A Peaceful World

Realistic Utopia or Contradiction in Terms?

Keynote address by Ambassador Knut Vollebaek
Krista Foundation Annual Memorial Day Conference
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Clearwater Lodge, Davis Lake, Washington

Dear Linda and Jim, dear Krista Colleagues and dear friends of the Krista Foundation,Dear Linda and Jim, dear Krista Colleagues and dear friends of the Krista Foundation,

Ellen and I have been looking forward to this event. Learning about Krista and how her tragic death has now resurrected into a blessing for so many is not only amazing, it really gives strength to my faith.

Listening to stories about the Foundation and its work, or rather your work, and reading The Global Citizen journal, I was both impressed and intrigued by what had been happening in your lives and the lives of others, thanks to you. Having met you and been able to listen to your stories, I am really very uplifted. It has been a great privilege to be able to spend some time with you over the last couple of days.

Few words are more misused than the word peace. To define peace is difficult. We are all in favor of peace while we wage war. We may all agree that peace is more than merely the absence of war, violence or conflict. But, so what...?

In a book called Peace is Possible, published by the International Peace Bureau in 2000, Sheikh Hasina, then Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has a definition of peace that I like. In parenthesis, I may mention that she since has been ousted, lives in exile and her regime may not have embodied the ideal she describes in her definition. However, the definition is good. In an essay called "My Hard Lessons for Peace" she writes: If children die of hunger or malnutrition, if people do not have homes to live in, if the sick have to go without treatment, if people commit crime and are not punished, peace cannot be said to prevail. If the people do not have an opportunity to decide how they are going to be ruled and who are going to rule them, if they do not have freedom of thought and freedom of speech, if they are subject to the whims of the military or a dictator, there is no peace worth the name. Peace is pointless if the people are not free and happy. They must have every opportunity to lead, without hindrance, the kind of life they wish to".

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Knut Vollebaek While Norway's Ambassador to the U.S., Knut Vollebaek provided the keynote address at the 2007 Krista Foundation Annual Conference. A world diplomat with a career serving on fi ve continents, he contributed major leadership to the peace settlement in the former Yugoslavia. Internationally recognized for his role in the protection of peace, security and human rights, he began an appointment in July 2007, in The Hague as High Commissioner on National Minorities by the OSCE. His talented wife, Ellen, joined him in providing significant mentoring to Krista Colleagues throughout the conference weekend.