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Nuclear Free Scotland Ocotober 2005

PEACE & JUSTICE CENTRES

The workshop discussions produced two visions for a centre, both of which would make a valuable contribution. The conclusion of discussion was that rather than trying to mould two different models together, both ideas could be taken forward and that we should try to find names that would distinguish them.

One proposal envisages a centre (or ‘hub’) that can act in a co-ordination and facilitation role on a Scotland-wide basis for organisations engaged in peace and justice activities. It would be both a source of information on activities and a source of practical support, doing the kind of work on a Scottish basis that the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre does within its area. As a first stage it could be based on some existing premises and act mainly as a communication network. But the aim would be to put together adequate funding to acquire suitable premises (probably sharing with related organisations) to enable the networking to be face-to-face. A ‘Peace House’ of this kind could provide meeting rooms and access to other facilities for peace and justice groups and this would be particularly valuable for under-resourced groups. This would help to strengthen the identity of the peace movement in Scotland and encourage co-operation. Its management structure would be based on member organisations. The next step would be to consult a range of organisations who might be interested and, in particular, any who might be interested in the near future in sharing premises.

The second proposal is intended to address the absence in Scotland of any equivalent to the Oxford Research Group or the Bradford School of Peace Studies. We have as a nation very limited intellectual resources committed to international peace, disarmament and conflict analysis/mediation issues, particularly resources that are rooted in a principled peace and justice perspective. We need to be ambitious for Scotland and create a centre that aims to make an international contribution and which is open to international groups. An important part of the work would also be to promote within Scotland an informed public in relation to international issues. In order to be effective, it would need to engage Scotland’s wider institutional resources – universities, trade unions and business, faith groups, local authorities, peace and justice organisations and, of course, the Scottish Parliament and Executive. It should also have the involvement of some individuals whose background is overseas. These could all be represented in the management structure but with safeguards to ensure independence. For the initial stage, this idea needs a basic prospectus and we should seek help from a number of individuals to prepare this.

Some discussion of the desirability and the prospects for endowment funding for both of these proposals took place. The second proposal could not get off the ground without substantial funding and public institutions should be challenged to contribute but independence would be a key issue as it would be with private funding.
Isobel Lindsay

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