This week I am in Costa Rica presenting on the subject of ‘Community-based Resilience as a Strategy for Prevention of Mass Atrocity Crimes’ – taking what I do at the grassroots with communities and placing it in the global, multilateral context. I still remember how to speak ‘UN’ and this feels like a good place to be. Yet, it doesn’t take long before I recall why presentations such as mine stick out as odd. States and multilaterals talk to states and often find it difficult to find the ways and means within their respective mandates to support community-based training and mobilisation – particularly when those countries most at risk, most in need of such initiatives are led by people who are, in the example of Sudan, indicted in absentia before the international criminal court for genocide and crimes against humanity – the very definition of mass atrocity crimes – and thus with no interest in an informed and mobilised citizenry.
We will talk about R2P (Responsibility to Protect, first articulated by Canada’s Lloyd Axworthy), its worthy goals and its contradictions; about children in armed conflict and the gender dimensions of violence, of social disintegration – and of disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation. We will talk about the definition of resilience: what’s inherent, what’s learned; about the potential for atrocity-defying resilience in grassroots, history-defying, social norm-, cultural-, religious- and warrior-defying work of nonviolence training – in which we discover that negotiations and mediations and proliferating peace agreements are most effective when laid on the foundation of a people yearning for peace.