Peace is the final aim of the IVS movement. Since it was created after the First World War.
Peace is though a horizon that, unlike what the poet said (it takes one step back every time I take one step forward), it just does not come closer if we leave someone behind.
Despite this being our vision, we understand it as a complex process, an incomplete result, a balance finally where no violence would be found, either locally or globally. We don’t deny conflict because conflicts are the basis for things to change, and this is why we are happy to see that international workcamps do have an impact in the capacity of volunteers and of communities to deal with conflict in a constructive way. Because we understand that if peace is a process, we need people who go through this process to have capacities, skills, a culture, a will to deal with the conflicts on the daily and the extraordinary basis, without generating or accepting any violence on others or themselves.
But this process is under construction (and will always be), the matter is how far advanced we are. And the truth is that the world is living an unacceptable culture of violence and warfare. Wars have become something invisible or anecdotic for those who don’t suffer them: even if Syria is in the news, some European governments (or worse, citizens) are ready to reject refugees from that war, ignoring their responsibility and the situation of these asylum seekers; Ukraine is no longer in the news…but they are still suffering the violence of war. And besides that, violent extremism and totalitarianism are occupying again important spaces in our society, growing without yet having an effective antidote.
In the IVS movement we believe that we have some of those antidotes: the inclusion of all peoples in society with no discrimination, and to achieve that, develop inclusive programmes where people learn to live in diversity and enjoy it; the collective involvement in community development, to respond to challenges and needs together and in a participative way; the solidarity with all those who need it (because if we do not do that we will be burying a violence that will grow stronger afterwards); and to train the constant effort to build solutions from conflicts. This is the essence of International Workcamps and the aim of several specific programmes developed within the IVS movement.
But they are not all the antidotes, of course. While governments will keep understanding that the weapon industry is a legitimate way to make business, there will be a shared responsibility on the fact that any government at any moment can either invade a territory, repress their population or attack a certain group. Peace is not just the absence of physical violence, but physical violence multiplies all the others.
And most probably, while citizens, grassroots organisations and international federations like ours are not able to articulate independent, alternative, peace-building communication channels that allow to build narratives of peace and communicate abuses, it will be difficult to advance the culture of peace and the resistance against violence. The Global Human Rights Week aims at being one of such tools.
Today in the Global Human Rights Week, the Seminar in Othona (UK) will continue its course. Othona is a pacifist community which has been active since 1946 and cooperates with our member organisation VAP UK (organiser of the event), since 1977. In Barcelona, an event on the rights of workers in the Textile Industry will take place at SCI-Cat headquarters. In Paris, the Peace Action Week by Solidarités Jeunesses on the rights of Living Together and to Participation will start exploring the local reality in terms of diversity and activism. Our colleagues Ruchi in India and IIWC in Indonesia are preparing to start their Human Rights events tomorrow. The Alliance network is preparing to launch their Global Action Day for tomorrow in solidarity with all refugees worldwide. And so on, we go on, together with other activists and movements, in every corner.
If Peace is the way, as Gandhi said, we shall walk this path together.