Tag Archives: global

Historic day in the campaign to beat plastic pollution: Nations commit to develop a legally binding agreement

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from the United Nations Environment Program

Nairobi, 02 March 2022 – Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) today in Nairobi to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.


Scene from video of UNEP meeting

“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said the President of UNEA-5 and Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, Espen Barth Eide. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.” 

The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various nations, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024. It is expected to present a legally binding instrument, which would reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will convene a forum by the end of 2022 that is open to all stakeholders in conjunction with the first session of the INC, to share knowledge and best practices in different parts of the world. It will facilitate open discussions and ensure they are informed by science, reporting on progress throughout the next two years. Finally, upon completion of the INC’s work, UNEP will convene a diplomatic conference to adopt its outcome and open it for signatures.

“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“Let it be clear that the INC’s mandate does not grant any stakeholder a two-year pause. In parallel to negotiations over an international binding agreement, UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy,” Andersen added.

Plastic production soared from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at US$522.6 billion, and it is expected to double in capacity by 2040. The impacts of plastic production and pollution on the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution are a catastrophe in the making:

Exposure to plastics can harm human health, potentially affecting fertility, hormonal, metabolic and neurological activity , and open burning of plastics contributes to air pollution .

By 2050 greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use and disposal would account for 15 per cent of allowed emissions, under the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (34.7°F).

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(Click here for the article in French or here for the article in Spanish

Question for this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can’t we agree to preserve the planet?

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More than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by this pollution through ingestion, entanglement, and other dangers.

Some 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow annually into oceans. This may triple by 2040.

A shift to a circular economy can reduce the volume of plastics entering oceans by over 80 per cent by 2040; reduce virgin plastic production by 55 per cent; save governments US$70 billion by 2040; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent; and create 700,000 additional jobs – mainly in the global south.

The historic resolution, titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument” was adopted with the conclusion of the three-day UNEA-5.2  meeting, attended by more than 3,400 in-person and 1,500 online participants from 175 UN Member States, including 79 ministers and 17 high-level officials.

The Assembly will be followed by “UNEP@50,” a two-day Special Session of the Assembly marking UNEP’s 50th anniversary where Member States are expected to address how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Quote from the Government of Japan: “The resolution will clearly take us towards a future with no plastic pollution, including in the marine environment,” said Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Japan’s Environment Minister, whose draft resolution contributed to the final resolution. “United, we can make it happen. Together, let us go forward as we start the negotiations towards a better future with no plastic pollution.”

Quote from the Government of Peru: “We appreciate the support received from the various countries during this negotiation process,” said Modesto Montoya, Peru’s Minister of Environment, whose draft resolution, proposed with the Government of Rwanda, contributed to the final resolution. “Peru will promote a new agreement that prevents and reduces plastic pollution, promotes a circular economy and addresses the full life cycle of plastics.”

Quote from the Government of Rwanda: “The world has come together act against plastic pollution – a serious threat to our planet. International partnerships will be crucial in tackling a problem that affects all of us, and the progress made at UNEA reflects this spirit of collaboration,” said Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment. “We look forward to working with the INC and are optimistic about the opportunity to create a legally binding treaty as a framework for national ambition-setting, monitoring, investment, and knowledge transfer to end plastic pollution.”

The full text of the adopted resolution

UNEP@50: A time to reflect on the past and envision the future

The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, was the first-ever UN conference with the word “environment” in its title. The creation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was one of the most visible outcomes of this conference of many firsts. UNEP was created quite simply to be the environmental conscience of the UN and the world. Activities taking place through 2022 will look at significant progress made as well as what’s ahead in decades to come.

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP )

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

For more information, please contact:

Keisha Rukikaire, Head of News & Media, UN Environment Programme – rukikaire@un.org/


Moses Osani, Media Officer, UN Environment Programme – moses.osani@un.org/
 

Abolition 2000 Member organizations oppose Russian invasion of Ukraine

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from Abolition 2000

Many Abolition 2000 Member organizations and networks have released statements opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Included below are links to some of these. A number of the statements have highlighted that the invasion is not only an act of aggression that violates the rights of Ukraine and is inflicting suffering on its people, but also that it threatens to expand to regional war, increases nuclear tensions and raises the risk of nuclear war by accident, crisis escalation or miscalculation.


Photo: Volodymyr Melnyk – Ukraine 123RF

There were also many statements released by Abolition 2000 members prior to the invasion (not included here) calling for diplomacy to resolve the conflict and prevent an outbreak of war. And there are many statements opposing the war by Russian civil society organizations, as well as from the main opposition party in Russia Yabloko party), municipal legislators, musicians, internationally recognized filmmakers, TV hosts, actors, sportspeople, and businesspeople. Click here to see a collection of these in Russian and English.

And there is an international appeal which everyone is invited to endorse Do NOT use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict ; which was launched by Tadatoshi Akiba, former Mayor of Hiroshima and fromer President of Mayors for Peace, an affiliated network of Abolition 2000.

International organizations/networks

Youth Fusion (Youth Network of Abolition 2000): Youth Fusion’s statement on the current situation in Ukraine.
Condemns Russia’s military attack, notes increased nuclear tensions from Putin’s nuclear-capable missile test, and reminds the P5 of their statement that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’

IALANA: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: An Illegal War of Aggression
Highlights that Russia’s invasion is an illegal act of aggression, that leaders of an aggressor state may be individually responsible for the crime of aggression which is one of the core crimes set out in the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, and that Putin’s thinly veiled references to resort to nuclear weapons should other states intervene militarily are unlawful threats of force under the UN Charter and according to the 1996 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on nuclear weapons.

World Future Council. World Future Council condemns acts of aggression and calls for restoration of peace and international law

Condemns Russian invasion as illegal, highlights that President Putin has committed a Crime Against Peace for which he is personally accountable as Head of State, calls for non-military means to reverse the aggression as outlined in Articles 33-41 of the UN Charter, warns of the risk of regional war and nuclear war, and supports Russians, Ukrainians and others opposing the war and calling for peace.

World Federalist Movement: Statement on Ukraine.
Calls for adherence to international law as underscored in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter and to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians.

United Religions Initiative. A Reflection on Ukraine from United Religions Initiative

Expresses concern for the he Ukrainian people, the Russian people – their families, their children, and their communities, noting that war hurts all people, and has destructive ramifications on nature and our environment.

International Peace Bureau. IPB Statement on Ukraine
Calls for a comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of all troops and a return to the negotiating table. Notes that there is no military solution, only a political solution based on the principles of common security.

Parliamentarians for Global Action: PGA firmly condemns the aggressive war launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine

Calls the invasion an illegal war of agression by the Russian Federation which involves individual criminal responsibility of the Russian leaders, and notes that this responsibility also extends the the eladers of Belarus who are complicit in the invasion. Notes that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is applicable in the context of the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which is a continuum from the situation of unlawful occupation of Donbass and of the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea regarding which Ukraine has accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC.Calls for a range of measures whihc could be taken to address the situation.

National/regional organizations and affiliated networks

Peace Action USA. Peace Action Condemns Russia’s Invasion Into Ukraine
Calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of all troops, and a return as soon as possible to diplomatic negotiations. Calls on the US government to contribute generously to humanitarian aid programs to support displaced persons and other victims of this war.

Mayors for Peace European Section. Statement on the War in Ukraine
Urges the Russian government and perpetrators of the current escalation and territorial agression in Ukraine to put an end to hostilities, respect international law and commit to reinvigorated diplomatic efforts. Expresses solidarity with all Mayors, local governments and residents who have been suffering and will now suffer more from this war. Recalls the risk of a nuclear escalation inherent in the conflict, which would result in catastrophic humanitarian consequences not only for our shared continent but the whole world.

Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Japan Section. Statement at Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine.

Condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Putin’s threats to possibly use nuclear weapons and his actions of putting the Russian nuclear forces on high alert. The statement laments the Russian violation of the Budapest memorandum which will have serious implications for nuclear non-proliferation.

PNND Japan Statement (English, Japanese).

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

How can we be sure to get news about peace demonstrations?

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People for Nuclear Disarmament (Australia). Time for de-escalation not escalation as Putin puts nuclear forces on highest alert.

Notes the move by President Putin to put Russian nuclear forces on highest alert. Outlines how this might lead to nuclear war by miscalculation, malfunction, malware or further escalation. Calls on all nuclear weapon states to reduce risks of nuclear war by announcing no-first-use policies.

Gensuikyo (Japan). Letter of Protest to President Putin

Opposes the invasion as a criminal offence and against the UN Charter. Expresses concern at Russian threats to use nuclear weapons and recalls the P5 statement that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

Peoples Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and 400 other South Korean NGOs (Republic of Korea). Stop the War in Ukraine! Give Peace a Chance!
Calls on Russia to stop the war and withdraw its troops. Calls on the international community to provide humanitarian support for Ukraine. Notes that all countries, including Russia and Ukraine, have interests related to security assurance, but that these interests should be achieved only by peaceful means and through diplomacy.

Project Ploughshares (Canada). Statement on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Calls for an immediate cease to Russian military operations in Ukraine, the unequivocally rejection by all nuclear-armed states of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, pursuit of diplomatic solutions, and the provision of humanitarian assistance by the international community.

Pax Christi USA. Statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
States that the invasion of Ukraine is a direct violation of international law, and that war is always a defeat for humanity. Expresses concern about the implied threat of the use of nuclear weapons in the conflict. Calls on the U.S. Catholic community to refuse to beat the drums of war and to not support efforts to justify U.S. or NATO military action nor increase the flow of arms into the conflict. Announces Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Ukraine on March 2.

DFG-VK (German Peace Society). DFG-VK Press release Feb 24, 2022
Calls on all countries to reject Russia’s breach of international law, and the outlawing and prohibition of wars of aggression worldwide and legal consequences for those responsible. Expresses concerns at Putin’s threats to those trying to stop him that he could respond with « the likes of which have never been seen in history »;.

United Nations Association of New Zealand. UNANZ condemns Russian acts of aggression and calls for restoration of peace and international law.
Supports UN Secretary-General’s assessment that the Russian invasion “…is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable. But it is not irreversible.” Calls on the United Nations and the international community to use all non-military means possible, particularly those outlined in Articles 33 – 41 of the UN Charter, to contain and reverse the invasion of Ukraine, and to hold President Putin criminally responsible for the act of aggression (Crime Against Peace), along with other Russian officials who are complicit.

Peace Pledge Union (UK). Peace Pledge Union condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine
Expresses solidarity with peace activists in Russiawho are challenging the actions of the Russian government and armed forces, and concern that many of them have arrested as a result. Applauds any Russian soldiers who refuse to obey orders. Affirms that militarism and war cannot be defeated with more militarism and war.

Western States Legal Foundation (USA). The Peace Movement and the Ukraine War: Where to Now?
Analyzes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an illegal war of aggression. Calls for immediate and unconditional negotiations to end hostilities. Discusses what the war has revealed about the realities of nuclear arsenals and their uses. To address the deeper issues, calls for a global peace movement aligned with no states. Emphasizes the need to develop a better understanding of the root causes of resurgent authoritarian nationalisms, arms racing, and war.

European No to War – No to NATO network. No to nuclear war
Condemns the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, calls for the bombing to stop immediately, the withdrawal of all troops and a return to the negotiating table. Promotes common security based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, and an end to NATO enlargement.

Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (India). Statement on Ukraine
Calls for an immediate end to the invasion and for wide-ranging peace talks covering all the relevant issues—including security guarantees for the Russian Federation, the freedom and rights of the people of Ukraine which includes the legitimate concerns of the Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine. Expresses concerns about the threats of nuclear weapons use, and about radiation from Chernobyl and possible military damage to other nuclear reactors in Ukraine.

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. VOW Statement on Ukraine
VOW condemns all acts of war and military aggression in Ukraine and denounces any threats to use nuclear weapons. VOW urgently calls for a comprehensive ceasefire in the region, for the Government of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to immediately demilitarize and de-escalate the conflict, and to resume multilateral diplomatic negotiations based on the United Nations Charter in order to ensure lasting peace and security in Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern Europe

Quaker Peace and Service (UK). Quakers in Britain condemn attack and call for end to fighting
Condemns the Russian invasion and calls for a cessation of fighting and for all parties to observe international law, including international humanitarian law. Calls for humanitarian corridors allowing civilians to flee the fighting, and for efforts to engage in dialogue and preparing the ground for the return of people to their homes.

Mouvement de la Paix (France). Le Mouvement de la Paix condamne fermement les actes de guerre de la Russie
Condemns Russia’s acts of war and calls for action to say no to war. Calls for non-violent, political, diplomatic and negotiated solutions in the spirit of the United Nations Charter. Urges reduction in arms spending and elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Promotes common security framework in Europe as envisaged by the OSCE.

Canadian Pugwash Group (Canada). Canadian Pugwash Group Condemns the Russian Attack on Ukraine
Calls on the Russian Federation to cease all hostilities and to withdraw all its forces from the territory of Ukraine. Encourages all European countries through the OSCE to further refine a European security architecture based on the renunciation of force and resolution of disputes exclusively through peaceful means. Expresses deep concern about the indirect threat of the use of nuclear weapons invoked by the Russian President and strongly affirms that nuclear weapons should have no place in international security.

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (USA). On the Invasion of Ukraine
Condemns the invasion of Ukraine. Holds hope that Russia will not succeed and that the wishes of Ukrainian people for peace and freedom will prevail. Includes information on ways people can give humanitatian support as well as solidarity and political support to Ukrainians in their opposition to the war.

Puerto Rico : Educate for a Culture of Peace

. EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

An opinion piece by Dra. Matilde García Arroyo and Hilda E. Quintana in
El Vocero de Puerto Rico

In the past week we have seen many messages on social networks about the value and importance of peace. There are two messages that have impacted us and motivated us to write again about the urgent need to educate for peace. We want to share these two messages, since they invite us to reflect not only on the war in Ukraine, but on the many other wars that are taking place in the world, some not necessarily with war tanks, missiles and bullets.

One of the messages is a quote from Maria Montessori: “Everyone talks about peace, but nobody educates for peace, people educate for competition and this is the beginning of any war. When we educate to cooperate and be in solidarity with each other, that day we will be educating for peace”.

When we read the words of Montessori, we think about whether it will be possible for educational systems to begin to be modified so that we leave behind so much competition and the desire to be better than “the other”. This is not only happening among children and youth, as we see it among teachers and administrators as well. There is always that need to destroy the “other” or overshadow it so that we see ourselves better and more powerful. Do you agree with us? We leave that question for you to reflect on the quote from this great educator.

In addition, a few days later we came across a quote from Malala Yousafzai, who was shot at close range by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan on October 9, 2012. This attack was in retaliation for her courageous activism for of the education of all children, and especially for that of the girls of the world who do not enjoy the same rights to education as boys. Today she is still very active fighting for peace and education.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Question related to this article:
 
What is the best way to teach peace to children?

What is the relation between peace and education?

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These are her words that circulate through the networks these days: “If you want to end the war with another war, peace will never be achieved. The money spent on tanks, weapons and soldiers should be spent on books, pencils, schools and teachers.

Don’t you think that Malala speaks a great truth? However, today it seems that many people, not just politicians, prefer war. We see it in messages everywhere, where it is stated that “this new war” can be ended in a very simple way: by attacking the invading country. Could it be that those who are in favor of ending the war with another war do not think about the consequences of that action?

The claims for peace of many citizens in the world make us reflect on what we have failed. We fear that much begins in our homes, where competition is promoted and “you take off so I can put on” and that same message continues at school, as Montessori says. Therefore, it is imperative that we begin to reflect on our attitudes and visions about education at home and at school. We, as educators, are concerned about the role that teachers play in developing a culture of peace.

Let us remember that in 1997 the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization (UN) proclaimed the year 2000 as the Year of the Culture of Peace (MANIFESTO 2000 FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE, Encuentros-multidisciplinares.org) . To celebrate such an important occasion, a group of Nobel Prize winners drafted a manifesto that contains a series of key principles with which it is necessary for every citizen to commit himself in daily life, in the family, at work, the community, the country and the region to achieve a culture of peace. We highlight the following:

1. Practice active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economic and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents.

2. Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others.

UN Women: International Women’s Day celebrates the contribution of women and girls as climate solution multipliers

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

A press release from UN Women

Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day (8 March), “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, explores the ways in which women and girls are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response around the world, contributing powerful leaders and change-makers to a more sustainable future for all. 

During the International Women’s Day official UN Observance, Secretary-General António Guterres emphasizes the important role of  women and girls in fighting climate change. “We need more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers. They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world. We cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality.”

Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources, which climate change threatens the most. However, despite increasing evidence, there is still hesitancy in making the vital connections between gender, social equity and climate change. At the same time, progress made towards a more gender-equal world is being obstructed by multiple, interlocking and compounding crises, most recently, the ongoing aggression against Ukraine. Whatever the crisis, from conflict to climate, women and girls are affected first and worst. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.

“We have seen the impact of COVID-19 in increasing inequalities, driving poverty and violence against women and girls; and rolling back their progress in employment, health and education.  The accelerating crises of climate change and environmental degradation are disproportionately undermining the rights and wellbeing of women and girls”, said UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous. “We have today the opportunity to put women and girls at the centre of our planning and action and to integrate gender perspectives into global and national laws and policies.  We have the opportunity to re-think, re-frame and re-allocate resources. We have the opportunity to benefit from the leadership of women and girls environmental defenders and climate activists to guide our planet’s conservation. Climate change is a threat multiplier. But women, and especially young women, are solution multipliers”.

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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As exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic and social fallout impacted women and girls disproportionately, further challenging their ability to withstand the impacts of the climate and environment crises. The pressures of juggling work and family, coupled with school closures and job losses in female-dominated sectors meant even fewer women were participating in the workforce, with about 113 million women aged 25–54, with partners and small children, out of the workforce in 2020. 

Climate change also drives increased vulnerability to gender-based violence. Across the world, women bear a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, water and fuel, tasks that climate change makes more time-consuming and difficult. Scarcity of resources and the necessity of traveling further to obtain them may open women up to more violence including increased risk factors linked to human trafficking, child marriage or access to resources to protect them from gender-based violence.  

Women and girls are taking climate and environment action at all levels, but their voice, agency, and participation are under-supported, under-resourced, under-valued and under-recognized.

Continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability is essential for sustainable development and greater gender equality. Solutions must integrate a gender perspective into climate, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes; promote and protect women environmental human rights defenders; build resilience of women and girls and their organizations; strengthen prevention, response and recovery from sexual and gender-based violence and improve; and invest in gender specific statistics and data to amplify the relationship between gender and climate. 

Commemoration events around the world

International Women’s Day commemoration events globally will include ministerial meetings, rallies, marches, media workshops, storytelling and content production, photo exhibits, celebrities’ engagements, and social media activations. 

UN Women offices will join the commemorations through a variety of events including inter-generational cross-thematic dialogs in Thailand, a virtual gallery  telling the stories of climate champions from Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Viet Nam, a regional over 110 Stock Exchanges  are hosting for the eighth consecutive year bell-ringing ceremonies to demonstrate their support for women’s rights and gender equality. In Abu Dhabi ADX Trading Hall, the ceremony was joined by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia during her official visit to UAE.

In Photoville  in New York and at the World Expo in Dubai, the United Nations Department of Peace Operations, in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and UN Women will present the photo exhibition “In Their Hands: Women Taking Ownership of Peace”. The exhibition profiles 14 women from around the world who have mediated with armed groups, participated in peace talks, advanced political solutions and advocated for women’s rights and participation. Their stories come from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Lebanon, Yemen and Colombia. The exhibit also profiles the local women photographers who took the photos, telling the story through their lenses.

Join the online conversation using the hashtag #IWD2022 and following @UN_Women.Download the social media package here, and for more news, assets and stories, visit UN Women’s editorial, In Focus:  International Women’s Day.

How the U.S. Started a Cold War with Russia and Left Ukraine to Fight It

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies in the TRANSCEND Media Service

28 Feb 2022 – The defenders of Ukraine are bravely resisting Russian aggression, shaming the rest of the world and the UN Security Council for its failure to protect them. It is an encouraging sign that the Russians and Ukrainians are holding talks in Belarus that may lead to a ceasefire. All efforts must be made to bring an end to this war before the Russian war machine kills thousands more of Ukraine’s defenders and civilians, and forces hundreds of thousands more to flee.


Photo credit: CODEPINK

But there is a more insidious reality at work beneath the surface of this classic morality play, and that is the role of the United States and NATO in setting the stage for this crisis.

President Biden has called the Russian invasion “unprovoked,” but that is far from the truth. In the four days leading up to the invasion, ceasefire monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) documented a dangerous increase in ceasefire violations in Eastern Ukraine, with 5,667 violations and 4,093 explosions.

Most were inside the de facto borders of the Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics, consistent with incoming shell-fire by Ukraine government forces. With nearly 700 OSCE ceasefire monitors on the ground, it is not credible that these were all “false flag” incidents staged by separatist forces, as U.S. and British officials claimed.

Whether the shell-fire was just another escalation in the long-running civil war or the opening salvos of a new government offensive, it was certainly a provocation. But the Russian invasion has far exceeded any proportionate action to defend the DPR and LPR from those attacks, making it disproportionate and illegal.

In the larger context though, Ukraine has become an unwitting victim and proxy in the resurgent U.S. Cold War against Russia and China, in which the United States has surrounded both countries with military forces and offensive weapons, withdrawn from a whole series of arms control treaties, and refused to negotiate resolutions to rational security concerns raised by Russia.

In December 2021, after a summit between Presidents Biden and Putin, Russia submitted a draft proposal for a new mutual security treaty between Russia and NATO, with 9 articles to be negotiated. They represented a reasonable basis for a serious exchange. The most pertinent to the crisis in Ukraine was simply to agree that NATO would not accept Ukraine as a new member, which is not on the table in the foreseeable future in any case. But the Biden administration brushed off Russia’s entire proposal as a nonstarter, not even a basis for negotiations.

So why was negotiating a mutual security treaty so unacceptable that Biden was ready to risk thousands of Ukrainian lives, although not a single American life, rather than attempt to find common ground? What does that say about the relative value that Biden and his colleagues place on American versus Ukrainian lives? And what is this strange position that the United States occupies in today’s world that permits an American president to risk so many Ukrainian lives without asking Americans to share their pain and sacrifice?

The breakdown in U.S. relations with Russia and the failure of Biden’s inflexible brinkmanship precipitated this war, and yet Biden’s policy “externalizes” all the pain and suffering so that Americans can, as another wartime president once said, “go about their business” and keep shopping. America’s European allies, who must now house hundreds of thousands of refugees and face spiraling energy prices, should be wary of falling in line behind this kind of “leadership” before they, too, end up on the front line.

At the end of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact, NATO’s Eastern European counterpart, was dissolved, and NATO should have been as well, since it had achieved the purpose it was built to serve. Instead, NATO has lived on as a dangerous, out-of-control military alliance dedicated mainly to expanding its sphere of operations and justifying its own existence. It has expanded from 16 countries in 1991 to a total of 30 countries today, incorporating most of Eastern Europe, at the same time as it has committed aggression, bombings of civilians and other war crimes.

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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In 1999, NATO launched an illegal war to militarily carve out an independent Kosovo from the remnants of Yugoslavia. NATO airstrikes during the Kosovo War killed hundreds of civilians, and its leading ally in the war, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is now on trial at The Hague for the appalling war crimes he committed under the cover of NATO bombing, including cold-blooded murders of hundreds of prisoners to sell their internal organs on the international transplant market.

Far from the North Atlantic, NATO joined the United States in its 20-year war in Afghanistan, and then attacked and destroyed Libya in 2011, leaving behind a failed state, a continuing refugee crisis and violence and chaos across the region.

In 1991, as part of a Soviet agreement to accept the reunification of East and West Germany, Western leaders assured their Soviet counterparts that they would not expand NATO any closer to Russia than the border of a united Germany. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker promised that NATO would not advance “one inch” beyond the German border. The West’s broken promises are spelled out for all to see in 30 declassified documents published on the National Security Archive website.

After expanding across Eastern Europe and waging wars in Afghanistan and Libya, NATO has predictably come full circle to once again view Russia as its principal enemy. U.S. nuclear weapons are now based in five NATO countries in Europe: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey, while France and the U.K. already have their own nuclear arsenals. U.S. “missile defense” systems, which could be converted to fire offensive nuclear missiles, are based in Poland and Romania, including at a base in Poland only 100 miles from the Russian border.

Another Russian request in its December proposal was for the United States to simply rejoin the 1988 INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), under which both sides agreed not to deploy short- or intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Trump withdrew from the treaty in 2019 on the advice of his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who also has the scalps of the 1972 ABM Treaty, the 2015 JCPOA with Iran and the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea dangling from his gun-belt.

None of this can justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the world should take Russia seriously when it says that its conditions for ending the war and returning to diplomacy are Ukrainian neutrality and disarmament. While no country can be expected to completely disarm in today’s armed-to-the-teeth world, neutrality could be a serious long-term option for Ukraine.

There are many successful precedents, like Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Finland and Costa Rica. Or take the case of Vietnam. It has a common border and serious maritime disputes with China, but Vietnam has resisted U.S. efforts to embroil it in its Cold War with China, and remains committed to its long-standing “Four Nos” policy: no military alliances; no affiliation with one country against another; no foreign military bases; and no threats or uses of force.

The world must do whatever it takes to obtain a ceasefire in Ukraine and make it stick. Maybe UN Secretary General Guterres or a UN special representative could act as a mediator, possibly with a peacekeeping role for the UN. This will not be easy – one of the still unlearned lessons of other wars is that it is easier to prevent war through serious diplomacy and a genuine commitment to peace than to end a war once it has started.

If and when there is a ceasefire, all parties must be prepared to start afresh to negotiate lasting diplomatic solutions that will allow all the people of Donbas, Ukraine, Russia, the United States and other NATO members to live in peace. Security is not a zero-sum game, and no country or group of countries can achieve lasting security by undermining the security of others.

The United States and Russia must also finally assume the responsibility that comes with stockpiling over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, and agree on a plan to start dismantling them, in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Lastly, as Americans condemn Russia’s aggression, it would be the epitome of hypocrisy to forget or ignore the many recent wars in which the United States and its allies have been the aggressors: in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Palestine, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

We sincerely hope that Russia will end its illegal, brutal invasion of Ukraine long before it commits a fraction of the massive killing and destruction that the United States has committed in its illegal wars.
__________________________________________

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
 
Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

United Nations : Commission on the Status of Women 2022

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An announcement from UN Women

The sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place from 14 to 25 March 2022. Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, CSW66 will take place in a hybrid format. All side events and parallel events will be fully virtual.

Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world are invited to contribute to the session.

Themes

Priority theme: Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes;

Review theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work (agreed conclusions of the sixty-first session);

Bureau

The Bureau of the Commission plays a crucial role in facilitating the preparation for, and in ensuring the successful outcome of the annual sessions of the Commission. Bureau members serve for two years. In 2002, in order to improve its work and ensure continuity, the Commission decided to hold the first meeting of its subsequent session, immediately following the closure of the regular session, for the sole purpose of electing the new Chairperson and other members of the Bureau (ECOSOC decision 2002/234).

The Bureau for the 66th session (2022) of the Commission on the Status of Women comprises the following members:

° H.E. Ms. Mathu Joyini (South Africa), Chair (African States Group)

° Ms. Pilar Eugenio (Argentina), Vice-Chair (Latin American and Caribbean States Group)

° H.E. Ms. Antje Leendertse (Germany), Vice-Chair designate (Western European and Other States Group)

° Mr. Māris Burbergs (Latvia), Vice-Chair designate (Eastern European States Group)

° Ms. Hye Ryoung Song (Republic of Korea), Vice-Chair designate (Asia and Pacific States Group)

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Questions for this article
 
Does the UN advance equality for women?

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Preparations

Expert Group Meeting: Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes

Organization of the Session

The Commission’s two-weeks session includes the following activities:

Organization of Work

Side Events

All side events will take place virtually. Information about side events and activities organized outside of the formal programme of the session

Session Outcomes

The outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the priority theme during its 66th session will take the form of agreed conclusions, to be negotiated by all Member States.

CSW66 Draft Agreed Conclusions

The Commission will review, as appropriate, its methods of work, taking into consideration the outcome of the process of alignment of the agendas of the GA and ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, with a view to further enhancing the impact of the work of the Commission.The Commission will make a recommendation on how best to utilize the year 2025, on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

NGO Participation

Overview

Eligibility

Arrangements

Opportunities for NGOs to address the Commission

Chinese-Russian Text on Constructing a Community of Common Destiny for Mankind – A Crucial Peacebuilding Approach

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by René Wadlow in the Transcend Media Service

The presence of the Russian President to the start of the Winter Olympics led to an important Joint Statement which goes well beyond a press statement usual after bilateral meetings. Thus the Joint Statement must have been in preparation for some time and stresses current proposals of the two States. Thus it merits close attention. The Joint Statement highlights the concept of the community of common destiny for mankind:


Putin and Xi Jinping in Pekin

“The Russian side notes the significance of the concept of constructing a community of common destiny for mankind proposed by the Chinese side to ensure greater solidarity of the international community and consolidation of efforts in responding to common challenges.”

The Joint Statement sets out the political framework for its proposals.

“Today, the world is going through momentous changes, and humanity is entering a new era of rapid development and profound transformation. It sees the development of such processes and phenomena as multipolarity, economic globalization, the advent of information society, cultural diversity, transformation of the global governance architecture and world order. There is increasing interrelation and interdependence between States; a trend has emerged towards redistribution of power in the world; and the international community is showing a growing demand for the leadership aiming at peaceful and gradual development.”

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Question related to this article:
 
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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The United Nations is to play a central role in this effort. The Joint Statement goes on to call

“to protect the United Nations – driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world …The Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set noble goals in the area of universal human rights, set forth fundamental principles, which all the States must comply with and observe in deeds…Interaction and cooperation on human rights matters should be based on the principle of equality of all countries and mutual respect for the sake of strengthening the international human rights architecture.”

Economic development is stressed.

“ In order to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we call on the international community to take practical steps in key areas of cooperation such as poverty reduction, food security, vaccines and epidemics control, sustainable development, including green development, industrialization, digital economy and infrastructure connectivity.”

Given current world tensions and the possibility of armed conflicts, the Joint Statement stresses that

“The international community should actively engage in global governance to ensure universal, comprehensive, indivisible and lasting security.”

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Full text of the Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China  on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development of 4 Feb 2022

The Pope : “The time has come to live in a spirit of fraternity and build a culture of peace”

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Carol Glatz of the Catholic News Service published by Catholic Philly

The time has come to live in a spirit of fraternity and build a culture of peace, sustainable development, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity, Pope Francis said.


Frame from video of the Pope’s message

“Now is not a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters or everything falls apart,” he said in a video message marking the International Day of Human Fraternity Feb. 4.

The international celebration is a U.N.-declared observation to promote interreligious dialogue and friendship on the anniversary of the document on human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt.

The pope, the sheikh and U.S. President Joe Biden all issued messages for the commemoration.

“Fraternity is one of the fundamental and universal values that ought to undergird relationships between peoples, so that the suffering or disadvantaged do not feel excluded and forgotten but accepted and supported as part of the one human family. We are brothers and sisters,” the pope said in Italian in his video message.

People must walk together, aware that, “while respecting our individual cultures and traditions, we are called to build fraternity as a bulwark against hatred, violence and injustice,” he said.

“All of us must work to promote a culture of peace that encourages sustainable development, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity,” he said.

People of different faiths all have a role to play, he said, because “in the name of God, we who are his creatures must acknowledge that we are brothers and sisters.”

And all of humanity lives “under the same heaven,” so believers in God and all people of goodwill should journey together, he added.

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(Click here for a French article on this subject and here for a Spanish article.)

Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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“Do not leave it to tomorrow or an uncertain future,” he said. “This is a good day to extend a hand, to celebrate our unity in diversity — unity, not uniformity, unity in diversity — in order to say to the communities and societies in which we live that the time of fraternity has arrived.”

“The path of fraternity is long and challenging, it is a difficult path, yet it is the anchor of salvation for humanity,” the pope said. “Let us counter the many threatening signs, times of darkness and mindsets of conflict with the sign of fraternity that, in accepting others and respecting their identity, invites them to a shared journey.”

The pope encouraged everyone to dedicate themselves to “the cause of peace and to respond concretely to the problems and needs of the least, the poor and the defenseless. Our resolve is to walk side by side, ‘brothers and sisters all,’ in order to be effective artisans of peace and justice, in the harmony of differences and with respect for the identity of each.”

In his video message, Sheikh el-Tayeb said, “This celebration means a quest for a better world where the spirit of tolerance, fraternity, solidarity and collaboration prevails. It also indicates a hope for providing effective tools to face the crises and challenges of contemporary humanity.”

“We have embarked on this path in the hope for a new world that is free of wars and conflicts, where the fearful are reassured, the poor sustained, the vulnerable protected and justice administered,” he said.

In Biden’s written statement commemorating the day, he encouraged everyone to work together to overcome the global challenges that no one nation or group of people can solve on their own.

“For too long, the narrowed view that our shared prosperity is a zero-sum game has festered — the view that for one person to succeed, another has to fail,” he wrote. “This cramped idea has been a source of human conflict for centuries.”

Problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and increased violence, “require global cooperation from people of all backgrounds, cultures, faiths and beliefs. They require us to speak with one another in open dialogue to promote tolerance, inclusion and understanding,” and to guarantee that “all people are treated with dignity and as full participants in society,” he wrote.

“On this day, we affirm — in words and in actions — the inherent humanity that unites us all,” the president wrote. “Together, we have a real opportunity to build a better world that upholds universal human rights, lifts every human being and advances peace and security for all.”

Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and member of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, said in a statement that the day “is an opportunity to advance the sense of responsibility toward the poor, vulnerable, homeless and oppressed.”

“I hope human fraternity will turn into a global movement of promoting moral values shared by all peoples from all walks of life,” the cardinal said.

UN chief calls for Olympic Truce to build ‘culture of peace’ through sport

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from the United Nations

Secretary-General António Guterres is urging the world to “build a culture of peace” through the power of sport, calling for nations to observe the Olympic Truce, endorsed last week through a resolution of the UN General Assembly.  


OC/Milos Bicanski Beijing 2022 – Handover Ceremony of the Olympic Flame in Athens, Greece.

Amidst spreading conflict and rising tensions, he reminded that the appeal calls on all parties to observe a ceasefire throughout the course of the upcoming winter games.

‘A date with history’

In the spirit of “mutual understanding, hard work and fair play”, the top UN official noted that athletes competing from around the world “have a date with history”.

“In a few days, our human family will come together in Beijing for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games”, the UN chief said in his message encouraging everyone to strive for the Olympic ideal.

“This spirit inspires us all”, he said.

Beyond sports

Mr. Guterres said that the Olympic Truce represents “a chance to overcome differences and find paths towards lasting peace”.

As the world strives to end the COVID-19 pandemic, he urged everyone to “unite for a safer, more prosperous and sustainable future for all”.

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(Click here for the message in Spanish and here for the message in French.

Question for this article:

How can sports promote peace?

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During a recent press conference, he lauded  the game Games as being “an extremely important manifestation in today’s world of the possibility of unity”, mutual respect, and cooperation between different cultures, religions and ethnicities.

Above political dispute

The Olympic Truce has a 3,000-year-old history, dating from when the Ancient Greeks established the sacred truce of Ekecheiria to allow the participation in the Olympic Games of all athletes and spectators from the Greek city states, which were otherwise almost constantly engaged in conflict with one other.

General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid appealed  to all Member States to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic Truce and to undertake “concrete actions at the local, national, regional and world levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace and harmony”.

“I also call upon all warring parties of current armed conflicts around the world to boldly agree to true mutual ceasefires for the duration of the Olympic Truce, thus providing an opportunity to settle disputes peacefully”, he added.

Remaining neutral

UN resolution 76/13, entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”, was co-sponsored by 173 UN Member States and adopted by consensus.

It called for the observance of a truce during the 2022 Beijing games, beginning seven days before the start of the Olympic games, on 4 February, until seven days after the end of the Paralympics.

It also encouraged all Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in using sport as “a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

IOC President Thomas Bach described  the resolution as “a great recognition” of the Games’ mission “to unite the best athletes of the world in peaceful competition and standing above any political dispute”.

“This is only possible if the Olympic Games are politically neutral and do not become a tool to achieve political goals”, he spelled out. 

Youth Survey Report : Youth Knowledge & Interest in Peace Education

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

A survey by the Global Campaign for Peace Education

In April 2021, the Global Campaign for Peace Education (GCPE) conducted a youth-focused survey to better understand awareness of and interest in peace and social justice education among high-school and college-age youth. This report is the result of the Global Campaign’s findings and analysis. Ultimately, GCPE hopes that this report will provide insight into youth awareness of and interest in peace education in an attempt to increase youth engagement.


Interest regarding social justice issues among high school students surveyed from around the world (Click on image to enlarge)

The Youth Survey on Peace and Social Justice Education was conducted by the Global Campaign for Peace Education Youth Team, composed primarily of students in the Justice and Peace Studies Program at Georgetown University. Team members include: Keaton Nara, Caelan Johnston, Maude Peters, Heather Huang, and Gabby Smiley. The report and analysis was supervised by Micaela Segal de la Garza, Program Manager, and Tony Jenkins, Coordinator of the Global Campaign for Peace Education.

The Global Campaign for Peace Education Youth Team is following up with survey respondents to explore the development of a peace education youth network.

Key findings and recommendations are reproduced below. For additional details and analysis, download the complete report.

Key Findings

In terms of existing peace education projects and programs, respondents demonstrated the highest levels of interest in violence prevention, human rights, global development, global citizenship, and gender violence.

Respondents demonstrated the least amount of awareness in meditation and restorative practices.

There was a strong interest in social justice, specifically in regard to issues of gender violence, terrorism, and racial violence, all of which were identified as significant subjects across demographic groups.

For world college-age demographics – both enrolled and not enrolled in peace studies programs – political polarization was the top-rated subject for interest in social justice projects and programs.

Questions for this article:

How can we promote a human rights, peace based education?

In gauging interest in youth-focused training, the survey found that respondents demonstrated, on average, the highest level of interest in creative outlets (i.e. opportunities to bring in new ideas through creative expression)

Recommendations

The majority of respondents, regardless of age, location, or enrollment in peace studies programs, learned about peace education programs and projects outside of school. There is a distinct lack of formal peace education in schools despite marked interest.
Recommendation: Support the development of peace education opportunities in schools that address students’ interests; capacitate students with skills so they may advocate for peace education programming (something respondents showed strong interest in).

Peace education is inherently community-driven, and it is precisely that communal aspect that youth seem to be most interested in.

Recommendation: Create clubs in schools that educate students about peace education and simultaneously create a space to forge community ties; bring peace education to community centers; provide peace education after-school programs.

Providing opportunities for youth to be active participants in their education is of the utmost importance.

Recommendation: Peace education programming and content should be derived from and designed to meet students’ social justice interests and not just the interests of teachers/faculty.

Social media platforms are incredibly important for youth programming and community engagement. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and newsletters emerged as the most used tools among respondents.

Recommendation: Create social media platforms that engage youth; create posts that appeal to the specific topics within peace education that they express interest in; respondents demonstrated, on average, the highest level of interest in creative outlets for youth-focused training, and social media is an excellent medium for this.

Many respondents demonstrated interest in a new youth focused network, though enrollment in a peace studies program generally indicates a higher level of interest.

Recommendation: Develop a new youth focused network for those who are interested to become involved and make connections with one another.

Peace Education Advocacy

The GCPE has a particular interest in students being able to advocate for their own curriculum and education. Youth inclusion in decision making is of the utmost importance, which is why respondents were asked about their interest in learning skills to advocate for peace education in their schools and communities. In general, respondents demonstrated high levels of interest in learning peace education advocacy skills with the average response across groups being 3.6 with 5 being the highest level of interest. These trends are demonstrated in the graph (see original article).