Syria: Fractured by war

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…also caused considerable destruction. In November 2016, U.S. airstrikes drastically escalated following an offensive to capture Raqqa from Islamic State militants. During an 11-month campaign, aerial raids damaged or destroyed more than 11,000 buildings in Raqqa.

All parties to the conflict have contributed to the destruction of a once functional state. From airstrikes to mortar fire, rival sides have destroyed homes, churches, mosques, hospitals, schools, and businesses. Entire neighbourhoods have been levelled across the country.

The Syrian regime has turned a blind eye to the actions of those fighting alongside it. In the “liberation of every inch” of the country from “terrorists” (read: all armed opposition to the regime), pro-regime militias have subjected previously rebel-held areas to mass lootings, stealing…

Ploughshares presents: The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement: What’s at stake?

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Multicultural Centre.

Refugee claimants face “harrowing journeys to Canada.” Among the most afflicted are those who escape their home countries to avoid gender-based persecution. To get to Canada, these resilient women and men, boys and girls must deal with threats and trauma, often gender-based. And when they reach Canada, their legal status is often uncertain.

Peter Noteboom is General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches.

Canadian churches are deeply engaged with refugees. Many congregations sponsor refugees, supporting them before and after they arrive. Many advocate for the just treatment of refugees. Canadian churches do this because such acts are an integral part of their faith story.

Early in its life, The Canadian Council of Churches assisted refugee…

Humanitarian disarmament: Putting people first

Branka Marijan Featured Leave a Comment

The Humanitarian Disarmament Forum, which began in 2012, has become an annual gathering, conducted on the margins of the UN General Assembly First Committee. The 2017 Forum, organized by Human Rights Watch, PAX, and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic, was held at the UN Church Center from October 13-15. In attendance were some 90 participants from 50 organizations (including Project Ploughshares), who exchanged views and provided updates on various campaigns from arms control and nuclear weapons to autonomous weapons systems.

Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 38 Issue 4 Winter 2017 by Branka Marijan

Stephen Goose, director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, opened the Forum by acknowledging that “these are challenging times.” He reflected

Nobel Peace lecture: From the impossible to the possible

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…desire that no new victims should suffer as they did.

Whenever I had the chance, I listened to the victims of this war and heard their heartbreaking stories. Some of them are here with us today, reminding us why it is so important to build a stable and lasting peace.

Leyner Palacios is one of them. On May 2, 2002, a homemade mortar launched by the FARC, in the middle of a combat with the paramilitaries, landed on the church in his town, Bojayá, where its inhabitants had sought refuge. Nearly 80 women, men, and children—most of the victims were children!—died. In a matter of seconds, Leyner lost 32 relatives, including his parents and three younger brothers. The FARC has…

A Remarkable Year

Cesar Jaramillo Featured Leave a Comment

…of Colombia) far-right paramilitary groups were fighting in the region to gain control of the Atrato River, a strategic passageway for drug shipments en route to Europe and North America and critical to the finances of both groups. The area had been largely abandoned by the central government and had become a case study in rampant local political corruption.

On May 2 the Bojayá village of Bellavista, with approximately 1,000 inhabitants, mostly rural peasants or campesinos living below the poverty line, was besieged by the fighting. Residents, including pregnant women and children, took shelter in the church. At 10:45 in the morning a FARC-launched cylinder bomb—an improvised explosive device that has become ubiquitous in the Colombian conflict—ripped through the church

Why we work for space security

Tasneem Jamal Featured Leave a Comment

…shift conflicts from Earth into space.

At Project Ploughshares, we believe that what humans value most is not resources, but peace and shared human values. And peace cannot be bought or achieved through an abundance of things. Peace is the result of committing and acting to achieve disarmament, non-violence, and justice.

On May 17, Ploughshares researchers Cesar Jaramillo, Branka Marijan, Sonal Marwah, and Jessica West presented a dialogue on working for peace at the Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, as part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Project Ploughshares. This article is a revised version of the talk Jessica presented.

Reference

Dvorsky, George. 2015. What would happen if all our satellites were suddenly destroyed? io9 Gizmodo, June 4.

Q&A with MCCO: Syrian refugees in Canada

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…promoting policies to assist refugees in Canada. We have always worked towards durable solutions for refugees, primarily through providing humanitarian aid to local partners and resettlement in Canada. Since this is what MCC has been doing all along, the current migration crisis has called on us to respond by increasing our capacity locally and internationally, particularly in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan.

In Canada, MCC as a sponsorship agreement holder continues to facilitate refugee sponsorships by Mennonite churches and groups. Through this process, MCC Canada has sponsored several hundred refugees since 1979. Currently, resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq is our strategic priority from 2015-2020. After the tragic incident that claimed the lives of the Kurdi family, MCCO Refugee…

The nuclear disarmament status quo: Not acceptable

Tasneem Jamal News, Publication Leave a Comment

…along the troubled path to nuclear abolition.

No right hands for wrong weapons

The profound ills and shortcomings of the global nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime were already apparent at roll call on the first day of the OEWG. Not one of the five nuclear-weapons states under the NPT (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China) showed up. These states (and allies including Canada and other NATO members, which have security arrangements involving nuclear weapons) continue to insist that a major diplomatic process to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons would be premature.

The rest of the world—including most non-nuclear-weapons states, legal scholars, diplomats, international agencies, and hundreds of civil society organizations, including Christian denominations and other faith traditions—strongly disagrees….

Ploughshares new staff announcements

Tasneem Jamal

September 2015

Project Ploughshares is pleased to announce the appointment of two new program officers and the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s Peace and Human Security Intern for 2015-2016.

Sonal Marwah has worked with multiple humanitarian organizations focused on issues including armed conflict, violence prevention, forced migration and global health, and has published several articles and reports on these thematic topics.

Most recently, she worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Delhi. Prior to this, Sonal worked with Small Arms Survey in Geneva. Her role with them involved leading an evidence-based study to map and assess the impacts of armed conflict across India. “My biggest achievement is that the study continues to be a

Witness for peace: Chronicling the role of the Canadian churches in shaping public policy over the past 40 years

Tasneem Jamal

Canadian churches have faced in recent years. Churches no longer speak with the same authority in public policy debates. Canadian church membership and participation have declined significantly. Moreover, Canadians do not trust leaders and experts of any kind as much as they used to. With access to instant information, today’s citizens believe they can make up their own minds. It seems obvious that the attitude of Canadians to the political process has changed significantly since churches first began to collaborate on advocacy.

Where do we go from here? The greater dissonance between the agendas of the Canadian churches and the federal government in recent years provides a compelling motivation for advocacy. More than ever, it is clear that advocacy is…