GLOBAL CONFERENCE FROM REACTION TO PREVENTION: CIVIL SOCIETY FORGING PARTNERSHIPS TO PREVENT VIOLENT CONFLICT AND BUILD PEACE

JULY 19 – 22, 2005

UN HEADQUARTERS , NEW YORK , U.S.

Report prepared by Robert Stewart , A/Executive Director, Canadian Culture of Peace Program

 

The Conference had over 1,000 participants from around the world.  Paul van Tongeren and the European Centre for Conflict Prevention (who took up the initiative and provide secretariat support for the Global Action Program, web site http://www.conflict-prevention.net ) are to be congratulated for organizing such a significant event.  The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the International Development Research Centre Canada (“IRDC”) are sponsors of the Global Partnership (along with 27 other international organizations and government agencies).  The Canadian liaison/regional initiator is facilitated by the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee (contact David Lord cpcc@web.ca ; web site http://www.peacebuild.ca ).

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict ("GPPAC") web site is http://www.gppac.org/

 

1. “ People Building Peace: A Global Agenda For The Prevention of Violent Conflict” was formally issued.  I strongly urge you to read the 25 page document at http://www.gppac.org/documents/GPPAC/Global_Action_Agenda/Global_Action_Agenda_final_9_June_05.pdf .  The Highlights are as follows:

‘Highlights’

Promote human security and address the root causes of conflict

…Prevention and sustainable peacebuilding are necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals; fulfilling these goals can, in turn, address some of the root causes of conflict and promote human security.

…Implement demilitarization, disarmament and resettlement processes to reduce tensions and the likelihood of inter-state armed conflicts.

…Provide sustained support for coherent and locally tailored post-war reconstruction.

…Generate cultures of peace from the grassroots up by mainstreaming peace education, cultivating conflict resolution life skills and promoting reconciliation.

 

Make prevention the fundamental goal of collective security arrangements

…Develop and implement an internationally agreed program of action for prevention and peacebuilding, starting with high-level consultations with GPPAC regional networks to explore challenges and ways of implementing regional action agendas. 

…Integrate early warning and early response systems to maximize local knowledge and build on local capacities, complemented by effective engagement of national, regional and international actors.

…Provide more resources, more effectively administered, for prevention and peacebuilding through coherent framework strategies and modalities that combine reliability of supply and funding for flexible rapid response initiatives.

 

Prevention and peacebuilding requires an integrated architecture of effective institutional capacities and partnerships

…Strengthen CSO capacities for prevention and peacebuilding through local, national, regional and global networks that improve accountability and effectiveness through communication, coordination and mutual assistance.

…Enhance leadership of prevention and peacebuilding efforts at the UN through a peacebuilding commission and peacebuilding support office that engages effectively with civil society, mobilize resources and enable coherent and sustained peacebuilding through information-sharing, planning and monitoring.

…Increase the capacities of regional organizations to operationalize prevention and peacebuilding in cooperation with the UN, governments and CSOs.

 

2. The North America Regional Action Agenda (along with 14 other Regional Reports) was used as input to the Global Action Agenda.  I strongly urge you to read the 20 page document at http://www.gppac.org/documents/GPPAC/Regional_Action_Agendas/NAm_RAAfinal_12April.doc 

While that document does not offer Highlights, I offer the following that I highlighted:

- The document articulates a distinction between two types of conflict prevention: structural prevention and operational prevention.

- Forceful leadership that can mobilize populations and recruit fighters must also be analyzed and addressed.

- The duty to prosecute and to condemn those undermining human security is a critical aspect of conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

- International norms and standards should apply to all and be complied with by all to enhance the security of all.

- Effective conflict prevention requires the creation of collaborative, strategic partnerships for prevention at the national, regional and international level.

- … local political support in creating a culture of peace one of the primary goals.

- Civil Society Organizations (“CSOs”) should play a leading role in fostering a culture of peace at all levels, through a worldwide, proactive and participatory program, from the classroom outwards.

- … educating policy-makers.

- … strengthen institutional capacity and practices for good governance …

- … overcome the economic and social disenfranchisement of particular communities or groups.

- “The primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with national governments, with civil society playing an important role.”

- National governments are now challenged to move from the rhetoric of prevention to its practical implementation, strengthening their political commitment…

- Local and international civil society groups must be involved at all stages…

- … develop new democratic institutions that enable direct participation of the poor and other marginalized people in meaningful decision making and action to eliminate the root causes of violent conflict.

- … funding.

- Private sector actors should critically evaluate their potential role in exacerbating or mitigating violent conflict.

- … the business community should adopt “socially responsible practices that foster a climate of peace …”

 

3. The Canadian Action Agenda on Conflict Prevention was used as input to the North America Regional Action Agenda.  I strongly urge you to read the 20 page document at http://www.peacebuild.ca/upload/CdnActionAgendaCP.pdf 

While that document does not offer Highlights, I offer the following that I highlighted:  

-          ‘The Responsibility to Protect’ report has been generally well received by civil society organizations (“CSOs”) in Canada and around the world…

-          …concerned that Canada is focusing predominantly on the development of norms for global reaction once conflict prevention has failed and not placing enough emphasis on conflict prevention.

-          … a shift in orientation toward conflict prevention in Canadian foreign policy is needed…

-          … CSOs must enhance efforts to coordinate their activities.

-          A renewal of Canada ’s commitment to peacebuilding would be a critical step … but also creating political will and capacity for early, effective and structural responses to emerging violent conflicts.

-          The creation of a position or mechanism for the purpose of coordinating policy and practice should be considered [ed – i.e. within the federal government].

-          … inclusion of CSOs …

-          … funding …

-          The Canadian foreign affairs department was said to be ‘mainstreaming’ the human security approach. … practical result was a fairly narrow approach.  … what is now required: an enlarged and integrated approach to human security as the guiding principle for domestic and foreign policy and practice.

-          Peace and conflict resolution education is one important method of entrenching human security values and contributing to the prevention of violent conflict. Community-based organizations must promote such education in school systems, and CSOs should pursue mandates by ministries of education for appropriate peace and global education at all school levels. Faculties of education should initiate teaching training in peace and global education, using the increasing number of curricula and classroom resources being developed in this field.

-          The pre-condition for building human security is freedom from fear and an indispensable element of this process is concerted action to combat both the menace of nuclear weapons and the proliferation and misuse of the weapons of violent conflict, particularly small arms and light weapons. … priority must be given to the urgent need to de-alert the 2,000 warheads currently on ‘launch-on-warning’ by both the US and Russia .

-          … law and policy must reflect an understanding that state security and human security are complimentary and mutually reinforcing.

-          Citizen participation is a central tenet at all levels of government, including citizens from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and the Federal government is experimenting with innovative approaches to strengthen citizen participation in policy processes through the Voluntary Sector Initiative. The use of the Annual Peacebuilding and Human Security Consultations, as well as government-NGO dialogues on specific country and thematic issues, offer important opportunities for public engagement in international conflict prevention policy processes.

-          … governments to strengthen institutions and practices for good governance as a key facet of conflict prevention and long-term peacebuilding activities. … should include the entrenchment of free and fair elections, accountability, transparency, citizen participation, respect for diversity, the impartial application of law, management of tensions through constructive dialogue, and the provision of basic services in an equitable manner.

-          Recognizing that many violent conflicts occur in the context of unequal access to economic and social power and resources, … must promote concrete measures to overcome the economic and social disenfranchisement of particular communities or groups.

-          … lead by example by examining critically how their own policies, practices or programs could contribute to violent conflict.

-          Recognition of the critical role of local civil society actors and municipal governments in conflict prevention and peacebuilding must be manifest in national policy and practice.

-          The Canadian government should also promote good governance through continued innovation at home, for example by providing more predictable funding to government-NGO dialogues, and by engaging in those dialogues at a more senior level and in a more continuous manner.

-          Canada has been a strong advocate and supporter of multilateral institutions, in particular the United Nations, insisting on the primacy of international law embodied in the UN Charter.

-          Learning from experience. In considering when and how to partner with governments and inter-governmental bodies, CSOs should consider the lessons learned from previous successful partnerships. These lessons include, among others: the need to define the issue clearly and develop a message that resonates as part of the humanitarian discourse; the desirability of creating a network of ‘like-minded’ governments; the importance of focusing efforts on the regional and national levels; the effectiveness of non-coercive tactics such as persuasion, communication, negotiation and organization; and the desirability of working within a coalition framework despite disagreement on particular issues.

-          National governments, including the Government of Canada, must insist on adherence to international law …

-          Delegitimization of war …

 

4. Peace Education and Conflict Resolution Education Working Group

On behalf of the Canadian Culture of Peace Program (http://www.cultureofpeace.ca ), and my work with Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace ( http://www.peace.ca ), a Canadian Peace Education Strategy and the Annual Peace Education Conference in Canada ( http://www.peace.ca/CanadianAgenda2005.htm ), this reporter ( Robert Stewart ) participated in the Peace Education and Conflict Resolution Education Working Group, which met over four days.  The purpose was:  

-          to review the state of affairs of peace education and conflict resolution education around the world

-          review how we may build a peace education and conflict resolution education community around the world

-          how we may build connections that empower for peace education and conflict resolution education around the world

-          identify contextually and culturally sensitive programs and practices

-          review how we may ‘institutionalize’ peace education and conflict resolution education around the world (i.e. how we can make it last)

A pre-reader was provided of reports from various countries on the state of affairs of peace education and conflict resolution education (which will become available on the Internet – the current draft is available at http://www.disputeresolution.ohio.gov/crecountry.htm ).

The output from this working group will feed into our next meeting at the Second Annual Conference on Conflict Resolution Education, September 28 to October 1, 2005 in Columbus , Ohio (reference  http://www.disputeresolution.ohio.gov/holddate.htm ).   We are looking for a representative of the Canadian Government to participate.

 

If you have any feedback or input for the upcoming conference, please contact Robert Stewart at stewartr@peace.ca .  All of this information will also feed into the Fourth Annual Peace Education Conference in Canada , at McMaster University November 24 – 28, 2005 ( http://www.peace.ca/CanadianAgenda2005.htm )

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict ("GPPAC") web site is http://www.gppac.org/ - check it out!!