August 2014

Professor Kevin Clements honoured with the Peacemaker Award
28 August 2014

Professor Kevin Clements, Director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, was honoured with the Peacemaker Award at The Peace Foundation Annual General Meeting in Auckland recently.
 
The award for Professor Clements appreciated his outstanding contribution to peace education and peace development in New Zealand and globally. Later he also delivered a keynote speech on ‘Challenging dominance, building peace’, in which he identified the costs of violence and the cultures of dominance within our societies.
 
Professor Clements noted that the economic impact of violence in 2013 was estimated to be US$9.8 trillion or 11.3% of world GDP, a 3.8% rise on the 2012 figure. But in addition to the material costs of violence, he stated, “We need to be mindful of the political economy of emotions, particularly those caused by preventable suffering, violence and death. These are never captured in cost benefit analysis. These costly emotions persist through time and subvert peaceful and just processes”.
 
Professor Clements observed that the fall in global peacefulness is largely driven by changes in what he described as “internal peacefulness”. And while New Zealand is well within the world’s top ten most peaceful countries, it’s ranking has slipped over the past 12 months.
 
Identifying the domestic drivers of what he termed the “external pathology” of violence, he argued that it begins with the hierarchical social and political identities within our own families, communities and nation. In these dominatory cultures there are “clear top dogs and underdogs; included and excluded”, and an acceptance of the inequality and violence that maintains these hierarchies.
 
“We have to oppose domination wherever we see it at all levels”, stated Clements. “These are not optional extras but are critical to a more just and peaceful world.”
 
In addition to hearing reports from The Peace Foundation officials, the AGM also saw the election unopposed of all nominees to the Foundation’s council. President Dr John Hinchcliff CNZM was returned for another term.

The Peace Foundation wishes to thank Professor Kevin Clements for his excellent work in the field of peace development - it is inspiring to have such a decorated academic endeavour to not just work to solve existing problems, but to analyse why they occurred in the first place.
 


Gaza conflict highlights concerns over NZ Super Fund investment practices
12 August 2014

Labour’s foreign affairs and energy spokesman, David Shearer, recently called for the NZ Superanuation Fund to immediately drop its shareholding in an Israeli chemical company that produces white phosphorus. In addition to divestment, the The Peace Foundation recommends that the Government take immediate measures to exclude all weapons manufacturers from its investment portfolios.
 
White Phosphorus is known to cause horrific burns and, if used as an incendiary weapon, is banned under the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. It has reportedly been used in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, the Yemen, and recently both Israel and Kiev have used it in populated areas.

As well as melting skin away from the bone, white phosphorus can cause death when inhaled. The chemical has been listed as a hazardous air pollutant by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
 
According to NZ Super’s 2013 annual report, the Fund is a founding signatory of the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), which is an investor initiative in partnership with both United Nation's Environment Programme's  Finance Initiative and UN’s Global Compact.

Since dropping shares in cluster bomb manufacturers, NZ Super Fund has shown some awareness of responsible investment, which is commendable. Yet, its UNPRI credentials stand for little when viewed in the context of its investment in Israel Chemicals Ltd, a manufacturer of white phosphorus. It appears that the NZ Super Fund is failing to meet its own ethical standards.

Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, which manages the fund’s assets, is a statutory crown entity. Its investments, therefore, should reflect the position of the government and, most importantly, the values of the people of New Zealand.

The Peace Foundation therefore calls on the Fund to immediately divest its holdings in Israel Chemicals Ltd. The Peace Foundation further recommends that the Government review the processes by which it makes investment decisions on behalf of New Zealanders, and ensure that all weapons manufacturers are excluded from its investment portfolios.
 
For inquiries, contact:
Caroline Ongleo-Calub, Director, The Peace Foundation
Ph: 09373 2379
Mob: 022 636 2843
caroline@peacefoundation.org.nz


The Peace Foundation calls for lasting peace in Gaza
4 August 2014

The president of the New Zealand Peace Foundation, Dr John Hinchcliff, CNZM, has written to Prime Minister John Key in relation to the deteriorating situation in Gaza.
 
The letter calls on the Government to influence the UN to bring about an immediate ceasefire, ask Israel and Palestine to pay reparations and recognise each other’s right to existence, investigate human rights violations and convene a panel of experts to drive much needed education for peace.  
 
The letter also recommends that the Government supplement the $250,000 in humanitarian aid it has already allocated to Gaza with further funds to aid those displaced by the violence. It also calls on the Government to support Palestine’s efforts to join the International Criminal Court.
 
“While the aggression by Hamas cannot be condoned”, wrote Dr Hinchcliff, “the disproportionality of the Israeli response clearly oversteps the boundaries of self-defence and enters the realm of crimes against humanity.” Calling on Mr Key to pressure the UN to require both sides to pay reparations, such as new homes, schools and hospitals, the recommendations ask for specific measures to address the death and destruction wreaked by the Israeli military.
 
In particular, the letter calls the UN to investigate Israel’s use of banned weapons, such as white phosphorus and flechettes, and its carrying out of other human right abuses. Dr Hinchcliff further noted that Israel be compelled to pay the medical costs of those harmed. "Residents of Gaza should also be allowed to travel freely", he continued, "and Israel required to establish high quality schools and full scholarships for the youth of Gaza equivalent to the number of people killed so that they have the opportunity to attend a university of their choice.”
 
Given The Peace Foundation’s key role as an educator and promoter for peace, it is unsurprising that among the letter’s recommendations is that the UN request all schools and universities in the area to provide in their curricula mutually agreed material explaining why the UN exists and how contentious issues can be resolved through non-violent means.
 
Dr Hinchcliff noted that the cycle of death and destruction perpetrated by extreme forces on both sides evidenced the need for third party and international support for resolving the ongoing conflict, and that New Zealand should be leading the way. This is an opportunity, he stressed, for New Zealand to “maintain its proud tradition of ethical and political leadership in promoting a just and peaceful world.”
 
The letter has been endorsed by the United Nations Association of New Zealand, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago and the Peace Foundation Disarmament and Security Centre, with members and friends of The Peace Foundation joining a growing tide of demand for more Government action in stopping the violence.
 
For enquiries:
Caroline Ongleo-Calub, Director, New Zealand Peace Foundation.
Ph: 09373 2379,
Mob: 022 636 2843
caroline@peacefoundation.org.nz