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The Dark Side of Peacekeeping Missions

An article written by one of our McGill Echenberg Fellows, whose name we cannot disclose.

The word ‘peacekeepers’ is a loaded one, bringing an array of images and historical inferences to mind. Blue helmets. The recent and needed deployment in the Central African Republic. The successful all-women force in Liberia that helped rebuild after civil war. The failed mission in Rwanda. Black Hawk Down. It’s a confusing patchwork of images- but so it should be. Peacekeeping is a complicated topic that deserves to be judged on a case by case basis. There is, however, one theme attached to virtually all peacekeeping missions; a theme which probably didn’t immediately spring to mind, but which women and children in the countries those missions ostensibly protect know far too well. In the ‘industry’, it has an acronym all to itself: SEA – Sexual exploitation and abuse. SEA- committed by the protectors against their protectees, across the world, with impunity, and all but ignored by the international community who provide those peacekeepers with their unflinching financial support.


The Ephemeral Nature of Peace: Restoring Peace through Education and the Justice System

An article by one of our McGill Echenberg Fellows - Natasha Serafimovska

When on 19 May, 2014 another murder was reported in the Macedonian news, the country fell into an utter state of shock. When it was revealed that the victim was a 19-year old Macedonian boy and the offender was an Albanian peer the shock was replaced by mixed emotions of sorrow, anger, but most of all – fear. Everyone was wondering if this was the final straw that would set off the ticking bomb of ethnic hostility in the country. Only two years previously another incident was reported where five men, four of whom were between the age of 18-21, were shot while fishing by a lake near Skopje. In light of the heightened ethnic tensions and lacking a clear culprit, the public quickly interpreted the incident as ethnic aggression and sought immediate justice.


Is a new era of democracy coming to Bolivia?

An article by one of our McGill Echenberg Fellows  - Alejandro Fernandez Gutierrez

It has been a year since Hugo Chaves died and the region of Latin America feels empty, but there also an important shift in politics in many countries in South America since his passing. It is important to remember that Hugo Chaves had a strong policy not only for his country, but also for other South American countries, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. These countries believed that Hugo Chaves’ ideas were the “right fit” for Latin America, but it seems like a new kind of democracy is about to come to Bolivia, when all Bolivians will have the opportunity to vote and maybe change public policy.


Cultural Identity, Human Security, and Conflicts

Cultural Identity, Human Security, and Conflicts[1]
An article by one of our McGill Echenberg Fellows - Milena Oganesyan

This blog focuses on the relationship between cultural identity and conflict by examining the concept of human security as it prevails in the realm of international development and peace and conflict studies. In its 1994 report, the United Nations Development Program introduced the concept of human security. This report emphasized the need to move from a state-centered approach towards a people-centered understanding of security. In this regard, some scholars define human security as “the protection of individuals from risks to their physical or psychological safety, dignity and well-being” (Tadjbakhsh & Chenoy 2007:3). Thus, human security focuses on people rather than states. Based on this idea, people’s insecurities can trigger conflicts and challenge state security.


A Note on Religious Freedom in Indonesia

By M Najibur Rohman, 2010 McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellow

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

RELIGIOUS freedom is one of the important issues in contemporary Indonesia. The fact cannot be separated by phenomenon of religious violence that often happened in the new era called “Reform Era” (Era Reformasi) beginning in 1998.

Justice for MH17

An article by one of our McGill Echenberg Fellows – Rebecca Hamilton

The world wants to hold someone accountable for the 298 people killed. But determining whom to go after — and how to hold them responsible — won’t be easy.


Foxes Guarding a Hen House.

An article by one of our McGill Echenberg Fellows – Rebecca Hamilton
A new U.N. report reveals that peacekeepers sent to the Central African Republic took sides in the conflict.


Anti-corruption in States in Transition, Bosnia and Herzegovina Perspective

An article by one of our McGill Echenberg Fellows – Damir Hadžić

Having worked briefly in the area of anti-corruption (AC) from a regional perspective (UNODC Vienna), I got engaged with implementing UNDP’s local AC activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Not so long after, I realized how these two postings are worlds apart.

Globally, we have conventions and norms which bind states to improve anti-corruption efforts. Operationally, this is done through monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of various sorts (usually nominated foreign missions during periodic review cycles) which feed findings (based on data generated from meetings) back to custodian institutions of these organizations (e.g. UNODC, Council of Europe, etc.). They are deliberated at high-level meetings and recommendations are issued. Presumption is that countries should follow recommendations to improve shortfalls until the next review cycle appears.


McGill Echenberg Fellows Network active now on Social Media!

We are happy to announce that the McGill Echenberg Fellows Network is now present on all your favourite social media websites, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Join, Follow and Like us now to be the first to find out the latest human rights news, events, scholarships, jobs, but the most importantly to stay updated on the application process for the 2015 McGill Echenberg Global Conference on Human Rights and Leadership!

Find us here:
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Mass Atrocity Prevention on the Bosphorus

I pulled a Brazilian human rights activist aside, in between cups of Turkish coffee. “The protests aren’t just about transportation; they’re about everything.” I was in Istanbul for five days, for a convening of mass atrocity prevention practitioners, and wanted to grab a quick thought on a recent wave of public protests. Over the course of our conversation, the activist expressed a perfunctory solidarity: with his fellow Brazilians, yes, but also with a global, often divergent, and often nebulous community of youth human rights practitioners. “I think this is an international movement,” he said, without much further explanation.

Solidarity is a difficult idea, one which, in my experience, rarely comes naturally to U.S. human rights activists. Domestic activism rests on a movement’s certainty, and on its ability to plan a path to victory: tactics, campaigns, and strategy, the secular trinity of grassroots mobilization, aspire to the continuous improvement of known outcomes. Solidarity, where applied, sheds the certainties of power; it transfers voice and agency away from the activist, towards the survivor. The Istanbul convening, organized by the U.S.-based Nexus Fund, boasted practitioners and activists from thirty-three countries, six continents. I went as a U.S. practitioner, a recent Georgetown graduate, and an Echenberg Fellow—that last bit, I think, left me poised for the disagreements ahead. The activists didn’t agree on much, but they achieved a singular point of consensus: from a moral, if not strategic perspective, solidarity is the most appropriate posture for Western human rights activists.

One participant, an educator from New York, suggested that, as the mass atrocity prevention community evolves, the plurality of ideas—rather than a common language—should shape the practice of prevention; indeed, each participant possessed their own concept of solidarity, informed by local contexts and personal histories. For many participants, the specific mechanisms of solidarity, particularly between Western activists and their colleagues in the diverse “global South,” remained unclear. Sticky power dynamics often muddle the equation: between donor and grantee, between conflict-free and conflict-affected, between those with public media platforms and those without. When it comes to outcomes, everyone seemed to agree, it’s a not-so-simple matter of broadening voice and allowing for agency, particularly for survivors of mass violence.

The Nexus Fund’s goals, it would appear, in many ways mimic the Echenberg family’s: to broaden transnational communities of conscience, and to strengthen norms of human rights and civilian protection. In both cases, the future is simultaneously random and undetermined; indeed, that’s the objective. For most, we left Istanbul with stronger bonds, but a helpfully foggy notion of the mass atrocity prevention’s future trajectory. In my mind, this is a mark of success: if the community of practice exists, positive outcomes will follow.

Daniel Solomon ~ 2013 McGill Echenberg Fellow

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