Global order needed to tackle mankind’s woes

Questions of terrorism, militancy, insurgency and other forms of organized violence that wreak destruction, death and suffering must be understood within the paradigm of “good” and “evil”.

Global order needed to tackle mankind’s woes

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Questions of terrorism, militancy, insurgency and other forms of organized violence that wreak destruction, death and suffering must be understood within the paradigm of “good” and “evil”. The acts of violence carried out by lone individuals or small, non-state groups of people, bring great tragedy into other people’s lives. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that greater damage is done when terrorism is state-sponsored. Terrorism of any kind destroys efforts to establish peace among nations.

Terrorism is rooted in every human being’s need to belong to a group of peers. In these times it has become ideologically acceptable to indiscriminately murder innocents to achieve a terrorist’s goal. Every year hundreds of people are killed through diabolical attacks resulting in untold pain and destruction. The terrorists, like the egotist, somehow cannot consider the feelings or the life of others as important. They require instant, exact and complete obedience to their orders and tenets. Part of the background to current waves of terrorism is the lack of a proper balance between the liberty of the individual and the needs of society.

The right of an individual to act as he or she wishes can never be absolute. Such craving for extreme freedom leads to sedition and overstepping the bounds of propriety and debases the individual to depravity and wickedness, no better than a brute. Even when the cause which the terrorist group espouses is driven by a sense of injustice, there is no real justification for acts of violence. The latest terrorist attack in a concert hall in Moscow on 22 March once more demonstrates how negligence on the part of state security has resulted in the death of nearly 200 innocent souls and injury to hundreds.


As the 20th century ended and the 21st century opened there were great hopes of peace and non-violent conflict resolution only to be smashed to bits by the explosive “9/11” terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington in 2001 and USA’s retaliatory wars against Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003. In the two decades since then there have been terror attacks in London, Madrid, Bali, New Delhi, Mumbai, Moscow, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Karachi, Lahore, Colombo and Kabul. The attacks on southern Israel on 7 October 2023 and their resultant backlash led to the destruction of Gaza and death of some 30,000 innocent people.

When will these gross acts of violent insanity stop? Is there a way out? Joseph Nye, in his ‘The Paradox of American Power,’ states: “This terrorist attack is a terrible symptom of deeper changes that are occurring in the world. A technological revolution in information and communications has been diffusing power away from governments and empowering individuals and groups to play roles in world politics – including wreaking massive destruction – that were once reserved for governments of states. Privatization has been increasing, and terrorism is the privatization of war.” Religion is also frequently used by terrorists as an excuse for their actions, despite the fact that every religion forbids murder, and demands that individuals live in harmony.

Only a united world authority with sufficient powers can tackle the menace of terrorism and a host of other global challenges that make daily headlines in the media. A United Nations Convention for prevention of terrorism is still a work in progress. In addition to treaties that address particular manifestations of terrorism, the international community has endeavoured to develop treaties that address terrorism on a more inclusive basis. India first proposed this convention in 1996.

It has been pushing for the treaty consistently at the Sessions of the UN General Assembly, in 2014 and again in 2016. Although consensus has not yet been reached on the wording of the comprehensive terrorism convention, discussions have yielded three separate protocols that aim to tackle terrorism: International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted on 15 December 1997; International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted on 9 December 1999, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, adopted on 13 April 2005.

For over one-and-half-century, the worldwide Bahá’i community has been labouring alongside people of goodwill from diverse social strata all of whom are longing, in heart and mind, for equality, justice, and a society built on moral and worthy human qualities. However, beyond shared ideals and aspirations, many are also searching for effective and practical means for the betterment of society. But every political and economic school of thought is overwhelmed by and unequal to the scale, nature, complexity, and interconnectedness of the challenges; their proponents are themselves confounded and perplexed.

Irrespective of the useful insights these schools of thought may contain, the assumptions underlying the present world order – from the nature and identity of the human being to perspectives related to power and competition – are inadequate for a humanity which today stands at the threshold of its collective maturity. The world is thus facing a profound and far-reaching crisis that is destabilizing and disrupting its order. Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’i Faith, had prophetically written: “We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tired and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy.

They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.” The writings of the Bahá’i Faith envisage a world federal system ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its finite resources, blending and embodying the ideals of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – one planet, one global family, one progressive future for all who live on earth.

One essential prerequisite would be for all major powers on earth to relinquish their “veto power in the Security Council”, give up war as an instrument of their hegemonistic policy and allow the United Nations system to evolve into a world super-state in whose favour all the member-states would willingly secede national sovereignty, craft out a just and fair system of global trade, disband their national military forces in favour of the world government, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. Such aspirations should not be dismissed as utopian ideas. There is no alternative.

World’s leadership must take affirmative action at the earliest possible opportunity, particularly at this juncture when the world is just 90 seconds from doomsday as per the latest announcement of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and abundantly confirmed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres. Freedom from terrorism is just one important element in the larger scheme of things – climate emergency, unprecedented economic crisis, massive social breakdown, dangers of nuclear war, disruptive technologies led by Artificial Intelligence, to list just a few.

Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behaviour, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth. It is my firm optimistic conviction that root causes of terrorism in all its forms can be curbed not through constant conflicts among nations and within each sovereign state but by enforceable world law, effective global governance and peace education.

(The writer is an independent researcher and social worker working with a number of nongovernmental organizations in the fields of education, environment, disarmament and peace. Views expressed are personal.)