|Posted: May 20 2005,14:45
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?
Institute Sou da Paz (ISDP) is a Public Interest Civil Society Organization (Organização da Sociedade Civil de Interesse Público, OSCIP) and was registered with the Ministry of Justice in act # MJ 08015.001395/2003-61 in 1999. Its mission is to contribute to the implementation in Brazil of effective public policies in the fields of security and violence prevention that are based on the values of democracy, social justice, and human rights, by means of social mobilization and the diffusion of innovative practices in the field. These goals are in turn supported by ISDP’s conceptual foundation, the creation of a Culture of Peace at all managerial levels: regional, municipal, state, federal and international.
Through events designed to mobilize governmental organs and society at large, as well as develop, implement and monitor sustainable projects
that aim to reduce levels of urban violence, ISDP disseminates on a daily basis the concepts and principles of a Culture of Peace, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adapted to the particular circumstances of the regions involved.
In 1997, with rising levels of violence a principle concern of Brazilians, São Paulo found itself at the center of the problem, one of the three cities with the highest crime rates in the country. Based on this perception, the "Sou da Paz Campaign for Disarmament" was launched, offering alternatives for controlling violence that did not respond, contradictorily, with even greater brutality, but were based on rational analysis of the problem. The Campaign focused its attention on controlling firearms, at that time an issue almost entirely unknown in Brazil yet crucial to reducing violent deaths and that symbolizes like no other the need to find collective solutions and more efficient public policies as the only way to confront the problem.
The campaign was echoed by other sectors of society and quickly expanded and gained momentum. One of the major publicity agencies in the country DM9/DDB volunteered to create and produce the logo of the campaign and campaign announcements and important vehicles of communication began to get involved in dissemination of the campaign’s message for disarmament. Musicians, actors, famous sports players and soon the entire country began to join the movement displaying the energy that the campaign evoked in the population.
* The most visible result of the mobilization brought about by the campaign was the guns voluntarily turned and later publicly destroyed during the campaign - 3,000 guns in São Paulo alone. But even more important was the fact that the topic of disarmament became a central issue on the political agenda of the country bringing about a growing group of defenders of the idea of outlawing gun sales for civilians.
* After the success of the campaign, in 1999, the Instituto Sou da Paz was founded with a new mission to not only to mobilize and raise awareness of society and to open a dialogue with the governmental authorities involved in the area of security, but also to build peace - based on the technical efficiency of the police, by giving priority to non repressive violence prevention strategies and by uniting the efforts of all key actors involved in the area of public security.
* In 2003 the National Congress finally approved the Disarmament Statue after five years of debate. They Insituto Sou da Paz played an important part in getting the Statute passed by organizing public debates, acts, events, awareness raising campaigns and through technical support in the actual writing of the law.
* The gun collection campaign (provided for by the Disarmament Statute) beginning in July of 2004 has surprised everyone with its results - over 322 thousand guns have been voluntarily turned in. In São Paulo alone this number has surpassed 105 thousand guns.
* The goal of the Statue, to reduce the number of guns in circulation and consequently the number of homicides in Brazil, is already being accomplished. According to mortality statistics from the public health system (Pro -Aim : Programa de Aprimoramento das Informações de Mortalidade) in the municipality of São Paulo) there was a registered decrease of 24% in the number of homicides committed in 2004 compared with 2003. The homicide rate dropped from 46.8 to 35.6 per hundred thousand inhabitants. In absolute terms there were 1,168 less deaths from firearms compared to the year before. The biggest decline in homicide rates occurred in the areas of social exclusion located in the periphery of the city of São Paulo. Among the districts with the largest decline in homicides are Jardim Angela, well known for high crime rates, and Itaim paulista. In both of these districts there were 62 less murders than the previous year.
Additionally, the Disarmament Statute has provided many other important benefits to the country:
* Stricter control of production and sales of guns
* New restriction for buying a gun
* Carrying a gun on you has been outlawed
* Carrying a non-registered gun is now a crime without bail
* Emission of gun registrations has been centralized and is now controlled by the Federal Police
* The level of awareness about the risks involved in owning a gun has increased
* Involvement of all sectors of society
* Disarmament Committees have formed in almost every state in Brazil
* Reduced number of homicides in select states
Democracy and Humanization
The actions implemented by ISDP prioritize the democratic rights in the law making process as well as the institutions that work to implement the law, such as the police, the penal system and the justice system.
Since 2004 the ISDP has worked to stimulate good police practices, such as closer relationships between the police and their communities and substitution of repressive conduct for educative conduct. ISDP tries to show that the responsibility for public security should be divided between the State and civil society.
* The concrete results we can site from our work are 50 thousand adolescents that have already benefited from the ISDP’s Youth and Citizenship programs. These are young Brazilians who have become real social protagonists that take care of and make use of community spaces, of public equipment, and of the dissemination of a culture of peace in the environments where they live. The projects implemented with these goals are: Pólos da Paz (Peace Poles) and Grêmio em forma (student councils) that are implemented in regions with high rates of homicide and criminal activity.
* Instituto Sou da Paz also tries to integrate the community around these adolescents through participative dialogue with the goal of reducing violence in these communities. The communities that have worked with Instituto Sou da Paz are able to identify priorities, make decisions and take actions that are important for the security and safety. These communities are a central part of the solution for violence (that combines policing, community justice and alternative penalties as well as social preventative measures such as creating groups of student leaders and creation of shared public spaces). In this way ISDP works to consolidate and strengthen democratic culture and practice.
* In order for violence prevention to reach other levels (state, municipal and regional) Instituto Sou da Paz works hard to maintain a relationship of cooperation with local organizations and social movements and strives to involve them in each step of our projects and actions. With this mentality Instituto Sou da Paz has been successful in involving a large number of different partner organizations, public representatives, private businesses and community representatives in order to provide concrete and adequate solutions suited to the individual necessities of each community.
Through out the first half of the decade, the Instituto Sou da Paz has been completing our goals in small increments through: interviews and debates and other diverse vehicles of communication, creating events to raise awareness, public speeches and campaign publicity, booklets, accompanying and participating in the law making process, monitoring of measures taken by the Legislative and executive branches, and the development of strategies aimed at persuading public authorities, social leaders and public opinion with the purpose of promoting a culture of peace and confronting urban violence bearing in mind the values defended by the ISDP.
The programs and projects implemented by ISDP also strive to promote citizenship with young Brazilians from the periphery of São Paulo. As a result, Instituto Sou da Paz has created and strengthened opportunities for democratic participation and established a new form of dialogue and cohabitation between diverse social actors. In this way ISDP has achieved involvement of adolescents who act to transform their social environments and consequently end up contributing to violence reduction through presenting alternatives to obtain basic needs and human rights with out the use of force. For this process to be complete Instituto Sou da Paz has recognized the need to also involve actors from the Justice and Security systems, such as police officers judicial powers and the penitentiary systems. In this way ISDP has been successful in involving all of they key actors in dialogue and cohabitation allowing for the democratization and humanization of relations between them.
OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?
The main obstacles to defusing a culture of peace into practices in everyday life encountered by the Instituto Sou da Paz can be summed up as:
* Insufficient information
Quantitative - Due to the lack of constant research consulting the victims of gun violence and insufficient information from the Criminal Justice system as a whole, it is practically impossible to determine the real dimensions of criminal activity in the country. There is no reliable statistics to show the difference between the actual number of crimes committed and the number of crimes that are reported to the police. To summarize, we cannot objectively evaluate our progress and the efficiency of the system because there is no reliable information.
Qualitative - In addition to being insufficient, the existing statistics are also superficial, because, in general, the police reports don’t investigate essential information about the context of each homicide. Police intelligence needs to be a priority and receive more investment from the government. Additionally, the public security system should seek partners capable of increasing the quality of this information, such is the case with the public health system, for example, that produces detailed information about crime and violence victims.
In Brazil the people and institutions that are dedicated to the study of crime and crime prevention are very few. This results in the absence of information available to found solid, effective polices on that will actually reduce violence and crime. This absence of information not only about crimes that occur with in Brazil, but also about the success of violence prevention in other cities and countries, allows for the reproduction of erroneous beliefs and myths about how to solve the problem. These myths heavily influence people’s opinions on questions that have been questioned for some time in other countries such as: a) the efficiency of the death penalty, b) the benefits of longer prison terms, c) the advantages of privatization of prisons, d) the deterring effects of imprisonment e e) the population’s "right to bear arms".
* Difficulty financing mobilization and awareness raising projects
In Brazil one of the major difficulties is identifying partners who are interested in financing projects that aim to raise awareness and consequently mobilize society to make a change. The vast majority of sponsors prefer to support concrete projects that can easily be measured and evaluated. Because of this many projects are abandoned, in most cases, because they require actions that have costs for graphic design, audio-visual and industrial support material, videos, spots, posters, adds, giveaways and other material for communication as well as the availability of professionals to participate in debates, interviews and other discussions.
* Difficulties evaluating results
Awareness raising and mobilization campaigns produce results within interpersonal relationships and everyday behavior that are difficult to evaluate. Although they do produce results, these results are abstract and measurable only by very specific types of research that are also very expensive.
* Lack of strict control and an Arms Trade Treaty
Today we can assert that illegal arms’ trafficking takes place all along the Brazilian border and that arms commerce in the world is out of control. There are an estimated 640 million guns in the world, one for every ten people. Around 1,000 companies in close to 98 countries produce these guns. Every year 8 million guns are produced. Every year 16 billion bullets are produced. That means 2 bullets for every man women and child on the planet. One third of all countries spend more on weapons than on health care. The most powerful countries are the largest suppliers and, for this reason, they should be held responsible for controlling the world gun market. The five permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations - France, Russia, China, England and the United States represent 88% of the world gun exports. Additionally the tradition of destroying old weapons of the police and military forces, consequently these guns and ammunition end up in criminal hands. In the last four years, the profit that the United States, England and France earned from guns exports to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America totaled more than the amount these countries invested in humanitarian aid.
In order to combat international arms trafficking an International Arms Trade Treaty is necessary in order to consolidate the gun control laws between countries, not only in Latin America but also on the other five continents. There must be punishment for illegal arms trafficking as well as mechanisms for the exchange of information between countries.
ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?
During the first half of the World Decade for a Culture of Peace, Instituto Sou da Paz completed many actions with the aim of awareness raising and mobilizing society to build a culture of peace and non-violence.
The area responsible for arms control at Instituto Sou da Paz is committed to communicating the importance of disarmament, exposing myths about violence and mobilizing the population and the government to increase gun control as the first step in building a culture of Peace. Some of the activities implemented by this area in the last five years are listed bellow.
Public act for peace in the Plaza Se (center of São Paulo). On this occasion Instituto Sou da Paz mobilized 20,000 people who took to the streets to say ENOUGH, NO MORE VIOLENCE and ask for peace. This act was part of the campaign ENOUGH! I WANT PEACE, which happened simultaneously in 15 capital cities in Brazil.
07/09/2002: During International Disarmament Day 10 thousand people gathered in the Vale do Anhangabaú to raise awareness about the important date and the necessity for more rigorous gun control laws.
2003: Instituto Sou da Paz, taking advantage of the new mandate of the National Congress, produced an informative newsletter "Sou da Paz no Legislativo"(Sou da Paz in the Legislature) delivered to federal deputies. The newsletter contained information about disarmament and exposing erroneous myths about violence and firearms.
10/24/2003: In order to pressure congress to accelerate the voting process for the proposed Disarmament Statute, ISDP mobilized the population in order to manifest their indignation once again in the Plaza Se. In this event 9,969 candles were lit for the victims who died from gun violence during the three months that the bill was staled in the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Representatives). At the same moment the Control Arms Campaign, an international campaign organized by IANSA, Amnesty International and Oxfam of which Insituto Sou da Paz is the Brazilian national representative, was launched in Brazil.
10/12/2004: On Children’s Day the Insituto Sou da Paz produced a large event with the participation of more than 2,000 children from the southern region of São Paulo where our Peace and Disarmament quilt was first exhibited. The Peace and Disarmament quilt symbolizes Brazilian society united in the name of disarmament. Each square represents and individual, group, company or association and carries a message about the importance of building peace. The Peace and Disarmament quilt is now more than 100 square meters.
10/20/2004: In a benefit soccer game of Criança Esperança (Chilkdren’s Hope), promoted by Unesco that took place in the estádio Palestra Itália in São Paulo. Instituto Sou da Paz took hundreds of children to help open the Peace and Disarmament quilt on the field before the game. Five thousand people attended the game and many celebrities appeared to support disarmament.
12/12/2004: In partnership with the Disarmament Committee of São Paulo, of which ISDP is a member, D-day for Disarmament was held. The event mobilized the population to gather at the state Legislative Assembly. Hundreds of people, associations and organizations signed a letter, in which they committed themselves to participate in initiatives for disarmament.
31/03/2005: For two days Instituto Sou da Paz held the first meeting of the Disarmament Committees in Brazil. The meeting was held in São Paulo and 50 representatives of the Disarmament Committees from 9 different states. The goal of the event was to share experiences from each region and create strategies for a National Campaign to win the referendum that will prohibit the sale of guns to civilians if passed in October of 2005.
2000-2005: Since 2000 ISDP has been capacitating and managing a group of volunteers called the "Agents of Peace". These volunteers give talks, speeches, workshops and other activities about gun control and violence prevention. In the last five years the Peace Agents have given hundreds of talks in schools, companies, events, associations and to other groups.
Many other projects were also developed and implemented by the Instituto Sou da Paz during this same period in addition to our disarmament initiatives:
CENAFOCO (National Center for Community Development)
Project to develop young leaders instructed through a series of courses and workshops.
Creation of three groups of adolescents in the periphery of Sao Paulo (an area with significantly high homicide rates) that concluded classes on Social Entrepreneurship, Environmental Management, Social Management, Human Rights and volunteer work. These three groups later developed and implemented eight projects within their communities based on community needs.
CRAVI (Center for Support of Victims of Violence)
A judiciary and psychological services provided by the State Government of São Paulo for family members of victims of violent crimes.
(2001 - 2003)
Instituto Sou da Paz provided support in making information about these free services available, specifically, to communities in the periphery of São Paulo most affected by armed violence.
GRÊMIO EM FORMA (Developing Student leaders)
A project to develop student councils in public schools in order to promote pacific solutions to conflicts as well as stimulate dialogue and negotiation among the students.
- Three pilot student councils formed
- Help manual for students interested in forming student councils created.
- 25 Student Councils created
- Coordination of a discussion forum to orientate students interested in forming student councils in their schools.
- Participation in discussion forums and seminars about violence in schools, strategies to control and prevent this phenomenon and to strengthen student councils using them as a space for legitimate "political" participation for adolescents.
- Coordination of student participants in the National Campaign for the Right to Education
- 1st inter- student council soccer for peace championship with the participation of 12 student councils.
- Discussion forum for student councils in the Southern region of São Paulo
- Student council participation in the São Paulo State Education Plan and the National Education Plan
- Support for student councils already formed and the creation of many more student council members in the southern region of São Paulo
- Participation in the World Social Forum for Education (São Paulo)
- Participation in the State Conference on Youth (São Paulo)
- Participation in the National Conference on Youth (Brasilia)
- Support for the student councils of the Southern region in São Paulo and the formation of four more student councils in the East of São Paulo.
- Printed and multi-media resources created to help professors our parents or principals interested in forming student councils in other schools.
ESPAÇO CRIANÇA ESPERANÇA (Hope for Children Recreation Space)
A project to reform a community center to offer sports, cultural and leisure activities for children and adolescents in order to complement their school education and strengthen the sense of community within the neighborhood.
(2002 - 2004)
- Construction of a large open space for outdoor movies, concerts and rodeos.
- Construction of a skate park
- Construction of a Multi-media center complete with equipment for editing and producing videos, photographs, comic strips, music and radio programs for the children and adolescents from the community.
- Diagnosis of how the activities of the recreation center should function done with parents, employees and children involved in the project.
- Developed a Plan for Ongoing Education cited in the book produced by Unicef about the educational model used in the hope for children recreation spaces all over Brazil.
- Purchase of uniforms, digital camera, cafeteria cooking utensils, radio and musical equipment, maintenance and small repairs of the recreation space.
- United Nations research institution (ILANUD) contracted to study the characteristics of children and adolescents from the community that participated in the project.
- More than 70 field trips with participants including to see concerts, movies, plays, book fairs and to visit other Hope for Children Recreation Spaces in Brazil.
- Close to 240 events including cultural workshops, sports training, community events, and visits from famous musicians and actors.
- Support of other community groups and organizations in order to share the opportunities made available through the project
- Participation in International events such as the International Street Soccer Championship held in Switzerland.
- 1000 books donated to the Hope For Children Recreation Space library
- Implementation of permanent courses on video production, sound production, radio production, hip hop, etc. on weekdays and weekends for young members of the community in the southern zone of São Paulo.
- Creation of a permanent community radio station
OBSERVATÓRIO DE DIREITOS HUMANOS (Human Rights Observatory)
Pilot project where young members of the most violent regions of São Paulo study and discuss human rights and map violations of human rights taking place in their neighborhoods and create two products: a community newspaper urging the community to discuss collective problems they have in common and a official report of their conclusions for the federal Government in an effort to sensitize the public authorities to the problems of these communities.
- Two editions of the community newspaper LUPA produced
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions of the Citizen Report produced
POLÍCIA ESCOLA (Training Police to work in School environments)
Project to develop a methodology, didactic recourses and pilot course to train the police officers who work to ensure security in schools.
- Methodology to train police officers developed
- 30 police officers trained in pilot course
- Manual for instructors and manual for participants of the course produced. The content of this material has been incorporated as part of the curriculum for police training in the state of São Paulo
PÓLOS DA PAZ (Peace Poles)
Project to democratize public spaces and to train groups of adolescents to consolidate discussion and problem solving through participation and management of public spaces such as public plazas.
- Two public plazas in the Southern region of São Paulo selected for the project
- Two groups of adolescents formed to mange the plazas
- Soccer championship organized for the members of the community in one of the plazas.
- Two management groups trained through a series of courses
- Plan developed and implemented for reform of the plazas
- Events organized for the communities near the plazas:
* Children’s day and Mother’s day celebrations
* Soccer matches
* Meeting between the management groups and adolescents participating in other projects organized by the Instituto Sou da Paz for sharing experiences
* Visits from a caravan of famous actors and musicians from other countries such as Israel, France, Argentina and Palestine
* Workshops for creation of a community radio station.
- Final reforms of the plazas selected
- Events organized for the communities:
* Trip to see a play in the theater
* Workshops on graffiti, mosaics, and computer sciences
* Permanent community radio post
* Training of new group of adolescents to maintain the up keeping of the plazas and organize new events
PRÊMIO POLÍCIA CIDADÃ (Police Citizenship Award)
Project with the goal of identifying and giving an award for good practices by the police that succeed in solving problems of public security effectively, always respecting the law. The project seeks to show that civil society values these actions and to bring good examples of positive actions taken by the police into the spotlight.
- First award selection process launched with 119 police projects and 337 police officers competing for the award (2004)
- Prizes awarded to 38 police officers responsible for 6 different projects, honorable mention for 27 officers
- Second selection process launched with 150 projects competing and 557 officer involved
ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?
The United Nations could make significant progress by focusing it’s efforts on helping to lesson the difficulties presented by the various entities who have participated in the making of this report. Many of the organizations listed in this report most likely share some common difficulties and the support of the United Nations in resolving the most relevant and urgent issues could help to ensure that the second half of the decade is even more prosperous than the first.
One of the most pertinent issues to be addressed in order for us to advance towards a Culture of Peace is more control of international gun commerce. Brazil has made huge progress on its gun control laws in relation to production and sales in the last five years, but this issue needs to be addressed on the international level. In order for national laws to be implemented and respected completely, it is essential that there be a political commitment of all countries to control the guns exported over their borders. In the same way that governments has recently become more conscious of controlling trafficking of plants and animals, governments must similarly control gun commerce and gun trafficking.
PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?
Frente Desarma Brasil, Comitê Desarma São Paulo, Fórum em Defesa da Paz, Fórum de Grêmios da Zona Sul, Rede Gandhi, ConPaz, Rede de Monitoramento Amiga da Criança, Control Arms.
PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?
In 2005, Instituto Sou da Paz has been re-structuring our work in order to meet the demands of a growing organization and to initiate work in new areas we consider important. One of these new key areas is the media, more specifically monitoring the journalistic coverage and the way the media portrays public security issues and violence.
Another area that we have just started working with is the area of Municipal Security Plans. This new area reflects a new mentality of some municipal governments who have grown to see themselves as protagonists in the area of violence prevention and are assuming the role that the municipal government has in this area.
In the areas of gun control, youth and the Justice and Security Systems, Instituto Sou da Paz plans to continue working through our present projects.
Postal address of organization
Name: Instituto Sou da Paz
People to Contact: Denis Mizne and Mariana Montoro Jens
Address: Rua Luís Murat, 260 - Vila Madalena - São Paulo/SP. Cep:
City: São Paulo-SP
E-mail address of organization
Website address of organization
Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace
Among all the areas involved in promoting a culture of peace, we consider the following to be our principal areas of domain:
e - Democratic participation
c - Human Rights
a - Education for Peace
Second priority action domain of a culture of peace
Highest priority country of action (or international)
Instituto Sou da Paz’s actions are focuses on the regional (within the city of São Paulo), national and international levels.
Second priority country of action (or international)
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