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2012 [PDF] - Clark University

2012 [PDF] - Clark University

2012 [PDF] - Clark

“We have no guns but we have our microphones!” With these words Chouchou Namegabe highlighted her mission as a Congolese journalist and human rights advocate: to bring the plight of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the forefront of national and international consciousness. The founder of South Kivu’s Women’s Media Association, Namegabe’s keynote speech addressed sexual violence in the Congo and served as a call to action for the one thousand people in attendance. Her talk opened the international summit Informed Activism: Armed Conflict, Scarce Resources, and Congo hosted by the Strassler Center, in partnership with Jewish World Watch, and supported by philanthropist Albert Tapper. Students, activists, academics, community members, and representatives from government and nongovernmental organizations gathered at Clark for an unprecedented opportunity for coalition building between individuals and organizations that seek to end the conflict in the DRC. Introducing Namegabe, Clark University President David Angel announced that the University has approved a purchasing policy that favors companies which have adopted a process certifying that their electronic devices use conflictfree minerals. Clark is at the forefront among universities in approving such a policy thanks, in part, to Naama Haviv ’00, MA (ABD) ’06. Speaking at the Strassler Center in fall 2010, Haviv inspired Clark undergraduates from STAND (the student division of the Genocide Intervention Network) to lobby the University to avoid the purchase of products that contribute to the violence in Congo. Addressing, as Professor Cynthia Enloe phrased it, “the convergence of the politics of minerals and the politics of sexual violence, together, and at the same time,” a diverse group of activists, bureaucrats, and academics took to the lectern. Many spoke in broad terms about the horrific violence. George Weiss, founder and CEO of Radio La Benevolencija Humanitarian Tools Foundation, by contrast, suggested a seemingly simple step for implementing feasible and peaceful change on the ground. To de-escalate the violence, he recommended that the Congolese government pay the salaries of their civil servants. “Pay the civil servants,” he advised, “and peace will become a more viable reality.” Chloe Schwenke, a Senior Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), asked the audience for solutions, encouraging them to strassler center for holocaust & genocide studies events and linkages summit: “informed activism: armed conflict, scarce resources, and congo,” 23-25 september 2011 reach out to USAID with thoughts on how to intervene, act, at clark university and implement change in Congo. Congolese activist Fidel Bafilemba from the Enough Project called 2011 for - a 2012 “zero tolerance” corruption policy, mirroring successful efforts in Rwanda, to eradicate the culture of year end report “help yourself” in Congo that perpetuates violence. Adam Keith, Desk Officer for the Africa Great Lakes at the US State Department, pointed to the mineral trade in Congo as the main drive for conflict but also the entry point for action, citing five components of US government policy aimed at addressing the violence. And Naama Haviv, Assistant Director of Jewish World Watch, urged action in lieu of semantics, emphasizing the gap between US government policy and actions on the ground. The last speaker of the morning, Saleem Ali, offered a scholarly explanation of the multi-causal association between minerals and the violent competition for control of them in the DRC. Ali, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, encouraged less reliance on regression models used to build associations between variables, as they fail to address multi-causality. Looking at the range of Summit participants, Ali reflected, “we are all activists.” And rightly so, as “neutrality favors the oppressor.” Sara E. Brown {1}

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