Panel Discussion I:
“THE ROLE OF CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN AND YOUTH TO THE CULTURE OF PEACE”
Hande SUBASILAR, General Secretary of the Light Millennium and
NGO Representative at the United Nations, and
Isik BASARIR, UN Youth Representative of the Light Millennium
[Lightmillennium.Org] Before giving the floor to the panelists, Moderator H.E. Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations provided an introduction to the topic through his comments. He explained that the panel was dedicated to highlight the importance of women and youth's role through creation of a culture of peace. Then he announced the first speaker Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, the highlighted the role of women in building and sustaining the culture of peace. She started by mentioning this High-Level Forum is an important opportunity to strengthen the global movement and implementation of the Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace.
Ms. Puri highlighted that the role and contributions of women and youth to the Culture of Peace is not only important because women and young people represent the majority of the global population, but also because women and young people are key drivers of the radical change of mindsets, institutions and cultures that we seek. She continued on saying: “the promotion and achievement of gender equality and women's empowerment is both a means and an end for the deconstruction of militarism, negative masculinities and patriarchy which glorifies violence and aggression, and undergirds the culture of war in all its insanity and senseless assault on humanity that we seek to end.” Then, to affirm this, she referred to the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 women must not only be protected from war and the violence unleashed thereby, but they must be seen as agents of conflict prevention, of peacemaking, and as reconcilers in peacebuilding in post-conflict.
Furthermore, Ms. Puri reminded the audience the Secretary-General’s words: “Through education, we teach children not to hate. Through education, we raise leaders who act with wisdom and compassion. Through education, we establish a true, lasting culture of peace.” In addition to that she stated that with women — mothers, grandmothers, and other family members — often being the first teachers of children, they can play a vital role in educating young people to value peace and not war. Then she added UN Women supports women’s peace coalitions in South Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Colombia, the Syrian Arab Republic and Nepal, among other places.
Ms. Puri announced that the upcoming year will be an extremely important year due to the convergence of so many global policy events, the post-2015 development framework, and the 20-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action and the 15-year anniversary of resolution 1325.
Most importantly the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals also is focusing on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the proposal. Furthermore she indicated that for the goal on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, these include targets on: Ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere; Eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls; Eliminating all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilations; Recognizing and valuing unpaid care and domestic work, and promoting shared responsibility within the household and the family; Ensuring women’s participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life; and Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
As conclusion Ms. Puri encouraged the international community and the culture for peace constituency to continue to play its leading role in fostering an international environment which recognizes and promotes women’s and girls’ rights by engaging women as well as men, girls as well as boys, in our quest for peaceful and non-violent societies.
Next, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, emphasized the role of youth inclusion in the peace process at a time when need for peace is increasing throughout the world. For he stated that around 1.5 billion person in the world are living in conflict zones and majority of them are under 30 years old, and many of them would not be able to achieve any one of the MDGs.
Today’s generation of the youth is the largest the world has ever seen, and yet they are not fully integrated in the peace building effort. Young people are rarely invited to participate directly in the peace negotiations around the world. They are the ones that their youth are being deployed in these conflicts, but when there is a peace negotiation they are not considered mature enough to be invited to the table. Then he added, we need to make sure that the youth voice is taken in to account. “Peace is not an agreement that you can sign; peace is something that people believe in it and work for it” said Mr. Alhendawi. He also called attention to lost generation of youth in conflict zones whose potential is threatened by instability and lack of opportunity. They cannot imagine that there is a future for them. From now on “it is not only about providing shelters and food. It is about providing hope,” he said.
Following this point, Mr. Alhendawi reminded the wisdom of the founding nations of the UN that established peace and security, development and the human rights as the three pillars of this organization. These three pillars are interconnected and we cannot expect to achieve peace and security without focusing on development and protection of human rights. We can only pursue this with the commitment of all the stake holders including young people and also women. Then he concluded by saying “young people can be the agents of peace, we must continue working together to ensure that the largest generation of humans is an opportunity, not a liability for our time.”
Next, Ms. Kathleen Kuehnast, Director of the Centre for Gender and Peace building at the US Institute of Peace, underlined the important role of women promoting a culture of peace. “First, a culture of peace needs dynamic and creative leadership to organize for peace. Second, a culture of peace must have an inclusive approach that does not “instrumentalize” women or children. Finally, a culture of peace requires a well-funded effort” she said.
Highlighting the sentence of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war” she pointed out the need of leadership that shapes new and innovative ideas, including how to ensure more women are in leadership positions to assist in building lasting peace. Her second point was the need for an inclusive process. She said she had seen how transition impacts societal gender roles. She said “a culture of peace must not create new silos or reinforce old silos. We must make sure that we engage men as partners for positive change.”
She concluded by suggesting a ‘Silicon Valley’ for Non-Violence, for non-violent approaches to global problem-solving. Effectively organized peace requires resources so we need to invest and bring resources to bear upon the global problem of violence. “What we need is long-term thinking, where our default setting is non-violent problem solving and applying innovative technology toward a culture of peace” said Ms. Kuehnast.
Ms. Sanam Anderlini, Co-Founder, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), was the next speaker. She began her speech reminding of rising religious based conflicts all over the world and mentioned the violence that the Middle East is facing. We know the ingredients of the war-making, but that is not what we want from the culture of peace, she said. Furthermore she explained the culture of peace has to mean that the use of violence becomes our very last option, not the first.
She continued to desribe the culture of peace as the acceptance and respect towards each other. Diversity and plurality is about recognizing the differences and yet at the same time recognizing the similarity we share as human beings. She emphasized the critical importance of the commitment of inclusivity. We are seeing women who have the courage to fight for peace, justice and an end to discrimination, without the use of weapons, she said. Collectively organized women’s movements around the world don’t resort to violence to attain their goals. They have other creative solutions. They need to bring those solutions to the peace table. Moreover, Ms. Anderlini declared that women’s movements are not part of the problem, but are part of the solution.
Pointing out the necessity of protecting and honoring the work of peace activists, she underlined that without a strong civil society the chances of living in peace are limited. Ms. Anderlini concluded her remarks by sharing the words of a Columbian peace activist Rosa Emilia Salamanca: “We have no other choice peace is the only choice.”
“If supported by the adults, Youth have an incredible potential as a peacebuilder”
Next, Mr. Oliver Rizzi Carlson, Representative of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders to the United Nations, described youth as a state of mind and learning. Thinking that being open to learning means being open to transformation and he added transformation and learning is the core of the culture of peace. Mr. Rizzi Carlson emphasized that any peaceful behavior or any social system rests up on diversity and he said “peace is about is the ability of learning to live together”. If peace is about learning the culture of peace cannot be about just security or having control or rule of law or conformity. Peace is about process. He also mentioned that diversity, dialog and learning to express are essential for peace. This is an important contribution that youth can make.
Mr. Carlson stated that if supported youth have an incredible potential as peace builder and nowadays youth decide to study peace at increasing numbers. Peace studies programs are grooving everywhere.
Afterwards, H.E. Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury thanked all the panelists and invited the next moderator.
Panel Discussion II:
“GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP AS A PATHWAY TO THE CULTURE OF PEACE”
The panel discussion dedicated to global citizenship as a pathway to the culture of peace started with the introduction speech of the chair and moderator, H.E. Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Honduras to the United Nations. H.E. Mrs. Flores Flake announced that the Secretary General's First Initiative (UN GEFI) stands on 3 pillars: First, every child should be in school and have access to schools. Second, should receive quality education; and third, participate in a globalized interconnected world that fosters global citizenship. This way, we’ll have emerging global leaders that can produce global solutions. In this vision, education is the most powerful transformative. She raised these questions: where does the concept of global citizenship originate? Is there an agreed concept? What does it mean to be a global citizen when there is no global government? How is global citizenship to proceed in the north, south and east? Is there an ethical component of global citizenship in its collective responsibility?
Then she invited the distinguished panelists to share their expertise.
It is time for us to end the culture of war and start building peace
First panelist was the Former Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Federico Mayor. He started by referring to history and wars of humanity when the majority of people were obedient, silent, and invisible. He continued by saying it is time for us to end the culture of war and start building peace. Mr. Mayor strongly emphasized that the two most important things to accomplish for building the culture of peace are equal dignity for all the people and democratic principles to guide humanity.
Afterwards, Mr. Mayor continued on highlighting the importance of women's involvement to build the culture of peace. We need a new paradigm and it is the transition from the culture of war to la parole (the word). Today we need this change from muscle to speaking and for this, he said, “we need women and we need more women”. Then he shared that when he was with Nelson Mandela, Mandela said that the only solution, only way to culture of peace is to involve larger percentage of women in the decision making. He concluded his speech by saying “For the first time in history we can be hopeful. Why? Because we know the world and young people know the world. They have global consciousness. If they have global consciousness, then they are global citizens. We have more women in decision making. Finally we have the possibility to express ourselves. We have freedom of expression through internet and social media. We can easily and freely communicate with each other. And now we are about to make a transition from a culture of conflict and violence to a culture of dialogue and peace.”
Global citizenship is a pathway “from ‘I’ to ‘We’ and from ‘We’ to ‘Peace’
Second Panelist, President of the National Peace Academy Ms. Dot Maver, started her speech remarking that the Global citizenship is a pathway “from ‘I’ to ‘We’ and from ‘We’ to ‘Peace’. She called attention to importance of shifting from “I” to “We”. We do share a responsibility to help this society as a part of this society, said Ms. Maver.
She stated questions we need to ask ourselves: What does it mean to live in a global society? And how much are we aware of it? She later added that peacebuilding is an inside job, therefore, a personal practice of peace, kindness and mindfulness is essential along with social and emotional skills. Humanitarianism is foundational for the global citizen. It is all about relationships building a paramount for the culture of peace. Social and emotional skills are important for peacebuilders. Empathy, anger management, non violent communication, de-escalation of violence, listening and dialog are drivers of behavior. She also added that conflict is inevitable violence is not. Everyone can learn to resolve conflict wisely and responsibly. We need to shift from punitive to restorative, she added.
In her remarks, Dot Maver also made the observation that “energy follows thought, and we know that whatever we choose to focus on, we will get more of in life.” Ms. Maver concluded by giving tips on what we can do as global citizens to promote Culture of Peace and reempahsized the following thoughts: “We know whatever we choose to focus on we’ll get more of it,” and “Unite our hearts across the world and pray: may peace prevail on earth.”
Nuclear weapons are a crime against all humanity
Next, Former Canadian Senator, Author, Diplomat, Mr. Douglas Roche, began his speech by talking about his experience in Hiroshima. He first realized that he is a citizen of the world when he went to visit Hiroshima. He saw the scale of destruction and realized the vulnerability of humanity. That is when he understood we were all one body on this planet. Mr. Roche said nuclear weapons are a crime against all humanity. Hence, when there is a suffering in one part of the world, it affects all of us because we all share this world. “We either have full security or none at all” said Mr. Roche.
In 20th century, wars such as the 1st and 2nd world war in Balkans, Vietnam, Hiroshima, Pearl Harbor, killed over 100 million people. After that, did we think that we would just turn the corner and find gardens of peace? According to Mr. Roche, we will have to work and increase our efforts to build a culture of peace. Some say 21st century is defined by terrorism; however the real strength of 21st century is the culture of peace. “When barbarism breaks out its time for us to redouble our efforts to build a rule of law”, he said. Ending his speech, he called on the UN Security Council to act in such a way for the whole world until peace is rekindled.
Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director, UNESCO Office in New York, was the next panelist. Ms. Jensen express her thoughts about how we can empower the current and future generations using tools of the century in a creative manner through leadership, sharing, technology, science, and communication platforms that can provide education to large numbers.
Ms. Jensen explained that the United Nations International Decade on Culture of Peace and Non-Violent built engagements of the international community in favor of intercultural dialog and peace. It is overarching goal is to empower the present and the future generations to be better equipped with relevant knowledge and skills necessary to become responsible citizen in a safer world for all. This could be achieved mainly through education. For this, she added, in 2012 the Secretary General launched the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), which put education for global citizenship on the global education agenda. Initiative plays a catalytic role by mobilizing the international community on transformative role of education and its capacity to help nations towards peaceful societies.
Then Ms. Jensen shared that according to the Global Monitoring Report, which is produced by UNESCO for monitoring the educational development in nations, many countries have made major progress in reducing the number of out of school children between 2002 and 2007. But not much progress from then. The challenge we face is keep the children in school, ensure that they learn, gain knowledge, skill and attitude on that will allow them to contribute to peaceful development of societies as global citizens. She concluded by saying that UNESCO is committed to support the member states implementing global citizenship education by providing a forum for policy, dialog and exchange of good practices on global citizenship education with the elaboration of Post 2015 educational agenda.
Last speaker of the panel Mr. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Senior Adviser, King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), highlighted the importance of mechanisms to insure wider and more meaningful citizen participation in global governance institutions. Our diverse communities need to be connected to the global governance institutions in more meaningful ways than symbolic statements, said Mr. Abu-Nimer.
He also stressed that national identity problems brought all this destruction and conflict, therefore, we need a global identity. Then he raised these questions: “Can we talk about this without the language of religion in areas where culture of religion is the core value?” Can you do this from a secular perspective? In his point of view global citizenship and dialogue without religious pluralism will not work. Moving in this direction, lack of trust between politicians and religious organizations is an obstacle. According to Mr. Abu-Nimer, there is a need to build a bridge between these organizations to build a global dialogue.
After Mr. Mohammed Abu-Nimer’s speech the panel was concluded and moved to the closing session.
At the end of the day, H.E. Mr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, came to podium for the closing remarks joined by H.E. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury and H.E. Ambassador Mary Elizabeth Flores Flakes. H.E. Mr. Abdul Momen first paid special tribute to the two panel chairs and H.E. Ms. Leymah Gbowee recognizing all the other panelists.
Having shortly summarized the previous two panels he continued on to mention that the culture of peace has been getting much attention all around the world, especially from civil society organizations. He also highlighted the effort of Bangladesh supporting the culture of peace. H.E. Mr. Abdul Momen encouraged the United Nations relevant departments to keep working on peace building. The High Level Forum on Culture of Peace concluded by these words of H.E. Mr. Abdul Momen “May the culture of peace take a deeper root in all of us for a more tolerant and a better world.”
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