September 21st: International Day of Peace

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In just over two weeks people around the world will celebrate the International Day of Peace, also known as World Peace Day

September 21th is the annual day declared by the General Assembly, devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The International Day of Peace is a global observance and nations around the world are invited to honour a cessation of hostilities during the day.

International Day of Peace 2014

2014 is a special year that marks the 30th anniversary of the General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace (Nov 12th, 1984).   The Declaration recognizes that the promotion of peace is vital for the full enjoyment of all human rights and the theme of this year’s International Day of Peace is the “Right of Peoples to Peace”.

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Also, this anniversary offers a unique opportunity to reaffirm the United Nations commitment to the purposes and principles upon which the Organization was founded.  By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged people to work in cooperation for this goal. Since the first year it was celebrated (1982), the World Peace Day has grown to include millions of people worldwide and many events are organized each year to commemorate this day.

Recognize the power of women peacebuilders

One of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is particularly important to support the efforts to build a peaceful world:  Goal #3, dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

In many countries, gender inequality persists and women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government.

On September 3rd 2014, the UN Peacebuilding Commission held a session entitled “Women, Everyday Peacebuilders”. During the event, Liberian Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and keynote speaker,  stressed the role of women in peacebuilding:women across the world have been tested and proven worthy of building peace at the local level and in some cases the national levels.”  Also UN Women Deputy Executive Director John Hendra highlighted the fact that women peacebuilders bridge the local-national divide and come up with innovative solutions to conflict due to their expertise, knowledge and legitimacy.

If our readers from Vancouver area are interested to go deeper into this topic, we remember that this week the UNA Vancouver will hold the conference “Inequality and Rights: A Feminist Perspective” at Simon Fraser University, where academics and members of the broader community will talk about issues of diversity, persistent inequality, and social justice.

The United Nations invites all people in the world to honour a cessation of hostilities during September 21st, and to commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

For updates, ideas and events related to Peace Day and to support the cause, you can follow on social media the hashtag #peaceday.

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Post written by UNAC-Vancouver website writer Sabrina Miso.

Without peace there can be no development

unacto1The end of May saw the long-anticipated arrival of the UN’s high level report[1] into life post the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). For this important project, Ban Ki-Moon enlisted ‘eminent persons’, the likes of Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Sirleaf of Liberia and Cameron of the UK. Their task was to pool their collective energy and foresight to provide us with a blueprint for where we should aim to be by 2030.

‘Peace’, and all that goes with that most powerful of goals, has been placed in its rightful position as a cornerstone of the agenda for developing our global society. The report vociferously backed the concepts of peace-building, in order to afford the “fundamental human entitlements” of freedom from conflict and access to justice and legitimate governance. One of the shortfalls of the MDG’s, according to Graça Machel, who was involved in drafting the report, was they “failed to address the way conflict and insecurity undermine efforts to improve health, education and prosperity”. This was proven by Machel’s revelation that “no conflict-affected low-income country has achieved a single MDG”[2].

The timing of this positive support for peace as a key player in the agenda, as opposed to a utopian ideal, could not have been better. Outrageous crimes against humanity, most alarmingly against women and children, being carried out by both sides in Syria including now the use of chemical weapons, should be alerting the global community that the UN’s mandate to promote international peace and security needs to be strengthened at every conceivable level.

un_implementationEconomic growth is and should be a key objective of the international community and a driver of development but it will not solve many of the issues facing our society today. Of course, livelihoods improve as economies grow, but so many areas of our society are fundamentally broken, we need to stop expanding for growths’ sake and get serious about growing sustainably and equitably as one community. We must, over the next 15 years, focus our efforts on peace building, on open dialogue and frank discussions about human security. We must concentrate on ethnic minorities, food security, corruption, proliferation, energy resources, trafficking, to name a few of the varied and complex issues which need our complete attention.

The report although it has faults, is a strong start. The authors call for “a fundamental shift”. They want to “recognize peace and good governance as a core element of wellbeing, not an optional extra”.  Today, it is a folder full of targets and ideas with the real work yet to start. Implementation and continued enthusiasm that there is a better way of dealing with our differences, will be the real test. We need to merge our goals to strive for peaceful development. There will never be a time when our ideals and cultures are the same, heaven forbid that would ever be the case. This however, does not rid us of the responsibility to ensure that every human being, at the very least, lives in safety. To finish with a line from the report,

Development is impossible without peace, just as peace is impossible without development.