United Kingdom 2005
REPORT FROM LONDON: THE FIRST PEOPLE’S SUMMIT FOR DEPARTMENTS OF PEACE
October 18-19, 2005
Forty people from twelve countries took time from their busy lives and invested their energy and
resources to attend. The countries represented included Australia, Canada, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Netherlands, Palestine, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States of America. In addition, written support was received from political leaders in Australia, Nepal, Nigeria, Japan, and Uganda, including:
- Senator Lyn Allison, Leader of the Australian Democrats
- Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Australian Democrats
- Hon. Dr. Arthur Chesterfield-Evans MP, MLC State Leader of the Australian Democrats
- Hon. Oryem Henry Okello, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/International Affairs of Uganda
- Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor, City of Hiroshima, Japan
- Development, Nepal Homrajdahal, former MP and President, Center for Conflict Resolution, Peace, and
Presently, five of these countries have working groups conducting campaigns for ministries or departments of peace: Australia, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States.
It was good to talk about the organizational structure of our campaign in the U.S., the recent conference in DC, our successes and challenges, and to receive such a positive response from many who are struggling to understand the present policies and actions of the United States. Our campaign was recognized as an inspiration and help to many in attendance at the London Summit, particularly its grassroots approach. People loved to hear stories of youth interest and involvement, and it is heartening to know that youth are becoming involved all over the world. It gives one hope.
On the final day of the Summit, the participants launched an on-going partnership for global action, called the People’s Initiative for Departments of Peace. The London Summit then concluded with a public meeting in the Grand Committee Room in the Houses of Parliament,
hosted by John McDonnell MP and emceed by Diana Basterfield, co-founder of UK ministry
for peace. The event opened with video greetings from Congressman Dennis Kucinich and
Marianne Williamson, and Dot Maver spoke on behalf of The Peace Alliance. Canada’s representative, Saul Arbess, shared the Canadian working group’s perspective. John McDonnell MP then articulated clearly the urgent need for departments and ministries of peace in order
to provide a governmental infrastructure — an institutional space — for dialogue on peaceful resolution of conflict to take place.
Dot answered some highly pointed questions from the audience about various aspects of U.S. policy by acknowledging the pain expressed and offering hope by saying that many people in the United States and around the world share that pain and sense of urgency, and
reframing the situation in relation to the need to create infrastructures for peace based on the peacebuilding and conflict transformation efforts and resources already underway and available around the world.
Other speakers included Yumi Kikuchi from Japan, Kai Brand-Jacobsen from Transcend in Romania (who provided the training and facilitated the Summit), Paul van Tongeren from the Netherlands, and Jo Berry, who has been a spokesperson for forgiveness and reconciliation ever since her father (a former Tory MP) was killed by IRA terrorists 20 years ago.
Summit participants representing each country stood in the front of the room, and Zoughbi Zoughbi from Palestine and Shiri Barr from Israel stood side by side and spoke on behalf of the international initiative, both asking us to not give up hope and expressing their gratitude and joy to be standing together calling for peace. Dot read aloud the Summit’s Declaration (see below) launching the People’s Initiative for Departments of Peace and presented it to John McDonnell MP, who then said he would read it into the official record of the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity.
This event marks the beginning of a new, expanding movement throughout the world for governments to organize around principles of nonviolent conflict transformation. The next Summit is planned or June 2006, in Victoria, Canada, preceding the first World Peace Forum in Vancouver, where the People’s Initiative for Departments of Peace will offer a presentation.
There is a momentum for peace and justice that is unstoppable!
DECLARATION OF THE FIRST PEOPLE’S SUMMIT FOR DEPARTMENTS OF PEACE
Today, we announce the launch of an international initiative for the creation of Departments of Peace in governments throughout the world.
Violence of all kinds is increasing. There is an urgent need to find responsible solutions, expanding on past and present peace-building successes.
This international initiative will both provide resources and support for existing national Department of Peace campaigns, and assist new ones as they appear in other countries.
While the exact role of the department will differ in each country, its basic functions will be the same:
- To foster a culture of peace;
- To research, articulate and help bring about non-violent solutions to conflicts at all levels; and
- To provide resources for training in peace-building and conflict transformation to people everywhere.
We, the undersigned, joyfully vow to support and encourage each other, to share information, to enrich each other’s experience, to listen to one another and to celebrate our commonalities and differences in our journey together towards a culture of peace.
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