About the Center for JustPeace in Asia
The Center for Justpeace in Asia (CJPA) traces its beginnings to a workshop organized in 2001 by Documentation for Action Groups in Asia (DAGA) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), where participants discussed the need for a regional program to support and promote grassroots initiatives in peacemaking and conflict transformation. For a more complete background, read the DAGA report.
As the world moves deeper into the 21st century and the era of globalisation, peace emerging from social and structural justice (justpeace) seems distant and untouchable for a vast number of the world's inhabitants. Asia, too, has its share of old and new conflicts that just do not seem to go away. Ethnic conflicts rage on in Burma and Sri Lanka, religious conflicts continue in Philippines, Indonesia and India while border conflicts and cultural conflicts often dominate the evening news. What the evening news rarely says is that a large number of these conflicts are orchestrated by economic and/or political forces, often of an international and global nature, bent on claiming control over limited natural and human resources. Rather than helping solve these conflicts the globalisation process seems to be actually fuelling them.
Increased awareness of these conflicts has also sparked a growing interest in the fields of conflict transformation and peacemaking, especially in the countries of the north. A growing number of American universities are offering both undergraduate and graduate courses in conflict transformation and peace making. Skilled practitioners from North America and Europe travel globally to help groups in conflict learn the skills necessary to bring about peaceful solutions to conflicts. While all of these activities are built on good intentions, there is an emerging feeling among community workers in Asia that the models being imported from the north may not be designed to help identify the history and culture of these conflicts and thus they can not lead toward true justpeace. The feeling among a growing number of Asian activists is that many, if not most, of the conflicts in Asia grow out of structural injustices. Many of these structures have been imposed on Asia by local power elite forces and by nations that hold global economic and political advantage. Any model of conflict transformation and peacemaking that helps protect this status quo can not usher in a peace based on true justice because justpeace requires transformation at the root of the local and global structures that create and fuel these conflicts.
We in Asia can learn much from the research and experience of the conflict transformation and peacemaking movement in the north. However, Asia also has a rich and very long history of living in community, solving conflicts and building justice. Traditional models of conflict transformation and peacemaking have been very effectively practiced at the village and community levels throughout Asia, and even though little has been written about these models, they have proven their worth through their own histories. Great harm will be done if these traditional models are ignored and replaced with models from the north that may not only be culturally insensitive, but which may completely ignore the root causes of the conflicts, allowing them to continue to exist like a cancer hidden under the skin.
The purpose of this project is to connect grassroots peace activists from around Asia to enable a process of discussing, documenting and building the indigenous experiences of local grassroots communities and to seek ways to make use of this accumulated wisdom and experience to develop more effective and appropriate models for conflict transformation and peacemaking at the national and global levels. This project is part of DAGA's plan to design an on-going program that can support the World Council of Church's (WCC) Decade of Overcoming Violence (DOV).
The CJPA also hopes to be a link between justpeace movements in Asia and those in Africa, Europe and North/South America in order to strengthen the global justpeace movement.