Celebrating the First 10 Years of the Global Campaign for Peace Education

Tony Jenkins

Coordinator, Global Campaign for Peace Education

(Welcome letter: Issue #61 – January 2009)  

Dear friends of the Global Campaign,

10 years ago this coming May, civil society held the largest international peace conference in history, the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in The Hague, Netherlands.  During the five-day gathering, participants discussed and debated mechanisms for abolishing war and creating a culture of peace in the 21st century.  The purpose of the conference was to raise questions as to whether or not at the end of the bloodiest century in history “humanity can find a way to solve its problems without resorting to arms, and is war still necessary or legitimate given the nature of weapons currently in arsenals and on drawing boards worldwide, and can civilization survive another major war?”  One of the outcomes of the conference was agreement on the urgent need and role of peace education in transforming this globalized system of insecurity and culture of violence.  Thus the Global Campaign for Peace Education (GCPE) was born. 

In this 10th anniversary year of the GCPE we have much to reflect upon and many lessons to learn.  The GCPE is a non-formal network, comprised of organizations and individuals from around the world, each working in their own respective ways and communities to contribute to the growth and development of peace education.  One of the often repeated lessons, cited in many of the news articles featured in this newsletter, is that there is no one particular to approach to peace education and the best approaches are typically those that are culturally and contextually specific in terms of form, methodology and content.  Although our needs and approaches may be unique, we find unity in our commitment to reducing and eliminating violence through education and learning.  This commitment to education requires that we, ourselves, remain active and engaged learners who are open to learning from each other. 

As the secretariat of the GCPE we are committing ourselves this anniversary year to several actions that we hope will facilitate increased opportunities for us to share and learn from each other about best strategies, culled from around the world, for promoting and advancing peace education.  Sometime in the next few months we will be launching the new GCPE website to consolidate resources and improve communication and networking capacities.  On the new website individuals and organizations will be able to post searchable profiles of their work as it relates to peace education.  We hope this new feature will allow GCPE members to communicate directly with each other; to aid others in finding local experts in the field; and to increase visibility on a global scale of all the formal and non-formal organizations who are engaged in peace education.

With the launching of this new website we will also be conducting an online, global survey to learn from you 1) the strategies you’ve found most effective in promoting peace education locally, regionally and/or globally over the past 10 years; 2) the challenges, obstacles and opportunities you see for peace education for the next ten years; and 3) suggestions you might have for how the volunteer run secretariat might better support local/regional/national organizations and educators in meeting the goals of the campaign.  We intend to publish and freely distribute the findings of this survey in late 2009. 

We always wish to begin the New Year with a spirit of hope and promise for change.  With the human crisis in Gaza and the global economic gloom, the beginnings of 2009 have been turbulent and filled with despair.  However, in the midst of these events I have been inspired by the strengthened resolve of peace educators, particularly those from Israel and Palestine who attended the 2008 International Institute on Peace Education in Haifa.  Rather than conceding to hopelessness, these peace educators have been actively corresponding, acting in solidarity and community, and seeking to learn from each other.  It is in this spirit of community that I find the kindling of a fire, fueling our hope so that peace and non-violence may light the way to our future.

Yours in peace and solidarity,

Tony Jenkins

Coordinator, Global Campaign for Peace Education
Co-Director, Peace Education Center at Teachers College, Columbia University
Global Coordinator, International Institute on Peace Education