"Garland of Peace"- Declaring War Ruins as Peace Heritage Sites



Sandeep Silas





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Sandeep Silas, a graduate of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, is the forerunner of an initiative called "Garland of Peace". He conceived this singular plan about five years ago. One of its main goals is to "Declare War Ruins as Peace Heritage Sites". What this aims to do is highlight the real face of war effects, war crimes, and life-after-war. The sites will place this before the public and ideally serve as a deterrent; so that world leaders would walk the extra mile to solve problems through diplomacy, and refrain from pressing the 'button' to war. The initiative would make a case for conflict resolution through dialogue and negotiation stronger.

Silas, a civil servant in India’s Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, would like the concept to become an instrument of education for the new generation, an expression of peace tourism and a framework for ensuring peace. Peace Tourism is a new brand of meaningful tourism whereby these memorials could also become major attractions for travelers and enhance the tourism potential of the countries. Introducing the idea, he asserts- “We must keep War Heritage Sites in constant view so that we do not traverse that path again and our children understand the value of peace. We must not allow the memories of mass destruction, rape and loot by invading armies, genocide of a race, that the world has seen before, to fade away from the sight of world leaders, opinion makers and the people. This could go a long way in working for the cause of peace so that wars never again plague the earth.''

The Launch Ceremony  was held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on World Peace Day Sept 21st 2009, where it was dedicated to the people of the world. Distinguished guests Honorable Mr. Oscar Fernandes, former Union Minister of Labour and Employment; Mr. Raj Liberhan, Director of the India Habitat Centre; Mrs. Sudha Pillai, Planning Commission Secretary; and Bishop Franco Mullakal together with Sandeep Silas launched the idea into public domain by lighting candles for world peace.

A display of the 11 places short-listed for the initiative to begin with was set up for people to see and endorse. Silas stated that he wanted war ruins like the St Paul church in Ambala Cantt- a reminder of the Indo-Pak war in 1971- and Buddha’s statues in Bamiyan (Afghanistan) to be developed as centers for peace education. Also included in the 11 ruins that Silas said need to be declared as peace heritage sites were Pearl Harbor, domes in Hiroshima, Auschwitz camps and the Berlin Wall.

Since its inception Silas has been making efforts to promote the “Garland of Peace” idea and generate common adherence around the globe. His hope is to present the concept before key decision makers in any Member State of the UN; for inscription to the Agenda of the UN General Assembly; as the next step in implementing the initiative.

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