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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Peace/Disarmament
  • 2010.11.23
  • 2240

This was my first experience of attending an International Workshop for Peace and Disarmament in the Asia-Pacific Region. I was very interested to learn more about this issue. I appreciate the design of the workshop since it was presented both in a theoretical and pragmatic fashion.  So I got to know more information about the topic and also learn how actions and advocacy are being carried out to address the issue on the security sector. But to fully understand the issue on Civilian Control on the Security Sector I need to read more on this topic which has become a buzzword since 9/11.

For this paper I have chosen to make comments on Session Two – Creating Civil Solidarity for NWF Disarmament and Prevention of Armed Conflict in the Asia Pacific Region. Although, it should be noted that the first session on Security Policies and Civil Priorities in the Asia-Pacific Region the presenters provided a good background on the topic that primarily focused on Japan, Korea, China and the role that the United States play with its allies here in Northeast Asia.

The presenters made me realize about the important work or advocacy that they are doing. Their work definitely need to be promoted so more people could know and understand it and in the process make them as an advocate or supporters of the issue. At the end of the presentation participants showed their enthusiasm by asking many questions to the presenters making it a popular session.

Mr. Archer made presentation on Civil Society strategies for prevention of armed conflict in the Asia Pacific: Setting the NE Asia campaigns in a global context. Indeed his personal background and experience speaks for itself on his involvement on the issue. He also outlined several ideas and concepts adapted from Chris Rose’s How to win a Campaign. In particular he provided examples on how he helped carried out some of the campaigns with different organizations and networks. Mr. Archer also stressed the need to have a joint ownership of the earth, for him this is not an ideology but a common effort that should be thought and carried out by all people. He also advocated that there should be continued proactive means of finding alternative ways to manage crisis, promote cooperation, and joint projects to address issues on security, peace and the environment. Indeed his wisdom and experience is a source of wealth that should be maximized. I fully agree to his presentation and call for cooperation.

One of the upcoming and newly organized activities that is initiated by his group is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending to be held in April 2011. This is a very important event since as presented by Mr. Feffer the US is cutting its military spending in Asia but will be selling its military supplies and services to Asian countries to boost its economy. Also, per SIPRI’s data most Asian countries have increased their military spending so that they can modernize their arm forces. Most of these armaments are being imported from the West. This trend creates more instability in the region and challenges peace effort by various stakeholders. It also detrimental to the social services in developing countries that continue to receive budget cuts which is being allocated for military spending.  

Mr. Ichiro Yuasa of Peace Boat presented on Strategy for a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone as a step to “Common Security”. I believe that his presentation could have been more informative if he was allowed to speak in Japanese and his words were translated. Language barrier prevented him from expressing himself fully.  He expound on his call “time to shape our own ‘common security’, a comprehensive framework of multilateral dialogue and cooperation to help us overcome  this ‘security dilemma’ which only encourage reprisal”. Mr. Yuasa mentioned several initiatives that are being carried out by politicians and civil society groups to address this concern. He also calls for China to be actively engage in realizing this commitment of keeping Northeast Asia free from nuclear weapons. I support his advocacy for cooperation among citizens in the Asia-Pacific to call on States to reduce their military spending. I hope that workshops such as this also conducted with other stakeholders such as politicians and civil society groups in the Asia-Pacific as well.

The presentation on Northeast Asian Women’s Peace Conference: Negotiating Regional Peace, Reconciliation and Cooperation was presented by Gyung-Lan Jung of Women Making Peace. This effort is laudable since it is high time that women’s voices are also heard on the issue of peace, disarmament and security. It is said the women are best negotiators for peace. Although there might be those mythical Amazonians or Athena as Greek goddess of war, but I have yet to come across a woman who was an architect of war. It is not a gender stereotype but women are noted for their patience and calmer countenance in dealing with the issue on peace.  Although in the western world particularly in Europe more women are rising to the rank of Defense ministers or secretaries aside from those well known female US Arm Forces commanders and generals.

Ms. Jung stated that the Women’s Six-party Talks is a process of participation for women to enhance their capability of responding to conflicts in a constructive way and to learn lessons together and thereby building up mutual understanding among those involved. Then they can fully claim “We Believe Peace is Coming!”

The only presentation that provided slide show, showcasing their activities in photos was  made by Ms.  Yeok-ok Yang of The World Without War with her paper on Two Cases of Peace Movement in South Korea: Conscious Objection Movement and Peace Disarmament Fair. I admire her emphasis on the use of creativity that instead of using money to buy tanks it could be used instead to build children’s libraries and other ideas to inspire peace-making. She also presented how the compulsory conscription in Korea is so limiting that curtails the freedom of men who opposes this government policy. Strategies to come up with new roles for the military is noteworthy it include strengthening of the civil-military cooperation as well as critical civil-military integration. Should these be pursued and carried out producing a positive impact, it will definitely serve as a good model for other countries.   

The speakers were definitely a good mix. The materials provided a good supplement to the presentation as well as the exhibit on the hall was informative for Koreans.  I would like to recommend that workshop like this should give more time for speakers to share their wealth of experiences. It would also be beneficial to make it wider in scope that other Asian countries who are stakeholders on the issue gets  represented as well so that a more comprehensive agenda and action  are shared and discussed in addressing this issue.

By Pete Rahon, SungKongHoe University
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