Indian and Bangladeshi Law Students Study Peace Through the DPCW Curriculum

The Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW), which is drafted upon the foundation of the values stipulated in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, contains ideas to bolster the current international law for the rapidly changing world and harbors the fundamental spirit to pass onto the next generation a world without war.

Since the proclamation of the DPCW in 2016, annual commemoration of the DPCW and International Law Peace Committee meetings have been held on March 14 of each year. Through these meetings, the ILPC members have explored possible ways to make the DPCW a legally binding instrument and to implement the DPCW at a granular social level. At the 7th ILPC meeting in 2019, discussion on making a special curriculum for the DPCW took off. The main purpose of the DPCW curriculum would be to nurture students and citizens who learn about the DPCW to understand the value of the DPCW and to help them become messengers of peace who can contribute to the realization of world peace. The conclusion of the meeting was to start a summer school with law school students as audience.

The DPCW curriculum, which was completed in October 2020 by the ILPC members, is a handbook that is comprised of discussion points and questions that teachers and students can ponder and explore to think hard about the value, necessity and realization of peace. It also contains major issues in the international community in addition to the 10 articles and 38 clauses of the DPCW.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer camp took place virtually in collaboration with ‘Empowerment through Law of the Common People(ELCOP)’. The first camp was named the “DPCW Handbook Discussion Project,” which was held with the first batch of students from law schools in India and Bangladesh. Dr. Mizanur Rhaman from ELCOP and three legal experts from the organization agreed on the importance of nurturing students’ understanding of peace and human rights through these discussions.

In a pre-project webinar held on November 1, 2020, Dr. Kamal Hossain, an ILPC member, said in his congratulatory address that he “believes that most of the students who participate in this project will be able to develop interest in peace” and asked the organizers to “keep [him] updated about the progress of the project.” Dr. Masum Billah, organizer of the human rights summer camp of ELCOP, presented a detailed discussion curriculum. Dr. Mizanur Rhaman, president of ELCOP, said:

“All conflicts can be resolved through peaceful means. Without peace, there cannot be progress with human rights. That is why peace is essential. I hope that peace education will develop further through this DPCW handbook discussion project that is jointly led by HWPL and ELCOP.”

“DPCW Handbook Discussion Project” is held every other week from November 2020 to April 2021, for a total of 12 sessions. Students discuss in groups each article of the DPCW and teachers provide feedback. The first discussion was attended by 8 legal experts and 25 students from 14 law schools in India and Bangladesh, and the discussion meeting still continues. Once this project is completed, a handbook that explains the key ideas of the DPCW will be made and distributed freely to the citizens of Bangladesh. These are some of the thoughts shared by the students who participated in this project.

“According to the UN Charter and the current system of international law, there are cases when use of force is sanctioned, so they do not explicitly prohibit use of force. I believe that Article 1 of the DPCW can improve upon the limitations of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to play the role of reformulating the principles and purpose of international law.” (During discussion on Article 1 of the DPCW)

“I think that Article 4 of the DPCW can play the role of explaining international relations, defining the concept of international collaboration and setting the duty and responsibility of nations regarding coercion.” (During discussion on Article 4 of the DPCW)

“The current system of international law has clear limitations. For example, it cannot resolve divisions of one ethnic group or conflicts between territorial integrity and self-determination. However, Article 5 of the DPCW allows for achieving state sovereignty, prohibits use or threat of force and elicits dialogue and collaboration of divided countries. I believe that Article 5 of the DPCW can lead to collaboration and dialogue for divided countries that are clearly ethnic states and contribute to their forming a unified government to reach state sovereignty.” (During discussion on Article 5 of the DPCW)

The DPCW handbook discussion also took place in India’s Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand University with 10 law school students and is scheduled to have a total of 11 sessions for 5 months. This curriculum will be held in other countries including Afghanistan, Tunisia and Romania. HWPL hopes to realize a world of peace together with law schools students all around the world who will become messengers of peace through the DPCW curriculum.