Tag Archives: security

News in Review: Kenya – October 22, 2015

Kenyan security forces have been busy this week with the Inspector General of Police calling for greater collaboration between the public and police, the rescue of an abducted schoolteacher by Kenyan soldiers, mass transfers of police officers due to alleged corruption and the removal of sixty-three senior police officers. Additionally, Muslim clerics, scholars and journalists continue to voice concerns over alleged misconduct by police towards Muslim citizens, especially Muslim youth. Finally, thousands of refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camp have returned home in the last year.

Kenya’s Security – Rescue, Vetting, and Corruption

Police in the city of Eldoret faced criticism early last week for arbitrarily dumping 100 Eldoret youth in Busia town roughly 80 miles away. Meanwhile, the National Police Service Commission announced that sixty-three senior police officers were found unsuitable to serve and were therefore removed from office with a further twenty-nine waiting to undergo another round of vetting. In light of the particularly unstable relationship between police and the public, the Inspector General of the Police is seeking greater collaboration with the public to strengthen their partnership to fight crime. A few days after this announcement, 140 police officers were transferred due to allegations of corruption. In a show of strength, Kenya’s Military Forces successfully rescued a teacher who had been kidnapped by Al Shabaab.

Ochieng, Gilbert and Brian Ojamaa. “Police dump 100 Eldoret youth in Busia town.” The Star. October 13, 2015.

Kaikai, Anthony. “63 police bosses axed from force after vetting.” KBC. October 15, 2015.

KBC Reporter. “Boinett calls for police, public partnership to fight crime.” KBC. October 16, 2015.

Jacob, Elkana. “140 cops transferred from Mombasa Port over corruption, tribalism.” The Star. October 19, 2015.

Soldiers rescue abducted teacher from suspected ‘al Shabaab’.” Coastweek. October 20, 2015.

Kenyan Police, Terrorism, and Muslim Youth

Muslim clerics, scholars and journalists have expressed concern over Kenya’s security approach to Muslim citizens, especially Muslim youth. After numerous disappearances and allegations of torture, many Muslim leaders are calling for more non-violent approaches.

Mghenyi, Charles. “Use words not force in terror war.” The Star. October 13, 2015

Muslim suspects face rough justice in Kenya’s war on terror.” Daily Sabah. October 11, 2015

Kenyan Muslims Decry Injustice.” On Islam. October 11, 2015.

Somali Refugees

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that as many as 5,000 Somali refugees have left Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camp and returned home. As many as 4,500 more are expected to return home from the camp in the coming months.

Mohamed, Adow. “5,000 refugees have gone back to Somalia.” The Star. October 19, 2015.

The views expressed by Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Interns are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the IPJ or of the University of San Diego.

Distinguished Lecture Series: Monica McWilliams on “From Peace Talks to Gender Justice”

Women make up less than 3 percent of signatories to peace agreements, so to be in the presence of both Monica McWilliams and Luz Mendez — two women who signed peace agreements in their respective countries — is remarkable. Never mind the addition of over 175 delegates representing 45 countries, all of whom  are experts, scholars and practitioners in women, peace and security. This was the scenario at the Peace & Justice Theatre at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) last night.

The Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series was pleased to welcome Monica McWilliams to open the 2010 Women PeaceMakers Conference with a talk entitled, From Peace Talks to Gender Justice.”


In 1996, in the midst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Monica McWilliams brought an unlikely combination of women together across religious, class, sector and regional divides to form the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition party. Together these women were elected to a seat at the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations, which led to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in 1998.

After a jovial introduction by 2010 Joan B. Kroc Peace Scholar Paul Arthur, in which he noted the “frontiered misogyny” that McWilliams and the Women’s Coalition faced and honored their work humanizing the peace process, McWilliams took the stage. She began her talk by inviting the audience to walk with her through the last 40 years — through pictures.

As we all know, pictures say 1,000 words and McWilliams pictures were no exception. She shared images from as early as 1970 — a newspaper clipping showing the “army of women [who] broke barricade to bring aid” — and included snapshots of her alongside dignitaries such as Hillary Clinton and Nelson Mandela, an early Women’s Coalition brochure encouraging voters to “wave goodbye to dinosaurs,” and a more recent political cartoon depicting McWilliams, as human rights commissioner, admonishing her fellow commissioners that “This isn’t pick ‘n mix.”

As McWilliams traced her journey from “accidental activist” to “human rights activist” (with peace activist, feminist activist and party political activist along the way), one of her key messages was that peace is a process. In articulating this, she likened peace to domestic violence. Many people assume that a woman is safe as soon as she leaves an abusive relationship, when in fact that time is the most dangerous for a domestic violence survivor. Leaving the violence is an event but ensuring a woman’s safety is a process. Likewise, signing a peace agreement is an event but building peace is a process.

According to McWilliams, 12 years after signing the peace agreement Northern Ireland is in the process of building peace — the country is currently in the reconstruction phase, not yet having reached transformation.

From the early days of Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement through to today, women have been both central and front and center to the process. However, they have been largely written out of history. McWilliams used a photograph from a 1970s civil rights march — depicting eight women, arms linked, at the frontlines of the march — to illustrate this. These women are largely nameless faces in the struggle, whereas the men standing immediately behind them are widely recognized and often referred to as heroes. McWilliams stressed the importance of documenting women’s stories so their efforts are recognized and so that future generations understand the important role women have played and continue to play.

McWilliams argues that women are not new to the process, nor were they new when they formed the Women’s Coalition in 1996. She explained, “We’ve always been there – just politically homeless.”

There is no doubt that McWilliams, together with the Women’s Coalition, was instrumental in the lead up to peace talks and the eventual existence of an agreement. She explained to the audience that had women not been at the table, critical issues such as victim issues, trauma healing, integrated education, housing and health care would have been entirely absent from the agreement. These are the very same issues that women, with the support of some men, are struggling to address as they build peace.

During a meeting earlier in the day, McWilliams noted that she didn’t want other women to have to do go through what she and other women in the Women’s Coalition did — staying up all night for days on end struggling to find insights from other women who had participated in peace talks. Her lecture offered an excellent compilation of lessons learned, insights and best practices from every stage of conflict and post-conflict that will be ideally benefit women around the world and in the future.

At the end of McWilliams talk she was joined on stage by one of the few women she had been able to turn to for informed knowledge about participating in peace talks — Luz Mendez. Mendez, a 2004 IPJ Woman PeaceMaker, took part in the Guatemalan peace negotiations in 1996 and was the sole woman signatory to Guatemala’s agreement.

Despite coming from very different cultures and conflicts, McWilliams and Mendez shared remarkably similar challenges — among others, having to repeatedly confront the question, “What does peace have to do with gender?” They also both recognized the global women’s movement as having an instrumental impact. They went on to share comparable recommendations for how to ensure peace agreements include women’s aspirations.

An evening with McWilliams and Mendez set the tone for two days of exciting, inspiring discussions with remarkable women. McWilliams ended her talk by saying: “When women awake, mountains will move.”

Be sure to watch live webcasts of the public sessions here: http://sandiego.na4.acrobat.com/peace/

2010 Women PeaceMakers Conference “Precarious Progress: UN Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security”

The 2010 Women PeaceMakers Conference begins tomorrow!

“Precarious Progress: U.N. Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security” will examine where and how United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889 have had and can have impact. It is timed to inform and consolidate recommendations for the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and mark the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. For more information, visit the conference website.

If you can’t join us in person between Wednesday, September 29 and Friday, October 1 (list of public sessions here) be sure to WATCH LIVE! Six sessions will be available via webcast.

Follow the conference proceedings here and on Twitter (@KrocIPJ). We’ll be sharing updates from all the sessions!