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There has not been very much publicity, but the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed this year as the International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace. The proposal came from Turkmenistan with 68 co-sponsors including all of the countries of Central Asia, reflecting the fact that these countries are menaced by the nearby war in the Ukraine. The resolution was adopted by consensus although reservations were expressed by the United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

In his opening remarks at the launch ceremony in January, Vepa Hajiyev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, said, "Currently, these principles and goals are particularly relevant against the background of the existing systemic problems of international relations. In this context, we see a common task in turning the International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace into a powerful constructive process designed to provide an incentive for dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding”. Other speakers at the launch ceremony considered the year as implementation of the 1999 International Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

Concerning the war in Ukraine, a new proposal from China insists that "Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. All efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be encouraged and supported. The international community should stay committed to the right approach of promoting talks for peace, help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard." 

According to the analysis of the French Mouvement de la Paix, the Chinese proposal was supported by many commentators in the Global South, while it was dismissed by the United States and its European allies. Some Asian countries, however, remarked that China should live up to these principles with regard to Taiwan.

Dialogues for peace are ongoing through the auspices of the International Parliamentary Union, including between opposing sides of the conflicts in Ukraine, Palestine and Cyprus. Another important voice for peace through dialogue is that of Pope Francis. In a video distributed worldwide on February 6, the Pope states that, “The time has come to live in a spirit of fraternity and build a culture of peace.” In recent years the Pope has stressed dialog for peace with other religions, such as in his meeting with the grand imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt in 2019 and his voyage this year to Africa with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In Africa, a continent torn by many armed conflicts, there are important voices for peace through dialogue.

Speaking at a Global Security Forum, General Djibril Bassolé, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, caused a sensation by saying “We must dialogue with armed terrorist groups . . . In any case, dialogue is one of the typically African means of settling conflicts and easing tensions. I think that as Africans we must find our own ways to resolve the crises that have undermined our societies."

With regard to African traditions for settling conflicts, a recent homage to the great poet of Madagascar, Jean Joseph Rabearivelo, underlines that "Through cultural diversity, which should be nurtured by a permanent dialogue without ulterior motives, we are rich in our differences!"

A broad approach of dialogue is being supported in Burkina Faso by the NGO Search for Common Ground. More than 500 participants, including local authorities, religious and customary leaders, and representatives of eight communities took part in an event in March. The strong participation of women, with 300 present, underscored their crucial role. The neighbouring country of Niger has made dialogue with violent extremist groups an important part of its strategy. By including dialogue in its counter-terrorism efforts, Niger is experimenting with an approach similar to those in Algeria and Mauritania , which underpin their decade-long protection against jihadist violence. In Latin America, where dialogue made possible the peace accords in Colombia, another step forward was taken this month when the dissident rebel group, Estado Mayor Central (EMC), finally agreed to begin peace talks with the government. And in Mexico, also torn by violence, a national peace conference was convened in March by 175 organizations and groups. "We want to talk to each other, listen to each other, understand each other, support each other. We want to imagine and build all possible safeguards to face violence and find all the paths to peace."

In Europe, where Greece and Turkey have long been in conflict, a new commitment to dialogue was made by the defense ministers of those countries following a joint visit to the areas of Turkey devastated by the earthquake in February. In Asia, it seems that dialogue for peace can be dangerous. As explained by Al Jazeera, "under South Korean law, citizens are prohibited from contact with North Korean people or organisations unless they receive government permission." Despite this, South Korea’s two biggest trade unions, the KCTU and the FKTU, signed a joint statement last fall with their sibling trade union in North Korea, opposing US war exercises. The South Korean government responded with a crackdown. In January the national intelligence service raided KCTU offices. Multiple organizers and union leaders were charged under the anti-communist National Security Law, accused of being spies for North Korea. In a world where there is increasing danger of a nuclear war that could destroy all human civilization, the need for peace through dialogue is greater than ever. Let us hope that all world leaders will engage in this dialogue.

* * * * *If you cannot see the photos click here for the internet version. For the bulletin in French, click here . For the bulletin in Spanish, click here









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By Geoffrey Ondercin-Bourne

Fri., Feb. 25, 2022

The United Nations Association in Canada Hamilton Branch (UNAC HB) invites you to a special online public event on Sunday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. to mark the UN’s annual World Day of Social Justice.

The UNAC HB focuses on human rights, peace issues, environmental concerns and global interests to raise the awareness of the United Nations in our community. Our local branch of UNAC actually predates the UN, itself, having been established in the 1920s during the time of the League of Nations. We’ve been a part of the Hamilton community for a century!

Our event, entitled “Listening to the Next Generation,” features three outstanding Hamilton-area youth who will offer their perspectives on what a “just transition” should look like, identify the obstacles, as well as the means by which we can overcome those obstacles.

The inspiration for this event comes from both the United Nations Framework Conference for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its report called “Just Transition of the Workforce and the Creation of Decent Work and Quality Jobs” (, as well as Hamilton’s own 2021 document “A Just Recovery for Hamilton” ( It is also inspired by several of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including no poverty (No. 1), reduced inequalities (No. 10), climate action (No. 13), and peace, justice and strong institutions (No. 16) (

Young people have a special interest in securing a just economy that addresses the needs of workers but within a framework that acknowledges and takes on the challenge of climate change. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, COVID-19 has shone a light on the significant changes in the very nature of work that will force young people to better appreciate the need for a just transition than older workers who grew up in a 20th-century model of employment. For these reasons, we believe this is a timely discussion for Canadians to engage in with each other.

We have three next generation leaders who will give us three different but complementary presentations that reflect a community, global, and Indigenous interpretation of what the just transition should look like. It is essential that young people take their rightful place in any discussion about this transition, with all the environmental and economic impacts that it will have on them. To make this happen, “the transition toward inclusive green economies must be fair, maximizing opportunities for economic prosperity, social justice, rights and social protection for all, leaving no one behind.”

With that goal in mind, the International Labour Organization, an agency of the UN, prepared a report called “Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets,” which warns us that “the future of the planet, of work, of innovation and of equality and justice will depend on how today’s youth find their rightful place in society.” These are all challenges that will be a part of our discussion, which we hope will end on an optimistic note.

Please join us for a lively and informed discussion led by the next generation of youth leaders about their future, as well as the future of our society and the planet. For further details, visit our website at and click on the events tab.

Geoffrey Ondercin-Bourne is vice-chair of the United Nations Association of Canada, Hamilton Branch.

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by Joy Warner, Hamilton Spectator, October 27, 2020

Recent news reports say “Canada has taken a big leap closer to meeting its promise to the NATO military alliance to spend a larger share of its economy on defence.” This is no cause for celebration. Surely this is a case of skewed priorities in a time of the global pandemic, increased demands for health research spending, and expanding youth unemployment to name just a few of the economic challenges facing Canada today.

War is big business for weapons manufacturers.

Canadian weapons exports in 2019 saw a 78 per cent increase over the prior year, rising from $2.1 billion to $3.75 billion. Saudi Arabia was the largest non-U.S. export destination, receiving approximately $2.864 billion in Canadian military exports.

American arms exports increased more than 20 per cent over the past decade and were 76 per cent higher than those of the second-largest arms exporter in the world, Russia.

At the same time, we are failing in our foreign aid commitments. When the Liberals were first elected in 2015, ODA stood at 0.28 per cent of global national income, a ratio that the Trudeau government has never surpassed. Canada is unlikely to return to being one of the world’s most generous aid donors any time soon, let alone meet its five-decades-old target of 0.7 per cent of GNI.

Peace researcher Tamara Lorincz reminds us that “The ecological footprint of war and ongoing preparations for war cannot be ignored. Militarism is a top contributor to the global climate crisis and a direct cause of lasting environmental damage. And yet military activities are often exempted from key environmental regulations, such as the Kyoto Protocol.”

According to the Political Economy Research Institute, investing in peacetime industries produces more jobs, and, in many cases, better-paying jobs, than would spending that money on the military. For example, each billion dollars of government spending invested in the military creates about 12,000 jobs. Investing it instead in health care produces 18,000 jobs, in education 25,000 jobs, and in mass transit 27,700 jobs. The average wages and benefits of the 25,000 education jobs created is significantly higher than that of the military’s 12,000 jobs.

Furthermore, according to the 2018 Global Peace Index, produced by the IEP, the global economic impact of violence is $14.76 trillion, 12 per cent of global GDP. Based on estimates from the United Nations, just $30 billion a year — 1.5 per cent of global military spending — could end hunger on earth and $11 billion a year could provide clean drinking water for all.

It is time to stop the military spending theft from health care, education, infrastructure, the environment, poverty and homelessness

It is time to restore Canada’s reputation as a global leader in peace building. It is also time to challenge the falsehoods that war is inevitable, that other people are evil, that war is in our nature and that war is noble and glorious.

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