Peace Bell Rings in Tehran

21 September 2014
Ayatollah Bojnourdi (right) Gary Lewis (left)

On the occasion of International Day of Peace, Senior Member of the Centre for Great Islamic Encyclopedia (CGIE), Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Mousavi-Bojnourdi and UN Resident Coordinator Gary Lewis rang the peace bell in Tehran on Sunday 21 September 2014.

Addressing a seminar on peace organized by CGIE, Ketabraneh (mobile bookstore) and UNIC Tehran at the Raizan International Conference Hall, Ayatollah Bojnourdi said that “we (Shi’a) are followers of Prophet Mohammad who was the forerunner of international peace and therefore we are also the supporters of peace”. “Shi’a believes in world peace as a compulsory and good act, thus peace should be practiced by all,” former member of Supreme Judiciary Council Ayatollah Bojnourdi added. 

After reading the Secretary-General’s message, in his address, the Resident Coordinator emphasized that if we wish to prevent future conflicts, we must promote the culture of peace.

Also speaking at the seminar, renowned philosopher Ayatollah Seyyed Mostafa Mohaqeq-Damad said all people must become familiar with the culture of peace from childhood. “By President Rouhani’s order, the Ministry of Education can acquaint Iranian children with friendship, love, peace and nonviolence,” he added. 

During the seminar, Mehdi Yazdani and his wife Sarvenaz Heraner, elaborated on their initiative of converting their small sedan into a mobile bookstore called Ketabraenh. Further, an English peace song was performed by Mr. Mehdi Hojjat. 

Other speakers at the conference were: the Deputy Director of the CGIE for Research Dr. Seyyed Sadeq Sajjadi; Special Assistant to President Rouhani on ethnic groups and religious minorities, Hojjatoleslam Dr. Ali Younesi; member of the CGIE , Dr. Mohammad Mojtahid Shabestari; lawyer and professor of Shahid Beheshti University,  Dr. Mohammad Hashemi and manager of Iranology Group and member of Supreme Scientific Council of the  CGIE, Dr. Mohammad Jafari Daheghi who delivered speeches on principles of sustainable peace, Iran’s position on violence, and reconciliation in the ancient Iranian culture.

A large number of peace advocates, intellectuals, university professors and students as well as journalists attended the seminar.

Peace Day walk through historic Via Francigena

21 September 2014
Peace walk through historic Via Francigena

Organized in collaboration with the long-lasting partner NGO Mediterraid, and under the UNRIC Brussels Desk for Italy’s patronage, a 23-km long Peace walk took place around the village of Campagnano (fifty km north of Rome).  Mediterraid has been working with local public institutions and civil society bodies to revamp the ancient Medieval 1800-km “Via Francigena”, one of the three main European paths, along with the “Camino de Santiago de Compostela” (France – Spain) and the Eastern (Balkans-Greece-Turkey) Egnatia way, leading pilgrims from throughout Europe to such holy destinations as Santiago, Rome and Palestine. The “Via Francigena” (http://www.viefrancigene.org/it/) was declared a Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe (CoE) in 1984, thus, this year marks its twentieth year. 

The walk starts from Canterbury and arrives in Rome, although there is a Southern branch of the Francigena that goes all the way down to Jerusalem, thus joining the Egnatia pathway. There are currently 25 itineraries labelled as cultural itineraries by the CoE (http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/cultureheritage/culture/routes/default_en.asp).

The Peace March contemplated a walk along two stages of the Via Francigena, having the village of Campagnano (48 km north of Rome) as the starting and finish point. It was named “The Peace Road”, expecting this to turn into a regular appointment in the UNRIC agenda, with an interfaith and interethnic mark and likely to be expanded to other UNRIC Brussels Desks covering countries crossed by the ancient pathways. In this regard, UNRIC Italy will use its good offices to seek support from the Vatican’s Spokesperson to secure participation by representatives of both Jewish and Muslim communities.

The eight-hour Peace March – which also raised funds for Emergency, an NGO operating in conflict areas - featured a couple of hundreds participants walking through paths and roads that were recently revamped by the Italian Civil protection corps, including a 4.2-km cobblestone segment called “Via Amerina”, a pathway used by ancient Roman convoys streaming south, built 2050 years ago. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mediterraid-Cammina/182891528419323?fref=ts), (http://www.viefrancigene.org/it/resource/news/mediterraid-cammina-associazione-al-servizio-della/). 

UNRIC Italy then took part in the ceremonial and more formal events organized in the wings of the March, including interviews and the delivery of the UN Secretary-General’s Peace Day message to the press and public. The Desk’s platforms had helped pave way for the event and were amply used to disseminate information and feedback, also using the information kit received from UN Headquarters. There was also a discussion with the organizers of the possibility of expanding the project. The Desk Officer for Italy has already floated this idea to the few other countries UNRIC Brussels covers, with the aim of developing synergies and turn the event into a European one. 

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UNIC Lagos dominates airwaves, features on six Radio/TV Channels to mark International Day of Peace

21 September 2014
The National Information Officer at Metro FM

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, dominated Nigeria’s radio and television airwaves for three days as it joined the rest of the world to mark the International Day of Peace. 

In separate appearances on Metro 97.7 FM; Radio One 103.5 FM; Faaji 106.5 FM; Radio Nigeria Network; Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Educational Television; and the Nigerian Television Authority Network News Segment (Panorama), the Senior Public Information Officer, Envera Selimovic and the National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, shared the message of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, asking ‘combatants to put down their arms so all can breathe the air of peace.’ 

‘Let us all reflect on peace, and what it means for our human family. Let us hold it in our hearts and minds and tenderly nurture it so it may grow and blossom,’ the Secretary-General added.

Discussing with their audience, Selimovic and Soremekun noted that the observance was meant to raise public awareness on issues related to peace and to also strengthen the ideals of peace within and among all nations and peoples.

They enjoined the audience to hold peace dearly and pursue peaceful co-existence with other people.

The Secretary-General’s message was translated into the Yoruba Language and shared with a radio Audience on Faaji FM by the National Information Officer. Faaji FM broadcasts primarily in Yoruba, spoken in six of the States in Nigeria and a part of Republic of Benin.

Peace Day in Pretoria

21 September 2014
The National Information Officer speaking at the concert

The tranquil grounds of the Heia Safari Lodge on the outskirts of Johannesburg provided the setting for a moving International Day Peace commemoration on 21 September 2014.

Invited by the Peace Starts Campaign, the hosts of the free open-air concert, the National Information Officer for UNIC Pretoria, Sudeshan Reddy, delivered the message of the UN Secretary-General for the International Day of Peace.  In his remarks prior to delivering the Message, Mr. Reddy highlighted the need for ordinary people to mobilise around the cause of peace, to challenge those that perpetuate violence and to support organisations and individuals who are actively promoting peace in their communities.

The National Information Officer giving an interview

Judging by the applause from the audience and the feedback from the Peace Starts campaign, the presence of UNIC was greatly appreciated. UNIC was publicly thanked for the support given to the event and a framed bronze artwork of Nelson Mandela was officially handed over to Mr. Reddy by the organisers. Handing over the gift, Cito Otto, one of the key organisers of the concert, and a renowned musician himself, noted that “the presence of the United Nations here today reminds us of why peace is so very important, perhaps now more than ever.”