Civil Society in 71 Countries Urges International Law for Peace and Justice for Religious Freedom

Published in World
Friday, 16 March 2018 11:19

HWPL and civil society groups in 117 cities advocate comprehensive cooperation for peace and denounce anti-peace activities

While the global society has been sending an interest and encouragement to the historic decision of the North Korea-US dialogue following the ‘Peace Olympics’ held in South Korea, a Korea-based international peace NGO held an event commemorating “The 2nd Annual Commemoration of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW)” on March 14. In Seoul, South Korea, on the theme of "A Call for Building a World of Peace and Realizing Justice" was attended by 1,000 participants including representatives of politics, religion, and civic groups at home and abroad.

The host organization, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) affiliated with UN DPI and UN ECOSOC, announced the DPCW on March 14, 2016, to strengthen a solidarity of peace through a comprehensive cooperation of all sectors of society and to establish legally binding international law necessary for peacebuilding. The DPCW with 10 articles and 38 clauses, drafted by international law experts, includes provisions to avoid war-related actions and achieve peace, including respect on international law, ethnic/religious harmony, and a culture of peace.

Mr. Man Hee Lee, Chairman of HWPL, highlighted that every individual in the global society is responsible for constructing global peace. He appealed to the participants by saying, “Rather than waiting to take peace for granted, it is we who should put an end to war to protect humanity and our globe, and leave peace as a legacy for future generations.” “Law of today cannot compensate for the lives sacrificed from war. What we need is an instrument that protects human life, the very law that prevents war,” he added.

“No human being and no animal on planet Earth can survive from weapons (of mass destruction). Even an error or an accident can cause widespread damage to human life and property which cannot be replenished. We all have to work 365 days and 24 hours together for peace as a messenger of peace,” said, Mr. Pravin H. Parekh, President of Confederation of Indian Bar who participated in drafting the DPCW.

“If we want to put an end to war and build peace, let us work together for peace and overcome the boundary of state, ethnicity and religion. We have to think about how to resolve international conflicts through the adoption of the DPCW as a UN resolution. And the international society should provide assistance to facilitate peace education proposed by HWPL,” emphasized Mr. Deok Gyu Lim, former president of the International Law Association Korean Branch.

In the event, HWPL issued the official statement against anti-peace actions that hinder peace and justice with unsubstantiated information and distortion from socio-economic motives and human rights abuses by religious intolerance. In the statement it addressed that HWPL “will no longer tolerate attempts to obstruct the work for peace, putting personal gain over the common good of humanity. We urge all those yearning for peace and justice to take the right path, not the path marked with lies, and join the effort to build peace together.”

The multi-national events for the 2nd Annual Commemoration of the DPCW calling for building a world of peace and realizing justice were organized in 166 cities in 71 countries, including South Korea, the United States, Germany, Ukraine, Britain, and China. 150,000 citizens and leaders of all sectors in the world took part in this global event urging the establishment of international law for the realization of a peaceful, just society and the denunciation of anti-peace activity.

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    Twelve journalists from Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan visited the Republic of Moldova on 21-24 may to learn about the results of the Energy and Biomass Project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme. The visit took place in the framework of the EU4Energy Initiative.

    The journalists visited a kindergarten in the town of Nisporeni, where 270 children have hot water thanks to solar panels installed with the help of the Energy and Biomass Project. During winter, the entire surface of the kindergarten is heated with green energy produced in the Republic of Moldova.

    To heat its rooms, the kindergarten, together with the city hall, buys pellets produced in Moldova, meaning the money it spends on energy remains in the country.

    Another stop on the tour was the briquette production line in the city of Balti. Ludmila Abramciuc and Ivan Damaschin are beneficiaries of the Energy and Biomass Project grant programme, thanks to which they were able to buy, and repay in instalments, the necessary equipment for biofuel production.

    The journalists also attended a lesson on renewable energy at a school in Chiscareni village, Sangerei district. Together with the students of “Nicolae Casso” school, they answered questions on the green energy sector, as well as making a parabolic solar collector. Professor Nicolae Spanu guided the team through this.

    The school in Chiscareni village is also the first public institution in the Republic of Moldova to have switched to biomass heating. In 2005, thanks to a project funded by the World Bank, a biomass power plant using straw bales was installed at the school. To this day, the institution continues to benefit from clean energy.

    Meanwhile, the community has connected other public institutions to green energy. The kindergarten in the village has electricity produced by photovoltaic panels and hot water from solar collectors. Next winter, the city hall will replace its stoves with a biomass heating system, installed with the help of European funds through the Energy and Biomass Project.

    The EU-funded and UNDP-implemented Energy and Biomass Project in Moldova is part of the EU4Energy Initiative and aims to contribute to the reliable, competitive and sustainable production of energy from biomass, which is the most viable and available source of renewable energy in the Republic of Moldova.

    EU4Energy covers all EU support to improve energy supply, security and connectivity, as well as to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine). It does this by financing projects and programmes that help to reform energy markets and to reduce national energy dependence and consumption. Over the long term, this makes energy supply more reliable, transparent and affordable, thus reducing energy poverty and energy bills for both citizens and the private sector.

  • International NGO HWPL signed MOU for "Peace Culture City Project" with Tîrgu Mureş City in Romania

    Appealed to Romanian youth and citizens to join in the activities calling for the establishment of international law for peace

    On May 20th, Tîrgu Mureş City in Romania and the UN ECOSOC-affiliated NGO Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) signed an MOU for 'Peace Culture City Project' to develop a culture of peace through cultural exchanges and peace education.

    “Tîrgu Mureş City is a multicultural and historic city. HWPL is working to raise awareness of the world in culture, civilization, and history through continuous and constructive peace education and cultural exchange. Through this MOU, we hope that Tîrgu Mureş City and HWPL will be able to make each other’s culture more beautiful through “A Culture of Peace - the City project,” said Mayor Dorin Florea.

    Regarding this peace-building cooperation, Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL said, "I am glad to be able to communicate with the progressive City of Tîrgu Mureş through the MOU.”

    As for the role of individuals in working for peace, "Let us leave peace and better culture for future generations as a higher state of culture through exchange of culture of peace," he added.

    Then, Chairman Lee of HWPL and its peace delegation participated in the youth event titled "Youth, Let's Voice out" in Bucharest Parliament House. The event was jointly hosted by HWPL, its affiliated organization, International Peace Youth Group(IPYG), and the Romanian youth peace group, Master Peace Ro.

    "All mankind desires peace, nobody has wanted war. So, if we become one, we will be able to achieve peace. HWPL exists for youth. I hope all youth to join in peace activities of the IPYG and leave peace as a legacy for our future generations,” said Chairman Lee.

     “We have all shared to you our experience during a period of huge political, economic, culture, and scientific, technological transformation. We hope that this working experience will contribute to your future in the next period of big transformation ahead of you,” said Hon. Emil Constantinescu, the former president of Romania.

    Mr. Dragomir G. Marian, President of MasterPeace Ro said, "More than 1,000 youth have signed the DPCW and expressed their support. Today, I am happy to see the culture of peace promoted by the Peace Letter project." And he expressed his hopes for the youth in Romania to continuously promote the activities of culture of peace with HWPL, such as peace education and peace walk.

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    In this event attended by 200 young Romanian youths, HWPL introduced the DPCW proposed as a solution to the dispute, and the participants wrote the 'Peace Letter' urging the president to support the DPCW.

  • Handmade culture in Georgia: how traditional crafts are contributing to the economy

    Georgian folk craftsmen are transforming traditional crafts into a source of economic income with the support of an EU-financed project.

    Heritage crafts as a source of income

    Culture is a source of inclusive growth and job creation and the global trade in creative products has continued to expand in recent years, despite economic uncertainty. Cultural heritage is a universal value, an important expression of cultural diversity – that is why preserving it and passing it on to future generations is so important.

    According to Nino Samvelidze, Programme Manager for Youth, Culture and Digital Society at the EU Delegation to Georgia, cultural diversity is one of the main values of the EU, and this is why it aims to support the preservation and development of cultural traditions of different countries.

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    “It is important that work in heritage crafts, which is rather widespread in our country, becomes a source of income and employment, and this is one of the objectives of the project,” explains Nino.

    The Georgian Arts and Culture Centre selected 21 art studios to provide with funding. The total budget was €617,128, with €489,168 coming from the EU.  The Head of the Centre, Maka Dvalishvili believes that successful beneficiaries had to have an interest in and potential for development. One of the requirements to receive funding was that the beneficiary must teach their skill to at least five students.

    “Our main goal is to preserve traditional Georgian crafts and to adapt them to modern market requirements, i.e. by transforming the craft into a business. Overall, this gives economic benefit,” explains Maka.

    Maka, an art historian, says the culture of craftsmanship is widespread across Georgia. She says the main characteristic of folk craftsmanship is that the products must be handmade and not manufactured in a factory. Some parts may be factory-supplied, but they have to be finished by hand.  

    “Folk craftsmanship started when mankind created stone tools, carved patterns on stone and developed aesthetic vision,” explains Maka. 

    The Georgian Arts and Culture Centrehas been working towards the development of heritage crafts since its establishment in 1995. Maka says that, since that period, craftsmen have received support to develop quality and design, and to study the market.

    In 2012, in cooperation with the EU in the framework of the EU-Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Programme, the Georgian Arts and Culture Centre implemented another project - Strengthening Creative Industries in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia: Heritage Crafts - Common Platform for Development.

    Apart from workshops and seminars, the programme also conducted a study of 500 experts in heritage crafts. The results of the study highlighted the current situation of the heritage crafts market, and a strategy was developed based on the results.

    Lali Sadaghashvili: Felt craft

    About 20 km northwest of Tbilisi in the historic town of Mtskheta, near the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a variety of stalls can be found selling a vast array of products. Among them is Lali Sadaghashvili’s stall, where she sells woollen toys and other handcrafted products. 

    On display at Lali’s stall you can find woollen toys, felt scarf, hand knitted shoes, wool jewellery and various other accessories – all handmade by her and her family. Lali sells her handcrafted products to the constant stream of tourists who walk past the stalls each day.

    In the evening, when the flow of tourists declines, Lali returns home. If she is not too tired, she continues working in the studio set up on the ground floor of her house. This is where Lali’s enterprise, Nerbi, is based. If Lali is unable to work, her three children and spouse work to provide her with new items for the stall.

    In Lali’s studio, there is one large table with a tap nearby to supply the water required for felt production. There are shelves installed on the wall in the room, with all the necessary materials and fabric, as well as a sewing machine and a wool felting iron.

    Lali and her husband, Rasula Kevkhishvili, set up the enterprise in 2014, after they received EU funding from the Folk Crafts Perspective in Georgia project. They received 8000 GEL in funding, which they used to completely renovate the room and to purchase the table, chairs and necessary equipment. Lali, who has been working with wool for 16 years, says the project funding helped her to fulfil her lifelong aspiration.

    “It is not an exaggeration, I fulfilled my dream. I always wanted to have a studio I would enter and forget everything, where I would have a table and I could work,” says Lali Sadaghashvili.

    Lali used to work in the railway industry as a telecommunications specialist. She started to use her craftsmanship skills when she was made redundant. Today, handicrafts provide her main source of income.

    “I remember at first when I earned 14 GEL, then 44 GEL, and it went on gradually. Initially, I was focused on toys, but now I see that hand knitted shoes also sell well,” says Lali.

    At first, Lali’s spouse, Rasula, did not consider felt craft as a serious business, but over the course of time, he changed his mind. Now, he also works in the enterprise alongside his job in the railway industry.

    “My wife used to talk about what she could make from wool but I was not really interested. I thought it was just a hobby and I was too busy with my work. Finally, she persuaded me to get involved and it turned into a family business,” says Rasula.

    Felt is one of the oldest methods of creating and processing fabric. It is a traditional Georgian folk craft which attracts huge interest from tourists to the country. For this reason, Nerbi also provides workshops for tourists. Wet felting was one of the most recent masterclasses held for a group of tourists. The studio that was set up through EU support enables Lali to demonstrate the process of her work to tourists.

    Lali also gives classes in Mtskheta gymnasium on how to make various items from wool. Through the EU project, she is responsible for teaching five students. She says that in four years she has already taught 16 students.

    The support received through the EU project has empowered Lali, and she now has a monthly income of 1500 GEL. She hopes to open a shop in the historic part of Mtskheta and hire a shop assistant in the future.

    Otar Sharabidze: Pottery

    Otar Sharabidze is one of the expert folk craftsmen who received funding from the EU. The 67-year-old ceramicist currently lives about 60km southwest of Tbilisi, in Tetritsqaro.

    Otar studied ceramics 40 years ago at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts. After graduating, he worked in different factories within the former Soviet Union and created production sketches. He has been working independently since the 1990s. In 1996, Otar went to Istanbul where he taught at one of the universities. In 2014, he returned to Georgia where he settled in Tetritsqaro. He bought a house which was built in the nineteenth century in the historic part of the city, and now he plans to host pottery classes for tourists there. 

    Otar told us that he bought a house with a yard especially to facilitate his work. He plans to set up a studio and accommodation in the house so that he can rent out two rooms to ceramicists and other interested people and work together with them.

    Otar’s yard measures 1 500 m2  and provides the ideal place for his studio, which is 30m2. Water supply, electric and natural gas pottery kilns, a pottery wheel and other necessary equipment will be installed in the studio.

    Otar brought an electric kiln by bus from Turkey and purchased the pottery wheel and gas kiln through EU funding. He says that having both gas and electric kilns will help him diversify his work.

    The ceramicist says that with a gas oven he can make products using the Raku technique, which involves removing the piece from the hot kiln, putting it into leaves or wood dust, and covering it. This process creates a glaze on the pottery.

    Otar says that his pottery is not only decorative; it also has a practical function. He says that each piece he creates is unique and is never repeated.

    “I produce only one copy, I always try to create original work. This is typical of folk craft; new items are made all the time. Pottery is one of the oldest forms of art, and it is developing constantly. It is interesting to look at old ceramics but you also want to introduce something new,” Otar insists.

    Otar says he will complete the renovation of the house in a month, and then will start work teaching pottery and hosting holidaymakers in Tetritsqaro.

    Art Studio Snoveli, Kazbegi

    Art Studio Snoveli was established by father and son Bidzina Snoveli (73 years old) and Mindia Ghudushauri (43 years old), in the village of Sno in the mountainous region of Kazbegi. Together they make wooden armchairs, tables, beds, and carve the furniture by hand. 

    Mindia was born in Tbilisi, but his father was in born Sno. Bidzina, a qualified architect, left Sno after graduating from university, and studied woodwork in Makhachkala. “My father wanted to pass on his expertise to others. He has a very skilled technique; he only works by hand,” says Mindia. Bidzina says that he had talented students, but as his sales are not yet stable he cannot employ them.

    The father and son set up Art Studio Snoveli in 2015 and bought the initial necessary materials through funding from the Children’s and Youth Support Fund. Then, through support from the project Folk Crafts Perspectives in Georgia, they purchased various woodwork tools and printed booklets in three languages: Georgian, English and Russian.

    “The booklet is like a business card for our studio, you can show it to people wherever you go,” says Mindia.

    Mindia wants to set up an exhibition space in Sno where they could receive guests and display the items produced in the studio. The furniture made by Snoveli contains carvings representing peacocks, griffins, turtledoves, bulls, the Borjgali symbol, various geometric shapes from different regions of Georgia, and figures from Georgian mythology.

    Fourth grade student Saba Sabauri (8 years old) attends Sno School, located next to the Snoveli studio. He tells us that after classes he comes to the studio and learns to draw. After drawing, he will study woodwork.

    “I mainly draw mountains and churches. Mountains are beautiful. My sister studied drawing; she would hang her drawings once she had finished them. I wanted to draw beautiful pictures as well, so I started to learn. I would also like to study wood burning,” says Saba. 

    Keti Akiashvili (also aged 8) is another of Mindia’s students. Keti also attends the drawing classes and looks forward to starting to work on wood instead of a paper. “I learned how to draw villages and animals; how to create lines and shadows,” says Keti.

    According to an EU-supported study in 2014, 1500 people were employed in the heritage crafts industry in Georgia. This accounts for 0.07% of the economically active population. 84% of the respondents worked on their own, while 16% hired employees.

    Their main challenge now is to adapt heritage crafts to modern market requirements to enable them to benefit financially from the crafts.

    Author: Misha Meparishvili

     

     

  • Pan-European Peace Forum Advocates European Leaders' Support for Peace in Korea

    Frankfurt am main, May 12 – European experts and South Korean peace activists have voiced their support for peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula at the 'Pan-European Peace Forum' held in Frankfurt.

    Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a Seoul-based peace NGO as in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), organized the event to advocate international cooperation for global peacebuilding and support for the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas.

    Chairman Man Hee Lee, a Korean War veteran, appealed to attendants of the forum, “More than anything else, a peaceful world without war would be the greatest legacy to hand down to our children. If a single country achieves peace, it does not mean the world has become peaceful. Peace has to be realized in the entire world. If each person walks in the path towards peace, peace will be accomplished in the global community.”

    Frankfurt city council member Dr. Manfred F. Welker delivered a speech on the need for civil society’s active participation. Recalling the small gatherings in Leipzig that sparked peaceful demonstrations for Germany's reunification, he said what will bring two Koreas together is "not just government cooperation but - as we have seen from Nikolaikirche [St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig] - it will be by the collaboration and efforts of the people.”

    Prof. Dr. Hans Köchler from Austria, president of International Progress Organization, said the issues of denuclearization and reunification of Korea are mutually reinforcing. He pointed out the prospect of a reunified Korea will be "the best security guarantee to both the North and the South.”

    He also maintained that nuclear disarmament should be carried out not only in Korea but also in the rest of the world, saying “there must be no policy of double standards concerning disarmament obligations of states.” Dr. Köchler is serving as a member of HWPL Peace Advisory Council, a group of policy makers and experts from civil society for advancing peace in the international community.

    At the end of the event, Dr. Welker presented to HWPL delegation a Letter of Support for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula and global peace. As in line with its advocacy campaign for global peacebuilding, HWPL is collecting the Letters of Support from state officials to civil leaders, which aim to being sent to the leaders of two Koreas.

    Meanwhile, HWPL, to build sustainable peace, is implementing peace education programs in various educational institutions and collaborating with educational experts and teachers worldwide to develop peace education textbooks and curriculums.

  • Dimitry Kumsishvili Met China’s Minister of Commerce

    “Chinese government will help the Georgian side to hold various events on the territory of China targeted at promotion of the Georgian products,” – the First Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Dimitry Kumsishvili stated following the meeting with Zhong Shan, the Minister of Commerce and Industry of the People’s Republic of China.

    According to the First Vice Prime Minister, the proposal of the Minister of Commerce of the People's Republic of China is unprecedented and it will contribute to the export growth of Georgian products in China.

    “Today we have been offered another unprecedented assistance by the Minister of Commerce of China. In order to sell more Georgian products in China and thus increase the export rate from Georgia, the Minister has offered us to conduct a number of events in the territory of China,” – Dimitry Kumsishvili declared.
    According to the First Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, special joint groups, which will further promote the Georgian products in China, will enable more Chinese companies to get acquainted with Georgia's opportunities and make necessary investments for our country.

    Shanghai Expo was one of the prevailing issues for discussion at this meeting.

    Dimitry Kumsishvili expressed his gratitude towards the Minister of Commerce of China for the official invitation of the Government of Georgia to the Shanghai International Exhibition, which will be held in November 2018.

    "Within the Shanghai Export International Exhibition, Georgian companies will be able to communicate directly with 150 000 buyers, which will be supported by the Ministry of Commerce of China. This will be an exhibition that our country needs to utilize with full potential. This exhibition allows Georgian companies to export their products to the Chinese market and significantly increase their sales," - Dimitry Kumsishvili noted after the meeting.

    In addition, Dimitry Kumsishvili invited the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Zhong Shan to Georgia and offered to hold a business forum in Tbilisi within the framework of Intergovernmental Commission meeting between the two countries this summer.

    According to the First Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade-Economic Cooperation between Georgia and China represents an effective leverage for further development of bilateral cooperation.

    Dimitry Kumsishvili and Zhong Shan agreed to take effective steps to the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and China. As it was noted, both Georgian and Chinese companies should fully benefit from the free trade agreement, for which both sides shall come up with important decisions.

    The agreement on which the negotiations have been completed in a short period of seven months has been in force since 2018. It was also noted at the meeting that following the signing and enactment of the Agreement, there is a tendency for the growth of trade turnover between the two countries, however the potential is still huge and it needs to be supported with the favorable directions for both sides, for which the Chinese side will provide assistance to the Georgian producers.

    Deputy Ministers of Economy and Sustainable Development, Genadi Arveladze and Giorgi Cherkezishvili, as well as the CEO of the LEPL Georgian Railway, David Peradze and the the Georgia’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Davit Aptsiauri also attended the meeting. 

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