By Alison Telsey,
SI Representative to the UN in New York
Geneva Peace Week is October 31 to November 4, 2022. This year’s theme raises the question: Can we eliminate war and violence in a world in which warfare has always been a significant part of human history?
Geneva Peace Week (31 October – 4 November 2022) is quickly approaching. It is a time for organizations both in Geneva and internationally to come together to share knowledge and practice on a range of topics related to the promotion of peace. The theme of this year’s conference is “Peace is Possible”. The optimism expressed by the title is intriguing and it raised the question: Can we eliminate war and violence in a world in which warfare has always been a significant part of human history?
To understand whether peace is possible, it is important to question whether the world is getting better or worse. For many of us, it appears that the world has become more violent and we feel more vulnerable. Everyday the media shares information about disasters, shootings, inequality, war, and the spread of nuclear weapons. The news capitalizes on our morbid interests. Ironically, when one looks at the data of the key variables that impede peace over time, a different conclusion emerges.
Analysis of recent data on homicide, war, poverty, pollution and more reveals that we’re making progress now in every one of them. We have made positive gains in health, wealth, safety, knowledge and leisure. (For example, there has been a significant decline in battle deaths and major wars throughout the 20th century, 90% of people under 25 of the world’s population can read and write, 2/3 of the world is living as a democracy). (Pinker, 2018)
There is room for optimism but we know that problems on the road to peace are inevitable. Progress does not mean that everything gets better for everyone all the time. However, the problems that emerge are problems that can be solved. There is really no limit to the betterments we can attain if we hold onto the conviction that we can apply knowledge to reduce human suffering. If the global community can continue to develop our understanding of the causes of peace and continue to develop systems that support peace, perhaps a world without war is more possible than one would think.
In conclusion in support of Geneva Peace week: “All we are saying is Give Peace A Chance”. Geneva Peace week will take place both in-person and also online. SERVAS members are encouraged to participate in workshops and/or digital series at no cost. Participants will have the opportunity to share peacebuilding skills to apply in their daily life and work. For more information regarding Geneva Peace Week, enter the following link: eu.eventscloud.com
Pinker, Steven : Is the world getting better or worse? A look at the numbers (Ted Talk), April 30, 2018. Link to TED Talk.