Are You Going To The Hague?

If so, you'd better be making plans! Don't be left out while others are preparing to abolish war!

By Metta Spencer

Thousands of peace activists from all around the world are about to converge on The Hague, The Netherlands during May 10-15 to participate in a huge international peace conference. This gathering will be the inaugural event of a longer-term campaign, The Hague Appeal For Peace, which is the next of many steps that will be required to de-legitimize war.

The conference has been organized by individual citizens and nongovernmental organizations to commemorate the anniversary of the first International Peace Conference, held in The Hague one hundred years ago. That gathering was convened by Czar Nicholas II of Russia.

The intervening century has been marked by dreadful wars, but as the epoch ends and a new millennium approaches, people are animated by a hopeful spirit of renewal. A resolution was introduced at the United Nations General Assembly that launched a series of inter-governmental conferences in The Hague and St. Petersburg, just as the U.N. Decade of International Law comes to a close.

Let us find ways to prevent conflict by removing its causes, which include the unequal distribution of the world's vast resources, the hostility of nations and of groups within nations toward each other, and the presence of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. When conflicts arise, as they inevitably will despite our best efforts, let us find ways to resolve them without resort to violence. Let us complete the work of the Peace Conference held a century ago by renewing the vision of general and complete disarmament which flickered briefly after the last World War. This will require new structures for peace and a fundamentally strengthened international legal order.

Specifically, let us find the moral, spiritual, and political will to do what our leaders know must be done but cannot bring themselves to do:

The Coordinating Committee of the conference consists of a core group of citizens' organizations responsible for the entire project. These are:

The Honorary Committee includes world leaders and Nobel laureates, including: Jody Williams (USA); Oscar Arias Sanches (Costa Rica); Alfredo Pérez Esquivel (Argentina); José Ramos-Horta (East Timor); Joseph Rotblat (UK); Desmond Tutu (South Africa); Mairead Maguire Corrigan (Northern Ireland); Maj-Britt Theorin (Sweden); Bernard Lown (USA); and Norman Borlaug (USA).

The Hague Conference will bring together a wide variety of groups with new ideas and projects, facilitating networking and collaboration. It will be preceded (May 6-16) by a conference for youths from conflict areas, and will be followed by a governmental conference. The agenda will include a full spectrum of peace initiatives, including disarmament, peacekeeping, international law, gender issues, human rights, and sustainable development.

The conference will include a central meeting and peer group meetings. The central meeting will host plenary sessions at which major world leaders from both civil society and governments will address key agenda items. A variety of other smaller plenary meetings, caucus meetings, hearings, lectures, panel discussions, roundtable sessions, and other activities will also be held. Participants will be encouraged to stage diverse cultural events throughout the conference period and a major international concert is also being planned.

The Conference will involve a vast array of civil society organizations as well as a diverse group of global participants including peace, disarmament and human rights activists, religious and lay leaders, academics, international law experts, and policy makers.

Participating organizations can convene their own meetings at the Conference. The Coordinating Committee will assist in organizing the necessary logistics and equipment.

The registration deadline is March 19. For information about registering, Canadians can contact the World Federalists of Canada, 207 - 145 Spruce Street, Ottawa K1R 6P1. See their web site: <http://www.web.net/~wfcnat>, or contact The Hague directly. Fax: 011- 31-24-360-1159 or by email: <hap99@congres.net>.

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1999

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1999, page 15. Some rights reserved.

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