By PETER DONIGI
INTERNATIONAL Day of Peace (Peace Day) provides an opportunity for individuals, organisations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.
It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the general assembly.
The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982.
In 2002, the general assembly officially declared Sept 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.
By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged all of mankind to work in cooperation for this goal.
During the discussion of the UN resolution, which established the International Day of Peace, it was suggested that: “Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.
“This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organisation, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organisation as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace.”
Since its inception, Peace Day has marked our personal and planetary progress towards peace. It has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world and, each year, events are organised to commemorate and celebrate this day.
Events range in scale from private gatherings to public concerts and forums where hundreds of thousands of people participate.
Anyone anywhere can celebrate Peace Day.
It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, or just sitting in silent meditation. Or, it can involve getting your co-workers, organisation, community or government engaged in a large event.
The impact, if millions of people in all parts of the world come together for one day of peace, is immense.
We ask simply for you to do two simple things on this day. First, we ask you to smile to everyone you see or meet on the street or in the shops or office.
Second, we ask that you simply greet each other by projecting the peace within you to each other by saying “peace be with you”.
International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political.
Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time.
Imagine what a whole day of ceasefire would mean to humankind.
Activities in PNG
Activities for the International Peace Day in Papua New Guinea are being coordinated by Peace Foundation Melanesia Inc (PFM).
PFM, headed by James Laki, is the focal point for Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) in PNG as well as the UN Association of PNG.
The common theme among these entities is peace and conflict prevention for all humankind.
Since 2004, PFM has provided the focal point for GPPAC, representing civil society peace builders from around the world, calling for a fundamental change of approach towards conflict, and a shift from reaction to prevention.
This complements the United Nations associations which exist in various countries to enhance the relationship between the people of a member state and the UN, raise public awareness of the UN and its work, promote the general goals of the UN and act as an advisory body to governments, decision makers and the news media.
The associations have inherited a great responsibility to help make the UN an ever more effective instrument for world peace and security, development and human rights.
It is ideal for the two organisations in PNG to be part of PFM with its vision, mission and its objectives.
For meaningful socio-economic development to take place, there must be peace in the community, district, province and the nation as a whole.
PFM believes in community involvement, community taking ownership and is inclusive from the beginning in its training objectives.
It is a non-government, non-church organisation with a board of governors drawn from the government and private sectors, and is involved in research, community awareness and project work aimed at preventing crime, reducing violence and maintaining peace through community justice training.
The training package includes people skills, mediation, facilitation and negotiation skills and restoration justice.
People with these skills are known to have improved the quality of life in their communities and some peace is maintained.
Peace building is different from “peacemaking” and “peacekeeping”.
Peace building focuses on creating a long-term culture of peace rather than solving existing
conflicts or preventing old ones from re-occurring.
Peace building activities aim at building understanding and tolerance between individuals, communities and societies and establishing new structures of cooperation. The activities range in scale from personal acts of kindness towards others to global inter-governmental programmes.
Peace building is the construction of new environments and new cultures which transform deficient structures and capabilities which unite the strengths of emerging innovations in all pathways of our local-global planetary life.
Peace building creates and maintains beneficial conditions for sustainable (life-enhancing) social, economic, political and spiritual development of all peoples.
Pacific peace community
The UN Development Programme’s Pacific centre posed these two questions to the Pacific peace community:
1.How do you define peace in the Pacific?
2.What are the most important factors that contribute to building sustainable peace in the Pacific?
The responses have been far and varied. Some of these include “bringing joy and happiness to the lives of individuals, families, communities and the region where joy and happiness means enjoying the life in full as a whole person”.
As to what are the important factors, the same respondent stated: “Cultural values and its implications in society, understanding the changing environment and integrating traditional and modern ways.”
Another respondent had this to contribute: “Peace to me is seen when an individual is secured in heart, mind and is satisfied with things natural or personal that surrounds the person. Particularly, when certain issues, described as human security as applicable to that person, are met.”
And, what is important, he said: “Peace is built by addressing what makes a person whole. This may involve resolving conflicts within oneself, those that are around the person including close and extended family and having a value system that is recognised and appreciated within the community.”
For the many respondents, individual and family harmony they portrayed the “home” adopting certain values as the fundamental basis for peace being the message.
This must be the message in every household if PNG is to be a smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy society by 2050.
*Peter Donigi is the President of United Nations Association of PNG.