What is World Peace?

Big Chilli Magazine - Thursday, September 09, 2004

Peace is defined as a state of tranquility and harmony, with world peace encompassing global happiness; a place where humans live together equally, extending respect and courtesy in their everyday actions.

To achieve peace, we first have to realize that we are not alone in the world, that each of our actions engenders consequences on the lives of other individuals, either good or bad. If our actions engender bad consequences for others, then we will never have peace. But, how many times do we think of others before ourselves?

This is true on a global level, between nations. At the end of the last visible show of global violence, World War II, the United Nations was created n order to prevent future atrocities and genocides. One of its main mandates was the pursuit of human rights. So logically, the United Nations would be happy to discuss the topic of world peace. Yet, when asked on numerous occasion, both officially and non-officially, very high ranking UN officials who were very happy to chit-chat over cocktails, turned to stone and walked away without a word with the mention of world peace.

While the UN actively works in the areas of the physical prerequisites for world peace, eradicating poverty, injustice and illiteracy, there are also mental aspects to world peace, although these are rarely mentioned. So, we first need to ask ourselves if we really want peace. Is world peace profitable?

Today, western society seems to praise aggression, while penalizing righteousness. Our competitive consumer society does not teach compassion or empathy, without which peace is not possible. In our fast-paced world, we tend to act more than think, and who is behind the manipulation of our psychological programming?

Thailand is perceived as being the most peaceful country on Earth. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit best explained this when she recently delivered her 6th cycle birthday message. Her Majesty asked Thais to value and uphold those qualities that make Thailand so special; love, kindness, sympathy, selflessness, generosity and unity. If qualities like this have created a country where peace can thrive, maybe its time to consider the implementation of these qualities on a global scale.

The problem is that these qualities are in direct opposition to those put into place by the powers that be who controlled post-World War II America. Their aim was to keep the factories of the industrial revolution era working to produce consumer goods when they were not producing armaments. It was at this time that the United Nations was also founded.

The UN Charter obliges all member nations to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights” and to take “joint and separate action” to that enc. Yet, this does not always seem to be the case. Currently, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for a High-Level panel, led by Anand Panyarachun, to recommend specific changes in UN policies and institutions. This report is to be submitted this coming December 2004. Let us hope that Kofi Annan will hear the wisdom and goodness of Khun Anand, and that they will have the courage to do something for the people of this world, rather than have their hands tied by those who control it.

Prof. Jose Ramos-Horta/ Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation-Timor-Leste

“For World Peace we need reforms of the UN. It needs to become a more effective institution. But that would not be enough. It world require real political will of leaders to renew the efforts in nuclear disarmament, banning chemical biological weapons, and a lot of dialogue to eliminate prejudices and suspicion. Civil society is also a bright side of the future picture and it is growing stronger because of Internet and globalization. Education absolutely plays a big role in all of this. It is extremely important for our children, our youth, to have a better understanding and respect towards other religions and nationalities. Through dialogue, the promotion of non-violence is the ideal situation. While this is a dream, a vision for the future, this can contribute to diffusing tensions and breaking down prejudices. Thailand is very well suited for the role of breaking down ignorance and prejudice. It was never been colonized or been a colonial power. It has a people and society, a culture that thrives on peace. It is a shining example of tolerance.”

Dr. Karan Singh/ Maharaja, President, Minister, Ambassador

“Human existence should be looked upon as a rare gift to be utilized both for inner development and for the benefit of all. The truth is one and the wise call it by many names. So, the question is whether we will have a world based on fanaticism or are we going to have a safe and harmonious global society, based on interfaith understanding and peaceful conflict resolution. The question is what direction we will now take. The UN is just one of the dimensions. But the fact is that the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council were the victors in the Second World War. Today, it is absurd that you do not have any permanent members from countries like India, which accounts for 1/6 of the human race, or Germany, which is one of the world’s most affluent countries, or Japan, Brazil, Nigeria, or South Africa. It’s a Western club, with China being the only Asian country represented. So, first of all, there has to be a democratization, an extension of the Security Council to make it more representative. Then, it has go to function more effectively. Its specialized agencies are doing very well. The World Health Organization, UNICEF, ILO and so on. So, it has to be strengthened. We don’t want to rule out the United Nations, we don’t want to denigrate it, but it has to get its act together.”

Prof. Nicolaas Bloembergen/ Nobel Laureate for Physics

“In the concept of separate nations, each nation wants to be able to defend itself and will look at any new idea and see how it can be used to improve defence and security. So it’s natural that money is readily available initially from military sources. As long As we have the concept of independent nations the system will most likely stay the same. Each nation will eventually try, if there’s a new idea, how it can improve its independence and security. We’ve had the League of Nations, and now we have United Nations, but you see that some people don’t wish to cooperate fully. And I’am sorry to say that the United States don’t support the United Nations as fully as it should. I’m still waiting, because a world organization will never have military power, at least in the foreseeable future. If it could be worked out, a worldwide government would be interesting. But historically I don’t see any likelihood for it happening soon. This is really the only way we could turn our energy towards a positive versus a negative future. Of course, another thing is historical traditions. It’s not only the concept of Nations it’s also the concept of religion. What worries me more is that different religions are fighting each other so hard, even within the same nation. So religiously held convictions are as damaging to worldwide unity as is the concept of nations.”

Prof. Ferid Murad/ Nobel Laureate for Medicine

“It has become apparent to me that scientists can communicate effectively with experimental data in spite of language barriers. Scientists for the most part, have a common set of goals. They wish to obtain new and important scientific information that benefits mankind. The medical scientist desires to relieve pain, suffering and preventive diseases for society irrespective of ethnicity or country. Personally, my laboratory is very international, with about two thirds of my 100 trainees from other countries around the world, and I have found that we have become a large interactive family. Our collaborations, friendships and assistance for each other continue in spite of where we all came from or reside. If our societies had less greed, more education, less diseases, less crime and greater opportunities to train and work with each other, world peace would be much easier to attain. Scientific research and medicine are perhaps the few professions where such principles are more common. However, most of us know that national and international economics and politics often drive decisions and processes. Perhaps we should concentrate on developing and training more scientists than expanding armaments and defence programs if we wish to accelerate the development of world peace with an improved quality of life.”

Hon. Gareth Evans/ President of the International Crisis Group and Co-Chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty

“What we have to do is work at several different levels to get agreement about the rules of force so that there’s much more consensus about when it’s right to go to war and when it’s not right to go to war. It’s a matter about strengthening the United Nations’ own institutions, the institutions of multi-lateral engagement, both in conflict prevention, in effective peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building. It’s also a matter of governments having a more intelligent strategy to deal with these issues. It’s not just rules. It’s not just institutions. It is actual policy. For example, in the context of terrorism, to be addressing the underlying political grievances that motivate so much of this instead of ignoring it and hoping it will go away. The most substantial effort so far to identify the relevant principles, and build an international consensus around them has been the work of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), a Canadian government-sponsored response to the challenge made to the international community by the UN Secretary-General. The Commission presented its report. The Responsibility to Protect, to him in December 2001. We argued that sovereignty implies responsibilities as well as rights: to be sovereign means that “the state authorities are responsible for the functions of protecting the safety and lives of citizens and promotion of their welfare”; that “the national political authorities are responsible to the citizens internally and to the international community through the UN”. The alternative to making a serious effort to enforce the international rules we have, and to supplement them with further principled guidelines and criteria, is to abandon the field to those who are more comfortable with the ad hoc exercise of power- who don’t really want to be limited by rules and principles, who feel constrained by international process, who see multilateral cooperation in very narrowly self-interested terms. But a world that appeals to people like this is not, I think, one in which most people in the world really want to live.”

Dame Anita Roddic/ Founder – The Body Shop

“The next concrete steps that we can take towards peace are dialogue, as well as looking at the small initiatives that are on conflict resolution, looking at the processes that are done, putting money into preserving peace. There’s not one penny, hardly any money in post-war conflict. So, the peace process has to be really worked out. There is no debate that we should be putting peace processes, peace discussion dialogues, into the national curriculum, as well as every form of formal and informal education. We should be celebrating those groups that are putting this in practice. They should be heralded. They should be put above the radar screen. Working for peace in a tenacious and fierce way is the route to go. We should highlight storytelling, myths and legends of indigenous people. This is a great form of education for children. Conflicts should be looked at in schools. Bullying and aggression is growing in England. Students should learn how to deconstruct advertising messages and movies for violence. And it should be made fun. This is a way of raising self-esteem, because then they feel that they have power in that they can be heard. They need to find a new language so that fighting for peace is no longer viewed as wimpy, but as courageous. This is the first time in our cultural history when economics overrides everything. It overrides compassion and social justice. In business behaviour now economics has stolen our language and pervades our brain. What is missing today is compassion and kindness. We haven’t got a language for that. We have a language for competition. We need schools that teach real service to the community. Again, everything has to be made fun.”