International Day of Peace, and Human Security Reflections

Since the turn of the 20th century there have been many initiatives and programs promoting and striving for a new world order that would lead to a more peaceful planet. A century ago there was the war to end all wars and the establishment of the League of Nations. A quarter century later at the conclusion of the Great Patriotic War there was a corresponding change in the world wide balance of power and the concept of a governing body for international relations that led to the establishment of the United Nations.

Less than half a century after the creation of the United Nations, the Berlin Wall was falling, dissolution of the Soviet Union was well underway, and the Cold War was ending. Although the United Nations continued to represent the best widely agreed upon approach for world peace, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was used by President George H. W. Bush to announce another “new world order” to deter those who act with aggression and occupy, overtake or claim the territories of neighbors.

A review of world events since the 1990s shows the US, along with many cooperating Western nations, frequently relied on this unilaterally proclaimed “new world order” when addressing issues of international geopolitical concern. Understanding the recent history surrounding the newly defined “new world order” of the United States without taking any other provocations into account, can lead to a better understanding why the West took great exception to the 2014 events which transpired in Crimea and the cooling of East-West relations that have followed.

However, is it possible that much of the world arrived at simplistic and imperfect conclusions regarding the root causes of World War I and especially World War II? If so, would it follow that there may have been a less than perfect creation of a “new world order” when the functioning of the United Nations was established in 1945? In the 1990s did the United States fail to remedy matters with their unilateral establishment of the latest “new world order” currently being pursued by the West?

There are some who study the root causes of regional, national and international conflicts and conclude that the lesson we should have learned from the history of armed conflicts is that what is worse and more dangerous than grabbing territory or not deterring aggression is the persistent lack of fraternal concern and constructive actions to address the well-being of neighbors across the street, across the border, or across the world. In support of this conclusion we can observe that all Abrahamic religions provide ample metaphors that the key component to overcoming the violent history of mankind is by accepting the precept that we are responsible for the welfare of our brothers, our sisters, our close and distant cousins, and our neighbors near and far. The first and most obvious (but sometimes misunderstood) of these metaphors is contained in the Genesis story of Cain and Abel. The philosophical study of the ethical and political ramifications of brotherly love leads to this same conclusion.

World history contains ample examples of unnecessary and unjustified conflicts that are provoked by an endless assortment of self-serving entities in their quest for power and wealth who disregard the Golden Rule and the precept to show fraternal care for all neighbors near and far. In turn, the fear and violence associated with these self-serving provocations are all too often allowed to take hold and grow among a sometimes less than fully enlightened public.

In the 1990s there was a genuinely improved “new world order” set in motion when a United Nations program to address the most urgent needs of the world population was defined and documented. The publication of the UNDP 1994 Human Development Report established Human Security as a program that met the needs and approval of both the West and the East through the established organization of the existing United Nations. Since that time numerous national and international projects have been initiated to promote and further develop world-wide Human Security programs and concepts. Over the last two decades many observers have noted the potential for Human Security funding and programs to aid the portion of humanity that has not yet transcended survival by escaping extreme poverty, and the potential for Human Security to complement or supplant the huge funding, projects and infrastructure of the ever growing world-wide military-industrial complex.

As we approach the International Day of Peace on 21 September many of us can take a moment to reflect on any and all efforts that will lead humanity towards greater collective concern for the welfare of all others on our planet. Let us also remember that Human Security and other mutually agreed proposals for a “new world order” provide the greatest potential to awaken in mankind the desire and means for continuously improving worldwide well-being.