Servas International at the United Nations and Global Peacebuilding, #9

Sun, 18 Aug 2002

Dear Servas Peacebuilders,

We applaud and welcome all the many peacebuilding efforts by Servas worldwide!
In addition to the action of the team of Servas International Representatives to the United Nations in many parts of the world, our Peace Secretaries or the Committees responsible for Peacebuilding, as well as national representatives to the UN in different countries, are reporting of excellent peacebuilding efforts worldwide.  Do please continue to keep me regularly up to date.

While in many countries peacebuilding is possible, allowed and easier, you will appreciate that this was different for Servas in South Africa, where now Servas International is about to be officially represented at the imminent United Nation's World Summit on Sustainable Development.
You might be interested in the following from their recent report:

As an organisation Servas SA hasn't undertaken specific peace-building efforts. You can, however, argue that keeping Servas going from around 1975 during a time when encouraging international visitors was unpopular with the then government was itself an exercise in developing peaceful relations with travellers from many lands. It also involved briefing travellers from SA to the sensitivities around apartheid felt by potential hosts. Partly because of our relatively small numbers we didn't make public statements; our Durban co-ordinators for many years were members of the SA Indian community. In Johannesburg we have not been able to enrol hosts from other population groups - largely because of our fairly small circle of friends, and we find that people have to be fairly close friends before you can ask them if they want to be SERVAS hosts. The national co-ordinator has been working in African welfare work for many years; the co-ordinator in Johannesburg has been involved in the World Conference on Religion and Peace South African chapter since 1986, and is currently a Vice-President of that, he's been working in intergroup teacher contacts for most of his life, and in 1955 he chaired an ad hoc committee to celebrate the 10th anniversary of UN.... As you will realise, in South Africa such activities must rate as work for "peace and mutual understanding".

We applaud Servas South Africa for their exemplary action and endurance despite the so difficult situation they were confronted with.

In so many regions of our planet there is no peace!
The news from the Servas world which I share with you in these messages will inspire you to develope new ideas for peacebuilding in your area.

Looking forward to read your stories,
I'm yours in Servas,
Marco Kappenberger
Servas International Peace Secretary