Where is Peace, and Where Are the Forces of Justice and Peace?
While the overwhelming concern just now should of course be for steps which can check violence immediately, troubling questions remain as to what exactly have the efforts of over seven decades achieved for bringing justice to the people of Palestine and peace to the wider troubled region. While the woes of Palestinians just go on increasing, overall the people of Israel also cannot be happy with the situation of constant tensions and frequently erupting violence in which they find themselves.
While the injustice suffered by the Palestinians is recognized very widely, there is also much recognition that these unresolved issues have the potential of escalating into wider conflict, well-intentioned and influential persons have made some efforts and Nobel peace prizes have been won, but both peace and justice have remained extremely elusive, and violence is ready to erupt and spread anytime, as is evident from recent efforts.
The United Nations is also there. It provides relief and help, and passes resolutions, issues statements, but resolving the issues in a durable way in a principled framework of peace and justice does not appear to be even on its agenda anymore, and the international diplomacy of the variety unleashed by the likes of Trump and his family members was more in news in recent times than the efforts of the United Nations. The Oslo Accords and Camp David processes are almost forgotten, consigned more to history books.
Let us take a wider view of what has been happening in the wider region? At least three countries which were once prosperous enough to record high or medium human development indicators ( Iraq, Libya and Syria )have been ruined by invasion and civil strife. Two others which suffered problems earlier too have been devastated further by violence and civil wars ( Sudan and Yemen). Another (Iran) was first attacked by its neighbor and after recovering from a decade long war with Iraq was again almost on the brink of facing a much more devastating invasion. Other countries like Lebanon too have suffered a lot from civil strife. Kuwait too has suffered an invasion.
In addition to war and civil strife, several countries ( Iraq, Syria, Iran ) have suffered too from the devastating impacts of sanctions. In the case of Iraq these are reported to have resulted in several hundred thousand deaths over a period of several years. Sudan is divided already, but the partition has not brought it closer to resolving or ending conflict.
The one-time regional leader Egypt, aspiring then even for a global role, is now so choked by its own its internal repressions and suppressions that it can scarcely find its wider voice. Where is spring here? We can’s see any blossoms, not yet. Turkey boasts of sheltering Egyptian dissenters, but domestically it is on the same road really of suppression and repression, with record numbers of dissenters in prison.
Saudi Arab royals, with never any pretensions of democracy, strut around proudly, flaunting their wealth to try to be seen as regional leaders, all the time making unethical compromises which harm the wider Arab interests, having colluded with superpowers in the destruction of Iraq and Syria, then more directly inflicting more violence and misery on their own neighbors in Yemen.
All this brings distress not only to the countries directly affected, but indirectly also to people of other countries who have been dependent on livelihoods in oil-rich countries. The devastation of Libya, for example denied livelihoods to large number of people in neighbors Chad and Niger, therefore unleashing a new wave of deprivation and distress in these drought-prone countries as well in times of climate change .
This failure should draw attention to the much wider failure and extreme weakness of the forces of peace and justice, in the region and worldwide. We have to create forces which can work for justice based peace on continuing basis, not just on temporary project basis, so that durable more trust and support can be created and the forces of justice based peace can be strengthened all the time with increasing numbers of people supporting their work with continuity.
The United Nations could have become the base for supporting such movements and if this had happened actually then during the last 75 years we would have succeeded in creating a very strong worldwide people’s movement of justice based peace, with of course a very strong presence in the most volatile region of the Middle-East. But many senior officials of the UN got trapped by very narrow, selfish objectives and made compromises due to which such a wider role could not be possible. It is still not too late for the honest and committed persons within the UN and related organizations to assert themselves for such a role, supported by the other organizations for justice based peace and we can still make a good beginning for creating a worldwide honest, unbiased ,movement for justice based peace.
Bharat Dogra a journalist and author, is honorary coordinator of Save the Earth Now Campaign with SED Demand. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children and Man Over Machine ( Gandhian ideas for our times).