Saturday, June 30, 2012

Governance: Priority One

When it comes to what is important in society an efficient, strong and trusting governance system tops the list. As long as the system works, people trust the system and have respect for the system the economics, legal and cultural frameworks can flourish.
We can look at the situation in Egypt. The revolution was about governance. Now there is a new leadership that is different from the military. Now the world can witness what difference is made with this new style. We also have the opportunity to watch Paraguay deal with the recent impeachment of its President. In both situations the people shouted for a government they can trust. There was no large cry for religious, economic or cultural change. Although each has its impact on the overall circumstances, the largest item of want is good governance.
On a smaller scale we can equate the family environment to a country. If the children are brought up in an environment that is violent and unstable, chances are the children will carry on that culture of violent instability. This is one of the root causes for many of the violent societies such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Each society that has collapsed, has taken its very own unique path. Even though the broad scope of peace and conflict theory can make sense of these collapses and how to rebuild society, the family network will always provide a challenge. This is why the singular person is so important to global peace. The governance style of the home will be imprinted on the children, as will economics, culture and religion.
The larger area of governance is also one of how a person governs their own situations. Furthermore, how you treat others is a strong indicator of the society you are building. The web of responsibility is a large and it can be an overwhelming reality. For me that responsibility is taken with great enjoyment and pride.  I hope that in the end my efforts will ensure a world that is peaceful.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tormented mind

No matter the situation of conflict I deal with or study there is always the same question, Why do people act in such ways? Having almost twenty years of experience in conflict resolution and peace the answer to why is always being sought for.
Each person has a unique view of the world because no one else can see the world as they do. For a society to remain peaceful there has to be a common vision. This vision is a constant struggle. Even in a personal relationship, such as a married couple a common vision is needed. This vision can not be faked or manipulated either. If such a situation arises where there is no common vision, tension and frustration will grow.
The tension and frustration of a loss of common vision is clearly seen in every conflict. Even in a peaceful country the struggle for a common vision is fought for during elections. The very reason for an election is to decide which vision the people best agree with. At the moment there are a number of countries that have to discuss how to decide to make choices of visions. Libya and Egypt are two that have been rebuilding society, constitutions and rules of process. Greece is another country that has a major discussion of how to proceed. In truth the entire world has an ongoing discussion of how and where to proceed.
Even though each one has to make their own decision there will always be outside influences. These influences often provide information and/or propaganda. Today the amount of information has been increasing rapidly. This change has given us more information than ever before. What has not changed is the reality.
The conflicts we have are similar to conflicts that have taken place thousands of years ago. Even though we have been developing in many ways, we have not progressed too far in our methods of resolving conflict.  What is our common vision for dealing with conflicts?
Everyone I discuss this topic with wishes to see a peaceful method. As the discussion progresses there are situations where violence is a difficult choice not to take. These situations are similar to what is going on in Syria or if there is gang violence in your neighbourhood. This is where the mind gets tormented.
Violence is ever present, however if you have the confidence and intelligence to abate violence it can be done.  I know it is possible because I have been in such situations and have ensured the safety of others without one moment of harmful violence.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Peace is political

South Sudan is now its own country. Although there is a line on a map, we are running the risk of creating another Western Sahara situation. The borders must be set and agreed to as soon as possible. On top of that issue there are the lawless areas of the countries, tribal clashes, reintegration/education programs and the economy of course.
The grand ideology of peace is easy to understand. The experiences, practices and dedication to be peaceful obviously offers challenges.  Many of the violent conflicts are completely avoidable yet the will to actually prevent such events is just not there. This is so frustrating for many reasons which everyone can point out.  What will it take to change that behaviour?
The number of frustrations has no limit. The entire society/country has a loose grip on a reality/culture without war. At the moment there are a vast amount of aid programs, some have been available for decades. However, chaos still exists.
Chaos is solved with understanding, order and with a good balance of predictability. The base root of change is education and action. As people evolve through the chaos of war there is a transition of physical and mental reality. The violence of war may diminish yet the distrust and knowledge of insecurity lingers for years. That protracted insecurity which is manifested in corruption of society and individual, needs education and action to change.
Programmes such reintegration (DDR) of former combatants is one that I have spent a great deal of time with. In Sudan these programmes have not been very well explained to the people.  “No one was familiar with the term DDR as referring to a process of transitioning from military to sustainable civilian life.”[1] This is a strong indication of a fundamental breakdown in peacebuilding within Sudan.
There are so many levels of focus a person can take with most conflicts, international, regional, national, community, tribal, religious and individual. The old saying “the fish rots from the head down” is very popular. Staying true to that saying results in focusing on the leaders/governments. This focus really puts an emphasis on how leaders are chosen, in other words politics.
The sad reality is that there is a large amount of distrust within the most senior levels of leadership as well. The most powerful group is the Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council and it has been East against West from the outset. This divide has impacted every conflict the United Nations is tasked with solving.
Starting with the head of the fish, we must choose leaders that actually have the will to solve war not prolong or instigate.

[1] Small Arms Survey. Human Security Baseline Assessment. Sudan Issue Brief #17 May 2011. Pg., 6.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Garbage Leadership

The situation in Syria is one that was completely avoidable. However we have to put up with the lying sacks of garbage coming out. The lies are so gross that it is difficult to read/trust anything in mainstream media.
The information was clear from the outset that the Western powers did everything to ensure the violence escalated. All the while the Western powers blamed the Eastern powers for the escalation. Here in the West, the mass media has lapped up the rhetoric of the Western governing powers. That alone is heartbreaking, but not all that shocking.
The truth of the situation is that the Western powers put forth resolutions at the United Nations Security Council knowing it would never pass. Due to that, they are just as liable as the Eastern powers for what is transpiring today in Syria. Another truth is that the Western powers have been supplying training for rebel soldiers and communication equipment. Such support may not be weapons and bullets yet the impact remains the same, more death and bloodshed.
As the situation spirals into civil war, we may have to let it go. The momentum is of such force towards a completely failed state that I do not see any force on the horizon to stop it. This war will go on for the next two to five years at least. As for the regional stability, who knows? The situation is terrible to say the least. All because the world leaders could/have not stopped pointing fingers at each other.
All that is left are hopes and dreams for a miracle.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Systems of resolving conflict

The past two days I have been engaged in talks about process and systems to deal with conflict. Oddly enough the discussions were heated as some people were very rigid in their thought. There was a balance point that hinged upon consent of the people. The consent is an agreement between the parties as to the method of conflict resolution.
On the surface it is easy to agree that the people are the ones to choose the style of conflict resolution. Now this meeting was focused on issues in a Canadian urban setting. However, I had to point out that a few hundred years ago shooting each other was legal in Canada. I was quickly informed that such things do not occur anymore. In response I noted the fifteen murders that prove otherwise. Also I pointed out that our federal government has given tacit support for leadership change of the Syrian government.
The argument over process has been around for as long as people have gathered in communities. There are many governing systems, electoral systems, conflict theories and management styles. Within each of these is the common goal of peaceful coexistence. Even all out war has the grand goal of peace. Other commonalities rest in the reality of the aftermath of war.
Trust, respect, open communication and an open mind is essential for each of us to live peacefully. These commonalities embrace most procedures that frame a conflict resolution discussion. Even within the personal realm of inner conflict we must have these commonalities for our own self esteem. Without those components life can be stagnant, which will evolve into a sense of being trapped or not in control.
Being in control is the essence of peace. In the wider sense of society, consent and legitimacy are hallmarks of sound government. Who is the legitimate leader in Libya or Egypt? Who are the legitimate parties involved in Syria, Yemen, Sudan, etc…  In each of these countries legitimate governing powers have been questioned and consent of the people has been eroded if not completely withdrawn. In this circumstance we can become embroiled in violent conflict due to the breakdown.  
In order to evolve we must change. Society will not change unless individuals are able and willing to change. The individual must be open to new thought and new processes. Being self aware is vital to societal peace, this is the crux of the single person impacting international peace. For many of us we tend to use a single process/style of conflict resolution throughout our lives, although we may be aware of many others.
Dealing with conflict takes a flexible mind. As events unfold, the mind will process information using what it knows. Sometimes all it takes is a different view point, like turning the scrabble board or chess board.