This year's youth team at the United Nations was again very successful, as described in their brief report attached below. They personally put copies of last year's Civil Society Report and this year's Youth Report into the hands of diplomats from 67 countries. A more extensive report will be put on line on the Decade site in the next month or so (http://decade-culture-of-peace.org).
The Youth Report on a culture of peace that was completed this year and put on line on the Decade site as noted in our previous Bulletin was cited as follows in the report to the United Nations by the Alliance of Civilizations at their press conference in Istanbul November 13. Unfortunately the full report was not included as an annex.
"A Global Youth Alliance should be established as a mechanism through which youth can contribute to the implementation of all of the recommendations set forth in this report (not just those under the 'youth' theme). Supported by a Global Youth Solidarity Fund, this initiative could begin with the convening and mobilization of various youth networks and associations to promote dialogue, alliance and a culture of peace. These organizations have already begun working together to organize meetings that would provide the opportunity for young people of diverse backgrounds to set an agenda for action which they can then present to global leaders to win their support and assistance. In addition, a survey has been conducted identifying 468 youth organizations from 125 countries that could be engaged as implementing partners".
The next step in implementation of the fund will depend on a new "High Representative" for the Alliance initiative. At a press conference at UN headquarters on December 18, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain, announced that a High Representative would be named in one month to move forward with the practical steps.
Meanwhile, the culture of peace advances at other levels.
* At the meetings of the UNESCO Executive Board in October, a resolution was adopted that returns culture of peace as a priority in UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy for 2008-2013. I can send the full copy of the resolution to you if you wish.
* On November 23, the Federal Assembly of Brazil created a Federal Parliamentary Culture of Peace Council - a permanent, deliberative body of the legislative branch.
* On December 10, the Presidents of South America, meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia, adopted a declaration of unity based on the culture of peace. Quoting from the account in Prensa Latina on the Internet (http://www.plenglish.com/) : "The Cochabamba pronouncement states that such South American unification is not only necessary to solve large scourges affecting the region, like poverty, exclusion and persistent social inequality, but also it is a decisive step to achieve an uni-polar, balanced, fair world, based on a peace culture" [in the original Spanish, the phrase is cultura de paz].
A YOUTH CHALLENGE TO THE IMMOVABLE REPUTATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Convinced that it was within the capacity of the member states of the United Nations and its various organs to strengthen efforts to create a Culture of Peace, in October 2006 twelve youth descended upon the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. We were filled with determination to challenge the seemingly immovable bureaucratic institution to further its commitments to creating a Culture of Peace.
In the first week, we had to overcome several obstacles. There were no funds to support our activities, and the unconventional approach to the mobilization of change was met with resistance. Nevertheless, we found creative ways to skirt the difficulties we faced. Working out of the basement of the UN we took advantage of free wireless internet and telephone booths outside the Committee Rooms in order to arrange meetings with the delegates of the Member States. Meanwhile, for those countries that we could not make appointments to see, we strategically positioned ourselves outside the committee rooms, pouncing upon the representatives for discussion as they made their way out of the meetings.
In the second week, the tides turned. We found ourselves suddenly snowballed with appointments, and we were the ones with whom meetings were sought. Juggling the back-to-back meetings, we lobbied representatives from 67 Permanent Missions, and in many cases we met the Ambassadors themselves. Representatives from several organs of the UN were also met, and advice was received on how the implementation of our proposals could best be achieved.
In two weeks, we moved the United Nations several steps closer towards their vision of a Culture of Peace:
* The inclusion of the Culture of Peace within the mandate of Peacebuilding Commission, at our proposal, was received and included as an amendment in this year's resolution on the Culture of Peace (A/Res/61/45).
* Recognising our efforts to mobilize a change, the Ambassador of Bangladesh, in the General Assembly, said "particular mention ... must be made of the young foot-soldiers of Fundación Cultura de Paz" .
* The number of co-sponsors to this year's resolution increased from 108 to 114.
* The Global Youth Report on the Culture of Peace was included in the high-level report of the Alliance of Civilizations, and "as a decisive contribution to the Culture of Peace", the creation Global Youth Alliance is now the first recommendation of the Alliance in its activities in relation to youth .
* The efforts of our team were noted by the Media Alert and several official press releases of the United Nations.