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Peace-Building

The Conflict Resolution Elephant in the Room

Caroline Jaine's picture

Last week I spent an evening sitting beneath a mammoth painting of Alfred Inciting the Saxons to prevent the landing of the Danes in Committee room 10 at the Houses Parliament in London.  A Member of Parliament called Slaughter introduced two peace-building academics in an irony I'm sure he is very tired of.

We were there to listen and discuss the notion of Conflict Resolution in the context of Islam. Professor Mohamed Abu Nimer, the Director of the Salaam Institute for Peace and Justice spoke first about how Islamic peace-building was no different from any other in that it was all about justice, peace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion and equality.  It’s the basic teachings, he professed that a parent offers a five-year-old child.  He went on to describe the nuances that were different when working in Muslim communities. Unfortunately he spent longer on the nuances than he did in examining common ground and the nuances themselves underplayed the vast diversity in Islamic tradition across the Muslim world (which he later acknowledged). Time was short. 

I disagreed with the second speaker, Dr Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana who claimed, when an Afghan in the audience challenged this broad-brush approach, that culture and religion are entirely separate.  Surely one is bound up in another? 

Media Without Borders

Caroline Jaine's picture

We are unstoppable when it comes to communicating.  “Communicate” means “to share” and it comes as second nature (it’s socially addictive in fact).  The 300 million of us blogging can rarely be silenced.  A comment on a Minister’s blog can provoke a policy change.   A micro-blog can influence a legal challenge (the Trafigura/Carter Ruck affair) or inspire masses (the Iranian elections were the top news story on Twitter last year).  And a social network group like Facebook can undermine an X-Factor winner’s success (a winner ironically chosen by “the people” by telephone vote).  It is the public, not governments that are beginning to drive change. But whether we like it or not it’s still mainstream media that is being listened to most – TV, radio and most powerful of all – the old fashioned newspaper read out loud.  It’s more coherent, more organised, and usually better written than the complex voice of the masses.  Big media still counts.  
 

Reflecting on Mumbai

Caroline Jaine's picture

I do not have to be Indian to feel the sense of sorrow and unfathomable injustice as this month the world remembers the Mumbai attacks of a year ago.  Many times we seem to have shaken our pitiful heads and said “never again” after a grand scale terror attack, but still man continues to kill man for an increasingly bizarre list of reasons.  Political pressure, ignorance, social emasculation, brainwashing and drug addiction are amongst the culprits.

In the year since Mumbai, across the region we have seen murderers in Pakistan turn on their own people – with a recent gruesome blast in a Peshawar market killing over 100, mainly women and children, with no real explanation that I could fathom. Again, I do not have to be Pakistani to feel a sense of sorrow. 
 

Correlations between Press Freedom and Human Development Demonstrated

Andrea Cairola's picture

With the new year, the UNESCO printing house has just come out with the copies of the paper “Press freedom and development: an analysis of correlations between freedom of the press and the different dimensions of development, poverty, governance and peace.”

It is satisfying to see brand-new books containing the study on which I’ve been working as part of a research project implemented by the Centre for Peace and Human Security (CPHS) at Sciences Po University, with UNESCO's support. And it is even more interesting to see some of the conclusions that the independent scholars reached in this research -- namely, that press freedom is positively correlated with good governance, human development, and democracy. This is, of course, one more argument to corroborate the theories on how a functioning public sphere contributes to peace-building and governance.