The Origins of Agenda for Reconciliation

   
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Agenda for Reconciliation is one of the programmes of Initiatives of Change.

This movement was known as Moral Re-Armament (MRA) until August 2001. Its starting point is the readiness of individuals to make real in their own lives the changes they wish to see in society. A commitment to search for God's will in daily life forms the basis for creative initiative and common action.

In 1946, a group of Swiss who had known the work of the Oxford Group/MRA in the 1930s, bought the derelict Caux Palace Hotel above the lake of Geneva as a centre for reconciliation in war-torn Europe. Some of the first Germans to travel outside their country went there in 1946. In Religion, the Missing Dimension of Statecraft*, distinguished scholar Edward Luttwak writes, "Whatever its causes, MRA's dubious reputation in intellectual circles has served to obscure its contribution to one of the greatest achievements in the entire record of modern statecraft: the astonishingly rapid Franco-German reconciliation after 1945. That, of course, was both the precondition to, and the true origin of, the (Western) European integration movement that in turn transformed European politics......unpublished documents and indirect evidence...prove beyond all doubt that Moral Re-Armament played an important role at the very beginning of the Franco-German reconciliation."

Caux conferences went on to contribute to the resolution of a number of significant international conflicts including the independence struggles of Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Cyprus and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. The first Japanese group (including a future Prime Minister and the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) to travel to the West after World War II went to Caux in 1950 and then on to London and Washington to help lay the foundations for post-war Japanese re-engagement in the international community.**

Between 1960 and 1980 a number of other centres were created; notably at Asia Plateau in Panchgani, Western India; in Melbourne, Australia and in Petropolis, Brazil. Asia Plateau played a significant role in defusing a conflict in the Northeast of India when an ethnic minority threatened to plunge the area into armed conflict in the late 1960s. The resolution of differences there by leaders from all sides was a factor in the peaceful birth of the state of Meghalaya in 1970.

1991 saw the first of an annual series of conferences in Caux on the theme Regions in crisis, regions in recovery - learning from one another The idea stemmed from an Irish politician's remark that, in facing Ireland's problems, it would be more helpful to learn from those involved in other conflict areas of the world than meeting only other Irish leaders

In 1996, Caux's 50th anniversary, there was an international symposium on the theme An Agenda For Reconciliation, co-hosted with the National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) in Tokyo and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Speakers of international repute were invited to address themes related to reconciliation, past and future, in various areas of the world. Many referred to the need for preventive diplomacy - the work of reconciling parties before a conflict breaks out. Others stressed the increasing recognition of NGOs both in the process of "Track II Diplomacy" as it is frequently called and in providing insights not always available to diplomats or officials.

At a meeting in Strasbourg in March 1998, representatives of twelve countries decided to launch Agenda for Reconciliation as a means to co-ordinate work of this kind and to serve as a link with, and make this experience available to, diplomats, governments, the UN, the European Union and other regional organisations.

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11-May-2004