REPORT FROM VICTORIA: SECOND PEOPLE’S SUMMIT FOR MINISTRIES AND DEPARTMENTS OF PEACE

June 19-22, 2006


 They came by plane, bus, car, ferry, and on foot. Sixty men and women, representing diverse cultures, nations, ages, and languages, traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, for the Second People’s Summit for Ministries and Departments of Peace held June 19-22, 2006. Speaking with one voice they called on countries around the world to establish government structures whose goal is to work hand-in-hand with civil society - reflecting, building, and sus­taining a culture of peace.

 

 Government and civil society delegates from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, India, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Palestine, the Philippines, Romania, the Solomon Islands, Spain, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States gathered at Victoria’s Royal Roads University to give birth to the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace and to pose an effective global and national architecture for peace. Delegates from Cameroon, Congo, and Sri Lanka were unable to attend due to logistical constraints.

 

In forming the Global Alliance, the Summit plenary established an inter­generational steer­ing committee and five working groups (commu­ni­ca­tions, networking, youth, research and field operations, and finance) to develop and carry out a plan of work up to the next Summit in 2007, which will be hosted by Japan. In its formal Summit Communiqué the Global Alliance affirmed its commit­ment to partner and cooperate with governments and civil society organisations nationally and globally in promoting peace by peaceful means and recognised the governments of the Philippines and the Solomon Islands, which have already established secretariats and depart­ments for peace­building, conflict transformation, and reconciliation, as pioneers and examples to the world.

 

Following the Summit, delegates traveled together to Vancouver to attend the first World Peace Forum, where the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace presented a half-day program on “Creating National Departments of Peace.” The program included an international panel of government leaders followed by a series of five related workshops. The panel was moderated by author and lecturer Marianne Williamson, chair of the Peace Alliance in the United States, and included Dr. Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, member of the legislative council of New South Wales, Australia; Fred Fakiri’i, undersecretary of the Ministry of Reconciliation, Unity, and Peace of the Solomon Islands; Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich of the United States; Timothy Al Paulus, assistant secretary for youth in the Ministry for Youth and Sports in Liberia; Franklin Quijano, of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in the Philippines; and Paul van Tongeren (the Netherlands), executive director of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict. In addition, statements were read from Senator Shokichi Kina of Japan and Senator Douglas Roche (ret.) of Canada.

 

 Manish Thapa, Coordinator of the Nepal Peace Initiative Alliance, read the Victoria Summit Communiqué. Then the panelists spoke eloquently and passionately of their reasons for wanting a ministry or department of peace, the status in their own country of such a governmental structure, and why partnership with govern­ments and civil society is so import­ant in our time. Marianne Williamson made visible the interconnect­ed­ness and implicit possi­bilities for cooperation leading to government and civil society partnership in building an infrastructure for peace. Fred Fakiri'i commented that, "All of you want a department of peace, and we have one. Your challenge is to create it, our challenge is to sustain it. We need to work together."

 

The sessions in Victoria opened with indigenous invo­ca­tions, and each morning began with voices raised in harmony of song. At the end of the week, the delegates left Vancouver and returned to their homes around the world in harmony of purpose.