• Published Date: 27/12/2019
  • by: UNDP

‘Local Chef’s to Peace Project’ make peace between Thai-Buddhist, Muslim and Thai-Chinese in the South though local food.

 

In the midst of South Thailand insurgency, many departments are finding solutions to end the conflict including this group of youth from the South ; Phadlee Tohday, Arafa Buerangae, Iskanda Kuno, Tarmeesee Anansai, the winner from Youth Co:Lab Thailand 2019 competition. They are determined to change disagreements into peace among the turmoil in the South between  Thai-buddhist, Muslim and Thai-Chinese using local food.

 

 

We want everyone to understand diversity and live peacefully

Local Chef’s to Peace Project : We see the problems of local people in the South. We know that they don’t understand each others in the deeper dimension of life such as cultures, society, food and living. Therefore, we came up with solution to bond their living together through our project called ‘Local Chef’s to Peace Project’

 

A food which creates peace

Local Chef’s to Peace Project : We picked out an issue about eating culture in the South. Because we found out that the differences of eating culture can make people in the area feel distant and might lead to bigger trouble like discrimination. So, if we can make one dish out of several religions, everyone can have a meal together worries-free.

 

Bond relationship and embrace diversity with “Ashure”

Local Chef’s to Peace Project : We chose “Ashure” because it’s a dessert that is mixed from several dishes and stirred thoroughly until the mixture is homogenous just like “Piakpoon” (black coconut sweet pudding). Traditionally, we set a day to make the dessert together in the village. On the day, everyone has to bring ingredients they have at home and help each other stir the pudding. So, we can say that the process harmonises everyone no matter what religion they are.

 

Food alone can’t stop all the conflicts, but at least, it can be a practice.

Local Chef’s to Peace Project : Food alone can’t stop all the conflicts, but at least, the food that we presented can be a bond that connects people from different areas, a practice to live together, to exchange experiences and most importantly to understand each other more.

 

People trusting each other is the dream we expect to become true.

Local Chef’s to Peace Project : We hope to see society that trusts one another,,, society that doesn’t have any kinds of discrimination. At last but not least we wish that everyone could live peacefully without suspicions and hatred.

 

The feeling to be part of the programme.

Local Chef’s to Peace Project : When the announcement came out that we are gonna be part of the programme, we felt super excited. Because we’re sure there’s something to look forward to. And after we attended the programme, we enjoyed it so much. We’ve met friends with the same interests and exchanged so many good experiences to each other.

And to accept the first price, it’s more than words to explain our feelings. We were never this happy in our life. First thing we know is that, we’ve broken the wall of expectations from people back at home, from our close one , and also from ourselves. Every team claps for us… it was the feeling of ultimate joy.

 

#UNDP #UCxUNDP #RespectDifferences #EmbraceDiversity #YouthCoLab2019
#YouthCoLabThailand #PVE #PreventingViolentExtremism #SocialInnovatio #SDGs
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  • Published Date: 04/12/2019
  • by: UNDP

Lessons from “National Dialogue”: Live with Understandings and Stop Hate Speech


Youth Co:Lab has opened up new experiences for youths from across the country, who attended the event on 1-3 November 2019. The 10 teams had an opportunity to discuss initiatives on how youths can contribute to conflict prevention and how to live with understandings and diversity. They also had an opportunity to be part of a “National Dialogue,” to discuss the findings from the report on the situation of “Inter-faith Relationships in Thai Society” under the theme “Embracing Diversity.” In the past few years, we have witnessed a rise in tensions between people with diverse identities, cultures, and religions, particularly in an online world. Social media has played a significant part in amplifying these tensions and hatred, which sometimes spilled over into an offline space.

In 2019, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has collaborated with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC) to assess the extent of online hate speeches by investigating the use of languages, communications, and the expression of opinions on social media. The goal is to foster a better understanding about the situation in order to come up with appropriate measures that can prevent the spread of hatred and violence in Thai society through embracing the culture of acceptance and respect for diversity.

The dialogue centered around a paradigm of hatred in Thai society. Representatives from several sectors participating in the dialogue, including government, private sector, civil society, academia, media, and youths.

During the dialogue, the findings from the study were presented to participants. Four key takeaways were drawn from the study of “Hate Speech in Social Media.”

01 Four levels of hate speech

This report used the methodology of text mining in online platforms, such as Facebook, in order to collect information that was then used to classify 4 types of hate speech, including:

  1. Expressing intense dislike: Create stereotypes and allies against opposite beliefs

e.g., we’re not like them, they’re heretics! they’re deadwood!

 

  1. Instigating hatred: Provoking statements that dehumanize others

e.g., You scumbag, Selfish, I’ll have your mouth stuffed with pork! You’re not human!

 

  1. Provoking segregation: Express the need of eviction

e.g., Leave the country! We can’t live together! Just go ahead with the secession!

 

  1. Fueling violence: Incite the physical violence to eliminate opposite sides

e.g., Kill them all!  Shoot them! Why keep the scum of earth?

 

 

 

02 The situation of Hate Speech in the current online world is in the 2nd Stage.

 

The report found that the current online world in our country mostly uses the 2nd type of hate speech which stirs up hatred and encourages provoking statement that dehumanizes others. Now is the time for concerted efforts to move Thai society pass the worrying stage we are in.

 

It’s better… that we had time to talk before the situation gets worse and harder to solve.

It’s better …that we were aware of the problems in front of us before we won’t have a chance to discuss this.

 

It’s better that we knew that this wasn’t a small issue before people start to pick up guns and kill each other

 

It’s better that we started to fix this together.

 

 

03 Understanding Counter Speech

By participating in this event, we learned a new term called “Counter Speech” which means the informative argument against hate speech, that are used to contradict to the detrimental opinions. This counter speech persuades online listeners or readers to stop and reconsider the conventional belief they always have.

 


04 We need to collaborate to reduce “Hate Speech”

 

The most significant message in “the National Dialogue” was that we need collaboration from all sectors to reduce keyboard abuse and extreme concepts by exchanging ideas in a constructive manner and together creating a better society in the future.

 

The findings from the study of “Hate speech in Social Media” or “the Decline of Tolerance that Causes Hate Speech in Social Media” reminded us to stop and think before typing anything negative on social media.

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  • Published Date: 01/10/2019
  • by: UNDP

Gorka Espiau and the learning from the Basque Country on conflict resolution

 
Tackle conflict through a lesson learned from the Basque Country with Gorka Espiau, a social innovation expert who believes “conflict can be reduced if we’re committed.” 

 “One of the most important question when working in conflict areas is, do you think change is possible?”

Gorka Espiau is a social innovation specialist and a Senior Fellow at the Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC) who believes that conflicts happening in different regions of the world can be minimized by the combined power of people, innovation, and the conviction that change can happen. Espiau made a visit to Bangkok to share his experience at the talk hosted by UNDP Thailand on “How to Build Social Innovation Platforms in Conflict Areas: The Basque Experience”. on September 20, 2019 at TCDC Bangkok.

Situated in the north of Spain, the Basque Country was an area of conflict and violence. The Basque national groups were seeking their highest political objective of independence from Spain and France, and re-established the identity of a Basque nation. Violence grew between those with opposing ideas. There were armed conflicts and drug problems, and the GDP was lower than the level set by the EU. The region’s reputation deteriorated by the day, resulting in an economic collapse in the 1980’s and the unemployment rate that hit a historic low.

From that decade on, the Basque Country began restoring its stability started with the foundation of Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the modern and contemporary art museum marked the dawn of change for the formerly conflict-ridden region.

 
The Basque Country was committed to change and conflict management. It didn’t use innovation for socio-economic advancement ‘after’ all conflicts were resolved, but simultaneously improving the cities and establishing peace through social innovation. The social innovation in question actually isn’t a specific type of technology but a new process or inventive approach that helps address existing problems and conflict peacefully.

The approach to working in conflict areas, Gorka Espiau concluded, is driven by one key idea:

“Do you think change can happen in conflict areas? No matter how bad the situation is, if people in those areas believe they can make change happen, there’s always a way.”

 
We’ve learned from Basque Country’s experience that there are five levels to building social innovation platforms in conflict areas, namely:

    1. Community Action
    2. Small / Medium Scale Projects
    3. Large Scale Projects
    4. New Services
    5. New Regulations

 
All five levels of action need to be taken in complementarily and integratively through listening. Listening is a process that needs to take place in conflict areas. It can mean providing a creative platform for people to share their stories and issues they face, come together to find an opportunity for change by talking and observing, because asking and listening is the way towards understanding; the platform can also gather opposing ideas in order to understand their reasons and motives (the process is called sense making), finding out what each person values, what they believe, and what drives them, and how they make sense collectively. Then, relevant actors work together (co-creation) to analyze the problems, inform others, create advocacy tools and learning space, and come up with an innovation, ideas or a new approach based on the needs of the local community, before creating a prototype of interconnected projects to experiment and verify results together. This would lead to systemic change through scaling, which not only raises the bar at the project level but also at the process level.

 
Change in Basque Country happened as a result of various actions, from the revival of the Basque language, a native tongue that was dying but the grounds of all of Basque civilization, to the resurgence of Basque cuisine – the Basque people, group of chefs in particular,  wanted to call attention to their local ingredients so they jumpstarted the food industry by incorporating the French techniques with traditional ways, and opening restaurants and cooking schools where students can start working at the restaurants upon the completion of their course. Today, Basque cuisine is well-known around the world, particularly pintxos and tapas. It also gave the region the global record of the most number of Michelin star restaurants per square meter.

Next is empowering the labor sector. When the Basque economy collapsed, workers were undoubtedly greatly impacted. Then came the establishment of Mondragon, a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives that support workers in numerous ways. The Basque’s people also influenced policy change for income equality, expanding seaports, underground train and airport constructions, as well as road and railroad maintenance. All this has enabled Basque Country to connect to the outside world and attract investors, which in turn increase employment rate. Moreover, the development also focused on workers with disabilities as one of the ways to improve social inequality. It created a process that supports these workers and organized trainings for them on skills that meet market demands. In addition, Basque Country has been committed to promoting the right to education to guarantee equal access and capacity for all youths. These are only a few instances of how the process of social innovation was used in the development, which evidently and effectively minimized conflict in the region.

 
The experience of the Basque Country shows that peace and development can be achieved without resolving all conflicts beforehand. Building peace can be completed hand in hand with social and economic development and addressing disparity. Citizens were informed and saw the collective goals that would take them forward. Finally, the region was able to rebuild its reputation and garnered worldwide interest in its success stories.

Using social innovation to affect change and resolving conflict at the same time has led Basque Country to hold a leading position in public health and education, and achieve GDP growth, an export rate of domestic products at 75% as well as one of the highest per capita income levels in Europe.

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  • Published Date: 16/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Learn to prevent violence before it ever happens

 

Undeniably, today’s world is covered with images of poverty, discrimination, inequality and injustice. They are the factors behind violent extremism whether at a community, national or global level. The timely important question is what does it take to prevent violent extremism? What tools or measures can stop violence-induced tragedies before they happen time and time again?

 

 

Preventing violent extremism is not averting violence with more violence. It’s about how to identify the problem as well as its root cause to collectively find a peaceful solution. The approach requires cooperation between the government, local authorities and citizens.

Although there hasn’t been a clear example of violent extremism in Thailand, the risks that can lead to it are in view. Here, the space for all people to share their opinion, dialogue and problems is quite limited. This includes various issues that still go unaddressed such as women’s limited social and political voice, the apparent gender inequality in Thai society, and inequitable access to opportunities for the excluded and underprivileged.

Getting informed or a better understanding of the issues is a good and essential first step. We had a chance to meet Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, a lecturer of international relations at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, and talked to her about preventing violent extremism in Thailand.

 

(photo credit : GM Magazine, January 2017 issue)

What is PVE?

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: PVE or Preventing Violent Extremism is to avert violence that is the result of extreme ideologies. The violence is justified by a certain extreme ideology or thought, and targeted at someone or some group who the extremist sees as their “opposition”, or who they think “taints” their society. To prevent such violence, we need to look at the social structure and culture that shape the extremists. These people often live in social conflict, and when people face conflict on a daily basis, being in this loop of animosity, they would harbour grievance. It can be grievance over economic injustice, glaring class disparity, or religious and racial discrimination.

Some may feel that a certain policy doesn’t give them equal access to education. Others may feel similarly about other policies. There are varying reasons for the grievance. So, to create protection against extreme ideologies, we need to study and understand people’s grievances, seeing what drives them to the point of violent conflict.

 

PVE in the context of Thailand

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: The meaning of violent extremism we understand now derives from the experience of our neighboring countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as many countries in the Middle East and the West, which may not represent the same experiences that Thai people have. From the dialogue in Thailand, the definition of violent extremism here is not quite set. Each group or sector has its own understanding of the term, depending on their experience and stance in different situations of conflict. For example, when we talk to the civil society, we’ll learn that the state is at the center of it, they’re the one inflicting violence on the people and therefore is the root cause of violence. Meanwhile, from the state’s point of view, violent extremism comes from a certain group of people who commit violence against another group of people who have a different identity from them. So for us, I think the definition of violent extremism should be based on the context of Thai society. That is, we understand the conditions of violent extremism by looking at the relevant dimensions – social, political, economic, etc – rather than look at who commits violence.

 

Work to prevent violent extremism

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: The UNDP’s work to prevent violent extremism in Thailand is divided into many units, but they can be grouped into two main areas, namely:

1. PVE in the conflict zones of Thailand’s three deep southern provinces: Various programs are set up to research the social and cultural conditions that enable or assist violent conflict. For example, a program that focuses on Thai-Muslim tolerance or a program that promotes dialogue between Buddhists and Muslims to develop good understanding between people of different faiths.

2. PVE in other areas in Thailand: research on the root causes of grievance in all regions – north, northeast, central and south – and what motivates violent extremist actions and how

UNDP also has a team of people that monitors hate speech in the country, identifying and analyzing open conversations and statements on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook that discriminate against minority groups. Additionally, we collaborate with government agencies to support various violent extremism prevention initiatives.

 

 

Public awareness

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: There still isn’t that much awareness about preventing violent extremism among the general public. Because its concept originated elsewhere, that is, violence-stricken countries or societies. So now we’re working to raise more awareness and create a better public understanding of the issue.

That being said, there are a lot more to be done and challenges to tackle. We’re going to focus on building cooperation between different sectors – from the private sector, organizations to civil society – through a strategic management approach, research, or consultation with experts in various areas in order to come up with Thailand’s approach to preventing violent extremism.

 

Sources :

– Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Lecturer of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University

– The United Nations and The World Bank, 2018, “Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approach to Preventing Violent Conflict”. Executive Summary, Washington D.C. Bank. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.

– http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/programmes-and-initiatives/extremelives.html?fbclid=IwAR3G9xDf15DZCyru0BvszNMAL5rcdITCcR4YdKIPrmfT8JmzxIEAaz5QFzo

– https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/2030-agenda-for-sustainable-development/peace/conflict-prevention/preventing-violent-extremism.html

– https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2019/new-approaches-to-preventing-violent-extremism.html

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