Senator Andrew Bartlett

abartlett1st March 2003

Share the Spirit of Peace – Peace Summit

I think one of the key messages we need to be aware of and remind ourselves of is that in looking for pathways to increase peace around the world, is :

1) that we are not alone and

2) that we are not starting from scratch.

We are building on a legacy of many people over many years and many countries and many cultures.

Part of what I see as the importance of gatherings like this and formulating frameworks for peace is to build on the work of those who have gone before us and those who are working alongside us around the globe.

Carmen Lawrence mentioned the United Nations and I believe that obviously that organisation has many flaws, if you actually look at the principles embodied in the United Nations charter and many of its conventions and treaties, there are lots of marvellous things there to aspire to. And those aspirational components are something that we should be seeking to move towards rather than picking and choosing when it suits us.

A couple of the arguments being used by those advocating war at the moment are the need to reduce weapons of mass destruction. In other words we need to improve disarmament around the globe. Another argument is that its a humanitarian tragedy that needs to be addressed.

Well I believe we need to agree with those aims and highlight the undeniable fact that there are peaceful ways to disarm and there are peaceful ways to address humanitarian tragedies.

And many of those charters and treaties that have been agreed to by many nations over many years are the way of peaceful means to address the humanitarian issues and to reduce the amount of weaponry to acknowledge and work towards the basic dignity of each human being.

That of course is on a global scale and its one of the reasons why the United Nations processes on a global scale and on a global political level do need to be improved and do need to be held onto and built upon. Because the removal and degradation of that framework in many ways is one of the longer term dangers of moving towards war at the moment. Obviously there is the short term catastrophe that will occur and the massive loss of human life, but the equal or even greater danger in the long term is the disintegration of many years of work building up those basic principles and trying to develop processes to achieve peace.

I believe thats one of the reasons why we should use the level of support there is at the moment amongst the global community and build on that enthusiasm. Not simply to look at in terms of stopping the war in Iraq, absolutely vital though that is. But even if we fail, and we may well fail, we should not cease to work towards tackling those issues such as disarmament, such as basic human rights. I guess thats what I see as the challenge for all us and its part of what I see as the Democrats role in the parliamentary process is to enable people at all levels of the community indeed around the globe to be more effective about getting their voice heard. And to be more effective and working toward getting those principles implemented and those principles acknowledged and given the primacy they deserve.

Of course at the same time as that the global picture we have the global issue of how we act towards each other. The way we reach out to victims of violence, the seriousness we put towards poverty and disadvantage amongst those we share the community with. The way we treat the environment, the way we treat animals, all of it adds up to long term improvement in working towards non-violence.

So my main message is to urge us all to harnass that desire for peace that is out there, to not loose hope. To allow the social processes and the political processes to work more effectively to ensure that the desires of the community to enable peace do work in a way to make that goal achievable. Tackling ignorance, improving understanding, reaching out to people who we know little about, other cultures, other countries within our region, other religions. Addressing the injustice and poverty. All of those things whether on a local scale, a regional or global level are all part of moving toward peace.

You received in your material when you arrived a copy of the Earth Charter, which has been developed again by people around the globe trying to crystallise basic principles and many of those when you read them, are easily applicable on a local level. Its not some large, huge, over-powering, too big global problem that we can’t touch or get near. Its something we can apply ourselves in our own communities. And that is a key part, I believe, that we need to do as part of these proceedings is to ensure that that message of hope remains alive.

Whether its a message of hope that we can achieve a world without war, a world without poverty or whether its also a message of hope for those individuals amongst us who are left without the example of the many thousands of refugees in our community, people who have been acknowledged and assessed as refugees who are encountering and epidemic of despair at the moment because they live in fear of being forcibly returned to the very place they fled in the face of persecution. Those people are in danger of loosing hope, they are people amongst us who we could easily reach out to and provide them with some hope.

Violence towards one person is violence towards all humanity. And we need to address it not just on a global scale. We have to try and stop world-wide conflict, and we need to address it on an individual level in our own communities as well. Maintaining a message of hope to all in our community is part of that and certainly one thing I will be taking away from inspirational conferences such as this.

Thank You.