Conflict Resolution

Manila Bulletin, November 28, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Conflict Resolution


MANILA, Philippines - Last week, the shelling of a South Korean island by the North Koreans and the anniversary of the massacre in Ampatuan country in the front pages of the national newspapers reminded me how conflict still surrounds us every day and brought back memories of my years as Chairman of the Board of Overseers of the UP Basilan Land Grant where I had to contend with land mines, grieved over the death of a supervisor, whose head was cut clean by a sharp wire strung across the highway as he raced home in his scooter, of nights spent sleeping on the floor rather than the bed and of threats of tossed grenades during evening festivities.I am heartened that despite all these tensions, there are men and women who reach out to clear misunderstandings and strive for our dearest desire - peace. I am proud that a number of them, like me, are Rotarians.Rotary and Rotarians have a long history of trying to resolve conflicts and work for peace. In the founding of the United Nations, 27 of the delegates or technical advisers were Rotarians. Five were heads of their delegation and Paul-Henri Spaak of the Rotary Club of Brussels was elected president of the General Assembly. The papers then carried stories of how past Rotary International (RI) Vice-President and Rotarian Carlos P. Romulo of the Rotary Club of Manila "set the keynote." He subsequently became president of the General Assembly.During a border dispute between Argentina and Chile, then RI President James L. Bomar "convened a President's Conference of Goodwill and invited 45 couples from each country". Their face-to-face discussions and the respect they enjoyed in their own respective countries made them ideal emissaries of peace. Argentina and Chile since then have never had any border disputes.In the 1947, riots between Hindus and Moslems, the Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Bombay walked the streets as peacemakers.

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