climate change conflict law peace

Genuine connections

Now he is a human rights researcher, but as a young man Brian Aycock joined the military. He was sent to provide security for international war crimes investigations, including watching the uncovering of mass graves. Trained to dehumanise the situation he instead developed a strong empathy for the other and returned to study history and literature.  He found community and connection in those who are activists in their daily lives, and a kinship with the downtrodden. He joined the Peace Corps and through genuine connections in places such as Malawi learnt his most important lesson – be nice to everybody. For Brian this means a respect for the other and indeed a breakdown of otherness.  Returning to the US again he worked with poor and disenfranchised on a “get out the vote” campaign – learning much about the value of positive communications.

Further study in the UK in economics led to marriage in Japan and working on refugee resettlement programmes and from there to an MA in refugee law.  He is now working for the International Academic Forum (IAFOR) in Japan, bringing people together in international cooperation of research and learning.   

We talk about the inequity of an international system that has globalised except for labour – privileging money and goods over human beings, and that we have failed to recognise that migration is at the heart of human security.  

He is continuing to research refugee law, focusing on climate refugees.  Brian argues that we urgently need an international framework for burden sharing for such environmentally displaced persons. 

Definition:  Solved before handed onto next generation. 

Superpower: Kindness

Activist: Yes, if you’re not, you’re failing as a human. If you’re not doing anything, you’re letting life pass you by.

Motivation: Respect for human beings

Miracle: Seeing each other as humans – be kind to each other

Advice: Say hello to the people around you. 

This conversation was recorded at Lingnam University in Hong Kong in November 2019.


Rethinking conflict

Tracy Scott is a conflict consultant. We talk about how her goal is to providing opportunities and processes for collaborative positive change.

This conversation was recorded in Christchurch shortly before the tragic mosque shootings. Tracy describes how the moment of conflict isn’t positive but what can happen because of the conflict that can be, if we choose to let that guide us to learning and understanding.  In the wake of the incredible tragedy we are seeing positive change,  new learning, new understanding and even more connections and building of relationships.  We plan to get Tracy back soon to discuss what we can learn from the positive community responses to what happened as we all find our way through to make some kind of sense out of it all.  Kia Kaha Christchurch.

Talking points

Conflict is a natural part of life

Conflict is opportunity

Empathy is probably our most important tool – consideration for somebody else

Self-empowerment is the real key

My focus is on a facilitated process (rather than the legislative, evaluative approach), it’s a journey, a community mediation model

My job is to open up the doors, people choose if they want to walk through them.

It’s a new paradigm, its OK to enter into a journey of conflict

Sustainability: Activity and programme is bigger than the person doing it.

Success: Spread of community moderation in New Zealand

Superpower: I read people really well.

Activist: Probably. I create change. It can be uncomfortable, change is about the unknown.

Motivation: Knowing it makes a difference. And I’m comfortable to say I’m good at it.

Building youth resilience, aligning with school curriculum. We need people to have this toolkit and to put it into play earlier.