2000 - International Year
For the Culture of Peace project

A thumb-print signature from an Indian villager living in one of the poorest parts in the world to a high-tech online signature and a purpose-built pavilion near the Olympic Village in Sydney - these are just some of the ways the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) encouraged a personal commitment from people all over the world to the International Year for the Culture of Peace (IYCP) last year.

Affiliated to the United Nations as a non-governmental organisation, the BKWSU was designated a "Messenger for Manifesto 2000", together with 180 other international organisations in 150 countries by UNESCO, co-ordinating the project for the UN.

UNESCO aimed to collect 100 million signatures of Manifesto 2000 by the end of the project. The manifesto, drafted by a group of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, enables individuals to make a personal contribution to living a culture of peace on a daily basis.

The results were amazing. By January 15th 2001, UNESCO's world-wide total had reached 74.4 million signatures. Of that total, 37 million were collected by the BKWSU, the largest single contribution by any organisation. In India alone, through a major outreach project in the thousands of small villages throughout the country, as well as the major towns and cities, the BKWSU collected 35 million signatures - a world record for any single country. This often involved bringing the IYCP project to some of the most remote and poorest villages in the world, who despite their illiteracy were determined to pledge their commitment to peace through thumbprints.

Peace Pavillion in Sdney

The project has been an unbelievable success. There have been significant events in over 51 countries and together with the number of signatures coming from their regional co-ordinators, the response from their online website, which has been accessed in 140 countries, has been tremendous, it's been a real effort to keep up with it!

Through it's 4000 branches worldwide, the BKWSU co-ordinated seminars, conferences, cultural programmes, concerts, community events and schools projects aimed at helping people live a culture of peace in their daily lives, as well as bringing people together to celebrate the richness of the world's cultural diversity.

Among the BKWSU's unique contribution to the IYCP project included the setting up of a special website:, which not only gave more information on how to take part in the project, but gave the opportunity to sign Manifesto 2000 online. It also contains artwork, songs and poems especially written for the IYCP project.

The "Peace Experience Workshop" became another successful innovation for the IYCP project by the BKWSU. It incorporated the "Appreciative Inquiry" technique and was conducted in over 30 countries, providing people a very genuine and personal experience of peace in their lives.

The spirit of the Sydney 2000 Olympics was also touched by the IYCP project, as the BKWSU erected the "Peace Pavilion" in Centennial Park, near the Olympic Village. It gave a dynamic insight and experience of peace and its aims to thousands of spectators, locals, tourists and athletes who visited it before, during and after the games.

BK Janki, Co-administrative Head of the BWKSU said:"The Brahma Kumaris have been involved with a number of projects with the United Nations in the past, including the Million Minutes of Peace Appeal and Global Co-operation for a Better World. We believe that the practice of positive spiritual values through spiritual understanding and meditation can have a hugely beneficial affect and we were keen to apply this to our contribution for the IYCP project."

Out of the BKWSU's 56 launch events and 33 Flagship Events, more than 750 dignitaries have contributed world-wide including The Prime Minister of India - H.E.

Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, The President of Mauritius - H.E. Mr. Cassam Uteem, The President of Trinidad & Tobago - H.E. Mr. Arthur Robinson, and The Premier of KwaZulu Natal in Durban (South Africa) - H.E. Mr. L. Mtshali.

Other dignitaries who have participated include former Presidents, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Government Officials, City Mayors and Celebrities such as Mr. Robin Gibb of the BeeGees and England Cricketer Mr. Chris Lewis. Letters of support have been received from many well-wishers such as Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

The types of participants have ranged from: Children & Youth; the Elderly & Disabled; Religious & Interfaith groups; Social Workers & Prisoners; Doctors & Health Carers; Police, Army & Chief Justices; Business, Industry & Scientists; Mass Media & Sports people; Educators & Women's groups; Deaf communities & the Illiterate; Artists & Environmentalists.

About the BKWSU

The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, established in 1937, is an international organisation working at all levels of society for positive change. The University carries out a wide range of educational programmes for the development of human and spiritual values throughout its 4,000 branches in over 80 countries.

Working in the community, the University offers a range of educational programmes to assist individuals to explore and develop their own personal growth and to improve the quality of life.

At an international level, prior to IYCP, it has gained international recognition for working projects such as Global Co-operation for a Better World and the Million Minutes of Peace Appeal in co-operation with the United Nations.

The University is a non-governmental organisation in general consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) of the United Nations and in consultative status with UNICEF.


Media material for IYCP

For information on the BKWSU's activities and events that took place in your area, please contact our London office in the first instance (contact details below).

Where possible you will be placed in contact with representatives local to you.

IYCP London co-ordinating office
Tel: 44 (0) 20 8727-3356 ~ Fax: 44 (0) 20 8727-3351 ~

This issue is dedicated to contemporary Turkish artist Erol AKYAVA┼×.
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