Sunday, September 17, 2006

Nobel Laureates Ask Youth to Push Peace

As reported by the Associated Press; Sept. 15, 2006

By Chase Squires

Nobel Peace Prize laureates criticized the United States and the Bush administration Friday as they kicked off a conference dedicated to promoting peace and calling the world's youth to action.

"The rest of the world needs America, but it doesn't need the current model it is getting," said Mairead Maguire, a 1976 Peace Prize recipient from Northern Ireland.

The nine laureates criticized the United States for invading Iraq and Afghanistan, failure to engage al-Qaida in dialogue, failure to support conventions recognizing the rights of children, continued military spending and failure to open markets to developing nations.

They also cited racism and hate, extreme poverty and unequal access to water and other resources among problems standing in the way of peace between countries.

Some 3,000 youths from 31 countries are expected to attend PeaceJam at the University of Denver campus, which was billed as the largest gathering of Nobel Peace laureates in North America.

Aaron Vigil, 17, said the spirit of PeaceJam is something he tries to share at his Denver high school. He said he wants to make a difference.

"I actually went to India and saw all the poverty there," he said. "Here in the United States, a lot of kids don't realize all that we have."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a crowd of reporters that wealthier nations cannot ignore the plight of poorer countries."You don't care? Boundaries are now porous," he said. "Things that could be contained 'over there' are now upon us. Ultimately, we can survive only together."

In 1996, Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, both 49, started PeaceJam -- a network that puts teenagers face-to-face with some of the world's top proponents of peace.

"We face serious problems and if we don't start dealing with them in earnest and quit thinking it's someone else's problem to deal with, then we're doomed," Suvanjieff said.

"I've kind of given up on people my age."