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Publications:  IALANA News March 2005 - Online Edition

Working Group for a United Nations Emergency Peace Service

Global Action to Prevent War (Global Action) continues to work on the prospects of adding another tool to the prevention toolbox: a rapid reaction United Nations service, alternatively termed a UN Emergency Peace Service (UN EPS).

Despite the need for the UN to move promptly to prevent genocide, "ethnic cleansing," and other crimes against humanity, or to take emergency actions following natural disasters and environmental accidents, the UN has no reliable capacity to move quickly, even if halting a catastrophe could save hundreds of thousands of lives. Genocide in Rwanda illustrates this incapacity, as do the killings of innocent people in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, the Sudan, and elsewhere.

The time has come to create a permanent UN Emergency Peace Service to ensure that the next preventable humanitarian disaster will not occur. If such a service had been established earlier, it probably could have prevented many of the atrocities that have killed millions of civilians, wounded millions more, forced tens of millions from their homes, destroyed entire economies, and wasted hundreds of billions of dollars. Of course, such a service would not be a panacea for security problems in general; indeed, it would be designed to complement -- not replace -- other essential national, regional, and United Nations efforts. Yet an emergency service could provide immediate, full protection in some crises and serve as an advance peace service that would also prepare the way for subsequent additional help, if needed, in larger conflicts -- a vital function that is not provided by any existing agency.

Because governments have not created the necessary UN capability, the responsibility for breathing life into the United Nations Emergency Peace Service now lies with civil society, working with allies in the UN and interested governments. Global Action is working with key partners in a Working Group for the establishment of such a service. We are researching the possibilities and challenges of such a service, and creating a plan for moving forward. Interested parties please contact coordinator@ globalactionpw.org

Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)
Global Action has joined the GPPAC, a network organization working on drawing out the roles of civil society in preventing armed conflict, and the connections between conflict prevention civil society organizations and the United Nations. GPPAC was established when the European Center for Conflict Prevention (ECCP) answered the call of the Secretary General in Recommendation 27 in his Report on the Prevention of Armed Conflict (2001). He asked NGOs “with an interest in conflict prevention to organize a conference of local, national, and international NGOs to determine the role of civil society in prevention and its relation with the work of the UN”.

The ECCP is now acting as the Secretariat for this work, and has identified 15 regions around the world, each with a regional initiator. The regions are each developing their own process for identifying recommendations to bring to the 2005 conference, and most have already held Regional Conferences and adopted regional recommendations. At the conference, NGOs, in discussion with supportive Member States and UN officials, will work out global recommendations on the role of civil society in conflict prevention, and an action plan to begin to implement those recommendations. All these will then be submitted to the UN. Working with the UN has the advantages of making sure they know what is happening at the local level, magnifying the audience and the potential for assistance on individual projects, and increasing the potential to influence the decisions that affect our lives.

The UN office of Global Action is working with the UN-NGO Conflict Prevention Working Group on logistics for a conference at the UN in 2005.

Security Council Resolution 1325
SC Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, a collaborative effort of NGOs introduced in the Security Council by Namibia, is approaching its fourth anniversary this October 31, 2004. This resolution, the first to mention women and security, says that women have a particular and crucial role to play in security, and that they must be involved in all aspects and stages of it. Importantly, it means that women must be at the negotiating table in conflict situations. The full implementation of Resolution 1325 is point number 9 of the Global Action Program and is one of our first five-year priorities.

The Working Group decided that Global Action could be most useful by: 1) Asking missions how their governments are implementing 1325 2) Assisting in disseminating material on 1325, including a survey for NGOs around the world that asks how 1325 is being implemented in their locale, and 3) Including 1325 in our advocacy work More information is available at: www.peacewomen.org and www.womenwarpeace.org

US National Steering Committee
The US National Steering Committee is developing a large public education campaign about war, peace, and international law and cooperation. This campaign will be aimed at two segments of the US population: young people who face possible military service, and older allies. The appeal to the young folks will be aimed at their feelings about serving in the military. It will work to bridge the gap between the self-oriented resistance the draft and an understanding that many other people their age are being forced to fight wars. The appeal to older allies will work to bridge the gap between resistance to the war and working for peace, by introducing practical plans for peace, like the Global Action Program Statement.


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