THE FUNDACIÓN SEMINARIO DE INVESTIGACIÓN PARA LA PAZ
IDENTITY AND REPORT
Jesús María Alemany Briz
WHO ARE WE?
The Seminario de Investigación para la Paz celebrated not only its twentieth year of existence in 2004 as a pioneering organisation in the study of conflicts and peace, but also its connection to the Centro Pignatelli of Zaragoza.
In 2002, having come of age, the organisation entered a new phase. The Centro Pignatelli and its owner, the Society of Jesus, after extensive research, decided that the time had come to provide the Seminario with corporate status. On 13th November it was officially notarised as a Foundation, with certain guidelines specifying purposes, aims and actions. The Foundation, private and non-profit, was registered accordingly and recognised as an organisation whose purposes are of a social nature.
Its Board is selected by the following organisations who are signatories of Cooperative Agreements with the Foundation SIP and is composed of five members: one from the Society of Jesus, two from the Centro Pignatelli, one from the Government of Aragon and one from the Cortes de Aragón. The Board elects the director of the Foundation and sets up its operating principles, according to the rules. The Council of the Foundation acts in an advisory nature.
The Foundation has entered into cooperative agreements with many organisations, among them, the University of Zaragoza, which grants academic recognition to its courses, the Ministry of Defence, the Centro de Investigación para la Paz (Peace Research Centre) and the Fundación para una Cultura de Paz (Foundation for a Culture of Peace). It is a founder member of the Asociación Española de Investigación para la Paz (AIPAZ, Spanish Research Association for Peace) and has recently established a connection with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations in New York.
WHERE ARE WE FROM?
Our story begins with the concurrence of a series of events. The confrontation between the blocs reached its climax at the beginning of the 80s with the so-called Second Cold War. A growing fear pervaded Europe as it faced possible nuclear catastrophe. With the crisis of the euro-missiles, the pacifist conciousness of large segments of the European population was aroused, resulting in street demonstrations and other peace initiatives.
Aragon was one of the Spanish regions with a strong military presence since it housed the General Military Academy, the Military School of Mountaineering and Special Operations of Jaca, the Calatayud Polytechnic, the military exercise ranges of San Gregorio, Caude and Bardenas, important military units, and above all, the Air Base used by the United States (which drew the most criticism from the population). So it was natural that in Aragon too, there grew a strong and imaginative pacifist movement whose initiatives multiplied, establishing the Bridge for Peace in 1983 and the Women’s Peace Camp in 1984.
The Law of Autonomy of Aragon was passed in 1983 and elections were held resulting in the first Government of Aragon of the new democracy. The new socialist leadership, led by Santiago Marraco, had as its Culture Minister José Bada, a key person in Aragon’s history. José Bada, together with the Government, believed it necessary to include research for peace in the new Aragonese cultural agenda. Peace, they believed, is too important to leave to the emotional currents of fate. It must be the object of research, analysis, reasoned proposals and debate.
At the beginning of 1984, the Centro Pignatelli, a private cultural institution of the Society of Jesus, having established its authority and its strong social base, received and accepted from the Government of Aragon the responsibility for adopting a platform of research for peace. This coincided with the restructuring of the Jesuit mission in which the promotion of faith and work towards justice were seen as inseparable. Aragon thus became the first autonomous community in Spain to include research for peace in its cultural programme. This decision has been reaffirmed by all the successive autonomous Presidents, regardless of their political party and by the Cortes de Aragón, before whose commissions we have appeared. The Centro Pignatelli, in accepting this difficult challenge, made it conditional upon the guarantee of total independence in its work, while still receiving the moral and economic support of the government. This was freely granted.
The spring and summer of 1984 was a period of frenetic activity. We wanted to ensure that our new project was characterised by methods of scientific rigour, independent orientation, interdisciplinary research and mutual respect in the collective debate. We appeared before all the Faculties of the University and the Professional Colleges to present our project and to invite all to participate. In the interest of including the military in this peace project, we held interviews with key people in the Ministry of Defense, the Capitania General, the Academia General Militar and the Academia de Suboficiales of Talarn. We had close ties to Pedro Arrojo and Victor Viñuales who provided us with the necessary connections to the pacifist movement, of which they were important members. At the same time we established contact with the few people and institutions that were involved in research for peace in Spain at the time. Our relationship with Mariano Aguirre, who that same year founded the CIP in Madrid, and with Vicenç Fisas in Barcelona, proved to be especially significant. On 25th September, 1984 the first collaborative agreement between the Aragonese General Council and the Centro Pignatelli was signed. On the 9th of November of that same year the inaugural meeting of the Seminario took place, not without misgivings in certain sectors.
Twenty years later the Foundation Seminario de Investigación para la Paz brings together the invaluable contributions made by men and women of many professions, political and social ideologies and creeds, within Aragon and outside, whose names appear throughout this report. We honour their legacy. They have brought their abilities, their efforts and their hopes to the objectives of the Seminario de Investigación para la Paz at a time of accelerating change, resulting in an enormous moral and intellectual benefit. Through their diversity and their professionalism, they have formed a true “community of solidarity”, desiring to represent the best and most just desires of the great human community. In the twenty years since 1984 we have come to understand that peace must be built not only out of fear of a nuclear catastrophe (then) or of terrorism (now) but because it is the only truly human endeavour. We believe that peace on the world stage, and in our own small social sphere, is one and indivisible. Peace is a culture, as those who inspired us intuitively knew and as UNESCO solemnly declared at the start of the new millennium.
WHAT DO WE DO?
The Foundation Seminario de Investigación para la Paz established from its inception five tenets (specified throughout this report) to follow:
- The creation, maintenance and care of a library and centre for specialised documents which constitutes the necessary basis for our work, and which is open to any and all interested parties.
- Study and research. We organise an annual interdisciplinary central research seminar which articulates our collective work. Specialists from all over the world have come to our centre to tackle important topics using the well-known method of research into peace: diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. In addition to this activity are the personal research projects undertaken by the members of our Foundation and its collaborators. Our specialists participate in meetings and congresses, both national and international. Finally there are intensive open-enrollment courses dealing with topics that are not touched upon in University curricula, which give academic recognition to our proposals.
- Publications. These disseminate our work to research centres and to other interested parties, as well as providing information to support our proposals for political, economic, diplomatic, military and religious decisions. There are three kinds of publications: the most important series reports on the collective ongoing work of the Seminario; the monographs reflect the work of individual research, and the reports tackle specific current questions.
- Influence on public opinion through education, the media and social movements. We organise the annual Jornadas Aragonesas de Educación para la Paz whose objective is the training of educators in the pedagogical aspect of the topics dealt with by the Seminario. We maintain a high profile in the media through articles, interviews, collaborations and advice of all kinds. More and more often, different centres such as universities, secondary schools, NGOs and social movements, solicit our contribution to courses, conferences and other events.
- The network of relationships. We attach great importance to our working relationship with other national and international organisations and remain in close touch with the United Nations, with other similar Research Centres and with NGOs. After many years of work we became founder members of the Asociación Española de Investigación para la Paz (whose vice-president at the moment is our director, Carmen Magallón).
WHERE ARE WE?
We have come to understand that the will to “do” in research for peace cannot avoid the question of “how to be”. The struggle to come to terms with the answer has caused stress at times and, at others, perplexity. We feel it only fair to share these concerns with our friends. Some of this strain has arisen from:
- The relationship between power and independence. Our charge grew out of an initiative from the Government of Aragon (whose support we gratefully acknowledge) and is linked to agreements with the Cortes de Aragón and other institutions. Therefore we have had to negotiate a way “to be” while maintaining our independence. While it has been advantageous being part of the public cultural project of Aragon - being able to appear before the legislative committees and being able to count on strict financing - we have had to avoid becoming dependent on the political or financial powers.
- Academic versus non-academic fields. The Foundation is not located at the University but instead, in a Cultural Centre with a strong social base. It has been necessary “to be” while enjoying the advantage of a broad relationship with civil society and our influence on it, without jeopardising the rigorous character of our work and our relationship with the University. Many university professors have been connected to our projects and in 1999 we formalised an Agreement of Cooperation with the University of Zaragoza. We believe that universities should take advantage of the undeniable benefits that they have access to in the research for peace, without having to assume the stress that we feel.
- Proximity to the professional military versus a critical capacity. From the beginning we set as an objective the inclusion of the professional military in our work group and our relationships, and perhaps that has characterised us. We have kept the difference between militarism (as an ideology, for which politicians and the military-industrial complex have a strong responsibility) and the military profession. We have grown used to a respectful dialogue without dogma. We believe that we have helped to demystify the stereotypes held by each group regarding the other. But in no way do we think we must abandon the critical nature of our work, nor the convictions and proposals that derive from it, even though “knowing how to be” might be incomprehensible in that arena.
- The proportion of volunteers versus paid professionals. Our organisation has been characterised by an austerity of resources and a lack of people free to do the research. We have a director, and three people on a part-time basis, responsible for the maintenance of an infrastructure consisting of an administrative office, a library and a document centre. The members of the Seminario who dedicate their professional expertise are not paid. This causes problems in the ongoing work of research and in the pursuit of links. One positive effect has been to create a willingness to volunteer; another has been to create an amicable and respectful atmosphere in which to work. The ratio of volunteers to professionals is not necessarily discerned between individuals, but is rather to be found within each individual.
- The macroscenario versus the microscenario. Our greater concern with large international conflicts perhaps draws our attention away from our own social circle. Nowadays it is clear that peace is indivisible, and to build Peace on an international level we must bury the hatchet at home. The concepts of security, human development and human rights operate in both scenarios. What is being asked of us is knowing how “to be” in both scenarios, although we do not always get it right.
- Long term versus short term. Research for peace and the culture of peace are both long term goals, since the transformation of society and of the thought process takes time. We cannot dwell on the latest development, nor should we be insensitive to the challenges of daily events. It takes an effort to find the right place “to be” between the long and the short term.
- The deterioration of peace versus the deterioration of the “ecosystem” of peace. We are aware of the deterioration of peace and perhaps we pay less attention to the deterioration of the ecosystem of peace, that is the sociocultural environment needed to cultivate peace. We need to regain perspective. We need to think and act as responsible persons, as opposed to passive spectators of history. We need to have a concern for the public arena and the community, as opposed to taking refuge in mere privacy. We need to have shared values, as opposed to pure pragmatism. We need to have clarity in works of analysis and the search for intervention, as opposed to the simplicity of good will. We need to have the humility of small steps, as opposed to the Prometheanism of complete ideologies. We need to have the right to hope, as opposed to the paralysis of fixed ideas.