From the 10th to the 15th of August 2009, individuals from all parts of the world gathered in Santos, state of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, to participate in the First World Congress of Peace in the Americas. With the support of SENAC, the event gathered experts and interested people in the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace. The event was aimed at people working in issues related to peace building, resolution of conflicts and human rights. All the activities were open to the public, promoting an opportunity to exchange experiences, dialogues and initiatives to strengthen peace.
Every day between 150 and 180 people, in a wide 6-85 age range, attended the activities. The opening took place at the Coliseu Theater, with the participation of Helena Lourenço, President of the Peace World Congress in the Americas, and guest speakers at the congress David Adams, former Director of UNESCO; João Paulo Tavares Papa, Mayor of Santos; Lia Diskin, President of Palas Athena Association; Hans Holz, General Secretary of International Organisation of Popular Arts; Alicia Cabezudo, Visiting Professor at UPEACE; Dina Rodriguez, Director of the Department for Gender and Peace Studies at UPEACE, who were joined by workshop coordinators Marcos Estrada, International Relations of IBEV and former UPEACE student /Peace Education 2007/08, and Renata Cueto de Souza, Peace educator and current postgraduate student at UNIPAZ/Brazil.
On the last day of the event, an UPEACE alumnus Marcos Estrada, who attended the congress representing IBEV (Brazilian institute of education for Life) presented the Earth Charter Earth Charter Values and the Culture of Peace. Marcos talked about the history of the Earth Charter Initiative and how it can be used as tool to disseminate and work in the Culture of Peace. In the end of the presentation he encouraged the participants to endorse and to join the Earth Charter Initiative.
Amongst the lectures and discussion groups
that were held during the week, there were those by Professors Cabezudo and Haavelsrud on “Educating Cities”, followed by workshops conducted by Dr. Adams, Ms. Souza and Mr. Estrada, the latter leading the children’s workshop. The outcomes of this workshop could be seen by drawings prepared by the young participants.
In a meeting at SENAC/Santos (National Service for Commerce Education) attended by the guest speakers and coordinators, Jorge Carlos Silveira Duarte of SENAC, explained how the institution has already implanted some of the concept of Culture of Peace in its local development programs – which was acknowledged by Dr. Adams -, and is currently increasing its actions in Latin America and the Caribbean. While working at UINESCO, Dr. Adams was the director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace (IYCP), proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly, which was the starting point for the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (ranged from 2001 to 2010). Also the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace, for which Dr Adams was responsible for its World Report at the mid-point of the Decade in the year of 2005.
During the meeting Dr. David made an interesting commented ‘I was a psychologist expert in brain mechanisms related to behaviour and I tried to understand war happened in the brain, buy I could not find it. Thus, I started to study anthropology, history and I realised that at university nobody could understand what is going on around the world.’ It shows that war is made by humans and we can stop it.
According to Ms. Lourenço, the ultimate goal of the Congress was to multiply the concept of Culture of Peace in the schools of Santos, reinforcing its status as an Educating City. ‘The idea was to introduce it to the local government and we managed that. We had a meeting with the Vice-Mayor and he liked very much what he saw.’
Indeed, Dr. David has promised Helena Lourenço to return to Santos in 6 months to help her establish a culture of peace commission in Santos. It would involve a number of representatives of the civil society, NGOs and associations, universities, as well as representatives of the local government. In Brazil, there are already commissions in Sao Paulo e Curitiba.
Ms. Rodriguez delivered a lecture on the Peace Education course taught at UPEACE. She talked about the university, the course on Peace Education and others courses offered by the institution. The event ended with the performance of a folkloric group, as it had happened on a daily basis. It is important to highlight the work of the 78 Amarelinhos (yellow jackets volunteers), who played a vital role in the general organisation. The event often appeared in the news – TV channels, radios and newspapers – and it was broadcast live on the Internet.
Article by Marcos Estrada and Renata Cueto de Souza
The congress was broadcasted LIVE and the videos can be found through these links:
1st day of the congress – 10th of August 2009
Welcoming message by the organiser Helena Lourenço
2nd Day of the congress – 11th of August 2009
Opening of the congress
3rd Day of the Congress – 12th of August 2009
Meeting at SENAC prior the 4th day of the congress – 13th of August 2009
4th day of the congress – 13th of August 2009
5th (Last Day) of the congress – 14th of August 2009