Following an intensive two days of training and the two-day Summit attended by 40 people from 11 countries, we presented our launch Declaration at a packed public meeting in the Grand Committee Room of the Houses of Parliament on 19th October. ThIs was hosted by John McDonnell MP and chaired by Diana Basterfield, co-founder of the UK ministry for peace.

The meeting opened with video greetings from US Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Marianne Williamson. Dot Maver spoke on behalf of the US Peace Alliance. Canada's representative, Saul Arbess, shared the Canadian working group's perspective. Dot then answered angry questions from the audience about various aspects of U.S. policy by acknowledging the pain expressed. She offered hope by saying that many people in the United States and around the world share that pain and sense of urgency, and reframing the situation in relation to the need to create infrastructures for peace based on the peace building and conflict transformation efforts and resources already underway and available around the world.

John McDonnell then described articulately why there is such an urgent need for departments and ministries of peace in order for government to provide an infrastructure -- an institutional space -- for dialogue on the peaceful transformation of violent conflict to take place. Other speakers included Yumi Kikuchi from Japan, Kai Brand-Jacobsen from Transcend (who provided the training and facilitated the Summit), Paul van Tongeren from the Netherlands, Diana Basterfield and Jo Berry, whose father (a former Tory MP) was killed by terrorists 20 years ago at the Tory Party Conference in Brighton.

Following the speakers, Summit participants representing each country came to the front of the room, and Zoughbi Zoughbi from Palestine and Shiri Barr from Israel stood side by side and spoke on behalf of the international initiative. They both asked us to not give up hope and expressed their pleasure in standing together calling for peace. Dot Maver then read the Declaration and presented it to John McDonnell, who then said he would read it into the official record of the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity. There was a spontaneous standing ovation – a wonderful moment.

The second People’s Summit for Departments of Peace, preceded by a Transcend training with Kai Brand-Jacobsen, will be held June 19-22, 2006, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. This will be followed immediately by the first World Peace Forum in Vancouver, where a presentation will be given on this new International Initiative for Departments of Peace.