In this month’s bulletin of CPNN we try to identify those to whom we can look for peace leadership in these turbulent times. Let us consider their actions and advice.
Let’s listen first to the new generation of youth activists.
The Panafrican Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace has provided a roadmap for actions in Gabon, which can serve as a model everywhere. It includes promotion of a culture of peace, support for the UN SR resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, and development of social enterprises for youth employment.
The Resolution 2250 is especially important because provides a link between the developing global youth movement which has taken the lead in the fight to save the climate to global warming (see blog this April ) and the United Nations which, despite its weakness at the present moment of history, is still our best hope for a future institutional base for the culture of peace (see blog on the paradox of the United Nations). Resolution 2250 was adopted as the result of several years of intensive lobbying by youth organizations for the UN to recognize and guarantee the role of youth in peacebuilding and violence prevention.
At the same time, let us also listen to “the Elders.” Mary Robinson, now President of the Elders, formerly President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, recalls the founding of their organization by Nelson Mandela in 2007. “At first I was quite skeptical. Isn’t it a bit arrogant to want to be elders for the global village. But as soon as he [Nelson Mandela] sat with us and talked, it was as if we had a mandate that was overwhelmingly important.”
The Elders continue to be involved as peacemakers around the world and to give us good advice. Most recently in Ethiopia, they have lauded efforts to establish universal health care. As stated by Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, “Health is a human right, and health workers are human rights champions.” Among other priorities identified by the Elders are the development of Green economies, the continuation of the Colombia peace process, multilateralism as now championed by China (while it seems increasingly abandoned in the West), and a solution to the terrible suffering in the Middle East by means of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
And let us listen to those who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Women’s Initiative recently brought 50 women from over 20 countries together in Monrovia, Liberia to discuss feminism, power, activism and peace. According to one of the participants, “the overarching theme was that we (women) are powerful and worthy; that we must claim our space, we must use our voice and we must not ask for permission to do so.”
One of the themes at Monrovia was the need for “self and collective care, wellbeing and healing as critical components in our struggles for rights, justice and peace. We heard from Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchú Tum on how they look after themselves and how they continue to do the work that they do. Jody mentioned how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by urgency and righteous indignation, however with time she has learned the value of granting herself personal time and space. By exposing their own humanity and vulnerability, these powerhouse women let the young people in the room know that it’s ok to not feel strong sometimes.”
Another major theme at Monrovia was the need for alliance building, tapping into different networks on a local and global scale. There was a commitment to feminist leadership, to multi-generational organising and to building communities of care.
Alliance-building was also an important theme in the work of the Panafrican Youth Network for Peace Culture; they are urged to collaborate with other youth organizations for greater synergy and social impact.
A concrete example of alliance-building comes from the plans for the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. In addition to at least 21 Nobel Laureates, the meeting expects to include representatives of the following Institutions: American Friends Service Committee, Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, International Peace Bureau, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Albert Schweizer Institute, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Amnesty International, Institute of International Law and the Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library and Museum.
The preceding themes, activism, affiliation, personal integration and world historic consciousness, correspond to steps of consciousness development identified in the survey of great peace activists described in my 1986 book, Psychology for Peace Activists. They provide a universal roadmap for the development of peace activism.
Let us continue to listen to the youth, to the women, to the Elders, to the Nobel Peace Laureates, and let us strengthen our commitment to activism, affiliation, personal integration and world historic consciousness as we work for the transition to a culture of peace !