Saturday, March 31, 2012

The people decide what style of government to have, not the international community

With each step we take in the pursuit of peace we are to learn. The past one hundred years we have been fixated on the attachment of peace, freedom and democracy. With each situation that I have either been involved or aware of, I have slowly come to realize that peace and freedom are not always teamed with democracy.
The vision of democracy being one person one vote, elected government, responsible representation, and people governing themselves are all valid points. However, we have learned from the RUSA through the years 2000 – 2008 that a democracy can also be tyrannical. We also see that only 35% of the population actually votes. We also know that few people in the RUSA feel they are the government.  This great beacon of hope is proving to be false and we have to rebuild the mindset as to what peace and freedom really are.
There is a saying which states “no government acts without the will of the people”. This is very true. Without the will of the people no government will last. Therefore no matter what style of government, the people have to agree.
There are terms of brutality that occur when governments abuse power such as the case with the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, military rule in Burma. In both cases the will of the people had been crushed due to violence and fear. Such situations are realities we work to see an end of. It is through the will of the people that we seek an end to such realities.
The will of the people to govern themselves is not conditional to democracy, it is a basic human desire. As we look back into the history of indigenous governance here in Canada, there is evidence of democratic rule for thousands of years. These governance systems are now being recognized as the spark for all democratic models used today.
As we seek to resolve violent conflicts in the world we have to let go of the quick jump to democracy. Instead we need to focus on the peaceful order of day to day life.  The common push for democracy may actually stifle the ingenuity to develop a new system of governance. We must understand that the people will choose their own system of governance.
As the transition takes place there will be a need for order. Although we all wish for the benevolent dictator is such circumstances, none has come forth. We are left with the use of a similar system to the now defunct United Nations Trustee Council. This Council was to oversee the transitional governance of a state while it worked out the details of how governance was to take place.
The priority of any peaceful transition is first to end the violence and ensure order is maintained. After that is accomplished the people will engaged in negotiatied governace. This process will decide how the people want to govern themselves.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Did Gadhafi provide greater stability in West Africa?

Would a peaceful transfer of power in Libya have provided greater stability in West Africa?
We know that the out flow of weapons from Libya has armed many groups. These groups have used the weapons to bring more instability to many West African countries.  It must be understood that the weapons are not the cause of the unrest. The unrest is already there, yet the flood of weapons have increased the occurrence of violence in the region.
Peace, as does violence begins in the minds of people. When we are dealing with nomadic populations, we must look to the regional stability of peace. We must gather a sense of what the regional impact will when a central figure, such as Gadhafi, is lost.
We have to be cognizant of the power vacuum created and plan to fill that vacuum.  In the past few months we have witnessed (yet have not taken to heart) the need to put peacekeepers on the ground.
Libya is slowly slipping backwards because NATO countries left a power vacuum when they did not put soldiers on the ground. These soldiers did not have to engage in combat but would have been used to ensure the peace. We know that in order to maintain peace you need to put a force on the ground to step between the groups fighting. 
Syria is in the same situation. There is a strong need for intervention. Already there is intervention with the flow of weapons into Syria and the training of opposition soldiers. Why is the international community not using that effort for peaceful means? Instead of purchasing weapons and producing more soldiers which prolongs the violence, use those resources to build a ceasefire agreement and begin the dialogue process.
In the case of Libya, the lack of sector security reform is directly linked to the upheaval in Mali. We have known for decades that the armed forces in Libya were populated by the Tuareg nomadic forces responsible for many conflicts in West Africa.  These forces were not contained or even disarmed. Now we have a peaceful country Mali in upheaval.
The person in charge of the coup in Mali is Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo. He has stated very similar messages that have been spoken by others before him. The similarities are easy to see in comparison with Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, the Guinean junta leader who took power in Guinea during 2008. Guinea is still embroiled in political uncertainty. Mali is facing a similar future.
It is often a difficult situation to speak of peace when you know the current situation is not good but the options indicate a worse situation. At the time of Gadhafi there was little support for his remaining in power. Even if a person did speak of such they were quickly denounced as supporting crimes against humanity. With the evidence today, the spread of violence in West Africa since Gadhafi fell is there. Sadly this is a moment when a person asks, “Is it better now with Libya sliding into civil unrest, armed groups that thrive on instability have more weapons, governments being toppled, and regional peace again is taken a step backwards?”
This is the very question why Syria is of such importance. Taking the current power structure will leave a vacuum only to be replaced by another less stable group. No one is saying that the current power structure is a positive long term solution. Everyone is pointing to the need for change in leadership. The people want to have more opportunities for communication and political involvement. Those that know how difficult peace is to maintain lament the loss of every life. Due to that it is difficult to accept the killing of another to gain power. Unfortunately we live in a world that believes might is right. Even when we speak to the wisdom of open communication, governance for the protection of people and obeying the rule of law, when bullets fly, chaos rules and people die.

The question of greater stability is a speculative question. All we know is that there is an increase of weapons flowing around West African now. As I stated before the unrest was always there, the weapons made it more visible. Gadhafi was a brutal leader no doubt, however a peaceful Libya maintained peace in West Africa. With the unrest in Libya, the weapons were free to anyone that wanted them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When is it okay to use child labour/soldiers?

Child soldiers and child labour are two issues that the world will stand up and say “these situations need to stop”. I agree with that 90%. Why 90%?
The child labour issue is easily defended. When a child has no family and the government has no support network one way to survive is to work. I have seen many children aged 12 working in construction, restaurants, farming, retail, healthcare and transportation so they can earn a living. These children are often the only sources of income for the family.
Next point is the family that owns a business and the children help out, learn how the business operates, grow food or run errands. In this situation children are rarely seen as employee, however the reality is they are. Families rely on the children to help out. Often there is not enough money to hire employees yet the help is needed.
Next we have the use of children that do advocacy work. Every organization understands that using children in advertising campaigns will increase the amount of money raised. UNICEF has stopped using children in one of its most successful fundraising campaigns during Halloween due to this very issue, as well as a safety concern.
Those above examples are the areas that make the issue of child labour defendable. In those situations the child is not being harmed. Also in most cases the child is being educated and the child asks to be included. This is the line which is to be drawn in favour of child labour.
Now for the more difficult situation to defend, child soldiers. There should never be an active campaign to entice children into military service. Nor should a child be used in active combat situations. The use of children in military situations is one that I would agree 100% to stop. However when an entire city is under siege it is almost impossible not to have children involved. The situation that I am thinking about is when a family/community is living within an active combat area.
Again I have worked with a great many children that decided themselves to join the military. Also there are the situations where children live within an area that experiences active combat for months or years. During these situations children live within the war zones. An example is the use of children to carry messages, ammunition, first aid, food and other items. This was common for children during World War Two when cities in Poland, Russia, England, Belgium, France, Norway and Germany experienced heavy fighting. The use of children in military operations was often used during espionage tactic as messengers as well.
In such cases the use of children in military support roles came out of necessity. The need comes about due to the fact that an entire population/area is at risk. When this situation occurs everyday life takes place in an active combat area. Often it is only a child that can move about safely. The only reason that the use of children in military service can be supported is in the face of certain death. Below is an account of such a situation
The remarkable story of Johnny and Luther Htoo, the thirteen-year-old twins who between 1999 and 2001 led a band of Karen rebels called God's Army against the government of Myanmar, shows how children can become willing participants in armed conflict.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Coup in Mali

A few months ago the world had watched as the armed Touareg moved from Libya and spread into Mali. With the Touareg waging war in Mali for past three months, peace has been torn apart. Having this armed group enter Mali was trouble enough.
The national army of Mali was fighting these intruders only to have sections of its own force turn against the government of Mali.  This treason was due to the fact that the Mali government was blamed for not doing enough to fight the Touareg.  Not sure how that logic works. Never the less we have to deal with a situation of unknown chaos for the time being. This is such a loss because Mali was on its way to a peaceful transition of power and stability.
How can we see this as a positive? First of all we have to understand that this is clearly an outside invading force.  Next we have to understand what the leader of the coup wants. Once we have that we can build the bridges of peace. Peace was known in Mali and it can return very quickly. Another point I see is the strengthening of the African Union.
The situation in Mali is one where the African Union can take a leadership role as peacekeepers, peace brokers, and transitional government oversight. Even as these positives are known, we have to accept that the leader of the coup may not leave peacefully. This situation may take a very long time. How long it takes depends on the current leadership that has forced Mali into this situation.
What are the options for peace? For whatever reason, the leader of the coup saw the need to overthrow the current government rather than fight the invaders.  This reality will be a challenge to most options for regaining peace. No matter what course is taken there has to be discussion on how to regain the peace. Somehow the chaos of violence needs to end and the legitimacy of the government has to be returned as well.
With the reality of the situation the United Nations Security Council needs to sanction all weapons trade with the country. The borders, mostly in the north have to be strengthened. With the assistance of the African Union and the United Nations Security Council
Should the people protest in massive rallies?  I would have to say that such a tactic would be met with force. Although it is a sad reality I do think the people need to protest such an action even though a protest will be violently put down by the current coup leadership.
Let us work to see a return of peace in this country.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Choice, freedom and governance

Choice and being able to make choices are fundamental for freedom. By no means does that freedom have to be wrapped in a democratic style of governance. However we have come to link the two as if one can not live without the other. With all the revolutions in the Middle East we are living through a time where freedom of choice is being expressed by the people. Often these people live in Autocratic societies.
Now, as an outsider, I know that I should have no say in how these people choose to be governed, that is up to them. When I hear leaders (as has Canada’s leader) call for regime change, I feel the bullet of oppression rip through the right to self-determination. I am all for ending the violence in these revolutionized countries but I do not want to support war mongering or anything else that will cause more bloodshed. Furthermore I do not want to force a system of government on anyone.
In Syria we have many countries flapping their mouths off about regime change. These same countries are providing support as well in the form of weapons and training. What is really surprising is that the support is given to opposition forces that have very little support amongst the people within Syria. By supporting these opposition forces we are supporting a group that represents a minority seeking power and using force to get that power. This is the very thing the revolution sought to end in the first place.
Over the course of events in Syria I have sided with the plan in which Russia and China have always stated. That being a coalition of leaders meeting with the Syrian government to hammer out a peace plan. Doing this will ensure sovereignty, legitimacy and hopefully a quicker agreement to a ceasefire agreement. At the outset the other three permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have fought those plans, which in the meantime more people of been killed. Somehow the popular perception has it that Russian and China are the ones that have been blocking peace efforts. The fact is opposite.
The people of Syria need to be given the chance to exercise their will to run their own country. That is their right and their freedom. If they want to be ruled by a monarchy or dictator so be it. What ever format they choose to make that choice we must support. Now of course the international community has to abide by international law and human rights. So we can not support a system that selects a leader by shooting each other.
Now to throw even more mud into the mix. The international community may be ethically bound to stop  violent conflicts, legally there are no grounds to do so unless such violence spills into neighbouring countries. This has not happened in Syria. However there are forces outside of Syria going in.
In Syria, the path to peace is to support the people of Syria. That path is through the existing government and a ceasefire agreement with all opposition forces. This is the support in which the international community has always been asked to provide: The support of the current government to uphold the current laws and constitution of the sovereign state.  With that the international community has limited that support if a government is actively killing its own people such as genocides. In such a case regime change is deemed necessary.

In conclusion, the international community must support the people in its right to choose the system and the leadership of their own country. Those rights must be protected up to the point where the system used threatens regional peace or threatens an unequal section of the population (what ever that is).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Neutrality in revolutions for the member states of United Nations

Dealing with war and violent conflict, as you know is no easy task. One reason for dealing with such situations rests in a personal connection to what is taking place. Perhaps you believe that one side has acted unjustly and should be punished. There is the possibility that you have a financial stake in the matter or some other interest. Whatever the reason, often we take sides in disputes. Taking sides is exactly what the world community is not supposed to do.
The chief concern for the world community is the safety and well being of the people. However we are not perfect and that neutrality is lost on many occasions. The neutrality of the world would be a great force if it were allowed to take hold. There is only one organization that holds neutrality as a top priority and that is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). They have done so to a point where this neutrality has angered many. However, neutrality is what is needed to get most jobs done.
To be fair, I would have to say that the neutrality ends with acts that go against humanitarian laws. In the cases of Syria, Libya, Israel, Yemen, Afghanistan or any other violent conflict area the need to support the rule of law is starting point of any peacebuilding action. I do not see a Peacekeeping force as a threat to sovereignty but as a system to build up sovereignty. That is just me and what my interpretation of the United Nations Charter states.
Situations such as we have in many countries due to the Jasmine Revolution are perfect examples of where the international community can and should be a positive factor. However, in most cases the international community has rarely been a positive influence. Libya has been left twisting in the wind and everywhere else there is a huge fight about what to do.
Fighting about what to do while people are dying is a horrible situation to be in, even though I understand situations can always be worse. Being neutral is the only option in such situations. We have wasted a great deal of time by not talking with the governments of these countries. These talks need to be had to ensure that peace and order are maintained.
The infighting of the United Nations Security Council is as disgusting as any I have witnessed in the past ten years. I am deeply saddened by the actions of the member states who are abusing the system which ultimately tarnishes the United Nations. The United Nations can only do what the member states allow to be done.
At the moment the member states of the United Nations are too busy taking sides, asking for regime change, arming opposition forces, seeing what their best interests are and making sure not to get deeply involved.  When all they are supposed to do is be nuetral, stay out of the politics and just take care of the security and humanitarian side of things.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Differences in the world

Of late I have been reading stories that are asking why revolutions in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Libya have all taken different courses.
Here are my reasons:
Each country has its own choice to deal with situations as they see fit
Each country has a different level of international attention on it
Each country is experiencing the same course just at different speeds

The third one on the list is half way to disagreement with what I have been reading. I really do not see an overarching difference in any of the revolutions. I see people standing up asking for changes and those people being ignored or shot for doing so.

Now jump on me for being too simplistic, while I jump all over you for being too complicated. This is the exact same thing that is going on with these revolutions. You say one thing I say another and then we decide to either solve the issue by trying to kill each other or work together on common ground to build a peaceful solution.  These are the choices – always present. Let us not forget that there is the element of insanity, which is the reason I give for the world being so complex in the first place. Even then the choice is still there to talk or shoot. Even shooting someone is a form of communication, albeit a one sided and dead end format.

These revolutions are a continuance of the conversation concerning the governance of society.  Any exercise in governance is an exercise in communication to obtain a clear vision of what the people want and need. This exercise requires dedication, tenacity, flexibility, understanding and we all hope intelligence on part of the people entrusted to carry out the duty of governance.

What about the religious part? Well that is an easy one if you ask one simple question, is either religion rooted in the ideology of a peaceful, nonviolent society? If the answer to that is no, you best prepare for the violent fight to continue for the rest of time because thought can not die. From that question point on, things start to get more complex due to individual choices.

Just as I like to see the world as simple and others view it as complex, such a viewpoint is a personal choice. Perhaps you are not comfortable with that reality, you believe I should change and you work to change me, are you really seeking to help me or dealing with your own issue of being uncomfortable?

I know the world is complex but you do not start to clean up a warzone with tweezers. Every mess you clean up begins with the simple task of clearing the largest obstruction there is. In the theatre of war that is a ceasefire and disarmament. Pick a day and stop shooting, turn in your weapons allow the international community to police the agreement so the conversation can take place.

Yes it can be that simple, unless you like to live in the hell of chaos and war.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Communication, interpretation and war

War is a political discussion carried out through the use of violence.  War is said to be the last option so when war takes place that is what we have to believe. All other options were exhausted. The oddity of all this is that every war will end with a conversation. It will end when enough damage has been done that one side can see no logic in continuing.
Taking the above logic to its end is how we came to employ nuclear weapons, still we have war. So the argument for better weapons is quite moot, war will always be with us no matter what weapon is used. The other part of the logic for war is that conversation failed. To that I have to say that conversation can fail no more than a chair can ask a person to sit. Conversation is form of communication that you can use or not. For some they believe that conversation is useless and they begin to shoot.
That is the simplest route to define why wars, weapon build up, and violent conflicts happen. If this is going to change it can only change when everyone believes in a different logic.  EVERYONE.
A number of years ago there was a push for change in language structure called Giraffe language.  This language is deeply rooted in the profession of mediation. The theory is that if people begin to talk with less aggressive words the society will become less aggressive. To go further into that theory, the thought patterns of a person will seek less aggressive choices which in turn creates a less aggressive society. It is a theory and I am sure that this works for some people. I have not heard much about Giraffe language for about four years now.
For me, I applaud the effort because I am a person that has a mindset geared towards “try everything and anything”. Even then you do not shoot unless fired upon, Chapter 6.5 version of the United Nations Charter. It does not exist in the actual UN Charter so if you go reading your copy it is not there. The 6.5 version comes into interpretation of the Charter, how we perceive language.
Within the wording of Chapters6 and 7 are the two steps for use of force by a United Nations Force. Chapter 6 relates to the use of all means to talk with both sides. Chapter 7 relates to all other means including the use force. The making of Chapter 6.5 came in to effect through the rules of engagement take, do not fire unless fired upon.
It was common knowledge that a UN force was not allowed to fire unless they were fired on specifically. What this translated into was that if you were a UN forces member protecting an area or a person and that area or person was shoot; you (the UN forces member) were not actually fired upon, therefor you could not return fire. This ideology changed during the Bosnian War. The logic shifted to include the area and the people in which the UN forces protect.
That is a very important piece of history as much as it is a very important lesson in language interpretation. One of the main reasons war even takes place is due to a lack of skill in language interpretation and communication. The other reason is insanity and logic is almost lost in that chaos of distortion.
Here we sit with Syria going to hell and the world body that is supposed to be in charge of keeping things peaceful, have been fighting wars against themselves since day one. Right now we are barely applying Chapter 6. The Permanent Five members have been at odds with what to do. With two different approaches being offered neither side wants to give in to the other because of, get ready IMAGE. That is right each side is protecting their own image. This stalemate that has been going on for a year now is a public relations war. Each side is doing their best to make the other side look as bad as possible while making themselves look the better. All the while people are being killed by the hundreds.
This is a communication war, as most are. Neither side will give in until enough are dead and the situation gets to such a point where options are down to the last. All because of poor communication with a tinge of insanity, maybe it is the other way around?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

peace will return in Syria

Peace is best achieved through daily attention and regular work. When a situation gets to a point of chaos, the effort to get back to where peace was lost is even greater. In Syria the areas that are in chaos need to understand that peace is now on both the government and the peoples shoulders.
To get back to how society was a year ago, a ceasefire agreement must be produced. Such a thing can not take place without the two sides talking. Since the current government of Syria has stated they will not hold talks with the opposition forces, an option is Shuttle Diplomacy. This is what the United Nations Envoy is there to do so he best get on with it.
Pick a date to work towards implementing the ceasefire agreement. As that date draws near there must be a communication campaign that will keep the transition period as open as possible. People have to know what to expect when the guns stop. For those that have not experienced a ceasefire transition, the silence is very unnerving yet calming at the same time.
Protests and chaos will take place. However the need for order is an absolute. This has to be planned out and executed with as much perfection as possible. The right people must be used to bring order and it certainly can not be government forces, unless you want the ceasefire agreement to get cancelled. One option is the use of the Observer Forces and this must be a part of the ceasefire agreement.
As the days pass and the ceasefire agreement holds, the international aid organizations can go in do the assessments and write the policy options. The people in the conflict areas need to be tasked with cleaning up the mess, this will keep them occupied while the ceasefire is held. Also it provides a spark that the conflict is improving.
There are elements that must be held in check and these are the desire to finger point, claim victory and fall into the trap of blame. What needs to take root is the peaceful understanding that everyone is to blame, there is no victory in war and the finger can only point back into your own eye.
Government forces need to pull as far back as possible. If any force is needed it must be an unarmed force. Also the weapons that are held by opposition forces must be checked and cleared. There will be less chance of breaking the ceasefire agreement if the weapons are not there.  A ceasefire agreement is a very unstable situation and often they are broken due to carelessness. Someone has to fire a shot first and that person has to be kept in mind concerning how fragile the situation is.
One last item that needs to be understood, peace does not take orders from a clock. We can set timelines but these must be flexible to allow for conditions to be ripe for success.
Syria is in a very difficult spot but with some assistance, peace will return.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Joseph Kony

The hype over this guy is as wild as he is.

Joseph Kony was in fact ready to lay down his weapons in 2001. He attended the Juba Peace Process and was ready to sign. Joseph Kony found out that the Ugandan President was bluffing and was actually going to capture and kill him. That brings us to where we are are today.

Joseph Kony was not an unknown person. If people actually wanted to know about him all they had to do was search Ugandan war on the internet in 1998 and his name would have come up in the literature. The media can only put information out there, the people have to read it.

Besides, you think Kony is bad? How many are dead in Iraq since 2001 due to that illegal act? No one going to jail for those crimes against humanity now is there?

Another reality is that Joseph Kony does not create chaos, he feeds on it. The area in which he operates are lawless, corruption filled and of little concern to the outside world. In truth he exists because the international community really does not care. If the international community cared, Joseph Kony would have been in jail or at least disarmed in 2001.

Of course he needs to be stopped because he is still running around killing people. This recent media attention will do nothing to end his rampage, sorry to say. This may shock you but the government soldiers of Uganda are also guilty of using the same tactics as Kony. Want more shocking information, Joseph Kony has legal representation that is in contact with him. The problem is no one has offered him a price worth taking to stop.

Joseph Kony realized in 2001 that his cause was over. He may live out his life in the brutal fashion that he has lived for the past twenty or so years. However, his area of operation is slowly deminishing, his army is growing smaller as he grows older and like everyone else, he will die someday.

If you have ever been in the part of the world the Kony operates in you would know how difficult an area it is to find anyone. It is even more difficult given the number of armed groups that live in that area. All three countries are currently in chaos, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries has armed groups traveling around in cars, trucks, on bicylces and on foot.

Now add the fact the Ugandan government is better served by having Kony alive. The moment Kony is dead the international aid will vanish over night. This is tens of millions of dollars gone from the national economy. Just in the past four months the United Nations has pulled funding out of Uganda because Joseph Kony is no longer a threat.

However, the real need in Uganda is infrastructe building. Roads, railway, hydro-electric dams, sanitation and sewer systems, power grids, water supply and the never ending health,education, governing issues all need to be improved/created/built.

That is the world we live in. Crazy as it seems.

Cut and Run in Syria, It will happen.

Having been in the hell of chaos, peace seems to be an easier way forward than war. But that is just my stupid opinion. The sad reality is some people will only adhere to violence. For a peaceful society to have longevity there must be a concerted effort on the part of every individual and the international community. No country can hold its own borders without the respect of peace. It is an absolute fact that Canada is peaceful because other countries around the world respect the sovereignty of Canada. This respect is true of every other peaceful country in the world.
At this very moment arming opposition forces in Syria is a focus of discussion within a certain group. These talks are with out a doubt an effort in conspiring to commit an illegal act. Syria is a sovereign country and any talks about arming the opposition is contrary to international law. Basically it is illegal to bring weapons into another country without consent from that government.
What if weapons are supplied? Well here are the examples of that exact situation and the exact outcome we can all expect. The international community has left Libya twisting in the breeze, has happened in Iraq, is happening in Afghanistan. Want more examples of weapon supplies, Vietnam, Sudan, El Salvador, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, DR Congo, Pakistan and many other places.
Ten years ago there was a common statement made very popular, “We will not cut and run.” Well in almost every example given above that is exactly what has happened. Each of the above examples are still dealing with the impacts of violent conflicts. Each has shared the front pages of the newspapers around the world crying for help to stop the war. These wars are still going on. The international community has “cut and run”.
In Libya, the situation is almost back to where it started. Armed groups are threatening to use violence, the governing authority has replied that any violence will be countered with violence. So begins the swirling cesspool of chaos. Perhaps more weapons will solve this problem too?
In Syria, if the group that is discussing the tactic of arming the opposition, actually does that very thing, we can expect the same situation of “cut and run” as is taking place in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. The way through the quagmire of Syria is to take the path which China and Russia have requested and voted down by the “Friends of Syria”.
That path is a high level meeting with the current government, secure the border from any weapons getting in, negotiate the use of aid organizations, continue with the political reforms that were supported in the 26 Feb referendum and allow the United Nations Observer Force in.  Finally the largest and most unlikely point that should be enforced – fire the entire Permanent Five Members of the United Nations Security Council.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

South West Asian political region

As with any situation of peacebuilding, the regional reality must be taken into consideration. Regional stability is as important as the stability in any given country. Such an argument is clearly rooted in a theory known as the “domino theory”. Basically this theory points out that if one country falls into chaos it is likely that the surrounding countries are likely to fall as well. The reverse is also possible, if a country takes a firm grasp of peace the surrounding countries are more likely to become peaceful as well. Of course there are many factors, one being size. A small country of a few million people would not have much impact on a large country that has a population in the hundreds of millions, for example North Korea and China.
One such example where neighbouring countries are very similar and can influence each other are the countries of South Western Asia. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran are the most notable in this political region. The others are .
Each of those countries are experiencing a society that has endured violent conflict in the past twenty years. This experience has impacted the region to a point where it is difficult to say that it is a peaceful region. Further to that each country has a population that have been nomadic throughout history so they have a deep history of shared culture and trade.
At first though there is usually a thought that this region has been at war for hundreds of years. However that is an outsider looking in. Being a nomadic people they would have had regular contact with other cultures. Given the fact that many cultures exist, cooperation and peaceful relations must have been the norm.  However the nomadic culture is a difficult one to bring into a society such as the modern world sees society.
This region is one where a governing system needs to be invented. I am not sure we have a system in place that will adequately deal with the cultural needs of these people. To me this is a very positive element for peace because only the people of this region can say what governing system they want.
The British tried to implement a system in this region as did Russia try. Now the United Nations along with a great many peacebuilding organizations have offices and programs throughout the region. Within Afghanistan, a consortium of countries are trying to build a system.
 The one area that the world can assist this region is with economic relations. Most of the political governance needs to be left up to the people. I think that this understanding is just now sinking in after more than a century of poorly executed military efforts.

Unified Ideology for peacebuilding

For a number of years there has been an approach to peacebuilding named the Whole (All) of Government Approach or the Three D Approach, the three D’s being Disarm, Development and Diplomacy. These approaches look to a concert of programs to rebuild society through a unified focus in tandem with each other. This Whole (All) of Government approach is very similar to the United Nations Trusteeship Council ideology that has been scrapped by the world, just a different name.
These approaches look at every issue possible and set out to work on each with a unified voice. This is the reason that there is a United Nations effort titled Office of Coordinated Humanitarian Affairs. After some years it became clear that rebuilding society needs to have such a focus. For example, you can quickly understand what would happen if thousands of people returned to a city without government, police, schools, jobs, hospitals etc. Mix in the return of the soldiers/fighters if they have no job, schooling, prospects or opportunities. It is very clear that chaos will soon take over.
This Whole (All) of Government understanding has been a major focus of peacebuilding efforts for the past 15 years. To help this approach many governments around the world have come to realize that the private sector needs to be involved in peacebuilding as well. This is a very grey area of the task because it can quickly lead to bribery and corruption. However the need for employment can not be ignored.
The economy is not the top priority in peacebuilding, it is in the top five though. Stopping the violence is the top priority, which is the first D of the Three D Approach. The second D, Development relates to rebuilding of schools, hospitals and other institutions/infrastructures of a functioning society. As these are built society will begin to take shape and the economy/employment will become the main issue.
What is a very difficult thing for most people to understand is that the economy is truly in the hands of the people. A government has influence on the economy but it has very little control outside of regulating, monitoring and providing limited support. There are very few situations where the sole purpose of forming a society or a government is to make money. Is that why Uruguay, Lesotho, Kyrgyzstan exist, to make money?
The economy does take a large part of the attention because it is a system that can bring a unified focus and common goal setting ideology. The focus on the economy is huge because of this ideology, “ The pursuit of a job to make money to provide for a comfortable life, education, healthcare and ultimately a society that is peaceful”.
A strong economy is a stabilizing factor but without a peaceful society the economy will always be fragile. Therefore the peace in society needs to be the main focus and that is the responsibility of each individual. This responsibility is formulated in the last D of the Three D approach, Diplomacy.  Each person has to act in a diplomatic manner to ensure the peace is maintained.
Being diplomatic allows for difficult situations to be handled in a manner where everyone is treated equally and fairly. Diplomacy requires a large effort of everyone to be understanding, willing to learn, adapt, communicate to exchange ideas and progress.
Most peace efforts are now using this frame work to ensure a unified vision for everyone to follow.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Peace is slipping in Libya

The Libyan armed revolution was to be over when the former leader was killed. However in the past few months there have been reports of growing tribal aggression. We were aware that such a thing was possible. It is a common reality that such events happen. However, the cycle did not have to happen.
The upside is that Libya is not fully engulfed in another civil war –just yet. The reality of civil war is slowly marching to existence though. At this point we have a very disturbing question to ask, “At what cost will peace be made?” The payoff is usually in the form of political power.
I have written about the peaceful transition of power many times. One such topic is Negotiated Governance, this is exactly where Libya rests at the moment. They are negotiating how and who will govern the country. This negotiation can take place using words, elections and votes or the exchange of bullets. Either way the argument is going to take place. When all is lost the bullets will come to life.
There is still time to keep the guns silent and we have squandered much of that time in the past six months. Due to that it will take an even greater effort to communicate in peace with words to slow the anger and lower the weapons. We do know that the current tactics being used for the communication of a common goal in Libya is not effective.
At the moment we have very little time to draw up new plans. The best possible method is to increase the communication, power sharing and broaden the circle for discussion, planning and decision making. Let us not forget that Libya wants to have elections in June. The chances for a peaceful election under this current pressure is getting worse.
As I stated before the international community needs to severely boost aid in the targeted areas where violence is threatened. The focus of the aid needs to be an all out ceasefire agreement coupled with awareness/education programs, and a decentralisation of the governing power structure. Not an easy task. As crazy as this sounds, the people of Libya were calling for this very action back in December. We have wasted all that time.
As communication failures mount and groups voice their options to use violence the rhetoric also escalates. This sinking to the stupidity of violence can be averted if the will of the world is there to be wise. Too be honest though, I am not too optimistic that such wisdom will prevail.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Where to draw the line

Morals in society are portrayed in the form of laws. When ever the most controversial subjects are being discussed this question soon comes up, Where do you draw the line?

That question is often asked yet it always gets put into a societal/law realm. In realtiy this question can only be answered by the individual. For any over arching system such as government, where the line will be drawn is a question that will always change. – Here is why.

No matter what the issue of moral behaviour is being discussed, the time/era in which that debate takes place is the main contributor to the answer. In reality there was a time when government, law and order was not even a part of daily survival. Today there are a great many systems to advise us of how to behave. Laws, constitutions, religions, treaties, etc all have their impacts on how we should/do act.

Society has drawn lines on somethings for many years such as violence, theft and fraud. These three are held with contempt in just about every society we can think of. To go even further into the level of behaviour for society, we have the Declaration of Human Rights. So we have systems for the individual and for governments.

Going back the question of where to draw the line is a question that needs to be taken seriously yet at the same time every individual must take a ninety percent portion of responsibility for that answer. The government can not answer this question with out a strong and possible violent debate taking place in society. There fore the individual must answer that question themselves knowing what the current system will allow.

Debates on a great number of subjects are being held right now. There are factions that allow for exception. The laws and morals are held in respsect and truth and gauged by what we deem rational people. For the person that is not rational these morals and laws are augmented. Also we can think of the may ways a person must act in society and then go to work (professional soldier). In such circumstances the moral code and laws change.

For me the answer to, where do you draw the line, depending on what is going on around me, the line moves, at each moment that decision is to be made by me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Weapons trade

In every post conflict society the issue of weapons become a top priority. Even in peaceful countries weapons are a hot topic. A statement that is true and quite hilarious has been made that guns do not kill people, people kill people. Further to that argument, there have been points made that the genocide in Rwanda was carried out with machetes more than guns. The logic is similar in both statements that people kill people not weapons.
We can trace the logic of such statements around like a dog going after its tail. The odd time we will actually bite the tail, which will produce a yelp and then we look around to find out who bit us. Then of course we see the dam tail again and off we go chasing it. Think that is funny? This very situation has been going on for a long time, even as I write this.
In an earlier posting the topic concerned Viktor Bout. This man sold weapons to rebels and delivered aid the same places that were under attack by the rebels he armed. Viktor Bout was able to carry out his activities because the major powers saw him as useful.
Another example of the dog chasing its tail, when the Soviet Union went into transition the RUSA purchased 400 000 A-K 47s and shipped them to Colombia. These weapons went into the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The government of Colombia is being supported by the RUSA to fight the revolutionary forces. Basically the RUSA has armed both sides. The same situation was taking place in Chechnya where Russia was fighting against people being supplied with the same weapons.
In Syria there are reports that the defecting members of the military have taken large weapons caches that were supplied by Russia. Now a group of western countries want to supply weapons to the opposition forces as well. These opposition forces are known to include Al Qaeda soldiers. If the western countries supply weapons they will be giving weapons to the same group they are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
Now if you really want to get your mind in a twirl start digging in the subject of the Kashmir Region and Balochistan. This area is akin to a war of incest, supplied by just about every weapons producing country. Pakistan is fighting its own people, India, Afghanistan and has attacked everyone else in some manner. However, Pakistan is being supplied weapons to continue on fighting.
All of this is just nerve racking and frustrating to say the least. It gets even more crazy when the world tries to enact measures to control the weapons trade. The counties that are slowing the process are the ones supplying the weapons. This is like the police giving all criminals weapons and then having to go out and fight them.
The argument for supplying weapons rests in the fact that everyone has a right to protect themselves. But is it really a good idea to arm the village idiot and bully at the same time?

Monday, March 5, 2012

control the weapons or the mind?

Elections are an important part of a free society. When the people have trust in the system to choose who is going to be the leader, that feeling expands into everyday life of the people. Right now we have an election process taking place in Burma. This process is taking place after years of harsh political censorship and control.
The ability of a government to control the people in such a manner (as has happened in Burma), usually employs violence. As a country begins to come out of that situation of violence and fear there is still the threat of violence. Mainly the threat continues because the old power structure is still fighting. To decrease the violence there needs to be a concerted effort to eliminate the flow of weapons.
We are witnessing this flow of weapons in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and many other countries as well. The flow of weapons keeps the society destabilized and in fear. To combat the destabilization of society, disrupt the flow of weapons and bring peace is a multi-level task.
The problem is international in scope.  During July 2012, UN member states will meet to negotiate a legally binding international instrument governing the transfer of conventional arms: the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The problem is, will this stop the weapons trade?
The war in Sierra Leone and Liberia was fuelled by diamonds and timber. As the war became as savage as a war has ever been, the world took measures to end the trade in “blood diamonds”. The measure taken is known as the Kimberely Process. This process did stem the flow of diamonds for a time. What we have to realize is that the people engaged in trading diamonds for weapons are criminals.  They will continue to work outside of treaties and laws.
The concern is that we must know the Arms Trade Treaty will not end the illegal trade of weapons. Of course having these laws is better than not. The largest demon in all of this is the desire to grab power/control through the use of fear, violence and oppression. The quick demise of peace in Cote D’ivoire is another example in the use of fear, weapons and oppression.
The battle of human relations is the largest demon we have to tackle. All the weapons in the world will have no bearing if the people who own them have no desire to use them. However, we live in a world where insanity is present, people will kill for power and build weapons to instil fear.
The positive element rests in the balance of peace. Most of us are peaceful. We wish to trust each other and enjoy the many differences of the world. We enjoy the process of debate, the camaraderie of sport and the challenge of opposition. Elections are filled with such elements. Furthermore, All of these elements in society are positives. It stops to be positive when fear, violence and oppression are used to gain power and control over another and that is where war begins to be fought ultimately  in the mind.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

knowing who you are

Working with very messy situations, I often take a look at my own self. This very thing happened to me this weekend. As I was discussing the challenges and the causes of change, a friend of mine made a reference to a book.
The book title is “Being Human” and the author is Jean Vanier. Mr. Vanier has built an organization that focuses on people with all sorts of disabilities. Within this book on page 105 actually, he begins to talk about the separation of the self. This separation is also known as “the ego and the id”.
What this issue deals with is the difference between who you are and who you think you are. Along those lines we talked about Krishnamurti and his thoughts on “the observer and the observed”. Then our conversation moved into the duality of self, ego/id, observer/observed and who we are versus who we think we are. With that, we came to realize that we are being two people at once, thus the challenges and the causes of conflict. That is the primary challenge of every person alive and the goal is to ensure that the two become one.
There are a great many works produced concerning this topic. I recall reading psychology books on “the many masks of identity”. People talk about their work life, social life, family life, personal life and of course there is the love life. Mix in who you have been, who you are, who you will be and then add the reality versus the perception of all those.
All of these elements factor in when a person is building themselves. Can you be honest about who you are and how others understand you?
To be ironic here, my work in peace leads me to project the above onto countries. At this moment we can look at all the countries that are in transition. For example, Burma, the government there is taking a drastic course of change. Burma is going from a secluded, brutal situation to one where openness and peace are going to be ushered in.
There will be huge amounts of corruption as the transition takes place. Who ever takes the lead position will have to deal with scandals as the old guard will still fight for their “glory days”. This the reality and challenge of who you were versus who you are and who you want to be.
As I have written in the past, peace is very much a state of understanding, learning and knowing. As soon as you know a reality you have to let it go so that you can be free to expand your understanding. Then again I could just be insane.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Society and Systems

Reading past postings I have written is a common thing I do. It gives me a sense of continuity as well as stirring the existing thoughts I have. One of the thoughts deals with systems and society.
I am not all the attached to labelling systems of order. For example, democracy has taken on many descriptors such as one person one vote, capitalism, human rights, equality and others. Yet even in the countries that have democracy as a system they rig elections, tramp on human rights, and allow capitalism to eat the country to death. All with the objection of society. No matter what lable you put on a society, it has to function. The irony is that no system can exist unless the people are willing to apply it. With that understanding, ultimately every system is either agreed to or not by each person.
Every society is going through change,progressing, moving or what ever, it is part of being alive. Each country is an experiment of change and at the moment Russia is one of the most daring experiments of change we have the pleasure of witnessing. 
Russia is in the mix of building their system. The election is by all accounts won and Putin will be the next president. Of course there are concerns with the voting that took place within the Duma. Do to these concerns we can see where improvements have to be made to ensure the system is well protected. Welcome to the world of red tape and bureaucratic hurdles.
In reality all the red tape and bureaucracy will never stop corruption, it will only limit the incidents. As you think about this you have to realize that the major energy, cost and time is spent/wasted because of those we can not trust. That is the root of every reason why we even have or need laws, systems, religions, or structures of order.
In Russia, they are in the midst of developing their system as they see fit. In truth so is every other country in the world. To me the focus has been pointed in the wrong direction. There is no system that can not work, the problem is the people that apply it.  What I would like to point out is the reality of such systems that have a capitalist ideology.
Capitalism is rooted on growth, must grow or die. That is the ideology. Of late we have come to the understanding that a sustainable economy is the best way forward. Sustainability, in reality is producing  what you consume , it is very much a balance of equality. In my understanding the perfect balance is zero. Zero is a capitalist nightmare, but it is the perfect balance of sustainability.
As Russia goes about its progress in economics and politics their society will morph as well. These are their decisions as to what path to take. In pursuit of a strong economy, Putin has noted that he wants to build a strong economic block within Asia. Really that needs to happen as it did in North America, South America, West Africa, South Asian and Europe. Putin wishes also to work more within the BRIC countries. Building stronger working/scientific ties with the countries that ring the North Pole are in his plans as well.
Such times are very interesting. I just wish we could trust eachother to be peaceful.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The insanity of international relations

The insanity of international relations has no limits. For example, Israel has made it clear to the entire world that it would attack Iran giving 15 minutes warning. This is just nuts because under international law Iran is now justified in doing the very same act to Israel in self defense. This scenario is a perfect example of why words, diplomacy, trust and international relations are very important.
The consequence of either country initiating an attack is truly unknown. No one has a clue as to what would transpire under such circumstances, other than all hell breaking loose. Due to that unknown we must take every measure possible to ensure neither country pursues those tactics.
This region of the world has been a powder keg of turmoil for centuries and it appears nothing will change for the next century. However with the proper care and unity this region could be a paradise of peace. Alas, at some level that reality of peace is not seen or wanted.
The same situation has taken place with the RUSA openly supporting illegal arms smuggling into Syria. Just turn the tables around and ask yourself, “What it Syria openly supported the supply of weapons to an opposition group inside the RUSA?” Furthermore the current government of the RUSA has openly supported the call for war crimes against the Syrian President. However their own former President is not held to such a standard for the illegal invasion of Iraq causing more death than we will ever know.
We have basic international laws that must be obeyed. We can not pick and choose which laws to obey and which laws to ignore. Well actually we can because we do, but we should not do such things. A wise society would not tolerate such childish actions.
The use of threats, supplying weapons and interventions are not easy topics nor are they clear. Humanitarian aid and the protection of people can bring extremely difficult issues. For example, the world would have been justified in the act of breaking sovereignty in Cambodia during the leadership of Khmer Rouge. But the United Nations Security Council never allowed such action. Similar example is the lack of support for Rwanda when the world could have stopped that genocide but decided to ignore it.
We have systems in place to deal with almost any situation that comes our way. It is not the United Nations failing, the failure rests squarely upon the members of the United Nations. Even more direct, the permanent five members(P5), (Russia, Republic of the United States, United Kingdom, France and China)  have let the world down.
The P5 need to work together and condem any and all acts such as the one Israel has uttered. Such a threat to tell the world that you will attack another country is in no way helpful to maintaining peace. Urging Israel to stand down is not enough, they must be told of consequences other than Iran retaliation and further endless war, death and possible complete destruction. The same goes for the RUSA and their open support of arming oppostion in Syria.
I know the world is insane but do we have to act so stupid?