Archive for Peacebuilding

Creating Sustainable Peace and the Canadian Reaction to ISIL and terror in Canada

A recent article (Ottawa Attacks: Terrorists’ not who we think) in Canadian International Council’s website outlines that we may need to re-think our response to “terror” in Canada.Their article provides excellent insight into the situation at home and alludes to something we must also consider with regard to our overseas response.

Most of the press coverage of the war against ISIL portrays all of the members of ISIL as killers and rapists, even the coverage provided by ISIL themselves. This is how the “terror” tactic works. It causes instability and fear amongst the populous and creates doubt in any existing government’s ability to provide protection. Undoubtedly, there are some within the ranks of ISIL who are the leaders and showmen, who do whatever is necessary to strike fear into the people they encounter and who effectively duplicate their message to make us believe we should fear all of them. If we were to actually learn about the members of ISIL, we would likely find that the mayhem is led by a few individuals who use the US and Canadian bombing as a justification to prove the righteousness of their actions.

Let us remember that during WWW II, many Germans supported the ideology that was promoted by Hitler, not because they actually agreed with his methods or master goals, but because of some of the ideas that they felt would make their lives better. In addition, they were being fed propaganda about their enemy that justified actions they might not have taken otherwise. As individuals within a populous which they believed to be generally supportive of Hitler, they would not want to be seen as non-supporters for fear of loosing their status or their lives. While supportive of their leaders, certainly not all were as radical as the leadership and given the opportunity many would likely have stopped the fighting much sooner or chosen a different approach if they could see another path to the lesser goal of economic prosperity for the vast majority.

The same is likely true with ISIL. While many of their adherents may support the concept of a “new caliphate” and agree with their right to freely choose their religious and political path, it is also likely that most of the adherents do not rape or kill in the way that it has been portrayed in the media. Very likely the vast majority are the foot soldiers of a rebellion. Many of these foot soldiers, while supporting their rebellion, likely do not participate in the atrocities or in worst case do so to show their devotion to the cause when in the presence of radical leadership or others who they fear may turn them in for not supporting the movement. Such was the case for the Germans as well. The book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker, outlines many psychological experiments that demonstrate how normal people react more violently when surrounded by others who they suspect support a violent cause. » Continue reading “Creating Sustainable Peace and the Canadian Reaction to ISIL and terror in Canada”

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The Case of the Missing Development: Chapter 3 : “Where has all the money gone? Long time passing”

I had left off in the last chapter (“North to Gulu”) having described some of the challenges leading to the missing development in Uganda. But to be fair, development is not really missing, there’s just not enough going on to offset all of the challenges. Many NGOs are working towards solutions and, as mentioned earlier, most are staffed with local people who know the culture and who have the capability to help solve the problems. In addition, most of the credit has to go to the people themselves, who struggle day to day to fix their problems, to get back to living a normal life, to rebuild their homes, re-establish their farms, re-start their education, find jobs and make their lives a little easier. These are, for the most part, hard working people who are open to being assisted, not people who are addicted to being assisted.  The challenge for them is that without the tools and facilities that we take for granted, life is naturally difficult. But to find solutions, it was necessary to dig deeper into the challenges.

In this chapter, I’ll look at a few of these challenges in depth.

  • Impact of Disease
  • Education Systems
  • Where has all the money gone? 
  • Who are the perpetrators in this case?

The answers may surprise you…

  » Continue reading “The Case of the Missing Development: Chapter 3 : “Where has all the money gone? Long time passing””

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North to Gulu: The Mystery Deepens

This is the second in my series about my trip to Uganda. As in my first post in The Case of the Missing Development, I had many questions to answer about factors that were contributing to a lack of development. Many of my answers would come during my journey to Gulu. (if you haven’t read that post, go there first for context).

First, for any first time travelers to Gulu, if you don’t have your own vehicle or private transportation, your best bet is to take the postal bus north from Kampala. The postal bus is well maintained and safety is considered. If you have trouble mixing with the local people or if you are shy, you may find this your best bet since more ex-patriots travel on the postal bus. As for me, I enjoyed the trip north, but quickly learned to love being with the Ugandan friends and after my first trip on the postal bus, I began venturing out to the other bus lines on which I generally found myself alone as the only foreigner. It was great.

The Ugandan people are extremely friendly. One smile, a friendly hello and I always found myself in deep conversations. It was on the way up to Gulu for the first time that I met Joyce, a woman who worked for the church in Gulu and who later introduced me to Patrick, a young man who had extra room in his (rented) house and with whom I found not only a place to stay, but who became like a younger brother to me. Patrick, I later learned was one of the many children who was abducted by the LRA and ended up spending 8 years serving, first as a soldier at the age of 13 and then after being shot in the leg, he served in the LRA medical camp. I still keep in touch with him on skype and facebook. This was an opportunity to learn first hand about the war and about child soldiers.

Topics for today? First, reconciliation after the war, second, some of my thoughts on the economy and corruption… Read More » Continue reading “North to Gulu: The Mystery Deepens”

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The Mystery of Africa: The Case of the Missing Development

As a follow up to my internship for an MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding, I contemplated writing my final report, not as a thesis, but in the form of a mystery story, looking at how development had been stolen from the people of Uganda (and indeed other parts of the world) and examining the issue of Development and Aid Effectiveness.

Background to the Case

Billions have been poured into development and aid over the past 50 or more years since colonial Africa gained its independence. Despite the vast amounts of effort, the thousands of organizations and the maturing culture of development work as reflected most recently in the OECD’s Paris Declaration of 2005, the Open Forum’s Istanbul Principles on CSO Development Effectiveness, and the more recent joint meeting in Busan 2011 during which the OECD recognized the Open Forum’s efforts, the gap between rich and poor persists and the health, education and well being in many parts of the continent remain in a dismal state. Development, for many, has gone missing! People are suffering and dying as a result.

Who are the victims of the crime, who are the suspects and who are the perpetrators?

First, can we say it is a crime? Here I can only pose another question: If it is true that many people live on precious little, that children sometimes go malnourished, that many die from curable diseases, that government sponsored health care in many villages is almost imperceptible, that most children go without adequate education, that girls are mutilated (FGM) for “cultural” reasons, that HIV is rampant, that women are beaten or abandoned by their husbands without recourse to justice or compensation, that roads are near impassible and rarely fixed, that huge amounts of government and donor money end up in the hands of the certain elected officials who act with impunity, that police fail to act in many cases unless they get paid by the victims (or in some cases perpetrators), that government representatives become the prime examples of corruption, would you say there’s a crime going on? And can I be fair in making all these statements? I’ll examine most of these issues in future chapters. You be the judge.

In more practical terms, it is a question: Why are so many Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), government agencies, intergovernmental agencies and other organizations focused on Development and Aid Effectiveness and yet making relatively little lasting progress. Or is that really true at all? Why do the challenges of development seem so intractable? Are they?

What will it take to create sustainable solutions which reflect the needs of all the people of the world?

Not satisfied with just learning about the case, I wanted to live it, indeed, as a good detective, to solve it! Really?

Can a white guy from North America who had never been to Africa, in the space of a 6 month internship, find the solution(s) to a problem that millions, many of whom are much more clever, have failed to solve in 50 or more years? Doubtful.

So what can be realistically achieved? In my role as a participant, amateur detective, researcher and activist, I could at least learn some of what other people have learned through experience and research and then do my own research, add my own experiences and come up with my own theories. Add to that I could propose a few new concepts, share of a few ideas and, perhaps, take a few substantive actions. What is also clear is that this story is not the basis of my Academic report because it is far to broad in its scope.

My Journey Begins

In my attempts to investigate “The Case of the Missing Development”, I spent 6 months in Uganda from May to November 2012. Recently having returned to Ontario, I’m experiencing a little culture shock and a little temperature shock. But my enthusiasm for untangling the case hasn’t waned.

While I have found many answers, it can also be said that, each answer comes with a new question. While unraveling some aspects of the case, others become more perplexing.

Read on to investigate with me and share your comments ….

» Continue reading “The Mystery of Africa: The Case of the Missing Development”

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Human Security and Peacebuilding (Part 2)

I’ve just completed my first residency in the Human Security and Peacebuilding MA program.

To date, the program has been fascinating and it had a great cohort comprised of Diplomatic, Disaster Management and Business Consultants, Military Officers, NGO leaders and a few recent graduates all of whom were delightful people. What they share most in common is that they all deeply care what happens to other people in the world and they all share very unique perspectives on the world, born of their unique experiences. I’m looking forward to working with each of them in the field of action and learning.

What did we cover? Dr. Hrach Gregorian took us through topics such as Globalization in it’s many dimensions, Economic, Logistics, Global Security and the Right to Protect (R2P), Food Distribution, Global Financial Institutions, Civil Society Institutions, NGO’s, the UN, World Bank, G8, G20, IMF, Businesses and others, outlining the theme of how interconnected the world is. We looked at how even the best laid plans to make things better have unintended consequences on Human Security due to the complexity of linkages.

We looked at how Aid sometimes did more harm than good, and at the various examples of Truth and Reconciliation commissions, the history leading up to them, how they did their work, and the outcomes. » Continue reading “Human Security and Peacebuilding (Part 2)”

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Human Security and Peacebuilding

Among the many aspirations of my own life are personal goals for learning. My current learning initiative involves studies at Royal Roads University, a Masters degree in Human Security and Peacebuilding.

While I begin to dive into this effort, I hope to share with my readers some of the learning and insights I gain. This learning will focus primarily in one or more threads of articles, but I’ll be certain to ensure that all entries will be listed in the category of Human Security, Peacebuilding or both, along with the category on Personal Learning.

Learning at the best of times has been provided to us in the form of classes that are taught to us by our Teachers and mentors. In post school years, much of our learning is in books and for those who don’t read, it has been filtered down to a form of entertainment through news media and other forms of educational programs and documentaries. But excellence is ultimately developed through an on-going effort of learning through personal investigation, the application of learning in action, and the refinement of learning through reflection.

As I go through this program, I will periodically share thoughts on the learning process as well as the specifics of what I’m learning about.

My initial learning to date is opening my mind to the many contexts of globalization.

These include: economic, military, peace efforts, humanitarian efforts, water security, food security, industrialization, logistics, ecology, climate science, climate change mitigation, war, terrorism and other interdependencies which impact our current world situation.

Further to this is the consideration of formulating research questions in areas related to human security. What constitutes a good research program, how is it structured, how is it focused and what are the applications of it’s outcomes?

For now, I’m just started in the program (this is really my first day of immersion) so I’ll stop here.  There will be many more related entries to come over the next few years.

As I proceed, I will make an offer to any organization, be they business oriented, religious, social (NGO) or governmental, who are interested in learning more about human security or peacebuilding to share questions they might like to be researched in related areas, especially if they are willing to sponsor that research.

In addition, I would be very happy to speak to any organization on learning related to either my own research, my others areas of expertise in coaching, relationship development or leadership, or any other related topics. Not only will speaking act as a compliment to my studies but as an implicit contribution to my work as Executive Director at Partners for Prosperity whose goal is to create the capacity for global prosperity individually and within communities. Hopefully, it will also serve the dual purpose of supplementing my personal finances (which are limited while I study) while contributing to your organization’s collective wisdom and capabilities.

While I’m not yet in the position to adopt a specific research question, having access to a specific application of research outcomes certainly makes the effort more interesting.

Keep reading and keep learning,

Garth Schmalenberg

 

As always, if you wish to share this article, please feel free to do so.

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