(The text "Ambasciata di Pace" (Peace Embassy)
was published in no.15 of Guerre & Pace [Wars and Peace] of September 1994)
The peace embassy is both the acknowledgement of new tasks for the peace movement (now that armed intervention is actually a tool of governments - in particular of the American government - and NATO is attempting to take over the role of the UN) and an attempt to give the international peace movement, i.e. the peoples of our planet, a new tool for real opposition to war. Ideally this project is moving along the same lines as other earlier interventions (Peace volunteers in the Middle East, Blessed are the peace makers, Association of Pope John XXIII, Gulf Peace Team and others), which hve been trying and are still trying to oppose war by building embrionic forces to interpose themselves (between fighting factions) and find ways for peoples' diplomacy.
NATUREThe peace embassy is a tool of peoples' diplomacy. Its full name is:
PEACE EMBASSY - INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR PEOPLES' DIPLOMACY situated in ..........
Being its task the peoples' diplomacy, the peace embassy must be independent from all governments,
financially and politically. The peace embassy is a tool of the civil society and of the peoples and must therefore take its working guidelines and financing only from them. It is, however, possible and desirable that local, national or international institutions should help, from time to time and in different ways, the peace embassy's activities without, however, ever becoming the determining factor.
By civil society we mean all those organisations, international and not, active on our planet in the widely varying fields of voluntary work who now wish to take on this task.
TASKS OF THE PEACE EMBASSY
1) To open and consolidate the communication between peoples.
This is the prime task of the peace embassy. It concerns getting different peoples to know one another by overcoming the difficulties that governments often put in their way. It concerns working to build strong social and human relationships, able of resisting a future construction of the image of the enemy (cultural, religious, artistical exchanges, economical trades based on equality and solidarity). IN PARTICULAR, IT CONCERNS OPPOSING SANCTIONS USED FOR THE PURPOSES OF POWER (embargo as a war weapon).
2) To help peoples in need as a result of wars, forced expulsion, sanctions, epidemics or environmental
disasters (humanitarian help). Particularly, in the event of a large number of refugees, it is necessary to
work to avoid the splitting of families and people being sent to places they don't want to go to.
If possible, one should at the same time work to prevent that too many people stay for a long time in a single place.
3) To be a helping tool in logistics and organisation for all NGOs who want to contribute to peace with
humanitarian help, aimed particularly at refugees or, more generally, at people affected by war.
4) To give correct information to the international community about the living conditions of the people,
possible violations of the human rights, which may occur internally by groups or by the government or
externally because of military or economical attacks. The role of information is very
important generally; it becomes even more so in the period preceding a war. THAT IS WHEN CORRECT,
SUFFICIENTLY WIDESPREAD INFORMATION CAN CARRY OUT A REAL TASK OF
INTERPOSITION BETWEEN THE PARTIES IN CONFLICT (Permanent peace observation posts).
5) With the realisation of the above four points, the peace embassy international centre for peoples' diplomacy - reaches its main objective, which is working for the PREVENTION OF CONFLICTS
BETWEEN PEOPLES by putting forward to the International Community, from time to time, proposals
to mediate a conflict.
Besides receiving, if not recognition, at least acceptance by the host country, the peace embassy must
make contact with any UN organisations in the country and, above all, with associations, groups, political
parties and lay and religious authorities. In the lack of any of this (i.e. in fiercely repressive dictatorships), it must manage to deal directly with the population through the channels of targeted humanitarian aid and defence of violated human rights. The aim is, when needed, to have a detailed knowledge of the problems and to have enough credibility to support the method of negotiation in the solution of the problem. TO SUSTAIN THE METHOD OF NEGOTIATION, IT IS ALWAYS NECESSARY FOR THE EMBASSY TO WORK ON THE WILL FOR PEACE OF THE PEOPLE ENDURING THE WAR.
Basically these working guidelines involves two tools:
a) a capacity for listening
b) a capacity for giving help.
THE CAPACITY FOR LISTENING:
it can be summed up as the will never to represent ourselves, not to speak of ourselves, but rather always to keep in mind our need to know the other one. We must always remember that, apart from this need, there is no relevance for the peace embassy to exist, because it is not possible to oppose the
war without feeling in one's heart the need to know the other one. Without this knowledge, moreover, it will be impossible for us to build up the solidarity to try to oppose war.
THE CAPACITY FOR GIVING HELP:
there is no doubt that any peace embassy, even one with the worst possible organisation, will have a certain capacity to give help. But to be truly effective, this help must be distributed and interspersed. It will be necessary to try to see and understand the problems from the different points of view of the parties in conflict, because the intervention of the peace embassy must tend to build, outside and
inside the country in which it operates, SOLIDARITY for all and not only for one side. Much of the trust that the peoples will be able to put in the peace embassy will depend on this attitude.
NEVER PROMISE WHAT WE ARE NOT SURE OF BEING ABLE TO KEEP: to avoid damaging solidarity
between individuals and peoples, we must always stick to this rule.
REGARDING LOCAL NGO:
in its activity, the embassy, as International Centre for Peoples Diplomacy, will have to interact with local NGOs or correlated groups, urging the formation of MIXED AND JOINT WORK COMMITTEES concerning peace and interventions in solidarity (PEOPLE'S PEACE). These committees should be entrusted with the task of practically elaborating the actions to be carried out on the ground (opening up lines of communication, solidarity and peoples' diplomacy).
The competence for determining and choosing the participants for the work committees remains the chief task of the embassy.
Text drafted by
from the Secretariat of the White Berets