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International Day of Conscience – 5 ِApril

Promoting a Culture of Peace with Love and Conscience

The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that « disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of humankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people. » Moreover, article 1 of the Declaration states that « all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. »

The task of the United Nations to save future generations from the scourge of war requires transformation towards a culture of peace, which consists of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society.

Origins of a Culture of Peace

The concept of a culture of peace emerged from the International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Côte d’Ivoire in July 1989. Since then the promotion of a culture of peace has increasingly been seen as a worthwhile objective of the international community. The evolving concept has inspired activities at so many levels and in so many regions with the full participation of civil society that the culture of peace is gradually taking on the characteristics of a global movement.


Source: Text (abridged) & Image:    Photo: UN Photo/Mohamad Almahady People taking part in activities related to the Peace and Peaceful Coexistence Festival organized by the Communication and Public Information Section of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).


2nd Sunday of Advent, Year A – 2022-2023

“Life is hard!”
You may have heard a number of people say this recently, and you probably felt that you knew what they meant!
Viruses of different kinds, the cost of living with inflation, shortage of different items, lack of personnel in different services, conflicts and war –
the list could go on.
Faced with all this, people feel helpless, and they lament and complain – what else can they do, they wonder.

In today’s 2nd reading, the apostle Paul, writing to the first Christians of Rome (Romans 15:4-9), speaks of:
the God who gives endurance and encouragement”.
Reading, or hearing, these words, we may think that this is where help is to be found.
We are told that these will give us HOPE.
God knows – he does indeed – how we need this!

But strangely enough, Paul goes on to say that we should pray God to give us these gifts of endurance and encouragement so that we may have:
“the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.”
It becomes clear, then, that our situation can improve if… we help one another!
Our condition will get better by making it easier for others to bear their burden –
the burden of daily life and all that it entails…

We may not manage to overcome all the difficulties people are faced with, but we may be able to bring some comfort to those in need of it.
Helping one another may be the way to brighten, not only their life, but also our own!

The season of Advent is a good period to make this experience…
We may be surprised at how positive the result turns out to be!

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at:


Source: Image: Pinterest



4th Sunday of Advent, Year C – 2021

The daily news broadcast on television shows us long files of migrants and would-be refugees.
Asked why they left their country, the recurring answer is that there was no security, no peace, where they come from.
SECURITY and PEACE, the essentials for a decent life, a life without threat of being hurt, tortured, killed.

In today’s 1st reading (Micah 5:1-4) the prophet Micah promises, in God’s name, those very precious things.
The prophet says that, when he comes to us, God’s Messenger will bring these gifts from God himself.
The message is clear and there can be no doubt about its meaning.

“They (the people) will live securely…
And he will be our peace.”

This special Messenger of God has indeed come to us.
This is what we prepare to celebrate anew in this Advent Season.
We know that he has not failed to carry out God’s promise to bring security and peace to our world.

But then, why, indeed WHY is there so much conflict, war, maiming, killing, in our world today?
Security? It is absent in so many places…
Peace? People lament that it is missing in so many areas.
What has happened?

The answer lies in… the ‘mystery’ of human freedom!
And it is a mystery, really!

God who created us in his own image, made us free beings.
But in so doing, he took the risk that we might use our freedom in a way that would go against his plan –
his plan of a world where people would love one another and live in peace.
We could say here what the popular expression repeats in different circumstances: “The ball is in our court”!

If we want peace, we need to promote it, to work for it.
We need to create situations where good will and mutual understanding make for peaceful relationships between us.

At this time, many of us start decorating our homes for the festive season.
What about putting somewhere – in the Christmas tree, or hanging on a star, or stuck in a window –
a small object which will remind us of our ‘mission’ of promoting peace, being messengers of PEACE?

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at:


And in a short video, also in French, Ghislaine Deslières offers us another reflection on this 4th Sunday of Advent, Year C, at:




Source: Images: The Reflectionary

World Humanitarian Day – 19 August

Every year, thousands of men and women the world over put their lives in danger working in Humanitarian causes all over the world. Working in the most poverty and illness stricken third world countries the world over, often in areas of great social violence, these dedicated heroes put their lives on the line, and sometimes lose them in the pursuit of their goals. World Humanitarian Day is when we remember these heroes and their sacrifices.

History of World Humanitarian Day
World Humanitarian Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his fellow humanitarians in a bombing of the Baghdad headquarters of the UN. Sergio had worked at great length attempted to pull together the Draft for the official designation of World Humanitarian Day.

Sergio was born in Brazil, and worked tirelessly over three decades to help those victims of armed conflict by easing their pain and making sure the world did not forget them. Awareness was a vital part of his campaign, trying to ensure that those in First World Countries and places of peace remembered that there was more to war than the deaths of combatants and conflicts between governments. These people struggle every day to survive against odds that were created in spite of their desire to just live in peace and safety.

World Humanitarian Day was officially established to recognize Sergio and the thousands like him who work every day to make the world a better place for the less fortunate, the underprivileged, and those living in places of war, starvation, and pestilence.

Source: Text: DAYSoftheYEAR Image:

World Day against Trafficking in Persons – 30 July

On the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the UN aims to create awareness about human trafficking and worldwide efforts to defeat this scourge.

In 2013, the UN member states adopted a resolution which designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. They declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

The Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons was adopted in 2010 and urges governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat human trafficking in all its forms. The UN plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programs to boost development and strengthen security worldwide.

Many Children Are Trafficked
Almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide are children, according to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released in December 2016 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Women and girls comprise 71% of human trafficking victims, the same report states.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally, and of these, a significant number are also trafficking victims.

The UN plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programs to boost development and strengthen security worldwide.

Serious Threat to Human Dignity
The UN resolution also states that trafficking in persons, especially women and children, constitutes an offense and a serious threat to human dignity and physical integrity, human rights, and development. Despite sustained measures taken at the international, regional, and national levels, trafficking in persons remains one of the grave challenges facing the international community, which also impairs the enjoyment of human rights and needs a more concerted international response.

According to the 2016 UN report, women and girls tend to be trafficked for marriages and sexual slavery, while men and boys are typically exploited for forced labor in the mining sector, as porters, and as soldiers. It also states that refugees from war and persecution are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking.

Source: Text & Image: TimeandDate


Mine Awareness Day – 4 April

The United Nations’ International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is observed on April 4 each year. This day aims to raise awareness about landmines and progress toward their eradication.

The day aims to raise awareness about landmines and progress toward their eradication. « Mine action » refers to a range of efforts to clear landmines and explosive remnants of war and to mark and fence off dangerous areas. It also includes assisting victims, teaching people how to remain safe in a mine-affected environment, advocating for universal participation in international treaties related to landmines, explosive remnants of war and their victims, and destroying landmines stockpiled by governments and non-state armed groups. 

On 8 December 2005, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared that April 4 of each year would be officially proclaimed and observed as International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. It was first observed on April 4, 2006.

It called for continued efforts by states, with assistance from the UN and relevant organizations, to help establish and develop national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive war remnants constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of people, or hinders social and economic development at the national and local levels.
According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2005, 84 countries were affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance, which together kill or maim between 15,000 and 20,000 adults and children annually. The UN works together with countries to find and destroy these devices. It also helps to provide various mine-action services in many countries.

Source: Text: Image: YouTube



World Humanitarian Aid Day – 19 August

World Humanitarian Aid (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

2017 WHD campaign: #NotATarget

Around the world, conflict is exacting a massive toll on people’s lives. Trapped in wars that are not of their making, millions of civilians are forced to hide or run for their lives. Children are taken out of school, families are displaced from their homes, and communities are torn apart, while the world is not doing enough to stop their suffering. At the same time, health and aid workers – who risk their lives to care for people affected by violence – are increasingly being targeted.

For WHD 2017, humanitarian partners are coming together to reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are #NotATarget. Through a global online campaign featuring an innovative partnership with Facebook Live, together with events held around the world, we will raise our voices to advocate for those most vulnerable in war zones, and demand that world leaders do everything their power to protect civilians in conflict.

This campaign follows on the UN Secretary-General’s report on protection of civilians, which was launched earlier this year. Laying out his ‘path to protection’, the Secretary-General calls for enhanced respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical workers as well as civilian infrastructure.

Source: Text & Image: UN

International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers – 12 February

 Child Soldiers are Boys and Girls we Failed to Protect
As we mark the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, tens of thousands of boys and girls are associated with armed forces and groups in conflicts in over 20 countries around the world. “Again this year, the multiplication of conflicts and the brutality of tactics of war have made children extremely vulnerable to recruitment and use,” said Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

In the most recent Annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, 56 of the 57 parties to conflict identified for grave violations against children are named because they are recruiting and using child soldiers.

Children are sent to the frontlines as combatants, but many are also used in functions that put their lives in danger such as cooks, porters, spies and informants. During their association with armed groups or forces, children are exposed to high levels of violence. They are witnesses, victims or forced to commit acts of brutality. In addition, a majority of girls, but also boys, are victims of rape and sexual violence. When they are captured or arrested for alleged association with armed groups, too often, children are not treated primarily as victims and denied the protection guaranteed by international norms and standards of juvenile justice.

“Children who are released or escape often have a hard time finding their place in society, or can even be rejected by their communities. We must make it our common responsibility to ensure sufficient resources are available for reintegration to provide psychosocial support as well as education and vocational training. This is crucial to their future and to build peaceful societies,” said Leila Zerrougui.

Twenty years of work to protect boys and girls in conflict
In 1996, the mandate of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was created following the realization that children were the primary victims of armed conflict.

Twenty years later, the international community’s engagement has resulted in a strong framework and concrete tools to engage with parties to conflict and address the violations committed against children during conflict.

“We still face huge challenges to protect children in times of war, but our work and advocacy has led to an emerging consensus among the world’s nations that boys and girls do not belong in national security forces in conflict or in any armed group,” declared the Special Representative

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, now ratified by 162 state parties, has played a crucial role to bring about this consensus. Leila Zerrougui invites all Member States who have not yet ratified the Optional protocol to do so as soon as possible.

Children, Not Soldiers
In 2014, the campaign Children, Not Soldiers was launched by the Special Representative and UNICEF to support the last eight states –Afghanistan, Chad, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen- identified by the Secretary-General for the recruitment of children in their security forces.

Source: Text & Image: A child associated with an armed group in South Sudan is released, UNICEF

World Day of War Orphans – 6 janvier

Civilians bear the brunt of the suffering in war. Of the big number of war victims, the most often neglected are children.

Orphans throughout the world face many challenges: Malnutrition, starvation, disease, and decreased social attention. As the most vulnerable population on planet Earth, they have no one to protect them and are most likely to suffer from hunger, disease, and many other problems.

In recent decades, the proportion of civilian casualties in armed conflicts has increased dramatically and is now estimated at more than 90 per cent. About half of the victims are children.
An estimated 20 million children have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict and human rights violations and are living as refugees in neighbouring countries or are internally displaced within their own national borders.

More than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed conflict over the last decade.
More than three times that number, at least 6 million children, have been permanently disabled or seriously injured.
More than 1 million have been orphaned or separated from their families.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 children are killed or maimed by landmines every year.

An estimated 300,000 child soldiers – boys and girls under the age of 18 – are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. Child soldiers are used as combatants, messengers, porters, cooks and to provide sexual services. Some are forcibly recruited or abducted, others are driven to join by poverty, abuse and discrimination, or to seek revenge for violence enacted against themselves and their families.

Sadly, however, they rarely receive the time, attention, and love for optimal social and personal development. Research reveals that children growing up in an orphanage experience emotional, social, and physical handicaps. Without a doubt, the best place for a child to grow up is in a stable family with a loving father and mother.

Source: Text: Q9 Canada Data Center   Image: Earth Times

World Humanitarian Day – 19 August

« World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk. » — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

2016 Theme: One Humanity
Every day, humanitarian aid workers stand on the front lines of war and disaster, braving tremendous dangers and difficulties to deliver assistance to those who need it most. World Humanitarian Day (WHD), which takes place every year on 19 August, recognizes the aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilizes people to advocate for humanitarian action. The day was designated by the General Assembly seven years ago to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

This World Humanitarian Day, the UN and its partners are calling for global solidarity with the more than 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive. Under the theme of ‘One Humanity’, World Humanitarian Day will highlight how the world came together in Istanbul for the World Humanitarian Summit earlier this year, and made commitments to support people affected by crisis and ensure that aid workers can safely and more effectively deliver to those in need.

Events will be held around the world on 19 August to honor the work of humanitarian workers and to celebrate the theme of ‘One Humanity’. In New York, a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the United Nations headquarters, and a high-level event will be held in the General Assembly Hall. In addition a digital campaign will be launched on the day to raise awareness of the impossible choices that people caught in crisis face. World Humanitarian Day will also feature photo exhibitions and film screenings documenting the lives of those affected by conflict and disaster.

For more information, please visit:  Source: Texte: UN; Ohoto: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (shown on screens at left and right) addresses the closing ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe