How can the United Nations and NGOs unite people and cultures to make the world a better and more peaceful place? That was a central question posed at a UN Department of Public Information (DPI) briefing titled, “Creating Cultures of Peace: Art, Music, and Peace Museums” that Peace Boat US attended on February 23, 2017,
Dr. Joyce Aspel, author of Introducing Peace Museums and member of the International Network of Museums for Peace, explained that peace museums promote understanding of peace as a significant part of history and provide a space for people to come together. She identified some of the peace museums around the world, including Pasos Peace Museum, a virtual museum accessible to everyone in which different webpages act as “rooms” in the museum. Lea Giddins, a representative of the museum, explained how peace museums can be used to connect, empower, and inspire peace builders.
Next, Michael Dinwiddie and Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, spoke on behalf of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts and how music can promote peace and intercultural understanding. They discussed Duke Ellington’s role as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department and his worldwide tours which started in 1963. He wrote over 3000 compositions inspired by his travels, including the famous “Far East Suite.” Mercedes Ellington shared anecdotes from her time with him on his USSR tour and discussed how “arts come to the rescue.” Finally, Lily Gray, Liaison officer at UNESCO, and Hajime Kishimori, Counselor of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, both talked about the role their institutions can play in supporting cultures of peace. Lily Gray discussed how culture and art can be drivers of sustainable development and mentioned some of UNESCO’s programs that emphasize them. For example, UNESCO’s General and Regional Histories focus on scientific, cultural, and religious contributions (instead of battles, kings, and violence) that support global citizenship and conflict prevention. Hajime Kishimori focused on the role governments can have in promoting art and cultures of peace.
Overall, it was a very interesting event that brought into question how we define peace and how we can foster it. It fit well into Sustainable Development Goal #16 (Peace,Justice and Strong Institutions) as well as Peace Boat’s commitment to connecting people from different cultures to make a more peaceful world.
This post was created and published by Lindsey Sokol (Peace Boat US Intern).