Editorial

International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, an idea whose time has come

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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The plan to launch an offshoot of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) in Jamaica is glad news in the context of our highly politically polarised society.

In fact, there is hardly a better time to contemplate an association of parliamentarians working for peace than in the throes of a Jamaican election which, historically, has been anything but peaceful.

We must be thankful that, so far, only the usual party squabbling is taking place in the three by-elections scheduled, mainly in St Mary South Eastern, where a real contest is on, given the razor-thin margin of five by which that seat was won in 2016.

According to the Dennis Salmon-led Universal Federation for Peace — the sponsors of the two-year-old IAPP — the new organisation seeks to create “a safe place and environment of mutual respect where parliamentarians can discuss national, regional and world problems constructively away from the political spotlights”.

“They learn to respect each other's opinion and to discuss patiently without resorting to anger, bullying, or the use of force,” Mr Salmon argues.

That certainly is a worthwhile concept which all peace-loving peoples can accept and apply to the numerous local situations in which politicians are at each other's throat, even for issues that obviously should not divide.

In fact, we hope that when the local chapter is up and running, that the IAPP Jamaica will work to get areas of national life, such as crime and education, out of the political arena, so that Jamaicans can be united around these two issues which affect all of us equally.

Mr Salmon's articulation of the aims and objectives of the association sounds idealistic, but perhaps this is the kind of idealism that is sorely needed in the world at this time, and so we cannot fault him:

“The IAPP is bringing together parliamentarians from around the world, forming an international network of men and women who are committed to solving the critical challenges of our time based on co-existence, mutual prosperity and realising a world of everlasting peace.

“As we all know, our world faces a wide range of problems including territorial disputes, religious and racial conflict, environmental degradation, climate change, violent extremism, poverty, hunger, nuclear proliferation and corruption. Each of these is a serious threat to human development and to the realisation of peace in our world.”

We agree with his view that parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, have a very significant role to play in contributing to peace and human development. We can easily insert Jamaican parliamentarians.

We note that some of the aims of the IAPP are not far from those of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, though one is more political and the other faith-based. We therefore suggest that the two organisations should find common cause in working together where possible.

Jamaican parliamentarians are, by and large, very committed to bettering Jamaica. But party politics, even among the best of them, tend to be their Achilles' heel. Any organisation that brings them closer together is to be welcomed.

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