Commemorating The International Peace Day 2015, With The Women In Peace And Security Network
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September. The first Peace Day was observed in September 1982. However, in 2001, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282, which established 21st September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire with central focus on the cessation of hostilities during the day, and to otherwise commemorate the day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
Yet despite this effort, the world continues to be rocked by violent conflicts. World Bank figures are blood curdling: about 1.2billion people (1/5 of the world's population) are affected by insecurity and some form of violence. This begs the question; 'How do we negotiate through these paths of violent conflict, to a peaceful world?
One truism is this; it is more difficult to make peace when violent conflicts had already begun. At this time, tempers are flared, and megalomaniac ego had kicked in. So the best time to fight for peace, is under peaceful conditions. That is why I rate UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon's dedication of the 2013 International Peace Day to "Peace Education" as the most significant step taken by the United Nations towards World Peace. I sincerely believe that the best time to plan for peace, is when there is peace. The need to plan for peace, in times of peace is the reason why the celebration of the 2015 International Peace Day in Rivers State, becomes very important.
We like to think that there are no crises situations in Rivers State at the moment, but we forget that every day, women and girls continue to be victims of violent abuses. We forget that what we enjoy today is at best 'negative peace' as positive peace can only come about when we put in place conditions that will neutralize the emergence of conflict situations, or any form of violence against persons. We are enjoying peace now? Well, we should not forget that the line between peace and conflict is thinner that the proverbial line between love and hate. For me, I have always believed that the real war against war is to fight for peace.
World Peace Day gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate the conditions that impede peace. Which is why in addition to just commemorating peace, the focus of the international community turns to other salient issues as well. For instance, we have the #EndChildPoverty movement that is linked to this year's commemoration. This project is hinged on the simple belief that if children have the opportunity to have access to the basic needs of life, the possibility of them becoming champions of conflicts will reduce.
Down here in Rivers State, the Women in Peace and Security Network is using the commemoration of the International Peace Day as an opportunity to call for the implementation of the State Action Plan(SAP) of the UNSCR 1325. The link is simple; violence against women and girls detract from peace. Also, the participation of women in peace building, and conflict resolution/mitigation helps bring peace, while also preventing future occurrences of crises.
Everything about our existence in life is yoked to peace. Without peace, we might as well not be. That is why in strict adherence to the theme of this year’s International Day for Peace (Partnership for Peace; Dignity for All), we must all join hands and together, preserve the dignity of our race.
That is what this year's commemoration means to us, and on the 21st of September, 2015, Women in Peace and Security Network will partner with the Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs in a multi-stakeholder press conference where stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Women Affairs will state their commitments towards lasting peace in Rivers State.
The Ministry of Women Affairs is expected to field questions on what plans they have on ground to ensure that safe spaces are provided for abused women in Rivers State, while also stating what concrete plans they have on ground to ensure increased participation of women in governance, and conflict resolution/mitigation. The thesis that frames it all is the belief that if women are safe, and if they participate actively in governance and conflict resolution/mitigation, then society would have taken a definitive step towards peaceful co-existence.