Building the Asia-Pacific Network
Pax Christi International has member organisations in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Due to the impressive growth of the network within the region, the international movement initiated a series of regional consultations, organised with the aim to help support and define the Asia-Pacific perspective within Pax Christi. Since 1991, four Asia-Pacific regional consultations have taken place.
An Action Plan has been developed and focuses on interfaith and intercultural co-operation, discrimination against minorities, environmental changes which include potential for conflicts, as well as disarmament and demilitarisation.
The Member Organisations in Asia-Pacific have different profiles. Some are faith-based oriented, some operate on a national level, others have local and regional groups, and some are professional organisations working on issues such as landmines or cluster munitions, refugees and displaced persons, disarmament and reconciliation, human rights and media, peace education, and peace building.
The Filipino section of Pax Christi was established in 1985 and has remained quite active. It supports peace communities in zones of conflict between Christians, Muslims, and government forces, and social projects in and around Cebu.
Pax Christi was also a chief advocate for the removal of U.S. American military bases from the island - an effort that met with success in 2002 when the Filipino senate defeated the treaty that established their presence.
Pax Christi Philippines has also been campaigning strongly on nonviolence, for the control of small arms, against the kidnappings in Mindanao, and for the abolishment of the death penalty in the country. Today, Pax Christi Philippines has a national network of local and regional groups and has established a “Pax Christi Institute”.
The member organisation in New Zealand was formed in the early 1990s. This section is called Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand after the Maori name for the country. The rights of the Maori people, the issue of refugees and asylum seekers, disarmament, and the human rights situations in countries such as Papua New Guinea, are key priorities for the Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand organisation. Different local or regional Pax Christi groups have been developed in the country.
Pax Christi Australia is a Christian peace movement with branches in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, as well as individual members throughout Australia. Pax Christi was established as a peace movement in Australia in the 1970s and has been influential in peace initiatives in the country ever since. One of the key objectives of the Australian section has been to develop a strong Asia-Pacific perspective to Pax Christi’s work.
Members are involved in peace efforts in the fields of demilitarisation and security; human rights, especially rights of indigenous people; ecology; development; economic justice; and reconciliation, interfaith dialogue, critical action against counter terrorism legislation, Global Action against War, Anti-Bases campaign, Asylum Seekers, East Timor, West Papua and more. In addition, this section publishes a bi-monthly journal called “Disarming Times”.
The internal and external relations between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are a high priority for the Pax Christi network in this region. Social development and working with marginalised groups, especially women, by giving them training and knowledge is a key aspect of our work in attempting to overcome social inequalities. Inter-religious dialogue is also a means by which Pax Christi attempts to contribute towards bringing the different faith communities together against the exploitation of differences by nationalist and extremist forces. In both India and Pakistan, Member Organisations are working on the issue of the rights of (Christian) minorities.
Pax Christi International and many of its Member Organisations worked doggedly on the campaign to preserve Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. The article's original text stated that the Japanese government was not allowed to participate in any military operations, including peace keeping, outside of the country. However, as of September 2015, in a victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the language has been altered to allow for “collective self-defense.” According to this article from The Atlantic magazine, "Japanese forces will now be able to assist the U.S. and other allies if those allies were attacked, although there would still be limits on the scope and scale of Japanese assistance. The BBC notes, for example, that Japan could now shoot down a North Korean missile fired at the U.S. and provide logistical support to South Korea if Pyongyang invaded, but could not deploy Japanese troops to Korea."
In addition to concerns that are focused on locally, a number of thematic concerns apply to the entire region. Among these concerns are the status of refugees, displaced persons, and migrants.
From Thailand to New Zealand, our Member Organisations are struggling to reduce legislative and societal discrimination against people who have been displaced from their homes, or who choose to find a new home. In the case of refugees, social assistance is the primary work. Other key aims include fighting against discrimination against women and promoting a culture of peace.
E-news from Asia-Pacific
The Pax Christi International Secretariat regularly issues the Asia-Pacific Newsletter entitled "E-news from Asia-Pacific". It is hoped that this initiative will encourage more information sharing among the partners and members in the Asia-Pacific region.