Seoul, Republic of Korea – Today’s global community is facing widespread extremism that accompanies violence with radical views, which has become a great concern on stability and prosperity of the globe. National governments around the world have responded to the contemporary issues of extremism by domestic policies and international cooperation on security and education. Along with the national efforts, international NGOs are organizing campaigns to raise public awareness on the need for peace and tolerance and further to prevent violent extremism.
At 85 cities in 43 countries including Beijing, New York, Paris, Seoul, Sydney, and Tokyo on May 25th, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international NGO under the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI), co-hosted ‘4th Annual Commemoration of the Declaration of World Peace and the Peace Walk’ with the International Peace Youth Group(IPYG) and subtitled the event ‘Walk &Talk to Prevent Violent Extremism’ as a peace culture campaign to address the issue.
In his congratulatory speech, 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 on values and beliefs the participants have, the time for reflection is given to understand how their beliefs are internalized based on the peaceful values and how their actions can follow in accordance with their faiths. Sara Florian, graduate student who takes 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.”
Hope to achieve peace and promote peaceful co-existence was furthermore stressed through sticky-notes performance organized by the IPYG. Three thousand sticky-notes containing peaceful messages have been posted by the participants and covered the wall filled with tragic scenes of battlefield with hope for peace, symbolizing their will to achieve peace through their own hands.
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.” The peace walk traces back to 2013 when the Declaration of World Peace drafted by HWPL with a slogan of ‘Leave peace as a legacy to future generations’. In this year, the annual event is expected to be held from May 19th to May 28th.