Week 3 at USIP was particularly exciting. I finished organizing our INPROL website digital library resources on Afghanistan. I also completed the edits required, like finding faulty links and typos. Now I get to move on to actually vetting the sources and updating the content page. This will take several weeks I expect, but I know I will learn a lot. It gives me an opportunity to do more international legal research and writing editing. Partners of the INPROL Afghan page include the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Institute for International Law and Human Rights, and William & Mary Law School. Here are some links:
What I'm most excited about for this week is the first blog we got posted from my conversations with Afghan former MP Gharghashta. I wrote the post using her words, in the first person, about her background in getting involved with the Afghan government. She was very pleased with our outcome and our Afghan experts approved of the content as well. I was nervous about this first type of blog writing I've done for USIP, but I received few edits and general praise, so that is exciting! The Afghan elections took place this past weekend, so I will next speak with Gharghashta about her impressions on the results and what she has heard from friends, family, and local media in Afghanistan. Check out the post:
I want to mention a cool event I attended at USIP this past week. It was about music as non-violent action for change. Non-violent civic participation across the world has increasingly assisted with political, social, and economic change. The panel consisted of 3 professionals who have consistently worked at the nexus of music and non-violent action: Arash Sobhani (underground, Iranian musician), Timothy O'Keefe (music producer and co-founder of Freedom Beat Recordings), and Dr. Maria Stephan (leading scholar on strategic non-violent action). We watched a documentary featuring Arash's journey to Istanbul, Cairo, and Beirut, where he interviewed artists whose music has helped to capture and fuel non-violent movements. I took away several key messages. Positive energy will tend to trump negative. If one responds to an oppressive government with violent protests, the government can feel somewhat justified in retaliating with even more aggression and violence. This can result in the initially well-intented protestors becoming "bad guys" themselves and having their message tainted by violence, possibly resulting in the loss of domestic and international support. However, if society responds to an unjust government through civic participation and non-violent movements, eventually this work will become engrained in the society's culture and those who oppose the progress, especially in violent ways, will look even more at fault and foolish in relation to the peaceful protestors. The panelists drew several parallels to the Civil Rights Movement as led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the US. We need governments to take non-violent action seriously and not as "soft" or "weak" or secondary to military intervention. The way to effectuate political and the necessary social (which so many disregard) changes to bring about peace in the Middle East is first by non-violent movements that can connect with the souls of the locals. In every culture portrayed in Arash's documentary, music serves a critical role and can prove a useful tool in building peace. Check out more info below:
That's all for now, thanks!