Peace Day

Today, the United Nations commemorates yet another International Day of Peace, a declaration first passed by its General Assembly through resolution 36/67 in 1981. In pursuance of the declaration, the UNGA in 2001 adopted a new resolution 55/282 declaring September 21 of each year as the International Day of Peace. The resolution “Declares that the International Day of Peace shall henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day.” Recognizing the political conditions in which it exists, one could perhaps say that the United Nations was well aware of its own limitations in attaining its long cherished goal in securing world peace. As the International Day of Peace is commemorated, it offers an opportunity for all of humankind to reflect and discern ways in which to make peace possible.  

In a world that has just witnessed, experienced and participated in the most violent century ever known since the dawn of humankind, the human desire and search for peace demands a resolve like never before. While the characters of conflict have undergone dramatic changes, shifting from state-state conflict to state-people conflict, it is understood that the nature of modern states has been the primary cause for conflicts around the world. Their monopolistic personality and rigid hierarchical structures has limited its capacity to be dynamic and accommodating to all of human life; and above all its dependency on the use of force as a means to quell all forms of dissent has diminished its ability to genuinely and honestly negotiate differences.   

 It is quite evident there is an acute lack of critical imagination; and the stifling arrogance of power perpetuates an assumption that formulates the hammer as the only means available to deal with differences. And sadly, when the tool is the hammer, the language of justpeace is inevitably usurped. The continuous resort to force by state agencies manifests a deepening belief in force as a method above all else. This erroneous belief stands out as a monolithic structure which demonstrates an ideology convinced that force can reshape the world in just about any way they want. The use of force has become the yardstick of success and obviously compounds the possibility of solutions through peaceful means. 

Conflicts that are being waged today are not conceptualized in traditional terms. Most often, issues of conflict are now defined around culture, identity, worldview, ideas, vision, narratives, history and the collective desire to live in freedom. It is a war of perception in which ideas and not weapons of destruction are required. And therefore solutions need to be sought outside of traditional solutions, in other words, out-of-the-box solutions are required. Naturally this suggestion contravenes the existing paradigm of the present War on Terror, because all that this War has done is to create and reinforce the image of an enemy of the ‘other’ and pursues the idea that purports the efficacy of force, which has only bred more violence.

On this day of peace, if one is persuaded in making this world free of violence, it is then of absolute necessity to address the question of violence with clarity and foresight, because violence is at the root of many of the worlds conflicts. By violence, I mean, state violence, structural violence and other forms of violence that prevents the fullness of a dignified humanity. If the response to differences is more violence, that in the final analysis, one would end up being no better, possibly even worse. There is a need to evolve a new paradigm in which one must fine creative, imaginative and responsive ways to engage with issues of injustice. And such a paradigm must find ways to end violence and its consequences. One a day such as this, human societies are encouraged to explore new ways to address conflicting interests in which the use of force has no role. 

Peace inevitably must be located within the broader vision of a shared humanity. A shared humanity is based on the idea that the security and well-being of any one community, nation or people is connected and interdependent with the well being of others, requiring mutual respect, understanding, cooperation, and investment in our mutual destiny. The pursuit for a shared humanity compels a people to engage in a collective process to define a future that equally meets the fundamental human needs of all. Today, the forces of history are challenging humankind to adequately demonstrate the basic idea that solutions are possible through meaningful dialogue. 

In reality there is no road that leads to peace, Peace itself is the road; and it begins to emerge only when all forms of injustices that destroy human dignity are removed. It is a praxis which demands addressing all forms of injustices through fairness and righteous means and it necessitates the transformation of all unjust systems to ensure that the injustices are not committed again. If the United Nations is persuaded to be the difference in the search for peace, than it needs to have the political will to first reprimand its member-states who are engaged in using all forms to violence to subdue the voices of dissent. Only then, will it have the moral authority to question those who use secondary violence in retaliation to state violence.  

Indeed peace is never made; peace is always in the making and it dwells on a vision that transcends the existing realities which is limited by the present conditions of an impoverished mind.