[fyeg_gen-l] ministry for peace July Newsletter fyi

Markus Petz markus at fyeg.org
Fri Jul 16 12:09:19 CEST 2004

This newish organization in Britain is helping bring Peace to a Warlike
country. Sent FYI
Website: http://www.ministryforpeace.org.uk



Wednesday 14th July Open Meeting at the House of Commons
7pm Grand Committee Room

Marianne Williamson, author and peace campaigner, will be talking about
the Department of Peace campaign
launched by Congressman Dennis Kucinich 

Panel Discussion

An introduction to "Defensive Defence" or "Non Offensive Defence"

New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan and Sweden have official defence/foreign
policies which preclude them from attacking other countries.    Could
this model be adopted in the UK?

Chaired by David Wardrop (Chair, UNA Westminster)     


Letter to Parliamentarians

We want to build up more support for the concept of a Ministry for Peace
within Parliament. When they returned to Parliament after the June
elections, all 1400 MPs and members of the
 House of Lords received an emailed letter from us.  Here is the text:   

Dear Parliamentarian,

War isn't working. It isn't working for the Iraqi people. It isn't
working for British and US troops.
And it certainly isn't working for the public on either side of the
Atlantic. And if it isn't serving
any of these groups, it isn't serving you, the politicians. The
casualties of this conflict extend way
beyond Iraqi borders. It strikes at the heart of Parliament, at the
confidence and security of the
British public, and at the very truth of what this country feels it

More than a million people in the UK marched against war. Parliament
chose to vote the other
way. A dangerous gap is opening up. To bring the people and Parliament
back together we need a
new initiative. As Albert Einstein said, "You cannot solve a problem
with the same thinking which
created it." Well, maybe it's time to change our thinking. Maybe it's
time for the UK to take a
different role.

Last October, a cross-party group of MPs, headed by John McDonnell and
John Randall, took the
first step towards this new thinking. The Ministry for Peace Bill they
sponsored is an initiative that
sends a clear signal to the British public that Parliament is listening.
That there is another way to
deal with conflict. That it is possible to establish peace and security
through non-violent means.
At the same time, an organisation called ministry for peace was set up
outside Parliament to support
this initiative and inform society. Together, we aim to make peace as
powerful a word as war.
This is no sandals and candles brigade; we are not calling for pacifism.
The Ministry for Peace
initiative is a call for strength, and for sharing programmes that work.
Above all, it is a call for the
unity of all those who seek a realistic alternative to war - even in the
armed forces. Broadly based
and seriously minded, it seeks to put peace at the heart of the
political agenda - as agreed by the
UK Government when it signed up to the UN Declaration on a Culture of
Peace in 1999. With
violence increasing daily around the world, it is an idea whose time has
come. The US is
developing its own initiative, the Department of Peace, led by
Representative Dennis Kucinich.
And similar moves are underway in Canada and various countries across

The people of the world are watching us. They have seen how the UK has
handled itself in war.
What will regain their respect is how we handle our contribution to

Where do you stand? Will you support a Ministry for Peace? If so, we
invite you to help in its

We look forward to hearing from you. 

It will be interesting to see what kind of response this receives.


Glastonbury Festival

John McDonnell was given a few minutes between acts on the Pyramid Stage
at this year's Glastonbury Festival, to talk about the need for a
Ministry for Peace. He followed a very dynamic performance by the
Scissor Sisters, smoke and all! There was a vast crowd out in front and
it was great to be able to take the message to a whole new audience. On
the Sunday afternoon Diana had a 30 minute slot in the Speaker's Forum
in the Green Fields. 

We had a modest stall for our first appearance at the Festival but it
was very well placed - right next door to the Speaker's Forum - so
enabled us to give away quite a number of our leaflets. We are indebted
to Neville who proposed the idea of mfp going to Glastonbury and who
worked tirelessly for several months to make it happen.  Our thanks also
to Shruti who staffed the stall along with Neville for the whole five
days, rain and shine.   There are a couple of photos on the website.


 Scottish Parliament debate

Following mfp's visit to Scotland earlier in the year, Chris Ballance,
MSP, asked for a debate in the Scottish Parliament. This was held at the
end of June.  Here is Chris's report:

"I was very pleased with the debate - it was a dignified, consensual
occasion. The public gallery was much, much fuller than we usually see
for a Member's Debate, and seemed to follow the debate closely. I
thought the debate showed the parliament at its best.

Although the Minister was, perhaps understandably, reluctant to make
commitments in the moment of the debate, he did promise to give serious
consideration to the matters raised. From what we heard him saying
afterwards, it seems that we managed to put education for peace on his
radar, whereas he hadn't considered it before, and to make him think
very seriously of doing something to encourage and promote it.

I attach a link to the official Report of the debate below.* In my
speech I called for three things: for the Curriculum guidelines to
include mention of the skills needed for non-violent resolution of
disputes, and to respect differences; a review of the initiatives going
on at present, with a view to promoting best practice and enabling all
schools to access this; and a wider review of peace initiatives across
society, from churches, voluntary sector, to workplaces.

I would like to concentrate on the first two because I think they are
eminently realisable. If you feel that you can support these, please do
write to Ewan Robson, Deputy Minister for Education and Young People,
noting your interest in the debate, thanking him for his commitment to
consider these issues, and asking him to inform you of any developments
in this field. I felt myself that the long list of initiatives he gave
illustrated the point that there is a lot going on, but we must ensure
that peace education is something which all schools partake in, not just
the better, more aware ones.

Again, if you know people in Scotland who you feel would be supportive
of this, do feel free to pass this email and request on to them. Thank
you for your support. It was a great help to know that this initiative
had such a wide range of support

  *  http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ 


Marshall Rosenberg and NVC

We had a wonderful evening with Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of NVC,
(Non Violent Communication) at our last House of Commons open meeting in
June. It would be incredibly beneficial if schools were to introduce his
NVC programme at all levels.  It is a simple process and really allows
to express their needs and hear other's needs without causing offence or
being offended.    The feedback at the end of our meeting with nearly
100 people present was a thunderous round of applause.

The mfp National Co-ordinating Committee are going to be trained in NVC
in September to ensure that 
communication within the group can be the best possible for the
momentous task in hand.


mfp leaflet

We now have a very attractive leaflet available.  If you are attending
any meetings where you think people would be receptive to the idea of 
a Ministry for Peace, let us know and we will send you a batch. 
Write to: mail at ministryforpeace.org.uk


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