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Dialogue For A World Without Killing

Thanks to Victoria Pynchon at Settle It Now-Negotiation Blog for her recent post on the Khmer Rouge Genocide Trials in Cambodia. She reprints an extraordinary letter from David Blackman, a California ADR attorney who has volunteered his services to represent the victims of the atrocities committed under the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. For the first time in any genocide trial, as he points out, civil party victims have been taking part in every stage of the criminal proceedings. Please read Blackman’s account and follow the links for further information.

The attempt to find justice in Cambodia reminds me of the work of another remarkable group of ADR practitioners and researchers who are pursuing the long-term goal of ending such massacres forever. Their purpose is succinctly captured in the name of the organization they work for: The Center for Global Nonkilling (CGNK). That’s right: global nonkilling.

Surely the ultimate use of collaborative methods and the dialogue of engagement would be to stop the massacres of war forever as well as the widespread acceptance of killing in so many other settings – and to go beyond that to work on eliminating conditions that lead to killing. Of course, such goals are regarded by most as utterly impractical and impossible, at odds not only with the realities of unjust societies and power politics but also with human nature itself. That’s been my attitude as well, and when I first heard about this, I thought: Fine ideal, but are you serious? They are.

CGNK’s mission is to promote change toward the measurable goal of a killing-free world. The word “measurable” is interesting and stems from the work of political scientist Glenn Paige, who founded the global nonkilling initiative. His book, Nonkilling Global Political Science Dialogue for a World Without Killing, (also available as a free PDF download), challenges the premises of “killing-accepting sciences.” The program he envisions for the Center combines research, education, policy and action.

This comprehensive program consists of several elements: extensive research into human capabilities for nonkilling, the development of educational programs for building global awareness, training of leaders from around the world, problem solving projects using collaborative methods, and the measuring and monitoring of progress of global nonkilling efforts. It will also serve as a center of knowledge in the field and clearinghouse for the dissemination of information.

To begin this comprehensive program, an international group of mediators and specialists in dialogue have been at work to organize local activities around the world. Staff and partners work in the US, Thailand, Columbia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Nigeria, Germany, Jordan, DR Congo, and India – as well as several international research centers. That’s impressive for a group that’s been fully active only since the beginning of this year. Here are some of CGNK’s projects and partners:

  • Seminar on Nonviolent Struggle and Social Change in the Niger Delta convened at Port Harcourt, Nigeria, by the Centre for Global Nonviolence Nigeria, a partner of CGNK.
  • A series of partnerships and initiatives in the State of Pernambuco, Brazil, one of the most violent regions in the world.
  • Citizens Initiative for a Nonkilling India (CIFNKI).
  • Nonkilling Neuroscience Exploratory Colloquium on July 27-28, 2009 in Philadelphia.
  • A kindergarten and primary school at Kazimia-Katondje, Fizi (South-Kivu Province, DR Congo) whose students are casualties of war, disease and abandonment.
  • Open Space Session “Are Global Dignity, Humiliation-Free, Nonkilling Societies Possible?” took place on the first day of the 13th Annual Conference of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, held in Hawai’i from August 20th to 23rd.
  • Global Nonkilling Leadership Academy Pilot for a select group of promising young leaders from different fields, faiths, races, continents and backgrounds.
  • The online School of Nonkilling Studies at Wikiversity, now developing as an interdisciplinary learning platform for knowledge and skills for a killing-free world.
  • Research committees in 20 disciplines, involving more than 300 scholars from all over the world, that act as consultative bodies to promote the advancement of interdisciplinary scientific evidence on the possibilities of nonkilling societies.

In future posts I’ll present insights of CGNK staff members about the use of dialogue and collaboration methods in this context as well as the approach they envision to initiate a broad change in social attitudes.

If you are interested, you might consider signing CGNK’s petition on Facebook, An Affirmation of the Global Nonkilling Spirit.


John Folk-Williams

I’m John Folk-Williams, the publisher and editor of Cross Collaborate. Since the early 1980s, I’ve been a practitioner and writer in the field of public policy collaboration, interest-based negotiation, mediation and the involvement of citizens in the decisions that affect their lives. A site like this is itself a collaboration… MORE >

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