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LEARNING PROCESS ON PEACE FOR YOUNG ADULTS IN MEKONG REGION YEAR 2011

BACKGROUND

Mekong Region is rich in ethnic and cultural diversity, natural resources, watersheds and biodiversity. The region is considered a significant biodiversity hotspot[1] by Conservation International and the WWF (Wikipedia).MekongRiver which flow through five countries in the region serves as life blood for over 60 million people and become an intrinsic part of Southeast Asian societies.

Countries in Mekong region do not only share some commonality in culture, food and tradition but they also have painful and unforgettable history and conflict which lead to ‘historical bias’, ‘political distrust’, ‘cultural prejudice’ and ‘absence of mutual understanding’ among Mekong countries and their peoples. Many problems on labor migration, drug and human trafficking, cross-border conflict/issues, etc result from not the same pace of development in term of social and economic, unstable political situation and no tight relationship/friendship among governments in Mekong region. Some problems have hammered a sense of inferior and superior among countries inMekongregion as well.

In many cases, the conflict along border between Cambodia-Thai, Thai-Myanmar and Cambodia-Vietnam which has continued for years is created as political tool to diverse attention of internal political problem or being used as political game. The nationalism is used to provoke hatred against neighbor countries. Some conflicts were created due to distorted history. The conflicts over natural resource like water management inMekongRiver, that the five countries have shared, become a burning issue. So far, the conflict on water management of countries which are in upstream and downstream has not been seriously discussed at government level.

Without serious reflection and understanding on the root-cause of conflict, people will be easily influenced by one-sided information like media which are mostly controlled by government. The new generation will continue to learn history which promotes hatred and misunderstanding on neighboring countries. Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese peace practitioners and youth met and discussed the possibilities to develop a joint regional training on peace-building in regional consultation workshop in September2010 inVinh Phuc Province,Vietnam. As part of Learning Process, the meeting came up with an initiative of Scholar Meeting to provide critical insight/perspectives on how to develop effective peace-building in the region in particular betweenCambodia,ThailandandVietnam. A learning process module on regional peace-building was drafted. The Regional Strategic Team (RST) which comprise of representatives fromCambodia,ThailandandVietnamwas formed to carry out the learning process for young adults and promote peace inMekongregion.

The Learning Process on Peace Building in Mekong Region is developed to provide opportunity for young adult leaders fromMekong region to overcome the political, historical and cultural complexes and also to be competent to assume a relevant role and contribute to the development of civil society. Civil societies of theMekong region, in which the young generation plays an active role, need to be able to influence national and regional policies; and to counterbalance the present direction of development and bring forward alternative development that upholds non-violence, equity and sustainable peace. Through peaceful communication and non-violent action with holistic, systematic and critical thinking, the youth can effectively lead theMekong region in peace education, conflict management, collaboration and networking and environmental protection. The young adults are chosen because they are the Agent of Change: the present and the future of the region. Their openness, creativity and energy will bridge people from different backgrounds and countries.

This learning process is not only building young adult peace makers for Mekong region, it is also a process that NGOs and civil society in the region work and collaborate to write a borderless history, condemn all forms of violence and discrimination and promote peoples’ cultures of peace. This will be done in the spirit of understanding, love, friendship, and respect for each one’s diversity, dignity and identity.

OBJECTIVES

  1. Develop young adult leaders to take active role as the key agent of change for peace building inMekongregion.
  2. Strengthen Regional Strategic Team (RST) by developing effective communication, improving a sense of ownership and participation.
  3. Establish and strengthen trust at individual and cross-border level and deepen and broaden knowledge on
    • PeaceBuildingTheories and Practice
    • Understand each country situation
    • Understand linkages between and amongst the different countries and cultures of region
    • Practice non-violent actions, cross-border actions, networking, peaceful dialogue, constructive engagement, positive communication
  4. Reflect and write people’s history on conflict and peace.

INDICATORS

  1. Twenty-five committed young adults, who will promote peace in the region, attended the training.
  2. Young adults who have gone through the learning process become mentor on peace for young people in their country with close collaboration with national strategic team (NST).
  3. Young adults who have gone through the learning process participate and organize peace building activities at local, national and regional levels.
  4. The history documentation on identity and nationalism are produced by young adults who have gone through the learning process.

IMPACT STATEMENT: For the first time, a strategicMekong region peace-building movement begins to learn from common roots and living values in order to write a borderless history, condemn all forms of violence and discrimination and promote peoples’ cultures of peace. This will be done in the spirit of understanding, love, friendship, and respect for each one’s diversity, dignity and identity.

TARGET GROUP

  • Young adults fromThailand,CambodiaandVietnamand some fromMyanmarand Lao
  • Key committed young adult leaders with at least 2-year experiences from different working background, religions, gender and ethnic groups
  • Aged 20-30 year old
  • Willingness to collaborate within the country and the region

PROCESS OF LEARNING

This learning process is designed for one year program. The selected 25 young adults who commit to engage in peace building efforts in the region will learn about peace building through various activities such as training, mobile classroom and exchange programs like internship, cultural activities, producing history documentation, etc. The learning process is divided into 4 stages: 1) national process, 2) regional training, 3) exchange program and 4) monitoring and evaluation.

The national process is a platform for national strategic team to build their capacity and understand peace-building concept, conflict and violence in their countries andMekongregion. At the same time, it is a preparation stage for national/regional strategic team members and young adult participants to engage in the learning process.

The Regional training will help regional strategic team and participants to understand the theories, issue on identity and nationalism inMekongregion and to learn practical skills that can be used to promote and build peace. Besides, the training will also provide exposure emersion for RST and participants to learn from real conflict situation and they will have an opportunity to practice the non-violent skills and to take some actions to promote peace during peace journey.

The exchange program will provide opportunity for some young adult participants to learn from other country experiences through internship program.

At the last stage of this learning process, the regional strategic team and representative from young adult participants will have an evaluation of the whole learning process in order to draw lesson learned to improve the learning process for next year. Throughout the learning process, the young adult participants will have to do some tasks according to their willingness and they will be supervised closely and supported by strategic team of each country.

At the end of the learning process, all participants who complete the whole learning process will get the certificate as an award of their commitment and achievement.


[1] A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans. The concept of biodiversity hotspots was originated by Norman Myers in two articles in “The Environmentalist” (1988 & 1990), revised after thorough analysis by Myers and others in “Hotspots: Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions”.To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot on Myers 2000 edition of the hotspot-map, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 0.5% or 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation. Around the world, at least 25 areas qualify under this definition, with nine others possible candidates. These sites support nearly 60% of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species, with a very high share of endemic species.

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