Ninety-nine years ago at the RI Convention in Edinburgh, a resolution on International Standards on Goodwill and Peace was adopted, which laid the foundation for a slew of resolutions on human rights and global peace at future conventions. When US President Harry Truman and British PM Winston Churchill came together to draft the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945, after the World War II, there were 49 Rotarians on the drafting committee, said RIDE Peter Kyle, RID 7620, Washington DC.
Chairing a panel discussion on ‘Promoting peace: Making dreams real’ at the Centennial Summit, Kyle said Peace and Conflict Resolution is one of the six Focus Areas of Rotary and a number of initiatives are taken up including workshops, conferences, Rotary Peace Chairs, Peace Fellows and Peace Academies to achieve one of the primary goals of RI. “Peace is in Rotary’s DNA and our 1,350 Peace Fellows are spread out in the world and are passionate about their missions,” he said.
DIG Luish Aind, an IPS officer from Guwahati and a Peace Scholar from RID 3240, said overseeing the laying down of arms by over 2,000 Bodo militants gave him immense satisfaction. His batch of Peace Scholars is active on social media which helps them to alert the public against fake news and disinformation campaign by vested interests.
“But rehabilitating all the surrendered militants into society is a challenge,” he said.
PDG Kalpana Khound, RID 3240, said the North-East region from where she came is a hotbed of militancy and conflicting tribal interests and the vulnerable youth are attracted by extremist groups who share their same ethnicity, language and culture. “Rotary Peace Centres have a great role to play to forge sustainable peace in the North-East. The porous borders make it easy for unemployed people to engage in anti-social activities, creating unrest,” she said.
PDG Aziz Memon, TRF Trustee-elect from Pakistan, recalled that at a recent debate in Cambridge University it was pointed out that “absence of war is not peace” and sustained efforts are needed to achieve results on the ground. “Our efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan have to face many setbacks due to killings and terrorist violence. Around 70 per cent of our frontline vaccinators are girls and over 190 of them were killed in the last three years at the Swat region during their polio work,” Memon said.
Pakistan was successful in rooting out smallpox way back in 1968, thanks to the absence of terrorism at that time, he pointed out.
Saloni Lakhia, a Rotary Peace Fellow, said in the last six months after “we had passed out, we are sharing resources, contributing to research papers and looking out for collaborations across the border.” All the 25 Peace Scholars in Mumbai help in “designing club projects as they are among the think-tanks,” said Rajendra Ruia, District Avenue Chair, Peace Fellowship, RID 3141. They also interview candidates with leadership skills and get exposure to peace-building efforts through active involvement in community activities, he said.