Category: Intercultural Seminar II

Presented by: Gloria María Abarca and Marisol Suárez Sierra

This was a very different seminar.  We practiced breathing and focused on relaxing.  At first I thought that it was going to be a waste of time, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It was very interesting and beneficial, I believe, for all of the students in the Peace Master who are working hard and feeling a lot of stress.  This was the first time I have ever heard of holistic peace…  It seems important and I would like to learn more about it.  During the seminar we practiced different types of exercises.  It reminded me of yoga.  People are always telling me that I need to do yoga because I am always stressed out.  Perhaps they are right…  Learning about holistic peace reminded me that I must also focus on peace in my own life.  I am continually seeking to promote and work for peace outside of myself, but I realized that I am constantly conflicted with ideas, emotions, and various things that contribute to a stressful lifestyle.

I agree that we should strive to find personal peace.  However, I do not agree that it is necessary to find personal peace to be able to work for peace outside of ourselves.  There are many honorable people in the world that failed to attain personal peace, but contributed greatly to peace in the world.  In other words, some people work better for peace when they are living at high altitudes and plagued by stress and anxiety.  I do not feel peace when I see suffering and poverty.  I do not feel peace when I see the country where I am from waging war.  I feel anger and anxiety, which motivates me to work for peace.  In a strange way, anxiety can drive us to achieve impossible goals.  Yet, it can also kill us…  Therefore, although I believe that personal peace is desirable, I do not believe it is necessary to live a life working for peace in the world.

Here is an interesting video:



Presented by: Alejandro Pozo. Centro de Estudios para la Paz J.M. Delàs

This was a very interesting lecture.  Surprisingly, the translation to English was better than usual…  Alejandro Pozo made a strong and persuasive argument against military intervention in Libya.t

It is true that the Security Council passed a resolution aimed to protect the civilian population, but NATO and international forces are going beyond what was voted on and agreed to by international law.  In fact, they are now claiming the right to wage aggressive war.

I agree with what was said in this seminar.  We have been fed a lot of propaganda by the mainstream media and western governments about the necessity of intervening in Libya.  However, the humanitarian reasons to intervene are lies.  There are many reasons for why western powers wish to topple Gadhafi and occupy Libya.  Oil is a major reason.  Yet, it is not the only reason.  Giant corporations and the military-industrial-complex also stand to gain from the overthrow of Gadhafi and the occupation of Libya.  Of course, I do not support Gadhafi, but neither to I support war disguised as humanitarian intervention.

The language employed by the United States and its allies gives the impression that a no-fly zone is merely the prohibition of aircraft.  However, a no-fly zone actually entails the bombing of military targets and is essentially an act of war.  And, of course, the result of such strategic bombing is collateral damage—the slaughtering of innocent human beings.  Calling a war a no-fly zone is a convenient way for the United States government and its allies to garner support for another war of military aggression.  Furthermore, Ben Rhodes—the Deputy National Security Adviser—refused to concede to reporters that the U.S. bombing in Libya is an act of war.  Rather, he referred to the bombing as kinetic military action.

The US and its allies do not know exactly who the rebels are who they are supporting.  There are allegations that the rebels are even made up of Al Qaeda and other extremists.  This is eerily similar to what the US did during the 80’s when they supported the Mujahideen against the Soviet forces (ie. blowback).

Presented by: Eduardo Lloret, UNRWA, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) is an agency that was set up in 1949 to assist, protect and stand up for the 4 million plus Palestinian refugees (and their descendents) in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the occupied Palestinian territory (West Bank and Gaza).  A refugee is defined as anyone that lost their home and ability to support themselves during the 1948 conflict as well as those who lived in Palestine between June 1, 1946 and May 15, 1948.  Some of the ways it assists refugees is by providing education, health care, emergency services, and social services.

The UNRWA spends approximately $1.2 billion USD each year.  It is funded by UN member countries’ voluntary contributions.  Some of the donors are the United States, Britain, Sweden, the Arab States, Japan, and Canada.  Most of the money is spent on education, which has led to Palestine having one of the highest literacy rates in the Middle East.

Until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been resolved, by either the repatriation of Palestinian refugees or the creation of a Palestinian state, the UNRWA will continue their work, renewing their mandate every three years.

I strongly recommend watching this powerful documentary.  The name of it is Occupation 101:

Presented by: Salva Lacruz, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR), Spain

CEAR (The Spanish Comission for Refugee Aid) is an organization that began in 1979 in order to defend and promote the rights of refugees, displaced people, and others in need of international protection.  They work in the following regions:  Canary Islands, Euskadi, Andalucia, Ceuta, Melilla, Extremadura, Valencia, and Madrid.  Their values are justice, solidarity, freedom, and equality and they work to defend these for all.  They intervene in the following areas:  asylum, migrant assistance, employment, job training, social intervention, and refugee centers.  The refugees are at risk of violence and other forms of persecution, such as, crimes against gender (i.e., sexual violence, FGM, forced marriages, etc.).  CEAR provides social care and law services (more than 150 lawyers), and launches campaigns to show their solidarity with all those affected by persecution of any kind (political, ethnic, religious, sexual, etc.), poverty, or any other human rights violation.  The following graphic shows the refugee situation at the end of 2007:

The US wars of aggression have created many refugees.  Many innocent Iraqi people have been forced to leave their homes due to the violence.  Similarly, in Afghanistan many have fled from the violence.  Furthermore, it is so disheartening that another war is underway in Libya–waged by western powers—which has already created many refugees seeking asylum in Europe.  We must oppose these wars of aggression that result in the slaughter and displacement of human beings.

We hear a lot about the casualties of war, but the mainstream media largely ignores the tragedy of war refugees.

Presented by: Kevin Brown, Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist, Canada

There are three styles of mediation:  facilitative, evaluative, and transformative.  In facilitative mediation it is important to understand that all parties understand their own interests better than anyone else involved.  Therefore, the role of the mediator is to focus the creativity of the parties by clarifying and enhancing the communication between the parties so that they can produce their own solution.  In evaluative mediation, the mediator is an expert in substantive legal matters.  The process and procedures are completed with mediator assistance.  Solutions are created through joint and separate meetings and the mediator helps negotiate settlements.  Those with authority must be present in order to settle on proposals made by the mediator.  Lastly, in transformative mediation, the mediator works to bring parties from negative and destructive conflict interactions to positive and constructive ones.  Transformative mediation seeks to give empowerment and recognition to all parties, and focus on party interactions.  Furthermore, it hopes to foster an ongoing relationship between the parties by encouraging parties to see different perspectives.  The following tools are necessary when implementing transformative mediation:  active listening, reflecting, questioning, summarizing, shifting, and appreciative inquiry.

The guiding principles of transformative mediation are:

  • The parties have to make any shift by themselves.
  • Shifting has a natural order.
  • The road towards transformation is rarely smooth.
  • Patience, patience, patience.

This was another interesting seminar about mediation.  I learned some useful techniques and ideas today.  I liked and agree with the notion that the parties involved must reach their own solution.  The mediator cannot force peace upon them.

Presented by: Yazmin Muñoz, Master’s Peace student, Universitat Jaume I, UJI, Spain

Armed conflict for over 50 years in Colombia

Causes:  struggle between political parties and those that want power as well

– Social inequality

– Unequal distribution of wealth

Women are caught in the middle of this conflict and are affected in the following ways:

– Forcefully displaced

– Physical violence and threats

– Separation from and loss of loved ones

– Fiscal and economic insecurity / poverty

– Risk of sexual violence

I believe that much of the conflict in Colombia is fueled by the US War on Drugs, which is used—like the War on Terror—to justify US imperialism.  According to the Monroe Doctrine, the US foreign policy strategy was to dominate the western hemisphere and to stay out of other places in the world.  Colombia has been a key country in maintaining control in Central and South America.  However, since the US became involved wars in the Middle East the US has lost control of Latin America.  Colombia is one of the last strongholds for the US in South America, but its influence there is diminishing.

It is noteworthy to mention that Spain is the second leading consumer of cocaine (US is first).

Here is an encouraging story:

Presented by: Sr. Josep María Felip, Director General de Inmigración y Cooperación al Desarrollo de la Generalitat Valenciana

If I understood correctly, the Cooperación Valenciana was started to financially help poor and developing countries through local NGOs, individual citizens, universities, etc.  It has the following ten principles:

1.  Participation

2. Coordination

3. Coherency

4. Descentralization

5. Budgetary Autonomy

6. Institutional Development

7. Planning

8. Responsibility for Implementation

9. Impact on Citizens

The challenge presented was in getting all parties involved to work together in an organized, coherent, and complimentary manner.  However, efforts have been successful thus far.  In 2010, Valencian NGOs were present in over 35 countries fighting poverty and social exclusion.  The Cooperación Valenciana has helped to highlight the implementation of 194 projects of cooperation, awareness, humanitarian action, development, and training.  The map below shows the financial actions and assistance of the Cooperación and the Generalitat Valenciana from 1996-2009.


This seminar sparked my interest regarding development.  It is really cool that there is an example here in this region.  I am looking forward to learning more about development during the third semester.

I found this video.  It is really interesting (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on aid versus trade)

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Another interesting video about aid (Jacqueline Novogratz: A third way to think about aid)

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And one more really interesting video about aid (Esther Duflo: Social experiments to fight poverty)

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Presented by: Vicenç Fisas, UNESCO Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Peace and Human Rights, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

The peace process must go beyond the moment when two opposing parties decide to stop using violence and instead decide to use peaceful means as a way to resolve their problems.  It must include third party mediation and it must include a set of phases parties go through together in order to achieve peace together.  In short, it must be a collective effort by all parties involved.

These phases include negotiation, mediation, and the pursuit of an agreement of peace.  They must be taught how to implement peace in place of the violence they once used, and how to avoid falling back into that violence.  The table below shows five models of peace processes, beginning with the most simple:

Translation:  rehabilitation, distribution of power, exchange, confidence building measures, and self-government.

However, for any one of these peace processes to work, or for any other peace process for that matter, the following ten conditions must be met:

  1. Recognition of partners
  2. Security
  3. Guarantees
  4. Agreement on the meta-conflict
  5. Willingness to give up something
  6. Desire to build
  7. Chance to win something
  8. Know how to explain
  9. Availability of facilitators
  10. Giving a voice to the people

Dialogue, I believe, is the most important part of the peace process.  Both parties must reach an agreement between themselves.  It is not the job of the peace mediator to force peace.  Peace mediation can simply guide the process along.  Of course, it is very important, but both conflicting parties must be willing to negotiate in good faith before anything can be achieved.  Israel, for example, refuses to negotiate in good faith and continues to steal Palestinian lands and bomb the civilian population.




Presented by: Ingrid Sanca Vega, Peru; Ruth Prera, Guatemala; Ximena Zeballos, Bolivia; Marisol Suárez, Colombia

Colombia: La Fundación para la Reconciliación (founded in 2003) provides daily education about understanding, ethics, and repair in order to demystify, point out common values, vocalize principles, and strengthen memory.  There are six phases:

1.    Motivation, recruitment, and selection of teachers.

2.    Forgiveness Training

3.    Replica / Model

4.    Reconciliation Training

5.    Monitoring and Transfer Methodology

6.    Evaluation and Certification

Guatemala:  Efforts are being made in areas of social injustice such as, the rights of indigenous women based on the principles and values of indigenous people.  More and more is being done to promote dialog and discussion towards peace.  However, all parties involved must come together and commit to a plan detailing how to transform conflicts in order to make way for peace, justice, and equality.  Transforming the violence begins with visualizing and evaluating the best practices available, and then implementing them.

Bolivia:  Challenges –

“In short, the Morales government is subjected to a series of setbacks and allow warning that ” the transition to social change is a road fraught with obstacles that come from the forces interested in preserving the current order as the technical limits – political and conservative tendencies of those who were taught to obey and now face the new reality of having to manage the reins of a state that was always outside (Stefanoni, 2007: 94). “(Reed, 2009: 12) (translation by

“What is different is disengaged, which is unified is not uniform, which is the same need not be identical, which is different need not be unfair. We have the right to be equal when the difference makes us inferior, we have the right to be different when equality our identity. These rules are probably essential to understand the moment we live and to see that this new form of national identity has to coexist with forms of strong local identities. “(de Sousa Santos, 2007: 25 and 26) (translation by

Peru:  There is continued change through programs, such as the following:

1.   Fortaleciendo Nuestro Caminar

2.   Escuelas del Perdón y la Reconciliación (ESPERE)

3.   La Chalina de la Esperanza

Change is possible in Peru and anyone can help to make that change.

Moral Imagination

Presented by: Peter Praxmarer, University of Lugano, Switzerland

Many have tried to resolve conflict with rational methods, but there are limits to reason.  Thus, reason alone will not be able to resolve all conflicts. Moral imagination is the ability to not only imagine several possibilities along with their (potential) consequences in a given situation, but also to morally assess them.  Moral imagination is essential in conflict resolution.

Below are a few of the quotes that were presented in an attempt to make us aware of these limits:

1.  “(…) But it is a circumstance equally shameful and marvelous, that

though nature has formed one animal, and one alone, with powers of reason, and a mind participating in divinity; one animal and one alone, capable of sentimental affection and social union; I can find admission among the wildest of wild beasts, and the most brutal of brutes, sooner than with this one animal; the rational, immortal animal called man. (Erasmus of Rotterdam)

2.  “What we need more than anything else (…) is moral imagination in its various manifestations, as a means to both knowledge and criticism. We need self-knowledge about the imaginative structure of our moral understanding, including its values, limitations, and blind spots. We need a similar knowledge of other people, both those who share our moral tradition and those who inhabit other traditions. (…) We need to explore imaginatively what it might mean, in terms of possibilities for enhanced meaning and relationships, for us to perform this or that action. We need the ability to imagine and to enact transformations in our moral understanding, our character and our behavior. In short, we need imaginative rationality that is at once insightful, critical, exploratory, and transformative.

My central constructive thesis (…) is that critical moral imagination of this sort ought to be the basis for our moral deliberation and self-understanding. Ideally, moral imagination would provide the means for understanding (of self, others, institutions, cultures), for reflective criticism, and for modest transformation, which together are the basis for moral growth.” (JOHNSON Paul (1993), p. 187)

3.  “The term empathy, as it will be employed here, is the ability “imaginatively” to enter into and participate in the world of the cultural Other cognitively, affectively, and behaviorally.

(…) (S)everal aspects of empathy cannot easily be overlooked for human relations. These are other-regarding behavior, imaginative participation, understanding and affect-sharing.”  (pp.8-9, passim)

“(…) I believe that although cultures differ in historical content, customs, traditions, attitudes, beliefs, and practices, humans are endowed with faculties that make them capable of understanding others across time and space. The notion of “imaginative placement” or “feeling one’s way into” another constitutes the essence of what I mean by empathy.” (p.11) (CALLOWAY-THOMAS Carolyn Calloway-Thomas (2010), passim)