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Syria: How Peace Ambassadors Should Respond

By James O’Dea

James is on the Shift Network Peace Faculty, Former President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Former Director of Amnesty International (Washington, DC Office), social healer, activist, teacher, and Summer of Peace Wisdom council member.

We have trained over one thousand Peace Ambassadors, and we will be convening another training in November. How should Peace Ambassadors and peacebuilders respond to Syria?

In building a global culture of peace, our work is about long-term whole system global transformation, and at the same time, radically skillful personal peacemaking. This also means we have to respond to immediate crises, like Syria, and other imminent threats to peace which demand an effective response.

The brutal war and slaughter of civilians in Syria can only be brought to an end with a ceasefire followed by negotiations.

  • Keep pressuring your government to use every means to demand a ceasefire in Syria and bring the parties to the negotiating table to organize a transition to democracy.
  • Promote the need for both Reconciliation and Accountability.
  • Even though it is in the future, we should support the initial formation of key figures who could convene a Reconciliation Commission. Global luminaries and Nobel Peace Laureates should be persuaded to take an active role in moving this forward.
  • The broader context of Syria’s problem is heightened by Sunni Shiite tensions. The governing elite of Syria is Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Wherever possible we must promote dialogue between Sunnis and Shiites throughout the Middle East and North Africa. And beyond reconciliation within Islam we must promote interfaith dialogue and religious plurality.
  • There can be no lasting reconciliation without accountability. International law has been strengthened to support the prosecution for crimes against humanity.  We cannot ignore the slaughter of civilians with outdated arguments about the inviolability of national sovereignty — we have a moral responsibility to stop genocide in the making. Call for the immediate prosecution of war criminals in Syria.
  • Use the need to prosecute war crimes in Syria as an opportunity to strengthen the International Criminal Court. Lobby governments like the United States to ratify the Rome treaty, which make them a full participant in the ICC. We need the participation of all governments in ICC enforcement.
  • Put maximum pressure on the US to engage with the ICC, and ratify its treaty participant. The reason US moral leadership is compromised here is that it has been hostile to the ICC for fear that it will be prosecuted for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US cannot continue to operate outside international law  while demanding that others respect it.

We have been given a most powerful moment in the peace movement--where people in several key countries are telling their governments to work harder to support a settlement in Syria before ratcheting up military strategies. Maybe this time the people can be heard. Do your part from inner prayer to public action and dialogue. Visualize a lasting ceasefire in Syria, through all our efforts, by International Peace Day on September 21st.

The Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive The Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in:
2013 Catalyst - Issue 15

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