UN House Scotland and its work for promoting peace received much attention as the Scottish Interfaith Week was rounded off at an event in Kelso this weekend.
The organisation was invited to participate in the event in the Scottish Borders, organised by Quakers and the Interfaith Borders Group. It was called ‘Reflections on Peace’ and was part of the Scottish Interfaith Week, which Interfaith Scotland organises every year. The event in the Quaker Meeting House was a semi-structured meeting where people from a range of faiths, organisations and locations could present their ideas of peace in different ways.
As the pursuit of peace was one of the core principles upon which the UN was established, the organisers felt that it was highly relevant for the attendees to gain an insight into what UN-affiliated organisations are doing in Scotland to contribute to this goal. UN House Scotland therefore created a presentation about one of their main activities over the past few years; the SCISA Pathways to Peace seminar series.
A good amount of time was allocated to presenting this important seminar series, emphasising its uniqueness among Scottish peace promoting activities. The seminars, which bring together experts and stakeholders who under the Chatham House Rules discuss potential solutions to international conflicts, have proved efficient in bringing people from opposite sides of conflicts closer together. Over the past few years, the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine have all been addressed through Pathways to Peace.
The presentation of Pathways to Peace was well-received and the attendees of ‘Reflection on Peace’ were eager to learn more about both the seminar series and UN House Scotland’s wider work and thoughts. Some even came with suggestions about what to focus on next, demonstrating their belief in the importance of the UN and its affiliated organisations.
It was, however, far from just the UN perspective on peace which was the focus in Kelso. The attendees truly received a holistic presentation about peace. The event started with a presentation on how the concept of peace has developed throughout time – from personal peace to the absence of war. It was also emphasised and illustrated how peace is a central value in most of the world’s religions. This was exemplified through recitations of different religious texts from different religions.
Different art forms also took centre stage to illuminate the message of peace at this interfaith event. Peace poetry and songs were both among the entertainment of the day, whereas a mindfulness exercise reminded the audience of the importance of inner peace within ourselves. Furthermore, a real-life example of how there is still much to do before we can live in a peaceful world was illustrated by a presentation on the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the devastating effects Israeli occupation has on Palestinians.
‘Reflections on Peace’ truly lived up to its name – this was indeed an event through which everyone was able to reflect on all the different aspects of peace and give each other hope that we some day will live in a world where peace is the ruling force.