All the people who gather in this Congress share the same goal: a future without armed conflicts, without violence; a future where people recognize diversity of origin and thought as a value and not a problem; where we can resolve our differences –which are both natural and necessary- in a constructive way. A world of justice and solidarity, respectful of human rights and the environment. A world at peace.

We must celebrate our successes. Over the last decades we have been able to translate our goals into rules and public policies at all levels: global, national and also local. In addition to the laws, it is important to value the role of culture: all cultures in the world value life and promote love: between people and with nature.

And yet, the vast majority of cultures in the world also have ways to justify violence: physical, direct violence, and the multiple forms of structural violence, more subtle but perhaps also more devastating.

It’s as if we just don’t believe that another world is possible, that another world is essential. International treaties, constitutions, manifestos, peace agreements or the institutions themselves are of little use if we are not able to turn commitments into practice, if we do not improve the lives of the millions of excluded people, if we do not find the way to coexist in discrepancy, to live on our planet without killing it.

That is why we are here. Not just to imagine another world but to transform it.

To learn from each other, to join forces, to transcend mental frameworks, to keep hope in the midst of adversity. We need more creativity, new alliances, updating discourse, inventing new symbols, learning to understand and respond to the anxieties, fears and needs of people who think differently, because we cannot convince them only with arguments and laws.

I would like to emphasize the need for us to appropriate concepts such as security, which have been hijacked by actors reluctant or opposed to change, advocates of a status quo that maintains inequality and injustice. Peace and security are inseparable concepts – just like peace and human rights or peace and justice. In the face of a limited conception of state security, or the security of the privileged, we must more creatively vindicate human security and environmental security.

Our challenges are therefore also symbolic and cultural. And we need to make them explicit.  As master Vicent Martínez Guzman always reminded us: “We, the pacifists, are the realists.”

(Speech pronounced at the Opening Plenary of the II World Peace Congress held in Barcelona from 15-17 October).