Searching for Peace in a Modern World

By Georgina Pickers

NCWQ International Relations and Peace Adviser

The Peace and Security division of the UN estimated Peacekeeping operations since they began in 1948 to 1997 have cost about US$16 billion.  In the financial year 2014 to 2015 the cost will be approximately $7.06 billion. There have been 69 operations since 1948.  There are currently 16 peacekeeping operations, involving over 104,000 personnel.  Interestingly as at September 2014 almost 4,300 military advisers and troops and some 1,150 police are female.  Sadly 3,270 have been killed in operations since 1948.
The recent Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Pakistani school girl and human rights advocate  Malala Yousafzai, and lessor known Indian Child Rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi.  The joint prize was awarded “for their struggle against suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to an education” It’s also significant to note Australian born Doctor Patricia Hamlin was also a nominee.  Doctor Hamlin went to Ethiopia with her husband in 1959 to establish a midwifery teaching hospital. The high incidences of obstetric fistulas motivated them into create the specialist Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.  Although her husband died in 1993 Doctor Hamlin’s work has continued uninterrupted in the treatment of some 35,000 patients. “Hospital by the River” is book worth reading.  It’s a moving account of the hospital’s history and her life.
 The International Day of Peace was celebrated on September 21st at St John’s Cathedral Brisbane. Convened by the United Nations Association (UNAA) it incorporated the Brisbane Peace lecture delivered by Dr Larissa Behrendt, professor of Law at UTS Sydney.  Her address focused on the parallels between Australia’s indigenous and refugee populations and how they are treated.
With all the tragic events, ongoing conflicts and displacement of so many innocent civilians one inspired person in NCWQ, Annette Lourigan decided we needed a dose of prayer.  So on 02 October at St.John’s Anglican Cathedral a United Gathering of Women in Prayer for Peace and Candle Lighting Ceremony of Hope was held.  Representatives from 8 faiths delivered their unique messages of peace and hope.  Accompanied by the Cathedral’s choir the atmosphere was unreserved, hopefully conveying our requests to the ears of those who need it.  This inaugural and moving event hopefully becomes an annual event on NCWQ’s calendar.
 It is significant that the recent approach by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure safe access to the crash site of MH17 is a break though.  The disputed Ukrainian territory has badly affected peaceful global relations with Russia. If and when investigative teams have access, let alone what can be recovered, remains to be seen.
 The Ebola virus outbreak has been tragic for the African countries affected but the international response has equally been unfortunate. While Australia has contributed money the likely hood of personnel is remote.  The government argues legal issues and evacuation if they organise health workers however what is the problem if they help fund the transport of volunteers?  Surely it is a global issue and if this contagion broke out closer to home I wonder what the response would be.
The hosting in Brisbane of the G20 Summit promises to be a significant exercise in the capacity of several layers of authority to coordinate.  Brisbane residents have been told to ‘head west’ on the days of November 15 -16, avoid the airport, forget using your car in some areas but with all that be welcoming to the estimated 7000 attendees.  As good International relations and peace are dependent on worthy dialogue it is sincerely hoped that the event goes off without incident.

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