Peace and Development

Altansuvd BrewinYesterday the Association for the Development of Mongolian Women in Europe (ADMWE) held an event on International Womens Day at the UPF-UK HQ. 

The event, mainly organised by the Chief Executive of ADMWE, Altansuvd Brewin (photo left), combined themes of classical Mongolian and European music with talks on diet and beauty in between speeches from influential ladies. The Co-Founder and President of ADMWE, Enke Enkhjargal Danzanbaljir, in the keynote address explained that the Association's prime humanitarian aim was to improve the prevention of cervical cancer in Mongolia for which an auction was held during the evening.

Several speakers encouraged women's entrepeneurship during the evening. Madi Sharma, the UK Representative on the European Economic and Social Committee, asserted that having more women in the Boardroom could prevent another recession because the innate female leadership style can be more long term and nurturing. This can complement the tendency of male leadership to focus on shorter term profits.

Elizabeth Crowther-Hunt LVO, the Chief Executive of Westminster Business Council, explained that women entrepeneurs are a largely untapped resource in the UK. She described how the Business Council seeks to empower women entrepeneurs through advice, networking opportunities and suggesting experienced business mentors to support new entrepeneurs.

Marina Cantacuzino My background is journalism and I’ve always known that its real people’s stories which move people, make them sit up and listen – far more than the expert, the politician, or the journalist.  It was the lead up to the war in Iraq, and against a background of noisy headlines of payback, revenge and retaliation, I decided to collect stories about Forgiveness and Reconciliation.  It was a personal project, something I felt compelled to do, and I did it in my spare time (in between other journalistic assignments for the Red Cross and Oxfam) with a photographer friend/colleague.  In the end we had 26 stories from around the world - of victims who have become friends with perpetrators, terrorists who have turned their mind to peace building. Thanks to funding from Anita Roddict who saw the raw material and described it as an ‘inspiration of the human spirit’, the stories then became an exhibition of words and portraits, which launched in January 2004 at the Oxo Gallery, London.  I called the exhibition The F Word because forgiveness for some is a dirty word – it seems to inspire and affront people equally.

Keith Best

Keith Best, CEO, of Torture Care, gave a short history of torture practices, and opposed any justification to torture, calling it ‘morally repugnant’. Torture is taking life without killing. Its fundamental purpose is to destroy someone's personality. It confounds the basic tennets of all the major religions. The inalienable rights to freedom and human dignity which come from God. The fact that the United States under George Bush Jr. was prepared to waterboard individuals and give evidence to the senatorial committee explaining that they had waterboarded people, I believe, lost the United States all moral authority as a result and did civilisation lasting damage.

Sheikh RahmanSheikh Rahman began his speech with an invocation. He said that if he had done that in Pakistan he would be charged and would be in prison. "Thanks Robin Marsh and Margaret Ali for allowing make the presentation to this august gathering in the Houses of Parliament."

He said, "I have campaigned with my friends and colleagues within the community to seek redress against the draconian laws and the injustice that exists even within the constitution of Pakistan and that are in complete opposition not only to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Pakistan is a signatory, but also in contradiction to the (Pakistan’s) constitution itself. It is a difficult subject. 

Lord Ahmed`Chaired by Lord King of West Bromwich and Margaret Ali (Director UPF – UK), the first speaker was Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham who was speaking on the topic of Universal Human Rights for Humanity. After thanking Dr Song, Robin and Margaret and those involved in UPF and WFWP for organising the conference, Lord Ahmed went on to talk passionately about issues of human rights in countries across the globe, asking if, on this 63rd anniversary of Human Rights Day, we had really progressed. He had attended the earlier session considering ‘Human Rights in Europe’. He wondered, for example, if in the case of the Minarets in Switzerland, you should allow media and press to demonise communities.

Silvia EscobarThe former Human Rights Ambassador for Spain, Silvia Escobar, pointed out the role that institutions like the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe play in securing human rights in Europe. She highlighted that the different articles of the UDHR are closely interconnected and “the failure of one is abuse of another.” Escobar emphasised that at the core of the matter is dignity, which is the foundation for peace, security and freedom. She remarked “dignity even comes before equality.”

PanelCommemorating Human Rights Day 2011

Committee Room 4A, House of Lords

Chaired by Lord King of West Bromwich and Margaret Ali (Director UPF – UK), the first speaker was Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham who was speaking on the topic of Universal Human Rights for Humanity. After thanking Dr Song and those involved in UPF and WFWP for organising the conference, Lord Ahmed went on to talk passionately about issues of human rights in countries across the globe, clarifying that our rights are given to us by ‘God Almighty’, and that December 10th is a day to remember that we are very fortunate that we do have rights. The second speaker, Keith Best, gave us his insight into torture, posing the question, Why Do We Still Tolerate Torture? Mr Best, having had much experience as CEO of Torture Care, gave a short history of torture practices, and opposed any justification to torture, calling it ‘morally repugnant’. He expressed his optimism that torture practices across the globe can finally be eradicated. Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP (Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK) was the third speaker of the session, speaking on the topic of Islam and Human Rights emphasising the perspective of Islam on human rights with support from the Qu’ran, and the power of education as a tool that not only promotes human rights but also combats issues such as poverty. The final speaker of the session, Prof. Unni Wikan (University of Oslo), began by telling of the moving story of Fadima, a 26 year old women killed by her father in 2002, in what is known as ‘Honour Based Violence’. Prof. Wikan described it as a practice that cuts across religions and societies, with a solution in locating the signs that could lead to violence before that violence occurs.

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