We are already counting down to yet another World Peace Day, on September 21st when we shall once again commemorate a day instituted by the organization you lead, to strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples of the world. This year will mark the 30th anniversary and I understand that you have aptly chosen “Right of People to Peace” as the theme.
Ordinarily, this should be a happy day to look forward to because over and above every other engagement the UN has today, the advancement of the ideals of peace is the thinking that inspired its founding. However, there is hardly any excitement leading to the day nor will the day make any significant impact on the world for in many ways, the very idea the day seeks to celebrate has long been lost on the world.
What if the United Nations has failed?
The League of Nations before it failed, ending in a bitter world war which the world is yet to fully recover from. The thinking behind setting up the UN was to prevent any such conflict again. There seemed to have been a unanimous scream of “never again” by those first 51 member nations and the hundreds of others that have since joined in. How successful it has been remains a subject of intense academic debates but in the real world, the UN has besides becoming bureaucratic also become increasingly irrelevant in the face of crises.
A few examples will suffice. When close to a million died in the Rwanda genocide, the UN did nothing despite clear knowledge of the impending massacre. In Sudan’s Dafur, it took several years and over 300,000 deaths later for the UN to quell the devastation there. There has been the Cold war, the Gulf wars, the Srebrenica massacre, the rise of terrorism and the madness that has followed the Arab spring to highlight just a few.
The fact that nuclear weapons and small arms continue to be proliferated and circulated is perhaps the most obvious evidence of the failure of the UN. But even more worrying today are such issues as Human Trafficking, Child labour, and Environmental degradation all of which are important ingredients for peace.
What if the Third World war is already being fought?
Yes, it is. Not with the frenzy of the two earlier episodes but piece-meal, with battle fronts scattered all over all parts of the earth and with many of the fighters not even wearing uniforms. There is an ISIS sweeping people and cultures off the surface of the earth much like the Nazi attempted. There is a Russia obsessed with arousing the ghost of the Soviet Union at all cost in a conflict that has seen passenger planes become collateral damage. There is a North Korea that has perfected the art of pushing the world’s buttons whenever it feels like with its nuclear threats. There is an Israel and Palestine for whom weeks of attacks and counter attacks have become an annual feature on the calendar. The drug wars in South America are as alive as ever. There is Al Qaeda and its many franchises. There is Al-shabab and Boko Haram. There is Ebola.
In my country, over two hundred girls have been missing for many months, taken away by people whose ideologies are in direct conflict with those of the UN. In many parts of the world today, young girls, some not long out of wetting their beds are traded, transported over long distances, exploited and abused. Young boys are being recruited, taught to hate and forced to fight wars they know nothing about. Poverty continues to expand with the stronger nations exploiting the weaker to maintain a structure that keeps them on top.
That precisely is the reason I write. We cannot last for much longer living in denial, spending billions of dollars annually in payments to your workers who are detached from the issues, funding NGO’s who are really businesses feeding off humanity’s failures, supporting projects that add absolutely no value and claim we are promoting peace. This conspiracy of silence around the proliferation of firearms which fuel conflicts, the instigation of wars purely for economic reasons and the endless arguments that are your Security Council meetings continues to push the world closer to the precipice. Perhaps, we can make this year’s celebration count for something. Getting the world to rethink our definition of peace may be a good place to start.