News from WRI

23 May 2016
English

Samantha Hargreaves from WoMin - an African gender and extractives alliance - speaks to Andrew Dey from WRI about the links between gender, extractive industries and militarism in Africa, and what this new network is doing to counter it.

Tell us about your work – what is Womin, when did you form, and who makes up your network? What are the critical issues you are working on?

Samantha: WoMin was launched in October 2013. We work with about 50 allied organisations in fourteen countries across Southern, East and West Africa. Most partners are working on issues of land, natural resources, extractive industries, environmental and climate justice and women’s rights. Our work with women rights organisations has generally been challenged by their focus to more 'traditional' gender issues like violence against women, women and girl child education and health, with a small number working on the terrain of environment, land and other economic justice questions.

WoMin has a secretariat based in South Africa and a governing body representing all of the sub-regions we work in. Linking extractive industries, environmental and climate change and women’s rights is quite ground-breaking; in 2013 we found no organisations working directly on these intersections in Africa, and very few working on the same at the national level. WoMin is therefore filling an important political gap – we support women’s movement building which brings in an important economic and environmental perspective and we promote proposals addressing the developmental changes needed from a combined African, feminist, economic and eco/climate justice perspective.

WoMin Southern African women and coal exchange. Photo: Heidi AugestadWoMin Southern African women and coal exchange. Photo: Heidi Augestad

17 May 2016
English

Photo: Ruth Davey/www.look-again.orgPhoto: Ruth Davey/www.look-again.org

I spent the weekend in the good company of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), a European umbrella organisation campaigning for the rights of conscientious objectors. In their 30+ year history, EBCO have never before met in Britain. They chose to on this occasionat the invitation of the First World War Peace Forum, a group of British peace groups working to give an alternative, antimiltiarist view of the centenary memorials to the first World War, which in Britain have been an excuse for nationalism and militarism.

15 May 2016
English

Image: World Without War, Korea. Advertising a CO day bike action in support of conscientious objectors in jailImage: World Without War, Korea. Advertising a CO day bike action in support of conscientious objectors in jail

Today is International Conscientious Objection day - a day to celebrate those who have - and those who continue - to resist war, especially by refusing to be part of military structures.

Antimilitarist activists around the world are sharing the stories of conscientious objectors to military service, including over 700 imprisoned in South Korea, those in Venezuela struggling for the right to refuse military service in the Soy Civil No Militar (I am civil not military)campaign, and those who have been in prison in Eritrea since 1994.

The right to refuse to kill is recognised as part of the right to thought, conscience and religion, but many states ignore this. Conscientious objection is a nonviolent strategy against war, and the idea of conscientious objection has been used by those not subject to obligatory military service, in communities militarised in other ways. It's a way of reclaiming our own power, and taking a stand against war.

See a list of some of the events below. You can use the hashtag #CODay (o #díaOC en español) to spread the word about the day on social media.

You can use these sample tweets:

06 May 2016
English

Nick Buxton

For anyone concerned with militarism, news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels brought a familiar sense of dread. We ache as we hear the stories of more innocent lives lost, and we feel foreboding from the knowledge that the bombings will predictably fuel new cycles of violence and horror in targeted communities at home or abroad. It creates the binary world that neocons and terrorists seek: an era of permanent war in which all our attention and resources are absorbed – and the real crises of poverty, inequality, unemployment, social alienation and climate crisis ignored.

It was unusual, therefore, in March 2016 to hear President Obama in an interview with the Atlantic magazine, repeat his warning that “Isis is not an existential threat to the United States. Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.” While predictably ridiculed by the reactionary US Right, it seems to epitomise Obama’s seemingly more strategic approach on foreign policy – the so-called ‘Obama doctrine’ that seeks to entrench imperial power by firstly, in his own words, “not doing stupid shit” and secondly not ignoring the long-term challenges to US interests.

04 May 2016
English

International delegation went to Diyarbakır and Cizre

WRI Delegation visiting Co-Mayor Gültan Kışanak in DiyarbakırWRI Delegation visiting Co-Mayor Gültan Kışanak in Diyarbakır“Europe has failed us”, is the bitter statement often heard in South East Turkey currently. “We thought that Europe stood for human rights and peace, but unlike when there was war in Turkey in the 1990s, nowadays nobody cares what is happening to us”. An international delegation has visited South East Turkey.

25 Apr 2016
English

Original statement in Spanish

This year on the 22nd of March, the Bolivian Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (PCT) rejected the right of conscientious objection as an alternative to its obligatory military service. This has occurred in spite of the generally agreed-upon right to constitutional protection, brought to attention by 18-year-old objector Ignacio Orías Calvo, who claimed refuge under this fundamental right based on his religious beliefs.

This decision would not seem to follow the same logic of a government fostered by a constitution which, at least on paper, affirms that “Bolivia is a pacifist state, which promotes the Right to Peaceful Solutions and a Peaceful culture”. In actuality, what would appear to be a contradiction fits neatly within the patriarchal and militaristic confines that have characterized the Movement for Socialism of Bolivia (MAS), ever since its army first took root in the country.