Unification News for October 2003

Second Generation UN Day of Peace

by Rev. Ken Doo

Friday 19th of September saw the beginning of the International Day of Peace, a day celebrated worldwide to promote cease fires in warring nations and friendship amongst foes. The meeting was supposed to be fully attended by various youth organizations from numerous nations. However, because of the hurricane that crossed the North Eastern coast of the USA, many of these groups were unable to attend. That is why the 'World Peace Prayer Society' (the group which organized the event) called to our UN IIFWP representative in desperation -- they wanted to know...."do you have any young people who can attend our meeting".

For this reason, 29 mainly European second generation, involved in the World Peace Task Force in New York, were able at short notice to attend the meeting. The program started off with an opening ceremony attended by several celebrities and delegates and Koffi Annan the UN Secretary General. Brief speeches were given, followed by the ringing of the 'peace bell', rung only during 3 very auspicious occasions in the year. After this, the celebrities including three times world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Actor Michael Douglas and writer Elie Weisel along with several photographers and onlookers, were shepherded into the conference room number 4 where the event unfolded. The whole experience was romanced in music by Ms. Alysun Panichi and her band 'The Kwaziwas', singing songs of peace and harmony.

Once everyone was settled, the main program began with an introduction from Mr. Shahshi Tharoor -- the Under Secretary General and a welcome from Mrs. Nane Annan. Then six selected youth made brief presentations about their nations followed by questions directed at the 'celebrity peace messengers'. These youths included representatives from America, Rwanda and Kuwait, and also youths connected via satellite from Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Syria. Each one had their own experiences with war and conflict.

The girl from Rwanda found herself an orphan after the genocide in her country. A young man from Sierra Leone was once a 'child soldier'. Everyone agreed that it was amazing to see the positive attitude of these young people and sincere desire for peace despite the traumatic and shocking experiences of their childhood. The event concluded with a moving flag ceremony where representatives from 40 nations carried all 191 flags in a circle around the conference room. One by one the nationís names were called and everyone in the room chanted the name in response, while sending peaceful thoughts to its people.

Many of the second generation participants were grateful to be able to see the United Nations more closely. They could understand how the United Nations was an institute designed to realize world peace. However, they also noted that during the dialogue and discussion amongst the students there were no solid conclusions reached. Everyone asked questions, but no one seemed to have concrete answers. More so, everyone seemed to have different ideas about what 'peace' actually consists of. In this way we also saw a need for the United Nations to be renewed. It was an interesting and informative experience for all.

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