The twin bombings in Jos on May 20 have been very sad news. They took place at the main market and local bus terminal, one of the busiest places in town. They killed many market women and their children as well as firefighters and ambulance men who rushed to the scene to help the wounded. I have passed through this overcrowded area many times during my field research in Jos. The only thing that is comforting after these vicious attacks is that no revenge killings have been reported. Security forces reacted swiftly when angry people started to set up roadblocks, which could have let to killings. But I think the relative calm in Jos is also in no small part testimony to the tireless efforts of many local peace activists who have been working for years to bring down the tensions and avert another major riot. Some of these individuals are truly brave people who risk much when confronting armed and angry men in a traumatized environment.
My report on the conflict in Jos details some of the local violence prevention initiatives and the root causes of the conflict.
One day before the Geneva II Conference on Syria was to start in Montreux/Geneva, the Programme on Gender and Global Change at the Graduate Institute hosted a public roundtable with Nobel Peace Prize Winners Shirin Ebadi and Mairead Maguire as well as Cynthia Enloe and women peace activists from Bosnia, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Western Sahara and Sri Lanka, in solidarity with Syrian women peace activists. Women civil society representatives from Bosnia, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Western Sahara, and Sri Lanka shared their experiences on peace activism and reiterated that women and men experience armed conflict differently. They reflected on how the exclusion of women from peace negotiations undermines sustainable post-conflict development.
Cynthia Enloe chaired a roundtable discussion with Syrian women who emphasized that women in Syria engage in everyday peacemaking and reconciliation efforts. These include conflict mediation in communities and coordinating humanitarian relief.
Since the adoption of UNSCR 1325, gender-sensitive peacebuilding has become a norm that states that gender equality can help prevent war, that women need to be protected from gender-based violence, and that women should be participating in peacemaking. In October 2013, the UN Security Council followed up with Resolution 2122 on Women, Peace and Security, which aims to strengthen women’s roles in conflict prevention and resolution. The new resolution emphasized the need to address issues that have prevented the implementation of 1325. It “recognized with concern that without a ‘significant implementation shift’, women would remain under-represented in conflict prevention and resolution, protection and peacebuilding for the foreseeable future”.
International civil society groups, such as the Women’s League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), have lobbied international sponsors of the Geneva II peace talks on the applicability of UNSCR 1325 to the Syria Conflict. Despite support from a number of states, such as the Netherlands, Norway and the UK, for the motion to include women in the peace talks, the UN and the Arab League of Nations decided against their participation.
The podcast ‘Dealing with the Past in Indonesia’ is a recording of a public talk I chaired at King’s College London in December 2013. Prof. John Sidel (LSE) and Mr Paul Barber (TAPOL) provided extensive analysis and commentary on the event that the movie deals with: the 1965/66 mass killings of at least 500,000 alleged ‘communists’ in Indonesia.
One of the most powerful and provocative documentaries, the film shows local gangsters in Medan, Sumatra re-enacting in vivid and sometimes sickening detail the killing of alleged communists during the events that followed former President Suharto’s rise to power in Indonesia in 1965. At least 500,000 people were murdered and up to one million were held without charge or trial, many of them tortured. Since the end of the Suharto regime in 1998, former political prisoners, researchers and human rights activists have started documenting the widespread human rights violations, including crimes against humanity. The movie invites reflection on the perpetrators of mass violence, and on dealing with a violent past in Indonesia and elsewhere.
The documentary ‘THE ACT OF KILLING’ has won many prestigious film prices around the world, including a nomination for the Oscars in the category ‘best documentary’. It also won best documentary at the 2014 BAFTA awards.
A list of important commentaries and reflections on the movie and information on the human rights campaign ‘minta maaf! say sorry for 65’ can be found here.
A brief interview on my new research project.
What is the overarching goal of this project?
We aim to understand how gender relations and armed violence relate to each other in various social conflicts, such as vigilante, communal or insurgent violence, in order to propose policy recommendations on gender-sensitive peacebuilding efforts. …
The Programme on Gender and Global Change (PGGC) at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva is looking to fill the position of Research Assistant (50%) for its project “Gender Dimensions of Social Conflict, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding”. For more information click here.
Project Funding: 3 years
The Swiss Progamme for Research on Global Issues for Development has approved a multi-year research grant for the research project Gender Dimensions of Social Conflict, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding that I co-lead with Prof. Elisabeth Prügl at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Within this North-South-South research collaboration we partner with researchers in Indonesia and Nigeria as well as international and civil society organizations in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Initial funding has been granted for the first three years and would be extended for a second three-year term upon successful mid-term evaluation of the research project.
Background to the project: Quantitative research has demonstrated a strong correlation between levels of gender inequality and violent conflict, suggesting that women’s subordination and vulnerability is a significant predictor of armed violence. This project takes the proposed correlation to the micro-level, investigating what mechanisms link gender relations and dynamics of violence. Over the next three years, a multi-national research team will examine statistical materials, comb newspaper articles, and conduct interviews in Indonesian and Nigerian conflict zones that have experienced various types of armed conflict, comparing violent and nonviolent communities. We aim to provide empirical evidence on micro-level gender dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding that informs policy makers on gender-sensitive peacebuilding efforts.
The Nigerian National Working Group on Armed Violence and Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) have published a report that maps civil society activities aiming to prevent and reduce armed violence. The report provides an important overview about “who does what” by region and state and facilitates civil society collaboration on peacebuilding initiatives.