U.S. DEPARTMENT OF PEACE CAMPAIGN: The U.S campaign made significant progress in recent months on many levels.
Right after the election of President Obama, the idea of creating a Secretary of Peace was voted #2 of the top ten “Ideas for Change in America” national on-line survey. Through our efficiently oiled network, we were able to register 15,093 supporters cross-country. The top 10 were presented to the Obama administration in January (www.change.org/ideas?order=top#listSection). Our campaign has succeeded in creating an organized space into which President Obama can now step and lead. The possibilities are enormous!
The Department of Peace legislation (HR 808) was reintroduced in Congress by Representative Dennis Kucinich on February 3, with 64 initial co-sponsors. It was revised slightly & tightened up to be more strong science, with metric references and with 85% of all funding to be spent on violence reduction in the U.S. itself. We are finding this shift to be popular with the U.S. public who are worried about the U.S. economy above all else. This new legislative focus will function as an economic stimulus for the communities that need it most. The wording “Nonviolence” was omitted from its title. For text of the new legislation, see http://www.thepeacealliance.org/content/view/658/23/.
We are gearing up now for our upcoming March 20-23 national lobbying Conference to promote the legislation and inspire civic activism. The theme is “Peace Within Reach: People and Politics Partnering for Our Common Security” — with keynotes such as Riane Eisler, Swami Beyondananda, Ocean Robbins and our own Rita Marie Johnson. We are proud to host it with the Student Peace Alliance as a youth-adult partnership. See http://www.thepeacealliance.org/content/view/605/147/.
Our Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns October 21’08 Workshop “Is Peace a Human Right” event was very well-received. See below write-up for details.
When Peace Partnership International ceased operation in December, Anne Creter was honored to become Alternate UN Representative for “Operation Peace Through Unity” (OPTU), a New Zealand-based NGO founded in Sweden in 1975 by Gita and Anthony Brooke. For details, visit the OPTU website @ http://www.peacethroughunity.info/. OPTU has been a major part of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace movement. This is a perfect partnership because OPTU’s long-time UN Representative, Iris Spellings, has already been co-chairing the “Culture of Peace” Working Group at UN headquarters with Anne for a number of years now and together, co- leading the UN Resolution for Ministries & Departments of Peace Project.
The draft UN Ministry and Department of Peace Resolution was revised on December 4 to reflect. UN parlance and is now being further revised. Once the “Culture of Peace” Working Group gets internal consensus, it will be shared with a wider audience for additional participatory word-crafting. A final version will be ready for the ’09 Costa Rica Summit, so we can then begin the next step — a focused lobbying campaign with the UN Ambassadors in 2010.
Maggi Koren has also been working at a different level to help realize the passage of this Resolution via the United Nations Association (UNA). It is a grassroots effort connecting those Americans working for peace within the UNA-USA with volunteers of The Peace Alliance and vice versa. The UNA and World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a wonderful international organization supported by peace builders and civil society in many of our respective countries. At the local grassroots level, the youth are very much at the forefront of the work done at the Northern California UNA-USA Chapters especially, since the Model UN was set up. Maggi is interested in connecting the High School Students (and their families) of both The Student Peace Alliance and the Model UN at a local level, and so all across the country. When they get together to share the experiences of their respective conferences and their focus of becoming “Peace Professionals” we shall have a new and thriving network.
Many countries are already involved in their respective UNAs and WFUNAs but it would be super if the GA members of mfp-dop were to make a conscious effort to connect and collaborate with them because we are obviously on the same path. When we join our local UNAs and offer support in their work and the Model UN, we shall also be at the receiving end and garner even more support to help us get this key Resolution passed by the General Assembly. In turn this shall make our work more visible in the world, create more country campaigns and more success stories — such as Manish Thapa’s work creating The Department of Peace and Reconstruction in Nepal and the soon to be Ministry of Justice and Peace in Costa Rica which Rita Marie Johnson has long strived for. They are just two of our special heroes who show us “The Power of One.”
Anne Creter & Maggi Koren
U.S. “Peace Alliance” Department of Peace Campaign
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