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Building (young) communities peace by peace

BunRong Kouy is a hugger. She is as she has planned to hug 1,000 people in six months in her UNESCO peace project called ‘Free hug for peace’. The objective is to collect 1,000 free hug pictures to offer warm and love and produce a video of the collections of 1,000 free hug pictures to show how simple hug could warm people up. It doesn’t require any fund.

All she needs is a hugger, herself, to travel to different places in other provinces and countries, to talk about her project and peace and get a hug, a camera and a photographer.

Young Kouy from Cambodian presented this action plan of hers to the Fourth UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador (YPA) Training Workshop recently held in Hiroshima, Japan. Last month over 100 youth leaders from 30 countries met for the sharing of concrete peace action plans and the challenges found implementing the plans. 

“I expect to share stories about peacemaking or peace campaign efforts that have been or will be done. I also expect these stories to inspire me and my friends who came from the same country with me to unite and make changes together for peace, especially in our home country,” said Fitra Hayatun Nisa, Youth ambassador from Indonesia.

The Fourth UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador (YPA) Training Workshop was held from 24-31 March 2012 in cooperation with the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, the Eubios Ethics Institute and UNITAR.

The group started off with a tour through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum led by Museum Director Steve Leeper. They met atomic bomb survivor (Hibakusha) Keijiro Matsushima who was a high school student at that time and survived with great luck 2km from the bomb. Other students in the same classroom died. Mr. Matsushima became an English teacher and taught for 40 years in schools in Hiroshima before retiring. 

“Peace not only is the absence of conflict, but also requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation”

On the opening day, Darryl Macer, Regional Adviser for Social and Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific at UNESCO Bangkok, set the guiding questions for this workshop: 

- How can we educate citizens in different countries and institutions to promote a culture of peace and peace building? 

- How should communities go forward and build upon the progress made during the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010) and the United Nations International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding (August 2010/2011)? 

- How can the definition of peace in the UN’s Declaration on a Culture of Peace (A/53/243) guide our thoughts: “Peace not only is the absence of conflict, but also requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation”

Throughout the first three days participants considered a scenario involving role play among 23 stakeholder groups. Each group had to present, ask questions and stimulate knowledge development on different aspects of decision-making on an environmental disaster, a tsunami affecting a number of countries. The tsunami would be followed by three nuclear meltdowns at a nuclear power plant, by a disruption of the world’s largest oil terminal and petrochemical refinery and of the world’s largest recycling facility for cadmium. One island nation would lose all buildings and people. 

“I believe with the strong relationship it will make the world more peaceful and more beautiful. Youth as one of the important pillars no matter in each particular country or the world should take more initiatives to contribute to the world,” said Lim Peng Hooi, youth representative from Malaysia.

Then, a one-day intense workshop was conducted by Alex Mejia and Berin McKenzie, UNITAR Hiroshima, followed by lectures, discussions and experience exchange sessions about the role of philosophical practice in peace building, facilitated by Prof. Peter Harteloh, Erasmus Institute for Philosophical Practice, the Netherlands, and Prof. Taro Mochizuki, Osaka University, Japan. 

Kayo Uejima, Kumamoto, Japan, presented a study of the nuclear debris crisis after Fukushima. Steve Leeper explained how the philosopher Moritaki Ichiro developed his idea to change to a civilization of love and a culture of peace while he had to recover for six months in hospital after the Hiroshima bomb. Darryl Macer introduced main aspects of peace building and human security. Justice Pearl Fatima Evardone, the Philippines, launched a photo exhibition from peace activities in the demilitarized zone in Korea. Sawa Kato, Japan, and Napat Chaipraditkul, Thailand talked about ethics, values and peace. 

Youth ambassador Muslihudin Sharbinie described his project on peace building over the Taiji dolphin dispute in Japan. Lim Peng Hooi from Malaysia described his project the Global Youth Peace Connection, and Tayebeh Kharestani, Iran, shared her creative art and design project ‘Take It Easy!’ Md Yazdani Ul Islam from Bangladesh described how peace programmes on television can empower people to overcome poverty and resolve conflicts. Natasha Shokri from Iran described her action plan on linking people with handicapped communities and Tsuyoshi Sotoya from Japan inspired persons from other countries to write poetry for peace. 

The workshop was closed with a discussion of 25 delegates with UN Undersecretary-General Carlos Lopes at UNITAR Hiroshima. 

The youth peace ambassadors that were trained in this workshop will now implement their action plans to transform policies and practices in the spirit of a culture of peace. 

“I expect to bridge differences in terms of culture, understanding and knowledge in order to foster sustainable peace in the future. I also want to be a great responsible citizen of the world,” said Thanit Herabat, ambassador from Thailand. 

The series of UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador (YPA) Training Workshop was started with a first workshop in 2010 in Hiroshima, a second training followed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the third training taking place in Penang, Malaysia, in 2011. The next workshop will be held in Thailand in late 2012. The workshops were so far attended by 320 trainees, and over 120 action plans in various stages of implementation exist around the world. 

Contact Darryl Macer, Regional Advisor for Social and Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO Bangkok at:

For more information:

All Action Plans developed at the 4th Youth Peace Ambassador Training Workshop can be consulted at: