Rotary Day at the United Nations pushes peace from concept to reality

By Geoff Johnson, Senior Editor/The Rotarian Photo by Keith Best

On the 99th anniversary of the end of World War I, more than 1,200 people gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for Rotary Day at the United Nations. 

Representing 87 countries, they convened on Saturday, 11 November, at the Palais des Nations, originally the home of the League of Nations, and dedicated themselves to the theme enunciated by Rotary President Ian H. S. Riseley: “Peace: Making a Difference.”

Rotary International honours six champions of peace at the United Nations on 11 November.

“The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace have always been among Rotary’s primary goals,” said Riseley. “It is past time for all of us to recognize the potential of all of our Rotary service to build peace, and approach that service with peacebuilding in mind.”

For the first time in its 13-year history, Rotary Day at the UN was held outside of New York.

Rotary Day culminated Geneva Peace Week, during which John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International, noted the “close and longstanding ties between Rotary and the UN in (their) mutual pursuit of peace and international understanding.”

Rotary members “can transform a concept like peace to a reality through service,” said Ed Futa, dean of the Rotary Representative Network. “Peace needs to be lived rather than preached.”

As a highlight of Rotary Day, Hewko introduced Rotary’s 2017 People of Action: Champions of Peace award winners. He praised them as “an embodiment of the range and impact of our organization’s work,” and saluted them for providing “a roadmap for what more peaceful, resilient societies look like.”

Rotary honoured six individuals, one of whom was the creator and Director of the Peace Project, Rtn.Jean Best

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