Geneva in July

by Phyllis Creighton

The meeting of the Council of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) on the 20th, which I attended as one of its two North American regional reps, proved busy! IPB is the oldest and most comprehensive international federation in the peace movement. (Founded 1891, it now has 20 international federations plus over 200 groups as members). Science for Peace (SfP) joined IPB in 1991, when several of us helped organize its centenary conference in Toronto. The Council meeting was held at the close of the United Nations’ World Civil Society Forum, a week-long gathering of people from many lands, for which IPB facilitated a session on disarmament and an all day forum on women, war, and peace.

I went to Geneva, in part, to report on SfP activities, as well as on those of other Canadian NGOs. SfP’s work in stirring public questioning about the official story about 9/11, its background and meaning, through teach-ins, video showings, and articles elicited considerable interest (as did Global Outlook). The report of the Canadiangovernment sponsored International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Responsibility to Protect (December2001), on which SfP and Project Ploughshares both held seminars, was new and useful to IPB’s disarmament specialist, David Hay-Edie. I also publicized the campaign SfP is supporting to stop the weaponization of outer space through obtaining a Space Preservation Treaty. As well, I brought members copies of the seminal SfP statement “A new paradigm for policy making,” focusing on ecology and the web of life, which we hope will have long -term impact in promoting the shift needed for the survival of humanity on Earth..

With Council members reporting on New Zealand, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Ecuador, Nigeria, Pakistan, it was manifest there’s a lot of peace work around the world! Support was invited (and some noted) for the prayer march that Junsei Terasawa (the Buddhist monk SfP has met at dinner and learned about in Peace Magazine) was to begin in Pakistan on August 6th in hopes of stopping a war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir that would be fraught with the risk of use of nuclear weapons. We learned about an ongoing parliamentary exchange initiative, organized by the Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation to link Central American countries, Spain, and Sweden in strengthening the role of parliaments in controlling proliferation of firearms and the meeting it held in Costa Rica in May, with the collaboration of the UN regional Centre for Peace there and funding from the Swedish International Development Agency, bringing three members of the Swedish parliament to speak of Sweden’s experience..

IPB’s own scope has expanded with the opening in July, under the auspices of the Fundacio per la Pau (FP), of a regional office in Barcelona to coordinate and promote peace work in southern Europe (Catalonia, Spain, France, Portugal) and in North Africa (where in July they took part in a peace conference in Algiers).This office will bring connections with Latin America, too.

IPB is also becoming engaged through FP in the Porto Alegre movement for “another globalization,” with the planning of a Mediterranean Social Forum to be held in Barcelona in November 2003. IPB will also be linked in to a universal forum of cultures to be held in 2004. Council approved the opening of a further regional office in Lugo di Romagna, in Italy.

Disarmament is a major part of IPB’s work. The Italian members brought a proposal for a European arms trade project to involve IPB, along with its member groups, and IALANA (lawyers) and IPPNW (physicians), both of which have already agreed to the proposal. What is needed is a new European directive on the ethical regulation of the European Union’s arms trade. The Italian parliament has not yet ratified the Framework Agreement of Farnborough (July 2000), which is designed to promote a competitive, restructured European war industry with a supranational licensing authority. This agreement would nullify the existing, more progressive Italian legislation controlling its arms trade. Under the plan IPB is participating in, study groups in various nations will examine their legislation, define mutual values, involve public opinion, and work for a resolution on a new directive to be put forward in the European parliament. Strategies to work with the European Network Against the Arms Trade and IANSA (which focuses on small arms) are also to be devised.

Other highlights:

IPB is engaged in a major project to produce a book on human security (covering environment, globalization, democracy, and human rights) in which members are invited to collaborate (through the website and by e-mail).

Brainstorming about funding for this project turned up Canadian sources (the Simons Foundation, Peace Fund Canada, the Blumenfeld fund)!

A three- volume manual, Learning to Abolish War — forteaching towards the culture of peace was put on the table and passed around. A substantial and professional piece of work, it is intended for classroom use, teacher training, and ministries of education. A particular concern of IPB president Cora Weiss, it was developed as part of IPB’s taking on responsibility for the ongoing peace education work of the Hague Appeal for Peace, and can be obtained from IPB.

IPB is facing the perennial need to get more money so considerable thought was devoted to this problem!

A proposal to revise the constitution that would eliminate regional representatives proved contentious, and it was delegated to a small working group for further thought.

Council voted to accept 22 new organizations as members.

Council agreed that IPB become an official member of the Non-violent Peace Force to be inaugurated in India in November (New Zealander Alyn Ware will attend the launching conference and, with Rae Street, from the UK, will be IPB’s contact).

IPB will have a listing of its member groups on its new website, with their names and links with their websites. It also welcomes news about the work of its members for the IPB newsletter (a copy of which is held in the SfP office). .

Being engaged in this international peace body is full of potential. SfP members note: IPB wants more individual members and it is making joining via its website (and PayPal) easy. The next big event will be the triennial assembly, which is projected to be held either in May in Greece or in October in Barcelona. Stay tuned!

Note: IPB’s e-mail address is mailbox@ipb.org ,IPB’s web site is:http://www.ipb.org

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ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)