The world celebrated the International Day of Peace with this years theme being “Education for Peace”.
A peace lecture in Brisbane’s St John’s Cathedral commemorated those suffering in war-torn areas and the importance of international peace.
The lecture was attended by a number of high-profile guests including the Governor of Queensland Penelope Wensley AC, former Justice of the High Court of Australia the Honourable Michael Kirby AC, CMG and the Chancellor of Griffith University Leneen Forde AC.
Governor Wensley said it was important to remember the origins of the United Nations.
“It is important for us to recall that the United Nations was born amid the ongoing trauma of World War II, a conflict whose horror and scale of destruction had no precedent in recorded history,” she said.
“The words of the UN Charter’s Preamble are saturated with the shock, pain and deep sorrow of that experience.
“The multifaceted approach to peace-building adopted by the UN, encompassing action on economic, social, cultural and humanitarian conditions whose presence or absence has a major impact on prospects for lasting peace.”
Retired High Court judge Michael Kirby AC told The Source that despite the UN’s limitations it is the only global entity protecting world peace.
“The United Nations is an imperfect instrument for securing and protecting world peace but it is the only agent which we have on global universal level,” Mr Kirby said.
“We have to all, as far as we can, contribute to and to make sure that it works as an effective instrument for securing peace.
“If you look back on the last 60 or more years, we haven’t had the nuclear explosion in humanity. When I was a little boy … that is what we were all frightened of. So far, it hasn’t happened and some of the credit for that must go to the UN.”
Mr Kirby said Australia’s position as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council is a great opportunity for us to contribute to the promotion of international peace.
“I think our politicians are being a little bit distracted over the last six months during the first part of our term,” he said.
“We can expect that the government will take an active and energetic role and I hope we will have a lot of new ideas for the Security Council.”
During his lecture titled “External Peace. Internal Peace. An unending global and personal search” Mr Kirby highlighted the importance of internal peace as a foundation stone for building peace in the world.
“Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a profound feeling of tranquillity and respect for one another,” he said.
“Within a context of universal human rights, you don’t respect one another in a context of oppression and of the suppression of human rights. You respect one another if you live together in peace under the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Internal peace is a peace that comes of being a full human being, a person who enjoys dignity, love and tenderness.”
Mr Kirby said that a peaceful nation depends on respecting others human rights in accordance with UN principles.
“In the end, we are all individuals. We all have our own spirit and love, our family, friends, partners and our community,” he said.
“It is therefore important, if we are to be successful nations, to be successful communities and successful individuals.
“If you deny them on the grounds of their race, skin colour, gender or their sexual orientation, it is appalling and against the UN principles. We have to stop it and churches and the community likewise.
“They will only stop, if people stand up, speak out and say ‘This is me, get over it’.”
The International Day of Peace was celebrated only a couple of days after Pope Francis called upon the Church to take a less condemnatory approach to same sex marriages and abortions.
As Mr Kirby reminded during his lecture, everyone can contribute to a better future.
We only have to make sure that peace, justice and equality remain within our own message, and that we will never give up.