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Kamala Sarup: Peace Activism Failed?

Peace Activism Failed?

Kamala Sarup

Thousands of Peace organizations and local NGOs have been established on peace resolutions. Among them, many are women's NGOs dealing with Peace rights, education, information, health, development, religion, counseling, training, re-establishing traditional skills, crafts and arts and textiles.

The Peace organizations covers many areas of concern, from the peace dimensions of violence and displacement during conflict to the role of peacekeepers and the need for men and women to play a central part during peace negotiations and reconstruction.

One can imagine the helplessness, humiliation and psychological trauma this can bring to the children and women concerned. Most of the children born in this way do not know their fathers. Even though most women have no direct participation in the war, they still face arrest. There are also scores of women who are killed. Such crimes against women are still prevalent.

The war has been serious and bitter. Some neighbourhoods, families and individuals suffered multiple and repeated losses. Women and children have been directly affected by the conflict as victims of violence.

Recent research, however, has shown that women have actively supported violent and sectarian organisations on both sides of the national divide. This is a form of politics that has laid the foundations for a future in which the two major traditions learn to accommodate each other and to express differences without aggression.

When Peace organizations couldn't achieve their goals at the national level they must take the issues to the international level. They have to develop this strategy in connection with the right to people's peace rights. Peace right means to protect their own family also improves the possibility of controlling their lives. These include the right to education and training, to undertake economic activities of their own, and to participate in the political, cultural and social spheres in their countries.

The right to survive is a human right. So, International and local peace organizations must recognizing the indispensable role that people can play in preventing war and sustaining peace. Even, on October 31, 2000, the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 1325 urging the secretary-general to expand the role of women in U.N. field-based operations, especially among military observers, civilian police, human rights workers, and humanitarian personnel.

Last November, the European Parliament passed a hard-hitting resolution calling on European Union members (and the European Commission and Council) to promote the equal participation of women in diplomatic conflict resolution; to ensure that women fill at least 40 percent of all reconciliation, peacekeeping, peace-enforcement, peace-building, and conflict-prevention posts; and to support the creation and strengthening of NGOs (including women's organizations) that focus on conflict prevention, peace building, and post-conflict reconstruction. Influencing security forces

Peace organizations can also act as a valuable interface between their countries' security forces (police and military) and the public, especially in cases when rapid response is necessary to head off violence.

Given the nature of "inclusive" war, security forces are increasingly called upon to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian relief across conflict zones. At this time peace organizations should serve as indispensable contacts between civilians, warring parties, and relief organizations.

In rebel-controlled areas, peace organizations must work closely with humanitarian organizations. Oxfam report says "The normal pattern was to hand out relief to the men, who were then expected to take it home to be distributed to their family. However, many of the men did what they pleased with the food they received: either selling it directly, often in exchange for alcohol, or giving food to the wives they favored."

Peace organizations should work closely with tribal chiefs and relief organizations to establish a system allowing people to pick up the food for their families, despite contrary cultural norms. Instead of asking peace organizations to strengthen their efforts, we have to recognizes the leading role that peace organizations can play in the peace movement.

One subchapter is also devoted to the issue of armed conflict, listing six strategy objectives to increase organization's participation, promote non-violent conflict resolution, promote women's contribution in fostering a culture of peace, provide assistance and training to refugee and displaced women, and provide assistance to women of non-self-governing territories. But each conflict/peacebuilding situation is different and there is always a need for a specific analysis. Peace organization have a fundamental stake in building peaceful communities. Their contributions to peacebuilding should be encouraged and supported.

What does the peace movement need to do to challenge the global trend of economic and political conservatism? Do women as well as men receive training in mediation, facilitation and alternative dispute resolution? Do local and international organisations have the capacity to recognize and work with peace rights issues? Will peace organisations gain new skills and capacity in articulating policy alternatives, holding governments accountable and being advocates for change?


( Kamala Sarup is an editor of )

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