BACKGROUND In today’s world, we increasingly see human conflict based on issues of identity—cultural, religious, etc. While religion and culture are not the immediate cause of conflict per se, it is often manipulated by vested interests that stand to gain from the negative consequences of creating divisions between people of different faiths, communities or cultures. Once instilled and disseminated, such messages, which condition behavior and attitude towards difference and diversity, are difficult to rectify—making reconciliation and a return to peaceful coexistence very difficult. The Hague is an international city with people from 140 nationalities living and working together. This diversityhas been very enriching but, as in many other cities in the world, has also been sometimes a source ofapprehensions and conflicts. However, The Hague as international city of Peace and Justice has beenworking for years towards the prevention and peaceful solution of conflicts, with the hope for a more peacefulfuture for the whole world. The Walk of Hope aims at spreading the message of non-violence, tolerance and peace among The HagueYouth, advocating that what unites us as mankind is more fundamental than what separates us and that Diversity is our collective strength. It is inspired by the historical and symbolic nature of the city of TheHague, City of Peace and Justice, but also by an unprecedented 7,500-km- Walk from the most Southern tothe most Northern tip of India, started in January 2015 and ended in April 2016.. The Walk was led by Sri M,social reformer, peace activist, educationist and founder of Manav Ekta Foundation . The Walk of Hope was endorsed by the United Nations as “an unprecedented Walk and a commendablePeace initiative” and was supported by the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Advisor tothe Secretary General on Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng who took part in the Walk itself in Indiain December 2015.
In 2017, the Walk of Hope went beyond the borders of India to Europe. People keen to support the cause of Peace and Harmony walked for Hope in Berlin, Bern, Birmingham-UK and of course, in the City of Peace and Justice-The Hague where up to a thousand school and college students walked on 30th March 2017 from the International School of The Hague to the Peace Palace for a United Humanity. The Walk of Hope The Hague 2017 was supported by the United Nations, the City of The Hague, the International School of the Hague, the European School, ROC Mondriaan, Museon, Theater de Vaillant and several other partners. United Nations’ Under-Secretary- General A. Dieng also took part in the Walk of Hope The Hague on 30 March 2017 and was guest of honor at the Walk of Hope Youth Conference at the International School of The Hague.
The Hague Walk 2017 went beyond expectations, reaching the hearts and minds of the Youth, the preparations with the schools for the Youth Walk of Hope, for the Youth conference and for the debate at the Museon, contributed to raising the awareness among the students, even before they started Walking!. The side events organized around the Walk were also great opportunities for debate and exchange on tolerance, dialogue and Oneness of Humanity.
As Sri M said “When a seed is sown, it slowly grows and then becomes a tree. I feel the seeds which were sown in India are sprouting in The Hague”
The Municipality of The Hague considered The Walk of Hope 2017 a “meaningful Youth event”, and the second The Hague edition, of the Walk of Hope will be held on the UN International Peace Day, 21 September 2018.