Peace needed to tackle global emergencies

Imagine talking about peace when according to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, the world is just…

Peace needed to tackle global emergencies

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (File Photo: AFP)

Imagine talking about peace when according to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, the world is just one misunderstanding, just one miscalculation, away from global catastrophe, due to the ongoing war in Europe. The Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists already warned humanity in January this year, when it timed the Doomsday Clock, that we are just 90 seconds away from planetary devastation. They gave three reasons: nuclear war, accidental or deliberate; climate emergencies, and disruptive technologies.

No wonder, the theme chosen for this year’s International Day of Peace is “Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals”. It is a call to immediate collective action that recognizes our individual and collective responsibility to foster peace.

Why has humanity strayed so far and suffered so great a decline? How will it redeem itself during this critical period? As a believer, I am convinced that even with the best of recognised decision makers and statesmen however disinterested their motives, however concerted their action, how- ever unsparing their zeal and devotion to the cause of peace and well being of humanity, we sorely need Divine assistance to restore our sanity. The futility of humans in the face of current global conflicts and catastro- phes should not be blamed on their intellect, but rather on the improper channeling of emotions and moral aspirations.


If one were to take stock of the current situation of our planet the goals that I have identified are the following. These are eight major emergencies that are pushing humanity to the brink, mass extinction: Weapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical, and nuclear), their rampant proliferation. It appears that no lessons were learnt even after the colossal destruction caused by World War II. Instead, whole new range of weapons systems began to be produced compelling nation after nation to squander away their precious resources for swift annihilation of masses of human populations.

Poverty is widespread despite rapid growth in the Gross Domestic Product of every nation state. Three quarters of the human family lives on a real income of USD 4 per day (= Rs. 350) or less at a time when the interconnectedness of the planet is only accelerating; technology is bridging the gap and providing an increasingly wired and transparent world where differences are glaringly obvious.

Energy demand is skyrocketing despite great strides in the development of renewable sources of energy in which India has launched several global initiatives. The truth is that the world is running out of fossil fuels also referred to as cheap oil. Unless the global community unitedly addresses these challenges transition to a cleaner and greener world would be a utopian dream.

Climate emergencies have become recurrent and devastating phenomena. No place on earth is safe or protected. The resultant human suffering further increases the eco- nomic burdens and destabilizing of the systems of governance; crop failures, famine, food riots, and social breakdowns.

Water crises: Freshwater is in short supply in many parts of the world, ground water depletion and aquifers running dry is forcing more and more countries to seek technologies for desalination of sea water which is still a very expensive proposition for most countries in the global south. At the same time global warming melts snow and glacier ice, which are impacting agriculture and food production. Water wars cannot be ruled out and cleaning up of polluted rivers is a long-term prospect. The recent UN World Water Summit pro-vides a road map to address the crises, but success depends on nations willing to collaborate.

Financial emergency: With a global GDP of USD 100+ trillion, the world financial system is not serving the well-being of the people; it only makes the rich richer and lives of the poor more harrowing. The profits of powerful transnational and multinational institutions only create greater instability; some 125 countries are falling behind in servicing their debts. Such a situation would exacerbate global financial chaos and break-downs.
Sustainability emergency is fully addressed in the Agenda 2030—Sustainable Development Goals but many countries in the bid to enhance economic growth and ape the developed countries keep increasing their demand for resources. Without eco-friendly life-styles and practices the end result would be ecocide because the unsustainable demands exceed the regenerative capacity of the Earth.

Biodiversity extinction: Between one-third and one-half of all plant and animal species are currently threat- ened with extinction as the web of life on earth is being devastated by humanity’s burgeoning population, competitive and exploitative growth.

All of the above eight emergencies could completely destroy human civilization, as we know it. Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’i Faith, over 150 years ago wrote to the rulers and the generality of humankind, “Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements….

Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind and bettereth the condition thereof.” “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
The supreme task before all humanity is cooperation and reciprocity. The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity the sooner humankind will be able to avert the
global catastrophe that is hanging like the sword of Damocles over the head of every man, woman, youth and child.

The choice before this genera- tion: Devastate or transform present day humanity. We must urgently resolve to utilize all international frameworks, laws, instruments, bilateral and multilateral treaties that pro- mote the peace, well-being and happiness, the knowledge, culture and industry, the dignity, value and status of the entire human race.

With all our technological prowess and advances in the means of communication and travel (including outer-space) we have no place to escape from our global predicament. We are being called to rise above the divisions and differences of the past. Working together we can build a promising future for our children and grandchildren.

Choosing sustainable living will require billions of persons to come together with a level of spiritual consciousness, social consensus, and commitment that has never before existed in human history.

Only such an awakening of the most urgent and uncompromising necessity, would steer the masses of people to choose a path as bold, inclusive, and collaborative as is demanded by our times. Looking at the inevitable shocks and hardships that lie ahead, will the arbiters of human institutions gathered at the United Nations headquarters unitedly resolve to implement the Global Goals arising out of universal values and the accumulated store of human knowledge generated through scientific enquiry? This is a plea of a world that is hungry for peace.

(The writer is a social worker and independent researcher serving a number of non-governmental and semi-autonomous government institutions. The views expressed are personal.)