in all four Conventions) provides that: 

“each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: Persons taking no active part in the hostilities…shall in all circumstances be treated humanely without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.”

 

The importance of Common Article 3 should not be underestimated. It sets out in straightforward terms important protections that all parties to a conflict must respect. In order to meet the need for additional protection, international humanitarian law has evolved to cover not only international armed conflict but also internal armed conflict. Today, international human rights standards are also considered part of international humanitarian law, thus providing additional protection for vulnerable population groups such as women, children, and minorities.

As situations of internal violence and strife proliferate, abuses committed by non-State actors, such as armed militias, are increasing concerns. Fundamental standards of international humanitarian law are intended to ensure the effective protection of human beings in all situations. The standards are clear. (1)

Geneva Conventions

Geneva Conventions – signing in 1949. By British Red Cross., CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

There are two major weaknesses in the effectiveness of International Humanitarian Law.

The first is that many people do not know that it exists and that they are bound by its norms. Thus, there is an important role for greater promotional activities, the dissemination of information through general education, specific training of the military, outreach to armed militias, and cooperation with a wide range of non-governmental organizations.

The second weakness is that violations of international humanitarian law are rarely punished. Governments too often tolerate these violations. Few soldiers are tried, or court-martialed, for the violations of international humanitarian law. This weakness is even more true of non-governmental militias and armed groups.

In fact, most violations of international humanitarian law are not actions of individual soldiers or militia members carried away by a sudden rush of anger, fear, a desire of revenge or a sudden sexual urge to rape a woman. Soldiers and militia members violating the norms of international humanitarian law are acting on orders of their commanders.

Thus, the only sold response is an act of conscience to refuse an order of a military or militia higher up and refuse to torture, to bomb a medical facility, to shoot a prisoner, to harm a child, and to rape a woman. Conscience, that inner voice which discerns what is right from wrong and encourages right action is the value on which we can build the defense of international humanitarian law. The defense of conscience to refuse unjust orders is a large task but a crucial action for moving toward a law-based world society.

Original Geneva Conventions

The original document of the first Geneva Convention from 1864, on loan to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland. By Kevin Quinn, Ohio, US, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes

(1) For useful guides to international humanitarian law see:

D. Schindler and J. Toman, The Laws of Armed Conflicts (Martinus Nihjoff Publishers, 1988)

H. McCoubrey and N.D. White, International Law and Armed Conflicts (Dartmouth Publishing Co., 1992)

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

 
 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

1 2 12

Jacques Maritain Portraits of World Citizens.

Jacques Maritain: World Citizen Philosopher.

Featured Image: Jacques Maritain, French philosopher and writer. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow.

Jacques Maritain (18 November 1882 -23 April 1973);  was a French intellectual who spent the years of World War Two in Princeton in the USA. He was a friend of the anti-Nazi German author Thomas Mann;  who also lived in Princeton. Both men were among the active advocates of world citizenship. When Thomas Mann’s daughter, Elizabeth Mann Borgese, was editing the world citizen journal Common Cause from the University of Chicago in the 1947-1950 period; Jacques Maritain wrote a number of articles for the journal along the lines of his thinking set out in his Man and the State.

Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann. By Carl Van Vechten, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

At the time that he was writing for Common Cause, he was the Ambassador of France to the Vatican, having been named ambassador by Charles De Gaulle from 1945 to 1948. Maritain had supported De Gaulle during the war when many French Catholics had sided with the Vichy government or were silent.

 

Jacques Maritain had become a well-known French intellectual in the 1930s for his writings on a wide range of topics but always in a spirit of spirituality in the Roman Catholic tradition. However, he was born into a Protestant family with anticlerical views which were common at the start of the Third Republic in the 1870s.

Maritain was converted to the Roman Catholic faith in his early twenties after a period of depression linked to his search for the meaning of life. He had married young to his wife Raissa, who came from a Jewish Ukrainian family who had come to France due to a persistent anti-Jewish atmosphere in Ukraine. Both Jacques and Raissa converted to the Roman Catholic faith at the same time as a result of intense discussions between the two.

Raissa became well known in her own right as a poet and writer on mystical spirituality, but she also always worked closely on the writings of her husband. Their spiritual Catholicism was always colored by their early friendship with unorthodox Catholic thinkers, in particular Charles Péguy and Leon Bloy. After Raissa’s death in 1960, Jacques Maritain moved back to France from Princeton to live in a monastic community for the last 12 years of his life.

His writing on the spiritual background for creative actions for the benefit of the world community can be an inspiration to us all.

 

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Albert Camus Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Camus : Stoic Humanist and World Citizen.

Featured Image: Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner. By Photograph by United Press International, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

Albert Camus (7 Nov  1913-  4 Jan 1960) would be 108 years old,  had he lived beyond the car crash,  which took his life in 1960 as he and another editor from the Paris publishing house, Gallimard;  were driving too fast from a Christmas vacation in the south of France toward Paris. 

Camus;  who had been the youngest writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957;  had chaired the committee of support for Garry Davis’ world citizen efforts in Paris;  and had contributed his writing skills to the statement;  which Garry Davis and Robert Sarrazac read,  when interrupting a session of the UN General Assembly meeting in Paris in 1948 in aplea for the UN to promote world citizenship.

A month later the UN General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  which many saw as a reply to Garry Davis’ request as the Declaration sets the basis for world law directly of benefit to each individual.

The Stranger.

Albert Camus in 1948;  was still a highly regarded editorial writer for Combat;  which had begun life as a clandestine newspaper in 1941;  when France was partly occupied by the Nazi troops, and half of France was under the control of the anti-democratic regime of Vichy.

Although the Germans occupied Paris;  they allowed publishing, theatre and films to continue if the German censors found nothing too overtly oppositional in them. Thus, Camus’ novel  L’Etranger (The Stranger) was published in 1942 by the leading publisher, Gallimard. 

This short novel is written in a style which owes something to the early style of Hemingway.  L’Etranger is a cry of revolt against man-made standards of absolute morality — a theme he develops more fully in his political-philosophical book on the use of violence L’Homme révolté (1951) translated as The Rebel. (2). As he said in his acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Stockholm

 

“the nobility of our calling will always be rooted in two commitments: refusal to lie about what we know and resistance to oppression.”

 

Citizens of The World.

Albert Camus was born in Algeria;  the son of a French father killed in the First World War;  when he was only one and an illiterate Spanish mother;  who raised him while working as a cleaning woman.  Camus was intellectually stimulated by his father’s brother;  who read books of philosophy and was active in the local Masonic lodge. Camus’ intelligence was spotted by a secondary school teacher;  who helped him get a scholarship to the University of Algiers;  where he studied history and philosophy, writing a master’s thesis comparing the Gnostic ideas of Plotinius and the Christian ideas of St. Augustine.

Camus was faithful to his Mediterranean roots, and his thinking is largely that of the classic Greek and Roman Stoics, the first to call themselves “citizens of the world.”

Camus is the champion of the “now” rather than the “later”. He is critical of Christian thought;  which he interprets as “putting up with the injustice of the now in order to be rewarded in heaven later” along the lines of the satirical song based on a Salvation Army hymn “there will be pie in the sky by and by”.  He was particularly opposed to the “Christian” policy of Franco’s Spanish government. He had been strongly influenced by the struggle of Republican Spain and the Spanish civil war writings of André Malraux. 

The Rebel.

The same refusal to sacrifice the present for a potentially better future;  made him a strong opponent of the Stalinist Soviet Union.  For Albert Camus;  there was no difference between dying in a Soviet camp and dying in a Nazi camp. We should be neither executioners nor victims (the title of one of his most quoted essays).  It is madness to sacrifice human lives today in the pursuit of a utopian future.

Camus is perhaps more memorable as a great journalist and an editorialist than as a novelist. He had put his reputation on the line in defense of Garry Davis;  even being put in jail for a short time for having joined Davis in a street protest in front of a Paris prison;  where Davis was protesting the conviction of a young man;  who had refused military service — a man working to “satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart.”

As Albert Camus expressed his world citizen ethos at the end of The Rebel “The earth remains our first and last love.  Our brothers are breathing under the same sky as we; justice is a living thing. Now is born that strange joy which helps one live and die, and which we shall never again postpone to a later time.”

Garry Davis

Garry Davis with his World Passport (January 9, 1957). By Wim van Rossem / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes.

  1. Albert Camus.The Rebel (New York : Vintage Books, 1956, 306pp.)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Velimir Khlebnikov Rapprochement of Cultures.

Velimir Khlebnikov: The Futurian and World Citizen.

Featured Image: V. Khlebnikov by N.Kulbin (1913, Akhmatova’s museum).jpg By seefilename, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

(November 9, 1885 – June 28, 1922).

By René Wadlow.

Let Planet Earth be sovereign at last. Planet Earth alone will be our sovereign song.

– Velimir Khlebnikov.

 

Velimir Khlebnikov was a shooting star of Russian culture in the years just prior to the start of the First World War. He was part of a small creative circle of poets, painters and writers;  who wanted to leave the old behind and to set the stage for the future;  such as the abstract painter Kazimir Malevich. They called themselves “The Futurians”. They were interested in being avenues for the Spirit which they saw at work in peasent life and in shamans’ visions;  however, the Spirit was very lacking in the works of the ruling nobility and commercial elite.

Kazimir Malevich

Self-Portrait (1908 or 1910-1911) (Kazimir Malevich). By Kazimir Malevich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Charlotte Douglas notes in her study of Khlebnikov:

“To tune mankind into harmony with the universe – that was Khlebnikov’s vocation. He wanted to make the Planet Earth fit for the future, to free it from the deadly gravitational pull of everyday lying and pretense, from the tyranny of petty human instincts and the slow death of comfort and complacency.” (1)

Khlebnikov wrote:

“Old ones! You are holding back the fast advance of humanity. You are preventing the boiling locomotive of youth from crossing the mountain that lies in its path. We have broken the locks and see what your freight cars contain: tombstones for the young.”

Velimir Khlebnikov

 
Vélimir Khlebnikov (before 1922). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Futurian movement as such lasted from 1911 until 1915;  when its members were dispersed by the start of the World War, the 1917 revolutions and the civil war. Khlebnikov died in 1922 just as Stalin was consolidating his power. Stalin would put an end to artistic creativity.

The Futurians were concerned that Russia should play a creative role in the world;  but they were also world citizens who wanted to create a world-wide network of creative scientists, artists and thinkers who would have a strong impact on world events. As Khlebnikov wrote in his manifesto To the Artists of the World:

We have long been searching for a program that would act something like a lens capable of focusing the combined rays of the work of the artist and the work of the thinker toward a single point where they might join in a common task and be able to ignite even the cold essence of ice and turn it to a blazing bonfire. Such a program, the lens capable of directing together your fiery courage and the cold intellect of the thinkers has now been discovered.”

The appeal for such a creative, politically relevant network was written in early 1919 when much of the world was starting to recover from World War I. However, Russia was sinking into a destructive civil war. The Futurians were dispersed to many different areas and were never able to create such a network. The vision of a new network is now a challenge that we must meet.

Note.

1) Charlotte Douglas (Ed.) The King of Time: Velimir Khlebnikov (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985).

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Environment Appeals

Protecting the Environment in Time of War.

November 6 is set by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution (A/RES/56/4) as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
Throughout history; in armed conflicts water wells have been poisoned, crops set on fire, forests cut down, and animals killed to gain military advantage.  Today, many armed conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources such as timber, diamonds, and fertile land and water.
 

     The Association of World Citizens has stressed that protection of the environment needs to be an important part of conflict prevention. 

 
The resource base that people depend upon for their livelihood needs to be safeguarded.
Most recently; the Association of World Citizens has highlighted the deliberate destruction of food-related resources in the armed conflict between the Ethiopean federal forces and the opposition movements in Tigray.
 
Tigray
 
Image: Ethiopian national defense force 2nd Lt. Aweke Demesse talks with his troops on where to station their perimeter watches during Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s “Train the Trainer” course. By right, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tigray: After the Calm, A Possible Storm.

 

The restoration of the agricultural infrastructure will be a lengthy process.

 
     Since 4 November 2020; fighting has gone on in Tigray with the deliberate destruction of crops and agricultural infrastructures.  U.N.-led humanitarian food relief was prevented from entering the area. Fortunately; at the start of November 2022; a ceasefire and a peace agreement facilitated by the African Union was signed in South Africa; where the negotiations had been held.
 
The African Union has designated a team of 10 persons to follow up the process.  However; the restoration of the agricultural infrastructure will be a lengthy process.  It is not sure that all the factions involved will agree to the creasefire.  The situation merits a close watch.
 

Efforts  of protection need to be permanent. 

 
     There are currently other conflicts linked to natural resources such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The International Day must serve as a reminder; but efforts  of protection need to be permanent.
The Association of World Citizens will continue its efforts.
 
 
  René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.
 
Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash.

Democratic Republic of Congo — Need for Reconciliation Bridge-Builders.

Credits:

Image Featured: Photo by Thomas Richter on Unsplash.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

1 2 12

women Appeals

Citizens of the World: U.S. Women and Global Government.

Citizens of the World: U.S. Women and Global Government. (Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022, 238 pp.)

     As Lucia Ames Mead, one of the nine women highlighted in this study, wrote in 1904:

“The decade is not far distant when we shall find that the largest organism to which we owe allegiance is not the United States, but the great World – we are first of all citizens of the World, first of all members of humanity.”

     Between 1900 and 1950, many politically active women in the United States advocated for greater geopolitical integration in order to end war.  They argued that increasing global interdependence demanded both governmental cooperation and a broader commitment to the international community.
 
     All these women supported and worked for various measures to advance women’s political, legal and economic status.  They all believed that women had a right and a responsibility to participate on the world stage equally with men.  They felt a  responsibility to the people of the world and to future generations to inaugurate mechanisms that would end war.
 

 
 
 

Megan Threlkeld.

     As Megan Threlheld stresses these nine women were not simply promoting an abstract sense of unity among all humankind.  They were demanding to participate in shaping a real, tangible global polity. 
 
A structured international body with authority and power was a prerequisite, they believed, for lasting peace among nations and greater equality among human beings.  Many supported the League of Nations and then the United Nations as necessary first steps toward a genuine world government.
 
 
     As Conor Cruise O’Brian wrote in The U.N. Sacred Drama:
 

” The General Assembly is the main focus of such power as does reside in the U.N. – moral, imaginative, religious power.  Not that the Assembly is, in itself, especially moral, imaginative or religious,  but that the corresponding human qualities act and through it, in surprising and unpredictable ways.”

     The nine women all believed that the foremost purpose of any international institution was to end war and as world citizens they were responsible for furthering that goal.  They wanted a global system in which world politics is not conducted by force and coercion but through negotiation and compromise.   
 
All placed an emphasis on education for world citizenship.  Fannie Fern Andrews developed a grade-school curriculum for world citizenship based on educating children about their responsibilities in the home, the city, the nation, and the world.
 
     Megan Threlheld’s fine study is a strong reminder that  world citizenship has retained its tremendous power to inspire people to develop just and peaceful practices.
 
 
  René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.
 

Credits: 

Image Featured: On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, Ambassador Robert P. Jackson hosted a reception for alumnae of the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. By U.S. Embassy Ghana, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

1 2 12

Women as Peacemakers Appeals

Women as Peacemakers.

Featured Image: Cynthia Cockburn. The strength of Critique: Trajectories of Marxism – Feminism Internationaler Kongress Berlin 2015. By Rosa Luxemburg-Stiftung, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Seeing with eyes that are gender aware, women tend to make connections between the oppression that is the ostensible cause of conflict (ethnic or national oppression) in the light of another cross-cutting one : that of gender regime.  Feminist work tends to represent war as a continuum of violence from the bedroom to the battlefield, traversing our bodies and our sense of self.  

We glimpse this more readily because as women we have seen that ‘the home’ itself is not the haven it is cracked up to be.  Why, if it is a refuge, do so many women have to escape it to ‘refuges’?  And we recognize, with Virginia Woolf, that ‘the public and private worlds are inseparably connected: that the tyrannies and servilities of one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other.


Cynthia Cockburn. Negotiating Gender and National Identities.

The U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325.

October 31 is the anniversary of  the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 which calls for full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peace processes, and peace-building, thus creating opportunities for women to become fully involved in governance and leadership. 

This historic Security Council resolution 1325 of 31 October 2000 provides a mandate to incorporate gender perspectives in all areas of peace support.  Its adoption is part of a process within the UN system through its World Conferences on Women in Mexico City (1975), in Copenhagen (1980), in Nairobi (1985), in Beijing (1995), and at a special session of the U.N. General Assembly to study progress five years after Beijing (2000).

UN-General-Asembly

 Image by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?.

Lysistrata.

Since  2000, there have been no radical changes as a result of Resolution 1325, but the goal has been articulated and accepted. Now women must learn to take hold of and generate political power if they are to gain an equal role in peace-making. They must be willing to try new avenues and new approaches as symbolized by the actions of Lysistrata.

Lysistrata, immortalized by Aristophanes, mobilized women on both sides of the Athenian-Spartan War for a sexual strike in order to force men to end hostilities and avert mutual annihilation.  In this, Lysistrata and her co-strikers were forerunners of the American humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow who proposed a hierarchy of needs: water, food, shelter, and sexual relations being the foundation. (See Abraham Maslow The Farther Reaches of Human Nature)  Maslow is important for conflict resolution work because he stresses dealing directly with identifiable needs in ways that are clearly understood by all parties and with which they are willing to deal at the same time.

Lysistrata

Aubrey Beardsley: Aristophanes Lysistrata, 1896. By Ignatius,, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Time is Ripe” to deal with the issue.

Addressing each person’s underlying needs means that one moves toward solutions that acknowledge and value those needs rather than denying them.  To probe below the surface requires redirecting the energy towards asking ‘what are your real needs here? What interests need to be serviced in this situation?’ The answers to such questions significantly alter the agenda and provide a real point of entry into the negotiation process.

It is always difficult to find a point of entry into a conflict. An entry point is a subject on which people are willing to discuss because they sense the importance of the subject and all sides feel that ‘the time is ripe’ to deal with the issue.

The Art of Conflict Resolution.

The art of conflict resolution is highly dependent on the ability to get to the right depth of understanding and intervention into the conflict.  All conflicts have many layers.  If one starts off too deeply, one can get bogged down in philosophical discussions about the meaning of life.

However, one can also get thrown off track by focusing on too superficial an issue on which there is relatively quick agreement.  When such relatively quick agreement is followed by blockage on more essential questions, there can be a feeling of betrayal.

How do these conflicts affect people in the society?.

Since Lysistrata, women, individually and in groups, have played a critical role in the struggle for justice and peace in all societies.  However, when real negotiations begin, women are often relegated to the sidelines.  However a gender perspective on peace, disarmament, and conflict resolution entails a conscious and open process of examining how women and men participate in and are affected by conflict differently.

It requires ensuring that the perspectives, experiences and needs of both women and men are addressed and met in peace-building activities.  Today, conflicts reach everywhere.  How do these conflicts affect people in the society — women and men, girls and boys, the elderly and the young, the rich and poor, the urban and the rural?.

Conflict Transformation Efforts:

There has been a growing awareness that women and children are not just victims of violent conflict and wars −’collateral damage’ − but they are chosen targets.  Conflicts such as those in Rwanda,  the former Yugoslavia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have served to bring the issue of rape and other sexual atrocities as deliberate tools of war to the forefront of international attention.  Such violations must be properly documented, the perpetrators brought to justice, and victims provided with criminal and civil redress.

I would stress three elements which seem to me to be the ‘gender’ contribution to conflict transformation efforts:

The Domain of Analysis.

  • The first is in the domain of analysis, the contribution of the knowledge of gender relations as indicators of power. Uncovering gender differences in a given society will lead to an understanding of power relations in general in that society, and to the illumination of contradictions and injustices inherent in those relations.

The role of women in specific conflict situations.

  • The second contribution is to make us more fully aware of the role of women in specific conflict situations.  Women should not only be seen as victims of war: they are often significantly involved in taking initiatives to promote peace. Some writers have stressed that there is an essential link between women, motherhood and non-violence, arguing that those engaged in mothering work have distinct motives for rejecting war which run in tandem with their ability to resolve conflicts non-violently. Others reject this position of a gender bias toward peace and stress rather that the same continuum of non-violence to violence is found among women as among men.  In practice, it is never all women nor all men who are involved in peace-making efforts.  Sometimes, it is only a few, especially at the start of peace-making efforts.  The basic question is how best to use the talents, energies, and networks of both women and men for efforts at conflict resolution.

Detailed analysis of the socialization process in a given society.

  •  The third contribution of a gender approach with its emphasis on the social construction of roles is to draw our attention to a detailed analysis of the socialization process in a given society.  Transforming gender relations requires an understanding of the socialization process of boys and girls, of the constraints and motivations which create gender relations. Thus, there is a need to look at patterns of socialization, potential incitements to violence in childhood training patterns, and socially-approved ways of dealing with violence.

The Association of World Citizens has stressed that it is important to have women directly involved in peace-making processes. The strategies women have adapted to get to the negotiating table are testimony to their ingenuity, patience and determination.  Solidarity and organization are crucial elements.   The path may yet be long but the direction is set.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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