World VR Forum kicked off November by teaming up with UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Trade and Research) for the 4th edition of Geneva Peace Week, themed Prevention and effective pathways for implementation, a collective action initiative facilitated by UNOG (United Nations Office at Geneva), the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform in collaboration with the Swiss Confederation, at Palais des Nations on 9 November, 2017.
“Prevention is not merely a priority, but the priority. If we live up to our responsibilities, we will save lives, reduce suffering and give hope to millions,” stated United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his address to members of the UN Security Council on 10 January 2017.
Geneva Peace Week, which took place 6 – 10 November this year, defines everyone’s role in peacebuilding and conflict resolution across disciplines and sectors with a variety of meetings and events on different topics related to the promotion of peace throughout the week, bringing together and connecting Geneva’s numerous international organizations, more than 40 United Nations entities, non-governmental organizations and top-tier academic and research institutions.
WVRF team lead by Project Coordinator, Mauricio Chavez joined other peace activists in the quest for prevention solutions to violent conflicts by bringing seven thought provoking VR documentaries from all over the world which put the viewers in the middle of war zones, refugee camps, trucks, slums and the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea with numerous sunken items lost by the fleeing migrants. The films were part of the ‘reversed cinema’ event, a provocative museum-like display of multimedia reports, films and articles showing the best examples of truthful journalism in the halls of the Palais des Nations followed by a discussion with experts in the field.
Around 60 United Nations employees were immersed into WVRF’s exclusive fear and tear inducing VR Screening, which consisted of: Fortress Europe (Impact Unified, Sweden); Life in the Time of Refuge (David Gough, UK); Lost Memories (Stefania Casini, Italy); My Brother’s Keeper (Alex Meader, Connor Hair, USA); Happy Land (Vostok VR, Singapore); Clouds over Sidra (Gabo Arora, Chris Milk, USA); Wasala – Arriving (fernsehburo, Germany).
My Brother’s Keeper in particular, won the audience over with its raw narrative style and striking visuals as it took them to mid-19th century America, right into the centre of the Civil War battlefield where two estranged brothers fight on the opposite sides. Wasala – Arriving on the daily lives of the refugees at a shelter in Berlin, Germany, also was a big hit with the attendees, bringing attention to current wars and how they affect people’s lives by forcing them to flee their home countries and to live in shelters in not the most favourable conditions on foreign soil.
WVRF was grateful to be part of the Geneva Peace Week and looks forward to collaborate with UNITAR on a possible partnership for VR training as many UN agencies are always interested in getting their messages across in new and innovative ways, such as Virtual Reality which happen to have the ‘it factor’ for engaging the audience in serious issues that need to be tackled and eradicated. Many were impressed with the 360° take on world violence that was demonstrated at WVRF’s VR Screening, so WVRF will continue helping to weed it out with VR while attending events that cultivate the much needed peace culture, such as the incredible Geneva Peace Week.