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Imagining a world without wars

Dr. Aldo Civico’s fieldwork places him in the heart of armed conflicts, but he carries no weapons save his conviction that the human potential for peace is stronger than the potential for war.

Civico’s scholarship examines the relationship between politics and violence, and the influence of organized crime on the cultural, social, economic and political life of society, so he often works in highly volatile locales like Colombia, Haiti and Mexico.  He has met with anti-Mafia crusaders, child soldiers, and members of the paramilitary.  His interactions have taught him that “even in the midst of war, violence, and fear, we can tap into the human potential for peace and foster it... that the human potential for peace is stronger than the potential for war.”

In Sicily, Civico was active in an anti-mafia social movement, working on creating a cultural renaissance rooted in peace, lawfulness, and civic participation. In Colombia, he facilitated talks between the government of Colombia and one of the major guerrillas.  Throughout his journeys, he has sat down with victims of violence as well as its perpetrators, and listened to their stories. This, he says, is “what I have been trying to do in my life as a scholar and as a practitioner.”

One of the outcomes of his work is the International Institute for Peace at Rutgers University, Newark, which Civico co-founded with  Forest Whitaker, Academy Award-winning actor and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute, which  is now under the auspices of UNESCO, aims to pioneer innovative research, educate the next generation of peace-building leaders, and assist those embedded in violent conflicts in an effort to “reorient” societies toward sustainable peace.

The International Institute for Peace, explains Civico, will offer a space “where scholars, practitioners, students, and citizens can come together to imagine, create and innovate Peace.”

Civico has a master of arts from the University of Bologna as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.  He is a frequent blogger on The Huffington Post and has been widely published.  Most recently he contributed a chapter, “Eluding Peace? Negotiating with Colombia's ELN,” to the book, ENGAGING EXTREMISTS: Trade-Offs, Timing, and Diplomacy, (edited by I. William Zartman and Guy Olivier Faure, USIP Press Books, June 2011).


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