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GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

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Briefing at UN: Determined to Save Succeeding Generations from the Scourge of War
an article by September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

DPI/NGO Relations with the kind sponsorship of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations invite you to the Briefing “Determined to Save Succeeding Generations from the Scourge of War”



click on photo to enlarge

The Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations begins with the words “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” These opening words continue to serve as a reminder that the UN itself was created to help prevent war, and of the ruin that war can bring upon the world.

Since the UN’s creation, the international community has not seen a conflict with the same level of globally widespread catastrophe as the Second World War, which motivated governments toward its creation. Unfortunately, the “scourge of war” has not disappeared. Now, nearly 70 years after the Charter’s signing, ongoing violent conflicts continue to inflict unimaginable suffering around the world. Some, like the current crisis in Syria, resulting in over 70,000 deaths so far, have no end in sight.

Although not every part of the world directly experiences widespread violent conflict, the implications of militarization touch every corner of the global village. Over $1.7 trillion is spent globally on armaments, making up about 2.5 percent of the world’s GDP. Figures like these have prompted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stress several times that “the world is over-armed and peace is underfunded.”

This Briefing will bring together a diverse and high-level panel to discuss the role of war in recent human history and how far humanity has advanced in limiting the scourge of war, particularly since the signing of the UN Charter. The Briefing will highlight various aspects of this topic, including the idea that peace comes through strength, the questioning of increasing militarism in society, and the view that the institution of war should be abolished, just as institutions of slavery, colonialism; apartheid and the prohibition of women from voting have been eliminated.

OPENING REMARKS: H.E. Mr. Paul Seger, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Nations

PANEL: Ms. Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Chair, Nobel Women’s Initiative
Mr. Ralph Zacklin, Former United Nations Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, 1998-2005
Ms. Nounou Booto Meeti, Programme Manager, Centre for Peace, Security and Armed Violence Prevention

Date: Thursday, 6 June 2013 - Time: 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. - Location: ECOSOC Chamber, Conference Building, United Nations Headquarters

NOTE: This Briefing will be webcast live at webtv.un.org. You can post questions and comments during the session on our Facebook (facebook.com/UNDPINGOsPartners4Change) or Twitter hashtag (#DPINGO).

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Can the UN help move the world toward a culture of peace?,

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The following comes from my blog of October 2012

The United Nations and the Culture of Peace

My ten years working in the United Nations system left me with a sweet and sour taste: the sweet side was the universality of the UN, both its staff and mandate, and its great significance for raising the consciousness of the peoples of the world; the sour side was the jealousy of the Member States who make sure that the UN does not encroach on their freedom to rule over their own citizens, as well as people in other countries that they may dominate through neo-colonial relations. This became crystal-clear to me when the United States delegate, during the informal meetings of the UN General Assembly in 1999, opposed the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, saying that it would make it more difficult for them to start a war. In fact, throughout history, war (call it “defense” if you prefer) has always been the most fundamental “right” of the state

With this in mind, I have been pleasantly surprised by the extent to which the UN system has once again taken up the culture of peace as a priority, as shown in this month's CPNN bulletin, just as it was a priority in the Year 2000 when I was the director of the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace

Of course, this does not happen by chance, and great credit belongs to two men who played key roles for the Year 2000, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, who made the culture of peace a priority of UNESCO, and Anwarul Chowdhury, who played the role of midwife at the UN General Assembly, guiding the culture of peace resolution through nine months of opposition by the powerful states. Once again, this last month, these two men motivated and spoke eloquently at the High Level Forum on a Culture of Peace at the UN

As always it was the countries of the South who supported the initiative (see the CPNN article of September 24 and its discussion), but at least this month it was not blocked by the powerful states

In fact, it is my impression that the powerful states pay less and less attention to the United Nations. When there was a financial crisis a few years ago, the powerful states did not turn to the UN agencies , the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but set up their own temporary system of finance ministers, and when it came time for the review of nuclear non-proliferation, President Obama held his own meeting with heads of state in Washington and ignored the UN conference where the only head of state to speak was that of Iran. And the US has pulled out of UNESCO entirely, forcing drastic cuts in its budget

In fact, the lack of attention by the powerful states may provide the UN system with an opportunity to push the agenda of the culture of peace without their opposition - let us hope that the UN can take advantage of this

Of course, in the long run, the UN, or any other institution, cannot mandate a culture of peace; instead, the culture of peace can only grow from the consciousness, both understanding and action, of the peoples of the world (see last month’s blog below). That’s why the role of the UN for consciousnes-raising is ultimately its greatest contribution!


This report was posted on June 3, 2013.