Hijas de la Paz Project in Amanecer, Colombia

On Sunday the 15th August, the Project Hijas de la Paz was inaugurated in Amanecer, Colombia, with a ceremony that included the local Mayor and other local dignitaries and the chairperson of Subud Colombia.

45 young women took part in a four-month residential programme, most of who are from indigenous and Afro-communities who are living in terrible conditions of poverty and violence. 11 children who came with the young women joined Amanecer Kindergarten and received International Child Development Project (ICDP) support.

The entire community was involved and provided 900 hours of training and formation. There were 16 tutors on the Programme (academic, personal, entrepreneurial, cooking, gardening), and 10 of them are residents of Amanecer. Other Subud members were acting as ‘helpers’ to the participants, supporting them in processing and addressing the deep traumas.

The Hijas de la Paz Project has enabled these vulnerable young women to feel their intrinsic value as persons, and from a place of deep quiet, they learned and worked harmoniously with the Subud community of mentors. This is how they can be nurtured into future leaders and peacemakers.

Prof Scherto Gill Awarded Luxembourg Peace Prize, June 2022


Upon receiving the award, Prof Gill said:

“Today is a day to celebrate peace. This award recognises that positive peace can be expressed in many ways, such as a spiritual presence, a serene psychological state, a relational consciousness, a loving community, a caring institution, an economy centred on human well-being, and a way of inter-being on the planet with all that is.

These diverse aspects of peace are united by a common ethical core – the search for the global good and the flourishing of all. It is this ethical core that invites our imagination of structural peace, co-construct a culture of well-being, and support pillars for positive peace.

I am most grateful for this award which gives so much meaning to our work for peace. More importantly, it draws our attention to those who are pioneering positive peace – who have shown us that so long as we see humanity as embodiment of dignity, love as the promise of mutual belonging, community as the commitment to our deep relatedness, peace is already within reach.”

Prof Gill and her colleagues at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David are working to develop Masters in Peace Studies. This is a programme that uniquely focuses on positive peace.

21 September 2020: International Day of Peace

How to Understand Peace?

At the GHFP, we conceptualise peace as an inner spiritual state that has implications for our worldly processes. Here Dr Scherto Gill, our Senior Fellow, draws on the GHFP’s book entitled Understanding Peace Holistically, and offers three interconnected ideas:

First, peace is a spiritual value. As an inner state, peace is a special kind of tranquillity where we identify with the self as the essence of the ‘I’, the soul. Hence the expression: “I am a Soul.”  The ‘I’ connects well with that which is peaceful, such as the Divine, the Sacred, the Spirit. When our spiritual self-identification is primary, it can generate a blissful serenity that defuses the potentially violent nature of inner conflict. The peaceful ‘I’ can transcend the lived psychological tensions and calm their non-peaceful tendencies. This inner state is then experienced in our relationship with our self, other people and other beings in the world. In this way, inner peace denotes our intention and capacity to be in the right relationship, including living harmoniously with others near and far. When we are in such a state of peace, we can be ethical in our thoughts, attitudes, and acts – these are spontaneous expressions of spirituality.

Second, peace is a potential feature of all aspects of human life that involve conflict. Our world is characterised by diversity, and where there is difference, inevitably there is conflict, tension, and contradiction. These are normal ebbs and flows of life and they should not be equated with violence. Hence, conflict is not the opposite of peace, and peace does not require eliminating conflict. Often, the presence of conflict can invite us to encounter, to dialogue, to engage our humanness, to recognise each other as human beings, as part of a ‘WE’. With this mutual recognition, we can transform conflict towards innovation and positive change. With this mutual recognition, we can resolve violence – not only because violence dehumanises and therefore we reject it, but also because if others are violated and hurt, one is equally hurting – that is precisely the nature of being part of a WE. Therefore non-violence is always part of peace-making in the world – It is an active striving towards love, friendship, respect and justice that denounces all forms of antagonism, violence, and enemy-making.

Third, peace is constituted in human life itself, our well-being and flourishing. Peacefulness as a spiritual value is rooted in the intrinsically valuable nature of our being. Being human is itself valuable, regardless who we are, where we are from, nor what we are, what we do. This self-perception is a fundamental form of dignity, self-respect, or self-love. Seeing human beings (and other beings on the planet) in this way allows us to recognise that all lives, well-being and flourishing are likewise valuable. Similarly, the contents of our lives, including our experiences, activities, processes, relationships, also have intrinsic value. Peace as a spiritual state directs our appreciative awareness to these values.

For peacefulness to pertain to our spiritual and non-violent ways of being, and constitute our personal well-being, and collective flourishing, it requires that our institutions be underpinned by a culture that embodies the values of respect and compassion, our public practices to be humanising and forgiving. Equally, our global socio-economic and political systems need to reflect this respect for the inherent non-instrumental value of human being, human life, and all lives on the planet.

Bringing these three ideas together, we can see that peace is simultaneously spiritual, ethical, cultural and political. Peacefulness as an inner spiritual state has bearings on our worldly processes, and vice versa.

On this International Day of Peace, when we are invited to join millions around the planet to meditate together, by quietening our minds, widening our hearts, we also open a collective space for our spirits to speak to us about what it means to make peace, build peace, and above all, to be peace.

WE can build peace, live peace, and BE PEACE

On Monday 21st September, the GHFP joins European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) in celebrating the International Day of Peace.

At our present time of uncertainty, many people and communities are experiencing powerlessness, and even despair. This short EPLO video message below is powerful, and empowering. The GHFP believes that WE can build peace, live peace, and be peace together.

GHFP Paperback: Understanding Peace Holistically

gillthomson2019_understanding-peace_holistically

Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political

This GHFP book argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. As the authors build up a theory of peace from the spiritual to the relational and communal towards the socio-political, this book also identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The holistic conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.

This book is now available on Peter Lang’s website, and on Amazon.

International Seminar on Trustbuilding and Collective Healing, 30th October at IofC London

Hosted by IofCI’s Trustbuilding Program in partnership with the GHFP Research Institute, this international seminar offers a unique opportunity to meet, share and discuss the process of building trust.

At a time of increasing fragmentation, trust is diminishing around the world. Communities face racial, ethnic and religious divides, intergenerational conflict, and the rise of extremist attitudes, as well as social divisions and the legacy of war. The Seminar poses a critical question: “How can we address these challenges?”

Among the discussants will be Letlapa Mphahlele, commander of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army during apartheid times. His anger was such that he ordered retaliatory massacres of white civilians. After a radical transformation he now sees the whole of humanity as ‘my people’. Letlapa, who, until 2013, was President of the Pan Africanist Congress and a Member of the South African Parliament, is a protagonist in the award-winning film, Beyond Forgiving, which depicts a profound story of tragedy, forgiveness and hope.

This is by invitation-only event. For further information and interest to contribute, please contact events@ghfp.org.

International Symposium: Collective Healing of Traumas: New Possibilities for Peace in Communities 24 Sept 2019

Collective and community initiatives can empower those suffering from the wounds of a violent past to collaborate towards mutual healing, thus creating new possibilities for peace.

To better understand the significance of these community-rooted collective healing endeavours, the GHFP and the UNESCO Slave Route Project hosted a one-day International Symposium, at the Royal Society for the Arts in London.

The event brought together practitioners and scholars who have experiences and expertise in the field of communal and collective healing of mass traumas, for an intimate dialogue focused around three core questions:

  1. What are the typical psychological and social symptoms encountered in communities resulting from the experience and legacies of past atrocities?
  2. What might constitute collective healing in these situations? 
  3. How do community-based processes and practices contribute to collective healing? (And how would the community evaluate collective healing? What are the relevant indicators that some healing has taken place?)

Presentations included the Australia’s journey of healing through the Sorry Day marches, the Healing the Wounds of History programme in Lebanon, Foresee Research Group’s restorative healing approaches in Hungary, critical reflection on the structural conditions of healing from the perspectives of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation, the Initiatives of Change International’s Trustbuilding in the communities programme, and the Peace Charter of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.    Read HERE Collective_Healing_Mass_Trauma_Concept_Note. Please return soon for links to videos of presentations and other information following the event.

Creators of Peace Circles: March and October 2020

What would it mean to be a creator of peace in your own life, family, community, country and world?

This year, the GHFP will be hosting two Women’s Peace Circles at our Brighton premises, in collaboration with Creators of Peace (CofP). We invite friends and colleagues (and those who are new to our work!) to join us during the weekends of 20th-22nd March or 2nd-4th October 2020.

For nearly 30 years, Creators of Peace has been bringing together women across the globe, from all backgrounds, ages and cultures who seek empowerment, inspiration and hope in our current global contexts.

Come and participate, learn, discuss, grow, share stories and explore how you can be a creator of peace.

Colleagues from CofP facilitate a ‘talking circle’, where all voices are respectfully heard, establishing shared values which will allow the group to explore diverse perspectives on topics such as:

  • What is peace?
  • Circles of concern and hope
  • What builds and destroys peace?
  • Qualities and strategies of a peacemaker
  • Inner Peace
  • Inner Listening
  • Listening to others
  • The power of forgiveness
  • Putting peace into action

Programme:

  • Friday:      6.30pm – 9.30pm: Peace Circle Session I (includes supper)
  • Saturday:  9.30am – 6.30pm: Peace Circle Session II (includes lunch)
  • Sunday:     9.30am – 3.30pm: Peace Circle Session III (includes lunch)

Venue:
Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP),
199 Preston Road, Brighton, East Sussex,
BN1 6SA United Kingdom

This programme is offered free of charge, sponsored by the GHFP and Creators of Peace volunteers.

Spaces are limited, please email events@ghfp.org to request a booking form, indicating which peace circle (March or October) you are interested to attend.

International Seminar 2014

International Seminar on Memory, Trauma and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding
4th April 2014
Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace,
Brighton. UK.

The aim of this seminar entitled ‘Memory, Trauma and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding’ was to explore the healing of traumatic memories in post-conflict recovery, reconstruction and peacebuilding. Our invited key speaker, Professor Vamik Volkan, drew on his nearly 40 years’ experiences in the field of international relations and peace-related diplomacy and investigate the inextricable links between large group identity, conflict and dehumanisation of the other. Vamik analysed the formation large group identities, the shared traumas of mass violence and the societal/political consequences of such atrocities. He also examined the need to interrupt the trans-generational transmissions of trauma by healing past memories, as well as the imperative to develop psychoanalytically informed diplomatic strategies for dealing with associated peacebuilding challenges.

For discussion, we critically engaged with these topics, and examined how to remove the ‘sting’ in individuals’ memories of trauma so that they no longer serve as an impetus for continued violence.

Here are some of the questions that the seminar set out to explore:

(1) What are the effective approaches to enable individuals and groups to break away from the hold of traumatic memories?
(2) What kind of structural processes must be in place in order to engage in healing of memories?
(3) How can individuals have healthier conceptions of their group identities that do not involve making potential enemies of the other?

Professor Vamik Volkan is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine; an emeritus training and supervising psychoanalyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute; and the Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Amongst his many posts, Vamik also headed an interdisciplinary team and conducted years-long unofficial diplomatic dialogues between Arabs and Israelis, Americans and Soviets, Russians and Estonians, Croats and Bosnian Muslims, Georgians and South Ossetians, Turks and Greeks and studied post-revolution or post-war societies such as Albania after the dictator Enver Hodxa was gone and Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion was over. After September 11, 2001 he was a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association’s (IPA’s) Terror and Terrorism Study Group.

The Seminar’s discussant was Professor Nigel Young who has been active in transnational peace activity for at least a half century. He is presently Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Oxford International Encyclopedia of World Peace’ (a four-volume reference work). He is active in the Balkans Peace Park Project, UK (B3P). He has authored numerous publications including six books (two co-authored), and edited or co-edited others. A co-founder of the first Peace Studies department in Britain (Bradford, 1973/4), he was also the first endowed Peace Studies Chair-holder in the USA. As Professor of Peace Studies he was director of one of the earliest university Peace Studies Programs in North America (Colgate University, New York 1984-2004) where he retains the title of Research Professor. Professor Young has held academic positions in sociology, politics and peace studies, at over a dozen universities and colleges worldwide, and was a Senior Peace Research fellow in Oslo, Norway (1981-84). He is currently working on books on Historical Memory as related to peace, and the community basis of resistance. In 20l2 he received the Dayton Peace Prize for outstanding scholarly achievement.

Seminar attendee Biographies

Prof Volkan is Founder of the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI) which aims to facilitate dialogue between representatives from various large groups, states and cultures for the purpose of learning about differences in perspective and finding peaceful solutions to inter-group relationship problems.