Building International Peace in Chicago: Local is Global

Moderator: Ben Penglase – Department of Anthropology and Latin American Studies (Loyola)
This panel explored how Chicago-based organizations can promote peace and non-violence internationally. It explored the strategies used to draw attention to the structural roots of conflict, to educate Americans about U.S. policies, to pursue peaceful and non-violent change, and to build networks of solidarity across national boundaries.

Jerica Arents – The Afghan Peace Volunteers
The Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) are a group of youth from Bamiyan and Kabul, Afghanistan. Formed in 2008, the APVs are “a grassroots group of ordinary, multi-ethnic Afghans seeking a life of non-violence, the unity of all people, equality, and self-reliance”. They work on various projects that promote non-military solutions for Afghanistan and unity across ethnic divisions. Along with diligently studying Gandhian nonviolence, the APVs spend their time reaching out to build international relationships through their “Global Days of Listening”. They have also hosted vigils, demonstrations, and protests to build a culture of peace.
I spent a month in Bamiyan and Kabul in 2010, visiting with the APVs and documenting the effects of the U.S./NATO occupation on ordinary Afghans. I traveled with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a peace and justice organization in Chicago. I’ll be returning to Afghanistan in April.
Relevant websites:
The Afghan Peace Volunteers:
Voices for Creative Nonviolence:
An article published in The Humanist:
Gary Cozette – Program Director, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN), is a 600-member network of lay leaders, pastors, priests, nuns, rabbis, and denominational executives in Illinois who together work for human rights, social justice and peace in Latin America. Through speakers, workshops, monthly membership updates, advocacy action initiatives, delegations to Latin America, and meetings with U.S. policy-makers, CRLN engages religious communities and leaders to speak out for just U.S. policies.Gary L. Cozette is program director and co-founder of CRLN. Prior to this, Gary served as Presbyterian lay mission worker in El Salvador (1984-1987) doing human rights reporting from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Salvador to an ecumenical urgent action network in North America. Gary has led or organized over 35 delegations of religious and community leaders to Latin America. Among them were two delegations to Cuba and four delegations to Colombia from 2001 to 2007. Gary also coordinated a human rights fact-finding mission to El Salvador 1989 with three past or present Members of Congress from Illinois. Website:
Brian Endless – Professor, Department of Political Science (Loyola); Volunteer Adviser, Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation
How can you work to stop a government in Africa from violating the human rights of it’s own people, and killing millions in the country next door?

My work with the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF) revolves around building peace, justice and real reconciliation in Rwanda and the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda has little political or press freedom, high inequality, enormous discrimination and a government that is only interested in providing benefits to the small group in power. The Rwandan government and its leaders are also one of the leading causes of the ongoing conflict in the neighboring Congo, with over seven million deaths driven by the quest for control of conflict minerals. And this is all further complicated by the fact that the United States is a close ally and large funder of this same Rwandan government. While this may seem like a hopeless cause happening far away, in fact individuals can make and have already made a big difference in moving toward a solution to the problems in this region. HRRF is one of many humanitarian groups working to bring this situation to the attention of the public, working to inform and drive ordinary people to take action.