Government Initiatives Report

REPORT TO THE WORLD PEACE FORUM FROM THE WORKING GROUP FOR GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES

The Working Group for Government Initiatives, under the banner of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace (MfP/DoPs) http://www.globalallianceforministriesanddepartmentsofpeace.org/, presented a International Panel of Parliamentarians Supporting Departments of Peace, on June 25, followed by a series of 5 workshops on moving towards departments of peace. The panel featured Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Marianne Williamson, moderator, of the Peace Alliance, the home of the US Department of Peace campaign, the most advanced of these initiatives, and 7 other panelists from Canada, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Liberia, Solomon Islands and the Netherlands. The Hon. Dr. Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, MLC, represented Australia, and the Hon. Shokichi Kina, MP, Japan, was represented by a member of Japan United for a Ministry of Peace (JUMP). The audience was fascinated to learn that both the Solomon Islands and the Philippines have already created prototype departments of peace, in advance of developed countries.

An overflow audience was very enthusiastic and supportive of the concept of departments of peace. Congressman Kucinich said that, ‘peace is practical and war is impractical [and] we must put this knowingness into a structure for peace,” a department of peace and non-violence. Each panelist, in their way, emphasized the need for such departments and the role of civil society in both creating and being an integral part of them. Senator Douglas Roche’s presentation stated that, “ a system of departments of peace in all nations, meeting on a regular basis, not just in crises, with a mandate to develop a culture of peace and non-violence… could have a dramatic effect on achieving such an outcome. Most importantly, it would serve as a vehicle for conflict prevention and the early detection of conflict before escalation occurs.”

Finally, Paul van Tongeren, Executive Director, International Secretariat, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), an organization consisting of 15 regional groupings around the world, called for the strengthening of the links between   the UN, national governments and civil society to move forward together to achieve our mutual peacebuilding goals. In particular he stressed the value of global networks of civil society organizations like GPPAC working together in mutual support.

Each of the 5 workshops that followed the panel were well-attended, and spanned a broad range of topics related to creating a department of peace. These included: embracing youth in this work; departments of peace as an evolutionary development; what MfP/DoPs would do and how they would change the way governments function; exploring best practices in conflict transformation, and; building an architecture of peace and peace as a profession.

Although no resolutions were intended to come out of these events, a noticeable groundswell of support was evident from both the panel and the workshops with many new people recruited, especially in Canada, to work towards our goal.

A companion invitational event, the Second People’s Summit for Ministries and Departments of Peace, was held at Royal Roads University, in Victoria, Canada, on June 21, 22, preceding the Forum, with 60 participants from 20 country delegations in attendance. This event was also sponsored by the Global Initiative for Ministries and Departments of Peace and hosted by the Canadian Working Group for a Federal Department of Peace. In its communiqué, read at the Forum and circulated around the world, the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace called upon governments of the world and civil society organisations everywhere to:

· Develop necessary resources and infrastructure for resolving conflicts effectively by peaceful means

· Establish, train and develop civil peace services and the human resources and capacities for peacebuilding and conflict transformation

· Incorporate conflict resolution and peacebuilding into school curricula from primary schools through university

· Actively engage youth, women, and all communities to participate as equals in peacebuilding, to ensure participation and representation of all

· Support and encourage coordinated efforts to gather lessons learned and best practices from peacebuilding experiences around the world.

Plans are already underway for the Third People’s Summit to be held in 2007 in Japan. A global movement for ministries and departments of peace is rapidly building and the Victoria Summit and the World Peace Forum have been critical to this development.

Submitted by:

Dr. Saul Arbess, Coordinator,
Working Group for Government Initiatives