The global order at present appears in a state of disorder from the perspective of peacebuilding, as it is increasingly buffeted by power-mongering, terrorism, jingoism and xenophobia. In this climate of insecurity the Noble Peace Laureates have met in a three-day global summit (April 23-25, 2012). They sought to rally support for their fight for human rights and global justice.
From the legacies they carry it seems so apparent that none but the Noble Laureates have the credible weight or the “moral right to speak out”, as Mikhail Gorbachev, the mastermind of the summitry of the Laureates, had said, to take the situation in hand to reinvent what peace is or perhaps how best that may be advanced in a world that is choked up in a state of rancour and peacelessness?
Such a summit, held for the first time in North America, brought eleven Nobel Peace Laureates, nine Laureate organisations and a dozen human rights organizations. Apart from the numerous peace organisations and publicists, the participants to the summit include Gorbachev, the reputed Soviet leader whose actions heralded the post-Cold War era, Frederik de Klerk, who shared with Nelson Mandela the glory of ending the apartheid era in South Africa, the unbending Dalai Lama seeking Tibetan autonomy, Lech Walesa, the anti-Communist leader of Poland's Solidarity movement, Jimmy Carter, the facilitator of the Camp David Peace Accord and a tireless peace go-between in global conflicts, and Muhammad Yunus, the father of Grameen Bank, “Bank of the Poor”. Present in the summit were also Oscar Arias Sanchez, former president of Costa Rica and Actor Sean Penn who was awarded the 2012 Peace Summit Award during the summit for his humanitarian works in Haiti.
Many others spoke against proliferation of nuclear weapons, politics of sanctions and embargoes, which make people suffer much more than the leaders against whom they are meant. Bill Clinton, a Nobel Laureate nominee for 2012, in his key note address, seemingly unmindful of his own past, spoke against “the abuse of women around the world” and pleaded for placing women in leadership positions which may make “more good things happen."
Lech Walesa warned of the threat of unsustainable economic disparities, stating that capitalism, unless improved and reformed “will not survive this century” . Barack Obama, graded as a Peace Laureate in his early presidency when he felt “humbled” being the first Afro-American to become US President, did not participate in the summit; but in a message he welcomed the Laureates to his hometown and “urged young people to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from the laureates.”
Culture of Peace
They agreed to focus on students and started out with visits to public schools in Chicago. Gorbachev stated that the group will consider making student interaction a regular part of their program. This, a step indeed in the right direction, is a replicable prescription for all who feel concerned about disseminating and transmitting the culture of peace from below.
Such a spreading of peace culture may be conceptualized and applied from the grassroots in a bottom-up planning strategy to engulf all educational institutions and be carried forward from Chicago to all American schools/institutions of learning and then on to similar places in other continents and societies worldwide. In their Final Declaration the Peace Laureates identified their key priority in the words of eminent Nobel Laureate, Martin Luther King, Jr, stating that “those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”
Such an effort to organise and propagate peace culture must run in concurrence with efforts to market peace education, create peace army/cadres, peace go-betweens, intermediaries and mediators as part of an overall effort towards development and integration. Consistent with the Laureates’ peace vision efforts must also go towards appropriate training for all concerned for the possible role assumption as blue berets, identify when and how to intervene in conflict resolution, act as firewall/fire-fighters wherever there is an outbreak of conflict or eruption of violence, enabling the role-play as peacemakers in alternative dispute resolution.
Once that learning process is in place and appropriately trained peace products are available they must be marketed for job placements in all offices, public and private/ sector organizations, and workplaces to play a role assigned to them as effective peace functionaries.
What may be crucial is to have good trainers as well as high-quality training manuals, supportive policy documents and appropriate fund allocations for both ends in view. More importantly, politicians and policymakers would be required to eschew their current preoccupation with strategic culture of getting into conflict, confrontation and warmongering, and shift their focus on peacebuilding and peace- mongering i.e. how to seek out and reach their perceived opponents.
The culture of affection and empathy is to replace the prevailing culture of fear and threat perceptions. This suggested shift from strategic culture to peace culture has to be both local and global. Such a shift involves the greatest challenge for humankind where the Nobel Laureates with their global image can have their weight to make things happen. That would indeed be the greatest positive service of the Laureates to peacebuilding.
To many peace is still an illusion, no more than a chimera; but it cannot go on like this. Organisations dedicated to peace and social harmonisation are being wrapped up in depravity, but even in an era of economic downhill spiral the strategic-war establishments are on a booming scale globally; asymmetric wars with their key features of asymmetric perceptions, asymmetric strategic retaliatory capacities and mutual slaughters are all way up in the ladder of escalation.
Only the Peace Laureates can make a difference once they place their full weight behind peacebuilding. It is time for the peace theoreticians/practitioners to concentrate on building up a framework they feel appropriate for counteracting the conflict spiral through a continuum of peacebuilding. They need to diagnose and identify the challenges ahead and spot prevailing structures of conflict/war at all different levels. They have to prove their resilience as peace doctors and/or social physicians, articulate perspectives of peacebuilding and offer the prescriptive measures necessary for promoting structures of peace that may replace conflict structures, conceivably encompass all levels of social spectrum.
Only an active alliance of Peace Laureates, peace theoreticians/practitioners full of sustained initiatives can bring about changes necessary for disseminating peace culture globally and contribute to peacebuilding if we all are to live in a more peaceable world than what is currently afforded.