Power of Peace Network and Friends Without Borders launch World Youth ‘Peace Champion’ Campaign
The UNESCO Power of Peace Network has partnered with San Francisco based Friends Without Borders to select eight world youth Peace Champions from countries challenged by conflict - Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, Greece and Turkey, Serbia and Albania. The Peace Champions will be selected as a Facebook friendship pair from across the countries involved in dispute. The initiative is supported by Facebook, Inc., which is publishing daily ‘friending’ rates across all four conflicts at peace.facebook.com.
The project brings together the immediate power of information and communication technologies, and video storytelling to increase mutual respect, trust and understanding among 14-25-year old youth from all eight countries by promoting social and cultural self-expression. The campaign provides a forum for trusted social engagement, and allows young people to connect with new and old friends with different cultures and beliefs in real-time across unlimited locations. By using the Facebook platform Friends Without Borders has created a space for youth from different sides of the four conflicts get to know each other without the constraints of distance or interceptive media.
The Peace Champion friendship pairs from each conflict will act as ambassadors for the campaign by sharing their own story of friendship on video. They will inspire others to engage in friendship and peace-building on Facebook in ways that will help progress positive intra-regional and inter-personal relations.
The Champions will by coached by an Emmy Award-winning video production team in New York City to create a video diary of their life and friendship on Facebook. They will become documentary film-makers for a week, capturing their personal inspirations, hopes, dreams and everyday experiences to be produced as a video diary. The Peace Champions friendship story will also be the story of potential conflict transformation for each country.
Communication technologies are changing the way young people interact and learn about the world, signaling a new potential for peace-building. The video stories will be used to celebrate and inspire friendship beyond dispute and difference in the eight countries, and around the world.
Friends Without Borders was launched on Facebook during May 2011, and has quickly grown to a global network of over 30,000 youth. Dialogue themes that have emerged among the group relate to the value of friendship, and the special role it plays in living and self-expression.
The Peace Champions friendship pairs from Greece and Turkey, and India and Pakistan have been awarded and announced. As one young man from Pakistan explains, “it’s such a proud moment for both countries, and both of you have transcended every barrier, and showed everybody in India and Pakistan, and the whole world that peace is the optimum”.
Champions from Israel and Palestine, and Albania and Serbia are now being selected, and are expected to be announced this month. The video documentaries will be launched in August 2011.