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UFP Day of Peace Events Related to Disarmament


In addition to the disarmament conference at the UN headquarters in Geneva on the United Nations International Day of Peace 2009, Universal Peace Federation chapters organized events on that theme in various nations.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Building off the preamble of the UNESCO Constitution, "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed," the program in Argentina focused on the ways in which individuals and institutions could “disarm” themselves. One highlight of the event was the Day of Peace Poetry Contest, won by Concepcion Rodriguez Garaventa with her poem “Everyone,” which challenged all to feel the “fire of life, fire of love, and fire of peace."

Cotonou, Benin

A gathering at the UPF Peace Embassy on the theme "We Must Disarm" drew 350 participants, including former government ministers, religious leaders, and NGO leaders. At 12:00 noon, a moment of silence was observed in memory of all peacemakers and UN volunteers who have passed away and those who continue to work on the front line. Ambassadors for Peace joined the United Nations Development Programme and the Benin government at the National Assembly to celebrate the International Day of Peace and launch a Peace Week from September 21 to 27, with the closing ceremony schedule to take place in the Presidency.

Yaoundé, Cameroon

Mrs. Anne Nsang Nwain, Director of the UN Information Centre, found herself at the center of a heated debate after some of the audience expressed their disappointment that the UN suffered from inherent weakness and incapacity to solve human problems and bring security to the world. Quoting from the Secretary-General’s message, Mrs. Nwain reminded the audience that every nation and all individuals must help the United Nations if there is to be a world of peace, free of nuclear arms.

Ottawa, Canada

As part of the Festival of Peace, the National Capital Peace Council held a breakfast meeting with a talk by Order of Canada recipient Murray Thompson on what individuals can do to encourage the decommissioning of nuclear weapons around the world.

Kinshasa, DR Congo

In one of the most troubled nations in Africa, political and religious leaders gathered to call for a national end to violence. Following the readings of the UN and UPF Peace Resolutions, UPF-Congo Secretary General Michel Futila di Mayeko gave a thought-provoking presentation on the topic of the “Cause and Resolution of Conflict.” The event was broadcast on Radio TV Lisanga and Canal Congo Television and covered by two press organizations, the Agence Congolaise de Presse and Référence Plus.

Delhi, India

Ms. Shalini Dewan, Director of United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan, spoke on “Peace and Non-Violence” at a large celebration at the UN Conference Hall. The event also included interfaith prayers and a symbolic “surrender of weapons” by students of the local Springdales School. Other speakers included Ambassador K.V. Rajan, President of the Association of Indian Diplomats, who spoke on the “Vision of a World Without Weapons,” and Dr. Mohini Giri, who spoke of the role of women in peace making.

Dublin, Ireland

Ian White, Director of the International and Political Programme and former CEO of the Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre, an institution that has been deeply involved in facilitating the process of peacemaking in Northern Ireland, pointed out the key issues that led to the 1998 Good Friday agreement and eventual halt to the violence in Northern Ireland. Among the issues he covered was the importance of getting leaders of the extremes to the peace discussions. Without dealing with the extreme elements in any conflict, it is virtually impossible to ensure long-term peace.

Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel

Women from three religious communities —Christian, Jewish, and Druze — took part in a celebration at the City Hall. The event was opened by Mrs. Rosa Shmueli, who extended blessings for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Ha'Shana, and the Muslim celebration of Id El Fitr. In the Jerusalem Forest, a traditional peace ceremony took place around a special campfire. People from various faith traditions offered prayers and songs were offered for peace in the Middle East as well as the entire world.

Tokyo, Japan

Yoshio Watanabe, Head of the Institute of International Peace, gave a commemoration speech on the theme, “Challenge to World Peace and Expectations of the New Japanese Administration.” In Japan, the Democratic Party of Japan took over power from the Liberal Democratic Party after the general election on August 30, and the party’s President, Yukio Hatoyama, had just assumed the post of Prime Minister on September 16. Hatoyama said he intended to call for disarmament and “a nuclear-free world” at the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting.

After the Cold War ended, global issues transcending national borders such as religious, ethnic, environmental, and financial concerns have risen to the surface. Mr. Watanabe analyzed Democratic Party of Japan’s foreign policy toward Asia as “completely different” from that of the Liberal Democratic Party and discussed implications for US-Japan relations.

Kathmandu, Nepal

The motto “We Must Disarm” resonates with the people of Nepal who seek lasting peace after years of turmoil. UPF joined the celebration of the International Day of Peace organized by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. The former Speaker of the House, Mr. Daman Nath Dhungana, and the Minister of Peace and Reconstruction, Hon. Dilli Bahadur Mahat, gave special remarks. Special guest speakers included Mr. Robert Piper from the UN Development Programme and Ms. Karen Landgren, Chief of the United Nations Mission in Nepal.

Bergen aan Zee, The Netherlands

At a European Leadership Conference, Drs. Dick Leurdijk, Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, “Clingendael," addressed the topic “The UN International Day of Peace and the Situation in the Middle East.” Dr. Irma Loemban Tobing Klein, former ambassador of Surinam to the United Nations and co-founder and current Chairman of MDG Global Watch, spoke on “The Millennium Development Goals, Dream or Reality?”

Oslo, Norway

After UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's video message "We Must Disarm," local UN Communications Office representative Mrs. Line Begby commented on the importance of the UN's role in today’s world. Mr. Pal Arne Davidsen, foreign policy adviser for the Norwegian Parliament, shared his views on disarmament and reconciliation. Mr. Kristian B. Harpviken, Director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, spoke about the possibility of a new agenda for disarmament today. A Muslim representative, Mr. Hatef Mokhtar, founder of the organization Global Peace, gave his viewpoints on peace. From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Thomas Stangeland gave an update on the Ministry's work for peace and reconciliation.

Castries, St. Lucia

With the upsurge in violent acts in this Caribbean island nation, several of which have resulted in homicides, representatives of six groups felt compelled to speak with a unified voice. Building on the UN Secretary-General message, "We Must Disarm," theypublished a joint peace declaration in the two national newspapers.

The six organizations issuing declaration were the Community Action Programme for Safety, the National Youth Council, the National Commission for UNESCO, RISE, Fighting Against increasing Threats to Humanity, and the Universal Peace Federation. A representatives one organization broadcast a ten-minute commentary every evening that week at the end of the 7:00 evening news. In addition to demonstrating the organizations' commitment to work together, the series of commentaries made a great contribution to the on-going national debate on how to reduce crime and violence.

Bangkok, Thailand

Political conflicts, problems in the southern provinces, and problems on the Cambodian border are ongoing challenges in Thailand. Ms. Taya Tepsuwan, Deputy Governor of Bangkok, welcomed participants to a conference on "Our Role in Building Peace in Thailand." She said she felt honored that her administration was co-hosting the event. "It is our duty to support and protect the welfare of the people," she said, expressing her sincere desire for peace particularly in the southern provinces of Thailand. Hon. Apirak Kosayodhin, former Governor of Bangkok, encouraged the young people and the religious leaders to reflect on how they can work together to solve such problems. "Even though we may have different views, we all have the same goal and the same hope, and that is peace," he concluded.

London, United Kingdom

Professor Bhupendra Jasani spoke about the importance of independent verification in disarmament negotiations, and testified about the work of the European Satellite Centre for arms control and confidence monitoring and crisis management. This organization successfully prodded the UK and the US to publicly acknowledge the importance of developing new techniques and new institutions. “If there is to be real confidence in the disarmament process, it must start based on accurate information and understanding,” Jasani said. He demonstrated the techniques used to distinguish between a nuclear power station used for energy purposes and one used for enriching plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

Vijay Mehta, Chair of World Disarmament Campaign and Action for UN Renewal, spoke on the potential for partnership between the United Nations and civil society to promote a world free of nuclear weapons. Moeen Yaseen, founder of Global Vision 2000, an international Islamic think tank, spoke on “The Military Influence on our Global Economy and the Need for a Paradigm Shift.”

To read UPF's Declaration on the International Day of Peace 2009, click here.

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