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Saturday, August 05, 2006 

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Peace builders explore ideas for ongoing peace

By Chamanlall NaipaulPEACE building does not happen by chance, as it is everyone’s business at the level of conception and practice, Guyanese academic and writer Kampta Karran said yesterday as local peace builders met on the issue.

At the meeting at the Abraham Convention Centre on Regent Street, Georgetown, he recalled that the ongoing process to build peace started several years ago.

According to Mr Karran, yesterday’s meeting was timely, as it offered the opportunity to find out what was being done, as well as a reminder that especially during the elections season, non-violent forms of negotiating change should be embraced.

He argued that against the background of the front page stories in yesterday’s edition of all the daily newspapers, the need for peace is vital if the society is to stay whole and recover from the conflict-torn state which exists.

Karran said peace building includes the praxis of truth, justice, liberty, dignity, unity, respect for difference, and participatory democracy.

“Justice is integral to peace building. A newly-coined word, JUSTPEACE, appropriately captures this,” Karran said.

He added: “While international agencies like UNICEF, UNDP, and USAID have been supporting peace building efforts, for us to realise peace here, Guyanese will have to own the process.
National ownership will ensure the focus which the Guyanese people want. Further, for the peace process to sustain itself, it has to be driven by those affected by the destruction caused by violence. For peace to win, the people must be committed to its realisation.”

He noted that over the years, many Guyanese and their respective organisations have been working for peaceful means of dealing with differences, and their endeavours have been supported by international agencies.

He identified the establishment of several bodies and activities as steps which have been taken in the promotion of the peace process, including the Ethnic Relations Commission, the Inter-Religious Organisation, the United Nations Association of Guyana, the Media Monitoring Unit and peace rides.

Peace building involves a passionate and informed constituency that will own the peace building process and advocate peaceful and non-violent change, and replacement of rigid religious and ideological frameworks by a vibrant and profound commitment to humanity itself, nurtured by a profound diversity of cultural and inspirational communities, Karran exhorted.

“Loyalty to values must override loyalty to group,” he reiterated.

He added that decency and kindness must be the hallmarks of both thinking and action, and must oppose all that is cruel and destructive, and must not fall into a trap of demonising people, but instead work to win friends.

The event yesterday brought together Guyanese peacebuilders to develop ideas and strategies for ongoing peace building in Guyana, as well as representatives of several organisations.

The peace builders were trained in peace building, conflict transformation and mediation under the Guyana Social Cohesion Programme, and have participated in programmes supported by the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Copyright GNNL August 2006

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