Queensland: International Day of Peace

Emeritus Professor Gillian TriggsDuring the Season of Creation, St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane hosts Professor Gillian Triggs, former chair of the Australian Human Rights Commission, who will deliver the 2020 International Day of Peace lecture, “Shaping Peace Together” co-hosted by the University of Queensland Rotary Peace Centre and the United Nations Association of Australia. Professor Triggs will deliver the lecture from Geneva – a youtube video of the lecture is given.

One of the themes The Season of Creation invites us to reflect on is our interrelationship with all that is; that we are part of nature, and not separate from it as our culture tends to suggest. Being part of nature means that we live within and are knitted into the web of life. When one string in the web is pulled or broken, all other parts of the web are affected. The ‘Butterfly effect’ is an elegant expression of this: the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in the Amazon affects the formation of a tropical storm in the Atlantic. This means that ecological degradation affects us all and that each species extinction diminishes us. We need to attend to the care of creation if we are to care for ourselves. The Season of Creation therefore invites us to deepen our understanding of human flourishing. We cannot continue to sacrifice the planet for our ‘advancement’ as we are diminishing ourselves.

The International Day of Peace encourages us to recognise that attaining peace is also dependent on attending to relationships, not least our relationship with the planet. It is widely recognised that the Syrian Civil war, which has displaced some 13 million (out of a population of 22 million) people, is one of our first Climate Change induced conflicts. Climate Change exacerbated a drought in Syria which saw millions leave the country and crowd into the cities. This mass movement disrupted the order of society and contributed to the unrest that spilled over into the civil war. That civil war has been raging now for over 9 years. And as we saw in Europe a few years ago, such mass migrations cause discord and civil unrest in the countries to which the displaced seek to flee.

International Peace Day further extends the idea of attending to relationships by inviting us to reflect on the other ways in which the web of life and civil relationships are disrupted and conflict generated. For example, IDP encourages us to see how the growing divide between rich and poor and the corruption of political systems by the powerful leads to conflict and limits the chances of creating peace. In many nations including, the USA, many are feeling increasingly disenfranchised both economically and politically. Sometimes this disenfranchisement leads to passivity; other times the disenfranchised become anarchists. This is one of the dynamics at play in ‘Donald Trump’s America’. In fact it isn’t Donald trumps a America, it is the American that has produced Donald Trump.


Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs

Justice, equity, ecological sustainability and the pursuit of peace are all interlinked.

This year we once again observe International Day of Peace by hosting the Brisbane Peace Lecture. This year the lecture will be given by Gillian Triggs. Professor Triggs spent five years leading the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2019, she was appointed to the very senior United Nations position as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She will deliver the lecture from Geneva.



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