In 1940 the world was at war. Paul Harris, founder of Rotary wrote in The Rotarian magazine that February: ‘Must the best genius of men be devoted to the science of war and none to the science of averting it?’
The Second World War began to clarify views within our organisation that we could and should strive to make our world a far more peaceful place. After the war, The United Nations were formed. Around 100 Rotarians were deeply and fundamentally involved at senior levels in the formation of the most famous of all Organisations for Peace. Many people, even Rotarians don’t realise that Rotary has such an incredible history of ground breaking work in this field.
The Rotary Foundation is our charity. Its vision is-
“Enabling Rotarians to Advance World Understanding, Goodwill and Peace.”
It has three key elements to its mission:
· Improving Health
· Supporting Education &
· Alleviating poverty.
Those of you up to date with current accepted theories on Global Security will know that these also happen to be (if you now add Global Warming), the key issues we need to address if we our World has any chance of remaining a peaceful one.
In 1999 Rotary decided to set up the Rotary Centres for Peace and Conflict Resolution around the world. Rotary Peace Fellows attending these centres are leaders promoting national and international cooperation, peace, and the successful resolution of conflict throughout their lives, in their careers, and through service activities.
Each year, up to 100 Rotary Peace Fellowships are offered on a competitive basis at six Rotary Peace Centres, which operate in partnership with seven leading universities across the world. The fellows are chosen from countries and cultures around the globe based on their potential as leaders in government, business, education, media, and other professional areas.
Rotarians in the UK are proud that one of these centres is the Peace Studies faculty at Bradford University. At a recent Conference fellows gave us an insight into their work and interests. These included insights into Land Conflicts in Cambodia; Humanitarian responses to the Somali refugee crisis; Civil Conflict, Peace Building and Reconciliation, experience from Sierra Leone; Conflict Minerals.
The breadth of work undertaken by these dedicated individuals always astounds and impresses. It also makes you think “What is Peace?” At an international Peace Conference in 2009 I noted the following from Prof Paul Rogers “Peace with work to do in an ever more Crowded, Glowering World”