EDITORIAL: A CAMPAIGNING MOMENTUM – 2014-2015
Building on the notable success of the 2014 Spring Conference [see below], Uniting for Peace has an ambitious programme of two major events in October and November. On Thursday 9 October 18.00 at Hilton London Euston, Alfred de Zayas, UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, will deliver the keynote speech for the Annual Erskine Childers Lecture on: 'The Human Right to Peace: Foundation for a Just International Order'. Read Full Editorial
‘A New Momentum for Peace: No Syria Intervention – What Next?’ was urgent subject of UfP 2014 Spring Conference at Wesley’s Chapel, London, on March 29 with one hundred present. Analysing Syria’s crisis, urging new approaches for UK foreign policy, and dynamics of peace-making were key themes. Overcoming the ‘sense of helplessness’ in the face of global problems was necessary part of the occasion, said conference chair Rita Payne, President, Commonwealth Journalists Association. Read Full Article
The gains of the far-Right wing parties in the European Parliament elections, especially the National Front's victory in France, mark a very disturbing phenomenon. Successfully tapping into fears over immigration and multi-culturalism, Islamophobia, EU-imposed austerity and anxiety over globalisation, they used widespread alienation from mainstream politics to promote racism and nationalist-populist scapegoating of immigrants. Their bigger presence in the EU Parliament could push its policies in intolerant directions, menacing social harmony.
The increase of Euroscepticism beyond the far-Right (e.g. UKIP and Conservative in Britain) could well polarise politics in the EU Parliament, making less achievable integrationist measures needed to solve Eurozone crisis. Yet the advance of the radical Left in Greece and southern Europe gives hope of progressive alternative policies, rejecting crushing austerity in southern Eurozone, sustaining welfare benefits and reducing the power of international finance.
Certainly, EU needs reforms: greater transparency accountability, re focusing on job creation, abandoning dangerous NATO-linked expansionism as in Ukraine and reducing the power of corporate lobbies (especially arms industry). But reforms must not weaken EU to the extent of re-opening ancient rivalries (e.g. France and Germany). The United Europe vision in practice has given the continent 70 years of peace – an achievement envied across the globe.
In the light of EU election result in UK, with UKIP winning against the major Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, the 2015 Uniting for Peace pre-General Election Spring Conference (21March 2015) will include how the rising trend of racism andpopulist nationalism in UK and continental Europe can be stopped. We need to examine urgently how to return to the politics of reason and sanity in which leaders and parties advance the agenda of unity, integration, equality, shared prosperity and fuller democracy, thereby building deeper peace within and between states of Europe.
Vijay Mehta, Chair, Uniting for Peace
For the past five years, Uniting for Peace has promoted the annual UN International Day of Peace – September 21 – and the churches' International Day of Prayer for Peace, held on the Sunday closest to the UN day. [In UK, leading churches publicise it as Peacemaking Sunday.] This year both observances fall on the same day: Sunday September 21. Accordingly, UfP is promoting this day to be marked by local peace groups, civic bodies, UN associations and similar NGOs, with UN focus events, and by Christian congregations, other faith communities and inter-faith bodies to hold UN-related services, vigils and other acts of worship. [Non- Christian faith bodies are encouraged to hold such occasions on their holy day closest to September 21]. With both observances on the same day this year, it may be appropriate depending on local circumstances, for civic and secular bodies to join with faithbased ones for a single dedicated event on Sunday September 21. The day offers distinct opportunity for information, reflection and action on peace themes and current global issues.
The UN aims its day to be one of peace – urging a 'Global Ceasefire' in all conflict zones – and for peace, calling public bodies and civil society worldwide to hold events "to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace within and among all nations", and publicise UN action for peace-building, peace-keeping, development and emergency aid. UfP Erskine Childers lecture [Oct.9], 'The Human Right to Peace' [full details – rear page] is key follow-up event.
Churches marking Peacemaking Sunday can reflect on peace, justice and reconciliation with a UN focus, within a regular Sunday service with relevant hymns, prayers, Bible readings and sermon and/or with an ecumenical peace service. Christian responsibility to help heal our broken world is a recommended theme. Where locally possible, inter-faith peace events can positively witness to 'world faiths for global harmony' – vital today when religious divisions fuel many conflicts.
UfP members are encouraged to arrange events and faith occasions, and/or support those being held in your area. Resources from UfP London & Edinburgh offices: send £5 minimum ['Peace Services'] to Rev. Brian Cooper, 144/1 Whitehouse Loan, Edinburgh EH9 2AN for resources for faith events. UNICEF & UNA also recommended for resource material
Rev. Brian Cooper - UfP Churches & Inter-Faith Secretary
Controversy over publication of the Chilcot Report into UK support for US invasion of Iraq in 2003 has brought that disastrous venture back under public scrutiny. Its illegal and immoral nature, the huge suffering wreaked upon the Iraqi people, and its great stimulus to jihadist terrorism across the region and beyond, are well established and generally recognised. Yet the disaster's full dimensions, Iraq's ongoing political crisis and continuing misery of most of its people, are too little known. So THE STRUGGLE FOR
US dismantling of the state system and resultant lawlessnesshaunt Iraq today: millions remain unconnected to electricity and water, a large proportion lack a regular income [many live in rubbish dumps], bribery is endemic, human rights abuses are common, weapons are readily available and sectarian terroristattacks frequent. Environmental deterioration is alarming: hundreds of dust storms occur every year. The new constitution worsened Shia/Sunni/Kurd divisions instead of boosting national harmony. For Al-Ali, Iraq's self-serving, corrupt politicians are betraying its future, which requires a secular state with 'a unity vision' and separation of religion and politics.
UfP mourns the death, and celebrates the life, of its elder statesman Rev. Dr. Kenneth Greet, [1918-2014] who died 11 February aged 95. A distinguished Methodist Church leader, he was a lifelong Christian pacifist and for many years a peace and anti-Bomb campaigner in both Church and Peace Movement.
Founder-member of UfP predecessor World Disarmament Campaign in 1979, he worked closely with WDC founders Philip Noel-Baker and Fenner Brockway [as Co-Chair with the latter from 1982 to 1986] campaigning to achieve the historic UN 1978 Disarmament Programme. A dedicated, highly informed and tireless member of WDC Council and Executive Committee, he was a constant source of wise counsel always presented with characteristic calm eloquence. As President [1988-1994] and Vice-
The January 2014 Global Peace Conference “Towards a Nonviolent Future – Some Realistic Models for Peaceful Co-existence”, held at Jaipur, India by Anuvrat Global Organisation & Jain Vishva Bharati University, with 200 delegates from 28 countries, focused on changing non-violence from an intellectual concept into political reality. Academics and activists, especially from India,Japan, Netherlands, South Korea and UK (including UfP chair Vijay Mehta) led sessions on non-violence, interfaith harmony, poverty reduction, eco-sustainability and educating children and youth for peace. “By our altruistic acts, service and contribution to human society we can transform inner peace to attain universal peace in which all mankind can live in joy and harmony”. Forgiveness, ‘a divine gift and moral virtue’, was stressed as ‘a technique for peace and co-existence’, and “A higher state of consciousness, a strategy for survival and one of the natural attributes of the soul and unconditional love”.
Speaking on ‘Is a Non-violent Future Possible?’, V. Mehta outlined necessary steps, harnessing inner spiritual peace as source for global peace; working towards a world without war; following non-violent ways for peace, justice and co-existence; creating a culture of peace and non-violence; holistic disarmament for a weaponless world; reducing inequality for a more ethical world; and the role of UfP 4D for World Peace Campaign. On ‘Possibilities of a Weaponless World’, he declared: “General and total disarmament can only be achieved through a holistic, multilateral
[full report – see UfP website]
Churchill’s pre-1939 anxiety over a coming nuclear age, his World War Two role in the development of the Bomb, his ready realisation of the huge menace to civilisation and the very future of humanity posed by the advent of nuclear weapons – and his final desperate attempts to avert the East-West nuclear arms race – are all fascinatingly revealed in a new book. CHURCHILL’S BOMB, a Hidden History of Science, War and Politics, by Graham Farmelo (Faber & Faber, £25). A strikingly original view of Churchill’s relation to nuclear weapons in war and peace, this is essential
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