International Day of Peace 2015

 

On 21st September 2015 UNANZ partnered with the Wanganui Branch, Operation Peace Through Unity, and the Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown, to celebrate the International Day of Peace at a seminar held in the Legislative Council Chamber at Parliament on the theme “Partnerships for Peace Dignity for All”.

 

UNANZ National President, Dr Graham Hassall, opens the Partnerships for Peace - Dignity for All  Seminar

 

Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown (left) and UNANZ President of Whanganui Branch (right), addresses the audience.

 

Dr Kennedy Graham, M.P. (left) address the Audience and (right) Dr Graham Hassall and Ambassador Robert Zaagman at the end of the talks.

Presentations were made by Dr Kennedy Graham, MP (the invincible power of the community spirit), Mrs. Rosslyn Noonan (Human Rights as a key part of meeting sustainable development goals, locally and globally), Sir Kenneth Keith (constructive criticisms of SDGs), Dr Jay Shaw (the concept of oneness as a solution to personal, social and global problems), Professor Brad Jackson (leadership),  Ambassador Robert Zaagman (The Netherlands’ approach to sustainable development and peace through multilateralism), and Dr Sung Yong Lee, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago University (Peace and Conflicts Studies perspective of positive peace). 

 It was a very well attended seminar with a panel discussion at the end.  Our Programmes Manager, Gracielli Ghizzi-Hall compiled the following report of the proceedings.

1. Background
For the United Nations 2015 International Day of Peace, UNANZ and OPTU chose to highlight the importance of sustainable development in creating a culture of peace by organizing a forum based on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. They asked people from around NZ to respond with their thoughts on the sustainable development goals and locally achievable actions to meet them.
The sustainable development goals as summarised in nine points were drawn from the United Nations Declaration ‘Transforming our world by 2030: A New Agenda for Global Action.’ Contributors responded to these nine points and shared other comments.

The nine points of the New Agenda are:
- End poverty and hunger
- Secure education, health and basic services for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Combat inequalities within and between countries
- Foster inclusive economic growth, shared prosperity and sustainable lifestyles for all
- Promote safe and inclusive cities and human settlements
- Protect the planet, fight climate change, use natural resources sustainably and safeguard our oceans
- Strengthen governance and promote peaceful, safe, just and inclusive societies
- Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

While we asked for local actions, many contributors gave global actions too, recognising the interconnectedness of local and global contexts. The responses form the basis of the proposed actions and are summarized below.
The summary was sent to the keynote speaker and panelists as a starting point for sharing their own responses to the nine points at the forum on September 21st. The summaries of their speeches given on the day are included after the summaries of the contributions.
Overall, this summary document provides a solid overview of citizens, academics and government representative views on the SDGs. It suggests further actions to be taken by each and every one of us.



2. Summary of contributions
Invitations to contribute were distributed widely throughout the country. UNANZ and OPTU received fifteen responses from around Aotearoa NZ. While this is a small proportion of the invitations sent, it represents a range of sources. Replies came from six individuals, two UN Associations, two embassies, a business network, a university faculty, a university club and two regional organisations.
Some responses were more comprehensive than others, but when combined provide a good spread of thoughts and actions to meet all nine points. Some actions are already taking place while others were aspirational suggestions. For example, one individual argued that all nine points could be addressed by a local and international volunteer scheme. The broadness of the nine points allowed them to be interpreted in a variety of ways, leading to diverse but interconnected responses for local and global actions. The intertwined nature of the goals meant some answers applied to more than one point. Indeed, the recurring theme was the need for a holistic approach to development.
Overall, the responses to all of the points stressed the imperative to build communities. Suggested actions focused on ways to support the most vulnerable in society: the young, the old and the poor. Actions also focused on how the environment could be restored in a way that helps support marginalized groups by strengthening communities.

Below are the main points made by contributors to each point:
- End poverty and hunger
Local: build communities through such measures as feeding kids in schools, community gardens, foodbanks, communal living to combat rising living costs and isolation of old/young, heritage seeds donations for home gardens, and restoration of environment, living wage, support for social services for the poor.
Global: improving aid through increased government accountability; food security: reduce vulnerability of farmers, farming practices, reduce trade barriers, and fund agricultural research.
- Secure education, health and basic services for all
Local: Dry homes, heritage crops/permaculture, and accessibility to low cost healthcare, improve ‘health literacy.’
Connectivity: computer/internet access for all kids.
Tertiary education: interdisciplinary discussion and research.
Community Adult literacy/numeracy programs.
Global: holistic healthcare, importance of sexual and reproductive health
Comment: an individual suggested that this point was far too broad to adequately address.
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Local: support women’s organisations and advocacy groups; paid parental leave and quality child care to all income levels; support diversity and equality in the workplace.
Global: more leadership and political participation for women; realizing the obligations following the UN-Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; economic self-sufficiency of women; elimination of violence against women.
- Combat inequalities within and between countries
Local: build community centres and hubs of services; promotion of pride in place.
Global: larger countries support smaller countries in a way that recognizes our interdependence with our neighbours; promote social protection; a better distribution of income and equal opportunities by creating decent jobs and a proper functioning labour market.
An Embassy suggested: “Inequality between countries originates partly in the unequal distribution of the profits of natural resources. There is a need for: 1) transparency in the administration of revenues from the extraction of natural resources, 2) a just balance between the use of water, energy, land, ecosystems and social capital, 3) strengthening the legal framework for legal extraction through anti-corruption measures and transparency.”
- Foster inclusive economic growth, shared prosperity and sustainable lifestyles for all
Local: reduction of waste, recycling, community self-sufficiency, reform tax system
Global: restructure economy so money loses “its dominant position.” Creation of holistic policy.
An Embassy suggested: “Key pillars of a sustainable society are thus: renewable energy, sustainable use of raw materials, sustainable transport, a knowledge economy and smart growth.”
Comment: an individual suggested these objectives are incompatible.
- Promote safe and inclusive cities and human settlements
Local: effective liquor regulations, civic pride, cultural diversity, support for council flats and state housing.
Global: elimination of slum-like conditions in cities, sustainable transport, road safety, air quality, integrated urban planning, economic growth and natural resource management
- Protect the planet, fight climate change, use natural resources sustainably and safeguard our oceans
Local: Vegetarianism and permaculture; sustainable, efficient businesses; good waste management especially for apartments.
Global: an ambitious level in international climate negotiations; the integration of climate in development policy; fostering strategic alliances with NGOs, research institutions and private companies; disaster risk reduction; gender as cornerstone of an ambitious climate policy.
- Strengthen governance and promote peaceful, safe, just and inclusive societies
Local/global: restorative justice, cooperation with local Iwi, refugee support/migrant crisis, voter responsibility, rule of law, public participation in political processes, network of complementary cooperation, inclusion of ageing population and the inclusion of young people in the decision making process of local Councils. Critical view of local and national governments.

An individual said, “Young people need to be included in all parts of community life so they can be trained in governance and an achievable succession plan can be put in place for the governance of community organisations and charities.”
- Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
NB: this point links to the official theme for Peace Day, ‘Partnerships for Peace - Dignity for All.’
Local/global: networking, info dissemination, “wide-spectrum” conference to set policy direction, workshops for local change and transformation through collaboration, social media campaigns. NGO participation in international forums.
One contributing organisation had established partnerships with local media organisations to deliver a radio program designed to encourage youth leadership in the Pacific.

On partnerships in the Pacific Region:
“For Pacific CSOs, the emerging themes evolved around: climate change being a trigger for rethinking; reviewing what is considered the “Pacific Way”; rethinking the role and contribution of CSOs as development actors in our own right; rethinking Pacific regionalism, given that the Pacific Plan review by Pacific Islands Forum leaders and the establishment of the new Pacific Islands Development Forum. Over the past 18 months, a number of other priority issues have emerged from the Rethinking discussions including: Spirituality; Pacific Island cultural Identity; Resilient Development; Gender Equality and women’s empowerment; Communication for Development; and Next Generation leadership.”

Another contributor said: “2015 is an important year for international cooperation. The Millennium goals have proven to be successful in a number of areas such as poverty reduction and primary education for children.” However, they, “underwrite that the world is in need of new ambitious goals for the coming decades.” They added that many goals were not complete, such as the goal of poverty reduction. It was halved but not, “banished completely.”
- Other comments:
From an individual: “We must foster fellow-feeling and love towards all living beings, so we achieve harmony and peace at both social and global levels.”
From an individual: “I would like to propose an International Conference on “Harmony and Peace” or “World Peace Summit”, so that diverse organisations of different countries are represented at this conference… At local level, we can organise a conference of the societies registered with the City Council, so that we can form a forum for the realisation of the values/goals mentioned in the Charter of the United Nations.”
From a contributor: “The nine points listed for transforming our world by 2030, are one and the same, differentiated only by perspective. The underlying truth is that transformation is brought by individuals. We are the source of all our troubles, so individually we are also the solution through a change of heart.”
On the nine points: “These points are so vague that it is all too easy to applaud them and hard to identify specific changes.”
On education of the electorate: “Desirable for more news attention to serious reportage and discussion, less on sensational reportage of criminal and anti-social aberrations.”
On Whanganui, NZ: “The community spirit is alive and well, but more obvious in emergency situations – recent flood assistance.”

3. Summary of keynote address by Dr Kennedy Graham, MP
Topic: the invincible power of the community spirit

Dr Graham explored how community spirit inspires a global movement in support of a culture of peace. He defined community, spirit and the power that defines spirit. He hesitated to use the word invincible because he felt it has aggressive implications. Also, humanity and human inventions are not invincible. But we do need true peace in this century. The UN charter defines two kinds of peace at an international level: the absence of armed conflict and universal peace. The latter is the kind of peace sought by the power of community spirit. It is aspirational and will be attained, “when those necessary conditions are embraced by the global community of peoples.” The SDGs are a step towards those conditions because they provide cohesion and innovation essential to spirit. Dr Graham then stepped back from ‘high theory’ to consider the disorder we see in the world today. He suggested that, “the dynamism and disorder we see today has to do with the fomenting of the global community.” He said:
“The global community of peoples is still in the formative process. It is being forged in the fires of armed conflict, the continuing contestation of ideas, the increasing free-flow of migrants, our self-perception of the planet from space, and the instantaneity of the internet.”
Dr Graham then considered what is needed to steer the formation of a global community in positive ways. He suggested we take on the identity of responsible global citizens. However, we must define global citizen more broadly than in a strict legal sense as linked to a national polity for it to have meaning. There is no global community as such, but a global narrative is emerging that will allow one to be. Dr Graham considered the importance of the concept of loyalty to citizenship and offered some thoughts on global constitutionalism and the progression of human thought from national to global.
Dr Graham finished by saying that the philosophical underpinnings of a global community are there even if the formal requirements are not yet. He suggests that the difference between today and the context of Kantian thought is not normative but imperative. Today we are asking, “Will we survive?” He finished by saying, “Is this global community spirit invincible? Only time will tell.”

4. Summary of panelist’s speeches
The six panelists were asked to respond to ‘Transforming our world by 2030: A New Agenda for Global Action’ from their own areas of expertise. The panelists spoke for around seven minutes each and built on suggestions made by the contributors.
The panelist’s speeches are summarized below.
Mrs. Rosslyn Noonan
Focus: Human Rights as a key part of meeting sustainable development goals, locally and globally.
Mrs. Noonan focused on the importance of human rights to Transforming our world by 2030. Human rights permeate the global agenda, and it is essential to act for human rights locally. She said, thanks to the Treaty of Waitangi, human rights in the very foundations of NZ. The Treaty is at the heart of our identity and has been kept alive by Maori.
Mrs. Noonan gave some examples of other times citizens have campaigned to ensure human rights are upheld in our legislation, such as:
- 1893 Women’s suffrage
- 1930s welfare state
- 1940s active advocacy for the inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted at the UN in Paris on 10 December 1948)
- Rosslyn added that the Human Rights Declaration might be the only agenda for action we need.
- 1970s/80s Waitangi Tribunal and Treaty settlement process
- 2000s Leadership on the development of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Marriage equality act
- Nuclear free
The above were all the result of communities claiming their rights and organizing campaigns to achieve them. They are an inspiration and a hope for us, as there is still much to be done.
Mrs. Noonan said, “If New Zealand’s commitment to the SDGs is to be anything but empty rhetoric, there must be an acknowledgement by Government, both politicians and public servants, that the international human rights standards we have ratified will be recognized and respected in the development of all policy initiatives and proposed legislation and in how the State engages with all the people of these islands.”
What can we do to transform world?
- Full implementation of human rights standards – dignity, security, equality
- Start by holding government to international human rights law/standards in legislation – to achieve SDGS
- Living wage, page equity for the caring work that underpins our economy – early childhood, disability, aged care
- Urgently exploring meaningful work for all – minimum income for all - as a means to eliminate child poverty
- 2 years paid parental leave
- Better ratio of staff in early childhood education – best investment for the future we can make
- Inclusive nation – bilingual and mother tongue
- Share challenges and support others claiming rights in more difficult circumstances – recently cut aid/support to some places
- Climate change – engage on equal terms with pacific neighbours – survival depends on all of us to protect oceans
Sir Kenneth Keith
Focus: constructive criticisms of SDGs - four points drawn from his experience at the UN and as a Judge

1. Are we unnecessarily duplicating aspirations?
Some aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals are already recognised in law or as principle, such as:
- UN charter – ‘we, the people’ have had enough of war, have equal rights etc.
- International Labour Organization affirms right to equal pay – reaffirmed in 94 at labour conference.
- Plus many more treaties. Sendai document: Disaster Risk Reduction.
The present we are living can be described as a ‘Bretton Woods moment, we have the opportunity to address a range of issues.’

2. The worry we are overwhelmed:
Moses 10 points
Woodrow Wilson 14 points
2000 8 goals and 21 targets
Now 17 goals and 100 targets!
There is a risk we look silly by not achieving our purposes.
Sir Keith told us of his colleague at the UN, who said “Don’t add flowers to the text.” He used the metaphor of a ship decked out in ornament that sunk and drowned all on board.
We need to decide what our priorities are. The 9 points try to do this, but they may also be too ambitious.

3. The goals must be measurable.
The Millennium Development Goals had measurable fractions – reduce … by ¼ etc – have been measured – there a report (which can be found here http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/reports.shtml)

4. The independence of international civil servant.
Sir Keith moved away from the negativity of first 3 points to give an example of what “principled people from this part of world can contribute.” He referred to the independence of international civil servant. Those working for the UN swear to be loyal to UN rather than a nation-state. NZ contributed to the enshrinement of this principle in the Charter. NZ recognized the importance of this principle as they saw the deterioration of the independence of international civil servants contribute to the collapse of the League of Nations.

Dr Jay Shaw, School of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington
Focus: the concept of oneness as a solution to personal, social and global problems.
- Indian philosophy concerned with suffering and how to alleviate suffering.
- Oneness can be expressed as:
- all that exists is one
- all living beings are related as family, including plants and animals
- interdependency of all living beings
- In order to achieve global peace, inequality between nations and individuals must be reduced.
- Oneness at a global level can be realised if countries were governed by a single world body and global resources shared evenly.
- We do not have one Government, so we need to strengthen the UN through reform to make it more democratic.
- The UN has to promote common values, and foster love, fellowship and equality between nations.
- UN has to promote human rights in repressive regimes. NZ could alleviate global suffering by accepting more refugees.
- Suggestion: a Wellington Peace summit to introduce dialogue between diverse communities in the city and to promote harmony, cooperation and prosperity.

Dr Brad Jackson, School of Governance, Victoria University of Wellington
Focus: leadership, which particularly relates to point 8: Strengthen governance and promote peaceful, safe, just and inclusive societies.
- We need to strengthen leadership in governance.
- A key aspect of leadership is a strong sense of identity:
- Who are we? Why are we here? Where do we need to go?
- These questions give a clear sense of collective purpose and a sense of direction.
- Leadership if not the same thing as management. Management is interested in ‘how, when, where’ questions.
- Leadership is spiritual.
- Key thinking on leadership emerged out of totalitarianism context – good leadership education as a bulwark against totalitarianism. It has since lost its way – we are too focused on personality of leaders now. But, leadership is a spiritual experience. One word often used to describe great leaders is inspired, as in they have a sense of faith, belief or spirit.
- Leadership is a collective endeavor.
- society shortens leadership to leader – focus on right leaders we will get leadership. But leadership involves following. Followers matter – constructive engagement needed to create leadership.
- Example: Suffragette movement – Kate Sheppard held up as leader but it was actually a great example of distributed leadership. We need to celebrate leadership not individual leaders.
- Where leadership takes place is important. We are in Wellington, NZ – use Wellington as testing ground for leadership forms to tackle 9 points of new agenda.
Dr Jackson moved here from Canada for NZ’s potential to be a place that encourages leadership. He wants to invite people from around world to see how leadership and governance can work in practice. Cross organization/cross sector leadership. Willing to be open to tackle goals. New forms of leadership needed to tackle tough issues. We can be models, looks forward to working with us. We only have 15 years!

Ambassador Robert Zaagman, Embassy for the Netherlands
Focus: the Netherlands’ approach to sustainable development and peace through multilateralism.
Keypoints:
- Multilateralism through the UN system: the UN has a ‘family’ of agencies working to help various groups of vulnerable people
- Lessons learnt from working at the UN:
- The UN is not New York: there are over 20 000 UN staff working in various communities
- When UN is criticized for failing to act, it is often a member state which stands in the way - the situation may not be recognized as urgent, or states are not agreed on a course of action (climate change), or states actively block a decision for their own reasons (Russia blocking investigation into shot down airliner MH17).
- Theme: sustainable development and peace
- Peace is more than an absence of violence, it entails political stability, rule of law etc. No security no peace. But if violent conflict is raging – how can there be development?
- Comprehensive 3D approach is needed: defence, diplomacy and development. The UN is uniquely placed to carry out multidimensional peace programmes.
- Short term and long term goals are important.
- SDGs dear to their hearts: the Netherlands is in top 10 of aid donors worldwide, much ODA going through UN channels.
- UNDP number one multilateral development organisation. UN Development Group Programme brings together groups and programmes that allows for an overarching approach, important for the implementation of the SDGs.
- Ending poverty by 2030 is the most important goal. We need to prioritise the needs of the least developed states.
- Local communities must be involved as stakeholders, especially women.
- Now is the time to translate the lofty goals into actions.

Dr Sung Yong Lee, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago University
Focus: Peace and Conflicts Studies perspective of positive peace. That is, the elimination of causes of structural violence as well as absence of violent conflict (negative peace).
Keypoints:
- From the perspective of positive peace, the SDGs address ‘sources of conflicts’ as well as promote ‘sustainable development.’
- If we do not address underlying issues, they will develop into more evident and direct violence that is costly to address.
- Far more is spent on ‘security’ than on development. Budget for security spending 30 times more than MDGs budget.
“If we had spent just 5% of such military budgets over the previous 15 years, MDGs may have been fully implemented and much of the direct violence that the governments are attempting to address now might have been deterred already.”
3 suggestions relevant to government, civil society, each individual:
- Government: the importance of an integrated approach to SDGs. SDGs are interconnected and require holistic analysis, involving a range of communities joined in governance.
- Civil society: pay attention to sense of helplessness in youth. Awareness campaigns are important, but pessimism is a fundamental barrier to action. Many young people know what is wrong but believe there is nothing they can do about them. How can we support them to overcome helplessness?
- Individual: set goals on own everyday life to contribute to SDGs. Difficult to propose general action plans as people have different resources and obstacles. Finishes with a quote from Mahatma Ghandhi instead:
“Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest person whom you have seen, and ask yourself if the next step you contemplate is going to be of any use to that person? Will that person gain anything by it? Will it restore that person to a control over his or her own life and destiny? … Then you will find your doubts and your self melting away.”

5. Conclusion
The relationship between sustainable development and peace is important and present in the issues facing local communities. This summary document offers a range of perspectives and ideas on this relationship. However, several themes were consistent across the contributions and the speeches:
- The interdependence of the local and the global
- The importance of spiritual conceptions of peace
- Youth involvement in action for change
- Care for children as vital for the future
- Call for increased cooperation and collaboration between individuals and groups doing similar work

As Dr Lee pointed out, it is difficult to offer a prescriptive list of action points for everyone to carry out, because each person has different resources and obstacles. However, our differences can be our strength. If everyone looks at what they are doing in their own lives already, and what they could do, to further the above themes, then the SDGs will be not be so far away after all.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow us

Twitter Facebook

Quick Links

Correspondence: UNANZ's latest correspondence with Members of Parliament regarding current events and concerns

New Additions: Recent additions to Web site

NZ-UN: New Zealand's activites at the United Nations. 

Youth Association: The Youth branch of UNANZ, open to students and everyone under 25 years of age. 

United Nations Volunteers: UNANZ gets a lot of enquires about New Zealanders wanting to Volunteer overseas with the United Nations. Find out more here.