The first in our series of guest blog posts. Dannie Grufferty writes about Peace One Day’s Student Coalition and how students are the key to countries standing together for peace
NUS and Peace One Day have forged a unique partnership based on a shared vision of students and young people changing the world for the better. NUS has historic roots in the global peace movement, with students campaigning on issues ranging from the war in Vietnam to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, fascism in Greece, Spain and Portugal and the independence struggles in southern Africa: in Mozambique, Angola, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa. This year marks the 90th anniversary of NUS and, in keeping with that proud 90 year tradition, the Society & Citizenship zone is revisiting its roots in the international student movement for peace by engaging with Peace One Day’s Global Truce 2012 campaign. Alongside this, NUS will host the first Global Student Leadership Summit with the European Students’ Union from 18-21 September.
In 2001, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the first ever day of global ceasefire and non-violence on 21 September annually – Peace Day. Peace Day 2012 will mark the culmination of the Global Truce campaign with the aim of achieving the largest reduction in violence ever recorded on a single day. Peace One Day are assembling a Student Coalition of groups, societies, unions, universities and colleges the world over who are planning activities to inspire their governments to follow. The aspiration is for this to be the largest ever coordination of individuals worldwide in the name of peace. Join the Global Truce 2012 Student Coalition.
In February, NUS and Peace One Day welcomed student leaders from around the world at an event to launch the Global Truce 2012 campaign. Inspiring speeches of hope and support were delivered by the likes of Mateus Fiorentini from La Organización Continental Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Estudiantes (OCLAE), Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh from One Young World, Josh Kohnhurst from the American Student Government Association (ASGA), Rabi Aryal from the Asian Students Association (ASA), Prashan De Visser from Sri Lanka Unites and Therese Hostad from the Student Peace Prize. Peace One Day’s Jeremy Gilley and NUS President Liam Burns were also in attendance. You can watch the speeches and other videos from the Global Truce 2012 Student Coalition launch event on this YouTube playlist.
As the leaders of the future, students are vital to achieving lasting peace in the world. But engagement must begin now during the education process, which is why student leadership is so critical. By campaigning for improved access to and quality of education, we can make peace sustainable, embedded in the values and aspirations of future generations. By training students to be global citizens, we can broaden their perspectives and nurture their philanthropic inclinations. And by teaching students about environmental sustainability, we can preserve the earth’s natural resources and prevent future conflict. To this end, the Global Student Leadership Summit will aim to inspire students and strengthen representation around the themes of education, sustainability and peace. New international relationships will be forged, supported by a legacy programme for student leaders from across the world to stay in touch and share information, and developed further through a twinning scheme for national unions of students.
At the recent NUS National Conference in Sheffield, the Society & Citizenship zone hosted a very well received fringe event to encourage global student solidarity. Student union leaders joined Jeremy Gilley and I as we discussed how students around the world are engaging and campaigning on international issues to promote peace on their campuses and in their communities. Gary Redmond, President of NUS-USI, spoke about how students spearheaded peace talks in Northern Ireland with many going on to be involved in the Good Friday agreement. Rana Sherif Mostafa, Vice-President of Ain Shams Students’ Union in Egypt, spoke about the role of students in peace movements during and after the Egyptian revolution. Belal Ballali, a Libyan revolutionary, spoke about the struggle for peace in Libya and how students are at the forefront of peaceful democratic change there.
I am keen to build on the momentum from this and other successful events to drive participation in the Global Student Leadership Summit and Peace Day 2012. The Society & Citizenship zone will continue to work closely with Peace One Day and the European Students’ Union to grow the campaign between now and September.
I encourage you to get involved by joining the Global Truce 2012 Student Coalition, engaging with Peace One Day via their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels, and registering your interest in the Global Student Leadership Summit by contacting Dion Watts: email@example.com / @DionGWatts / linkedin.com/in/dionwatts
Dannie Grufferty, Vice President (Society & Citizenship), NUS