IFOR's Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva worked closely with the dedicated international observation program supported by several IFOR branches known as FOR Peace Presence, to describe ongoing attacks on conscientious objectors and human rights defenders in Colombia. On February 2, they submitted a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the ongoing situation in Colombia.
IFOR's representatives to UNESCO participated in the 39th General Conference, held in Paris 30 October - 14 November 2017. The resolutions of the General Conference have just been published in January, 2018.
During the General Conference, IFOR's Main Representative to UNESCO, Maria Antonietta Malleo, delivered a much appreciated speech where she called called upon the global community to invest in peace building. Assessing the conditions of the world today, she said our priorities must be to:
- Move towards institutionalization of peace and human rights education.
- Confront the cultural aspects of contemporary violence.
- Implement knowledge-sharing on theory and practice of nonviolent conflict resolution
- Denounce a widening international trend to the criminalization of humanitarian action
To read the full text of her speech click here.
Conscientious Objector Alert
The IFOR Secretariat joins FOR Peace Presence and IFOR members around the world in expressing alarm and concern regarding assissination attempt on members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartado, including German Graciano, Legal Representative.
The Justice and Peace Program organized by Dr. Suseela Mathew was a part of the continued efforts of IFOR's branch in India to provide support and training for those seeking to address social and political challenges in the country. This program was for teachers in the higher secondary schools from throughout the state of Kerala. The teachers participating in the program are trained counsellors and deal with students directly at schools. Dr. Mathew described the situation in schools facing students and teachers:
"Schools are hot beds of unrest and violence and this is observed as the overflow of the social and political currents generally. With the influence of media and usage of mobile apps students are being increasingly swayed to resort to display of intolerance and often violently. Often what is seen as assertion of rights by one section is equally an assault of the rights of another section. Dialogue is being substituted with hate filled rhetoric."
The program was designed to enable the teachers to deal with the variety of issues they confront by addressing the way that our emotions can sometimes distract us from the more strategic choices including pursuing legal redress for the concerns and grievances faced. Dr. Mathew pointed out that
"There are provisions of the law which deal with abuse of all kinds and laws which are enacted to protect the child. An effort was made to encourage teachers to use the laws and also to "conscientise" students about what was acceptable and unacceptable. All problems and solutions must face the test of justce and fairplay."
The sessions were elicitive and interactive.
On October 26th 2017, eleven LGBTIQ Faith Leaders came before the world at United Nations Headquarters in New York City to tell their stories. They came together under the auspice of the Ethics of Reciprocity project and with great courage poured their hearts and souls on that international stage. Long before that, however, they came to know each other as members of the same family.
It is with great sadness and disbelief that we, members of the Ethics of Reciprocity family, mourn the passing of one of our own. On December 11th, 2017, Abubakar Sadiq Yussif passed away.
On Thursday, Oct 26 from 11:30am – 3:00pm, IFOR is hosting an unprecedented gathering of conservative & progressive religious leaders, diplomats and human rights experts in a project called the Ethics of Reciprocity (EOR).
IFOR has a long history of engagement at the intersection of gender and peace building and has a long history of advocacy against violence and discrimination on the basis of gender. With millions of people around the world suffering increasing amounts of violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, IFOR is proud to host this important conversation. EOR was envisioned by IFOR's representative to the United Nations Dr. Patricia Ackerman.
IFOR's Branch in Madagascar, Fikambanana Entanin’ny Fampihavanana eto MADAGASIKARA (FIEFA) celebrated its 25th anniversary recently. The anniversary was held in the village of St. François of Antananarivo. The association chose as it's theme "La force ne vaut pas la vertu" or "force is not worth the cost of virtue." The anniversary was an opportunity for members of FIEFA to consider the moral importance of the movement's values and to renew the commitment to promote active nonviolence and peace.
Stacey Mitchell of IFOR's International Committee joined leaders from FOR-USA in Charlottesville this weekend as they gathered with thousands to send a message of love in opposition to the expressions of hatred and bigotry that permeated the U.S. city. White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville to demonstrate their opposition to the removal of a statue honoring the general that lead the army of the Southern States during the U.S. Civil War.
Several national and international media outlets covered the events in Charlottesville and FOR-USA posted several images and videos to it's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FORUSA/
July 03-28, 2017 IFOR's Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva attended the 120th Session of the Human Rights Committee. This synopsis is taken from notes provided by IFOR's Fellow in Geneva, Martina Lanza.
The HR Committee reviewed the implementation of civilian and political rights in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Honduras, Mongolia and Swaziland. IFOR attended the meetings on Switzerland, Honduras and Mongolia reviews.
From June 6-23 IFOR's Representatives in Geneva attended the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. IFOR's Representatives Derek Brett, Hans Ulrich Gerber and IFOR Fellow Martina Lanza worked with IFOR's members and contacts around the world to provide make oral statements, submit written statements and host side events during the council.
FOR Peace Presence International Accompanier
Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence (FORPP) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to providing safety, political visibility and solidarity to communities and individuals at risk in Colombia who are working to promote human rights, peace and justice. In addition to providing ongoing physical accompaniment to our partners, we also provide political accompaniment through meetings with Colombian civil and military officials as well as embassies, UN and other international officials. We provide visibility for these struggles through delegations, speaking tours, publications and an online presence, building bridges between communities in the global North and South on issues important to both.
FORPP is supported by several branches of IFOR and is an active part of the IFOR community. For more information or if you are interested in becoming an international accompanier, click here.
The European Branches of IFOR gathered in Vienna, Austria from April 28th to April 30 to share work and collaborate on the common problems of violence in Europe. Discussions included Security and Disarmament, Campaigns for Nuclear Disarmament, Migration, Refugees, Social Inclusion, and Peace Education. They were joined by IFOR's Honorary President Hildegard Goss-Mayr who spoke with the group and offered words of counsel and encouragement.
The branches released a statement at the conclusion of the meeting...
On April 8th, IFOR's branch in the United States issued a statement in response to U.S. military action in Syria. While acknowledging the horror of the chemical weapons attack on civilians, FOR called upon its members to contact the White House to express their disapproval of military response to the crisis in Syria. The statement calls upon the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just days after the commemoration of his assassination and his famous statement against the Vietnam War one year earlier.
The statement says "The logic that a military strike, even a limited one, will deter and quell aggression from the Assad regime, or the armed resistance, or the movement of Al-Qaeda believed to be in Syria, is fundamentally flawed. In violent escalation, both sides respond in turn with their own escalation of use of arms and aggressive attacks. We are already seeing the rumbling of this in Russia’s pronouncement of the strike as “an act of aggression.” As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.”
To read the full statement click here.
IFOR Members in Israel are fighting the forced displacement of Bedouin Communities in the Negev. They are asking for support by calling on people of conscience around the world to sign a letter to Israel's Prime Minister. Please click here to sign the petition.
IFOR members write: "In 1949, Israel evicted the Bedouin tribe Abu Al Qi'an from its lands in Wadi Zabbālih in the northern Negev. In 1956, the Israeli government settled the tribe in Umm Al Hiran and Atir in the north‐east region of the Negev. However, the government never granted these localities official recognition. Now, more than sixty years later, the government of Israel has ruled to evict its Bedouin citizens from Umm Al Hiran and settle Jewish citizens there instead, in a new Jewish town be called "Hiran." Please sign the petition, addressed to Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling upon him to prevent this outrage of evicting Bedouin citizens in order to settle Jewish citizens in their place."
In March of 2017 IFOR's representatives in Geneva engaged two important UN Human Rights bodies: the Human Rights Council (34th session) and the Human Rights Committee (119th session).
During the Human Rights Council session, IFOR delivered seven oral statements addressing critical concerns of IFOR members around the world. IFOR spoke to situations in Colombia, Eritrea, Turkey, and Western Sahara in particular as well as issues of torture and the forced recruitment of child soldiers in general.
On March 22, during the general debate following the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' report on the situation of Human Rights in Colombia, IFOR delivered a statement that spoke to the experiences of its members in Colombia.
The statement was delivered by IFOR Fellow Martina Lanza and it underlined our concern for the ongoing attacks against human rights defenders and on the militarization of the country, even after the peace accords. To read the full statement please click here.
(video of the remarks can be viewed here).
IFOR has deep relationships with human rights defenders in Colombia. IFOR is represented in Colombia by SERPAJ-Colombia and IFOR branches from Sweden, Austria, U.S., and the U.K. work collaboratively to provide protective accompaniment to human rights defenders in several regions of the country. The coordinated work of IFOR Austria, U.S. and U.K. is organized as FOR Peace Presence. IFOR members have accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó for the past 15 years.
Amid escalating violence, IFOR's Branch in South Sudan, the Organization for Nonviolence and Development (ONAD) joined a coalition of organizations who have responded to the call for National Dialogue issued by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
The coalition of organizations is known as "The Voluntary Civil Society Taskforce on Implementation of the Peace Agreement." It is a coalition of over 20 diverse and non-partisan South Sudanese civil society organizations and networks. The Taskforce is interested in genuine and full implementation of the Peace Agreement and a quick end to the suffering inflicted on innocent citizens of South Sudan by the political crises in the country.
During the first week of the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, IFOR held a side event titled “Human rights in Turkey”.
The event was moderated by IFOR Fellow, Martina Lanza and featured the following panelists:
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is working on its four-year analytical report on conscientious objection to military service. The report will be introduced and opened to discussion during the June 2017 session of the Human Rights Council.
IFOR responded to the invitation of OHCHR to submit information on the topic last February. In our submission, we concentrate only on developments after 2013, because early details were comprehensively summarized in the first Quadrennial Report (A/HRC/23/22, 3rd June 2013).
Regarding to the international legal and normative framework, the submission reports developments at the UN and regional level. In the second part, it provides analyses, speaks of encouraging developments, best practices and remaining challenges at the national level.
The read the full text of IFOR's submission click here.