Emerging from the conference also were ten basic principles for a just world order which include:
SUNDRY APPRECIATION TO FRIENDS AND PARTNERS ABROAD.
We must seize this singular opportunity to extend our heartfelt appreciation to you all out there in this sub-region who contributed either jointly or severally to make us proud during and after the wonderful conference. Particular mention must be made of Women For Peace in Liberia for their exceptional performance, the nightingale-like songsresses from South Africa; CONYOPA and Peace-Link from Sierra-Leone for bringing to the larger world the concern of innocent children involved in the bloody conflict of the country's civil war.
We have to be immensely grateful to Colin Archer, the General Secretary of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) - the world's oldest peace federation that organized the first conference in 1889 and still maintain the indispensable focus up till this day. Likewise our dear colleague in the Hague Office, Albert van Hal, of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) who continues to hold the forth notwithstanding the daunting challenges. Kudos should also go to David Grant, our erudite "professor" of Nonviolence Education at the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) for the wonderful inspiration, encouragement and morale boosting (particularly when this was low.)
Recognition must also be extended to Heinz Rothenpieler, our able Consultant and Representative in Germany for the implicit trust and confidence in our ability and responsibility. It was the culmination of our joint successful collaborative mutual relationship spanning over a decade that eventually metamorphosed into our emerging not only as the focal point but also as a role model for the Campaign in Africa.
We must also carry on drinking from the milk of human kindness as offered us by our dear brother, colleague and friend, Robert Stewart, Director, Canadian Centers for Teaching Peace in Alberta, Canada for creating and managing this unique means of communication at no cost to us. Apparently without it, reaching out to you all at this our embryonic stage of development would be nothing but a mirage owing to financial and materials reasons. Thanks to Bob's incessant magnanimity, as well, you will be able to locate and get everything about us from time to time on the Internet - the information technological super highway.
LIKEWISE TO OUR 'HOME' ASSOCIATES AND FRIENDS.
That this incredible effort, which commenced toward the last quarter of 1998 like a child's play could be concluded with a resounding success is a prodigy from God Almighty, the merciful, the benevolent and the compassionate. He, all along, has been our refuge and strength - a very present help in trouble through this turbulent terrestrial journey.
A good number of people, however, deserve special gratitude for the invaluable assistance rendered in the course of this energy sapping and time consuming project. Most prominent among them is Moise Akognon who, since inception of PARC in 1988 has been our alter ego in all vital ramifications particularly during the "dark days" of uncertainty, confusion and despair.
We are particularly grateful also to our budding National Programmes Officer, Sylvanus Okon, who ensures always the speedy dispatch of our correspondence abroad: telephone, fax and computerized transmission of mails that led to the speedy production of both our management and technical report.
Our whale of appreciation also goes to 'Biodun Mosuro of Mabom Technical Services for his immense contribution particularly the partial and temporary use of his office accommodation as well as facilities before and during the stressful preparation for the campaign earlier in 1999.
The same also goes to Mrs. Salawat Omoshalewa Salami for her painstaking gradual but steady involvement at all stages of the project in Nigeria and in certain cases too at the expense of her private and domestic commitments.
We also recognize the indefatigable efforts of Reverend Lansana, the Executive Director of Current Evangelism Ministries (CEM) in Sierra-Leone. It was his indisputable tenacity of purpose, unflinching commitment and progressive idealism towards the cause of social justice by this servant of God that transformed him from 'Contact Facilitator' to his present position as the National HAP Coordinator for the country.
Between July 4 and 11, 1999 we were in Ghana at the instance and partial sponsorship of IFOR (International Fellowship of Reconciliation - of which we are the affiliate in Africa)to attend the meeting of the Brussels based CIDSE network. This is a group of 16 Catholic organizations worldwide funding peace-work in Africa. It was, in deed, a great opportunity for us to meet and interact with the representatives of each group for the purpose of redesigning and chartering a new course for our work in the region.
While in the country the very incredible hospitality and the hands of fellowship extended to us by some of our colleagues most especially Emmanuel Bombande and Samuel Doe as well as the entire staff of WANEP (West African Network for Peace-Building) in Accra will continue to linger in our memory for a long time. We will equally not forget in a hurry the purposeful brainstorming sessions we had with representatives of different organizations particularly from the human rights community as facilitated by our fellow IFORer and President of MAUD, Kingsley Ayettey.
There are others as well too numerous to mention and whose direct and indirect support remains too important to ignore not only in Nigeria but also in the rest of the 16 ECOWAS countries to which our tentacle was widely and efficiently spread for the past one year. Kudos to you all.
It stands to reason that the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice will help a lot in allaying the fears of the people and nurture their hope for the new millennium. Obviously the air of political transformation blowing across the world encourages the settlement of a number of violent inter and intra state conflicts. In our region in particular, we continue to be subject to under-development and attendant poverty exacerbated by psychological and material impact of war, ever growing number of refugees, internally displaced persons, demobilized soldiers and destitute from wars, high technological crimes, violence and moral degradation.
As rightly noted in the background paper to the UNESCO's international conference on "Culture of Peace" held in Maputo, Mozambique in September, 1997: "Conflict though defined as the manifestation of different opposing views and interests is not necessarily a negative phenomenon and does not need to degenerate into violence. The practice and theory of constructive conflict resolution clearly indicate that it is possible to change the way that individuals, groups and communities address their differences.
STRENGTHENING LOCAL CAPACITIES
"According to item 28 of the indispensable Hague Agenda for Peace document: "Too often, violent conflict is "resolved" by external actors with little or no reference to the wishes of those who must live with the solution. As a result, the solution reached is often short-lived. If efforts to prevent, resolve and transform violent conflict are to be effective in the long-term, they must be based on the strong participation of local civil society groups committed to building peace. Strengthening such "local capacities" is vital to the maintenance of peace and may take many forms from education and training and nurturing the volunteer spirit in society, to increased funding of local peace-building initiatives and highlighting the work of local peace-makers in the media."
It is on this lofty food-for-thought that the West Africa Coordination based its work as outlined earlier in the previous edition of "Through The Looking Glass" as well as our six year Plan of Action released a few weeks ago. If you are yet to get a copy please feel free to request for it. We have in stock, as well, copies of "Peace Matters" - the official newsletter, the brochure and speeches made by notable personalities: Cora Weiss, Bill Pace, Kofi Anan etc^Å at the Hague Conference in case you may want them for your records.
It was Welter Wink that said: "If those of us who oppose war were unambiguously committed to nonviolence, we could creditably appeal to governments and insurgents to mitigate the degree of barbarity in wars, and consider the possibility of nonviolent approach." Yes, we must all pool all our human, material and financial resources to effectively discourage the horrors and senseless violent conflicts that have been the bane snuffing lives out of thousands of innocent people mostly women and children from both our immediate and remote environments.
As we are about to enter into the second anniversary of the historic conference, the need for us to reflect on the past and devise the means for a better future of the project in the sub-region cannot be over-emphasized. For this purpose the HAP - West Africa Bureau will be issuing out a new set of questionnaires for both the old and the new emerging groups. This will enable us to compile a new list of member groups and eventually set up an official database. Everybody is therefore invited to request for them since this is the only way we can identify your existence and jointly work toward the efficient and successful propagation of the lofty project in our sub-region.
Please bear with us that until further notice, this facility, regular e-mail and fax will be our easiest media of communication owing to our ever-increasing workload as well as inadequate resources. This does not mean that we shall not be attending to mails that require immediate and urgent attentions.
Considering the fact that the government of Nigeria has now fully embraced the Decade Appeal of the Nobel Laureates (it was, in deed, no mean task for us) for which the presidency has involved three separate ministries(Culture and Tourism, Education and Information) the coming days are going to be not only tasking but also more time consuming for us because of our expected widow's mite contribution to make the project a huge success just like it was the case for PARC during the ill-fated presidential election of June 1993.
Thanks for your kind attention.
Yours very sincerely.
Co-ordinator, HAP - West Africa.
c/o Pan-African Reconciliation Council,
P.O.Box 9354 Marina,
Tel (234-1) 7590270 Fax: 2646084/FDS 091
E-mail: [email protected]