What Does Peace Look Like in 2024?

© Makhzan-e-Tasaweer

After the Annual International Peace Symposium in the United Kingdom, we asked parliamentarians, educators, law enforcement, and many other professions, how they envision peace in 2024, and how their perception changed after listening to the keynote address of His Holiness, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba). This is what they had to say.

Adi Roach – Anti-Nuclear Advocate, Founder of Chernobyl Children, 2020 Recipient of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Prize for The Advancement of Peace

I’m a peace activist, environmentalist and humanitarian aid worker. I worked for many years for the campaign for nuclear disarmament to try and end the Cold War, working for peace, making peace possible… For the last almost 40 years, I have dedicated my life to working with the victims and the survivors of what was called by the United Nations, the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of humanity [The Chernobyl Accident.

What did you think of His Holiness’ address?

The address from His Holiness today… my heart sang, and it was music to my ears. I felt very emotional because he is the only leader that I’ve come across that actually speaks it, as it is. He speaks about the dangers of, if we ignore the progression towards making war and more of a nuclear exchange, we ignore it at our peril. And the whole of civilization will pay the ultimate price. And I believe His Holiness has foreseen this in the last number of years.

No other leaders are talking about nuclear proliferation, no leaders of any country that I know of, are actually speaking about the nuclear arms race, how it’s now back in the fray, and all of the achievements of the past are being undone. And it takes a lot of vision and a lot of courage, which came from His Holiness tonight.

Do you think that world leaders are too complacent about the threat of a nuclear war?

Unfortunately. His Holiness spoke about the geopolitics in the war… in Gaza and also in Ukraine, that it’s like a proxy war and it’s being played out in the theatre of Ukraine. Unfortunately, world leaders are choosing to turn the other way, because the military industrial complex is very, very powerful… We need to take heed of the words that were shared today from His Holiness and we need to stop, we need to listen, we need to reflect and to stand up and stand out on the side of peace in the name of future generations.

David Spurdle – Founder of the children’s charity ‘Stand By Me’, 2023 Recipient of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Prize for The Advancement of Peace

We’re a children’s charity that are caring for over 4000 children around the world in seven different countries, building schools, homes, care centres, clinics, trying to keep families together, but reaching out to humanity however we can in order to show love and compassion and care.

What are your thoughts on His Holiness’ speech, especially when he mentioned about if there was any point to these events if politicians and world leaders won’t listen?

I really thought his speech was thought provoking. I think he’s courageous to criticise Israel and to criticise America. These people are ruining the lives of thousands of children and widows, women. The devastation in Gaza is deplorable. Humanity should be ashamed of itself. And I really think His Holiness was brave in saying what he said, in the way that he said it. And what he said is true. There’s only one way forward, and that’s through love and compassion… and having the courage, because what he said about democracy not existing is true. How many people say that? But he had the courage to say that tonight and I admire him for that. Ukraine, Gaza, Myanmar, wherever they are, there’s only one way forward. That’s through love, compassion, and dialogue, as His Holiness was saying tonight, and I agree with him 100%.

Sir Edward Davey – Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

What are your thoughts on His Holiness’ speech, especially when he mentioned about whether there was any point in his events, if politicians involved leaders weren’t listening?

His Holiness is always inspirational. I’ve had the huge honour to hear him at many peace symposiums. And I can tell you that they do make a difference. Politicians of all parties listen to him. I’ve had the huge honour to hear him here, but also meet him one-to-one. And I’ve always welcomed his advice and indeed, I’ve sought his advice on the number of awful wars we’ve had over the years. And with the horrific violence in Gaza, as well as the appalling war in Ukraine, we need world leaders like His Holiness to speak up. We need all politicians to listen hard and take action to get the peace we all want.

What message do you have for people that are suffering in war-torn conflicts around the world?

We need, as an international community, to work together to bring that peace about. We need to say to the aggressors, stop it. Let’s have a ceasefire. Let’s have peace talks.

My wife and I have a Ukrainian refugee living with us. And seeing her trauma and her experience, hearing about her friends, brings it home to you. And I’ve recently come back from a visit to Israel and Palestine. And although I couldn’t go to Gaza, I talked to Palestinians with relatives and friends in Gaza. And it is true. So, they have to be in our hearts and we have to double our efforts for peace.

Chandrakanth Arya – Member of Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, Canada

What is your takeaway message from His Holiness’ keynote speech?

As His Holiness mentioned, the policymakers, the politicians, the people in power across the world, who wield the power both in the United Nations and elsewhere; they need to listen to this message. We can solve all the problems only by peace, by negotiation, not by war, not by conflict, not by more killings.

Given the situation in the world, we’re almost on a breaking point. How important are events like this today?

It’s very important. As His Holiness mentioned, we’re almost at a breaking point. The United Nations and other organizations which were supposed to safeguard [us], they’re breaking apart because the interests, who can control through their veto power are not doing their duty towards humanitarian causes, but instead are using that veto power to further the conflict.

Roberto Catalano – Catholic Professor, Florence, Italy

What is your takeaway message from His Holiness’ keynote address today?

All religions must be really engaged in working for peace. Now what Pope Francis says, what Patriarch Bartholomeus of the Orthodox Church says, what the Caliph said tonight, can really be the proclamas, or invitation, for everyone to work for peace. And if people who believe can really unite working for peace, we can make a difference.

Seema Malhotra – Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston, United Kingdom

What are your thoughts about His Holiness’ address today?

I thought that His Holiness’ address was extremely powerful. It was really a tour de force of all the challenges that we’re facing across the world in areas of conflict. And the severe humanitarian impact that that’s having, the lives being lost, the areas that are being devastated, and the choices that we could try and make differently, and how that is all connected to a wider view, a more strategic view [that] we should have of geopolitics.

Gudrun Elsa Tryggvadottir – City Hall, Reykjavík, Iceland

What is the takeaway message you’re going to go back with from His Holiness’ keynote address?

I thought it was sad to listen to him talk about how international human rights law is failing us. But that’s the message I got from his speech, that we’re not doing enough as a global international community. And I hope that being a lawyer myself, I can contribute to changing that.

Ahmad Ayubi – Director of ‘Stand By Me’

What do you think about His Holiness’ address?

It’s very measured, very detailed. A lot of places you go, around these topics, they are trying to change the subject. He’s very forward, very detailed. He’s not mincing his words. He’s peaceful, but it was very clear. He wasn’t watering things down, which I think is important. I think it needs someone of that character, especially in this age. People are too worried to say the right things, or say the right things to the right people.

He also gave a good description of Islam. It wasn’t just, ‘We want peace’. It was a detailed ‘how you do peace’. And in a way, it doesn’t sound like a medieval kind of concept. If things were applied like that today we’d be in a better place.

Dr. Angel Santos Ramon – Psychiatrist, Spain

His Holiness touched on many different elements pertaining to global conflicts. What would you say resonated with you?

What I liked about the speech was that he faced the issues head-on. And I thought that it was insightful. I thought that part of it that I liked was that he was also talking about how wars should be conducted in an ethical way. For me that that was a realistic approach, meaning that he acknowledged that there will be conflict sometimes, but that there is a way to try to manage it, to make it better, and to last less.