World Peace Conference was held in Bangladesh
By David Wick
As one of only four speakers representing the United States among 69 speakers from around the world, it was a high honor and privilege to be invited by Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, to virtually attend and speak at the inaugural World Peace Conference, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 3-5, 2021.
The theme of this global conference was “Advancing Peace through Social Inclusion” and took place as a celebration of 50 years of independence of Bangladesh and the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangladesh celebrated five decades of its peace-centric diplomacy aimed at promoting sustainable development, fundamental rights and freedoms, social justice, inclusion, and the culture of peace.
Speaking as the executive director of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission and shining the light on Ashland, Oregon, on this world stage, at this time, was both particularly gratifying and poignant. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the presentation was made virtually.
Dr. Momen said Dhaka did not invite current heads of state or governments to the conference. Rather, their government brought together world-renowned peace activists, writers, poets, leaders, and global civil society figures to promote the culture of peace and tolerance. It was exciting and humbling to be speaking with prime ministers, leaders from the United Nations, and highly regarded academics.
We believe there are several elements reflected in this invitation of high honor.
The Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) is based on the mission “To inspire, activate, and model a Culture of Peace in Ashland, Oregon, which will serve as a beacon of light for all humanity.” As the foundation, inspiration, and guiding principles, we embrace the concept of a culture of peace presented by the United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (A/RES/53/243) which identifies eight action areas.
On September 21, 2018, the International Day of Peace, the World Peace Flame was lit in the Thalden Pavilion at the Sustainability Center on the Southern Oregon University (SOU) campus in Ashland. This symbol of peace, unity, freedom, and celebration aims to inspire people everywhere that the individual plays a crucial role in creating peace at every level. It is only the second such flame in the United States. The students at the Ashland Middle School are the World Peace Flame Flame Keepers and keep it clean and refueled every Friday. This “One Flame — uniting people worldwide,” comes from the World Peace Flame Foundation, The Hague, Netherlands.
Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations, and Founder of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, came to Ashland to meet the AMS Flame Keepers and learn first-hand how ACPC partners with the city, and community organizations. Ambassador Chowdhury also came to be the keynote speaker at the ACPC Global Peace Conference on Sept. 21, 2019. This peace conference was one of a kind as the speakers were leaders representing the local community, the City of Ashland, the State of Oregon, national and international organizations, and each person spoke of how they demonstrate the culture of peace in their work. This underscored the peacebuilding influence of ACPC throughout the Ashland community.
With this background experience, my talk was titled, “Practical solutions of infusing the Culture of Peace in a City.” In part, I said, “My intention is to briefly introduce you to an infrastructure for peace that can positively impact ‘Advancing Peace through Social Inclusion.’” My focus was on practical solutions for infusing the culture of peace in a city.
For a six-year period we worked with the Ashland mayor and City Council to help them learn what it means to become an International City of Peace and, at times, provided consultations.
Inspiring and instilling the Culture of Peace in a community takes time and being open to inner guidance, with patience, persistence, and being bold.
Among the vital themes of justice, human rights, sustainable development, and emerging global trends that were discussed, I was delighted to find that a focus on the imperative of the culture of peace for humanity continued to be expressed.
Ashland is seen as a city leader in this arena. May we once again live up to this world view.