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Organization: Peace Action International Committee
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
Posted: April 17 2005,13:56 If you wrote this report, you will find a button here that you may click
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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?

The progress achieved during the Decade thus far, has been confined to the small U.N. community of missions, secretariats and civil society organizations who participated in fora for the Decade inauguration. Althoughmany players spread the word to their constituancies internationally, the concepts and values of a culture of peace never amounted to a major campaign in the United States. Indigenous organizations introduced the Culture of Peace at major conferences in North Africa (Niger, Mali, and Morrocco through the Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity and P.I.P.E (Partnerships for Indigenous Peoples Environment).

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

The obstacle to disseminating information about a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children were the changes initiated after 9/11 which through fear of terrorism brought about an acceptance of security through militarism, exsultation toward war and abrogation of human rights to enlist governments an their populations in an all out war effort. Without resources to counter false information through the media the efforts of the Peace Movement and their cultural supporters seemed ineffective and trivial.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

Peace Action International Committee and its extended network, the Peace Caucus of NGO's, has been involved with the concepts and programs of the Culture of Peace since its first public announcements. The former director of the New York office of UNESCO, Nina Sibal, consulted frequently with the U.N. representatives of our NGO on programs that would alert the U.N. community and the networks evolved by the NGO's to the possibilities of pursuing disarmament, demilitarization and human security through the work that culture plays in societies for good purposes (or as obstacles to survival).

The first program at the New York headquarters of the U.N. during meetings on Sustainable Development had as guest speaker, Federico Major, Director-General of UNESCO, who spelled out the interconnection of sustainable development and the Culture of Peace. From that time on, our organizations planned programs, wrote articles and tried to connect peace, disarmament, security issues with the human values issues related to a Culture of Peace.

We planned the introductory meetings at U.N. headquarters on the resolution authorizing the Year of the Culture of Peace and began a sub program involving artists, educators, and visionaries leading to the Decade program that focused on children.

Programs and fliers are available to show the network that was evolved and the partnerships entered into with U.N. agencies, U.N. missions and other NGO's.

One of the best relationships forged between the missions writing the resolution for the Culture of Peace and the NGO's was made through the generous invitation extended to the representative of Peace Action by Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury to participate.

In addition Director Federico Major invited and set up a meeting in Paris with his legal team to use the Hague Convention for the safeguarding of Cultural Property in Wartime to save prehistoric heritage sites in the former Yugoslavia from bombing by NATO forces. This was followed by a trip to Budapest to join Joseph Rotblatt to bring the values and program of the Culture of Peace to the attention of the world bodies of scientists attending the First World Congress on Science organized by UNESCO.

The values and participation of women have been emphasized by the visits of the Chair of Peace Action International Committee in visits to Afghanistan and the Middle East.

At the five year review point of the Decade, we are deeply concerned that war and militarism, terrorism and genocide have made our efforts seem trivial. In comparison with the mobilization of violent means to quell the fears and insecurities that people everywhere have experienced, our efforts have been feeble and almost without resources.

In preparing for a new effort for the coming years and beyond, we must try harder and more imaginatively to propagandize for peace more effectively.

In our mission statement for  "Creating Peace through the Arts and Media", we wrote of the power of images to reach hearts and minds. In response to the "expert" use of media for violence, we must strive harder to expose those concrete efforts and images that create and sustain individual growth towards the peaceful resolution of conflict.

In New York we had been deeply involved in programs that helped to sustain neighborhoods around the needs of urban families, leading to the American Headstart and Neighborhood Youth Corps programs. Some of the NGO representatives have made concrete suggestions for working towards a global Headstart movement for communities. This would include and need involvement and input from the existing U.N. agencies and programs dealing with children (and womens') needs and rights such as, UNICEF, UNIFEM, The Convention on the Rights of Children and the Programs for Aids and Children in Armed Conflict.

Graca Michel and Nelson Mandela have already launched a "Global Movement for Children". The task we wish to undertake with considerable help from the entire international community is to make the hopes and possibilities visual. It is agreed by many educators that books, reports and the three R's have not been successful in violent war-torn societies and those with endemic poverty and survival issues. We must get our message out from the conference rooms and schools to the landscapes and places where daily life expresses the core values that determine public action. We propose an initiative as a corollary to our call to enlist peace messengers, artists, visionary and media people to create visual displays that will symbolize and propagandize for peace. We need to project and build settings for non-violence and intergenerational communication for protection of children locally, as well as where former child soldiers and ex-combatants can be returned to community life.

In the past U.N. Culture of Peace programs, we have utilized music and musicians to bring people together. We have organized round table discussions and panels in conference room settings. We need to get out into the landscapes and into peoples' homes. We now hope to plan exhibits and web sites for new and sacred sites called "Landscapes of Peace", alternative meeting places that reflect authentic cultural heritage and provide peaceful settings for conflict resolutions and truth and reconciliation efforts. Alternative media including radio and minimal technology, festivals, pageants, labyrinth walkways can symbolize human interaction in harmony with nature. Many models of democratic architectural building practices were tried out in the 60's - 80's in urban habitats in the United States during the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War eras. They drew from the tangible cultural heritage of which the American people are constituted (the original Native Americans, the Africans, Asian and Europeans who brought their forms and technologies to reflect their values and cultural world view). Much of this has been lost in recent times where globalization is promoting technological conformity rather than harmonious, diverse, and ecologically sensitive environments. Resource extraction and exploitation are more the norm than the exception in the global habitat today.

We can still incorporate some of the best practices and lessons learned from indigenous and traditional cultures. These include new and old symbols from indigenous cultures, meeting places for spiritual and secular dialogue, peace parks, peace pagodas, community gardens, safe playgrounds for small children and "adventure playgrounds" for youth, incorporating the excitement and enticement of video arcades but without the sensationalism and bombardment of violent imagery. All this must be done with the sensitivity and consent of the local population. In some cases people safeguard their symbolisms and practices to enhance their survival and cultural identity. In all such cases wishes of the local community and environment must be respected.

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?


PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

The Ribbon International has displayed cloth panels and banners at many Culture of Peace events. United States NGO's presented a ribbon panel to each member of Congress in 2001. For the Decade program, the founder of Ribbon International Justine Merritt and Michelle Peppers journeyed to Vatican City and presented a peace ribbon to Pope John Paul II. The Values Caucus of NGO's and the United Religious Initiative made valuable contributions to the programs and follow up to the Decade meetings held at United Nations headquarters in cooperation with the Peace Caucus.

As in past programs, the Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity which represents a large indigenous international network of  Amazighan ( Berbers and Tuarags) under Helene Hagan and the Partnership for Indigenous Peoples Environment representing 240 organizations under Goodluck Diigbo continue to be involved at every step of the programs we sponsor.

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)?

The suggestion of a Culture of Peace initiative "Landscapes of Peace" and other visual materials on CD-Rom's are being suggested to the Asia Society in New York, the Indira Ghandi National Arts Center in New Delhi and other museum and arts groups for an exhibit and program in the fall of 2005 to coincide with the International Day of Peace at the United Nations. These institutions are being asked to give support and ideas to this initiative from their vast professional experience. Spontaneous models were projected by artists and visionaries at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. According to the Nation March 21, 2005, "For the first time, the World Social Forum made creative expression an integral part of its program - and there was art in the streets".

Our first "Landscape for Peace" program will involve a tour of community gardens in New York City during the NPT review conference on May 21, 2005 honoring Karl Linn, peace activist and progenitor of the community gardens and co-founder of Urban Habitat.

Postal address of organization


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chesneyshirley@yahoo.com

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Organization: Peace Action International Committee

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