““By Sharing our lifes with disable people, drug addicts and minors without families, we try to get their voices everywhere, especially to those who have the power to liberate and oppress. (…) Of so many existing ministries, I would have liked you to have added another one: the Ministry of Peace. Men have always organized the war. The time has come to organize peace “
Letter to the President of the Council – Year 2001
Don Oreste Benzi – Founder Community Pope John XXIII
Peace is one of the raison d’être of the UN system as it clearly emerges from the historical facts that led to the creation of the United Nations Organization and from the UN Charter. Given its relevance, peace has always been at the centre of the UN work and during the last decades some Member States and civil society organizations have striven for the recognition of the right to peace. This process has finally led to the adoption of the 2016 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/71/189 “Declaration on the Right to Peace”. We have no intention to hide that the formulation of such a right has been a non-consensual process and Member States still have divergent positions on the matter.
Our idea of the Ministry of Peace finds its origin in the thought of the founder of our community APG23, Don Oreste Benzi, and was then elaborated and deepened over the years by our association. Don Oreste Benzi claimed the establishment of a Ministry of Peace in 1994 in an open letter to the Italian government. He believed that since men have always been organizing wars, it was high time to organize peace and the Ministry of Peace should be tasked precisely with this mission. Taking Don Oreste Benzi’s thought as an inspiration, in 2017 APG23 launched a national campaign to promote the establishment of a Ministry of Peace in Italy; this national campaign has received a great support from many other Italian civil society organizations and academia. APG23 continues its campaign and its advocacy efforts in Italy for the creation of a Ministry of Peace.
The goal of the following document is to propose a way forward in the Declaration on the Right to Peace implementation and more generally in the achievement of a lasting and sustainable peace. Based on art. 3 of Declaration on the Right to Peace, which calls for “appropriate sustainable measures to implement the present Declaration”, we develop our idea about what type of measure can be taken to implement peace.
The Human Rights Council (HRC) is the right place to push for such efforts. Given the concept of peace that will be outlined in this document and its strong relationship with human rights, which is also recognized by General Assembly resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council, the HRC can and should deal with the right to peace and its constitutive elements and this work would not constitute a duplication or interference with the mandate of other UN institutions. Indeed, since peace and human rights are mutually reinforcing, by dealing with and implementing the right to peace and its content, the HRC is fulfilling its mandate of promoting human rights and addressing situations of human rights violations. Vice versa, by promoting human rights and addressing situations of human rights violations, it contributes to the achievement and maintenance of peace – a UN goal.
The aim of this document is to answer to the following questions: why do we need infrastructures for peace and what can be done to put into practice the right to peace at the national and international level?
- The first chapter clarifies the concept of peace: peace is often seen as absence of conflict but instead we must look at it with a systemic approach and consider all its dimensions. Since peace is about human rights, sustainable social and economic development, social justice, good governance and rule of law, by promoting, defending and guaranteeing all these elements, we promote, defend and guarantee peace. In the second part of the first chapter, we deal with the right to peace, a right that ensures the enjoyment of all other rights, and we briefly discuss of the resolutions that led to its formulation to better understand the connection between peace, justice, human rights, sustainable development, good governance.
- In the second chapter, we answer to the question on how States could undertake adequate measures and implement the right to peace. We argue that the best way would be to create an infrastructure for peace, namely the Ministry of Peace, and for this reason, we present the Infrastructures for Peace (I4P) approach that helps us to understand which type of structures can be defined as infrastructures for peace and which are their elements, functions and role. At the end of the chapter we present a list of existing I4P structures, such as government bureau, local peace councils, national peace councils, peace secretariats.
- In the third chapter, we present our main idea: the Ministry of Peace, which we deem to be the best national structure for the implementation of the right to peace. We explain what we mean concretely by Ministry of Peace, its elements and characteristics. Our focus will be on the three hypothetical fields of action of the Ministry of Peace and the functions it could carry out in each field both at domestic and international level. The three hypothetical fields of action are: 1) human rights, 2) conflicts and violence, divided into two areas: violence and conflict prevention, and alternative dispute resolution and reconciliation and 3) peace, divided into two areas: peace culture and education, and promotion of peace policies. For each area, in-depth boxes illustrate some good practices for implementing and promoting peace that explain the concrete measures that the Ministry of Peace could undertake. At the end of the third chapter, we present four cases of peace ministries already existing in the world: Nepal, Costa Rica, Solomon Islands and South Sudan.
Finally, the document concludes with summing up the case for the establishing the Ministry of Peace and recommendations for States. Our goal is concrete and tangible: we want to live in a peaceful world where human rights are respected and we believe that for this end, it is necessary to create a Ministry of Peace that is, in our opinion, the best sustainable structure to implement and guarantee peace.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2019 – Following the proposal of the Ministry of Peace, in 2019, we created an annex to the previous booklet, entitled “Conflict Prevention and Alternative Dispute Resolution through the experience of the APG23 Nonviolent Peace Corps (Operazione Colomba)“, useful to deepen two of the main functions of the Ministry: Violence/ Conflict Prevention and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Moreover, the second publication focuses on the good practices carried out in the countries where Operazione Colomba is currently present: Albania, Lebanon, Palestine and Colombia