UN call for ceasefires: Peace groups say ‘make them permanent’
In late March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger struggle against COVID19: the common enemy that threatens all of humankind. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war”, he said. “That is why …. I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.” The ceasefire would allow humanitarians to reach populations that are most vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19. A UN statement continued “It is the most vulnerable - women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized, displaced and refugees - who pay the highest price during conflict and who are most at risk of suffering “devastating losses” from the disease.” While some progress on ceasefires is reported in particular conflicts, a binding UN resolution to have a global ceasefire has been resisted by the USA and Russia.
Meanwhile various peace groups and coalitions have called for making such a ceasefire permanent and for demilitarisation. The International Peace Bureau (IPB), for example, called for a dramatic reduction in military spending in favour of money to go to health and meeting social needs, and launched a petition on this issue chng.it World Beyond War has a similar petition at worldbeyondwar.org and, incidentally, a useful new feature on ‘Mapping Militarism’ at worldbeyondwar.org
The War Resisters’ International (WRI) issued a statement which includes “It is unacceptable that even in the current situation, provoked by COVID-19, the mass media is presenting the military as an institution that has a great deal to offer in the effort to limit the damage from the virus. Nothing is further from the truth. Military personnel around the world are being assigned to a variety of tasks, such as disinfection of public spaces, purchase of medical equipment, or even the construction of field hospitals, which would be much better performed and managed by civilian workers and professionals. In many countries, military troops are also charged with keeping the “public order” and enforcing lockdowns, which is a function that armies in particular are not supposed to perform. It is equally disturbing to see politicians and the media worldwide often using militaristic imagery, likening the current situation to a war, thus justifying military presence in peoples’ everyday life.
Therefore, War Resisters’ International calls upon peoples and individuals all around the world to refuse to accept a narrow and xenophobic view of the current crisis, to cancel any further investment in the military and war preparations, convert the military industry to industry that will serve the purposes of public health, social and environmental needs, to reject the use of the military in any aspect of solving the crisis provoked by COVID-19, and, why not say it, abolish armies and warfare altogether in order to make the world a better, safer and more just place.” wri-irg.org
Afri famine commemoration live stream
On Saturday 16th May from 8pm – the day on which the annual Doolough Famine Walk was due to take place, Afri will host a virtual Famine Walk Forum with guest speakers, conversation and live music. The host will be campaigner and author Ruairí McKiernan; he will be joined by violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire, harpist Emer Lynam and singer, songwriters RoJ Whelan and Paul O’Toole, as well as guest speakers including Emeritus Professor John Maguire, author and lecturer Dr. Clare O’Grady Walshe, MASI member Donnah Vuma and student climate activist Gráinne Malone. The event is free to all and will be live-streamed to Afri's Facebook page, YouTube and Twitter accounts (links on home page of website). If you would like to contribute you can donate online at www.afri.ie Or you might consider doing a sponsored walk (within your geographical limit) or other activities. Afri hopes to ensure the 2020 walk takes places at a later date this year and will keep people posted.
Corrymeela executive director, paramilitary influence report
Corrymeela has appointed Tim Magowan as Executive Director, a post which he has held on an interim basis for over a year. Corrymeela changed its structure some years ago to have both an executive director and a Leader, the latter post being occupied by Alex Wimberley. See www.corrymeela.org
Academics based in Ulster University were commissioned by the Corrymeela Community on behalf of the Education Authority to conduct research on the theme of young people, youth work and tackling paramilitarism in Northern Ireland. The full report, written by Duncan Morrow and Jonny Byrne, is available on the Corrymeela website at www.corrymeela.org/news
MII highlights mediation success on financial services
The Mediators’ Institute of Ireland (MII) has highlighted the success rate for mediation in cases dealt with by the Financial Services & Pension Ombudsman (FSPO) in 2019; of the 1,399 complainants who received redress and/or compensation 983 of these were resolved through mediation, which MII indicates is 70%. “Success rates like these are building the reputation of mediation as a speedy, efficient, confidential and cost-effective process, which offers disputant parties the opportunity to determine the best outcome for them,” stated President of the MII Margaret Considine. She went on to say ““Indeed, Ger Deering, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, is quoted as saying “We deal with complaints informally at first, by listening to the parties and engaging with them to facilitate a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. In 2019, we resolved 2,154 complaints through our Dispute Resolution Service using informal mediation methods.”” MII website is at www.themii.ie and it has ‘Mediation tips for household peacemakers during the Covid-19 crisis’ at www.themii.ie
Front Line Defenders
Front Line Defenders, the Dublin headquartered body founded in 2001, has continued to expand its support to human rights defenders (HRDs) most at risk. In 2019, FLD provided rapid and practical support to 2,307 human rights defenders and 366 organisations in 117 countries. Through the Protection Grants programme alone, FLD provided direct support through 626 grants totalling over €1.5 million to HRDs facing urgent threats, an increase of 17% compared to 2018, and has mainstreamed wellbeing and psycho-social support across programmes. For more information including Dispatches 2019 and Global Analysis 2019 see www.frontlinedefenders.org
Financial Justice Ireland: Drop debt to save lives
Financial Justice Ireland, along with many organisations internationally, is campaigning for a Debt Jubilee (cancellation of debt) to allow governments in the Global South to properly tackle the coronavirus crisis. “Millions of people in some of the poorest countries in the world are facing a devastating health, social and economic crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, 69 low-income countries are due to spend $25 billion on debt payments in 2020 alone. Cancelling debt payments is the fastest way to free up existing public resources to tackle this devastating crisis. Additional emergency finance of up to US$ 73.1 billion is also needed.” They are calling on people to pressure the Irish government on this issue. /www.financialjustice.ie
Shannon LNG terminal planning permission invalid
The proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Shannon (for fracked gas) has been judged by the European Court of Justice to have invalid planning permission. This follows a legal challenge by Friends of the Irish Environment and is because the original permission was given without an environmental impact assessment having been carried out. See www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org
Ongoing US Military use of Shannon Airport unacceptable
Shannonwatch have stated they are appalled at the continuing use of Shannon Airport by US military troop carriers, despite the issuing of a stop movement order to the US military by US Defence Secretary Mark Esper on March 25th; this was intended to halt travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, however, troop carriers and other military/US intelligence-related planes continued landing at Shannon. “The ongoing use of Shannon Airport by the US army makes it, in effect, a US military outpost. This is contrary to the policy of neutrality we claim to hold, and almost certainly makes us complicit in war crimes” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. http://www.shannonwatch.org
ICCL supports right to protest
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has called for the government to review the decision to exclude (physically distant) protest from the list of reasonable excuses to leave home during the pandemic. The call comes as discrepancies arose between Garda treatment of protesters in Cork, Dingle, the Four Courts, and Henry St in Dublin. See www.iccl.ie
Coping in isolation: Time to think
The Troubles in Northern Ireland and the slow emergence from violence have been used as a learning tool in and for many different situations. However a new, very topical and practical one is a short (6 hours study) free Open University course on dealing with isolation based on the experience of former prisoners (featuring two ex-prisoners, one loyalist and one republican) and drawing on the OU ‘Time to Think’ project. Both informative and practical, it can be found at www.open.edu
EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium
The EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium has an e-learning course of 15 units on armaments and different aspects of warfare at nonproliferation-elearning.eu and while you may not agree with the approach on some issues you will certainly be better informed.
Human security, health and wellbeing – not military ‘security’
INNATE has a new poster in its downloadable series of (over 110) A4 posters for home printing. This reflects on the current coronavirus pandemic to call for “Spend money on human security.......not military ‘security’ “. Go to www.innatenonviolence.org and select ‘Human security’ [HS] from the alphabetical list.
Global Campaign on Military Spending
The Global Campaign on Military Spending, associated with the International Peace Bureau, has lots of infographics at demilitarize.org Their Global days of Action on Military Spending continues to 9th May. www.ipb.org
Yellow Card for Public Services Card
Both the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) have welcomed a 40-page letter from UN expert Philip Alston to the Irish State regarding the Public Services Card. The letter details the 20-year “confused and confusing” history of the project, highlighting in particular its disproportionate impact on poor and marginalised communities. ICCL’s privacy rights spokesperson, Elizabeth Farries, said: "This is a very important moment in the campaign against the Public Services Card. Last summer the Data Protection Commissioner asserted that the PSC project over-reach was illegal. Now we have a UN expert agreeing that there is a lack of clear legal basis for the card and that it is de-facto discriminatory. It is time to scrap this project, which has violated our fundamental rights for so long, for once and for all." DRI chair, Dr TJ McIntyre said: "As we await the Data Protection Commissioner’s report on the biometric aspects of the card, Mr Alston addresses that issue head on in his letter. He also addresses the government’s denial that the card has biometric properties. This is one of the key issues with the card: if your biometric data is accessed, stolen or hacked, there’s no going back." See www.iccl.ie which includes a link to the letter.
Doras on Ombudsman report about Direct Provision
The Doras (formerly Doras Luimní) response to the Ombudsman’s report on Direct Provision in the Republic can be seen at doras.org along with their thoughts on the 20th anniversary in April of the infamous Direct Provision system.
European State of the Climate 2019
The State of the Climate 2019 report from Copernicus Climate Change Service is available at climate.copernicus.eu
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