Building Peace and Reconciliation through the Creation of the Ministry of Peace
42nd UN Human Rights Council on Ministry of Peace[i] – Geneva 20 Sep 2019
On 19 Sep 2019 the Association Pope John XXIII of Rimini together with the embassy of the Republic of San Marino organized a panel as a side event to the 42ND Regular Session of Human Rights Council in Geneva: “Building Peace and reconciliation through the creation of a Ministry of Peace”.
The APG23 is a great NGO born in the time of Yugoslavia war, when some conscientious objectors performing their civilian service inside the family-houses of the Association decided to intervene inside the war for sharing the life of the people and thus to give hopes for peace. After this intervention, which caused a new Italian law for the conscientious objectors, APG23 intervened worldwide, Palestine, Chapas, Colombia, etc. At present it is the Association for civilian service whose appropriate projects of intervention for peace are financed by the Italian State according to the law of 2013 promoting an experiment of this kind of intervention (Corpi Civili di Pace).
Last year both APG23 and Permanent Mission of San Marino launched in a specific event in Geneva the proposal of a Ministry of Peace in each State. This year the event was reiterated with the co-sponsoring of Rappresentanza Permanente d’Italia, Saint Seige, Costa Rica, University of Peace of Costa Rica, Human Rights Center A. Papisca of Padua University and its UNESCO Chair “Human Rights, Democracy and Peace”, IFOR, Caritas Internationalis. Ambassadors of six Countries attended the event, beyond a remarkable number of persons and NGOs.
I would like to thank the Permanent Mission of San Marino and Associazione Papa Giovanni 23 for organizing this event on the implementation of the Right to Peace[ii] and for inviting the International Fellowship of Reconciliation[iii] (IFOR) to contribute.
I will present some considerations on this issue and a brief overview of existing peace ministries and alike initiatives.
The other distinguished speakers have clearly explained that the Ministry of Peace can be a valuable concrete tool to implement the Right to Peace.
As stated in the Declaration on the Right to Peace and more recently during the last session of the Council[iv], peace is not only the absence of conflict or the opposite of war. This Right is a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights.
Human rights and peace are strongly connected and mutually reinforcing. Art 28 of the Declaration of Human Rights details that every person is intitled to a social and international order where the human rights therein proclaimed can be fully realized.
The proclamation of the International Day of Peace, September 21st, and the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence[v], have been cornerstones in the path towards the recognition of the Right to Peace.
As we talk about peace we need to refer to a Culture of Peace. A radical switch is required, from a Culture of violence -we are all aware of!-, to a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence.
We can’t achieve peace, lasting peace, through war.
Peace is the goal and nonviolence is the path, as repeatedly outlines Alain Richard, a dear friend, a French Franciscan brother -founder of the circles of silence-[vi].
Peace itself includes different elements, different aspects and areas of individual and society’s life, as already mentioned in the Plan of Action for the 2001-2010 UN Decade on a Culture of Peace.
Some of these are: Solidarity, Dialogue, Education, democratic participation, sustainable economic and social development, human rights, gender equality, security, free exchange of information and knowledge.
Disarmament is, as well, a key element for peace, meaning to end the production and arms trade and their use as a deterrent.
IFOR has just stated at this Human Rights Council, that If the right to life is violated, no other rights can be exercised and moreover that the Right to Life should include as its application at the individual level, the right to refuse to kill exercised for instance by conscientious objectors to military service.
We are talking about a dynamic participatory process of change.
This process towards a Culture of Peace takes time and further efforts because it involves different levels of society and it implies the transformation, often radical, of customs, traditions and norms consolidated over time.
The spiral of violence has to be interrupted and reconciliation is the essential process to heal individuals, communities and societies.
Peace needs to be planned and organized at least as much as war is precisely organized. Giovanni Salio, an Italian peace researcher, a dear member of MIR Italia who passed away a couple of years ago, and president of the Centro Studi Sereno Regis[vii] based in Torino, used to stress the importance of investing resources on peace, and have a structured approach to its implementation. He used to point out that there are military training centres, ministries to prepare for war and officials and there is nothing comparable for the realization of peace.
Infrastructures of peace are vital and all actors of society should be involved; from individuals and family unit, to teachers, religious groups, artists, representatives of institutions, media and so on.
If we want peace we need to prepare for it, we need to educate to peace and to fund peace.
Governments have an essential role to play in promoting and strengthening a culture of peace and civil society needs to be fully involved to achieve its full development.
Last year APG 23 issued a publication and launched here, during the Human Rights Council, a calling on ministries of peace all around the world.
We already heard an example of implementation by San Marino. I’ll now mention some others:
- Costa Rica
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE AND PEACE[viii]: through the 2009 reform of the Organic Law on the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry was renamed as “Ministry of Justice and Peace” and its structure, mission and tasks were transformed.
- South Sudan
MINISTRY OF PEACE AND CPA[ix] IMPLEMENTATION[x]: it was established in July 2011 to assist the government in setting peace policies after the independence and coordinating all programs of peace and conflict prevention.
- Solomon Islands
MINISTER FOR NATIONAL UNITY, RECONCILIATION AND PEACE[xi]: it was established after the conclusion of the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) in 2000 for facilitating the peace process and creating condition for living again in peace after the 1998- 2003 civilian armed conflict.
MINISTRY OF PEACE AND RECONSTRUCTION[xii]: it was established in April 2007 after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and it has the responsibility to ensure peace and security.
It is relevant to notice that the majority of these Ministries have been created to accompany a peace process and moreover that the experience of Costa Rica plainly combines Peace and Justice.
Hildegard Goss-Mayr, honorary president of IFOR, clearly explained that “a reconciliation is true if it happens on the basis of truth and justice; truth meaning the recognition of the facts and justice the recognition of rights[xiii].
Around the world civil society campaigns for the Right to Life and the Ministry of Peace; efforts are put in place and several initiatives are undertaken.
In 2017 Associazione Papa Giovanni XXIII has launched together with other organizations the Italian Campaign for the Ministry of Peace to create a new national system for the promotion of peace.
MIR Italia[xiv], the Italian branch of IFOR, has joined this Campaign for a Ministry of Peace[xv] which should, in collaboration with other ministries and bodies within state administrations identify coordinated national actions and finally implement a structural policy for peace.
This new Minister, aimed to be a concrete, transversal and subsidiary instrument, would have competence over:
Promotion of peace policies for the construction and diffusion of a culture of peace through education and research, promotion of human rights, development and national and international solidarity, intercultural dialogue, integration.
Disarmament, with the monitoring of the implementation of international agreements -let me restate the appeal to all States to ratify the UN Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons[xvi]-and promoting studies and research for the realization of the reduction of expenditure on armaments and the progressive reconversion for civil purposes of industries in the defence sector.
Non-armed and nonviolent civil defence, with particular regard to the Civil Peace Corps as nonviolent instruments of intervention of civil society, in situations of conflict and in contexts of structural and cultural violence. It is relevant to outline that there is a collateral campaign for a law proposal on a civil, Non-armed and nonviolent defence[xvii] and the proposal is pending in the Italian parliament.
Other areas of competence for the Ministry of Peace are:
- Prevention and reduction of social violence and promotion of hate-free speech.
- Implementation of education policies with respect to peace education, nonviolent conflict transformation, human rights and peacekeeping.
- Social mediation, reconciliation and restorative justice.
Looking at another continent we can mention the Campaign run by Peace Alliance to establish a U.S.A. Department of Peacebuilding[xviii], aimed to providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict.
City Council of Indianapolis passed a resolution[xix] on September 9th 2019 which proclaims Indianapolis a City of Peace in perpetuity, actively engaged, as an International City of Peace[xx], in the implementation of a culture of peace, striving to create a balance of prosperity, justice and hope that nurtures peace within the entire community through dialogue and cooperation.
There are many initiatives around the world to create infrastructures for peace.
A Ministry for Peace, on a national level, would be a concrete instrument to coordinate, strengthen and enhance all local, individual, sectoral efforts.
IFOR Japanese branch[xxi] is very active on this issue and campaigns for the implementation of the Constitution of Japan where it says that “all people of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want”.
They have even been proposing for a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Peace. Could that be an additional measure to call on States’ accountability as to the implementation of this right and to highlight the good practices already in place?
It is important to exchange on good practices and maintain a high attention on the issue. This event today has been a valuable opportunity and I thank again the organizers and participants for being here.
[i] “Building peace and reconciliation through the creation of the Ministry of Peace”. 42nd Human Right Council parallel event co-organized by Permanent Mission of San Marino and Associazione Papa Giovanni XXII; co-sponsored by Permanent Mission of Holy Sea, Permanent Mission of Italy, Permanent Mission of Costa Rica, UNESCO office at UNOG, UN University for Peace, Universita’ degli Studi di Padova (Centro per i Diritti Umani “Antonio Papisca”), Caritas International, International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), Associazione Vittorino Chizzolini.
Video streaming available at https://www.facebook.com/apg23/videos/2460608134170362/
[ii] The Declaration on Right to Peace was adopted by General Assembly on 19 December 2016 (A/RES/71/189).
[iv] Resolution A/HR/41/L.2.
[v] Resolution A/RES/53/243.
[ix] Comprehensive Peace Agreement. http://constitutionnet.org/sites/default/files/cpa-en._ocrpdf.pdf
[xiii] Goss-Mayr 2009.
[xix] City of Indianapolis, Marion County, city-county special resolution n. 31, 2019.
Zaira Zafarana – Main representative of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) at UN in Geneva and Vice president of Movimento Internazionale della Riconciliazione (MIR Italia), the Italian branch of IFOR.
Tags: Activism, Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Ministry of Peace, Nonviolence, Peace, UN, West, World
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 Oct 2019.
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