Is ‘sus­tain­able peace’ achiev­able?

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - BY K.K. TAN

A Tan event in New York last Fri­day to com­mem­o­rate the In­ter­na­tional Day of Peace to­mor­row, UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ban Ki-moon and UN mes­sen­gers of peace Leonardo DiCaprio, Ste­vie Won­der, Michael Dou­glas and other stars pleaded for peace and the sur­vival of the planet which is said to be “closer to con­flict than we may like to think”.

Wars and vi­o­lent con­flicts not only kill mil­lions of peo­ple, they also de­stroy economies and the en­vi­ron­ment. They are re­spon­si­ble to­day for cre­at­ing the world’s 21.3 mil­lion refugees, a ter­ri­ble in­dict­ment on hu­man­ity which has failed mis­er­ably to look af­ter its own species.

Peace is a state of tran­quil­lity, ci­vil­ity, calm and har­mony and the free­dom from war, vi­o­lence and con­flict in a so­ci­ety, coun­try, re­gion or the world. There has not been much writ­ten on the sub­ject and the ba­sis of “sus­tain­able peace”.

Sus­tain­able peace is a pro­longed and durable state of peace which can only be achieved by the ap­pli­ca­tion of the fol­low­ing seven prin­ci­ples: Prac­tice and pro­mo­tion of jus­tice, fair­ness, mod­er­a­tion, lib­er­al­ism and re­spect for other cul­tures, her­itage, be­liefs and non-in­tru­sive ide­olo­gies. Ad­dress­ing fairly the geo-po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests of the play­ers in­volved. Op­po­si­tion to all forms of ex­trem­ism and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Sup­port for self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and non­in­ter­fer­ence in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of all coun­tries. Ac­cep­tance that all hu­mans are equal in­hab­i­tants of our small planet who have the right to har­ness its nat­u­ral re­sources in an eq­ui­table and sus­tain­able man­ner Recog­ni­tion that hu­mans from all cor­ners of the world and of all eth­nic­i­ties have much more in com­mon than their dif­fer­ences. Ac­knowl­edge­ment that hu­mans need each other to sur­vive, con­serve and pro­tect our nat­u­ral re­sources and we need an in­clu­sive ap­proach based on univer­sal prin­ci­ples and rules to col­lab­o­rate, co-op­er­ate and work to­gether to share in the fruits of so­cial, eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment and progress for all. It is dif­fi­cult to have sus­tain­able peace in any coun­try if the coun­try is in a re­gion fraught with con­flicts.

Achiev­ing sus­tain­able peace, es­pe­cially in some re­gions of the world such as the Mid­dle East, Korean Penin­sula, Jammu and Kash­mir and South China Sea, seems to be rather elu­sive. If one were to an­a­lyse any re­gional con­flict, it is not hard to con­clude that some of the above prin­ci­ples were miss­ing.

The Nordic re­gion (Den­mark, Swe­den, Nor­way, Ice­land, Fin­land and Green­land) is per­haps the only re­gion in the world which can be con­sid­ered to be en­joy­ing sus­tain­able peace. You would find the seven prin­ci­ples thriv­ing there.

The irony of our world is that to achieve sus­tain­able peace, of­ten non-peace­ful means, such as wag­ing a war of resistance or in­de­pen­dence or against ag­gres­sion, may be nec­es­sary. It is a case of tak­ing one step back to move two steps for­ward.

It should be recog­nised that peace is the most im­por­tant type of all char­i­ties. In a war­like sit­u­a­tion, spon­sor­ing and do­nat­ing funds for poverty, ed­u­ca­tion or hous­ing may be mean­ing­less. This is not to say that nor­mal char­i­ties are wrong, in fact, any char­i­ta­ble act must be sup­ported and com­mended.

It should also be recog­nised that pro­mot­ing peace is prac­ti­cally non-ex­is­tent in the cor­po­rate or pri­vate sec­tor. It is as­sumed that such a role should be un­der­taken by the gov­ern­ment, politi­cians and NGOs. Yet, busi­ness has a vested in­ter­est in peace as no busi­ness, ex­cept the arms pro­duc­ers, can sur­vive or pros­per in a war or armed con­flict.

There­fore, peace phi­lan­thropy should be ac­corded greater ur­gency and pri­or­ity.

There are many ways to pro­mote sus­tain­able peace for the pub­lic – via mu­se­ums, gal­leries, sports, fes­ti­vals, the­atres, tourism, con­fer­ences, ral­lies, films, mu­sic, plays, join­ing peace NGOs and writ­ing ar­ti­cles.

The pro­mo­tion of the “cul­ture of peace” has to be in­ter­est­ing and en­gag­ing, es­pe­cially with the younger gen­er­a­tions. If they find the content bor­ing, dull or too aca­demic, they will not be in­ter­ested to learn about the evils of wars or the virtues of sus­tain­able peace.

Chil­dren should be taught from young about the cul­ture and prin­ci­ples of sus­tain­able peace.

For peace to be ef­fec­tive and im­pact­ful, it also has to be global as far as pos­si­ble, as most con­flicts in this world have one or more su­per or re­gional pow­ers in­volved.

It was the glob­al­i­sa­tion of the anti-war move­ment that forced the US gov­ern­ment to end the Viet­nam War (1955-1975).

Oth­er­wise, Viet­nam would have been bombed into obliv­ion. Much can be learnt from the peace move­ment against this ter­ri­ble war which killed more than 1.3 mil­lion peo­ple. Pop­u­lar anti-war mu­sic by leg­ends such as John Len­non, played a ma­jor role here. So too, were demon­stra­tions.

The Iraq War (2003-2011), its bru­tal­ity and the global op­po­si­tion to it, had sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Some of the big­gest threats to world peace to­day are the IS “caliphate” and North Korea. Both are led by ide­o­log­i­cal lu­natics and cold­blooded mur­der­ers, which may re­quire a ruth­less non-peace­ful and res­o­lute ap­proach to achieve sus­tain­able peace.

For years, I have writ­ten about the se­ri­ous threat of IS. I have stressed that to elim­i­nate the IS so­cial cancer, be­sides the in­tel­li­gence and co-or­di­nated mil­i­tary ap­proach, is to use ed­u­ca­tion and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare to win back the hearts and minds of dis­en­chanted pro-IS Mus­lim youths.

An idea is to use pi­lot­less air­craft or drones to drop well-writ­ten and “shock and awe” leaflets in the lo­cal lan­guages in the ar­eas con­trolled by IS in Syria, Iraq and Libya (and other re­gions of the world) about the evils, hypocrisy and anti-Is­lamic na­ture about the IS in sim­ple words and im­ages. The same ap­proach and mes­sages but via the in­ter­net and so­cial media can also be used, to those tar­geted by the IS for its re­cruit­ment and fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Some su­per­pow­ers and sev­eral regimes are also re­spon­si­ble for stir­ring con­flicts and wars and for in­cit­ing the cul­ture of ter­ror­ism. Their lead­ers should be ex­posed and held to ac­count by their own peo­ple.

More lead­ers and regimes, which are flout­ing UN rules against wars, should be re­ferred to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court for war crimes and any judg­ments should be en­forced res­o­lutely.

The writer is a think tank an­a­lyst and CEO of a “Her­itage for Peace” mu­seum group based in Kuala Lumpur which would be set­ting up an in­no­va­tive, world-class and story-based mu­seum in Malaysia to pro­mote mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, mod­er­a­tion and sus­tain­able peace. Com­ments: kk­tan@ the­sundaily.com

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