Program Officer for Outreach and Communication at The Coexistence Initiative
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
A: My present work? I'll talk a little bit about my present work. I have been interested in the idea of coexistence for the past five or so years, and have narrowed this interest in the past two to three years. And now, I'm very interested in looking at social inclusion policies - looking at how governments and regional bodies protect minorities. In fact, even before they protect minorities, how they define minorities, how minorities define themselves, how they're protected or not protected. And one of the things I'm very interested in is thinking about how minorities and disenfranchised people are ?? for within legislative frameworks. I think it's important with countries without any conflicts, but it's particularly important with countries coming out of violent conflict, especially where ethnicity or religion has played a major role. It's also something that's of importance in countries where there may be an indigenous population that is often ignored, and they might not be waging any conflict as we may see it. But nonetheless, it is critical.
Q: Beyond changing relationships with those groups, you're saying they need structural protections and legal protections.
A: Yes, and this is kind of going into the Start Everywhere at Once thinking. Marginalized communities may need relationship strengthening between them and neighboring communities or the majority communities, depending on where you are. But I think it is imperative to also have a firm policy framework, within which the communities in question can interact with state infrastructure so that they can practice their full rights, they can participate politically, they can have access to social infrastructure and economic infrastructure. They can buy land. They have health clinics in their communities. It's a two-way approach. I think the issue of social inclusion must be addressed at the policy level, but it also must be addressed - as you spoke about earlier - at the community level; either one on its own is not enough. It is likely that more emphasis on policy will affect individual behavior, because there are ramifications to contradicting those policies and that legislation. My interest just happens to be particularly at the policy level.