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Monday, August 6, 2007 - It is most appropriate on this day to have received A World Without Armies report from Kaz Tanahashi.  - DC

Photos of conference      Contact and Donate to AWWA 

2-27-07 AWWA post

A World Without Armies Report on The First Conference of Women for the Abolition of Armies in Central America by 2020


Central America is one of the most promising regions of the world for demilitarization. Costa Rica constitutionally abolished its armed forces in 949, and Panama did the same in 994. Central Americans are well aware of the tremendous benefit of army-less nations. Demilitarization is therefore a realistic possibility. A World Without Armies (AWWA) has been working with people in Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to assist them in starting a dialogue and in developing strategies for Central American demilitarization.

This conference—initiated and co-sponsored by AWWA—marks the first official gathering of women focused on demilitarizing an entire region of the world.

Principle of Action

AWWA is willing to work with people of any gender, nationality, political viewpoint, and religious belief. AWWA is already working with government and military officials. Because there is a great deal of enthusiasm among women in Central America for demilitarization, AWWA has initiated the women’s conference.


In providing assistance to its Central American colleagues, we will together overcome social, economic, and psychological barriers. Our goal is to help demilitarize Central America by 2020. In the process of developing academic studies on the demilitarization potential of nations, we will collaborate with the Bonn International Center for Conversion in Bonn, Germany—the foremost semi-governmental research institute for military conversion. We will additionally hire political and military advisors to help demilitarize the five remaining Central American nations—Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize. Our projected cost of demilitarizing each nation is equivalent to the cost of producing one missile. Once the process of Central American demilitarization begins, the world’s notions regarding the feasibility and practicality of abolishing armies will change forever.

Conference Preparation

In May 2006, AWWA— in collaboration with the National Direction for Prevention of Violence and Crime, a branch of the Costa Rican Ministry of Justice—co-sponsored a preparatory Workshop for Central America Without Armies in San José, Costa Rica.

Since then, the AWWA office in Costa Rica organized monthly committee meetings in order to prepare the 2007 conference.

In February 2007, AWWA invited four leading Costa Rican activists—both governmental and nongovernmental — to the San Francisco Bay Area. We hosted various public events, including networking opportunities, music concerts, and media events. These Costa Rican guests sparked much interest among AWWA’s support network, setting the stage for the April gathering.

Dates: April 27-29, 2007

Locations (San Jose, Costa Rica)
Costa Rica Ministry of Culture
The University of International Cooperation
Center of Friends for Peace

Co-sponsors (Costa Rica)
Latin American Institute of Peace Studies (Instituto Latinoamericano de Estudios para la Paz)
The University of International Cooperation (Universidad para la Cooperación Internacional)
Center of Friends for Peace (Centro de Estudios para la Paz)

Costa Rican Organizers
Brenda Granados, Latin American Institute of Peace Studies
Carmen Alvarado, San Ramon Artist Association
Celina García, Center of Friends for Peace) & Latin American Institute of Peace Studies
Dulce Umanzor, National Direction for Prevention of Violence and Crime, Ministry of Justice
Haydée Villalobos, Radio International Feminist
Isabel Macdonald, Center of Friends for Peace
María Suarez, Radio International Feminist
Marianne Lizana, Latin American Institute of Peace Studies
Brahma Kumaris, Latin American Institute of Peace Studies
Ruth Lopez, Latin American Institute of Peace Studies
Vanessa Calderon, Organizer, Puerto Viejo
Yarman, Radio International Feminist

AWWA Delegates from U.S.A.

Edie Hartshorne, Catherine Margerin, Minette Mangahas, Cristina Shaheen, Paloma Pavel, and Vijali Hamilton

The First Conference of Women for the Abolition of Armies in Central America by 2020


Keynote Address

Estrella Carazo, former First Lady of Costa Rica

Panel discussion: The significance of abolition of armies in Central America

Lecture: On the Conversation Formula


Participants discussed the following themes:

Concrete strategies for the abolition of armies by the year 2020

The current status of peace work in each Central American country

Investigations and publications about significant political, economic, and social impacts of demilitarization

How to disarm the minds of people

Education for peace and disarmament

Violence in countries without armies

Human rights

The exploitation and abuse of women and children

Strategic alliances between individuals, organizations and social, political and civil institutions, as well as between civilians and politicians in Central America and other countries

Systems for future communications between conference participants


Proposed plans for the future

Create a cyber map of women and peace in the Americas

Contact the former and current First Ladies of Central American nations to garner support for the initiative

Build relationships with women Nobel Laureates

Create a website and virtual forum for continued communication between conference participants and others who join the movement

Conduct more research on tangential aspects of militarization and how to address them, such as U.S. military bases in Latin America

Encourage the U.S. colleagues to develop steps for demilitarizing U.S.A. version process may be coordinated with that of neighboring nations.



This invitation, created during the conference, will be sent to NGOs and women’s organizations throughout Central America:

InvItatIon to Central amerICan Women’s organIzatIons

We, the women of Central America, representing civil society, invite every sector of society, the NGOs, the governments, the social movements, the specialized institutions, and others, to give support to our proposal of demilitarization of all of Central America.

Joined in the First Conference of Women for the Abolition of Armies in Central America by 2020, we value the necessity and importance of creating a concrete proposal for the abolition of armies in Central America as part of the efforts to create peace in the world.

Therefore, we invite all involved sectors to join together in this initiative, considering the following criteria and others that you will suggest through your contribution.

We will question the models and politics – economic, social, cultural, gender – that perpetuate and strengthen violence, armament, militarization, and the abuse of power.

We will also investigate and affirm models and alternative politics that recognize and recover a culture of peace, the protection of the environment, social justice, and gender equality.

Prosperous Conversion Formula

Conference participants suggested that people in each of the CA4 Nations (Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) should establish their own formula for converting the military to civil systems, based on the AWWA formula.

a Formula For Prosperous Conversion recommended by aWWa

A nation calls for volunteers among its soldiers, 5 - 10% per year, and reinsert them into civilian life, guaranteeing equivalent salaries and benefits as in military service. The former soldiers with new skills will participate in national projects that improve the wellbeing of citizens and the economy of the nation. These projects can increase employment for other citizens. Some military forces may transform into civil service units. This conversion process may be coordinated with that of neighboring nations.

Related Activities

The conference included an exhibition of international children’s art "Imagining a World Without War," and presentations of poetry and music performances by Costa Rican children at the Ministry of Culture, during the conference.

Vijali Hamilton and Pamela Pavel conducted art for peace workshops for children and teachers at primary and high schools in San Ramon, April 26 - 27.

Vijali Hamilton conducted a "Rainbow Spiral" workshop with youth, elders, and women activists in Puerto Viejo, May 4-6.

• • •

Media Coverage

The participants in the conference have been interviewed on radio and TV stations and newspapers throughout Costa Rica,


For photos of the conference, check out the AWWA blog at:


Jewish Community Fund, Flow Fund, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Ambassade Hotel, Inochi, and many private contributors.

A World Without Armies’ Call for Support

AWWA is the only international citizens’ organization in the world that focuses on the demilitarization of nations. Your support is crucial for actualizing a world without war in a practical, step-by-step way.

Please send your tax-deductible donation to:

A World Without Armies
1520 Blake Street
Berkeley, CA 94703 U.S.A.

Phone: 1-510-931-5661 Fax: 1-510-486-8188



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