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Ceremony of the Right Livelihood Award 2014

The Youth Future Project in Stockholm

The first event Hate against #femdefenders – How to be a women’s rights defender inspite of death threats was arranged by the Organization Kvinna till Kvinna, a Swedish NGO, which supports woman in conflict areas and received the Right Livelihood Award in 2012. After speeches from the Swedish Foreign Minister, the Secretary General of Kvinna till Kvinna and woman rights activists from Albania, Armenia and the Philippines, the current Right Livelihood Award Laureates Asma Jahangir from Pakistan talked about the hate and violence, which she experienced for her work a woman’s rights activist. Jahangir told the audience with much wisdom and humor how there are many moments when you almost want to stop fighting (for example when your own daughters are threatened) but that you should never give in.

jahangir_with_yfp

YFP with Asma Jahangir

The afternoon of the same day we spent at the lecture Shrinking Space for Human Rights Defenders in Asia, where Basil Fernando, a human rights activist from Sri Lanka, who also received the Award this year, talked with Asma Jahangir about the difficulties of their work. Jahangir emphasized that since 9/11 the number of human rights violations in the name of the war on terror rose noticeable. In the subsequent movie Unjust by Josefina Bergsten the work of human rights activists from Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka was portrayed. The fight of widows from assassinated human right activists for compensating justice showed the desperate situation in corrupt and repressive countries. But moreover the movie gave hope that local movements and international solidarity can create a public awareness which brings the responsible persons to justice.

Congratulating Basil Fernando for his prize! //  Gratulation an Basil Fernando für seinen Preis!

Congratulating Basil Fernando for his prize! // Gratulation an Basil Fernando für seinen Preis!

Saturday afternoon we went to the public lecture of the laureate Bill McKibben from the climate protection network 350.org in the Kulturhuset. 350.org is a global movement which coordinates protests in almost every country of the world and succeeds in the divestment of public institutions in fossil fuels. According to the founder Bill McKibben it does not depend on the government which is in power but on a strong civil movement to make a change.

In the evening the documentary Citizenfour was shown in the Södra Teatern. Laura Poitras accomplished to make a tremendous thrilling movie about the exposure of the global surveillance by the NSA although the scandal was still present to all. During the subsequent panel discussion Daniel Ellsberg, who receive the Right Livelihood Award in 2007, talked about the analogies between his situation and Snowdens. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon-Papers in 1971, which unveiled the real intention of the US-government in the Vietnam War. Furthermore Sara Harrison, the WikiLeaks member who accompanied Snowden from Hongkong to Moscow, Wolfgang Kaleck as one of Snowden lawyers and Ewan MacAskill, who met Snowden in Hongkong as a journalist of the Guardian, talked about their work with Snowden. This evening made it once more clear to us how important it is to save your own data with sensible passwords and cryptographic technique. But again Ellsbergs question to what extend a country can be democratic if the government knows all about their judges, journalists and citizen made us think.

Standing ovations for Edward Snowden during the Ceremony! // Applaus für Edward Snowden während der Zeremonie!

Standing ovations for Edward Snowden during the Ceremony! // Applaus für Edward Snowden während der Zeremonie!

On Sunday we met two young people, who came with their family to Stockholm to see the Award ceremony, and told them about the Youth Future Project.

Meeting with other young engaged people from Germany! // Treffen mit anderen engagierten Jugendlichen aus Deutschland.

Meeting with other young engaged people from Germany! // Treffen mit anderen engagierten Jugendlichen aus Deutschland.

On Monday morning we took part in a discussion between Alan Rusbridger, the chief-editor of the Guardian and Peter Wolodarski, the chief-editor of a big Swedish Newspaper. Rusbridger reported how vigorous the Guardian was criticized for their collaboration with Snowden. From a certain point the New York Times had to continue with the disclosures because the US-American press law is more liberal and the US-government is unable to prevent publication, differently to Great Britain. What is more he stressed right in the beginning that it is wrong to mistake the interests of a government with national security.

Alain Rusbridger sharing our message! // Alain Rusbridger teilt unsere Botschaft!

Alain Rusbridger sharing our message! // Alain Rusbridger teilt unsere Botschaft!

And then the long awaited evening came! The Award Ceremony in the Swedish Parliament was the highlight of our journey to Stockholm. The most exciting was the acceptance speech of Edward Snowden live via Skype; it was fascinating to hear him speak to you personally and he was rewarded for that with standing ovations which lasted several minutes. With regards to the content it was Bill McKibben who held the best speech since it was both, critical and activity-orientated. We got the opportunity to introduce us to all the laureates and tell them about the Youth Future Project. At the buffet afterwards and at the after show party we got an impression which people stand in context with the Right Livelihood Award.

To bring our trip to Stockholm to a close we went to the RLA office on Tuesday and met with Steffi Geilhof, our contact person, to talk about the cooperation between YFP and RLA and about possible challenges for the future.

Altogether we got on our train home with the heads full of new thoughts but also exhausted. We would like to thank the RLA for the opportunity to go to all these events and especially to the Award Ceremony.

Alessa, Frieder, Lena and Mascha

Reaping the fruits of our work

Dear Friend of the Youth Future Project,

we are finally reaping the fruits of the biggest project we ever undertook. For about two years we have been working on connecting people from all over Europe to take action for a more sustainable society. We are now publishing our first book that connects many of the topic we worked on and gives an insight into the youth movement for sustainability.

To us, reading „Changing (Dis)Course“ is reaping the fruits of our work because it shows us how the ideas we also support are spreading and how many projects developed out of our „Youth Future Conference“ last year.

Read two of the articles in the book here.

“The youth, the future and shared responsibility” by Carina van Weelden:

“Sustainablity and Emergence” by Josephine Tröger, Christoph Pfisterer and Tobias Stetter:

Lets spread the ideas of a different society even further and give the book to your friends and family. You are free to decide how much you would like to contribute to help us cover printing costs.

You can order your personal copy here.

Action Week – Don´t Bank on the Bomb

During the action week „Don´t Bank on the Bomb“ between September 26th (Nuclear Abolition Day) and October 3rd campaigners organized demonstrations around Germany against investments in nuclear weapon producers. In Germany more than eight financial institutions invest more than 7 billion Euros in companies producing nuclear weapon parts or their launching systems. Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank are the two biggest investors and were the main focus of the campaign.

IMG_7559_BremenMembers of the YFP organized a Demonstration in front of Commerzbank in Bremen. Together with the activists Alessa and Darius asked the demonstrators to construct a “contaminated area” in front of the Commerzbank branch to inform clients about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. During the demonstrations they were able to start a constructive dialogue with the branch manager. It was remarkable how well informed he was about the campaign and the demonstrations in Berlin, Bonn, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Munich und Stuttgart._MG_7569_Bremen

On the same day, Commerzbank published a reply to the campaign on their Facebook page. This can be seen as a sign that customers and consumers can have an impact even on large-scale corporations.

The focus on Commerzbank wasn’t wholly without reason: After the financial crisis the Bank tried to polish their image with slogans like “does Germany need another bank which simply continues With business-as-usual?” The activists understood these words as a promise to change. In 2008 Commerzbank commitment itself to ethical standards in order to regulate which deals are morally justifiable and which are not. Those guidelines were also meant to stop investments in “controversial weapons”which include nuclear weapons. Up until today Commerzbank did not follow its own rules and continues to invest in companies producing nuclear weapon parts or their launching systems.

_MG_7571_BremenThe demonstrators called upon Commerzbank to immediately ban all investments in nuclear weapons including those in so called “mixed companies” which produce not only nuclear weapons but are involved in other productions as well. A complete halt of Commerzbank´s investments would be a major step towards a global condemnation of nuclear weapons: An appropriate investment in our shared future.

Interested if your bank invests in nuclear weapons? Check it out.

Text: Darius Reinhardt

ICAN Action Academy

From the 11.-14th of September 2014 90 young people from all around Europe gathered in Berlin to take part in the ICAN Action Academy. It was one topic that united them: Their rebellion against nuclear weapon states not making progress on the way to a world without nuclear weapons.

But the story of ICAN and the Action Academy isn´t one of despair. It is a story of hope. But wait a second how can they be hopeful? Didn´t all multilateral attempts to get to global zero come to a deadlock?

For the past 18 years, the Conference on Disarmament has been unable to start negotiations and can be seen as the personification of deadlock. Searching for signs of hope in the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), one might wonder how people can still be enthusiastic about nuclear abolition. Even though the treaty that was limited to 1995 has been extended indefinitely, concrete steps have barely been implemented. Some states even see the NPT as a legitimation to possess nuclear weapons.[1] In short: Neither the Conference on Disarmament, nor the NPT can be seen as a spark of hope towards nuclear abolition.

To understand the firm believe in the progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons we need to focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

In 2013, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr. Espen Barth Eide hosted a Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo. The broad participation of 127 states underlined the unacceptable catastrophic humanitarian consequences of these weapons which were reflected in the statement of the International Committee of the Red Cross that no state or international body can be prepared to meet the humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear detonation. Today, this conference can be seen as the begin of a process in which the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has played an important role. Based on the successful experiences such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) ICAN serves as a constructive partner of states. Through this approach ICAN became a reliable partner and was able to focus the efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons by closely working together with governments and diplomats. The ICAN Civil Society Fora that have accompanied the state conference in Oslo and the follow-up conference in Nayarit, Mexico have played a crucial role to foster a coherent effort within civil society and to ensure that the campaigners are equipped with detailed information and a coherent line of argumentation.

The ICAN Action Academy of which the YFP is a proud partner can be seen as a preparation for the coming conference in Vienna to be held the 8th and 9th December this year. The goal was to offer a toolkit for the 90 campaigners from around Europe which enables them to build up national pressure on their governments to support the process in Vienna. During the four days the range of the program included everything from fundraising over public speaking to workshops on lobbying and public actions. The workshops and speeches were held by a number of experts like Thomas Nash (Article 36), Susi Snyder (Pax Christi), Ray Acheson (Reaching Critical Will), Jan van Aken (Member of the Bundestag), Rebecca Sharkey (ICAN UK), Xanthe Hall (Atomwaffenfreijetzt), Magnus Løvold (ICAN), Gerhard Wallmeyer (Greenpeace) and many more.

Ican Action Academy

Besides the workshop content the participants had the chance to get to know each other and to learn from successes and failures in their different national campaigns. The synergy will be of tremendous importance as the European NATO member states play a crucial role in building a coalition for a ban treaty.

The Academy was a true success and helped the European civil society to link their efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons. On December the 6th and 7th campaigners from around the globe will gather at the ICAN Civil Society Forum in Vienna to pressure governments and to show that they have the courage to ban nuclear weapons. You want to take part? Register now!

Text: Darius Reinhardt

[1]Tony Blair stated on February 21th: „The Non-Proliferation Treaty makes it absolutely clear that Britain has the right to possess nuclear weapons”, Hansard (Commons), 21. February 2007, column 260, Available: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070221/debtext/70221-0003.htm#07022149001009

Hail Hieronymus, Patron of Translators!


September 30th is the International Day of Translation
and thanks to the continuous support of PerMondo Translation for non-profits we are able to maintain a bilingual website and publish most of our information in German as well as English. Translation is more than just the exchange of words from one language into another. It is a means of communicating and makes information more accessible. So today we raise our glasses to Hieronymus (aka St. Jerome), the ancient patron of translators and of course to the heros of PerMondo without whom our communication efforts would be so much more limited.

*Disclaimer: to give our busy translators a break, the original texts for these posts have been written in English and German respectively.