Category Archives: DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION

Algeria: 19th edition of the Mediterranean Games

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An article from L’Expression (translation by CPNN)

“the 19th edition of the Mediterranean Games will highlight the role of sport in promoting human rights and the culture of peace”

The National Council for Human Rights and the Center for Anthropological, Social and Cultural Research have just ratified a memorandum of understanding, the content of which concerns partnership, the exchange of activities and cooperation in the field of research scientific. This memorandum is the culmination of the meeting which brought together on Tuesday the participants in a study day centered on “the strengthening of human rights through sport and the Olympic ideals, in the service of development and peace”. 

Simultaneously, the National Human Rights Council and the Mediterranean Games Commission held a meeting whose work focused on “the importance of sport in popularizing peace and human rights”.

The speakers were unanimous in emphasizing that “the 19th edition of the Mediterranean Games will highlight the role of sport in promoting human rights and the culture of peace”.

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(Click here for the article in French.

Question for this article:

How can sports promote peace?

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In her speech at this meeting organized by the National Human Rights Council and the Mediterranean Games Commissioner, the Secretary General of the Organizing Committee for this event, Nawel Benghaffour, indicated that “the 19th of Oran will particularly highlight the use of sport as a tool for the promotion of human rights and the consecration of the culture of peace, dialogue, reconciliation and sustainable development”, emphasizing that “in addition of the sports program, the edition of Oran, which will begin on June 25, includes other activities with economic, environmental, recreational and cultural dimensions”. “They highlight the cultural heritage of Oran in particular and Algeria in general,” explained the speaker.

The President of the National Human Rights Council, Abdelmadjid Zaâlani, for his part underlined that “sport brings people together, creates friendships and knowledge and makes it possible to reduce conflicts throughout the world.” He emphasized the importance of the edition of Oran and its role in achieving these objectives.

Also speaking at the opening of the meeting, the commissioner of the Mediterranean Games of Oran, Mohamed Aziz Derouaz, focused “on the relationship between sport and human rights”, citing ” the role of sport in the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa, where athletes around the world boycotted participation in sporting activities initiated by that regime”. He also stressed that “sport is a human right”, noting that “in Algeria sport is practiced at all ages, by men and women without distinction and in all disciplines”.

This meeting served as a forum to honor former athletes, such as fencing champion Zahra Kamir and Mustapha Doubala, the former player of the national handball team, as well as the amateur sports club “El-Hikma” of volleyball for people with special needs.

The work of this study day, which took place at the Center for Research in Social and Cultural Anthropology of Oran (Crasc), was enhanced by the presence of university students and athletes.

Lectures were given on the role of the Olympic values ​​in promoting human rights, peace and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Europe: Mayors and local leaders play a key role in advancing the nuclear prohibition

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Mayors for Peace – Europe

The webinar organised last 25 May by the Mayors for Peace European Chapter exposed the essential contributions made by local governments to the promotion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Local leaders from across Europe showcased their advocacy and cooperation initiatives on this matter. Peace municipalism and civil society networks can help mobilise more countries in favour of the TPNW and the humanitarian-based approach spearheading the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Faced with the ongoing escalation of nuclear threats, as well as the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, local governments expressed their solidarity with Ukrainian cities  and called for a long-term vision of international security that overcomes nuclear deterrence.

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(Click here for the French version of this article.)

Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Participants to the webinar agreed to ensure a meaningful contribution to the forthcoming Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW, to be held in Vienna next 21 to 23 June. This international conference will give a crucial follow-up to the nuclear disarmament agenda.

Read the summary of discussions of the event here

The webinar was organised by the Mayors for Peace European Chapter in partnership with the following organisations:
* Mayor for Peace
* International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – ICAN
* Nuclear Free Local Authorities – NFLA
* United Cities and Local Governments – UCLG

Representatives of six different local governments across Europe took the floor during the event, including: David Blackburn, Councillor of Leeds (United Kingdom); Thomas Hermann, Deputy Mayor of Hannover (Germany); Philippe Rio, Mayor of Grigny (France); Marianne Borgen, Mayor of Oslo (Norway); Roberto Cammarata, President of the Municipal Council of Brescia (Italy) and Álvaro Ferrer, Deputy Mayor of Granollers (Catalonia, Spain).

Other high-level speakers joined the webinar to represent key partners of the European Chapter, including: Takashi Koizumi, Secretary General of Mayors for Peace; David Kmentt, President-designate of the 1MSP Meeting and Austrian Diplomat; Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN; Emilia Sáiz, Secretary General of UCLG. 

U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Sweeping Resolution: “Forging a Path to Peace and Common Security”

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Peace Action

At the close of its 90th Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada, on June 6, 2022, the final business plenary of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution, titled “Forging a Path to Peace and Common Security.”  This is the seventeenth consecutive year that the USCM has adopted resolutions submitted by U.S. members of Mayors for Peace.


Image from the report,  Common Security 2022; For Our Shared Future

Warning that, “Russia’s unprovoked illegal war on Ukraine, which could eventually draw the militaries of the United States, its NATO allies and Russia into direct conflict, and Russia’s repeated threats to use nuclear weapons, have raised the specter of nuclear war to the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,” the USCM “calls on the President and Congress to exercise restraint in U.S. military engagement in Ukraine while maximizing diplomatic efforts to end the war as soon as possible by working with Ukraine and Russia to reach an immediate ceasefire and negotiate with mutual concessions in conformity with the United Nations Charter, knowing that the risks of wider war grow the longer the war continues.”

Observing that “the immense nuclear arsenal of the United States, even when combined with the nuclear forces of its European allies France and the United Kingdom, failed to deter Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” and that “since the pandemic began, the U.S. has spent 7.5 times more money on nuclear weapons than on global vaccine donations,” the USCM resolution opens with a stark quote from a recent report:

WHEREAS, a new report, Common Security 2022; For Our Shared Future, sponsored by the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, finds that: “In 2022, humanity faces the existential threats of nuclear war, climate change and pandemics. This is compounded by a toxic mix of inequality, extremism, nationalism, gender violence, and shrinking democratic space. How humanity responds to these threats will decide our very survival.”

Noting that “over the next 30 years, the U.S. plans to spend some $1.7 trillion to replace its entire nuclear weapons infrastructure and upgrade or replace its nuclear bombs and warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines that deliver them,” and that “the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, requires the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China to negotiate ‘in good faith’ the end of the nuclear arms race ‘at an early date’ and the elimination of their nuclear arsenals,” in the new resolution, the USCM

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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“calls on the U.S. and the other nuclear-armed states parties to the NPT, at the August 2022 10th Review Conference of the Treaty, to implement their disarmament obligations by committing to a process leading to the adoption no later than 2030 of a timebound plan for the global elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of their first use, and the 100th anniversary of the United Nations;” and

“calls on the Administration and Congress to rein in annual budgeted military and nuclear weapons spending, and to redirect funds to support safe and resilient cities and meet human needs, including by providing accessible and affordable health care for all, housing and food security, measures to assure reliable funding for municipalities and states throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and future disasters for which they are the first line of defense, green sustainable energy, and environmental protection and mitigation; and to increase investment in international diplomacy, humanitarian assistance and development, and international cooperation to address the climate crisis.”

As recognized in the resolution, “Mayors for Peace, founded in 1982 by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with 8,174 members in 166 countries and regions, including 220 U.S. members, is working for a world without nuclear weapons, safe and resilient cities, and a culture of peace, as essential measures for the realization of lasting world peace.

Noting that, “The United States Conference of Mayors has unanimously adopted Mayors for Peace resolutions for sixteen consecutive years,” the USCM “urges all of its members to join Mayors for Peace to help reach the goal of 10,000 member cities.”

The 2021 USCM resolution was sponsored by Mayors for Peace U.S. Vice-President Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, and co-sponsored by Mayor Tishaura O. Jones of St. Louis, Missouri; Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn of College Park, Maryland; Mayor Jesse Arreguin of Berkeley, California; Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, California; Mayor Joy Cooper of Hallandale Beach, Florida; Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison, Wisconsin; Mayor J. Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Mayor Quentin Hart of Waterloo, Iowa; Mayor

Greg Fisher of Louisville, Kentucky; Mayor Frank C. Ortis of Pembroke Pines, Florida; Mayor Jorge O. Elorza of Providence, Rhode Island; Mayor Farrah Khan of Irvine, California; Mayor Tom Butt of Richmond, California; Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter of San Leandro, California; and Mayor Kenneth Miyagishima of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan association of more than 1,400 American cities with populations over 30,000. Resolutions adopted at its annual meetings become USCM official policy that will guide the organization’s advocacy efforts for the coming year.

Brazil: “Politics for the Common Good” Notebook Offers Reflections on Politics as an Expression of Christian Charity in view of the 2022 Elections

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An article from the Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil (translation by CPNN)

A group of Church bodies in Brazil, including the Pastoral Episcopal Commissions for the Laity and for Socio-Transforming Action of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), have published the booklet “Politics for the Common Good”.

The project takes up central questions from Pope Francis’ encyclicals – Laudato Sí, Fratelli Tutti and the post-synodal exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which deal, among other topics, with the joy of the Gospel, care for the common home (environment) and it addresses Politics as an ethical consequence of the commandment of love.

The publication is organized into five chapters: a) The universality of Christian Love; b) Social friendship and ethics in politics; c) The great causes of the Gospel; d) Take care of the Common House; and d) 2022 – Elections and Democracy.

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(Click here for the original Portuguese version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

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Ecclesiastical and civil citizenship

Referring to the publication, the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte (MG) and president of the CNBB, Dom Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, state that it is the result of an offer that marks the sense of the common interest of lay and lay Christians to contribute to their civil citizenship.

It is, according to the president of the CNBB, another formative possibility as an important contribution in the field of citizen political education, for truth in politics, bringing together lessons from our beloved Pope Francis, to inspire studies, reflections and attitudes to help each person to recognize himself as important, and essential to build a world with the features of the Kingdom of God.

The president of the CNBB argues that “no Christian can remain oblivious to the task of contributing to society becoming more just, solidary and fraternal: it is a commitment of faith to devote attention to politics, seeking to rescue its noble vocation – a singular expression of charity” .

To whom it is addressed

The section “Politics for the Common Good” is the result of the work of a network of organizations, services, social pastorals and Church bodies, the Brazilian Network of Faith and Politics, and aims to open up the horizons of Good Politics to more people in the Church.

It is aimed especially at people active in communities and parishes, such as animators and animators of celebrations, catechists, ministers and ministers of the Word, participants in groups and movements, and pastoral workers in general.

A copy can be downloaded here: Caderno Encantar a Política

(Thank you to Herbert Santos for sending this article to CPNN.)

 

The Boric effect on Chilean youth

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A blog by Oscar Oyarzo Hidalgo reprinted by Pressenza (This article is part of issue 0 of the recently launched humanist magazine Ciclos.)

Many analyses have been made of last December’s presidential election in Chile, where Gabriel Boric won at the polls with historic popular support that surpasses even what the candidate’s own supporters could have imagined. In this sense, an important variable for the victory was undoubtedly the participation of young people in the face of the dilemma between the candidacy of Boric and the former candidate Kast, the latter being the representative of the country’s most conservative right-wing.

But what is the reason for this reaction of the youth to the call to vote for Boric and leave behind the threat of Kast? Because it was simply a reaction to the results of the first round, where the scenario was truly adverse for the next President of the Republic. In that scenario, the candidate Kast won the election, albeit narrowly over Boric, demonstrating that the polls and projections of a significant growth of the far-right was demonstrated in a convincing way in votes. Faced with this result, massive support for the Apruebo Dignidad candidate was unleashed, a support that went beyond those who genuinely supported the candidate, not least those who, faced with the threat of Kast, immediately joined Gabriel’s campaign.

Faced with this scenario, what role did the youth play? In my opinion, youth played a role in accordance with what young people have historically meant for social processes. A role that is typical of the generational dialectic of advancing towards change or maintaining the status quo, of embracing ideas of profound transformation and respect for all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, origin, etc. A youth, which in the Chilean case participated strongly in the popular revolt of 2019, but also in the student struggle of 2011 and 2006. With this I want to get to the idea that there is a generation, the under-35s, who are aware of the different struggles that have arisen in recent times. Here the feminist movement stands out in an important way, which in its latest wave has transformed in an important way those forms and treatments that patriarchy has historically imbued societies with. And so on, passing through the ecological struggle, sexual dissidence, animal rights, among others.

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(Click here for the Spanish version)

Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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The reaction is strengthened because those freedoms won and those with which this generation was born – thanks to the struggle of previous generations – were in danger. It was almost impossible to imagine living under a regime that belittles the role of women in society, that discriminates directly or underhandedly against sexual dissidence, and thus, in short, a regime of terror for the future of a generation accustomed to living with these personal freedoms that were being questioned by a political sector.

We might think that perhaps it did not matter so much who the candidate was in opposition to the far right. However, we should not underestimate the importance of the symbol of Boric and the conglomerate that put him forward as a candidate, because beyond the legitimate differences that one might have with that sector, they knew how to interpret in electoral terms the political and social process that had been unleashed after the popular uprising. And among the characteristics of Gabriel’s candidacy, his youth stood out, which was criticised by his opponents; however, this aspect did not resonate beyond the most conservative sectors.

The youthfulness of Gabriel and the team that accompanied him in his campaign was a great asset in the face of a society tired of the same old faces, where young people had been neglected. Apruebo Dignidad represents not only a political change, but also a generational change, although within this generation there is not exclusively one generation, but there is no doubt that it accompanies a process that has been fundamentally raised in recent times by young people.

Gabriel’s performance in his second round campaign and the subsequent result that gave the Magellanic candidate victory, was strongly driven by the youth that through different media got involved in the campaign, either in the territory, as well as through social networks; the latter being a space where creativity and stimulation of the digital world contributed significantly to the dissemination of the campaign, because at the time that people took ownership of the campaign and this was decentralised, it managed to generate the mystique that in the first round had not resulted.

The phenomenon of Gabriel Boric will surely be of interest to many analysts, because the mantle of expectations that the public has covered him represents a great responsibility for the next government, but also for a generation that for the first time since the dawn of the country is taking charge of the country’s destiny. It will be a moment of great hope, but one that will bring difficulties, and here the question is whether the youth that supported Gabriel will have the same impetus to defend his government and proposals in a scenario of foreseeable political complexity. For now, we can conclude that the interest of a particular generation was able to turn the needle in an election that was expected to be close, but which nevertheless ended up being a resounding triumph for progressive proposals against the radical conservatism it opposed.

The author, Oscar Oyarzo Hidalgo, is 22 years old. He is Former Secretary General of the Law Students’ Centre of the University of Chile, Spokesperson for Humanist Action and Humanist Students Coordinator.

Brazil youth voter drive battles apathy – and could help Lula

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An article from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

In the patio of an evangelical youth group in the rough suburbs of Rio de Janeiro one recent weekday afternoon, 18-year-old Vitoria Rodrigues opened up her laptop and began to register young voters for Brazil’s upcoming elections.

A buzzing idealist and impressive orator, Rodrigues is part of an army of volunteers across Brazil who, in just a few short weeks, have registered hundreds of thousands of first-time voters.


The picture combo (L-R top) shows youth voter showing their identification document, 15-year-old Emily Rocha Santana, 16-year-old Sabrina Moraes, 17-year-old Evelyn Santana. (L-R bottom) 17-year-old Arlison da Silva Martins, 16-year-old Cesar da Silva, 15-year-old Arthur Santana in Sao Joao de Meriti in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Their nationwide drive is taking aim at youth voter apathy – and may help to boost a slipping advantage for left-wing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as he seeks to unseat far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in October’s election.

“Nobody likes Bolsonaro,” said Evelyn Santana, 17, shortly after registering her details with Rodrigues. “Among my friends, most people are going to vote for (Lula). They want Bolsonaro gone.”

Polls show the trend holds up nationally. More than half of young people aged 15-24 prefer Lula, according to a survey by pollster Datafolha, while less than 25% of that age group back Bolsonaro.

However, the youth vote has lost some of its punch in recent decades as a deep economic slump and vitriolic public debate has left many young Brazilians tuning out of elections.

Voting is obligatory for Brazilian adults, but those aged 16 or 17 on Election Day have the option to vote if they register by a May 4 deadline.

In 2012, there were nearly 2.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds registered to vote, according to data from Brazil’s federal electoral court. By the end of 2021, however, there were just 630,165 registered voters under 18.

To arrest that slump, volunteers like Rodrigues have fanned out across Brazil to sign up first-time voters.

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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The campaign, boosted by celebrity endorsements from pop singer Anitta and Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo, has been a success. Nearly 450,000 15-to-18-year-olds registered to vote in March, up more than 25% on the number in February, according to the federal electoral court.

“I really think the youth vote will be super decisive,” said Rodrigues. “We have the power to change the destiny of the elections.”

Lucas de Aragao, a partner and political analyst at Arko Advice, was skeptical Brazil’s youngest voters could define the election, as they represent such a small sliver of the electorate. But with polls showing Lula’s lead over Bolsonaro narrowing, their importance is likely to grow.

“In a tight election, every vote counts,” he said.

LULA VS APATHY

Interviews with the 18 people Rodrigues registered to vote one afternoon in Sao Joao de Meriti, a rough commuter town on the outskirts of Rio, showed a strong edge for Lula.

Many were dead set against Bolsonaro, a conservative firebrand who appeals to an older, wealthier and whiter electorate than is found in Brazil’s poorer, blacker favelas. Some were angered by the president’s hands-off approach to the coronavirus pandemic, while others blamed him for a sharp rise in inflation hammering their families’ budgets.

Lula remains a divisive figure in Brazil, where many still recoil at corruption scandals that stained his Workers Party, including bribery charges that jailed him before they were annulled last year.

But in Brazil’s poor urban areas, where gang violence, shoddy infrastructure and corrupt local politics are rife, many overlook Lula’s checkered past, preferring to focus on his social programs that lifted millions out of poverty.

Older generations’ nostalgia for the boom times of the Lula years has outlived the graft scandals. As a result, some younger voters now see Lula, who first ran for president in 1989, as a symbol of political renewal.

“I don’t remember Lula’s government, but they told me it was good,” said Santana, citing his “Bolsa Familia” welfare package which helped sustain millions of families.

But support for Lula was not universal.

Tiffany Tainara de Oliveira, a part-time beautician who dreams of being a dentist, said she was in the minority among her friends and family who planned to vote for Bolsonaro. The 18-year-old said Lula’s progressive social policies, which include support of LGBTQ communities, as well as legalized abortion, made him popular among younger voters.

But she said voter apathy, rather than support for Lula, was her generation’s defining political characteristic.

“Young people today are very lost,” she said. “They don’t have any thoughts about the future of the country.”

Ibarra, Ecuador: Culture of peace, the way towards a good coexistence

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An article in Diario El Norte (translation by CPNN)

Ibarra. “For us, a culture of peace is to see from another point of view how we can solve problems,” said Jesús León, a young man who dreams of living in a safer parish and city; and a culture of peace may be the key.

Jesús is part of The Warriors collective, a group made up of adolescents and young people between 14 and 22 years of age. The great challenge of this group of young people is, through a true culture of peace, to change the image of the Guayaquil de Alpachaca parish, one of the most populous sectors of the capital of Imbabura.


Months ago, several of these adolescents and young people participated in training and workshops supported by international organizations and carried out by the Social Group Ecuadorian Fund Populorum Progressio.

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(Click here for the article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

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The youth prepared themselves on various themes. For example: in cultural issues and community journalism. Omar Becerra is an expert in this type of area and has worked in various provinces of Ecuador. In an interview with Diario EL NORTE he explained: “In the past the culture of peace was seen as only values ​​and ethics. But we believe it should also include cultural actions, organization and civil participation as well”.

For this reason, Jesús and his companions have participated in meetings that have been held in his parish to discuss the issue of safety and good coexistence.

They have also participated in youth agendas.

León also explained that they hold meetings to define in which neighborhoods of the Alpachaca parish they will later work. These sectors include: Vista al Lago, Mirador de Alpachaca, Miravalle, Primero de Enero and Santa Teresita.

Jesús León also took the opportunity to call on institutions and NGOs to provide them with help and to continue strengthening the issue of a culture of peace.

Adolescents and young people from Alpachaca and from other Ibarra parishes have participated in several fairs that have been held in different sectors of the city.

For example, Yadira Ulcuango, who plans to be a peacemaker, lives in the La Dolorosa parish of El Priorato. Ella ulcuango explained that she is part of this project, she has made them see life differently and to solve problems and resolve conflicts.

Mexico: UAEM and PJEM will coordinate activities in the “Week of Access to the Culture of Peace”

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An article from Diario Portal (translation by CPNN)

Cybersecurity, Builders of Peace, Digital Culture and Emotional Reengineering, are some of the topics addressed in the “Week of Access to the Culture of Peace” that takes place from May 16 to 20, organized by the Judiciary of the State of Mexico and the Autonomous University of the Mexico (UAEMéx).

(Click here for the Spanish original. . )

Questions for this article:

Can festivals help create peace at the community level?

The meeting brings together specialists from the Cloister of Sor Juana, the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, the EJEM Judicial Research Center, the Electoral Judicial School, the UAEMéx and the Anahuac University.

Among the activities are two Film-Debates with the Films: Hotel Rwanda and Little Voices; the book “A transitional justice for Mexico. Experiences and realities”; a 5km or 2.5km Walk for Peace, at the Alberto “Chivo”; Córdoba, from University City; and the prizes of the First Culture of Peace Poster Contest.

The week includes the Inauguration of the “Memory and Tolerance Tunnel”, Exhibition of the Museum of Memory and Tolerance; the Monologue “The culture of peace in the words of a superhero”; the Workshop for teachers of the Upper Secondary Level “What do I do with the emotions of my students?”.

A dialogue table and five conferences, among them, “Builders of Peace” will be given by Paolo Pagliai, Director of the College of Human Rights and Peace Management, and Law of the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana.

The inauguration by Judge Ricardo Sodi Cuellar, head of the Judicial Power of the State of Mexico and Doctor Carlos Barrera Díaz, Rector of the UAEMéx, is on Monday, May 16, in the Aula Magna “Lic. Adolfo López Mateos” of the Historical Building of the Rectory and the closing on Friday 20 in the Aula Magna “Mgdo. Lic. Gustavo A. Barrera Graf” of the Judicial School of the State of Mexico.

Children-centered initiative instilling culture of peace in Ecuador community

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An article by Daniela Brik in La Prensa Latina

A UNESCO initiative is striving to instill a culture of peace and strengthen the social fabric in Tierras Coloradas, a violent crime-racked neighborhood of the southern Ecuadorian city Loja.

And the focus of those efforts is on the community’s children, who are seen as the best hope for a brighter future.


Seated around a kitchen table in front of a tablet computer that rests against a wall, Carla and Jose (fictitious names) listen to a law student on the other side of the screen.

That volunteer has assumed the role of teacher, making sure the children know what homework they need to do and clarifying any doubts they may have.

“One of our volunteers connects (with families) after mothers ask for help via a chat,” Gabriela Moreira, head of the UNESCO Chair of Culture and Education for Peace initiative at the Private Technical University of Loja (UTPL).

Around 3,000 people live in Tierras Coloradas, a Loja suburb, in precarious homes built on land donated decades ago to the Catholic Church.

Although the streets of that hillside community bear the names of saints, it carries the stigma of high levels of domestic violence, social marginalization, crime and drug use. The parish priest has even had to have security cameras installed after being robbed on several occasions.

Studies show households in that community earn an average of between $150 and $400 a month, or less than Ecuador’s legal minimum salary.

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(Click here for an article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

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“It’s a very stigmatized neighborhood. There are people with problems identified by the community. But those who have approached us are people trying to improve their lot in life,” said Santiago Perez, the program’s coordinator.

Around 30 UTPL students and scholarship fellows from Spain’s University of Sevilla have participated in the project since it was launched in 2019, either helping children with their homework or giving talks to mothers and fathers.

Perez stressed the importance of working with parents on “managing conflicts in the home and in the community” to mitigate violence “in spaces where it’s been allowed in.”

University professors and students have gradually won the parents’ trust, visited the local school and health center and spoken with community police to see what steps are needed to extricate the population from pervasive violence and foster a climate of respect and public safety.

Parents were especially concerned about their children’s studies, considering many of these young people are alone in the afternoon or being looked after by siblings, or because they themselves lack the educational background to help their kids with their homework.

“At first, the activities were recreational for children aged three to five. Later they included help with school,” Moreira said. “At times, entire days were spent helping them to do an exercise.”

Mariuxi Jimenez, 29, takes her four children aged three to 14 to Santa Narcisa de Jesus church, where two young psychology and social work graduates teach a workshop to children on emotional regulation and anger management.

“What makes you feel happy?” one instructor asks the kids seated on a church bench while holding up some illustrations.

“My children like these types of talks because they help them with things they don’t understand,” said Jimenez, who agrees with the importance of “promoting peace with them so conflicts are avoided.”

The parish priest, Pablo Bouza, acknowledges that the district has been racked by violence due to “drugs, alcoholism, family problems.”

“Denying that reality would be like burying your head in the sand.”

War in Ukraine: Statement by the Board of the European Chapter of Mayors for Peace

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A statement by European Chapter of Mayors for Peace

Representing European local and regional governments committed to defend peace in our cities and towns but also across the continent and the whole world, and following up on the call by the Mayor of Hiroshima and President of the Mayors for Peace network urging for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine, we issue the following statement:.

° We urge the Russian government and perpetrators of the current escalation and territorial agression in Ukraine to put an end to hostilities, respect international law and commit to reinvigorated diplomatic efforts: Dialogue, cooperation and diplomacy are the only valid mechanisms to ensure a peaceful resolution to conflict.

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(Click here for the French version of this article)

Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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° We express our solidarity with all Mayors, local governments and residents who have been suffering and will now suffer more from this war. This show of solidarity is especially addressed to our city-members and friends in both Ukraine and Russia, with whom we share a common desire and goal: to live in a peaceful world. As places where people live, cities and towns are often the territories suffering the most by armed conflict. Wars cause endless suffering and often turn our citizens into refugees and children into orphans.

° We invite parties involved in diplomatic negotiations to go beyond confrontation and listen to these same communities and local leaders. They are not only the parties suffering the most from the war, but can also be instrumental in delivering a truly sustainable and effective peace.

° We recall the risk of a nuclear escalation inherent in the conflict, which would result in catastrophic humanitarian consequences not only for our shared continent but the whole world. We call for respecting the suffering of previous nuclear victims and also the rights of future generations. We emphasize our organization’s stand on this agenda and call for the implementation of the hitherto not fulfulled commitments on nuclear disarmament: nuclear weapons are prohibited, a vision which has already been embraced by a majority of countries in the world.

° We reaffirm our willingness to continue working together with international organisations in the peace movement, civil society and committed states in finding a solution to this conflict. As mayors and local representatives, we are committed to continue showcasing our people’s firm choice in favor of peace and opposition to war.

Inspired by our own local memories and our firm commitment to shout out loud “Never Again War”, let’s work together to prevent and resolve conflicts, to continue building peace and to create safe environments where all our residents can live safely and with full respect to human rights.

The Executive Board Mayors for Peace European Chapter.