Public meeting on the proposal to establish a
Ministry for Peace
Saturday 21 July 2007
Centre for Global Action, Wellington, New Zealand
Presentation by Peace Through Unity - Kate Smith
Presentation by Peace Through Unity - Chelsea-Anne Phillips
Summary and list of Decisions and proposals
The event included individuals from a range of ethnic communities, representatives from civil society organizations (peace, women, labour and human rights), city officials and parliamentary representatives.
Session 1: 10:30 - 12:15. Public meeting and consultation.
Presentations were made by Kate Smith (Operation Peace Through Unity), Chelsea-Anne Phillips (Youth Delegate for Operation Peace Through Unity), Dame Laurie Salas (United Nations Association), Keith Locke (Member of Parliament, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Green Party) and Alyn Ware (Peace Foundation and International Peace Bureau). This was followed by a general discussion on the proposal.
Key themes expressed included:
- the importance of grassroots engagement in the process
- the need to educate about peace as a process happening at all levels of society - not just at the international level
- the need to link and highlight existing activities for peace in the community
- possibilities for a phased approach to establishing a Ministry, including the possibility of a Peace Commission (similar to the Human Rights Commission, Families Commission and Children's Commission)
- the role of establishing Peace Cities as a step towards a Ministry and as a positive model of government and civil society collaboration
- accountability in a Ministry to ensure it was not captured by the political leanings of the government (or become an Orwellian institution)
- scope of the Ministry including whether it could be a Ministry for Peace, Disarmament and Human Rights
Session 2: 13:00 - 14:30. Organisation, structure and campaign building.
In this session we discussed structure of the campaign in Aotearoa-New Zealand, representation in the Global Alliance and promotion of the initiative amongst key constituencies.
The following decisions were made:
- An Aotearoa-New Zealand Network for a Ministry for Peace was established. Any organization or individual can join. The network will enable sharing of information about activities undertaken by the various groups in support of a Ministry for Peace. The network is not an organization and so will not establish any formal oversight or committee structure. Key member organizations will work together on aspects of the campaign including the arranging of national meetings as appropriate (It was recommended that these take place twice per year).
- The 5 point proposal of Operation Peace Through Unity (attached) would be circulated to all who attended the meeting and would be adopted unless there is an objection from someone after reading it in full
- The Peace Foundation would maintain the membership/contact list for the network
- Sophia la Toa will represent the network at the Global Alliance Summit in Japan Sep 21-25. Any organization active in the campaign can also send their own individual representative/delegate if they so desire. It was recommended that delegates to the Global Alliance Summits work together as one delegation from Aotearoa-New Zealand.
The following proposals were made and received general support:
- A petition calling for a Ministry for Peace be developed as a tool to engage public, build support and enable parliamentarians to raise the proposal in parliament.
- A special consultation be organized with Government Departments to discuss how a Ministry for Peace would relate to their departments, and to build inter-departmental support. This should include the ministries of education, youth development, justice, social welfare, women's affairs, foreign relations, police, and defence, as well as the commissions for human rights, race relations, families and children.
- Prior to the establishment of a Ministry for Peace, the Network and its members develop and implement aspects of such a Ministry as components of a 'virtual' Ministry for Peace.
- The Ministry for Peace campaign encourage citizens and member organizations to promote the establishment of Peace Cities as such a component of a 'virtual' Ministry and as a stepping stone towards the establishment of an actual Ministry for Peace
- A national speaking tour to promote a Ministry for Peace be undertaken. Such a tour could include youth reps, respected New Zealanders and possibly a high-level overseas guest (such as U.S. Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich).
- The Network, and its members, should do more concerted outreach to church, religious and spiritual organizations.