Building peace from the ground up
Etsuko Teranishi, left, and David Chick, both former peace fellows, talk during a break at the Rotary World Peace Symposium. Both led breakout sessions on development issues. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
Creating lasting peace and facing the challenges to peace-building in the 21st century were some of the topics discussed at the second Rotary World Peace Symposium.
Humankind stands at a crossroads, said Paul Rogers, an expert in international security, at the opening plenary session on Thursday, 18 June.
"The period between 1945 and 2045 will be the century where we will have to learn to live with the ability to destroy ourselves," said Rogers, a professor of peace studies at the University of Bradford, home to one of the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution. Nations tend to fall back on military options to resolve conflict rather than looking at underlying factors, he said.
The two-day symposium in Birmingham, England, providesa forum for lively discussion and networking opportunities for hundreds of Rotary World Peace Fellows, alumni, peace experts, and Rotarians. Topics discussed at the symposium included migration, development, religion, and ethnicity.
In his talk about the role of development in peace-building, David Chick, a 2005-07 peace fellow from Australia, discussed his field experience in Papua New Guinea, where he worked as director for Pacific programs at AusAID.
"Development is giving an individual an opportunity to use his or her talents to benefit society," said Chick. And simple projects can be effective, he added.
For example, to curb roadside assaults, rapes, and thefts, Chick devised a simple communications plan so local officials could use inexpensive megaphones to make announcements to roadside vendors about safety. Violence decreased, and "the megaphones became the biggest show in town, sometimes attracting as many as 5,000 people gathering to listen," said Chick. "It was low cost but also built a lasting security by involving beneficiaries in the process."
Etsuko Teranishi, a 2005-07 peace fellow from Japan who has worked for nongovernmental organizations in Cambodia and Indonesia, said that after a peace agreement is signed, the real work begins. "It is critical to focus on working toward political, social, and economic development that will sustain peace," said Teranishi. "Economic development is really part of the peace-building process."
Rogers said he was optimistic about the future, adding that Rotary World Peace Fellows will help drive the peace agenda forward, an observation reiterated by Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Jonathan B. Majiyagbe.
"Rotary's investment in peace in the world is reaping rewards through the Rotary Centers program," Majiyagbe said.