Two days ago, the world celebrated world peace day which is annually observed every 21st of September since 1998. The United Nations General Assembly declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples of the world.
Since then, the day has always been celebrated in plenty of ways, all geared towards promoting peace. From meditation groups and peaceful marches to art exhibitions and educational conferences, many places around the globe offer fun and inspiring ways to spread reconciliatory and non-violence messages.
Considering the volatility in many parts of the world, extremism and other political instabilities, this day should turn every person into a peace maker. Just like the late Mahatma Gandhi observed, “the change you wish to see in the world begins with you”. The peace we all wish to have must begin with each one of us, from our neighborhoods, local communities and national level to the regional and global level.
This year’s theme is, ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: Building blocks for peace’’. Indeed, development and peace have been two of the major concerns of national and international political economy since time immemorial. There have been many schools of thought regarding which comes first between peace and development. Others argue that peace creates development; others, on the other side, cite that development creates peace, while, interestingly, for other scholars, the two go hand in hand.
First and foremost, modern challenges of poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, water scarcity, social inequality, environmental degradation, diseases, corruption, racism and xenophobia, among others, pose challenges for peace and create fertile ground for conflict.
Addressing the root causes and drivers of conflict has been and continues to be a complex undertaking. Conflicts have multiple drivers, operate as systems, are often local and do not stop at state borders. Responses require the influence, huge amount of resources and commitment of different people and institutions, at different times.
Sustainable development contributes decisively to dissipation and elimination of these causes of conflict and provides the foundation for a lasting peace. Peace, meanwhile, reinforces the conditions for sustainable development and liberates the resources needed for societies to develop and prosper. Therefore, peace and development are inextricably intertwined and always complement each other.
Peace is the basis of development and development is the basis of peace. The development and economic growth, which are based on clear scientific basis and a sophisticated strategy, can only be strengthened by prevalence of security and political stability, which is consistent with the requirements of the citizen to get to the privileged position of development and progress.
People in better economic conditions are less likely to initiate violent conflict because they are more content and have more to lose from the physical danger and economic disruption that war or any form of conflict may bring. When people can accumulate economic assets securely, to provide them with a cushion in times of need, to improve their income, and to invest in and improve the economy, and can do so in a way that is fair to others, they not only have a stake in stability but are also more empowered.
Absence of war may be one of the parameters of measuring existence of peace; however, peace is not merely the absence of war. It is in reality a condition characterised by peaceful, cooperative and harmonious conduct of a population with a view to secure all-round sustainable development. Peace should be felt through various ways such as complacency, sense of belonging on the part of citizens, reduction of crimes and social violence, which, in turn, enhances national security in such a way that promotes development and creates a favourable investment environment. This induces local enterprises and attracts foreign investments, the driving force of economic development.
These blessings of security and stability are finally reflected on economic development, which is a lifeline for any society. Hence, security and stability have direct, long-term effects on the creation of a sound, competitive economic environment that have positive impacts on citizenry and society as a whole.
Today, we are seeing increases in the recurrence, longevity and diffusion of conflict, the incidence and severity of disasters, degradation of the environment, depletion of natural resources, transnational crimes, volatility of societies previously characterized as stable, financial crises and various forms of inequality. These trends are interrelated.
In conclusion, peace brings happiness among people. They are involved in development activities. Peace helps to promote people’s rights, democratic norms and values. It helps to create the feeling of love, trust, tolerance, and brotherhood among people. No tangible development process can go ahead without peace and harmony. Peace and development are twin prerequisites which go hand in hand.