Corruption. Opposition. Reconciliation?
‘Just Governance’, the theme of this week’s conference, is but a distant dream for some participants.
When the opening plenary started today, there was a sense of anticipation in the room. Serious, painful wounds were likely to be opened, all in the hope of reconciliation. But how can the wounds of the past be brought into the open and turned into healing? This was the question posed to panelists, Joe Montville, Matthias Stiefel, and Lena Kashkarova, which set the tone for the day. Montville stressed that it is hard to find justice in post-conflict areas, but that justice needs to be achieved in order to prove that there is a system in place to protect the people. Stiefel added that there is only one way to really reconcile the past: use external facilitators in an impartial space to allow those involved to work through what is really happening. This is precisely what’s taking place in Caux this week.
Participants from Ukraine, Crimea and Russia, the Sahel (Mali, Niger, Chad), Turkey and Armenia are all grouped together under one roof, dealing with topics specific to their conflicts. Needless to say, the debate is getting heated.
Hannah Hopko, Ukranian activist, discussed her struggle to overcome corruption. She spoke about how the revolution in Ukraine was supposed to be a peaceful protest to promote a strong Ukraine with EU values, but how it unfortunately descended into more than 100 deaths. Ukraine has now brought in ten new laws specifically aimed at having a more transparent government, and as an activist, she organizes protests to remind the government of its responsibilities. Hopko stressed that it can be difficult to bring in reforms as some people fear the potential instability that change can bring.
Continuing with the Eastern theme, the Eastern European Challenges and Opportunities workshop heard from Mustafa Dzhemilev, a leader of the Crimean Tatar National Movement, a movement representing the indigenous people of Crimea. Introduced as the ’new Gandhi’, in reference to his use of peaceful protest, he described the challenges facing those opposed to Russian rule in Crimea, stressing that he himself is banned from entering the region. With an audience filled with Crimeans, Ukranians and Russians, the tension became palpable, with mixed support for both sides.
The ‘Overcoming Corruption in Governance and Resources‘ workshop dealt with difficulties in the Sahel region, where the subject of weak governments bowing to the demands of drug and human traffickers was discussed. Participants expressed their desire to set up meetings on a constitutional level to gather groups from all over the country to promote justice, truth, and to leverage the role of civil society.
The Caux Artists Program further tackled the theme of conflict through the arts. Rama Mani and Yolande Ambiana took to the stage to bring us on a journey from conflict to resolution through African and Asian poetry and music.
The diverse approaches to healing the wounds of the past represented at Caux are a strong reminder of some of the challenges we face today and the urgent need for peace-building dialogue.