Peace messengers from around the world from the platform of World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Summit 2017 have extended their full support for the implementation of Declaration of the Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW).
Over 1,000 leaders and citizens came together for three days of intensive networking and celebration while developing an action agenda for world peace and cessation of war that reflects global citizens’ hopes and aspirations.
Everyone had a role in the peace-building process, so the Summit provided all groups with a platform to share ideas and create concrete strategies for developing cooperation for peace. Such idea is also clearly reflected in this year’s slogan “Together for peace as messengers of peace”, which showed the determination of all participants to work together for a world of peace and cessation of war.
3rd Annual Commemoration WARP Summit was held in Seoul, South Korea with the objectives to develop the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) into a legally binding form, to develop education and a culture of peace and to foster harmony amongst religions.
With peace and respect for life as its core values, Heavenly Culture, World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL) transcends culture, religion, ideology, and other boundaries to achieve peaceful harmony in the global society.
HWPL is committed to bringing world peace and cessation of war through the establishment of an enforceable law compatible with the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) and the World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) offices. Women and youth involved with HWPL’s peace initiatives play a significant role in both peace building and conflict resolution in their respective communities as active proponents of peace.
As support continues to grow worldwide for the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW), which was drafted and later proclaimed on 14 March 2016, efforts are now being taken towards the implementation and development of this declaration into a legally-binding document through its adoption by the United Nations.
The DPCW carries within itself the core values of human rights and a world free of war and conflict that set a universal standard of conduct that encompasses both states and individuals equally. It can be seen as the embodiment of a comprehensive legal approach that is essential in today’s globalized society for achieving sustainable peace.With the key message of collaborative peace governance in conjunction with the implementation of the DPCW, this conference allowed participants to understand the necessity of cooperation as well as the specific roles they can play within their respective fields in the peace building process.
Four main speakers were highlighted in this conference, each of whom shared with the audience a unique and personal aspect of peace that clearly demonstrated their sincere heart for the era of peace to begin.
These speeches captivated all participants and inspired them to carry out their individual duty as a messenger of peace and cooperate with others in order to create an unbreakable peace network.
All speakers greatly contributed to the atmosphere of the conference and challenged the other participants to actively strive for peace and create concrete solutions within their respective fields of expertise for peace and the implementation and development of the DPCW.
Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Justice and Buddhist affairs of Sri Lanka Sarathie Dushmantha Mithrapala, stated, “The causes of internal conflict are multiple and it behooves us to respect the human rights and religious beliefs of peoples irrespective of caste, creed, religion or ethnic origins of a peoples. I see the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War as a worthy endeavor to consolidate and stabilize peaceful relations in the world.
The Article relating to the illegal occupation of territory resulting from the threat or use of force in a manner contrary to international law is especially worthy of note. It is the duty of every state to respect the territorial integrity and political independence of other states.”
Ven. Oeun Sam Art, Head Office of Protocol and International Relations of Secretariat of Supreme Sangha Council of Cambodia participated on behalf of H.H Samdech Preah Agga Mahā Sangharājādhipati Tep Vong, in his concluding statement said that “War only brings ‘destruction and pain’. So, we are as state leaders, religious leaders, religious followers, youth and woman groups, and all people over the world must work together to stop all forms of war. No war, no suffering and no destruction. May all being be happy and peaceful”.
Deng Deng Hoc Yai, a minster of the Ministry of General Education and Instruction in South Sudan, spoke very directly, and it was clear that the hearts of all in attendance were moved when he stated that, “we have lost too many human lives very often and in many different parts of the world due to callous acts of incomprehensible indifference; intolerable intolerance and inexplicable selfishness,” showing the bleak reality of the current state of the international community.
Colonel Muana Brima Massaquoi, the military adviser of the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, reflected that “There is nothing more precious than the sanctity of life. In fact, all efforts made in the United Nations and international law is for the promotion of human rights. Disarmament of weapons is to safeguard the lives from the unnecessary destructive capabilities of weapons.
Chairman Lee received Plaques of Appreciation from several political leaders, including Sabri Saidam, Minister of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Palestine and Hon. Jean Max Rakotomamonjy, President of the National Assembly of Madagascar, in recognition and appreciation of his dedication to the various peace activities that he has initiated for the purpose of spreading a culture of peace.
Around 300 religious leaders representing many of the prominent religious communities worldwide, including but not limited to Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism, gathered under the theme of “Cooperation for the Realization of Religious Peace took an active part in the International Religious Leaders’ Conference on the third day of the 3rd Annual WARP Summit,.
All of the religious leaders who came together once again for this conference clearly displayed much greater confidence and determination for peace than in the event that was held in the previous year. The vibrant faces of all in attendance that were seen as they exchanged greetings with one another according to the customs of their respective religions was a strong indication of their high expectations for this conference.
During the Religious Leaders’ Conference at the last Summit, participants had agreed to unite together as one in search of the truth and compare religious scriptures in order to find a trustworthy standard.
In accordance with this promise, the work of doctrine comparison has been going on at the WARP Offices worldwide throughout this past year. As a result of these year-long efforts, we were able to witness the thorough explanation of the resulting data regarding the standard of a reliable scripture at this meeting.
In fact, the conference began with a 15-minute presentation concerning this data of the standard for a trustworthy scripture that was collected, as well as a brief summary of the future direction of the WARP Offices in 2018. It was shared that currently there are 218 WARP Offices operating in 126 countries around the world, which is simply amazing considering that this rapid expansion occurred in such a short amount of time.
Another attractive and productive activity of the WARP Summit was the Peace Festival. The family of peace, who had long waited this moment, shouted out the countdown and cheerfully greeted the opening of the Peace Festival.The card-section and various other performances aroused even greater joy at the festival, and the 35,000 participants in attendance, both domestic and from overseas, waved their world flags throughout these cultural events.
The Gate of the Peace, the representative symbol of the WARP Summit, had finally opened and leading figures from around the globe entered alongside children, who are the future proponents of peace, transcending differences in national borders, religions, and ideologies. The breathtaking entrance appeared to represent the beginning of the new era of no war, which is the ultimate dream of humanity.
The Gate of the Peace itself symbolizes the opening of a new era of peace by overcoming the crises faced by humanity that are caused by the threat of terrorism and by resolving the fundamental problems that scar the international community through the answer to peace.
Members of HWPL gave great cheers and applause with huge excitement as each figure made his or her entrance.
The final entrance was made by Man Hee Lee, the chairman of HWPL, and Nam Hee Kim, the chairwoman of IWPG, officially closing the entrance ceremony. They have continued the groundbreaking work of achieving peace by cooperating for peace with the figures who had previously entered, legislating the international law for world peace and cessation of war, and running the annual WARP Summit for the reconciliation of religions.
HWPL hosted an unprecedented peace festival in the only nation in the world that remains divided. It is now spreading the news to all parts of the globe in order to attain international cooperation that would bring about the cessation of war and establishment of sustainable peace.Over 150,000 people from more than 120 countries participated simultaneously, and six leaders representing political, religious, and civil society sectors gave truly inspiring presentation at the main stadium. The main points of these speeches were regarding the importance of peace education and the establishment of collaborative peace governance.
The level of awareness of people around the world has grown, as well the influence of the WARP Summit and HWPL in peace work. This era requires the establishment of collaborative peace governance among governments and NGOs and the formation of a comprehensive peace network for all members of society to join and work together for peace.
As the peace messengers of this era we ought to publicize the message of the DPCW and advocate for its legislation as a legally binding international law. Moreover, this message should be developed into various forms of campaigns through numerous peace events worldwide.
Peace must become a reality in our generation, which is possible when communication and a firm cooperative system is established. The terror and war still occurring today in different places around the world must come to an end during our lifetime.
‘Arirang,’ the Korean traditional song, resonated throughout the field following the award ceremony. The lyrics of this song conveyed the message ‘over the hills we go, into the world of peace.’ This was paired with the vibrant performances, including traditional musical instruments, dances, songs, and martial arts, that were beautifully put together to exhibit the scene of peace being achieved on Earth.
As the high-spirited performances of the fan-dancers, drummers and colorful banner performers continued, a Korean mask dance combined with martial arts displayed a breathtaking and animated spectacle of the end of wars and the global family of peace ambassadors bringing world peace.
The following performance of the Korean traditional percussion band ‘Cha-san Nong Ahk Dae’, playing along with a lively dance and folk music, filled the field with the vibrancy of a ‘Dae-Dong festival’, which means ‘to become one and big.’ This symbolized the place of unified global peace.
Hyun Ji Kang, a member IPYG as well as the performer of ‘Arirang’, shared how she prepared for the performance. “Getting ready for the peace Arirang performance of ‘not da ri balb ki’ (a traditional game where one walks across the backs of others), I learned about coming together and sacrificing for each other.
There are differences among nations, ethnicities, cultures, and religions. However, in the process of demonstrating world peace through Korean traditional culture, I have hoped for the world to become like the peace festival where there is no discrimination of any sort.”
The motto of HWPL, ‘Make peace as the legacy to pass on to the future generation’, has brought the family of peace together for one purpose: create world peace that transcends over the borders of nation and ethnicity.
In the waves of peace felt from the festival, all participants, who had different religions, cultures, and lifestyles, had the same heart desperately wishing for peace to be brought on Earth. The participants, numbering over one-hundred thousand, full of exhilaration and inspiration, rejoiced in the peace festival.
(Author is the President, Center Of Pakistan And International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor -in- Chief of ‘Mélange’)
The exchanges resulted in the arrival of 23 letters from the Mumbai school that were displayed during the exhibition.
Karachi: Of all the events organised earlier this week to focus on peace and cooperation between India and Pakistan, perhaps the most moving was an exhibition of letters exchanged between school students of the two countries; all of them offered glimpses of the artless, untutored and selfless love that binds one human being to another as nothing else can. The event was organised by a little known initiative, Aaghaz-i-Dosti (beginning of friendship), launched by two outfits, Hum Sub Aik Hein of Pakistan and Mission Bhartiam of India. They have been organising exchanges of greetings and solidarity messages between Indian and Pakistani schoolchildren for several years. They also facilitate conversations between these students on special occasions, such as the independence days of Pakistan and India. This year, a dialogue via video link was arranged in addition to greeting Indian friends from the banks of the Ravi where lamps for peace were lit. This year the contents of letters exchanged between the two sides went beyond expressions of friendship and solidarity. Last year, a schoolchild, Sharoon Patras, was killed in the Easter Day blast in a Lahore park. He was studying at a school in the city’s Youhanabad locality. A report of this incident made a strong impact on the minds of students at one of Mumbai’s prestigious schools and they wrote letters of sympathy to students at the Youhanabad school. The exchanges resulted in the arrival of 23 letters from the Mumbai school that were displayed during the exhibition.
Possibly the most touching of these letters is the one from a 13-year-old. He said he used to consider a child fortunate if he had modern toys and facilities for recreation and entertainment. But after the loss of life in the Lahore blast he thought a child is fortunate if he goes to school in the morning and is back home safe and sound by the evening. When the writers of these letters were shown by their class teachers photographs of the great gurdwara in Nankana Sahib, they were thrilled at discovering a bond of friendship with the people of Pakistan. A 13-year old girl, incidentally the daughter of actors Kajol and Devgan, wrote that when the class teacher “showed us an image of a temple swarmed by devotees, each one of us guessed that it had to be somewhere in India, the Golden Temple or the Tirupati temple or even the Siddhivinayak temple but when Ms T told us about how this image was, in fact, taken in Pakistan... then it hit us. We share much more than average neighbouring countries do, we share cultures, languages, festivals, but most of all we share history.”
Fortunately, these children have not lost their innocence and have not been diverted from pleasurable pursuits. Says one of them: “I turned 13 a few months ago and have a passion for dance, drama, music, art, football, among some other pastimes that I enjoy. My grandparents actually came from Sindh... I definitely believe in reaching a resolution through the means of peace.” These letters confirm what many persons of goodwill have always maintained, that children in India and Pakistan are by and large still free from hatred for each other and retain their ability to perceive in peaceful cooperation a better future for the subcontinent’s teeming millions. The young volunteers responsible for organising Aaghaz-i-Dosti are not the first to discover the children’s and youth’s potential for persuading the people of the subcontinent to abandon the mutually suicidal path of conflict and confrontation. Possibly both governments are afraid of people-to-people contacts, especially between the youth and children. But these barriers can be retained only at the unbearable cost of total disaster. Let more children from India and Pakistan talk peace to one another.
Female members of Argentina's human rights group, Madres de Plaza de Mayo, march during a rally in 2003
Switzerland is taking further steps to implement an international resolution that aims to increase the participation of women in the peace process.
A revised national action plan was discussed at a conference in Bern this week organised by the Swiss foreign ministry. The plan sets out how Switzerland can apply United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, unanimously adopted ten years ago.
It was on October 31, 2000 that for the first time, the international community explicitly recognised the impact of armed conflict on women and the importance of involving them in peace processes.
“To date there are 17 nations that have put together a national strategy with the aim of implementing the objectives outlined in Resolution 1325,” Swiss Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini told the conference.
The former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Georgia spoke at the meeting where discussions focussed on Switzerland’s revised national action plan, which was first released in 2007.
“The aim is to increase the percentage of women in organisations that promote peace,” Tagliavini explained.
Victims of armed conflict
Despite the good intentions, there has been little change on the ground. Women are still in the minority in the police force and army, as well as in the political realm. For the most part, they are recognised as the victims of the consequences of armed conflict: poverty, abuse, disease and emigration.
“Ten years on, the results are generally positive but at the same time alarming,” Tagliavini said. “Resolution 1325 is without a doubt one of the principle instruments defending the rights of women in war zones, but it’s still not enough.
“According to a study by the UN Development Fund for Women (Unifem), there have been 24 important peace processes since 1992 but only 3.2 per cent of the mediators and 5.5 per cent of the observers were women. How is it possible to achieve long lasting and durable peace if half of the population is excluded even before the start [of negotiations].”
The participation of women in peace processes is even more important in a context in which traditional patterns appear to have been altered.
“We must overcome the old illusion that women are only victims of conflicts,” said Elisabeth Decrey-Warner, president and co-founder of the non-government organisation, Geneva Call. “Like men, women can be responsible for war and therefore part of this hell.”
There is a widespread sentiment that to guarantee security in the 21st century, women’s involvement could be more important than throwing up a missile shield over Europe.
The fact is that the issue of women suicide bombers in Afghanistan or women rebels in Africa or Latin America cannot be addressed just from a man’s perspective.
On the one hand, Resolution 1325 wants to see women sitting at the negotiating table, and on the other promote their direct involvement in the field. At times, a female presence in a conflict zone can be indispensible in overcoming cultural and religious barriers. Women soldiers can more easily inspect - and show respect - for Muslim women at checkpoints, can win the trust of victims of sexual abuse and according to some, have a positive impact on predominantly male troops.
Despite the rhetoric, it is not always easy to assume the role of peacemaker in a predominantly male conflict. Tagliavini has first-hand experience. “For a woman, integrity and credibility are fundamental to survival in patriarchal countries like those in the Caucasus. It’s not easy to initiate a dialogue. We have to give men more time to get used to the idea of sitting across the table from a woman…”
Education and information are crucial for laying the groundwork for equal representation. In Nepal, for example, Switzerland organised different conferences and meetings for women and political parties to raise awareness of the issue.
Nepalese women have played a particularly active role in the national conflict as either leaders and fighters for the Maoist cause, army members or supporters of the peace movement. Despite their contributions, they have been largely excluded from their country’s democratisation process.
The Swiss presence in Nepal is only one example of Swiss government actions taken as part of Resolution 1325. The revisions introduced to the Swiss National Action Plan were done in collaboration with various NGOs.
“For the first time, the plan sets specific objectives for different departments and involved parties,” explained Ursula Keller, responsible for the contributions of the foundation, swisspeace. “In this way, it will be much easier to evaluate results and make the necessary adjustments in 2012.”
Among the objectives are the promotion of women candidates in regional and international organisations and an increase of the female quota in Switzerland’s expert pool to 40 per cent.
The government is also making efforts to strengthen the prevention of sexual abuse and favours sending special observers to high-risk countries.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Swiss strategy will change the lives of women in Afghanistan or Congo,” admitted Keller. “But it’s a strong commitment on the part of Switzerland and should be welcomed.”
There is still a lot to do ten years after the adoption of Resolution 1325. One thing though is certain: “Peace building is a task for all humanity,” concluded Decrey-Warner. To achieve this “women must start fighting for everyone and not just other women”.
Women in armed conflict
According to the UN Development Fund for Women (Unifem), as much as 90 per cent of casualties are among civilians, most of whom are women and children. Women in war-torn societies can face specific and devastating forms of sexual violence, which are sometimes deployed systematically to achieve military or political objectives.
Women are the first to be affected by infrastructure breakdown, as they struggle to keep families together and care for the wounded. And women may also agree to sexual exploitation to survive and support their families.
Even after conflict has ended, the impacts of sexual violence persist, including unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and stigmatisation. Widespread sexual violence itself may continue or even increase in the aftermath of conflict, as a consequence of insecurity and impunity.
Two nuns and two Muslim women warmly exchange smiles and pleasantries during an interfaith gathering at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño on Tuesday to pray for peace in Mindanao as the war in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, continues. CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO
THEY may differ in religion.
But Christians and Muslims in Cebu set aside religious differences and came together for one purpose — peace.
About 200 persons from different religions gathered at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño’s open-air Pilgrim Center at past 4 p.m. on Tuesday to pray for peace in the country, particularly in Mindanao.
They uttered prayers, sang chants and rang the bells to extol peace and unity among all Filipinos regardless of culture, race and religion.
“In the midst of war and distress, our ultimate refuge is prayer. We succumb to unity rather than diversity. No religion wants war, terrorism and violence. What we want is peace,” said Fr. Pacifico “Jun” Nohara, OSA, rector of the centuries-old basilica.
“And if there is one more gift we ask from God, that would be peace. It is time for humanity to live in peace, harmony and love,” he added.
Ustadz Rasul Najib, president of the Voice of Islam Foundation in Cebu and chairman of the Council of Elders in the Visayas, said Muslims also long for peace.
Terrorists who sow terror in the name of Islam, Najib said, are misguided extremists who need to revisit their beliefs.
“Islam is a religion of peace. It is not a religion of violence as some people think. It teaches us that all human beings are brothers. We need to respect each other. We need to protect each other. We need to love each other. We need to build tranquility and peace among us,” said Najib.
Violence today, he stressed, is perpetrated by a few radicals who he said deviated from the teachings of Islam.
“They contextualize Islam in their own understanding. They have deviated from the right path. These extremists are condemned by Muslims in general.”
Of about two billion Muslims around the world, Najib said about 50,000 are involved in terror groups.
“What they are doing is not only against Christianity and other religions. It is against the law of God and humanity. We abhor what they do. They do not belong to our community. They are not part of us, and we are not part of them. They are misguided individuals,” he stressed.
Najib expressed hopes that Muslims who take part in terrorism will be enlightened and will return to the right path.
“We ask God to unite our hearts with the rest of humanity. May the Lord open our hearts so we may share among ourselves as one people — Muslims and Christians — and as Filipinos in this country. Give us the chance to work for peace in our country,” Najib said.
The “Interfaith Prayer for Peace” was organized by the Commission on Social Advocacies of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who was in Manila on Tuesday, was represented by Msgr. Daniel Sanico, the vicar general of the archdiocese.