Peacebuilding takes many forms. Across the Pacific and Asia, thousands of people and organisations dedicate themselves to preventing violence, negotiating peace and confronting the physical and human legacies of past conflict. In this session, hosted by Peacifica, we will hear from people working in the region and in Australia to build peace in both familiar and unexpected contexts. We will survey work being done in Afghanistan, Myanmar, West Papua, Papua New Guinea, Mindanao (Philippines), the Pacific and Australia, encompassing the latest, hottest conflicts and those from the past whose effects are still very real.
Join us on Friday 24 September at 2PM on this challenging yet hopeful journey across our region.
Afghanistan: Dr Susanne Schmeidl
Susanne is a critical peace scholar-practitioner with nearly three decades of experience working at the intersection of conflict, peace and development in South Asia, the Horn of Africa and Latin America. Her research focuses on generating new insights and critical interventions in three intersecting areas: 1) understanding drivers of conflict & forced migration to inform early warning and conflict prevention; 2) inclusive and locally-led peace formation; & 3) conflict-sensitive practice; with cross-cutting focus on intersectionality. She started working on Afghanistan in the early 1990s, visited first in 2000 and lived in the country between 2002 and 2014 working with two grass-roots organisations she co-founded on civilian peacebuilding and targeted research to inform development, humanitarian and peacebuilding actors. Currently she is Project Director of the Afghanistan Conflict Sensitive Mechanism (a collaboration between Saferworld, swisspeace, and two Afghan organisations) providing research and advisory to the UK Foreign Office. Susanne also an honorary academic with the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), sits on the board of the Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network, Peacifica, and is a member of Interpeace’s Peace Responsiveness Expert Roster, and a thematic editor for Development in Practice.
Myanmar: Dr Emma Leslie, Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies (based in Phnom Penh)
Emma Leslie, an Australian – Cambodian, is the founder director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, supporting peace processes and conflict transformation in Asia. She developed the MA and Ph.D. programs in Applied Conflict Transformation Studies (ACTS), launched the Cambodia Peace Museum and for a decade has served the Philippine Government – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace talks as a member of the International Contact Group (ICG). Emma has been actively engaged in Myanmar for 25 years, made several peace missions to North Korea, and accompanies many non-state actors in their negotiations strategies. Emma teaches mediation annually at the Swedish government’s Folke Bernadotte Academy to United Nations personnel . Emma is an active member of the South East Asia Women Mediators and Peace Negotiators and the Women Mediators Across the Commonwealth (WMC) and on the board of the Centre for Peacebuilding at the University of Melbourne. She holds an MA in International Development, an honorary Ph.D. in Education, and an Order of Australia.
Pacific: SafeGround (Elyse Cunningham & Jeanne Wills)
Elyse and Jeanne are filling in for Mette Eliseussen today. Elyse is in her final semester of her International Studies Degree at RMIT University in Melbourne. Jeanne has recently graduated from RMIT with an International Studies Degree. They have both been working with SafeGround for almost a year. Mette Eliseussen began work in mine action in 1989. She co-founded and was part of the Afghan Campaign to Ban Landmines when she was a member of the 1997 ICBL Nobel Peace Prize winning team. In 1997 she received the ‘Barn av Jorden’ award for her work with children in Kabul during war. She was the director of Ban Bus, and ran speaking tours across USA and more than 20 countries in Europe to lobby national governments and civil society on the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions. Mette was the Program Manager with Save the Children in Afghanistan for 3 years from 1995 until 1997, designing, managing and evaluating projects regarding landmine awareness, early childhood development, public health, women’s literacy programs and micro credit for women. She also worked as Project manager for Norwegian Peoples Aid, in Western Sahara/Algeria. She is a campaign consultant, having worked for the Cluster Munitions Coalition to assist an array of some hundred different national campaigns.
Pacific – Australian South Sea Islands: (Waskam) Emelda Davis ASSI-PJ
(Waskam ) Emelda Davis is founding chairwoman for Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson) (ASSIPJ) a social justice and community development not-for-profit. Emelda has extensive working experience in capacity building for Indigenous, ASSI, Pacific and CALD communities. Her expertise covers media, education, training, arts entertainment having worked for federal and state government agencies as well as grassroots organisations. More recently in 2020 Emelda was awarded the NSW Premiers Medal – Settlement Services International Human Rights Award, completed a Masters by Research in ASSI oral history ‘Children of the Sugar Slaves – Black and Resilient’ with University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and is a 2021 candidate for Team Clover City of Sydney Council elections. Research: Children of the Sugar Slaves; Black & Resilient. https://opus.lib.uts.edu.au/handle/10453/143969
Papua New Guinea: Dr Michael Mel (Peacifica – based in Mount Hagen, PNG)
Michael A. Mel (Ph.D) recently completed a stint with the Australian Museum as manager of the Pacific and International Collection. The Museum has one of the largest Collections of cultural material from the Pacific region. He gained the skills and knowledge of the Mbo Wamp (Mogei) of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) with a focus on their world view and performance arts of storytelling and dance. He has worked with a range of scholars in higher education, curators and artists in PNG and the Pacific region with a focus on cultural heritage and change. Michael has worked with a variety of Museums, tertiary institutions and supports research organisations including CABAH in an advisory capacity, NGOs including Peacifica and RCF as a member of the Boards. For his work in celebrating and safeguarding culture in the region, the Royal Dutch family and the Government of the Netherlands recognized him with a Prince Claus Foundation Award. Currently, he is serving as advisor on matters relating to history and heritage and advocacy on Indigenous knowledge and ways to Museums and researchers. He is also an advocate for REAL ways to sustain and maintain a future for the Mogei and communities in PNG. For a recent engagement in this see Moana Oceania Tok Stories – Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi
Philippines (Mindanao): Christine Bernadette Almoite
Christine Bernadette Almoite is a 2019 Australia Awards Scholarship Recipient who earned her master’s degree in International Development Practice at Monash University. She is currently working full-time as the Executive Assistant to the Cabinet Secretary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in the Philippines and a part-time Gender Consultant for various ministries in BARMM Government, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and a Research Associate at the Ateneo School of Government. She is also the co-creator of her passion project called WOMAD Media (a portmanteau of ‘Women’ and the acronym ‘Making A Difference’), a media platform that aims to inspire a generation of learners through smart and engaging educational content.
West Papua: Australian West Papua Association – Ronny Kareni
Ronny Kareni is a Canberra-based West Papuan youth leader, musician and trained diplomat who lived several years as a refugee in Papua New Guinea. He has a master degree in diplomacy from Australian National University and is the co-founder of the Rize of the Morning Star, a musical and cultural movement. He provides indigenous perspective for the West Papua Project at the University of Wollongong and consults on the Pacific mission for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Domestic implications: Anne Noonan
A practising psychiatrist working in central Australia with a particular interest in forensic Indigenous mental health. Member of of WILPF , MAPW and AWPA , NFIP.
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