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


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


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.

UNITAR Workshop on the Protection of Civilians: Challenges in Meeting a Core UN Expectation


Global Action was honored recently to join a diverse group of UN stakeholders in a UNITAR-sponsored training for diplomats on the Protection of Civilians.

Global Action has long taken note of the many changes in policies governing UN peacekeeping operations.  Along with our Fellows and affiliates, we have offered caution regarding the trend towards more robust, coercive peacekeeping mandates – most containing the worthy objective of Protecting Civilians — that are insufficiently clear in their objectives, overload peacekeepers with responsibilities ranging from protecting UN country teams to rebuilding national judiciaries, and increasingly distort the last vestiges of peacekeeper neutrality.  As GAPW Fellow David Curran has noted often, peacekeepers face increasing dangers amidst complex deployments where there is simply “no peace to keep.”

There are other dangers to peacekeeping credibility, including the over-reliance on peacekeeping operations as a substitute for robust, preventive, diplomatic and development engagements. The UN’s annual ceremony in May honoring fallen peacekeepers is a particularly moving affair. However, the growing number of casualties cited underscores growing threats to peacekeepers placed in highly volatile contexts and asked to work wonders to protect both civilians and UN operations through an increasingly complex mix of coercive and non-coercive measures.

And then there is the growing concern that some of those entrusted with the task of protecting civilians from abuse are themselves guilty of abuse. We simply and completely must uphold the values we seek to protect. Most UN peacekeepers understand that abuse by some jeopardizes all members of UN country teams, puts all of UN operations at risk. The scandals emanating now from Central African Republic and the unresolved abuses in Darfur stain a larger area than that occupied by the perpetrators. If we fail to meet the POC expectations that we have ourselves established, people will needlessly suffer.  The reputation of the UN will needlessly suffer as well.

For a complete overview of the UNITAR workshop click here.

For a summary of Dr. Zuber’s remarks, click here.

Fresh Perspectives on Peacekeeping and Atrocity Prevention


Global Action has long taken note of the many changes affecting current policies governing UN peacekeeping operations.  Along with many of our Fellows and affiliates, we have often cautioned about more robust, coercive peacekeeping mandates that are insufficiently clear in their objectives, overload peacekeepers with responsibilities ranging from protecting UN country teams to rebuilding national judiciaries, and  increasingly distort the last vestiges of peacekeeper neutrality.  As co-editor David Curran notes in his own chapter, peacekeepers face increasing dangers amidst complex deployments where there is simply “no peace to keep.”

This volume, which includes an introduction by UN Undersecretary-General Adama Dieng, explores aspects of this new peacekeeping terrain, identifying both new stakeholders and emerging dangers.   One such danger is related to the over-reliance of peacekeeping operations as a substitute for robust, preventive, diplomatic and development capacities. The UN’s annual ceremony last month honoring fallen peacekeepers was a moving affair, but the growing number of casualties cited underscored growing threats to peacekeepers placed in highly volatile contexts and asked to work wonders through a complex mix of coercive and non-coercive measures.

While four editors are listed on the cover, completion of this book would not have been possible without our Peace and Security Fellow, Dr. Trudy Fraser.   Trudy, now a new mother, is also a skilled writer, analyst and editor.   More than anyone, Trudy shaped this text and helped us overcome editorial and logistical difficulties that almost always shadow projects of this sort.   The result is a volume that poses provocative questions, suggests new tools and stakeholders, and reminds policymakers that our primary task is to prevent violence rather than finding new and clever ways to respond to violence once it is already raging.

We believe that this volume (and its many recommendations to scholars and policymakers) will make a significant contribution to our understanding of new trends in peacekeeping operations and atrocity crime prevention, all while enhancing our prevention and protection responsibilities.

For more information on this volume, click here.

For more on the work of USG Dieng’s office, click here.

A Compelling Voice for the Prevention of Genocide Has Gone Silent

sheriMany of us in the Global Action family were deeply saddened by the loss on Friday, May 22 of Professor Sheri Rosenberg.  Sheri taught for many years at the Cardozo School of Law and was a mainstay in efforts around the United Nations to address threats of mass atrocities. She was also much revered by students in her Human Rights and Genocide Law Clinic, some of whom were fortunate to accompany her on trips to Rwanda and other areas impacted by mass violence.

Like many in our line of work, Sheri shared her gifts with others beyond the public glare.   Among those gifts were financial contributions she made to our office allowing us to bring interns and fellows to New York to participate in genocide prevention (and related) discussions and activities.

She was also a devoted mother to her children and worried often about how her evolving sickness would impact them.

Sheri opened the resources and facilities of Cardozo to scholars and practitioners alike. She had many collaborators, including GAPW, having allowed us to cooperate with her in publishing “Healing the Wounds: Speech, Identity and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond.”

Sheri deeply wished to cultivate a strong and identifiable voice to influence the structures and norms needed to effectively prevent genocide and other mass atrocities — to make a better world for her own children and, indeed, for children everywhere.

Mission accomplished, dear Sheri.

For more on her life’s work, click here.

A Shock for the Ages


The news from Nepal this weekend could hardly be more dire.   As aftershocks continue to buffer the regions around Katmandu, the remaining fine lines separating survival and death disappear for many.

For Global Action, there are many reasons to pause and mourn, including friends working in Nepal’s disarmament, development, health and religious sectors.   We have experienced large earthquakes elsewhere.   There is simply no way to prepare for devastation that seemingly comes out of nowhere and undermines what little remains of our confidence in a predictable world.

But even more, one of our board members and most trusted advisors, Christina Madden just returned from an extended visit to Nepal. Christina, who serves as Executive Director of Himalayan Health Care, had just concluded a long trek with medical personnel and others committed to the health and economic well-being of Nepal’s many underserved rural communities.   Her tales of hope from those places were compelling and inspiring.

Even before the full benefit of her experiences had sunk in, this shock for the ages.

Global Action will do what we can to support Himalayan Health Care in its efforts to leverage medical care and economic opportunity.  The needs now are on a scale that could never have been imagined just a few short days ago.

For more information on Himalayan Health Care, click here.

Respecting Indigenous Youth and Elders

tayub4The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues returned to the United Nations this week.   Under the leadership of Megan Davis of Australia (Chair) the Forumunpfii_logo examined its own working methods, issued calls for more state attention to the promotion of indigenous rights, urged creation of indicators to more effectively measure social and economic progress of indigenous peoples, and discussed strategies to address disturbing statistics regarding self-harm and suicide by indigenous youth.

In addition to the extraordinary sounds and color of offered by indigenous representatives, DSG Eliasson struck a high note,  highlighting the urgent need to promote “peace with nature” in line with indigenous teaching.  There were also calls from Guatemala and other states for more education and mental health resources for indigenous youth as well as efforts to address the discrimination, poverty and environmental degradation that contribute to increases in youth suicide.

As our own small contribution to this important process, we were honored to have in our office Tayub Uddin, a Rohingya human rights activist and Vice President of the Democracy and Human Rights Party in Myanmar.  While in New York, Tayub connected with government and civil society representatives regarding recent political and human rights developments in Myanmar ahead of next November’s general elections.  He was interviewed at length in our office by documentary filmmaker Krista Hund.

For the opening remarks by the Deputy Secretary General, HE Jan Eliasson, click here.
For the concept note on Youth, Self-Harm and Suicide, click here.
For more on Rohingya rights, click here.
For an analysis of important issues affecting Indigenous Peoples by the UN Secretariat, click here.

Linking Security and Development in the Post-2015 Agenda

webinar-600 On March 12, 2015 GAPW was joined by Ms. Maritza Chan of the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations and students and faculty of Instituto Mora in Mexico,DF for a webinar that explored the ways in which insecurity from illicit weapons, narcotics trafficking and an under-developed security sector threatens the full implementation of development priorities.

The webinar was the first in a series of events to promote “Linking Security and Development in the post-2015 Agenda,” soon to be released by Instituto Mora.  The book owes its existence to the steady guidance provided by Mora’s Dr. Lucatello Simone. With its blending of Latin American and outside authors, the book attempts to link policy communities committed to peacemaking on the one hand and those who will lead the implementation of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the other.

Among the book’s recommendations is the call for more policy attention on the preventive dimensions of the SDGs, including the prevention of pandemics such as Ebola, the restriction of flows on illicit weapons before they find their way into the hands of non-state actors or rogue elements, and preserving inclusive access to precious national resources before such resources become a pretext for violence. In these and other instances, more prevention and less reaction from policymakers to the many problems that inhibit development objectives would, the authors believe, be time well spent.

For more information on the webinar, including access to GAPW posts on current security and development issues, click here.

For more information on Instituto Mora, click here.

Examining the Diverse Roles of Media in Violent Conflict: INFOCORE

infocoreGlobal Action was pleased to join the dissemination team for a European Union funded project to examine “the different media roles in the cycle of conflict and peace building.”

While our own role in “Informing Conflict Prevention, Response and Resolution” ( INFOCORE) is modest, the project will provide important insights on how media outlets can exacerbate inclinations to violent conflict as well as assist in conflict prevention or in the reconciliation of former combatants and communities once conflict has ceased.  Given our broad access to UN agencies and diplomatic missions working on a wide range of conflict-related issues, as well as our own media-related efforts at UN headquarters, we believe that we are in a particularly good position to ensure that INFOCORE media-related recommendations will find their way into policy discussions addressing many forms of violence from local discrimination against migrants to the most horrific mass atrocities committed against entire populations.

In one form or other, media outlets cover these and many more instances of violence and abuse, sometimes in constructive ways, other times not.   Sorting out the norms and protocols for a more constructive role for media in violence prevention and reconciliation through comparative research and analysis is the welcome and highly-relevant objective of INFOCORE.

For more information on INFOCORE, please click here.

For access to GAPW’s report on the status of UN media, please click here.

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