Peacebuilding in the 21st Century

 Dubrovnik, Croatia, June 4 - 11, 2000

Sponsorship and Background

The Dubrovnik Conference, “Peacebuilding in the 21st Century,” was sponsored by Pathways To Peace, and co-sponsored by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the International Transpersonal Association, the Coexistence Initiative, DESA (a Dubrovnik women’s multi-ethnic, non-government organization), the Just Think Foundation, the Common Bond Institute, and The Society for the Improvement of the Quality of Life (Zagreb, Croatia). The newly-formed Praxis Peace Institute grew out of this conference and was also a co-sponsor.

The Inquiry designed for this conference was the culmination of PB-21, a five-year PeaceBuilding Inquiry co-sponsored by Pathways To Peace, under the direction of President, Avon Mattison, and the Fetzer Institute.

The purpose of the Dubrovnik Conference was to explore the root causes of war and to share peacebuilding models that are working successfully today.

Our site was chosen because of its recent history in war and the centuries-old legacy of peace that is the heritage of the former city-state of Dubrovnik. Our actual site, Cavtat, was part of the Dubrovnik city-state from the early 13th century to the early 19th century and is part of Dubrovnik County today.

During Dubrovnik’s golden age of  nearly 600 years of peace, the governing Council had created laws that reflected a most enlightened understanding of humanity and world affairs. In fact, Dubrovnik was the first European state to abolish slavery ----  in 1416! Their goal of averting war had succeeded, though the city-state finally fell to Napoleon in 1808 (without war). This marked the end of the city-state era.

Conference Facts:

There were 130 participants at this conference.

The participants came from 15 countries:  Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Denmark, England, Germany, Honduras, Ireland, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, the United States, and Yugoslavia (including Kosovo). The largest group came from the U.S. (61%), followed by Croatia (15%),Yugoslavia and Bosnia (12%), and Other (12%).

The Just Think Foundation conducted a 10-day film-making seminar for the students from the region. Their work was shown on the last day of our conference and was recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival (January 2001). The students were from Serbia, Kosovo, Vojvodina, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Croatia.  Many of them were members of the PostPessimists, a student peace organization. This group also included four  (4) American students (who had a reduced rate but were not on scholarship).

Our speakers included: Sam Keen, Susan Griffin, Peter Levine, Elisabet Sahtouris, Susan Collin Marks, Sulak Sivaraksa, Anne Wilson-Schaef, Vesna Terselic, Zlatko Pejic, Berta Dragivevic, Radisalv Cicic, Jan Oberg, Eric Nonacs and Georgia Kelly. Facilitators: Rama Vernon and Charlie Bloom.

Conference Director: Georgia Kelly

Conference Coordinator: Jodie Evans

Onsite Assistant: Jamie Pendell

Logistics Onsite: Atlas Travel

Logistics and Budget Consulting: Michael Olmstead and Lorie Murphy at Olmstead Productions and Lynne Winslow & Associates

Graphics: Amy Fritz and Eric Johnson

Web Design: Bruce Faithwick

Program and Conference Design Committee: Angeles Arrien, Charlie Bloom, Jodie Evans, Sam Keen, Georgia Kelly, and Avon Mattison.

Speical Thanks for your generous support:

Laura Lea Cannon and David Tresemer, Joanie Misrack, John Morton and Laura Donnelley-Morton of the Good Works Foundation, Fred Moon, Threshold Foundation, The Fetzer Institute, Henry Dakin, Alan Slifka, and Elana Rosen of the Just Think Foundation.


Conference Ideas and Suggestions for Further Research and Implementation

The following ideas were put forth and discussed by speakers and participants at the Dubrovnik Conference, “Peacebuilding in the 21st Century”:

1. New thinking and successful models of peacebuilding are required in order to break the cycles of violence that make war inevitable. We have some of the peacebuilding models in practice now, but often they are developed in a vacuum --- that is, without making the connections to economic and political concerns as well as the belief systems that continue to recycle the old patterns.

2. Addictive people and societies have an escalating tolerance for insanity. Any society that is addictive loses the perception of choices.

3. We don’t need a balance between victim and perpetrator; we need to work on ways of breaking the habit of co-dependent patterns that feed these recurring cycles.

4. Healing is not linear. Imagination, creativity, and spirit are essential factors in creating peace.

5. Women have to be a part of the peacemaking processes in the political arena. Women should be involved in negotiations as well as in reconciliations.

6. Women may not fight in wars, but often they are supporting wars. We need to reexamine this notion of women as the “innocent gender.” Young people from the region agreed that many women supported the war and justified the fighting for their ideas and beliefs. We need to explore gender more fully at the next conference.

7. Negotiators in the global arena usually have no conflict resolution skills. The agendas of political negotiators tend to be political or economic. Often, they are not oriented toward resolving conflicts. Instead, they are often little more than ultimatums and threats. We should work to change this.

8. Making amends is more than being “sorry.” Making amends is asking the questions: What is my part in the conflict? What did I do? What do I need to do to clean up the situation?

9. “War happens without permission.” Denial is a coping method that allows people to get on with their lives. “The slides (that Sam Keen showed) help break down that denial,” Vesna Terselic, Founder of Anti-War Campaign, Zagreb, Croatia, winner of the “Right Livelihood award, and nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Vesna supported breaking through the denial.

10. “Forgiveness is greater than justice.” Nigerian speaker on Coexistence Initiative Day.  “The question of whose justice is always relevant? What is the context? How many times does “justice” call for another violence?”

11. "There were 10 years of lost opportunities for peace in the Balkans. The international community brought 'peace prevention' to the Balkans. American occupation in the Balkans is not peace. When you want to prevent war, you can't get help. But, to clean things up, thousands of organizations and agencies come to profit from the rebuilding process", Croatian peace activist.

12. We cannot have a realistic peace without addressing structural (economic) violence.

13. We need to define “security” in a new way. We need an alternative global defense system that will not polarize countries and blocks of countries. “We don’t need to focus on fewer weapons; we need an alternative security system,” said Jan Oberg, conference speaker from Sweden and Founder of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research.

14. “A one-economy world could be as Stalinistic as a one-party world. The U.S. and the West should not be trying to recreate the rest of the world in its own economic image and for its own profits.”  Though these words were spoken by Jan Oberg, the ideas clearly resonated with most of the participants.

15. Evolutionary biology shows us that life continues to evolve due to cooperative models, not competitive ones.


Next Steps

The areas that people felt needed more exploration were

1) gender

2) more individual practice with conflict resolution (in dealing with their own personal conflicts)

3) more town hall meetings after the small group discussions --- as a place to  consider the ideas brought forth by participants

4) more  integration of the arts.

There was also interest in having pre- and post-conference workshops for in-depth treatment of particular issues.

Many of the participants have already said they will sign up for a next-step conference, and  would like it to be in the same place. Everyone, without exception, loved our location. Cavtat, our hotel and conference site, is a small village with many restaurants and small shops that line the water along a horseshoe-shaped bay. We spent one whole day and evening in Dubrovnik, where we had an open session discussing the meaning of identity and beliefs about identity. That afternoon, our small group discussion sessions convened in cafes in the walled city of Dubrovnik. In the evening we had a magnificent concert performed by the Dubrovnik Symphony  Orchestra and conducted by Dubrovnik composer/conductor, Delo Jusic. The setting was the atrium of the Duke’s Palace in the walled city. After many accolades about this being “the best concert I ever attended,” we would repeat a concert in the atrium in 2002.