What Textiles, Wars and Earthquakes Have in Common

labores-patchworkOver 30.000 people displaced between August and October in the Centre of Italy due to several earthquakes, whose tremors are still threatening the life of its inhabitants. Experts asserted October 30th quake has been the strongest in 35 years, registering a 6.6 on the Richter scale.

One is man-made, the other is an uncontrollable – although predictable – phenomenon; both wars and earthquakes provoke victims and/or people’s displacements and do urge a quick and effective response. Not only at emergency level though. Continue reading

The 6th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum and Youth Event in Bali, Indonesia

The 6th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum and Youth Event in Bali, Indonesia

Photo Credit: Indonesia.Travel

Through the 29th and 30th of August, the 6th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum was celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. The theme for this year’s Forum was “Unity in Diversity: Celebrating Diversity for Common and Shared Values”, gathering heads of state and state representatives, academics, journalists and religious leaders from around the globe for a short but intense summit divided into break-out sessions dealing with such diverse topics as inter-religiosity in education or the treatment of migration stories in the media. Along with the Global Forum, a Youth Event took place during the 28th, where 100 youth from 41 different countries were selected from more than 3000 applicants to work together under the topic “The Role of Youth in Promoting “Unity in Diversity” through Education, Media, and Migration” in order to create youth-led recommendations which would be afterwards delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

I was one of the 100 lucky youths to actively participate in the Youth Event and attend the 6th UNAoC Global Forum, an experience I would like to share with a few words. The 28th was a very busy day. A briefing awaited us at 6:30 a.m. to go through the schedule of the day so there was little time to suffer the jet lag. Once at the convention center, after a welcoming speech delivered by the UN High Representative for the AoC Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, we split into four break out session with small discussion groups dealing with four main issues: Education, Media, Migration and Entrepreneurship/Employment. Every group consisted of around 25 participants but also of international observers and resource personnel. Amidst the 25 participants there was a facilitator, who mediated the discussion, two note-takers and a time tracker, who was to ensure the very packed schedule we had for the morning was adequately followed. Aside from a participant, I was also an active discussion member, serving as one of the note-takers in my small discussion group, which was in charge of creating recommendations dealing with the issue of migration. I felt happy and relieved to see that even though our roles had been strictly compartmentalized in theory, during the discussion the team of active participants helped each other in an effort to create a welcoming environment for everyone to contribute with their thoughts, to lead the discussion toward what were considered core issues and to phrase them in the shape of recommendations that would satisfy the whole of the group.

If there is something to learn from sitting at a table with 25 people you have just met, from many different countries and obvious different backgrounds, but all with a clear goal to achieve (and a tight schedule to do so) is that it can become frustrating, and at the same time incredibly intense and inspiring. Whatever you consider to be the pressing issues in your country, your culture or the political system you live in, they are probably not of much importance to someone living on the other side of the world, and that is OK. By sitting at such table one hears (probably for the first time) about the issues of the other. We learn to listen, we practice empathy, and struggle to compromise. With an exercise like this one it is also made clear how painfully difficult it must be in a real meeting between state representatives, as every word is questioned over and over and a single sentence feels like a great achievement. By the afternoon, after a quick lunch and even quicker visit to the Taman Ayun temple to clear our minds, the recommendations were ready to be read out loud, tweaked a little bit and declared finished. An inspiring speech by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, including a short but amusing Q&A, closed the day. Many ran to shake his hand or take a selfie, only a few succeeded. After a huge group photograph it was time to go back to the hotel.

A few days after the Youth Event, all of us back in our countries, we receive an email from Francesco Candelari, one of the incredibly professional AoC staff that accompanied us during the whole trip: our recommendations will in fact reach the desk of the Secretary General and will also be given to the Secretary General Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi. But bear in mind, thousands of recommendations are produced by the international community every year and not all of them can be properly followed up. Expect no miracles, is what he is stating politely. Even so, at the end of the day, it is not that important if our recommendations are actually taken into account. What matters is the chance of getting to know like-minded, brilliant people and, through talking to them, opening small windows into their worldviews, their cultures and hopes for the future. All the conversations I had during the three days of the Forum, however brief, have helped shape me into a better, more open and understanding person. I believe it felt the same to my fellow youth participants, and that is a very good step towards become a future leader, if it is the path of any of us to become one. After all, that is what the UNAoC Youth Event was truly all about.

Conflicts and the Challenges of the Post Conflicts

This article deals with conflict and effective post-conflict rehabilitation approaches to prevent future wars and to establish the rule of law and respect for human rights. A special focus is put on establishing democratic governance in Nigeria.

http://tinyurl.com/kj4z5zm

http://tinyurl.com/kj4z5zm

There are daunting challenges of post-conflict reconstruction facing the majority, if not all African countries. Recovering from violent conflicts poses the risk of conflict relapse. The level of visibility varies with regard to the country as well as to the type of conflicts. This fundamentally influences public awareness associated with fear, insecurity and tolerance levels, relating to acceptable of conflict behaviors. Continue reading

The United Nations and the New Post-2015 Development Agenda

development agenda

Source: United Nations

In 2000, the leaders of 189 countries met at the United Nations to share a common vision and responsibility to ensure the achievement of an international agreement. They focused on the 8 goals with the purpose of eradicating extreme poverty and encourage world development. These targets are set out in the Millennium Declaration, which has a deadline achievement of 2015. However, after the deadline date, efforts to reach this aim will continue unabated with the new Post-2015 Agenda. This agenda will work on the new challenges that have emerged since the year 2000, for example in terms of security (after the 9/11 terrorist attacks) and in environmental issues (global warming), and on the ones that have not been accomplished yet. Continue reading

The Importance of Transitional Justice

justice africaWhether for welcoming a newborn or mourning the loss of a relative, every society has and dearly holds onto its own forms of traditions. But in times of emergency such as civil war and genocide, those atrocities not only disrupt current community life but also affect future generations, with such death and destructions, no country is prepared to face the crises aftermath, let alone having a “Recovery toolkit” or a “Reset button”. Therefore, countries look for new ways to mourn their dead, commemorate the events, preserve the memory and move forward.

Since independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s, most Africa governments have been undemocratic, repressive and authoritarian. This has often been marked by serious violation of human rights. These attempts to move away from dark eras of dictatorship with the advent of the so-called “Third wave” of democratization in the 1990s has been accomplished by numerous challenges, one of which is how to deal with the trauma and wounds of the past by ensuring that human rights violations are accounted for in a manner that respects and protects the dignity of survivors and their relatives without threatening future peace and security. The movement from repressive to democratic systems of governance is a worldwide phenomenon and therefore, the transition in Africa has learnt from the inspiring experience of other transitions in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America. The transitional challenges have usually been enormous. The question is HOW DO YOUTHS DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO RULED ON A DAILY BASIS BY VIOLENCE, TERROR, INTIMIDATION AND DIVISION? HOW DO YOUTHS BRING BACK TRUST, ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, POLICAL STABILITY AND CONGENIAL SOCIAL RELATION? Continue reading

Youth Activism in South Africa, a Day in History

South Africans commemorate the 16th of June to serve as a reminiscence of what transpired in Soweto (a township/suburb I have yet to visit) on the said day in 1976. It is the most significant and arguably the most famous youth demonstration in all of South African history. For those who aren’t really sure what happened, I will in summary, elaborate.

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Back then black people (mostly of African descent) were confronted by political oppression, extreme social degradation and inhumane economic exploitation. You could argue that there still exists political oppression in the motherland today and you could use the recent public attacks on public protector Thuli Madonsela by leading politicians. You could go on and tell me about how top prosecutor, Glynnis Breteynbach was unfairly suspended after she big names in the political scenery tackled (or at least tried to do so). Secondly, you could argue that social degradation is prevalent today and its prevalence is actually depressing. You could use the racism that we black people have to endure in our country everyday. You could use the stories your parents and all those related to you share about corporate South Africa as one of many examples. You could use the recent forced evictions that took place in Lwandle as socially degrading. You wouldn’t need to go further and tell me about the “open” toilet that once called the shanty townships around Cape Town home or the “still fresh on our minds” Marikana massacre. On economic exploitation you could outline how domestic workers, miners, unskilled labourers and the like are overworked and under-paid. I would never dispute the mentioned points; I would however argue that be it as it may, it was way worse back then. Continue reading

Negotiations take place every day

UNYANET Negotiation Club

UNYANET Negotiation Club / UNYSA Austria

“In which restaurant are we going to eat tonight?” “In which country will we spend our summer holiday?” “Which film are we going to watch?“

Questions like this, you will face almost every day or at least on a regular basis. Therefore, it is important to be able to negotiate well, in order to reach your desired outcome. If you prefer Chinese food to Japanese, rather visit Stockholm than spend your vacation on the beach in Italy, or prefer a horror movie to a romantic film, then you need to be able to find good arguments and negotiate well, so that you persuade your (negotiation) partner to vote for your choice.

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Youth Unemployment

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

UN Photo/Jean Pierre Laffont

Youth unemployment. This is one of the major concerns for young people all over the world today, especially in the countries going through major economic crises.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are 75 million youths looking for jobs around the world today [1]. However, it is not only unemployment that is affecting our fellow youngsters across the world.  The precarious conditions in which they work involve low salaries and long hours, with interns feeling lucky to be paid since the increase of unpaid internships in which one works as a slave with only a “thank you” and a whisper from the boss hoping that this job will help you find better future opportunities.  How are we, the younger generation, supposed to survive in a society ruled by plutocracy (money) if we cannot get a job?

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Belfast: The Microcosm of Northern Irish Dispute

Photo: Peter Kumer

Photo: Peter Kumer

To an average daily visitor Belfast is like any other British city. Tourists like to take part in one of the walking tours through city centre to have a glance at some of the most prominent works of Edwardian and Victorian architecture. After the shopping at Victoria Square it is essential to stop at Titanic Quarter to see the slipways where the “Unsinkable” was originally constructed. On the way to the most famous Northern Irish attraction, The Giant’s Causeway, only few decide to drive through Falls Road to see the murals on International Wall. But only a handful of people are aware of the real history of Belfast.

They drive to the suburbs to understand the extent of the ethnic conflict that has shaped the city. Most visitors are unaware of what makes Belfast special. It is one of the few, if not the only city, in the western World that is considered almost entirely ethnically divided.

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