Tag: <span>Peace</span>

Russia-Ukraine Negotiations Appeals

Preliminaries to Russia-Ukraine Negotiations: The Key Role of China.

Featured Image: Foto de Matti Karstedt: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/una-nina-protestando-contra-la-guerra-en-ucrania-11284549/.

President of France Emmanuel Macron was in China from 5-7 April 2023 and urged that China could play a major role in bringing peace to the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict. China’s 12 point plan to resolve the Ukraine conflict has indicated President Xi Jinping‘s willingness to be active in peace efforts. While the 12 point peace plan is incomplete, it does propose general principles which can serve as a useful framework. President Macron is accompanied by Ms Von der Leyen of the European Commission, a sign of the wide European concern with the positive role that the Chinese government can play.

After the positive role that Chinese mediators played in the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there is increasing a world-wide recognition of the talents of Chinese mediators. China is probably the only country with an ability to influence Russian policy-makers in a peaceful direction.

Emmanuel Macron

Presidents of France Emmanuel Macron in 2022. By President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Overview of the Normandy Proposal and its Potential Role in Future Agreements for Ukraine.

President Macron was the prime mover for action on what was called the Normany Proposal involving negotiation among Russia and Ukraine, France and Germany. The proposal was to build on the Minsk agreement concerning the two pro-Russian People’s Republics of Ukraine which would remain in Ukraine with a modified Ukrainian constitution recognizing a good deal of autonomy to the People’s Republics. The Minsk Agreement was never acted upon with no action to modify the Ukrainian constitution. Since the 2022 Russian invasion, the situation has grown more complex and difficult. However, the Normandy ideas are probably the basis of any future agreement after a first cease-fire.

Ms Ursula von der Leyen

The President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen and The President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nicos Anastasiades make statements to the Press. University of Cyprus campus, Lefkosia, Cyprus, 8. July 2021. By Stavros Ioannides, P.I.O. Photo Department., CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Anticipated Increase in Fighting in Ukraine and the Importance of Alternative Solutions.

Military observers predict an increase in fighting in Ukraine now that the winter is over and troops can move more easily. Thus the immediate need to present alternatives to more fighting and the start of serious negotiations. The Macron-Xi talks may have set the stage for at least the preliminaries.

President of China Xi Jinping

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping addresses Chinese and foreign journalists at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct 23, 2022. By China News Service, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

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The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Kuan Yin Appeals

Kuan Yin : She who harkens to the cries…

Photo by xiaochi1989 in Pixabay 

By Rene Wadlow.

May all living beings recognise others as part of the same family;  and so develop kindness towards all. May we contribute to peace in the world. May peace-loving people, East and West;  accomplish their goals of joy and harmony in the world.

February 19 is the day;  especially in Chinese culture to honour Kuan Yin: the Goddess of Mercy for the Taoists and the Bodhisattva of Compassion for the Buddhists. In Buddhism;  a Bodhisattva is a person who has achieved enlightenment;  but who does not enter Nirvana;  but who returns to give guidence and protection to struggling humanity.

Shrines to Kuan Yin stand in many places in China and in several neighboring countries as well.  Whenever possible;  these shrines are placed near running water or overlooking a lake.  She is often depicted by painters as seated on a rock gazining out across the water or standing on a floating lotus petel.

Kuan Yin is a symbol of motherly protection.

Kuan Yin is a symbol of motherly protection. Her role is to rescue beings from present woes by assisting them to rid themselves of the delusions which bind them.  One of the most persistent delusions is a sense of separateness;  of being unrelated to others and separate from Nature.  This sense of separateness from other humans creates fears that what we have will be taken from us;   and thus we must defend ourselves and what we own. A sense of separateness from Nature creates a feeling that we can use Nature only for our benefit.

However;  Kuan Yin has also a mischievous, freedom-loving side to her nature.  In her Mongolian and Tibetan form as Tara, she is close to the hearts of Tibetan, Mongolian, and Nepali Buddhists. Kuan Yin, under her name Kuannon-sama has achieved much the same popularity in Japan.

Kuan Yin is a feminine symbol;  an image which one can hold in mind – she who hears the crises of the world.  As a praise song states “Wise in using skillful means, in every cornor of the world, she mainfests her countless forms, extingishing the flames of woe.”

On 19 February;  offerings of incense are made along with tea for wisdom and fruit for prosperity.  The aim is to resemble the Taoist sages of old whom ice could not freeze nor sunbeams scorch.

 Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Louise Diamond Book Reviews

Louise Diamond. The Courage For Peace.

Featured Image: Photo by Avi Chomotovski in Pixabay 

(Berkeley, CA : Conari Press, 2000, 263pp).

Louise Diamond;  a co-founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy in Washington, DC;  works in areas of inter-ethnic conflict to empower peacebuilders.

Our power to empower is perhaps the most important role;  we can play in the 21st century. The more individuals; who feel empowered to work in their own systems for peace and conflict transformation; the closer the world comes to that critical mass that will allow for a massive leap of consciousness; allowing new processes for peace;  that were previously unimaginable to become normative and easy.”

She stresses in her book that the Spirit of Peace is a living process;  encoded in our hearts, embodied in our words; expressed through our thoughts and empowered through our choices. Peace:

“Is the everyday practical matter of how we can live together harmoniously; dealing creatively and effectively with the inevitable differences; hurts and fears that arise in human relationships… On a larger scale; peace is a political goal of nations and peoples; on a smaller scale; inner peace is a personal goal for those of us; who are trying to live more consciously within this frenzied world.”

A New Cycle is Beginning.

The world can seem as “a new cycle is beginning; one that stems from the recognition of the fact that we are one. Favoring a relational, intuitional, opportunity-oriented way of thinking and a community, inter-connective, partnership approach to social relations; this new way of being;  is built on our emerging understanding of universal truths: matter is energy with meaning and motion. Life is not static; it is flow. We are not broken; we are whole.

If we oppress others; we oppress ourselves…Even as the old systems disintegrate and fade away; pioneers among us; are creating new ways of living and working together;  that honor the truth of our oneness. I happen to believe that peacebuilding is at the forefront of this wave; and that its pioneers are and will be among the greatest champions of a new era.”

Louise Diamond’s views will be familiar;  to those who deal with individual therapy .As she writes:

I found that whether I was working with individuals, couples, families or organizations; the work was inevitably about the issues of power and healing. In short; people were struggling to find peace and balance within themselves;  and to live and work harmoniously with each other.”

Peace can be Envisaged as Having Three Basic Aspects.

Her road map for action  is based on four principles;  based on faith and common sense;  but that are also the lessons learned for experiences – her own and that of other peacebuilders;  whose views she shares.

These lessons have to do with our basic unity and wholeness; our interdependence; the power of love for reconciliation; and our ability through conscious thought and action; to shape the world we live in.”

 

Her book is an inquiry into the practical implications of these spiritual lessons. How do we heal ancient wounds and restore justice? How do we ensure healthy communities?.

Peace can be envisaged as having three basic aspects – the water, ice, steam analogy. The most fundamental aspect – the water stage – we could call “metaphysical” and has to do with peace as order, harmony, and unity. Then there is the “serenity” aspect; often an inner peace; which is expressed as calm, tranquillity, equanimity. This calm, however; is also a source of energy, a will to action.

For me; peace is literally a powerhouse of strength. I experience peace as a specific vibration of dynamic state of being; which, like a song, radiates from my heart and soul.” 

The third aspect is that of “relationship – agreement, accord, rapport. The Spirit of Peace reminds us that these three aspects are really one.

The Spirit of Peace to Fill Our Lives.

Peace as harmony, order, tranquillity; accord is very close to the Taoist image of the Tao. As in Taoism;  there are many avenues to tap into this flow of peace: music, poetry, dance, communing with nature, making love, deep relaxation, prayer and meditation.

When we tap into that energy; we have access to vision, intuition, creativity, synergy, and the power of miracles – resources of mind, body, and spirit far beyond our day-to-day awareness. When we rest there;  we are at home; we have found peace.

The Spirit of Peace arises from this place. Our work; when confronted with our small-minded sense of separation, our lack of harmony, our experience of conflict; is to center home. (By ‘centering home’, I mean touching the Source within myself.)” 

By touching the Source; we awaken to what we need to carry us to new levels of thought and action.

Louise Diamond deals with the shifts in vision;  and attitudes necessary for the Spirit of Peace to fill our lives. There are, of course;  other aspects of building a peaceful society. There are often needs to build new political and economic institutions;  and to formulate new policies. Yet attitude change, at a deep level;  is essential. Many, I believe;  will find Louise Diamond’s book both very clear and profound.

Rene Wadlow;  President, Association of World Citizens.

 


Learning from Practice Podcast – Louise Diamond.

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David Cortright Book Reviews

David Cortright Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, 376pp.)

David Cortright;  Director of Policy Studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies;  and an activist especially on nuclear arms issues;  has set out a clear and up-to-date history of the ideas and movements that make up the colors on the peace pallet.

Sometimes Alone and Sometimes in Combinations.

Peacemaking has always been an art rather than a science.  As with painting;  there is a pallet with a range of colors;  and it is up to the artist to know how to combine these colors;  sometimes in pure form;  and at other times mixed together to paint a picture;  sometimes of a peaceful field;  and at other times a scene of revolt. 

As with colors in art;  there are a limited number of ideas which can be used;  sometimes alone and sometimes in combinations.  Likewise;  there are a limited number of people in the peace brigades;  and they are usually found in different campaigns;  often the same people in different uniforms. Open conflicts provide us with test cases of how ideas concerning peace;  and conflict resolution can be put together;  and we see how the peace brigades will form themselves to meet the challenge.

The Hague Legal Spirit.

David Cortright gives us a good overview of the development of the 19th century peace societies.  They were born in the USA and England from the success of collective action against slavery;  and the slave trade.  If the age-old institution of slavery could be abolished by a combination of law, religious concern;  and changing public opinion; could not war be abolished in the same way?  Religious-motivated action;  work to influence public opinion; and legal restraints on war have continued to be the chief colors of the peace pallet.

The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 were milestones in the development of world law;  of faith in the power of mandatory arbitration;  and for the need of world courts.  The Hague legal spirit was most prominently displayed slightly later by President Woodrow Wilson;  who had long espoused arbitration;  the strengthening of international law and multilateral cooperation.

The League of Nations and the United Nations are the embodiment of the Wilsonian vision. As H.G. Wells wrote in The Shape of Things to Come  “For a brief interval Wilson stood alone for humankind…in that brief interval there was a very extraordinary and significant wave of response to him throughout the earth.”

“Father Figure”

Wilson remains the ‘father figure’ of peace through law;  and multilateral governmental action just as Mahatma Gandhi does for non-violent action.  As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus;  above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.” Peace efforts require images for a complex set of ideas;  and Wilson and Gandhi provide that image of the heroes of peace.

Wilson and Gandhi represent the two steady sources of inspiration for peace workers — those working for the rule of law;  and human rights and those working to translate religious insights into political action.  

“Duty to Protect”.

Today;  as the conflicts in Yemen;  and Syria-Iraq-ISIS grow in intensity and spill over to influence Turkey;   we face many of the same issues that faced peace workers in the conflicts of former Yugoslavia: what are the sources of legitimate government;  and when does a government cease to be legitimate? Is there really a ‘duty to protect’;  and when does this duty become only a cover for power politics as usual?.  How do peace workers act in “far away places”  in which both legal and moral issues are not clear.

Peace remains a painting in process; the colors are often the same, the shapes painted change. David Cortright has given us a good history, but there are no ‘how to’ guides for action.

Rene Wadlow; President, Association of World Citizens.

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Book Reviews

That Cooler Heads May Prevail.

Photo by Devanath in Pixabay 

Vijay Mehta.

When the drums of war start beating;  can cooler heads prevail and negotiations in good faith start?.  Vijay Mehta has written a useful overview of efforts to create a Department of Peace;  within governments so that there would be an institutionalized official voice proposing other avenues than war. (1)

Alexander Wiley

Alexander Wiley: US Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Such proposals are not new. In 1943;  Alexander Wiley;  a liberal Republican senator had proposed to President Franklin Roosevelt that he establish a cabinet-level post of Secretary of Peace as there was already a Secretary of War. The Secretary of War has now been renamed Secretary of Defense;  but the function has not radically changed.

Franklin_D._Roosevelt

President Franklin Roosevelt: Vincenzo Laviosa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Second World War.

A Secretary of Peace in Wiley’s vision would be charged with preempting conflicts;  before they exploded into violence and proposing peaceful resolutions. In the U.S.A. after the end of the Second World War;  in a“never again” atmosphere;  other members of Congress suggested the creation of such a Department of Peace. However;  such a vision was never transformed into a reality.

The Cold War.

As the Cold War took up ever more energy and funds;  a compromise was reached in 1984 at the time that Ronald Reagan was President. The U.S. Institute of Peace was created and has produced some useful publications and does some conflict resolution training for diplomats and mediators. However;  the leadership of the Institute of Peace has not played a visible role in foreign policy formation. One must look elsewhere for cooler voices to cover the beat of the war drums.

Cards Are On The Table.

There is currently a test in real time as the situation in Venezuela grows more complex. There are real possibilities of armed violence;  ranging from armed violence within the country to the creation of armed militias operating from Colombia and Brazil as the Contras had in the Nicaragua case;  to an old-fashioned intervention by U.S. troops. All these “cards are on the table”. There is no Secretary of Peace officially in the U.S. government (nor in that Venezuela either). The influence of national security advisors to the U.S. President has grown;  and they have the advantage of frequent personal contact.

Zone Of Influence.

Latin America has often been considered as a U.S. “zone of influence”. Unlike current situations in the Middle East;  which are of direct concern to European States, Latin America has never been a priority of European countries with the exception of Soviet-Cuban relations. Spain has a cultural and economic interest in Latin America;  but does not try to influence U.S. policy toward individual States. The current U.S. administration seems largely indifferent to the views of the United Nations. On the Venezuela crisis the U.N. Secretary-General has called for calm and restraint;  but has made no specific proposals.

In the U.S. there are a good number of “Think Tanks” devoted to policy making as well as university departments and programs with a geographic – area studies – orientation. As I am not a specialist on Latin America (most of my academic focus has been Africa and the Middle East).  I do not know which have strong policy impact. I have seen relatively few public statements coming from academic Latin American specialists;  though there is probably outreach to representatives in Congress.
Thus;  we must watch the policy-making process closely. Obviously my hope is that the cooler minds will win out and compromises made;  such as holding new elections with international election monitors. This is a test in real time of  Vijay Mahta’s aim How Not to Go to War.

Note:

(1) Vijay Mehta. How Not to Go to War: Establishing Departments for Peace and Peace Centres Worldwide (Oxford: New Internationalist Publications, 2019).

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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