Archive for SSP related News and Videos

Myanmar Portraits of Diversity, a new project by Kannan Arunasalam

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Filmaker and journalist Kannan Arunasalam has launched last 15 July his new film Myanmar Portraits of Diversity, which brings the religious diversity in Myanmar into focus.

This project seeks to stimulate discussion and move audiences towards recognising, accepting and celebrating diversity in this country, featuring individuals that represent Myanmar’s different religious communities and making visible the kinds of inter-faith connections and engagement that take place naturally around this country.

Kannan Arunasalam uses documentary, photography and multimedia forms of storytelling. He was born in Jaffna (Sri Lnaka), grew up in London and returned to Sri Lanka in 2004. Kannan now splits his time between Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the United Kingdom. His work have been awarded and screened at international film festivals, winning awards and has been broadcasted on Al-Jazeera English language channel. His first film Kerosene won best documentary short at the South Asian International Documentary Festival 2013, Seattle; and his subsequent documentary short The Story of One won the inaugural Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation grant prize in 2013.

Myanmar Portraits of Diversity  trailer is already available and the complete film will be on line for free in the coming days at Facebook.

Facebook Page of the film

Youtube channel of the film

 

 

Peace, Democracy, Shared Societies and The Global Peace Index 2014

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Measurement is a crucial factor to foster the efforts towards building an effective Shared Societies. The project has been working during the last years on developing tools to measure different peace and democracy items, all of them relevant for a Shared Society. The latest is the 2014 Global Peace Index Report ‘Measuring Peace and Assessing Country Risk

The increasing interconnectedness of the global economy means that local actions and shocks can impact individuals, communities and businesses on an international scale. Just consider the widespread and lasting impacts of high youth unemployment in Europe, the Arab Springpolitical turmoil in Thailand, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing violence in Syria. Although these tend to confirm the old adage of change being the only certainty, there are clear benefits to being able to better anticipate such events with greater understanding providing us with a means to protect against, and alleviate the impact of economic and social shocks.

Although there are many methods of measuring sovereign risk there are few standard means of assessing risks as it pertains to violence, conflict and instability. We know many societal factors are adversely affected through higher interpersonal violence, terrorism, rising political instability, crackdowns on social, political and religious freedoms as well as increasing inter-state conflict. Similarly, improvements in social conditions and the economy can have a positive effect on peacefulness. Consequently, by analysing the interconnectivity between violence and societal dynamics, it is possible to develop risk estimates that improve on the accuracy of the existing techniques currently used and deepen our understanding of those factors which underlie peaceful and prosperous societies.

Recognizing this, the Institute for Economics and Peace has developed a new approach to assessing country risk as part of the 2014 Global Peace Index Report ‘Measuring Peace and Assessing Country Risk.’ By combining risk theory and quantitative analysis IEP has implemented frameworks to operationalise a series of risk models. The approach places a significant focus on understanding the trajectory and development of the long term institutions which support peace and observing how particular combinations of societal strength or ‘Positive Peace’ interact with violence and conflict.

The current approach, and resulting ‘Risk Scores’ have proven to be reliable in identifying the countries that were at risk and subsequently fell in peace. IEP Risk Scores can therefore be interpreted as the likelihood of a country deteriorating in peace in the presence of a trigger factor.

Broadly, IEP’s research found that the countries that will be at the most risk of economic loss, violence and societal breakdown tend to have lower levels of ‘Positive Peace’, the term used to describe the structures, attitudes and institutions that move society towards resolving conflict in a non-violent way. Nations with low levels of Positive Peace are less likely to remain flexible, ‘pull together’ and rebound in the face of crisis.

In fact, many of the societal factors defined by IEP that support peace also support the Shared Societies agenda of creating a society in which “people hold an equal capacity to participate in, and benefit from, economic, political and social opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, language and other attributes, and where, as a consequence, relations between the groups are peaceful…”.

Furthermore, IEP’s research found that not only do countries with stronger institutions have lower risks of experiencing an increase in violence over the next two years, but that democracies face the lowest risks. Specifically, it was found that the risk tends to be higher in regimes where there tends to be a deficit in political and social freedoms. In addition, it was found that although full democracies experience small deteriorations in peace, the likelihood of full democracies experiencing larger deteriorations is much lower.

Although the human costs of higher levels of violence provides a striking illustration of the importance of strong and accountable institutions, so too does the economic implications of peace. For instance, using IEP’s Global Violence Containment model, estimates were made of the economic impact of the projected falls in peace. From this the overall financial impact of a small to medium rise in violence was found to be greatest in South Korea, Indonesia and Argentina. Such an increase in violence would be equivalent to US$3.8 billion, US$3.7 billion and US$2.0 billion respectively.

However, perhaps most alarmingly, IEP estimated that 16 countries, or over 500 million people, live in countries with an IEP Country Risk score of more than 50, indicating a higher chance of experiencing a small to medium deterioration in peace over the next two years. For instance, if Angola, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea were to experience a ‘small to medium’ deterioration in peace they would experience an increase in their violence containment costs equivalent to $31.0, $10.6 and $10.3 per person respectively.

Although the findings provide a powerful illustration of the potential financial impacts of violence, one of the most important insights is the benefits that could be obtained through governments targeting policies which build Positive Peace. This is because, not only is excess expenditure in areas such as the military fundamentally unproductive, but by freeing up these resources more can be invested in activities such as health, education and infrastructure which encourage economic growth and improve wellbeing. In addition, societies which are peaceful, socially cohesive, stable and safe are undeniably worthwhile in and of themselves; they also make economic sense, with research by IEP consistently finding that more peaceful societies are also more resilient and prosperous.

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.

You can read more about the findings discussed in this blog by clicking here.

 

Global Peace Index interactive map: http://bit.ly/GPI2014

Global Peace Index report: http://bit.ly/GPIreport

Global Peace Index Video: http://bit.ly/GPIvideo

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The Importance of giving the opportunity to Indigenous People to participate in Politics.

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Since the appearance of democratic regimes in Latin-America, Indigenous Peoples have undertaking the tough work of fighting for their recognition and rights in all fields, especially the political and economic field. The policies that Latin-American countries have developed in terms of inclusion have been almost always without real consultation with the people themselves. These measures were more concerned to placate and include them in a culture of containment, not to preserve or restore their rights in relation to the land or the forest not to mention, their cultural heritage rights.

The declaration made by the Vice-President of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Álvaro Pop, highlights again the crucial need of continuing working to ameliorate the situation and the position of these Peoples in terms of inclusion by democratic and representative means. This Blog, created to emphasize and foster Ideas of Social Inclusion, continally argues that the only way to create a Shared Society is to accept ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity by requesting the necessary legal, constitutional and electoral framework changes required for granting inclusive policies, that will bring back benefits for us all.

In compliance with ILO’s Convention 169 of 1989 on the right to consultation by indigenous people, Peru passed the Ley del derecho a la consulta previa a los pueblos indígenas u originarios in 2011, becoming the first country in Latin America to guarantee by law that indigenous peoples would be consulted on decisions that could affect their rights, in the framework of inter-cultural dialogue. Taking into consideration Peru’s commitment, the Club de Madrid, Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Aplicación Práctica (CAAAP) and Comisión Andina de Juristas (CAJ) have proposed a multidimensional Project gathering all key stakeholders, to advance the use of the “Consulta Previa” Law, by promoting an enabling political and social environment.

Click here for more information

 

 

Boosting Solutions: Leadership in Africa

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During the 2014 Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank that took place in Kigali, Rwanda in May 19-23, 2014, a High Level was organized to discussed “Leadership for the Africa we Want“. Many of our African Members participated at this debate. This is a video-summary of the debate.

During the discussion, important actors speak about the opportunities and challenges of Leadership for and within Africa; Club de Madrid Members Benjamin Mkapa, President of Tanzania (1995-2005) and Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria (1976-1979, 1999-2007), Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, William Ruto, Vice-President of Kenya, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chair of the African Union Commission and Mo-Ibrahim, founder and chair of the Mo-Ibrahim Foundation. The ideas may be familiar but they give us a lot to think about in terms of how to move forward to a Shared Society through Leadership.

Take a look at it, it is worthy, straight forward. The ideas may be familiar but they give us a lot to think about in terms of how to move forward to a Shared Society through Leadership.

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Myanmar faces Buddhist-Muslim Ethnic Tensions in its Transition to Democracy

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Tensions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and other regions have manifested in violent outbreaks in the past two years since June 2012, calling international attention to the high level of ethnic tension between the Muslim Rohingya and the Buddhist majority.

A recent Report of the Thailand-based human rights organization Fortify Rights, directed by Matthew Smith, Policies of Persecution: Ending Abusive State Policies Against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar claiming to disclose the legal documents used to discriminate against Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. The release of this report comes at a delicate time, as Myanmar braces for its first national census in thirty years.

The report is based on twelve internal government documents detailing “restrictions on movement, marriage, childbirth and other aspects of everyday life,” eight of which delineate official policies targeting Rohingya, the group says. These include three Rakhine State regional orders and five addenda to those orders. Fortify Rights claims that although these were produced between 1993 and 2008, years of military dictatorship in Myanmar, their policies remain in effect today. The four other documents relating to Muslim citizens outside Rakhine State are not presented in the report but the organization claims that they are dated 2013 and “instructive as background findings.”

In a press release Smith claims that,

“The government is systematically persecuting Rohingya on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and at times gender.”

Fortify Rights maintains that the Rohingya population of 1.33 million is largely stateless and deprived of basic human rights, and that the Burmese government denies the existence of a Rohingya ethnicity. The organization also adds that the government tends to frame issues relating to the population as matters of national security, overpopulation and illegal immigration.

While the government has made efforts to stop further outbreaks of violence in the country through ceasefire agreements with armed minority groups, and the international community has acknowledged violence and displacement, the report explains that there has been a failure to address the “devastating systematic abuses perpetrated against the Rohingya on a daily basis.” In other words, Fortify Rights asserts that because it is a normalized phenomenon authorized by legal documents, everyday social exclusion often fails to draw international attention.  

The documents put forth by Fortify Rights can provide a basis for negotiation on which Myanmar can focus on an equitable society. Institutions and legal framework as safeguards for the protection of individuals’ rights and the governmental obligation to maintain these institutions are pillars of the commitments of the Shared Societies Project. Discrimination and exclusion that derives in some way from legal documents and institutions can be fought through legal and institutional means.

“I don’t understand”

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Club de Madrid is partnering with Partnership for Change for the 2015 General Assembly/Annual conference, and they have adopted the Shared Societies Approach as a framing concept for its work.

In their last conference in Oslo on 15th May this year they devoted one stream throughout the day to Shared Societies.  Participants from Club de Madrid, the UN agencies, Search for Common Ground, the business community and Norwegian civil society explored what this concept really means.

The discussions spend some time considering the distinction between, on the one hand, tolerating people different from our selves but trying to mould them to be just like us, and on the other hand really being open to the other, welcoming them, respecting their dignity, and valuing them in their own identity.  The latter of course builds a Shared Society and helps the other person to feel at home and confident to take their share of the responsibility for the community.

One person told a nice story which captured the distinction.

An immigrant came into a library in Oslo and asked the librarian “What height am I?”  The librarian told him and he went away.  The next day a number of other immigrants came in and asked the same question “What height am I?”

It turned out that they had been registering with a doctor and had been asked this question.  They did not know the answer or even what the question meant, but they did not feel confident enough to ask for an explanation.  But they knew the library was a place to get information and that the staff would be understanding and accepting.  The librarian had conveyed their respect for the dignity of the other person, which the health centre had not been able to convey.  I am sure that the health service staff were kind and caring and that the individual would receive good treatment.  But if they are to use the services of the health centre there needs to be this extra dimensions which is harder to define and harder to apply.  At its root it means connecting to the person as a person, not a client or number, and showing we are willing to listen even in the midst of our busy routine.

There is a message in this for the drafters of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It is not simply identifying targets for the desirable level of service: the number of schools or health clinics or the access to jobs.  The actual provision is important but it only achieves the goal when people can use the services in a confident self-defining way.  We know too many stories of new health centres which were established in remote areas, but were not used because the planners had not listened to the local community and take into account their culture and values and provided the service in a culturally sensitive way.

This is why the Members of the Club de Madrid are advocating the importance of including a goal on good governance and, within that, the importance of the participation of those affected in planning and implementing policies.  Such a goal is not a means to judge states on their current standards of governance but to ensure that they provide the services they themselves want to provide for their citizens in ways that make them effective.  And that no one walks away because they do not feel able to say “I do not understand” or “I do not feel comfortable”.

Photo Credit: Hatford Public Library

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