Posted by Norm McCarvell, PDG on Feb 03, 2019
Rotary founder Paul Harris has been quoted as stating, “The way to war is a well-paved highway and the way to Peace is still a wilderness.”  Since it’s inception, Rotary has evolved with the overall goal of peace in the world.  Peace and conflict resolution is more than just the stoppage of war or the absence of violence. Peace is ensuring there is justice for all.
Rotarians have refused to accept the idea of conflict as a way of life. At the Havana, Cuba Rotary Convention in 1940, “Rotarians adopted the resolution calling for ‘freedom, justice, truth, sanctity of the pledged word, and respect for human rights”.  That resolution became the frame work for the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
 
Almost all RI and Rotary Foundation programs have a pathway to promote understanding between people of different countries and cultures and within our own communities.  Our six Areas of Focus, Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution, Disease Prevention and Treatment, Water and Sanitation, Maternal and Child Health, Basic Education and Literacy and Economic and Community Development are designed to improve lives.  The resulting projects that develop provide in-country assistance and training, provides those communities with improved socio-economical status and can foster international understanding. 
 
The Rotary Institute for Economics and Peace has identified eight factors that lead to Positive Peace:
1.            Low levels of corruption
2.            Acceptance of rights of others
3.            Free flow of information
4.            Strong business environment
5.            High levels of human capital
6.            Equitable distribution of resources
7.            Good relations with neighbors
8.            Well-functioning government
 
Through our service projects, at times planned and implemented under difficult situations, our members are taking action to address these underlying factors.  A reduction in International and civil conflict, poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources are important steps towards positive peace outcomes.
 
Peace and Conflict Resolution/Prevention solutions are being expressed by Rotarians through desire, personal and financial commitment and actions. Club, District and Global Grants Projects provide the funding backbone for change. Through actions, Rotarians are paving the highway to peace around the world.  A Rotarian’s water project in Africa is also an offer of peace and friendship.   District Rotarians working to develop Peace Parks for the symbolic removal of international boundaries.  A Peace Scholar in Cambodia working towards peace and justice in Asia will make inroads towards peaceful solutions.  Rotary Youth Exchanges takes our future leaders to foreign countries where they discover more than what is in their backyard.  Many other Rotary initiatives have a direct impact on understanding between people and countries.
 
Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas L. Friedman’s wrote in his 1999 book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, that, “due to globalization, countries that have made strong economic ties with one another have too much to lose to ever go to war with one another.”  I believe that theory can be applied to the ongoing work of Rotary.  To paraphrase, ‘due to the work of Rotary International and the dedication of its members around the world, countries are making strong ties with one another and will soon have too much to lose to go to war with one another’.  Rotarians are people of action who are making an impact directly and indirectly in the area of Peace and Conflict Resolution and Prevention.  
 
Peace Through Service, Service Above Self and Be the Inspiration are some of the inspired themes that we should take-to-heart and which will serve Rotarians well, as we move towards the future as People of Action.
 
Bibliography
Area of Focus Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution Rotary Slide Show
Rotary and Peace Slide Show, PP Dr. Mark Alan Zober
Rotary.org