13 August 2011Feature

In October, for the first time, the UN adopted a resolution on women, peace and security. Angela Mackay looks at how this may impact current UN peacekeeping operations and the relationship peacekeepers have with local women.

The 31 October 2000 was more than just a Halloween celebration for thousands of women watching the UN Security Council on that day. Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) was an unprecedented event—a unanimous adoption of the first resolution on women, peace and security. Among other features it calls for the prosecution of crimes against women; increased protection of women and girls during war; more women to be appointed to UN peacekeeping operations and field missions; and more women in…

13 August 2011Feature

As pressure mounts for military intervention in Darfur, Alex de Waal, an Africa expert, tells PN why war won't work and how tantalisingly close Darfur came to peace. When peace diplomacy happens, our movements need to know about it, and support it at every level.

PN: What is your background in relation to Darfur?

ADW: I travelled extensively in Darfur when I first went as a PhD student in 1985. I wrote my first book on famine in Darfur. Subsequently I've spent almost all of the last 22 years working on the Horn of Africa.

PN: What are the origins of the Darfur crisis?

ADW: The underlying factors are the economic and political marginalisation of Darfur, including both Arabs and non-Arabs. Darfur…

1 February 2010Feature

How local peace efforts in Northern Uganda were trumped by the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrants

“Can they not see what they are doing? They will cause the war to continue”. John-Bosco1 looked at me, pointing to the day’s copy of the New Vision newspaper open on the café table. It was hard to know how to answer this question; I had been struggling with it for months.

John-Bosco was a night watchman with a family growing up amidst the conflict. He was one of the first people to welcome my wife and I to Gulu, Northern Uganda, when we arrived in 2001.

Now it was…

1 July 2009Review

Zed Books, 2008, ISBN 978 1 842779 50 7; 320pp, £12.99

This book is not an easy read in any sense of the term and hardly anyone emerges from its pages with much credit. It lays bare, in great detail, the origins of the present conflict in Darfur and how it has unfolded in recent years. Needless to say, the true picture is considerably more complex than that presented by the mass media which, in any event, were somewhat late upon the scene.

“Until March 2004, Darfur’s crisis unfolded in the typical manner of African civil wars, unremarked…

1 March 2009Review

One Tree Films 2008, 85 mins

This upbeat documentary begins with the observation that, despite contrary perceptions, there is actually less armed conflict in the world today than ever before. The film contends that there is a wave of co-operative, nonviolent responses emerging throughout the world to the growing challenges posed by climate change, resource depletion, population growth and economic inequality.

The film surveys some of these initiatives, flitting across the globe from Kenya to Colombia, from the…

1 March 2006News

This month sees the launch of a new interactive website from Conscience The Peace Tax Campaign. From 2 March, visitors to will be able to see how nonviolent peacebuilding initiatives are not only desirable, but are actually less costly and more effective than current approaches to security.

The UK is the third largest military spender in the world and almost 10% of our taxes go to the military. Out of a military budget of over #33 billion, only 3% is spent on conflict…

1 December 2004Feature

Peacekeeping has changed a lot since 1956, when Lester B Pearson--then Canadian Foreign Minister--proposed that the UN send an international force to the Sinai desert to prevent fighting.

The Canadian government established the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (PPC) in 1994. Its Peace Operations Summer Institute (POSI), which I attended, offers an overview of the whole array of peace operations, and while I was there several other courses were underway on such top-ics as humanitarianism…

1 December 2004Feature

The word at the UN is that there is a “commitment gap” - that is, the world's militarily most powerful countries want to see more military intervention around the world, but are reluctant to send their troops on missions run by the UN.

Each month the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operation (DPKO) publishes a list of how many troops, military observers and police each country supplies to UN operations (see following “tools” pages for latest details). Who heads the list of…

1 December 2004Review

Clairview Books 2004; ISBN 1 9026 3652 X; Pb 257pp; £10.95

This offering from Peace Direct uses personal narratives to celebrate and give voice to a very different type of hero: individuals who have taken the frequently traumatic decision to reject the path of conflict in favour of the often more difficult but ultimately far more fulfilling route of active peace-making.

The subjects of these fifteen accounts would not characterise themselves as heroes, and it is this humility that gives the book much of its force. The stories are told with…

1 September 2003Review

Nonviolence International 2002, ISBN 9 29500602 X. See

As its subtitle suggests, this ain't exactly bedtime reading.

But if you've ever wanted a clear, concise guide to how exactly peace processes work, this is it. Who gets to be involved? What do they talk about, and how is that agenda set? How are these decisions translated into practice? And how are transparency and ethical process observed?

Illustrated by examples from Tajikistan to Guatemala via Burma and Mozambique, the book looks at the common themes of success and failure…

1 March 2003Feature

Michael Shank reports on a youth peace conference organised by Youth Initiative for Peace in Lahore, and a moving visit to the India-Pakistan border.

“So how was Pakistan?” Friends eager to know more about my recent work in the Islamic Republic have had to wait patiently as I search my vocabulary for the appropriate words. My silence surprises me as well. Usually words do not escape me but this rare moment finds me struggling to do my experience justice.

Shall I take this brief exchange to explain that not all Pakistani women wear burqas (as some Americans believe) that cover their entire face? Shall I seize this opportunity to…

1 December 2002Feature

Earlier this year Howard Clark interviewed former ELN guerrilla Pastor Jaramillo for Peace News. He talks about the challenges and frequently dire consequences of "reinsertion" into civilian life and suggest a prognosis for the future of peace talks.

As popular support waned in the 1980s, guerrilla groups made various attempts to switch to unarmed political struggle. The FARC itself, seeking to negotiate peace in the period 1984-87, set up a political party, the Patriotic Union. In the next five years, at least 2,000 of its leaders and activists were killed by paramilitaries, security forces and members of the drug cartels.

In the early 1990s there was a new wave of negotiations with the government involving guerrilla groups such…

1 December 2002Feature

The participatory peace and democratic initiatives emerging at the local and regional level in Colombia usually lack a solid base of support in Europe. Kristian Herbolzheimer looks at the possibilities for a decentralised response, involving not just citizens' groups but local institutions.

Cooperation for development has long ceased to be the prerogative of states. Apart from the big NGOs and church organisations, there are more direct ways in which citizens of countries in the North - be it through unions, small NGOs, or sup-port committees - have been playing an active part in building solidarity between peoples.

In step with the growth of civic consciousness and commitment, local and regional administrations have become more involved. The sum of these social…

1 December 2002Feature

Who said all is lost in Colombia? Women propose stopping the war now

We women saw the unsuccessful peace process between the government and the FARC as exclusionary, not based in the grass roots. Now we view with terror the spectacle of war: a patriarchal concept, both retrogressive and obtuse, has elevated war to the role of midwife of history and humanity, and unfortunately, at present, is defining the destiny of this country and of the world. We know, by the wisdom gleaned from centuries…

1 June 2001Feature

In her ongoing examination of how women can and do operate across borders, and create spaces for dialogue, Cynthia Cockburn reports on a recent "bi-communal" experience in Cyprus.

Cyprus isn't in the headlines much these days but, 26 years on from the nationalist-inspired fighting that resulted in its partition, it remains a sharply divided country. The UN-guarded Green Line is all but impenetrable, except by tourists and other internationals.

South of the Line is the actual Republic of Cyprus, now monoculturally Greek. North of the Line is an unrecognised entity known as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, remote-controlled from Ankara.