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AROUND THE GLOBE


European Peace Agency

The Quaker vision of international peace and understanding is founded on the conviction that lasting peace can only be built through relationships based on respect and esteem. It is from this vision and from the actual experience of decades of Quaker work in seeking to strengthen the institutions of peace from the local to the international that we wish to propose the creation of a European Peace Agency.

The end of the Cold War in Europe has presented many new challenges to European institutions, including numerous conflicts on the continent of Europe. Such conflicts have many sources: economic, cultural, religious, ethnic. However, their existence and the additional threats that they present to European security as a whole de-mand new thinking and new capacity for preventing or limiting the effects of the outbreaks of violent conflict.

A European Peace Agency (EPA) would have as its major purpose the developing and strengthening of the capacity of communities and institutions to respond appropriately to threatened or actual outbreak of violent conflict and to build new relationships between peoples in conflict.

The EPA would serve a range of specific functions:
1) to enhance the knowledge and understanding of potential violent conflicts in Europe by drawing on available centres of expertise and in channeling this information to appropriate bodies;
2) to support and enhance the preparation of individuals and groups in the area of conflict resolution/transfor-mation;
3) to enable appropriate governmental and non-governmental conflict prevention and peace-building initiatives in conflict settings, from the grassroots up to the national and European levels.

These functions of a European Peace Agency would substantially enhance the capacity of the European Union to respond effectively and in a timely manner to threats to European security without resorting to military intervention. It would be expected, for example, to strengthen the civilian role in peacekeeping operations.

The European Peace Agency would seek actively to work along side other agencies and institutions such as the Organisation for Security and Cooper-ation in Europe which are concerned with peace and security in Europe and act on a European-wide basis. But the EPA would be ultimately responsible to the European Union. Its work can be seen to complement and build upon a range of other EU initiatives seeking to support local capacity-building and the strengthening of civil society.

Around Europe, April 1997


World Court Nuclear Weapons Decision Begins to Bite

The July 1996 decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ-also known as the World Court) that the "threat or use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law" and that "there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects" is already bringing important results.

In separate cases in Belgium, Scotland and Germany peace activists charged with illegally entering military premises successfully used the ICJ verdict to win acquittal. Numerous government figures in Canada, England, Malaysia and Sweden as well as in the UN General Assembly have indicated their support for the ICJ decision through public statements and the passing of disarmament legislation.

Several other important nuclear abolition initiatives which reinforce the ICJ decision have been launched in the past year. One of these is the Canberra Commission Report in Australia which, in addition to rebutting justifications for nuclear arsenals, argues that eliminating nuclear weapons is the nuclear states' best security option. Australia formally presented the Report to the United Nations General Assembly on September 30, 1996 and transmitted it to the agenda of the Disarmament Commission in Geneva for debate.

On December 5, 1996, a statement calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons was published in London, signed by more than 60 generals and admirals. The statement proposes cuts in nuclear stockpiles and taking those that remain gradually off alert. It declares that the world must work towards nuclear weapons' total elimination.

The statement concludes with the words, "We have been presented with a challenge of the highest historical importance: the creation of a nuclear-free world. "

"The end of the Cold War makes it possible. The dangers of proliferation, terrorism and new nuclear arms race render it necessary. We must not fail to seize our opportunity. There is no alternative."

Coming from those who know best what nuclear war would mean, this is professional advice to which even politicians will have to pay attention.

Taken from an article by Alan Wilkie, Reconciliation International, Feb 1997

Declaration of Guilt of Churches in Rwandan Protestant Council of Churches
Women and Men are "Accomplices to the Disgrace"

The Protestant churches in Rwanda have for the first time issued an acknowledgement of guilt on account of the genocide of three years ago. Churchwomen and men have been "accomplices to the disgrace", it was stated in a declaration of the Rwandan Protestant Council of Churches, published at the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 13 March 1997. They had either behaved passively or been openly party to the crimes, while justifying atrocities to innocent people.

In the April 1994 massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus by extremist Hutus, at least half a million people were killed. The declaration deplored the fact that after the genocide the churches behaved as if nothing had happened even though repentance, request for forgiveness and reparations were needed.

The statement arose from a seminar of the Rwandan Council of Churches (RCC) held in Kigali 3-7 March. The number of Protestants in the East African country was estimated at around 10 percent of the population. The majority are members of the RCC.

"Decontaminating the Memory"
In the statement it was proposed that the opportunity should be offered within church circles to the victims, the guilty and the witnesses to discover the truth about the past and to "decontaminate the memory". Any racial ideology that might hinder the reconciliation of Rwandans would be condemned .

The RCC appealed to the national and international media to dismantle the "ethnic pillory" of Hutu and Tutsi, since this vocabulary, fostered in colonial times, had shown itself to be a deadly weapon. Genevičve Jacques, who attended the seminar on behalf of WCC, warned the Rwandans on her return against throwing themselves into "rushed reconciliation and hasty forgiveness". Reconciliation could only be found at the end of a long path, for after three years the wounds are still too deep.

The genocide has been the consequence of the long-standing ideology of ethnic division which cannot be quickly overcome. "Millions are still traumatised", emphasised Jacques. In particular women and children who make up 70 percent of the population are dependent on the help and understanding of the international community.

epd-Wochenspiegel 12/1997, 20.3.97
translation: Richard Lawry

United Nations Concerned about Ethnic Violence

The UN Human Rights observers in Rwanda are, according to their own statements, extremely concerned about increasing attacks on Tutsis by members of the former Rwandan Hutu army. The UN Observers Commission reported in Geneva on 4 April that in the first three months of this year 73 people are said to have been murdered for ethnic reasons, either because they were taken to be Tutsis or because they were witnesses of massacres of Tutsis by Hutus in April 1994.
According to the statements on 18 May, one of the worst cases occurred in the eastern Kibuye prefecture, when 15 men wearing the uniform of the former Rwandan army attacked a school. Six pupils in one classroom and a watchman were shot or killed by grenade. 20 pupils were wounded.

epd-Wochenspiegel 15/1997, 10.4.97
translation: Richard Lawry


"Peace to the City" Campaign
by Rev. Dr. Sam Kobia

Following is a short introduction to the World Council of Churches' (WCC) new campaign "Peace to the City"

As you know, the WCC Central Committee meeting in 1995, called the year-old Programme to Overcome Violence (POV) to focus on "building a culture of peace through practical means to overcome at different levels of society, and encouraging the churches to play a leading role in using non-violent means". It also asked the Unit III to organise a consultation in this light to give further shape to it. The recommendations were approved by last month's WCC Central Committee meeting, which launched the "Peace to the City" campaign as a means of carrying out the previous recommen-dations while focusing attention on the POV in the period up to the VIIIth General Assembly of the WCC.


Through this global initiative we hope to highlight the work of churches, groups and movements active in transforming a culture of violence to a culture of peace. Through this practical and exciting methodology, we plan to bring together stories, concrete experiences of overcoming violence. Experiences that can offer alternatives and provide a new thinking to our member churches as they confront the growing tide of violence.

The WCC Central Committee meeting in 1995 started that "the POV can only succeed to the degree that member churches also give it priority in their own work". At a time when violence is disrupting human relationships, tearing societies apart the churches' voice to say a clear NO is needed. Through the "Peace to the City" campaign we hope to initiate a global movement, encourage and facilitate networks of mutual exchanges.

This is also an invitation for you to be part of it. If you, your church or organisation is involved in specific substantial work in peace building and commitments of justice and you would like to be part of this campaign, write to us immediately at the WCC - Programme to Overcome Violence to the attention of Ms Salpy Eskidjian at the address listed below.

Through the POV, we hope to work in a concerted manner to raise the consciousness of the ecumenical movement to the urgency of peace concerns.

Looking forward to your involvement in this bold initiative.

Mr. Kobia is Executive Director of WCC Unit III (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation).

Please send your responses to:
Salpy Eskidjian
WCC/Unit III
Programme to Overcome Violence
P.O. Box 2100
CH-1211 Geneva 2
Fax: +41 22 791 0361
E-mail: sal@wcc-coe.org


Seminar in Civilian Conflict Resolution Supported by German Government

A four month-long training session in civilian conflict resolution began in April 1997 in Germany. It is the first such training session supported by the government of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Participants are over 23 years of age, have significant professional and life experiences and have a contract of at least a year with an organisation working in conflict resolution with a partner group in another country. The partner groups are located predominately in the former Yugoslavia.

Areas of focus include
i) protection of human rights,
ii) work with women, youth and refugees,
iii) enabling feuding ethnic groups to live together,
iv) reconstruction and
v) war trauma counselling.

Approximately 20 persons from Germany, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia were expected to participate. They will be sponsored by 10 different organisations which have been involved in many different areas of peace work since the beginning of the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Organisations sponsoring the training sessions are the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Dienst für Frieden (AGDF) in Bonn, the Bund für soziale Verteidigung (BSV) in Minden and the Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst (Forum ZFD) in Minden. The Kurve Wustrow, the Bildungs- und Begägnungsstätte für gewaltfreie Aktion in Wustrow and BVS will be leading the training sessions.

The training is being financed by a grant from the state North Rhine-Westphalia and by the partner groups sponsoring the work on-location as well as the ADGF, the BVS and the Forum ZFD.

The sponsoring organisations judge this training session to be an important step towards establishing a more defined education in conflict resolution. In discussion concerning professional peacemakers and the introduction of civilian peace service, an education in conflict resolution is requested more and more often in both church and secular circles but up until this point had not been possible due to insufficient resources.

The training session will consist of a four-week language course at the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklungs-hilfe (AGEH) in Cologne, an 11-week basic training course sponsored by the AGDF, the BVS and the Forum and a two-week study course at the various project locations.

Topics of the basic training course include
i) the background of the war in the former Yugoslavia,
ii) the key principles of non-violence,
iii) conflict resolution,
iv) local culture,
v) human rights,
vi) collaborative work with target groups,
vii) working with governmental and non-governmental organisations,
viii) gender roles,
ix) motivation for taking part in the course,
x) working in groups and
xi) the media.

Presse-Meldung
translation: trm


EKD Synod Resolutions Concerning Christian Peace Services
by Ulrich Frey

Following is a letter dated 7 November 1996 from the executive secretary of Aktionsgemeinschaft Dienst für den Frieden -AGDF (Association for Peace Services) to the AGDF administrative committee and members. Church and Peace is a member of the AGDF.

At its conference in Borkum on November 6, 1996, the synod of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) passed, by a majority vote, the following resolutions intended to enable the development of Christian peace services:

1. The Synod supports the Council's assessment that "the continuity of and commitment to the churches' peace witness and peace services must be maintained in dealing with the new challenges which arise" (Osnabrück 1993). Thus the Synod welcomes the report concerning "The Future of Christian Peace Services". The Synod agrees that the report includes an accurate description of the current challenges. The report's proposals have as a goal the further development of the churches' peace services.

2. The Synod requests that the Council provide the member churches with a copy of the report and request their support and participation.

3. The Synod supports the Council's intention to undertake the first of many steps to implement the proposals of the report. The development of peace services and education/further education should be priorities.

4. More intensified co-operation between existing peace services, the EKD and other church organisations and sponsors should be striven for. The Council should appoint a knowledgeable working group for the purpose of technical advisory.

5. Necessary additional funding must be gathered from various governmental and church sources. The EKD budget should be examined to determine to what extent a reasonable share could be designated for this purpose. The member churches should be requested to share in the financing. The member churches and the Military Counselling Advisory Committee are to explore whether funds from the area Protestant Military Counselling/ Soldiers' Church Tax could be used for Peace Services. Financial involvement from the EKD for peace work and peace service is welcomed and should be continued and strengthened.

........

We are communicating these resolutions immediately following the Borkum conference because of their significance for members and the AGDF in general.

The Synod also passed the following conclusion by a majority vote:

The Synod feels that it is extremely urgent that the article on civilian, non-violent conflict resolution for the purpose of ensuring and furthering peace be made politically and legally viable. The initiative for "civil peace service" serves this purpose and is welcomed by the Synod. The Synod regrets that efforts to implement this initiative have been delayed and hopes that the difficulties which have arisen can be resolved in the near future. The Synod requests that the Council intensify its efforts to implement civil peace service.

translation: trm