Peace and Disarmament
SGI Exhibition Opens at UNESCO Event in Eugene, Oregon, USA
From May 8-11, 2009, SGI-USA's "Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World" exhibition opened at the University of Oregon in Eugene, as part of a four-day event hosted by the university's Center for Intercultural Dialogue. The "Ethics, Religion and the Environment Conference" brought together 17 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairs from the University Twinning and Networking Scheme (UNITWIN) program that covers training and academic research in all major fields within the competence of UNESCO. This marked the first U.S.-based gathering for the UNESCO Chairs, who traveled from Austria, France, Georgia, Israel, Lebanon and Russia.
The conference included a panel discussion, during which representatives from various religious and spiritual traditions, including the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths, exchanged views on how religious and spiritual communities can address the current ecological crisis. Throughout the weekend, hundreds of visitors viewed the exhibition which was first launched in 2003 in response to the United Nations' call for the promotion of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). To date, the exhibition has been viewed in more than 100 countries. Visitors also signed UNESCO's Manifesto 2000 pledge that encourages people to put into practice the values, attitudes and behaviors that inspire a culture of peace in their daily lives. This pledge has been signed by citizens of the world, heads of state and Nobel Peace Prize recipients, including Desmond Tutu and Elie Wiesel.
Dimitri Spivak, the UNESCO chair for the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Institute for Cultural Studies, expressed his desire to bring the exhibition to Russia, stating, "This exhibition of peace can bring together communities and international organizations at different levels...and disseminate good practices that must be promoted by our countries."
[Adapted from an article in the June 19, 2009 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Arden Munkres]