The 1935 Peace Ballot in Wales

By Rob Laker, History Masters Researcher, Swansea University (student placement with WCIA’s ‘Peace Heritage’ programme).

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The 1935 Peace Ballot was a UK wide poll of Britain’s electorate designed to measure the public’s opinions regarding the key debates in international relations at the time. Despite lacking government sponsorship, the Ballot received extraordinary attention across the United Kingdom – nowhere was engagement higher, however, than in Wales, which quickly came to be recognised as a leading light in the cause of internationalism.

1,025,040 people in Wales voted in the Peace Ballot of 1935… 62.3% of eligible registered voters”

Between the wars, a new form of outward-looking patriotism had become an important part of Welsh national identity, as ordinary people worked actively to create a Wales which existed at the centre of the international community. Local branches of the Welsh League of Nations Union were active in every corner of Wales, running cultural events such as ‘Daffodil Days’ – the since forgotten annual custom of selling daffodils in aid of the League – and coordinating networks of local activists. This pride in their nation’s role in the quest for international harmony manifested itself in Welsh responses to the Peace Ballot, producing an overwhelming endorsement for the cause of internationalism.

The UK Ballot

By the end of 1933 it seemed that the international order was unravelling: the World Disarmament Conference had failed to produce results, Germany had withdrawn from the League of Nations, and the organisation had proved itself unable to resolve the Manchuria Crisis.

Internationalists in Britain, however, were anxious that the government remain committed to the League, and so the League of Nations Union set about organising the Peace Ballot in order to demonstrate the British people’s unwavering commitment to internationalism. Between the end of 1934 and the middle of 1935, half a million volunteers canvassed door to door, collecting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses on five key questions:

1)    Should Great Britain remain a member of the League of Nations?

2)    Are you in favour of all-round reduction of armaments by international agreement?

3)    Are you in favour of an all-round abolition of national military and naval aircraft by international agreement?

4)    Should the manufacture and sale of armaments for private profit be prohibited by international agreement?

5)     Do you consider that, if a nation insists on attacking another, the other nations should combine to compel it to stop –

       a) by economic and non-military measures?

       b) if necessary, military measures?

Credit – Northern Friends’ Peace Board, c/o Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) 

Despite being independently conducted, the Ballot – which received 11.6 million responses nationwide – has been described as Britain’s first referendum, and was highly effective in stimulating engagement with the key issues dominating international politics. The poll did not disappoint its organisers, for the result was an emphatic endorsement of internationalist policies from the British public.

  • An astonishing ninety-seven percent of voters felt that Britain should remain in the League
  • while ninety-four percent believed that it should outlaw the arms trade
Read more

WLNU Postbox in the Temple of Peace today.

The Welsh Case

In Wales, the organisation of the Ballot fell solely on the shoulders of the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU), a challenge which it took up with great enthusiasm. Vast reserves of internationalist sentiment, which permeated every corner of Welsh society, were an important part of interwar society. To believe in Wales was, in this period of salient hope, to actively pursue the cause of peace, thereby locating the Welsh as a ‘force for good’ at the crux of global anxieties.

Google Map of Communities who organised Daffodil Days between 1925-39, collated by Rob Laker for his feature article on Daffodil Days of the WLNU . Zoom, or click on pins, to find individual communities. Further info on local activism can be gleaned from Welsh League of Nations Union reports (digitised by WCIA on People’s Collection Wales).

Lord David Davies of Llandinam  (painted by Sam Morse Brown:  National Museum of Wales collections)  

As a result, Lord David Davies (who co-founded the Welsh League of Nations Union with Rev Gwilym Davies) was determined that Wales should produce a spectacular result in the Ballot which he viewed as the very ‘essence of democracy’.

Drawing upon a committed network of volunteers across Wales, supplemented by an army of canvassers (paid at the personal expense of Lord Davies), WLNU representatives went door to door in nearly every Welsh town and village collecting responses.

The responses proved to be an affirmation of Wales’ internationalist credentials, as over one million adults voted in the Ballot – which at the time, represented 62.3 percent of the Welsh electorate (24 percent higher than the average across Britain as a whole).

As of 6th June 1935, the top twelve constituencies in Great Britain with the highest percentage turnout were all in Wales, in some of which over eighty percent of the total electorate responded to the ballot (RH).

In a few cases, turnout was particularly spectacular. In Llanerfyl (Montgomeryshire), for instance, all 304 of its adult inhabitants responded to the poll, likely a testament to the zeal of local activists.

Turnout was in fact much higher in villages than in large towns across the board, and despite hosting the headquarters of the Welsh League of Nations Union, Cardiff produced some of the lowest turnouts of the poll.

We can interpret this as evidence that the success of the Ballot in Wales rested not just in the League’s popularity, but in the strength of Welsh community activism. It is highly likely that organisers in villages such as Llanerfyl (Montgomery) and Nantlle (Gwynedd) were able to achieve a 100 percent response rate because they operated in a tight-knit community, allowing them to rally support face-to-face, one neighbour at a time, in a way which proved more difficult in larger cities.

It is worth noting, however, that despite the strategy of going door-to-door in their local communities, activists were still able to obtain phenomenal results from many larger towns. In Port Talbot, for example, 82.8 percent of the town’s 27,000 adults voted.

Viewed in this light, the results of the Ballot are a testament to the strength and scale of the local networks upon which the Welsh League of Nations relied upon for support.

The way in which Welsh people voted also reflects the strength of their commitment to internationalism. In fact, just 1.7 percent of voters in Wales wanted to leave the League – around half the national average – while Welsh voters were consistently more often in favour of disarmament.

Wales had proved itself a ‘special case’. As historians such as Helen McCarthy have noted, the League of Nations Union was the largest ‘League themed’ society of any in Europe and easily enjoyed the most popular support. It is not unreasonable then, in light of the disparity between Wales and the rest of Britain in Ballot responses, to conclude that…

“in 1935 the Welsh ‘were the most ardently internationalist nation in Europe’.”

Digitised Wales Peace Ballot Records

This collection draws together leaflets, voting forms, campaigner bulletins, articles and analysis by the Welsh League of Nations Union for the 1935 Peace Ballot - a national canvass of public opinion on Peace in the context of the then-escalating European Arms Race. Although the Peace Ballot was an initiative by the UK League of Nations Union, Wales set out explicitly to 'lead the way' and 'top the polls,' to demonstrate the strength of feeling in favour of peace, 16 years after the end of WW1.

The bulletins gave a detailed breakdown of progress on the Ballot, returns from each county of Wales (with comparisons to England), and analysis / encouragement from key figures in Wales' Peace movements. The bulletins carried motivational 'Opinion Pieces' from leaders of Wales Peace movements, such as Gwilym Davies and David Davies; and in depth analysis of the returns received from constituencies all over Wales

Later bulletins and introduction of 'YMLAEN / ONWARD' newsletter, explore implications of the results for Wales' peace building movements, and impact upon domestic and international political affairs - in particular, the meeting of the 1936 League of Nations in Geneva, which was regarded as a failure on the part of national governments. A poster graphic illustrates the UK-wide results, and Wales' leading place within the polls - with 5 of the top 10 constituency returns being Anglesey, Aberdare, Swansea East, Rhondda West and Merthyr Tydfil.
1935 Peace Ballot – Briefing for Households 1935 Peace Ballot – Canvassers’ Briefing ‘Peace Calls for Plain Answers to Simple Questions’ – 1935 Media Article Bulletin 2, Jan 22 1935 Bulletin 3, Feb 6 1935
Bulletin 4, Mar 9 1935 Bulletin 5, Apr 9 1935 Bulletin 6, June 7 1935 Bulletin 7, Oct 1935: ONWARD YMLAEN / ONWARD Bulletin, May 1936

Outcomes for Britain

The will of the people was unequivocal – Wales and Britain wanted to remain in international circles – what this meant, however, remained open to interpretation.

The organisers of the Ballot presented the result to the prime minister and his cabinet, but it quickly became clear that, due to the binary nature of responses, that the format of the Ballot was a poor vehicle for dictating policy.

‘Remain may have meant remain’, and ‘disarm may have meant disarm’… but the Ballot gave no sense of the scale or manner of which these aims should be pursued.

This left little room for nuance, and instead general opinion was measured without details of its practical implementation. The failure of Ballot organisers to frame the poll’s questions within the myriad complexities of Britain’s international position, made integration of the Ballot’s result into policy making both confusing and impractical – and so the consequences of the Ballot in Britain’s foreign policy are hard to identify.

The Ballot may have failed to significantly influence policy, but the strength of the poll lay in its ability to measure popular opinion. It demonstrated that an overwhelming majority of the population supported Britain’s active involvement in the League of Nations, even if there was no uniform vision of what that involvement should look like.

Across Britain, League of Nations Union branches enjoyed a surge in membership and enthusiasm for the League which, despite the Abyssinia Crisis and the aggression of Hitler, was maintained right up until the outbreak of the Second World War.

UK wide returns against the 5 questions posed by the Peace Ballot.

 

Outcomes for Wales

WLNU Organiser Rev Gwilym Davies

The Welsh League of Nations Union had a very clear idea of what the result should mean for Wales. For Gwilym Davies (Organiser of the WLNU) the result of the Ballot was ‘the vindication of the democratic right of a free people’ and a demonstration of the ‘notable achievements’ of Wales in the cause for world peace.

In a bulletin on the subject of ‘facing the future’, Davies called for the ‘Welsh million’ to be converted into one hundred thousand new members across Wales. While this roughly eight-fold increase failed to materialise itself,

the WLoNU organisation more than doubled in size, reaching 27,545 paid members by 1937 – the highest at any point in the interwar period.

For Wales, Gwilym Davies published a Constituency by Constituency Analysis of the 1935 Peace Ballot voting returns – which can be viewed on People’s Collection Wales at: www.peoplescollection.wales/items/1247091

Clearly then, far from being a fleeting spike of interest, the Peace Ballot was the source of revitalisation of Wales’ identity as an international nation.

Furthermore, the setbacks suffered by the League of Nations in the mid and late 1930s – instead of leading to disenchantment – only made people in Wales more determined that the principles they had committed to in the Peace Ballot should be upheld. This wave of enthusiasm for peace through internationalism was carried right through to the outbreak of war in 1939 and beyond, later providing the support structures and the much of the personnel for the creation of the United Nations.

One such example is Gwilym Davies himself, Director and co-founder of the WLNU, who not only became president of the Welsh National Council of the United Nations Association, but is considered to be a key architect in the creation of world education & scientific body UNESCO.

Temple of Peace: Headquarters befitting a ‘Booming’ Movement

One of the most striking and longstanding results of the Peace Ballot in Wales is the Temple of Peace and Health, which was opened in Cardiff in 1938.

Envisioned by Lord Davies as ‘a memorial to those gallant men from all nations who gave their lives in the war that was to end war’, construction of the building was started in 1937 at a time when the organisation was rapidly expanding.

'A New Mecca'

Account from the Opening Ceremony, ‘A New Mecca’, from the Temple of Peace Archives

It was felt that, in light of the precarious international situation, it was more important than ever for Welsh internationalism to have a headquarters which suitably reflected its growing influence. Thus rose the Temple – a bastion of peace, intended to make good the sacrifice of those who fell in the ‘war that was to end war’.

Today the Temple of Peace still stands – an enduring legacy of the Ballot’s success. The organisations it now houses continue to work in the spirit of the Ballot’s organisers, inheriting the desire that Wales should be at the centre of the international community.

The WCIA – Welsh Centre for International Affairs, founded in 1973, is the modern iteration (the ‘grand daughter’, via UNA Wales) of the Welsh League of Nations Union. WCIA continue the work and vision of WLNU, and the million Welsh people who voted in the 1935 Peace Ballot, to build a better, more peaceful world.

WCIA, like their predecessors, believe that Wales is a nation which can create real and lasting change in the wider world. It is for this proud tradition – driven by the dedication and commitment of local people across Wales – that the galvanising effects of the Peace Ballot should be remembered today.

Blog article and research by WCIA Research Intern Rob Laker, on placement with Wales for Peace from Swansea University History Dept over Summer 2019 with ongoing research through 2020. Drawing on materials from the National Library of Wales and Temple of Peace Archives; and Annual Reports of the Welsh League of Nations Union 1922-45 on People’s Collection Wales, digitised by WCIA (with support of Swansea doctoral student Stuart Booker) for open access research. Final edit by Craig Owen, Wales for Peace.

Rob Laker, WCIA Archives Intern




Global Perspectives on COVID Pandemic: Solidarity, Community and Cooperation

Published on 25th March, in a fast changing international situation.

As the COVID Pandemic of 2020 has reached ‘lockdown’ for the UK and many other nations, the need for our communities – and community of nations – to work together has never been greater. Wales and the World are inextricably linked through global health: pandemics know no borders – and information is international. In an age of social media we are intertwined, and interdependent; we are Humankind.
Kindness, compassion and clarity will help us to face this world crisis, and support the most vulnerable, through cooperation and humanity – from the local to the global. Over coming weeks, WCIA will be sharing (via WCIA’s website, Twitter and Facebook feeds) ‘stories of solidarity’, links to reliable information / updates, and examples of inspiring civil society, individuals and community leadership from around the world.

View WCIA’s ‘Global Perspectives’ Blogs

 

Wales amidst a Global Health Crisis

Wales and Welsh communities must do all we can within a crisis of global proportions – and requiring global solutions. Summarised below are quick links to key sources of information and updates from around the world; ways that people can take action in local to global solidarity; learning from our heritage; and stories of solidarity from individuals around the world.

Quick References and Information Sources

UK & Welsh Government, NHS and Voluntary Sector

Global Health Bodies & Cooperation

Reference Resources and Useful Articles

temple of peaceWCIA and the Temple of Peace & Health

As with all venues and workplaces, the Temple of Peace is closed throughout the shutdown period and WCIA staff have been working from home since Monday 16th March (though as with many in this challenging time, our capacity is limited).

  • Venue bookings, and all WCIA events, have been postponed until the COVID situation becomes safer.
  • WCIA are sharing Stories of Solidarity (see below) from around the world; and useful resources (such as home learning and means to take action) via WCIA’s Twitter and Facebook social media feeds.
  • WCIA are supporting international volunteers on placements through UNA Exchange to self-isolate if in UK, and to find passages to their home countries where possible / appropriate.
  • Hub Cymru Africa and the Wales Africa Health Links Network are offering guidance to local linking organisations and charities supporting or whose work is affected by COVID.

Internationalism in Action: Taking a Global Stand

How are internationally-minded individuals in Wales able to contribute to understanding and combating the COVID crisis in any way… on top of looking after themselves and their loved ones in a lockdown? WCIA will be gathering and sharing actions and ideas of people Wales and world-wide via our social media channels, and here:

Community Action

Gemma from Hong Kong shares her experiences of COVID in WCIA’s Global Perspectives blog.

Global Learning

Global Action

Global Partnerships

Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity

Campaigner Glenda Fryer with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose leadership has been praised worldwide, shared her feelings as Kiwis entered a month long lock-down.

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

Personal ‘Stories of Solidarity’ from across the world, mapped.

Learning from the Past: Heritage of Cooperation

Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire – Canadian War Graves from 1918-19 Spanish Flu Epidemic (Geograph)

Not since the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic of 1918-1920, has the world experienced something of the scale the world is facing today in COVID19. Affecting as many lives globally as World War 1 itself, “Spanish flu” (so called, ironically, as Spain was the only WW1 nation that allowed uncensored reporting on it to save lives), ended up infecting 500 million – of whom 17-100 million died, making it the world’s worst epidemic since the ‘Black Death’ Plague of 1331-1353. In Wales, between 8,700 and 11,400 people are thought to have died.

Alongside Tuberculosis, the combined impact of World War One and Spanish Flu inspired the creation of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health – home to WCIA today, and opened in 1938 as a beacon for the nation’s efforts to end the scourge of tuberculosis, and secure sustainable peace through global cooperation – initally through the work of the WNMA (Wales National Memorial Association for Eradication of Tuberculosis) and WLNU (Welsh League of Nations Union).

After World War 2, these movements evolved to support creation of the NHS (National Health Service) and the United Nations – two of humanity’s greatest achievements in facilitating cooperation for the common good. In the words of the Temple’s founder, David Davies:

“A ‘Temple of Peace’ is not of bricks and mortar: It is the spirit of man. It is the compact between every man, woman and child, to build a better world.”  

Has a generation taken our grandparents’ inheritance for granted? Over recent decades, support for and resourcing of these ‘institutions of humankind’ has fallen, health services and social care have suffered strident Austerity cuts, and many nations – the UK and US in particular – have turned inwards and away from the very bodies that enable international cooperation in times of crisis.

The COVID Pandemic will seriously test – and potentially reverse – many of these policy approaches. Working in global cooperation and solidarity with others, we will owe it to a generation who lose their lives, to come through this crisis to build a better world.

 

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford addresses the nation on 23 March.  




Home learning resources – Human Rights

From lockdown, our fabulous volunteer Janna König is researching and sharing some home learning tips and resources on global issues

Primary School

Would you like to learn about Children’s Rights?

  • Here you can see how other people explain Children’s Rights.
  • Are you interested in how people live around the world, and what their dreams are? Have a look at Dollar Street to find stories about many people living on this planet.
  • Try to find similarities between your home and the home of someone out there, with an adult and share your findings around you. Ask a friend to do the same and compare your findings on the phone or video call or by writing him or her a letter.
  • Create some artwork (drawing, story with images, poem, or any ideas you have) to show your view on Human Rights and what they mean to you.

Secondary school and College

There are some free online courses on several Human Right topics. Maybe take a course along with a friend or someone from your home would want to do it as well? No need to be in the same house or even country!

As you learn, think about what you can do with your new knowledge – from learning more and sharing your knowledge to doing a project or bringing awareness to your school or college.

These courses are made for three to seven weeks with one to six hours a week.

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt




Wales Uniting Nations: Building a Better World after World War 2

On 8 May 2020, Wales and the world mark #VE75, the 75th Anniversary of VE Day – the end of World War Two in Europe. Over 15,000 Welsh men and women lost their lives in WW2, out of an estimated 75 million globally; and the horrors of the Holocaust and of Hiroshima have defined generations to this day. But out of the ashes of WW2 emerged the United Nations, and many of the institutions of global cooperation that, in the 75 years since, have prevented another world war to date – despite nuclear proliferation, the Cold War and many conflicts that could have escalated even further without the machinery of human cooperation. Beyond the Bunting and Lindy Hop dances, Remembrance on VE Day should give pause to appreciate perhaps the greatest gift of the WW2 generation: the United Nations.

However, a little known aspect – one of Wales’ ‘hidden histories’ – is just how involved Welsh men and women became in shaping the ‘new world order’ after World War Two. Whilst WCIA hope to uncover more over 2020-23 as we mark UN75 – the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, here we share just a few of their stories.

Building on the League of Nations

During the interwar years between WW1 and WW2, Wales’ peace building movement had become woven into the fabric of Welsh society; over 800 communities had local branches of the Welsh League of Nations Union, with many thousands of campaigners Wales-wide actively advocating for internationalism through annual Daffodil Days, the 1935 ‘Peace Ballot’, and culminating in the opening in 1938 of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health by founder Lord David Davies alongside WW1-bereaved mothers. The Temple had been intended as a headquarters ‘befitting to international cooperation’ – and yet, within months of its opening, the world’s deadliest war had consumed a generation and swept aside all international order. Had the efforts of Wales’ post-WW1 peacemakers all been in vain?

David Davies at the opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace, Nov 1938.

Lord David Davies, founder of the Temple of Peace, League of Nations Union and of the world’s first Department of International Politics (at Aberystwyth University) tragically did not live to see the post-WW2 peace he had spent his whole life working for; he passed in June 1944, months before his son and heir Michael Davies was also killed in action leading the liberation of Eindhoven, Holland. Lord Davies had spent his last years writing propitiously on possibilities for a post-war international order, a ‘United Nations’ machinery with an ‘international police force’, an ‘equity tribunal’ (international court, furthering human rights) and supporters’ associations mobilising the peoples of every land.

However, the widespread internationalism garnered Wales-wide over 20 years by the Welsh League of Nations Union, had fostered a whole ‘new generation of Welsh internationalists’ who would shape the post-WW2 landscape of peace building and global cooperation. A perhaps disproportionate cohort were among the founders and leaders of many of the international agencies that came into being following WW2, as people sought to build a better world – and to learn the lessons of the failed post-WW1 peace process that had created the conditions for World War 2 in the first place.

“Those who want peace, it is said, prepare for war. Those who are already at war, prepare for peace. So, before the second world war was even halfway through, debate began about the new organisation which was to be established at its end.”

Evan Luard, History of the United Nations

The First United Nations

Jan 1 1942: Signing in Washington of the Atlantic Charter, the ‘Declaration of United Nations’ (Wikipedia Commons)

Proposals for a United
Nations
had been
floated from 1941 among the WW2 Allied Powers – UK, USA, Soviet Union and China
– with the name itself promoted by President Roosevelt of the US on 1 Jan 1942.

The task
of pulling together a Secretariat for a fledgling United Nations was delegated
to Gladwyn Jebb of the Foreign Office – who
became the UN’s First Secretary General – supported by Welsh Economist David Owen, Assistant to the Lord Privy
Seal (Sir Stafford Cripps).

David Owen, founder of UN Secretariat and UN Development Programme

“I was Jebb’s deputy,” Sir David recounted. “He turned to me and announced: I’ll handle the high diplomacy; you take on the rest. Find an office and a secretary and get this thing started.” ‘This thing’ was a world organization formed by 51 war time allies without a staff or money – and only a promise that it could make London its temporary home.

David rushed back to London to borrow a typewriter from the Foreign Office and a secretary from the War Office. “Together in a taxi we leaded for Church House in Westminster, and knocked on the door. The old custodian peered at us across barricade of sandbags and demanded to know who we were.

“‘We are the United Nations,’ I remember answering. And that was the beginning.”

David financed the early days of United Nations operations with a £30 loan from his London bank account. “We lived on that £30 for almost two weeks in 1945.”

New York Times Obituary of David Owen, June 1970

David Owen went on to found the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

1st UN General Assembly Welcome Programme from Temple of Peace Archives

The First UN General Assembly (UNGA)

The first
United Nations General Assembly
(UNGA)
was held
in the Methodist Central Hall, London from 10 January 1946, bringing together
representatives of 51 nations.

A ‘British Welcome’ staged at the Royal Albert Hall had a distinctly Welsh flavour. The programme was fronted by the Choir of Wales’ Temple of Peace, performing 6 songs in total – including ‘Nos Galon’ and ‘Men of Harlech’.

1945 Leaflet for the Temple of Peace Choir

Megan Lloyd George, Wales 1st female Member of Parliament

The keynote address was delivered by Lady Megan Lloyd George, daughter of the WW1 Prime Minister and Wales’ first female Member of Parliament, for Anglesey (and later Carmarthen).

The event closed with 51 nations singing “These Things Shall Be” by composer John Hughes.

The first UNGA lasted 5 weeks in total, and at its conclusion on February 14 1946 had established the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, UN Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, and elected Trygve Lie, Foreign Secretary of Norway, as the UN’s first elected Secretary General.

Creating a ‘World Education Organisation’: the origins of UNESCO

Gwilym Davies, League of Nations / UNA Wales’ 1st President, and one of the founders of UNESCO

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”

Jacob Jones, Chairman of WEAC, 1929 – now the opening lines of the UNESCO Constitution, and quoted by (and often attributed to) UK Prime Minister Sir Clement Attlee at the founding of UNESCO in 1946.

Gwilym Davies, Honorary Director of the Welsh League of Nations Union from 1922 (and UNA Wales’ 1st President, from 1945) had long advocated Welsh efforts in the field of world education. 32 leading Welsh educationalists, alongside teachers Wales-wide, had set up the ‘Wales Education Advisory Committee’ (WEAC) from 1922 to develop ‘the world’s first global citizenship curriculum’ – supported by the Davies sisters of Gregynog Hall, and leading thinkers of the day such as Gilbert Murray, who headed the UK League of Nations movement.

From 1930, the Central Welsh Board (CWB – now the WJEC) became the first Education Authority in the world to integrate the principles of the League of Nations into teaching in schools – a move which projected Wales to international recognition, and led to ‘the Welsh model’ being held up and adopted by educationalists worldwide eager to instil a culture of engaged and informed internationalism among their societies. WLNU established a Women’s Advisory Committee, chaired by Annie Hughes Griffiths – who had led the 1923 Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to America – to involve Welsh women in promoting peace education Wales and world-wide.

Annie Hughes Griffiths

In January 1941, Prof Murray chaired a conference at Oxford to which he invited Gwilym Davies to present a paper, drawing on the interwar experiences of the WEAC, advocating the idea of establishing a post-war international organisation for education. This paper was to have a profound impact on shaping the thinking of the British – and Allied – governments, and in 1943 the London International Assembly and newly established CEWC (Council for Education in World Citizenship) delegated two tasks to Wales:

  1. To conduct a survey / study of global intellectual cooperation between the wars
  2. To draft a model constitution for an international organisation for education

Gwilym Davies’ proposals informed discussions across the Atlantic among the movements that led directly to the creation of UNESCO – the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The first UNESCO conference was held in Paris in November-December 1946. Attending proceedings, Gwilym Davies reported back to Wales:

Ben Bowen Thomas, Chair of UNESCO

“(UNESCO)… was unlike any other conference I have attended, with writers, thinkers, educationalists and scientists present from 24 countries. They are the true creators of public opinion.”

Gwilym Davies

Gwilym Davies was nominated to the Board of UNESCO; his Vice-President within the newly established CEWC Cymru (Council for Education in World Citizenship, founded Jan 1944) was Ben Bowen Thomas from Treorchy in the Rhondda. Later Sir Ben, he became active with UNESCO from 1946-1962, and Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board in Paris from 1958.

‘We, the Peoples’: the United Nations Association

Between the wars, the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU) had been one of Wales’ biggest membership organisations, with over 30,000 peace campaigners active in 1,000 communities. Although membership had fallen – and activities suspended with the onset of WW2 – a network of groups and advocates remained. WLNU Annual Reports produced between 1939 and 1946 offer an insight into work undertaken in the background of war. 

The WLNU reconvened following WW2 for their final Annual Conference at the Temple of Peace on October 27 1945. They proposed to ‘ring out the old, ring in the new’ in immediately becoming the United Nations Association (Wales), or UNA Welsh National Council.

UN Charter Commemorative Stamp – Wikimedia Commons

UNA Wales’ first Executive Committee met in Shrewsbury on Feb 1 1946, and produced their first Annual Report covering the whole 1943-1946 transition period. The first UNA Wales Conference and AGM was held at the Guildhall, Wrexham on May 31 1948. In August 1946, Gwilym Davies assisted in organisation of the first World Federation of United Nations Associations in Luxembourg, establishing 5 commissions and a UN grassroots movement: “We, the Peoples…” – echoing the opening words of the United Nations Charter.

UNA Wales produced their first post-war ‘Bulletin’ (above) in 1949 – emerging from 4 years of continued rationing and paper shortages – which casts light on the challenges of re-establishing a campaigning network, and of the activities of local branches.

Sept 1945 Cover of UNA’s ‘Headway’ magazine

UNA Wales became Wales’ leading network of community groups campaigning on internationalism, human rights, security and global development through the 1950s and 1960s; and continued as a national body until the decision was taken in 2014, alongside CEWC Cymru, to pool resources and merge into WCIA – the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. UNA Cardiff and UNA Menai branches continue to organise local activities in 2020, and many branches have a rich history of local activism.  

International Youth Volunteering and post-WW2 Reconstruction

Robert Davies and friends digging a soakaway in Austria, 1960.

The demands of post-WW2 reconstruction both in Britain and across Europe, and the desire to mobilise young people in healing the wounds of war by fostering understanding through relationships with other communities and cultures, led UNA UK and UNA Wales to link with the ‘World Forum of Youth’ out of which gradually emerged the UNA International Youth Service (IYS) movement.

By the mid-1950s, substantial parts of Europe’s population remained displaced, refugees often within their own countries. Through IYS, youth volunteers from Wales and all over the UK participated in work camps supporting the construction of housing and community facilities, from Austria to Greece. One of those volunteers in the 1950-60s was Robert Davies from Port Talbot, who lived through the Cardiff Blitz during WW2 while his parents worked in the steelworks.

Robert’s experience of participating in an international workcamp in Austria inspired him to become a lifelong champion of youth volunteering between Wales and the world. He sett up VCS (the Cardiff Volunteer Service bureau) in 1965, and then UNA Exchange in 1973 – which continues to operate today from the Temple of Peace, as an integral part of the WCIA’s work, aiming to inspire a new generation of internationalists with the challenges of global cooperation today.

UNA Exchange International Volunteers enjoying a 2015 youth workcamp at the Temple of Peace, renovating Wales’ National Garden of Peace.




Remembering for Peace: The Story of Wales’ WW2 Book of Remembrance

WCIA’s home, the Temple of Peace and Health, was founded as Wales’ memorial to the fallen of the Great War – 35,000 souls commemorated in the WW1 Book of Remembrance , held in the Crypt of the Temple (and searchable online). But few people know that there is also a WW2 Book of Remembrance – held for safe keeping within the archive collections of the National Museum of Wales. Ahead of VE Day 75, Craig Owen uncovers the story of Wales’ WW2 Book of Remembrance.

On Friday 8th May 2020, Wales, the UK and much of the world will pause to reflect on one of the greatest tragedies of the past century, as we mark the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War 2 in Europe on 8th May 1945 – ‘Victory in Europe’ Day, or VE Day 75. Over 15,000 Welsh men and women lost their lives in WW2, out of an estimated 75 million globally; and the horrors of the Holocaust and of Hiroshima, as a terrifying ‘nuclear age’ dawned, would define generations to this day.

The Temple of Peace in WW2

Poignantly, Wales’ Temple of Peace – the nation’s memorial to the fallen of WW1 – had opened in November 1938, just months before the onset of hostilities. Intended by founder David Davies to mobilise a generation against the ‘scourge of war’ through campaigns of the Welsh League of Nations Union, with the outbreak of war the building became mothballed – yet a place of pilgrimage; a beacon of hope for a better world that might emerge on the other side. Whilst war raged, peacebuilders in Wales and further afield weighed up ideas for an international order that might provide the architecture to Unite Nations. Their post-war creation would be the United Nations.

Those who had lost loved ones in WW1 – including wives, children, ‘mothers of peace’ – flocked to the Temple to visit Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance, the rollcall of the fallen held in the Crypt beneath the building. Visitors books, held in the Temple Archives to this day, record train loads of pilgrims from communities Wales-wide participating in services that ended with a ‘pledge for Peace’.

The Temple also hosted special events such as a 1943 Thanksgiving Service for American Services personnel stationed in Wales.

Rediscovering the WW2 Book

Cover of the WW2 Book

Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance, and the ‘Peace Heritage’ work of the Temple of Peace with community groups Wales-wide, have been central to WW100 Centenary activities over 2014-19, uncovering the story of the Book, and some of the stories behind the names within. Conversely however, the WW2 Book of Remembrance has become a relatively ‘hidden history’; it has not been been publicly accessible for some years, and no ‘digital footprint’ or public information has been available online to date.

Documents in the Temple of Peace Archives contain tantalising references to the WW2 Book – in particular, architects drawings and reports from c 1990 proposals to redesign the Temple’s ‘Hall of Nations’ to accommodate the WW1 and WW2 Books side by side. Visitors to WCIA’s regular Temple Tours and Open Doors days, participating in the traditional 11am ‘turning of the page’, often asked WCIA’s staff and volunteers about the WW2 Book of Remembrance. However, the WW2 book itself can presently only be viewed by appointment – though there have been suggestions over the years that the Books could be digitised, reunited and / or displayed together.

With the 75th Anniversary of VE Day and other WW2 anniversaries approaching, it seemed fitting to explore the story of the WW2 Book of Remembrance, in the hope that, like the WW1 Book, it will inspire others to uncover the ‘stories behind the names’ – or possibly stimulate interest in making the Book accessible online. In January 2019 – shortly before the COVID lockdown curtailed further work – WCIA Peace Heritage Coordinator Craig Owen visited the National Museum of Wales Collections, to view the WW2 Book of Remembrance and find out more about its story.

Creation of the WW2 Book of Remembrance

Inscription within the WW2 Book

The proposal for a WW2 Book of Remembrance, modelled upon the WW1 Book housed in Wales’ Temple of Peace, emerged in the 1950s. Perhaps surprisingly, it took until 20 years later – 1965 – for the WW2 Book to finally reach completion and accession; not to the Temple of Peace (created to house the WW1 Book), but to the National Museum of Wales.

World War 2 had claimed yet another generation of Welsh men and women, among them Lord David Davies (1880-1944), founder of Wales’ Temple of Peace, who had tragically died of Cancer months before the end of the war. His son and heir Michael was killed in action during the liberation of Eindhoven, Holland; and thus the Temple lost two of its greatest champions. Following the cessation of hostilities, the Welsh League of Nations Union morphed into the United Nations Association and efforts quickly focused upon mobilising Welsh public support for the newly created United Nations, and the challenges of reconstruction – building a new world.

The fallen of WW2 became added to community War Memorials Wales-wide; but the desire to produce a dedicated national memorial and rollcall of Wales’ fallen remained. A Welsh National Book of Remembrance Committee was founded and met between 1957 and 1967 – their correspondence and accounts (1958-1979) are held at Glamorgan Archives. The committee was wound up in 1979, following transfer of the residual accounts in 1977 to a Welsh National Book of Remembrance Fund (for need, hardship or distress of WW2 survivors / descendants), which was wound up in 2005.

The book was inscribed by C Cullen, and bound by W T Morrell. Although it followed a similar style and look to the WW1 Book – and followed a similar regimental order – the information held within it is markedly different – for example, it does not record the towns / villages from which the fallen came.

There seems to have been an ongoing debate over the location for the WW2 Book; the express condition of the committee was that it should be viewable “in a public place.” It would seem that, during the mid-1960s, there was some doubt over the suitability of the Temple of Peace: letters and newspaper articles from the time suggest a perceived decline in the condition of the building, and public access to the spaces. Clearly, the Temple at this point in time fell out of favour with the WW2 committee.

On 12 March 1965, the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff was formally chosen by the Committee as the resting place for the rollcall of the fallen of WW2. NMW formally accepted this ‘national responsibility’ on 14 May 1965.

Unveiling and Public Display of the Book

A public competition to design a display for the WW2 Book of Remembrance was won by Swansea Architect Ceri Jones in 1965. In June 1966 a formal unveiling ceremony was headed by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who pronounced:

“I present to you for safekeeping within the National Museum of Wales, the Welsh National Book of Remembrance for the Second World War.”

To which the Marquess of Anglesey , on behalf of the Trustees of the NMW, responded:

“I do willingly and proudly receive it for safekeeping in the National Museum of Wales.”      

An account of the unveiling ceremony is featured in the National Museum of Wales Annual Report for 1967-68.

The WW2 Book – with its memorial display designed by Ceri Jones – was publicly displayed at NMW from 1966 to 1998; after which there were ‘one off’ showings in 2001 and 2004. As museums entered the ‘digital age’ of the new millennium, online articles featured it as the ‘Book of Month’ in 2001,2 and 3.

Bringing the Books Back Together?

Architects Drawings for the Temple of Peace WW2 and WW1 Book Displays in the Hall of Nations.

Have the WW1 and WW2 Books of Remembrance ever been brought together? At present, we do not know.

The Temple Archives hold some fascinating records from discussions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it appears discussions on displaying the WW1 and WW2 Books side by side became sufficiently advanced to have commissioned the original Architects of the Temple of Peace – Percy Thomas Partnership – to design a new home for the books:

The designs and reports would have seen both Books moved from their current locations – the Crypt of the Temple, and the Archives of the National Museum – into bespoke marble and bronze display cabinets in the ‘Hall of Nations’, the heart of Wales’ Temple of Peace. It would seem logical that these proposals may have emerged following the 50th Anniversary of the Temple of Peace, which generated considerable public profile and by which point the Welsh Centre for International Affairs had become well established.

These plans did not ultimately go ahead, for reasons lost to time. And so it would seem that, as yet, the ambition to unite Wales’ Books of Remembrance from two World Wars has yet to be realised. Although moves to progress discussions around display and digital access have been thwarted in 2020 by the COVID lockdown, it is hoped that in years to come the WCIA and National Museum of Wales might work together to once again enable Wales’ rollcall of the fallen from WW2 to be accessed for future generations – to Remember for Peace, the fallen of WW2.

1995 Design for WW1 and WW2 display cabinets in the Hall of Nations, Temple of Peace. WCIA Archives.




Najlaa, humanitarian worker in Jordan – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Najlaa who has worked in the humanitarian sector for years to support the unparalleled numbers of Iranian, Palestinian and most recently Syrian refugees who have sought refuge within the Kingdom of Jordan.

Here is Najlaa’s story:

“On the 17th March this year, the government of Jordan declared a state of national emergency through the activation of national defense laws, which was followed on the 20th of March by the setting of a country wide curfew.

Picture by Thomas Siems

“The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have reached absolutely everyone in Jordan, from local communities to the large Palestinian and Syrian refugee populations living in various camps such as Azraq and Zaatari.  The guidance from the government is similar to that in Europe and the result is closure of all but the most essential services, the banning of mass gatherings, in particular all religious services under the guidance of the both the Fatwa Council and the Council of Churches as a preventive measure.

A significant rise in issues such domestic violence, GBV and depression is a huge cause for concern”

“For everyone, staying at home 24/7 is challenging and frustrating, however here a significant rise in issues such domestic violence, GBV and depression is a huge cause for concern and is exacerbated by the widespread lack of essential supplies:  “Those who can, are looking after themselves,” said Ahmad, who fled from the Syrian city of Hama and now lives in Mafraq. “For the many that don’t have enough food, there is very little that can be done.” He added his own household had enough bread for three days, no vegetables but enough sundries to last a month.

“At this point there are no confirmed cases from any of the refugee camps (Azraq, Zaatari, EJC), however the camp populations have undoubtedly been affected by the as a significant number of humanitarian workers have been unable to access the settings since the pandemic was announced, which has resulted in a range of essential activities and services such as protection, GBV, SRHR and education being stopped indefinitely.

“For the many that don’t have enough food, there is very little that can be done”

“To their credit certain organisation are attempting to adapt methodology in order to implement activities remotely, however as these are strictly controlled by the authorities the effects are limited.”




Hope, humanitarian expert in Kenya – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Hope, a humanitarian  monitoring and evaluation expert who has worked in some of the most difficult countries in Africa on a range of emergency responses. She is currently in Kenya.

As of April 1st, there are a total of 50 confirmed new cases and 1 death reported from Kenya.

This is Hope’s story:

“As in other parts of Africa, Covid-19 is having a huge impact on the lives of Kenyan people.  As the 29th most populated country in the world with a population of 47.6 million people, the potential for the virus to spread is daunting.  Bordered by Somalia, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, Kenya’s 580,000 square kilometres are divided into 48 semi-autonomous self-governing regions, all of which are dealing with the outbreak in differing ways.

“The main issues so far are a lack of credible information/guidance, and a large huge deficit of essential supplies such as soap and hand sanitizer that are critical to minimise the spread within large rural areas of the country.

“The potential for the virus to spread is daunting”

“Not surprisingly, on the 20th of March the Kenyan Ministry of Health identified community mitumba, vegetable and bazaar markets as potential vectors for the disease.  The advice was for country governments to ensure all such venues were ‘cleaned up and provided with soap and water’, however at this point little has action has been taken other than token efforts to disinfect certain areas which appear designed to appease, rather than stop the spread of Covid-19.

“A recent article in the newspaper ‘Nation’ showcased Ms Monica Mugure, a mitumba seller who said her revenue had gone down drastically. In the article, she said:

‘Usually, by such noon, I would have broken even, but now I barely get half the amount, but we have to persevere because we depend on what we earn here to cater for our daily needs. We must work in order to eat.  I can’t begin to think of a situation where I am forced to close the business because I have many expenses, such as fending for my family, and paying rent and school fees for my children. If we close, I don’t know what will happen, unless the government provides us with food’.

“We depend on what we earn here to cater for our daily needs. We must work in order to eat”

“As the situation worsens, those who are able have begun practising social distancing, however it is almost impossible to self-isolate given that there is so far no financial assistance package for individuals or businesses from the Kenyan government.”

 

 

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – centre@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?  



Simon, humanitarian worker in Myanamr – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

Click here to view our Global Perspectives map 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Simonhumanitarian worker who has chosen to remain in country during the pandemic.

Here’s his story:

Water festival Thingyan, Yangon, Myanmar Pic by juls78

“Generally, life has not yet changed dramatically in Myanmar.  As of March 31st, there are 10 official confirmed cases of Covid-19. The government are issuing advice regarding mass gatherings, however among the general public there seems to be a collective delusion over the virus: I have heard a number of widely believed theories as to why the Myanmar believe they are “immune” and how the climate renders the disease defunct – none of these are based on fact and are causing the public to generally ignore warnings.

“There seems to be a collective delusion over the virus”

 

The Buddhist national holiday of ‘Thingyan’  a Water festival (pictured right) which would normally see hundreds of thousands of citizens lining the streets in April has in theory been cancelled, however it is widely accepted that there is no will or way to enforce the decision and this is the greatest concern for a widespread outbreak.

“We have stocked the office with roughly 2-months’ worth of food and water, as we prepare for the worst-case scenario”

“Supply chains here as always are difficult at best, but we have stocked the office with roughly 2-months’ worth of food and water, as we prepare for the worst-case scenario where an outbreak will inevitably lead to a military enforced curfew and potential violence against international workers whom the government are blaming for the virus.

“The window for evacuating is closing fast, and even when flights are available it is almost impossible to prove to airlines that you are clear which leaves many of us with little choice but to ride this out as best we can and hope for the best.”

 




Clara, Australia – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Clara who lives in Australia as a personal trainer and runs her own fitness company.

Clara says:

“Last December and January this year, brought swathes of fires that destroyed 800,000 hectares of native habitat and more than a billion animals, with smoke that was so thick it made Canberra the most polluted city on earth. February saw hail stones the size of golf balls wrecking cars and homes, and now along with the rest of the world – Australia is stricken with coronavirus.

“I can’t speak for all Australians but the effects of the coronavirus so far, for myself, have been both grounding and profoundly unsettling. Grounding because, as a self-professed workaholic, the virus has carved out a little desperately needed peace amongst the hustle.

“How long will this last? What is the new normal ?”

“Unsettling because, aside from painfully bringing to light the inequities in Australian society (remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities will be among the hardest hit when the health care system inevitably becomes stretched to breaking point), the virus has left us all in a state of existential limbo – what is around the corner? How long will this last? What is the ‘new normal’?”

“At this early stage of the pandemic, Australians are facing the same day to day hardships as the rest of the ‘developed’ world: shops that are out of basic essentials like toilet paper, soap and hand sanitiser; figuring out how to balance working from home, with the stress of keeping young children occupied and educated; finding ways to stay connected with extended family and community as we strive to socially distance ourselves.

“We are not on full lock down yet but expect it any day”

“We are, about a week behind the UK, both in terms of the spread of the disease (at the moment the Australian Capital Territory only has 71 confirmed cases), and in terms of the messages we are receiving about how to protect ourselves. We are not on full lock down yet but expect it any day.

“We can still go to the supermarket to get groceries (in fact this is the only way to get groceries as all home deliveries have been cancelled), and we are still encouraged to exercise outdoors and can congregate in groups of no more than 10.

Personally, I’m trying to balance an appreciation of this brand new quiet in my life”

“This morning some friends and I stood 2-metres apart in a car park and did burpies – a sparse fitness flash mob. Personally, I’m trying to balance an appreciation of this brand new quiet in my life with worrying about family, getting work done and trying not to despair that things may not return to normal. But then, I’m not really sure I want them to completely return to normal, as 2020’s catastrophes seem like the much-needed wake-up call that the life we were living was neither desirable nor sustainable.”




Jelly, Thailand – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. 

 

Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012.

Since then he has worked with a number of International not for profit and UN agencies throughout Asia, West & Central Africa and the Middle East as a Country Director, Director of Programmes & Operations and Head of Region to implement complex humanitarian responses and international development programmes.

 

Paul reached out to Jelly, a Philippine national who has worked in the humanitarian sector in Thailand for many years.

Here’s her story:

“Despite Thailand and particularly Bangkok being widely perceived as a wealthy country with a thriving capital and a business hub with one of the strongest economies in S.E Asia, there is a huge wealth divide that perpetuates a large working-class section of society that exist on criminally low wages.

“There are tens of thousands of Myanmar refugees residing in detainment camps”

“These are the people who are now suffering the worst effects of covid-19 as despite best intentions, they generally live in cramped overcrowded communities which make it impossible to self-isolate or to afford protective equipment such as masks which leads to an increased spread of the virus.

“A further pressing issue for the humanitarian system in Thailand is the tens of thousands of Myanmar refugees residing within the 9 detainment camps along the Thai/Myanmar border.

” It will be incredibly difficult to halt the spread through the camp”

“The camps are situated within dense jungle and despite benefiting from limited medical clinics provided by international organisations, sanitation is poor and when rather than if the virus reaches the population it will be incredibly difficult to halt the spread through the camp, into the local community and through the incredibly porous border into rural Myanmar (Kayin State).

“Prior to the pandemic the government were in the process of closing the camps, however this has stopped, and very little information is being released by the authorities.”

 

 

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – bethanmarsh@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?  



Cate and Nico, Italy – Global Perspectives: Stories of Solidarity during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases.We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.

 

Click here to view the Map of our Global Perspectives: solidarity stories 

 

Cate and Nico have lived in the UK and Italy and both run small business in the city. They are currently in Turin, Italy.

“Our daily lives have been turned upside down almost overnight. As a self-employed osteopath, I had to make the difficult decision to close all my practices in order to preserve my health and that of my patient’s health and their families.

“It was not an easy decision given that I have no other source of income and my monthly outgoings have not been affected at all by the virus! My partner and I have therefore confirmed with government advice and isolated ourselves at home.

“We can perceive a strong sense of community among the few people that we encounter”

“I think the best way to deal with this difficult, strange and paradoxical period in our lives is to take time for ourselves, which can never usually do because of our stressful routines, and take advantage of this situation to indulge in those activities that we had been putting off due to a lack of time.

“We see people regularly going the extra mile to be patient and kind to one another”

“Here in Italy, or at least in Turin, on those rare occasions we leave the house to go grocery shopping, we can perceive a strong sense of community among the few people that we encounter.

“There has been an incredible transformation in our behaviour as a collective which has unified the country and now, we see people regularly going the extra mile to be patient and kind to one another.

“In the end, we are all in the same boat, fighting the same battle and we all hope to be able to return a version of normality that many of us took for granted until a few weeks ago.”

 

 

 

Would you like to share your story of the situation/ challenges facing your country?

We are asking anyone willing to share to answer the following questions and send to – susieventrisfield@wcia.org.uk 

  • What is the situation like in your country?
  • What are some of the main challenges for people?
  • Are there any positive stories coming out of this situation that can be inspiration for others?