The Many Faces of Extremism

Extremism has always existed although it is since the 9/11 attacks that many people around the world began to fear it. As extremism is a complex phenomenon, scholars and policy makers have significant differences as to what extremism is and is not. Desmond Tutu defined extremism this way: “when you do not allow for a different point of view; when you hold your own views as being quite exclusive, when you don’t allow for the possibility of difference” [1]. Continue reading “The Many Faces of Extremism”

Getting back to the start: South Sudan establishes a unity government

It is truly an absurd situation. After two and half years of a bloody civil war in South Sudan, we have the same political situation as it started. A unity government will force the two main rivals to work together and bring the “youngest state” of the international government back on track.Doubts remain how peace can be uphold due to the destruction of the country’s weak infrastructure and the poor revenue of the state due to low oil prices. The key question though is how to bring about reconciliation, justice and peace in a divided country. Continue reading “Getting back to the start: South Sudan establishes a unity government”

History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims

The word “historic” is used quite a bit these days. And yet, the agreement reached between the Colombian government and the FARC is such an historic event, although we will have to wait most likely until 23 March 2016, until a final peace agreement is going to be signed. What happened? The government and the leftist guerrilla group reached an agreement inside the fourth point on the negotiation agenda, the victims chapter and decided to sign a final peace agreement in the next six months. Continue reading “History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims”

20 years later, the ghosts of Srebrenica are still alive

The mass killings of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys around Srebrenica carried out by Bosnian Serb troops in July 1995 is widely referred to as the single worst massacre in Europe after World War II. The cruel events happened in the very last months of the civil war in Bosnia (1992-1995) and involved the failure of Dutch UN peacekeeping troops and the international community at large to protect innocent civilians. On 11 July 2015, the 20 years commemoration of the genocide takes place, bringing many world leaders to the memorial in Potocari. In Serbia as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, however, the population is still split about what happened and how “Srebrenica” should be remembered. The ugly business of memory politics is still in the making. Continue reading “20 years later, the ghosts of Srebrenica are still alive”

Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations

Colombia will create a truth commission. The Colombian government and the left-wing guerrilla FARC decided on 4 June 2015 to set up a body that should clarify major human rights violations committed by all sides. It should reveal past atrocities, recognize the victims and make sure that these kinds of crimes will not be repeated in the future. While a big step forward, many challenges remain ahead. Continue reading “Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations”

Charlie Hebdo: Do not allow them to win!

The discussion after the barbaric attack of Charlie Hebdo is one that has been seen before: the freedom of free speech and expression versus religious sensitivities. Cartoons about current political and social matters in a satiric way are seen as a key part of a free and democratic society and one of the big achievements during the enlightenment period by many in Europe, and even more so in France. Continue reading “Charlie Hebdo: Do not allow them to win!”

Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes”

Over the period of seven months, I was part of “Somos CaPAZes”, an NGO consisting of students and young professionals who work with disadvantaged children in Bogotá. More precisely, we worked in peace education in Ciudad Bolívar, the poorest part of Colombia’s capital Bogotá. Continue reading “Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes””

Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers

Third parties dealing with violent conflict through non-violent means has produced two types of people out there: human rights activists and conflict resolvers. From the outside it appears to be obvious that human rights advocates and conflict resolution practitioners would closely cooperate, or in fact are the same type of people because they work in very similar environments. However, they are not the same people and they can speak very different languages. Continue reading “Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers”

The rocky relations between peace and justice

How can we reach sustainable peace after violent conflict? We need to convince the conflict parties to halt the violence and bring the conflict to an end. We need to convince the belligerents, particularly the government, to address the structural violence in society that always exists in violent conflict. We need to achieve peace and justice to reach a stable and democratic society. Continue reading “The rocky relations between peace and justice”

Ten reasons why armed drones should be banned

Drones look harmless but have a devastating effect. (c) Wikipedia

Armed drones also kill civilians, including children. (c) Flickr - Debra Sweet
Armed drones also kill civilians, including children. (c) Flickr - Debra Sweet

In his 2014 state of the union address, Barack Obama said he has put “prudent limits” on the use of drones. However, not much will change, because people who are classified as “terrorists” by the U.S. government will continuously be attacked by drones. Moreover, the big cloud of secrecy over drones will not be made more transparent. To me, the use of armed drones are against international law and morally wrong. I want to prove with 10 points in this blog post that armed drones should not be used. Continue reading "Ten reasons why armed drones should be banned"