On 7th November 2013, Uniting for Peace hosted a conference at the House of Lords:
THE REAL AGENDA; SYRIA, MALI & DRC - TERRORISM OR RESOURCE WARS?
"The West has ridden a coach & horses through the International Rule of Law"
Founder of Uniting for Peace, Vijay Mahta, chaired the meeting, with Lord Frank Judd (former Minister for International Development) on his right and Dr Makram Khoury-Machool (SOAS University of London) on his left and received questions from the floor in the House of Lords committee room.
Vijay Mehta (Founder of Uniting for Peace) was accompanied on the panel by Lord Judd, Prof. Jeremy Keenan, Kate Downey, Dr Makram Khoury-Machool & Rev. Brian Cooper for this fascinating evening. The panel each addressed the meeting for ten minutes, highlighting issues around terrorism in the three regions under discussion.
Between them they painted a fairly horrific picture of international interference in the regions, as part of an historic pillage of recourses and attempt to exert influence. The author Prof. Keenan concluded his consideration of Mali by calling the situation 'Extremely bleak". Ms Downey talked of the 5-10 million who had died within the last decade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during a continued rape of that countries extraordinarily rich natural resources. Dr Khoury-Machool described the unfolding devastation in Syria as the "Holocaust of the 21st Century".
Questions from the floor were impassioned and at times incensed. One could sense the frustration that is widely felt, though the helpfulness of such anger is debatable. One speaker called NATO the main problem, as an outdated post 2nd WW instrument that was now a "terrorist organisation" itself. Another asked when Tony Blair, as largely responsible for the 2nd Iraq War, would be required to face the International Criminal Court. There was talk of the arrogance of the super-powers and the irrelevance of the present structure of the UN Security Council, formed after the 2nd WW.
Lord Judd spoke of the need to seek peace rather than vengeance but did admit the West had ridden a "coach & horses through the International Rule of Law". He also spoke eloquently of the need for society to balance the need for personal identity with at the same time, striving to reach out to all peoples. A balance that was crucial to peace-building, especially as societies felt marginalised by the rise of the single market culture.
It was a spirited evening, with much wisdom spoken. It was refreshing to hear experts in their field speak candidly about issues few others dare tackle. Perhaps more than anything, the conference highlighted the need for like-minded peace activists to unite with a single, clear voice to challenge the status quo and the disastrous path upon which its thinking has set us.
Anthony Russell, founder of The Chandos with Sean Wong among the guests at the conference.