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Tuesday, 29 June 2010 22:45

Protocols for Peace Cafés

Written by  Robert Stewart

One of the key tasks of the Canadian Culture of Peace Program ("CCOPP") is to draft a protocol to guide our conversations, relationships and how we approach diverse stakeholder groups.  It is simply how we relate to each other while trying to build a Culture of Peace, and safeguard (secure; or at least improve) all of our relationships.

First, it is important to acknowledge that we expect that everyone who participates in CCOPP will pledge to live by the Culture of Peace principles declared in Manifesto 2000, in Appendix 1 below.

We (all) probably need a preamble to everything we say and do to try to diffuse our conversations (to minimize potential conflict).  Peace is of such ultimate importance that we have to take whatever safeguards we can not to jeopardize our most important work, and not to take things personally.  Whatever we do, we will have to ask participants to bear with us … and join us in a mutual learning conversation.  We must acknowledge imperfection in ourselves and others, and that we must continuously learn.

We do not wish to offend and will also have to try to be mindful of “hot buttons” and speak in different languages to different audiences.  Some of us must get past old “we vs. they” images.  But as much as we will try, some people may be offended by what we say and they may divorce themselves from our conversation (I would suggest to our mutual detriment, and we hope to avoid this).

Such a preamble may get tiresome (and may sound a bit overly cautious), but unfortunately there is a tendency to take some offence at a word, an action, a person, etc., and we know that we must always remind ourselves to rethink what we really want to achieve (in this relationship and life).

Until we develop our own “protocol” or strategy for approaching others, it is recommended for our own ‘internal security’ as a Culture of Peace community that we use the tools and methods contained in the following important texts - Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most; Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High; Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations and Bad Behavior; and The Practice of Peace, summarized in Appendix 2 below.  We recommend that anyone participating in the Culture of Peace Program read these books.

Possibly we can develop a short list of  “Principles for CCOPP Conversations”.  Considering the recommendations from the books in Appendix 2 below which explain and expand on these Principles, I came up with the following suggestions:

  1. Safety – guard the space against direct or indirectly violent behaviour (eg. Lack of respect, rejection, insult, etc.; there are no stupid questions or answers; we are all continuously learning; recognize that we live in an imperfect world and we are all trying to do our best to build a better one, for the sake of future generations; stop and think first, to select your words with care, compassion and empathy)
  2. Consequences – honest conversations are foiled if participants fear negative consequences; participants should mean no harm, have no fear, and have a clear understanding of the ‘rules’; trust must be built and earned; go to mutual purpose
  3. Acceptance – of the others as people, and respect for them and their opinions (dispel enemy images; listen to understand why they have the opinions they do)
  4. Mutual purpose – what is the outcome that we wish to achieve together? (invitation to a mutual learning conversation; answer ‘what is in it for us’; particularly being mindful of the overall Culture of Peace purpose/values; we aim for synergy and transformation)
  5. Patience - one of the essential characteristics of a Culture of Peace is 'patience'. Impatience almost always leads to a culture of violence, whereas a continued practice of patience is guaranteed to develop a Culture of Peace.
  6. Difference – we are not required to achieve consensus (it is OK to agree to disagree; we can learn from our differences, in fact we do not learn if we always agree)
  7. Empowerment – help the others to be courageous and find their voices so that we better understand their perspectives; we want them to honestly tell us what is bothering them, what their story is, what they wish to achieve, how we can help them and how they can help us
  8. Action – what are we going to do to continue to build a better relationship
  9. Responsibility – people are responsible for their own experiences (the success for any participant of any conversation depends to the greatest extent on the participant’s attitude; don’t blame others; don’t try to control others – you really can’t)

A Yahoo Group has been created to use as our communication tool at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CCOPPprotocol.  Anyone is invited to join if they wish to participate.  Members of CCOPPprotocol can send emails to the whole group of using This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Here is the Group Description:

“A Canadian Culture of Peace Program working group to participate in the drafting of a CCOPP protocol and strategy for approaching diverse groups, building relationships and having difficult conversations.”

So, I would suggest that we move the discussion to CCOPPprotocol, the working group dialogue and draft something, to be returned to CCOPPcore in due course for consideration of the larger group.

Frankly, we know it will take some years of continuous learning for us to master crucial conversations – like peace, it is hard work!  In the meantime, we appreciate your patience.  (If you have suggestions for the "Protocol Document", please let us know at info[at]peace.ca and join the discussion on the Yahoo Group.) 

Respectfully submitted,

Bob Stewart

Please see the two appendices: Manifesto 2000 and Discussions

Last modified on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 22:59
Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart

Bob is a Chartered Accountant and Certified Management Consultant by profession.  He has held many senior management positions in business and government over the past 36 years. His passion for peace was ignited by his involvement in the Rotary International convention that took place in Calgary in 1996.  The message that he heard was "peace is the most worthwhile cause, and you should do something".  Since that time, Bob has founded the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace and leads the Canadian Culture of Peace Program.  His peace website at www.peace.ca <http://www.peace.ca/>   has been ranked number 1 by Google with over 50,000 visitors per month, and he has been referred to as "the foremost peace educator in Canada". In 2000, Bob was the recipient of the YMCA Peace Award at the annual presentation in Calgary.

Bob recognized, as do others, that the Culture of Peace Program is on the threshold of making a major impact pacifically, nationally and internationally, but is currently lacking direction and capacity. He has devoted himself to using his professional skills as a (general) manager and information manager to help advance this 'direction and capacity' by founding the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace, the Canadian Culture of Peace Program, annual national and provincial peace education conferences, and Peace Cafés.

He has 3 children, a key influence on Bob's decision to 'make a difference with his life' during the International Decade for Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.

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