SUMMER 2013 PEACE COURSE: Community Leaders Tackle Urgent Social Challenges Toward Human Security

THE Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) in tandem with Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA) conducted the annual 3rd Summer Peace-Building Course from April 15 to 18. Some 40 religious and community leaders and frontliners from civil societies, barangays, local governments and special interest groups took part, which was held at the Claret Formation Center, Zamboanga City.

The course is a modest but serious project whose objective is to empower the participants to be highly motivated and well-trained adepts in community peace-making. Barangay officials, for example, would learn how good governance translates to social harmony and human security; pastors and other religious would learn how to build communal solidarity through the power of religious faith. By tapping these local leaders, the project aims to eventually increase peace constituencies who are citizens who understand the elements of peace and are committed to make it a reality in their family and community. That such a vision-mission is pursued against heavy odds posed by inherent communal and structural violence does not make it utopian but instead a challenge that throughout human history has triumphed again and again, PAZ said.

This year’s 3rd summer course, though, significantly deviated from its two previous modules. Instead of delving into such “traditional” topics as Culture of Peace, Six Paths to Peace, or Conflict Management and Transformation, the course focused on urgent current issues. Hence, its topics included Peace Education (start the youth early), Peace and Faith (how religion is harnessed to build interfaith solidarity), Security Sector Reform (government’s new approach to peace-building through the military), Peace and Environment (conservation, climate change and natural disasters), Peace and Good Governance, and Peace and Gender. At the end of the learning sessions, the participants drafted personal/collective action plans which they committed to implement.

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