Time to talk about our disappointing approach to international peace and stability

Dear friends:

Perhaps it is time to rethink Canada’s approach to peace in the world, and think about reclaiming the two Nobel peace prizes we shared for peacekeeping.  Perhaps we need some dialogue on a set of principles such as:

We believe that all Canadians must have an ongoing  voice in Canada’s response to international peace and security.

We believe in a peace centered response that reflects the following:

  • Presence principle: The need for Canada to be present in international crisis is an overriding expression of our values and interests. We assert that Canada’s peace and security depends on international peace and security.
  • Impartiality principle:  Canada should responded to international crises with a posture of impartiality between conflicted  parties and in conflict zones, with a view to facilitating readiness for  dialogue and negotiation.
  • Bias for peace principle:  Canada’s presence in conflict zones be based on a strong predisposition for non violence, human rights, dialogue  and peace.
  • Dialogue principle:  Canada strongly support the UN as a  space for dialogue and voice as an precursor and alternative to  conflict.  Canada should advocate the principle  that  members are  accountable for their behavior to the  global community.
  • Engagement principle:  Canada rejects the  militarization of foreign policy, based  on demands  and hard expectations, and supports a response based on values of non-violence, conflict   resolution and peace support.       Canada as a middle power will not refuse to do what Canada can do in support of peace, conflict resolution and the relief of suffering.

In the cause of peace

The question of ending violence against women

“If you cannot do something, then say something; if you cannot say something, then feel something.  The least you can do is feel something.” anon

 In 2012, I attended a university session on violence against women and could not help but reflect on the tone of anger, confrontation, trauma and demands for justice as a response to the tragedies of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada. Certainly the response was very understandable given the magnitude of this tragedy. Individual stories were heart rending.

 I wondered if non-violent communication (NVC) and the ethic of care is possible as a larger part of the way forward. I even wondered about the readiness to think about such approaches given the high levels of emotion present. Perhaps there are other questions, dialogue or ideas to think about in quieter moments. For example:

  • Can we better balance language, the ethic of care and justice as a response to such an issue? To what extent does justice define sufficiency for those suffering the pain of having loved ones as victims, or of being a survivor? What does the ethics of care mean here, and is it worth a greater level of effort than the demands for justice? What is the best balance? Is healing better dealt with by the individual or the responsibility of others, or some balanced combination of both? Society as a whole also needs to heal from this tragedy? How can we do this?

What alternatives or additions are possible?  Perhaps:

  • In the cases of a heavy predisposition for confrontation, to consider reorienting the primacy of justice as a demand, to one of giving some balance to NVC and the ethic of care. I.e. to better entitle as “The Tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada”, vice “Justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women”.
  • This states the fact at hand and the feeling of suffering, and offers an invitation for everyone to reflect and respond how they can.
  • Perhaps another line below stating “The need for compassion, care, voice, reconciliation, healing and justice”. In this way everyone should be able to find themselves in one of these responses and offers broader possibilities for engagement, even if only of feeling deeply for these women and for those suffering today as a result. These possibilities are greater than the overwhelming emotions of confrontation and anger, however justified. There is always time for love and compassion as a first response.

 In addition, the living, who are survivors or continue to be victims of violence, deserve as much attention as those killed. For all of us, memories can continue to victimize, and never go away. The question of how to have a healthy response to the suffering attached to these memories when they arise, is important.  The heart level conversation for awareness and understanding is as important as the mind level conversation to debate and decide on social activism and engagement.

 In the cause of compassion and peace.

Surely Canada can do better for peace than shutting down embassies

It is not understandable how the recent decision to expel Iranian consular staff from Canada and withdraw Canadian consular staffs from Iran, will contribute to peace in the Mideast, and may in fact make prospects worse.      It is a shame how the current government has decided to approach foreign affairs with politics of confrontation, accusation, blame and militarization.  The war drums are growing louder and Canada does not have to have a hand in this insanity.

Where is the objective and international leadership of Canada for peace in this region?  What happened to the two Nobel peace prizes we shared for peacekeeping and that we were so proud of?

Now there is no doubt that serious issues of persecution, human rights, nuclear proliferation, participative democracy and fomenting violence and conflict, exist in Iran and many many other countries in the Mideast. This is tragic.  However, what we can control is our response to this suffering.

Perhaps the challenge is not to be pro-anybody, nor to take sides, but to be simply pro-peace and act in a manner that will reduce the anger and hate and the terrible risk for war that  the region is headed toward.  A regional war will make the existing conflicts seem tame in comparison.

Let us be Canadians, and act according to our former cherished values and reputation for peace.  Our response should be one of taking leadership in stopping the violence, caring for victims, being a neutral space for dialogue, negotiations and conflict resolution, being a source of aid and rebuilding, and providing assistance in reconciliation and justice.  To do this means consular avenues of communication.  It means being present in the crisis, exercising international leadership, being trusted for neutrality, being a place for dialogue, and above all, having a strong bias for human rights of all persons.  Surely Canada can do much better than a policy of shouting and accusation and such punitive measures as shutting down communication.  CIVILIZED PEOPLE TALK!

Canadian Leadership at the 2012 Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference is disappointing

Former Military Officer Urges Stronger Canadian Stance at the 2102 Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference

 Dear Mr Prime Minister;

In reading the opening  “STATEMENT BY CANADA AT THE OPENING OF THE ARMS TRADE TREATY DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE. JULY 2012”. I noted the Canadian delegation made the following statements:

Quote:  it is also important that the All recognize the legitimacy of the legal and responsible international trade in conventional weapons and that it respects the lawful ownership of firearms by responsible private citizens for personal and recreational uses, such as sport shooting, hunting and collecting.

 And

 Quote:  Canada stresses the importance of the principle of national discretion and that the ATT should recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting and collecting. We stress that this should in no way result in any new burdens being placed on lawful firearms owners.

As a former military professional with 33 years service, and the former Director of DND Ethics, I am extremely discouraged and disheartened  that we are attempting to water down this treaty, to the point that we will be directly complicit in the deaths of many people.  The people of Canada expect our government to exercise world leadership on conflict reduction and that such leadership be guided by an uncompromising stance on humanitarian values.  We should be at this treaty negotiation with a view to making it as strong as possible.

Surely, the legitimate arms manufacturers, gun owners and the NRA would be willing to put up with some inconvenience when people, human beings, are suffering and dying every minute somewhere in the world from small arms. To imply that gunshot victims have less priority than “no new burdens on lawful firearm owners” is absolutely unbelievable.    I am truly ashamed of what Canada has become as a global citizen, when we attempt to put the arms trade in any form before human lives.

As a military professional, I can tell you that the most lethal weapons in use today, which causes the most killing every day, are small arms.  There should be no measures we should not be prepared take to reduce the human carnage every day caused by small arms.

I am sure you know that almost every weapons seizure from criminal, terrorist, insurgent, or drug trafficking elements contain non-military pattern weapons.  They use whatever they can get, no exceptions.  In the photo below, you can see that the entire back row of weapons of non-military pattern weapons would be exempt from this treaty.  This is beyond irresponsible.  I can assure you that criminals and terrorists simply want weapons, any weapons, that kill, and especially those that can be obtained legally or are unregulated to any extent.  The Canadian proposal creates a huge loophole to do this.  This is beyond belief.  This will spawn a surge and unregulated traffic in non-military pattern weapons that we will not be able to control.

Mr Prime Minister, this is an issue of human lives and human values.  I implore you to issue direction to your delegation to withdraw and strongly oppose any but the strongest restrictions on the global arms trade.  This is for the sake of we are as Canadians and as responsible human beings in a global community.

In the cause of peace

Paul Maillet

Colonel (retired)

President PAUL MAILLET CENTER FOR ETHICS
Web: http://paulmailletethics.wordpress.com
Accredited Peace Professional, Civilian Peace Services Canada
Web: http://paulmailletpeacemaker.wordpress.com

http://civilianpeaceservice.ca

Email: pmaillet@magma.ca
Tel: 613.841.9216 Cell: 613.866.2503

Truckload Of Weapons Heading For Nigeria Seized In Ghana.  Posted by Information Nigeria in Home . Nigerian News

on January 11, 2012

2012 Peace Professional Accreditation Acceptance Speech

These remarks were made on the occasion of my being awarded a Peace Professional Accreditation from the Civilian Peace Services Canada at St Paul’s University 28 June 2012.

First I would like to thank you very much for your kind words of introduction.  I sincerely hope I can live up to the expectations of this award.  I would like also to thank the accreditation board of the Civilian Peace Services Canada (CPSC) for their time and patience and listening to me talk on and on.   Also to Jennifer Weibe and Gordon Breedyk for organizing the many interviews, meetings and submissions

I would like to especially thank my references for their time, support, and kind words in helping me – France Larouche, Sylvie Lemieux, Iman Ibrahim and Qais Ghanem.

I would also like to express my admiration for a most innovative approach to accreditation by this organization. It is so seldom we see values as prominent in accreditation criteria or hiring criteria in this way.  This is a leading edge approach that I hope serves as a good example of how we should value and select people in organizations and for positions of authority.

THERE IS A DESPERATE NEED HERE.     If anyone is looking for an exciting and rewarding career that makes a real difference, I would suggest that peace making and conflict management is an emerging and growing field in this world.

INTERNATIONALLY:  Since the end of the cold war, advances in technology, media, activism, the Arab Spring, human rights demands, ethnic tensions have conspired to create new power structures and an avalanche of conflict and violence.  This needs a better, more human response, than more violence as a response.  The utility and affordability of massive military intervention is coming to an end.  Trillion dollar military adventures such as the Iraq and Afghan wars are fast becoming obsolete.  No one can afford any more of those in the current global economic climate.

This begs for alternatives, creative alternatives, real alternatives that put the human rights of people first.  Perhaps the time has come for true peace operations as a mandated precursor to the laws of armed conflict and military intervention.  We need to invert the priorities of the laws of armed conflict which puts just cause and justice first, a defacto invocation of  the death penalty, with a plea to minimize or avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties somewhere down the list.  We need a robust codification of such as responsibility to protect (r2p) and peace operations that will serve to first prevent, stop or reduce conflict, with a first priority to stop the violence, and then care for victims, then peace talks and mediation, and finally reconciliation and justice.  This will need a new skill set and experienced practitioners in peace making or peace operations.

DOMESTICALLY this is about the relief of suffering and conflict resolution is such as those first nations, inner cities and those communities who are suffering today or plagued by social problems.  I recently attended a First Nations Chiefs of Ontario conference and noted the desperate needs and frustrations with the federal government, that are a cause of suffering today in our country.  This included needs as basic as social assistance that impact children.

THE RESPONSE.  There is no doubt that we must expand conflict management and peacemaking methodologies and approaches in response to these needs.  We need to have responses and people prepared in advance to deal with pre conflict, during conflict and post conflict situations.  We need people who can be sensitive to the ethic of care and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorders), and the social trauma of war.

We need a new and credible community of peace professionals, who have the capacity to be present in the conflict zones, crisis, or communities in need, who can be neutral parties, skilled in dialogue and mediation, and who have a strong bias for peace  and human rights.  People who can help rebuild communities.

 So here we are, a new generation of peacemakers, hopefully a growing alternative to the warriors.    The opportunity is huge.  CPSC is a growing association of peace professionals and this is just a beginning.  Hopefully, there many more will join and offer their skills, experience and compassion.  The peace professional community is still desperately small. Hopefully, and at some point, we can supplement this with a large group of  member level peace workers who shares a code of values that is oriented towards peace and non violence, and together with the peace professionals are willing to work towards peace.

CONCLUSION. Again my sincere thanks to you all and in the cause of peace, good luck to us all.

Paul Maillet

We need a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty

Retired Canadian Military Officer Calls on Canada to Support a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty

 Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Baird;

As a retired Canadian military commander who has proudly served our country during a 33 year career, I am calling on our government to press for a strong and effective international Arms Trade Treaty.

In serving our country, military members have learned firsthand why a strong treaty is necessary. We have witnessed the devastation that occurs when weapons and ammunition get into the wrong hands. Across the world, easy access to guns, especially small arms and light weapons, has prolonged armed conflict and killed, maimed and scarred many soldiers and countless civilians, Canadians among them. We have been on the front lines and we have witnessed the carnage.

Our experience has shown us the urgent need for global cooperation to regulate international weapons transfers. We need an international treaty that will set strong universal rules for the movement of all conventional weapons and ammunition among states. We need a treaty that will minimize the risks of weapons getting into the wrong hands, such as governments that would use them against their own citizens, or warlords who would use them to recruit and abuse children. We need a treaty with adequate reporting mechanisms so that action on treaty obligations can be fully monitored.

We believe the Arms Trade Treaty should be solidly based in respecting the laws of armed conflict  or International Humanitarian Law, which is the foundation for ensuring that our troops preserve and protect the lives, dignity and livelihoods of civilians, and in turn are protected from torture and abuse. Respect for IHL is the key measure for judging whether an arms transfer should go forward.

An effective ATT must also hold states to account for their decisions and actions, and prevent the diversion of weapons into criminal and irresponsible channels. The treaty must not contain exemptions or loopholes that would undermine strong regulations.

As a former military leader, I believe that increased transparency regarding our arms imports and exports will help prevent corruption and potential overspending on equipment which may not be appropriate to a given country’s defence needs. I am convinced that the general information disclosed on types of weapons, transfers and the amounts of money involved will not undermine a country’s strategic interests and should by no means be considered as “classified” for military purposes.

I urge Canada to work for a treaty that saves lives and protects human rights, one that will prevent states from authorizing conventional weapons and ammunition transfers where there is a substantial risk that the transferred goods will be used in violation of international human rights or international humanitarian law or to undermine socio-economic development.

As a former senior officer in Canada’s armed forces, I call on the Canadian government to exercise international leadership in the tradition of Canadian values, and to make every effort before treaty negotiations begin in July 2012 to work for a treaty which will make us all proud to be Canadians.

I would be pleased to assist in any way possible.

Best regards;

In the cause of peace.

Paul Maillet

Colonel (retired)

President PAUL MAILLET CENTER FOR ETHICS
Web: http://paulmailletethics.wordpress.com

Accredited Peace Professional

Civilian Peace Services Canada
Web: http://paulmailletpeacemaker.wordpress.com

http://civilianpeaceservice.ca

Email: pmaillet@magma.ca
Tel: 613.841.9216 Cell: 613.866.2503

The fog of truth in conflict zones

Dealing with the fog of truth in conflict zones is a real challenge.  There are reports and counter-reports as to what is really happening in Syria.   The issue of disputed facts, or truth as to what is happening, is always an issue in conflict zones.  It is difficult to know what to believe from reports in a climate of such intense competing interests, from parties in deadly conflict and their media resources.

This is really a situation of the public and governments forming opinions, making decisions, and acting based on insufficient information and uncertainty.    So the question is one of how to make decisions that would be right no matter what the facts may be.   Maybe the approach is to take disputed facts with a healthy dose of scepticism and act from the position of non violence, neutrality and human rights.

In this regard, perhaps the relief of suffering and the reduction of conflict should guide policy responses.  This may involve advocating strategies of first stopping the violence and care for the victims and lastly to deal with justice and reconciliation when clarity is brought to the conflict.  This is much easier said than done, and maybe not always achievable, but it is a path to walk down that I can live with.  It is a path with heart that we can demand and expect from our government.