UN’s High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace
The UN's High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace was convened on 6 September by the President of the 67th General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, ending his year as GA President.
The theme of the day was, "The Culture of Peace as the agenda for a new global civilization: Where are we now?"
The event opened with talks by the GA President and the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, H.E. Jan Eliasson, followed by keynote addresses from His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, and Rabbi Elie Abadie of the Safra Synagogue. Government representatives from Bangladesh and the Philippines spoke, along with H.E. Anwarul K. Chowdhury (a speaker at the World Goodwill Seminar in New York in 2010), representing the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. This was followed by three panel discussions: The Role of Interfaith Cooperation in Promoting a Global Culture of Peace; The Culture of Peace as the Agenda for a New Global Civilization: Where are we Now?; and Strategy for Advancing the Implementation of the UN Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace: What is needed?
Representatives from World Goodwill were in attendance along with a large number of people from other groups. It was a joy to sense the focus and concentration on the work of building a culture of peace that was in the chamber. These High Level Events at the UN reflect the fact that "culture of peace" is raising its profile in the international community -- focusing on peace as a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among indiviuals, groups and nations.
The President of the General Assembly captured the essence of the goodwill vision in his remarks. The UN Charter, he commented, gave each nation "a seat around the high table of peace, where dialogue was endowed with greater value than force." "In the decades that have followed," he continued, "the blessings of amity were repeatedly put to the test by the strong pull of the recourse to arms. For all the transgressions, however, the quest for peace at the United Nations did not recede ..." The Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace, adopted by consensus in the General Assembly in 1989, reflected this ongoing search for peace at the UN. It identified 8 areas where action was needed "at all levels -- the indiviual, the family, the community, the nation, and the world." Education was the first area of focus.
"We are truly becoming a global community, one in which the solemn entreaty of the UN Charter - to "practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors" has never been more pressing."
He called upon all of us to "be ready to begin a universal transition to sustainability by 2015. We cannot afford to delay the start of a process that, once completed, will have fundamentally transformed the ways in which humanity conducts its affairs .... We must not squander the opportunity to set the world on the path to sustainable development -- and so bring forth a powerful handmaiden to our efforts to spread the culture of peace to every corner of the globe."
"Holy books remind us that in creating mankind, God did not intend for us simply to be endowed with certain gifts and particular qualities. He created us "in His image" and called us to be completed "in His likeness," so that we may humbly endeavor to come ever closer to Him -- to become more ethical, more just, and more self-controlled, but also more mindful of the Eternal, the "one thing neccessary.""
"The wholehearted embrace of the culture of peace would propel us forward, and help make still and tranquil the ways of the world."
The President concluded his remarks by quoting Dag Hammarskjold --
"Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build for man a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just. (...) How can we ask others to sacrifice if we are not ready to do so? (...) Only in true surrender to the interest of all can we reach that strength and independence, that unity of purpose, that equity of judgment which are necessary if we are to measure up to our duty to the future, as men of a generation to whom the chance (is) given to build (...) a world (culture) of peace."
The note struck by the President was highlighted by the other speakers with education being presented as the "primary tool." Speakers Highlight Education as ‘Primary Tool’ during General Assembly High-Level Forum on Culture of Peace
Among all the inspiring messages during this High Level Forum, Nancy Roof, editor and founder of the journal, Kosmos, spoke forcefully and directly to the spiritual impulse driving the work of building a culture of peace. "We are new humans with a new consciousness and capacity for peaceful and non-violent change. We realize that we must change ourselves to change the world. As we speak, millions are working to master their fears and anger, while meditating and praying for peace. Many are developing new intuitive capacities that bring new perspectives to our rational solutions. Millions are meeting in small circles developing collective intelligence and group solidarity for the common good. We are moving from a culture of indiviual self-interest to the good of the whole."
Her six point strategy for developing a new "wellness model for peace" highlighted, as the first point: "Developing an inclusive approach that scales from individual, interior or spiritual development to community, national and global. The weakest of these, I believe, is interior or spiritual devlopment. We often see skilled activists who have not addressed their inner subjective reality and, therefore, become liabilities to the groups in which they are involved. And vice versa, we find spiriually oriented people without skills in action. Today, we need both!"
Nancy Roof concluded by saying: "The opportunity for change is now. We are living in a new world with new human capacities and new world views. In this time of the Great Transition, we must make systemic and radical changes to all our institutions to reflect our new values and capacities. We must focus on prevention, share the earth's resources, and come together as global citizens in a world comunity that cares enough to make the radical changes needed to create the new world."
"May the Spirit of Peace be spread abroad, in our hearts, through our groups, and throughout the world."
Watch videos of all the inspiring speakers at UN’s High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace (2013) | Global Movement for the Culture of Peace
Read the words of H.E. Vuk Jeremic at Statements of the President of the 67th Session - General Assembly of the United Nations
Read Nancy Roof's text at Culture of Peace Speech by Nancy