Major Bomb Blast in Oslo – A Call to Action

July 22, 2011 1 comment

A large bomb has exploded in the center of Oslo. At least two people have been confirmed killed and several more are in hospital. This is the largest explosion of this kind in Norway since the second world war. My thoughts go to the families and loved ones of those who have died – and to all of us around the world. Every bomb, every attack, every killing, whether done by organisations or states, has to stop. I’ve spent the day writing on the war in Iraq, and the last weeks recording its impact – as well as the incredible and courageous stories of what many people in Iraq (religious leaders, youth, men, women, tribal leaders, unions, citizens) are doing to end violence. We are living in an absolutely extraordinary world. It is filled with incredible acts of humanity, beauty, dignity, creativity, inspiration and daily survival. Billions wake up and work each day to do the best we can in our lives and for our families. Far too many people – billions – live in deprivation. For many, living conditions have improved dramatically over the past 60 years. For a few, there wealth now exceeds anything most people could even conceive of – while billions live in want. War and poverty do not just happen though. They are the results of our policies and choices. In the last years we have seen — and allowed — a dynamic of war and hatred to guide and affect far too many of our policies, and far too many people around the world. Our global military budget has gone up by more than 48% in the last 10 years. While many people are working in peacebuilding around the world – or for sister causes in social justice, human rights, and for uplifting and improving the lives of people in our countries and communities and around the world: we not doing enough. We need to increase, intensify and escalate the scale and impact of what we are doing, until no one, anywhere in the world, has to live in fear or in the daily reality of violence. Every woman, man and child should be safe in their homes and in their villages, cities and communities. Our investment in war and failed policies – on all sides – which have only escalated violence and terror, need to be changed. We KNOW peacebuilding can work. We know that we need intelligent and honest policies which have the courage to work even in the face of incredible challenge. We know that the overwhelming vast majority of all of us in the world want to live lives in freedom, with hope, mutual respect, dignity and our basic human needs satisfied. We don’t need armies and massive military investments. We need the courage to address conflicts effectively and to overcome demonization, hatred and enemy images. We don’t need economic systems and policies which enrich the few while many people are further impoverished. We need just, transparent and democratic political, social and economic systems which guarantee the needs and rights of all people. This is an appeal. It’s an appeal to every person who reads this, every person who shares this, every person who looks around at what is happening in the world, is stunned by the beauty and amazing things they see, and saddened or righteously angered and outraged by the injustice and violence we are witnessing and allowing to take place. It is a call to responsibility, and to action, a call to cooperation, and to stand up and make a difference. Local and global shifts have happened at many points in history. They happen when enough people unite to say: ‘we want this change’ or ‘we will no longer allow this to continue’. Well: I want this change. I will no longer allow this to continue. And: I will do all I can to work together with people around the world to bring about a change, and to replace – and END – a logic of violence and war with a logic of democracy, respect, human rights, human dignity and peace.

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UK Parliamentary Debate on Conflict Prevention

Simon Hughes has been granted a debate on Conflict Prevention in Westminster Hall on Tuesday morning at 9am. Briefing material is being compiled and posted on the website:

http://www.conflictissues.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=114&Itemid=45

The World Development Report 2011 ‘Facts and figures’ and ‘Synopsis’ is especially useful (and short) background reading.

Please check regularly between now and Tuesday morning for updates.

Secretariat, APPG on Conflict Issues
http://www.conflictissues.org.uk

The Secretariat to the APPGCI is provided by Engi, a social venture that aims to further effective, non-violent conflict management by strengthening links between peace-building and Parliament, government, civil society and the private sector. http://www.engi.org.uk