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Laying foundations for just and lasting peace: 2013 highlights

Laying foundations for just and lasting peace: 2013 highlights

Two young people at AFSC leadership weekend in Washington D.C.

What if we worked together to eliminate poverty and injustice, to establish a new vision of shared security in the world? At AFSC, we're working to make that vision a reality. Read the 2013 Annual Report to find out more. 

Photo: AFSC/Bryan Vana

War and violence are not the natural human condition. Wars begin and violence takes hold only after “we” come to see “them” as less worthy than “us”—less worthy of respect, food, shelter; less worthy of life itself. In an “us versus them” world, some people are unable to meet basic needs, while others waste precious resources protecting themselves from those they fear. In the end, no one feels secure.

AFSC sees another way to peace, grounded in the essential Quaker insight that all human beings have the light of the divine within them. Everyone—even in the most polarized environments—has a role to play in fostering justice and building peace. As Nelson Mandela said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

This insight, and this commitment, leads AFSC to work on problems at many levels. We work with victims of violence as well as those who have committed violent acts, so that both may heal. We offer young people, especially those vulnerable to violence and poverty, opportunities for leadership. We bring those experiencing oppression together with those in positions of power, recognizing that change needs to happen on many levels, among the privileged and the marginalized, if it is to succeed.

This year, AFSC and the Friends Committee on National Legislation developed a vision for shared security, a cooperative approach to foreign policy and global engagement based on the common good.

The search for shared security underpins AFSC’s work in the U.S., Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East—in some of the world’s most impoverished and violence-prone places.

While Congress debated military strikes in Syria, AFSC supported a nonviolent network of Syrians working for reconciliation and peace. As many despaired over the killing of an African-American teenager in a gated community in Florida, AFSC worked to end racial profiling and transform the systems that promote racism.

This report is a celebration of these and many other efforts, and of the courage and compassion of all those who join us in laying foundations for just and lasting peace.

Shan Cretin, General Secretary, AFSC
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A message from our general secretary

A letter from AFSC's General Secretary Shan Cretin

Two men standing in front of tree near the Africa Regional Office
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Africa: For bread and peace

AFSC’s programs in Somalia, Burundi, and Zimbabwe support those who have been affected by violence, not just in healing and rebuilding a sense of community, but in finding ways to make a decent living with dignity.

Woman and man behind a plant
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Asia: Love among neighbors

AFSC’s programs in Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), China, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) create space for people and countries alike to discover common interests and bridge a wide variety of divides. From grassroots youth movements affirming diversity to influential policy experts, we support regional leaders working for conflict prevention and peace.

Participants at a peace workshop in Haiti
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Latin America and the Caribbean: Young, resilient, and leading the way

In neighborhoods of Guatemala and Haiti where there is conflict, teenagers have a lot to cope with. They also have a lot to contribute. AFSC provides training and support to hundreds of young people who are leading efforts to make their communities more secure.

Boys play near Gaza rehabilitation center
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Middle East: Peaceful ends by peaceful means

In the Middle East, as elsewhere, peaceful ends can only be achieved by peaceful means. With AFSC’s support, youth in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory, and the U.S. are rejecting militarism, challenging the injustices that fuel conflict, and building movements for change.

Youth participants in the IHTD film festival
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United States: New frames of thinking

In 37 locations across the U.S., AFSC works with young people, communities, policymakers, and partners to promote peace, challenge inequities, transform unjust systems, and build alternatives grounded in the common good. 

Promoting AFSC’s views on immigration reform in D.C.
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Policy informed by community experience

AFSC works on many levels to build peace—with communities and with institutions that can effect systemic change. Our Office of Public Policy and Advocacy in Washington, D.C., the Quaker United Nations Office in New York, and a worldwide Dialogue and Exchange Program create opportunities for community voices to be heard by those shaping policy.

Map of Quaker Meetings with AFSC Liaisons
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Quakers and AFSC: Partners in Spirit-led action

AFSC’s Meeting/Church Liaison program provides substantive ways for Quaker congregations across the U.S. to engage with their local communities and learn from one another’s efforts. This year, the program grew to include 110 Quaker congregations.

Two young people at AFSC leadership weekend in Washington D.C.
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AFSC Annual Report 2013

Our 2013 Annual Report offers an overview of our work for lasting peace with justice from October 2012 to September 2013.