After five decades of fighting, Colombia and its guerrillas may be the closest they’ve ever been to peace. The parties signed an agreement on Dec. 15 to resolve the thorniest issue of ongoing peace talks: how to provide restitution to the millions of war-crime victims.
Negotiators still have to reach a final peace deal, which is expected in spring. But experts say the victims’ arrangement is a key step in ending the war, and a model for other nations with entrenched internal fighting.
The “Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition,” as the setup is dubbed, is an ingenious balance between the interests of all the involved parties. It takes elements from reconciliation and justice processes used to settle other conflicts around the world, and improves upon them.
The Peace Road Project is a global peace initiative aimed at bringing world peace and prosperity and putting an end to various problems which cause international disputes and conflicts, such as, race and religion.
The International Peace Highway is the transportation network created by Rev. Moon and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon on the 10th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences in 1981 as a way to implement world peace.
An important objective is the peaceful re-unification of the only divided country in the world, the Korean peninsula. The creation of the DMZ World Peace Park will encourage the support and cooperation of the international community. The International Peace Highway is a way to connect the world into one.
Together to Create a More Harmonious and Equitable World
Despite being held for 14 years without charge at Guantanamo Bay; despite the torture, beatings, and psychological trauma he says he endured there; and despite signs that British intelligence agents knew of the abuse, 48-year-old Shaker Aamer says top UK officials should be granted legal immunity if it will encourage them to tell the truth about their government’s complicity in such atrocities.
“They should be guaranteed that they are not going to go behind bars, so they can tell their part of the story,” Aamer said in an interview with ITV News, his first since returning to the UK in October.
Comparing the U.S. military prison to Harry Potter’s Azkaban—where creatures suck the happiness from criminals—the father of two said Guantánamo Bay is designed to “destroy a human being totally”—mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Local Initiatives that Support Human Dignity
on a Daily Basis
The meal is a dinner, free of charge, and in someone’s home. The meal takes place with no strings attached, and signing up includes no obligations, apart from serving food at the agreed time.
Host and guests participate out of their own free will and with responsibility for themselves.
At least one of the participants should be a person who has moved to this country from a different country. The guest is always welcomed to bring one person along to the dinner.
The Union of Dutch Cities and the cities of Barcelona and Bogotá have initiated a new peace prize. The UCLG City of Bogotá Peace Prize is a triennial award for (a coalition of) local governments that have implemented innovative initiatives in conflict prevention, conflict resolution or peace building, that are proven to have had a significant positive impact.
Volunteers from both faiths will join to feed homeless people in New York City.
Zamir Hassan, founder of Muslims Against Hunger, was feeding homeless people in Boston’s central public park with a group of volunteers when he first learned of the attacks in Paris the previous night.
As the group made their rounds, a homeless man asked one of the volunteers what church she belonged to. Upon learning that she was Muslim, the man asked if she had poisoned the food. Five minutes later, Hassan told The Huffington Post, another man bit into a hummus sandwich handed to him by a volunteer and said, “This is delicious!”
The irony of those two very different exchanges, within minutes of one another, struck Hassan.
On Sunday, Muslims Against Hunger is partnering with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and The Brotherhood Synagogue in New York City for a Muslim-Jewish rally and community service project. The event has taken place annually for five years, Hassan said, but this year’s gathering will take on new importance in the wake of Friday’s attacks.
On Thursday, hummus will become a symbol of peace as 15 Muslim and Jewish activists break bread together and participate in an all-day bus tour of Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia with a message of reconciliation. Bearing trays of homemade hummus and pita bread, the activists hope to spread the message that Muslims and Jews refuse to be enemies.
The activists will share hummus and pita with people they meet during the day and invite members of the public to sign a “Stand Up for the Other Pledge” created by Dr. Ali Chaudry, President of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
When violence broke out in the Galilee in October 2000, the ensuing destruction deepened tensions between the Jewish town of Karmiel and the neighboring Arab community of Majd Al Kurum. In the wake of the unrest, Osnat Aram-Daphna, principal of the Kalanit school in Karmiel, and Najeeba Sirhan, principal of Al Salaam school in Majd Al Kurum, decided to use their respective positions to reach out to each other.
Together, Osnat and Najeeba promoted open dialogue and understanding between their communities through education. They participated in a program organized by the mayor of Karmiel, leadership of the Arab villages in the Galilee, and the Ministry of Education to promote partnerships among Arab and Israeli educators.
The beginning was difficult and many people were skeptical. Osnat and Najeeba went from one educator to another, attempting to persuade them to become involved. Eventually, they each found 10 teachers who were willing to take the necessary risk, beginning a process of reconciliation for these two small towns.
After one year of meeting regularly, the group of 20 educators found that they had established a network of mutual understanding and trust. Osnat and Najeeba considered how to expand the process beyond the walls of their schools. Their vision was to create a forum for transforming patterns of prejudice and intolerance on a grander scale throughout their two communities.
Because of the transformative power of education, residents of Karmiel and Majd Al Kurum are able to interact as neighbors.
Much violent conflict takes place outside of war zones, often in urban areas. In Los Angeles, Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest, offers youth an alternative to the dangerous streets through job training and employment at his organization, Homeboy Industries. He said, “We have to stand against the idea that some lives are worth more than others.” In his Peace Talk, he described how youth learn to work alongside former enemies, a transformation many did not believe possible.
There was a time when Visitacion Valley middle school in San Francisco could have featured in a gritty US crime drama. Surrounded by drugs and gang violence, the kids were stressed out and agitated. One day children came in to find three dead bodies dumped in the schoolyard. “In 2006 there were 38 killings in our neighbourhood,” says Barry O’Driscoll, the school’s head of physical education (PE). He says the lives of students were infected by violence in the community, and several fights would break out every day.
In 2007 a meditation programme called Quiet Time was brought in to meet some of these challenges. “When I first heard about it I thought it probably wasn’t going to work,” says O’Driscoll. “We get thrown a new thing every couple of years so I didn’t put too much faith in it.” But in April, just a month after meditation began, teachers noticed changes in behaviour. “Students seemed happy,” says O’Driscoll. “They worked harder, paid more attention, were easier to teach and the number of fights fell dramatically.”
The programme, introduced to all ages, sees students sit for 15 minutes of meditation twice a day. Classes take place at students’ desks after the qualified TM teacher rings a bell. Students then repeat a personal mantra (a word from Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language) in their heads until they reach a deep feeling of relaxation. Sometimes the whole school meets to meditate in assemblies.
Before the students learn to meditate, the Quiet Time programme requires all staff to be trained in TM. O’Driscoll was sceptical at first about mediating himself, but since giving it a try he can concentrate better and feels less stressed.
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