London, England

International Peace Day Celebrated at the Church of Scientology of London

Human rights, respect and dignity are the themes as London community leaders gather for Church’s day-long forum

On World Peace Day September 19, community leaders gathered at the London Church of Scientology to share ideas on how we can create greater respect and dignity across the city. Among them were distinguished guest speakers Mr Farooq Aftab, General Counsel of the International Human Rights Committee, and Mr Mahmoud Haidari, an education consultant and lecturer specialising in human right.

Ms Tracey Coleman, Public Affairs Director of the London Church, noted that on a day devoted to the ideals and practice of peace, tragic incidents are sadly easy to find in London—stabbings in the name of gang warfare, discrimination in the work place and bullying in the schools—all highlighting the importance of exploring how promoting calm and harmony within all communities.

A common theme of the event was that peace starts from within and is connected intimately with human rights, which are inherent and inviolate.

Although the concept of human rights has existed in many forms through the ages, it was not until the creation and adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 that it became a point of international agreement. Born in the aftermath of the Second World War, the UDHR points out that “disregard and contempt for human rights...resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” The document was created in recognition that “the inherent dignity and… the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights delineates the 30 rights to which every member of the human family is entitled. 

“We can bring about a society where we all respect one other.”

“It's our duty to care for and respect one another and the best way to practically demonstrate this is to consider the feelings and sentiments of each other,” said Mr Farooq Aftab in his address at the World Peace Day forum. “That is the primary way to establish good human values and the only way to develop an environment filled with peace, justice, and reconciliation. It should be our goal to establish such high values in every village, every town, every city, every country, every society and indeed every part of the world. Let us work together to achieve this.”

Mr Mahmoud Haidari said, “Peace is the most important of all the requirements for human progress and well-being, in all their aspects. The core issue is how to maintain the levels of peace that some parts of the world have managed to achieve, while spreading that peace to others not so fortunate or successful. Peace achieved by violent means is not sustainable. I believe that all our efforts must be focused on a paradigm shift towards achieving peace through peaceful means. Education and fuller understanding of the core concepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be recognised as a powerful means of helping bring this shift about.”

Emphasising the importance of education, Mr Mark Pinchin, Director of Special Affairs for the London Church of Scientology, briefed those attending on United for Human Rights and Youth For Human Rights International, the initiatives supported by the London Church of Scientology that provide youth and adults with educational materials to facilitate widespread understanding of human rights.

All 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are illustrated by Youth for Human Rights video public service announcements. These include such principles as “We are all free and equal,” “Don’t discriminate,” and “Freedom of thought.” The videos and the booklet, What Are Human Rights, make it very simple for anyone to understand and know their rights and the rights of others. 

The speakers emphasised that human rights begin with the individual, who must first learn what these rights are and then apply them to his own life and to others. “Let us all work together to make these principles broadly known,” said Mr Pinchin. “Through education, we can bring about peace in a society where we all respect one other.”