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Editorial
Last Updated: 10/19/2004
Messages Received


This month the editorial brings you, without comment, a range of messages received: More on the World Peace Forum proposals, An Essay Contest on South Asia, The Human Security Bulletin and an open letter on Macedonia.


 

World Peace Forum 2006 Preparatory Conference

November 26-27, 2004

 Vancouver, B.C.

 

Cities and Communities: Working Together to Stop War, and Build Peace and Justice

 

Vancouver City Council has adopted in principle the proposal that a World Peace Forum be held in Vancouver in June 2006 in conjunction with the World Urban Forum.  As part of the preparations for such a forum, a conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, November 26-27 in Vancouver, Canada.  The objective of this conference is to discuss a draft vision and program for World Peace Forum 2006 and to network on current issues facing the peace movement including building solidarity with the people of Iraq, abolishing nuclear weapons, and stopping Canadian participation in Ballistic Missile Defence (star wars).  The conference will include both plenary sessions and workshops.

 

(If you know of others who may be interested in this conference, please feel free to pass on this invitation.)

 

For further information and/or to register, please contact:

 

Tania Aguila, Office Administrator,

World Peace Forum Society,

11 - 1880 Triumph Street, Vancouver, B.C.,

Canada V5L 4C4

Tel: 604 687 3223

Email: admin@worldpeaceforum.ca

 

Sponsored by: City of Vancouver Peace and Justice Committee and the World Peace Forum Society, in partnership with the Simons Foundation.

______________________________________________________________

SOUTH ASIA ESSAY CONTEST

 

Strategic Foresight Group

announces

an essay contest

on

 

Individuals in Action: The Role of Common Citizens in Transforming South Asia

 

The objective of the South Asia essay contest is to invite ideas for action by common people to transform their own societies: Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan and India.

 

The essay should address the question: What can be done to transform the society in order to overcome the problems of corruption, injustice and inefficiency in the delivery of public goods? The essay should discuss the actions individuals or small groups can take to bring about transformation. The essay should not consider the actions that large organisations can undertake given their greater resources.

 

The essay should reflect the reality and the experiences of society in any of the South Asian countries along with ideas or actions for change. The essay should be forward looking and explore initiatives for the future.

 

The last date of submission is December 31, 2004.

 

Check our website www.strategicforesight.com for further information.

 

Prizes

First Prize: US$ 1000

Two Second Prizes: US$ 500 each

Certificates of Merit: 

Top five entries from each South Asian country

Top five entries from non-resident community

___________________________________________________________

 

THE HUMAN SECURITY BULLETIN

The Human Security Bulletin is the flagship publication of the Canadian Consortium on Human Security (CCHS). The Bulletin, which features timely, informed and concise information and analysis, is a core part of the CCHS mandate to facilitate the exchange of information and analysis on human security issues. 

 This issue of the Human Security Bulletin features a country in crisis - Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan presents itself as one of Canada's most complex human security challenges, particularly in the run-up to Afghanistan's first presidential elections next month.  

 The September issue also provides an update on CCHS-related news, including the announcement of new staff; information on an upcoming CCHS-funded workshop - 10 Years After: Lessons From Rwanda for the Women, Peace and Security Agenda; and new products, namely the Human Security Gateway and Human Security News. The Conflict Profile examines the Afghan crisis through a human security perspective, focusing on key human security statistics, Canadian initiatives, editorials from both academics and non-governmental organizations, field notes, and a compilation of leading human security resources documented in the past two months. 

 A new format and publication schedule is being implemented at CCHS. The new monthly publication schedule has been revised from the previous quarterly issues to respond to the increased use of the Internet to access information on a more timely basis, the CCHS's desire to provide a broader range of material on topics of interest to Bulletin readers, and to better reflect the dynamic nature of present conflict situations. Featuring English and French contributions, the Conflict Profile will be a regular feature of the Human Security Bulletin. 

 To link to the September issue of the Human Security Bulletin, click here.

 The CCHS encourages comments and suggestions on the Human Security Bulletin and welcomes submissions for upcoming issues. Next month the Human Security Bulletin will profile Sudan

 Wendy McAvoy

Managing Editor

 

Canadian Consortium on Human Security

cchs.hq@ubc.ca / www.humansecuritybulletin.info / www.humansecurity.info

___________________________________________________________________

Distinguished Members of the European Parliament:

 

Since 2001, the Republic of Macedonia has been facing the daunting challenge of simultaneous democratic transition and post-conflict peace-building. Thanks to the support of the international community and the citizens’ determination to preserve peace, the country has become the most successful example of post-conflict reconstruction. Unfortunately, it seems that the upcoming binding referendum to be held on 7 November 2004 is raising unprecedented international alarm. Understanding your friendly attention and concerns, we take this opportunity to offer a different citizens’ perspective on the situation and prospects for peace and democracy in the Republic of Macedonia.

 

The success of the recent referendum petition on the Law on Territorial Organization was neither an isolated phenomenon nor an outcry of Macedonian ethno-nationalism. The referendum, being a constitutionally guaranteed form of direct democracy, appeared to be the last resort of citizens to make their voices heard. The organic Law on Local Self-Government was adopted in 2002 along with approximately thirty other accompanying laws concerning decentralization, none of which faced public opposition. A vast majority of citizens expected to finally see local democracy get in place together with greater and sustainable development in their local communities. Instead they faced great disappointment, which can best be accounted for by pointing out the main deficiencies of the political and legal process related to the controversial Law:

 

-         The ruling coalition did not provide application of Article 4.6 and Article 5 of the European Charter on Local Self-Government, which signatory is the Republic of Macedonia. It ignored the results of 41 local referenda that had rejected the proposed solutions on their municipalities’ boundaries and did not organize forms of prior consultation with the local authorities;

 

-         The debates among national and international experts and civil society and their recommendations were ignored for months. These findings underscored the need for a methodology based on criteria that would provide for a balance between expanded competences, available financial means, and prospects for sustainable development. Instead, the Law, as passed, promoted ethno-political criteria as well as gerrymandering resulting in peculiarly shaped municipalities;

 

-         The negotiations within the government took place in a non-transparent manner with a total disregard of the concerns raised by the public. This gave rise to public scepticism and distrust. The government rhetoric implied that negotiating the municipal boundaries had been a ‘zero-sum’ game, thereby creating a picture of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ within the coalition - and eventually in the entire country;

 

-         The negotiations overlooked the basic principle of the Framework Agreement, according to which there are no territorial solutions for ethnic problems. In addition it disregarded the Agreement’s requirement according to which revision of municipal boundaries was to involve local governments, central authorities, and representatives of the international community;

 

-         Finally, artificial combinations of rural and urban communities do not guarantee sustainable development according to citizens’ specific needs. Local democracy remains a vague goal, especially in a society that this process made antagonized and estranged from the political government.

 

The Macedonian citizens from all walks of life and across the divides have shown unprecedented political maturity when managing to articulate and channel their accumulated dissatisfaction with the government’s solutions by entirely constitutional means. Perhaps to the surprise of many, the citizens have risen to this challenge and have - for the first time in many years - proven able to support participative democracy according to the highest European standards. Having expressed their legitimate disapproval, the citizens also helped defuse many other accumulated frustrations in a most suitable way. They do not express sentiments that are anti-Albanian or against the Framework Agreement; the picture indicates intra-ethnic tensions (among the ethnic Macedonians) rather than inter-ethnic ones, as well as a dispute between the citizens and their political representatives.

 

Like the populace of many countries, who are now on the eve of the referendum vote on the European Constitution, the Macedonian citizens are also facing an important referendum. The exertion of external pressures - even joining anti-referendum campaigns - not only takes the side of the government versus the citizens but also promotes counter-productive action that may have negative effects and heat up the general atmosphere. The Republic of Macedonia has repeatedly proven its determination to join European and Euro-Atlantic organisations. The citizens cherish a sincere wish to become part of the European demos as well as to contribute to the European identity with the rich variety of ethnicities, cultures, and languages it embraces within its national territory. A people with such a strategic goal does not deserve to be subjected to internal or external pressures, scary rhetoric or misleading accusations about alleged fostering of conflict scenarios.

 

A successful referendum would be a lesson learnt in participative democracy and thus a significant step towards Europe. It will re-open the political process over the issue of territorial organisation, so as to provide for a better societal and political atmosphere, respect for and better appreciation of expert advice, inclusive forms of citizens’ participation, and well-grounded methodologies for lawmaking. Democracy is always about alternatives: those who claim that there is only one way or solution have serious problems with their understanding genuine democracy.

 

Hoping to meet your full understanding and support for a peaceful and democratic process in the eve of the referendum, and especially in its aftermath,

 

We take this opportunity to express our highest appreciation,

 

                                    CIVIC MOVEMENT OF MACEDONIA