RI President January Message

R. Gordon R. McInally
President 2023-24

In difficult times like these, it’s impossible to avoid feeling heartbroken over the devastation and loss of life caused by war and destruction. 

Rotary always stands against harming and displacing civilian populations and using armed aggression instead of pursuing peaceful solutions. We advocate for the observance and respect of international law. We believe in strong action to defend and promote peace, even in the darkest of times.

But we also take our position as an international, nonpolitical, nonreligious organization seriously. To respect the global perspectives and experiences of our members, and to work most effectively in our peacebuilding efforts, we do not choose sides in conflicts. 

Rotary is made up of 1.4 million people in communities all over the globe who are united in our commitment to building a peaceful world. We strive to ensure that our words and actions prioritize the health and safety of our global membership and the communities where we live and serve.

Our members seek to offer humanitarian assistance to those affected by conflict, and our global reach requires that we promote peacebuilding and conflict prevention with cross-cultural, cross-border connections and friendship through Rotary.

For decades, Rotary has harnessed these connections to carry out service projects, support peace fellowships and scholarships, and establish programs like Rotary Peace Centers to help build lasting peace. Our members also take action to promote Positive Peace, addressing the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, discrimination, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.

Rotary members who wish to wage peace can use district grants and Rotary Foundation global grants to support projects with other Rotary members that help refugees and displaced people, provide medical support, and more worldwide. Members can also work with or join peace-focused Rotary Action Groups, Friendship Exchanges, Fellowships, and intercountry committees. And District Designated Funds or district cash can support our peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts.

Members and nonmembers alike can learn more about peacebuilding through the Rotary Positive Peace Academy, a free online course available to anyone with an internet connection. You can find it at positivepeace.academy/rotary.

There is no denying that incidents of violence and atrocities being perpetuated around the world seem to be escalating. Global peace is fragile, and the stakes are getting higher.

Still, we know that it is possible to bring all people together to work toward a shared goal. Rotary members do so every day in every part of the world. May our ability to unify in common purpose be a spark that helps light the path out of these dark days.