PROMOTING PEACE SERIES –THE UNITED NATIONS & YEAR 2001 PEACE PRIZE – Shared With Kofi Annan

PROMOTING PEACE SERIES –THE UNITED NATIONS & YEAR 2001 PEACE PRIZE – Shared With Kofi Annan

PROMOTING PEACE SERIES –THE UNITED NATIONS & YEAR 2001 PEACE PRIZE – Shared With Kofi Annan

One of our mandates is the promotion of peace and peaceful conduct, utilizing family units. It is for this reason that we are researching activities of The Norwegian Nobel Institute and its honorees. We will also look into the virtues and qualities sighted in Nobel Peace Prize Awardees and publish these for the purpose of promoting empathy.  As recorded on its website, at its centennial celebration in 2001, the Nobel Committee decided that the Peace Prize was to be divided between the United Nations (UN) and its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. The choice showed the Committee’s traditional support for organized cooperation between states. Annan was the United Nations’ seventh Secretary-General. There might by young ones out there who wish to become another Kofi Annan whose name is recorded on the positive pages of history;  or another Akinwumi Adesina who is gradually making history as a global figure in Agriculture & Agribusiness. Below, Kofi Anna’s speech at the year 2001 event.

SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN’S ADDRESS — The Nobel Peace Prize Award 2001 

Today’s real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated. Today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another. Scientists tell us that the world of nature is so small and interdependent that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rainforest can generate a violent storm on the other side of the earth. This principle is known as the “Butterfly Effect.” Today, we realize, perhaps more than ever, that the world of human activity also has its own “Butterfly Effect” — for better or for worse. We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further –- we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions. A new insecurity has entered every mind, regardless of wealth or status. A deeper awareness of the bonds that bind us all –- in pain as in prosperity –- has gripped young and old. In the early beginnings of the twenty-first century –- a century already violently disabused of any hopes that progress towards global peace and prosperity is inevitable — this new reality can no longer be ignored. It must be confronted.

The twentieth century was perhaps the deadliest in human history, devastated by innumerable conflicts, untold suffering, and unimaginable crimes. Time after time, a group or a nation inflicted extreme violence on another, often driven by irrational hatred and suspicion, or unbounded arrogance and thirst for power and resources. In response to these cataclysms, the leaders of the world came together at mid-century to unite the nations as never before. A forum was created -– the United Nations — where all nations could join forces to affirm the dignity and worth of every person and to secure peace and development for all peoples. Here States could unite to strengthen the rule of law, recognize and address the needs of the poor, restrain man’s brutality and greed, conserve the resources and beauty of nature, sustain the equal rights of men and women, and provide for the safety of future generations.

VANQUISHING POVERTY, IGNORANCE & DISEASE: We thus inherit from the twentieth century the political, as well as the scientific and technological power, which — if only we have the will to use them — give us the chance to vanquish poverty, ignorance and disease. In the twenty-first century I believe the mission of the United Nations will be defined by a new, more profound, awareness of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, regardless of race or religion. This will require us to look beyond the framework of States, and beneath the surface of nations or communities. We must focus, as never before, on improving the conditions of the individual men and women who give the State or nation its richness and character. We must begin with the young Afghan girl, recognizing that saving that one life is to save humanity itself.

Over the past five years, I have often recalled that the United Nations’ Charter begins with the words: “We the peoples.” What is not always recognized is that “We the peoples” are made up of individuals whose claims to the most fundamental rights have too often been sacrificed in the supposed interests of the State or the nation. A genocide begins with the killing of one man — not for what he has done, but because of who he is. A campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ begins with one neighbour turning on another. Poverty begins when even one child is denied his or her fundamental right to education. What begins with the failure to uphold the dignity of one life, all too often ends with a calamity for entire nations.

In this new century, we must start from the understanding that peace belongs not only to States or peoples, but to each and every member of those communities. The sovereignty of States must no longer be used as a shield for gross violations of human rights. Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need. Peace must be sought, above all, because it is the condition for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security. The rights of the individual are of no less importance to immigrants and minorities in Europe and the Americas than to women in Afghanistan or children in Africa. They are as fundamental to the poor as to the rich; they are as necessary to the security of the developed world as to that of the developing world.

From this vision of the role of the United Nations in the next century flow three key priorities for the future: eradicating poverty, preventing conflict, and promoting democracy. Only in a world that is rid of poverty can all men and women make the most of their abilities. Only where individual rights are respected can differences be channelled politically and resolved peacefully. Only in a democratic environment, based on respect for diversity and dialogue, can individual self-expression and self-government be secured, and freedom of association be upheld. Throughout my term as Secretary-General, I have sought to place human beings at the centre of everything we do -– from conflict prevention to development to human rights. Securing real and lasting improvement in the lives of individual men and women is the measure of all we do at the United Nations.

Dag Hammarskjöld – Gave his life for peace: It is in this spirit that I humbly accept the Centennial Nobel Peace Prize. Forty years ago today, the Prize for 1961 was awarded for the first time to a Secretary-General of the United Nations -– posthumously, because Dag Hammarskjöld had already given his life for peace in Central Africa. And on the same day, the Prize for 1960 was awarded for the first time to an African –- Albert Luthuli, one of the earliest leaders of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. For me, as a young African beginning his career in the United Nations a few months later, those two men set a standard that I have sought to follow throughout my working life. This award belongs not just to me. I do not stand here alone. On behalf of all my colleagues in every part of the United Nations, in every corner of the globe, who have devoted their lives -– and in many instances risked or given their lives in the cause of peace — I thank the Members of the Nobel Committee for this high honour. My own path to service at the United Nations was made possible by the sacrifice and commitment of my family and many friends from all continents -– some of whom have passed away — who taught me and guided me. To them, I offer my most profound gratitude.

In a world filled with weapons of war and all too often words of war, the Nobel Committee has become a vital agent for peace. Sadly, a prize for peace is a rarity in this world. Most nations have monuments or memorials to war, bronze salutations to heroic battles, archways of triumph. But peace has no parade, no pantheon of victory. What it does have is the Nobel Prize -– a statement of hope and courage with unique resonance and authority. Only by understanding and addressing the needs of individuals for peace, for dignity, and for security can we at the United Nations hope to live up to the honour conferred today, and fulfil the vision of our founders. This is the broad mission of peace that United Nations staff members carry out every day in every part of the world.

A few of them, women and men, are with us in this hall today. Among them, for instance, are a Military Observer from Senegal who is helping to provide basic security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a Civilian Police Adviser from the United States who is helping to improve the rule of law in Kosovo; a UNICEF Child Protection Officer from Ecuador who is helping to secure the rights of Colombia’s most vulnerable citizens; and a World Food Programme Officer from China who is helping to feed the people of North Korea. The idea that there is one people in possession of the truth, one answer to the world’s ills, or one solution to humanity’s needs, has done untold harm throughout history — especially in the last century. Today, however, even amidst continuing ethnic conflict around the world, there is a growing understanding that human diversity is both the reality that makes dialogue necessary, and the very basis for that dialogue.

We understand, as never before, that each of us is fully worthy of the respect and dignity essential to our common humanity. We recognize that we are the products of many cultures, traditions and memories; that mutual respect allows us to study and learn from other cultures; and that we gain strength by combining the foreign with the familiar. In every great faith and tradition one can find the values of tolerance and mutual understanding. The Qur’an, for example, tells us that “We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other.” Confucius urged his followers: “when the good way prevails in the State, speak boldly and act boldly. When the State has lost the way, act boldly and speak softly.” In the Jewish tradition, the injunction to “love thy neighbour as thyself,” is considered to be the very essence of the Torah.

INDIVIDUALS MUST HAVE COMPASSION: This thought is reflected in the Christian Gospel, which also teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who wish to persecute us. Hindus are taught that “truth is one, the sages give it various names.” And in the Buddhist tradition, individuals are urged to act with compassion in every facet of life. Each of us has the right to take pride in our particular faith or heritage. But the notion that what is ours is necessarily in conflict with what is theirs is both false and dangerous. It has resulted in endless enmity and conflict, leading men to commit the greatest of crimes in the name of a higher power.

It need not be so. People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups. We can love what we are, without hating what –- and who — we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings. This will not be possible, however, without freedom of religion, of expression, of assembly, and basic equality under the law. Indeed, the lesson of the past century has been that where the dignity of the individual has been trampled or threatened –- where citizens have not enjoyed the basic right to choose their government, or the right to change it regularly –- conflict has too often followed, with innocent civilians paying the price, in lives cut short and communities destroyed.

OBSTACLES TO DEMOCRACY: The obstacles to democracy have little to do with culture or religion, and much more to do with the desire of those in power to maintain their position at any cost. This is neither a new phenomenon nor one confined to any particular part of the world. People of all cultures value their freedom of choice, and feel the need to have a say in decisions affecting their lives. No doubt, that is why the Nobel Committee says that it “wishes, in its centenary year, to proclaim that the only negotiable route to global peace and cooperation goes by way of the United Nations”. ENDS.

WHY WE MUST EMBRACE PEACEFUL OPTIONS – TERRIFIC HEADLINES

Globally, development is a social change that creates better living conditions for people. It is, therefore, understandable that the United Nations’ Human Development Index combines economic wealth with life expectancy and adult literacy. But “development is more than a simple increase in a country’s wealth. It also implies increasing people’s choices and consideration of economic issues like trade, governance, education, healthcare, gender rights, environmental protection, international aid, peacekeeping, famine, relief and strategies against HIV/AIDS” (Tim Forsyth) From all indications, it is not possible to attain economic development and social advancement in an atmosphere of conflict, tension and social rancour.  Furthermore, in all societies, development includes “economic policy reform, including deregulation; transparency reforms; including steps to assist administrative processes affecting trade and investment; public sector law service reform to strike the size of bureaucracies; public finance reform to promote auditing and accounting skills; judicial reform; commercial law reform; strengthening the civil society through public education and the reform of law enforcement agencies, eliminate internal corruption and enhance respect for human dignity” (Douglas North: Nobel Economics Laurette in his Nobel Acceptance Speech.)

On the other hand, peace connotes peaceful and harmonious co-existence of the various peoples of the world in a manner that would afford the people of a defined territory the means of dwelling in safety within its boundaries, and which guarantees assurance that all the people of the land may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want. Economic relation is another factor that is strongly considered by national security watchers. People all over the world have a vested interest in peace in order to carry on their economic relations. John Spanier, in his publication: ‘American Foreign Policy since World War II’, submits that “war impoverishes and destroys and creates ill-will among nations. Commerce however benefits all the participating states; the more trade, the greater number of individual interests involved.” He argues further: “War could be justified only by presuming noble purposes and completely destroying the immoral enemy who threatens integrity, if not the existence of salient principle”.  Such actions conflicts and threats to peace that result in violent disturbances have been based on the conviction that the enemy you don’t finish on time, will liquidate you in time.

There is a correlation between peace and security. The whole world, through the United Nations is conscious of the importance of peace as an essential ingredient of development. Paragraph 1 of article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ proclaims: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family; including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”  From: ‘The United Nations and Human Rights’ published by the UN Department of Public Information, 1984).

COMBATING TERRORISM No nation of the world is immune to conflicts and disorderly conducts. Various forms of manifestations of violence and conflicts, including political clashes, ethno-communal and religious disturbances, genocide and other forms of manifestations of crises and conflicts have not only arisen, but have become pronounced. Since the upsurge of terrorism in the late 1960s, there has been a serious trend of increasing terror. Bejjaoui Mohammed (1979)  asserts that: The targets and methods change, but the problem remains one of the challenges to international order. Greater vigilance and more direct counter-actions may have helped to control the problem, but offers no solution.  Political conflict and terrorism have increased concerns worldwide. The author points out that: ”Greater vigilance and more direct counter-actions may have helped to control the problem, but offers no solution” 

THREATS TO THE WORLD – UNITED STATES & CHINA TANGO As early as 1947, the General Assembly linked the enjoyment of human rights with the maintenance of international peace and security in a Resolution contained in the publication cited above, recall that “all Member States had pledged themselves to take joint and separate action to promote universal respect for, and observance of all forms of propaganda… designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.” Two years later, in 1949, in a Resolution entitled “Essentials of Peace”, the Assembly called upon every nation “to refrain from any threats or acts, direct or indirect, aimed at impairing the freedom, independence or integrity of any State, or at fomenting civil strife and subverting the will of the people in any State”. Obviously, the position taken by the United Nations was influenced by the Second World War which was fought between 1939 and 1945 and which dislocated several parts of the world and sadly, claimed many lives.

INTOLERANCE  Living together with fellow creation of God (human beings)  could be somehow difficult because human resources management is the most difficult aspect of management. Surprisingly, friction happens happens among members of family units. Yoruba says ”the tongue and mouth disagree atimes”.  It is impossible for humanity to think of a crises-free setting all the time.  But it is foolhardy not to think about the implications of dislocations to peace.  A recall is necessary here. The First World War which was fought in the opening of the 20th century left in its trail devastating occurrences. ”It was not too long before the world was caught in another serious conflict of devastating proportions between 1939 and 1945. With the intervention of nuclear weapons, and their first use in Hiroshima in August 1945, war would never be the same again. Humankind has acquired the deadly ability to destroy civilization. ”For instance, the Hiroshima bomb had the explosive power equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT, (i.e. 20 kilotons)  but the typical superpower weapons of 1991 were much more devastating and were measured in megatons (millions of tons of TNT)” .Hearst Magazine (1945)

Curiously, the world has over the years, continued to improve on the modernization of weapons of mass destruction. According to Gerald Segal, “the Soviet Union in August 1949, broke the American monopoly and shook the West’s complacency. In Washington, policy-makers, and mostly civilian ones at threat, began to conceive of nuclear weapons as instruments of deterrence. The age-old Roman concept, ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’, was adapted to argue that it you wanted to prevent nuclear war, it was best to be in a position to threaten the enemy with unacceptable damage if he chose to start one. ‘’This doctrine was remarkably crude, but it managed to prevent war between East and West.” (Gerald Segal, 1991) The United States and the Peoples Republic of China have the capacity to destroy the whole of humanity. We must pray that God would take absolute control to prevent both powerful nations that appear to be in permanent contention from destroying the world..

THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA It has been established that information is crucial to peace and development. Communication technology “has a great impact on world cohesion and provides improved access to national allies and traditional rivals” Mary B. Cassata and Molefi K. Asante (1979). The point being made here is that the Press is an agent of peace and development. It must play its role perfectly in the interest of peace and development. The Social Responsibility Theory of the Press, as highlighted in the publication cited above, includes “conflict resolution through discussion.” The authors assert that the ‘Agenda-Setting’ theory of the press places a great burden on the modern-day media to promote discourse and influence public opinion in favour of peace and development. What, therefore, follows is the need for us to erect a formidable barrier in the way of intolerance and racial, national or religious superiority. Let us downplay all those unreasonable statements that border on religious and ethnic intolerances.  Let’s embrace the maxim: “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.” – (Benjamin Franklin)

These must be viewed as criminal motives which must be halted in the interest of humanity. The whole world must be pro-active in stemming the tide of constant outbreaks of violence that is not restricted to any part of the globe. It is possible to contribute to peace and development by reasoning logically, speaking intelligently, as well as embarking on consultations and dialogue. We must be very firm in our commitment to the prevention of conflicts.

May the Good Lord Bless Nigeria!

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