Peace, UN Report

UN REPORT: 2018 Preparatory Committee of the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

by Jonathan Frerichs
Pax Christi International Representative, UN in Geneva

Note: The 2018 Preparatory Committee of the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference took place in Geneva from 23/4 through 4/5/18.

The NPT is the main legal instrument for exercising some controls over nuclear weapons and the civilian use of nuclear energy. About two-thirds of its 190 states parties showed up for part of this 2018 “PrepCom”, as did 65 civil society and international organisations.

Two themes provide a snap-shot of this first NPT meeting since the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

I. Persistent warnings that “today’s security environment” is bad and likely to get worse. Factors mentioned include complex regional conflicts, renewed big-power rivalries, proliferation of improved nuclear weapons, and asymmetric dangers posed by nuclear terrorism and cyber threats.

Some of the warnings even spoke of a “new” Cold War. A series of “hot” exchanges took place between the U.S. delegation and the delegations of Russia, Iran and Syria regarding the various crises in the Middle East.

While the U.S. and USSR made massive cuts in their nuclear arsenals at the end of the Cold War, honouring and extending existing commitments (the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and New START) are in doubt today. It could happen that no major nuclear arms limitation treaties will be in force between the U.S. and Russia shortly after the Review Conference and the NPT’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

Instead of examining the linkages between current dangers and the big-power reliance on nuclear weapons which the NPT legitimises, much of the meeting was a peculiar mixture of crisis talk and business-as-usual.

II. Steps to reduce nuclear threats remain pending, while the stigma surrounding nuclear weapons continues to grow. The steps listed again and again at this PrepCom have been on the NPT agenda for more than 20 years. There are few if any indications of the political will to pursue or implement them at present.

Meanwhile, the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by 122 states last July is a demonstration of political will. One focus of that will is the NPT’s very own disarmament clause, Article VI. Brazil called the TPNW “the wind of change” because this new legal instrument makes the humanitarian and environmental impact of nuclear weapons the basis for multilateral action.

During the PrepCom, news came that the Pacific island nation of Palau is the 8th state to ratify the TPNW. Shortly after the meeting, Austria ratified it as well. Indeed, forthcoming ratifications and signatures were a frequent topic in conversations with governments during the meeting.

PrepComs do not make decisions; they prepare for the five-year NPT Review Conferences. It is not clear at this point whether the RevCon in 2020 will be able to decide anything of importance.

The most important step for us is to help bring the TPNW into force. Building support for the TPNW serves as a reality check for the NPT. The goal across the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapon’s membership is to secure the necessary 50 ratifications in 2020, or before. Actions speak louder than words, perhaps especially where nuclear weapons are concerned.

For further information:

* Photo from REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Peace, UN Report

UN REPORT: The United Nations’ conception of “peacekeeping” evolving, recognising the need for building and sustaining peace

by Mary T. Yelenick
Main Representative, UN-NGO Delegation of Pax Christi International

The United Nations’ concept of “peacekeeping” has historically centered upon the provision of humanitarian aid and the deployment of UN-member nation troops abroad, in an effort to maintain, through that third-party military presence, a cessation of active warfare in the host country.

Yet that time-honored formulation and concept of “keeping peace” is undergoing a fundamental reevaluation at the United Nations, under the leadership of Secretary General Antonio Guterres. There is a new focus on helping to create and foster the underlying conditions – the availability of sufficient food, housing, employment, opportunities for youth, clean water, and healthcare, and the elimination of gender-based violence, among them – that give rise to, and sustain, true peace.

These new approaches are consonant with those long embraced by Pax Christi International. Peace is possible and lasting only where there is enough for all.

The vexing reality is that most UN-donor nations are more likely to agree to commit “peacekeeping” troops, funding for troops, and funding for post-conflict humanitarian aid than to commit resources to help create the conditions that would avert conflict. Money from UN-donor nations dedicated to funding education, training, jobs, housing, food, and clean water is difficult to come by. Yet that is precisely what may be needed to prevent global conflict.

On 24-25 April, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák of Slovakia, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, convened a High-Level Meeting on “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.” In announcing the meeting, he described its motivation as follows: “We need a stronger focus on peace when it still exists. We should be acting faster, and sooner, when there is a peace to keep – rather than scrambling for solutions once it has been lost… Currently, the UN’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities are chronically underfunded. [W]e need to join the dots … everything the United Nations does must be seen through a lens of peace. … [A]nd, I also want to stress one more important aspect, when it comes to sustaining peace; namely, the participation of women and youth. We have seen that it is mostly men who negotiate and sign peace deals. However, this is not sustainable. And it does not reflect reality on the ground. Because women and young people play a major role in building and preserving peace. Their experiences and ideas must be seen and listened to.”

Speakers at the April High-Level Meeting at the UN – which I attended as an observer, as a representative of Pax Christi International – included representatives of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) around the world, as well as high-level officials from a variety of UN Member States. Among the recurrent themes were the following:

  • We must address, first and foremost, the root causes of conflict. Humiliation, exclusion, inequality, marginalisation, and suppression are factors leading to violent conflict.
  • We must each strive to understand the experience of the “Other.”
  • Each conflict is different. Its resolution requires a deep understanding of the particular roots of that conflict.
  • Conflict resolution must, if it is to be long-lasting, include all shareholders. It is that “ownership” of the process which creates the basis for a lasting peace.
  • Lasting peace cannot be dictated simply by a tribunal, but must instead be premised on the harder work of truth and reconciliation.
  • Peacebuilding is hard work. It must be done brick-by-brick. The process must be inclusive and transparent.
  • Sustaining peace is often as difficult as achieving it.
  • Conflicts can and must be resolved differently, in the future. If generations continue to address conflict in the same ways that they have historically, then conflict will simply continue, down through succeeding generations.
  • Peacebuilding requires that we choose dialogue and compromise over arrogance.
  • Women and youth are key participants in any peacebuilding and peace-sustaining endeavor. They have unique access to, and understanding of, their communities – including marginalised communities of which national leaders may know little.
  • Providing youth with employment opportunities is critical. Absent such opportunities, youth may easily turn to other options, including terrorist groups, if only out of a need to be acknowledged, welcomed, appreciated, and of service.
  • Humanitarian aid is not a substitute for dialogue and mediation.
  • While the world needs security, we must not, in the process, forget our humanity, or human rights.

The current debate regarding the proper role of the United Nations – whether to expand its traditional role as humanitarian-aid and troops-provider to one more committed to addressing the root causes of war – as well the challenge of soliciting (from some less-than-enthusiastic, but powerful, donor nations) the financial resources necessary to address social inequities – is a highly consequential one. As members of Pax Christi, we must educate ourselves and do what we can to help our local, national, and international representatives make decisions that lead in the direction of lasting peace. In that way, we can be global peacebuilders too.

Peace

Ukraine’s conflict with Russia

By Rev. Paul Lansu
Senior Policy Advisor, Pax Christi International

Despite its central role in European politics and East-West relations more generally, the war in Ukraine has largely disappeared from public and political view. We must be aware that we face the real prospect of “the mother of all frozen conflicts” on our doorstep.

In international relations, a frozen conflict is a situation in which active armed conflict has been brought to an end, but no peace treaty or other political framework resolves the conflict to the satisfaction of the parties involved. A “frozen conflict” also means that there is no daily fighting but the situation remains permanently tense and a local outburst of violence is possible at any time. Therefore, legally the conflict can start again at any moment, creating an environment of insecurity and instability. The de facto situation that emerges may match the de jure position asserted by one party to the conflict; for example, Russia claims and effectively controls Crimea following the 2014 Crimean crisis despite Ukraine’s continuing claim to the region. Alternatively, the de facto situation may not match either side’s official claim.

The war in eastern Ukraine is also rapidly slipping off the political agenda in those countries tasked with brokering and ensuring peace and conflict resolution. The EU lost its dynamic and remains inwardly oriented for the time being. Ukraine will hold in 2019 both presidential and parliamentary elections and that is casting already a shadow over the domestic politics.

Whereas three-quarters of the population are ethnically Ukrainians, around 17% – mainly in the east of the country – are ethnically Russian and around 30% of the population say Russian is their first language. Ukraine is a country of more than 40 million people with very diverse views.

Some 2 million of these Russian-speaking Ukrainians instantly became Russian citizens on 18 March 2014 when Crimea was formally annexed by Russia. The loss of Crimea was compounded by a well-armed pro-Russia separatist movement in eastern Ukraine, which has led to months of heavy – but inconclusive – fighting with government forces.

High number of displaced

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed over 10.000 lives and more than 24.000 wounded and constitutes a grave ongoing humanitarian crisis. About 1.8 million have been displaced internally or are affected by conflict in Ukraine, and an estimated 1 million have fled to Russia. At the end of 2017, the UN estimated that almost 4.4 million people are affected by the conflict, with 3.4 million of them in need of humanitarian aid and protection.

Mother Russia is alive again!

It was and still is the ambition of President Vladimir Putin to restore Russia’s status in the world. That meant for instance in 2014 the threat of military force to help local pro-Russian forces accomplish the annexation of Crimea – a majority of whose population are ethnically Russians – from Ukraine.

The Crimean parliament hastily organised a referendum on independence under the watchful eyes of growing numbers of still unidentified soldiers! The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of independence. On 17 March 2014, the Supreme Council of Crimea declared the Republic of Crimea an independent nation. The republic then renounced its independence and requested admission into Russia. President Putin granted the request and declared that the proper conditions are ensured for the people of Crimea to be able to freely express their will.

Crimea also contains the port of Sevastopol, a base for Russia’s Black Sea navy giving it access to the Mediterranean. Moscow is or has been planning either a direct bridge or a road from Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. At the same time, most Crimeans did want to join “mother Russia” as the Russian writer Fjodor Dostojevsky (1821-1881) described it earlier in the 19th century. Tsarism, nationalism/patriotism and the orthodox religion were the bounding foundations of this concept of “mother Russia.”

It is the first time since the Second World War that a European country with military force has changed its borders and annexed part of another European country. The EU will extend the sanctions against Russia, but the annexation of the Crimea will silently be accepted.

In April 2014, pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine could rely on the political backing of Russia in their effort to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, although not all people in the region prefer this scenario. Pro-Russian separatists declared the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the goal of unification with Russia. Later in that month, separatists declared the People’s Republic of Luhansk, which in May merged with its Donetsk equivalent to form the confederation of Novorossiya. However, the lack of unity and control remains in the occupied territories.

These events created serious tensions because in 1994 in the Budapest memorandum the USA, UK and Russia agreed to be joint guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The memorandum confirmed also to remove the (former Soviet Union) nuclear warheads stationed in Ukraine back to Russia.

A regional solution?

The consequence of the crisis in and around the Ukraine is the threat of a renewed cold war, and the possibility – if only by accident – that it might become hot. Moscow tries to freeze the conflict as much as it can. The UN Security Council was not able to settle the dispute because the Russians intended to make use of their voting right.

A UN backed military response was impossible, because Russia holds a permanent seat on the Security Council and thus is in a position to veto any authorisation. Russia is also a nuclear power, and its military strength is second only to the USA. The only option for the international community was to outcast Russia with economic sanctions. The EU decided to do this because the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine must be respected. The EU cannot accept the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation. Russia was excluded from the major industrialised countries, the Group of Eight – G8 (and became consequently only G7). Russia responded with sanctions as well, which has consequences for some EU countries. Anyway, international law should be respected and a regional solution will have to be found in which all those involved must recognize themselves.

Is Ukraine part of Europe?

Possible European integration is a key discussion in the conflict. The majority of Ukrainians are in favour of being part of Europe via the EU. The country seeks a European future. If the majority of Ukrainians choose to also enter into close relations with Europe, and are willing to cooperate with Europe to this end and want to take over a lot of European values and regulations, then we cannot accept that another country, in this case Russia, which tries to stop that choice. On 27th of June 2014, the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was signed.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko’s government has not addressed the systematic corruption at the root of many of the country’s problems. Many Ukrainians are losing faith in laws, institutions, and elites. Ukrainian society has a low level of trust in central authorities. Anger at the Minsk II agreement, which Ukrainians see as a concession to separatists and Moscow, is growing, even among reformists. The authorities continue to use the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine as an excuse for the slow pace of reform and to silence critical voices by labelling them as Russian agents.

Civic groups that work toward seeking dialogue, truth, and reconciliation in the context of the armed conflict are blamed by other civic organisations for being unpatriotic and influenced by Russia. Nevertheless, volunteer activities in Ukraine have decreased since 2014. While civic activists have not given up, serious concerns persist about its civil society’s impact. A culture of compromise and cooperation needs to be strengthened in the society that is more important in a context given the impact of radical nationalist and far-right groups that promote religious and ethnic intolerance.

UN Mission in Ukraine?

The UN Security council is discussing a possible UN peacekeeping mission to Ukraine. Some more political will on all sides is a condition in realising a peace keeping dynamic. Clearly, a UN mandate should cover the whole territory of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, including the Russian-Ukrainian border. At the same time, a UN mission should reinforce – not replace – the operations of the OSCE mission on the ground. The UN lacks practical experience in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and has been recently involved in peacekeeping operations mostly outside of Europe. UN peacekeepers should help the OSCE to maintain peace. It is expected to have some 20.000 peacekeepers, of course excluding Russian forces! Also important is that a UN mission should support the implementation of the Minsk agreements, not at least in monitoring local and parliamentary elections.

A UN mission creates a small window of opportunity for further diplomacy. Political will on all sides remains a prerequisite for keeping peace.

Peace

Three questions on development at the United Nations

by Rev. John Rausch, glmy
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

“No Poverty,” “Zero Hunger,” “Good Health and Well-Being,” “Quality Education”—these are a few of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals the United Nations ambitiously wants to achieve by 2030. Earlier this year, the 56th session of the U.N.’s Commission for Social Development convened to address the eradication of extreme poverty as a human right. Numerous non-governmental organizations shared information about best practices to promote sustainable development, and the Congregations of St. Joseph organized a side event to offer Catholic input to the Commission. I sat on that panel.

The three other panelists were clergy and religious representing Africa, India and the Philippines. Our task was to showcase success stories from impoverished communities that reflect hope for a fuller life. One panelist told about helping people living under lean-tos secure more adequate housing. Another described families making their livelihoods cooperatively through bee keeping. The third sketched the difficulties of dealing with multiple thousands of displaced people and refugees. My stories came from Appalachia where the sting of poverty can frequently be overlooked, covered up, or dismissed.

Rev. John Rausch, glmy at the UN (photo courtesy of Rev. John Rausch)

The panelists were asked three questions, and the first dealt with our motivation for eradicating poverty.

“As a person of faith,” I answered, “I recognize that Jesus associated with the downtrodden and those excluded in society. I am committed to a preferential option for the poor.”

As an economist, I know there exists enough material goods for everyone to live a decent life. “Enough in order to be more” is an ethical principle of development that says everyone has a right to enough food, clothing, shelter, education and health care in order to grow to one’s fullest potential.

“The reason people don’t have ‘enough’ is because political systems of maldistribution are based on greed,” I concluded.

The second question asked about key strategies for eliminating poverty. I applauded two previous panelists, because they described cooperatives and community organizations that gave their participants a voice, while teaching essential skills of leadership and group process. In my own work, cooperatives have been a great source of human development.

I described Appalachia as a mineral colony where outside corporations control the region, drain the profits from the area, and leave many people with no voice or choice living with pollution. Poverty in Appalachia does not mean starvation, but the lack of options, a shorter lifespan and psychic feelings of inferiority. The small community of Dayhoit in Harlan County, Kentucky, seldom sees anyone living past age 55. The incidents of cancer from pollution are astronomical.

The role of faith-based people in development must span two worlds. We need to support fledgling organizations of the oppressed like cooperatives, while challenging the hyper-consumption of the powerful. I use symbols like sowing wildflower seeds during a prayer ritual to spark a connection between a denuded mountain, consumption patterns, and the consequences for local folks and creation.

The final question asked for our advice in eradicating poverty.

“Eliminating poverty is so daunting,” I began. “Face the odds. It’s like we’re in a leaky canoe in a swift current with only tooth brushes for paddles. Headed over the falls, we raise our hands in prayer, then spot a low hanging branch that we grab for safety. The branch bends and we find ourselves on shore. We burst out laughing knowing we escaped disaster and God is smiling on us. My advice,” I ended, “in your work for justice, catch the next low hanging branch, and do it with a smile. Laughter is key to development work.”

Rev. John Rausch lives and works in Appalachia in the United States. He is a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace.

Peace, Peace Spirituality

Noyau d’éthique

par Dominique Lang, aa
Aumônier Pax Christi France

La paix et la stabilité internationale ne peuvent être fondées sur un faux-sens de la sécurité, sur la menace d’une destruction réciproque d’un anéantissement total, sur le simple maintien d’un équilibre des puissances.

Une fois encore, la parole du pape François parle haut et clair. Du coup, cinq mois après cette déclaration, le Saint Siège s’est prononcé début juillet pour l’interdiction totale des armes nucléaires. Et il a pu le faire par un vote – une première dans son histoire – aux Nation unies, la convention négociant le traité sur l’interdiction des armes nucléaires ayant décidé d’accorder ce droit à ce micro-Etat qui n’a qu’un statut d’observateur à l’ONU.

Cette clarté doit nous interpeller, nous qui vivons dans un pays dont la doctrine de défense militaire repose en grande partie sur le maintien d’un bouclier nucléaire. Les annonces récentes sur la progression des budgets militaires ne doivent pas faire oublier qu’une très grande partie d’entre eux serviront à l’entretien et au renouvellement de nos ogives et de nos sous-marins porteurs d’ogives. Et bien que l’Histoire nous montre que cette doctrine est celle d’un autre temps, n’ayant aucune prise sur la violence terroriste ou la polarisation grandissante des forces géopolitiques, aucun homme politique majeur n’a remis en cause le paradigme nucléaire gaulliste au cours des dernières élections.

D’ailleurs, même au sein de nos communautés chrétiennes, peu de voix s’élèvent pour dénoncer cette gabegie financière et cette hérésie morale. Le Magistère n’a pas réussi à unifier la voix des Eglises locales dans ce domaine. Tout au long de la guerre froide, certains représentants ecclé-siaux se sont ainsi exprimés pour justifier l’équilibre de la terreur comme un moindre mal, tout en décriant les conséquences de l’usage de telles armes.

Au sein de Pax Christi, de nombreux militants, eux, sont mobilisés de longue date sur ce sujet. Non sans difficulté, car comment arriver au désarmement nécessaire des Etats nucléaires? Un pays comme la France doit il montrer l’exemple pour sortir des logiques mortifères? Ou faut-il faire le pari d’un lent travail diplomatique, pour faire baisser, peu à peu, les équipements nucléaires à travers le monde? Mais les tensions actuelles entre les USA et la Corée du Nord montrent que ce peut être là un pari risqué, et qui n’empêche pas la prolifération
nucléaire dans les réseaux non-officiels et non-contrôlés.

L’ “impératif moral et humanitaire” est clair désormais pour chacun.

Ne cessons pas de prier et de nous informer pour que nous ne désarmions pas intérieurement notre lutte personnelle et collective contre ces équilibres de la terreur qui bouchent nos horizons.

Peace

Aperçus de “Les jeunes et leur impact social” à Riyad

by Marino Ficco
Pax Christi International Deputy Representative at UNESCO in Paris

[Editor’s note: An English version is available by clicking here.]

Le 3-4 mai j’ai eu l’honneur de représenter Pax Christi International au Forum des ONG du Comité de Liaison de l’UNESCO qui se déroulait à Riyad, en Arabie Saoudite. Le thème de ce forum était « Youth and their social impact ».

La participation à ce genre de forums est très importante car elle nous permet de rencontrer des hommes et des femmes venant du monde entier qui désirent écouter et raconter des projets mais aussi partager des expériences pour essayer de constituer des partenariats, renforcer nos actions et améliorer notre démarche.

Mais pourquoi faire celui-ci en Arabie Saoudite me direz-vous? Pour la première fois le forum a été organisé en partenariat avec une Fondation : la Misk Foundation fondée par le prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, qui est aussi ministre de la défense et le responsable de l’intervention militaire au Yémen qui a causé la mort d’environ 10 000 civils, plus de 3 millions de déplacés et l’une des pires famines de l’histoire du pays. La conséquence de ce partenariat inédit a été le financement de la totalité des frais de participation au forum. La Misk Foundation a payé la totalité du voyage, dont l’hôtel et les déplacements à des centaines de délégués venant de 70 pays différents.

Il était très important de participer à ce Forum car les occasions de visiter l’Arabie Saoudite sont rares et il est très difficile d’entrer en contact avec les jeunes et la société civile saoudienne qui essayent d’améliorer leur situation. Après un jour de socialisation dans l’impressionnant « Nofa Resort », une véritable oasis artificielle en plein désert dotée d’un hippodrome, d’un hôtel de luxe, mais aussi d’un zoo, d’un safari, d’un golf, de terrains de foot et de tennis, d’un lac artificiel, d’une piste de go-kart, de champs cultivés etc.…le forum commence !!

Afin de vous aider à vous représenter au mieux ce forum voici quelques informations descriptives. La partie centrale de la salle était consacrée aux hommes. Les femmes pouvaient prendre place à la gauche de la scène. Des plantes visiblement discrètes étaient là pour symboliser ladite « frontière ». Cependant quelques femmes ont décidé de s’installer parmi les hommes. Certaines dans un souci de visibilité car on voyait mieux au centre. D’autre considérait injuste cette séparation. En ce qui concerne le dress code, aucune obligation pour les hommes et abaya (vêtement noir qui couvre le corps) fortement conseillée pour les femmes.

Après les discours de rite, l’économiste Jacques Attali, ancien conseiller de Mitterrand et président de Positive Planet, a introduit le fil rouge du forum : l’engagement des jeunes et leur potentiel pour le changement social. Un discours de la ministre des Emirats Arabes Unis, Noura Al Kaabi, a fait la transition pour le premier panel d’experts.

L’après-midi j’ai participé à un « workshop » sur le rôle des jeunes dans la protection du patrimoine culturel. Parmi les participants il y avait beaucoup d’étudiantes saoudiennes et à la fin d’une heure d’échange nous avons fait des propositions concrètes qui seront évaluées par les organismes compétents de l’UNESCO. Après l’interventions de deux experts de l’UNESCO nous avons travaillé en équipes d’une dizaine de personnes. On échangeait en anglais et chacun partageait une expérience, un projet ou une idée. Après les avoir confrontés avec une autre équipe, chaque groupe a fait une proposition. Mon groupe a présenté un projet de sensibilisation des jeunes à travers des animations qui pourraient avoir lieu dans les places des villes principales.

Le soir nous avons pu visiter le musée national qui permet de découvrir l’histoire de l’Arabie des origines jusqu’à l’arrivée de la dynastie saoudienne. Il s’agit d’un musée moderne et très intéressant, qui a la faiblesse d’être un instrument au service de la propagande à plusieurs reprises.

Le deuxième jour du forum Jimmy Wales, le fondateur de l’encyclopédie en ligne Wikipédia, nous a raconté l’histoire de son site. Dans l’après-midi la discussion s’est tournée sur le rôle de l’éducation pour créer un futur durable. Comment traiter un sujet aussi important en 50 minutes ? Pendant ce temps-là Sarah Toumi a présenté son projet Acacias pour Tous dans le cadre duquel on plante des arbres en Tunisie pour bloquer la déforestation et on essaye de diffuser les bonnes pratiques de la permaculture et de l’agroforesterie.

Le professeur Charles Hopkins a expliqué les principes du «Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit » qui se fonde sur l’idée que les communautés et les systèmes éducatifs doivent créer ensemble des parcours qui permettent d’atteindre le développement ; parmi les autres intervenants on peut citer Grace Mwaura qui a parlé du rôle des jeunes africains dans le recherche de solutions pour faire face à la crise environnementale que nous vivons.

Dans l’après-midi j’ai participé à un autre « workshop » sur l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes. Après une demi-heure d’échange entre les deux intervenants, une femme sud-africaine a demandé à parler de la situation des femmes en Arabie Saoudite. Beaucoup de femmes ont alors pris la parole pour raconter leur opinion, leur expérience et leurs rêves. Selon certaines saoudiennes, les femmes ont plus de droits en Arabie qu’en Europe ; d’autres n’étaient pas d’accord. A la fin nous avons échangé de propositions concrètes pour essayer de sensibiliser la société autour de ces questions.

Dans les semaines qui viennent vous pourrez découvrir un article plus détaillé avec le contenu des interventions et avec quelques informations supplémentaires sur ce pays très beau et méconnu.