The Year in Review: Global Action’s Virtual Life

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Many of you who consulted our largely out-of-date website in 2018 did so to access our increasingly influential policy blog (the tree to the right) and so know more or less what we’ve accomplished over this past year, with whom we have accomplished it, and the “so much” that still remains to be done.

Our philosophy has remained constant over these past few years – put ideas and commitments into the policy community, but define ourselves less by what we do ourselves and more by what we leverage together with others. Giving interesting projects a “push” is what we do best, not owning or controlling, nor branding or gate-keeping.

Moreover, the focus remains on the development of the diverse young people who grace our office on a regular basis, and certainly have done so this year as well. Ready or not, it is “their turn” to see what can be made of the challenges and opportunities that lie before us. That young people still want to be part of our office and this policy community, and that they collectively “look like” the UN community as a whole, remains a great blessing to us.

We need to better nurture these younger voices. That we can take as good care of them as we do is largely a function of some generous donors of funding and in-kind support who have stood by us as we cleaned out our longtime office space, shifted some core partnerships, and addressed a few access challenges inside the UN. This space is not sufficient to thank all who have rooted us on in tangible ways during 2018, but mention must be made here of Dylan Hixon and the A & A Fund, Hope Hanafin, Lois Whitman, Karin Perro, Robert Thomas, Wendy Brawer and Green Map, and Danielle Katz. We also honor Dr. John Burroughs and the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, without whom Global Action might well have not thrived (let alone survived) into the present.

If the closing of our office was the most physically and emotionally demanding part of this year (see reflection and new contact information below), there were many other energy and soul-lifting moments that we were honored to share. Marching with Marta Benavides in San Salvador to honor the legacy of Monsignor Romero; sitting in a Marrakesh churchyard speaking with refugees from a region of Cameroon to which we have long accorded special importance; holding sessions with Roman Hunger to help NATO implement its new and expanded commitment to curb the proliferation of small arms; meeting with our dear colleague Dr. Catherine Jones and Indonesian officials to map out security priorities as they join the UN Security Council on January 1, 2019; speaking to business school students at Georgia Tech University, international affairs students at Instituto Mora in Mexico City and participants celebrating the launch of Lin Evola’s extraordinary “Peace Angel” sculpture inside the World Trade Center museum in New York.

There was quite a bit more; indeed more than I can recall let alone communicate gratitude for. Much attention and feed-back by us to UN policies and processes will continue of course, but also beyond the UN in diverse communities who have learned to look past our (mostly my) sometimes excessive intensity to the offers we continue to extend, sharing what we have (and what others have given us) with people doing innovative and hopeful things, ideas and activities that promise to give us all a “fighting chance” in the years to come.

We honor all of these promises, all of the hard work, caregiving and honest thinking that go into initiatives that give us the best opportunity to endure these current difficult moments and emerge in a more sustainable place. We will do our best to persevere on multiple fronts through 2019, offering you our most attentive, thoughtful and generous efforts as many of you have already done for us.

Managing Transition: Global Action’s Next Phase

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Temporary New Address: 521 West 122nd Street, #45, New York, NY 10027

Temporary Phone: 646-660-3044

Email: zuber@globalactionpw.org

Due to the expiration of our lease, Global Action has taken up temporary residence in the home of Dr. Robert Zuber where we will remain until UN-convenient and cost-effective space can be secured.

While we have enjoyed and benefited greatly from our decade long stay at UN Plaza, we are doing everything possible to maintain the most important, relevant and serviceable program and human connections through this new phase.

With support from our generous donors and the skills of our interns and fellows, we will continue to canvas UN headquarters looking for the most fruitful discussions and then linking a host of human security concerns – from sustainable agriculture and development finance to water access and conflict minerals – to the UNs core peace and security mandate. At the same time, through publications, convenings and social media, we will continue to press diplomats and NGOs to see a larger and more inter-connected picture, including more direct caregiving for the UN as an institution during this time of uncertainty both for itself and for the broader global community.

In addition, we have an exciting trip planned to Indonesia this summer to reflect with government officials and other stakeholders – persons who anticipate taking an elected seat in the UN Security Council in 2019 — on ways to make UN peacekeeping better positioned to support political negotiations and agreements when conflict threatens. We will also stay connected to events in El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Central Africa and other sites of violence and injustice, helping to make relevant policy connections that can help restore the peace. 

And we will welcome a wonderful new cohort of interns to help make all our commitments through this transition possible.

As the world continues to spin in unpredictable ways, please stay connected to us through twitter (@globalactionpw) and our policy blog (click on the tree to the right of this post). We welcome your questions, your suggestions, your financial support and even specific leads on possible consulting projects to help us keep our small operation afloat. We’ll let you know when we’ve found a suitable new home.

Better Policy Requires Better People

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In recent months, Global Action has been engaged with a number of organizations and movements seeking to blend policy and personal growth, including “Reaction to Response,” a project of the International’s Women and Girls Sector of Charter for Compassion.  Among its other merits, we have been inspired by the insistence of a growing number of people and projects that achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is more likely “when every man, woman and child treats others as they wish to be treated–with dignity, equity and respect.”

This is the sort of linkage that we seek to explore in a variety of contexts:  between visionary policy on the one hand and people of character and purpose on the other.  Policy, we have learned over many years, can inspire commitment and compassion, but is not a substitute for them.  If we are to fulfill the lofty promises of the SDGs and end the violence and warfare that have undermined so much human development in our collective past, we will need many more hands on deck connected to hearts and minds committed to a disciplined caregiving that says  “yes” to others and, when necessary, “no” to ourselves.

This past September, we were featured in a “Reaction to Response” podcast and “after party” hosted by Lisa Berkley who is well-known in Global Action circles.   Among other things, the podcast covered issues related to the role of dignity in peace and security discourse, renewing efforts to promote equity and respect among women and girls, and how to shift at least part of the security conversation away from weapons and armies towards inclusive, disciplined, compassion-based community development.

For access to the main Podcast, click here.   For access to the “After Party” Podcast, click here.

Reflections on UN CSW 61: An Evening with WIIS-NY

c9tgryyuqaewmgwAs many followers of Global Action know, we have been honored to cultivate a long and productive relationship with Women in International Security (WIIS), and especially its New York and West Coast (US) Chapters.

On April 11, we joined with WIIS-NY for an event to assess the impact of the recently concluded 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) devoted to Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

The speakers for our assessment included Yoshita Singh, Shazia Rafi, Ourania Yancopoulos and Ivy Gabbert, all well-known around the UN system.   The session was ably moderated by WIIS-NY’s Christina Madden.

The discussion veered between issues of women’s leadership at the UN and more general, employment-related discrimination faced by women in a variety of security-related, professional contexts.   In addition, attention was focused on the needs and aspirations of younger women representing part of the largest generation of young people ever to grace our planet.  Two of the young adults who had participated in this CSW joined the group and shared their own commitments to gender equality within and far beyond the UN system.

There were several “take away” insights for Global Action as well:

  • The important focus on rural women whose options and contexts for “empowerment” are often very different from women in urban, educated and even “elite” environments.  We must remain sensitive to context and avoid “one size fits all” discourse.
  • The importance of ensuring that the most qualified women candidates are able and willing to become candidates for institutional leadership, including and especially leadership at the UN.  States simply must take a larger role in nominating qualified women.
  • The importance of improving synergies between “political” events like the CSW and the binding treaty obligations embodied in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • The importance of making space for young voices and energies, including our own willingness to identify and mentor youth as they find their own voices and embark on their own paths of leadership and service.

In all security-related fields, there is still much work to be done to ensure fair and equal access to employment opportunities, political participation and institutional leadership for women, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and more.   The proverbial “faces in front of the camera” have changed significantly in recent years, but there is still a hill to climb.  We must climb it without delay.

For more information on WIIS-NY, click here.

For more information on CSW61, click here.

Connecting UN Issues and Thought Leaders Through Global Connections Television

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Global Action has been pleased to be interviwed by Global Connections Television’s host Bill Miller on more than one occasion.  While our conversations have largely focused on security and disarmament concerns — as our organizational name would suggest — Bill has encouraged us to weigh in on related issues such as gender-based violence and the protection of civilians by UN peacekeeping forces.

Bill’s audience, now numbering in the millions, is attracted by the range of progressive issues which he investigates and promotes, but even more by the quality and prominence of his guests. A review of the GCTV website reveals an extraordinary array of senior UN officials, heads of member state governments, NGO leaders, business executives, and community leaders — all of whom help to make the UN what it is and also help it to become what it is yet not.

We are honored to be able to make our own contribution to GCTV and its splendid roster of diplomats and issue experts making a difference in the world, and more specifically making a difference through the United Nations. We hope to do more with Bill and his network in the coming years.

For access to Dr. Zuber’s November interview with Bill Miller, click here.


Spotlight on Sustainable Development

agenda-2030_engl_titel_smallAs many of our friends and affiliates know, Global Action’s lens on peace and security has broadened over the years, moving beyond weapons to what many diplomats at the UN refer to as the “root causes” of conflict — from persistent poverty and habitat loss to climate impacts and discrimination based on ethnicity, gender and religion.   Security question permeate (or should) much of what the UN does, including the provision of humanitarian assistance, the health of our oceans, the political enfranchisement of youth and the protection of children in conflict zones.

Together with NGO partners organized by Global Policy Forum, we contributed our lens to a recently-released volume, “Spotlight on Sustainable Development,” which looks at all the Sustainable Development Goals, their means of implementation (including funding) and obstacles to their full and equitable achievement.  As described by the “Spotlight” editors:

Independent monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its structural obstacles and challenges are key factors for the success of the SDGs. It is for this reason that the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development together with other civil society organizations and networks has produced the first annual Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the structural obstacles in its realization. The report puts a spotlight on the fulfillment of the 17 goals, with a particular focus on inequalities, responsibility of the rich and powerful, means of implementation and systemic issues.

Global Action was responsible for commentary on Goal 16, “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.”  While this goal and its targets are anything but weapons-obsessed, there is recognition that the volume of weapons in circulation, licit and illicit, poses a grave challenge to sustainable development priorities.  Moreover, Goal 16 targets devoted to ensuring respect for the rule of law, ending government corruption and promoting full public participation and access are all in keeping with our security objectives.

This is not our first project seeking to link peace and security concerns to the many other aspects and activities now on the UN agenda.  It will not be the last.  “Connecting dots” remains an important component of our mission here in New York and with diverse global partners, and that mission is only likely to grow in importance.

For more information on Sustainable Development Goal 16 and its targets, click here.

For access to the full Spotlight report as well as individual chapters, click here.

Refugee Integration for Sustainable Peace

cadets1As many readers of this space are aware, Global Action has long taken an interest in mentoring women (and men) interested in careers in international security.

That interest has resulted in some satisfying partnerships, including with the New York and West Coast (US) Chapters of Women and International Security.   In addition, we have been privileged to welcome cadets from West Point as interns and in conjunction with graduation projects that help them extend their military training to some of the more difficult challenges we face as a society.

Earlier this spring, Cadets Binkowski, Murphy (not pictured) and Sampson came to our office to talk about the problem of integrating refugees into US communities. What are the common pitfalls?  Where are the successful integration models?   What can the military do (if anything) to help ease transitions, reassure the wary and prepare communities to receive their newest members?

All three cadets, under the guidance of Colonel Diane Ryan, have had extensive training in psychology and social relations.   Their display (pictured above) offered several important recommendations for how to integrate newcomers who have faced violence and other challenges in a way that promotes, rather than undermines, stable and peaceful communities.   Perhaps their best recommendation was the simplest — ensure adequate time for dialogue to enhance preparation and “ownership” by host communities.   The better prepared communities are to receive refugees, the smoother the transition is likely to be.

Exploring New Trends in Peacekeeping and Atrocity Prevention with BGIA

bgia-atrocity-preventionAs part of our ongoing collaboration with the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program, GAPW recently organized a discussion forum for BGIA students and alumni. The event focused on issues raised in our new publication from Springer, “Perspectives on Peacekeeping and Atrocity Prevention: Expanding Stakeholders and Regional Arrangements,” featuring an introduction by UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng.

The BGIA discussion was highlighted by presentations from Dr. Trudy Fraser and Melina Lito, Esq., both of whom contributed fine articles to the Springer collection.   Dr. Fraser, who also served as principle editor, gave an overview of recent controversial shifts in coercive mandates for UN peacekeepers, while Ms. Lito focused on the critically significant matter of increasing accountability for abuses committed by peacekeepers and other UN personnel.

We have other launch plans for this book in 2016, including in Brazil and the UK, but we were especially pleased to hold this initial discussion at BGIA.  Under the direction of James Ketterer and Rachel Meyer, BGIA has created an innovative learning experience that is attracting attention worldwide.   Internships are an integral part of the BGIA experience and we have been fortunate to have had three BGIA interns over the past year.   Our expectation is that we will be able to welcome many more.

For more information on the BGIA program, click here.

For access to the Springer collection, click here.

Swords into Ploughshares: The Peace Angel Project

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December 2015

One of our very favorite art concepts is Lin Evola’s Peace Angel Project.   Lin and her work are long known to Global Action. In fact, her art adorns some issues of the Arms Trade Treaty Monitor that we produced in 2012 and 2013 in association with Reaching Critical Will.

Among its many extraordinary features is the premise of the art and its chosen materials:  The project serves as a reminder of the worldwide epidemic of violence and our responsibility to create a better world by using the melted down stainless core of decommissioned missiles and other weapons to create powerful images of peace and unity.

Lin’s work is now being featured in a show entitled “World on Fire” at Studio Vendome in New York City where we were honored to be present for her opening. “As our world continues to be faced with horrific acts against humanity, the Peace Angel Project mission has never been more important,” said Evola. “As we move into the holiday season, it is my hope that this artwork will serve as an inspiration to tap into the best of the human condition, by rising above violence and standing for peace.”

We know that Lin will have many more opporunities to share her stunning art and, surely as important, the deep messages of peace that her works embody. We hope to be with her every step of the way.

For more about Lin’s Studio Vendome exhibit, click here.

Ensuring Appropriate Security in the Forthcoming Global Development Agenda

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GAPW was pleased to collaborate with Instituto Mora in Mexico City and a number of regional and international experts to produce a volume that seeks to examine and assess how security arrangements at national and international levels impact prospects for sustainable development.

This volume offers a variety of perspectives and regional analyses on the many links ­between security and development, with texts by UN policy professionals, academics, and implementation specialists who have contributed ideas on how to create more peaceful, inclusive societies in support of the robust, post-2015 sustainable development framework soon to be adopted at the United Nations.

Around the world, ­illicit and trafficked weapons are jeopardizing community and national development, and perhaps nowhere more so than in Mexico and Central America. Despite improvements in government transparency and respect for human rights, new regional security and judicial arrangements, and hightened attention to security issues at the UN at a time when post-2015 goals are ­soon to be adopted, weapons and related security challenges — including trafficking in narcotics and the persistence of “femicide” — continue to undermine hope for development in the Central American region.

Sustainable Development Goals Post-2015: Ensuring a Security Development Linkage in the Forthcoming Global Agenda, addresses a number of fundamental questions: How should security be pursued in the post-2015 ­agenda? To what extent do UN member states understand their responsibilities with respect to Goal 16, the so-called “peace goal?”  What is missing from current discussions regarding what we see as an essential security -development nexus?

We are currently working on book launch events for fall 2015 in New York and Mexico City.  We also plan to take the book and its analyses to El Salvador which is enduring a particularly painful period of gang and street-level violence that threatens to completely undermine development progress and prospects in that country.

For more information about the book, please click here.

For more information on Instituto Mora, click here.

For a list of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Targets to be adopted by global leaders in September, click here.

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