MacBride Award 2019 for Elayne Whyte Gómez

Elayne Whyte Gómez

“We wanted to change the world,” Ambassador Elayne Whyte Goméz said of herself and her classmates 24 years ago to an audience of students, staff and community members in a University. That aspiration continues to fuel her work. Ambassador Whyte is a career diplomat who is proudly serving as a Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office in Geneva. “Costa Rica which is a country that decided 70 years ago to have a different approach to peace and security by abolishing its armed forces. So that means for a country like us, that we have put all our trust in an international system, that through rules and institutions we can resolve the conflicts and problems of humanity” she explains.

This dedication to improving international law inspired this young diplomat to lead successfully the negotiations of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017, as an ultimate step of successful disarmament treaty negotiations.

Between 2014 and 2015, she was co-Chair of the 5th Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). She is currently a member of the Committee on the Implementation of Article 5 of the Conference of the States parties to the Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention (APLC) and a Vice-president of the Conference of the States parties of the APLC. She was Vice-president of the Second Conference of the States Parties of Arms Trade Treaty.

Her leadership at the UN conferences negotiating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons from March to July 2017 was a background of the success of the Treaty. The negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion in July 2017 and are ratified up to now by 26 countries and signed by 70. She developed during the conference a new style of work allowing the contribution of civil society and experts, together with diplomats. She is deeply connected to nuclear disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons.

IPB is proud to award Mrs Gomez the Sean Mc Bride Prize, for her invaluable contribution to the completion of the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and salute the work and dedication of this young woman in a key disarmament process where too fewer women have the opportunity to lead.

MacBride Award 2019 for Bruce Kent

Bruce Kent

Bruce Kent is an internationally known peace activist and a “real peace hero” who, even in his 90th year, remains an active campaigner and organizer for peace and human rights. He was one of the main speakers at the big march and demonstration against nuclear weapons in London in 2016.

Bruce was ordained as a Catholic Priest in the Diocese of Westminster in London in 1958 and became a Chaplain to Pax Christi in from 1974-1977. He joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 1960 and was elected chair from 1977-1979, becoming the General Secretary in 1979 for 6 years. He was elected CND Chair again from 1987-1990. He was also Chair of War on Want from 1974-1976 and was the British co-ordinator for the Hague Appeal for Peace in 1999. He is now a Vice-President of CND, Pax Christi and Movement for the Abolition of War (which he co-founded in 2001).

He was also one of the founders and main organizers of the European Nuclear Disarmament Campaign in the 1980s. He was also, in 1988, one of the main organizers of a 1000-mile peace walk from Warsaw to NATO HQ in Brussels to call for a united peaceful nuclear-free Europe.

Bruce was also IPB President from 1985 till 1992 and he has been an inspiration to so many people of all ages in the UK and elsewhere.

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On Saturday 19th of September, Bruce Kent received the Seán MacBride Peace Prize Medal in London. Here you can see some photos from the ceremony and get an impression!

When Nobel Peace Laureates meet. The 17th Nobel Summit.

When Nobel Peace Laureates meet. The 17th Nobel Summit.

Make your mark for peace!

The first Nobel Summit was organized 20 years back, initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev with resources from the Nobel Peace Prize, which he earned in 1990. Nobel peace laureates have met almost every year since then, to strengthen their engagement for peace, to discuss topical questions of interest to world peace and make suggestions for action. Strong recommendations have been made, not least in relation to non-violence, nuclear disarmament and the relation between peace and the environment. See www.nobelpeacesummit.com. The high-level meeting also gives the participants the possibility to discuss their own on-going projects and create a deeper understanding, cooperation and networks.

The 17th Nobel Summit was organized in Mexico, 19. – 22. September this year with the theme Make your mark for peace. 30 laureates met 10 individuals and 20 organizations. I was invited to speak on peace education, which was a top theme this year, but ended up also representing IPB since Lisa Clark, who took over after me as co-president of IPB, last minute had to cancel her participation.

Since the meeting was in Merida on the Yucatan peninsula, it was natural that the situation of Indigenous Peoples and what the world can learn from them was high on the agenda. Some 60% of the inhabitants of Yucatan have Maya-Indian ancestors. With the climate and environmental crisis, perhaps we are ready to listen more carefully to old Maya Indian wisdom about the relationship between Mother Earth and us, and see the intimate relations and interdependences that we have allowed ourselves to ignore for far too long? Listening to Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Nobel peace laureate in 1992, speaking about the sacred land of the Maya people and seeing how she operates among her own people with deep respect, care, love, and encouragements, was among my strongest experiences during this summit. We were also taken to visit traditional Maya villages and see their wonderful pyramids, some up to 3000 years old. The Secretariat of the Nobel Summits reminded us of the Earth Charter, developed by the Club of Rome, not least by President Gorbachev, Maurice Strong and Federico Mayor from UNEP and UNESCO respectively. The Earth Charter presents fundamental principles for a just, sustainable and peaceful global society. It should continue to inspire us.

Mexico has been at the forefront of nuclear disarmament. The Mexican diplomat Alfonso Garcia Robles got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 for his disarmament efforts together with Alva Myrdal. He was one of the initiators of the treaty of Tlateloco in 1967 that established Latin America and the Caribbean as a nuclear weapon-free zone. Mr. Robles was both thanked and honoured during the meeting. And how it felt good to be in a nuclear weapon-free zone! For our survival, the planet as such should urgently become nuclear weapons-free. Mexico also hosted the second of the big meetings on the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. The first meeting was in Oslo and the last in Vienna in December 2014, which led to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The struggle for nuclear disarmament remains central to the work of the Nobel Summits. A special statement was agreed and partly integrated into the final Merida statement. Nobel laureates urge governments to sign and ratify the UN Treaty.

The level of violence is lower in Yucatan than in the rest of the country, but still too high, in particular violence against women. Yucatan, like the country and the bigger region, is also struggling with poverty, inequality, joblessness and an insufficient health system. The governor of Yucatan, Mauricio Vila Dosal, made commitments to strengthen his peace efforts, seemingly with great engagement and enthusiasm. Also, the President of Mexico, Manuel Lopez Obrador, honoured the meeting with his presence. He was reminded of his commitment to establishing a commission to work on the prevention of violence. I had a fruitful meeting with the Minister of Education and the minister of Women’s Affairs of Yucatan and their staff together with Kailash Satyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 together with Malala Yousafzai. We got a good insight into the challenges of the school system, not least in relation to sexualized violence and pregnancy among schoolgirls. They are all set to start with peace education at different levels of the school system. They were interested e.g. in the relevant normative instruments of UNESCO, in the UNESCO Associated Schools Project and the civil society project Global Campaign for Peace Education, developed out of the Hague Appeal for Peace.

Over the last years, it has been conceived as increasingly important to involve young people in dialogues with the Nobel Peace Laureates. This year some 1200 students and teachers participated, half of them from Mexico and the other half from different countries. The students were present in the plenary sessions and organized peace labs and workshops to further deepen their knowledge. I met the students in the two plenary panels I participated in on nuclear disarmament and on peace education, Love of power or power of love. And I contributed to a workshop on the nuclear danger, together with the Peace Boat. The students also developed their own Youth statement. Both students and Nobel laureates supported a Friday School strike for the environment – and a future. Based on preparatory work done by IPB, I had a ”strategic change impact meeting” on peace and technology convened by Scott Cunningham and Lisa Short. A mission statement was developed with the view to develop ”a social impact community stock exchange” to help amplify grass-root voices for peace, hopefully, to be presented at the next Nobel Summit.

On the last day of the Summit, several prizes were given. The Peace Summit Award went to the singer and well-doer Ricky Martin, who answered with a fierce show. This year’s publication on Nobel laureates, Being Nobel, developed by Livia Malcangio of the Permanent Secretariat of the Summit was given to everybody. The whole Secretariat, and not least the president, Ekaterina Zagladina, deserves a lot of credit for having organized yet another big and successful summit. I left with new knowledge and new inspiration to continue the work for peace, however hopeless it may feel from time to time. Hopefully, both the final declaration and the strong urge to build a culture of peace will be useful also for those who were not present in Merida.

 

Ingeborg Breines

Sigerfjord, Norway, October 2019

Press Conference: Counteractions marking the NATO’s 70th Anniversary

On the 12th of March 2019, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) held a press conference on the premises of its Berlin Office. The aim of the event was to present to the German press the various events and demonstrations being organised to mark the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO), which will happen on the 4th of April 2019.

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