The idea of applying for an internship at the Institute for Economics and Peace came to me after watching a video about the Global Peace Index. Although I was not planning to go back to Mexico, I could not resist the opportunity of promoting and studying peace in my own country, especially coming from the most violent state in Mexico (Guerrero) and having studied violence and conflict for the past year in my master’s program. The possibility of simultaneously collaborating with such a prestigious international organization and connecting with my local network was really attractive.
I spent ten weeks learning about the Global Peace Index, the Mexican Peace Index and the Eight Pillars of Peace. I participated in the Mexico presentation of the Global Peace Index 2015, and, even more significant for me, we presented the Mexico Peace Index 2015 in Acapulco, my hometown.
The fact that Acapulco is ranked as the fifth most violent city of Mexico really contrasts with its spectacular beauty. On July 16th we presented the national trends of violence at the Universidad Loyola del Pacifico, the local university that generously hosted us. For the panel, we had a full room that exceeded all of our expectations: local NGOs, businessmen, Catholic Church representatives, the mayor, academics and many other citizens, all sitting together trying to build a vision of future for our city. For me, the diversity and interest of the group really raised hope.
It was no surprise to hear that, according to the Positive Peace Index, our region requires a more equitable distribution of resources, a better-functioning government and higher levels of human capital to achieve sustainable peace. However, the fact that the world leading institution in peace measurement succeeded in capturing our reality, represents an invaluable endorsement of our local strategies and efforts, and also reduces our feeling of isolation.
The global trends of conflict and violence demand strategic partnerships that put international tools in local hands to effectively transform reality. I believe that the Institute for Economics and Peace significantly contributes to such transformation and faces the challenge to generate useful information and measures for the consumption of national and local governments, corporations, NGOs and people willing to build peace in the midst of an increasingly complex world.
It was very interesting to witness the great effort that the Institute for Economics and Peace does to shift the global discussion from (negative) peace as the absence of violence towards the concept of Positive Peace, understood as the conditions that can lead to a sustainable and long-term peace.
Finally, working with Paty de Obeso, the representative of the Institute for Economics and Peace in Mexico, helped me realize how much we need to understand violence and, at the same time, imagine creative ways to achieve peace.
I am really grateful for this experience and hope that more Rotary Peace Fellows will approach the Institute for Economics and Peace in order to increase our collaboration. The path to achieve peace requires committed and well-intended allies that are easy to find if we look for them.
Carlos Juarez is a second year Rotary Peace Fellow studying a Masters of International Development Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. Before going to Duke, he was Director of Transparency and Public Policy in the municipality of Acapulco and actively participated in local peacebuilding processes. In 2010, along with his wife and a few friends created Citizenship and Education for Peace (CEPAC), an NGO advocating for Human Rights, Social Participation and Accountability.
Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.