International Peace Institute's Policy Forum: The Culture of Sustaining Peace
By Hailey Payea
On September 5th, I attended the annual International Peace Institute’s (IPI) Policy Forum. This year, it co-hosted the forum with the Al-Babtain Foundation in order to discuss “The Culture of Sustaining Peace”. The culture of sustaining peace is especially important with today’s aggressive political rhetoric.
With the convening of the seventy-third session of the General Assembly on September 18th, the idea of political weaponry and the question of how to move forward in the world has come to the forefront of our minds.
The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is steadily approaching and leads us to answer the question of how to analyze peace culture today. It is difficult to imagine a world that can live without the weaponry that is used as a secure threat. However, the panelists mentioned methods they believe to be useful in developing a world that solves conflicts rather than instigating them.
The forum began with Abdul Aziz Saud Al-Babtain, the founder of the Al-Babtain Foundation. Mr. Al-Babtain discussed war and the principle of how to avoid it. He explained that he wishes to propose the Culture of Sustainable Peace Plan in order to cooperate with actors and to define the concept of the culture of peace. He encouraged the participants to ponder about the concept of peace as linked to necessary actions, resources, and ourselves as well.
After his closing remarks, Al-Babtain pointed out that he had brought his entire family and explained how we should all bring something to the table when it comes to finding mutuality in a world of conflict. Mr. Al-Babtain left the podium and opened the floor to Mr. Kevin Rudd.
Mr. Rudd introduced the panel: H.E. Ambassador Tareq Md. Ariful Islam, Deputy Representative of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the UN; H.E. Ambassador Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative to the United Kingdom to the UN; Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination and UN Executive Office of the Secretary General; and Mr. Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair to IPI
Kevin Rudd opened the panel, discussing the psychology of politics. He began the discussion by opening with a question: is there anyway that, as humans, we could live in a purely peaceful society. He essentially asked the question that brought us all to the International Peace Institute: “What is peace culture and how can we achieve it?”
Following Mr. Rudd’s discussions, Mr. Islam explained that there is a traditional approach to peace, by meaningful engagement of peace building from national ownership. He left his speech open to action and called for the return of displaced peoples to their homes and families.
After Mr. Ariful Islam, H.E. Ambassador Pierce explained, “We live in an environment, where peace is fundamental and we forget cultures that do not have the same experience.” Her perspective focused on three elements. The first was inclusivity and strategizing to be more inclusive to minorities and adversaries. The second was calling for accountable institutions to create equal access in order to ease political tension. The last point emphasized human, economic and social rights. H.E. Ambassador further Pierce noted that this was especially important on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Once Ms. Pierce finished, Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild delivered the last speech in which he underscored that “peace is a collective state of mind.” He clarified his point by stating that in order to achieve real peace, we must humanize the enemy.
Mr. Hochschild reflected on an event where sixty victims of conflict from all sides in Havana were brought together to negotiate peace and share their experiences. These victims did not see each other as family members, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers. They saw one another as symbols of oppressive states and therefore dehumanized the other side. This event looked beyond the simplifications and dehumanization that characterizes the propaganda that comes with warfare, and in many cases, too often succeeds it.
Each speaker brought a fantastic perspective to the theory of peace. We are allowed to question methods and ideas that bring peace to the forefront of our minds. There are ways to implement peace in our day-to-day lives. By living kindly and understanding, we are able to address peace daily. In Mr. Hochschild’s words, this humanization of peace allows us to bring peace into our own hands. Too often we have to make the decision of basic human instinct: the fight or flight mentality. When it comes to interstate relations, no longer should states see one another as adversaries. By surrounding new generations in a world of peace, we can normalize peace into our culture.