Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Department/Ministry of Peace

Think about the millions of dollars spent on manufacturing, buying, maintaining arms, training and maintaining the combatants (State armed forces, local militias, and/terrorist groups), rehabilitating combatants and many other expenses related to wars plus the psychological pain and fear that goes with it. If we compare all that to the efforts and money spent to plan for peace, we would be surprised.

Often, war gives more power to the powerful and makes the rich richer. However, only a handful people are benefitted from the monies generated by wars and millions of people are left to suffer psychologically, physically and economically. 

History tells that time and time again individuals and groups have tried to convince the world for peace and non-violence. Unfortunately, their messages have not been given the due importance and ‘Peace' has become a 'nice expectation' rather than the imperative to run a nation.

With nuclear weapons, terrorism, violence related to drug cartels spreading around the world, it is time to rethink the importance and place of ‘Peace’ in our countries. It is time for Peace to go beyond the non-profit organizations and become critical part of the State Governments.

There is a website called, ‘Global Alliance For Ministries and Departments of Peace’. The website content is not regularly updated but does have good information regarding movements around the world to form Ministries/Department of Peace within their State governments. I was happy to see India as one of those countries.

As per the website, in October 2005 three organizations, the US Peace Alliance, the Canadian Federal Working Group for a Department of Peace, and the UK ministry for peace, organized the first People’s Summit for Departments of Peace in London. These countries were Australia, Canada, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Italy, Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom, Jordan, and the United States. Since then, the group has organized more summits and working towards its goal. I would love to know their latest achievements. More information can be found in the website: http://www.peoplesinitiativefordepartmentsofpeace.org/

The United States has a very rich history in this regard. I would like to share parts of very insightful and interesting information I got from Wikipedia on this subject (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_of_Peace ).  I would like apologize for copying and pasting so much text from this article but I truly believe that it was important to share this great information, especially for those who are aspiring for a Department/ Ministry of Peace in their respective country.

In 1793, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Founding Father (signer of the Declaration of Independence), wrote an essay titled "A plan of a Peace-Office for the United States”. Since then, many Law Makers have made similar initiatives, both from the Republican and Democratic Parties but without complete success.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) introduced U.S. Department of Peace legislation to Congress in July 2001, two months before the September 11 attacks. Kucinich has reintroduced the legislation every 2 years. The bill currently has 70 cosponsors. Some of the numerous organizations endorsing the legislation include Amnesty International and the National Organization for Women.
This bill includes several additional proposed mandates that would work in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and go beyond the existing mandates of the United States Institute of Peace. Some highlights among the areas of proposed additional responsibility include:
·       Provide violence prevention, conflict resolution skills and mediation to America's school children in classrooms as an elective or requirement, providing them with the communication tools they need to express themselves beginning in elementary school through high school.
·       Provide support and grants for violence prevention programs addressing domestic violence, gang violence, drug and alcohol related violence, and the like.
·       To effectively treat and dismantle gang psychology.
·       To rehabilitate the prison population.
·       To build peace making efforts among conflicting cultures both here and abroad.
·       To support our military with complementary approaches to ending violence.
·       Monitoring of all domestic arms production, including non-military arms, conventional military arms, and of weapons of mass destruction.
·       Make expert recommendations on the latest techniques for diplomacy, mediation, conflict resolution to the U.S. President for various strategies.
·       Assumption of a more proactive level of involvement in the establishment of international dialogues for international conflict resolution (as a cabinet level department).
·       Establishment of a U.S. Peace Academy, which among other things would train international peace-keepers.
·       Development of an educational media program to promote nonviolence in the domestic media.
·       Monitoring of human rights, both domestically and abroad.
·       Making regular recommendations to the President for the maintenance and improvement of these human rights.
·       Receiving a timely mandatory advance consultation from the Secretaries of State, and of Defense, prior to any engagement of U.S. troops in any armed conflict with any other nation.
·       Establishment of a national Peace Day.
·       Participation by the secretary of peace as a member of the National Security Council.
·       Expansion of the national Sister City program.
·       Significant expansion of current Institute of Peace program involvement in educational affairs, in areas such as:
  1. Drug rehabilitation,
  2. Policy reviews concerning crime prevention, punishment, and rehabilitation,
  3. Implementation of violence prevention counseling programs and peer mediation programs in schools,
·       Also, making recommendations regarding:
  1. Battered women's rights,
  2. Animal rights,
·       Various other "peace related areas of responsibility".

Isn’t this material so simple, practical, meaningful, and critical? The cost for putting a Dept. of Peace would be very little compared to what is spent in the name of Department of Defense. The important part for this department is the NOT the dollar amount attached to it but the perspective that it brings to the strategic planning and the authority that it gives to peaceful options at the decision making table. Let us make it happen before the wars and conflicts prevent our grandchildren from being born. 

2 comments:

  1. Anjana thanks for sharing this interesting info .. I wasn't familiar this! Interesting how our country was founded on such great ministries!

    Blessings,
    Brian Reilly
    ForgottenVoices.org

    ReplyDelete

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