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Together for Peace
by Rene Wadlow
2018-09-21 06:35:46
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The United Nations General Assembly has set 21 September as a Day of Peace.  The day was chosen to be as close as possible to the start of the annual U.N. General Assembly, which is called upon to respond to a very diversified set of challenges.  The response is usually to raise awareness of the particular issue through discussion.  However, short-term geopolitical considerations and national interest, narrowly defined, have repeatedly taken precedence over action on human suffering and grave breaches of international peace and security.

Nevertheless the goals of the United Nations are set out in the Preamble to the U.N. Charter:

            "We the Peoples of the United Nations determined
- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."

huma001_400The Preamble is not a shopping list of unrelated goals but rather the result of a wholistic vision: the abolition of war, the re-affirmation of human rights based on the dignity of the human person, the conditions under which justice and international law can be maintained, social progress in larger freedom - all are interrelated.  None can be achieved without the others.  Thus the work of the United Nations should be carried out in a wholistic spirit.

This year the emphasis of the U.N. Day of Peace is on human rights as it is the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In December 1948, the General Assembly was meeting in Paris as the U.N. did not yet have its permanent home in New York City.

The affirmation of faith in human rights requires constant effort as violations are wide spread, especially in areas where there are also armed conflicts.  There is a need to weave a tighter fabric of international norms, expanding the rule of law world wide and enabling citizens to exert their influence on global processes.

Thus, we who have a wholistic view of life and the ways that different aspects of society are inter-related are particularly called to help create a climate of peace and respect for the dignity of each person.  Some persons will feel called to work for the creation of positive attitudes through meditation and the creation of beauty through painting, writing or gardening.  Others will put their emphasis on living in harmony with Nature.  Others will work at the community level to help persons who are poor, homeless, refugees or disoriented at their stage of life.  Still others will work on the front lines to help resolve conflicts and violence through negotiations in good faith.

We need to recognize the values of all these efforts and to see them as a colorful mosaic of energies forming the ground for a society of peace and harmony.  There is an increasing number of people who recognize that we live on one planet and are one humanity.

World leadership on the promotion of human rights requires tapping into the growing strength of non-governmental organizations NGOs - now often called "civil society."  Governments can be made to initiate change when there is focused and concerted action by NGOs.  That has been the story of major changes over time. The growing equality between women and men and the growing ecological concerns provide examples.

Preparing the ground for such world-level leadership among NGO representatives is among the most important tasks we face. Leadership rarely arises spontaneously. In whatever ways we choose to work, there is a need for preparation and training.  We  need to improve our skills of communication and of reaching out to people from other cultures, social classes and opinions.  Thus on this Day of Peace, we can reflect on how best NGOs can work for the protection of human rights while retaining our valuable qualities of freedom and flexibility.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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