Insight: Is the Cost of Globalization the Extinction of Ancestral Identities?

This is an insight written by Esther Kaufman on the recent 1oth UN Session of the Forum on Minorities. 

Is the cost of globalization the extinction of ancestral identities? 

The UN held the 10th session of the Forum on Minorities from the 28th of November to the 1st of December 2017. This conference welcomed organizations from across the world to speak as representatives of their respective minority nations, and to air their concerns to the International community.

The topic of this year’s forum was “Minority youth: towards diverse and inclusive societies” and focused on engaging minority youths and civil society actors in discussion with state actors. The three-day conference was separated into five agenda items, including; 1. the opening meeting; 2. inclusive education to empower minority youth; 3. participation of minority youth in public life; 4. minority Youth and the media in the digital age: acceptance and opportunity; and 5. minority youth: agents of change for peace and stability. Between these items, attending civil societies actors were welcome to hold and attend side-events focused on challenges that pertained to the year’s theme.

It is important to note that this event is the only forum organized by the UN that does not require ECOSOC status to participate, a status that may only be granted by States.

Theory v. Reality

In theory, this Forum could be enough for minorities, the international community can hear the blatant violations of international charters by state actors and pressure these actors to uphold the charters, which they have signed and pledged support for.

The reality is not so simple. The UN is an entity created by the member states, and maintained for the peaceful preservation of states. It survives because member states grant it recognition and jurisdiction. If too much pressure is exerted on the states, or simply on the wrong states, its very existence is likely to unravel.

For this reason, states have several safety mechanisms in place. Firstly, the Forum chooses the years topics for the discussion items. Representatives of minority organizations are than granted two minutes to state their concerns. As one representative said, “When Iranian youth are awaiting execution, it is difficult to speak to social media limitations facing youth.”

States are also allowed to interrupt speakers with a Point of Information. The most aggressive use of this right this year was by the Ethiopian state. The Ethiopian representative used his time to accuse the speaker, who spoke to the violence and discrimination youth face in Ethiopia from the state, of being a member of a terrorist organization and urged the testimony to be discredited.

The moderator noted that all organizations are meticulously screened by the forum secretariat before being granted accreditation. Although it is clear that those with any violent associations are denied access to the Forum, the speaker remained disrupted by the comments of the member state representative.

Actions Speak Louder than Words: Government Organized Non- Government Organizations (GONGO)

These are funded by the government and spoken of openly and with full confidence by other civil society actors. These GONGO’s push a peaceful narrative of State policy that is often used to discriminate and attack minorities.

An example of the work of a GONGO was highlighted by the presentation of a Uyghur from East Turkestan region of China spoke to his personal experience with the brutal enforcement of the Chinese “Bilingual Policy” that has banned the Uyghur language and enforced violence and arrests for those caught speaking or teaching the language. A GONGO responded to say that the “bilingual program” serves to assist the youth of today’s generation assimilate to a more global network.

Is the cost of globalization the extinction of ancestral identities?   

Our global system functions as a network of states, and international forums have provided essential platforms for diplomatic peace talks. Minorities, too, are asking to live and work within our system, not against it. Why do they face brutal retaliation?

The UN was born from the ashes of the holocaust.  Yet everyday minorities across the world continue to endure discrimination and fear of persecution. If the UN is to promote and secure the peace it was created to do, it should open its eyes to the reality of its methodology. Trusting the theoretical intentions of its work is simply not enough.

About the Author:

Esther Kaufman is recent Economics graduate from the University of Maryland with a minor in Global Terrorism Studies.  She is interested in the effects of economic policy on issues such as equality, welfare and radicalization of individuals in society.


Insights: Muslims and the Holocaust: Reconciliation and Hope

This is an insight written by Margo Shear on a lecture given by Dr. Mehnaz Afridi as part of the Bahá’í Chair series on human nature. 

Perspective on History 

The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace recently hosted Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, associate professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College. The subject of her lecture, “Muslims and the Holocaust: Reconciliation and Hope,” drew interest from guests in the hopes of exploring a dark part of history – from a different perspective. Continue reading

Insights: The First Political Order

The First Political Order: Sex, Governance and National Security

The turn-out to the Baha’i Chair of World Peace’s First Annual Lecture on Thursday, September 21st was impressive. The audience included University of Maryland students, teachers and deans, as well as amazing visitors from all over the world. There could not have been a better topic addressed in the presence of some of the most significant minds involved with the promotion of international peace.

Professor Hoda Mahmoudi and Professor Valerie Hudson at the Annual Lecture, September 21st 2017.


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Insights: Non-violence as an effective strategy?

This is an insight written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Professor Kathleen Cunningham as part of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace series on Leadership and Global Governance. 

Non-violence as an influential strategy?

Professor Kathleen Gallagher’s lecture on self-determination of nationalistic organizations offers insightful and relevant evidence on moving towards a peaceful society. Groups seeking self-determination have been known to have high internal fragmentation that is associated with the use of violence in pursuit of political recognition. Continue reading

Reflection: The Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere?

Reflection: “The Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere”

Proud Beginnings

In many ways, the new world’s first free country was not the United States, where much of the population was enslaved. The first free country was Haiti, roughly the size of Maryland and located in the Caribbean, at its peak Haiti was the most prosperous colony in the world which enabled France, and other Western nations, to acquire wealth at the expense of its own development. Continue reading

Insights: Searching for the Impossible

This is a reflection written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Dr. Nicole des Bouvrie on the 30th of November 2016.  

Why We Should Search for the Impossible

What if the question, “Can Women Think?” is not an absurd question? Dr. des Bouvrie began her lecture by introducing historic western philosophers whose ideas have established the foundation of Western thinking. From ancient times, white male philosophers have built identities based on differences. Following their philosophies women cannot think, or at least, not as men do. Continue reading

Reflection: Solving Racism Through Dialogue

The Problem of Prejudice 

Once again the stubborn scourge of racial prejudice and structural racism is tearing apart the American society. For almost four-hundred years since slavery was first introduced to the American continent, the pseudo-scientific doctrine of racial superiority, and the structural arrangements that promote the systematic support of racism, continue to persist. Continue reading

Insights: The Power of Patience

This is an insight written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Mrs. May Rihani as part of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace series on Women and Peace. 

The Impact of Examples

Mrs. May Rihani’s lecture, “Sexism, Gender Roles and Their Intersection with Power”, shed light on the broad range of issues surrounding sexism and gender bias around the world. Continue reading

Interview: Dr. Rashawn Ray on Why Police Compliance Does Not Save Black Lives

Interview with Dr. Rashawn Ray, interview conducted by Brandie Reeder Williams.

Dr. Ray will be giving a lecture on the 25th of October in Hoff Theatre, Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland. To find out more and to RSVP visit the website of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace.

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Values and Moral Principles – Our Road to Peace

Rather than make assumptions about other people that are not based on facts, try to get out of your comfort zone and try to talk to people you would not normally talk to. ~ Professor Hoda Mahmoudi.

Professor Hoda Mahmoudi discusses the Baha’i Chair’s views on peace in this video by the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University of Maryland.

Reflection: International Day for Peace 2016

When you ask most people about world peace, they tell you that peace is among the most important matters on their mind and that we should all be concerned about it. But longing for peace is only the first step on the path toward making the world a better place for all people.

If we really wish to work toward achieving world peace we will first have to start with expanding our worldview about what peace requires from individuals, communities, and leaders of nations.

If we really desire a better more peaceful world, then we can start by accepting the fact that there are many barriers to peace. Through our actions every person has the power remove the road blocks to peace. Continue reading

About ‘In-Depth’

“The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility. To be objective, to use one’s reason, is possible only if one has achieved an attitude of humility, if one has emerged from the dreams of omniscience and omnipotence which one has as a child. Love, being dependent on the relative absence of narcissism, requires the development of humility, objectivity and reason.” – Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland is an endowed academic program that advances interdisciplinary examination and discourse on global peace. Viewing humanity as a collective and organic whole, the Chair’s incumbent, Professor Hoda Mahmoudi, explores the role that social actors and structures play in removing obstacles and creating paths to peace. The Chair’s explanation focuses on a number of thematic issues including, structural racism, climate change, human nature, women’s inequality, and leadership and global governance. Continue reading

About ‘Reflections’

“Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous.” ~ Confucius

The reflections on the blog will be in a number of formats. Reflections by Professor Mahmoudi will include the Chair’s thoughts and approaches to current events. Students will write reflective pieces on events they have attended, those organized by the Chair and other events across campus. Every event arranged by the Chair will be reflected upon in the blog, these reflections will highlight what the author found interesting and any questions the event made them think about. We will also feature reflections by guest authors related to the research themes of the Chair. Continue reading

About ‘Interviews’

“Everybody talks, nobody listens. Good listeners are as rare as white crows.” ~ Helen Keller, “The Beauty of Silence,” in The Home Magazine (1935)

As part of the conversations series the blog will also feature interviews with upcoming guest speakers and other notable figures. These interviews will be carried out by students who will select the interviewee, do the background research and then conduct the interview. Continue reading