8 December 2007


“Conflict is inevitable” but “all conflicts, no matter what the cause, can offer an opportunity to resolve unbalanced power relations” said Emmanuel Bombadene Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP) when he addressed a combined meeting of Franciscans International and Edmund Rice International personnel in Geneva recently.

Educated by the Presentation Brothers in Ghana, Emmanuel is a living example of the importance of investing in people, something he also stressed in his presentation.

Whilst urging a focus on conflict prevention rather than post-conflict reconstruction he argued that the best solution is to transform, rather than resolve conflict.

On a global level, the most effective way of transforming conflict is through mediation, facilitation, conciliation and negotiation, a lesson much of the world has still to absorb given its propensity to try and impose peace by force as exemplified by Iraq and the “war on terror”.

A more detailed account of Emmanuel’s presentation can be found at the Edmund Rice International website.


Delegates and scientists from around the world attending the opening of the biggest-ever climate change conference earlier this month, urged rapid progress in building a new international pact by 2009 to combat global warming – or risk economic and environmental disaster.

Some 10,000 people from nearly 190 countries have gathered on the resort island of Bali for two weeks of UN-led talks that follow a series of scientific reports this year which concluded that the world has the technology to slow global warming, but must act immediately.

The Fourth Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released in November.

Among its conclusions were that climate change is "unequivocal", that humankind's emissions of greenhouse gases are more than 90% likely to be the main cause, and that impacts can be reduced at reasonable cost. It also states that climate change may bring "abrupt and irreversible" impacts. Such impacts could include the fast melting of glaciers and species extinctions. "Approximately 20-30% of species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average temperature exceed 1.5-2.5C (relative to the 1980-1999 average)," the summary concluded.

Other potential impacts highlighted in the text included:
- between 75m and 250m people are projected to have scarcer fresh water supplies than at present
- yields from rain-fed agriculture could be halved
- food security is likely to be further compromised in Africa
- there will be widespread impacts on coral reefs

AVAAZ is organizing an online virtual global march to Bali to demonstrate to world leaders the depth of concern over this issue and to demand they take immediate and decisive action on climate change.

Get-Up is also organizing a similar petition to be sent to the Australian Government.


At the annual commemoration of Human Rights Day on Dec 10th, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations is due to announce a yearlong campaign leading up to the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948.

For all its flaws the UN remains the world’s best hope of building a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, described by Pope John Paul II as "one of the highest expressions of the human conscience of our time", and the Convention on the Rights of the Child deserve to be better known and understood as they can be powerful tools in applying moral pressure to governments in order to bring about change.

Traditionally the work of Religious Congregations has been to minister directly to people by providing them with faith based services in education, health etc thereby changing their lives for the better.

The UN and its system provide an opportunity to influence decisions that are made at a governmental and global level thereby improving the lives of a much greater number of people.

Involvement in the UN system is most effective in places where the UN is based and where international NGO’s are concentrated eg Geneva, New York.

The above considerations have led to the establishment of Edmund Rice International in Geneva.

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