UNITED NATIONS HIGH LEVEL FORUM ON CULTURE OF PEACE
Convened by the President of the 67th General Assembly H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic
In cooperation with The Global Movement of The Culture of Peace (GMCoP)
Friday, 6 September 2013 from 9:30 am to 6 pm
Trusteeship Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York
HIGH LEVEL FORUM ON THE CULTURE OF PEACE
H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of of the General Assembly
H. E. Mr. Juan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America
Elie Abadie, M.D., Rabbi, The Edmond J. Safra Synagogue (video message)
BACKGROUND: The United Nations General Assembly resolution 53/243 on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture Peace, establishing the principles and foundations of the Culture of Peace, was adopted by consensus on 13 September 1999. Since then, the General Assembly through its subsequent annual substantive resolutions has highlighted the priority it attaches to the full and effective implementation of this visionary decision which is universally applicable. In addition, the Assembly proclaimed the year 2000 as the “International Year for the Culture of Peace” (52/15) and declared the period 2001 to 2010 as the “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World” (53/25).
Following the wide-ranging success of the UN General Assembly’s High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace held on 14 September 2012, the Assembly, under the guidance of its President H.E. Vuk Jeremic and co-sponsored by 84 member-states led by Bagladesh, adopted by consensus the resolution 67/106 on the Culture of Peace.
HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT
H.E. MS. Dipu Moni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process of the Phillippines
Special Guest: H.E. Mr.Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Chari of the UN General Assembly drafting committee for the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace (1998-99), representing civil society & The Global Movement for The Culture of Peace
- Photo ALBUM of the 2nd HLF on CoP
"If we are to teach real peace in this world,
and if we are to carry on a real war against war,
we shall have to begin with the children."
Hande SUBASILAR and Erman Hakan SENER(2013)
UN Reps of The Light Millennium
Opening session started with the statement of H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of the General assembly. H.E. Jeremic highlighted the significance of the power of faith to advance the Culture of Peace that will ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental development. He said “Fourteen years ago, the Program of Action on the Culture of Peace was adopted by consensus in the General Assembly, identifying eight specific areas of action at all levels—the individual, the family, the community, the nation, and the world. Member States rightly chose to put education first on the list, inspired in no small measure by what Mahatma Gandhi had enjoined three-quarters of a century ago, that ‘if we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.’ To effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century, I believe the generations to come should be instilled with the ethics of non-violence, and equipped with the right tools to flourish as adults—as future parents, responsible community leaders, and engaged citizens. We must impart them with the skills, dispositions, and knowledge they will need in order to make valiant contributions to their respective societies.
H.E. Jeremic concluded his remarks with the words of Dag Hammarskjöld, former Secretary General of the UN, “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.”
Next, H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, underlined the problem of demonization of specific groups of people through political campaigns and treatment of migrants. H.E. Eliasson said, “When we fail to see men, women and children, but instead see larger constructs such as cultures, faiths and nations, we lose sight of the afflicted human beings. When we do not see the person and find only the proverbial ‘other’, we are on a treacherous course toward polarization, dehumanization, and worse. We have been down this path before. We must stop any such descent from recurring. “
“Nobody can do nothing but everybody can do anything.”
Noting the spreading of extremism among the youth in impoverished areas or in regions of armed conflicts, H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson emphasized that we must first accomplish the MDGs and prevent armed conflicts between people from happening in order to guarantee the youth is getting education and not being influenced by extremism. He said, “The culture of peace goes hand in hand with a culture of prevention. Article 33 of the UN Charter sets out an array of tools for resolving disputes in a peaceful manner. Yet, I have the strong sense that we have not fully used these mechanisms over the years. We have witnessed a dangerous tendency to wait for crisis or conflict to erupt, at far greater later cost in all respects. Our challenge going forward is to make greater use of these preventive tools.”
Moreover, H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson stated the urgent need to advance education, increase people to people contact and sharing between them to create a sustainable peace environment where we are able to reach the young people and educate them with the Culture of Peace. H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson concluded his speech by giving an inspirational quote, “Nobody can do nothing but everybody can do anything.”
"Our common task has to make the peace sustainable and lasting in the world."
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, started his remarks by greeting everybody with Biblical reading “peace be with you”, he repeated those words in Jewish and Arabic. He emphasized this reading became the greeting of all monotheist religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We believe in a God of peace and love, of goodness and forgiveness. This is why Orthodox Christianity and Christianity in general, peace do not only signify the absence of war, but primarily the presence of spiritual qualities. If we were to be inspired with such spirituality then peace will be possible for the whole of humanity. Without such spirituality war is unavoidable.
Patriarch Irinej stressed that the peace represents an ideal and nonbelligerent virtue. We do have the habit and we do feel the need to greet each other mutually with a call for peace. He also mentioned that even today as we speak about the culture of peace we find that in some parts of the world the winds of war are raging. Today also unfortunately force marches against law and justice. Patriarch asked “what is the true meaning of our usual exchange of the greeting of peace? Do we have the right to this noble greeting; so dear to the faithful of the major world religions and to our people of good faith? Do we have will and power seriously and responsibly to question our own conscious?”
Patriarch Irinej stated that by the nature of their mission the churches and religious organizations must engage to bring peace in the world in an organized way. Our common task has to make the peace sustainable and lasting in the world. That is the only path which leads to survival of mankind.
“Attack on one religion is attack on all religions.”
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, Office for Interfaith Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed began his key note speech with a verse from the Quran: You do not return evil by evil. He underlined that it is a powerful sentence. Then he mentioned it is 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous speech which transformed America, and gave a new sense of participation and prime to the huge number of African Americans. This kind of transformation is possible by religious leaders who are convinced and committed by their conviction to move forward and to give sacrifice and see things change for the better. There was another event in Washington D.C. which was the 50th anniversary of the Islamic Society of North America. Many students from Muslim countries came to US for education in 1950’s. It was the first time such a large Muslim population lied in campuses. When there were no mosques at that time amazingly American churches opened their doors and invited Muslims to use their places for Muslim prayers or other religious activities.
Dr. Syeed mentioned that Islam, Christianity and Judaism have many similarities. With the construction of culture centers, interfaith relations moved forward, and created relationships in Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant communities. First time in the world a conference was organized with rabbis and imams. Then both Jewish and Islamic organizations decided to jointly fight anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in America.
Then he pointed out that there have been some challenges to sustain interfaith relations such as Florida incident that a pastor attempted to burn Quran – it was the same time when people did not let an Islamic community center to be built in mid-America. Step by step we have built relations with Jews and Christians. They were worried about this kind of Islamophobia as well. This is not only attacking Muslims it is also targeting American pluralism. “Attack on one religion is attack on all religions.” We will be able to marginalize extremists with the help of Christians and Muslims.
Elie Abadie, M.D. Rabbi, The Edmond J. Safra Synagogue
Rabbi Elie Abadie could not attend the high level forum in person but he sent a video message. This messages screened to the audience. After his prayer Rabbi Abadie mentioned that in a peaceful world we solve problems through dialog and negotiations unfortunately the world has not achieved the culture of peace that it seeks. We are witnessing wars between nations and within nations. He said that in Jewish tradition one of the name of the god is “Shalom-Peace". As God’s children and religious leaders gathered here today, we are enjoying by our faiths to find a path toward a peaceful coexistence between all religions and all people, especially world’s three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As the United Nations culture of peace manifesto states we must learn to use one an others religious beliefs as way to connect not as reasons for conflict. As the Talmud described, elders and religious leaders shall bring peace to the world. Our aim should be threefold to stand together against any harassment or attack. This has an impact on relationships between Jewish, Christian and Muslim people to overcome some of the misrepresentation, stereotyping and lack of awareness in the world through an ongoing educational process that teaches peace and respect each religion with a goal of a peaceful and respectful coexistence.
After Rabbi Elie Abadie’s keynote message the first session of the high level forum concluded.
HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT
“It is not enough to talk about peace one must believe in it;
it is not enough to believe in it one must work at it.”
The high level segment of the Second High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace started with the speech of H.E. Ms. Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of PR of Bangladesh. She began by highlighting the words of First Lady Elanor Roosevelt who served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “it is not enough to talk about peace one must believe in it; it is not enough to believe in it one must work at it.” These words are as relevant as today when the UN was founded sixty-seven years ago to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
After explaining Bangladesh’s works on building interfaith harmony and respect for different beliefs and religions she marked that participatory democracy can secure freedoms and respect for diversity. She concluded her speech with words of Mahatma Gandhi “Non violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed. An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Next, H.E. Moni gave the floor to H.E. Mr. Anwarul Chowdhury, Chair of the UN General Assembly drafting committee for the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace (1998-99), representing civil society & The Global Movement for the Culture of Peace.
“Without peace development is impossible,
without women neither peace nor development is possible."
H.E. Mr. Anwarul Chowdhury firstly thanked to be invited for the forum then highlighted the importance of the Resolution 67/106 on implementation of the Programme of Culture of Peace which accepted by the General Assembly last December, under presidency of Vuk Jeremic.
Holding the forum at this time is very significant as the drums of war are being sounded now. Peace loving people of the world are holding their breath and praying intensely. Values of nonviolence, tolerance, and democracy will generate the mindset that is prerequisite for the transition from the wars to reason, from conflicts and violence to dialogue and peace.
Next, H.E. Chowdhury stated that people all over the world even from the weakest countries contributed and worked hard to build the Culture of Peace in their communities and countries. We should never forget that when women are marginalized, we cannot reach sustainable peace. He highlighted that women are often the first victims of arm conflicts; they must also and always be recognized as key to the resolution of the conflicts. Then he said that it is his strong belief that unless women are engaged in advancing the culture of peace at equal levels with men sustainable peace won’t be reached. Then he stated these meaningful words: “Without peace development is impossible, without women neither peace nor development is possible". He also mentioned that an absence of peace takes away the opportunities to better and prepare ourselves to face the challenges of our lives individually and collectively. The biggest concern is continuing and expending militarism, which impoverishes both the world and humanity. The culture of peace should be the foundation of today’s society.
Following this H.E. Mr. Anwarul Chowdhury explained that peace does not only mean to stop the wars but also stop aggression, injustice and neglect. In 1999 the United Nations adopted the Declaration & Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace. In this declaration not only the countries but also civil society, media and individuals are identified as key actors. Global Movement of Culture of Peace is the one of the frontrunners in this effort.
H.E. Mr. Chowdhury coated these words from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s speech from last year’s inaugural high level forum on the culture of peace: “A key ingredient in building the culture of peace is education. We are here to talk about how to create this culture of peace. I have a simple one word answer: Education. Through education we teach children not to hate, through education we raise leaders who act with wisdom and incompassion, through education we establish a true lasting culture of peace.” Then he mentioned that he strongly believes that to be worldwide this global initiative needs to focus on building the culture of peace trough appropriate education to the young of today. All education institutions need to offer opportunities to prepare students not only fulfilling lives but also to be responsible and productive citizens of the world.
Impressed by these words of Albert Einstein: “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil but the because of the people who do not do anything about it”, H.E. Mr. Chowdhury loudly expressed to the audience that it is the time to act. He said let us send a strong message that there is no place for war in the word. Let us embrace the culture of peace for the good of humanity, for the sustainability of our planet and for making our world a better place to live.
Follow by H.E. Chowdhury's statement, the high level segment was concluded.