Partnerships Expand Support for Service and Peace Projects in U.S. and Internationally
Established by the United Nations in 1981 in a unanimous resolution, the International Day of Peace was set aside to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace among all nations and peoples. “Since wars begin in the minds of men,” the resolution states, “it is in the minds of men that the defense of peace must be constructed.”
In 2001 the General Assembly further designated September 21 as International Day of Peace and enjoined member states, United Nations organizations, non-governmental organizations and citizens to commemorate the day “through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of the global ceasefire.”
In 2016 the Organizing Committee for the UN International Day of Peace with support from the Tomorrow Together Campaign, the Global Peace Foundation, and Service For Peace promoted a platform for other organizations around the world to link the congressionally designated September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance with the International Day of Peace and the Eleven Days of Global Unity, an initiative launched by We, The World and global partners in 2004 which begins on September 11 and concludes on September 21.
Organizers believe that linking these commemorative events can foster greater awareness and engagement among citizens, and be more effective in advancing a positive counter-narrative to messages of division and extremism that command media attention.
This year’s International Day of Peace theme, “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace,” underscores the importance of service in securing the basic welfare of all people as a precondition for advancing and sustaining peace. Projects and observances during the eleven days focused on service as a bridge across cultural differences and on the shared aspirations for peace of the entire human family.
Multimedia Advances a Message of Peace
This year, the Global Peace Foundation engaged youth from its various chapters in a video campaign leading up to International Day of Peace. The creative and energetic videos showcased the young leaders’ contributions to peacebuilding and sustainable development in their respective nations and their personal pledges to work for peace.
The videos were submitted to the United Nations International Day of Peace video campaign as well as viewed by 5,000 youth who convened at “Amazing the Space,” a special youth-driven Intentional Day of Peace event in Northern Ireland.
A week before the International Day of Peace, Global Peace Education, the education division of the Global Peace Foundation, joined with Character.org and One World to host a webinar entitled, “Creating Peaceful Schools around the World.” The webinar explored the importance of developing empathy and an understanding of shared values and aspirations and highlighted international best practices of engaging students to counter violence and conflicts in schools and the larger society. Webinar presenters included Award-Winning Author Dr. Michele Borba, Vice President, Education, Global Peace Foundation Tony Devine Ed.D, and US Education Manager, Tony Blair Faith Foundation Claire Lorentzen.
Service Volunteers Commemorate September 11 in United States
The year 2016 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Despite the searing attack that cost 3,000 innocent lives, the days and months that followed exemplified how Americans, and diverse people around the world, came together and uplifted humanity’s noble qualities of compassion, faith, resilience, service, and unity.
This year GPF USA in partnership with Service For Peace, Corporation for National and Community Services and the Compassion Games launched an 11-day campaign from September 11 to September 21, the International Day of Peace, to honor victims, their families, and first responders through programs of service. Projects were held in Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Montana.
On September 11, Global Peace Youth USA volunteers joined some 2000 volunteers in New York City and 5000 volunteers in Washington DC to prepare and distribute more than 500,000 meals to the poor and homeless.
The “Tomorrow Together” campaign, which brought together volunteers from many organizations, seeks to counter growing divisions and tensions across the country and around the world by emphasizing service and shared values.
“We owe more than division and discord to those who perished from the attacks and those who served in its aftermath. The anniversary of 9/11 should be a reminder to us all about our common humanity and the opportunity we have to help people and communities in need.”
–Jay Winuk, co-founder and executive vice-president of 9-11 Day
New York University student and 9/11 volunteer Nasrat Nezia said, “I’m glad people are trying to change the negative feelings associated with this day.” City College of New York graduate Abdul Karzai added that, “for the first time in 15 years, I have seen a light on this day of 9/11.”
GPF Brazil Hosts ‘The Path to Peace’
In commemoration of International Day of Peace, Global Peace Foundation Brazil organized a program exploring Brazil’s potential as a peacebuilding agent locally and internationally entitled, “The Path to Peace.” The program hosted at the School of Human Rights in Goiânia, drew academics, public officials, civic leaders and international peacebuilding experts to examine successful conflict resolution models with area youth and community leaders.
Human rights expert Professor José Eduardo Barbieri and Global Peace Foundation researcher Michael Marshall discussed the ongoing division of the Korean peninsula and human rights abuses in North Korea, drawing out its relevance to Brazil and the global community. Massimo Trombin, President of Global Peace Foundation Brazil, presented a mediation approach that has effectively addressed conflict and fostered community cohesion in Isiolo, Kenya.
UN SDGs Highlighted at Philippines Peace Symposium
Students were challenged to consider their personal contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and promoting peace at a Peace Symposium held at the National University in Manila, Philippines on International Day of Peace. The symposium was organized by Global Peace Foundation and Global Peace Youth Philippines in partnership with the National University’s Community Extension and NSTP Departments, ComEx Brigade, Supreme Student Government, and Council of Presidents.
Drawing on her experience resolving conflict in remote communities where she has delivered education opportunities, Global Peace Foundation Program Director for Education Ms. Ann Montejo emphasized the importance of focusing on common bonds and shared values rather than differences of nationality, religion, gender, race, and affiliation.
Referring to their respective academic concentrations, students presented creative means to contribute to the 2030 UN SDGs. Business majors generated approaches to livelihood development for small communities, engineering majors envisioned solar power options for off the grid regions, and education majors designed initiatives to provide textbooks and libraries to developing villages.
Global Peace Leadership Conference Northern Ireland Commemorates 9-11
Marking fifteen years since the events on 9-11 and honoring those who have lost their lives to violent extremism around the world, the Global Peace Foundation and Co-operation Ireland held a special commemorative banquet during the Global Peace Leadership Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland on the eve of September 11.
An interfaith invocation and candle lighting facilitated by Dr. Yehezkel Landau, Father Gary Donegan, and Imam Talib Shareef opened the event followed by a message of remembrance and resolve from International President Global Peace Foundation James P. Flynn.
5,000 Rally for Peace at Youth Convening
Global Peace Foundation branches from Kenya, Korea, Tanzania, Indonesia, Brazil, United States, Mongolia, Nepal and India sent video messages of peace, joining the voices of over 3,500 of youth from 470 schools in Northern Ireland at the “Amazing the Space” event on International Day of Peace. Hosted at the Eikon Exhibition Centre, the former grounds of a prison in Northern Ireland, another 1,500 students joined from satellite locations throughout Northern Ireland.
Organized by Co-operation Ireland and other sponsors, including the Global Peace Foundation, the event featured performances of school choirs and individual talents and a specially commissioned tree that included over 400 peace pledges from youth around the world.
“Co-operation Ireland believes that young people should be actively engaged in shaping lasting peace and contributing to justice and reconciliation locally and globally, said Peter Sheridan, CEO of Co-operation Ireland, which organized the event with support from Global Peace Foundation and other sponsors. “Amazing the Space has been led by young people, they have been part of the planning and the decision making, it would not have happened without their energy and enthusiasm.”
International Day of Peace Observed by Students, Businesses and Women Leaders in Nepal
Global Peace Foundation Nepal hosted special projects in commemoration of the International Day of Peace for the students of Bidhya Mandir Secondary School, drawing together partners including Hydropower Investment and Development Company Ltd., Swoyambu Community Learning Center and the faculty and staff of Bidhya Mandir Secondary School.
A school-wide poetry competition encouraged students to explore the theme of building peace and harmony in the family, community and country. The Swoyambu Community Learning center held special workshops for all grades focused on bringing peace through arts and craft. Students were guided by instructors from the learning center as they created works that envisioned peace and harmony.
Global Peace Women Nepal hosted a special panel discussion on International Day of Peace addressing the role of women in building peaceful families and communities. Women leaders, including psychologists, educators and local community leaders from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds discussed current challenges facing women and strategies for progress focused on the theme “Peace Begins at Home: Uplifting the innate value of Women in the Family and in the Society.”
Panel outcomes included consensus on the importance of communication and understanding of gender differences, the central role of women as mothers, daughters, and sisters in building stable families and vibrant societies, and the extended family as an effective model to promote social cohesion and sustainable development.
Kenya and Tanzania Engage Volunteers, Public Officials and Faith and Leaders on International Day of Peace
Global Peace Foundation Kenya joined with the One Nation under God Campaign and the County Government of Mombasa to commemorate the International Day of Peace. The event drew hundreds of local volunteers and families to raise awareness of the 2030 SDGs in coordination with this year’s theme, “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.” The event included a community cleanup, emphasizing the importance of local action to reach longer term goals.
On the same day, Global Peace Youth director Mr. Arthur Oyange represented the Global Peace Foundation at the third annual Kenya Peace Conference. This year’s conference focused on preventing the cycle of political violence through a participatory framework for sustainable peace beyond 2017 elections.
Faith and civic leaders, public officials and UN representatives, and university students representing the cultural and religious diversity of Tanzania convened at the capital city of Dodoma to commemorate the International Day of Peace. The event, “Building Peace: End Corruption, Preserve Peace,” placed special emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Peace Foundation Tanzania joined other organizers that included the United Nations office in Tanzania and UNDP.