International Day of Peace Symposium
The All Africa Conference of churches (AACC), in partnership with United Religions Initiative (URI-Africa) and Christian Aid, organized a Symposium to celebrate the International day of Peace at Desmond Tutu Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya,on 21 September 2018. It brought together more than 100 participants drawn from the AACC member churches and the two partner organizations. The partner organizations have decided to focus this year’s celebration on the issue of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), who constitute a threat to peace, because their rights are not recognized and respected.
Each year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.The theme of the International Day this year is “The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”. This year also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
The Symposium was opened by the AACC outgoing General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Andre Karamaga, who spoke about three levels of peace: peace in oneself, peace between individuals and peace between communities or nations.
The Symposium was the opportunity for the participants to listen to presentations and testimonies and alsoshareon the situation of IDPs and refugees in a number of countries. The aim of the interaction was to reflect on the role faith-based organizations couldplay in alleviating their suffering.The facilitators highlighted the cases of different countries, namely Ghana, DRC, Nigeria and South Sudan.
Participants viewed the message from the UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres. Amb. Mussie Hailu from URI-Africa was represented by Mrs. Rattan Channa, who also brought his message to the participants.
In his keynote address, Mr. Bob Kikuyu, the Global senior advisor: Theology and Church Partnerships at Christian Aid said: ‘There can be no true holistic peace for a nation, when there are displaced people’. ‘God has placed us in a particular place at a particular time for a divine purpose. When we displace people, we deny them their right and purpose’, he continued.
He shared about a number of international and African legal instruments about IDPs, namely the Kampala Convention of 2012, the first legally binding African instrument on the plight of IDPS. He also indicated that it was not very well known and was applied differently in countries, depending on the contexts. He called on faith-based organizations to raise awareness on the said Convention and advocate for its implementation. He finally encouraged them to embrace IDPs, because their own peace depended on theirs.
Participants made a number of suggestions on what faith-based organizations could do, including awareness creation, pastoral and humanitarian care and advocacy.