We the Peoples have Yet to Speak

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Many Americans think the United Nations is impotent, not realizing that if we want to change the UN it has to be done through each country—especially the country with the most power, the United States. Even though there was an impulse at the end of World War II to strengthen the UN, the impulse failed and now, 193 countries work in their own self-interest making it impossible to resolve problems—especially those beyond the ability of individual states that require common interest. The Security Council veto that strangles political will remains the stronghold of the five countries who were the victors of World War II sixty five years later.

Archbishop Tutu has long called for a Truth Commission for the United States to heal the intractable divisions of our country, the only superpower left in the United Nations world body. The cycle of violence has become systemic—from massacres of Native peoples in the early days of the United States government, to servitude of blacks, women and children, to the internment of Japanese during World War II, to the current public and private humiliation of Arabs, South Asians and Muslims.  A multilateral approach is needed within the United States, to facilitate more equitable sharing of power and to reconcile the divisions at the individual and collective levels. Given the status accorded to the United States by world nations, it behooves the U.S. to lead by example.

In 1995 I was invited to a six month working group leading to a book, Abolishing War: Dialogue with Peace Scholars Elise Boulding and Randy Forsberg. During the six months, Elise said she had lost faith in humanity.  My leading was to find a way to restore faith in humanity. Besides clearness support at Cambridge Friends Meeting (and later at Worcester Friends Meeting), Elise (and other colleagues on Friends Peace Teams with me) provided clearness to my leading to find a way to restore faith in humanity. The leadership and development models designed and practiced over 20 years give leaders resources to reconcile any challenge using nonviolent means. The models help people see the light in everyone, claim one’s life mission, and use a toolbox that includes Elise’s imaging process.

Elise was a consistent supporter of my vision since 1995 to build a Peacebuilding Process to Develop Political Will to hear and provide resources for the voice of the people to complement the UN’s processes. She wrote an endorsement for my memoir, A Mantle of Roses: A Woman’s Journey Home to Peace: “We have much to learn from each other about how we have traveled and sometimes travailed through our life journeys. Virginia Swain’s story of her own development through time as a peacemaker and a compassionate human being will be inspiring and helpful to many. Her sense of calling is very strong and rightly guided. I have been interested in how Virginia’s innovative approach to leadership and peacebuilding in highly stressful conflicts has risen from her life journey. The Reconciliation Leadership Certificate Program and the Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service are important contributions to a third generation United Nations.

New leadership and development models to answer the call for political will for interdependence and global community after the Earth Summit

Reconciliation Leadership and A Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation to Develop Political Will as a practice and framework have been used in different conflicted situations—Sudan, East Timor, New York post 9/11 Drawing on the work of Lederach (1997), Boulding (1968, 2000), Mische (1995), Steele (1997) and others, the Truth and Reconciliation model developed in South Africa, as well as my 20 years in the United Nations community Reconciliation Leadership (RL) promotes an integrated approach to analyzing and resolving conflict at its root cause.  It encourages the use of an inquiry framework so that practitioners explore the linkages and the interconnectedness between personal, interpersonal, and group processes; it also supports examination of ways in which culture, religion, sexism, racism, class, and other dividers are implicated in conflicts.  In encouraging parties to speak and listen to each other’s emotions, RL helps participants and conflict practitioners themselves see beyond their roles as victims and perpetrators to their shared humanity. Finally, it highlights this work of conflict resolution as a vocational leadership that needs regular skill development.  Reconciliation leaders are expected to comprise a Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service once they have completed their certificate.

Inaugural Event: Celebration: A Model for Building Global Community

The Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation to Develop Political Will (PPR) was developed over a period of 20 years in local American and international settings.  The process is the result of my 30 years of experience as a consultant and trainer in organization development, as a counselor, ombuds and mediator on five continents. In particular, my Master’s research examined the problematic process behind the UN Security Council Resolution sanctioning the Persian Gulf War in 1991.  I was inspired by attending the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Earth Summit (1992), as well as by a 1986 article in Vision/Action Journal by Michael Doyle, “Now is the Time for All Good OD Consultants to Come to the Aid of Their Planet.”

I developed my Masters Research protocol that required the organization of A Celebration of the Children of the World, a day-long event that fostered reconciliation by renewing a sense of equality, dignity and worth among representative members of all the sectors of the United Nations Community. My master’s thesis for Lesley University was entitled Celebration: A Model for Building Global Community.

The PPR emerged out of the Celebration Model as a vehicle and a lightly structured and elicitive approach that could help create global community and address root causes of conflict.  PPR integrates participants’ strengths and gifts as well as drawing on the untapped energy of the individual and collective unconscious in temporary communities where protracted historic conflict offers opportunities for felt experiences of movement from isolation to global citizenship.  The process connects personal peace to global peace, while incorporating holistic principles and practices.  It is custom-designed for each implementation as an interdisciplinary model that relieves the conflicts of race, gender, age, religion, culture and geography.  A region’s indigenous conflict management patterns are honored and restored through this process. A reconciliation ritual allows unconscious and conscious suffering to be claimed and transcended.

Political will is an abstract expression for a collective political phenomenon. Rousseau called it the “general will”, the founding fathers called it, “the will of the people.” So in democracies, political will is plainly the majority rule.  In international life, however, since the United Nations and other international organizations represent states, not people, “political will” means only the will as interpreted by national leaders of the nation states. Hence, there was abundant political will to found the United Nations in 1945 and yet very little political will to make an immediate reality of the need for UN reform.

The “citizens of the world” have yet to speak.

The PPR is a vehicle through which the citizens of the world can speak. It provides an opportunity for a new definition of political will that evolves from an experience of deep connection in brother and sisterhood.  Common purpose is effortless and meaningful. In our terms, politics is consciousness raising, collaborative change-making and peaceful evolution (Collins, 1993). This new way of envisioning politics replaces the traditional understanding of politics as misplaced power and self-aggrandizement.

At the center of PPR is the need for a new leadership and development model.  As in the new definition of politics, above, the politician is redefined as a leader of reconciliation and instrument of peace. Reconciliation Leaders facilitate coexistence, restorative and reconciliation interventions as part of a Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service (GMRS), introduced at the Hague Appeal in 1999.

Can a process such as the PPR be harnessed to nurture a sense of the common good and foster partnership between nation states that are in conflict? Our experience is, “yes.” The Celebration of the Children of the World was a successful organizational development intervention that produced growth at multiple levels, including the personal, professional, interpersonal, team and systemic. As an intervention at the United Nations, as an international organization of nation states, it helped produce important shifts in those who participated. The bonds of participants are still active twenty years later

The six steps for a PPR-based consultation are: 1) entry, 2) needs assessment, 3) planning, 4) implementation, 5) follow up and 6) evaluation.  They can also be applied to international organization development consultation practice in international crises.   Each of these terms is defined as follows:

Entry When the Security Council resolution was passed in 1991, I was drawn to enter the UN system to offer my personal and professional skills. As a result, doors were opened for me to get a UN pass and begin my master’s studies.  Entry was also facilitated by the mentorship of a woman who had worked in the UN community for nearly 50 years.

Needs Assessment requires interviews with sample members of the organization or milieu where you wish to intervene.  For example, my 1992 interviews with various members of the UN community (including ambassadorial staff, international civil servants and non-governmental representatives) demonstrated how people’s anger and self-defeating behavior prevented them from being effective in implementing their highest ideals. In addition, the Cold War’s divisions had become systemic.  An “us and them” mentality as well as personal biases arising from differences of gender, age, culture, and religion promoted divisions rather than unity in serving the goal of the United Nations Charter. This needs assessment proved the urgent need for an intervention process that would integrate both personal and systemic approaches.

Planning   Based on the needs assessment, a two-part facilitation process was planned as follows. Phase 1:  PPR was developed as a parallel strategy, such that it introduced new initiatives while still honoring established and traditional approaches. The model was created to enhance the spiritual journeys of participants as a way to help build global community.  The structure was designed to awaken the senses by supporting people to feel, touch, hear and smell though the arts, as a way to the Sacred.      Bridge people were important to bring the new initiatives in while keeping the balance of conservatism.  Leas’ Levels of Conflict and Conflict Resolution Styles were crucial to maintaining a healthy level of creative tension.  The Life Cycle Strategy helped to identify where the United Nations system is in the cycle, and that is in decline. It was also helpful to develop strategies for the new initiative that would help the United Nations move through the decline stage through death/chaos stage and to a birthing and renewal place.   The PPR was designed to be supportive of the United Nations’ evolution to its full potential in global community.

Phase II:  The goal of the intervention was to provide an interdisciplinary, intercultural framework for relieving the conflicts of race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, etc.  After meeting street children and attending a vigil of all the world’s religions at the Earth Summit, a shared vision had taken form and emerged as a way to coalesce a large group of people to experience their common humanity in brother and sisterhood, leading to common efforts for addressing global issues.  A core group of 15 people who had attended the 1992 Earth Summit created a holding environment which served as a conflict management system for highly emotional challenges tested in the core group and for the 50 celebration artists who participated in the planning.  A pilot program of the PPR had emerged.

Implementation also occurred as two-phase process. Phase 1:  Parallel development was used in the United Nations intervention so that new directions and initiatives may be started alongside the more traditional ones.  The model defines people and systems in two patterns of behavior, the older and emerging selves.  These two patterns can exist side by side once changes are introduced (Rothauge, 1992).  Among the several strategies for Parallel Development are the Life Cycle Model and Leas’ Levels of Conflict. Bridge people facilitate the change process.  This intervention was considered systemic.

Phase 2: A lightly structured elicitive approach allows everyone in a group to share at one’s own rate. Seeking to reconcile the past, image the future and work together for common goals, a planning team of members representing diverse community groups built trusting relationships while preparing for a culminating artistic celebration centered around the needs of street children and planetary sustainability.  The event, Celebration of the Children of the World, had at its core a commitment to transformation of the high level of personal and systemic conflict experienced by members of the UN community and those who had been interviewed in the needs assessment. Celebration as an eight-stage conflict transformation tool was essential to the success of the process.

The eight planned stages of the celebration model included appropriate questions, silence, reflections, affirmation of accountability, forgiveness and an invitation to personal and interpersonal transformation, as well as an invitation to the Sacred to heal and transform human and systemic immobilization, frustration, anger and hatred. A renewed way to listen to one another, beyond roles and titles, was experienced by finding common human qualities-both strengths and limitations.  The culminating transcendent celebration brought joyful connections and profound change. The use of music, art, dance and drama introduced awe and wonder into everyday life. Twenty one years later, participants in the Celebration are continuing to experience collaborative relationships for global citizen diplomacy, and are being helped to move from reaction to response as they experience or witness conflicts at personal, systemic or international levels.

The interactive experiential component of the Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation serves as a catalyst for transformation by enabling participants to relate personally to the issues. Participants pose and answer questions such as: Who am I? What stops me from being who I am? How can I open to new Possibilities?  How can I take responsibility for myself?  How can I forgive myself and others? How can I receive who I am?  And finally, how can I become we for World Peace?

A developmental change was noted in participants who moved from self-interest to an experience of themselves as being part of a global community. After the intervention, a remaining question presented itself: could systemic change occur in nation states by having leaders participate in a similar experience? Would this enable them to incorporate a global perspective as well as national self-interest?

Evaluation    Phase 1:  The understanding that a system is resistant to change helped provide the courage and fortitude to apply the Parallel Development model in a Cold War system, which allowed for practical ways to address systemic breakdowns that occurred. Additionally, the process freed unrecognized potential in people and transformed the system.  Relationships are built whereby tasks are effectively accomplished because people care about one another.  Service to others comes from connection to self and fellow participants.

Phase 2:  My question of how the United Nations system would respond to a shared experience of community, and whether it would offer its support in order to make the December 9 event a reality in a two month time period, was answered positively. Sixty UN groups formed a coalition around the needs of street children, 250 people attended the morning vigil and 400 people attended the afternoon program. The artists and children were the most important contributors to the day’s event, helping participants shift from an intellectual framework to an emotional response, awakening people’s senses and feelings through music, art, dance, poetry and drama.  This socially acceptable forum supported many people to forget their titles and roles for the day, share common feelings and take the final step to global community, fostering relationships from their true selves. When it is not appropriate to celebrate, an appropriate ritual would be designed that will commemorate the need to mourn or express another emotional stage of growth. The 1992 project supports the need for an experience of global community.

The question that this left is how transferable is the December 9, 1992 and subsequent implementations of the PPR to other settings?   The response proved the need for more experiences of global community as a central element for the creation of a more permanent model.   Now that we knew the possibilities of developing global community, there was a need to create transient models that could be moved from one country to another to provide more local experiences   These models would provide more experiences for building global community, balancing the current legalistic approach to community as well as expanding and grounding the philosophy of the United Nations as an international peacemaking body.

Evaluation Questions for Reconciliation Leaders

Follow up:   There have been dozens of implementations in the follow up to the 1992 Celebration at the UN in 16 years of organization development practice. They are listed here http://www.centerglobalcommunitylaw.org/wl_gmrsimplementation.html. Among them are:

1, Development of new leadership models, including Reconciliation Leadership. Integrative and Reflective Leadership for vocationally oriented leaders and who want to develop a philosophy of life to support its integration into marriage and family life as well as career path and community life. Reconciliation Leadership was developed to assist leaders committed to just, sustainable, intercultural and multiethnic peace and developing following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Leadership competency models were developed to support both stages of leadership.   A certificate program began in January 2002 for Reconciliation Leadership. http://global-leader.org/gl_leadership_splash.html, http://www.centerglobalcommunitylaw.org/wl_reconciliationleadership.html and http://global-leader.org/gl_speakersbureau.htm

Reconciliation Leadership, the PPR and the GMRS are offered for a spiritual renaissance so that the world will know peace living under the laws of justice (Dag Hammarskjold) The United Nations was formed by the victors of World War II to abolish war. What leadership is needed to advance UN Charter l.4 of the Charter: “to be a Centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends?” We have a model in such leadership with Dag Hammarskjold and a glimpse of such leadership with Kofi Annan during the Tsunami crisis leading a United Nations training for advanced RLs “Leadership for the United Nations and the Harmonization of Nations” with the question: Was the evolving process of the harmonization of nations and addressing the global problematique accelerated by the Tsunami disaster? Kofi Annan said in 6 January 2005 in Jakarta “I think for the moment the world has come together and we are working together. The spirit in the conference and the spirit in the room and my discussions with the leaders who are here lead me to believe that we are responding and there is solidarity and we are going to really make a difference here.” “The generosity and support we have seen over the past few weeks have set a new standard for our global community. It is my hope that we will find a way of capturing this moment, nurturing this spirit and bringing it to bear in other crises around the world. 18 January 2005, General Assembly.

RL was conceived so that leaders can be ready to lead not needing a crisis without the disaster. The RL model was honed by experience in New York on 9/11 and also at the WTC bombing in 1993, and the NYC blackout. RLs are practical ideals, leading from their own mission and purpose, goodness, altruism and service trained in awareness of their own biases and unconscious needs as subtle as unconscious manipulation and coercion, so as not to perpetuate the cycle of violence, knowing how much havoc the cycle has wreaked in families, communities, nations and global politics. Recognition of the need to heal one’s inner conflicts (anger, fear shame) as a way to address UNESCO’s claim that war begins in the minds of people.

A Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service began answering the 1992 question about how transferable and effective the PPR model could be for other challenges and crises. Over twenty years, the PPR was expanded and other needs were addressed.  These included mourning, genocide, anger and fear.  The PPR is specifically designed to meet the needs of each unique situation.  An Asking the People Inquiry Process was developed for post-genocide Rwanda and further developed with ex-Yugoslavian refugees in Boston. For more go to http://global-leader.org/gl_gmrs_splash.htm and http://www.centerglobalcommunitylaw.org/wl_gmrservices.html