Members at the Scottish Parliament yesterday debated on the importance of peace and official recognition of the UN’s International Day of Peace, following a motion raised by Bill Kidd MSP.
The day, observed annually on 21st September, was established in 1981 to strengthen the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, however the day is not recognised in the UK.
Ten MSPs gave speeches, including Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Europe, Migration & International Development, in support of the motion, acknowledging the UN understanding of peace to be structural, rather than just the absence of violence, and that this aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda, specifically Goal 16 of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
“A more peaceful world is possible,” Ben Macpherson MSP said, “By spreading awareness through debates such as this and through the activism that has been described by Members across the Chamber, we can promote a more peaceful world. Peace day gives us the chance to reflect and act on that sense of common purpose.”
The motion also called to highlight the work of the International Voluntary Service in promoting Peace Day in the UK, through campaigning on social media and distributing ‘Peace Pins’ designed to be worn as a symbol of commitment to world peace, understanding and cooperation. During the debate, several MSPs were wearing Peace Pins in the Chamber, and within their speeches noted the International Voluntary Service’s commitment to promoting Peace Day and SDG16, and the positive impact of their campaigning and global ‘volunteering for peace’ projects.
Staff and volunteers from the International Voluntary Service were also present and observing the debate from the Chamber Gallery, to whom Bill Kidd MSP said in his opening speech, “I welcome to the Chamber members of the International Voluntary Service, who are working to raise the profile of this day in Scotland. Such promotion contributed to the debate taking place.”
The primary objectives of the International Voluntary Service’s work are to strengthen civil society at home and abroad and foster peace and understanding to achieve lasting change. Offering volunteering opportunities across the globe that linked to the SDGs by identifying a local community need for sustainable development are one ways to achieve this. In the UK, the International Voluntary Service are campaigning for official recognition of Peace Day by the UK Government and hope for members of the public and politicians to wear a Peace Pin to show their commitment to Peace Day and to lasting peace between communities world-wide.
This year’s International Peace Day theme of ‘The Right to Peace’ serves to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. However, the 2018 Global Peace Index shows that the global level of peace has deteriorated for the fourth year in a row as a combination of terrorism, armed conflict and political division has left the world less peaceful than at any time in the last decade. The UK fell sixteen places to 57 out of 163 countries in the rankings with contributing factors such as the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and political division caused by Brexit being held responsible for the UK’s fall.
“Promoting peace and understanding may seem a difficult objective in the current climate,” said Amy Blake, Director of the International Voluntary Service, “however it is highlighted specifically within the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a necessary means to enable governments, civil society and communities to work together to find lasting solutions to the many forms of violence that exist in the world today. We urge people on International Peace Day to make small steps to reduce violence, promote inclusion and encourage respect and understanding toward others.”
In 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire. Ben Macpherson MSP went on to say, “In this time of flux and challenge, Peace Day on Friday and in the years ahead provides a chance to promote ceasefire and non-violence not just for 24 hours but in the wider context of social justice, the Global Goals and sustainable development… I support Peace Day 100 per cent and encourage all to mark it this Friday in what they do on social media, in their communities or in their everyday lives.”
On 21st September, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will celebrate the day in the Peace Garden at the UN Headquarters by ringing the Peace Bell and observing a minute of silence at 12 noon. Many people in the UK will be observing this minutes’ silence to demonstrate commitment to world peace, as well joining many other events taking place in local communities across the globe. For ideas on what you can do on Peace Day, visit peaceday.eu and share your experiences on social media using #PeaceDay
Watch the full debate at Scottish Parliament here
About the International Voluntary Service
The International Voluntary Service is on a mission to foster peace and understanding between peoples and nations and urges people across the UK to stand up and show their support for a peaceful and inclusive world by supporting the UN International Peace Day on the 21st September. Our Peace Day Pins have been specifically designed to be worn as a symbol of commitment to world peace, understanding and cooperation.
International Voluntary Service is a UK charity which works hard to promote peace, justice and equality through; peace education, campaigning and the mutual exchange of volunteers around the world. Our aims align with Goal 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Goal ‘to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’
International Voluntary Service Peace Pins are available here
For more information about the International Day of Peace visit here
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