What happens after peace accords are signed

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Now that there is a ceasefire in Colombia, as described in this month’s bulletin of CPNN, the question arises whether a culture of peace can be maintained afterwards.

When I was working on the culture of peace in UNESCO, I experienced a similar situation in two countries, El Salvador and Mozambique. Both of them emerged with peace accords in the early 1990’s after civil wars comparable to that in Colombia. In both we established national culture of peace programs to maintain the peace afterwards. They were major efforts, as I will describe, but ultimately they failed. Now, twenty five years later, both El Salvador and Mozambique are once again descending into violence, verging once again on civil war.

Why did they fail?

First, consider the efforts. The program in El Salvador is described in a journal article, available on the Internet, written by the three of us who managed the program. To quote from its conclusion: the program transformed “conflict into cooperation by engaging those previously in violent conflict in the joint planning and implementation of human development projects of benefit to all. . .. [it] developed both a set of guidelines accepted by all parties to the previous violent conflict, and institutionalized these guidelines in a National Coordination Council and its Executive Committee which ensure that they are put into practice. In particular, the guidelines are being followed in the implementation of project 507/ELS/01, the production of daily radio broadcasts and non-formal education campaigns for the most needy and neglected women in the country. In the course of the working out of this project, during the period from the summer of 1994 to the present (spring of 1996) the participants, representing the government, community radio stations and nongovernmental organizations including those associated with the FMLN, have internalized the basic principles and guidelines of a culture of peace. While at first they distrusted each other to the point that UNESCO had to play the role of arbitrator and mediator, they have since learned to negotiate and arrived at the point of regular concerted decision-making. Daily radio broadcasts are now being produced which reflect the fruits of this process of dialogue, participation and concertation and which up until now have been well-produced and well-received despite time pressures and the demanding schedules of radio broadcasting. These broadcasts are carried by 24 radio stations around the country, as well as in marketplaces, and they are accompanied by the work of 64 correspondents in the various communities who monitor the broadcasts and provide information from their communities to the technical team that creates the programmes.

The radio project was only one of 20 human development projects in El Salvador that were developed by the method of concertation described above.

In Mozambique, a similar process of concertation between ex-enemies resulted in the elaboration of ten human development projects with rural women, demobilized soldiers, schools, youth, mass media, community leaders, etc.

The process worked. Hoping to develop their country, the ex-enemies could be brought together and could work together.

But the programmes did not work. The Member States of UNESCO refused to fund the projects, preferring to put their development funds into projects that they could manage themselves for political advantage (including, in some cases, corruption and exploitation).

Alvaro de Soto, who had mediated the El Salvador peace accords, warned us at the time that it could not work. As part of the accords, the US and Europe had promised to fund land reform and judicial reform in El Salvador, but afterwards they reneged and never provided the funds they had promised. By the way, the same thing happened with the peace accords that established Zimbabwe. The UK never came through with the money they promised as part of the accords, to buy land from the white farmers and distribute to the African farmers. Eventually, President Mugabe got tired of waiting and seized the land and Zimbabwe was punished by international sanctions.

In general, we came to realize that the powerful Member States of the UN do not want peace. They want to exploit the poor countries of the world and that requires the old method of the culture of war: “Divide and conquer.”

Hopefully, Colombia can learn from the failures of the past and achieve a sustainable peace. As I have suggested in my previous blog, “Advice to Colombia,” they need to develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that they do not have to depend solely on the national government or United Nations support. Those of us in other countries can help with direct people-to people support; as Amada Benavides says, “Peacebuilding moment starts just now. Today we need more support than ever.”

The Colombia Peace Process and Education for Peace

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Several years ago (September 2013 to be exact), I posed the question in this blog, “What Kind of Peace Education?” and responded that an effective program of peace education must begin by analyzing the culture of war. But this approach is strongly opposed by those who hold state power because, in fact, their power is based on that culture.

Therefore, it was a refreshing change to hear the discussions when I took part last month in the National Encounter for Peace Education for post-conflict Colombia. The people of Colombia know very well what is the culture of violence and war, as they have experienced it for many decades, and now that a peace accord is being reached, they want to change from that culture to a culture of peace.

An especially clear exposition of this kind of peace education is made by Alicia Cabezudo, who also took part in the Encounter. As she says in her essay, reprinted by CPNN, “violence, and especially the ‘culture of violence’ needs to be analyzed and studied in the content of education for peace because the concealment of violence in the educational system serves to legitimize violence and makes it more difficult to study and understand its causes and search for its roots. The analysis of violence, including the actors and the specific context is needed if we are to identify and select potential solutions to this violence.”

As Alicia says, “one of the characteristics of education for the Culture of Peace is the social construction of knowledge, following the educational precepts of the famous Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.” Education should be a process of democratic participation: “Not only teachers, but also student representatives, parents associations and relevant members of the education community should be involved in establishment of the curriculum and how it is taught.”

The National Encounter was organized in a culture of peace manner. Most of the time we sat in small circles in workshops, face-to-face, and exchanged ideas, listening to each other rather than “talking at each other.” As I remark in my description of the event, there was a remarkably high proportion of young people involved in these discussions. It is evident that the youth of Colombia wish to construct a new society of peace. And they realize that it must be “peace” in the broad sense, not just the absence of war but a culture of peace.

There was a rumor that President Santos might stop by the Encounter on his way back from Havana where he was taking part in the negotiations around the Peace Accord. After all, he was elected President on a platform of peace, and only a week before had taken part in a nationally televised program on peace education with some of the educators who organized our Encounter.

Although the peace initiatives of the national government are needed and applauded by the people, they realize full well, as Alicia insists, that this “should not be only an agreement between the government and the guerrillas or the paramilitaries – It is and should be an agreement of everyone. It is and should be an agreement in which the civil society participates actively. For that reason, it is an educational theme par excellence.”

The message that I brought to Colombia from South Africa (see my previous blog) was one that they were ready to hear and take seriously, that they should “develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that [they] do not have to depend solely on the national government to maintain the peace.”

As Alicia says, peace education has a crucial role in the peace process: “Peace Education should be used as a tool, a way to facilitate the return to peace at the territorial level; the democratization of the political, social and economic system, and the effective practice of social solidarity and equitable justice . . . Never before has a peace process after an armed conflict been accompanied simultaneously by a pedagogy of building a culture of peace as it is being discussed today in Colombia. It’s an opportunity that must not be wasted.”

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Le processus de paix en Colombie et l’éducation pour la paix

 Il y a plusieurs années (Septembre 2013 pour être exact), je posais la question dans ce blog: “Quelle éducation pour la paix?” et j’ai répondu qu’un programme efficace d’éducation pour la paix doit commencer par analyser la culture de guerre. Mais cette approche est fortement contestée par ceux qui tiennent le pouvoir de l’Etat parce que, en fait, leur pouvoir est fondé sur cette culture.

Par conséquent, ce fut un changement rafraîchissant que d’entendre les discussions lorsque je pris part le mois dernier à la Rencontre nationale pour l’éducation pour la paix en Colombie post-conflit.  Les Colombiens savent très bien ce qu’est la culture de la violence et de la guerre, parce qu’ils l’ont vécue pendant de nombreuses décennies, et maintenant que l’accord de paix est atteint, ils veulent passer de cette culture à une culture de paix.

Un exposé particulièrement clair de ce genre d’éducation pour la paix a été fait par Alicia Cabezudo, qui a également pris part à la rencontre. Comme elle le dit dans son essai, réimprimé par CPNN, “la violence, et en particulier la« culture de la violence »doit être analysée et étudiée dans le contenu de l’éducation pour la paix parce que la dissimulation de la violence dans le système éducatif sert à la légitimer, ce qui la rend plus difficile à étudier, à comprendre ses causes et à rechercher ses racines.  L’analyse de la violence, y compris les acteurs et le contexte spécifique est nécessaire si nous voulons identifier et sélectionner les solutions possibles à cette violence.”

Comme le dit Alicia, “l’une des caractéristiques de l’éducation pour la culture de paix est la construction sociale de la connaissance, en suivant les préceptes éducatifs du célèbre pédagogue brésilien Paulo Freire”:  L’éducation devrait être un processus de participation démocratique: “Non seulement les enseignants, mais aussi les représentants des étudiants, les associations de parents et les membres concernés de la communauté de l’éducation doivent être impliqués dans l’établissement du programme et comment il est enseigné.”

La rencontre nationale a été organisée dans l’esprit de la culture de paix. La plupart du temps nous nous sommes assis en petits cercles dans les ateliers, en face-à-face, et avons échangé des idées en s’écoutant les uns les autres, plutôt que de parler sans s’écouter.  Comme je le remarque dans ma description de l’événement, il y avait une proportion remarquablement élevée de jeunes impliqués dans ces discussions. Il est évident que les jeunes de Colombie souhaitent construire une nouvelle société de paix. Et ils se rendent compte que ce doit être la «paix» au sens large, et pas seulement l’absence de guerre, mais une vraie culture de paix.

Une rumeur a couru que le président Santos pourrait passer par notre conference sur le chemin du retour de La Havane où il prenait part aux négociations autour de l’accord de paix. Après tout, il a été élu président sur une plateforme de la paix, et seulement une semaine avant il avait pris part à un programme télévisé à l’échelle nationale sur l’éducation de la paix avec certains des éducateurs qui ont organisé notre rencontre.

Bien que les initiatives de paix du gouvernement national soient nécessaires et aient été applaudies par le peuple, celui-ci réalise très bien, comme insiste Alicia, que ce “ne doit pas être seulement un accord entre le gouvernement et la guérilla ou les paramilitaires – Il est et doit être un accord de tout le monde. Il est et doit être un accord dans lequel la société civile participe activement. Pour cette raison, il est un thème éducatif par excellence.”

Comme écrit dans le blog de septembre, de mon voyage en Afrique du Sud, j’ai apporté un message aux gens de Colombie, un message qu’ils étaient prêts à entendre et à prendre au sérieux: “vous devez développer un réseau de comités de paix locaux et garder ces comités forts et indépendants afin de ne pas dépendre uniquement du gouvernement national pour maintenir la paix.”

Comme le dit Alicia, l’éducation pour la paix a un rôle crucial dans le processus de paix: “L’education pour la Paix doit être utilisée comme un outil, un moyen de faciliter le retour à la paix au niveau territorial; la démocratisation du système politique, économique et sociale, et la pratique effective de la solidarité sociale et de la justice équitable. . . . Jamais auparavant après un conflit armé un processus de paix a été accompagné simultanément par une pédagogie de la construction d’une culture de paix comme il est discuté aujourd’hui en Colombie. C’est une occasion qui ne doit pas être manquée.”

Advice to Colombia for the Peace Process

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As described in this month’s CPNN bulletin, Colombia is preparing for peace as the peace talks advance between the Government and FARC. Local and regional peace initiatives, as well as a national move for peace education, are taking place in this context. It seems that Colombia will achieve peace accords that allow the election of a unity government that represents all of the people. But we should ask the question about what comes next. Can one trust that a unity government will continue the serve the people, or will it become corrupt?

I am reminded of the situation 25 years ago in South Africa when the peace talks between the apartheid government of South Africa and Nelson Mandela inspired the entire country to prepare for peace. At that time a network of local peace committees was established. At their peak in the early 1990’s, there were 11 regional committees and over one hundred local peace committees, with an annual budget of almost $12 million which enabled the hiring of full time staff for regional offices. These committees united representatives from political organizations, trade unions, business, churches, police and security forces to resolve disputes at local and regional levels. They engaged people directly in conflict management on a grass roots level throughout the country.

Earlier this year, I had the chance to spend a month in South Africa and to meet with social activists who had been active in the anti-apartheid movement. The told me that they regret now that they abandoned the network of local peace committees, because the national government has become so corrupt they can no longer work with it. The corruption is exemplified by the alleged involvement of Cyril Ramaphosa in the massacre of striking mine workers three years ago.

The massacre took place in 2012 at the Lonmin platinum mines near Marikana, South Africa where 41 striking mineworkers were killed and many more injured, mostly by the police, many of them shot in the back. The strike was carried out by workers opposed to the leadership of their union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which they considered to have sold out the company interests. The NUM was founded by Cyril Ramaphosa, after which Ramaphosa became the leader of COSATU, the national organization of trade unions, and then leader of the ANC, and now Vice President of South Africa.

Most recently, according to an article in Jeune Afrique, the leader of EFF, the new political party opposed to the ANC, announced the filing of a legal complaint against Ramaphosa, for having had “a decisive effect on the final decision of deliberating the mass murder of the miners at Marikana”. At the time of the massacre, Ramaphosa, in addition to being Vice-President of the country and founder of the National Union of Mineworkers, was also a shareholder in Lonmin. Ramaphosa is accused by the leader of the radical left to have insisted that the police should break the strike. Although there was an official investigation after the massacre, its mandate did not allow it to investigate the role of government members in ordering the police action.

One year after the massacre, one commentator concluded: “Perhaps the most important lesson of Marikana is that the state can gun down dozens of black workers with little or no backlash from ‘civil society’, the judicial system or from within the institutions that supposedly form the bedrock of democracy. What we have instead is the farcical Farlam commission, an obvious attempt to clear the state’s role in the massacre and prevent any sort of real investigation into the actions of the police on that day. In other words, the state can get away with mass murder, with apparent impunity in terms of institutional conceptions of justice and political accountability.”

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa has become one of South Africa’s richest men, with Forbes Magazine estimating his wealth at $275 million. Many believe that he is in line to be elected the next President of South Africa.

Hopefully, the activists in South Africa can revive a network of local peace committees. And hence, my advice to the people of Colombia: develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that you do not have to depend solely on the national government to maintain the peace.

Leadership of the Global South will be difficult for the North to accept

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Is it by chance that the leadership for the culture of peace is coming from the continents of Latin America and Africa, continents of the Global South? The detailed evidence for this may be found in many CPNN articles, some of which are summarized in the CPNN bulletins for March 1 and April 1 this year, as well as bulletins from previous years (February 1, 2013 and August 1, 2012).

It is not by chance that these are the continents that have suffered for centuries from the colonialism of the North: Africa from European colonialism and Latin America from US domination and military interventions?

It is not by chance that many of their best leaders were assassinated, directly or indirectly, by the colonial powers? I am thinking Samora Machel, Patrice Lumumba and Amilcar Cabral in Africa, or Salvador Allende, Che Guevara and Maurice Bishop in Latin America.

The transition to a culture of peace requires a complete reversal of the domination and exploitation of poor states of the South by the rich states of the North. It is by means of the culture of war that the North has amassed its wealth. And it is their continuing profit from the culture of war that makes it impossible for them to move towards a culture of peace. On the other hand, Africans and Latin Americans have everything to gain by such a complete reversal.

The coming years will also be difficult for the North, because, over time, they will continue to lose not only their power, but also their wealth that has been maintained through the culture of war. There is a great danger, more and more visible in national elections in Europe and North America, that voters will turn to fascist political parties in their desperate search for a solution.

But perhaps the most difficult thing for the North will be the psychological aspect of this historical transition. The people of the North, particularly their intellectuals and political leaders have developed a racist belief in their superiority. The loss of that illusion will be a difficult thing to swallow, as the leadership of history passes into the hands of the people of the South.

Rather than trying to save the rest of the world, progressives in the North should try to save their own societies from racist and chauvinist illusions, and from economies based on exploitation. In this regard they should adopt some of the approaches suggested by Johan Galtung in his analysis of the Fall of the American Empire: to work at the local municipal level instead of trying to change national policies, to organize local cooperatives and local food production instead of importation and agro-business, local banks instead of investment banks, local construction of affordable housing to provide jobs as well as housing.

The transition to a culture of peace needs to be a universal struggle. By working locally for a culture of peace, the people of the North can take their place along with activists of the South in this universal, historical, nonviolent, yet revolutionary struggle.

 

Can a Culture of Peace be created in only one zone of the world?

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Again this month we indicate in the CPNN bulletin that Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be in the vanguard of the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace.  This month it is the national governments that have taken the leadership with their declaration in Havana that the region will be a “zone of peace” privileging the development of a culture of peace according to the principles in the UN Declaration .

At first glance this seems to contradict my contention that a culture of peace cannot be created by national governments because they have become inextricably linked to the culture of war.

But on further reflection, the problem is not so simple.  Governments in Latin America have tried to move towards a culture of peace other times in the past, only to be attacked and prevented from doing so by intervention from the United States.  The most extreme examples were Cuba in 1961 and Chile in 1973.  And now, even as I write this, there is strong evidence that “state within a state” forces in the United States, perhaps without the knowledge of President Obama, are moving the destabilize Venezuela because its policies to do not fit with the American culture of war.  Cuba, after the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, installed a socialist culture of war in defense.  And Chile, after the overthrow of Allende in 1973, established a classic fascist dictature under Pinochet.  Is Venezuela destined to suffer a similar fate?

Probably one of the reasons that some forces in the United States want to destabilize Venezuela is to stop its leadership in development of the Banco del Sur which would make South America independent of the US dollar and its financial institutions.  The Banco del Sur was officially launched last year in Caracas by Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina, as well as Venezuela.  So far, however, it is only a small step towards economic independence.

It seems that the global culture of war, headed by the American empire, will not allow the establishment of culture of peace at any national level.

However, even if Latin America is blocked from installing a culture of peace at national levels in its own zone, its attempts to move in this direction will have a lasting effect on the consciousness of its citizens and we may be confident that it is there, in consciousness, that history will ultimately be determined.  What is needed is to reinforce this consciousness by the development of local culture of peace institutions.  A start was made in this direction in Brazil 10 years ago, but was not sustained.  Let us hope that the process can be re-started.

If Latin American countries can continue to push for a culture of peace, and if they can develop a certain economic independence from the American empire, they will be in a good position when the empire crashes to support the cities of Latin America for a revision of the UN Security Council and to return the power of peace to the people rather than the nation states.  I have imagined this scenario in The Promised Land.

Latin America: The leading edge

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Latin America continues to take the lead in the transition to a culture of peace.

As indicated by this month’s CPNN Bulletin, the continent was the first to establish city culture of peace commissions, as well as city commissions for components such as human rights in Sao Paulo and sustainable development in Aguascalientes.  Also the invocation of the culture of peace as the basis for the Union of South American States (UNASUR) was a pioneering development.

Now, we can add to this list of innovations, the development of the culture of peace at a regional level in Brazil, Peru and Mexico.  As discussed, this is an important new step since a region can be self-sustaining with regard to its agricultural basis, unlike the city.

In fact, Latin America has always been at the leading edge.  The initial concept came in 1986 from an initiative in Peru headed by the Jesuit scholar Felipe MacGregor.  The first national project was in El Salvador in 1993, and that experience was the basis for the adoption of the culture of peace programme by the Executive Board and General Conference of UNESCO.  The further development of the culture of peace as a social movement came in 1994 from a  “Group of Reflection” of Latin American experts in association with UNESCO.  It was the representatives from Latin American countries at the United Nations in New York that began in 1995 the annual resolutions which led eventually to the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.  And the initial call for an International Year for the Culture of Peace came from a meeting of Latin American newspaper editors in Puebla, Mexico, in 1997.

The second and third largest number of signatures on the Manifesto 2000, by which individuals promised to support a culture of peace in their daily lives, came from Brazil (15 million) and Colombia (11 million).

During the International Decade for a Culture of Peace from 2001-2010, the rich countries, including Europe and the United States and their allies, refused to support the culture of peace, including its annual UN resolutions.  On the other hand, the countries of Latin America were outstanding in their support.  For example, at the midpoint of the Decade, the UN resolution was signed by the following countries of Latin America and the Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Boliva, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Granadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

Latin America has taken the lead in a number of other related initiatives.  The Earth Summit that took place in Brazil in 1992 was the turning point in the development of sustainable development.  And the practice of participatory budgeting which is revolutionizing democratic participation began as an initiative of the Workers Party of Brazil when they were in charge of the city government of Porto Allegre.

I expect that the leadership from Latin America will continue.  For this reason, I wrote in my utopian novel, I Have Seen the Promised Land, that the key moment in the transition of the United Nations from control by nation states to control by city and regional governments would come at a global meeting that takes place in Porto Allegre, Brazil, in the year 2021.  I wrote that five years ago, and now we have only eight more years before 2021.  But so far, given the continuing leadership from Latin America, I would still make the same prediction.