Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The 2012 Initiative for an Academi Heddwch plus historical summary of campaigning for a Peace institute in Wales

Stephen Thomas records that the WCIA initiated the idea of a Welsh Peace Institute in 2008 (e-mail* to Ben Gregory, Kelvin Mason, Jill Evans MEP and Jill Gough CND Cymru). Stephen introduced it at the Peace Festival in Bangor 18-19th October, where Jill Evans spoke in support [1]. Jill saw the Military Academy to be built in St Athan as the catalyst for the idea of a Peace Academy [2], a view echoed by Adam Price MP who had nevertheless argued for Wales to win the project in the Westminster committee [3]. Peter Sutch of Cardiff University formulated an alternative educational/ academic concept* in Nov. Nic Wheeler of UCW Aberystwyth was interested, came to the 4th July Cynefin y Werin meeting, but later backed off.

A coordinating group met in Bangor alongside the October 2009 Festival and agreed to take it up through Cynefin y Werin, with a first meeting in Aberystwyth on 14th March 2009 (reported by Kelvin Mason in Peace News, April 2009 [4]). Invitations* to a working group ‘Project Meeting’ on 4th July were sent out by Jill Gough (CND Cymru) on behalf of Cynefin y Werin. It heard cases from Robin Gwyndaf and JC on the title, adopting 'Academi Heddwch' but preferring 'Peace Institute' as the English form. The meeting agreed on mobilising around a Petition to the Senedd Committee and was keen to seek broad support, from organisations far from 'peace' groups, and to avoid any identification with CND. Campaigning for the Academi would be non-partisan and aim for support from all political parties. Several people volunteered to form an interim steering group to progress the Petition.

The Petitions Committee application [5] submitted in Sept. 2009 with 1500 signatories led to a cool response* from Rhodri Morgan, who suggested a university-based collaborative institute, focussing on social science based research. Nevertheless, the Petitioners continued to press for a broader concept:
“a Peace Institute concerned with Peace and Human Rights, comparable with those supported by state governments in Flanders, Catalonia and elsewhere in Europe”

Representatives of the Flanders Peace Institute were brought over to give oral evidence* to the Committee in Feb.2010). Public meetings in Carmarthen and Bangor heard addresses from the Flanders representatives, with a lecture in Aberystwyth. With the new Assembly elected in 2010, Carwyn Jones was asked for his view* – in August 2011, he endorsed Rhodri Morgan’s position, declared there's no WG funding, but still asked for a detailed and fully costed proposal.

Stephen Thomas was losing patience with the Petitions Committee by Sept. 2011, and suggested* another way, for Cynefin y Werin to sponsor peer-reviewed credible research into Welsh situations and issues, and disseminate this publicly. But his proposal was given limited circulation and shelved by those still hoping of Senedd progress, so another year was lost.
Then in October 2011 the Petitions Committee decided on hearings into the Petition and put out a call for evidence. Robin Gwyndaf played a big role in encouraging Welsh organisations to respond to the Petitions Committee call for evidence, as is evident in the ~70 submissions and his personal evidence with a published article (see http://Academiheddwchcymru.blogspot.com). The final output from the Petitions committee was very disappointing when it came in January 2012.

It stalled the Senedd process with their decision to:
  1. Forward the petition and information gathered so far to the Cross-Party Group on Human Rights and request that the working up of a concept for the establishment of such an institution is placed on future agendas;
  2. Forward the consultation responses gathered to the petitioners to work up a concept in parallel and suggest that they lobby individual Members to hold a Member-led debate in Plenary on the subject.
Neither of these happened; recently JC hoped (*, p.78) a Senedd All-Party Group on Peace would be formed in 2013, which “may make it possible to progress this matter”.

Stephen Thomas sent out an invitation (4th October, below) to the 9th October 2012 meeting,
(held following the presentation of the anti-Drone petition, led by Mererid Hopwood).
His motivation was the call from Cardiff UNA for a
one-day conference (as broad-based as possible), to discuss the nature, role and duties of a Wales Peace Institute and to agree arrangements for its structure and funding'.
Stephen wrote in his invitation email (4th October 2012)
..convening a meeting of those at the Cardiff UNA gathering who expressed a personal wish to be involved in the next step of the process (8 people). ...also invite those who gathered a couple of times last autumn to give the Academi Heddwch project a push forward then.
Stephen explained the intention was
the creation of a diverging process from the discussion process on the issue within certain parts of the National Assembly for Wales

A further meeting on 16 October set up a Steering group to organise the ‘broad-based’ conference under the name Academi Heddwch Cymru/Wales Peace Academy for 23rd March 2013 in Aberystwyth. An important target of this separate initiative was to create a body that would establish the Academi Heddwch as a project within the 2014 commemoration of the Centenary of the start of World War I. However, conference preparations were stalled in February by a clique opposed to a new independent body, putting the broad-based project in jeopardy.


NOTES

* denotes documents within John Cox's 84-page dossier ('summary'), dated 1 Feb.2013
[1] report of Bangor festival by Phil Steele 
[2] ** see also Jill Evans’s speech in November 2009 
[3] “I did back the campaign to bring the training facility to Wales. This was based on the economical benefits .here  
[4] Kelvin Mason report of Aberystwyth meeting in March 2009 
[5] Petition Wording: We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to investigate the potential for and practicality of Wales having a Peace Institute concerned with Peace and Human Rights, comparable with those supported by state governments in Flanders, Catalonia and elsewhere in Europe
National Assembly for Wales P-03-262 Academi Heddwch Cymru / Wales Peace Institute
Lead petitioner: Welsh Centre for International Affairs, Cymdeithas y CynodCynefin y Werin and CND Cymru. Number of signatures: 1525

From Stephen Thomas, Cynefin y Werin, 4th October 2012

Annwyl Bawb / Dear All,

As some of you know, I spoke to the Cardiff and district branch of the United Nations Association 10 days ago on 'The Prospects for an Academi Heddwch/Peace Institute for Wales'. It was their choice of topic for noting the International Day of Peace.

At the end of that meeting a resolution was passed, with no objections: '..welcoming a one-day conference (as broad-based as possible), to discuss the nature, role and duties of a Wales Peace Institute and to agree arrangements for its structure and funding'. It was hoped that the conference could be arranged by Cynefin y Werin and could take place 'before the revived enthusiasm for a Welsh Peace Institute becomes dissipated with the passage of time'.

Cynefin y Werin has acted - in the first instance by convening a meeting of those at the Cardiff UNA gathering who expressed a personal wish to be involved in the next step of the process (8 people). Cynefin y Werin thought it correct and necessary also to invite to that meeting those who gathered a couple of times last autumn to give the Academi Heddwch project a push forward then.

Hence your inclusion on the invitation to attend this forthcoming meeting at: 2.30 pm, Tuesday 9 October at Coffee Mania Crema Caf√© , Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay (city centre end of the building).

From this it is aimed to obtain a structure to organise a subsequent conference in (?) spring 2013. Cynefin y Werin has committed itself to providing funding for that conference. It is not intended to detract from what may continue of the discussion process on the issue within certain parts of the National Assembly for Wales: but at the very least the creation of a diverging process was now felt to be worth pursuing.

Please let me know if you are able to come Tuesday next week; and of any matters that you wish to input to the process if you are not going to be there.

Hwyl / Regards

Stephen



PRESS ITEMS
Wales Peace Festival18-19 October 2008
Phil Steele’s report re Wales peace Festival Speaking out in Wrexham Peace & Justice News
Stephen Thomas of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, after an interview on Radio Cymru, kicked off the first day with a lucid discussion of peace building, credibility and reform within the United Nations. Jill Evans MEP, Chair of CND Cymru, raised issues of nuclear proliferation and security in the Middle East, with special reference to Palestine. She floated the idea of founding a Wales Peace Institute, a proposal which received support from the floor. See here 

A small meeting was held upstairs at the Anglesey Arms to discuss the future of the Wales Peace Festivals, the future direction of Cynefin y Werin, wider collaboration with other movements and organisations in Wales, and the idea of a Wales Peace Institute. It was agreed to progress these discussions at a meeting in Aberystwyth in the New Year. Kelvin Mason of Aberystwyth Peace Network chaired the meeting, James Maiden of Cynefin y Werin took the minutes.  see here 

Instituting peace in Wales News | March 2009

. A meeting of the Cynefin Y Werin networkin March will aim to take this idea forward. ...

Peace Institute a step closerhttp://peacenews.info/node/4131/peace-institute-step-closer News | April 2009

... that Saturday afternoon, and top of the agenda was a Wales Peace Institute. Some of us had been working towards this meeting since the …

The PeaceInstitute- Jill Evans MEP - Plaid Ymlaen - Plaid Forward 

Nov 20, 2009 –The catalyst for the idea of a peace Academy was the shock and...
Cymdeithas y Cymod, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, Cynefin y Werin and...

A peace institute for Wales?http://peacenews.info/node/4117/peace-institute-wales News | December 2009
... calling for the National Assembly of Wales to create a Peace Institute comparable with those in Flanders, Catalonia, Finland, Norway and … 

CNDCymru » Wales Peace Institute – Presentation to  Feb 19, 2010

A Wales Peace Institute could advise and inform the Assembly on policies...Y Senedd Meeting with Nelly Maes and Tomas Baum all welcome...Stephen Thomas of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs commented:
‘Much work is already being done in various parts of Wales in the field of encouraging peace and preventing violent conflict. There is teaching at schools and universities, academic research, and campaigning on peace matters. It is fitting to seek to strengthen the efforts of so many organisations and individuals, through the co-ordination that would be provided by a national Peace Institute.’
See here 

Lecture by the President of the Flemish Peace Institute. 24 February 2010. L-R: Mr. Penri James;...The lecture was part of a visit to Wales in support of calls locally for a Wales Peace Institute.
http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/interpol/research/research-centres-and-institutes/ddmi/events/seminars/title-91698-en.html
L-R: Mr. Penri James; Jill Evans, MEP; and Professor Nicholas Wheeler, DDMI Director. Photo by Syd Morgan.
Nelly Maes, president of the Flemish Peace Institute, spoke at the David Davies Memorial Institute(DDMI) in Aberystwyth ... part of a visit to Wales in support of calls for a Wales
Peace Institute. On 23 February, Maes and Tomas Baum, director of the Flemish …

A Nonviolence Research Network? News | October 2010

Regular readers of this page will know that the Cynefin Y Werin network is pursuing a major project to establish a Peace Institute … Regular readers of this page will know that the Cynefin Y Werin network is pursuing a major project to establish a Peace Institute (Academi Heddwch), working with academics and others in Wales. The Peace Institute is likely to be based on the model of the Flemish Peace Institute. Delegates from Cynefin Y Werin have visited Brussels and speakers from the institute undertook a speaking tour of Wales. The Wales project has the rhetorical support of the Welsh Assembly government but the prospects of any material support from that quarter seem extremely unlikely.

... posted its official decision on the ambition for a Peace Institute (Academi Heddwch) in Wales. “The committee agreed to: undertake ..

Re-energisinga network: Cynefin y Werin Feature | August 2011

... The task of pursuing these questions was taken on board by Cynefiny Werin
(Common Ground) “a network of organisations which promotes equality, ...

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