"Noteworthy" 2011 International Peace Day at the UN
an article by Anne Creter
Our hopes were renewed as NGO “culture of peace activists” this year at the 2011 UN observance of the International Day of Peace. It took place during the Peace Bell ceremony. Let me say more first about the Peace Bell ceremony to provide the context in which this significant “culture of peace” milestone occurred.
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Before Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon rang the iconic Peace Bell, he stressed democracy is a core value of the UN but t it does not just happen; it has to be nurtured and defended. “The world needs you to speak out – for social justice and freedom of the press, for a clean environment and women’s empowerment, for the rule of law and the right to a say in one’s own future … Democracy is among the foundations of peace. When people take part in the democratic process, when they become engaged, they build peace, day by day, year by year … On this day I urge all champions of democracy and peace throughout the world to make your voices be heard. The United Nations stands with you.”
Following the Secretary-General was President of the 66th General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz A-Nassar, (who began his term that week). He told the gathering that this year’s International Day felt particularly significant. He said: “People around the globe, including our youth, are joining together and calling for peace and justice. Historic shifts are taking place across the Arab world in the name of peace, democracy and human rights. These shifts remind us of the pressing need to seek peace peacefully and to use mediation and other tools to broker legitimate, lasting peace. We are also reminded that peace is not just the absence of war; living peacefully means having food and shelter, health care and education, freedom and dignity … This year as President of the 66th session of the General Assembly, I will work hard to further our vital mission of maintaining international peace and security … I will also emphasize the need for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, in cooperation of course with governments, the Secretary-General and civil society.”
Then he struck the Peace Bell (pictured above).
The chord he struck with the above highlighted acknowledgement resonated deeply within us. As NGO “culture of peace activists” who have worked for many years to raise awareness at the UN of the 1999 passage of this visionary UN Resolution, his remark about it was historic -- in that it is the highest official public statement made about the Culture of Peace in recent years at the UN!! We rejoice in this hopeful, historic UN moment.
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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.