Promoting Peace and Non-violence

Ukpeme Akpan Okon, Guest Speaker at United States Army Corps of Engineers, New York District

I was the Guest Speaker, at Women’s Heritage Month observance of United States Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, on March 20, 2019.

The theme of the event was Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.

Engineering Personal Peace for National and Global Peace


According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, between 1990 and 2017, women constituted only 2 per cent of mediators, 8 per cent of negotiators, and 5 per cent of witnesses and signatories in all major peace processes.


Some persons think that peace is elusive but today we celebrate “Peace Champions” — women and people who have achieved peace through nonviolent means.

 I hope to:


1. Inspire you to believe that you can be agents for national and global peace.


2. Motivate you to sustain nonviolent conflict resolution mechanisms.


3. Radiate peace, and encourage you to spread the peace.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers mission includes; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation’s security, which makes the corps a strong peacebuilding force for designing, building, and maintaining peace.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2122 takes note of the critical contributions of civil society, including women’s organizations to conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding and in this regard the importance of sustained consultation and dialogue between women and national and international decision makers. UNSCR 2122 also recognizes the continuing need to increase women’s participation and the consideration of gender—related issues in all discussions pertinent to the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, the maintenance of peace and security, and post—conflict peacebuilding.

To celebrate year 2019 Women’s History Month, it is important to appreciate the past, the present, and the future. Examples abound of champions of nonviolent movements for peace.



The Future:

Who will be the future Champions of Peace?
We can leave a legacy for a peaceful future of nonviolence.

Conflict is an inevitable part of life, and doesn’t need to be violent. Creating a world free of violent conflict is possible. 

It is essential to practise nonviolent conflict prevention, and resolution methods such as mediation, negotiation, dialogue, among others.


Irrespective of the type of conflict, 

 – understanding the nature of the conflict, 
– inclusiveness,
– building resilience,
– engaging in continuous communication,

– reflecting on the outcome of previous and current experiences, can be helpful in the peace process.

There are different perspectives on peace, and the strategies for achieving peace are also different.

I align more with the peace education strategy for peace.

My beliefs and experiences indicate that people can change their beliefs and behaviors, embrace good values, and apply nonviolent conflict resolution methods.

To commemorate the United Nations International Day of Peace in year 2013, I presented a paper on “Building a Culture of Peace and National Development: The Role of Women in Family Education.” I noted the essentiality of education, and proved the correlation between education and peace.

As engineers of personal, national, and global peace, I encourage you to lay enduring foundations by designing peace in your hearts, building peace in your homes and communities, creating spaces for peace and nonviolent activism, and maintaining peace, saving it from dilapidation.

Recently, the United States government enacted the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017. This act will reinforce efforts to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflict by increasing women’s participation in peace processes, through negotiation and mediation.

Serving as a peacemaker in a difficult protracted case contributed to shaping my view on peace strategies.  After successfully mediating in this case, I was referred to as “Peace Maker.” This, and other related circumstances inspired me to help people achieve peace. I believe that nonviolent resolution of conflicts is possible. I believe that peace is possible.

I conclude with the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:


It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

 

Ukpeme Akpan Okon

Ambassador for Peace, Author of The Values String: A book on Transitional Life, Compelling Fulfillment, and Profound Peace.

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