Last week and weekend in Paris, I was honored to represent Peace Action at the international conference of our good colleagues le Mouvement de la Paix (French Peace Movement). I was the only U.S. person there, among a few hundred peacemongers from France, Israel, Senegal, Germany, Britain, the U.K., Belgium and Russia (and I may have missed a few countries!).
Le Mouvement de la Paix (like our British colleagues at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, whose conference I attended last fall) is very similar to Peace Action, both in terms of its grassroots organizational structure (they have chapters all over France) and the issues it focuses on.
Topics addressed at the conference ran the gamut of peace concerns, from the economics and human rights angles of creating an international culture of peace, to more specific issues and campaigns such as global reductions in military spending and the arms trade. I spoke on the last two topics, as well as nuclear disarmament, from the perspective of Peace Action’s and the U.S. peace movement’s current organizing campaigns.
Also, I met twice with leaders from key European peace organizations regarding plans for organizing around the NATO/G-8 Summit next May in Chicago (more on that in the coming months). Our allies from Europe, as well as Canada, plan to come to Chicago to stand with us as we address the issues of war and the international economy, and call for more peaceful and sustainable alternatives. We are already at work on planning a speaking tour, an educational conference and street actions around this opportunity next spring.
The conference and meetings, though sometimes a bit challenging with language differences, were a terrific relationship and fellowship building experience for me, and I hope by extension for Peace Action. We have worked for a long time with peace movement colleagues around the world as a trusted ally, and this conference was just a continuation of that work. I always come away from interactions with our sisters and brothers from many different countries, cultures and backgrounds exhilarated to learn from their struggles. I am always convinced that not only is another world possible, it is inevitable!
–Kevin Martin, Executive Director