[This contribution reflects the opinions of the co-founders]

21 September, a day unanimously established by the United Nations in 1981 as the International Day of Peace. A day dedicated to the commitment of all humanity in building peace beyond all differences.

15 September 2017, the United Nations marks the 36th anniversary of the International Day of Peace a week earlier than the official date due to the 72nd session of the General Assembly. This year’s theme: Together for Peace – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All. Dedicated to everyone forced to flee their homes, TOGETHER is a global campaign which promotes diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.

28 September 2017, a week on since the International Day of Peace, the Global Observers want to remind everyone that the commitment needs to be continuous.

The world today faces numerous serious challenges, from global terrorism to cyberattacks, from inequalities to suppressions of human rights, just to name a few. While war economies continue to thrive, real economies are suffering. But “War is never inevitable. It is always a matter of choice: the choice to exclude, to discriminate, to marginalise, to resort to violence. By restoring trust between governments and their citizens and amongst Member States, we can prevent and avoid conflict. But peace, too, is never inevitable. It is the result of difficult decisions, hard work and compromise. We should never take it for granted; but should prize and nurture it in every country, at every time.”[1]

We live in an era of a worldwide contest of powers, where both cooperation and conflicts occur simultaneously on various dimensions. People are more consciously wondering how the world works, but they usually tend to assume that cooperation and conflict are mutually exclusive. However, if one explores the evolution of our civilisation will realise that, in most of the cases, conflicts are the catalyst of change and cooperation. Take for instance the establishment of the International Commission for the Red Cross and the creation of the Geneva Conventions. If Henry Dunant had not seen the consequences of the battle of Solferino and then wrote his inspiring book, the international community would have not been motivated to cooperate and put a limit on wars. Similarly, the devastating experiences of both World Wars led to the creation of the League of Nations and the United Nations in order to promote international cooperation. The same goes for the creation of the European Union. It is a truism that if European countries did not face the realities of frequent and bloody wars, they would have probably not united themselves to secure lasting peace. Therefore, in times of conflicts people express an underlying human unity, which under other circumstances is usually forgotten. This unity within diversity is what leads to cooperation.

How can we then achieve this unity?

We need to build bridges and connections between cultures, religions and ethnicities. Our societies are becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural, and there is a growing need to restore trust. Trust which can be attained through dialogue, inter-cultural understanding and mutual respect of diversity.

As Global Observers we embrace this philosophy. We are determined to help break down the barriers between people, and contribute in fostering peaceful and inclusive societies. Societies which universally respect human rights for all. Societies which respect race, religion, ethnicity and cultural diversity. Societies which invest in the education of all children, and allow youth to reach their full potential. Societies which respect and protect the natural environment. Societies which provide equal opportunities of economic growth.

You may think that we are dreamers, but we are not the only ones. Inaction is no longer an option. The cost of inaction is simply too high. And we, the people, have already paid enough. We need a change, and we need it now. Margaret Mead once wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. We are small, but we are committed to make this world a better place for everyone. Our commitment to peace is continuous.

[1] Secretary-General’s remarks to the Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace”, 10 January 2017.

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