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They had to listen! Lobbying for a culture of peace at the UN
an article by Josefina Lofgren

Who would have thought that the UN could be a place where young people from non-governmental organisations could make their voices heard and their work be spoken highly of in the General Assembly?

Traditionally believed (and perhaps correctly so) to be an immovable bureaucracy where change is slow to happen, 7 young people stirred up the culture of peace debate at the United Nations in October 2005. Feeling that key countries and institutions at the UN had not understood the full extent of the global civil society movement, it was time to put the UN spotlight on the rich plethora of activities going on around the globe.

Visiting 48 Permanent Missions, meeting the President of the General Assembly and lobbying anyone who is anyone at the UN resulted in publicity, recognition and change! Specifically, the following outcomes were a direct result of two weeks of lobbying:

A General Assembly Resolution on the Culture of Peace was amended to clearly recognise the important role played by civil society and acknowledging the mid-decade report in particular.

The 2005 Mid-Decade World Civil Society Report, containing contributions from over 700 organisations in 100 countries, was submitted to the Secretary General to be published as a UN document.

Several countries made statements on behalf of youth and the mid-decade report when the culture of peace was discussed in the General Assembly on October 20th, including the lead culture of peace country Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.

The activities and results achieved are proof that the actions undertaken by individuals can have a real impact on global processes. We, the youth, are proud to be part of the global movement for a culture of peace and invite others to take initiative, inspire and be inspired and never, never, take no for an answer!

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Following the Second High Level Forum of the United Nations on the Culture of Peace, Anwarul Chowdhury, a former Under-Secretary General of the UN, had this to say about what the UN is doing for a culture of peace.  His remarks were published by the Independent European Daily Express.

Civil society worldwide has been in the forefront of the global movement for the culture of peace, working diligently and patiently at the grassroots level, he said.

"I find it is the governments and power structures which are the most persistent foot-draggers with regard to advancing the culture of peace through policy steps and action," said Chowdhury, a former U.N. under-secretary-general and currently representing civil society and the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. . .  

The United Nations, he pointed out, has shown great vision by adopting its historic, norm-setting Declaration and PoA on the Culture of Peace in 1999, but has not been organised enough in making the document a system-wide flagship effort of the world body.

"I am a believer that the world, particularly the governments, will come to realise its true value and usefulness sooner than later," Chowdhury said.

This report was posted on October 30, 2005.