Culture is the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group. It includes not only arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs.” – Mexico City Declaration on Cultural Policies, World Conference on Cultural Policies Mexico City, 26 July – 6 August 1982.
A recent training, organized by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), on “Strengthening effectiveness in humanitarian operations: Improving problem-solving and negotiation skills” covered the various policies relating to cultural conflicts, peace, negotiations, and war. Training was highly interactive and informative. The USIP Program officer, Ray Caldwell, emphasized the program objectives and discussed issues based on his experience. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs, he said how every individual can solve the cultural conflict.
The United States Institute Of Peace
Cultural Differences Give Different Perspectives
Dr. Gary Weaver, a professor at American University said “we can compare hidden parts of cultural mainstream or traditional. One culture may emphasise individualism and independence while another values collectivism and interdependence. When people from different cultures come together there is often misunderstanding and conflict. The people of each culture know and understand what is appropriate for their society.”
Participants in the training were able to discuss extensively many different religion and cultural differences. Dr. Howard Wolpe says “The culture of impunity must of course be ended if there is to be any lasting conflict resolution – but you can not do this without fundamental political reconciliation. Human rights advocates make a serious mistake if they approach issues of justice as if they were non-negotiable matters. Justice without reconciliation is an oxymoron and so is reconciliation without justice.” Wolpe was president Clinton’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa for five years.
The training focused on conflict analysis, problem solving strategies, negotiation skills and third party skills such as mediation and facilitation. Peace conflict and war issues were discussed and given importance in the training. Apart from this, topics such as “Getting your way” success in negotiating, 3rd party roles: mediation, problem-solving and analysis, NGOs and Government role were also discussed in great detail. The training’s objectives were appropriate to the situation.
In the training, Major John Storer and Major Michael Dejarnette presented a paper on US Army civil Affairs Mission/ Activities in Afghanistan. Dr, Deepa Ollapally and Dr. Patricia Gossman’s paper, “South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities,” also was presented.
“There are plenty of problems and plenty of reasons why an institute full of sound, forward-looking thinkers has an enormous role to play in dealing with the challenges that lie ahead.” – Former president George Bush.
USIP has been helping professionals, peacemakers and individuals to undertake the difficult task of bringing peace to troubled countries around the world.
The absolute poverty in which approximately one fifth of the world’s population lives, causes them to eke out their living through terrorism, as they have no options other than that. So toward eliminating the conditions that sustain terrorism, USIP should work between the government and rebels and support a negotiated settlement under the UN. It is not easy to bring peace in the conflict areas. If there is a regional conflict that can spread to the sub-region.
Where To Implement Training
This kind of training is most necessary for the South Asian region. USIP must expand its role and program in the south Asian countries including Nepal. People need training, educational program on peace through out the country.
We should develop working relationships, and broaden networks of individuals involved in peace. Conflict resolution through governance requires an analysis of all the relevant actors.Until we eliminate the poverty and deprivation, violence will remain. Any party involved in violence should take special measures to protect civilians. They should also respect particularly the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Optional Protocol of 1999, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, to ratify the Rome Statute setting up the International Criminal Court, and implement the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
The United States Institute of Peace training was held in Arlington VA.