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You are here: Home / Resources / publications / annual report / archive / 2003 / conflict

conflict

conflict and solidarity

2003 was a year of conflict and solidarity. The US-led war that broke out in Iraq in March was strongly condemned by Friends of the Earth International and our groups around the world. We joined demonstrations worldwide, held candlelight vigils, challenged our governments, and initiated a popular cyberaction alert calling for the United Nations to stop the war. We are unified in rejecting the legitimacy of this war, and we deplore the environmental and social atrocities being committed in Iraq by the occupiers.

Friends of the Earth International, as a network that has grown from a handful of groups 30 years ago to the current 68 from all over the world, also invested substantial energy and resources in dealing with our own internal turmoil in 2003. Our Extraordinary General Meeting, held in September in Cartagena, Colombia, was a successful experiment in managing diversity and conflict resolution. We made use of innovative, participatory techniques such as "open space" to ensure broadbased democracy, transparency, and accountability in our discussions and decision-making (see "Network Development" ).

Our Extraordinary General Meeting was preceded by an international conference on human and environmental rights, in which we heard moving and inspirational testimony from indigenous peoples and human rights activists faced with rights violations. Speakers, ranging from indigenous leaders Berito Cobaría from the U’wa people and Duduzile Mphenyeke from the anti-water privatization movement in South Africa to Juan Almendares from Friends of the Earth Honduras and Nnimmo Bassey from Friends of the Earth Nigeria, motivated us to focus more on solidarity actions as a network and to seek out legal mechanisms to address these violations.

In 2003, a year marked by bloodshed and conflict throughout the world, we have chosen to focus our annual report on the small and large victories that we have achieved together with other social and environmental movements. The encouraging outcome of the World Bank’s independent review of oil, mining and gas projects (which Friends of the Earth International has long called for), the triumph of the environmental and social agenda of southern countries over the USled trade agenda in Cancun and in Miami, and countless other national and local victories show both the breadth of diversity in our network and the strength we wield when we work together.

A microcosm of the planet earth, our small, diverse network is familiar with both conflict and solidarity. We strongly believe in the need for democracy, transparency, accountability, participation and equity in decision-making at all levels, not only within our organization but also at the governmental and institutional levels. Only by promoting these inclusive models will we achieve sustainability, world peace, environmental and social justice, and the well-being of people everywhere.

Ricardo Navarro, FoEI Chair, El Salvador

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