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Peace Education

Reflections on Peace and Development in the Americas

Relations between the US and Latin America have always been important, but there are challenges. There is a segment of Latin America unsympathetic to the US, based on perceptions that the US has been aloof and self-serving. As well, some countries are moving away from democracy. Clearly we see a need for better communications between north and south. There is also a need for increased cooperation on development issues, including from broad interfaith cooperation. The following excerpts were from the World Summit on Peace session that examined prospects for a north-south association for the study of issues of the Americas, encouraging democracy and the well-being of all people.

Democracy and the Current Crisis
By Julio Sanguinetti, President of Uruguay, 1985-1990, 1995-2000   

We all know that it is easier to have good dialogue, political relationships, and social life in times of prosperity. Now, we are going to experience a time of tension. Unemployment is rising in the US, Europe, and the Americas. This is very serious because all normal social values have been questioned. We have to look at this crisis from our perspective and an inter-American perspective:

In Latin America we are not experts in normal situations, but we are quite expert in crisis situations. And on various occasions we have had to apply all these solutions we are hearing about.

The crisis cannot be solved by the US, Europe, or China acting alone. The crisis, it is true, originated in the US, but it became universal, and consequently, only multilateral solutions can address the situation. Latin America cannot come out of this without the US, and the US cannot come out of this without the rest of the world.

The biggest responsibility of the new US president is to start regulating the US market and try to balance its finances. That will already be a contribution. Secondly, he has to establish the mechanisms of dialogue so Europe, Japan, China, and Latin America can cope with the situation together.

And fortunately, now we are speaking not only about the big G-7 nations but also the G-22 nations, which include three Latin Americans nations — Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. A new balance has to be generated.

Peace in the Americas  
By Dr. Oscar Alvarez Araya, Professor, National University of Costa Rica   

Much has been said about the issues that make harmony between North and South more difficult. But in our quest for peace, we have much in common:

• A great continent territory with huge human and natural resources.
• Values, principles and institutions based on freedom and democracy.
• Christian values, even though with different nuances in the North and South.
• An inter-American system of institutions  based on the values and principles of freedom, justice, democracy, peace, human rights, the rule of the law, and sustainable development.

Peaceful coexistence, dialogue, communication, cooperation at the government level, both bilateral and multilateral, have to be promoted. Dialogue, communication, and cooperation among the civil organizations is essential for stable development, prosperity, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, ethics in public positions and a democratic good governance.

The Universal Peace Federation has been making some of the greatest contributions to dialogue and cooperation between North and South America of any NGOs.

We are building an Internet-based Inter American think tank that will incubate ideas that can become public policies and civic initiatives. We will promote civil society cooperation throughout the Americas based on universal principles that come from the different religions. Our mission will be to generate innovative political ideas and civic solutions in areas such as peace-building, freedom, democracy, and human rights. We will work also to strengthen the family, develop character education, and promote a culture of service in the Americas in order to advance the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Building a Global Culture of Service  
By Catalina Soberanis Reyes, Political Advisor, UN Development Program, Guatemala   

We must combat the real threats posed today to international security: exclusion, poverty, rural decline, environmental degradation, new pandemics, and arms and drug trafficking. We need to overcome inequalities and to stop the spiral that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer.

It is necessary to promote lifelong education and vocational training and to foster scientific and technological development so that each country may become the architect of its own destiny. It is also necessary to facilitate urban rehabilitation as well as rural development.

Finally, it is necessary to ensure respect for the law and freedom of expression, the independent functioning of justice, and the realization of democratic principles in everyday life.

Those purposes can only be achieved if we build a new culture: a global culture of rights and responsibilities, a culture of accountability, a culture of service, even a culture of love.

The UPF is advocating the formation of a "global service corps," a new cross-sector international alliance to promote peace and reduce global poverty by growing and nurturing a global culture of service. In Guatemala, for example, we have benefited from the Religious Youth Service work in Santiago Atitlan, an indigenous village, and in urban areas. We think that young people have time, idealism, and courage to do the hard tasks.

But volunteerism does not only refer to young people nor does it grow by itself. We are all responsible to build a better world. Adults should work in volunteerism, giving a good example themselves. Working globally and locally, we will have the capacity to transform threats and difficulties into challenges, cooperation, and growth.

It's Time to Achieve Peace

By Rev. Paul A. Murray, President, Vision Ministries International   

The world is looking for leadership to bring us out of the economic, political, and religious conflicts that are besieging us on every front. No one world leader can do this. No political mechanism can sustain this weight of such change, for our history is filled with the rise and fall of many kingdoms.

We have conflict and crisis within our homes, our communities, our nations, and around the world. Is there any hope? I believe with all of my heart that this is a time of great opportunity for all of humanity to move from conflict to resolution, from hatred to peace, from war to love. As a minister of the Gospel, I along with people of many faiths represented in this room, serve a loving God who cares and gives guidance, wisdom, and discernment to His people. A global service alliance has been birthed for such a time as this.

This global service alliance is positioned to ensure that the changes that are most important are brought to light with an understanding that no peace can come from one individual, but by each of us locking arm in arm, picking up shovels, serving on the food lines, distributing clothes and medical supplies. If we do all within our means and with our personal and professional resources, this great alliance can usher in a genuine realization of peace and prosperity for all of mankind.

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