UNITED Nations declared Sept 21 as an International Day of Peace in 1981,after which every year many people, political and military observer groups and many countries devote this day to strengthen peace efforts in world. Every year UN, announces a theme for this day to reinforce the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people. The year 2016 theme is “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace”. According to UN theme for peace, sustainability addresses the fundamental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Modern challenges of poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, water scarcity, social inequality, environmental degradation, diseases, corruption, racism and many other factors pose challenges for peace and create fertile grounds for conflict. Sustainable development contributes decisively to dissipation and elimination of these causes of conflict and provides the foundation for a lasting peace.
Peace, meanwhile, reinforces the conditions for sustainable development and liberates the resources needed for societies to develop and prosper. After World War II, the United Nations was established by the United Nations Charter foreword of which narrates, “Save successive generations from the two scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”. The Preamble to the United Nations Charter also aims to further the adoption of fundamental human rights, respect obligations to sources of international law as well as to unite the strength of independent countries in order to maintain international peace and security.
But how unfortunate, today we are in quest of peace not on individual level but among countries too. Lust for more power, obsession fo rpossessions and paranoia of terrorism is making this world a deadliest place to live. Wars do come to an end but their shadows prevail in years to come nor can they be obscured from pages of history. Apart from efforts for sustenance of peace, there are many conflicts carrying on which make peace efforts go in vain. Though many skirmishes in different parts of the world emerge due to ideological differences but despite being suggested narratives, no peaceful solution can be applicable to these countries and they are going through worst turmoil.
Presently, we see Muslim states facing many challenges, particularly by West mostly as an accusation of terrorism producing and supporting countries. Be it Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Kashmir or any other Muslim state they are linked to phenomenon of terrorism, directly or indirectly.
We see that UN and other peacekeeping organizations are weak enough to bring peace in these states whereas superpowers are busy in accomplishing their agendas. Though during the era of Cold War many nations were bound to be part of Bloc Politics, but the everlasting impact of alliances paved the way for future liaisons among nations. Superpowers try to achieve their goal through coercive use of power and we are witnessing that the United States continues to practice a policy of ‘ala cartemultilateralism’, favouring only those international efforts which interconnect with its national interests.
America’s belief in ‘a la carte multilateralism’ give her a fringe to pick and choose its allies and mechanisms as circumstances suggest. We have seen this policy in case of Pakistan too, where notion of either “with us or against us” was prominent in many crucial decisions for South Asian peace and stability. In an arena of globalisation, it’s really difficult for states to remain isolated and practice peace but yes peace within society can be attained through good governance and rule of law and justice. Currently we are witnessing skirmishes in Kashmir, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other disputes among countries on smaller scale but yet an effective forceful body is needed to stop all the bloodshed. UN under its umbrella established peacekeeping missions and they have done remarkable work under their domain in particular areas but to bring in all out peace particularly in war zones is a difficult task and it needs mutual cooperation.
Generally countries who are involved in war acts announce 24 hours ceasefire in war hit areas just to honour this world peace day but stopping war for few hours or a single dayis a not a solution for permanent peace. Obviously putting weapons aside will not ensure peace in longer term and a workable solution is need of the hour for conflict ridden countries. Present day situation of war hit areas, refugee crisis and use of force militarily, economically or politically disturb the balance of power equilibrium along with denial of basic human rights.
Sustainable Development Goals by UN creates a building block in the global architecture of peace and it is critical that we should organise means of implementation, including financial resources, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building, as well as the role of partnerships. To establish peace in the world we must remember that everyone has a stake and everyone has a contribution to make.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think tank based in Islamabad.