Ending Armed Conflict and Realising the Right to Peace
Peace – A Human Rights Prerequisite
Realising the human right to peace in a period when armed conflicts are increasingly internal in nature poses renewed challenges. In cases where nations fail to protect their citizens from human rights violations committed within their borders poses difficulties for international mechanisms as the one of the strongest principles of international law remains state sovereignty.
Nevertheless, there is widespread consensus that armed conflicts are the source of some of the gravest human rights violations. Similarly, the inverse is equally true where Human rights violations are often the root causes of the conflicts. Lack or denial of fundamental rights (access to housing, food and water, as well as large-scale discrimination and exclusion from the decision-making processes) can be seen as one of the root causes of many conflicts happening today.
Conflict resolution is an extremely complex process, which is approached by the UN and civil society from different perspectives. Nevertheless, it has been widely acknowledged that the approach that can best lead to sustainable and lasting peace must address the root causes of structural and cultural violence on all levels, by integrating human rights standards into peace-building programmes. Moreover, political structures can successfully be rebuilt through civil society development. By engaging people, organisations and governmental bodies in a dialogue that centers around good governance, civil society can enact change that supports conflict mediation and prevention.
Successful examples of grassroots engagements could be found in the associations like the The international Peace Bureau and Graines de Paix. While restructuring security and justice sector through disarmament and demining, The international Peace Bureau’s (IPB) approach suggests that the resources meant to fund the military sector should be reallocated for social projects domestically that can fulfil real human needs and lead to much needed economic development. Whereas the IPB’s international campaign raise awareness on how the economic development, that is a human right, can be achieved through successful security and justice sector reform, other civil society actors are committed to peacemaking in schools and communities. Recognizing that every person has a right to receive peace and human rights education, Graines de Paix, Geneva based NGO, takes preventive approach to overcoming violence by inspiring peaceful relations from a very early age.
Human rights violations are the effects of the conflicts. Solving conflicts also means addressing past abuses in order to contribute to healing the psychological scars of conflict. Although governments are encouraged to initiate inquiries into allegations of human rights, many violations remain unchecked and unreported and continue to occur with impunity. Often the problems related to the independent and impartial functioning of the judiciary may limit states’ declared commitment to respect human rights. This is why in countries where the justice system dos not function properly and legislative reforms are required urgently, the UN has intensified its efforts to bring the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice through international judicial mechanisms.
Universal Declaration on the Human Right to Peace : Luarca Declaration
ORGANIZATION: Casa de Cultura in Luarca with experts from Spanish society for the advancement of human rights law, Agencia Catalana de Cooperacion al Desarrollo de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Consejeria de Justicia, Seguridad Publica y Relaciones Exteriores del Principado de Asturias, University of Oviedo and Ayuntamiento de Valdes
The Spanish Society for the Advancement of the International Human Rights Law adopted in October 2006 the “Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace”, which represents the result of many meetings of Spanish intellectuals and professors of international law and international relations in the years 2004-2006.The Luarca Declaration is composed of a Preamble made up of 21 paragraphs, 18 Articles arranged in two Parts and three Final Provisions.The Preamble echoes the concept of peace which pervades the whole Luarca Declaration, namely, that peace is not limited to the strict absence of armed conflict, but that it has a positive meaning, with a threefold aim: to achieve the satisfaction of the basic needs of all human beings, the elimination of all kinds of violence and the effective respect for all human rights. Paragraph 13 stresses the need to establish a new international economic order which will eliminate the inequality, exclusion and poverty which generates structural violence incompatible with peace on both national and international levels. That new international economic order must, furthermore, be based on environmental protection.
Global day of Action on Military Spending
Since 2011, peace, community, faith-based, economic justice and development activists have been organising events to raise awareness as well as to urge governments to reallocate the world’s military expenditure to urgent human needs. GDAM campaign raises awareness about the excessive investement in weapons and overall global military expenditure that is equivalent to over 24 years of the foreign aid required to reach the Millennium Development Goals and to 700 years of the UN’s regular budget. If spent differently the amount of this money that has been estimated on 1,75 trillions for 2013, could be used to address the immediate challenges that we are facing today. The most expensive of the MDGs to halve extreme poverty and hunger would cost approximately $ 39-54 billion, which equals 2.6-3.7% of the global military spending. GDAM recalls how excessive investment in weapons and war will continue to drain resources, in particular from the world’s poor. Given the inequalities of economic globalization and some development strategies, on one hand many countries continue to struggle to meet their objectives related to poverty, education, health, and more. While on the other hand many developing countries continue spending money on weapons and war, or on the clean-up from war. There is a clear trend at the moment that funds reserved for development initiatives are increasingly diverted to emergency relief and rehabilitation operations to clean up after violent conflict.
Preventative peace education in schools and communities
ORGANIZATION: Graines de Paix
Graines de Paix is peace is a peace education organisation based in Geneva. The organization is invloved in educating to a culture of peace while building humane relationships between persons and communities. The organization’s preventative peace tools are designed for children, youth and adults with an aim that educating to a culture of peace will have made it possible to replace fear and violence-based relationships. Grains of Peace focuses its work on peace skills and competencies, and specifically on four psycho-social competencies: Civility and citizenship, personal and interpersonal skills, intercultural skills and peace-critical skills. These are the competencies that seem to us the most useful for: Preventing violent or discriminatory behaviour, constructing a social and cultural cohesion with an eye towards the growing, multicultural process and enabling each and everyone to live to the fullest, without fear of “the other”. The culture of lasting peace in one’s city, country, and geographic region and in the world can be promoted and this preventative work can be carried out at all levels: schools (all classes), extracurricular activities, sports and workshops for adults.