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  • On 15 March the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will hold a thematic debate on building inclusive societies and the need for collective action in the face of extremism and xenophobia.

    I am writing to you today, as I have insisted since the beginning of my dialogue with the Committee of Ministers, on the fact that it is of the utmost importance to us, INGOs, to have the possibility to contribute to this discussion and ensure that the voice of civil society is heard at the Council of Europe.  Through this written contribution, your experiences, opinions and commitments can be taken into account in the decision-making process at the Council of Europe.

    1. Pax Romana recomienda al Estado colombiano:

     Desmantelar los grupos criminales al margen de la ley y mejorar la eficacia de las instituciones de justicia y la fuerza pública frente a los nuevos fenómenos de violencia como las Bacrim, entre otras bandas derivadas del paramilitarismo, en el marco de  los puntos 3, 4 y 5 de los acuerdos de Paz de la Habana. 

    • Garantizar el derecho a la vida y la seguridad para las Organizaciones Sociales acompañantes que trabajan con las víctimas de restitución de tierras. 
    • El pasado 21 de octubre el Movimiento de profesionales católicos de Medellín invitó a Nicanor Restrepo Santamaría[i], a exponer públicamente su visión acerca de la importancia del proceso de paz que actualmente desarrollan el gobierno nacional de Colombia y la guerrilla de las FARC EP en la Habana, Cuba. Decidimos como movimiento proponer al “Centro de fe y culturas de Medellín”, de la Compañía de Jesús, que conjuntamente con nosotros convocara a la conferencia. Dicha estrategia resultó exitosa y a la conferencia asistieron más de 200 personas.

    • Letter from world religious leaders appealing to maintain the agreements and the peace-building progress in Colombia.

         We, religious leaders from around the world, have been able to engage with communities and in particular with the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia for many years now. In the almost six years of the public and private dialogues between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP guerilla we have continuously been able to follow-up (with you, Mr. President, as well as with the guerrillas) in the critically difficult moments, but that always turned out well, supporting the process until the final agreement was reached.

    • I would like to start my brief presentation with the lines of the famous poem by German Protestant pastor Martin Niemӧller: 

      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

      The similarities of the current geopolitical situation to the one prevailing before World War II are so striking, convincing and widespread that they are almost inescapable.

    • Role of Art as an actor and a vehicle for peace

           Art as a cultural and motivating expression of feelings, coming from the heart of the society is a powerful tool for the service of the common good welfare.  Art has a social function beyond the aesthetic and it is a key element in the integral development of peoples. Art is a great tool to unite society, therefore education must take into account its potential to affirm cultural identity and createwellbeing, which are essential for a culture of peace.

    • Travelling back to the final theatre of battle nine years later, where tens of thousands of civilians were trapped in the fighting, an activist reflects on the horrors of the final days of the war in 2009 and the inability of Sri Lankans in the north and south to connect to each other’s suffering on the anniversary of the guns falling silent. May 18, 2009 is the day Sri Lanka’s three decades long war came to an end.

      Mullivaikkal, a narrow strip of beach in the Mullaitivu District is where the war ended, when the Sri Lanka Army militarily defeated the LTTE and its 26 year struggle for a separate Tamil state. Before 2009, Mullivaikkal was a beautiful, but practically unheard of village, between the now infamous Nandikadal Lagoon and the ocean on the island’s North Eastern coast. The days, weeks and months preceding May 18, 2009, Mullivaikkal and nearby areas had been the epicenter of the final battles of the civil war, with a UN estimate of tens of thousands killed – combatants and civilians and hundreds disappeared – many of them after surrendering themselves to the authorities.