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Archive for February, 2013

Draft Statement to CSW 57  on Military Violence Against Women

 

(This is an abstract for a longer paper being prepared  for publication. The assertions that comprise the arguments of this statement  derive from literature on gender and peace.)

 

Violence Against Women Is Integral to War  and Armed Conflict:  The Urgent  Necessity of Universal Implementation of UNSCR 1325

 

Violence against women (VAW) under the present system of  militarized state security is not an aberration that can be stemmed by specific  denunciations and prohibitions. VAW is and always has been integral to war and  all armed conflict. It pervades all forms of militarism.  It is likely to endure so long as the  institution of war is a legally sanctioned instrument of state, so long as arms  are the means to political, economic or ideological ends. To reduce VAW; to  eliminate its acceptance as a “regrettable consequence” of armed conflict; to  exorcize it as a constant of the “real world” requires the abolition of war, the  renunciation of armed conflict and the full and equal political empowerment of  women as called for by the UN Charter.

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was conceived as a  response to the exclusion of women from security policy making, in the belief  that exclusion to be a significant factor in the perpetuation of VAW. The  originators assumed that VAW in all its multiple forms, in ordinary daily life  as well as in times of crisis and conflict remains a constant because of women’s  limited political power. Constant, quotidian VAW is unlikely to be significantly  reduced until women are fully equal in all public policy making, including and  especially peace and security policy. The universal implementation of UN  Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security is the most  essential means to reduce and eliminate the VAW that occurs in armed conflict,  in preparation for combat and its aftermath.  Stable peace requires gender equality.  Fully functioning gender equality requires the dissolution of the present system  of militarized state security. The two goals are inextricably linked one to the  other.

 

To understand the integral relationship between war and  VAW, we need to understand some of the functions that various forms of military  violence against women serve in the conduct of war. Focusing on that  relationship reveals that the objectification of women, denial of their humanity  and fundamental personhood encourages VAW in armed conflict, just as  dehumanization of the enemy persuades armed forces to kill and wound enemy  combatants. It also reveals that the outlawing of all weapons of mass  destruction, ending the arms trade, the reduction of weaponry, an end to the  arms trade and other systematic steps toward General and Complete Disarmament  (GCD) are essential to the elimination of military VAW. This statement seeks to  encourage support for disarmament, international law and the universal  implementation of UNSCR 1325 as instruments for the elimination of  MVAW.

 

War is a legally sanctioned tool of state. The UN  Charter calls upon members to refrain from the threat and use of force  (Art.2.4), but also recognizes the right of defense (Art.51) None-the-less most  instances of VAW are war crimes. The Rome Statute of the ICC includes rape as  war crime. However, the fundamental patriarchalism of the international state  system perpetuates impunity for most perpetrators. So the full extent of the  crimes, their relationship to the actual waging of war and the possibilities for  the enforcement of the criminal accountability of those who have committed them  need to be brought into the discussions on the prevention and elimination of  VAW. A greater understanding of particular manifestations of these crimes may  lead to some fundamental changes in the international security system conducive  to ending war itself. To promote such understanding here are listed some forms  and functions of military VAW.

 

Identifying Forms of Military Violence and  Their Functions in Warfare 

 

Listed below are several forms of military violence  against women (MVAW) committed by military personnel, rebels or insurgents,  peace keepers and military contractors, suggesting the function each serves to  carry out the purposes of the war.  The core concept of violence from which these types and functions of  military violence are derived is the assertion that violence is intentional  harm, committed to achieve some purpose of the perpetrator. Military violence  comprises those harms committed by military personnel that are not a necessity  of combat, but none-the-less an integral part of it. All sexual and gender based  violence is outside actual military necessity. It is this reality that is  recognized in the Beijing Platform for Action and the Security Council  resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889 that seek to curb MVAW.

 

Included among the types of MVAW identified below are:  military prostitution, trafficking and sexual slavery; random rape in armed  conflict and in and around military bases; strategic rape; the use of military  arms to inflict violence against women in post-conflict as well as conflict  situations; impregnation as ethnic cleansing; sexual torture; sexual violence  within the organized military and domestic violence in military families;  domestic violence and spouse murders by combat veterans. No doubt there are  forms of MVAW not taken into account here.

 

Military  prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women have been features of warfare throughout history. At  present brothels can be found around military bases and at the sites of  peace-keeping operations.  Prostitution – usually work of desperation for women – is openly  tolerated, even organized by the military, as essential to the “morale” of the  armed forces. Sexual services are deemed  essential provisions for waging war to strengthen the “fighting will” of thetroops. Military sex workers are  frequently victims of rape, various forms of physical abuse and  murder.

 

Trafficking  and sexual slavery is a form of VAW  that stems from the idea that sexual services are necessary to fighting  troops.  The case of the “comfort  women,” enslaved by the Japanese military during WWII is the best known, perhaps  the most egregious instance of this type of military VAW. More recently,  trafficked women have been literally enslaved in conflict and post-conflict  peace-keeping operations. Women’s bodies are used as military supplies. Viewing  and treating women as commodities is absolute objectification. Objectification  of other human beings is standard practice in making war acceptable to  combatants and civil populations of nations at war.

 

Random rape in  armed conflict and around military bases, an expected and accepted consequence of armed  conflict, illustrates that militarism in any form increases the possibilities of  sexual violence against women in militarized areas in “peace time” as well as  war time.  This form of military VAW  has been well documented by Okinawa Women Act against Military Violence. OWAAMV  has recorded the reported rapes of local women by American military personnel  from the invasion in 1945 to the present. The consequence of the misogyny that  infects military training, when it occurs in war it functions as an act of intimidation and  humiliation of the enemy.

 

Strategic and  mass rapes – like all sexual assaults – intends to inflict violence as a mean of humiliating, not only the actual  victims, but, most especially their societies, ethnic groups, and/or nations. It  is also intended to lessen the adversary’s will to fight.  As a planned assault on the enemy, large  scale rape is a form of military violence against women, usually inflicted en  masse in attacks that demonstrate the objectification of women as property of  the enemy, military targets rather than human beings. It serves to shatter the social cohesion of  the adversary in that women are the base of societal relationships and domestic  order.

 

Military arms  as instruments of VAW are used in the  rape, mutilation, and murder of non-combatant women. Weapons are often the  emblems of manhood, conceived within patriarchy, as tools for enforcing male  power and dominance. The numbers and destructive power of weapons are a source  of national pride in the militarized state security system, argued to provide  defensive deterrence. The militarized masculinity of patriarchal cultures makes  access to weapons an enticement to many  young men to enlist in the military.

 

Impregnation  as ethnic cleansing has been designated  by some human rights advocates as a form of genocide. Significant instances of  this type of MVAW have occurred before the eyes of the world.  The military objective of these rapes is  to undermine the adversary in several ways, the main one being by reducing the future numbers of their  people and replacing them with the offspring of the perpetrators, robbing them of a future and a reason to  continue to resist.

 

Sexual  torture, psychological as well as physical, is meant to terrorize the civilian population of an  enemy nation, ethnic group or an opposing political group, intimidating them so  as to gain compliance to occupation or to discourage civilian support of the  military and strategic actions of the opposing group. It is often inflicted on  the wives and female family members of opposing political forces, as has  happened in military dictatorships. It  manifests the general misogyny of patriarchy intensified during war so as to  reinforce objectification of women and “otherness” of the  enemy.

 

Sexual  violence in military ranks and domestic violence in military  families has recently become more  widely publicized through the courage of victims, women who have risked their  military careers and further harassment by speaking out. Nothing makes more  obvious the integral relationship of VAW to war, preparation for it and post  conflict than its prevalence within the ranks of the military. While not  officially condoned or encouraged, it has been allowed to continue, serving to maintain the secondary and  subservient position of women, and the intensification of aggressive  masculinity, idealized as military virtue.

 

Domestic  violence and spouse murder by combat veterans occurs on the return of veterans of combat. This form  of MVAW is especially dangerous because of the presence of weapons in the home.  Believed to be a consequence of both combat training and PTSD, DV and spouse  abuse in military families derives from  the systemic and integral role of VAW in the psychology of some warriors and  symbolizes extreme and aggressive masculinity.

 

Conclusions  and Recommendations

The present system of militarized state security is an  ever present threat to the human security of women. It will continue so long as  states claim the right to engage in armed conflict as a means to the ends of the  state, and so long as women are without adequate political power to assure their  human rights, including their rights to security. The ultimate means to overcome  that threat is the abolition of war and the establishment of gender  equality.  Some of the tasks we now  may undertake toward this end are: the implementation of the Security Council  resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889 intended to reduce and mitigate MVAW;  actualizing all of the possibilities of UNSCR 1325 with emphasis on the  political participation of women in all matters of peace and security; pursuing  measures that hold promise of achieving and end to war itself, such as the  following recommendation for the outcome document of CSW  57.

 

Among these tasks recommended are measures to end  violence against women and measures that are steps toward the end of  war.

 

1. Immediate compliance by all member states with the  provisions of UNSCR 1325 requiring women’s political participation in the  prevention of armed conflict.

 

2. Development and implementation of National Action  Plans to actualize the provisions and purposes of UNSCR 1325 in all relevant  circumstances and at all levels of governance – local through  global.

 

3. Special emphasis should be placed on immediate  implementation of the anti VAW provisions of UNSCR resolutions 1820, 1888 and  1889.

 

4. End impunity for war crimes against women by bringing  to justice all perpetrators of MVAW, be they national forces, insurgents,  peacekeepers or military contractors.

 

4. Conclude and implement an arms trade treaty to end  the flow of weapons, many of which are used as instruments of  MVAW.

 

5. GCD should be declared the primary goal of all arms  treaties and agreements that should be formulated with a view toward reduction  of MVAW, the universal renunciation of armed force, and with the full  participation of women as called for by UNSCR1325.

 

6. Inaugurate a global campaign to educate about VAW,  including special focus on MVAW, assuring that all members of all military,  peacekeeping forces and military contractors are educated about MVAW and the  legal consequences risked by perpetrators.

 

List In Process – To endorse, please E-mail bar19@columbia.edu

 

Drafted by  Betty Reardon with Endorsement from:

International Institute on Peace  Education,

World Council for Curriculum and  Instruction,

People’s Movement for Human Rights  Learning

Feminist Scholar/Activist Network on  Demilitarization

Global Network of Women  Peacemakers

Voice of Women Canada

International Peace Bureau

Global Kids

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Yesterday a protest was held in Lebanon, to demand the outlaw of domestic violence.

The protest begun by a march from Sanayeh towards the head of Parliament head quarters.

when I saw the protest on TV, I observed that a “dance” was organised during the protest.
here are some TV reportage about the march http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvx8t1iwSXI&list=PLDE66A357407C699B&index=23

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/02/24/268117.html
KAFA violence and exploitation

it resembles to the One billion rising campaign. It felt awkward to see belly dancing and some moves during a protest against violence, rape, humiliation.

When I talked with Lina today, she told me about an article she sent to us and that I didn’t get the chance to read. The article shows why reservations are expressed against the PR campaign of dancing against violence.

bref, for those who would like to read it, I am pasting it below. 

Rita Chemaly

Why I Won’t Support One Billion Rising

The premise of One Billion Rising is to ‘rise’ above forms of violence; to dance, to celebrate and in doing so to ‘DEMAND an end to this violence’. It was created by Eve Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues, whose exposure has risen along with the success of the play. It is receiving considerable media attention, has gained political ambassadors such as Stella Creasy MP, and has even had special mention of support from the Office of the UN Secretary General.

However, reservations about this campaign are being expressed quietly amongst grassroots activists. I say quietly not because we’re not speaking loudly, but because mainstream feminists, mainstream press, politicians and large organisations don’t tend to be so interested in those of us lacking considerable PR power.

The primary problem with One Billion Rising is its refusal to name the root cause of women’s inequality; its outright refusal to point the finger at a patriarchal system which cultivates masculinity and which uses the control and subjugation of women’s bodies as an outlet for that machoism. In fact, a colleague saw Stella Creasy speak at an event last week where she spoke about One Billion rising and its inclusion of men in the campaign, stating ‘violence is not a gender issue; this affects our societies as a whole’. Really Stella? Really?

In asking women to dance in order to overcome violence and rape, focus is displaced and root causes are overlooked, it completely diverts the world’s attention away from the real issue of gender based violence and rape with a pleasing-to-the-eye coordinated dance. It’s like saying to survivors ‘Ok, you’ve been raped, but you can overcome it if you come together and dance for 20 minutes on Valentine’s Day… Eve Ensler says so…’. It’s patronising and it denies not only the causes of violence, but also the devastating and long lasting effects. Thus, a campaign with unprecedented media fire-power has failed to achieve anything other than to create a façade which will have no effect whatsoever upon the global pandemic which is gender based violence.

The fact is that Eve Ensler’s other charitable organisation, V-Day, has raised money for some effective work on the ground; running educational projects, re-opening refuges and safe houses. These are the activities which have actual effect. However, instead of continuing to focus on and raise money for such essential services, it seemed important to Ensler (or some PR guru at her end) that a high profile, notoriety-gaining campaign be launched. I don’t see why it can’t be enough to do essential grassroots work. Why has such a huge PR campaign, with ‘a message from Eve’ videos plastered everywhere, been necessary?

The answer from most will be that it is an awareness raising exercise. However, I can tell you from working with grassroots organisations, that seeing footage on the news of women dancing in unison will do absolutely nothing to educate or deter a perpetrator or potential perpetrator. Educational programmes on the ground are much more effective form of deterrence. News footage does not equal awareness, educational programmes do.

The other counter argument to my reservations would be that this campaign provides an effective form of cathartic release for survivors through the medium of coordinated dance. However, from women I’ve spoken to with knowledge of counselling survivors, the displacement of focus onto a dance on one day would not be considered to be an effective way to ‘rise’. Surely the money spent on this campaign would have been better used to support counselling organisations as an effective form of therapy?

The aforementioned reservations I have about this campaign are not massively uncommon. Many campaigns have come before which, by way of seeking to be inclusive of men, refuse to name the causes of gender based violence. However, where One Billion Rising goes one step further is in itsworld domination international influence. One of the main hubs for the campaign is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a report found that fourty-eight women are raped every hour; a statistic which is likely to have risen (not the same kind of ‘rise’ unfortunately) in recent months during fighting with M23 rebel insurgents – a conflict in which rape has been systematically used as a weapon of war.

I recently listened to a Congolese woman talk in a speak-easy setting of radical grassroots feminists. She was radiantly and beautifully powerful in her unfiltered anger towards the One Billion Rising movement, as she used the words “insulting” and “neo-colonial”. She used the analogy of past crimes against humanity, asking us if we could imagine people turning up at the scenes of atrocities and taking pictures or filming for the purposes of “telling their story to the rest of the world”. Take it one step further and try to imagine a white, middle class, educated, American women turning up on the scene to tell survivors to ‘rise’ above the violence they have seen and experienced by…wait for it…dancing. “Imagine someone doing that to holocaust survivors”, she said.

Eve Ensler has reportedly spent much time in the DRC in the build-up to Valentines Day. I really wonder under what premise she is there? What goes through her mind? Does she think that her shared experiences of abuse make her a kindred spirit to Congolese women? That her presence will bring about comfort? Change? Does she really have such an inflated sense of ego that she simply must jet set around, visiting One Billion Rising hubs?

Another woman at the same event, an Iranian woman who had demonstrated in the 70’s and seen female comrades beaten, raped, doused in acid, set alight, imprisoned and murdered, also used the word “insulting”. “Who is someone else to come to my country and claim to ‘help’ me by telling me to ‘rise’ above the experiences I have had?!” She went on to recount the numerous occasions when she’d been patronised by white, middle class, educated feminists who assumed that as an Iranian woman she lacked education and had lived a sheltered and oppressed life (only to be left open-mouthed by her exceptional education, theoretical knowledge and sharp gendered analysis). We laughed at the hilarity of the questions she’d been asked (“So do you go everywhere by camel in Iran?”) but reflected soberly at the state of a feminist movement dominated by white academics.

The consensus from those on the ground, providing services to women survivors, was that women of privilege should not preach feminist ideals, particularly where gender and race intersect – and essentially where ‘developed’/’developing’ world’s intersect. The focus for white, western feminists should be on gender equality at home, where there are enough problems for a lifetime of activism. But, if the white saviour complex were to endure, that the best form of action would be to lobby their own governments to stop their patriarchal, neo-colonial influence in so-called ‘developing countries’. For it is western companies that create resource enclaves in oil and mineral rich countries, the profits from which local communities never benefit. And it is western governments that continue to pervade the economic systems of ‘developing countries’ with their development aid laden with conditionality to replicate western models of governance which is often irreconcilable with historical economic, cultural, social and economic patterns. And it is western backed arms traders which cash in on conflict in many ‘developing’ regions, fuelling both sides for financial gain. Not content with its first wave of colonisation, the west continues to insist upon ‘helping’ other countries. Word on the street is that the people don’t want ‘help’; they want to make their own decisions and bring about change free from outside influence.

I sat at the back, listening intently and trying my best to take in the radical thought reverberating off the cold walls of a poorly heated, poorly lit room in Finsbury Park, not saying anything. It wasn’t my place to interject into this space with my white-ness, educated-ness or my relative middle-class-ness. It was my place to listen, drink in as much knowledge as possible, and admire these amazing women with the knowledge and analysis to recognise a problematic campaigning, and to reject it outright in favour of gritty, thankless, unrecognised, poorly paid and underfunded grassroots work. It was a pleasure to learn from them. And it is with their words in my head that I will not support One Billion Rising.

 Follow Natalie Gyte on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@NatalieGyte @w
 

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Dubai will host Fashion Forward (FFWD), a four-day-long event that will showcase the work of fourteen + more ready-to-wear, couture, menswear and bridal designers from the region. The goal is to create a platform to showcase regional designers, educate, as well as exchange ideas to further develop the business infrastructure of the fashion industry in the Middle East.

Middle East's Fashion Forward.

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King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia issued Friday a historic decree allowing women to be members of the kingdom’s previously all-male Shura Council for the first time. The decree amended two article in the council’s statute introducing a 20 percent quota for women in the country’s 150-member Shura Council, and the king appointed 30 women to join the consultative assembly. (source: http://www.wluml.org/news/saudi-arabia-breakthrough-saudi-arabia-women-allowed-parliament )

In Lebanon, women still fight for their basic rights such as transmitting their nationality,

have women in the political parties, have women on political parties lists, have women in Parliament.

The most conservative country alias Saudi Arabia was able to empower some women ” bin and bint… of someone) to be part of the Parliament, in Lebanon, do we need a decree by the supreme court to have Women participate in Politics?

for the info: the Lebanese government doesnt have Any women; 

at the parliament Lebanon has some women, that are the daughters, or sisters, or funding  ($) members of someone, or blocks….

our Nation needs change, I wont vote for Maronites women…. I would love to vote for good Candidates wherever their confession is, but I would love to know that they will engage with us on pushing forward for our Civil=Lebanese State Laws!!!

 

Isn't it strange that women are named by their daddy and grand-fathers?

Isn’t it strange that women are named by their daddy and grand-fathers?

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Equality now

The Equality now organisation, is asking web users to participate in a massive e-mail campaign, urging the Head of Lebanese state, the head of government, the Ministers, and parliament to revise the Nationality law in Lebanon. Harrassing people by the same letters and requests have not shown any results in my opinion, mainly regarding issues such as citizenship. Anyways,

the Campaign is called: 

Lebanon: Give women equal citizenship rights to men under the nationality law.

the campaign had been launched in 2010. according to the website of Equality now,  and a new update had been published explaining the latest actions done in that matter mainly after the denial by the ministerial committee of the right for women to transmit their nationality.

 

Update: 

11 February 2013 UPDATE: The Ministerial Committee established to study Lebanon’s nationality law has failed to meet the aspirations of Lebanese women married to non-nationals. In a disappointing decision, the Ministerial Committee concluded on 14 December 2012 that Lebanese women should not be granted the right to pass their nationality to their children and spouses, a decision made public on 16 January 2013. Instead, it recommended to the Prime Minister that restrictions on children of Lebanese women married to non-nationals relating to resident permits, education, work in the private sector and access to state medical care should be eased. If implemented, these recommendations are welcome in that they should alleviate the hardships experienced by the children of Lebanese women married to non-Lebanese men. However, campaigners still want removed, once and for all, the discrimination that treats Lebanese women and men differently under the nationality law.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW! Please continue, in support of Lebanese women campaigning for their rights, to urge the President and the Prime Minister to revise the nationality law urgently and comprehensively to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male and female, have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children.

the campaign is asking web-users to write e-mails to the head of state, and the government, and the ministers.

“Please continue to write to the Lebanese authorities listed below welcoming these new labor regulations but asking them to revise the nationality law urgently and comprehensively to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male or female, have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children.Please continue to write to the Lebanese authorities listed below welcoming these new labor regulations but asking them to revise the nationality law urgently and comprehensively to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male or female, have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children.|

the equality now page even propose a letter to be sent to all:

Letters: 

‘Dear President/ Prime Minister:

I am writing to express my support of Lebanese women campaigning for their rights to pass their nationality on to their children and non-national spouses. I am concerned that the Ministerial Committee established to study Lebanon’s nationality law did not meet the aspirations of Lebanese women married to non-nationals by failing to recommend ways to revise the nationality law in order to guarantee full equality between women and men in this regard.

I understand that the Ministerial Committee concluded on 18 December 2012 that Lebanese women should not be granted the right to pass their nationality to their children and spouses, and instead recommended only that restrictions on children of Lebanese women married to non-nationals should be eased in relation to resident permits, education, work in the private sector and access to state-medical care.

While I welcome these recommendations to alleviate the hardships experienced by children of Lebanese women married to non-nationals, they do not treat Lebanese women as equal citizens under the nationality law as required by the Constitution and Lebanon’s international legal obligations. These women and their families will continue to face difficulties in their daily lives. I therefore urge you to revise the nationality law without delay to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male and female, have the equal right to confer their nationality on their children and spouses.

Thank you for your attention.”

For more information about the campaign follow the link http://www.equalitynow.org/take_action/discrimination_in_law_action362

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ToR_PAR-Coordinator_Lebanon (2)

ToR_PROWD_Communication Consultant

Cover of Ilo report working with domestic workers 1980-2012

Cover of Ilo report working with domestic workers 1980-2012

dears,
ILO in lebanon is seeking for a national research consultant and a communication consultant for a project aiming to promote the rights of Women Domestic Workers;
Kindly find attached the 2 TORs related to the counsultancies,

also, for you to know more about ILO work in this field,
I am attaching the link of a report of 92 pages related to the program : PROWD OF ILO: Promoting Rights of Women Domestic Workers Programme (PROWD); The report is intitled “Working with Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon (1980-2012): A mapping of NGO services ” and has been prepared by Marie-Jose Tayah,
the direct link to the report is http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/arpro/beirut/downloads/events/2012/prowd_2012/report.pdf

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La diplomatie du téléphone portable à la conquête des pauvres

Après le coup d’Etat au Mali, le directeur de Microsoft pour l’Afrique, M. Cheick Modibo Diarra, a été nommé premier ministre. Google, dont certains employés se sont illustrés dans le « printemps arabe », recrute des militants des droits humains, et la secrétaire d’Etat américaine Hillary Clinton soutient des projets humanitaires mêlant affaires et technologie : voici venue l’ère de la diplomatie numérique.

 

Dans les heures qui suivent le tremblement de terre du 12 janvier 2010 en Haïti, plusieurs initiatives permettent de cartographier les besoins, les demandes d’aide, les appels de familles de disparus… Enseignant-chercheur spécialisé dans la cartographie de crise, Patrick Meier s’associe au programmeur kényan David Kobia, qui, en 2007, avait fondé le système Ushahidi, destiné à permettre à des citoyens de signaler les affrontements postélectoraux. De façon inattendue, cet outil va offrir une plate-forme à l’information d’urgence en Haïti : Meier et Kobia mettent en effet sur pied un système d’alertes géolocalisées transmises par téléphone mobile. L’opérateur Digicel leur emboîte le pas et fournit aux Haïtiens un numéro d’urgence unique, le 4636. Des centaines de vies seront sauvées.

 

A l’aide du service de messagerie (SMS) des téléphones portables et d’instruments de géolocalisation, Ushahidi permet d’organiser la réponse avec très peu de moyens. De tout le pays affluent des signalements : disparitions, manque de nourriture ou d’eau dans les orphelinats, personnes rescapées, etc. Traduits en français, anglais et créole par deux organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) — Samasource et Crowdflower —, les textos sont localisés, vérifiés et catégorisés avant d’être publiés sur une carte par une équipe de volontaires rassemblés à la Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, basée dans le Massachusetts, où enseigne Meier.

Grâce à une passerelle SMS mise en place par Instedd, une start-up américaine spécialisée dans la gestion informatisée des situations de crise, la Croix-Rouge — mais également les marines américains — est en mesure de recevoir les alertes signalant une situation dangereuse et sa localisation.

Cette rencontre inédite entre informaticiens kényans et armée américaine a joué un rôle déterminant dans la redéfinition, sous l’impulsion de Mme Hillary Clinton, des méthodes du département d’Etat. Les Etats-Unis ont certes une longue tradition d’usage des technologies de communication, liée à la transmission de la Voix de l’Amérique — nom de la radio de diffusion internationale lancée durant la seconde guerre mondiale et destinée à promouvoir les intérêts américains. Mais, ces dernières années, le smart power est devenu un axe stratégique de cette politique. Variante du soft power (« pouvoir doux ») de Joseph Nye — terme désignant le déploiement de moyens d’influence non coercitifs, structurels, culturels ou idéologiques —, ce « pouvoir de l’intelligence » théorisé en 2004 par Mme Suzanne Nossel, présidente de l’organisation Human Rights Watch, propose un catalogue d’outils — diplomatiques, économiques, militaires, politiques, légaux ou culturels — adaptés à chaque situation. Il s’agit aussi de favoriser les sociétés américaines de haute technologie dans le cadre d’une coopération renouvelée entre l’Etat, le marché et les ONG ou les fondations d’intérêt public. Avec cette doctrine, la diplomatie américaine favorise donc un modèle économique nouveau, hybridant les secteurs marchand et non lucratif.

Un outil pour déjouer
la censure d’Internet

Les réseaux de télécommunication numériques et mobiles en sont les instruments privilégiés. « La communauté technique a mis en place la technologie des cartes interactives pour nous aider à identifier les besoins et à cibler les ressources, indique ainsi Mme Clinton dans son discours fondateur du 15 février 2011. Ce lundi [en Haïti], une fillette de 7 ans et deux femmes ont été retirées des décombres d’un supermarché qui s’était effondré par une équipe américaine de recherche et de sauvetage, après avoir envoyé un texto appelant à l’aide. » La secrétaire d’Etat insiste sur la nécessité de faire en sorte que le peuple s’approprie les technologies numériques afin de faire avancer la démocratie et les droits humains. Elle en appelle à un « partenariat entre l’industrie, le monde universitaire et les ONG afin d’organiser un effort permanent qui permettra d’exploiter la puissance des technologies de connexion et de les mettre au service de nos objectifs diplomatiques (1) ».

Financé à hauteur de 2 millions de dollars, Commotion est un projet typique de cette approche. Il s’agit d’un réseau cellulaire autonome qui fonctionne selon les mêmes principes qu’Internet et tient dans une valise. Il doit permettre aux militants de contourner la censure du réseau — on se souvient qu’en Egypte, en janvier 2011, juste avant la chute de M. Hosni Moubarak, Internet avait été coupé. A l’origine de ce projet, un militant du logiciel libre et des libertés numériques, M. Sascha Meinrath, qui envisage de relier par Wi-Fi des ordinateurs portables et des téléphones mobiles afin de constituer une infrastructure sans fil à haut débit (2), où des outils de sécurisation permettraient d’assurer l’anonymat des utilisateurs. Ainsi, paradoxalement, au moment même où WikiLeaks piratait le département d’Etat, la smart diplomacy rejoignait les problématiques « hacktivistes » (3).

L’Afghanistan fut l’un des premiers terrains d’expérimentation de cette techno-diplomatie. En 2009 déjà, le pays comptait plus de quinze millions d’abonnés mobiles, sur une population de trente millions de personnes. 65 % d’entre eux envoient des textos, et plus de la moitié utilisent leur téléphone pour écouter la radio. Mais l’armée américaine a aussi remarqué que les talibans étaient plus actifs dans les zones peu couvertes par le réseau mobile. Y voyant un lien de cause à effet, elle a investi 113 millions de dollars pour développer les communications civiles, dans une véritable stratégie associant propagande et développement économique. En outre, dans le cadre de la lutte contre la corruption, la police afghane paye désormais ses employés par l’intermédiaire du système mobile M-Paisa (lire « Une carte SIM en guise de porte-monnaie »), et non plus en argent liquide (4).

Des acteurs très divers multiplient ainsi les initiatives technopolitiques. On peut mentionner le programme des « Routes de la soie numériques » lancé par l’Internet Bar Organization. 85 % des Afghans vivent de leur terre ; après des années de guerre, il existe d’importants conflits de propriété foncière. Le programme utilise les fonctionnalités du GPS, les photographies et les textos pour envoyer des informations sécurisées dans une base de données. Un cadastre virtuel a ainsi été constitué, et une assistance juridique est proposée pour régler les conflits, en lien avec le droit coutumier.

Il arrive également que le smart power se concrétise dans la surveillance d’élections. C’est le cas en Afrique subsaharienne. L’ambassade des Etats-Unis en Guinée a appuyé la commission électorale du pays pour la mise en place, lors du scrutin du 27 juin 2010, le premier depuis 1958, d’un programme baptisé « I vote, I see, I send » (« je vote, j’observe, j’envoie »). Ce programme permettait de relayer des textos sur un site Web où ils pouvaient être analysés par les observateurs et les électeurs (5). L’ambassade de France a été associée à ce programme à travers la mise en place d’un centre de presse. Surveillance officielle et « sous-veillance » citoyenne (comme celle d’Ushahidi au Kenya) se complètent, utilisant parfois les mêmes plates-formes.

En 2010 et 2011, au Soudan, le contrôle citoyen des élections a également reçu l’appui des membres du département d’Etat, tandis qu’en Ethiopie, en Egypte, en Tanzanie, en Côte d’Ivoire et au Liberia des systèmes inspirés par Ushahidi ont été déployés (6). Les rapports envoyés pointent les fraudes (impossibilité de voter, bulletins manquants pour certains candidats…), mais aussi des irrégularités durant la campagne (harcèlements, illégalité de certaines actions, provocations racistes…) et permettent de signaler les violences postélectorales.

Signalés à la vitesse d’un texto — dans des situations d’observation sur le terrain, on a plus facilement sous la main un téléphone portable qu’un ordinateur —, les actes délictueux sont épinglés sur une carte. Cette approche relève du principe, difficile à traduire en français, d’accountability. Si le sens politique du terme évoque la responsabilisation des gouvernements, dans le vocabulaire de la sociologie l’accountability renvoie à un réseau conceptuel associant factualité, visibilité et responsabilité (7). Dans ce cadre, la transparence ressort d’une philosophie politique qui autorise à rendre visibles des éléments pour étayer un pacte de factualité — au sens où il est indéniable qu’« il s’est passé là quelque chose pour quelqu’un » — engageant la responsabilité de chacun.

Depuis la Silicon Valley, Mme Clinton a lancé un appel aux entrepreneurs ès technologies dans le monde : « Il faut soutenir les personnes qui sont derrière ces outils, les innovateurs et les entrepreneurs eux-mêmes. Nous savons que les chefs d’entreprise sont nombreux à vouloir consacrer une partie de l’expertise de leurs salariés à résoudre les problèmes dans le monde entier ; mais, souvent, ils ne savent pas comment faire. Quel est le point d’entrée ? Quelle idée va avoir le plus d’impact (8 ? » Discours assorti d’un appel à la coopération entre diplomates, entrepreneurs et organisations sans but lucratif pour soutenir l’espace d’innovation mobile que représente l’Afrique.

Application pour femmes enceintes

Un appel aux bonnes volontés ? Pas seulement. Deuxième marché régional après l’Asie, celle-ci connaît la plus forte croissance du monde, avec 649 millions de connexions à la fin de 2011 et 735 millions d’abonnés prévus à la fin de 2012, selon le rapport de l’Association mondiale des opérateurs mobiles (GSMA). Google, implanté en Afrique du Sud et au Kenya, a mis en place, en lien avec la Fondation Grameen (9) et l’opérateur MTN, une structure de développement d’applications — un « AppLab »  où ont été réalisés différents services mobiles : SMS Tips, qui répond aux questions sur la santé ou l’agriculture envoyées par texto, ou encore Google Trader, qui met en relation petites entreprises et acheteurs en temps réel.

Par le biais de concours comme Apps4Democracy, basé sur les données publiques ouvertes et librement utilisables que diffuse le gouvernement sur le site Data.gov, les acteurs du smart power recrutent de nouveaux partenaires. C’est sur ce modèle qu’une compétition baptisée Apps4Africa a été lancée, en juillet 2010 à Nairobi, par Mme Judith McHale, sous-secrétaire à la diplomatie et aux affaires publiques. Elle a suscité une vingtaine de propositions venues du Kenya, du Rwanda, de l’Ouganda et de la Tanzanie. L’application gagnante, Mamabika, est un dispositif qui propose aux femmes enceintes des bidonvilles de Nairobi d’épargner neuf mois durant sur un compte lié à leur téléphone, pour pouvoir accoucher dans une clinique (10). Autres concours et programmes soutenus par le smart power « féministe » et technologique de Mme Clinton : le mWomen BOP App Challenge (ou TechWomen), dont le but est de créer des applications spécifiques pour les femmes des pays pauvres. Son modèle : HarassMap, un système de cartographie qui rapporte des cas de harcèlement sexuel et de violence conjugale en Egypte.

Bon nombre de fondations américaines sont engagées dans cette voie. On peut s’interroger sur leur rôle, quand certains acteurs locaux clament, à l’instar du chanteur militant afro-américain Gil Scott Heron : « The revolution will be not funded (11) » (« La révolution ne sera pas financée »). Créée par le fondateur d’eBay, M. Pierre Omidyar — qui théorise son approche dans la Harvard Business Review (12) —, la Fondation Omidyar Network a ainsi ouvert un fonds doté de 2 millions d’euros pour favoriser, en Afrique subsaharienne, les initiatives axées sur « les technologies qui donnent aux citoyens des outils »contraignant les gouvernements à les prendre en compte. Une ONG néerlandaise, Hivos, administre le fonds basé à Nairobi. En septembre 2010, au sommet de la Clinton Global Initiative (fondée en 2005 par l’ancien président William Clinton), la Fondation Omidyar avait annoncé un versement de 55 millions de dollars au réseau Tech for Transparency, dont près de la moitié pour l’innovation dans le domaine mobile. La fondation soutient aussi FrontlineSMS, une passerelle consacrée à la communication des ONG et souvent associée à la plate-forme Ushahidi.

Pour M. Bill Gates, fondateur de Microsoft et acteur le plus en vue dans le monde de la technophilanthropie, il est peu efficace de vendre des ordinateurs dans les pays pauvres, mais il faut absolument utiliser les téléphones portables, qui permettent de sauver des vies (13). Il intervient donc dans le domaine du m-health (usage du mobile en santé), en organisant des concours pour des logiciels de lutte contre le virus de l’immunodéficience humaine (VIH/sida), le paludisme, la tuberculose, etc. En favorisant, naturellement, Windows Mobile, le système d’exploitation de Microsoft.

Créée en 1994, la Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates (BMGF) dispose d’un capital de 66 milliards de dollars. Pour bénéficier du régime d’exonération fiscale des fondations, au moins 5 % de ses avoirs doivent être consacrés à des donations. Restent 95 %, qui sont investis dans des activités lucratives et parfois bien peu philanthropiques (14). En 2009, la BMGF a fourni plus de 3 milliards de dollars de subventions et dépensé 409 millions de dollars en frais d’exploitation, principalement pour des projets visant à améliorer la vie des pauvres dans les pays en développement. Dans le domaine de la santé publique, à part le gouvernement des Etats-Unis, aucun bailleur de fonds n’est aussi influent (15). Grâce au don de 30 milliards de dollars de M. Warren Buffett, la fondation a plus que doublé son fonds initial, devenant ainsi l’institution caritative la plus importante.

Cette rencontre entre MM. Gates et Buffett a permis à M. Matthew Bishop, chef du bureau du journal The Economist à New York, de forger la notion de « philanthrocapitalisme (16) » pour désigner la convergence entre grandes causes et bonnes affaires. MM. Buffett et Gates imposent en effet un nouveau type de partenariat avec les organisations caritatives et les gouvernements. Il s’agit de montrer que l’entreprise peut être « la plus grande force du bien dans le monde »,au moment où les Etats réduisent leurs budgets sociaux et prennent souvent moins de risques que ne peuvent le supporter ces nouvelles organisations philanthropiques.

Grandes causes et bonnes affaires

Selon MM. Gates et Buffett, « donner » pourrait ainsi devenir le plus grand levier du changement dans le monde. Mais « donner » de façon stratégique — et selon les modèles du monde des affaires. Ces nouveaux philanthropes doivent être compris comme des investisseurs sociaux au sens propre du terme. Ils se distinguent de l’action de charité qui animait les premiers industriels créateurs des fondations américaines, comme Andrew Carnegie ou John D. Rockefeller.

Dans la culture de ces acteurs, les technologies permettent aussi de scruter les retours sur investissement. Ainsi, le téléphone portable est au philanthrocapitalisme ce que le chronomètre est au taylorisme. Grâce à ses diverses fonctionnalités — textos, caméra vidéo et appareil photo, répondeur téléphonique, GPS… —, le portable est un bon outil dereporting, et donc de transparence. Les actions soutenues financièrement par ces fondations peuvent être présentées en détail aux donateurs. Chacun peut voir comment le projet est utilisé, et combien il est utile. L’action humanitaire technicise, la philanthropie se rationalise, le don charitable devient investissement.

Les nouveaux riches de la Silicon Valley, milliardaires de l’informatique qui ont parfois pris leur retraite des affaires, semblent bien décidés à conquérir les économies des pays émergents. Le téléphone portable, ce petit objet si efficace et rendant de réels services aux populations, constitue pour cela leur outil de prédilection.

Laurence Allard

Maîtresse de conférences à l’université Lille-III et chercheuse associée à l’Ircav-Paris-III ; auteure de Mythologie du portable, Le Cavalier bleu, Paris, 2010.
 

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