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Peace and Justice

Articles from Servas Members Addressing World Peace and the Universal Human Condition

Peace & Justice Blogs

Many Servas members are doing exciting and interesting things to enhance opportunities for Peace and Social Justice. Perhaps you are involved with a local, or national, project to improve the environment, helping with refugees, engaged with various democracy enhancing projects, or a community food bank. Other Servas members may want to know, maybe even join in the effort. We invite you to contribute your story about your personal efforts to buttress Peace and Social Justice. 

Featured Articles

Unique peace and justice articles submitted by Servas members that are particularly well-written and/or might be of special interest to members. Tell us about it. Submit your stories here.

Click here to send in your story.

Click here to contact the US Servas Peace Secretary.

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  • June 28, 2024 12:38 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Mystical graphic of eye, stars, head, servas logo, and group of peopleby Eliana Lynne Uretsky

    Note - Eliana recently rejoined Servas after a long-term gap, so she needed to reapply for membership. We were so inspired by her answers to two questions on the application that we thought our members would be inspired by her words - Marguerite Hills

    What does Peace Mean to you?

    Ahhh. I notice my breathing expand and I calm just reading the question. Peace is not just an absence of war or anything else. It includes qualities of calm, well-being, spaciousness, presence, allowing self and other to just be, a kind of neutrality. Peace can also be active - the result of hearing another/others and finding common ground.

    When you hear “Peace and Understanding through Travel and Hosting” what comes to mind?

    See last question's response, and.... Taking the time to communicate with the human beings right in front of us, just as they are; listening; giving full attention, presence - these are powerful tools. Every place I have ever traveled, especially where I have stayed with locals, is now a part of my inner geographical and heart's landscape, and as that landscape grows, there is an increase in capacity to 'hold the world.'"  

    "To have the felt experience of being a citizen of the world, to know and have a caring connection with human beings around the globe, is life-changing; isolationism becomes not even faintly an option. This then affects our thinking and our actions. I think that now more than ever, with divisiveness and hate so much on the rise, the simple human connections speak louder than ever. And I think that being a sane and considerate "ambassador" from the U.S. is extremely important at this time.

  • May 25, 2024 12:34 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    by Karen Morian, Peace Secretary

    I felt an intense pride at seeing the large numbers of (mostly) women activists who attended, and a renewed energy being among them. I came away with an increased respect and appreciation for all the efforts of those who came before me. So much amazing work has been done at the international level of which I was unaware even though I consider myself a well-travelled activist. The ongoing work of the UN delegates and agencies is awe-inspiring. The energy of the younger attendees continues to be a force which drives progress forward.

    As the Peace Secretary for US Servas, I am working to bring more awareness to US Servas members of the work the UN does daily, especially their agencies on the ground. And to the possibilities for Servas to engage more in international peacebuilding, social justice, and climate action efforts. We are planning a national (in-person/online hybrid) event for the UN International Day of Peace which will highlight some of this work and the possibilities to participate.

    For our contribution to this international movement, I propose that Servas become the housing network for these international activists. In doing so, we will support folks doing good work who are (of course) working with limited budgets (the US Servas Board has endorsed this idea).

    I was astounded to learn that some of the folks in the first Rainbow Caucus meeting had never been in a predominantly queer space before. We forget how much work there is still to do on LGBTQIA rights and protections around the world.

    I networked every day at CSW68 to increase the visibility of Servas, and now have a lot of contacts with whom to follow up. For instance, I joined the Council of Organizations (of US-UN NGOs) and will represent Servas there.  

    The work done by Servas presentation coordinators was extraordinary. I felt well-informed and connected throughout CSW68. We are, generally, independent travelers, which creates opportunities for many perspectives. For next year, I’ve suggested we hold our meet-up in a closed space which will be quieter and provide more opportunities for small group conversations. I’ve also suggested that there be a SERVAS sign on the door. Additionally, I’ve suggested that we have one parallel, in person event to better network with those on the ground. The possibilities to increase our presence at the next CSWs are unlimited.

    *The 68th Conference on the Status of Women

  • March 29, 2024 8:32 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    2024 Conference on the Status of Women

    Graphic of woment working - from UN websiteWith its goal of promoting peace, Servas International has consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This enables Servas members to participate in several UN conferences and meetings. One of these conferences is the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that takes place in March each year. The purpose of CSW is to strengthen gender equality, which is one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Servas members have been participating in CSW for the past five years, because equality is necessary for true peace. For more information about this year’s conference see  CSW68

    This year's conference--CSW68--took place at the UN in New York March 11-22. It had the priority theme of empowering women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing. The conference also reviewed social protection systems for women and girls, their access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality. Representatives of the UN’s member countries, UN agencies, and NGOs had discussions that led to Agreed Conclusions about what they will do to strengthen gender equality. This is to include a global wealth tax on the over $3 trillion hidden in illegal offshore accounts. These funds will then be directed towards much needed social programs.

    Over 10,000 people registered to attend in-person, including fifteen Servas members from the US and eleven other countries who were hosted by Servas members in the NY/NJ/CT area. US Servas contributed travel assistance funds which covered a portion of the travel expenses of three Servas Youth and four other members from the Global South. Members participated in a Town Hall with the Secretary General, observed official meetings, and attended numerous side events and parallel sessions presented by UN agencies, member nations, and NGOs. Nearly fifty Servas members registered to attend the Forum virtually. A special thanks to Kent Macauley, Rachel Elion Baird, and Paige LaCombe for their work on organizing Servas’ participation at this important event.

    The NGO-CSW68 Forum was a separate event which occurred simultaneously with CSW. The Forum is organized by and for global civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Servas. The Forum had over 750 parallel events that showcased grassroots efforts and gender equality work around the world. Here is a link to NGO Events held during the conference.

    This year, Servas members organized three parallel events. These included a virtual event organized by US Servas member Rachel Elion Baird, on the topic of Indigenous Nations of US and Canada: Poverty Sources, Solutions, and Collective Vision. Servas Taiwan and Servas India and Mexico hosted two other events. You will be able view all three on Servas International's YouTube channel shortly. A big Thank You to all the presenters of Servas Parallel Events.

    In addition, this year Servas International held our first meet-up during the CSW, where we greeted fellow delegates, staff, and ambassadors to dialog about peace. Meet-ups are an important part of the CSW schedule; it is where people get a chance to mingle freely and speak one-on-one. Watch Open Doors this fall for information on how to attend (in-person or virtually) CSW69 in March 2025.

  • March 29, 2024 8:19 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Abstract painting of crowd of people (from UN website)International Day of Peace:   Sept. 21

    On September 21, US Servas will host a nationwide hybrid conference in honor of the International Day of Peace. Members will gather in person as local or regional groups to plan local activities and engagement, and we will have guest speakers and presenters Zoom in. Plan on 4-6 hours, with a group lunch in the middle.

    Those members interested in helping to coordinate a local or regional event, please contact the US Servas Peace Secretary, Karen Morian at:

  • March 29, 2024 7:34 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of two women in a compassionate conversationby Karen Morian, U.S. Servas Peace Secretary, with G. Scott Brown

    Our society is currently in a disconnected and divisive period. Many of us have lost the desire to engage in difficult conversations because they are hurtful and seem to lead nowhere. U.S. Servas is committed to supporting our members, both travelers and hosts in re-entering that conversational space where we can learn the most from each other and move forward together. This guide is a tool to help us be more engaged with others. It IS worth the effort to connect with others and to build new relationships as we recommit to Servas core mission of building a more peaceful world.

    When approaching difficult conversations bring your curiosity, humility, and empathy. Leave your desires to debate, critique, or judge outside. Check these regularly. Set your intentions to have a peaceful conversation. 

    Keep Context in Mind: The times we live in are insane. The root meaning of the word insane is “not whole.” Disconnection, insecurity, and fear are pervasive. Even just the intention of wanting to connect and have authentic conversations counts for a lot! Insanity is only part of the story, and not the largest part. This earth we share is filled with beauty and wonder, mystery, and love. Paradox is everywhere: the light and dark, health and hurt, creation and destruction. Keeping the Big Picture in mind can help you keep your seat when the going gets rough! What is the Big Picture for you and what are your intentions? Get very clear about this. The following “Rs” can be very useful as intentions.

    Responsibility: The real challenge of connecting conversations is to always look at ourselves and the necessity to continue our personal evolution toward greater self-awareness, understanding, and love. This is the territory of personal responsibility and it’s the foundation not just for healthy conversations and relationships but empowered and fulfilling lives.

    It’s all too easy to say to ourselves: “don’t take it personally” or “don’t judge others.” But we will take it personally and we will judge others unless we make a real practice out of taking personal responsibility. This doesn’t mean being perfect or shaming ourselves when we fall short. It means staying awake, staying with our intentions.

    Resources:  We all have things we do that help us relax and come back to center: taking a walk, listening to music, talking things out with a friend... Bringing more consciousness and intention to the ways we “resource” ourselves builds our capacity to stay grounded.

    Relationship: Prioritize relationships! Since so many of our deepest needs and longings are only met through relationships, developing relationships themselves is primary, and more important than any issue you might want to discuss. When your ego is wounded, you say the wrong thing, or are misunderstood, come back to your intentions, to personal responsibility, to your resources, and prioritize relationships.

    Respect and Repair: All the above lay the foundation for respect and the ability to repair a damaged relationship. An easily overlooked aspect of respect is self-respect. When we’ve caused harm, it’s often easy to fall into feelings of shame. This is when we need to come back to the center, back into our adult selves. By doing this, we show respect for ourselves, for others, and for the relationship.

    A commitment to responsibility, resources, relationship, and respect makes it possible to repair harm when it occurs — which it will! We are sensitive beings with nervous systems designed for connection. It’s time we normalize the hurt and disconnection that is an unavoidable aspect of relationships and strive to be authentic. By framing harm as unmet human needs, we humanize it, and avoid the blame game.

    Without ongoing repair—as a natural and basic aspect of a healthy relationship—it is practically inevitable that relationships (and conversations) will run aground on the shores of resentment and disconnection.

    The Practice: Knowing we can never know the full experience of another can bring a helpful humility and sincere curiosity.

    • Be curious and listen to understand. Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking. You might enjoy exploring how others’ experiences have shaped their values and perspectives.
    • Show respect and suspend judgment. People are tribal and tend to judge one another because they are different. Setting judgement aside opens you up to learning from others and makes them feel respected and appreciated. Try to truly listen, without interruption or crosstalk.
    • Seek common ground as well as clarifying any differences. Look for areas of agreement or shared values that may exist and take an interest in the differing beliefs and opinions of others.
    • Be authentic and welcome that in others. Share what’s important to you. Speak from your experience. Be considerate of others who are doing the same.
    • Be purposeful and to the point. Do your best to keep your comments concise and relevant to the questions to which you are responding. Be conscious of sharing airtime with other participants.
    • Own and guide the conversation. Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation. Be proactive in getting yourself and others back on track if needed. Use an agreed upon signal like the “time out” sign if you feel the agreements are not being honored.


    Thanks to G. Scott Brown of for his work on this guide and his ongoing work to build a more peaceful world.

  • January 23, 2024 1:38 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Graphic for CSW68 NGO Forum with women of different culturesby Kent Macauley

    For two weeks in March each year, the United Nations holds a major conference on women's rights and gender equality.  This is the UN Commission on the Status of Women promotes women’s rights, documents the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shapes global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.  This year's 68th conference (CSW68) is being held in New York City from March 11 to 22.  Twenty Servas members worldwide (four from North America) have been selected to attend CSW68 in-person. Visit the US CSW68 webpage for more information.

    The NGO-CSW68 Forum is organized by and for civil society and non-governmental organizations like Servas. The Forum helps educate and advocate on the gender equality issues that the UN member countries are discussing at that moment.  The Forum is huge and dynamic, typically with between 700 and 800 online, in-person, and hybrid “parallel events” (1- to-2-hour webinars and discussions) on a wide array of gender equality topics. 

    The forum coincides with the CSW68 dates - March 11-22. This year, many of the Forum’s parallel events will focus on the CSW68 priority theme of women and poverty, and on the review theme of social protection for women.  We are excited that Servas is organizing and will be offering three of the parallel events as follows:

    March 16 Servas Taiwan • Economic and social resilience of older rural women

    March 18 Rachel Elion Baird (US Servas) • The situation of North American Indigenous women

    March 19 Servas India, with Servas Mexico • Anti-poverty work by local organizations working with women

    You are warmly invited to participate in the Forum virtually.  As your first step in participating online, please complete the online Servas Application Form.  After doing so, you will receive further information by email.  Registration is free.

    CSW68 graphic of multicultural women at work


  • January 17, 2024 2:05 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    By David Schwartz and Andrea Veltman  

    Are you ready for some good news about refugees in the United States? In 2023, over 60,000 were admitted legally. We don't know how many will be admitted in 2024, but it is likely to be in the tens of thousands. All of them will need sponsors. Most refugees are sponsored by groups and many of the groups are church based. David Schwartz and Andrea Veltman, longtime Servas members from Oakland, CA, would like to create another kind of sponsorship group: Servas members. We (David and Andrea) hope to help organize one or more groups; they can be anywhere in the USA.  

    What does refugee sponsorship mean?It means being a route to safety for people coming from difficult or desperate circumstances. It can be transformative for both the sponsored and the sponsors. Sponsorship can mean contributions of money, time or both. There are many ways to raise funds and there are plenty of ways to help. Refugees need help with a wide range of tasks to settle into a new life in a new place. In other words, whether or not you can contribute dollars, you may be able to make a valuable contribution.  

    What are we planning now?We are looking for Servas members who would like to begin discussions (via videoconference) of the ins and outs, ups and downs, pros and cons of refugee sponsorship. Once we understand what’s involved, we may move on to forming one or more local groups to begin the process of refugee sponsorship. We are only seeking a discussion group, not a commitment to sponsor or lead a group.  

    This is what will be discussed.  

    • the requirements of sponsorship  

    • how to raise the funds required to sponsor an individual or family  

    • how to organize a Servas group in your area  

    • how local Servas groups can support one another  

    • other topics that you add to the agenda  

    What does this have to do with Servas? Any groups formed by this process will not be official Servas bodies. But as Servas members, we know that Servas cares about peace and justice; giving refugees a chance to restart their lives in a safe environment furthers both. Servas is about cross-cultural communication and learning; hosting refugees provides an opportunity for communication and learning in both directions. Servas is about making connections; sponsoring refugees is an opportunity to make connections that might last a lifetime.  

    How can you join the discussion? To attend Register Here. The discussion group will have its first meeting (virtually) on:

                  Saturday, Feb 10th, at 9:00 am Pacific                    10am MT • 11am CT • 12pm ET

    If you would like to be part of this effort but cannot attend the Feb 10th meeting, please send an email to David at and he will put you on a list to receive future announcements. (Please write “Refugee Discussion Group” in the subject line.)  

    How can you learn moreYou’ll find a plethora of helpful information about welcoming refugees to the USA at and Plan to learn from like-minded fellow Servas members at our meeting on Feb. 10th, as above. Questions, comments, encouragement?  Send an email to David Schwartz with “Refugee Discussion Group” in the subject line. Please share any relevant information including your location.  

  • November 25, 2023 3:33 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Servas Taiwan logoWe are happy to invite you and would be honored to have you join the 3rd Servas Peace Forum, which will be hosted by Taiwan on Saturday, December 2nd from 7:00 – 8:30 AM Eastern time. The subject of the meeting will be “Partnership with local communities and universities."

    Recently, Servas Taiwan collaborated with a community in a remote area to host Travelers. Both sides felt things went very well. Soon, Servas Taiwan will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Providence University to encourage more youth to join Servas. Come to see what they did and how to achieve this in your area. Here is a link to Register.

    We look forward to meeting you online. In peace and friendship,

    Francisco Salomón Luna Aburto / Mei Wang

    Servas International Peace Secretaries

    "Servas International has the overarching, long-term vision of a peaceful world, and its mission is to contribute to achieving this goal." 

  • November 25, 2023 2:50 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Commission on the Status of Women logoby Francisco Salomon Luna and Mei Wang (Servas International’s Peace Secretaries)  

    You are warmly invited to apply to Servas International to participate in the sixty-eighth UN CSW68 conference. The Servas International CSW68 Coordinating Team has been working on the event for some time. The team consists of Francisco Salomon Luna and Mei Wang, Hamsa Singh (SI Coordinator to the UN), Paige LaCombe (US Servas) and Kent Macaulay (Servas Canada). In addition to the core group, other Servas members have begun the legwork to organize Servas' virtual and online participation.    

    Servas International has consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. This status enables Servas members to participate in a number of UN conferences and meetings. One of these conferences is the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that takes place in March each year. The purpose of CSW is to strengthen gender equality, which is one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Servas members have been participating in CSW for the past five years, in the belief that we cannot have lasting peace in the world until we have much greater equality for all. 

    About CSW68: The next CSW conference--CSW68--will take place at the UN in New York from March 11 to 22, 2024. It will have the priority theme of empowering women and girls by addressing poverty and by strengthening institutions and financing. The conference will also be reviewing social protection systems for women and girls, their access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality. Representatives of the UN’s member countries, UN agencies and NGOs will have discussions that lead to Agreed Conclusions about what they will do to strengthen gender equality. 

     Servas International has submitted a written statement to the CSW68 convenors on the topic of women, poverty and armed conflict in time to meet the early October deadline for such submissions. Here is a link to the full written statement 

    The NGO-CSW Forum:

    The NGO-CSW Forum is organized by and for global civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Servas to help connect them with the official CSW68 process described above. The Forum has over 750 “parallel events” that inform and inspire grassroots efforts and gender equality advocacy around the world. Although the NGO-CSW Forum takes place at the same time and complements CSW68, it is a separate process with separate organizers. 

    Servas International offered its first-ever parallel event at the 2023 Forum—a virtual session on Afghan refugee women and on Servas Tűrkiye’s Peace School. We are currently discussing the possibility of Servas offering two or three parallel events at the upcoming NGO-CSW Forum in March. 

    There is no limit on the number of Servas members who can register to attend the Forum virtually. If you are interested in this, please complete and submit the Application Form by January 26. Servas will have online sessions during the weeks prior to the Forum to provide further information. 

    Participate in the UN CSW68 Conference

    The UN will allow up to 20 Servas members to attend CSW68 in-person in New York. We want all of these Servas members to attend the first week of CSW68 (March 11 to 15). If you are interested in this, please complete and submit the Application Form by December 5. The five-person CSW68 Coordinating Team will then decide which 20 Servas members will attend in-person.

    All Servas participants, whether virtual or in-person, will be asked to do a summary report on their experiences and impressions of CSW68, and to share that report with Servas’ CSW68 Coordinating Team. In addition, as part of promoting gender equality within their home country, Servas participants will be asked to share their report with the Servas newsletter, website and/or social media in their country and to share their experiences of CSW68 through a presentation for their country’s Servas members. 

    CSW68 and the NGO-CSW Forum are excellent opportunities for Servas members to learn, network and contribute to make the world a more equal and peaceful place. We welcome your interest in participating. 

  • October 25, 2023 12:02 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of Israeli woman & Palestinian woman making peace signs by Dr. Hamsavahini Singh, Peace Secretary, Servas India & Servas International’s UN Coordinator. 

    Servas International has the overarching, long-term vision of a peaceful world, and its mission is to contribute to achieving this goal.

    Friends, now when we are about to celebrate International Peace Day it seems necessary to ask ourselves the question if we are " International " anymore?Are we willing to encourage, to invite, to welcome others, our brothers and sisters on this our common property,  this earth, to visit us in our homes, in our communities, in our countries, to enjoy what we have been blessed with, our resources, our know-how, our technology, to  give them our time, our friendship, our love and affection, to make them feel at home? Or, should we confront ourselves with the question whether we have become more and more narrow-minded, small hearted, selfish, greedy, regional, parochial, ultra-nationalistic, warmongering, disturbing, arrogant, violent, threatening Peace? 

    Today the world seems to be a more frightful place than ever before with regional wars and local conflicts fueled by mistrust, distrust, mutual hostility based upon creed, caste and color of the skin with programs to deprive, displace and drive out hundreds of thousands of hapless men, women and children from their habitat, homes and homelands. Every hour of the day we come across tragic, painful, devastating reports from many parts of the world about human beings like ourselves forced to flee from their homes, from war, religious bigotry, rising prices  and climate change and the  resulting destruction at home in small, flimsy, unseaworthy, over-burdened boats risking their lives and everything they may have been able to pick-up and carry with them to find sanctuaries in strange lands for themselves, their families, their children, their future generations. 
    Mahatma Gandhi, a great source of inspiration to the likes of Bob Luitweiler and his cofounders of Servas, to Martin Luther King, to Nelson Mandela and many other " Peace-builders " around the world remarked something like this that "There is enough on this earth to provide for the "needs" of everyone but certainly not enough to satisfy the “greed" of anyone." 

    Our greed has angered Mother Nature. Our mindless hunger for more and yet more has scorched the Earth, has heated the Sky, has poisoned the Water. We are having more wildfires in more and more places, we have unprecedented droughts, heatwaves, floods, storms, hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis challenging our existence. 
    It was said that "The meek shall inherit the Earth." But we are not meek, we are not humble, we are not respectful to others, we are not friendly, we do not love ourselves anymore, those around us, our environment, the world around us, our brother trees and our sister rivers and rivulets and lakes and ponds.  

    If we really desire to have peace amongst us in our world in our lifetime, we will first have to overcome our greed and stop our mindless consumption; we must be prepared to share our hearts, our minds, our concerns, our time, our know-how, our resources. Only through sharing, through love and friendship, through empathy and cooperation, through understanding and mutual respect, through deliberations and dialogue shall we be able to bring genuine and lasting peace to us, to our world. 
    We must cease to do anything to others which we would never wish   to be done to ourselves. 

    What is the way forward? How do we go from here, from this dark, dreadful, dangerous present to the bright, peaceful, happy future?  Yes, we can reach our destination, peace, joy and happiness by adopting the Values of Servas. Our beloved and esteemed family of the members of Servas open the doors to their homes, their hearts to others, to share what they have with others. We, the members of Servas can share and spread this Gospel of Love, mutual trust, friendship, active cooperation, harmony and understanding the view-points of others locally by word of mouth, by holding regular meetings of the members, by inviting others to such meetings and introducing them to the vision and values of Servas and encouraging them to become members, by writing newsletters, by writing stories and sharing experiences about the visits of our guests in newspapers and through digital media, by doing presentations about Servas in schools and colleges, in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples and clubs and associations and fraternities in our communities, in our neighborhoods. 

    On the occasion of“International Peace Day” let me share a very nice PeaceWish from the ancient Yajurveda. 

    "May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere. May peace reign all over this earth, in water and in all herbs, trees and creepers. May peace flow over the whole universe. May peace be in the supreme being Brahman. And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone." 

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The Gendered Digital Divide 

By Yosi McIntire

Unquestionably, digitalization is rapidly transforming societies. Unprecedented socio-economic advances can be expected. However, it is generally acknowledged that young women, girls, and gender-diverse youth and adolescents—especially poorer ones in rural areas—are disproportionately and systematically excluded from access to technology. ... more

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