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FOCUS September 2003 Volume 33

The Road to Peace


Armed conflict is the most visible form of the absence of peace. It causes death and destruction. It kills innocent civilians not just combatants.
Many armed conflicts arose because of injustices governments failed to resolve. Peace was broken when human rights were violated. The many cases of armed conflicts in Asia and the Pacific are characterized by gross violations of human rights including discrimination, deprivation of livelihood, destruction of the environment, summary killings, abductions, illegal detention, torture, rape and other sexual abuses.
The road to peace is partly addressed by protecting and realizing human rights. Armed response to any armed uprising or rebellion has not led to real peace. Peaceful efforts to resolve the underlying causes of the armed conflict lead to peace. This is the lesson of Bougainville.
But peace cannot be imposed. It has to be worked on by various parties - the government, the armed opposition, the civilian population, and when necessary, the international community. Peace does not endure unless the civilians have active and central role. And this happens only when the human rights of the civilians are protected and realized.