Washington DC Peace & Security Forum

Washington DC Peace & Security Forums: 2013

Since 2011, the Washington DC Office of Peace and Security Affairs, directed by Dr. Antonio Betancourt, has held monthly meetings on volatile areas of tension and conflict. UPF emphasizes the pursuit of internal “soft power” solutions and “track two” diplomacy, which is essential to peacebuilding and in line with the philosophy of UPF’s founders. The following is an overview of forums during 2013:

"Transnational Crime and Gang Violence," Dec. 11, 2013
Policymakers are coming to recognize the need for a paradigm shift to look at the root causes and to build an integrative and comprehensive two-pronged approach: “Hard power” utilizing the police and military; and “soft power,” emphasizing solutions centered on universal spiritual and moral values. It is the responsibility of governments in concert with the UN to create that paradigm shift - one that brings new “playing field rules.” Global problems demand global solutions and global allocation of resources, human and otherwise.

"Human Trafficking and Poverty, A Critical Connection," Nov. 6, 2013
As new research arises in the anti-human trafficking movement, we have come to realize that by putting the majority of our efforts into affecting the demand (at the grassroots level), we will have a greater opportunity to actually make substantial reductions in modern-day slavery. And, as a strategic plan, we must include addressing the head of this issue – the trafficker’s mind-set – the distribution and commercialization of bodies, at a root cause level – hence a cultural shift is a must.

"Peace Zones as Avenues for Stability in South Sudan, Syria, Colombia and Korea," Oct. 15, 2013
The UN introduced the concept of “peace zones” in 1947 to promote peace in Jerusalem. Since then, the UN has engaged dozens of peacekeeping missions through the development of international coalitions for stability, addressing crises of military proportions, humanitarian, volatile conflicts and major natural disasters. The UPF forum reviewed four case studies and the viability of establishing zones of peace as a means to resolve conflicts in Korea, South Sudan, Colombia, and Kurdistan. In addition, the participants discussed a refinement of the concept of “peace zones,” as proposed by the UPF founder.

"Peace, Stability, and Economic Development in Micronesia," Sept. 18, 2013
As the US involvement in the Middle East winds down and China continues to rise as a global superpower, the strategic and geopolitical value of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia will increase dramatically in the coming decade. The nations must establish their identity as individual countries, and at the same time, unite together and speak as a single voice on the international stage. Issues addressed included: (1) the impact of climate change, (2) economic development in the region, and (3) the role of the external powers in working with the region on these critical challenges.

"Transnational Crime in the Americas," June 27, 2013
Experts in the field gathered to discuss transnational organized crime and its many faces – drug and human trafficking, money laundering, corruption, the link between transnational crime and terrorism, and the serious threat posed to national and international security. Participants discussed the cultural, political, technological and financial aspects. The rule of law and enforcement are needed, but fundamentally the root causes must be more effectively addressed by governments, the UN and other international institutions, especially governments of the industrialized world.

"Two States, One Country: Israel-Palestine: A Path Toward a Shared Future," May 22, 2013
More than 20 years since the historic handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin that sealed the Oslo accords and outlined the path to a two-state solution, Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to reaching a permanent solution to their conflict, and many experts now believe that the two-state solution is no longer practical or feasible. Over the last five years, an increasing number of prominent Israelis and Palestinians have openly called for or begun considering the practicality of a shared future in the form of a federation, confederation or a one-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

"Security Cooperation in the East and South China Seas: Preventing Territorial Disputes from Spinning Out of Control," Apr. 12, 2013
Territorial disputes have increased political and military tensions in the East and South China Seas especially in relation to small island territories claimed by nearby nations. The islands are close to key shipping lanes, fishing grounds and oil reserves. Participants in the forum discussed approaches to reduce the tensions in the East and South China Seas.

"Faith, Religion, and International Security," Mar. 13, 2013
A striking development of the last 20 years of international affairs is the rise of faith or religion as a prominent driver, key influence and policy-shaper of nations, states and regions affecting the lives, the economy and the security of common citizens around the world. The issue can be summarized as follows: How can we use religion in a positive way not only to understand what is going on, and not cede the ground to the extremists, but actually occupy the higher moral ground ourselves?

"Bringing Long-Term Peace and Security to the Balkan Region," Jan. 30, 2013
The ambassadors of Albania, Croatia and Montenegro agreed: (1) Hope still emanates for long-term peace and prosperity in the Balkan Peninsula (Southeast Europe), (2) there are shared goals for integration into Euro-Atlantic Structures (NATO) and the European Union, and (3) the US and the European Union are strategic partners. The current financial crisis has brought concerns about jobs, health care, education, pensions, poverty, the impact on free election, and questions on how to deal with organized crime and corruption that is so pervasive in the region.

See also reports of forums in 2011-12.

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