Making Space for Peace: Human Rights Defenders and peacebuilding

Time/date: 6.30pm-8.30pm on Wednesday evenings from the 1st of May.

Venue: Comhlamh Offices, 12 Parliament Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Course Fee€45 waged; €30 for Comhlamh members; €20 for student/unwaged.

Peace Brigades International Ireland is launching an exciting new course entitled “Making Space for Peace: Human rights defenders and peacebuilding.”

The course will take place in Dublin and is a 5 week evening course that provides participants with an introduction to the world of human rights, peacebuilding and the role of civil society and social movements in the achievement of positive peace.

If you are interested in the field of peace studies and the work of human rights defenders in mobilising communities, giving visibility to human rights and promoting sustainable peace then this course is for you!

This course will be interactive and participatory with the aim of supporting you to gain and practice skills integral to the approach of nonviolence and local peacebuilding.

Over the course of five weeks you will learn about some key concepts in peacebuilding with particular focus on nonviolence, the work of human rights defenders in different stages of peace - promoting the reduction of violence, the protection of civilians, local and national dialogue or contributing to national peace processes – and the challenges faced by HRDs through case studies and personal stories from PBI accompanied HRDs and former field volunteers. Furthermore, you will gain an understanding of the international protective accompaniment model pioneered by PBI in areas of conflict and post-conflict and how it supports defenders to do their work despite difficult circumstances.

Specific topics explored will include:

- Introduction to Human Rights, peacebuilding and the role of civil society in peace.

- Introduction to non-violence and peace studies.

- The theory of protection and PBI’s model of international protective accompaniment.

- The role of HRDs in peacebuilding (including advocacy)

- Key case studies from PBI’s work with HRDS that illustrate the connection between HRDs and peacebuilding and the reduction of violence.

The course will run over 5 Wednesday evenings from 6.30-8.30pm, starting on the 1st of May in Comhlámh offices, 12 Parliament Street, Dublin 2.

Spaces are limited, so please get in touch to reserve your place by 24th April. To register just email pbiireland@peacebrigades.org with your name and contact details and we’ll get back to you.

Policy submission to Ireland's new international development policy.

In August 2018, PBI Ireland provided the following submission to the consultation process on Ireland's new policy for international development via the Department of Foreign Affairs.  In this submission, PBI Ireland proposes that the new Policy should include the following specific elements:

  1. The White paper should recognise the vital role of human rights defenders as peacebuilders.

  2. Irish Aid should resource, and Irish diplomatic should facilitate, peace and human rights accompaniment through partnership with civil society organisations.

  3. Recognition of the role of women is critical to the effective implementation of all programmes.

  4. Ireland should develop an integrated and sustained approach to peacebuilding.

Policy submission to Ireland's 3rd National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

In December 2018, PBI Ireland provided input to the consultation process for Ireland's 3rd National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.  PBI Ireland used this opportunity to highlight the need to improve mechanisms under WPS for protecting and empowering women and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in conflict and post-conflict settings. It draws on PBIs experience working alongside WHRDs in our field projects to propose concrete measures that Ireland can take to improve i)conflict prevention; ii)women's economic and political empowerment; and iii) protection and empowerment not only in conflict but in post-conflict contexts as well.

Orientation Day 2018

Want to learn more about PBIs method of nonviolent conflict intervention? Curious about what life is like on a PBI team? Or are you just interested in learning more about our work?

PBI Ireland will facilitate a workshop offering a chance to learn more about our work in the field and to explore nonviolent methods of human rights protection. The workshop will be participatory, using concrete examples from PBI projects that provide a taste of what it is like to volunteer there. This training is highly recommended for candidates interested in volunteering with PBI field projects, however it is also suitable for anyone thinking of volunteering with PBI Ireland or who is interested in practical approaches to nonviolent conflict intervention.

To register for the event please RSVP by emailing pbiireland1@gmail.com by Wednesday 11th July. 

 

Volunteer experience - an Irishwoman in Northern Mexico

On 29th January 2017 I set off to Mexico to join PBI as a volunteer. It was my first time in Mexico and I was a bundle of excitement, nerves and curiosity. Following a week of training in Mexico City I could not wait to get to Chihuahua where I would spend a year as a member of the Northern Team.  I was not sure what to expect as I arrived to my new home and I could not have predicted all that the year would bring and all that I would take from it.

The Northern Team in Chihuahua is one of two field teams in PBI Mexico (the Southern Team is based in Oaxaca). The office is based in Chihuahua and the team covers the northern border states of Chihuahua and neighbouring Coahuila where it accompanies five local human rights organisations and works closely with many more. These organisations work on human rights issues which include impunity and access to justice (including handling cases of disappearances and torture), migrant rights, and land, territory and environmental rights.  During the year I was fortunate to have the chance to visit each of the organisations that we accompanied which involved travelling to the border city of Ciudad Juárez and the Sierra Tarahumara in Chihuahua, and in Coahuila to the cities of Torreón and Saltillo and to the Carbon Region. It was a year of incredible experience to travel across the two northern states and to have the opportunity to know the organisations who we accompanied on a professional and a personal level.

The situation for human rights defenders in Chihuahua and Coahuila is extremely challenging as they face huge risks and potential retaliations for the peaceful and legitimate work that they carry out. Both states have experienced huge violence and human rights violations, much of which can be attributed to the presence of powerful drug cartels and a recent history of state violence as a result of the crackdown on these cartels. In the last year civil society organisations have presented reports regarding alleged crimes against humanity suffered in Chihuahua (presented in June 2018) and Coahuila (July 2017) before the International Criminal Court in the Hague. During my year with PBI I witnessed the incredible bravery of human rights defenders and an undistinguishable determination and hope. However, it was also a year very much marred by the violence and risks that they face. I arrived in Mexico the month that two prominent human rights defenders, Goldman prize winner Isidro Baldenegro López and Juan Ontiveros Ramos were killed within two weeks of each other in the Sierra Tarahumara in Chihuahua as a result of their human rights activism. Human rights defenders and journalists face constant threats, intimidation, physical violence, harassment and criminalisation when the vital work that they carry out for the protection of human rights is seen to threaten the interests of the perpetrators, in a context of the deep-rooted reality of near certain immunity for those responsible.

While there have been encouraging developments in terms of the protection of human rights defenders, including the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and in Chihuahua the Early Warning and Contingency Plan, which came about following a petition from civil society organisations for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists, the violence against them persists. Many therefore rely on protection measures from national and international entities. While the creation of these platforms for the protection of human rights defenders are important advances, and have crucially included the participation of civil society representatives, it is now essential that what has been agreed is implemented.

When asked about my highlights from the year, it is not easy to single out one but what really made the year special is the chance to work closely with human rights defenders, see first hand the incredible work that they are doing and to learn so much from those moments. It was a year of opportunities, challenges, teamwork, creativity, laughter and tears but above all a year during which I had the honour to work alongside incredible and inspiring people and organisations, and to witness their endless determination and courage to continue in the face of ever-present risks and challenges.

Without overlooking the challenges that come as part and parcel of the work of PBI, it is an experience that I am very grateful to have been part of, both on a professional level, as well as on a personal level for the growth and beautiful moments I take with me. A year that is impossible to sum up but which I describe as challenging, emotional, absolutely rewarding and, above all, thanks to the people and organisations that PBI accompanies, incredibly inspiring.