Christmas 2017 message from GVI President Mr. Joe Washington

Tis the Season!

(End of the year message and challenges for the year that lies ahead!)

As the line from a famous Christmas carol states: “…Tis the season to be jolly”

Unfortunately, as highlighted in the Global Humanitarian Appeal launched on 1 December 2017 by Mark Lowcock, Under – Secretary – General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, a record $22.5 billion dollars is needed to address the priority needs of 91 million of the most vulnerable individuals in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in 2018. This is in the form of protection, shelter, education, health care, and other basic assistance. The target of 91 million is short of the projected 136 million individuals identified across the world as in need of humanitarian aid and protection due to protracted conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics and displacement .

In this era of wealth, prosperity, economic growth and consumerism in increasing parts of the world, why do such burgeoning needs continue to exist?!?

As we approach the New Year, the search for answers to the above question may fruitfully be pondered in conjunction with others, such as:

-Why are so many people feeling disillusioned, disenfranchised and alienated from their governments and various segments of their society?

-Why do we often fear and resent our ‘neighbours’ (whether local, national, or international), particularly those who do not look like us?

-How can we find the courage and space to have so-called ‘challenging conversations’ within families, neighbourhoods, communities, places of worship, and within nations, as well as across neighbourhoods, communities, places of worship, and nations?

-How can we support the UN, its various organs and Member States, diplomats, international civil servants, and others to consistently live up to its lofty but essential principles and values?

All the challenges mentioned above require ‘spaces’ for dialogue and a sustained and collective response. The United Nations serves as a critical venue for discussion, debate and action on a wide range of national, regional and international issues, spanning from development and support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the rights of indigenous peoples and peoples of African Descent, protection of the environment and combating climate change, promotion of peace and security, advancing democracy, combating racism, confronting nuclear proliferation, and protection of human rights, particularly those of women and children.

Important reforms have been recommended by various high level panels and successive UN Secretary Generals to assist the UN in meeting its goals and addressing shortcomings. For example, during an open debate last September with the Security Council on the reform of UN peacekeeping, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that every day, peacekeepers create the conditions for lasting peace. He went on to add that they also often face unreasonable and dangerous demands, and spoke of the critical changes necessary to “fortify this flagship UN activity.” However, the challenge remains to move the various recommendations arising from these reports into the hearts, minds, and most importantly, actions, of those responsible for their implementation.

There is a famous proverb that sates: “Without vision, the people will perish.”

GVI is among numerous organizations working to support the UN to live up to its goals, aspirations and vision. But this support is given with eyes wide open regarding the tremendous work that lies ahead and the obstacles the organisation must overcome to meet the challenges.

We believe an essential element to confront the various challenges and align with one another is through shared super-ordinate values. Specifically, GVI is committed to co-creating a universal-values-driven international system. These values include peace, diversity, tolerance, justice, accountability, transparency, equality, human dignity, solidarity and environmental sustainability.

Our recently released free manual provides a useful tool for individuals, teams and group self-assessment, and a roadmap to meet the identified goals. Ultimately, it supports our goal in contributing to make the world, via the UN, a better place.

In conclusion and in light of the Christmas holidays season in which we find ourselves, let me share a wonderful line from a holiday movie classic, which goes as follows:

“Christmas is the one night of the year when…for a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.”

The broader message of always striving to be the best we can be each and everyday is not unique to any religion, or uncommon among those who practice no organized religion. I challenge each one of us to first reconnect with our own core values, and then support one another in our collective drive to co-create a values driven UN/global system.

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