IFOR's branches in the Northern Hemisphere along with the International Secretariat have been experiencing summer over the past months. Even before summer, our team at the International Secretariat fell behind on providing updates to the news section of IFOR's website. Here are some important happenings within IFOR in the past several months that we've missed:
Cultural Academy of Peace Celebrates Pearl Jubilee:
IFOR's Affiliate in Kerela, India celebrated the Pearl Jubilee. CAP's newsletter described "it is the Day we realized the impact of 30 years of our “commitment and service “to women and children especially those in crisis situation. The large number,of Social activists,professionals, secular and religious groups, Government representatives and our network Partners, almost 500, was indeed quite heartening. Many people have commended that it was an indicator of the acceptance of Cultural Academy’s mission."
The event was held in on April 9th Ashir Bhavan, Ernakulam. It was a remarkable day as they simultaneously observed NIRBHAYA DAY, in memory of the deceased victims, and survivors of Sexual abuse. Cultural Academy runs Nirbhaya Home, a project of Kerala Government. The Residents of this Home as well as Shanthi Bhavan took active part in the celebration.
The Cultural Academy also hosted a one day workshop on ‘Gender Equity for Social Safety with Emphasis on Masculinity’ led by Dr. Suseela Mathew, an International Trainer on Gender and Conflict Management, on 30th July 2016 at Shantibhavan Auditorium, Ernakulam.
The Human Cost of the War on Drugs: April 19-21 there was a Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Drug Policy. The International Secretariat helped coordinate the involvement of FOR-USA and SERPAJ-AL.
FOR-USA participated in the Special Session in collaboration with the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference who had assembled an international collection of clergy to give voice the damage that the War on Drugs has caused on communities around the globe: religious leaders from the United States, El Salvador, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom told of the horribly punitive and violent actions taken through the War on Drugs. SERPAJ-America Latina was represented by the presence of Carlos Martinez of SERPAJ-Chile.
FOR Peace Presence launches Longing For Peace Campaign: FOR Peace Presence represents the work of several members of the IFOR to protect communities and human rights defenders in Colombia. With the Peace Process negotiating an end to the armed conflict, there is a lot of work on a grassroots level that needs to be done to guarantee that implementation of the agreement and the continued physical and political space for communities and organizations to continue their essential work for peace as well as social, economic, cultural, and environmental justice.
In light of all this, FOR Peace Presence is organizing an interactive multimedia campaign titled Longing for Peace. The campaign is designed to coincide with the signing of the accords while highlighting the diverse voices and experiences of FORPP partners, members of Colombian civil society, and members of the international community as they share understandings of peace, hopes for a their country post-accord, and ongoing challenges to building lasting and meaningful peace. The campaign aims to broaden the physical and political space necessary for building peace and to recognize that peace is a process-oriented action, requiring ongoing and long-term participation at all levels.
IFOR's Beloved Communities Project Continues: Following the visit of Palestinian American lawyer and activist Ahmad Abuznaid, 20 May- 20 June, IFOR was pleased to welcome Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons as it's 5th speaker for the Beloved Communities Project. Dr. Simmons is a veteran of the U.S. Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. She is a Sufi muslim and a professor of Islamic Studies. She spoke to a variety of communities in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, Berlin and Budapest about Islam, nonviolence, feminism, the U.S. Black Freedom Struggle and many other topics.
IFOR & UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), Vienna: UNODA introduced a program called "Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education Partnership". July 5-6th, the "Women Higher Education for Peace Vienna Forum" was held. It included a "job fair" for women mainly from the Global South, to be involved more deeply in disarmament affairs and also job opportunities. IFOR is one of 6 NGOs from the Vienna UN Committee on Peace who were partners of the whole program -we were invited to participate in both the Forum and the job fair. IFOR was represented by Therese Kirchner, board member of IFOR Austria and IFOR's representative to the UN in Vienna, Pete Haemmerle participated in a short video clip on the work of the NGO Committee on Peace (including IFOR) in Vienna.
Much more work for peace was done by IFOR members around the world in the past several months. We will not be able to report them all here but these were some of the highlights we thought it was important to share.