Well, there is a day dedicated each year to the cessation of hostilities and to public awareness of issues related to peace. It’s the International Day of Peace, established by the United Nations in 1981 and observed on September 21st since 1982. This year’s theme is “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future”. Our challenge is to create peace and maintain it for much longer than one day per year.
The root causes of many conflicts are directly related to the handling of valuable natural resources such as diamonds, gold, oil or timber. The mining and distribution of the rare earth mineral, coltan, required in the manufacturing of cell phones and laptops, fuels the violence in the Republic of Congo. The access to potable water continues to be a flashpoint for violence in the Middle East and that violence will only become more common elsewhere as climate change proceeds. According to the Universal Peace Federation “armed conflicts rob people of the opportunity to develop, create jobs, safeguard the environment, fight poverty, reduce the risk from disasters, advance social equity and ensure that everyone has enough to eat”. Good natural resource management can play a central role in preventing conflicts and building sustainable peace.
What can we do to create peace and maintain it? Many celebrate the International Day of Peace by lighting a candle and observing one minute of silence, attending a rally for reconciliation or starting a community service project. If you are a combatant, lobby to cease fire for 24 hours, at least. We all can insist through letters, phone calls, e-mails, and our vote that our governments in conjunction with the United Nations –
We need a future where natural resources are protected for the common good rather than used to finance wars, where children are educated at school, not recruited to war, where economic and social inequities are resolved through dialogue, not violence.
For ways to celebrate Peace Day check out www.teachpeacenow.org