University for Peace Community Liason Group

- a concerned citizens initiative -

(Our group is independent of and has no formal approval from the University for Peace)

 


(our proposed university letterhead)
University for Peace

The United Nations-mandated Graduate School of International Service

liberty . equality . justice


 

Mission Statement

Our group has formed as a result of the common interest of it founders, as well as of many interested and concerned community members; in the performance, success and welfare of the only university authorized to grant degrees in the name of the United Nations General Assembly, the University for Peace (located in Costa Rica, now expanding internationally).

Despite the great potential of the University, which is the only educational institution within the UN family designed to proactively take forward the original aim of the UN Charter - to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" - we believe that the University, today, is being mismanaged, and its enlightened Mission Statement, misdirected.

Senior management of the University has often been characterized by a management style which is inconsistent with the University's Charter, and we believe that certain recent decisions of senior management have placed in jeapordy the institution's reputation and potential (esp. the lucrative new paramilitary training, with questionable backing from certain parties based in Washington DC).  More generically, we believe that the University could benefit from increased  institutional oversight by its Council, staff and general public, and better integration with its surrounding communities.

We urge key institutional stakeholders and concerned community members to help see the University's institutional problems addressed and rectified.

Today, more than ever, the world needs a university like our beloved "UPeace" - one dedicated to the high ideals enshrined in its Charter and Mission Statement; "to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace, with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful co-existence," to "stimulate cooperation among peoples," and "help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations."

Our hope - by posting here our own thoughts and suggestions, background information, and communications to University management - is that Upeace faculty, staff and students may have access to views not presented internally, and that interested stakeholder communities may join with us in helping to move this promising albeit struggling UN-related entity, toward higher standards of performance and value to the world community.  Our recent experience, unfortunately, has suggested that internal correspondence alone has no reasonable hope of achieving such objectives.

sincere regards,

UPCLG Founders

 

Objectives

Through this website-based effort and related community activities in the months and years to come, we hope, along with others, to accomplish the following objectives:

  • See long-standing institutional weaknesses at UPeace rectified, with respect to relative lack of institutional oversight, accountability and transparency.  We believe that this step must include reducing barriers between the University and the communities in which it operates - both in functional and geographic terms - allowing the public to better understand University programs and processes.  We also believe that this step must involve new Council-level Quailty Control measures and frameworks.

  • Convince the University's senior management to rectify problematic issues regarding University policies and community dealings. We define "problematic issues" as those which either: a) contradict the University's own Mission Statement; b) involve suggested unethical behavior; c) clearly involve institutional mismanagement.

  • See ongoing upgrades in the quality of faculty and management staff at the University.

  • See UPeace management make resolute committment to pursuing an institutional strategy of "peace via greater justice" rather than a "peace via greater security" paradigm.  This is the only approach which holds long-term hope, which can protect the University's reputation against potentially corrupting forces, and which is consistent with the University's Charter and Mission Statement.  While we agree that UPeace might very well be constructively involved, at some future time, in the development of military and/or paramilitary training programs - in a manner which respects the integrity of institutional decision-making controls, and maintains transparency with respect to the external world -  the manner under which the recent paramilitary training entered UPeace was totally unacceptable, and points to conduct and influences that would have seriously, negatively impacted the University's reputation and future.  (see Item B, below, under Program Design Recommendations, for related background materials).

We believe that, today, the University for Peace is still so young in its growth trajectory, that it does not yet have; adequate institutional oversight mechanisms, nor yet a student-alumni network sufficiently capable of helping to monitor and guide the growth of this vitally promising institution; the only University in the world blessed with the opportunity to represent the highest ideals of the UN system, as its only degree-granting institution of higher learning.

These observations point toward the potentially constructive role that we hope our group effort may serve, at least on an interim basis.  This, then, is our form of community and world service. 

 

Specific Actions Recommended by our Group

Program Design and Development Recommendations

a) There are only two universities in the world chartered by the UN General Assembly; United Nations University (UNU), based in Tokyo, and the University for Peace (based in Costa Rica, now expanding internationally). Of these, only UPeace is authorized, by its Charter, to host regular student populations and grant degrees.  UNU is confined, by its own Charter, to being a research-only network, meant to serve as a "brain trust," and source of thought leadership to the UN system, on topics nearly identical to those of priority to UPeace.  This situation provides an ideal basis for potential institutional cooperation and symbiosis; yet, one which has never been properly developed.  Namely, that UPeace would pioneer and model pragmatic, global practice leadership, in the same basic areas in which UNU and its network of academians and researchers, is busy pioneering related thought leadership. The UN's struggling MDG (Millenium Development Goals) agenda is an excellent example of a potential, unifying theme for developing such inter-institutional cooperation, in line with the stated priorites of both institutional charters.
b)
Publish to the UPeace website a signed letter indicating: a) that management recognizes that our world is already full of military, police and "intelligence" academies, and that the University for Peace was not meant to become another one of them; b) management agrees that the ingress of any proposed new paramilitary training - like the last instance, which saw the controversial shut-down of an allied radio station and much community protest and concern - must be accompanied by increased transparency, scrutiny and oversight, to protect the University's reputation and potential; c) that management recognizes that the UPeace Charter was meant to foster creative alternatives to the further militarization of our planet and to "peace via greater security" models (versus "peace via greater justice").  We hope that an accompanying statement will affirm a new institutional committment to pro-actively advocate conditions necessary for global peace, in line with the founding documents and developing priorities of the UN system.  We believe that the University was intended, by its Charter, to help foster creative solutions to international problems, resulting in higher levels of international justice and inter-cultural understanding, greater respect for human rights and the environment, and the ongoing conversion of global military expenditures toward more constructive ends. Please see the following links for background, related to these recommendations: UPeace paramilitary training contractUS Southern Command Latin America plans, RFPI TicoTimes articles, JW-RFPI correspondence, Letter to UPeace Founders, and followup Letter to UPeace Rector.
c)
Continue movement in the direction of establishing a stable tuition base, to supplement the ongoing solicitation of funds from governments, which tends to be a relatively unstable source of institutional financial support (tuitions pay approximately 30% of annual assessments, at present).  University management has recently targeted both military and government employees, on an international basis, as key student demographic segments to pursue - principly because of their increased "ability to pay."  While there are undoubtedly qualified students to be found from among both these groups, we sense a risk of excluding and failing to reward principled leaders, intellectuals and activists who may lack military or government sector backing.  We believe that the University must work harder to develop a high-caliber faculty and an increased global reputation, for energetic thought leadership - and, especially, for innovative practice leadership - along the lines of advancing the UN's founding principles and priorities, while "advocating conditions necessary for global peace" (as opposed to stressing the need for further research in the field of "peace studies"; see the 2003 Prospectus, for examples).  This more pro-active and pragmatic stance, in turn, will energize students, faculty, surrounding communities, and potential funders; resulting in higher demand for University programs among global student and faculty populations, greater employment demand for UPeace graduates, and reduced funds solicitation pressures.

Institutional Accountability, Transparency and Management Recommendations

a) Publish to the University's website, on a regular basis: a) planning documents, including institutional goals, program objectives and status reports; b) minutes of UPeace Executive Council and Council meetings; c) the University's audited financial statements.
b) Hold meetings, open to the public, at least on a quarterly basis - at all UPeace campuses - wherein senior management will update the public regarding University plans and entertain questions, thus ending the community isolation that has long characterized the University.
c) Investigate issues raised via materials posted to this website and find mutually-agreeable solution to key matters, thus honoring the spirit of the University's Charter.
d) Insure that the leadership of the UPeace Council and the University's top management are comprised of individuals whose management style is cooperative, whose backgrounds are free of ethical concerns, and who have appropriate skills.
e) Maintain transparency with respect to announced plans to move UPeace functionality to Toronto.  We are concerned about the possibility for functionality at the Costa Rica campus to be seriously damaged, as a result the recent $1.65mn ruling of the Costa Rican government against the Earth Council.  We believe that Costa Rica has the right to defend its laws, and to benefit from its twenty-year support of UPeace, to date.

 

 

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