|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)
Dear Robert, Sr. Carazo -
At the bottom of this message is a rather sad story from BBC, today, re: a new invention - a gun which fires one million rounds per minute. Evidently, the US military is interested in it, to mount on a new generation of unmanned aircraft...
Perhaps, at some point during the coming years, the new summer-session paramilitary training classes at UPeace will be receiving conceptual overviews of how they might use such tools to implement their anti-terrorism, counter-espionage, drug and arms interdiction coursework [see Southern Command article and UPeace press release].
As you may know, I, James Latham, Don Snedeker, and many others here in the community - who meet at Juan Enrique and Rita Marie's Unity practice, who are RFPI supporters, who are current or former UPeace faculty or administrators that I am in contact with - are against the idea that the University for Peace should be involved, at this point, in military, paramilitary and police training. Yet, no real internal discussion on these topics has occurred; much less have their been open question and answer sessions to air either this or other troubling issues.
Of course, both of you would know - better than anyone else - that the original idea for the University, as captured by its Charter and Mission Statement, was to help develop hopeful alternatives to the further militarization of our planet, to help prevent human conflict, to creatively and pro-actively encourage a global "Culture of Peace."
Enlightened military, paramilitary, intelligence and police training would seem to belong at today's enlightened military and police training facilities - not at a toddling UPeace that is trying to find its way in the world and finally develop its public image. Perhaps, UPeace faculty could be involved in developing curriculum to be used in the world's military and police academies at some point; if approached openly, as a compliment to core "positive peace" and "culture of peace" programming (all of which still needs much further development; not to mention unfinished institutional oversight measures).
But, we object to major new funding coming into the University for the "Human Security" focus - under this initial four-year contract - while key questions remain unanswered as to where the funds have truly originated, who will be determining this curriculum over time, and the locus of ultimate responsibility for related staffing and admissions decisions.
We are disturbed about the long-standing friendship between senior UPeace management and a top Bush (formerly, top Reagan) National Security Council figure, whom we believe to be involved, behind the scenes, in Human Security funding and program design (for example; Italy is claimed as a program sponsor for the new paramilitary training; their secret service was the key source for the bogus Niger uranium claims used to justify the Iraq war by the Bush administration; the individual in question is closely tied to such groups, thus greater openness is required).
We are concerned that this new Human Security training may have the effect, over time, of turning the erstwhile "peace through justice" focus of UPeace in the direction of "peace through security" - a theme more in keeping with developing but ultimately misguided "anti-terrorism" and "Arc of Instability" (Pentagon) doctrines, which UPeace should be serving as a principled counter-balance to, not a junior partner!
Finally, we believe that all these things need and deserve to be openly discussed! This is evidently shocking to University management, who've lately had so gentle a personality as Gerardo Budowski incensed at the way these programs have simply been "dumped on the heads" (his words) of the community.
The fact that this new training is going to be snuck onto campus during the Summer months, initially, should not lessen the need to discuss its impact upon the University's direction, reputation and potential. Before approaching "counter-espionage," drugs and arms-interdiction, and anti-terrorism training - which probably belong better at places like WHISC (the renamed School of the Americas program) or resemble ILEA (one wonders if there is not already a solid, behind-the-scenes connection) [see related article] - would it not make more sense for the University to develop unexplored potential with coursework regarding constructive alternatives to the more than one trillion dollars per year currently spent globally on armaments and militaries; or on making the MDG Goals a reality; or on NGO sector management; or UN system strengthening and reform; creative new K-college "Culture of Peace" educational models, enhanced global ethics, etc, etc?
UPeace is still the UN's only degree-granting institution of higher learning, yet we have found that it remains relatively opaque, with little respect for public inclusion, or respectful debate or concensus-building in line with its own founding documents. It is absolutely lousy re: "walking the walk" versus "talking the talk," when it comes to "conflict resolution." It is hard to wipe the smile off one's face, to consider that they are seriously proposing to teach the rest of the world how to peacefully resolve conflicts; and major ones, at that. Carumba!!!
As you may also be aware: RFPI remains without compensation for seized property; Bill White remains without apology or compensation for an apparant attempt to turn his property donation into a private club; I remain without apology for being frozen out of the University merely for writing an email message raising disturbing points that had come to my attention, to Sr. Carazo.
The uppermost management of UPeace still seems to live by the George Bush adage, "You're either with us, or you're against us!" They are guilty of recent, unaddressed injustices. They are holding the door open to a new paramilitary training program, without allowing proper investigation or public debate.
Among other things, we believe that the walls between the institution and its surrounding public, must come down. Shouldn't the University's management feel some responsibility to invite in not only the general public; but also, informed critics, to discuss such issues in a respectful manner? If not, what does this say about the University's ability to fulfill its own Mission Statement; of being experts in conflict resolution, of "promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful co-existence," of "stimulating cooperation among peoples," while "helping to lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations"?
I hope and pray that the two of you will see at least some merit to these arguments and, as the school's respected co-Founders, perhaps find some appropriate way to be heard on these issues.