Let’s Stand Together in Solidarity With People Affected by Conflict

Let’s Stand Together
Join the people of New York to stage a ‘stand together’
in solidarity with people affected by conflict

 Friday 18 August 2017
4:00pm to 5:00pm

Times Square, New York
7th Ave & W 47th St.
New York, NY 10036

For more information about World Humanitarian Day please visit http://worldhumanitarianday.org/en

Image Credit: worldhumanitarianday.org
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Weekly Opportunity Bulletin (13 August 2017)

Here are some opportunities to keep on your radar this week!

*Please use the links included in each listing to direct you to the opportunity source website for more information.
  • UNAOC Young Peacebuilders in Middle East and North Africa. The programme is designed to support young people in gaining skills that can enhance their positive role in issues of peace and security and in preventing violent conflict. It also brings visibility to the initiatives, actions and projects initiated by young people towards peace and the promotion of diversity and human rights. Link to more information here: https://www.unaoc.org/what-we-do/projects/young-peacebuilders-in-mena/

 

 

 

  • Tomorrow’s Peacebuilder Awards which recognize grassroots peace activists in conflict-affected countries worldwide. Find the application form and more information here: https://www.peacedirect.org/tp/

 

  • Check out some online courses offered by the United States Institute of Peace. Some of the courses open for registration are Civil Resistance and Nonviolent Resistance, Introduction to Peacebuilding and Mediating Violent Conflict https://www.usip.org/education-training/courses

 

 

Differences between episodic and structural violence and their implications for peace-making and peace-building

Episodic and Structural Violence

Peace psychologists distinguish between two general types of violence; episodic and structural. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term ‘episodic’ as “occurring, appearing, or changing at usually irregular intervals.” Based on this definition, episodic violence can be described as an observable event that is often aimed at inflicting physical harm on others and occurs once or repeatedly. An example of episodic violence could be violent protests erupting after a presidential election. This has been observed in different countries over the years, marked by security forces firing teargas at crowds, demonstrators spending days in the streets, sometimes ending in destruction of property or clashes with the security forces.

Structural violence on the other hand refers to a form of violence where the social structure harms a certain group of members by preventing them from meeting their basic needs or preventing them from having equal access to resources such as education, civic services, safe jobs or political power. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term ‘structural’ as relating to “the way something is built or organized.” From this definition, we can deduce that structural violence is a normalized state of being that is not necessarily fair to all groups. Unlike direct violence, it does not literally directly harm in the physical sense but it does so indirectly through the unequal access to resources in societies. In his works of 1969, Johan Galtung, the principle founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies highlighted structural violence as “depicting the way in which institutions in a society are organized and distribute resources, providing ample goods and services for some members of society while depriving others”. Using the example of the protests after an election, structural violence could exist as rigged election systems that exclude certain groups of the population, inaccessibility of voting stations or even governance that has policies discriminating a group or groups of people.

Implications for peace-making and peace-building
According to the United Nations, (Agenda for Peace report 1992), peace-making involves “actions to bring hostile parties to agreement, essentially through peaceful means”. Generally this usually involves putting in place measures to address conflicts that are already in progress. Peace-making refers to efforts that are put in place to settle differences and move a violent conflict into a peaceful resolution. The objective is simply to end direct violence between the contending parties. In contrast, peace-building is concerned with strengthening a society’s capacity to manage conflict in nonviolent ways. In the Agenda for Peace, former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali introduced the concept of peace-building as “action to identify and support structures, which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid relapse into conflict.” Peace-building is an intervention designed to prevent the relapse of violent conflict. From this context we can deduce that the differences between episodic and structural violence are important to consider when designing interventions to be used in these two different but overlapping processes.

Researchers suggest that peace-making interventions are based on theories and practices aimed at tension reduction while peace-building seeks to induce tension and disrupt hierarchically organized structures and relations. Thus when approaching peace-making, the focus is on lessening the tensions and animosity and restoring peace. Whereas in peace building, the focus is on leveraging the underlying tensions in order to motivate reform and change.

In regard to peace, Galtung referred to the distinction between negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace refers to the absence of violence while positive peace is far reaching and includes creation of social systems that serve the needs of everyone in the society, most notably through the constructive resolution of conflict. Therefore, it is important to design the different types of interventions with this in mind. Negative peace interventions are designed to prevent and mitigate violent episodes and are more relevant to be applied to episodic violence. For instance, in the event of violent protests, the police could be deployed to disperse violent crowds in a civil manner and government officials could create an official platform for them to air their grievances, such as a town-hall meeting. On the other hand, positive peace interventions involve social and cultural transformations that are long term and are aimed at the reduction of structural violence. In the case of violent protests, positive peace interventions would focus more on the upholding of the rule of law in relation to elections and governance. The intervention would be more concerned with re-establishing a fair electoral system that all citizens can participate in rather than just focusing on the current eruption of violence.

 

Global Citizen Campaign – The Global Goals

Do you know about the Sustainable Development Goals, a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity” (UNDP) take action by joining in the campaign by Global Citizen, a community of people around the world who want to make the world a better place! While you are there, check out the other campaigns and rewards you can get for taking action ! Visit Global Citizen – The Global Goals for more information.

Video credit: Global Citizen and United Nations SDG Fund

Weekly Opportunity Bulletin (30 July 2017)

Here are some opportunities to keep on your radar this week!

*Please use the links that will redirect you to the opportunity source website for more information.
  • The Herbert Scoville Jr Fellowship provides recent college and graduate school alumni with the opportunity to gain a Washington perspective on key issues of peace and security. Open to US citizens and non-US citizens living in the US. Find more information at: http://scoville.org/

 

 

 

  • Tomorrow’s Peacebuilder Awards which recognize grassroots peace activists in conflict-affected countries worldwide. Find the application form and more information here: https://www.peacedirect.org/tp/

 

  • Check out some online courses offered by the United States Institute of Peace. Some of the courses open for registration are Civil Resistance and Nonviolent Resistance, Introduction to Peacebuilding and Mediating Violent Conflict https://www.usip.org/education-training/courses

3 must-read books on Minimalism

To learn more about minimalism read one of these great books……

1. Everything That Remains. A book by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Photo Credit: theminimalists.com

2. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. A book by Greg McKeown.

Photo credit: gregmckeown.com

3. Living Minimally: How to Reduce Your Stress and Improve Your Quality of Living through Minimalism. A book by Hannah Robbins.

Photo Credit: goodreads.com

Screening at the African Diaspora Film Festival in NYC

I had the opportunity to watch a screening of the brilliant film ‘While We Live’ at the African Diaspora Film Festival this past Saturday. I purposely chose to watch this film precisely because it is a Swedish film with English subtitles. (Yes, I am a foreign language film nerd who believes this is great way to learn 2 or 3 new words in another language). Well, I learned the word ‘tack’, which happens to mean ‘thank you’ and is a pretty useful word to learn in my opinion!

This film was directed by Dany Kouyaté, set in Sweden and the Gambia. It is a film about identity. Kandia, an African women in her fifties who has lived in Sweden for 30 years, decides to move back to Gambia. Her son Ibrahim, who dreams of a career in hip hop and is about to make a break through, goes follows her. Their encounter with their homeland, however, doesn’t turn out the way they imagined.  It is a heart warming story of family and soul searching.

From left to right: Producers of the film, Director Dany Kouyaté and lead actor, Adam Kanyama
From left to right: Producers of the film, Director Dany Kouyaté and lead actor, Adam Kanyama

The striking sub-theme for me was the concept of homelands and remembering who we are. The leas actress Kandia had lived in Sweden for a long time, spoke fluent Swedish but her son who was born to a Swedish father identified more as Swedish than Gambian. In this globalized world we live in, I think this is question many people who live in foreign lands have. According to Kandia – ‘even if a log falls into a river and stays there for many years, it will never turn into a crocodile.” As much as a person adapts and becomes a part of the new country he/she finds herself, homelands are forever a part of the ties that bind humanity.

During the Q&A the Director mentioned that the film would show at upcoming film festivals in Paris and Burkina Faso. Definitely worth a watch!