Imperial War Museum Build The Truce

December 10 is Human Rights Day. In 2011 you watched as people around the world stood up for their rights and their freedom. Maybe you did too.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights belongs to all of us, and was the world’s international response to the shared horror of the Second World War. It sets out, in 30 separate articles, the promise made by the international community to the people of the world: to respect and protect humanity through a commitment to defending  basic, human rights.

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I’m attending an event at the University of Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute this week – their seminars and discussions are always fascinating and this one should be no exception. It marks 40 years of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and their work – well worth venturing out into the cold so check if there are any places left at the bookings site.

We’ve had great support from   the HCRI over the last year or two. We’ve interviewed several members of staff and postgrad students with firsthand experience of humanitarian crisis and conflict – their stories will add new dimensions to our archives and future exhibitions (updates coming soon on our new Truce displays, which are co-curated by HCRI’s Dr Tim Jacoby).

 

 

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Following the Working For Peace Expo (September 18 & 19 ), two of the Expo’s participating organisations returned to IWMN last Sunday (September 25) as part of the Stone Flowers performance and album launch.  Stone Flowers are a creative music group supported by  Musicians without Borders and Freedom from Torture NW. They have a been described as “A moving and truthful journey with expressions of protest, peace, love and hope. An original song-cycle in English, Lingala, Farsi, Kurdish, French and Kikongo, influenced by folk, jazz, classical, spoken word and hip-hop music”.

Their music filled the Main Exhibition Space of the museum during two packed performances on Sunday and the audience erupted with applause after each song. Visitors of all ages were gathered to watch the Stone Flowers and comments were left by visitors who said the event was ”really important for thinking about war and peace and supporting survivors”.  The Stone Flowers CD album is available to buy here.

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Image of International Peace Day advert

Welcome to the latest Build the Truce pilot blog. Until March 2012 we’ll be sharing information about the people and places supporting conflict resolution – and letting you know how the Museum is working with them to create new displays about conflict, truce and resolution.

Through our collections and the organisations we work with, we’ll be signposting events and ways to get involved on this page.  We’ll also upload recorded material and invite guest blogs from people we’ve encountered through Build The Truce project work. Most importantly we’ll respond to your comments, and host your ideas,  as part of an open dialogue in these pages. We’re depending on you to bring different perspectives to the blog, so please take part. Looking forward to hearing from you.

See the Team page for more on the team; look at the About page for background info on the Build The Truce blog and project.

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Image of Lloyd George's Versailles Doodle

These doodles were done by Lloyd George at a meeting of the Inter-Allied Council to discuss the terms of the Armistice to be imposed on Germany in November 1918. Difficult and complicated business, reflected in this sketch from blotting paper on the negotiation table. A small figure is trapped in an endless red cage of intersecting lines – does this  suggest the complicated carve-up of postwar Europe, and the helpless individuals within it? The lines are repeated over and over again, like an unresolved conflict that continues to replay itself  – as it would in 1939, in a chain of events  rooted in the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

IWM explores the cycle of conflict and war, and how it shapes our lives. This includes our efforts to address and respond to the causes and consequences of war, and to break conflict cycles. This is why the Museum’s collections contain evidence of peacekeepers, peace makers and peace builders from 1918 to the present day.

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Dr Alison Ronan is a member of the Research staff at Manchester Metropolitan University who recently completed a doctorate about anti-war women in Manchester 1914-1918. She has experience as a youth and community worker in the NW for 30 years, including volunteer work on a conflict resolution project in the community and in prisons.

Dr Ronan will give a short talk introducing some of Manchester’s pacifist and anti-war women activists, working for peace during the First World War. The talk will outline the astonishing local and national activist networks, often built on the pre-war socialist and suffrage groups in the city; and look at the Manchester branches of the Women’s International League, the No Conscription Fellowship and the short lived but energetic Women’s Peace Crusade in 1917. Central to all these campaigns was the feisty pacifist and feminist reformer, and Manchester’s first woman Councillor, Margaret Ashton (1856-1937)

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