Category Archives: DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION

Press Release: Peace Starts Here – The Global Movement For Local Peacebuilders

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

A press release from Peace Starts Now

Today (January 31), a cohort of local peacebuilders from around the world launch Peace Starts Here, a global movement for peacebuilders. The campaigners are inviting people to sign a manifesto demanding that local peacebuilders be seen, heard, and better supported locally and globally. 

Peace Starts Here will highlight the effectiveness and necessity of local peacebuilding, while calling for more international support and educating the bigger system about the realities of local peacebuilding. It will also galvanise a movement for change in the sector.


Through a manifesto for change, this campaign aims to ignite a movement that will change the status quo. With five separate asks, the manifesto centres local peacebuilders, and calls on the wider sector to ensure they are supported to lead:

° Make space for local peacebuilders – Create more inclusive ways for local peacebuilders to lead, shape and influence the peace process in their regions.

° Fund more local peacebuilding efforts – Remove the barriers to funding for all genuine grassroots peacebuilding initiatives making a difference for local people, and proactively channel resources to local peacebuilders in communities closest to conflict.

° Support and strengthen local peacebuilders – Build the capacity and resilience of local peacebuilders so they can participate in sustainable peacebuilding and build trust with policymakers, funders and donors.

° Centre peacebuilding around local people – Invest in more human-centred, collaborative, and community-led approaches to global peacebuilding efforts, encouraging local peacebuilders to play an active role in decolonising the role of global actors.

° Learn from local peacebuilders – Promote successful local peacebuilding initiatives to aid learning, insight-sharing and collaboration in the wider peacebuilding sector.

Join the movement today by sharing your thoughts on the asks and signing the manifesto.

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Question related to this article:

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

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Backed by Peace Direct and now with the added support of United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) and Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) Peace Starts Here is for local peacebuilders and by local peacebuilders.

Diana Ishaqat, one of the campaign’s co-creators and local peacebuilder, says:
“We are calling for the recognition of local voices for peace. It is us who navigate the consequences of conflict and violence; it is us who should lead in building long-lasting peace. This is the real story of peace, told by local peacebuilders. It starts with them. It starts with their work. It starts in their communities.”

Visit www.peacestartshere.world  to read about the co-creators behind this campaign, their journey and the manifesto asks.

Notes for editors:

° Peace Starts Here is a global campaign created by 10 peacebuilders from around the world

° For the past year, ten local peacebuilders from around the world have worked together to co-create a global movement to improve recognition and support for local peacebuilders. Together, they drafted a manifesto for change based on their experience of the peacebuilding sector, particularly their experience of the marginalisation of local perspectives in international discourse

° The idea of a co-created global campaign began in Beirut, Lebanon in August 2018. Peace Direct’s Peace Exchange event brought together a group of peacebuilders from around the world to discuss how to best resolve conflict in their communities and build sustainable peace. During one of these conversations, the idea of a locally-led, global campaign was born

° The campaign creation phase was facilitated by Peace Direct, an international peacebuilding NGO, InsightPact and creative agency Neo.

Contact details:

° Luis Alvarado Bruzual, Campaign Co-Creator, Caracas, Venezuela – luisalvarado528@gmail.com (GMT -4hrs

° Diana Ishaqat, Campaign Co-Creator, Beijing, China – dianaishaqat@hotmail.com (GMT +8hrs)

° Ruth Mileham, Peace Direct, London, UK – ruth.mileham@peacedirect.org (GMT)

° Amal Atrakouti, Peace Direct, Montreal, Canada – amal.atrakouti@peacedirect.org (GMT -5hrs)

Oaxaca, Mexico: State Government Promotes Culture of Peace as a Public Policy

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from the Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca

Within the framework of the Training Conference for Municipal Authorities elected by Indigenous Regulatory Systems 2024, the Government Secretariat (Sego) presented the Program “Peace with Justice and Well-being” for the People of Oaxaca.

In this sense, the director of Culture of Peace of Sego, Leticia Cruz López, reported that in the sessions held this January 8 and 9 in the Oaxacan capital, municipal authorities were called upon to develop actions for the implementation of peace policies and promotion programs.

In this way, the aim is to contribute at the local level, to the positive transformation of social and agrarian conflicts for the benefit of girls, boys, young people, women and men of Oaxaca.

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(Click here for the Spanish original of this article)

Questions for this article:

The culture of peace at a regional level, Does it have advantages compared to a city level?

Is there progress towards a culture of peace in Mexico?

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“We thank the new elected municipal authorities for accepting the implementation of a culture of peace with an intercultural approach, since municipalities are a key element in influencing the strengthening or reestablishment of the community fabric,” she stated.

These trainings are part of the accreditation process for the municipal authorities who assumed their duties on January 1 of this year, carried out by the Sego Undersecretary responsible for Municipal Strengthening.

The state official highlighted that the municipal authorities show their interest in being part of the State Network of Municipalities as Agents of Social Peace, as well as working with their councils with tools to establish community dialogues, spaces for mediation and conciliation in their towns and build processes of conflicts resolution.

With these actions, the State Government and the municipalities join forces so that Oaxaca is transformed with respect, diversity, equality and justice, so that community environments are strengthened and privileged by peace and where differences are worked on constructively.

Some of the municipal authorities that joined the Network of Municipalities Agents of Social Peace are: Mariscala de Juárez, Santa María Yalina, Santo Domingo Albarradas, San Melchor Betaza, San Juan Cotzocón, Santiago Camotlán, San Pedro and San Pablo Ayutla, San Miguel del Río and Ixtlán de Juárez, among others.

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USA: Union Leaders Join Progressive Lawmakers in Demanding Gaza Cease-Fire Now

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Brett Wilkins in Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Leaders of major U.S labor unions joined progressive members of Congress at a Thursday rally and press conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where they implored President Joe Biden to support a cease-fire in Gaza without delay.

Leaders of unions including the United Auto Workers (UAW); the Postal Workers Union; and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America held a press conference outside the Capitol, where they were joined by Democratic U.S. lawmakers including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

“The world has seen enough slaughter and devastation. Peace is the only path forward," UAW president Shawn Fain—who recently led the fight for historic new contracts for Big Three autoworkers—told attendees. "While we call for a cease-fire, we also condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia, [and] anti-Arab racism, all of which are growing in our nation at this moment and must be stopped.”

“As union members, we know we must fight for all workers and suffering people around the world. We must fight for humanity,” he added. “That means we must restore people's basic rights and allow water, food, fuel, humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. We must also call for the release of all hostages.”

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Question related to this article:
 
What is the contribution of trade unions to the culture of peace?

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Bush, the lead sponsor of a congressional cease-fire resolution drafted in October, said that “as an activist and organizer and a proud daughter of a former union member, I know that the foundational message of every guild is to stand with the people, to fight for their dignity and to advocate for those most marginalized.”

“Our humanity needs a cease-fire, and that is precisely why I’m so happy to have unions here today to join in this fight,” she added, “because we know that unions know how to organize. Unions know how to mobilize and galvanize and energize.”

Thursday’s rally came as Israeli forces continued attacking Gaza by land, air, and sea. Since the October 7 Hamas-led attacks that killed more than 1,100 people in southern Israel, over 70,000 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or left missing by Israel’s retaliatory war, which many critics have called genocidal.

Additionally, around 1.9 million Gazans—or over 85% of the besieged strip’s population—have been forcibly displaced, and hundreds of thousands of cases of infectious diseases have been reported.

While Biden this week privately decried what he acknowledged as Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza, the president remains a staunch Zionist who is seeking $14.3 billion in additional U.S. military aid to Israel atop the nearly $4 billion it already receives annually from Washington.

Tlaib, who introduced the cease-fire resolution with Bush, said, “I’m a proud daughter of a UAW worker, and I know my Yaba (father), if he was here, he would be so proud.”

“The UAW taught him he deserved human dignity, even though he only had a fourth-grade education, even though he was Palestinian, even though he was Muslim," continued Tlaib, who last month was the target of a successful House censure motion over her defense of Palestinian rights. "On that assembly line, he was equal to every single human being on that line. Who did that for him? The United Auto Workers did that for him.”

I’m so grateful for each and every one of your voices in this movement to save lives,” she added. And I’m proud to stand alongside you all. So today we raise our collective voice to say, “Enough is enough. Cease-fire now.”

(Editor’s note: One day after the above press conference, America’s largest health-care union, 1199SEIU , voted also to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.)

Brazil: Ministry of Education advances the debate on restorative justice

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from the Ministry of Education in Brazil

On Tuesday, November 28th, the 2nd Restorative Justice Dialogue in Schools was organized by the Ministry of Education (MEC) through the Secretariat of Continuing Education, Youth and Adult Literacy, Diversity and Inclusion (Secadi). The initiative is in partnership with the National Council of Justice (CNJ) and aims to promote a culture of peace and non-violence in schools. The broadcast is available on the MEC YouTube Channel.

This second meeting featured the participation of judge Egberto de Almeida Penido and judge Roberto Portugal Bacellar. The debate was moderated by Yann Evanovick Furtado, general coordinator of Educational Policies for Youth, at Secadi.

According to  judge Roberto Portugal Bacellar, having a new look at the issue of authority makes it possible to work in a cooperative, integrative manner and with a systemic vision. “The idea of restorative justice is that we can analyze a conflict with a complex, systemic view, instead of seeing it as a fragmented episode. We analyze it not as a portrait, but as a film, where we can try to learn about each person’s story,” he explained. According to the judge, restorative justice is participatory and a conflict must be treated together by all who are involved, including students, teachers, principals and even the community.

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(Click here for the original article in Portuguese)

Discussion question

Restorative justice, What does it look like in practice?

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According to judge Egberto de Almeida Penido, restorative justice in schools is an initiative to deal not only with violence, but with the construction of an environment of fair coexistence. “When we talk about restorative justice, we are talking about the value of justice, which is a very expensive value, too precious to be in the hands of jurists alone. It concerns each and every one, the way we respond to what affects us”, he stated. According to him, schools that have adhered to restorative practices have seen a drop in the rate of violence.

Dialogues – The Restorative Justice in Schools cycle of dialogues is part of the Technical Cooperation Agreement for the implementation of the “Restorative Justice in Schools” project, signed by the MEC and the CNJ on November 14th. The debates are a preparation for the implementation of restorative practices in the school environment in 2024. The objective is to promote a culture of peace and non-violence in schools, using practices that involve dialogue, accountability and repairing the damage caused by conflicts.

Agreement – The Technical Cooperation Agreement for the implementation of the “Restorative Justice in Schools” project has the objective of contributing resources so that schools can create environments that facilitate the confrontation of internal violence. It is based on qualified listening and restoration and strengthening of relationships that permeate the school environment. These actions require the commitment of the entire school community (leaders, teachers, students, parents) and society, as well as through the training of professionals and students who have an interface with the education network.

The project also includes: partnership between the courts; the participation of magistrates and civil servants; institutional partners; and the education system and its schools. The dissemination of the basic notions about the various possibilities and functionalities of restorative justice is the responsibility of the CNJ’s Restorative Justice Steering Committee.

The Technical Cooperation Agreement requires the Ministry of Education and the National Council of Justice must promote articulation, management, awareness-raising and training actions in order to achieve restorative justice in the educational system.

Medellín, Colombia, with the most peaceful days in the last 40 years

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Cambio Colombia

Four years after its creation, the Medellín Non-Violence Secretariat makes spaces for reparation between victims, perpetrators and citizens. As a result, Medellin has achieved the calmest days in the city since the 1980s.


Photo: Mayor’s Office of Medellín.

The capital of Antioquia is experiencing the most peaceful days of the last 40 years. As an example, during the protests of the social outbreak in the country, Medellín was the only place that did not report deaths or missing people.

This was possible thanks to the creation of the Non-Violence Secretariat in 2020, which at that time worked hand in hand with marchers and public forces to preserve order and respect for human rights.

Likewise, the launch of the Secretariat by the District Administration has turned Medellín into a Latin American example for reparation and care for victims, ex-combatants and people deprived of their liberty. Furthermore, thanks to the work of this department with the public force, the city has recorded a reduction of more than 40% in homicides.

The contribution to total peace

Already at the beginning of its activities in September 2020, the Non-Violence Secretariat began to show results. In 2022, thanks to the entity, the Mayor’s Office of Medellín managed to make victims, peace signatories, boys, girls, adolescents and young people the main protagonists of peace building and creators of common spaces, which was previously thought unlikely.

This was achieved through attention to the victims of the armed conflict, and with opportunities and training for peace signatories; with prevention of the involvement of adolescents and young people in organized crime, with the Partners Program; and with training in a culture of peace for boys and girls; also with the implementation of actions with a sense of reparation between victims, community and those responsible.

“The Non-Violence Secretariat is delivering for society and the community organizations with which we interact every day. This work is reflected in the advances in the structuring of the Public Peace Policy for Medellín that has been done in a participatory manner. Also, there is an increase in coverage and in the participation of different populations in various processes,” according to the Secretary of Non-Violence, Cristian Aguirre.

In addition, the implementation strategy of the Peace Agreement was developed, based on the signing of the Agreement with the Special Justice for Peace (JEP) and the recognition of the peace agenda with a restorative approach built by the Collective Memories Process and Territorial Peace in Manrique.

Promotion of employment and entrepreneurship

An economic autonomy strategy was consolidated through employment training processes, composed of eleven courses that impacted approximately 220 people in developing skills and competencies for the populations that are part of the agency’s programs.

Also, support was provided for employability, which has allowed 963 people to get into the job market, 838 of them have been victims of the armed conflict, that is, about 87% of the beneficiaries are victims.

141 enterprises were impacted with the program to strengthen the productive units of victims, with $199 million. And, finally, there is the “Made in Peace” strategy that has been part of 12 city fairs and has generated sales of $228 million in events such as the Flower Fair, the Book Festival, the Month for Peace, the Days of Non-Violence, and Football for Life and Peace.

Accompaniment to victims of the conflict

Among the milestones achieved with the victims of the conflict is the resumption of the search for people reported missing in La Escombrera (commune 13), which could be carried out after seven years of having been suspended.

This work, coordinated with the Search Unit for Persons Reported Missing, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and victims’ organizations, involved a budget of more than $468 million. Another milestone is the delivery of basic income to 7,777 victims of the armed conflict, settled in the city.

In relation to reincorporation and reintegration into social and economic life, the Non-Violence Secretariat has accompanied 610 ex-combatants to enable their access to the offer of employability and entrepreneurship.

In addition, during 2022, productive projects were strengthened and awareness workshops were held with the business sector to promote inclusion and non-stigmatization. In addition, the route of economic reintegration of the signatories of the Peace Agreement was supported and disseminated from the line of action “Community productive development” with professional and technical support for 34 productive units.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Question related to this article:

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

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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To transform territories and enable peaceful forms of conflict resolution, 4,695 boys, girls, adolescents and young people were trained in peacebuilding by the Schools of Non-Violence, which worked from art, culture and territorial peace based on processes of memory, truth, restorative justice and humanization of conflicts.

“Within our strategies against organized crime and common crime, at the head of the Prosecutor’s Office, the crime of instrumentalization of minors is being charged to those leaders and members of all these criminal organizations who are using or using minors for their misdeeds. . Thus, all the ringleaders have charges in this crime,” said the Secretary of Security and Coexistence, José Gerardo Acevedo.

Through the Partners strategy, 1,443 adolescents and young people were reached with training processes in life skills, construction of territorial peace and strengthening of their life projects. With this, 135 young people were linked to educational, entrepreneurship and employability activities.

In addition, the District developed a tool to analyze the status of the children and adolescents, at the beginning and at the end of their participation in the project, which made it possible to know their impact and generate knowledge about the prevention of instrumentalization or recruitment by illegal armed actors in the city.

In the Youth Public Health and Youth Habitat programs, with more than 1,000 young beneficiaries, the agenda was aligned with key issues for the peace of the country, such as the solution to the drug problem, peace agreements and post-agreements, and the Agreement from Escazú, among others.

And through the Conscious Consumption strategy, a commitment was made to the decriminalization of substance users, and with the Seres del Agua and Medellín en la Cabeza projects, reflection was made on the protection of the environment and those who safeguard it.

Schools of Non-Violence

Another of the secretary’s strategies was the creation of the Schools of Non-Violence through which a process is developed that seeks to transform the lives of boys, girls, young people and adolescents by training them through art and culture to build peace in their territories, in addition to showing them forms of resistance and humanization of conflicts in the face of violence.

The main allies to be able to bring this offer to different communes and townships of Medellín are the social organizations that in each territory work to remember, seek the truth, and be symbols of resilience and resistance against violence with art and culture to transform realities. .

Ana María Hoyos, 24 years old, is a trainer of the Schools of Non-Violence and is part of the Robledo Venga Parchemos Corporation, an organization that has been developing processes for the construction of peace and memory through art for a long time. . Among the processes carried out in the corporation is the incubator of aerial acrobatics in fabrics, in which Ana is one of the promoters through theater and circus processes, and with which they are also linked to the Schools of Non-Violence , relating these artistic activities to the processing and humanization of conflicts for the construction of peace.

“In 2015 we were established as a corporation and this was born from the gathering in the territory of young artists who met in other spaces in the city and due to the very complex and violent dynamics of the territory they did not meet in the same neighborhood. They saw in the Robledo Venga Parchemos Corporation the possibility of being recognized and validated from other perspectives; and so they found a new way of inhabiting public space by filling it with art,” says Ana María.

In the Corporation they started with cultural spaces and from this two events emerged that are the most representative. The first most emblematic event of all was an Artistic and Cultural Lunada, which revolves around sitting in a park to share a chocolate, to make music, that is, to make a cultural take, which little by little evolved and became a cultural march through the neighborhood.

Ana María tells how her proposal has evolved. “Little by little ‘La Lunada’ was transformed until it reached the open-air theater in La Batea park, which is where it is currently performed. This was before a place of consumption and fights, and ‘La Lunada’ came to redefine this space to fill it.

The second event was the Circo al Puente, which was born from the intention of holding an artistic exhibition of the aerial acrobatics. ‘”This process began on the Bridge between Robledo Aures and Villa Sofía, which was previously an invisible border and we turned it into a space where we could practice aerial acrobatics. Thus we began to transform another space that had been violent, to fill it with art and redefine it,” said Ana María.

The Robledo Venga Parchemos Corporation projects itself and shares its knowledge in the territory with the boys, girls, adolescents and young people who are part of its group. It has transformed the neighborhood, giving new meaning to the territories and appropriating public space to fill it with culture.

This process has been strengthened by the Schools of Non-Violence, since they have not only been linked as a school, but they themselves are constantly in training to continue acquiring various knowledge and taking it to their training. Diploma courses and collaborators are some of these spaces to remember, share knowledge and experiences.

The Non-Violence policy of the District Mayor’s Office continues to work hand in hand with the social organizations that have committed to the processes of peace construction, resignification of the territories, building memory and searching for the truth, to continue impacting and transforming processes through art and culture and in this way be closer and closer to that peaceful future of Medellín.

Feasibility Proposal for the Creation of a Ministry of Peace for Colombia

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

By the Latin American and the Caribbean Chapter of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace

Fulfilling its objective of supporting the development of Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace in the world, the Latin American and the Caribbean Chapter of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace (GAMIP LAC) delivered the Proposal for the feasibility of the creation of a Ministry of Peace in Colombia. Presented at the Congress of the Republic in a Public Hearing on Thursday, November 9th in the Luis Guillermo Velez Hall with the presence of all political parties, House of Representatives and Senators – as well as members of the Executive Branch of the Nation and delegations from civil society, the document is now published (At this moment, the publication is only available in Spanish). It is the first time in the international history of the construction of Ministries of Peace that a Non-Governmental Organization has taken this initiative.

Read the Feasibility Proposal (in Spanish)

Executive Summary of the Feasibility Proposal for the Creation of a Ministry of Peace in Colombia

This analysis for a Ministry of Peace proposal in the Republic of Colombia is authored by a Colombian and international team of experts in the field of peacebuilding. The group respectfully presents to Congress the key lessons learned from a legislative study on the feasibility of establishing a Ministry of Peace (MPC) in Colombia, based on similar experiences in other countries. The aim is to support the vision of the Republic of Colombia in striving to build, consolidate, and maintain sustainable peace for future generations.

The methodology involved studying, analyzing, and outlining lessons learned potentially beneficial for the creation of a MINISTRY OF PEACE in Colombia, as stated in the FINAL REPORT OF THE TRUTH COMMISSION – CEV during its public presentation to the elected President of the Republic, Gustavo Petro, and the country on June 28, 2022. The team included a select group of Colombian and international advisory consultants, academics, and leaders from International Organizations with extensive knowledge, experience, and training in peacebuilding theory and conflict resolution implementation. They hail from Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Canada. Their areas of expertise include Education for Peace, Citizenship and Democracy; Political Science; Economics; Human Rights Practice; Defense; International Cooperation; Communications; Sociology; Constitutional Law; and Professionalism for Peace.

The resulting document is based on international research and focuses on Colombia’s declared needs to establish a Ministry of Peace, as well as the Recommendation cited from the Final Report of the Truth Commission – CEV. This proposal considered as fundamental elements of analysis and background:

The history of Ministries of Peace (MOPs) in the international community and supporting UN resolutions of which Colombia is a signatory (especially UN resolution 53/243 on the Action Program for a Culture of Peace).

The recommendations of the Truth Commission (June 2022), including the Colombian government’s political will to build Peace (particularly the enunciation of the concept of “Total Peace” by the current government); Colombia’s existing long-standing efforts towards peacebuilding and existing practices in this field that have demonstrated efficiency in their development and application in some territories.

The current research in the country on the sufficient and urgent conditions to achieve peace and advance an MPC, such as: the readiness and willingness of the majority of the parties involved in the armed conflict and widespread violence to seek peace as a priority; collective awareness of the need for healing, reconciliation, and addressing traumas and other social issues; the political will to invoke change and solutions with a reasonable chance of success for peaceful coexistence; and the intention for all involved parties to work together, with perspectives of progressing towards peace, reconciliation, and human security in all its aspects.

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(Click here for the announcment in Spanish.)

Question related to this article:

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

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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Key Lessons Learned to Consider in the Planning and Implementation of the Following Proposal

Develop:

° Capacities and authorities with sufficient funding for leadership and sustainability to address national peace issues and act as an effective catalyst to amplify ministerial, departmental, municipal, and civil society initiatives;

° Sustainable capacities for future generations at national, state, and municipal levels;

° Capacities to drive and coordinate the consolidation of peace as an organizing principle of society;

° Coherent outcomes with the creation of a positive peace culture that fosters well-being and harmony, and capacities to constructively address conflicts or violence;

° Capacities to build and strengthen a national architecture of peace, peace education, and peace practices.

Pay due attention to:

° The sustainability of this proposal with sensitivity to UN resolutions and building a culture of peace;

° Avoiding the trap of a single-focus approach – Ministries of Peace (MdP) that have focused on specific conflict outcomes risk being marginalized or dissolved once the single-focus mandate is deemed achieved or primary goals reach manageable levels (e.g., the case of Nepal). Instead, a broad peace consolidation mandate should be built on sustainable foundations to address issues affecting peace, such as peace education, gender, racism, violence, crime, human rights, poverty, environmental concerns, and biases;

° Encouraging broad participation, inclusion, ownership, and accountability by strengthening and accommodating existing peace-related functions already assigned to other Colombian ministries and institutions, including at the departmental and municipal levels, as well as in civil society;

° Considering existing peace services, such as ministerial peace managers and Total Peace initiatives to establish peace promoters;

° Prioritizing and integrating peace education at all levels of Colombian educational curricula;

° Building an inclusive Colombian peace architecture involving citizen peace practices, community-level capacities, and peace professionals, as well as qualified peace professionals at all levels;

° Instituting strong monitoring, research, and advisory functions on peace at the highest levels of government;

° Prioritizing and addressing national needs for peace consolidation, considering existing Peace Agreements, the Havana Peace Agreement (November 2016), and the Truth Commission Report (June 2022), maintaining good governance, and addressing social needs such as human rights, violence prevention, gender equality, land-related issues, and environmental considerations;

° Building strong relationships with state security providers, police, and army. Developing with them principles, methods, and strategies of peace education, peace skills and practices, and a culture that prioritizes “peaceful means” of professional intervention.

Leveraging Existing Strategic Ministerial Tools, such as:

A National Peace Development Plan within the National Development Plan, to reinforce the commitment and responsibility of peace officers and peace committees at ministerial, departmental, and city levels, as well as peace development plans, peace tables or committees at ministerial, departmental, and city levels, and by civil society;

A National Peace Program, which includes (1) service provision and operations to address priorities in peace education, ethics, gender equality, reconciliation, health, environment, justice, racism, extremism, and human rights; (2) a framework for effective, inclusive, and participatory communication, support, and reporting: (a) to the President, Congress, and Ministries for advisory, oversight, research, and peace operations functions, as well as for education, outreach, and international and UN coordination; (b) to all Ministries through established peace officers, peace committees, and Ministerial Peace Development Plans to reinforce their individual contributions within the national strategic context; (c) to departments, communities, cities, NGOs, and citizens to support, establish, catalyze, and formalize peace networks in society, federal commissions, NGOs, peace groups, and universities.

Path Forward

We believe that the timing and conditions are extremely favorable for establishing a Ministry of Peace that can make a real difference for all Colombians. The political will of Congress and the President is commendable and sets an example for the international community that Colombia can be proud of.

We understand that the journey through Congress, up to the approval of a Ministry of Peace, its mandate, and eventual implementation, will be complex, a legislative and political learning experience with which we are willing to collaborate, support, and strengthen if considered necessary and useful for the process.

We request your review, opinions, and contributions to improve this report and proposal.

If you have any comments or proposals, please refer to comunicaciones@gamipalc.org

Mexico: XIX World Congress and XXIII National Mediation Congress 2023

. EDUCATION FOR PEACE ..

An article from Noticias de Queretaro

The Nineteenth World Congress and the Twenty-Third National Mediation Congress 2023 closed with great success. It took place from November 6 to 10 in the Municipality of Querétaro with participants from more than 10 countries, and with activities, analysis, study and dissemination of mediation issues, as well as the culture of peace for the benefit of the people of Queretaro.

Under the motto “A Life for Peace and Concord”, 83 academic activities were carried out, including 31 presentations, 18 conferences, eight book presentations, 11 successful projects, eight dialectical analysis forums and philosophical dialogues, and 27 workshops.

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Questions for this article:

Is there progress towards a culture of peace in Mexico?

Mediation as a tool for nonviolence and culture of peace

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Specialists from different parts of Mexico and other countries including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Portugal, and Spain combined efforts to carry out the project for the implementation and dissemination of mediation and the culture of peace.

This international event sparked the interest of participants from 20 states in the Mexico, including Jalisco, Yucatán, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, Baja California, Chiapas, Mexico City, State of Mexico, Sonora, Sinaloa, Nuevo León, Puebla, Guerrero, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes and Quintana Roo. They met at the Educational and Cultural Center of the State of Querétaro, “Manuel Gómez Morín”, the Arts Center of the State of Querétaro.

It is worth highlighting the great participation and interest in all activities, both by specialists and by attendees. Attendees included students and schools at the high school and professional level of Mexico and more than 1,300 congressmen during the five days of the event which closed with important conclusions that will be translated into actions and public policies that will promote the peace and harmony that citizens need.

(Click here for the Spanish original of this article)

2 October: 3rd World March for Peace and Nonviolence officially launched in the Spanish Congress of Deputies

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An article from Pressenza

The 3rd World March for Peace and Nonviolence was officially presented at the Congress of Deputies of Spain in Madrid on 2 October, International Day of Nonviolence, in the magnificent Ernest Lluch hall.


Presentation of the 3rd World March for Peace and Nonviolence. Congress of Deputies. 2 oct 2023 (Image by Pepi Muñoz and Juan Carlos Marín)

The event had a total attendance of about 100 people (most of them in person and others online), including some members of parliament and several representatives of related groups. María Victoria Caro Bernal, honorary president of the Association of Rhetoric and Eloquence of the Ateneo de Madrid, director of the International Festival of Poetry and Art Grito de mujer, who acted as master of ceremony, first read the communiqué sent by Federico Mayor Zaragoza, president of the Culture of Peace Function and former director of UNESCO, who had not been able to attend in person: “The time for confrontation, for force, is over… it is now time to act in favour of the peoples, we must stop being impassive spectators and become active citizens…”.

Rafael de la Rubia, promoter of the previous World Marches for Peace and Nonviolence and founder of the humanist association World Without Wars and Without Violence, reviewed the previous marches and commented on the main lines and the main circuit of the 3rd WM which will begin in a year’s time on the same date in Costa Rica. He emphasised the feat and the ethical value of developing a project of this magnitude without funding or sponsors of any kind.

Martine Sicard of MSG France then intervened to comment on how delicate it was going to be to specify the Africa route because of the current instability in several areas of the continent, but that we could count on the best of its people and its cultures to enhance initiatives already underway; this was completed with a video sent by N’diaga Diallo from Senegal.

It was then connected live to the Legislative Assembly in San José, Costa Rica, where Giovanny Blanco of World without Wars and without Violence and coordinator of the 3rd WM in Costa Rica, was presenting the March in front of an enthusiastic and committed audience to ensure its start from the University for Peace, a UN dependent university where there are students of 100 nationalities. They will walk more than 22 km to the Plaza de la Abolición del Ejercito in San José.

(Click here for a version of this article in Spanish)

Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

Carlos Umaña, co-president of IPPNW, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recalled the importance that the March can have in continuing to raise awareness of the danger of nuclear weapons, alluding to the current position of the atomic clock, and invited people to watch Pressenza’s documentary, The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons, to encourage a paradigm shift regarding their use.

Marco Inglessis from Energia per i diritti umani intervened live from Rome-Italy, shared some projects already underway in Europe, in particular Italy, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovenia, France and Austria, among others, as well as the campaign Mediterranean, sea of peace, and highlighted the importance of educational work and the participation of the new generations.

Lizett Vásquez from Mexico, commented on the Mesoamerican and North American route. She pointed out that it would pass through different countries: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the USA, where activities had already taken place in previous marches. The aim is also to arrange an interview at the United Nations at the highest possible level.

Cecilia Flores from Chile gave a sketch of what could be the route of the March in its South American part and the important spiritual role that the Parks of Study and Reflection in the area could contribute to it. In general, it would enter through Argentina-Brazil and the two possible Atlantic and non-violent corridors are still to be defined, going up to Panama to finish on 5 January in Costa Rica.

The video of the intervention of Madathil Pradeepan from India was broadcast, claiming Gandhi’s legacy as a responsibility it to make his legacy his own once again and to involve the whole of Asia in this next march. The Asian route that will finally take place remains to be defined. New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India are the places through which previous marches have passed.

Jesús Arguedas, as spokesperson for MSGySV Spain, recalled that it was from Madrid that the first and second Marches were conceived and committed himself to promoting various initiatives at the Spanish level in both cultural and educational ambits, inviting everyone to make their own contribution.

Next, Rafael Egido Perez, sociologist, councillor for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and secretary of the association Cuidadores de personas called for respect for human rights, in particular those of the elderly, migrants and women.

At the end of the event, spokespersons from various groups were invited to briefly present their field of action and their commitment to causes such as the defence of women, migrants and the environment, all of which will, of course, have a place in the March. And there were also several poetic interventions in homage to Gandhi, since 2 October has been designated as the International Day of Nonviolence precisely because it is the anniversary of his birth.

You can watch the whole event on the Congress TV channel

In final declaration, G77 rejects “digital monopolies” and calls for “reform” of the financial system

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Gabriel Vera Lopez from the Peoples Dispatch

In the final declaration, the G77+China Summit highlighted the importance of technology for development, the impacts of climate change, and called for a reform of the international economic system. The event ended on Saturday September 16 in Havana, the capital of Cuba, and was attended by heads of state from Latin America, Africa, and Asia including Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Colombian President Gustavo Petro, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and diplomats and delegations from more than 100 countries.


Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the host and president of the G77+ group, addresses the summit. Photo: Presidencia Cuba

“We stress the urgent need for a comprehensive reform of the international financial architecture and a more inclusive and coordinated approach to global financial governance, with greater emphasis on cooperation between countries, notably by increasing the representation of developing countries in global decision-making and policy-making bodies that will contribute to increasing the capacities of developing countries to access and develop science, technology and innovation,” says the Havana Declaration.

The summit’s final declaration also criticizes “digital monopolies” and “other unfair practices that hinder the technological development of developing countries”.

The text also attacks “sanctions” and “coercive economic actions” against developing countries. “We emphasize that such actions not only undermine the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and international law, but also seriously impede the advancement of science, technology and innovation and the full realization of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.”

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel stressed at the opening of the summit on Friday September 16 that one of the aims of the event was to seek common positions so that the countries of the Global South could take their demands to other international forums. On the same day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out that “global systems and structures have failed” the countries of the Global South.

President Lula on Saturday September 16 criticized the sanctions imposed by the United States against Cuba, defended the reformulation of the global governance system and also questioned technology companies. 

“It is particularly significant that, at this time of great geopolitical transformations, this summit is being held here in Havana. Cuba has been an advocate of fairer global governance and is even the victim of an illegal economic embargo. Brazil is against any unilateral coercive measure. We reject Cuba’s inclusion on the list of states that sponsor terrorism,” said the Brazilian head of state.

“The South can no longer bear the dead weight of all the misfortunes”

The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77 (G77) and China began on Friday September 15. The opening ceremony was preceded by an excerpt from Fidel Castro’s speech at the “first Summit of the South”, held in 2000, also in Cuba. The opening speeches were then given by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres.

At the start of his inaugural speech, the Cuban president emphasized the importance of the group, which currently has 134 members: “Today we are two-thirds of the UN’s members, home to 80% of the world’s population,” he said.

Díaz-Canel also paid tribute to former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, recalling that he used to say that “we presidents go from summit to summit, while the peoples go from abyss to abyss.” He called for joint efforts to coordinate joint actions between the countries of the global South in order to “change the rules of the game” and achieve the “pending democratization of the system of international relations”.

“It is the peoples of the South who suffer most from poverty, hunger, misery, deaths from curable diseases, illiteracy, human displacement and other consequences of underdevelopment,” said Díaz-Canel. He described the international economic order as “unjust and ecologically unsustainable”.

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Question related to this article:

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

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He also said that “this will be an austere summit”, since in Cuba “we lack many things, but we have an abundance of feelings of friendship, solidarity and fraternity.” He denounced the fact that “Cuba is literally surrounded by a blockade that has lasted six decades and all the difficulties that derive from this siege, which has now been reinforced.” He stressed that Cuba “is not the only one suffering from this unjust world order.”

Describing the global situation, the Cuban president said that “We are traveling on the same ship, even if some are the passengers and others the servants. The only way for this world ship not to end up like the ‘Titanic’ is through collaboration.”

Díaz-Canel questioned the international patent system and made a special complaint about international military spending and the irrationality of the fact that these resources cannot be used to improve the living conditions of the majority.

“Estimates indicate that 9% of world military spending could finance adaptation to climate change in 10 years, and 7% would be enough to cover the cost of universal vaccination against the pandemic,” he estimated.

In the opening speech of UN Secretary General Guterres, he started by saying that the countries of the Global South are “caught in a web of global crises”.

“Poverty is increasing and hunger is growing. Prices are rising, debt is exorbitant and climate disasters are becoming more frequent,” said Guterres. “Global systems and structures have failed them,” adding that “the conclusion is clear: the world is failing developing countries.”

The UN Secretary-General noted that in recent decades, the G77 countries and China “have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and have come together in the United Nations in search of global solutions and solidarity.”

“To change this, we need action at the national level to ensure good governance, mobilize resources, and prioritize sustainable development. And we need action at the global level that respects national ownership, with the aim of building an international system that defends human rights and looks after the common interest,” he said.

In this sense, Guterres recognized that “many current global institutions reflect a bygone era.” He highlighted the need to update the UN Security Council, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Importance of the Summit

The summit takes place a few days before the opening of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday September 19. It is hoped that the countries meeting in Havana will be able to agree on common positions to be defended at the assembly.

Although the UN General Assembly does not have a binding character that obliges member countries to adopt its declarations, several experts emphasize the importance of the 134 countries that currently make up the G77 + China coordinating joint positions as a way of putting pressure on the most powerful countries.

Claudia Marin, from Cuba’s International Policy Research Center, noted that “many of the countries that make up the G77 + China have gained enormous international weight in the last two decades, as in the case of those that make up the BRICS, and this means that the countries of the Global South as a whole have greater weight in their demands.”

However, Marin stressed in an interview with Brasil de Fato that “it will only be possible to build a fairer international system if the weight of these emerging countries can be articulated with the number of countries from the Global South through a greater degree of South-South collaboration”.

Diplomatic victory against the blockade

The G77 Summit of Heads of State and Government is being held in Cuba just days after US President Joe Biden extended the law regulating the blockade against Cuba for another year. A ritual that both Democrats and Republicans have been repeating year after year for more than six decades. Cuba is currently the only state subject to US trade restrictions under the Trading with the Enemy Act, although it is not the only one to suffer unilateral sanctions from Washington.

Every year since 1992, Cuba has presented a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly on the need to suspend the US blockade. Since then, the majority of member states have always voted in favor of the document. This year, the vote is expected to be repeated.

According to several experts, the fact that delegations from all over the world have arrived in Havana to take part in the summit demonstrates the enormous diplomatic capacity that Cuba has managed to build.

(Editor’s note: From various Internet sources, it seems that heads of state at the Havana Conference included those of Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Comores, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, as well as the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, Malaysia, Mexico, Saint Kitts and South Africa and the special representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping.)

UN-AUSC Youth Forum: The Role of Young People in the 13Th African Games

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

Excerpts from an announcement from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

DRAFT CONCEPT NOTE

BACKGROUND

. . . The United Nations acknowledges the value of the youth in peacebuilding through the development of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018), and 2535 (2020) on Youth, Peace, and Security that called upon the United Nations (UN) entities and Member States to improve capacity-building by integrating the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda into their technical assistance plans. Also, the African Youth Charter recognizes that “youth are partners, assets and prerequisite for sustainable peace and prosperity of Africa with a unique contribution to make to the present and future development.”

Through unique engagement, such as sports, the youth have led and sustained peacebuilding and development conversations across societies. Sports have historically played a significant role in disseminating positive values worldwide and across civilizations and cultures, thus making it a powerful vector for developing efforts to promote peace and prevent and counter violent extremism. . . .

PROPOSAL

The Global Sports Programme will organize a Youth Forum on the role of young people in the upcoming 13th Edition of the African Games (Accra, Ghana, set to commence in March 2024) in partnership with the AUSC, which oversees the coordination and organization of the African Games—building on the power of sport to promote increased youth participation in the organization of major sporting events. Other partners are the 13th African Games Local Organising Committee (LOC) which comprises key Ghanaian stakeholders, the Ghana National Peace Council which is responsible for implementing the National PVE Strategy, and the UN Country Team.

OBJECTIVES

Raise awareness of integrating youth in major sporting events, particularly from an African perspective.

Establish a dialogue between youth and decision-makers about the power of sports and major sporting events to prevent violent extremism, showcasing unique youth approaches, including those targeting the vulnerable youth population.

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Questions for this article:

How can sports promote peace?

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● Encourage more investment and support towards youth-led sport-based PVE initiatives and increased youth participation in major sporting events.

● Concrete guidelines on the greater inclusion of young people in PVE-based activities within the context of a major sporting event.

TIME AND PLACE

• 21-22 November 2023 (2 days) in Accra, Ghana

FORMAT

● We count on the participation of approx. 15 African civil society leaders between 18 and 35 years old and involved in major sporting events, decision-making, and/or sport for PVE. ● This Forum will feature ‘safe and brave spaces,’ working groups, presentations, etc.

● The young people will have the opportunity to go into dialogue with the organizers of the upcoming 13th African Games, including the AUSC and the LOC, as well as other PVE-through-sport/sport for peace stakeholders, including civil society organizations and the UN.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

● Raised awareness of the role and significance of sport in PVE. ● Inclusion of strategies for PVE interventions while organizing major sporting events and its integration into NAPs.

● Compiled recommendations on integrating young people in organizing major sporting events and related sport-for-PVE initiatives.

SELECTION OF PARTICIPANTS

● Due to limited slots, participants will be subjected to a selection process that will consider the relevance of their application, their experience, the motivation and interest demonstrated, as well as their potential contribution to the discussions. To the extent possible, the selection committee will balance age, gender, and diversity of backgrounds (cultural, educational, professional) among selected participants.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

● Age: 18-35 years of age

● Region: African Union Member States

● Interest in themes: the applicant demonstrates some experience and knowledge (or a great interest in getting involved) in issues related to PVE (through sport), the organization of major sporting events, sport for development and peace, and/or meaningful youth engagement.

● Future impact and follow-up: the applicant expresses a strong commitment to further engage on the topics and has the ability to consult with and reach a wider group of young people, audiences, or networks, including leading initiatives at the grassroots and community levels.

● Experience and potential: experience in the development of policies and guidelines and advocacy in PVE.