CANADIAN PEACE INITIATIVE MISSION, VISION AND CHARTER OF PRINCIPLES
Janet Hudgins, who is one of the peace educators in B.C. working on a B.C. Provincial Education Conference, asked me if the Canadian Peace Initiative has a formalized mission. My response follows. This has opened the door to a significant discussion that I think we should have on the CPIdiscussion email listserver and at the upcoming National Peace Education Conference (November 20 - 24, 2003 at McMaster University). It is a lot to read, but I urge you to consider it in the process of advancing the Canadian Peace Initiative and effectively a Canadian National Culture of Peace Program.
Thank you for your consideration,
Please bear with me as I walk you through a rather long response to your question, because the short answer is that we have not discussed it yet and the longer response may help move things forward (which it is time that we should do).
1. I have proposed (March 1999) the following Vision of a National Culture of Peace Program for consideration, and this is what has guided my personal efforts in peacebuilding and peace education (and how I define peace as something relative, not absolute):
A Peace Vision: To significantly reduce the human cost of violence, within
our country and our world.
You can read my proposal for a National Culture of Peace Program at http://www.peace.ca/copp.htm . (Note - a lot of people will indicate that peace is more than this, however I personally need something simple that I can get my head around and act upon. Peace, conflict and violence is a complex issue - a "problem of convergence": that is why it has not been successfully resolved to date - I submit that we must break it down into smaller steps to act on. The above mission is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely - i.e. "SMART".)
2. To try to understand the "big picture" of how to achieve this mission, I wrote an article called "Macropeace: The Big Picture" at http://www.peace.ca/macropeace.htm . The importance of this article, to me, is placing Peace Psychology and Peace Education at the heart of achieving peace (as I define it in #1 above). This is consistent with the UNESCO motto, "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." It also addresses (or should I say introduces) peace, conflict and violence awareness, literacy, ignorance, informatics, knowledge (as power), competency education, leadership, capacity, resources, praxis or service learning, etc., etc.
3. CPI started with a presentation that I made at CPREA in June 2000 called "Visions of a Canadian Peace Institute" - see http://www.peace.ca/visionsofacdnpeaceinst.htm - this shows you what I was thinking for guidance. If someone refers to CPI as a Canadian Peace Institute, this is where I would start in describing a proposed mission, values, etc. This Vision and Modelling Education in a Culture of Peace has evolved with an article that I wrote in January 2003 at http://www.peace.ca/modellingpeaceeducation.htm (and is the subject of our Workshop on November 21, 2003 at the National Conference). A Canadian Peace Institute has effectively been put on hold while we dialogue about what Education in a Culture of Peace might look like, and while we dialogue a more holistic Canadian Peace Initiative.
4. CPI has actually evolved a second reference as a Canadian Peace Initiative (a term, as I recall, Dr. Sue McGregor originally put forward in the context that it had been an idea previously 'floated') - something "bigger" and I would describe it as more philosophical as compared to the more specific Canadian Peace Institute. This is probably in keeping with a Culture of Peace which includes many ways of achieving peaceful ends, rather than being more specifically prescriptive. It is a path we needed to travel before we could "specify a Canadian Peace Institute" (if that is even required). What peace educators were saying was that we need first is more venues for communication, dialogue, networking and information dissemination, which would lead to needed leadership and capacity building. This is why the CPIdiscussion email listserver was initiated (being born out of the CPREA email listserver), and an Annual Peace Education Conference in Canada was initiated in November 2002. Peace educators were also saying not to duplicate existing resources, programs or institutions; work in unity; partnering; etc., etc.
5. It is timely for the Canadian Peace Initiative to consider a mission and guidelines. In doing this, I would suggest referring to the World Social Forum Charter of Principles at http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/main.asp?id_menu=4&cd_language=2 . I believe that we could use this as a starting point and expeditiously tailor it to a Canadian vision of a Canadian Peace Initiative. This charter is "based on the horizontal network philosophy instead of authoritarian behaviours and structures, and seems to be more effective than the traditional ways of building a real popular power capable of changing the world. One of the main principles of this Charter establishes that the WSF will not have a final document. Such a document would have to be voted on (we would have to ask: how, by whom, on the basis of which representation?), and would reduce and impoverish the content of discussions that took place during the WSF. The WSF final document is the sum of all the final documents from workshops and panels presented after their discussions at the WSF. A second important principle refers to the openness of the WSF, respecting individual diversity and the rhythm of each one. That is why an important space is given to participants to freely organize workshops, and why they are as important as the official program. And also that is why so many participants are drawn to the WSF: they can show what they are doing, share experiences, learn, articulate their actions to a global audience and without having to obey orders and chief. This has led to the establishment, in the Charter, of the idea that nobody can speak on behalf of the WSF itself. The WSF Charter of Principles is the only 'law' to be obeyed by people who want to organize Social Forums around the world. But WSF organizers expect the Charter to be followed to ensure the continuity of the process. No other documents can be used as guidance in Social Forums that are organized as part of the WSF process, since such documents might limit or direct the discussions based on the choices of their authors." [excerpted from 'WSF: Getting it in writing' by Francisco Whitaker]
6. The motto of the World Social Forum is "Another World Is Possible". That is a step in the direction of a statement of mission (however, "Is Possible" makes it somewhat tentative to me). I would suggest that a Canadian Peace Initiative mission worth considering is "To Help Build A More Peaceful, Non-violent World, at home and abroad" (noting that, integrally, Canada will never be at peace until the world is at 'relative' peace; also note that my definition of peace particularly stresses the need to address long-term structural/systemic violence originally defined by Dr. Johan Galtung, not just direct violence). I would further suggest that a Canadian Peace Initiative vision worth considering is "To significantly reduce the human cost of violence, within our country and our world".
7. To initiate a discussion on a possible Canadian Peace Initiative Charter of Principles, at the end of this message I copy a draft based on the WSF Charter with minimal changes. I would propose that this draft be put on the table for discussion at our upcoming Annual Peace Education Conference in Canada, during the Town Hall #4 (Sunday, November 23) and the Action Planning Workshop (Monday, November 24).
I look forward to discussion, feedback and suggestions.
ANNUAL PEACE EDUCATION CONFERENCE IN CANADA http://www.peace.ca/CanadianAgenda2003.htm
"The world is dangerous not because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything." - Albert Einstein
WHAT FUTURE WILL YOU CREATE?
Draft - November 4, 2003
Canadian Peace Initiative Charter of Principles
Canadian peace educators consider it necessary and legitimate to draw up a Charter of Principles to guide the continued pursuit of the Canadian Peace Initiative. While the principles contained in this Charter - to be respected by all those who wish to take part in the process and to organize new editions of the Canadian Peace Initiative - are a consolidation of past discussions, they extend the reach of those discussions and define orientations that flow from their logic.
1. The Canadian Peace Initiative is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to violence (direct and structural), and are committed to building a more peaceful and non-violent planetary society.
2. The Canadian Peace Initiative, in the certainty proclaimed in its mission "To Help Build A More Peaceful, Non-violent World, at home and abroad", and in its vision "To significantly reduce the human cost of violence, within our country and our world", becomes a permanent process of seeking and building alternatives, which cannot be reduced to the events supporting it.
3. The Canadian Peace Initiative is a national process, with international connectedness. All the meetings that are held as part of this process have local, national and international dimensions.
4. The alternatives proposed by the Canadian Peace Initiative stand in opposition to violence of any sort, direct and structural. They are designed to ensure that a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World in solidarity, and as promoted by the United Nations, will prevail as a new stage in world history. This will respect universal human rights, and those of all citizens - men and women - of all nations and the environment and will rest on democratic international systems, laws and institutions at the service of social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples.
5. The Canadian Peace Initiative brings together and interlinks, on an inclusive basis, organizations and movements from across Canada who wish to help build a more peaceful, non-violent world, but intends neither to be a body representing Canadian civil society.
6. The meetings of the Canadian Peace Initiative do not deliberate on behalf of the Canadian Peace Initiative as a body. No-one, therefore, will be authorized, on behalf of any of the editions of the Initiative, to express positions claiming to be those of all its participants. The participants in the Initiative shall not be called on to take decisions as a body, whether by vote or acclamation, on declarations or proposals for action that would commit all, or the majority, of them and that propose to be taken as establishing positions of the Initiative as a body. It thus does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the participants in its meetings, nor does it intend to constitute the only option for interrelation and action by the organizations and movements that participate in it.
7. Nonetheless, organizations or groups of organizations that participate in the Initiative's meetings must be assured the right, during such meetings, to deliberate on declarations or actions they may decide on, whether singly or in coordination with other participants. The Canadian Peace Initiative undertakes to circulate such decisions widely by the means at its disposal, without directing, hierarchizing, censuring or restricting them, but as deliberations of the organizations or groups of organizations that made the decisions.
8. The Canadian Peace Initiative is a plural, diversified, non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party context that, in a decentralized fashion, interrelates organizations and movements engaged in concrete action at levels from the local to the international to built a more peaceful, non-violent world.
9. The Canadian Peace Initiative will always be a forum open to pluralism and to the diversity of activities and ways of engaging of the organizations and movements that decide to participate in it, as well as the diversity of genders, ethnicities, cultures, generations and physical capacities, providing they abide by this Charter of Principles. In the interest of inclusiveness, Party representations, military and policing organizations, Government leaders, members of legislatures, government officials, business people and generally anyone who accept the commitments of this Charter may be invited to participate in a personal capacity.
10. The Canadian Peace Initiative is opposed to all totalitarian and reductionist views of economy, development and history and to the use of violence as a means of social control by the State. It upholds respect for Human Rights, the practices of real democracy, participatory democracy, peaceful relations, in equality and solidarity, among people, ethnicities, genders and peoples, and condemns all forms of domination and all subjection of one person by another.
11. As a forum for debate, the Canadian Peace Initiative is a movement of ideas that prompts reflection, and the transparent circulation of the results of that reflection, on the mechanisms and instruments of domination by capital, on means and actions to resist and overcome that domination, and on the alternatives proposed to solve the problems of exclusion and social inequality that the process of capitalist globalization with its racist, sexist and environmentally destructive dimensions is creating internationally and within countries.
12. As a framework for the exchange of experiences, the Canadian Peace Initiative encourages understanding and mutual recognition among its participant organizations and movements, and places special value on the exchange among them, particularly on all that society is building to centre economic activity and political action on meeting the needs of people and respecting nature, in the present and for future generations.
13. As a context for interrelations, the Canadian Peace Initiative seeks to strengthen and create new national and international links among organizations and movements of society, that - in both public and private life - will increase the capacity for non-violent social resistance to the process of dehumanization the world is undergoing and to the violence used by the State, and reinforce the humanizing measures being taken by the action of these movements and organizations.
14. The Canadian Peace Initiative is a process that encourages its participant organizations and movements to situate their actions, from the local level to the national level and seeking active participation in international contexts, as issues of planetary citizenship, and to introduce onto the global agenda the change-inducing practices that they are experimenting in building a more peaceful and non-violent world in solidarity.
Respectfully submitted for consideration for the purposes of discussion by Robert Stewart, on November 4, 2003. Tailored with initial minimum changes from the World Social Forum Charter of Principles at http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/main.asp?id_menu=4&cd_language=2