Dear colleagues in Rotary service,
Peace touches nearly everything we do in Rotary.
Peace has been at the core of our organization since its earliest days, before World War I. Rotarians added the “advancement of international peace and goodwill” to our guiding principles at the 1921 convention in Edinburgh, Scotland. At our convention in Havana, Cuba, in 1940, we adopted a resolution calling for “freedom, justice, truth, sanctity of the pledged word and respect for human rights” — principles that became the framework for the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Rotarians were in London when the seeds were sown for what became UNESCO after WWII. And in 1945, Rotarians participated in the conference in San Francisco, California, USA, when the UN charter was written, perhaps one of the most important meetings of the 20th century.
Our Rotary Foundation today works through our six areas of focus to serve as a catalyst for realizing a dream of a more peaceful world. Promoting peace is itself one of these areas, and our thriving Rotary Peace Centers, which annually train up to 100 of the next generation of peacemakers, are a testament to this commitment. Throughout the world, Rotary Peacebuilder Districts donate either $25,000 in Districted Designated Funds each year or $50,000 every other year to support the Rotary Peace Centers.
Through our other areas of focus, too, we work toward peace. By fighting diseases like polio, we are leading the way to a future with healthier, more stable communities. Providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene promotes peace by reducing water disputes and enhancing a community’s food security.
Our Foundation’s grants support mobile health clinics, breastfeeding programs, and other projects that help mothers and children. In doing so they build stability in families, ultimately fostering a more peaceful society.
Supporting education fosters peace and civility by expanding intellectual capacity, opening minds, and exposing students to alternatives to violence. Enterprise thrives in peaceful communities, which is why Rotarians apply their expertise to grow local economies by organizing microloans and entrepreneurship, among other initiatives.
In these and countless other ways, we lead toward peace, partnering with fellow Rotarians and others from around the globe to develop meaningful, sustainable projects that will have a significant impact for our communities.
As you go about your Rotary work and plan your projects, take pride in the fact that, as Rotarians, we are all ambassadors of peace and understanding.
Thank you all for your amazing dedication!
Paul A. Netzel
Chair, The Rotary Foundation 2017-18
P.S. I challenge you to work with your district team to support our Rotary Peace Centers: Recruit qualified candidates for Rotary Peace Fellowships, and become a Peacebuilder District to fund the centers that will train them to make our world more peaceful for all.