In 1992, thirty representatives from 10 different countries came together in Bradford, England to consider the nascent international idea of promoting peace museums. Including countries such as Australia, Japan, and the United States, the organization that sprang from this groundbreaking meeting was at first called the International Network of Peace Museums (INPM), but a later similar international conference hosted by the Gernika Peace Museum in Gernika-Lumo (Spain) in 2005 changed the name to the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP). Over the years, seven conferences for the INMP have occurred, with plans for an eighth that will convene during 2014 in No Gun Ri, South Korea – which is the site of a very tragic massacre that took place during the Korean War. The list of peace museums in the world is a growing one, including approximately 60 such institutions that have sprung up around the globe, like the famous Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway.
INMP defines a peace museum as a nonprofit institution of education that is dedicated to propagating a culture of worldwide peace “through collecting, displaying and interpreting peace related material.” Displays or elements of a peace museum might inform the general public about non-violence and peace through the illustration of individual peacemakers in history, organizations that are dedicated to amity and goodwill in various ways, peacemaking campaigns, or historical events that exemplify the value of peace in human endeavors. Like any other museum, peace museums display objects and artifacts that would be of interest to the visitor – in this case focusing on the different people, epochs, and places important to the concept of peacebuilding in the world. Besides museums, the network of INMP also includes peace gardens, particular sites dedicated to peace, and public or community organizations dedicated to “exhibitions, documentation and similar activities.” With an overall mission of contributing to world peace through the promotion of peace museums, the organization has outlined 6 important points of dedication:
- creating links between peace museums, related institutions and individuals worldwide
- organizing international conferences and other activities
- releasing publications in the form of books, articles and newsletters
- encouraging the exchange of information, material and exhibitions
- setting up joint exhibitions to spread know-how
- encouraging the creation of more peace museums in other parts of the world
During its early years, the INMP carried out its functions informally, mostly in the capacity of occasional newsletters spaced out between the above mentioned international conferences. However, as the years progressed, the number of peace museums in the world increased rapidly, necessitating that the network take on a more formal structure of existence. It is presently governed by 10 executive board members and 12 advisory board members that represent museums of peace throughout the world. A major step occurred in 2009 when the INMP was formerly established as an association within The Hague, the international city of peace located in The Netherlands. In the year 2010, the organization opened its secretariat and official archive just a short distance from the Peace Palace that is part of that world famous municipality dedicated to international justice and peace. Far
from being an inconspicuous entity, the INMP is now registered with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO) – meaning that it is not part of a country’s government or a for-profit business. NGOs are usually entities that pursue far-reaching worldwide social interests that do not include political or governmental goals, but who often have consultative status within UN proceedings – due to the special nature of their international roles. Within its sovereign boundaries, the Netherlands has also granted the INMP status as an “institution for general benefit” (in Dutch the words are algemeen nut beogende instelling, ANBI). The office that is located in The Hague is overseen by a “secretariat administrator,” who is not to be confused with the “general coordinator” that oversees the overall functions of the INMP organization.
Located in every corner of the world, peace museums optimistically hope to put the progress of worldwide peace efforts in the “spotlight,” in the same educational manner that is employed by all museums. The INMP hopes to strengthen the growth of such institutions “in the broadest sense of the word and without any discrimination.” Such efforts are undoubtedly needed in our world, which is too often cluttered with educational institutions that take the concept of peace for granted – or for some inexplicable reason simply overlook it altogether. In order to overcome the culture of death that is so pervasive worldwide through hatred, violence, terrorism, and war, the value of peace must be studied and venerated in the same way as math, science, history, and literature. If you think deeply about it, the concept of peace museums is so crucial to the future of humanity, it is hard to understand why it took the idea so long to catch on. Why doesn’t every major city of the world have at least one of these establishments? The sponsors of this website praise the work of the INMP and ask you to help promote worldwide amity by clicking on the link below and signing the petition to which we are dedicated.
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