During the course of the work that I’ve done as part of my Masters course, especially in peace-building, there has been an emphasis on the importance of relationships and providing opportunities and spaces for these to grow and flower in a positive and constructive way. I believe, and am very hopeful, that this Global Truce Coalition can very much help to further that process.
It is, in itself, a coming-together of a number of organisations with a similar goal: to improve the lives of all people, and especially the most vulnerable, by working to reduce and eliminate conflict of all kinds.
By working together, the whole can have a far greater reach and more effectively carry out the individual mission of each part where it is needed. Furthermore, the idea behind Peace One Day – that if we can all work together to achieve one day of non-violence, then we have taken the first steps towards a global community where conflict in all forms can be reduced or even eradicated – can only reach a wider audience and inspire the hope that is necessary for such an undertaking.
I wish the Global Truce 2012 NGO Coalition every success in achieving its goals.
Other points mentioned during the launch:
- Conflict (along with disease and lack of food, which are connected to war) affect the vulnerable members of society most – the children. Peace Day is used very effectively to try to work against the spread of disease, especially among the young.
- Peace work is often met with reluctance from governments – this is where NGOs can step in, with the benefit of them having a great passion for doing this.
- Peace is justice, equality and freedom for all – conflict has to be managed.
- Skepticism and cynicism are the biggest hindrance when it comes to the hope for peace – people can do it (reduce conflict) and we can help to foster that hope.
- Peace has to be locally owned (something that’s also come up on my course) – the most effective peace happens when local communities take matters into their own hands and set up their own local government which they feel is legitimate and can be respected. The communities can take control of their own destiny and this makes the hope of peace a reality. There’s something in there about empowerment.
- Transitional environments offer tremendous opportunities for change (heh actually wrote an essay vaguely related to this idea about the “necessity for conflict transformation”)
- People living in situations of conflict are twice as likely to be malnourished and three times as likely to be uneducated
- Securing a fragile peace, where there is violent conflict, means taking out the fuel for further conflict – the weapons and ammunition.
- Coalitions and relationships are the way forward.
- NGOs are among the most trusted organisations – governments and banks have become less trusted due to current economic and political issues, but NGOs are more trusted due to their primarily social concerns.
I can’t quite remember the question OR the responses to this one exactly (which is terribly frustrating, because at the time it was really interesting to me and is probably handy for the essay I’m working on now), but the issue of violence against women was brought up and the male-dominated nature of a lot of the organisations that deal with the various routes towards reducing conflict. I suspect I’ll have to corral my thoughts about that one and squeeze it into my essay for my course rather than blogging about it!
Emmanuel Jal mentioned that Jeremy Gilley had told him that his grandfather had been a Japanese POW during the Second World War and that part of his motivation to create Peace One Day had been that no one’s grandfather should have to go through that treatment. My own grandfather was interrogated and tortured by the Japanese soldiers in Malaysia, because they believed that he would know where his Communist brother-in-law was (he was probably hiding somewhere in the jungle, but no one knew where – including my Gua kong). It took some serious bribery from my grandmother’s mother to get him released – if he hadn’t been, then my mother wouldn’t have been born and I wouldn’t exist! The stories I’ve heard about what happened to my mother’s family while the Japanese occupied Malaysia really bring the reality of conflict close to home – while I live in the UK, war has directly touched people who I share close blood-ties with. The Second World War isn’t really something that justhappened 60 years ago to people who are elderly now for me – it’s something that happened to members of my family. And conflict still happens now, all around the world, and people suffer because of it.
But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings.
— John F. Kennedy