Invest in peace on International Peace Day, say aid agencies

Invest in peace on International Peace Day, say aid agencies

Leading Australian and international experts will discuss issues of peace and conflict resolution in Canberra on September 20, on the eve of the International Day of Peace.

The panel discussion, Build Peace, End Poverty: What Can Australia Do?, will highlight the role Australia can play in building global peace and security.

In 2001, the United Nations established September 21 as an annual, worldwide day of non-violence and ceasefire.

International aid and development agencies Act for Peace and TEAR Australia, organisers of the panel discussion, say it is crucial to recognise the fact that conflict is a root cause of major global challenges like entrenched poverty and increasing numbers of asylum seekers.

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, supports effective armed violence reduction and peace programs in conflict-affected countries.

Its Executive Director, Alistair Gee, said, “It is time that the asylum seeker debate in Australia focused less on political posturing and more on what Australia could be doing to help reduce the push factors.

“In the lead-up to the International Day of Peace, we are calling on Australian political leaders to focus their efforts and resources on addressing the reasons people seek asylum in the first place, and providing stronger support to reducing armed violence in the countries from which they are fleeing.”

Progress in achievement of the Millennium Development Goals has been slowest in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Matthew Maury, TEAR Australia’s National Director, said, “In TEAR’s work with the poor and marginalised worldwide, we see clearly the links between conflict and poverty. Our partners in places like Afghanistan, South Sudan and Somalia have taught us that sustained community development is not just blocked by war — it is impossible to achieve in the midst of fighting.

“As people of faith, we believe things can be different — that peace is possible. Australia can become a world leader in peace building work. We call on Australia to work for peace on the International Day of Peace.”

Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace, is one of the panellists at the event. Killelea developed the Global Peace Index, which measures the relative peacefulness of 153 countries based on indicators like levels of violent crime, number of deaths from conflict, arms imports and exports and the likelihood of violent demonstrations.

“Australia’s cross-party commitment to increasing its Official Development Assistance provides an excellent opportunity for the nation to globally lead the way in creating the optimum environments for peace and development to flourish,” said Killelea.

Other panellists are Ramesh Thakur, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and a leading author on the UN, disarmament and protection; the Rev. Simon Moyle, a prominent Christian activist involved in peace and nonviolence training; and Said Ehsanullah Dileri (Said), who sought asylum in Australia in 2009 after fleeing Afghanistan, and is now a permanent resident, actively engaged in community-building work.

Act for Peace is the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia and a member of the global ACT Alliance. We empower war-torn communities to reduce poverty, protect refugees, and prevent further conflict. Our project partners are currently assisting more than one million people in the world’s worst conflict affected areas, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma.

TEAR Australia is a movement of Christians in Australia responding to the needs of poor communities around the world. TEAR works in partnership with other Christian groups, including churches, relief and development agencies and community-based organisations to build effective relationships with these partners, grounded in mutual respect, trust and accountability. In Australia, TEAR works to inform and empower Christians, in partnership with local churches, to make a Biblically-shaped response to suffering and oppressed communities.

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