Making Peace with Nature: an International Peace Conference, convened at the Mohonk Mountain House from April 18th to 21st.

The intense week of programmes in Mohonk began with pre-conference discussions between April 15th and 17th, where were discussed informally among the board members the NCP strategic analysis, the research and planning of future NCP events, the programme for the NCP summer school courses for 2022, and other collaborative strategies between NCP, the University of Caen Normandy, Kent State and the UN-mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica).

The sessions at Mohonk Mountain House was attended by Nicholas Robinson (Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University), Émilie Gaillard (Normandy Chair for Peace), Tony Oposa (Attorney, Philippines), Joe Baker (Lenape Center), Hadrien Coumans (Lenape Center), Erin Daly (Delaware Law School at Widener University), Ces Oreña-Drilon (journalist, Philippines), Louisa Finn (Mohonk Consultations), John Grim (Yale School of the Environment), Elaine (Lan Yin) Hsiao (School of Peace and Conflict Studies, Kent State University), Narinder Kakar (Permanent Presentative to the United Nations of the UN-Mandated University for Peace – Costa Rica), James May (Delaware Law School at Widener University), Richard Ottinger (Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University), William Piermattei (Environmental Law Program at Carey School of Law in the University of Maryland), Nicole Ann Ponce (World’s Youth for Climate Justice, Philippines), Mary Evelyn Tucker (Yale School of the Environment), Achinthi Vinthanage (Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University), Daniele Galvão de Sousa Santos (Normandy Chair for Peace), Brad Berg (Mohonk Consultations), Nancy O. Graham (Mohonk Consultations), Martin Irwin (Mohonk Consultations), Cara Lee (Mohonk Consultations), Patty Matteson (Mohonk Consultations), Sandra Smiley (Mohonk Consultations), Smita Narula (Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University), Katrina Kuh (virtually) and David Forman (virtually).

Day 1 – Monday, April 18th

The morning session was dedicated to addressing the purpose and symbolism of the event, of being convened at Mohonk Mountain House (Mohonk Consultations), historically known for peace conferences, which played a significant role to the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, also known as the Hague Tribunal. It was also reflected on transformative actions for harmony with nature and the importance of introducing indigenous wisdom into that process for changing thinking in law. Besides that, it was highlighted the change of paradigms with the creation of the Normandy Chair for Peace, which represents a milestone in the history of Normandy, previously associated with the history of war, but which, with the establishment of the NCP, is moving towards drawing up a history of peace, between generations and for the planet, embodied in the motto “We will have peace on Earth when we have peace with the Earth”. The session was attended by members of the Lenape Center, Joe Baker and Hadrien Coumans, who honored the participants with a prayer and a sacred song in reverence of the ancestral land Lenape, Lenapehoking.

After the lunch break, the participants reflected on responses to the crises produced by business-as-usual practices. The discussions guided by Professor Nicholas Robinson revolved around: ways to improve the traditional academic education through transitions and transformations in educational programmes, and engaging the youth in the process of producing environmental policy; the importance of informing decision-making processes to reach out the rights of future generations, rediscovering how to experience nature and the traditional wisdom of being part of living in nature; that we are in a time of a broader approach, meta-religious, that goes beyond religion, aimed at rescuing a moral force centred on secular humanism, and that it is necessary to put vision and action together; that there is an idea of interconnectedness behind human responsibility over nature, imbued in the sense that what affects the environment affects us all; that we are entering a new sphere in which rights can provide dignity for future generations, a dialogue that also calls for the dignity of nature and perhaps we can incorporate these from different cultures, as the indigenous one; that all our lives is the life of nature, and that there is no way to even think otherwise; that using the general assembly can be a means of moving forward, reaching universal decisions; that it is also needed to think of ways to better protect environmental defenders; that we have all the tools to solve our problems, but we are not putting them into force; that the good stories movement can motivate us in this direction – protecting and respecting the environment effectively; and, finally, that it is important to engage the media, which can be a powerful partner in spreading knowledge, with filmmaking, documentaries, and create a YouTube channel to generate mobilisation.

The first day of conferences ended with an evening session consisted in screening the film “Journey of the Universe”, a documentary film written by Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker. The film invites us to reflect about humas belonging to a wider community of life on the planet, intrinsically interdependent on all other forms of life, expanding our vision beyond anthropocentric rationale. After the presentation of the film, the discussion guided by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grimm resulted in reflections about the fact that we are the universe itself and not just an integral part of it. In this fusion of science and values, we position ourselves as responsible for the continuation of life on the planet, hence the importance of reflecting on our responsibility in the process of building peace with nature.

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