Autor: Cora Weiss

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Cora Weiss ist Präsidentin des Den Haager Aufrufs für Frieden und Vizepräsidentin des Internationalen Friedensbüros. Sie war ihr gesamtes Erwachsenenleben in Bürgerrechts–, Frauen– und Friedensbewegungen führend aktiv.


The Hague Appeal for Peace


Der Hager Appell für Frieden

Internationale Gesamtschule Heidelberg, UNESCO-Projekt Schule:
Schüler: Alexandra Knopf, Patrizia Klose, Julia Benner, Catharina Kaess, Robert Leibe, Stephan Schmitt,
Fachliche Unterstützung:

In the past decade only governments under the aegis of the United Nations have called world summits. They have covered nearly every issue of concern to humanity. The last summit was to have been on peace, but certain governments objected, so the task was left to civil society, determined to give peace the last word of the most violence-filled century in history. Wishing to put war itself, as an institution, on the deconstruction table, civil society organizations decided to call the last conference of the decade on peace. So, mix a little audacity with a lot of expertise, some great organizing skills, and loads of determination to see war as an institution abolished in the new 21st century, and you get the Hague Appeal for Peace.

1) At first undertaken by four international organizations, the Appeal was later joined by nearly a thousand which endorsed the vision behind a broad approach to peace and justice.The first planning table included three organizations that had worked successfully to mobilize world opinion behind the effort to ask the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the illegality of nuclear weapons. The International Peace Bureau (IPB), International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) were joined by the World Federalist Movement (WFM) to form the core group. Offices were set up in New York, Geneva and The Hague. It was only l996 and email was becoming the daily form of communication. It was new to us and there were many complaints about overuse, but there was an earnest desire to be transparent and democratic, which required frequent consultation.1)
2) The four coordinating organizations eagerly sought a larger decision-making body which was then called the Organizing Committee, and which was responsible for designing most of the discussion sessions and contributing to the final product, the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century. The biggest obstacle to organizing this mammoth effort was lack of funds. Until monies were actually promised or banked, there was reluctance to commit to program. And funders were reluctant to get behind this project with its seemingly lofty goal which would not be measurable. Introducing new ways of thinking and doing for a new century could not be easily measured. And peace and justice, we believed, could not be achieved by disarmament alone, but indeed required a broader approach which took into account human rights, humanitarian law, conflict prevention, understanding root causes of conflict as well as disarmament.2)
3) While the May 1999 conference is history, the memories and legacy of the meeting remain. The most concrete result, the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice in the 21st Century (, a 50 point program based on the four themes of the conference, is now an official UN document. Thanks to Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, it has been sent to every head of state and government. It is used and followed up in many ways, in governmental as well as civil society settings.3)
4) A number of campaigns were adopted or revitalized at the Hague, which continue as coalitions with organizational structures. Peace Education, however, was adopted by the Hague Appeal for Peace as its main program. A worldwide network of top notch educators, a brilliant Educator in Residence from Argentina with a dossier of experience to rival anyone, and the “queen” of peace education in the US, Prof. Betty Reardon, as our academic coordinator, take care of the pedagogical side. Add to that a global network of remarkable, dedicated young organizers whose futures depend on a world without wars, and the Global Peace Education Campaign is off and running. The idea is to integrate into as many schools as possible the idea that peace is a skill that needs to be learned, just as much as reading, writing and arithmetic, known in English as the 3R’s. So we propose, a 4th R, reconciliation. Since we are not born with the skills for peace, we must learn to negotiate, and find! alternate ways to violence in resolving our conflicts. It has been thoroughly researched and determined that children exposed to programs in non-violence training have higher scores in reading and math tests.4)
5) The Hague Appeal for Peace conference was a creative initiative that recognized that until we know what it takes for people to change their minds we need to try everything. Thus we brought a strong cultural component of music, art, theater, dance, and film to the conference. Wishing to build bridges, we also combined the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan with a child victim of land mines in Cambodia; foreign and prime ministers with people from India, Pakistan and Kashmir; Palestinians and Israelis, young people from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and very young people from Colombia. Youth were the heart of the conference, and continue to bring the spirit of the Hague Appeal for Peace to their communities. Follow-up meetings have been held in India, Kenya, The Netherlands, add Germany and the US. The Hague Agenda continues to be circulated wherever civil society meets and was presented to heads of state and government at the UN Millennium Summit in September, 2000.5)
6) If we just get the idea into wide circulation that a new century can support a new idea, and peace studies ought to be part of everyone’s education in the formal and informal sectors, then we will have succeeded. Change does indeed take time, and new ideas are especially difficult with increasingly discriminating people. But, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, so simply, “If Apartheid could go, why not war?”6)
7) I come to this nearly life-long effort to seek justice, equality for women, the closing of the gap between haves and have nots, and alternatives to violence, because of my children, and now my grandchildren. They serve as an ever present reminder that humanity has the resources, the intelligence and the capacity to treat people decently so that they, and all children born into this new century, can enjoy life while contributing at all levels to its improvement.7)
8) The evolution of organized civil society is probably as significant as the invention of the nation state. It is likely that the 21st will be the century of civil society, as governments continue to fail at providing what humanity needs: peace with justice for everyone. Life is too important, it could be very beautiful if we allow the force of law, not the law of force, to succeed. Until that happens, the 10,000 people from over 100 countries who attended the Hague Appeal for Peace conference, will no doubt continue the struggle.8)
9) Peace advocates are often dismissed as unrealistic, they are just “dreamers”. But where would humanity be without dreamers? As our great poet, Carl Sandburg, once said, “Nothing happens unless first a dream”9)

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