We see four main reasons underpinning the need for a global Peace Plus program headed by Rotary. While the main focus here is on Rotary International, we surely foresee other service organizations (such as Lions or Kiwanis Clubs) and partners getting involved with an international peace program.
1) ROTARY’S MISSION IS PEACE
“Freedom, justice, truth, sanctity of the pledged word and respect for human rights are inherent in Rotary principles and are also vital to the maintenance of international peace and order and to human progress.” –Rotary International, in Seven Paths to Peace
The first and foremost justification for a global Peace Plus program headed by Rotary International is simply because peace and goodwill has been, and remains, the central focus of Rotary International’s initiatives and activities. With the motto “Service above Self”, Rotary International’s mission is “to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.”
In 1917, Rotary International established The Rotary Foundation under the leadership of its 6th president Arch C. Klump. The Rotary Foundation is a humanitarian fund for Rotary International to “Do Good in the World” and to carry out the organization’s mission of advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace.
For over 100 years, advancing global peace has remained a central purpose for Rotary International. In 1954, Rotary International published “The Seven Paths to Peace”, a book outlining seven principles for achieving global peace (click here to access the book online). In 2002, Rotary began a Peace Fellowship program to support and promote global peace education. The organization also supports peace through it’s Global Grants program.
With deep historical roots and the ultimate purpose of advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace, Rotary International’s mission aligns perfectly with a global Peace Plus program.
2) THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW
“Wars cause devastating human suffering as well as long-term damage to a country’s economy and its infrastructure.” –The World Bank, 2016
The statistics are there: war and conflict still affect millions of people worldwide. In 2015, the number of people forced from their homes because of war and conflicts surpassed 60 million in 2015, the largest number ever recorded. In 2016, the World Bank reported that around 87 million people in Syria, Iraq, Lybia, and Yemen, a third of the population in the Middle East and North Africa Region, were directly affected by war.
In 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that, if the population of global refugees were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th most populated country. The UNHCR also reported that over half of the world’s refugees are children. In 2014, most refugees came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Moreover, almost nine out of every ten refugees are in regions and countries considered economically less developed.
Unjust human suffering isn’t the only outcome of war and violence; it also eats money. In 2015, a report released by the Institute for Economics and Peace released a report showing that, in 2014 alone, the global impact of violence on the global economy was $14.3 trillion USD! This substantial amount accounts for 13.4 % of the world’s GDP, and is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, and Spain. It’s plain and simple: war and violence is unjust and expensive!
3) SUCCESS WITH POLIOPLUS HAS PAVED THE WAY
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
Even though Rotary’s official PolioPlus program was established in 1985, Rotary’s commitment to ending polio began in 1979 when Rotary members began a multi-year effort to immunize more than 6 million children in the Philippines against polio. Just three years after the launching of PolioPlus, Rotary was joined by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and, in 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to form the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). By 2015, efforts through the GPEI resulted in a 99.1% reduction in new polio cases worldwide, an astounding achievement!
Rotary can bring the same vision, leadership, management, and business acumen that was used to create the successful PolioPlus to a global Peace Plus campaign. With solid experience collaborating with intergovernmental partners and philanthropically-centered foundations, Rotary is in a unique position to create and implement a global Peace Plus program. In addition, with more than 1.2 million Rotarians in over 200 countries worldwide, Rotary is well-rooted and ready for a global-scale program focused on peace.
4) THE WORLD IS WAITING
“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is the minds of men that the defences of peace must be built.” –Original ‘Culture of Peace’ motto, UNESCO
Throughout history there have been numerous groups and individuals longing for a world with peace and freedom. In 1945, the United Nations was formed with an overall mission of promoting world peace. The “Culture of Peace” concept arose in the early 1990s when UNESCO’s executive board requested a specific program for a Culture of Peace as a contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts. In September, 1999, the UN General Assembly motioned to adopt a Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, which contains nine elements defining a Culture of Peace.
One can also say that global consciousness levels surrounding human development and peace have risen significantly among individuals in the past 20 – 40 years. Aspects of this trend have been coined through terms such as the “cultural creatives” and “lifestyle of health and sustainability (LOHAS)”, which can be characterized by a questioning of past ideas and ideals and shift towards betterment at both the individual and group levels. Now is the time to shift resources and attention to the creation of lasting peace.