This is one in a series of dispatches from David G. Newman, who attended the recent Rotary World Peace Conference 2016 in Ontario, California. These stories are inspired by the organizers and presenters to this peace conference and are posted by Mr. Newman on CNC as part of the process of advancing Positive Peace in Winnipeg.
Mary Ann Peters, CEO of The Carter Center, former Ambassador and now a Rotarian in the Atlanta Rotary Club, spoke on the topic, “Waging Peace”.
How does one define “waging peace”?
According to Peters, stopping conflict is not enough; communities must push to create Positive Peace. In her view, this is done by addressing the underlying causes of conflict.
“We will not learn to live in peace by killing each others children,” Peters said.
The causes of inner conflicts in countries are not just power and dollars, she explained. There are deep rooted ethnic, tribal or other historical differences.
Conflict itself, at any point in time, tends to create conflict in the future, because of the long term costs – financial, human and otherwise – of war. This means peace is not merely the absence of war.
When there is a war zone, Peters explained, everything falls apart. Rape is used as a tool of war; a society’s economics and infrastructure fall apart; education is affected negatively.
With a focus of “Peace First”, she suggested instead of making peace with friends, wage peace with unsavoury enemies, such as those representing ISIS.
The Carter Center, which brings together small groups to seek a shared vision for the future, is developing a study of ISIS recruiting narratives. The Center will then educate Islamic leaders on how to discourage recruits.
Peters also said inclusiveness of women is essential for peace talks. On average, women experience conflict differently, therefore they raise different issues, she explained.
There is a practical value in including women from the marketplace where the next attack will happen, as they are more concerned with their children’s safety, Peters said.
In countries where at least 35% of parliament are women representatives, the likelihood of conflict is virtually nil.
Peace, democracy and human rights are all key parts of waging peace, concluded Peters. Waging peace is both right and practical.