http://www.etan.org Peace Writes October 1999

Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

No 1999/3
October 1999

 

THE HUMAN RIGHTS STAGE
East Timor
Aboriginal Reconciliation
SUPPORT FOR PEACE STUDIES
RESEARCH at CPACS
1. Reconciliation Business: Women at Work;
2. Justice and Reconciliation: Post-Conflict Peace-building in Cambodia and Rwanda;
3. Needs for
Australians with Disabilities;
4. Mentoring the Unemployed;
5. Educating for a culture of peace;
6. Year 2000 for the Culture of Peace.

CONFERENCES
Women’s Lives, Women’s Work: Culture and Development in the Pacific
CPACS SEMINARS
1. Indonesia – Towards a Culture of Peace
2. Kosovo Teach-in
3. Conflict Resolution in North and South Korea
TEACHING
Certificate, Diploma and Masters programmes in
Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Sydney
ON THE PEACE TRAIL
Coogee-Bondi Walk
 

THE HUMAN RIGHTS STAGE

EAST TIMOR

An Opinion Piece by Wendy Lambourne

Successive Australian governments have followed a policy of pursuing good relations with Indonesia, often at the expense of other foreign policy goals. This was apparent when the Australian Government tacitly supported the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor in 1975, officially recognised Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor as its 27th province, and maintained strong economic and military ties with Indonesia despite the continuing evidence of human rights abuses in East Timor. After the Dili massacre of 12 November 1991, it became clear that the Australian Government’s emphasis on short-term national economic and strategic interests at the expense of international ethical principles had “failed to serve the long-term interests of Australia, the East Timorese, and the nations of the world”.

The failure of Australian foreign policy towards Indonesia has been further illustrated by the recent tragic events in East Timor. The efforts of the Australian Government, supported by the United Nations, to promote a self-determination ballot for the East Timorese were successful, except for the trust placed in the Indonesian Government to maintain peace and security. The nations of the world are struggling to deal with the crisis in East Timor, putting together a peacekeeping mission which the Indonesian Government was slow to sanction.

The doctrine of humanitarian intervention, whilst not universally accepted, suggests that nations should be able to intervene in the affairs of another state when human rights are being grossly abused such as to “shock the conscience of mankind”. The catch was that the UN Security Council could not authorise intervention under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter because China would not support intervention against the will of Indonesia. However, it could be argued that there was a case for unilateral or multilateral humanitarian intervention with or without UN approval, especially if it could be argued that what is occurring in East Timor amounts to genocide. Those targetted by the militia are East Timorese independence supporters, a grouping both political and ethnic. Even though the Genocide Convention does not include in its definition of genocide “acts with the intention to destroy a particular political group”, this did not deter the international community from eventually defining as genocide the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus who supported the incumbent Hutu president (a grouping that was also both political and ethnic).

It seems that what stopped the international community from early intervention in East Timor was not just respect for state sovereignty, as evidenced by the intervention in Kosovo earlier this year, nor was it lack of evidence that massive human rights abuses (if not genocide) were occurring. It was a lack of political will to challenge the Indonesian Government and bear the consequences. What is needed is a re-evaluation of foreign policy priorities to recognise that acting on moral or ethical grounds is in the long-term interests of all. Mary Robinson’s call for a commission of inquiry or international criminal tribunal to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity perpetrated in East Timor could be a step in the right direction. 

Useful websites:     
http://www.un.org/peace/etimor/etimor.htm
                           

ABORIGINAL RECONCILIATION

Over the past nine years the Australian Government and the people of Australia have been pursuing an extraordinary project of reconciliation between non-indigenous and indigenous peoples of this country. The formal process was initiated following the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and in 1991 the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was born. The Council comprises 25 community leaders drawn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the industries which have most impact on Aboriginal people and from business and other sectors. A network of Australians for Reconciliation coordinators has been established across Australia, and hundreds of local reconciliation groups have been formed throughout the country. The Director of CPACS Professor Stuart Rees and Stella Cornelius of the Conflict Resolution Network are both members of the NSW Committee for Reconciliation. So too CPACS committee member Wendy Lambourne, who is a volunteer facilitator with the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in Sydney.

In 1997 the landmark Australian Reconciliation Convention was held in Melbourne with the release of “Bringing them Home: The Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families”, commonly known as the Stolen Generations Report. The report called for apologies from the governments of Australia for the pain and grief caused to Aboriginal people separated from their families under Government policies. But the Prime Minister, John Howard, told the Reconciliation Convention on 26 May 1997 that “Australians of this generation should not be required to accept guilt and blame for the past actions and policies over which they had no control”. Despite the Prime Minister’s refusal to apologise, seven of Australia’s nine Parliaments subsequently passed motions of apology expressing deep and sincere regret for the hurt and distress suffered by indigenous people as a result of the policies of forced separation. And on 26 May 1998 thousands of Australians offered apologies on the first National Sorry Day and nearly one million people signed “Sorry” books.

In October 1998, Senator Aden Ridgeway became the second indigenous Australian to be elected to Federal Parliament. In his maiden speech on 25 August 1999, Senator Ridgeway called for the Government to renew its commitment to reconciliation. He argued that an apology was central. As a result Prime Minister John Howard put a motion to Federal Parliament the following day expressing:

“deep and sincere regret that indigenous Australians suffered injustices under the practices of past generations, and for the hurt and trauma that many indigenous people continue to feel as a consequence of those practices.”

This move by the Prime Minister was lauded as a significant step towards reconciliation by some Aboriginal community leaders, but was rejected by others as insincere and insufficient as he failed to say “sorry”.

But reconciliation is about more than apologies - it is also about social justice.

To this end the Council has produced a draft Document for Reconciliation comprising a Declaration for Reconciliation and National Strategies for Reconciliation. The four proposed national strategies address the need to promote greater economic independence and self-reliance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to overcome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage, to promote recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, and to sustain the reconciliation process. During the latter half of 1999 this draft document is open for public discussion and nation-wide consultation meetings are being held. In May 2000 the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation will convene a major national event to launch the final proposals for a Document for Reconciliation based on the feedback it receives from the Australian people.

To participate in the public consultation process, contact Australians for Reconciliation in Sydney on 1 800 060 266.
The Council’s webpage is http://www.austlii.edu.au/car/

Reconciliation Reading:

Brian Frost, Struggling to Forgive: Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s Search for Reconciliation, London: HarperCollins, 1998.
Norman C. Habel
, Reconciliation: Searching for Australia’s Soul, Sydney: HarperCollins, 1999.
Partnerships in Reconciliation: It’s up to us (1999), from the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation on 1800 807 071, outlines process, partnership and progress in reconciliation.


SUPPORT FOR PEACE STUDIES

By CPACS Director Professor Stuart Rees

Having returned from a three month trip of Europe and North America, I observed that the study and attainment of peace with justice is being taken very seriously for three reasons:

Firstly, there is evidence of alliances between business, universities, churches and media to foster the knowledge about, and skills of, reconciliation. Secondly, major British and American companies, aware of their social responsibilities, are developing educational and training programmes in line with this new awareness. Thirdly, leaders in the media are promoting the idea that the study of peace and non-violence is a new responsibility for them in the twenty-first century. All these cases reveal evidence of alliances across discipline and occupational boundaries. My observations are based on visits to International Alert, and the Prince of Wales Forum in the UK, the Coventry Centre for the Study of Reconciliation, and the Carter Peace Centre in the USA.

In each of these examples, jobs in the field of peace research are being created and impressive financial investment is being made. The trigger of Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Indonesia, East Timor, apparently makes political, business and educational leaders believe that peace research and advocacy saves lives and money. Hence, for pragmatic reasons, the pattern of interest should look different in the new millennium. This was borne out by Desmond Tutu during my meeting with him in September. He is currently at Emory University in the USA where, as Candler Professor of Theology, he teaches on the work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and how that work is bolstered by spiritual and theological considerations. He told me:

You need courage to practise peace. You need the support of the people at all levels, including politicians. And you need the interest and support of the media all over the world. I will speak about this when I come to Sydney in November to accept the Sydney Peace Prize.

Desmond Tutu, September 1999


RESEARCH at CPACS

1. Reconciliation Business: Women at Work

by Lynda-ann Blanchard, Research Officer, CPACS

In June this year I was invited by the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute (GSCI) to the Northwest Territories of Canada to carry out a comparative study about the role of women within the context of Gwich’in self-determination.
The Gwich’in are indigenous to the Arctic regions of Canada and reside in four communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic.

These communities all fall within the Gwich’in Settlement Area that was established by a land claim agreement signed in 1992 by the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) and the Canadian Government. The same year, community members urged the GTC to establish an organisation dedicated to the reversing decline of Gwich’in culture and language. The GTC responded by establishing GSCI whose mandate is to document, preserve and promote the practice of Gwich’in culture, language, traditional knowledge and values. As well as conducting research into Gwich’in oral history, writing Gwich’in dictionaries and organising culture camps on the land, GSCI is currently negotiating self-government provisions in the areas of culture and language, education and training, health, justice and economic development.

GSCI’s research office is in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories with a population of 15,000. Director of Research, Ingrid Kritsch, showed me around the land which has winter lows of a chilly –45 degrees and pointed out all the houseboats on Great Slave Lake where people live year round.

A $800 plane ride, 200km drive and half-hour boat trip away is GSCI’s head office in Tsiigehtchic; a tiny isolated community of 180 people perched on the undulating banks of the Arctic Red River. Alestine Andre, executive director of GSCI who was born in this community, welcomed me to her home set in a peaceful land of stunning beauty. This is a land where pine trees are grow no taller than 1.5 metres; where bald eagles soar in the pure air; where cranes graze on the river’s edge, jackfish fill the fishing nets, and moose, bears and caribou prowl silently. Even the bugs bite without murmur.

The summer sun is high at midnight, at a time when the Gwich’in like to laugh and dance. There is a great sense of community amongst these people, who provide for elders and share the responsibility for feeding and raising children. There is a community fridge in the centre of town filled with fish, caribou and moose hunted by the community throughout the year. Communal feasting is common.  During one such lunch on my first day I met Chief Grace Blake.

For the next two weeks I worked closely with the chief from her Band office. In re-writing the Land Claim Agreement Grace Blake wished to unmask clauses which empowered the Band and to cross-reference the document in order that legal jargon be understandable to elders/residents so that they could access their claim and determine its effect. While I worked on transcribing the document – “I’m so glad you’re here Lynda, I was going blind with that computer” – I listened to the rhythms of the community. This chief, who had never travelled from her land, showed wisdom and strength in her role as leader: “Ten years ago the Government saw us as an indigenous community in demise – but today our population had doubled” Grace beamed.

2. Justice and Reconciliation: Post-Conflict Peacebuilding in Cambodia and Rwanda

Wendy Lambourne is writing a PhD on “Justice and Reconciliation: Post-Conflict Peacebuilding in Cambodia and Rwanda”. In 1997-98 she was a Visiting Scholar at George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. In the latter half of 1998 she spent five weeks in Africa attending the IPRA General Conference in Durban, South Africa, and conducting her field research in Kigali, Rwanda and Arusha, Tanzania. Her research involved investigating the attitudes of Rwandans towards international efforts to promote justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, focussing on the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She also visited the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town, the Centre for the Study of Violence & Reconciliation in Johannesburg, and the Nairobi Peace Initiative in Kenya. She also spent a few days in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, where she witnessed the efforts of the local people to rebuild peace after 16 years of civil war.

In October this year Wendy plans to conduct her field research in Cambodia to find out more about Cambodian attitudes towards justice and reconciliation, especially in the light of recent moves to bring to justice the former Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for the genocide of 1975-78 under Pol Pot.

3.  Needs of Australians with Disabilities

This is a joint pilot research project devised by Centacare and CPACS. Centacare has provided funds for an enquiry guided by Professor Tony Vinson (CPACS) and Bill Johnston (Centacare) to identify how different societies fund and provide continuity of care for those with intellectual disabilities.

4. Mentoring the Unemployed

This collaborative research project with the Conflict Resolution Network (CRN) is taking a reflective pause.  Research assistant Michael Jacques has sought interesting material in completing the first stage of the project. Discussion is underway as to how to reproduce the research findings, perhaps as an interactive website "Work For All Who Need It"?  unemployment

5.  Educating for a culture of peace

CPACS member Jim Page has commenced work with Unesco in Paris, designing curriculum tied to the theme of Educating for a Culture of Peace. This is part of the UN’s initiative for next year’s International Year for the Culture of Peace (IYCP2000).

6.  Year 2000 for the Culture of Peace

Conflict Resolution Network is encouraging organisations to dedicate appropriate programs to IYCP2000.

An evolving array of projects can be viewed on their website: www.crnhq.org


CONFERENCES

Women’s Lives, Women’s Work: Culture and Development in the Pacific

Shelley Wright, visiting professor at the Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives (CAPI), University of Victoria, Canada, convened this conference in May. Speakers from diverse backgrounds within the pacific region: Saanich, Okanagan, Tsleil-Wantuth, Waitaha Nations, Fiji, Australia including writers, academics and community elders took part in interdisciplinary workshops on the topic of women, culture and development. Lynda-ann Blanchard from CPACS, thanks CAPI for sponsoring her to participate.


CPACS SEMINARS

1. Indonesia – Towards a Culture of Peace

On 22 September, Robert Howell, a specialist in peace and conflict resolution, presented a seminar based on his recent trip to Indonesia. As clerk of the ANZ Quaker Peace and Service Indonesia Committee, he recently attended an International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development in Bali. Topics included: the adoption in Indonesia of international statutes to assist the protection of human rights, the roles of the Indonesian military and police, the issue of systemic corruption, the problem of regional conflicts, and the potential for a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation process.

After the conference, Howell met Herb Feith at the Centre for Security and Peace Studies at Gadjah University, Yogyakarta, and learnt of the Centre’s work with the Indonesian Police Service and their mediation, conflict resolution and problem solving techniques. Howell’s central message was that the Indonesian Police are aware of the political change in Indonesia, and are willing to move towards a more civilian, less military style of training, operations and culture. This requires the assistance from all around the world, and provides the opportunity for those working for peace and reconciliation to contribute time, money and skills to interactive projects and research.

Ken Macnab, President CPACS

2. The Kosovo Teach-in of 11 June

This was well attended by academics, representatives from a range of non-government organisations involved in providing humanitarian aid to Kosovo, community representatives, school and university students, and other interested persons including CPACS members. Here was an opportunity to listen, learn, exchange ideas and raise concerns in a climate where participants struggled with the impact of the war and the preservation of individual human rights.

3. Conflict Resolution in North and South Korea

On 21 September, Scott Snyder from the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC presented a CPACS seminar co-hosted with the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific. Snyder argued that crises form the catalysts for reconciliation. For example, recent concessions by the US Government to ease sanctions against North Korea, in exchange for missile control, occurred largely because both sides were looking for solutions to overcome crises. For the Koreans the crisis was chronic food shortages; for the Americans it was the threat of missile attacks.


TEACHING

The CPACS Masters level course “Peace and Conflict: Understanding the Issues” is being taught this semester by Mary Lane of the Social Work Department with the assistance of Alec Pemberton, Jane Fulton and Wendy Lambourne. The weekly class looks at sociological theories of conflict, understanding violence, peace, and concepts of apology, forgiveness, reconciliation and justice. Case studies include environmental conflict, Aboriginal reconciliation, and peace building in N. Ireland and S. Africa.

Certificate, Diploma and Masters programmes in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney

Included in the list below are two new courses:

Peace-Building Media: Theory and Practice co-developed by the Conflict Resolution Network and analyses the ways in which media can act to promote just peace.

Resolving Conflicts within Organisations explores conflict/consensus theories and the meaning of politics within organisations. It will examine cultures which unmask the relevance of peace with justice in the workplace.

Units of study for the Year 2000

Semester 1:
SCWK6901 Power, Citizenship and Civil Society: Theories of Welfare and Wellbeing
 SCWK6034 Resolving Conflicts within Organizations

Semester 2:
SCWK6917 Practice Development
SCWK6035 Peace-Building Media: Theory & Practice
SCWK6930 Peace & Conflict: Understanding the Issues

Study units: MA = 8; Grad. Diploma = 6; Grad. Cert. = 3.

Contact CPACS 02 9351 7686 or cpacs@social.usyd.edu.au


ON THE PEACE TRAIL

Sunday OCTOBER 17 COASTAL WALK

Our two previous fundraising walks for CPACS were called “Walk for Peace” and “Walk for Peace and Human Rights”. It is appropriate that this will be a “Walk for Peace and Reconciliation”. Start at 11.00 am. at Coogee Beach. Approximately 2 hours. $5 adult/$1 child. Fresh air, stunning views. At the finish join the BYO picnic and foot balming session at Bondi! The mayors of Randwick (Dominic Sullivan) and Waverley (Paul Pearce) are supportive, as are Bob Carr and Kathryn Greiner. CPACS, Eastern Suburbs Organisation for Reconciling Australia, Amnesty International, Coalition for Gun Control, Australia Tibet Council, among others, are participating. Contact Andrew Greig, Walk Coordinator: 02 9388 9493 &

M: 041 2299 762 or  andrewgreig@bigpond.com.au.


Comments and contributions welcomed. Contact Editor and Publications Officer Jane Fulton on tel 02 9351 7686,

fax 02 9660 0862 or cpacs@social.usyd.edu.au

Disclaimer—the views in this publication are solely those of the contributors.