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At UN, Measuring Violence in Turkey, Syria, Bahrain & Sri Lanka Is Claimed To Be Value-Free

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 12 -- Can studies of violence be produced that do not make value judgments about which side is to blame? At the UN on Wednesday, just that claim was made regarding the Global Peace Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace.

  Inner City Press asked the panelists, including one from The Economist Intelligence Unit, which casualty figures they used for Syria, and to explain their report's statement that "Bahrain continues to be affected by increasingly violent protests, largely from the country's Shia majority."

  Are the protests violent? Or do the authorities react violently to them? Inner City Press asked the same question about recent events in Turkey, in Taksim Square.

  Panelist Daniel Hyslop, Research Director of Institute for Economics and Peace, responded that the study is not pointing fingers or making value judgment. But isn't it? If one refers to violent protests, it justifies government crackdowns.

On Syria, Hyslop cited IISS and said the figure of 72,900 killed in 2012 was used. What about Benetech, the San Francisco-based, US National Endowment for Democracy funded, contractor given a sole source contract by the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights?

  Inner City Press asked asked about Sri Lanka -- 40,000 killed or how many? -- but that question wasn't answered. Inner City Press asked about the relatively peaceful score assigned to Haiti, while the UN maintains the MINUSTAH mission there. (How deaths CAUSED by a "peacekeeping" mission, in Haiti by introduction of cholera are treated in this Index is another question.)

  Another panelist said Haiti had improved on such categories as terrorism -- really? -- and nuclear weapons. Well that's a plus. The study is thought provoking, but the implicit value judgments it makes, for example about Bahrain and prospectively about Turkey, need to be re-thought. Watch this site.

Footnote: this Global Peace Index press conference was competing with a Security Council meeting about Tribunals, and a session on Culture addressed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

 Inner City Press thanked the panelists on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access -- the old UNCA was nowhere to be seen. Likewise when Ban Ki-moon passed the Security Council stakeout and graciously stopped for a word, the word was "table," as is, the need for a media worktable at the Security Council stakeout as existed before and during the Capital Master Plan relocation -- before Ban Ki-moon's tenure in fact.

The world, the Institute for Economics and Peace said Wednesday, is less peaceful now. And for now, the media have less access and less workspace at the Security Council. Watch this site.

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