Moral Architecture of World Peace
book reflects powerful vision of Nobel Peace Laureates
visionary recipients of the Nobel
Peace Prize gathered at the University in November 1998 for two
days of extraordinary dialogue about creating a more peaceful
world. From the inspiring words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's riveting description of chairing
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, their conversations
ranged from familiar international-relations themes to crucial
peace issues traditionally neglected by the daily news, such as
the need for personal transformation and better community-organizing.
on the laureates' talks, exchanges and life stories, a veteran
international-affairs journalist and author Helena Cobban has
created a powerful vision of our shared global future in a new
book, The Moral Architecture of World Peace, based on the historic
Unlike other recent books on global change, Cobban's publication
from the University Press of Virginia is based on the heroic stories
of individuals, whose views of world peace are derived from personal
strength and public activism, not economic trends.
a former Middle East correspondent for the Sunday Times of London
who writes a regular column on global affairs for the Christian
Science Monitor, sees this personal-activism model as perhaps
the strongest potential route for peace to capture the world's
imagination in the 21st century. The author of four previous books
on war and peace issues, she sits on an advisory committee for
Human Rights Watch and is a member of the International Institute
of Strategic Studies.
chapter in The Moral Architecture of World Peace contains one
laureate's version of a shared message: that peace is grounded
in the personal and spiritual as well as the economic and military
dimensions of global interconnectedness. When the Dalai Lama speaks
of the need for inner as well as external disarmament, he is asking
for a greater commitment than the most complicated nuclear arms
treaty, says Cobban, who teaches courses on peace issues through
U.Va.'s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
similar lines, the Northern Ireland peace activist Betty Williams
tells of her hope to disarm "the landmines of the heart,"
the bitterness that lives on in war survivors that can be more
destructive than physical scars. Jody Williams and Bobby Muller,
1997 laureates, sound a concordant note in the story of their
successful campaign to win an international treaty banning landmines.
Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sánchez, architect of the five-nation
peace accord in Central America, challenges citizens of rich western
countries to recognize the gap between their luxury spending and
the amounts needed to fund basic human services in other parts
of the world. Indigenous-rights activist Rigoberta Menchu Tum
of Guatemala and East Timorese representative José Ramos-Horta
both lament the human and social costs paid by what Ramos-Horta
calls, sorrowfully, the world's "expendable peoples."
Harn Yawnghwe, speaking on behalf of the Burmese democratic leader
Aung San Suu Kyi, who was refused the right to travel by her government,
talks of the tough issues of preparing for a transition to postauthoritarian
rule in a country that has been run by a military junta.
leaders, says Cobban, all seem to subscribe to a broader set of
truths that are not necessarily self-evident: that human beings
can easily become locked into self-perpetuating "systems
of suspicion and violence" at any level, from the interpersonal
through the international; that when one is inside such a system,
it can be hard to see it and to recognize one's own role within
it; but that each one of us has the capacity to make a leap from
self-centeredness toward greater understanding. "Try to change
motivation," the Dalai Lama urges.
while these laureates' stories are primarily of personal and political
triumph, they also tell of great sacrifice, conflict, and pain.
Bobby Muller's passionate exchange with Archbishop Tutu on moral
accountability versus reconciliation, and the self-examination
of Ramos-Horta, who reflected that his own East Timorese independence
movement may have hurt the chances of United States' intervention
to prevent Indonesia's brutal invasion of his country, point toward
the new kinds of challenges we face in the coming century. From
the candor, eloquence, humor and differences expressed by these
inspiring people, Cobban has sketched out a new international
paradigm of peace.