Towards a Peaceful existence
Together for Peace- Respect, Safety and Dignity for All
In celebration of the 2017 International Peace Day on 21st September 2017 which coincided with the 72nd United Nations General Assembly meeting. The United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN), United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos and Department of International Law and Jurisprudence, University of Lagos held a symposium on the theme ‘Together for PEACE- Respect, Safety and Dignity for All’.
The program started with a welcome address by Mrs Bolanle Olumeko representative of the UNIC director. She spoke briefly on the theme and encouraged young people to help in achieving peace by volunteering to welcome refugees and internally displaced persons in their environment and extending hands of friendship to them.
The Chair of the occasion was Ambassador Olusegun Akinsanya. He spoke on the essence of having peace in a society. In his words, ‘you need to imbibe peace to be able to promote decent living and curb migration’. Youth radicalism and extremism are trends driving youths towards unrest and these trends need to stop for stability to be achieved in our society.
Peace is not only the absence of war; it includes freedom from want and ability to have the economic empowerment to face the vicissitudes of life.
Dr. Ige addressed the topic ‘the search for peace in a divided world: an African feminist perspective’. International Peace Day was created by the UN in 1981 by the General Assembly as a result of the rising level of intra-state conflict which contrasts with the objectives of the UN. Article 1 of the UN Charter states that the aim of the UN is to maintain International peace and security and take steps towards achieving this objective. Over 250 major wars have been fought since World War 2. Over 37 million people have been killed in wars and 90% of war casualties were civilians consisting mainly of women and children. It is estimated that there are 300,000 children soldiers in the world. Globally, 8 billion dollars is spent on security which is more than the revenue of the poorest country in the world. Imagine if these 8 billion dollars was channelled towards the SDGs, the progress of the SDGs would be very remarkable today. This highlights the importance of world peace which is a panacea for the achievement and development of the SDGs. Peace can be achieved in the following ways:
- Ensuring human rights and social justice– social justice enables citizens to fully develop and achieve their goals. Human rights are universal and apply to all persons. No one should be denied any of his rights without a rationally justifiable reason.
- Eradicating poverty and progressive development- about 100 million people worldwide live in impoverished slums and settlements. This threatens peace as citizens’ resort to all sorts of unsocial behaviours in order to survive. The government should be more accountable to the development of citizens by providing better living conditions
- Equal opportunities for all– this is needed to assuage ill feelings. There should be no discrimination based on gender, religion, race or colour. #EndDiscrimination. How a State treats its women determines how far the society would develop.
General Williams addressed the topic ‘Religion, Money, Competition & Selfie- why peace and security do not exist’. We need to build bridges of friendship between communities and not dams in order to achieve peace and stability. Conflict is inevitable, but we must look for amicable ways to resolve it. In order to achieve peace and security, we need to answer the following questions;
- What territorial, political, social, values, cultural and economic interests do you want to protect?
- How do citizens define and perceive safety, security and stability?
- Can we all agree on those definitions and perceptions?
- What risks will threaten the citizens?
Regional co-operations such as AU, ECOWAS should work together with member States to foster peace and security thereby reducing the pressure on the UN. There is the need for Academics and informed citizens to be more involved in politics instead of leaving it to the hands of people who have no idea of what governance entails.
Victoria Ibiwoye of OneAfricanChild addressed the topic ‘Together for Peace: what does it take to be a peace builder?’ Many people consider that peacebuilding is beyond their capabilities and should be left in the hands of professionals. This, however, is a wrong notion. You can be an entrepreneur and still be a peace builder by creating jobs for other people thereby reducing their chances of partaking in acts which lead to extremism and radicalism.
Who are peace builders? Peace builders are persons who:
- Tone down arguments;
- Mediate conflicts;
- Help people in their neighbourhoods;
- Work for Charities;
- Advocate for the marginalized.
Education is very important to peacebuilding as it empowers people and changes their views on world issues. It is not enough to know the problems of other people, we need to show concern and proffer solutions because we live in an interconnected world and our neighbour’s problem is equally ours. OneAfricanChild promotes peace by teaching children in low-income communities on ethical perspectives of world issues beyond their immediate environment through role play, simulation exercises, movies on conflict resolution; recruiting youth volunteers to teach children and serve as role models to the children. Youths should not only be beneficiaries but partners in the peacebuilding process.
In conclusion, we should strive to achieve inner peace because Nemo dat quod non habeat, we can’t give what we don’t have. It is when we are at peace with ourselves that we can be at peace with our neighbours and communities at large. To truly achieve peace, security and stability, we can ask ourselves these four questions before doing any act:
- Is it the Truth?
- Is it Fair to all concerned?
- Will it bring Goodwill and better Friendship?
- Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?
The World is big enough for EVERYONE to develop their full potential. There is no need for Violence and Hatred as it leads us NOWHERE but CHAOS. We are in a Global Community and it is our duty to put things in the right Perspective.” -Mazeedah