Shifts in the New Millennium

With the secretariat in Metro Manila, Philippines, Sol Perpinan carried on APPRA activities utilizing the staff and facilities of TW-MAE-W. The period 1998 – 2006 saw the following happenings:

  • APPRA became a legal entity when it was registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission; this facilitated fund-sourcing;
  • An APPRA website was established; it contained APPRA documents, conference proceedings and papers in PDF
  • To facilitate communication and information dissemination, a yahoo group list was created and regularly utilized; voices of our Muslim members were regularly heard;
  • The goal of building community among peace activists, peace educators and peace researchers was achieved in two APPRA conferences held during this period:In Tagaytay City, Philippines, 8-10 December 2001, with the theme, Reconstructing Peace Theories and Practices in Asia and the Pacific;In Siem Reap, Cambodia, 22-24 August 2003, on the theme Visioning Alternatives to Violence;

Professionally documented and captured in several video tapes by Lynne Jackson of St. Francis College, Brooklyn, the APPRA Conference 2003 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, was definitely a conference to remember. It was a perfect example of alternative conferencing. Here are points that made a difference.

  • Hierarchical divisions disappeared! A high dignitary, H.E. Mrs You Ay, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women and Veterans’ Affairs, welcomed the participants on 21 August 2003 and stayed on till the last day, participating fully in her group like everyone else.
  • Maximum participation assumed that everyone had something important to contribute. Divided into round table groups, the 19 nationalities were distributed, observing gender balance as well as provision for intergenerational and interfaith dialogue.
  • From the Sunrise Ritual at Angkor Wat conducted the Hindu way to the impressive closing Buddhist sacred ritual officiated by the Venerable Nhem Kim Teng at sunset of the 24th of August, other major religions, Islam and Christianity, took turns for morning worship. Religion and peace was made palpable!
  • Allowing one’s humanity shine forth by sharing humbly and intimately various counterpoints made participants open to other perspectives and facilitated the change of mindsets in the process.
  • There was passion in the struggles for nonviolence in conflict-ridden areas like Burma and lasting solidarity was built.
  • How inspiring it was to hear from a Gulf War I veteran turned University professor, from a South Korean artist who uses life masks to erase barriers, from young doctors engaged in trauma healing in East Timor!
  • Enriched by the historic past of the awesome temples of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Banteay Srei, the participants shared their own rich cultures as they sang and danced to the beat of Cambodian, Bangladeshi, East Timorese and Filipino music.
  • This was indeed a conference of experiential peace!

For these meetings alternative ways of holding a conference took place – very process-oriented, allowing maximum participation in an ambience of informality and equality –no bureaucratic observances, no talking down to anyone but workshops facilitating insights and feelings of everyone to surface.

The conferences were contextualized, taking into account the current global and regional situation such as the Asia-Pacific Arc of Instability;

  • Care was given in selecting participants of different faiths, ages, backgrounds, countries from Uzbekistan to East Timor and Fiji;
  • Peace workers in all fields became conscious of their mission to aim at personal and social transformation;
  • Peace work and action research went beyond the academe to include peace building by the corporate world and by the international community, with inter-faith and grassroots involvement.

Recent APPRA Conferences

Other conferences with APPRA involvement have taken place in recent times:

Peace, Justice and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific Region, 1-2 April 2005, at the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (ACPACS), University of Queensland, Australia.

  • The participation of Pacific islanders was a highlight of the ACPACS conference;
  • The innovative way of running panels of the plenary sessions, like that of indigenous peoples of the Pacific and settler Australians, was lively and engaging.Sixty Years After World War II: Lessons for Peace Building

    , 5-7 January 2006, at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India.

  • The Jaipur meeting was a return to the conventional way of holding conferences. It was more a Jaipur Peace Foundation conference than an APPRA conference. However its contribution to APPRA was welcomed.