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posted Oct 1, 2012, 7:35 AM by Plural CentroStudiEuropeo

Interview with Zoughbi Zoughbi director of WI’AM Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center.

By Greta Sarracino

 WI’AM Center is a No Profit Organization born in 1995 in the city of Bethlehem, placed in Palestinian Territory of West Bank, founded in a difficult political and social context with the aim to support Palestine population under Israeli military occupation but also to implement Arab tradition of mediation known as Sulha, to open a dialogue among people came from different religious groups. WI’AM also was honored with the 2010 Peace building Award in the World Vision International Peace Prize competition for “successfully integrating traditional Palestinian mediation customs with innovative academic models of conflict analysis to address the very difficult circumstances of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank.” The Association’s works is linked to a series of Humanitarian Principles which are the base of actions of material assistance to people came from  weak social bands, but also of the implementation of  dialogue mediation between young, women and elderly people and about the promotion of basic human rights and democracy values.

“WI’AM” in Arabic means “cordial relationships” and developing relationships is the essence of your mission. Basically, every kind of relationship deals with the mutual capacity to express each other, and learn to listen. What is the story of WI’AM Centre? Why you decided to start this challenging work?

WI’AM Centre was born in 1995 in period of transition, after Oslo Accords and during a revolutionary moment: the Centre born to support and to help people in order to resolve conflicts among different communities involved in the struggle. WI’AM’s aim was to engage society in the participation of different topics, to tie people in communication and cooperation among them. It was necessary for the participants to give them back hope and to guarantee dignity for everybody. We have promoted different programs of socialization for the necessity to create a positive background for People from all ages who needed to meet and to talk among them: for children, for women and for man, in order to help us and to give an answer and a prospect for their frustrations with an active way as to empower civil society.

I was wondering what kind of people currently work in the Wi’am Centre: volunteers, experts, maybe part of the church community; please, tell us about an ordinary day at Wi’am: how many cups of coffee you need?

 Currently in our Centre there are experts but also many volunteers involved in different programs to help children, women and elderly people. Everybody needs help, for this reason WI’AM actions are addressed to the construction of human basic dignity, so our volunteers work in different programs and with different people. Today we have around one hundred twenty people devoted in different projects, for example, in July 18, 2012 will start the Children Summer Camp where around ten volunteers will be engaged: their role will be to make fun with children and to entertain them in different activities as to play, to draw etc.

Could you explain me your working method? Are there differences between young and elderly people in the capacity to accept the idea to stop the dynamic of hate?

WI’AM Centre employs a traditional method of conflicts resolution called Shula which is an approach composed also with a part of western mediation technique. We borrow Western non violent methods (came from Europe, North America, and Canada etc...) and we blend those with Arab traditional methodology which came from generation to generation and which is composed with our community values. It’s necessary to teach to the new generations the importance of non violent challenge and the importance of dialogue because they are our resource, our hope: they are the future of the World and the Future of our land. Our duty is to invest our resources to teach to everybody to live in peace. We are interested to promote peace values and the basic human rights all related to the necessity of that people could live responsibly in peace and dignity. Palestinian people want just to live in peace and prosperity.


In Europe and Western Countries what we know about today’s Palestine is only about military occupation and the inefficacy of international policies; in other words, we have only a political dimension overcoming the level of normal citizens. What about the real Palestine people: the dreams, the hopes, the positive aspects? 

 From years we are the object of a terrible military Israeli occupation so we demand to live as ordinary citizens of our land, just in human equality. We ask to Governments that Palestinian people could have access to basic Human Rights, the same rights which are violated by the occupation and which are necessary for the course of Palestinian daily life.Today the 87% of Palestinian Territory is occupied by Israeli military force: for example Bethlehem is surrounded by 23 Israeli settlements.

The situation is dramatic because Palestinian people could not have access to potable water which is considered one of the first well necessary for the survival of the population: many Palestinian families don’t have access to water, on the contrary Israeli families can have all water they need. Violence damage people’s dignity and remove the hope of the construction of a new democratic society based on the respect of human rights.

Palestinian people are not treated in good human condition:  we need to create the bases of a democratic society and a collective responsibility, and following this road, we must to resist. We believe in the construction of a dignity justice maybe without the western countries’ help, but doing what we need as the end of this occupation in order to give hope to a population that continue to suffer.

The aims of WI’AM Centre are to promote human rights and basic cooperation but we need the ended of this occupation, perhaps with a religious base that could be create with religious dialogue and cooperation because religious fundamentalism destroys dialogue and menaces the end of the dynamic of hate.It is necessary to listen and to open all minds so that everybody could live in prosperity and hope to have a chance in the future, because we need to reach peace: we must give peace a chance.

SEASON OF WITHER Conflicts after the Arab Spring

posted Oct 1, 2012, 7:32 AM by Plural CentroStudiEuropeo

Interview with Raffaele Crocco, creator and director of the Atlas of wars and Conflicts in the World

By Caterina Michelini

The Word is at war; of the 193 States member of United Nations one out of five is at war in this moment. The 90% of victims are civilians, in particular children and women; in addition to this data, also the artistic heritage and the environment suffered incalculable damages. The problem is precisely the forgetfulness of these conflicts. The Atlas of the Conflicts, nowadays at his third edition was created in order to fill the void of indifference: its aim is to recount the actual status of wars in the world. This important yearbook was created by the journalist, writer and documentarist Raffaele Crocco through the 46th Parallel Association, and the prestigious collaboration with the Ilaria Alpi Prize with the support of the New World Florence's editions. Talking about the possibility of a forthcoming cooperation about a new edition of the Atlas, we met Mr. Crocco nearby our offices in Florence.


In 1818 the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, Napoleon’s enemy on the battlefield, but his supporter and admirer in the field of theoretical speculation on war, wrote his most famous work, the manual of military strategy On War, in which he claimed the theoretical  priority of politics on war, by defining war as the continuation of politics by other means. In particular, he stated: “Ordinarily you think that the war is to end the political intercourse, and that a state of things completely different takes over, governed only by its own laws. We maintain, on the contrary: that war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse, with a mixture of other means. We say, mixed with other means, in order thereby to maintain at the same time that this political intercourse does not cease by the war itself, is not changed into something quite different, but that, in its essence, it continues to exist, whatever may be the form of the means which it uses”. And again “It is politics that has created war: politics is the guiding intelligence, while war is merely the instrument”. Do you think that the idea of politics as the intelligence of war and then the idea of war as a process in which politics does not cease, but rather it is maximally present also with different means, are outdated today or, on the contrary, these ideas still provide, after two centuries, a lucid analysis of the nature of the conflict and, by extension, of the war? Also in the case of the recent events in the southern shore of Mediterranean, do you think that politics stands as the intelligence of war, and if so, how?

 I think it is important to begin with an assumption: the world of von Clausewitz was completely different from the world today. And the immediate consequence thereof, is that the war is completely different as well. The Prussian general had been struck by the parable of Napoleon – even if he had fought against him – and he was a child of his times. He saw the war as a political expression of non-democratic states, which fought in order to conquer new territories and impose supremacy. To accomplish these objectives they used, for the first time, large masses of people, forced to follow the will of monarchies. This state of things has somehow gone on until the 1950s.
In that situation, with that premise, the continuation between the foreign politics of a state and war was almost natural, and, without doubt, the conflict came at the end of a "political" and of a “diplomatic” path. All this because the war was, essentially and exclusively, a matter between States. Today, this is no longer the case. The majority of conflicts is within the individual States, between factions contending the power. The clash between different countries, with large armies on the move, is extremely rare.
 Military units are often small and frequently they are just militias, not regular armies. In this logic, politics and war become non-prosecution, but only one thing, without differences. The exceptions are in the – quite numerous – conflicts that have seen as protagonists, on the one hand, large coalitions of countries, and on the other, individual States. I’m talking about the two Gulf Wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia in 1999. In these cases, a political principle has been established, in order to support and justify the intervention: the one of "humanitarian war". This is a new figure from the doctrinal point of view, a figure born at the beginning of the '90s and developed mainly by the great leaders of democratic countries, such as Clinton and Blair.


 The case of the Mediterranean uprisings is different: it was, after a long time, a movement from below, and without an ideological construction. To move millions of people in North Africa and the Arab World has been the desire to a better life, the search for a greater area of ​​freedom, the wish
to put an end to the privileges and wealth of a few. In this respect, it was something very similar to what happened in France in 1789.
 A moment of rupture. The question is what will happen now: revolutions have the need to create new leaders, and things do not always go as people want them to.


Clausewitz continues: “The conduct of war, in its great features, is therefore policy itself, which takes up the sword in place of the pen, but does not on that account cease to think according to its own laws”. In war, therefore, politics draws the sword, but the laws governing the conduct of war remain the laws of politics. In your Atlas of Wars and Conflicts in the World you underline the limits of the United Nations, defined helpless, maybe old, but to be defended, both in its tools and in its logic of intervention. In the Nineties, for example, both at operational level through the Blue Helmets, and at political level, the United Nations have become protagonists in a series of relevant failures. Do you think that, once again, the Clausewitzian image of the war as the politics with the sword, that acts according to its own laws is useful to explain, at least in part, these failures? Are these failures perhaps motivated by the need to preserve a system of alliances and economic and political balance among the most influential States, at least some, of the United Nations?

 The failure of the United Nations lies in the very nature of that organization. The Plenary Assembly, for example, is composed of 193 countries. Many of these are ruled by dictators who have little or nothing to do with respect for the inalienable human rights. It’s hard to imagine that the representatives of those governments can make decisions in line with the ideals of democracy and respect for individuals rights. A second problem is given by the Security Council, with its five permanent members - USA, Russia, China, France and England – that have the power to block any decision by putting a veto on it. These five countries have specific objectives, weave global alliances to safeguard their commercial interests, and are often in conflict between themselves. The result is a paralysis. A mechanism, therefore, that makes it impossible to act, and that sometimes also renders unnecessary the presence on the field of contingents of “blue helmets”, subject to shocking rules of engagement . However, the UN remain the best attempt that the international community has set up in its history to attempt to stop the wars, and to seek a better balance to the injustices. And at the basis of all this, there is an extraordinary document, the Declaration of Human Rights. You must always start from here in order to look for  answers to the conflicts on the planet.


 The Clausewitzian idea of politics as the logic of war can also be useful to explain a different type of conflict, the conflict linked to the environment. According to a report of Legambiente in 2007 there were about 80 million refugees did so as a result of desertification, floods, the effects of the global warming etc., and the UNHCR estimates that they will rise to 200-250 million by 2050. This kind of conflict appears to be a wear without weapons and without one of the two duelists. Who do you think is the ‘hidden’ player and what are its responsibility? Do you think that, once again, they are the political logic and the economic interests of some national players, of big corporations and of lobbies to produce this king of ‘atypical’ conflict? Do you think that the whole Mediterranean basin, northern and southern shores,  is and will be affected in the future by the ‘eco-refugees’ phenomenon? If so, how and what will be the long-term consequences?

Environment and climate issues are linked to conflicts, because those problems have the same nature. Whole chunks of Africa are currently being purchased by foreign governments - including Italy - or corporations that want to have arable land at their disposal. Last year, African farmers have lost the area equivalent to France, paid a trivial amount of money, moreover: less than one euro per hectare. The goal is that of meeting the growing demand for food in an impoverished planet for what concerns land - we lose an acre of arable land per minute due to the climate - and more and more populated. This means that the imbalance in the distribution of global resources and wealth, which will be always more concentrated, will increase,. The food, the land, will be the future, new reasons for war, along with the water supplies control. Actors are certainly the multinationals, but also the governments, and we are talking about absolutely democratic governments, elected by their peoples. A serious reflection about this topic should really be carried out.


 In this context, the Mediterranean has been for years a conflict and rupture zone. This is demonstrated by the phenomenon of migrations, with millions of people fleeing from Africa, because they have no land and food. Refugees waiting or traveling along the Mediterranean sea have become a reason of political conflict within countries, they have been exploited for election campaigns, they have become valuable goods – see the cases of Gaddafi’s Libya and Ben Ali’s Tunisia in their relations with Italy – to obtain foreign investments or weapons. Since at least two decades, we are being affected by this phenomenon, and the Mediterranean is changing its face and its balances also under the weight of this mass movement of desperate people, and of the governments’ political choices.

Twenty years after a path called MERCOSUR

posted Oct 6, 2011, 1:20 AM by Plural CentroStudiEuropeo   [ updated Oct 11, 2011, 3:47 AM ]

The last 26th of March, MERCOSUR turned twenty years old, in the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Asunción, in Paraguay, that provided it with the necessary legal framework. His gestation, assures Oscar Laborde, Representative of the Foreign Ministry of Argentina, was an act of institutional

engineering by Brazil and Argentina, in order to process their contradictions in the economic and commercial field. Today, twenty years after the signing of the Treaty, some people claim that there already is a model of integration, and effective structures and accomplishments. 

Accomplishments and failures of Mercosur

UNASUR is perhaps the most important realization of this process, for the achievements fulfilled: a common front towards the attempted coup in Ecuador, mediation between Colombia and Venezuela, and the stopping of secessionist attitudes in Bolivia; that is to say tangible issues, that the citizens can verify, and that point directly to the consolidation of democracy and the consolidation of human rights”, assures Laborde.

On the other hand, there are people who criticize the Southern Common Market (Mercado Común del Sur, MERCOSUR), on the grounds of not being able to overcome the continuing internal conflicts, and not managing to expand itself, for the obstacles posed to the acceptance of Venezuela with the same status of its founding members, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. 

During those two decades, episodes of commercial crises between Argentina and Brazil have repeated themselves, and so have requests from Paraguay and Uruguay to correct the asymmetries existing with the economies of their larger partners. 

Moreover, the partners of the bloc have not succeeded in exiting from the crisis that shook them in the nineties, nor could they realize the awaited, and hoped for, free trade agreement with the European Union. Notwithstanding all of this, the regional mechanism was able to increase internal trade from 4.500 million $ in 1991 to 45.000 million $ in 2010. 

An agreement between developing countries

Along the way there have also remained issues like the adoption of a single currency, following the example of the European Union, or the better functioning of entities like the Court of the MERCOSUR. 

Twenty years after the beginning of an ambitious path called MERCOSUR, some people claim that it is possible, and also necessary, to maintain an optimistic vision, and attitude. “A very positive step between the countries of the region from the political and social standpoint”; affirms Aldo Ferrer, former Minister for the Economy of Argentina. We have to take into account that, unlike the European Union, MERCOSUR is and therefore, not fully mature industrial economies. This is obviously a very complex reality, in which, to some extent, the national transformation and the project of integration are converging.

 Article from Plural Magazine #1

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Flavia Cori



Med in the world: global short overview for a Euro Mediterranean vision

posted Oct 5, 2011, 6:04 AM by Plural CentroStudiEuropeo

Med In the World, published in 2010 by PLURAL European Study Centre in the framework of Medgovernance project, represents a short but significant attempt to consider the Euro Mediterranean Basin in a global overview, comparing the Med area with other relevant basins in different continents. In fact, the risk of a Eurocentric vision of problems is a traditional tendency to overestimate the European qualitative issues, with a lack of comprehension of the overall world dimension.

Conceived as a follow up to the 2007 larger survey “Europe in the world”, the analysis starts from the dimension of EU territorial cooperation, making a brief catalogue of the Basin macro region concerned by transnational and cross border instruments: i.e., the first comparison is between the Mediterranean and Baltic and North Sea Programmes, also referring to ENPI instruments in the Black sea and transnational initiatives as Interreg IVB Caribbean and Indian Ocean Programme. This section reflects, for the most part, the EU indication about the efficiency and the concrete approach to cohesion and support to competitiveness given by Lisbon and Gothenburg goals and agenda. 

Regionalisation and spatial integration

Individuating comparable basin Areas in a global context could appear just more than exercise; nevertheless some processes developed in the different histories of coordinated initiatives might show some key elements of reflection. Anyway, the geopolitical representation of each Area must take into account some crucial dimensions. The first dimension is the regionalization, intended as “regional economic integration” at macro or regional levels, within the globalization process. This level of survey puts the stress on the increase of trade and financial flows between States all situated in the same region (clusters of States). This process can develop itself on a legal basis (free trade agreements, customs unions, common marketsB), or without any legal basis, as it is the case in Eastern Asia, where there is no such agreement at macro regional level yet (between Japan and China for instance).

A second dimension is defined within cases of spatial integration, where places are connected by functional economic, demographical, informational, cultural links, eventually without any institutional support. This kind of integration involves contiguous portions of space belonging to different countries. An example of this approach is given by P. Mehlbye (2000) with the definition of European Global Integration Zones (GIZs). The GIZs are clusters of metropolitan urban Areas linked by strategic cooperation programs. This kind of zone offers “high quality global economic functions and services, which enable a high-income level and a well-developed infrastructure”. The core Area is characterized by “a denser and more dynamic territorial structure both in terms of its node (metropolitan regions, cities and towns) and links (external and internal communication network)”.


Territorial integration and structural polycentrism

A third dimension, strictly linked to the second one (for some aspects, on the opposite point of view) is given by territorial integration, which implies several countries in a project set up in order to face the process of globalization. In other words, the necessity to face globalization and, consequently, to reach a relevant size (for example, United States or China) encourages numerous countries to be part of regional integration zones. As institutional infrastructure, the European Union may constitute an appropriate model. 

The process of integration could also be based on lighter ties and fewer cooperation programs, involving only a few key sectors, economic and financial for instance, like trade agreements or customs unions, or in an EU cooperation framework, Medgovernance project is intended as a pilot experimentation. Territorial cooperation is supposed to contribute to balanced regional development, European competitiveness and sustainable development, and to facilitate new urban-rural partnerships.

A fourth dimension is represented by urban relations of polycentric systems. These relations can be identified as a) institutional or b) based on voluntary co-operation; Institutional polycentricism relies on political co-operation, and on the willingness of territorial agencies to work together on joint projects and strategies.

The cities may, or may not, be complementary with regard to urban functions. The Union of the Baltic Cities represents one of the most advantaged models of this approach. The key aspect is given by the fact that two or more cities develop common projects in order to build thematic and joint projects, actions and strategies, to exchange knowledge, best practices etc. and to share equipment and upgrade infrastructure (cultural, social, transport, etc.). Within 2007-2013 Italy France Maritime Program, the Union of Tyrrhenian Cities (UCAT) project follows the same logical framework. On the other hand, the b) structural polycentricism is related to the organization of a territory via spatial patterns of economic or functional relations and flows. Structural relations and flows are not necessarily nested in urban strategies. Rather, they are “spontaneous” products of overlapping housing or labor markets, of specialized networking between urban located actors or simply historically established cultural, economic or social relations. Thus, structural polycentricism may be identified as road, rail and air traffic, financial flows, information flows, etc. The fifth dimension is neighborhood, defined as designating places which are next to each other and eventually form a contiguous ensemble, that is adjoining regions or also territories that are close to each other, but which are not necessarily adjoining, if interactions exist between them.

In the second and the third section of survey the vision becomes wider, taking in consideration the Association Of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and finally the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).


A wider vision

Some key elements of the potentials of the initiatives are given by several factual examples described in the survey. in particular, an example may be the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP), devoted to reduce barriers to the increased use of renewable energy, thus reducing the dependence on fossil fuels while contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, or the Immigration and residency Programs in Mercosur. In conclusion, MED IN THE WORLD’s attempt is to go beyond the traditional approaches focused on the risks that the Mediterranean area represents for the European countries, trying to transfer the interregional cooperation approach based on the individuation and exchange of best practices as opportunity for Euromediterranean of a cultural and economical regeneration, activating dialogue and promoting collaboration with its own neighbours. Have been is a condition to be, as Braudel said, but also: will be is the destination to be. (MED IN THE WORLD is currently available on


                                        Francesco Barilli and Alessandra Trimarchi

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