Please wait...

Yemeni youth are the real heroes

The conflict in Yemen between the Iranian-backed Houthi-Saleh militias and forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi not only continues, but seems to escalate day by day. Aden, the second largest city in Yemen and home to 800,000 citizens, is seen as the last barrier to gaining control of the country for the opposing forces. As such, its fighting for survival. In response to a population in desperate need of medical supplies, water, food, and electricity all of which are in short supply, Hirak youth activists formed the Aden Rescue Campaign. “Comprised of young activists who have participated in the U.S.-facilitated Hirak Youth Project, the youth applied the organizational skills they developed through the various workshops to set their goals and implement an action plan to help citizens facing the dangers of war.” Despite ever-present danger, these young people have expanded both their network and assistance to meet the needs of their communities. Read full article.

Read more

Civil society open letter to the UN re women, peace and security

Read the open letter drafted by the civil society working group to UN members writ large. Bottom line up front: WPS needs to be taken seriously and things need to be fixed. It’s been 15 years fer cryin’ out loud!  The working group’s recommendations include: redoubling efforts to promote women’s participation, reviewing national and regional implementation efforts, providing sustained funding for the WPS agenda, focusing on implementing the prevention pillar rather than the practice to date of focusing primarily on conflict resolution and post-conflict rebuilding, ensuring accountability for atrocities and human rights violations, and leading by example to support a strong UN structure to deliver on WPS. I particularly support the final recommendation. When will the UN be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?  Read full letter.

Read more

Palestine: Women human rights defenders and peace builders are the way forward

Mairead Maguire, awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her extraordinary actions to help end the deep ethnic/political conflict in her native Northern Ireland, believes that women are key to bringing peace to Palestine and Israel. “Palestinian women know the high cost emotionally/psychologically/ physically and financially of the Israeli Military occupation and wars. Their solutions include working for an end to the repression and occupation, the right to self-determination, and a Palestine built on human rights and international law that deserves the support of fair-minded people around the world.” Read full article.

Read more

The role of women and gender in conflicts

This is one of the most comprehensive and well-researched reports on the topic of women and gender in conflict. Published by the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies (IEEE), this compendium covers a variety of topics including: the integration of gender perspectives into the analysis of armed conflicts and security, gender in military operations, women in armed conflicts and war, etc. Each chapter also includes an extensive and invaluable bibliography. Read this and become much smarter! Read full report.

Read more

All foreign policy should be feminist foreign policy

Yes, it should. Acknowledging the potential troubling implications of a “foreign policy that aims to speak, advocate and legislate for women in other countries by influencing the internal politics of those countries,” Bina Shah nevertheless diminishes this concern by highlighting feminism’s usefulness as the north star of foreign policy. The gendered nature of states and  their policies and apparatuses is discussed with a focus on the relationship between masculinity (in some cases machismo) and power.  Shah notes that ueber masculine states emphasize hegemony, war, and arms races and, moreover, establish a patriarchal status quo that concentrates power and resources in the hands of wealthy, male leaders. Redressing this situation will require a foreign policy that acknowledges the role of gender in how states identify, organize, and govern themselves. Since “[t]rue feminism addresses power structure and nation-building, distribution of resources, and human rights” and also epitomizes the principle of inclusion and equality for all, isn’t feminist foreign policy the way to go? Read more.

Read more

April Newsletter: For Better or Worse, Young People are Gamechangers

On 23 April 2015, J2adc9c59-9132-4e39-8c8f-4bcd21227481ordan will convene a Ministerial Open Debate at the UN Security Council on the “Role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace.” According to Ambassador Dina Kawar, “Jordan believes that young people are essential partners in countering violent extremism and promoting peace. That’s why we are utilizing our presidency of the Security Council to raise this important issue.”

GC360 agrees, but the story isn’t that simple. While young people (generally defined as those under 30) are key to countering extremism, they also perpetuate violent conflict and facilitate its expansion and escalation. As such, countering violent extremism requires a balanced view of youth that acknowledges their dual roles as promoters of peace as well as conflict.

Before the Islamic State took center stage, young people were largely absent in the minds of policy makers and others decision makers who determined how to stop conflict and transition to peace. Sure, projects to engage youth in sports or vocational training have been a staple of post-conflict programming. However, seeing youth as influencers who shape society and drive change has not been an agenda item. Until now.

In recognition of the game changers that youth are, GC360 recommends three pieces that examine them as peace builders, extremist militants, and potential terrorists.  Clearly, we’ve moved beyond the old adage “kids will be kids.”

Read the April Newsletter | Click Here to Subscribe

Read more

Islamic Law, Customary Law, and Afghan Informal Justice

The US Institute of Peace has produced another report about non-state justice filling a long-existing gap in rule of law literature.  It discusses the relationship between Islamic law and customary law noting that despite the apparent supremacy of Islamic law, the application of customary law is often preferred since it helps to maintain community relationships. The status of women under customary law is also addressed since this is considered by many to be its greatest weakness. It is well known that women are marginalized by customary law. Rights afforded to women by Islam, for example, are not extended under Pashtunwali.  While customary law is firmly entrenched in many parts of Afghanistan, surveys show that informal justice actors are open to overturning prevailing customary law to take a more Islamic legal approach to resolving disputes if  provided with education in Islamic law, especially as it concerns women and understanding gender-related norms. Read full report. 

Read more