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!

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

Canada responds to Libya

We need just peace tradition before just war tradition.   We need to develop a non-violent response to conflict as an alternative and  precursor to military responses.  R2P, Responsibility to Protect, needs a community of practice and legal framework similar to the laws of armed conflict.

There is no doubt that the recent Canadian decision to extend its mission represented a lost opportunity for Canada to seriously consider to discontinuing Canada’s involvement in the bombing and reshape our response to the better relief of suffering and to the reduction of conflict.   Where was Canadian leadership in the development of practices and response to the R2P “responsibility to protect” doctrine that better reflects the intent of the UN mandate.   It was a mandate to PROTECT, to stop the violence,  to care for those suffering.   This means neutrality, the creation of safe spaces and  eventual reconciliation or justice.  This means  soldiers and sharing the risk.   The care for others above all.

We need to reclaim our reputation for leadership in the world and the two Nobel peace prizes we share for peacekeeping.

Paul Maillet