With the help of Rotarians, peace centers bring hope to world
Advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace is a part of Rotary’s mission, but to accomplish this in a world strewn with conflict takes commitment. Rotarians are working toward that goal by supporting the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution and the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program.
Nearly 400 Rotary peace program participants, alumni, faculty, and Rotarians gathered 14 to 16 June for the first Rotary World Peace Symposium in Salt Lake City to discuss how alumni and participants of the two programs can work to resolve conflicts worldwide.
"Finding the path to world peace and understanding is not a spectator sport. It is fully participatory," Past RI President Charles C. Keller told attendees. "Mankind in the world as we know it cannot survive the continued use of war as a means of settling our disputes."
If Rotarians don't support the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution and the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program, "the cost of failure will be borne by every man, woman, and child on this planet in some way – either directly or indirectly," said Keller.
Located at seven leading universities around the world, the Rotary Centers provide fellows the chance to study in a graduate-level program in conflict resolution, peace studies, international relations, and other related disciplines. The Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program is a shorter program aimed at professionals in governments and other agencies.
Throughout the symposium, speakers talked about the dire need for peaceful ways to end violent conflicts.
"We truly live in a bloody and cruel world. The statistics numb us," said Edward Blender, chair of the Rotary Centers Major Gift Initiative. To continue the peace programs into perpetuity, the Rotary Centers Major Gift Initiative is seeking to create a $95 million endowment fund by 2015.
On any given day, said Blender, there are 20 to 30 armed conflicts in the world. In the last 15 years, 3.6 million people – 45 percent of whom are children – have died due to civil and ethnic wars and violence.
Disease, war, and conflict disintegrates societies, added UN Foundation senior adviser Gillian Sorensen. In volatile regions of the world, lethal brews of hopelessness, anger, and frustration make some people feel that combat gives them a purpose and a place to belong…The work of the Peace Fellows, however, is reason for hope. She called upon the Peace Fellows to be "the first guard of a mighty peaceful army."
Rotarians can help the programs by securing funding as well as finding well-qualified candidates - especially from areas facing conflict – and encouraging them to apply for the programs.
"We need the continued financial support from Rotary clubs and districts all over the world," said Keller. "Someday, one or more of our Rotary Peace Fellows will be in the right place at the right time to make a really big difference, and then Rotarians everywhere will know our search for peace is working."
Learn more about gift and endowment opportunities