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August 2020
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International Day of Peace Celebrated in France

French

International Day of Peace forums took place in Paris, Lyon and Vannes.

Paris

At the Catholic center Maison de La Salle in Paris, the French chapters of UPF and the Women’s Federation for World Peace jointly organized an event on Sept. 20, 2014, on the theme of Peace Initiatives to celebrate the International Day of Peace.

The audience of 60 participants included Ambassadors for Peace, UPF and Women's Federation volunteers and new guests. This year the UN day commemorated the Declaration of the Rights of People to Peace proclaimed by the UN General Assembly 30 years ago.

Mr. Laurent Ladouce, director of the Centre Culture et Paix in Paris, introduced the event with a talk on the theme of "Holy Peace versus Holy War," suggesting a shift of focus, in light of the ongoing violence around the world, from a "sacred right to peace" to a "duty for holy peace." In the audience, Prof. Edmond Jouve, an internationally renowned expert on constitutional law and a UPF Ambassador for Peace, commented on the relevance of discussing the issue of rights at a time when Scots and Ukrainians are voicing claims to independence.

Mr. Jacques Marion, president of UPF-France, then reported on the World Summit 2014 on Peace, Security and Development held in Korea in August, which gathered 300 high-level delegates including current and former heads of state and government. He underlined the issue of the relevance of religion to peace and development that pervaded summit discussions, and quote from participating religious leaders (from Israel, Colombia, Switzerland, etc.) who were responding to conflicts in their own nations with interreligious activities, thus enhancing the relevance of the UPF founders’ proposal to create an interreligious council at the United Nations.

Ms. Patricia Lalonde, head of the association MEWA, vividly spoke of her activities promoting women’s rights around the world. Understanding the real situation of women, she said, comes only from visiting them in their places of suffering, not sitting in forums and discussions. Her words became tangible when she received, right during the event, an urgent call from people in Kurdistan crying for international help as the "Islamic state" forces were moving into their villages.

Mrs. Brigitte Wada, president of the Women's Federation for World Peace-France, then gave a presentation on her organization's "Bridge of Peace" activities that began 20 years ago to promote reconciliation among women from countries, cultures or religions that used to be in conflict. Thousands of women around the world, from first ladies to ordinary citizens, have thus taken the lead in peacebuilding through this moving and meaningful ceremony. Mrs. Wada announced plans for an upcoming bridge of peace ceremony between Muslim and Christian women from France and Algeria.

The event concluded with a talk on Religious Youth Service activities, a project of UPF, by Mr. Alexandre Huard, director for youth at UPF-France, who also contributed to the event. More than 250 RYS projects involving young people from diverse ethnic or religious backgrounds working and learning together centering on a service project have been organized in the past 30 years around the world. Alexandre announced the plan for an RYS event in France during World Interfaith Harmony Week in February 2015.

After closing remarks by UPF-France vice-president Mr. Patrick Jouan, UPF-Europe president Rev. Paul An, and Mrs. Brigitte Wada awarded an Ambassador for Peace certificate to Mrs. Lila Boukortt, president of France-Euro-Méditerranée. Mrs. Eugénie Dossa-Quenum, from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, was then introduced as a distinguished guest; she gave a few words introducing the league and encouraged the audience to take an active stance for peace in challenging injustice and discrimination.

Report by Jacques Marion

Lyon

For the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the UN International Day of Peace, Ambassadors for Peace representing eight nationalities gathered in Lyon on Sept. 21 to analyze current affairs and consider ways to contribute to peace locally, nationally and internationally.

In the first speech, Mr. Michel Bredard showed photos of some initiatives undertaken by UPF under the inspiration of its founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon, such as promoting rapprochement between the two Koreas and the Middle East Peace Initiative. A documentary film explained the heart of the Ambassadors for Peace work.

Mr. Jean-Paul Chaudy introduced the theme of the year set by the UN: "The Right of Peoples to Peace." He referred to the conscience as the inner voice that calls people to take responsibility to build peace with the one next to them.

Mr. Eitel Moutome, Ambassador for Peace and president of "The African Case," explained the activities of his association that distributes food to hundreds of needy families weekly.

Two girls, Olive and Diamond, prepared an excellent meal that the 20 guests shared while discussing many current situations of war, considering peaceful solutions to be more effective than bombing.

After the meal, cheese, cake and coffee, people enjoyed a time of sharing in the sunny day under the shade of trees.

The first session in the afternoon started with a Zairian choir.

Then Mrs. Kabamba reported about the work done by Ambassadors for Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mrs. Imgard Dumas reported about her experiences during a trip to Israel as part of the Middle East Peace Initiative, especially visits by Jews, Christians and Muslims to hospitals and schools.

Mrs. Marie Thérèse explained the importance of sports and culture for the rapprochement of young people from different culture and religions.

Mrs. Denise Moutome, an Ambassador for Peace, explained the need for listening, patience, humility and a spirit of service to be an effective ambassador for peace every day. Her compassion for poor people is very moving. It is not enough to be a volunteer, she said; one must also be wise and even a saint to persevere in this difficult path.

Mr. Alain Fimbel, an Ambassador for Peace, writer, philosopher and spiritualist, invited everyone to reconsider their attitude about international political developments, using examples of the interventions of France in Libya, Mali and Iraq.

When the presentations were finished, the discussion continued in small groups around a few fruits and drinks.

Report by Jean-Paul Chaudy

Vannes

The Brittany chapter of UPF celebrated the International Day of Peace in Vannes on Sept. 27. A well-known tourist town located in Brittany near the sea, Vannes was a good setting for inviting dignitaries from Paris on a weekend. With representatives from local NGOs in the audience, the meeting was held on the theme of “Cultural Exchange and Sustainable Development for Peace” and introduced cooperative projects between people in Brittany and several African countries.

After words of welcome by Mr. André Blévin, the UPF representative in Brittany, the first speaker, Mr. N. Nakpergou, first secretary of the Embassy of Togo in Paris, on behalf of the Ambassador, praised the initiative of a Day of Peace promoting international cooperative projects with Africa. Mr. Jean-Luc Berlet, a philosopher, then gave an insightful perspective on peace in society based on human development.

They were followed by Mrs. Sonia Ramzi, assistant to Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former UN secretary-general and currently director of the UNESCO Committee on Democracy and Development, who spoke on the significance of heritage as wealth for the world.

Mrs. Eugnie Dossa-Quenum, a former president of the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom, gave insights into the role of women in conflict resolution throughout the world.

A few practical cooperative projects were then introduced: humanitarian projects for Togo organized for several years by Ms. Maguite Lorcy, a UPF Ambassador for Peace from the GAIA association, and supported by UPF-Brittany; an interreligious peace initiative in Africa by Mr. Siangou Koumpchane, from the association “Together,” based in the nearby city of Rennes; and a drinking water project set up in Madagascar, presented by a young engineer, Mr. Thierry Madonado. The presence of younger participants from the volunteer and academic realms gave the audience a hopeful feeling that the development projects would be ongoing and effective.

The day ended with presentations on UPF activities by Mr. Patrick Jouan, vice president of UPF-France, and activities by the French chapter of the Women’s Federation for World Peace by its president, Mrs. Brigitte Wada. Three participants received certificates as new Ambassadors for Peace.

The next day, before returning to Paris, some participants had the opportunity to visit the famous prehistoric site of Carnac, near Vannes, which provided a good opportunity for intellectual enrichment and informal sharing. A Day of Peace celebration in a French provincial town, giving eye-opening information on cooperative projects with Africa, gave quite some inspiration to all.

Report by Jacques Marion

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