“Peace is a product of Justice; it is not simply the absence of violence. All violent conflicts represent earlier failures of leadership, either by wrong-doing or by default. They represent failures at local levels, and especially at national levels.” This is from a speech delivered by the former President of Tanzania Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the International Peace Academy, New York in 1996.
What Mr. Nyerere expressed in connection with the process of attaining peace is true to a greater extent. Except for some bigots and lunatics, who may even partly succeed in illusioning gullible people’s mentality, most of the human beings have no intention of taking a path against peace and justice. As a matter of fact, millions of human beings suffering from injustices and discriminations have been misused by self-seeking leaders, who even persuade people to take the path of violence.
Globally, a huge amount of money is being spent on containing organized violence. But global phenomena have clearly demonstrated that using violence to control violence has never improved the situation but has instead exacerbated it ever since this method has been used. The more money is being spent on security and war, the more insecure people do feel because conflicts are growing at their own pace regardless of the scale of force and money being spent against them.
The US Administration had to face a budget deficit of about $500 billion in 2004 alone. Analysts said military spending was a major cause behind it (Independent, UK, June 6, 2004). The Pentagon awarded a contract of $4 billion for Star Wars Missile Defense to Northrop Grumman in June (ibid). This shows how the world’s model democracy is spending more money on military. According to the Washington Post of June 7, 2005, the world spent almost $1.035 trillion on defense in 2004. But it has not yet ascertained any better path for peace.
Permanent peace in human society can result from good governance and socio-economic justice.
Good governance and socio-economic justice become mere ideals in absence of ethically founded political thoughts and actions.
Ethical politics results from the construction and nurturing of morally healthy mindset of people. People’s mindset, in this context, has been the most ignored factor whereas consequences of people’s actions has been more debated.
As a matter of fact, the consequences of people’s thoughts have been completely forgotten. Because of this general tendency among us, we have been superficially talking of peace while paying little attention to the need of building psychological infrastructures of peace.
Although justice is not so easy to define, justice may be understood more as the degree of freedom to make choices in affluent nations. However, in poor nations, it may be regarded as a right to continue breathing with some bread. But a legally oriented concept of justice includes impartial and morally right treatment of all citizens or human beings in general. In practical terms, justice implies a good atmosphere for human beings to live with a sense of dignity.
Conscience, especially the one nurtured intellectually, believes that justice is more than material choices. A far more elaborated concept of justice in human society has been manifested in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights consisting of 30 Articles.
Human dignity set in the first Article provides a clear sense of the type of justice that human beings require. But human dignity as a comprehensive kind of justice requires to be supported by people’s political, civil, socio-economic and cultural rights. It clearly implies that the grassroot implementation of justice greatly founded on the specifications of the human rights declaration can provide a solid ground for stable peace.
The peace we often talk of is mainly a political peace that ensures people’s cooperativeness, absence of violence and smooth functioning of organs and institutions within the state. As the central nervous system of human society, political peace can pave the path for peace and stability in all other human spheres.
It would not be beyond reasonability that a more stable and reliable peace results from human development to which all sections or communities can have a satisfactory degree of access.