Costa Rica 2009
Summary of the Fourth Summit of the Global Alliance
for Ministries and Departments of Peace
Costa Rica, 17-21 September 2009
The Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace (GA) is a worldwide movement of grassroots activists and government officials calling for structures in government and civil society in all nations to support cultures of peace around the world. Specific focus is on cabinet-level ministries and departments of peace in government and on national academies of peace in education. Three countries currently have such cabinet-level ministries: the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction in Nepal; the Ministry of Peace, National Unity, and Reconciliation in the Solomon Islands; and the Ministry of Justice and Peace in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s Ministry is the latest to be established, with the legislation passing the National Assembly unanimously in August 2009 and President Oscar Arias signing it into law the following month, just prior to the opening of the Fourth Global Alliance Summit.
The GA began in October 2005 at its First Summit, which was held in London, United Kingdom, and attended by 40 people from 12 countries. The Second Summit took place in June 2006 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with 60 people from 18 countries in attendance. The Third Summit was held in September 2007 in Kisarazu, Japan, with 50 people participating from 21 countries.
The GA’s Fourth Summit, the subject of this report, took place 17-22 September 2009 in Brasil de Mora, Costa Rica. Notably, this was the first GA Summit to be officially hosted by the government of the host country. Further, it was the largest Summit in the GA’s history, being attended by over 100 people from 22 countries. On one of its program days, Learning Day, Summit participation grew to over 200, with 100 students representing 20 additional countries, who attended from area universities and colleges.
The Summit Opening Ceremony featured an address by the President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias, followed by a four-day program including two days exploring strategic Next Steps for the maturing GA, a Learning Day, and a full-day plenary dedicated to civil society and government cooperation toward infrastructures for peace. The Summit culminated with a packed-house Closing Ceremony at the National Theatre in San José, where 800 people celebrated peace with spectacular musical performances and speeches by civil society and government leaders, most notably the new Minister of Justice and Peace.
This report details the highlights and outcomes of the Fourth GA Summit, as a memento for Summit participants and a knowledge piece for those interested in joining the GA or reporting on its work for academic, press, and/or other publications. Further information, including papers, program notes, blog comments, photos, and personal reflections is available at www.mfp-dop.org.
Why Costa Rica
As the fourth international Summit in Global Alliance history, Costa Rica was selected to host the biannual event as a reflection of the country’s reputation as a role model for peace, complemented by the recent in-country advocacy work of member organization, the Rasur Foundation. Costa Rica’s contemporary peace history boasts over 100 years of democratic government, the enduring abolition of the national armed forces in 1948, no formal international military defense arrangement, and a Nobel Peace Laureate as its former and current president. In August 2009, after six years of lobbying by the Rasur Foundation, Costa Rica passed a bill to establish the national Ministry of Justice and Peace.
Given Costa Rica’s dedication to and reputation for peace, former Minister of Justice Laura Chinchilla presented the Rasur Foundation with a letter of intent for the Costa Rican government to officially host the 2009 Global Alliance Summit–the first national government in international peace history to host a Summit of its kind. With the Rasur Foundation as the local facilitating organization in Costa Rica, Summit planners collaborated with an international planning team comprised of current GA members, and in cooperation with Costa Rican civil society and government leaders, most notably the Ministry of Justice and the newly established alliance of non-governmental organizations for peace.
21 September 2009
The 4th Global Alliance (GA) Summit was a resounding success with, at various times during the Summit, as many as 200 participants attending from more than 40 countries, enhanced by a live streaming video link to the world. The Summit was inspired by Costa Rica’s declaration, earlier this month, of a Minister of Justice and Peace, making it the third country in the world to have such a Ministry. The President of Costa Rica, Dr. Oscar Arias, addressed the opening of the Summit, and told us that:
“The task is only just starting; the creation of a Ministry for Peace…is not the final achievement, merely the making of a road to achieve sustainable order that would allow resolution of human conflicts without violence.”
The mission of the GA is to support the establishment of Ministries and Departments of Peace in all nations. The Summit, in order to prepare itself to work with governments to build national infrastructures for peace, heard from experts in the fields of: Unarmed Civilian Peace Services and Youth Engagement in Peacebuilding; Academies for Peace, Restorative Justice Practices; Peace Economics; Innovation in the Use of Media; Nuclear and General Disarmament; Civil Society and Government Cooperation; and, Networking with the UN and Business.
The GA also established strategic direction and an action plan for its next phase and formed a dynamic Interim Leadership Council, with membership from six continents, to carry its mission forward, partner with other international sister organizations, and plan its next Summit.
Rita Marie Johnson of the Rasur Foundation in Costa Rica, Summit convener, summed up the achievement of the Summit, stating, “The GA members embodied peace as they took a quantum leap toward national peace infrastructures by presenting a detailed picture of hope for the world. We know what to do and we will do it – together in the name of peace.”
The Summit concluded with a determination to witness the formation of at least two more Ministries or Departments of Peace by the time of the next Summit, to be held in 2011.