Today’s global community is now facing widespread extremism that is accompanied by violence associated with radical views, which has become a great concern regarding the stability and prosperity of the international community. National governments around the world have responded to these contemporary issues of extremism through the implementation of domestic policies and international cooperation in the areas of security and education.
Along with these national efforts, international NGOs are organizing campaigns to raise public awareness of the need for peace and tolerance in order to further prevent violent extremism. From May 19th to 30th, a peace campaign titled “Talk & Walk to Prevent Violent Extremism”was held to commemorate projects of global peacebuilding inspired by the Declaration of World Peace proclaimed in 2013.
To further develop a culture of peace through awareness-raising activities and participation by citizens, the campaign this year was hosted by HWPL and local communities in 85 cities across 44 countries, including Seoul, New York, Paris, Geneva, Beijing, Tokyo, Delhi, Cape Town, and Sydney.
(A youth participant has designed a unique peace picket to participate in the commemorative event at the Olympic Peace Plaza in Seoul)
Led by the active engagement of international youth associations in this peace campaign, seminars and forums to discuss culture-based approaches for the enhancement of social solidarity to establish peaceful coexistence were also pursued in countries like Afghanistan, Ukraine, South Sudan and East Timor where efforts of peace for social stability are in great demand these days.
In the 4th Commemoration of the Declaration World Peace and Peace Walk held in Seoul, Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL called for global cooperation on peacebuilding, saying,
“Who can bring about peace while we stand still? By putting an end to war, a world of peace can be established.” He also stressed the need for civic participation to “make an end to war and establish a world of peace as a legacy for future generations, which is the very task of every one of our global family.”
In the event, through conversations regarding the values and beliefs that the participants have, the time for reflection was given to understand how these beliefs are internalized based on the values of peace and how their actions can follow in accordance with their faiths.
Sara Florian, a graduate student who took part in this event, said,
“My country Guatemala suffered from internal conflict for about 30 years. I grew up listening to the stories of the war from my parents and the devastation is still widespread in many parts of the country as psychological and physical damage even today…20 years after the end of the conflict.
We need to take steps forward to transforming our ideas into communication for a world of peace in the future. That way, we can heal the scars the war left. I hope that the time for reflection like this event can continue to develop the pursuit of peace in our times.”
Sabina Grudinschi from Finland said, “Promoting peace by gathering and working all together is very important because today is a chaotic world where conflicts and wars are the reality. We realize that peace is really needed.
We have to remember that in order to achieve peace, we need to do something about it ourselves first and not wait for others to do it. We must be responsible for it, not taking it as a burden but rather as a privilege.”
At the end of the event, the participants gathered together for a peace walk. Duhyen Kim, Director of IPYG, emphasized,
“IPYG has been working with intergovernmental groups, NGOs, and youth associations globally, undertaking projects concerning youth development and peace education. The youth of today are awakening, I myself, have witnessed the world as it is, and do not accept this as my reality. We are made for better things, the world can become a better place.”