The world is becoming a more dangerous place, the Institute for Economics and Peace reported. The 2016 Global Peace Index shows that there are now only 10 counties in the world which are not engaged in conflict either internally or externally. These are: Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, Mauritius, Panama, Qatar, Switzerland, Uruguay and Vietnam. The report further states that the worsening conflict in the Middle East, the lack of solution to the refugee crisis and the increase in deaths from major terrorist incidents all over the globe, have all contributed to the world being less peaceful in 2016 than it was in 2015.
The most remarkable result from the 2016 peace index was the extent to which the situation in the Middle East has dragged down the rest of the world in terms of peacefulness. The study said that if we took out the Middle East from the index, the world, in general, would become more peaceful. The study showed a trend where the more peaceful countries improved while the less peaceful ones deteriorated, producing what the study called “peace inequality” across the world. Eighty-one countries became more peaceful while 79 deteriorated. The report said that the majority of terrorist activities are concentrated in five countries, namely; Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, accounting for 78 percent of deaths from terrorism in 2014, although in 2015 to 2016, nearly every region had an increase in terrorism scores. The Philippines ranked 130th in 2011, dropped to 141st in 2015, and improved slightly to 139th in 2016 on the global peace index.
Amidst the worsening peace situation all over the world, the Global Peace Foundation chaired by Dr. Hyun Jin P. Moon forges on with its peace building efforts around the globe. The Foundation which started in Korea to spur the unification of the North and South now has a presence in 16 countries, namely: Uruguay, the United States, Uganda, Tanzania, the Philippines, Paraguay, Nigeria, Nepal, Mongolia, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Kenya, Ireland, Indonesia and India.
What does the foundation do? It partners with public and private institutions and persons to establish a culture of peace. Starting in the home where values are first learned by every person, the foundation, through the Global Peace Women, holds conferences and women leadership trainings to empower women in promoting the values of caring, sharing and loving unconditionally. It believes that if children grow up in an atmosphere of love, the culture of valuing peace and rejecting violence takes root. The foundation also focuses on other tracks to build peace, particularly in education, interfaith peacebuilding, and sustainable development and poverty reduction through a socially responsible business paradigm. The foundation realizes that it is not possible to talk of peace when hunger grips a people. Thus, it has also embarked on poverty alleviation through livelihood and entrepreneurial development in a number of countries.
When I first joined the movement for global peace, particularly the Global Peace Women, I was skeptical about how this almost unrealistic, if not impossible, dream could be achieved especially in the growing threats of terrorism worldwide. But when I saw in the four-day Global Peace Convention held at the Marriott hotel in Pasay City last week that no less than 40 nations were represented by at least a thousand delegates, I started re-thinking. Global peace is possible, it seems. It only takes a few determined and good-hearted people to start the ripples and soon—who knows—the contagion of peace will spread and conquer the world. It was encouraging to see former heads of states and prominent world leaders in attendance among whom were former president of Guatemala, Venicio Cerezo; former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; former deputy prime minister for strategy and finance of Korea, Jin-Pyo Kim; the Director of Geopolitic and International Relations and Unesco Peace Chairman in India, Madham Das Nalapat; and the founder and chairman of the Asian Studies Center, Edwin Feulner.
In the Philippines, peace may be a hard nut to crack. Yet, with the reality that unrest is fueled by poverty, causing separatist ideals and communist insurgency, the track to take is to reduce poverty. The admnistration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte has planted the seed by starting a movement to shift the structure of government from the present unitary and too-centralized system to a federal form. Should he succeed in this, peace may yet be achieved as the poor regions in the Philippines can begin to strengthen their capacities to deliver to people the social services and economic progress they need. The government should not delay the process if peace were to be a reality.
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