Olive Branch or Fig Leaf? The Risks and Opportunities of the Global Ceasefire Call in the Time of Corona

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, ICAN Founder and CEO chaired the event. Click to watch the recording 


  • Siri Aas Rustad, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
  • Rajaa Ataali, Co-Founder and Co-Director for Center for Civil Society and Democracy 
  • Muna Luqman, Co-founder of the Women Solidarity Network and Chairperson of Food For Humanity.
  • Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, British Ambassador to the United States
  • Teresa Whitfield, Director of the UNDPPA

Key Quotes from ICAN

“Belligerent parties don’t want peace actors at the table. Fundamentally if these actors cared about the people they would have stopped the violence.”

 Sanam Naraghi Anderlini

Other Key Quotes from the Event

“The UN has put its moral weight behind a global ceasefire – but the moral expression of intent and interest is not the same as a resolution and the day-to-day work needs to continue

– Dame Karen Pierce

“We are yet to see a change in the design of the peace process, which is essentially a design for two warring parties, with guns. The UN-led peace process is contributing to the violence because groups who feel excluded, take up guns so they are heard, and their needs are met.”

 Muna Luqman

“Achieving a peace agreement virtually, using online platforms would set an example – a way to remember Syria, instead of remembering Syria as the most difficult case and the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two.”

Rajaa Ataali

“We have a poorly led, poorly designed peace process that is excluding women. Women have built up their credibility, the group of women who fought for the release of 900 political prisoners for example, why weren’t they included in the process?”

– Muna Luqman

“It’s not the lack of will but the question of whether the UN is strong enough to continue to negotiate even when one party in the process turns around and says they aren’t participating because of a particular stipulation, such as women’s participation.”

– Dame Karen Pierce

Preventing Violent Extremism in time of COVID, Ground Realities & Global Responsibilities

On May 12 Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, ICAN Founder and CEO appeared as a panellist on this UNDP hosted event. 

UNDP invited panelists from a range of international organizations, academia and UN entities to share their perspectives on how Covid-19 is influencing P/CVE programming now and beyond the pandemic.

Other panellists included:

  • Dr Francis Kuria, the Secretary General of the African Council of Religious Leaders
  • Dr Lilla Schumicky-Logan, Head of Portfolio Management Unit, GCERF.
  • Ruby Kholifa, Secretary General of The Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN)
  • Mia Bloom author, Professor of Communication at Georgia State University, and expert on violent extremism, terrorist recruitment and propaganda
  • Jonathan Bright, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute,  Oxford University.
    • Ulrich GarmsUNODC 
    • Dov Lynch, Senior Officer, Office of the Director-General UNESCO
    • Nirina Kiplagat, UNDP Africa PVE Regional Programme
    • Mehdi Knani, UNOCT

    Key Quotes from ICAN

    “The current crisis in violent extremism is in large part due to the fundamental failure of macro-economic policies over the last 40 years. When the state is shrunk & a void is created, radical groups fill the vacuum”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini 

    “We have to shift from thinking only that we want to prevent violent extremism – we need to look from the positive side – peace, equality. We want to be promoting and enabling pluralism and to recognise our shared humanity as well as our diversity”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini 

    Other Key Quotes from the Event

    “The failure or inability of governments to respond adequately to the pandemic is where we see entities looking at the void and taking the space, one of which being extremist groups”

    – Samuel Rizk

    “Provocative, partisan and inflammatory content fairs well on social media in terms of engagement meaning the junk news sites become the big players and the mainstream sites struggle for attention”

    – Jonathan Bright

    “Extremists are using the distraction of the crisis to increase their support by filling the void left by governments and presenting themselves as a viable alternative. It is the poorest, the IDPs, the refugees who are most susceptible”

    Mia Bloom

    “The COVID 19 crisis has amplified the growing transnational terrorist threat from violent right-wing and supremacist groups. They are using their usual scapegoats to blame for the crisis”

    – Medhi Knani

    “COVID 19 is a multiplier of extreme vulnerability: isolation & marginalisation are increasing, hate speech is rising & economic situations are deeply uncertain. We are seeing a perfect storm for the rise of extremism”

    – Dov Lynch

    Live webinar: Connected or muted? New opportunities for women’s participation in peace processes during the Covid-19 pandemic

    On 6 May 2020 Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, ICAN Founder and CEO appeared as a panellist on this Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs event.  Click to watch the live recording

    Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide invited experts on women’s participation and leadership in peacebuilding and conflict prevention to a dialogue on challenges and opportunities for the participation of women in peace processes in the times of Covid-19. The event was moderated by BBC’s Ms. Lyse Doucet and co-conveyed by Ms. Marita Sørheim-Rensvik, Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Other panellists included:

    • Mr. Miroslav Jenča, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas
    • Mr. Geir O. Pedersen, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria
    • Ms. Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)
    • Ms. Sylvia R. Thompson, leading a mediation and dialogue effort in Yemen for the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) 

    Key Quotes from ICAN

    “This isn’t about asking women to participate in a process that’s ongoing and they need to run in and catch up. At the moment, on-the-ground where nobody else is present, it is women peace-builders who have been the first responders, who have been out there, not only doing the COVID work but also mediating to get access to medical supplies”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (0:54)

    “My issue with the UN is that it’s idealistic to think we can bring about peace if we only have the war makers at the table. If they wanted peace, they wouldn’t have been bombing their own people. We need them at the table because they need to stop the fighting, but they are not credible to represent the people.”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (0:55)

    “In every international initiative to bring about peace one condition must be that women peacebuilders from that country, with a proven track record in doing the peace work, on the ground, deserve and should be at the table guiding the peace process.”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (0:57)

    “We cannot separate the humanitarian crisis from the political and security crisis; where governments and the international community are absent or weak, extremist movements are engaging the public. If we leave a vacuum, it will be filled by negative actors”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (1:09) 

    “The community level response is so crucial right now because if the international community can’t travel and get people there right now, who is left to address these issues? The local, social capital must be heard and supported”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (1:10)

    “We are so worried about what’s going on in our own backyards that places like Kashmir, where under the cover of COVID and nobody paying attention there are some horrific things being done by a pretty major state. It’s really important that we don’t lose track or lose focus on those big issues whether it’s the Rohingya in Bangladesh and the Myanmar crisis, or Kashmir and the situations with Muslims in India or with the Uighurs in China.  Those things will bubble up and we are going to have even more problems on our hands if we don’t tackle them – and the warning signs are very much there, right now.”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (1:16)

    “If we rush to make peace or powers deals, we essentially leave minorities and women to face the long-term consequences of violence & discrimination.”

     Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (1:27)

    Other Key Quotes from the Event

    “Unless we include women in the whole cycle of mediation, we miss out on opportunities for more sustainable peace”

     Ine Eriksen Søreide (0:13)

    “What we need now more than ever is to unite our efforts. The scale of human tragedy caused by COVID 19 is testing governments and institutions everywhere, but we must safeguard women’s rights and the progress made in the last two decades”

     Miroslav Jenča (0:17)

    “Syrian women are not afraid of taking the floor and they bring up issues that are not only women’s related issues but everything relating to solving the Syrian conflict”

    – Geir O Pedersen (0:32)

    “COVID19 is a conflict multiplier, peace is fragile and our gains are easily reversible”

    – Mavic Balleza (0:41)

    On Yemen’s peace negotiations: “we are trying to adapt and seize the momentum that has been created by COVID 19. In the long-term we may see a greater acceptance for using technology in peace processes, which can facilitate greater inclusion.”

     Sylvia R. Thompson  (1:03)

    “In Syria we are working on the principle that whenever we are having a meeting there should be no less than 30% of women in that meeting”

     Geir O Pedersen (1:13)

    “For peace to be inclusive and sustainable we must ensure we do not limit women’s role at the table”

     Ine Eriksen Søreide (1:24)

    “May we move forward and not back”

     Lyse Doucet (1:30)

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