Message by Senator, the Honourable Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade On the occasion of United Nations International Day of Peace Global Truce 2012, September 21, 2012
Fellow Barbadians, today marks the anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Peace. It was eleven years ago in 2001 that the United Nations adopted the Resolution that formally established September 21 as the annual day of global ceasefire and nonviolence.
Barbados joins in the celebration of the Global Truce on the International Day of Peace, where arms are laid down, conflict ceases for 24 hours throughout the world and much needed aid is given uninhibited passage to those who suffer in war-torn countries.
Barbados is known for its stable democracy, its adherence to the rule of law and its support of peace. Our commitment to maintaining this status is vital to the economic sustainability of the country. Although we may not experience civil unrest and war as seen in the Middle East and Africa, like every country on this planet, we face the challenges that result from the absence of peace.
Recently on September 3, we observed a moment of silence for the victims who died so needlessly in the Campus Trendz tragedy, where six young ladies lost their lives in an unprecedented act of violence. Bouts of domestic violence are also a concern for our small, close-knit society. Any act of violence disturbs the peace of mind of the citizens of this country and undermines the foundation of stability that our forefathers have built.
Every day, armed violence claims 1,500 lives around the world.
The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012, prepared by the United Nations Development Programme states that, with the exception of Barbados and Suriname, homicide rates, including gang-related killings, have increased substantially across the Caribbean, while they have been falling or stabilising in other parts of the world.??
I wish to laud the exceptional work of the law enforcement personnel in keeping crime to a minimum in Barbados, thereby increasing citizen security and ensuring economic and social stability. The work of the Barbados Government Information Service on public awareness advertisements including those that deal with conflict resolution and finding peaceful solutions must be commended as well.
According to the words of Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela:
"Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish, regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, class, caste, or any other social markers of difference".
In other words, peace is true honour and respect for our fellow man.
The concept of global peace for one day must have seemed like an impossible, idealistic notion initially, but as a result of the perseverance of a few wise thinking people, the world can celebrate all that has been achieved over the years through the International Day of Peace: children have been vaccinated, the infirmed have received life-saving medicine, food and water have been delivered to the malnourished and violence has been reduced by as much as 70 per cent across the world in just one day of peace.
Efforts to achieve and maintain peace do not begin simply with the laying down of arms, it flows from our hearts and minds, where the spirit of forgiveness and love resides. Peace can never exist where hatred abides.
So, what difference can one day make? For many, it is a matter of life or death.?? Let us envision Barbados and a world where not only one day of peace is attained but a week, a month and even a year, until the echoes of war and conflict are silenced.
Friends, on this day I call on all Barbadians to put aside our anger, find a peaceful resolution to conflict, be forgiving and say a kind word to each other in the name of peace.
I wish to leave you with the words of another great Nobel laureate, Martin Luther King who said:
"We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace".
May we all find peace in our hearts today.
I thank you.