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GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

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Sixth Summit of Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures of Peace
an article by David Adams

It was a curious amalgam, the Sixth Summit of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures of Peace, which I attended in Geneva, Switzerland, this month. The meeting, hosted from September 14-20 by Oliver Rizzi-Carlson and his young team, was dominated by exercises using the Nonviolent Communication methodology of Dominic Barter, as derived from Marshall Rosenberg.



click on photo to enlarge

On one day of the conference, however, there were presentations from national peace ministries, from Nepal, Ghana, Kenya and Costa Rica, among others. I was told by Saul Arbess from Canada, one of the founders of GAMIP, that this was the highest level gathering of national peace ministries in the history of the organization. The day was organized by the International Civil Society Network on Infrastructures for Peace under the direction of Paul van Tongeren.

Among the major presenters were the following:

Emmanuel Asante, Chair of the National Peace Council from Ghana;
Mira Karybaeva, Chief of the Division of Ethnic and Religious Policies from the Government of Kyrgyzstan
Liban Guyo, Assistant Director for Reconciliation and Integration / Uwiano Peace Platform Secretariat, Kenya
Sadhu Ram Sapkota, Joint Secretary/Director, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Nepal
Dulce Umanzar Alvarado, Vice-Ministry for Peace, Ministry for Justice and Peace, Costa Rica
Ozonnia Ojielo, Head of Conflict Prevention and Recovery of BCPR (UN Development Program)

Leaders from Local Peace Committees from DRC, Colombia and Afghanistan also contributed to the workshops which, unfortunately took place in many simultaneous sessions due to lack of time..

I was especially impressed by the initiative in Ghana and would have liked to have heard much more from Emmanuel Asante, who remarked that "I came 12 hours to speak for 10 minutes." As the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, he presently chairs the Ghana Peace Council. The Council was established by Act 818 of the Government of Ghana in 2011, but it maintains its independence from Government control and represents a broad spectrum of Ghanian society, including all major religious groups, traditional indigenous chiefdoms, trade unions, women's and youth organizations. It is mandated to establish local peace councils throughout the country.

As described by Bishop Asante, the Council plays an important role in maintaining peace during and after national election campaigns. They work to mitigate the destructive effects of the "winner takes all" model of democracy imported to Africa from Europe and the US by convincing the political parties that they must form governments of cooperation instead of exclusion and conflict.

A similar problem haunts Kenya. Although great progress has been made in establishing peace committees, the speaker emphasized that "political processes greatly undermine the impact of the peace processes".

At the present time these and other national peace initiatives are being effectively supported by the United Nations Development Program, which was represented at the Geneva meeting by Dr. Ozonnia Ojiello. Ojiello was questioned by Shale Sofonea from Lesotho, who congratulated UNDP for having helped the civil society from Lesotho to overcome the violence associated with national elections, but who asked pointedly if Africa would be able to depend on help from UNDP well into the future.

DISCUSSION

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How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?,

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For articles since 2016, click here .


This report was posted on September 29, 2013.